Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

After Saturday’s Violence: the Politics of the Gilets Jaunes, La France périphérique and the Far-Right.

with 6 comments

On the Champs-Elysées, during the demonstration of yellow vests Saturday, December 1st.

Gilet Jaune: Sacred Heart, The Hope and Salvation of France?

The French government will consider imposing a state of emergency to prevent a recurrence of France’s worst riots in years, but while it is open to dialogue it will not change course, its spokesman said on Sunday.

France 24

Masked, black-clad groups ran amok across central Paris on Saturday, torching cars and buildings, looting shops, smashing windows and fighting police in the worst unrest the capital has seen since 1968, posing the most formidable challenge Emmanuel Macron has faced in his 18-month-old presidency.

Disturbances also rocked several cities and towns and across France – from Charleville Mezieres in the northeast to Nantes in the west and Marseille in the south.

“We have to think about the measures that can be taken so that these incidents don’t happen again,” government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux told Europe 1 radio.

According to figures released by the French interior ministry, around 75,000 demonstrators took to the streets across France on Saturday. The headcount was significantly lower than for the last two “Yellow Vest” protests, which drew roughly 300,000 and 100,000 respectively.

Authorities were caught off guard by Saturday’s escalation in violence overshadowing the spontaneous protest movement, dubbed the “Yellow Vest” protest because many participants are wearing the fluorescent safety jackets kept in all cars in France.

In Paris, police said they had arrested more than 400 people while 133 were injured, including 23 members of the security forces. Police fired stun grenades, tear gas and water cannon at protesters at the top of the Champs-Elysées boulevard, at the Tuillèries Garden near the Louvre museum and other sites.

The analysis below is gaining traction:

It is in this France périphérique that the gilets jaunes movement was born. It is also in these peripheral regions that the western populist wave has its source. Peripheral America brought Trump to the White House. Peripheral Italy – mezzogiorno, rural areas and small northern industrial towns – is the source of its populist wave. This protest is carried out by the classes who, in days gone by, were once the key reference point for a political and intellectual world that has forgotten them.

France is deeply fractured. Gilets jaunes are just a symptom  

Le Monde this week published David Goodhart. He employed his distinction between “somewhere” and “anywhere” people in The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics (2017) to say much of the above:  Gilets jaunes » : « La “France périphérique” demande à être respectée.

There is something in this.

The distinction taken from the writings of Christophe Guilluy, between better off urban areas to the left behind regions and “peri-urban” areas, exists. But there is a great deal of rhetoric, shared by Goodhardt,  about a “cosmopolitan” urban liberal electorate and and the “real” country, La France profonde, inhabited by  françaises de souche and (in the French case) the banlieue where there are large number of people whose origins lie in post-War and more recent immigration.

In the case of the Gilets Jaunes their principal complaint – fuel prices – is based on transport. That is, the need (and we would not dismiss the choice) of a car. This is easy for people across Europe to get to grips with: you can see it where I am writing from, where austerity has meant fewer, if any  bus services in rural areas, and villages described as “fossils” with few services at all.

The problem is that claims about a gulf between the Citizens of Nowhere and those from Somewhere is not a sociological portrait.

It is not directly a picture of classes, people are defined by where they live, and their culture, not their work or their ownership of economic agents.

It is clearly directed by those who oppose the Nowhere people and try to assert their authority to speak for the Somewheres.

The fiercest opposition to rootless cosmopolitans comes from  nationalists….

We would not reduce the Gilets Jaunes to this cultural-political-economic ferment at all.

But it’s not hard to see that this is fertile ground for the right, and we should not forget that the far-right has intervened vigorously in the protests.

Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, Marine Le Pen et Marion Maréchal  droite tente de se rhabiller en jaune

This is an account of the presence in Paris of groups to the right of the above:

Gilets jaunes : à Paris, groupuscules nationalistes et d’extrême droite s’affichent.

The journalist noted the presence of groups equipped with catapults  umbrellas, hammers….

Libération was thus able to identify Yvan Benedetti, former president of the ultranationalist group “L’œuvre française”, dissolved in 2013 after the death of Clément Méric. There was graffiti from the GUD (Groupe Union Défense), a far-right student organisation, sprayed  on shop fronts and street furniture.

(Note, the GUD is notorious for decades of physical attacks on leftist students).

A little further on, we read this inscription:«On est chez nous.»  “We are at home.” A slogan taken up in chorus by a few dozen people, sometimes wrapped in blue-white-red flags, who threw stones and bricks at police vehicles. In another place, there was the“Justice for Esteban” that was made, in reference to the skinhead Esteban Morillo, sentenced to eleven years in prison for killing –  in a fight – the anti- fascist Clément Méric in 2013.

