Call for support for the arrested of Tarnac

The following article appeared in the January 17 issue of Le Monde

Anti-terrorism is a method of governance, and has to be understood as such. The vagueness inherent in anti-terrorist laws is not the consequence of a negligence. It is their very reason to be operational. With its sharp and cut distinctions, law is partially something outdated from a pragmatic point of view regarding techniques of power. It doesn’t have the flexibility of those tools that deal with the permanent crisis, constantly bringing it back to a set of interrelated variables meant to be corrected. Neither does it have the speed and the effectiveness of a blitzkrieg.

For law to become that kind of tool or weapon, it has to offer the flexibility of the norm. Law, as a general rule, produces clear distinctions. It determines what is legal and what is illegal. The norm operates on continuities. The anti-terrorist device belongs to the historical world of the norm, not of the law. In this world polarized by anti-terrorism, there’s no clear-cut border between non-terrorists on one side, and terrorists on the other. On one hand, there is the continuous normalization of the population seen as a vast field of probabilities or risks to be globally controlled; on the other hand, punctually, forms of existence that appear as holes in the continuous weft of population. The latter being considered as terrorists and doomed to annihilation.

Today, the war on terrorism appears as a common horizon for all western democracies. That is the reason why denouncing the « mistakes » or the « failures » is never enough – it is a position that stands below the situation.

This horizon and the particular realpolitik that accompanies it are generally unquestioned. Because in principle everyone seems to agree on the risk that needs to be contained – and that this forced obviousness of an absolute enemy is enough to « justify the means » to the point where they become unquestionable. The affair of Tarnac has been one of these rare occasions where this type of intervention aroused public concern and questioning. Of course, Yldune and Julien have to be released; all counts of indictment have to be nullified. Of course, Isa, Juan and Damien – who are also imprisoned of the same accusation of « terrorism » – have to be released. It is also important that this questioning on what is never questioned happen openly and fully, that is to say durably and according to its own appropriate terms. The breach that timidly opened in that obviousness of « war on terrorism » – on which an American president warned us that it will be endless- should never close again.

Support committee for the arrested of November 11th.


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