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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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The Gilets Jaunes: some details on the political composition of Saturday’s events in Paris.

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Au pied de l’Arc de triomphe, des manifestants arborent un drapeau avec le blason de Jeanne d'Arc.

 

Quel mythe! dit Hussonnet. Voilà le peuple souverain!

Sarpolotte! Comme il chaloupe! Le vaisseau de l’État est ballotté sur une mer orageuse!”

L’Éducation sentimentale. Gustave Flaubert. 

Who hasn’t taken an active part in a political riot?

I have a friend, a close friend, who recalls chucking bricks at fascists, and bank windows. He tells me that back in the day he got caught up in some protests in the Quartier Latin that ended with a luxury shop being pillaged. He still dislikes the taste of fruit flavoured tea bags.

Last Saturday saw a much more serious series of confrontations across France.

Eyes turned to those that took place in Paris.

Le Monde offers what, by all accounts, is an accurate report on the events around the ChampsÉlysées.

The article says that at the start, at the Place de l’Étoile, there were 2,000 to 3,000 militants prepared for a fight. Amongst them was a strong contingent from the far-right, including Bastion social (ex-GUD), and Action française. They called themselves ‘nationalists’. Harder to find were those responding to the call of the site Lundi Matin, the latest incarnation of the Comité invisible. At another rallying point, there were also a people from the anti-fascist Comité Adama (Le comité antiraciste appelle les quartiers populaires à manifester samedi aux côtés des gilets jaunes.)The latter groups were involved with a few clashes with far right, one of whose leaders, the anti-semite, Yvan Benedetti was hurt. The vandalism at the Arc de Triomphe involved Gilets Jaunes. Many ordinary Gilets Jaunes were caught up by their anger and enthusiasm in the violence. The first rioters likely to be arrested were the less experienced, that is neither from the far right nor the fringes of the left. A third group, involved in the pillage of shops, had young people from the banlieue taking advantage of the opportunity.

Violences de samedi à Paris : quel a été le rôle des ultras ?

Lundi Matin has a theory to justify their involvement: that this kind of action is a challenge to the infrastructure  of society, and a step on the way to destabilising  the state. This idea can be traced to the text  Introduction à la guerre civileThe epigraph, which calls for a permanent effort to conjure up stasis, unrest, is their loadstone. They celebrate the violence over the weekend and blame the CRS and Police (Contrairement à tout ce que l’on peut entendre, le mystère, ce n’est pas que nous nous révoltions, mais que nous ne l’ayons pas fait avant.)

The strategic geniuses published a text recently  saying that the victory of the extreme right in Brazil was not too bad at all, it’s the occasion to get rid of illusions in democracy, the left, and to prepare better things in future: “En réalité, l’arrivée du fascisme n’est jamais aussi mauvaise qu’elle ne paraît à première vue. Au moins est-elle l’occasion de déchanter, de mûrir et de faire un peu mieux à l’avenir.”   LE PROLÉTARIAT BRÉSILIEN N’A PAS ÉTÉ VAINCU PAR LA DICTATURE MAIS PAR LA DÉMOCRATIE

By contrast, les quartiers en gilets jaunes, that is, the initiative of the Comité Adama, attracted several hundred people. It ended caught up in the chaos of the main march (Reportage à la manifestation des “quartiers en gilets jaunes” à Paris). It was and is a democratic and open initiative. These are good people who should be supported. How far they come from the banlieue is not clear.

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In the meantime one of the – all too representative – figures of French conspiracy thinking, who is very active in the Gilets Jaunes, has a secret hoard pf documents  which involve  the imminent start of the Third World War:

(1) “La politique fut une de ces évidences, une invention grecque qui se condensait en une équation : tenir une position, c’est prendre parti, et prendre parti, c’est déclencher la guerre civile. Guerre civile, position, parti, c’était un seul mot en grec, stasis. Et la politique, c’était l’art de conjurer la stasis.”

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 5, 2018 at 1:34 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

Gilets Jaunes: the Ultra-Right Accused of Creating Saturday’s Violence.

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Ultra-Right Accused of Leading Violent Protest on the  Champs-Élysées.

