NUIT DEBOUT, (UP ALL NIGHT) STRIKES .....FRANCE IN FLAMES
EMAILS FROM JACK DE MONTREUIL.....The latest first
Hi Dave (July 28th 2016),
As I told you in my last email, the social movement was near to falling asleep, but now, with all the recent sensationalist terrorist incidents, it has been further smothered by propaganda and fear. It's a horrific situation and it's getting worse, particularly after what happened in Nice. This city is the most right wing of all French cities, full of extreme right fascist groups, and even the mayor of Nice and associated members of Parliament are among the most extreme right wing of former President Sarkozy's acolytes.
There were the scenes on the "Promenade des Anglais" (where the truck attacked) with French citizens insulting and throwing away people just because they have Maghrebian origins – even if some of them have lost a son, a mother or someone dear in the attack, but these white bastards did not care! (More than half of the victims were not French, and a lot were Muslim). And now it's everywhere in France (and in Germany as well), its like if what happened in Nice has 'liberated' racist speeches and attitudes.
A few weeks before Nice, the DGSI chief declared to the media that his special services were very worried about a risk of "civil war" coming soon in France, between Muslims and extreme right wing groups who could also have a seductive influence on ordinary citizens. I'm afraid it's arriving...
I just hope the strikes and demonstrations already announced for September will break this craziness, but as for sure there will be new attacks, I'm afraid about what will follow...
Photo above: Place de Republique, Paris, on the night of 15th of July, 2016. Bastille Night after the aftermath of the Nice killings. "Dream a world the better to construct one"
Above photo: Marseille: POVERTY KILLS MORE THAN TERRORISM
Hi Dave, (July 15th, 2016)
As we now we are in the summer holidays everything has slowed down, but there are still actions here and there, like attacks against the Socialist party: a lot of its locals have been vandalized and their meetings are very often, if not always, disturbed by demonstrators. They have even been obliged to cancel their "Summer University" in Nantes because they were frightened of attacks by the Zadists of Notre-Dame-des-Landes (the struggle against the airport project) and the anti-Loi Travail – and they have every reason to be scared! And each time a minister goes somewhere, there is a good 'reception committee'.
The other day near the Eiffel Tower, during the Euro finals the disturbances were both the 'usual' hooligans together with people who were also on the demonstrations. Moreover, during the previous demonstrations there were already quite a lot of hooligans, more or less 'politicized', and some slogans came from them (like "Paris is magic!" or things against the cops, together with slogans like "Foot ta cagoule" - hoody football - a play with words suggesting say, kicking a cop's head about).
So it will be surely more or less quiet during the summer though a demonstration has already been announced for the 15th of September, and others will follow (by then the workers will have already 'tasted' some real consequences of the new Law, so it's possible the movement may become more massive).
Merde, just heard about the Nice atrocities. Yes, terrible, it means also the State of Emergency will be again 'one more time' extended; as normally it should have ended on the 26th of July. But now... and you can be sure they will invent - I don't know what - a new repressive law, new security measures...
Photo above: hoody football
END OF EURO CUP 2016.
THE PEOPLE / A SCREEN / THE POLICE / VIOLENCE: FRANCE IN ONE IMAGE.
The above comment (and photo) of the base of the Eiffel Tower from the air on the night of the Euro cup final, 10th June 2016: In the distance somewhat distanced from the giant TV screen, most likely Black Bloc – or something similar – are confronting police and tear gas......
Plus a fascinating aside.......
Two days previously – 8th June 2016 - during the interval of Germany versus France 2016 Euro semi finals, a short, contemporary montage – made in the UK - video was shown [probably influenced by Nuit Debout?] of the dramatic match in Seville between Germany and France during the 1982 world cup. The video was immediately arresting because it begins with that wonderful quote from Breton's Nadja, "Beauty will be convulsive or will not be at all". WHAT DA FUK AM I SEEING!!!! only then to be followed by Baudelaire, "My heart is lost, the beasts have eaten it', other quotations appearing whenever a dramatic incident occurs during this most memorable of footie games: "All happiness depends on courage and work" (Balzac), "Tears are the silent language of grief" (Voltaire). And finally when France crashes out of the world cup after a penalty shoot out, Rimbaud's great lines taken from the opening lines of A Season in Hell, "One evening I sat beauty on my knees and I found her bitter - I reviled her". Significantly the vid's editors omit the next kick in the shins, the send-off of all send-off lines, a red card held up to capitalism: "Oh witches, Oh misery, Oh hatred , it was to you my treasure was entrusted", the latter obviously a step too far for even 'daring' BBC modernisers .
Shit, this is revolutionary recuperation in the classic sense of the term beaming into homes, bars and what-have-you of millions worldwide. It's as if "the beautiful game" having gone really tawdry needed to be slyly reminded of much more subversive definitions of beauty nonetheless significantly omitting Lautreamont's many, many comparisons "as beautiful as [for brevity's sake] an alcoholics shaking hand". And there the media provocations stop short: no mention of situationists or this RAP web though no doubt the film's 'creatives' will be somewhat familiar with both in a kind of distancing way.
Finally, nothing like this has even remotely been screened on prime time UK TV during a sports tournament and indicative of just how much the ground is upheaving beneath our feet, the unexpected becoming the order of the day as the political class disintegrates before our eyes in a manner perhaps not seen since the 1640s. The mind boggles! Were Lineker, Shearer, Rio Ferdinand (guided by a more clued-in Thierry Henry) about to engage on some really playful tactics inciting subversive strategies...... Or is this just the loaded dice of yet another massive con trick whereby "no one escapes" (and guess who said that???)
