French intelligence strategy document warns of “insurrectional violence”

By Will Morrow
19 July 2019

The French national intelligence and counterterrorism organization quietly released the first update to its five-year public strategy document on Monday. The report—which was uploaded to a ministerial website and not accompanied by any presidential press release—states that the role of France’s counterterrorism agencies is to fight “subversive movements” and the threat of “insurrectional violence” in the population.

The “National Intelligence Strategy” was published by the National Intelligence Coordination for the Fight Against Terrorism (CNRLT), an arm of the Élysée presidential palace. It advises the president and reports directly to the prime minister. The report was written in direct collaboration with the prime minister and personally approved by President Emmanuel Macron.

The strategy document “constitutes the road map for the intelligence agencies,” it states in the preface. A comparison with the first five-year “road map” makes clear the purposes of the update. The 2014 version identifies its five areas of operations as terrorism, espionage and economic interference, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, cyberattacks and organized crime.

This month’s report establishes a new category: “Anticipation of crises and the risk of major ruptures.” Under the headline “Violent subversion,” it states: “The growing strength of movements and networks of a subversive character constitutes a factor of crisis that is all the more preoccupying because they are aimed at weakening, and even destroying, the foundations of our democracy and the republican institutions through insurrectional violence.”

The document explains that by “subversive” movements, it means not only “violent actions against people or goods,” but “also the collection of traditional demands that these movements employ in order to infiltrate and radicalize them.”

This is a formula for the criminalization and violent suppression of any expression of social opposition in the population. Within this framework, so-called “traditional demands”—i.e., against layoffs, for higher wages, improved living standards, against war and for social equality—do not represent the legitimate demands of the population. They are merely “employed” by “subversive” forces whose aim is the destruction of democracy. This is the argument of a fascist police state.

“The radicalization of these modes of action calls for a heightened vigilance by the intelligence services in their function of anticipation and the defence of the state to prevent violence of all kinds and the destabilization of our institutions,” the report continues.

Under the headline “Crises of public order,” the report outlines the response of the intelligence agencies to the growth of social opposition in the working class. “The anticipation, analysis and monitoring of social movements and crises in society by the intelligence agencies constitute a double priority,” it states. “A knowledge of local life and the connection with its actors (elected officials, associations, media…) are important challenges for the different intelligence services.”

These policies, outlined by a leading “counterterrorism” agency in France, underscore the fact that the vast expansion of the police powers and the evisceration of democratic rights under the banner of the so-called “war on terror” over the past decade and a half has always been directed against social and political opposition in the working class, while promoting the neo-colonial operations of French imperialism in the Middle East and Africa.

In France, the build-up of a police state has been carried out under both The Republicans and the Socialist Party—from which Macron’s ruling Republic on the Move party emerged—with the support of the entire political establishment. Socialist Party President Francois Hollande utilized the November 2015 terror attacks as a pretext to declare—with the support of Jean-Luc Melenchon’s Left Front—a state of emergency that lasted almost two years.

The report constitutes a warning of the far advanced preparations for authoritarian rule in France and across Europe. The objective source of this universal process is the staggering growth in social inequality in every country, and the concentration of wealth in the hands of a tiny corporate and financial elite, which is determined to enrich itself by wiping away whatever gains remain of those won by the working class in bitter struggles throughout the 20th century.

The ruling class is turning toward police-state measures and the promotion of fascistic and far-right forces to suppress growing opposition in the working class to capitalist and rising support for socialism.

In Germany, the Verfassungschutz intelligence agency has placed the Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei, the German section of the International Committee of the Fourth International, on a list of “left-wing extremist” organizations requiring surveillance—citing its opposition to militarism and capitalism, and its call for the building of a mass revolutionary socialist movement in the working class. At the same time, the political establishment promotes the neo-Nazi Alternative for Germany and covers for far-right terrorist networks inside the state apparatus.

In the United States, President Donald Trump, with his almost daily statements that “America will never be a socialist country,” speaks and acts ever more openly as a fascist seeking to build an extra-parliamentary movement based on anticommunism and violent anti-immigrant attacks.

Within France itself, the Macron administration has responded to mass “yellow vest” protests against social inequality over the past six months, not with concessions but escalating police violence, including mass arrests, rubber bullets, tear gas and the deployment of the military.

The advanced preparations for authoritarian rule in France were underscored by the government’s actions on Bastille Day on July 14.

Terrified that protests could erupt as thousands of soldiers marched through Paris for the Bastille Day parade in a humiliating setback to Macron, the security forces placed a blanket ban on anyone in political sympathy with the “yellow vests” from entering large areas of Paris around the parade area on the Champs-Elysées avenue.

Before the parade, the police rounded up hundreds of individuals identified as potential protest leaders. Leading “yellow vest” protesters including Eric Drouet, Maxime Nicolle and Jérôme Rodrigues were rounded up and detained until the end of the ceremony. Police then transported the detainees to a camp in Paris’ 18th Arondissement, near a police station surrounded by barbed wire fences in an area of abandoned warehouses.

Nonetheless, masses of people booed and jeered Macron as his motorcade passed down the Champs-Élysées during the Bastille Day parade.

The French government is now giving a green light for a further escalation of police violence. This week, the news web site Médiapart revealed that the Macron government had bestowed a “yellow vest” award to more than 9,000 police officers last month as recognition for their role in violently repressing the protests.

Those who received medals included Grégoire Chassaing, the police commissioner in charge of the police raid on a music festival in Nantes on June 22 that caused the disappearance and presumed drowning of 24-year-old Steve Caniço; Rabah Souchi, who led the police charge that nearly killed the peaceful, 73-year-old “yellow vest” protester Geneviève Legay in Nice; and Bruno Félix, the leader of the riot police unit implicated in the death of Zinab Redouane in Marseille.

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