France and the farmer’s uprising: Conflicts of worlds

… when just as we came to the top of a rising ground, down a long glade of the wood on my right I caught sight of a stately building whose outline was familiar to me, and I cried out, “Westminster Abbey!”

“Yes,” said Dick, “Westminster Abbey—what there is left of it.”

“Why, what have you done with it?” quoth I in terror.

“What have we done with it?” said he; “nothing much, save clean it.  But you know the whole outside was spoiled centuries ago: as to the inside, that remains in its beauty after the great clearance, which took place over a hundred years ago, of the beastly monuments to fools and knaves, which once blocked it up, as great-grandfather says.”

We went on a little further, and I looked to the right again, and said, in rather a doubtful tone of voice, “Why, there are the Houses of Parliament!  Do you still use them?”

He burst out laughing, and was some time before he could control himself; then he clapped me on the back and said:

“I take you, neighbour; you may well wonder at our keeping them standing, and I know something about that, and my old kinsman has given me books to read about the strange game that they played there.  Use them!  Well, yes, they are used for a sort of subsidiary market, and a storage place for manure, and they are handy for that, being on the waterside.  I believe it was intended to pull them down quite at the beginning of our days; but there was, I am told, a queer antiquarian society, which had done some service in past times, and which straightway set up its pipe against their destruction, as it has done with many other buildings, which most people looked upon as worthless, and public nuisances; and it was so energetic, and had such good reasons to give, that it generally gained its point; and I must say that when all is said I am glad of it: because you know at the worst these silly old buildings serve as a kind of foil to the beautiful ones which we build now.

William Morris, News from Nowhere 

In an effort to decrypt and understand the framer’s uprising in France, we share two texts below (in translation): A reading of events by the Groupe Révolutionnaire Charlatan and the last part of a position statement from Les soulèvements de la terre.

We have also provided links to further, suggested reading.

The left, progress and the peasant

“Partisans in the metropolis: touch grass!”

Groupe Révolutionnaire Charlatan (lundimatin #413, 29/01/2023)

In recent days [in France], we have seen [police] prefectures covered in dung and set on fire, mutual insurance companies set on fire, “foreign” trucks turned over by tractors and their food distributed to the Restos du Cœur or burned on the road, and there are calls to to surround Paris, others to rename the Élysée “Le Lisier” [“The Dung House”], and a government particularly keen not to add fuel to the fire. A pre-cooked and media narrative coordinated both by political representatives and by representatives of the FNSEA [Fédération nationale des syndicats d’exploitants agricoles] , pushes us to understand this movement from their sole point of view, that is to say their interests: the agri-industry has set out on a conflict with the State to recover a little money and put pressure against ecological regulations which are cutting into their profit margins and all of this mixed with a brown, reactionary and conservative background. Good. The Groupe Révolutionnaire Charlatan [the Charlatan Revolutionary Group] has sent us this text which intends to take up the question from a completely different axiom: trying to understand the revolt from its historical and ethical coordinates.

Lenin against the muzhiks

We have learned how to overthrow the bourgeoisie, how to suppress them, and we are proud of the fact. But we have not yet learned how to regulate our relations with the millions of middle peasants, how to win their confidence, and we must frankly admit it.

V.I. Lenin, Speech at Eighth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.) March 18-23, 1919

In public education history classes, the industrial revolution, the rural exodus, the Republic: all these major stages of “progress” are presented as an uninterrupted series of convenient modifications, useful developments and welcome improvements to the way of life of backward populations, the realisation of which would be the philanthropic work of a brave and good urban elite trained in the methods of economic rationality. It is this vision, which corresponds roughly to that which we had during the time of colonisation, on which we are still dependent today when we speak of the peasant world.

The reality of primitive accumulation, of the forced uprooting of populations, of the massacre of the rural way of life as well as of the local ecology-agriculture [terroir], of the dialect and the peasant way of life, still passes today in many left-wing circles as a positive and necessary stage of human progress supposed to lead, with the development of machinery, to the advent of a society of sharing and free decision regarding the methods of production. In short, the socialisation of livelihoods, which saw industry presented as a necessary step.

