Occupy Movement Hopes for New Lease on Life


One could vote for Wagenknecht's ideas, but her party is losing votes with each new election, despite the widespread protest mood. The Left Party, which permanently criticizes the system and yet is also a part of that system, existed before the crisis. People are now pinning their hopes on new people and new movements like Occupy, which might even come up with new solutions, or on the politicians of the Pirate Party, even though they have said very little about the crisis to date. In their defense, the Pirates say that they have to get their bearings first before forming an opinion on issues like bailout funds and fiscal pacts. The Pirates, who don't want leaders either, put their trust in the principle of swarm intelligence. They believe that if a lot of people think about an issue and correct each other in the process, they will eventually come up with better ideas. Occupy also wants to be this type of swarm.

The men from Occupy thanked Wagenknecht for her "suggestions," and then she went on her way. Buhn crept under the thick tarp they had stretched over their tents in the winter and went to sleep among the skyscrapers of Frankfurt's financial district.

In his tent, a plastic mask lies on a yellow mattress made of unprocessed foam rubber. It's the Guy Fawkes mask from the graphic novel and film "V for Vendetta", a white cartoon-like face that has become the symbol of Occupy, a movement that eschews symbolic figures. They are the tricksters of a popular front that begins and ends with them, and which hopes to transform outrage into an uprising.

Doing Well

A few days after her appearance in Hamburg, Chilean student leader Vallejo walks into a classroom in the central German city of Braunschweig. The girls and boys in blue sweaters sitting on long benches are only a few years younger than she is.

The classroom is on the grounds of the Volkswagen plant. "Our second-year trainees," says the man from the works council who is giving Vallejo a tour of the plant.

The Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, which is affiliated with the Left Party, and the Education and Science Workers' Union paid for Vallejo's trip. Other union members contacted the organizers. They, too, longed for a little revolutionary glamour. Many have also been strong supporters of Chile since Salvador Allende governed the country in the early 1970s. Allende, a leftist president who did not become a dictator, was a good, democratic socialist. The Chileans came to Braunschweig through a man from the IG Metall metalworkers' union.

"Are you doing well here?" Vallejo asks the girls and boys. They all nod. Do they stand a chance of getting a good job in the plant in the future? They do. Do they have to work a lot? Thirty-five hours a week, including the hours they spend in school.

How much does the training program cost them? A few of the boys start to giggle. They pay nothing, they say. In fact, they earn €700 ($930) a month, or about two-and-a-half times as much as a worker earning the minimum wage in Chile, the equivalent of €283 a month.

"Wow," says Vallejo. Taking Revenge on the Chicago Boys

She doesn't stay in the classroom very long. She's had a headache since she stepped off the train in the morning, and she asks the organizers if she can take a break at her hotel.

She feels better that evening, at an event in the union hall. It wasn't the shock of her visit to the German working world that made her feel unwell, but rather the fact that she hadn't slept much in the last few days.

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