Posted: April 3rd, 2017 | Author: THI | Filed under: Leaflets | No Comments »
Counter-arguments for those who no longer want to contribute to the spectacle of the end of the world, but to the end of the world of the spectacle
Translator note: translated from a pamphlet found in Paris and available online. There have been several texts circulating in the past month critiquing cameras in demonstrations, some online and some distributed as leaflets in the street. This one is perhaps the fullest articulation of the anarchist (but not just) argument against filming revolt.
Me: Stop filming or I smash your camera.
“But pictures are just raw information. They only show facts.”
The photographic re-transmission of facts depends on the point of view in which the person taking the picture situates themselves, which makes it subjective even though it claims objectivity. Proof through pictures is a lie, not so much because it speaks falsely but because it claims to be true. To try to be a spectator, neutral and exempt from the power relations at play can only be an illusion, because it is in itself a way of taking sides, though indirectly. In this way, no one taking pictures can be considered outside the action, they are in it, but on the wrong side: the one that fixes what’s in motion, virtualizes what’s living, spectacularizes rage and passion, and generally participates in neutralizing the subversive potential of attack. Among those taking pictures, some are clearly our enemies, because they declare themselves as such (cops, official journalists, video surveillance cameras…). Others claim neutrality and participate in “pro” and “anti” propaganda, like the more or less independent news agencies (Taranis, RT, Linepress, Street Politics, Remy Buisine) (1). And finally, there are others claiming to be friends or activists involved in documenting struggle, and even some people doing illegal stuff themselves and filming it for a few minutes of virtual glory and many hours of very real hardship. To be clear, ALL of these cameras deserved to be smashed, but especially those that pretend or claim to be on my side. I say this not because I want to engage in dialogue, but to make my reasons clear.
“But pictures are history, they serve the struggle.”
Images of struggles have mostly served to wield authority over people’s imagination. From the dawn of photography and before, they have created idols, artificial scenes that resemble what’s real. They elicit emotion, empathy or pity for certain subjects, fear or envy for others. In themselves, they don’t lead to revolt, but at best to indignation. Anti-authoritarian ideas and struggles have often done without images, because they hardly existed or because the means of producing them didn’t fit with what the moment required. Today, in a society where control and surveillance is one of the cornerstones of power, we can all recall images of demonstrations. Especially those that lead to people spending months locked up, whether they be comrades or strangers. From the ninja-hooligans of the movement against the retirement reforms in 2010 to those accused of burning the cop car on Quai de Valmy during the movement against the Labour Law in 2016, from the rioters in London in 2011 to those in Ferguson in 2015.
“But pictures protect us from police violence. They’re against repression.”
Wasn’t Theo’s rape filmed (2)? Weren’t there people taking photo and video in front of Bergson and other high schools (3) ? Sure, these stories spread in part because of the images, but who’s to say they wouldn’t have without them? The “buzz” is clearly not in our control. Is that rage and anger due to our experience of oppression and of seeing ourselves in the person experiencing it because we’ve been through the same, or is it because we watched it from behind a screen? And what’s the use of these images when the harm is already done, unless you believe in the healing offered by a hypothetical conviction thanks to the use of images, though this involves wasting your money and energy and putting yourself in the hands of one of the quintessential tools of the powerful, justice. By filming rather than trying to prevent police violence from happening through action, we’re not just letting it happen in the name of some hypothetical future trial: we’re repressing all those who might want to act directly against the police to give them a taste of their own medicine. Who would want to resist by hitting back during their arrest if photographers or videographers were filming? Who would try to rescue a friend from the hands of the pigs while being photographed from all angles?
If a few people are able to use justice against the police to get off their charges, we all know that most of them will be found guilty. It’s an illusion to think that a mere video can change the balance of power in the justice system, which, being an instrument of the powerful, is structurally not in our favour. And those few, couldn’t they have defended themselves without the video? What role should we give to images, even in the justice system, and at what cost for all the others who, without wanting to, find themselves in those same images? Is it that less prison for one means more for another?
“But the picture is beautiful. People are reasonable, they know the risks and mask up. And I’ve got a technique to avoid causing them trouble.”
