Yellow vests. End of the first round?
Since Act III, the moment of the movement’s peak intensity in terms of blockade and riot, the government has deployed its counter-insurgency machinery as never before. It had to bring out the old manuals on the art of waging war on its people as well as those on the art of deceiving them.
If the government has indeed succeeded to contain Act V, this didn’t happen without weakening (maybe once for all) its “democratic” facade. It is not without repercussions, in terms of loyalty between the people and their rulers, to lie openly, to fake photos and figures, to arrest and wound so many demonstrators or simply to ban them massively from demonstrating.
The use of force
89,000 police officers deployed throughout France two weekends in a row. 9,000 for the city of Paris alone. It should be recalled, this is the first time in its history that France has used armoured vehicles in the capital. In Act IV alone, more than 2,000 people were arrested. A large part of them was arrested preventively for a simple possession of defensive materials such as dust masks. Hundreds of people were injured. Dozens of images will remain engraved, those of plainclothes police officers shooting without respite all over the place at demonstrators and journalists hiding behind a wall, or simply those of torn-off hands.
We cannot help ourselves to see in such violence the assumed political will to intimidate demonstrators, to frighten them, to dissuade them from taking to the streets. However, thousands of people converged on the capital again for Act V. In addition to this vast dissuasion operation, which was widely reported by the media, 50 metro stations were closed, with access to Paris being closed within the walls, literally forbidding thousands of people who came by bus from to simply demonstrate. Those who managed to overcome all barriers of this obstacle course were even confiscated the yellow vests.
Macron’s speech, although widely criticized, was not without a pacifying effect. On all the headlines, we could read “the SMIC increased by 100 euros”, “major progress achieved”. It is difficult to go back point by point over each of these announcements, but the one over the SMIC is probably the most absurd.
It is indeed the “employment bonus” (and not the SMIC) which has been increased by 100 euros (a large part of this increase was already planned anyway) and it concerns only 25% of the SMICards [minimum-wage earners] (those whose tax household is below a certain quota and who can actually benefit from this bonus). Other tricks were knowingly broadcasted by a number of major channels. It is only a matter of time before all the deceived get upset about, and who knows how.
The sad event that took place in Strasbourg last week was also the subject of indecent manipulation against the movement. In addition to the debates that may have marked the Facebook groups of Yellow Vests around the conspiracy theory, the government has recovered from this affair not only in order to reinforce the usual stigmatization of the Muslim population, to intensify its law-and-order headlong rush but also to place on the Yellow Vests the over-solicitation of the police which may have indirectly favoured such an attack. Thus, in addition to widely spread fear among the demonstrators, they added the guilt of a murderous attack. From then on, they justified in advance the possible violence and all-out beatings by exhausted police officers on those who did to go to protest.
End of the first round?
Although once again the figures for the mobilization of Act V were largely underestimated, it can be said that the movement recorded one of its first decrease in intensity. The approach of the Christmas period coupled with the counter-insurgency techniques we have explained here above inevitably impact the mobilization. The roundabouts try to resist the evacuation threats. It is a phenomenon of asphyxia that has fallen on the Yellow Vest movement whose anger has not dissipated at all. It is undeniable that the latter will continue to rumble underground until its next start (New Year’s Eve?). At the next government misstep, it is not uncertain that the common experience of the Yellow Vests will bring them this time until Macron’s resignation. Everything that has been experienced and continues to be experienced at roundabouts, blockades or riots has enabled a whole people to regain their political capacity, that is, their ability to act that even a RIC [“Référendum d’initiative citoyenne”] cannot contain.
Source in French: https://rouendanslarue.net/gilets-jaunes-fin-de-premiere-manche/
You were saying? Social revolutions are over, anachronistic, impossible?!!!
Who are the yellow vests, the government, journalists and politicians wonder hypocritically. Bosses, professionals, petty bourgeois, they said! Ultra-left or far-right, adventurers, professional rioters, troublemakers?!!! Ridiculous attempts to discredit the yellow vests: pathetic means against a mass movement!!!!
