Editor’s Note: Due to their early adoption of renewables, Germany has been hailed as an example by mainstream environmentalists. The myth that Germany is cutting back on fossil fuel has already been debunked in Bright Green Lies. With their main supplier of fossil fuel going to war with Ukraine, Germany is facing a crisis. They are vying for alternate sources, which they have found under their own soil in Lützerath. They are trying to evacuate a hundred villages to get coal under their ground. In a brave attempt to defend their land, the people are putting up a fight against the German state.
Today’s post consists of three separate pieces. The first is a Common Dreams piece covering police brutality against the local communities. The second is a firsthand account of one of those many protestors who joined the local villagers in fighting the German state. This account explores the need for training and militant resistance to industrial civilization. The post finally culminates in an excerpt from Derrick Jensen’s Endgame.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Deep Green Resistance, the News Service or its staff.
“The most affected people are clear, the science is clear, we need to keep the carbon in the ground,” said Greta Thunberg at the protest.
The way was cleared for the complete demolition of the German village of Lützerath and the expansion of a coal mine on Monday after the last two anti-coal campaigners taking part in a dayslong standoff with authorities left the protest site.
The two activists—identified in media reports by their nicknames, “Pinky” and “Brain”—spent several days in a tunnel they’d dug themselves as thousands of people rallied in the rain over the weekend and hundreds occupied the village, which has been depopulated over the last decade following a constitutional court ruling in favor of expanding a nearby coal mine owned by energy firm RWE.
As Pinky and Brain left the 13-foot deep tunnel, which police in recent days have warned could collapse on them contrary to assessments by experts, other campaigners chainedthemselves to a digger and suspended themselves from a bridge to block access to Lützerath, but those demonstrations were also halted after several hours.
Protesters and their supporters have condemned the actions of law enforcement authorities in the past week as police have violently removed people from the site, including an encampment where about 100 campaigners have lived for more than two years to protest the expansion of RWE’s Garzweiler coal mine.
The vast majority of protesters were peaceful during the occupation. German Interior Minister Nancy Fraeser said Monday that claims of police violence would be investigated while also threatening demonstrators with prosecution if they were found to have attacked officers.
Fridays for Future leader Greta Thunberg joined the demonstrators last week, condemning the government deal with RWE that allowed the destruction of Lützerath as “shameful” before she was also forcibly removed from the site on Sunday.
“Germany is really embarrassing itself right now,” Thunberg said Saturday of the plan to move forward with the demolition of the village, as thousands of people joined the demonstration. “I think it’s absolutely absurd that this is happening the year 2023. The most affected people are clear, the science is clear, we need to keep the carbon in the ground.”
“When governments and corporations are acting like this, are actively destroying the environment, putting countless of people at risk, the people step up,” she added.
"Germany is really embarrassing itself right now."@GretaThunberg has joined climate activists in Germany who are resisting the demolition of the Luetzerath village for a coal mine expansion. pic.twitter.com/yEmjWtycVP
— DW News (@dwnews) January 14, 2023
Campaigners have warned that the expansion of the Garzweiler coal mine will make it impossible for Germany to meet its obligation to reduce carbon emissions and have condemned the government, including the Green Party, for its agreement with RWE. Under the deal, the deadline for coal extraction in Germany was set at 2030.
RWE’s mine currently produces 25 million tonnes of lignite, also known as brown coal, per year.
Extinction Rebellion demonstrators in the Netherlands said last week that the protest in the village “is not so much about preserving Lützerath itself.”
“It symbolizes resistance to everything that has to make way for fossil energy while humanity is already on the edge of the abyss due to CO2 emissions,” said the group.
“The people in power will not disappear voluntarily; giving flowers to the cops just isn’t going to work. This thinking is fostered by the establishment; they like nothing better than love and nonviolence. The only way I like to see cops given flowers is in a flower pot from a high window.” — William S. Burroughs
By Agent Eagle
Thousands of people storming a village occupied by police. It was not the revolution, but it was close.
