France’s Gilets Jaunes: Who they are, why they fight and how they can win26
10/12/2018 by socialistfight
By Viriato Lusitânia
In order to summarize the events to this date, December 6, 2018, we must start from the beginning.
For many years, a deep, hidden but demoralized dissatisfaction has been hiding in the depths of French society at all levels.
The most affected groups were probably (les “laissez pour compte”) the ones which has nothing to live but state charity, the unemployed youth, those who had lost their jobs and are unable to find new ones, some small farmers, some middle classes crushed by taxes, poor workers who cannot get by on their very low wages, pensioners, the disabled, single women with children, poor students and/or those who have to work in addition to their studies, etc. Many of the demonstrators who mount the blockades belong to these categories.
Then came the employees who have not received a real pay increase for decades and who suffer more and more from precariousness, poor working conditions, constant fear of unemployment, bullying, but who are more or less able to get by. Small bosses dependent on a large group, expressed like dry lemons by a war to low costs that makes them actual employees of large capitalist groups and banks. It is the so-called “middle class”.
Before them lay the insolent wealth of a whole bunch of narrow, insolent and despicable bourgeois categories, the most visible being the bosses, prominent journalists, artists, sportsmen and women, the latter two, much more accepted than the first two because people, not all, think their emoluments are justified.
The press that all day long promotes capitalist propaganda (neo-liberal as some call it) and the defense of all measures against the working and so-called middle classes; as well as most, if not all, politicians have lost all their prestige in front of these impoverished masses or that are becoming so.
In politics, this translates into people voting by default, by rejection or by the “you have to choose someone”, knowing that the next elected official will do the opposite of what he promised, when he promises something, and who will draw from the state coffers for their own benefit. Often people no longer vote and with each election there are more abstentionists.
The boards of directors of large capitalist corporations impose their needs on politicians who, faced with the difficult choice for those who claim to be left-wing, to push for a complete upheaval in society or to accept the “model” and reap all the benefits of their corruption, have never hesitated for this choice and have become fond of it; similar to the right, which makes exactly the same policy except for a few societal nuances.
The disoriented mass is demoralizing, the traditional left-wing parties live comfortably on sinecures and juicy “national representation” positions and only think of perpetuating this situation in the upcoming elections.
Social struggles, when they arise, are used in their electoral campaigns. Societal problems become a kind of consolation prize that is distributed sparingly to assert that society has “changed” and that we are “moving in the right direction”.
In fact, society as a whole is moving back towards the situation of the 19th century if we think of the relations between classes, the progressive impoverishment of the broad social strata, the relative impoverishment of all employees.
If we add to this the economic crisis, which has resulted in an orgy of public funds and workers’ levies for the exclusive benefit of a narrow minority, which does not reinvest it, which plays it in financial speculation or in the display of indecent luxury, we can say that all the conditions for a social explosion were set.
The powder was dry but the spark did not appear
The few political organizations with a number of militants, around a thousand each, who could have conducted a policy for workers (LO, NPA, POI-D) or had imported the ideological elements of bourgeois intellectuals, this was most evident in the indirect and even direct support for imperialism’s aggressive policy in Libya and Syria, for their nationalism, as well as in their sectarianism or the extreme opportunism that isolated or reduced them to nothing after a few years.
The masses, after having supported them during an election, in the face of the direct observation of their division and sectarianism, moved away from them almost instantly. This has reinforced their centrist sectarianism for some and their right-handed opportunism for others, condemning them both to nothing both in the electoral process and in the social movement.
The result of their politics is a social preaching detached from the political activity of the masses and, for the centrists, an artisanal or anarcho-syndicalist work that is called “Trotskyism”.
Thus, not only have they handed over the revolt to the right that is developing at this very moment, but also, at its beginning, they were completely mistaken in perspective, even though today they try to say otherwise.
They confused everything and even wrote:
“It is right that workers militants should not want to mobilize so that transport bosses can pull the chestnuts out of the fire, or so that the far right can advertise itself. But that is no reason to desert the field of the government’s policy challenge. If workers do not make their voices heard with their demands and their own ways of acting, others will be in the spotlight. And it is possible, if the truck owners reduce the power over taxes, that this could even turn against the workers.
In order not to let these forces, which are hostile to the world of work, take action, we must offer workers the opportunity to mobilize on their own ground.”
“Jean Sanday newspaper Lutte Ouvrière November 7.
They hit the CGT’s trumpets to oppose the movement of the Yellow Vests. That is, not the real working-class movement as it is a step forward, but what they, who know better, want the movement to be.
The NPA wrote in a leaflet on November 6:
“BEWARE OF ANGER DIVERSION
Faced with these attacks, anger, legitimate, increases.
Calls to “demonstrate” on Saturday, November 17, “block roads or roundabouts” or “put a yellow vest on your dashboard” are circulating. These calls are limited to the issue of fuel prices, which is the main target of road employers, and which has led to support from various extreme right-wing movements or personalities.
We refuse to demonstrate with the extreme right, the fiercest enemies of the workers movement, of any social progress. Moreover, the defence of our purchasing power cannot be limited to the mere lowering of fuels.”
Only the POI, very weakened by a recent split, supported the movement. The POID (the split off from the Lambertist POIU)until today sings the chorus of the CGT….
Since the demonstration of November 17, in the face of the evidence, they have changed their discourse but have not fully engaged in the struggle. For some because they lack the militant capacity and militant discipline; for others, because they consider this movement, which is spreading as powder set on fire, everywhere and seriously threatening the bourgeois power, as if it were just another job in the middle of their daily routine.
The union leaders made exactly the same speech but with more determination. They play their role as class struggle firefighters and guarantors of “social tranquility”. Both the bourgeois press and ministers regret their lack of control over events because they would like “interlocutors to be deceived” and know the long record of service of trade union leaders with the bourgeoisie….
The result is that today, when the need for an organization that can guide this popular revolt is acute, we are faced with a complete political vacuum.
The extreme right that had offered itself from the beginning to take that leading part, lacks organization and militants but above all the revolted masses do not want them. It has failed all along the way, even its brutes have been severely rejected by the struggling workers, because the very nature of the movement leads it to demands always made by the left: increase in wages, pensions, and increasingly putting forward the political question of power, decision-making centers, policies that affect the lives of workers and poor and middle-class citizens.
So,’ organised’ from Internet and Facebook, people completely frustrated by the countless injustices, loss of purchasing power, etc. found themselves at more than 300 thousand in the street to protest against the situation. The absolute majority were workers who made demands well beyond the fuel tax. It was the question of the loss of purchasing power of the large majorities.
The state of mind of the demonstrators can be summed up in two slogans: “Macron resign!” a political slogan that targets power right now, and “We’re not giving up! “, a demonstration of the accumulated anger and a clear sign against the “one-day union walkouts” that unions are used to.
These so-called “action days” are used to make people believe that they are “opposed” and to do yet another similar one, a month later, until they tire the workers, who are less and less disgusted with the manouvers of the bureaucrats in tacit connivance with employers and the government.
The movement, as might be expected, has moved slowly but steadily forward, moving away from opportunists, from the far right without breaking the movement, moving more and more to left-wing demands and now, after street fighting that leaves no doubt about their motivation, involving other categories such as students and workers who, carried away by example and eager to fight even over the heads of their directions, join the struggle.
Already, the government has backed away by removing the advanced petrol taxes, the Prime Minister hangs from a thread and openly disagree with Macron who will toast him in the grill to save himself. But Macron has almost no political support either among the population at 80% against or in the political class who wait like leaning vultures for the death of the despising adventurer.
But this will not stop the movement any time soon. On next Saturday we can expect an even bigger demonstration as unions and students join in. The government has announced harsh repression, but can it afford the threats? Will that stop the demonstrators? Can the government, the capitalists it represents, afford to go so far? Here, only the very careful study of all the variants, not generalities, makes it possible to draw an idea, even if no one can walk back and the demonstration will take place.
But the political bankruptcy of the entire left, which did not understand that this movement had to be invested with fair and thorough demands, because anyone could feel the open expression of social anger to the point of exploding, cannot be replaced because of a lack of valid options.
Many small groups have emerged with accurate analyses that are present or participating in the movement, but they cannot replace the larger battalions of other organizations.
One could hope of more if the involvement of the working class is on the scale of May 68, because today, the movement is condemned to triumph on the basis of demands that are increasingly advanced, otherwise an electoral process will raise all the fears and conservatism from the ground and will still bring an enemy of the workers to the presidency. I can also if the movement go further enough go to a new “left” social democrat experiment, but the odds are lesser.
These reflections, these ideas, I make them before a date that can be pivotal in both directions but which make it possible to follow the political path of a movement where the masses have always found themselves more advanced than the directions and which continue to advance.
