France - The Hot Autumn Continues

"Les Miserables" fight back: fun and looting in Lyon

Two leaflets about recent events. More detail will follow later.

Two leaflets, roughly translated:

Tuesday 19th October: Nanterre – a day of resistance!

For several days, the lyceens (High school students) of Nanterre have been on strike, blocking their schools. At the end of last week, the movement was heavily repressed. The forces of order beat up several youths during a demo. A lot of serious injuries, numerous arrests and trials set for December 2nd.
Today, just as the school students were about to block their school again, they saw, as they arrived, the “forces of order” had already been mobilised . Faced with being prevented from continuing their movement, tension mounted up until a confrontation.
Us students were there and demonstrated their support for the school students against police brutality. After the General Assembly of the University we demonstrated in support of the school students, walking from the High School to a gathering in front of the police station there to denounce the repression and the arrests of dozens of High and Middle School students!

They call them “casseurs”...?

From the Right and the Left and taken up, for the most part, by the media, the High school students on strike have been treated as “casseurs coming from the estates”. The words “ High school students” or “youths” are never used to describe them. Why? To delegitimise their struggle. To make these youths seem like uncontrollable savages who ultimately deserve such treatment. To vastly intensify the fear of “public opinion” when the police speak of “urban guerrillas or “organised casseurs”. Except these youths are High school students on strike, revolted by the condition of their lives. The real “casseurs” are those who produce this anger, those who demolish our social benefits, who privatise, who promote racist laws and laws for our “security”!

Where is the police repression?

Why don't they speak about Geoffrey, the High school student from Montreuil who had a flashball fired into his eye last Thursday and risks losing an eye? Why don't they speak about the High school student in Caen who had his skull smashed? Or about the numerous police interventions in the High schools which ended up with loads of injuries and mutilations?
The bourgeoisie and their media go-betweens has launched these events, which explains the fury of the High school students. For far too long now the youths of the popular areas have been represented as barbarians, almost animals who in the end deserve their social condition and who have to be brutally put down when they dare contest their situation.

On whose side must the social movement be?

The social movement must support these young people – their revolt is just, legitimate and they are th first to be effected by the present social situation. Their fight is ours' – we must be part of it!
Let's create committees of struggle whose bases are workers, students, High school students facing the development of fascistic conditions.

Solidarity with the striking High school students! Down with the repression!
For the unity of the struggle: workers, students, High school students!

http://agen-nanterre.over-blog.com/

In Paris: youths attacked by the demonstration stewards of the CGT, Tuesday 19th October 2010

CGT demonstration stewards, cop pigs – same struggle!!

During the demo this last Tuesday, 19th October, the demo stewards of the CGT, collaborated with the cops (everybody knows - it's no secret) who committed new forms of violence when encountering some young demonstrators who were marching joyfully and noisily, whilst burning some flares. It seems obvious that the colour of their skin determined the choice of youth beaten. We witnessed some really nasty violence used (beatings with truncheons, tear gassing). Lots of youths were really shocked, not understanding anything any more - “We did nothing – why did the police do that?” ...We encircled the demo stewards in order to try to calm the situation – but we also immediately received, in response, beatings with sticks and tear gas. They were immediately joined by plain clothed cops, openly happy to have their “work” facilitated by them. We didn't see the arrests, but it's not outside th bounds of possibility that the demo stewards handed the kids over to the cops. People talk a lot about the “gratuitous violence of the casseurs”, but very little about that of the cops (several serious injuries at demos and blockades, lots of arrests, kids locked in the cells) and that of the complicity of the racist demo stewards.

Some striking demonstrators

Certainly these texts over-simplify things a bit, but they are a good slap in the face for all those who crudely ideologise all "casseurs" as thugs.
A great deal more has happened, and certainly more can and will be said. But for the moment, I'll leave it at that.

