Balance and prospects, till now, of the French Gilet Jaunes Movement16
06/02/2019 by socialistfight
By Viriato Lusitania
1 – This movement is a spontaneous response from the most exploited sections of the French population to 40 years of bosses’ offensive through the policies put in place by all governments. This has been going on since the third year of Mitterrand’s first term in office (1984), it speeded up and got much worse under Sarkozy, Hollande, Macron to the present day.
2 – This mass movement which has developed throughout the country has highlighted the complete bankruptcy of the left, i.e. the remains of the Socialist Party, the Communist Party (PCF) as a whole, including dissident groups, France Insoumise of Jean-Luc Mélenchon in large part, the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (NPA – created after the dissolution of the former section of the United Secretariat of the Fourth International in a “broad party”) NPA, Lutte Ouvrière, and the pro-Brexit/Frexit Parti Ouvrier Independent Democratique (POID, a split from the Lambertist POI a few years ago, led by former Lambertist leader Daniel Gluckstein). The only party that has maintained a position of support for the GJ movement has been the Lambertist POI but without being able to do the full political work that would have been necessary. The POI is also strongly Brexit/Frexit but having previously worked only in the Force Ouvrière, has begun to work in the CGT, which was once dominated by the PCF. Both Lambertist groups are referred to as ‘sovereigntist’, i.e. nationalist. In addition, the Social Democrat Mélenchon has had a decent positioning. Also active are the small Groupe Marxiste Internationalist (GMI) which leads the international grouping COREP (Collectif Révolution Permanente, formerly linked to Socialist Fight) ; and Révolution Permanente (associated with the Trotskyist Fraction – Fourth International, ahead of the Left Voice network / Red Izquierda Diario) (details from Revolutionary Regroupment article, https://rr4i.milharal.org/2019/01/25/the-yellow-vests-movement-in-france/) .
3 – The real basis of the movement are the crying needs of large segments of the population impoverished by capitalist politics. There are 9 million poor people in France and the working class, petty bourgeoisie and even small entrepreneurs are suffering the weight of the capitalist crisis, often in the form of ever-increasing taxes.
4 – The conciliatory activity, of compromise, of “dialogue”, of objective betrayal of recent demands and workers’ struggles by trade unions and left-wing parties, has created a feeling of deep mistrust of trade union leaders and by extension of the trade unions themselves by a growing number of workers and proletarians.
5 – The absurd sectarian centrism and the opportunism observed by the most known extreme left parties, has made that certain minority layers among the most backward of the proletariat pass to an extreme right-wing vote as the only form of protest against the capitalist policies they are subjected to.
The majority of proletarians either continue to vote for left-wing parties or seek alternatives such as France Insoumise, which does not propose to change the system but to improve it, or, more often than not, abstain massively allowing the election of bankers’ and capitalists’ candidates thereby giving the opportunity for open enemies of the working classes like Marine Le Pen to be elected.
6 – The complete bankruptcy of the French Communist Party and its relative loss of political influence is accompanied by a total lack of circulation of the Marxist ideas, for more than 25 years now, although they had been concerned with them for a long time. However, it remains a workers’ party because of the number of its militants, but it has not been very active for a long time, but has a popular respect of long standing.
The fall of the USSR and the transition to capitalism in China and bourgeois anti-communist propaganda campaigns, which have been very little countered, because intellectuals have all moved rightward to capitalism, and this has created an ideological and political vacuum that the far left has been unable to fill.
Marxism, Socialism, Communism have only been discussed and circulated (and on what form?) in narrow circles, far from the masses, for years. The only ones who propagate it to the masses (LO and POI-POID) or, very briefly address the most backward sectors of the class or do so through poorly read newspapers.
This policy of addressing the lowest level of understanding is assumed and even claimed. The most advanced sectors of the class must be satisfied with what they already know through the press or at most with simple explanations.
If they decide to go further, they can find some reviews but no real polemics, no ideological work, and remain at the level of what they can glean by themselves or submit to a corporal “discipline” that stifles any democratic discussion and leads them through trade unionism to centrist and sectarian political positions.
7 Faced with such a situation, the right and the far right find themselves in front of a political boulevard, almost without opposition after the “socialist” government of Holland which has put the prestige of the left and its party the PS, lower than the ground. But both the right and the far right are still rejected by a significant mass of the people who are wary of them because they know that this will still mean serious attacks on liberties and their living and working conditions.
8 – These conditions, therefore, have allowed lobbies and capitalists councils of administrations plus some unscrupulous intellectuals to work out a plan to put in place draconian measures, in order to align French capitalism with its foreign competitors. This plan, which was the same as all the candidates of the right have, either Juppé or Fillon or even Marine Le Pen but under a disguise, will be put into practice by Macron, a former minister of Hollande, a former employee of the Rothschild bank, who will be elected President of the Republic.
This plan he will put it in place brutally and with an arrogance that will quickly make him hated by the population. This aspect, his arrogance and his contempt for workers and the people explains why the first demand of the Yellow Vests will be his resignation.
9 – The last straw that breas the camel’s back, which triggered the movement, was a new fuel increase, an old technique of every government: to tax the population (taxes represent more than two thirds of the price of fuel). A self-employed woman published a call on the Web which, in a few days, was answered by more than 800,000 people and will exceed one million in a short time. This issue of rising fuel costs was mainly against the interest of workers who travel to work, but also to small companies, even large ones if they are truckers or taxis or transporters.
10 – The right and the extreme right, always demagogic about the “small bosses who are the source of employment and models of “effort and work””, immediately thought of recovering this movement to give a “popular” character to their electoral race.
11 – As the movement awakened the desire of the whole population to demonstrate, the voices of the workers began to be heard saying that “lowering taxes was good, but it was not just that” and that they would join the demonstration. This “it’s not just that” simply meant that a significant number of workers “finish the month”, i.e. on the 20th or 15th of the month (that they have no money from that date), so wage demands were also important.
12 – This situation triggered a social movement supported by the extreme right and the right, composed of small bosses and of very poor workers on the fringes of trade union demos, on the fringes of left parties or unions appeals ( even the extreme left, which is not heard, or never calls) and which from the beginning showed mistrust towards all trade unions and all political parties without exception. The support of the right and the far right therefore remained external and ignored by the movement.
13.- At that very moment, before the first demonstration, the left totally ignored the calls to demonstrate, the unions declared against the most basic truth “that they were not marching alongside the far right” and all the parties of the far left (except the POI and the very small groups that decided to support) were disgusted, bet that it was not going to succeed, were making sibylline and hypocritical statements or gave half support if the movement did as they pleased, that is, if they only addressed workers and according to their conception of things.
That is, the social movement must be as they understood it, otherwise they would not participate. Nevertheless, some, perhaps the most hypocritical decided to “observe” as it was going to happen on November 17, the first meeting of the Yellow Vests (fluorescent vest mandatory to wear in all vehicles, to be visible from a distance in case of accident).
14 The Left and the Extreme Left abandoned the movement from its beginnings, even before its first demonstration, except for small parties that are insignificant and often leftist. We left a boulevard on the far right and objectively helped Macron, who rightly feared the strength of this movement, which was totally outside the control of the unions and therefore very difficult to “negotiate”, to control and to send it into “consultation and dialogue”, into the usual sidelines.
15 – The first demonstration, on November 17, showed that the vast majority of the demonstrators were very poor proletarians (pensioners, workers without fixed contracts, unemployed) and very few “small bosses” who wanted to continue to demonstrate and who raised the question of their material living conditions, well ahead. This was more than expected by any activist who have followed the statements of support to this movement that brought together hundreds of people that don’t know themselves, to prepare the day. Some left-wing activists and trade union sections reported the mass phenomenon that was happening, but this ‘stir with no future’ left indifferent both trade union leaders and parties caught up in their daily routines.
16 – In view of the magnitude of the demonstration, some organizations changed their discourse, not their attitude. They did not undertake any serious political work in the masses, in the countless rally points of the Yellow Vests, which continued the movement by trying to interrupt the circulation of goods from the outside by blocking or making filtering barriers for trucks and cars.
17 – Since then, the movement without political leadership, the right abandoned the movement as soon as it realized that the demands went from “taxes” to wage and pension demands (although these do not yet take a well-defined form), and the far right has never been able to lead the movement politically despite the presence of active far right groups in some of France’s main cities like Lyon and Paris.
