Coronavirus in France

Aspects of the crisis in France

For more ideas and facts about France on this site up until August 2019, click on  this

March 31st 2020

This page may be subject to various changes as information and ideas develop. Every day brings information that often contradicts the previous day’s information. Given this, some people, fearing being wrong,  prefer to resort to generalities that often remain at a banal level. I prefer to give tentative facts and ideas that could help towards overcoming the confusion than avoiding the confusion by hardly saying very much that’s useful

Other reflections on global aspects of this crisis will be put up later

“Do you want to know if you have Corona? Spit on a bourgeois and wait for the results. Solidarity with working women!”

April 11, 2020, around midday, two cops without a warrant, forced their way into the squatted flat in Marseille (pictured above), invoking the state of health emergency, saying  that the banner incites people to spit on each other. Threatened a bit later with at least 10 cops outside (who’d arrived as back-up) breaking into their squat, the inhabitants  felt it advisable to remove the banner (here, including brief video).

See also: Contestavirus, a chronology of recent expressions of opposition to what’s going down throughout the world

And also see this, which has been on this site since the end of January: Coronavirus – an exercise in intensified social control

Making sense of and trying to subvert this new epoch means wading through the nonsense and the blind-spots,  means making sense of both our own anxiety and that of others, unraveling both our own limited understanding and that of others. We have to unravel what is genuine and what is manipulation in this situation – what is genuine fear and what is fake fear in this scary  dystopia, in this – the unreal realised. To get a grip on a situation outside of our grip we have to firstly understand and question our own responses, and those of our friends, family  and contacts to this unprecedented attack on rationality and class consciousness. The incessant production and consumption of confused information about this virus, whether it comes from politicians, scientists, “experts” or even friends overwhelms us with a mass of contradictory notions and facts that reinforce our sense of powerlessness. Gross grotesque exaggeration, speculation and rumour rule. In this state-inflicted state of confusion, most feel that submission to  the state is the only way to survive this viral monster. The state knows best, and, like mummy and daddy, is there to protect you from yourself and others.  And those who want to remain like  kids are being reduced to a gullibility, dependency and impotence that’s largely without precedent…But worse, they’re beginning to increasingly and aggressively resent anybody who’s not utterly gullible, dependent and self–destructively submissive to the state’s manipulation of  fear, both certainly genuine and certainly not.

“Hotel of the future”

The crisis in France

The cops, and the state more generally, have been as insanely meticulous in their application of the new restrictions, in the imposition of unprecedented madness, as in most of the countries that have imposed lockdown.  Nationally, unless for a “good reason”, you’re not allowed to go further than a kilometre from the house and then only for an hour: you have to put the time of leaving on a declaration sheet to be filled out every day (judging by the extraordinarily empty streets, many many people seem not to even have grabbed this one hour of air and exercise, possibly believing that the air is crammed full of the invisible virus).  Officially, you’re not allowed to be in pairs and curfew is applied  in lots of different parts of the country (though not in many villages or small towns ) in various forms, with differing hours depending on the town or city. Marine le Pen wants curfew everywhere, though it seems that some of the more obviously excessive restrictions may well be  lifted in certain regions.
Food and wine shops are generally allowed to open, but you’re meant to keep your visits to the shops down to 2 per week (how they police  this is a mystery, but I guess they don’t need to – people are so frightened they police themselves even to absurd degrees – many seem to think the air itself is full of the virus) .  Cops have been known to search shopping bags to see if a particular shopping trip was, in their opinion,  reasonably necessary, and those post offices that are open can be subject to security guards asking you if the letter you’re posting is really necessary to post. Even though the virus is not carried in water, you’re not allowed to swim – even on your own – in the sea, public swimming pools or rivers. Amazingly, sometimes people are arrested for this. Banks are also open. But most post offices, which are also privatised banks,  are  closed. Whilst  tobacconists  remain open. The ostensible reason is that you can buy stamps there (but why close the post offices?), and that it’s also used by those people without a bank account who can exchange cash for a card there. But there are very  few people  who need to use it for that: though many supermarkets now only accept credit cards, there are also many where you can pay cash through a machine; and virtually  all small food shops accept cash.  Maybe the reason tobacconists are kept open is that they’re  a source of one of the healthiest things this society has to offer – taxes! As we all know, tobacco is the health of the state. Fresh air  (and it genuinely is a lot fresher now) limited to an hour a day, but no such limits for tobacco consumption. But the justification is also that people going cold turkey on a state-forced ban on tobacco sales (supermarkets don’t sell tobacco) would suffer such  withdrawal symptoms in the current circumstances, that all the murders and suicides would be bad publicity. Already worldwide, cases of domestic abuse, and worse,  are rising rapidly.
Of course, in practice, many of the restrictions are applied fairly haphazardly, but it only needs some particularly miserable application of the law to be given publicity and it scares people off: who can afford risking a minimum 200 euro fine (it used to be 135 euros)? Locally, bylaws issued by the mayor can make things even worse.
In Sanary, a fairly small  pretty coastal town on the Côte D’Azur, the  mayor (been mayor for 31 years!) has issued a decree  to prohibit the inhabitants from moving further than 10 meters from their homes, as part of the confinement measures. The only authorized outings will be for shopping –   and even that is to be restricted. Only one baguette per person.  No jogging, no walking the dog,   no going out to buy a newspaper or for any other single item. This, apparently, is to be enforced by just 12 (unless it was a typo on the report I saw) local cops – for a population of over 16,500. The rich who overlook the sea with magnificent views won’t be bothered, even in the unlikely event of being policed. They’ll have their servants do the shopping, and if they go for a stroll they can always say they’re off to do the shopping themselves.

