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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”

Update:

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

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Another Europe is Possible Conference as “New leftwing coalition urges Labour to reject Brexit.”

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A Vital and Vibrant Conference. 

Over 150 voting members, from all over the country,  of Another Europe is Possible attended the campaign’s first conference of Saturday.

The day kicked off with Emiliano Melino from the IWGB which organises  workers in the ‘gig economy’. His small union, many of whose members do not have British passports, has come out strongly for a People’s Vote on Brexit.

After some initial discussion there were workshops.

In the Lexit atelier Marina Prentoulis spoke of how a small section of the Greek left had become so anti-EU that their nationalism bordered that of the far-right. Contributors noted the development across Europe of a “sovereigntist” current which put issues of national identity and sovereignty in place of socialist internationalism.

The UK Lexit left, both  those claiming to oppose ‘borders’, except when voting for Brexit, and those against the free movement of labour, were at an impasse. Speaking on behalf of the British working class they ignored the challenge to develop a Europe-wide strategy of transforming the EU through alliances with the rest of the European left.

After debate, which included discussion of approaches to the British state, the legacy of Official Communism, and the views of the Bermondsey Republican Socialist movement on Britain and Catalonia, there was agreement on launching a broad radical campaign against Brexit.

This is a good summary (Socialist Resistance)  of the strategy adopted by Another Europe is Possible.

The conference,

…opted for an approach which could engage the widest possible coalition of radical forces opposed to Brexit.

Most AEIP members are Labour supporters and activists, but the campaign includes the Green Party, Left Unity and a few other organisations. The strategy document and the tenor of the contributions leaves no room for doubt that this a campaign which actively seeks to be radical and distinct from the politics of the pro-referendum campaign fronted by Alistair Campbell and Anna Soubry.

Another Europe Is Possible ready to challenge Brexit

Amelia Womack,  Deputy leader of the Green Party, gave a good speech on the benefits of the EU.

Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, who has won national attention for revealing that he is HIV positive, gave a resounding and call for action. Describing, with a moving illustration from his case-load, the racism of both the Brexit campaign and its results. The MP expressed concern at Web articles trying to re-brand 20th century ideas of go-it-alone British socialism. Russell-Moyle urged us all to work together for the internationalist ideas of Another Europe.

People stood up to applaud the speakers.

The organisers, who concluded the meeting, should be thanked for their hard work.

And samosas.

A few centre left and far-left Websites continue to pump out pro-Brexit views, such as the Euston Exiteers now given a voice  on  Harry’s Place.

There, this Monday, Alan Johnson argues for a ‘national popular’ Gramscian strategy, inspired by Norberto Bobbio,  to haul up the drawbridge to protect us from Europe.

By contrast, with some optimism and lots of good will, the internationalist side of Another Europe,  saw the basis of the creation of a broad left alliance against Brexit.

This can be seen in this news which echoes many of the themes of Saturday’s conference:

New leftwing coalition urges Labour to reject Brexit

Guardian. Jessica Elgot

A leftwing, remain-supporting coalition of Momentum activists, local party chairs and Labour councillors is to create a pop-up pressure group to persuade the Labour leadership to ditch a commitment to Brexit in any snap election manifesto.

The push came as another Labour frontbencher, Rosena Allin-Khan, broke with the party line and backed a second referendum on the final deal in an onstage announcement at a People’s Vote rally on Sunday.

In effect, the group hopes to force a more explicit commitment to a second referendum in the next Labour manifesto and for the party to campaign to remain.

We call on Labour to back remain

With Theresa May’s deal likely to be defeated on Tuesday, and a number of key parliamentary blocs losing confidence in the Tory government, we are facing a period of political crisis and upheaval, and a general election looks increasingly possible.

As Labour members and supporters, we want our party to fight in the months ahead, including in any general election campaign, to stop the anti-working-class disaster that is Brexit.

To quote the official policy passed at Labour conference 2018, we want “a radical government: taxing the rich to fund public services, expanding common ownership, abolishing the anti-union laws and engaging in massive public investment”.

As the party of working people, Labour must defend all the rights threatened by Brexit – workers’ rights, environmental protections, free movement. With the Tory deal published, the realities of Brexit are clearer than ever. Fighting effectively for a radical Labour government means committing to giving the people a final say, and campaigning for remain in that referendum.

In Europe, just as in domestic policy, Labour must offer a radical alternative to the status quo. Our movement must champion a revolt across the continent against austerity, neoliberalism and anti-migrant policies and for a democratic, socialist Europe.

Labour’s policy is shifting, but is not yet committed to stopping Brexit. We will continue the campaign to win Labour to a vision for a radical government leading the fight to transform Europe from within the EU. To this end, and to provide anti-Brexit Labour supporters with a platform, organising framework and programme of activity, we intend to create an independent campaigning coordination within the campaign for a Corbyn-led Labour government.

