Killing for development - M.A.R.C.U.S.E. (Autonomous Movement for Critical Reflection for the Use of the Survivors of the Economy)

A brief analysis of the implications and broader significance of the ZAD movement in France (ZAD: Zones to Defend) in the wake of the killing of a demonstrator on October 26, 2014 who was protesting against the construction of a dam in southwest France.

Submitted by Alias Recluse on December 20, 2014

Killing for Development – M.A.R.C.U.S.E. 1

A twenty-one year old man was killed on the night of October 25-26, 2014 in Sivens. Today no one disputes the fact that it was a grenade—a weapon of war—fired by a member of a squad of riot police, that instantly killed him.2

Within less than 48 hours, the press and the political elite of the country disclosed the results of an expert report, which has been a matter of public record for several days, which really gave the Testet dam project a good thrashing: it is too big, it destroys too much of the environment and, basically, it is debatable whether or not it is even needed. In short, the construction project should have never been started. Too bad for the numerous people who were injured in September, especially by rubber bullets, when they tried to form a human wall to prevent the destruction of the forest. And above all, too bad for Rémi F. Everyone was right to protest, but they protested too soon, since for Carcenac (president of the departmental government of Tarn, one of the sponsors of the project) and Gentilhomme (the Prefect of Tarn [the central government’s administrative official in the Department of Tarn]), it is inconceivable that construction should be suspended in order to await the results of this report. We live in a world where it is often useless to be right.

And too bad even more for Rémi F., for his family and for his friends who shed tears for his death: not only did he depart this life in a place where numerous public figures are now saying that deforestation was not necessary. Above all, however, too bad that he was struck down by gendarmes who did not have to be there at all … who were not seeking confrontations with those demonstrators who were in the habit of treating the police so ruthlessly. We shall recall that there was nothing, neither machinery, nor construction materials, which needed to be protected during the demonstration of October 25. The goal of the police was merely to provide the television networks with a handful of images of guerrilla violence so they could broadcast them over the following days, for the purpose of assuaging at least part of the local opinion alarmed by the violence employed by the authorities in September, when they still thought that was the best way that the project could be pushed forward. Carcenac and Gentilhomme knew that after the demonstrations of the weekend, there were no more arguments in favor of their dam, that Ségolène Royal [Socialist Party politician, currently the Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy] would hang them out to dry, etc. They rushed to fabricate a new argument: the protesters were “violent” and “troublemakers”.

The police media operation subsequently set in motion, this time on a national scale, is of the same quality: the multitude of protests that have taken place over the last few years on French soil against infrastructure projects, such as, for example, highways, high-speed trains, airports, and even a stadium and a factory-farm…. The message of Manuel Valls, his police chiefs and his media spokespersons is clear: anyone who opposes these projects in a determined and consistent manner (no means no) are just so many rioters, Bonnots and Ravachols, who sow violence and destruction wherever they are allowed to fester.

This was a practical response, since the message avoids any attempt to debate and justify the violence and the devastation that are required on a daily basis, all over the world, by the operation of nuclear power plants, the manufacture of cell phones or the spraying of pesticides—on the one hand, uranium and coltan mines, whose working conditions are hellish; on the other hand, civil wars and peasants expelled from their lands; everywhere, polluted water and skyrocketing rates of cancer. Better to talk about a broken store window in Albi than the appalling vista of the decimated forest of Sivens or the consequences for human health of agricultural productivism. Better to throw a few more television watchers into the arms of Marine Le Pen by brandishing the specter of anarchy, than to allow the population to get a glimpse of the methods of struggle that offer a way out of political impotence and hopelessness.

On the day after the death of Rémi F., Carcenac made the following delirious proclamation: “dying for an idea has its value, but it is still relatively foolish and stupid”. We respond to this scumbag: “To kill for private interests and for development is abject, even if, when considered in the planetary context, it is trivial.” For if we must see the death of Rémi as the consequence of an idea, that idea is none other than the one that is the constant obsession of all the managers of this world, from the second in command of a small business to the highest echelons of the State, and including the most insignificant little local elected official: economic development at any price; jobs, even if they are useless and harmful; infinite growth, in order to continue to be (or to become) more attractive to investment than your next-door neighbor, thus consolidating your power.

On that same day, Carcenac’s soul emitted another utterance of the following kind: “If every project that someone does not like has to be protected this way, what will become of us?” Indeed, what will become of us if people were to devote their attention to matters that concern them, rather than just allowing their self-proclaimed representatives to take care of everything on their behalf, filling their pockets and those of their corporate colleagues? These days, the French oligarchy is hounded by a looming fear: that it might not be possible to undertake construction projects for industrial infrastructure in this country without stirring up well-informed, determined and independently organized opponents. That it will no longer be possible to turn on the money making machinery without some simple citizens coming along and clamorously raising the vexing questions that necessarily arise: what is this project for, who will benefit from it, what consequences will it have for our way of life?

This is why it is so important for the State to prevent a youth movement from emerging, since it would all at once question the (police) means and (capitalist) ends of its action. What will become of us if some high school or college students were to demand the disarmament of the police, denouncing the racist crimes that are committed every day in the banlieus and the savage repression meted out against anti-capitalist demonstrations? Where would it stop, if the different Zones to be Defended [ZAD: Zone à défendre] maintained against fast-track industrial and commercial infrastructure projects were to establish relations with each other and to be coordinated and federated, not only in words, but in deeds?

It is hard to discern with certainty where such a development would lead us, but taking that road is the best thing that could happen.

A few steps from the Sivens forest, in mid-November 2014,

M.A.R.C.U.S.E. (Autonomous Movement for Critical Reflection for the Use of Survivors of the Economy)

Translated in December 2014 from the Spanish translation of the editors of the Spanish journal, Argelaga.

  • 1 Autonomous Movement for Critical Reflection for the Use of the Survivors of the Economy.
  • 2 Information concerning this incident may be accessed at: