French soldiers embedded with Paris police will be allowed to 'open fire' if lives are threatened by Yellow Vest rioters this weekend, reports the Daily Mail, citing the military governor of Paris.
"They are perfectly capable of appreciating the nature of the threat and answering it in a proportionate manner," said General Bruno Leray in a Friday interview with Franceinfo Radio. "If their life or that of the people they defend is threatened, they can go up to opening fire."
As we reported Wednesday, French authorities announced following the worsening protest situation of the past weekend (after a brief lull at the end of President Macron's failed 'great debate' initiative which pushed town halls to air grievances), which nearly turned deadly for random civilians caught in the mayhem of rioters clashing with police.
Violence is a spectacular weapon deployed by the ruling class to discredit movements from below and justify their repression. It is spectacular in the sense of being a great and powerful political tool for governing the masses, and keeping them in their place. In order to do this, however, the weapon of violence is spectacularin a second sense: it creates a carefully orchestrated mise en scène that seeks to render ruling class violence invisible, while simultaneously transforming acts of resistance into prodigious spectacles of criminal violence.
This is how Act 18 of the Yellow Vests is currently being presented by the mass media: at the precise moment at which the government was concluding its democratic consultation of the people via Emmanuel Macron’s “Grand Débat,” the Yellow Vests have unleashed an inordinate amount of violence that now needs to be repressed in the strongest possible terms.
The president of the Champs-Elysées Committee, Jean-Noël Reinhardt, declared in an interview in which he is surrounded by the microphones of many of the major press outlets, that the movement is no longer one of the Yellow Vests, but rather of Black Vests that simply “express hatred and the will to destroy.” Proclaiming that this situation cannot be allowed to continue because of its impact on commercial and tourist activity, as well as its defamation of the global symbol of the Champs-Élysées, his statement bleeds seamlessly into the declaration made by the Prime Minster, Édouard Philippe: new measures will be put in place to prohibit protests in certain locations and allow for even more aggressive police crackdowns.
After a few paltry concessions in December, as well as the discursive theatrics of the “Grand Débat,” the Yellow Vests have not gone home and have survived both the winter and the extreme forms of repressive state violence unleashed against them.
...the spectacle of violence orchestrated by the state and mass media functions in order to attach the scarlet letter of V for Violence to the Yellow Vest movement in order to simultaneously criminalize it and justify its brutal repression.
Elite circles in France have not been completely successful in this aspect of their propaganda campaign, because even liberal institutions like the United Nations, the European Council, the European Parliamentand Amnesty International have seen through their attempt to render state violence invisible, or at the very least justified.
“According to figures from the Ministry of the Interior 12 122 LBD rounds, 1 428 instant tear gas grenades and 4 942 hand-held sting grenades were fired or thrown between the beginning of the yellow vest movement and 4 February 2019.” Based on the calculations of an independent journalist cited in the report, there have been “38 wounds to upper limbs including 5 lost hands, 52 wounds to lower limbs, 3 wounds to the genitals and 189 head wounds including 20 people who have lost an eye.” Medics and journalists have been regularly attacked, and there have been numerous brutal assaults and a record number of protestors locked up.
Nevertheless, significant sectors of the state, the mass media and the punditocracy have gone to great lengths to cloak this systematic deployment of state violence against non-violent protestors, medics, journalists and bystanders.
Emmanuel Macron has distilled the very essence of liberal ideology regarding the state by flatly proclaimingthat we cannot speak of “repression” or of “police violence” in France today because “these words are unacceptable under the rule of law [dans un état de droit].” Strictly speaking, then, there can be no such thing as “state violence” because the state stands in opposition to violence, and the latter can only come from savage and anarchic forces outside it.
Here we see the double movement of spectacular violence in full force. On the one hand, the state strives to dissimulate its spectacular exploitation through capitalist rule and its equally spectacular repression of any resistance to it. On the other hand, it seeks to incite or create spectacular “violence” in the protests in order to simultaneously discredit them and use this spectacle as cover for its own increased exploitation and repression. These are the two primary aspects of the spectacular violence unfolding in France right now.