Anarchy 89/I am a megaphone
St. Nazaire, May 18th
If you say the students are sons of bourgeois you are right. But a minority of them have made a complete break with their class. They are ready to join up with the workers. Where? In the street, where we can argue and can act. People talk about civil war. But on one side there are the workers, the peasants, the students; on the other, the bourgeois. The bourgeois will not fight in the streets. And their police are tied down in Paris. There are not enough of them to go round. The first phase of the advanced struggle we are leading must be the occupation of the factories. Then the setting up of revolutionary councils. We must find new forms of management. We must be masters of the means of production. Equality of wages—
It is not a question of attacking the trade union movement, but of creating the conditions for a workers’ democracy, where each, whatever his slogans or his banners, can have his say. I attack the leaders of the union organisations, I do not attack the ordinary union member. Unity of the labour movement will be achieved by the young. Shop by shop the young unionists must unite. Unity won’t come from the top.
Frankfurt, May 23rd
Q: How do you describe your political position?
A: Basically I am an anarchist … a <span data-html="true" class="plainlinks" title="Wikipedia: Marxist-
A: Let them write their rubbish. These people will never be able to understand that the student movement doesn’t need any chiefs. I am neither a leader nor a professional revolutionary. I am simply a mouthpiece, a megaphone.
Q: What is the reason for your expulsion from France?
A: I don’t begin to understand why de Gaulle had me expelled. Can he really be so stupid?
Q: You talk as if you have a personal hatred for General de Gaulle. …
A: It is a tactic, naturally. Above all to defend myself against the accusations of the Party, which wants to pass me off as an <span data-html="true" class="plainlinks" title="Wikipedia: agent-
Q: Would you support a Popular Front?
A: A Popular Front at the moment would be an extremely positive step in clarifying the situation: the masses would end up by understanding better the nature of the trade-
Q: Isn’t that a little bit of an over-
A: Not at all. Look, there are two extreme possibilities: on the one hand the victory of a fascist-
Q: But is it possible to have a French revolution in a vacuum?
A: No. The revolution in one country is certainly not feasible. Also from an economic point of view. An economic crisis, caused for example by social conflict, cannot remain isolated in one country. Or a financial crisis, a dollar crisis, transcends as you know, all countries. The system is international. However we have to begin by undermining each particular part of it, and in Paris that’s what we have begun. In Paris the situation could truly be described as pre-
|View from the East
Daniel Cohn-Bendit and his allies are werewolves splitting the progressive movement against capitalism.
Q: What is the role of the Communist Party in all this?A: The Party is one of the two power-
Q: Consequently a Popular Front would detach the masses from the party?
A: Yes, that’s more or less the idea, but don’t forget that in reality the whole thing is very much more complex. The existence of the Party is an objective reality, one can’t decide from one day to another to eliminate it. It is thanks to the Party and the CGT that the concept of the class-
Q: But the workers haven’t let you enter the factories.
A: It’s not true. The functionaries of the Party have only partially succeeded in closing the factory gates on us. They have had to do this so as not to lose their position of power, but this has cost them and is going to cost them a great deal.
Q: Do you think of the student movement as a new International?
A: At the moment there are individual contacts and group contacts on an international level, but it is not yet possible to speak of common action. Action is born from below, from the actual situation. It’s just the same as in the struggle against capitalism.
Q: Are you thinking, then, of intensifying contact?
A: Certainly, but that is not the central problem. Co-
Q: What do you think will be the organisational form of the new revolutionary movement?
A: It isn’t yet possible to say. … We are creating groups at the bottom: workers and students who collaborate for local action. But I don’t think it’s possible to be more precise than this.
Q: Perhaps they are already the Bolsheviks of the new revolution, perhaps they have already decided to institute the dictatorship of the proletariat?
A: No, not the dictatorship of the proletariat. We are against all authority.
London, June 12th
Q: What exactly do you stand for? Are you a communist?
A: I am supporting those who form workers’ councils, for self-
Q: Danny, you are regarded as the leader of the student movement in France …
A: Excuse me, I will never lead anything. I will never tell people what to do. What they want to do they will do, and what they don’t want to do they won’t.
Q: It has been reported that you said you want to seek political asylum in this country.
A: It’s true I said this. It is a matter of political finesse. I said before that in France there is a pre-
Q: De Gaulle was a Frenchman. Now Danny, you are not a Frenchman …
A: I do not want to compare myself with de Gaulle, you understand. With the young people it does not matter if you are a Frenchman or a German. We don’t bother about borders. I was born in France and I lived there, and I consider myself in this sense a Frenchman. This is how young people think. It is important to me that sixty to seventy thousand people all shouted “We are all German Jews”.
