Introduction to “Lenin, Communists, and Immigration”

Assembly-line workers at Renault-Flins.

This is a translator’s introduction to Étienne Balibar’s 1973 text, “Lenin, Communists, and Immigration.”

Étienne Balibar wrote the text, “Lénine, les communistes, et l’immigration,” as a readers’ letter to the daily organ of the French Communist Party (PCF), L’Humanité, appearing in the June 8, 1973 issue. It was later included as an appendix in Balibar’s 1974 collection of essays, Cinq études du matérialisme historique. The letter was a response to an article, “On Immigrant Workers,” by Jean Bruhat, a historian and veteran PCF member, which had charted the impact of migrant labor on earlier episodes of the workers’ movement in France.1

It is a crucial text in Balibar’s own trajectory, as it demonstrates that the focal points of his research in the 1980s and 1990s, and continuing into the present – on nationalism, xenophobia, class identity, imperialism, the persistent racialization of immigrant populations, and the ways these phenomena sustain working-class divisions – did not come from a break in his thinking, but rather emerged from his long-term engagement with an open “knot” of questions within the Marxist problematic.2 Balibar’s lengthy and theoretically rich “notice” to readers in Cinq études actually gives clues as to why the question of immigration would assume a prominent role in his thinking at the time, when he was still an involved member of the PCF.3 In the wake of the fierce debates – often in the form of hostile attacks against Althusser – that arose around the 1965 publication of Reading Capital, the opening salvos of Balibar’s first solo-authored book read as lucid expositions of the connections between historical materialism, theoretical practice, and political practice, or the determinations of the “scientific” character of Marxism itself. In particular, the concepts of surplus-value and the dictatorship of the proletariat offer central threads for examination within concrete situations, reflecting the situated, even partisan, dimension of Marxist analysis:

Studying historical materialism is not a matter of searching for a general or particular “method,” whether it is conceived as “scientific” or “dialectical,” to be applied to correct existing disciplines after the fact, even to recover them for a good cause. The method only exists, in the strong sense, in its activity [mise en œuvre], in the development of determinate concepts. Studying historical materialism means above all studying, in precise problems of surplus-value and the dictatorship of the proletariat in the ensemble of their determinations and, on this basis, all the particular problems of Marxist theory, of the strategy and tactics of the class struggle. How to understand and explain the history of class struggles? Studying surplus-value and proletarian dictatorship means studying their contradictory historical realization, their variation in given conjunctures: for us, in 1974, all the conjunctures produced by the development of imperialism, the class struggles of the working class and other exploited classes, the liberation struggles of oppressed peoples, contradictions in the development of socialism. It requires placing on the order of the day a central problem in each new conjuncture: what are the present forms of surplus-value? What are the present forms of proletarian dictatorship? It also means reflecting on these concepts in close connection to the workers’ movement.4

If the “field of historical materialism is the unity of the problem of exploitation and the problem of revolution,” then an investigation of the processes of material production and reproduction, the current conditions of class struggle on “the economic terrain, political terrain, and ideological terrain,” also required looking at the revolutionary tendencies within forms of resistance to class domination.5 Balibar would return to the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat in-depth a few years later in the midst of PCF debates over abandonment of the term in the party’s program. Meanwhile, Balibar’s attention to immigration is clearly motivated by an attempt to understand it as an integral feature of surplus-value extraction in contemporary capitalist accumulation.6

Indeed, a historical perspective on the shifting meanings and dynamics of migrant labor was a burning issue in early-1970s France, where immigrants from North Africa and Southern Europe were leading important social struggles in the post-68 conjuncture. The effect of these struggles – shop-floor actions by OS (semi-skilled) workers, rent strikes, waves of extended hunger strikes, Palestinian solidarity mobilizations, independent political organizing against government immigration policies – on the composition of the French working class was on the order of the day for all militants on the left. As Maud-Anne Bracke contends, these organizing sites signaled the “emergence of the political subjectivity of the immigrant workers across national lines,” traversing the multiethnic immigrant population.7 The slogan that had been popularized in the May-June events – “French and immigrant workers united” – would be challenged again and again during this historical sequence, as its message elided the specificity of the modes of subjection immigrant workers faced, and failed to capture the forms of politicization that could address these material conditions. The explosion of struggles waged by formerly colonized subjects in the heart of the metropole against the arduous nature of their jobs, as well as the systemic discrimination built into professional training and classification grids would be seem to be an important flashpoint to explore. 

In fact, as Balibar was drafting this text, immigrant workers in the large press and stamping shop at the “working-class fortress” of Renault-Billancourt – mostly Algerian workers, but there were also participants from Morocco, Tunisia, Spanish, Portugal, and West Africa – had just waged a three-week wildcat strike (from March 21 to April 11, 1973).8 Largely a response to rigid qualification levels for immigrants and thus the permanent erection of divisions within the Renault workshops as whole, this strike came on the heels of several other rank-and-file upsurges in locations with mainly immigrant workforces.9 There had already been a dispute earlier that year in another, smaller press-shop in Renault-Billancourt, Département 38, which traced back to an earlier unsuccessful strike action in March 1972; a walk-out at the Penarroya refinery in Saint-Denis in February 1971, followed by a hard-fought, but successful and well-publicized, 32-day occupation and strike by workers at the company’s Lyon plant in February-March of 1972, directed against dangerous working conditions and precarious housing situations; in December 1972, a group of undocumented Tunisian workers in Valence, about to be deported under the mandate of the restrictive Marcellin-Fontanet circulars, went on indefinite hunger strike, which quickly spread to other cities and bidonvilles, a wave lasting until May 1973; and employees at Girosteel-Bourget went on strike and occupied their factory in February 1972.10 These diverse resistances featured similar tendencies, to bypass existing channels for dissent: on the shop-floor, immigrant workers developed a collective practice of general assemblies and elaboration of grievances and strategies; in the hunger strikes, groups like the Movement of Arab Workers (MTA) offered resources and helped open a political space for expressing the aspirations of Arab workers via the obtaining of their specific demands, from work permits, residency cards, to hiring conditions.

