The N° 5 REPRINT of THE ENLIGHTENED FLUTE
Gerard Lambert (1)
The importance of what is happening in France on the ZAD (Zone à Défendre) of Notre Dame des Landes - the creation in Europe of a territory packed with social, agricultural and environmental experimentation – has given us impetus to add to the article by Pedro Fidalgo (see pp. 162-184 in this number of the Enlightened Flute) and a supplement on the situation after the defeat of the Government and on the on-going resistance of Zadistas to threats hovering over them.
Gérard Lambert (1) French activist and writer, co-author, in the spring of 1990, of the first oppositional pamphlet against the construction of the airport Notre Dame des Landes (and sometime after the pamphlets distributed during the years between the late 60s and 70s). This text was drawn up in Portuguese at the request of the Enlightened Flute. He is the author, written in Portuguese namely, The Disassembling of the System - Relations of Polish Subversion, published by Fenda, Coimbra, 1986.
- TANX illustrations, http://tanx.free-h.fr/
On January 17, 2018, the Macron Government announced the cancellation of the airport project of Notre Dame des Landes, a cancellation finally achieved by opponents after more than 50 years of struggle. Obviously, it was the threat of resistance throughout France, of action by thousands of people, and the risk of ‘destabilization‘ that did the trick. It was a Government running scared, which forced them to make concessions, and had nothing to do with the ‘considered ’ opinion of experts that rendered the project obsolete. This Government is more or less the same as its predecessors as regards its favourable attitudes to ‘useless grand projects’, or rather useful only to those who leech on humanity and the planet. It only shows it is more prudent and manipulative.
For opponents it was a great victory, proving that with enough determination and tenacity they can compel the State to cede ground to its various managers, both left and right, always stated they’d never cede. But from the Government's point of view, it was a victory they have seen fit to defeat. Because, for years, the real conflict between, on the one hand, the State, their managers, the vast majority of politicians, business barons and, on the other, the zadistas of Notre Dame des Landes and its supporters, is not just a confrontation for or against a stupid airport project, but also, and especially, for or against certain social choices. These choices were often proclaimed by the angriest supporters of the project: for these people, the most important was - and continues to be - the destruction of the ZAD. For these are people who constantly spread grotesque lies, implying that we are a den of terrorists and agitators. They denounce our Zad zone as if they have a legal ‘right’ to do so as if we have no ‘right’ to stop things and to explore. In fact, the Zad is a concrete example of creative and determined people acting together.
SOLIDARITY WITH THE ZAD-ZONES TO DEFEND ZAD EVERYWHERE!
The importance of what is happening in France on ZAD Notre Dame des Landes - the creation at the centre of Europe of a territory of social experimentation, involving agricultural and environmental concerns - led to an add-on to an article by Pedro Fidalgo (see pp. 162-this number 184 of the Enlightened Flute) and is a supplement to the situation.
After the defeat of the Government and on the resistance of Zadistas, what about threats that still hover on the horizon? Despite our internal differences, it is possible to live in another life way without being crushed by a cannibalistic ‘economy’, subjugated by ever more vicious bosses and shareholders; a life stolen by gold and finance, handcuffed by ‘laws’, prison, beaten-up or slaughtered by Mafia-like authorities. It is proof that humans can have other relationships rather than that of the war of one against all. It is proof that citizens can auto-organize thanks to a real direct democracy, instead of handing over our own power to leave in the hands of vicious demagogues. It is obviously a threat to all ruling oligarchies and that’s why they want to annihilate us.
REMOVE THE REASON FOR RESISTANCE
And so it came about, Macron and his clique, in their capacity as skilled politicians, tried to remove the pretext to the resistance. The defence of the interests of humanity’s vampires justifies sacrificing an airport! The abandonment of this project allow them to argue that the ZAD has no more reason to exist, hoping that some will be content with this cancellation and, selfishly discard the Zadistas, without regard for the fact that without them, the airport by now would already have been built, (as was lucidly noted in an oppositional history). Prepare to eliminate what continues to be a territory freed from your domination, an experience of social change they fear may be extended; prepare to end this «commune».
In fact, on January 17th, 2018, the Government, even as it announced the cancellation of the airport project, confirmed their determination to expel the Zadistas, giving them only until March 30th to evacuate the area. This deadline, this date, also marks the end of the traditional 'winter’ truce which in France prohibits during winter the eviction of tenants with massive rent arrears, etc. This deadline has now been delayed until early June. On February 10th, 20,000 people celebrated the ZAD’s success in the cancellation of the El Dorado airport project but also emphasising their determination « to prevent the ZAD being destroyed in the future.” The different components of the collective struggle stated: “in the future, we proclaim this territory must be able to continue to be an arena of social, environmental and agricultural experimentation” just in case they make any attempt at expulsion. For months, the movement had been anticipating what would be their position in the event of the cancellation of the airport project drawing up outline plans for a future that takes into account the originality of the ZAD. A six-point agenda, signed by all, stated that the management of the territory of the ZAD should continue to be the work of the collective against the airport and should ensure that the land, the living places and the workshops continue to stick with the spirit of the ZAD, one that privileges the ‘commons’ with a much as possible non-market approach. Already we’ve created uses for the «Cabane buildings», in addition to the monthly General Assembly, aimed, “on the one hand, to discuss/manage at the present time the use of common spaces in the arena, based on the six points, the different practices there-in and the conflicts that can eventually ensue; on the other hand, thoughts on the future re-orientation of the ZAD after the cancellation of the airport project.”
NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE STATE
The group appointed a delegation of people, representing the different factions within the fight, to negotiate with the State following the changed situation. Some of these people were without illusions saying, «Many of us don’t agree or do not expect any big deal from this initiative, we can only conquer and keep things through struggle, and not through what they grant us. We don't want to believe that this playing about with dates and times that some call "victory" and others "the cancellation of the airport", all of which divides our movement fighting every which way for the cake whose cherry would be a benevolent state agreement. We want none of that and rather declare to the State, as well as to those whom our movement scares, that we all stick together. We are more than just obstacles to their projects; we are barriers to their chop logic, with or without the airport. Without a doubt, the State, through negotiations, has a hand in what will happen here. But that doesn't mean we're going to sign an open doors agreement with them. For us, the State is and will remain a political opponent, and we will continue to build our own realities».
But the State will try to weaken and divide the movement, placing each of us into different factions, either ' legalists ' or ' radicals '. From February onwards, the majority of the movement, eager to show goodwill towards the State negotiator, decided to unblock the road (It is now referred to as 'the days of dissent’) which crosses the ZAD and was amended at the time of Operation Caesar, in 2012, when 'barricades' and various ad hoc buildings (Cabanes) were put in place, that limited all movement. This roadblock has for a long time been the subject of friction between Zadistas: some want to 'free up' a passage through which small farmers and residents of the surrounding district can move through more easily, but those who dwell in shacks built along the road or nearby fear being evicted. They (the same going for others) see in the reopening of the road the beginning of 'normalisation' of the ZAD. However, the group, which has a large ‘majority’ and in favour of reopening the road quickly, cleaning up the site, dismantling the barricades, demolishing the huts (Cabanes) or moving them elsewhere, raised the oppositional hackles of other Zadistas, with ‘minority’ interests».
CONTRADICTIONS BETWEEN THE ZADISTAS
The reason such a speedy response was called for was the following: If this is not done, the State will threaten us with a rapid police intervention. Some who’d previously been with the CEDIA movement countered that scenario less glibly, seeing it as the ultimate threat. And, once you clear the road, other sites would surely follow invaded by hordes of police on the pretext of securitising the reopening of the road, then copiously filming those Zadistas living on the roadside, marking various places, getting their foot in everywhere they can, even entering ZAD cabins, etc. Moreover, Government propaganda had presented the Zadistas as «ultraviolent» and barmy, opposed to peaceful means, but with the exception of some pathetic sabotage during the night on work carried out during the day (three square meters of tar gouged out, a discharge pipe damaged) nothing of the sort happened. However, these things allowed the city of Nantes to justify the imposing of a police presence and, more seriously, gave space for certain ‘reasonable’ and ‘reliable’ opponents to proclaim that 'agitators' would spoil the negotiations. One of these media-obsessed «leaders» went so far as to proclaim in a sleazy way: «If they [the ultraviolents] continue to act like idiots, we're going to have to endure another day of tear gas [...] The tractors will certainly not protect these people»! Most Zadistas replied to this, «Aren’t you ashamed! There are no good and bad Zadistas». As for the «ultraviolents», they showed their arse-holes to the Mayor, who came to the ZAD to see if they were "returning to a lawful state” and had also been strutting about in a ' violent’ manner…… there are worse things than violence!...