The muzhiks – who may well have killed their boyars and distributed their lands equally, sent thousands of cahiers de doléances to the Petrograd Soviet and voted massively for the left-wing Socialist-Revolutionaries – was unaware that they were still being plotted against in a Moscow freed of Tsarism, but now inhabited by the modernising ideological confusion of Bolshevism. What was needed was 100,000 tractors, and the peasant would stand back from the only possible historical struggle: proletariat against bourgeoisie. The rest of its society, its way of existence, its revolution, did not matter too much, and a decade later, those of them, designated as “kulaks”, who had had the misfortune of owning two cows, an unbearable sign of “petty-bourgeois” allegiance, could be killed by the thousands.

This heritage, heavy with significance, does not permit any parallel with the current situation, because the peasantry has, so to speak, disappeared in France; but it reveals the extent of the blind spots of the left, and of the continued coexistence between several societies which ignore each other. We firmly believe that the “revolutionary”, if s/he exists, is the one who makes the revolution, regardless of her/his background, her/his beliefs of one day or of everyday; the one who, when society reaches the point where nothing can go back, takes a resolute stand for a new world.

It therefore seems useful to us to sketch a quick picture of the modern rural world in France, and to then relate it to the current political situation. Revolutionary theory does not proclaim abstractly and from above general goals arising from an ancient theoretical system; it goes down to the masses, it tries to understand the clandestine promises of emancipation and the repressed desires for an equal world which inhabit the hearts of everyone – and, putting this secret discourse into a system, into a vocabulary, it offers to all the means of speaking the language of revolution.

The peasant world since the second world war

The man sitting in the iron seat did not look like a man; gloved, goggled, rubber dust mask over nose and mouth, he was a part of the monster, a robot in the seat.

The driver sat in his iron seat and he was proud of the straight lines he did not will, proud of the tractor he did not own or love, proud of the power he could not control.

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

If we can say that the peasant is literally the inhabitant of the country, living from her/his soil and manifesting through his customs, his dialect and his way of living, the social and cultural singularity of her/his region, it must be clarified from the outset that this reality is not what the right imagines. This peasant – who disappeared – lived in her/his own civilization, through her/his languages, traditions, family and land particularities, original symbolic and religious systems. It is the density of this fabric of particularisms which in some way blocked the action of the State, from the tax collector to the soldier: how to find one’s way in a space which does not speak the same language as the administration, does not practice the same method of sowing land and does not give surnames in the same way from one village to another?

The modernisation effort therefore involved the eradication of this incongruous race, by removing its particularities, by registering its lands, by making the father of the family the necessary representative of the group, by sending his sons to die in war through conscription. But the earth has a tough skin, and it was not until after World War II that this unification effort reached its final phase.

The material and social bases of this very particular world were swept away at the time of the Marshall Plan by a series of structural modifications and by intensive machinery: hedges and hedgerows were cut down, ditches were filled in and gigantic plots of land were demarcated which the tractors were now going to plow, led by a new generation of farmers trained by Jesuit and Dominican modernisers in centres of agricultural technical research. The State invested billions in this direction. In 1954, there were 230,000 tractors in France; in 1963, 950,000. The consequence of this expansion was the definitive decapitation of part of the agricultural population, incapable of expanding and mechanising, and therefore of holding out in the face of competition.

The rationalisation of work, productivity gains, the crushing of small businesses through competition, which had ensured solid growth and redistribution to the population in its consumption patterns: nothing very harmful, if we refer to any textbook of liberal economics.

