Friday, November 30, 2007

Lovesong, by Ted Hughes

* He loved her and she loved him.
His kisses sucked out her whole past and future or tried to He had no other appetite She bit him she gnawed him she sucked She wanted him complete inside her Safe and sure forever and ever Their little cries fluttered into the curtains Her eyes wanted nothing to get away Her looks nailed down his hands his wrists his elbows He gripped her hard so that life Should not drag her from that moment He wanted all future to cease He wanted to topple with his arms round her Off that moment's brink and into nothing Or everlasting or whatever there was Her embrace was an immense press To print him into her bones His smiles were the garrets of a fairy palace Where the real world would never come Her smiles were spider bites So he would lie still till she felt hungry His words were occupying armies Her laughs were an assassin's attempts His looks were bullets daggers of revenge His glances were ghosts in the corner with horrible secrets His whispers were whips and jackboots Her kisses were lawyers steadily writing His caresses were the last hooks of a castaway Her love-tricks were the grinding of locks And their deep cries crawled over the floors Like an animal dragging a great trap His promises were the surgeon's gag Her promises took the top off his skull She would get a brooch made of it His vows pulled out all her sinews He showed her how to make a love-knot Her vows put his eyes in formalin At the back of her secret drawer Their screams stuck in the wall Their heads fell apart into sleep like the two halves Of a lopped melon, but love is hard to stop In their entwined sleep they exchanged arms and legs In their dreams their brains took each other hostage In the morning they wore each other's face *

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Have They No Shame? by Amy Goodman

Posted on Nov 27, 2007

By Amy Goodman

Every Saturday, the president of the United States gives a radio address to the nation. It is followed by the Democratic response, usually given by a senator or representative. This past Saturday the Democrats chose retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez to give their response, the same general accused in at least three lawsuits in the U.S. and Europe of authorizing torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners in Iraq. This, combined with the Democrats’ endorsement of Attorney General Michael Mukasey despite his unwillingness to label waterboarding as torture, indicates that the Democrats are increasingly aligned with President Bush’s torture policies.

Sanchez headed the Army’s operations in Iraq from June 2003 to June 2004. In September 2003, Sanchez issued a memo authorizing numerous techniques, including “stress positions” and the use of “military working dogs” to exploit “Arab fear of dogs” during interrogations. He was in charge when the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison occurred.

Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who headed Abu Ghraib at the time, worked under Gen. Sanchez. She was demoted to colonel, the only military officer to be punished. She told me about another illegal practice, holding prisoners as so-called ghost detainees: “We were directed on several occasions through Gen. [Barbara] Fast or Gen. Sanchez. The instructions were originating at the Pentagon from Secretary Rumsfeld, and we were instructed to hold prisoners without assigning a prisoner number or putting them on the database, and that is contrary to the Geneva Conventions. We all knew it was contrary to the Geneva Conventions.” In addition to keeping prisoners off the database there were other abuses, she said, like prison temperatures reaching 120 to 140 degrees, dehydration and the order from Gen. Geoffrey Miller to treat prisoners “like dogs.”

And it’s not just about treatment of prisoners. In 2006, Karpinski testified at a mock trial, called the Bush Crimes Commission. She revealed that several female U.S. soldiers had died of dehydration by denying themselves water. They were afraid to go to the latrine at night to urinate, for fear of being raped by fellow soldiers: “Because the women, in fear of getting up in the hours of darkness to go out to the portolets or the latrines, were not drinking liquids after 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon. And in 120-degree heat or warmer, because there was no air conditioning at most of the facilities, they were dying from dehydration in their sleep. What [Sanchez’s deputy commanding general, Walter Wojdakowski] told the surgeon to do was, ‘Don’t brief those details anymore. And don’t say specifically that they’re women. You can provide that in a written report, but don’t brief it in the open anymore.’” Karpinski said Sanchez was at that briefing.

Former military interrogator Tony Lagouranis, author of “Fear Up Harsh,” described the use of dogs: “We were using dogs in the Mosul detention facility, which was at the Mosul airport. We would put the prisoner in a shipping container. We would keep him up all night with music and strobe lights, stress positions, and then we would bring in dogs. The prisoner was blindfolded, so he didn’t really understand what was going on, but we had the dog controlled. The dog would be barking and jumping on the prisoner, and the prisoner wouldn’t really understand what was going on.”

Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch elaborated on Sanchez: “For those three months of mayhem that were occurring right under his nose, he never stepped in. And, also, he misled Congress about it. He was asked twice at a congressional hearing whether he ever approved the use of guard dogs. This was before the memo came out. And both times he said he never approved it. [W]e finally got the actual memo, in which he approves ‘exploiting Arab fear of dogs.’ ” Brody dismissed the military report clearing Sanchez of any wrongdoing: “It’s just not credible for the Army to keep investigating itself and keep finding itself innocent.”

This is not about politics. This is about the moral compass of the nation. The Democrats may be celebrating a retired general who has turned on his commander in chief. But the public should take pause.

The Democrats had a chance to draw a line in the sand, to absolutely require Mukasey to denounce waterboarding before his elevation to attorney general. Now they have chosen as their spokesman a discredited general, linked to the most egregious abuses in Iraq. The Bush administration passed Sanchez over for a promotion, worried about reliving the Abu Ghraib scandal during the 2006 election year. Now it’s the Democrats who have resuscitated him. Have they no shame?

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 500 stations in North America.

© 2007 Amy Goodman

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bush’s Twenty-Billion Dollar Arms Sale to Saudi Arabia

The Zionist Power Configuration Defeats Big Oil, the Military Industrial Complex, the White House and the Pentagon

The debate on which forces determine US Middle East policy has cut across the usual political spectrum: On one side most neo-conservative and progressive writers, academics and journalists argue that the military-industrial complex and Big Oil interests are the most influential forces shaping US policy. On the other, a small group of conservative and leftist writers and a few academics have identified what some call the Israel or Zionist Lobby and others refer to the Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC) as the prevailing influence in deciding US strategic policies in the Middle East.

While the debate rages over who and what interests got us into the Iraq war and the escalating confrontation with Iran, there is no better test of conflicting positions than the proposed US sale of $20 billion dollars of military equipment to Saudi Arabia.

The Pentagon led by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates agreed to the sale; it was backed by President Bush, Vice President Cheney and at least tacitly by the entire executive branch, including the National Security Council. All of the biggest US, European and Asian multi-national petroleum companies, refiners and importers were in favor of upgrading the military defensive capacity of the world’s biggest oil producer since hundreds of billions in commercial and financial profits are transacted there every year. The US Middle East Command (CENTCOM) with major air bases and strategic logistic support systems in Saudi Arabia could not but support Saudi acquisition of a defensive high-tech air reconnaissance system.

Saudi Arabia is the most reliable and biggest single supplier of petroleum to the US world-wide. Saudi Arabia has been a staunch ally of the US — more like a client state — in all the US military and surrogate wars and interventions from the co-financing of anti-Soviet Muslim fundamentalist in Afghanistan, the attack on Yugoslavia and support of break-away Bosnia and Kosovo, to the two Gulf Wars and present confrontation with Iran, to its opposition of each and every Arab nationalist or leftist regime over the past 60 years. From the perspective of US imperial interests, dominance and influence in Asia, the Balkans and especially the Middle East, one would think that a military sale worth $20 billion dollars to the Saudi monarchy would be automatically and overwhelmingly approved by the US Congress.

This is especially the case because a $20 billion dollar sale will generate thousands of new jobs and will lessen the huge trade deficit. At the recent OPEC meeting, the Saudis strongly opposed dumping hundreds of billions of depreciating dollars they currently hold as foreign reserves — or even discussing the matter.

There is no greater contrast from the point of view of costs-benefit in comparing Saudi Arabia to Israel. The latter is subsidized by the US, having been gifted over $120 billion dollars over the last 30 years, while it competes, as the second largest arms exporter, with the US-military industrial complex thus costing American jobs, and it supplies absolutely no strategic materials to the US economy. Indeed, Israel has direct access to the most up-to-date US funded military technology, which it then sells to its clients. This is in stark contrast to Saudi Arabia’s servile relation with the US. Israel has constantly demanded and received US support and financing for its wars, its illegal colonization of Palestinian land, and it has unwavering US support for its repudiation of international law and numerous violations of United Nations mandates. While Saudi Arabia supports the US economy and is a strategic supplier of petroleum, Israel drains the US economy and secures its petroleum from it. Beginning in early 2007, the entire ZPC mobilized to block the US arms and military technology sales to Saudi Arabia. Zionist pressure was so intense and its control over Congress was so evident to the White House and Pentagon that Defense Secretary Gates did not even try to counter the ZPC’s campaign in the US Congress. Instead he went straight to the ZPC’s control center in Israel and not with empty hands. He pleaded with Israel to call of its American attack dogs in exchange for a ‘donation’ of over $30 billion dollars in US military handouts to Israel over the next ten years. Olmert accepted Gates offer: The US had paid the price but still the ZPC did not turn over their hostage Congress. President Bush and Secretary Gates were convinced that Israel would muzzle the Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations to allow the Saudi sale to go through. This did not happen. Why should it? President Bush could not withdraw the well-publicized pay-off to Israel; it was already in the legislative books. He could not retaliate; the ZPC-controlled Congress would oppose any and all counter measures.

So Bush and Gates went ahead and sent the bill to Congress authorizing the $20 billion sales to Saudi Arabia, a trillion dollar economy with a two-bit military wholly dependent on its US military protector.

Immediately the ZPC rounded up its automatic 190 members of the House of Representatives to sign a letter opposing the sale. The ZPC formulated the position embodied in the letter and oversaw its draft with the collaboration of its co-religionists in Congress. Zionist Congress members Shelley Berkeley and Anthony Weiner teamed up with Michael Ferguson. The Zion-Cons claimed justifiably that they could mobilize over three quarters of the Congress on any issue affecting Israel’s ‘security’. Zionist lawmakers claimed, “the sale would undermine Israel’s superiority in the region”. Every major independent military think tank would dispute this argument since Israel is the only nuclear power in the region, has the biggest and most technologically sophisticated air force and missile system, while Saudi Arabia and all the Gulf States have trouble even controlling local ground level bomb throwers.

