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Paris/Clermont : I witnessed the (citizenist) hell of Nuit Debout

Tuesday 2 June 2015

All the versions of this article: [Deutsch] [English] [français]

For reasons not entirely dependent on my own will, I found myself drawn into Nuit Debout. Not that I had any intention of “radicalising” the middle class’ revolt, but I had been told that it wouldn’t be what I soon discovered it was.

I thus ended up at a Nuit Debout occupation. I managed to enter because I knew people inside (entry is otherwise forbidden, in case “rioters” come to “vandalise”, of course…). At the entrance, two people searched my bag… An “occupation” in name only, and which I would designated by another term, upon learning that the owner of the place consented to it. So be it.

Entering, I had the completely feigned joy of finding the place full of littered bottles, of hippies smoking joints and playing the guitar. Further on, a (sitting) General Assembly. A few activist photographers. A flag of Che. Oh, well. I felt like I might have some trouble finding congenial folks, other than those I knew. Thus, nothing happened, the hippies smoked, drank, played and the others did too. I soon found a corner in which to rest by weary head. At least until, early in the morning, a bunch of cops came along to perform identity checks, so I made it for the exit. Tremble, bourgeois, here come the petite-bourgeoisie.

A little later, I ended up at the Nuit Debout proper, in the Big City. Okay. Why not, there were concerts. Well, mainly a concert by a reggae band well-known to the citizens, but unknown to me (Rastafarianism stinks even more than citizenism, so…). I went around the stalls, having been told it would be different… A huge Palestinian flag (I’ve never seen such a large flag). Because, dear companions and proletarians, let it be drilled into you skulls: the nationalism of the oppressed has nothing to do with bourgeois nationalism, hence the French flag painted on the Square, still adorned with the words “Je Suis Charlie”. There quite a range of stuff concerning Palestine: GA Abdallah, BDS, Palestinian students, a meal to collect funds, all spread out over 30 metres. I also saw an activist library, advertising its donations, mainly to… l’Humanité. And to other papers that I didn’t know, but whose names arouse the imagination: Le Patriote, La Marseillaise. Hence perhaps the fact that the red-and-brown folks of the PRCF were distributing carefree, without Nuit Debout lifting a finger despite its insistance that it excludes conspiracy theorists, fascists, and so on. L’Humanité had a stall too (so yeah, no political parties, but parties’ newspapers are fine). Stalls of Psy Debout (anything as long as it’s “debout”), an anti-speciesist stall, perhaps the least worst of the bunch. A less-than-incredible stall against Françafrique. A pro-candle ecologist stall. L’Envolée. Oh, and the publisher Libertalia, along with a bunch of ’stars’ of the milieu, with nearly an entire marquee to themselves. The only ones missing were the anti-semites and racialists of the PIR.

Oh, well. On to the commissions, from the oxymoronic “secure IT”, to the “action” commission (aha), the “citizen Jury” commission and its “recruiting office”, and wait for it…… the “Separation of MEDEF and State” commission. I must admit that citizenists are good at reinventing themselves. At one point I could have sworn I was at a situationnist fairground. Then, above all, on the 15th of May, a debate with Nuit Debouts from around the world: Brussels, Berlin, Brasil, Spain who were celebrating the anniversary of the 15M, etc etc; and whose message was always the same: “let’s unite the citizenry’s struggles against neoliberalism”.

In short, quite an unbearable moment. A leaflet, trying to pass itself off as revolutionary, was scolding those revolutionaries who dared to criticise Nuit Debout, which they claim aspires to break free from the pitfalls of representative democracy… Well, that’s hardly what I witnessed there. Middle class rebellion is a counter-revolutionary tool, and we can’t expect anything from this movement. Not a thing. I came, I saw, I ran away.
Citizens of the world, punish yourselves.

Ernest Coeurdeuaine