But what becomes of the man on his iron machine? With the family farms gone, his neighbours transformed into agricultural workers or exiled to the city, s/he must now feed the beast: to be competitive, in a capitalist economy, one cannot stagnate. More land, more fertilizer, more machines; more than on any other subject, the different modernising ideologies agree in thinking that working the land is servitude, a thankless task which hinders a person’s very being, traps them on their plot of land and deprives them of the enlightenment of the modern world. This is a world however which one then discovered, through its technical, energetic and economic needs, was leading the planet to its doom, in addition to creating in the meantime a class of salaried employees-consumers with a dull and repetitive life, who undoubtedly had nothing to envy of the workers of yesteryear – the same addiction, but with gadgets and chemical food. The modern farmer has also discovered a new enslavement in agri-industrial methods.

This new dependence to tools is threefold: dependence on the gigantic debt represented by the purchase of machines and land; dependence on agri-industrial circuits which manage all stages following the production and control the chambers of agriculture; dependence, finally, on the machine and its own dynamics. Because if the neighbour can acquire a bigger tractor, buy the land of the small farmers and and fertilise to excess, how can one sell at the same price? With competition and private property, farmers could become, like the rest of society, each other’s executioners.

This logic becomes worse with the entry into the European Union and the Common Market. If the beginnings of agri-industry were successful in France, which was more competitive, it stopped in the 1980s; the European market is flooded with cheaper products from other countries, at the same time as the creation of the WTO and the signing of several treaties ratifying the end of customs protections.

Article 135 of the Lisbon Treaty purely and simply prohibits social harmonisation; it is therefore impossible for member countries to demand collective standards on a European scale, so that labor rights correspond from one country to another. That would not be competitive!

We can therefore summarise modernisation as this mixture of interdependent elements: consolidation of plots, reduction in the number of farmers, increase in the number of farms, end of polyculture/livestock breeding in favor of monoculture, dependence on machines, on inputs and chemistry.

All of this leads us to the current situation: from 2,500,000 farms in 1955, today only 400,000 remain, among which the new European standards will cut even further. This decline is also and above all that of peasant agriculture; but above all it is the progress of a system which has conquered French soil and which fuels the misfortune and deprivation of thousands of farmers each day.

Agri-business and the FNSEA

As with the cops, those who capitalise in the media on suicides in the profession are often the first to provoke them through the conditions of work and social life that they promote among the same people – a reactionary [police] union like Alliance, in the same way as the FNSEA, defender of the companies and large cereal production of the north, is also and above all there to manage careers, to wash dirty linen within the family and to organise lobbying which benefits the less scrupulous in the institution. The FNSEA is particularly mafia-like in this respect.

But the construction of the institutional and corporate universe of agriculture is at least as complicated as this upheaval of their mental and physical universe, like a tidal wave. The excitement of leftists wishing to deploy their categories as quickly as possible – extreme right, base/central opposition, convergence, RN [Rassemblement National] vote, and other hasty comparisons – reveals a profound incapacity to grasp the social dynamics of certain sectors of the population, and the pervasiveness and influence of ideas and relationships to the State that differ from theirs.

What does this restlessness tell us? That their contemptuous – and contemptible – ignorance of the agricultural world, of its fractures and its contradictions, prevents them from relating to present events without mobilising the truncated categories of an urban and moralising leftism.

Let us be clear: the FNSEA remains powerful, catalyzes many expectations and retains many levers. But in matters of revolution, and even more so in our era of total decline in class politics, voting or union membership only tells us abstractly about the real political dispositions of groups. Many past struggles have already revealed the incapacity of the intellectual software of the left to understand the desires, sensitivities and sufferings of certain social categories. For example, this was for a long time the case for young people from the suburbs.

It is difficult for city dwellers unaware of the different “faces” of the agricultural world to differentiate between the small plot operator, the large owner and the “peasant” businessman. This was revealed in a particularly blatant manner with the figure of Arnaud Rousseau, who not content with being at the head of the same companies that organise the system of exploitation of farmers from A to Z, comes to place himself as a defender of their interests on television, to finally demand measures that protect an economic model of which he is one of the beneficiaries.

