Don't take the bait
On media forging consent for repression instead of real response during this crisis.
Screen shot from youtube search, the last caption from french far-right rag CNEWS, say in french “Rave Party : A giant cluster in Lieuron”
Definition of a Bait
First let’s define a Bait, so we can start on a good basis. A bait is something (such as food) used in luring especially to a hook or trap. In journalist terms a bait would be a headline to lure the public into reading it. Either by blowing it out of proportion for political reasons, for example distracting the public from the irresponsible management of a global pandemic by their respective government, or as a way to gain readers – sometimes both.
We going to see how a bait is made, dive into France’s regional divide, and how it was possible for around 2K people to gather during a global pandemic and why the answer by the authority was considered weak in a country where police violence is normalized. We will also dive into the french scene and its class divide – and how to stay focused on abolitionist demands and avoiding pro-police bait.
First a little context, the area where this NYE plague rave took place,
is in the west of France, in Brittany, a region who have a long history of defying the French centralist government, who raised a cultural war against the region language “ Breton (brezhoneg)” a celtic language close to Cornish and Welsh. Breton was called under the Third French republic the “language of pigs and goose” and was banned by the french minister of education Combes at the debut of the 20th century at school and in christian religious teaching of children and adult converts.
Spoken by the 207 000 people in Brittany, the Breton language is today the only Celtic language to have no status because the French Republic has not ratified the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.
Imagine centuries of emigration to the french capital due to French centralism (there is historically a breton neighbourhood in Paris in the 14th district of Montparnasse), heavy deindustrialization, the coast of the region who rely heavily on the food industry and fishing with a aging population – and you have a good picture of what is Brittany.
Notre Dame Des Landes Autonomous Zone
To get a good sense of the environment let me write two lines about the NDD ex- autonomous zone.
Notre-Dame-des-Landes is about 20 km northwest of Nantes. The commune was the planned site of the new Aéroport du Grand Ouest, intended to replace Nantes Atlantique Airport, to put it bluntly an ecological & social disaster . The €580 million project was approved in February 2008, with construction then expected to start in 2012 and an opening date in 2015. It was abandoned by the government after several clashes and resistance from both locals and autonomous activists from all around France and Europe who created a Zone to Defend in the area.
Zone to Defend or ZAD (French: zone à défendre) is a French neologism used to refer to a militant occupation that is intended to physically blockade a development project. By occupying the land, activists aim to prevent the project from going ahead.
The lighthouse on the former ZAD of Notre-Dame-des-Landes, January 2020 - © DR GC Drone Vision
About 200 hectares of farmland were occupied before the airport project was abandoned, the facilities resulting from the fight are now spread over 310 hectares. Precarious Occupancy Agreements that were signed on these lands are for the most part converted into nine-year leases, or are in the process of being converted into nine-year leases – if they were able to acquire these lands it’s after years of struggle.
Exhibit B : Lieuron rave party
Lieuron is a village of 786 inhabitants ( last number from 2018), which is 40km from Rennes the capital of Brittany ( 216 815 inhabitants).
The French government implemented a curfew for NYE, which was enforced in cities – with extra police forces of 100K. Knowing that France is a racist and centralist shit show it means they probably got concentrated between Paris and Marseille black and brown neighborhoods?
That explains in part the vacuum that created the environment for 2500 party goers to gather in that hangar in a remote area of a region with a long tradition of resisting the central government. Also, there is knowledge about how to be sleek with authority which stretches to 24 years, since the first party of the Heretik sound system started in 1996.
Why should we care?
The reason this story took off, is the following ;
the press agency AFP, which is a major french press agency, that newsrooms use for their stories packaged a nice bait for the local and international press.
I didn’t expect much from the french press as they are 99.99% just right-wing rags. You even have a video and could write a little line about irresponsible partygoers — the packed mall, public transport/office, and the fact that high schoolers were going back to their school on Monday, it’s all good.
Also, remember that the media ignored Paris government-approved plague raves last summer and that the government authorized events of up to 5k people last summer. The AFP who is more french government propaganda than a press agency didn’t write about this, so the newsrooms who are probably right-wing rags didn’t took on those one.
“Abolition except for the Lieuron ravers”
John Carpenter's They Live
When the story of Lieuron blew up, I had two concerns: first, how to condemn those actions without sounding like a conservative. Second, how to criticize the french government’s instrumentalization ( the interior minister was going off about it on twitter) — without sounding like an irresponsible club demon ?
All this concern blew up when I was confronted, with the fact that after the events following the death of George Floyd and the push for the “Lois de Sécurité Globale” combined with the release of footage of police violence all over France, that people were mad because law enforcement didn’t beat up those party-goers?
“Party goers stoned the police to protect an illegal event in a squatted venue, and almost nothing. Others demonstrate in the street and it's tear gas, bludgeoning, LBD mutilating shots and 48 hours of police custody. I think that tear gas to disperse the party would be a great idea”
“It took you 15 minutes to turn over tents in which human beings were sleeping who had nowhere else to go. But to clear 2500 crust punks on LSD who are having a party, there's no one left.” 75,8k likes for this..
You can add to this fact that in the countryside, law enforcement is a militarized one, called Gendarmerie who ironically or not, historically behave in a more restrained way while dealing with people.
The fact that those partygoers where white definitely played a role in the fact that the party lasted 36 hours on top of where they located, let’s remember there is a long history of defiance in the area, but how calling for the beating of young white working-class people and the usage of tear gas during a pandemic involving an airborne virus — will improve your material condition as a BIPOC or even the management of this pandemic by this government? Equality in front of the tonfa stick? No thanks, Another reminder that all skinfolk ain't Kinfolk.
The recent backlash about Lieuron’s rave really exposed the divide laid in class here. As 2000 party goers in the countryside of France, in an area barely populated, made international news, while more attendees in one of the most densely populated of europe didn’t even call for a tweet at the time – for the international press.
A perfect scapegoat for a country that is clearly saving the socio-economic organism rather than saving lives.
What a better way to illustrate it than the fact that the 22 y.o who allegedly organized the event was jailed and is facing multiple charges, he will symbolically be kept in jails for who knows, how long as an example, to appease public opinion.
It’s sounds obvious but law enforcement isn’t qualified to answer a sanitary risk – also one can argue by enforcing a curfew during NYE after almost a year of half assed lockdown it was meant to happen.
To be clear the ravers in Lieuron had no business organizing a party, but making the same mistake as during the debut of the AIDS crisis, by ignoring the problem and failing to do address public health in an efficient way, created the environment for this to happen. If you want to know more about how we can address this crisis from a bottom up perspective I encourage you to read my article What the Dance Music Industry Can Learn From Italian Operaismo?
Meanwhile, France still doesn’t have a vaccination plan
French Senate at work
Doesn’t have a clear welfare system for people facing economic hardship due to the crisis ( still waiting on my RSA check guys).
Doesn’t have a plan for the following weeks in terms of lockdown while the eastern region is under curfew
Refused a 20M€ relief package to help actors of the dance music industry while giving 80M€ to the Paris Opéra.
I could go on like that forever.
It’s important that we kill the cop inside our head and hold the government accountable for their failure and keep the pressure on them. Wherever we are.
Techno Antonio Toni Negri
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