Is France on the verge of a race war? a religious war? a war of nations? a generational war?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

From one of the most popular blogs among the conservative or patriot French, here are some photos that show how the internet may be at times an incendiary medium. But, in the long run, I think the web will do much more to defuse than encourage violence. Sites like france-echos will force the French not only to see and face their very real social and demographic problems, but also to articulate them for the very first time. And it this process of starting a new conversation, of renewing the sacred signs around which the community knows itself again, that entails the simultaneous expressionn and deferral of tensions. A wired France will become a new kind of France; everywhere the blogosphere takes root, it brings a new political paradigm with new solutions emerging from the more free and creative accounting of our problems. Real communications freedom entails not only a re-evaluation of who we are, but also a re-evaluation of the very nature of politics and religion.

For example, Tiberge has translated the following statement from a conservative patriot youth organization:
Communiqué of March 24, 2006

Support our comrades of the CNT!

Yesterday in Paris, during the anti-CPE demonstration, the marchers from the CNT (National Confederation of Labor) became the targets of thugs who swarmed in from the suburbs to rip the place apart.

Many anarchist-laborites/anarchist-communists/radical-anti-fascists/redskins/
punks/loners/filth were violently attacked. Several were hospitalized or treated, and it was only thanks to the presence of the police (some anarchists took refuge behind the police lines) that the toll wasn't higher.

Realizing that these attacks ought to finally bring home to the militants of the CNT the reality of an ethnic divide, in this country that they hardly know, we have decided to forget our past quarrels (friendly fist-fights, unfounded accusations, garbage being thrown at our participants) and to extend a fraternal European hand to the union anarchists.

Comrades of the CNT, join the ranks of the "identitaires"; in your fight against these thugs, you are not alone!
We'll wait and see if this attempt to redefine politics ccatches on.

For a deeper reflection on the theme of redefining politics in the internet age, see Prospero's latest unfolding of his generative anthropology:
The Left, I would propose, is that political movement hostile to the sacred center because it views the sacred center as the source of all violence. That the sacred center was a potential source of violence to those willing to consider other than sanctioned modes of sacrality was well known since, at least, the trial of Socrates; that it is the source of all significant modes of violence and hence victimization is the invention of the modern Left (which, in fact, has shielded itself behind the stance of the "dissident," persecuted for mere non-conformity), which emerged in the crucible of the French revolutionary fusing of the grievances of the dissident intellectuals with the exclusion of the masses from the presumptively inclusive emerging market society. The Left has essentially been parasitic on victimary grievances which have until recently been prevalent enough to make the left's claims to have a systemic alternative plausible--but the fact that the Left is now in the process of attaching itself to totalitarian Islam as the strongest anti-Western force available suggests that this plausibility has already worn very thin. So, I see no reason to assume that the Left is permanent. And with no Left, the Right disappears as well--the Right is, at least now and perhaps (this is my view) always, an artificial formation in the sense that it has always defended those and only those elements of the sacred center singled out for attack, denunciation and mockery by the Left. Of course, "conservative" and "liberal" still resist assimilation to left/right terms, and these categories might very well persist (not just as categories but as realities)


chuck said...

The jutes? I think they are having fun. The students set the scene and started the games and the jutes just crashed the party. I saw similar things in the 60's. Hey, its France; entertainment and fun are thin on the ground and Spring is here.

Why French society is in such a funk is another question. Now, next year or even this summer things could change, it could all get *really* serious. These things tend to take on a life of their own.

As to the pictures, I think it well to remember how misleading they can be in isolation. One tends to extrapolate to the whole of France what appears in a few hundred square meters. I noticed that while looking at some of the pictures on flikr linked by Vanderleun. Such extrapolation of reality is a common temptation when viewing photos of demonstrations and such. That's why newpapers find it so easy to pass off invented stories.

John Sobieski said...

The Muslims think they are getting too powerful and will make the dhimmi Frenchmen cower in fear. Time for a reality check for France.

Knucklehead said...

punks/loners/filth were violently attacked...