This very powerful agri-business is the necessary consequence of the economies of scale desired by consolidation: by developing gigantic monocultures so as not to have to buy too large a variety of expensive machines, we no longer have the resilience of a polyculture, and we only have two or three types of products to put on the market. The only outlet for our production is therefore the food industry. Reproducing this pattern at all scales and levels, and so here we are, also dependent on the logistics and chemical sectors, suppliers of seeds and young livestock, slaughterhouses, etc. Over-specialisation necessarily implies dependence at several levels on industry. And the FNSEA, dominant in the chambers of agriculture, has the character of a mafia-like arrangement between all industrial sectors, from suppliers to mass distribution, to extract the maximum profit from the farmer.

The land worker is now a worker-entrepreneur drowning in debt – 200,000 euros on average. A paradoxical double situation: proletarian working hands with the head of a capitalist; a connection to technologies and global trade for a world experienced as rural and remote. The farmer is proletarianised in Marx’s sense because dispossessed of their instruments of production, in Wallerstein’s sense because of the absence of the possibility of local sale and consumption, in Debord’s because deprived of the employment of their life. The disintegration of local communities has reached the countryside and created, as in the rest of modern society, a decline in direct solidarity, the rise of consumer individualism, careerism and a middle-class mentality, with furthermore the awareness of a depopulation which considerably aggravated the social isolation thus caused.

Understanding the collapse of this world and the moral shock, the abandonment thus caused, is essential to better understand the demands of farmers. The yellow vests were the periphery of the middle classes: people who had been promised the same way of life as that of consumers from the upper strata, particularly urban dwellers, and who saw with bitterness the economic quagmire sweeping away these hopes. Farmers come from this world, with very different working conditions: after all, if it is possible to regulate a human being to the rhythms of a salary routine – cities, their traffic spaces, their economic zones and their giant dormitories are there for that – it is difficult to impose on the land this same rhythm. Even industrialised to death, agriculture remains dependent on a lot of natural and biological parameters that are difficult to adapt to the needs of yield and continuity of the Market and the Administration – even if, in their sick dreams, many engineers do see matters differently.

An attempt to catch up is being made by a part of the left, which now wants to make the same distinction as with the “model” worker proletarians. There would be good workers, and bad bosses; the good union “bases”, ready to revolt, and the “central union administrations”, scheming and reform-minded. And then the RN vote, inevitably reviled, which would in fact be the responsibility of the wealthiest, because as is well known, consciousness is always limited to the wallet.

On the side of the institutional left, past master in the art of recovery, it is on the theme of Euroscepticism where the problem lies. Criticism of the European Union having been largely abandoned to the sovereigntist right and part of the extreme right, the institutional left is forced to limit its argument to the demand for food security and the defense of a better agricultural salary. The European Union pays subsidies to 8 out of 10 farmers – 400,000 out of 500,000. The progressives’ project is based on the chambers of agriculture, national players in the management of the agricultural world, created a hundred years ago. In short, it is a question of making them auxiliary to the CAP [Common Agricultural Policy] in the organisation of the diminished survival of farmers. Redistributive policies strengthened at the national level, against a backdrop of a downward trend in the number of European farmers.

From the yellow vests to the rubbish bin riots

We seek to demonstrate in this text that there is no surprise that the minority sectors of the ultra-left are systematically ultra-confused before these kind of events, incapable of grasping their meaning and scope; and that it is necessary to review certain bases so that this sector which calls itself revolutionary is up to the tasks it sets itself. We will not even talk about the helpless gesticulations of the parliamentary left, ready to surf on anything to improvise itself as the defender of a people who no longer recognise it. At most, we will recall that the constant alarmism relating to the extreme right is a component of the desperate discourse of electoral politics, which wants to sell the miracle of a rebellious victory in the elections as the only means of saving us from the danger of the far right. For us, it is precisely this disempowerment of citizens through voting that is an obstacle to building a response.

What happens on the road blocks escapes both electoral logic and the usual functioning of social dialogue and its intermediaries – despite their being undermined by the exercise of Macron’s power. When François Purseigle points out the sociological differences between farmers and the yellow vests, he misses the point. That the former are closer to the CSP+ than to those who are not, this does not interest us: what matters is that an additional sector of the population slowly refuses the institutional monopoly of politics.

