Dec12: Movement analysis

Analysis from a movement perspective on the December 12 demonstration are few. Climate Indymedia states that the ”Copenhagen climate negotiations have sparked a global justice movement on climate.” referring in general to quantity in participation in the demonstration in Copenhagen and on other places globally, more than 13 million petitions signatures for an ambitious fair and binding treaty, and direct actions in the US. This analysis ends with an appeal ”to continue to pressure national Governments to take decisive action on carbon emissions and for policies that avoid Climate Colonialism”.

Quantity is also a dominating argument in the few other more specific assessments of the demonstration. Often combined with the notion that a new movement was born.

” Copenhagen saw the birth of a new global movement. The first reason was the demonstration on Saturday. The official police estimate was that there were 100,000 marchers.” Jonathan Neale, SWP

The Red Green Alliance marching toiwards Bella Center December 12. From RGA website.

Per Clausen from Red Green Alliance could not say to Modkraft with certainty whether a new movement is born. His arguments echoes that of the other left wingers: ”But he is optimistic. Particularly in view of the large attendance at the 12th-December rally ‘People First – Planet First’, which gathered 100,000 people.”

Another Red Green Alliance activist, Thomas Eisler, member of the national board and also active in the trotskyist 4th International makes a similar judgement together with .. in International Viewpoint:  ”certainly the number of demonstrators on the streets of Copenhagen is a proof positive that it is possible to develop mass mobilisations on the issue of global warming.

Political parties, trade unions and peasants organisations were also present in this colourful, radical and truly internationalist demonstration through the bitterly cold streets of Copenhagen to the fortress of the Bella Centre where the summit itself was taking place. If the majority of the official negotiators seem to have no answers to the threat of climate chaos, those on the streets have many.

But it is what happened on December 12 that sums up the real step change for the movement for Climate Justice. That mobilisation itself was of course proceeded by significant demonstrations in many individual cities and countries across the globe as the summit began on December 5.”

The indepedent left winger Rene Karpanschof is less positive. Also he starts with the quantity argument. ”The massive demonstration on 12 resembles an immediate success.” But he continuous: ”At the Bella Center experienced many, however, a sort of anticlimax. No political statement or action which could translate the huge crowd to put further pressure on the negotiators inside the center.”

He states that: ”Large crowds signal that ‘we are here and so many are we’, the ‘this is what we want’ and ‘we can create problems. Demonstrations are a signal that many committed people might continue with various activities, criticism and exposure of the public to a degree that politicians have to take stock of.  … Politicians are particularly susceptible when sympathy for the protesters spread and when the protests proliferate, so it seems unpredictable and uncontrollable, what it all can become. Normally, a march of the format there appeared the 12th December impress. This time, however, it was all sorts of decision makers who would be affected, and as we now know, neither led the peaceful demonstration or pressure from numerous NGOs to any climate agreement. So, only partial success for the peaceful strategy.” Karpanschof did not bring in the mass arrest in his overall assessment of the demonstration which is remarkable.

COP15 Don’t buy the lie action December 11.

A communique from parts of the Black Bloc during the demonstration made the repression their main focus. Shortly after releasing this communique, windows of the Danish stock exchange and Foreign Ministry were broken.

This communique opens with the claim that ”There seems to be a common logic between the government delegates, the NGOs who control the march, and even the radical ecological activists: we are all saving humanity together. Who would not want to fight for this? And even if you did not, do you even have a choice?”

And continuous: ”What does it imply to have faith in the existence of a single political unit that binds us all together? In the united and pacified world imagined in Copenhagen, politics become obsolete. What if the mobilization of the entire city and even the protests were nothing but an immense peacekeeping operation?”

The message from some in the black bloc concludes by linking a criticism of a perceived socially neutral ecology vision with the emergence of a global police state: ”The enthusiasm with which all political stripes have been converted to ecology teaches us about the true nature of this new green universal religion. From the heart of the Bella Centre to the most passionate of activists, beyond all differences in tone, one can hear the single and only call to submit yourself. … To control our desires, and most of all, to not disturb the delicate equilibrium. Ecology presupposes the same conception of existence that characterizes the police: danger is everywhere, and first of all, in ourselves.” The analysis from parts of the black bloc concludes: ”And if police, in all its forms, is the new essence of global politics, What do you think we should do?” (the last part of the sentence put in uppercase)

The internal discussions at the Danish anarchist forum became very fierce on the views in this communique. In general the criticism against Never trust a COP among some 200 contributions was very strong. In spite of that the most common position in this forum is to accept black bloc tactics when seen as appropriate it was seen as totally against the ideas of respect for different tactics to enter the main demonstration and use this tactic from there. Although the arbitrary mass arrest was blaimed on the police many also accused the Never trust a COP activists that started to throw stones at windows to give the police the excuse they wanted.

At the Swedish socialism.nu forum the discussion has been less in the direction of blaiming the NTAC for giving the police an excuse for intervening against the demonstration. Here it is many regarded as a fact that the new hooligan law package was attempted to be used against innocent demonstrators and activists:

” ’The Hooligan package’ went through to be used. The police had prepared for a mass arrest in several months. Exactly how the police subsequently legitimize the arrest is of little importance. The package’s core was to arrest people, without that something needs to have happened. The fact that a certain degree of militancy and civil disobedience had been seen before in large demonstrations were reason enough to use package. It is therefore entirely useless to sit and speculate whether it was the rock against the Danish bank or rocket against the police van 1328e that was the problem.”

At the Swedish left wing forum the discussions is more lively with more than 700 contributions in the thread about COP15. While the Danish discussion gest bogged down in status war on how good or bad the NTAC tactics had been the Swedish discussion sometimes attempts at getting further. Here is one person after claiming that NTAC obviously could not implement the tactic they had chosen as it was based on a wrong understanding of militancy from the very beginning of old fashion summit protests ”without having anything to stand on more than a vague black block community”:

” I see a problem with the radical left, which is larger than the “black block”. And it is that we move away from the other left more and more each year. .. We even can see our comrades in the broad Left imprisoned by the thousand, and yet see how they turn the anger against us instead of repressive police tactics and the right wing politics.

Of course, this is partly a legacy of past summit riots and so on. (as many pointed out), but far from only. This marginalization has been highly self-selected and sustained for many years. Communication between us and the broader Left is completely absent. And I do not mean planning and cooperation. We fail to communicate our own policies, even against people who have the most basic understanding of left politics. If we fail to reverse this trend at large than we’ll have to sit many more hours in climate prisons, rolling arrests and in urinating spots on Danish shopping streets in the future.”

People first – planet first demonstration at the starting point. Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/americagov/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

There are at least three more political contents that are put forward in the analysis made. One puts the emphasis on ”a ‘real deal’ that adheres to scientific targets”, another on climate justice and a third on criticism against profit based society. As one commentator puts it: ”While the delegations from the countries from the Global South were necessarily smaller than those from the Europe their presence was warmly welcomed – and the popular slogan of Climate Justice Now was clearly seen by most protestors as meaning the leaders of the rich countries needed to listen to the demands of the global south – and was also seen as one of the essential demands of the day.”

Left wingers finds it important to stress that ”Indeed the radicality of the slogans which dominated a mobilisation which involved most of the large non-governmental organisations as well as more radical sections of the climate justice movement was noteworthy.”

Another conclusion by Socialistiskt Arbejderparti, a section of the 4th International and active in Red Green Alliance, is ”that an inspiring movement have been born in Copenhagen. So far the climate negotiations have been dominated by big NGO’s and organizations attempting to perform ’progressive lobbying’. But the 12th of December demonstration proved, that climate changes have become an issue, that compels thousands of people to take the streets in one of the largest demonstrations in Danish history and one of the largest ever on the issue of climate change. Many of the people, who took to the streets on the 12th did so under slogans critical of the system such as ’Planet – Not Profit’, slogans, that had been chosen after an internet vote and in this way expresses a growing critique of the profit based and -oriented society.”

But most interesting assessment goes beyond figures and tries to tell us something more. Madeline Kovacs writes: ”Sometimes it’s hard to describe an experience. Sometimes words, film, or photos fail to capture the overwhelming feeling that we are witnessing something truly extraordinary. We say, ’You just had to be there.’ …

The positive energy around the march and the speeches was overwhelming, and those who where there came away with a sense that they had just been part of a great moment in this movement, and in our planet’s history.

Yes, arrests happened. Yes, it’s important to mention that. Arrests are sexy, and it’s okay to maybe even give them a bit more attention than they deserve. But the main story was that hundreds of thousands of peaceful walkers showed united support for a solution to climate change. That this message is quickly being drowned out is worrisome.

As a young person, I am determined to share the positive side of this day’s events. My generation cannot afford the continuation of a polarizing conversation around climate change, based on selective and sensationalist media coverage.

Youth need the world to hear the core message: There were millions of people this weekend who stood up and declared their support for a ‘real deal’ that adheres to scientific targets, to come out of these talks. And, encouragingly, they are ready to take positive action, and demanding the same from our world leaders.”

Tord Björk

Content 12 December Initiative – huge success or background for branding?

Success or failure?

Uncertain preparatory process

The global climate day of action 2009

The main demonstration

Three left wing parties supporting the police perspective

December 12 in the media

Movement analysis

A demonstration split twice

You find extensive more material on the lack of left wing collective response to the repression December 12 – 18 and analysis at: The ALBA mass meeting: Full of lost left wing possibilities.

A demonstration split twice

Tord Björk | 12 December Initiative,Action,International action,police,Summits | Sunday, March 14th, 2010

How can than in the future broad demonstrations contribute to uniting a movement? It is necessary to start by stating the truth. The demonstration was divided twice. Firstly physically by the lack of interest or capacity to confront the repressive Danish political culture and provocations. Secondly because the masses in the demonstration was allowed to be used by organizations to promote their self interest rather than as a common force in challenging the political agenda.

Two demonstrations?

What happened on December 12 in Copenhagen was destruction of trust in a democratically organized demonstration. The branding mentality of both NGOs and left wing parties turned the collective manifestation into a decoration for sending messages via mass media to politicians and people. The collective democratic duty to protect the integrity of the demonstration was replaced by the effort to compete with other organizations to appear as the right choice to support for preselected target groups.

Thus what we could see on the street of Amagerbrogade was the graveyard of democracy as we know it and a Danish committee of organizers fully willing to betray its collective responsibility and instead turn the occasion into a possibility for branding their own names.

This separation of the demonstration into two, one graveyard and forgotten and one colourful and peaceful manifestation at Bella Center was equally promoted by Greenpeace, social democrats, left wing parties and even independent left wing intellectuals. In its video about the December 12 demonstration Greenpeace only gives a rosy pictures. The strong feelings about attacks on democratic rights and repression at COP15 is primarily directed towards self defence of own well paid directors and activists when they are put into prison, not when people in common are mass arrested.

To very many, environmentalists or left wingers, the issue of repression against the December 12 demonstration is disturbing. Something that should not be addressed too much as it takes away the focus from something claimed to be more important, the climate negotiations or something that should be put into the box of routine criticism of the police and the repressive state. Why make the whole demonstration a part of the assessment of the result of the December 12 demonstration when it is so much easier to avoid making the arrests of nearly one thousand demonstrators a central part of understanding what happened. Such an assessment would maybe even open up for some self-criticism for lack of collective response and thus questioning of the whole model for the demonstration, a questioning that would come close to the unquestionable basis of the concept of broadness and full liberty for branding as always better than a platform with some more clear demands or a culture of collective responsibility for solidarity with all demonstrators.

There is no excuse whatsoever for letting the police arrest 918 demonstrators because the person or persons that half an hour earlier smashed a bank window in the same section of the demonstration might still be there. It is an insult when the police first guides a group of protesters that had announced to make actions without a strict non-violent code of conduct into the demonstration with a rather predictable result in some broken windows and then claim that what the police did was to protect the demonstration by mass arresting people. And so is the weak individualistic response from the Danish organisers ranging from full support of the police to talks about disproportionate police behaviour. The mass arrest of 918 demonstrators at Amagerbrogade was not disproportionate, it was totally unjustified and an attack on democracy and the whole demonstration.

WWF, Natur and Youth, Danish Climate Movement, Actionaid and others at a PostCOP15 seminar at Valby in Copenhagen. Photo Tord Björk

The responsibility for this separation of the demonstration into two parts is not only to be put on the police. The main actors behind the demonstration accepted this separation by refusing both to collectively respond to the assault but also to maintain the separation afterward in the assessment. Even an independent left winger as Karpanschof states the demonstration as at least partly a success while claiming that the direct action were failures including Reclaim power on December 16. His assessment that the mass demonstration was more successful than the other action in Copenhagen is also a conclusion made by many others.

But can at all a demonstration were such an extreme amount of people were mass arrested really be stated as even a partly success if the organizers do not make a political analysis of the situation and jointly are able to strengthen both the common climate demands and demands for democratic rights. After all the mass arrest was historically extreme and completely unacceptable. How come that such a successful demonstration could accept this attack on democracy at such a historic stage of international importance?

The claims that the mass demonstration was successful while the direct actions were failures becomes especially problematic in the light of that the political force most consistently opposing the attacks on the demonstration was Climate Justice Action. It is the CJA van that tries to return to support the people that have been mass arrested. it is from the same van that people in the demonstration are told the truth about what have happened and calls are made for solidarity. The Danish organizers of the demonstration make competing individual statements, often against each other, and refuses to make any collective efforts opposing the repression. This while CJA continues to organize collective protests with those willing to cooperate.

Medics and international Friends of the Earth flags at COP15 anti-repression demonstration December 18

How little interest the Danish organizers and how big interest CJA have in defending all demonstrators and democracy became evident at the demonstration on December 18 against the repression of the climate protests. Here CJA was key organizer while the many Danish organisations responsible for inviting people from the whole world to the December 12 demonstration with very few exception showed their complete lack of solidarity. Once each Danish organization behind the demonstration could gain most out of it for themselves there was very little interest anymore on what happens to democracy when almost one thousand people arbitrary can be arrested in a demonstration the Danish organizations are responsible for.

Also in January the main Danish demonstration organizers maintained their individualism while activists belong more to a collective and solidarity culture nurtured by direct actions started networks against the repression and solidarity work. Thus it is not the dominant forces organizing the demonstration on December 12 that are interested in defending democratic rights, it is activist networks based on direct actions.

