No Justice, No Peace!
The events that have shaken the French suburbs for almost two weeks now are definitely the expression of a rebellion with an undeniably political dimension. The riots are obviously against the representatives and symbols of a social order that is unequal, racist and oppressive, which considers young people from the popular neighbourhoods to be “trash” which need to be cleaned with “Karcher” and then sent to rot in prison. In this context, setting fire to a car, a public building or a business, is a political act. Even though we might question the wisdom of these actions, especially as they cause more problems for the people than for the bourgeoisie and those who are truly to blame for this situation, the fact remains that this is the only way that these young people can make themselves heard, for this society has nothing to offer them but servitude, frustration and cops. In order to be able to put in place repressive policies, and to criminalize the suffering of the suburbs, the social origins of this violence must first be denied.
It is as if they did not know that human beings lived in these dormitory housing estates, built on the fly outside of the cities, where immigrants and poor people are kept as in warehouses. These housing estates are like a condensed version of all the bad ways to plan a city, and thus they include everything that makes life difficult. In these housing estates there is no social space to meet together. In these housing estates unemployment and suffering are the daily lot of the adults and the future of the children. One did not need to be a sociologist or a fortune teller to predict what is happening today. When the individual is negated to such an extent it is natural for him [sic] to rebel. When the politicians get indignant about how the young people in the suburbs do not respect republican institutions, they seem to forget that the republic has not cared about them for decades.
But after a series of electoral failures and provocations from a Minister of the Interior who “knows how to talk,” these marginalized, mistreated and scapegoated people have spontaneously rebelled. Only someone like the Minister of the Interior could actually believe that there is an organization behind this. Those who are to blame are those who allowed these “housing estates” to be built and those who let the living conditions for the people there deteriorate without providing them with any of the help or support that they needed.
The occupation of these neighbourhoods by the riot squads and shock troops from the police, of helicopters that hover overhead all night long, as well as the calling up of reservists… all of this is just a military bonus for the government, but it will do nothing but feed the fire and the anger. Thousands of arrests, over 700 prosecutions under often ridiculous pretexts and without any proof, all of this will do nothing to solve the social alienation of the suburbs and the youth.
The application of special legislation such as curfews, which originated during the Algerian war, is truly a provocation to these angry young people as well as a fundamental threat to public freedoms. The law allows prefects to simply decide whether or not to impose a curfew; it sanctions police raids by night or by day, forbids people deemed threatening from visiting the area or forbids them to leave their home, allows them to ban public assemblies, close cinemas, theatres, coffeehouses, meeting places, and also control the media – including the press, the radio, television or the internet.
Following the systematic repression of the social and trade union movements (the GIPN’s intervention against the postal workers at Bègles, the massive crack-down against anti-GMO activists, the assault of the GIGN and naval commandos against the mutinous sailors of the “Pascal Paoli”), the State is preparing to wage social warfare against the poor and against all those who resist this class society. The government is charging full steam ahead down the road towards fascism, and this should be enough to mobilize all sections of the social and trade union movements to organize in defense of our freedoms and our past social gains.
Yes, there are reasons to rebel, but setting fire to cars (which sometimes belong to people who are just as poor) and striking out at random does not do any damage and simply reinforces a narrow inwardness (whether nationalist or religious). Our rebellion should base itself on opposing those who are truly to blame for the entrenched suffering and poverty: capitalism and the State. And our rebellion will only become coherent by organizing against capitalism and its destructive effects, by organizing in the community against bailiffs, against high rents, for real public services (equal access, including free transportation…)
The Anarchist Federation demands the forces of repression be pulled out, the repeal of the emergency measures and special legislation, a stop to all prosecutions of the young rebels, the release of everyone who has been imprisoned as well as an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Ziad Benna and Bouna Traoré. The Anarchist Federation reiterates its support of the residents, the families, as well as the workers in the areas that have suffered social violence from rioters like the police. To put this fascistic arrogant and contemptuous government in check we need power on the ground. So we need to build a social movement without parasitical politicians and bureaucrats, built on a basis of libertarian federalism [translators note: in France the word “libertarian” does not have the right-wing connotation that it does in America; rather it has a similar connotation to the term “anti-authoritarian”] and direct democracy with the goal of bringing about a revolutionary transformation of society. This is what is necessary to bring about social and economic equality, which will also guarantee freedom and security for all!
Those who sow misery, will reap anger!
For a libertarian and egalitarian society
We still need to make a revolution!
Fédération anarchiste [Anarchist Federation]
Secrétariat of external relations
145 rue Amelot 75011 Paris
Please note that the above text about the past 12 days riots in France comes from the Fédération Anarchiste (Anarchist Federation) 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. 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 FA’s point of view, nor do they necessarily agree with mine. Si quelqu’un a un meilleur texte à suggérer, svp envoyez-moi le!
Categories: anarchism, clichy-sous-bois, france, revolution, translation,