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.

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%.

Reuters had this, "Stunned Parisians clean up posh central district after worst riots since 1968"

“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:

(Appears to be him but haven't looked into this)

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:

Last week highways were shut down, fires burning:

Protester strategy to break wall of police, in Belgium:

Sorry folks, I have to admit. This made me burst out in mischievous glee:

(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.)

Rich boy’s cars are prime targets:

RT had hours of street protest riot footage

And more here:

And now Belgium too:

The Netherlands:

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.

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Mark from Queens's picture

I'm a little burnt out now from reading on Twitter and not sleeping much from being on the floor of my son's bedroom last night while he battled a stomach virus.

Right now I'm in desperate need of a little shut-eye while they nap, and before going to a lecture I'm looking forward to at our local historical society about the history of beer gardens in Queens and NYC. Have been reading this book lately that I downloaded from libcom.org, called "Beer and revolution: The German anarchist movement in New York City, 1880-1914", and I'm intrigued by the passages of what my antecedents got up to on these glorious, well-trodden streets and dens of NYC. So I'm gonna shut down now for a while.

Will check in when I can later or tomorrow.

Greetings, folks.

The Universal Clock - The Resistance of Peter Watkins part 1

The Universal Clock" is a documentary which accompanies the boxed dvd set of Peter Watkins' "La Commune (Paris, 1871)." The author of The Universal Clock (UC) takes us through both the production process of La Commune and the commercial barriers to having Watkins' recreation of the Paris Commune shown after it was created. The Universal Clock refers to the standardization of video content on the 47 minute model (with commercial and public service announcements taking up the balance of the time.) Watkins calls this the 'monoform' and is shown describing his concept of the monoform. In documenting the process of making "La Commune" UC has interviews with members of the cast who were non-professionals participating in this group project. These Parisians and immigrants talk about how being a part of the performance changed the way they view themselves and the media around them.

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"If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:

THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED
FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
WAS MUSIC"

- Kurt Vonnegut

1789 was just the first. There was also:

1792
1830
1848
1870

And those were only the successful ones.

I do not expect the current uprising to get that far, but then I've been wrong before.

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SnappleBC's picture

@gjohnsit

I think we've entered a period where chaos theory reigns. I think we are at that tipping point and I think any one "tiny little thing" could be the match to the powderkeg.

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11 users have voted.

A lot of wanderers in the U.S. political desert recognize that all the duopoly has to offer is a choice of mirages. Come, let us trudge towards empty expanse of sand #1, littered with the bleached bones of Deaniacs and Hope and Changers.
-- lotlizard

divineorder's picture

..

"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. "

I have avoided reading much on because I assumed the corporate press would do as you decribe. Thanks for the links. Good rest.

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17 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

I laughed like Hell at li'l mac getting egged! Had to watch it Several times!
As for where they got a crane operator-are ya kiddin' me?!? EVERYBODY seems to be protesting, ya think they Might have someone from construction involved? Hell, I got keys to All KINDS of equipment, Mon! We could get maybe get some shit started, Baby. I even got an extra yellow vest for anybody interested.
Just saying. . .

fuck Yeah!

Edit: upon further review, a good piece at disobedient media is up. Cause for pause?https://disobedientmedia.com/2018/12/is-britain-involved-with-europes-ye...

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Ya got to be a Spirit, cain't be no Ghost. . .

Daenerys's picture

@Tall Bald and Ugly I have access to farm equipment. I even know how to drive some of it. Smile

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This shit is bananas.

arendt's picture

I think the GJ movement is very important; but I can't really understand what is going on.

Due to a previous post of yours (I think), I actually took two hours to read the entire 50,000 word "To Our Friends" article you are touting.

another contraction in the great cataclysm that could birth a new era

I came away much informed about what the anarchists are onto; but hardly convinced. To me, it seemed that they wanted to freeze an explosion forever, ala the "red dress" scene in The Matrix. They think that the spontaneity and lack of social order that is present in moments when society loses control can be preserved ad infinitum by some magical invocation of "the commune".

I'm not alone in my skepticism about that .