And that’s exactly the problem. It’s nothing more than liberalism to satisfy your need for pleasure and/or propaganda while accepting, or worse still, defending and promoting the presence of cameras, a presence that can only harm those who seek to act differently (without masking and without thinking it through in the intensity of a moment of revolt). It’s freedom without practical consequences or or ethical responsibility for your choices. Except in extremely specific cases where a group, for tactical and political reasons, decides to film themselves, image-taking affects everyone involved in actions larger than your own group. There is no correct framing, proper editing or blurring technique, no good moments to film or right way of publishing. There are a thousand and one good reasons, even after having taken all necessary precautions, for someone to not want it known they were there at a certain place and time. These days, where so many people have conditions forbidding demonstrations banning them from certain areas, where some would like to be more discrete in the eyes of power, where young people are slipping out from the yoke of family, community, or gender to express their revolt, where images, along with DNA, are the greatest proofs for determining THE truth, every piece of information counts, in society and in the courtroom alike. That the state will continue through its own means the filthy business of tracking revolt is one thing, it’s quite another to create more images of illegal acts yourself. To think you’ll be able to outwit the police’s techniques for finding third-party images — imagining quickly swallowing your SD card before being arrested, or dreaming of securely erasing all your videos, or playing at being a super-cropper and blurrer of the right moments — is nothing but a dangerous illusion, and one the pigs are counting on.
“But images are everywhere. Our enemies use them, so why pick on us?”
Like every fight I engage in, it might seem doomed from the start. I’ll certainly never manage to convince a majority that I don’t care about or a public opinion that doesn’t exist, or even just fix any individual problem. Through their integration into techno-capitalist society, the use and spreading of images has become one of the pillars of domination. That said, even if people don’t agree, on this subject and others, I still have the ability to act. I can attack cameras, those of the city-prisons as well as those of Doc du Réel (4) or any other intrusive smartphone. I confront the harm done by those who, rather than contributing to the mayhem, are engaged in its narcissistic or authoritarian presentation (filming others without their knowledge to make propaganda), even with the best of intentions. These actions could be taken by anyone, as one contribution among others to widening the space for revolt rather than restricting and repressing it.
Me: So then, are you going to put the camera away or am I going to smash it?
- Taranis is a lefty news site, relatively good production values; RT=Russia Today; Linepress sells video and photo content to media outlets; Street politics, videos of demos and some commentary; Remy Buisine is a livestreamer who became well-known during Nuit Debout
- Theo was violently sexually assaulted by police in early 2017 during an ID check. Some translated texts here: https://borderedbysilence.noblogs.org/post/2017/02/10/ile-de-france-the-ongoing-revolts-against-police-violence/
- During the movement against the labour law in March 2016, students at Bergson were subject to a vicious police attack to break their attempts at shutting down their school as part of a broader wave of strikes. In general, protests by highschoolers seem to receive more than their share of police violence
- Activist media collective that has been the subject of repeated criticism for producing videos that contain obviously incriminating details
Posted: February 22nd, 2017 | Author: THI | Filed under: prisoner support | No Comments »
Source: Cette Semaine
These past months, in different cities, including during unpermitted demos or riots, many of us have been thrilled by the number of offensive actions in the street. From clashes with the guard dogs of the state and property to the broken windows of shops and even the pillaging of their contents; from attacks on journalist-cops to overcoming the pacifiers of the day: all of this has shaken the arrogance of the powerful. In all forms of struggle — which aren’t limited to “social movements” — self-organization and direct action are indispensable if we are to break with the pacification world of commodities and with state terrorism. Because to claim that it’s unimaginable for individuals to directly oppose the existing order is just a veiled way of saying that social revolt is simply impossible.
