Gluing Yourself to the Porsche Floor and Then Complaining About Conditions Is Bad Activism

Nine people glued themselves to the floor of the Porsche Pavilion at Autostadt in Germany 6 photos
Photo: Twitter / Scientist Rebellion
Scientific Papers Glued on a Porsche Macan GTSVW's AutostadtActivists Glued to the Floor at Porsche's Autostadt PavilionActivists Glued to the Floor at Porsche's Autostadt PavilionActivists Glued to the Floor at Porsche's Autostadt Pavilion
Where do you draw the line between ridiculous behavior and justifiable anger? At which point can you say that the end justifies the means? How much complaining are you allowed to do when you put yourself in the situation that generates the complaining, and then refuse to leave it?
As with everything else in life, the answers to these questions depend on who you ask.

The Autostadt protest meant to ring the alarm on Volkswagen’s ability but lack of willingness to do something to slow down climate change has ended after less than 48 hours. The activists were arrested by the riot police, but the controversy continues to rage online, where supporters claim they were handcuffed and carried away just as they were about to leave the premises willingly.

It all started this week, when a group calling themselves Scientist Rebellion took over the Porsche Pavilion in Autostadt, the visitor attraction opposite the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg, Germany. Bearing leaflets and plenty of superglue, they took to sticking the leaflets to the cars on display and then using the glue to glue their palms to the showroom floor. Some went on a hunger strike, and they claimed they would only stop when Volkswagen CEO Oliver Blume came to speak to them in person.

Activists Glued to the Floor at Porsche's Autostadt Pavilion
Photo: Scientist Rebellion on Twitter
Their demands were not unreasonable, especially considering the dire situation we’re in (as a species) with climate change. It’s long been said that, if we don’t do something drastic to cut down pollution within years, it will be too late for our planet, set as it will be on an irreversible course. The protesters in this case asked for more action from Volkswagen to reduce climate change, measures to encourage public transport and a speed cap for the country’s highways at 100 kph (62 mph).

Gianluca Grimalda, an experimental economist and senior researcher with Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), emerged as the leader of the group of nine who had glued themselves to the floor. He was also the first one to leave, after noticing that his glued hand had swollen to twice the size of the other one, and after being told that he could develop life-threatening clots.

Riot police swept in and arrested the other protesters, shortly after Autostadt staff had asked them to leave of their own free will or face legal consequences. The entire stunt lasted under 48 hours and was not without drama, much of it fabricated for its own sake. Reality show producers, take note.

The protesters complained about the poor “conditions” they were put in, when Autostadt staff turned off the lights and the heating at the end of the workday. They complained that the premise was shut off and supporters couldn’t get in to bring them food, so they had to contend with the food VW brought for them. They complained about the glue on their hands (which they had placed there, in case you need reminding), and then said that VW denied them medical assistance. They said VW refused them basic needs by not providing them with bowls to urinate in. They complained of “random” security checks throughout the night, which kept them from getting a proper night's sleep.

Nine people took the Porsche Pavilion hostage after trespassing and then complained that VW didn’t go head over heels to make them more comfortable. Nine people staged a protest where they’d be glued with their palm on the floor and, as such, unable to move, and got upset that someone else didn’t bring them potties. Nine fully-grown adults, seemingly intelligent and highly educated people of different nationalities thought they could just storm in, do some mild destruction of private property and then suffer no consequence or, even better, be treated like guests. This is not how things work.

Activists Glued to the Floor at Porsche's Autostadt Pavilion
Photo: Gianluca Grimalda on Twitter
Granted, the bigger the evil you’re fighting against, the more drastic the measures you have to take. People like these protesters are probably fed up with being nice, with lobbying, and trying to talk their way to some kind of positive measure. They’re also more aware of how bad things are with our planet than the average Joe by force of their involvement in the cause. But this is not the way to do it.

Stunts like this one do ring the alarm and maybe help rally more supporters, but they also discredit the people taking part in it. They’re akin to what other Rebellion activists are doing, particularly those who glued themselves to motorways and blocked ambulances from passing or threw canned soup at famous paintings in museums. They are the stunts that have earned the Rebellion activists the nickname of eco-morons, and make a mockery of the cause itself.

No one’s thinking of the fate of the planet when you make a spectacle out of playing the victim. Moreover, if you can’t plan ahead for your protest and think of where you’re going to pee as you sit on the floor of a car showroom, why should anyone take your doomsday warnings seriously?

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About the author: Elena Gorgan
Elena Gorgan profile photo

Elena has been writing for a living since 2006 and, as a journalist, she has put her double major in English and Spanish to good use. She covers automotive and mobility topics like cars and bicycles, and she always knows the shows worth watching on Netflix and friends.
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