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(en) France, The Fuse is Lit! by No Pasaran*

Date Mon, 14 Nov 2005 15:40:22 +0200

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

* 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
Anti-Criminality Brigades)

* 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.


No Pasaran, November 10th 2005

Réseau No Pasaran
21ter rue Voltaire
75011 Paris

Please note that the above text about the past two weeks of riots in
France comes from the No Pasaran network http://nopasaran.samizdat.net/
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.

Please also note that i am translating this as i have not been able to
find any radical accounts of the riots or the police racism that provoked
them in English… i do not necessarily agree with the author’s
point of view, nor do they necessarily agree with mine. Si
quelqu’un a un meilleur texte
* No Pasaran network is an antiauthoritarian anticapitalist initiative
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