SOME ANECDOTES

The following  happened this afternoon (31st March), an example of how everything seems to be cracking up:
I was just on my way out with my timed and signed declaration sheet, when the phone rang and it was my ex-, the mother of our daughter. She’s been ill for some time and so is potentially very vulnerable to the virus but she’s far more scared-cum-furious at the the state and media’s reaction to it than of the virus itself. On the phone she told me that her aunt who lives up the road from her  had rung earlier and said that a neighbour of hers was repairing a common muddy access road held in common with neighbours and another neighbour came up to this neighbour and told him he should have asked all the neighbours concerned whether he could do these repairs. They had a row and the neighbour who complained went back to his house, took out a gun , went back and shot him dead. Then, after this call from her aunt, my ex- heard some neighbours of hers (dealers) screaming, putting up the music very loud, and then smashing things and she looked out and they’d set fire to some stuff,  and this went on for an hour  and then a bit later she went to the gate of her driveway and found that they’d partly broken it by throwing a large dustbin at it, and all the rubbish was strewn all over the place. None of the cars belonging to non-dealers around the dealers’ house was attacked, but  she thought they picked on her place because she’s a woman living alone. This was unprecedented, even for these dealers.
“Neighbours
Everybody needs good neighbours
Just a friendly wave each morning
Helps to make a better day
Neighbours,
Need to get to know each other
Next door is only a footstep away
…Everybody needs good neighbours
With a little understanding
You can find the perfect blend
Neighbours,
Should be there for one another
That’s when good neighbours become good friends”
I suggested she calm down a bit, then went out myself for a walk in the countryside just outside my village.  10 minutes later as I began to cross a bridge 2 cop cars drove up, one cop jumped out of his car and shouted furiously at some teenagers  who were just going for a walk about 50 metres away in the woodland and out of reach of the cop cars. He shouted at them   to stop,  because there were 3 of them together, even though  families were walking in 2s and 3s. But these were teenagers, and fair game for fascist filth. Another cop in another car,  a friend of my fascist neighbour, jumped out and said “We can trap them by going round to the other side” – clearly excited at the prospect of a hunt, the excitement of the chase in his eyes.  As I walked away I made, to someone passing by, one of those hand signs round my head indicating that I thought the cops were insane, and then  the cop car with the cop-friend of my fascist neighbour, a cop who knows me because of various hassles,  started to back a bit towards me. I thought they’d seen me and so I walked a bit faster off the road into the heathland. At that point I saw 2 other cops also policing the countryside.  6 cops controlling social distancing out in the countryside! Yes, I know madder things happen everywhere, but this was me experiencing it directly, after an agitated phone call  and over a very short period of time. A bit later I met these 14-year-old teenagers; they were frightened and so I told them where the cops had gone; they’d managed to avoid them – “They’re mad!” they said to me as they ran off in the other direction. These series of events over a 20 minute or so period  of time inevitably can get to you.
How mad is it that the slightest  daily life interaction   is now surrounded by such a stifling  suffocation of simple sense and of senses  that going for a walk or getting slightly close to  someone can be considered either dangerous or subversive? Something as threatened by external authority as, say,  nicking something from a supermarket, something which you have to calculate,  feel out, take a risk with,  constantly watching. And we’re all forced to adapt to this madness and somehow even find something positive in it, like people do with war stories – turn  misery into an interesting anecdote. But the positive is only in negating pseudo-positivity, in finding communication in anger and critique and searching for a way out. Because, as Macron said a little bit too  often to not feel the menace beneath it  – “We are at war”,“We are at war”, “We are at war”,“We are at war”,“We are at war”, “We are at war”. And we’ve certainly been  bombarded with  bullshit coming  from their notion of “we”, from their war against us – it’s not quite as devastating as death by virus or by the Luftwaffe but almost.  To accept that this can go on is to accept a world reduced to madness. It  cannot go on. But saying this is obviously no more than saying this: good will has to be turned to practice.  How we find  ways to attack all this shit is as vital for our health as other forms of resistance. Resistance to the virus is inseparable from resistance to social distancing, resistance to death is inseparable from  resistance to an external authority that has never been so invasively anti-life. The body cannot be separated from mind or social life.
In Toulouse a Deliveroo worker delivering stuff on a bike was badly beaten up by the filth. As if the misery of zero-hour contracts wasn’t bad enough. The cops have subsequently had to back off – letting people in the popular areas gather largely without hassle for the moment. And this is happening in other banlieux.

FACING THE CORONAVIRUS:

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND OTHERS

Fire helps to eradicate the virus. You can help by burning  schools, banks  and police stations.

Policemen and controllers are more likely to be virus carriers. You can help  by forcing them to stay at home, for example by wounding them.

To avoid starvation and the aggravation of the advance of this illness during this emergency, loot the supermarkets and distribute food for free to those who need it.