A mobilization meeting for Copenhagen in Sweden with CJA spokesperson Tadzio Müller and 12 December spokesperson Andreas Malm. Here the accusations among Deecmber 12 organizers against CJA and December 16 was addressed. Malm later as one of few changed his mind and endorsed Reclaim power. More on this meeting and on the relationships between Deecmber 12, December 16 and Never trust a COP you find at:

This is true not only in relationship with the state and its police but also in addressing mass media, NGOs, popular movements as well as radical groups. It is CJA that most consistently tries to politicize all activities in Copenhagen, and early on with a strict code of non-violence challenges more radical groups. Thus when some of the demonstration organizers attacked CJA as the cause of the repressive measures taken by the government, parliament and the police and claiming the December 16 action as the biggest problem the reality soon became obvious. It was rather December 12 that had problems with its vague political platform and concept of promoting a variety of expressions. Even here it was CJA that most consistently emphasized the need of politicising all protests and challenging Never trust a COP with a strict code of conduct making more for creating political focus on December 12 than the organizers of the demonstration.

The basis for many assessments of the demonstration is false when trying to separate the action into different parts. In reality a political assessment must see to the indivisibility of a demonstration as a political fact. The historically arbitrary mass arrest must be explained in terms of its context.

The repression of the demonstration is directly linked to the repression inside the negotiation process as part of the present development model. It is not only on the streets that people get arbitrary mass arrested. Also inside the negotiations the whole idea of a United Nations of sovereign equal people was as historically radically erased as the democratic rights outside. This with Denmark in the key position as chairing the conference, to a large extent helped by Sweden in their role as presidency of the EU. Both countries decided to forget about 50 years of efforts from Nordic states to sometimes support opinions from developing countries, being pioneers in bringing up the environmental issues internationally and believing in the UN as a protection of the rights of small nations in international affairs against big powers. Denmark and Sweden used their key positions to have only informal contacts with big powers and openly going against the interests of developing countries to maintain a track for the Kyoto agreement. This in line with the Danish foreign police doctrine to stick to US positions as the main direction and the Swedish position to support Western powers and corporations. The period in world politics when Nordic countries had a balancing position and defended small nations and the UN is over. The polarisation in the world have turned harder between those with material force to impose their power on others and those lacking these resources.

Thus instead of promoting the ideal that every human being is equal as a basis for the politics enacted at the COP15 Denmark did the opposite. This was well known to popular movements already confronted with the result of the present climate politics and thus they supported unification of a climate justice movement and mass activities in Copenhagen as the Reclaim Power action, 12 December initiative and Klimaforum.

Flyer for Planet first people first December 12 demonstration focusing on the power world leaders have to change history in Copenhagen.

To many Danish organizers of the December 12 demonstration this was a threat to their social partnership with he Danish state. Instead of addressing the clear political interest of the Danish state to turn the COP15 process into an event to replace UN with ad hoc agreements between big powers and promote Copenhagen as a global center for environmental trading and business the choice was between two main messages. One was to have trust in ”world leaders”, a message explicitly in coherence with the interest of the Danish state, the other a ”real deal”, a message that implicitly could be seen as against the interest of making agreements only between big powers and like minded countries. The rest of the common platform was also lacking explicit demands against the false solutions promoted by Denmark and other states promoting the interests of corporations.

Peoples’ Assembly

When global popular movements came to the conclusion that it was necessary to confront the political content of the COP15 by establishing a People’s assembly by both governmental and NGOs from the inside and a civil disobedience mass action from the outside this caused a break down in the ability of presenting the December 12 platform as politically relevant to the political situation inside the negotiations or in relation to the violence that would be the result if Denmark and other rich countries would have their will come through. Instead of radicalizing the political content of the demonstration in the message on leaflets and by selection of speakers a lot of effort was put into addressing the possibility of violence on the streets. Especially under attack was Reclaim power and mass organisations as Via Campesina and later Never trust a COP.

When the violence finally came directed against more than 900 innocent demonstrators the political choices made by the Danish organizers turned into betraying their own demonstration. As there was lack of interest in opposing the violent and false solutions promoted by Denmark and like minded countries inside COP15 in the December 12 platform there was also no interest in opposing the Danish state violence on the streets.

Branding against rank-and-file culture

It is of course possible to make another kind of assessment. Daniel Tanuro
in International Viewpoint states that in the face of ”total collapse” of COP15 the international demonstration on Saturday 12 December fortunately brought together some 100 000 people which ”was a magnificent rank-and-file victory.”

Anticapitalist banner in a green and yellow sea of flags and placards below a blue propaganda advertisement against acting now on cutting CO2 emmissions by the government funded instute led by Björn Lomborg.

”Copenhagen symbolizes this new consciousness. It was the expression of participation of social movements that until very recently were on the sidelines of ecological issues, and sometimes even suspicious of them: women’s organizations, peasant movements, trade unions, North-South solidarity associations, peace movements, global justice movements etc. Indigenous people are playing a key role by struggling against forest destruction (in a power relationship worthy of David confronting Goliath!), symbolizing at once resistance to the dictatorship of profit and the possibility of another relation between humanity and nature. Yet all these forces count more on collective action than on lobbying, so dear to major environmental associations. Their coming onto the scene has radically moved the centre of gravity. From now on, the struggle for an ecologically effective and socially just international treaty will play out in the street – more than in the corridors of summit meetings – and will be a social battle – more than a debate among specialists.”

This kind of popular movement perspective is of course the most important, in the long run. That Tanuro reflects a false media impression of the environmental movement is a problem for the left with their lack of knowledge and interest in respecting other movements than their own. The environmental movement and organizations have as much mobilized on the streets but also in the fields and forests in mass civil disobedience as left wing movements in a scale that is equal to any other movement.

The constructive part of this left wing analysis can only become important if the inherent contradictions in the December 12 demonstration are addressed. This must include the relationship between the incapacity to respond to the state violence and the lack of a political platform that opposes violent and false solutions. But it must also include the contradiction between a demonstration that is primarily organized as a back ground for different branding operations by competing organizations within the limitations of the present media logic and a broad rank-and-file mass manifestation.

This is not a simple question were organizations claiming themselves to be ideologically radical states that environmental NGOs as a whole are bad. Contrary to some earlier NGO influenced campaigns as Making poverty history in 2005 during the G8 summit in the UK this time the demands made by the broad campaign was not completely possible to use to legitimate the outcome of COP15. Especially the demands for a real deal but also the broad use of climate justice was paving the way for more system critical approaches.

It is also true that the mass action on more than 5 000 places on October 24 by 350.org have popularized scientific arguments rather than arguments that puts a main emphasis on trust in business and world leaders as the most important way for solving the climate crisis. We have passed the 1992 Rio conference with its win-win message and obscure sustainable development defined as sustainable growth model for solving the environmental and social crisis and enter a new era. Branding is then a main problem, but not only when environmental and other NGOs use this tactic. Also left wing groups and political parties uses the same problematic methods in the December 12 organizational efforts and especially afterwards the dog fighting between left wing parties was more of a problem than the role played by environmental and other organisations as well as the social liberal party.

The way ahead must build more on material analysis than ideological. People do not get mobilized primarily by ideological motivations and differences between competing mobilisations on ideological grounds. This is in the interest of groups either supporting the system in full claiming that the only problem is lack of knowledge or the only problem is lack of ideologically conscious system critical viewpoints in the movement. What is important is to put a focus on material interests as that which have brought Via Campesina to the central point of the mobilizations. A material interest that is not hindered by social partnership limitations or media logics but addresses the daily life issues both in production, consumption and culture. The platform for such cooperation was formed by CJA, CJN and Klimaforum in Copenhagen and can have a positive influence on more indivisible mass demonstrations in the future. Manifestations able of addressing both a broad appeal to people in common all over the planet for what we are against and alternatives, while at the same time opposing jointly repression inside and outside negotiations.

Tord Björk

Content 12 December Initiative – huge success or background for branding?

Success or failure?

Uncertain preparatory process

The global climate day of action 2009

The main demonstration

Three left wing parties supporting the police perspective

December 12 in the media

Movement analysis

A demonstration split twice

You find extensive more material on the lack of left wing collective response to the repression December 12 – 18 and analysis at: The ALBA mass meeting: Full of lost left wing possibilities.

The lost left wing opportunity

The mass meeting in the Valby hall 17th of December was a lost left wing opportunity to support the climate justice protesters. One can wonder why. In scale it had only two indoor competitors. Al Gore was supposed to speak at an indoor mass meeting organized by Berlingske, the most conservative daily in Denmark since 250 years. 3 000 tickets were sold but refunded as Al Gore chose to not come. The main stream climate campaigners gave walk over to the left. The other competitor was the other mass activity in Valby during COP15, the so called climate prison with the infamous cages were the detained got pepper sprayed by the authorities if they protested to much against their degrading treatment. In total almost 2 000 were detained during COP15, most of them in this Valby temporary prison. According to reports the protest spirit in this prison were at times as high as in the Valby hall, and maybe more lasting.

The ALBA mass meting on December 17 waspart of a dynamic between three other mass activities, see: http://www.aktivism.info/socialforumjourney/?p=742

The ALBA mass meeting was perfectly timed and placed in relation to the political process of inside and outside activities during COP15 7th to 19th of December 2009. In Copenhagen four mass activities were organised to politically intervene in the climate negotiations and/or build an independent climate justice movement. All four complementing each other both in form and their political direction. The December 12 demonstration built on the idea of a low common denominator and large variety of expressions, even contradictory. A market place for demands mainly to put pressure on governments for a ”real deal” and thus state centric in its dominant appeal. The Klimaforum starting on December 7 with a political unified goal to challenge the ideology and practical proposals followed by the dominant forces inside COP15 more focused system critique and on movement building and diverse local solutions. The Reclaim power mass action on December 16 challenging the official conference directly by attempting at disrupting it during a day of mass civil disobedience. And finally the mass meeting on December 17 with presidents from Venezuela and Bolivia supporting sustainable alternatives to the present model of development promoted by COP15 with a socialist state centric tendency at the bottom.

The mass meeting came the day after protests reached a peak when civil disobedience activists both on the outside and the inside demanded system change not climate change in the Reclaim power action. The mass action could succeed in political practice. Although the action was violently stopped by the police when the two groups were less then 50 meters from each others the protesters got full support from the tribune inside the general assembly of UNFCC by the president of Bolivia and Venezuela. What the mass action failed to do physically against a violent police force it succeeded by building a political alliance across the wall around Bella center.

Thus the presidents of the ALBA countries and those Danish organizations that arranged a mass meeting with them the following day had the best of opportunities to take initiatives for moving the struggle ahead. Morales or Chavez would certainly not stopping the Danish organisers to take such a political intiative. On the contrary they supported the protesters goal of system change as well as protested against the heavy repression. The situation was considerably helped by the facts that for the first time ever the police of a host country of a UN meeting had been violently attacking accredited UN delegates when they wanted to leave the official venue and furthermore that 918 demonstrators had randomly been arrested during a mass demonstration some days earlier in an act of police violence against democratic rights which probably lack any precedence in Europe the last 50 years. People from almost any kind of movement, young conservationists, Hare Krishna, Friends of the Earth and Attac members, Socialists and people’s high school students. For some reason had the Danish organisers not acted collectively defending their demonstrators. Some actually supported the police as the Social Democrats while the spokes person for the organisers made a press statement about disproportionate police behaviour as if these acts of diverging messages to the media was sufficient reaction on the massive degrading and anti democratic treatment of demonstrators.

The political content was already worked out in unity at the Klimaforum in the declaration process ending in the demand System Change – not climate change, something that all actors agreed to from the Climate justice bloc that was attacked in the demonstration on December 12 to the Reclaim power action to the ALBA presidents. The title of the mass meeting in the Valby hall fitted well in – ALBA a solidarity and sustainable alternative. A politically better situation for a system critical movement of movements had not occurred in many years when peasants, environmentalists, indigenous, women, workers, antiimperialists, pacifists and above all young people were building a long term political program for climate justice. The great obstacles had been differences in  tactics and the extreme level of repression.

Formal Danish organisation whether left-wing, environmental, trade unions or others had all with one exception been advocating that the problem were activists and especially activists that wanted to use civil disobedience at the official COP15 venue. This in their eyes would result in immediate violence which had to be avoided at any cost. In Denmark the formal system critical organizations stated in chorus it is impossilble to defend any civil disobedience at a legal assembly as the UN. Thus the Danish activist network that jointly organized the Reclaim power action together with global mass movements as Via Campesina, Jubilee South and People’s Movement on Climate Change was isolated by all formal organisations in Denmark as a threat to mass mobilisation in the form of a broad demonstration together with NGOs and celebrities as speakers.

Many actually accused the Reclaim power action for the new laws and extreme repressive police tactics that emerged in Denmark,. This trend has been going on for many years in Denmark both during the present right wing governments and earlier during the centre-left governments. By challenging this trend towards escalating repression those claiming the need of non-violent actions at Bella Center was accused of causing growing repression and thus also threatening the necessary large scale mobilisation for the broad December 12 demonstration. If only people stayed away from any confrontational actions, maybe did some civil disobedience far away from the politicians, police repression would be so much less was the political thinking behind this attitude. For many people from the third world this kind of Danish thinking was completely impossible to understand as if repression is the result of that some organizes non-violent direct actions and confrontational protest and not the result of social relationships and material conditions in society.

By December 17 there had been all chances to discuss the matter with the movements from the rest of the world willing to take part in the Reclaim power action as they had been in Copenhagen for more than a weak. The Danish system critical organisations whether ecological or left wing had all chances to have a dialogue with their international cooperation partners. After all the Climate Summit was not only a Danish business.

Preparing for anti repression demonstration at Klimaforum December 17. Photo Tord Björk

By December 17 it was also obviously clear to everyone that the Danish formal organizations were wrong. No violence was caused by the activists during the December 16 action at all. The very little bit of violence during COP15 had taken place on Saturday outside the demonstration close to Christiania when a policemen was reported being hit by a stone although no reports claimed any serious harm. Property damage was also not the case during the Reclaim power action and very little on December 12, a dozen windows broken by demonstrators who were forced into the main demonstrations contrary to their plans to go elsewhere. The repression excesses by the Danish state were completely exposed as outrageous to anyone able of doing some political work.

