Paris: The Parisian May Day demonstration marks a change of an era. In any case, that is what Serge Quadruppani says in this article. A trade union demonstration that has become an absolute minority, just symbolic; a Black block that has been announced, awaited and feared but which does not finally come; yellow vests everywhere but which do not fall into the identity trap, an overwhelmingly majority joins the front of the demonstration, to the extent of becoming the demonstration at all. This May Day demonstration proved to be globally and literally autonomous.
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The water cannon voluntarily aimed at the front of the trade union Paris demonstration and more precisely, according to reliable sources, the Secretary General of the CGT, sent out a signal whose implications must be fully understood.
It is known that a few days before the demonstration, a meeting was held during which the prefecture strongly encouraged the trade union organisations to participate in the setting up of a trap that would have allowed the police to separate the good trade unionist sheeps from the yellow shirt breaking goats. The aim was to smother the front of the demonstration and let it suffer on a much larger scale what was inflicted for hours on thousands of people on the Place de la République in Paris during Act 24: suffocation in gases, firing of LBDs and grenades, targeted beatings and arrests then raids and deluges of outrageous sentences. This unprecedented manoeuvre, which was to take place between Boulevard Raspail and Rue de la Glacière, was intended to be, in a very clear and deliberate manner, an operation of political terror against the yellow vest movement, which was supposed to have the effect of hastening its decline. If the trade unions refused to join the government game, it was not out of affection for yellow and black, but because they knew that they would be unable to proceed as they were being asked for the simple reason that a large part of their base is now an integral part of the movement, and that, given the numerical weakness, now, of the n/a, it was impossible to prohibit comings and goings between the various demonstrations.
The reality exceeded the organizations’ forecasts: apart from the balloons, the demonstration had little union left and yellow dominated everywhere. Under these conditions, the nine waves of grenades on the front bloc in addition to the water cannon, the charges against the CGT securities, and his dozen injured, three by LBD, all this can only be taken as a warning: “if you are not able to help us, you are nothing”. The government’s message to trade union bureaucracies that depend on its subsidies is clear: if you cannot be a local police force for social movements, we will henceforth protect your right to demonstrate by preventing you from protesting.
This is in addition to the four months in which the police have been more and more in control. One cop who walks back to trample on a demonstrator’s glasses, another who knowingly smashes a journalist’s mobile phone, insults, slaps, humiliations, collective punishments, inhuman and degrading treatment increasingly frequent: all individual or group behaviour that escapes the direct control of the hierarchy is as important to note as the terror techniques piloted directly from the command room by the top of the State, including Elysianos. You must have seen the Bac disembark from their flashing light cars by rolling the mechanics in their customised outfits based on the video game model to measure the degree of arrogance and brutality displayed by the security forces.
Under Sarkozy, because of its closeness to power networks within the police, there was a certain fusion between political and police powers, but under Hollande, because of the persistence of Sarkozian networks on the one hand, and an increase in the police workload due to social movements on the other hand, the dissociation that had always existed in a latent manner became explicit during the sequence of cop demonstrations and this distance has continued to increase, as shown by the Benalla episode and the hasty wage increases granted to cops at the height of the yellow vest movement. On the one hand, therefore a police power with an expanding autonomy. On the other hand, a government which, faced with the persistence of the movement, has only one policy left: to frighten, while maintaining a fake democratic discourse. If we add to this the impressive inventiveness of a justice system that has never been so clearly classy, to monitor and punish with sentences that stunned ever more for minor charges, everything is in place to make the Macronian project resemble like a Pinochet without the dead.
Pinochet? As you go there. Don’t you see the society around you? These queues at the cinema and supermarket checkouts, these glances glued to the screens, these cultural events, and all these people who hardly talk about yellow vests except when there is a traffic jam or gas in the street… But in Chile, after the coup d’état, life went on, and so did cultural consumption. A large part of the middle class chose to blind themselves to the extent of the repression, not only out of fear, but because they shared the neo-liberal project of the golfers and were grateful to them for bringing about social peace. Whether they were big bourgeois or small employees, Pinochism had many supporters and countless accomplices. We will easily identify his contemporary counterparts, both among the Macronian editors and other stars who have been skimming against yellow vests for the past four months, and among the people on the Parisian terraces who watch the demonstrations pass by with an exaggerated look without seeming to hear the sound of grenades a stone’s throw away, but also in an entire part of the country that, without necessarily carrying Macron in its heart, only dreams of returning to normality. No, we are not in a dictatorship. But we will have to better understand and name the regime we have entered, where the government governs by a denial of reality that has never been seen before and a brutality whose only limit for the moment is death. Could it be because an increasingly empowered police force and an edictocracy in reversible jackets would be its main pillars and that by dint of disappointing its electoral base (20%) of executives by the whimsical nature of the child king, it smells like dust and loneliness? Is that what explains the feverishness we perceive in Macronia?
The summons in the form of spraying water to trade union bureaucrats who are unable to fulfil the task assigned to them by the government shows that the elimination of intermediate bodies, which served both as shock absorbers and transmission belts, is nearing completion. There is no need to dwell on the laughable political parties, which are also powerless to defend anything other than their unlikely survival, since the Nationwide Rally is the only one to fulfil its function, which shows that it can and will get even worse. This is the novelty of the time: the entire political space will soon be filled only by the confrontation between the people of the oppositional factions and the rulers, their police and their judges. Such a polarization requires the current movement first and foremost to be aware of its strengths.
First of all, it is the fact that we have managed to hold out for so long, under the flood of grenades and calumnies. If the movement of the yellow vests has taught us anything, it is the incredible courage that a shared momentum can give over such a long period of time. Honour to the 40,000 who did not let themselves be intimidated by the Castanian hype before May 1st! Honour to all those who Saturday after Saturday face an ever fiercer repression! The longer the movement lasts, the stronger it will be, through its constant denial of Macronian arrogance and its long-term demonstration, in the face of the supporters’ marsh, that seeking other ways of acting and living is possible today, again and always. The strength of the movement is also the strategic intelligence it has developed, from one Saturday to the next, and which we saw at work last Wednesday, when multiple wild demonstrations left the imposed perimeter and shattered the yoke into a demonstration that we wanted to organize.
(The strength of the yellow vests is finally the social character of the roundabouts that must be revived and developed, and the willingness to refuse the representation that must persevere. But we will have to talk about this again.)
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