As sociologist Laure Pitti has provocatively argued, these actions broke with certain historical structures and ideological dispositifs of the workers’ movement: “by the nature of their demands and singular organization,” they indicated a conception of working-class combat as arising from “forms of workers’ autonomy” rather than the “trade-union institution.”11 The activities of immigrant workers in this period can be tracked through a dense archive of texts, statements, reportage, and films, or what Michel Foucault calls the “intelligibility of struggles.”12 What one finds, and which Balibar doubtless wants to draw our attention to, was how the very tension between the two categories of “worker” and “immigrant” signaled a generative basis for a renewed cycle of contention in France, bridging any narrow demarcation between the workplace and broader social terrain. The power of working-class self-activity, so visible in May ‘68, was in many ways sustained directly through these immigrant worker struggles – a process of political recomposition that placed employers, unions, and parties on the back foot.13

There was a clear uptick in the energy around immigrant organizing dating back to May ‘68. While immigrants were certainly present in the May-June events, their active participation in factory occupations during the general strike was uneven.14 In some cases, as at the striking Perrier bottling factory in Montigny-le-Bretonneux, there was a split in the Portuguese immigrant workforce: some fearing for the status of their residence or labor permits, returned to Portugal; others, mainly younger workers who wanted to integrate into French society and become citizens, took more engaged stances during the occupation, which actually became a key case of workers’ self-management during the événements. But there were also more direct dispatches of the hardships immigrants faced: discrimination against different nationalities in the workplace, tied to the overarching hierarchization of job tasks between supervisory, skilled, and finally the semi-skilled/unskilled posts often reserved for non-French workers. A small nucleus at Renault-Billancourt came out with a “platform of struggle for immigrant workers” that appeared in an issue of the movement paper Action.15

The struggles of the immediate post-68 period revealed how integral imported labor was to France’s postwar “economic miracle.” The Trentes Glorieuses cannot be understood outside of the strong push from the French government in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War for a large-scale and long-term labor migration program to solve “manpower” issues in the national workforce.16 Created in 1945, the National Immigration Office was tasked with overseeing the implementation of a guestworker program (ONI, now OFII) that would “recruit and introduce foreign workers to France” and would become a “primary actor in the reconstruction of the country.”17 A standard channel of guestwork migration was thus instituted: employers put in requests for workers, which were processed by the ONI, sent to its satellite offices in “sending” or “labor source” countries, whose respective labor agencies selected guestworkers from their own lists, and transportation was arranged between the two governments with the employers covering the fees. 

However, the actual history of postwar immigration revealed the limits of this system: the structuring effects of French colonialism in North Africa and elsewhere for migrants, the carry-over of colonial racisms into job qualification hierarchies, and of course the continued reliance of both full or partially nationalized employers (like Renault) and private enterprises on “clandestine,” or undocumented immigration.18 The 1947 Statute of Algeria established free passage between colonized Algeria and France, leading to large influx of Algerians to the metropole – there were 300,000 Algerian emigrés, mostly of Arab descent, by 1956.19 The Algerian war of independence from 1954-62 exacerbated the inequalities and discriminations faced by Arab migrants – often officially grouped under the catch-all designation of “Nord-Africaines” – in the workplace but also the larger social sphere: the bidonvilles, or shantytowns, that were often the first stop for these groups became well-known symbols of the deleterious living conditions migrants endured and the lack of adequate social services provided by the French state agencies. The struggle on this front broadened after the asphyxiation of five West-African migrant workers when they were trying to improvise a heat source in their off-the-books foyer, actually managed by Senegalese authorities in France.20 At the same time, a steady flow of immigrants came from the dictatorships of Southern Europe too, namely Portugal and Spain; a number of them were political dissidents or, in the case of the former country, objectors to the colonial wars being waged in Portuguese Africa.21

These incoming groups were faced with the recurrent dilemma: how to contest their lack of representation in French society?22 Promising, if short-lived, instances of political coalition-building did emerge, altering the “microsystems of struggle” that existed in still-classically Fordist spaces of work, like the auto sector.23 Like past waves of immigrant workers, such as the Polish workers who settled in the coal industries during the interwar period, these populations did not simply impede working class action and bow to employer paternalism, but actually engaged in methods and tactics of resistance drawn from their own political and cultural experiences, actively responding to the challenges of their social situation.24 After becoming a significant part of the labor pool at Renault-Billancourt, Algerian workers in particular engaged in a series of workplace actions which generated brief episodes of solidarity with internationalist-inclined French activists, and also pointed to the major gaps in union (particularly the Communist-allied CGT) programs and discourses. Wildcat strikes and slowdowns by immigrants exposed their complicated relationships with French national workers and trade-union militants, especially over the fraught issue of explicit FLN support.25 But the networks and militant sociabilities developed during this period would prove durable in the years to come, up through the OS strikes of the early ‘70s.26

By the onset of the 1960s, though, the “cumbersome” operating procedures of the ONI had generated a steady flow of irregular or clandestine migration into France, often through the Pyrenees. Periodic gestures at post facto regularization meant that many migrant workers had their legal status granted after they were established in the country.27 The overall picture, as Philip Martin and Mark Miller argue, showed that “despite the semblance of an organized program for labor migration to France, a de facto policy of benign neglect was followed by the government”; thus “labor migration generally was uncontrolled and spontaneous.”28 Alexis Spire, in his careful sociological study of French immigration policy between 1945 and 1975, notes the “blurring” of legal regulations and administrative methods managed by immigration officers in their examination of requests for foreign residency and work permits, through a combination of “police, employment, and population” logics.29

Portuguese shop-floor bulletin from Renault-Billancourt, August 1972. 

The thread of independent migrant activism exploded in the midst of the French state’s attempt to restructure the immigration system. Rising numbers of migrants were causing social strains, and the state planning agency, the Commissariat général du Plan, pushed to curb the practices of “regularization” and clandestine entry to defend against predicted drops in economic growth.30 The passing of the Marcellin-Fontanet “circulars” in 1972 were part and parcel of this readjustment project, also shared with policies across Western Europe to halt the permanent recruitment of foreign workers through guestworker programs,31 and which in France would become a long-term initiative to reduce the number of immigrant workers and offer financial assistance for “return” migration (this became explicit in 1976, followed by the 1979 Barre-Bonnet and Boulin-Stoléru laws).32 The Marcellin-Fontanet decrees were twin measures taken by the Georges Pompidou/Jacques Chaban-Delmas government to limit undocumented migration into France: the Montanet circular was a security decree that gave control over work and residence permits to the police, while the Fontanet decree enacted stricter housing rules and employment conditions for residence. Predictably, the discriminatory dimensions of these laws were protested in a quite visible fashion: in October of the same year, a Tunisian immigrant, Said Bouziri, went on public hunger strike to contest his and his wife’s deportation, a display of dissent that proved successful and inspired similar actions.33

Immigrants mobilized during this moment of intensified state scrutiny both inside and outside of the major union federations, and moreover sought to bridge both workplace and broader social grievances.34 The factory-society divide was already in some ways an artificial demarcation line for immigrant workers. In late 1971-early 1972, Algerian workers launched a dual rent/labor strike in Oyonnax, a hub for plastics manufacturers, centered around the appalling lodging conditions they faced: overcrowding, lack of basic amenities (heating, shower facilities). Spanish and Portuguese workers who also lived and held jobs in Oyonnax bonded together with the Algerians, under the slogan: “Against Housing Conditions, the Strike in the Factory was Effective.” They wrote a collective text, in different voices and languages, detailing the problems and potential solutions for immigrant housing in France.35 They insisted: “Whether we live in small rooms in high-rises, in an overpopulated hostel, or a shantytown, the immigrant workers of Oyonnax do not have the housing to which we have a right… We refuse to be housed like rabbits.” The action won an agreement to construct additional housing. 

