President Emmanuel Macron broke his silence by addressing the French on 10 December at 8 p.m. on all television channels: "French men and women, here we are together at the rendezvous of our country and the future. The events of recent weeks (...) have mixed legitimate demands with an outburst of unacceptable violence. (...) This violence will not be treated leniently. There is no anger to justify attacking a police officer, a gendarme; to damage a business or public buildings. (...) When violence breaks out, freedom ceases. It is therefore now time for calm and republican order to prevail. We will do everything in our power to do so. (...) I have given the government the most rigorous instructions to that effect.
But, at the beginning of all this, I do not forget that there is anger, indignation. And this indignation, many of us, many French people can share it (...) But this anger is deeper, I feel it as fair in many respects, and it can be our chance (...) It is forty years of unease that reappear.
We have probably not been able to provide a quick and strong response to it for the past year and a half. I take my share of responsibility. I know that I have hurt some of you in the past with my words. (...) We will not return to the normal course of our lives, as too often in the past during crises. We are at a historic moment in our country. I also want us to agree with the nation itself on what its deep identity is. That we address the issue of immigration".
No "republican law enforcement" justifies, in fact, police officers shooting flash-balls at adolescents (without helmets or shields) who are minors, educated, and whose injuries are much deeper than those of the police officers assaulted, on Saturday, December 1, in front of the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. No "republican law enforcement" justifies police firing tear gas grenades at demonstrators peacefully marching on Avenue des Champs-Élysées, demonstrators among whom there were elderly people (many of whom were women). No "republican law enforcement" justifies crippling teenagers with their hands ripped off by the explosion of an offensive grenade (a weapon not used in other European countries).
When police violence is unleashed against teenagers, it can only lead to urban riots (as in 2005), it can only aggravate social chaos. Violence can only generate violence! Shooting at teenagers is a crime. If the officials of the "republican order" kill children (as almost happened with a seriously wounded high school student in a commune in Loiret), it means that this republican order has no future to offer to humanity! This infanticidal police violence is despicable and revolting! It is certainly not with intimidation and threats that "calm" and "social peace" will be restored.
The President of the Republic's speech is addressed only to "French men and women", while many workers who pay their taxes are not "French". Our ancestors were not "Gauls" but Africans (whether the Gaul Madame Le Pen likes it or not!): Africa is the cradle of the human species, as scientists, anthropologists and primatologists know. Only the churches still affirm that God created man. As the philosopher Spinoza said: "ignorance is not an argument".
Macron has declared a "state of economic and social emergency"
All economic indicators are back in the red again. Ten years after the 2008 financial crisis, which further aggravated sovereign debt, the threat of a new financial crisis is once again looming with the risk of a new stock market crash. But now the "people" are rebelling! Because it was the "people" who were made to pay for the 2008 crisis by all governments with austerity plans in all countries. Workers have been required to accept additional sacrifices to get out of the crisis "all together" (since 2008, the average loss of purchasing power of workers is 440 Euros per household). The state had to "protect" us from the risk of a chain of bank failures where the "people" placed their small savings to be able to secure their old age. These sacrifices, particularly on household purchasing power, were intended to restore growth and protect jobs.
After ten years of sacrifices to save banks from bankruptcy and to absorb the national state's budget deficit, it is normal that the "people" can no longer make ends meet and are indignant to see the "rich" living in luxury while the "poor" no longer have enough money to fill the fridge or buy toys for their children at Christmas.
The President is therefore quite right to declare a "state of economic and social emergency". It absolutely needs new "social firefighters" to put out the "fire" of class struggle, as the big trade union centres have carefully done their dirty work to sabotage the workers' struggles to help the government and employers to push through their attacks on our living conditions. The "rich" being those who exploit the labour power of the "poor" for profit, surplus value, and to maintain their privileges. This is what Karl Marx clearly explained in 1848 in the "Manifesto of the Communist Party".