Above photo: A merry bordello is possible!
Hi Dave, (22nd June 2016)
Sorry, I've been long in writing but I have been very busy and on top of that I had a few Internet problems which have now been sorted. I will write you a longer thing soon but before that a short resume.
Strikes are down in all sectors except at the garbage incinerators centres (this make their strikes very visible in different cities as the garbage trucks can't be emptied – for example it was like that in Paris at the beginning of the Euro Cup tournament, so that's a scandal: a dirty Paris for tourists!) though it was also true of other places. Some centres have been on strike for weeks which means the problem of money has been hard for many (alleviated somewhat by a crowdfunding campaign on the Internet which already has more than 500, 000 Euros in the till...).
Tomorrow, (June 23rd) there is a new demonstration, though there will also be strikes, but only one-day strikes... Since the last demonstration on the 14th of June, the government has been threatening to prohibit the next one because the 14th of June was... crazy! I've never seen that in Paris and older people say you must go back to 1968 to see such scenes! I will tell you more and send you links with details but it was incredible: something like 10, 000 people from all ages, sex and occupations fighting police, breaking all shop windows and things like that (obviously not all the 10, 000 were doing this though all were practically been friendly and helping those who were into the wrecking). Most of them were workers and then "casseurs" (wreckers), but between these two 'segments' everyone was represented, from young schoolboys and girls to old retired dockers. (I saw a 79 old year docker from Le Havre among a bunch of 100 people attacking a police bus to free one of their arrested comrades! Then people were drinking whisky in all the bars around the area (a very 'expansive' area because a bit 'dodgy'), and a lot were "forgetting" to pay the bill).
Finally, this morning, the prefecture (under government orders) has prohibited tomorrow's demonstration, but, because there was an immediate big reaction throughout the whole left, unions, "civil society" and so on (even among some right wing politicians - just to piss-off the PS), they went back to discuss the matter more and, few hours later, the prefecture accepted a demo on the condition it would be through a very short restricted area – and unions have accepted this compromise.
The government has been obliged to do this because the scandal would have been enormous: for in doing so, a socialist party would have been the first since De Gaulle to prohibit a union demonstration! Finally they didn't dare take the risk; presidential elections are next year and already there is a big campaign through the left to say, "I will never vote PS again"... It's working more and more among the best PS electorate (teachers, social workers, etc...), so they are afraid. Truth is it would have been suicide to do it (even if they're maybe already dead!).
So, let see what will happen tomorrow; for sure it will be tense, but how tense?
To be continued...
All the best,
PS: some links...
June 17th 2016: A well advertised Casseroles Debout eat-in against the Labour Law took place in more than 500 cities and towns in France. See below......
The above first photo is surely based on the avant-garde Constructivist, Concert of Factory Sirens and Steam Whistles from the early years of the Russian Revolution and since endlessly reproduced (second photo) via a yellow, jaundiced-suffused, Icteric magazine in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1967.....
Above photo, 15th June Paris: "I Think Therefore I Smash Things Up"
Below: Finally, it seems a more relevant critique of art is developing.....
Above,14th June, 2016: The big demo: An Art & Windows hip capitalism joint all smashed up
Above,14th June, 2016: An attack on the Curtier Foundation for Contemporary Art - full of allusion and semi-pun. (Is DEBORD playing on DEBOUT? Deborder also means overflow something like "let's drown it" though also alluding to Guy Debord as well as the June floods in Paris.: "Drown it with Debord") And surely colorrevolution (see elsewhere in the following photos) is a clever, subtle play on the NATO inspired recuperated radicalism of the Orange [Colour] Revolution in the Ukraine 2004-5. Isn't the present day aggressive practical colour intervention by more genuine French radicals therefore the beginning of a healthy process of de-recuperation???
But is the following so enlightening? On the 14th of June during the huge demonstration the Necker children's hospital in Paris was also vandalised as 15 big plate glass windows were smashed and graffiti sprayed on the windows including the old situationist classic, "Never Work". For sure it caused a stir but to what ends? A scandal yes, but is there any enlightenment here?
In the meantime more photos: (16th June 2016)
Above Photo: WHAT DO I THINK OF EURO 2016 IN FRANCE?
Above Photo: EURO 2016 IN SAINT-DENIS. THE CUP IS FULL.
RENT RISES / EVICTIONS / SOCIAL CLEANSING / VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN / OCCUPATION BY THE POLICE AND ARMY
THE EURO IS ON OUR BACKS. ORGANISE RESISTANCE
Crises, Unemployment, Poverty Wages, PM Manuel Valls, Police Violence. Labour Law, Relocations Elsewhere, Tax Credits
FORGET ALL YOUR PETTY PROBLEMS
THANKS TO THE CIRCUS
Photo Above: THE DEVIL WEARS TAFTA (TTIP) Photo Above: NEOLIBERALISM EATS YOUR DEAD
Photo Above: The insurrection is now Photo Above: Labour Law gun (LE 49.3) pointed at the peoples' temple
Above:The palaces burn and suddenly...EVEYTHING BELONGS TO US! A good old-fashioned read amidst the smashed glass of a bus shelter
RIOT REFORMS THECROWD
More Photos: (8th June 2016)
Above Annecy: Cops pour free soup down the drain...... Above: French floods. The government has taken measures to deal with them.
The cops bash and tear gas the swollen rivers ............................
