France - November 2005

When the suburbs are burning, revolution cracklings are to be heard

* * *

Let's not deny ourselves a good thing. All these bonfires all over France and even abroad, it's heart-warming. This proves to anyone who'll listen that when revolt is brewing, it can spread like wildfire. To those who think revolution is not anymore on the agenda and that the proletariat is too much resigned, submitted, powerless or even nonexistent, the fast extension of the movement and its strength proved the opposite: the proletariat can raise its head. Obviously, we don't kid ourselves; proletariat's general situation and division didn't allow breaking enough with the isolation of this struggle at the national and international level as well. There was no hope that this explosion was able to lead the whole planet towards a generalized insurrection. Indeed the bourgeoisie has nowadays the capacity to confine the revolt to a sector of the proletariat, to avoid it extending too much beyond the borders and to temporarily suppress it; but we'll not be surprised when the world revolution will emerge so suddenly in the same way with such violence. Explosions are ineluctably linked to the daily catastrophe of capital, while the proletariat is standing up for itself against the increasingly provocative aggressions from this inhuman mode of production.

We are against the current of prevailing pessimism about the capacity of the proletariat to become subject of history again; we are against the current of all the falsifications and divisions the state and its servants of all sides try to impose to the movement in order to better bring discredit on it and to weaken it. Indeed we objectively see the revolution as a potential behind this movement because we consider its deeply proletarian nature. We assert very clearly that this movement is about our class rejecting its situation no more no less. It is also imperative to be critical, while recognizing our struggling class brothers. We cannot attribute only to repression and to police armaments the limits we note in this movement, but we also have to blame the own limits the proletariat imposes itself, particularly while letting itself be credulous by ideologies that impede us. Nowadays, many proletarians didn't indeed recognize themselves in these Molotov cocktails that stroke fear and trembling into bourgeois order; and this attitude prevented a necessary widening of the movement, for various reasons we are going to briefly analyse.

1. Some people considered they are living better conditions than those who are confined in council housing estates (HLM). Sure that very soon their turn will come to be relegated to the scrap heap of capital. Others recognized these living conditions as theirs but didn't take the initiative to go lending the rebels a hand, because they were afraid to lose the few things granted by the bourgeoisie in order to enslave them to a pseudo-comfort. But this comfort hangs by a thread because our masters are pushed by the wild competition to snatch from our hands the carrots they offer us and they should use the stick more and more when we will try to prevent them doing so. Wages are decreasing, employment stability is part of a mythical past, servitude measures and alienation mechanisms are getting worse: absurdity of this world is blatant everywhere. Not many workers, even those who nowadays are struggling in France and elsewhere, noticed the similarity of their struggle with the one that took place in front of their eyes.

2. Others didn't recognize themselves in these movements because the main actors were youngsters. They didn't notice these young proletarians were spokespersons, fury holders, despair holders, of their elders, of their sisters, of the younger generation, etc. who probably have a lot of greater hang-ups because of their more inconvenient roles and responsibilities. How is it possible not imagining that many people supported and took part in the revolt and organized it, at other levels than to throw oneself into the heat of the action? Maintaining this confusion while turning it into an issue about youngsters with nothing to do, this was the main argument used by the bourgeoisie in order to confine the movement. We don't care how old were the first row actors: in the street, they were proletarians against the state.

3. The state promoted the representation of "immigrants" riots, and a lot of proletarians believe and repeat the package of clichés necessary to differentiate themselves from those they like calling "riffraff". It is necessary to recall that the capitalistic society is fundamentally racist. There is no bourgeois fraction, including the social democratic one, being really antiracist. Those who pretend to be like this are those who pretend that capitalism could not be racist, that it could not constantly regenerate the conditions for reproducing racism within proletarians, who are in competition each other before their exploiters. Once again during these riots, we saw that the bourgeois discuss only one thing: the way to bring proletarians under control, while playing the spectacle of controversies on the level of patriotic citizenship and "integration" to be granted to the different categories of people who are in possession of residence permits and definitively provisional papers as well. The world and racist division of labour is an objective reality, through the historic differences of submission to exploitation and the ideologies that justify it. Each proletarian develops his own "origin", what is differentiating him on the market of labour force, when looking for a house or facing the cops, etc. We know that the suburbs thrown into a state of unrest are experiencing an important rate of proletarians from immigrant extraction, often at the umpteenth generation. We also know that the social system creates the conditions of social contradictions deterioration, packing proletarians who cannot bear each other at the end. And once again the system uses this deterioration against the struggles that inevitably burst out, stigmatising the "alien" troublemakers. We know that such a movement leads proletarians into rebellion apart from their origin and brutally recalls to capital that indeed it does nothing but unifying its slaves in their misery. This means that we are against the current of those who falsify movements like this, while considering them as simple exacerbations of social deterioration peculiar to these housing estates, whose inhabitants are considered as not "workers" enough and are ideologically deprived of their statute of proletarians.

