The gilets jaunes: Fragments of interpretation

The yellow vests: February 9th, Act XIII …

We continue to share fragments of reflections, of a movement, or movements, in motion.

The yellow vests insurrection(s) is a picture of our future today: the only ethical response possible to permanent crises is permanent rebellion; the only radical politics imaginable is that forged in uprisings.

We begin with excerpts from a lundi matin (#178, 11/02/2019) interview (the second) with the sociologist Michalis Lianos. Excerpts of a second article, from Temps critiques, and a third by Koubilichi, both also published in the same number of lundi matin, also follow.

An experiential politics (II) – The yellow vests as a “people” thinking

… the yellow vests movement is transforming itself on two grounds: a deep awareness of the situation and solidarity as an answer to this situation.

It is not just about reflexivity, that is, the ability to reflect on the condition that we are part of and our role in that condition. What I see is the emergence of a very dense representation that is beginning to organise itself as a social and political philosophy. The starting point is an immense frustration regarding the response of established powers and the institutions that express them. You may remember that the first demonstrations were family events, gangs of friends, neighbors, colleagues. People came with their children in a stroller thinking that they would make the “elites” understand the need to act urgently. It was to show that they were part of the soul of this country, the “people” who would communicate with its leaders. Admittedly, there was anger at having come to the point that forced this event, but there was also the enthusiasm to see oneself as the protagonist on the civic scene and the certainty that they would make ourselves understood.

Now, what do we discover from Saturday to Saturday? That “the country” is not what we thought. This is not only the country of the tensions on the roundabouts and blocked supermarkets. At another level, it is someone else’s country – we do not know who exactly – someone who does not hesitate to line up in front of you riot walls, armored vehicles, weapons, tear gas . To you who have spent a significant part of your monthly income to come to the Champs Elysees and commune with the nation of citizens, as you feel it through what you have been taught at school and let it be presented to you in solemn speeches. And there, on the Champs Elysées, the most symbolic path of the country, you are treated as an enemy of this specific thing that you have come to claim and which nourishes your enthusiasm, your frustration and your hope: the Republic.

The disappointment is immense. You understand quite quickly that this is not a misunderstanding. I have heard it several times – both from the left and the right – from mid-December: “I will not go to Paris to have myself gassed like a criminal. It’s shameful!”, ” I come here for the good of my country, for the young; and all I find is the baton.”

This explains the change in the composition of the protesters over time. There are no more children, far fewer women, the retreat of the non-urban back into their original space. The percolation effect of these experiences through online networks and direct contacts on roundabouts was rapid and profound. Another perception of French society begins to emerge gradually in among the yellow vests.

What are the characteristics of this new perception? How does it change their own position in the political landscape?

First, the trust they had in their connection to the national civic community is broken. But their analysis is not that everyone is against them. They see that the majority of the population – that is, other classes other then their own – support them. Therefore, they feel that this bond is broken because it is ‘betrayed’ by the ‘elites’. This term will designate from this stage on all those who have the power to act as intermediaries between the different parts of the French society, because they are powerful or institutional actors, often both. The perception is then that the game is fixed, from the very moment the cards are dealt. Except for some inevitable elements of conspiracy here and there, this leads to the realization that the impasse in which they find themselves is not due to a cyclical coincidence but to a ‘real’ tendency. They express this by saying that “they want to make us nothing at all, they no longer want a middle class; we must be poor and to obey everything”. When asked who they are, the answer is complex: “the financial powers that hold the government in each country; if we replace Macron with another, it will not change anything. The new will be forced to do as the old “.

Let us not forget that for a large part of them, whether they voted for Emmanuel Macron or not, LREM [La République En Marche!] represented a hope for change simply by claiming a non-professional politics. Now, they are beginning to think that if it can not make any difference, that power lies elsewhere. They call this obscure dimension the “system”, “globalization”, “finance”, “Europe”, “money” … according to their affinities and political cultures. But they speak clearly – and in a very precise and skillful manner – of the architecture of the socio-political system which in fact limits any substantial changes. They thus conclude that this dimension, that channels and frames possible changes, outweighs the will of the “people” because it always leads to compromises that perpetuate it.

