Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Paris Surrealist Movement on the Riots

Link above takes you to an interesting report about the recent unpleasantries in suburban Paris: weeks of fire, rage, destruction, miscommunication, brutality, accusations, gangsters, youngsters, frustration, racism, and all the rest of 21st century life.
With much of France now in the mood to return to "normal" (otherwise known as the conditions which led to the riots in the first place), this report is worth more careful perusal.

The report is admirably evenhanded, if undiplomatic. But perhaps some frankness is needed in the Francophone world. Coming out of the fire phoenix-like, with an unmistakably avantiste tone of perceptive conceiving and conceptual perceiving, this report is signed by one "Paris Group of the Surrealist Movement". Which now raises a hopeful question: Who are they, and have they more to say?

Here's their conclusion:

"In a society in which all previous forms of belonging, and therefore of associated consciousness, have been wiped out, these events testify to the eruptive and uncontrollable return of the social question, firstly under an immediately negative form, that fire—emblem of all apocalypses— symbolizes. Indeed, unlike the rebellions in Los Angeles in 1965 and in 1992, the population of the districts here did not massively join the rioters. And in contrast to May ‘68 neither poetry nor brilliant ideas are on the barricades. No wildcat strike is going to spread widely with these troubles. But the rulers have been given a good hotfoot and have been forced to unmask themselves.

A democracy which, in order to face up to a quantitatively limited movement (considering the number of participants), has been obliged to put back in force an old colonial law, but also to reveal its constituent deception: that is, where the police abuse their powers, the state of emergency gives to their abuse the legitimacy that it lacks. What we long ago called "individual freedom" is today known as the “discretionary power” of the cops.

In a flash, such warning lights have revealed—during these November nights—the return of a possibility that seemed to be lost: that of throwing power into a panic even when its forces are harassed in a disorganized manner through the whole territory by a handful of forsaken social casualties. From now on, we can imagine the strength of an uprising that would—beyond the inhabitants of the ghettos—include the whole population suffering from the rise of impoverishment, and would turn into civil war against the organs of capital and the state.

Beyond recent infernos presented as the very image of a nightmare, it is time that the dream of concrete utopia is raised anew."

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If you can read French, they've got a website at:


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