When the state manages, everything goes wrong


A small market at the time of COVID, its disorganization orchestrated by municipal and prefectural authorities, the resistance that is emerging.

City of art and history, known for its picturesque medieval streets, this small town rightly prides itself on its heritage and does not hesitate to praise the charm of its weekly market in all its communication operations. Lots of first-class politicians were treated to a guided tour of this famous market, so authentic, so emblematic of an eternal France, so representative of a France that rises early, etc.
Following the Covid crisis, this magnificent market, the city’s advertising flagship, suddenly turned into an infrequent place and suffered the full brunt of the combined wrath of the sub-prefecture and the municipality. The good thing about times of crisis is that they reveal in broad daylight what we would like to keep hidden: if surgical masks have bloomed late on the faces of citizens, other masks, those of politicians who willingly displayed their concern. of democracy and their interest in the fate of the little people have fallen (it must be admitted that these masks no longer held up very well).
At the level of our small town, the management of the crisis was as cacophonous and chaotic as at the national level: incoherence and opacity of decisions were present as elsewhere.

But let’s come back to the field, at the beginning of the first confinement and let’s take a look at this social category of non-sedentary traders who brings together in the squares of towns and villages all kinds of low-income: farmers seeking to sell their products without intermediaries, resellers. of fruits and vegetables, artisans of all kinds, itinerant traders selling clothes, various products, etc. All these “little” people have obviously borne the brunt of the anti-Covid measures, while supermarkets (in which we breathe air-conditioned and recycled air very conducive to the free redistribution of viruses) have seen their profit margin increase by 50 at 70%; Notable fact at the same time that the shareholders of the supermarket chains saw their income increase exponentially,
The open-air markets, as their name clearly indicates, are well ventilated and therefore have none of the characteristics of the closed places so conducive to the development of viruses and contamination. However, it is against these public places and these markets that the prefectural authorities were going to unleash their sanitary wrath by establishing a regime aimed at the dispersion of exhibitors, placing them light years away from each other, surrounding them. beacon stands so well that you could have thought you were at a crime scene; but the crime did take place: it was the market that was dead.

At the very beginning of the epidemic, the market was simply closed, then after a few weeks, it reopened … but only a few exhibitors were able to benefit from it (ten out of more than 150 in normal times): the allocation of authorizations being done in total opacity. The others were granted hours of “drive” sales (the usual market space having become too small due to the application of these measures) propelled into perfectly desert “lunar” places, but well surrounded by streets. beacon and metal barriers, no doubt to protect them from hordes of unleashed customers eager for looting; however, in these remote places, there are none.

How will you ask yourself, my reading friends, can such “good” ideas be applied in municipalities? It is that they were quite simply developed by specialists of the markets, people trained to organize, restructure these spaces, people whose competence and know-how do not sulfur any discussion! When the invaluable help of these experts is lacking, the management of a market is generally entrusted to a municipal councilor who knows nothing of the functioning of a market, of its organization. These decisions then receive the approval of the mayor (most often a local notable whose concerns are usually remote from the market). The municipal police,

The main stakeholders, all of whom depend on the market for their livelihood, had nothing to say during all this time; nobody asked them their opinion!
What must be understood of the functioning of a market is that the place occupied by a merchant is absolutely fundamental for his turnover, for his income. This place which he has occupied very regularly for years, even decades, for which he pays a small rent to the town hall, is recognized as his by his colleagues and no one would dream of challenging him, it is above all the place where its customers are used to finding it: moving it amounts to disorienting its customers and therefore scuttling its income. Obviously, leading market specialists seem to ignore this simple truth, unless they don’t care.

But it is precisely this great upheaval, these incessant movements (after the gradual reopening of the market each time a new contingent of exhibitors is integrated, everyone must move to be able to function while respecting the standards of social distancing and the spacing between the different stands) which will encourage people to refuse to obey the ukases of the town hall because they impoverish them and because they show a total lack of consideration for them. They feel reduced to the rank of objects that can be moved at will, their dignity is violated and discontent begins to mount.
It is the “non-essential”, the “non-food”, the “non-A” as the author of SF Van Vogt would say who are the first to revolt: they went two months without working. One day, between two and three in the morning, they arrive in a well-organized convoy and occupy their usual place overnight, the one before the Covid, determined to stay “whatever the cost” as the other would say. This determination obviously provokes grinding of teeth on the side of the authorities who are nevertheless obliged to accept the fait accompli.

This beautiful example of spontaneous direct action quickly arouses vocations and soon, it is the turn of the “food” to rush in the stretchers, to refuse to change places in practically every market, to refuse to see their income fall by 50. at 80%, to refuse to be taken for less than nothing. They too decide to return to their usual places despite attempts at intimidation.
Suddenly, the town hall becomes aware of the existence of the people of market workers and a meeting is proposed which broadly confirms their wishes. Once again, a modest struggle proves that it is possible to push back the authorities through collective direct action, that it is possible to reverse the balance of power between the authorities and the “people”.
Let’s be clear, this very modest struggle is not going to turn these people into revolutionaries, but the experience they have had is that of a victorious collective struggle, a struggle that they will remember, because generally this kind of event marks the people. minds as it constitutes a rupture: the Authority is no longer felt as irresistible and unbreakable.

Even at the microscopic level of a small market, we find the usual ingredients that are present in all struggles: obvious class contempt for notables, temptation to abuse power on the part of certain holders of authority, attempt to municipality to divide its opponents by granting some what we refuse to others, defense by the town hall of measures without real coherence in the supposed name of the common good. And finally all this ends with a strategic withdrawal of the authorities which delegitimizes all their previous arguments, proof if any of the uselessness of their social existence.


Article taken from Anarchosyndicalisme! », N ° 172.

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