Filed under: war-machine | Tags: austerity, break, casseurs, France, riot, strike, wrecking
“It’s not unreasonable to offer a small preamble: the form’s not the essence. So there’s no question here of idealizing the practices for whatever they may be ‘in themselves’, but to see them in a utterly particular context.
Violence isn’t ever something to romanticize, to idealize. It’s just necessary to every act of revolt, every slightest revolutionary effort. And not for anyone lead down through the filth of authoritarian strategies.
One marks a nice difference with this social movement in comparison with its most recent precedents. The entry of the lycéens isn’t being accomplished in tranquil way: that’s the least one can say. The radicalization isn’t lead by a minority for the sake of the movement [en fin de mouvement] but translates itself directly into acts, and even these are undertaken in a diffuse way. Reading the notices from one of the last few days gives us a precise, unequivocal indicator: they’re confronting the police, they smash, they burn, they sack etc, whether in the big towns or a little village. The contagion’s there, the machine’s getting going.
And it’s there that a second specificity comes into play: the figure of the urban youth of November 2005 – who during the lycée movement of 2005 or during the anti-CPE movement of 2006 went on the demos but not, really, with the same end in mind as the demonstrators themselves (and, indeed, several “antagonisms” made themselves felt on that terrain) – are finding themselves this time on the same side of the barricades. A certain reconciliation is, in effect, underway. This isn’t class unity, but it’s a nice start to association. Which – the egg or the chicken – provoked it? That’s not too interesting to know. What’s sure is that two phenomena shall, from now on, reproduce themselves: the lycéen blockaders adopting more offensive strategies (or at minimum reactions); the urban youths, not all of whom are necessarily disciplined school-goers (it’s not interesting to add nuance to or develop this point, it’s not the basis of the argument) coming to join the blockade or its environs, to help out during/to take advantage of the confrontations and for that matter bring a few rocks … and so it continues.
One meets with a series of acts of violence where even the media, no longer end up saying that the events are uniquely due to “infiltrated casseurs”. And the teachers of lycées recognize with compassion that the casseurs are also their lycéens. Oh shit! the figure of the barbarian’s coming apart. [On se retrouve avec des témoignages qui ne faisaient pas de doute mais qui là sont encore plus explicites : la reforme des retraites, certes personne n’en veut, mais on s’en fout aussi un peu beaucoup. ] It’s also – and above all – a great pretext to throw up whatever’s in one’s stomach, which one ordinarily retains for the most part. And as certain lycéens say, that follows the movement. I start to break stuff or to chuck stones at the cops because the others do it. And there’s no doubt that that’s a fine act. Since in general the same guys disport themselves with much more docility towards the system (at school or more generally.) They break, in the end, a few of their own chains.
The significant difference here is that it’s not a question of a chain of reactive, violent events after, for example, a police “blunder”, as was perhaps the case in November 2005 or more recently in Greece. Rather, an opportunity has been seized. And even if one could say the same stuff (the famous tale of the ‘pretext’) when it’s a question of reactive riots, one finds in this case a cute little specificity: that reactive outbreaks have more obvious reasons to try and confront the direct cause: the figure of the cop. Here, the cop isn’t particularly the cause of the pension reform. Even if he disposes himself offensively/repressively during the movement, it isn’t essentially for this, that contrary to what the nice leftist democrats would have us think (the famous “police provocations”), that we want to fuck him up, him and his colleagues. It’s a little personal vengeance for those who know the daily humiliations which put them in their place: those who protect capital, the State, those who put the bridle on us each day, those who were authorized to put us away in the past and to smash today’s revolts. So it’s altogether sensible that the first reaction on seeing them isn’t to blow kisses or stage a sit-in in front of him, but to really go at it. The more people turn up, the better it’ll be.
But let’s not simply place the cop at the center of everything. (As a little aside, the union’s stewards should receive their own dose of the everyday…) The armed wing of capital should definitely get a smack in the face, but it certainly doesn’t end there. There’s stuff left over: what must be blown up, pillaged, what must be burnt. Every material thing which each day humiliates us in our efforts to live, all the frustrations and one way streets which this fucking society offers have to take a few blows, get sent flying (which may only mean that we should have an immediate and pragmatic spirit, and line our pockets.)
In the current state of things it makes no sense to mark out what could serve effectively or not for anything. A busted shop window or a burnt out car have never changed anything and won’t change anything such as it is, that’s for sure. One could justifiably say that these last days give indicators for tomorrow, be it in this movement or another. More and more people have nothing to lose and more to gain from seeing the world smashed. When the majority of these people take to the streets they will set to committing a series of actions with no return. When it’s no longer 10 but 1000 windows put in, simultaneously and without consultation – everything shall have begun.
When’ll we get the first burnt refinery?
-A free and revolting electron who hopes for a very high-tension current in order not to have to sleep at night … too long.
PS: a note to the democratic conspiracy theorists: comrades, in order no longer to have any doubts whether or not there are cop-provocateurs who bust shop windows and commit all sorts of violent acts, notably around the Parisian black blocs, next time get your hands on an iron bar and bust it first. It’s the only shock therapy which you have available. Other than that you can still rejoin the ranks of the SO [?] or, further afield, those militant Stalinists forming up. But pay attention, you’re going to get one bang in the face, because even if we know that the SO don’t have cops embedded in their ranks (oh shit, yeah, there are sectoral branches of cops and prison guards in a fair few union) we also know that those guys have cops well-embedded in their heads. So they’ll be treated as such. Pigs to slaughter.”
This is in many ways very leftist and reformist in nature, though it gives us a little more information as to what is going on. There is a lot going on.