It is at this point that the connection is made with a specific power to which they did not attach great importance before: who asks the questions? And then: who makes them relevant or important? Here you see the fundamental questioning of the political process as a whole and, secondly, the questioning of the role of the media in this process. In their discussions, they then discover that any kind of question can be asked and must be examined. I give you my most extreme example in a group of yellow vests unknown to each other at the edge of the Étoile Square [Paris]: a man who seems absolutely sane, very eloquent and friendly, explains that it is natural that a species changes its environment and that it is only in this context that we must consider political ecology. In any case, he says, we have already engaged our future for thousands of years. If the earth can no longer welcome us in the future, it will be necessary to prepare to inhabit other planets. The embarrassment is total in the group. Someone illuminated? A provocateur? Someone then asks him spontaneously the question: “What do you do in life? – I work in the treatment of nuclear waste”. Given his words, the man, in addition to having a higher education, is probably an engineer. The group is thus lead to the idea that this is a an absolutely “wild” question, but which could finally in some aspects constitute a legitimate political question.

The interaction within the movement cultivates the feeling that the frame of the questioning of politics is neither so certain nor so justified as one believed it to be. This does not mean that the yellow vests are not in their majority convinced pragmatists, who are focused on ordinary life. On the contrary, it means that they are compelled by the process that they themselves have embarked upon to realise that this pragmatism will not succeed if it is already framed by the questions posed by the powers in place, by the intelligent interrogations of “those who know how to do things”. We realize in short that when we know how to do something, it is impossible to return to the position where we do not know how to do it, in order then to interrogate it completely.

It is in this deepening process that the taste for direct democracy – in the form of the RIC [référendum d’initiative citoyenne] and constitutional reform – is cultivated as well as the mistrust for the “grand debate” organized by the government. What the upper social strata do not understand about this mistrust is its complexity. It is not a rejection of specific positions of the government and established political actors, more generally. It is the rejection of a process that is known to be convincing, because it is objectively, once the markers of the questioning are posed. The yellow jackets do not doubt for a second the intelligence of the leaders. What they doubt is that this intelligence is put to use as much as is necessary for the benefit of the “people”. Their demand no longer reveals a technical reasoning of problem solving, but rather raises the political principle of identifying problems.

Like any deep political questioning, it puts the questioned before a practical horizon that is completely inverted. What to do with what we understood? Without wishing to offend the fans of violence, both fascist and insurrectional, the yellow vests are mostly not there to practice subversion and even less social war. They are in favor of a permanent, predictable and relatively just order. But they understood that there is not much to expected from the established order either. So we come to the second foundation of their action: solidarity. Since it runs counter to the analyses that we are accustomed to doing, we are not sufficiently aware of the scarcity of the major political phenomenon that we are witnessing. The yellow vests manage to be in solidary, in disagreement. It is not without emotional intuition that some see the movement as “their family”. Through a neural architecture whose model is of course the internet, they feel that the end of their diversity will sound the death knell of their legitimacy, because they will turn into a political ‘current’ like the others, with its own mechanisms and own truths; convincing but closed, thus subject to the same pressures they consider unhealthy. Entering the corridors and debates of power can not be done without limiting their horizon. But now they are aware that their contribution to France and to Europe is precisely this alternative possibility of openness.

While it is extremely difficult to find a path that avoids a “return to normal”, it is not impossible to save time by supporting each other to maintain the opening. The “Assembly of Assemblies” in Commercy expresses precisely this affirmation of solidarity. Through its transparent transmission – managed without external media – and its reservation with regard to the possibilities of political representation, it maintains the balance between a broad platform of political demands and a practice that respects the principles that the movement now advocates. We must ask how many political spaces – activists or intellectuals – can take pride in such a balance.