Comments

varlet
Oct 21 2010 11:03

Theres a blog in English which has some texts and info here:
http://liensjournal.wordpress.com/

Red Marriott
Oct 21 2010 11:33

Graffiti recently seen in France;

Quote:
Let's strike until we retire!!

grin

Steven.
Oct 21 2010 14:56

A friend of mine is teaching English in a small town near the Pyrenees, Pau, population 80,000. The other day 25,000 people were in the streets there against the reforms, and today she is off work as the school is blockaded by the kids.

baboon
Oct 22 2010 17:14

Given the declaration of war on the proletariat by the European ruling classes then a more up to date and appropriate slogan than the one above is: "The best form of retreat is attack!" Retirement from work and retreat being the same word in France.

Jason Cortez
Oct 22 2010 21:30

And you guys wonder why you have a reputation as humourless drones. laugh out loud

baboon
Oct 23 2010 17:09

This may be the wrong place to put this but the situation is still unfolding. I trust admin to put in the right place.
The European bourgeoisie has declared war on the proletariat and from Greece, through Spain, Ireland, Portugal and Britain the bourgeoisie are standing firm, stepping up the attacks even. In Britain, the TUC are organising a demonstration for next March! In France the proletariat has taken to the streets and, in small, embryonic ways, we have seen attempts at self-organisation. Below is the latest translation from the ICC’s French section which has been working closely with the CNT-AIT in at least two areas of the country. I’ve put brackets where I don’t understand the phrase or word and I am responsible for any translation errors. The article is on the ICC’s French website forum.

“BRIEF CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS OF STRUGGLE AGAINST THE RETIREMENT REFORM (Oct. 22 2010)

We are publishing a brief chronology of different events and stages of the movement of struggle against the retirement reform that has been developing in France for some months.
We will complete this listing as events occur.
This movement is already rich in lessons for the world proletariat. Faced with the propagandist lies of the state and of the international press, it is imperative that the witnesses to and different information on the struggle circulate and that they are distributed here and in every country. We thus encourage all our readers to complete the chronology below (by its nature very bitty and incomplete) by using our discussion forum (we’ll try hard, given our resources, to translate these texts in the main languages).

March 23rd
The intersyndicale (which regroups almost all of the French unions, from the openly “collaborationist” with the government to the so-called “radical”) calls the first Day of Action.
800,000 demonstrators come onto the streets. The atmosphere is rather dull with resignation dominating. We should say that the pension attacks have been prepared for months, even years. Politicians, the media, “specialists” of all types haven’t stopped saying that this reform is indispensable, inevitable, that they are following a “regime of redistribution” and of “national budgetary equilibrium”. Moreover, the slogan of the unions is not “withdraw the attack on the retired”, but “the management of reform”, they call for a fight for “more state-union negotiations” and for a “fairer and more human” reform.
In brief, state, bosses, unions, affirm that this sacrifice is “a salutary necessity”. Faced with this bulldozer, discontent is great on the demonstration but heads are down.

May 26
(Rebote?) Much the same and it begins again. The intersyndicale calls a second Day of Action with the same modalities and the same slogans.
There’s a small increase in numbers (one million) but the atmosphere is still marked by the lack of hope.

June 24
The unions think that they have thrust home the coup de grace to the movement. A third Day of Action is programmed. Taking account of the relatively morose atmosphere of the two preceding, this Day of Action on the eve of the holidays was to be a sort of “burial demonstration”. The mechanism was well-oiled. A Day of Action of the same breadth as the preceding ones would signify that the “business was broken”. With the two months of summer holidays which followed the aim was to give a sense of hopelessness to any possible development of the struggle. The unions had already prepared their speeches: “We tried, but the combativity wasn’t there in the ranks of the workers” Guaranteed discouragement!
This technique had already been tested many times in the past, often with success. But... bang! June 24 two million workers, unemployed, precarious workers also come onto the streets.
Beyond the numbers, the ambiance also changes, the groundswell of anger grows. Since the acceleration of the crisis in 2008, poverty and injustice had continued to increase. The changes to retirement became the symbol of this brutal degradation of conditions of life.

