For all the follies of public policy and politics, there is a slow, powerful undercurrent of sanity. Including that it seems the German government has had it with destructive, narcissistic climate stunts. First “German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday sharply criticized climate activists as ‘nutty’ for drastic protests such as blocking streets or gluing themselves to famous paintings in museums.” Then on Wednesday, that is May 24, police swooped on 15 sites across the country and arrested a number of members of Letzte Generation for committing crimes and fundraising to commit more crimes. Even the local Green party has had it with these clowns. And about time too. As Bloomberg warned bluntly, “Europe’s Economic Engine Is Breaking Down/ Germany is at risk of a long, slow decline – with consequences for the whole of the EU”. Perhaps the long slow reckoning has begun.
“Decades of flawed energy policy, the demise of combustion-engine cars and a sluggish transition to new technologies are converging to pose the most fundamental threat to the nation’s prosperity since reunification. But unlike in 1990, the political class lacks the leadership to tackle structural issues gnawing at the heart of the country’s competitiveness.”
More likely the problem is an abundance of leadership to impose all those flawed policy plans:
“Scholz’s administration aims to hook up roughly 625 million solar panels and 19,000 wind turbines by 2030, but promises to accelerate the rollout to months from years have yet to bear fruit. Meanwhile, demand is expected to soar due to the electrification of everything from heating and transportation to steelmaking and heavy industry.”
At any rate, there’s a serious problem and even the politicians are starting to realize that it calls for serious thought not childish antics.
Not everyone agrees. For instance the MSM. The Washington Post gave the arrest story the headline “Germany conducts raids against climate activists, alleging criminality”, in the spirit of Canadian humorist Stephen Leacock’s dictum that “Newspapermen learn to call a murderer ‘an alleged murderer’ and the King of England ‘the alleged King of England’ in order to avoid libel suits.” But the text gave it away:
“German police launched a series of raids early on Wednesday across the country against a group of climate activists known for attacking art and gluing themselves to roads to raise awareness.”
“Known for”. Not “suspected of”. Both activities are also known to be illegal. And as we complained at the time, such groups do not try to hide their law-breaking. They put out press releases, crowdfund and solicit credit card donations for openly illegal acts.
Like Canada’s Environment Minister back in the day, they draw attention to it. It is, after all, a publicity stunt. Though to be fair to Guilbeault Greenpeace, on whose behalf he broke the laws he now expects others to obey (for instance the government of Saskatchewan), was engaged primarily in legal activities and only had a sideline in crime.
The BBC also did their best on Letzte Generation with this sob story:
“German police have carried out raids in seven states in a probe into climate campaigners suspected of forming or backing a criminal group because of their controversial activities. Among those raided was Last Generation spokeswoman Carla Hinrichs, whose door was broken down by armed police while she was in bed, the group said.”
And heaven forbid that the police should catch a suspect at home. Imagine if bank robbers too were arrested in bed, or police broke their doors down. Anarchy! Tyranny! It’s an outrage!
We understand that civil disobedience acquired a powerful lustre due to the campaign for civil rights in the United States. But throwing potatoes at a painting doesn’t make you Martin Luther King Jr. And he was fighting against powerfully entrenched bigotry in government, cultural institutions and society generally whereas these activists are pressuring politicians, media and corporations that already agree with them.
The Beeb also claimed that:
“For weeks in Germany there has been a ferocious culture war about whether Last Generation can be legally defined as a criminal organisation. Conservative MPs have demanded tougher penalties including jail sentences, while left-wingers have warned of a dangerous authoritarian clampdown.”
Culture war? Look, we do recall the old joke about the European heaven and the European hell where in the latter the Germans are the police. (In the former they’re the engineers.) And when Greenpeace is banned in Russia or Vietnam arrests climate activists on dubious charges it really is ominous. But Germany today is a democracy, and one with a left-leaning political culture. And whether something is legally a criminal organization is not a front in the culture wars. It’s a factual matter, determined by whether the organization deliberately commits crimes and, in this case, openly says it does.
It's hidden in plain sight. Wikipedia says that:
“The Last Generation (German: Letzte Generation…) is a group of climate change activists mostly active in Germany, Italy, and Austria. Their civil disobedience methods, such as desecrating artworks or blocking roads, often generate public outrage. In 2022, the group performed 276 road blockades in Germany. In Rome, they threw soup at a van Gogh painting behind glass, called The Sower [it]. In Potsdam, they threw mashed potatoes onto a Monet painting.”
Of course it adds that “None of the artworks they attacked were damaged.” Before noting that they hate democracy too:
“In early 2023, the group declared parliamentarian democracy to be unfit for dealing with the climate crisis and demanded the implementation of ‘Society councils’ to work out emergency measures.”
Such talk can get you Emergency Acted in Canada. And again, the group makes no secret of it. On their website (at least as of May 26) right beneath a fundraising appeal (“Jetzt Spenden!” with link) it said:
“Ob Mithelfen beim Kochen, in der Widerstandsgruppe oder einer Arbeitsgruppe, ob Protestmarsch, Blockade oder etwas wildes. – Jede Form der Unterstützung ist wertvoll.”
Which translates as:
“Whether helping with the cooking, in the resistance group or a working group, whether a protest march, blockade or something wild – every form of support is valuable.”
Not all are legal, and blockades are not, nor are many “wild” things nudge nudge. But the BBC persists in trying to obscure this obvious point:
“In polls, most Germans disagree with the group’s tactics. In a survey carried out by left-leaning magazine Der Spiegel this month, 79% of respondents said the group’s actions were wrong, with only 16% agreeing with the activists. But that doesn’t mean all Germans support a clampdown either. Many left-wing and Green politicians as well as commentators say they disagree with the group’s tactics because they enrage people rather than win them over to environmentalism. But they argue activists should still have the right to campaign peacefully.”
Which is a total red herring. Nobody’s denying anyone’s right to campaign peacefully.
What they deny is their right to break the law, which by definition is not peaceful because even if you don’t use force on other people, you create situations in which they cannot exercise their own peaceful legal rights unless someone forces you to stop blocking the road, defacing the art and so forth. And if the primary raison d’être of an organization is to break the law, and it raises money to help it do so, it is by definition a criminal conspiracy.
As for the culture wars, well, being government-funded the BBC is naturally on the side of those who would smash the state as an instrument of patriarchal oppression, and the family too for good measure. But we deniers have all the money; its annual budget is a feeble £5.33 billion, most of it from compulsory fees levied on anyone who owns “any type of equipment to receive or record live television broadcasts or watch using iPlayer”, while Letzte Generation only raised €901,832.61 in 2022.
P.S. Shell decided it didn’t need activists storming the stage at its shareholders’ meeting. Perhaps it’s time it decided not to say it believes their message either.