Night Standing in France

The movement called « Night Standing » made a surprising political impact in France, and despite constant police pressure and multifaceted threats that it is subject. From Paris, where it was launched, it has spread to more than 50 cities in the country. From the protest movement against the « law El Khomri » (or reform of the labour code), it provides a form of sustainable mobilization. But it goes beyond it. It is clear that this movement is expressed immense political frustration, which is up to the betrayals of P « S » but also great hope. Beyond the numbers involved, it is a sign that something is happening. This movement is so far clearly « unorganized » and it is clearly « a-partisan » but not apolitical, and in which circulate clearly identifiable militants, is a political phenomenon that could be important in the coming months. This requires asking a number of questions.


  1. What extension for the movement?

This movement is especially notorious for its geographical expansion. This is why it is now impressive. This is the product from tens to hundreds or thousands of participants in different cities of France and not only large cities or university towns. This movement is reminiscent of the « general assemblies » of large social movements that have been known in the 1960s to the late twentieth century. It nevertheless differs in that it is built in the context of a political disaster affecting both the « Republicans » (center-right) and the P « S », the last one will never better than now deserved its real name Second party Of Trustees. But if the geographical extension of this movement is a good thing, it should not obscure the social extension problem.

The number of people who can come every night and spend part of the night is necessarily limited. The movement will have to raise the question of its extension to more disadvantaged social strata. For now these are much less present students (unemployed or not) and the middle classes. From this perspective, it is good not to rely solely on the social composition of the movement in Paris and some major cities. But the ability of this movement to make a real junction with both the popular strata and with those excluded from France large cities and living in small towns, out of the limelight, is a very condition of survival.


  1. The issue of political outcome

Beyond this social expansion arises, and still more will pose the question of the political outcome of this movement. The movement as we have said is political, but it is not a politician one. It is also born from the current impasse in which the government pretending to represent the « left » chaired by François Hollande has led France. It understands that the sinking of the so-called « left government » (and it would be better called « left power, » one that want to be friend (and even very close friend) with the business community and started to pocket public money every time that it can) is one of the engine of the movement. We guess that this same movement has nothing in common with the proposals of the various candidates in the nomination of « Republicans », ie the former UMP and its centrist satellites. The scandalous speeches of Francois Fillon, calling for applying the Noah’s cloak to tax evasion, only confirm what we can guess from speeches of Alain Juppé, former Jack of all trades (including the worst ) of the UMP and who is slowly transitioning from rigidity to mummification, a Bruno Le Maire, a Wauquiez, or a NKM …

In fact, the movement « Night Standing » is meant a double refusal of both the current policy and return to the past policy. For there is in this movement the finding, in some implicit, explicit in others, these two policies are but one. They are only the translation of the disciplinary framework imposed by the euro, but also the present European Union, France. We have a perfect example with the  » El Khomri Act « . But this observation is not enough. The movement can’t be satisfied with such a limited target. It must find real targets, both short and medium term. Examples of Italy (with the M5S of Beppe Grillo) and Spain (with PODEMOS) show that the creation of new political forces could be an outlet for this movement. But at the same time, political uncertainty over PODEMOS (or similar uncertainty parasitizing the M5S) also shows that a minimum of clarification is needed.


  1. What organizational form is necessary?

One last question had to be asked. If this movement wants to last, the issue of its structure and organization will soon arise. There is a lot to praise in the movement lack of strong leader. But the decentralized organization works, we know that, only when there is a strong homogeneity of representation among its members. Such an homogeneity can be reached through a shared ideology, or what is called a « doctrine ». Today, however, the homogeneity only exists in the rejection of the situation at hand, which is quite rightly unacceptable. There is no « doctrine » capable of ensuring homogeneity of representations, which is necessary for the real decentralization of the action. Therefore, the problem of the political outcome of the movement is quite clearly posed. It must set a clear outcome for the relatively short term if it is to maintain its ability to mobilize. But the lack of organization and structure that now characterizes, and that was enough in the initial phase of the mobilization, may be fatal in the coming weeks. Unless gradually does arise a form of much better established organization. Such is the challenge for the coming weeks.

Jacques Sapir

Ses travaux de chercheur se sont orientés dans trois dimensions, l’étude de l’économie russe et de la transition, l’analyse des crises financières et des recherches théoriques sur les institutions économiques et les interactions entre les comportements individuels. Il a poursuivi ses recherches à partir de 2000 sur les interactions entre les régimes de change, la structuration des systèmes financiers et les instabilités macroéconomiques. Depuis 2007 il s'est impliqué dans l’analyse de la crise financière actuelle, et en particulier dans la crise de la zone Euro.

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