July-August
The Day of Action of June 24 has reignited the morale of the proletariat. The idea that a widespread struggle is possible gains ground. Evidently, the unions also feel the wind change; they know that the question “how do we struggle” is running through the heads of workers. They immediately decide to occupy the ground and the spirit. For them it’s not a question that the workers can think and act for themselves, outside of their control. Thus they announce that following June 24 another Day of Action will take place just after the return from holidays (on September 7).
In order to better stop this “autonomous reflection” they go as far as flying planes around beaches with streamers publicising the demonstration on September 7.
But another event of diverse proportions occurs during the summer feeding the workers’ anger: “l’affaire Woerth”. It is a connivance between current politicians in power and one of the richest heiresses of French capital, Madame Betancourt, boss of l’Oreal, and its basis is financial fraud and illegal arrangements in every aspect. But Eric Woerth is none other than the minister charged with the retirement reform. The feeling of injustice is total. The working class must tighten its belt while the rich and the powerful conduct their petty affairs.

September 7
This Day of Action straightaway shows itself to be very well attended. However it’s the first time that a demonstration is organised so early in the school year. Even before September 7, in the face of the extent of the grumbling going on in the working class, the unions promised to organise straightaway a new demonstration on the Saturday (4 days later) so that “everyone can participate”.
September 7: 2.7 million demonstrators. The summer break has done nothing to cool things down and the return from holidays is still hot from where it left off. Appeals for rolling strikes begin to flourish.
Faced with the breadth of complaints and the massivity of the mobilisation, the intersyndicale reacts immediately; it cancels, apropos of nothing (mine de rien?), Saturday’s demonstration, puts to one side the possibility of a rolling strike and announces to the crowd a new Day of Action in... 15 days time (September 23)! They are trying to break the dynamic of the struggle using a delaying tactic. This “sense of responsibility” of the intersyndicale will later be saluted by the highest representatives of the French state.

September 23
3 million demonstrators in the streets! The movement swells still more. For the first time the demonstrators hesitate to disperse at the end. More precisely, in numerous towns, dozens of people here, hundreds there, stay to discuss at the end of the demonstration. Some leaflets combining different sectors (interprofessionelle) begin to call for the workers to organise the struggle themselves . In some towns the CNT AIT organises Popular Assemblies for “free speech” (the ICC then joined in with this excellent initiative). From this moment these Assemblies achieved a certain success regrouping several dozen participants each week, notably around Toulouse .
This will to self-organisation by some minorities shows that the whole class is beginning to pose questions on the union strategy without yet daring to draw out all the consequences, doubts and questions.

October 2
The first demonstration organised on a Saturday. There’s no real evolution in the number of participants. Only within these 3 million we find side by side, with the “customs of the street”, families and public sector workers not used to going on strike.
Several attempts to organise street Assemblies at the end of the demonstration fail:
- In Paris a leaflet is distributed by the interprofessionelle Turbin (its mail name) calling to come together under the banners “the best retreat (play on the French word for retirement) is attack” and “Take control of our struggles” by a kiosk where the demonstration arrives. The large presence of police with cameras here shows that this information on a rendez-vous had been well circulated. But there was no clear area for discussion to take place and the Assembly couldn’t be undertaken. The numbers of the interprofessionelle thus decided to continue onto the demonstration. About 50 people left under their banners, in an hour it was more than 300.
- At Tours, a committee “For the extension of struggle” gave out leaflets to “protect the streets”.
- At Lyon, some dozens of demonstrators expressed the wish not to quit immediately and to stay and discuss in street assemblies in order to collectively reflect upon how to continue and develop the movement. The CGT’s (France’s biggest union) speakers with their deafening row were finally fatal to this initiative and any real debate was prevented by the noise.