There are two likely outcomes both demonstrating categorically that it is the ZPC that dictates US policies in the Middle East:

The military sales will not fly.

The military sale will be approved on conditions that Israel is privy to all its details and can modify or omit any part of the agreement.

The ZPC was even able to strong arm the Congress-people who have made a lifelong career out of aggressively promoting the interests of Big Oil (BO) and the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) to switch sides and vote against the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia — BO’s strategic partner and the MIC’s best overseas customer. Congress members from BO states like Texas and states with large military industries like California endorsed the ZPC letter prejudicing their constituents and big campaign financers. The feeble ‘lobbying’ by BO and the MIC in favor of the White House were crushed by the ZPC Congressional juggernaut.

The major trade unions of the AFL-CIO, like the steel workers, machinists, oil and chemical workers, electrical workers — whose members’ jobs were at stake, did not protest, let alone challenge the ZPC, demonstrating the high degree of Zionist influence over the trade union bosses. The obvious point is that the Congress and the ZFL-CIO are both Zionist colonized institutions.

The issue is not whether the US should or should not sell arms to Saudi Arabia (I oppose all arms sales and the MIC and BO around the world). The fundamental issue is whether we, the citizens, the elected representatives and the trade unionists in the United States, can be free of foreign colonization to decide the issue. The issue is whether we are or can be a free and independent nation or a subject of a tiny powerful elite acting for a foreign power.

The narrative on the US proposed multi-billion dollar arms sales to a wealthy third rate military power demonstrates once again that Israeli interests have priority over US trade, jobs and geopolitical interests. Secondly the narrative confirms that the Israeli state dictates US political relations in the Middle East through its US conduit: the ZPC. Finally it refutes the Zionist geo-politicians and ‘oil’ and ‘military experts’ who cover up for the ZPC by falsely blaming Big Oil for policies they oppose because it prejudices their strategic partnership.

By blackmail and deceit, the Israelis got their additional $30 billion dollars over the next ten years and they double-crossed ‘their’ president by unleashing their Fifth Column to block his military sales to the Saudis. And if Bush dares a complaint, he will be added to the list of ‘anti-Semites’ — the only honorable list in his entire 8 years in office.

James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books). His latest book is The Power of Israel in the United States (Clarity Press, 2006). His forthcoming book is Rulers and Ruled (Bankers, Zionists and Militants (Clarity Press, Atlanta). He can be reached at: Read other articles by James, or visit James's website.


"PRONOIA IS THE ANTIDOTE FOR PARANOIA: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings" is available for sale at To read news and features from the book, go here: Here's an excerpt: BRAINSCRAMBLING Relax. Put yourself in a comfortable position. Breathe deeply. Let the tension stream out of your head and neck and shoulders. Imagine that your worries are flowing out of you into the good earth below. Say "ahhhhh" in your softest tone. Dissolve the constricted energy in your chest and belly and pelvis, and let it trickle away. Allow the stress in your legs and feet to evaporate. With each breath, send out a wave of love to your entire body. Relax even more deeply. Become aware that all of the disquiet within you is departing. Your knots are unraveling. Your congestion is dissipating. Now close your eyes and imagine that it's a bright and warm summer day at the beach. You're sitting in a cozy chair. The sky is a deep, infinite blue. A balmy breeze caresses your cheeks. Your body feels strong and serene. You're in harmony with the flow of life. Look around you. See the sparkling white sand. Feel the gentle waves swirl around your ankles. As you bask in this beauty and calm, imagine that you're reading the Wall Street Journal and listening to the soothingly riotous music of a klezmer polka band playing free-form jazz with a hip-hop beat. Nearby is a shopping mall you have recently bought and converted into a country club for poor people. A satellite phone and a wireless laptop are by your side because you must always be available to conduct late-breaking business deals, buy or sell stocks, or give spiritual advice. Amazing but true: You are both a billionaire and a wise counselor. This blend of wealth and sagacity has led you to become a philanthropic healer. Through cash donations and gifts of insight, you have helped thousands of people transform themselves into gorgeous geniuses skilled at expressing their souls' codes. Relax even more deeply. Tune in to the understanding that you are a furiously curious soul full of orgiastic compassion for everything alive. You are an ongoing experiment in lyrical logic, a slow explosion of uncanny delight, a sacred agent devoted to breaking the taboo against feeling crafty joy. Now say this: I have only barely imagined the blessings that await me. As interesting and as full as my life is, I'm ready for it to become even more so. With this declaration, you have given the future permission to transform you into a more awakened version of yourself than you ever knew was possible. Continue your cooperation with the glorious fate that's coming your way. Speak the following affirmations, which have been scientifically formulated to free you of all rigid beliefs that might cause stupidity: I kick my own ass and wash my own brain. I push my own buttons and trick my own pain. I burn my own flags and roast my own heroes. I mock my own fears and cheer my own zeroes. Nothing can stop me from teasing my shadow. I'm full of empty and backwards bravado. My wounds are tattoos that reveal my true beauty. I turn tragic to magic and make bliss my duty. I honor my faults till they become virtues. I play jokes on my nightmares till I'm sure they won't hurt you. I sing anarchist lullabies to lesbian trees and love songs with punch lines to anonymous seas. I won't accept gifts that infringe on my freedom I shun sacred places that stir up my boredom. I change my name daily, pretend to be nobody. I fight for the truth if it's majestically rowdy. I brag about what I can't do and don't know. I take off my clothes to those I oppose. I'm so far beyond lazy, I work like a god. I'm totally crazy; in fact that's my job. It's all true. You're completely wacko. Throbbingly, succulently, shimmeringly insane. And that's good news. This understanding frees you up to sing in the acid rain and cultivate global warming in your pants. You are in prime condition to study the difference between stupid insecurity and smart insecurity until you get it right. You realize beyond a doubt that everyone who believes in the devil is the devil. You feel a longing to stick out your tongue and cross your eyes and put on your most beautifully ugly face as you sneak up on yourself from behind and whisper "boo!" And you see the healthy wisdom of now and then inserting into your conversations the following quote, uttered by the Baron in the film The Adventures of Baron Munchausen: "Your reality, sir, is lies and balderdash, and I'm happy to say I have no grasp of it whatsoever." And congratulations. Every cell in your perfect animal body is beginning to purr with luminous gratitude for the enormity of the riches you endlessly receive. You are becoming aware that each of your heart's beats originates as a gift of love directly from the Goddess herself. Any residues of hatred that had been tainting your libido are leaving you for good. You are becoming telepathically linked to the world's entire host of secret teachers, pacifist warriors, philosopher clowns, and bodhisattvas disguised as convenience store clerks. In other words, you're on the verge of détente with your evil twin. And you're ready to submit to a multiple-choice test, which goes like this: How does it make you feel when I urge you to confess profound secrets to people who are not particularly interested? Does it make you want to: a. cultivate a healthy erotic desire for a person you'd normally never be attracted to in a million years; b. stop helping your friends glamorize their pain; c. imitate a hurricane in the act of extinguishing a forest fire; d. visualize Buddha or Mother Teresa at the moment of orgasm; e. steal something that's already yours. The right answer, of course, is any answer you thought was correct. Congratulations. You're even smarter than you knew. To seal your victory, repeat the following affirmation: "Stressed" is "desserts" spelled backward. Now remain here for a while in this state of supernatural relaxation. As you begin to return to normal waking consciousness, don't return to normal waking consciousness. Instead, practice feeling the confidence that you can invoke the scent of wild honey in a sunlit meadow any time you feel an urge to. In honor of your enhanced power to be yourself, I hereby reward you with a host of fresh titles. From now on you will be known as the Senior Vice President of Strawberry Fields and Hummingbirds, and the Deputy Director of Green Lights and Purple Hearts. Consider yourself, as well, to be the new Puzzle-Master Supreme, the Chief Custodian of Secret Weapons, and Field Commander of Free Lunches and Poetic Licenses.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Moral Primitivism Anyone? A Satirical Examination of an Apologia for Industrialized Torture

“Again, if PETA is putting something out, I will always have my doubts - they see things one way and one way only. Theirs. In many ways the activists in this country are terrorists of a kind….” [Excerpt from an email written by a heavily indoctrinated and reactionary US American]

By Jason Miller


For a year now I have been an ethical vegetarian. Last Thanksgiving, I made what I thought was an enlightened moral decision to stop eating meat and to severely restrict my egg and dairy consumption. However, an email recently hit my inbox that presents such a powerful argument justifying the wanton torture and slaughter of animals (so we can please our palates) that my moral sensibilities and capacity to reason have been utterly disarmed. Signed with a cryptic “JC,” this missive pummeled me with points I had not even considered when I made what I now rightly view as my ridiculous decision to go “meatless.”

In fact, rarely a day goes by that I don’t catch scent of the pungent aroma of the famous Kansas City barbeque I still crave—one can barely travel a mile or two in KC without finding oneself in olfactory range of restaurants that prepare extraordinarily delicious servings of non-human animal flesh. I fully admit that I miss devouring tender, succulent sauce-drenched ribs, burnt ends, sliced beef, brisket….As I write this, I’m salivating like one of Pavlov’s dogs tethered to the Cathedral Tower in Limerick on a Sunday morning….

What an extraordinary dilemma JC has created for me. At times I am still consumed by an almost overwhelming temptation to indulge myself in the consumption of one of my fellow animals. Feasting on sentient beings that had endured tortured, miserable existences (existences that were mere warm-ups for the sheer savagery that awaited them in the slaughterhouse) was one of my favorite pastimes.

So the question is, do I continue denying myself the sublime pleasure of dining on animal tissue in order to appease my conscience, or do I embrace JC’s brilliant justification of meat consumption and satiate my hunger with a thick rare burger drowned in Heinz?

Allow me to examine and dissect some of JC’s eloquent and illuminating conclusions:

JC: “I can’t be held responsible for how turkeys or any animals are slaughtered. I’m never going to give up meat or fish or fowl, as our diet does require us to have protein and other nutrients that we receive from these products and I and many others enjoy eating them.”