"I would say informal organisations end up being informally controlled by the cliques of friends who started them, not by the membership as a whole, and therefore cannot be examples of self-organisation."

Informal organization is no more capable of negating hierarchy than formal organizations are. The 'red tape' of formal organizations (preset and procedural conditions that hamper autonomous actions), pro-revolutionary or not, and their fetish of reproducing structure and counter-institutions presents major problems. The idea that by creating 'checks and balances' in human organization, hierarchical relations will be stifled is ridiculous. Not to mention the innately political nature of formal organizations; they can only reproduce themselves through politicization and voluntarism. It's no better than the sinister functions of civil society. That you have to contribute to the organization's growth and activity to be a part of the revolution. Just as in civil society, you have to be a 'citizen' or 'member' and be within the bounds of judicial power in order to be recognized as a non-belligerent and gain trust.

In short, self-organization is a pure means. Formal organization is an ends. The constant reproduction of formalism and it's incessant maintenance causes it to be obsolete. It's reliance on politicization is crap.

https://libcom.org/forums/theory/coming-insurrection-30052009

ON EDIT: Fascinatingly, this link is absolutely denied by Google Search. According to them, it doesn't exist. Neither does the root libcom.org, which IIRC stood for library of communism. Censorship? I'm shocked, shocked. My bad: I had added a www on the front. And, libcom just says its there to help form "communities", not communism. END EDIT.

So, let's agree to disagree about the Invisible Committee's presciptions. I can agree about a lot of their insights as to the state of society.

With the IC aside, I just can't tell what the GJs are about. If it is nothing more than anarchism, it will soon burn itself out, as agents provocateur perform dispicable actions to cause the GJs to lose credibility. I think its obvious that French people are beyond pissed at their corrupt, neoliberal government. A government that was put into power by electorially rigging the genuine left party out of the picture via the LePen Front National. Same mess as America, Hillary or Trump. France chose "Hillary", and the "deplorables" are pissed.

Nevertheless, the fact that the GJs are yet another "color coded" insurrection makes me worry that they are some kind of spook cats paw. I have no evidence; but, as I said, it will be quite easy to smear theme with the acts of their extremists. The end result could be a counter-reaction, a police state, the discrediting of the protests against neoliberalism.

I continue to try to observe. But, as you note, the corporate media is worthless; and the alternative media is dicey. Thanks for your attempt to find some useful facts.

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snoopydawg's picture

@arendt

You don't think that they are legitimate grievances because of the rising wealth inequality and austerity policies sweeping the globe?

The article you linked suggests that they are as is Trumps make America great again spiel. I'm not so sure that they are, but as I stated in my comment I do believe that there are some police agencies involved in making them more violent and destructive. This happens here lots of times during the BLM protests. The rubes here that don't think that the movement has a legitimate grief to protest against police killing unarmed blacks. Guess we'll see what happens as this plays out.

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Disclaimer: No Russian, living or dead, had anything to do with the posting of this proudly home-grown comment

arendt's picture

@snoopydawg

But I haven't been able to follow the details, and I fear the protests can be hijacked via hybrid war techniques. HW can include using provocatuers to escalate the situation. If snipers start appearing, I would definitely think we are in a Maidan-style HW. If the violence continues to be nothing more than burning and looting, I think the CJ movement can continue to press demands - that is if it has any.

I read that the protests were started by right wingers, but that they triggered a generalized outrage from both right and left - who are both fed up with the central bank-controlled government that is trying to turn France into yet another colony of the banking system.

The reasons I fear that the protest can backfire are that:

1) The supposedly plus of it being leaderless is actually a minus, in that without clear demands, the protests' increasing and negative impact on everyday life and on the economy will drive a segment of the population that wants "order" to ally with the scum that actually support the little Napoleon. If there is no goal for the protests, if they drag on without actually accomplishing anything, they will fail. I suppose that the implicit demand is for Macron to resign, but he doesn't seem to be doing that. He is a stiff-necked arrogant jerk.

2) The use of a color-coded symbol is exactly what was used in all the hybrid war uprisings in Eastern Europe. That is, rallying around a meaningless symbol instead of an actual program is a CIA tactic.

