The Zad or Zone A Défendre (Zone to defend) is a large protest site in rural wetland outside the French city of Nantes. The site is the location chosen by French Company Vinci on which to build a second airport for the city. The airports building would mean the loss of many miles of grassy wetland, and displace hundreds of residents and local farmers. [TW police brutality\graphic detail] So it just kicked of again in the ZAD, heres a first hand account of what happened. It’s a bit long and probably has grammatical errors.. My ZAD experience this time has been completely different juxtaposed to last years adventure. Hitching from Nantes to La ZAD this time a year ago no one new about the anti-arport occupation where as this year everybody was talking about it [after the evictions in November the ZAD was national front page news]. I had to get dropped off slightly outside the zone because the police had set up a check point on the road. After spending too long walking over fields with all my tools and backpack. I finally got onto the D281, the whole road is in the control of the ZAD residents. At first I passed a few stacks of branches blocking parts of the road, I thought it was pretty cute. Then every 10-50 meters would be a new barricade usually bigger than the last until I was see huge piles of tires, haystacks and other burnables with spikey shit jutting out of it and painted messages all over the road, trenches dug deep through the tarmac and stone until they hit water, projectiles lying in wait everywhere! There is an air of militancy around the ZAD that wasn’t there before, this is a real reinvention the meaning of “barricaded up to fuck”. Yet despite this need for defenses there is still a lot of really cool projects going on. There is still the ZADs own bakery, farm, bike workshops, libraries, pirate radio, bars, internet cafe/comms van and probably loads more that I haven’t stumble across yet. I was anxious about coming because I’ve had reports of the ZAD [at the moment] being hard for people turning up who don’t already know people on la ZAD especially if [English is not your 1st language]. This is a bit true but I think if you have a little self confidence and an initiative to get up and do stuff you’ll be alright. The weekend just saw an event called “Seme Ta ZAD” inviting the public to come for a day of demonstration and various gardening events. Tonnes of people of all ages and backgrounds rocked up and the event was really successful. During the weekend the cops left their usual permanent check point on the D81 road. ZADians and their supporters wasted no time reclaiming the road with barricades and trenches dug out with pick axes. Monday morning I woke before Sunrise and cycled the several kms to the freshly liberated road. People were already standing around, some masked up, watching figures on the opposite hill. At 1st I was unaware what was unfolding. It later transpired that people were harassing the cops before the could have their pre-raid breakfast. The cops aimlessly chased the figures around the field a bit firring tear gas and concussion grenades. Then the avant garde came running back and thats when things kicked the fuck off. The cops rocked up in vans in front of the 1st barricade and ran into the adjacent woods and field trying to flank and rush us. Bricks, bottles and the first molotov came out. In the confusion or out of stupidness a unit of the filth rushed into the middle of crowd [now aprrox 30 and growing rapidly]. Two hero cops jumped a combatant and all 3 ended up in a large ditch on the side of the road. Then the next thing I know our friend has made it out of the ditch and the cops are getting beaten hard by their own battons! A cop across the road is also getting a kick in. The rest of their “courageous” unit have bricked it returned to the safety of the woods. The two manage to stubble out of the ditch and as they ran off one gets hit with a molotov and is a burning cop. The crowd cheer. Moments later the cops move in with force carpeting the road in tear gas fired out of launchers. The stormtroopers dressed head to toe in armor and gas masks make a slow advance under a hail of stones, fireworks and flares. More and more gas is fired, a lot ending up in puddles in the ditches, a lot getting thrown straight back [careful that shit burns even with gloves]! In a filed by the cross roads I see a person no less than 5 meters have a stun grenade blow up in his face ripping it open. Luckily there where medics to hand including a doctor, none the less this guy needed hospital treatment his eyebrow was hanging off [an ambulance was quick to respond]. The tear gas isn’t too bad if you just catch the periphery but it’s nasty shit when your in a cloud of thick white smoke coughing up a lung getting rushed by pigs. I had to change masks several times due to them getting contaminated. People were carrying round saline solution to flush the eyes. The concussion grenades are a different kettle of fish. They are essentially a less lethal frag grenade without the outer casing. They still fire off nasty bits of shrapnel that cut people open and when goes off you know about the bang for miles around, not fun for standing next to! Apparently a ZAD resident lost some toes in the evictions due to one of these bastards. After the filth had taken back the cross roads with now hundreds of police they continued their advance into the Grand Forrest and down some other roads. Barricades where set alight and the cops halted at just after midday. There where 3 injurys on our side 3 on theirs and 4 arrests. The ZAD has issued a press release stating the the invasion of the cross roads by the police is an act of military occupation. Demonstrations took place outside police stations in over 10 cities across France including the blockading of one with a tractor. Also I believe there was an occupation of a police station. Things are a lot calmer on the ground now. Although the cross roads is to be avoided as the cops are controlling people and arresting them if they do not show ID. More to follow…
Thoughts on Christmas, and the Battle Between Materialism and Anti Materialism within Consumption Culture.
