The May 1st demonstration in Paris, Lyon and Marseille


03/05/2019 by socialistfight

How the BBC saw it

This demonstration, which in other years was only a boring formality, turned into its opposite by the action of almost six months of struggle of the Yellow Vests.

The government, which has been relying on images of “violence” to drive the union base and the population away from the Yellow Vests and thus liquidate a movement that influences the entire political spectrum, but above all changes the demoralized mentality of whole section of the proletarians, had announced a huge repressive police deployment to counter the “breakers”, or the Black blocks (which the government equates to the Yellow Vests) who had expressed their intention to demonstrate.

The strength of the Yellow Vests example had forced the CGT leadership to invite them to form the head of the May Day procession. Thus, in Lyon, in Marseille, the Yellow Vests demonstrated at the head of the processions. “The homage of vice to virtue” as French people say.

In Lyon and Marseille with processions that mobilised three times the number of demonstrators on other occasions, the parades went very well, the unity was achieved without problems. Many of the trade unionists even thanked the Yellow Vests for their fighting spirit and perseverance.

But in Paris, the center of the country’s political life and the traditional place of all the French revolutions, the government mounted a crude provocation.

The parade was attacked from the beginning and directed towards the leader of the CGT, Martinez, the same one who had held back the trade union as much as he could, who was forced to abandon the parade for a while, because the tear gases that the cops fired at them was particularly strong.

It is their tactic, to attack the parade in the middle to cut it in half, isolate and send home the elderly, the new comers and those who come with their families and liquidate the rest who remained.

At the height of the Place d’Italie square, where the demonstration ended, the police once again charged and  had “nasée” (police technique that isolate and encircled a large group of demonstrators), mostly Yellow Vests, who were at the head of the procession, forcing them to take refuge in a nearby Hospital La Salpetrière.

Then Castaner, the Interior minister, called a press conference to denounce “an assault of the Hospital” by vandals and barbarians, i.e. the Yellow Vests because the Black Blocks that were also present, were not there and even marched without creating incidents… It is always the case when the demo is big enough it will “drown” that semi-anarchists or provocateurs in the masse.

The press, of course, blew the trumpets of Macronia (Macron-ism), but the testimonies of the hospital nurses, as well as the videos taken by the demonstrators, tore apart Castaner’s provocation.

Today, the accusations of Castaner and the Ministers of Health and the Prime Minister, which also sing Castaner’s tune, have been shattered and the entire opposition is calling for Castaner’s resignation.

The Macronian government’s silly tactics were aimed at the unity of the Yellow Vests and Trade Unions, but the result of their stupid provocations will have a diametrically opposite effect because it was so obvious, that the written press turned against such a clumsy minister.

Today, the main aspect of the policy against the Yellow Vests, repression and the minister who leads it without any kind of scruples, has just failed before everyone’s eyes and the press is unable to defend it, even though its previous action appears for what it was, false manipulations and an incredible repression for the standards of a bourgeois democracy.

May 1st, therefore, was a complete political defeat for Macronia, not only because their provocations exposed themselves in everyone’s eyes, but above all because their tricks cannot prevent the strengthening of the unity of the Yellow Vests, the trade unionists and soon the environmentalists to continue the isolation work of Macron and his lamentable ministers.

The political blow exposed their inability to deal with the situation and Castane’s career hangs by a thread. Macronia is so politically isolated, that it will be very difficult to find an interior minister who wants to replace this former friend of the Marseilles gangsters and a dilettante of “politics”.

As always in movement that is going forward, every action of the bourgeois, backfires and every political phenomenon, makes possible an increase in worker’s and population consciousness and pushes the movement forward.

It is not yet a full turn in public opinion but it is taking the way. It is difficult to imagine which political issue rests to Macron other than a clumsy electoral “duel” against Marine le Pen. But, the push of the working masses fight should also give momentum, in this electoral field, to the only left option present, the one of the social democracy, France Insoumise led by Mélenchon.

4 thoughts on “The May 1st demonstration in Paris, Lyon and Marseille

  1. Melenchon may get a big vote but don’t present it as an enthusiastic working-class vote because the great mass of workers are already deeply disillusioned with social democracy (as they are in the UK with Labour including Corbyn) and are in the process of making a final historic break with reformism.
    What is obviously required is the building of a nucleus of a really revolutionary Leninist party that has gone beyond the idiocies of both revisionist Stalinism and anti-Soviet Trotskyism, and that is focused on both explaining the monopoly-imperialist global crisis and with winning the day for party-led proletarian dictatorship. Once workers start to be able to follow the political perspectives of a really revolutionary Marxist party, then that party will grow and be unbeatable. They need to see it in action, so they can see it is the party for them.
    To get there, the greatest political polemical debate in history needs to occur, where all the old reformist and anti-communist lies about the West’s “freedom and democracy”, Solidarity in Poland, Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968, the “colour revolutions”, the role of the KGB, Cheka, the Berlin Wall etc, need to be gone through so that communist thinking can triumph.


