#06 Popular Front(s) - What use are citizens?

In November 2020, the national health emergency is in force. We are in lockdown, remote working is the rule and the only chance we have to bump into neighbours, colleagues and people we know are in places selling essential goods. This is the precise moment, when everyone has nothing to do but produce and consume, that the French government chooses to push through the so-called  “National Security” law, which bolsters the control and surveillance mechanisms functioning in our democracy.
What we see – in a blatant, even caricatural manner – is the practical application of a remark made by Gabriel Tarde, the founder of social psychology:  to reign without any opposition, political power has simply to eliminate all the places where people discuss, and introduce a “universal mutism”. Covid-19 has shaken up our work habits and conviviality, our patterns of consumption and, so it seems, our democratic  achievements. So we felt that it was more than urgent to ask the question, through films and filmmakers’ initiatives: “What use are citizens?” and again discuss how all of us can not just debate, but also decide.

Why should society only follow and adapt, as if citizens were no more than recipients of policies and measures to be respected? As adults, citizens, we are able to implement modes of direct actions that can influence the decisions of those who govern us, able to question our society and tackle its injustices. And the sum of these injustices, our indignations, violence against the poorest, migrants, the vulnerable, the young, and which concern all of us, now seems to be increasing exponentially.

So to brave fatalism, spread positive experiences, nurture future combats and celebrate victories, this year’s Popular Front(s) programme tarries on our role of citizen, the one we are prepared to assume and the one that we could seize.

Catherine Bizern


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