Do French yutes (or, heaven forfend, French adults) really identify themselves as "anarchist-whatevers", loners, filth...? What is a French "redskin"?

I realize I'm reaching the age where it's harder to keep up and some calcification goes on where it ought'nt, but what the heck is is a "union anarchist"?

It is possible, I suppose, that the Left is slowly but surely dissipating so that the lunatic fringes are more easily identified (even if they remain beyond comprehension) as whacky and generally prone to violence.

The notion that the "right" only exists as a response to the "left" is interesting. My first inclination is to suggest that such an assertion cannot stand up to investigation but off the top of my balding head I only see it breaking down at the extremes and I've never quite understood why the extremes get labled "right" or "left" as they do anyway. I've never quite fathomed why a "skinhead white supremecist" is "right" and a "union anarchist" is "left".

Yet another fascinating post, TP (at least in so far as I comprehend it).

truepeers said...


Well, all those years at university and I never really took the time to figure out what the heck an anarcho syndicalist was, though i still have my doubts there is much point in trying. Prospero's point about the left and right depends on seeing both as opposed to much characteristic of both a free market society and a constitutional political order that accents open-ended means and not idealized ends. The left, traditionally, had the appearance, to many, of holding a comprehensive alternative to market society that was something utopian and futuristic; the right, on this account, is what tries to save something of the old older of church, society, and state that the left is casting away along with market society and constitutional democracy.

So both left and right have the quality of the totalitarian mind because both reject the trends that make the political scene more like the free-wheeling economic exchange. The right may try to make a deal with the market economy as long as they think they can maintain control of the political game - this is essentially what happened in France after the failed revolution of 1848 when the bourgeois were allowed their economic freedoms, on the understanding that the old aristocrats essentially maintained control of the state: no Jews in the diplomatic corps, that sort of thing.

Still today in France, high positions in the state are basically reserved for graduates of a certain elite university. But if these elitists did not have a raison d'etre in protecting France from the radical left, how could they justify their exclusive club? In turn, the radical left come up with all kinds of labels to oppose the exclusive club of the right and those moderate leftists that the club has bought off in building the liberal paternalist welfare state that bills itself as an alternative to the "Anglo-Saxon" model.

truepeers said...

Such extrapolation of reality is a common temptation when viewing photos of demonstrations and such. That's why newpapers find it so easy to pass off invented stories.

-exactly, but keep in mind that no photo or collage can ever satisfactorily capture the total reality from which it emerges. Even when an event, like a demonstration, is first unfolding, its reality is as much conceptual - people making it up as they go along - as it is a natural outgrowth of some underlying reality. Human reality is certainly the source of the idealized conceptions or images that will transcend the event and be its memory, but the emergence of the transcendent concept or image of the event can never be fully reconciled with an account of reality, because such accounting can likewise only construct an image of reality in terms of what emerges from events; we cannot step outside of events, outside of the eventful processes from which all language and images emerge - to see all reality with the independent eye of God.

But just because we cannot master reality, is no excuse for postmodern doubts or romantic certainties. Reality is never what the romantic idealists really want it to be. It never neatly corresponds to the ideals of the demonstrators because they cannot control the scene and all those who would offer up images of signs of what it really was about (see the picture of the yutes kicking the no doubt surprised-to-be-downed protestor).

The trick is to see this memory game as open-ended, without turning into a nihilist, just because we can never fully control it or fully explain the connection between eventful reality and the signs that grow out of it, the signs with which we want to tell our version of the story, and they theirs.

As Prospero argues in the linked post:

At its most radical, the orginary hypothesis presents us with a world that is constituted by nothing more than signs and events; moreover, the signs are nothing more than the shape taken by events, events are nothing more than what constitutes, but can't quite be included, can only be minimally indicated, by the sign. Signs can be repeated, their very being speaks of solidity; events could always have not taken place, they are all that is fleeting yet unforgettable. We can be much more specific: events are the miraculous coming together of the group around a center that is universally desired and therefore, paradoxically, universally renounced. One could never adequately represent the event; one can only seek to saturate and inhabit its iteration.