Catherine West MP
Julie Ward MEP 
Luke Cooper Convenor, Another Europe is Possible
Billy Hayes Former general secretary, CWU 
Emma Burnell Co-chair, Open Labour
Zoe Williams Journalist
Paul Mackney Former general secretary, UCU
Michael Chessum National organiser, Another Europe is Possible 
Alena Ivanova Momentum activist
Marina Prentoulis Senior lecturer at UEA and Another Europe is Possible
Prof Mary Kaldor LSE
Ana Oppenheim Campaigns officer, Hornsey & Wood Green Young Labour
Lynn Morris Open Labour national committee, Canterbury CLP
Rachael Ward Open Labour national committee, Hackney South and Shoreditch CLP
Rachel Muers Committee member West Yorkshire Open Labour, Leeds North West CLP
Juliet Harris LGBT officer for Open Labour
Jamie D’Arcy Chair, East Midlands Labour
Steve Lapsley Regional Officer, Open Labour
Prof Pauline Stafford Leeds North West CLP
Ralph Berry Bradford councillor
Dr Jo Ingold Leeds North East CLP
Pablo John Leeds North West CLP
Abigail Marshall Katung Leeds North East CLP
Daniel Round Dudley Momentum and Stourbridge CLP
Niccolo Milanese Director of European Alternatives
Rebecca Lawrence Chair, Lewisham Deptford CLP
Marcus Thorne Organiser, Lewisham for Migrants campaign 
Marcel Golten Vice-chair, Harrow East CLP 
Ana Oppenheim Campaigns officer, Hornsey & Wood Green Young Labour
Obi Saiq Hackney South and Shoreditch CLP youth officer, Picturehouse BECTU rep and activist
Omar Raii London Young Labour committee
Janine Booth TUC Disabled Workers’ Committee, Hackney South CLP Trade Union Liaison
Andrew Coates Ipswich CLP, Unite chair
Christie Neary Croydon NEU activist, NUS Trans Committee
Pat Murphy National Education Union national executive
Justine Canady BFAWU activist
Rhian Keyse Exeter CLP, UCU activist
Barbara Veale Lewisham Deptford CLP
Dave Levy Lewisham Deptford CLP
Lionel Openshaw Lewisham Central branch chair
Cllr Fred Grindrod Birmingham Bournville ward

Tommy Robinson Backs Gilets Jaunes as Far-Right Marches in London Against ‘Brexit Betrayal”

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Yellowjackets Movement UK Division  said to be Joining Far Right March.

Roads in central London are to be closed off for Sunday’s “Brexit betrayal” demonstration and counter-protests, and officers may ask bars and pubs to shut in the surrounding area.

Robinson, the English Defence League (EDL) founder who has been welcomed into the Ukip fold as an adviser to leader Gerard Batten, has praised rioters in Paris on social media.

Sharing footage of violence and vandalism to his more than one million Facebook followers, he characterised the movement as “anger at the corrupt political class”.

“Revolution is coming, prime minister May should take note,” Robinson wrote, while promoting the protest.

In a subsequent video, he appealed to supporters to be on “impeccable behaviour”, adding: “It’s not a day out for a drink.”

Some are planning to wear yellow vests themselves, and a group calling themselves the “Yellowjackets Movement UK Division (sic)” has formed.

Independent.

Update:

 

Second Picture at the bottom shows people wearing Gilets Jaunes on Brexit Betray March:

 

The French far-right already had the idea:

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Written by Andrew Coates

December 9, 2018 at 12:33 pm

Trump Hails Macron Climb-down on Fuel Tax, Alt-right claim French shout, “We Want Trump”.

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Paris: We Want Trump – Claims US alt-Right.

US President Donald Trump has criticised his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in the wake of the recent large-scale anti-government protests over high taxes.

Trump posted several messages about the demonstrations on his Twitter account, claiming the protests were a direct result of the Paris climate agreement of which France is a signatory, but the United States is not.

“I am glad that my friend @EmmanuelMacron and the protestors in Paris have agreed with the conclusion I reached two years ago. The Paris Agreement is fatally flawed because it raises the price of energy for responsible countries while whitewashing some of the worst polluters in the world,” Trump wrote in the tweets.

The US president also retweeted conservative pundit Charlie Kirk, who falsely claimed France is a socialist country, the riots in the country did not receive any media attention and that protesters shouted: “we want Trump”.

 

 

Trump’s assertions are obviously the work of  fantaisistes adrift in the world of politics.

For the moment we note that however Trump’s views cast a shadow on those who claim that Macron’s climb-down is a victory for those opposed to Macron’s “neo-liberalism”. It certainly seems that the US President is also against “neo-liberal globalism.”

This did not go unnoticed in France:

Gilets jaunes : Trump y va de son petit tweet moqueur envers Macron et contre l’accord de Paris

For an explanation of why Trump’s claims are a load of old cobblers see:

Tacle de Trump à Macron: «Les “gilets jaunes” ne sont pas contre la transition écologique, mais contre son coût social»

Written by Andrew Coates

December 6, 2018 at 1:21 pm

UNITE’s Len McCluskey tells MPs ‘people’s vote’ could be seen as betrayal: UNITE members launch counter-petition on Free Movement.

