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(en) France, UCL AL #315 = Spotlight, Separatism (s): a project directed against the associative world (ca, de, it, fr, pt)[machine translation]

Date Sun, 9 May 2021 09:21:36 +0300

If the bill on "separatism" undeniably targets Muslims in France, it would be wrong to reduce it to a simple instrument of racist controversy in the pre-election period: it carries a whole project of redefining the relationship of the State to the associative sector. ---- Attacks by state power against critical thinking are accelerating and the authoritarian outbreak is targeting all sides: activists, researchers, journalists. ---- "Republican values and secularism" serve as a mask for an authoritarian shift and rampant Islamophobia. In addition, the bill on "separatism", renamed (after several changes) "Bill reinforcing respect for the principles of the Republic", currently being studied in Parliament, significantly increases the constraints imposed by the State. weigh on associations and broaden the grounds that could lead to their dissolution, thus increasing the risk of arbitrary decisions.

In the line of sight, above all religious associations and especially Muslim, popular education associations (that is to say, which set themselves the objective of developing the critical spirit and the political capacity of the greatest number) [1], as well as the associations of interpellation and advocacy which exercise a counter-power function.

In his speech at Les Mureaux of October 2, 2020 announcing the law "against Islamist separatism" (the plural for "separatism" came later), Emmanuel Macron spoke at length about the "promise of emancipation" of the Republic, with a view to authoritarian control in line with the Universal National Service set up in 2019, which pretends to equate military service with an emancipatory holiday camp. The state's assumed mistrust of associations leaves them relatively helpless. Indeed, if in France the popular education sector is jealous of its autonomy, it is foreign [2]to the culture of the balance of power.

In the wake of 1936, then the implementation of the program of the National Council of Resistance, it developed independently of the State but considering it as an impartial arbiter, above the classes, and therefore without necessarily considering it as a threat. The associations which wanted to defend their project did so from a general interest perspective and according to a principle of "co-construction".

Today, and while the law of 1901 [3]guarantees citizens the right to associate for any purpose (legal obviously), the bill currently under study sets up the "republican engagement contract", which is not a contract since it unilaterally imposes unprecedented constraints on associations, accompanied by possible sanctions in terms of funding, access to public facilities, even threatening their very existence.

At the beginning of the XIX th century, Alexis de Tocqueville glorified étatsunienne liberal democracy by stating that civil vitality and voluntary private association were essential ingredients in democratic life. One would have thought that the liberal Emmanuel Macron would have been on the same line. But today we are in the era of authoritarian neoliberalism [4]and, all the more so in a statist country like France, the state claims to be the guarantor and to have the monopoly of "the interest". general".

Over XX th century, the associations have gradually won victories that consisted in obtaining such financial resources (government grants) and in kind (provision of equipment).

These so-called "operating" subsidies allowed them to freely implement their associative object. Since 2007, these subsidies have been gradually replaced by calls for projects: the associations then learned to twist their associative project so that it meets the public order. Despite a great art of hacking, they have become more and more subcontractors of services that should have been public and supported by civil servants, especially since the mode of financing puts them in competition with each other. with the others.

In this context, a libertarian communist analysis, declined in a strategy of development of counter-powers, obviously pushes us to fight the centralizing and monopolistic will of the public power (State and territorial collectivities) and to defend the necessary autonomy of associations. However, in the short term and given the current state of the balance of power, it is essential to fight so that the public authorities finance these checks and balances as part of their responsibility to allow freedom of association (law 1901) and to ensure freedom of opinion and expression (law 1905).

If certain associations, and in particular the most committed, choose to operate without subsidies, this could not be a solution: on the one hand because it weakens the associations without in any way weakening the State ; on the other hand because it does not eliminate the possibility for the State to dissolve a troublesome association, as was done for example for the Collective against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) last December. In October 2020, the Observatory of associative freedoms published its report "A repressed citizenship" [5]in which it analyzed 100 cases of attacks on associative freedoms to identify the processes at work. The law "separatism»Is part of this process of reducing the autonomy and critical capacity of associations. To counter this strongly liberticidal offensive, it is necessary for the associative sector to get rid of its reluctance to enter into a balance of power.

Adeline (UCL Paris north-east)


[1] See the popular education file of Alternative Libertaire, summer 2015.

[2] Popular education and trade unionism had nevertheless been very close, especially when the Federation of Labor Exchange joined the CGT in 1902.

[3] Specificity of France, the law of 1901 stipulates that "Associations of persons may be formed freely without prior authorization or declaration", and allows them to acquire legal capacity by constituting themselves a legal person under private law.

[4] Mode of government in which economic policies are imposed by freeing themselves from parliamentary or constitutional control, and where a strong power guarantees the sovereignty of private law.

[5] To read on Lacoalition.fr.

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