Above Poitiers: The Ministry of Labour "that makes us so bitter" as doors, etc. are spattered with a collective tachiste intervention. The group was called "Colourrevolution" (no doubt artists but they might be moving beyond art) playing on the gap betwen Action Painting and practical subversion.
More Photos: (7th June 2016)
Above Montpellier: (BLOCK EVERYTHING) Tram lines blocked with rubbish. Above: PLEASE THE PEOPLE Bread & Circuses EURO 2016 No to LOI TRAVAIL
Above: JOBS HAVE DIED. LONG LIVE A SALARY FOR LIFE Above: "Under the pavement, a kitchen garden" (Play on '68. "Under the pavement the beach" )
Hi Dave, (5th June, 2016)
One short email before a longer one next week... Yesterday was a good example of the diversity of what's happening in France over the last 3 months: at least 3 different demonstrations were organized, and that was only in Paris! One was called by "Banlieue debout" (banlieue means suburbs), a group who want to 'export' Nuit debout to the "popular areas" (the estates in the Parisian suburbs or, for that matter any other French city). They have already tried this tactic in different places more or less successfully, attracting dozens or even hundreds of people who rarely gather and speak together. This Saturday, the demonstration started from the Place de République crossing to the east of Paris joining up first with the housing complex where the Lamine family live, and where a young French son of immigrants was killed by police in 2012. Since that date the family, friends and people from the area got together to struggle for "justice". After a moment of exchanges between them and us (speaking about a necessary "convergence des luttes" –convergence of struggles), we walked a bit further to the front of a foyer where immigrant workers are struggling against the management of a housing block. Yet again there were discussions between the people of Nuit debout and the immigrants, and then we all shared a meal together.
Another demonstration was organized by antifascist groups to remember a guy named Clément Méric, killed by skinheads in Paris few years ago. There also were lots of Nuit debout people, or others involved in the movement against the Loi Travail and even though it was taking place at the same time as the other demo, there were a few thousand people on each). Police was there in force and fights soon erupted ... Police then succeeded in trapping 90 demonstrators in a narrow street, arresting all of them, finally detaining 4 who will go to court.
There was also another demonstration organized by the anti-species-ists (they are beginning to have more and more importance in France, like vegans and so on... They are usually quite annoying).
At the same time, on the Place de République, thousands of other people were speaking in assemblies, listening to Orchestre debout (again magnificent), playing games (there is a special space for children with toys and games), drinking and dancing (the place is very big, enough to have different events on one side or another)...
And of course during all this time, strikes are still on-going. Some have stopped, others just beginning, so it's not easy to have a real overview of the whole. The government is trying to blackmail the strikers, taking the pretext of last week's floods to say to the strikers they are not acting in solidarity with the country during these dramatic hours... It doesn't seem to work...
though I will tell you more later in the week...
All the best,
Above: Elderly '68ers HANG-ON IN THERE! Above: Striking railway workers at Gare St Lazaire, Paris
Above: Sita/Suez (French waste multinationals) "When garbage workers Above: "THOSE WHO DON'T MOVE DON'T FEEL THEIR CHAINS"
go on strike the purveyors of filth are indignant" (Surrealist J.Prevert) Rosa Luxembourg - now living in Toulouse........
June 4th (More Photos)
Above Bordeaux: INSURGENT YOUTH. Nothing to lose Above Marseille: Ecology Debout......
EVERYTHING TO GAIN.......
Above Metro: Wilkommen / Bonjour / Buenos dias / Hello Above: TRADE UNIONISM IS THE HEAVY POLICING OF INSURGENTS
IT'S THE STRIKE (underneath someone has added: AND YER MUM)
Above Aix- Marseille Nuit Debout: Great comment on UBI (Universal Basic Income). Retirement at 25 / Basic wage 10,00 Euros per week /
(So far, Nuit Debout - among all the welcome general ferment - has been short on a critique of culture. One slogan has said: "Artists, you shits, get political" which more accurately should have said "get a relevant critique of political economy". Instead we also get "A Louvre for all in an Open Air Museum" which really doesn't go as far as late 1950s psychogeography. Beyond this is an urgent need for a critique of mass tourism / entertainment, especially sport and endless pseudo-festival as the world becomes an endless spectator's art gallery. Perhaps this sharpening is merely days away...?)
Hi Dave, (June 1st 2016)
Today we have learnt there's been a new bout of sabotage from some CGT electricity workers belonging to ENGIS (the new name for ERDF, a subsidiary company of EDF, the National State Electricity Company), who have managed to 'fix' a cheaper peak hours tariff all day for particular consumers in their area. We'll see for how long they can continue doing this. Already, a few weeks ago, in the centre of France (Haute-Loire), other CGT Energy workers cut telephone cables (with clamps), paralyzing all fixed telephone and internet lines in the area... And, most surprisingly the action was claimed by the local section of CGT Energy! They justified their actions by saying they were not listened to and in despair.
The CGT chiefs are a bit worried about such things, they can't defend them but, as they don't want to lose their worker base, they don't say anything or, if questioned by journalists, they make vague and evasive answers... The cadres of the CGT are in a difficult position, caught between their rank and file who are pushing hard and the government who don't want to give in. The other day, Valls (Prime Minister) phoned Martinez (the CGT big union chief) and on the following day all newspapers (though mainly the rightwing media) began to say the CGT was ready to negotiate. Even Martinez, after this phone call, was no longer calling for the complete withdrawal of Loi Travail, merely speaking about withdrawing some of its points... Immediately the rank and file protested: they won't accept any retreat, and to show their determination, in lots of places strikers blocked roads, railway tracks, ports, bridges, airports...
