From a leaflet handed out in Brussels on the margins of a protest against the tightening of control on the unemployed. As this initiative assembled the all the flora and fauna of political and trade-unionist recuperation, swallowing up any possible expression of rage and refusal, we chose to desert the boring show and give out the leaflet in other parts of the city.
Our lives are ticking by in camps. Work camps. Re-education camps. Consumerist camps. Entertainment camps. Detention camps. In each one of them the aim is the same: to domesticate us and get us to contribute to the progression of present day society. To make the social machine function. It matters little where it is going. It matters little that it is destroying so many lives. It matters little that it is turning us all into prisoners. What counts is being there, participating, not questioning it, you can even cheer it on. Heads down, mindless, with a heart of stone, just keep going.
The State has begun a general turn of the screw, for sure. The increased police presence in the streets, their growing brutality instigated by the authorities, the installation of surveillance cameras, the militarisation of public transport, the temples of money such as banks and supermarkets ultra-secured against theft, all this is going hand in hand with the tightening of control over the unemployed and those on benefits. The management of social peace, this delusive peace between exploiters and exploited, dominators and dominated, aimed at ensuring the smooth running of the economy and power, seems to be taking a much more overtly repressive turn.
But there’s no point in mobilizing just to defend what is no longer there, or how power once managed and exploited us. What we need to think about, right now, is how to face this general turning of the screw, take the initiative and pass to the attack. We have nothing to defend in this world, none of what it can offer (career, consumerism, ‘celebrity’) interests us, everything that it imposes on us (work, obedience, degradation) disgusts us.
As a poster that appeared on the walls of Brussels a few years ago said: ‘This society has everybody on a leash; the only thing that differs is the length of it. We are not those who are calling for a looser collar, better wages, softer police, caring and honest politicians and bosses. We simply want what any being on a leash should have at heart: to cut it, set fire to the cage, crush all those who keep us or would like to keep us on the leash.’
In Brussels, as well as a general tightening of the screw, we are witnessing a true offensive by the authorities to change the face of the city. Brussels, metropolis and capital of the European Union and, welcoming for the rich, the bosses, the Eurocrats and the middle class avid to consume until they drop. One aspect of this offensive is the new urban planning and restructuring because those in power all have the idea that if they change the environment, they will also change people.
While the brutal assault on the Canal area in Molenbeek is resulting in a wall of apartments, luxury bars and hotels, at least four shopping malls are being planned or are under construction in Heizel, Anderlecht, Schaerbeek and near Machelen. At the top of the European zone, buildings testifying the arrogance of power conceal the sky, the area surrounding the Gare du Midi’s transformation into a business district is going ahead and the State is planning to build the biggest prison in Belgian history north of the capital, in Haren.
But power and capital are not abstractions, they are not ghosts that rule and determine our lives without us being able to touch them. They become real and materialize before our eyes, in every building site, inspectors of every kind, the commercial towers, the barriers in the underground. We are not fighting ghosts, our struggles are aimed directly at the concretisation of power. We don’t want to negotiate our servitude, we are trying to give ourselves the means to destroy it. That is why we need ideas and initiative, complicity and encounters with other rebels, stones and molotovs, lucidity and passion.
In the face of the projects of power we are without hope if we believe that others will struggle on our behalf, that trade-unionist and political organizations will take up our refusal, or that we need to build respectability in the eyes of the powerful in order to get them to come out in our favour. No, things are not like that and they never have been. We need to focus on autonomous and self-organized offensive struggles. There have been a number of eloquent examples recently. Think of Turkey, where the battle begun with a few dozen opponents against the restructuring of Taksim square, which turned into a generalized uprising all over the country. Think of Hamburg, where the resistance against police raids on illegal migrants set fire to the powder keg in a country that boasts total control over its population. And think of Brussels, with those neighbourhoods still rebellious against the capitalist and State order, with survival conditions becoming harder and harder for everyone, with a brutal attack by power to realise its morbid metropolis of commodities and control. Any apparently circumscribed and limited conflict could set fire to the streets in the future. So, then, struggles must go on the offensive, even if we are few, even if no one can guarantee a positive outcome. The building site of a shopping mall can be sabotaged. The inspectors of an employment agency can be dissuaded from carrying on their Gestapo-like job. Camera cables can be cut. A Eurocrat’s car can be set on fire. So, it is necessary to take the initiative, to dare to call on those capabilities: creativity and imagination, courage and reflection – of free women and men that authority is trying to destroy. Some struggles are already underway, such as that against the construction of the maxi-prison in Brussels. It is a struggle that is not looking for media or political representation.
It is expanding, like an underground tide, in the neighbourhoods, in the minds and hearts of those who have no intention of giving up in the face of a future of exploitation and reclusion that power is rigging up. It is trying to open up cracks to attack all those responsible for that deadly project, along the model of what they want to do with Brussels. In a way the maxi-prison is a symbol of the dream of power, which wants us anaesthetized or locked up. To hinder the construction of the maxi-prison directly, through the struggle and all the practices of sabotage and direct action that belong to it, means opening up the possibility for everything to explode.
Against all camps, let the winds of freedom blow Let’s sabotage the plans of power, we are uncontrollable.