“The nation is just an idea (and a shitty one at that), a myth that seeks to create a feeling of belonging to justify the existence of a state”

Marseille: Anti-gentrification myths and lies for welfare case workers

Posted: May 22nd, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Broadsheets | No Comments »

Texts translated from issue 5 of Du Pain Sur La Planche [1], published in March and distributed in the streets of Marseille. The first text is a short but incisive critique of liberal anti-gentrification organizing that seeks to set out a positive local identity that needs to be protected from change (which, under capitalist social relations, can only be a lie); the second is a reflection on the role of the welfare bureaucracy in building a docile workforce and maintaining social peace.

This wonderful neighbourhood…

In the early morning on the way to work, X is passing through the market in the Plain[2] when she hears shouting. She has to elbow her way through to get close enough to understand what’s happening. A woman, surrounded by several men (four “stall holders”), is blocked in by a motionless crowd. These assholes are insulting and threatening her, punctuated with disgusting sexist comments. Though isolated among these jackals and their accomplices, she stays strong and holds her ground. Just beside her, an old man is being abundantly berated by another merchant, who says that he’s already warned him, that he doesn’t want to see him around, that he’s already stolen things several times: if he comes back, he’ll kick his ass. It seems the woman has been singled out by these four horrible people because she defended the old thief. Running ever later and rightly furious now, my friend X tries to find others to help her tell the stall holders to fuck off. But in vain. One of the few responses she received was that “it livens things up”. Hard to conclude anything positive from this anecdote that combines “class” violence with sexism and regular old assholery and that makes visible (yet again) the petty cowardice of crowds. There is one thing though: the attitude of the person who got in the way of something she found disgusting and X, who tried to ease the pressure on her and offer her a way out. Read the rest of this entry »


Introduction to a book by anarchists from Aleppo

Posted: May 17th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Syrian Revolution | No Comments »

Translated from Tamaroud

The following discussion seeks to reflect the current situation of Syrian individuals who are trying as hard as they can to free themselves from patterns of collective hypocrisy and over-optimistic thinking. Our experiment was still just newly born when it developed the problem of being unable to clearly distinguish the latent authoritarian power in society and in the state, to draw back the curtains that have concealed it. At the start of the revolution, in small gatherings of friends, we predicted that if the struggle lasted longer than a month, then the country would descend into civil war – this wasn’t just an intellectual exercise, as it’s our current reality.

Revolutionary theory, or even theory in general (any attempt at analysis, extrapolation, or critique) is seen as an aberration when it’s produced by a “normal” individual. Theory remains the exclusive domain of a supposedly “elite” political and cultural class in Syria, with its long and documented history of struggle and imprisonment. This class has in the past organized itself into clubs, parties, or groups (such as the Damascus Declaration, the Attasi Club, or civil society groups)… Read the rest of this entry »


1917: An anti-war revolution

Posted: May 14th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Broadsheets | No Comments »

Translator: Text from the April 2017 issue of Canons Rompus, a revolutionary anti-war journal published in France. Not tied to a specific ideology, this journal engages a critique of the state by analyzing the role of the military in politics, society, and the economy. This text is interesting in that, departing somewhat from their usual anti-war stance, it appears to say that the Russian withdrawal from World War 1 represented an abandonment of internationalist principles and led to the consolidation of the Leninist “revolutions are the internal business of states” ideology that continues to operate today (in the pro-Assad opposition to the Syrian revolution, for instance).

Exactly one hundred years ago, in March 1917, the Russian revolution began.

This revolution, lead primarily by farmers, workers, and soldiers, set off a world-wide revolutionary wave and kept the working class’ hopes alive for decades…

We want to draw attention to the role played by war in sparking the revolution and in its continuation, as well as on the importance of the question of peace, starting in the very first street demonstrations. Read the rest of this entry »


To Live in Revolutionary Time

Posted: May 11th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Syrian Revolution | 3 Comments »

 Translator’s Introduction to The Formation of Local Councils by Omar Aziz

Translator’s introduction to the English translation of Omar Aziz’s text The Formation of Local Councils. The translation can be found here. As well, we have laid out the introduction and the translation as a pamphlet for easier reading and distribution, and the PDF can be found here.

