Fall Uprising: Views of the CETA / TTIP March

Fighting for the right to live, eat, breathe... and party... at last Saturday's demo

On the surface, the Stop TTIP & CETA demo last weekend was a mass uprising in all of the usual ways: there were signs, costumes, chants and dance tunes.  People marched and made demands.  But the demo seemed like it was more than just the sum of its parts.

It wasn't just because there were more people there than at any demo I've been to in Germany. Their feelings about the cause were also tangible, full of new variety and depth. They were feelings shared by people that'd never meet any other way : families, kids, teens, pensioners, working classes, black bloc anarchists, ad-hoc hippies... and that's rare in a city where people tend to plan every detail of every social encounter, from the friends that they handpick to share it to the exact second that their train returns them home.  Maybe I'm just unlucky but since leaving England, I've rarely felt a multifaceted sense of sharing anything with masses of strangers, that wasn't happening on a screen or a football field, and it was damn good to be reminded what that's like.  All of them aware that the TTIP, CETA and the corporate tunnel-vision that they represent, are just anti-them.  Anti-us.  Anti-whatever-it-means-to-be-alive.

So I asked around what people there thought.  A lot of them were almost dumbstruck by the tangle of fears, angers and anxieties about TTIP that snagged whatever they wanted to say before it was halfway out, replaced by an even scarier / more extreme feeling than before.  The TTIP puts so much pressure on everything that makes Europe and Germany different - from America - that it feels like a stealthy coup d'etat, not just of the state but of the culture and all the people that create it.  No one there seemed vague or unsure about how these two transnational agreements could affect them; they were aware that it could affect them in too many ways to even count, almost paralyzed by that fact.

You can't just pick one cause.  Standing up against CETA and TTIP isn't something that you can do a single issue at a time.  The only way to successfully stand against it is by being: alive and free, human and healthy, and determined to stay that way.  Maybe that was why all 250,000 people and their millions of supporters seemed larger than life - because the TTIP seems larger than death.

The new regulations proposed by CETA and TTIP also sprawl across every level of existence: law, environment, human and animal welfare, water, health care.  They are jam-packed with ways to undermine our current lives, cultures, health and welfare plans and career.  It's an all or nothing kind of deal, designed to explode through any doorway that's opened even a crack, unleashing endless mandatory regulations as part of a 'package', replacing all the existing agreements.  And that's exactly what it's been designed to do: replace what we have created  in every European nation.  With what? We aren’t even allowed to know; the negotiations all happen in secret.

The sunshine and leaves helped keep everyone energized as we marched down Friedrichstrasse, through the stiflingly dull government quarter, and into a beautiful riot of fall colours in Tiergarten that a cacaphony of music, speeches and beer still couldn't manage to overshadow.  Anger would have kept us warm even if it would have been overcast though.  It wasn't a dejected anger, but upbeat: a  certainty that these deals have to be scrapped, that people can't allow them not to be scrapped.  Survival as we know it depends upon it.

If self assurance alone can make change happen, then the TTIP and CETA are doomed.  There was plenty of it there on Saturday, and that's something that no amount of dirty money can buy.


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