Thaw is setting in as the European Spring announces itself. The ice of the European crisis regime – of Troika mandates and ruthless impoverishment policy – is clearly showing cracks. That which appeared without alternative and was only to be enforced technocratically has returned to the political stage as an open question. The Europe of capital and austerity, the Europe of a German head teacher and mandated homework has been challenged.
First and foremost, this is the merit of the movements of Southern Europe, their mass mobilisation, courage and spirit. They defend not only their own survival, but are also an inspiration to millions of people all over Europe that a society beyond the sorrows of capitalism is possible. All this was substantiated by the brave decision of the people of Greece in their election on 25 January 2015, who voted against the Troika and the misery of austerity. It was also made visible by the mass of people who took part in the “March of Dignity“ last weekend in Spain.
In contrast to what the imagery depicted by the seasons suggests, it is, however, absolutely uncertain whether or not, after a winter of austerity measures, the spring of democracy and solidarity will follow. Instead, we are experiencing a political intensification, a rearing up of the old order, which is pulling all the stops of extortion in order to subjugate Greece and essentially everyone to the dictatorship of capital market yields. Again we say: They want capitalism without democracy – we want democracy without capitalism!
In this situation, BLOCKUPY, together with European groups and networks, called for mobilisation to Frankfurt on 18 March, into the heart of the beast and the seemingly quiet eye of the storm, in order to block the opening ceremony of the new building of the European Central Bank, and to turn their planned party into a festival of European movements and a joint, resolute resistance against the prevailing crisis politics. Simply the announcement of actions was enough to turn the opening ceremony into a ridiculous small, almost minor event, and to force the ECB to withdraw into its stronghold – guarded by nearly 10.000 police officers and fortified by razor wire.
About 6.000 activists, at least 1.000 of which came from other European countries, took to the streets and squares around the new ECB building, surrounded it and braved the police, who delved entire streets in a haze of acrid tear gas. Not all actions that took place on this morning went on as planned and agreed upon. We have already voiced ourselves critically in this regard, and there will still be much to discuss and evaluate. We will do so within the movement and amongst the activists.
The 25.000 people that participated in the great, colourful and determined protest march in the evening rejected all attempts to split BLOCKUPY and the movement by forcing them to distance themselves from each other. In a statement at the final rally of the protests, Naomi Klein summed up the common ground of all those protesting when she called to the ECB: “You are the true vandals. You don’t set fire to cars, you are setting the world on fire“.
BLOCKUPY 2015 would not have been possible without the great dedication and often invisible work of hundreds of activists in Frankfurt and elsewhere. In a situation, where the city of Frankfurt refused cooperation, these activists organised or offered over 3.000 sleeping places and provided food for activists. Activists from near and far organised the trips by busses and the specially chartered train from Berlin and came to Frankfurt – for some activists, it took days to reach Frankfurt. Countless street medics provided first aid to the about 200 injured activists; legal aid was available at all times to those arrested. At the time of this statement, there remains one, Federico Annibale, an Italian student from London, in jail. BLOCKUPY demands his immediate release!
We know that Germany is still lacking a mass movement against the politics of impoverishment. We know of the effects of racist agitation by parts of the political sphere, the BILD daily newspaper and other media against the Greek population. Yet on 18 March, we set an unmistakable sign that even in Germany, it is becoming windier and warmer, and that there is growing opposition to the politics of Merkel, Schäuble and Gabriel. The sign was visible in Madrid, in Rome, in Athens and all over the world. In these cities, it was seen as a sign of encouragement and solidarity, which we in turn take as a call to continue and intensify protest and resistance against the austerity regime.
BLOCKUPY stands for a movement that takes mass protest and civil disobedience into the heart of the European crisis regime and is open to everyone to participate. BLOCKUPY has developed into a transnational and Europe-wide space, in which together we can develop and reflect upon a joint practice against crisis politics and for a common solidary Europe from below.
And this is exactly where we will now continue. Because even if the European spring is approaching, now more than ever, actions are needed that will disperse the clouds and frost and help the sun break through.
We invite all activists to deliberate together on the next steps to be taken. The great (German based) activist meeting on 9-10 May will now take place in Berlin instead of Frankfurt. After this or parallel to this, meetings will take place all over Europe – we will continue and we will continue together. Because the European crisis regime has more centres than just the ECB, and we believe that it is now time to take a new step.