Sunday, May 31, 2009

JULIEN COUPAT from the Tarnac 9 IS FREE!

French authorities on Thursday authorised the release of Julien Coupat (Tarnac 9) , who has been detained for more than six months on suspicion of sabotaging high-speed train lines, the Paris prosecutor’s office said. Julien Coupat, 34, was arrested by anti-terrorist police in November 2008 and his lengthy detention without charges being filed had become highly controversial. His arrest was part of a wider swoop on members of what Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie described as an “anarcho-autonomous” movement that had been under surveillance by domestic intelligence services for months beforehand. Coupat, the last of the 10 suspects arrested in November to remain in custody, has always said he was innocent but he is still under investigation for organised, terrorism-related destruction of property. Under the terms of his release, he will have to stay in the Paris region and surrender his passport and identity papers. The failure to secure any convictions after a highly publicised raid by hundreds of police has proved embarrassing to the government, which has been accused of whipping up terrorism fears to justify tough new security measures. In a written interview with the Le Monde newspaper this week Coupat described his detention as a “petty revenge which is quite understandable given the means that were deployed and the extent of the failure.”

Here are the responses to the questions that Isabelle Mandraud and Caroline Monnot posed in writing to Julien Coupat. Placed under investigation on 15 November 2008 for "terrorism," along with eight other people interrogated in Tarnac (Correze) and Paris, he is suspected of having sabotaged the suspended electrical cables of the SNCF.

Translation of very recent interview with Julien Coupat given some days before his release.

Interview with Julien Coupat

Q. How are you spending your time?

A. Very well, thank you. Chin-ups, jogging and reading.

Q. Can you recall the circumstances of your arrest for us?

A. A gang of youths, hooded and armed to the teeth, broke into our house. They threatened us, handcuffed us, and took us away, after having broken everything to pieces. They first took us into very fast cars capable of moving at more than 170 kilometers an hour on the highways. In their conversations, the name of a certain Mr Marion (former leader of the anti-terrorist police) came up often. His virile exploits amused them very much, such as the time he slapped one of his colleagues in the face, in good spirits and at a going-away party. They sequestered us for four days in one of their "people's prisons," where they stunned us with questions in which absurdity competed with obscenity.

The one who seemed to be the brains of the operation vaguely excused himself from this circus by explaining that it was the fault of the "services," the higher-ups, all kinds of people who want [to talk to] us very much. Today, my kidnappers are still free. Certain recent and diverse facts attest to the fact that they continue to rage with total impunity.

Q. The sabotage of the SNCF cables in France was claimed [by someone] in Germany. What do you say about that?

A. At the moment of our arrest, the French police were already in possession of the communique that claimed, in addition to the acts of sabotage that they want to attribute to us, other simultaneous attacks in Germany. This communique is inconvenient to the police for a number of reasons: it was mailed from Hanover, drafted in German and sent to newspapers in the Outer Rhine area exclusively; but it is especially inconvenient because it does not fit the framework of the mediatic[1] fable about us: a small nucleus of fanatics bringing the battle to the heart of the State by hanging three iron bars on the cables. From then on, they took care to not mention this communique too much, either in court or in the public lie.

It is true that the sabotage of the train lines lost much of its mysterious aura as a result: now it would be a matter of simple protest against the transportation of ultra-radioactive nuclear wastes to Germany over railroads and denunciations (made in passing) of the great rip-off known as "the crisis." The communique concludes with a very SNCF-like "We thank the travelers on the trains concerned for their understanding." What tact there is among these "terrorists"!

Q. Do you recognize yourself in the phrases "anarcho-autonomous circle of influence" and "ultra-left"?

A. Let me resume what I was saying. In France, we are currently living through the end of a period of historical freezing, the founding act of which was the accord reached in 1945 by the Gaullists and the Stalinists to disarm the people under the pretext of "avoiding a civil war." The terms of this pact can be formulated thus: while the Right will renounce its overtly fascist accents, the Left will abandon all serious revolutionary perspectives. For four years, the advantage of Sarkozy's clique has been the fact that it unilaterally took the initiative by breaking this pact and renewing "without apologies" the classics of pure reaction concerning the insane, religion, the West, Africa, work, the history of France and national identity.

Faced with a power at war that dares to think strategically and divide the world into "friends," "enemies" and "negligible quantities," the Left remains frozen, as if sick with tetanus. It is too cowardly, too compromised and, more than anything else, too discredited to offer the least resistance to a power that it doesn't dare treat as an enemy and that, one by one, snatches away the sly devils [les malins] among its ranks. As for the extreme Left (Besancenot, for example): whatever its electoral results, and even if it has emerged from the groupuscular state in which it long vegetated, it hasn't a more desirable perspective to offer than Soviet gray that has been slightly retouched in Photoshop. Its destiny is to deceive and disappoint.

Thus, in the sphere of political representation, the established power has nothing to fear from anyone. And certainly not the union bureaucracies, which are more corrupt than ever and now importune power [for help]. They do this, they who have danced an obscene ballet with the government for the last two years! In such conditions, they only force that can put a check on the Sarkozy gang, its only real enemy in this country, is the street, the street and its old revolutionary penchants. During the riots that followed the second part of the ritualized plebiscite of May 2007, only the street knew how to rise to the occasion. In the Antilles, during the recent occupations of companies and factories, it alone knew how to make another voice heard.

This summary analysis of the theater of operations was soon to be confirmed in June 2007, when the intelligence agencies published -- under the bylines of journalists working under orders (notably for Le Monde) -- the first articles bringing to light the terrible peril that is placed upon all social life by the "anarcho-autonomes." To start, one attributed to them the organization of spontaneous riots, which, in so many towns, saluted the "electoral triumph" of the new president.

With this fable of "anarcho-autonomes," one has sketched out the profile of the menace to which the Minister of the Interior is docilely committed to give a little flesh and a few faces by organizing targeted arrests in mediatic police raids. When one can no longer contain what overflows, one can still assign it a case number and incarcerate it. Thus, the case of the "rioter," in which the workers of Clairoix, urban youths, student blockaders and anti-summit demonstrators are dumped pell-mell -- this is certainly an effective move in the current management of social pacification -- permits the State to criminalize actions, not existences.[2] And it is indeed the intention of the new power to attack the enemy, as such, without waiting for him to declare himself. Such is the vocation of the new categories of repression.

