Monday, July 10, 2017

We Came to Hamburg to Protest About G20 – and Found a Dystopian Nightmare

Performance artists in a G20 protest on 5 July. ‘While the ‘traditional’ G20 was unified in promoting the so-called Washington Consensus, it seems the new G20 can only agree to disagree.’ Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty
The surreal hi-tech security dominating the city underlines the disunity among the world leaders and wider cultural anxieties about where we are being led

Arriving in Hamburg this week feels like entering a dystopian nightmare. As the city prepares to host the G20 summit this Friday and Saturday, many roads are blocked and high-security zones have been established. More than 20,000 police, many heavily armed, are patrolling the streets, backed up by drones and the latest surveillance technology. Helicopters are permanently “parked” in the clouds, so the sound of their rotors becomes a sort of background music you soon stop noticing. Perpetual police and ambulance sirens, emergency lights and water cannons accompany the orchestra of power.

Walking on through the streets – I am here as part of the DiEM25 (Democracy in Europe Movement), which I co-founded with Yanis Varoufakis and thousands of progressive Europeans – this dystopian scene starts to feel surreal. It is as though you are trapped in a “post-truth” hallucination. Beside roadblocks and police checkpoints, I stumbled across a new ad for a popular German cola, depicting Donald Trump, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Vladimir Putin calmly sleeping – with the inscription “Mensch, wach auf!” (“Man, wake up!”).
The message is an appeal to the politicians who have supposedly closed their eyes to global wars, terrorism, the refugee crisis and climate change. On the other hand, it is a wake-up call to all citizens of Hamburg and beyond to organise and stop sleepwalking into a postmodern 1930s.

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