Although by now the Jungle of Calais has been destroyed, these two texts by Paris Sous Tension are still very relevant for understanding the situation of migrants in France today from an anarchist perspective. Many of the migrants were moved from the Jungle to various detention or housing centres, but all of those spaces are temporary and they will soon be back with the others in the camps that appeared or grew following the Calais eviction. In November, several thousand people were evicted from the Stalingrad neighbhourhood of Paris, where a camp had grown on the grassy medians of busy commercial streets. With right-wing politics ascendant here in the lead-up to presidential election in the spring, it is likely that the attitude of the state towards the migrants will harden and that the two strategies described in these articles, repression and management, will take on an increasingly violent character.
A first-hand account of an unpermitted march by the cops in Paris
For the past four days, the police have been illegally protesting in the streets of Paris each night. On Wednesday (October 19, 2016), their meet-up was set for 9:30pm in Republic Square. Some friends decided to go down and show their opposition to the gathering. First off, we were very few, at most fifty, and not nearly enough to confront the growing crowd of police, from 200 to a thousand. Here’s the story of a strange night caught between the state of emergency and the scent of mutiny.
The atmosphere was strange, there in Republic Square, where on one side a rally of Colombians was wrapping up, while on another a Jewish celebration was being held, and where a skatepark has sprung up in the same place where the General Assemblies for Nuit Debout were held this spring.
All the police cars that we watched arrive weren’t there to monitor the march, but rather to take part. Then the mobile gendarmerie got their riot gear out and made several attempts to encircle anyone who looked like a counter-protester.
In this period of war and of generally heightened tension, the unbearable conditions under which we’re made to live are maintained by fear. Fear of losing your job and of coming up short at the end of the month, fear of police, fear of prison. This feeling is driven home by the indefinite extension of the state of emergency and by locking away for ever longer those who remain recalcitrant. And yet, there are so many reasons to revolt against this world of cash and cops, and so no wonder that many people don’t give in to resignation and continue to take action against it all, in small groups or in a crowd, by day or by night.
Because the social war against the deadly rule of state and capital, there can be no truce: attacks against borders, rebellions in jail, escapes from detention centres, sabotage against the construction of airports or of high-tension power lines. Ransacking schools, burning construction equipment or the cables that permit the flow of information and transportation. Destroying campaign offices, riots following yet another police killing, daily hustles to avoid wage slavery… Beyond any law, whether earthly or divine, this routine disorder is able to flourish freely.
[From the first issue of Blasphegme: An anarchist broadsheet on the walls of Paris. It’s been getting pasted up around the city in the past month.
Blasphegme: A neologisme designating a blasphemy delivered in the form of spit (or phlegm) on all religions, whether monotheist or polytheist, whether the religion of the state or of capital, the religion of work or of the ego.
The blasphegme spits in the face of all gods and of all prophets, with no distinction between the various collective delusions that poison us, that keep us in awe of a higher power before which we must kneel.
We still remember those nasty, horrible people who, in 2005, during the three weeks of rioting that rocked the banlieues (1), vandalized “their” schools. Groups of rebels smashed up this idea of schooling, blew apart the framework of social integration (2), set ablaze the whole democratic symbol of a national education. These images were seen around the world and many onlookers were deeply impacted by the scenes of civil war and the reactionary rhetoric of the journalist-cops. There had always been attacks against schools and they haven’t stopped since. Each year, we can count a good twenty of them that get ransacked. These revolts are less visible today than in 2005, but sometimes the ruckus still manages to reach us from the other side of the bars. If we were to really spend five minutes reflecting on what this institution represents, would we be so surprised to see it targeted by those who refuse to submit?
While the end of last year was marked by social problems that caused a bit of trouble for the powerful, the summer of 2016 brought fiery revolts against this world of misery and oppression. First and foremost, these took aim at those who most obviously carry of the violence of the powerful, namely the cops and the gendarmes [military-style police].
While some go off on vacation, others stay trapped in the prison world of the ghettos. On Tuesday July 19 in Beaumont-sur-Oise in Val-d’Oise, Adama Traore was killed by gendarmes while being arrested. To conceal his death by suffocation at the hands of the pigs, the state immediately began talking about “heart troubles … respiratory troubles … pulmonary infections” and so on. Every time some dies in custody, power puts on the same grim spectacle, with the complicity of the media. This time, Beaumont and Persan [two towns in Val-d’Oise] responded with several nights of revolt, during which many municipal and state buildings (police stations, libraries, garages for city vehicles) as well as capitalist infrastructure (gas stations, supermarkets…) went up in smoke or had their windows smashed.
From ediciones chafa
The story of Mr. Molotov. And a bit of naphthalene against the myths.
Following the protests against the [French] Labor Law, on Sept. 15th 2016, the media noted two striking images: that of a protest gone one-eyed (likely caused by a grenade launched by the forces of order); and that of a gendarme mobile [French national police agent] “in flames.”
Reportback on a series of demonstrations this past thursday, September 16. From 6:30 in the morning, high school students were already throwing down. Some short reports are available here: http://www.streetpress.com/sujet/1473952695-lycee-loi-travail-black-bloc
At 11am, there was supposed to be a secret meetup with some high school groups at Nation square, but the cops found out about it: tons and tons of pigs all over the square. While some demonstrators got kettled, about 200 of us (mostly higschool students or youth) regrouped in front of Helene Boucher school on Cours de Vincennes and decided to take the metro to Lyon Station.
A call to break with the electoral circus
(Translated from an anonymous leaflet distributed in the September 15th 2016 demo in Paris. All brackets are translators notes)
There has been much water under the bridge since the Socialist Party (Parti Socialiste, PS — party of French president Hollande) backed down from holding their summer congress in Nantes after a simple call to crash it. This came at the end of four months during which the movement against the “Work!” law (reform to the labour code) managed to dictate the terms and timeline of the debate. Four months during which the many attempts at concealing the real political questions of our present moment by launching the presidential campaign, with it’s clever catch phrases and insignificant revelations, were utterly rejected. It took the summer, the dead-time of the vacation season, and a few terrorist attacks to allow the elites to climb back into the saddle.
From afar (and even within France amongst the young – those who’ve never before directly experienced a nationwide movement) what’s going on seems like the prelude to a social revolution. This tends to make those yearning for a revolution to exaggerate to such an extent what’s going on that some even believe that now is the time to talk of the form and content of workers’ councils; which would be a bit like talking about what your son or daughter is going to call the name of their baby when they’re still a virgin and have only just had their first snog.