What is the logic of the tactic of blocking roads?
This comes from the nature, origin, of the movement.
It is a tradition here of some protests to open the toll barriers to let pass free the cars. Many people sees the tolls as taxes or that the companies take a lot of non justified money from the car drivers. Here in France they has been privatized by one of the lates governements.
The blocking is also a form that comes from the idea of blocking the economy. Before it has been practized by lorry drivers when they went on strike years ago and usually it is made to stop raffineries and create a gas shortage to push the government.
At first, the movement was totally spontaneous and no one knows where to meet. The first idea, as always, is to do what more or less has succed before. Then the most clear were points where we can slow down or stop the trafic. Or make it free because the first impulse was against “taxes” and rises in gas and toll fees also.
Most of the time, there are only slowdowns, not to bother the public but the government. Those blockage points (there are others near raffineries or big works) permit to reunite the gilets jaunes which come as they like (no discipline at all, merely volontary participation) and receive the support of the car drivers in all forms. Almost every hour there are someone who brings food or wooden pallets to warm ourselves, or money and every half minuit there is one claxoning his support or waving a yellow vest.
Some lorry drivers stop their vehices stopping also the trific of crossroad and descend to take a coffee we offer him. He talks an average 5 minuites and then he goes. Then another stop his car to discuss with us and the day goes by in that way. It is a slowdown or a stop. It depends on our mood, the number of policement presents and what is happening.
A fight it is what it is and we must adapt ourselves to the forms that it takes, mainly coming from the direct souvenirs or experience of the masses who has no political background and where the left partys has abandoned in the beginning and also afterwards (they are simply not present in force and in time).
With time, this forms inadequates change under the pressure of the rank and file and the intervention of militants. Then there are ‘actions’ (as taken the main local authorities sièges to protest) or demonstrate, or it is just a point where you can discuss about the mouvement.
To know the movement, better than words, a song
Viriato says: “But the political bankruptcy of the entire left, which did not understand that this movement had to be invested with fair and thorough demands, because anyone could feel the open expression of social anger to the point of exploding, cannot be replaced because of a lack of valid options.”
Why is the “Left” politically bankrupt? What is it about the whole “left-wing” movement that is so useless and backward, so that they end up being totally defeatist about the “yellow vest” rebellion and incapable of offering correct leadership? The answer lies in Lenin’s axiom: “Without revolutionary theory, there will be no revolutionary practice”.
The “left” is just not for Marx’s world socialist revolution at all. It is petty-bourgeois (how appropriately French!) and completely lost to reformism and revisionism because of its anti-Soviet anti-communism. It doesn’t know the first thing about arguing against anarchism, because it is so anarchic itself, seeing as it is always opposed and cynical about Marx’s dictatorship of the proletariat and Leninist party building (which is for scientifically trained cadres of leadership as opposed to the “no leaders” tosh of the anarchists).
The fake “left” is so anti-communist and middle-class that even when imperialist “over-production” economic crisis bursts into the open with such clear signs of the system breaking down as Brexit, French rebellion, fascist parties on Europe’s streets, desperate right-wing coups in Latin America, US fascist-imperialist blitzkrieging through the Middle East, and Trump’s trade war escalation that it still wants to treat the French events as an isolated “episode” and avoids talking about socialist revolution like the plague. The “left” instead wants to cling to the bigger fake “socialist” parties and stinking corrupt parliamentary politicians.
How about Socialist Fight injecting all these global, theoretical and Marxist themes into a far deeper and more extensive coverage of not just France but all topical events; putting such “lead” articles at the top of the SF website – and seriously debating and re-analysing all the revisionist mistakes that have devastated the world communist movement?
In the light of the “yellow vest” mass rebellion shouldn’t genuine revolutionary politics be revitalised, and all reformist clinging to social-democratic Labourism and Corbyn (as treacherous as any Labour party leadership in history) be expunged?
What is really going to win in France, if not immediately then eventually, and which needs to be raised with all workers NOW? The Leninist party-led dictatorship of the proletariat.
What menaces the workers movement and is an obstacle to it smashing capitalism and wielding its own workers state power? All other forms of politics: reformism, anarchism, fascism, parliamentary democratic illusions, PC-ism, revisionism – but most of all anti-Soviet anti-communism.
Are any Trotskyist parties covering themselves in glory by what they explain to workers now about the events in France? Hardly: they are so befuddled and shallow, they are beyond a joke. And it is saying something along those lines that is the best part of Viriato’s analysis.
Having said that, I note that Viriato says: “Many small groups have emerged with accurate analyses that are present or participating in the movement, but they cannot replace the larger battalions of other organizations.”
“Accurate analyses”? – really?? Viriato should give the gist of what they are saying. Are they talking about global capitalist collapse and warmongering; are they talking about the need for Leninist science? Are they pouring scorn on anarchism, reformism and revisionism? Are they talking about the need for socialist revolution and explaining how the “yellow vest” rebellion highlights that the world works in revolutionary ways, just as Marx’s dialectical materialism explained?
For example, one key theme of the “yellow vests” is that while accepting genuine asylum seekers, they don’t think all immigration to France should be simply “welcomed”. That happens to be Marx’s and Lenin’s position too; Lenin says: “The only real and genuine form of solidarity is to fight for the revolution in your own country and to fight for the revolutionary line in all countries without exception”. It is NOT revolutionary to idealistically urge workers (hit by slump and capitalist exploitation and wage-cutting) to “welcome all (competing) migrants”. That is reformist tosh that leaves workers prey to fascist divisive muck-stirring if not countered.
Workers need to fight for socialist revolution; and Third World countries suffering terrible conditions (and imperialist bombing campaigns) need their own workers to fight for revolution too – their emigration is a safety valve for their own countries and delays revolutionary progress when they send cash back home etc.
Real Marxism needs to win over the workers in the “yellow vest” movement to revolution, and show the most advanced workers the power of Marxist-Leninist thinking. It also needs to undercut all the stupid racist arguments of the fascists to help workers break from those middle-class influences.
OK ,but your wishful ‘thinking’ is tiresome and useless.
You should undertand what is a real class movement. Books just give a synthèse and a synthèse, a notion, is always, to be studied, more acurate than crude reality but, it is not exactly what happens.
That a party is needed …you are “opening open doors” as french says (enfoncer des portes ouvertes) or a Lapalissade from the well known Marquis de La Palise.
That we know, the question is how to build it in the conditions of real class fight. Not, not going to the working class, not giving magnificent theories when people is not yet prepared to accept them, not trying to go faster than the movement, only a step forward with the masses quicklier with some more advanced proletarians.
It is not, I can assure you, just serving generalities at every moment of the struggle. Tht is just what should not be done but every “gauchiste” (senile sickness of leftism) do because they are laizy and impatient men or woman that do not want to study the actual facts and they ‘think’ that crying what he badly ‘knows’ or taken from bad readed books, is enough.
You semms not to understand the complex, variegate nature of the Gilets jaunes nor the process that is going inside and outside them.
The main characteristic of the whole movement is that it is moving always and in the good direction but not as fast as we wish because of the lack of activist due to the bnakrupcy of the whole left. Many individuals and many very little organisations are trying there best, but in a real class fight you need armies not justs platoons.
Even as it is, it is going in the good direction, putting aside (not everywhere but this will come) the right and the extrême right that were from the beginning a minority. Then you can here racists and stupid words.
A sectarian would “fight” the rightists with it’s own methods not giving the masses the oportunity to learn in the fight. In some places some extreme right has been expulsed from demos by means of putting them knock out.
In other places, they come, are not herd and they go. In others, perhaps, I have no information from everywhere, they still are in.
But the tendancy of the whole movement is going to the left because the needs of the ones who are there, mostly very low income proletarians, pushes the demands to the left.
This has been understood by the right (Wauquiez chief of the LR principal left party here) and Marine Le Pen, both have been against the little rise in minimal wage and they have both demanded that Gilets Jaunes do no demonstrate tomorrow because of “terrorism” which is not clear that it actually was…most of all, gilets jaunes mistrust every information coming from government and the press…even if it is true, as things goes.
Masks have fallen and the Gilets Jaunes have just ignored them and we will demonstrate tomorrow.
You tell us that to win, the leninist party should etc.
But, where is that leninist party? Please tell me where it is to find it. Put your feet on the ground (descendez du lampadaire) get down from the lamp post, and take a look at the real thing. There is none of that kind. A party is something with a “critical mass” suficient to irrupt in the political life of a nation without provoking a burst of laugh from it’s enemies and groups or individuals are far from what is a working class party.
That they are working for? OK. But they are not yet what it is needed and in France, those little partys exists but in Paris.