The Gilet Jaunes’ movement, in its confusion and inorganization, has embarked on a path that, all things considered, goes towards the demands of purchasing power and, with strong oscillations, takes the path of adopting a social-democratic program with additions such as the RIC (Referendum D’Initiative Citoyenne) which is interpreted in various ways depending on whether it approaches the Referendum d’Initiative Populaire included in the Marine Le Pen program, or in the program of France Insoumise of JL Mélenchon; or in Lenin’s theses on the elected representatives in his book “the State and the Revolution”.
All its demands remain well present in the minds of the GJs but are not approved everywhere because of the inorganic nature of the movement. But that too is changing, too slowly, that’s for sure, but it’s going in that direction.
18 – A workers’ movement that claims both political elements: the RIC, such as the resignation of the President of the Republic, as the defense of public freedoms and an end to repression and social, ecological and wage demands, through its own dynamic tends towards the left. But because there is no reliable, clear political direction, which organizes the troops, this path will be unsure, slow, oscillating, advancing by the method of successive approximations, trial and error, with no guarantee of success.
For some leftist critics, it is too slow for it ever to succeed.
19 – The time spent has shown that a basic proletarian movement, the small bosses have almost entirely abandoned the movement, is impermeable to the far right even if some of its members may go wrong as to vote ED. But despite the presence of some organized ED groups, their watchwords do not take hold and their activity is viewed with suspicion and even disgust by the mass of Yellow Vests.
20 – The mistrust of politicians and trade unions that persists, both because of the very action of trade unions and left-wing parties, is one of the major obstacles to the development of the movement. The few militants who act in its midst with a left-wing perspective are also confused by the forms that take the movement.
They must learn and react at the same time as the movement changes direction, whether it oscillates in one direction or another, whether new problems are constantly emerging, they must not get lost in the details and not forget to put forward the right watchwords at that particular moment. The need for a political organization or comrades to exchange information and opinions becomes essential.
21 – Without a minimum size of a Leninist or real Trotskyist’s political organization, such a movement cannot be oriented nor conducted. Without orienting a spontaneous movement that mainly it is in the workplaces towards unity with active workers, in the short or long term, it is destined to fade away. There are too many obstacles ahead of him.
22 – By the method of successive approximations, the movement, partially conscious of the need to organize itself better, despite the opposing interventions of all those influenced by semi-anarchist or spontaneous forms, has advanced in two directions.
Both in terms of the program, a strong demand from those who have some political education from parties or unions, as well as in terms of organization, there has been some advances. Thus, after two months of a sometimes quite strong struggle that has left many people seriously injured and dead, there are already forms of organization such as the Commercy meeting such as the establishment of demands and a program. All of this recognized by a part of the Gilets Jaunes.
23- The most advanced organization is that of General Assemblies by locality or city. These A.G.s are made by direct initiative of those who organize them without referring to anyone, that’s it, by their own initiative.
This produces all forms of A.G.s different from each other, but like all the activities and oscillations of the movement, they manage to find the right way and finally to meet in a large “A.G. of A.G.s” (General Meeting of Meetings) in Commercy and approve, in an atmosphere of true democracy, a program based on three fundamental points; The increase in salary income, pensions etc. so that “all can live decently” a claim that objectively puts out the “small bosses” and the extreme right; the RIC, which for a time was a very confused and strong claim but which is declining; and the defense of public freedoms, against repression, for the end of judicial persecution.
24- As in any mass movement that continues, situations of “installation” in the movement arise. Many isolated people have made friends, established acquaintances, feel like “a family”. There is a very good thing here, the relationships forged during political or trade union struggles are very strong because they are real, but the risk of stagnation of the movement by refusing to enlarge it because we “feel so good at home”, or the image of a movement established over time that no longer bothers anyone and is part of folklore or the landscape, can appear.
It is clear that we must always bring a new perspective to a movement that, like all social movements, if it does not move forward and takes important steps, it risks defeat.
The need to amplify the movement is always imperative.
25 – The task of the few active left-wing militants who remain inside (some organizations send their militants as “observers” or passive Yellow Vests who do not intervene during the GAs or stay half an hour and leave), is to work towards the junction with the trade union base for a renewable strike, in fact to unite the Yellow Vests movement to the workers movement despite mutual reluctance.
26 – Over time, there is an inevitable polarization within the movement that responds to the hidden but latent politicization that exists because of the presence of various political currents. In what could be called the “left” of the movement, there is a dividing line between those influenced by the ideas of La France Insoumise, as well as those who are more inclined to spontaneous and/or ecological conceptions and the few militants who keep a Leninist conception.
Within the extreme right are both those who follow Asselineau’s ideas (high-ranking civil servant, unfortunate presidential candidate) and fascists “identitaires” who find Marine le Pen to be “socialist”…
In some cities, such as Lyon, clashes between spontaneous currents, reinforced by “state capitalists” as well as by the two ML groups and the “antifa” movement (anti-fascists) in total not too much people, clash with the identities of ED, a group of about thirty well organized, disciplined and possibly armed. These individuals who integrate Saturday demonstrations to fight against “antifas” or molest Arabs or homosexuals. Last week they get some fight coming from young people who gives them a “stone” lesson.
The proposed tactic of staying together with the mass of GJs in the demonstration and politically denouncing ‘identaires’ while defending themselves vigorously has not yet been considered, but the movement’s own tendency, always towards social demands and against repression (watchword which is still advancing but not yet sufficiently) plus an active and political defense will delimit the field, because the ED no longer finds demands at their convenience, except their conception of the RIC.
27 – The government has tried various tactics to defuse the movement. So, it has promises a lot and through some minimal concessions in the firsts weeks, and then … a brutal repression having nothing other but a “referendum” to propose. This recently as a maneuver and a trap.
The clashes in Paris were provoked by whoever they were. Certainly not by the Yellow Vests, which, for the most part, only seek to make their movement “visible”. The press has greatly exaggerated the extent of the fighting and damage. On December 1, there were only a few pallet fires and a lot of tear gas on site. No more.
Afterwards, two Saturdays later, there was a change.
Then, according to reliable source reports, it was more the activity of provocateurs, also unconscious people who came only to the fight and extreme right-wing militants. Some of them will be expelled from the demonstrations but as the movement generally remains unorganized, they come back, to do the same.
This has reduced the number of demonstrators who, for the most part, are peaceful, that is, they do not seek to fight when the balance of power is not there, but to increase the number of participants in the demonstrations.
Macron has also tried other maneuvers, such as the organization of a “Great National Debate” which did not fool the GJs and recently he is doing everything possible to channel the movement through “Yellow Vests electoral lists in the European elections” without any success. The various tries to enlists the movement by those dubious “Yellow Vests” have all sunk souls and bodies.
But, a social movement, for some ones even ‘a revolution’, which is far from reality, cannot survive without moving forward and constantly progressing. This requires a solid organization and a sure direction and among the GJs this is under construction but very slowly.
The most militant have tried to converge with factory workers and others, but it can also become a “first-class funeral”.
Tuesday, February 5 there will be a demonstration and “Renewable Strike” called by the CGT and supported by the “Assembly of Yellow Vests Assemblies” which also called for a “General Strike” (which is different but much more risky because the GJs are not in the works).
Several GJs think that the CGT wants to “show” that people are not ready to mobilize for a general strike, that there is a danger that this demo will link the movement to a union known by its ties to the system and that everything will become a monthly union walk until the demonstrators are exhausted, thus the end of the Yellow Vests movement.
Some propose to continue a movement that advances slowly but can stop Macron’s counter-reformations, others already give the movement a dead end because it is stagnating and does not yet find strong organizational forms and demands.
Tomorrow will see, (this is being written the 4 th February 2019) but the announced death of the movement is the conjunction of a very unfavorable environment, but above all of the total bankruptcy of the left and the extreme left.
If we look closely at this question, some Left parties no longer has militants to do the work, it has long since abandoned all Marxism and does not want to do the hard work. The far left, is, or right-wing or centrist, has only seen the problems and has not wanted to engage or has do so in such a clumsy way for lack of discipline, design or lack of political know-how. Those most able to do political work at the national level have made very few commitments, without committing the majority of their troops, without doing the work, making lip-statements to save their faces.
28 – Tomorrow is today. The demonstration took place in Lyon. There were nearly 10,000 demonstrators with a large presence of Yellow Vests coming or from the CGT ranks who had endorsed their Yellow Vests or from Yellow Vests coming directly to participate.
As it was organized by the CGT, they were present all the political organizations of the left, anarcho-syndicalist, extreme left, even associations that were protesting against the coup d’état in Venezuela.
The route was fixed in advance, authorized by the Prefecture and supervised by few police officers because they know that a CGT parade always takes place in total calm. In short, a parade like so many have done before and which produce no concrete results other than giving leaders sufficient support so that they can continue to live off it, betray us and find themselves as “valid interlocutors” and consensual of the government.
