Here are three documents we translated in English and that seem to us to be important. We would like to apologize for the mistakes in translations, which sometimes sound as “Frenglish”, but it’s the concern for internationalism that prevails.
The State and Bosses only understand one Language… (1)
Strike, Blockage, Sabotage
Since several days many initiatives flourish everywhere: blockages of “lycées” (2), railway stations, refineries, motorways; occupation of public buildings, workplaces, shopping malls; targeted power cuts; ransacking of election committee rooms and town halls…
In each city these actions are intensifying the balance of forces and showing that numerous are those who are not satisfied anymore with shapes of actions and mottos imposed by the union leadership. In the region of Paris, within the blockages of high schools and railway stations, within the strikes in primary schools, within the workers’ pickets before factories, there are inter-professional assemblies and collectives of struggles trying to break isolation and categories separations. Their starting point is self-organization to answer to the necessity to appropriate our struggles without the mediation of those who pretend to speak on behalf of the workers. We are numerous who don’t get organized according to the usual shapes of the strike on a workplace and nevertheless who want to contribute to the general movement of blockage of the economy. Because this movement is also an opportunity to go beyond the sole issue of retirement, to ask the question of work, to develop and to put together a criticism of the exploitation.
From these questioning, we decided this Saturday to occupy the Bastille Opera. It was about disrupting a performance live broadcasted on the radio, to be trouble-makers in a place where cultural commodity is circulating and to organize an assembly in there. All together we were thus more than one thousand on Nation Square around the banners “bosses only understand one language: strike, blockage, sabotage” and “against exploitation, let’s block the economy”, and also with the desire to overcome the closely delimited framework of the union demo. We went back from beginning to end of the procession (3) to the place of the action, and to finally initiate a free demonstration, although surrounded by a large contingent of police. Very quickly, more than one hundred plain-clothes cops, helped by the union team of stewards (4), divided the procession in two, preventing a certain number of people to join us. With eggs and firecrackers we have as much as possible taken the pigs away from our demo and ultimately we left some traces on our way. Let’s recall in passing to those who don’t find anything better to do than to speculate about infiltrated policemen from pictures stolen by journo-cops (5) that it’s out of the question to lament over two shop windows of banks whose attack only constitutes a mild answer to the Capital’s violence.
Once we reached the end point at Bastille, only about fifty people finally entered in the opera, because of police pressure and confusion, while the others chose to disperse. Cops who had deployed on the square succeeded in arresting about forty people who have been kept in police custody in several police stations. Monday evening, most of them have been released, but at least 5 others aren’t and will come up before the judge this Tuesday and would be prosecuted for forming an armed crowd and damages caused as an organized group.
As ever, the power chooses to repress fast and strong, hoping to accentuate or to create separations (between reasonable unionists and “hardliners” (6), between “lycéens” (7) and “casseurs” (8)…) and to break everything that participates in making emerge a real balance of forces against the state and bosses. The police draw their “flashball” and “tonfas” against “lycéens” a little too much vigorous. Workers of refineries are assaulted by cops but they also are directly threatened by prosecution and requisitioning by the “préfet” (9). The combative demonstrators who will decide to not disperse peacefully could end up in prison, as it happened in Saint-Nazaire. Since the beginning of the movement more than 1,000 people have already been arrested…
The increasing number of initiatives escaping the usual gravediggers of the struggles is a clear refutation to all those who would like to isolate some black sheep and prevent the protest to call into question what is daily accepted, beyond the fact to know how many years we have to pay our contributions. These actions allow us to foresee the possibility of a movement where corporatist struggles are overcame, where bureaucrats get out of their depth, where the struggle is not limited to defend alleged social benefits.
THERE IS MUCH MORE TO TAKE THAN WHAT THEY WANT US TO BELIEVE!
GIVE UP THE PROSECUTION. FREEDOM FOR ALL…
Contact: [email protected]
Meeting point: Inter-professional assembly on Wednesday 20th at 8 p.m. at the CICP (21ter Voltaire Street, Paris 11th)
1. [All the notes are translator’s notes] Originally published in French: L’état et les patrons ne comprennent qu’un seul langage…, on Monday October 18th 2010, translated by Prolétaires Internationalistes.
