The following is our translation of an intriguing text by Samuel Hayat, a French political scientist, published on Dec. 5th 2018. It offers a thought-provoking analysis of the moral economy of the Yellow Vests movement which should also provoke conversations about other social/radical movements and their attachment to normative moral claims about the economy or the present world we are forced to live in.
It’s difficult not to be swept up by the movement in progress. The whole thing is disconcerting, including for those who make a profession of researching and teaching political science: its actors, its modes of action, its demands. Some of our best established beliefs have been called into question, notably those related to the conditions and bliss of social movements. Hence the necessity, or at the very least the desire, to put out it in the open some reflections stemming from the open comparison between what we see in this movement and the knowledge base relating to other subjects. Besides the research of the movement in progress, let us hope that the indirect light born of the comparison with other fields offers up something different on what has taken place.
The insurgency of the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) has obtained an important contingent victory, bending the government to its will and forcing it to retract the increase in gasoline and excise taxes. This result was not obtained through representative channels, but rather through weeks of clashes with the police, barricades, blockages of circulation, and the destruction of many different objects that don’t necessarily have anything coherent in common, just as there isn’t anything coherent about the composition of the mobilized participants.
What follows is a translation of a blog post by Carbure. It is a collaboration between ourselves & Otto Mattick. The original text was published on Dec. 3rd, 2018.
Saturday December 1st, the Gilets Jaunes movement had ceased to belong and be the movement of lower-class White France which it was at the beginning. Given the predictable refusal of the State to satisfy the smallest demand (as evidenced by the refusal or inability of the “spokepersons” of the movement to meet the Prime Minister), also given the derisory aspect which any demand takes on in light of our intolerable existence, and thanks to the convergence in an urban setting of ALL rage, the revolutionary content of the current period beings to appear under the crust of discourses and ideologies, and this content is disorder. The question is now where will what has started end or how far what has started here will be able to create disorder. Already those who made up the origin of the movement serve as a rear guard of what they have started, making appeals to reason and demanding a return to republican order within the pages of Le Journal du Dimanche. They were the incarnation of the start of the movement and their reluctance demonstrates enough what this movement is no longer. They would be satisfied with a moratorium on raising fuel prices, on raising the price on anything or organizing a referendum on the energy transition, right when an emerging movement wants to take whatever is in its path and can no longer crystallize itself around any discourse or demand; save for the repetition of “Resign Macron” as a sort of mantra calling on nothingness and the disappearance of all that this world represents. “Resign Macron” is at once the political limit of this movement and also a call for the end of all politics.
The following is a translation of a text retrieved from Lundi Matin, published on Nov. 26th 2018. It is a dispatch from the French territory of La Réunion: an island east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. It was translated by Otto Mattick and edited by Ediciones inéditos.
The Yellow Vests movement on Reunion Island
The trigger of an historic awakening
You have probably already read it somewhere: “Reunion Island is all fire and blood”, “riots”, “outbreaks of violence in Reunion Island”. Since the beginning of the movement, on 17 November 2018, and for nine days now, Reunion Island has experienced a social revolt on a scale never known before. A curfew was introduced on November 20, and lifted this Sunday, following a respite. A new week of blockades is expected both on the roads and at strategic points, such as the East Port, the prefecture or Gillot airport.
The confused media and politicians are trying to demonize the movement with provoking phrases, some rumors of anti-white racism follow by the usual discourse aimed at separating the “nice Yellow Vests” from the “bad young casseurs“1. However, the reality is much more complex than the Reunionese and [French] metropolitan media suggest.
The following is a collaborative effort of translated analyses from France focused on the Gilets Jaunes movement between Agitations, Carbure, Otto Mattick & Ediciones inéditos. More texts will be translated in the coming days.
We originally posted this on twitter here. We learned that some of the text formatting on there made it difficult for people to read it. So we share it here de-twitter-ized.
We don’t deny the necessity of organization in toto but we reject the primacy of The Mass Organization™ as an a priori necessity for class struggle. The organizational forms necessary to class struggle (proletarian self-abolition) arise from the struggle itself. As we see it, the commune is not necessarily a thing to be built in the absence of a general struggle but rather it is a communist way of life that arises from the struggle itself. Its arrival is not merely due to an ‘organizational’ preference by proles. It simply is the beginning of a way to sustain the antagonism of the struggle, to help prolong a rupture in capitalist space/time logic so that the revolt can further generalize & de-specialize.
Here is our attempt to explain what anti-politics means to us and how we link it to communization and ultimately to communism.
Anti-politics: action and theory that posits itself against the sphere of politics (and therefore also political-economy). Politics being the sphere of power, alienation, mediation and domination. In this way anti-politics questions & attacks the mediation & coercion found in democracy; the centrality & domination of the economy (whether capitalist or not) in our lives, patriarchy & its deadly logic; settler-colonialism & its persistence; questions whether the breadth of human desires could ever constitute a unitary & enumerated positive program and opens itself up to the possibility of affinities of shared antagonism with those who do not explicitly express themselves politically but nonetheless attack that which anti-politics is set against (i.e. rioters).