Reflections on Violence

  • Posted on: 1 May 2016
  • By: Anonymous (not verified)

From Lundi Matin

"Little by little, the 'question of violence' appears for what it is: a diversion."

Since the events of April 9th and the wild week that followed, the Nuit Debout (Rise Up At Night) assembly put the question of violence at the center of debate. While citizens persist in their rigorous pacifism, stances in favor of the "diversity of tactics" are multiplying. The National Student Coordination itself has explicitly refused dissociation between rioters and demonstrators.

Amongst this proliferation of discussions, the Nuit à Bout Action Committee has gathered the positions that seem pertinent to the context of the reinforcement of the movement as well as its repression. The more we  seriously assume our presence in the Place de la République, the more frequently situations leading to confrontations will present themselves  to us. We must prepare for them. This isn't a question of convincing  everyone that violence is a viable option or a necessary route. It's simply a matter of finding the forms of action, perhaps frightening, that will deliver us from fear.

Reflection I

What must be explained is not why things sometime get out of hand around the Nuit Debout  gatherings in Paris, but why it doesn't happen more. In the end, it's  clearly understood why people who have been gathering every night for  two weeks to envision the end of capitalism end up exploding the windows of the Société Générale bank (#PanamaPapers). Obviously this is right, it makes total sense. The problem lies elsewhere. This is why neither the moral apologies for violence nor the theoretical or ideological justification of trashing will succeed in bringing more people to fight against the police or smash bank windows.

We shouldn't forget that if many people are keeping themselves quiet in demos, it's not because pacifism is in their blood, but simply because they're afraid. To surpass this fear is a collective task that is nowhere better accomplished than in the streets. In drawing attention to everyone, and not only to one's friends; in taking care of each other, even in the worst situations.

Reflection II

"Diversity  of tactics" is an expression which, like its cousin, "convergence of  struggles", tells us nothing about what must be done when people are brought together who don't have the same ways to struggle, or don't even have any way to struggle at all. This expression actually hides a pretty liberal idea: everyone struggling next to the other, in their own way, without bothering or talking to one another.

It's nothing more than another subtle way to dissociate oneself. When will we get a "diversity of corteges"? This is something the FIDL already claim at every demo of high schoolers.

Reflection III

The question is not to be or not to be violent. The question is to be offensive, or inoffensive. Three gangs of five friends determined to smash vending machines but incapable of organizing on a larger scale than their own affinity circle are as inoffensive as 10,000 unionized citizens slowly marching behind the CGT's sound-system-french-fries-van. Conversely, 3,000 people holding their ground in the tear-gas and a bunch people throwing rocks from behind a banner almost succeeded in taking a drink at Valls' house.

All the strong moments experienced in the streets since March 9th have implied, at one time or another, that those who are ready to fight and those who are not draw attention to each other, decide to hold together, and not just stand side-by-side in polite and diplomatic indifference. On April 9th at Place de la Nation, there weren't enough tear-gas grenades in all the capital to separate the hundred of people who were bombarding the CRS lines from the hundreds of people who were booing and filming the cops, while cheering or nursing the rioters.

Reflection IV

Little by little, the "question of violence" appears for what it is: a diversion. As long as we continue to talk about this, and moreover to speak about it in moral and ideological terms, we won't confront the true strategical problems posed by the demonstrations. To make the  apology of violence yet again will do nothing. There are plenty of people ready to defend themselves from the police. What's missing is precisely a cortege to defend.

Reflection V

A demonstration is not a symbolical ritual. It is a test of strength, where the population that has reasons to revolt meets, physically, the people who get paid to maintain the world in the deplorable state we now find it in. Every demo is the actualization of the rapport du force between those who are ready to take risks to change the situation, and those whom we pay to preserve it. The problem of official and union demonstrations is that they downplay the existence of such a rapport du force. They give an image of life, of struggle, that disgusts us. Sponsored balloons, sausage-slogans and security squads; if "struggling" means to march like the CGT, than to struggle means: to remain passive, to repeat the same gestures again and again, and to never take risks. That, in addition to being deceptive, is intolerable. One only starts to fight when one ceases to be inoffesive: it may seem  tautological, but the whole of the union forces spend their time affirming the opposite. Their gestures, in the streets, express nothing but submission.

