We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

It’s Difficult to Say Exactly What, But Something is Happening A Social Movement Awakens in France

Click here to access article by Anouk Colombani from The Brooklyn Rail

I've been aware of these protests known as "Nuit debout" (translated as "Up All Night", "Standing Night", and "Rise up at night") for some time, but I've recently become aware that it is spreading all over France, reaching nearby countries, and has even turned up in Montreal. 

What sparked it was apparently a law proposed to attack labor laws protecting workers, morphed into protests against the whole austerity fabric of capitalist rule under the latest phase of neoliberalism, and incorporated issues and methods of the more recent protest movements such as the Indignados and Occupy movements. As North American activists we need to know what is going on with these spreading protests. This article is the best I have seen to capture the origins and evolution of the movement. (I also recommend reading the recent Wikipedia entry about Nuit debout.)
Scattered, messy, refusing leaders and celebrities, the movement is sustained by the masses of people who make it. The diverse and often new forms it takes are signs that people are searching for new kinds of political organization. In the space of a month and a half, we have participated in the birth of new kinds of struggle but also in raising hundreds of issues for the broader public to consider, such as the vegan issue, the return of radical feminism, radical ecology, and horizontal democracy. This protest movement didn’t come from nowhere. If it refuses to take on a partisan label, it is clearly the product of protest movements and marginal practices that have been going on for the last twenty years. It also signals a political rebirth in many working-class neighborhoods. ....

Large crowds provoke fear
[among the ruling class]; as a result repression shows its face when people come together. Since the week of March 16, the police have not hesitated to intervene with tear gas, beatings, and arrests.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this new perspective on Nuit Debout.

    I was struck in particular by one subheading in this article: "Nobody knows where we’re going, but it feels good." And, because of that, I can tell you exactly where it's going: nowhere.

    Nuit Debout has been compared to 1968, but that movement had a distinct purpose: end the war. Beyond that, equality, socialism, and ecology were aligned forces hoping to overthrow the established order. The war did eventually end. Laws did get passed. But, the noose was also tightened. Leaders were shot: Malcolm, Bobby, Martin, Fred. The same is happening across Latin America today. (Berta Caceres, for one.) TPTB will not allow 1968 to recur.

    The elites or deep state or ruling class - The Powers That Be TPTB - cannot be fought by staying up all night, by demands, by protests. Protests are made against and demands are made of those with more power. The act of protesting or demanding (as contrasted with revolution)admits inferior status. With good reason. Labor and Students protest because Labor and Students do not produce what they themselves require to survive: breathable air and uncontaminated water and food. All owners need do is withhold these - in any manner - and eventually protest ends. And begging begins.

    We're witnessing not only the convergence of peak resources (including water), peak energy, abrupt climate disruption, and severe economic and political instability, we're witnessing protests of billions of completely dependent humans. Like the children they've reduced us to, we can protest and run away. But, we'll be home for dinner.

    More than likely, we're on the menu.


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