Police State = Murder State
Capitalism is suffering and war!
In Clichy sous Bois, Zyad and Bounna, 17 and 15 years old, died as a result
of police harassment; of a police force that chases young people and caries
out more and more ID checks for no reason. It does not matter whether or not
they were actually being chased; that young people are so afraid of the police
that they are willing to risk their lives to get away from them says all
that needs to be said about the relationship between the people and the police
in these neighbourhoods. Over the past years, the heavy police presence has
led to many run-ins with locals. Most of the time, the young people are simply
objecting to being treated like subhumans, and yet more and more they find
themselves charged (and often convicted) with contempt and rebellion. These
are not mistakes or “errors” that need to be condemned, but rather the results
of a law and order policy that has been developed over the past twenty years.
The stigmatization and contempt towards young people from the suburbs simply
makes them hate this society – which lets 20% of the population rot in ghettos
– all the more. This is not some random accident, but the result of political
and economic choices.
And so the (supposed) availability of low-income housing for immigrants
over the past thirty years has been based on a system of segregation whereby
only some neighbourhoods were open to them, generally worst ones, which were
badly located and/or most run-down.
It is still the case that those responsible for low-income housing consider
the arrival of immigrants to be a sure sign that an area is going downhill:
so this “disqualifying” demand is funneled into what are already the worst
programmes. Worst still, the debate on social diversity has entrenched and
legitimized this segregation, to the point that areas of social housing where
these people were supposed to be able to live are closed off to them in the
name of social diversity: a diverse population must be encouraged in the housing
projects, and so immigrants are not allowed, especially if they are poor!
The fact that people have no control over their own lives just exacerbates
the tensions of people who are already trapped in a social category or in
a neighbourhood. Isn’t it true that this anger is a result of keeping families
stuck in areas which are experienced as economic, social and residential dumping
grounds, without any way of getting out?
There is nothing new about social apartheid. For almost fifty years now
entire populations of workers and immigrants who – let us not forget – built
and rebuilt our roads and our buildings, have themselves been warehoused
in these ghettos. The “riots” are the result of the neo-liberal policies
that have been enacted by both the right and the left, which have been especially
devastating for the suburbs over the past thirty years. Yet today this poverty
is spreading throughout society.
We have not signed any social contract. We are not “citizens” of this society.
Our interests have nothing in common with those of the capitalists, the bosses,
the neo-liberal governments of the right and of the left. The referendum,
the regional elections, the pensioners movement, the SNCM… none of this has
changed anything. The riots have proven one thing: you have to be as violent
as possible in this shit society if you want to break through the social apathy.
This violence is nothing compared to the violence of capitalism. Police
violence that targets poor people, youth, immigrants; the violence of poverty
and isolation, due in part to the disappearance of any real pubic services;
from the garbage of the media to that of the government, we are constantly
surrounded by an anti-social environment. The young people of the suburbs
are united in screaming out that this society offers no hope. Even those
playing the education game know that it won’t do them much good: knowledge
is of very little use in a consumerist society; at best it will prepare them
to be exploited by McDonalds or the BTP (alongside white French people!).
And so the example of big brothers and sisters) doesn’t really encourage
one to play the legal game!
The government has called on the April 3rd 1955 law to re-establish order,
declaring a State of Emergency. Giving all power to local agents of the executive
branch, the prefects and the police, it reinforces the law and order side
of social apartheid: the popular classes, whether they work or not, are dangerous,
and so they should get a special treatment. The same for supposed equality
before the law: for those who rebel, billy clubs and rubber bullets reveal
the absurdity and illusory nature of any dialog between classes.
Worst still, re-applying this law is part of a process of racializing social
relationships. A process that has been playing out on a global level for many
years now, and which in France is basing itself on colonial ideas that some
wish to bring back. This decree has only been used twice before: in Algeria
and New Caledonia. Using it now is a way of presenting the present situation
as one of warfare, of cultural and ethnic minorities breaking up the country
(like the “lost territories of the Republic” that all kinds of patriots moan
about). This is a clear message: if not legally so, then the suburbs are
at least de facto colonies, due to their “ethnic makeup” which supposedly
makes them unable to be integrated into French society. The most obvious
example of the different ways that neighbourhoods with different ethnic groups
are managed is the attempt to create mechanisms of government social control
via religion and the CFCM. The important thing is to keep control, even if
to do so the younger generations must be handed over to religious authorities.
If need be, the “Islamic danger” that they will have built from scratch will
then serve as an excuse for more repression.
From the February 2005 law on the benefits of colonization to the anti-immigrant
talk and actions by way of the stigmatization of young people from the neighbourhoods
that must be cleaned with Karcher, the immigrants and their children have
become public enemy number one for the de Villepin government. They are the
enemy within that allows the de Villepin to unite the majority around the
one thing they have in common: their [French] ethnicity. And the Socialist
Party doesn’t object at all, which just goes to show that if they were in
power they would do the same thing. In fact, wasn’t it the Socialist Party
that, at its Villepinte Congress in 1997, agreed to make law and order a priority
for the “left”, already playing for support on the National Front’s territory?