The main slogan of the yellow vests: “We’re fed up with poverty!” is clear: they are those who are starting to no longer bear having to live in deprivation…
It is already an insurrection of the miserable, the oppressed, the exploited!
What is “en marche” is the social revolution!!!
There was nothing that the united forces of repression, of reform, of negotiation, of base compromises and of opportunism could do: when necessary, the proletarian masses take back control of their own future, starting with gathering, talking to each other, deciding to act by themselves, without the political and social supervisors that the ruling classes had strived to put in their way.
We will never forget, for instance, that the heads of all the unions have done everything they could to make people believe that the yellow vests was a fascist movement, of enraged petit bourgeois, hostile to the working class!!! While this is failing, while this movement is the largest proletarian movement for a long time, they will have done their best to prevent it, to break it from the onset and throughout!
What bothers the unions in the yellow vests movement is the self-organising and the insurrection, and it is unmistakable after a common day of action like last Saturday, where the CGT central bureaucracy remained hostile, while local unionists often joined the yellow vests movement, and where the CGT refuses to link the strikes and the movement, or to instigate workers committees in companies. The CGT is absolutely opposed to self-organising and to insurrection. This must be remembered for what comes next: those reformist leftist or unionist organisations are not friends of the growing social revolution…
Yes, the insurrectional quality of the yellow vests is really departs from the mundane and short-lived movements initiated by the union bureaucracies for years, both multi-union- and solely CGT-led. Indeed, the unionist days of inaction were the exact opposite of this movement: neither inter-professional nor self-organised nor uncontrollable nor threatening to the power and the ruling classes, nor radical in their goals and their perspectives, nor explosive and extensive, nor dangerous in any way for our enemies.
The union bureaucracies have never wanted struggles to be controlled by its participants. They have never wanted for the whole country to be blocked, barricaded, in revolt. They have never wanted for the whole ruling class, all the profiteers to be called out. They have never wanted to make social revolts global, unite them in a single movement and throw it against the rich, the exploiters, the profiteers!!! They have never accepted the struggle’s spontaneity or acknowledged the capacity of workers to decide for themselves, to organise themselves and to lead their own social fights outside the union headquarters, specialists in worker defeats.
And they have never allowed for worker struggles, however large, to be feared by the ruling classes, whereas the yellow vests today are feared by the ruling classes even outside French borders! Because their example is spreading beyond borders!!!
In the struggle’s social content, the yellow vests are much more radical than the reformist lefts ever were, including the left’s left, the unions and the opportunistic far-left. Those respectable people had never called out taxes! Or banks either!
Macron outright dismissed the demands of the Gilets for more social services and less taxes, which he called childish and unreasonable: “We need to explain to people what their taxes are used for… If no one does it, everyone will believe that school being free or society paying for end of life care is normal.” In actual fact, the demands for less taxes and more public services are not childish; they require expropriating the capitalist ruling class…
Macron is certainly using the violent parts of these protests and blockades to denounce the movement and morally undermine it. But isn’t the true violence the one exerted by the rich and their government? Didn’t they drive peaceful fathers, pushed into poverty, to revolt? Didn’t they drive mothers, including single mothers, who can no longer afford the minimum expenses for their obligations, to take the streets, and to risk being beaten with sticks, gazed and even arrested!
Violence is the ruling classes proclaiming: we always need more, more billions in profit on the back of all those who work to survive!
It is no coincidence if everyone is starting to compare the political and social situation to the Ancient Regime, with a ruling class and its power so discredited that the oppressed and exploited masses only count on insurrection to impose the necessary change!
Throughout the country, connections are being created between all the exploited, oppressed, crushed, pushed over the edge. And now, the only real perspective is that the working class organises itself in workers committees, gathers in the companies, debates and decides on its demands and its program of action. Where this is beginning to happen, the unions’ reluctance is quickly challenged…
If Macron and his mandates, the exploiters, ended up sparking things off with their endless abuses, corruption, embezzlements, thefts and malpractice, the social revolution will be the one thing that they will have legitimately earned!!!