According to initial reports, (the violence) was in the majority created by members of the ultra-right, who infiltrated the movement with the sole intention of smashing everything up. These rioters were largely said to be young men, who came from the regions.

“D’après les premiers éléments, il s’agirait en grande majorité de membres de l’ultra-droite, qui se seraient infiltrés au mouvement avec l’unique ambition de tout ravager. Ces casseurs seraient des hommes plutôt jeunes, venus de province.” BFM

The historian of social movements Sylvain Boulouque  evoked the “political colouring” behind the flags carried on the Champs-Elysées, some of which held sympbols of the Sacred Heart and the  fleur de lys. “Calls were spread on the all the web sites of the radical right calling for people to pour into the Champs-Elysees and to storm the Elysée, or at least to get close to it.”

“une coloration politique” des drapeaux représentés sur les Champs-Elysées, parfois frappés du Sacré-Cœur ou de la fleur de lys. “Des appels fleurissent également sur tous les sites de le droite radicale pour descendre les Champs-Elysées et prendre d’assaut l’Elysée, ou du moins s’en rapprocher”,

France Info

In this interview Boulouque notes that the ultra-right were at the head of the march.

 

Here is a broader report:

Anti-government protesters clashed with French police on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on Saturday, leaving the area cloaked in tear gas and smoke from fires on a fresh day of demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron.

France 24.

Demonstrators wearing the yellow, high-visibility vests that symbolise their movement threw projectiles at police preventing them from moving along the famed shopping avenue, which was decked out in twinkling Christmas lights.

They also built barricades in some spots, and tore down traffic lights and street signs, creating riotous scenes reminiscent of France’s 1968 civil unrest, or street insurrections in the mid-19th century immortalised in paintings and movies.

Police arrested 130 people, 69 of those in Paris, and 24 people were injured, five of them police officers including one who suffered burns to his groin, the city police department and Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said.

The interior ministry counted 106,000 protesters across France on Saturday, with 8,000 in Paris, of whom around 5,000 were on the Champs-Elysees.

That was far less than the national tally of 282,000 in the November 17 protests.

Castaner said after the tumult died down that damage on the Champs-Elysees was “small”.

The French government cast blame for the unruly protests on far-right politician Marine Le Pen,claiming she egged them on.

But Le Pen rejected that accusation saying she had “never called for any violence whatsoever” and in turn accused the government of “organising the tension” and seeking to make her a scapegoat.

Meanwhile, opposition parties on both the right and left accused the government of trying to reduce the protests to just the sporadic scenes of violence, and turning a deaf ear to the demonstrators’ grievances.

Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the radical left France Unbowed party who attended a separate march Saturday protesting violence against women, tweeted that the action on the streets was “a mass protest of the people” which signalled “the end for [interior minister] Castaner”.

There is no doubt that there were ultra-right protesters on the Champs-Élysées.

That, is, apart from the Front National, who in French political language are just far-right…

Amongst those present on Saturday was prolific anti-semitic far-right writer, Hervé Ryssen, originally an anarchist, then a holocaust denier, and obsessed with Jewish ‘plots’ Ryssen recently rendered homage to   Robert Faurisson after his death.

Violences aux Champs-Élysées: une centaine de membres de l’ultra-droite parmi les gilets jaunes

Here is a video of them chanting “On est chez Nous” – that is, “It’s our Homeland”

 

This is another picture of them.

 

There is an issue as to why the Police let these demonstrators erect barricades, something, to say the least, unusual  in the posh 8th arrondissement.

Mélenchon of the rally La France insoumise (LI) claims that the protests were part of the great French revolutionary tradition of refusing to pay taxes for the rich.

The far-right Sovereigntist Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, leader of Debout la France, who has very publicly backed the protest.,accused the government of seizing on a few idiots to discredit the movement, the honest folk behind the Gilets Jaunes movement.

The Gilets Jaunes protests could be called “populism in the streets”, an upsurge against the government by a very mixed group of people.

It is hard to not to sympathise with those, trapped into using their cars in many parts of France without proper public transport (as is the case in many areas of Britain) are the first to suffer from tax rises on the diesel they were  encouraged to use.