And finally, tomorrow, there is another demonstration organized by Sud-Rail (Railways), Sud-Education and called by Nuit Debout plus the "General Assembly for the Convergence of Struggles". Let see how many people will be there and if some other unions turn up. There will be railway workers and teachers on strike, but also thousands of youngsters, the precariat and the unemployed and so on, who are all a big part of the "frontline".
To add to the whole picture, it's raining cats and dogs and Departments (Districts) around Paris are flooded out: another job in over plus for the police! And as in Paris the wharfs on the Seine, the roads and streets near the river are overflowing with flood water, which means big traffic jams, added to which the transport strike is disrupting traffic circulation further, as thousands of petrol stations are empty or nearly empty... so you can imagine the mess! And it's only the beginning.
To be continued...
Hi Dave, (May 31st 2016)
The last demonstration (May 27th, last Saturday) was much more numerous than the previous one (which was already bigger than the one before that). About 30,000 people were there, and those fronting the demonstration had increased significantly meaning around 10,000 people were walking outside the control of union banners... It was that simple, I've never seen so many people in such a situation.
The main reason for this was that on this day there were lots of strikes, so a lot of strikers were there (some with the unions, some outside). But it's also important to say that this demonstration (along with all the previous ones over the last three months) have not been as massive as they were in 1995, 2006 and 2010 (i.e. the last big social movements in France), when millions of people were demonstrating all around France (with hundreds of thousands on the streets of Paris).
Of course, this is worrisome, because even if there is a lot of quality, even if we don't need quantity for itself alone, we do need a much larger socialization of the strikes and other kinds of struggle. I think that one of the reasons is the numbers game, 38 Degrees society: at the beginning of March, within merely a few days, more than 1 million people had signed an on-line Internet petition against the Loi Travail... So only on one day out of 8 days of demonstrations have more than 1 million people gathered on the streets, on other days, much less... I actually think that more and more people have become lazy and passive and satisfy themselves with a simple click on the computer (or make comments on the blogs). And this is, of course, a big problem: as all the polls also give a large majority against the law, but where are they all?
The present harshness of life plays its part too. A lot of workers can't go on strike, in some cases because they'd be fired if they did so; in others because they are afraid, or - most of the time - they simply desperately need the money...
That's why it's often the railway workers, electricity workers, teachers and so on, who remain most of the time as the main body of strikers because it's easier in the public sector where unions are stronger and workers not as isolated as elsewhere.
But also, where are all the unemployed (millions!), they have all the time in the world to demonstrate! However, misery keeps a lot of people at home, in front of the TV, comforted by bottles of bad wine (eventually ending up in hospital). We are restarting with very low morale.
Another reason why not so many people follow demonstrations is the violence: quite a lot of people say they are afraid of police violence, others of "casseurs"(hooligan wreckers), or a mixture of the two. What's true is that the police are actually very violent: they kick, beat and gas people, lobbing grenades... And there have been hundreds of injured among demonstrators, some hurt badly. Others have lost eyes and two are presently in a coma; dozens are in jail, and all this has a knock on effect...
And even if the violence of their side is generally much more symbolic (though, as previously stated not every time), I can obviously understand that people don't like violence and avoid situations where it's risky. So, because at all times there are fights involving scenes of destruction, some people become reluctant or frightened and don't turn up any more. I shall say also that sometimes the violence perpetrated by some of the demonstrators is derisory or stupid and counter-productive in a way. Moreover, the cops are so numerous, so well protected and armed, that they will always have the last word (or rather administer the last beating) on this level. Unfortunately some young guys are too much dreaming of what they see on TV ("Riot Porn") or are simply playing, till the day they discover it's not only a game, if for example they are seriously injured or jailed...
These days the State is more and more worried about the eventuality of a death, so police are more and more nervous, tired and violent, and deaths would make things a lot harder for a 'left' government to rule in the required manner.....
I must leave you now, so just a few words about present strikes: 6 out of 8 refineries are still on strike (but the cops have cleared picket lines, so some trucks are passing). Most nuclear plants are on strike (but in fact they're not that effective as the strikers have only reduced electricity production). And tonight railways are beginning an on-going and nominally indefinite strike (this has only been proposed today by the CGT, though other unions will follow later), the Metro is to follow on the 2nd of June. At the same time there are other small and local strikes in various sectors, but the government is beginning to play a divide and rule game, give something to one and something else to another, etc,... And as usual unions play their dirty games, so let's see how strong or weak the strikes will be this week...
The next demonstration has been called for the 14th of June, 2016 and it's the first time in three months there has been so much time between two demonstrations... Unions are afraid of this movement they don't control anymore, and so...? And the "movement" itself is not sufficiently autonomous and strong enough yet to call big demonstrations by itself: until now there have only been some wild break-outs from official demonstrations or, from Place de la République (Nuit Debout). However, some actions and occupations have been organized autonomously. The road is long...........
To be continued...
All the best,
Hi Dave, (May 23rd 2016 )
There have been so many things happening since my last mail that I'm only gonna send you few lines now and then some more later...