The Penarroya episode, too, drew widespread attention to the fact that the immigrant workforce in France endured super-exploitation in the workplace that interacted with oppression in other social spheres. In winter 1972, the mainly Moroccan workforce at the Lyon-based refinery of the multinational Penarroya group, which functioned to cut open discarded car batteries for the reuse of the lead inside in addition to the recovery of aluminum and bronze materials, went on strike.36 The workers’ grievances – drafted in dialogue with other rank-and-files in Penarroya plants in Saint-Denis and Escaudœuvres – centered on the issue of occupational health. Linking up with other activist groups and health practitioners in France at the time who were criticizing relations of medical power (like the Groupe Information Santé), Penarroya workers compiled a dossier that featured facts and figures regarding the detrimental effects of their long-term exposure to lead and noxious fumes. In their cahier de revendications, they requested that the company enact a comprehensive lead-poisoning prevention plan for employees, and make necessary installations improve working conditions, reduce lead exposure, and increase ventilation in the plant.37 The workers also formed a strike committee to make sure they retained direction and control of their demands, establishing bases of support with militants from the Les Cahiers de mai (May Notebooks) journal for outreach. A documentary film that exposed the scandalous working environment at the Lyon factory was also produced, a searing use of cinéma vérité as a weapon of struggle and organizing tool. The entire endeavor was successful, earning major concessions from management – a testament to the Penarroya workers’ powerful “collective practice” and the mobilizing strength of health and workplace safety issues. 

At Renault, the flagship firm for industrial modernization in France, with an extended workforce of thousands upon thousands of employees in the early 1970s and whose plants constituted veritable “vitrines” of larger social conflicts, the rigidity of colonial-racial domination in job posts, skill classification, and resultant pay gaps was well-evident. A 1972 intervention by workers of African descent at the Renault factories Billancourt and Flins, published in Cahiers de Mai, would articulate the way labor-power was divided and managed on the shop-floor into a powerful slogan: “we all submit to the same boss, but the exploitation is not the same for everyone.”38 The successive technological leaps that marked the rhythms of capitalist production – what Balibar deems below the permanent “industrial revolution” of capitalism, meshing with Raniero Panzieri’s account of the “capitalist nexus of technology and power” – actually had a complex relationship to the deployment of extra cheap labor, especially on the assembly-lines in mass factories, “where work is the hardest.”39 Particular regimes of wage labor often reproduced patterns of racism through mechanisms of super-exploitation and labor market segmentation; the racialization of certain populations or sections of the labor force entailed narrow class ties and social solidarities, thus affecting the larger basis for the political organization of the working class.40 In particular, these Renault workers of different nationalities demanded organizational autonomy, in order to better locate strategic pathways going forward: “It’s where we are most exploited that we can mobilize ourselves en masse, and struggle against the specific conditions we experience. We need the support of French workers, but we are not asking them to struggle in our place…What we want is first of all the means to discuss our grievances among ourselves, and to come to agreement on our forms of struggle.”41

There are significant resonances here between immigrant workers at Renault with the League of Revolutionary Black Workers’ theory of “niggermation” in the Detroit automobile plants, especially Chrysler. Black workers in the 1960s were required to do the work of three white workers, in increasingly unsafe conditions, leading to a steady rise in productivity for the Detroit auto industry.42 Instead of advances in productive technologies resulting directly in plant closures, unemployment, and a rise of urban surplus populations, certain sectors of the industrial proletariat were thus often exposed to intensified exploitation in particular workstations. Arab workers would face the same situation in Detroit in the early 1970s: subjected to speed-ups, locked in to the lowest job categories, brunt of the worst consequences of contract negotiations.43 The dense percentages of immigrant laborers in the most arduous tasks on the Renault production line lends support to this transnational comparison. 

The cycle of contention in France did not end with the Renault OS strikes of the winter/spring of 1973. Over the course of the next few months, unskilled or semi-skilled immigrants organized in the plants and workplaces for improved wages, hours, contract terms, and thus against the underlying racism and inequality of the boss/residence permit system (workers needed to go to their supervisors for certificates to renew their residence cards). This activity culminated in a one-day “general strike against racism” on September 14, 1973, called outside the major union confederations.44 The Mouvement des Travailleurs Arabes, created in June 1972 by Arab militants who were veterans of the comités Palestine and were close to the Maoist Gauche Prolétarienne, would be one of the strongest indicators of the political recomposition of immigrant workers in France, both their role as the most active layer of the workers’ movement and their growing demands for autonomy.45 The government-subsidized housing program for migrants, SONACOTRA, was also a key space of struggle, as rent strikes and the conditions of workers’ hostels [foyers] were ongoing occurrences into the latter parts of the ‘70s, prefiguring the sans-papiers movement of the mid-1990s.46

Page of a calendar made in support of the Sonacotra struggle. The various local committees involved in this protracted battle ran impressive print operations.

The reverberations of these combats can be found in Balibar’s sketch of a communist, or historical-materialist, understanding of immigration, cleverly introduced through a reading of Lenin’s short 1913 article on international immigration published in Pravda (when it went by the name of Za Pravdu), “Capitalism and Workers’ Immigration.” In that text, Lenin analyzes the historical reversal in migration that has resulted from the uneven development of capitalism in the late 19th century and the first decade of the 20th: where in the past workers had emigrated from the advanced countries (England, Germany), now the main trend was the increasing emigration of foreign workers from underdeveloped, “backward” nations (particularly Eastern Europe) towards the most industrialized nations (especially the United States). This trend in migration requires an economic and political lens, the former attentive to causes, the latter to effects. While Lenin had perceptively analyzed the connection between rural migration and proletarianization in earlier studies like 1899’s The Development of Capitalism in Russia, in the run-up to the First World War and after Lenin lent his focus more towards the political ramifications of colonial exploitation and the structure of the imperialist chain on both localized struggles and questions of internationalism (the formation of “higher” and “lower strata” in the proletariat and subsequent reorganization of national labor markets, the difficult phenomenon of working-class opportunism vis-à-vis political coalitions, the distinction between oppressed and oppressor nations). This concern is visible, for instance, in Balibar’s distillation that “Lenin’s analysis forces us to consider immigration – the living and working conditions of immigrant workers – starting from the theory of imperialism, outside of which the contemporary forms of immigration remain unintelligible.” Despite the clear stagism present at points of Lenin’s discussion, there are also indications of the “revolutionary polymorphism” that would animate his later considerations on the national question and imperialism. As Matthieu Renault argues, Lenin observed how the spatial and temporal lags and divisions of the working class on a global scale that required a grasping of the “irreducible plurality of processes and paths leading to revolution.”47 The increasingly intricate webs and routes of migration, both internal and external to nations along the imperialist chain, demanded a “multipolar and combinatory” view of working class solidarities and their scales, as often the members of that class were in motion across borders.48

