Money, lies and power

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by Paul Cudenec

We all know that money is what makes this commercial world go round.

The cult of money has swept away the traditional ethical codes of humankind and become the sole indicator of “value”.

If something makes money, it is good. If it doesn’t, it is useless. If someone accumulates money, by whatever means, they are “successful”. If they don’t, they are a “failure”.

But we also all know that money is not real. It consists of nothing more than pieces of paper, or electronic figures, which are universally agreed to represent something.

For most of us, money is the whip that keeps us in line. Because we need it in order to survive, we are forced to spend the best decades of our lives working for money.

Most work does not directly give us what we need or want. It is merely a means to another means, a way of earning money so we can buy various goods and services.

The vast majority of people use money to pay for food and drink, shelter, clothing, leisure activities and whatever little luxuries are affordable in the part of the world in which they live.

What about the really “successful” people, though, the people who have accumulated unimaginably vast amounts of money, at the expense of the rest of us? What does money do for them?

It provides them with their lavish lifestyles of course – all their mansions and private jets and designer clothes and furniture and cars and plastic surgery. Money can buy people too, whether to work for their interests, massage their egos or satisfy their sexual desires.

But most of all, and most worryingly for the rest of us, it brings them power.

Lies are another important part of their domination.

There is the lie that they “deserve” their wealth because they are somehow better than the rest of us – a total inversion of the truth since the obsessive pursuit of money speaks only of ruthless and sociopathic greed.

There is the lie that all of this is somehow normal, that it is right and proper that a tiny elite are sitting smugly at the top of a pyramid of global exploitation which sees those at the bottom condemned to lives of abject misery.

And there is the lie that this world of theirs is “democratic”, that we have the freedom to collectively determine the way we live.

Anyone who is the slightest bit awake will have noticed that today this last lie is looking hollower than ever.

With the totalitarian measures being introduced on the back of the Covid panic, it looks as if the ruling class have decided to finally ditch the pretence of “liberal democracy” and its illusion of freedom.

As Frank Zappa warned: “The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater”.

I am beginning to wonder if money will be the next illusion that is ditched by the ruling class.

This is not going to happen quite yet, of course. The Covid crisis promises to be a bonanza for the richest of the rich, who will be greedily hoovering up all the wealth previously in the hands of small-scale businesses and individuals, as well as ramping up their relentless robbery of the working classes.

Not only will the ultrarich benefit from “emergency” spending by the world’s governments, but their banking branch will be happily harvesting the interest on the debts run up to pay for it all.

And of course there is all the Fourth Industrial Revolution technology in which they have invested, which will now be forced on us under the pretext of public health, and the planned monetisation of everything alive through the so-called “New Deal for Nature“.

But, as we have seen, money is just a means to an end. It is the key to the door of power and, after a few more years of what we are seeing now, the ultrarich and their vitaphobic death-cult will have all the power that they crave.

This would no longer have to be gained by buying anything, whether resources, land, infrastructure, institutions or people, because the elite would already own them.

All they would have to do is to maintain that power, by using all the totalitarian techniques of surveillance and control that are currently being rolled out at such an alarming speed.

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four merits regular re-reading and every time I do so, my eyes are opened to a new level of this extraordinarily prophetic warning.

During the torture session towards the end of the book, O’Brien asks Winston Smith why he thinks the Big Brother regime wants power.

George Orwell

Smith starts by telling O’Brien the lie he thinks his torturer wants to hear, that the Party is ruling people for their own good because “you believe that human beings are not fit to govern themselves”.

He receives a hefty electric shock for this mistake and O’Brien puts him straight, explaining: “The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power”.

He adds: “We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end… The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power”.

For centuries now, the ruling class have been stealing everything from us. They have thrown us off our land, destroyed our communities and our cultures, deprived us of our precious days of living by forcing us to work for their fake money just to survive. They have stolen our very sense of who we are, our connection to nature, to each other, to our own bodies.

And now, in 2020, they are trying to take this a step further. Just look at everything happening on the back of the Covid hysteria!

People are being forced to wear masks, symbolising their silent submission to authority, are told they now have to be bound in electronic chains and be injected with whatever toxic substances our rulers see fit.

We are not allowed to go outside unless Big Brother says so, not allowed to socialise with our friends, not allowed to ask any questions or express any dissent.

