Friday, November 04, 2005

The Clichy Rebellion : Does it show the need for self-defense, or for people’s war?

There is a rebellion in Clichy Sous bois.
A rebellion that has as its moral basis revenge, after two teenagers died of electrical burns in a power substation.

A night of rioting, “another one” as Sarkozy said.

The socialists say that this “is proof of the climate of tension that reigns and of the escalation of violence.”


According to [former Socialist President Laurent] Fabius “the government and its right-wing predecessor seem to be far less interested in prevention than repression, whereas both are needed.”

And [former Socialist Minister] Dominique Strauss-Kahn complained on channel one that “There are less police in the suburbs, there is no more community policing, prevention programmes have been dismantled (…) The results are there to see: more violence than we have ever see before.”

According to some people, who firmly oppose the racist policies of the French State, this is one more argument in favour of community self-defense in popular areas, to protect against State attacks.

But “self-defense” makes no sense, as it is not a minority but all the popular classes that are targeted by State violence.
If you think in terms of self-defense, you are thinking in the same way (but inverted) as Joaquin Masanet, the spokesperson of UNSA-Police, the trade union of the majority of riot police, who has stated that the live ammunition fired against the riot police is “very serious” because it is aimed at a “symbol of the Republic” and proves that firearms “continue to circulate in the suburbs.”

All of which is just a way of “relativizing” the violence, of saying that it is qualitatively different in different areas… whereas it is only quantitatively different.

The massive police presence in the suburbs is in no way different from the repression of the « free partys » organized by young people who want to listen to music without going to commercial discos; it is in no way different from the little bosses’ surveillance in the workplace.

Capitalist social violence is the primary aspect.

“Of the two aspects of a contradiction, one is necessarily primary, the other secondary. The primary aspect is that which plays the dominant role in the contradiction. The characteristics of things and phenomena are mainly determined by this primary aspect of the contradiction, which holds the dominant position. But this situation is not static; the primary aspect and the secondary aspect of the contradiction change into one another and the characteristics of things change as a consequence.”
- (Mao Tse-Tung)
[translators note: i could not find the exact text of this quote in English, so i translated it myself – my apologies to Mao!]

This is the reason why the fires of revolution spread so quickly in the popular neighbourhoods.

For it is these neighbourhoods that the most exploited sections of the proletariat are brought together, many of whom are victims of racism.

A racism that is widespread throughout French society with “second class citizens” and a criminalized population accused of every evil.

Even young teenagers are prevented from going to school because of their alleged “dangerousness.”

This is why the masses who have nothing to lose but their chains are joining the revolutionary rebellion.

How else does one explain the fact that every night in France dozens of cars are set on fire?

How else does one explain how quickly the “violence” spread to neighbouring communities and the city of Montfermeil?

How else does one explain the fact that the Action police CFTC trade union requested that the army be sent into Clichy-sous-Bois?

The truth is that a single spark can start a praire fire.
And the rulers are all afraid.

Summing up a report released by Le Figaro [a very right-wing French magazine] on Thursday October 27th, the director general of the national guard (DGGN) lists “high-risk suburbs” where the guard is called to intervene, which shows that some medium-size cities can also be sparks (such as Rillieux-la-Pape in Rhône, Vitry-le-François in Marne, Villefontaine in Isère, Méru in l'Oise, etc.)
The entire bourgeoisie is trembling with fear because it knows that this is the calm that comes before the storm.

The masses want revolution, and every day they dare to go more and more in this direction, against the daily capitalist barbarism.

Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist Maoist) October 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.

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 PCMLM’s point of view, nor do they necessarily agree with mine. Si quelqu’un a un meilleur texte à suggérer, svp envoyez-moi le!

For background to the riots, including a timeline, check out the Wikipedia entry.

Or see on my blog:

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  1. Hello! You've made some excellent points and I have linked to your article from my blog HERE.

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