May 15 #GlobalDebout

From ‘‘Nuit Debout: building an open movement in France’s squares’ May 3, 2016; Paolo Gerbaudo interviews Nuit Debout activist Baki Youssoufou on the driving force behind the social mobilization and the inclusiveness of the movement; roarmgazine

Nuit Debout looks very similar to the movement of the squares of 2011. There also seem to be some differences in tactics, however. For example, instead of a fixed camp, people set up tents every day and pack them up again every night. Why is that?

Nuit Debout is not an occupation because we believe the movements of 2011 have been defeated precisely because they were occupations. The problem is that when you occupy, the army or the police can always come and evict you from the square. When we started this movement we said we are not going to set up an occupation. We are not occupying this space, we are just staying here, we are using the space to have conversations. We are not setting up structures, we are not setting up barriers.

How have the police reacted to that?

They don’t really know what to do, because when they come to disperse the crowd, people let them in. The movement mostly does not react to that. It just allows them to do that. Because then, as soon as they have left, we can simply come back again. We just use our communications and social media to tell people that we are going to meet for an assembly again. We do not need to have a fixed place for that.

Can you describe the different souls of the movement? How representative is the left-wing faction Convergence des Luttes and its intellectual figurehead Frédéric Lordon?

Convergence des Luttes only represent one part of the movement. They think that unions are still the main force capable of changing society, and they work within the political party of the left, Front de Gauche. Many people in the square disagree with that. We distrust both parties and unions because we think that they have also been responsible for the present situation.

Furthermore, there is a difference in strategy. Convergence des Luttes wants to unite people who are already in struggle. We are more inclusive than this traditional left view. We also want to open the door to people who are not in the struggle yet but are ready to mobilize on various issues, and also to those who do not yet know about these issues. We want to be open to everybody as long as they adhere to basic principles: no racism, no sexism, no homophobia, no antisemitism.

How is the movement different from previous movements in France

This movement is more open. We are taking the time to look at one another, to take care of everyone, to be inclusive, to spend more time discussing questions — because not everybody has the same background. We also have to try to revisit our language and our practices and to make our ideas more contemporary.”

All of that put me in mind of a song by an Australian group, written by Aussie Emily Barker.  In a similar way the Karine Polwart had dedicated her song ‘The Tiny Wren, King of Birds’ to the Occupy movement, the notion of ‘creating openings’ echoes the lyrics to ‘Openings’ magnificently.

The future lays unwritten
By hands that held power in the past
Mouths of those who listened
Find voices in the words you’ve lost

The cracks that have begun to show
Will be the wings on which we soar
So pass a tool, prise it open
And a pen to write the future now

These dreams we’ve rolled
Over again? In our fingers can begin
If we seek to live in a
Society we wanna create

There an opening lies
There a hook to hold us
There an end that finds
A start to reasonings of a new kinds

Our minds were enticed first
By colors that kept our hearts at bay
Then secondly were taught to
Compete and not co-operate

The ones who possess little are much
Less possessed so praise be to a
Moderate poverty
And everything else is unnecessary

There an opening lies
There a hook to hold us
There an end that finds
A start to reasonings of a new kinds

#GlobalNuit is not only a protest against austerity, a refugee diaspora from war and privation including deaths at the borders in the EU, egregious labor ‘reform’ in France by edict, the absence of ‘democracy’, rule by plutocracy, social and environmental disasters, etc., but a movement that hopes to create space and time for discussions about ‘What next?  What sort of world can we build by way of grassroots democracy that will be healthy for almost all of the people of the world, and share our ideas from square to square around the world?’

The day may not have brought out as many people in as many cities as had been hoped or planned, but in some locations, the seeds have been planted, and they may bear fruit one day.

small, but doughty

Irish proverb: ‘They tried to bury us…they forgot we were seeds’

17 responses to “May 15 #GlobalDebout

  1. So disruption is out and “passive” resistance is in. But the direction of this movement is to again create a space in which diverse people with intersecting issues and agendas can conduct political speech and action and sense the scope of their power. That such conversations are going on freaks out the PtB who believe their own characterizations of who these people are.

    I’m so out of it that I just realized that today is May 15.

    • at least for this week. as soon as the hollande/valls labor reform decree was issued, eee-crikey, the young uns hit the streets rather rowdily. ‘chaos! teargas! gendarmes!’

      but yes, it seems to have been sorta decided at the international meeting a couple weeks ago that widening the protests past labor (and electoral politics) in favor of other issues in especially non-white banlieues, and attempting to communicate what various ideas and alternatives general assemblies had brought up might be the way to go. dunno how that stuff’s shared, as Nuit teevee and Nuit radio are in francaise, though. my high school french is so rusty it squeaks.

