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.
As well, we remember the demonstration for “safety” that took place on June 20, 2010 in Belleville, (with the intention of showing that the “chinese community” was fed up with being the preferred target of assaults and theft), which transformed into a race riot. The demonstrators were calling for more “safety”, more police measures to protect them, but went on to scapegoat some youth on the basis of their clothing and skin colour as being thieves. It was simply a racist and reactionary riot, there’s nothing more foul.
In the face of demands like these for “safety”, we can only repeat there that are already too many cops and cameras in the streets (and that there are any at all is too much), and that those who call for the cages that hold us to be made smaller are pushing in the same direction as the state. In the same way, the “night patrols” created in Aubervilliers, made up of “citizens”, remind us of the “good citizen” militias , like the “neighbourhood watch” programs that want to see social peace reign and who supplement the many cameras and cops already present. Soon, they’ll ask to start carrying guns to defend “their neighbourhood” and to shoot anyone who looks like a threat, in the same way that others seek to rob “rich people”, going by nothing but their physical appearance. Nothing better to push us towards a civil war, with different communities killing each other, to the glee of the state as this war of all against all replaces the social war.
The problem isn’t “safety”. The problem is to view society as made up of communities, seen as homogeneous groups, without taking into account social differences, without thinking of whether people have status or not or of those who are exploiters and those who are exploited. The problem is to think it’s normal that people divide themselves up into “races”, nations, religions, skin colours, or geographic origins: to see people who come from China (or anywhere) as “others” and to treat them differently or attack them for this reason.
The problem is the war among the poor: to steal from your neighbour who’s struggling, who is also exploited, rather than go a few kilo meters away to rob those who get rich of the backs of the exploited, be they Chinese, North African, French, Portugese, Congolese…
We don’t want to choose between falling back on community divisions (and the appearance of civil war) and a “safety” managed by the state. We want to develop as individuals, in a world without cops and without communities.
Against Racism and the Tyranny of Safety!
Let’s respond to this social cannibalism by attacking those responsible for our misery!
The Daily Beep
Beep, when we get on the metro with our transit pass. Beep when we enter our workplace. Beep when we check out at a university or school cafeteria (where sometimes, instead of a card, we use our palm prints). Beep when we got to the library. Beep when we enter our building.
When we aren’t beeping, we’re typing away on our smartphones, our tablets, or on a computer keyboard. Not a second of the day passes without interacting with these technologies, that have taken the place of face to face interactions, leaving us with virtual contact by social network, and in reality, each in our cold solitude.
We’ve almost forgotten that when we want to talk with someone, we can got to their place and knock on the door. We’ve almost forgotten what it means to communicate in person, with emotions, laughter, or anger that can be read on our faces, in the tone of our voice, or in the trembling of our hands. We’ve almost forgotten that not so long ago these machines weren’t part of our lives, that we weren’t closed into these digital worlds that take more and more control over our days, that people lived, loved, communicated, and kept up to date on the news without these invasive technologies.
Sometimes in the metro, we feel like intruders, as one of those rare individuals not absorbed by their little screen and headphones, oblivious to the people around them. By folding in on ourselves in this way, we don’t even notice how society is changed by these technologies. For instance, in jail, in school, on the borders, and in some workplaces, biometrics are now routine (fingerprints, shape of the hand, facial features, the network of ocular veins…). We will have to be creative to counter systems of control that are so omnipresent in our lives and whose work is made easier by the new Secure Electronic Identity database, that will be a centralized depository of biometric data on everyone with a passport or a national identity card. And add to this the cameras in the streets, the GPS in smartphones and cars, electronic monitor bracelets, and a swarm of other machines just waiting to be launched in this lucrative market.
The walls close in little by little, with everyone more or less accepting this overarching policing in their daily lives. We even forget that it won’t kill us to unplug (not even socially) and that the celebrated “neutrality” of technology doesn’t exist; we have already forgotten our ways of interacting, communicating, and thinking. Most of us are reduced to serving machines, fundamentally alienated in every sphere of life.
And if we relearned how to live without these machines? What if we cut the virtual cord and reconnected with each other, weaving complicities in person to fill the void created by our atomisation? We could reconnect with time, space, and each other, everything that the cold interaction with machines has pushed to the background.
What if we openly blaspheme against the religion of connectivity? What if we storm thisv much-vaunted technological heaven, but that seems more like a science-fiction nightmare?
What if we destroy the machines…
1] Referring to internal linguistic and ethnic minorities, as well as to Roma and Jewish peoples, none of whom migrated to the territory of the French state
2] The good citizens militias evoke various fascist groups that supported the Nazi occupation