From Liens Journal:
“There’s more forthcoming, but this ‘Address’, issued a few days ago by some guys around the various assemblies in Rennes (“Some participants in the general assembly of the students of the University Rennes 2, in the movement of unemployed and precarious workers, and in the inter-professional general assembly of Rennes”) is pretty important. The following is a modification of the translation of the original French posted on libcom a day or so ago. As usual, a plaintext version below the break; a two-page PDF is also available and not ugly. Really this is for distribution: circulate it as widely as you think it can have an impact, it’s not dumb. Or, as we say in a note at the end of the PDF:”
(we’re circulating this text as the most advanced and serious effort at practical reflection that’s come out of the French movement so far. We hope, with its authors, that it will inspire discussion and action this side of the channel – even perhaps, across this whole stricken continent, which could in our opinion do with more striking).
MORE WHEN IT’S BROKEN.
-Some participants in the general assembly of the students of the University Rennes 2, in the movement of unemployed and precarious workers, and in the inter-professional general assembly of Rennes.
25 October 2010.
We are precarious workers, wage-earners, students or unemployed, currently taking part in the struggle against the pension reform by the Sarkozy government which plans to postpone the legal retirement age and to extend the number of years of contributions to be entitled to a full pension. This measure will lead to the worsening of the living conditions of the precarious sections of the population and a significant advance of the logic of capital valorization. This is in line with the Thatcherite policies pursued by the French government over the last four years, as in most European countries during the 20-year reign of neo-liberal orthodoxy. This politics of social regression (privatisations, wage freezes, cuts in the public sector and in social spending) is all the more harshly felt because of the 2008–2009 recession (and its trail of mass redundancies) which, far from leading to a revision of the neo-liberal dogmas, was able to justify a new round of austerity plans at the expense of the working class.
In many countries such as Greece and Britain, governments no longer hesitate to announce sharp cuts in wages and pensions while they spend tens of billions to save banks. Everywhere, measures that are beneficial to the bourgeoisie are on the increase: “tax shields”; ultra-precarious contracts under which the employer’s exempted from tax, when he’s not exempted from wages too; simplified lay-off procedures; restrictions on the right to strike and criminalization of social movements. Everywhere, they try to divert popular discontent onto scape goats: the Roma, the Arabic, the Unemployed-who-do-not-want-a-job will be the perfect culprits. Everywhere, this Europe that was built on the myth of a continuous social and cultural progress, guaranteed by the institutions, is in the process of recreating the unwanted proletariat it thought that it had assimilated. The peace between the European countries has as a double side effect the exporting of the conflicts around the optimal exploitation of resources outside the continent, and the cooperation of all the petty lords of the European economy against everything that goes against its laws, be it popular resistance or social welfare schemes. At the same time as protection walls are raised against migrants, they continue to import that part of the work force whose function is to carry out the work that the “native Europeans” no longer want, and to export the industries that can cheaply exploit the other part of the work-force which is confined there by the multinationals of Fortress Europe.
Against this disheartening situation, the events of last spring in Greece paved the way for a counter-offensive on a European scale. But the strategy of the trade unions, timorous to say the least, and the sudden halt in the revolt caused by the tragic event at the Marfin bank, postponed until now the resumption of an open contestation. As for us, subordinates of France PLC, since 2003 (the previous movement against another pension “reform”) we’ve gotten used to the strategy, which was doomed to fail, of limited “days of actions”, scattered in time. After a month of conflict, the rank and file of the unions is now in favor of an unlimited and generalized strike. According to a recent poll, the majority of the population wishes a “radicalization” of the movement in the face of another inflexible government. We all remember the movement of the students and high school children of the spring of 2006, the so-called “anti-CPE” movement, which was partly successful, and which established the economic blockade as a form of struggle, in addition to striking and demonstrating. In most big cities, at the same time as universities on strike were blockaded and occupied for several weeks and mass demonstrations regularly ended in clashes, the strikers used the tactic of blockading the roads, the department stores, the train stations and the airports, as well as post sorting offices and bus terminals. At the end, the bosses union (the MEDEF) begged one other “inflexible” government to show a flexibility that would allow the resumption of normal economic activities. The CPE law was withdrawn (but not the law of which it was only a part).
Nowadays, it isn’t a coincidence that the audacious experiments of the 2006 movement appear as the elemental modes of actions of the most active tendencies in the struggle against the current government project. In Rennes, the department stores are targeted in every demonstration. The most resolute strikes affect oil refineries and depots among other things. The strikers at Marseille, a true avant-guard of the movement, paralyze the harbor and impose on their city the rhythm of the movement. The train drivers are also on the front line, and the lorry drivers have joined the movement. We know that the more we trust our own force, the more our joyful determination becomes contagious. The images of the flying pickets in Barcelona last September, that forced all the shops to close during the day of general strike, probably played a role in the will to systematize these practices. We know that in order to win, we must be able to counteract the government’s current strategies, which consist in waiting for the deterioration of the conflict and the use of techniques of intimidation. This can particularly be seen in the increase in the of police violence: several young demonstrators badly injured hundreds of arrests and outrageous sentences (for example, prison sentences for putting a bin on fire), the use of truncheons and tear gas to clear traffic blockades as a now common practice. Added to this use of violence, the right to strike is totally disregarded (workers in the petrochemical industry being requisitioned and threatened with harsh sentences if they refuse)
In our opinion, what is now needed is a massive use of this weapon, the economic blockade. By such means, the unemployed and precarious workers who do not have access to a stable and permanent workplace can participate in the pressure built up by “traditional” workers against the dividends of the bosses. Economic blockade, as a technique to intensify the strike, is nevertheless a means that is accessible to all. If a strike (of wage-earners, of students, schoolchildren, the “strike” against forced integration of the unemployed and the precarious people) frees up time and attention from their customary subordination to the economic circuits, economic blockade makes it possible to use fully the time that is thereby freed for the disruption of these same circuits, which are run by the powers against which we fight, and to disrupt them in a far more reliable manner than the peaceful demonstrations which have absolutely no effect on them ( let’s mention for example the great business done by the fast food industry during the “days of actions”). In an integrated economy, which affects everything through its flows of capital, commodities and information, the economic blockade allows the generalisation of the impacts caused by a strike that is until now limited to a few sectors. What’s more, it can create the possibility of encounters between the strikers who come to blockade a workplace and the wage-earners of this same workplace who are by this action encouraged to join the movement. Striking itself can be directly considered as a weapon in the blockading of the economy, which helps the movement to keep going; and such a strike needn’t be indefinite (it’s tough on workers to strike for too long at once): go-slow strikes, rolling strikes, strikes which paralyze certain “key” sectors or positions which can be supported financially by others.
