by Denis Godard
The movement of occupation of squares in France is [over] two weeks old.  Its evolution is difficult to predict, because it is open to many unforeseen events, even though its roots are deep.
At this point in time, there is no way of knowing whether the emblematic occupation of the Place de la République in Paris will really be able to continue, nor in what form it might do so.
It is characteristic of movements which contest the dominant order not to have a linear trajectory. On the one hand because even the steps forward that they take confront them with new challenges, new goals, new questions. After two weeks of occupation the movement is thus faced with questions of strategy concerning its attitude to repression, its relationship with movements in struggle, the need for its extension…
On the other hand, because the first effect of surprise has passed, the dominant order is reorganizing. So the government is openly seeking to take back possession of the Place de la République. All the mainstream parties, from the Socialist Party (PS) to the National Front (FN) now demand that the police clear the square.
But the unforeseen is also the result of much deeper reasons, related to the government crisis and the nature of this movement, of which Nuit Debout (“Stay up all night”) is one of the forms of expression that are developing widely outside traditional frameworks.
A movement that does not come from nowhere
Nuit Debout is the result of several dynamics: widespread anger, the more or less subterranean development of different struggles, the emergence of a general struggle against an anti-social law (the El Khomri law, from the name of the Minister of Labour, also called the “labour law “) and the initiative to occupy the Place de la République on the evening of March 31, taken outside traditional frameworks.
To understand this is not to act as an archivist of the movement. It enables us to anticipate the depth of the movement and its capacity to react, and it gives us some idea of how it will develop in the future.
The widespread anger against the (more…)