So we covered this short trip, the Yellow Jackets clearly visible by their Jackets well in the middle and once finished the march according to the authorized route and while we were undergoing the soft speeches of the CGT, they organized themselves, put themselves in front of the procession and the Gilets Jaunes followed by some unionists from the base, launched towards the city center to invest it with their own slogans, singing the Partisans’ anthem and shouting “the street is ours! ” and the traditional “Macron resigned! “pointed by Castaners in prison! ». We have ‘robbed’ the demo from CGTs hands. That will surely be in the future the way the Union bosses could be dispossessed of the masses they mislead.
Behind, in the full sense of the word, remained both the leadership of the demonstration and the most organized parties. LO had come in force with slogans, newspaper sales activists, the presence of more than sixty grouped militants and others in the procession, the NPA with a big flag, the POI in the middle of the Regional Force Ouvrière union which do not followed beyond the national slogan of FO leaders not to go to the demo. Needless to say, none of these “revolutionary” parties followed Yellow Vests that pass through the authorization of the Prefecture.
News from other cities, shows exactly the me trend, even if Lyon is not characterized, has never been characterized for its revolutionary or combative spirit.
So, if this was possible in Lyon, it may well happen again elsewhere. The Yellow Vests have become anti-trade unionists precisely because they are fed up with walks without a tomorrow and the fact that they have gone beyond the limits set by the CGT’s leaders is not only a proof of their determination; it has not only taught honest union activists a fighting lesson but also shows that the Yellow Vests movement is indeed the beginning of a new wave that points like a small distant clearing but a clearing anyway.
“A spark can set fire to the prairie” because of the dry straw there are tons accumulated and a lot of anger held back among the people.
I do not know if this will be the case, I do not know either if this CGT-Yellow Vests demo will be only a straw fire, all I know is that without this movement of Yellow Vests, despite all its flaws and lacks, it has put in great difficulty the bourgeoisie and its servant of the moment, Macron, it has highlighted to the masses the true nature of the left and of the Union’s bosses, that this movement means hope for a lot of in the lowest strata of the working class disgusted with politics that there can have hope for them and, perhaps, that they are opening their eyes to proletarian politics (in whichever form that begins).
Now the need is for a real communist party to help this awakening, which can certainly go through ups and downs, but which is marching ahead with difficulties, with oscillations, with no guaranteed of success, but in the good direction.
That’s the way things happened in France during the last three months.
Sorry, I have make some errors.
You should read “ER” (extreme-right) instead of “ED” (extrême-droite)
“GM” (General Meeting) instead of GA (Assemblée Générale).
“GJ” is Gilets Jaunes or Yellow Vests
“PS” is Socialist Party
“ML” is Marxists-leninists
CGT is Conféderation Générale du Travail, one of the main Unions, regarded as the most militant but today in a “dialogue” policy as the others Unions
“FO” is Force Ouvrière Union where the ancient lambertist Parti des Travailleurs has some influence.
“LO” is Lutte Ouvrière movement or party.
“POI” is Pati Ouvrier Indépendant, split if the ancient POI
“POI-D” is Parti Ouvrier Indépendant Démocratique, split of the same ancient POI.
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A critic point of view on the 5th february CGT-Gilets Jaunes demo and of the prostects of the movement. He sees that the GJs movement it is in its end or near but going quickly in a descending slope.
It has been made by the same comrade, Luniterre, that makes our first statement on Gilets Jaunes, before the beginning of the movement. https://socialistfight.com/2018/11/09/the-november-17-petrol-price-strike-in-france/
Today he thinks useless to continue a movement that, for him, as you will see in his answers, have not been able to organise and take a clear programm enough and its going back to something different of the initial movement.
The question of the construction of a worker’s party is also something he doesn’t see in the forseable future and thinks that better to stop now and give time for thinking to the masses and yourth that take part in the movement. This comes from exchanges between us.
I make in parenteses comment just to clear things for non french readers.
I have studied all the documents proposed, including links. (Another comrade inside the CGT and who takes a more militants stand that echeange arguments with Luniterre)
There is nothing in this that is different and even less contradictory with what emerges from the CGT’s call for February 5.
Moreover, given the catch-all and imprecise nature of this call, it would have been strange if the CGT really had concrete proposals on the distribution of social security contributions and charges, it had not summarized them in this call, at a possible strategic turning point for the workers’ movement.
Reading the CGT texts, leaflets or articles, Capital would be summed up as the CAC 40 (most importants companies quoted in the Stocks) in France… If indeed financial capital is the really dominant political force, the French economic and social fabric is not summed up by far, both in terms of employment and remuneration, therefore.
SMEs alone represent nearly 50% of employment in France….
The VSEs still 20% more……
Under these conditions, it is inevitable that the language of the CGT remains hermetic to the greatest number of workers, who simply do not feel concerned…!
While it is clear is that the financial, industrial and commercial groups that dominate French social and political life are feeding themselves at the expense of the vast majority and could clearly do without “public aid” in any form whatsoever, but also make a real social contribution to their super-profits, the case of most very small and medium-sized businesses is much more nuanced.
The principle of public aid, which is completely unfair and absurd in practice, even for very small and medium-sized businesses, must therefore be completely abandoned.
On the other hand, the distribution of charges and contributions could be gradually regulated to increase the burden on financial groups and less on VSE-SMEs on a pro rata basis taking into account both turnover and the number of employees.
This is one of the avenues of reflection opened on TML since November 17, concerning the immediate tactical problems of the fight. In the first two weeks of the movement, a united front of all the working classes, including even various leaders of VSE-SMEs, had formed on the ground.
If it had wanted to live up to its original social mission, this is where the CGT should have intervened, to clarify the possible basis for this unity. By the end of 2018, this front was already breaking up due to the “spontaneous” incoherence of this movement.
During the first two Acts 2019, a rebound was still possible, it seems, if a global structuring of the movement and its demands had been put in place.
Instead, the CGT merely collects, on its limited basis, a few pieces of a social movement that is clearly beginning to fall. And to return to the usual routine that is perfectly suited to power, beyond the verbal ramblings of circumstance.
It is hard not to think that this is a deliberate strategy…!
It is only a simple observation, in reality.
Economic and social structuring in France:
Click to access ENTFRA17.pdf
The 07/02/2019 >>>>
Another correspondent considers February 5 as a success of the CGT and a progress of the movement. So he refutes our observation… What about the figures in hand?
Balance sheet as of 05/02
According to us >>>>> ” is far below the spontaneous movement of November 17. »
>>> YES OR NO?????
According to this correspondent:
“frankly, it’s not very serious, especially since the mass of mobilizations on 17/11 was very scattered on multiple points, as the “police” figures are of the same order of magnitude for these two dates…”
A little realism…!!!
It is precisely enough to compare what is comparable and not to take your fantasies for realities:
CGT figure 05/02 = 300 000
Interior (“police”) 05/02 = 137,000
Interior 17/11/2018 = 287 700
Estimate revised to 218.8%= 628,500
That’s more than double!
On Roanne, on 17/11/2018, 3000 GJ
+ all the villages and small towns mobilized around them on their own roundabouts.
On 05/02/2019, 1000 demonstrators, all in Roanne, including only 300 GJ.
A simple observation.
This arguments should be seriously considered but I still think that his perspective is that of a “classical worker’s movement” and not what in fact is, a very spontaneous and non homogenous movement that is in a stagnant situation at this moment.
Thj reasons have been given before, but to stablished a dead certificate to the GJs is too early to do it. It could be the case, but it should be tried to maintain the movement as far as it can posible be.
This saturday, as almost every saturday and after the GMs we will have a better picture.
Some comrades begins to think as Luniterre, and the movement even if doesn’t went back enourmously, has not yet a real organization, nor real programm, nor a real leader.
It is quite posible that, as the strike of the unemployed more than ten years before, this movement fades away because of the combined efforts of he governement, the lacks in organisation and programm mentioned (even if there has been and are efforts in both aspects and progressing) , the abandonement by the left and the tiredness of the Gilets Jaunes who are fighting already for 3 months with no support coming from any Union or party, and get confused themselves by this same situation.
No movement that have so many obstacles and who, because of its spontaneous nature lost it’s real prospective and therefore stagnates could survive without growing every saturday and gaining support in the working class.
I post this because myself also do not see a way out of this mud, but, as it has been the case before, and it is almost always what happened in a real movement, when every one do not see a way out, the masses by their action changes all.
