I recommend the entire article below. I’ve been reading eugyppius for some time and I think he is very reliable. Very good article and some great photos of the protest. He lives in Germany and traveled down to Berlin to cover this. The comments are also interesting.
How the leaders of the Great German Farmers' Protest are committed to neutralising their own movement, and what the farmers must now do if they want anything to change
- Website: eugyppius: a plague chronicle
- Date: January 16, 2024
- View Source of How the leaders of the Great German Farmers' Protest are committed to neutralising their own movement, and what the farmers must now do if they want anything to change (Opens new window)
A report on the 15 January farmers’ demonstration in Berlin
No Confrontations to Speak Of
Some papers are now eagerly reporting that “multiple arrests” occurred, by which they mean police detained about two dozen people. I’d say that’s the minimum you can expect at an action of this size, and because various bad actors are trying to tell lies, I want to be very clear: There was no confrontation between protestors and riot police, the officers were restrained and the worst I saw anybody do was set off some fireworks…
The Two Speakers
I had no illusions that either Rukwied or Lindner would have anything good to say. The former spent the days before the protest railing against “radicals” and singing hymns to “democracy” and the “ballot box”; the latter gave a speech on 6 January telling the farmers to go home.
Only One Way to Win
You must remember that there is one way – and only one way – for the protest to succeed: The farmers have to adopt an inclusive political programme with broad appeal, and their goal must be the resignation of the Scholz government and new elections…If the farmers confine themselves to issues like the diesel tax hike, they’ll make themselves irrelevant. Even the farmers I talked to seemed not to care that much about diesel subsidies; they have a wide array of much more serious and relatable concerns. The vision and the strategy are there, but their leadership is wholly compromised.
About Way More than the Diesel Tax
On one point, however, [Christian] Lindner was totally right. He said the protests were clearly about much more than diesel taxes, and here alone Rukwied contradicted him, again insisting on his tiresome self-neutering line that 30,000 people assembled in Berlin to protest taxes on agricultural diesel and nothing else. He said this in front thousands of truckers and tradesmen, whom the tax hikes do not affect. He said it before a sea of placards venting fury at the present state of German and European politics in the broadest possible terms:
What Can Protests Do?
Contrary to the expectations of some readers, I don’t think this or any protest can bring down the German state or realign European politics. Street activism is far from the only ingredient necessary to achieve a transformation on that scale. In the DDR there was at least an outside – an immediate alternative regime, in the form of the West, to which activists could appeal and from which they drew support. There is nothing like that for us now. What a well-supported protest like that of the farmers can do, is hurt the crisis-stricken Scholz government even more, increase the punishment for their failures and, if they are persistent enough, force new elections. That is far from everything, but it is not nothing either. Since the energy crisis, Germany has entered an accelerating process of deindustrialisation; there are real livelihoods at stake here, and it’s worth doing everything possible for any chance of moderating the destruction, however slight.
It’s Up to the Farmers. It’s Up to Us.
As valued reader Andreas Stullkowski points out, Rukwied is fully mobbed up with the present state and corporate establishment. He’s held paid advisory positions for the state-owned investment bank KfW, for Messe Berlin, for the German sugar producer Südzucker and for BayWa. His entire purpose is to channel the political discontent of the people he nominally represents along useless paths. If the farmers want anything to change, they’ll have to disregard his calls to capitulate and press on under their own steam.
From the Comments on this Article
The derisive boos and chants were extremely cathartic. “Liar!” “Hypocrite!” and “Get out!” were the favourites among the crowd. And the very loud laughter and boos when Lindner said that his party, the FDP, has a long history of standing up for small businesses and the middle class, is something I have replayed for myself about 10 times now. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.
It is epically frustrating. This huge protest materializes, you get your hopes up that something significant will come of it, and then it just fizzles out. The blob is all encompassing, making it extremely difficult for a potential great leader of men to emerge from the chaos. Life is still too easy and comfortable. Despite all the warnings of death and destruction coming our way, nothing ever happens. It’s just blob incrementalism over time that degrades rather than some cataclysmic event than might allow an eventual renewal.