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The internal war against liberalism

My political certainties and doubts are currently based on events that disrupted me during these last 4 months of my life.

These major changes mainly consisted in deep questioning of the activist scene in which I have been evolving for almost two years. Time when my process of politicization started. This leads to doubts and self-criticism about my own way of life and thinking, but could be seen also in the more global political and historical context of the whole extreme left-wing activism in Western Europe (France and Germany for what I experienced).

I will try in the following text to develop synthetically what these disruptions comprise.

The ZAD under neo-liberal influence

The critical understanding of neo-liberal mentality, the importance of critical- autocritical practice, of ideological work, of organization, of internationalism... Starting to understand these values made me able to visualize with striking clarity the lacks of our social movements and spaces of struggle in France and Germany, especially in the autonomous/squatting/ZAD scene.

The occupation of Lützerath, where I lived for a few months the previous summer, appeared to me as new guiding light: the typical example of a ZAD contaminated by neoliberal ideology. Aesthetics and symbolism taking over real political action in order to make the place attractive; consequence = massification of the struggle, but politicization does not follow. Events at the occupation are mainly made of parties and consuming, they come to fill the good conscience (and their own Instagram feeds!) of student, urban, rather privileged public, who exhausts the forces of the inhabitants deploying all their energy to welcome them for a weekend…

No communal life organized by living places and different groups with strong comradship links, having their own autonomous structures, but general assemblies and centralized ”self-organization” tools. For example, thanks to organization boards where one enters one's name, the individuals and their inmediate desires are linked to tasks to be carried out for the good functioning of the occupation. No need for social interaction for the process, and it was difficult to build friendships with people who were just passing through, with whom one only spent one or two hours at a given time before leaving for a new task, with a new team. So it was literally possible to spend your whole day doing collective tasks, while talking to almost no one.

Militant radicalism was negatively associated with violence, hoods, and lack of thought, as media discourses were taken up by the activists themselves, bourgeoisie and state’s propaganda was not fought.

Within our own place of struggle it was difficult to build a radical alternative to pacifism, to reformism, to ”being pleasent and consensual to everyone, at any costs”. The eviction was an opportunity for me to find comrades with whom to share and carry on with these critics.

Before the Lutzerath eviction I was obsessed with one question: how to have a politicizing impact about the crowd of students who will come and go over the next two weeks? Instead of wanting to be in the middle of the action, surrounded by police and journalists, my group of comrades and I decided to do a work of sharing and and spreading ideas by recording radio programs about the eviciton. It was hard for me to accept not to physically resist the police with the majority of the ‘‘ZADists’’, not to defend our huts and our barricades.

I understood here that the desire for action was partly driven by a need for egocentric recognition. That was the case for many of us. But that could also evolve through self-education and critical work.

By participating in the radio I understood in practice what the complementarity between direct action and ideological work meant. I understood that the ZAD was going to be physically destroyed, but that the revolutionary mentalities at the ZAD still had to be built.

Resistance to the police was important because it would mark all these young people who were experiencing it for the first time. But the resistance to the neo-liberal mentality was non-existent, which is why I chose to make it my priority, until today in other militant places.

The Insurrectionary fantasy

At the same time, I was reading a book on the evolution of anti-militarism, because the military question has always interested me a lot. Since the ZADs, the squats, the evictions, the riots, I had developed a very clear vision of which strategy needs to be adopted to attack capitalism: the material destruction of all its power structures should be our main objective. Pushing this idea forward to their logical conclusion, I found a wall braking my progress:

Capitalism and its states have armed forces that will defend their interests at all costs. And we are unarmed, have no tactical knowledge, no physical and psychological training.

For almost a year, this idea horrified me and pushed me to action: how to build effective barricades? How to transmit the practices I learned in the black-blocks? How to build a military counter- culture, to develop an anarchist ethic of the use of violence, anti- authoritarian forms of command? How to bring this subject to the table in a left-wing scene that seems to be in denial and ignorance of these questions? How do we overcome the dogmatic anti-militarism of leftists, making them reject anything that even remotely reminds the color of fatigue?

Tristan Leoni's book has given me very valuable insights into these questions, because it has similar constatation to mines but different conclusions.

I was convinced that I had to train myself militarily and then train as many activists as possible around me. I understood that this was my role in order to fulfill this gap. But the book was also critical of this vision, judged as useless and dangerous. To consider the military sphere as autonomous, detached from the capitalist state, and therefore to imagine that the revolution will be reduced to a confrontation against the capital state armies, is unrealistic. This point of view leads to a purely technical and tactical preparation, does not take into account the social context, the neoliberal influence dividing the populations. Tristan Leoni made me understand that the most realistic risk of war is that of civil war, which would mean the division of the people into different clans, killing each other for the interest of the ruling classes. The triumph of neoliberal ideology over the opportunity of a social revolution.

This confirmed my ideas:

In order to destroy capital state armies, it is necessary - before thinking about weapons - to attack the legitimacy of the state in the mentalities of the population.

We must point to neo-liberalism as the common enemy of the peoples, overcoming the divisions that this enemy has succeeded to grow among us. Who will fight for it in an army if this psychological warfare is won?

