“Praise of the riot”, praised for its “emancipatory power”


Book. From the first lines of Riot Praise, no more doubt: it is in the first degree that the title of the work must be taken. Praise, by rank of appearance,…

“Praise of the riot”, praised for its “emancipatory power”

“Praise of the riot”, praised for its “emancipatory power”

Book. From the first lines ofRiot Praise, no more doubt: it is in the first degree that the title of the work must be taken. Praise, by rank of appearance, is primarily aesthetic. Refraining from giving in to insurrectional romanticism, the author nevertheless declines, as a connoisseur, the range of sensations and emotions that the “riot theater”with its crashes, detonations, mists “holes in the lights of traffic lights and flashing lights” and, for opponents of order, “the inspiring feeling of an absolute community” where life intensifies, on a footing of fusional equality “within one big body”.

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Jacques Deschamps, who was not originally a black bloc but taught philosophy in high school and then at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Lyon, postulates that the riot carries with it a “emancipatory power”. The riot, precisely. Because, in his analysis, to grasp the spirit of this “last resort” rebels claim to“to postpone all value judgments” in terms of good and bad. So chased out the door as “particular form of narrative aimed at concealing the savage reality of power relations”the moral nonetheless comes back out the window, through the observation shared by the author of “absolute indignity” with which the poor are treated. Through, also, the fact of implying, without insisting on it, that his definition of the riot can encomp certain non-violent forms.

As for power relations, they are presented, according to a pattern of thought dear to the radical left, without establishing a hierarchy or a break between forms or degrees of intensity: the violence of “dominated”when it breaks out, is in essence legitimate, merely responding to that, open or secretly institutional, imposed by the “dominant”who, from one era to another, lead an interminable civil war for their own benefit.

“The Commodification of Everything”

The author connects today’s uprisings (“yellow vests” often cited as an example, or ecological mobilizations) to the different historical forms of resistance to oppression. However, he does not present the riot as part of a political project under construction, but rather as an engagement by which the rioter ” slows down “ the pretensions of power and regains its full humanity by escaping the demands of submission.

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While “the survival of the species is threatened by the commodification of everything”a shortcut whose veracity will not be disputed, only minds closed to any revolt will be surprised that an intellectual makes himself the champion of a quasi-mystique of confrontation, ociating riot with love, with the party, to beauty, and more broadly to the higher goals of existence.

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