Renault car showroom burns, Paris
Paris: 1st May 2018:
Deadlock in action
The following few paragraphs are not the final word. On the other hand, beyond the invectives from one side, in the first rank of which we find the Minister of the Interior, and cries of victory from the other side, among which we count the ineffable site “Lundi Matin” i, these paragraphs try to bring out the facts that make it possible to affirm that the “social movement” is today, until proof to the contrary, at an impasse. As such, the demonstration on May 1st, in Paris, is a brilliant manifestation, including what is presented as its transgression, namely the small amount of violence that just studded its path. A bit of violence in fact because, if the thousand people at the head of the procession had been rioters in the full sense of the term, like those of the deprived suburbs in 2005, there would have been much more destruction than yesterday and even street-fights. And the difficulties faced by the police in restoring order would have been much more serious. Of course, I don’t ignore the anger that drives this or that individual who participated, whether they were hooded or not. In matters of revolt against this world, I have no advice, let alone instructions, to give to anyone. And I do not measure the subversive quality of acts, individual and collective, by the amount of wrecked places and burned vehicles. On the other hand, the distinguishing features and the sense of belonging, as well as the role plays that accompany them do not interest me. Including those specific to professional activists. But yesterday’s demonstration was the focus of all current limitations, including activist forms, which, if not superseded, will lead to out and out failure.
The most obvious symptom of such limitations was the almost total absence of critiques of capitalism and the state, especially the welfare state, with the attendant concentration of criticism on Macron. Even the main banner of the hooded black head procession announced its colors: “Macron puts us in a black rage!” Which was acceptable to the organizers of the union parade. As a result, the critique of trade unionism suffered the same fate. More exactly that of self-proclaimed base unionism, not so much “classist” as “citizenist”, of which SUD has been the archetype for twenty years. In general, such critiques were unwelcome, sometimes even from those in the so-called “Black Blocks”. But, deep down, there is nothing strange about it. In the demonstrations of 2016, against the Labor Law, it was especially the attitude of the back-up troops of the police, played by the demonstration stewards of the central trade unions, headed by the CGT, which was denounced, even by sections within the base unions. Which, reduced to a trickle, comprise, especially in companies such as the SNCF, more and more young people – yesterday they were sometimes still in high school or in university. They are much more open to a neo-syndicalist discourse in the manner of SUD than to a corporatist one like that of the elders of the CGT.
This is one of the reasons why, as a result of SUD, the CGT has begun to change its position, despite the resistance of the last handful of trade unionists of yesteryear who can think only of breaking the “breakers”. As in the days of Krasucki ii. In a position of relative weakness, it has been trying, for the last few years, to draw additional forces from “ultra-leftists” and those associated with them, whom yesterday it had already rejected with violence as enemies. Which is what they were – often much more than today! At least on the part of the libertarians and the autonomous ones. In yesterday’s trade-union procession, it was still possible to glimpse such dinosaurs, who criticized Martineziii‘s leniency towards the “anarchists” and who reproached him for letting them take the lead in the procession. Which dinosaurs were lectured to by the commanders of the demonstration stewards, beginning with those of the horrible Book Federation iv, for their inability to understand the delicate situation of their own trade union group. Of course Martinez paid lip service to a condemnation of the “violence”, but he avoided the usual delusional flights of oratory against the “breakers”, for the reasons indicated above. Last night’s communiqué by the Montreuil trade union section is very clear. The so-called violence is ignored and it welcomes the “convergence in progress”. No more no less.
As a result, what is the so-called transgression from the traditional “sausage & chips” v trade union demonstration carried out yesterday by the so-called “Black Block” which essentially only have in common with those of previous decades, the label that the police attribute to them? In reality, it is a massive fiction, unless we believe that being out of step with the norm on the level of forms of action, correspond to a break in terms of content. This is undoubtedly the case for this or that individual, but, as a mass stuck together around ways for them to recognize each other and activist tics, it is not. Especially since, yesterday, the CGT demonstrations stewards, the same ones who beat up the high school students at the head of processions hardly two years ago, played the role of hotel porter of “Convergence”. Which is welcomed by the site “Paris Lutte Info” ( “Information about Paris Struggles”), the echo chamber of reformist and post–modernist drivel uttered at Tolbiac and elsewhere: “A very confused and animated day, but at certain moments nice connections were made as when the demo stewards of the CGT forced the cop’s cordon to free people cornered on the bridge.” Amen!
What those who are nowadays labelled “black block” do not, as a mass, understand is that the CGT is able, at least in part, to accept and even absorb, sometimes even stimulate, a certain degree of violence when it is needed to regain its prestige, including within its own company sections. Under these conditions, the simple shift of forms of action leads to play, willingly or unwillingly, the role of a boisterous slap, but certainly a slap which attempts at a “recomposition” of the left of the defunct champagne leftists. What appeared yesterday in the full light of day is that the head of the march no longer has any dynamism of its own and that the limits that it had already manifested two years ago, having not been superceded, have become factors in its institutionalization. Behind Deleuzian phrases about “horizontality”, supposedly hostile to the “verticalism” of the traditional parties, the Invisible Leadership (invisible except to police eyes), having organized through informal networking, have understood this well. In this way it plays, behind grotesque phrases and ultimately citizenist analysis on the transformation of May 1st into a “hellish day for Macron”, similar background music as those concocted by the leadership of the proletarian Left in other times but in the same places, but now in considerably less favourable conditions. A role prior to its transformation into a pure apologist for capital and for the state. A word to the wise…
Paris, May 2, 2018
i Site influenced by the Tiquun « Invisible Committee » racket, though more opportunist and populist than them.
iii The current leader of the CGT
iv This is “la Fédération des travailleurs des industries du livre, du papier et de la communication (FILPAC-CGT)” – the Federation of workers in the book, paper and communications industry (FILPAC-CGT), which has also amalgamated with proofreaders. The Union of Proofreaders, behind anarcho-syndicalist appearances, had already been reformist and bureaucratized for a long time. On the eve of its amalgamation with FILPAC-CGT, its main leader was Eric Moreau , “presumed” to have been in Action Direct, the vanguardist armed struggle group of the 1980s. It has a totally corporatist mentality: in the sectors where it intervenes, it even co-manages layoffs. FILPAC, behind a “radical” appearance, has even been involved in the heavy mob of the CGT demo stewards: it was them that high school students got beaten up by two years ago.
v In France for the past 30 years or so, the CGT and other unions often cook and hand out for free merguez sausages and chips on demos, in order to make themselves attractive and as a distribution point for their propaganda.
France, Paris: protesters clash with riot cops … as black blockers from round Europe come for mayday demo. “Along the route of the march they looted and set fire to a McDonald’s restaurant and also torched a car, a mechanical digger and a scooter.” Though it’s obviously fine to trash McDonalds, it’s worth mentioning that McDonalds was trashed in London in 2000. Not much progress in 18 years – these things have become kind of ritualised…