Clearly, the success of this movement, be it symbolical or incomplete, can only come from this: that each collective of struggle, each local union, each group of militants, friends, colleagues, parents, whether formal or informal, at the same time as it tries to coordinate with others, gives itself the liberty to constitute its own flying picket. Such forms of availability to the struggle would be totally compatible with moments of slow-downs when we could take the time to organize materially, to share a meal together, and to share ideas, songs or experiences… In a period in which the government does not hesitate to use police intervention or the threat of prison sentences to break the picket lines and force the resumption of work, the fact of being ready to move quickly, of being able to gather as quickly as possible in one point to constitute a mass that can not be flushed out, as well as spreading to block the metropolis at ten different places at the same time, is in our opinion the only truly coherent way to “become involved” (to use the union slogan), the best use of the time freed by the strike.
As we come closer and closer to a fuel shortage, the question of which are the priority targets for the blockade seems already solved: refineries, oil depots, roads and rails, department stores, distribution platforms. We’d also point out how interesting blockades which contribute to the spreading of the situation outside the national ghetto are. For example, let’s think about tourism, which constitutes one of the main profitable economic sectors of our museum-continent: luxury hotels and restaurants, big cultural shows, luxury consumption… It’s interesting, too, to call on some parts of the media to “deblockade” the flow of information and give a voice to those who are institutionally deprived of one. Let’s think, too, about the “business districts” of our metropolis, which could spread to the all world the bad reputation of their badly colonized “provinces”…
Belgian train workers, Castilian steelworkers, Marsellaise dockers, Greek couriers, temporary workers, precarious and unwanted people from everywhere, your struggle is ours. Everywhere, we need to respond with solidarity and in a coordinated way to all attacks coming from any of our national oligarchs, who are more or less in connivance with European bankers and commissioners.
For the end of the counter-reforms and austerity plans, for the improvement of our living conditions, for a policy that welcomes and shows solidarity to the migrants and proletarians of all countries, let’s create, everywhere, struggle committees, inter-professional general assemblies, brigades of flying pickets that are increasingly coordinated beyond the borders. Let’s block the Europe of capital, let’s open up Fortress Europe, let’s get rid of all the Sarkozys, Merkels, Barrosos and other Berlusconis!
Unlimited general strike! Stop the economy!”
Filed under: war-machine | Tags: bosses, Enemies, enmity, IEF, instead of an introduction, Institute for Experimental Freedom, non-ideological, police, rapists
From the IEF Blog:
“The Institute for Experimental Freedom is proud to announce the release of “Enemies We Know.” This project was originally intended to be a 4-part poster series, and will be released in this medium as well. However, after careful consideration and reflection, these short texts are currently being released as an easily reproducible pamphlet—designed with high contrast black and whites, easy readability, and succinct critical messaging. This pamphlet serves the purpose of an “instead of an introduction,” and because it is not designed to spread ideology, it focuses on clarifying who and what are our enemies, rather than what is our program. The three known enemies that are the subjects of this pamphlet are “Police,” “Bosses,” and “Rapists.” Each is examined from their functional role within the environment they serve and exposed as an amorphous set of practices rather than a substance. Our intention is not to merely name the enemy—who doesn’t know know the name of that occupying force in blue? Rather, our intention is to elaborate an analysis of what function each realizes, and how they can be disarmed, undermined and neutralized. In a world of such confusion, it’s nice to know certain truths.
If you don’t like the “IEF” brand and contact on the back or you wish to add your own, use Adobe Acrobat or another PDF editing program to digitally edit it (for Acrobat: tools, advanced editing, touch up object tool), or simply white it out during production. Even though, it would be more satisfying to leave anonymous letters to potential comrades, we concluded its more beneficial at this time—a time without clear escape routes—to direct a reader toward some signal that they are not alone.
After considering the social and political environment you occupy, leave this pamphlet anonymously at potential points of encounter (the cliché and historical points: cafés, bookshops, colleges, record stores, and bars).
Enemies We Know
With love; in struggle,
The Institute for Experimental Freedom”
The following text, published in French on the morning on Monday the 18th of October, is an effective summary of events in the development of the struggle against pension reform up to that date. Other materials will supercede it rapidly, but it will retain, one trusts, some of its interest – as a document of its moment, collecting the detritus of the first week of movement and displaying it for discussion. One hopes it might support serious conversation elsewhere in the world, too. Not tremendously pretty but readable PDF.
Survey of the first week of indefinite strike, blockades and other small pleasures, preceded by an incomplete analysis of the current situation
Here’s a first, inexhaustive survey of the strikes, actions, sabotage, occupations, lootings, slogans and other happy circumstances [joyeuesetes] of this first week of indefinite strike all through the French terrain, which are most often the work of workers, lycéens, or of autonomous groups. There are also accounts of a few episodes of police and judicial repression.
The practice of subversion and direct action seems to have established itself amongst some fractions of French society [parties de la societe]. Each cell of revolt [foyer de revolte] has been demonstrating a degree of ingenuity in blocking the economy and fucking around with the mighty. [emmerdes les puissants] often with an enthusiasm overflowing with anger and cheerful melees; but often moderated and dammed up by unionist bureaucrats or self-appointed police [informelles].