You insist a lot on the government and the media that you seem to understand as a rather homogeneous space in the world of the yellow vests. To what extent is this true and why does this homogenisation exist?

In the symbolic universe of the yellow vests there are, of course, considerable distinctions and nuances. This does not prevent convergence towards a rather unified vision of the major influences on society. I am talking about experiential politics. Consider the following situation: you are alone in not getting by, despite your efforts. You are ashamed of not being able to do what you think is the minimum for your children and sometimes for your retired parents as well. You live this as a personal failure, an individual inadequacy. Your image of what it means ‘to be normal’ is built from what ‘passes on TV’, the representations of fiction, the debates, the speeches of the men and women of influence appearing on the news. Then, for a reason that is related to the price of fuel, you start talking to others who are affected by a topic so important to you, so commonplace for ‘normal’ people that you did not assume to be trouble. You exchange ideas on the internet, you meet people, and you discover that it’s been a long time – a very long time – that you’re not alone, in your situation. The whole country is traversed by your difficulties, your uncertainties, your anxieties. So, all of you ask yourselves the question: how is it that you did not know this situation, that your innumerable hours of exposure to the content of politics and the media did not reveal to you this situation, which is a very widespread experience ? “We started talking to each other, we no longer felt ashamed,” say my respondents. Sometimes it feels like a social #MeToo, through which the yellow vests have linked individual experiential pieces so as to form a general socio-political picture.

It follows naturally that the collective contemplation of this image provokes a violent rejection of the politico-media narrative to which they previously adhered. Here, we must understand another fine point. Groups that consider themselves intellectual and in the know, would also feel guilty for not being able to understand the truth, for not looking for other more critical sources of information, and so on. But for the yellow vests, what prevails is trust. It must be repeated, they are not demanding – at least up until now – a collapse of the social order. What they want is to be respected by the leaders. So when these latter do not tell you what you think is the most serious problem facing the country and that rather you are what is at the heart of this problem, then it is they who are trying to abuse you. There can be no more indulgent explanations.

The last stage of the rupture is the confirmation of these conclusions in the representation of the movement by the political powers and by several media. The yellow vests were for the first time aware of the struggles around political communication that occur every day. They were shocked by their own representation in the media and by the fact that both the government and the media they used to watch or listen to refused to portray them as “people” who legitimately protest and peacefully for the benefit of all. This painful realisation amplifies their mistrust and hostility by joining the political and the media in one unreliable symbolic ensemble, to put it diplomatically.

The forceful challenge of the yellow vests is the full the political reorganization of post-industrial societies. The fact that they do not express it in this way does not make it less important. One could indeed say the opposite: since this issue emerges as an experience and not as a discourse, it really exists as a reality rather than as an intellectual projection.

The unacknowledged goal of the established political class is naturally to contain this interrogation before it appears legitimate in an enlarged society. It is for this reason, for example, that from the day before yesterday (Saturday, 9 February), a new discursive assault is launched under the term “anti-parliamentaryism”. From the moment when the accusation of being far-right and far-left failed to erode support for the movement, a new concept appears to trap all of the yellow vests into a ‘dirty’ category.

The symbolic struggle is strong. There are also some among the media and the political world who are ironical about their misspelled slogans, without understanding the crucial importance of this act: daring to publish its vision even if one is aware that one makes mistakes. To claim the right to exist as a mediocre, simple, normal being apart from any “excellence”.

All of this increases the likelihood that the movement will be contained by a spontaneous and implicit alliance of all the forces that fear significant sociopolitical change. If things go this way, the result will seem perfectly acceptable to the winners but it will probably be a disaster for France and for Europe. The only way that will remain open will be the electoral path where those who outdo each other in fear or in identity claims will reap the benefits of the stalemate. This will be an unfortunate outcome for all, except for the political parties that will escape the revelation of their growing uselessness in the affirmation of a citizenship claiming direct access to power.