So forget the notion of the banality of evil. As a consumer, even if I eat meat I am absolved of ALL responsibility for the unimaginable horrors the producers inflict upon factory-farmed animals from “cradle to grave.”

For Christ’s sake! I’ve been subsisting for over a year without said “protein and other nutrients” from meat! I am a miracle of modern science!

And I find it nearly impossible to disagree with JC’s statement that “I and many others enjoy eating them.” (The “them” being animals of course— I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy eating meat). As I was growing up my mother frequently confronted me with the question, “If everyone else jumped off a bridge would you do it too?” Obviously the “correct” response was “no.” Sorry, Mom, but JC’s lemming logic is a hell of a lot more enticing than going against the grain and “doing the right thing.” Screw that—I’ll have the porterhouse, please!

JC: “People have to eat and the bulk of their protein comes from animal sources. They have been doing it since the cave man and it isn’t going to stop anytime soon. Tofu just doesn’t cut it for most people as a meat substitute, nor those grotesque meat imitations made from veggie products and then shaped into meat like looking products.”

Now that is a truly impenetrable Maginot Line of reasoning. I can’t begin to argue with the assertion that people have to eat. And the bulk of my protein did indeed come from animal sources for about 39 years of my life. JC is a tough nut to crack! And to think I’ve actually been eating tofu and “those grotesque meat imitations made from veggie products and then shaped into meat like looking products.” I cannot imagine what I’ve been thinking. Hunks of blood-saturated animal flesh, fat, and muscle that at some point in the production process were commingled with various organs, hooves, fur, and shit–forget those “grotesque meat imitations.” I can really wrap my appetite around mutilated and raw animal parts that quickly rot if they aren’t refrigerated.

Sorry Bossy, Wilbur and feathered friends. Since we human animals don’t find “meat like looking products” to be delectable, we’re going to continue confining you in dark, cramped quarters throughout your rueful lives, pumping you full of a toxic stew of antibiotics and growth hormones, causing you to grow so rapidly that you become crippled, performing surgery on you with no anesthetic, ripping out your teeth and clipping off your beaks so that when you go insane from the conditions we keep you under you can attack your fellow victims without damaging our product, loading you into severely over-crowded trucks in which you will do without food or water for several days, and ultimately hanging you by your hind legs, slitting your throats, crushing your skulls, and boiling you to death.

Besides, consuming animal flesh worked well for Neanderthals and a mere 50,000 years have passed. Don’t rush us into making changes.

JC: “All the people that chose to eat vegetarian style to attempt to make a statement, can do so, but their numbers will never increase enough to make a difference in the amount of animals that are slaughtered. Its supply and demand and it appears that the demand is still there. I think a more riveting point in considering limiting human consumption of some of these products is to be more careful about the meat/fowl/fish one eats is because of all the contamination w/ e.coli, salmonella & mercury. That to me, is the real concern.”

She’s right. Every last one of us who “eat vegetarian style” just wants “to make a statement.” It has NOTHING to do with ethics, moral or conscience. We’re just showing off, carving out a niche and making a name for ourselves. And there are so damn few of us that the immutable laws of capitalism (which all good libertarians from Texas KNOW were handed down to Moses along with the Ten Commandments) will inevitably prevail. It is God’s will that we adhere to the law of supply and demand as the chief guiding principle of humanity. So when JC so astutely observes, “it appears the demand is still there,” who are we humble herbivores to argue?

And what self-respecting speciesist inflated with the hubris of humanity’s inherent right to subjugate and exploit “lesser” beings wouldn’t agree with this gem from JC?

“I think a more riveting point in considering limiting human consumption of some of these products is to be more careful about the meat/fowl/fish one eats is because of all the contamination w/ e.coli, salmonella & mercury. That to me, is the real concern.”

Fuck the non-human animals. Humans are the REAL concern. Why didn’t I think of that before I wasted 12 months of prime meat-eating time? Keep brutalizing the cows, pigs and chickens. Just take care not to get sick when you eat them.

JC: “This is not one plight that I’m going to worry about - especially since itis an American tradition. If people want to eat plain lasagne for T-day or just a green bean casserole for any holiday they can certainly do so, but it isn’t something that I would personally choose to do.”

Inflicting unconscionable pain and abuse upon non-human animals so that we can eat them is an “American tradition.” JC is right! And you don’t fuck with traditions, especially American ones. Like bombing smaller countries into the Stone Age. Manifest destinying our way across the North American continent. Installing and supporting ruthless dictators who adhere to the Washington Consensus. Wielding our economic power like a cudgel to beat sovereign nations into submission. Lynching. Jim Crow. Slavery. Native American genocide. Just to name a few.

And I have to admit that there is something fundamentally flawed with anyone who would “want to eat plain lasagna for T-day or just a green bean casserole for any holiday.” That is just plain un-American. Let’s start carving that bird!

JC: “Again, if PETA is putting something out, I will always have my doubts - they see things one way and one way only. Theirs. In many ways the activists in this country are terrorists of a kind. They think they are more civilized in their behavior but they try to terrorize people “by educating them” to the extreme conditions some animals face and are unable to be reasoned with at all. Its their way or the highway.”

“If PETA is putting something out, I will always have my doubts - they see things one way and one way only.” Amen to that, JC. Simply examine their name. Can you imagine a more arrogant, rigid group than the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals? Thanks to JC’s email, I too am beginning to harbor many doubts about them. Where the hell do Ingrid Newkirk and her band of “terrorists of a kind” get off thinking they are “more civilized in their behavior?” As human beings, don’t we have the God-given right of dominion, which would mean we can abuse animals whenever we damn well please? And PETA members, don’t you dare terrorize us with your knowledge. The reality is that we enjoy eating the flesh of dead animals and the more ignorant of their pain we remain, the better. So PETA, you can take OUR way or the highway. I think you know where the meat-eating population wants you to shove your ethics. We’re broiling pork chops tonight!

So for a year now I have engaged in this rotten behavior known as vegetarianism. I have been depriving my body of protein, have been eating “grotesque” meat substitutes for no reason, have been violating sacred American traditions, have been “making a statement,” have been engaging in a form of elitism, and have been a “terrorist of a kind.” Somebody stop this bus! I want off!

Mea culpa!

And just how many pounds of meat must I consume before I am once again practicing the “American Way of Life” and reveling in its “non-negotiable” splendor?

Jason Miller is a recovering US American middle class suburbanite who strives to remain intellectually free. He is Cyrano’s Journal Online’s associate editor ( and publishes Thomas Paine’s Corner within Cyrano’s at You can reach him at

Scientific findings on global consciousness at the Sedona Creative Life Center on Nov 30

Dr. Roger Nelson, Director of the Global Consciousness Project will speak at the Sedona Creative Life Center, 333 Schnebly Hill Road, Friday, November 30, 2007 from 7-9pm. Admission: $15.

Sedona, AZ - Dr. Roger Nelson, Director of the Princeton Global Consciousness Project presents An Epiphany of Scientific Findings on Global Consciousness at the Sedona Creative Life Center, 333 Schnebly Hill Road, Friday, November 30, 7-9 PM. Admission: $15.

Find out what scientists are discovering about how we can collectively empower global consciousness to heal the world and transform reality.

Dr. Nelson’s professional degrees are in experimental cognitive psychology, with a special focus on the lesser known aspects of perception. His primary work in design and analysis is supplemented by a background in physics, statistical methods, and multi-media production.

Until his retirement in 2002, he served as the coordinator of experimental work in the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) lab, directed by Robert Jahn in the department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, School of Engineering/Applied Science, Princeton University.

Dr. Rogers gives most of his time to the Global Consciousness Project (GCP), which he directs. The GCP is an international, multi-laboratory collaboration (independent from the PEAR program) that maintains a network of random event generators (REGs) around the world that send data continuously over the internet to a server in Princeton, NJ. The purpose is to examine subtle correlations that reflect the presence and activity of consciousness in the world.

GCP says it has learned that when millions of us share intentions and emotions created by powerful global events, such as the funerals of Princess Diana and Mother Teresa, the network shows correlations that can be interpreted as evidence for a growing global consciousness. It suggests we have the capability and responsibility for conscious evolution. We make the world we live in.

Don’t miss this opportunity to hear Dr. Nelson discuss his involvement in PEAR and the various projects in which he was involved.

For more information on the GCP, visit:

Monday, November 26, 2007

Nights of Rage: On the recent revolts in France

Original title: Le notti della collera: Sulle recenti sommosse di Francia by Filippo Argenti Translated by Barbara Stefanelli There is something knocking and knocking impatiently at our door. Sooner or later we will have to open… Many stay hidden, not only the cowards, but also those who are too calm or too refined. They do not want to get involved. But they are involved as the stream continuously drags them and their blinkers are useless. Even language fails miserably, language inherited from the old world, with its old sacrifices, its old images, and its embellishment of another era. Nothing is as it was before; old words fall on one another because they can cling to nothing new. There are heights that no joke, no witticism and no wisdom can reach. The bourgeois era is coming to an end. No one knows what is coming. Many have a dark premonition and so they are mocked. The masses also have a dark sensation about it but they are unable to express themselves and are (still) suppressed. The Old and the New, the insoluble opposition between what is and what will be, are gently fighting each other, and armed to the teeth they throw themselves against each other. A seaquake is hitting the earth. It is not just economics; it is not just a question of eating, drinking and making money. It is not just a matter of how wealth will be distributed, of who will work and who will be exploited. No, what is at stake is different: it is everything. -Kurt Tucholsky, Weltbühne, March 11 1920. INTRODUCTION This booklet is a modest contribution to understanding the recent revolts in France. Needless to say, it is not sociological or, in a nobler sense, theoretical insight. Revolts can only be understood by those who have the same needs as the rebels, that is to say by those who feel they are part of the revolt. After a brief chronology, in fact, the pages that follow pose the question of how the events of November in France concern all of us, and also try to give a possible answer. We would like to highlight a few points in this short introduction. If we take a quick look at the various revolutionary theories circulated in France, Italy and in the USA in recent years, we can see how these revolts were not at all unexpected or unpredictable. Some comrades are talking of civil war, of explosions that are difficult to identify with the places where capital concentrates and controls the exploited and of their total exposition to merchandise. Not by chance have the nineteenth century theses on the barbarians, on the collapse of any common logos of the exploited, and the ambivalence of the concept of nihilism, etc., been revised. Certain concepts express, even if in an embryonic and confused way, needs that go beyond the individual. In this sense, there exits a direct relation between these revolts and revolutionary theory. It is a kind of dialogue from a distance. According to French comrades, any attempt at a direct encounter has so far failed. Common hostility to the police or practical solidarity to the arrested has not been enough. Evidently these revolts are in themselves a theoretical suggestion, a reflection on the world. But what do they tell us? Certainly not that the insurgents want to manage this world, control production and technology from below. They do not tell us about hard-working multitudes nor of ‘Zapatista marches’ carried out by intellectual labourers for a democratic Europe. The flames in France have destroyed all social democratic illusions of integrating the poor into the society of capital. Walter Benjamin asked himself how in 1830 the Paris rioters shot at town clocks, in different parts of the city and without coordinating the action; for our part we cannot fail to reflect on why wild youths of today are burning cars. In fact, what does the car represent in contemporary society? We leave the question unanswered. If the claim of putting forward great revolutionary analyses that explain everything and that the proletarians only have to apply diligently has now disappeared, it is time that revolutionary action itself was conceived in a totally different way. Instead of the mission of taking the flag to where the first fire breaks out and the first barricade is erected, there is now the chance to put up barricades or start fires elsewhere, as an extension of the revolt, not as its political direction. In fact, the lamentations of those on the side of the insurgents who complain about the lack of any political programme are quite pathetic. To extend the revolt, however, does not mean to put oneself at the level of existing practises and multiply them (cars are burning, so we are going to burn them too), but it means deciding what must be struck, and how, to uphold the universal significance of the revolt. At the same time, to transform the angry youths of the suburbs into the new revolutionary subjects would be equally pathetic. It would be great to think that the students in struggle against precarity had taken the baton from the insurgents of November. It is not quite like that. Even if there were lots of slogans for freedom for the rebels held in jail since November (most of them underage) in the demos and meetings of March and April, actual encounters have been very few. And there have been not a few problems. During the demo in Paris on March 23, for example, a few hundred ‘youths of the suburbs’ attacked students, stole money and mobile phones, beat them and insulted them. Moreover they also attacked those fleeing from police in the middle of fighting and police attacks. These facts cannot be ignored. Territorial identities, attachment to commodities, contempt for ‘privileged’ students, etc. are effects of the problems that new social conflicts will carry with them as inheritance of a rotten society. No ideology of revolt will erase them. In order to examine the relation between the riots of November and the movements that appeared all over France against the CPE (contract of first employment) it is necessary to intertwine tales, testimonies and texts. That is why we decided to prepare two different pamphlets. If we want to avoid journalistic simplification and ambivalent rhetoric we have to grasp the living element of the experiences of struggle. For the time being we are simply offering an outline of the facts. First of all we want to clarify one banal point: the expression ‘people of the suburbs’ does not mean a thing. First, because the Paris suburbs alone have over 9 million inhabitants (and the day millions of inhabitants revolt, it will be quite another story!). Then, the cités (roughly: whole housing estates with their yards and squares) within the boundaries of the big cities were also involved in the riots. Many ‘youths of the suburbs’ study in the cities (both in the lycées, which are secondary schools, and the universities, which are much more attended in France than they are in Italy). In this sense, a great number of young and not so young people who took part in the demos, blockades and fighting in March and April were the same as those who set the French nights on fire during the autumn. According to reliable assessments, the insurgents in November were 50,000, whereas a few million people participated in the movement ‘against the CPE’. Many ‘youths of the suburbs’ in fact had a pacific attitude, while other ‘more privileged’ young people resolutely raised the level of the fighting. Statistics that explain revolts on the basis of income are a matter for sociologists. In some provincial towns (Rennes for example) the encounter between students and the so-called casseurs was quite effective from a strategic point of view, which caused Sarkozy and his men to be extremely concerned. In Paris a lot less. Obviously there are precise reasons for that. Many ‘youths of the suburbs’ find it hard to reach the demos in the capital: if they are not stopped before boarding the trains of the hinterland (Rer), they are beaten by anti-riot cops as soon as they get out of the tube. If they manage to reach the demos they are kept out by the security services of the unions, cheered by many of the students. It is petrol on the fire. Furthermore, the ones belonging to the younger groups, who are not so expert as regards direct fighting with the police, are isolated during looting and fires, and consequently they are easily arrested. Of course this does not justify their indiscriminate hatred towards the other demonstrators, but it is evidence of different social situations and ways of life. Those who experience suffocating controls by the anticrime brigade, which often end up in beatings in the streets or at police stations, find it quite strange to see marches going on with police escorting them everywhere... In other words, without ourselves falling into simplification and bearing in mind some remarkable exceptions, we can say that at present in France certain wild youths are facing practically alone a kind of struggle never seen before (since November, as well as the arson, a number of violent thefts have occurred, with gangs of youths attacking security vans with baseball clubs, …). For the revolutionaries who publicly stand on the side of revolt against the side of the State it is not so easy to be up to the situation, even in a movement of struggle that proves as radical as that of the latest months. An example will clarify this. At first the struggle was centred on the CPE, but it soon became aware that precarity does not depend on a specific contract; on the contrary it is the product of a whole social system, and cannot be reformed. Even if the movement were to finally win its specific objective (as everybody knows the government retracted the bill in question), it knew that it was still on the defensive. The step beyond was not so easy. The main slogan of the movement, which was proposed first timidly and then almost officially (that is through motions voted at the students’ meetings) became: let’s block everything. So was it. Stations, roads, universities, bus garages, and motorways: the flow of men and goods was massively interrupted, amid an atmosphere of popular complicity. Those who were not ready for fighting the police found their mode of action in the barricades, following the joyful complementarity of actions that characterizes all real movements. The angriest, however, those whose day to day existence is a life sentence between police and iron gates, concrete buildings and shopping centres, regardless of the CPE, don’t just want to block everything but also tout niquer (destroy everything). Revolutionary rhetoric, stingy with courage and sterile in organisational capacity, has practically abandoned them. There need to be many more experiences, many more fires and a lot more looting. But the road is open. This booklet and the coming one (‘Nights of Rage’ will be followed by ‘Days of Refusal’) are a small contribution so that these experiences are adopted, discussed, and spread in Italy. What’s happening in France today is a sort of ‘weapon mill’ with which to sharpen our ideas and practices, in the night as well as in the day. May 2006 Nights of Rage First night: October 27-281 Two teenagers, Ziad, 17 years old, and Bouna, 15 years old, are electrocuted and die after taking shelter in a power station while fleeing police in Clichy-sous-Bois (Seine-Saint-Denise). Another youth, Metin, is seriously wounded. At first police, the prefect and the home secretary deny that the youths were being chased. A second official version released later states that the youths were probably committing a theft in a yard and were therefore escaping. This version is not confirmed by the surviving boy who, according to the investigators, ‘does not remember anything’. The local investigating magistrate claims that the youths ‘were not criminals’ as their police records were clean. Later he also confirms that they were running away from a routine identification and therefore they were not committing any theft. The escape, which also involved other boys, was due to the fact that some of them did not have identity documents, including Metin (who was waiting for his status to be recognized). As the news spreads, ‘uncontrolled gangs of dozens of youths’ (to quote the words of fire brigade officials) give vent to their rage. They pelt firemen, who have come in aid of the electrocuted youths, with stones; then they destroy a few bus stops, set fire to 23 cars (including police cars and council vehicles) and skips, attack a commercial store, a school, a post office and the city hall. 300 police officers try to deal with the youths’ rage for a few hours. Second night: October 28-29 About 400 youths fight with police by throwing Molotovs and stones in Chêne-Pointu (where Ziad and Bouna lived). Shots are fired at a CRS vehicle (French anti-riot brigade). During the night a dozen policemen and a journalist are wounded and about thirty cars and many skips are burnt. 