A demonstration had been announced for January 14, a Saturday, in Keyenberg, which is next to Lützerath, Germany. Underneath the villages and their fertile loess soil lies lignite. The German government, the world’s number one lignite miner with 140 million tons extracted a year, dispossessed the residents of approximately 100 villages around the strip mine Garzweiler 2 utilizing laws from Nazi Germany. The police occupy and defend the area that is now in the possession of the energy firm RWE from the people.
Despite attempts at forced evacuation, a couple of activists were still holding out in Lützerath, underground or in the trees. However, since the police had disbanded their community kitchen and thrown out all paramedics, their time was running out.
Therefore, on Saturday, we knew we would make a last attempt at reoccupying the village.
The weather was stormy, which was an advantage in the end because it disabled armored water cannon trucks. The mud was sticky. The rain was heavy. There were police around the entire village, police along the horizon, police as far as the eye can see. Yet thousands of people marched to Lützerath despite the police doing everything they could to prevent us from doing so by using tear gas, batons, riot shields, dogs, horses, anti-riot water cannons, a helicopter and military tactics. It was a siege that began when one of the people organizing the legal demo told us to ignore the police and go for the village.
A group of hooded activists in black marched right through the police lines, throwing smoke bombs and shooting fireworks. Of around 35,000 people, approximately 5,000-10,000 joined in, but we progressively kept losing more on the way to Lützerath. We advanced by taking land and by breaking through police lines, for example by distracting the police, so we could push through elsewhere. Then the police rearranged and it all began anew. It took 6-7 hours to even get to the village.
By then it was almost dawn. Most of the people were deciding to turn around.
The police managed to surround the entire village. They had erected two special fences around the village and the surrounding woods. They had also built a road through the strip mine, so they could bring in ordnance while they prevented all of our vehicles from getting through.
Occupied digger in Lützerath, which is getting destroyed for the coal industry.#luetzibleibt #LuetzerathLebt #luetzilebt #fightforonepointfive More videos here https://t.co/oAR2TEAgD2 #FightFor1Point5 @parents4futureG @deCOALonize_eu @XREurope @GretaThunberg @350Europe pic.twitter.com/yN1TYp65Tx
— #Hambi bleibt (@DanniPilger) January 20, 2021
Lützerath leaves an impression. A mark on the consciousness of the people. Some are confronted with the violence of the machine for the very first time. The lifeless bodies of protestants being dragged through the mud by policemen. Running and panicked screams. A heavily armed policeman coming at you, swinging his baton, bellowing, hitting you in the face, despite you raising your arms. In such a moment you become fully conscious of the absurdity and brutality of a system that does not protect you but the interests of a company tearing the life from this very earth. You notice you do not have a weapon because somebody told you that you were prohibited from carrying one. But he does, and he is using it.
You also see the people coming together to lift a woman in a wheelchair over an earth wall. You see the crowd forming a protective circle, shouting and pulling on a policeman who is pushing a screaming woman. I felt something very special that is hard to describe. A solidarity that does not need words.
Over a hundred people were hurt, some severely. The police won, the area was evacuated and flattened in the cruelest way possible. Landmarks that were supposed to go to museums were destroyed. Still, some people are holding out to slow down the monstrous rotary excavator. If RWE manages to mine just one quarter of the amount of lignite it plans to mine, if Lützerath falls, the earth will warm more than 1.5°.
The reason we failed in the end was not hunger. Nor exhaustion. Nor lack of equipment. The reason we failed was morale. Morale was, of course, low from hours of wading through mud and static battles with the police, but people can push through hardships and overcome fear. For this, they need motivation. That could look like a leader giving them a goal and pointing them in the right direction, or knowing that reinforcement is on the way.
What we would have needed was a detailed plan, experience and more structure. A tighter, more responsive form of organization led by people with an iron will. Numbers can only do so much. If he has a weapon, and is willing to use it, and you do not have a weapon and you are not willing to take risks, then he wins. More militant activists led the push, and most of them were carried off by police fairly early on.