Repression is not just the moment when the flashball or baton comes to strike recalcitrant bodies, it’s each moment of daily life under the domination of the State and Capital, through their thousands of omnipresent psychological and physical manifestations that coerce the poor into accepting a shitty life. It’s the prisons that lock up ever more people for ever longer sentences, in order to punish, isolate, break, and store them, out of sight of the peaceful consciences of good citizens. It’s also the outside prison, built from measures like electronic bracelets, house arrest, exclusion areas, bail conditions, and so on. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: February 12th, 2017 | Author: THI | Filed under: Reportbacks | 1 Comment »
For some context on the assault on Theo and of the events leading up to this demo
Intro to the reportback
from Cette Semaine
Politicians on the mic calling for calm and pacifiers making part of the crowd sing the national anthem (while the rest jeered), which then took up the slogan, “we are all French”… This was also part of the solidarity demonstration in Bobigny in front of the court. The same “big brothers”, like the trendy rapper Fianso (Sofiane) and his pals, called for people to go home instead of confronting the cops, “so that the little ones sleep at home tonight near their mothers,” and “to not tarnish the image of blacks and arabs”. As well, this shameful slogan, “prison for rapists”, was chanted by the crowd, along with many others (Cops, rapists, murderers; everyone hates the police; Justice for Théo). All this fit nicely with Théo’s statements on February 7 from his hospital bed, aimed at “my city”, in the face of a mob of journa-cops and just before squeezing the filthy hand of François Hollande: “Boys, stop with the war. Let’s stay united. I have faith in the justice system. And justice will be done. So stop with the war.”
Of course, any deployment of pacifiers has its limits, and a section of the demonstration, more mobile and less into rallies, clashed with the cops at the end, pillaged a Franprix grocery store, a Decathalon sports store, a gas station or a Speedy, smashed up several banks and insurance agencies, a McDonalds, and some institutional buildings (notably the offices of the departmental government), trashed the Bobigny train station, torched a vehicle from the RTL media group, and attacked another from the Europe 1 network… This shows how rage often has its own reasons and can nimbly overwhelm any reasonable proposition. As for revolt, if it’s to spread, it will have to step over the bodies of the pacifiers of the moment and break the refrain of the good citizen that infects our brains. May all Justice die away (and its relationships: innocent, guilty, victim, impunity, prison, court…)! Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: February 10th, 2017 | Author: THI | Filed under: Reportbacks | No Comments »
Cops, rapists, murderers
Revolts have been spreading throughout Paris’ northern suburbs in the past week, in reaction to an extremely vicious police assault on Théo, a 22 year-old black man, who is still in the hospital. What follows is a collection of excepts translated from different (movement) texts and (mainstream) news articles currently circulating to give a sense of this wave of rebellion.Although things seem to be quieting down a little, bus service is still cut through the neighbourhoods after another night of rioting and at this moment a hundred or so people are kettled in Paris demonstrating against the police. 25 more youth were arrested this morning for rioting. The first excerpt describes the assault and so involves descriptions of physical and sexual violence, as a heads up. All links are to source texts.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: February 3rd, 2017 | Author: THI | Filed under: Broadsheets | No Comments »
From Paris Sous Tension #8
As the carnage in Syria continues, deaths are now counted by the hundreds of thousands. The large popular uprising that began in 2011 to overthrow the Assad dictatorship has been drowned in blood for five years under the passive, stunned gaze of the entire world. A real slaughter, with whole villages razed to the ground and a war of extermination waged against a population already decimated by hunger and privation. The insurrection was skillfully transformed into a civil war by the various international factions of power who are fighting over the resources, reconstruction contracts, and domination of the populations. Blood is spilling in the Middle East and Africa. The state, commanders, and bosses, whether they be dressed in suits, uniforms, or religious clothes, are dividing the booty at the expense of millions of peoples lives. And Europe as well is beginning to smell blood and gun powder, to once again get used terror and to khaki uniforms in the streets. Racism and nationalism are spreading, with millions of refugees are turned back at the borders, tens of thousands drown in the Mediteranean, die in trucks, or are expelled or locked up. War invades our lives ever further and constrains our present and our future. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: January 16th, 2017 | Author: THI | Filed under: prisoner support | 1 Comment »
Damien is an anarchist arrested on Wednesday, December 7 in Bretagne, charged with attacks against the Chambre of Commerce, a Jaguar dealership, and other targets during a demo that took place on April 14 between Paris’ 10th and 19th districts during the mobilization against the Loi Travail. This letter was published on January 7 and was intended as a contribution to a public discussion about how to engage with the justice system, in a bid to break the isolation that it seeks to impose.
