Bloc Rouge (maoist Unification) ‐ France
First, thank you to everyone for coming to participate to this meeting. Comrades have even came from other countries, others sent messages. For us, the Maoists, the revolt of banlieues of 2005 is part of the key events in the history of popular movements of our country. And even beyond, since this revolt made the headlines of all countries of the world.
Much has been said about the revolt of the banlieues, including a lot of crap. What is not so surprising given that this is the message of the bourgeois ideological apparatus which is dominant, among others through radio, newspapers and TV programs. Before giving our perspective, we have prepared a small selection of stupidities of different parties and organizations from France, from the far right to the far left.
Young Communists related to PCF
«Stop all the violence. Those of thugs, those of the interior minister, those of Medef. Cars, gyms, bus, neighborhoods become inflamed for several days. People are physically assaulted. This is unacceptable. (…) Such violence primarily affects city residents themselves. It is a desperate breath that does not bring anything except destruction and division.» «Incivility, violence spreads, are the prerogative of a minority of people [in the neighborhoods]. But this is enough to ruin the life (…), especially since these are usually people in a precarious situation who suffer the most violence. Police answers and justice are necessary.»
«The Communist Party condemns violence, whatever its origin.» On the issue of repression, the PCF welcomes the «courageous» action of law enforcement. Lutte Ouvrière (trotskyst party) «Of course, the main victims of this violence are the inhabitants of these banlieues. The burning cars are not billionaires or ministers cars, but those of workers who live in these neighborhoods. Therefore, when young people are attacking firefighters as representatives of authority, that does not show a much greater awareness.» «The daily violence in these neighborhoods is perhaps the fact of thugs and traffickers.» «Workers do not have to rejoice in the form that this explosion takes, not just because they are the first to suffer. The youth is the future. But what a future disoriented youth can it be the architect?»
LCR (trotskyst party)
«If the anger of youg people, untrained, unemployed (Citroen Aulnay just temporary return 700 young people), victims of racism and discrimination is understandable, they are mistaken targets when they burned the cars of residents, schools, gymnasiums or nurseries.»
«Whatever the faults and mistakes that were committed by the authorities of the Republic in recent weeks and there are many there can be no justification for violence. The people in the suburbs are the first victims, even though they are among the most disadvantaged in our society. They have right to security, calm and appeasement like every french. The bands must be taken out of harm’s way. The rioters must be punished.» «We are not opposed in principle to the curfew. It can be helpful in certain cases and for a limited time, in consultation with the mayors.»
«Families only have to educate their children and ensure that they are not criminals»
FN (National Front)
«France itself is attacked by foreign hordes […]»
«this verdict proves that the scum has put the banlieue into blood and fire for pleasure and not because of a police blunder»
Philippe de Villiers (MPF)
He explains the riots as «the Islamization of society» and «migratory wave».
Fédération Anarchiste (Anarchist Federation)
« Yes, there are reasons to revolt, but burning cars, randomly hitting only harm and only strengthens all isolationism (whether nationalist or religious).»
«Let young and less young of the mother, the day to register as voters arrived»
Joey Starr, Jamel Debbouze, Lilian Thuram, Besancennot, Dieudonné Hélène Carrère d’Encausse, perpetual secretary of the French Academy:
«Everyone is surprised: why are African children in the street and not at school? Why their parents can not buy an apartment? It’s clear why: many of these Africans, I tell you, are polygamous. In an apartment there are three or four women and 25 children. They are so crowded that it is no longer apartments, but God knows what! We understand why these children are in the streets.»
We obviously don’t agree with what we just heard. For us, the revolt of banlieues of 2005 is before everything the suburban proletarian youth of our country raising its head. The struggles in the popular neighborhoods, including in the violent form, are not new. But in 2005, there is an extension to the whole country. The same evening Zyed and Bouna were dying because of the cops, the revolt broke out in ClichysousBois and Montfermeil. After a few days, it extended to the SeineStDenis, then to the whole territory. And everywhere the revolt broke out, it was in the popular neighborhoods, mostly located in the suburbs of urban centers. As Mao said: «Where there is oppression, there is resistance.» And it must be understood that in France, the popular neighborhoods are places where there is more oppression and factories and enterprises, where there is more exploitation.
You can not disconnect both when talking about popular neighborhoods, as 40% of the workforce is strictly workers (excluding working men and women unemployed) and about 35% is employee (mainly administrative staff and service to people ).
Unemployment is 2.5 times higher than the rest of the country, reaching up to 45% among young people. Households are less motorized than elsewhere which is penalizing for access to employment, precarious forms of employment (part-time, fixed-term contracts, subsidized jobs…) are more important than the rest of the territory.
The household income is less than 1,200€ compare to the whole country.
The poverty rate is three times higher. And these are just numbers, that can not translate reality. Because if labor issue is essential, we must also see aspects of daily oppression. There is first the housing. For many years, the bourgeoisie chase the proletariat off the city centers to conduct big property transactions. This is why most popular areas of France are located in the suburbs of the cities center.
