[There are moments when it seems that anything could open up, that all possibilities are in play. These are the moments we need to cease in order to realize our rebellious dreams. There are no guarantees in these moments, only possibilities. The following article was written in the midst of one such moment that occurred several years ago in France, when striking truck-drivers blockaded several major cities. If the events, in fact, did not succeed in moving toward generalized revolt, the possibility, nonetheless, was there, and this article expresses a useful way for examining such events. —editor]
It is not just a matter of proportions. We always appear so very little in the face of this world that overwhelms us and that not only seems incomprehensible – with its endless and intricate network of relationships and dependencies between endless causes and effects – but also unassailable.
Yes, of course, we’d like to turn this world upside down, we’d like to destroy these relationships, but we don’t know where to begin; everything seems useless to us, all our destructive fury seems to be reduced to an almost inoffensive tickle against an impassive giant. Our hearts are stirred to revolt, but how many times have we run up against the supposed immutability of the giant that oppresses us? The pot is boiling, we think; but we don’t know how to lift its lid, this blessed pot, we don’t understand is rhyme or reason. And even if the urgency of things always goads us into action, it doesn’t seem to us that this manages to prime the mechanism that could put the existent into a hard spot. Our continue clashes with the world don’t succeed in reproducing themselves, rousing the passions, the wild and collective feasts, the revolutions that we desire. And yet, as we know, the giant is neither so big nor so passive as we imagine it to be. The feast is always right around the corner, because if the paths of domination are infinite, so are the paths of revolt: the giant that we have in our heads is really a network of relations, enormous indeed, but quite concrete, and these relations use determined channels, determined paths. And these paths could, indeed, be blocked, priming, in time, unpredictable mechanisms.
Such an eventuality has been bringing difficult moments to life for the French for several weeks. Truck drivers – those wage-laborers who drive back and forth across France and Europe, transporting commodities for the profit of capital – are on strike. Not only are all these goods not being bought and sold, with all the consequent problems for French cities and the economy; in fact, by strike, the French truck drivers did not just mean a mere abstention from work. No, they park their semis at the entrances of cities, on the expressways and block traffic; or they surround refineries in order to prevent the resupplying of fuel.
Bordeaux is already completely blocked, like a consistent number of the cities of the west and the southeast, and in Paris, the siege is starting. Think, what can a blockade of this sort arouse: already, just a few short days after the start of the protest, a few factories are noticeably slowing down production. Without raw materials, industry can’t work since its products are not transported and sold. And along with the factories, offices and ministries are shaken.
What can happen in a blockaded city? Everything and nothing, it’s a question of time. Cities are built around work and its time. The time of the city is scanned from the hands of a clock, the ticking of which rules our lives branding our days with fire. The office, the family, Sundays, evenings, survival doesn’t survive without the ticking of the clocks.
However, in a blockaded city, time might not have any more need for clock faces and hands. It is released from work; it can expand and contract improbably even to the point of vanishing.
This might be dangerous for the giant. You will see that, without time, strange ideas enter people’s minds, strange vices are born that unleash unpredictable mechanisms – to such an extent that the they displace the narrow limits of demands, beyond which it no longer matters what the truck drivers wanted to negotiate, whether wages, pensions or work hours, because what is at stake is something else entirely, something for everyone.
Or else nothing could happen in a blockaded city. It could be a huge, very sad Sunday.
The pot boils and the giant is never too big for us; it cannot even sleep peacefully. Its arteries – that are roads, electric wires and computer networks – are exposed and can be cut, generating an infinite and unpredictable series of possibilities. —Il Panda