But it is hard to claim that this this protest is ‘floating signifier’ which the left  can ‘hegemonise”  (“Le gilet jaune comme signifiant flottant.  ) There is a case for addressing the issues of the “peripheral” parts of France, which, as in the rest of Europe, suffer from poor transport and a shrinking number of public services. But how exactly can any left, the “composantes progressistes du champ social” convince those who, to put it simply, correspond to the “petrol heads” of Top Gear. Clearly the far-right have not been able to work within the Gilets Jaunes so easily without a reason. Any Green measure is likely to be fought by these people.

It does not take a Doctorate in the behaviour of the far-left to see something of an opportunist running after any form of popular unrest here.

Macron and Interior Minister Christophe Castaner have not just been able to accuse Marine Le Pen and the   Rassemblement National of fomenting disorder.

They have (with transparent logic) posed a real problem for those parts of the French left which have shown sympathy with the Gilets Jaunes.

It is fortunate, helped by support for the march against sexual violence at the same time,  that none have said, “No, it was not the ultra-right – we were there too!”

and Ligne rouge et gilets jaunes  by  & 

and: Classes d’encadrement et prolétaires dans le « mouvement des gilets jaunes »

 

Notably, 

Cet agrégat informe d’individualismes, qui ne veut pas payer pour les autres, s’insère dans un fond idéologique d’extrême-droite. Au delà de la présence plus que problématique de l’extrême droite parlementaire et extraparlementaire, un discours, qui revient comme une rengaine : contre les « parasites » dits du haut (Macron, les bobos, le gouvernement, mais pas la classe capitaliste) et du bas (les précaires, les immigrés, les chômeurs, etc) qui profiteraient de la redistribution. Cela s’est traduit concrètement par des attaques physiques sur une femme voilée, un reporter asiatique, un couple homosexuel, des migrants cachés dans un camion et livrés à la gendarmerie, un camarade noir, etc.

The Politics of the Gilets Jaunes in France, is the Far-Right only at the Fringes?

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“Police Force. We hope that you will not touch French people in Gilets Jaunes. If you feel you need exercise you can start by going into the Estates and defend yourself against the scum of 10 to 16 years old when they spit and attack you instead of doing nothing about it.”

Today le Monde leads with the claim that the Gilets Jaunes movement is running out of steam ahead of its Saturday March on the Champ-de-Mars in Paris.

« Gilets jaunes » : la mobilisation s’essouffle au sixième jour du mouvement

Opinion is divided on the Gilets Jaunes.

The movement, protesting against a rise in the tax on transport fuel, has no formal leaders.

But there are plenty of political figures circulating around.

On the BBC site Lucy Williamson comments,

There’s lively debate here about the true nature of the protests – whether the movement is being steered by hard-right agitators, or hijacked by political interests. But for every one out blocking roads, there seem to be many French citizens supporting them at home. A survey by the polling agency Elabe found that almost three-quarters of French voters approved of the protests, and that more than half of those who voted for Mr Macron support them.

Several of the main opposition parties have publicly backed them, including the centre right Republicains, the far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon and his far-right rival Marine Le Pen.

Most people agree this is about much more than fuel taxes. It’s about the economic policies of President Emmanuel Macron in the face of growing frustration from low- and middle-income workers about making ends meet.

Are French riots a curse or a blessing for Macron?

Jean Luc Mélenchon is clearly enthused by the Gilets Jaunes:

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Olivier Besancenot of the Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (NPA) has welcomed the France wide blockages as a “social upheaval”. The unrest, he asserted, was about the cost of living, not about ecological policies.”

“On n’a pas affaire à une fronde contre un gouvernement écologique, on a une fronde sociale contre la vie chère, qui n’a pas d’hostilité contre la transition écologique”, a analysé le fondateur du NPA.