Wear gloves and masks PERMANENTLY. This prevents the police from identifying you in this war against this virus-society

**

In Sete, near where I live, a guy I know was out walking when he bumped into a neighbour of his and as they stood chatting, a cop car came up and harassed them for daring to be out together (maximum of 1 person allowed in most parts – though maybe they’ll reduce it to half a person or less, maybe an arm and a leg, or just ears no mouth…).  Another guy I know in Sete went out without his papers, the cops put him up against the wall, hands held high, and frisked him all over. When he turned round, they shouted “Keep your distance!”, as if they hadn’t been touching him with their bare hands just a moment before.
But on the “lighter” side – on the 1st day of the “emergency” they closed down the homeless shelter in Sete and there were lots of homeless people on the pavement outside it. A cop came up and told them to go home. They said they had no homes to go to.  So he said “Why don’t you open a squat?”.  He didn’t provide them with a crowbar though.
In Aisnes the mayor’s closed down all sales of alcohol.
Nationally, the cops are threatening to go on strike because they’re not permitted to have masks or gloves, a strike I’d fully support as long as the government refuses to give in to their demands. Curfew in cities near where I live (Sete, Montpellier and Beziers)  is now 9pm to 5 am. A small town not far from me (Roquemaure), with just 5500 inhabitants, also has a similar curfew. As we all know, the virus is particularly dangerous at night and, under cover of darkness, goes around with crowbars breaking into houses with the particularly insidious aim of infecting babies.
So it goes…

“Health” is the war of the State

Re. Chloroquine, the anti-malaria drug: an atmosphere of scandal surrounds the government over this. Lots of people are angry. About 3 weeks ago a Spanish Chloroquine-producing factory offered 3 million Chloroquine pills to the French state, but this was refused. They were then sold to another country. A French Chloroquine-producing factory is ready to get the go-ahead from the state to produce and distribute them, but even today has not yet got the order, despite the fact that the Health Ministry has reluctantly agreed to its production. The Ministry of Health has known about Chloroquine’s efficacity in China since at least February 10th  if not before (other drugs – anti-HIV or anti-Ebola drugs have also been found to be effective, as have injections of an antibody serum). The mayor of Nice was infected with the virus, as was another high-up in Marseilles (it’s generally available to the elite). Both were cured with Chloroquine, but only in Marseille at a hospital where the now famous Dr. Raoult is the main advocate of this treatment, is it available to ‘ordinary’ people. Which is not to oversimplify the class nature of all this: some high-ups have/had the virus. The official reason for this mad situation is that there haven’t been enough tests on it and that it has side effects. Strangely, this drug has been in use worldwide since shortly after the war. In France, every time someone goes to Africa, Asia or South America, they have to take this drug – and that’s been for the last 60 years. Suddenly now they’re worried about it not having been tested properly!!! Besides, all medicine can have side effects. And certainly lots of drugs are  dangerous when mixed with other drugs, but that goes for so many drugs. People die from antibiotics sometimes (in the US, the pharmaceutical industry is the 3rd cause of death). Certainly it may well not be the miracle cure-all that Dr.Raoult claims it is, but then what drug is? Dr.Raoult – pretty high-up in the French medical establishment hierarchy and totally respected by them for over 20 years until about 6 weeks ago – is now being conveniently subjected to ad hominem attacks: apparently he’s a climate change sceptic, for instance. And he rose in the hierarchy due to his connections with  Sarkozy. Mon Dieu! – a reactionary doctor! Who would have thought it? But just as reactionary lawyers are often more helpful in practical courtroom situations than lefty or “anarchist” ones, the fact that he’s a reactionary doesn’t automatically negate his abilities in this particular field. Raoult may well be exaggerating the value of Chloroquine, but given that quite a few have been very quickly cured of the virus, people should ask themselves why the state is dragging its feet over this as death counts rise (though available on prescription for diseases like malaria or lupus, it’s not permitted for Coronavirus). Probably because of competing specialisms and interests. For instance, take  Yves Levy, former head of the very powerful organisation INSERM (National Institute of Health and Medical Research) and still works for INSERM. He’s the husband of the former Minister of Health, the haematologist Buzyn (she resigned as minister in February; she had previously been, for 6 years, a member of the committee on nuclear energy of The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission) is intimately involved in the pharmaceutical industry and some have said that he’s involved in trying to develop a vaccine that would inevitably be a great deal more expensive than Chloroquine, a very cheap drug to produce. One possible alternative to Chlorquine mentioned on the TV apparently costs almost 100 times the cost of  Chloroquine. I constantly say “apparently”, and use other tentative qualifications throughout my comments on this crisis, because appearances envelope the whole of this horror show in a very dense fog through which it’s hard to make out anything but shadows of the truth.

