02.10.2010 – Democracy’s Edge

I am in tears.
Yesterday I visited Stuttgart Schlosspark, the place where construction the workers for and the demonstrators against „Stuttgart 21“ meet. The place where police had been dealing violently with the demonstrators by command of the government last Thursday.

Not what I saw brought up my tears. While I was there, everything was peaceful and tranquil. The place almost looked as if a big festival had happened the days before.
But what shook me, was the story of what had happend at this place. Wondering through the park and the people, I end up listening to a father, who is sitting on a park bench with his two daughters, trying to convinced a women, who doesn‘t want to have an opinion on Stuttgart 21 to join the protests. He had been there on Thursday, when the police intervened with water guns and pepper spray. He was admitting, yes there had been a few glass bottles thrown by demonstrators. But he was also telling us how lots and lots of people had put themselves under canvas cover, to protect themselves from the water guns, and when the police came and sprayed the pepper spray under the canvas, where chanting „friedlich bleiben, friedlich bleiben“ (stay peaceful, stay peaceful) under the canvas. He said he wasn‘t „nahe am Wasser gebaut“ (build near to the water, as we say for people who cry easily) but seeing how young and old people, women and children peacefully demonstrating had been treated, had made him cry and questions the democracy he is living is.

Although crying is my normal instant response to violence of any form – because even if I am not the one suffering and it is only insulting words, it makes me cry that we are not able solve problems differently – this time when I listen to these stories, there is a new sensation, I haven‘t yet felt in that way: FEAR.
For the first time I am afraid of standing up for my interests.

My history teacher was telling us again and again, how amazing the Monday demonstrations in East Germany where, because the people that went, never new if they would come home the next day, or whether they children would have to grow up without parents, but they still went.
I have also seen reports, of demonstrations against big political meetings like G8, that where stopped violently.
Somehow though these stories had always been, quite far away for me, thinking if I had to stand up for my interests, I wouldn’t have to face that kind of violence.

By now, I have been working for 6 years, for the OMNIBUS for direct democracy, and through that have been talking about our democracy to all kinds of people on the street. I have always been stating, our democracy is not for real, unless we establish a way that allows us to vote on specific issues like „Stuttgart 21“. „Parliamentary dictatorship“ is an expression, often used to describe the political system we live in. I was never sure if that wasn‘t to harsh, as we the people had never (during my lifetime) spoke up loud against anything, had never actually encountered obvious violence (which is the essence of dictatorship in my opinion).

But standing at Stuttgart Schlosspark, feeling the fear creeping up every inch of my body, thinking, if I join the demonstrations, I don‘t want to be in front, where people get injured.
I realise once again, the immense power our government has, and that none (or very little) of what the word democracy means in its origin as „Volksherrschaft“ (popular government) is realised for real in our country. The “Bahn” boss Rüdiger Grube states, that in our country the parliaments make the decisions, nobody else, and as they voted for Stuttgart 21, it is democratically legitimized. But what is the parliament in a democracy, really?

Democracy means, the people reign themselves – to explain it to children, we often say, it means everyone has a crown and is king or queen.
It is said that Germany is a democracy, but all we ever had in Germany to make the peoples will on a specific issue heard in politics, was the „APO = Außerparlarmentarische Opposition“ (opposition outside of the parliament). As the word already indicates though, the only thing we ever could do with the APO is: be against something. The well established magazine Spiegel only lately was writing quite insultingly about Germany as an „Against Republic“, where the people are only against things and slowing down every Development.
The missing link, is a regulation, that allows us the people to introduce new ideas and inventions, that allows us to introduce new development the way we want to see happening, that allows us to work for and not against something.

I don‘t know how the story is going to go on in Stuttgart. I don‘t know how the story is going to go on in my country. I don‘t know how the world is going to deal with the issue of democracy in our future.
But I know I will carry on standing up for my interests.
I will carry on standing up for a living democracy, where the people are the creators of the society.
I will carry on standing up for a future society, where the main motto is not: „We can‘t do anything against them up there anyway.“, but where people know from the bottom of their hearts: „We are the creators.“
I will carry on standing up for a society where we don‘t have to be against things, but can just work forward to what we want to see manifested in the world.
I will carry on standing up, facing my fear.

Knowing: „The best way to predict the future, is to invent it“. Alan Kay

Here a few impressions:

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