Time to take deep breath
Why the general post-G20 narrative is not going to lead us anywhere
14 July, 2017
George Orwell once said: “People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome“.
The wave of violence and destruction in Hamburg in the last few days produced beside the shock of the affected mainly one thing: pictures. While many acted as outraged and horrified commentators re-posting footage from the street riots, others used the events around G20 in Hamburg to create this footage by taking pictures, videos and selfies. Unavoidable impulsive comments and judgements followed. Headlines such as “Violence Overshadows G20 Summit“ spread quickly. News channels were live around the clock draining their exhausted reporters with questions, pushing them closer to the centre of the riots. But in fact, it is not the violence that overshadows the summit. Rather it is the summit itself that overshadows the problems of today's world - locally and globally - advocating its importance, denying its idleness and justifying its cost with all the political stubbornness. Not so much out of pure vanity, but above all out of immense fear the G20 summit overshadows the fact that no one wants to demonstrate in its favour.
And disappointingly many politicians prefer to ignore this - presumably either because they have lost touch with reality or because they are left without a choice but to be used as marionettes of more powerful politicians. And it is hypocritical when politicians express their gratitude to the police which is so underpaid, suffering all kinds of cuts for such a long time. It is hypocritical to show solidarity as a citizen and then support those politicians who are quick with judgements and verdicts but are actually responsible for all this. It is hypocritical when the new hyper-expensive concert hall Elbphilharmonie arrogantly condemns the riots in the city via Instagram while showing the happy faces of the G20 representatives and serving as a shiny background. The extreme outbreak of senseless violence is not a question of security in our city or our country, it is not a question whether or not one should condemn it. It only shows the ugly face of a social transformation, which is not about whether it would have been undemocratic not to have the G20 in a city like Hamburg. Rather, it is always about the ability to differentiate.
The violence is due to the fact that the whole security concept was based on the priority to protect the elite, so that this elite could produce harmonic pictures with beautiful backgrounds. It is this elite which accepts a silent protest and perhaps a harbour tour for the spouses of the G20 states men and women. All this does not justify the violence in the streets of Hamburg in any way - the plundering and the destruction (nothing does) - but it is obviously the trigger for that violence. It is the trigger for the violence against exhausted policemen and also for violence by policemen; it is why policemen are attacked, and also why showing your ID to the police is not enough any more, - you are also asked to submit the IBAN-number of your mobile phone; why the spokesperson of the police in Hamburg actually advises the citizens NOT to go out and protest, why journalists are suddenly deprived of their accreditation, and why social media is used by users to spread pictures showing military vehicles in the city, pictures showing alleged police offenders until the police twitters several times that there is no investigation against those people. Meanwhile, during and after the summit - no binding results have been achieved.
A couple of statements and press conferences after the summit, we have learnt one thing again: the summit was a success and the police did everything right. Time to take a breath. The affected citizens are promised financial support, the injured policemen get a shoulder tapping. Blame “the black block“ all the way. The political consequences as always equal to zero. And Hamburg will get up quickly again. Because Hamburg ca n do it.
The author lives and works in Hamburg. The opinion peace was written exclusively for EUROPOST.