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16/04/2019 by socialistfight

It is an arm-wrestling match that must be maintained until May 1 when the Yellow Vests should join the union’s demo

By Viriato Lusitania

The Gilets movement, which is still the main political element in France, continues its demonstrations but it stagnates in number of participants although the people participating in it change quite frequently. The pressure of repression is strong and the number of wounded and imprisoned is unpreceded for many years.

More than twenty GJs lost an eye, dozens with facial bones broken into several pieces, hands torn off, 800 GJs sentenced to prison terms and trials by the thousands are on-going. The government has enacted a law that allows the Prefectures to ban all demonstrations without the intervention of the courts and even to arrest people without a court order or justification.

The persistence and determination of the Yellow Vests shows that the movement has deep social roots and now is drifting to the left but not yet to much class consciousness. Today, three main currents are present in this movement. In any case, the movement by its own characteristics should move even further to the left.

● Mélenchon or France Insoumise.

● The anarchists, self-declared or not

● A serious coming together of other workers and Unions

To situate this paper in time, I assume the reader is aware of previous developments in other issues of SF. On March 16 there was a large demonstration of the Yellow Vests and ecologists, but the press concentrated on the action of some “black blocks”, a semi-anarchist group, rather than reporting on the fighting and the most proletarianized layers of the youth. On March 23rd, Macron deployed the army, which announced that if attacked, it would fire live ammunition.  Neither on that day nor a week later, on the 30th, did the black blocks show up. It is part of their tactics.

After the fight which centered mainly in Paris, and the call to the army against the Yellow Vests, the influential currents in the Yellow Vests movement can be defined roughly as follows:

MARSEILLE, FRANCE – APRIL 14: Jean-Luc Melenchon, the Presidential candidate for Front De Gauche, speaks in front 100,000 people during an election campaign meeting on the Prado Beach ,on April 14, 2012 in Marseille, France.Jean-Luc Melenchon is the third favorite in the French presidential election. (Photo by Patrick Aventurier/Getty Images)

The dominant one is under the political influence of France Insoumise, and therefore of Mélenchon, which has resulted in the one hand in the disappearance of the right and the extreme right in any organized form in the movement but on the other the appearance of the types of demands and proposals which are put forward so that the tendency begins to organize the movement and advance demands in accordance with a political reform in the sense of a parliamentary republic and a Keynesian type plan to end the crisis.

The Algerian example, which peacefully but massively succeeded in kicking out Bouteflika and even the activity of the Black Blocks also had the negative effects of driving away the mass of demonstrators but even this had positive effects; it enhanced the image of the Yellow Vests as combatants. But it has reinforced Melenchon’s tendency, because it appears to the majority that minority clashes against an organized and disciplined repressive body cannot decide the question.

Most likely, their influence will appear to be further strengthened after the Saint Nazaire meeting where more than 300 local general meetings, sent representatives. There is no other organization as broad and representative and the trend is to rely on the resolutions of Saint Nazaire.

The second trend is more the product of the abandonment by the left and far left of the Yellow Vests movement and by years of “socialist” governments in the service of the capitalists and against the workers. This trend is occupied… not by real anarchists but by their ideology which remains extreme liberal. It is composed of all tendencies who are opposed to any form of organization, some even coming from the ecology movement to save the planet, others who favour confrontation and “violence” smashing things up because they do not understand the development of a social movement of the masses and they despise the workers.

This growing trend among young people who are just starting to fight and who are enthusiastic about mediatized forms that seem to produce “concrete” results (although there is nothing but a strengthening of propaganda and repressive power laws) is particularly unclear, individualistic and youthful. It can be described as “semi-anarchist” because anarchists have a better understanding of the need to organize themselves. These semi- anarchists are opposed to any form of “pyramidal” organization that is most necessary for the continuation of the movement as well as actions towards the still passive population and favors the actions of small groups which, according to them, disturb the “consensus”. There is a poorly hidden contempt for workers conceived as “stupid” or “conformists” and other forms of bourgeois thought.

Often Melenchon’s supporters, the ‘Insubordinate France’ (France Insoumise), and semi-anarchists coincide in their rejection of the “bureaucratic forms” that in their view means any form of democratic centralism and delegation of power. Instead they promote a so-called “direct democracy” that is always transformed into command or maneuvers which they treat by denial. As a result, meetings and resolutions become very long and/or difficult to obtain and much more difficult to implement.

So, the tendency to move the movement out towards the workers, in the working class neighborhoods, is the result of a few militants, coming from the left or extreme left parties, dissatisfied with their leadership or trade union activists and/or some anarchists of proletarian origin and with greater fighting experience. For the past month, this trend has been distributing leaflets outside workplaces, the Metro and markets in working-class neighborhoods. The public reception is still good, and the popularity of the Yellow Vests’ demands remains high, although the movement itself has backed off by the image of “violence” that the press has managed to give it.

The aim is to attract workers but above all to direct the movement towards the conjunction between the working-class unions and class fighters. In trade unions there are also tendencies that push to join in the fight, but the direction from the national leaders put the brakes as much as they can. It is an arm-wrestling match that must be maintained until May 1 when the Yellow Vests should join the union’s demo.

We should add a sort of “youth tendency” because there are a significant number of young people who enter political life, initially through “action” and who begin to make their political weapons, often under the influence of semi-anarchists, in any case with their conception of ideas which appears quite clearly as a form of liberal and “anti-Leninist” thought… without having any idea of what is Leninism!

Assemblies are widespread and it is possible to put forward ideas and we already perceive that illusions are beginning to give way and that we can criticize capitalism, say it is irreformable and propose its overthrow.  Recently a meeting bringing together more than 250 local General Meetings all over France took place in Saint Nazaire. Things are moving forward and will continue to move forward on this aspect.

These days, the debate has been ideologically driven. A series of books and films have been published on the issue of the Yellow Vests, generally presenting the point of view of lawyers, philosophers and journalists, or relatives of the Insubordinate France. It is absolutely necessary to advance the point of view of proletarian thought; a very important task and comrades are working out a brochure.

This GJs movement should be studied by every person who fights capitalism. In the present conditions it would necessarily be the form of revolt against impoverishment, against Union’s bureaucracy and the so called “left” parties who cannot give a lead to it. ▲

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