Several traditional Catholic groups, including the Saint Pius X fraternity, the Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet church are also present, recognisable by symbols such as the flag of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, adorned with the slogan “Hope and Salvation”, and royalist emblems  with the fleur-de-lis.

This has appeared on the Facebook pages of French leftists.

 

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and outdoor

And this violence:

Placed alongside this response from the Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (NPA) seems feeble:  support for the Gilets Jaunes without qualification.

The French far-left, no doubt encouraged by reports which talk of “urban guerrilla warfare”  is said to be desperately searching for texts to justify backing tax revolts.

Amongst a call for a d’états généraux de la fiscalitée to plan taxes, referdums and Proprotional Representaiton, emerging from the Gilets Jaunes is the demand  for an immediate freeze on the tax rise on fuel, and for fewer checks on cars, that is MOTs in the UK. (Des Gilets jaunes lancent un appel : “Nous voulons être les porte-parole d’une colère constructivele Journal du Dimanche).

This morning it was noticeable how  carefully right-wing figures treated the violence – which would have been far from the case had it happened if young inhabitants of the banlieue had invaded the ChampsÉlysées.

Large sections of Marcon’s party (LREM), following nearly all the political class, have responded by demanding a Moratorium on Taxes.

Amongst the cacophony Jean-Luc  Mélenchon,  has called for the return of the tax on the wealthy, the impôt sur la fortune .

Although we discover he managed to find this programme, close  to his own, put out by the “gilets Jaunes”.

Spooky!

 

The US Jacobin has just published a piece defending the revolt. We’re With the RebelsAURÉLIE DIANARA

Even the moralistic criticisms that accuse the gilets jaunes of materialism and selfishness can be  called into question. as not the increase in the price of bread the main factor pushing the women of Paris to mount their furious march on Versailles in October 1789?

One can understand the appeal of calls to reduce, if not abolish, taxes, to the wealthy owner of this publication.

Though this justification for the movement looks like flaying at very dry old straws.

Brendan O’Neill would relish these lines, about left-wingers who criticise the Jilets Jaunes,

 Criticisms of their behaviour have been influenced by an evident contempt for the “lower classes”: social media are awash with jokes about the “pig-headed” “imbeciles” of the “France d’en bas.” Such derision also appeared across the social networks close to the autonomous “movement” left, before the powerful demonstration of November 17.

Oddly  attempts by the other side,  those to wish to “shape the movement” with wise left guidance,  have yet to discover the magic potion which will make the following problem vanish. Even somebody as wreathed in a halo as the author admits,

Ecologists and the defenders of nature have been, to say the least, disconcerted by the hubbub around a movement that basically asks to be able to burn more fuel at a lower price and that seemed initially uninterested in the government’s at least explicit intention to use this “carbon tax” to fund the ecological transition.

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Written by Andrew Coates

December 2, 2018 at 2:02 pm

6 Responses

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  1. Well I bet they had fun meeting the militants of GUD.

    The graffiti show in the post is from yesterday

    This is the GUD from last year:

    Andrew Coates

    December 2, 2018 at 3:25 pm

  2. The GUD are infiltrators, not invited by anyone.

    In Brussels, Belgium it is very usual that at demonstrations by the trade unions, not by the Gillets Jaunes, of 100,000 people or more, a few dozen neonazis turn up. These neonazis then start smashing windows etc.

    And the Belgian corporate media then write not about the over 100,000 demonstrators, but about the violence by the nazis, suggesting that the working class should not have freedom to demonstrate.

    Calling for a state of emergency, like the Macron government now wants in France.

    Amnesty Intrernational on the state of emergency in France:

    https://dearkitty1.wordpress.com/2017/06/02/french-state-of-emergency-abused-amnesty-says/

    petrel41

    December 2, 2018 at 3:43 pm

  3. So is Macron the good guy here?
    F*ck that !

    IainF

    December 2, 2018 at 9:46 pm

  4. German fascists show solidarity with the Gilets Jaunes:

    Andrew Coates

    December 3, 2018 at 12:31 pm

  5. Leading Gilet Jaune calls for a strong military leader to take over the government in France:

    BY contrast Laurent Joffrin find a shift to the left in this populist boullion.

    “Plus de pouvoir d’achat, moins d’injustice, plus de démocratie et de transparence. ”

    Les «gilets jaunes» tirent vers le rouge Laurent Joffrin, Directeur de la publication de Libération

    https://www.liberation.fr/politiques/2018/12/03/les-gilets-jaunes-tirent-vers-le-rouge_1695683

    Andrew Coates

    December 3, 2018 at 1:01 pm


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