At the borders of oppression
The mobilization against borders
– existing between states, in every cop, in stations, airports and administrations, and in every mind raised in the West – has been going on for two years in Briançon, a struggleless land in the absence of an organized proletarian class.
We are re-posting here the text written by some comrades in reaction to the recent repressive events at the French-Italian border, against exiled people and those who stand in solidarity.
The sketching of a thought against state and class borders
Posted on Wednesday 9th January, 2019, by La Canarde
For two years, the fraction that aimed to be the most radical of this mobilization has struggled to define its objectives, its common thinking, divided between the desire for conciliation to broaden its support, its own a-priories about the orchestration of the border and of minds, and struggling to meet.
These people, hen thieves and unsavoury women, met, discussed, and began to put this essential thought of struggle into the Briançonnais.
On the 10th of January, 2019, two comrades appeared before the Gap Criminal Court.
They stand accused of assisting people in their illegal crossing of the French-Italian border, near Briançon.
There is no reason to be indignated or even surprised. The control of borders , goods and human beings admitted or not admitted to cross them is an exclusive and essential prerogative of States.
Which is embodied in the daily persecution and endangering by the police of people who try to enter and stay in France without the right papers.
This is reflected in the conclusion of agreements with Libyan warlords, the King of Maroc and other dictatorships, Turkish or Sudanese.
The concept: border externalisation.
The consequences: tens of thousands of lives swallowed up by the desert and the sea, systematic rape of women and torture, mass internment in concentration camps, slavery.
From Khartoum to Calais, from barbed wire in Libyan camps to night patrols by cops in the mountains, one and the same policy.
Anyone who intends to challenge this monopoly of state border control is exposed to a reaction from the government. This reaction is expressed in this court through the voice of the prosecutor and the future sanction of the judges. In this world-system, repression takes many forms: it is economic, police-driven, criminal, more or less systematic and brutal depending on the position assigned to you on the scale of domination.
This world, this system is a carnage. An unlimited plundering of all resources, rendering uninhabitable an increasing portion of the territories that people are forced to leave. An ecological carnage that includes biomass extraction, desertification, soil impoverishment, massive drying and pollution of rivers, melting of freshwater reservoirs, loss of biodiversity and natural pollinators, chemical and nuclear contamination of territories. From Amazonia to Central Africa, Mongolia, Belarus or Japan. Everywhere.
Mass food insecurity, famines, epidemics, genocides and other plagues are affecting entire swathes of humanity. They are the effects and the heart of war, whether economical, financial or military.
The living are subjected to a delusional, completely cannibalistic behaviour of the capitalist system. Everything has the potential to become a commodity: from drinking water to women’s bodies, from the AK-47 to fetuses.
This carnage leaves irreparable traces of violence in individual and collective histories. This system sows death and deserts. And more than ever, poverty and exploitation are the common fate of humanity as a whole – or almost. In such a system, sooner or later, anyone can and will find themselves shipwrecked and having to leave to look elsewhere for where and how to survive.
In this merciless war against the living and humanity, we are all castawaysin the making.
Following this logic, we are all commodities, resources and fuses of the logic of capitalist profitability. Globalization has been carried out for the benefit of industrial and financial powers in a logic of total privatisation at the cost of dispossessing the greatest number of people.
The history of the colonized countries contains its share of excessive suffering and exploitation, racism, denial of the individual, wars, and domination by European powers.
Western industrial and financial monopolies have been able, thanks to the support of States and their armies, through the influence and corruption of local owners of colonies or ex-colonies, to appropriate evermore raw materials, increase their production, swallow up new juicy markets, in regions where costs are low, wage rights are virtually absent and exploitation is almost slavery.
Human Merchandise and Competition
Migration to Europe, however marginal it may be in relation to migration movements in the world, has generated phenomenal media noise in recent years. These candidates for integration represent a godsend in several ways. Perfect scapegoats in a time were the rhetoric of permanent insecurity prevails, they make it possible to buy and manufacture the far right electoral basis. They then justify the strengthening of Europe’s internal and external borders, and on all possible territories, the use of equipment and means of surveillance, control, repression, confinement, etc., as a playground and a lucrative market for the weapon industry. Finally, the new arrivals represent an ideal workforce: they arrive at the employer’s premises at their own expense, at a price that defies all local competition, without social or work protection, made docile by the difficulties of the journey, and disposable as soon as it is no longer useful.