If it s not the case, at least, this magnificent spontaneous movement has oppened a window, show to every one that rthe only possiblity is to fight and it surely is a light forward and an encouragement.
This Saturday, the demonstration brought together nearly 4500 Yellow Vests in Lyon, almost 5000 Yellow Vests in Marseille and a significant number of Yellow Vests in Paris that exceeded the joint demonstration of the CGT-Gilets Jaunes on February 5th.
All this information comes either from my direct involvement or from reliable sources.
I have no other figures from other cities but the total number of Yellow Vests at 6 p.m. was 112,000 demonstrators.
Given that last week’s figure is similar, we can say that the movement is present but it is not moving forward.
But the reality is more complex.
The movement is in a slow phase of maturation and consolidation, despite the fact that it has enormous gaps and deficiencies produced by the learning in action of a significant number of the Yellow Vests and their rejection of the political and trade union movement still present and claimed.
This situation is slowly changing, it is possible to distribute leaflets in a discreet way, to advance political ideas among a small circle.
In fact, although the movement is moving slowly, it is not developing sufficiently to attract larger masses of workers.
During the “general strike” decreed by the CGT and by the Yellow Vests, which in fact did not take place, the CGT, which only wanted to recover the Yellow Vests movement, did not do the work within the works (the atmosphere was not there either) and those of the Yellow Vests, who called for a “General Strike” from outside the companies, only expressed their desire for this strike to be carried out or for the idea to be put forward. There was also the idea of a test of unity between the Yellow Vests and the workers ‘working’.
This perspective can only be advanced if the CGT takes the initiative or if the Yellow Vests develop broad enough watchwords to attract the mass of workers and even the population.
The defence of public freedoms, the fight for the repeal of the so-called “anti-crackers” law, as well as the political accusations of Interior Minister Castaner and his damned souls, Griveaux and Nunez, can open such a perspective that would allow the integration of large layers of workers and intellectuals against repression and for the defence of public freedoms.
These ideas are put forward by a number of activists but they are not yet at the forefront of the movement’s demands.
Today a demonstrator lost a hand in Paris. This is the time to make such demands, but despite the public outcry, the opportunity may still arise due to a lack of clarity and organization.
And yet it is not the clarity that is lacking, at least in some General Assemblies.
On Friday, February 8, a meeting was held in a large room with somewhat 100 Yellow Vests, trade unionists, village public and… the local Macronist deputy and the Mayor of the Commune all of them registered with the president’s party, the LREM (the revolution in progress). This deputy had just passed the “anti-breakers” law, a liberticidal law if ever there was one, and claimed, with the help of a few auxiliaries to “serve him the soup”, that is, politely ask him the questions that would allow him to develop his “qualities”.
The Yellow Vests, the majority in the room, will not let him develop his pretty program and they accused him from the outset for what he was, a sub-offer of macronia, an accomplice to repression, a defector from the Socialist Party to the LREM in order to approach the pot and they asked for the MP’s expulsion.
The organisers, a bunch of very young and confused people, succeeded in keeping the MP’s presence by playing “democracy” again a prejudice that is maintained in the ranks of the GJs despite the gassing, beatings, loss of eyes and hands ripped off.
But this did not prevent a flood of accusations and denunciations from both the Macron government and the MP and the Mayor from the whole room, which was raging against the MP who had the courage to blame the injuries (largely shown to the MP with very telling photos) on the demonstrators. This made the anger go even higher and it took all the calm of the present not to end up with a Member of Parliament “in the lantern”.
Several of those in the room, trade unionists from the region’s major chemical and oil companies, also participated, showing that the member was faking the figures and/or did not know what he was talking about.
He remained even for one last round of accusations that pointed to Macron, Castaner’s primary responsibility and pointed to him as a “yes-man”, a puppet who approves everything that comes from the government without discussion, a professional deception and a defector who passes through all parties in search of his personal benefit.
He listened to this whole avalanche without responding, or justifying repression and unemployment as non-existent or due to the laziness of the unemployed.
During the two hours spent receiving these flights of green wood, he was almost always mute and despite the efforts of his accomplices, he had to leave the room between the participants’ quibbles.
The political awareness of a lot of young people who have watched interested in how a member of Parliament is exposed is one of the possibilities of a long movement like this.
General Assemblies or meetingst are being developped as a counterfire of Macron’s “Grand Débat”, or at the initiative of macronian people deceiving some Gilets Jaunes very confused or quite open agents of the macronia in the movement. But not only under these grounds. They can also be made because the GJs, somewhat inconciously are seeking a way to maintain, developpe and win more people to the movement but not loosing the mains caractheristic of it.
They are not willing either to accept any of the ones who try to deceive us will they be Majors or MPs..
The ungrateful experience experimented by this MP will perhaps put an end to such tries made by the communication staff of the power in view ot the next elections.
Also it is a good political lesson for some youth that has never heard about a working class political approach of the “respect” a MP “deserves” and how should be answer his presumptuousness.
Where we have another critical piece coming from comrade Luniterre that deal with some sociological considerations of the Gilets Jaunes movement.
I published for it’s interest in the understanding of this movement and I ask myself if in the UK, it happens the same way. Therefore I would appreciate some comments from there on the questinos put forward by Luniterre.
What if the “militant left” stopped telling themselves their own non-sens?
As we have seen recently (*), nearly 50% of paid employment in France is in SMEs (small and medium size entreprises called here PMI/PME).
The VSEs (very small entreprses ) still use 20% more.
A total of 70% for very small businesses.
And the remaining 30%????
The civil service, strictly speaking, represents 20% of employment in France.
And there are still nearly 5% of employees who depend on the public sector without being civil servants stricto sensu. (**)
In other words, the employees of large companies, those that directly serve as the economic and social basis for financial capital, represent at most 5 to 6% of the total number of employees.
To further refine this approach, it would be necessary to specify, in these 6%, how many are directly in the productive sector, how many are paid to the SMIC (minimal wage), productive or not, etc…
This is probably feasible, but the disproportion of the overall figures, compared to the usual discourse of the left, “extreme” or not, is sufficient to understand its total emptiness.
The vast majority of the proletarians, small-scale and productive, are found in SMEs and VSEs.
The economic and social basis of trade union bureaucracies, including, with a few exceptions, the anarcho-syndicalist sections, is found in the 30%, public sector and large companies, which are not mainly small-scale, nor even concerned by this level of remuneration.
By promulgating his activity bonus, which must be begged individually from the administration, Macron perfectly analyzed the situation after November 17, and, by counting on the inorganization of the smicard proletariat of the VSE-SMEs, by sending it back to its usual approach of individual survival, he simply potentially undermined the economic and social base of the spontaneously reborn popular unity on November 17, following the worsening of the social conditions of the proletarian majority in this country.
Given the depth and durability of the crisis, the current of sympathy remains, with regard to social protest, but the immediate motivation for taking action, and in particular, to the general and prolonged strike, has once again been skilfully replaced by the Macronian power by a return to individual “do as you can”.
The bureaucratic “left” CEGETISTE (C.G.T. Union pronounced cégété in french) and other bureaucratic “left” can quietly “remobilize” its social base to regain the ground lost in the sharing of subsidies and employer and state prebends, it no longer risks the “overflow” of the smicard proletariat which had awakened the “red demon” from a questioning of the system.
If there still existed, in this country, a truly proletarian left, it should (… or should have), logically, adapt its strategy and tactics to this state of affairs, and reflect on how to re-mobilize the proletariat of VSE-SMEs, but we can see that such a proletarian left does not exist in France, except for a few isolated and inorganized individuals.
A politically non-existent “force” and therefore currently unable to change the balance of power, which, slowly but surely, and with the objective and de facto complicity of the current left, even “extreme”, is being reconstituted in favour of the system.”
We have this conversation on telephone and all could tell him is that as much as this movement goes on and its ends cannot be predicted yet, the more young proletarians and workers in general can learn from it which is the best way to adquire a class conciousnes, in the fight not in the books.
But I cannot but agree with his analisis and conclusions that were forwarded before when we said that the left that, in the actual state of things or represent the worker’s aristocratie or a layer that is not in the fight( but could be in the close future if Macron developpe in its full extend his counter reforms.
Then, as much as the gilets jaunes movement remains the more the 30% of civil servants and workers from the big companies could unite with them and forge a real working class movement.
This, of course, will be counter by the Union bureaucratie, the whole press, the state aparatus, the xectarianism and stupidity or the left and extreme left parties but it is a posibilty that could never could be contemplated without the Gilet Jaunes movement that as Luniterre very acute has shown it is the movemnt of the poorest layers of the magnificent french working class.
