French Revolution 2018-2019. Finally the Cataclysm That Leads To Global Revolution?
I spent a good part of last night, in between caring for a sick vomiting child, and this morning perusing Twitter and some websites. The scenes and descriptions were alternately exhilarating and nauseating, empowering and confusing, stirring and disconcerting. Perhaps how it was to many citizens of Paris in 1789, or again in the Spring of 1871 during the Paris Commune.
Still, I have no clear conclusions to make. Just very intrigued and cautiously optimistic that this appears to be another contraction in the great cataclysm that could birth a new era in which the world is united against the overpowering influence of corrupt banks/financial speculation/neoliberalism/imperialism.
One thread on Twitter, however, is lodged in the back of my head. That of a theory about the purposeful workings of Cambridge Analytics and the timing of Steve Bannon meeting with Marie LePen, and the whole thing being a RW functionary to usher in yet more fascism. What brings about my skepticism is the references to Russian operatives being behind it. Which I don't buy at all.
But I haven't dwelled on that for long. All one ever really needs to do is to listen to the voices of the protesters themselves. Whenever protesting folks are interviewed (which is what I look for, instead of the spotless corporate MSM reporter filing a segment heavy on riot porn and light on interviewing actual protesters) they seem very attuned to the various manifestations of failed Neoliberalism and government in thrall to the Banks and Big Money and its global implications. In short, people on the ground, dealing very personally with the chaos and upheaval in their everyday lives, seem to by and large get it entirely. And not only that but support what they see as a legitimate revolt against not having had any say in their lives.
From the Editorial Board of the World Socialist Web Site,
On Saturday, 100,000 people took part in a series of mass “yellow vest” demonstrations throughout France against President Emmanuel Macron’s anti-worker fuel tax hike, in the most significant mass protests in the country since the May-June 1968 general strike.
These events are a critical turning point not just for France and Europe, but for the entire world. Suppressed for decades, the eruption of social protest proclaims the reentry of the working class onto the stage of world history. The class struggle is again asserting itself as the driving force of historical progress. The explosive character of the events in France testifies to the enormous social contradictions that have accumulated over the nearly three decades since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, and, particularly, over the decade since the crash of 2008. The intense hatred of capitalism and the conditions it has created in France and throughout the world—the staggering level of social inequality, the endless accumulation of wealth within a small percentage of the population, the ever-greater levels of poverty and suffering—is now bursting onto the surface of political life.
In Macron, the ruling elite has its true representative—a justly despised and farcical figure, the investment banker turned president, who is nothing more than the puppet of the European stock exchanges. In the face of anger and outrage, Macron has made clear that he intends to go ahead with his anti-working-class policies, if need be through police-state means and the declaration of a state of emergency. The moment the masses challenge the economic demands of the ruling elite, it turns to violence and repression...
The distinctive feature of the past year has been the upsurge of class struggle. 2018 began with mass protests in Iran and strikes by industrial workers in Germany, lecturers in the UK and teachers in the United States. The year has seen significant expressions of social opposition in Latin America, the Middle East and Asia.
The year is coming to an end amid the mass protests in France, growing unrest among autoworkers in the US and mass strikes in South Korea, Greece and Chile. To this must be added the protests of migrant workers, including the refugees from Central America confronting the armed forces of the United States at the US-Mexico border.
The experiences of the past year—and France is no exception—have demonstrated the incapacity to implement any change in the interests of the broad mass of the population within the framework of the existing political institutions and the trade unions. The entire structure of the political system, right and “left,” is completely removed from and hostile to the concerns of the working class.
More on the evidence and significance of a global uprising here. And of course it is predictable but no less disappointing to read this also at WSWS, "Left Party publications denounce protest movement in France."
This journalist KazoDaily seems to see it as a RW uprising. I take exception to his vaguely racist assessment, and also to the oft-repeated propaganda slight that Occupy wasn't prepared to hold their ground.
— Daniel James (@dulhunty) December 3, 2018
Macron’s France today pic.twitter.com/fjVtlokdc3
— Jack Posobiec (@JackPosobiec) December 1, 2018
Even Time had to admit the severity of the situation was a result of the struggle between the 1% and the 99%.