Reflection VI

The police maintain order. Because it is a protest against the order of things, a demonstration is, in its essence, a confrontation with police, no matter what form it takes. Therefore, when night comes, there is a winner and a loser. Either the police win (April 5th), or the demo wins (March 31st). The police win when everything goes as planned by the  prefecture. Demonstrators win when everything doesn't go as planned by the prefecture. Freedom then, is gained when we pull something off in the face of the police. Winning matters. As much for the construction of a rapport du force as for our ties to each other, for our courage. Too many people come to rallies like  tourists, unconscious of the importance of successfully breaking the mold. Those people can be sympathetic clowns dancing in front of the CRS, or rioters who are indifferent to the behavior of the cortege. It doesn't matter: they are inoffesive.

Reflection VII

To ensure that everything happens as expected, the cops set up apparatuses: kettles, closed streets, hordes of undercovers, etc. In demonstrating, the challenge to combat is the police apparatus: we must keep it from working, we must break it down. Not only are there thousands of different apparatuses, but there are thousands of different ways to break apart the same apparatus.

Likewise, there isn't much to say about a demo where the police apparatus hasn't been put into question. That's why the media's approach to demonstrations is to set their sites solely on the outbreaks. These alone mean something. To say that, "confrontations occurred on the fringes of the  cortege," makes about as much sense as saying that, "goals have been scored on the sidelines of the football field".

Reflection VIII

Trashing is the easiest, most obvious way to break a police apparatus. It is also one of the least interesting, and most boring. What most narratives on rioters miss is that the latter would often prefer to do something else: to break police lines to free the cortege, to occupy a building, to start a wild demo, to hold barricades, paint inspired tags, etc. Trashing is often a second-best option. It is the zero degree of the demonstration. As for the classical union rally, family-friendly and good-natured, it isn't even a demonstration: it is a police operation.

It's worth noting that there's rarely been as few windows broken in a social movement as that of the month that just passed. One doesn't trash anything when one confronts the police. One has better things to do.

Reflection IX

If the Nuit Debout's assembly can be in turns entertaining, touching or ridiculous, it won't help us in any way to organize with a revolutionary perspective. This statement is a practical one: one can't discuss such things like one takes a ticket at the butcher shop. The infinite succession of stop-watched and  disconnected speeches all but abolishes the conditions of a constructed conversation. Nobody can say anything intelligent in two minutes. Everybody sees it, but everybody goes along with it. However "democratic" the will of certain organizers or "facilitators" may be, the decision and voting procedures are usually nothing but a farce. What they parody in "formal democracy" is the impotence related to the fact that the decision, in the end, engages nobody. Yet, to keep up the confrontation requires that we make certain decisions – decisions which the general assembly makes de facto impossible. We attend them as we would watch The Voice. To elaborate a revolutionary perspective requires that other modes of speaking, of sharing and of building collective intelligence be deployed at the same time in the square.

Reflection X

Our corteges will start to look like something once everyone shares, not a tolerance of principle towards the actions of others, but a common strategical perception of the situation. That is to say, once we perceive all demonstrations as battles we must win by any means necessary; once we are all inclined, not to violence, but to taking the offensive with speed and surprise. It is by drawing attention to the movements and affects which agitate our demonstrations that we will succeed to find a common ground allowing a true convergence of struggles – its meeting point, Place de la République.

