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Report and Critique: The April 09 “No War But Class War” Demonstration [Berlin]

Berlin. Yesterday ( April 09, 2022) there was a demo in Berlin adressing the war in Ukraine and the rearmament madness. There was already criticism in the run-up to the demo based on anarchist, anti-colonial and feminist perspectives [1] from the AK war “starts here, stop it here!”. I considered it somewhat shabby to publish this criticism at short notice in the run-up to the demo, instead of influencing the organizers of the demo and getting involved. I wanted to build my own opinion, admittedly, my expectations were low after the call and the participating groups, but maybe I will experience a positive surprise.

Image above: “No war but class war”. Archive image: Horsens, Denmark, April 2020.

Originally published by Indymedia DE. Translated by Riot Turtle.

The only positive aspect was that Russia was clearly marked as the aggressor in all speeches. The prayer mill-like way of speaking at the beginning of each speech, however, gave the impression that this was a condition imposed by the demo organizers rather than an honest analysis of the speakers. In other parts of the speeches, people got a different impression. Sanctions and arms deliveries are absolutely to be rejected, NATO should withdraw from the countries neighboring Russia, in general NATO, NATO, NATO…

In one speech it was said that the priority must be to support the people in Ukraine and to end the war. As valid as this claim is, it was clearly missed by the demo. People who are murdered or raped by drunken Russian soldiers in Ukraine, who have to suffer hunger and thirst because their city has been besieged and shelled for weeks, don’t give a damn about the position of NATO!
Even outside Ukraine hardly anyone is interested in NATO in the current war, and where people do, they are drawn to NATO (like Finland, Sweden, Kosovo…). These contradictions were consistently tuned out and ignored at the demo. It was preferred to use ideological thinking patterns from the 70s to feed Putin’s narrative.

In this respect, the criticism that the demo was Eurocentric has unfortunately been confirmed.

In a flyer distributed for this year’s Easter march the following was written: “The Western governments only (!) have to be reasonable, stop the sanctions and arm supplies and withdraw NATO from the Baltic States, then the war will soon be over.” So translated: stroke Putin a lot and do capitalist business with him, then everything will be fine. A position that was widespread up to the start of the war, even in the highest German government circles!

“Sanctions have to be rejected because they only affect the Russian working class”: First of all, this is factually wrong. The sanctions are directed primarily against Russian capital, what affects people more are the “self-sanctions” of Western corporations. Moreover, soaked with massive propaganda, 70-80% of Russians support the war. Rising prices are one of the very few ways to reach these people and raise doubts about the official Russian narrative.

The fact that sanctions are one of the few peaceful ways of working towards an end to the war was simply tuned out at the demonstration. Likewise the question of what else? The fact that some war mongers also consider the sanctions ineffective and demand a no-fly zone, i.e. participation in the war by Central and Western European powers, consequently also was not an issue at the demonstration.

The important question for Germany regarding energy imports from Russia was only addressed in the speech by “Ende Gelände” and (if I listened correctly) was not clearly answered. Actually, this issue could be the start of an interesting left-wing debate. For “ordinary people ” in this country, an immediate import stop would be fatal due to job losses in the manufacturing industry and exploding prices. On the other hand, from a climate and Ukrainian perspective, it would be exactly the right thing to do.

In summary, the demo hardly or only superficially addressed the central questions for many people regarding war in Ukraine (such as how best to end the war without further escalation, energy imports, no-fly zone, European countries willing to join NATO, how to support the Russian opposition/people in Ukraine). A cutting-edge analysis must address the issues that are central for people instead of indulging in rough outlined phrases.

A starting point could be to listen to people in the post-Soviet space. Read the analyses on avtonom.org [2] or what Russian/Belarusian ABCs write. By the way, NATO is mentioned in very few texts, simply because except from Putin’s propaganda it does not play a role in the conflicts in the region.

Putin’s interventions in Georgia, Kazakhstan, Chechnya and Ukraine can rather be explained by a distorted image of the “Great Russian family”. Following the motto: “What, you are smearing the unity and reputation of our family, you have to pay for that!”, this also explains the sometimes genocidal character of Putin’s wars. In this respect, the critique of AK that if anything, Putin’s war explains itself with patriarchal explanatory patterns rather than with NATO/capitalism rhetoric is justified as well.

The fact that the ideological masterminds and theories behind Putin’s orientation towards nationalism, imperialism and patriarchy, e.g. the proto-fascist Alexander Dugin, were not mentioned either, despite the participation of several anti-fascist groups in the demonstration, only strengthens my impression that the demo basically missed the point.

Finally, something tactical. Why a mass demonstration (what a hubris…) which is about the war in Ukraine and (according to the speeches) the interests of the workers here and over there, doesn’t even dare to pass the Russian embassy and then leads through the tourist and fat cat zones where definitely no workers live, remains the secret of the organizing groups.

With this in mind for the future, listen to people here and over there what stresses them and what they need (the word is that militant anarchist groups in Ukraine are actually happy about the delivery of arms…). This is certainly not a pigeonholed dusty ideology. Up-to-date analyses must result from what is, and not from how people would like it to be. Communist sects actually do not belong in any demo alliance, at least 5 people are deterred for every person they attract. That explains the poor number of 500-600 people who participated in the demonstration.

However, this critique is not only directed at the demo alliance (especially Perspektive Selbstverwaltung – English: perspective of self-administration -, which I actually appreciate a lot!) but in large parts also to undogmatic groups, autonomous groups, IL, etc. who, in the face of the biggest butchery in Europe for a long time, prefer not to do anything at all, rather than to do something wrong.

Notes

[1] Critique on Kontrapolis (German): https://kontrapolis.info/6781/

[2] We have published several articles from Avtonom: https://enoughisenough14.org/tag/avtonom/


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