It was with other words a perfect situation to make a collective support for democratic rights against the governmental and right wing xenophobian and climate sceptical Danish People’s party to drastically raise already extreme repression laws and police tactics against protesters. 918 people had been arrested for doing nothing in a normal demonstration and then had the police used many kinds of violence to prevent a joint inside-outside People’s Assembly close to the fences of the Bella center area. If there was any chance to revert this drastic attack on democratic rights in Denmark with great risks for the rest of Europe and the world it was now.

There was certainly a sufficient number of left- wing organizations arranging the mass meeting. They included five local trade unions, four communist parties and the red Green alliance, Friendship organisation with Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea and Bolivia as well as some solidarity organizations with Latin America and the world and Artists for Peace.

Many of these organizations of course produced individual statements as did any serious environmental organisation or Amnesty protesting against the mass arrests. But to do something in common was far beyond what the Danish left-wing organizations thought of as necessary. Collective action and mass movement is a common word in the language of these organisation, but when this collective action is needed and the mass movement exist and is under attack the response from these formal left wing organisation is a refusal to do anything about it.

This extremist position to allow the police to freely use the new anti democratic laws which the Trade Union Central in Copenhagen  called police state laws needs an explanation. Why can we not anymore in a common European state trust the left-wing to defend popular movements, let alone their own interests anymore?

The resources were at hand. One of the Communist parties arranging the mass meeting publishes a daily, actually the only daily linked to any left wing party in Denmark. The parliamentary Social democrats, Socialist People’s Party and the Red Green Alliance long ago let their dailies and even weeklies sometimes pass away and lack own strong media to reach out with their message. But Arbejderen, The Worker, exists and reaches out to quite a few as it is the only left-wing daily in the whole country with more than 4 000 subscribers. Furthermore has most of the Communist parties as well as the Red Green Alliance youth groups that are quite a lot involved in the street actions going on and do not lack organizational capacity if needed. There is capacity to mobilize in Copenhagen among the left. Some hours after the police struck against oil war refugees from Iraq and violently started to deport them from the Brorson church in Copenhagen half a year ago 20 000 demonstrated in a fast reaction.

But this time the leftwingers chose to avoid initiating a Danish collective action to protest against the heavy repression in spite of that it would have been very simple to get broad support also from organizations as Friends of the Earth International and about any international organisation present. The only thing needed would actually have been to join the initiative on the way already for a demonstration the next day on December 18. The Valby hall meeting would be an excellent opportunity for Danish organizations to take a lead in mobilizing the Danish people against the degrading treatements and arrests. After all Danish organizations can better mobilize people in Copenhagen and follow up on the necessary anti repression work in this country than international organisations can do.

But the Danish left-wing rather clapped their hands when Chavez and Morales protested against the repression on the streets of Copenhagen than wanted to do something about it themselves with the support of the ALBA presidents.

So why did they chose to stay passive against their own self interest and against the need of the global mass movements that they so much talk about in their newspapers?

There are at least some factors behind this lack of solidarity. One is isolation. The formal left wing in Denmark had chosen to organise their own activities far from any interest in cooperating internationally or as a force inside movement building mass activities as the Klimaforum or Climate Justice Action. Only the cooperation with main stream NGOs who chose celebrities or party leaders as speakers for the demonstration was to them of interest as they could use this lowest common denominator activity to brand their own organization rather than to contribute to building a mass movement.

Thus contrary to e.g. Sweden during European Social Forum did the Cuban friendship association state that they were only interested in making their own activities at Klimaforum and not as the Swedish Cuban association state that they wanted both to make their own activities and contribute to the common work during ESF. In Sweden the Cuban association representatives became a coordinator of the program group and did many other tasks for the common good, in Denmark the main initiator behind the ALBA meeting, which officially was part of the Klimaforum program but placed elsewhere due to lack of sufficiently big hall, was the Danish Cuban Association who chose to isolate itself from any common responsibility for the Klimaforum.

And so did all their left wing cooperation partners that arranged the ALBA meeting. Why do something to enable a mass movement to evolve when one can sit in isolation to clap the hands in hope that people on the other side of the planet shall make the revolution for you or walk in a demonstration branding your organization were the media message is to a large degree controlled by NGO celebrities?

Furthermore the Danish organizers had no links to their international counterparts. The kind of traditional state centric left wing politics which dominates the organisers of the ALBA meeting have its strong counterparts on the international arena in the People’s Movement on Climate Change as well of course in the ALBA countries. PMCC was the most loyal of all international networks towards all mass activities in Copenhagen not imposing it own will but giving strength from the very beginning to common efforts thus uniting the Danish and international partners. While many other international networks had much of their own agenda and only slowly started to be interested in such an initiative as Klimaforum PMCC was there from the very start to the end. They insisted on the need for stating that the economic system have to change and national sovereignty as important but for the rest they at many times in the Klimaforum declaration process could contribute with consensus formulations from their long time work with mass movement cooperation mainly in the South and with migrant communities in the North. When I in October informed them about the ALBA meeting they knew nothing about it although it had been initiated already in the summer and PMCC had been clearly visible at the international CJA preparatory meetings in Copenhagen. But the Danish left wing is primarily internationalist in words and primarily with those in power at state level it seems. Internationalism in practice in the climate justice movement was not what interested the Danish Left wing 2009.

Reclaim power banner during the December 18 anti repression march, Photo Avenirclima.info

Another reason for the lack of interest in solidarity with the international movement in Copenhagen was that many left wing organisations in Denmark had been strongly advocating against the reclaim power action and instead promoted the December 12 demonstration. Their argument was that it would be impossible for the public to understand why a civil disobedience action took place to establish a People’s Assembly inside the Bella center area. If the mass movements from the South as Via Campesina which most of these left wing organisations strongly claim they support as long as they organise heroic struggles far from Denmark saw such a need, that was not of interest to discuss. Danish organisations are primarily Danish organizations and as such racist. It is useful to use Via Campesina as an exotic example in their propaganda but not as a cooperation partner then maybe something is at risk. The control freak of any Danish organization seems than to become a maniac against even his own interest with the exception of very few individuals or organisations that alone have to carry the burden of the many.

The daily Arbejderen was one of these left wing spaces used by representatives of the Communist party owning the paper to state that the Reclaim power action was bad and the demonstration on the December 12 was the good alternative. The chair of the construction workers union in Denmark who was the only Danish key note speaker at the ALBA mass meeting had the same opinion in a letter published in a few Danish dailies signed also by a fisherman and a peasant, both chairpersons of other social movement organisations. It took a very long time before any system critical formal organisation made their strong opinions against the Reclaim power action public but once they did so it seems as if nothing anymore can change their mind, even when it is clear that they were wrong.

The Danish super model that was selected speaker at the December 12 demonstration was on one main Danish television channel the only political messenger of the 100 000 voices in the demonstration. Between pictures of her catwalking in her model career she stated that there are quarrels in any family and so there is at COP15 but in the end the problems will be solved. The message of how police were beating UN accredited persons on their way to the People´s Assembly December 16 could not be misunderstood, the claims by some or many formal Danish organisations that the activists would become violent was shown to be completely false and the action got full support from Morales and Chavez from the inside. But why bother.

The activists had objected to the wise persons in the formal Danish organisations and thus had both them and all the 918 mass arrested in the December 12 demonstration broken a golden Danish rule, always trust a COP and their definition of what is violence. What the Danish left-wing might do is issuing individual press releases, but more cannot be expected. After all, heavy repression with targeted arrests of almost all spokespersons of a non violent civil disobedience action, is what one deserves if one have gone against the advice of all formal Danish left wing organizations and dared to unite with mass movements from all over the world in front of the nose of the hitherto monopoly actors in Danish radical solidarity work.

The organisers of the ALBA meeting had of course different possibilities of doing something. The organization that seems to have been most positive towards Reclaim power was a communist party still looking upon Stalin as an important ideologue.  Their capacity to mobilize many was limited both in terms of Danish support and any links to central international climate justice organizations. The Red Green Alliance had the opposite position and actually excellent possibilities both in Denmark and the rest of the world. They had the chance as a modern radical left-wing party and one of the few that at least for a while even had a proper agricultural programme strongly present in Summit protests since Amsterdam 1997 and in the global justice movement. They also played a central role in organizing of the December 12 demonstration, or at least one of their International Socialist members. On photos from the preparations for the ALBA meeting one can see Thomas Eisler from Red Green Alliance, member of the national board of the party and active in the Fourth international as well as European Social Forum last year.

Especially interesting it is that in 2002 the Red Green Alliance did a very good anti repression work from the early start of the preparations ot the EU Summit protests in December that year. Together with representatives from the Socialist People´s Party they acted as parliamentary shields when activists crossed the borders and at street actions constantly using the parliament as a tribune for the movement. The autonom or what also can be labelled libertarian leftist movement coming from the house occupation and anti fascists action networks used the opportunity for organizing a non-violent civil disobedience action at the Bella center. People dressed up in protective gear with some 700 supporters were able to push themselves into the Bella center area a little bit, a political statement was made and the political action dissolved without any escalation of violence. Thus the statements by formal Danish organizations that such a kind of non-violent action at a legislative assembly was impossible in Denmark without escalating into violence was false. It had been done before with a similar right wing government. and that time without governmental spokes persons inside welcoming the content and the form of the protest and full support from some global mass movements more than fully possible.

But not to the Danish formal left. It was not so that key organization did not know of the good experience from 2002. On the contrary. The organisation that arranged the action in 2002, Global Roots or Globale Rødder do not exist anymore. But many of the organisers of the action in 2002 are still politically very active. Quite a few are now employed at the parliamentary office of Red Green Alliance. Palle Dragsted, earlier international secretary of the party, now media secretary is one of them.

So how come than that the Red Green Alliance did not use the great opportunity to initiate broad protests together with many other Danish organizations and international networks on December 18 to free the climate prisoners and protest against mass arrests? The structural reason is simple. Since 2002 the party have drastically changed. Not on the surface but in the core of its way to act politically. In 2002 the party put a lot of energy including staff into be part of movement mobilisation. Now the same resources are instead put into media communication. Movements are interesting if they can deliver sound bites that the party can use occasionally in the parliament or in their press releases. It is not any longer of interest to be loyal to a movement and part of their daily struggle. Thus Red Green Alliance spokes persons can talk about in the media that it would be better if the police used the dialogue tactic which successfully was used to avoid escalation of repression in 2002, not to be self critical about the change of the way the party itself relates to movements in risk of getting repressed.

One of the actors in this change of the political culture of the Red Green Alliance are the organisers of the autonom non-violent action in 2002. Once they themselves were able to achieve a professional career in the party they seem to gladly abandon the solidarity character of the party that once helped them when they were movement activists and instead making the party more integrated to professional media and parliamentary arenas.

They are still able to mobilise. Many of the old global roots people have been behind the massive mobilisation against the deportation of the Iraqi refugees defending church asylum. But doing action during COP15 the old global roots activists saw as not useful as there were to many policemen to challenge. Rather contribute to such actions as Shut it down against the coal power plant in Copenhagen in September last year or actions after COP15 but not during was their mantra among them. They were quite a few, often male, half cynical, and always well informed about the latest thing to know for a radical belonging to a common culture in many different left wing organisations in Denmark. Interestingly this seems to include avoiding mobilisation against repression.

Thus what we see in Denmark is that all strands of the formally organised left wing are equally passive when it comes to strengthen the climate justice movement and the general struggle to protect democratic rights for everyone with the exception of individual activists in Klimax and Climate Collective and to some degree left wing youth organisations. Some of these youth organizations linked to political parties were as one could expect part of organising ad hoc protest at the Valby climate prison on December 12. But these left wing youth organisations were not organisers of the Valby hall mass meeting and seems in general be regarded by their parent parties as marginal youth phenomena not to be taken much seriously.

The different communist parties are mainly competing with each other. The trade unions whether social democratic or not are stretched between a perceived importance of good relationships with the government and the daily struggle against the further brutalisation of working conditions. They experience how their pickets against privatization of services are broken by the police with false promises of releasing an arrested picket leader. They criticized the hooligan law package as an attempt to repress all popular movements and non-violent actions, whether pickets, strikes or environmental protests and stated that they were expressions of a police state mentality. All social democratic and other trade unions in Copenhagen protested but the Social democrats seemed not impressed who supported the mass arrest of more than 900 innocent people to not talk about the government.

The Socialist People’s Party spokes person also supported the police and only after many protested withdraw the support somewhat for the police. The Red Green alliance with its two minority trotskyist fractions and a main stream that do not know what to do is at the moment not much of a party, more of a branding operation to support differing professional careers with the help of much volunteer work but little coherent strategy.

The autonom left is interestingly also very central in the lack of the support  against repression of the climate justice movement. The same kind of Danish mechanism that we saw in the case of the Communist party owning the daily Arbejderen and the construction workers union seems to be working also here although the arguments against direct action at Bella center are the opposite. We do not support the actions so we refuse also to protest against repression of the actions. The autonom left did to a great part avoid supporting action during COP15 due to an analysis based on the pragmatic idea that the police force was to strong to be able to win any substantial victory. As isolated in its Danish box as the rest of the left in Denmark to establish a discussion in solidarity with movements coming from abroad was uninteresting. To win a struggle in action was mainly seen in physical terms and numbers of participants, not political terms and ability to create new political horizons and alliances. Thus in their international contacts with their allies in other countries they put forward their scepticism including sharp criticism on how weakly CJA actions were prepared. Something they, with their sometimes longer experience, could have positively improved but chose not to. It was more interesting to be a clever observer than to intervene side by side with people from other countries coming and taking the risks these Danish autonom did not want to take. And as they did not support the actions they as many other Danish left wingers tend to avoid the immediate necessary strong anti repression response needed in December during COP15.

The result of the lack of leftwing support for mass mobilisation against repression of COP15 protests can be seen in such things as that Greenpeace activists in prison after a Gala dinner action get a very high degree of support and attention while the rest of the climate protesters get support to quite a large extent in falling degree due to if they have organisational backing or not. The massive mobilisation to support all repressed climate activists have lacked were it is needed most, in Denmark thanks to the lack of formal organisations supporting such a mass mobilisation.

Content

The COP15 promising ALBA mass meeting

The lost left wing opportunity

How the left supported the police against demonstrators in Copenhagen

Day by day reactions on repression December 12 to 18:

Saturday 12th of December – Come safely to peaceful demonstration

The left wing cover up

Sunday 13th of December – ”we were violently opposed”

Monday 14th of December – ”unfortunately too many arrests”

Tuesday 15th of December ”It does not belong in a democracy”

Wednesday 16th of December – “No soft feelings”

Thursday 17th of December – ”Eat breakfast with Morales”

Friday 18th of December – International networks demonstrate against Danish repression

Danish self-criticism

Why is the left promoting police perspectives?

