G8: Summary of Evaluations

14. September 2007, Ulla’s Amazing Wee Blog

After the G8, a whole lot of debriefs and reflective summaries were published by
the protesters. There were differences in opinions depending on the groups’
characters, nationalities, examining questions, time of debrief, questions in
focus and tactical preferences.

Most questions examined were the effects of the protests, the question of
militancy in protests and violence and consequences for the future.

During the weekend June 30st and July 1st, activists in Netherlands met in
Amsterdam to discuss the G8 activities. The tone of their feedback is
light-hearted and humorous, starting off with the statements:
“It is difficult to make deals with clowns” says a represent of the Dutch Clown
Army with a serious face. Around him people nod their heads in understanding.
About the effect of the protests, the report of the feedback session claims:
“The roads around the Kempinski Hotel were all effectively blocked and the three
self organised camps (with up to 7000 people in each) around Heiligendamm were
certainly a logistical tour-de-force, but everybody who had to be in the hotel
seems to have been flown in with helicopters or shipped in by boat…”. But
otherwise the reflection does not point out anything significantly new or

The London debrief meeting notes show a strong similarity to the Dutch ones in
that it took place immediately after the protests and focused solely on
practicalities. Similarly, it also tried to abstain from making any criticisms
towards specific groups policies and practices. But it also revealed the split
in protest locations into the civil disobedience, sit-down tactics of the
“Block G8” and some of the more militant anti-capitalists. In regards of the
internationality of the protests, the subjective feeling was that there were
about “70% German, 30% internationals there”. The main conclusion of the
feedback session seems to be the same as in the Dutch session: trying to
improve the flaws of this year’s protests for the next.

The Japanese reflection “Howling Coalition: the Anti-globalization Movement
Sprouts Freedom and Diversity” by Shiro Yabu and translated by Yuzo Sakuramoto
was relayed via the email list at the start of August. As the next G8 meeting
will take place in Japan in 2008, for many anti-globalisation activists it is
important to know the effects of the Western European protests on Asian
citizens. To start of his introduction, Shiro Yabu is focusing on the
international contingent and the tactical diversity of the anti-G8 protests:
“To oppose this, many social movements and activists from many places in Europe,
Africa, the U.S., and Asia mobilized and developed a huge demonstration.”
In his reflection, he criticises ATTAC and shows particular attraction to and
curiosity into the behaviour of the Black Block, which he enthusiastically
tries to explain to the Japanese protest movement:
“The Black Block has been the focus of attention as being a group that is both
troublesome and awe-inspiring at the same time. They were always viewed as
outsiders, but at the same time they were trusted by many activists because
they were the original group who opposed the tyranny of the IMF/World Bank, and
stood up against the injustice of the Davos Conference (World Economic Forum)
and developed the international protest movement against the neo-liberal
globalization. Their achievement is significant in the history of activism.”
His reflection is immersed with accounts of his personal experiences during the
days of protests, and then he finally summarises up the effect of the protest:
“We were not able to stop the G8 Summit, but our coalition besieged it.”
He then continues to formalise his wishes for the future:
“The anti-globalization movement has not yet ended. Actually it has just begun.
The venue for the next G8 Summit is Japan. Militants from all over the world
including Asian countries will mobilize in Lake Toya, Hokkaido. We must
accommodate them and make efforts so that they will be able to fight as fully
as possible. […] We call for the coalition of movements.”

An autonomous Canadian group was also impressed by the Black Block as they write
in their essay “A. Anti. Anti-Capitalista!”: “ Burning cars and fighting the
cops in Canada? […] The national mythology of Canadians being moral, kind, and
above all peaceful people leaves very little room to articulate rage and
The writers go then on to glorify the more militant tactic of rioting, albeit in
a funny version:
“Similar to love, a riot can sometimes take us by surprise, when we think we are
not prepared, but that if one has an open disposition towards love, like riots,
it will allow one to seize the opportunities, and the situations.”
They then go on to talk about the failure of Plan B(erlin); for the Black Block
to withdraw from the G8 summit location to riot in the capital. “Arguably it
would have been a suicide mission to try to start the riot as we were
practically on a 1:1 ratio of black blockers to cops. And they do have the
In the end, they finish with the hope for a new era of a Black Block in Canada,
especially to oppose the G8 in Canada in 2010 and the Olympics in British

