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Yellow Vests and I

category france / belgium / luxemburg | community struggles | non-anarchist press author Samstag Januar 12, 2019 19:55author by Pamela Anderson Report this post to the editors

I am glad that the media noticed my brief Twitter take on the situation in France, my adopted country, which has been experiencing a series of mass protests in the last few weeks.



Some followers accused me of "throwing support" behind the riots and violence and not understanding the problem. This is so biased. Why? Let's see! Why these protests now?

Instead of being hypnotized by the burning images, I wanted to ask "where did the protests come from?"

"Yellow Vests" ("Gilets Jaune" named after roadside-safety vests) are a mass popular movement against the current establishment. It is a revolt that has been simmering in France for years. A revolt by ordinary people against the current political system which - as in many other western countries – colludes with the elite and despises its own citizens.

The protest started when President Macron announced an increase in carbon and air pollution taxes. The next increase will happen in January. This is supposed to collect more money for the state budget and also motivate people to use alternatives to diesel-fuelled cars. Macron would like to ban diesel cars by 2040.

But the French state encouraged people to buy diesel fuelled cars for many years. For example, in 2016, 62% of cars in France were diesel cars, as well as 95% of all vans and small lorries. So it is no wonder that many people view the new policy as a total betrayal.

Getting a new car is probably not a big deal for President Macron and his ministers. But it is way too difficult for many people who are already financially stretched to the max . Many poor people will not be able to get to work, especially if there is no reliable public transport in place throughout. Many old people will not be able to get to the shops or to the doctor.

Lots of media see Yellow Vests protesters as criminals causing destruction.

I see forces of destruction on the other side.

What about the violence?

I am a committed pacifist. I despise violence. But I also know that when protests end in violence it is too often the failure and the fault of the state. The failure of the state to enable people to be heard. This is the position of many international human rights organisations including Amnesty International.

Also, the critics of "violent riots" pretend that the current capitalist society is non-violent. Violence is a part of modern society and comes in many forms.

For example, Philippe Bourgois recognises four types of violence.

Political violence is conducted in the name of some state power or ideology.

Structural violence concerns the political and economic order of society in which the conditions of inequality and exploitation are institutionalised, including the exploitation of "cheap labour" and natural resources in the developing world.

Symbolic violence is involved when the oppressed and powerless internalize their humiliation and inequality.

And finally, everyday violence is the violence of "ordinary" life, such as criminality or domestic violence. This violence is often closely linked to structural violence (for example criminality can be associated with poverty) or a symbolic one (domestic violence can be linked to gender inequality).

So what is the violence of all these people and burned luxurious cars compared to the structural violence of the French and global elites?

When some protesters destroy cars and burn shops, they symbolically attack private property that is the basis of capitalism. When they attack police officers, they symbolically reject and challenge repressive state forces - forces that primarily protect the capital.

Moralising about burned cars and banks’ broken windows is misplaced. This must be seen in the context of the current status quo. A status quo in which the power of the powerful and the powerlessness of the powerless is maintained. A status quo of societies where only a few profit and the many loose.

What about the climate change?

Some people might think that Yellow Vests are fighting against good policies that aim to reduce carbon emissions.

But let's not forget that it is the world's richest 10% who are responsible for nearly 50% of total lifestyle consumption emissions.

Also, the stated fight against climate change is often a very lucrative business and used merely as a screen for preferential projects that would not be viable otherwise due to their costs. These projects are often chosen in a way that is not very transparent.

I do not believe that the Yellow Vests support harmful policies that cause climate change. They are against the political system and the politics that did far more for the rich than for the poor.

What is next?

The true question is whether the current protests can turn into something constructive. What comes the day after and if the progressives in France, and all over the world, can find solutions to constructing equal and egalitarian societies.

Yellow Vests are calling for a new social justice order, for the right to live in dignity based on fair wages and a fair tax system. The only solution is to create such a system. A system that will stand for respect of community life: for redistribution of the wealth to the benefit of the people and the nation. Because the people have been excluded from the distribution of wealth thus far and have been left destitute.

More to come. Watch this space!

Love

Pamela

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Di 18 Jun, 01:47

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textNo to the state of emergency in France 17:28 Do 10 Nov by Alternative Libertaire 0 comments

Statement by Alternative Libertaire on the introduction of the state of emergency

textWe are all part of the rabble 19:10 Mi 09 Nov by CNT-f 0 comments

Statement from the CNT on the (re)introduction of the curfew in France

textCNT Education sector on French riots 01:11 Di 08 Nov by CNT-FTE 0 comments

Statement by the CNT-f on the recent events in Paris. Of course the teachers with the CNT, most of whom work in these neighbourhoods, do not call for the destruction of cars or public buildings, but nor do they call for resignation. For these young people, they demand more justice

textA Week of Rebellion Against Social Injustice 18:43 Mo 07 Nov by Alternative Libertaire 9 comments

Statement by the Federal Secretariat of Alternative Libertaire on the events in Paris

imageYellow Vests and Raincoats Jun 05 by Morgan 0 comments

The following article is a personal impression and analysis of the Yellow Vests movement in France, written by a French Anarchist now living in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

imageLessons from the Yellow Vests Jan 30 by Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group 0 comments

The only realistic approach to climate change is one that recognises the inequality in our society. The policies of neo-liberalism, in particular carbon pricing, are a prescription for failure. Workers and communities currently reliant on unsustainable industries deserve a just transition. Working class living standards as a whole must be protected to maintain social support for a transition to a carbon free economy. The price of the transition must be borne by those who built and profited from unsustainable industries – the capitalists. In short, we need to abolish capitalism. It is the only strategy that can work.

image“The Gilets Jaunes have blown up the old political categories” Jan 12 by Jerome Roos 0 comments

France’s neoliberal order trembles as the yellow vest revolt shatters established political conventions. The new terrain presents both dangers and opportunities.

textNeocons in France! resistance and social unrest: news and views Mai 15 by anarchy 0 comments

Since may 6, we know the face of our new enemy. He is not unknown to us, we “practiced” him as a minister the last five years. The policy he will implement will be in all aspects a program of social regression, of freedom restriction and brutality of the state apparatus against the population. Despite those who tied their hands in the “call to vote”, we reject the legitimacy of this power and are calling to resistance.

textDetailed analysis from France of the cause of the riots Nov 15 by Anarkismo Editorial Group 3 comments

This is the first detailed analysis of the riots to be translated into English. It's from the anti-fascist No Pasaran network which includes libertarian communists.

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textNo to the state of emergency in France Nov 10 AL 0 comments

Statement by Alternative Libertaire on the introduction of the state of emergency

textWe are all part of the rabble Nov 09 Regional Bureau for the Paris Region 0 comments

Statement from the CNT on the (re)introduction of the curfew in France

textCNT Education sector on French riots Nov 08 CNT-f 0 comments

Statement by the CNT-f on the recent events in Paris. Of course the teachers with the CNT, most of whom work in these neighbourhoods, do not call for the destruction of cars or public buildings, but nor do they call for resignation. For these young people, they demand more justice

textA Week of Rebellion Against Social Injustice Nov 07 AL 9 comments

Statement by the Federal Secretariat of Alternative Libertaire on the events in Paris

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