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.