We were strolling through the dark and damp streets on Christmas Eve, discussing consumerism, social classes, injustices.
We were saying that the fundamental difference in this world, the one that marks all our lives, is the position of each one on the scale of wealth and power (they often go together). There are rich people and there are poor people. Then there are also a lot of other identity characteristics that are more or less artificial, more or less voluntarily chosen, more or less accepted, more or less marginalised or condemned. But basically there are always the rich at the top and the poor at the bottom. And most often the poor accept this state of affairs as fair and natural.
In the damp, dark alleys of the Butte aux Cailles, one thought that cities too, since time immemorial, have been shaped by power and the power of money. Paris perhaps even more than other cities. This neighbourhood reminds us of the last days of resistance of the Communards, their attempt to live utopia before being crushed by the force of the State.
Our rage could have ended there, in words. In fact, this is often the case. We said to ourselves that words don’t change anything.
And then we saw this luxury car parked there. A foreigner’s licence plate, perhaps a group of rich tourists enjoying the charm of Paris for the holidays. This charm built on the blood of those who were crushed. Those whose ideas have never been defeated.
How much does a Maserati S04 cost? This flaunting of wealth and success in this society? Probably not far off the price of those rabbit cages we were taught to call home. But as we left and the flames caught under the hood we thought that just this once a bourgeois would have their celebrations spoilt.