There are thousands of non-violent gestures that then come to mind which would increase many-fold our efficiency in the streets:

– March in masses on sidewalks in order to prevent the lateral movements of the CRS from catching the demo in its claw.
– Raise concerns over the routes of wild demos. Those leading the cortege, in the heat of the action and improvisation, don't always choose the best routes. Help them.
– Get in the habit of hiding our faces at the right time: as much to sabotage the identification and surveillance work systematically and massively conducted by the police as to make indistinguishable demonstrators taking part in confrontation from the others.
– Confrontations tend not to unfold in silence or on mute. Slogans and chanting express the spirit of the movement. Thus, they have their place in all moments of confrontation. When others fight, sing and dance.
– Be mobile and do not allow any holes to form in the cortege when security squads or police attempt to divide it.
– Learn to protect ourselves from tear gas so that it's not just those who are equipped in the clouds.
– Systematically send back tear gas canisters, or at least keep them away from the cortege.
– Stay calm during police charges to avoid brawls. Hold together and don't back off a hundred times farther than where the police line stops so as not to give them free space.

Their morals are not ours.  

Nuit à bout Action Commitee



‘If the Nuit Debout’s assembly can be in turns entertaining, touching or ridiculous, it won’t help us in any way to organize with a revolutionary perspective. This statement is a practical one: one can’t discuss such things like one takes a ticket at the butcher shop. The infinite succession of stop-watched and disconnected speeches all but abolishes the conditions of a constructed conversation. Nobody can say anything intelligent in two minutes. Everybody sees it, but everybody goes along with it. However “democratic” the will of certain organizers or “facilitators” may be, the decision and voting procedures are usually nothing but a farce. What they parody in “formal democracy” is the impotence related to the fact that the decision, in the end, engages nobody. Yet, to keep up the confrontation requires that we make certain decisions – decisions which the general assembly makes de facto impossible. We attend them as we would watch The Voice. To elaborate a revolutionary perspective requires that other modes of speaking, of sharing and of building collective intelligence be deployed at the same time in the square.’

This quotation seems really telling. In short, the argument is that Nuit Debout has been able to maintain the occupations (and, more importantly, the space of possibility) not because of the centralized decision-making process of the general assembly, but rather because of the ungovernable proliferation of micro-relations and micro-decisions taking place throughout the plaza, that do not (and cannot?) pass through a central legitimizing process.

This confirms the argument concluding one of the recent CrimethInc pieces about democracy:

If anyone that is not a troll is reading this--do you think Nuit Debout is the last gasp of Occupy, or the beginning of something else? And if it is the beginning of something else, how do we make sure that when that something else reaches the US, we will (finally?) have gotten the idea of decentralized decision-making into the popular imagination? What others can imagine will likely determine what opportunities we have.

I have to echo the article that the conquest of fear in the collective imagination is an incredibly powerful viral meme. The raucous gatherings that spit venom and hurl projectiles at the pigs without being absolutely crushed afterwards plant thousands of seeds for the new blood experiencing the streets in that way for the first time. This is impossible to measure, like lightning in a bottle but I swear I've seen the waves of momentum generated by it over the years. People are forever coming and going from the uhm ... rowdy street culture, call it whatever you like, but new examples and moments of inspiration are always needed to refresh the collective imagination/momentum.

So the tl:dr goes: gather large groups of people in to an assembly, party, demo, whatever. Help to ferment the circumstances where they experience their collective power together, in opposition to the forces of order and capital. Easier said than done, I realize but not impossible either. Does this make you a vanguardist? Only to a snarky contrarian windbag.

More action and reaction from the Nuit Debout movement:

Strange to publish an anti-anarchist text on a so-called anarchist website.

How is this "anti-anarchist" and also how have you not read like any other post on ANews plenty of which are actually anti-anarchist. Why are they posted here? Because ANews is dumb and will post any article that uses the word anarchisy i guess

Granted, the Tiqqunists have a wide authoritarian streak, and a weird dumb aversion to acknowledging that pretty much everything good about what they are doing is anarchist. This text is still pretty good.

The text is very very good, that's what counts

Most of Eastern Europe is divided into 3 represented factions 1) Neo-Marxists, 2) Conservatives 3) Immigrants ,1) 45% 2)45 3)10% . proportions not existing in the US i.e. 1)10% 2)80% 3)10% so it is absurd to believe in democratic uniformity and any identical purpose for Occupation comparing Europe to the whole of the Americas, globalism does not infect the soul of the plebian horde, especially the French with their Napoleanic Gaulish pride. Their riots are more about putting the final transitional stages to a Post-Marxist future while the US's is putting a new Mall in the local neighborhood and more cash for the end of the week consumer splurge. Different population strokes entirely.