All my post aim just this, give a most accurate picture of what I am seeing with videos, witnessings, reportages as close to what I can perceive, to help every possible comrade in the understanding of what is happening in France that, in my opinion is of a tremendous importance and not the least to combat “gauchisme” this plague that has for so much time hinderd, retarded the political worker’s class movement.
And for the demands, perhaps you have red the 42 demands, that are not ‘officially’ the Gilets Jaunes demands but one try that is one of the numerous initiatives coming from everywhere that could serve us to advance some but not all of the ideas that are in.
We take the grain and through the stray. You have red good books but even in goods books there is not always all the meanderings of a real movement.
That’s the problem with gauchisme, you want that the multiform reality goes as defined in the books, but it doesn’t in the way you want. Perhaps you would ‘confirm’ the books (you distrust them a little) stablishing than the facts stick to the books.
In facts not only are stuborn but also goes there own way and laugh at dogmatism that is in fact distrust of theory as it should be taken, as a ghuide to action.
I understand perfectly well your point of view and your good will revolutionary spirit, but give a walk in any place where a strike goes on and observe the forms a workers strike take, be silent, take notes and think by yourself.
Perhaps, when the british Gilets Jaunes comes along you can be a good activist BETWEEN them and not a “good councelor” (or a bore) alooft of them.
sorry for the necessary polemic tone, comrade.
I will put here mostly theoretical developpments concerning the working class movement in France.
On the other article (Let’s, etc.), I will put facts observed, press articles, videos and photos.
If you want to know the right or left nature of a movement, any type of movement just take a look where partys and organisation are pushed or driven.
CGT direction is now talking (just talking) of a joint movement with Gilets Jaunes). We are looking forward to it…
But not only Unions are pushed to the left, partys also.
Here is a ‘translation’ concerning the LO annual congress.
Almost all the discussion was around Gilets Jaunes as they let it supose.
That’s the real sign that masses were and are fighting in the correct perspective and were at the beginning and most of the time, more advanced than partys, a totally anomalous situation but the one that occurs only in revolutionnary periods or in periods that announce not so far big class movements (I do not want to exagerate).
” The annualLutte Ouvrière Congress, held on December 8 and 9, passed policy texts that will be published in the next issue of our magazine Lutte de Classes. But a large part of the discussions focused on the political and social situation.
The anger movement of the yellow vests has put on the table the problem of the purchasing power of the working classes. Hundreds of thousands of people have mobilized at roundabouts across the country for weeks and on demonstration days. And this movement has enjoyed considerable popularity among millions of workers, small craftsmen, small traders and retirees.
From the beginning, Lutte Ouvrière has been campaigning for the working class to take inspiration from this protest to promote its own interests. The problem of purchasing power is, for the exploited, that of wages. The only way for them to achieve a decent standard of living in the face of rising prices and taxes is to fight for a general and massive increase in wages and their indexation to prices.
On the roundabouts where yellow vests are mobilized or in the companies where they are present, the militants of Lutte ouvrière defend the idea that the working class must challenge government and employer policy on its own territory, that of companies, where it is concentrated and where it can directly attack the capitalist class. Workers cannot hope to improve their lot if they do not aim to make it pay. All the measures that will be taken from the government will be nothing more than smoke and mirrors or will turn against the workers if they do not mean taking from the capitalists’ profits.
The movement of yellow vests is a result of the economic crisis, which will necessarily lead to further social explosions of the same type. The world capitalist system is in a dead end from which it does not know how to get out. And the growing parasitism of the bourgeoisie, which weighs on the working class and all the working classes, aggravates the chaos into which society is sinking. Despite the decline in class consciousness, workers remain the only social force capable of opposing it by challenging the domination of the capitalist class. Our task is to campaign for the working class to become aware of its role and the need to overthrow it.
It is to express this perspective as clearly as possible that the Congress decided that Lutte Ouvrière will present a list at the next European elections under its own flag, to make the political interests of the workers’ camp heard. Our comrade Nathalie Arthaud will be at the top of this list, which will include national and regional spokespersons for Lutte ouvrière.
Comrades from the same countries as Lutte Ouvrière, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Reunion Island, Côte d’Ivoire, Haiti, the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Spain and Turkey, spoke during the congress to describe the social and political situation in which they are militating against the working class. The effects of the crisis of capitalism have as political consequences a rise in reactionary ideas and the electoral push of the extreme right in Europe, the hardening of dictatorships or the development of armed militias in some countries.
The working class, which is an international class, can only represent an alternative to this barbarism in which capitalism sinks humanity”
They haven’t seen it come, they have corrected their course but they haven’t still put their whole energy in the movement.
They have an intellectual understanding of the phenomenon “The movement of yellow vests is a result of the economic crisis, which will necessarily lead to further social explosions of the same type.” they come and see with some little participation but a real communist party should put the greatest effort in a movement that would lead to social explosion again.
The principal in this good document, that lacks only the full practice that should go by, is that it is a sign of the profound correctness of the gilets jaunes fight and of the profound mistakes of Unions, Left partys and militants which had mistrust this movement.
This also, of course let see a fight between at least two different conceptions inside them. The good news is that the better one wins the fight. That will further shows in my humble opinion.
Here, excerpts from an analysis of the number of participants in the last Yellow Vests event.
Done by the NPA’s Permanent Revolution.
“For the government, the main objective was to make Act V a demonstration of the exhaustion of the Yellow Vest movement. While Macron was well aware that his Monday announcements alone would not allow the yellow vests to enter the niche, as evidenced by the still impressive number of police forces deployed this Saturday, he tried everything to script this breathlessness on the Paris scene. All schemes have been used, on an even larger scale than in recent acts. First, physically prevent the yellow vests from reaching the place of the demonstration, around Paris as in Paris itself, then, split and nest the various processions to prevent any junction and convergence. What he was aiming for: the image of 500 demonstrators walking around on the almost deserted Champs Elysées. That was not the case.
But if the government and the media chose to rely on Paris to script the “exhaustion” – difficult, in fact, for the Yellow Vests to maintain the same degree of offensive against the State armed with all its repressive means with its armoured war tanks -, it was to better hide the increase in mobilization in other regions of the hexagon such as Bordeaux,
Toulouse>http://www.revolutionpermanente.fr/Direct-Nasses-lacrymogene-et-chars-deployes-La-repression-frappe-a-Toulouse%5D, and at a lower level Marseille. A newspaper like the 20 minute newspaper, although not very suspicious of Bolshevism, even talks about “tidal wave” in Bordeaux. Le Figaro, for its part, tries to show that the mobilization was more important in Bordeaux and Toulouse than in Paris. The versions are inconsistent. Sign that the media and the government are not so comfortable with the mobilization of yellow vests, far from dying out… as they predicted.
Emmanuel Macron’s announcements in the week, proposing in particular an increase in the minimum wage which borders on smoking, did not seem to have the expected effects to really “restore state authority”. Otherwise, how else can we understand the injunctions of Edouard Philippe and Christophe Castaner, Minister of the Interior: “The roundabouts must be liberated”, on the evening of the mobilisation. If the mobilization was running out of steam, there would have been no need for injunctions. On the contrary, they expressed a defensive position, a fear that the movement would continue despite Macron’s retreat.
It is clear that the movement of the yellow vests expresses an ever stronger determination and begins to raise its level of consciousness, as we have seen with yellow vests imposing their right to demonstrate by forcing processions or, on their knees, in Opera Square, in solidarity with the high school students of Mantes la Jolie. However, this should not obscure the need to find the means to strengthen mobilization by structuring it even more from below by generalizing organizations, such as GAs or action committees. This is the only way to convince more broadly, to counter the government’s schemes, and especially to maintain troop morale.”
tThis morning, the Minister of the Interior Castaner has publicly expressed his willingness to end with all the deadlocks.
This policy, which is being implemented step by step, has already begun and he intends to pursue it at a more intense pace.
This is the consequence of pressure from employers but also, to a certain extent, of the repressive campaign in Paris which prevented Parisians from being as numerous as other Saturdays. Castaner convinces himself that his “media campaign of terror, the “violence” he provokes will undermine the spirit of the Gilets Jaunes.
This week will see what is of this. Just ‘encore’ a threat or a move to test the determination of the determination of Gilets Jaunes. People in the blocades just say: If they come hear, we put fire on the camp if we cannot win, and we just move to other near place.
In the afternoon there was the first “Assemblée Générale” (General meeting) of the lyonnais Gilets Jaunes. There was some amount of too much talking and confusion in the more or less 300 workers attending.
All sort of opinion comes to the fore, but there were some good speaches for increase in wages and “convergence” (all together) calls. Some of us marked that to converge will need some watchwords that could be taken by all and that only that could be were rises in wages and pensions, to increase our number and prepare a general strike.