Parallel with the above, the city of Nantes prepared the framework of pseudo-negotiations intended to trick the Zadistas into renouncing all their demands. They asked the Zadistas to present individual dossiers on agricultural projects that could be approved by the authorities ‘representatives’ among which is the Chamber of Agriculture which in the hands of the FNSEA, [National Federation of Farmers ' unions, an employer organization established in 1946 - TN] is subservient to the drug lords of industrial agriculture and co-responsible for the increasingly draconian «rules» which, lead to the strangulation and death of small peasants. The other existing ZAD activities, such as the bakery, machine workshop, library, etc. were not included in this table. As to the will for collective Zadista management, the representative of the Minister of «Ecology» came up with a 'non-negotiable' categorical refusal.
THE GOVERNMENT WANTS TO TAME THE ZADISTAS
In short, it means giving up everything that is the ZAD to the people, perhaps even the right to remain there if you submit to their imposed entry stipulations So all those who don’t fit into this picture can then be expelled from one day to the next, seeing also that the date ultimatums are too short. In reality, it’s all a front so that the city of Nantes Prefecture can say that the ZAD arena is «open». From February 28th2018 our collective negotiator quickly noted: «far from marking the opening of a negotiation with the State, this meeting looks more like the beginning of long-term arm wrestling regarding the future of the ZAD».
As the ultimatum of the Prefecture was set for 9th March 2018 a broad assault, more military than police-oriented, was launched by the State against the ZAD. 2,500 stormtroopers made up of various police outfits assaulted the Zadistas and their supporters (including a very peaceful camp of 'gray power' elderly people that have been assisting the Zadistas by their presence), deploying the participation of armoured personnel, a helicopter, a drone, and bulldozers, together with an impressive amount of tear gas grenades, and other Robocop gadgets. The area was entirely surrounded. Those who wanted to get in there, including the people who live there, were handed stop and search warrants, their cars and possessions rummaged through. The cops took car number plates and copied personal documents, seizing a number of things: materials and tools, sleeping bags, blankets, medicines, knives, corkscrew, scarves, etc. in short an absolute state-of-siege lockdown. An observer noted that the operation represents the equivalent of 50% of French military forces mobilized in the «outside» world. This long, drawn-out intervention will cost in the tune of EUR 350 000. Someone commented that the State intends to make savings in certain public services, starting with the hospitals, yet doesn't hesitate to splurge money this way.
A FIERCE RESISTANCE
Resistance was fierce in the Zad fighting resulting in major violence. From the first day, a number of living spaces were utterly destroyed. But the attackers committed an error by expelling and demolishing the «Hundred» farms - an innovative project - and an exemplar of organic creative agriculture. This appalling excess backfired as numerous ZADists who had dropped out returned alongside many new people joining-up to support the ZAD thus helping the resistance. Throughout France, and even abroad, there were moves of support followed by numerous occupations, lock-outs, etc. The weekend following, 7000 people were in Nantes - now a city under siege. The next day, in-between 10-12,000 ZAD people (hard to tell precisely in such a context) by-passed the police, wending their way through hidden muddy forest paths, While some faced the Robocops, others decided on a cheerful picnic. An impressive wooden structure, weighing two tons, was assembled in a field and then transported through the forest by an energetic, whooping crowd having a whale of a time. The reigning spirit in ZAD is summed in one very significant detail : while the builders of this structure know it will be soon destroyed, they nonetheless were keen to build with meticulous care, even ornamenting beams with elaborate sculptures. This structure would be destroyed the next day but it didn't remove from anyone’s head the idea of rebuilding. This and everything else was, of course, demolished.
AN ARMY OF OCCUPATION
On the pretext of preventing this reconstruction, and although the declared objective of destruction has been officially achieved, although revised downward (29 living places destroyed instead of the 40 targeted), Nantes kept up the political pressure. It continues to carry out assaults on several ZADs, maintaining also the pressure on all who live in this area, Zadistas or not, deploying a ceaseless questioning of people (e.g. a nurse arrested fifteen times on one day), along with deafening helicopters hovering overhead day and night, electricity cuts and several provocations. The purpose, obviously, is to put the inhabitants on the outskirts against the Zadistas, implying the latter are at the root of all their discomforts. But this tactic doesn’t work, because most of the population are against the police.
However, the negotiators of the FENS collective of the ZAD continued to talk to the Mayor, trying to get a 'deal' that wasn't a total surrender. They are supported by numerous declarations from groups, associations, unions, parties, intellectuals, asking the State, sometimes with great firmness, to put an end to destruction (' immediate withdrawal of occupying forces» (this from Vinci CGT - Confédération générale du travail) and find a «reasonable conclusion» to the conflict. This spring there is an important general contestation going on in France, with strikes and demonstrations in defence of various public services, plus the ZADs, which have launched a quest for ways of life less subjected to predatory capitalists, and supported by a wide eco-inclined population. But the Government won’t budge seeing this as a social contest and has put itself in the position of not caving into anything. Of course, the little King and his court play on credibility and political firmness. Will the ZAD pay for it? Nothing is said. But the resistance continues to be very strong, despite some defections by opponents who ‘historically’ always resort to profiling themselves in mainstream media.
On the eve of April 23rd 2018, like the deadline of some Vatican ultimatum, a minority of Zadistas submitted individual dossiers requested by the State as proof of a conciliatory goodwill. However, the State couldn’t delete the demand that ZADS continue defending a collective project and will resist if expulsions resume (there are still about 60 areas of «illegal» experimental ZAD ways of living). Others, with no police record, declare themselves opposed to this 'soft' strategy insisting they are still an aggressive ZAD and will not accept the 'pause' requested by negotiators and their numerous supporters in «civil society».
REPRESSION AND SOLIDARITY
The doctors involved in the ZAD, say police brutality has resulted in more than 300 wounded, some with injuries comparable to a war zone. Among the cops, there have been about 150 wounded. An Association of Women Gendarmes complained about their husbands being sent to the front without having «sufficient resources» to fulfil their mission, yet thousands of gas grenades were exploded (some people recovered the wrappers and deposited piles of them on the steps of the prefecture, revealing the scale of the aggression). And these wives want do they what? Armoured vehicles? Tanks?
«Cruelty is the usual share of all failing powers», lucidly noted the communard Eugène Varlin. Macron’s clique is not yet a Versailles Government willing to shoot thousands of insurgents to stay in power, but their show of force is a sign of weakness. You know that the «rule of law» which has so little credibility among its 'subjects’ means they can only rule by violence. And each of its actions will put a few more people against them, as in other parts of the world more and more people rise up against the prevailing blood-letters in this society.
A final provisional word goes to the inhabitants of the ZADs: “to those who, behind their fine words, expect to continue extracting profits from the destruction of natural resources, the growing inequalities and domestication of people is unacceptable. We should try and organize - in a quite clear and consequent way – against the current of these deadly values. However, we can bet, in the face of a world advancing straight into the abyss, that what we tried to specifically create on the Notre Dame des Landes ZAD - and other spaces - to put life back into our hands- will continue to be considered essential and will be supported by an increasingly important number of people.” The cry “ZADS everywhere!” is not about to fall silent.
25th April 2018
AGAINST THE AIRPORT AND ITS WORLD
By Pedro Fidalgo (1)
On 17th January 2018 the French State was forced to announce the final end of its project regarding the Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport, declaring it was defeated in the face of an opposition movement – one with a real grudge - that started in 1972. In these extraordinary democracies around Notre-Dame-des- Landes, the population came to need little more than a half second to do or see anything and the ZAD of Notre Dame des Landes has become a source of inspiration to everyone who aspires to freedom. It shows us that submission and conformity are not ineluctable, that it is possible to shake off this yoke. The Zadistas, made up of mixed multiples of active insurgents, declare: «We don't stand up for nature; we are the nature that defends itself» and through this radical intelligence are elicited new capabilities of resistance and going on the offensive. In a world that so often drags us down to exterior and Interior chasms, the ZAD - this and other ZADS - are examples of fertile human creativity. They are more necessary and urgent than ever.
$1( (1) [Co -activist and contributor to the free press. Filmmaker (co-author, with Nelson Warrior, of the feature film Change your Life –(Jose Mario White, life and work), the author says thanks to Renaud Drovin and Gerard Lambert for the help they provided].
In the year end of 2017 we are aware throughout Europe and its tarmac-covered highways that there’s a forest now populated by irreducible Zadistas who always resist. Because of this, life is not easy for VINCI, the 'promo-ing' multinational corporation who want to build an airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes (2).
But how did a tiny population lost somewhere in a French territory, manage to resist – what is called - ‘Operation Cesar’ (3), which, armed with almost three thousand members of intervention-style police paramilitary groups aimed to expel everyone from this land so an airport could be built? What makes the movement invincible in the face of the gendarmes? Part of the answer lies in the companionship of people who inhabit or circulate within the ZAD.
