Riot Resistance and ‘Nuit Debout’ movement: Both are Brilliant!

 ‘Nuit Debout’ and  anarchist ideas on democracy

 Convergence of The Struggles!

text from Crimethinc with thanks.      The wave of rebellion unleashed in France in response to the El-Khomri labour law has been impressive. The fighting spirit and political acuity shown by many of those blockading their colleges, blocking the railway lines, looting supermarkets and distributing the goods, attacking police stations, and  disseminating tracts against work itself is beautiful. But since 31st March, a new, friendlier-looking trend has emerged alongside the riots.  On that night, people responded to a call for a ‘Nuit Debout’ (night on your feet) to occupy something after the day’s demos.Paris

 In Paris it led to a large and continuous occupation of Place de la Republique. People had discussions, partied, and even prevented the eviction of Stalingrad migrant camp (note: the camp at Stalingrad is populated by several hundred refugees, many of whom have fled police harassment and eviction in Calais, and it & other migrant squats in the city have has been evicted at least 18 times(!) since last June). The occupations grew in size and spread rapidly over France and into Belgium and Spain.

original_570149dd15eb1While Nuit Debout is a heterogenous movement without a particularly distinct identity, it is clear from its statements and the rhetoric coming from the Paris occupation that it is a populist, wavey-hand type citizen movement that emphasises its non-violent and legal nature, sees neoliberalism as the main problem, and set its sights on real democracy.

comment: typical sour grapes comment by some old lefty, the same  type of rejection by anarchists happened with the indignados movement at first, then most  jumped on board as it became the best opportunity to illustrate and develop our ideas in a generation.Nuit-Debout-Protesters-confront-riot-police-in-Paris.-Photograph-by-Dominique-Faget-for-AFP-and-Getty-Images-e1460319068354

Like the Indignados movement it has been likened to, Nuit Debout appears to have all the hallmarks of an event set to launch the careers of aspiring leftie politicians and activist professionals – from special commissions, to massive centralised assemblies. Statements of caution against recuperation of the labour law protests have come from some quarters, and the riots have continued, but we fear that populist movements like Nuit Debout risk snuffing out militant resistance unless we learn lessons from the past. If we do so, occupations have the potential to be a cauldron of creativity, and an important place of encounter for new people as well as old — instead of the disempowering and bureaucractic affairs they often are.

comment: It’s silly to say Nuit Debout will ‘snuff out’ the brilliant riot resistance. It’s the police, politicians (and army and provocateurs if necessary) who will do that. There’s enough people for both, and the important physical fightback has been 95% young men, at least in the videos I’ve seen.. The views above pre-judge and write off this whole process!


Now seems like a good time to reproduce a long but important text from Crimethinc’s series of anarchist critiques of democracy, ‘direct democracy’, and popular assemblies. We are not against people coming together and making collective decisions — but all too often attempts are made to do this on a vast scale with a bureaucracy that mirrors representative democracy.


The article here and other texts in the Crimethic series share experiences of this and offer ideas for alternative visions of how we can live and fight together. You can read the other texts here.

comment: The indignados movement was never ‘recuperated’, the plazas were abandoned for the barrios, then the local assemblies morphed into myriad projects without leaders, the slogan was always ‘nobody represents us’. Podemos only began 3 years later. 

Thousands of people fill the Plaza del Sol in Madrid during the 15M mobilization in 2011

People fill the Plaza del Sol in Madrid during the similar15M mobilization in 2011in Spain


Rennes. The nightly rioting has scared the French rulers but not enough to stop the oppressive new Jobs Law.




 Thousands of people are having their first experience of an assembly of equals.

Cop down...Paris


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