Danish political claustrophobia

The way the Danish left assess Copenhagen

The paternalistic Red Green Alliance

Trotskyist climate heroes without guts

Non-parliamentary left: A Waterloo for activists, not a new Seattle

From anti neoliberal left to authoritarian state-media governance left

Other material:

12 December Initiative – huge success or background for branding?

Open letter on Denmark’s freedom and legal situation

The whole world on trial

The Fall of the Bella Wall: Power Reclaimed

Day by day reactions on repression December 12 to 18

Saturday 12th of December – Come safely to peaceful demonstration

Happy environmentalists on their way to the 12December initiative march. Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nios/ / CC BY-NC 2.0

Prior to the demonstration December 12 the organizers had stated that it would be safe. Come safely to peaceful demonstration was one title on an article about the preparations. The article continued: “On 12 December is the great popular demonstration on the streets of Copenhagen – with 499 organizations from over 60 countries. Despite the many participants should there be no difficulty – the organizers have a grip on security.

The people behind the demonstration on 12 December has done a great job to avoid confrontations with police.

’We believe that the demonstration is in good order. We have among other demonstration guides from the union, and we have held several meetings with police,’ says Knud Vilby, press spokesman for the demonstration on 12 December.

The demonstration is divided into different blocks, each receive a series of demonstration guides. Many of the guides are from the Construction workers union MS, who also stood for the demo Safety, at the EU summit in Copenhagen in 2002. Moreover, the organizers of the rally, “12th December Initiative “, held meetings with all the more radical and potentially violent groups that have promised high and holy to remain at rest.”

The two most left wing parliamentary parties were the first to stand up on the side of the police version of what have happened on Saturday evening and thus legitimating the arbitrary mass arrest during the December 12 demonstration. They together with the right wing xenophobian and climate sceptical Danish People’s Party could together put their immediate efforts in favour of the police while the right wing governmental parties and the social democrats except for the Conservative minister of Justice did not need to do anything as the left wing parties did their job. It is more convincing if the organizers of the December 12 demonstration supports the police views against the demonstrators than if the right wing governmental parties which were not among the organizers would have supported the police repression of the demonstrators.

First to act was the Red Green Alliance, the most left wing parliamentary party of Denmark born out of the former traditional communist party, a trotskyist party and left socialist party. This party issued a press release already on the same day of the demonstration with the title: The Red Green Alliance denounces riot in connection to climate demonstration. The official party message continued by beginning to state:

”Red Green Alliance condemn the group of “activists” who used the main climate demonstration as a cover for throwing stones at windows and police. Hence they assume a heavy responsibility, if people in the future abstain from participating in peaceful demonstrations, because one cannot know for sure what smaller groups might abuse these demonstrations for and what consequences this may have for ordinary demonstrators” said Per Clausen, climate spokes person for the Red Green Alliance.

In contrast to the claimed riot makers attacking the police with stones the press release continued by appraisal of  ”the impression of a great and beautiful manifestation of 100,000 participants” which according to the party ”showed us how we can involve many people in a way that sends a clear signal to those in power that we are many that require a fair and effective climate treaty.” and concluding:  ”This is the way to create positive change”

The press release also mentions in the end that: ”Unfortunately, there is strong evidence that many completely innocent demonstrators were detained by police and they arrested unnecessarily came to sit three to four hours on the icy ground. Together with that the police apparently played an active role in pushing troublemakers into the peaceful demonstration this points at a need for an investigation of the role of police.”

The most left wing parliamentary party here sets the tone by adopting a description of the course of events which puts the main emphasis on creating a picture of one group violently attacking the police and the police that unfortunately does mistakes. The identification with the police has gone so far that even the chronology is rearranged to fit into the picture of inherently violent troublemakers on one side, from the outset peaceful police that might do some mistakes on the other side but never have a role that needs to be put into brackets and finally demonstrators with the role to always be peaceful and send signals to those in power.

The correct order of the course of events was that no stone causing any harm to the police was thrown at all from the demonstration. What happened was that a police man was hit by a stone after the mass arrest had taken place, without being seriously hurt and at a long distance from were the mass arrest took place and far away from the demonstration. By changing the order of events main stream TV managed to make the massive police arrests more acceptable, a falsification of history in favour of the police that also the Red Green Alliance decided as important to endorse. A main stream right wing organisation could not have done it better.

Per Clausen. Press photo Mads Nissen

While Red Green Alliance was busy telling the world a story favouring a police perspective built on rumours arrested demonstrators were in deep trouble detained in the Valby special prison for climate protesters. Organisations and friends were worried about their comrades and members. The Socialist Justice party of Sweden belonging to CWI approached Friends of the Earth Sweden to get information on what was going on and what to do. 40 of their party activists from all over the world had been arrested. FoE Sweden decided to initiate a press conference together with as many concerned organisations that could be reached. Within less than half an hour it was possible to find out that any kind of organisation had their members in prison. Nature and Youth Sweden, the youth environmentalist organisation connected to the Conservation Society, Attac, Hare Krishna, Friends of the Earth from at least four countries etc. None had seen any attacks on the police or windows smashed were they had been walking in the demonstration. After a while some of the detained were released and we could meet them. One girl had a more than two inch long and deep broad wound on her wrist. The plastic straps had been put on so hard that first her hands got swollen and then when the police should cut them off they had to cut into her body to get it done. When it was possible for a few Swedish organisations to find out in such a short time about many cases there must be many more.

What was now needed was capacity to organize a press conference, a room, international press lists, ability to contact each other from our very different places were we stayed and have sufficient common message and people that had been arrested to make the press conference fruitful. The most relevant organizational actor to ask was the Danish demonstration coordinators. They if anyone had the self interest in protecting their demonstrators.

I went to Jörn Andersen, the organiser that had been most visible to international organisations during the whole preparatory process. Andersen represented the Climate Movement Denmark but was also a member of the Red Green Alliance. He had a key position as he also belonged to the International Socialist fraction in the party, a fraction linked to Socialist Worker´s Party in the UK who were the key organisers of the Global climate action days both December 2009 but also earlier. He if anyone ought to be able and interested in helping us. But he was the opposite.

The first thing he said was in a rejecting voice, did I have some facts. That I had a lot of facts about what had happened to quite a few demonstrators that were in need for solidarity and anti repression work by the demonstration coordinators did not impress upon him. He did not believe that the Danish coordinators would act and coordinate any solidarity work for the detained demonstrators. It was up to us and others to help ourselves the best we could. His party had already chosen without us knowing it and without Andersen informing us to act collectively in immediate support of false facts favouring the police. To make extreme demands on facts supporting the demonstrators was than appropriate to support the version they already had given to the press.

So Andersen’s prediction was probably correct. As the most well connected organisation in both Denmark and internationally the Red Green Alliance had chosen what side they were on and what role they claimed the demonstrators had in the immediate reaction. And to his own trotskyist fraction at the core of the whole Global Climate Action Day internationally it was more important in practice to be servile in relationship to the alliance partners than to act in solidarity with the invited demonstrators. After all the demonstrators go home afterwards but the allied main stream left wing parties and NGOs behind the tcktcktck campaign continues to be a force to take into consideration is the thinking behind this kind of reaction. To change such a first position from the Red Green Alliance needed careful attention and then there was not time for any solidarity work for those that had been degradingly treated by the police with the exception of the youth wing who protested at the prison but waited many days until the party had changed their first position to comment upon what had happened.

Klimaforum offered help instead, a computer could be borrowed at their office for some minutes, the press room could be used, the press people kindly asked by the press staff to leave a room or stay to listen to the press conference, a cell phones could be recharged at a luxury hotel by a member of a main stream Swedish television crew that were upset about the exaggerated police activity. In some way Danish Attac, Nature and Youth, Friends of the Earth Sweden and Socialist Justice party were able to get our act together precise in time in spite of cell phones lacking sufficient payment for getting on the air, internet connections getting down, email lists missing and arrested people already gone home. Somehow in spite of lack of systematic press contact work the press conference room was more than full when we started. Le Monde, L’Unita, Main stream TV from Denmark and Sweden and a lot of other media were there and the message got out.

Meanwhile had the political line by the Red Green Alliance paralysed the whole demonstration committee. It was now time for any Danish organiser of the demonstration to act on their own against the demonstrators and support the police to strengthen their perceived image among the population via mass media. Thus was the first Red Green Alliance press release followed by a statement from the justice affairs spokes person of the Socialist People’s Party, close to midnight when still many were in prison. On her party blog under the title What happened at the climate demonstration? Karina Lorentzen presented the same false story as Red Green Alliance, this time with an additional touch to exaggerate the story further. People had chosen to throw cobble stones at the police  – or others who may happen to be in firing line.

Her conclusions was clear: ”When such an incident occurs, I think we all have an expectation that the police intervene and stop such incidents. The alternative could be a smashed city, people randomly hurt or that the large demonstration was stopped and the important message to politicians not delivered. I therefore fully support that the police intervened. It meant that most of the demonstrators could continue peacefully to the Bella Center which they should be thanked for.”

Here we can see the socialist future: If we as organisers of a demonstration do not fully support police intervention we would see how the whole demonstration would need to stop, the whole city being destroyed, anyone being hurt, to not talk about the message to the politicians not delivered.

Lorentzen started her statement by describing how ”wildly fantastic” it was to walk with 100,000 other in the demonstration meeting among others a panda, a horse on a bicycle, a giant snowman, and many other funny contributions.

She also addressed after fully supporting the police intervening in a sudden questioning mood that ”Nearly a thousand people were detained. It is quite a lot and now it seems also as that the complaints from people who feel wrongly arrested, are coming in. Only 4 charges are currently been raised and it may indeed be said to be negligible among one thousand people. It could provide for a good reflection on whether the police have gone too far. The Socialist People’s Party have against this background asked the Minister to explain the course of events – now we have to get identified what happened and criticism should be used to work forward looking to ensure that innocent civilians in the future not will fall foul.”

Lorentzen than explained why her party had been against the new hooligan law package that gave the police the possibility to intervene as they did. The party warned against preventive arrests and would like to have ensured the possibility that citizens could get a chance to escape and avoid incurring a withdrawal.

The juridical spokes person of the Socialist People´s Party ends with making clear were her main sentiments are directed: ”My final reply must be that I’m fucking tired of activists who use violence and vandalism in order to draw attention to their cause. Frankly, there is no justification – and it’s wildly unsympathetic that you hide among peaceful demonstrators to perform your misdeeds. Stop it, it does not benefit the cause and it shifts focus in the most annoying way from what is important – namely a good, binding climate agreement.”

The immediate response on this blog post was sometimes overwhelmingly positive, but to a growing degree critical. “Your entire second paragraph in your blog post have a problem – primarily because the facts are not okay. We know that the black group would not ’break into the peaceful demonstration’ as you write but that they were pushed into the demonstration by the police as they would go from Højbro Plads, although it was not their intention to go along. Already here all your arguments go wrong and hence your conclusion ”you hide among peaceful demonstrators to perform your misdeeds”.

With the two most left wing parliamentary parties decided to act individually and siding with the police the rest of the Danish organisers chose the same method, avoid any collective responsibility and at times make their own isolated statement to the press to wash their hands. Knud Vilby, the spokes person of the demonstration. stated to the press that the police had acted disproportionate.

Everything was by now very clear enough to act collectively in defence of the rights of the demonstrators and against the escalation of repression. The two main newspapers in Denmark had revealed in their immediate reporting that it was the police that pushed unwilling Never trust a COP activists in black clothes into the main demonstration. These activists had published plans on the internet that they wanted to protests in the city centre and not walk with the march to the South. When this group of activists according to the advice by the police came to the demonstration some windows at the stock exchange, one at the foreign ministry and one at a bank were smashed along the demonstration route. 1 km from the stock exchange and more than 0,5 km from the bank more than 900 people were arrested and detained in a specially prepared prison half an hour after troubles started. Jyllandsposten, the biggest pro-governmental Danish daily reported that ”It was an apparently well-prepared and rehearsed policing plan, which resulted in one of Denmark’s largest mass arrests”. After the mass arrest almost 1 km away at Christiania were four cars burnt and a policemen was hit by a cobble stone without being seriously hurt.

In spite of that it was clear that the Danish state had made a massive attack on democratic rights and the police according to the pro-government daily apparently organized an ambush against the demonstration the organisers chose to act individually as persons or organisations. The strong wording among the organisers were still directed against the non existent people in the demonstrations that had thrown cobble stones hurting a policeman, not to protect their own demonstrators.

The left wing cover up

Solidarity banner at the front of the social democratic youth bloc in the 12 December demonstration. Photo IUSY

The numerous witnesses about the abuses during the mass arrests made it soon necessary to shift tactics among the Danish organisers of the demonstration. This was done in an odd way. If the first statements had been the result of the risk of not having the full picture the day after this was not the case anymore.

The way the 12 December Initiative acted was to avoid any collective responsibility and instead give free possibility to Danish organisations in the initiative to use the situation as they liked. It would last until January 7 for the main spokes person Knud Vilby of the 12 December initiative to make a stronger call for critical discussion of not the role of the organisers of the demonstration but how Denmark had acted. So many weeks after he promoted the basic police perspective story implanted by the left wing parties and media together keeping it alive, a story that directly links the police intervention with cobble stones against a policemen getting hurt. The ”fantastic experience … was only marred by members of the ’black block’ who behaved, in particular with throwing cobblestones in Christianshavn. One policeman was wounded, and I know from demonstrators – including a group of college students – that they were glad when the police intervened.”

Instead of reacting collectively against the politics of the Danish state to organize mass escalation of degrading treatment of demonstrators individualistic competition in promoting diverse policy proposals via mass media started. The extreme support by the most left wing parliamentary parties on Saturday of a police version making repression in a scale not seen in many countries against a demonstration understandable, had to be replaced by something else. And why not with a quarrel among all left wing parties on different policy proposals. Here each party could raise its profile making some discrete retreats from the mistakes the first day in a clever cover up operation in close relationship with the media.

