Activism, ambitions and betrayals during elections
I was in court yesterday to support a fellow activist being sued by the French state for having stood up to police brutality against refugees. After the hearing was postponed, we gathered at the nearby café where I had a long and rich conversation with a woman who was an activist before I was even born.
Despite our disagreements on some points, I could only feel respect for the work she has done and which she continues to do against racism and unequal access to education in the suburbs of Paris. As I hoped for it, we converged and agreed on the fact that clientelism which ruined the struggles of her generation is now being reproduced today by mine: “where we had a mobilization momentum, we got front runned by opportunists whom were more determined to defend their personal careers than we were in the defense of our collective ambition.”
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results said Einstein. France’s 2017 presidential and legislative elections are approaching and little by little, new careerists from minority groups will be revealing their personal ambitions by using our struggles as political capital. Struggling minorities in France are no different from their counterparts in other countries. The parvenu is a global phenomenon and as presidential candidates from the right, the left and even the far right are trying to seduce Muslim voters after having thrown them under the bus time and time again, organisations are lining up to endorse either candidate despite their notorious contribution to islamophobia, police impunity or corruption. For saying “islamophobia is evil” or “Muslims are good people” without even committing to tackle racism, those who were part of the administrations that contributed to the demonisation of Muslims will be given complete amnesty by self proclaimed community representatives.
As we saw it in the eighties and nineties, many will engage in transactions on the back of their marginalised communities and never look back. Many will make unforgivable choices and try to justify them with vague explanations and a condescending tone. Struggling minorities will be told that they should follow their lead, that the system is not rigged and that they owe their community owes its daily hardship to their unwillingness to work hard and climb the social ladder.
They will lecture their own people and justify the need for them to be realistic, to work through the system and change it from within. They will claim to know what others don’t and understand what no one else but them does. The same system they was once denounced as crumbling and corrupt will all of a sudden be welcoming for those who want to change it from within and waiting for them to do so.
Just like those who preceded them, they will turn their charities into cults and fan clubs where herding is the norm and where dissonant voices are immediately disqualified as trouble makers and traitors. Like in any cult, the leader will have his own court of close followers whom will be take at heart to justify the unjustifiable and outsource any thinking to his/her higher intellect.
Being an activist means enduring loneliness, betrayals and disappointments even by the very same people whom once convinced you to join the struggle. If it were not for those whom endured it all even at the expense of their own lives, we wouldn’t see this struggle for social justice being carried from one generation to the other and the elites haunted by the idea of the dominated groups banding together which is no longer a far off dream. This is perhaps why one can find peace, strength and resilience by always asking himself why and for whom he’s doing it.
“A traitor who leaves us weakens us much less than a cowardly defender.” Jean Racine