indignez vous!

J’apprends que le copain d’une amie d’enfance, âgé d’à peine 20 ans, est actuellement emprisonné, et est bien parti pour subir, au minimum, une peine de 5 ans (de “préventive”, soi-disant). Son crime ? Il fait partie d’un syndicat étudiant, et son adn a été retrouvé (parmi une quarantaine d’autres) sur un tissu qui a servi à fabriquer des banderoles et un cocktail molotov.
Cela vous parait un peu faible, comme justification ? Vous êtes surpris ? Pas nous. En Corse, nous avons l’habitude que nos enfants soient emprisonnés sans preuve ni accusation solide. En général, ils finissent par être libérés et innocentés… Mais au bout des cinq années de préventives, minimum.

La préventive, c’est ce qui donne à la France l’image d’une dictature fasciste, un peu partout dans le monde (oui, c’est vraiment comme ça que vous êtes perçu, et c’est mérité). L’Union Européenne vous a demandé d’arrêter ça, tout comme à peu près toutes les ONG du monde, le rapporteur international, etc. Mais vous persistez à vous en servir comme un bonus : avec la préventive, le gouvernement français a le DROIT d’emprisonner n’importe quel opposant politique. Et il en abuse.

En Corse, les policiers, militaires et CRS ne nous protègent pas : ils nous surveillent. De temps en temps, ils nous arrêtent, nous passent à tabac, nous blessent grièvement… Selon la fantaisie du moment. C’est une force d’occupation.
Avec un soldat armé et entraîné pour 3 habitants, la Corse est envahie par cette force d’occupation. Si un jour il vient l’idée à l’armée française de faire “un grand ménage” (comme elle a déjà voulu le faire par le passé), le génocide de mon peuple serait achevé en une nuit.
Je n’accuse par le gouvernement français de préparer un tel acte, mais il en a le pouvoir. AUCUN état ne devrait détenir un tel pouvoir.

Quand bien même, par miracle, le jeune homme dont le sort me préoccupe aujourd’hui finissait par être libéré avant la fin de sa préventive, le mal est déjà fait : il ne pourra pas passer ses examens, sa famille est détruite, la maison familiale vendue pour payer des frais d’avocat vains, et il demeurera fiché S jusqu’à la fin de ses jours… Sans parler du phénomène de “radicalisation” : l’état français vient de transformer un simple étudiant éclairé en un ennemi éternel.
En plus, la prison de Borgo n’est pas un endroit très agréable : parmi les conditions d’incarcération déplorables (on rappelle que la France est l’un des pires pays d’Europe, à ce niveau là), l’administration pénitenciaire prend un malin plaisir à racketer les détenus. En effet, les pensionnaires ne sont pas nourris, et doivent eux-même acheter leur nourriture (qui coûte entre 5 et 10 fois plus cher qu’à l’extérieur). Le jeune dont je parle aujourd’hui est resté plusieurs semaines sans manger, car l’administration de la prison n’avait pas versé sur son compte le chèque de sa mère… Heureusement, les autres prisonniers se sont organisés pour lui donner un peu de leurs parts (en Corse, les prisonniers sont plus humains que les juges).

Français, si vous êtes touchés par les injustices qui ont lieu à l’autre bout du monde, il serait hypocrite de votre part de fermer les yeux sur ce qu’il se passe dans vos propres colonies. Manifestez, soutenez, faites du bruit, donnez aux associations qui aident les familles des prisonniers politiques… Exigez de vos élus que ces horreurs cessent.

(Et arrêtez de vous étonner quand on vote pour les indépendantistes. Il n’y a que les français du continent pour être assez cons pour voter contre leurs propres intérêts.)

Silicon Valley’s Paydays Are Outrageous—So, Where’s the Outrage?

JPMorgan pays CEO Jamie Dimon $20 million, and it’s instantly the subject of widespread angst—online, in newspapers, and all over cable news. Then, this week, Google announces a $106 million payday for Chairman Eric Schmidt, and the reaction is relatively mute.

Why?

This was the subject of a Steven Davidoff’s column (that notably left out the word “bailout.”) People have every reason to be mad at JPMorgan and Dimon, given the way the last seven years have gone, not just for the bailout but also for all the lawbreaking that has characterized Dimon’s watch (nepotism in China, LIBOR, money laundering, and the list goes on.). While there are reasons to be mad at Google, they don’t involve blowing up the world economy, consuming billions of dollars of taxpayer money, and then whining about being treated unfairly.

