Paris: There will be no presidential election

  • Posted on: 17 September 2016
  • By: Anonymous (not verified)

From Bordered by Silence

A call to break with the electoral circus

(Translated from an anonymous leaflet distributed in the September 15th 2016 demo in Paris. All brackets are translators notes)

There has been much water under the bridge since the Socialist Party (Parti Socialiste, PS — party of French president Hollande) backed down from holding their summer congress in Nantes after a simple call to crash it. This came at the end of four months during which the movement against the “Work!” law (reform to the labour code) managed to dictate the terms and timeline of the debate. Four months during which the many attempts at concealing the real political questions of our present moment by launching the presidential campaign, with it’s clever catch phrases and insignificant revelations, were utterly rejected. It took the summer, the dead-time of the vacation season, and a few terrorist attacks to allow the elites to climb back into the saddle. The effect was immediate: public discourse immediately took a nose dive into the most crass nonsense, to such a degree that Marine Le Pen (leader of the far-right Front National) stepped in to moderate and the Prime Minister set off philosophizing about the burkini. We turned our backs for a moment and politicians of all stripes set up their little electoral and rhetorical machines, their pathetic personal ambitions, their desperate ideological mantras — each in their place, each with their own angle, taking aim at each other and setting each other traps that they end up caught in themselves. This whole spectacle wouldn’t deserve our attention if it didn’t have such real effects on our relationships and mental health, if it wasn’t able to suck all the air out of the room. We’re left with an even more intolerable atmosphere than what we had before the movement against the “Work!” law.

An honest description of the present moment could well be just a list of the crises, in every sphere, and we known well that no political party or politician is actually capable of dealing with them. They find themselves at the helm of a boat that no longer responds to their commands and that on the scale of the nation, at once too vast and too limited, they are powerless. Out of everything, their claims to be “protecting” us from a world in chaos are by far the most disgusting and exaggerated. This whole spectacle of directionless directors, ignorant experts, childish would-be leaders, the let-down expectations that they persist in reigniting, all the confusion that they spread, are not only part of the problem rather than the solution, but in fact keep us from finding new ways of engaging. The state of the world is such that the clowns of traditional politics no longer make us laugh. Their tricks are obscene and it’s harder and harder to remain a spectator.

Hollande sees himself as a “bastion of democracy” and Cambadélis (Secretary of the PS) states that, “This time, they reject everyone, Sarkozy (former French president running on the right), Hollande, Juppé (right-wing candidate), Mélenchton (left-wing candidate) just as well as Marine Le Pen. The presidential election will turn on who is least rejected on the day of the vote.” We believe it’s urgent to make the campaign and the elections impossible, just like the PS’ summer congress in Nantes became impossible. The Nantes assembly “À l’abordage!” (attacking an enemy ship) didn’t even need to make a threat or carry out a strike or a riot to make them back down. It was enough to just constitute a force locally to provoke a retreat by the ruling party, to have all the groups that gave life to the movement against the “Work!” law — independent unionists, clear-sighted youth, politically active retirees, communists bored of politics, anarchists skeptical of all ideology, activists disgusted by the left, those who reject promises of security, workers at the end of their rope, academics hostile to all management, etc — come together in an assembly and to begin organizing with all sorts of people elsewhere in France. We also see that this was an opportunity for the PS to avoid putting their internal divisions on display, but these divisions didn’t come from nowhere and are the indirect result of the struggle we have been waging these past months.

We, some anonymous participants in the front of the demo (where people assemble for a more combative march outside the control of the unions), are calling for assemblies within the space created by the movement against the “Work!” law, like “À l’abordage!” in Nantes. We want assemblies that are relentless against politicians and that organize to deal with the real problems we face today, be they local or global. We are calling for the creation of an oppositional public and political space, everywhere in France, that reveals the weakness of the sorry political spectacle. We call to make sure the there is no presidential election, in that sense that, even though some intransigents will insist on voting, it will be a non-event compared to our own political momentum. Let’s start without delay — apparently, some people want to make the September 15th demonstration the funeral march of the struggle against the “Work!” law, but let’s make it instead the beginning of the scuttling of the electoral circus.