4. The movement started in the suburbs and many other proletarians didn't either feel concerned, because of that. Some people because they succeeded in fleeing from these suburbs in order to buy a less rotten place of residence, and others because they haven't yet been forced to stay there and feel more sheltered from the ignominy of housing policies. But it doesn't matter much whether we are herded into rabbit hutches and boxes, whether we pay for an increasingly exorbitant rent or whether we are obliged to bleed ourselves dry for paying off a mortgage. These differences give the idea that we could improve our everyday life, but as long as we won't get out of prehistory, as long as we won't abolish capitalistic social relations, our everyday life will ever be to pay for our right to live; to pay those for whom and through whom the "constitutional state" has been established. And if the bourgeoisie doesn't have any scruples about confining our class brothers in ugly tower blocks, we don't delude on the fact that it has no mercy on any of us and that it will let us die if we don't show anymore any servility towards this system. The minister of the interior used a word, which is valid for each of us and through which we can appreciate how the bourgeoisie holds us in low regard, even though he tried to limit the impact of this little word only to the troublemakers: we are all of us riffraff since we are all of us potentially dangerous for the survival of its world.

5. The ruling class always managed to keep the monopoly of violence and to use a part of the exploited class in order to defend the exploitation. This is really the main key of its long life. Then, when the proletariat in the suburbs doesn't express itself peacefully, through sheep-like processions and consensual banners, other proletarians are shocked. They don't see anymore the historic violence that consists in making us working every day so as capital grows fat, the subtle violence constantly acting in order to maintain our submission; and these proletarians close their eyes before the repression that breaks out against those who don't accept anymore submissively their living conditions. They forget that this same bourgeoisie doesn't hesitate to send us violently to war, for killing and dying if its interests need to make so. They forget the daily violence of the capitalistic mode of production catastrophe, devastating the whole planet, and they hide behind natural catastrophes, "interethnic" conflicts, bad governance, etc. They don't see this violence anymore, this terrorism the bourgeoisie exercises permanently over and against us, but moreover they support it while condemning any riposte from their own class brothers, proletarian riposte that is necessarily a violent one, revolutionary terror that alone will be able to give birth to a society without violence: Communism.

6. The main strength of the movement was certainly to have nothing to claim. Too much proletarians are accustomed to claim wages increases, tax decreases, economic or social politics changes, etc, and this always in a constructive, reasonable, peaceful and legal way; for a lot of them this movement in the suburbs didn't have any clear objective and appeared from then on like without perspective or even self-destructive. Our perspective is nevertheless to have nothing to claim, in the reformist sense of the word, that is to say to have nothing to expect from the bourgeoisie but to recover what it appropriated: i.e. the means of life production. We don't claim anything particularly; we claim all. And therefore, we see some revolutionary perspectives where many conceal and disguise the reality behind the permanent apology of the limited framework of punctual claiming, of "positive" answers to social desires: e.g. a job, a lodging, a wage and something for distracting us from our true human's desires. In the movements in question we see a determination for a radical change because even though it hasn't been clearly verbalized, it clearly expressed itself in the action. A straight tendency aiming at targeting what destroys us asserted itself during this movement; we briefly make an assessment about in our leaflet. Obviously, the whole bourgeois press mobilized itself to show us a spectacle of nihilistic disaster, unreasoning and blind violence, morbid game and manipulation. Thus, the medias very rarely spoke about proletarians and when they did, it was only to point out the owners of burned-out cars, trying this way to make us believe that proletarians and bourgeois have the same thing to defend. As an illustration of all this, we are longing to publish this quotation from an anonymous leaflet that emerged from the events:

"Simply burning the scenery we don't want to see anymore, the one of oppressive misery, the one of confining and suffocating concrete city. Burning public transport that humiliates the impossibility to get out of this greyish everyday life. Burning the schools of "The Republic" that are the first places of exclusion, selection, sorting, classifying, where training to obedience is learnt. Burning town halls, managers of misery, and police stations, synonymous for humiliation, bullying, thrashing and beating. Burning the state that manages these open-air jails. Burning political parties' offices. Burning scornful politicians. Burning the elite. Burning warehouses of merchandises, cars dealers, banks, video clubs, supermarkets, shopping centres, television studio of production, etc. Burning and not stealing (1). Just to see this merchandise going up in smoke, the one for which we have to work hard and it's quite "normal" to desire, consume and accumulate. Burning because it seems to be the only way to make oneself heard, to be not anymore invisible. Burning with the obvious hope to see things changing."

