Revolution Never Sleeps: Nuit Debout in France and Beyond

Gabriel Rockhill
Counterpunch

The movement Nuit debout—‘night on our feet’ or ‘stand up night!’—is a potent reminder of the existence of an indefatigable global struggle against the neoliberal credo and all of its devastating consequences. Although it has deep roots, like all sociopolitical movements, it has come into its own since the prolongation of a March 31st general strike (grève générale) and mass protest against French labor reforms, which aim at further consolidating class power and rendering the status of the labor force even more precarious. It quickly mutated like so many other recent movements from a circumscribed protest into an extended and rapidly spreading occupation. Opening the night up to a rêve général (popular or common dream) replete with general assemblies and prefigurative experiments, it sends a clear message to the powers-that-be: the space of struggle is everywhere and the time of resistance is always.

This movement stands up—through the night—against the one force known for its worldwide insomnia: capitalism. If it is praised for its supposed productive forces and consumer options or condemned due to its debilitating alienation and environmental degradation, it is generally recognized that the time of capital is 24/7. Although stores or stock exchanges might occasionally close, the sleepless juggernaut of capitalist expansion never tires of extracting profit from the four corners of the globe.

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