      RT pointed out that many cities created their own hashtags for the event, so…it’s hard to say what collectively happened due to the media blackout. i really do hope that some seriously strong seeds were planted. my favorite sign was an anarchist one:

  2. dancingrabbit

    Is it possible that what these people are doing – getting together at a set time in a public space to discuss whatever interests them – is recreating the town square of days of yore?

    When I was a small child, my family would visit my father’s oldest sister where she lived with her family on a farm only a few miles from where she had been born.

    Saturdays were “go to town” days to buy what little might be needed (and could be afforded) and to spend the rest of the time sitting on park benches beneath the shade of trees around the county courthouse, talking with neighbors and relatives and generally just passing the time until it was time to go home.

    Perhaps what Nuit Debout is doing is recreating community outside the purvue of corporations and government and unmediated by the “screens” most of us spend too much time staring at.

    I can see why those who would control us would find that not just perplexing but even threatening, because – beyond consumerism and the obligations of citizenship – what truly matters most in life is human connection.

    • your intuition accords to a great degree with manuela zecher’s ‘Finding warmth in a dark place: a glimpse of #NuitDebout’ international a couple weeks ago at the Place de la République, dancingrabbit. it’s hard to know which paragraphs to feature, but i’ll try a few and leave the link; my guess is you’ll like it. and i think it was there that game centers were indeed set up for the chirren, perhaps with an eye toward the creativity and connectivity that many participants were hoping for.

      “The appearance of messiness gave way to seeing a lot of collective intelligence, listening, respect and humor. Observing a collective breaking out of loneliness, alienation and fear, in this tough city and its super tough current moment. Little leaps of faith, small efforts of patience, minor gestures of generosity all the time. For those of us who came from abroad, it was quite something to witness hundreds and thousands of people break through such deep darkness to find each other in the streets and squares, to fill the dead silence with hundreds of singular manifestations of being together and needing to connect and talk.

      Paris had been so dark, so tough and stuck. I remember it well from regular visits: the harshness and alienation of people rushing through the tunnels of the metro, the brutal separation of the white center from its post-colonial banlieues, the repression of the forms of expression emerging from the suburbs, the fake discourse on the veil, now also the simmering fear of extremist attacks, the mourning and deeply uncomfortable celebrations of national togetherness, the hushed sense of resilience and the racist policing flourishing in the current state of exception…

      If these links can be created — and they are being sought and made, through calls and actions of #BanlieuesDebout, through efforts to decentralize parts of the movement, to bring the issues that matter beyond the white center to the square — then this movement will turn into a tiger, with unstoppable force. It’s that very challenge and possibility of social composition beyond the divide-and-rule of the state, of actually building another kind of society in the heart of Europe, that is the most dizzying prospect of a movement like Nuit Debout.

      One step at a time, with each step felt and embodied, inhabited and collectively processed. In this sense, Nuit Debout is unlike the struggles of the 2011 cycle: it doesn’t merely respond to austerity and neoliberal reform but also to the deep political crisis that Europe faces today, one that can only be resolved by finding other ways of relating in our cities.

      One of the decisions taken at the international and regular assemblies was to go for a day of action on May 15, calling for participation in cities across the world. Many of those who left Paris to return to other cities and countries are quite inspired to build continuity for this moment, to see how they can let themselves be affected in their own cities and struggles. We’ll be watching Paris for sure, now that we finally fell in love in that city — without romanticism but with a lot of gut feeling.”

      on edit: i’d wondered about greece, and let my fingers do the binging; found this: ‘Greece: Anti-austerity protesters gather in solidarity with France’s ‘Nuit Debout’’

  3. dancingrabbit

    Human connection can lead to all sorts of thngs: games, boredom, and learning from the grown-ups’ talk among small children; “sparking” amongst the adolescents;swapping tips about child-rearing, gardening, and canning among the women; plans among the men to finally get together and go prop up the falling down corner of Joe-Bob’s barn before it falls down for good; and, of course, open revolt against those who think they’re running things if enough people get pissed off at whatever it is they’ve gotten up to this time.

    • like your style. economic activity outside of their control, via bartering, sharing, etc. crypto-currencies like bitcoin could have a great role to play in this, but people who are really into that crypto stuff tend to be techno-fetishists who refuse to see they were saying the exact same crap about the internet, the C & the PC, cell phone tech, social media, the railroad, the steam engine, the horse and buggy, the wheel, fire….the PTB will find some way to control it, coopt it. still, for certain activities, crypto has great potential.

      for me anyway, it’s hard to think about a more “bartering/sharing” economy here in Merka. people do do that kind of stuff all the time of course, informally, but how to make such activity central? the landlord ain’t gonna like it, that’s for sure.

    • Re-establishing a domain of public space unregulated by any private or municipal, state, or federal corporate owner was one of the thing occupations were about. The federal, state, and local governments are as oppressive about their outdoor spaces as any mall owner is about their indoor spaces. Pre-20th century town squares were authentic public space and only became heavily policed when labor began organizing. Yes Take the Square in 2011 was about capturing public space for public use. Who knew that what was traditional in the 19th century would become a ground of conflict in the 21st? Commodification reaching its penultimate stage in the privatization of everywhere.