So, most important are the strikes: railways have had a big impact, but not as much as we expected because the unions disagree about how to conduct the strike. The CGT union is calling for two strike days per week, saying they will renew it every day later in June... Sud-Solidaires is calling for an everyday on-going strike. They are more radical (some sections on the Railways, Post Office, etc... – are incredible - truly radical - and during demonstrations they don't play the game the CGT does with the police. At one point they even clashed with them when, for example, the CGT tried to isolate so called "casseurs" (hooligans) and, in doing so, are helping the police. The other day, Sud PTT was conducting a demonstration against the State of Emergency. They had a big sound system with the speakers continually blaring out: "Tout le monde déteste la police"! ("The entire world detests police") Things like that... This wasn't like the usual union speakers - sad and without rage - they were truly angry and at the end of the demo, they had even lost their voices!
The most interesting and successful strike is at the refineries. Six out of eight are totally blocked, a lot of petrol stations are closed or with limited supply, where you can't buy more than 20 litres and it will get worse and worse day after day (and quickly). Some strikers, in the refineries but also at rail stations, and so on, are organizing public barbecues, fiestas and general assemblies, all melded together in order to extend the movement... Everywhere the base is pushing the union hierarchy ...
However; don't forget the question of terrorism. We are in a State of Emergency and the state can do what it wants, and in fact is doing so day and night. They are arresting militants or targeted demonstrators (they are so many videos during demonstrations, and also many cameras in the street, and cops are working on a lot on pictures, also taking fingerprints and DNA samples), sometimes even in the middle of the night.
The 18th of May saw a demonstration of policemen "against police hatred." There were 2000 participants in Paris, surrounded by 2000 mobile gendarmes and CRS in protective gear. The night before some people of Nuit debout had written on the pavement of Place de la République the names plus dates of birth and death of 300 people killed by police over the last 40 years: so, the cops gathered and stood on this very pavement! A counter demonstration was forbidden by the prefecture but a few hundred turned up anyway. Then these few hundred left the Place de la République to go on a "wild spree" and, during the event, a group of young people attacked and burned a police car with two cops in it. The day after five people were arrested, and four have been jailed and charged with attempted murder of a policeman... As you can imagine it's a clear signal by the state to stop violence during demonstrations and those incarcerated will probably stay a long, long time in jail before their trial (maybe 2or 3 years). In some ways they are like hostages because for the moment there's no real proof of their participation...
The last demonstration was incredible, there was more people up front than any time previously, maybe 10, 000 - or a bit less - than those following the union's orders! En route all banks, insurance offices, state offices... had their shop windows broken as the crowd applauded. Fights erupted at every street corner (because every corner had a bunch of CRS riot police blocking the streets and there were even more at the end of the demo). One of the slogans perpetually shouted out was "Ah ! Ah ! Ah ! Anticapitaliste... Ah !..."
To be continued...
All the best,
Hi Dave (Later on May 23rd)
I have a bit of time on hand so here I go again... Currently six out of eight oil refineries are on strike, three are completely blocked and the others are warning they are going to do the same within the next days. It already means there's a big mess re petrol distribution and the government has already sent the police into a few places to evict picket lines in order to insure a minimum of oil distribution (the truck drivers are also very much involved in this action as they are on strike as well).
I previously told you that on the railways, the CGT union was on strike only on Thursday and Friday; waiting for the 2nd of June so they can go on indefinite strike (the public transport service in Paris will do the same). Sud-Solidaires are pushing for indefinite strike as soon as possible but the CGT brakes are on, so the way strikes are conducted depends a lot on locality and the mood of local workers. Anyway, even the CGT is speaking out now for a general strike till Loi Travail is abandoned and the rank and file are really pushing declaring that the most radical will encourage others to act... But at the same time they are asking people to wait...
Truth is, they are stalling because the European Soccer Championship (to be staged in France) gets ever closer and 'the waiting' is in order to threaten the very existence of the tournament, but I'm not sure it's a good strategy. The government has promised not to give up, so it sends in the cops and uses the State of Emergency to do anything it wants. Why wait? There are also hidden internal union agendas that I don't know anything about (and some others we know of, like struggles between different tendencies in and among union chiefs. The current leader of the CGT is considered too "radical" by the government, which is maybe true in comparison with other unions or CGT leaders, but he isn't; above all they try to keep their domination over other unions and also in the plants. On another level, Philippe Martinez, the big chief of the CGT, at the end of each demonstration or whenever he talks to the media, spits on the "casseurs", (hooligans) declaring there are only 50 or 60 of them and are well known to the cops and that if police truly wanted to arrest them, they could do so... In short, the usual old time speechifying, except the "casseurs" are not so few: for if they were, police would have arrested all a long time ago! The truth is that in some situations there were thousands of people fighting police or applauding the smashed up banks and broken shop windows, etc. Martinez knows it, the government as well and they are both frightened of this collusion between "normal" demonstrators and so called "casseurs" (However, I would say there are maybe 50 or 60 "professional casseurs" – straight-jacketed militants who can also be very stupid, like any Leninist or straight guy – but in the most interesting situations, there aren't any differences between demonstrators; it's truly "tous ensemble" (altogether) thousands upon thousands...).
There have been some good texts produced, in French of course, so maybe some around you will know French well enough. I will send you a selection next time but now I must go...
PS: Here's a few links where you can see pictures of the CGT union's stewards armed and helmeted (FO -Force Ouvriere -is another of the big French unions, created at its origins with CIA funds in order to weaken the CGT (yes it's true!). But as it was anti-communist, some anarchists joined in and now it's a "normal" union, less political than CGT (which is still linked to the Communist party), but involved in the anti Loi Travail movement and the strikes (though to a lesser extent than the CGT).