  2. Viriato says:

    Mélenchon won’t get a “big vote” but not as bad as surveys give him. Better if he gets more and could advance Macron or ML Pen. Every other left list is far from La France Insoumise and Working class people and Gilets Jaunes will vote F.I.
    LO, PCF, PS, other (there are 33 lists) will only rests votes to the only left option in the actual conditions of elections here.

    He is in fact, wether we like it or not, the only one capable of getting in the middle of Macron-le Pen “duel” if the abtentionists understand that an electoral triumph of the new conservatives (the LREM here in France) or le Pen’s RN, (extreme right) will be a severe blow against the Gilets Jaunes and the rising, but still not a full swing rise, of the working’s class fight.

    Well, I prefer, with the working class, a social democrat to a semi fascist as Le Pen or a réactionnary near to become a dictator as Macron. Both of them have the same capitalist program and the same means to pass it through, i.e. State repression.

    Abstention doesn’t work as we have the bitter experience of the last election which saw Macron elected because of a high abstention … of the working class. (the bourgeois neighboorhoods vote always. They have more class conciousness than us)

    Historically, in bourgeois democracies, an electoral triumph of the social democrats can be a big stimulus for the masses to go for more.
    In Chile, the triumph of Allende give a spur so important that workers went to the threshold of a revolution. In the conditions of a rise in the working class fight spirit, an electoral win can trigger a big leap in the working class fight.

    These elementary ideas are à coffin sealed with seven padlocks to dogmatics.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Surely the case of Allende tells exactly the opposite story? The mass of the “left” supported Allendeism and went like sheep to the slaughter of the Pinochet coup of 1973.
    So all this “support the most left parliamentary candidate” thinking, which is called Popular Frontism, is mistaken.
    Why did Lenin keep breaking with all other streams of thought in the approach to the Russian Revolution? Because only Bolshevism will do. Marxist leadership is required to make revolution. Everything else is reformist social-democracy which will lead the masses into the lethal death-trap of bourgeois parliamentary illusions – which the bourgeoisie will crush into the blood-stained dirt by the “fair means” of total media and state control, or the “foul means” of murdering torture and military coup d’état.


  4. Viriato says:

    You’re confusing everything.

    First of all, the question is not the outcome of the Historical Compromise intented by Popular Unity in Chile, but whether or not left-wing communists, when they are a handful, must support a reformist, social-democratic or’progressive’ candidate in the context of an increase in mass struggles as was the case during Allende’s election, or not.

    The end of this adventure (because under the political guidance of the right wing of the Popular Unity it ended in catastrophe) has nothing to do with the precise tactics of the communists on elections. With this unreasonable way of thinking, we should have ask ourselves whether we should have a Russian revolution because the “result” was Gorbachev.

    Next week-end, in France, there will be European elections. The media presented the masses with the “alternative” Macron-Le Pen. There is no communist group or party or that claims to be such, which will make a score reaching 3%. Far less for a lot of them.

    The only organization different from the Macron-Le Pen “choice” is the Insubordinate France that could reach 10%. There is a great risk that M.L.Pen will overtake Macron. F.I. will do poorly because the manoeuvres against Mélenchon and the F.I. have filled the media for months. The bourgeoisie knows its opponent because the Melenchon vote is seen as a left-wing vote by the workers and the médias.

    There will ne a huge abstention, but it can only help Marine Le Pen and it does not constitute a conscious opposition other than a political refusal.

    So what should be done in this specific case?

    Throw some general truths to the public opinion and go home satisfied? We will then have either Macron who will hasten to say that he has been re-elected and will take the opportunity to liquidate the Yellow Vests because “the confidence of the people will be confirmed” as he will surely say;
    Or we’ll have Marine Le Pen, a real risk at the moment, and she’ll have an avenue ahead of her to conquer the Presidency of the Republic.

    You can understand that immigrants, including myself, will not be very happy with such a perspective?.

    So, what do we do? We settle for what’s written in the books and put our heads under the guillotine?

    No, we vote France Insoumise and work for the construction of something better. I don’t think F.I. will be able to place themselves in the middle of Macron and Le Pen, that’s our problem, but the more votes they make, the more they could be a starting point so that the morale of workers and grassroots activists on the left doesn’t collapse at a time when the struggle is starting in companies and the Yellow Jackets are holding, with difficulty, but still holding.


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