The reconstruction of the parties of the working class is becoming more than a need, an absolute condition to go forward.
The problems with the Yellow Vest movement are NOT solely French problems, surely?
Surely, the problems are WORLD problems, both in terms of the GLOBAL CAPITALIST CRISIS that is driving events in France (including the use of the migration “safety valve” that is affecting the whole of Europe as hundreds of thousands of people flee economically-damaged areas of the planet) and the problems of MISLEADERSHIP of the mass movement?
The misleadership and confusion in would-be leaders (the petty-bourgeois cowardice, evasion and tail-ending the movement that you keep reporting on, Viriato) have to be FOUGHT to clarify what workers should actually do – which is to FIGHT FOR SOCIALIST REVOLUTION.
The misleadership takes the form of anarchism, reformism, social-democratic trade unionist traditions and the revisionist-reformist CGT, and the ANTI-COMMUNIST fake “left” – who constantly turn workers back to social-democratic illusions.
Obviously, thanks are due to Viriato for all the useful and wide-ranging reports and comments.
But how can the movement be directed to the RIGHT PATH without discussing and coming to better conclusions about all the previous attempts at the building of a revolutionary workers movement and the building of workers states, as in the revolutions and socialist-state building that made the Soviet Union, Cuba, Vietnam, China etc?
What happens with “militants” who are NOT prepared to study and use Leninism – you get Spain’s Podemos, Greece’s Syriza, the Corbynistas of the British Labour party, the Bernie Sanders US Democrats etc – ALL TOTALLY TREACHEROUS social-democrats who lead the masses down fatal blind alleys to FAILURE, MISERY and defeat at the hands of capitalist reaction.
The greatest activity of revolutionaries should be to assist the Yellow Vests and advanced workers everywhere to BREAK FROM the anti-communism and social-democratic illusions that protect the capitalist state.
In terms of “how do workers react to my speeches and leaflets in the UK?” I can report many POSITIVE individual responses in many years of work but still a general DISGUST with politics that holds the wider movement back. So “patiently explaining” remains the famous Leninist maxim.
I don’t know when THEORY will get a wider hearing among advanced workers; I hope soon. But I can be ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that unless the politics are REVOLUTIONARY LENINIST then they will only be helping the Macrons and Mays and Trumps to survive.
What is leninism? In my not so complete theoretical opinion is the most scientific guide for action that dispose the working class in the world. You can, or should add many writtings of Trotsky as his works on Germany, China (I know not fully his complete works), but even if we rest to Lenine that can be enough.
The problem is that when you have a boy at the primary school it is a bit of a waste to teach him advanced maths. You should pass the whole educational programm before arriving to the most advanced knowledge. This takes time and a minimum organisation that exists not.
And where the teachers ( or left parties) are reluctant to learn the boys for any reason they can have, (and the critics of Luniterre point in this direction) this process cannot be but very slow.
Friday there was a meeting organised by some Gilets Jaunes. You know, there are every sort of Gilets Jaunes as surely there are all sort of opinions in every country after 30 years of no marxists propaganda, of no “socialist” country, of no parties doing the work. It is as if those boys have lived in an ignoramus environnement till they come to school and a bad and confused school at that.
Well, that same friday they have invited a LREM MP who has just voted the “anti casseurs” law, a repressive law, and the MP is a trasfuge from the Socialist Party to the party of Macron, La LREM.
This can be the level of confusion between very young proletarian (no real full works but intermitent few hours works all life long today) that have participated fully to the movement … but they have invited that kind MP and were adressing him “Monsieur le Député” and some ones not being aware that the MP was there to promote himself for the next elections. Why? Because he is the MP of the “circonscription”= district…
I have made a repport on this. Well, after the meeting, they have heard and be witness exactly what they must learn as how to treat that kind of individuals and the ones that gives them the oportunity to become MPs.
People learn by their own practice or experience not by public statements or leaflets. Only very few people learn like this, and it is the worst way, reading books or texts.
It is the class fight dynamics that form generations of activists, that’s one of the reasons that militants should mandatory be inside mass movements of the class or the ones that have an important worker’s class component.
We are at the beginning of a beginning in that sens, I mean, mass (and only a part of the masses yet) taking very hard political lessons from the police, the governement, from the MPs, from the State, from the left and the right and even some fascist groups; from ultra left groups without other conciousness that fighting for themselves, briefly, a lot of political, primary lesson.
In that meeting some very good Union members tell us that “at the beginning of the Gilets Jaunes movement they were hesitants and mistrust the movement” (the ‘work’ of the “left” parties and, and this is important, the separation, the gap that there objectively is between still relatively well payed workers and the ones in the Gilets Jaunes movement, marginal workers (not know the exact word) that have as only way out or this revolt or “la démerde” that is, to try to get out of the shit individually because there are not Unions or parties for them. 70% of low wage earners in France.
Of course we must aim the RIGHT PATH but within the movement or doing it in a way that would put us in the margins or totally out the receptive ears at the actual level of conciousness of that proletarians?
Of course, to declame principles and propagate general truths is the easiest way
but it won’t work.
You should be in the movement with the RIGHT PATH in mind but walking all the meanderings of a real worker’s movement. Of course you can go quicklier with some of the more concious worker’s but you should be carefull enough to not to separate of the fighting masses and THINK EVERY STEP of the movement to push the more you can of workers to the RIGHT PATH.
I asure not of the succes but you will do as much as it is possible today and, if you get the transitional méthodology, that’s it the one of going a step forward ans sumarize as watchwords what the movement needs, and at the same time going to the RIGHT PATH by succesives aproximations, you can achieve much more.
To help this debate, I’ll give you an example of what I mean about the role of Marxist theory, which isn’t at all abstract or remote from the debates the Yellow Vests are having.
It is the immediate concern about the policy on immigration. All “anti-racist” fake “lefts” say “open all borders!” or “down with all immigration controls!”. This perplexes many in the Yellow Vests and many workers all around France (and the UK).
The reason is that it is totally mad REFORMISM and IDEALISM that does not SEE the objective reality of how capitalism uses immigration as a racket (to both divide and rule and to bring in cheap labour that undermines workers in their own countries). The immigration racket perpetuated by global capitalism is also used as a “safety valve” that tempts workers to leave their countries, rather than try to change their homelands by social revolution.
Real international solidarity, says Lenin, “is to fight for the revolution in your own country and for the revolutionary line in all countries without exception.”
Surely explaining that is helpful to the Yellow Vest movement who would perhaps otherwise be easily SPLIT and accused of “racism” by the middle-class fake “left” who have no understanding of the Marxist materialist method and simply voice their own “politically correct” reformist and idealist prejudices?
There is much more to be said about this, of course; but I am keeping this comment brief, and this is just to show that Marxism-Leninism has much to say in the fight to break workers and the Yellow Vests, if possible, from anti-communism, and to win them to socialist revolution.
Or another way of saying this is that every time a voice is raised giving social-democratic misleadership in Yellow Vest meetings or demos, then efforts should be made to counter the arguments with correct Leninist revolutionary understanding.
Just letting things ride in the hope that things get better would hardly be trying to WIN the CLASS STRUGGLE, would it?
You write “Or another way of saying this is that every time a voice is raised giving social-democratic misleadership in Yellow Vest meetings or demos, then efforts should be made to counter the arguments with correct Leninist revolutionary understanding.
Just letting things ride in the hope that things get better would hardly be trying to WIN the CLASS STRUGGLE, would it?”
Of course, of course but, the problem is that in meetings we are not yet even there…You should know that the left and the extreme left doesn’t do the work or for some parties very deficiently.
What should we do? Just wait for a “better” movement?
I am just arriving from a GM in Lyon. In the saturday’s demo, there was a fight between fascists and a groupement of extreme left comrades prepared to counter the agression.
Almost all the GM has passed on this question. There were at least 20 Gjs who said their word on this important question but … forgetting to link the fight against “fascism” with a prospective to give a new push forward to the fight against Macron. There are also in France some anti-jews acts in Paris and other places.
At least two persons tried to point the link between fascists and the governement policy. They pointed to a broader movement for the defense of public liberties (against the anti breakers law), for de defense of political prisonners (against the GJs sued and condemned) to put in the front line of the movement the social question (wages, pensions and subsidies) to accuse Castaner, Griveaux and Nunez for their responsability in the repression.
But most of all to give a propective to the movement in order to broaden its field and win worker’s and democrats or people who feel themselves as such and to isolate Macron.