During the yellow vests movement, the bourgeoisie leads its repressive forces to suppress insurrections and accustoms the population to it… But it is also surely leading the workers to social insurrection!
We will soon rediscover the Parisian proletarian slogan from 1871: “Long live the Commune!”
Translated from: https://www.matierevolution.fr/spip.php?article5171
Yellow Vest or not? We need fuel to burn it all down
It’s been a week now that a movement against the unbearable living costs is shaping up nationwide in France, but also in several other European countries. This movement doesn’t look like anything we have encountered before. If the first observations were not uplifting, the materialization of the movement should allow us to reevaluate our position towards it.
In a world trapped under capitalism, in which the working class identity has been repressed for so long, it is logical that the traditional political landmarks of the working class movement are not represented anymore in the social uprisings of our period. Still, we all observed the subversive force of movements such as the LKP (Liyannaj Kont Pwofitasyon or Stand up against exploitation) in Guadeloupe or the recent Guyanese turmoil against the living costs. In this yellow vest movement, there are two very distinct steps: appearance and materialization.
The majority of the comrades hostile to the yellow vest movement are in such a position because they chose not to make the distinction between what is said (the much mediatized legitimacy discourse) and what is done (the blockages and the kind of actions they announce). This is, especially nowadays, a mistake. We cannot criticize the apathy of the traditional social movements and at the same time reject the new contestation spaces that, despite lacking clear political landmarks, are tackling the unbearable living costs of the proletarians. The objective of this article is to offer an alternative point of view concerning these events and to show why, if the movement orients itself towards the issue of the living costs, the presence of the leftist revolutionaries in this movement is logical.
The petition that led to the mobilization was written in May 2018. The petition didn’t went viral until the new increase in fuel prices. After that, the petition took a massive proportion and became the starting point of a concrete mobilization, in the streets and on the roads, against the increase in fuel prices. It is true that in a year, diesel oil prices rose up by 24% and gas prices by 14%. Of all French citizens, it is the proletarians that felt the most this increase in prices and saw their living standard lower. Confronted to the fatality of the fluctuating fuel market, the people quickly turned to the state that can use its taxes as a lever on prices, to try and reduce the fuel prices, specifically diesel oil prices. A fight against a new tax offers two major initial determinants: we address the state and we address the state in the most legitimate form possible for said state: the citizen. That’s where all this logorrhea about France, the French people, the French citizens, the police, the taxes, the state, those who pay everything and get nothing, those who get everything when they do nothing, comes from. This is typically a situation that far-right activists will try to use to claim political power, only possible outcome of their program. This is also the case of the France Insoumise party led by Mélenchon. The France Insoumise militants are the ones insisting on the person of Macron. They want to kill the King, but not the Kings. So we couldn’t be anything else than suspicious in front of such an explosive cocktail mixing borderline fascism, nationalism, populism and of course interclassism, in the not very appealing form of virtual actions on social networks. This feeling was reinforced by the benevolent treatment given by the government, the state and the medias to the movement. On the other hand, we cannot reject everything about something that has no finitude, no unity. We had to wait. Where others saw a vulgar power display of car lobbies, we analyzed fuel prices as a measure of the daily struggle of the proletarians. We already had hints that the yellow vest movement was opening a breach around a simple complaint: we are dying here. From the denunciation of the tax, we moved to the causes of the denunciation: the lowering of our living conditions. That’s when the 17th of November occurred.
