On May Day, 2017, crowds of anti-racist workers and militants rallied in Paris to protest against the hard-right Presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen. Subsequent clashes with the authorities, a traditional feature of demonstrations in the French capital, produced images of riot police engulfed in flames which a notorious, if predictable, British tabloid ‘newspaper’ has called “horrifying” in an article.
Unsurprisingly, this police-cheering article failed to mention the recent murder of Liu Shaoyo or the (supposedly ‘accidental’) assault and rape of a young black man by Parisian cops earlier this year, and left out the Paris Police Department’s extreme violence during last year’s months-long uprising against a draconian labour law.
The proletarian population of Paris – the people of colour, migrant workers, poverty-stricken youth of long-neglected suburbs – see the police as their enemy. The incidents mentioned above are just some of countless proofs that their view is correct, and that the defence of “law and order”, which alone justifies the maintenance of police, is in reality nothing but the defence of the State and the class of rich, property-owning tyrants which bolsters it against the popular initiatives of the masses.
It is true that the anarchist line of fetishizing immediate, short-term violence and hitting out blindly against police and bank windows must be opposed. This is because such an approach, unaccompanied by solid, long-term and difficult organising work, cannot possibly bear fruit. However (and this must be emphasised), the placing of peaceful protest on a pedestal, the denouncing of violence against the police with greater vigour than the denouncement of the police themselves, the “shake-hands-with-cops” line of ‘moderate socialist’ posers and liberal charlatans must be opposed much more determinedly. This approach is not a neutral, respectable, peaceful approach as the ‘official’ Left would have us believe. It is, on the contrary, actively anti-socialist, anti-people and a shameless and quite disgusting signification of the collusion between moderation and respectability on the part of ‘socialists’, on the one hand, and the oppressive bourgeois State, the dictatorship of wealth, on the other.
Images of police engulfed in flames are not horrifying, they are not regrettable – they are beautiful. As a comrade said, speaking of the photographs, “there’s nothing horrifying about it. This is art”.