Balibar’s argument here for an expanded notion of “who makes up the proletariat”49 in France and what paths are available to unify its sectors, would only become more relevant over the course of the 1970s and early 1980s. As PCF strategy foundered after the failure of the Union of the Left in 1978, Balibar lobbed incisive criticisms at the leadership’s subsequent misapprehension of changes in imperialist relationships (in a chapter of the 1979 co-authored work Open the Window, Comrades, “Is the Crisis ‘Above All National’?”, which appeared in Immanuel Wallerstein’s Contemporary Marxism journal in translation) and misguided nationalist political line that catered to the chauvinism of workers in certain municipalities, in the 1981 intervention “From Charonne to Vitry” (which ultimately resulted in his expulsion from the PCF). 

This latter essay was a red-hot indictment of the “affairs” of Vitry and Montigny-lès-Cormeilles, where two Communist mayors publicly denounced the presence of African immigrants in their towns, one ordering a bulldozer to block the entrance to a Malian workers’ hostel, the other labeling Moroccan youth as “dealers” and criminals in the context of a party-led campaign against drugs. The causes of these acts, and the CGT’s lukewarm reception of recent autonomous initiatives led by immigrant workers were determined by a path taken many years ago, when the PCF’s equivocation on anticolonialism was set. Balibar uses the example of the historical forgetting of the October 17, 1961 massacre of pro-FLN Algerian demonstrators in Paris by Maurice Papon’s special police forces in the memorial tapestry of the Party, while the mass protests led by PCF and other left forces in its wake which saw nine protesters killed including PCF activists, held pride of place in the party’s purported “anticolonial” legacy.50 This lost “historical opportunity” was precisely the type of juncture that could have helped the party transform its political practice, and pointed to an internationalism fused with “everyday collective action” that might have informed the party’s approach to the independent mobilization of immigrant workers in wildcat strikes and and tenant organizing throughout the 1970s. Instead, the patronizing approach to these forms of self-activity and felt grievances on the part of immigrant sectors of the working class only fumbled the chance to link up with a grassroots politics “in the strong sense of the word… as organized by people themselves, which draws them away from their isolation and fear, and sustains the patient efforts towards solidarity by militants, educators, and social workers, who do not wait until an electoral conjuncture to struggle.” 

This warning only took on more urgency in the following months. With the election of the Socialist Party’s François Mitterrand to the French presidency in May 1981, immigrant activism reached a turning point. On the one hand, there was a partial incorporation of anti-racist discourse and struggles into Francois Mitterrand’s Socialist government, marked by the officially-recognized 1983 March for Equality and Against Racism.51 On the other hand, Mitterrand’s government also evinced a clear hostility to workers’ struggles – in 1982-83, when workforces at the auto factories Citroën-Aulnay and Renault-Flins launched revendicative actions, and again in 1983-84 at Talbot-Poissy, when workers walked out against firings and for better state funding of migrant return programs. During the Flins strike, members of Mitterrand’s cabinet labeled the participants, many of them first and second generation immigrants, as “Shi’ites,” a clearly divisive usage meant to culturally distance the workers’ protests.52 This dismissal of working-class struggle was bound up, on the one hand, with the declining fortune of the French organized labor movement, put on the defensive since the late 1970s and continued with Mitterrand’s “turn to austerity,” and on the other the growing salience of a liberal, secularist public discourse in France which co-existed with a coalescing right-wing nativist politics (the National Front and Le Pen).53

A remarkable exercise in self-criticism, then, the focal points of “From Charonne to Vitry” can be glimpsed in this 1973 letter, an initial attempt by Balibar to prod fellow communists to accord an integral place to migrant activism in their political work. As Donald Reid has observed, across these essays and in his organizing work in the party as an internal dissident, “Balibar realized that the party he had entered in 1961 participated in a national narrative of revolution that had a place for the anti-fascist battles of yore now against the OAS, but could not prefigure a world in which borders would not impede unification of the exploited seeking to throw off their chains.”54

Balibar’s later collaboration with Immanuel Wallerstein, 1988’s Race, Nation, Class, would push his theoretical insights into migration, the segmentation of the working class, and imperialism even further. In his essays for that volume, Balibar offered a sophisticated reworking of the problem of uneven development and the articulation of modes of production, examining the simultaneous existence of the “most archaic” and “most up-to-date” forms of exploitation in the capitalist world-economy, which come together in what he terms spaces of the “semi-periphery” across states and social formations.55 He also advances a theory of racialization regarding the relationship between immigration and firewalls among workers. The specifically French form of racism was “organically linked to the relative privileges of skill, to the difference between exploitation and super-exploitation” that separated French and immigrant workers that took shape through strategies and models deployed by the state and employers. Moreover, in a manner that echoes the approach of Theodore Allen and Noel Ignatiev to understanding the function of race in the United States context, Balibar forcefully returns to the argument found in “From Charonne to Vitry” that the defense of these material privileges had left stubborn, “meandering” remnants of nationalism in the institutions of the labor movement (especially the PCF and its various “transmission belts”), with French identity operating as a barrier to proletarian solidarity and a mechanism of social control.56 It is no coincidence that these battles over the national belongingness and social rights of certain sectors of the French working class overlapped with the emergence of the National Front and its concerted attempt to draw away and “re-articulate” parts of the PCF and the Socialist Party’s popular base.57

Along with theorists like Stuart Hall, Balibar has thus offered one of the most robust attempts to define race through the shifting forces of class composition in concrete national conjunctures, or what he calls, in a stunning essay on the 2005 uprisings in the French banlieues, “the overdetermined ‘fusion’ of racial and class exclusions.”58 How do destabilizations of particular regimes of labor, social policies, and political blocs result in renewed conflicts and antagonisms, often coded in racial or national identity terms? To begin this work, we also have to engage with the persistent “colonization of history” via the nation-form, the response by racialized subjects to differential inclusion, as well as the foreboding, mutating institutional reality of the state which mediates this correspondence.59

These questions and lines of analysis are germane to present struggles in Europe and the United States.60 The conditions and paths of both immigration and migrant politics have irrevocably changed since this text appeared, especially with the consolidation of the European Union border regime, but the need to continuously rethink the way migration is linked to diffuse forms of capitalist relations of domination and dispossession, and thus to also re-center subaltern groups’ capacity to resist these conditions, has not left us.61 Support and defense of the Calais migrant camp – unceremoniously cleared by police in October 2016 – was a critical event in both the “long summer of migrations” that refused European border securitization and the 2016-17 chain of mobilizations against the El Khomri labor law in France.62 The guiding hypothesis and conclusions of Balibar’s text should be revisited, as the contours of a socialist internationalism in its “most concrete, organic means” are once again in question. 