Gilets jaunes: “C’est une fronde sociale qui ne fait que commencer”, affirme Olivier Besancenot

Robert Hirsh of the bloc, Ensemble (which has 2 MPs, allied to La France insoumise) states that their comrades participated in the blockages, and that the far right had not ” décisivement” impacted on the demonstrations. Hirsh sees the future in terms of a broader “anti-austerity” movement. (Passer des gilets jaunes aux drapeaux rouges et verts…)

On the same site, of Ensemble, a group of left-wing figures claim that the self-organised Gilets Jaunes, are welcome news, a popular movement after a long series of set backs, ” Ce mouvement d’auto-organisation populaire fera date et c’est une bonne nouvelle.” (Les “gilets jaunes” sont aussi le produit d’une succession d’échecs du mouvement social.)

Others are less than happy at reports of this character, illustrating joint action between Mélenchon supporters and the factions of the far right.

Notably:  Gilets jaunes: des manifestations très à droite… LE BLOG DE LANCETRE

Mediapart.

Here are some of the aspects of the movement which have caused concern.

“Yellow vests” deliver migrants hidden in a lorry to the gendarmes

The Tanker in which the six migrants were located was stopped in cyclist, near the a16 motorway in the Somme.

 

Here is more of the political support: (RN – Rassemblement Rational is the new name for the Front National).

Les gilets jaunes ne font pas de politique…Mais accueillent Dieudonné !

We wish those attempting to turn this into a broader anti-austerity movement well.

But there are few signs that the social groups moblised by the Gilets Jaunes are likely to turn to wider social solidarity. The trade union federations have kept, an often ambiguous, distance, while expressing some support for their demands. The political problems of the British fuel protests of 2000, and following years (up to 2007) which involved right-wing groups, such as  Farmers for Action and coincided with the hard-right Countryside Alliance protests, look small in comparison. The tolerance of the far-right, and many incidents of casual bigotry,   and overt racism, indicate a fracture – reflected across Europe, including the UK  –  between this “populism in the streets” and the left.

Gilets Jaunes Fuel Price Protests in France. CGT Union will not demonstrate with the Far-Right.

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Far-Right Backs Gilets Jaunes Protests.

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, faces a new challenge this weekend as a motorist protest movement threatens to bring the country to a standstill.

The so-called gilets jaunes (yellow vests) protest movement has no official organisation, no identified leader and no political affiliation. Instead, it has been almost entirely coordinated on social media.

As a result, the French authorities fear the location of the protests is almost impossible to pin down and nobody has a clue how many people will turn up.

poll by Elabe for BFM TV on Wednesday suggested 73% of French people supported the protests and 70% said the government should scrap the fuel price rises.

Guardian.

 

The attempted blockades have taken a violent turn with 1 woman dead and 17 injured, one gravely, in an accident at one of their barrages in Savoie (Mobilisation des “gilets jaunes” : un mort et 17 blessés légers, dont un “en urgence vitale”, dans les manifestations ).

The Huffington Post reports that the driver, who was taking her daughter to the doctor, panicked when the Gilets Jaunes began thumping on her car and drove into the  crowd.  Gilets jaunes: mort d’une manifestante tuée en Savoie après la panique d’une automobiliste)

You can follow events live via Le Monde:

(Latest) 17 novembre en direct : plus de 1 000 points de blocages, un mort et plusieurs blessés sur des barrages de « gilets jaunes »

 

The strongest political support for the protests against fuel price rises has come from the extreme right.  Marine Le Pen (whose activists will not parade overtly as part of their party, the Rassemblement national (ex-Front National)  and Nicolas Dupont-Aignan’s sovereigntist Debout La France, which is attempting to play on overtly leading role.

Forces to the right of these movements, that is the ultra-right, have had a field day.

France 24 explains.
The ‘yellow vest’ protests began after the French government’s decision in late 2017 to raise a direct tax on diesel in an effort to fight against climate change. Since then crude oil prices have surged, making diesel prohibitively expensive for many who rely on their cars to get to and from work, especially in rural areas.
The movement has now transformed into a general protest against French President Emmanuel Macron’s administration. Around 50,000 “yellow vest” protesters are taking part in more than 1,000 demonstrations nationwide, according to the interior ministry.

 

The Leader of the left Trade Union Federation, the CGT, will not participate in  the demonstrations and calls for a rise in the minimum wage.

France Info.

