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Interfering in the huge French army recruiting operation seemed quite an obvious antimilitarist strategy at the time...

Not much impact ... yet

It seems as though the French army has agreements with all the job centres in France. Every week you can find them in the career and studies information centres (CIO) even in small towns; their presence grows at every school career day and even more so at “le Salon des Etudiants” - a huge fair for companies and schools aimed at attracting students - which is held every year in most of the big French towns.

The army also run huge publicity campaigns on billboards, TV and in the newspapers. Without there being thousands of anti-militarists, it seems as though we can't do much!

No surrender!

Still, some of us try to go as often as we can to army conferences, to challenge the idea that “joining the army is a job”: we do this just by asking questions about workers' rights or whether human rights are recognised in the armed forces. A few people still rip down the military's job offers at the job centres, but this is not a very efficient tactic as they get replaced very quickly; more interesting are the posters anti-militarists make and put up to warn unemployed people about the realities of these military “jobs”.

On the advertising front, the army are primarily engaging in short-term, but huge, campaigns. So far the few of us involved in removing or subvertising their adverts dont feel we have had much impact. However, the “Salons de l'Etudiant” seem to be the best and ultimate places where anti-militarists can take action, have an impact and even get a bit of media coverage.

Other ways

Of course the army itself is still the best advert for persuading young people not to join it. The army prosecutes soldiers for such silly things (for example, stealing cutlery!) that sending a small article about it to the newspapers is quite an efficient action. The army kills and wounds: and RNVAA (Rassemblement national pour la verite sur les accidents a l'armee) is a group doing a great job making sure the truth about accidents which happen in the army is made public.

Quitting the army is deserting! And supporting people recruited into the army who are trying to cope with the reality of it is perhaps the most efficient way of opposing recruitment. Recently, the French army had to change their policy: so that anyone can quit the army during the first six months of their engagement, though this means the military still has to stay attractive for a while!

Hopes

Traditional anti-militarist groups have failed to co-ordinate and to show real resistance to the army recruiting campaigns in France. But our hopes are now that high school pupils and university students will challenge the intrusion of the army recruiting teams in their schools and campuses. And if our forces can be combined on occasions such as the “Salons de l'Etudiant”, we may be better able to challenge the military in more concrete ways.

Tikiri is a French antimilitarist activist.

Topics: Anti-militarism