Some good interventions coming from workers but also some talking about chimeras as the RIC project that is in fact à smoke curtain (un enfumage). RIC, to be a law, needs a change in the Constitution, and this change only could come from the will of the president and two-thirds of both chambers, today dominated by LREM the party of Macron…
And there are people who let themselves be fooled by such “plans sur la comète” (illusory schemes). The Prime Minister, of course has said that he will study the question, form a parlementary commission but that the project could not be approuved in it’s actual state”
a trap for fouls.
But the thing is fading away as quickly as it is criticized. But …what a waste of time and energy!.
Perhaps it should be of some interest to relate what happened in the Lyon’s General Assembly of Gilets Jaunes to give a touch with reality to those who have just a book’s knowledge of a social movement.
I am forced to make some guess suppositions because I don’t have all the details, but I will try to be the most workers partial (impartial) as I can.
This Assembly (or meeting?) has been called by a group of young Gilets Jaunes, mainly students with even a layer which want to lecture us about “RIC” Réferendum d’Initiative Citoyenne” from which I have write before.
They distributed a leaflet in saturday’s demo and made their best for it with succes. The room, in the Bourse du Travail was chokablock from real Gilets Jaunes and people who goes to every demo of the workers movement.
When things started, the organisers propose a table of matter with some 7 to 9 points in Two and a half hours time! It was absolutely impossible to do.
Biut they were young, nervous, with no experience at all on this kind of excercise and they stick adamantly to their plan (otherwise they would not know how to continue). No way to change that absolutely non sensical plan for a one or two points regarding the Gilets Jaunes future and ways of fight.
Then there interventions coming from every one who was fighting for their own problems and others that “congratulate” the Gilets Jaunes because they have learn french people how to fight (always french people to the point that it have to be remember that “immigrés” were also there), this is somewhat true and one of the more importants wins of the movement.
The best intervention comes from a railroad worker that said they have touched a bonus of 400 euros because of the pressure of the Gilets Jaunes.
But time passed, some interventions were marked by the future elections, even if they don’t say it, and other, in the same line propose “actions” where the question were related. As to go to again see Wauquiez (political chief of the big Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region and chief of LR-the right party) to do a sit-in because the budget of the region was in discussion. The France Insoumise and some future candidates were behind this trick, but the masses do not see this manouver but as an “action” of the Gilets Jaunes. No political partys present or just one or two “observers” it was tactically impossible to demask.
The whole meeting was composed of workers and students.
After this and the 9 persons coming from differents sectors of workers or oppresed, it comes a round of “speaking corner” and every one who has someting to say in whatever direction or that has nothing to say but wants to say it nevertheless, took the micro “just for 2 minutes, because there was no time left” and we hear … every thing, from the ones with “500 euros as revenue that wanted a strike on consomation” (sic) or that we do not go to supermarkets to some more sensible people who insists on the distribution of national wealth and to put our demands on that line that is, rises on wages and pensions.
At this moment, half the meeting have quitted, not because they were not interested but because they were fed up with the non sens and the “bavardage” = chatter, gossiping. As it has been prevented but not hear at the beginning of the meeting.
Others then came to say justy that. That in that kind of meeting one or two points are enough and that people should stick to those points and not “developpe” whatever are their schemes to change the world. There was even one who talk about “the heroic participation of marxists leninists in the Kurds fight” (that complicity with US imperialism) letting cold and flabergasted the whole assembly who “respecting freedom of speech” (and of delirium tremens) kept silence, the one who made the speech happy and they passe to the other one.
When there were no more than half an hour left, they passed to “actions” and there everyone rest passif because “actions” are always decided by very few persons who “knows” . Someone propose to go to some In dustrial Zones with a loudspeaker to call the workers out to rejoin or to push for the bonus that Macron has “given” saying that this bonus depended on the good will of workers, but these motions was not retained because not much “newsworthy”.
The ones who propose this “action” that in my humble opinion is a good way to “converge” (unite workers with Gilets Jaunes one of multiple things discussed, should insist.
But, even as I have related it, this assembly is not only just a words concours but a step forward. Here a communist party would have oriented the meeting and take the “actions” in the good direction. The problem is that there are none, because the partys at most envoy “observers” that do not open their mouth and report that all is a nonsensical match of words and non sensical chatter with no decision, which in some way is true. But They do not see (or do not want to see) it is just the beginning of what can be, if well directed, a center of good decisions and actions.
But the masses learn in the action and if the movement continues despite the sabotage of “left” partys they would surely do better.
I don’t know what to think of this, but I give you as information.
In round points blocking there is always a police car with “national police” elements not Gendarmerie the militar police.
They are always polite even they come to take a coffe, talk with us in very cordiao moods, some times long conversations where they told us of their own problems.
WE are also polite and excplain ours problems to them. Between us we say “if they are polite we are also polite, but don’t trust them too much, when the order will come and the CRS (the riot police) comes we should take appropriate mesures”
Taken from today’s Le Monde edition
” While the social movement seems to be taking a back seat in roundabouts, the government may have to face a new, but equally embarrassing, mobilization: that of police officers who denounce their working conditions and pay.
The three major peacekeepers and senior organizations, the main body in the national police, have each called for uncoordinated action in the coming days. The SGP-Police-FO unit opened the hostilities on Saturday, December 15, by calling for a “act I” of mobilization in January, in response to the weekly demonstrations of “yellow vests”.
Alliance National Police relaunched on Monday, December 17, by declaring a “black day” on Wednesday, December 19, and asking officials to close police stations and only respond to emergency calls. Finally, the UNSA-Police embarked on the “minimum service” on Tuesday 18 December, announcing that its troops would do the “minimum service” by not issuing fines.
A sort of race that does not suit government’s business. As for the Ministry of the Interior, he know that these calls are not to be taken lightly in an ultra-unionized profession. In the professional elections held in early December, these three organizations received 80% of the votes, with an impressive turnout of over 80%.
Place Beauvau (minister of the interior building) also has reason to be concerned at the list of demands, as it seems so extensive and impossible to satisfy within the budgetary framework. In particular, the police are asking for payment for their overdue overtime of some 23 million hours.
This heavy liability has become a symbol of the working conditions of police officers who often carry out missions without respecting legal rest hours. The “yellow vest” crisis – which caused an over-mobilization of already tired staff at the end of the year – and the Strasbourg attack caused the counters to explode. In the absence of immediate payment, rubies on the nail, the organizations want Beauvau to make a gesture “to prime the pump” and start reducing the bill”
This Gilets Jaunes movement, as it could be foreseen, is removing to the fondations many Unions and so-called left or extreme left partys.
Even if today there are not open proofs of this, albeit some 180° changes in their vision but not in their practice, in some Unions the rebellions is taking some forms.
Some people are also thinking in this enourmous bankruptcy of the whole left.
As it comes that today bourgeois an petit bourgeois influent people and partys are using a sort of “marxism” to have a good scope on reality but on the service of the bosses.
Here Jacques Attali, ancient councelor of Mitterrand, the one who has pushed Macron to the front scene and who takes himself as a Richelieu’s father Joseph his “âme damnée”, his secret councelor, knows very wemm Marx and uses him to the profit of the siosit and bourgeois. This is a question that should be studied in depth.
Le Monde ,the serious paper of Macronie is very upset with the errors and hesitations of the government. REcently the Prime Minister wants to step back some mesures in favor of some Gilets Jaunes but in the day ,feeling the stupidity of the move he back-pedal, renounce and restablish the mesures raising un uproar coming from…everywhere “France was not being governed anymore!” as reactionaries said or “gouvernment does not know what to do” wich is, in some way, true or the proof how muxch they are destabilizied by the Gilets Jaunes movement but also by the pressure of the bosses.
Now, Le Monde publishes about the opposition that is growing inside the CGT, the most “fighting” of the Unions and the one that puts a lot of people on the streets when they want it to do.
I give some exerpts wich show how profounf has been the rebellion of the Gilets Jaunes and it’s real nature, that it, to the left, every time more to the left and not as someones told a “tax movement of the middle classes influenced by the extreme right”. To that point were misled the “marxists” of the whole left.
Here are these exerpts:
“CGT: the opposition to Philippe Martinez presents an alternative.
The major manoeuvres in preparation for the 52nd confederal congress of the CGT, which will be held in Dijon (Côtes d’Or) from 13 to 17 May 2019, have begun.
At a time when the centre has just lost its first place on the French trade union scene to the CFDT, opponents of Philippe Martinez, who consider his line too “reformist” and advocate a “revolutionary” trade unionism, have just presented, on 13 December, their own policy document, which Le Monde has obtained, for the Congress.
