The Strength of Disobedience by Sadri Khiari

The Decolonial Translation Group (GDT) is a network of activists-translators whose purpose is to promote the circulation of information about indigenous and decolonial struggles, irrespective of language barriers.

Sadri Khiari, Tunisian activist exiled in France since early 2003, is one of the founding members of the Party of the Indigenous of the Republic (PIR), of which he is currently one of its principle leaders. He has published, among others, Pour une politique de la racaille: Immigré-e-s, indigènes et jeunes de banlieue, éditions Textuel, Paris, 2006 and La contre-révolution coloniale en France de de Gaulle à Sarkozy, éditions La Fabrique, Paris, 2009. -Decolonial Translation Group

For many years I have been reading. I read everything that is written about the political situation in Tunisia. Almost everything, to be sincere.

I have read analyses about the Tunisian economy, that marches or does not march, that “marches… but” or that “does not march… but”.

I have read articles regarding the omnipotence of the police, of the attacks on civil liberties, repression, prison, torture and the action of the defenders of human rights.

I have read articles about corruption in the highest echelons of the State, rigorous information, rumors or simple gossip about the mafia-style nepotism of the “families” [closest to power].

I have read articles about the North American influence, the French backing, the European support, connections with Israel.

I have read brainy studies on the nature of the State and the Tunisian political system, on the existence or not of a “civil society”, on the existence or not of a “public opinion”.

I have read essays on the Anthropology of Authority, essays on the deconstruction of the most microscopic mechanisms of power, discourse analyses, culturalist studies exploring the Tunisian soul of the last century or two, in order to uncover the reasons for Ben Ali.

What is it that is missing?

The people.

The people who disobey. The people who resist in the obscurity of everyday life. The people who when too long forgotten make themselves remembered to the world and break into history without prior notice.

If there is something I have learned from the struggle of the Black American slaves, on which I have worked a bit, is that there is no voluntary servitude. There is nothing other than the impatient waiting that erodes the mechanics of oppression. There is nothing other than tension day by day, minute by minute, to overthrow the oppressor.

From afar they seem like unbearable compromises, and no doubt they exist, because we must survive; but almost always mixed with indiscipline, the rebellion; molecular resistances that condense and explode into the view of all at their due time. To the opacity of despotic power corresponds the opacity of the resistances; the shameful forms of loyalty and clientelization walk hand in hand with the construction of popular solidarities; the technologies of control and of discipline are accompanied by elusive devices, of camouflage, of evasion and of transgression that disrupt the established order.

There is no oppression without resistance. Only time stretching more or less slowly before it arises, unexpected—or out of sight—the collective heroism of a people.

Make the despot go away!

Sadri Khiari, 9 January 2011.