The envy of the French Revolution of the Yellow Vests

Temps Critiques (07/02/2019)/ lundi matin (11/02/2019)

From the first occupations of roundabouts, highway tolls, commercial areas, during street and square demonstrations, the emblems of the French Revolution are present and openly expressed by the Yyellow vests. Tricolor flags, Phrygian caps, guillotines and the singing of the Marseillaise set the tone and punctuate the various forms of struggle. In meetings and on social networks circulate strategic slogans and modes of political action which, for the majority, make reference to the strong moments of the French Revolution: registers of grievances, destitution (1) of the president-monarch, citizens’ assemblies, the abolition of intermediary bodies, direct democracy, the end of fiscal injustice, the control of elected officials and the reduction of their remunerations, the call to form a constituent power, the union of patriots for the defense of the nation, etc.

This reference has been repeatedly noted, described and commented. But more often than not, it has been so as a symbolic reference rather than real; a sort of nostalgia; at best, as a political impulse given to the struggle. However, two decisive questions arise in the relationship of the yellow vests to the French Revolution and they have rarely been considered:

1 – Beyond the historical specificities of the French Revolution, what value is claimed as common to these two moments? We posit that it is the value of universality which is at the heart of these two moments; an aspiration towards the universality of the human community.

2 – The second question is raised even more rarely about this desire for the French Revolution, on the part of yellow vests. Why is the French Revolution the only reference to past revolutions? Why are the workers’, proletarian, “communist” revolutions of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries almost impossible references for the movement of yellow vests?T

The universality of the commune of “cabins/huts”*

If we consider the first three months of the existence of the yellow vests’ movement, the moment when the dimension of universality of the human community manifested itself with the greatest intensity was that of the occupations of the roundabouts . Although less explicit, this aspiration has also been expressed in the control of highway tolls and in interventions at supermarkets.

That the initiative of the struggle at the roundabouts has been coordinated on social networks does not deprive the yellow vests’ movement of this human solidarity that is its strength. In the limited but strategic space of the roundabouts, in this community lived in the rudimentary “huts” built there, there has powerfully risen up the freedom of citizens’ words, words always ignored, often despised, and determined action to make it heard.

With their vests donned, both women and men organised themselves to block or filter road traffic and, in doing so, they shared the conditions of their precarious lives, unjustly taxed, invisible to state power and its networks.

In the exchanges on the difficulty of daily life, but also on the possibilities of another society and another life; in the shared meals; in the reception of passers by in solidarity or the defense against hostile motorists, a universal aspiration to the human community has been affirmed. Nothing but this aspiration to a “Republic of the human race” proclaimed by Anacharsis Cloots, Prussian atheist self-described as “orator of the human race”, made honorary citizen by the Girondin revolutionaries in 1792, then sent to the guillotine in 1794 by Jacobin theist Robespierre, who earlier had excluded him from the Convention as an “foreigner to the nation”.

The impasses of assemblies and parliamentarianism

With the spreading yellow vests’ movement, collective decision-making with regards to the organisation of the struggle quickly becomes a crucial imperative, a political necessity that is not without generating internal tensions. How to discuss the continuation of the struggle? How to coordinate the various proposals? By which means of communication: social networks, local assemblies, development of “yellow media”?

During the French Revolution, the deliberations in the Constituent Assembly and then of the Convention, were controlled by the bourgeois, regardless of whether they were Girondin or Jacobin Republicans. In the clubs and local sections, the control of political speech was in the hands of the revolutionary class, the one that completed its triumph against royalty: the bourgeoisie.

Thus the Enragés and the Hébertists were excluded from the deliberations by the terrible repression led by the despotism of the Jacobins. The republican model of political deliberation was framed, limited, guided by the victors of the exercise of State power.

