“Sooner or later you will all be in trouble.”

Balkan Anarchists of Northern Europe:

As it turns out, the words of an undercover cop in Berlin's Kreuzberg district
during the street fights of the Walpurgis night some weeks before the G8 summed
up the German police's reasoning in repressing our counter-summit. We saw how
tactfully they treated Saturday's 2nd June mass demo and the blockades that
followed. And yet the violent raids of housing collective projects and old
haunts of Berlin and Hamburg outlined that they had decided to attack, and did
so successfully, in two levels. First, they targeted those who got in trouble
later, comrades known to them from the past: Anarchists, leftists and other
activists were given the hint by house raids days before the summit. Then there
were those who got in trouble sooner, that is, as they joined the movement. All
it took was making the mistake of finding oneself at the front line: Water
cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets proved the undercover cop of Kreuzberg

For those who have been in trouble some time now and for those who confronted
the police for the first time the counter-summit of Rostock was surely some key
point. You could see this in the eyes and words of people who, even before
starting off their journey to Germany, spoke out clearly: If mistakes of recent
summits were to be repeated, Heiligendamm could easily, without any sense of
exaggeration, mark the end of this movement - what we like to loosely describe
as the movement against the globalisation of sovereignty.

So what happened? The next few paragraphs comprise a first attempt of writing
down and analysing our experiences from the counter-summit of Heiligendamm. The
text might, at some points, seem aggressive; yet this is only because we have an
agony and lust to see all of the energy concentrated in Northern Germany in
early June finally get channelled through more effective directions. We
therefore ask that the stark style of the text is not misunderstood: This is
nothing but a cry for thinking more before we act. Yes, mistakes were made; yet
the fact that we all found ourselves there, that we are still standing, talking
of our experiences, is a statement in itself: Not only are we not finished, but
we are arising again and sooner or later we'll be stronger than ever!

The Limits of Activism

Imagine: A young demonstrator arrives at one of the three camps that hosted us,
all in the perimeter of the red zone. In which of the three they ended up was
probably decided by random yet it largely mediated their experience of the
counter-summit. For example, the atmosphere in the camp of Rostock (largely
dominated by people of the organised/reformist Left) was entirely different to
that of Reddelich (with a mass presence of individuals from the
anarchist/anti-authoritarian scene) and that, in turn, must have been entirely
different to the Wichmannsdorf camp, for which we have no personal opinion
since we did not make it there. All in all, we did not find each other; this
was the precise problem in an otherwise perfectly organised plan of actions.
True: since our aim was set as being the complete blockade of the red zone our
scattering in three camps, one convergence centre and tens of small affinity
groups was necessary and largely effective. Yet in the name of a largely
symbolic success (the temporary blockading of the red zone) we sacrificed a
much more important process of communication and networking.
Surgery-like-repression that followed now appears almost like a direct outcome
of our very own scattering and self-exile. By denying ourselves the mass
element in our protests we break up in small groups and individuals that are
highly vulnerable to the attacks of the police. By fetishising activism we act
under the handicap of being unable to select the terrain of the clash. Worse
even, whatever attempted clash then takes place under near-military terms - at
which we are (thankfully!) incompetent.

On Counter-violence, Once Again

So in what 'are' we “competent”? This is a good time to look back to our
experiences from previous counter-summits and see where they were successful. A
common point of all counter-summits (Rostock included) was that the black block
acted largely as a people's defence against the police. This is something
recognised by most: During the 2nd of June demonstration in Rostock, the vast
majority of the demonstration's participants stayed and mixed with the black
block once the clashes started, making any serious attack from the police
impossible. This is a fact the police were quick to realise and act upon, hence
Rostock did quite likely signal an end to the old distinction between peaceful
and violent protesters. From now on, cops attack both.

This change in the attitude of the police contributed to the most important
change in this summit compared to the counter-summit of Scotland: The big
blocks (e.g. those of the Block G8 coalition) were significantly more diverse
than in 2005 - bringing together anyone from NGOs to activist groups dealing
with specific issues, giving a less reformist touch to the mobilisation as a
whole. Should these blocks have been entirely reformist, they would have
avoided clashing with the police - which is not what happened. In this regard
the Campinski agreement worked: Each group acted in the manner it chose to,
respecting the choices made by other groups, giving a notable diversity to the
actions that occurred. It is needless to say that it comes as no surprise that
ATTAC "condemned and apologised" for the actions of other groups on their
behalf: We could expect no different from an organisation with so strong
pro-systemic characteristics and attitude.