Eastern Europe is Neo-Marxist? What the fuck are you talking about? You are a moron who doesn't even know where France is. Please shut up.

We're talking about a deeply embedded nationalist Neo-Marxist liberal tradition here, but y'all so leftist you can't see anything outside the red perspective, the forest from the trees analogy, you're blind to grand ideological residues embedded in national cultural mindsets. Riots and friction identify resistance in its binary inter-relational conflict stemming from deep-set reflexive responses to economic hardship (the instinctual prison of evolutionary social archetypes). France is across the English channel north of Spain and east of Germany and Italy, all with similar ideological leftist obsessions resonating against the growing capitalist hegemony.

"France is across the English channel north of Spain and east of Germany and Italy,"

I rest my case. You are a fucking moron. If you still don't know what's wrong with this statement you keep repeating, seriously, you need to sign up for a disability check.

That was a typo brief loss of concentration, I meant West of Germany and Italy.

Seriously idiot do you actually think France had an Eastern Bloc communist government? wow.

Anyway, you said "binary," which is the watchword of the trolls in these comments, so there's no point listening to anything you say.

The residual embedded values I'm talking about originate from the nationalist socialist movement, which was the peasant's revolution which led to the storming of the Bastille. Marxism isn't just a Russian phenomena DUH!! It comes in many forms and intensities. Yes, I'm aware Marx came after the French rev, we can trace leftist ideologies going back to the Ranters in 13th century England, English rev in the 17th. Hey moron, read some history and get a holistic scope on the evolutionary nature of social/cultural traditions duh! And some geography, Oakland and Cal aren't the centre of the universe moron!

I am familiar with everything you're referencing, and what's more, I actually know the cardinal directions. You remain a low-grade buffoon who has no right to address us. Slink off to your cave.

Back to the topic, do you think that in the 21 C violence and aggression, as a personal sentiment and methodology, is passé ? Reading your comments I would guess these tantrums play a large part in your inter-relationships

I'd bother arguing with you if I hadn't seen you in action the last time you came around. Sort of weird how you start stinking up the joint whenever shit is kicking off

Well, some error in translation is always a possibility when attempting to explain complex concepts in layman's terminology huh? Hopefully some less critical peasants will understand the gist of my commentary.

Most of the commenters on this page can be divided into 3 represented factions 1) bookfair nihilists 2) anarchists 3) crypto-fascists..guess which one you fall under fuckboi?

None of the 3.
4) Individualist anarch.

Haha! You added a fourth to complete the square: four-square, rechtwinklige, tetragonon. Couldn't resist, apologies all round!

I accept your apology, aloha and thanks for the geometry lesson.

I'd bet that Sir Einzige tosse m0lotov Allday Everyday

Sir Enziet aka male enhancement! =))

He means strugglos/strugglosers as anarchists(better a so called bookfair nihilist then those definitionally insane anarchists) . I'll take 4) to though I don't think you need an individualist hyphen. I'd like to to think an anarch is individualist by definition(as well as having all the configured post leftist/anarchist dispositions). As I imagine it It's really just a thorough Stirnerian continuation of the likes of Armand, Novatore and Martucci as well as Black and Wilson(classic and modern)

Errr! Wrong. Thanks for playing. You are choice 3 as is Gunter and your other wingnut cult coterie acolytes. Crypto-fascist most definitely fits you and your constant need to appeal to right wing. You present arguments that can only be called creepy and disconcerting. If anyone has ever been oppressed, they are plebs. Their only salvation is to bastardize Stirner and Novatore to mean things they never meant them to mean. Scum bucket asshole.

Just throw a molotov cocktail and everything will be fine =)) HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Yall black bloc need to come hang wit da brothas some time. Come check us out:

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