They are based on the “yellow vest” movement, which “has just rehabilitated the balance of power as the only path to social transformation”. This counter-document, which aims to be “a massive commitment in favour of the class struggle” and “an alternative” to the direction to be discussed in Dijon, brought together, according to its promoters, “several dozen unions”, many of them having already expressed their opposition to Philippe Martinez’s radical (Le Monde ‘opinion’) orientation.
These are various company unions, led by Goodyear, but also Jeumont Electric, Bombardier, Vallourec, Marks and Spencer, Info’Com-CGT and several university hospitals.
The document immediately underlines “the urgent need to address first the assessment of the last mandate” – that of Philippe Martinez, re-elected for three years at the 51st Congress in Marseille, in April 2016 – and “successive failures” recorded.
“We have never known,” write the signatories, “so many social setbacks and our opponents will not stop if we are not able to create a balance of power that is equal to the challenges at stake.
The CGT, they ask, “must it comply or must it remain a class struggle union? ». Noting that “power struggles have rarely been so favourable to capital”, they consider it “the consequence of a considerable weakening of trade union action, in particular that of the CGT”: “our determination to enter into conflict with employers and shareholders is becoming less and less visible”.
Last opinion survey on Gilets Jaunes
Despite Emmanuel Macron’s announcements, the proportion of French people who support “yellow vests” is falling slightly: 3 points less in one week, according to Elabe. 54% think that the mobilization must continue.
Published on December 19, 2018 at 9:05 pm
After more than a month of mobilization, and despite the 10.3 billion announced by Emmanuel Macron to support purchasing power, the movement of “yellow vests” remains massively approved by the French, at 70%, according to an Elabe survey conducted for BFMTV. That’s only three points less in a week.
More specifically, 41% express “support” and 29% “sympathy”. On the other hand, 11% of the French are “opposed” and 11% “hostile”. 8% say they are indifferent.
The margin of error for the survey is between 2.5 and 3 points.
Elabe notes that approval is more pronounced among the working classes (78%), the middle classes (71%) and retirees (67%), but that it is not the majority among executives (47%).
On the political front, the movement is approved by a majority within each electorate except Emmanuel Macron’s electorate (42%, -13).
These days, the movement is slipping in the wrong direction.
After having thwarted Castaner’s repressive traps, we find ourselves in front of electoral manoeuvres and diversion.
The inorganization of the movement, which was its strength at the beginning, is becoming a serious handicap today.
There is a double offensive both on the part of the government, which is destroying the roundabouts blocades and not finding an overall response from the movement.
Instead of answering the gouvernement some people, followed bty the ones who are in the Web are advancing the so-called RIC claim, which is a real fraud and a diversion.
The system of communication through web networks carries obvious dangers. A small fraction of users of these means, who exclude the very poor, the elderly, the working workers or people who do not have time to be “connected” all the time, “decide” on everything, change the meeting places, push forward their own demands and, because of petty bourgeois origin or infested with this mentality, drop wage demands and pensions for their schemes such as the RIC (Référendum d’Initiative Citoyenne)
The RIC requires two thirds of the total of two Chambers and at the initiative of the President of the Republic to be approved after discussion in Parliament. This means almost no chance but it gives time for the government and bosses to end the blockades and reduce the movement to Saturday demonstrations, which are also severely repressed.
A godsend for the government, which hastened to accept the “idea with some reservations” while conducting a huge press campaign favorable on the issue.
Forgotten the increases in smic and income, let’s move on to the RIC standard of “democracy” and subject of all kinds of “parliamentary committees” and other traps for children in politics.
But this RIC is also found in the programme of France Insoumise and the Rassemblement National (RN) and it is used for the upcoming elections. Therefore, the movement is diverted almost directly towards the interests of these parties.
Since two or three days, not a word is spoken on purchasing power. Government continues to destroy the blockade points, many has been already destroyed and people just do not know where to go but the ones in the Web reaseaux continues babling about RIC and now about a Gilets Jaunes party!
The petty bourgeoisie seized the movement by the Web, the proletarians found no way to express their demands.
We are going through a difficult time that can send this movement directly to ruin. The lack of proletarian political organizations that organize and promote the real demands of workers is sorely lacking. The so-called left-wing parties wait like vultures for the movement to die before throwing itself at the corpse and congratulating itself and saying that they had been right from the beginning to be wary of it.
Tomorrow it will be Act 6, but I fear that with the confusion created by these irresponsible groups, the repression that has not had an overall response and the inorganization of the movement, we will run towards a disaster.
People want to fight but I don’t think they still want to be manipulated for muddy solutions like the RIC that won’t change anything or parties that end up like “5 stars” in Italy that makes the short scale to Salvini and the far right, or Podemos in Spain and its useless, corrupt leaders, not to mention the Greek Syriza.
Is it an occilation of the movement or an announced death?
Next Saturday will tell.
A short comment on the “Acte 6” of the Gilets Jaunes.
It seems (to be confirmed. Reliable data not yet available) that there were less demonstrators in these Christmas Days but with a bigger resolution to fight to give a signal that the movement is still alive.
But the real question rest the participation of the working class and this is a question related to wages demands that are being put aside or hiden by the RIC question.
There will not be an “Act 7” this month (as todays information but this can change eventualy) and the movement will rebirth in Juanuary.
In Lyon, because of reasons I do not know, the demo was called in three diferents places, far apart ones from the others. Why? I could not know yet. Of course less people in each but in average not too many less than last saturday and GJs were searching more “active” forms because to demo every saturday is seen as “no productive”.
But this actions, not always well aimed. Today the people which support us are making their Christmas buying, and going in malls that get filled with lacrymogene gas, is not quite intelligent.
It’s going to be a question of trying to gain the workers or make fighting demos by people that have yet put aside the wages demands, the working class (“pasive and under the direction of traitoirs” as they say) and push forward their wish for fight no matter the political backslashs.
This situation is agravated by the total abandonement of the left and extreme left parties from which I do not see one of their activists.
Tomorrow I will try to publish some photos and videos to give a whole picture.
This has been published in the France Insoumise discussion blog after the arrest of Eric Drouet, a lorry driver conductor, that was abducted from yesterday’s Paris demo by more than 15 policemen and put in prison with slanderous charges.
Gouvernement filling sure is evelopping a represive campaign that can go quite far without an answer of the GJ’s movement..
“After the breakage of the blocking sites, the arrests.
Repression, the only real response of Macron and the capitalists to the Yellow Vests, must be fought.
Given the balance of power; a spontaneous movement but without a major state, without a clearly defined line, without police, without an intelligence service, without smoke and psychological warfare offices, without an army, all the things the government has at its disposal, all that remains is the only weapon of all time, the number, political consciousness, our discipline, our dedication.
And the number means all those who suffer from the policies of the capitalists today represented by Macron, yesterday and since Mitterrand by all successive governments. The poor, the working people, the retired, the homeless, the people who are in trouble, in the first place.
The movement must recover its massive character, our only strength and emerge from the craze for minority “actions” that play into Castaner’s repressive policy (when they are not provoked in our midst by their services) and keep the large mass of people away from our demonstrations.
It is not a few pallet fires that drive the movement forward, let alone minority clashes.
No, it’s the strength of the number of demonstrators.
This force should have grown exponentially by integrating the entire population, especially the wage earners who alone can decide the triumph because they control all production and can dry up the capitalists’ source of profit.
we had to put pressure on their leaders, go get the workers from their workplaces, drag them out, show them with our little achievements of the struggle that we can win, that we can have something through a determined struggle.
That is, we had to seek public opinion, workers and students. But no, the movement has been put on the RIC track which only interests a few yellow vests and some political parties. And it allows all the tricks and manoeuvres to be carried out by a government that does not want to give in and that, once the movement is dead, will go back on the small concessions it has made.
It is absolutely necessary to correct this course so it is painful to see that repression completely breaks the movement which, sometimes and not everywhere, starts on roads that keep the mass of Yellow Vests away.
We cannot enter into a logic of absurd clashes between 50 or 100 people who do not even think about what they are doing (yesterday particularly unintelligent “actions” by going to close shopping centres to workers who were doing their Christmas shopping. We find ourselves with CRSs protecting consumers and Yellow Vests doing everything they could to disturb them in their shopping. We put a bullet in our feet for the benefit of those who have problems appearing in the newspapers).
We need to win more people, not play with the CRS.
Today, the absolutely essential task is to conduct a broad political campaign to free Drouet and all political prisoners from this government.
All political parties, all trade unions, all prominent figures, massive and peaceful demonstrations should be addressed to combat the amalgamation of “Yellow Vests= Breakers”, to free Drouet, which is now only at the advantage for the government.
This is what serves a true political party, to help the popular movement to develop and defend itself.”
