Saturday, November 05, 2005

Should We Support the Popular Rebellion, Or Oppose It With Talk Of “Islamicization” and “Disorder”?

Who has rebelled in Clichy-sous-bois? 

Youth, just as in May 1968.

But this time it was not the student youth, but rather the most exploited youth, which on top of being proletarian is confronted by massive and widespread racism every day.

This rebel youth is the vanguard of the class struggle in France, it wants everything to change, it is the expression of the total antagonism between the proletariat and capitalism.


The reactionaries are trying to cover this up, they are acting as if this rebellion has nothing to do with “French society.”

And then there is the weapon of racism, used to divide and rule.

This is the line about the “Islamicization of France,” to use the words of Philippe de Villiers [leader of the Catholic nationalist Movement for France] when he talks of “‘ethnic civil war,’ the key, the root cause: the bankrupt policy of massive and uncontrolled immigration.”

Having just joined up with Jacques Bompard (formerly of the National Front), they have gone to Seine Saint-Denis to form a “national collective of politicians of the Republic against allowing immigrants to vote.”

As for [National Front leader Jean-Marie] Le Pen, he thinks that “by attacking the agents and symbols of the State, it is France herself that is attacked, by hordes of people that the so-called anti-racist laws prevent us from calling foreigners.”

Here we can see what the fascists are up to: using racism to divide the masses!

This racist propaganda is also a part of the criminalization of the “dangerous classes.”

According to the reactionaries it is a matter of passing off the rebellion as part of the gangster tradition of claiming territory.

This is the catchphrase used time and again, the “gang territory” as Sarkozy said in Argeneteuil, where he was showered with rocks after his statements about “trash” and “Karcher.”

“The youth think that the city belongs to them and them alone. So far as they can see, the police are just another gang. Their mere presence is interpreted as an aggression.” (Sébastien Peyrat, a media sociologist)

“There are people who feel that this is their chance to mark their territory by fighting the forces of law and order. They use violence to control these territories.” (Alain Bauer, criminologist and president of the National Commission on Delinquency)
This kind of talk is meant to “scare people,” to ensure the hegemony of the middle classes.

This is what is behind initiatives such as the Seine-Saint-Denis UMP federation’s petition to “Stop violence - Seine-Saint-Denis demands peace," 100,000 copies of which were distributed.

This is why we find the same talk among the armchair revolutionaries of the far left which is tied to the trade unions.

The left of the “French Communist Party” agrees with Arlette Laguiller that “The main victims of this violence are the people who live in these suburbs” (Arlette Laguiller). “Lacking a political analysis (…) some young people are reduced to committing unacceptable attacks against the peace, the safety and the property of people who work for a living.” (the left wing of the “CP” – the PRCF)

Arlette Laguiller does not hesitate to say that the violence is being committed by “crooks”: “Perhaps it is true that the everyday violence in these neighbourhoods is the work of thugs or pushers. But there have always been thugs, so why do so many young people support them today? Why do these violent explosions directed against the police attract so many more young people than these small time neighbourhood crooks?”

All of these legalists are saying the same thing: “Instead of destroying the cars and homes of workers, pensioners and the unemployed, what needs to be destroyed is capitalism.” (the left of the “CP” –the PRCF)

“The population is very worried about the wave of rebellion and violence that is shaking the suburbs and popular neighbourhoods.” (LCR [Trotskyist])

All of which is nothing but an excuse to reject the struggle.

The cars that have been set on fire have been in areas where the youth feel they can struggle, without having to go into areas where they could be easily arrested.

Many of the cars that have been set on fire were in front of police stations, or belonged to government officials (both Communist Party and UMP mayors), police stations were attacked (in Aulnay, Antony, etc.) as well as post offices and Renault franchises; there were several shots fired against the police (in Courneuve), reporters were taken aside and their cars were set on fire, the Bobigny shopping centre was “vandalized”, etc,

So do we want a revolution or don’t we?

History is made by the masses, and one is either with them or against them.

Struggle is a fact and those who would prefer that it be “different” are simply showing how they fear it, or that they do not even want it.

To give just one example, the LCR has called for “all left-wing and revolutionary forces” to meet “to work out an emergency initiative such as a peaceful march from the suburbs to demand that Sarkozy resign and that the necessary measures be taken to guarantee a social and collective life based on solidarity”!

Is a “peaceful demonstration” part of an electoral strategy or part of a revolutionary struggle against the State?

Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist Maoist) November 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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