7. As usual, the medias fully relayed the hackneyed idea according to which unscrupulous gangsters or "radical Islamists" could only lead the movement. This is another element of the arsenal of measures set up in order to avoid things going from bad to worse for the state, which has been forced to acknowledge afterwards, especially through its political police service "Renseignements Généraux" (2), that it was nothing of the kind; but the doubt thus created about insurgents' motivations had the desirable impact: denying and concealing the essentially proletarian characteristic of the movement. The trap of hijacking is obviously very present but quite as much by Islamist gurus than by those of traditional left, or in other words by religious or laic social democracy, all of them united and working at the burial of our struggle. From everywhere one heard calling for peace. Because it was impossible for them to deny state-controlled violence and social deterioration, most of the left-wing organizations took refuge behind the stinking watchword according to which "it is necessary to substitute for the police state of emergency, a social state of emergency". Which means more local and community policemen in our neighbourhoods, more social workers (i.e. social cops), more animators and educators acting as social peacekeepers, more slave drivers for "new labour markets", etc. Social state is police state forever. Repression and reformism: same fighting!

The consequence of all these smokescreens was that our brothers in the suburbs were alone to confront the state. Few proletarians from outside joined their struggle. They could have made it outside of the suburbs; capital is indeed everywhere. But the division of the proletariat allowed once again the repression forces to restore temporarily law and order in the proletarian neighbourhoods. Those who, either actively or through their passivity, support repression in France, also allow repression forces to crush our struggles elsewhere, e.g. in Iraq, in Bolivia, in Algeria, etc. These armed forces from different nations are able to unite when capital is in danger somewhere on the planet. They fear more than everything that the proletariat in their own country unite through concomitant action with their brothers from elsewhere; because this situation would hinder them in the realization of their crimes. We are going to draw a temporary conclusion because history didn't yet conclude; this movement will rebound sooner or later with renewed vigour. Let's keep the fire going, this fire that gave life to the movement, so that the wind of revolt will then blow, even stronger, up to outside of the suburbs.

Repression was hard, with the consequence that many of our brothers were jailed in capital's prisons. It doesn't matter much whether those who have been repressed are guilty or not from the point of view of law and order. It's our class that has been attacked and whatever we can do for getting them out of there, let's do it!

A lot of associations advocating citizenship are going to try to get us walking for more justice: let's outflank them!

Social peacekeepers tried to restore law and order in the housing estates: let's keep them in our mind!

Organizational structures of the struggle were informally or formally set up: let's try to keep and develop them!

It's not a trivial matter to experience an open struggle against capital: let's discuss, analyse and prepare for the next start!

Long live these fires of revolt!


1 - What a pity that struggling proletarians didn't have more opportunities to reappropriate a part of the wealth produced by our class!

2 - Here is a quotation of the "Renseignements Généraux" report of November 23th, 2005: "France experienced a kind of unorganised insurrection with the emergence in time and space of a popular revolt in the suburbs, without any leader and without proposition for a program. (...) Youngsters in the suburbs developed a strong sense of identity based not only on their ethnic or geographical origin, but on their condition of victims of social exclusion in this country."

In relation with these movements in France, here are the positions of those who think the revolution won't be the outburst of all social passions produced by the capital's disaster, but rather a well-ordered and conscious task of national and local workers who are mature, responsible, pacific, well-disciplined through labour. Those ones either don't want the riffraff blow up the very foundations of this world.