To get out of the crisis in the executive branch and open a "dialogue", "our" President announced the following measures: increase the minimum wage by 100 Euros per month, cancellation of the increase in the CSG for pensioners who receive less than 2,000 Euros per month, tax exemption for overtime. He also asked the bosses, who can, to pay end-of-year bonuses to their employees (which will also be tax-free). "Our President of La République En Marche" has therefore taken "a step forward". The lesson to be learned would therefore be that only "modern" (and not "old-fashioned") methods of fighting, as citizens in "gilet jaunes" (yellow vests), pay and can make the government "back down"!
For our part, we remain "old-fashioned", convinced that petanque balls and other projectiles to counter intensive tear gas bombardment are totally ineffective and can only contribute to the escalation of violence, social chaos and the strengthening of the police state. The proletarian class struggle is not a revolt. The main weapons of the proletariat remain its organization and consciousness. Because "when theory takes hold of the masses, it becomes a material force," as Karl Marx said. Unlike the "gilet jaunes" movement, our "Gallic" reference is not the French Revolution of 1789 (with its guillotine, its tricolour flag and its "old-fashioned" national anthem), but the Paris Commune.
Social chaos in France and the crisis of executive power
Since "Black Saturday" on December 1st, the media has given us a real live thriller on all television screens and social networks: will the "President of the Rich", Emmanuel Macron, finally "back down" under the pressure of the "gilet jaunes" movement? Will he give in to the determination of the "gilet jaunes" that camp on the roundabouts and have followed the watchwords of Éric Drouet, a leading figure and initiator of the movement?
The "gilet jaunes" march on the Champs-Élysées on Saturday, December 1, had turned into a veritable urban guerrilla warfare turning into a riot with hallucinatory scenes of violence under the Arc de Triomphe as in the Kléber and Foch avenues in the 16th arrondissement. Two weeks earlier, on 17 November, the "police forces" had not hesitated to use tear gas and run at groups of "citizens", men and women in yellow vests, quietly walking on the Champs-Élysées singing La Marseillaise and waving the tricolour flag. These police provocations could only stir up the anger of the citizens in "gilet jaunes" against the citizen in suit and tie of the Elysée Palace. The call for "Act III" of the "gilet jaunes" has thus provoked emulation among the declassed elements of the French "people". Organized gangs of professional rioters, black blocks, far-right bullies, "anars" and other mysterious unidentified "casseurs" (wreckers) took the opportunity to come and make a mess on the "most beautiful avenue in the world".
But what set the powder on fire was a mistake in the Ministry of the Interior's "strategy" for maintaining order: the establishment of a "fan zone" on part of the Champs-Élysées to secure the beautiful districts. In the aftermath of "Black Saturday", the Minister of the Interior, Christophe Castaner, acknowledged his mistake: "We got it wrong!” Another mistake was also acknowledged: the lack of mobility of the CRS and gendarmes, completely overwhelmed by the situation (despite their water cannons and the incessant firing of tear gas canisters), terrorized by the beating of one of them and by the projectiles thrown at them. The media continued to broadcast this ugly CRS scene on television screens throughout the week, forcing them to retreat against groups of "gilet jaunes" around the Arc de Triomphe. The recorded comments, which were rarely broadcast by the media: "Next Saturday, we will come back with weapons!", as well as the anger of shopkeepers and residents of the beautiful districts against the negligence of the police forces, were clearly heard by the government and the entire political class. The danger of the French Republic becoming bogged down in social chaos has been further reinforced by the willingness of part of the population of the 16th and 8th arrondissements to defend themselves if the police were not able to protect them from the spiral of violence during the fourth "demonstration" of the "gilet jaunes" scheduled for Saturday 8 December (Act IV with the childish slogan: "All to the Elysée!").
