From alternative summits to zombie walks, street festivals, and direct confrontation with state violence by the Black Block, resistance was on full display. You would be forgiven for just thinking there were “violent” street actions by “demonstrators”. The media focus their cameras on the burning cars and the few protesters who get hit with water canons for heinous crimes such as kissing in the middle of the street in front of the police. This will sound familiar to anyone at the Toronto G20.
Hamburg is a town of active cultural leftism. Even the local football club and stadium opened its doors to activists. In a statement, the club decried the police ban on sleeping in the city and wanted to “send a clear signal for human rights, freedom of opinion, and the right to demonstrate”.
Churches and community organizations were also involved in supporting the demonstrations. The weekend saw nearly two-hundred thousand people engage in demonstration, discussion, and active resistance against the anti-worker, anti-environment, pro-capital “discussions” happening inside.
The final statement by the G19+1 was not exactly the show of force of global capitalism most of the leaders were looking for. It seems as though when you bring together liberal democrats, despots, and dictators (tinpot and tyrannical alike) you do not get consensus as much as contradiction and hypocrisy. Their “unanimous” statement outlines the agreement that the countries will do anything within their power to support capitalist control over the economy and society – with a special focus on supporting growth and stability of finance capital systems. Left out of the statement was any agreement on climate change, since the US no longer agrees that climate change is an issue for governments to solve.
Other statements focused on fighting poverty through female entrepreneurial support, promoting precarious work while at the same time decrying its negative impacts on people, and supporting UN declarations on refugees worker rights in “global supply chains” while promoting a global system that makes the expression of those rights impossible. In all, it is a regular meeting of heads of state who all agree that everything is basically just fine for the people that really matter.
The alternative Global Solidarity summit did not release a statement at the end, as is practice, but saw three days of packed seminars, talks, and discussions on what an alternative to global capitalism would look like and how best it can be won. These alternative summits have become a mainstay outside the G20/G8 meetings and act as a global networking event for progressive organizations, environmental groups, poverty activists, left parties, and socialists to get to know each other. They also operate as a way to train the new generation of activists on how to do outreach in their communities.
Of course, none of this actually undermines global capitalism. But it is necessary to remind the world that not all people agree with the nonsense put out by the G19+1 leadership and that we strive for something different and better.