Why should the reporters ask troublesome questions to the parties that organised the demonstration why they not together with others in the Danish 12 December Initiative collectively defended their demonstrators. It was so much more politically uninteresting to promote a politically powerless quarrel on policy details between individualistically acting parties. Popular movements and an interested public in many countries all over the world would really have been interested in why the Danish organisations that had invited 100 000 demonstrators to come to Copenhagen did not want to collectively defend them. That was the politically interesting question that the Danish media and the Danish organizations in unity avoided.

Sunday 13th of December

Waiting fr transport to the cages in the climate prison. Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kk/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

On Sunday December 13 the papers were full of reports how the Socialist People’s Party together with the Danish People’s Party were the strong supporters of the police action against the demonstration. Lorentzen from the Socialist People’s Party continued to back the police by stating to Ritzau, the Danish news agency, that it is difficult for the police to see who is violent and who is peaceful. “- Police have a very difficult task. When they block a street off, there might be some who may not have anything with this to do.”

“Both Socialist People’s Party (SF) and Danish People’s Party (DF) supports the Police”. Ritzau December 13
(National news agency)

Troublesome for the Socialist People’s Party was a growing negative reaction at both the blog of the spokes person of justice affairs and the facebook group of the party leader Villy Søvndal. Hundreds of people reacted often very strongly against the position of the party and many questioned their membership.

Later on Sunday Lorentzen issued a press release in which she expressed that it is wrong to arrest people before they have committed any wrongdoing. “When the hooligan package was adopted, we very much pointed at that preventive arrests are problematic because it is an interference before people have committed a crime. This means of course that you might get some in the net who have not intended to start a turmoil”.

In the Red Green Alliance it was not the spokes person for justice affairs that acted but the spokes person for climate Per Clausen who continued to intervene. In a press release on Sunday the party clearly distanced itself from any form of setting the streets on fire during the climate summit, and continued in the words of Clausen that:

”It is however also necessary that the demonstrators who not have a desire to set the streets on fire, have the opportunity to make actions. Unfortunately, it appears that police arbitrarily arrested trying to prevent this. We therefore require an examination of police use of preventive arrests and other use of force in connection with the climate summit. Particularly, we think the police attempt to prevent the press’s work must be investigated”

The original version mainly condemning people using the demonstration for throwing stones at the police had changed and the focus was now on fire in the streets and that it ”appeared” as if the police had stopped people from using their right to express themselves. For some reason the party shows special interest only in one group were they ask for extra attention in the investigation they want to be conducted, the press.

When it seemed as a slight difference between the position of the Red Green Alliance and the Socialist People’s Party emerged Clausen was not late in using it. In the press he stated that the competing left wing party was embarrassing as it did not take a clear distance from unreasonable police preventive arrests of people who have done nothing illegal. It is important both to distance oneself from violence and vandalism and the police state, he concluded.

“Broad political support for the police”. DR, (Danish public service media).

The Social liberal non left wing party in opposition to the right wing government also expressed their concerns. They accused the government for the law that had permitted the police to make the mass arrest: This law ”made it easy for the police to detain people preventively. So before they ever have done anything.” The spokes person of the social liberal party continued about the law ”We were violently opposed at the time, and we are still.”

So what many left wingers would describe as a bourgeoisie party made the opposite to the left wing parties in three ways. Firstly attacking the government and not the police or other oppositional parties to the left. Secondly focusing on that it is wrong to detain innocent people. Thirdly using emotional wording as violently not from a police perspective but rather from a democratic giving emphasis on the concern the party had from the beginning and now even more had against the law and its consequences.

This made it obvious that it was possible to mobilise a broad alliance far beyond the left wing political culture to defend the democratic rights against the new mass arrest practice. The problem was not that it was impossible in Denmark to formulate the basis for collectively denouncing the attack on the integrity of the 12 December initiative mass protest. The problem was that both the left wing parties and the Danish organizing committee were unwilling to mobilise any collective response but preferred individualistic and disperse reactions.

During Sunday almost a whole demonstration was mass arrested on the way to the harbour were a non-violent action had been announced.

Monday 14th of December

“Socialist People’s Party (SF) wriggles in the case of mass arrests”, Politiken (Social Liberal press)

The course of events threatened the position of the Socialist People’s Party which presents itself as both environmentally more concerned than other parties as well as more concerned about democracy, most often also with social justice concerns. The conservative press noted with some malicious joy correctly that many of the arrested demonstrators were members of the party that now had supported the police in their action against the members. In the middle of the day on Monday Lorenzen made one more press release to explain herself with the title: SF supports neither mass arrests of innocent, or inhumane treatment of detainees. The emphasis in the beginning is now on how the party ”fought a brave battle against both ’the Hooligan package’ and preventive arrests, which are the tools used by  Police on Saturday.”

The emphasis also have changed in such a way that it is now the government rather than the police or activists which is criticized. The blame is: ”first and foremost on the responsible government politicians …. With their constraints and the Hooligan package they have whipped up a mood and clearly signalled to police that they should keep quiet in the streets at any cost. Even at the cost of freedom of assembly.”

She continues: ”we must focus on the perpetrators, rather than uniquely focusing on the police, who simply carried out what resembles a political order. Thus it is the police who carried out many arrests, but it is the government and the Danish People’s Party, which has shed the bullets to arrest disproportionately many innocent people.”

The rest of the press release is understanding the problems of the police when 100.000 are on the streets and ”mistakes” are bound to occur. It is the law which has a too ”broad scope” that is the problem and to this end the party demands an explanation from the police and the minister of Justice. She ends by a more strong emotional language:

”I would also like to stress that it was undoubtedly necessary for the police to act against those who threw the firecracker and cobbles in the middle of an otherwise fantastic and peaceful demonstration. This behaviour is in no way an expression of democratic sentiment. We have also previously seen some cities being totally devastated by the violent protesters: Berlin, Seattle and many more. Copenhagen should not be in this row.

Therefore I can not stress enough that we can and must take a deep distance from violent activists. And I’m in short, wildly offended that firecracker throwing troublemakers allows themselves to interfere with the ordinary demonstrators”

It was now necessary for the popular party leader Villy Søvndal to intervene. Two hours after the spokes person made her third statement after the demonstration with shifting focus and different content he wrote on his facebook page under the heading: Nice demonstration – unfortunately too many arrests.

He started by stating that ”we should be happy and proud that we can hold such a demonstration in Copenhagen … that showed Danish involvement in the fight for a fair and ambitious climate agreement” He continued that this impression ”should not be destroyed by a few troublemakers.”

”From my side it can not be said clearly enough: I will by no means accept that a small group of black clad thugs try to create unrest and violence in the shelter of a great peaceful and family-friendly demonstration. For me, democracy is that people can participate in demonstrations with their small children without fear of being recruited into street fighting and stone throwing.”

He continued: ”It is the police’s task to ensure peace and order. And therefore it is of course entirely appropriate that the police intervene if there are people who are rioting. But having said that, I also think that it seems out of proportion to arrest 1,000 people, when you subsequently only bring a handful of them to the court. It is of course quite untenable that the police let people sit for hours on the cold asphalt, so that people pee in their pants, etc. It must be possible to do it better.”

Søvndal concluded by criticising the government and stating that ”My position is that the hooligan package should be abolished under a future government.”

This was news. Before the Socialist People’s Party had voted against the new law package proposed by the government but not promised that if they came to power they would abolish the law, as the Social democrats. Contrary to the social liberal party and the Red Green Alliance they voted against the law package not on principle but to gain some attention while maintaining a wait and see position. Now the party leader had decided that it was the time to declare a more stead fast opposition while the emotional rhetoric still was much in support of the police and mainly directed against activist accused of intending to use the demonstration for street fighting.

During the day the No border demonstration to protect the rights of climate and other refugees went along without problem. In the night the police intervened at Christiania were Climate Justice Action had a debate followed by a party. The police stormed into Christiania throwing tear gas and arrested people meeting some resistance.

Tuesday 15th of December ”It does not belong in a democracy”

Social democratic youth bloc in the 12 december demonstration.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/americagov/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

Tuesday was the time for the third left wing party to intervene, the Social Democrats. They did not see any reason to make much of public statements in the press before this as their positions on policing is very close to that of the Socialist People’s Party. But now their cooperation partner had gone too far.

The press could report that ”There are cracks in the otherwise close cooperation between Social democrats and Socialist People’s Party, when it comes to policing during the climate summit. While the chair of the Socialist people’s Party Søvndal has attacked the police handling during Saturday’s big climate demonstration in Copenhagen, a completely different message comes from the Social Democrats’ political spokesman, Henrik Sass Larsen.”

“We have confidence that the police acted properly. There is not something I would criticize the police for, ” says Henrik Sass Larsen.

Also justice affairs spokesperson Karen Haekkerup distance herself to Søvndal’s criticism.

”The police have done well. They ensured that the vast majority could implement a very popular, festive demonstration, without it being destroyed by the types here, ”

When asked if Søvndal do not understand this, says Hækkerup:

“I will not give character to Søvndal. I just think that we must take care to give police peace while they work and to show that Danes are behind them when they stand here in the extremely difficult working situation where they must provide security to the climate summit, and so that Copenhagen is not set on fire. ”

“Social democrats (S) and Socialist People’s Party (SF) disagree on police critique”, Berlingske (Conservative press)

The pecking order among the left wing parties all speaking at the demonstration was established. The one with the most privileged speaking slot at the best place and time for media attention at the demonstration, the Social democrats, most strongly and consistently in favour of the police attack on the demonstration. The two other left wing parties with less privileged speaking slots, in the beginning in favour of a police perspective making the police attack on the demonstration understandable and then in different degrees opposing the mass arrest and partly the police perspective. All avoiding initiating a collective response from the Danish organisers on the repressive politics carried out by the Danish state against climate protesters in Copenhagen. This new pecking order made it possible for the Red Green Alliance to more and more take the side of the climate protesters.

The most interesting thing with this day is how it is now revealed the way a left wing party and maybe all of them think strategically. One reason why the social democrats do not defend the demonstrators in the manifestation they themselves are collectively responsible for as organisers and among the privileged speakers is explicitly stated. It is not the way the police act against the demonstrators which is the main interest for this party, but the situation the police have when in general they ”must provide security to the climate summit”. A task presented not as related to the demonstration in the past but as a task in the present as the protests at Bella Center are not over.

Tadzio Müller distributing Turbulence at the 12 December demonstration. Photo Avenirclima.org

On Tuesday also the escalation of extreme repression of a new kind not seen for a hundred years under normal circumstances in Europe was put into practice. Police arrested the spokesman of the Climate Justice Action, Tadzio Müller, after he had held a press conference at the Bella Center with several NGOs and organizations.

This kind of targeted arrests was once common in attempting at stopping popular movements. But the experience showed in the long run that it was counter productive. By conflating the role of spokes person for a non-violent action with the possibility that someone in the non-violent action other than the spokes person might harm a policemen the state could put many people in prison. At the same time this was practical in short term as the opinion of the movement got stiffed or silenced and was an effective way to criminalize freedom of expression. But as the underlying causes still existed this caused even more unrest as well as undermined the whole rule of law with its principles of individual responsibility. Thus this extremely repressive politics had to be reconsidered.

Denmark reintroduced this state repression of freedom of expression a hundred years after it was seen as an unacceptable act against freedom and counterproductive way to postpone the solution of social conflicts escalating unrest instead of promoting political solutions. This is remarkable. How can a nation become so democratically backward that such state acts against freedom of expression reemerge without any collective response?

Line Barfod, Press photo Mads Nissen

The Red Green Alliance issued a press release with a protest. That was about all. Line Barfod, the spokes person on justice affairs of the party stated: Arrest of spokesperson is an error.

”- It is quite wrong to arrest the spokesperson from an avowedly non-violent organization. Were are we heading, if we begin to arrest the spokespersons from legal and non-violent political groups.

– Police should instead maintain dialogue with non-violent activists to ensure that their protest tomorrow will take place without violence from either activists or police, as also the activists want.

It is a very unfortunate signal to the world we send in those days. First mass arrests of hundreds of innocent protesters and now arrests of the spokespersons of the protest movement. It does not belong in a democracy.”

The Red Green Alliance also protested this day against NGOs being thrown out of the Bella Center:

It is totally unacceptable that NGOs are largely expelled from the Bella Center on Friday, when it expects to publish the outcome of the climate summit. The consequence is that critical voices will be gone and the world’s politicians will have the stage to himself and have the ability to sell a bad result as a success, says Per Clausen, climate spokes person for the red Green Alliance.

Environmental and global justice organisations made a last attempt at confronting the growing repression. Friends of the Earth Sweden, Climate Movement Denmark and Attac Denmark initiated a debate at Klimaforum with representatives from all continents in the South inviting all Danish parliamentary parties to come and listen to the views of international guests and give their opinion on repression during the COP15. Red Green Alliance turned up and the social liberal party would have liked to come but had problems on such a short notice. No other party was interested. The initiative to challenge Danish organisations to contribute to collective efforts against the repression ended in the same way as earlier, by individual statements and no commitment to act or even try to act collectively neither from a party or other formal Danish organisations.

Activist and police on agriculture protest day. Photo

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kk/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The protest action on agriculture organised by CJA, Via Campesina, Friend of the Earth, A SEED and others went well.

Wednesday 16th of December – “No soft feelings”

This was the day of the Reclaim power action. Targeted arrests continued against two spokes persons Nicolas Haeringer and Tannie Nybøe of CJA before the call for making the push at Bella center against the police lines were made to establish a People’s Assembly together with people coming from the inside. Mass arrests of almost a whole so called Green bloc took place at Örestad and the bike bloc also had great difficulties. But thousands marched in the main blue bloc steadfast towards Bella center.

In the midst of the preparations for the inside Reclaim power action to walk out the Socialist People’s Party leader Søvndal is interviewed at the Bella center by Jyllandsposten, the biggest and the most right wing daily of Denmark. He supports tough behaviour against violent activists, but called the police preliminary efforts too “imprecise”

“There is ‘no soft feelings’ against the violent elements who come here. It is important that police bank them when encountering them and the police must not be criticized for this. Rather, it is a prerequisite for peaceful demonstrations to be arranged. In return, they are not good at hitting accurately”

Reclaim power action from the inside encounter with the police. Photo Avenirclima.info

Soon a historically new step in the repression against popular movements takes place nearby were the Socialist party leader was interviewed. The Danish police starts to violently bank UN accredited delegates from movements that are participating in the Reclaim Power action from the inside to stop them from reaching those coming from the outside. It is the first time to my knowledge that officially UN accredited participants are beaten by police of the host country when they try to leave the official conference venue.

