The following text, published in French on the morning on Monday the 18th of October, is an effective summary of events in the development of the struggle against pension reform up to that date. Other materials will supercede it rapidly, but it will retain, one trusts, some of its interest – as a document of its moment, collecting the detritus of the first week of movement and displaying it for discussion. One hopes it might support serious conversation elsewhere in the world, too. Not tremendously pretty but readable PDF. An ugly plaintext version follows under the break.
Survey of the first week of indefinite strike, blockades and other small pleasures, preceded by an incomplete analysis of the current situation.
Here’s a first, inexhaustive survey of the strikes, actions, sabotage, occupations, lootings, slogans and other happy circumstances [joyeuesetes] of this first week of indefinite strike all through the French terrain, which are most often the work of workers, lycéens, or of autonomous groups. There are also accounts of a few episodes of police and judicial repression.
The practice of subversion and direct action seems to have established itself amongst some fractions of French society [parties de la societe]. Each cell of revolt [foyer de revolte] has been demonstrating a degree of ingenuity in blocking the economy and fucking around with the mighty. [emmerdes les puissants] often with an enthusiasm overflowing with anger and cheerful melees; but often moderated and dammed up by unionist bureaucrats or self-appointed police [informelles].
A dumb list struggles to account for the globality [globalité] of the situation, but it can contribute to such an account. Most of the notices were issued via the site Le Jura Libertaire, but not all of them; and there’s no doubt that many actions have gone unreported, and even those reported are by their very nature incomplete. It often repeats facts already processed by the media one time or more, often by the capitalist media – and so in chunks emptied of their content and their signification. Such a list reifies every particular event – but hopes to give a new signification to them all together.
It’s much too soon to start a critical analysis of the movement, so only brute facts are described. Still, we’re not yet past the moment in which it’s possible to act, so it’ll be interesting to identify the present strong points of the movement, its weaknesses, and above all the particular forces which are undertaking the grandest subversions, and therefore the grandest perspectives of change. A first question shall therefore be: on which elements [composantes] of the movement must we, as revolutionaries, act – encourage or stymie[enrayer] – to realise a maximum nullification [nuire au maximum] of the existent order?
But it’s certainly easier to respond to the following: which elements are the most conservative? Which are the ones who bear in themselves most the organisational schemas of the present, and which impede or check the process of a radical change?
The lycéens and other youths are certainly the snappiest of all [or ‘most commanding’, qui font le plus fi], and the one who command respect in the present order: not a few amongst them are fighting the cops, pillaging shops, sacking their school-prisons, attack the screws and the administation, ignoring the bureaucrats which try to make them stick to their miserable whining… The State and capital may surrender at any moment, and it would suffice to furnish them in due course a few supplementary compensations to mask the misery of their existence, in order to stop up the holes through which the void gets too conspicuous; all the while violently reprimanding the most recalcitrant. Judicial by repression has already started its infernal ballet of condemnations.
The workers are those of whom the present order has the most need: they produce each day the quasi-totality of this world. They produce it for the profit of a class which dominates and organises society. They’re forced to produce it against themselves, at the price of their own exclusion. They’re constrained by a formidable power of illusion which masks the reality of their condition: the ideology of the commodity, the ideology of labour, the Spectacle, whatever one calls it. In the movements of contestation, some of these illusions are reproduced by those who participate in order to maintain their submission within the revolt itself. The strategy of a revolutionary deployment [démarche revolutionnaire] is therefore to identify, to encourage, and reinforce those tendencies and initiatives which, within the movement, are furthest along in detaching themselves from these illusions, if not already struggling against them. It must struggle against these illusions by deconstructing them along theoretical lines, and at the same time must orient itself – on practical lines – towards the domination which individuals and organisation exercise in the name of these daily-repeated lies. Looking for such types it’s easy to identify and to point out the unionist bureaucracy as a major brake on, if not the principal obstacle to, mass subversion; but of the same type are the more or less bureaucratic – and totally ineffective – organisations, whose business plan consists in reheating in a microwave old, pseudo-revolutionary ideologies, Trotskyism, anarchism and others. These ones dressing us up for a forced march culminating in a fixed battle, the others dumping us into inaction and burying us in inconsequential slogans.