A dumb list struggles to account for the globality [globalité] of the situation, but it can contribute to such an account. Most of the notices were issued via the site Le Jura Libertaire, but not all of them; and there’s no doubt that many actions have gone unreported, and even those reported are by their very nature incomplete. It often repeats facts already processed by the media one time or more, often by the capitalist media – and so in chunks emptied of their content and their signification. Such a list reifies every particular event – but hopes to give a new signification to them all together.
It’s much too soon to start a critical analysis of the movement, so only brute facts are described. Still, we’re not yet past the moment in which it’s possible to act, so it’ll be interesting to identify the present strong points of the movement, its weaknesses, and above all the particular forces which are undertaking the grandest subversions, and therefore the grandest perspectives of change. A first question shall therefore be: on which elements [composantes] of the movement must we, as revolutionaries, act – encourage or stymie[enrayer] – to realise a maximum nullification [nuire au maximum] of the existent order?
But it’s certainly easier to respond to the following: which elements are the most conservative? Which are the ones who bear in themselves most the organisational schemas of the present, and which impede or check the process of a radical change?
The lycéens and other youths are certainly the snappiest of all [or 'most commanding', qui font le plus fi], and the one who command respect in the present order: not a few amongst them are fighting the cops, pillaging shops, sacking their school-prisons, attack the screws and the administation, ignoring the bureaucrats which try to make them stick to their miserable whining… The State and capital may surrender at any moment, and it would suffice to furnish them in due course a few supplementary compensations to mask the misery of their existence, in order to stop up the holes through which the void gets too conspicuous; all the while violently reprimanding the most recalcitrant. Judicial by repression has already started its infernal ballet of condemnations.
The workers are those of whom the present order has the most need: they produce each day the quasi-totality of this world. They produce it for the profit of a class which dominates and organises society. They’re forced to produce it against themselves, at the price of their own exclusion. They’re constrained by a formidable power of illusion which masks the reality of their condition: the ideology of the commodity, the ideology of labour, the Spectacle, whatever one calls it. In the movements of contestation, some of these illusions are reproduced by those who participate in order to maintain their submission within the revolt itself. The strategy of a revolutionary deployment [démarche revolutionnaire] is therefore to identify, to encourage, and reinforce those tendencies and initiatives which, within the movement, are furthest along in detaching themselves from these illusions, if not already struggling against them. It must struggle against these illusions by deconstructing them along theoretical lines, and at the same time must orient itself – on practical lines – towards the domination which individuals and organisation exercise in the name of these daily-repeated lies. Looking for such types it’s easy to identify and to point out the unionist bureaucracy as a major brake on, if not the principal obstacle to, mass subversion; but of the same type are the more or less bureaucratic – and totally ineffective – organisations, whose business plan consists in reheating in a microwave old, pseudo-revolutionary ideologies, Trotskyism, anarchism and others. These ones dressing us up for a forced march culminating in a fixed battle, the others dumping us into inaction and burying us in inconsequential slogans.
One of the battlefields where domination and its real contestation are engaged is the definition of the antagonisms. For us it’s a question of refounding the pseudo-distinction between pacifists and casseur into an opposition between partisans of the present organisation of life and partisans of a global transformation. For many this transformation has already begun in reality. These last few days we’ve been able to hear in the capitalist media the waged commentators declaring, knowingly or otherwise, that the decision to strike isn’t something undertaken with good cheer, but that it’s sometimes necessary. They’re trading on the image of the martyed worker working for the good cause. Who’d believe such an absurdity? Which striking worker could seriously agree, who’s overturning the daily gloom in the disruption of routine, who experiments in the self-organisation and concrete solidarity that arises amongst perfect strangers, the subversion and chatter around the picket lines? Who, indeed, could believe that the addition of two years to the year that pensions start is a motive worth such a revolt, amongst people who’ve already implicitly accepted the sacrifice of 40 years of their life to work? Would you revolt when they told you you had to wait patiently for 2 more minutes at the doctor’s, after having come to terms with waiting for 40? But isn’t this [serait-ce] already the 40 years of salaried slavery that these thousands of guys refuse and throw up? The slightest aggravation of their mode of exploitation is the visible, “reasonable” pretext that they’ve been taught to exhibit to justify the least revolt, as if they had to account for themselves to those who provoke them.
The task consists from now on in bringing to light the implicit reasons of the realm of desire, which are the real motors driving the movement of contestation. The first factory occupied by the workers will be the model of all the others. Equally, the comportment of the lycéens in the last few days must become an example – amongst a few others – for the workers to follow. In acting thus they say nothing other than: nothing that exists is respectable. The dominant class only gets this kind of identification. Let’s give them reasons to flip out.
The qualitative leaps of contestation on October the 12th, 2010
CAEN: 2000/2500 demonstrators in front of the headquarters of MEDEF in the middle of the afternoon. Eggs and stones thrown. Police respond with teargas. Bins and palettes burnt. (CNT)
SAINT-NAZAIRE: Two hours of confrontation in the streets near the sub-prefecture. 500 people confront the police. They find projectiles on a building site. (Journo-cops). Charges and beatings. 15 arrests. (Indymedia). Verdicts from the court appearances the next day: two month, mandatory, immediate sentences for two rioters.
MONTELIMAR: Sacking of the office of the UMP Deputy Mayor as well as other municipal offices by a hundred people issuing from the demo. (Journo-cops.)
ROUEN: A few heated exchanges between cops and Renault workers – amongst others – trying to gain access to MEDEF (Indymedia report.)