Materialization: November 17
This day, thousands of people left their computer keyboards to meet up. There is no doubt that numerous far-right militants were there, notably Debout La France, but in reality most were undercover, as their solutions to the increase of the fuel prices could only appear as far-fetched. In pubs, parks, parking lots of mall, yellow vests started to gather. Not to discuss their program, but to discuss how they were going to block the roads. This self-organized “citizen” movement was already structurally different than Nuit Debout. At Nuit Debout, people were discussing. The yellow vests, they act. They block. More than 2,000 blockages, 280,000 people holding them, that’s something, despite what some commenters would tell you (all of that without the union apparatus nor the help of professional militants). We are not talking about a syndicalist march, we are talking about actions. Of course the benevolence of the police greatly improved the efficiency of the blockages, and the yellow vests only stopped to applaud the police when it started beating them. Blockage locations were meticulously chosen to paralyze traffic, to force the population to pick a side. On blockage locations, tolls stations and malls, permanent assemblies were set up to decide what actions to put in practice next to maintain the movement. No spokesman appeared, no centralization shaped up. At this point, the government and the medias abruptly changed their attitude. Benevolence was abandoned and replaced by threats. Fascist actions became heavily mediatized. Countless images of “unrest” at different blockage points were exposed and a necessary responsibility was asked of the yellow vests. But unlike at the direction board of the union CGT (Confédération Général du Travail), nobody is there to say “Mister Philippe (the prime minister), this is not the yellow vest movement”. If we go on the blockage points, we systematically heard a critique going much deeper than just the fuel prices. Everything is too expensive when you earn 1,000 euros per month. The yellow vest movement is not uniform, there are a lot of concrete disparities due to different areas, presence of far-right activists and social composition. But the determination is indisputable. To increase their strength and numbers, they waited for the truckers and the farmers, corporations deemed legitimate by the government, to join them. People were looking for support where they believe it to be, all the while calling for everyone to join the blockages.
Materialization: the follow-up
Blockages were maintained around the highways but a fraction of the yellow vests chose to throttle the economy on more concentrated points. Oil depots, logistical centers, food depots were blocked by protesters. And with a formidable efficiency compared to the repeated failures of the protests against the first anti-social policies of Macron. The police was ordered to temporize the situation the following Sunday and Monday, but the truckers bosses’ announce changed the perspective of the movement. The bosses promised to the government that they will not get involved in the yellow vest movement. “We want the truckers, not theirs bosses”. The movement, confronted to the rejection of the interclassist alliance, leaned more and more towards a proletariat-based movement. The yellow vests looked for ways to allow the truckers to join the movement, with the bosses’ trucks, by blocking the trucks on a common agreement. The FO (Force Ouvrière) transport union called for a strike against the decreasing purchasing power. At the same time, the CGT called for supporting the movement on the 1st of December, but without calling for a strike and the union carefully kept its distance from the movement (nevertheless, some local CGT sections fully embraced the movement: St Nazaire, Le Havre, Meuse). Calls to gather at Paris the 24th of November were multiplying and the panicking government hastily rounded up 90% of the CRS units (riot police) in the capital. In the meantime, the blockages were still holding strong. Policemen intervened, arrested, harassed. Convictions were applied. And people kept coming back. The government tried to divide the people by creating deterrent representations of the movement, but it didn’t hold up. A self-proclaimed Belgian yellow vest spokesman even called “freedom fighters” the very persons that a journalist described as thugs. On the Réunion Island, where the living costs are the highest, the blockages were followed by looting and large-scale redistribution. And the announce of the government that no more fuel taxes would be set up for the next three years has little impact of the mobilization.
A breach is opened
We are undoubtedly at a high time of the class struggle. But we can already see the signs of resorption here and there: centralization of the Parisian protest, calls to target local power centers, march on the Elysée, blockages of state buildings. The movement tries to maintain at all cost the figure of the citizen against the state because that’s the only form deemed legitimate. It’s a step back for a movement so full of potential. The following period will most likely see the appearance of counter-revolutionary political forms, interclassist compositions and far-right incursion. But it is certainly the burden of our time and it doesn’t make any sense to contemplate it whining. As supporters of the revolution, our duty is to fight these right-wing divergences and propose new orientation lines to expand the movement. Make this movement a movement against the too high living costs. But it doesn’t consists in simply joining the blockage picket lines. The social protest must be spread to other areas of daily life, with political slogans against the living costs, the degrading living conditions of the proletariat. Seeking high school and university students, unemployed, workers but not for their immediate individual interests. To extend the movement to fight the increasing living costs, not just as “yellow vest”. The panel of possible actions is large and it would be wrong to limit ourselves. Occupation, autoreduction, demonstrations, blockages, free transportations, and always towards the final push. The week following November 24th will be decisive for the pursuit and the quality of the movement.