In Paris region, the offensive is now spreading to the close suburbs where «ecoquarters» bloom, from Montreuil to Gennevilliers via Saint Ouen. These ‘rehabilitation’ projects as they call them are primarily cash pumps. With these new neighborhoods, often linked to the arrival of new metro line or tram, the purpose it is to drive the poor further. For the bourgeoisie, it is better to have tenants who pay an expensive rent ! Their preoccupation is not that everyone has access to decent housing. Moreover, in the popular neighborhoods, lessors leave deteriorate lowrises and towers, where there are no more elevators, heating trouble, and even problem with tap water. Neighborhoods are abandoned. And when there is a «renovation», they take the opportunity to raise rents.
At Montfermeil, in some lowrises there were homes whose residents became owners. But since the buildings were abandoned, with a very difficult access to the transports, the apartments have lost their value. Those who had invested their savings from their work have therefore lost everything. Several people had talked about it at the time when the state was leading us his «grand plan» for rehabilitation in the neighborhood of the Chpene Pointu.
Housing in poor neighborhoods is therefore a big daily problems.
Economic and housing problems are especially large for women in poor neighborhoods. There are more single parent families (90% are women), and they are particularly affected by unemployment (50%). When they manage to find a job it is mostly in very precarious conditions, with staggered times, split times, etc. And as in the rest of society, they suffer additional oppression, that of patriarchy who puts women in a dominated position within the society.
In the neighborhoods, there is also racism. The immigrants or people of immigrant origin are more numerous than in the rest of the country (2.5 times). So there is further discrimination, sometimes even geographical. How many inhabitants of popular neighborhoods hide their true address on the CV? Otherwise, we know that the CV will not even be read. Besides the bosses who «seek the BBR» (BlueWhiteRed). One of our comrades has heard this while looking for an apprenticeship. And with economic hardship and racism in addition comes police harassment that turns into police crimes.
In neighborhoods, police harassment is daily. Racial profiling, insults, provocations, arbitrary arrests, false accusations … The cops are happy to supplement their months with the outrages they stick anything goes!
How many were killed by police bullets or during hot pursuit? And the police is doing every time, backed by the government and its ministers, with the help of bourgeois Justice. And of course thanks to its rotten union Alliance (among others).
Police harassment and their crimes, that is the true face of the state in the neighborhoods. So, when you come from a popular neighborhood, what the society has to offer? What future can we plan? Clearly, as part of this society, it is thin! The revolt is therefore a first response. The Maoists have from the start supported this revolt. Because this revolt is the explosion of the contradiction between the bourgeois state and the proletarian youth of the popular neighborhoods. And we supported this revolt because it used the best way to fight against the bourgeoisie and its watchdogs: violence.
We have not been part of those who said that the revolt had right basis but does not expressed correctly. We have not been part of those who wanted to channel the revolt to the polls, transforming molotov cocktails into ballots.
We are those who said it was right to rebel! Despite our small forces, we went where youth revolted. We were there the next day when the cops had sent tear gas in the mosque in Clichysous Bois. What we could do to support the rebellion, we did.
We continue on this road today, pointing to the imperialist bourgeoisie as our No. 1 enemy. During and after the uprising, there has been a massive crackdown with 3000 arrests and 600 detentions.
The politicos of all stripes have then made their list of «solutions» for the suburbs, combining repression with promises of funds.
Number of associations and parties campaigned to bring the revolt in the heart of the polls, saying that a ballot is 10, 100 or 1000 Molotov cocktails. We, we think the opposite.
Internationally, the revolt of 2005 suburbs is to be compared with similar revolts that took place in the imperialist countries. We talk about UK in 2011 where the revolt started from the popular areas of London. We also talk about US with Ferguson, New York or Baltimore, where riots broke out against police crimes, especially police crimes against the African-Americans.
We see that the popular neighborhoods are outbreaks of revolt, and that throughout the world. As Maoist communists, we can not watch the revolts happen and just comment them. We must above all actively support them by all possible means.
Second, we must continue to target popular neighborhoods as places of intervention and implementation, because we consider them as areas where the revolutionary potential is important. For us, the factory or construction site are places where we work because the working class is the revolutionary class that befalls capitalism. But the place of living of the working class is just as important, and the popular neighborhoods are primarily working class neighborhoods. Doing Communist work consists in seizing every everyday problem. We must develop a policy of intervention under the watchword of «SERVE THE PEOPLE», be able to bring concrete solutions to concrete problems, and not just the talking and paper.
Also, we must continue the fight against police violence and police crimes. This daily work that must be our is taking place in our revolutionary strategy of People’s War. The People’s War is the way of the working class and the masses to take power, bring down the bourgeois state. And the revolt of the banlieues has demonstrated the fighting capacity of the proletarian youth. The revolt of the banlieus is a premise of the People’s War. But to go on the revolutionary path, it must move from revolt to revolution. And this is the first task of the communists. This is the work of organization, long and patient, where the Communists have to prove themselves. And this is primarily in practice than it shows.
Without practice, the best revolutionary theory can ever change that. It is in this way that we are committed and we will keep moving forward. The difficulties, errors and failures make us stronger. In the end, the revolt of the banlieues is primarily hopeful, it is a remedy against resignation. Alongside workers’ strikes and mass movements, the revolt of the banlieues is a component of the revolutionary movement that will sweep away the bourgeoisie and establish a system for the benefit of the working class, the proletariat and the masses, alongside the exploited and oppressed worldwide.
Long live the revolt of the suburbs!
Let’s make everything to pass from revolt to revolution !