Comparisons with the yellow vests have only a limited meaning: the revolt of winter 2018 is not a redundant element bound to repeat itself, but the opening of a new sequence in French politics. Identifying and comparing without seeing the developments shows a cruel lack of imagination. Nothing is repeated; trends open up, evolve and modify themselves. The comparison is only of interest in this context, otherwise it only fuels a defeatist fetish like for example that of the capture of the Champs-Élysées, which is not to be completely thrown in the dustbin, but which generally wastes time and energy. It was constant renewal, the ability to emerge anywhere, that gave the yellow vests their strength. Must we be reminded of this?

In this case, what is repeated is the impossibility of containing the discontent in the labour union mold, of dividing those who struggle between a few predefined sectors, and of imposing recognised spokespersons on the movement with their slogans. This movement makes itself autonomous, as at the beginning of the yellow vests, starting from a trigger point, and broadens in a somewhat messy way towards a general “enough is enough”. This vague but powerful feeling is a very important marker: it reveals an incapacity of the system to reproduce itself, of a contradiction that has become unbearable. A part of the population is no longer able to live as before. We know that, but what is even more radical is that it can no longer imagine itself living as before, and that the realisation of this shift produces a shock.

Let’s start again from the events of 2023: we could say, in a text from the time,[1] that what had changed in the methods and in the diffuse feeling of an upheaval, struggled to change in minds and in the discourses. What was the strength of the yellow vests – the shared feeling of having to start from scratch to succeed, the revolt that was triggered when a desire to regain control of one’s life was born, the constant inventiveness, the taking back control old, outdated forms of struggle – failed to happen during the trash riots. Because inventiveness was born from the broadening of the slogans: everyone recognising something new in the taking of the Place de Concorde, Paris, instinctively understanding that the shared feeling of being totally fed up with our passivity created new possibilities; a lot of things that had been impossible until then ceased to be so. It was the opposite of a crisis, of a moment of blockage: it was a momentum. Hence the scattered spontaneous marches and demonstrations, the new slogans, the unexpected convergences, the enormous motivation.

What exhausted this momentum, this impulse? The impossibility of translating this into language, into the way we talk about the situation among ourselves.

This new situation only existed in embryonic form, in the collective subconscious. The repressive routine of labour union marches and the political shenanigans of union leaders, pushed back dates, blocked the coordination of strikes and riots, and limited the extension of strikes. All of this was only overwhelmed by accident. What was missing was the awareness of this opposition between two irreconcilable wills, that which changes everything and that which nothing changes; a desire that neither side clearly formulated. If we had seriously undertaken to translate this new situation into words and action, the explosive potential of the situation would have tripled.

But the atavistic mental software of leftists remained trapped in a time now some 30 years old, repeating the same banalities, rehashing with the same repertoire. Without critically rethinking the role of unions, the usefulness of practices and the relevance of slogans, we fall back into apathy less than three weeks after the start of this magnificent sequence. Collective responsibility is great; unable to get its head out of its arse, the “revolutionary” sector continued to repeat its slogans over and over again, to drool over riot videos and to tolerate the presence of the security service and parliamentarians, who only sought to calm the protest to better exploit it. Those who deplored these problems did not even try to explain them clearly.

What this tells us about the current situation

But above all: the presentation of a revolutionary perspective must always consist of describing and explaining what is happening day after day; and never be satisfied with the ridicule of abstractly proclaiming general goals.

Guy Debord, Lettre to Afonso Moteiro

We must not underestimate the traditions of struggle of farmers, who have always been able to mobilise spectacularly. Blockages with tractors, manure on town halls, releasing pigs on the highway: nothing is completely new, except the pace of mobilisation. The FNSEA is overtaken and criticised, the methods are immediately more offensive; what we observe is that, since the yellow vests and in an increasing manner, the population knows how it must speak to the State.

