Blog post

Disappear together, March together

France’s Rosa Parks Collective has called for a “disappearance” on 30 November: a strike from workplaces, schools, universities, and even social media, to be followed by protests on 1 December. Driven by anti-racist movements and their allies, the Collective insists that there can be “No France without Us”. In this vein, it has combined opposition to police violence with a mobilization against state racism, attacks on migrants, unemployment, neoliberalism and colonial counter-revolution.

15 November 2018

Disappear together, March together

On 2 November L’Humanité published a statement in support of the initiative, signed by leading activists and campaigners, reproduced below.

We have heard the appeal of the Rosa Parks Collective. A call carried by the heirs of colonial immigration, it denounces the continuing structural racism that deeply wounds French society. We write to declare ourselves allies of the Collective, and to join our forces with their own. On 30 November, we will disappear, in one way or another. And on 1 December we will reappear and march alongside them.

Whether or not we are ourselves descendants of immigrants, we consider their struggle also our own: like them, we are overwhelmed by living and working in a country that wraps itself in the banner of enlightened humanism – ‘liberté, égalité, fraternité’ – but in practice mercilessly persecutes the most vulnerable. That is, when it is not outright killing them in the shadows of a police van, reducing these fine principles to empty slogans.

Police violence and police crimes continue amidst the indifference of the very authorities that ought to punish them. Indeed, these latter increasingly tend to give full license to the mechanisms of repression. Desperate migrants are forced to take ghost-like to the areas which the police have still not chased them out of. Yet the public authorities offer no solution other than to chase them out yet again, rather than establish the conditions of decent migrant reception. Discrimination in employment, in promotion, in housing, in education, is getting worse, but mass media pay no attention and governments do nothing to try to confront the problem. 

Such discrimination is so persistent, so ever-present, that it makes up a whole system. It implicates the state itself, even in its most everyday practices. Not only does this vast social pillage – which generates so much day-to-day suffering – very well suit the state, but it is combined with the unequal deployment of violence and repression, which first of all strikes at immigrants and the descendants of non-European migrants. Moreover, successive governments have continually fed the fears and hatred able to keep up “the threat of an extremist vote” – a very convenient tool for mobilising the electorate en masse for the “parties of government” each time they need to renew their terms in office.

Thus continues, decade after decade, the slow decomposition of the social fabric, which austerity policies constantly aggravate. All this in the name of a so-called balanced budget, dictated only by the imperatives of the market, of competition and profit. Reform after reform, law after law, public services and the Labour Code are dismantled, counter-powers are gradually reduced to impotence, inequalities reach monstrous levels, and the popular classes are condemned to the indignity of ever more degraded and degrading forms of existence.

As the Rosa Parks Collective forcefully emphasises, this situation must be set in a wider context in which the great economic powers’ military interventions go undiscussed, being taken as merely banal. Yet the military’s presence and these states’ logic of war in fact reproduce domination over the peoples who are its first victims.

This is a shameful situation for France. Also shameful is the criminalisation of those who denounce this situation or strive to combat it. We see all too well the sinister logic at work behind these harmful dynamics: namely, the idea that some lives are worth less than others. In joining the mobilisations of 30 November and 1 December, we want to say that non-White lives matter, that all lives have an equal right to dignity, and that society’s first duty is to assure each person the conditions of a dignified existence.

That, too, is what the members of the Rosa Parks Collective say. We, too, will disappear with them on 30 November, will march side-by-side with them on 1 December, and invite all of you to rally, in the greatest numbers, to this appeal.

First signatories: Clémentine Autain, France Insoumise MP and editor of Regards; Ludivine Bantigny, historian; Mehdi Belhaj Kacem, writer and philosopher; Miguel Benasayag, psychoanalyst, Malgré tout collective; Judith Bernard, producer and journalist; Olivier Besancenot, NPA; Éric Beynel, Solidaires; Michel Bilis, PCF councillor in Paris; Véronique Bontemps, anthropologist; Camille Brunel, writer; Emmanuel Burdeau, cinema critic; Manuel Cervera-Marzal, philosopher; Yves Citton, lecturer-researcher; Éric Coquerel, France Insoumise MP and Parti de Gauche coordinator; Annick Coupé, trade unionist and Attac activist; Alexis Cukier, philosopher; François Cusset, writer and historian; Laurence De Cock, historian; Christine Delphy, sociologist; Boubacar Boris Diop, writer; Cédric Durand, economist; Annie Ernaux, writer; Éric Fassin, sociologist; Bernard Friot, sociologist; Fanny Gallot, historian; Isabelle Garo, philosopher; Franck Gaudichaud, political scientist; François Gèze, publisher; Cécile Gondard-Lalanne, Solidaires; Fabienne Haloui, PCF, fight against racism and for equality; Samuel Hayat, political scientist; Éric Hazan, publisher; Florence Johsua, politics lecturer; Nicolas Jounin, sociologist; Pierre Khalfa, Fondation Copernic; Razmig Keucheyan, sociologist; Stathis Kouvélakis, philosopher; Denis Lachaud, writer; Mathilde Larrère, historian; Stéphane Lavignotte, vicar; Sébastien Lepotvin, co-director of l'Échangeur theatre; Frédéric Lordon, philosopher-economist, Camille Louis, dramatist and philosopher; Henri Maler, philosopher; Philippe Marlière, political scientist; Myriam Marzouki, producer; Mehdi Mokrani, PCF deputy to the mayor of Ivry; José Moury, PCF councillor in Bobigny; Dominique Natanson, antiracist activist; Olivier Neveux, theatre studies lecturer; Albert Ogien, sociologist; Ugo Palheta, sociologist; Christine Poupin, NPA; Philippe Poutou, NPA; Nathalie Quintane, writer; Laura Raim, journalist; Jacques Rancière, philosopher; Sandra Regol, EELV spokeswoman; Théo Roumier, Solidaires; Abdel Sadi, PCF councillor in Bobigny; Catherine Samary, economist; Raphaël Schneider, filmmaker; Danielle Simonnet, councillor in Paris and Parti de Gauche coordinator; Isabelle Stengers, philosopher; Jacques Testart, biologist and essayist; Julien Théry-Astruc, historian; Rémy Toulouse, publisher; Enzo Traverso, historian; Maryse Tripier, sociologist, Marie-Christine Vergiat, MEP for the Front de gauche; Nicolas Vieillescazes, publisher, Marie-Pierre Vieu, PCF MEP.

Translated by David Broder