Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Macron, Faced with Gilets Jaunes, “état d’urgence social”; Mélenchon calls for “Citizens’ Insurrection.”

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Point 24. Immigration: stem migratory fluxes.

Macron raises minimum wage to appease Yellow Vest protesters

He said people on the minimum wage would see their salaries increase by €100 a month from 2019 without extra costs to employers. Pensioners earning less than €2,000 would see the recent increase in social security taxes scrapped. Other measures promised include the abolition of taxes on overtime pay in 2019 and asking profit-making companies to give workers tax-free year-end bonuses

However, he also said he would stick to his reform agenda and refused to reinstate a wealth tax.

“We will respond to the economic and social urgency with strong measures, by cutting taxes more rapidly, by keeping our spending under control, but not with U-turns,” Macron said.

Let us go into the details:

PAULINE BOCK New Statesman.

He promised an additional €100 for workers on minimum wage “without it costing a cent to employers” – because it’s not a new raise, just the re-evaluation of a specific allowance that was already planned. (Le Parisien has calculated that the levelled system will negatively impact around 30,000 of the most precarious households). He said that a tax on pensioners “earning less than €2,000” would be cancelled – without making clear that “€2,000” included all earnings, not solely their pension, and would therefore impact less people than his rhetoric implied. He announced an annual tax-free bonus for workers – “whose employers can afford it”, so at a boss’s discretion. Mere hours before Macron’s speech, the Senate also adopted a freeze of welfare payments for 2019. Macron is a bit like a sneaky character in a Disney film: if you don’t negotiate precise terms in the contract, chances are you’re losing out in the agreement as a whole.

Bock’s excellent article misses nevertheless, one thing from this, the overtime tax break.

Le Monde: 

Les heures supplémentaires seront « versées sans impôts ni charges dès 2019 » alors qu’elles devaient initialement être « désocialisées »(pas de cotisations) en septembre 2019. Cette mesure avait déjà été mise en place sous le quinquennat de Nicolas Sarkozy, avant d’être abrogée par François Hollande.

Les heures supplémentaires correspondent au temps travaillé au-delà de la durée légale des 35 heures, et sont rémunérées davantage. Cette majoration de salaire est généralement de 25 %, mais peut être réduite à 10 % par un accord d’entreprise.

Overtime will be “paid without taxes or charges from 2019” when they were initially to be “unsocialised” (no contributions) in September 2019. This measure had already been implemented under the five-year term of Nicolas Sarkozy,  and was  repealed by François Hollande.

Overtime is the time worked beyond the statutory 35-hour period, and is paid more. This salary increase is usually 25%, but can be reduced to 10% by a company agreement.

So, in effect, Macron has not just tried to appeal to the lowest paid, but to the ‘hard-working’ middle earners who can do overtime.

Bock comments that, “These “crumbs” are unlikely to convince the gilets jaunes to cancel their “Act V”, planned for 15 December.”

I would not underestimate the effect of the latter measure on their constituency, as those interviewed on RTL this morning illustrated.

Nevertheless the refusal to reinstate the wealth tax, the  l’impôt de solidarité sur la fortune (ISF) irks many (Piketty : « S’il veut sauver son quinquennat, Macron doit immédiatement rétablir l’ISF » )

There is also the lycéen movement which the left can support unreservedly, not only because of the scenes of police brutality and efforts to humiliate school pupils, but because their protests against education “reform” are right.

Mouvement des lycéens et Gilets jaunes : “On espère faire converger nos luttes”


Whether they will find an echo in the Gilets Jaunes remains to be seen.

In the meantime the self-appointed leader of the Citizens’ Revolution announced that the Gilets Jaunes protests must continue.

Français encore un effort si vous voulez être révolutionnaires!

The obvious thing to say about Macron’s actions is that he is trying to “reculer pour mieux sauter”.

This can mean either, make a tactical retreat in order to leap back when the time is ripe, or to put off the inevitable.

Unfortunately having had that thought I noticed that  somebody has already made that comment (Pour Marine Le Pen, Emmanuel Macron “recule pour mieux sauter” ). The leader of the far-right notes that the President is putting off the need to face up to globalisation, free trade, AND …..”‘immigration de masse et ses conséquences sociales et culturelles.”

As in:

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Some enthusiasts for the Gilets Jaunes have got so carried away that they ignore the issues this raises.

Verso, apparently a left-wing publisher, has this translated interview (“Paris is not an actor, but a battlefield”) Eric Hazan interviewed about the Gilets Jaunes protests.

Hazan is already notorious for saying, of Jews (he does not bother with the word ‘Zionist’) on the ultra-left  insurrectionist’ site, Lundi Matin, recalling a Paris and a time when ” les juifs n’étaient pas du côté du manche. ” figuratively meaning “près du pouvoir “, that is, to translate. “when the Jews were not on the side of those wielding power.” (EN DESCENDANT LA RUE RAMPONEAU)

This is his latest, on why many intellectuals are reluctant to give unreserved support for the Gilets Jaunes.

