A call to break with the electoral circus
(Translated from an anonymous leaflet distributed in the September 15th 2016 demo in Paris. All brackets are translators notes)
There has been much water under the bridge since the Socialist Party (Parti Socialiste, PS — party of French president Hollande) backed down from holding their summer congress in Nantes after a simple call to crash it. This came at the end of four months during which the movement against the “Work!” law (reform to the labour code) managed to dictate the terms and timeline of the debate. Four months during which the many attempts at concealing the real political questions of our present moment by launching the presidential campaign, with it’s clever catch phrases and insignificant revelations, were utterly rejected. It took the summer, the dead-time of the vacation season, and a few terrorist attacks to allow the elites to climb back into the saddle. The effect was immediate: public discourse immediately took a nose dive into the most crass nonsense, to such a degree that Marine Le Pen (leader of the far-right Front National) stepped in to moderate and the Prime Minister set off philosophizing about the burkini. We turned our backs for a moment and politicians of all stripes set up their little electoral and rhetorical machines, their pathetic personal ambitions, their desperate ideological mantras — each in their place, each with their own angle, taking aim at each other and setting each other traps that they end up caught in themselves. This whole spectacle wouldn’t deserve our attention if it didn’t have such real effects on our relationships and mental health, if it wasn’t able to suck all the air out of the room. We’re left with an even more intolerable atmosphere than what we had before the movement against the “Work!” law.
An honest description of the present moment could well be just a list of the crises, in every sphere, and we known well that no political party or politician is actually capable of dealing with them. They find themselves at the helm of a boat that no longer responds to their commands and that on the scale of the nation, at once too vast and too limited, they are powerless. Out of everything, their claims to be “protecting” us from a world in chaos are by far the most disgusting and exaggerated. This whole spectacle of directionless directors, ignorant experts, childish would-be leaders, the let-down expectations that they persist in reigniting, all the confusion that they spread, are not only part of the problem rather than the solution, but in fact keep us from finding new ways of engaging. The state of the world is such that the clowns of traditional politics no longer make us laugh. Their tricks are obscene and it’s harder and harder to remain a spectator.
Hollande sees himself as a “bastion of democracy” and Cambadélis (Secretary of the PS) states that, “This time, they reject everyone, Sarkozy (former French president running on the right), Hollande, Juppé (right-wing candidate), Mélenchton (left-wing candidate) just as well as Marine Le Pen. The presidential election will turn on who is least rejected on the day of the vote.” We believe it’s urgent to make the campaign and the elections impossible, just like the PS’ summer congress in Nantes became impossible. The Nantes assembly “À l’abordage!” (attacking an enemy ship) didn’t even need to make a threat or carry out a strike or a riot to make them back down. It was enough to just constitute a force locally to provoke a retreat by the ruling party, to have all the groups that gave life to the movement against the “Work!” law — independent unionists, clear-sighted youth, politically active retirees, communists bored of politics, anarchists skeptical of all ideology, activists disgusted by the left, those who reject promises of security, workers at the end of their rope, academics hostile to all management, etc — come together in an assembly and to begin organizing with all sorts of people elsewhere in France. We also see that this was an opportunity for the PS to avoid putting their internal divisions on display, but these divisions didn’t come from nowhere and are the indirect result of the struggle we have been waging these past months.
We, some anonymous participants in the front of the demo (where people assemble for a more combative march outside the control of the unions), are calling for assemblies within the space created by the movement against the “Work!” law, like “À l’abordage!” in Nantes. We want assemblies that are relentless against politicians and that organize to deal with the real problems we face today, be they local or global. We are calling for the creation of an oppositional public and political space, everywhere in France, that reveals the weakness of the sorry political spectacle. We call to make sure that there is no presidential election, in that sense that, even though some intransigents will insist on voting, it will be a non-event compared to our own political momentum. Let’s start without delay — apparently, some people want to make the September 15th demonstration the funeral march of the struggle against the “Work!” law, but let’s make it instead the beginning of the scuttling of the electoral circus.
Let’s sink the presidential campaign!