Hi Dave, (May 16th, 2016)
Yesterday, on the Place de République, there was a huge crowd (between 4 and 5000) as it was "International Day". It was also the occasion of the third appearance of "Orchestre debout" and it was great (C/F the links at the end). Many different assemblies took place (with between 10 to 20,000 people participating) and everyone was interesting, at least regarding everything I heard. There was one about France and Africa, one about Palestine, others about the economy or the police, and the main one, as per usual, was about anything you wanted to say. Usually, the latter is always more or less interesting, depending who is there and so on, but what is particularly interesting is that the common minimum basis for discussion is always the critique of capitalism and pseudo-democracy. And yesterday it was really good because the interventions were very varied, from the old, to the immigrant, to the young artist, from the urban Paris "boho" to the most recent migrant, from tramps to retirees, from workers to the unemployed (a lot of them), plus people from the banlieus, (Danakil, a French reggae singer, organized a free concert on the Place de République, so a lot of banlieu inhabitants turned up ...). All in all, a very good mixture resulting in passionate debates.
For me, for the first time, the comparison with Mai '68 was not completely false. However from now on we will see if this comparison is accurate: as from tonight strikes are beginning in a lot of sectors (trains, metro, trucks, ports, refineries, electricity...) and some will be on-going. Tomorrow will see another demonstration against the Loi Travail, and the day after there will be a counter-manifestation to the police demo, and the day after that another demo against the "Loi"...
At the same time, government repression is worsening: using the State of Emergency (recently extended to the end of July), the State has deployed cops very early on this morning waking up 25 young people handing them a notification forbidding them to go on any further demonstration, or attending Place de République for Nuit Debout ! No one was charged, but they will be if they disobey. They are simply guilty as they have been seen participating in previous demonstrations which ended in fights. However, no one has been arrested for that because they haven't even be seen fighting or smashing things up......, they were simply hanging around...
To be continued,
PS: links to the concerts of Orchestre debout and to this last story...
Occupied French Cities, April 2016. Nuit Debout [Up All Night]: Some Wall Slogans as Brussels, Barcelona & Berlin begin to respond...........
“Free Beer, Society as Play, Love and Revolution”
“Show them we aren’t Wankers”
“The Conservative Bourgeois treat us like dogs. It is time to bite....”
“Expropriate Landlords: The first mistake is not to take the banks”
“Speak little. Speak Well”
“Who is ready to suppress money?”
“Shut Stock Exchanges” “For a world without money – one day you will pay”
"We are worth better than this”
“Youth in pain, Elders in misery: This is not the society we want”
“Youth are in the street, your law is gone”
“Reve Generale” [General Dream and play on “Greve Generale” – General Strike]. This wording derives from the post surrealist writer, Annie le Brun in her book, “Reality Overload”.
“The Eyes of the world are focussed on us”
Hi Dave, (May 15th 2016)
In Rennes (Little Brittany) on Friday (May 13th), early in the morning, hundreds of anti-riot cops evicted 3 dozen people occupying a big building which they'd renamed "La Maison du Peuple"... It has been occupied for over a week by people involved in the movement against "Loi Travail" and Nuit Debout. Later, on Friday night, a few hundred young people stormed banks, and a police station plus breaking many shop windows in the centre of Rennes. Police arrived quickly and dispersed them after fighting. Then the next day – Saturday - in Rennes there was again a demonstration against police violence. The previous day one student in Rennes lost an eye, and a lot of people in other towns have been seriously injured. The demonstration was forbidden by the prefecture, which asked the citizens "to stay at home today"! The town was then surrounded by police and army with cars and people searched before entering the town centre ... Even then, 700 succeeded in gathering though only for a short while because police were more numerous totally surrounding them. All were searched when leaving the place and some were arrested.
And this morning, there are screaming media headlines about an 18 year old schoolboy who has been charged with attempted homicide of a police officer... You can imagine the meaning of such a message! Cops are now very happy as they've been asking for this kind of support from the government for months. I suppose they will feel even stronger because of this when they demonstrate on the 18th of May. Nuit Debout has called for a demonstration on the same day at the same place. I'm not sure it's a good idea within such circumstances... We'll see.
These stories are only few out of many more, as Nuit Debout take a lot of different forms, depending where it is and who is there. In a lot of places throughout the country it's peaceful; people are debating, demonstrating sometimes in very original and new ways (using parody, music, etc,).
To be continued...
Hi Dave, (May 11th 2016)
Yesterday afternoon, Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced the government had decided to use Article 49.3 in order to pass the Loi Travail without any vote at the Assembly, even if a few weeks ago they were still promising they would never use it. However, for the past few days we've been waiting for the announcement. The government knows it won't have a majority (because a part of its 'left' is against), so they've pushed it through... It has immediately provoked spontaneous demonstrations in a dozen towns provoking small riots, fights against police and the destruction of Socialist Party local headquarters in half a dozen towns. One other slogan now is "Tout le monde déteste le PS": "Everybody hates the SP").
Tomorrow will be a day of demonstrations and strikes all over the country, followed by further responses on the 17th and 18th of May.
To be continued...
All the best,
PS: a link (be patient, the pictures come up after few seconds)...
All the Nuit Debout photos are on here: : http://larueourien.tumblr.com/
(The above URL is the BEST)
Hi Dave, (May 5th)
As I told you, the demonstration on Tuesday proved to be a trap: 1500 people and 5000 cops! If there were so few people, it's also because they knew what to expect on this day. On the same day there were other demonstrations in France, some again ending in fights with police. This was especially true of Nantes - one of the angriest towns this time around - mainly because the eco "Zadistes" struggle against the new airport is taking place nearby.