On the one side sits a hugely powerful global leader who made his fortune as an investment banker, then in his 30s took power of the world’s seventh-biggest economy. Pitted against him: A growing mass of protestors seething with frustration and contempt, who opinion polls said this week have the support of two-thirds of the country...
“There is an atmosphere of civil war,” said Thierry Paul Valette, a self-appointed spokesman for the movement, over lunch with TIME on Friday. “Macron has a big responsibility now. He can either calm the situation, or enflame it,” he says. “The president might be in Argentina. But he is not in exile.”
The spark for the movement came in mid-November, after Macron announced he would increase fuel taxes, in order to help finance his plan to transition France to renewable energy. The increase could add about 10 euros ($14) to a family’s monthy household expenses. And while that is a significant sum to many poor families, for many others, the pronouncement seemed simply to be the final straw — It was “la limite,” Valette says.
The fuel tax appeared to crystallize perceptions of the French leader as disconnected and arrogant, and lacking in empathy for those who had not, like him, sailed through life. Macron has proposed changes that economists and policy analysts have thought necessary in France for years, in order to resolve endemic social and employment problems. But in addition, he has emerged in the minds of many as a rich know-it-all who believes he is never wrong. His blunt talk—like telling a long-time unemployed man to cross the street and work in a café—has only deepened that sense.
“He is detested,” says Valette, 42, an artist and writer. “He does not discuss, he does not debate. He is authoritarian,” he says. Looking ahead to Macron’s chances of winning a second term as president in 2022, he says, “It is impossible. It will take a miracle.”
By the middle of the week support for the protests rose to 84%.
“We’re already afraid of what’s going to happen next week. The violence is escalating at an exponential rate,” said Claude, a well-heeled woman who lives next to the Belle Armee brasserie that was set ablaze. “The state is losing control. They cannot let this happen. Maybe the army should intervene.”
Parisians and tourists surveyed the aftermath, capturing the moment on smartphones as the capital digested the chaos that now poses a serious challenge to Macron’s presidency.
“Macron has a problem on his hands. Everyone’s fed up. He’s got to listen more,” said Amaya Fuster, eyeing graffiti daubed on a Printemps department store window that read: “There’s enough money in the coffers of businessmen. Share the riches!”
Authorities said violent groups from the far right and far left as well as “thugs” from the suburbs had infiltrated the yellow vests movement in Paris on Saturday.
There were signs that some of the hardcore troublemakers were part of the anarchist and anti-capitalist movement: banks, insurance companies, upmarket private homes and cafes and glitzy boutiques were among the properties smashed up and looted.
The protests are taking a toll on the economy. On Saturday, boulevards that should have been packed with tourists and Christmas shoppers resembled battle zones, as smoke and tear gas hung in the air and debris littered the ground. Hotels and department stores in the capital stand to lose millions.
“We thought, ‘Oh, that’s our holiday over’,” said Yao Lei, a Chinese tourist from Shanghai who arrived in Paris at dawn and had received video images of the chaos on his flight.
“We’re here to shop but we wondered if we’d have to go straight to Milan instead.”
Poor shoppers may have to go elsewhere to get their armfuls of designer shopping bags filled with consumer goods probably made by child slave labor in SE Asia. Looks like the protesters have taken very focused aim at the targets of their grievances. And what a shame too, during the annual obligatory civic duty of the ConsumerMas Holiday Shopping Season!
Here's a link to really vivid, arresting photos from the Atlantic.