CRS are ther anti riot police corp.
The arrest of Eric Drouet.
He is à lorry driver and one of the figures of the GJs movement in Paris.
Arrested yesterday, by the police forces, he has been put in custody for jugement on slanderous charges.
A campaing for the liberty of all political prisoners is developping.
Here is video which shows what is to fight the bourgeois.
Excerpts from a scientific survey on Yellow Vests. Of course their political point of view is not ours and it should be taken as a sociological study in the frame of left bourgeois, liberal science.
-•… “Following November 17, researchers at the Centre Emile-Durkheim (Bordeaux) launched a call for participation from the political science research community to understand the movement. Today, the collective has nearly 70 members, who are teacher-researchers, researchers at the CNRS ( Conseil National de la Recherche Scientifique) and INRA (Institut National de la Recherche Appliquée) (two of the best research centers in France) , doctors without positions, and students. Sociologists, politicians and geographers work together on a voluntary basis.
The scale of the movement and the speed with which it has been formed, outside trade union organisations and parties, as well as its modes of action and watchwords, are striking.
Who are the “yellow vests”? What do they want? Are we witnessing a profound renewal of the modalities of protest and politics? Should this be seen as a return to traditional forms of popular revolt? How is such a movement likely to evolve over time and how can we understand its scope?
While there is no standard portrait of the demonstrators, since one of the characteristics of the movement is its diversity, “yellow vests” are first and foremost people, men and women, who work (or, as retirees, have worked), aged 45 on average, belonging to the working classes or the “small” middle class.
The results, which are still very provisional, are based on the analysis of 166 questionnaires distributed to participants in roundabout actions and tolls, or during demonstrations held on 24 and 1 December, by a team of around ten researchers and students. The questionnaire was designed to collect detailed and accurate information about the participants.
Over-representation of employees and under-representation of executives
Some categories appear to be particularly over-represented in the “yellow vests” that responded.
This is the case for employees, who constitute 33% of the participants (i.e. 45% of the working population present, compared to 27% of the French working population). They are more than twice as numerous as workers, who represent 14% of the participants. Craftsmen, shopkeepers and business leaders are also particularly numerous: 10.5% of participants (14% of the working population present, compared to 6.5% of the French working population).
(Employees are a very vage formulation because many workers on services which sometimes earn less than a worker are being classified as “employées”. This employées are in their majority not desk bureaux workers but people that are workers who, because of the ideological bourgeois influence takes themsellves as something different, as employees. But they are working class as the others. V. Comment)
On the other hand, middle professions and managers are poorly represented: the former account for 10% of participants (13% of the working population present, compared to 26% of the French working population); the latter are barely 5% of participants (7% of the working population present, compared to 18% of the French working population) in the demos and blockades that took place between 24 November and 1 December. A quarter of the participants in the “yellow vest” movement belong to the “inactive” category; most of them are retirees.
The “yellow vests” participating in the survey are on average 45 years old, slightly older than the average age of the French population, which stands at 41.4 years. The most active age groups are 35-49 years old (27.2%), then 50-64 years old (26.6%) and 25-34 years old. The 18-24 age group represents 6.2% of participants; the over-65 age group 17.3%.
A mixed movement
Men (54%) outnumber women (45%). However, the high proportion of women, often belonging to the working classes, a social category traditionally not very politically mobilized, is a notable fact.
There is a propensity for women to demonstrate similar to the one we observed in the processions of November 24 and December 1. A comparable gap (55% male, 44% female among respondents) was observed in the questionnaire administered in the Manifesto for All of 16 October 2016.
Women have always demonstrated, as many historical studies show. On the other hand, they are more visible here. There are several reasons for this: without an official spokesperson, trade union and political representatives, who are usually men, and in the absence of structures, the media are forced to turn their attention to the “ordinary” participants. The strong social dimension of the conflict and the centrality of demands on material living conditions in the social movement contribute to women’s visibility.
An over-representation of baccalaureate holders and CAP ( Certificat l’aptitude professionnelle, workers without qualification level) )and BEP ( a little bit upper but today, quite similar. Detentors of more than a Baccaleaureat certificate and some training are the qualified working class. Bacaleaureat is 12 years education CAP and BEPC 8 or 9 ) holders
Some 20% of respondents have a university degree (compared to 27% of the general population, INSEE 2014 data); 5% of participants have a baccalaureate + 4 and above, while the two most represented diploma levels are BEP and CAP holders (low income working class) , who are 35% (compared to 24% in the general population), and school-leavers (29.3% of respondents, compared to 16.5% of the general population).
Only 15.4% of participants have a diploma below the BEPC (31.4% of the general population). However, on December 8, we received more responses from people with a master’s degree or equivalent. This creates a population of participants with intermediate qualification levels.
Mobilized people with modest incomes
Some 55% of respondents report that they are taxable (almost the same as the general population) and 85% report that they own a car. The median income of the declared household represents 1,700 euros per month, which is about 30% less than the median income of all households (“Tax and social income” survey 2015 of INSEE).
The majority of participants in the “yellow vest” actions are therefore low-income individuals. They do not belong to the most economically vulnerable categories: 10% of them declare an income of less than 800 euros per month (compared to 519 euros for the poorest 10% of French households).
A large number of first demonstrators and various modes of action
For almost half of the respondents (47%), the “yellow vest” movement is their first mobilization.
Only 44% have ever participated in a strike. They are therefore participants with little experience in collective action. When asked about the forms of collective action that the person would be willing to take or in which they have already participated, the demonstration is the most popular mode of action (81%), followed by the petition (69.4% of them say they have already signed one).
Almost 9 out of 10 participants reject modes of action involving violence to property, but 58.8% of them say they are willing to occupy an administrative building, for example. Half also exclude the idea of going to Paris to demonstrate, with respondents citing economic reasons, violence and the need to remain visible in the provinces to justify this choice. On tax consent, only 5% of participants report that they have already refused to pay tax, while 58.4% completely exclude it as a means of action. Separate analyses have also found very few differences between the responses of men and women.
A rejection of traditional representative organizations and atypical political orientations
Our survey also confirms the broad rejection of traditional representative organisations: 64% consider that trade unions have no place in the movement, 81% think the same for all political parties.
This relationship of distance or mistrust of the established representation system is reflected when respondents are asked to rank on the left-right scale. The dominant response is to declare oneself apolitical, or “neither right nor left” (33%).
On the other hand, among those who position themselves, 15% are on the far left, compared to 5.4% on the far right; 42.6% are on the left, 12.7% on the right and, most importantly, only 6% in the centre.
In comparison, a survey conducted by Ipsos in April showed that 22% of French people reject the left-right divide, while 32% are on the left and 39% on the right. This great diversity of the relationship to politics is a major element of the uniqueness of the movement.
The motivations: for purchasing power and against a policy that favours the rich
For respondents, this is less a revolt against a particular tax, or in defence of car use, than a revolt against a tax and redistribution system considered unfair. A revolt against inequalities, but also against a political word that despises them and symbolically inferiorizes them.
It is both a question of defending their purchasing power and their access to a standard of living (particularly leisure, which is increasingly inaccessible) and a requirement of respect for them and recognition of their dignity on the part of political staff (government and President of the Republic).
We invited participants to express their motivations through an open-ended question at the beginning of the questionnaire: “Why are you demonstrating today? ». A purchasing power that is too low is the first reason given (more than half of the respondents).
Many people complain that they can no longer afford any pleasure (“I’m in my twenties and I don’t have any money. If I want to go out, I have to get out in the open”). Mothers tell us about their difficult ends of the month (“I wish my children could have food on their plates, not just potatoes in the last two weeks of the month”), which sometimes lead to housing difficulties, as witnessed by young students (“I can’t afford housing, I live in a friend’s dependency”) and this mother (“We had to go south to live with my mother-in-law”).
Next in the list of motivations is the excessive tax burden (69 respondents, 18 of whom explicitly point to high fuel prices). Nearly one in five say they are there to protest against the current government and call for Emmanuel Macron’s resignation, citing the “arrogance” of the executive.
The terms “monarchy”, “oligarchy” or “dictatorship” are used again to emphasize its illegitimacy. The demand for institutional reforms is expected on 24 November and then confirmed on 1 December. One tenth of the respondents called for institutional reforms. This trend seems to be accentuated among the participants in the December 8 processions.
A second open-ended question was about what the government should do to address the claims of the “yellow vests”. The most frequent answer is not surprisingly a tax cut, which was spontaneously mentioned by a third of respondents.