Mainstream article on this which I’ve just (6/4/20) seen

Though much of this sounds like conspiracy theory, it’s very clear that the pharmaceutical industry in France is extremely powerful. The Agence Nationale de Sécurité du Médicament et des Produits de Santé ANSM “The National Agency for Safety of Medicines and Health Products”) – is responsible for assessing the benefits and risks associated with the use of “health” products throughout France. In its former incarnation (from 1999 to 2012 this organization was called AFSSAPS, but changed its name after it became associated with various scandals involving placing very dangerous drugs on the market, sometime after the blatant lack of independence of its members became apparent: out of 675 people in the hierarchy of this organization, at least 410 had interests in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic or other “health”-related industries.
In the swine flu “epidemic” of 2009, the French pharmaceutical industry stood to make something over a billion euros out of a vaccine that was eventually only taken up by 10% of the population, despite a constant propaganda campaign on the part of the media and of the state relentlessly trying to frighten people of the danger, and despite the state forcing doctors to prioritise the adminstering of these vaccines. As a result of this failure to manipulate the  majority of the population (how things have changed!), the pharmaceutical industry in fact made a pittance – a bit less than 400 million euros, the Minister of Health having initially ordered 94 million vaccine doses, a great deal  of which were eventually returned unused. Just 310 people died in France. Just 310, plus about 20 who died from the vaccines and a few others who were permanently damaged by them. Can’t find the figures for mortality rates from ordinary flu of the year 2009, but the winter of 2014-15 caused over 11,000 deaths in France  from  flu (Hong Kong flu in the winter of 1969-70 killed over 30,000 in France in just 2 or 3 weeks!). A few years ago Raoult denounced the Minister of Health at the time of the swine flu pseudo-epidemic, Rosalyn Bachelot, for having insisted that people needed a double dose of the vaccine when just one dose would have been enough.
A helluva lot of people  focus on discussing whether Raoult is truly coherent, whether he follows scientific methods and principles and whether Chloroquine is effective or not, thus completely losing themselves in abstraction.   China has shown that Chloroquine is truly effective, even if its efficacy is probably not as absolute as Raoult has claimed it is; it  has  cured lots of  people in Marseille, and it’s being prescribed by GPs in other places, even though it’s difficult to find. Bollocks to so-called “objective scientific method“!  This focus on the abstraction of “objectivity” comes over as like someone trying to decide whether the combinations of various ingredients for a cake will be appreciated by people  before he’s even started baking and tasting it. As the old phrase goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.  And with Chloroquine, the proof is in the curing, even if there’s no miracle.
What’s fundamental is that the team of advisers surrounding Macron are basically ideologists with little to no practical involvement in dealing with illnesses let alone pandemics. Raoult calls these scientists bureaucrats, though that’s not exactly accurate – they seem to be mostly “theoreticians”.  Meanwhile, the media shows its contempt for the people queuing up outside Raoult’s hospital – the one hospital so far that’s giving out Chloroquine. These very patient patients (the queues are extremely long) have been contemptuously dismissed by media pundits as being capricious and simply vaguely curious. This, even though all of them have been tested by their GP and sent to the hospital which is the centre of Raoult’s treatment. So much for media “objectivity”!
The enormous confusion about the situation is something not at all confined to this drug. So many vague ideas and estimates floating around, with very little precision.  How long does the virus remain on surfaces, how airborne is it, how effective are masks, how long does the virus take to  incubate, how can one seriously judge the fatality rate given the fact that many cases are not reported, or that many people are not tested, etc. etc. etc –  questions that  still – after  over 4  months since the first case in Wuhan – have not been clearly answered. This failure is partly a result of a competitive mentality between different experts and the lack of genuine knowledge that such careerist mentalities encourage. Every expert feels compelled by the need to fight their own corner, their need to protect their expertise in this society, and their desire for the large amounts of money this society pays for “expertise”, and their consequent inability to honestly question themselves, to test out any doubts independent of their financial interests and an inability to see anything outside of their particular focus on their specialised area, their absolute absence of will and ability to even begin to attempt to look at the totality rather than just a small fragment. All specialists/experts, in their arrogant displays of knowing what’s best, tend to excessively valorise their specialism/expertise, which is something we have to invariably bear in mind, which we have to invariably remain skeptical of, though without totally dismissing aspects of what they say. That goes for Raoult as well, who sometimes presents himself as mankind’s gift from God (or rather, Science), the Great Saviour! But let’s give the guy his due: he’s cured people, and these “objective” scientists have done fuck all other than endlessly spiel blah blah blah.
Meanwhile, there are no or very few masks – even for hospital workers who have to buy them themselves, if they can get them, from D-I-Y shops. And there’s no or very little testing. Several years ago some “experts” in France decided that pandemics  were almost certainly a thing of the past. Other experts decided that the manufacture of masks in France was not important because, after all, given the unlikely chance of them becoming  necessary they could be ordered from factories  producing them by the 100s of millions… in China!

***

People are wondering what’s going on behind the scenes of this endless  empty discourse and empty streets. Some imagine the state is preparing a whole new set of repressive laws. Others say they’ll use the “health” of increased restrictions on the use of cash to impose a bankers card/cheque-book only regime that  makes the black economy  a lot easier to police. Whilst pension payments have been delayed even further, some, only half-jokingly, are saying they’re  killing off the old so that they don’t need to impose the proposed pension  reforms, which have been temporarily withdrawn (a somewhat mechanistic manner of seeing  how the state functions). Others imagine they’ll be a massive construction of facial recognition cameras that can recognise faces through masks (certainly a recent technological development:  https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-facial-recognition/even-mask-wearers-can-be-idd-china-facial-recognition-firm-says-idUSKBN20W0WL ).  Others think, with the moratorium on  debt-repayment including mortgages in certain parts of the world, that  this is the potential collapse of the current banking system. Still others think that they’ll use the massive reduction in pollution to justify the development of eco-fascism involving the banning of private cars for most of the poor.  Others think about the disastrous  effect on the tourist industry – air b’n’b’, cheap airflights etc.   Others anticipate how xenophobia will pan out, how the various economic alliances may collapse, how this or that may well develop to a degree of weirdness that ideas borrowed from the past are incapable of comprehending.  All the complexities of this  speculation need to be unravelled and  analysed to not just make intellectual sense of and be discussed but  as part of the  struggle to do something about.

