Remembering and resisting the erasure of the rebellion of the Gilets Jaunes/Yellow Vests with a piece published with lundi matin (#400, 24/10/2024) and with an excellent documentary film dedicated to the same, entitled Les Magnifiques Sauvages (in french).
November 17 marked the 5th anniversary of the Yellow Vest [Gilets Jaunes] movement. We will publish below, in translation, a collection of plural voices who were part of the movement. It is a question of saving from oblivion – and contempt – this literature which was written on a daily basis during the Yellow Vest movement, and of making it available to all, of starting from the texts to reconstruct the color chart which has created and continues to create what will be called a yellow counterculture: a significant and still very much alive part of the thought from here below.
we are the sum of each of us who thought we were alone, […] we now know what it is to be one as a body, […] because together we have caught the rage and we spread it with Love.
These few words block out loneliness. They are the breath of the roundabouts, the strength of the pavement walked with comrades. They bear witness to this tremendous social energy which animated the Yellow Vest movement and many others in its wake, notably, that against pension reform.
Imagining freedom and justice beyond state sovereignty, with Hannah Arendt.
Politically, this identification of freedom with sovereignty is perhaps the most pernicious and dangerous consequence of the philosophical equation of freedom and free will. For it leads either to a denial of human freedom-namely, if it is realized that whatever men may be, they are never sovereign-or to the insight that the freedom of one man, or a group, or a body politic can be purchased only at the price of the freedom, i.e., the sovereignty, of all others. Within the conceptual framework of traditional philosophy, it is indeed very difficult to understand how freedom and non-sovereignty can exist together or, to put it another way, how freedom could have been given to men under the condition of non-sovereignty. Actually it is as unrealistic to deny freedom because of the fact of human non-sovereignty as it is dangerous to believe that one can be free – as an individual or as a group – only if he is sovereign. The famous sovereignty of political bodies has always been an illusion, which, moreover, can be maintained only by the instruments of violence, that is, with essentially non-political means. Under human conditions, which are determined by the fact that not man but men live on the earth, freedom and sovereignty are so little identical that they cannot even exist simultaneously. Where men wish to be sovereign, as individuals or as organized groups, they must submit to the oppression of the will, be this the individual will with which I force myself, or the “general will” of an organized group. If men wish to be free, it is precisely sovereignty they must renounce.
Thus, in some form, the constitutive process of a land-appropriation is found at the beginning of the history of every settled people, every Commonwealth, every empire. This is true as well for the beginning of every historical epoch. Not only logically, but also historically, land appropriation precedes the Order that follows from it. It constitutes the original spatial order, the source of all further concrete Order and all further law. It is the reproductive root in the normative Order of history. All further property relations — communal or individual, public or private property, and all forms of possession and use in society and in international law — are derived from this radical title. All subsequent law and everything promulgated and enacted thereafter as decrees and commands are nourished, to use Heraclitus’ word, by this source.
Carl Schmitt, The Nomos of the Earth
The 20th century, militant Russian Zionist Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s essay The Iron Wall (1928) lays out with clinically elegant language the settler-colonialist logic of the project of creating a Jewish state in Palestine.
“Genocide”: … any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Article 2 (The Convention was unanimously adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, on the 9th of December 1948, during the third session of the United Nations General Assembly. The Convention entered into force on 12 January 1951.)
As Israeli state violence washes over Gaza, in the daily genocidal murder of Palestinians, and as Palestinians are chased out of their homes, hounded and hunted by Israeli soldiers and armed settlers in the West Bank, the call to free Palestine from Israeli colonial rule and racial segregation cannot but resonate among those for whom colonialism is simply unacceptable.
“US weapons ship to Israel blocked by peace activists at port of Tacoma. Peace activists have staged a standstill at the Port of Tacoma, blocking the departure of a US ship believed to be carrying weapons destined for the state of Israel. This follows a similar action days earlier in Oakland.” (Middle East Monitor/Al Jazeera)
In Atlanta, Georgia, abolitionists and environmentalists have fought for three and a half years to stop the construction of a police militarization facility known as Cop City. The same police that are attempting to crush that movement have trained for decades with Israeli police, exchanging lethal counterinsurgency strategies. In the following text, a Jewish collective that has participated in the struggle to Stop Cop City explains why they are committed to solidarity with Palestinians and what it will take to halt the assault of the Israeli military on Gaza.
