Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Putin, the violent anarchist

Germany is obsessed with the violent riots against the G8 summit. They are being driven by a subgroup of the left-wing protest movements known in Germany as the "Autonome" (and popularly called the "black bloc").

Now, the word "autonom" of course also means autonomous - and as an adjective is sometimes used to designate protectionist or autarchic policies. Never, though, is a protectionist called an "Autonome".

Never, that is, other than in a current lapsus on the Spiegel website. Where it says, in large letters - and next to a rather funky photo of Putin in a black suit and black sunglasses: "Putin, der Autonome".

An elaborate pun? Comedy-value to be had out of imagining the cold Putin as he throws stones full of emotion against Western capitalism? The choice of colour in the Putin photo a subtle allusion to the "Black Bloc"?

More realistically: a linguistic error, and bad copy-editing. But perhaps the beginning of a new linguistic trend, the transformation of a word. Exciting stuff. Better, at least, than the 100th discussion round on German TV about whether the violence was caused by the "Black Bloc" or police provocation.

(See also my analysis of Parisian anarchists a few weeks ago - my friend Thierry, by the way, rightly pointed out that I should have distinguished more clearly between the extreme left-wing and anarchists in that post)