Creating through resistance: The ZAD in Notre-Dame-des-Landes

Since the winter of 2012-2013, the Notre-Dame-des Landes resistance/okupation against the french government’s plan to build an airport in the midst of agricultural and forest lands has met with ongoing opposition.  We chronicle here some of that continuing creativity, since we last celebrated the ZAD – Zone à Défendre.

From the ZAD …

In the grove, and elsewhere, resistance and sabotage

(25/02/2014)

The 16th of October 2012, first day of “Operation César”, a failed attempt to evict us from the zone, the prefect of Loire-Atlantique, Christian de Lavernée declared to mainstream media: “If the state can’t take back the zone, then we should be worried for the state”. The state should be very worried and should die by its cause! One year and a half later, we are still here. Our rage and determination stay intact because of this so called democracy, totally dedicated to the cause and interest of large corporations and the financial system, will never represent us. It is contrary to what we uphold; complete emancipation from the capitalistic claws within which the government tries to imprison us. Self-Organizers, we renounce this deadly system, repudiate and fight for our common dream of freedom, our aspiration to autonomy is the antithesis.

The ZAD is an amazing laboratory for social experimentation, the diversity of our opinions and our desire for communal emancipation reflects in our daily lives. We move forward, united, with all our differences, and that is where we find our strength and wealth. The fact that we voluntarily exclude ourselves from capitalism, and live without it, allows us to confront our ideas without any obstacles. This way we can break the established order that isolates and destroys all resistance against its ever more dominating tendencies.

We don’t believe in elections and we confirm loud and clear that it is possible to change the world that they want to impose upon us by force while they lead us to believe that we have liberty. The government’s propaganda tries to hold up a vision which they claim to be the only one possible. Representative democracy is only a circus under the boot of industrial lobbyists. We can manage our own lives. We believe in consensus, in living together and not in a majority micromanaged by the system and placed in opposition to the minority so nothing would change. That’s the reason why we build our lives far away from the election box. We wish to break an established order that wants everyone to be individualized, easily fooled by a smile, confronted by an ultraliberal machine. To vote is to choose a master, to wear a leash.

Geo-engineering is engineering lives. The gentrification, concrete all over the place, this desocialisation at a forced pace in cities and up to the edges of the countrysides ripping away their history and lives to take from them their lands, their streets, their neighbourhoods, their villages; it is surveyed, segmented, controlled, closed, operated, exploited — to make each inch profitable. This way, the experts, unions of capitalism who serve the soup to VINCI, want to streamline the ecosystems, dominate the living, forge it into the image of the capital, give it a market value and exploit the richness nature has offered us since the dawn of time. But their green layer is superficial, it doesn’t fool the people of the ZAD. Behind their environmental rhetoric they expand the privatisation of all living things. The transatlantic market that they want to impose on us goes in that direction. Precariousness, GMOs, nuclear and shale gas for all.

Their management logics are not ours. Our homes are not compensable, we squatters are not species you can displace, nor are the plants and animals that share these living spaces! Don’t try to put our lives into little boxes with labels while we want to reappropriate them. They are not for sale. In spite of harassments by lawyers and law enforcements we will not let them imprison us between four walls to adopt the mercantile behaviour that they want to impose on us.

Despite millions of euros having been wasted by the government, which appear to come from a bottomless pit and tons of money spent for police forces, the works haven’t started yet. At the slightest attempt to start the construction works, these have been systematically sabotaged. The “expertise” provided by Biotope, unworthy representatives of capitalist greenwashing, dismantled point by point. Environmentalists in the movement have shown the absurdity of the project. Talks about compensation for what can’t be replaced or moved is plainly & simply schizophrenic, but not surprising from an insane system that is entirely focused on the god of profit.

The growing occupations of the land dedicated for destruction intensifies and brings us together to make it more and more impossible for them to start the constructions. And let it be said, in case of an attack or if constructions start, a blockade of the region is being organized. Moments of collective local resistance are also in preparation. On the 2th of March an action in form of a walk and on the 16th a velorution (bicycle parade) will take place. All the details of these two events can be found on the website zad.nadir.org.

At the end, the French state, AGO/VINCI and their kind of collaborating enterprises are in deep trouble. Their wetland eradication project is more than ever inaudible while entire communities in Brittany and elsewhere were infested by these waters in this same month. Our cause is simple; the hedges, the trees, the land, the forests, the farmlands are disappearing for the profit by concrete and the capitalistic action on climate change that only intensifies the phenomenon. Whatever may come out of it, we will not move from here. We are not only occupying the zone, we live in it. Our solidarity is our strength, it will definitely bury this project of AyraultPort*. Tomorrow, with all the relationships we created we raise many more possibilities!

Vinci FUCK-OFF, resistance and sabotage!

Zadist, le 22 february 2014

* Jean Marc Ayrault, prime minister and ex-mayor of Nantes, wants to see his baby born.

 

Something of the laboratory of revolution can be seen in the explosion of militant architecture that has flourished throughout the free zone …

 

ZAD, France: This is not a camp

(27/01/2014)

Concerning the “camp”, at the moment there are more than 50 places of collective self-built homes. Small villages, houses, farms and other buildings were saved from destruction, renovated and occupied. It is true that some of us are staying in caravans or other mobile homes, however, a large number of self-built homes in our area are remarkably creative works of art and crafts. Because of the circumstances, for the building of these homes, a great variety of techniques and building materials were used and most of them for free such as: earth straw, mud, beams and pallets, tires, glass, stones… Some homes are based on land, others on stilts, others are nesting in the trees and others floating on water.

Our homes are definitely more joyful and friendly than the residential buildings in a row, the Eco low-rent houses and other grey buildings! Around these homes, ZAD has twenty new agricultural and horticultural projects and collective spaces for radio, festivals, canteens, bread bakeries, milk creation, sewing, reading, health care, bicycle or car repair. The old inhabitants made the choice to resist [T/N: State’s] expropriation and eviction threats and decided to live with the occupation movement. Today we are all “inhabitants who resist”.

No, we are not camping. We are creating, cultivating and inventing new forms of emancipation, despite the constant threat imposed by those wanting to see us disappear. We plan on living here forever and be an obstacle to the police presence and the work undertaken by Vinci. Several of us intend to keep on staying here after the airport’s plans are dropped and none of us even thinks of leaving without fighting. We are not fragile pegs nailed in moist soil but hard ropes, strongly braided that no specific development policy [T/N: the State calls ZADs specific development areas, they are areas that, according to the State, must suffer “development”] directed by the logic of market and profit can untangle.

P.S: We are not the only ones that have the power to “camp”, especially when we are referring to evictions and destructions of our houses, whether they are precarious or well rooted. We want to express our solidarity with other “campers” and unwanted people they want to erase from the map: nomads, Roma, homeless or undocumented.

 

For an excellent documentary on the Notre-Dame-des-Landes okupation, from Rennes TV (in french), see …

To follow events in the ZAD, click here.

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