The general secretary of the CGT demands that the government  increases the smic (minimum wage) to calm the  “legitimate” anger of the “yellow vests” . “Why do not we talk about an increase in wages At end of the year, the government will review the question of the SMIC.  Why not, regarding  purchasing powerannounce an increase in this minimum wage? ” asked Philippe Martinez on Saturday (November 17th) on Europe 1. The smic currently stands at 9.88 euros gross, or 1 498.47 euros per month. “We can not live with that,” said the number one CGT, which has for some years put forward the proposal for  minimum wage to 1,800 euros gross monthly.

Regarding the movement of “gilets jaunes”, Philippe Martinez  reiterated his opposition to participating in today’s moblisation, because of the presence of the extreme right.  “Some, a minority,, with bad intentions are trying to take advantage of this,” said the boss of the CGT, referring to the extreme right. CGT activists will still protest this Saturday  for their call for an improvement in purchasing power, despite the opposition of the confederation, but there will be no sanctions against those who do so, said the union leader, because “everyone has the right to to express oneself “ .

More from France 24.

Yellow Vests’: from left to right, French political parties struggle to respond

The tax hike is part of France’s long-term ecological plan and is meant to move the country’s citizens away from fossil fuels in general and, in particular, from diesel cars. Opponents say that the tax is unjust and unfairly penalises those living in non-urban areas, where there is little access to public transportation.

The campaign poses a conundrum for opposition parties. How do they demonstrate solidarity with voters without looking like they are exploiting a movement that has deemed itself apolitical? And without contradicting their past positions on the environment?

The difficulty of that balancing act is evident in the stance taken by almost all of the opposition parties, most of which “support the movement but not the blockades”. Here is a breakdown of each party’s position, from the extreme right to the far left

National Rally (Rassemblement National)

National Rally (or RN, which was formerly known as the National Front) President Marine Le Pen was one of the first politicians to show support for the Yellow Vest movement. In late-October she began calling for her party’s officials and representatives to join the protest, and party activists have been distributing leaflets for the movement. Le Pen, however, will refrain from joining the rallies herself. She justified her stance in a radio interview with France Inter: “The place of a party leader is not at demonstrations.” That position allows her to denounce the attempts of her political rivals to capitalise on the movement.

Although “a good part of the elected RN” are expected to participate in the road blockages, according to Wallerand de Saint-Just, the RN’s regional councilor for the Ile-de-France region, activists and party officials have been asked not to wear party logos, so that the movement isn’t equated with the far right. But Le Pen is already being accused of taking advantage of it.

“The November 17 demonstration is being completely exploited by Marine Le Pen and [Stand Up the Republic leader] Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, who are hugely irresponsible on this subject,” said government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux.

Stand Up The Republic (Debout la France)

Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, the president of Stand Up The Republic and a former ally of Marine Le Pen, didn’t hesitate to say that he would take part. It was an activist from his movement who helped spread word of the mobilisation by posting a video on his Facebook page that went viral and has now been viewed by more than 4.4 million people.

“Someone, I don’t know who, launched on Facebook the idea of a general mobilisation of the French people, saying that on November 17 we should all block the country’s main roads to protest the rise in the price of gasoline … I suggest you all contact your friends and go block your city, the ring roads, motorway tolls … Please share this video widely,” activist Frank Buhler wrote on October 23. A former member of Le Pen’s National Rally, Buhler is in the process of being expelled from that party for making racist remarks on Twitter.

The Republicans (Les Républicains)

On November 17, Laurent Wauquiez will likely trade his ever-present red parka for an equally becoming yellow vest. The president of The Republicans (LR) plans to join a demonstration in his department, the Haute-Loire.

“The position of LR is simple: we will be on the side of angry demonstrators but we won’t call for the blocade because it is counterproductive,” the party’s vice president, Guillaume Peltier, explained in the free newspaper 20 Minutes.

Along with LR MP Damien Abad, Peltier proposed in early November distributing a “fuel cheque” of €100 to 13 million rural French who have “no access to public transport”. The proposal is intended to offset the “excessive rise in taxes” on diesel. Never mind that the proposal comes with an exorbitant price tag and isn’t really in line with the limits on public spending traditionally defended by the right. The measure is far from unanimously supported by the party.