RENNES: Stoppages in the lycées and forced closure of the big stores at a shopping centre (Virgin, Eurodif, Credit Agricole) by the striking lycéens, unemployed and workers. (Indymedia).
NANCY: A student taps a cop lightly – 4 arrests. (Journo-cops)
CHARENTE, IN CHASSENEUIL, BARBEIEUX AND COGNAC: blockades on the motorways. Thousands of the flat-footed are blocked. The industrial zone at Nersax shall be quite without its supplies for the day. (Journo-cops.)
PARIS: Manif sauvage after the arrival of the big demo at Bastille. Games of cat and mouse, projectile exchanges. One arrest. (Indymedia)
PARIS: Scrap at Bastille. Charge and counter-charge to liberate two guys in the course of being snatched by the cops. Bin-fires.
SARLAT (DORDOGNE): After the demo of 1800 people, a hundred deposited themselves in the town hall.
The qualitative leaps of contestation on October the 13h, 2010
LE MANS: Blockade of the ringroad at Le Mans all morning. Demonstration of a strong will to reunite public and private on the same front.
LYCÉES IN THE OISE VALLEY:
*ARGENTUIL: A head-teacher is hit by stones on their way towards the cops. A vain attempt to penetrate a shopping centre. A clothes-store looted. The mayor, flipping out, calls on the lycéens to make contact with the unions and political parties.
*SARCELLES: A head-teacher is gassed by a few students.
AUCH: Flashpoints in front of the prefecture. The cops fired gas and charged the rear of the interprofessional-lycéen demo (8000 people).
SAINT-QUENTIN: Since Thursday October the 7th many lycéen demonstrations have turned into confrontations. Many cops, amongst whom the Commissioner, wounded. Cars overturned and burned, bins too, and a few journalists assaulted. 23 arrests. (Journo-cops.) The cops thanked the CGT for their stewarding during the demo of the 12th.
MEAUX: Confrontations between adolescents and cops, stones thrown. Arrests for insulting the police [outrage]‘ and the throwing of projectiles “on the edge” of the lycéens demo. Manif sauvage without banners. Cat and mouse with the cops. A municipal police-car attacked. Wooden slats used as weapons.
FRANCE: Around 200 lycées are blocked or severely disrupted. (lycéen bureaucrats)
*Blockade of Holtzheim sorting office from 5 am by workers on a rolling strike.
*Roadblocks by militants of SUD in the morning.
*An action opening the toll-gates at Shwindvatzheim by workers and students for 50 minutes (police ultimatum.)
*Strong solidarity between students and workers. Interprofessional General Assembly.
ROUEN: Blockades of bridges and of an industrial estate by workers and students.
LE HAVRE: Strikers interrupt and perturb a UMP meeting.
Evolution of the contestation on October the 14h, 2010
DONGES (44): The General Assembly of the refinery workers vote for a rolling strike until next Monday (the 18th) at 1pm. Total suspension of production. Interaction between different sectors [Passerelle entre les corpos] (a professor intervened in their GA). (capitalist TV)
8 REFINERIES are blocked out of 12 in the entire country. (capitalist TV)
BASSENS (next to BORDEAUX) : blockade of the petrol depot at Ambes.
MARSEILLES: The port’s still blocked (since the 27th of September) and petrol shortages start in the region’s stations.
MARSEILLE: Bin workers are on strike in many parts of the city. Rubbish is building up in the streets.
FRANCE: 400 lycées are disrupted. (Cop estimate) Confrontations with police took place at Toulouse, Saint-Denis and Sarcelles. (capitalist TV) The cops badly injured a lycéen, who was hospitalised.
Le HAVRE: Publication of a journal which is the expression of the striker’s General Assembly (strong influence of unionist bureaucrats all the same). Many businesses extend the strike: Total, CIM, SNCF, Chevron, EDF, Foure Lagadec, La Poste, France Telecom-Orange, Debri, Education nationale, Petrochemical, Sidel.
MONTREUIL: A kid’s gravely injured in the eye during confrontations in the course of the eviction of an occupied lycée. At the lycée J. Jaures the cops entered the establishment and fired flashballs in the area (emailed statement from the Jura Libertaire)
LILLE: Blockade for an hour of Lille-Flanders station by the train drivers (until the cops arrived.) (Journo-cops).
NORD-PAS-DE-CALAIS: The workers stop work at 30 industrial enterprises near Valenciennes (Alstom-Bombardier): metallurgy, chemistry, food procession and textiles. Some call for a rolling strike. Many short work-stoppages of one to three hours per day. The workers at Gravelines nuclear centre call for one hour of stoppage per day. Some express their will to unite their force with that of the teachers of the region.
France, confrontations between cops and lycéens (and non-lycéens!)
*NIMES: Violent confrontations and cars burnt. 5 cops injured.
*MONTPELLIER: Confrontations and burning barricades.
*LYON: Many manifs sauvages and confrontations.
*BOURG-EN-BRESSE: Manif sauvage and small, dispersed groups, who harass over-ridden cops.
*LENS: 4 arrests after confrontations.
*BELFORT: An arrest after confrontations.
*BESANCON: Flare-ups with the cops.
*LILLE: Cars burned and tipped over during the strike.
BEZIERS: Sabotage of the gas and electricity supplies of a senator.
MONTPELLIER: Voluntary cutting-off of gas and electricity to the MEDEF building, and public evocation of the possible re-establishment of electricity and gas for those who’ve fallen behind on their payments [???]
CHAMBERY: Confrontations between cops and lycéens in front of the lycées. Many arrests.
FOURMIES: A cop injured in a lycéens demo. 3 detentions without charge [garde a vue]/ Aggressions against ‘personnel’ by the lycéens..
CHAMPTOCE-SUR-LOIRE (MAINE-ET-LOIRE): Rolling strike at PCM (metallurgy, petrol pumps and food). 90% on strike out of 200 workers. (Journo-cops.)
