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Clermont: Revenge of the weeds: On attacks against schools

Posted: October 3rd, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Broadsheets | Comments Off on Clermont: Revenge of the weeds: On attacks against schools

From La Bourrasque, an anarchist broadsheet of critique and agitation written in Clermont and the surrounding area. Issue 2, Juin-August 2016.

A little something for the back-to-school season…

Revenge of the Weeds

We still remember those nasty, horrible people who, in 2005, during the three weeks of rioting that rocked the banlieues (1), vandalized “their” schools. Groups of rebels smashed up this idea of schooling, blew apart the framework of social integration (2), set ablaze the whole democratic symbol of a national education. These images were seen around the world and many onlookers were deeply impacted by the scenes of civil war and the reactionary rhetoric of the journalist-cops. There had always been attacks against schools and they haven’t stopped since. Each year, we can count a good twenty of them that get ransacked. These revolts are less visible today than in 2005, but sometimes the ruckus still manages to reach us from the other side of the bars. If we were to really spend five minutes reflecting on what this institution represents, would we be so surprised to see it targeted by those who refuse to submit?

The school, with its perimeter wall, its yard, its cameras, and, coming soon, its metal detectors, is nothing but a reduced version of the prison. Its priorities — bow to authority, stay in your place, say thank you — must be fully internalized before stepping out into the real world. Discipline is strict and the child is brought into line using punishments or rewards. Education is a garden stake, straightening up the weedy plants they could grow into.

Knowledge, used in service of power relations, is distributed by the voice of a master, not discovered, discussed, and made their own by children and adults. It is never questioned and they must be prepared to recite its truth at any moment. The national education program involves training the good citizens of tomorrow by indoctrinating them with learning, integration, and the reproduction of social values, and not, as its apostles love to believe, to encourage them to discover and create, together or individually.

The shadow of exploitation through labour, the only option once they leave the classroom, weighs down on every inch of the school. Its rhythms, similar to those of work, dictate to the child the rhythm they will follow throughout their lives and trains them in the liberal logic of competition and personal success. Teaching — the relationship of master and student — conditions them to be passive adults.

The school is a social laboratory where the body and mind are cultured. To complete the family structure, it is the first space dedicated to assimilating society’s norms (gender, sexuality, beauty…) and relationships of domination (classism, patriarchy, ageism…)

It’s during this time that the standardizing machine is going full steam on each individual, modeling their identities on manufactured stereotypes, inciting them to play the game of representation, and to build over-sized egos. To be like a “real girl” and talk clothes with your friends, to have a properly virile attitude  when you’re “with the boys”, especially in front of girls — this is how we have to behave if we don’t want to feel like outcasts. The right brand names, the right haircut, and a snotty attitude are the keys to popularity. Time to develop a personality as shallow as the images that cover our day planners, look like M Pokora (3), or whatever celebrity, to become the star of the school yard, the ultimate stage set for the fifteen minutes of fame promised by our screens. School is the place where all the shitty attitudes marketing tries to sell us are most concentrated.

This space of enclosure is the breeding ground of social relations, where power wants to see the seeds of normality and exclusion germinate. It’s where the process of isolating the non-conformist develops, grows strength, and takes root — against the defiant ones, the bad students, the “fags”, the tomboys, the intellectuals. The violence involved in rejecting and dominating the Other is everywhere, in the street, among buddies, in the family, or in the daily grind. School is an exaggerated caricature of the world we live in.

And yet, despite the power of the school, many people manage to slip through the net of submission and normality, always struggling to maintain a rebellious spirit against subjugation, even if it costs a few drops of blood. And once we manage to break free, we no longer see the school as it’s sold to us, as a site of awakening and freedom, but for what it really is, a machine to codify, evaluate, rank, and exclude. And we keep a grudge against it.

So don’t be surprised when the kids and the teens smash up these institutions that deprive them of their freedom and condition them to keep their mouths shut, or when rioters torch these buildings where power has tried to make them bow their heads. No, rather we just smile gladly and remember the old saying: every age has to smash its cage!

In the area this last while

For those who think that schools only get smashed up in the sprawling metropoles or in their degenerate banlieues, meaning far away from you, it’s a true pleasure to prove you wrong.

April 2013: At nightfall, 6 miscreants took off running from Jean-Jaurès school in the Saint-Jacques neighbourhood of Clermont. Theft of supplies, furniture tipped over, fire extinguisher emptied into the space… Half the crew, made up of 13 and 14 year-old youth, get busted by the pigs after being ratted out by eager passerby.

May 2014: The four rooms of the primary school Vieux Bourg in the Commentry area of Allier got ransacked. The furniture, the computers, and the photocopier were all destroyed; the walls, curtains, and floor were spattered with paint. An investigation opened by the gendarmes (4) of the Commentry division quickly identified three 11 and 12 year-old youths, all middle-school students.

25 May, 2016: Overnight, major damage inside the Jordanne school, in Aurillac. Several classrooms were visited, including the daycare, the teachers room, and the music room. The walls and furniture were covered with paint, stuff was thrown around, and tags were left all over the place. The wild ones are still running free…


  1. French suburbs often full of broke people
  2. An official term referring to the integration of migrants and racialized people into dominant society
  3. Some fucking singer
  4. Military-style police

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