We are being stripped of our dignity, our freedom, our privacy, our autonomy, of everything that makes us human.

This is psychotic megalomania, deliberate humiliation, sadistic mistreatment amounting to torture, carried out on a global scale. We are being whipped and beaten and pissed upon, while our ruling class prison guards laugh in our faces.

And why? Because the ultrarich have utter contempt for us and want to lock us permanently down into a condition of cowed slavery.

That, for them, is the ultimate power-trip, the ultimate confirmation that they are “successful” and “superior” to us. The object of power is power. The object of domination is domination.

They have obviously calculated that they can get away with this, that their wealth, power and lies are now so all-conquering, and the majority of humankind so supine, gutless and malleable, that they will simply be able to trample all over us, for ever.

It is up to us to prove them wrong.

 

Anarchists against freedom!

by Paul Cudenec

A number of rather strange criticisms have come flying my way over the last few weeks.

For the moment I am going to address just one of them – the one which strikes me as the most serious.

I had always been under the fond impression that freedom was an untouchable cornerstone of the anarchist worldview. The word certainly features a lot in anarchist literature and culture!

However, it turns out that sometimes freedom is not a good thing at all, according to certain comrades with whom I have been exchanging views.

Their issue was with the concept of individual freedom, which they even insisted on writing in inverted commas to make their distaste for the term quite clear.

The first objection that sprung into their minds was that individual freedom was part of the language of Donald Trump and gun-toting libertarians in the USA.

This meant, according to the usual fashionable anti-logic, that anyone who believed in individual freedom was therefore dangerously contaminated with the ideologies of the American capitalist right.

Putting this absurdity aside, there is a serious point lurking in there, in that it is true that individual freedom is cited by capitalists in defence of their world of exploitation and inequality.

The anarchist concept of freedom necessarily also involves a collective aspect, recognising that the freedom of the individual depends on the freedom of the society of which she or he is a part.

There is also the issue of responsibility, in that anarchists do not expect individuals to pursue their freedom at the expense of others, but to feel their responsibility to the greater whole.

As one anarchist writer has put it: “Real freedom and real responsibility are so intertwined and interdependent in their meaning as to be almost inseparable”.

The fact that this anarchist was me (in my 2015 book Forms of Freedom) should hint strongly that I am not in fact advocating the me-first kind of freedom touted by capitalist libertarians.

But this is how it apparently seemed to my critics, purely because of my opposition to the global police-state lockdown of our basic freedoms imposed on the back of the coronavirus panic.

From their point of view, it was irrresponsible to complain about loss of individual freedom (sorry, “individual freedom”) when the greater good of the community, the need to protect ourselves and others from contagion, was at stake.

I disagree with this on two levels.

In the specific context of what is happening today, I do not accept that the virus is a threat that justifies the authoritarian clamp-down on our lives that has been rolled out, as I have already stated.

Therefore, the freedom of the individual is not trumped by an overriding social responsibility to accept what is basically a state of martial law.

Moreover, because the virus has been massively exaggerated as cover for a totalitarian-financial grab of power and wealth, the true social responsibility lies in the opposite direction.

From my point of view, the freedom of the individual to seek out a quiet life by just going along with all this, by keeping his or her head down, is overriden by the responsibility to speak out, to challenge the propaganda, to alert society to what is happening and to urge people to resist.

Obviously from my critics’ stance, this is not a valid argument, because they are starting from the assumption that the virus is as real and as deadly as we have been constantly told by the authorities and their media.

This, in itself, is deeply problematic. What happened to “question everything?” It is not possible to build a critique of oppression without being prepared to challenge the assumptions used to justify that oppression.

The anarchist argument about collective responsibility, when transplanted into the soil of deceit, grows upside-down.

The logic that should require people to act for the common good is reversed and serves to instead condemn those who are acting for the common good and trying to expose the fraud.

The second level of my disagreement with these critics concerns their ideological interpretation of responsibility and freedom.

Here, I find that their thinking strays a very long way from the anarchist outlook.

I did, in fact, deal with all this in Forms of Freedom. It’s now available as a free pdf on the Winter Oak site (as are all my other books) and to understand my position in more depth, I recommend having a look.

This passage on responsibility is particularly relevant:

“Part of the confusion surrounding the term responsibility arises from the manner in which it is abused to suit certain purposes. It is often conflated with the notion of conformity or obedience not to the interests of the collectivity, but to an entity which is passing itself off as representing those interests”.