1 In other works, Bruhat focused on the presence of immigrant labor in the initial class struggles in France that broke out with the uneven onset of industrial capitalism in the wake of the French Revolution, when the preservation of guild structures, local traditionalisms, and ideologies concerning the dignity of labor often meant that workers saw resistance against the employment of “foreign” workers as the sole solution to issues of social rights and unemployment. Bruhat cites in his historical studies examples from the 1830s, where engravers, masons, and stone breakers demanded that their bosses not hire workers from other regions or provinces, or even expel them. See Jean Bruhat, Histoire du mouvement ouvrier français (Paris: Éditions sociales, 1952), 223. We also do not have the space to recount the entirety of Bruhat’s (1905-1983) own fascinating personal history here. He was a major intellectual voice within the PCF for some years, a historian who wrote on many topics of French labor history and defended the role of political engagement in the academy. Hailing from a working-class family yet academically trained at the École normale supérieure, Bruhat joined the party in the Nantes region all the way back in 1925. He taught at the Lycée Buffon, the Sorbonne, and then Paris VIII-Vincennes. He drafted his first historical article for the Cahiers du bolchevisme in 1933, on the topic of Marx and the Paris Commune, taught extensively at the Party schools and participated in the Cahiers du contre-enseignement prolétarien, and was a frequent contributor to l’Humanité’s “Doctrine et l’histoire” section, which presented the “illustrative function” of historical examples and case studies to elaborate the political line of the party. See on this topic, Marie-Cécile Bouju, “L’Histoire dans la culture militante communiste en France, 1921-1939,” Cahiers du CRHQ (2012): 1-23. Bruhat wrote numerous studies of French working-class life and political radicalism, often for the PCF imprint Editions Sociales: Histoire du mouvement ouvrier français (1952); L’Europe, la France et le mouvement ouvrier en 1848 (1953); a biography of Marx and Engels (1970); a profile of Gracchus Babeuf (1978); a political memoir, Il n’est jamais trop tard (1983); and several co-authored works, including La Commune de 1871 (1970), and histories of trade unions and the First International (1964) as well as the CGT (1958), both of which were written as popular tracts for workers’ education courses. Bruhat’s soutenance for his doctoral thesis was published in a 1971 issue of La Pensée: see Jean Bruhat, “Science historique et action militante,” La Pensée 160 (November-December 1971): 34-43. Interestingly, like Balibar, Bruhat became involved in the intra-party disputes of the PCF following the breakup of the Union de la Gauche and the electoral defeats in 1978. He supported the actions and petitions launched by dissident communists against party leadership, including Balibar’s own initiative, “Union dans les luttes,” and even went so far as to ask whether the concept of “the party” was outdated in a 1982 Le monde diplomatique article. Despite these open criticisms, Bruhat never was expelled or resigned his PCF membership. For more biographical information, see Jean Bouvier’s obituary in the Revue d’Histoire Moderne & Contemporaine: Jean Bouvier, “Nécrologie: Jean Bruhat 1905-1983,Revue d’Histoire Moderne & Contemporaine 30, no. 2 (1983): 322-323, as well as his autobiography, with the collaboration of Michel Trebitsch, Il n’est jamais trop tard (Paris: Albin Michel, 1983).
2 One should bear in mind Pierre Macherey’s retrospective consideration in his Soutenance of how Marxism was viewed among Althusser and his students: not as an already completely formed knowledge or finished theory – a “system of prepared responses and fossilized concepts” – but a “knot of simple and concrete problems.” Pierre Macherey, “Soutenance (25 May 1991),” in In a Materialist Way: Selected Essays, ed. Warren Montag, trans.Ted Stolze (London: Verso, 1998), 18.
3 Though he was viewed as a party intellectual and engaged in several high-profile debates within the party as an internal dissident, for the duration of his time in the PCF Balibar did not assume a leadership position, his contributions coming from his role as a teacher in political education classes for his local branch in the Gabriel-Péri cell (5th arrondissement), part of the larger Fédération de Paris section, and from his numerous lectures at the Centre D’Etudes et de Recherches Marxistes.
4 Etienne Balibar, Cinq études du matérialisme historique (Paris: Maspero, 1974), 11-12.
5 Balibar, Cinq études du matérialisme historique, 12.
6 See also Balibar’s essay “Plus-value et classes sociales,” in Cinq études, 103-78. For a refreshing use of this essay in thinking the juridical forms of property as structuring the class relations of capitalist society, see Brenna Bhandar, The Colonial Lives of Property: Law, Land, and Racial Regimes of Ownership (Durham: Duke University Press, 2018), 12. For more on Balibar’s overall intellectual itinerary in this period, see Yusuke Ota, “Philosophie des masses. Étude sur la pensée politique d’Étienne Balibar,” doctoral thesis, Paris-8/Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, March 2015; and Giorgios Kalampokas, “Towards a New Practice of Politics,” paper presented at 12th annual Historical Materialism conference, November 5-8, 2015.
7 Maud-Anne Bracke, “May 1968 and Algerian Immigrants in France: Trajectories of Mobilization and Encounter,” in 1968 in Retrospect: History, Theory, Alterity, ed. G.K Bhambra and I. Demir (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 115-30.
8 See Jacques Frémontier, La Forteresse ouvrière: Renault (Paris: Fayard, 1971).
9 On social relations in this historical moment at Renault-Billancourt, see Laure Pitti, “Renault, la ‘forteresse ouvrière, à l’épreuve de la guerre d’Algérie,” Vingtième Siècle. Revue d’histoire 83, no. 2 (2004): 131-143.
