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Jacques Rancière Talks to Striking Railworkers in France


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The Verso blog has published a series of replies from Jacques Rancière to questions submitted by striking French railworkers. The questions address, among other things, the role of intellectuals in social struggle and the difference between “rights” and “privileges.” The workers launched a two-day strike earlier this week, part of a larger wave of railway strike actions against President Emmanuel Macron’s effort to impose austerity on France’s national railway service. The responses were translated by David Broder. A snippet can be found below.

Anasse, a pointsman in Le Bourget: How can an intellectual today show solidarity with workers’ strike action?

I do not like the idea of “the intellectual,” which supposes a sort of monopoly of insight, or indeed the posture of the intellectual who advertises his support for workers’ struggles. I think that it is for those waging a struggle to say what precise acts of solidarity they are expecting from everyone else, whether that means material aid or statements in their support. But the important thing is that the distance between the different situations and the different struggles is today tending to narrow. In the universities as in SNCF [the national rail network] and other fields of activity, we find the same thing under attack: namely, the existence of a world governed by solidarity, a world in which everyone has access to the same benefits in education, healthcare, transport or other services, independently of their social rank.

Image: TGV high speed trains stand stationary on tracks outside the Gare de Lyon train station in Paris during rail strikes. Via the Independent.