Saturday, July 2, 2016

'The Coming Insurrection'

I'm actually getting a kick out of this book.

It's been out for a while. I picked up a copy a couple of months ago, but just this week have been really plowing through it. It's an extremely radical and violent manifesto of revolution, but the amazing thing about it is how bonking-good sense it makes about the crises facing advanced industrialized democracies. The authors are the Invisible Committee, who frightened the bejesus out of French authorities, who cracked down and arrested them for fomenting an incipient revolt. I love the anarchism, which to me is radical libertarianism, especially on the fraud of mindless unchecked consumerism, social media worship, and hipster environmentalism.

Of course, I'm out for non-violent change. These guys call for taking up arms and burning everything down.

Even Glenn Beck ran with a long segment on his show back in the day, with his usually overwrought hyper-freak hysteria. Watch, "FOX NEWS [Glenn Beck] reviews 'The Coming Insurrection'."

There's a fascinating interview of "The Tarnac Nine" (the alleged members of the Invisible Commitee) at Vice, "Vive Le Tarnac Nine!":

'The Coming Insurrection' photo upcoming_zpsq5vppyaw.png
Robespierre, the moral arbiter of the French Revolution, coined the word “terrorism.” It is strange that the first person to use this word was a Frenchman and a revolutionary. It is also strange that a word that, in our times, conjures images of bomb-strapped, Allah-worshipping fundamentalists, was first used by the state against its own citizens. Robespierre felt the French needed the Terrorisme to buttress the tenuous revolutionary state against the counterrevolutionaries and aristocrats—both real and imagined—that he saw everywhere. Robespierre was the ruthless vegan straight-edger of his time—he didn’t hesitate to behead his friends to uphold the virtues of revolutionary purity. After the French Revolution had killed off all its real enemies, it went through an internal cleansing, trying to purify the stained, bourgeois revolution with the liberal use of the guillotine. Perhaps it is because the French Revolution was so heavy-handed with the judgmental moralism that the French have developed such an intransigent love of sinful bourgeois pleasures like red wine, beef tartare, and satin sheets. But at the same time, the French have an innate hatred of the police and authority. They love to see outlaws break the rules and get away with it. In 2009, an armored-truck driver named Toni Musulin became a French folk hero when he drove off with a cargo equal to $17 million in cash. Fan groups sprouted up on the web, and the entire country rooted for him and seemed disappointed when he was eventually tracked down and caught.

In fact, sabotage and antisocial behavior are rampant in France. In 2007, an investigation by the French newspaper Le Figaro uncovered that the French rail system had been attacked 27,000 times that year by malicious vandals and sabotage. If you’ve ever flown or taken a train in France, you know that all of the major industries routinely go on strike. Militant union employees also stage wildcat strikes and conduct acts of sabotage or trash the offices of their bosses. It is in this social and political atmosphere that the Tarnac Nine are suspected, with tenuous evidence, of being terrorists.

In a rare published interview with Julien Coupat (often labeled as the leader of the Tarnac Nine), in Le Monde, he responded to the question “Why Tarnac?” by writing, “Go there, you will understand. If you don’t, no one could explain it to you.” The forgotten, heavily wooded area around Tarnac is the French equivalent of the Zapatistas’ mysterious Lacandon Jungle. Tactically, it is an excellent location to hole up and forgo capitalism. It is not easy to get to Tarnac. From the rail station in Limousin’s capital, Limoges, I boarded a bullet-shaped shuttle train bound for Eymoutiers, a small village 30 miles down the mountain from Tarnac. The two-car train looked like a rail magnate’s private chariot, decked out from ceiling to floor in beige carpet and soft-lit lamps. The only other passengers on board with me were two Methuselah-esque old ladies who got off at snowy, abandoned-looking villages on the way up the mountain. The train ratcheted through the snow and frost, a desolate landscape of ice-crystal rivers, looming mountains, centuries-old stone houses passing in the fading light out the window. When it hissed to a stop, I was the last person on board aside from the conductor. I stepped out into the cold. Eymoutiers twinkled with pale Christmas lights. A steep, ice-covered stone staircase led up into a desolate public square. An old lady on the town’s main street pointed the direction to Tarnac and I tried to hitchhike, but it was too dark and cars blew past me, throwing up gray slush from the road. While standing in front of one of Eymoutiers’s two bars trying to figure out what to do next, I met a French guy named Matthieu. Like millions of other college students across the world, Matthieu was back home for the Christmas holiday. He said he had nothing to do and, sensing my predicament, offered to give me a lift up to Tarnac in his truck. The ride that followed can easily be ranked among the most terrifying automotive experiences of my life. Matthieu swerved us up the snow-covered mountain on a one-lane road around precipitous switchbacks where one wrong move would have sent us over a sheer cliff. The darkness was total except for a thin little sliver of sunset that lingered near the horizon.

Matthieu was familiar with the unfolding drama of the Tarnac affair. “A lot of us around here feel like those people were singled out,” he told me. When I asked him whether the residents of the neighboring towns felt threatened by the presence of the insurrectionists, Matthieu shook his head. “No one cares much or feels strongly about them except for a handful of right-wing students.” After one last sharp grade up the mountain, the road leveled us out into Tarnac, past the dark, shuttered stone houses of the little village’s main street. Matthieu dropped me off at a dimly lit bar with two old gas pumps rusting in front of it. Inside, a bucolic village scene transpired—old men drinking wine and young French parents playing with their babies in the beery haze. The bar was plain, with little decoration other than a withered Christmas tree in the corner and a taxidermied warthog head hanging on the back wall. The only notable cultural ephemera that distinguished the space from an average French drinking establishment were a couple of large glossy “Support the Tarnac Nine!” posters that advertised protests in Paris and Limoges, and a wall pasted with a smattering of photocopied black-and-white fliers for radical-movie nights and collective spaghetti dinners. Most people in the bar were partnered off into hetero couples. Like some caricature of the back-to-the-land movement, the men were ruggedly handsome in a traditionally French way, with their wool sweaters and cigarettes; the women were plain and severe, worn-looking, as if they had been prematurely aged from the butter-churning and child-rearing that revolutionary discipline demanded of them. I was approached by an astringent woman in her 30s with curly hair and steely eyes who introduced herself as Gabrielle. “It’s a peculiar time for you to come visit here,” she said coldly, “I just got back yesterday.” Gabrielle explained that she had been one of the Tarnac Nine and for the past year had been shuttled between prison and judicial probation...
Keep reading.

Pick up a copy at Amazon, The Coming Insurrection.