19 people are stopped, 14 of whom are held in custody. The police union ask for more power, on the pretext of shots fired at police. Sarkozy announces that all police cars will be equipped with video cameras. Third night: October 29-30 On Saturday October 29 500 inhabitants of Clichy-sous-Bois organise a silent march in memory of the two electrocuted teenagers. Some demonstrators wear white t-shirts with the names of the two victims and the words ‘dead for nothing’. In the night skips and cars are set fire to but no fights with the police occur. A dozen youths carrying hammers and petrol cans are stopped. Fourth night: October 29-30 Objects are thrown against police in the Forestière area. The CRS shoot a teargas cannister inside a mosque where a group of women are praying. As they leave the mosque, the latter are abused by the policemen: ‘Go home bitches and look after your children’. A Muslim resident in Clichy claims: ‘If this had happened in a synagogue they would have said it was a scandal’. As a result of the fighting, 6 policemen are wounded and 11 people are stopped. Fifth night: October 31 - November 1 On October 31 the two dead boys’ parents refuse to meet home secretary Sarkozy, who had called the youths of the suburbs ‘scum’. The same day three youths (one French, a Moroccan without documents and a refugee from Cote d’Ivoire), who had been stopped the previous days in Clichy-sous-Bois, face summary trial and are sentenced to 8 months, two of which to be spent in jail, on charges of assaulting police. Another 5 youths are arrested and awaiting trial. ‘You are locking us up without any evidence’, they scream as they hear the news of their arrest. Groups of adults organise rigorously Muslim (Le Monde) social service units, in order to try to avert further violence. The rebels have no intention of following their suggestions as they trick them and manage to attack police with stones and Molotovs. More cars are set on fire and skips set alight: the fire brigade and police are punctually welcomed with stones from the surrounding streets and estates when they turn up. Police then shoot teargas and flash-balls (rubber bullets). The metropolitan police garage in Montfermeil, close to Clichy-sous-Bois, is also set fire to and more fires occur in other parts of the region resulting in a total of one hundred burnt out cars. Sixth night: November 1-2 The revolt spreads all over France. 228 cars are set on fire throughout the country, most of which in the Seine-Saint-Denis area where many police cars and fire engines are also burnt. According to the government, this is the result of ‘a normal day’s urban violence’. In other departments involved in the revolt direct battles with police are quite rare. The strategy of the rebels, in fact, consists in forming small groups that move rapidly and light fires, avoiding frontal battles with police. Home secretary Sarkozy claims: ‘We won’t be soft with those who disobey the law so that we can better help all the others’ (Le Parisien). Seventh night: November 2-3 Roughly 400 vehicles are set on fire all over France. In the suburbs of Paris not only are cars set alight but there are fights with police and attacks on a police station, a commercial store and a prête-a-porter shop. A few cars are burnt just outside the palace of the prefecture in Bobigny. In other departments (Hauts-de-Seine and Aulnay-sous-Bois, both in the north) Molotovs are hurled at police stations. Three journalists of France 2, the State television, have to abandon their car in flames in front of dozens of rebels: soon it is only a burnt out wreck. A few police officers are wounded; a fireman suffers second-degree burns as he is hit in the face by a Molotov bottle. A Renault car showroom, a few schools and a bank (in Sevran) are also set fire to. Gunshots are fired at the CRS and the police in La Courneuve and Saint-Denis. Furthermore in La Courneuve Molotov bottles are launched against the site of Eurocopter, whereas in Clichy-sous-Bois a fire station is attacked. A regional railway line (Rer) is disrupted owing to continuous hurling of stones at the train. Sarkozy declares that this violence ‘is not at all spontaneous’, on the contrary ‘it is perfectly planned. We are trying to understand who is behind it’. Eighth night: November 3-4 Roughly 900 vehicles are set on fire all over France, 519 of which in Ile-de-France (an area in Paris) and 250 in the department of Seine-Saint-Denis alone. Five policemen are wounded by hurled objects. Seven cars are also burnt in the centre of Paris. All in all direct fights with police do not occur. Le Nouvel Observateur states that owing to fights and arrests that occurred the previous days the ‘scum’ have chosen to act outside their territory. The same paper acknowledges that symbols of authority are mainly hit, along with some private interests. In fact many buildings of public authority are hit, especially schools, council buildings and police stations (with Molotovs in various areas). In Val d’Oise, where 105 cars are burnt, a supermarket is also looted. In Seine-Saint-Denis a sports shop is looted. Public transport is suspended in many areas for security reasons. A massive fire broke out in a carpet depot in Aulnay-sous-Bois. Other depots are set on fire in a number of areas. A few Molotovs are hurled at the court building in Bobigny. Gunshots are fired at vehicles of the CRS in Neuilly-sur-Marne. The communist mayor of Stains witnesses his car being set on fire while talking to a group of youths. Many buses are also set on fire: in Trappes (Yvelines) 27 buses are destroyed in a fire that is started in a bus garage. In the night about 250 people are stopped by police all over France. In Sevran a disabled woman is injured during an attack on a RATP bus. Prefect Cordet claims: ‘Large gangs are disappearing as violence is now being perpetrated by a great number of small groups that move very quickly’. Home secretary Sarkozy declares that the government is determined to adopt a tough attitude. Marine Le Pen, Jean Marie Le Pen’s daughter and vice-president of the neo fascist party Front National, asks the government to adopt emergency measures. Philippe De Villiers asks the premier ‘to strengthen the reaction of the government towards what appears to be an ethnic civil war’. Ninth night: November 4-5 754 vehicles are set on fire during the night and 203 people are stopped by police all over France. During the afternoon a great number of cars are burnt in an underground parking area in Bobigny: many of these cars belonged to the court situated in the area. A bus garage is set on fire in Aisne: two vehicles are completely destroyed and another two are seriously damaged. Other attacks against Renault car shops occur. A Molotov is hurled at a police station in Paris (in Place des Fêtes, XIX arrondissement). A court is ransacked and set on fire in Ile-de-France. A great number of schools are also destroyed and set fire to. A massive fire flares up in a textile depot in Aubervilliers; a car shop and a supermarket are burned in Montreuil; a nursery school is set on fire in La Courneuve. In Seine-Maritime unknown people stop a bus and set it on fire after letting all the passengers out. A few hundred citizens organise demos for the end of violence. During the night the Paris area is controlled by a helicopter equipped with spotlight and video camera; a further 2,300 officers are mobilized besides those already on duty. Attorney magistrate of Paris Ives Bot declares to Europe 1 that the ‘violence is organised’. Romano Prodi claims that similar explosions of violence will also soon occur in Italy. Tenth night: November 5-6 1,295 vehicles are set on fire, 741 of which in Ile-de-France, and 312 people are stopped by police. Objects (stones, bike wheels and trolleys) are hurled at police from buildings in Yvelines. There is an attempt to set fire to a council oil depot. The windows of a McDonald’s store are destroyed by a car used as battering ram in Corbeil-Essonne. The store is eventually set on fire. In Grigny, south of Paris, about 200 rioters engage in fights with police and a few pump-gun shots are fired against officers: dozens of policemen are injured, 2 quite seriously. In Evreux, Normandy, about 60 vehicles are burnt in the night as well as a commercial store, a post office, the council hall and two schools; officers are injured during the fight. Still in Grigny two schools are set on fire. In Noisy-le-Grand (Seine-Saint-Denis) a big school and many cars are also burnt. Sabotage and fire occur in electrical plants belonging to EDF in Grand Vallauris (Maritime Alps department). A Korean journalist of TV Kbs is assaulted in Aubervilliers. 13 cars are also set on fire in the III, XIII, XIX and XX arrondissement in Paris; 30 people are stopped, 11 of whom are ‘caught in the act of making incendiary devices’. Fires also break out in areas of France that have so far been relatively calm (Bretagne, Alsace, Lorraine, Auvergne, Limousin and Cote d’Azur): it is mainly burning of cars caused by launching of Molotov bottles by small fast groups that act in spite of the presence of numerous helicopters. Bus garages are burned in various areas. Even if direct fighting with police does not often occur, the latter are punctually targeted with stones when they pass. Incendiary bottles are also hurled at police and the fire brigade in Loire. Two policemen are injured following the explosion of a skip hit by a gas cannister in Grenoble. About 150 Molotov bottles are found in a depot in Evry. Eleventh night: November 6-7 It is the climax of the revolt: 1,408 cars are set on fire, 395 people are stopped by police (83 have been arrested since the beginning of the riots), and a great number of officers are injured. ‘It is a new kind of urban guerrilla, which moves very rapidly and sets fire, destroys, attacks, avoiding direct fighting with police and able to use all modern means of communication’ (Libération). The first fights occur in a ‘hot area’ in Toulouse, where rioters fight against police. A Molotov bottle is hurled at the electoral site of MP Pierre Lellouche in Paris. A great number of cars are burnt in Rouen where a car is also used as battering ram against a police station; the same method is used against a police station in Perpignan. A nursery school is set fire to in Saint-Etienne where public transport is interrupted owing to the numerous attacks. The site of a TV station in Asnière-sur-Seine (Haute-de-Seine) is destroyed by fire in the night. Fires also break out in Lyon (where three nights of fighting had occurred before the revolt started as an Arab youth was beaten by police), Lille, Orléans, Nice, Bordeaux, Strasburg, etc. A 13 month old child is injured in the head in Colombes following an attack on a bus. In Rosny-sous-Bois a juvenile recreation centre is attacked; a motorbike shop is also attacked in Aubervilliers, as well as a nursery school in Saint-Maurice, a treasury office in Trappes and a pharmaceutical depot in Sur. Molotov bottles are hurled at a church in Sète, without causing serious damage. A 61-year-old man dies after being assaulted as he attempts to secure his car. The French Committee of Islamic Organisations launches a ‘fatwa’ that condemns the violence under way. The major of Raincy (Seine-Saint-Denis) organises civilian security units to patrol the town. Justice secretary Pascal Clement declares: ‘It was just urban violence until last weekend. Now it is a real uprising’. The home secretary announces that majors and attorneys will be allowed to impose curfews and that an emergency law that was applied in Algeria on April 3 1955 (when the country was a French colony) will be restored. Sarkozy also announces that massive searches will be carried out wherever the presence of weapons is suspected. De Villiers claims that the army should intervene and that all immigrants should be arrested. Meantime three ‘bloggers’ are arrested (two from Paris and a minor from Aix-en-Provence) accused of instigating attacks against the police through the internet. Twelfth night: November 7-8 1,173 cars are set on fire, 12 policemen are injured, 330 people are stopped by police and 226 French towns are involved in riots. Again public buildings, schools and buses set fire to; two Italian journalists are attacked in Clichy-sous-Bois. Rioters stop a bus in Toulouse, let all the passengers out and set fire to the vehicle. The paper Hal reporter del popolo spreads the news that a boy is seriously injured in one hand after attempting to throw back a tear gas cannister. All in all riots are diminishing in the Paris area but continue in the provinces. Muslim organisations vent their anger against violence once again. In a few areas it is forbidden to sell petrol and gas bottles to minors. A bus explodes in Bordeaux after being targeted with Molotovs. In Lyon the underground night traffic is interrupted owing to various incidents and the continuous launching of molotovs on to the tracks, whereas nine buses parked in a depot are destroyed. A 53 year old man is injured after being hit by a handle thrown from a building. Michel Gaudin, general director of the national police, declares that rioters are animated by a true ‘anti-institutional will’. Small episodes of urban guerrilla actions occur in Brussels (where some cars are set on fire) and Luxemburg. In the night between November 7 and November 8 three cars are set on fire and the window of a shop is destroyed in the Cagliari area (Sardinia, Italy), where a few cars had already been set on fire a few days before. Thirteenth night: November 8-9 During a parliamentary question time Sarkozy declares that he demands of all attorneys that ‘any foreigner, no matter if regular or irregular, who has been sentenced be deported, including those with stay permits. When one has the honour of having a stay permit the minimum one might do is not be arrested for provoking urban violence’. The same day a bill imposing a state of emergency in France ‘starting from November 9 2005’ is made known. It establishes that: -people and vehicles are forbidden to circulate in certain streets at certain times; -security areas are created where rules of behaviour are imposed; -living in certain departments is forbidden; -seditious meetings are forbidden; -certain people are to be put under house arrest; -searches are allowed in the day as well as in the night; -radio stations, movies, theatrical plays and the press must be controlled; -any kind of weapon and munitions must be handed in police stations. In the evening home secretary Sarkozy sends a telegram to the attorneys asking them to deport all foreigners who have been stopped during the episodes of urban violence, including those with stay permits. 