Julien Dray, spokesman for the Socialist Party and a supporter of “zero tolerance,”
voiced his support for Sarkozy during the debates on the Internal Security
Law in March 2003. You had better not forget it. For all of the political
parties that wish to manage capitalism, the racial struggle is supposed to
replace the class struggle: divide and rule.
The curfews can only remind us of the worst chapters of our history. Is
this why the National Front and other far-right groups are applauding these
measures? Or is it simply because they know that people always prefer “the
real thing” instead of some knock-off? The riots will certainly push a section
of the population – encouraged by the government’s law and order policies,
fed up of seeing the few fruits of their labour going up in smoke – into
the arms of the far right. Riding on this wave of xenophobia, Sarkozy has
announced that foreigners convicted of participating in the riots will be
deported, never mind the legalities. Not wanting to lose ground to De Villiers,
who intends to replace Le Pen as Mister “France Love It Or Leave It”, Sarkozy
had brought back the double-penalty. The No Pasaran network will be there
to protest this, as we have in the past. But we cannot stop there. Social
issues must be placed in the forefront and this means doing away with this
shit individualism that divides workers, the unemployed, poor people, private
sector/public sector workers, the elderly and youth… all divided by identity
politics that simply play into the hands of those in power by keeping the
people divided by their ethnic origin, their culture, their sexuality, anything
but their class!
Each and every one of us should abandon this single-issue approach: everyone
out for themselves, or everyone out for their community, where social issues
and common political perspectives disappear. Because young people have no
future, they have nothing left but self-destruction. And so in a suicidal
logic they attack that which surrounds them: other people, institutions (schools,
etc.), material objects (cars, etc.)
Points of unity should be proposed and fought for in every struggle and
at every meeting and we should do everything we can to combat individualistic
and identity politics. Dividing our demands up into separate categories leaves
us powerless. We would not be in this dire situation if more connections and
unity had been created, instead of being destroyed. The social movement is
in a bad way, it will only be possible to set things right if a maximum number
of people wish to do so, and at the moment this is unfortunately not the
case, as everyone is busy with their own issue, competing in their victimization
and letting the State continue to play its Welfare role and so keep its legitimacy.
Don’t wait for permission from your organizations, collectives or trade unions
to build unity! Today unemployment insurance is being renegotiated and of
course the rights of the unemployed will be whittled away a bit more; for
better or for worst the conflicts in Marseille to protect public services
for all are likely to continue; the workers who are being exploited and reduced
to poverty in training programmes are fighting back; the undocumented immigrants
are refusing to be the most oppressed… but the self-imposed isolation and
ignorance of what others are experiencing prevent these separate movements
– often infected with corporatism – from becoming a political movement.
But building unity also means including what others are doing into our actions
and texts, going to support people on strike in your area, opening up and
maintaining collectively run spaces.
We should not stay with our eyes glued on the riots, on what is spectacular,
like a deer caught in headlights. Another reason why things have gotten so
bad is that there is not enough activism which is open to others and centered
around everyday issues. First and foremost, resistance comes out of everyday
life, from regular activist work on the ground, resistance in the neighbourhoods,
cultural and social innovation outside of the grip of the public “powers”,
re-appropriating public space as well as our lives.
Only by carrying out this primary activity will we be able to give a common
orientation to the different struggles, to the rebellions and strikes, and
thus finally form a real social front.
We should be able to find a strong basis for unity in these demands, that
we should share regardless of where we come from or what we are doing, which
we should use to multiply our common actions and demonstrations:
repeal of the 1955 decree and of the security legislation, starting
with the recent laws passed by Perben, Sarkozy and Chevénement
against all deportations (against the return of the double-penalty);
all undocumented immigrants should have their situation regularized
suppression of all repressive forces, especially the BACs (so-called
a guaranteed wage whether or not one is employed: to sever the tie
between a salary and a job, the latter being more and more rare, and just
as alienating as ever.
making those public services which are actually beneficial to the
public (energy, health, transportation, education…) democratic and free of
charge: we should all have equal access to all of the public services in
their entirety. Politics should not be left in the hands of parties of distinguished
gentlemen who shake their heads. We should put an end to this aristocratic
system which does not listen to us. We should organize outside of it and
create a direct democracy in all of the places where we live, from the level
of the neighbourhood to that of the country, with control of the mandates
and the power to make real decisions about society’s future.
POLITICIZE YOUR WORRIES, YOU WILL WORRY THE POLITICIANS!
CAPITALISM WILL NOT FALL BY ITSELF!
LET’S HELP IT!
AUTONOMY FOR ALL!
No Pasaran, November 10th 2005
Réseau No Pasaran
21ter rue Voltaire
Please note that the above text about the past two
weeks of riots in France comes from the No Pasaran network
in France and was translated by yours truly. I have a “fast and loose” translation
philosophy, meaning that when there is a choice between readability and the
original phraseology i tend to favour the former, provided that the meaning
stays the same.I admit that this was a particularly difficult text to translate,
buit i believe got it all right! The original document
can be seen in French.
This originally came from my blog - Sketchy Thoughts
- and is one of a number of pieces i wrote or translated regarding the riots
that rocked France in October and November 2005. To see the a complete list
of such posts, i suggest you check out the 2005 Riots In France page on the Kersplebedeb