Based on a desperate greed to build a new airport, investors and minions around successive Governments, decided to launch a referendum in the region to convince the insurgents’ parents of the importance of this big enterprise. After an uneven campaign, full of tricks, designed to generate interest in the previous 'benefits' the airport would bring, votes were extended to people least affected by the scheduled construction covering geographically distant voters who were, as expected, favourable, to the Pharonic VINCI company. The result of the referendum was that people even wanted the new airport and that only an extremist minority were opposed, as voices soon cried out from the Capital, the gallery, in offices, in the National Assembly. But the problem, to opponents — as they left - was not on the legality, but rather on the legitimacy of the movement that it constituted. And the resistance was reinforced.
A wider vote would certainly have led to a NO victory ' (4). Voter analysis revealed that voters from the northern zone of the Department, those more distant from Notre Dame des Landes, voted YES. Those from the southern zone - including Nantes - voted against, although the former were hammered by propaganda around the 'need’ for an airport as against finally the harmfulness and the danger of the planes flying over the city (a lie: If the airport was built, the city would be divided in an East-West axis instead of South-North). One such scam and not so democratic, said a majority were ‘overwhelming’ in favour of the airport, despite what defenders will continue to claim.
What was at the origin of the protests that successive Governments never managed to shut up? This adventure, involving farmers, environmentalists and, most recently, occupants of an anarchist autonomist tendency - took almost 50 years (1972-2018) to protect the local agriculture, the ecosystem and the quality of life of the inhabitants of Notre Dame des Landes, facing down the imperial and mercantilist megalomaniacal ‘vanity projects’ bestriding the world today.
What I'm addressing here is not a fairy tale, but the truthful story of one of the fiercest political battles of the early 21st century; a long and tenacious fight against the excessive damage of a capitalist Empire; one of firm and steadfast enforcers endeavouring to protect the Earth, reinventing democracy, and putting into practice new social relations reflecting on their own meaning of human existence.
A LONG STORY
Notre-Dame-des-Landes is situated in Brittany, north of Nantes, only 17 km from the fields to the desert-like heathlands (what the French call the bocage –TN). Increased prosperity was due to the blood of slaves brought across the sea, which among other things, entailed the construction of luxury buildings for slave dealing owners that still today adorn Nantes squares and city streets. Here, the human hand intervened throughout the lowland bocage and harvesting forest resources, allowed for survival. But it was from the Middle Ages until the mid-18th century, that the woods were no longer the base for meagre survival, because wood became one of the main sources of energy, no longer just serving skeleton homes but ships and other substantial embarkations such as the largest slave trade of Royalist France. The wood turned out to be crucial in the commercial development of the triangle which consisted in the deportation of Africans, then purchased and taken to the plantations in Caribbean colonies, where merchandise such as coffee and sugar were opulent and abundant.
However, the area here in question remained almost deserted marshland and free, despite the residual deforestation caused by poor peasants, which, as far as I know, inhabited these plateaus just for the wood, and whose traces are lost. The earth after all is for everyone and does not belong to anyone. The so-called communal land, formed by thickets, more thickets, and shortcuts were free. The soils were used collectively, even if landlords, early inhabitants of the community, could have influence over legal decisions. The peasants, for their time, raised cattle but on most of these wetlands little was cultivated. The heather and broom served as food for cows and horses, though sometimes used for sawdust and the ovens. The leftover ash was part of the three to five years culture of cereal production before thrown back onto the bocage.
The impact of intellectual enlightenment together with the eclipse of a simplistic market society meant increasing capitalisation brought about an increased appropriation of the land, giving rise to new agricultural methods. It involved a revalorization of the High Plains, which until then were shared, and a certain number of rich Nantes owners came to invest in the land, taking it over, at the same time that the agronomists discovered the advantages of creating animal by-product for bone disease (caused by sugar) that was a pillar of the economy of Nantes - until the discovery of guano, natural fertilizer imported from Peru. Little by little, the peasants were expelled and replaced by what’s called fifths farmers, (meaning farmers who only occupied and worked a fifth of what they owned and the rest rented out) which redefined the open meadow land separating them into agricultural plots, installing fences, digging trenches for water seepage and ponds for the cattle. What was once a near empty plain became human territory.
This village appears in the annals of history from 16th February 1871, when it was given the status of municipality. The human zone accompanies the agricultural evolution and the rural exodus, especially between the bloody years of 1914-1918, was marked by modernist innovation attached to 20th century wars.
In 1944, on the south side of the heath, in a cramped terrain that was going to be part of the Rohanne Forest (then not yet planted), was installed a airstrip, designed by American armed forces, allowing the landing of observation planes to guard the port of Saint-Nazaire during the fighting which at that time was heavy. France along with all Europe came out of this war in meagre shape and all thefields were abandoned.
But with peace the rural exodus continues and rationing ends in 1949. Soon the country will produce more meat than it consumes, followed by a time of development, growth, readjustment. The Marshall Plan will open doors in France with the ‘new’ agro-food industry, encouraging the excessive consumption of animals, especially meat and milk. Shepherds and farmers will feel the weight of this exploding industry, seeing their means of subsistence decreasing drastically. Factories, refineries, industry sprout up off the A90 highways. Most men are hired on the outskirts of industrialized cities and the tractor, emblematic ‘object’ for farmers left behind, enters the fields. TV and computer science equip the houses, redefining the role of women at home. On top of this there is the declining Nantes shipbuilding industry, but hey, there stands the new star of Sud-Aviation, the factory based in Bouguenais, that at the beginning of the 1960s already employs more than 2,000 workers having conceived the supersonic Concorde aeroplane. The world is racing forward. Who capitalizes are locals and elites, with the Planification of the Interministerial Territory Delegation (DIAT), based in Paris, the totemic suits in cahoots with the idea of building a new airport, one greater than the Chateau Bougon, located to the south of Nantes since 1928 and which has just been raised to the ground.
In 1966, Nantes Chamber of Commerce and Industry announced that the Atlantic Zone will be the 21st century Ruhr and the embryonic international airport - next stop Paris - gratifies this hunger with «arrivals and departures every hour, every half an hour and every quarter of an hour». In this sense, several studies are conducted by 'experts' concluding discreetly in 1970, which said it was necessary to create an aspirant class to develop the airport around the metropolitan district of Nantes/Saint-Nazaire. A Senator of the region Loire-Atlantic reaches the USA excited about the dream of an air base of 700 hectares. But where to build this airport? Next to Notre-Dame-des-Landes of course. The first pamphlet against the airport project was drawn up by farmers on the 28th of March 1972. In 1973, another study, done by the Regional Body of Studies and Planification of the Metropolitan Area, ensures that in the year 2000 passenger traffic per year will be around six million people, together with bays for intercontinental flights with an airport security equipped to deal with supersonics. The decision is from on top and is about power and then pushily presented to the population throughout the city, as a concerted undisputed effort. There was no prior debate, despite the reluctance of some local politicians. In September of that year, several arrondisements vote in favour of the ZAD - Zone de Amenagement Differe - (Deferred Planning Area) which comprises 1,650 hectares of agricultural land.
MAY ‘68 AND THE COMMUNE OF NANTES
And the first peasants raise their voices. The Nantense region was marked by fervent fights during the social uproar of May ‘68 and the city of Nantes taken over by the trade unions seems to have gone further than elsewhere in such practices. In 1968, during the month of May, an Inter-Union Strike Committee took over the Municipal Chamber, replacing the administration by occupation instigating locals to distribute goods and replenish the city. As an example of this, management circulated passwords which were handed out to ambulances or bakers’ trucks and small farmers, as well as pasting up labels in shop windows of some shops that stated: “SHOP AUTHORISED TO OPEN. PRICES PERMANENTLY CONTROLLED under the responsibility of THE ASSOCIATION”. There were other strong examples such as the neighbourhood committees which were more effective than the central strike committee (who were regarded with suspicion), creating a direct market of producers and which also served as politization cells among the workers. The Sud-Aviation workers were among those who most contributed to the revolutionary paralysis of the country, helping to hide several leftist militants wanted by police.
As we will see below, there is a correlation between these practices and the future fight against the Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport. From these attempts to transform the relations between work and producers, in the years that follow an Independent Peasants Union is created, led by Bernard Lambert. (It is now known by the name of the Peasants Confederation - Confederation Paysan) It is an agricultural union that occupies land left fallow by large owners on which is then installed young farmers, putting difficulties in the way of owners. However, the main struggles are with the manufactures such as the takeover and self-management of Lip watches. More broadly struggle morphs into a great peasant anti-military movement against the military base on the Larzac plateau, in Aquitania.
It was in this post May ‘68 ambience, countering the tendency to ignore, dismiss or not consult with the population, that some of these farmers, more aware of the impact that the construction of the airport would have on their lives, started the Association for the Defence of Farmers affected by the Airport (ADECA), participating in meetings, publishing articles and discussing with municipal representatives. The media’s cameras tried to convince people that «there would be work for everyone, new residents would live there », even brandishing an amazing marketing note which said, «To ease the round-trip to New York»!!!
