Johnny O’Neal © Pascal Kober

La révolution
des casseroles

France, an admirable country that cultivates revolutionary tradition and cuisine with a certain panache. Without telling us, we are the envy of the world (sometimes with mockery, because they are jealous) for this cultural depth that only exists in France, where there is never a discussion without opposition, a day without protest when a few come to interrupt the daily grind of politics and annoy the interests of the oligarchs who, without this, would sleep on their privileges like everywhere else, without the inherent necessary worry for their mission and dominance.

Of course, the oligarch's abundant propaganda in the media and elsewhere attempts to initiate the correct use of contradiction, and to put bromide on the characteristic streak of the French to contest everything. But it still resists as witness to this beautiful révolution des casseroles (the bashing of pots and pans in protest) about to take shape at the right time of the presidential election, which has got off to a bad start. Protesters from all regions, armed only with their pots, pans and a few centuries of irreverence, are about to invalidate a candidate who had decided to keep the pot of jam for himself and his family.

Legal or not, this voracious hoarding is immoral, and without the noisy intervention of casseroles, the election, world politics, and even the candidate's own party will allow itself to be taken hostage by this glutton, of which the very Christian faith, ostentatiously shown, should have protected him from the sin of greed. If the revolution of casseroles is reaching its end, because greed is now on the brink of indigestion, the republic will be able to sit at the dining table, no doubt for a not very tempting election due to a lack of choice, but at least, with dishes less rotten.

Basically, isn't this democracy? No need for 49.3 Act, lobbyist more than citizen1, or one and the other's referendums, let the day to day, the street, the kitchens and the citizens speak.

Without yielding to any crowd movement, global politic(s) could extract from the protests the elements of doubt and stability necessary for their action, some common sense ideas, with increased intelligence and know how to amend the normalising and bureaucratic simplism of politicians who often live in a universe disconnected from reality and only think to Taylorise life and society. A permanent check and balanced form of opposition, the permanent revolution dreamed of by Mao Tse-toung (Zedong), of which his people were not capable, because a revolutionary tradition doesn't invent itself from nothing! It is built up stream by centuries of impertinance and revolt against authority, sometimes this is done by cutting off heads and this looks after the everyday, this simmers because, for dinner, all must eat some of this ferment of revolt that must be well cooked and sufficiently spiced up to maintain the flavour, taste buds awake.

France is a country of culture, that's certain, like others, but on this point –a critical mind– its culture has become more refined over time to the point of sophistication. That's how the country of gastronomy, despite Teutonic or American normalisation or the world fashion for consumerism, would like to impose upon us another model made of industrial bread and milk and global kitchens. For this new type of revolution, it is not by  coincidence that the French people find the light at the bottom of the casseroles. This is just the emergence of cultural fund (the pan bottom).

This apparent modest recurrence, the casseroles, from the revolution, carries a deep analysis still wrongly estimated. Beyond the cultural phenomenon, this révolution des casseroles reveals the abyss into which democracies have sunk, France included : the corruption. One sees the consequences throughout the world: from Syria to Turkey, from Europe to America and from Russia to Africa, corruption is generalised. What's more, it deprives populations of the wealth they have produced and the moral values that permit its fair and just redistribution, the corruption of the social ladder from the top down it has driven apprentice dictators to the election process, like Donald Trump in the U.S.A. to the democratic degeneration of Europe. The corruption of Europe by the global oligarchs is the source that feeds fascist movements while pushing the people, angry and sometimes corrupt (some partisans remain for the glutton candidate), towards the demagogues or even better, towards electoral abstention and dessertion, reducing politics to a cast. 

Even in the case of our present election, none of the parties speak of how our democracy comes out unscathed from this episode, no male or female candidate has put the fight against corruption at the heart of their programme. This penetrating and diffused disease, revealed by the casseroles, is a major handicap to politics, economics, social and cultural workings, that prevents a country, France, so wealthy, beautiful and blessed by its climate and history, from breathing, to find solutions, simple enough when one thinks of the common good before oneself.

A society's capacity for resistance, the insubordination of a people, is a treasure for any political man or woman, republican or democrat, worthy of this name. This is the only long term republican and democratic guarantee. To say, as we understand from our candidates, that the French are unreformable, incorrigible, undisciplined, because they are capable of refusal, of taking a stand, right and left, even when it is a parliamentary law, is to deny the centuries of a culture of opposition that creates the wisdom of France. This capacity for revolt must irrigate a politician's reflection, often ossified by power and comfort, sting them to imagine equitability and moral ideas, to federate in the French way, within a republican framework born from the Revolution.

Let's not destroy this unique model of democracy, built over centuries of insubordination, to all and nothing, justified and unjustified, this is a dish and a sauce of exceptional rarity, of a complexity unanalysable, of which no one has the recipe because the French possess a tiny portion each, like a thousand individual spices. Let's not lose the magic formula, that special touch...It is this individual freedom at the heart of the collective, like in jazz, the only true democracy, the only true equality, and without which the voice of the worker, the company boss, the baker, the artist, the teacher, the craftsman, the office worker or team manager is neither more nor less important than that of a minister, because objectively each has their place in a republican collective, French style. This is the project of individual freedom in a society that is an elaboration of a thousand cheeses, wines, recipes, towns and villages, businesses, trades, and it is this diversity that creates its freedom and beauty. This was the project for a socially mixed society even in its economy, drawn up by the  Conseil National de la Résistance (1944), a project perverted and fought by the founding architects of the  European Community, from the centre-left (Jaques Delors), the right (Jean Monnet) or the extreme right (Robert Schuman), and by their current successors. 

It is this slow infusion of centuries of rebellions the most diverse since the middle ages that has determined our republic of which the point of sublimation was that big beautiful incomparable French Revolution. Jean-Claude Milner (Relire la Révolution, Verdier) has well defined its unique character to have been on a completely different scale from other revolutionary shoots that were inspired by the French Revolution. 

France itself has maintained this flame by volcanic resurgences like the Trois Glorieuses of 1830, the Days of 1832 recounted by Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas, the Revolution of 1848, the Paris Commune of 1871, the Law of 1905 on secularism, the Paid Holidays in 1936, and the ensemble of social struggles like the epic miners strike after the Second World War...

Emerged from all of these street irruptions in the political functioning of our republic, are the wealth and values of solidarity and individuality, courage in particular, even sometimes in defeat, which makes French society an ideal model and the most visited country in the world, which is not by chance, but because it has taste, good taste, that of freedom.

La révolution des casseroles correctly puts sound and light on the corruption that threatens this history of France, and even more so today in a world controlled by mafias and oligarchs, because corruption conditions and subordinates all practices and organises all the other dangers: political, economic, demographic, ecological,cultural... Corruption put Hitler in power and it recently elected Donald Trump to the summit of the world's biggest military power.

This very free concert of casseroles against corruption is the most beautiful –and still small– political music that we have heard in a long time. Romania and Iceland have given it some beautiful orchestrations; from Italy and Spain, from Greece or Brazil and Russia a few echos are coming our way. But let's wait for the next course...

Yves Sportis
Translation by Sandra Miley

        1. A lobbyist defends individual interests and private property in opposition to a citizen who defends general interests and public property.

© Jazz Hot n°679, printemps 2017
Couverture: Johnny O’Neal © photo Pascal Kober