By this I meant the state, of course, as I went on to explain: the entity which tells people that their responsibility to obey orders overrules their individual freedom.

I pointed out in the book that this responsibility to obey the law is never imagined as emerging from an individual’s own judgement – hence the perceived irresponsibility of ‘taking the law into your own hands’ – but is seen as required in the interests of a collective good defined from above rather than below.

Whether that law is good or bad is irrelevant: “The important point is that the responsibility in question is seen as something that must be accepted regardless of one’s free conscience, rather than as the result of it”.

“There is an important conflict here between fake and real responsibility, between imposed and free responsibility, between responsibility dictated from the outside and responsibility assumed from the inside of the individual.

“Ultimately, those who propose an imposed responsibility do so because they are afraid of the real responsibility which emerges from within.

“An imposed responsibility can be invoked to demand obedience to arbitrary rules constructed for the selfish interests of a minority which maintains control of stolen wealth through the violence of authority in all its forms.

“A real responsibility could well lead individuals, or communities, to challenge those arbitrary rules and the phoney morality built up around them”.

“To turn our backs on the symbiotic relationship between individual and collective interests is to turn our backs on anarchism”

Anyone who champions a duty of collective responsibility which involves suppressing individual freedom is not invoking real responsibilty, but the imposed kind.

“The individual is part of the collectivity and the collectivity is made up of individuals. They are the same living thing with the same interests at heart“.

Freedom and responsibility are two aspects of the same thing and so are the individual and the collectivity.

The collectivity needs individuals to be free, because without that freedom the social organism would be dead.

“It is important for the collectivity that individuals are free to live according to the subtlest demands of their nature, for only in that way can the collectivity also live according to the subtlest demands of its nature.

“A collectivity cannot be free unless the individuals who make it up are all free. An individual cannot be free unless they are living in a collectivity which is free, that is to say in which all individuals are free”.

To turn our backs on the symbiotic relationship between individual and collective interests is to turn our backs on anarchism.

It is, in fact, to adopt a way of thinking shared by liberalism and fascism, which are not at all the opposites which they might appear, as this article explains.

Both these systems of control (the first more subtle than the second) are based on lies. They twist the truth, even reverse the meanings of words in order to impose their own agenda, as George Orwell so perfectly showed us in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Liberalism and fascism both use a language which suggests the full participation of the population in the workings of society, which even appears to involve a kind of symbiosis like the one referred to above.

Liberals label this involvement “democracy” and have, until now at least, gone to great lengths to maintain this illusion, which is the principal justification for the legitimacy of their system.

But it’s just a sham, of course. It always has been. The game is rigged in so many ways and on so many levels.

Fascists don’t like the term “democracy” and prefer to talk about “the nation”, which is supposedly the incorporation of the collective interests of the people.

Sometimes they have even stolen the language of the social organism to give the impression that there is something natural about their system.

“They are systems which impose the control of the ruling class over the people”

But the social organism, for fascists, can never be a living entity of free individuals acting according to their own consciences, as it is for anarchists.

Their imagined organism is more like a robot, under the total control of the fascist state.

The reality behind the liberals’ fake democracy and the fascists’ fake organism is one and the same – a ruling elite which only pretends to be acting in the interests of everyone.

A contempt for the “masses”, for the “mob”, for the “great unwashed”, the “Untermensch” is shared by both systems because they are elitist and authoritarian.

They are systems which impose the control of the ruling class over the people.

From the perspective of the ruling class, the idea that we could run our own lives and our own societies without their structures of control is a dangerous one.

That is why they talk fearfully about “descending into anarchy”. Their worst nightmare is that their slaves might break free.

This is why they often depict human nature as selfish, greedy and violent – thus needing the firm hand of the liberal/fascist state to keep it under control.

This is why they sometimes prefer to say that there is no such thing as human nature at all, thus rejecting the empowering anarchist idea that we are all born with the natural capacity or tendency to live co-operatively and more or less harmoniously.

It is a primary assumption of liberalism/fascism that we cannot be trusted to make our own decisions, that we are basically irresponsible and in need of control and “protection” from our wise and benevolent leaders.

To keep us safe. From each other.

So why is this living freedom sourced from the individual-collective symbiosis, not recognised by all anarchists today?

