Nuit Debout: Where lies the filthy beast?


The State is a condition, a certain relationship between human beings, a mode of behaviour; we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently toward one another… We are the State and we shall continue to be the State until we have created the institutions that form a real community.

Gustav Landauer

We leave the obituaries of political movements to the powers of the State and social scientists, both eager to clearly trace the beginnings and ends of human events; both obsessed with transparency and rule.

Nuit Debout, in Paris and elsewhere, no longer fills city squares with thousands (and the reasons for this merit analysis).  And yet it has not vanished.  It simmers like a slowly cooking food, sustaining refusal and protest; keeping alive the possibility of future rebellion.

The text below, by Olivier B. and published in (02/08/2016), and which appears here in translation, possesses the virtue of reading what is at stake in the movement (and, we may add, many other movements) in a manner that helps to understand its significance.  If we have any doubts regarding the argument, it has to do with uncertainty surrounding the concept of “heterogeneity” that is here opposed to “homogeneity”, a concept that calls for more clarification.  In other words, that question that all of the contemporary “movements of occupation” pose is that of the nature of the “subject” of dissisdence, of rebellion, and all that follows from this notion.  Who are the anonymous “many” that have taken to the streets since Tahrir in Egypt (or even much earlier)?  And secondly, are we not all in the end Olivier B.’s “beast”?

Power is a malediction

Where lies the filthy beast?

Power is everywhere.  It flows, it insinuates itself, it floods, pollutes.  One may well caulk, but it slides under doors, and under soles, and soaks with its odourless juice even those tissues least susceptible to this contamination: the tissues woven by labour unions, associations, the smallest and apparently inoffensive of human collectives, even openly proclaimed non-authoritarian collectives with a declared horizontal mode of functioning.  Power is this insidious potential that does not speak its name, colonising by definition.  Knowing its contagious germs, it hides them, adorns them, masks with difficulty their intrinsically totalitarian characteristics.  The exercise of power is a dissimulated fascist activity.  The truth is not spoken, it must be sought out and discovered, to scrape the varnish of power so that its true singularity emerges: it is a devourer of freedoms.

State power today, western and modernised, technocratic, technological, oligarchic, however democratic it pretends to be, is in reality a disguised fascism, unspeakable, imperceptible to the less lucid, because unaccompanied by the sound of boots; this soft micro-fascism diffuses its venom in the capillaries of the people so that these last forget their submission and hold themselves ready to give their lives for the desires of the master.  The distillation of the venom is carried through a variety of discourses: the discourses of politicians with their recurrent themes (security, growth, competition, duties, efforts, compensations …); discourses of demagogic publicity (desires, needs, positive addictions, the effects of what one lacks …); media discourse and the discourses of  sworn experts (confirmation of the pertinence of reforms, intoxication, confusions and contradictions …).  The relation of domination becomes the norm in the interior of the collective, which can no longer be defined as such, but is rather a collection of isolated and blind individuals,  with as a dramatic consequence a simplistic anthropology, whose soft, yet destructive dictates lie in such formulas as: Human nature is bad; Humans need leaders … etc.

How does power attain its ends?  The method is elementary: it consciously organises the homogeneity that it calls social harmony.  This was the expertise of Nazi power for whom social homogeneity should have been globalised, one and indivisible, the people as a whole should stretch out their arm as a unique and single massified body, mindless, lifeless, anesthetized.  But our’s is a different epoch: one no longer raises one’s arm to salute the master, one lowers one’s eyes, one pushes one’s shopping cart, one swallows the information spectacle and illiterate entertainment.

By necessity, power here and now divides the mass into a juxtaposition of multiple, impermeable homogeneities  (the argument of plurality), each in its own milieu, its place, its function (haunted by uncontrollable fear invented by the capitalist system of abundance: the fear of going without); power constructs walls, zones, camps.  Detention camps (within which can be found a significant number of psychotics given over to this fate because of the disastrous policies of psychiatric internment in France and the dispiritedness of professionals in the area), private labour camps (given over to the blackmail of the bosses whose powers are only possible due to organised and instrumentalised mass unemployment),  that of civil servants (referred to as the privileged of a system of patronage and therefore despised for that very reason), that of the precarious professional entertainment workers (reduced to counting the hours of each month of their life to assure themselves that they will be able to continue to exercise the labour they love), that of the mad (whom we begin anew to lock up, isolate, drug … practices that demonstrate that one may judge a society by the manner in which they integrate the marginal), that of the suburbs [banlieues] (whom successive incompetents have allowed to rot until they become dismal factories of an abandoned sub-world that no longer produces anything except the desire for vengeance), that of refugees, country and city dwellers … etc.  In this manner, by this method of division of homogenised groups, reduced to their own specific characteristics, unrelated, closed on themselves, judged mutually incompatible, and whose convergence would represent a danger for the shitocracy of tax evaders and their elected lackeys,  by this patchwork-isation of society where each patch is surrounded by impassible walls, power creates the sentiment of powerlessness, sadness, fatality and inertia.  Then suspicion, then hatred.  Nothing but benefits for an eternity, so they believe.