Finally, it hardly matters than no one in France recognizes him or herself as "anarcho-autonomous" or that the ultra-left is a political current that had its moment of glory in the 1920s and that, subsequently, never produced anything other than inoffensive volumes of Marxology. Moreover, the recent fortunes of the term "ultra-left," which have permitted some journalists to catalogue the Greek rioters of last December without striking a blow, speak to the fact that no one knows what the ultra-left was nor even that it ever existed.

At this point -- and in the anticipation of outbursts that can only be systematized in the face of the provocations of a hard-pressed global and French oligarchy -- the utility of these categories to the police must no longer be debated. Nevertheless, one cannot predict whether "anarcho-autonomous" or "ultra-left" will finally carry off the favors of the Spectacle and relegate a totally justified revolt to the inexplicable.

Q. The police consider you the leader of a group on the point of tipping over into terrorism. What do you think about that?

A. Such a pathetic allegation can only be the work of a regime that is on the point of tipping over into nothingness.

Q. What does the word terrorism mean to you?

A. Nothing allows one to explain why the Algerian Department of Intelligence and Security, suspected of having orchestrated -- with the knowledge of the DST[3] -- the wave of attacks in 1995, is not classed among the international terrorist organizations. Nothing allows one to explain the sudden transformation of "terrorists" into heroes in the manner of the Liberation, into partners suitable for the Evian Accords, into Iraqi police officers and "moderate members of the Taliban," according to the most recent sudden reversal of the American strategic doctrine.

[It means] nothing, if not sovereignty. It is the sovereign in this world who designates the terrorist. He who refuses to take part in this sovereignty will take care not to respond to your question. He who covets a few crumbs will comply [with the question] promptly. He who doesn't suffocate from bad faith will find instructive the case of the two ex-"terrorists" who became the Prime Minister of Israel and the President of the Palestinian Authority, respectively, and who -- to top it all off -- were both given Noble Peace Prizes.

The fuzziness that surrounds the designation "terrorist," the manifest impossibility of defining "terrorism," does not affect several provisional lacunae in French law: terrorists are at the source of this thing that one can define very easily: anti-terrorism, for which "terrorism" forms the pre-condition. Anti-terrorism is a technique of government that thrusts its roots down into the old art of counter-insurrection, so-called "psychological warfare," to be polite.

Anti-terrorism, contrary to what the term itself insinuates, is not a means of fighting against terrorism, but is the method by which one positively produces the political enemy as terrorist. By means of a wealth of provocations, infiltrations, surveillance, intimidation and propaganda; by means of the science of mediatic manipulation, "psychological action," the fabrication of both evidence and crimes; by means of the fusion of the police and the judicial; and by means of the annihilation of the "subversive menace" by associating the internal enemy, the political enemy -- which is at the heart of the population -- with the affect of terror.

In modern warfare, the essential aspect is the "battle for hearts and minds" in which blows are permitted. The elementary procedure here is invariable: individualize the enemy so as to cut him off from the people and from communal reason; display him in the costume of a monster; defame him, publicly humiliate him, incite the vilest people to heap their spit upon him; encourage hatred of him. "The law must be utilized simply as another weapon in the arsenal of the government and, in this case, represents nothing other than a propaganda cover to get rid of undesirable members of the public. For maximum efficiency, it would be suitable that the activities of the judicial services are tied to the war effort in the most discrete fashion possible," advised Brigadier Frank Kitson (former general in the British Army, theoretician of counter-insurrectionary war), who knew something of the subject.

Once is not a pattern: in our case, anti-terrorism has been a flop. In France, one isn't ready to let oneself be terrorized by us. The prolongation of my detention for a "reasonable" period of time is petty revenge, quite comprehensible due to the means mobilized and the depth of the failure; as comprehensible as the petty fury of the [intelligence] "services," which since 11 November [2008] have through the press attributed to us the most fantastic misdeeds and stalked our comrades. How this logic of reprisals has seized control of the minds of the police and the small hearts of the judges, this is what the cadenced arrests of those "close to Julien Coupat" will have had the merit of revealing.

It is necessary to say that certain people are using this affair to extend their lamentable careers, like Alain Bauer (a criminologist), for example; others are using it to launch their latest ventures, like poor M. Squarcini (the Central Director of Domestic Intelligence); while still others are trying to rehabilitate the credibility that they've never had and never will have, like Michele Alliot-Marie.[4]

Q. You come from a very well-to-do background, which oriented you in another direction. . .

A. "There are plebes in all classes." (Hegel).

Q. Why Tarnac?

A. Go there, you will understand. If you don't, no one could explain it to you, I fear.

Q. Do you define yourself as an intellectual? A philosopher?

A. Philosophy was born like chatty grief from original wisdom. Plato already heard the words of Heraclitus as if they had escaped from a bygone world. In the era of diffused intellectuality, one can't see what "the intellectual" might make specific, unless it is the expanse of the gap that separates the faculty of thinking from the aptitude for living. Intellectual and philosopher are, in truth, sad titles. But for whom exactly is it necessary to define oneself?

Q. Are you the author of The Coming Insurrection?

A. This is the most formidable aspect of these proceedings: a book integrally versed in the case histories of instructional manuals, in the interrogations in which one tries to make you say that you live just as described in The Coming Insurrection; that you protest[5] as The Coming Insurrection advocates; and that you sabotaged train lines to commemorate the Bolshevik coup d'Etat of October 1917. Because this idea is mentioned in The Coming Insurrection, its publisher was questioned by the anti-terrorist services.

In French memory, one hasn't seen power become fearful of a book for a very long time. Instead, one had the custom of believing that as long a leftists were preoccupied with writing, at least they weren't making revolution. Assuredly, times change. Serious history returns.

What founds the accusation of terrorism where we are concerned are suspicions about the coincidence of thought and life; what founds the accusation concerning the association of evil-doers is the suspicion that this coincidence couldn't have been the result of individual heroism, but communal attention. Negatively, this means that one does not suspect any of those who sign their names to so many fierce critiques of the system of putting the least of their firm resolutions into practice; the insult is strong enough. Unfortunately, I am not the author of The Coming Insurrection, and this whole affair will end up convincing us of the essentially repressive [policiere] character of the author's function.

