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Riot Turtle: “Ritualized protests are not something our rulers are worried about”

The COVID-19 outbreak is a time-mark. A pre-revolutionary phase, the only thing we do not know yet in which direction things will turn. At the moment the cards are sorted and shuffled, and when the German left dont want to be crushed by the (far) right, some things need to be changed.

Published by Enough 14. Written by Riot Turtle. Image above: Archive image May Day 1987, Berlin.

The ongoing US revolt, that started after a white cop murdered George Floyd, is, apart from police violence and killings, also related to COVID 19. In an editorial, comrades of Its Going Down wrote: “The COVID pandemic has highlighted with terrifying clarity that Black people in America have been placed in a class of their own at the bottom of society.” Black Americans died of Covid-19 at three times the rate of white people. The current economic crisis is hitting black people disproportional hard as well. The revolt is now spreading across the globe. In the past week there were clashes in France, Belgium, the UK and many other countries. Many of the people that take part in these clashes are living in the suburbs, the French banlieues [1], and the suburbs of Brussels and London.

On Saturday, Hamburg police showed where they are standing. Riot cops attacked a black Live Matters demo several times. After that there were minor skirmishes, as some kids put up a few small improvised barricades. Some bottles and stones were thrown to the cops. Some eyewitnesses spoke about riot cops hunting people across the city centre. In the early evening hours the cops kettled a group of 39 kids and put them against the wall of the main trian station (Hbf). Many of them were minors, the youngest was 13 years old. Eyewitnesses told German media outlet Zeit, that most of the kids weren’t even on the demo. But they had something in common: they weren’t white. They are subjected to racial profiling and other discriminatory police practices day by day. Many of them came from the suburbs…

Debates are important, but increasingly rare. Large parts of the left seem to prefer to replicate the state narrative of the importance and success of the lockdown. They even seem to be immune for the fact that the Rober Koch Institut (RKI) [2] stated that at the beginning of March, the basic reproduction number, the R value [3], was still around 3.0, fell to values around 1.0 by March 22 and was around 0.9 on April 9 [4], i.e. the contagion curve started to go down before the lockdown started and this is just one of the contradictions in the state narrative.

There are of course exceptions, but unfortunately large parts of the left are not really willing to discuss the state narrative. Some try to put you in the “conspiracy-theorist” corner when you try to open a debate about it, others disagree with you but without saying anything about their own position. In other words: There is no real debate.

No real debates in times of a world in turmoil, after unprecedented state of emergencies across the planet and a massive economic crisis. On top of that the far right is still on the rise in these days of growing instability.

In the past days we could see how ritualized protests are being used to try to break the revolt in the so-called USA. Its something that probably would work here in Germany pretty well. Its the combination of looting, riots, sabotage and peaceful actions, the diversity of tactics, that makes the ruling class nervous. Not thousands of people that march around the block with a few banner and go home again without anything else happening.

The instrumentalization of ritualized protests by the state and the lack of debate makes a break inevitable between those who are still going for nothing less than revolutionary changes and those who are satisfied with reforms. We cannot overcome capitalism with virtual protests. The typical regulated “event” protests on the streets, when the state is willing to allow these protests (by law, or after court cases), will not be enough either. Whatever radical language is being used, language alone is not enough. Ritualized, virtual or regulated on the streets, protests are not something our rulers are worried about. What we need is resistance with a diversity of tactics.

Society is more than a virus, and capitalism is actually killing people every day. This civilisation is dying, and when the climate- and other crises escalate, they will remember how easy it was to lock people up in their houses. Its time to open a debate how to intensify the struggle between those who want to abolish capitalism and the state. If we succeed we will defeat the fascist far right as well. We can’t go for less.

Times are changing, and they are changing fast. A revolt will most likely not come from the “usual suspects”. The revolts in the past decade have shown that again and again. But we should be ready and prepare.

No Justice, no peace!

Against all authority!


Riot Turtle, June 8, 2020.


[1] In France, a banlieue is a suburb of a large city. From 18 April, Paris saw several nights of violent clashes over police treatment of ethnic minorities in Banlieue during the coronavirus lockdown.

[2] The Robert Koch Institute (abbreviated RKI) is a German federal government agency and research institute responsible for disease control and prevention. It is located in Berlin and Wernigerode. As an upper federal agency, it is subordinate to the Federal Ministry of Health.

[3] In epidemiology, the basic reproduction number, or basic reproductive number (sometimes called basic reproduction ratio or basic reproductive rate), denoted R0 (pronounced R nought or R zero (pronounced R nought or R zero), of an infection can be thought of as the expected number of cases directly generated by one case in a population where all individuals are susceptible to infection.

[4] Matthias an der Heiden, Osamah Hamouda: Estimation of the current development of the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic in Germany – Nowcasting. In: Epidemiological Bulletin (In the journalEpidemiological Bulletin, the Robert Koch Institute publishes official announcements and scientific papers on reportable diseases) No. 17, 2020, page 13-14

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