When I heard that on January 9 in Paris there was going to be a debate about justice, I wanted to try to contribute by letter, but because I’m not allowed any visits or phone calls, I don’t have any details about the subject of the debate. The theme of justice is tied to many issues, like repression, authority, and incarceration, as well as obviously questions of defense or attack, resignation or dignity, inaction or vengeance.
This is a personal choice belonging to each individual and I don’t want to lecture about it or present myself as a martyr or hero, which I am not. So I will speak only of my own choice, one that isn’t motivated by the specter of revolutionary duty, but by desire, my own need to feel more free, more dignified, and more alive than my jailers permit.
My intellectual and theoretical baggage is relatively limited, but my life resembles more that of a delinquent than of an academic, and I’ve been moving through the hallways of the courthouse since I was 13, and of prisons since 17. These remarks are much more the product of my own very subjective personal experience, rather than any kind of pre-established ideological position. Although I draw from the anarchist current, I wasn’t even aware of these ideas when I was first held in investigative detention as a child. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 29th, 2016 | Author: THI | Filed under: Broadsheets | No Comments »
from L’Imprévu, #1, Dec 2016 
Imagine for a moment… You’ve been wearing yourself out over years of work in a steel mill, eight hours a day doing something that doesn’t interest you, just sweating in the noise and heat, between the grey walls of the factory, until you’re physically and mentally depleted. And all that for… Really, why? To fill the pockets of shareholders, the same people who would throw you back out on the street at a moment’s notice if things stopped being sufficiently “profitable”. Bad enough in itself, of course, if not a downright tragic, humiliating, revolting scandal.
This kind of thing is the daily reality of a unbelievable number of people throughout the world (worse still, it’s the normal course of things) and among them, the workers in the ESB steelmill in Seraing who, to top it off, were denied their last two months salary — the miserly pay that you depend on to live and that makes you accept the daily torment of work.
In April, some workers were quite reasonably sick of the management’s bullshit and decided to turn their anger into action. Some members of management found themselves forced to work a bit of overtime, and one of them got a serious talking to. The police intervened to save the poor suits. A few hours later, a night team, though quickly assembled, decided to take action. Not to produce merchandise and further enrich the boss, but rather by finally doing a something useful in the factory: a large part of the work space (notably the offices) were ably destroyed using a forklift, which also caught fire shortly after. As well, several cars belonging to the bosses suffered broken headlights. Destroy what destroy us, that’s what it’s about; and that’s precisely our point.
The next day, a union rep appeared on scene to show off his nervous face for the cameras and to condemn these joyful acts of human dignity. Well of course, a union rep is, in a way, there to protect the factory: even when he seems nice, he’s still a cop. When the decisive moment arrives, it’s clear to see which side he’s on. The unions were much more excited about the prison guards strike in Brussels and Wallonia that lasted several weeks . Unlike the prisoners.
Imagine for a moment… Locked up inside the bare walls of a prison, deprived of freedom and at the mercy of fickle and unscrupulous people who make their living locking others in concrete cages. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, they go on strike as well. Not because they’re sick of slamming the cell doors day after day, but because they want a better salary and more colleagues to help them in their grim task.
The unions and leftists supported the strike, but there is a fundamental difference between these two methods of putting pressure on the boss: there are the strikers who block or destroy the machines, and thus the production of merchandise, and those who put the lives of prisoners at risk. Because when the screws go on strike, the prisoners don’t get showers, visits, or yard time . Everyone spends the whole day locked in their cell, with the intolerable consequences that follow. In many places, the prisoners didn’t just suffer through the strike without doing anything and some unrest broke out. In the Tournai, Arlon, Huy, Landtin, and Andenne prisons, the prisoners responded by burning their cells, flooding the units, trashing the hallways, etc. Saturday May 7, a devastating mutiny rocked the Merkplas prison in Anvers. Whole wings were destroyed and burnt by the insurgent prisoners. Walls were leveled, fences torn down, whole units ransacked. Between striking guards and prisoners in revolt, it’s clear which side we’re on.
