Riots in the Proletarian Districts. Capitalism is Responsible for Police Crimes, Oppression and Poverty. It is Capitalism that Must be Fought, it is Capitalism that Must be Overthrown!
(«Proletarian»; Nr. 20; Autumn-Winter 2023)
The country has just been rocked by a third night of unrest. More or less violent clashes have occurred in virtually all the administrative areas of the Paris region (and in Paris itself) and have spread to many large or medium-sized provincial towns: Lille, Roubaix, Strasbourg, Grenoble, Lyon, Saint Etienne, Marseille, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Tours, Rennes, Rouen, Nantes, Nancy, Nice, Brest, Pau, Amiens, Annecy, Macon... the list is too long to list them all. The massive mobilization of the various police forces (40,000 police and gendarmes according to official figures), the blockade of public transport or the occasional curfew have failed to maintain order in the proletarian districts. Dozens of public buildings and police stations were attacked by young people with Molotov cocktails or firecrackers and fireworks; shops were looted and vehicles set on fire, while the police fired tear gas grenades and rubber bullets at insurgents; nearly 900 people were arrested...
The cause of this anger is known. The young Nahel (17) was shot at point-blank range during a car check in Nanterre by a police officer who pleaded «legitimate self-defense»; however, amateur video footage showed that the officer was not put in danger and that his fellow patrolman shouted «kill him!»: it was therefore a crime. Subsequent information from police sources claimed that Nahel had a criminal record («as long as his arm» according to a far-right C. News journalist), suggesting that he was a young delinquent who had gotten only what he deserved – this «information» was false.
When the police were proven to be lying, the government, remembering the three weeks of unrest during the «suburban uprising» in 2005, tried to calm the situation. President Macron therefore described the policeman’s action as «incomprehensible and unjustifiable», drawing the ire of the far right and the police union «Alliance», and organized a minute’s silence in parliament. However, these antics had no effect on the anger of the population.
«Young people are right to rebel»
This is the reaction of many proletarians from these neighborhoods who have testified in front of the cameras (1). After the first riots, Macron declared that they were «characterized by scenes of violence (…) against the institutions and the Republic» which are «unjustifiable». But for proletarians, young or old, what is unjustifiable and increasingly unbearable is the situation into which these institutions and this bourgeois republic are finally plunging them! Apart from police crime, it is this situation that provokes revolt.
Democrats blame the socialist government for passing a 2017 law that makes it easier for police to use guns during roadside checks and call for, don’t laugh, better «training of police officers in the defense of human rights». While it is true that since then an average of one person a month has been killed by the police in France under these circumstances (compared to one person a decade in Germany!), police crimes did not wait for this law: the proof of this is the numerous cases of police violence that regularly make headlines and usually end in acquittals. The talk of «police at the service of the citizens» is a pitiful and empty platitude: the basic role of the police is to defend the bourgeois order with violence, whether potential or overt, and it is at the service of the violence of exploitative capitalist social relations.
The fight against police violence is inseparable from the fight against capitalism. The powerful outburst of youth revolt in proletarian neighborhoods is a resounding distancing from the legalist and pacifist policies of reformist trade unions and political organizations that are the fulcrum of collaboration between the classes. These policies, which have been the cause of all the defeats of the workers, are responsible for the powerlessness of the proletariat in the face of the bourgeoisie and its state.
But for the revolt to be anything other than a dazzling flash, a momentary outburst of anger, it will have to find the path of organized revolutionary struggle, of class struggle against this whole system of misery, oppression and repression, which alone can avenge all the victims.
This will not happen overnight; apart from repression, there are still many obstacles to overcome, to avoid renewed efforts to channel the course in another direction, to get rid of false «leftist» or «democratic» friends; but the current spontaneous revolt, by at least temporarily disturbing the suffocating social peace, objectively contributes to moving closer to this perspective.
(1) See for instance: https://www.leparisien.fr/video/video-je-suis-content-que-les-jeunes-se-revoltent-a-nanterre-des-habitants-tres-en-colere-apres-la-morte-de-nahel-28-06-2023-OHMOZ 7V7 GFHSJONRQ YYFZ MOZ CI.php
June, 30th 2023
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