Click the video below to check out the righteous and focused indignation in this old guy's heart:
VIDEO: French President Emmanuel #Macron is booed by crowds in Paris as he meets with police officers and firefighters following Saturday's violent anti-government protests in the capital #YellowVests #GiletsJaunes pic.twitter.com/KUVnTnGADf
— AFP news agency (@AFP) December 2, 2018
#Macron takes an egg to the head protected by hundreds of security forces.#giletsjaunes #GiletsJaunesParis #YellowJackets #Paris #champselysee #FranceProtests #FranceProtest pic.twitter.com/jMAmd0y1Jz
— XiuXes (@XiuXes) December 3, 2018
(Appears to be him but haven't looked into this)
A 2nd. #French REVOLUTION
➤❝Power treats us as less than nothing❞
➤#French Police with teargas/water cannons disperse thousands of #YellowVests protesters for a 2nd weekend
Public anger rising over diesel fuel prices shows no sign of dying down#giletsjaunes #24novembre pic.twitter.com/QvHueALL36
— Saif Deen Bitar (@BitarDeen) November 24, 2018
Here is Tim Pool's take. Tim was one of the most high profile livestreamers during Occupy.
(I haven't watched the video in full yet. But it was published yesterday, and already has over 2,200 comments!)
Guess this is what the start of the French Revolution might have looked like had it begun today:
— NewsBlog breaking (@NBbreaking) December 1, 2018
— NewsBlog breaking (@NBbreaking) December 1, 2018
— BanTheBBC (@BanTheBBC) December 2, 2018
Last week highways were shut down, fires burning:
— srb news (@srbnews0) November 24, 2018
Protester strategy to break wall of police, in Belgium:
— Freddeket (@Freddeket) November 30, 2018
— bijelo polje (@evrensag) December 3, 2018
Sorry folks, I have to admit. This made me burst out in mischievous glee:
— CNW (@ConflictsW) December 2, 2018
(The absurdity and dramatic nature of the whole thing! How did they get hold of a crane (and what are the chances someone would be present to operate it, and then who decided it would be a good idea to smash a burning car into a toll booth? Could be provocateurs though, as there always are in these situations. Historically that's been a tactic of the State in order to rile up opposition to the protests and then bring down the hammer, after the majority have been hardened toward them and welcome State violence as a restoration of "law and order." And if it inside agents, man, I have to admit that was a good one.)
— Hibernia (@mcairns75) November 24, 2018
"I saw gangs of police disguised as thugs. So we do not really know if people who are destroying cars, attacking police and demonstrators are not themselves policemen " #GiletsJaunes pic.twitter.com/aHzBNApnDv
— Mehmet Solmaz (@MhmtSlmz) December 3, 2018
Macron says he will impose a #StateofEmergency against the #gilletJaunes. The firefighters turned their backs. Now the police remove their helmets to show solidarity with the French people AGAINST Macron.
Vive la révolution. Macron démission.
— Katie Hopkins (@KTHopkins) December 2, 2018
Macron is considering a #stateofemergency to respond to protests in Paris.
Watch the firefighters he will rely on turn their backs to their elected reps & political elite before walking out. They have had enough too. #pompiers #solidarite #1erDécembre pic.twitter.com/sM3P78eFkA
— Katie Hopkins (@KTHopkins) December 2, 2018
Anarchists damaged everything with hammers and broke into shops for plunderpic.twitter.com/srdO7nOQnc
— EHA News (@eha_news) December 2, 2018
— NewsBlog breaking (@NBbreaking) December 2, 2018
Neonazi Yvan Benedetti beaten by an anti fascist group.. "In response and as a reminder that not an inch of space should be left to the murderous fascists" @dromografos @enough14 #Antifa #YellowJackets #GiletsJaunes #YellowVests #antireport #France #Paris pic.twitter.com/2UqSISJA3i
— mr.w0bb1t (@_w0bb1t_) December 2, 2018
The clash between police and demonstrators in #France, causing many injuries!
