The City of Frankfurt was the scene of a 25.000 strong anti-austerity demonstration on Wednesday, March 18, the day of the inauguration and grand opening gala of European Central Bank's (ECB). The new skyscraper attracted crowds of protestors from all over Germany. As the protest took off the crowds moved into the stornghold of many German and international banks. The construction of the new ECB premises in the East End of the city had cost approximately 1.3 billion EURO. The demonstrations were called by the broad "Blockupy" alliance which included many left groups, social movements, trade unionists and a host of other individuals. The organisers loaded two special trains and over 60 coaches from 39 European cities with protestors for the demonstration.
In recent weeks, the determination of the demonstrators to voice opposition against the ECB, EU, big business and the German government had grown as a consequence of the general anger towards austerity policies. Demosntrators were particularly angry about the austeirty forced onto Southern Europe and the blackmail that the new Greek government has experienced by these institutions. In Frankfurt, for instance, prominent local trade unionists met to set up a Greece solidarity group and launch an awarness campaign against the recent propaganda around the events in Greece.
Yet, the message that the national and international mainstream media conveyed was one of violence, riots, and a state of emergency. Pictures of burning barricades and cars, broken windows, and injured policemen and civilians overshadowed the event. Many media and bourgeois politicians eagerly used this propaganda to discredit the movement altogether. The state had mobilised well over 10.000 policemen from all over Germany that utilized teargas and water cannons. The outburst of violence early in the monring, when the police attacked left autonomous activists and possibly some police provocateurs, served as a godsend for the bourgeois media who quickly used it to discredit the movement in the eye of ordinary workers. In spite of the claims of the media the main demonstration was a peaceful affair blockading the gala on ECB premises.
Thus, March 18 proved only to be a moderate success. A demo of 25.000 on a working day is not bad, but for a country of 80 million it is still a very small minority. We have seen similar and even bigger demos before. It is still mainly an activity of the left wing milieu which has not yet reached the still passive core of the working class. To create a strong movement of protest in Germany requires patiently explaining and above all events. It is true that some sections of the trade unions and especially the youth also called for the demo, but the potential power that the unions represent was definitely not mobilised.
Though central demos may be important this must be coupled with a systematic campaign of information in every workplace, school, university, town and village. We need to agitate, educate and organise. We need to protect demos from police attacks and provocateurs by organising a proper system of stewarding. It is not enough to denounce the massive empoverishment that is taking place in Europe. The "anticapitalist" movement above all needs to overcome it's timid, narrow, and reformist character. We should mobilise workers and youth around relevant demands and a revolutionary socialist programme to overcome capitalism.