There will probably be another schools and universities demonstration in a week's time , but the next big demonstration is planned for the 12th of May (with a one day strike, but the "real" strike is now definitely planned to begin the 17th or 18th of May, depending on how many sectors want to take part).
There is a big ideological and mediatic togetherness and answer to all this, particularly from the police. Since the aftermath of "Charlie" (Charlie Hebdo), during those terrible days last November 2015 when millions of citizens demonstrated in Paris and elsewhere shouting "Je suis Charlie", "Je suis flic", ("I am a cop") applauding and hugging cops, the wheel has turned full circle: now, the main slogan during demonstration is: "Tout le monde déteste la police"! ("Everybody hates police").
Even the CGT union (and part of the demonstration) scandalized this mediatique togetherness simply because two posters they made against police violence, looking a bit like Mai '68 stuff, and which weren't that terrible but it was too much for some. Not only police protested, but also the other big union (CFDT) plus even a part of the CGT itself. The poster was also a way for the CGT to attract youngsters, knowing they are obliged to "radicalize" somewhat their appearance in order to seduce youth and even their slogans during demonstrations are angrier than usual (e.g. against the "Police State" and the State of Emergency).
So the police have the blues and are reacting accordingly. For example, the most extreme right wing police union (The Alliance), which is also one of the biggest (in fact the second biggest with 36% of police membership), is calling for a demonstration of cops and citizens on the 18th of May against the "everybody hates police" ambience! They've called for rallies in every town and, in Paris...where else but the Place de la République! It's pure provocation! I'm not sure they will be allowed to do it there, even if they call it at midday (the actual Nuit Debout "occupation" begins much later at 18. 00 hrs), because a face to face confrontation would be too dangerous.
Hi Dave, 2nd May 2016
Yesterday, the huge traditional 1st of May demonstration turned into a riot after only 5 minutes and it didn't end until night... It started quickly because of the cops: they kept this new way to rule demonstrations (cops all around, back and in front), and on such a day when people came along with family, plus a lot of senior citizens, it was appearing more scandalous than ever... So they were immediately attacked by hundreds and then thousands because more and more people were shocked by the harsh police reactions. Unions tried to stop the demonstration in order to separate the "good" and the "bad" demonstrators, but the 'bad and the 'good' were so mixed up together that union bosses and security staff were themselves insulted and were finally obliged to join the frontal advance...
The police stake-out was to carve-up the demonstration in order to isolate and arrest the troublemakers, but if they succeeded in achieving the first step, there were just too much people gathered - numbering thousands from all walks of life - in each isolated fragment pieces, it was so impossible for the cops to do much at all. Ironically, what they mainly achieved was unity among demonstrators as all turned against the cops and it was unity the like of which I had never ever seen before. At the end of the demonstration, there were 3000 people from all ages, sex, and social strata shouting "Nous sommes tous des casseurs"! ("We are all wreckers now" – wreckers here meaning hooligans to give real nuance to what was been shouted for here).
On the spot where the demonstration ended, fights kept going hours, then a part of the people joined the Place de République (not far from here) going via the streets or metro, destroying banks, insurances, shop windows and so on. After such a day most of the people were a bit nervous, so as the Place de République got surrounded by police, fights broke out again. (Apparently the police were the first to attack- an act a pure provocation- knowing perfectly well what would be the reaction, meaning they then had a "good" pretext to finish off everything. And that's what they did violently clearing the Place de République at about 23.30 hrs.
Also, the "prefecture de police" of Paris (the local equivalent of Home Secretary) has now forbidden in the Place de République not only alcohol, but in future music, general noise, wild goings-on, etc... So, theoretically, Nuit debout have now only the right to gather, sit and talk calmly from 18.00 to 20.30 hrs, all the while totally surrounded by cops in riot gear, some even patrolling a few meters away from the assembly! However, I don't think it will work out like that...
Tomorrow there will be the first demonstration of schools and universities back from holidays (ending today), but it will take place in a very battened down area of Paris, where the cops know perfectly what to do and how to do it, as this course has already been used in similar circumstances (a real trap, but as a lot of youngsters already know this also, I'm quite sure they won't go there, and the whole thing will explode more than before).
Say hello to Bristol (and correct my English if using my stuff !),
All the best,
PS: a few links...
Hi Dave, (29th April 2016)
Yesterday there were quite a lot of people demonstrating on the streets everywhere in France though no more than on previous demonstrations. In Paris there are two main reasons for it: firstly the schools and universities are on holiday (they go back on Monday and will demonstrate Tuesday), secondly the unions didn't call for a real full-blooded strike, so in some towns or particular sectors (where some union men are more "radical" than the hierarchy above them), they succeeded in gathering thousands, but in others places, it was more symbolic (just big balloons and banners to be seen on TV news).
As I told you, the "real" strike (an on-going strike) will really start around the 15th of May, if they do what they say they are going to do (which is not for certain because they have already back-tracked, slowing down or postponing action for weeks...)
In Paris there were around between 20 and 30, 000 people demonstrating and among them around 1000 or 2000 were more or less active, constantly fighting the police until in the end the French cops did what they do in England, kettling the demonstration, front, back and sides – even sometimes inserting the demo with plainclothes cops – and this, of course, is taken for what it is, a provocation... Some of the last named have been badly injured and the whole media - the news and political speeches - of yesterday night were concentrated on this (even commented upon by the President Hollande and the Home Secretary). This is towards announcing of course a step towards repression, and they have arrested only yesterday more than 200 people. (That now means a tally of around 2000 arrested during the last month of upheaval!).