120 youths are involved in the measure, almost all of them with regular papers. Various human rights associations, the Communist party and the Green party unanimously denounce this sort of double condemnation (deportation of regular foreigners owing to other charges). The home secretary replies that it is not double condemnation, but simple deportation, that is to say direct deportation of people without them being sentenced(!). In 1994 first a high court then the State council had refused the measure taken by former home secretary Pasqua against two Algerians involved in riots in Lyon. The home secretary mobilises 11,500 policemen (1,000 more than the previous night). As a result, attacks diminish considerably: only 617 cars set on fire and 280 people stopped by police (about 1,830 people have been arrested since the beginning of the riots, and about one hundred have been tried summarily). Schools are devastated by fire in La Courneuve and in Villeneuve-d’Ascq (in the north). Two shops are looted then set on fire in Arras, where a business and a recreational centre are also set on fire. The site of a local paper is attacked and set on fire in Grasse. A few Russian journalists are assaulted in Lyon, where the tube transport is still interrupted owing to an incendiary attack occurred in the previous nights. Night traffic is also still interrupted in other towns, including Grenoble. In the suburbs of Toulouse molotov bottles and stones are hurled at police. In Lille the town council hall is attacked. An attempt to loot a superstore in Marseille fails. Rapper Magyd Cherfi depicts the rebels as ‘desperate youths who believe in nothing’. 17 cars are set on fire in various towns in Belgium. 11 cars are also burnt in Germany (Berlin and Cologne), whereas molotovs are hurled at a school in Altenburg. Cars are also set on fire in Lisbon. In Montréal (Canada) dozens of anarchists organise a demo outside the French consulate in solidarity to the French rioters. Fourteenth night: November 9-10 Magistrates launch an investigation for ‘attempted murder’ following the hurling of rubber bullets at police in Grigny. A great number of summary court procedures are carried out on November 9. 482 cars are set on fire in 152 different towns and 203 people are stopped by police (the total arises at 2,033 since the beginning of the riots). In Sens a police officer and a fireman are injured after being hit by stones. A police station, three schools and a council hall are targeted with incendiary attacks. Only 6 departments apply the curfew. A few incidents occur in Paris. The interruption of the night underground transport is reconfirmed in Lyon until Sunday. Magistrates forbid the selling and transportation of petrol cans in Bordeaux. Similar measures are taken in Loiret (Orléans) and Marseille. Toulouse, Lille, Marseille and Strasbourg are the towns most involved in incidents. The French national police impose the ban on any public demonstration in Paris from 10am on Saturday November 10 to 10pm the following day. It is feared that violence might occur in the city centre during the weekend. Riots also occur in the suburbs of Brussels and other Belgian towns, still without direct fighting against police. Fifteenth night: November 10-11 As incidents continue to diminish in number, 463 cars are set on fire (111 of which in Ile-de-France) and 201 people are stopped by police. A few police cars parked inside the fences of the court are set on fire in Bordeaux. A policeman is arrested and another 4 are investigated and charged with abuse of violence towards a man in La Courneuve. 8 policemen in total are put under investigation following some documentaries on France 2. On Thursday November 10 another man (the fourth) is arrested for inciting violence through the internet: he risks from 1 to 7 year’s imprisonment. Transportation and selling of petrol cans is also forbidden in Paris. On Thursday Jean-Marie Le Pen, president of the Front National, ironically thanks premier Villepin and home secretary Sarkozy for proposing the same slogans and measures he himself put forward. Intervening in a TV program on France 2, Sarkozy declares that distinction must be made between the unfortunate youths of the suburbs and the ‘scum’ that are responsible for the incidents (and therefore he once again repeats his controversial statement). He also claims that ‘children of African immigrants pose more problems that those of Swedish, Danish or Hungarian immigrants because their culture, social origins and polygamy create more difficulties’. About 400 anarchists attack the French Institute in Athens (Greece) in solidarity to the rebels of the French banlieues: the windows of the building are smashed to pieces and a slogan is left on the walls: ‘Those who sow armies reap social war in Paris, Athens and everywhere’. The windows of the local French Institute are also destroyed by stones in Saloniki, and leaflets are left on the spot, which say that ‘the insurgents are right’. 6 cars are set on fire in Belgium where other ‘isolated incidents’ occur, including attempts to set fire to schools. Sixteenth night: November 11-12 502 cars are set on fire (86 of which in Ile-de-France) and 206 people are held by police (2,440 in total since the beginning of the riots). The number of incendiary attacks diminishes considerably as very few towns see more than five or six fires. The hottest points are in Lille, Lyon. Strasbourg and Toulouse. In Saint-Quentin (Aisne) a policeman is seriously injured (second degree burns) following the explosion of an incendiary device that has been placed on the rear seat of a car. The car is eventually set on fire. Six molotov bottles are thrown into the yard of a police station in Maison-Alfort (Val-de-Marne). Two incendiary devices are hurled at a mosque in Carpentras (Vaucluse). Two shops are set on fire in Yvelines and a nursery school in Seine-et-Marne. A helicopter prevents a school in Sevran from being set on fire, and 9 people are taken in. In Amiens (Somme), where the curfew is imposed, a few electric plants of the EDF are sabotaged and eventually fighting with police takes place. The fire brigade are welcomed with a hail of stones in Alsace; the young perpetrators of the attack disappear as soon as the police arrive. In the afternoon dozens of youths battle with police in the centre of Lyon (Bellecour square): a few shops are damaged, and 11 people are arrested. On the spot witnesses declare that the fighting was clearly provoked by the police. In Ousse-des-Bois (Pau) a restaurant is attacked, looted and set on fire; as usual, when the fire brigade arrive they are welcomed with stones. In Angoulême three people attempt to set fire to an electric plant of the EDF; police chasing them are targeted by stones thrown from the roofs of surrounding houses. In Lyon a scooter set on fire close to a cash machine causes serious damage to the latter. Sixth night of disorder in Belgium: 15 cars are set on fire, 8 of which in Brussels, for a total of 60 cars burnt there since the beginning of the riots. Police maintain that these are isolated episodes. In the afternoon and during the night a dozen skips are set on fire in Bologna (Italy) where slogans are written on the walls: ‘Bologna like Paris’ and ‘Revolt is necessity, solidarity to the casseurs from Paris’. Actions in solidarity to the French rioters also occur in Istanbul where a demo in support to the ‘legitimate struggle’ of the inhabitants of the French suburbs is organised by the Federation for fundamental rights outside the consulate. A demo outside the French consulate is also organised in Barcelona where, even though no incident occurs, 5 people are arrested as the demo finishes. They are accused of disturbing public order and resisting public officials. One of the demonstrators writes on Indymedia: ‘All this just for having expressed their solidarity in a pacific way. It seems that the state of emergency is also being applied on the pavements outside French consulates’. Seventeenth night: November 12-13 ‘Normality’ is slowly restored: only 374 cars are set on fire (76 of which in Ile-de-France) and 212 people are stopped by police. In the evening Sarkozy, who has reconfirmed that all foreigners (be they regular or not) involved in the riot are to be deported, goes to the Champs Elisées: he is welcome by demonstrations of protest. But he boasts: ‘There were also people clapping their hands’. During the night about 12,000 policemen are mobilised all over France. In La Courneuve an officer is injured by a bowl launched from a building. A school is set on fire and a car is used as a battering ram against a recreation centre for the elderly in Carpentras (Vaucluse). Massive fires are started in the suburbs of Toulouse, including one at a Hi-fi shop and its depot. A ban on people meeting is also imposed in Lyon. A mosque is attacked with a Molotov bottle that does not explode. Violence also occurs in Toulouse and Strasburg. No incidents occur in Paris, where 3,000 police officers have been mobilised. About thirty towns are still under curfew. Seventh night of violence in Belgium: dozens of cars are set on fire. In Brussels several streets around the centre are blocked after clashes with police break out, barricades are erected and skips are set on fire. Dozens of people are arrested and a number of police cars are damaged. 90 vehicles have been set on fire in Belgium over the last seven days. Belgian authorities still maintain that these are isolated episodes. In Rotterdam (Holland) a few cars are also destroyed and set on fire. About one hundred anarchists demonstrate outside the French embassy in Athens in solidarity to the French rioters. Again in the Greek capital two car showrooms (Mercedes and Citroen) are attacked during the night with Molotovs and twenty cars are burned. Eighteenth night: November 13-14 The number of incidents continues to diminish: 271 cars are set on fire, 62 of which in Ile-de-France, and 112 people are stopped by police; 5 officers are injured, two of them following a well-known practice: explosion of a gas bottle placed in a skip, which eventually catches fire. A burning vehicle is hurled at a nursery school in Toulouse causing damage to part of the building. In Lyon about 15 cars are set on fire, a school is also set fire to and another is attacked with a car as a battering ram. Incidents also occur in Strasbourg. The French government decides to extend the state of emergency for another 3 months. News is spread at 12.39pm about police carrying out 8 operations in different banlieus to identify and arrest the authors of the violence. As a result 503 people are arrested (107 minors and 486 people of age). Since the beginning of the riots 2,652 people have been stopped by police, 375 have been summarily tried and 213 have been kept into custody awaiting trial. Another 622 people are immediately called to court, 112 of whom must return. 