A whole range of intellectuals see violence is evil. For those who do not stick to this position and may sometimes consider it legitimate, the fact that the far right is present in this violence puts them off quite a bit. But it doesn’t bother me.

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Amongst many reactions is this one:

Convalescence difficile pour Éric Hazan

Interrogé par Mediapart à propos des «Gilets jaunes», Éric Hazan a fait – notamment – la déclaration confuse et confusionniste ci-après.

On voudra bien considérer le fait que l’éditeur du Comité invisible a connu de graves soucis de santé l’été dernier, qu’il est encore très fatigué, et par suite ne tenir aucun compte de ce qu’il dit.

The following (thanks Paul) from a World to Win News Service  puts some thoughts together not far from those of this Blog, and shared by others, notably French leftists, both from the far left, and more mainstream.

However mad the political origins of the WWNS these points are far from off-beam.

France: “The house is on fire”

…the Yellow Vest movement cannot be evaluated as an isolated phenomenon. Le Pen’s fascist party has been a major force on France’s political scene for over a generation; not only did she make it to the run-offs for President 18 months ago, but her party is leading in the polls for the upcoming European Parliament elections. Le Pen has played a major role in shifting the whole political process to the right. As the mainstream of traditional French politics collapses, as it has in growing numbers of other Western countries, there is an increasing basis for major sections of the ruling class to support her bid for power. Macron is hoping that cancelling the fuel price hike will divide the Yellow Vests and cut off the most determined among them from those among the middle classes whose greatest concern is order, and undoubtedly to use an iron fist on hard-core elements who persist. But stepping up repression against a popular protest risks losing the support among those who look to him as a rampart against the fascists, even as this paves the way for the even more clearly authoritarian Le Pen.

The most important thing is not whether Le Pen is “behind” this movement organizationally. Consider the example of Italy’s Five Star movement. For years it declared itself apolitical and opposed to all parties in the name of “horizontal democracy” by means of social media and Internet referendums, but it ended up in a fascist coalition government alongside openly terroristic thugs who dominate despite the fact that Five Star won far more votes. Again and again mass movements that focus on fighting to turn back the clock and bring back the promises of the past social welfare state have been eaten alive by forces with very clearly defined reactionary political projects – in this case installing a fascist regime as part of defending and advancing France’s position among the bloodthirsty rival thieves of the imperialist world.

How to go beyond the inevitably temporary intersection of different interest groups and unite the people against their enemy, the capitalist-imperialist ruling class and its state? Not like Mélenchon, trying to unite different parts of the masses on the basis of nationalism and futile dreams of reviving the social-democratic welfare state. And not like the anarchists trying to prove that the character of the Yellow Vest movement can be changed and the movement led by proving to be the best street fighters against the police. The people can’t be united spontaneously. Revolutionaries can’t tail after anyone..

For those, by contrast. who wish to dream of the Gilets Jaunes as “une nouvelle construction démocratique” “une respiration démocratique ”  with their ” parlements locaux” and “l’expérience d’une communauté” the following E-pamphlet is recommended:

GILETS JAUNES. Des clés pour comprendre.

Cloud Cuckoo Land Publications is said to be preparing a translation.


Gilets jaunes L'actualité


8 Responses

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  1. Small majority of French people convinced by Macron, 66% still back the Gilets Jaunes, but 54% call for them to stop the movement.

    Andrew Coates

    December 11, 2018 at 6:35 pm

  2. Though the picture has the word ‘official’ in it, these 25 points are NOT official

    The Yellow Vests are a non-centralized movement without ‘official’ leaders.

    It is not just about France. They are also in Belgium, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Iraq, etc.

    In Egypt, dictator Sisi has banned shops from selling yellow vests:



    December 11, 2018 at 8:04 pm

  3. Ah Belgium, I wonder if this demand for tough controls on immigration has a resonance there?

    “Bart de Wever, leader of the New-Flemish Alliance, has blasted the UN Migration Pact as unacceptable while Belgium’s leader Mr Michel is keen to sign it in a move that could trigger the fall of the Belgian government. Mr de Wever said: “It’s non-binding, but will that serve as an argument in court? The fact that the EU is no longer pursuing push back policies on refugees is the result of a court decision, not a political one.” As a result of the divide, judges in Belgium have suggested the “solution” is to add a further clause that would essentially reduce the implications of the UN pact for the EU member state. This has sparked further fury by Mr de Wever’s party, with members refusing to budge on their stance on the pact regardless of the talks.”