Discussions on the purchase of the land were polemical and full of conflicts, leading to the creation of a parallel group of farmers not directly affected, but in sympathy with the protestors. In September 1973, during the corn harvest, the first ZAD demonstration was organised. It was the beginning of a big fight, which resulted in innovative multiple forms of living, surpassing institutionalised forms of living. On the 11th of January the following year there was published the official authorization that validated the ZAD as a spatial planning zone - but, then, a regional television programme, entitled Don't Live in a Desert, was leaked to power and raised indignation among the population of Notre Dame des Landes. The already mentioned ADECA association installed information panels on the side of the roads, and a visit from the Mayor of the Blain municipality on the limits of Notre Dame, was welcome in March. At the same time during the night slogans were painted on the walls. Hostility had become manifest.
Sometime later, a group of activists against the project mobilized more than 500 people from Blain to view the feature film Kashima Paradise (1973), a French documentary by Yann Le Masson and Benie Deswarte that recounts the story of the long struggle waged in Japan against the Narita Airport project, 70 km from Tokyo. The example shown by this film was crucial to the way future Zadistas will organize themselves in the mid-70s in an unstable economic situation. Two years and three months after the authorization by the municipality to purchase ground in and around ZAD oriented districts, a book, Degage... On amenagi, (Getting rid of a General Urban Development Scheme) (5) was published dedicated to the start of the Notre-Dames-des-Landes fight and which denounces the manipulative measures related to the first land expropriations. But in the meantime an important milestone in history means the wrath around the idea of a new airport is left forgotten in the filing cabinet: in 1979, the Iranian Revolution brings on the oil crisis and between economic crises, wars in the Middle East and walls falling in Europe, the years pass-by without anybody bothering about the famous airport and which for certain nobody wants to talk about.
A NEW PROJECT FOR AN AIRPORT
But it was merely an interregnum. Because, fifteen years later, after the Gulf war, the stabilization of oil prices due to greater control by the United States, will allow the Socialist party Mayor of Nantes, Jean-Marc Ayrault, who remembers in 1994 to remove old mouldy designs and do a makeover, soon re-appears among glazed-eye people seeing dollars everywhere, supporting the idea as needs dictated stating that at the dawn of the new century the possibility of a new airport may be needed. Because don’t we already know that the airport of Chateau Bougon is near to saturation point even before the year 2000, so we will wait and see? (Also, the airport really is the pet project of Ayrault who then becomes prime minister under the so-called socialist government only to be then nicknamed “L’Aryaulporc” – a brilliant wordplay merging airport and pig –TN!) Come the year 2000, Prime Minister Lionel Jospin of the Socialist party, along with various mayors and hangers-on signals he favours an airport security platform between Nantes and Notre-Dame-des- Landes. This is all in hand and the Minister of Environment, Dominique Voynet, even assures us that there will be a railway line between the city and the airport, and that the first plane to take off from the runway will happen in 2010. .. They dream of a Eurolandia of frivolous profits which day after day becomes ever more unbalanced. And confidence among them is not missing.
But the people are killjoys and plan to halt such aspirations. An association of greater magnitude ACIPA (an anti-airport NGO made up of local farmers and residents –TN) is formed bringing together people from ADECA, plus several towns affected by the project, which, in March 2001, organizes a demonstration of more than 300 people spreading throughout different areas with the Zad still saying NO TO THE AIRPORT. In June they (ADECA) gear up, organizing a peaceful picnic gathering together about 1,500 people. The meetings, conversations and debates organised by mediating institutions serve only to justify the decision taken by the authorities, only more so. And in 2003 these ‘officers of the people’ conclude that the airport is «clearly needed». But opponents counterpose very detailed studies that contradict the arguments cooked up in a rush by «experts, paid by the promoters of the project. And these studies emphasize, among other things, that 80,000 people would be 'impacted' by the project, when the promoters speak of only 2,000.
The first study commenced on 29th June 2005. But members of ACIPA decided to change strategy. A new president of the association is elected and they radicalize their positions that until then still visualised the possibility of an airport, but located somewhere else. Passing to direct action, a hundred opponents blocked bulldozers... After that, and for several years, the authorities keep trying to get the project off the ground – locking up and safeguarding equipment on the ground – etc, side by side with a growing mobilizing of cops, who came to be permanent to protect the groundworks assisted by a further 200 guards with trucks and military helicopters. In 2006 there was an action - an air standpoint - in a place called Fosses Noires, where thousands of people ‘wrote’ with their bodies the motto NO AIRPORT - yet at the same time a survey of opinion publishes a result favourable to the airport. LA ZAD IS PARTOUT (ZAD IS EVERYWHERE).
THE NATIONAL DIMENSION OF THE CONTESTATION
For the reformist opposition - and why the polls don't spend anything on propaganda - an associate coordination is created that is against the airport though based beyond the cities directly affected, meaning ACIPA acquires a national character starting to engage in political activities beyond the now permanent ZAD perimeter. In the spring of 2007, a couple, Sylvie and Marcel Thebault, arrange on Limimbout’s farm, a meeting with the peasants of ADECA, along with the ecologist and agricultural trade unionist, Jose Bove of the global justice movement, which, with his charismatic Asterix moustache and folklore status is running for the Presidency of the French Republic. In August, with the help of ACIPA, some young people squat an abandoned Rosiers farmhouse, thus giving rise to the first Zad occupation and, in December, inaugurate an agricultural zone; a meeting point which comes to be called the Vache-Rit, (a kind of French fun pun something like The Laughing Cow -TN ).
On the 1st of March 2008, three thousand people demonstrate in Nantes against the recently published utility declaration announced by institutions connected with the French State. This demonstration allows people to create links between different tendencies. Some inhabitants close to the editor and intellectual circle, L'Encyclopedie des Nuisances (Encyclopaedia of Damaging Substances), a post-situationist tendency with its critiques of social modernity and industrialization, decide, in collaboration with other activists who meet in Nantes, to issue a plea requesting the creation through squats and occupation of permanent settled camps.
Thus commences a serious confrontation between two opposing visions of the world; an opposition not just about Notre Dame des Landes, but against the abject capitalism of a globalized world raising awareness throughout the rest of Europe and in opposition to the World Empire. On the 1st of May a big picnic is organised again on the ZAD. And, for the first time, a text of declarations is read out to a hundred people at Limimbout’s ‘fifths’ farm. Although the effect of the text was not great, it went on to serve, even today, to legitimize the occupation of many Zadistas; one that is deployed when faced with the question of legality.
However, about 60 tractors try to disrupt a visit to Nantes from the President of the Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, who was more occupied by the elephant in the park of consumer attractions in the city, than anything else. Some militants move to London to oppose the third runway at Heathrow Airport. Others make 18-hour vigils in front of Gonselho Hall, and the Vice President gets a cake shoved in his face and files a complaint. On the 8th January 2009 an enthusiastic demonstration is mounted – owing to hundreds of people supporting defendants. And, days later, excavation work is commenced by diggers but then dispersed by opponents who were able to access the groundworks. Two people are accused of stealing land and judged in court, ending up being fined 800 euros. Against the judge were 500 people in solidarity opposing the repression and oppositional activities at the airport don't stop growing. Thus was born the Epine collective garden occupying the Interdepartmental Roads Directive for the West (DIRO) and public opinion has started to oscillate. Some representatives - doubting the project - also come from municipalities. The institutions reveal their weak point, realizing that our position is not monolithic, that there is no consensus. Soon the fight is notched up a level.
THE RESISTANCE EXPANDS
The association organize a Week of Resistance assembling a great coming together in a field (Le Champ de Rolandiere). There are many stalls organized, some political parties are invited, food and drink are sold, agriculture, climate, crops and politics in general are discussed. New people, with the consent of the so-called historical inhabitants, have organized at the same time in a neighbouring field, a Climate Action Camp. They are young people from the anarchist milieu of Nantes and other places reaching out across the spectrum that try this form of action, one already attempted two years earlier at Heathrow Airport in England. For somewhat distrustful older ones, it was a surprise to realize among these young people their ability to self-organize, who communicate laterally, having dispensed with leaders. They insist that the water gets generated through autonomous techniques to that of ‘supplied’ electricity (meaning using vegetable oil powered generators, wind energy, solar panels) and, in the end, don't even throw away a cigarette butt! But, unlike the historical opponents, the newly arrived militants don't focus only on the problem of the airport, but look towards a global and comprehensive vision of the problem. They talk about taking direct action, creative and non-violent, climate crimes; to developing concrete proposals for a sustainable way of life in the here and now; organizing workshops and educational discussions aspiring to an international movement with a view to climate justice. Disparate and heterogeneous they assemble tents, canteens, yurts, caravans. There are about 600 people from various inspirations (anarchists, communists and autonomous ecology freaks,) and, alongside the electricity, are dry toilets, biological agriculture, vegetarian food and waste recycling.
