Explanations by the Initiators of the Manifesto

An indispensable radicality

The text of the Manifesto for the Abolition of International Apartheid calls for an important change relative to the current state of affairs. This radicality, however, is necessary. We cannot, for instance, reproach to the officers of the state the fact they control and expell immigrants, and at the same time approve of those very laws that they are enforcing. We cannot demand the regularization of the clandestine immigrants who already live in the first world countries if we accept that the borders remain closed to those others who have not had the fortune or the skill to get through.

Most importantly, we cannot call ourselves supporters of human equality if we accept that the arbitrary criterion of birth continues to weigh so heavily on the fate of individuals. We cannot condemn the support the white population of South Africa gave to apartheid if we do not challenge the support we give to another apartheid, just because this apartheid suits us.

Ethics: a necessary basis for political action

The Manifesto is based on a clear and rational ethical reasoning which is accepted, in theory, by almost all in our societies: that it is arbitrary, and unjust, to priviledge one individual relatively to another if there exists no relevant difference between them. A clear ethical basis is, we believe, a necessary condition for political action.

Ethics is in no manner a sufficient condition for political action, as is evident from how long it took for the anti-apartheid struggle in South-Africa to eventually overcome. However, a clear perception of the justice of the anti-apartheid cause was, quite evidently, a key factor in its victory. Deprived of an ethical basis, on the other side, political struggles are compassless. If the desire for justice that each and every one of us harbours does not dare express itself clearly, it will retreat towards a mere attitude of personal purity - "Don't ask me to denounce immigrants!" - and even, eventually, die out. It is no wonder, for instance, that today a majority of French citizens declare to be "somewhat, or fully, racist."

Today, however, a few voices here and there are speaking up to call for theworldwide free circulation of persons. This demand no longer appears purely idealistic. The struggle will be long; this manifesto aims at strengthening its foundations.

The fate of the Manifesto

This manifesto will not be put on the desks of the Members of the Parliament or of Governement; these representatives will vote and enforce just laws when the population will call for just laws.

This manifesto speaks to the population in general, of all countries, whether developed or not. In practice, this implies that we must collect as many signatures as possible, and publish the Manifesto with them in the press, possibly on a commercial basis. We must also translate its text into as many languages as possible and spread it in all countries.

This work, and the collection of money to buy space in the press, will be the task of the Committees for support to the Manifesto.

The initiators of the Manifesto

Yves Bonnardel and David Olivier are two activists long engaged in struggles for equality, against racism, sexism, speciesism and other forms or arbitrary discrimination (homophobia...). It was more specifically through their experiences as animal liberation activists, in the journal Les Cahiers antispecistes ("The Antispeciesist notebooks"), that brought them to grasp the impossibility of doing politics without a clear ethical reasoning, and eventually to formulate this call.

Lyons, the 24th of February 1997