Nuit Debout Paris © Nicolas Vigier |Flickr
DemocracyEssaysFeatureThe Left

Paris Spring? Social Media And The Spread Of European Solidarity Protests

June marks the fifth month of Nuit Debout (Standing Night) a movement that sprung from earlier protests by young people against the French government’s labor law reform. On March 31, 2016, an informal group of a dozen citizens from Fakir, a left-wing activist magazine, used the #mars40 Twitter hashtag to launch a public demonstration in and subsequent occupation of Place de la République in Paris. Since its debut, a crowd has gathered every evening on the square. Participants and activists come together to share their discontents, proposals, and ideals for a new society. Nuit Debout has now become an international movement, with gatherings in more than 266 cities in France and 130 other cities in Europe.

Focusing on this movement, our aim here is twofold: first, …

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Marchers in support of Charlie Hebdo rally in Paris wearing posters saying "I am Charlie" and "We are Charlie," January 11, 2015 © Passion Leica | Flickr
EssaysRaceThe Left

Charlie Hebdo and the Appeal for French Context

White & Black Analytics

The attacks on the offices of the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in January 2015, during which fourteen people were killed, pose a specific problem for the white left. The call to contextualize Charlie Hebdo foregrounded a structurally white French context, in which people of colour and Muslims could be included only as loyal subjects of the Republic. The translations of France offered by French and Francophile leftists for their “Anglo-American” interlocutors, while revealing of the French dynamics of secularism, universalism, and coloniality, marginalised those “who could not be Charlie.” Instead, to use Barnor Hesse’s formulation, a “white analytics” was advanced that denied the centrality of the “black analytics” crucial for a complete understanding of both historical and contemporary French conflicts around race and religion (Hesse 2014). “Context,” therefore, stand in for racial neutrality: in reality, an impossibility. …

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"Masquerade" by Aubrey Beardsley (1872 - 1898) © Public Domain |masterpieceart.net/aubrey-beardsley
DemocracyEssaysMedia & Publics

We Say No to the “Sacred Union”

In the aftermath of the killings at Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher, critical voices have largely been drowned in the general sea of undifferentiated outrage. But this statement by French colleagues, which recently appeared in Le Monde, is a major intervention and a welcome exception.

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Poster honoring Bernard Maris plastered on a wall in Paris during the Solidarity March in Paris, Jan. 11, 2015.
CapitalismDemocracyEssays

A Tribute to Economist Bernard Maris (Sept. 23, 1946 – Jan. 7, 2015)

I was shocked to learn that Bernard Maris had been murdered at a meeting of the editors of Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 2015. He died at his desk, killed by the fanaticism that he regularly denounced.

Bernard Maris was an economist and a member of the governing board of the Bank of France, professor at the Institute of European studies of the University of Paris-VIII, a former University of Iowa professor, and journalist for the publication Charlie Hebdo, where he wrote a weekly column, under the pseudonym of “Uncle Bernard” — a column in which he explained the mysteries of finance. In a profile of victims published Wednesday evening, the Los Angeles Times reported Bernard Maris was a “noted Keynesian…

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Scene from the January 11, 2015 demonstration in Paris © Kelly Kline | Flickr
DemocracyEssaysRace

A Postcard from France: A Canadian in Avignon

To provide some context for what follows: I live in France, in the small southern city of Avignon. My wife, Audrey, is French, but I’m not. I, like so many others here, am “an immigrant.” Recent events have made the last few days emotionally and intellectually complex. I’ve been, at times, angry, exhausted, bewildered, and blasé. 

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Quartz crystal © Macroscopic Solutions | Flickr
CapitalismEssaysThe Left

Seven Steps toward Enlightenment: The Case of the French Killings

When a crystal breaks, it breaks along lines of pre-existing weakness. Thus traumatic assaults, like the one in Paris, can serve as X-rays into the body politic that endures them. Certainly, the US invasion of Iraq, a response to 9/11, serves as a paradigm case of how a terroristic attack can provoke the blind aggressivity otherwise obscured and disguised in the self-professed guarantor of world peace. By examining the range of responses to the massacre at Hebdo, we can learn something more about ourselves, and perhaps correct our mistaken stance. In my view there are seven levels of response to these attacks, each a mixture of ideology and truth, progressing closer and closer to something comprehensive and just, albeit also elegiac and incomplete. …

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