Praise for ZAD - Some unfanatical zadophiles from Nantes, Grenoble, Carcassonne and other places

A brief encomium for the ZADs of France (ZAD: Zone to Defend), local organizations of anarchist-influenced anti-development activists fighting against construction projects (e.g., airports, dams, eco-tourism) that threaten to destroy communities, ways of life and nature, written and distributed after the French riot police killed a demonstrator on October 26, 2014 in Sivens who was protesting against a massive dam project.

Submitted by Alias Recluse on December 20, 2014

Praise for ZAD1 – Some Unfanatical Zadophiles from Nantes, Grenoble, Carcassonne and Other Places

As the different versions of the incident that were intended to distort the motives for the murder of Rémi F. by the State fade away—from the lies mixed with the truth that is sometimes to be found in the official discourse, to the gradual dissolution of responsibility as one rises up the hierarchy (I was just following orders, I was only part of the chain of command, you cannot question your orders)—there is no need to limit ourselves to requesting, even firmly, resignations, police reforms, etc.

For the target that night at Sivens was the scandal that the very existence of the ZAD represented, as well as its possible spread. The ZADs and their supporters do not merely seek to prevent a rearrangement of the territory, but to make another use of it entirely, and this is the audacity of that program, still rudimentary, which is really beginning to disturb the advocates of developmentalist nihilism. A ZAD is a territory where the people have decided to construct their life by bypassing institutions. It is constituted as a “zone to be defended” but its perspectives and its reason for existence are actually offensive, since it is also the ideal location for an absolute opposition to the enormous devastation of planning; where one can experience human relations outside of cash, hierarchy, and economic (and ecological) utilitarianism, in short, outside of the one-way thinking of those who are obsessed with growth; the place where one can attempt to elaborate a utopia within the reach of the struggle.

“To give body to the communes, occasional assemblies are not enough, since what we are trying to do is to create community. If we want to create a situation where diverse uses of the territory can coexist, different relations with the world that unfold in this grove, then we have to create habits, rituals, solidarity and common customs. We have to multiply the moments of work in common, we have to create a more concentrated network of exchanges and mutual aid, the presents or gifts and counter-gifts that fortify the bonds between us. In order to do so we have to construct other spaces, experiment with other tools, other practices, other forms of association besides the assemblies, no matter how indispensable the latter may be. We have to make our encounters more profound, we have to make the bridges between worlds more solid, we have to make the improbable friendships made during the struggle more secure.” (“From ZADs to Communes? Some Notes for Further Exploration…”, a text that was circulated in Notre-Dame-des-Landes).

There is no doubt that this kind of ideal practiced and erected into a common platform can serve to crystallize and federate a mass of protests and the weariness provoked by this society. As for the Sivens dam, the joint ownership of 183 small private dams, with a capacity that is more than triple that of the planned reservoir, would accelerate the necessary dismantling of industrial totalitarianism.

The possibility of a multiplication of ZADs is a nightmare for the system and that is why it is beginning to mobilize its civil society shock troops. In Albi, the FNSEA (the dominant trade union of productivist farmers: Fédération Nationale des Syndicats d'Exploitants d'Agricoles) organized a pro-dam demonstration and denounced the ZADists as “green jihadis”; in Nantes, the BTP (the State Bureau of Construction and Public Works) and its subsidiary organizational tentacles staged a march demanding the immediate resumption of work on the airport, accusing the ACIPA (the association of those affected by the airport: Association citoyenne intercommunale des populations concernées par le projet d'aéroport de Notre-Dame-des-Landes) and the Greens of being “the legal façade for an armed movement” (everyone knows that they are talking about the ZADists); in Grenoble, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry is coordinating private economic interests to force the imposition of eco-tourism in the Chambarans forest; in Carcassonne, the productivist farmers hold up signs that say, “Death to the wolves and the ecologists (the ecologists first)”.

There should not be the least doubt that in time and with the support of all the representatives of the government machinery, these lunatics will arrive at a more precise definition of all those who really stand in their way. And the same goes for us.

Some Non-fanatic Zadophiles from Nantes, Grenoble, Carcassonne and Other Places
[Undated—written sometime in October-November 2014]

Contact: [email protected]

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

  • 1 ZAD: Zone à défendre, “zone to be defended”, a strategy of ecological defense devised to fight against destructive construction projects such as dams (Sivens), airports (Notre-Dame-des-Landes), etc. [American translator’s note]