It seems a fairly unanimous assessment that for several decades, social struggles and solidarity movements have had to take a defensive stance rather than one of progress or of conquering new rights. Everywhere, democracy seems to be in retreat, under threat, to default on its promises of political equality and guaranteed liberties. On the contrary, authoritarian, conservative or far right governments are on the rise. Meanwhile, those who fight for a fairer world are increasingly subjected to violence by the state’s repressive apparatus. How are we to understand this rising repression and the shrinking of democratic expression? And what can we do about it?
This issue of the Passerelle Collection begins with an examination of the relationship between private interests and political power, looking at the extent to which it can explain the intensification of violence against social movements. Whether it be the repercussions of the 2008 crisis, the drive towards austerity, or the “incestuous” relationship between governments and transnational corporations, the evolutions of late capitalism and that of liberal democracies are increasingly intertwined. The demand for social justice, which has been more vocal than ever in 2019, requires us to think about economic and political problems as an inseparable issue.
This publication also seeks to analyse the current forms of repression – from the genealogy of police brutality in France and the criminalisation of social movements, to parliamentary coups – in order to provide us with a better understanding of the mechanisms that contribute to “locking down” democracy. Getting a better grasp on the issue of surveillance and collaboration between Big Tech and governments is particularly crucial.
Finally, this issue offers an exploration of the (new) forms of resistance and struggle emerging in this admitedly stifling context. Physical, digital and legal self-defence, abolition of the police, debtors’ unions, municipalism as a way to rebuild democracy from the bottom up... All these practices, initiatives, political horizons, demands and experimentations are a source of hope and inspiration – so that we can open up democratic space again, go back on the offensive and re-empower people to build the world we aspire to.