The social class and the <<Gated community>>

When I came back from Germany, I didn't really feel comfortable back to my usual activist circles. I had a constant feeling that I was never doing enough, that I was not radical enough, not active enough, I often felt in competition with others despite our discussions on this topic (activist

purity, performativity...). It took a lot of energy and I was often

tired/depressed. I decided to move to the place where I felt most socially comfortable and tried to figure out why.

Following my recent discoveries explained earlier, what made sense to me was to study and to fight social division tactics, starting with my own social category:

Why are radical left-wing activists so cut off from society? why are they marginal? why do the working classes not recognize themselves in the voice of those who claim to defend their interests?

First logical answer I find: the closed, secure, codified aspect of the extreme left groups, favors the self referenciality tendencies. Not having any more social relation, nor friendship, nor activity, outside the leftists scene. In this way, we fall exactly into a gap in within society that we reproach to the ruling elites.

So I pushed myself and walked 200 meters further, to the neighbors of the

House I used to live in with my collective. These neighbors are young proletarians with opinions associated with the right-wing, nationalist and conservative political spectrum. A royalist flag flies over their caravan. This flag always provokes strong reactions from my left-wing comrades: some of them are even tempted to set fire to it and chase our neighbors away. ”It seems that the fact that one of this lftistis friend of mine being the son of the landlord in which our house was, was not a contradiction but at the same time we said that ‘‘As anarchists we reject the authority of the owners”.

These reactions sound to me like a lack of empathy and strategic


I began to develop clear arguments, which gave me the strength to knock on our neighbors' doors. If we shut them out, we're just putting the problem away; they will simply live in the next village, which is probably populated by other people with the same profile.

Fighting our neighbors, even if they are right-wing, means fighting a whole part of the society that we claim to defend in our dicsourse.

The gap between the left and the population comes from this contradiction. Leftists hate rightists (often quickly assimilated to fascists), without even distinguishing the ruling classes spreading right-wing ideologies, from the population which has hardly any other choice than to be exposed to these ideas in order to exist politically. In reality, in our leftists circles, many of our analises are crude and undifferentiated, as in this example.

We focus on micro-politics; on our interpersonal relationships; conflict management, but the societal scale and the macro-political sphere disappears from our discussions and from our daily life.

We have much more energy to spend on a discussion about tensions we feel in our affinity group, than on a discussion about tensions between social classes, between populations and countries.

Among my right-wing neighbors, the political debate is daily and occupies these different scales. They may have ideas I deeply reject, but I do not feel attacked personnaly and the conversations we have are constructive.

Thanks to their criticisms of the left situated from the right-wing, I understand now the point of view of a whole part of society that I could not while I was stucked on my left-wing socio-political category.

They also opened up to my left-wing view on their right-wing ideas, and together we understood that our common first enemy is neoliberalism. We influenced each other and often laugh at the irony of the situation. I sometimes even feel the collective spirit, the comradship, much stronger in them than in the house where I live with anarchists.

However, this remains a difficult and time-consuming exercise, where I don't always manage to balance my degree of immersion and openness to their way of life, their language, their culture, and my degree of righteousness, opposition, confrontation, and commitment to ”my own”. I am partly neglecting my left-wing collective because of the time I spend separately in my right-wing collective, whereas my objective would be to succeed in making the two cohabit and dialogue better. I am also developing a deep love connexion with one of the neighbors, which on one hand I thought it could tacticly help our two groups to come closer together, but also clouds both my discipline in organizing my day and my intellectual responsiveness. The calculation of the degree of immersion I mentioned above is logically complicated by the boundless empathy I feel for this comrade.

The lack of revolutionary values

So I see the potential of the revolutionary values carried by the movement launched in Kurdistan. I see the curiosity of my comrades on both sides when we talk about self-criticism, self-discipline and collective responsibility, the infiltration of the neoliberal mentality into our behaviors. I also observe from them the distrust for the Kurdish revolutionary organization, which is interpreted as ‘‘hierarchical, perhaps sectarian, built around a leader, in a political context that has nothing to do with ours’’. A few days ago, a collective reading took place with my anarchist comrades and two of our neighbors. We red the Lêgerîn Nº8, the special issue about liberalism, and I started to understand how long it would take for these ideas to wear out in the minds of my friends, and I was surprised by my own impatience to make everything understood as fast and deep as possible. It often happens that I feel alone in this role of bringing ideological inputs to our collective organization; Alone to spend several hours a day reading and writing; alone to see the interesting aspects of this work. This solitude leads to an imbalance in my mind: out of an intense need to find a deep meaning in everything I do, I reproduce an elitist mechanism that consists in placing reflection, analysis, self education, above everything else in my daily life. In that way I was not taking responsibility in the group for any action that is not in line with my ideas, nor will I until my ideas are clearly defined. I am not going to devote much time to collective tasks until it gives me the impression that it is working in a direction towards revolution.

So I am currently stuck in a theoretical phase of ideological self-formation, which for me is an essential characteristic of revolutionary action, but I will only get out of it by dragging others into it. My reading and writing activities, which take up perhaps 50 hours of my time during the week, will pass from an individualistic activity practiced in solitude, to a collective activity that awake our revolutionary mentalities. Then, it could give me back the sense to help the collective to run materially, and could allow me to rebalance my daily life without having inner struggle, between theory and practice.

- Minuit Tourinyà



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