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Saturday 20 January 2018
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As you are no doubt aware, the site of Halles de Rungis has for a few weeks been the target of filtering blockades at the main gate, the Porte de Thiais. Taking my courage in my hands, braving the wind and rain, I got myself out of bed at 4 in the morning, took the metro, then the bus, and, after more than an hour of depressing travel through the industrial zones south of Paris, I found myself facing a few dozen Gilets jaunes who were filtering the entrance. It was a matter of checking out the so-called “blockade” for myself.
I already had some suspicions, based on published interviews, about the content and objectives of these brilliant “direct actions” (so says “Paris lutte info” ). But I confess, in all modesty, that the ambiance went beyond all my expectations. I was not faced with gangs of vulgar bestial nationalists, they were of both sexes, including one who was Caribbean and very much accepted because “he is French too”. “We are not racist”, claimed the scout leader of the group fiercely. She looked like a younger version of Madame Bidochon (see the excellent comics by Binet from the 1980s). They were there, in their words, “to save the French peasants and shopkeepers” from “unfair competition”, “organised by the bankers’ Europe represented by Macron”. After a few attempts to approach me rudely and make me put on the celebrated yellow uniform, that I refused with a great deal of courtesy (out of fear of perhaps being smacked in the mouth), I innocently asked the question: “What bank does Macron represent?”. To this I got the following reply from the leader, with a strong wink to her acolytes: “Well, the Rothschild Bank, for sure”. I had therefore hit on the eminently revolutionary nature of their opposition to finance capital which, as is well known, has been in the hands of rabbis since time immemorial.
To enlarge the field of this communication which had begun so well, I timidly asked about the role of the brilliant second in command [Prime Minister] of Macron, named Philippe, who does not come from a bank but from the nuclear industry, Areva in this case. To that the leader replied that she didn’t give a fuck and that, what’s more, she was a supporter of French nuclear power and hostile to all “those Parisian ecologist bobos [bourgeois bohemians] who want to deprive us of electricity”. Such a typically working class position, also shared by her groupies.
I began to feel rather alone and tried, before leaving, to reflect on the modes of such interesting “direct action” which “Paris lutte info” goes on about so much. Here also, I was not to be disappointed: these remarkable saboteurs of “European trade” had started from the beginning by exclusively delaying foreign trucks by 30 minutes, then very recently, out of concern for justice no doubt, French trucks by 15 minutes and foreign ones by 45 minutes. They did not even realise that, because of European agreements, French trucks can transport foreign merchandise and vice versa. The day before my arrival, their last exploit had therefore consisted in delaying one of the Spanish lorries for almost three hours, by threatening the driver, who was transporting oysters from the Oleron peninsula [west coast of France] to Rungis, tricoloured molluscs if ever there were. This led to the Rungis wholesaler throwing them in the bin. No comment.
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