Precarity and Internalised Repression

The vast majority of people who found themselves at Rostock transcended the
limits set in previous counter-summits. They were successful in acting in a
subversive and a unifying manner - at least avoiding clashing with other
elements of our movement. In this sense, the conditions were ideal for Rostock
to become a high point in the long journey of counter-summits. This never
happened. Why not? We tried to answer this question: Why wasn't the German
police not trounced, even if their 'tough' reputation collapsed? During this
process the words of Kreuzberg's undercover cop came to mind. People get in
trouble sooner. The police's strike is one step before pre-emptive repression.
Starting by crushing the Autonomen's movement in the late eighties the German
State was careful to secure that whatever new generation of Autonomen would not
easily arise. Beyond the typical direct attack against known persons and groups
repression was much more effective when targeting basic infrastructure of our
movement in Germany. The treacherous and highly effective "legalisation" of
squats in the late eighties means that in 2007 many such spaces are under the
immanent threat of normalisation. Even when that does not happen individuals
and groups might resort to their self-policing in order to avoid outside
threats. In this way the excessive defence of our private spaces deprives our
public actions from their necessary dynamism. Signatures put on legalised
squats' contracts in the eighties were at the same time signing the agreement
for the self-policing of our movements two decades later.

Smash the cities, not the crops!

The return to the city creates expectations. For more than half a year, the word
on plan B had circulated around anarchist/autonomous circles. Constantly,
throughout all “preparations” the voices of this alternative suggestion were
heard loudly, sneaking their way into nightly circles and arousing fantasy and
creativity! Our targets are not the pre-set meetings of the sovereign, where
the entire repressive mechanism awaits us. Our targets can only be the
structures challenging and limiting us daily. The bank's local branch, that
MacDonalds outlet poisoning young kids, those forces gentrifying the town's
historical centre. Those who design the New Berlin, which in order to exist,
will have to be sold, bit by bit, to the hungry eyes of clueless global elite
tourists. Our targets are many and so are the brilliant ideas (many comrades
travelled all the way to Berlin only for these ideas). They returned to Berlin
bidding to strengthen the cry for help from locals dreaming of a sudden break
of light in-between the increasing darkness of the statist plans to exterminate
all subversive action.

The trains from Rostock are heading towards Berlin in full capacity – group
tickets instead of carriage occupation, perhaps an indication of low spirits?
Departures already start from Thursday afternoon, second day of the blockades,
and then there's another split, we are leaving despite tens of comrades still
being piled up in the detention units. Back in Berlin, we're finally playing at
home, we can finally breathe freely, the kind of air only available in the camp
after June 2nd. At night the first fliers calling for a reclaim the streets
party at Berlin's Hackescher Markt appear, figuring masked up people running
with their fists in the air, the tension rises, how could we sleep, we wonder
around Oranienstrasse, meetings with groups of comrades from all corners of the
world, what kind of plans are there, what plan are you going for... On Friday
the whole of Kreuzberg is full of fliers, everyone's waiting for the party, the
affinity groups are reaching the apogee of co-ordination, everyone has decided
where they stand, more or less convinced of the validity of their decision.
Last meetings before the action and ... void. Local groups pull out of the
plan, why, because of insufficient planning? Excessive risk? Overridden
capacities? Some void. But we keep going. The rest of us are at guard. The
reclaim the streets party breaks out and asks for the city's attention, of the
police, the air force... The night passes tortuously slow, you keep looking at
your watch, much-promising meetings, we are blockading the centre of town until
the promises are fulfilled. Yet one after the other disheartening news arrive.
The tune of a violin in Rosentaler Platz, the only musical background to our
party! People we did not invite ask to join the feast, they come to support
what we left without any support. Why didn't we invite the whole of the city to
our party? Our Reclaim the Streets never turned into the demonstration we wanted
to see, it never turned into a party, there were too few of us and we were on
our own. A social movement's confinement. Plan B had ended before it even
started, it died inside us because we never believed in it. Once again,

We painlessly return to our homes, our squats, our neighbourhoods. We dive deep
into each others' gaze to see if we can feel what we had felt... Some leave the
country to report back to others, many remain to organise anti-repression. There
is no need. The punishment is instant: wasserwerfer, pepper spray, baton hits,
broken noses, arrests, detention units. Passive presence is punished at equal
with active resistance. The unprecedented stance of the cops, “there are no
peaceful protesters” brought about a new concept in the insofar “peaceful”
demonstrators' circles: “There are no peaceful protests!” In the night of June
8th and after the last few delegates had retreated from the zone, our last
comrades were also released from the dungeons of democracy, only to face the
paranoia of neo-Nazism waiting for them outside the detention centres. Once
again our lawyers came to our rescue, the law now standing as the sole escape
route from a paranoid reality, holding us by the hand and leading us to the
path of legality... And so the week to follow has nothing to ask from us, from
the convergence space, the occupations; after the withdrawal of the powerful,
it is all over.

Lights out, the spectacle is over but the stage is not yet empty, it stays full
of our daily local struggles. The summits of resistance give us the chance to
communicate, exchange and organise our next actions. We don´t see them as the
milestone of our fight but as an opportunity to enrich the form of our local
struggles and maybe as a reminder that we don´t need the spectacle at all in
order to unite our resistance globally.

Balkan Anarchists of Northern Europe, balkan[at]occupiedlondon.org