In the tiny village of Tarnac, located on a mountain plateau in central France, nine culturejammers have been arrested for leading a revolutionary blackspot lifestyle: they lived frugally, fostered community and shunned capitalism. Their existence has been deemed a threat worthy of a police raid, terrorism charges and arrest.
The Guardian UK explains that the "alleged ringleader, Julien Coupat, 34, is still being held in prison despite a judge's ruling that he be released. A former business and sociology student from an affluent Parisian suburb, Coupat moved to Tarnac in search of a non-consumerist lifestyle, saying he wanted to live frugally. The poor village of 350 people is home to a growing number of young people who have escaped the city for a simple life and sense of community. Together, the newcomers ran the shop, a mobile delivery service, the restaurant, a cinema club and an informal library."
How could nine people be a threat to the State of France and the whole of capitalism? Simple: they demonstrated through their daily actions that an anti-capitalist lifestyle is both possible and desireable. They fostered community and tried to work on changing the world from the local level. And their actions have already convinced their neighbors that a better world is possible.
The ordinary villagers of Tarnac are now raising their voices in defense of their unjustly arrested neighbors. A mayor of a nearby village had this to say about the culturejammers: "They were my neighbours, helping me on the farm and selling my meat at the shop. They were kind, intelligent and spoke several languages. They were politicised, on the left and clearly anti-capitalist like lots of people here, but they were people active in community life who wanted to change society at a local level first. To say that they were the descendants of Baader-Meinhof or the Red Brigades with no proof, I'm completely against that." And another villager says, "I see them at the shop every day of the year, I help them with their drains, they help me. They are people who came to Corrèze to change their lives, to help people. We don't view them as terrorists here."
The example set by the arrested Tarnac residents is inspiring others to speak out against State repression of anti-capitalist attempts at building alternative communities. For example, the famed Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben has recently spoke out in support of the so-called Tarnac 9. He writes, "We must have the courage to say with clarity that today, numerous European countries (in particular France and Italy), have introduced laws and police measures that we would previously have judged barbaric and anti-democratic, and that these are no less extreme than those put into effect in Italy under fascism."
Before his arrest Julien Coupat allegedly wrote, "The Coming Insurrection", a text that may become a key manifesto of our generation's uprising. Take a look at this document and then share your thoughts here. How do you think we should overcome State repression? Will our attempts at creating new ways of being always be thwarted?
Micah M. White is a Contributing Editor at Adbusters Magazine and an independent activist. Micah is currently writing a book of philosophical meanderings into the future of activism. He lives in Binghamton, NY with his wife and two cats. www.micahmwhite.com