Velvetyne strikes back
Yes, we’re back. Some of you may have noticed that the Velvetyne website was closed since the 05/12/2019, for a bit more than 3 months. Beside some minor short offline moments due to technical updates, this was the first time in our 10-year existence that our website was unavailable. This was not a bug. It was an online strike, that we have decided to end today, so we’ll explain you why here.
This online strike was a continuation of the IRL strike which is still alive in France as we are writing. This social movement is a reaction to a reform of the pension system that the French government is trying to impose on the people. We, at Velvetyne, as many of our fellow citizens, consider this reform unclear, useless and unfair. We still don’t understand the motivations of the government behind this reform. The current system isn’t actually facing a long-term deficit (source).
Among its numerous “innovations”, this reform would:
- lead to an increasingly higher age of retirement for every generation to come. That means working until you’re 65, 67, 69… years old. That would lead to the incapacity of workers to ever benefit from the pensions they have been paying before the end of their very life…
- lead to a loss of around 30% of the monetary value of their pension for the next generation of workers.
- increase the inequality between classes by not taking into account the differences of life spans between different job categories.
- increase disparities in society by punishing the less wealthy of our society to more precariousness: women, labourers, POC…
We believe that, by pushing its citizens to work more and until an older age, the French government pretends to increase production. We don’t see how this productionist logic can co-exist with the urgent fight that we need to take against climate change and against global pauperization. We don’t see how we could solve our climate crisis by making everyone work more, produce more and for longer. Our actual government has done almost nothing to prove that it’s taking the environment question seriously and so we ask for a radical change of priorities.
The social dialogue
If we have decided to be on strike for the first time, it’s also because it seems that the social dialogue is stuck in France as in a lot of countries worldwide. Strikes and demonstrations have been an historical part of the democratic dialogue in France for about a century. But our latest governments have started to repress these movements with an automatic violence.
In order to perpetuate this violence, the police is making good use of some (pretty recent) war weapons: hand grenades, tear gas, LBD40 (https://maintiendelordre.fr/). The use of these weapons by the police against the people is legal in France in certain contexts. We could question these laws. But that we see is that the Police is not even following their own safety rules for the use of these weapons. Rubber balls are being shot towards the protestors’ heads, hand grenades are sent above the crowd; the illegal use of these weapons has frequently resulted in demonstrators injured for life or sometimes even killed protestors or bystanders. For now, not a single of these illegal uses of the violence has been condemned by the justice system.
According to journalist David Dufresnes, since the beginning of the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) movement (11/2018), The violence that the police has repeatedly exerted (against every public demonstration since then) has led to more than 870 reports of police brutality, leading to 2 deaths, 319 head injuries, 25 blinded eyes and 5 teared-off hands (source). Again, none of these acts have been condemned by the French Justice, while several international organizations such as the United Nations are condemning the French Government because of its use of violence against its citizens.
Even so, the French government is denying the existence of any police violence and it’s accusing the demonstrators and the society in its whole to be violent (see the point of view of president Macron about this question). This is not the point of view of the United Nations and of several associations like Reporters Without Borders, who have accused the French government or are suing it for its use of violence.
We are fully aware that France is not an isolated case and that this increasing of the violence of the states in so called democracies is a world-wide problem (Chili, Hong-Kong, Liban, USA…) and our strike fits in a global contest of a crisis of the social dialogue between states and their citizens. We would like also to acknowledge that theses acts of violence aren’t exactly new and where already perpetrated in the past on the more vulnerable inhabitants of our country (POC, immigrants, women) without further reactions from us, the safe ones.
Stopping the strike?
Why did we decide to stop this online strike while the government didn’t even to start to question its reform? Because we decided that we wanted to change our strategy in this battle. During these 3 months, we have deprived some of our loyal users from useful open-source tools for their projects and we’re OK with that. Velvetyne fonts can be found elsewhere that on our website (gitlab, vk…) and they can be freely exchanged between users as well. This shut-down serves also as a timely reminder that nothing posted lasts forever, a fact that we tend to forget. Decentralization is an answer to the ephemeral dimension of digital objects.
We likewise would like to think that we have encouraged some of you to be aware, or more aware of what’s happening in France. But we would want to articulate a bit more the motivations behind our action. We have decided to re-open because one of our main goals is to offer tools for the world to emancipate and blossom. We hope that, by releasing libre fonts as creative projects envisioned by thoughtful authors, we can give access to “indie typography” for people who would otherwise be deprived of it. We are not naive, we know that we are inevitably part of the market economy and that our fonts are used by capitalist companies as much as by non-profit organizations and students. That’s life, and we are OK to be part of the world.
This strike has also brought us to question our actions in genera. Thus we have decided to make some changes in the way we function. We are changing our editorial policy in order to decrease the pace of releases for our (libre) consumer goods, as part of an attempt to lower our impact on the world ecosystems. We will also start to publish Non-Font Objects on our website (NFOs?). And we will drastically increase our efforts into welcoming more diversity among the authors that we publish but also among the members of the core of the collective.
We have decided that the donations we will receive between now and the end of the social protests against this reform will be transferred to a solidarity fund for the French strikers. It is our way of helping French workers to bear these claims longer, without falling into misery. You can also participate directly through this fund: https://www.lepotsolidaire.fr/pot/solidarite-financiere