10 For information on the labor action in Département 38 of Renault-Billancourt, see “Les leçons d’une grève qui ont aussitôt servi,” Cahiers de mai 40 (May-June 1973): 6-7. On Penarroya, see Laure Pitti, “Penarroya 1971-1979: ‘Notre santé n’est pas à vendre!,’” Plein droit 83, no. 4 (2009): 36-40; and Daniel Anselme, “La grève de Penarroya – Lyon, 9 février-13 mars 1972,” in Quatre grèves significatives, ed. Guy Lorant (Paris: EPI, 1972), 141-173. A recent discussion in English can be found in Burleigh Hendrickson, “Imperial Fragments and Transnational Fragments: 1968(s) in France, Tunisia, and Senegal,” doctoral thesis in History, Northeastern University, December 2013, 237-46. For primary texts from different acts of the struggle, see “Penarroya: Lettre des ouvriers de Saint-Denis aux travailleurs du trust,” Cahiers de mai 28 (March 1971): 4-7; “Penarroya (Lyon), Lettre collective des ouvriers: ‘Luttons la main dans la main aussi longtemps qu’il sera nécessaire,’” Cahiers de mai 35 (February 1972): 14-16; “Penarroya: Notre grève sera utile à tous,” Cahiers de mai 36-37 (March-April 1972): 9-23; “Penarroya: Six mois après,” Cahiers de Mai 38 (November 1972): 23-26. Translations of these documents will appear in an upcoming Viewpoint dossier, “Transmissions from the Experience of Revolt: The Proletarian May.” On Girosteel, see Bracke, “May 1968 and Algerian Immigrants in France,” 125. On the “sans-papiers” hunger strikes, see Paul Ariès, “1973; les “sans-papiers” du bidonville de Fezin,” Hommes et migrations 1177 (June 1994): 43-47, and for the effects of these actions on later cycles of immigrants struggle in France, see Siméant Johanna, “Les sans-papiers et la gréve de la faim,” Multitudes (n.d.), and by the same author, “L’efficacité des corps souffrants: le recours aux grèves de la faim en France,” Sociétés contemporaines 31 (1998) 59-86; “Johanna Siméant, “La violence d’un répertoire: les sans-papiers en grève de la faim,” Cultures & Conflits 09-10 (1993); La Cause des sans-papiers (Paris: Presses de Sciences Po, 1998); and La grève de la faim (Paris: Presses de Sciences Po, 2009). See too Timothy Peace, European Social Movements and Muslim Activism (London: Palgrave, 2015).
11 Laure Pitti, “Grèves ouvrières versus luttes de l’immigration: une controverse entre historiens,” Ethnologie française 31, no. 3 (2001): 465-476. A translation of this essay will be featured in Viewpoint in the near future.
12 Michel Foucault, “Truth and Power: An Interview,” trans. Colin Gordon, in Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972-1977, ed. Colin Gordon (New York: Pantheon Books, 1980), 114.
13 See Daniel Gordon, “Immigrant Struggles, Anti-Racism, and May 1968: An Interview with Daniel Gordon,” conducted by Selim Nadi, Viewpoint Magazine, October 5, 2017. We should not underestimate, however, the still-significant political resources party and union structures possessed: by Gordon’s count, even as late as the beginning of the 1980s “some 25,000 immigrant workers belonged to the PCF, more than any other party in Western Europe.” Daniel A. Gordon, Immigrants & Intellectuals: May ‘68 & the Rise of Anti-Racism in France (Pontypool: Merlin Press, 2012), 181. Sylvain Lazarus performs an effective analysis of the ongoing conflict between the circulating categories of “immigrant” and “worker” through the 1982-86 auto strikes in Renault-Billancourt, Renault-Flins Talbot-Poissy, and Citroën-Aulnay in his 2001 text “Workers’ Anthropology and Factory Inquiry: Inventory and Problematics.”
14 Michelle Zancarini-Fournel, “La question immigrée après 68,” Plein Droit 53-54 (June 2002): 3-7; Daniel Gordon, “Reaching Out to Immigrants in May 68: Specific or Universal Appeals?,” in May 68: Rethinking France’s Last Revolution, eds. Julian Jackson, Anna-Louise Milne, and James S. Williams (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), 93-108. A fine chronology can be found here.
15 See “Renault: la parole aux ouvriers émigrés,” Action 12 (June 18, 1968): 4. A translation of this text is forthcoming in Viewpoint.
16 Philip L. Martin and Mark J. Miller, “Guestworkers: Lessons from Western Europe,” Industrial and Labor Relations Review 33, no. 3 (April 1980): 315-330; see also Alexis Spire, “Étrangers à la carte: L’administration de l’immigration en France (1945-1975) (Paris: Grasset, 2005).
17 See L’Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration, “Notre histoire.”
18 See Laure Pitti, “De la différenciation coloniale à la discrimination systémique? La condition d’OS algérien à Renault, de la grille Parodi à la méthode Renault de qualification du travail (1945-1973),” La revue de l’IRES 46, no. 3 (2004): 69-107, and her “Catégorisations ethniques au travail: Un instrument de gestion différenciée de la main-d’œuvre,” Histoire & mesure 20, no. 3-4 (2005): 69-101; Alexis Spire, “D’une colonie à l’autre. La continuation des structures coloniales dans le traitement de l’immigration algérienne en France,” in Patrick Weil, Stéphane Dufoix (ed.) L’esclavage, la colonisation et après… (Paris: PUF, 2005), 387-400. And too: Maïlys Kydjian, “Penser l’immigration maghrébine avec l’histoire coloniale,” Les Cahiers de Framespa 19 (2015).
19 See Jim House, “The colonial and post-colonial dimensions of Algerian migration to France,” History in Focus 11 (Autumn 2006); and Todd Shepard, The Invention of Decolonization: The Algerian War and the Remaking of France (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006).
20 See Jean-Philippe Dedieu & Aissatou Mbodj-Pouye “The first collective protest of black African migrants in postcolonial France (1960–1975): a struggle for housing and rights,” Ethnic and Racial Studies 39, no. 6 (2016): 966.
21 See Marie-Christine Volovitch-Tavares, “Les travailleurs immigrés portugais pendant les Trente Glorieuses,” Hommes et migrations 1263 (September-October 2006): 70-83.
22 See Yann Moulier-Boutang, “Resistance to the Political Representation of Alien Populations: The European Paradox,” International Migration Review 19, no. 3 (August 1985): 485-92.
23 See Daniel Mothé’s articles in Socialisme ou Barbarie: “Les ouvriers français et les Nord-Africains,” Socialisme ou Barbarie 21 (March-May 1957): 146-57; “Témoignages: Ce que l’on nous a dit,” Socialisme ou Barbarie 25, (July-August 1958): 67-71. For supplementary material see Laure Pitti, “Figure ouvrière et engagement dans la lutte de libération nationale: Les ouvriers algériens de Renault-Billancourt pendant la guerre d’Algérie,” L’Homme et la société 117-118 (1995): 115-128, and Tifenn Hamonic, “La Voix du travailleur algérien: une source en ligne pour l’histoire du syndicalisme immigré et de la guerre d’Algérie,” Migrance 39 (2012): 49-58.
24 See Donald Reid, “The Limits of Paternalism: Immigrant Coal Miners’ Communities in France, 1919-45,” European History Quarterly 15 (1985): 99-118.