Why do they regurgitate the liberal/fascist lie that individual freedom and the collective good are incompatible?

The problem, for me, is that too many anarchists are today entirely trapped within what I called “the inherent thought-restriction of the dominant system”.

This stifling contemporary newthink completely negates the timeless human wisdom from which anarchist philosophy emerged.

It sees human beings as programmable and malleable machines. Artificiality triumphs over authenticity. Any talk of social organism is seen as reactionary or borderline fascist (a typical inversion, as noted above – see also this article).

The notion of essence is dismissed out of hand, the idea of innateness can provoke panic attacks, meaning is regarded as meaningless, nature as reactionary, ethics as a construction, quality as an illusion.

There is no truth or reality. Two plus two can equal five if it suits the liedeology.

“Any way of thinking outside this ever-narrowing framework becomes impossible in a post-natural, post-human, post-authentic intellectual climate that effectively constitutes a complete paralysis of the collective human mind”, as I wrote.

Contemporary newthink is binary, one-dimensional. It does not understand multi-dimensional thinking and cannot embrace creative paradox.

It can only ever see individual freedom and collective responsibility as opposites.

It is incapable of even hearing, let alone understanding, oldthink arguments that soar above its empty and flattened-out dogmas.

In short, people are attaching the anarchist label, and a sort of shallow parody of anarchist ideology, to something which is not anarchism at all.

This pseudo-anarchist thinking has not grown from anarchist philosophy and therefore can never be anything but a replica anarchism, a zombie anarchism which appears to be the real thing but lacks the anarchist soul.

This fake anarchism is the sworn enemy of true anarchism. By stealing the body of anarchism, it banishes real anarchism from the world.

Whenever real anarchism does emerge, this zombie anarchism points an accusatory finger at it and declares it to be dangerous.

This is anti-anarchism, upside-down anarchism, inverted anarchism.

I have been going on about all this for years. Sometimes I have wondered if it is as important as all that, whether I could not just accept some philosophical differences with comrades in the interests of working and campaigning together.

But now that anarchists are getting angry with me for believing in freedom, I can see very clearly what was worrying me all along.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Threads of inspiration — organic radicals

Reclaiming the revolutionary wisdom of the past is the title of a new contribution to the articles page of the orgrad website. The first part of this piece is a general discussion of the relationship between radical politics and tradition. This is largely informed by an interesting critique of Guy Debord and the Situationist movement […]

via Threads of inspiration — organic radicals

Resist the Fourth Industrial Repression!

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The First Industrial Repression saw us thrown off the land, forced into crowded towns and cities, used as human fodder for the dark satanic mills of the new steam-powered capitalist world.

The Second Industrial Repression electrified the rule of The Machine. New generations were born who had never tasted freedom. Their lives and their thinking were increasingly dominated by the rhythms of industrial mass production.

The Third Industrial Repression heralded the arrival of computers and robots. Human beings were now expected to meekly conform to these automated norms and functions.

And now we face the onset of the Fourth Industrial Repression (4IR), the most deathly repression of them all…

4IR Fourth industrial revolution on blockchain polygon world map

The 4IR wants to own, control and profit from everything that exists in this world.

Its Internet of Things aims to create a matrix of total connectivity, of which it is the owner.

You, your home, your family, your friends, your relationships and your activities will all belong to the 4IR.

Its technocrats regard you as nothing more than another piece of disposable fleshware, one unit among millions, just another figure on its global balance sheet of exploitation.

The 4IR will track you and always know where you are, whom you are with, what you are doing.

It demands your total obedience. You can have no values, ideals or dreams of your own, only the ones authorised by the system.

Disobedient units are unproductive units.

4IR

The 4IR will know how to spot you, if you even so much as consider stepping out of line. Its predictive policing will quickly identify you as an anti-social element, a pre-criminal, a thought criminal.

It will send out its robots and its drones to neutralise you and protect the safe functioning of the matrix.

Digital identity systems. Militarised 5G. Neuro-technological brain enhancements. Genetic editing.

Cybersecurity Macht Frei!

The 4IR will not tolerate any irresponsible words or behaviour that present a threat to health and safety, to law and order, to resilience and prosperity.

Submission. Sycophancy. Slavery. We’re all in it together, citizen!

