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Geeks marching for their jobs

More on the  protests from Les Sanofi, the researchers in France who took to the streets when their jobs were threatened.  They’ve bought themselves some time.

In many ways, this march doesn’t look that different from an Occupy event.  But I am reminded of something Naomi Klein said about what it’s like to protest in the US, like there’s no oxygen here compared to Europe or the Middle East.  As soon as people start to agitate, the flame gets put out because there’s no place to go with your grievances.  No one will allow you any space, the propaganda machine cranks up to make you look like dirty subversives and if that doesn’t work, the DHS moves in to crack you skull and the Justice department subpoenas your tweets.

But in France, the only time the police step in is when the marchers want to march on a road.  There are other actions in France by Les Sanofi that are recorded in Montpellier where the marchers occupy a city square and lay down in it and no one moves in to arrest them.  I think that’s because as annoying as striking is to the French, there is still a critical mass that is in solidarity with them.  Check out what happens starting at minute mark 5:20.  It would be impossible to script something like that but quite easy to understand when citizens support each other.

What blows my mind is that these are employees protesting their management, something that is increasingly unheard of since Reagan fired the PATCO union.  Most employees know that to protest against your management here in the US means instant career death unless you belong to a union. It occurs to me that the reason we have had so many layoffs here in the US and why management in big pharma gets away with lying about researchers is that there *is* no oxygen for a protest and therefore no other side of the story.  We are invisible to the policy makers and press.

This country will pay for that.  If you don’t have free speech to protest what is important to you, like losing your job or losing your civil liberties, or your vote or your life from being put on a “kill list”, you haven’t got free speech or anything else of value.  Obama can go to the UN and give a speech on the concept but it means nothing if a cop in full body armor can randomly grab you out of a crowd, throw you to the ground, cuff you and cart you off to a holding facility just for trying to exercise your rights.

You whip kissers from the Crawdad Hole should take a good look at that video.  They’re just average people, with good jobs, nice families, neat little houses, there are a lot of PhDs in that crowd.  These are not deadbeats or bad employees or lazy workers. If these people had malicious intentions towards their company, they wouldn’t need to protest to bring Sanofi down. These are not stupid people. There are countless ingenious ways to bring the company to its knees.  But that’s not what this protest is about. As you can see from the banners, the protestors include Sanofi employee representatives from all over France.  And yet, they’re doing everything that you look down on.  They’re noisy, disrespectful, persistent.  And they are saving their jobs because they are organized and their government is aware of them.

You can’t argue with success.  Nothing in the US is going to turn around until a critical mass of ordinary people stand up for themselves.  You can’t expect young people and the extraordinarily brave to do it for you all the time.  The next time there’s an Occupy event, grab your labcoat and go.

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