An airport is a funny thing, one that gives you access to other places but is not much of a place itself. But its underlying character has changed dramatically in the last few decades. If the glamour and hope of flying off for a visit or a new life still cling to the terminals, the airport has become a hub for the workaday circulation of goods at a global level.
This has been peculiarly true since the global downturn of manufacturing in the seventies. In April 1973, Federal Express delivered its first package; four decades later, FedEx has the fourth-largest fleet in existence. By freight it is the biggest airline in the world. At Oakland International, my local airport, the FedEx hangar and logistics hub crouches independent of the two modest passenger terminals, a behemoth with the gravity of a planet. It’s their world; we’re just living in it.
“Riots are coming, they are already here, more are on the way, no one doubts it… In moments of shattered glass and fire, [the] riot is… the irruption of a desperate situation, immiseration at its limit, the crisis of a given community or city, of a few hours or days.” Joshua Clover, Riot. Strike. Riot.
After almost two months of continuous protests against the El Khomri bill's proposed labour reforms that would allow bosses to fire workers more easily, strike actions have been stepped up in France. The BBC reports that actions are led by CGT and supported by six other unions, including Force Ouvriere and Unef and have seen oil refineries, nuclear power stations and transport hubs disrupted in the rolling nationwide strike. Yesterday CGT striking members shut off printing presses and distribution, preventing the publication of all French national newspapers, with the exception of leftwing daily L’Humanité. An opinion piece by Nuit Debout leader Philippe Martinez urging the government to withdraw its labour laws, was published in L’Humanité on the same day.
Meanwhile riot police cracked down on protesters in Paris and other cities, with tear gas filling the air.