The use of deliberation as a means of regulating social antagonisms worked only for the benefit of the political and economic interests of the triumphant bourgeoisie. The institution of deliberation in sections, clubs and parties, as in the assemblies, was only contested by movements outside the established republican order: the popular riots against the free price of flour, against the taxation of essential goods, against the the Chapelier law, which forbade any association of the workers; an order also challenged by the insurrections of the Fédérés, the uprising of the Vendéens, the revolt of the “revolutionary women” (2) and the sans-culottes, etc.

The practice of the yellow vests in collective decision-making clearly departs from the assemblyist and parliamentarian model. It has more in common with movements that have opposed the ruling power of the bourgeoisie. Rather than the compromise of “direct democracy”, it is “direct action” that could be the most appropriate term for qualifying this orientation.

Through social networks as well as through assemblies (two modes of non-contradictory political organization), the yellow vests movement managed to guide its action with a certain unity. Despite the focus on individuals called yellow vests by the media and the ministry of the Interior, the movement drew its strength from the most original of its slogans: no representatives, no delegates, no spokespersons. A simple unifying recognition: yellow.

The immediate consciousness of an in-common to come is the main path taken by the collective speech of the yellow vests; a generic consciousness turned offensive speech and loaded with human potentialities.

A one and only revolutionary reference: the French Revolution

We have observed that the yellow vests’ movement is not a struggle linked to work, to the sphere of work, and therefore no more to that of the old class struggle.(3) It situates itself in the universe of a way of life, in purchasing power, in the daily fight for survival. Its social composition has been commented at length (and by many people deplored!): artisans, trades people, service and health professionals, trades tied to transportion and the economic circulation, intermittent employees of the private sector, precarious employees, farmers, retirees, etc.

“Guaranteed employees” of the private sector and their unions, public service executives, teachers, intellectuals, artists and researchers, executives of big cities, the media, politicians and union officials, middle managers, etc. have from the beginning of the movement expressed strong reservations and often repulsion towards yellow vests.

In the present economic, social, political and historical conditions, it was and still is impossible for the yellow vests to be in continuity with the historical labor movement. Why? First, because of its historical failures: defeated by the Stalinist and National-Socialist despotisms, rallied to various nationalisms, integrated into social-democratic stateism, consenting to liberalisms.

Secondly, and above all, because the dynamics of capital have rendered the labor force in its valorisation process inessential, and more generally has encompassed all the relations of production in the global processes of power. With the economic decompositions/recompositions partly caused by the failures of the movements opposed to the existing order at the end of the 1960s, it is today the reproduction of all social relations that constitutes the central political concern. For thirty years, we have analyzed (4) these historical upheavals, which also have an anthropological dimension.

Spontaneously, the reference to the French Revolution constituted for the Yellow Vests the only historical reference, because only it carries the collective memory of a social and political upheaval with which they can identify.

This identification is not only symbolic since we can highlight some analogies between these two political moments: anti-tax revolt, hate of power from above and anger against its main figures; the need for social justice and real equality; demonstrations in the neighborhoods and places of power, etc. But the game of analogies soon turns out to be rather futile because the historic cycle of domination of the bourgeois class and its values, which forcefully began with the French Revolution, ended with the worldwide failure of the last proletarian assaults of the late sixties of the 20th century.

The cycle of revolutions that has crossed modernity is exhausted. We are in another era, that of capitalized society;(6) a time, certainly, that remains historical; an era in which many men seek ways out of the dark circle of capitalisation of their activities and the planetary devastation of nature.


*”cabanes”: This is a reference to the provisional shelters built by the yellow vests on the occupied roundabouts.

