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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: L’affaire de Tarnac: un ordre psychotique

by Jean-Claude Paye, Sociologist

The Tarnac Affair: Symptomatic of a Psychotic Social Order

Translated Friday 2 January 2009, by Henry Crapo

Reflections on the functioning of the accusation of terrorism.

On 11 November 2008, in the framework of operation Taiga [1], one hundred and fifty police encircled the small village of Tarnac, in Corrèze (south-west France). Simultaneously, evidence was seized in Rouen, Paris, Limoges, and Metz. The arrest of the young people was above all a spectacle to incite fear. Their arrest was said to be in connection with the sabotage of the lines of the SNCF [2], which caused, on November 8, delays for certain TGVs [3] on the Paris-Lille line. These malevolent acts, with several catenaries down, were characterized as terrorist, despite the fact that they never, at any moment, put any human lives in danger. The prosecution, which says it possesses several clues, recognizes that it has no material evidence or proof.

It is the character profile of the arrested youths that justifies their being held for questioning. They were arrested because « they used radical language and had relations with foreign groups », and that a number of them « participated on a regular basis in political demonstrations », for example, in « marches held in opposition to the Edvige (Exploitation documentaire et valorisation de l’information générale) file system [4] and against the reinforcement of measures against immigration. »
As for their domicile, it was described as "a meeting place, for indoctrination, a base camp for violent action."

While being accused of constituting a « hard core cell that had armed struggle as its purpose », they would rapidly be freed, some conditionally so, others confined to residence. Only the "chief" and his companion would be held in jail. On 26 December the appeal court in Paris had, at the request of the prosecution, cancelled an order that Julien Coupat [5] be released. The request for liberation of his companion had been previously refused.

The discourse of the government illustrates a kind of double displacement: first, simple acts of sabotage, such as those one might find in any social movement, are qualified as « terrorist », and these acts are attributed to the youths of Tarnac, despite the fact that the police admit to the absence of any material element of proof. The image of terrorism construed by the State creates a reality that is a substitute for the facts. The facts are not denied, but they are denied any explanatory capacity. The acts of sabotage cannot be other than the acts of persons designated as terrorists. The act of naming, prior to any procedure of objective evaluation, topples the latter, and seals it in an empty form.

The absence of material elements that would permit the pursuit of the incriminated persons is not denied, but the necessary prevalence of facts is overturned, in the interests of the primacy of the image constructed by the State. The position of the minister of the Interior, Madame Alliot-Marie, is particularly interesting: "They have adopted underground methods. They never use mobile telephones, and live in areas where it is very difficult for the police to gather information without being spotted. They have managed to have, in the village of Tarnac, friendly relations with people who can warn them of the presence of strangers." But the minister admits "There have been no traces of attacks against persons."

These declarations nicely sum up the affair. What makes these young people terrorists is their way of life, the fact that they attempt to escape the economic machine, and that they do not adopt a "pro-active" submissive attitude with respect to procedures of control. Not to have a cellular telephone is a sign proving terrorist intentions. To re-establish a social tissue is also incriminating behavior, because this practice permits the construction of a protective shield against the deployment of unrestricted power by the State.

In its declarations, the reference to acts, in the absence of any convincing material elements of proof, can not be rationally assimilated, and induces a phase of aberration, a reconstruction of reality with the image of terrorism as support.

This process is equally visible in the police reports, which utilize, from a purely semantic point of view, an entirely phantasmagorical reconstruction of reality. Thus, as material clue establishing the culpability of the accused, the police speak of « documents noting the times of passage of trains, village by village, with the times of arrival and departure from the stations ». An SNCF timetable thus becomes a particularly troubling document, and its possession necessarily implies participation in material destruction of railway equipment.

The staging of the arrests and the bringing of charges against the "autonomous youth of Tarnac" is a phenomenon that reveals a profound mutation of the symbolic order of the society.

The State has the possibility to create a new reality, a virtual reality that does not suppress, but rather supplants the facts. The weakness of the social movement, the failure of the symbolic function, explain the absence of brakes on the domination of the State, which exhibits itself as all-inclusive entity, in the guise of a maternal image.

Where a social order reveals itself to be contradictory, a psychotic structure takes its place, an order that suppresses all conflict, suppresses all possibility of confrontation with reality.


Editor’s notes:

[1TAIGA (traitement automatique de l’information géopolitique d’actualité), French spyware déveloped, as of 1987, using somewhat demoded computer technology based on semantic analysis of information intended for the DGSE Direction Générale de la Securite Exterieure (General Directorate for External Security, subordinate to the Ministry of the Defense, is responsible for military intelligence as well as for strategic information, electronic intelligence, and it is also responsible for the counterespionage outside the borders of the national territory). TAIGA technology was used by the FBI to gather information on Julien Coupat’s supposed subversive activities in the united States, whence the operations code name. EAL

[2SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français) (French National Railway Company) is a French public enterprise.

[3TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse, meaning "High-Speed Train")

[4http://bigbrotherawards.eu.org/EDVIGE-un-fichier-totalement-hors-la-loi.html.

French revolt over Edvige - Sarkozy’s Big Brother computer that will spy on citizens
President Nicolas Sarkozy faced an embarrassing split in his Cabinet today over a computer system that a new French internal intelligence service will use to spy on the private lives of millions of law-abiding citizens. Hervé Morin, the Defence Minister, broke government ranks to side with a growing revolt against Edvige, an acronym for a police database that will store personal details including opinions, the social circle and even sexual preferences of more or less anyone who interests the State. Edvige, which is also a woman’s name, was created by decree in July to store data on anyone aged 13 or above who is "likely to breach public order". "Sarkozy’s Big sister", as it has been dubbed, will also track anyone active in politics or trade unions and or in a significant role in business, the media, entertainment or social or religious institutions. Listed people will have very limited rights to consult their files…….(Times Online, 8 Sep 08)

French minister breaks ranks on spy system

French Defense Minister Herve Morin says he questions the purpose of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s new internal intelligence computer system dubbed "Edvige." Morin, a former centrist member of Parliament until he joined Sarkozy’s Cabinet, broke ranks with the president over the size and scope of Edvige. It has been set up as a security measure to collect personal data on French citizens, ranging from their circles of friends to their sexual preferences, The Times of London reported Monday. "Surely this is a strange mixing up of categories," Morin said. "Is it useful to gather data such as telephone numbers, sexual orientation and details of taxes and assets and so on without knowing exactly what is the point?"…..(UPI, 8 Sep 08).
Due to growing impopularity and controversy, the French government was forced to abrogate the measure, in September. EAL

[5Julien Coupat, 34, is a graduate of l’École Supérieure des Sciences Économiques et Commerciales (ESSEC, is one of the most prestigious business schools and grandes écoles in France. ESSEC was created by Jesuits in 1907 in Paris, next to University of Paris II: Panthéon-Assas, rue d’Assas. Its campus was relocated to Cergy-Pontoise, 30 km west of Paris Val d’Oise, in 1973) and a doctoral candidate in History and Civilization at l’Ecole des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (French for "School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences"; EHESS is a French institution for research and higher education, a Grand Établissement) until 1999, when he writing his book. He was co-author, with Benjamin Rosoux, of a néo-situationniste essay entitled L’Insurrection qui vient, published in 2007 under the pseuonym Comité invisible, by La Fabrique éditions. To this day, some 7000 copies of the book have been sold. Alternatively, it can be downloaded on the Internet, free of charge. EAL


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