During Resistance Week cohabitation wasn’t easy. The Climate Action Camp saw clearly the becoming of political stars like Jean-Luc Mélenchon (PG, left party) or the Trotskyist Olivier Besancenot (NPA, New Anti-capitalist Party). Some vandalize organized reformists stalls such as those of ATTAC, or of political parties such as the NPA, PG and Greens (EELV), which they view as electoral opportunists. Then there’s another cleavage, re an immediate refusal of journalists, and at the entrance to the Climate Action Camp, they speak about producing their own information, for this is an autonomous space which possesses its own activity and expression protected from intrusion and a TV designed ‘by nature’ to reinterpret information in favour of the airport. These people have to be driven off. The voltage increases when an anonymous group decides to order food at the supermarket in Vigneux, the nearest village, This action, coming from a small group (but by no means the least ‘legitimate’), served as a pretext for a sharp media presenter to denigrate opponents of the airport by the dominant media. It was proof that the journalists had not moved one iota in understanding and support.
From that moment on the number of occupants increases, increasing our determination too. And in this environment - a holiday between militant tourism and willingness to participate - on August 1st 2009 the Gaite farmhouse is occupied. Little by little, other people will come and, on November 14, several houses and plots of land are occupied in the Champ de Planchettes.
Unlike the forecasts of media presenters ten years earlier, in 2010 no plane takes off or lands in Notre-Dame-des-Landes. In the first week of March 9th under the sun’s timid rays peering through the clouds of a rainy Loire-Atlantico, tractors and bicycles leave the wet and green pastures to parade side by side, demonstrating unity among farmers and ecologists. Months pass. Occupants and farmers resist, cultivating land and organizing cultural activities open to people from the outside. On October 1st, Z Magazine, edited by comrades from the Parisian region, coming for the first time, present a number devoted to the region, evoking the ZAD. The fight, which was local, is now also discussed in intellectual circles in the French capital. There’s talk of the crisis in Greece, comparing the struggles in the Exharheia district of Athens (where the young anarchist Alexander Grigoropoulos was killed by police in 2008) with the struggles and the repression of ZADs or even what’s taking place in Chiapas, Mexico.
THE YEARS OF AUSTERITY
In the middle of all this, the economy of the European Union has become unstable, especially around international financial elites and in response all Governments seek to mend the problem declaring years of austerity. They want stability in order to rebuild the capitalist model, rearranging the plutocratic fortress of surveillance, the business community and unemployment. Who says an airport wouldn't be of much use? A bunch of bright youngsters in the middle of the woods? But the Zadistas think: a moribund capitalism helps you die faster. In Saint-Nazaire, in October, between flour and eggs flying through the air, the vote for the financing of the airport is postponed. It was a vote affected by a new poll about the public utility project but even so causes tensions with clouds of tear gas in and around the municipality of Notre-Dame-des-Landes. Some inhabitants of the ZAD hit the road in order to make known the struggle (and discover others), while the multinational business group Vinci is accepted as the Manager of the future airport. The powerful multinational can fire rockets: not only has it been awarded the management of the upcoming project, but, moreover, receives the keys to the airports of Nantes and Saint-Nazaire, marking thus in France the first extension of airport security to private capitalism, until then directed by the State through the Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
A new age requires new forms of resistance. The Zadistas publish a website (zad.nadir.org) and the President of the State chamber, Jean-Marc Ayrault gets a pie in the face. The offices of the company Biotope, in charge of making an 'ecological' inventory, are invaded in Reze (on the outskirts of Nantes), and on the 7th of April 2011, a collective, organized by the action movement Reclaim the Fields (obviously, a naming influenced by Reclaim the Streets in London in the late 1990s -TN) with the support of farmers, takes about 1,000 people to join on a Thursday the occupied Le Sabot, cultivating an abandoned field. (Le Sabot – The Clog – so named with its reference to peasant life as well as the fact that it is the root of the word Sabotage, literally meaning to throw your clog into the gears of the machine - TN). The ZAD became the centre of a battle with its activity and unprecedented policy. The two sides will confront more than ever. GET VINCI OUTTA HERE. Several ‘researchers’ (media creeps) will carry out new works digging up filth on the ZAD. The middle of the forest then emerges like Ewoks in Star Wars. Formidably resistant, appearing behind the oaks and chestnut trees, they threaten the ‘researcher’ media creeps, slashing their tires, putting up graffiti or burning their cars, so that they scatter with their tails between their legs - and off they go! Like any pushy authoritarian force, the faint of heart media-dross ‘researchers’ will be back in June this time with a police escort to protect them. The barricades, true works of Zadista art, resist and though wasted, the insurgents face the guns of the guards. The tear gas stands in-between nature and this poisonous fog also affects the animals. The cows mooing, asphyxiated and with burning eyes. A Zadista went to the trouble to fling back at those who threw them, hundreds of cartridges and grenades to stop the guards. One can see from afar a tag that says: «POUR FAIRE DU FRIC IL FAUT DU FLIC "(To make money it is necessary to be a cop – though in translation missing the essential rhyme -TN). However, many opponents go to Fondaseol, one of the companies responsible for the ‘groundworks’. The company receives them, but opponents eventually cause damage and don’t want dialogue with the masters of hypocritical Tartuffe à la Moliere. In response to this action the company withdraws from the project. (As a result of Molière's play, contemporary French and English both use the word "tartuffe" to designate a hypocrite who ostensibly and exaggeratedly feigns virtue -TN).
Above: Used tear gas canisters
LIVING IN THE ZAD PERMANENTLY
Between June and July 2011 there is an occupation of the land on which the VINCI international company is working. The Peasant Confederation (Confederation Paysan) calls for blocking the access to the Loire-Atlantic Chamber of Agriculture and so begins Camp NO G reminiscent of clashes in Seattle in 1999 against the World Trade Organization or the intense 2002 demonstrations in Genoa against the G8, or the actions carried out by Black Block against NATO by comrades in Strasbourg. This time round they are joined by more than a hundred people around Boissiere, a vacant lot that is transformed into a self-managed village, superseding the G8 struggle by building a lasting, fighting moment thus widening the scope of the airport protest. In this camp about thirty people from the ZAD settle indefinitely, joining already existing projects, like the Far Ouest (The Far West). They install a big tepee in the Champs de Bellisch and change the place according to needs. These new occupants have a clear sense of policy and righteousness tampering with streamlining the site on the Internet. Other possibilities present themselves with the birth of the future Radio Klaxon.
Weeks later installations belonging to the Biotape Company are sabotaged overnight (flat tires, graffiti on the walls and glued-up locks). And on the 27th July, there’s a demonstration at Nantes airport. The police violence is disproportionate, causing several injuries. And then a Hot Summer. In August, the socialist propaganda caravan is destroyed in Nantes, creating a fuss in the press and in local politics. The professional agricultural organization outraged with the airport project will organize around another collective of companeros, the COPAIN 44 (44 being the identifying number for the Loire-Atlantico region).
From the city to the country, the struggle is constant over the next months. The trees around Mercoeur in Nantes are occupied, and the police return, violently intervening. Some 40 people dump manure on VINCI's headquarters in Couetron, and in Paris, 4,000 people demonstrate riding bicycles, driving tractors and delaying traffic through the great metropolis of yuppie profitability. Zad organise a country walk ripping up the posts of topographers responsible for delineating the perimeters of the airport. Efforts are made in Europe’s Ecology party headquarters along with the Greens (PEEV) to denounce the collaboration of environmentalists with the Socialist party and their reformist electoral logic. The Empire, Republican and State capitalist, hold six people accused of having dumped manure in public thoroughfares having privatised the space a month and a half previously.
And in 2012 Zadistas, farmers and allies alike reveal the full force of the movement that has been building. The year begins with the statement announcing that several local areas (houses, land, farms, homesteads, etc.) will be subject to eviction: Planchettes, Bel-Air, Tertre, Gaite, Pre-Faillie, Saint-Jean du Tertre. In February, a down and dirty Radio Klaxon, hack Radio Vinci Autoroute frequency (107.7 FM), thus those who pass through the highway that encircles the ZAD can take advantage of this hi-jacking appearing on the display of the auto-radio indicator as: OCCUPIED BY KLAXON RADIO. Klaxon will divulge information and help organize resistance to the police. On March the 8th, after several months of preparation, 8,000 people are demonstrating in Nantes including 200 tractors from the ZAD and other places. Already there is new violence caused by combat police who are installed on one of the main arteries into Nantes, Les Cours des 50 Otages. Two weeks later, two peasants go on hunger strike, and others join them. This hunger strike lasts 28 days and only ends when the police force’s official policies have ensured that there wouldn’t be any expulsions as justice resources were not examined.
In Nantes, every passing month there is a demonstration against the airport. Polls and surveys arranged through state institutions are still in search of a consensus favouring construction of the new airport, including a utility study on a possible road to the future airport connecting with the already existing VINCI Highway. This ends, on July 20th, in skirmishes with the Guard Mobiles (military mobile gendarme units –TN) and two people are arrested.