The Socialist Party (Parti Socialiste)

There is no easy position for the Socialist Party, which, since its poor performance in the last presidential election, continues its plummet without managing to reconnect with voters. “We support the French who are mobilising to defend their purchasing power,” said party boss Olivier Faure.

The government has linked the grassroots movement with the RN “to better disqualify it”, Faure said, no doubt anxious not to contradict the environmental positioning of his party. The Socialists have not officially called for protests, even if some party leaders will be on the street. It is, to say the least, paradoxical for a party that created the carbon tax to support a demonstration against rising fuel prices.

The former socialist presidential candidate and now leader of Generation.s, Benoît Hamon, for his part, believes that there is “legitimate political anger”. But that isn’t enough to get him to join the movement. “I’m not going to protest next to the FN,” he said.

France Unbowed (La France Insoumise)

France Unbowed (LFI) faces the same conundrum. Between the ecological positions of the party and its fear of seeing the Yellow Vests movement claimed by the hard and extreme right, the party has had a hard time positioning itself.

Former presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, without calling on members to participate in the blockade, wished the movement success. “I’m told ‘there are [fascists] in there.’ Yes, yes, there are everywhere, and there are also a lot of angry people who are not [fascists], and they are right to be angry,” he said at a meeting on November 8. “This anger is just, it is about something that makes sense.”

Some LFI officials, such as François Ruffin, will participate as individuals. “I’ll go there to listen, to understand,” the popular deputy said on France Inter.

Seine-Saint-Denis deputy Clémentine Autain, on the other hand, will not take part. She refuses to “parade at the call of [far-right publication] Minute and with Marine Le Pen,” she explained in Le Monde on November 6.

Gilets jaunes : la députée LFI Clémentine Autain ne participera pas le 17 novembre

Autin is a member of Ensemble, a democratic left group allied with the LFI but not subordinate to the structure of Mélenchon’s Rally.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 17, 2018 at 12:49 pm

Patriotism and Nationalism, from Orwell to Trump Mocking France’s War Dead.

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Nice One Trumpy!

Comrade George Orwell wrote,

 “Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.”

NOTES ON NATIONALISM  Polemic, GB – London, 1945

People have debated these lines and the article for many years.

But Trump has just clarified the meaning of these sentences.

Trump Mocks France for World War Losses

First thing in the U.S. morning, the U.S. president took another — even more pointed — crack at the French leader. After a fractious visit to Paris over the weekend, Trump returned to the theme of a European army to defend the continent’s interests and took renewed offence. In a particularly sharp jab, Trump implied that the French needed the U.S. to rescue them from the Germans in both world wars.

 

The tweet comes after Trump spent a weekend in Paris with other world leaders commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War 1. In an earlier tweet, the American president had called Macron’s suggestion “very insulting.” Trump’s latest broad-side was ill-timed, falling on the third anniversary of Paris terror attacks that killed more than 130 people and left hundreds more injured.

…..

Scroll down to this:

“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism,” Macron said in an address to world leaders gathered for Armistice commemorations, with Trump sitting nearby.

His office later tweeted this part of the speech, which went on to say ‘by putting our own interests first, with no regard for others, we erase the very thing that a nation holds dearest, and the thing that keeps it alive: its moral values.”

It was seen as a direct rebuke of Trump’s ‘America First’ policies. Indeed, Macron has used social media to mock the U.S. leader in the past. When Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord, Macron launched an initiative to recruit U.S. scientists with the tag line “Make Our Planet Great Again” — a play on Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan.”

 

The President persists and signs:

 

French Army response to Trump’s fear of a dose of drizzle:

Trump is still at it:

 

For the moment this is the official French response, no comment: 

L’Elysée se refuse pour l’heure à tout commentaire après cette série de tweets, indique l’AFP.

However much one may normally disagree with Marcon, we are in in solidarity with the French President against this draft-dodging flatulent flaccid fraud US President.

Here is Plantu rendering a loving homage to the other side of America:

Written by Andrew Coates

November 13, 2018 at 5:12 pm