— Ola (@0la_olaa) November 24, 2018
— ISSAM SATOSHI (@issamsatoshi) December 2, 2018
Rich boy’s cars are prime targets:
— Treasure News (@news_treasure) December 1, 2018
RT had hours of street protest riot footage
The French public are getting very angry at Macron and the neoliberal hegemonyhttps://t.co/8eRV6u921Y
— Albert Trigg (@alberttrigg) November 24, 2018
And more here:
— Albert Trigg (@alberttrigg) December 1, 2018
This is an EU country. Supposedly a democratic, for the good of the people, union of nations. This is #France , at the heart of the EU. This is #Paris 2018 - police snipers on rooftops to shoot live ammo at #GiletsJaunes #YellowVests. pic.twitter.com/1U54JMrO11
— Noel Dolan (@cybernoelie) December 1, 2018
— CNW (@ConflictsW) December 1, 2018
— RT (@RT_com) December 1, 2018
Imagine if this incident took place in a Middle Eastern country, how will the liberal media act and how many stories will they make from it? After all, Liberty and Democracy are fake and selective Western labels #YellowVests pic.twitter.com/m6A42DwDyC
— بن هباس (@5a1di) December 2, 2018
— srb news (@srbnews0) December 3, 2018
The French Revolution is evolving
Attacking and cracking of apartments
And the destruction and burning of expensive cars
Punishment "for the rich pic.twitter.com/cSLdYbsARR
— Abdullh B7 (@B7Abdullh) December 2, 2018
And now Belgium too:
Belgians are protesting against bad living conditions while the police is trying to disperse the protests under use of force pic.twitter.com/J0yT0dA8tF
— EHA News (@eha_news) November 30, 2018
— NewsBlog breaking (@NBbreaking) December 1, 2018
1/3 The Battle For Paris! Yellow Vest Protests compilation - 1 December 2018#YellowVests #giletjaune #Paris #Protests #ParisProtests #FranceProtest #MacronDemission #QAnon #عاجل
#parisriots #پاریس pic.twitter.com/uYmcrR0kgR
— Antibullshitinme (@Antibullshit12) December 2, 2018
Map of fuel stations that have been affected by the #GiletsJaunes blocking fuel depots that have meant fuel stations have had a lack of fuel delivered, or in many cases none at all!
Yellow - Partially.
Orange - Fully.
This is civil disobedience at its finest! Macron Démission! pic.twitter.com/wkZtlftAoK
— Jordan (@Jordan_SP1) December 3, 2018
Police brutality in #France reached today a new level: #Macron's regime forces using stun grenades at young students because resisting against the actual circumstances #GiletsJaunes #1erDecembre #YellowVest #resistance ..pic.twitter.com/T4A7KUXXWe
— Desert Hawk (@Syrian_Lion) December 3, 2018
As WSWS reports today,
Clashes rapidly erupted across the city. Cars, a LCL bank branch, the stock exchange and the Jeu de Paume art museum were burned, and the metal gates of the Tuileries gardens were smashed. Videos posted by protesters on social media showed some carrying out violent acts. These were most likely plainclothes policemen acting as provocateurs. They donned yellow vests and attacked luxury cars or shops, and then moved away to speak calmly and amiably to the police.
WSWS reporters in Paris spoke to “yellow vest” protesters, who came from the far Paris suburbs and from the provinces, to oppose Macron. Pierre said, “I have been protesting since the start of the movement, but not in Paris, because I am from Vesoul in the Saône valley. I am here to protest against Macron and all his new taxes, and all the riot police who are tear-gassing us, though we are trying to protest peacefully. But they are attacking us first. That is not correct.”
Anthony and Marie said that Macron’s resort to police violence showed his own bankruptcy: “When one reaches the point where people are being constantly tear-gassed, or they are being kettled by police because they can find no other way of resolving the matter, it means there has been a total failure. He has totally lost control … And the more we protest, the worse it gets.”
About the alleged presence of far-right parties among the “yellow vest” demonstrators, an electrician participating in the protests said: “Personally I have not seen them at all. But I think that even if they tried, they would not succeed, because the people are here, and we are sick and tired of always having to deal with the National Front,” France’s neo-fascist party.
Referring to Macron’s election victory against neo-fascist presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, he added that the prominence of the neo-fascists meant “for example that in election runoffs, we are always forced to vote for someone we don’t want to vote for.”
An ambulance driver said, “The cost of living always rises, but some people are doing great … like our congressmen who say, ‘I can’t dine on the Champs Elysées for less than 200 euros. I doubled the salaries of my advisors because you can’t live on just 5,000 euros per month.’ Well, then they should give me those 5,000 euros a month, because I can live like a king with that much money.”
Lots to dwell on.
The tinder may have just been lit.