Everything becomes a pretext for the police, solicitors and «experts» who move in on the ZAD to inspect some homes. On August 28th , 500 demonstrators, together with about 150 tractors, travel to Saint-Nazaire (50 km away) to support the two people who are coming up in court. On September 11th a process gets underway aiming to expel the camp of the Herbin-Andre family, inhabitants of the ZAD.
On October 11th, there’s another expulsion of a camp in Grandchamp-des-Fontaines, another ZAD site which triggers, two days later, a festive demonstration that ends with the occupation of the Limimbout farmhouse. The guards’ mobility reputation means they have to be hasty, but, when they get there, find it empty.
Then commences the colossal battle known as OPÉRATION CÉSAR (named after a Roman Caesar –TN) which aimed to definitively expel the illegal residents of the ZAD and destroy the occupied huts and DIY-kit houses. And pronto! Some re-occupied sites since the last expulsions from this camp are attacked, including new occupations. On 16th October, the police evict people from Bellishroot farms, Gaite, Planchettes, Bel-Air, Tertre, Pre-Failli, Apres-Faillite, Saint-Jean-du-Tertre. The internet media is activated quickly and information flashes up immediately on zad. nadir. org. Klaxon Radio becomes advantageous re instant communication preventing difficult moments. Zadistas know better than anyone the fields and woods of the ZAD. But will they be able to resist the arms of the State?
On Thursday the Planchettes huts are destroyed. Nobody has slept since the beginning of the operation. The Zadistas now have dark circles around their eyes especially those doing look-outs. Tired at night they rise at dawn for another day of clashes. To protect the forest, calloused fingers are digging the earth and hands and faces are scratched by brambles, and boots are muddy as women and men erect barricades on the roads of access to the ZAD habitations. On day 18 and La Pointe fifth is pinpointed, several huts are destroyed in the Rohanne Forest, and in front of the City Hall of Nantes there’s a small demonstration. The military are still operational. Day after day, the Zadistas will lose ground.
On the 19th day, people of Le Coin and Isolette district are expelled but the Zadistas are able to re-occupy the Secherie farm. The intervening paramilitary body, used to urban riots, isn’t equipped to move in fields clogged with wet soils and irregular, dense tangled woods. On day 20, about 1,500 people demonstrate in Nantes and another hundred are focused on the village of Paquelais. Two houses are destroyed on the 21st day near the farm of Apres-Faillite and every day Operation COP is gaining ground, destroying the House also retaken on day 19. The roof and the terrace of the Secherie fifths farm collapses. On day 23 the Gaite still resists, but its occupants end up being expelled by tear gas and baton violence. A day of tears and the House is broken.
On day 24 the Inspector of Works stopped the removal of asbestos that was in Limimbout. The wall of La Pointe fifth is also demolished overnight and the Limbimbout is crushed the next day.
Despite the impending losses and injured, the 26th of October commenced a weekend of celebration and works to defend Le Saulce ‘fifth’. The owners stand side by side with the occupants. During three days barricades rise, trenches deepened, and paths are created by cutting down tree trunks and the D8 road near Saulce, is busy and, incredibly, becomes a place of celebration. We should note that from the beginning the solidarity was impressive: hundreds of people of all ages and conditions contribute with apparel, shoes, blankets, tools, groceries, medicines… A volunteer team of doctors and nurses is formed; an emergency ward of ‘first responders’ goes into the battlegrounds carrying out the wounded who were numerous (many with shrapnel grenade wounds to their bodies).
A PERMANENT STRUGGLE
The next day, the guards come to evict everyone. There are clashes during the whole day around the barricades, while in the time elapsing there are various peasant demonstrations in and around the countryside of Le Sabot. On day 30 and it’s the moment for Le Sabot to be evicted, as well as other places, such as the Cent-Chenes and the 100 Names. The day is also marked by a row of huts destroyed in the Rohanne Forest.
Mobile Guards have struggled to penetrate the forest, with several Zadistas resisting high in trees, huts and other lofty viewpoints; barricades are built with nets, long threads of ropes and thick steel cords linking trees to each other, disrupting the military devices.
Despite the expulsions and landslides, the intervening body begins to understand some of the difficulties. On the side of Tertre, the Zadistas manage to occupy the land and start to get their stuff spread out bringing in more supplies. Despite this glorious attempt, they are expelled yet again. On November 1st the altercations continue as Zadistas back the barricades at the Far Ouest camp.
On November 3rd a general assembly is held involving about 200 people, re the circumstances concerning the massive expulsions of ZADs as 5 more cabins are razed in the Rohanne woods. For the Zadistas, it means environmental war. Radio Klaxon communicates with the battered Zadistas via internal codes, moving from hand held walkie-talkies and mobile phones because the messages are intercepted by the police. In this context, a decision ultimately marks the history of the ZAD: due to police controls, everyone decides to call the Zad, “Camille”, a unisex name. All in all, we are helping to preserve the free ZAD “Camilles” zone without flinching and without losing our morale. Zadistas know better than anyone the fields and woods around the ZAD. But will they be able to resist the arms of the State?
Back to the land of Le Sabot (The Clog), the Zadistas battling it out with all their strength. The barricades are destroyed, but six guards return injured from the clashes. November 8th, with cold hands and cracked lips, the Zadistas are maxed out. The barricades, the D1 road are transformed into a kind of wordplay intending to slow down vehicles that want access to the ZAD, and two days later three thousand people emerge in Rennes (100 km away), many with tractors. On day 12, the security that policed the previous occupation deals with the La Pointe fifth forearmed by a group of masked individuals, to burn the car. On the day of the demonstration re the reoccupation of the ZAD, and responsive to the call of occupants and solidarity groups, 40,000 people are mobilised, marching from Notre-Dame- des-Landes to Rohanne Forest. Together they form a giant human chain and commence constructing cabins in a new place, named Chataigneraie (Shai), later changed to Chateigne (Chestnut) and, even later via a playful pun finally becomes Chat-da Teigne (The Mad Cat- TN). At the end of the day there’s a celebration under tents covered in tags and pieces.
After all, OPÉRATION CÉSAR which aimed to expel everyone from ZAD in two or three days was lost. For more than a month of resistance, few were the achievements of the state serviced by the multinational VINCI Group, and the brand image of the mercantilist Empire at world level.
During a week, the works of habitat construction continued in the forest. Many of the people who came to the demonstration decide to stay and prepare to defend the Rosiers, as that too will be subject to eviction. But the police can now enter the work arena at Chateigne and confiscate all «illegal» construction material. In the middle of the confusion Rosiers fifth is evicted and several huts are destroyed in the forest. It is a day of clashes and there’s a lot of wounded. From Paris comes the news that more than 80 people were arrested among those demonstrating in solidarity on the streets and avenues of the city. The environment is tense and the government tries to calm an already combustible situation by creating a Dialogue Commission, indicating that there will be no police intervention until the report of this Committee. On the 25th of November, about 500 people rally around the Chateigne together with 40 tractors, which come to surround the place protecting them from probable police or military intervention. Some people declare themselves inhabitants of the place, forcing the judicial authorities to open new warrants of expulsion from this camp. At the same time, CedPA organizes a gathering in Nantes and some protesters tie themselves with padlocks to the railings of the prefecture. The Edis system, CedPa Collective doubt the pertinence of the airport (it’s a name that means ' No Compromise'), and is a congregation of several diverse local mayors, especially city hall presidents and law making ecologists opposed to the project, spokespersons who are virulent and incisive, and then there’s Françoise Verchère. (The last name obviously said in exasperation. She was co-president of Cedpa and former mayor-ess of nearby Bourguenais who got really pissed off with the increasingly radical Zadistas who basically won the fight denouncing them at every turn - TN).
PRESENT AND FUTURE LINKED
On day 26 there are clashes in Far Ouest and three Zadistas are caught behind a barricade by guards disguised as Zadistas. The police control the major strategic intersections and begin something like a permanent military occupation. But the Zadistas do changed turns as surveillance officers carrying the materials of construction by footpaths and fields. Pre-built cabins (DIY-kit houses) are transported and the parts assembled on the spot, and contributing to that are students from Nantes Faculty of Architecture. One of these wooden cabins was even transported from Central Macifo, about 400 km away for a team who then installed it. The next day was marked by successive destruction of barricades, which quickly rise up again. On day 28, a comrade is sentenced to ten months in prison, five months of preventive, and two other people are sentenced to preventive prison sentences. The repression reaches higher levels and the state has lost control of the ZAD and three months later, still haven't managed to re-conquer the territory. The November 30th Decree prohibits Nantes city transport to carry to the ZAD, fuel, toxic and inflammable material, fireworks and materials of civil construction. This decision demonstrates the extent to which the state feels threatened by a handful of people, heterogeneously organized and experimental. It proves that it's not just confined to Notre-Dame-des-Landes: in Toulouse, the Municipal Chamber is occupied in support of the occupants of the ZAD.
