Why We Will No Longer Respect the Judicial Restraints Placed Upon Us

Translation of statement that appeared in “Le Monde,” 3 December 2009.

The arrest of Christophe on 27 November [2009] marks a [new] stage in the mad governmental fit that one has modestly called “the Tarnac Affair.” His arrest situates the point at which this procedure only proceeds so as to save itself: they have indicted one more person in the sole hope of maintaining the others.

As part of the “first circle,” Christophe belongs to the small group of people with whom we discuss our defense. The judicial controls that would like, from now on, to prevent him from seeing us is one aberration too many. It is also a conscious attempt to disorganize the defense. At this point, when all notions of what is lawful are twisted, who could still demand that we continue to respect these judicial controls and this demented procedure? Absurd. There is no need to see yourself as above the law to ascertain that the law is beneath everyone. Besides, a society that maintains itself by means that are so obviously criminal has no business bringing charges against anyone.

Freedom under judicial control is the name for a sort of mystical experience that anyone can have. Imagine that you have the right to see whomever you like, except for those whom you love; that you can live anywhere except your home; that you can speak freely on the telephone or in the presence of unknown people, but that anything you say can, one day or another, be used against you. Imagine that you can do whatever you like, except for what you hold dear. A handleless knife from which one removes the blade more resembles a knife than freedom under judicial control resembles freedom.

You are walking on the street with three friends. According to the cops who follow you, “the four subjects headed in the direction of . . .” After months of being separated, you re-unite with someone who is dear to you. In judicial jargon, this is a “fraudulent consultation.” If you do not renounce the loyalty supposed by friendship, even when facing adversity, you are obviously part of a “criminal association.”

The police and their justice have no match when it comes to distorting what falls into their view. Perhaps, finally, they will only render monstrous that which, lovable or detestable, is easily understood.

If it is enough to not recognize oneself in the existing political organizations to be “autonomous,” then one must admit that we, the autonomous, are the majority in this country. If it is enough to see union leaders as sworn traitors to the working class to be “ultra-Left,” then the base of the CNT is currently composed of a series of dangerous ultra-Left cells.

We are deserting. We will no longer check in [with our supervisors] and we think it will be good to see each other again, as we have already done to write this very text. We do not seek to hide ourselves. Quite simply, we are deserting Judge Fragnoli and the hundred small rumors, the thousand miserable harsh remarks, that he makes about us to this or that journalist. We are deserting the kind of private war in which the Anti-Terrorist Squad would like to engage us by following us, “sonorizing” our apartments,[1] spying on our conversations, going through our garbage and recording everything that we might say to our families during our visits in prison with them.

If they are fascinated with us, we are not fascinated with them — whom our children, not without humor, now call the “thieves of toothbrushes,” because every time they aim their 9mm guns at us, they swipe all the toothbrushes for their precious DNA experts. They need us to justify their existence and their reputation, but we don’t need them. They must constitute us, through all kinds of surveillance and administrative procedures, as a paranoid grouping, we who who aspire to dissolve ourselves in a mass movement that, among many other things, will dissolve them, as well.

What we desert above all is the role of Public Enemy, that is to say, the role of [sacrificial] victim, which they have wanted us to play. And, if we desert, it is to take up the struggle again. In very similar circumstances, George Guingouin once said, “Instead of tracked prey, one must feel like a combatant” (Communist Resistor).

Everywhere in the social machine, this [desertion] explodes with a rumble and sometimes this rumble is so low it takes the form of a suicide. There isn’t a sector of this machine that has been spared from this type of explosion: agriculture, energy, transportation, high-school education, communications, research, college education, the hospitals, psychiatry. And each of these cracks add nothing, alas, if not a surplus of depression and vital cynicism — things that are quite valuable, in the final analysis.

Like the greatest number of people today, we are torn apart by the paradox of the situation: on the one hand, we cannot continue to live like this nor let the world, led by an oligarchy of imbeciles, run to its doom; on the other hand, any perspective more desirable than the current disaster, any idea of the practical route by which we might escape this disaster, has been stolen. And no one revolts without having the perspective of a better life, except for several sympathetically desperate souls.

This era doesn’t lack wealth; it is plagued by shortness of breath. “We must have time, we must have [more] time — intrigues of long duration.”[2] One of the principal effects of what one calls “repression” is to take time away from us (same with salaried work). Not only by materially taking time away from us — time passed in prison, time passed trying to get those in prison released — but also and foremost by imposing its own rhythm. The existence of those who stand up to the repression, for themselves and for their entourage, becomes perpetually obsessed with immediate developments. Everything leads to the short-term and what’s new. All duration breaks up. The judicial controls are of this nature; they have these kinds of effects. This is also good.

What has happened to us was not centrally intended to neutralize us as a group, but to create an impression among the greatest number of people, notably among those (and they are many) who no longer manage to hide the ill-will they have for the world such as it is. They haven’t neutralized us. Even better, they have neutralized nothing at all by using us in this way.

And nothing can prevent us from taking up our task once again, this time more widely, no doubt, than before: to re-elaborate a perspective that is capable of removing from us the state of collective impotence that strikes us all. Not exactly a political perspective; not a program; but [an analysis of] the technical and material possibilities of a practical route towards other connections with the world and other social connections, and this by being ready for the existing constraints, the actual organization of this society, its subjectivities as well as its infrastructures.

Because it is only through a keen knowledge of the obstacles to the upheaval that we will manage to clear the horizon. This will be a long-term task, and it doesn’t make any sense for us to pursue it alone. This is an invitation.


Aria, Benjamin, Bertrand, Christophe, Elsa, Gabrielle, Julien, Manon, Mathieu and Yildune are the 10 people who have been indicted in the so-called “Tarnac Affair.”[3]

[1] Translator’s note: that is to say, by bugging their apartments with eavesdropping devices.

[2] Translator’s note: I have placed this sentence in quotes, as if it were spoken by “this era.”

[3] Translator’s note: in response to the publication of this statement, the District Attorney’s Office in Paris “asked the judges involved to verify the conditions of the development of these judicial controls” (a representative of the office, quoted in Le Monde, 4 December 2009). “If these obligations were not respected, the District Attorney will draw all the [proper] conclusions.” Those who disobey judicial control risk being returned to prison.

(Published in Le Monde on 3 December 2009. Translated from the French on 4 December 2009.)

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