One of the battlefields where domination and its real contestation are engaged is the definition of the antagonisms. For us it’s a question of refounding the pseudo-distinction between pacifists and casseur into an opposition between partisans of the present organisation of life and partisans of a global transformation. For many this transformation has already begun in reality. These last few days we’ve been able to hear in the capitalist media the waged commentators declaring, knowingly or otherwise, that the decision to strike isn’t something undertaken with good cheer, but that it’s sometimes necessary. They’re trading on the image of the martyed worker working for the good cause. Who’d believe such an absurdity? Which striking worker could seriously agree, who’s overturning the daily gloom in the disruption of routine, who experiments in the self-organisation and concrete solidarity that arises amongst perfect strangers, the subversion and chatter around the picket lines? Who, indeed, could believe that the addition of two years to the year that pensions start is a motive worth such a revolt, amongst people who’ve already implicitly accepted the sacrifice of 40 years of their life to work? Would you revolt when they told you you had to wait patiently for 2 more minutes at the doctor’s, after having come to terms with waiting for 40? But isn’t this [serait-ce] already the 40 years of salaried slavery that these thousands of guys refuse and throw up? The slightest aggravation of their mode of exploitation is the visible, “reasonable” pretext that they’ve been taught to exhibit to justify the least revolt, as if they had to account for themselves to those who provoke them.
The task consists from now on in bringing to light the implicit reasons of the realm of desire, which are the real motors driving the movement of contestation. The first factory occupied by the workers will be the model of all the others. Equally, the comportment of the lycéens in the last few days must become an example – amongst a few others – for the workers to follow. In acting thus they say nothing other than: nothing that exists is respectable. The dominant class only gets this kind of identification. Let’s give them reasons to flip out.
The qualitative leaps of contestation on October the 12th, 2010
CAEN: 2000/2500 demonstrators in front of the headquarters of MEDEF in the middle of the afternoon. Eggs and stones thrown. Police respond with teargas. Bins and palettes burnt. (CNT)
SAINT-NAZAIRE: Two hours of confrontation in the streets near the sub-prefecture. 500 people confront the police. They find projectiles on a building site. (Journo-cops). Charges and beatings. 15 arrests. (Indymedia). Verdicts from the court appearances the next day: two month, mandatory, immediate sentences for two rioters.
MONTELIMAR: Sacking of the office of the UMP Deputy Mayor as well as other municipal offices by a hundred people issuing from the demo. (Journo-cops.)
ROUEN: A few heated exchanges between cops and Renault workers – amongst others – trying to gain access to MEDEF (Indymedia report.)
RENNES: Stoppages in the lycées and forced closure of the big stores at a shopping centre (Virgin, Eurodif, Credit Agricole) by the striking lycéens, unemployed and workers. (Indymedia).
NANCY: A student taps a cop lightly – 4 arrests. (Journo-cops)
CHARENTE, IN CHASSENEUIL, BARBEIEUX AND COGNAC: blockades on the motorways. Thousands of the flat-footed are blocked. The industrial zone at Nersax shall be quite without its supplies for the day. (Journo-cops.)
PARIS: Manif sauvage after the arrival of the big demo at Bastille. Games of cat and mouse, projectile exchanges. One arrest. (Indymedia)
PARIS: Scrap at Bastille. Charge and counter-charge to liberate two guys in the course of being snatched by the cops. Bin-fires.
SARLAT (DORDOGNE): After the demo of 1800 people, a hundred deposited themselves in the town hall.
The qualitative leaps of contestation on October the 13h, 2010
LE MANS: Blockade of the ringroad at Le Mans all morning. Demonstration of a strong will to reunite public and private on the same front.
LYCÉES IN THE OISE VALLEY:
*ARGENTUIL: A head-teacher is hit by stones on their way towards the cops. A vain attempt to penetrate a shopping centre. A clothes-store looted. The mayor, flipping out, calls on the lycéens to make contact with the unions and political parties.
*SARCELLES: A head-teacher is gassed by a few students.
AUCH: Flashpoints in front of the prefecture. The cops fired gas and charged the rear of the interprofessional-lycéen demo (8000 people).