They mix the veneer of hot coffee with cold mouths breathing out something like the humidity of the jungle. Between and among the crops of diverse plots, there are constructed or repaired those cabins housing cars and tractors, and during the first two days of December barricades are being erected. And at the weekend there's a picnic in Chateigne. On December 8th, 5,000 people contest in Nantes under the banner: A HUGE USELESS RUIN. In Nice, there commences a march that will traverse the country until arriving at Notre Dame des Landes (more than a thousand kilometres away). On day 11, the ZAD occupied another terrain where there is a big barrage, and the construction of a greenhouse is started. The Tribunal de Grande instantly authorizes the cabins of Le Chateigne be destroyed. Between the 15th and 16th there is a meeting of support committees - going on a hundred - that have sprung up throughout France over the last few weeks. Torches in hand, the ride ends in serious clashes with the police, leaving one person seriously injured.
Above: Airport - A Useless Ruin
The clashes extend on the 17th, at the intersection of Rohanne Forest mill. It’s been three weeks of patrols and inspections by the guards. On the same week, a finance project funded by the VINCI Group was occupied in Rennes and an anti-airport militant was sentenced to two months in prison, and two other people were indicted and jailed for a year. In Paris, Greenpeace puts up a giant banner on the Louvre Pyramid with these words: NOTRE DAME DES LANDES AIRPORT HAS ITS PLACE IN THE MUSEUM.
The 21st of December and there’s the first meeting with the «dialogue commission» promised by the PS Government of Francois Hollande, though most organizations boycott it. Six days later, an appeal is circulated in defence of Secherie fifths farmagainst the eviction. On day 29, there’s a concentration of 200 people in front of Carquefou prison (Nantes) so close to the walls they could be heard by the prisoners. They make a lot of fuss and launch fireworks. On the way back, and to end the day well, there’s a transport auto-reduction action meaning cut price fares for everybody involved!
THE COLD AND A WAR
NOTHING STOPS THEM
January 2013. It’s cold and the war’s ongoing. The owners of agricultural lands are harassed and intimidated to sell up, along with the houses they inhabit. Bel-Air fifths farm ends up being bought, but is immediately squatted. The police show up to evict the occupants of a place that has been special to the Zadistas launching tear gas grenades, but then saunter away without breaking the ring of sentries and the house is retaken soon after. Then, two days later, it’s the FestiZAD, to which more than 20,000 people flock, celebrating and dancing happily in the mud during a whole weekend of food and drink, discussions and concerts.
On 27th January, the Bellevue farm is occupied after having been sold to AGO by the farm owner. Quickly access barriers are put up preventing the destruction of the House, and several tractors arrive, helping protect it and cattle are placed in front of other anti police obstacles. On the same day there is a demonstration in Bellevue denouncing the road blocks put in place by the guards stimulating the creative installation of traps and barricades along the roads that cross the ZAD. Then there’s the start of one more week of activities in Chateigne, organized by the inhabitants who resist. Regularly now, committees or collective support spring up from elsewhere, some from far away, causing the ZAD to upgrade support and strengthen ties. The guards continue to persecute people circulating in the area, take hikers by surprise, attack the barricades and introduces ‘the huts’.
In this tense atmosphere, the solidarity march coming from Nice arrives on the 10th of February. The group of farmers associated with COPAIN 44 together with occupants of Bellevue organize defence and exploration of the fifths farm. Through a spirit of resistance, amidst rain and coughing fits, there's still space for a lively ZAD Carnival. The party ends in a fight with the guards, yet again at the intersection of Rohanne Forest mill, but the Zadistas don’t not let themselves be panicked, seeing this as the everyday life of the fight. On the 10th of March they sabotage an installation which was intended to divert the electrical line for construction beams along the road.
Between March and April the state counter attacks…..In Saint-Nazaire the process of tinnycats- (chats-tigneux), is declared with the expansion of this camp to the occupants of the Chateigne, the judicial process regarding the Bellevue farm concludes that this should be the subject of camp expansion and the « Dialogue Committee» re the airport project, advocate further studies before advancing with ‘the works’. The inhabitants of Bellevue call for resistance, and confrontations with the guards and police continue.
SOW YOUR OWN ZAD
A growing demonstration entitled Sème Ta ZAD (Sow Your Own ZAD) is developed in a friendly spirit replete with good humour, but the guards return to the Saulce Cross intersection, during a weekend celebrating a solar eclipse, causing new confrontations. The Zadistas take advantage of the time and thankful for the police retreat, are able to build and grow even more stuff. The wild constructions (disobedient architectural fantasies) continue, some breathtaking and stunning. Land sites are cleared replaced by numerous flourishing vegetable gardens. Tree plantations spring up resettled with goats, sheep and cows. A cheese dairy is rigged-up, as well as a house containing a bakery oven plus a mechanics workshop. A weekly market is organised with free giveaways. After a sojourn of 146 days counted, the forces of military control – of imperial disorder - end up abandoning the crossings. But the Zadistas cannot chill axe or simply relax for a moment. A human chain of 25 km embraces the zone with about 40,000 people surrounding the ZAD. Among all these energies and persistent animosities things are combustible. Small gestures between people determine the indispensible bonds between the various actions hindering the airport and its world. Several people can prevent new excavators but the prefecture of Epine city decides to close once and for all the departmental road 281, the so called Route des Chicanes (Road of Scams), to the barricades with screws on one side and those who fight back on the other. The Zadistas are few, but are able to intervene in time, and The Road reopens c/o their own hands during at the end of the week
In August, there’s the traditional ACIPA festival numbering the usual 40, 000 people. You can see from afar many multi-coloured kites like flying parrots set against the heavens. The year has passed and the capitalists haven’t been able to expel the ZAD. But in December the works are again permitted with the Prime Minister, Manuel Vails (PS), stressing the desire to expel the zadistas as soon as possible.
On the 22nd of February 2014, a demonstration in Nantes is joined by 50,000 people and 520 tractors, and the most important since the beginning of the struggle. The city centre is closed by the police, prohibiting all circulation in a city where demonstrations are always lively and provocative. At the end of a day of serious clashes, some tension between ‘reasonable’ opponents and more radical Zadistas is created, but the movement doesn't divide reaffirming its cohesion around different forms of struggle and there is a unity in diversity. The Government returns to postpone resumption of ‘the works’ maintaining its posture although its media activity is oriented around going on the 'offensive'.
On the 14th of April and the Tertre farmhouse is busy. The police are all mobilized to evict the rejected occupants. On October 25th, a young protester, Remi Fraisse is killed by police in clashes in another ZAD, which aimed to prevent the construction of a dam in the damp, humid zone of Testet in southern France, with the result there’s a wave of demonstrations all over the country, which are savagely repressed. The Zadistas of Notre Dame participated in this fight. The police use anti-terrorist laws to ban the demonstrations and impose compulsory stay-at-home notices restricting the protesters 'potential', but for the most part these prohibitions are defied.
In 2015 the Zadistas continue to 'take root'. In the fall, the Government re-launches the offensive. Procedures are again accelerated to expand this Zadista camp including those peasants who resist. On 22nd September, the ‘expropriating’ judge is prevented from accessing the ZAD despite the accompanying numerous police.
On October 10th, and Noe Green is occupied, where the Zadistas install a conservatory. On November 21st a cortege of tractors and bicycles - part of Notre-Dame-des-Landes - head towards Paris, where there’s to be held the Conference of Climate Charlatans (COP 21). Prohibited from entering the capital, the protesters then head to Versailles, camping in front of the castle, and taking advantage of the occasion, pay tribute to the Communards of 1871 where the government of that time had flamboyantly fled to exterminating everything en route by means of Fire and brimstone. Finally in 2015 there are 60 places to live in the ZAD. And hundreds of acres are cultivated stolen from the Vinci multinational conquistadores.
On the 9th of January 2016, responding to VINCI, which continues to require the rapid expulsion of this camp of Zadistas, thousands of protesters are occupying the Nantes ring road and the Chevire bridge, the principal connecting exit between the two banks of the River Loire. It is supported throughout the country by other demonstrations. Shock police dislodge them violently in the middle of the night.
On January 12th, 160 tractors create road blocks and barrages in various Department localities. Participants in a 'snail' operation, they are challenged by the police on the Nantes ring road and vehicles are seized.
On the 15th of January, thousands of demonstrators congregate in Rennes, the main northern city of Nantes right at the heart of Brittany’s history. On January 25th, the «Judge» (the Beak) gives two months to peasants and Zadistas to leave the ZAD. Replicating this summons, on January 27th there’s a demonstration that mobilizes 60,000 people on the expressway between Nantes and Vannes.
On the 8th of October 2016, a great popular mobilization of around 40,000 people gathers again, there’s staff on hand and fists raised, screaming « HERE, WE’RE GOING TO BE HERE» around the area where two hangars are stationed. At each crossroads can be seen preparations for properly planned barricades. During several weekends a ZAD defensive formation is organised. What irritates even more local representatives is seeing countless people come and go, forcing them to forego a possible expansion of this camp. In Parliament, there’s talk of a training camp under the open sky.