But the fact is that the most of the meeting turned around the fight against those fascist groups that have not political support in the population and are just a group of provocateurs.
Of course there were some ones who wanted to go further, but doesn’t want “politics” even if what they were advancing was totally politic.
Then you have the “choise” in a meeting of 250 Gjs of:
1.- Keep your mouth shut (that’s what the unique member of LO present, do)
2.- Say, with very little following other that what can be retained by some of them, that of course we must defend ourselves but the best way to fight these fascists is with self organisation, fists and whatever but also politically, advancing watchwords that exclude the far right as increases in wages an defense of public liberties they could not follow. They still come because they are also for the RIC.
3.- You can talk endessly about their agressions and propose more organisation to fight them as it was proposed by some.
4.- Just say that those are fights betweeen little groups that do not concern the GJs movement (and create an uproar as it happened)
Well, here you have a sample of what really happened.
If, in the middle of this you throw a “marxist leninist doxa” in the meeting, you hardly could be heard and most probably taken as a martian.
The position 2 was defended by two GJs, the best choise I think. The others were 18 that, young as they are, were obnibulated by the fight and against fascist which is good but, IMHO, not enough.
Well, if there were a social democrat leadership … but in fact there is in this GM, a very confused number of GJs and the ideas must be “patiently” advanced as much as we can.
Or just “wait for a pure movement” I hope you don’t advocate. It is not easy matter and quite tiresome the real class fight in the conditions of very little class conciousness, very little political experiency, less even organisational will, but a lot of mistrust against parties.
But the tendancy is correct … in general… with oscillations, changes, backs and forwards.
Then you do as you can, alone, with no advice whatsoever that you could not get because every day class fight it is not general truths which resume a lot of days of fight and cannot give you a receipt for this kind of cooking. You just be guided only by your old failing head and try your best (not always the best) or take the easiest way of publishing leaflets with big words and no reception in the least.
One or the other, you sleep bad but continue as far as you can or quit as some comrades have done declaring that the movement is dead and whatever we do inside is useless.
What would you do in such conditions? You cant tell because you are not here and you can only have a partial idea as many french ‘comentators’ that are not in the movement, but write a lot of non sens calling for world revolution or something.
I am very sympathetic, Viriato, and I can see that it is not easy to raise the level of political debate. Getting the arguments heard is difficult precisely because the actions of the rotten French Establishment parliamentary parties, the unions and the fake “left” have spread disgust at politics for decades. Massive lots of ignorant anarchism, says Lenin, is what you get when you have had buckets of opportunism for decades.
But surely there is a STARTER argument that is very SIMPLE. Everything the Yellow Vests do, every action they take, every demo and every speech at a meeting will contain within it the dilemma: is this Yellow Vest rebellion to get Macron and the Establishment to LISTEN AND REFORM or should the rebellion aim to OVERTHROW Macron and the Establishment and set up a WORKERS GOVERNMENT?
What is the OBJECTIVE? What is the PERSPECTIVE? Is the world capitalist economy big and strong enough to give good wages, good hospitals, good schools, good pensions in France etc, or is the global capitalist trade-war system in such deep trouble (and warmongering) that it needs to be ended?
One method of argument that is very sensible and useful is to start with a Marxist-Leninist perspective and then ASK such QUESTIONS of a meeting room full of people.
The TRUTH in your questions has to start to get people thinking harder about these issues. The biggest thing workers need is a clear PERSPECTIVE – a clear outlook that capitalism is in deep crisis, heading for world war again, and that the capitalist STATE cannot be reformed but must be defeated and overthrown by socialist revolution. And not only in France but in the UK, Spain, Italy, Germany etc.
This takes you to the anti-Soviet anti-communism that “well workers states failed in the USSR and Eastern Europe so why would you want that in France?” to which the correct answer is “Actually, until liquidated by Gorbachev, the workers states made many great achievements; they were undermined by Stalinist revisionism and confused by their isolation in the Cold war; BUT they built socialism WITHOUT A CAPITALIST CLASS – proving that it can be done FOR ALL TIME. Also you have to say: “SO WHAT?! We will have to build a BETTER workers state in France (if we can) because there is NO OTHER ANSWER to capitalist collapse and international imperialist warmongering as the US Empire unleashes war-horror on many countries.”
The audience may or may not know about what is happening in Venezuela – but the attempted coup in Venezuela now, the Sisi coup in Egypt, and the Pinochet coup in Chile in 1973 all show that there is NO “peaceful, parliamentary road” to socialism.
The TRUTH will ALWAYS WIN in the end. Some listeners will be frightened, some responses will be backward and hostile, and some will start to see things more clearly in class-war terms.
Then the challenge is back to the person trying to be a Marxist-Leninist: how well do you (or I) understand the world situation, the class struggle, the nature of imperialist war-crisis, the historic scale of the confrontation between the revolutionary proletariat and the forces of imperialist reaction? How well do you or I understand revolutionary politics, Leninism and the battle against anti-communism?
I am not trying to be a “smart-ass” by saying all this. I know it remains difficult to turn people towards correct understanding and revolutionary politics. I do what I can too. I was at a meeting of 40-50 people last night. They were all pretending to be “communists” (CPBML) but were all actually British nationalists for Brexit and “British freedom and independence”. They were talking about the “British people” all the time – NOT the class struggle. Sad and funny at the same time. But I spoke about Leninism, capitalist trade-war crisis and socialist revolution and got a hearing. My speech did cause HUGE DIFFICULTIES for the rotten CPBML “leadership”. Lots of EPSR papers were taken at the end of the meeting. Good intervention!!
The TRUTH of world socialist revolution will win.
You should stay STRONG and CONFIDENT in your revolutionary views. Your on-the-spot reports from France are really helpful, Viriato. Your honest words about the difficulties are helpful. Reports of the spirit and substance of the meetings showing the level that people are at are very helpful to the overall struggle. So find YOUR WAY of speaking up for Leninism and socialist revolution and against reformism; find a way of deepening your understanding (read more Lenin!) and be aware that the MORE PASSIONATE you are when you speak the more people will take you seriously and be moved by what you say.
Be CONFIDENT that if you are arguing for Revolution and the drive for a WORKERS STATE then you are RIGHT whatever anyone says or does! The movement NEEDS you to argue for revolution.
The Yellow Vests are a REBELLION! What should a REBELLION do, if not TAKE THE POWER?? The movement needs Leninist revolutionary politics.
“Without revolutionary theory, there will be no revolutionary practice” – Lenin.
In fact, the movement, all spontaneous movements in it’s beginning are rebellionsof the poorest that demand to the powerfull to give them what they need. The coment on those young GJs asking the MP, with polite words, not to forget them is an exemple.
Then, they see with their own eyes or by the action of militants when this is posible, or by their own experiency, and go further. Of course our labor is to open the eyes of the masses and win politically the most advanced, organise them if it posible, and educate them and us in the fight.
Yesterday there was a politicall call, the first one coming from the left with some chances of succes, to stop the repression and gathred people for a demo that would join the Gilet Jaunes.
This is surely the act of Mélenchon because the call comes from the MPs and senators of the LFI (France Insoumise).
I translate what has been published in the regional discusion blog of the LFI by me and my coments suited for the public that reads that blog who are more or less left social democrats but someones in the Gilet Jaunes movement.
I also publish there more socialist coments openly defending marxism and leninism. As I do in other blogs.
” Le Figaro publishes the following flash:
“Deputies and senators of La France Insousmise (LFI) called Tuesday for a rally in Paris on Saturday, March 16 against the “authoritarian drift” of power, which will then join the weekly parade of “yellow vests”.
“The government despises the popular anger that has been expressed in the country for more than three months. Faced with social and democratic demands, its authoritarian drift has become obvious,” said the LFI parliamentary group, led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, in a statement to the Assembly.
“Legitimation and incitement to the disproportionate use of police violence, liberation laws, preventive arrests by the thousands, searches against the opposition or an independent newspaper, political use of police and judicial resources, invasive state propaganda as a “big debate” monopolising both private and public media. That’s enough,” the elected representatives denounce.
Parliamentarians call those “who are committed to democratic rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law” to a rally in Paris on 16 March, to say “no to authoritarian drift”, at the end of which they suggest joining the “yellow vests” demonstration.
This is exactly the perspective we need to work on. Elections can wait a little while and on balance they depend to a large extent on the success of this initiative, but that is not the main thing.
The main thing is the success of this demonstration, which will be a very strong political blow against the liberticides and the Castaner gang, whose resignation or prison must already be requested, as is still too rarely done in demonstrations.
This call, the same one we have been asking the GAs for three weeks, is taking shape.