On the other hand, I am a reader. Re-reading it, just last week, I better understood the hysterical bad temper that, from high up, motivates the State to hound its presumed authors. The scandal of the book is that all that figures in it is rigorously, catastrophically true and it does not cease to prove itself true, little by little, each day. Because what proves itself, under the outward appearance of this "economic crisis," this "collapse of confidence," and this "massive rejection of the ruling classes," is indeed the end of a civilization, the implosion of a paradigm, namely, that of the government, which rules everything in the West -- the relations of beings to themselves no less than to the political order, religion or the organization of business. At all levels of the present, there is a gigantic loss of mastery that no word-games [maraboutage] by the police will be able to remedy.

It is not by skewering us with prison terms, microscopic surveillance, judicial supervision and prohibitions upon communication because we might be the authors of these lucid findings that one will make what has been found disappear. The characteristic of truth is that it escapes, barely enunciated, from those who formulate it. Governments: it doesn't accomplish anything if you send us to jail; quite the contrary.

Q. You've read Discipline and Punish by Michel Foucault. Does this analysis still seem pertinent to you

A. The prison is indeed the dirty little secret of French society, the key to and not the margins of the most respectable social relations. What is concentrated in the prison is not a pile of wild barbarians, as it pleases some people to think, but in fact the ensemble of the disciplines that weave together so-called "normal" existence outside. Supervisors, the canteen, soccer games in the courtyard, one's use of time, divisions, camaraderie, fights and ugly architecture: one has to have been in prison to take the full measure of the carceral in the school, the "innocent" schools of the Republic.

Envisioned from this impregnable angle, prison isn't a pit [repaire] for society's failures; instead, current society is a failed prison. The same organization of separations, the same administration of misery through shit,[6] TV, sports and porno reigns everywhere else, but much less methodically than in prison. To conclude: these high walls only hide from view this truth of explosive banality: there are lives and souls, entirely equal, who drag themselves along on both sides of the barbed wire, and because of it.

If one avidly tracks down the testimonies "from the inside" that finally expose the secrets that the prison conceals, it is done to better to hide the secret that the prison is: the secret of your servitude, you who are reputedly free, while its menace weighs invisibly on each of your gestures.

All of the virtuous indignation that surrounds the black hole [la noirceur] of French prisons and their suicide rates; all the crude counter-propaganda of the penal administrators who bring on camera the disciplinarians [des matons] devoted to the well-being of the detainees and the metal-plated directors who are concerned with the "meaning of the penalty"; in sum, all of the debate on the horror of incarceration and the necessity of humanizing detention is as old as the prison system itself. It is part of its efficacy, which permits the State to combine the terror that the prison must inspire with the hypocritical legal status of "civilized" punishment. The little system of prison-based spying, humiliation and violence [de ravage] that the French State uses more fanatically than any other State in Europe isn't even scandalous. The State pays for it a hundred times over in the banlieus, and this, from all the evidence, is only a beginning: vengeance is the hygiene of the plebes.

But the most remarkable imposture of the judicial-penal system certainly consists in pretending that it exists to punish criminals when, in fact, it only manages illegality. Any boss -- not just the boss of Everything -- any president of a general council -- not just the President of Hauts-de-Sein -- any cop knows that illegality is necessary for the correct performance of his or her trade. In our time, the chaos of the laws is such that one would do well to not seek to make the laws respected too much and the drug enforcements agents [les stups] should stick to regulating trafficking and not repressing it, which would be social and political suicide.

The discussion is not -- as the judicial fiction would have it -- between the legal and the illegal, between the innocents and the criminals, but between the criminal whom one judges suitable for prosecution and the criminal whom one leaves in peace, as the general powers of society require. The race of the innocents was wiped out long ago, and the penalty is not what condemns you to justice: the penalty is justice itself; thus, it isn't a matter of my comrades and I "claiming our innocence," despite what is ritualistically repeated in the press, but trying to derail the hazardous political offensive that these vile proceedings constitute. These were some of the conclusions to which the mind is brought by re-reading Surveiller et Punir in prison. Of course, one isn't suggesting, given what the Foucaultians have done with the works of Foucault for the last twenty years, that they should spend some time in jail.

Q. How do you analyze what has happened to you?

A. Enlighten yourself: what has happened to us, to my comrades and I, will also happen to you. This is the first mystification by power: nine people are prosecuted in the framework of a judicial proceeding against an "association of evil-doers in connection with a terrorist enterprise," and they must be particularly concerned by these grave accusations. But there is no "Tarnac Affair," no "Coupat Affair," no "Hazan Affair" (Hazan published "The Coming Insurrection"). What there is, is an oligarchy that is very wobbly and becomes ferocious like any power when it feels itself to be really threatened. When his views no longer elicit anything among the people other than hatred and scorn, the prince has no other support than the fear that he inspires.

What there is before us is a bifurcation that is both historical and metaphysical: either we pass from a paradigm of government to a paradigm of living, at the price of a cruel but deeply moving revolt, or we allow the instauration at the planetary level of an air-conditioned disaster in which -- under the yoke of a "simplified" management -- an imperial elite of citizens and marginalized plebeian classes coexist. Thus there surely is a war, a war between the beneficiaries of the catastrophe and those who are accustomed to a less skeletal idea of life. One has never seen a dominant class commit suicide willingly.

The revolt has conditions, but not causes. How many Ministries of National Identity, lay-offs, raids of those without proper papers or those who are political opponents, young people beaten up by the police in the banlieus, and ministers threatening to deprive diplomas from those who dare to occupy their schools are necessary before one decides that such a regime -- even if installed in power by an apparently democratic plebiscite -- has no reason to exist and only merits being brought down? It is a matter of sensitivity.

Servitude is the intolerable thing that can be tolerated indefinitely. Because this is a matter of sensitivity and this sensitivity is immediately political -- not that it wonders "Who should I vote for?" but "Is this incompatible with my existence?" -- it is, for power, a question of anesthetizing the response [to the second question] through the administration of ever more massively distracting doses of fear and stupidity. And there where the anesthesia no longer works, this order, which has united against it all the reasons for revolt, tries to dissuade us by stuffing us into a small, tight-fitting [ajustee] terror.