Greta1The 4IR wants to scare us into its devouring jaws by pointing to impending disaster and claiming that nobody can save us but itself.

It shows us the misery and disease inflicted by the First, Second and Third Industrial Repressions and insists that the “solution” is a fourth dose of the same deadly industrial poison.

The intelligence of the 4IR is entirely artificial and its dead robot brain cannot smell what we smell, feel what we feel, love what we love.

It coldly ignores the timeless and vital value of people, animals, trees, plants and the whole organic reality of which these form part.

Instead it sees just raw material for its own profit.

It thirsts above all for data, endless floods of data to be collected, processed, sold and transformed into the wealth which buys its total control.

The Fourth Industrial Repression wants to replace everything true and authentic with its replicas, with a reality not so much virtual as entirely fake.

4IReAnd yet its forked robotic tongue tells us that this phoney reality is in fact an “enhanced” or “augmented” one.

The 4IR wants to abolish the lives we have known. It wants to microchip us, lock us up in little cages, and force-feed us chemical food substitutes, laced with feel-good soma.

It cannot tolerate the idea that we might enjoy anything for free, such as sunshine, fresh air and the wild outdoors.

It craves a total monopoly of our experience. Cut off from the real world, from authenticity and liberty, we will have no choice but to buy and consume the poisonous ersatz reality it has carefully manufactured.

The 4IR, like all the other repressions before it, is built on our separation from one another, the destruction of our communities and the undermining of our solidarities.

social_distancing

“Social distancing” is the prerequisite for its seizure of complete power.

The 4IR wants us all to be on our own, online and in line.

The 4IR empties everything of meaning, particularly words. It says “sustainable” when it means ecocidal. It says “development” when it means destruction. It says “basic universal income” when it means slavery.

When the 4IR talks about “social impact investing” it really means it wants to turn human beings into lucrative investment opportunities.

Human capital. Human cattle.

new deal for nature and people logoWhen the 4IR talks about “a new deal for nature” it really means it wants to privatise the whole living world so as to make the billionaire class even richer than it already is.

When the 4IR demands “biosecurity”, it means the security of its own systems of control against the threat from biological reality. From nature, from life, from us!

The 4IR thinks it is so smart. Its glossy propaganda promises us smart mobility in a smart economy, smart living and smart governance for the smart people of tomorrow.

The smart money is on the 4IR project. The smart money of the smart-arse smart set. Smart is the new smug.

The 4IR employs huge armies of professional liars and gullible fools to spread its  propaganda and scream abuse at all who dare challenge its fearmongering falsehoods.

The 4IR is a death cult which dreams of wiping out everything that is natural, everything that is wild, everything that is free.

Resist the Fourth Industrial Repression!

Fight the 4IR!

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Lots of reading…

We have now made the following books available as free pdfs:

The Anarchist Revelation (2013)

Antibodies and Anarchangels (2013)

The Stifled Soul of Humankind (2014)

Forms of Freedom (2015)

The Fakir of Florence (2016)

Nature, Essence and Anarchy (2016)

The Green One (2017)

No Such Place As Asha (2019)

For more information on all these titles, see our Books page.

We also recommend the organic radicals website, which includes a veritable library of articles (including video and audio links) on more than 90 important thinkers.

On liberalism and fascism

We have added a new in-depth article to this site: Liberalism: the two-faced tyranny of wealth. This is very much a companion piece to the 2018 article Bringing down the fascist machine. Here’s the list of contents for the new analysis: 1. The rule of money 2. Liberalism as deception 3. Liberalism and fascism 4. […]

via On liberalism and fascism — organic radicals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to take back our streets: lessons from 10 months of resistance in France

GJ streets2

This is a translation of the article ‘Comment reprendre nos rues‘ from the Cerveaux Non Disponibles website. They can be followed on Twitter via @CerveauxNon

Over ten months, the Gilets Jaunes movement has managed again and again to surprise: to surprise the authorities, the police, the media, public opinion. And even the GJs themselves! Apart from determination and a burning desire for change, what has really changed the landscape of social struggle in France is the new reality of totally decentralised and autonomous actions. Blockades, occupations, demonstrations, disorder. So many possibilities that can no longer be found in the standardised world of trade unions, opposition parties, NGOs and other well-established structures.