A People’s Assembly is finally successfully established by those on the outside surrounded almost completely by police and finally a march together to the city centre in good mood ends the mass action. In total 260 people are arrested and detained in the special climate prison in Valby during the day, some 30 pepper sprayed and 10 wounded among the activists. No reports of any harm to policemen or anything else is reported.

The youth wing of the right wing dominating governmental party, Venstres Ungdom, also expressed their concern about what had happened during the summit. The spokes person for Justice affairs of VU, Ida Swan Grevlund, issued a statement on the homepage of the organisation under the title ”The Hooligan package consequences for legal certainty”

”The 12th of December 2009 will be remembered as the day when the rule of law and its basic principles had to give way for each individual policemen arbitrary assessment of how extensively the ’law and order’ were respected. This was the day where up to 700 demonstrators during the climate summit were arrested and taken to the temporary COP15 prison cells where the detainees had to adapt to many hours of waiting behind bars in appalling conditions.

Some of the demonstrators were certainly arrested on a valid basis – it is totally unacceptable to throw paving stones and attacking police to get a political message across. But there was also an unnecessarily high number of innocent people among those arrested as the hooligan package allows the police to make the so-called preventative arrests. It has thus become legal to detain a person for up to 12 hours, only if the police deem that he possibly could jeopardize safety. Man is no longer innocent until proven otherwise, however, you are guilty even before you have done anything criminal.

It is very problematic that the police have increased powers to make far-reaching interventions in the individual’s personal freedom. Detention, as an administrative arrest of course is, requires considerable control and security. An arbitrary discretion from a tired cop is not enough if the rule of law should apply.

There have been several examples where the government has breached the constitution and the rule of fundamental parts to accommodate “’special security challenges.’ Here one can mention for instance terrorist legislation and now the hooligan package. Liberal youth do not think you can combat threats by restricting the individual’s constitutional rights. The end does not justify the means, because no situation should be able to put democracy in a state of emergency. The government’s goal with the hooligan package is to maintain security during the climate summit – but security is in no way created by undermining the rule of law.”

This statement received immediate positive comments from fellow companions:
– I could not agree more – super article!
– It is elegantly written! Unfortunately it seems that the popular mood is happy about the actions, although every third are genuine opponents to the package.
– Frederick: I have heard it and it can be only explained by the fact that some want to give up freedom for security .. It is incomprehensible to us liberals.

The continued comments differed from what happened to the Socialist People’s Party blog posts. The discussion was clearly focused on facts and principles rather than the populistic tone of both the socialist party spokes persons and many of their commentators in opposing directions although of course also here existed discussions to the point. With the statements from the social liberal party and now the more right wing liberal youth it became even more hard to understand why the left wing parties had chosen a far less coherent and at times police perspective in the way of responding to the repression.

Thursday 17th of December – ”Eat breakfast with Morales”

The party leader Søvndal announces that he will eat breakfast with the Socialist president Evo Morales from Bolivia on his facebook blog. Søvndal especially emphasises that Morales is a winner, someone that is clearly victorious against the right wing in the recent elections. He very much looks forward to meet this winner.

The Red Green Alliance politics now more firm in the hands of the spokes person Barfod for justice affairs do not either take part in collective action but makes something out of a response from the Conservative minister of justice on the hooligan law package. The minister had responded to earlier critical questions from Barfod that ”Of course, detainees protestors would be allowed to go to the bathroom and get something to drink”. Relatives were also assured that they should be informed about the detention. ”It is in sharp contrast to the situation during the great peaceful demonstration on 12th of December, when 968 were detained.” Barfod stated in a press release.

Anti-repression demonstrators from CGT, Spain (No other carried organization banners). Photo Avenirclima.info

Others are more involved in collective organizing of protests against repression including the imprisoned Climate Justice Action spokes persons and the heavy crack down on both the inside and outside Reclaim power action, issues that Evo Morales addressed as speaker at the UN Conference but something Søvndal stays out of doing something about. In front of Christiansborg a fast organized vigil with protesters stating free the political prisoners and     takes place in the afternoon. The action is small, the media interest big.

At Klimaforum a seminar on popular movement cooperation against repression started. It was organized by Friends of the Earth Sweden, Climate Collective and others. A problem was that the Climate Collective preparing the seminar all were in prison.

At Valby hall not far from the climate prison thousands of people gathered to hear the Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and Morales speak. They mainly addressed climate issues and the need for socialism but also strongly protested against the police repression in Copenhagen. The Danish left wing organisers continued to avoid any collective response to the repression and support the demonstrators as well as the opinion of Morales and Chavez. The biggest indoor mass meeting during the whole climate summit perfectly placed for making a call for action against the repression of the climate justice movement was not used for this at all. The Danish left did see no need in supporting international solidarity in spite of that they had all the chances.

Friday 18th of December – International networks demonstrate against Danish repression

December 18 march against repression. Photo here and below: Avenirclima.org

Climate Justice Action and Climate Justice Now! organized a demonstration supported by all the present international popular movements against the repression, the mass arrests and with the demand to release the climate prisoners. 1,500 people participated. The Danish formal organisations were still as passive as ever continuing to avoid collective responsibility for protecting the rights of those that had marched on their invitation in Copenhagen.

Content

The COP15 promising ALBA mass meeting

The lost left wing opportunity

How the left supported the police against demonstrators in Copenhagen

Day by day reactions on repression December 12 to 18:

Saturday 12th of December – Come safely to peaceful demonstration

The left wing cover up

Sunday 13th of December – ”we were violently opposed”

Monday 14th of December – ”unfortunately too many arrests”

Tuesday 15th of December ”It does not belong in a democracy”

Wednesday 16th of December – “No soft feelings”

Thursday 17th of December – ”Eat breakfast with Morales”

Friday 18th of December – International networks demonstrate against Danish repression

Danish self-criticism

Why is the left promoting police perspectives?

Danish political claustrophobia

The way the Danish left assess Copenhagen

The paternalistic Red Green Alliance

Trotskyist climate heroes without guts

Non-parliamentary left: A Waterloo for activists, not a new Seattle

From anti neoliberal left to authoritarian state-media governance left

Other material:

12 December Initiative – huge success or background for branding?

Open letter on Denmark’s freedom and legal situation

The whole world on trial

The Fall of the Bella Wall: Power Reclaimed

Danish self criticism

After the Climate summit it was time for reflection. It was started in a broader scale by Knud Vilby, the spokes person of the 12th December initiative. On the 6th of January his open letter on Denmark’s freedom and legal situation was published in the daily Information were he had been editor in chief in the 1970s.

His attempt was made in the by now typical Danish way to act regarding the assault on democratic rights during the summit. It was done on individual basis and made no appeal  for collective responsibility from the Danish organization that had invited 100 000 people to come and protest and then being degradingly treated by the police. Instead the former spokes person of the 12th of December initiative Knud Vilby addressed ”Denmark”.

On the 7th of January in an open letter with the title ”An open letter on Denmark’s freedom and legal situation”. He stated ”We must discuss the mass arrests, the police new judiciary, and the exaggerated reactions to peaceful, non-violent civil disobedience in Wonderful Copenhagen” and continue:

”Dear all
We need to have a thorough conversation in our society about the way Denmark changed in December.
• Huge popular climate demonstrations were – at a very few exceptions – very peaceful, but nevertheless resulted in 2,000 arrests or detentions. This has never happened before.
• The distinction between violent and nonviolent civil disobedience effectively disappeared when the police and courts responded with the greatest violence against the non-violent actions.
• The gap between the judicial and executive power faded from sight, and the distinction between guilty and innocent blurry as police condemned many innocent temporary imprisonment.

If we consciously forget what happened, and without discussion goes into 2010 with the same laws, authorizations and attitudes, we say yes to that the most authoritarian form of authority will have even more power next time it becomes crucial.”

The letter opens up for a much needed self critical discussion among Danish organizations and their international cooperation partners not only regarding the repression of the December 12 demonstration but also against Climate Justice action and other protests during the summit.

There are some clear limitations. That still the false story of cobble stone throwing black dressed activists having wounded a policemen which made demonstrators welcoming the police intervention is promoted is one such limitation. The other is the elitist and state centric view.

It becomes clear why many formal Danish organizations lack interest in being accountable. They believe in leadership and that the main focus should be the state and the laws. Thus Vilby states about CJA:

”The next major action was the Climate Justice Action’s action. It was to bring critical demonstrators with critical delegates together at the Bella Center area. CJA had put everything openly forward. It was civil disobedience, but peaceful and non-violent. Personally, I was however very worried that protesters would drop peaceful unity when police arrested a day before one of the leaders, a known moderate German CJA activist. It was contrary to common sense and the advice that the police had received as part of the dialogue with them. It became even worse when one arrested two young Danish CJA responsible leaders. It was e.g. Stine Gry, which was part of 12.dec. planning and who had collaborated and informed fully open. She was rewarded with phone tapping and imprisonment.

Responsible leaders will ensure that civil disobedience does not lead to violence. They ensure that the goal is not destroyed by the fact that activists are angry and frustrated and goes berserk. But despite the arrests, it succeeded. The only violence we saw in the media were police swinging their sticks. The protesters were disciplined. Although the leadership was sent to jail, they kept themselves to the adopted virtually entirely peaceful program.”

Vilby and many formal Danish organizations do not trust the people. To them it is a surprise that people without leaders can still hold on to the main goal of an action. One can hope that some of them now will learn, at least Vilby seems willing to.

The greater problem is the focus on the state while the rest of the people is supposed to behave under responsible leadership. Vilby address the division of power between judicial and executive powers and a vague ”Denmark” which somehow is supposed to put things in order until next time. He rightly not only criticizes the government but also much of the opposition unfortunately without being at all specific.

Mass arrest at the Amagerbrogade four hours on the ground. Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kk/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

But the most immediately responsible is not criticized, the Danish 12 of December demonstration committee. Democracy is not only coming to life via government and political party opposition resulting in laws and implementations by executive organs. It is even more nurtured by all agreements in daily life ruled by written or unwritten laws maintaining commons of different character. We meet and we agree upon things and build trust.

The Danish 12 of December Initiative have invited us to demonstrate and it is their duty to protect every participant and the integrity of the whole demonstration. Not to use the 100 000 voices for their individualistic interests and promote the branding of their own organization while turning their back at the whole collective responsibility as quick as they get the chance to find new ways of branding themselves.

That the state can behave extreme is not totally new. What is historic about Copenhagen is that the organizations of the host country supported the police against the demonstrators in a demonstration that they themselves had organized. It is the duty of all demonstration committees that have any decent sense of democracy to collectively respond to the kind of massive repression against a demonstration which was enacted by the police in Copenhagen.

Dogs used by the police inside the kettle at Amagerbrogade.  Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kk/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

It is also their duty to denounce those organizers of the demonstration that uses the opportunity to support the police perspective and the mass arrests thus escalating repression further.

The state has as we know many different limitations in living up to democratic standards based on equal rights for all. Already the geographic limitations makes this obvious in a case when those states that emits most green house gases are those that have economic power to marginalize the voices and the rights of impoverished countries that carries the main burden of climate change as well as many other effects of unequal distribution of wealth and environmental destruction.

Thus it is important to demand democratic behavior of everyone in society, especially when voluntary agreeing to cooperate and inviting demonstrators from the whole world as the Danish committee have been doing. This demand for accountability has the advantage of being much easier to fulfil. Danish organizations signing the agreement behind the 12th of December demonstration should have not problem at all to come to a collective decision in majority or consensus on what happened and how to respond to repression including demanding an answer from those organizations that chose to support police perspectives and mass arrests.

The days when Danish organizations can continue to act individually and maintain their democratic respect among organizations and movements in the rest of the world are over. The Climate summit was not an internal Danish business, it was of importance for the whole world. But it was only Danish organizations that fully could prevent repression and stop it from escalating. They have utterly failed to do so and instead used the opportunity for competing individualistically with each other with those Danish organizations that was elected to have speaker at the demonstration at center stage. Instead of being democratic and call a meeting and decide collectively how to respond to the repression of movements from the whole world the Danish organizations behave as branding actors on a market in their full right to do as they pleased.

This is to betray both democracy and a strong climate movement. The discussion in Denmark Vilby calls for on state behavior is necessary, but first we need a collective democratic effort to see who fulfilled their plight to the foreign and other guests and who did not. Maybe it would even be possible to find out why formally democratic Danish organizations when put to the test refused to use democratic means and take their responsibility as supporters and organizers of the demonstration to collectively counteract the state repression against their manifestation to which they had invited people trusting that the Danish organizers were reliable.

It is about time that we as movements starts to make code of conducts when cooperating and strongly criticize those organizations that formally claim they are part of the collective effort but do not follow the rules in self interest to brand their own organization. Democracy is here and now, reclaimed all the time in our daily lives, at the workplace, at home, when we cooperate in smaller or larger scale. It is not something as Red Green Alliance stated about the demonstration, a question about acting in a way” that sends a clear signal to those in power”. To instrumentalize participants in a demonstration or other form of movement cooperation stating that the only thing that matters is to ask others to do something is not democracy, it is elitism. When it is combined with refusal to collectively counteract repression it is anti democratic and paves the way for an authoritarian state.

The attempts by Vilby to open up for a self critical debate and the positions of organizations as the social liberal party, young right wing liberals and climate justice action activists in Denmark shows that there are forces and possibilities to learn from the course of events in Copenhagen. But we cannot come further without that concerned organizations in Denmark and abroad collectively takes responsibility, investigate in how the collective solidarity especially from Danish organizations failed and decide how this should be addressed in the future.

Especially important is it that those Danish organizations that had the key possibility to do something but did not are called into question by their national and international partners. It is especially three left wing parties, with important fraction five political organizations, that have failed to support collective solidarity and at times supported a police perspective or even fully support the police intervention. It is the Social democratic party, the Socialist People’s Party and the Red Green Alliance were both fractions of the 4th international and the Internationalist Socialist allied with the Socialist Worker’s Party in Britain play a crucial role in the mass activities during the Climate summit.

We need to know if these parties and other parties are willing to learn and change their individualistic behavior at COP15 in the future or if they will continue to constitute a threat to protest movements also after Copenhagen. We need to know if their international sister parties agree to what their cooperation partners did in Copenhagen and if one can expect the same behavior from them in the future or if they are willing to jointly with the peasant, environmental and the whole climate justice movement confront repression and criminalization of popular movements.