SAINT-QUENTIN: Since Thursday October the 7th many lycéen demonstrations have turned into confrontations. Many cops, amongst whom the Commissioner, wounded. Cars overturned and burned, bins too, and a few journalists assaulted. 23 arrests. (Journo-cops.) The cops thanked the CGT for their stewarding during the demo of the 12th.
MEAUX: Confrontations between adolescents and cops, stones thrown. Arrests for insulting the police [outrage]’ and the throwing of projectiles “on the edge” of the lycéens demo. Manif sauvage without banners. Cat and mouse with the cops. A municipal police-car attacked. Wooden slats used as weapons.
FRANCE: Around 200 lycées are blocked or severely disrupted. (lycéen bureaucrats)
*Blockade of Holtzheim sorting office from 5 am by workers on a rolling strike.
*Roadblocks by militants of SUD in the morning.
*An action opening the toll-gates at Shwindvatzheim by workers and students for 50 minutes (police ultimatum.)
*Strong solidarity between students and workers. Interprofessional General Assembly.
ROUEN: Blockades of bridges and of an industrial estate by workers and students.
LE HAVRE: Strikers interrupt and perturb a UMP meeting.
Evolution of the contestation on October the 14h, 2010
DONGES (44): The General Assembly of the refinery workers vote for a rolling strike until next Monday (the 18th) at 1pm. Total suspension of production. Interaction between different sectors [Passerelle entre les corpos] (a professor intervened in their GA). (capitalist TV)
8 REFINERIES are blocked out of 12 in the entire country. (capitalist TV)
BASSENS (next to BORDEAUX) : blockade of the petrol depot at Ambes.
MARSEILLES: The port’s still blocked (since the 27th of September) and petrol shortages start in the region’s stations.
MARSEILLE: Bin workers are on strike in many parts of the city. Rubbish is building up in the streets.
FRANCE: 400 lycées are disrupted. (Cop estimate) Confrontations with police took place at Toulouse, Saint-Denis and Sarcelles. (capitalist TV) The cops badly injured a lycéen, who was hospitalised.
Le HAVRE: Publication of a journal which is the expression of the striker’s General Assembly (strong influence of unionist bureaucrats all the same). Many businesses extend the strike: Total, CIM, SNCF, Chevron, EDF, Foure Lagadec, La Poste, France Telecom-Orange, Debri, Education nationale, Petrochemical, Sidel.
MONTREUIL: A kid’s gravely injured in the eye during confrontations in the course of the eviction of an occupied lycée. At the lycée J. Jaures the cops entered the establishment and fired flashballs in the area (emailed statement from the Jura Libertaire)
LILLE: Blockade for an hour of Lille-Flanders station by the train drivers (until the cops arrived.) (Journo-cops).
NORD-PAS-DE-CALAIS: The workers stop work at 30 industrial enterprises near Valenciennes (Alstom-Bombardier): metallurgy, chemistry, food procession and textiles. Some call for a rolling strike. Many short work-stoppages of one to three hours per day. The workers at Gravelines nuclear centre call for one hour of stoppage per day. Some express their will to unite their force with that of the teachers of the region.
France, confrontations between cops and lycéens (and non-lycéens!)
*NIMES: Violent confrontations and cars burnt. 5 cops injured.
*MONTPELLIER: Confrontations and burning barricades.
*LYON: Many manifs sauvages and confrontations.
*BOURG-EN-BRESSE: Manif sauvage and small, dispersed groups, who harass over-ridden cops.
*LENS: 4 arrests after confrontations.
*BELFORT: An arrest after confrontations.
*BESANCON: Flare-ups with the cops.
*LILLE: Cars burned and tipped over during the strike.
BEZIERS: Sabotage of the gas and electricity supplies of a senator.
MONTPELLIER: Voluntary cutting-off of gas and electricity to the MEDEF building, and public evocation of the possible re-establishment of electricity and gas for those who’ve fallen behind on their payments [???]
CHAMBERY: Confrontations between cops and lycéens in front of the lycées. Many arrests.
FOURMIES: A cop injured in a lycéens demo. 3 detentions without charge [garde a vue]/ Aggressions against ‘personnel’ by the lycéens..