These abortive attempts show both the effort of our class to take ITS struggle in hand and the still present difficulties of the current period (mainly a lack of confidence which is holding back the exploited).
However, at Toulouse popular assemblies continued to be held. The initiative took on a life after the CNT-AIT and the ICC planted banners at the point of arrival on which one could read “WAGE WORKERS, UNEMPLOYED, RETIRED, ORGANISE OUR STRUGGLES YOURSELVES!” and organised under them a street assembly. This debate regrouped dozens of people.

October 12
A new Day of Action bringing together 3.5 million people into the struggle! Record numbers.
More important still, there’s a relatively effervescent atmosphere. Interprofessionelle General Assemblies begin to multiply and several dozen can be counted throughout France. Each of them regroups 100 to 200 participants. The policy of the intersyndicale is more and more openly criticised in a number of interprofessionelle leaflets even affirming that they were willingly leading us to defeat . Proof of this dynamic was in Toulouse with more Popular Assemblies organised by the CNT-AIT (and in a lesser measure, the ICC). An appeal is launched to organise a street assembly every day in front of the Bourse de Travail at 18h (they are still continuing to meet to date, ie, October 20) and to launch appeals by leaflets.
The rolling strike is decided upon by the majority of the unions. Taking account of the marathon (the movement began 7 months ago) and numerous days of strikes posed by the workers at the repetitive Days of Action, this rolling strike occurs very late. The wages of workers have been largely cut. This was in any case calculated by the unions. This movement however is relatively well followed.
Among the railworkers and the teachers of the Paris region numerous union GAs are organised. The division and the sabotage verges here on the ridiculous. At SNCF the union GA is organised by category (drivers on one side, ticket-collectors on the other, admin workers in another corner still), in some hospitals each floor has its own GA! Further they are absolutely not sovereign. For example, the Gare de l’Est in Paris, the rolling strike must be voted on Thursday the 14th in the morning, the permanent union voted on it the Wednesday evening. This strategy had a double effect:
- it emptied interest in the GA, no-one coming since everything was already decided.
- it allowed the media to present the votes for a rolling strike as the fruit of an extreme minority, this with the aim of making the movement unpopular.
Moreover, the unions pulled their greatest strings: paralyse transport (from October 12 numerous trains didn’t run) and the blockage of refineries to plan the shortage of fuel to create tensions within the working class and to stand those that wanted (had to) go to work against the strikers.

October 16
Second Saturday of demonstrations. Once again around 3 million on the streets to fight.
The new element is that youth, schoolchildren come in their turn into the struggle joining some days earlier and leading the processions.
The Monday following close to a 1000 schools are blocked and numerous school demonstrations occur spontaneously. The UNL, the main school and non-student union, which has launched this movement, itself admits that it’s been by-passed by the breadth of the mobilisation.
The state exploits the presence of some young hotheads in the schoolchildren’s ranks in order to violently repress some “obstructers” and young demonstrators (a youngster of 17 lost an eye following a hit from a “Flash-ball” at Montreuil in the Paris area). The forces of order moreover stir up anger with real “police provocations”. The aim is clear: degenerate the movement by plunging it into blind violence and sterile confrontations with the cops. Through these means the state tries at all costs to make the movement unpopular, to frighten the youth, their parents and all the working class.

October 18
The students, who were at the heart of the victorious movement against the CPE in 2006, seem to begin to rejoin the dance. Some faculties (notably Paris, Rennes and Toulouse) announce their blockage, but for the moment these remain relatively minority moments.