One thing is sure –  people will have got used to, accepted  and  justified a degree of alienation, isolation and confusion, and of fear, resentment  and outright  hostility towards those who dare refuse to submit to such a pseudo-life, that  will probably make it a great deal harder to overcome than anything previously.  A totalitarianism very different from classic Stalinism, Nazism, Maoism  or Fascism – a totalitarianism not just of the streets, workplaces and media but also a totalitarianism of the mind, body and soul. But the probable is resignation and utterly self- destructive. It’s in the possible  that genuine health  lies.  The possible is the search for life, the expression of anger and  revolt.

In Llandudno, Wales, goats have been coming down from the Great Orme to graze in the locked down town

or:

?

Added: 2/4/20

Translated sections from this (a response to an abjectly apologistic article on the Tiquunist/Invisible Committee/Appeliste site “Lundi Matin”), which praises the purely “positive” aspects of this crisis in terms of how we should welcome the coronavirus as the Messiah coming to get us out of our voluntary bondage and our daily apathy so that we can “all” get on with the pleasures of gardening and the joys of greeting strangers etc.,  an “all” which excludes so many millions of proletarians, whether those in prison, the homeless, those forced to work (cashiers, building workers, deliverers,  preparers of orders for online sales, and  especially those working in greatly under-equipped hospitals), etc.:

“The immediate consequences of the pandemic are the unprecedented deployment of counter-insurgency technologies, and more broadly techno-fascism, which we’ve seen has been happening for quite a while. Of course, we do not deny the danger of the virus, but this should not mask the violence of the authoritarian response that is being unleashed today and what is being  announced. If China has been a model envied by Western techno-capitalists for a while, the pandemic is an opportunity to imitate it at high speed under the guise of a state of health emergency. In China, drones come to take your temperature on the street and it is no longer possible to go out without a smartphone, because you have to be geo-locatable and have proof of your health on your smartphone. Germany and the United States are working with StartUp on solutions of this type. In France, as in Madrid, drones are out to increase the capacities of police control.

Macron and E. Philippe [France’s PM] have warned: there will be a before and after the coronavirus …. Bruno Lemaire and the president of Medef [organisation representing major bosses]  talk about setting up a minimum economic service to prevent workers from exercising their right of withdrawal [ie the right to withdraw their labour in circumstances that are dangerous to health and safety], Edouard Philippe warns that it will be necessary to make great efforts after the crisis to revive the economy, all this by passing the “state of health emergency”, a component of which includes 300 billion euros donated to companies, increased power given to employers who can extend the working time of their employees, force or cancel paid holidays, etc. Edouard Philippe understood this well, the current state of emergency is an opportunity to “profoundly change our habits”. The post-coronavirus is the standardization of new surveillance technologies in the name of our “health” –  tele-medicine [ie being ‘examined’ by your doctor through the internet], school and university on digital platforms, generalized tele-work, and therefore even more isolated workers in their work. All this while the workforce that makes all the infrastructure necessary for these isolation and control technologies remain slaving away in  the cold or in a  heat wave, or during pandemics! “Profoundly changing our habits” also means getting used to police checkpoints in the cities and countryside, drones in the street carrying out all kinds of checks, etc.

After the health crisis will come the economic crisis, it will be even harder than that of 2008. The financial markets, the multinationals and the States (which will still go into debt to “save the economy”) are losing a lot of money, and once the first wave of the pandemic has passed, they will want to charge us. They are going to impose new austerity measures under the guise of national unity, in order to resuscitate the margins of capital’s surplus value  and to replenish the coffers of the state.

…for the state and capital, the pandemic is also the opportunity to make a brutal transition to a much more authoritarian regime. The real problem is not the apathy provoked by mass society…the problem is the mass exploitation carried out with  an iron fist by capitalists, the state and its police. Shouldn’t we remember the figures for  the repression of the Yellow Vest movement?…

No one can say what will happen in the coming months, but we will have to be attentive and not remain in the grip of fear and the permanent state of emergency in which the rulers will try to keep us so as to pass their safeguard measures, then boost the economy. With this “crisis”, given that we need to repeat this again, it is we, the exploited condemned to work and misery, that the capitalists will sacrifice again and again on the altar of power and profit. The pandemic affects the whole world. Authoritarian measures to safeguard and then revive the economy will also affect the whole world since our economies are interconnected to an unprecedented degree. We must not allow ourselves to be brought down but to revolt against these measures, the glaring injustice of which will be seen as big as the nose on our face. There may be hope for an international social revolution. We need to understand what we are caught up in in order to free up our margin of manœuvre in the times to come.”

See also the same site’s Pandemic, Authority & Freedom.

**

Explanation of some of  the attacks on workers’ rights:

  • 60-hour  working week for some workers
  • Reduction of paid holidays
  • Imposition of compensation days for unpaid overtime
  • Amazing gifts to corporations

Marine Le Pen and the rest of her party voted in favour of these, avoiding playing her usual populist card, presumably because her and her party no longer think it’s necessary to try to recuperate anger.

“They re-open the factories and put us in danger for their profits. The rich are our mortal enemies”

(pity about the hammer and sickle)

Some events

(For events after 4/4/20, see comments boxes below)

4/4/20:

France, Yvelines: despite government pretense at softly softly approach to banlieux during this crisis, cops and youths clash, with 5-year-old girl victim of cop flashball being gravely wounded, following arrest of teenager for supposedly stolen motorbike  Report in English

See also this (not directly related to this crisis, but – given the increasing violence of cops generally during this insanity – this film about the cops in France is worth a look).