----

Having spoken my fears, I would be heartened if the protestors accomplished some goal and went home declaring victory. I do not have a grip on how likely that is. In the absence of honest reporting, I am left to worry.

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snoopydawg's picture

@arendt

I think that there are some agent provocateurs involved in this which will increase the violence and destruction. The bottom line will be what Macron does if they don't stop. There is usually some legislation or action that happens during this type of rigged protests so if Macron clamps down on civil liberties then I'd say it's a color revolution.

But what most people are protesting is the gas tax hikes. I think that they were a last straw that lit the fuse. Macron has been cutting worker's rights, pushing for more military money while pushing austerity and other things that are affecting people's lives. Protests have been going on in France for many months before this happened.

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arendt's picture

@snoopydawg

...here is one of the comments from Moon of Alabama, which brings in another bad actor:

anyone who has ever participated in any workers or left wing demonstration, knows that this "style" is not that of the left or workers, who would go to hugh pains to not set cars or comerces belonging to other workers on fire, not to mention destroying public property in such a way, which then will end being payed by the workers themselves at share...It is precisely regular workers who pay taxes and know what it takes to pay for a car or anything who never will use such "methods" to protest....

From my point of view ( and of many awaken viewers ) this "revolution" has all the marks of the far-right Rasputin, Bannon, by the violence displayed, the way of organization through social networks, and the unusual "support" by non European media, including the WP, WSJ, and so on...in a context, six months to the European elections, where Bannon will be trying to get the results of Brazil, or at least those of Andalucia past Sunday ( both campaigns managed by him...) to rise the far-right, directly managed and funded from the US, to the European parliament to block the recent still slight sovereignist impulses inside the EU related to resisting US presure.

To this end, a lot of money is being spent to get known to the people fringe organizations and parties so far with scarce relevance and support in Europe because of their extremist and really anti-European discourse.

The real European left and the working people must pay especial attention to not offer any support to their own executioners, even when there are plenty of reasons to go out in the streets to protests, since, as have been proved in Brazil, privatizations of eveything, destroying of what is left of environment, tax cuts for the richest, worse conditions for workers, harshest control and censure for labour organizations, and a general regression on rights and freedoms, will follow the next very day after rising the far-right to power.

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Eagles92's picture

@snoopydawg Is Britain Involved in Europe's "Yellow Vest" Protests?

Personally, I have no clue; I've been out of pocket the last few weeks and am just now trying to get my head around what's happening in France. But Disobedient Media is asking some important questions. I hope they're wrong, but fear they're right. I guess we'll all see.

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snoopydawg's picture

Thanks for taking the time to put this together. Lots of work and especially when you are dealing with a sick kidlet.

I agree with one of the tweets that the car being rammed into the toll booth might be just a tad convenient for someone to be able to drive the wrecker. I'm sure that in lots of protests that there are cops ramping up the violence in order to give the PTB an excuse to ramp up police brutality and violence against the protesters.

Read a tweet this morning about the hypocrisy. Protests in Ukraine, Iran, Syria and other Arab spring uprisings had the full blessings of those who wanted to create reasons for invasions, but protests by people who have legitimate causes and concerns are bad because of reasons.

I watched the video of the cops beating the unarmed citizen and wondered how long until the protesters decide that they shouldn't have to just take the beatings and they decide to arm themselves? This will either get the cops to stand down because why should they put their lives on the line for Macron and the other globalists or Macron will have them become more repressive.

How long until this starts happening here in the states? Gawd knows that people have every right to do so. What with close to 50,000 people losing their jobs even though their employers are making obscene profits?

Well done. Wish there was a way to get more eyes on this excellent essay.

And how exciting was it to see the cops and the firemen/women take their helmets off and turn their backs and walk away? Woohoo!

edited

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Daenerys's picture

@snoopydawg seen as cowards? I salute them!

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This shit is bananas.

@Daenerys The French People have a tendency to say 'Fuck This!' on occasion to their 'Leaders'. Witness what's happening. However, when they've done this, it usually happens at a bad time in historic terms FOR the leadership. When they've had enough, they ARE Done. French political leaders have been gutless, Not the people.

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Ya got to be a Spirit, cain't be no Ghost. . .