October 19
The threat of the refineries blockage, planned since October 12, is effectively undertaken. In general, without any decision of the GA, the troops of the CGT paralyse the sites under the orders of the union. Fuel runs out very quickly in a number of stations (between one and two thousands according to estimates).
The mobilisation also grows at SNCF, more and more trains are cancelled.
Despite this paralysis of transport, the movement does not become unpopular. Even the media habitually endowed with its street antennas where the “customers” express their hatred of not having transport or trains has to admit this time that the “customers” are behind the movement, that they are impatient, they fully support the strikers because “they are fighting for everyone”. Some union GAs and some interprofessionelles decided to support the blockage of the refineries (which suffered from numerous police assaults, some of them brutal, in order to “free the refineries”, “re-establish order” and “stop the hooligans” (as said the President of the Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy).
The result; the lack of fuel and of trains, despite the intimidation and repression, 3.5 million are again and still on the streets October 19. That shows the depth of the anger which rumbles on through the workers’ ranks!
Faced with the breadth of this mobilisation, the state tightens the vice of the cosh and the Flash-ball a little more. In particular, at Lyon, a massive deployment of the cops awaits the arrival of the lines of demonstrators. A real challenge, these agents willingly stir up hatred within the youth. A handful gives way to this provocation. The repression thus comes down in an unleashing of violence, the cops hitting everything that moves – the youth involved and any youngsters around. But it also falls on older heads (the lines from the South felt the cost of this hammering). The state certainly felt that it had gone too far and some ministers launched “appeals for calm” (directed at their own troops in reality). The demonstration in Paris then unfolded “without shocks”, as the press strongly underlined.

To sum up: the movement has developed as a swell over 7 months. The anger is immense. The claims against the retirement reform tend to pass into second place; the media recognises that the movement politicises itself. It’s the whole misery, precariousness, exploitation, etc., which are openly rejected. Solidarity between different sectors is on the increase. But for now, the working class hasn’t really achieved taking the struggle into its own hands. It wants to more and more, it tries to with minority attempts here and there, it distrusts, in a growing fashion, the intersyndicale but it hasn’t really yet achieved organising itself collectively through autonomous and sovereign General Assemblies the type of which constituted the heart of the movement against the CPE in 2006 and which gave them so much strength. The working class still seems to be lacking confidence in itself. The unfolding of the struggle to come will tell us if it can overcome this difficulty this time. There will be a next time! The present is rich in the promise of future struggles.

To be continued...
The ICC

Baderneiro Miseravel
Oct 23 2010 17:55

Samotnaf, could you clarify what this bit of the text means, as I'm having some trouble translating it:

Quote:
From the Right and the Left and taken up, for the most part, by the media, the High school students on strike have been treated as “casseurs coming from the estates”

You mean the right and left do the same thing as the media? Or that the whole deal of calling them casseurs was invented by the left and right?

Thanks for the reports and solidarity with the french students!

Beltov
Oct 23 2010 18:19

Slightly different (though maybe not better!) translation of the article Baboon posted on the ICC's site here:
http://en.internationalism.org/icconline/2010/10/chronology-of-pension-reform-protests-france

Samotnaf
Oct 23 2010 19:03
Quote:
Samotnaf, could you clarify what this bit of the text means, as I'm having some trouble translating it:
Quote:
From the Right and the Left and taken up, for the most part, by the media, the High school students on strike have been treated as “casseurs coming from the estates”

You mean the right and left do the same thing as the media? Or that the whole deal of calling them casseurs was invented by the left and right?

I didn't write this - i translated it. It's specifically about the rioters in Lyon. It seems to mean that the Right and the Left were the ones who initially called them "casseurs who had nothing to do with the lycee movement", and that this was repeated by the media. So, I'd say it was the Right and the Left (specifically the Socialist Party and the Communist Party, though others as well)who 'invented' the idea of calling them casseurs, though the 'invention' goes way back to the early 1970s and is constantly repeated even by some people who are not in those parties and should begin to know better.

varlet
Oct 24 2010 13:47

They should begin to know better indeed...

It looks like after Saturday's protest, a group of about 300 post-march "casseurs" got arrested by the police for storming the Bastille Opera. The whole thing seemed to have received a lot of media attention too.