That’s why people are upset about Dimon’s paltry $20 million rather than Schmidt’s princely $106 million. But it doesn’t make Silicon Valley’s huge payouts right.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

Hessel: Can we "Cry Out" how we wish to consume?



Market stand in Tunis medina - as long as I am an un-organised tourist consumer, the effects of my consumption here is very hard to know anything about.  


I just read Indignez-vous!, by Stéphane Hessel (Cry Out is the awkward English title, which should perhaps have been Get Upset). The short book - more like a leaflet - has sparked debate in France and in part inspired the protests currently taking place in Spain and perhaps also elsewhere in Europe. Hessel goes straight to the point and makes a clear argument for human rights and non-violence, and when and how violence might be inavoidable. 

If it is easy to sympathize with Hessel and agree with him on the importance to get upset, it is less clear to me what to get upset about. Hessel points to poverty, violations of human rights and the state of the planet as reasons that surely are enough, but admits that the youth today doesn’t have the same obvious reason to get upset and politically engaged as he had, because the actors behind the action are less clear than before. Hessel ends his leaflet by inviting his readers to react, among other things, against the moyens de communication de masse qui ne proposent comme horizon pour notre jeunesse que la consommation de masse… (“means of mass communication which doesn’t propose anything to our youth but mass consumption” my translation).

I note two things: Firstly, mass communication proposes a lot more than just consumption. If the term includes Facebook and Twitter or this very blog of mine, it surely proposes ways to communicate and engage people politically to the point of turning down dictators, as recently in Egypt and Tunisia. I don’t know how Hessel defines the term mass communication, but it seems somewhat old-fashioned, as referring to the old one-way TV communication. 

Secondly, and this is the point I would like to stress - what’s so wrong with consumption, or even mass consumption? Like so many other thinkers, such as Habermas and Bauman, Hessel seems to look at consumption as an egoistic luxury, conducted by those who can afford it. Even serious consumption sites and organisations frequently picture the “consumer" as a female shopaholic carrying loads of exclusive shopping bags, although overall consumption in any society is much more male than female and has little to do with Gucci and Versace. At times, consumption is of course a luxury, but at times it is an everyday necessity. Consumption comes in many varieties, but it is always a highly political act. Following decades of deregulation and increased competition, not least at the level of the European Union, consumption is probably the most political act of all economic acts performed by citizens.

It might be that I have a very flowery look un us citizens when we happen to act as consumers, but I think we are fully capable of much more than passively acting on stimuli from ads, price tags and labelling. At least many economists have long since left the classic notion of the economic man, always acting to maximise his or her own benefit. I think consumers are able to organise themselves in their own right to gather information and express more actively how they wish the market to function, rather than relying on individual consumers’ ability to change the courses of the market. When the power is increasingly vested in the market, democracy and an organised citizenry need to be there as well.  

Talking with Hessel, half a billion EU citizens’ consumption is of course not so much a reason to get upset as a chance to involve in the decision-making of the Union and a tool to empower European democracy. But we all know how much our consumption affects both poverty, human rights and not least the state of the planet. And mass communication is precisely what independent consumers’ organisations would need to analyse who the actors behind the action on the markets really are, and hold them accountable. 

A couple of weeks after we came home from a holiday in Tunisia, the uprisings against Ben Ali began. As long as tourists aren’t organised and need to rely on travel agency’s information and what media occasionally report, any revolution will happen only thanks to what Tunisians do. But if tourists as consumers were organised, their organisations would at least be able to hold hotels and restaurants accountable for their role in fighting poverty, respecting human rights and protecting the environment. /

How to conclude this call to be indignant? By saying still what, on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the program of the National Council of the Resistance, we said on March 8th, 2004 – we veterans of the resistance movements and combat forces of Free France (1940-1945) – that certainly “Nazism was conquered, thanks to the sacrifice of our brothers and sisters of the Resistance and United Nations against fascist barbarism. But this threat did not completely disappear, and our anger against injustice is ever intact.” [Note 6] Also, let us always be called in “a truly peaceful insurrection against means of mass communication that offer as a vista for our youth only the consumption of mass trivia, contempt of the weakest and the culture, a generalized amnesia, and the hard competition of all against all.” To those who will make the 21st century, we say with our affection:

TO CREATE IS TO RESIST; TO RESIST IS TO CREATE.

Aux jeunes, je dis : regardez autour de vous, vous y trouverez les themes qui justifient votre indignation - le traitement fait aux immigres, aux sans-papiers, aux Roms. Vous trouverez des situations concretes qui vous amenent a donner cours a une action citoyenne forte. Cherchez et vous trouverez !
—  Stéphane Hessel, Indignez vous!