My comrades and I are only a variable in this adjustment. One suspects us like so many others, so many "youths," so many "gangs," of having no solidarity with a world that is collapsing. On this one point, one doesn't lie. Fortunately, this heap of swindlers, impostors, industrialists, financiers and prostitutes; this entire Mazarin's court full of neuroleptics, Disney versions of Louis Napoleon, and Sunday shows that grip the country for an hour lack an elementary sense of dialectics. Each step that they take towards total control brings them closer to their fear. Each new "victory" with which they flatter themselves spreads a little further the desire to see them defeated in their turn. Each maneuver that they figure comforts their power ends up rendering it detestable. In other words: the situation is excellent. This isn't the moment to lose courage.

(Published in Le Monde on 25 May 2009 and translated by NOT BORED! 27 May 2009.)

[1] There is no adequate English equivalent for mediatique, which not only refers to the media, but to the spectacular, as well.

[2] There could be typos in or words left out of the original French. The context suggests that the case of the "casseur" allows the State to criminalize existences and actions.

[3] The French FBI.

[4] Minister of the Interior.

[5] vous manifeste can also mean "demonstrate" and "reveal yourself."

[6] English in original.

more info:

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Shock Doctrine a film by Alfonso Guaron & Naomi Klain directed by Jonas Guaron

This important video is based in the book of Naomi Klain 
The Shock Doctrine
and in this edition the film
is with Spanish subtitles 
[please share and distribute this film]

Naomi Klein explodes the myth that the global free market triumphed democratically. Exposing the thinking, the money trail and the puppet strings behind the world-changing crises and wars of the last four decades, The Shock Doctrine is the gripping story of how America’s “free market” policies have come to dominate the world-- through the exploitation of disaster-shocked people and countries.

At the most chaotic juncture in Iraq’s civil war, a new law is unveiled that would allow Shell and BP to claim the country’s vast oil reserves…. Immediately following September 11, the Bush Administration quietly out-sources the running of the “War on Terror” to Halliburton and Blackwater…. After a tsunami wipes out the coasts of Southeast Asia, the pristine beaches are auctioned off to tourist resorts.... New Orleans’s residents, scattered from Hurricane Katrina, discover that their public housing, hospitals and schools will never be reopened…. These events are examples of “the shock doctrine”: using the public’s disorientation following massive collective shocks – wars, terrorist attacks, or natural disasters -- to achieve control by imposing economic shock therapy. Sometimes, when the first two shocks don’t succeed in wiping out resistance, a third shock is employed: the electrode in the prison cell or the Taser gun on the streets. 

Based on breakthrough historical research and four years of on-the-ground reporting in disaster zones, The Shock Doctrine vividly shows how disaster capitalism – the rapid-fire corporate reengineering of societies still reeling from shock – did not begin with September 11, 2001. The book traces its origins back fifty years, to the University of Chicago under Milton Friedman, which produced many of the leading neo-conservative and neo-liberal thinkers whose influence is still profound in Washington today. New, surprising connections are drawn between economic policy, “shock and awe” warfare and covert CIA-funded experiments in electroshock and sensory deprivation in the 1950s, research that helped write the torture manuals used today in Guantanamo Bay.

The Shock Doctrine follows the application of these ideas though our contemporary history, showing in riveting detail how well-known events of the recent past have been deliberate, active theatres for the shock doctrine, among them: Pinochet’s coup in Chile in 1973, the Falklands War in 1982, the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Asian Financial crisis in 1997 and Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

STEAL THIS FILM 2 >> A film about the efforts of capitalism to destroy freedom in internet

"These are strange times indeed. While they continue to command so much attention in the mainstream media, the 'battles' between old and new modes of distribution, between the pirate and the institution of copyright, seem to many of us already lost and won. We know who the victors are. Why then say any more?
Because waves of repression continue to come: lawsuits are still levied against innocent people; arrests are still made on flimsy pretexts, in order to terrify and confuse; harsh laws are still enacted against file-sharing, taking their place in the gradual erosion of our privacy and the bolstering of the surveillance state. All of this is intended to destroy or delay inexorable changes in what it means to create and exchange our creations. If STEAL THIS FILM II proves at all useful in bringing new people into the leagues of those now prepared to think 'after intellectual property', think creatively about the future of distribution, production and creativity, we have achieved our main goal."

Steal This Film II, from producer/director J.J. King, is a sober, thought-provoking piece on technology and intellectual property that frames the current debate over copyright in historical and political terms. Not only can you download it for free in HD (over BitTorrent, natch), the League of Noble Peers ask that you screen and share copies early and often.

Steal This Film II argues that the Internet has enabled a vast expansion of the means of media production and distribution and a blurring of the lines between consumer and producer. As its narrator declares: “In fighting file-sharing, the entertainment industry is fighting the fundamental structure of the Internet.”
Drawing a direct analogy between the scarcity of information when books were copied by scribes and the explosion of ideas following the invention of the printing press, the film uses animations to illustrate how centralized “broadcast” mass media is being fundamentally subverted by decentralized networks. And anecdotes like Johannes Gutenberg’s business partner being set upon and accused of black magic after delivering the first batch of machine-printed bibles to Paris certainly puts the Viacom vs. Google case in perspective.
More polished than the first installment, the Steal This Film 1, and with broader scope, the film isn’t focused strictly on “piracy,” but rather on the evolution of information exchange and communication networks. Experts weigh in from Bangalore, London, Amsterdam, New York and San Francisco on the past, present and future of media, though other than a cameo from the MPAA’s Dan Glickman, its viewpoint couldn’t exactly be considered balanced.
While no video statements from the producer’s earlier call for submissions made it into this installment (though a planned final feature version may), there are man-on-the-street interviews with young people in London who’ve never paid for an album in their lives. And musicians who are creating music from borrowed elements with the intent that they will be copied and remixed serve to demonstrate that even in the absence of strict adherence to copyright laws, creative innovation continues apace, calling into question the argument that without copyrights, there would be no incentive to create new work.
After all, long before Hammurabi’s Code, there was art and inquiry. And that’s where the piece excels — in making clear that the web is just an extension of our anthropologically deep desire to share culture with each other, a desire that predates modern social, political and economic institutions.
We are certainly going to cough up a $ 5 dollar donation to see what’s in the “Mystery Gift Bag,” and look forward to the finished feature and other future projects from the production team.
The article is Written by Jackson West
and found it in very interesting site:

for more info about The Pirate Bay Trial:

The Pirate Bay found Guilty!:

for more info about The Pirate Bay struggle:

Friday, May 15, 2009

Closed Zone : a short film by Yoni Goodman (director of "Waltz with Basir") for Freedom of Movement in Gaza

Yoni Goodman, one of the creators of “Waltz with Bashir”, which won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Academy Award, today launched a new animated short film entitled “Closed Zone”. He created the short for “Gisha - Legal Center for Freedom of Movement”.
The 90-second film mixes animation with realistic shots to depict the closure imposed on the Gaza Strip by Israel for more than 1.5 years. Through a single character, Goodman seeks to evoke the empathy of viewers and get them to see the residents of Gaza for who they really are – a million and a half human beings who are being prevented from pursuing their aspirations because of restrictions on their movement.

you can see the film and more info about it in:

Despite declarations that it has "disengaged" from the Gaza Strip, Israel maintains control of the Strip’s overland border crossings, territorial waters, and air space. This includes substantial, albeit indirect, control of the Rafah Crossing.
During the past 18 months, Israel tightened its closure of Gaza, almost completely restricting the passage of goods and people both to and from the Strip.
These policies punish innocent civilians with the goal of exerting pressure on the Hamas government, violating the rights of 1.5 million people who seek only to live ordinary lives – to be reunited with family, to pursue higher education, to receive quality medical treatment, and to earn a living.
The effects of the closure were particularly harsh during the military operation of Dec. 2008 - Jan. 2009. For three weeks, Gaza residents had nowhere to flee to escape the bombing.
Gisha - Legal Center for Freedom of Movement calls on the State of Israel to fully open Gaza's crossings and to allow the real victims of the closure - 1.5 million human beings - the freedom of movement necessary to realize their dreams and aspirations.
According to Yoni Goodman: “It was important to me to create a human figure to whom everyone can relate. I hope that when people watch the short, they will be able to detach themselves from their automatic associations of good and evil”.
He began working on the short before the start of the military operation in Gaza, but the conflict eventually had a major impact on the film. Yoni needed to emphasize in the screenplay, as well as in the artistic design, the fact that Gaza residents literally have nowhere to run – even when their lives are at stake.
According to Sari Bashi, Gisha Director: “The unusual choice of animation as a medium is intended to help viewers understand who the real victims of the closure policy are – 1.5 million people who just want to live their lives”.
Gisha is a human rights organization which defends the right to freedom of movement of Palestinians through legal and public advocacy.
Over the past 20 months, Israel has tightened its closure of the Gaza Strip, almost completely restricting the passage of goods and people both to and from the Strip. These policies, which punish innocent civilians with the goal of exerting pressure on the Hamas government, violate Gaza residents’ freedom of movement, which is a basic precondition for their ability to exercise other basic rights.
Gisha calls on the State of Israel to fully open the Gaza Strip’s crossings and to allow Gaza residents the freedom of movement necessary to pursue their dreams.

you can see the film and more info about it in:

more info about
Legal Center for Freedom of Movement

Monday, May 11, 2009

Guy Debord : We Go Round and Round in the Night and Are Consumed by Fire [ a film review written by Stephan Pfohl ]

