Our vests are no longer road safety suits; they have become a rallying sign to the movement that globally challenges the established order. The reason why they twinkle is not to alert the authorities on any emergency or social distress. We didn’t put them to demand something from the Power. The yellow of our vests is not the yellow that the workers’ movement usually attributes to treachery. The colour of this garment is that of the lava of anger that the volcano of social revolution, dormant for too long, is beginning to spew out again. It is yellow only because it embraces red.
Under this name “yellow vests”, a titan barely wakes up, still groggy from the coma in which he was plunged for more than forty years. This colossus no longer knows his name, no longer remembers his glorious history, and no longer knows the world where he’s opening his eyes. Yet, as he reactivates itself, he discovers the magnitude of his own power. Words are whispered to him by false friends, jailers of his dreams. He repeats them: “French”, “people”, and “citizen”! But by pronouncing them, the images that come back confusingly from the depths of his memory sow a doubt in his mind. These words have been used in the gutters of misery, on barricades, on battlefields, during strikes, in prisons. It’s because they are from the language of a redoutable adversary, the enemy of humanity who, for two centuries, has masterfully handled fear, force and propaganda. This deadly parasite, this social vampire, is capitalism!
We are not this “community of destiny”, proud of its “identity”, full of national myths, which has not been able to resist social history. We are not French.
We are not this mass of “small people” ready to close ranks with their masters as long as they are “well governed”. We are not the people.
We are not this aggregate of individuals who owe their existence only to the recognition of the State and for its perpetuation. We are not citizens.
We are the ones who are forced to sell their labour force to survive, those from whom the bourgeoisie makes most of its profits by dominating and exploiting them. We are the ones who are trampled, sacrificed and condemned by capital, in its survival strategy. We are this collective force that will abolish all social classes. We are the proletariat.
Aware of our historical interests, we warn that:
• The yellow vest movement will be defeated if it persists in believing that the interests of workers are compatible with those of the bosses. This illusion is already producing damage because Macron is using it to turn the protest against the exploited. The poor capitalists – opportunely portrayed as poor capitalists: small entrepreneurs, craftsmen and other self-employed entrepreneurs – victims of social “costs”, would share the same fate as their employees. They should therefore be generally spared and we should merely demand charity from the richest and most powerful of them. This allows the Power to insult us while pretending to respond to the demands. The alleged increase in the minimum wage [“SMIC”] will only be paid by wage workers. The decision to cancel the increase in the “CSG” [“Generalised Social Contribution”] masks the maintenance of the reduction in retirement pensions for the poorest.
• Based on this biased approach, a faction of yellow vests argues that a State spending less would reduce the tax burden on businesses, boosting economic activity and providing a win-win situation for everyone… This is a bad fairy tale. Because it is not the State that stifles small capitalists, but first and foremost the law of competition that makes them exist and thanks to which they can take market share, i.e. to develop. The social problem is thus wrongly presented by the movement so that the “badly governed State” is targeted instead of the capitalist system, and as a result the government’s programme to dismantle the “social welfare State” in the name of “optimizing public action” is consolidated. The social predation policies of removing the redistribution from the rich to the poor, hitherto carried out through social security and public services, are ironically strengthened. Similarly, measures to reduce the overall wage by reducing deferred wages (retirement, unemployment benefits, etc.) are therefore justified. It’s to make a rod for one’s own back.
• In this context, which puts the emphasis on the economic balance as long as it is well managed, what is wrong with the economy comes only from the outside: the tax State, the European Union, the “cosmopolitan” “Finance” (and behind that, it is sometimes the “Jews” and the “illuminati” who are referred to), the immigrants. The misunderstanding or the refusal to admit this glaring truth that capitalism – as a system producing wealth from the exploitation of human labour – is in crisis, leaves ample space for reactionary forms of safeguarding the prevailing order. Ten years of far right activism on the Internet put a lot of pressure on this suicidal state of confusion in which many yellow vests believe they can see a solution to their suffering.
• Among these “solutions”, the Citizens’ Initiative Referendum, promoted for a long time by the “fachosphère” [“extreme-right influence groups, mostly on internet and social networks”] and that ended up bringing together Mélenchon’s followers, is a hoax that allows the social question to be suppressed under an institutional grub. This democratic arrangement would not solve anything, even if it was adopted. It would just stretch the electoral elastic while maintaining the relation between social classes – its conditions as well as its stakes – with an extra strengthening of legal reformism, that poor relation of the already illusory economic reformism. It would be tantamount to a more direct endorsement of ordinary enslavement.
Aware of our tasks, we note that:
• The yellow vest movement ends at the workplace gates, i.e. where the totalitarian rule of employers begins. This phenomenon is the result of various factors. Let’s remember three of them: 1) The atomization of production, which sees a large number of employees working in (very) small companies where closeness with the employer makes it very difficult to strike. 2) The social insecurity of a large proportion of employees, which seriously deteriorates their ability to deal with conflict in the workplace. 3) Exclusion and unemployment, which put many proletarians out of production. A large proportion of yellow vests are directly affected by at least one of these three determinations.
• The other component of the wage-earners, the one that works in large corporations and has better job security (permanent contracts and status), seems to be cosseted, on which the powerful force of the movement breaks like the wave on the rock. A special treatment, consisting of managerial efficiency and shameful trade-union collaboration, is reserved for this segment of the working population. The bourgeoisie has understood that this category of workers has the power to strike at the very heart of capitalist production, through the indefinite general strike. This is why it consolidates pacification by giving lollipops in the form of “exceptional end-of-year bonuses”.
Aware of our goal, we affirm:
• To recognize ourselves in the calls of the yellow vests of Alès, Commercy and Saint Nazaire, whose concern to refuse any hierarchical organization, any representation, and to target the capitalists, is for us the sign of the way to go.
• To want to break the ideological, managerial and trade-union shackles keeping the yellow vest movement out of the production process. We must use the extraordinary as well as determined force developed by this movement to achieve what millions of exploited people have wanted for so many years, without ever having succeeded doing so: to paralyse production from inside, to decide on strikes and their coordination in general assemblies, to unite all categories of workers, with the same objective of overthrowing the capitalist system and re-appropriating the production apparatus. Let’s put an end to hierarchical, capitalist and State oppression.
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