2/4/20:

France, Tourcoing: health workers revolt – unofficial “wild” demonstration against crazy situation in hospital – lack of masks etc

Many hospitals, globally, in treating this epidemic as priority, are being avoided by  cancer patients, and many other dangerously ill people. Also, abortions in France have almost totally stopped. Imagine the amount of unwanted kids that will be born, how they’ll suffer the misery of mothers and/or fathers who never wanted them.  Worse,  loads of old people in Residential Institutions for Dependent Elderly People will be, in effect, killed off in isolation  in this Social Darwinist-inspired “let those surplus to the requirements of surplus value” die development towards involuntary euthanasia.

1/4/20:

France, French Guyana (South American department of France): prison revolt

Prisoners stole the keys to the cells, then set fire to a corridor. No-one is hurt. The state has decided to disarm the watchtowers and all the screws have withdrawn, but outside gendarmes are moving in.

France, Yvelines: cops fire flashballs after controlling people for non-respect of quarantines rules

26/3/20:

France, Seine-St-Denis: anti-confinement clashes with cops Video here

“Tensions broke out between the police and young people on the estate of Franc-Moisin in Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis)…Since the start of confinement following the Covid-19 coronavirus, tensions have erupted in several estates in Seine-Saint-Denis. …According to a police source, “around 20 people  set a trap for…the  police forces by setting up an ambush. They set fire to a car for the police…. Firefighters and police were hit by projectiles and heavy-duty fireworks when they arrived. ”

25/3/20:

France, Argenteuil: blue collar workers at car parts firm walk out over lack of protection, complaining about management and other white collar workers being allowed to work through the internet

“…most managers stay at home and telecommute. But in warehouses, it’s another story for employees who feel more and more in danger. A feeling of injustice is mounting in many companies …Since Wednesday, the leading firm in online sales of automotive spare parts has been operating at a slow pace, faced with a strike and the right to withdraw from some of the employees of its warehouses in Argenteuil and Cergy-Pontoise (Val-d’Oise).

The site has not been properly disinfected

“We had no other choice,” explains a staff representative, speaking on condition of anonymity. Management refused to make every effort to guarantee the safety of employees in its warehouses. Several of them who are in confinement have symptoms of Covid-19. The site has not been properly disinfected and all the trays and work tools are therefore potentially contaminated. This increases the risk of the virus spreading and puts the health of employees at risk ”. …”Installed in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, often telecommuting, middle management and the directors are much better protected than other employees”, quips Hichem Aktouche who wonders: “Is Oscaro a sector so vital that it justifies endangering employees by forcing them to work? “…This theme of health inequality within companies has been resounding for a few days, all the more so since the health authorities call on the population to stay as confined as possible. “The life of a supermarket cashier, a postman, is worth no less than that of a computer engineer in telework”…”There is an impression of injustice between what can be called blue-collar and white-collar workers, but also between those on short-term contracts and those with permanent ones”, warns Cyril Chabanier, president of the CFTC… “The feeling of inequality is starting to mount in our country and we have to be careful about that,” he adds….”all those on secure contracts were asked to stay at home whilst those on short-term ones we told to  come to work”….The CGT demands a clarification on the so-called vital sectors for the country in order to avoid exposing employees unnecessarily. Union officials are unanimous in saying that “we must provide each employee with sanitary equipment …”

It should be pointed out that, despite certain radical sites listing  current “strikes” in France as some kind of wildcat they’re not exactly that, as in France you have the automatic right to stop work if you consider the conditions are insecure. In fact, there have been several of these walkouts over France, which are protected by this right to withdraw your labour for health and safety reasons, and almost invariably involving the unions (for a critique from 2017, mainly  of the CGT, see this). I have not listed most of them .

24/3/20

France, Yvelines: anti-confinement barbecue leads to arrests

22/3/20:

France, Correze: fiery riot in prison, prisoners go on roof, massive destruction

“In thirty years of service, I have never seen such a thing …” The supervisors of the detention center of Uzerche, in Corrèze, are still in shock. … “Very rapidly, in the courtyard of the promenade, the gates and doors were broken, and the staff had to evacuate the premises. Then a fire broke out and the prisoners ended up on the roof. …The material damage is considerable. Two buildings were completely ransacked, and destroyed by flames. “The third and fourth floors of buildings C and D are 70% destroyed.”

Rennes: another prison riot 

“Sunday March 22, 2020 at around 4:30 p.m. during the second walk round of MA2, the detained people who were on their walk caused a mutiny by trying to break up the path of the walk.

Immediately the alert “MUTINY” was triggered and the Rennes ERIS was called to intervene in the incident, in support of the intervention teams made up of each CPH building.

When the alert was triggered, two teams, each equipped with a pump-action rifle, were set up around the MA2 promenade on the right courtyard (neutral zone) and in the walkway.

One of the teams was obliged to make a warning shot to dissuade the mutineers from any damage to the fence and the intervention door of the promenade.
When ERIS agents arrive at the establishment, once the detention center and related services had been secured, agents equipped with bomber suits were positioned in the hall of the MA2’s RCH to carry out reintegration of mutineers.

As the two MA2 promenades were blocked, the management decided to start with the left course (there were 22 detainees).
The detainees were brought back one by one to the cell by equipped CPH agents.
One of the leaders of the left court was placed in prevention at the QD.