Let’s sink the presidential campaign!



I hope Le Pen wins, takes France out of the EU, throws out all the Durkhas, and stirs shit up to new heights.

Such an outcome might force people to confront how much of a circus elections really are.

As is my attitude toward every other election everywhere else in the world, I'm pretty much indifferent to who wins. A vote for anyone is a vote for political "representation" - a concept that I fundamentally reject.

Of course because political representation signifies nothing.

why do people always think that anytime a particular person wins an election or takes over a government that it will force people to confront the reality of anything? most people either do nothing or support whats happens.

I agree that "most people either do nothing or support whats happens" but that's always the case: social movements are initiated so far by a minority of the proletariat.

A Le Pen victory (pretty unlikely) will almost certainly have an effect on the minority of rebels amongst those who in some way contest this society. The worst effect will probably be to increase the ability of Daesh to recruit people in the banlieux, a fact ignored or minimised by the vast majority of the "anti-authoritarian" milieu. However, the best effect will probably be:

1. to spark off riots in the banlieux
2. to intensify the resolve of the anti-authoritarian milieu and extend their contributions to the riots and attacks that have been happening over the last few months
3. to at least force the Nuit Debout chatterers to not permit fascists to hang around the endless discussions without much practical consequence that constitute most of what happens in the Nuit Debout.
4. to push the more rebellious workers to go beyond the unions' containment of struggles
5. and to almost certainly intensify the struggles of those who never vote anyway - those in the high schools.

Would an unlikely Trump victory have a similar effect in the USA ? Of course, I mean an American version, which would be very different in form and content. What I'm asking is - would a Trump victory be such a bad thing, however indicative of serious false consciousness amongst vast swathes of the US working class? The chances of riots and significant conflict arising out of his presidency are far greater than under Clinton, at least in the first months of such a result; it would be a major problem for the vast majority of the US ruling class, who seriously do not want a Trump victory, and is far less likely to produce the relatively passive response to Hitler’s accession to the throne in 1933.

"a fact ignored or minimised by the vast majority of the "anti-authoritarian" milieu"

Sadly true... Just like in Canada and other Western places, don't you dare talking to anarchists about the threat -and presence- of Islamic fascism within the Muslim underworld, or be labeled a fascist or racist. Here it's all about the bogeymen of Zionism (a trait shared with both neonazis and Islamofascists), yet when you got some inflammatory Muslim Brotherhood talking about some Islamic "revolution", be sure to mhave the Left and anarchists partying in their enclosures.

What the heck are you evening talking about? Canada and islamic revolutions and anti-semitism, all in one comment?

Seriously, if you're actually talking about something, you should probably tell us.

Haven't you heard man? There's a vast conspiracy to turn Canada into an Islamic caliphate and anarchists are in on it.

Yeah, Islamic caliphates suck. But, then again, so do liberal-democratic nation-states. Now, in light of that fact, what exactly is your point?

Trump would be damn politically weak if elected. It would take him years to build up the political base of support among the establishment that the Democrats enjoy. Silicon Valley and a large swath of the mainstream media are also all against him, which are huge "no-go" signs in themselves. Not anywhere near Nazi Germany, not even Fascist Italy. More like Berlusconi's Italy...

This text makes a serious proposal for refusing an election, based on a recent experience of resistance. True, it's a big jump from essentially planning a counter-summit as in Nantes and the PS, to actually building an organizational network that can undercut the electoral spectacle, but it's still interesting to hear about a situation where people can talk about actually building on existing practices towards something like refusal of electoral politics. In anglo north america, there is no space like the practice of assemblies in France (as flawed and self-limiting as it is).

I remember people saying that about when George W was elected in 2000. Afghanistan and Iraq and all're right that it will not force people into anything.

Can't compare Dubya with Trump. It's completely two worlds. Bush was Bush... the fratboy in a dynasty of ultra-powerful and equally dangerous global capitalists. Trump is a clown compared to the horror show of a Bush or Clingon in power.

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