Monday, May 2, 2016

Mayday Violence: What Next?

Le Monde tries to make sense of the Mayday violence, but it's hard to draw any firm conclusion from the multiple perspectives represented in the article. Some of the eyewitnesses interviewed blame a change in police tactics, a more muscular presence and a more determined approach to isolating "troublemakers" from other marchers. But others claim that casseurs, rather than separating themselves from the crowd, are now infiltrating it to provide cover for their "insurrectionary" maneuvers (smashing ATMs and bus shelters, starting fires, etc.).

Dans ce contexte, la figure de l’émeutier s’étiole, mise à mal par le témoignage des manifestants : « Il n’y a pas de casseurs qui s’infiltrent et cassent pour le fun, estime ainsi un militant syndical rennais, qui souhaite conserver l’anonymat. Des gens revendiquent ce mode d’action, ciblent des banques ou des grandes chaînes pour marquer une insurrection. C’est ce qu’on appelle les autonomes. Mais ils ne sont pas en marge du mouvement social, ils sont intégrés aux cortèges. »
Meanwhile, the fate of the El Khomri law, the ostensible object of the demonstrations, remains in doubt. Innumerable amendments are under consideration, as the government scrambles to avoid an invocation of Article 49-3. But if it comes down to a test of strength, there is as yet no sign that Valls plans to withdraw the measure. The demonstrators seem convinced, however, that continued pressure will force the government to surrender. So there we are, and the month is now May--the tempus classicus for dérapages. We shall see what happens next.

Needless to say, any actual consideration of the merits and demerits of the proposed bill is now as impossible as it is irrelevant. The bras de fer is so deeply ingrained in the French way of doing politics that, try as one might to avoid it, c'est la faute de la fatalité, as Flaubert might put it.