25 See Laure Pitti, “Renault, la ‘forteresse ouvrière’ à l’épreuve de la guerre d’Algérie.”
26 See Laure Pitti, “Une matrice algérienne? Trajectoires et recompositions militantes en terrain ouvrier, de la cause de l’indépendance aux grèves d’OS des années 1968-1975,” Politix 76, no. 4 (2006): 143-66. A translation of this text will appear in Viewpoint in the future.
27 Georges Tapinos, L’immigration étrangère en France (1946-1973) (Paris: PUF, 1974).
28 Martin and Miller, “Guestworkers: Lessons from Western Europe,” 318.
29 Spire, Étrangers à la carte.
30 Jeffrey M. Togman, The Ramparts of Nations: Institutions and Immigration Policies in France and the United States (Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2001), 103. See also René Gallissot, “Le mouvement ouvrier face aux travailleurs immigrés,” Hommes et migrations 1263 (September-October 2006): 99-104.
31 See Yann Moulier-Boutang and Jean-Pierre Garson. “Major Obstacles to Control of Irregular Migrations: Prerequisites to Policy,” The International Migration Review 18, no. 3 (1984): 579-92.
32 See Jeannette Money, Fences and Neighbors: The Political Geography of Immigration Control (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999), 112. For a recent survey of the restructuring of the immigration system in France during this period and into the 1980s, see Sylvain Laurens, Une politisation feutrée. Les hauts fonctionnaires et l’immigration en France (1962-1981) (Paris: Belin, 2009). See also Michel Poinard, “Le million des immigrés: Analyse de l’utilisation de l’aide au retour, par les travailleurs portugais en France,” Revue géographique des Pyrénées et du Sud-Ouest 50, no. 4 (1979): 511-39.
33 See Ethan Katz, Burdens of Brotherhood: Jews and Muslims from North Africa to France (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2015), 289.
34 The relationship between the union confederations (the CGT and the CFDT) and “ouvriers immigrés” is a delicate and convoluted question, and deserves much more space than is possible here. In the post-68 context, the demands of immigrant workers pushed union platforms to include a more thorough anti-racist orientation: see René Moriaux and Catherine Wihtol De Wenden, “Syndicalisme français et islam,” Revue française de science politique 37, no. 6 (1987): 794-819.
35 “Oyonnax: Faire l’unité entre immigrés,” Cahiers de mai 35 (February 1972): 2-5.
36 See the Penarroya materials cited above; also the 1972 film on the Penarroya struggle in Lyon, directed by Daniel Anselme and Dominique Dubosc, Pennaroya, les deux visages du trust.
37 See Laure Pitti, “The Struggle for Lead Poisoning Recognition in the Workplace in France: the 1970s Turning Point,” in Paul D. Blanc, Brian Dolan (eds.) At Work in the World: Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on the History of Occupational and Environmental Health (San Francisco: University of California Medical Humanities Press, (Perspectives in Medical Humanities, 2012), 172-175.
38 See the collective text from African workers at Renault-Billancourt and Renault-Flins, “Nous subissons le même patron mais l’exploitation n’est pas la même pour tous,” Cahiers de mai 35 (February 1972): 6-9. A translation is forthcoming in Viewpoint. For more on the history of West African immigration to France during this period, see Gillian Glaes, “Sally N’Dongo, African Immigration, and the Politics of Neocolonialism in West Africa and France,” Migrances 39 (2012).
39 See Raniero Panzieri, “Surplus-Value and Planning: Notes on the Reading of Capital,” trans. Julian Bees, in Conference of Socialist Economists, The Labour Process and Class Strategies (London: Stage 1, 1976), 4-25; see also Benjamin Coriat, L’Atelier et le chronomètre: essai sur le taylorisme, le fordisme et la production de masse (Paris: Bourgois, 1979).
40 Gabrielle Varro and Anne-Sophie Perriaux, “Les sens d’une catégorisation: ‘les O.S. immigrés,’Langage et société, 58 (1991): 5-36; See Harry Haywood’s prescient discussion of the remnants of sharecropping in the American South into the 1940s (which would continue into the 1950s and ‘60s), which presented a counter-tendency to the “indisputable” tendency of cost-reduction through mechanization in agricultural labor. See Harry Haywood, Negro Liberation (New York: International Publishers, 1948), 113-14. Class composition, in this connection, was not just a matter of the technical composition determining political composition, but a complex analysis of forms of extra-economic coercion, labor discipline, workforce management, and proletarian self-activity. Thanks to Asad Haider for the reference and his careful historical work in excavating the theoretical and political relationship between Haywood and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers.
41 “Nous subissons le même patron mais l’exploitation n’est pas la même pour tous,” 9.
42 See Dan Georgakas and Martin Survin, Detroit: I Do Mind Dying: A Study in Urban Revolution (Boston: South End Press, 1975), 85-89. See too John Watson’s interview with The Fifth Estate, “To the Point…of Production,” May 1969.
43 Dan Georgakas, “Arab Workers in Detroit,” MERIP Reports 34 (Jan. 1975): 13-17. For a broader analysis of changes to the labor process in U.S. auto plants in the early 1970s, which views capitalist management strategies as responses to working-class sabotage and informal work groups 00 including the gradual shift away from the “long assembly line” towards flexible group piece-work – see Peter Linebaugh and Bruno Ramirez, “Crisis in the Auto Sector,” Zerowork: Political Materials 1 (December 1975): 60-84.
44 See Abdellali Hajjat, “Le MTA et la « grève générale » contre le racisme de 1973,” Plein Droit 67 (December 2005): 35-40. See also the editorial by the Camarades collective, led by Yann-Moulier Boutang, “Luttes, conjoncture, organisation,” Camarades 1 (April-May 1974): 1-8. A translation of this text is forthcoming in Viewpoint.
45 Abdellali Hajjat, “L’expérience politique du Mouvement des travailleurs arabes,” Contretemps, February 2017. See also Abdellali Hajjat, “The Arab Workers’ Movement (1970–1976): Sociology of a New Political Generation,” in May 68: Rethinking France’s Last Revolution, 109-121.