But according to the account of one of those arrested, the whole thing was organised by the police, who had a few of them disguised as "casseurs", then led the crowd into the opera, only for them to be suddenly surrounded by cops, who were nowhere to be found a couple of minutes before, including when a "casseur" broke the window of a bank.
Heres the video, of a "casseur" breaking a window, with conveniently no police around and who was lucky enough to find the right tool nearby. All resemblance with a plain clothed cop is purely coincidal:
video

Heres the above mentioned account, in French sorry:
Account

The person explains how once everyone was in the opera, people with hoods started arresting others, telling them to shut up, and then after a while put back their police armbands again.
Despite what was said in the media, the opera was apparently not trashed by the "casseurs". And how could they know, the cops were blocking access to the opera.
The "casseurs" got charged with "damage to goods by an armed gang".

Samotnaf
Oct 24 2010 14:11

Not the story I heard, nico: according to my sources, they openly (if true, not very clever) talked about doing a Bakunin and Marx Brothers' Night At The Opera at a General Assembly, went along and about 100 cops dressed as bourgeois opera-goers suddenly put on their armbands and nicked 80 of them. They had only intended to disrupt the opera, rather like autonomists and Metropolitan Indians did in Italy in the 70s. But maybe the guy who told me got it wrong, or maybe the person who told you wanted to mythologise it or...who knows?

proletairesinte...
Oct 24 2010 18:11

We translated in English our leaflets, as well as several documents that seem to us to be important in the development of the current class struggles in France. We would like to apologize for the mistakes in translations, which sometimes sound as “Frenglish”, but it’s the concern for internationalism that prevails.

What’s This Life? (Originally in French: Quelle est cette vie?)
We are ONE, let’s be ALL!
Down with social peace!

Baderneiro Miseravel
Oct 24 2010 19:00
Samotnaf wrote:
Quote:
Samotnaf, could you clarify what this bit of the text means, as I'm having some trouble translating it:
Quote:
From the Right and the Left and taken up, for the most part, by the media, the High school students on strike have been treated as “casseurs coming from the estates”

You mean the right and left do the same thing as the media? Or that the whole deal of calling them casseurs was invented by the left and right?

I didn't write this - i translated it. It's specifically about the rioters in Lyon. It seems to mean that the Right and the Left were the ones who initially called them "casseurs who had nothing to do with the lycee movement", and that this was repeated by the media. So, I'd say it was the Right and the Left (specifically the Socialist Party and the Communist Party, though others as well)who 'invented' the idea of calling them casseurs, though the 'invention' goes way back to the early 1970s and is constantly repeated even by some people who are not in those parties and should begin to know better.

Right, that's more or less what I had thought but I really had a tough time understanding what was it meant. This should help with the translation and clarified the situation, so thanks.

varlet
Oct 26 2010 12:22
Quote:
Samotnaf wrote
Not the story I heard, nico: according to my sources, they openly (if true, not very clever) talked about doing a Bakunin and Marx Brothers' Night At The Opera at a General Assembly, went along and about 100 cops dressed as bourgeois opera-goers suddenly put on their armbands and nicked 80 of them.

Yeah dont know, you might be right or the truth might be somewhere in between. I didnt mean to say that it was all organised by the police anyway but meant to stress how the police infiltrate the protests, act as "casseurs" etc as the video clearly shows. They're not unusual tactics but they work and its become a bit of a habit for the media to report on "post-protest-riots" even when theres nothing to report on...

A couple of days ago a leftist MP (Melenchon) openly accused the police of instructing its officers to infiltrate the protests. A police union asked for the government to sue him...

Samotnaf
Oct 26 2010 16:47

I certainly am not going to confirm what Melenchon said; after a 19 year old wrongly arrested for being drunk driving got sent to prison for 3 months for insulting the cops who nicked him on his own facebook page, I think it's probably best to leave such outrageous accusations to those who might have the means and clout to defend themselves against the government suing them. However, someone told a friend of the cousin of my former partner's brother-in-law's dog that things like that may possibly have happened occasionally.