Monday, November 07, 2005

Battle Cry: November '05??

Say “May ‘68” today on your average street corner and people within earshot will probably think that you’re talking about somebody’s birthday. Outside of French intellectuals and those who haven’t yet forgotten their class in modern European history, the phrase doesn’t carry much meaning anymore. But it did at one time. Will “November ‘05” carry a similarly powerful message in the near future?

What happened in May of 1968? ( ). In short, there was a sudden outbreak of student protests in Paris, loosely organized around communist ideals, anti-Vietnam War sentiment, anarchism and frustration. After massive marches in Paris the uprising was joined by 10 million workers on strike, and street battles with the police ensued. The crisis was literally a full-blown insurrection. But it ended as quickly as it began, and the conservatives under de Gaulle increased their strength in the next election.

What is happening now? John Robb at Global Guerrillas has some interesting comments: France was one of the first to transition to the State-Nation, and then on to the Nation-State. The current wave of riots and arson engulfing France is perhaps best viewed as the death throws of the French Nation-State (see The New Map). France is arguably the most xenophobic and racist of all the “western” nations—just as it was far more anti-Semitic than Germany prior to the rise of Hitler. Yet multiculturalism and globalization have led to the presence of a huge—yet poorly integrated—underclass of minorities in numerous French slums. This underclass—especially the quickly growing masses of North African and Islamic youth—feel justly alienated from a French culture into which they will never fully integrate. But what is at least as interesting as the cause for the uprising is the manner in which this uprising is emerging. How is it similar to the events of May of 1968?

Are the events of November, 2005 and May, 1968 parallels of each other? May’68 had well articulated organizing principles, but there were several of them, and they were often in conflict with each other. Nov’05, on the other hand, seems to have no consciously articulated organizing principle, but rather seems to be an emergent phenomenon derived from a broad sentiment. Will it go anywhere? Is a conscious articulation of the rationale behind the uprising needed to facilitate its continued growth and impact, or is rhizome more powerful without direction, or with only emergence providing guidance? Will there be any lasting change? Can the Nation-State of France (or any other Nation-State for that matter) be transformed by anything other than complete destruction? Can this uprising be quelled by a compromise that actually addresses the problem, or will it fizzle like the events of ’68? We’ll have to wait and see…


Kevin Carson said...

Hey! I just stumbled onto this blog from a Technorati Tag search of "hierarchy." Amazing! As a treasure-trove of material on decentralist and bottom-up thinking, the only thing I know of that's remotely comparable is Dave Pollard's blog. I expect to do a lot of happy digging here over the next few weeks.

I also look forward to looking through Theory of Power.

Your ideas seem to parallel some I'm working on in my Anarchist Theory of Organizational Behavior research project. For some indication of the lines it's taking, you can check out the following posts (linked in the sidebar): "The Irrationality of Large Organizations"; "The Superior Efficiency of Small-Scale Organizations"; and "What Can Bosses Know?"

janusville said...

"May’68 had well articulated organizing principles, but there were several of them, and they were often in conflict with each other. Nov’05, on the other hand, seems to have no consciously articulated organizing principle, but rather seems to be an emergent phenomenon derived from a broad sentiment."

I think the main difference between '68 and today is that in the west at least we are lacking a revolutionary theory that has any popularity. With the promise of Communism passed, and no stable revolutionary paradigm to replace it, all that is left to the hopeless youth in France is either Islam, chaos, or a combination of the two. As Lenin's Tomb points out, ( associating the current unrest with radical Islam is a defensive move by the west, so that they don't have to deal with the real inequities that have brought this violence to pass. If there is any ideology behind this, it is the standard youthful "let's smash things up" that is always available. I'm not sure calling the lack of a narrative-other than violence and revenge-Rhizome acknowledges the fact that there most likely won't be much of anything positive that comes of this chaos. Perhaps it will be used as a rhetorical device to crack down on immigration, perhaps to deal with inequalities in French society or the west in general. I'm not sure how it could exemplify the movement of Rhizome, even rhetorically.

Anonymous said...

REFERENCE: your article written on dec 21, wanted to make sure all you jeff vail blog viewers didn't miss out on this...

wow Jeff, you're absolutely brilliant. for someone who claims to be so smart----and tries to convince everyone that you know so much, it amazes me that you assumed that the attack in the Mosul dining facility was indirect fire. In fact, you are so smart that you went on to write an entire article focuses around that assumption---but wait, WAIT, Jeff!! It WASN'T mortars or rockets. It was several suicide bombers. I just wanted to get the record straight for any of you viewers who actually think this guy knows what he is talking about. And you're so naive that you never took this article down or made the correction. Way to go Jeff, notch another one up for guys like you who use big words to try to sound smart---when in reality, you can't even figure out the difference between an indirect fire attack and suicide bombers.

gilemon said...

The analogies you want to make in-between 68 and now take root in French language - highly influenced by the Greek Colonization which was a real love story.
68 was a travesty of Greek brilliance and the uprising archetype overwhelms “French brains” since roman imperialism emergence.
There is no reason it’s not consuming post WWII immigrants. If states endure, it’s inevitably the only way for the “racaille” to become really French.

Jeff Vail said...

You can read the original, mistaken assessment here:


Thanks for pointing it is often helpful to be reminded of our mistakes.

Anonymous said...

May 68 was instigated by the CIA! A reward for De Gaulle’s “No to Britain” - Nothing to do with your Greco-fantasies.

allderblob said...

I think you have to go back farther than may '68 to make sense of November '05. Back, for example, to the events in Watts in 1965, or farther still, to the events in Algeria in the 1950s.

The seeds of Algeria and Watts bore fruit in Paris many years later; it remains to be seen what bizarre fruit the seeds of Paris in 2005 will bear.

On the other hand, what's most striking to me is the 12 days of christmas that went unpunished in the banlieus: a strange reflection of the fact that "everybody hates cars" and nobody really cares about the destruction of a few of 'em.

For another take on this, see The ALLDERBLOB at

fdg said...

fdg said...

I like your blog. Thank you. They are really great . Ermunterung ++ .
Some new style Puma Speed is in fashion this year.
chaussure puma is Puma shoes in french . Many Franzose like seach “chaussure sport” by the internet when they need buy the Puma Shoes Or nike max shoes. The information age is really convenient .

By the way ,the nike max ltd is really good NIKE air shoes ,don’t forget buy the puma mens shoes and nike air max ltd by the internet when you need them . Do you know Nike Air Shoes is a best Air Shoes . another kinds of Nike shoes is better . For example , Nike Air Rift is good and Cheap Nike Shoes .the nike shox shoes is fitting to running.

Spring is coming, Do you think this season is not for Ugg Boots? maybe yes .but this season is best time that can buy the cheap ugg boots. Many sellers are selling discounted. Do not miss . Please view my fc2 blog and hair straighteners blog.
.thank you .

I like orange converse shoes ,I like to buy the cheap converse shoes by the internet shop . the puma shoes and the adidas shoes (or addidas shoes) are more on internet shop .i can buy the cheap nike shoes and cheap puma shoes online. It’s really convenient.
Many persons more like Puma basket shoes than nike air rift shoes . the Puma Cat shoes is a kind of Cheap Puma Shoes .
If you want to buy the Cheap Nike Air shoes ,you can buy them online. They are same as the Nike Air shoes authorized shop. Very high-caliber Air shoes and puma cat shoes . the cheap puma shoes as same as other.

polo shirts

ralph lauren polo shirts
chaussure puma

chaussure sport

chaussures puma

puma CAT

ed hardy clothing

ed hardy clothes

ed hardy womens

ed hardy sunglasses