On 17 February 2013, the Local Coordination Committees of the Syrian revolution reported that Omar Aziz, prominent Syrian intellectual, economist, and long-time anarchist dissident, died of a heart attack in the central Adra prison. Held incommunicado by the air force intelligence since 20 November 2012, the big and warm – albeit ailing – heart of Omar Aziz could not stand almost three months of detention inside the infamous dungeons of the Assad regime. The reports of his passing emerged on the second anniversary of the Hariqa market protest, when 1,500 Syrians vowed for the first time not to be humiliated in the heart of Old Damascus. Aziz leaves behind a rich, significant legacy of ground-breaking intellectual, social and political contributions as well as an unfinished revolution and a country in desperate need for people like him. (Budour Hassan: Rest in Power)

Omar Aziz, revolutionary anarchist born in Damascus, was a friend and comrade to many and is fondly remembered and deeply missed. His text, The Formation of Local Councils, remains one of the core strategic proposals of the social revolution in Syria. He first published it in late 2011, and then released an expanded and revised version in February 2012 with a new introduction. This present translation offers the introductions to both versions and the full text of the second version. It doesn’t seem that Omar’s intention was to produce a static, finished text — with his emphasis on adapting to local context and changing conditions, it’s likely he would have continued to revise and change his proposals. You will notice some repetition between the two introductions, which is simply because the second was written to replace the first, and so they weren’t meant to be displayed side by side.

Although Omar’s name is somewhat well known, there has not been an adequate English translation of his writings. As well, the text was very much an internal document, circulated among people organizing in Syria. There are large sections presented as bulleted lists of proposals, and there is essentially no context given. The Formation of Local Councils was only published publicly online after Omar’s death in 2013; perhaps the lack of translation since then reflects the difficulty of presenting this important text to an English-speaking public in a way that allows it to be understood. However, the text is tremendously rich and offers many concrete ideas and reflections for those in western countries engaged in struggle against the state and reactionaries, and for autonomy and freedom. Read the rest of this entry »


On Not Voting and Anti-Electoral Attack

Posted: May 4th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Broadsheets | No Comments »

Two texts from Blasphegme #4, a mural journal that started appearing around Paris on April 4. The first text is an individualist rejection of electoralism and the society that goes with it and the second is a brief round up of attacks against electoral infrastructure in the month before its publication.

I don’t vote!

Source: https://blasphegme.noblogs.org/2017/04/je-ne-vote-pas/

I don’t vote. Because I don’t want to choose a master, to choose who will decide in my place what’s right for me, who will force me to respect their choices, who will present those choices as my own. I don’t want the majority to determine the conditions of my servitude, I don’t want to the cattle to build the fences that enclose them and select those who will rule over me as well, regardless of what I think.

I don’t vote because I don’t want the world they force on us. I don’t recognize the idea of the nation, of peoples, or of citizenship, because states always manage to construct identities that give the illusion of a unified population. My nationality, the language I speak, and the colour of my skin in no way determine who I am, and I don’t recognize the borders of the state in which chance saw me born. In the same way, I don’t want to hear about any “common good”, because I don’t want to be part of any community – I don’t want to be bound to anyone and I want to choose those with whom I build my life. Read the rest of this entry »


On the French Election: No bosses, no nations! No Le Pen, no Macron!

Posted: May 3rd, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Broadsheets | 1 Comment »

Two texts from issue 9 of Paris Sous Tension, published this week, responding to the ongoing French electoral circus.

No bosses, no nations! No Le Pen, no Macron! [1]

Source: https://parissoustension.noblogs.org/ni-patrie-ni-patron-ni-le-pen-ni-macron/

Everyone knows the results of the first round of the presidential elections [2]. For us, this isn’t what matters. That millions of people still bother to go vote shows that we are still living in a society largely made up of obedient citizens and not, alas, of free individuals. But how could this surprise us when we know of the whole range of institutions – starting with school – that continue, year after year, to reproduce such creatures. That a majority of them gave their support to an ex-banker (a veritable messiah of the coming capitalism) and to a disgrace (a populist demagogue who plays on the hatred and resentment that drives so many of our contemporaries) reminds us that we truly have no hope of sharing anything with such people. And sadly, it shows where resignation, everyone-for-themselves, identification with the national community, the abandonment of all hope of revolution, and the erasure of historical memory can lead. Nothing surprising. But let’s leave the pessimism for later.

That night, several hundred people showed their refusal of the elections, their unequivocal and unconditional defiance towards the person who will reach the throne. Several unpermitted demos wove their way throughout north-east Paris, moving through Bastille, République, Stalingrad, Belleville, Ménilmontant… With the practice of, as much as possible, directly attacking everything that, within their way of seeing the world, doesn’t have a good reason to exist,: riot cops, military vehicles, banks, insurance agencies, advertising panels, surveillance cameras, real estate agencies, various businesses… [3] Read the rest of this entry »


An Imagined Dialogue with a Supporter of Taking People’s Picture

Posted: April 3rd, 2017 | Author: | 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?

Endnotes

  1. 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
  2. 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/
  3. 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
  4. Activist media collective that has been the subject of repeated criticism for producing videos that contain obviously incriminating details

Cash for Kalimero! Supporting Prisoners of the Social War in France

Posted: February 22nd, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Repression & Prisoners | 1 Comment »

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 »


Bobigny: Reportback on Saturday’s riot, for Théo and against the police (+commentary)

Posted: February 12th, 2017 | Author: | 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 »


Ile-de-France: Revolts this week against police violence

Posted: February 10th, 2017 | Author: | 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 »