Q: But Danny, I may be thick, but I still don’t understand what sort of government you want.
A: We want a workers’, peasants’, and students’ self-
|View from the West
In the deadly game of rouge et noir that is being played on French streets and in French factories there is more black than red, and but little consideration for the Tricolor.
A: The students are supporting the working-
Q: What is your reaction to the way you have been received in England?
A: Well, not astonished. It seems that all the governments want to show that we are right in saying that we live in a repressive society. I arrive in England and they don’t want to let me in. Two years ago I came here and nobody said a word. Strange. I don’t have to ask Mr. Wilson and his Home Office if I want to see some people in England …
Q: You wouldn’t want to give the students here some advice on how to make a revolution?
A: You don’t export revolution. No, you don’t export protestation against society. You can explain what has been done in France, but it’s not adivce, you only explain it. You can exchange information about how to play soccer, but you don’t export soccer games.
Q: It was said in the House of Lords that you had the intention of using force to carry out plans in this country.
A: A lot of people know more than I know. It’s very interesting how all sorts of people know what I’m doing and organising. I must really be better than Batman or Superman, just travelling around and organising world revolution. I think it’s because people are afraid because of the situation in England. And then they are afraid that a little thing can explode because people are not happy in this country. Perhaps this is the problem.
London, June 13th (BBC TV)
Q: I would like to ask the question: what is the complaint about existing society, why must it be transformed?
A: We criticise all societies where people are passive, which means that they don’t actively change what they do, for example where they work or where they live. This is what we want to change. Democracy in every society stops at the work-
Q: You wouldn’t deny that in fact, after the first outburst of student-
A: It’s not true. I think that you should go and have a look at the Renault factory. I’ll give you an example. I went to the Flins works with some comrades of the 22nd March Movement and we wanted to talk. The CGT said, “Oh well now, you don’t talk”, and the workers said, “Let them talk. We want to hear what they have to say.” I think that the most important thing, as we have seen in France, is that university students can be an example at one moment, but they cannot make the change alone. If the working class are not going to change the factories themselves, then there won’t be a change in society. I think this is the problem you have in Germany: how to get the connection with all the working class. This is the problem.
Q: Now I want to bring you to the question of method and goals. How far would it be fair to say that students in the activist movement really, in a sense, seek confrontation? That they seek thereby to reveal the realities of power in the hands of the state by seeking confrontation and hoping thereby to radicalise the student movement by seeing the reaction? Is that fair? I read my Marcuse too. Some of the leaders claim that there is an advantage in revealing. … (Cries of “Which leaders?”) Oh, I can quote you many …
A: Which leaders? I want to know this because I have read in English papers two things. First that we in France want to clash with the police, and secondly that a mob is fighting the police. We have now in France three dead, and I think that two are workers and one is a young lycée student. Now I think that to call them a mob is absolutely inhuman. I don’t know which side is the mob, if the mob are the people who used the gases used in Vietnam, or if the mob are the people who want to demonstrate to show how many they are. If you don’t let us demonstrate, then we are a mob, just because we are defending ourselves. Never at any time have we said that we want a clash …
“At the LSE he analysed succinctly the lessons of the French revolt: how their actions had outrun their theory and they had been caught up in a vicious circle, constantly tempted out into the streets without time to think what to do; how they should have set about actually running their university with their own lecturers; how the factories controlled by workers should have gone on making things (as they are now doing in a factory in Brest, making transistors and walkie-
“French experience, he added, showed that a general strike in 1968 needed to be much more skilfully organised. It was a mistake to include petrol supplies because this had enabled de Gaulle to say: ‘After I spoke, you had petrol.’ He strongly implied that the workers should have used their occupation of factories to continue production.
“He bitterly criticised the bureaucratic structure of the French Communist Party which had sold out the revolutionary order—
Daniel cohn-bendit said: Power corrupts. I think I’m corrupted. It’s time I left my position and disappeared back down into the movement. He went on: If you lead people they place faith in you. This corrupts. If you say or do something good then people will lean on you and say, “He’s okay—
The problem everywhere is how to get an industrial society to a technological society. This gap is difficult. There are two possibilities: the technocratic answer or the revolutionary answer. The revolutionary answer is to give another social structure to society. It does not mean the tearing down of everything.