2. High schools.
3. Literally in French: “Nous avons remonté la fin du cortège à contresens”.
4. Literally in French: “le service d’ordre des syndicats”.
5. French play on words: “journaflics” is a combination of “journalist” and “flics” = “cops”.
6. Literally in French: “jusqu’au-boutistes”.
7. High school students.
8. Literally “breakers”, it’s a word invented by the bourgeoisie (government, media…) for “rioters”.
9. In France, a “préfet” is a high-ranking civil servant who represents the state at the level of the “department” or the “region”.
“In times of crisis you want to step up strike action? You’ll pay for that…”
Union leadership, employers and right-wing as well as left-wing governments, share the same sense of responsibility. In the name of “economic realism”, we should accept the necessity of an always harder exploitation. This is the ideological weapon systematically used against whoever rebels against this system.
“In times of crisis you want to block the economy? You will have to take layoffs upon yourself…”
In the name of this kind of false obvious facts, some union leadership don’t even ask that the reform be withdrawn. Others, for tactical reasons, ask for the withdrawal, but refuse to give themselves the means through a real balance of forces: through the general strike, blocking, sabotaging, etc. The unions, which pretend to speak in the name of the workers, have a function: to manage jointly this class society through negotiation and mediation.
Today, the unions are in the forefront and they try by all means to control and to contain the protest, while monopolizing the broad lines of the workers’ demands. The main issue is to prevent a stepping up of the struggle: each communiqué of Chérèque (2) and Thibault (3) mentions their fear about the disputes to race out of control.
Indeed, there are many workers who spend their life while working themselves to death for the bosses and who don’t want to fight only to preserve the remnants left by the bourgeois. There are also many who are not concerned directly by the reform: RMIsts (4) and unemployed, contract workers, casual workers, undocumented, “lycéens” (5), and students to whom the labour market won’t allow to contribute the necessary years, pensioners getting a starvation pension, etc. All these nevertheless certainly intend to take part to the burgeoning movement. We are many to wait from a social movement more than an adjustment of an umpteenth law, or even its withdrawal. We are many to want that a real balance of forces is established beyond the sham strikes that materialize with the processions in the street between “Republic” and “Nation” (6).
Since the beginning of the mobilizations, whereas the media persist in wretchedly keeping on repeating and drawing up columns of figures, a certain number of initiatives flourish through the country in margin of the “Unitarian marches”.
So, during the previous day of strike, on September the 23rd:
In Amiens, the salaried of the North industrial zone block their workplace all the day long, whereas go-slows (7) are organized in the entire region.
In the region of Nantes, workers block the roads while demonstrators wall in the UMP (8) office of Basse-Goulaine.
Around Chôlet, the Struggle Committee for the Pensions (CLR) organizes an operation free toll on the motorway A87.
In Saint-Nazaire furious demonstrators violently clash with the police.
This same week of September the 23rd, in Marseille, several movements of renewable strike are launched: canteens, cashiers of supermarkets, etc.
In Fos-sur-Mer oil terminal agents are in strike since two weeks. They have been joined since October the 7th by Dockers and Dockers’ port agents.
On October the 1st, anaesthetist nursing staff blocks the Champs Elysées.
General Assemblies [AG] were held with self-organization for starting point, for example inter-professional AGs at Gare de l’Est on some railway workers’ and teachers’ initiative, and some “AGs for an offensive strike”. In these AGs people get organized who share the will to act outside of the union leadership and beyond categories separations (workers, unemployed, precarious, public sector vs. private sector).
And, the latest thing this month of October, “lycéens” strongly join hostilities. Eighty “lycées” (9) blocked into two days, it’s great…
Without initiatives that go beyond the institutional framework, without a strike overcoming the union leadership, there won’t be any balance of forces, which could give birth to a real social movement. A movement where corporatist struggles are overcame, where bureaucrats get out of their depth, where the actions answer to wider preoccupations than the only question of retirements, where the struggle is not limited to defend alleged social benefits.
Let’s not stop now after such a good start and let’s organize our angers.
There is much more to take than what they want to leave us!
On October the 12th at 1 p.m.: meeting place for a procession at Notre Dame des Champs Church, on the corner of Montparnasse Street and Montparnasse Boulevard.