artwork: Void Network

Guy Debord, In Girum Imus Nocte Et Consumimurm Igni: a Film. London: Pelagian Press, 1991.
film review written by Stefan Pfohl
Permit yourself to drift from what you are reading at this very moment into another situation, another way of acting within the historical and psychic geographies in which the event of your own reading is here and now taking place; here and now taking the place of other ways of making passionate and energetic connections between us. Imagine a situation that, in all likelihood, you've never been in. Imagine that you are sitting in a movie theater with me watching the sixth and final film of Guy Debord. Imagine, that as you and I gaze upon the screen of flickering electronic images our eyes meet those of another cinema audience. The other audience is staring fixedly in a perfect reverse shot at the screened image that you and I are becoming. Who are you? What or who are you becoming? What about me? What are our material relations to each other, to ourselves, and to others in history? What historical epoch is it that we are both within and ceaselessly remaking in some ways, but not other ways? When you think of the comfort and/or the anxious disdain you are feeling, sitting here with me in this theater, what other images cross the flesh of your mind? What if you're not happy with these images? What if you sense, perhaps beyond words, that this situation which I am asking you to imagine is but a filmic preface to a more complex, dangerous, and seductive situation - a situation demanding the pleasures and also the risks of revolting historical actions?
Loosen up. Have a drink. A devilish voice layers itself upon the images we are watching, as we pass together through a rather brief moment of time. It is the voice of Guy Debord. The voice declares: "I will make no concession to the public in this film... This public, so completely deprived of freedom, and which has put up with everything, deserves less than any other to be spared. The manipulators of advertising, with the traditional cynicism of those who know that people are inclined to justify insults which they do not avenge, calmly announce today that 'when you love life, you go to the cinema'."
Now the images before our eyes are changing. First we find ourselves surveying a large complex of standardized houses. Neatly separated houses. Neatly boring, neatly standardized houses for a standardizing culture: the architectural packaging of an intensely commodified culture. Then we observe a modern employee in her bath, with her young son. Something appears missing in this picture - something that haunts the cinematic framing of this very movie. Tracking shot towards a bed adorning the same room. Cut to a long line of people waiting patiently outside the entrance of a cinema. Perhaps they are waiting to watch the very film that you and I this very moment are watching. Perhaps, in order to watch this film, these patiently waiting in line people are calmly, and in an excessively civilized fashion, handing over their national/transnational New World Citizen ID cards to be scanned by a remote Prop 187 culture data input module. Waiting in line. Waiting on line. What's the difference? One thing is for sure - these people are waiting; endlessly, patiently waiting. This is life. This is cinema.
Debord's words continue: "But this life and this cinema are equally paltry; and that is why you could actually exchange one for the other with indifference." Long tracking shot. Newt Gingrich, portable PC under one arm. He's chasing OJ Simpson with a camcorder. Background images of Bosnia, then Chechnya. Cut to image of Beacon Street in Brookline, Massachusetts, the United States of America. Image of a white Euro-American man with a hunting rifle in his hand. God the Father is in this man's mind. The man approaches a women's health center and abortion clinic. Cut to a long shot of Mexico City; pesos piled higher than banks. Then to images of Montreal. Photo likenesses of the faces of the editors of this very journal flash across the screen. Then to Hollywood. Rats running everywhere. Then to Washington, D.C. where the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers are testifying on how best to police Haiti. Then flash screen to Tokyo. City center images of huge data boards with moving figurations. A barely clad white woman with brown, deep brown, skin appears. She dives into the blue, deep blue, hyper-blue waters off the side a Caribbean cruise ship. This ship is named Carnival. The waters are so blue, deep blue, hyper-blue, that you can't see the blood. See the history. Newt appears again. He corners OJ and gives him a freshly inked copy of the GATT agreement. Both men smile enigmatically. They join a long line of people waiting patiently outside the entrance of a cinema. Waiting; endlessly, patiently waiting. No. This can't be the right film. I must be getting ahead of myself. Still, I'm no futurist. "But what does it matter?," cautions Guy. "The Future is in the Past. Shipwreckers have their name writ only in water... The existing images only serve the existing lies."
Guy Debord was born in France in 1931. He lived, by most accounts, with great intensity until the Fall of 1994. Then he took his own life. Never one to behold the times in which he lived with anything but contempt, Debord, author of Society of the Spectacle, was also a radical Lettrist film maker. [1] In 1957, he participated as a founding member of the Situationist International, an adventuresome political ensemble of (mostly male) activists, avant-garde artists, writers, theorists, and revolting practitioners of a hybrid of Marxian, anarchist, and festively inspired approaches to cultural and economic rebellion. Legendary for the provocative and organizational energies they lent to the Parisian revolts of May 1968, the Situationists attempted to both strategically theorize and inspire disgust for the increasingly commodified character of everyday social life. As proclaimed in a diverse array of pamphlets, journal articles, "detourned" comic strips, visual and performative political interventions, and incendiary street activism, for Situationists, life lived under the sign of commodified spectacle was life separated from life, life enslaved by the cybernetic imperatives of image-driven forms of advanced capitalist power. Concerned that even its own subversive appeal would be spectacularly packaged by the French media as if nothing but marketable icons of consumable revolutionary praxis, the Situationist International ended its organizational identity in 1972.
In the following year, Debord returned to radical filmmaking. After a hiatus of nearly twelve years, he produced a cinemagraphic version of Society of the Spectacle, a feature-length montage of appropriated film, magazine, and newspaper imagery, mixed with a sound track composed of materials from Debord's book and other "found" texts. This demanding "theory film" was followed, in 1975, by the short Refutations of all judgements, for or against, which have been brought to date on the film Society of the Spectacle. This represented an unprecedented cinematic response to criticisms of Debord's previous film. In 1978 Debord directed In Girum Imis Nocte Et Consumimur Igni, the movie you and I are currently watching. Look out for the flames.
In March of 1984, Debord's close friend, publisher, and political ally, Gerard Lebovici, the owner and editor of Editions Champ Libre (a primary publisher of Situationist and other left-oriented texts) was assassinated in Paris. Debord believed the murder bore traces of covert neo-fascist death squads in operation within the French state. Conservative French media, however, insinuated that Debord was somehow behind this hideous crime. Outraged, Guy vowed to never to again allow any of his six films to be shown in France. Shortly thereafter, he left the country for an extended period of voluntary exile in Italy. The film we are today viewing has not been screened in public since that time.
Like the filmic version of Society of the SpectacleIn Girum Imis Nocte Et Consumimur Igni (which translates as "We Go Round and Round in the Night and Are Consumed by Fire") is a montage of mostly appropriated or detourned imagery, in which a complex "voice-over" is mixed with autobiographical images and a highly personalized history of Debord's involvement with Lettrists and the Situationist International. In the Pelagian Press edition of the script, the text from the film's voice-over is paired with a running subtext, describing the images and appropriated film dialogue that constitute core aspects of the film itself. Imagine viewing a relaxed gathering of some modern employees at home, dining on processed food, while playing "Monopoly." Over and above this banal scene, we hear Debord's voice stating: "Akin to 'peonage'... they are no longer left even the momentary handling of this money around which their entire activity revolves. Obviously they can only spend it, not getting enough of it to accumulate. But ultimately they find that they are obliged to consume on credit; and the credit they are allowed is docked from their pay, from which they will always have to free themselves by working even more." But what about those denied even the cursed blessings of this most self-enslaving form of post-monetary economic exchange? Cut to a wide-angled pan of a long and dreary line of sullen faced little orphans. This makes reading the printed materials - not unlike Debord's now largely unseen film itself - a complex and multilayered "collage" reading/viewing experience. At the center of the book version of In Girum lies twenty-four engaging film stills, each with excerpts from the accompanying voice-over.