  1. The slogan “Macron resign” is to be understood as “Macron destitution”, more than “Macron, go away, you failed”. Destitution, that is to say, affirmation of a potentially constituent power, challenge to the arrogance of parliament, abolition of the supreme representation constituted by the election of a President of the Republic. In this, the yellow vests’ movement touches the foundations of the state-republican order, which according to them is illegitimate because it is in the hands of the world financial powers and major world groups like the GAFA [the internet giants].
  2. Actress Claire Lacombe, co-founder of the Revolutionary Republican Society, led a battalion of Fédérés to attack the Tuileries. In 1794, close to the Enragés, she is imprisoned by order of the Committee of Public Safety for disorder in a meeting.
  3. Marxist sects did not fail to scream “interclassism”, the absolute evil in their antiquarian eyes. We have already analyzed how this notion is of no political significance to understand the yellow vests movement. See: Temps critiques, supplement to number 19, Dec. 2018.
  4. See the Temps Critiques site, where all the writings of the journal are available.
  5. Jacques Guigou and Jacques Wajnsztejn (ed.), La société capitalisée. Anthologie IV de Temps critiques, Paris, L’Harmattan, 2014.


For a mythopoetics of the riot

Koubilichi (lundi matin, 11/02/2019)

Like bricolage, mythic thinking can, intellectually, produce brilliant and unexpected results. Conversely, we have often noted the mythopoetic nature of bricolage.

The verb bricoler [evokes] an incident of movement: that of the bouncing ball, the dog that wanders, the horse that deviates from the straight line to avoid an obstacle.

Claude Lévi-Strauss, La pensée sauvage, 1962

The poetics of bricolage

In the fictional mode:

And if one supposed, just to see where it leads us, that bricolage made from street furniture during riots, the inventiveness that it then shows, touched, from near or far, both at the same time political action and artistic creation?

Indeed, whether it is art “naive” or “raw” art, “performances” made in the urgency to escape ensuing arrests and police brutality, there is in this phenomenon of a city delivered to the spontaneity of the people, something fascinating. Moreover, even those who disapprove of such acts are attracted in spite of themselves, fascinated as they are by the song of the Sirens. There is something beautiful and irresistible in this art of rioting.

However, what is fascinating is off-camera, it is played off the field of emancipatory violence brought to the fore by the media subservient to the orders of the current power. It is true that the eye is invariably attracted by those who work in the recesses, in the background, in the margins. They swarm, harvest, stack, nest, structure, experiment with arrangements. Street furniture, construction equipment and the various equipment that punctuate our streets are diverted from their original function. They are essentially transgressed: what they were designed and placed in that particular place for is sacrificed by the “performance” of the rioter. The real as a security device and its state rationality is sacrificed: the crafted object loses its original meaning predetermined by the dominant power, its use is happily perverted.

A trash bin with handles is used as a mobile barricade, construction materials are stacked: ephemeral sculpture that is then transformed into a collective percussion instrument, etc.

Every object encountered during the rambling in question becomes multiple, multifunctional, it is no longer assigned to its primary function and alters, differs, it opens as a “right to follow”, as if the sensible qualities through which it appears allow possible properties of use to be envisaged that are still unexploited. Like the bricoleur, the do-it-yourselfer, who collects disparate objects under the pretext that “it can always be useful”, one observes hesitant demonstrators, carrying different elements of which they themselves do not yet seem to know the use.

The rambling is an exploration of the city and its elements with a new look. The city then appears differently, as if seen for the first time. We then understand that it was masked by its very function, hidden by the devices of power, whereas now everything is to be reinvented because it is literally un-covered. The veil of power that covered it goes up in smoke. While it was only injunction, sign, brutality, a breach in our lives, it is now stripped, unveiled. It offers itself then, insignificant, to those to whom it belongs now and who will invent a new meaning for a few hours, in the urgency, the noise and the fury.

The politics of bricolage

Mythical reflection appears as an intellectual form of bricolage.

Claude-Lévi Strauss, La pensée sauvage, 1962

The “performance” of the rioter is to start a dialogue with street furniture. Herein lies the poetry of street bricolage. According to Lévi-Strauss again, the bricoleur “speaks, not only with things, but also through things: telling, through the choices s/he makes between limited possibilities, of the character and life of its author.” He who was silenced in the heart of the order that suffocates him, finds the possibility, the creative power, to give meaning to things and her/his life during some intense minutes. S/he may feel the vertigo of the possible, she/his invincible freedom.

