Last updated on 28th July 2019
Communiqué: Notre Dame disaster, a symbol of the bankruptcy of French cultural heritage
We, Yellow Vests of Damigny (region 61), are sad to have witnessed the unfortunate spectacle of the fire of the Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris. Like many lovers of history and culture, in France and around the world, we assess the irreparable damage and loss that will ensue. We would like to see this building – which, far beyond a religious work, is part of the world heritage of culture – rebuilt in the best way possible.
However, we want to say that what happened is a distressing symbol of how cultural treasures are treated under a neoliberal capitalist regime.
For decades, cultural heritage, as a part of a public service that is also abused, has been an object of contempt, carelessness, and unbearable abuse. No more projects, no more breath, no more serious politics come to revive and increase what also makes the heart of a society beat: art, culture, the handing down of monuments that bear witness to the history of humanity and its greatness. In a society where only profit is king, a patrimony that does not bring returns – such is not its purpose – falls into ruins, disappears, without even sometimes the greatest number noticing it.
Notre Dame must be rebuilt, but more broadly, art and culture must regain life and offer themselves freely to humanity. Tens of thousands of sites in France must be restored and saved. We all know ruins full of history whose sight saddens us. All of this must be revived.
But art is also living, and dance, singing, music, theater, and cinema must finally be accessible to all. They should not be reserved for an elite who has money. Similarly, art education must find an essential place in the school curriculum to give people who are left out of it a taste for discovering their own culture and that of others.
Yes, all of this costs, and in a capitalist regime it therefore goes without interest because it does not bring returns, or if it does then it is little in size. So what! The money exists, we Yellow Vests don’t stop to offer reminders about this. 4 billion was stolen because of the disappearance of the ISF, 40 billions of CICE was given without compensation to companies, more than 100 billion in tax evasion that the bourgeoisie may not want to search for … How much does patrimony receive in the face of these crazy sums? In addition to the derisory budget of a ministry covering all dimensions of culture… our patrimony was supposed to benefit from a lottery that was supposed to have brought in 15 million in total and for everyone!
We must fight to impose real financing for what is important to us. Culture, public services, an end to all precariousness – only our fight will allow us to obtain results.
But we will not fool ourselves. As long as capitalism exists, the fight will be constant to see our desires and needs met. Progress and setbacks will follow one another until we succeed in shooting down the capitalist monster that leads our lives and destroys the world.
When we triumph, when democracy – true, direct, without a state, leaders or representatives – will be there, when we will self-manage our lives and our places of life, so we will decide what is necessary, vital, and important. So the markets, profits and money will be distant memories.
And humanity will live in an age of culture, it will be able to walk among all its patrimony knowing that it is beautiful, dignified, and sees the world on the shoulders of the giants who preceded it.
Yellow Vests of Damigny