However, the Northamerican Emeritus Professor Jean Grossholtz focused in her
analysis “Once Again Into The Fray?” more on the comparison of the “Myth of
Seattle” to the G8 protests in Heiligendamm, something completely irrelevant to
most of the European activists.
Her experiences about the G8 protests are totally different from the above:
“The G8 opposition was committed to confrontation and to non-violent civil
She also drops in more educational, theoretical background on why to resist the
G8 than the previously examined activists’ reflections. “Delegitimizing the G8”
was described to be the main goal of the protests by her, but she does not make
a comment about if this aim was achieved. She also points out the
counter-summit and priorities the church links: “One stream of the march
emerged from an ecumenical celebration in a church organized by Jubilee South,
the group working to cancel the debts of countries of the global south.”
Amazingly, she sees the increasing police repression as a success of the
anti-globalisation protests; she also merges her personal experiences to
support her analysis and she points out perceived misrepresentations in the
mainstream media. Mainly she elaborates on the theoretical subjects of the
protests with a specific US focus; such as the US government’s failures in
policies such as healthcare, free trade’s devastating effect on the poor,
Guantanamo Bay and the War in Iraq.

Tadzio Mueller and Kriss Sol examine the effects and state of the protest
movement in their academic article: “A tale of two victories? Or, why winning
becomes precarious in times of absent antagonisms”. They research in depth if
the protests influenced the public perception of the G8 - culminating in this
rather abstract sentence:
“Since the Cologne summit in 1999, and very much in tandem with the emergence of
‘our’ movements, the primary role of the G8 has changed: from adjudicator of
competing interests to imperial institution negotiating the difficulties of
emerging forms of global authority.”
They also pretty much summarise the main feeling of a victory of the protest
movement AND the G8, but are not able to give a satisfactory explanation for
“So we take the affect seriously and agree: we won, somehow. But we have to be
realistic and admit that ‘they’ did too. So both sides won – which raises the
question: how is that possible?”

Rather amusing is also this article: “m&m (masses & militancy): - a contribution
to the discussion on demonstrations and mass militancy”. “If we obey to all
bullshit, they will ever think of new things“, they write. Somehow, their
article is a wish list for how to change future demonstrations rather than an
evaluation of the last one. Here some of the best quotes:
“The endless side-banners-only-1-meter-50-anymore-discussion should finally come
to an end. And this end can´t be that we tear apart all our beautiful banners
with all the important things written on them!”
“And bottles and stones thrown from the 10th or 15th row only hurt our own
people! Just move a bit further to the front and try to realistically see what
you can do. “

In “one swallow doesn´t make a summer” a Berlin activist describes the collapse
of the autonomous movement during the G8 protests. The anonymous “one of us”
writes on 17th of june 2007:“The black block simply seemed to no longer exist.
In the TV-show of Sabine Christiansen speculation was made as to whether it had
been in the forests the whole time…as amusing as it is to read expertise
articles about ‘what makes the hooded man tick?’ in the yellow press, in the
end we were [..] not visible […] .”
As a reason, the author gives the reason of narrow-mindedly sticking to
previously developed plans without taking recent circumstances into account: “
In nearly all working groups a strong tunnel-view with a tendency to autism

For the Antifaschist Left Berlin their article: “Five fingers are a fist” is a
possibility to make excuses about their spokesperson who disassociated their
group from the protesters clashing with the police at the main demonstration on
Saturday. The actions of this spokesperson contributed to a major split in the
movement, which the group is keen to mend. So they solely blame the mainstream
media, and also in turn declared the blockades, which they helped to organise,
a full victory.
“The media published every lie propaganda had to offer, the last word in all
news-reports was given to the spokesperson of the police. […] But even from the
spokesperson of the IL, who is a member of our group, there were dissociating
statements given in more than one interview. We were overpowered at that time
by the effective power of the discourse of violence, we couldn´t cope with the
onslaught of the media an the force of the smear campaign, and in some of our
statements we fell into the jargon of media and police. ”

The evaluation of the Interventionist Left makes the interesting point that the
anti-G8 protest has been the biggest mobilisation of the radical left in
Germany for the last years. They also point out that the “demonstration on the
2nd of June took place on the 40th anniversary of Benno Ohnesorg being shot by
police- a symbolic date for the start of the progressive and emancipatory
Left.” In their essay they also distance themselves from any disassociative
statements made by their spokesperson about the protesters involved in the
confrontation with the police during the Rostock demonstration.