The circus has once again come to town, hundreds upon hundreds upon thousands upon millions of feet are marching up and down streets all over the country (indeed all of the world) on a multitude of separate quests- chasing something, a dream, an image, an impossible reality sold to each and every one of us on our t.v’s, on billboards and in magazines. Like the children of Hamelin running blissfully towards their unhappy ending all of us march glazed eyed and dozy footed through rows of lights and tinsel, eyes shining towards that unattainable moment, that glorious realization that can never quite be reached; because each time we get close to reaching material satisfaction, the advertiser, the store owner, the profiteer, our peers, and even ourselves snatch it away and raise the bar a little higher.
Yet doggedly we keep on, believing somewhere somehow perhaps that in material we will find salvation, that among the cess pit of new toys, lingerie, and Christmas fucking pudding we might find something that will bring daylight streaming into the underside of the hill– but we won’t. Shopping, the quest for material enlightenment is like masturbation without the orgasm. Yet, when Christmas is done and put away and we go back to working overtime at our nine to fives to pay back the money we owe to loan sharks and credit card companies; we will if nothing else have once again achieved one giant cum stain of waste, broken toys, and half eaten food in the landfill of post consumer commodities.
So here is the paradox. We live in a society that practically made I phone a religion, (there are probably more I phone users than Sikhs in the world right now with approximately 400 million ipods sold since 2008 compared to around 30million Sikhs worldwide) we spend half our lives chasing NEWER, BIGGER, BETTER, we have whole industries that exist solely to give us wet dreams about things we don’t own yet but will soon; and despite all of this we are fundamentally anti materialist in our interactions with commodities.
We hold them (commodities) aloft and afar as spectacle but in attaining them, in demystifying them, we devalue, degrade, and eventually destroy them. A perfect example of this interaction is the rate at which the monetary “value” of any item depletes from the moment it leaves the store; it’s so called value, it’s worth evaporates as soon as it is in the hands of the consumer. Now part of this of course is down to the power relationship between chain stores and individual consumers meaning that a shop has much more power to dictate “value” than you or I; however if we explore concepts like “mint in the box” and the obsession with “new” we see a trend which indicates a desire not for an item as a useful or valued thing, but as a concept a symbol of a lifestyle that is part of achieving some kind of perfection. We have reached a point where we no longer care for material possession; we care only for the thrill of the chase.
For me this new anti materialism is characterized by two key factors in our consumption; the first is the upgrade culture of add-ons and new versions of things (take for example Windows 1997,1998, XP et al) every five minutes, and the second is the throwaway culture attached to many commodities- many products including children’s bikes are not made too last more than a year, whilst even among individuals the destruction of material possessions is a common consumer act (you only need to look in the refuse bins of most housing estates to find all of the furniture, cooking equipment, and electrical goods needed to keep a household running).
So what does this conflict between spectacle and value mean, and where should we position ourselves around it? For me the root of the problem is tied intrinsically to the nature of our society and of our wider systemic structures. The capitalist and corporatist abattoir to which (like good little lambs to the slaughter) we have all merrily wandered into demands constant growth, constant expansion, and constant profit; despite being pitted against a world that cannot sustain this strategy and us such must continue to produce to “change” and to sell. When we run out of new markets and new products, we run out of capitalism and into a new freedom of reuse; the coming apocalypse of no more oil and the eventual ceasing of the ability to mass produce consumer commodities will see us all running to scrap yard to salvage our Iphone 2’s, Mini Disk Players, and gramophones; when this happens we will truly be free of the spectacle of material and perhaps once more understand the value of material.
Enough though of my nihilist predictions for the future, what can we do now? How do we eliminate the spectacle of material? An option in this war against spectacle is to simply destroy commodities “People who destroy commodities show their human superiority over commodities”, to tear them from the shelves and burn them, to destroy the adverts that perpetuate them, to smash the shops that sell them, and bomb the factories that produce them; this at least would end their reign of terror over our lives, negate them as anything meaningful, and eradicate at least for some short time their grip on our reality. However, in the modern capitalist setting, the impending doom of total environmental collapse leads this writer at least to question the effectiveness of such a tactic, and this for me is where our relationship to the value of goods because important.
Each and every product on the frickin shelf has a story, a life, a journey, it has almost certainly been made of one or many natural resources that the planet will sooner or later be entirely void of; if we destroy the product then we only perpetuate the wasting of thousands of natural resources. So what can we do? For me we must begin to reuse, to reinvent and to modify those commodities that we do have, to keep and to treasure them as valuable things, to look after them, and adapt them to make a new world from the tattered scraps of welded metal and processed oil of commodity culture.
Alongside this though, we must advocate a strategy of spectacle destruction; we must tear down the billboards and the cumming soon (though never actually cumming) culture, we must kill the voice inside our head that tells us we need the next car, t-shirt, or DVD, we must slay the advertising monster and make soup from its cold dead heart, we must smash the lie that the next product will bring us that step closer to material enlightenment or we will be crushed to death under the sheer weight of our own consumption.
Time is ticking.
 From the Tale of the Pied Piper http://www.indiana.edu/~librcsd/etext/piper/text.html
 Reference to the Pied Piper “And when all were in to the very last, The door in the mountain-side shut fast.”
 You work yourself up and up until in a frenzy, but never reach satisfaction.