Countrywide Action Day in Germany on 29 September 2012
A broad alliance of social organisations and movements in Germany has come together under the label umFAIRteilen – Tax the Rich. The German wordplay stands for “redistribute wealth in a fair way”. The youth section of the German association of trade unions, Attac Germany and some 20 members more had called for a countrywide action day on 29 September 2012.
Main demos took place in Berlin, Bochum, Frankfurt/Main, Cologne and Hamburg. In another 50 cities run-ups and individual events, meetings or manifestations were held. Altogether about 40,000 people went out on the streets for more social justice and against cuts in social services and the ongoing enrichment of a few well-offs. In Hamburg, the Greek opposition leader and head of the leftist alliance SYRIZA, Alexis Tsipras, spoke to the public. Creative acts pointed to the growing injustice in Germany and from the injustice emanating from Germany.
In the period before the action day the set of supporters grew steadily. Head over heels, even ruling parties of the past, who were responsible for social cuts and dividing the society into impoverished and privileged people, expressed solidarity with the demonstrators. If this will ever end up in rerouting their political march of folly still remains unclear.
Compared to the million people demonstrating in Portugal against austerity and shortages at the same time, the number of people joining the German action day was small. However, the media response was remarkable, which is a success in a country of increasingly uncritical and cautious media coverage when it comes to questioning main stream policy. Harsh cuts as in the south of Europe are still waiting around the corner for the Germans. On the other hand, pauperisation has in Germany been persisting for years now, though sneaky and undercover and promoted by cynical media as “without alternative” – the chancellor’s faux-pas word. Hitherto, an at least shrinking majority can still be tamed by the same old claim to tighten their belts. However, even the latest federal report on poverty identifies the swelling accumulation of capital in the hands of a handful of gamblers and speculators as an increasing problem and calls for a reversal of the course. Nearly two thirds of all wealth is held by less than 10% of the people in Germany. The richest percentage of Germans possess more than the amount of all debts of the Federation, the federal lands and the municipalities in total whereas – due to the absence of minimum wages – many working people are seeking for a poorly paid second or third job to somehow muddle through.
Poverty among the elderly is now on the agenda. Millions of elderly people in Germany do not get by with their pension. However they feel ashamed to show up at the social services office and actually prefer the less humiliating way of improving their little pension by collecting deposit bottles in public areas.
During the last 6 years the number of people living in poverty has massively increased from 3 million to nearly 13 million!
The Rosa Luxemburg Foundation has contributed to the activities in various cities as in Stuttgart or Wiesbaden with lectures, seminars and discussions. We attended the Berlin demo and its closing event with our own stand and could disseminate our books, brochures and information on the European crisis and about social justice to a large and interested number of visitors.