The 'Scum' Fight Back

The speed at which the revolt of the unemployed in Franceís suburbs has spread has been breathtaking. It is one more powerful sign of decadent capitalismís slide towards systemic breakdown and of the potential of resistance to it. The anger that erupted with such force cries out for change at the roots of society.

This is a clash between the human need for dignity, respect and a sens of future, and a society that has reduced humans to commodities, which, when they canít be used, become garbage.

'Garbage', 'scum', is what they're called openly when they refuse to make themselves invisible; those masses of unemployed, whose ranks are growing while entire industries move to China in search of labor that can be squeezed even more. The only concern capital has for them is to control them, to pacify them, to keep them inside their neighborhoods. In those neighborhoods, in the suburbs of Paris and elsewhere, young men run away at the sight of the police, just to avoid controls which, at the whim of a policeman, become four hours-detentions or worse. Thatís what lit the fuse: two young men, fleeing from the police into an electrical plant, were electrocuted. A government-minister threw oil on the fire by expressing the contempt that created the rage in the first place.

Is it Ďblind rageí? Its targets are not picked out blindly. Police-stations, government-offices, schools: institutions of the state, institutions that subjugate them, symbols of the system. But also cars, supermarkets, even day care centers and workplaces. Firefighters were attacked too. ďIf we canít work, if we canít consume, if we canít have cars, you canít eitherí, seems to be the implicit message. Workers have lost jobs and means of transportation as a result of this. So is this revolt anti-working class? I donít think so but as a social phenomenon, it is probably not without ambiguity. It may very well express the self-destructive energy that emanates from decadent capitalist society (the urge for (self)destruction of superfluous commodities and capital to create new room for valorization), as well as anti-capitalist rage (but with a certain lack of clarity on who the enemy precisely is). This lack of identification with the broader working class is likely to provoke some hostile reactions from workers, which ideologues of different stripes will not fail to exploit.. There is the danger of a widening rift between this revolt of the unemployed and the rest of the working class. A pro-revolutionary intervention would have to focus on that, on the need to connect this rage against the system and the struggle of workers against attacks on their wages, pensions, health care. During these struggles too, particularly but not solely in France, anger at the capitalist system and distrust over where it is going were increasingly expressed.

Itís one fight. A very positive aspect of the present revolt is that it is not Islamic (even though Fox calls it Ďthe Muslim revoltí), itís not anti-white or nationalistic Arabic. So far no ideology has got a grip on it. If one does at some point, that would be a sign that the movement is declining. Hopefully there will be no such recuperation. But inevitably, this anger will go back underground and inevitably (despite all the commissions that will be formed, the reports that will be written), because the inevitable further decline of capitalism, it will erupt again., hopefully with more force, more clarity.


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