As protests step up again after the summer of 2019, the field of possibilities seems even more vast. Much more vast than the authorities and the media are saying. But if we are to make waves again, perhaps even bigger ones, we need to think about strategies of struggle, whether that be for the demos which lie ahead or for other kinds of actions. Here are some suggestions and observations which could usefully be developed and fleshed out. Please note that these suggestions are from a clearly insurrectional, even revolutionary, perspective. Since so many GJs (and other citizens) have been calling and hoping for this for several months now, let’s dare to think about it calmly. A sort of manual for “acting like a primitive and planning like a strategist”, as recommended by the poet and resistance fighter René Char.

GJ streets5

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS

This has always been the case but is becoming more and more blatantly obvious in France: it is important, even crucial, to take to the streets in pretty large numbers if we are to succeed in staging actions which actually bother the authorities. This does not mean that any huge demo is, per se, a success. The climate marches have shown us over recent months that you can have tens of thousands (or more) in the streets and still not bother the government and the economic powers. On the other hand, if you want to overwhelm an increasingly aggressive police presence, which directly engages you and is increasingly mobile (with motorbikes), you need thousands of people.

The moments that have really scared the authorities over these last months have always been when the balance of power in the streets has tipped towards the GJs because of their numbers. Even with the massive human and material resources at their disposal, the police were unable to control the anger of thousands of protesters, in different parts of town, for the duration of several hours.

The most striking example of this was surely during Acte 23 of the revolt (Ultimatum 2). Following the authorities’ impotence during the first Ultimatum of March 16, they mobilised a huge police presence to prevent any disorder. The Ultimatum page posted, at the last minute, several meet-up points. The GJs who went to these points were, unfortunately for them, met by dozens of riot cops. Nothing could be done. Except that on that same day, there were so many GJs in Paris that a big “authorised” demo got underway at Bercy. There, again, the police had seen this coming and decided to split the demo up into lots of small sections which they could control more easily. But this didn’t work because the march was so huge and determined, to the extent of breaking through several police lines to regroup.

Finally, taking to the streets in large numbers is also a way to protect those who have decided to take action (and not necessarily violently, but in civil disobedience). By their presence, with their bodies, thousands of protesters, even without taking direct action themselves, can help to make a protest really effective and a problem for the authorities. This is how the “front of the demo” emerged a few years back in France. We could also take the example of the revolt in Hong Kong, where this strategy has been taken to an incredible level and where the presence of “basic” protesters is essential for the front-line protesters.

One of the major challenges for the weeks ahead is therefore to achieve turn-outs of the same massive size (or greater) than in November and December. And this is completely possible. Virtually nobody who took part in at least one act of the GJ protests has today been won over by the government. If some of them have disappeared from the streets, it’s due to weariness and/or fear (of police brutality and arrests) rather than because of any change in their opinion on the social and economic situation. Indeed, the numbers of potential resistance fighters are surely even greater than last year. GJs only have to look around themselves: who today is satisfied with Macron and his world? Who isn’t aware of the climate and social crisis? Each of us has to persuade our friends and loved ones to get out into the streets for the upcoming protests.

GJ streets4

PLEASURE AND IMAGINATION

What is most striking about GJ demos today is their repetitive, unchanging quality. But what actually made the movement a success was its capacity to create, to be innovative with its occupations of streets and towns. New songs, new ways of mobilising, new economic blockades (eg: the Champs Elysées). It even had its own language distinct from the norms of social struggle: you can make fun of the succession of “acts” and “ultimatums”, but the GJs have created their own calendar, their own battle terrain and their own way of gathering. When they occupied the roundabouts, everyone found that peculiar. Same thing when they took over motorway toll booths. And same thing again when they decided to head into town centres every Saturday. And when the new songs came along, it was like a minor victory. The creation of a new space for self-expression, exchange and action.

Those in power have always tried to blinker the population and make it think that nothing is possible, apart from expressing your anger through elections or institutionalised struggles (trade unions, political parties, NGOs..) But the reality is very different. Life is a huge playing field. And so are towns and cities.

Nothing annoys the authorities more than people who enjoy coming together and resisting. They do all they can to make protests unpleasant, whereas they can provide the chance for meeting people, for feeling alive, for having fun… Everything they will never know in their comfortable little bourgeois lives. It is therefore important to bring joy, madness, fire and life into the streets. To smash their dream of greyness, to enjoy ourselves but also so that other citizens want to join us. So that they understand that what is happening is not just about burning cars or banks. So that the revolution has its heart not in destruction, but in encounters, complicity, exchange and constructivity.