CHARTRES (EURE-ET-LOIRE) 5 detentions without charge [gardes a vue] of lycéens for paving cops and for having thrown a bottle of acid. (Journo-cops.)
*Blockade of the tax office (by whom?)
*Blockade of a shopping centre and of a “strategic” roundabout. (2 or 3000 lycéens, students and precarious ones.)
*Blockade of the bypass by the same bunch.
*Extension of the strike at SNCF. (Indymedia.)
ROUEN: The post-workers block the sorting office with the help of train drivers and students. Then an interprofessional cortège which tried to occupy the broadcasting tent of Europe 1 to broadcast messages, without success. Eggs thrown at the robocops. The CGT soundsystem-truck drags the demo away from its collectively decided route. Then a blockade of a petrol depot in the afternoon.
*Meeting in front of the town hall of Voynet linked to the squat evictions.
*Manif sauvage at Porte de Montreuil. Stones and fireworks [Caillassage et fusees] against the cops, who flip out.
*Manif sauvage of lycéens. Little bust-up with the UNEF who finish by leaving, having managed all the same to prevent the occupation of Montparnasse station.
SAINT-NAZAIRE: Flying pickets [tournée de debrayages] of the lycées in the morning followed by the blockading of a commercial zone by an interprofessional assembly. (Indymedia.)
ROUND ABOUT PARIS: 45 arrests in the Oise Valley after assemblies and lycée blockades. Confrontations with the police, tear gas, bottles, and looting of materials in the area of the Mureux lycée too. Similar events at AUBERGENVILLE, ENGHIEN, TAVERNY, ARGENTUIL, SARCELLES. (Journo-cop)
Contestation on Friday 15th October, 2010.
STRASBOURG : Renewal of strike of the urban community workers and some railway workers who fear the remain the only truly solid force in the movement. Calls for lycéens and students to enter the movement en mass. Reichstat refinery on rolling strike and under blockade.
BEASANCON : Some teachers begin spontaneous strike after a police charge on their students blocking the street. No arrests. (Journa – Cops)
LILLE : 2nd occupation of the Lille Flandre train station by SNCF and EDF workers.
FOS – SUR – MER : The cops free up an important site of petrol stock (as happens at Bassen and Cournon d’Auvergne) but four more are blocked at the same time.
LE MANS : Blockage of a Z.I. (why and how not known.)
TOURS : All lycées blocked, as is the petrol depot.
NANCY – VANDOUEVRE : Unemployed and causal workers ‘sow disorder’ in the employment and training centre. [Village de l’Emploi et de la Formation – job centre?]
ENGHEIN : New confrontations between young people and the cops. 38 GAV
4:00 : Blockage of petrol depot by personnel and others.
8:00 : Road block by students – Trees and tyres burnt.
11:00 : Blocage of Mathilde bridge by 2,000 people after a demo and confrontation with cops. Projectiles used. At least 1 arrest. (Indymedia.)
DIJON- A twelve month sentence imposed for throwing a bottle during lycée demo.
SCZIONZIRT (HAUTE – SAVAGE): Sabotage of video surveillance in the Crozet quarter for several nights. Stones liven-up the police station.
BORDEAUX – 6 GAV at a lycée demo for ‘degradation, violence and breach of the peace [outrage]. (Indymedia.)
TOULOUSE – Throwing of Molotov cocktails Friday and Saturday night in Empalot quarter. The minor who has escaped (fait la belle ) a tribunal during his transfer was found again by the police in the quarter where he was hiding. He is accused of violence against a cop and of having resisted arrest at a demo on the 12th.
Contestation on Saturday 16th October, 2010.
CHARELVILLE– For the first time since the start of the movement, intersyndicate call for
a rolling general strike to start on Monday 18th.
Contestation on Monday October the 18th, 2010
EVRY: Vandalism in a shopping centre (no further details).
Le MANS: Blockade of a petrol depot since Sunday evening by truckers.
AVIGNON-NORD: Truckers installed a permeable roadblock [roadblock filtrage] at a motorway toll-booth to rally other PL [?] to their cause.
SOUTH OF THE PARISIAN SUBURBS: Go-slow [operation escargot] on the A6.
STRASBOURG: Occupation of the offices of the university President and of the administration of the uni. Call for the occupation of the unis in France, and of their administrative infrastructure. Expression of their will to abolish “presidential power within the universities,” to occupy all the workplaces, to stop the flux, to struggle against the State and capital.
TOURCOING: Violent confrontations between cops and lycéens. Cars burnt.
FRANCE: 2500 service stations are running dry, or close to (out of 12,500 in the country.)
FRANCE: 260 lycée blocked according to the State, 850 according to the lycéen bureaucrats.
NANTERRE: Ranged battle between youths and cops.
BORDEAUX-CARBON-BLANC: Blockade of a distribution-point for fresh products to the Auchan supermarkets of the south-west since yesterday evening at 8pm.
BREST: Blockade of a petrol depot since 4am by workers and students; de-blocked during the day by the cops.
FRONTIGNAN (HERAULT, PRES DE SETE) : Blockade of a petrol depot by workers and students.
REFINERIES: Extension of the strike in all the refineries.
SAINT-PRIENT (RHONE): Blockade of a petrol depot by truckers, and go slow.
LILLE: Go-slow [VL & PL???].
ANGERS: Permeable roadblock on a motorway.
TOULOUSE: 4am: blockade of a bus depot by train- and tram-drivers. De-blocked at the end of the morning (how?)
TOURS: blockade of a petrol depot at Saint-Pierre-des-Corps by truckers. Attempt at interprofessional reinforcements.
PORT-LA-NOUVELLE (AUDE): Blockade of a petrol terminal by truckers and train drivers.
