ABSTRACT

When I arrived on the Larzac, José Bové was in prison. I often came across people wearing tee-shirts in support of him – farmers in their fields, tourists, those working at Le Cun where I was staying, people taking care of the stalls at the Montredon weekly market. 'The world is not a commodity ... nor a prison!', affirmed one tee-shirt. A similar poster adorned the walls of Le Cun. At La Jasse a banner declared 'No to the repression of the social movement', a repression José's imprisonment was thought to signify. In a GLL article I read at the time, the author writes that by throwing José in prison 'the justice [system] and political power have decided to treat the social movement [and its] participation in democratic debate with disrespect' (Castelbou 2002b). These were my first experiences of activists' conceptions of power. The power that activists oppose, however, is much more than just the repressive state apparatus. José was in prison for destroying GM grain as a way of acting against the power of multinationals, and Larzac 2003 was organized against the power of the WTO. Power in its various guises was much talked about by those who considered themselves to participate in a movement often described as a counterpower.