Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Unrest in France Following a General Trend Across Europe

In France, anarchists and other leftists are reacting to the electoral victory of conservative Nicolas Sarkozy with riots, although you probably have not heard about the unrest in the U.S. media. While it is obvious that many of the rioters see Sarkozy as an anti-immigrant zealot and denounce him as a "fascist," informative reporting from the streets may be hindered by a law recently passed by the French Constitutional Council that effectively criminalizes the filming or broadcasting of acts of violence by people other than professional journalists.

Despite the new law, there is plenty of footage on YouTube, some of which we are providing here.





While there may not be one single issue that could be blamed for sparking the riots, it's worth noting that Sarkozy is decidedly pro-American, and with so much anger in France over the Iraq war and other unpopular U.S. policies, it shouldn't come as a great surprise that passions are so intense over the election results. Also, Sarkozy has vowed to tackle the French "welfare state," promising to “restore the value of work, authority, merit and respect for the nation.” In a country like France, with its 35-hour work week and generous vacation time, many see Sarkozy as a threat to their very way of life.

In a broader sense, it could also be pointed out that the riots seem to be following a general pattern that is being seen across Europe recently. From Greece to Italy to Denmark, people are taking to the streets -- sometimes violently -- to protest neoliberal economic policies such as the privatization of the university system in Greece and American encroachments into Europe such as the new military base proposed for Vicenza, Italy.

In typically tranquil Denmark, thousands of youth recently rioted in response to the Danish government's decision to shut down a decades-old anarchist squat known as Ungdomshuset, or "The Youth House." Following the eviction of Ungdomshuset, the Copenhagen neighborhood of Norrebro became the scene of ongoing street battles for several days:



A similar scene played out in Greece in March, when the Greek constitution was amended to allow privatization of the country's university system:



These scenes of violence may soon sweep Italy as well, if the U.S. government carries through on its plans to make the northeastern Italian town of Vicenza the largest US military site in Europe. David Swanson of AfterDowningStreet.org reported yesterday that "the people of Vicenza, and all of Italy, have sworn it will never happen," and noted that in February 200,000 people descended on the town in protest of the plans.


Largely as a result [of the protest], the Prime Minister of Italy was (temporarily) driven out of power. Meanwhile, just outside Vicenza, large tents now hold newly minted citizen activists keeping a 24-hour-per-day vigil and training hundreds of senior citizens, children, and families every day in how to nonviolently stop bulldozers. The bulldozers they are waiting for are American.

The conflict, should it come about, will be as surprising to American television viewers as were the attacks of 9-11, unless someone tells them ahead of time what is going on. This week a group of Italians is in Washington, D.C., attempting to do just that. A group of Italian Members of Parliament also visited Washington last month in opposition to the base.

While so far the demonstrations have been peaceful, it should not come as a great surprise if Italian anger over the proposed base spills into violence, if recent trends across Europe are any indication.

4 comments:

1000myths said...

The 29th anniversary of May '68 and the student revolts in Paris was yesterday. Coincidence? I doubt it.
A dress rehearsal for May '08?
"Je ne sait pas- encore"

Penny said...

Everyone is sick of these whithered old occidental xenophobic imperialists living off the myth of their Divine Manifest Destiny to control the world off in to hell just benefit the wealthiest 1% of all human kind. This thing is coming to an explosive head. These despotic tyrants like Sarcosy, Dumya Bush, Tony Blair, and corpratists like Cheney are going down sooner as opposed to later, because the rest of humanity is tired, worn, and weary. These men hold the world in nothing but contempt. They want us to die so that they don't have to waste resources feeding, clothing, sheltering, healing, and watering us. Though there is enough earth to sustain us all, these men feel entitled to more than their share. Our existence prevents them from having absolutely everything they feel they have coming to them. The longer these evil men deprive and suppress us, the more we will come to hate them. The Revolution will become more obvious to these men the same day they realize there are more disadvantaged, disenfranchised people suffering at their hands than there are desposts able to torment them. It's not just in France. The Revolution simply is not being televised. Liberty, though, is a pregnant woman about to give birth to the Revolution that births a new liberty, fraternity, and equality. One day, Humanity will be a single race of many nations and ethnicities. All human flesh will eat at one table together. Long Live The Revolution!

Nat Parry said...

Thanks for the comments! I can't say I disagree with either of you.

Michael said...

Penny writes:

"They want us to die so that they don't have to waste resources feeding, clothing, sheltering, healing, and watering us."

Of course, Bush and Blair are ordinary citizens (if you can call a couple of psychopaths ordinary, that is) elected to positions of power, which they, then, abuse. They don't give us anything, and "God" certainly didn't bequeath to them the world's resources.

As John Dewey said: Government is the shadow cast by big business over society.

We can feed, clothe, and look after ourselves perfectly well. We don't need Bush and Blair to do that for us.

Unfortunately, big business has been given, and has usurped, large amounts of economic and political power. This power arises out of the economic and political activity of humans, and, therefore, belongs to each and every one of us, not to a legal entity, which is what a corporation is.

Only when corporations are stripped of the legal right to be treated as individuals, will we regain control over our lives.