In my opinion, it should be the call of parties and trade unions and other associations defending public freedoms, as well as artists, scientists, intellectuals and anyone who cares about their most basic rights, which have been violated by the Castaner, Thrushes and Nunez clique under Macron’s orders.
It is essential to get to work in order to unite as many people as possible and as many organizations as possible to politically isolate the handful of billionaires who, through their political puppets, want to restrict public freedoms in order to pass their anti-worker laws.
All in Paris on the 16th! The success of this demonstration depends on far too much not to put the whole package into it.”
As you see, there is not a word of leninism or world revolution or nothing of the sort, but I think that the comments are leninists…
If this demo is a succès and if these words are taken by the Gilets Jaunes movement, this demo will be a step forward even if in this call there are much of an electoral profit for the LFI.
Things are complex and you must have the following compromise: “they gave us a prospective that the few comrades who are inside cannot put forward despite all their efforts and we give them some electoral support but under the condition that their action comes in favor of the Gilets Jaunes”.
Of course, we have not the forces to impose them whatsoever and we are forced to follow them as the watchwords on this precise matter are, in general, corrects and it is the most to the left this courent can go.
There is nothing else as a political oposition to the governement. Not even coming from the extreme right, they don’t call for demos yet.
To stop the repression is an urgent need to developpe more the GJs movement, and if there is a united front between the Unions, the left partis (no matter their treason) and extreme left parties (no matter their absence), democrats and the devil and his grand mother to fight for public liberties that permit to advance, this will be be a step forward and a victory to all the ones who are fighting to get the GJs movement out of it’s stagnation with broader watchwords that can unite the most and isolate Macron, Castaner and his gang.
To this point, if achieved and it won’t be easy you must be ready to put forward other watchwords to isolate encore the governement and push this cold “united front” of social democrats and bureaucrates in the sens of the revolt of Gilets Jaunes.
Inside the movement this will facilitate the political work, and because of the mistrust of parties and unions push more to the left the whole movement that will or should be the result of this demo.
When the Gilets Jaunes begin to talk of what kind of governement they want (and the RIC, as much as a confusion is, express primary ideas on this question) we can advance the critic of the RIc, that has been advanced but that is not yet something that has been fully understood and remains maginal, and propose, step by step, socialism even if in the form of watchw-ords that have the full content but not the word yet.
Perhaps my tactical conception is too slow, I cannot have a look from above, a critic point of view is much needed, but in the conditions of the movement is what I think best. You can also never forget that there is almost nobody advancing whatsoever albeit the usual leftists non sens that has not the slightest grip on the masses. All the left has just don’t do the work. now, because of elections near and perhaps because of some left spirit in some very young MPs or in Mélenchon who has have a correct attitude even if not politivvcally fully correct, there apears an oportunity to push forward the GJs movement.
But, one thing is a movement that has put in action the least political layers of the working class, the ones “laissez pour compte” (the “leave them behind or out”); retired worker’s, precarious workers, the ones on very low subsidies to survive, etc. but who are the ones and their needs that keep the movement going, and another is a political meeting of a “marxist” (I don’t know) party. There of course you shold speak another langage as we do when the ocasion presents, but the political work in the masses should, first of all be made knowing what can be taken by the masses and what not… a step forward.
That’s is IMHO what, at first look, diferences a leninist from a non sensical “gauchiste” (leftist) that throws their full doxa, first of all not studying the field nor the masses, as irresponsible people as they are.
Saturday’s demonstration took place “traditionally” if you can say so, i.e. with the “traditional” initial indecisions with two speakers and a sound system (which worked when she wanted but she didn’t often want it) which played two speeches and standing up pretended to make two “separate” demonstrations; one on the spot (what for?) and another which would make the same demo as always.
Note, it’s not so bad because what counts finally is the number at the end of the journey.
As “traditionally” there were a few hundred people at Bellecour Square at 2pm.
Likewise, as is the tradition, when the procession set off on the initiative of a few Yellow Vests who had nothing to do with “polemics” by interposed loudspeakers, the procession grew to the number, say 3500-4000 participants. This is honourable, although not enough yet, while maintaining a spirit of firm, constant and determined struggle spirit to continue.
But the demonstration was blocked towards the city centre by the Gendarmes. I didn’t see the BAC, the police officers closest to the extreme right and the most aggressive, grenade and gas throwers nor the fascists although I was told that they remained at Place Bellecour but peacefully, better for them for they would have a lot to do because a large group was waiting for them.
It is also possible that those who have remained are the “Asselineau” who are more “civilized” although some of them are amalgamated by some demonstrators with the identitaires real fascists. Asselineaux are rifgt wing but not fascists, a denomination too easely taken for any right wing party by the leftists.
In any case when the parade left and which, as is always the case, led the present mass, which is little or not informed (fortunately) of the fantasies of the self-proclaimed leaders, and those who remained at Place Bellecour were, as always, very few in number.
There was talk of a parallel demonstration both in Bourg en Bresse (regional, etc.) or in Geneva in front of the United Nations headquarters to denounce the repression, but the act of Bourg was postponed for next week because half of the regions had not been informed.
If some GJs moved there, Saturday’s demonstration could have been even bigger and this time without incident (to my knowledge) between anti-fafs and identitaires.
Nevertheless, we discussed the issue with some comrades present and insisted on the political demarcation and political denunciation of the fascists plus the necessary precautionary measures against their aggressions, but these measures, the movement takes them without the need for advice which is an obvious progress.
We agreed that putting forward the social demands, salaries, pensions etc. that M.L. Pen had rejected; as well as denouncing the repression and pointing Castaner and Macron were the objectives to be achieved with placards and other means of propaganda, so we should and could politically isolate the extreme right and or cut off their desires to march and put the mass of GJs politically against them if they came.
There remains to be flesh and blood of the movement thess ideas which is the political component but it will comebecause of the fundamental trend of this movement, i.e. oscillations that find slow but surely the right way, is confirmed but there is no reason why this should not happen as indications seem to confirm it.
In general, we can say that combativeness and persistence are there; that there is no demoralization or discouragement, quite the contrary, people are firm in the “we won’t let go of anything” and that little by little, slowly but surely things are getting in place.
Politically, not a single LO in sight, few France Insoumise, but the POI (fraction of ex-lambertist party) in force and distributing leaflets and selling their newspaper. As well as the local young MLs although with a leftist (gauchiste) leaflet.
Overall assessment: a good demonstration, the movement is still on the spot but we are not far from getting rid of the fascist slag and that is a very good point. Now we must give our full support to the political issue.
BBC News is now quoting middle-aged French women from a small town saying that: “If things don’t improve in France, there will be civil war – a revolution!”
Shouldn’t Marxist-Leninists give a lead on this? Starting with a perspective explaining that capitalism is going to plunge even more steeply into global economic crisis and warmongering making talk of revolution and civil war exactly CORRECT, and talk of reforms or parliamentary democracy just mouldering on extremely misleading.
A question I have no answer.
In general it is correct.
In the actual, particular situation it is not, just as you propose it.
Perhaps a mix of both.
In my perception (as bad as another) we are nearer a defeat then a revolution.
There are not MLs parties nor Trotskist parties here.
The only so-called MLs are not more than some individualities far by ‘light years’ from any influence in the masses and the so called “trotskists” not only they are not what they pretend, but they have just snobbed the GJs Movement ad the fighting masses and they are as always doing their rutine ‘work’. That’s it, what they whim to do far away from what the masses do.
Only the POI (a split from Lambertist, not exactly a reference) has have some, shall we say “decent” position. Or some homeopatic groups with no influence whatsoever and mostly “gauchistes” (extreme lefttists).
The ones who have been trying to do … something, most of them are tired after three month fight, some have abandoned the movement, others are totally at lost what will be the course of the movement, other still are in but collide with a petit bourgeois écolo tendancy or others obstacles.
The movement is loosing their proletarian base and ‘gaining’ some petit bourgeois talk-friendly, consensuel bunch of people with concerns about “overconsommation” (?!) and the “Earth but not human beeings”, “Deconstruction, decroissance” and the like,(just what Macron needs) even if it is still a basic proletarian movement.
There are still people that think that the only solution is a revolution i.e. the end of capitalism. That I agree but, there are not the means to go there.
Or things has changed to the point that without a party, nor an organisation, with the oposition of the Unions and the left parties, the indiference of the 30% of the working class that has still a secure job, a revolution can happend. Perhaps I don’t know, I don’t think so, but who knows? Perhaps the BBC?