46 Paul Ariès “1973: Les ‘sans-papiers’ du bidonville de Feyzin,” Hommes et Migrations 1177 (June 1994): 43-47; Martin A. Schain, “Ordinary Politics: Immigrants, Direct Action, and the Political Process in France,” French Politics and Society 12, nos. 2-3 (Spring-Summer 1994): 65-83; Anne McNevin, “Political Belonging in a Neoliberal Era: The Struggle of the Sans-Papiers,” Citizenship Studies 10, no. 2 (2006): 135-51; Thomas Nail, The Figure of the Migrant (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2015), and his “Alain Badiou and the Sans-Papiers,” Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities 20, no. 4 (2015): 109-30; Sylvain Lazarus, “Les mouvements présentent la politique, les organisations la prescrivent,” Lignes 30, no. 1 (1997): 169-180.
47 See Matthieu Renault, “Revolution Decentered: Two Studies on Lenin,” Viewpoint Magazine 6 (2018).
48 For a critical perspective on Lenin and the Third International’s analysis of migrant labor, especially their assumption that capitalist penetration in colonized nations would produce a “concentration of agricultural property,” thus “creating a powerful mass of landless peasants” and subsequently neglecting the protracted phenomenon of rotating migrant labor, see Claude Meillassoux, Maidens, Meal, and Money: Capitalism and the Domestic Community, trans. Felicity Edholm (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), 105-6.
49 See René Gallissot, Nadir Boumaza, and Ghislaine Clément, Ces migrants qui font le prolétariat (Paris: Méridiens-Klincksieck, 1994).
50 See also Alberto Toscano, “The Name of Algeria: French Philosophy and the Subject of Decolonization,” Viewpoint Magazine, February 2018.
51 For a many-sided retrospective on the March for Equality and Against Racism – which Daniel Gordon marks as the “death of the sixties” in terms of the way it fit into the conjuncture of the early 1980s and the specific type of demands it advanced – see the 2013 issue of Migrances (no. 41), “1983: La Marche pour l’égalité et contre le racisme.
52 See Sylvain Lazarus, “Workers’ Anthropology and Factory Inquiry: Inventory and Problematics.”
53 For more on this conjuncture, see Balibar’s 1981 essay “After the Other May.”
On the social processes that transformed the banlieues into “exiled neighborhoods,” a stark move away from their previous identity as working-class “bastions,” see Olivier Masclet, “Du ‘bastion’ au ‘ghetto’: Le communisme municipal en butte à l’immigration,” Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales 159, no. 4 (2005): 10-25.
54 Donald Reid, “Etienne Balibar: Algeria, Althusser, and Altereuropéenisation,” South Central Review 25, no. 3 (Fall 2008): 69.
55 For a complementary analysis, see Robert Linhart, “Evolution du procès de travail et luttes de classe,” Critique communiste 23 (1978): 106-131. A translation of this text is forthcoming in Viewpoint.
56 See Etienne Balibar, “Racism and Crisis,” trans. Chris Turner, in Immanuel Wallerstein and Etienne Balibar, Race, Nation, Class: Ambiguous Identities (London: Verso, 1991), 224-25. See the recent retrospective with Wallerstein and Balibar about the continuing impact of this book conducted by Manuela Bojadžijev, “Intersecting Optics: A Dialogue on Race, Nation, Class 30 Years On,”as well as Balibar’s solo talk, “Race, Nation, and Class: Rethinking Their Articulation,” both part of the conference “Dangerous Conjunctures: Resituating Balibar/Wallerstein‘s Race, Nation, Class,” Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, March 15-17, 2018.
57 Balibar, “Racism and Crisis,” 225; for this idea of political articulation see Stuart Hall, “The Great Moving Right Show,” Marxism Today, January 1979, 14-20; and Cedric De Leon, Manali Desai, and Cihan Tugal, “Political Articulation: Parties and the Constitution of Cleavages in the United States, India, and Turkey,” Sociological Theory 27.3 (September 2009), 193-219.
58 Etienne Balibar, “Uprisings in the Banlieues,” trans. James Ingram Constellations 14, no. 1 (2007): 63.
59 See Balibar’s underlooked essay, “Algeria, France: One Nation or Two?,” trans. Adele Parker, in Giving Ground: The Politics of Propinquity, ed. Joan Copjec and Michael Sorkin (London: Verso, 1999), 162-72; as well as his 2007 interview, with editors of the Indian political magazine Tehelka, “‘Secularism Has Become Another Religion.’” See also the excellent 2013 Jadaliyya roundtable, “The Afterlives of the Algerian Revolution,” edited by Muriam Haleh Davis, for an exploration of this intractable historiographical and political relationship between the nation-form, coloniality, and the post-colonial condition. And now too, The Colonial Legacy in France: Fracture, Rupture, and Apartheid, eds. Nicolas Bancet, Pascal Blanchard, and Dominic Thomas (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2017); Daniel Hartley and Beatrice Ivey, “Rupture, repression, repetition: The Algerian War of Independence in the present,” International Journal of Francophone Studies 21, nos. 3-4 (October 2018): 185-207.
60 See Plateforme d’Enquête Militantes’ recent text on contradictions within the “yellow vests” movement on the question of migration, “Macron ne lâche rien, les gilets jaunes non plus!,” Platenqmil, December 13, 2018. See also the 2017 interview, in the wake of the Nuit debout protests, with an organizer from the Mouvement de l’immigration et des banlieues: “Our Neighborhoods are Not Political Deserts,” Ediciones ineditos, February 16, 2017; see too the remarkable balance-sheet of the struggles against the El Khomri Labor Law, which saw new political coalitions and tactical convergences between postcolonial migrant populations, far-left militants, and labor activists, especially in demonstrations against police violence: Action antifasciste Paris-Banlieue, “Black K-Way Jackets, Red Vests, and North Face Parkas,” talk given at the Penser L’émancipation conference, Paris, September 4, 2017. On the U.S. situation, see Viewpoint Magazine, “The Border Crossing Us,” November 2018.
61 See the recent symposium in Antipode, edited by Glenda Garelli, Alessandra Sciurba, and Martina Tazzioli, “Mediterranean Movements: Mobility Struggles, Border Restructuring, and the Humanitarian Frontier,” Antipode 50, no. 3 (June 2018): 662-821.
62 See Davide Gallo Lassere, “The Extreme Center and Social Struggles in France,” Viewpoint Magazine, June 2017; Sandro Mezzadra, “Au-delà de l’hégémonie. Luttes, mobilités et limites en Europe après le « long été des migrations,” Plateforme d’enquêtes militantes, November 29, 2017.

Author of the article

is a member of the editorial collective of Viewpoint. He lives in Seattle.