Should We Support the Popular Rebellion, Or Oppose It With Talk Of “Islamicization”
Saturday, November 05, 2005
Who has rebelled in Clichy-sous-bois?
Youth, just as in May 1968.
But this time it was not the student youth, but rather the most exploited
youth, which on top of being proletarian is confronted by massive and widespread
racism every day.
This rebel youth is the vanguard of the class struggle in France, it wants
everything to change, it is the expression of the total antagonism between
the proletariat and capitalism.
The reactionaries are trying to cover this up, they are acting as if this
rebellion has nothing to do with “French society.”
And then there is the weapon of racism, used to divide and rule.
This is the line about the “Islamicization of France,” to use the words
of Philippe de Villiers [leader of the Catholic nationalist Movement for France]
when he talks of “‘ethnic civil war,’ the key, the root cause: the bankrupt
policy of massive and uncontrolled immigration.”
Having just joined up with Jacques Bompard (formerly of the National Front),
they have gone to Seine Saint-Denis to form a “national collective of politicians
of the Republic against allowing immigrants to vote.”
As for [National Front leader Jean-Marie] Le Pen, he thinks that “by attacking
the agents and symbols of the State, it is France herself that is attacked,
by hordes of people that the so-called anti-racist laws prevent us from
Here we can see what the fascists are up to: using racism to divide the
This racist propaganda is also a part of the criminalization of the “dangerous
According to the reactionaries it is a matter of passing off the rebellion
as part of the gangster tradition of claiming territory.
This is the catchphrase used time and again, the “gang territory” as Sarkozy
said in Argeneteuil, where he was showered with rocks after his statements
about “trash” and “Karcher.”
“The youth think that the city belongs to them and them alone. So far as
they can see, the police are just another gang. Their mere presence is interpreted
as an aggression.” (Sébastien Peyrat, a media sociologist)
“There are people who feel that this is their chance to mark their territory
by fighting the forces of law and order. They use violence to control these
territories.” (Alain Bauer, criminologist and president of the National
Commission on Delinquency)
This kind of talk is meant to “scare people,” to ensure the hegemony of
the middle classes.
This is what is behind initiatives such as the Seine-Saint-Denis UMP federation’s
petition to “Stop violence - Seine-Saint-Denis demands peace," 100,000 copies
of which were distributed.
This is why we find the same talk among the armchair revolutionaries of
the far left which is tied to the trade unions.
The left of the “French Communist Party” agrees with Arlette Laguiller
that “The main victims of this violence are the people who live in these
suburbs” (Arlette Laguiller). “Lacking a political analysis (…) some young
people are reduced to committing unacceptable attacks against the peace,
the safety and the property of people who work for a living.” (the left wing
of the “CP” – the PRCF)
Arlette Laguiller does not hesitate to say that the violence is being committed
by “crooks”: “Perhaps it is true that the everyday violence in these neighbourhoods
is the work of thugs or pushers. But there have always been thugs, so why
do so many young people support them today? Why do these violent explosions
directed against the police attract so many more young people than these
small time neighbourhood crooks?”
All of these legalists are saying the same thing: “Instead of destroying
the cars and homes of workers, pensioners and the unemployed, what needs
to be destroyed is capitalism.” (the left of the “CP” –the PRCF)
“The population is very worried about the wave of rebellion and violence
that is shaking the suburbs and popular neighbourhoods.” (LCR [Trotskyist])
All of which is nothing but an excuse to reject the struggle.
The cars that have been set on fire have been in areas where the youth
feel they can struggle, without having to go into areas where they could
be easily arrested.
Many of the cars that have been set on fire were in front of police stations,
or belonged to government officials (both Communist Party and UMP mayors),
police stations were attacked (in Aulnay, Antony, etc.) as well as post
offices and Renault franchises; there were several shots fired against the
police (in Courneuve), reporters were taken aside and their cars were set
on fire, the Bobigny shopping centre was “vandalized”, etc,
So do we want a revolution or don’t we?
History is made by the masses, and one is either with them or against them.
Struggle is a fact and those who would prefer that it be “different” are
simply showing how they fear it, or that they do not even want it.
To give just one example, the LCR has called for “all left-wing and revolutionary
forces” to meet “to work out an emergency initiative such as a peaceful
march from the suburbs to demand that Sarkozy resign and that the necessary
measures be taken to guarantee a social and collective life based on solidarity”!
Is a “peaceful demonstration” part of an electoral strategy or part of
a revolutionary struggle against the State?
Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist Maoist) November 2005
Please note that the above text about the past
week’s riots in Clichy-Sous-Bois come from the website of the Communist Party
(Marxist-Leninist Maoist) in France and 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. The original document can be seen in French.
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