CAEN AND OUISTREHAM: Blockade of two petrol depots.
LORIENT (MORBIHAN): Blockade of the access to a petrol depot – which is itself under control of the cops – by truckers and dockers.
BIARRITZ: Motorway toll-gates opened [operation péage gratuit] by truckers.
MULHOUSE: Blockade of the PSA factory by several dozens of workers (out of 10,000 employed there.)
NANTES: Youths burn and smash up several cars during a manif sauvage from lycée to lycée.
NANTES: Binmen start a 48-hour strike. Permeable roadblock and palette-fire in the centre of town.
LYON: Riots of lycéens and other youths who make use of molotov cocktails. Cars are tipped up, bins burnt. The cops are overrun by the dispersion of simultaneous actions. 16 arrests. (Journo-cops.)
ROUEN: A cop car is paved during a lycéen demonstration. Bus stops smashed and cars overturned.
PARIS: Deployment of industrial stocks of fuel to relieve the shortages: enough for 30 days of consumption, plus 90 days of “strategic stocks.” (presse terroriste).
GARD ET HERAULT: Occupation of train stations by strikers. Paralysis of the trains between Nimes, Montpellier and Beziers from 7 am.
ENVISIONING OF THE INTERVENTION OF THE ARMY TO MAKE REQUISITIONS IN THE REFINERIES by a journocop from AFP to Frederic Lefebvre who left his approbation hanging, not explaining further.
RENNES: Vote in a general assembly to blockade the faculty of Rennes 2 by a small majority. Announcement of an administrative closure for the rest of the week.
SAINT-DENIS: Blockade of Paul Eluard lycée, burnt cars, disorder. Cops deployed a helicopter.
UNIVERSITIES BLOCKED: Pau, Caen…
UNIVERSITIES UNDER ADMINISTRATIVE CLOSURE: …
LYON: Suspended sentences of two or three months for benign acts (standing on a car and resisting arrest.)
FRANCE: 290 people arrested in the course of the day.
FRANCE: Total stoppage of the 12 refineries in the evening.
MONTBELIARD: lycéen demonstrations and confrontations. 350 masked people. 4 detentions without charge [garde a vue] for disorder, insulting the policew [outrage], and violence against the police.
FRANCE: No publication of the daily national papers today, Tuesday the 19th.
FLAMANVILLE: Voluntary reduction in production a the nuclear centre after the general assembly vote on monday morning. (200 people out of 650 workers.) A 48-hour strike was decided for as well.
-Tuesday the 19th October, 2010. 4am and 14 minutes”
Filed under: war-machine
An excerpt from a BBC article:
“Every morning for the last 10 days, the headmaster at the Lycée Sophie-Germain in the desirable Marais district of Paris has arrived to find a pyramid of rubbish containers piled up against the entrance to the building.
Student leaders take it in turns to climb to the top of the pyramid and harangue their friends with talk of strikes and blockades. Those wishing to attend school are turned away.
The story of the “lycée under siege”, and its “suffering headmaster” Michel Vaudry, was told in Le Monde newspaper.
“The worst day was the first, Tuesday, when about 50 troublemakers came, some with death-masks on, some in hoods or with their faces hidden. They attacked us with an almost military precision,” Mr Vaudry said.
“They forced us against the entrance with the container-bins, which we were trying to remove, then they started flinging bins and barriers right in our faces … We had to take refuge inside the school.”
On another occasion, Mr Vaudry said he was confronted by a young man who was not from the lycée but was clearly organising the protests.
The man took his ground in front of the headmaster and said: “I can’t work out what it is that is stopping me planting my fist in your face!”
What is it that makes French students revolt so?”
Filed under: war-machine | Tags: attack, austerity measures, burning, caussers, France, fuel shortage, general strike, high school, police, riot police, riots, students, unions
“Despite the colder weather, and the increasing lack of petrol, the social movement is heating up, fueled by fun, fire and fury. “Operation Snails’ Pace”, strikes, mini-riots, schools blockades, General Assemblies, occupations, and today the 4th 24 hour “General” Strike since 7th September …but where is it all going? What contradictions aren’t being confronted? Read on…
Lorry drivers yesterday joined the movement, with the explicit aim of “blocking the economy”. They have been launching “Operation Snails’ Pace” (going slow on major roads and motorways) around Lille, Toulouse, Lyon, Bordeaux, south of Paris, Tours, Frontignan, Arras, various parts of Normandy and lots of other places – officially there were 30 “go-slows” around 15 different towns yesterday. This, on the day before the Union-called “General” Strike called for today, Tuesday October 18th: “General” is in inverted commas because clearly there’ve been loads of people who have worked in those sectors which have officially come out on strike. Some of these ‘go-slows’ lasted only 20 minutes, but others for several hours. Ordinary cars go-slow in the fast lane, because big lorries aren’t allowed there.
Various petrol depots have been blockaded. Despite the government claiming on Sunday that only 200 petrol stations have closed down, the organisation responsible for producing petrol station statistics said yesterday – Monday – that 1500 have closed; and the amount of petrol stations that have run out of Unleaded 95 or Unleaded 98 must be a great deal more than that. This shortage is as much to do with the refineries’ strikes and blockades as with the dockers strike which has left at least 60 tankers stuck in the Mediterranean, unable to embark.
Lycees continue to be blocked (officially – ie Ministry of Miseducation figures – 260, but 600 according to UNL – the Union Nationale de Lyceens).
There have been mini-riots and stand-offs with the CRS in at least 5 towns – Nanterre just outside Paris, Lyon, Lille, Mulhous and Borges. So-called “casseurs” (literally “breakers”: see this text from 1994 in English “Nous sommes tous des casseurs”) have been attacking this and that all over the country, sometimes intelligently, sometimes indifferently, sometimes stupidly and sometimes really nastily.