Nevertheless, s/he undergoes a double essential limitation:

The objects are pre-constrained: they are predetermined by the original use for which they were designed.

The time allotted before the police intervention.

This double limit may contain necessary determinisms necessary for the exercise of the freedom of the street bricoleur. Her/his pleasure comes precisely from this notion of “doing with”, of abandoning oneself to an adventurous exploration, giving free rein to the various ramblings that will give rise to encounters and spontaneous dialogues. It is then necessary to start this dialogue and, in a way, to “make the city talk”.

No prior objective comes to disturb, direct, manage, guide, mark. No “dedicated” platform, no contract, no commercial strategy.

Street bricolage is the instant result of disinterested encounter and dialogue. Free bricolage elevated to the rank of an art or at least a technique giving meaning: it is pure creation because it is a pure act, below any calculation of interest, which reveals a new layout of the city, of the street. She/he makes it come to be as a city, a Commune.

In addition, in the riot, bricolage is collective work. That is its political dimension. Each one bringing his fragment of street, fragment of sense, joining end to end objects and meanings which will constitute the work, as arguments would make speech in political debate.

The time allotted, finally, again limits the possibility of considering a constructed project, a common future. Rather, it is a question of assembling, with the help of odds and ends, a common work, a desirable city that is born before our eyes.

We should almost consider temporary exhibitions of urban bricolage or at least photograph it, so as to also make profitable, ironically, to our managers of everday life.

In this sense, the art of bricolage reveals perhaps political action.

Politics as myth

All reasoning about the future is criminal, because it prevents pure destruction and hinders the progress of the revolution.

E. Zola, Germinal, 1885 – Souvarine parle

Indeed, one can ask oneself under what conditions political action is still possible.

It is assumed spontaneously that a coherent action is determined by prior values and principles. It is thought to be the cause of a project that is clearly set out in broad outline and whose intentions are assumed, carefully considered, and based on self-conscious, clear political or ethical choices. We act, we say, knowingly.

The action would therefore depend on theoretical certainties. Yet, if we take the trouble to seriously question these certainties, it does not take long to see that they are not and that they represent only beliefs, options, sometimes blind choices, biases, risk taking.

The question is therefore rather to know to what extent it is possible to act politically and this without any prior certainty. And finally: is not spontaneous action, as it precedes all reflection, is it not total in that it would be eminently political, a choice in a situation that engages the whole individual before any subjective, private consideration, deprived of any calculation related to special interests?

Since ancient times, it has been customary to think of the passage from myth to reason as a progress of humanity. Yet historical facts make it abundantly clear that reason is always on the side of the powerful, that it is an instrument of domination.

As a result, magical thinking and myth may be what needs to be preserved rather than fled from. There is a rationality of myth, even if it does not fit into concepts developed by those who have force on their side. The rationality of myth, its political face, lies in the construction of structures on the basis of historical events: “Mythical thought, this bricoleuse, elaborates structures by arranging events”. Thus, according to Lévi-Strauss: “Far from being, as has often been claimed, the work of fabulation, of a function that turns its back on reality, myths and rites offer the main value of preserving in our time, in a residual form, modes of observation and reflection that were (and probably remain) exactly adapted to discoveries of a certain type: those allowed by nature, on the basis of the organisation and of the speculative exploitation of the sensible world in terms of sensible.”

Indeed, why would the spontaneity of bricolage not be the safest way of discovering the lines of force of an innovative and desirable, liberating, politics?

Everything remains to be built, but one thing is certain: the savage thought that is expressed through street bricolage is fundamentally political and does not express the arbitrariness of a few tomb robbers.


A new video from the Brigades d’Actions Cinématographiques.

From Tarnis news and Gaspar Glanz, Act XIII, Paris.

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