    Andrew Coates

    December 12, 2018 at 1:04 pm

  4. When Jacob-Rees Mogg was on Channel 4’s Brexit debate Jacob actually agreed with one of his ‘opponents’ arguments. Krishan Guru-Murty was having none of it though. He came down on the hapless Jacob like a ton of bricks: “Jacob, you’re not here to agree with him. You are here to question his points. That’s what you’re here for.” Jacob humbly apologised with “I am ever so sorry.” What is it with the media and their division for division’s sake. Why aren’t these politicians allowed to agree with other.

    And another thing. Rees-Mogg made Guru-Murty look even fatter than he usually looks.

    The Couch Potatoes

    December 12, 2018 at 1:56 pm

  5. Hi Andrew, the Belgian Yellow Vests have no connection to the right-wing pro-‘free enterprise’ New Flemish Alliance NVA party. The NVA are Flemish nationalists who hate the French speaking south. The Belgian Yellow Vests are almost 100% from the French speaking south.

    In the Netherlands, yellow vests are donned by the victims of the Shell/Exxon gas extraction earthquakes:

    This is a movement in especially Groningen province, not at all against refugees, but against Big Oil and the government, which has existed for years; the yellow vests are a new addition.

    In the USA, the best known Marxist economist, Richard Wolff, is positive on the yellow vests:


    So are Thom Hartmann and Daniela Cobet:


    So is the leftist Young Turks site.

    So are these people in England:



    December 12, 2018 at 2:29 pm

  6. At least you know what Jacob Rees-Mogg stands for which is more than can be said for these ‘yellow vests’.

    Miss Jones

    December 12, 2018 at 2:40 pm

  7. Well this lot are Gilets Jaunes and they are full of right-wing conspiracy theories of the worst possible kind starting with the idea that the murders in Strasburg were a plot by Macron to divert people’s attention.

    Andrew Coates

    December 12, 2018 at 5:20 pm

  8. “Most French Trotskyist, anarchist and autonomous–insurrectionist groups answer more or less in the same way: “Well, it’s simple, by talking with us who have the right ideas and / or the right program, they will change their mind”. One can be skeptical about this blissful optimism because the “Nuits debout” operation in 2016, operation which partly rested on different social circles, gave birth to nothing, even if it was enthusiastically and uncritically supported by most currents of the Left at that time…

    Obviously we can all hope that “spontaneous” encounters in the real world between the “gilets jaunes” sympathizers will work miracles. But, in any case, at my workplace, with my colleagues, with whom I often discuss, I do not see the slightest progress … if not that of reactionary ideas about the “Caste” (a vocabulary shared by the Far Right and the “Insoumis” [3]and Parti de Gauche of Jean-Luc Mélenchon), the fact that “Macron” takes his orders from the “Finance”, the IMF or the World Bank, etc. In short, all the basic no global simplistic ideology, which is also that of the “Insoumis”, the Parti de Gauche and the National Front (Rassemblement National).

    Comrades who attentively observe the “fachosphere”, and more generally the “patriotosphere” [4], note that the most politicized reactionaries (the pure fascists, or the members of the National Front/Rassemblement National, Debout la France [5], Identitaires, etc.) choose popular themes (speed limitation, presence of radars, “ecological” measures to limit the traffic in Paris or elsewhere, fuel price increase, etc.) to initiate debates or launch common causes, most often under acronyms with neutral or even left-wing names, such as the website “participatory democracy” blocked by the French justice in November 2018 because of its racist, antisemitic and homophobic content.”

    “At my work, after the 17th of November, when there were the first violent clashes near the presidential palace, and even more after the 24th of November, the most reactionary coach driver, the one who first spoke of the “gilets jaunes” to his colleagues, had a perfect explanation : “The media incriminate the far right but in fact it’s the leftists’ responsibility.”. And it should not surprise us that fascists spread all kinds of silly rumors …

    In short, the Lepénist, national-populist and fascist activists do not hide their far-right opinions in their work environment, they urge their colleagues to participate in the “gilets jaunes” movement, then they say, with their hands on their hearts “But the extreme right is not responsible for anything.”

    It’s gross but it works.

    I do not deny the very diverse angers of the “people” who participate or sympathize with the “gilets jaunes” movement. But I do not think it can lead to something positive especially when two of its claims are the expulsion of asylum seekers who did not get their stay permit and the end of “assistantship” by the state! And when they don’t even ask the liberation of their Facebook “friends” when they are arrested and condemned by the justice, when they try to find all sorts of excuses for police violences against themselves, etc.

    According to a comrade who carefully observes social networks, it is the socalled “middle classes”, the waged petty bourgeoisie of the “cadres” (4 million, according to him, in France ; I suppose he included what the National statistic institute calls “intermediate professions“) [6] who express themselves the most on social networks. And middle-class leftists are astonished to find that they have the same daily problems as the petty bourgeois yellow jackets. An astonishing discovery for these individuals coming from the same social class, the petty bourgeoisie which masters social networks and sets the tone on Facebook.”

    Yves Coleman.


    Andrew Coates

    December 12, 2018 at 6:21 pm

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