I believe the “activisti,” as they are called here, would have profited from training. For example, many people were too timid to effectively advance, so what would have helped is a kind of military structure with leaders and strategically positioned militant activists.
If we could do it again, I would make sure we would have brought the right equipment along and that the people who knew how to carry and use it were protected until arriving at the fence. In Germany, you are not allowed to bring “protective weapons” to demonstrations, meaning any kind of armor to protect you from police violence. I would have disregarded that. In the deciding moment of this battle, right before the fence, I would have given people shields and armor that a group would have carried up until then and I would have told them to shield the people breaking into the fence.
I would have brought smoke grenades, balloons and water guns filled with colorful paint and pepper spray and maybe even a truck with a hose mounted on top to send the police into chaos. We could have made a coordinated effort to storm into their rows and to disarm them, put bags over their heads, use the pepper spray, colors and flash grenades to blind them and tie them up.
We could have notified people of our plans without alerting police via messenger groups.
We could have driven a truck into the outer fence, maybe put wooden planks over the gap between the fences and climbed over it.
We could have used drones to scout and carrier drones to bring supplies.
We could have stormed the perimeter and disabled or even taken over the water cannon truck.
In the ensuing confusion we could have brought in material for barricades. The fences would have worked to our advantage: we would have barricaded ourselves inside and around it. At night, we would have laid down bricks and spikes to keep the police from bringing in reinforcements. We could have sabotaged the police cars that were already there — it is easy to pop their tires. Or we could have taken them, crashed them and used them for the barricades. People in the very densely populated Ruhrgebiet could have sabotaged police stations and laid fires the whole night to keep the police busy. We could have held our position until morning.
For all of this, we would have needed high amounts of coordination and structure and also morale to keep it coming. Everyone would have needed to lose their fear of state violence and to fight till the bitter end.
Agent Eagle is a German radical feminist and an environmental activist.
“Some failures to act at the right time with the right tactic (violent or nonviolent) may set movements back or move them forward. The trick is knowing when and how to act. Well, that’s the first trick. The real trick is kicking aside our fear and acting on what we already know (because, truly, we depend on those around us, and they are dying because they depend on us, too).
I asked a friend what he thought is meant by the phrase, ‘Every act of violence sets back the movement ten years.’
He responded, ‘More often than not, before I say anything radical or militant at all in any sort of public forum, I wonder who is taking in my words. And I wonder what will be the consequences if I say something that may threaten the worldview of those in power.’
He paused, then continued, ‘I think identity has a lot to do with resistance to violent acts. It’s pretty apparent to us all at a very early age that you’re absolutely forbidden by the master to use the ‘tools of the master to destroy the master’s house.’ Imagine a child who is routinely beaten with a two-by-four, who one day picks it up and fights back. Imagine especially what happens to this child if he’s not yet big enough to effectively fight back, to win. Not good. On the larger scale I don’t think many people are willing to identify themselves with these types of acts or with anyone willing to commit these types of acts simply because it is forbidden by those in power and therefore to be feared.’
Another short pause, and then he concluded, ‘The way I see it, the phrase about setting the movement back is coming from a place of fear. It surely can’t be coming from the perspective of successful pacifist resistance to the machine. If it did, we wouldn’t be here discussing how to stop the atrocities committed by this culture.’
Near the end of our book Welcome to the Machine: Science, Surveillance, and the Culture of Control, George Draffan and I wrote, ‘A high-ranking security chief from South Africa’s apartheid regime later told an interviewer what had been his greatest fear about the rebel group African National Congress (ANC). He had not so much feared the ANC’s acts of sabotage or violence — even when these were costly to the rulers — as he had feared that the ANC would convince too many of the oppressed majority of Africans to disregard ‘law and order.’ Even the most powerful and highly trained ‘security forces’ in the world would not, he said, have been able to stem that threat.’
As soon as we come to see that the edicts of those in power are no more than the edicts of those in power, that they carry no inherent moral or ethical weight, we become the free human beings we were born to be, capable of saying yes and capable of saying no.”
Endgame, Derrick Jensen