Tord Björk

Content

The COP15 promising ALBA mass meeting

The lost left wing opportunity

How the left supported the police against demonstrators in Copenhagen

Day by day reactions on repression December 12 to 18:

Saturday 12th of December – Come safely to peaceful demonstration

The left wing cover up

Sunday 13th of December – ”we were violently opposed”

Monday 14th of December – ”unfortunately too many arrests”

Tuesday 15th of December ”It does not belong in a democracy”

Wednesday 16th of December – “No soft feelings”

Thursday 17th of December – ”Eat breakfast with Morales”

Friday 18th of December – International networks demonstrate against Danish repression

Danish self-criticism

Why is the left promoting police perspectives?

Danish political claustrophobia

The way the Danish left assess Copenhagen

The paternalistic Red Green Alliance

Trotskyist climate heroes without guts

Non-parliamentary left: A Waterloo for activists, not a new Seattle

From anti neoliberal left to authoritarian state-media governance left

Other material:

12 December Initiative – huge success or background for branding?

Open letter on Denmark’s freedom and legal situation

The whole world on trial

The Fall of the Bella Wall: Power Reclaimed

Why is the left promoting police perspectives?

What is clear from Kund Vilby’s open letter and the support of the police from Social democrats is that the question is not repression of the mass demonstration but how to relate to all the protests and policing during COP15. This is of course in the mind of every left wing group or party with ambitions to change society or become government.

Consciously or unconsciously the Danish formal left wing organizations in their reactions on the repression of the December 12 demonstration had in mind the coming days during COP15 and especially the Reclaim power action which they all had opposed.


Attac the exception. Here Christophe Aguiton arguing at the police kettle at Amagerbrogade. Photo avenirclimat.info

All formal Danish voices from any kind of strands that had been raised with the exception of Attac in the last minute had claimed that the action was impossible in Denmark on moral grounds. The reason for this was that civil disobedience even if non-violent directed against a legislative assembly was of such a different nature than other civil disobedience against more acceptable goals to the public like shutting down a coal fire plant or organizing a picket to stop privatization of services. Attac changed their mind after that it became clear that in 2002 such an action had been successfully carried out during an EU-Summit at the Bella Center without escalating into violence.

There was also a second reason shared by many more including those that could see no hindrance in principle towards non-violent actions at legislative assemblies like the parliament, EU or UN summit. This reason was the fact that there was an additional reason to protect the Bella center compared to many other targets, a cause behind a police action. The politicians inside were known goals for terrorists and thus extraordinary ways was necessary to protect them. As one commentator summed it up in Politiken afterwards, the whole action was totally unacceptable as a murderer could hide among those pushing for coming inside.

The argument that terrorist attacks of this kind never have happened during summit protests is no reason for disclaiming this argument. The police are anyway in their full right legally and morally to act as if such a possibility could be a reality. That some arguing for the action at times were not aware of the seriousness did not make the situation easier. It had been stated once at a CJA preparatory meeting that there were no risks for getting shot by security guards as inside the Bella center were tens of thousands of delegates and so there were security measures in many layers before it would be possible to reach the persons that needed special protection.

This was of course partly true and an argument against the somewhat exaggerated opinion in Politiken against the action. On the other hand also naive. There were no reason to believe that the police or other security forces would regard reclaim power activists whether in a main bloc or separate affinity groups as the same as NGO delegates once they had overcome the first police barriers and further closer to the building at the entrance at the subway were the NGO delegates entered or elsewhere. On the other hand this was also an argument for that establishing a People’s Assembly inside the Bella center area which was in practice done at the EU Summit 2002 after pushing the police a bit did not pose a security threat to the well protected inside. There were not only many security barriers inside the building but also many barriers to overcome if the mass action had overcome the first police cordon.

There were at times an omnipotent language in the CJA preparations talking about disrupting the official conference for a whole day unspecified in what way by entering from outside and with the help of those inside making it unclear what the goal of the action was. To disrupt COP15 by establishing inside the Bella center area a People’s Assembly by the force of mass civil disobedience from the outside and with NGO and governmental delegates from the inside calling for a different agenda than the official. Or to disrupt the conference also physically inside the venue coming from the outside. Closer to the date for the action the goal to establish a People’s Assembly became more and more clearly expressed and both for this reason and that other goals were practically out of reach for the action arguments against Reclaim power became more and more invalid if taking into consideration the gap between the official arguments for the acute need for action on climate change and inability in the negotiations visible since many months or longer of that negotiations would fail.

What made the formal Danish organizations, many of them claiming to be system critical, anyway almost in unison totally reject the Reclaim power action in spite of the predictable failure of the conference and that the formal organizations claimed that another agenda was utterly important is of importance to find out. Are the Danish formal organizations less interested than they claim in a politics that can stop climate change? Are they seeing other more ideological goals as more important as the idea that all legislatives assemblies should for ever be excluded from any civil disobedience regardless of what decisions are made inside?

Another possibility is that the formal organizations do not trust people. Vilby may not be alone in his prior assessment that without leaders a mass non violent action may go out of hand. Is it out of question to take any risks for a formal Danish organisation were its leadership might need to answer on why they were so naive believing that people in common could be disciplined during a mass action were the police might provoke in different ways?

Police during the mass arrest of the December 12 march. Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kk/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The other option was to play safely and unite with main stream NGOs stating as a main message from the 12 December demonstration the by December illusionary wish for a real deal with a secondary main ideological message, trust the leaders. This secondary main message was in total opposition to the message from the reclaim power action.

Faced with this reality the most resourceful left wing actors makes the choice to support a view in favour of a police perspective on what happened at the demonstration 12 December. Furthermore is no collective response organized among formal Danish organizations against the police intervention by the left wing parties supporting the integrity of the demonstration. The first reaction among the left wing parties is to internalize the views of the police, even more actually than the police themselves. The story that the mass arrests took place after a policemen was hurt by a stone is made up by the media and the left wing parties, it is not in the official police statement explaining the reason for the action. The Danish organizations gets paralyzed by the fact that they have made a choice. They are against questioning the official summit by non violent disobedience and have all instead opted for a broad mass demonstration. Then they have to follow the line completely and use the same arguments against the integrity of the demonstration as they use against the reclaim power action. Demonstrators in any kind of manifestation are dangerous and we need to understand that the police must intervene as the risks are far higher than we can imagine. If they do not exist we must help by telling that the risks in anyway existed and thus the reason for the police to intervene was by all means understandable.

Citizens against activist violence demonstrating in the middle of the gathering of the demonstration.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/americagov/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

By internalizing a police definition on violence and reasons for intervening the formal Danish organizations becomes as integrated into the state as the main stream NGOs that chose to say no to participate in supporting a people’s climate forum in Copenhagen as they had all access to influencing the summit from inside the Bella center as accredited lobbyists. But the internalizing of the police definition of violence is more hidden. Those controlling system critical media are often strongly related to the same organizations that as in Denmark have chosen to support the police, at least in the decisive moment. There is much at stake for the formal organizations and thus they try as much as possible to act behind the scenes instead of openly.

But what happened in Copenhagen is historical also in the way that this time it became obvious how this internalization of the police interests is expressed and organized. The key argument against the Reclaim power action was that any kind of pushing a policemen at the Bella Center would immediately result in violence, and violence is if it is executed by the police or a demonstrator totally unacceptable. As the non-violent person pushing a policemen is the cause of this predictable violence this action must be totally rejected. There were more or less no objections to the political demands of the reclaim power action from organization demanding climate justice, only this that the violence that would occur due to an action at a legislative assembly was impossible to explain to members and the public and also to many morally unacceptable.

Tord Björk

Content

The COP15 promising ALBA mass meeting

The lost left wing opportunity

How the left supported the police against demonstrators in Copenhagen

Day by day reactions on repression December 12 to 18:

Saturday 12th of December – Come safely to peaceful demonstration

The left wing cover up

Sunday 13th of December – ”we were violently opposed”

Monday 14th of December – ”unfortunately too many arrests”

Tuesday 15th of December ”It does not belong in a democracy”

Wednesday 16th of December – “No soft feelings”

Thursday 17th of December – ”Eat breakfast with Morales”

Friday 18th of December – International networks demonstrate against Danish repression

Danish self-criticism

Why is the left promoting police perspectives?

Danish political claustrophobia

The way the Danish left assess Copenhagen

The paternalistic Red Green Alliance

Trotskyist climate heroes without guts

Non-parliamentary left: A Waterloo for activists, not a new Seattle

From anti neoliberal left to authoritarian state-media governance left

Other material:

12 December Initiative – huge success or background for branding?

Open letter on Denmark’s freedom and legal situation

The whole world on trial

The Fall of the Bella Wall: Power Reclaimed

The way the Danish left assess Copenhagen

Socialist People’s Party SF balloon competing with Greenpeace snowman for attention at the December 12 climate march. Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/johan_nielsen/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

How is then the left discussing what happened during the summit? The Social democrats keeps totally quiet as if their full support of the police is sufficient. This can be compared to the Social democrats in Sweden who after the riots at the EU Summit in Gothenburg 2001 initiated an official inquiry chaired by a former Social democratic prime minister and a former chair of the conservative party concluding with both strong criticism of the police and a call for an understanding of new horizontal forms for organizing protests in contemporary society.

The Socialist People’s Party adds an endless amount of new policy proposals to their list of branding themselves as clamping down on disorder and violence, in early January by proposing that it should become forbidden to visit terrorist related web site. Down loading material from these sites should be regarded the same way as child pornography. A proposal applauded by the Danish People’s Party but about nobody else to the right or left in Danish politics. The Socialist People´s Party is together with the Danish People´s Party the winner in Danish politics. In the municipal elections in November last year they gained 7,7 percentage at the cost of Social democrats and the social liberals but also to some degree of the Red Green Alliance.

Tord Björk

Content

The COP15 promising ALBA mass meeting

The lost left wing opportunity

How the left supported the police against demonstrators in Copenhagen

Day by day reactions on repression December 12 to 18:

Saturday 12th of December – Come safely to peaceful demonstration

The left wing cover up

Sunday 13th of December – ”we were violently opposed”

Monday 14th of December – ”unfortunately too many arrests”

Tuesday 15th of December ”It does not belong in a democracy”

Wednesday 16th of December – “No soft feelings”

Thursday 17th of December – ”Eat breakfast with Morales”

Friday 18th of December – International networks demonstrate against Danish repression

Danish self-criticism

Why is the left promoting police perspectives?

Danish political claustrophobia

The way the Danish left assess Copenhagen

The paternalistic Red Green Alliance

Trotskyist climate heroes without guts

Non-parliamentary left: A Waterloo for activists, not a new Seattle

From anti neoliberal left to authoritarian state-media governance left

Other material:

12 December Initiative – huge success or background for branding?

Open letter on Denmark’s freedom and legal situation

The whole world on trial

The Fall of the Bella Wall: Power Reclaimed

The paternalistic Red Green Alliance

The Red Green Alliance and non-parliamentary socialists and global justice generation are the central actors one could hope for among the left wing to act against repression. But the main stream Red Green Alliance have all through the process been unable to discuss serious issues. The fact that the official party platform for the Climate summit only included emission targets and inter state North South issues and had no social revolutionary components of the kind advocated by the environmental, peasant and other movements shows clearly that the party have internalized main stream NGO visions of politics and is not relevant for popular movements. The effort that Red Green Alliance made at Klimaforum to arrange a debate with other similar left wings parties in other countries on strategy showed clearly that those parties have little of coherence to say. The Left wing party leader from Sweden made an appeal for winning elections and for the rest it was hard to find something that caused any reactions outside the circle of already converted.

The dominant left wing media in Denmark is www.modkraft.dk set up when the Red Green Alliance did not afford to publish a weekly anymore. It is a broad publication reporting generously about civil disobedience actions, trade unions and the left in general.

The assessment at this news web site starts by asking if a new movement is born. The main stream radical left wing with Naomi Klein and CJA activists had predicted that there was a potential for a new climate justice movement after the global justice movement that can continue anti capitalist mobilization into a new era.

From Modkraft.dk: http://www.modkraft.dk/spip.php?article12296

Per Clausen from the Red Green Alliance then takes center stage in the article. He cannot for sure say íf a new movement is born but he is optimistic, especially due to the large participation in the 12 December demonstration.

” – It was far beyond my expectations and the demonstration had a clear political critique of market-based solutions, which were the agenda at the Bella Center. Copenhagen could well be the beginning of a movement in the long term.”

According to Per Clausen is the next step, to focus on two points. Firstly, local, by putting pressure on national governments and ensure that climate and energy policy change based on official declarations of intent from the COP15 meeting. Second, by holding an international perspective and build on the positive new departure in the climate movement, which marked Copenhagen.”

He continued:

”- Previously the movement was dominated by NGOs and lobbyists. Therefore, we must maintain the popular element and build on the strong commitment among other things expressed in Climate Forum, says he to Modkraft.dk.”

Finally the climate spokes person of Red Green Alliance had some words to tell about civil disobedience:

”Per Clausen also notes that the civil disobedient part of the movement, despite police mass arrests and imprisonment of the century people did not end in violent eruptions.

It is a great achievement that one maintained focus on non-violent protests and I think that the various elements of the summit-resistance played well together.”

This paternalistic clap on the head of the activists that so greatly resisted escalation into violence is interestingly combined with complete silence about the role of the left in individually supporting rather than collectively opposing this repression.

Tord Björk

Content

The COP15 promising ALBA mass meeting

The lost left wing opportunity

How the left supported the police against demonstrators in Copenhagen

Day by day reactions on repression December 12 to 18:

Saturday 12th of December – Come safely to peaceful demonstration

The left wing cover up

Sunday 13th of December – ”we were violently opposed”

Monday 14th of December – ”unfortunately too many arrests”

Tuesday 15th of December ”It does not belong in a democracy”

Wednesday 16th of December – “No soft feelings”

Thursday 17th of December – ”Eat breakfast with Morales”

Friday 18th of December – International networks demonstrate against Danish repression

Danish self-criticism

Why is the left promoting police perspectives?

