The coming autumn and winter in Germany

How to deal with the home-made energy debacle

by Karl-Jürgen Müller

In two important aspects, the German power elites are currently reminiscent of the Ancien Régime before the French and the Tsarist rule before the Russian Revolution: arrogance and denial of reality. This cannot be in the interests of the country’s citizens. Protests are expected in autumn.

Germany is not facing a “revolution”. But already now various German politicians1, offices for the protection of the constitution of the federal states2 and “scientists” from foundations close to the government3 are warning that the continuing price increases of many products of daily life, the enormous price increases for gas and electricity and the expected further consequences of the energy shortage would very likely lead to a hot autumn with massive protests. Indeed, surveys (see box) speak of a great willingness to protest. The German power elites are already publicly counteracting. They claim that the coming protests will be abused by “right-wing populist” and “right-wing extremist” forces for subversive goals. That is meant to be the inducement to react, most likely not in a manner that is open for talks.
  But now that a prominent East German member of parliament from the Die Linke has called for protests, the classification as “right-wing” is losing its argumentative force. The current approach seems to be to minimise the possibility of significant protests, also by avoiding to talk about them at all (see box). “Security experts” recommending precisely that are quoted – as in Der Spiegel of 20 August 2022.

The citizens’ displeasure is justified

What can be done in this situation?
  Should there really be politically significant protests in Germany in the coming autumn and winter, the resentment underlying such protests would be justified. For, unlike the German government which is doing everything it can to blame Russia for the enormous inflation, energy price and energy volume problems – once again in a press release of 4 August on the so-called “Gasumlage” (gas levy) for all gas customers4 decided for 1 October 2022 – many citizens realise that the problems mentioned are largely home-made or owing to the submission to the “ally” USA.
  The expected gas shortage5 as well as the already exorbitantly increased and further rising gas and electricity prices are, among other things, the result of German and EU-European energy and energy price policies of the past years. Added to this is the German and EU-European sanctions policy against Russia. Jens Berger from the German Nachdenkseiten has written an article on this that is worth reading.6 But also on the website of Thomas Röper (Anti-Spiegel), a German living in Russia, there are some articles presenting important facts and easily comprehensible arguments.7 Official Russian statements on the subject, such as those of the Russian embassy in Berlin, should not be immediately dismissed as propaganda.8 Last but not least, some responsible persons in EU states, not only in Hungary9, but also East German politicians like the Prime Minister of Saxony, Michael Kretschmer10, are realising that the current sanctions policy is a dead end which creates serious damage on the EU states themselves. Even German television magazines such as the business magazine Plusminus have broadcast programmes questioning the claim that Russia is solely to blame for the whole electricity and gas misery: Germany, for example, is still supplying some EU states with a large amount of electricity produced in German gas-fired power plants, despite insufficiently filled gas storage facilities.11
  Therefore, it would be fully understandable, even desirable, for millions of Germans to publicly voice their opinion next autumn. Not only protest against the massive financial burdens, but also express what many of them want: an end to the war in Ukraine as soon as possible; an immediate end to all war crimes there; an end to German arms deliveries to Ukraine; German pressure on the government of Ukraine to resume serious negotiations with Russia; a peace settlement respecting the security interests of all European countries, including those of Russia; an end to German sanctions against Russia; an opening of North Stream 2 so that sufficient gas can flow to Germany and Europe as quickly as possible.12

Political realism and political ethics

Protesters should exercise political realism. Can we expect the German power elites to respond to the demands of the citizens? Hardly in the short term. Is the protest therefore pointless? No, it is not! If the protest is more than an “event”, a “happening”, a gathering of “angry citizens”; if it is preceded by intensive reflection and thorough discussions, if the protests themselves testify to an upright walk and serious debate, to an orientation towards the common good, then they can also radiate to the citizens who have so far remained on the side lines.
  Of course, it is to be expected that protests will be abused: by political hotheads, but also by the power elites and their services. However, this will be all the less effective the more everyone who takes part in such protests with an honest concern is aware of his or her responsibility. The experience of many years has shown that there are many forms of successful protests, that people can successfully defend themselves against excessive power politics. With a sense of responsibility and community, creativity also grows.
  Germany deserves a change in politics – and it is to be wished for the country that the citizens of the country take their fate more into their own hands. So that the country can be better off in the foreseeable future.  •

1 for example: of 17 July 2022; in an article of 9 August 2022, however, the German Minister of the Interior Faeser (SPD)relativised her statements of July: The German Minister of Foreign Affairs Annalena Baerbock had already warned of a German “popular uprising”, but later also relativised this.
2 for example: of 6 August 2022
3 for examplel: of 10 August 2022
4 of 4 August 2022
5 cf. of 11 August 2022
6 of 5 August 2022
for example: of 28 July.2022 or of 9 August 2022
8 of 11 August 2022
9 of 15 July 2022
10 of 27 July 2022
11 of 20 July 2022
12 Current poll figures from the research institute Forsa indicate that a large proportion of respondents in Germany are in favour of opening Nord Stream 2. However, the various figures available vary between 39 and 63 per cent in favour of such an opening. However, anyone who publicly advocates an opening of Nord Stream 2, such as the FDP politician Wolfgang Kubicki or the left-wing politician Sarah Wagenknecht, is put in the media pillory.

Demonstrating against high energy prices? – What is fiction? What is truth?

“Almost every second German citizen wants to take to the streets when it comes to demonstrations because of high energy prices. According to a recent survey by the opinion research institute INSA, 44 per cent of all respondents said they would ‘certainly or very probably take part in demonstrations against the high energy prices’. [...] However, of all respondents overall, 50 per cent also rejected taking part in demonstrations. […]
  In other countries, protests against rising food and energy prices have already begun. Most recently, there were clashes between police and demonstrators close to the yellow vest movement in France. […]
  In the Netherlands, farmers have been protesting the government for weeks, and there have been repeated violent clashes with the police. The authorities are cracking down. […]
  Meanwhile, farmers in Spain, Italy and Poland have also joined the mass protests. […]
  In Italy, farmers recently blocked traffic in Milan with a convoy of tractors. People also took to the streets in other Italian cities including the capital Rome. ‘We are not slaves, we are farmers’, the demonstrators chanted. Many Italian farmers are struggling to make ends meet.” of 20 July 2022

“For the time being, Scholz is not worried that Germany could really face an escalation due to the energy crisis and the associated rising prices: ‘I do not believe that there will be unrest [...] in this country, and that is because Germany is a welfare state,’ said the chancellor. ‘In this situation the welfare state must be effective by clearly stating that nobody will be left alone.’” of 11 August 2022

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