      • i reckon dancingrabbit will enjoy responding, but from what i gather she has connectivity problems now and again. “the commons”: another quaint tradition.

  4. speaking of media blackouts, hello Verizon strike? seems a good place to start in connecting US labor/social activity w/the other parts of the globe, incl. w/in the US. unions are part of the problem, as one person pointed out above. has some good stuff on the Verizon strike, incl. the CWA’s efforts to ensure the strike doesn’t spread to other unions (UAW) and sectors of the economy.

    • i peeked into wsws, saw the verizon titles, but got waaay waylaid by ‘NATO-Russia war tensions laid bare at Washington summit’. like the great idjit i yam, i clicked into nato on the twit machine, and holy hell, it seems to be time for another nato diary. you’d scarcely believe the photos and attendant hubristic ejaculations.

      but i did go back to find a union thang that popular resistance thought might be some sort of hoo-ha. right. how gatekeeping dem of them:

      Hosted by the AFL-CIO, Working America and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, the day-long forum – “Labor, Politics and the Threat from the Right: A Trans-Atlantic Discussion” – brought together union leaders, academics and activists to discuss the role of organized labor in countering the global rise of the radical Right and ensuring that workers’ voices are heard through a progressive counter-narrative. Representatives from Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the U.K., and the U.S. convened to discuss innovative strategies for countering the appeal of right-wing rhetoric amongst the global working class.”

      at least in amerikka, if the afl-cio weren’t such suckers for the ptb, the right wouldn’t be ascendant, and i reckon it’s much the same in many of those nations, but it also depends on who trumka means by ‘representatives’.

      good grief, it’s hailing harrrrrrd. got lots to do, i’ll be back as i can. seems like every chore i take care of makes two more. “the sky is falling!”

      • SIGNS OF THE END ARE EVERYWHERE!!!! gawd, let’s hope so ;) it’s a very weird 60 degrees here in DC, tomorrow 50 and raining. been a weird month. and they are calling for one of the worst (hot/humid) summers ever here. not that i’m eager for that crap to start….

        from wsws:
        The Defense Policy Guidance drafted by the Department of Defense in February 1992 unambiguously asserted the hegemonic ambitions of US imperialism: “There are other potential nations or coalitions that could, in the further future, develop strategic aims and a defense posture of region-wide or global domination. Our strategy must now refocus on precluding the emergence of any potential future global competitor.”

        such statements explain a lot. let’s hope they don’t explain everthing. as talking heads said, we are on the road to nowhere….(ou topos-utopia, nowhere)

        • ah, really, i know weather ain’t climate, but this 12-sided hogan is like a guitar box, and when the lightning/thunder/hail hits it’s loud. i confess when the hail was largest and hardest, i moved out from under the skylight in the kitchen. now i know the skylights won’t break…but try to tell me that. ;-)

          yeah, well beware those coalitions you’re stimulating, you unipolar jag-offs. “why can’t we all just get along?” okay, i’ll mebbe use some of that one, too, and see if i can’t illustrate both pieces with nato ‘art’.

          ‘global competitors’. no way!

          • The “global” reference didn’t catch my attention as much as the “region-wide” reference did. Really? China can’t be dominant in China? Russia can’t be dominant in Russia? The EU can’t be dominant in Europe? Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela can’t be dominant in Latin America? Because the US must be dominant there?

            That is some wacky nationalism. Of course, in long term history, it is traditional wacky nationalism. State power implies institutional will to domination. Sooner or later, some nitwit makes the personal decision to be the instrument of that institutional will.

            • heh; good points: the hegemon must rule!. i’ll try to meld both pieces together and illustrate them w/ nato art…tomorrow. er…’personal decision instrument is kinda up for grabs for entries, no? are the las vegas betting houses offering odds yet? oooo, tasteless, wd. sigh, i’ll try to be better in the a.m.

              sleep (well) if ya gottem.

            • ping! it wasn’t the ‘global’ that caught my eye, but the use of the term ‘competition’ that made me chuckle. let’s establish the pecking order, the Race for Resource, all that… settle the ‘One Ring That Rules Them All’

  5. NYT reporting that the national academy of sciences finds that GMO’s are “safe.” while remaining agnostic on whether glyphosate is carcinogenic. curious. the finding is not suprising but NYT says w/a straight face none of the 20 NAS committee members have connections to the GMO industry. uh huh, sure.

  6. heh. i dunno about the Times claim, but there are lots of ways to provide pressure to ‘science’, aren’t there? i didn’t find the NYT piece, but found this report about the report, lol in the twittersphere. looks like it contains lots of weasel sentences to me. hard to care enough to read very far into it, though.

    ack; i should have left the study hashtag for reading the comments; my stars.

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