Employers are not mistaken when they say that this exploitable migration is necessary. How can we still think that immigration is a problem today when it contributes to growth, if not to ensure that the exploited are pitted against one another ?
In the former French colonies and in France, one may find themself working for the same transnational firms, more or less exploited depending on whether or not one has the right papers. One can feel privileged here, although “the crisis” (which is only a reorganization of capitalist production) also affects the population as its standards of living decline. The massive dismissals in the industrial centres (i.e. Arcelor Mittal) are ruining many workers lives and are not caused by migration of people but by the migration of machines and investments where production costs are more attractive, more “competitive”.
Migrants are accused of being competitors in the labour market while they are exploited as well. French truckers have painfully felt the arrival of workers from Eastern Europe in the form of greater pressure from their bosses on work schedule, hourly rates, etc.
The nationalist, xenophobic withdrawal that is spreading and may appear to be a “threat to democracy” is understandable in this context of economic insecurity, suffering and precariousness, which are only the concrete effects of the violent competition of the proletariat.
Liberty, equality, fraternity. The values invoked by the State in its modern history have been and remain various ways of disguising the logics of exploitation to justify them, regardless of the references used: white racial superiority, scientism, positivism, development, human rights. All universalisms born in the intellectual circles of the conquering countries were just as many values mobilized by the ruling class to defend its own industrial, economic, cultural and other interests.
Far from being ideals, worn down and distorted by the functioning of democratic institutions, these values have been the flag branded by capitalism, that allowed it to become the world-dominant system. And this flag is already nothing more than a dirty cloth, thrown into the dustbin of history written from above.
Moreover, the system’s watchdogs, authorized chroniclers and other reactionary thinkers are not mistaken, who rely on these values hardly for anything else than the justification of the closure of the internal space, where they will be protected from a “barbaric” outside: security, possibly liberticidal in the name of freedom, or equality within a chosen part of the population. The outburst of contempt, in the name of republican values, which has been expressed in recent weeks against those who have taken to the streets and roundabouts, affirming their refusal to be governed and trying to connect and organize themselves accordingly, is part of the same mechanism.
There, the “barbarians”, here, the “hateful crowds”. In danger, values. And to defend them, strength.
Today, the State deploys a militia at its borders to monitor and track down exiled people. Maraudes are being organized to help them, not because mountains, snow and cold are dangers in themselves, but because of the risk posed by this security deployment. And justice is chasing those who take part in it. The message is clear: anyone who wants to translate into action the values engraved on the pediment of all public buildings can end up in jail.
Can we therefore expect a court to restore, in the name of these values, a so-called état de droit, « state of right » which is, in the end, nothing more than a show of force, that of capitalist totalitarianism and the violence that always accompanies it?
Can we even invoke these values in a kind of absolute that would remove the fundamental question of oppressive relationships that, however, would condition the possibility of their realization?
We no longer want to believe in this lie. In its war against life and humanity, this system, of which the State is only a cog, admits only one value: that of profit.
What possibility is there for a struggle in Briançon, a territory where the proletarian class (seasonal workers in the resorts and precarious workers in the construction industry) is atomized and for a large part itinerant, therefore poorly organized in the face of the exploiting class, and which will find itself on the street when global warming has eroded hopes for snow sports? What struggle in a territory where the possessing class benefits from the tourist exploitation of the mountain staged as a wild space, preserved in a spectacle characteristic of leisure capitalism? What possible struggle can there be in a territory where the police are responsible for ensuring that “undesirables” are invisible in this postcard setting?
Challenging this border order means challenging the entire leisure industry, which is only a local form of global carnage.
Neither here nor elsewhere, we do not want a tiny minority to make decisions, or accumulate extorted wealth. Neither here nor elsewhere, we cannot ignore the carnage. But can a perspective where one helps an “other”, when so many others remain abandoned, be enough? Can we imagine extracting ourselves from the carnage, emancipating ourselves collectively other than through a common struggle? What can we do but fight in every situation where we perceive common interests, to reaffirm them and free ourselves together, starting from the consciousness of a common condition, between the exploited and against the exploiters? Can we oppose racist state policies any longer without associating ourselves with the main parties concerned, where they are already organizing and fighting? Can we fight police violence without a systemic analysis that takes into account at least all of the perspectives mentioned here?
Text conceived and written by a collective of socially heterogeneous people who are all white and with French national papers. This text is a first step, an essential version to begin to lay the foundations for a basic reflection on a struggle. If you want to modify it, enrich it, develop it, feel free.