You should take in account that from some four weeks the movement put in the streets some 120 000 demonstrators in the whole France. You should think that in others Union’s fights (or monhtly ‘strollings’ to no use at all) there were more than one millions workers out, or more, Till 10 millions some time ago..
Tomorrow will see if things goes up or down, but a movement that for four weeks is stagnant and do not find a political perspective nor leaders, even if there are some good news about (and bad news in other domaines) can only remain because of it’s profound roots.
How much? That I do not know either.
Why? Because there are some many parameters I cannot deal with. I just do not know, I have not the brains not the force to see clear and books are of little help (leftism, not at all).
All I can do is to go to the demos, discuss whereever I can and hope (is almost a religious perspective) that people would find by succesives approachs the solution. And I do, even more, to the point of I can take it no more.
I am no Lenine. Instead, I am, at 70 years old, exhausted, ‘stanco morto’ confused militant.
If there is a revolution that has been called by everyone for years, please, then, give as much as support as you can … The ones who will take the lead, not me, an inmigrant that follows and do as he can, will be grateful of your help.
But, your general concept, is correct. Lenine said that the art of politics was to combine general truths with the particularities of the actual situation.
Try, for once, the particularities.
It may be that for a better understanding of the movement at its current stage (with reservations because the movement is by nature “unpredictable”, varied and changing) I will present you with a leaflet containing the most well-known claims of those advanced by Yellow Vests.
This leaflet was distributed in last Saturday’s demonstration to the public and is only one of several leaflets that will be distributed in the markets or at the exit of the factories… if this is done, because another of the characteristics of the movement is the complete lack of “party discipline”. So everyone does as they please and thoss flyers distributions are done thanks to activists who have union or political experience but have all the pains of the world to mobilize others.
As an anecdote, it was announced two weeks earlier that an “action” to block oil refineries “all over France” would take place from 3 a.m.
Whoever got up and went, found only cops and not a single Yellow Vest. People who announce “actions” that do not result in anything, this happens, as do others happend who bring together a number of the Yellow Vests (retirees, the unemployed, those who can come).
We are still before the First International with aspects of the “Fifth”.
Here is the leaflet:
“We, Yellow Vests, demand” (This in Capitals, the presentation spreads the claims all around the flyer
The restoration of the wealth tax (ISF)
The increase in the minimum wage (SMIC), wages and pensions and social minima
A real fight against tax and employer evasion and fraud
Free access to health, justice, education
Restoring public services in rural areas
The renationalisation of motorway networks, railways, water, electricity and gas.
The right to decent housing
The right to work with dignity
A tax on financial transactions (Tobin tax)
Equal pay for women and men
To increase the resources given to justice, hospitals and national education
The amnesty and release of the Yellow Vests convicted during the movement
To reallocate the €40 billion from CICE to ecological transicion (CICE is a gift from the State to employers)
The immediate withdrawal of glyphosate and pesticides recognized as harmful and supports peasant agriculture (“small” agriculture)
The protection of whistleblowers.”
signature: Extract of the 50 claims established by the Yellow Vests Assembly in Lyon on XX/01/2019
Every marxist, leninist, trotskist or even left reformist (albeit the ones who have snobbed the movement) could sign these claims but without a party and activists it could only rest as propagande stuff.
Talking in the demo with someone more or less anarchist, he is more or less in the same position. To say, he sees “advances in terms of organisation” in the movement, “constancy or persistance”, but a lot of “backs and forth but advancing slowly even if finally in the good direction” and thinks that as far as it can goes the better will be.
The movement continues its course while stagnating. The demonstrations followed one another every Saturday with the same number of demonstrators except for the day when the petty bourgeoisie, which is worried for “the planet” (but not for the planetarians), joined our struggle.
In some places, commissions are formed to support workers’ strikes or to pull in popular markets, in places where public transport is co-located, at the exit of important Metro outlets.
It is an effort to win back our audience, we mainly target the working and/or popular districts.
But that’s not enough to move forward. In any case, we have an image of combative people. It happened that when we supported strikes the boss gave in& quickly from “fear of the Yellow Jackets”… and yet we were only demonstrating very peacefully but with our songs and war cries.
Recently some Local Unions very influenced by the Yellow Vests, issued a call to demonstrate together in Paris on April 27.
I do not yet know the reaction of the CGT’s national management, but if this man
UD CGT 13
5 h ·
The Government – Medef (bosses union) want to destroy everything!!!!!
To face reactionary policies, let us oppose a popular front! (this popular front is in fact a united worker’s front because if you read the call, is adressed only to workers. My comment)
CALL FROM FEDERATIONS AND DEPARTMENTAL UNIONS CGT: FNIC, Commerce, UD 94, 04, 59, 41, 66, 95, 18, 13 TO TRADE UNIONS, POLITICAL AND PROGRESSIVE ASSOCIATIONS AND PROGRESSIVE ACTIVISTS INVOLVED IN ONGOING MOBILISATIONS: YELLOW VESTS, PINK VESTS, CLIMATE, HOUSING
Emmanuel MACRON, his government and his majorité́, no longer hide their intentions to destroy our social model and all the social achievements that constitute the individual and collective rights and guarantees of the world of workers and populations.
To satisfy the appetite of the financial markets and shareholders, everything must be done.
Financial rigour is required and everything that hinders profit must disappear for the benefit of big business. In concert with the European Union, all means are put in place to satisfy the Medef:
– breaks of the labour law
– break-up of the civil service
– competition and privatisation of the public sectors,
– breakage of the Social Security,
– breaks down our solidarity-based pension system,
– break of our industries,
– massive redundancy plans in many sectors.
These policies have dramatic consequences on our working and living conditions. It spares no one, private and public employees, pensioners, young people, the unemployed and the precarious, all suffer the effects of the reactionary political choices at work in the country.
Faced with this, many struggles are being waged in companies and administrations. They reject these bad blows and demand other solutions that promote social progress and sometimes lead to victories.
The claims made by these struggles are often identical to those made by hundreds of thousands of yellow vests over the past 4 months, in particular on social and fiscal injustices, the need for alternative distribution of wealth, the need for public services, environmental issues etc….
All these movements concretely illustrate the will of a great majorité́ of workers, retirees, unemployed, young people, to put an end to the logic of capital monopolizing wealth for the benefit of a few privileged people, to put workers and peoples in competition, to destroy the planet, to destroy all these logic that make life more difficult every day and the future uncertain.
In response, the President of the Republic, his government and the employers use the repression of one side and the manipulation of the other.
The entire reactionary camp is mobilized and united to impose its choices.
Emmanuel MACRON’s great debate will not bring anything good to those who suffer his policies, there is nothing to expect from a power at the orders of the bosses who are preparing to make any challenge impossible by prohibiting events.
Things are clear, what we will obtain will be the fruit of the balance of power that we will be able to create. From this point of view, the situation appeals to all the trade union, associative and political organizations of the country that make up the progressive camp, just like those who, for the past four months, have been fighting with yellow jackets as to the solutions to be implemented. to bring out a social movement capable of putting a stop to the social regression policies under way in the country.
Without having ready-made solutions, we need to start from a few obvious observations: – first, the attack is global and therefore concerns all sectors, all
categories of workers and all generations,
the entire reactionary camp is mobilized and united to impose its choices.
In unison, The Republic In March (Macron’s party. my comment), the right, the far right and the employers, work to make the sacrifices imposed on us inevitable. For that, they work on the guilt, the fatalism and the division of those who would be interested in joining together to change things. This, with the support of the major media they almost all have.
To this day, the division of progressive organizations, the scattering of struggles in and out of the business, weigh on our collective abilities to raise the balance of power. However, if the attack is global, the response to be up to it must be too.
For that, we must act together, in the widest unity, in order to consolidate and make converge all the ongoing struggles and to give envy, courage and determination to the greatest number in order to raise the social movement to the level of issues.
This must be done through a dialogue between our organizations and yellow jackets everywhere, at all levels and lead to common demands to federate and set in motion the greatest number of people. The topics are not lacking and the solutions either, the questions of jobs, salaries and pensions, tax justice, etc …
In the general interest, what brings us together must take precedence over what divides us and we are convinced that by building together a platform of demands that breaks with the logic of capital, bringing with it the prospect of progress, we can do it. The means exist to do it, we have to go together to find the riches we produce and steal.
Because the victory and possible, because together we can do it, the signatory organizations call all the unions, associations, political, yellow vests, all those who refuse the dictatorship of capital, to engage in the success of a great national mobilization in Paris on April 27th.
In the meantime, let’s create everywhere the conditions for the success of all actions and events during the week and Saturdays.