If you, like me, sense that we are today living in a society of unprecedented technological hierarchy, where a sickening array of the virtually commodified pleasures substitute for the contradictory actualities of our historical moment - and who does not sense this to some degree, if in different psychic and material ways and often only in nightmares? - then questions raised by the short, but intensely lived, history of the Situationist International (SI) may remind you that you and I are not alone in this theater. In recent years, several studies of the theories and activities of the SI have appeared in English; the most comprehensive, as well as theoretically and politically engaging, to date, being Sadie Plant's The Most Radical Alternative: The Situationist International in a Postmodern Age[2] But In Girum is Debord's own attempt at a highly personalized filmic account of both the historical epoch in which he found himself struggling and of his relations to others, with whom, for a time, he joined forces in struggle.
In phrasing, tonality, and style, Debord's words may strike readers as somewhat masculinist, arrogant, and aggressive. Debord is not unaware of how his militant approach to both theory and film may affect his reader/viewers. Near the beginning of the script he contends, "Several excellent reasons justify such conduct to my mind and I shall give them." From here, he launches into an historically informed analysis of and assault upon the "agents of the various service occupations" from which the normative cinema audience, once populated by members of the industrial working class, "is nowadays almost entirely recruited." Nevertheless, with its war-like evocation of himself as a model for heroic revolutionary praxis, Debord's prose may, at points, appear self aggrandizing. Thus, we are informed, with some justification, that, for a long time, Debord himself was "the only one to offend" the mass cinema audience, by refusing to provide it with the commodified images "to which it has become accustomed." Moreover, when discussing the relationship between desperate times and fiery revolutionary stirrings, Debord comments that even the coldness of the present era "has dampened nothing,... of the passions of which I have furnished such fine and sad examples."
The life and times of Guy Debord are clearly foregrounded in Debord's film script. But, lest you imagine that this cinematic restaging of Situationist passions is little but a narcissistic gesture on the part of its author/artist, it is important to note that In Girumrepresents a deliberate examination of "an important subject" - the actual material relations between one's everyday life and the contradictory historical contexts in which the game of life is itself played. Debord argues, that critical theorists and artists have traditionally refused or covered over this aspect of their practice. The reason, he suggests, is that they, structually powerless as most are, fear judgements of complicity with conditions not entirely of one's making. "That is why those who expound various thoughts about revolutions to us ordinarily abstain from letting us know how they have lived their lives."
When Debord breaks silence on this issue, it is not simply to recount the path of his own autobiographical wanderings. It is also to resituate autobiographical reflections within the psychic and geographical relations in which such reflections are themselves made possible. For Debord, in large part, this means the psychic geography of the left bank of Paris during the fifties and sixties - a seductive labyrinth of urban relations where "the negative held court" and the allure of "charming hooligans", "proud young women", and "dingy dives" operated as a defense against the full onslaught of commodified ahistoricality. Here, the "chemistry of substitution" and the "modern commodity had not yet come to show all that can be done to a street." This, after all, was a neighborhood "which had, ten times, barricaded its streets and routed its kings. But this "Paris no longer exists." Where once this locale had given birth to a revolting "science of situations" and "people quite sincerely ready to set the world on fire just to give it more brilliance," by 1978, Debord observes that it had already been perilously infected by the "fatal illness" of spectacular commodification; an illness that is this very moment "carrying off all the major cities" of boundary shatterring nation states the globe over. In part, In Girum Imus Nocte Et Consumimur Igni is a mournful, but not nostalgic, memorial for a rapidly passing urban geography of resistance to full capitalization of everything, and for the lives and the passions this historically situated geography once upon a time engendered.
In distinguishing his socially situated approach to autobiography from that of his more conventional peers, Debord cuts into his own life with the first two verses of Arisoto'sOrlando Furioso, pleading: "I, not being the same as all these, can only tell, in my turn, 'of the ladies, the knights, the arms, the loves, the conversations and the courageous deeds' of a unique epoch. Others are able to orient and measure the course of their past according to their promotion in a career, the acquisition of various kinds of goods, or, sometimes, the accumulation of scientific or aesthetic works responding to a social demand. Not having known of any determination of this sort, I merely see again, in the passage of this disorderly time, elements which actually constituted it for me - or rather the words and faces which resemble them: days and nights, towns and living people, and, at the heart of all this, an incessant war." Cut to filmic shot of a map of Europe. Cut to a photograph of Debord at age nineteen. Cut to a general map of Paris, at the end of the last century; then to a map of Cuba on the desk of U.S. Senator Jesse Helms.
For Guy Debord, capitalism is no mere economic condition. It is a state of war - an incessant and fiery attack upon even the imagined possibility of reciprocally structured relations of social equality, autonomous and justice. This attack is championed by an evermore spectacular and militarized array of media gods and goddess - those commodified stars of advanced capitalist image manipulation, whom we "contemplate through the keyhole of a smutty familiarity" and whose hegemonic function it is to seduce those they enslave within a endless labyrinth of commodified market desires. "Separated from each other by the general loss of any language adequate to describe the facts" of this war and separated, as well, by rituals of "incessant competition," the restless "whip... of conspicuous consumption," and habits fixed by "groundless envy," even those who feel themselves benefiting by this war "cannot remain in contact with anything which is not a commodity." For Debord this is what distinguishes the fiery warfare of spectacularized capital from earlier forms of exploitative conquest. "Never before has a system of tyranny maintained its familiars, its experts and its court jesters so badly. Overburdened servants of the void, the void rewards them with coinage in its own image. In other words, it is the first time that the poor have believed that they form part of an economic elite, in spite of evidence to the contrary."
But if the imperial expanse of capital signifies fiery warfare against reciprocally situated historical relations, for Debord, only an equally fiery strategy of counter-warfare might again open the future to undreamt possibilities for reciprocal social action that the "disastrous wreckage" and "ungovernable waste land" of contemporary culture always only appears to have banished forever. Thus, along with introducing its reader/viewers to the strategic and sometimes "outlaw" subversions of the Lettrists and Situationists with whom its author/filmmaker associated "without regrets," In Girumpays homage, as well, to questions of military strategy set forth by theorists, such as Clausewitz, Gracian, and Sun Tse. On screen, Custer, alone remains standing. Yellow hair to the vengeful winds of history, he throws away his empty revolvers and picks up his sabre. Like other cruel tyrants throughout the ages, he awaits the fatal judgement of those whom he would forcefully impoverish and genocide.
Guy Debord's In Girum Imis Nocte Et Consumimur Igni is a provocative scripting of an admittedly "difficult" film. It can be read with pleasure and strategic profit by persons who are cultivating critical eyes for revolting openings within history, with ears tuned to the desperate murmur of those sickened by capital in its most complexly deployed and contemporary forms. Yet, like the historically situated political and cinemagraphic interventions of Debord himself, readers will find no timeless program for critical theory and practice within this text. This will prove one of its enduring strengths. As Debord insists: "Theories are made only to die in the war of time: they are stronger or weaker units which must be engaged at the right moment in the combat and, whatever their merits or insufficiencies, one can surely only use the ones which are there in useful time. Just as theories have to be replaced because of their decisive victories, even more than their partial defeats produce wear-and-tear, similarly no living epoch started off from a theory; it was first a game, a conflict, a journey. Guy Debord's final film (and, perhaps, his life as well) ends with a sub-title: TO BE BEGUN AGAIN FROM THE BEGINNING.
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Friday, May 1, 2009