CHAMPTOCE-SUR-LOIRE (MAINE-ET-LOIRE): Rolling strike at PCM (metallurgy, petrol pumps and food). 90% on strike out of 200 workers. (Journo-cops.)
CHARTRES (EURE-ET-LOIRE) 5 detentions without charge [gardes a vue] of lycéens for paving cops and for having thrown a bottle of acid. (Journo-cops.)
*Blockade of the tax office (by whom?)
*Blockade of a shopping centre and of a “strategic” roundabout. (2 or 3000 lycéens, students and precarious ones.)
*Blockade of the bypass by the same bunch.
*Extension of the strike at SNCF. (Indymedia.)
ROUEN: The post-workers block the sorting office with the help of train drivers and students. Then an interprofessional cortège which tried to occupy the broadcasting tent of Europe 1 to broadcast messages, without success. Eggs thrown at the robocops. The CGT soundsystem-truck drags the demo away from its collectively decided route. Then a blockade of a petrol depot in the afternoon.
*Meeting in front of the town hall of Voynet linked to the squat evictions.
*Manif sauvage at Porte de Montreuil. Stones and fireworks [Caillassage et fusees] against the cops, who flip out.
*Manif sauvage of lycéens. Little bust-up with the UNEF who finish by leaving, having managed all the same to prevent the occupation of Montparnasse station.
SAINT-NAZAIRE: Flying pickets [tournée de debrayages] of the lycées in the morning followed by the blockading of a commercial zone by an interprofessional assembly. (Indymedia.)
ROUND ABOUT PARIS: 45 arrests in the Oise Valley after assemblies and lycée blockades. Confrontations with the police, tear gas, bottles, and looting of materials in the area of the Mureux lycée too. Similar events at AUBERGENVILLE, ENGHIEN, TAVERNY, ARGENTUIL, SARCELLES. (Journo-cop)
Contestation on Friday 15th October, 2010.
STRASBOURG : Renewal of strike of the urban community workers and some railway workers who fear the remain the only truly solid force in the movement. Calls for lycéens and students to enter the movement en mass. Reichstat refinery on rolling strike and under blockade.
BEASANCON : Some teachers begin spontaneous strike after a police charge on their students blocking the street. No arrests. (Journa – Cops)
LILLE : 2nd occupation of the Lille Flandre train station by SNCF and EDF workers.
FOS – SUR – MER : The cops free up an important site of petrol stock (as happens at Bassen and Cournon d’Auvergne) but four more are blocked at the same time.
LE MANS : Blockage of a Z.I. (why and how not known.)
TOURS : All lycées blocked, as is the petrol depot.
NANCY – VANDOUEVRE : Unemployed and causal workers ‘sow disorder’ in the employment and training centre. [Village de l’Emploi et de la Formation – job centre?]
ENGHEIN : New confrontations between young people and the cops. 38 GAV
4:00 : Blockage of petrol depot by personnel and others.
8:00 : Road block by students – Trees and tyres burnt.
11:00 : Blocage of Mathilde bridge by 2,000 people after a demo and confrontation with cops. Projectiles used. At least 1 arrest. (Indymedia.)
DIJON- A twelve month sentence imposed for throwing a bottle during lycée demo.
SCZIONZIRT (HAUTE – SAVAGE): Sabotage of video surveillance in the Crozet quarter for several nights. Stones liven-up the police station.
BORDEAUX – 6 GAV at a lycée demo for ‘degradation, violence and breach of the peace [outrage]. (Indymedia.)
TOULOUSE – Throwing of Molotov cocktails Friday and Saturday night in Empalot quarter. The minor who has escaped (fait la belle ) a tribunal during his transfer was found again by the police in the quarter where he was hiding. He is accused of violence against a cop and of having resisted arrest at a demo on the 12th.
Contestation on Saturday 16th October, 2010.
CHARELVILLE– For the first time since the start of the movement, intersyndicate call for
a rolling general strike to start on Monday 18th.
Contestation on Monday October the 18th, 2010
EVRY: Vandalism in a shopping centre (no further details).
Le MANS: Blockade of a petrol depot since Sunday evening by truckers.
AVIGNON-NORD: Truckers installed a permeable roadblock [roadblock filtrage] at a motorway toll-booth to rally other PL [?] to their cause.
