Next Stop: Destitution
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Contrary to all that we’re hearing, the real mystery is not that we revolted, but the fact that we didn’t do it sooner. What’s abnormal is not what we’re doing now, but all that we’ve put up with until now. Who can deny the bankruptcy of the system, from every angle? Who still wants to be shook down, robbed, and left precarious for nothing? Will anyone weep as the wealthy avenues of the 16th arrondissement are plundered by the poor, and the bourgeois watch their gleaming SUV’s go up in flames? As for Macron, he can stop complaining; it was he who asked us to come to him. A state can’t keep legitimating itself by reference to the corpse of a “glorious revolution” and then denounce the rioters as soon as a revolution gets going.
The situation is simple: the people want the fall of the system. But the system intends to keep going. It is this that defines the situation as insurrectional, as even the police openly admit. On their side, the people have the numbers, as well as their courage, joy, intelligence, and naivety. On the other side, the system has its army, its police, its media, and the deception and fear of the bourgeois. Since the 17th of November, the people have had recourse to two complementary levers: economic blockades, and the Saturday assaults on the government districts. These are each complementary, since the economy is the reality of the system, while the government provides its symbolic representation. To truly destitute them both, it is necessary to attack them both. This goes for Paris no less than the rest of the territory: to burn a prefecture and to storm the Elysée are a single and sole gesture. Every Saturday since the 17th of November, people in Paris have been magnetically focused on the same goal: storming the enclaves of government [marcher sur le reduit governmental]. From one week to the next, the only difference lies in (1) the increasing scale of the police apparatus set up in order to prevent it, and (2) the experience accumulated through the previous weekend’s failure. If there are a lot more people with swimming goggles and gas masks this Saturday, it’s not because “organized groups of rioters” have “infiltrated the demonstration.” Rather, it’s because people were gassed extensively the week before, and they drew the same conclusion any sensible person would: better come equipped the next time. And anyway, we’re not talking about demonstrations, but an uprising.
If tens of thousands of people invaded the Tuileries-Saint Lazare-Étoile-Trocadero zone, it was not because of a strategy of harassment that had been decided upon by a handful of small groups. It was a result of the diffuse tactical intelligence possessed by people who had been prevented from achieving their objective by the police apparatus. To criminalize the “ultra-leftists” for attempting to foment an uprising won’t fool anyone: if the ultra-leftists knew how to hijack construction machines and use them to charge the police or destroy a tollbooth, we would have heard about it; if they were so massive in scale, so disarming and brave, we would know that too. The fact is, with its essentially identitarian concerns, the so-called “ultra-left” has been deeply embarrassed by the impurity of the movement of Yellow Vests, plagued by a bourgeois fear of compromising itself by mingling with a crowd that doesn’t belong anywhere within its own categories. As for the “ultra-right”, it is sandwiched between its means and its supposed ends: they sew disorder under the pretext of an attachment to order, they attack the National Police all the while declaring their devotion to the Law and the Nation, they want to behead the republican monarch out of love of a non-existent King. On these points, we will leave the Ministry of the Interior to its absurd rambling. It is not the radicals who are making the movement, it is the movement that is radicalizing people. Does anyone really believe that our government would consider declaring a state of emergency over a handful of ultras?
Those who make an insurrection halfway only dig their own graves. At the point we are at now, and given the contemporary means of repression, we have two choices: either we overthrow the system, or we let it crush us. It would be a grave mistake to underestimate this government’s level of radicalization. Anyone who attempts to mediate between the people and the government over the coming days is destined to be torn apart: none of us want to be represented, we’re all old enough to express ourselves, and to discern who is trying to cajole or recuperate us. And if the government ends up taking a step backwards, this will only prove that we were right to do what we did, that our methods were sound.
This week will therefore be decisive: either we will manage, in ever-greater numbers, to halt the economic machine by blocking its ports, refineries, railway stations, logistics centers, etc., and by really taking-over the governmental enclaves and police stations next Saturday, or we’ve lost. The climate march next weekend has no reason not to join us in the street. After all, its purpose is make clear that those who have led us to the current brink of disaster cannot be counted on to get us out of it. We’re one step away from the breakdown of the governmental machine. Either we will succeed in diverting the course of things over the coming months, or else the foreseeable apocalypse will find itself accompanied by a securitarian backlash the depth and scale of which can already be glimpsed on social media.
The question is as follows: what does it concretely mean to destitute the system in practice? Obviously, it cannot mean electing new representatives, since the bankruptcy of the current regime issues precisely from the bankruptcy of its representative system. To destitute the system means to take over locally, canton by canton, the material and symbolic organization of life. It is precisely the current organization of life that is today in question, that is itself the catastrophe. We must not fear the unknown: we have never seen millions of people allow themselves to die of hunger. Just as we are perfectly capable of organizing ourselves horizontally to set up blockades, we have the capacity to organize ourselves to relaunch a more sensible organization of existence. As revolt is organized locally, so it is at the local level that our solutions will be found. The “national” level is only ever the echo that issues from local initiatives.
We can no longer put up with the endless accountancy of this world. If the reign of the economy is the reign of misery, this is first of all because it is the reign of calculation. The beauty of our blockades, in the streets, and in all that we have been doing for three weeks—already a form of victory in itself—lies in our having stopped counting, the moment we began counting on each other. When the question is that of our common salvation, that of the legal property of the infrastructures of life becomes a mere detail. The difference between the people and those who govern is that the people aren’t a bunch of losers.
Translated by Ill Will