Echoing the Minister of the Interior Sarkozy who declared wanting "to clean up the riffraff in the suburbs with a Kärcher" [with a high-pressure water cleaner], a few organizations pretending to be on the proletarian side showed their true colours, while denying class struggle. We have to emphasize here some quotations:

"What is most striking about these actions, apart from the extent of the damage and violence, is their total absurdity. [...] In the same way, the injuries inflicted on the fire-fighters, people whose job is to protect others, often at risk to their own lives, are truly shocking. [...] The depredations committed in the poor neighbourhoods night after night have nothing whatever to do with the struggle of the working class." (International Communist Current - 8th November 2005) []

"The informal political expression of this urban violence is not compatible with the perspective of independent proletarian struggle. [...] It is necessary to work for the cessation of acts which only aggravate the already difficult situation of the working class." (Mouvement Communiste - Letter number 19 - December 2005) []

"The propagation of acts of violence is unacceptable for the populations concerned. Order must be re-established. It is urgent to take a series of measures which will allow us to put an end to a more and more dangerous development. The security of everyone cannot be re-established by accepting the escalation of violence." (French Communist Party - 6th November 2005) [quoted by Mouvement Communiste]

Obviously, there is nothing new in the fact that organizations self-proclaimed as being on the side of the proletariat are denigrating the struggle of the proletariat and are in fact supporters of bourgeois law and order they pretend to call into question. If we publish these pearls, it's not only to emphasize the practical counterrevolutionary role these groups are playing, but moreover to denounce a general conception of the proletariat (workerist, (male) chauvinist, europeist, unionist, etc.), which inevitably leads to a counterrevolutionary practice.

"Is this the rabble? Well I'm one of them!"

(The Commune of Paris, 1871)

More than one century ago, whereas the bourgeoisie already called proletarians "the rabble", these ones answered while asserting through insurrection their own contempt for this society that only has misery to offer them.

Today, the capitalistic society herds us and packs us into deprived and garbage estates where brutal misery and boredom rule supreme. Once the unrest began, the state wanted to turn them into a matter of "immigrants" and as ever denounced the "rabble", the "riffraff". Against this division the struggle of our class answered:

"Is this the riffraff? Well I'm taking part!" (*)

Today, in several cities all over the world, proletarians identify with social unrest in deprived estates of 300 districts in France!

Attacks on town halls, banks, post offices, law courts, social security centres, jobcentres (ANPE), schools, sports halls, police stations, warehouses, stores, urban transports, journalists, etc.

Proletarian, yes indeed, private property, commodity and the institutions that defend them are responsible for our misery and exploitation, for murders and "police blunders", for jail and everyday deportations... The state does everything to trap us in neighbourhoods, factories, schools: distances, transportation, cops, social workers and other community policemen, mindless state through education and sport, etc.

Proletarian, break through these quarantine lines, get out of the suburbs! Look at Argentina: they got out of their different neighbourhoods to hold up the traffic, paralyzing the economy and organizing the riposte towards repression.

Politicians (current or alternative ones), either right- or left-wingers, journalists and other official lies-tellers, associations praising citizenship, careerists and crooks of "Suburbs Respect", imams,... all of them try to make believe that the resignation of such bastard of minister, the mass involvement in the next elections could change things... All of them try to buy our obedience to better send us to the slaughter.

And you proletarian who has a "steady" job, you whose it's said that you took "the social ladder", don't forget that increasing exploitation or unemployment are waiting for you on each floor; already the CRS [riot police] are waiting for you on the floor of your future revolt. Don't join today the state in its contempt of "the riffraff", don't be accomplice of the repression against those who dared to take to the streets.

Against the divisions the state tries to impose us between youngsters and old folks, between suburbanites and city-dwellers, between immigrants and people of French origin... Let's answer together: "Is this the riffraff? Well we're taking part!"

Let's destroy what destroys us! Let's leave this society only but its ashes.

Let's oppose proletarian violence to violence of the state! Let's get out of the suburbs, let's get organized to defend us against the capital and its state.

Internationalist Communist Group (ICG)

BP 33 - Saint-Gilles (BRU) 3 - 1060 Brussels - Belgium - icgcikg[at]
Comrade, don't hesitate to copy parts or the whole of this leaflet, it's an expression of a class living and struggling to suppress its own slave condition. - November 2005 -
(*) Untranslatable play on words in French with "Canaille" and "Racaille" we translated as "Rabble" and "Riffraff": 1/ "Canaille" ("Rabble") is a pejorative term that has been historically used by the bourgeois to refer to people considered as being insignificant and dishonest persons, the "populace", the "mob" or the "proletariat in rags". The song written during the "Commune of Paris" refered to this "rabble" and proclaimed this identity as a class expression. 2/ "Racaille" ("Riffraff") is an insulting term, which meaning is: infamous, vile, disgusting, shameful, rubbish, garbage, scrap, scum, dregs of society, etc. The French Minister of the Interior, Sarkozy, launched a campaign of repression against the struggling young proletarians of suburbs, while describing them as "riffraff".