After the demonstration a part of it – numbering thousands - joined the Place de République and some trade unionists have spoken at the general assembly, mostly to call for a related struggle between workers and young people ( some talked about the necessity of an on-going general strike), but not a lot of people continued to remain in the Place de Republique: after a few hours most of them went back home, so the people who wanted to "widen-out" the occupation were only a few hundred, and therefore not powerful enough to resist the police: after midnight (the hour the police has asked Nuit Debout to leave the place), cops arrived and violently dispersed the Place de Republique. (The cops were very angry because of what had happened during the afternoon and their injured undercover mates). Dozens were arrested...
Then more and more political establishment guys (mostly right wing but also some from the left) are now asking the government to definitively clear the Place de Republique, and the government, helped by some unions, is putting more and more pressure on the so-called "responsible elements" to keep order in the Place de Republique (which is impossible as they haven't the means, and if they tried they would be completely ignored, so the 'responsibles' play with words for the moment, but there will be a point where their manoeuvrings will become impossible, and they will be obliged to take a clear position...
To be followed...
All the best,
Hi Dave, (April 14th 2016)
We now have a very interesting situation in France, particularly in Paris, Nantes, Rennes... but also in numerous other towns some of which are quite small. However, in Paris (and others places), one of the problems has to do with a bunch of so called "Appelistes" (Tarnac and Co) who are trying to radicalize the movement by force, deploying all the bad old tactics of violence and intimidation, and, of course, the result is the opposite of what is intended bringing into play more confusion and inevitably disgusting a lot of people, who don't come back simply because they are afraid... And as the police and authorities are only waiting for a pretext to evict the Place de Republique, these bastards would bear responsibility if they continue doing what they are doing...
PS. With Nuit Debout, the appellistas (those responding to the call) aren't responsible for any mistakes or stupid things, and neither for all types of violence (a huge part involved youngsters, schoolboys and the like...), but as they are somewhat organized, they have more power and occasionally use this power physically; deploying a "style" which mixes Stalinism together with street gang behaviour. They have for example punched the face of 4 or 5 people during demonstrations that have only written critiques of them and have even done this recently during a confrontation with police!
But let's wait and see what will happen...
All the best,
Theory of the Young Girl is probably the one and only interesting text by Tiqqun (and even if it is, it remains very aesthetic). Apart from that, I dislike them for a lot of important reasons and on many levels: moral (above all), human (and like 'moral' I mean possessing a sense of "common decency").Their chief and leader (J. C/F Tarnac) concentrates for me all I hate in the so-called 'revolutionist' (By this I do not mean revolutionary). A son of rich people (which I don't mind except for what follows...) who received money (is he still receiving it?) and even if not, he has now a good editor/sponsor by way of a very good monthly wage from his father but nonetheless gives lessons to those obliged to work; like saying to them, "You are just a slave", etc. (It reminds me of how Yves Le Manach used to talk about the Situs re working class people like himself? It's exactly like that and a real caricature). I know so many examples of that sort... Later, some of them wrote L'Appel (The Call) and L'Insurrection qui vient, (The Coming Insurrection) two stupid and dangerous texts which landed some of them in jail (J was even banged up, though not for too long but long enough for him to present himself as a hero of... — of what!?).
(The response from the last email was a reply to queries sometime around 2014 regarding the Invisible Committee, Tarnac 9, etc, after finding their contributions patchy, somewhat dubious but occasionally good ..... and all at the same time. Since then they notably have written a very good text on the still on-going Nantes ZAD which perceptively exposes the machinations of the party political Greens and one that very precisely mirrors our own experiences. Perhaps it could be said they are of their time having at some point in the early youth imbibed a lot of a now waning and cynical post-modernism seeing they make constant references to Deleuze, Guattari, Derrida, Zizek , etc, who themselves were weary recuperators (old before their time?) of some of the most revolutionary insights of the late 1960s. Needless to say, the Invisible Committee and cohorts are considerably better than the jaded post-modern Pantheon once thought so breathtakingly brilliant when the whole lot was basically a crock of shit. At least, 'the committee' gets involved, gets on the street and fights back...........From Dave )
Above: AND YOU, what are your dreams like? Above: DEMOCRACY MY ARSE, BLOCK THE ECONOMY
Here all dreams are permitted (From the "Intermittents)
Above: NIGHT is for kissing not for WORKING Above: Look at your ROLEX. It is the hour of REVOLT
Above from Caen: WORK / CONSUME / SHUT YER GOB Above: OUR RIGHTS ARE ON HOLIDAY (IN PANAMA)
Above: THE WORLD OR NOTHING Above: LET NO ONE ENTER HERE WHO IS NOT IN REVOLT
(Parody of Dante's Gates of Hell)
Above: Pun on Decapitate and (De)capitalism Above: ALL RIOTERS ARE BEAUTIFUL (attached to statue of Louis 14th in Lyon)
Above: If you still believe in democracy then why not unicorns? Above: Occupied Rennes town hall. We're taking back what's ours.
Above Force Ouvriere: The dreams of state & management are Above Rennes: HOMAGE TO WORK VICTIMS: accidents / poisoning /
nightmares to us. Immediate total withdrawal of the labour law burn out / harrassment / imprisonment. MULTIPLIED MANY TIMES BY
EL KHOMRI'S LABOUR LAWS