Enraged About Corporate Greed? Kidnap Your Boss By Christopher Ketcham

Enraged About Corporate Greed? Kidnap Your Boss By Christopher Ketcham, AlterNet. Posted April 30, 2009

The French have taken to bossnapping -- "sequestering" their bosses while keeping them comfortable and safe -- to protest economic unfairness.

In answer to their own economic crisis, the French have taken up "bossnapping."
Here's how it works: An executive of a company, perhaps the CEO, stands before a group of his employees, puts his hands together, sighs, and then, with regret as smooth as brie, explains the fact that downsizing is needed to meet the exigencies of economic crisis (read: the preservation of profits in downturn).
The employees get pissed off -- and bum-rush the boss. They trap him in his office, barricade the door, feed him espresso and baguette, and demand a fair deal.It's a sort of soft-touch storming of the Bastille.
And lo, it works. A few weeks back, this happened at the FM Logistics Co. in Woippy, France, as 125 workers charged into a meeting of five company managers and held the poor creatures hostage for a day. At least 475 workers at FM Logistics, which is owned by Hewlett-Packard Co., were facing the specter of "redundancy" as HP sought to move its printer packaging operations to the cheaper labor pool in Malaysia.
By midnight, the company had turned tail, promising "new proposals on redundancy talks," according to Reuters. The news service quoted one of the bossnappers: "We've had enough. We have been negotiating for a year, if you can call it negotiating, and we haven't managed to make ourselves heard."
  • At 3M's pharmaceutical factory in Pithiviers, 50 miles from Paris, workers exploded upon hearing that 110 of them were to lose jobs. They surrounded the manager and forced him into his office, where he was held hostage for 24 hours until 3M agreed to resume negotiations.
  • The president of Sony France in March was locked in his office by employees who barricaded the doors and windows with tree trunks.
  • Angry factory workers at the Caterpillar plant in Grenoble took four managers hostage on April Fool's Day.
In the last month across France, at least a dozen such incidents have been reported, with no less than five CEOs of major corporations held in what the French are calling, with typical delicate aplomb, "sequestration." In each case, the sequestered bosses have been well-fed and well-treated -- though sometimes, alas, forced to sleep on the floor.
I called my family in France -- my ex lives in Paris with our daughter -- to get the home-fire take on these outrages.
"Most people are for it," my ex told me. "Because of les inegalites" -- the inequalities of the rich doing well as the rest of the country immolates.
I e-mailed her sister-in-law, a schoolteacher, who wrote back, "These bossnappings seem to be peaceful most of the time, and I'm not so shocked. Workers are totally desperate, and I don't blame them for wanting to be heard, as long as no one is hurt." (She also noted that she personally knows a company boss in the south of France who has taken to keeping a bedroll and extra food in his office, just in case.)
A poll this month found that 45 percent of French agree with the practice of bossnapping, while only 7 percent condemned it. A second poll found that 55 percent of French believe that "radical protest" under the current circumstances was justified, while 64 percent said that bossnapping should be depenalized. And perhaps most compelling is that authorities are listening: In most cases, they are declining to prosecute the bossnappers.
It's lovely to behold all this, and even lovelier to think my daughter is growing up weaned on the grand French tradition of raising hell. The habit goes back to the revolution -- its call signs, Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite -- to the Paris commune, the resistance, the Soisante-Huitards toppling the republic.
This is a country where, two weeks ago, fishermen at the ports of Calais, Boulogne and Dunkirk amassed a flotilla of 500 boats to blockade shipping in the major northern ports (their ire directed at European Union fishing quotas issued from on high for the benefit of corporate interests backed by the EU).The government answered the blockade by handing the fishing industry $66 million in loans to ride out hard times.
In January, over a million citizens on strike took to the streets in protest of government stimulus policies that appear to favor big business and special interests over average Frenchmen (sound familiar?). The country almost literally came to a halt: Flights canceled, the Paris metro paralyzed, commuter transit dead on the rails, schools and courts and post offices shut down.
When French President Nicolas Sarkozy recently visited the small town of Chatellerault, he was met not by the typically American crowd of corralled sheep but by thousands of protesters who pelted with eggs his cordon of teargas-firing police.
There is a reason the French enjoy the best health system in the world (according to the World Health Organization), some of the best unemployment benefits, a free education system and some of the shortest work weeks and most productive worker-per-hour output among developed countries.
They make noise, they marshal in the streets, they bossnap, sometimes they set things on fire, barricade roads, demolish infrastructure (as in the recent rash of railway sabotage in France).
Sheldon Wolin, a professor emeritus of politics at Princeton University, celebrates this kind of behavior among citizens as "the disorderliness that has always been the hallmark of a vibrant democracy" -- and in talking about "democracy," lame old word that it's become, he is cleaving to its earliest meaning in politics: rule and resistance by that dangerously unwashed thing the Greeks called the demos, the people themselves.
In his troubling book, Democracy Incorporated, published last year, Wolin, who was a bomber pilot during World War II, laments that disorderliness in the U.S. has been on the wane since the 1960s, helped along by the widening reach of an anti-democratic corporate-state apparatus -- "highly managed, money-saturated elections, the lobby-infested Congress, the imperial presidency, the class-biased judicial and penal system, [and not least], the media" -- that encourages docility, depoliticization, the shrugging-off of participation.
"One of the reasons why the '60s continues to be a favorite punching bag of neocons and neoliberals," he writes in Democracy Incorporated, "is that it represented a decade of prolonged popular political education unique in recent American history. The most frequent topics were racism, foreign policy, corporate power, higher education and threats to ecology -- each in one form or another a domain of elitism."
What Wolin is saying is perhaps a hard dose of the obvious: When Americans protest -- and they're not protesting very much (on the eve of the Iraq war, the French had more people in the streets than did the whole of the citizenry of the United States) -- the system today isn't geared to listen, or, rather, is geared more handily to ignore the noise.
The goal, of course, is "to isolate democratic resistance, to insulate society from hearing dissonant voices, and to hurry the process of depoliticization," says Wolin.
Americans, it appears, are good at depoliticization, certainly no good at bossnapping.
Christopher Ketcham, a freelance writer, is working on a book about secessionism and the dismantling of the United States government. He can be reached at

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