LESS TELEPHONE, MORE SOLIDARITY

It is important to have photos and videos of what is going on in the streets, notably at the most insurrectional moments and especially when police are being violent, to bear witness to these realities which the authorities try to conceal. But today too many people have got into the habit of whipping out their phone for every burning dustbin or, worse, for the smallest police charge. These people are still part of the movement, in solidarity with it, yet they don’t realise that by filming with their phones they are quitting the ranks of protesters who are capable of actually doing something. They are physically present but can no longer take action. They become spectators. How many videos have we seen of someone being maltreated by the police where nobody is helping them, although dozens of protesters are filming what’s happening? This isn’t about passing judgement and awarding good or bad scores. Each person is free to do whatever they want, not least on a demo. And it is totally understandable to want to film a crunch moment. But you need nevertheless to analyse the phenomenon in a general way and see what it implies for the protest as a whole. And from that vantage point we have to acknowledge the problems with this tendency and be aware that it serves the interests of the authorities because it makes the protest less pro-active and less cohesive. Not forgetting that the videos are sometimes used in evidence against protesters accused of misdemeanors.

It is therefore time to put away your phone and actively take part in the next protests. This could take various forms: singing, running, graffiti, banner-making, keeping other protesters informed, suggesting actions. So many things that the brain stops doing when it sees the protest via the screen of a phone.

GJ streets3

DIVERSITY AND RESPECT FOR PRAXIS

It is important to consider the place and degree of combative action on protests which see themselves as insurrectional. This question is highly complex and sensitive because nobody has the right to set out a precise limit to the moral rightness of combative actions. We all refuse to go along with the framing imposed by society which regards all illegal action as immoraL. It goes without saying for many of us that a Fouquet’s restaurant on fire is no worse than a boss who lays someone off to increase his profits. But this doesn’t mean that smashing or burning is necessarily appropriate for the struggle and for advancing the revolutionary cause.

While we should take care not to condemn a protester who has broken the law, we should also not veer off in the opposite direction and applaud, de facto, all acts of damage or violence. At some moments, in some places, vandalising street furniture or shops or attacking the police can turn out to be strategic mistake and play into the hands of the authorities.

Damage or violence are in no way a yardstick for assessing the success or otherwise of a protest. In either way. Offensive actions are merely tools to reach goals which are more significant than the immediate outcome of a torched car or a ransacked bank.

In a society governed by images and appearance, where the authorities rely on illusion to persuade us that they have everything under control and that there is no alternative, these offensive actions make sense when they help shatter that illusion. It works when whole areas of Paris seem to have slipped out of the authorities’ control despite the deployment of thousands of cops and troops. But to achieve this, it is necessary to create the conditions conducive to such a situation.

It must also be borne in mind that offensive action and rebellion can take very subversive forms without necessarily being violent. Thousands of people on the Paris ring road, on the tracks at a station or occupying a government building can also hurt the powerful.

So let’s refuse to label protesters as violent or non-violent. Only those who fear change have a vested interest in this totally artificial separation. This classification (stigmatisation) is merely a tool for domination. Violence is not immoral in itself. Even the history books sing the praises of resistance fighters who fought evil. Fought in its true sense. In the violent sense.

Act 23 of the Yellow Vests in Paris

ADAPTING TO REAL TIME

In the face of the new strategies for “maintaining law and order” with highly mobile and aggressive police units, it is more than ever necessary for protesters to pay attention and adapt rapidly to situations. In Hong Kong when the police line becomes too dangerous in front of them, the protesters don’t just stay put. Very quickly, the demo moves elsewhere. It is very difficult to take decisions collectively in these situations, especially in a totally horizontal movement without leaders, but it works. And often it is better to take the decision and move rather than remain static for fear of making a mistake.

We should also bear in mind that sometimes confrontation with the cops does not make strategic sense. When the balance of power is clearly tilted in their favour, it is sometimes better to think about alternative solutions which allow protesters to continue to occupy the space, to blockade, to be on the offensive. The police are not our objective. They are the tool of the authorities which can stop us from reaching our objectives. Focusing on them can sometimes stop us from creating more beautiful and constructive moments of struggle.

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