Arindam Chaudhuri
Paris in flames - Is it the new face of the non-violent revolution?
[December, 2005]

With a lot of interest, I switched on the television every night during early November-as Paris burnt. No, however much I might sound like the Roman emperor Nero, neither am I a sadist, nor was I enjoying the loss of property and, more importantly, the loss of global peace. But as a peace lover, I have always been convinced that global peace will remain a big illusion - as long as large portions of the society (often the majority) in the world are marginalised by the rich and powerful minority, perpetually in search for more, in order to satiate their unending self-centered myopic greed; as long as rich nations keep growing richer without sparing a thought for the hungry and dying millions in the poorer nations; as long as apartheid remains in the souls of the developed White and shows its ugly face in the form of visa regulations to income distribution; and as long as the 'White West' remains at the top of Human Development Rankings while the 'Black West' is not even there in the top 50!

The French themselves found the situation unfortunate, but not unpredictable. It was not just about the deaths of the two black boys. It was much more. It was always coming. A walk through the more common streets of Paris, Brussels or Amsterdam is good enough to feel the tension in the air. Little wonder that Jacques Chirac was nowhere to be seen during the first half of the last fortnight, as never seen before flames swept through Paris and looked almost impossible to be stopped, till the declaration of a state of emergency. However, as a keen student of ways to make a difference in the society, I got drawn to the 'Paris in flames' syndrome. I doubt if anyone really had this as a masterpiece of an idea, or as the new philosophy on social revolution and had planned it all out, systematically. But, the results were dramatic, and without doubt, hold interesting possibilities till more humane forces bring about a stop to the endless marginalisation of a vast majority across the world.

With only one casualty, the most interesting part of the whole affair was that there was no serious loss of life; if one were to compare its effect in terms of visual and psychological impact. As democracies around the world get manipulated by money and muscle, armed revolutions become a thing of the past around the world (barring in lawless places like Bihar and others), mass movements become passť in wake of the majority not having to fight for basic existence, mass demonstrations become ineffective - being looked upon as regular affairs by governments across the world - and strikes go out of fashion in the world of outsourcing, I had been wondering about what then is the weapon in the hands of the masses to bring about changes, which are of less concern to the people in power. And, as I saw Paris in flames (with approximately 5000 cars burnt on the day before they declared emergency), I wondered what would be the consequence if the Blacks in ten more European cities were to join in, in a similar way, and were further joined in by the Blacks in twenty more cities in America... Apart from providing a ray of hope for the struggling automobile industry in Detroit, with 150,000 cars burning a day, it could have been a gigantic form of the modern day version of a non-violent revolution; and just 7 days of such a form of protest and a million cars burnt could have shook the world, making governments across the world take serious note of the real problem. The absence of one strong and identifiable leader was perhaps the only reason that stopped this strong protest against daily oppression and humiliation of the Men In Black (who in various ways, also represent the voices of the marginalised) from being globalised. In these days of easy communication via sms, mobile phones and internet, it takes moments for a revolution like this to globalise, and next time around, it may not be just a Paris in flames, but Europe and America. The world needs to fear the possibility of globalisation of a similar "Paris in flames" revolution and act accordingly... and the only way to avoid similar incidents in future is to treat men around the world as equals in the true sense of the word.
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