Disappointingly, the Radical Left Nuernberg actually doesn’t really examine the
G8 protests in their end-of-June essay: “1 : 0 for the movement - get the
spirit of Rostock”, but starts off a tirade against their local newspaper,
Nuernberger Nachrichten (NN).
“The numerous blockades against [Neo-] Nazis and war, demonstrations against
social robbery and the meeting of the [German] Ministers of the Interiors here
in Nürnberg were experienced by most people in a completely different way than
the allegedly “independent” NN reported. Put together with a picture from
Berlin, they turned a camp fire into a burning barricade. Quite often then
those distortions of facts were in turn used by the police to restrict basic
freedoms - like the ban on the local anti-G8-demo to protest in front of the
chemical company Novartis.”

With the contradiction of the disappointing local politics battles also Gregor
Samsa von NoLager Bremen. He summarises therefore in the latest edition of the
newspaper “AK- Analyse und Kritik” the lack of the G8 protests to actually in
general influence the new wave of neoliberal policies, even if just in Germany.
He also convincingly points out frequent examples during the G8 protest, that in
addition every time collective, group and individual wishes of the protesters
collided, the personal or group preferences were carried out without concern on
the influence on the majority of the protesters.

Johannes Lauterbach’s and Carol Bergin’s summary of experiences was published in
“Rundbrief Sozialimpulse”. Their very educational article includes a whole lot
of background and historical information, but also focuses on criticising the
mainstream media:
“ Around 2000 participants from 40 different countries took part in a 2 day
Alternative Summit with 130 Workshops tackling burning questions of the day
including global justice, environment, climate change and sustainable energy,
the so called “European partnership agreements” (EPAS), education, war +
militarisation, migration and racism, labour, social and gender issues. A
coalition of 39 different organisations who initiated the summit, spanned the
global grassroots movement Via Campesina, Focus on the Global South, Attac
Germany, Medico International, through to the more traditional NGO´s such as
Greenpeace and Misereor, and thus offered a wide spectrum of speakers and
expertise on all these topics. Nonetheless the mainstream media, continuing to
speak of an amorphous mass of non-articulate, anti-everything protesters,
managed to avoid giving any report on the summit, its concerns, arguments, or
As a further proof, that the media would be out to discriminate against the
protesters, they give the most prominent example of the mainstream media
misreporting: “The mass media´s hunger to denounce the more radical parts of
the protesters as violent became obvious, when a reporter of the dpa (German
Press Agency) misquoted one of the speakers [famous intellectual Walden Bello]
during the opening rally, reporting he had called to “carry the war into the
demonstration, because with peaceful means we achieve nothing”. In reality -
confirmed through documented on video-footage, which was available online the
same evening - he had spoken about the war in Irak and Afghanistan asking to
“to bring the [theme of] war into the meeting, because without peace there can
be no justice”.

To draw conclusions, most of the evaluations did not achieve their aims to
influence the future of the movement significantly. The majority of the
reflections from the autonomous groups call for more militancy, the liberal
wing blames the lack of mass support on the mainstream media, groups and
individuals involved in the organisation of protests declared these to be a
success, and the intellectuals and academics suggest global links of the
protest’s significance to everything and everywhere, therefore declaring it a
defeat against changing the neoliberal agenda.

If there is something new, refreshing and surprising, it is the musings of
foreign individual activists being dropped in this weird German protest
situation; often with severe language problems, who try to make sense of the
events in their reporting.
As for example Boris Kagarlitsky reports in the “The Blockade of Heiligendamm”
for the Transnational Institute:
“Somewhere in the region of the eastern gates a group of Young Communists from
the Siberian city of Barnaul got lost. Not knowing German, and with little
understanding of what was going on, the group mounted something like their own
guerrilla war. Their main achievement they considered to have been the
destroying of a fence, topped with barbed wire, which they considered to be the
first line of police fortifications. Next day the evening news showed an elderly
farmer asking, with various bitter curses, ‘what idiots smashed the fence around
my orchard?’ The farmer’s wife blamed the police for everything. Whatever the
case, the victims intended to extract compensation for the damage from the
federal authorities.”