In Marseille the binmen have been on strike for over a week (joining the dockers and the refinery workers). The rubbish is upsetting the tourists, who are anxious to consume the new gentrified areas, brought in by artists and the construction of a modern tramway, free from the stench of revolting proles. The mayor is also upset. Marseille is already preparing for the year it becomes the Cultural Capital of Europe in 2013. With Ryanair withdrawing from its airport base there, giving the term ‘capital flight’ an almost literal meaning, the project of bringing in the punters from the four corners of the globe could well be grounded. All that glorious regeneration of a nice cleaned up surface, designed to reduce all sense of a past into a souvenir photo, could be destroyed by radical subversion. A binman said, “We’re the proletariat, we can’t just sit and twiddle our thumbs.” Though this possibly comes from an old-style CP-influenced guy, in the atmosphere of Republican ideology where everyone is encouraged to describe themselves as a “citizen”, this is a refreshing reminder of a basic socially antagonistic truth. A 16 year old from Marseille, Sarah Jlassi, added “This has gone beyond pensions, it’s about our unjust, divided society.” (The Guardian today). Though this is certainly at the centre of the movement, youths in the media and on the street, from whatever background, are constantly saying how stressed their parents are after work, how consequently they can’t communicate with them.
A few years back, the mayor brought in the army to clear the rubbish. Whether he does so again, in the current more generalised climate of class war remains to be seen, but he could encounter more frustration than merely Ryanair’s O’Leary playing hard to get. Certainly in the longer term – the overtly ‘radical milieu’ there has long been organising against gentrification and the cultural rubbish that’s going to fill the streets in less than a bit over 2 years time (a translation of this text on art and gentrification has become very popular there over the last 18 months).
In Languedoc-Roussillon, where I live:
Nimes (Gard county), all the lycees closed, and there were sit-ins at the prefecture.
Ales (also the Gard) – a blockade of the railway lines, with fires to keep warm.
Firemen were on strike throughout the Gard, only answering the most urgent calls.
In Perpignan, 150 strikers blocked a petrol depot for 4 hours, with tyres burning all over the roads. A train driver supporting the blockade said on telly, “This is not just about retirement but about the whole future of this society”, though the different ways of understanding the implications of that are about as many as there are people who feel the same way. 200 teachers occupied a local state institution (didn’t catch what it was). A firetruck was attacked with stones.
In Frontignan, near Sete, 300 train drivers and truck drivers, plus others, blocked an oil depot, beginning very early in the dark morning – stopping distribution in 3 counties. A train driver said, “We’re doing this for the future – for our grandchildren”, though they were also clearly doing it for themselves.The cops, preceded by a nicey nicey reasonably-toned Prefet (head of administration for the area) asking for a calm dispersal, unblocked the depot in mid-afternoon without resistance – 300, in a fairly isolated spot, not being enough against cops armed with tear gas and flash balls. However, the expulsion was immediately followed by a mini-General Strike in the Frontignan area.
Aude also had a blockade of an oil depot up till mid-afternoon.
In Montpellier the “concierge” (security/surveillance office) of a lycee was completely wrecked by fire. And many of the windows of this lycee were “broken” (they’re very thick top security windows, so none of them shattered) by 50 or so hooded youths. A teacher, who quite possibly objected to this reasonable attack, had a molotov thrown towards her, without touching or injuring her at all. She called them terrorists. The school was evacuated.
On Friday 15th October, 60 or so youths attacked the blockade of a the top notch lycee in Montpellier (“Joffre”) – the BAC (anti-criminal brigade) and suspected RG (equivalent of Special Branch) cops had been seen in their cars outside, leaving just a minute before the crowd of youths arrived. The youths also attacked “college” (12 – 15 yr olds) students, and went on to attack another school nearby, this time going through the dormitories robbing what they could. A car with a couple in it was overturned outside this school, and apparently a tram driver was stabbed in the hand. A radio journalist told a teenage girl he was interviewing that he had inside information that they’d been manipulated by the police, though he never actually broadcasted any of that (probably for fear of losing his job). Clearly, however, the degradations of life on the estates and the gang mentality that survival engenders, means that some youths don’t really need to be manipulated – they see everything in terms of a dog eat dog world, and it will take some considerable risk of a dialogue between those who identify with and participate in a more general social movement and these more nihilistic but utterly directionless youths to shift this to the advantage of both. Certainly moralistic finger-wagging is the last thing that will influence any change in this area: it’s part of the world they rightly hold in contempt, but cannot see or struggle or really want to find any way out of. This is not helped by the catch-all condemnations of anything that involves violence as “casseurs who’ve got nothing to do with the movement”. The local press was full of condemnation of these acts (though some of the worst, surprisingly, weren’t reported) but when the headmaster of Lycee Joffre pushed the gate onto the hand of a blockading school student and broke his wrist, this was played down as an ‘accident’. At another school in town, an anti-blockade teacher on the inside of a gate blockaded on the outside pushed a large barrier (that had been placed on top of the dustbins that are the main structure of lycee barricades) back onto the pavement, narrowly missing seriously damaging the faces of a couple of students. A parent who politely warned the teacher of the dangers of what he was doing was later punched in the face by this teacher. But blanket criticism of “casseurs” is a convenient way of ignoring these contradictions, and of not looking at what is justifiable and what is sick in “casseurs” actions.
Lycee youth chant of the week: “In Parliament the MPs jerk off all day” (it rhymes in French and they sing it).
A lot more could be said, and I haven’t even been to develop the answers to the questions posed in the introduction, but I’ve got to go now. Apologies for the lateness, and insufficiency, of this: internet, computer and personal problems have caused the delay…………”
Filed under: war-machine | Tags: fire, France, fuel blockade, GREVE NATIONALE, lorry drivers, riot, strike