On the 23rd of October2021 a big demo would have taken place in Leipzig. With a German wide call a lot of structures, groups and individuals supported the call and organized themselves to visit Leipzig for these days. As Interkiezionale we also saw the call of our comrades in Leipzig positively as we recognize the lack of collective moments where people from all across Germany can come together, exchange knowledge and opinions. Creating space and time to exchange and network should be one of our priorities. The days in Leipzig could have worked as a starting point for the autonomous, anarchist, anti-authoritarian movement of Germany to come together not as a reaction towards one specific attack but as our own fighting days. After the prohibition of the demonstration, Interkiezionale was one of the structures that still called for people to go to Leipzig.
As we consider these collective moments as important for the movement, the prohibition of our demonstrations and the ways to fight against them a crucial topic, and we fill responsibility because of calling for the demonstration and against its prohibition we decided to write a reflection text on this, with the hope to engage in broader discussion, hopefully connecting the ones that for sure take place on city, scene or group levels.
Demonstrations as a moment of collective struggle
Demonstrations are always one of our most important political tools. Among propaganda, counter information, direct actions, assemblies, manifestations, demonstrations are moments that help us internally and externally. On the one hand its a time when people come together, meet their comrades, create moments and live common experiences. People feel empowered and the political groups expand to a movement. We come together, showing solidarity to people that we do not know because at this moment they are our close comrades. At these very moments it is US against everything that oppresses and exploits us. On the other hand demonstrations are where the rest of the society can address us. Where our ideas and perspectives are coming into the public sphere. The streets are becoming a channel of propaganda and at least for a while we expropriate the time and the place!
For us the demonstration itself is one of the main political tools. Our priority is to demonstrate and express our beliefs. However a demonstration looks like, peaceful or not, black blocked or not, it is always one of the most important moments of our movement, and we should fight for them.
The prohibition of the demonstration on the 23rd showed exactly this. That the state is always trying to avoid different struggles getting connected and that left radical ideas are becoming public. Because for the state is much easier to control or cover decentralized actions, which are always important and necessary, but it is much harder to hide when many people come together, share publicly their political stance and perspective.
The prohibition of the demo showed that we are traversing a period when the state is flirting with totalitarian narratives and tactics. Even for their bourgeois democracy a prohibition of a registered demonstration reveals the authoritarian character of this state. The argument of “not expecting a peaceful demonstration” is showing the state repressive strategy. Based on predictions and possibilities the German state makes a decision and convicts before the action has even taken place. On the one side they show their own “incapacity” of controlling a demo and on the other side they found the capacity to put the whole city of Leipzig into siege.
Contradiction after contradiction during this weekend we faced a cop city where patrols and check points were representing the regime we are living in. Trying though not to annoy too much in order not to confront “random” people, German police had the role of terrorizingand intimidating rather than controlling. Their goal was to keep everything under control without actually starting random controls which might bring conflicts and anger.
The reaction of the movement
And here comes our part. What did we manage to do as a movement? Where were our mistakes from which we can learn for future fights and prohibitions?
After the demo was prohibited there was a deafening silence on our side, against it and on how to act. We believe that the movement should have spoken more openly and clearly for the need to fight back against the prohibition. On public counter-media channels or more internally, groups that called before or were planning to go despite the prohibition, could have made calls, and this could have created a dynamic and more collective atmosphere, the days prior, that might have mobilized more people to join or empower the people that were anyways going.
The prohibition of a demo is not something that we face constantly, as it is a tool the state is using but not very often, and therefore we lack the reflects to act against. There are recent examples that we experienced in our city and discussions could be based upon, although we clearly recognize that there is no one-to-one comparison, and no such tactic or idea can be mechanically reproduced in whatever place and time. The prohibition of the 1. Mai demonstration on 2020 (1), on the excuse of the pandemic, against which the orga decided to still call people to take the streets, announcing meeting points around Kreuzberg, that people tried to reach, and managed to do so in many occasions to walk, in a neighborhood that was under siege by thousands of cops. Of course the political background and history of 1. Mai demos is special. This probably was shown as few months after a similar attempt for action was taken one day before the court-date of Liebig34, on 02.06.20 were the 1. Mai dynamic was not reproduced in the streets, though the idea was similar (2). The same stand for the Interkiezionale Day X demo for the eviction of Syndikat on 08.07.20. The demo was not-registered, but publicly announced, though people managed to gather, the demo got circled and side-streets got blocked by cops, and the people could not move. A critical reflection of this demo can be found here. (3)
The prohibition of the demo can be a precedent for the future. The state, after the experience of the demo in Leipzig might try to enforce this again. We believe we should find ways to have faster reflects against such situations and parallel try for these reflects to have a collective direction of inclusion. If we agree on this, how are structures can serve these goals in a way that is safe for everybody?
Though we didn’t manage to walk on 23.11, we should think that the state mobilized thousands of cops to stop us, and ask how we can use this, for example, if we keep on calling for bundesweit events, could they keep prohibiting and sending thousands of cops to do so? And even if this is logistically possible, do they want this on the political level?
As we recognize demonstrations as one of our most important political tools and network points we believe that for one as Interkiezionale, we should have discussed more before joining in order to have some concrete proposals to put on the table of discussion and further as an emancipatory movement we should have created the place and the time for this discussion in Leipzig to take place. In moments where the state tries to split us in our small circles we have the responsibility to bring us together, connect us and create a bigger circle. In moments where the state wants us invisible and non publicly present we have to come together and shout as loud as possible that we are here and we will fight. In the moments where the state even prohibits a demonstration we have to find ways to reclaim the streets ALL TOGETHER showing our ideas.
We didn’t manage to fight back the attack this time , but we see this missed chance as a good starting point for discussions and exchange. We are looking forward for feedback and input.
See you on the next demo! The streets are ours!
Note: We are working on a review of the Day-x demo on 15.10. for Köpiplatz. However, since there is no immediate eviction threat for other projects, we would like to reflect bigger on the eviction wave, so it will take some more time.