TO BE UNGOVERNABLE
The winter festival as the schedule promised by the Government to expel the ZAD expires. In brief, that crook, name of Francois Hollande, (Socialist party PM –TN) who doesn’t keep the promises made to suckers who voted for him leaves the Chair for new elections. During the campaign no fuss is made about the ZAD; the Zadistas and their friends can breathe. And there’s time to oppose empty policies, give space to your full and vivacious self, becoming even more ungovernable. Several meetings take place around ZAD, practical workshops to prepare the wood heating, with a good end-of-week punch-up combating a police chase. Around the same time, demonstrations develop everywhere in solidarity with Theo, a young black guy raped by three policemen in Aulnay-sous-Bois, outside Paris. The Zadistas eventually go to the capital to join the March for Justice and Anti-Racist Dignity.
Also by then, in the middle of the election campaign, the movement against the airport actively participates in a demonstration against a National Front rally: baring the way to buses as they jaywalk everywhere, appearing hooded in the middle of the road scaring NF party members and shouting anti-fascist slogans. By that time, Zadista groups in France make moves to support migrants treated like shit by the «authorities» and mistreated by the police, creating a travelling canteen to support striking mail postal workers in the Nantes region. The delirium and excitement around the election means Zadistas could create and inaugurate a viewing point that looks like a lighthouse plus a library at La Rolandiere fifth farm, in addition to a cabin for first-aid kits, a carpentry shop, a brewery, and a music recording studio where several documentaries widely disseminated on the Internet, are rotated. Arise then new habités but only after the roof is completed!
Above: The Airport Lighthouse
Several trade union secretaries join the festivities to fight against the airport along with the entire movement and are invited to the May 1st parade in Nantes. The new government, directed by Macron, announce during the summer vacation a prescription of the Labour Law in an XXL version. The Government appoints three mediators to find a solution for Notre- Dame-des-Landes, considering the possibility of abandoning the project by merely increasing the already existing airport.
The civil governor accuses the Zadistas of being a radical faction. Thus targeted they respond announcing that have many weapons: rhythmical changes, books, pamphlets, newspapers, pirate radios, hoes and rakes, and sometimes rocks and pebbles. What the Zadistas want is a rich life, not a life of rich people. In the pretty West Trailer, parked right behind the Bellevue, everyone can sample ZAD products on a shared table: simply book in advance or, go to it on a night when there’s a service, or call the Black Plough Kitchen, a project created in the ZAD.
20,000 people come back together for the summer meeting embarking upon an important construction – AmbaZADA – an intergalactic hut for increasing the fighting. A presentation tour of the AmbaZADA is prepared, which starts in Remouleur, a self-managed site in the town of Bagnolet, a suburb of Paris.
In December 2016 a TV commentator says a final decision is to be taken on January 18th not forgetting the Rapida Report which points out that the Zadistas are extremist dangerous people, even armed to the teeth militarily with PETANQUE balls in which are concealed glue nails and razor blades, even equipped with firearms and land rockets, and which can take on a military superior in number. With munitions and strategy, you can recover this area, which is outside the rule of law. The Zadistas respond with humour by editing a pamphlet Tapis dans le hocage, ('Hiding in the Woods') and a short video in which a masked Zadista arises from a field saying “I throw pebbles” which are packages of a frozen edible plant with the terrible name of Roquette (a palm).
On the 17th January 2018, Macron's Government announces the abandonment of the project of Notre Dame des Landes airport, but confirms their desire to expel the Zadistas, leaving them, however, a deadline until the end of the winter truce on 30th of March. We arrive at a new epoch.
TOWARDS OTHER FORMS OF LIVING
An abject world of interest rates, bankers, money changers and through the mesh of social pluralism and the democratic representation of companies and increasingly Uber-ized parliaments, already people experience other forms of life, where the affinities are heterogeneous, espousing horizontal direct decision making; breaking the prejudices of Western ultra-leftism, so often nauseating and traditional, distributed in 1001 doctrines that have proliferated throughout a half century differentiating ideologically with each other, reduced to individual entrepreneurship via the existential detachment of the Marxist Militant Pro. When not working, ZAD grows, cultivates the land, the relationships and the liberated imagination; the fruit of the activity stems from the need or the imagination regarding the above assessment.
All this to be done. Build huts and make a habitat report but with roots. Dig caves yourself. Climb the trees to meet and create a new intimacy - «the trees are our friends and allies» - says Allen Ginsberg. Songscan be made up. Re-invent relations, mutual respect, mutual assistance, experience - if the organization and the moderation of conflicts share the place. Face the real poetry. The different sensibilities that cross every day create almost scientific frissons sensitive and continuous in that each choice determines the future present. In each DIY-Kit House there will be various sensibilities. In each practice is present the possibility that this can be changed, even if concluded, yet it’s still a provisional conclusion always one that isn’t rigid.
Until the Zadistas came along, gargling could be like quaffing icy cold water, where the world is colder and comfort zones offer little comfort. Through many calamitous, disgraceful years the robots have become our sans-papiers, and looking for work is a form of employment, where each citizen becomes a company and each transaction becomes traceable in the world of meta- information for a police-like client, one day we can say to our descendants the ZAD existed at least and wasn’t pre-packed everywhere. Call us! The condemned from all over the world and the Earth proves the bread and canisters are angry!
(2) The VINCI multinational, which dates back to 1899, is a financialised construction group and a French concessional management body. It employs more than 183,000 people and in 2016, operated in 116 projects. It is also the largest construction company in the world by business volume (worth 39,043 million Euros in 2014).
(3) Operation Cesar», starting on the morning of 16th October 2012 to evacuate the occupied sites on ZAD of Notre Dame des Landes, was one of the largest police operations carried out in the interior, mobilizing 2200 members of paramilitary units from all over the country and under the direct supervision of the Ministry of the Interior.
(4) Of the 967,457 registered voters, 493,541 voted (51.08%). Voted ' yes ' 268,977 (55.17%) and 218,534 (44.83%) voted ' no '.
(5) 'Jean de Legge and Roger Le Guen, 'Degage! On amenage, Le Cercle d'Or, Les Sables d'olonne, 1976.
(6) Association Citoyenne Intercommunale des Populations concernees par le projet d ' aeroport de Notre Dame des Landes.
(7)The existence of a group of automedia, during large events, from day to day, has several objectives. Get people in struggle to produce their own information without falling into classic media dependence, which are often the property of private capitalists. Do people get free of stereotypes conveyed by journalists who decide they own things as they happen? Avoid the trap of spokespersons, often imposed by the format of major media interviews, and diversify communication. Multiply information holders and reflection (texts, videos, pictures, sound, posters, websites). Learn to collectively manage reports, get away from that media syndrome which makes you apprehensive. Do surveys with the intention of finding what they are saying in the media and, if necessary, react.
Solidarity with Notre-Dame-des-Landes (from Etcetera mag, Barcelona)
Monday, April 23, 2018, by Raoul Vaneigem
What is happening in Notre-Dame-des-Landes illustrates a conflict that concerns the whole world. It brings together, on the one hand, the financial powers determined to transform into commodities the resources of living and nature and, on the other hand, the will to live which animates millions of beings whose existence is precarious made more and more so by the totalitarianism of profit. Where the state and the multinationals that sponsored it had vowed to impose their destructive nonsense, in defiance of the people and their environment, they encountered a resistance whose stubbornness, in the case of Notre-Dame-des- Landes, had the power to stop this operation. The resistance has not only demonstrated that the state, "the coldest of cold monsters", was not invincible - and the same goes for the technocrat who representing this point of view believes in it with the stiffness of a corpse.
A society experiencing the riches of solidarity, imagination, creativity, re-natured agriculture, a society in the process of self-sufficiency, which built a bakery, a brewery, a market gardening centre, a sheepfold, and a cheese factory. Who built above all the joy of taking in self-managed assembly decisions to improve the lot of each and everyone. It is an experiment; it is trial and error, along with mistakes and corrections. It is a place of life. What remains of human feeling in those who send cops and bulldozers to destroy it, to crush it?
What threat does the Free Land of Notre-Dame-des-Landes make hover over the State? None but for a few political wheeler dealers that turn the wheels of great fortunes. The real threat is that a truly human society weighs on the dominant society, eminently dominated by the dictatorship of money, greed, the cult of merchandise and voluntary servitude.
It is a bet on the world that is played out in Notre-Dame-des-Landes. Or else the snarling sadness of the resigned ones and their masters, so pitiful, will prevail by inertia; or the ever-renewing breath of our human aspirations will sweep away barbarity. Whatever the outcome, we know that the bias of life is always reborn from the ashes. Human consciousness is uncomfortable but never goes to sleep. We are determined to start all over again.
Barcelona, April 13, 2018,