Joelle Aubron Is Dead
This March 1st, 2006, Joelle left this horrible world.
Since her release from Bapaume prison in June 2004, she has devoted herself to battling cancer and fighting for the liberation of hum comrades Nathalie Menigon, Georges Cipriani, Jean-Marc Rouillan and Regis Schleicher.
Tomorrow, she will be there with us, demonstrating against the offices of the penitentiary administration to demand their liberation, as intensely as she ever did. As intensely as her commitment for the social liberation of the human majority, everywhere in the world.
Collectif Nlpf !
I just received the above from the Ne Laissons Pas Faire Collective, which has been struggling for freedom for Action Directe’s political prisoners. It is very sad news – Aubron dedicated her life to the struggle for a better world. Her commitment moved her to join the communist guerilla organization Action Directe, which was active in France in the 1980s.
AD grew out of the French autonomist scene, drew heavy inspiration from both the struggles of the Third World proletariat and the intellectual legacy of the new communist currents of the 1960s and 70s. It carried out a number of spectacular attacks, many of which were in cooperation with Germany's Red Army Faction. Aubron was arrested in February 1987, along with fellow Action Directe members Jean-Marc Rouillan and Natalie Menignon. On June 16th 2004, at the age of 44, Aubron was released from prison on health grounds - she was suffering from cancer. (According to French law, those suffering terminal illnesses can be released to die at home.) “The liberation of my comrades is a battle still being waged,” she said, as she left the prison.
Yesterday Aubron died. She will be sorely missed.
Below is an excerpt from Short Biography of Action Directe Prisoners, written by Aubron in 1996:
I was born in 1959. My family came from the traditional French bourgeoisie, but lived in a working class neighbourhood in Paris. I learned quickly that social equality was just a word engraved over my public school doorways.------
The other even more important factor was the renewal of the revolutionary movement that took place in the sixties. Its anti-capitalism, anti-imperialism and anti-revisionism infused the atmosphere of that period.
By the late seventies very radical levels of confrontation had already been tried out and were still taking place, the Black Panther Party in the United States, the guerilla movement in Latin America, the Palestinian struggle… Closer to home, in Italy and Germany other guerillas were hitting the system at the heart of its cities. While there were many different struggles with specific demands, they all existed within a common dynamic against the system. So I lived in squats, in working class neighbourhoods in Paris that were facing real estate development. There was the anti-nuclear demonstration in Malville in the summer of 1977, where a demonstrater was was killed by a cop’s grenade. In October, at the same time in France was getting ready to extradite the lawyer Klaus Croissant to Germany, the RAF prisoners were executed at Stammheim. I was not a member in any group, but at these times I was going to demonstrations armed with molotov cocktails and took part in minor actions (against Ecuador’s embassy after the bloody repression of sugar workers in Guyagil; the truck that was rigged to look like it was booby-trapped and left in front of the Minister of Justice following the sentencing of revolutionary activists….) Revolutionary violence was integrated into the everyday praxis of activists, guerilla attacks showed us that we too would have to engage in armed struggle in our class warfare, it was a period full of discussion about the armed experiment, specifically the Italian situation.
To give a very short summary, one of the things we discussed was whether or not it was necessary to have a political-military organization. In 1980, even though the autonomist group that I was a part of participated in AD actions and lent our logistical support, its members were not members of Action Directe.
I was arrested with a comrade from AD in 1982 while leaving a place where there were arms. I did not declare myself to be a member of AD. I continued to think about things while in prison. It was a period marked by the cowardice of the French extreme left in general and the inanity of the French autonomist movement in particular. Imperialism advanced in all its splendor: the Israeli intervention in Lebanon, Thatcher in the Malvines, the French bombing of Beeka in Lebanon, Reagan’s attack on Grenada, the mining of Nicaragua’s harbours… The supposedly left-wing French government’s policies revealed the social-democrats’ submission to the neoliberal line that was dominant around the world. At the same time the former revolutionary movement was going to pieces. On the one hand were those who would jump at any chance of acquiring power, on the other those whose who did nothing but recite the old formulas that left the proletariat just as defenseless against the attacks of the bourgeoisie. I now saw not only the usefulness of armed struggle, but also the necessity of the strategy of having a guerilla organization. Despite this, when I was released from prison in 1984, at first I only engaged in legal activities : support for the organization’s prisoners, book distribution, newspaper. Even though I had decided to get back with AD I did not want to go underground as soon as I got out of prison. It was almost a year later, when the repression was intensifying, that I went underground.
In 2002-2003, while still in prison, Aubron was interviewed by the anarcho-punk webzine Future Noir (the entire interview was translated and is available on the web); she was asked what she thought of activism today, and what she thought had changed from the 19702 and 1980s when Action Directe and the RAF carried out their attacks. While the entire interview is worth reading, his is how she answered that one question:
When I look at activism over the past few years, it is from a very particular point of view. My perspective basically consists of two things.
First, the years in prison. My relationship with what is going on today is necessarily very intellectual. I can’t see, or hardly, the living contributions, how people actually come together in the different situations and, along with that, the connections, the emotions… in short, that collective subjectivity, an essential part of the struggle and of life. I am in a certain sense out of touch, kept in an involuntary ivory tower where what people are theorising is more important than what they are doing. Given the way in which I lived out my own politics, it is not a very comfortable place to evaluate things from.