Now, they are attempting to stop the bloodbath in Gaza. In their own words,
Fayer is a collective of artists, revolutionaries, workers, students, criminals, and free lovers fighting for the earth, the good life, and total liberation. Members of the collective have been participating in the movement to Defend the Atlanta Forest since its inception, attending religious practices in the forest such as Shabbat dinners, Sukkot gatherings, purim parties, and other Jewish holidays, forging a spiritual bond between Atlanta’s radical Jewish community and the Weelaunee Forest it seeks to defend. With the renewed Zionist attacks on Gaza and the Palestinian people, which are supported by the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange Program based out of Atlanta, we have found ourselves in the unique situation of being near the inner workings of the machine and its local violence while simultaneously being far from its ruthless campaign for genocide. For this reason, we have decided it is imperative for us to lay out the situation from our perspective and what it means for the Atlanta Forest and Palestinian liberation.
Here, the Fayer Collective explores the protests calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, arguing that solidarity movements must shift from presenting demands to taking direct action and proposing some models for how to proceed.
The Israeli government, by fanatically bombing Gaza, is profaning the deaths of October 7. And it is profaning those who died long before, under the bullets of the Nazis and in the gas chambers, since it dares to invoke their memory to massacre without restraint. I feel a deep shame as a Jew and I state, not in my name, nor in that of so many of my people who perished 80 years ago.
It is in the very nature of things human that every act that has once made its appearance and has been recorded in the history of mankind stays with mankind as a potentiality long after its actuality has become a thing of the past. No punishment has ever possessed enough power of deterrence to prevent the commission of crimes.
Hannah Arendt,Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil
We want to thank +972 Magazine for the generous permission to publish a significant article on the abuse of references and comparisons to the Holocaust by the Israeli government, in their justification of the genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.
+972 Magazine is unquestionably one of the most important sources of news from Palestine-Israel for English language readers, to which we are much indebted.
In an Israeli war that has been retrofitted onto a Holocaust template, it is obscene that a plea to stop further killing is now read as moral failure.
Angela Davis recently described “Palestine as a moral litmus test for the world”. (Al Jazeera English-Up Front, 27/10/2023) And however much we may sympathise with the statement, it also begs reflection, for what is the test evaluating precisely? What morality is under scrutiny and what is the “proper” moral position to assume?
Such questions may seem academic at the moment – even obscene for some -, but without them, and others, our moral reactions risk being just that: reactive.
In an equally recent interview, the poet-essayist-philosopher Fred Moten, takes us some way beyond unthinking accusation and condemnation, as we endeavour to think and re-think, and to act, with justice.
For those unfamiliar with Moten’s work, and, in a way, to help clarify and situate the video interview, we also share below selections from an interview given by him for the Kunstkritikk/Nordic Art Review of Norway.
And for an older intervention by Moten, in defence of a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions, we also share a video recording of a lecture given at the American Studies Association Meeting, November 7, 2009, along with a parallel, revised text on the same theme.
Novelists tell that piece of truth hidden at the bottom of every lie. To a psychoanalyst it is not so important whether you tell the truth or a lie because lies are as interesting, eloquent, and revealing as any claimed truth.
I feel suspicious about writers who claim to tell the whole truth about themselves, about life, or about the world. I prefer to stay with the truths I find in writers who present themselves as the most bold-faced liars.
Italo Calvino, “The Art of Fiction No. 130” (Interview), The Paris Review, Issue 124, Fall 1992
What defines political consciousness today? A subtle conjugation of renunciation and hope. When God ordered Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on Mount Moriah, he gave up his son without hesitation and yet – at least this is what Kierkegaard suggests in Fear and Trembling – in a corner of his heart he continued to believe (faith, we know, is only a form of hope) that God would not take Isaac from him, although he had renounced him once and for all. So in the extreme situation in which we find ourselves, a lucid mind can only leave aside projects, plans and even the idea of a possible happy political community between men, and yet, at the very moment when we renounces, there we are infallibly hoping in what we had to abandon.
Renunciation and hope, idea and disenchantment, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza converge in a single person, they mutually provide each other with denial and confirmation. Only a hope, which deserting the field of false certainties of dogmas and ideologies, of churches and parties, turns with all its strength towards what it has just declared impossible, will be able to escape from the confinement of facts and strike power at its weak points, to possibly bring back the unexpected. Both in the city and the public sphere and in the darkness of private existence, it is only possible to believe and hope in this joy which we have been able to renounce.