This April 9th, the expulsion of the ZAD of Notre-Dame-des-Landes began. If the proposed airport for the region was struck down, the french government has repeatedly announced that it will not accept the “illegal” occupation of the land by squatters.
Some 2,500 military police, with heavy equipment and demolition vehicles were mobilised for the occasion, for an estimated 250 people occupying some 40 structures.
If the forces of the State seem excessive, the language of the government leaves no room for doubt as to the motives.
The target, according to the police are the more radical elements of the ZAD. (Le monde 09/04/2018) The prime minister, Edouard Philippe has not tired in repeating that it is a matter of reinstating the rule of law and that all of those whose presence in the Landes is not inscribed in a legal framework must quickly leave the territory. (Parisien 07/04/2018) “I hope that during the day everything will be fine and that in a few weeks order will return to Notre-Dame-des-Landes,” said Gérard Collomb, minister of the interieur. “The law had to be reinstated,” said the interior minister, who nevertheless reminded the police of the need to act with “restraint” and “ethics”. (Le monde 09/04/2018)
Between the lines, it does not take a great deal to see what is in fact at stake. The so called “radicals” are not only those people, all of the people, who have resisted successfully the construction of an airport (in a fifty year struggle), and thus the saving of a way of life and its associated environment, but they are as well those who have experimented with autonomous forms of life, and it is this that must be destroyed and erased.
The law, and the creation of the leveled space of “normality” in which the law can function, revels itself as thereby grounded in the “exception” of violence, which is in fact itself the norm.
The ZAD of Notre-Dame-des-Landes resonated across france, and beyond. And whatever its fate today, it stands as an example of what a radical anti-capitalism can be.