Secondly, the “defeat” that we suffered. When I say “we”, I am referring to far more than just those Action Directe activists who are still in prison. In 1968 I turned nine years old, so I am not of the generation of ’68. Nevertheless, I started from that revolutionary surge “there”.
There were many different expressions of the strength of the desire for liberation and emancipation in that surge. They were present throughout the different experiences of men and women:
By the end of the 1980s, this surge was “finished”. In quotation marks though. It was a defeated at the hands of a bourgeois counter-offensive that we had seen getting stronger and stronger since the 1970s. In the long war between exploiters and exploited, a battle was lost. Yet the undeniable historical break which is the cruel result of this surge ending should not be confused with being finished once and for all. It is simply a cycle of struggle which was finished.
- The struggles, whether armed or not, in the three continents, which confronted local dictators supported by the imperialist powers, or else directly confronted the armed forces of the latter, and the struggles of the oppressed in the very heart of those imperialist powers.
- The struggle of women to act and think critically against all those institutions where human beings are molded to serve capitalist social relations and the reproduction of alienating submission…
The 1990s, especially the first half, were a nightmare, as we fled from the naturally oppressive march of history. Our oppressors were in a position to brag.
Today, that phase is behind us, and over the past years we see the outlines of what we hope may be a new surge.
Within which there is of course what the media calls the anti-globalization movement. At first it seemed to me to be monstrously dominated by social-democratic assumptions. Nostalgia for a “social” State, demands for “better redistribution of wealth”, which don’t really question the foundations of the system. Indeed, in this way they limit the hopes of life, pull them down inexorably into the rut of reformism, all the more senseless given that the decay of this very system is characterised, amongst other things, by a deep reactionary impulse (see what I said about the ATTAC and other partisans of global citizenship). Faced with this, the more radical expressions were put on the defensive, people dusted off their prayerbooks (whether communist or anarchist) in an attempt to to counter this falsified and falsifying view of reality. This was a high point in sect-like behaviour and competition between different brands in the marketplace of the protest spectacle. Over the last little while, I have the impression that things have started to get better. The opening of spaces for critical discussion and actions and all sorts of interesting things. You’ve got to admit that reality really helps us here. Especially since September 11th and the pretext that the new “holy crusaders” made of it.
Already, in light of the series of events that have transpired over the past months, it is difficult to continue to reject the analysis of imperialist relations. Globalization is the name of the new form of imperialism. In the same was that the means of accumulation changes within an “eternal” capitalist mode of production, the forms of imperialism change. On the one hand, a clearly visible pyramid with the United States sitting on top; on the other hand, the utterly reactionary nature of this relationship of forces where its pretentions of acting on the world seem to be exhausted by the very spectacle of its powerlessness. It is definitely a very dangerous situation. For at least two reasons: the impressive attack power that imperialism has developed and the temptation of miracle-solutions with their scapegoats and heaven-sent politicians.
But despite myself, despite being well aware of these dangers and what they mean for the different spaces where life and creativity exist, I am not convinced that the desire for liberation and emancipation has been destroyed. A while back I wrote a text about commitment where I compared it to the old myth of Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods so that men would no longer be at the mercy of their blind and arbitrary power. An insurrection where perseverance turned lost illusions into power for the future. The goal of developing liberatory relations between people is at the heart of the human adventure. Throughout the ages its ideological, political and social aspects are expressed differently, there are often mistakes made about how to realize it, but nevertheless it is always reborn from its own ashes. It is intimately tied to life, to its surging forth there where it was least expected.
I am thinking about really a lot of things that all have in common the desire to change the situation and change it concretely. In a maquiladora town close to Tijuana, faced with the desertion of the so-called public authorities from this free trade zone, the women are creating popular education initiatives, they set up as school with 300 places, and set up a university of knowledge and philosophy. Recently a Civil Mission for the Protection of the Palestinian People succeeded, through the presence of internationals, in allowing Palestinian workers to fix the water-pumps in a camp, abandoned for 15 days and under fire from Israeli snipers. A film-maker makes a film with street-children in Daker after having set things up so that his project helps the kids in the long term. I have chosen “small scale” examples, carried out in situations where death is never far away. There are countless others. Day after day, they deconstruct the destruction and the unfavourable balance of power, even if they are not enough to reverse this balance.
There are more and more people resisting around the world. For those of us who persist in fighting for the future, having experienced defeat may be an advantage. We have lived through the exhaustion, the death of an upsurge. Today, we are seeing and living the budding new life behind that phase. These situations where the invisible recreate the consciousness of being the only creative multitude, they reinvent our ability to function while asking questions.
From various things I have been reading, I am seeing things coming together. It seems that anticapitalist critiques and actions are once again taking place. After having thrown out lots of babies with their bathwater, notably in the way of concepts and grasping reality in a way that serves the oppressed, we are leaving our defensive positions. Calls that “we want it all and we want it now” can once again be heard. In any case, nothing else is possible. What I am saying here is very vague but there are so many realities where once again we can see global understandings of struggles, resistance and hope. In any case, it is going better than it was in the mid-nineties.
Categories: action-directe, france, revolution