On October the 13th at 5 p.m.: Inter-professional AG at Bourse du Travail, metro station “Republic”.
1. [All the notes are translator’s notes] Originally published in French: Contre l'exploitation, bloquons l'économie!, on Sunday October 10th 2010, translated by Prolétaires Internationalistes.
2. CFDT union leader.
3. CGT union leader.
4. Persons receiving welfare payment.
5. High school students, which are since decades a combative sector in the class struggles in France.
6. Classical and official route for all union demonstrations in Paris between both squares.
7. In French “operations escargots”, literally “operations snail’s pace”.
8. Right-wing and presidential party.
9. High schools.
What’s this life? When it’s the violence of the alarm clock that drags you out of bed! When you spend hours and hours at work and commuting to work as well. When you are obliged to endure the chiefs, the noise of machines, the brightness of a screen, to be submitted, and profitable. When your body gets ruined, when back, stomach, joints, ears pains… recall you that your body is not a machine in which it could be possible to replace a faulty part by a new one. Our organs will be deficient forever, and then we will have to use medicines and other rubbishes that will destroy us a few more, that will ruin the rest of our existence… an existence of wage slave.
“The alien character of labour emerges clearly in the fact that as soon as no physical or other compulsion exists, LABOUR IS SHUNNED LIKE THE PLAGUE.”
This is the reality that sometimes you hide to yourself: you publicly praise the merits of labour; you take pleasure in what you do, whereas deep down you know that labour destroys you and that you would like to live without this burden.
Really, that’s odd! The dictatorship of the economy that obliges to sell yourselves to survive turns into a voluntary servitude: you proclaim that work is necessary! Then listen to your body and understand that capital makes you play a role, until to feel your body to fall into decay and to know that you will never make fully the most of life, until to die like your colleagues you knew so well and who died “following of extended sick leave”.
Whether we work until we are 60, or 62 years old or much more, it’s the labour itself that is called into question!
Today, in this demonstration you believe that things can change, that large numbers, noise, colours, and the pom-pom will be enough so that this law making our living conditions worse could be withdrawn. However this force of number is not a force, it’s just hot air. “Our” union leaders and left politicians count us and count on us, because for them we are only masses to be manoeuvred in order to make their governmental comeback easier. We are just an ordinary stepping stone! Back in office, what would they change to this law? Nothing! Because this society governed by the profit dictatorially imposes the extension in working time, it imposes an always more increased exploitation of labour force. And because our riposte is not equal to the attacks we have to suffer, there is no reason so that the bourgeois don’t continue in the way of austerity!
Bourgeois’ program all over the world is clear:
You have to slave away always more, always longer, while shutting up!
My friend, my fellow, my comrade, my colleague from work, it’s fatalism that one puts into your head. It’s also to believe that you are not able to do anything but perhaps to go to the polls, and clearly to do nothing to make so that life changes radically. Let’s not trust in any way those who speak in our name so that our exploitation is perpetuated. Let’s not delegate our strength to them, because we know by experience that they are ready to sell us to the highest bidder; they are great buddies with the rulers.
You could be an active force that changes the world. Today while accepting the principles of this demonstration, you stay in the role of the one who never stops moaning, and who is always manipulated. Shout as much as you want! You delegate your force whereas the power is within you. Your power is sleeping and absorbed by the routine –subway, work, television, sleep- by the isolation and the withdrawal into yourself, by the belief that only some supreme saviours are able to save you, while you work yourself to death for a fucking wage. Fear, routine, and passivity govern our semblance of life.
So break your isolation! Let’s meet each other! The big fear of the rulers, included the unions, it’s that you take responsibility for yourself instead of staying spectator and marvelling yourself at TV, what is the height of impotence. They are freaking out that you get organized with your pals while giving more strength to what you already make: from daily resistance (sabotage, pilferage, absenteeism, and breaking-off) to the organization of wildcat strikes and supporting other struggles. We are all in this world, but bitter paradox we are nothing today. Only sheep who march behind parties’ and unions’ leaders.
What can ensure the triumph of our demands is the organization of our autonomous force outside and against all the structures of the state! Outside and against the unions and political parties, whatever they are!
Proletarians contact: [email protected]
[Originally in French: Quelle est cette vie?, translated by Prolétaires Internationalistes]