For 48 respondents, measures to increase purchasing power are also needed. Among them, 28 people are asking for an increase in the minimum wage, or even wages in general, 14 for a general increase in purchasing power, 8 for an increase in pensions. Requests for the redistribution of wealth recurred in the responses of 36 participants: 19 spontaneously called for the reintroduction of the ISF (the Tax on Richs ), 5 for a fairer distribution of taxes.
The presence of institutional demands, in addition to social demands
More than a fifth of respondents simply ask that the government listen to citizens, “put itself in their shoes”. This is one of the main concerns of the people we met.
Finally, one of the specific features of this movement is the presence of institutional demands, in addition to social demands. Thus, 26 people stated that major institutional reforms will be necessary for them to consider the movement a success: 18 by calling for sometimes fundamental changes (for example, by calling for a “total reform of the State”, “another political system”), 8 by calling for an end to the privileges of parliamentarians and 4 by expressing their conviction of the need for a 6th Republic.
It should be noted that only 2 of the 166 interviewees mentioned immigration management in their responses to the two questions presented. This invites us to reconsider the analyses that make the movement an emanation of the extreme right.
Greater social justice and the demand for listening on the part of the authorities
The two main motivations of the mobilized people therefore appear to be greater social justice (whether it is a tax system that involves the wealthier, a better redistribution of wealth or the maintenance of public services) and the demand for listening on the part of the government. On the contrary, nationalist demands, linked in particular to identity or immigration, are very marginal, contradicting the idea of a movement that would be drowned out by voters or militants of the RN (far right Marine le Pen’s movement).
As sociologist Alexis Spire, author of “Résistances à l’impôt, attachement à l’Etat” (Seuil, 2018), points out, it is above all the feeling of fiscal injustice, more prevalent among the working classes, that explains this mobilization.
In short, this revolt is indeed that of the “people” – as many of the interviewees claim – in the sense of the working classes and the “small” middle classes, that of modest incomes.
Consequently, several elements make “yellow vests” a singular challenge to the social movements of recent decades. In addition to its size, the strong presence of employees, low-skilled people, first-time demonstrators and, above all, the diversity of political relations and declared partisan preferences make roundabouts and tolls meeting places for a France that is not used to taking public places and speaking out, but also places for exchange and the construction of collectives with forms rarely seen in mobilisations.”
And when you think that this magnificent peole’s movement has not been invested fully by the so called left and “extrême” left (or extreme mockery) parties you just went mad.
Traitors, scabs are soft words for what they deserve.
Here is a report coming from an NPA tendancy “révolution permanente” of the “Acte 7” 29 december Gilets Jaunes’ protest day.
The videos are clear and for the words, please take a Web tool to translate if needed.
Lyon has had few demonstrators on three separate meeting places that could not “converge” because of the anti-riot police who detained every GJ that has a msk or a device againsts gases or what they considered it is an arm and blocked the union of the three ‘little) corteges.
. Why three cortages? I can’t say but surely because of what I have written and perhaps write again. It is what happends when there is no party, no Union, nor organized working class methods and force in a spontaneous “non political” (even if it is) non organized movement.
Semi-anarchisms, no organization, no working class party, is a total failure that permits every kind of intrusion or of the police or of people who do whatever is “mediafriendly” or who believe still in “démocraty” and “Constitution” and think that the police is there to protect them. Now they have learned somewhat of a lesson.
What is extraordinary is that in some places there are still a lot of people and the movement do not loose popularity despite the rabid campaing in all the press against the GJs. Even in a report about the skiers who take their winter holidays, there is some place to attack the Gilets Jaunes in TV.
The first culprit of the diminishing masses in the demos are the left parties, totally absents, then the inexperiency or the work of some electoral interest inside the movement, the action of people who are tired and has no perspective at all and in the last, the police and the government.
For today, it is posible that Christmas holidays have played also a part in the less mobilisation. To follow saturday next.
The movement, after having been mistaken in the siding lane of RIC and “actions” without a future, is forced to respond to a repression that is increasing in intensity.
The government is betting on a decline in demonstrators following the action of the breakers and the Yellow Jackets driven by despair but above all by an anti-union and anti-political orientation that emerged following the non-participation of left-wing parties in the movement.
Recently, he twice arrested Eric Drouet, a truck driver who appeared to be one of the figures of the movement.
It has been denounced a “political police in action against the figures of the Gilet Jaunes movement” by opposition politicians.
Drouet, accused by journalists of voting for Marine Le Pen, which he categorically denied, was arrested when he walked on the sidewalk with other Yellow Vests to place candles near La Concorde, Paris, to pay tribute to the movement’s dead, wounded and imprisoned.
This political line, the defence of prisoners and the wounded, under the slogan “free our comrades!” had been propelled by the few activists who tried to take the movement out of the impasse of “actions” without a future although “mediafriendly” (but which favoured Castaner/Macron’s propaganda).
These actions, which are now being exhausted because only a very small number of Yellow Vests are participating, have given everything they could give and today resistance to repression should be the cement that allows the movement to restart.
In some places there are still attempts at union unity – Yellow Jackets and Assemblies are being made everywhere with calls for a purchasing power-centred agenda, but the line against repression should mark the week that is beginning.
Well, today in Lyon, news from other places should wait confirmation, there were easely ten times more demonstrators than last time, december the 29th.
Why? Simple because holidays are finished and, most important, there was just one meeting point, place Bellecour and a general spirit not to be involved in whatever “mediafriendly action” some ones promote…to no use at all but Macron’s propaganda.
A pacific demonstration, at least to the this time even if there were people looking to fight the police, still on the idea that there would be no advance just demonstrating pacifically.
The question of fighting the police is a political question of numbers. If you are 50 young people fighting a well organised, well commanded, disciplinate trained corps, you just cannot succed but in falling in the arms of the propaganda net of Castaner/Macron.
If you are several thousands and you are well organised, with a Major Headquater that has proved it’s qualifications at least politically and the forces in front doubted and hesitate, you have a chance.
Otherwise, just be patient, accumulate forces, display a good programm that can win more worker’s and poor middle class layers, better if they are the ones who are working and can stop the bourgeois earning their sweat-money, at the same time, prepare yourself and the others for whatever eventuallity.
Monday there will be an General Assembly of the Gilets Jaunes in Lyon. Those above ideas will be propose to this assembly. Will see how it shall be receive, but the real own experience of Lyon’s Gilets Jaunes has confirm just this: better together than apart, better thounsands than a bunch of too impatient “fighting” (they could never arrive to fight whatsoerver and were not a match to the CRS because too few) youths.
A fight is a political issue and should be treated that way.
As the information comes in, it is confirmed that today’s demonstration was at least 10 times more important than that of 29 December.
More than 50,000 demonstrators according to the Ministry of Interior. Of course much more because people comes and goes and it is quite difficult to count them. And, “normally”, Castaner it is known as a cheat that traffics the information to try to stop the movement.
These demonstrations often take place over two tempos.
The first is the more or less peaceful demonstration with some CRS charges and some tear gas canisters.
They are more or less controlled by adult Yellow Vests (between 30 and 70 years old and over) and those who come to fight (young and old) who wants to create a media situation they consider necessary to give life to the movement, are prevented from doing so by others.
Once the “old” ones had left, or sometimes when there are still some left, small groups, some of them convinced that this was the only way to make Macron give in, began the fight with the cops.
It lasts for a while, it’s very spectacular but it’s very quickly countered by CRS battalions. Only when the CRS give not out way to demonstrators on a bridge or on a street, that there are real fights to get away from them.
There were a few of them in Paris in a demonstration that took place with many more people and more peacefully despite what shows on TV.
Yesterday, the Elysée spokesman minister B. Griveaux, made a very violent speech against the GJs calling them a “small group of extremists” and reserving for them all the penalties of the law. This “politic” was
Today, a group of masked Yellow Vests, we do not know where from, went with a fork-lift to break down the doors of his department to visit him. But rude as he is, the “minister” decided to flee through a back door.
Minister Courage said, afterward and well guarded, that this was an attack “against the institutions of the Republic” not against him. That’ll teach him to bully French workers.
A police Union talks about 300 000 demonstrators in the whole country…
Which to believe?
I suppose 50 000 is too little a figure and 300 000 too much. Some journalist are calculating 70 000. It can be more, 150 000? very difficult to have the whole picture.
But the press speaks only of the “boxer” that has boxed some CRS…
Here some parisian videos https://twitter.com/PureTele with police brutality and demonstrators defending themselves.
But the actual facts are that most of the demos were quite calm and pacific with little incidents at the end. As always.
“Violence” is a question that do not deterr the movement but serves as pretext to the government to step up represion and undermine public support. It is double edged, it makes the movement alive and …put the brakes on further developpement. But in final look would give the broader masses the idea that without a real fight nothing can be achieved.
It has an impact on people not decided yet to fight in actual conditions, but doesn’t fully work against participation in demos.