120 foreigners, some with regular documents some without, risk deportation. Magistrates open new investigations that lead to further arrests. On a few occasions the imams contribute to individuating those allegedly responsible for violence and incidents. Here are a few examples of sentences inflicted on people. In Toulouse: 5-month sentence for setting a skip on fire; 3-month sentence for showing one’s bottom to the police; 2 months for insulting public officials, that is to say for having been with the one who showed his bottom. In Lyon: 2 months for sitting in a bar where two minors had taken refuge following clashes with police; 2 months are inflicted on a young man who had been sitting on a bench during clashes with police; 3 months for setting rubbish on fire; 2 months for throwing stones; 4 months for creating a false alarm about a bomb in the airport. Nineteenth night: November 14-15 215 cars are set on fire (60 of which in Ile-de-France) and 42 people are stopped by police. An officer is injured. 3 molotov devices are hurled at a mosque in Saint- Chamond (Loire). A recreation centre is set on fire in Bruges whereas a few cars are burnt in Paris. Twentieth night: November 15-16 163 cars are set on fire (of which 27 in Ile-de-France) and 50 people are stopped by police. ‘an almost normal situation’ comments Sarkozy. A policeman is injured while attempting to intervene against a group of youths who are hurling bottles filled with acid at the city hall in Pont-Evêque (Isère). In Grenoble a school and an educational centre are set on fire respectively in Grenoble and in Chalons-en-Champagne (Marne). In Drome a battering ram car is hurled at a police station and Molotovs are thrown against a church. Garages are set on fire in the Rodano and Marna areas. An ambush is laid for police and fire brigade in Point-a-Pitre (isle of La Reunion): after setting fire to a few cars, behind which barricades have been erected, unknown people fire gunshots at police, who respond by shooting in turn (no news about wounded). In total 126 policemen are injured and 2,888 people are stopped by police, of which 593 are arrested (107 the minors, many among the people stopped by police and then released are to appear in the court). 8,973 vehicles are set on fire. Twenty-first night: November 16-17 98 cars are set on fire and 33 people are stopped by police, mainly because they were caught carrying incendiary devices or had violated the curfew. Less than 100 vehicles set on fire all over France is considered normal (about 90 cars are normally set on fire every night). Premier Villepin claims that ‘there exists a real threat of terrorism against France’ and therefore ‘surveillance must be permanent’. And this is not another story. 1 This chronology does not intend to give an objective account of events that occurred in France during the revolt of the ‘scum’ between the end of October and the first weeks of November 2005; not only because of the sources that have been used (newspapers, press agencies, police reports, websites, and ’blogs’ on the internet, which sometimes are real collections of collective memory), but also and mainly because the sense of a chronology lies not so much in the presentation o f past events as in the lines that such events can trace in the present. A few similar explosions of rage that occurred in the Nineties From when the death penalty was abolished in France in 1981 up until 2001 there have been 175 cases of death directly or indirectly provoked by the State police. On a number of occasions this sort of senseless death ignited explosions of anger against the abuse police inflict every day. Such explosions are testimonies of the brutality of a whole social system… October 6-9 1990. Thomas Claudio dies after his motorbike is hit by a police car that is chasing him. Police presents the crime as ‘an accident’. Violent fighting against police breaks out, shops and commercial stores are looted and set on fire. August 31, September 3 1995. Clashes between police and youths explode in Nanterre (cité de Fontanelle) after a 25-year-old man of North African origin dies after being accidentally hit by a concrete mixer while rushing to the place where his brother was being arrested. May 25-26 1996. Dozens of youths loot commercial stores and set fire to vehicles in Saint-Jean in Château Roux after a youth dies of car accident caused by a police chase. November 1996. In Rabaterie (St Pierre des Corps, Tours) 23-year-old Mohamed Boucetta dies after being shot in the head. As the murderer is freed thanks to Le Pen’s personal intervention, a revolt lasting 15 days breaks out with clashes and fires of cars, shops and public buildings. December 12-21 1997. Clashes between police and youths occur in Dammarie-les-Lys (banlieues of Melun, Seine-et-Marne), where a sixteen year old boy of North African origin killed by police at a roadblock in Fontainebleau used to live. Not one policeman is arrested following the murder nor is any trial held. December 13-16 1998. As 17-year-old Habib is killed by a cop while attempting to steal a car, and violent fighting occurs between police and youths in Mirail area (Toulouse). More than one hundred vehicles are set on fire. Three years later the cop killer, who had been free since then, is sentenced to 3 years on bail. September 12-22 2000. In two areas of Essonne, in Grande Borne in Grigny and in Tarterets in Corbeil-Essonnes clashes with police occur as a 19-year-old man is killed while attempting to go through a roadblock in Combs-la-Ville (Seine-et-Marne) after stealing a motorbike. July 4-6 2001. Incidents break out in Borny in Metz as two local youths die following a car accident. October 13-14 2001. Urban violence explodes in Thonon-les-Baines (Haute Savoie) as four men die ‘accidentally’ while attempting to avoid being identified by police. December 26-31 2001. Clashes with police occur in Vitry-de-Seine (Val-de-Marne) after a young man is killed while attempting to rob a bank in Neuilly-sur-Marne (Seine-Saint-Denis). January 3-7 2002. Dozens of cars are set on fire in Mureaux (Yvelines) as 17-year-old Moussa dies after being shot in the head by police while trying to avoid a roadblock. February 25-26 2002. As a man dies of overdose inside the yard of a police station in Evreux, groups of masked youths fight with police, set cars on fire and devastate shop windows. October 18-19 2001. A seventeen year old boy drowns after diving into a river in an attempt to escape police who surprised him during an attempted robbery. Dozens of youths armed with baseball batons attack police in Hautepierre (Strasbourg) and set cars on fire. 25 cars are burnt, 3 firemen are injured, a school is devastated by an explosive device and council’s structures are also set on fire. March 3 2003. Riots break out as a thief dies while attempting to escape police. January 12-14 2004. A 17-year-old boy dies after falling from a stolen motorbike while being chased by police. Clashes between youths and policemen break out, dozens of cars are set on fire and a battering ram car is hurled at a police station. Temporary results -9,19 cars are set on fire (figure provided by the French home secretary). -Dozens of public buildings and commercial stores are looted or destroyed; a great number of police stations are attacked; a mosque, a church and a synagogue are also attacked. -About 300 towns are involved in the uprisings. -Curfew has been imposed in 25 departments. -3 dead: Ziad and Bouna, electrocuted on October 27, and a 61-year-old man assaulted near his house on November 7. -An unknown number of civilians are injured. -About 12,000 police officers are mobilised, 126 of which are injured. 8 officers are under investigation, accused of committing horrendous violence during the clashes. -Insurance claims are predicted to be about 200 million euros. The EU maintains it will offer 50 million euros. -2,921 people are stopped by police (one third of which are minors, the youngest being 10 years old) and 590 are arrested (107 of whom minors). 375 people of age are sentenced without bail. Arrests in the act of committing crime are very rare as people are generally arrested during police raids. Acquittals are also very rare as the lawyers’ defendants are appointed by the court. -About another 1,540 suspects are stopped, questioned and arrested in the days immediately following the end of the riots: about 4,500 people in total are involved in investigations, more than a quarter of whom after the end of the riots. -In the first days of December 786 people are still under arrest, 83 of whom are foreigners. -On December 4 Sarkozy announces the deportation of the first seven foreigners. The Scum Not all revolts take you by surprise. Of course there is no Nostradamus to predict their specific moments of explosion, but the fact that revolts happen can only surprise those who have no idea about the dismal world we are compelled to live in. It is not because you know that such revolts occur frequently in France with the same practices and rituals (hundreds of cars are set on fire all over France on the last day of the year)1 . Revolts are the inevitable product of the current social system. When a revolt breaks out you can’t ask yourself ‘how could it happen?’ but rather ‘how is it possible that it doesn’t happen everywhere, all the time?’. But each time a revolt breaks out the first operation that takes place is an attempt to categorise it. One wonders who the rebels are, where they come from and what they want. The research soon starts on names, identities, and right categories: they are foreigners, immigrants… no! They are French… yes, French, but second generation French, second class French, sons or nephews of immigrants, outcasts, excluded… Some are disappointed because the theory of Islamic fundamentalism doesn’t work: obviously these people are not the ones who go to the mosque (in fact appeals made by imams have proved useless). Rightwing papers (for example Le Figaro) try to create improbable amalgams for public stigmatisation, by chance, they write about Palestinian-style Intifada, Islamic fundamentalism, terrorism, etc. These falsifications, however, don’t seem to work as every struggle is capable of showing itself in its own irreducible peculiarity. Sociological categories are mobilised to define, identify and circumscribe, in short, to keep the revolt within certain conceptual limits. Once an identity is given to the rioters – the most used is that of social outcasts, a new name for the underclass – the range of theories for intervention can put forward: from police and emergency measures to social and welfare-orientated actions. They are the two faces of the security syndrome: public security and social security, in other words the punch and the lending hand. In short, the stick and the carrot. All this shows clearly the fact that if subversion and revolt are direct consequences of the system of dominion, their abolition can only happen through the abolition of dominion, that is to say through subversion. However to identify the ‘scum’, maybe giving it a more politically correct definition, implies a number of things. To identify a phenomenon with convenient categories means first of all to circumscribe it, and to circumscribe it means to stem it. On the one hand the limits are erected to present the revolt and its causes as incidental disorders brought about by a system that in spite of everything (misery, war, pollution, total commodification and progressive devastation of the whole world and the life of each and every one) must be preserved, maybe by introducing some providential intervention along with the announcement of the state of emergency. But, as it is well known, this exception is now the rule, which also involves exclusion, impoverishment, social alienation, that this to say the generalised dispossession of life. It is not a question of an incidental phenomenon, be it local or global. Poverty, precariousness of life in the western society, urban structures in the metropoli all over the world (from Los Angeles to Bogotá, from Alger to Paris), attempts at closing the borders of fortress Europe are only a few examples of this structural fracture. The game of the stick and the carrot, alongside police and judicial repression with the announcement of social action in favour of the suburbs, might take in some people, but certainly not those who experience social emargination on their skin, or those who know that new explosions are ready to break out just around any corner, and, most importantly, those who feel an irrepressible potential for revolt pulsating inside them. And it is exactly the magnetic force of rebellion that is the main target of the process of identification. In fact, the process of identification, besides presenting the structural phenomenon of the present social order as if it were incidental, aims at separating and dividing the outcasts from all the others – at the same time separating these others from themselves and their active potential. In other words, outcasts have an atavistic right to revolt as anger, desperation and a feeling of injustice belong expressly to them. But you, who are