SOUTH OF THE PARISIAN SUBURBS: Go-slow [operation escargot] on the A6.
STRASBOURG: Occupation of the offices of the university President and of the administration of the uni. Call for the occupation of the unis in France, and of their administrative infrastructure. Expression of their will to abolish “presidential power within the universities,” to occupy all the workplaces, to stop the flux, to struggle against the State and capital.
TOURCOING: Violent confrontations between cops and lycéens. Cars burnt.
FRANCE: 2500 service stations are running dry, or close to (out of 12,500 in the country.)
FRANCE: 260 lycée blocked according to the State, 850 according to the lycéen bureaucrats.
NANTERRE: Ranged battle between youths and cops.
BORDEAUX-CARBON-BLANC: Blockade of a distribution-point for fresh products to the Auchan supermarkets of the south-west since yesterday evening at 8pm.
BREST: Blockade of a petrol depot since 4am by workers and students; de-blocked during the day by the cops.
FRONTIGNAN (HERAULT, PRES DE SETE) : Blockade of a petrol depot by workers and students.
REFINERIES: Extension of the strike in all the refineries.
SAINT-PRIENT (RHONE): Blockade of a petrol depot by truckers, and go slow.
LILLE: Go-slow [VL & PL???].
ANGERS: Permeable roadblock on a motorway.
TOULOUSE: 4am: blockade of a bus depot by train- and tram-drivers. De-blocked at the end of the morning (how?)
TOURS: blockade of a petrol depot at Saint-Pierre-des-Corps by truckers. Attempt at interprofessional reinforcements.
PORT-LA-NOUVELLE (AUDE): Blockade of a petrol terminal by truckers and train drivers.
CAEN AND OUISTREHAM: Blockade of two petrol depots.
LORIENT (MORBIHAN): Blockade of the access to a petrol depot – which is itself under control of the cops – by truckers and dockers.
BIARRITZ: Motorway toll-gates opened [operation péage gratuit] by truckers.
MULHOUSE: Blockade of the PSA factory by several dozens of workers (out of 10,000 employed there.)
NANTES: Youths burn and smash up several cars during a manif sauvage from lycée to lycée.
NANTES: Binmen start a 48-hour strike. Permeable roadblock and palette-fire in the centre of town.
LYON: Riots of lycéens and other youths who make use of molotov cocktails. Cars are tipped up, bins burnt. The cops are overrun by the dispersion of simultaneous actions. 16 arrests. (Journo-cops.)
ROUEN: A cop car is paved during a lycéen demonstration. Bus stops smashed and cars overturned.
PARIS: Deployment of industrial stocks of fuel to relieve the shortages: enough for 30 days of consumption, plus 90 days of “strategic stocks.” (presse terroriste).
GARD ET HERAULT: Occupation of train stations by strikers. Paralysis of the trains between Nimes, Montpellier and Beziers from 7 am.
ENVISIONING OF THE INTERVENTION OF THE ARMY TO MAKE REQUISITIONS IN THE REFINERIES by a journocop from AFP to Frederic Lefebvre who left his approbation hanging, not explaining further.
RENNES: Vote in a general assembly to blockade the faculty of Rennes 2 by a small majority. Announcement of an administrative closure for the rest of the week.
SAINT-DENIS: Blockade of Paul Eluard lycée, burnt cars, disorder. Cops deployed a helicopter.
UNIVERSITIES BLOCKED: Pau, Caen…
UNIVERSITIES UNDER ADMINISTRATIVE CLOSURE: …
LYON: Suspended sentences of two or three months for benign acts (standing on a car and resisting arrest.)
FRANCE: 290 people arrested in the course of the day.
FRANCE: Total stoppage of the 12 refineries in the evening.
MONTBELIARD: lycéen demonstrations and confrontations. 350 masked people. 4 detentions without charge [garde a vue] for disorder, insulting the policew [outrage], and violence against the police.
FRANCE: No publication of the daily national papers today, Tuesday the 19th.
FLAMANVILLE: Voluntary reduction in production a the nuclear centre after the general assembly vote on monday morning. (200 people out of 650 workers.) A 48-hour strike was decided for as well.
-Tuesday the 19th October, 2010. 4am and 14 minutes