Danish political claustrophobia

The way the Danish left assess Copenhagen

The paternalistic Red Green Alliance

Trotskyist climate heroes without guts

Non-parliamentary left: A Waterloo for activists, not a new Seattle

From anti neoliberal left to authoritarian state-media governance left

Other material:

12 December Initiative – huge success or background for branding?

Open letter on Denmark’s freedom and legal situation

The whole world on trial

The Fall of the Bella Wall: Power Reclaimed

Trotskyist climate heroes without guts

The two competing trotskyist fractions within the Red Green Alliance had a lot more to risk. As they both are strongly involved in promoting movements as well as concerned about international cooperation, here one could expect interesting evaluations after COP15.

The International Socialists in Denmark closely related to Socialist Workers party in Britain had a key position in the Red Green Alliance as central in the organizing of the Global day of Action demonstration. The key person Jörn Andersen normally representing the Climate Movement in Denmark tried to calm down the polarization between the promoters of the mass demonstration and Reclaim power contrary to some left wingers in the Swedish Climate Action organizations who saw their chance in stating that violence and actions against a UN summit is bad while broad mass manifestations as during the Iraq war is god.

But the position of International Socialists seemed weak in the party. To get the party to mobilize was a hard job and to get a coherent position from the party on how to relate to the different mass activities even more so, if it ever was of interest or possible for this trostkyist fraction. The International socialists have a critical position in the party against the tendency of becoming more and more focused on parliamentary work.

The assessment by Jörn Andersen is also almost all inclusive:

The contrast between state leaders and lobbyists official minus-performance summit and “civil society”, grassroots activities could hardly be greater.

With 100,000 participants was the demonstration at the Climate Summit 12th December much larger than any of us dared hope.

At a very successful KlimaForum09 thousands of participants discussed the problem of climate change. The requirement of “System Change – Not Climate Change” was embodied in a declaration already signed by approx. 500 organizations from 70 countries.

Reclaim Power manifestation Peoples Assembly symbolized – despite police violence against both delegates and protesters – the community between North and South.

The diversity of activities and solutions created during the summit a global movement that now will root even stronger in the many participants home countries.

Here the different activities are not set up against each other, on the contrary they all get assessed on their own merits. But when addressing the future the only emphasis is on building a broader movement. As politically uniting he proposes campaigning for better public transport, stop for domestic flight or 100 000 new climate jobs. Social revolutionary demands are out of question.

Older SWP climate activist listening to young ones at the People’s Assembly. Photo

The problem for this internationalist troskyist fraction is that it lacks a lasting strategy other than opportunistic leftist engagement in campaigning with as broad coalitions as possible on issues that at the moment sounds pragmatically important. They should be honestly honoured for their great work in putting many years of work into building the broad alliances internationally on climate issues and trying to involve also the trade unions. But the lack of self criticism and lack of assessing the repression in Copenhagen make their position more weak than necessary. It is as if they want to say to the civil disobedience activists: Look now how repressed you were and how few, this shows that what we now need is a broad movement.

Two times have now Scandinavian political cultures been able to mobilize strong international events, the European Social Forum 2008 in Malmö and the mass activities at the Climate Summit in Copenhagen 2009. Alex Callinicos, influential in SWP Britain and internationally stated before ESF in Malmö that this would result in more reformistic and NGO dominated processes. The opposite became a fact. Both in Malmö and Copenhagen young civil disobedience activists took center stage and turned the dull ESF, Klimaforum and mass demonstration with a main message to appeal to leaders inside bella center into something much more interesting. In both cases NGOs were almost completely marginalized contrary to the predictions made by Callinicos, with the exception of the action were his own party had most responsibility, the mass demonstration in Copenhagen. When will we see a self critical assessment from this international troskyist tendency were they start to understand what went wrong in their interventions in the social forum process as well as the way broad alliances as the mass demonstration in Copenhagen are instrumentalized by branding NGOs, celebrities and political parties supporting repression of the demonstration without the immediate response from among others the International Socialists and their international comrades.

4th International parties from Sweden and France marching in the December 12 demonstration. Photo Röda Lidköping.

The other trostkyist fraction have a somewhat stronger position in the Red Green Alliance, the 4th International. They also have a stronger position in processes as social forums were popular movements can meet. They also have strong experience in anti repression work, e.g. the Socialist party in Sweden who seems to be better informed or at least actively informed about the conditions for police action and repression in Denmark than the Red Green Alliance.

The assessment by Thomas Eisler, member of the national board of Red Green Alliance and the 4th International is partly different from  Jörn Andersen’s but at many telling points equal. Eisler makes a long story about the demonstration and mentions the other activities more randomly although Klimaforum gets a fair assessment. The Reclaim power action is not even mentioned. Only lumped together with other direct actions after the 12 December demonstrations and described as getting support from ”a less amount of actvists”. More importance is given to Greenpeace and Via Campesina having their accreditation taken away inside Bella Center and the speech by Chavez.

The conclusion is:

But it is what was going on 12th December, which summarizes the true renewal of the movement for climate justice.

While at least Andersen opened up for some kind of understanding of unity of the climate justice movement as not only a question of a gradual shift to a bit more radical least common denominator based broad demonstrations and coalitions Eisler does the opposite.

Contrary to Andersen in his shorter article Eisler mentions the police violence against the demonstrators. But only against those in the demonstration the 12 of December and as a factual presentation excluding the role of the passive demonstration committee not to mention the support from his own party in the beginning of the police perspectives and the role given by his party to the demonstrators as sending signals to the leaders.

Tord Björk

Efter klimatopmødet
En global bevægelse er født
Jørn Andersen
http://www.socialister.dk/avis/visartikel.asp?art=29424

København: Den nye globale bevægelse
Jonathan Neale
http://www.socialister.dk/avis/visartikel.asp?art=29332

Terry Conway og Thomas Eisler Efter topmødet: København – et vendepunkt for bevægelsen
http://www.socialistiskinformation.dk/side.php?id=419

Copenhagen: a turning point for the movement
Terry Conway, Thomas Eisler
http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article1776

Content

The COP15 promising ALBA mass meeting

The lost left wing opportunity

How the left supported the police against demonstrators in Copenhagen

Day by day reactions on repression December 12 to 18:

Saturday 12th of December – Come safely to peaceful demonstration

The left wing cover up

Sunday 13th of December – ”we were violently opposed”

Monday 14th of December – ”unfortunately too many arrests”

Tuesday 15th of December ”It does not belong in a democracy”

Wednesday 16th of December – “No soft feelings”

Thursday 17th of December – ”Eat breakfast with Morales”

Friday 18th of December – International networks demonstrate against Danish repression

Danish self-criticism

Why is the left promoting police perspectives?

Danish political claustrophobia

The way the Danish left assess Copenhagen

The paternalistic Red Green Alliance

Trotskyist climate heroes without guts

Non-parliamentary left: A Waterloo for activists, not a new Seattle

From anti neoliberal left to authoritarian state-media governance left

Other material:

12 December Initiative – huge success or background for branding?

Open letter on Denmark’s freedom and legal situation

The whole world on trial

The Fall of the Bella Wall: Power Reclaimed

From anti neoliberal left to authoritarian state-media governance left

What conclusions can than be drawn about the left after Copenhagen? One way is to avoid assessing what happened and opt for next summit or localized actions.

Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen speaking for the Red Green Alliance at the Bella center during the 12 December march. Meanwhile other members of her party issued press statements supporting a police perspective on the repression against the demonstration or claimed that the demonstration organizers are unwilling to respond to the state aggression. At the same time more than 900 participants in the demonstration are mass arrested and forced to the ground. The show must go on? Videoshot from Red Green Alliance climate campaign web site.

But what happened in Copenhagen is that a political process normally invisible or very hard to see became evident. Both inside and outside Bella center the Danish state and its allies did what they could to establish a new global governance system. The victories in the struggles against fascism by establishing at the formal level the UN built on recognition of indivisible human rights including both social and democratic should be wiped away. A formal arrangement built on the power relations of earlier class struggles and continued social forces among the working class and peasants in different parts of the world as well as anticolonialism and emancipation of women.

Police stop and soon violently use their batons to stop UN delegates from coming out from Bella Center to the People’s Assembly at the Reclaim Power action December 16.

Joshua Kahn at the front receiving the first hits. Photos:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kk/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

What the Danish government did in Copenhagen was to use all its informal power to ignore the UN and instead establish a separate global system based on an alliance of big powers excluding any idea of equal sovereign nations and social rights for everyone as guaranteed by the UN declaration of human rights. Simultaneously was also the democratic rights also guaranteed by the UN abolished on the streets of Copenhagen, in practice randomly and arbitrary against anyone. It even went so far that UN accredited delegates were beaten by Danish police as they tried to reestablish the original goal of UN and the popular movements that had struggled for the social and democratic rights by joining a People’s Assembly with movements from all over the world coming from the outside.

Mikkel Warming and Socialist People´s Party reprsentative acting as parliamentary shields to protects the right of protesters when crossing the border to Denamrk from Sweden at the EU Summit in 2002. Warming is today undermayor in Copenhagen for the Red Green Alliance. Photo Tord Björk

Demonstration marching towards Bella Center 2002

Confronting the police at Bella Center 2002

Black bloc in the main demonstration 2002

Front banner at main demonstration 2002 with Socialist People´s Party Youth van backing up.

Seven years ago in Copenhagen both the Socialist People´s Party and the Red Green Alliance were out on the streets protecting the human rights. People in the Anti Fascist Action together with others initiated a civil disobedience action at the Bella center with political success. The head of the police stated when media wanted to raise expectations for violence manifested by groups like AFA being involved that the experience of the police was that an agreement with AFA was trustable. The strong involvement of the parliamentary parties against repression and the tactic of the police to avoid escalation worked quite well to protect democratic rights. The militant activists had a similar political agenda or at least not contradictory as the left wing parties and the EU-critical movements in what was labelled the global justice movement.

Since then social unrest is growing in Europe while the social gaps are increasing. The militant groups have split and today few would be capable or interested in making agreements with the police or for that matter sometimes other groups. The police has in Copenhagen more clear than in any other case in Western Europe been given free hands to abolish freedom of expression which is the basis of democracy. On social issues the trade unions are more and more on the defensive as well as most social forces in society. Neoliberalism have failed ideologically but is as strong as ever in practice. A common agenda against social injustice is not existing on social or environmental issues. Instead the left and NGOs are united on the issue of changing interstate relations between the North and the South on trade, debt etc. That the environmental and peasant movements tries to formulate a social revolutionary vision for the struggle demanding more power to the direct producer and challenging consumerism goes unnoticed by both the left and the trade unions, at least in the North.

Photo Avenirclima.info

All these are factors of importance. But the most drastic change that has been taken place is the changed role of NGOs and the left wing parties. The NGOs chose to completely become part of the government by refusing to take part in organizing an alternative summit, the Klimaforum. The left wing parties did the same by refusing to collectively act against repression as they have the duty to do as organisers of the December 12 demonstration.

In its assessment of COP15 the leader of the Socialist People’s Party Villy Søvndal comes to the conclusion that the former right wing prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, now general secretary of NATO, would have done a much better job chairing the Climate Summit than his successor Løkke. This is also the opinion of most Danes according to the opinion polls. In an analysis of this opinion the liberal paper Politiken comes to the conclusion that it is false. It was Fogh that in the first place made a Danish foreign policy doctrine out of the idea to always tie Denmark more closer to the US than any other country or the EU. But the world map today makes this doctrine unrealistic according to Politiken and was the reason why Denmark failed as G77 or its most strongest powers do not accept a process totally in the interest of the US anymore. But for the Socialist People’s Party leader it is a stronger right wing minister that is the solution for how Denmark could have done it better, as the opinion polls says so.

The drastic change among the left wing parties is their stronger integration in the media arena. The Socialist People’s Party becomes popular by being strong on law and order and anything that the media finds important. The Red Green Alliance have followed suit and upgraded its adoption of media values and staff while movement values and contacts have been down graded. Both parties ends by internalizing the police view on violence.

Reclaim Power action december 16. Photo:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kk/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

What we see emerging instead of two anti neoliberal parties opposing repression is an elitist media and state oriented left integrated in a authoritarian governance model. In this model movements do not count, maybe they can send signals to the politicians if they by chance avoid getting arrested. The social democratic and all other trade unions in Copenhagen protested against the hooligan law as a threat not only to climate activists but also to trade unions. This is of no concern for the Social democrats that supports the police when it is used in full scale during the summit. Why bother about what movements say when it is the parliamentary parties that have the privileged access to media and state subsidies?

But in the long run the way to conflate any kind of violent or non-violent action, spokes persons and people actually acting, innocent and maybe, maybe but not necessary guilty persons into equally arbitrary objects for repression is not very sustainable. When all NGOs and the parliamentary parties have left other arenas than media and governmental power there is none left to be among the people but movements. This kind of authoritarian rule might be possible for some time but is too costly in the long run.

Police at Reclaim Power action December 16. Photo:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kk/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

It is also sometimes to visible as during the Climate summit. The simple question to ask the left wing parties and all formal Danish organizations involved in the responsibility of inviting people to mass activities during COP15: We need an explanation and a democratic decision in consensus or if necessary a majority decision of how you refused to answer collectively on the Danish state and its degrading treatment of almost 2 000 people. After all it was not only a domestic problem but of importance for all humanity and may if Danish organisations do not react collectively spread also to other countries. Danish organisations are accountable to people from other countries that went to Copenhagen as we live on the same planet as well as towards all Danes that were badly treated and the future of democracy.

Tord Björk

Content

The COP15 promising ALBA mass meeting

The lost left wing opportunity

How the left supported the police against demonstrators in Copenhagen

Day by day reactions on repression December 12 to 18:

Saturday 12th of December – Come safely to peaceful demonstration

The left wing cover up

Sunday 13th of December – ”we were violently opposed”

Monday 14th of December – ”unfortunately too many arrests”

Tuesday 15th of December ”It does not belong in a democracy”

Wednesday 16th of December – “No soft feelings”

Thursday 17th of December – ”Eat breakfast with Morales”

Friday 18th of December – International networks demonstrate against Danish repression

Danish self-criticism

Why is the left promoting police perspectives?

Danish political claustrophobia

The way the Danish left assess Copenhagen

The paternalistic Red Green Alliance

Trotskyist climate heroes without guts

Non-parliamentary left: A Waterloo for activists, not a new Seattle

From anti neoliberal left to authoritarian state-media governance left

Other material:

12 December Initiative – huge success or background for branding?

Open letter on Denmark’s freedom and legal situation

The whole world on trial

The Fall of the Bella Wall: Power Reclaimed

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