privileged in spite of everything and who enjoy part of the welfare guaranteed by the society, what do you want? In the ghettos in towns, the banlieues of Paris and the suburbs of the world, life is uprooted, empty, encircled in the space of social, material and existential alienation, and full of desperation and metaphysical boredom. But not your life! Your life is rich and enjoyable, full of possibilities and perspectives, wellbeing and passion. Your life? Our life? Excuse me, what are we talking about? As a matter of fact the line of oppression, and with it the rift of rebellion, concerns everybody. The binary logic of opposition interprets reality so grossly that it cannot understand the present development of the revolts underway and the explosions that are yet to come. To separate the youths of the suburbs from all the others, then distinguish the violent and irreducible ones who cannot be tamed from those who must be protected from their contamination, means to separate any potential for rebellion from whatever might make it explode. This is the logic behind all emergency interventions. Moreover, to accept this ideological division means a weakening of any practical perspective. Like all revolts, the French one also speaks to everybody. Its action inevitably affects our potential movements. After all, it is not so important to know who they are, but rather who we are and what we can do. As a permanent state of exception exists whether it is officially proclaimed or not, the first practical lesson to be learned concerns the realization of an effective state of exception through the explosion of destructive actions, their fast spreading and the refusal of all delegation. Some complain about the alleged lack of direction or revolutionary class awareness, and so they take a distance because they cannot see any political perspectives or results; then they talk about barbaric phenomena without any project, which would be the result of a ‘passive putrefaction of the oldest strata of the old society’. Some also propose themselves as conscious organizers of revolts (those to come, of course). But instead of giving lessons on how to behave and act there is a lot to be learned from the French riots. There is a tactical and practical awareness in the rebellion of the ‘scum’ that is notoriously unknown among the most refined revolutionary consciences, often too conscious to be practical. If the French rioters did not make a step towards revolution (yes, but who is a revolutionary today?), at least in their own way they put their active possibilities to the test. Without waiting for a guide to teach what to do, on the contrary they effectively realized their way of how to do; they made their anger explode in an impressive series of fires without delegating it to anyone. The explosion of a vital force that has been repressed for too long is an angry deflagration that ignores any form of delegation and cannot ever repent. Phenomenology of angry nihilism Anger is the expression of strength that has been repressed for too long, offended and abused, the anger of those who suddenly understand that they are ‘too young to go rotten’. Its primary manifestation opens up a horizon characterised by universal destruction. As you are in a blind rage you look around you searching for something to destroy, to hurl at a wall or to break with your own hands; the body is felt to be a damaging instrument. Anything can be destroyed! Anger, therefore, manifests itself as a nihilist horizon. As they can desire nothing for themselves, these second-class lives decide to desire that this nothing be realized (as nothing). But nihilism, this disturbing guest, presents itself in different forms. The less evident is the most widespread, but it is also the most popular: it is the subtle nihilism of the authoritarian management of the existent that pervades everything. It annihilates life and takes away its strength in order to lead it to the preformed structures of order and discipline, production and consumerism, resignation and cynicism. The current social system is nihilist and the citizens who submit to it are also unconsciously nihilist as they accept various forms of voluntary slavery and drag their lives on without passion every day. As they have absorbed the lesson of economy and the imaginary of the value of consumables, their life is based on calculations of costs and benefits, on the separation between means and ends and on resignation to the current misery in the illusory hope that it will be better tomorrow. The nihilist operation of dominion articulates itself in two complementary movements: on the one hand it despoils, alienates and robs, on the other it dresses up, creates illusions and blinds people. But the emptiness upon which this twofold operation stands and finds its substance becomes evident when the second movement (the false satisfaction of illusions) does not work any more: when school, work and the institutions of the spectacular civilized society no longer grip existences that, as a consequence, remain in the proclaimed metastasis of their alienation. When such metastasis shows itself blindingly, when it inflicts inhuman senseless death, it can explode in angry nihilism : as they perceive the nullity that surrounds them and erodes their life, nameless individuals decide to give it back to its nothing. Angry nihilism wants exactly nothing and realizes perfectly how everything surrounding it has only to be swallowed up in its vacuity. The explosion of angry nihilism, which frees and explodes bad passions, can also be seen as pure fun generated by a nausea for the existent; but that is exactly how it turns into destructive euphoria. Following the era of cynicism, opportunism and fear, in the present generalised proletarianisation of the life of each and every one, what struggles are possible? We are sorry to disappoint the indefatigable officers of human progress, but these struggles also involve the total destruction of what surrounds us. Once upon a time someone said: ‘Nihilists…make just one more effort to be revolutionaries’: it’s a short step from wanting nothing to wanting everything. But we also say: ‘Revolutionaries…make just one more effort to be nihilists’ – it takes a bit of courage to be up to one’s rage. But where will all this take us? Did not you realise? It will take us nowhere… And anyway, where do you think you are going, all of you? ‘S’ io fossi foco arderei lo mondo’ The destructive euphoria of angry nihilism finds its main form of expression in the element that most represents anger: fire. Molotovs and incendiary devices are like arrows, with which symbols and structures of power and of the system are targeted: police stations, town halls, courts, banks, shops, commercial centres, schools and cars. Some of these targets touch many people’s civil conscience deeply. Why are schools set on fire, given that they could bring about the emancipation and integration of the socially alienated? Is it not true that education for everyone was an important conquest for humanity and its progress? Maybe; but if it is also true, and how you could deny it, that schools look more and more like prisons (both prisons and schools being part of the generalized prison-society), we should silence our conscience and look at a phenomenon that is beautiful like a school in flames. After all, the school system is based on a removal of meaning – in other words, schools are instruments for life or rather for work, which in turn is an instrument for life – and therefore schools have no meaning in themselves as they constantly refer to a meaning that is yet to come. In this way, as the future is denied and consists in dragging on between boredom and desperation, schools are losing their false pedagogic value. When instruments are in no way useful they become fetishes, and fetishes are only worth burning, possibly during fights with kids screaming ‘tonight is my future’. Civil conscience also has something to say about cars: why to set fire to the neighbours’ cars if the latter share the same state of emergency as the rioters? First of all, most of the burned cars belonged directly or indirectly to institutions, secondly the ‘scum’ does not come from nowhere, but lives in a specific territory that does not represent any homogeneous human reality. On the one hand the rioters of the banlieues know they can count on the support and active solidarity of many inhabitants of the area (without such solidarity twenty nights of riots in a row would not have been possible), on the other they also know very well whom the cars set to fire belong to, and certainly the latter are not those of the rioters’ direct or indirect accomplices. In the banlieus, like everywhere else, there stand zealous supporters of orders and dialogue, informers and profiteers, collaborators and various kinds of vile characters, as well as those who do not share in practice the unequivocal and clear position of the rioters. The youths of the banlieues do not tolerate any form of neutrality, dialogue or compromise with the institutions [which is to represent a major problem during the anti-CPE movement in March and April 2006, especially in Paris]. In other words, neighbours are not always friends or accomplices. Moreover revolts are not carried out at a symbolic level but at the concrete one of the struggle and the field of battle. Cars are set on fire not only because it is obviously a pleasure to see fires burning but also and mainly following a strategic and territorial view, that is to say by being in the territory through the struggle. It is only in the perspective of real conflict (and not in its representation or sociological translation) that the value of this practice can be understood. Setting fire to cars is quite an effective means of building barricades rapidly and it is also a useful way to draw police to a specified area, where they can be hit by stones and Molotovs and from where rioters can escape easily, only to find each other elsewhere and start the game again (a dynamic that was largely employed in the sabotage of public lighting power plants which opened the nights of rage). The fact that these considerations have not been taken into account by many is quite astonishing. The most important point to be considered, however, is the importance of the territory as battlefield for all of today’s conflicts and those to come. In a society based on the circulation of money, information, people and goods, management of the territory is one of the most important operations carried out by power. For example, it is the way traffic circulation is set out that is slowly killing us with its poison, especially in metropolitan areas where urban spaces are reduced to alienating transit and service zones. It is an asymmetric, dehumanising and murderous reality that is killing life, where territories are being made more and more aseptic and impenetrable to those who, be it for needs related to the system or of out of individual choice, cannot be reduced to merchandise (and are therefore marginalized, locked up or deported). At the same time, territory and traffic have become vital strategic factors in current and future struggles, with the spreading of practices such as road blocks and sabotage, the invention of new ways of living in the territory and the destruction of everything that is to all effects uninhabitable. Of course we do not know if the destroyers of cars are aware of that. We do not know if we are overestimating their rage. What is certain is that behind their destructive negative attitude there stands a positive attitude relating to their way of living and making human relations, which besides continuously reinventing language and gestures, brings about complicity and solidarity during the riots. It is a positive attitude that cannot be reduced to the representation set out by the forces of the enemy field, for whom, consequently, they are nothing but vandals, dumbness and senseless gesticulation. We are not elaborating a tedious neo-realist embellished image of the underclass. What we are trying to do is, once again, ask ourselves if it is possible to live in spaces and territory in a different way so as to encounter new accomplices and occasions of struggle to be exploded with due joy and radicality. March 2006 Notes 1. Following a well-established habit that is unique in Europe, on New Year’s Eve 2005 425 vehicles are set to fire all over France, 330 in 2004, 324 in 2003 and 379 in 2002. Clichy-sous-Bois, Aulnay and La Courneuve are the towns most involved in this phenomenon. Furthermore on New Year’s Eve 2004 a blackout in a locality in Sevran allows rioters to set an ambush for police, who are targeted by stones hurled from the roofs of the surrounding buildings. We can say that the New Year is a real celebration in France. Hypotheses not to be rejected ‘Philippe de Villiers has asked

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