Once the left court was reinstated, the ERIS had to reinstate the right court where there were 51 detainees. The MUTINEERS being much more virulent and refusing to be reinstated despite the warnings from the ERIS, the head of the ERIS made the decision to intervene on the promenade course to put an end to the mutiny.

The detainees were then put back in cells one by one and 2 detainees who were particularly active in the mutiny were placed in prevention at the QD.

Following the securing of the two jail buildings, all the agents (all bodies combined) present on the establishment proceeded to the distribution of meals in safety.

The Director, the following day, made arrangements for the start of walks following the weakening of the intervention door of the right-hand promenade yard MA2.
However, in view of the very tense climate prevailing in detention, we [ie the Force Ouvriere screws union] ask you to further reduce activities and therefore suppress all sports and lock down the entire detention center.”

20/3/20:

France, Lyon: Deliveroo and Ubereats workers on strike because of fear of spreading virus

This is interesting because, officially, these workers are “self-employed”.

19/3/20:

France, Argentan: 14 prisoners climb onto roof for a few hours in resistance to enforced suppression of visitors, and of outside workers

“…several rebellious movements also took place in Nantes, Angers, Val-de-Reuil…”[in prisons]

18/3/20:

France, Vendée: wildcat strike by logistics workers

17/3/20:

France, Elbeuf near Rouen: youths chuck heavy-duty fireworks at cops during anti-confinement barbecue, as they also play “rodeo” (races and handbrake turns probably with stolen cars); no arrestsChalon: 40 Amazon workers walk off the job because of lack of safetyMontelimar: Amazon workers walk off job for 2nd time , threatened with not being paid despite right to withdraw due to lack of health and safetyWaterloo: 20 workers on “wildcat strike” because of lack of health & safety conditions; site closed 3 days laterMarseille: attacks on company collaborating with state CCTV installations

15/3/20:

France, Moselle: about 100 prisoners refuse to return to their cells following prediction of visitor suspension (not yet enforced, though enforced from 17th March onwards)), and already-enforced suspension of outsiders, such as teachers, giving lessons in prison

13/3/20:

France, Nancy: 4th day of official wage strike by  dustmen ; they may be forced to work, bosses using pretext of virus

 

22 Responses to Coronavirus in France
  1. Lurdan says:

    hi Sam,

    I nicked the bits of the Non Fides article you translated, had a go at the rest and posted the results here
    https://www.urban75.net/forums/threads/dog-breath-in-the-year-of-the-plague.370011/post-16479687

    Hope you’re keeping well

  2. Two French doctors show the old colonialist mentality, suggesting that a potential vaccine for coronavirus should first be tested on people in Africa:

    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/04/racism-row-french-doctors-suggest-virus-vaccine-test-africa-200404054304466.html

  3. Mayor of Cannes to install laser thermometers at entrance to 7 supermarkets:

    https://www.nicematin.com/sante/la-mairie-de-cannes-va-installer-des-thermometres-laser-a-lentree-de-certains-commerces-490687

    “The mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard, announces that the temperature of visitors and customers will be controlled at the entrance to public places and shops. “You have to control the temperature of people in all places where there the public is “

  4. Without wanting to minimise this epidemic, or its miserable symptoms, it seems worth noting that in 2018 on average about 1657 people died each day in France:

    https://www.statista.com/statistics/464154/number-deaths-france-2004-2014/

    …which reminds me of this funny though frivolous article:

    https://off-guardian.org/2020/03/23/sperm19-and-egg18-squashing-the-virus-of-death/

  5. “An official press release by the Chinese embassy in France recently stated that Chinese methods for containing the COVID-19 pandemic in the mainland were seen by French health officials as an “interesting source of inspiration.”

    https://chinadigitaltimes.net/2020/04/from-narrative-consent-to-narrative-warfare-chinas-covid-19-messaging/

    Meanwhile, draconian measures seem to have become parodies of themselves in France. An old woman was fined 200 euros for going 200 metres outside of the kilometer radius she’s permitted to go. The cop told her she should have stayed at home because she was old.
    And just today, doctors (who are also En Marche deputies/MPs) close to Macron have just proposed that, in order to stop people crossing each other in shops, all supermarkets rearrange their lanes to become one-way only and based on the anxiety-inducing IKEA labyrinths. Unlikely to become reality – but it shows how crazy doctors, doctors who almost invariably treat the body as a machine, are thinking. Not quite Mengele but getting there. Draco, the guy from whom the word “draconian” comes, imposed the death penalty for even minor offences like stealing a cauliflower. If he was alive today, he would have thought of a fate worse than death – IKEA.
    By the way, a folklore about Draco is that, in a traditional ancient Greek show of approval, his supporters threw so many hats and shirts and cloaks on his head that he suffocated, buried alive. Be nice if that were the fate of all the modern-day Dracos imposing authoritarian madness seemingly approved of by so many people. Unlike in fantasy, the real-life Draco was chased out of Athens by a cross-class alliance initially instigated by the poor. Sadly he lived, even if bruised, and his ancestors go marching on.

    *Statistics say a visit to IKEA is the 2nd highest cause of divorce for those couples who go together to these places. And remember – statistics prove that 87% of statistics are incorrect.

  6. Larousse dictionary

    Confinement n. masculin

    Action de confiner, de se confiner dans un lieu ; fait d’être confiné.