We find part of the pattern of the yellow vests: mobilisation on a measure which seems innocuous to a left totally disconnected from this segment of the population – broadening of the slogans towards an overall demands about the quality of life, which resonate in unison with the rest of the population – partial convergence and critical overcoming of the unions. Other sectors then begin to feel like they have something in common to express; as in many recent movements, we quickly see the rest of the population feeling concerned by the struggle of a single sector, as soon as it frees itself from the usual institutional and media framing. It is on this automatic shift towards something collective, this informal feeling of a collective struggle to be waged, that revolutionaries must work; this is where they must pick up the pen.

What is currently ensuing is an attempt by politicians of all stripes to bring the protest into their categories, and a temporary silence from the state watchdogs and the FNSEA, who are carefully waiting for the situation to evolve in a direction more likely to decay on its own. They procrastinate, but are not fooled: as during the post-Place de la Concorde riots, their stupor lasts only for a moment, after which they will seize the slightest moment of weakness to mobilise their discourse of a return to order and send the troops to guarantee it.

Faced with this, we can fear that the revolutionaries will remain in their usual posture, aligning the empty formulas of ideology, without trying to understand how to take advantage of the situation. Despite some positive developments since 2018, it is clear that we remain generally incapable of changing our operating methods, and even more so, our way of understanding society and its uprisings.

Yet it is precisely the task of revolutionary activists to reflect on the current situation, anticipate it, try to give it words, to understand its invisible motivations and its grandiose possibilities. As a press release from the Paris-Banlieue Antifascist Action rightly said, the militant investigation is a first means of action accessible to all: communicate, investigate, gather testimonies, deliver observations. This facilitates both overall understanding and communication with the sectors in struggle.

Against convergence

This is neither a call for support nor an injunction to participate in order for the movement to overflow its limits. The agricultural world expects nothing from us, and we do not expect anything in particular.

The left speaks of the convergence of struggles to designate the artificial encounter or bringing together of separate movements, collectives and social groups – artificial because, far from leading to the abandonment of the separate categories produced by the system, this gathering reinforces them in their separation by simply lining them up next to each other. The convergence of struggles is based on the existence of a centralized organisation responsible for carrying out a programmatic synthesis of the specific interests of separate categories: students, employees, farmers, agricultural workers, artisans, civil servants, etc. The old Leninist principle is safe: the party owns the class, formulates its interests and dictates its conduct – the part becomes the whole.

We have little interest in the pious hopes of convergence and the political recovery that they struggle to conceal. Nothing will ever emerge from the closed positions of the left, both institutional and extra-parliamentary. We are not fooled by the possibilities, opened up in particular by investigative work in the field of mobilisation, of influencing the political sensitivities of its actors. However, we refuse to remain passive spectators in the face of the broadening of demands and the prospect of going beyond the mobilisation by the entry into the movement of other sectors of the population and the working class – truck drivers and construction workers in particular. We need to be there – if not there – to understand the nature and scale of what is happening.

Groupe Révolutionnaire Charlatan

January 2024

  1. “Ne pas rester au milieu du gué”, April 1st, 2023

Position and Appeal of the Soulèvements de la Terre on the Current Agricultural Movement

It must be acknowledged: the fewer farmers there are, the less they can earn a living, unless they continually expand their farming area, devouring their neighbors in the process. In these conditions, “becoming a business manager” as the FNSEA promises, is in reality finding yourself in the same situation as an Uber driver who is up to his neck in debt to buy his vehicle when he depends on a single contractor to carry out its activity… Add to this the brutality of climate change (extreme climatic events, droughts, fires, floods, etc.) and ecological disruptions leading in their wake to the multiplication of diseases emerging and other epizootics, and the profession becomes almost impossible, unlivable, such is the instability.