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McCluskey: “Concerns about immigration and the exploitation of immigrant labour.”

The Guardian Reports:

The Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey, has privately told Labour MPs the party should have severe reservations about backing a fresh Brexit referendum, saying voters could see it as a betrayal.

The deep scepticism from one of Jeremy Corbyn’s closest and most powerful supporters is likely to unnerve MPs and campaigners hoping the party is warming to the idea of a fresh Brexit vote.

Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, hit back at McCluskey’s warning, laying bare the tensions in the party.

“To suggest it represents a ‘betrayal’ grossly distorts Labour’s position and is deeply unhelpful to those seeking a solution to an an issue that is reaching crisis proportions,” he told the Guardian.

McClusky is also reported saying this:

Len spoke about tackling people’s concerns about immigration and the exploitation of immigrant labour. He said there would be a sense of betrayal among the members if we went for a second referendum.

“He said the party has to take concerns about immigration into account, and that if politicians had done so sooner we might have avoided the current situation. I wouldn’t say that majority of MPs agreed with him at all. But he gave clear examples where the exploitation of immigrant labour has undermined existing wage levels.”

But…

Shiraz carries this story:

Dear Len: this is Unite policy on Brexit – and it *doesn’t* rule out a ‘people’s vote’ and *doesn’t* call for a crack-down on immigration.

Unite members stand up for free movement after Gen Sec’s comments.

As Unite members, we are concerned by recent reports that our union General Secretary, Len McCluskey, has privately told Labour MPs that we – his members – want them to vote for a Brexit that clamps down on immigration.

We are proud members of a diverse union that brings together workers of all origins to fight for our common interest. As Labour Party conference voted in September: “stagnant wages, crumbling services and the housing crisis are being exacerbated by the government and employers making the rich richer at working people’s expense, and not immigration.” The idea that free movement depresses wages or drives unemployment is a right-wing lie, disproven by the evidence and designed to set workers against one another. As trade unionists, we recognise when xenophobic sentiment is fuelled to divide us, and we expect our General Secretary to reject such harmful rhetoric and stand up for the rank and file members, many of whom are those same migrants!

Clamping down on our freedom to move, live and work across borders will not solve any of the problems we face, which are down to exploitative employers and the right-wing politicians who serve them. In truth, by leaving migrant workers precarious and at the mercy of unscrupulous bosses, it is anti-migrant policies that threaten to undermine all of us. Our union should work to tear down anti-migrant policies, not to build more.

We call on our General Secretary to clarify whether the reports of his comments are accurate. If so, we call on him to withdraw them and instead to stand up for defending and extending free movement and the rights of all his members.

You can sign here.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 6, 2018 at 12:58 pm

“Confusion in politics internationally is great.” Lindsey German, Counterfire.

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“Great disorder under the Heavens and the situation is excellent.”

The Convener of the Stop the War Coalition and leading member of the groupusucle Counterfire, writes a Weekly Briefing.

It always  brings a kind smile weary activist’s’ lips.

Today her latest has a click-bait title:  The Brexit blizzard is there to blind us; it’s time to take out the Tories and that means a general election, argues Lindsey German

She begins by talking about the  ‘Britain is Broken, We can’t afford the Tories’ campaign which the People’s Assembly (largely Counterfire’s enterprises these days) organised.

After this stirring moment the she shifts to an emollient  mood.

The partner of John, ‘actuality of the revolution’ Rees, brought back some happy memories to this reader,

When I first became politically active nearly 50 years ago, there was a sense of working class power in Britain.”

Followed by a swift turn back to the stony realism for which those who who only during the last election were calling for mass action in the streets against the threat of a Tory “coup” can bring to a debate.

Today, while the majority of people still see themselves as working class, there is not that sense of working class power.

Being a kindly gent myself I can only agree with this comment,

The danger is the combination of Labour adopting a second referendum position, while at the same time doing far too little to support and spread the resistance to Tory austerity policies. That would be an unpopular retreat on the one hand, but also a failure to mobilise working class organisation over issues affecting everyone’s lives. In places like Doncaster or Sunderland, where Labour councils are implementing the austerity policies, that could be a very serious failure indeed.

There is much to learn about “neo-liberals” assembled at the G20 summit. One can only applaud that German keeps us on our toes with this bold  analysis:

It is hard for anyone to see anything but further crises and conflict coming out of the summit.

After, wisely, avoiding details about the Gilets Jaunes the august leader observes,

The confusion in politics internationally is great – there is bitter resentment of governments but no clear path forward. It’s a big task for the left, but one we have to take on.

How true, how very true.

German claims that,

We can make a start by demonstrating against the fascist Tommy Robinson next Sunday 9 December who is using the Brexit issue to spread his hate. I’m very glad that this looks like being one united demo now – well done to those making that happen.

In a spirit of unity I hope to present her with this seasonal gift:

 

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Written by Andrew Coates

December 3, 2018 at 5:18 pm

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

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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.

 

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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.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 2, 2018 at 2:02 pm