    Situation d’une population animale trop nombreuse dans un espace trop restreint et qui, de ce fait, manque d’oxygène, de nourriture ou d’espace.

    Ensemble des conditions dans lesquelles se trouve un explosif détonant quand il est logé dans une enveloppe résistante.

    https://www.larousse.fr/dictionnaires/francais/confinement/18092

    Translation:

    Confinement n. masculine

    Action to confine, to confine oneself in a place; being confined.

    Situation of too large an animal population in a too small space and which, as a result, lacks oxygen, food or space.

    Set of conditions in which a detonating explosive is found when it is housed in a resistant envelope.

  7. 10/4/20:
    28-year-old killed in cop chase
    https://www.charentelibre.fr/2020/04/10/drame-a-angouleme-mort-d-un-jeune-de-28-ans-qui-fuyait-la-police,3585205.php

    According to the state’s version, while being pursued by the BAC , the young man jumped into a river. According to mainstream media, “nothing in his vehicle can explain such a risk”. There was no offence. Nothing can explain his behaviour – except fear of the filth.

    In Cambrai, the same night, a motorist died while fleeing a police checkpoint. His passenger was between life and death.
    https://www.lavoixdunord.fr/739028/article/2020-04-10/un-mort-et-un-homme-entre-la-vie-et-la-mort-apres-une-perte-de-controle

  8. France, Seine-et-Marne: cops and screws brutally repress refugees anger in detention centre –
    https://blogs.mediapart.fr/cispm/blog/120420/urgent-appel-de-sos-emeutes-et-repression-en-cours-au-cra-mesnil-amelot

    “We have neither masks nor hydro-alcoholic gel, and the two people who do the cleaning have neither products nor bleach. We have no family visits, no cigarettes, no clean clothes. We want tests we want to be treated, the medical service is there an hour a day and the laundromat doesn’t work either. Since yesterday evening at 7 p.m. we have been subjected to police violence at the Mesnil-Amelot detention center following the beating and gassing of one of us who, driven by hunger, discreetly kept some bread on him when he left the refectory. In solidarity, we crossed the gates to gather in the courtyard. The director of the center said: “very good” then padlocked the entrance to the buildings. “Well you will sleep outside on the floor,” he said, and then they took our mattresses from us to punish us. Help us ! BE CAREFUL our association confirms from a police source who adds that the center management also prohibits the police from wearing masks “so as not to scare the undocumented.” The police say they are frightened and also request the closure of the center! Mr Gabriel Alexandrescu Romanian producer invited to the Cannes festival married in France and father of two children, locked up in the center denounces the same facts.”

    Photo and recorded telephone message, includes mention of showers not working, toilets remaining blocked, no masks  etc. –
    https://www.facebook.com/cerveauxnondisponibles/videos/1541753062665309/?v=1541753062665309

  9. 11/4/20: Lyon -about 20 youths throw stones at cops, breaking cop car window –
    https://berthoalain.com/2020/04/13/jeunes-police-affrontements-a-rillieux-la-pape-11-avril-2020/

    Essonne: –
    https://actu17.fr/essonne-guet-apens-et-tirs-de-mortiers-dartifice-sur-les-forces-de-lordre-a-grigny-en-pleine-nuit/

    “Security forces have been targeted by mortars and projectiles for the past two nights in Grigny, in a climate of high tension.

    The sensitive neighborhood of Grigny 2 has been the scene of violence against the police for the past 48 hours. During the week, officials had received reports of a will to attack them through ambushes, including mortar [heavy-duty fireworks] fire.

    This is what happened on the night of Friday to Saturday. At around 01:15 a.m., the police received several calls explaining that garbage containers had been set on fire in several places at the same time, in the Grigny 2 district. Shortly before these calls, the firefighters who were passing by -point Pasteur had alerted that they had been the target of mortar fire. Fortunately, there were no injuries.

    A police system has been put in place to intervene in the neighborhood, and thus allow the firefighters to put out the various fires. As soon as they arrived, the police were attacked, by projectile throwing, but also by numerous mortar fireworks. It was very clearly a new trap in this district of republican reconquest (QRR), a device set up in 2018 by the government. Law enforcement responded with tear gas and shots from defensive ball launchers (LBD).
    Attackers flee, none could be arrested

    The intervention of officials of the Departmental Intervention Company (CDI) repelled the attackers who took refuge in the halls of a building before disappearing. The four different fires were then extinguished and calm returned around 2:30 a.m.

    None of the attackers could be arrested and there were no reported injuries. Amateur videos showing this urban violence have been broadcast on social networks.”

  10. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/15/macron-urges-on-trials-of-controversial-coronavirus-drug

    This is like looking at a lifebelt from a distance and saying, several weeks after people have fallen into the water, that they shouldn’t grab hold of it until it’s been examined for holes. This, even after at the very least 1000 people have managed to use the lifebelt to swim ashore (ie been cured of most symptoms of the virus ). This, after doctors themselves have grabbed the lifebelt and swum ashore – ie possibly illegally prescribing the drug for themselves and for their families and friends (possibly by diagnosing them as having malaria to get round the illegality of it). Dragging his feet? No – he’s legless, drunk on power and the ideology of patient “scientific method”. He’ll probably be using the drug for himself & his friends (certainly the mayor of Nice was cured by using it).

  11. The State of Health Emergency in #France: Social Order, Whatever it Costs:
    https://plagueandfire.noblogs.org/files/2020/04/EUS-eng.pdf

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