If we rise up, it is largely against the ravages of this agri-industrial complex, with the vivid memory of the farms of our families that we have seen disappear and the acute awareness of the depths of difficulties that we encounter in our own efforts. It is these industries and the mega-corporations that accompany them, swallowing up the land and farms around them, accelerating the corporate becoming of agricultural production, and thus quietly killing the peasant world. It is these industries that we have targeted in our actions since the beginning of our movement – and not the peasant class.

If we claim that the social and economic liquidation of the peasantry and the destruction of living environments are closely correlated – farms disappearing at the same rate as the birds of the fields and the agri-industrial complex tightening its grip while global warming accelerates – we are not fooled by the deleterious effects of a certain industrial, managerial and technocratic ecology. Management by environmental and health standards in agriculture is therefore absolutely ambiguous. Failing to really protect the health of populations and living environments, it has, behind good intentions, above all constituted a new vector for the industrialisation of farms. The colossal investments required by upgrades necessary to meet legal-industrial norms over the years have accelerated, everywhere, the concentration of structures, their bureaucratisation under permanent controls and the loss of any meaningful vocation.

We refuse to separate the ecological question from the social question, or to make it a matter of responsible citizen consumers, of changes in individual practices or of “personal transitions”: it is impossible to demand from a breeder trapped in a hyper-integrated sector that s/he deviate and leave an industrial mode of production, just as it is shameful to demand that millions of people who are structurally dependent on food aid start “consuming organic and local”. Nor do we want to reduce the necessary greening of working the land to a question of “regulations” or “a set of standards”: salvation will not come by strengthening the hold of bureaucracies over peasant practices. No structural change will come until we loosen the grip of economic and technocratic constraints that weigh on our lives: and we can only free ourselves from them through struggle.

If we have no lessons to give to farmers or false promises to make to them, the experience of our struggles alongside peasants – whether against large, useless and imposed projects, against mega- water basins, or to reappropriate the fruits of land grabbing – has offered us some certainties, which guide our strategic bets.

Ecology will be peasant and popular or it will not be. The peasantry will disappear at the same time as the food security of the populations and our last margins of autonomy in the face of industrial complexes, if a vast social movement does not arise to take back land in the face of their grabbing and destruction. If we do not break down the barriers (free trade treaties, price deregulation, monopolistic influence of the agri-food industry and supermarkets hold household consumption) which seal the dominance of the market on our lives and agriculture. If the “techno-solutionist” headlong rush is not blocked (the triptych genetic biotechnologies – robotisation – digitalisation). If the key mega-projects in the restructuring of the agri-industrial model are not neutralised. If we do not find the appropriate levers for socialising food which will make it possible to secure the income of producers and guarantee the universal right to food.

We also believe in the fruitfulness and power of impromptu alliances. At a time when the FNSEA is seeking to regain control of the movement – in particular by removing from some of the road blockades it controls anyone that does not resemble a “federated unionised” farmer – we believe that the shift can come of the meeting between the mobilised farmers and other elements of the social and ecological movement who have risen up in recent years against the predatory economic policies of the government. “Corporatism” has always been the bedrock of peasant impotence, just as separation from agricultural livelihoods has often sealed the defeat of workers.

Maybe it’s time to knock down some walls. By continuing to strengthen certain blockades. By going out to encounter the movement, for those who have not yet set foot there. By continuing over the coming months the common struggles between inhabitants of the territories and workers of the land.

Les Soulèvements de la Terre – January 30, 2024

Suggested Readings:

“The world is changing too fast for us’: organic farmers on urgency of French protests”, The Guardian, 26/01/2024

“Des solutions radicales pour le monde agricole”, Union communiste libertaire, 26/01/2024

“Sabotages, blocages, explosions : que se passe-t-il chez les agriculteurs?”, Paris-Luttes.Info, 27/01/2024

“Décrypter le mouvement des agriculteurs: Entretien avec Morgan Ody, paysanne”, lundimatin #413, 30/01/2024

“Philosophie de la vie paysanne: Rencontre avec Mathieu Yon”, video interview (lundisoir) in lundimatin#413, le 30 janvier 2024

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