On the other side, governement just don’t know how to work out a good plan against this movement. They went from “faux pas” (wrong move) to “faux pas”.
Yesterday, the intervention of the governement speaker B. Griveaux had made very strong statements against “the extremist and scums that are all what rests of the gilet jaunes” but that just only whip people to come to the demo instead of terrorising them.
And the reaction of the same minister in front of what he has triggered,was an enourmous laugh, because of his ” lost head run” fearing for his life, the thing no one was coming to search, but to open the doors of his offices.
Fear doesn’t totally work… well perhaps for M. Griveaux. The government is perhaps “thinking” in something greater…
I suppose they cannot just shoot into the crowd because of next elections and, perhaps, big problems ahead. Quite young girls are speaking openly of revolution and 1789…but I could not take them seriously yet…
The police, even if they get 300 euros after some pressure on the governement, had not liked the benalla affair and are reluctant to have the whole population against. The army, they just don’t trut it because of some stupid Macron moves against some general. It would the last resource.
They have tried everything, from “terrorism” to “threatening people”, to “promises” to ” give 10 billions” as they said, the “failling economy because of Gilets Jaunes” and so on.
Not one of these propaganda “mesures” has succeded, only the slanderous, deformed, biaised, “dictatorial style lies” press campaign has had some effect. On their own repports citing their own publics surveys, popularity of GJs has gone from 85% to “only” 55% (Macron has less than 25%) .
Perhaps Gilets Jaunes have 55% but the other 30% “lost” are not with Macron but against “violence” as descrived by the press and Castaner/ Griveaux services. They won’t vote Macron next elections and could come back to GJS with another “faux pas” or stupid measure or outright violence coming from the government.
If the movement has definitevely gained it’s demo force, the government will be in a very difficult position under external and internal pressure.
This will be seen next week.
I hope this comments will serve the working class of GB (if not, just tell me), because when fight will surge there I think that it will go, more or less, in the same path and steps as ours.
In fact, the only real lesson of the whole thing is that nowadays, without a marxist party or working seriously between the insurgent masses, people learn “making the road as they walk”.
This is what it is called “a sure class instinct” that gets on the tracks, oscillating but keeping somewhat the line. With a real left communist it could go with less oscillations but with some indeed. The history told by some bad manuals, of a linear developpement conducted by an always rifgt party conducted by a genius, just doesn’t work like that, it is a much complex “line” that developpes.
In Lyon, this evening, a General Assembly was attended with more than 450 people, which is a success. It seems that a new momentum is emerging.This is a very good number and an indication that the movement is gaining force.
The organization was average, made by young people who think they are Ché Guevara and know little about how to organize a mass movement, but as this movement learns from its own experience and organised people comes only as observers, it cant be better.
There were made some interventions on the need to continue massively, peacefully by gathering more and more people, waiting and calling for the awekening of the working class in the works.
It was also fought the tendency to “action” without any purpose other than fighting the cops in little numbers or dividing the demonstration into three or four groups to do “actions”. All this has been approved by a lot of people and it can be expected a result from the work of these ideas in the consciousness of those who have heard them.
In any case, if we all manage to continue together from Place Bellecour at 2 p.m. and we do not disperse and we put forward the defence of our political prisoners, of the wounded, and we fight for public freedoms threatened by the government, demand better incomes and the RIC, today a necessary concession, we have a future.
All we have to do is continue along this path, which oscillates a lot but, in the end, stays the course. Proof that in the end the class instinct, the very real needs of the masses, takes over.
There were also informations coming from Marseille in the same direction.
But, more still, the boxer that has repelled a group of armed CRS punching them and who has presented to the cops has rise a camapaign of solidarity coming from every place of France.
A she GJs has testify on TV that “the boxer” come to defend her sourounded by enraged CRS and without his help and from others GJs, she would be put into peaces by the overheathed CRS.
A found rising campaign has in some hours get more than 15 000 euros for the legal defense of our comrade.
This is very good, because all the governments propaganda and today’s discours of the Prime Minister, were based on this boxer’s incident and in the fleeing og one of Macron’s minister which minister doors were breken by a forklift (to find a dorklift with its keys ready to march in the streets af PAris is something never seen and has raise a lot of question of the real nature of those “gilets jaunes).
Many people congratulate de boxer,Christophe Dettinger, for his courageous intervention to protect a GJs female comrade threatened by the cops. It seems that, again, the Interior minister manouver has backfired.
When a class dynamic is favorable, every thing goes in the good direction.
On the eve of the 9th Act, the press is talking about a demonstration even bigger than the one on 5 January.
The general atmosphere seems to confirm this proyection. Yesterday, in Martigues, a proletarian suburb of Marseille, there was a strong repression with some arrests, including a young Yellow Vest beaten up by the police.
In the evening a large meeting with many people boiled with rage and wanted to take themselves to the cops. The vision at the beginning, which often shouted “The police with us!”, has shifted to a distrust and hatred of police brutality.
The movement is becoming aware, organizing itself and advancing at an incredible speed and already the purely economic demands that at one point were right to counter the extreme right and affirm the social and proletarian character of the movement are beginning to become outdated watchwords.
Political demands, the defence of prisoners and the wounded, the defence of public liberties plus a conception of the RIC that is in line with Lenin’s conception of the role and remuneration as well as the revocability of elected officials appear very clearly even if it has not yet taken the form of a theoretical recognition, have taken the lead.
In 1968 the movement became general and launched a general strike on political watchwords, following the repression of the Gaullist police.
The determination of the Yellow Vests, who here in Lyon gathered in large numbers to write a book of demands totally to the left, surprised not only the organizers, but was remarkable by the public who held a meeting in the street under a freezing cold for more than three hours.
The government is repeating its refrain on “the fear of violent demonstrators” and lacks any other proposal in the face of the increasingly advanced demands of the Yellow Vests.
This Saturday, despite the blunders of some GJs who still let themselves go to their youthful but sensless enthusiasm, it may be that the demonstration exceeds previous ones.
The government has no other policy than repression, but even this repression, totally exposed to public opinion, which is beginning to criticize both police brutality and the call for the pollice “to use their arms” of a former minister, cannot be either an end to the crisis or a solution.
The constancy, combativeness, obstinacy of the Yellow Vests’ movement plus its accelerated political awareness are the dominant trend in the situation.
This is becomming an historic situation and if the trend goes further it would be difficult for the bourgeoisie to pass it’s “reform” plans. Voices from the Gilets Jaunes are now saying that they will not accept those “reforms”. As much as the GJs movement goes ahead, farther goes its conciousness and their watchwords.
Every one is getting backwards of the masses. The only one politician that was more or less in phase with the movement, Mélenchon has beginning to be somewhat backwards also. This is a “hotred fire test” that not everyone can stand. Advanced are backward and “backward masses” are forward. This has been always a characteristic of french proletarian revolutions.
“Masses decide everything” has become a real fact in french situation.
Although the demonstration in Lyon was only slightly higher than last Saturday’s, it was a fairly combative demonstration that did not want to disband or stop the fight against the tear gas jets launched by the police.
A demonstration that suffered from the division into three groups demonstrating in different and distant places and that probably contributed to make the demonstration in Lyon one of the least grown in the country.
Because, everywhere else, this demonstration was such an obvious success that Castaner, the winner who officiates as Minister of the Interior, admitted, at 7 p.m., 86,000 demonstrators, up from the 50,000 he admitted last Saturday.
But a cop union published figures of up to 360,000 for this Saturday. In Paris they were saiid thhat more than 8,000 Yellow Vests were demonstrating, but the figure is grossly underestimated.
There have been fights everywhere, which is increasingly responding to a growing number of young demonstrators who do not accept being attacked by the CRS without reacting.
At this time, we don’t have enough information, it will be known tomorrow or late in the day but I post this information plus a link that shows some scenes filmed this day.
There were two other interesting pieces of information.
Within the LREM parliamentary group (Macron’s party) there are openly deputies who oppose reactionary measures against students. This in the context of a desperate government is symptomatic of a breakdown at the head of state.
On the other hand, more than 250 intellectuals and scientists (a little lost in the reality of the movement, in my modest opinion) have published a Call “We will not be the State’s watchdogs” and call on the left not to leave the field open to the far right.
They wake up a little late but it is better late than never and in France intellectuals and scientists play a certain role in social protest.
Nevertheless, these two elements add to an already too difficult situation of macronism.
A single blow of the working class’s shoulder and everything goes to the ground. Martinez, head of the CGT, is the pillar that holds everything together.
Comrades at the demonstration were betting on when the mass of workers would join and some were giving it away for next week.
Here a link to some videos of today’s demo. https://twitter.com/PureTele