In these times, when the atrocities of this world are more obvious with each passing day, where we ask ourselves how many humiliations the oppressed will have to take before waking up, events like those in Seraing and in the prisons teach us a thing or two things: they may well put our backs against the wall, but there is always a way to recover our dignity. That’s why we can’t let the unions be our compass, but should rather be guided by our own strength, courage, inventiveness, and rage.
1] As far as I know, this French-language broadsheet, produced by anarchist in Brussels, does not have a web presence. Theiy direct the curious to Acrata Infoshop and offer the email address imprevu at riseup dot net
2] This strike started at the end of April 2016 and lasted over a month, before the state agreed to grant a pay raise and hire almost five hundred more screws and creating 1400 new spaces of prisoners
3] Or, often, regular medications, access to medical care, appropriate food, fresh clothes…
Posted: December 28th, 2016 | Author: THI | Filed under: prisoner support | 1 Comment »
From Cette Semaine
Damien was arrested on Wednesday, December 7 in Bretagne, charged with attacks against the Chambre of Commerce, a Jaguar dealership, and other targets during a demo that took place on April 14 between Paris’ 10th and 19th districts. This is his first letter out since being denied bail.
I’m writing from Fleury, where I’m being held in preventative detention. Since the charges against me are, as usual, totally boring and unimaginative, I wanted to offer a different telling of the lovely spring night of revolt, written by some true lovers of disorder, so that my comrades have an accurate and realistic depiction of what I’m alleged to have done: “Reportback on April 14: hold in the rage too long and it bursts out like it should”
I don’t want to complain, so I won’t give a detailed account of my arrest, similar as it was to all those that happen each day, here and around the world. However, it does seem important to mention a few things.
During the search, the cops found some anarchist propaganda, namely some newspapers, brochures, posters, and tracts, as well as a few texts in the process of being translated. I refused to sign the papers dealing with the search as well as those for my being held taken into custody.
After being transferred to the police station in Paris’ 19th district, I couldn’t reach my lawyer. I refused to be represented by a different one and so my hearing was held without the presence of a lawyer. I made this choice because my statement to the pigs fits in one line: “I am neither guilty nor innocent. I am an anarchist. I have nothing more to say to you.”
Because I refused to make a statement, I don’t know at present what evidence they have on file. These lackeys of the powerful only told me that they have 8 DNA samples that match my genetic profile, and I know from having seen it that their folder on me is a brick, six or seven centimetres thick.
To get more information, I’ll have to wait for my lawyer to have access to the folder and to come meet with me in prison. In any case, I’ve already made clear that I want the entire process and all my statements be made available to my comrades so that they can make whatever use of it they see fit. No copyright, no property, and without the censorship of the political bureau of any party, even imaginary ones .
After a night spent in the holding cells of the Paris courthouse, a sort of medieval dungeon where the cops satisfy their sadistic urges, I was taken to court for an immediate summary trial . Since my lawyer wasn’t there, I asked for a public defender at the last minute in order to get the date pushed back.
The prosecutor, as usual, started bellowing a bunch of stupidness while making big gestures and sounding quite assured. She stated, for instance, that the residency declaration made by a comrade present in the room was inadmissible, because of grammatical mistakes in the text… And she continued, full of confidence, that of course, all opinions are respectable, even anarchy, but that is no excuse for the actions I’m accused of.
We have to admit, if these clowns in black robes didn’t have power over the lives of others, they’d really be good for a laugh!
But until such a time as the courts are destroyed and the judges are sent to their proper place, in the circus, we can’t let them say whatever idiotic thing that comes to mind. Regardless of the fantastic allegations of the prosecutor, anarchy is not an opinion, anarchy is a set of ideas that fit with a set of practices.
Since what I’m accused of took place during a social movement that wasn’t a single mass, I want to make clear that I refuse the humanitarian solidarity of the unions or of any pacifist or citizens’ group that plays the role of intermediary for the transmission of power. My only desire is for the complicity of individuals in revolt who conspire in the shadows, ai ferri corti  with the existant and with power.
My thanks to the comrade present at my arrest for the dignity she demonstrated in the face of the little soldiers of order, and thanks to all my comrades who reacted so quickly. Your support in the courtroom warmed my heart and gave me lots of strength.