So, yellow vest or not?
“Gilets jaunes”… “Communards”… “Sans-culottes”… “Va-nu-pieds”… “Wretched of the earth”…
Behind flowery labels stand our struggles against misery!
Barricades in fire on the Champs Elysées, luxury cars of set ablaze, luxury shops wrecked and looted, “the most beautiful avenue of the world” was burning from our desire to live and not survive anymore. “The City of Light” was much lighter than its masters ever wanted. And the fires of revolt have been burning since three weeks also in other places – in France and also in Belgium – warming up our hearts and minds.
Haven’t we just found a cure for the burn out at work? For the autumn blues? For this feeling that our lives are fading out wasted at work for a lousy pay or at school to become another unemployed? That we will never live anything else than this misery of life under the dictatorship of money?
These are the most important points that aroused our hope that all this is not a fatality, that a radical change of the society is possible:
* The movement has developed outside and in some sort also against traditional structures (parties, trade unions, media…) that capitalism equipped itself with in order to make any practical critique inoffensive.
* So far there were no “positive” demands, no speakers, no spokespersons, no negotiators, or they represented only a tiny (and sometimes not very appreciated, or even threatened by the most radicals) minority of the movement. Even if the media try to enclose the demonstrators in the framework of “struggle against taxes”, the universal motto is rather “fight against the poverty in general” in all its complexity (low wages, high prices, wasting our lives at work, alienation…) and therefore, in final consequences, it puts into question the capitalist order as such.
* The movement is organized regionally and it is overcoming the usual trade-unionists’ divisions according to production branches. It’s neighbors, friends or colleagues that meet each other on the blockades or barricades and what they have in common is not a particular interest of this or that professional branch but a general fed up with the misery of our lives that is implicitly shared by all the working class.
Attempts to restructure the movement so that it fits into the framework of capitalist structures of course exist – callings for making “clear and positive demands”, discussing with authorities, staying reasonable… But so far they didn’t have a lot of success. On the contrary the movement is not afraid to show to the so called moderates that this is no way, that they won’t give up their radicalism and that they will not let do those who want to divide the movement on this axe in order to destroy it.
* The movement, or its big part, is radical and therefore violent and it assumes it. It is not only that the “Gilets Jaunes” are not afraid of confrontation with police, many are not afraid to break, to burn, to root out; they have no respect for private property, they loot… But more important, they also claim it – some implicitly others openly, what makes the usual tactics of the bourgeoisie to divide the movement in “good demonstrators” and “bad vandals” difficult to use. Not everybody feels like to participate to the riots, but many consider the riot as a legitimate expression of the movement.
* Not only that the movement doesn’t stop to appeal the rest of the working class to join it and it is trying to spread and generalize (the protests develop in the “lycéen” sector). More and more callings for fraternization with repressive forces appear as well. There are people who reply to the CRS (antiriot police) complaining about their hard work that they can simply put down their guns and join the demonstrators. There are those who invite them to think about who is their real enemy. And there are others who call the soldiers to disobey to their masters in a case they would be deployed against the movement.
* Nothing is sacred for the movement, no symbols, no legends, no identity, no ideology that could not be burnt down, destroyed, rooted out. The best example from last weekend – the Arc de Triumph, the symbol of their bourgeois republic and its warlike omnipotence, was tagged, its museum ransacked and proletarians were dancing of joy on its roof.
These are the points to be developed and overcome in the continuing struggle. Let’s struggle together to avoid any recuperation of the movement by political parties or trade unions, let’s fight together against the frameworks of elections, reforms and demands that some would like to impose on us.
Let’s go until the final consequences of our critique!
Let’s organize, let’s discuss, and let’s feed together the fire of the revolt!
We are impatient to see, to live the next…
December 6th, 2018