Getting allocations is already hell: We never properly correspond to the criteria, we never have all the necessary papers, our smiles aren’t quite up to the regulation whiteness, and we always have to come back five Thursdays from now…
And once we’ve obtained them, we always end up getting them drained away: Because we never sent in some paper we never got, because they’ve been checking in on us without us knowing, because after cross-referencing various files (taxes and health insurance, for instance) it would appear that we’re living a bit beyond our means (as if it were possible to live with the minimum income from the welfare system), because we’ve been out of work for too long, or because we worked twelve hours and seventeen minutes in the last nine and a half months, which makes a whole six minutes too many.
If, by some stroke of luck, we manage to keep the allocations, we always end up having to go through residential inspections: what can we say about what an inexpressible pleasure it is to have a visit from an inspector that rifles through our mail, incites our neighbors to inform on us in all kinds of ways, and even hassles our ex-lovers to get them to admit that we’re living such dissolute lives?
All these little episodes bring us together here, lined up single file for hours. The bovine gaze of the security guard patiently scans our faces for the slightest sign of impatience, in case we make any spontaneous scowl that would indicate we find something reprehensible about the functioning of the Administration’s marvelous wonderland. Being uncooperative, eh? That’s pretty suspicious! Anyway, there will be no disturbances; the apparatuses of social control are there to ferret out the slightest lapse: take one step too many beyond the security guards’ cabin and the over-enthusiastic social worker will be all too happy to trip you up! Whether they’re just trying to corner us or working for our well being, what they want to obtain from us is material proof of our willingness to be “integrated.” All these administrative files to put together; all this documentation to provide about our ways of living and thinking – just so many apparatuses to reduce us to the proper adherence to the ideology of power, that is, to lead a functional life, meeting the needs of the market. It’s a mechanism that’s constantly making “progress,” as is proven by the emergence of all these new professions (big-box store shopping-bag packer, automatic door-closer, accountability-enforcer/informant, etc…) the absurdity of which is only equaled by the extreme submission that they are intended to force us into, and which make security policing and domestic servitude into high-expansion sectors in the post-industrial economy. With the PARE (the “Return-to-Employment Aid Plan,” concocted so as to force any reticent “excluded ones” to reintegrate themselves into the misery of wage labor) and its trail of legal slavery contracts (hard-earned bonuses for these bosses who always exude such good will!), they are already hastening to impose a better world on us, where each deserves to serve with dignity and bully people responsibly.
They never stop telling us over and over again that any attempt to escape would be fatal. Yet for some time now we’ve been feeling rather disintegrative, so we’re gathering to make it known. Every other Tuesday we pay an offensive visit to these places, which have haunted our lives for all too long. Next it’ll be ASSEDIC* or the ANPE**, the CAF or the temporary employment agency, and lots more. Bring something to stave off your hunger and pass the time!
* Association for Employment in Industry and Trade
.** National Employment Agency