Don’t be too worried about me. Having spent several years in prison, I know its social codes very well, and I will doubtless find among the undesireables, of which I am a part, a few complicities rich in possibility.
Because submission is never an option, because each individual act of revolt contains all the violence of social relations, because there remain countless stories to be written, across time and space, across the gray metropoles, inside and outside…
… the fight continues.
December 14 2016
n° d’écrou 432888
MAH de Fleury-Mérogis (Bâtiment D5)
7, avenue des Peupliers
91705 – Sainte-Génevieve-des-Bois
The French State, Earth
1] Pre-trial detention for people who don’t get bail
2] The link is in French, but the gist is that during a demo on April 14, as part of the movement against the new labour laws, a whole bunch of stuff got smashed, including hotels, art galeries, grocery stores, car shares, banks, and notably car dealerships. Folks went inside a Jaguar dealership and trashed as many cars as they could
3] A little jab at the appelists/tiqqunists
4] Often in France, the state will try to run your trial within a couple of days of your arrest
5] “at daggers drawn”
Posted: December 23rd, 2016 | Author: THI | Filed under: General | No Comments »
On the need for debate about the militarization of states against intensifying popular uprisings and revolutionary mobilizations
Translators note: This article is a proposal for a discussion on how to oppose the militarization of social conflict that was circulated among radicals in the territory of the French state on paris-luttes.info and other sites. This is a global problem, and so if you want to contribute to this discussion, I will share summarize or translate responses from anglophones and share them with folks on paris-luttes.
“In recent years, ethnic, tribal, social, and political problematics have re-emerged and contributed to tensions and conflicts in many regions of the world. […]
“The logic of insurgency and counter-insurgency have become essentially urban questions […]
“Guerillas, insurgents, and other non-state actors have taken advantage of the benefits of operating in this environment and will doubtless continue to do so.”
NATO – Operations in urban areas 2020
2.3.2 The Nature of the Enemy – April 2003 
the NATO Research and Technology organization in Neuilly-sur-seine 
“The militarization of the state progresses at a hectic pace. More and more often and for many different reasons, military-style solutions are chosen that disturb or threaten to disturb the fragile social equilibrium”
Anarchist Prisoners of Korydallos
Letter on the assassination of Marian Kola – August 2013 
In times of war. If it weren’t for the avalanche of alienation dispensed by the fourth estate, the media, and its commentaries that fade into declarations by decision-makers — ministers, presidents, religious leaders, and kings — we wouldn’t need to spell this all out. But the change in how uprisings happen and how they are repressed is clear, which means a debate about them is obviously necessary. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 17th, 2016 | Author: THI | Filed under: Broadsheets | No Comments »
Texts from the second issue of Blasphegme, pasted up around Paris in December 2016
War among the poor
Translators into: This text is a response to the death of Zhang Chaolin on August 7, 2016, following a violent robbery by three teenagers from the neighbourhood, one of over a hundred similar robberies targeting people who look Chinese in the past year. The narrative around this is that black and brown youth in poor areas see the Chinese residents of those same areas as more prosperous and single them out for robberies that often turn violent.
This summer, a man died after he was the target of a racist attack. We might be surprised not to have heard this mentioned by the professionals of the anti-racist cause, leaving the state and its representatives to take the lead. And if the irritating demand for “truth and justice” was not made, we can be sure it wasn’t for a good reason. On the one hand, the professional anti-racists ignored this story and on the other, associations from the so-called “Chinese community” took advantage to draw lines between groups of people, while the state was happy to play the anti-racist card, going so far as to inaugurate a plaque in honour of this man a few weeks ago.
Those who have always sought to oppose racism without trying to make a profession of it recognize that all the various waves of immigrants (and not just them)  have experienced the racism latent in a large part of the population (immigrant or not). It seems ironic, then, that the “anti-racist” ideology (and here we don’t mean the state, who during this same time is forcing out migrants in Paris and Calais) only takes into consideration certain expressions of racism, while leaving aside others. As if some deaths and assaults were more serious than others, some racisms and discriminations more serious than others. Read the rest of this entry »