Except that, with the Nuits Debout, strikes, unsanctioned actions and demonstrations, occupations and blockages, something vacillates in this society composed of impermeable homogeneities, in this zoned territory, crisscrossed by walls.  The heterogeneous collective reappears.  It is a sufficiently unexpected event whose revolutionary significance is not to be neglected.  Because power which has methodically separated beings according to their function, their age, their sex, their milieu, their tastes, their thoughts, their geographical locations, their languages … to corral them into artificial, arbitrary zones, by expunging from the vocabulary all words that have any more or less close proximity with the word solidarity (mutual aid, listening, empathy, care, support, barter, sharing …) with the aim of ushering in a military, communicational, advertising and consumerist lexical field (success, victory, merit, strategy, and me-free entrepreneur, and me-free to choose …), this power seems to have left out that there is a society, contrary to the delirious claims of the capitalo-fascist Thatcher.  Yes, there is a society, whether we wish it or not; it is the unalterable law of our humanity.  Thus, there are collectives: large, small, regional, national, continental … and a planetary collective.  Some of these collectives, these days, have an annoying tendency to mix, to recover an original heterogeneity open to all métissages, all blending.  They intersect, they speak, they share anger and joy, they idealise after the manner of utopias, they rebel, invent, modify, propose, expose, render poetical, and they do not allow themselves to be duped.

From the Place de la République and other squares of the country seems to emerge a people freeing itself from a lethargy maintained by power for far too long.  The collective of collectives discovers itself there, befuddled like after years of silence and self-isolation, almost in convalescence and paradoxically very active; the Place de la République, like that of a hospital from which one waits to be released, without knowing why one had been interned.  Tongues thus lose their torpor, lungs fill themselves, ears unblock themselves, contact is re-made with the aesthetic, for etymologically one leaves an-esthesia (the absence of sensibility).  And thus the time of healing arrives, and of festivity; the cup is full, it must be emptied!

The homogeneous collective does not exist.  It is stupidity to want to create it, the delirium of a dictator, the phantasm of the paranoid, for it is a regime for the sick.  It can only take hold of subjects by the repressive action of the system, the chief, the kapo, executing the orders of power.  But to pretend to homogenise a collective is the first step of the barbarian towards her/his crime against humanity.  Behind homogenisation floats the frightening shadow of the stripped pajama.

Only the heterogeneous collective exists.

Because, shit! What does it mean finally, this mystery of being there, living, together, on a planet perched in a cosmos without beginning or end, together and different in an eternity, an incommensurable time, billions of beings for billions of years, we, here, since the amoeba, moving our fins, from one end of the earth to the other and multiplying?  What does it signify in terms of creation, for example, languages, works, journeys, tools, dances and songs, small graffiti on walls!?  And, suddenly, a fiddling, contemptible minority of madmen/women (on the geological scale: the equivalent of an aphid’s shit) want to homogenise all of this, to make well wrapped packages of everything, packages of poor blacks, packages of poor whites, packages of slaves, packages of women and men, in a globalised market, with the advantages of a price set at 19.90 Euros and unlimited SMS? No, this doesn’t work this way.

The heterogeneous collective is by definition creative.  It is pointless to designate leaders for it, from within; it does very well by itself to create.  It is in the heterogeneous relation between subjects that constitute it, that the collective becomes inventive.  There where complicity reigns, the world may be constructed.  Among the separately familiar, fascism is not far.

Power understands perfectly what is at stake in the demonstrations and rebellions of this 2016 spring.  If heterogeneity gains ground, spreads like wildfire, if it expands until becoming potentially the carrier of alternatives, it will become an enemy difficult to shoot dead.  It is necessary to proceed to a precocious abortion, to deploy immediately all of the repressive force of a threatened State to bar the hybrid [métissée] liberating machine, to stop at whatever cost the collapse of borders, re-homogenise this joyous turmoil: the rioters [casseurs] here, labour unionists there,  the nuitsdeboutistes elsewhere.  Above all, give no chance to the return of the vocabulary of gathering together: no to the solidarity of ensembles.  To divide, brace up the eroded walls, fill in the nibbled at frontiers, prohibit connections of thoughts.  Return to the fold immediately, and no incivilities, please.

However, it would seem that heterogeneity, that renders power desperate, is more resistant than expected.  Young people and old, intellectuals and proletarians, the unemployed and workers … what is this mess?  The danger persists.  Then the heavy artillery comes out, one extends a helping hand, one hits hard, one mutilates, one arrests, one poisons, one judges, one condemns, and it matters little if the mask falls away to reveal the enraged snout of the vile beast, all means are good to break the hope.  One has the military and police forces, the strategy of infiltration and provocation, one orders the media to shut up or to read a concocted text, one knows how to corrupt grain by mixing into it imported chaff, how to poison a stream to poison a river.

The fascistoid action of power does not show what power becomes in adversity, but what it is in permanence.  The act of voting therefore will be a form of collaboration with the enemy.

When there will no longer be more than 2% voters, the debate will be able to begin, the power of the people will express itself in the boundless silence of abstention and the questions will be posed.  Perhaps we are in the midst of living this, because the debate is alive, the questions are posed.

Olivier B.

90th of March 0001

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