The most dramatic event in the crisis of executive power is the loss of credibility of the "protective state" and its "law enforcement" apparatus. This flaw in Macronian power (and the underestimation of the depth of discontent brewing in the bowels of society) could only give wings not only to "radical" "gilet jaunes", but also to all those who want to "break cops", to set fire everywhere in the face of the lack of a future, especially among the younger generations facing unemployment and precariousness. Many young people leaving universities with degrees do not find jobs and are forced to do "food jobs" to survive.
Faced with the risk of losing control of the situation and the government's stampede, President Macron, after having come to see the damage (including in terms of the "morale of the troops" of the CRS shocked by the urban guerrillas for which they were not prepared), decided to lock himself in his Elysian bunker to "reflect" by soaking the entire political class and sending his Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, backed by the Minister of the Interior, Christophe Castaner, to “the front”.
In addition to the haughtiness of the youngest President of the French Republic, he appeared as a coward who "hides" behind his Prime Minister and finds himself unable to come out of the shadows to "speak to his people". The media even spread the rumour that Emmanuel Macron was going to use Edouard Philippe, or even the Minister of the Interior, as "lightning conductors", i.e. to blame them for his own mistakes.
After "Black Saturday" the political class lined up against its scapegoat, Jupiter Macron, designated as the one and only person responsible for social chaos. The "arsonist President" allegedly set the fire with his "original sin": the abolition of the wealth tax and his arrogant and provocative attitude. The announcement of the latest austerity measures (increases in petrol, gas and electricity taxes) was just the spark that set the powder on fire. From the far right to the far left, all the bourgeois cliques joined the hue and cry and tried to clear themselves of blame. All the cliques of the bourgeois political apparatus that "supported" the citizen movement of the "gilet jaunes" cowardly abandoned the little President and called on him to finally hear the cry of the "people" who can no longer make ends meet. Some have called for a referendum, others for the dissolution of the National Assembly. Everyone called on the President to assume his responsibility. The heads of state of the other countries (Trump, Erdogan, Putin...) also began to lay into the young President of the French Republic by giving him a dunce’s cap for having shown too much repression against his people. It is really the pot calling the kettle black, the unleashing of every man for himself and devil take the hindmost!
The Pandora's box of the Macron government
As early as Tuesday, December 3, the Prime Minister announced three measures to get out of the crisis, "ease" social tension and prevent the escalation of violence: a six-month suspension of fuel tax, a three-month suspension of the increase in the price of gas and electricity and a reform of roadworthiness tests for vehicles which, in the name of the "ecological transition", condemned many of them to scrap. But this "scoop" only aggravated the anger of the working poor in yellow vests. No one was fooled: "Macron is trying to screw us!" "He thinks we're stupid!" Even the PCF sang his verse: "We are not pigeons satisfied by crumbs!" A fire cannot be extinguished with a dropper (or water cannons).
Faced with the outcry caused by this "announcement", Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, came back the next day, with remarkable composure, to speak to the French "people" to announce that, finally, the increases in fuel taxes would not be suspended but simply cancelled. After the announcement of the latest Republican government "sidestep" (the tax exemption on overtime bonuses), the "green vest" Benoit Hamon said that "it’s not enough!” The government had no alternative but to give up its efforts to "calm" people's minds and prevent the urban guerrilla warfare on the Champs-Élysées from intensifying even further, even though this violence would not discredit the "gilet jaunes" movement.
Since "Black Saturday", the government has wielded the stick and the carrot. These small diplomatic concessions were accompanied by a gigantic media hype about the "exceptional" deployment of the police for the "Act IV" of the "gilet jaunes" on Saturday 8 December. In order not to damage the bourgeois "democracy", the government has not banned the rally. Nor is there any question of declaring a state of emergency (as envisaged and even demanded by certain sectors of the political apparatus).
After discussing the "problem" with all the senior officials in charge of homeland security, our debonair Minister of the Interior sought to reassure "everyone" by announcing that another public order strategy had been developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice. The police were no longer to retreat in the capital as throughout the country. A state of emergency was not necessary: there was no "imminent danger" for the Republic.
What has happened in the beautiful districts of Paris, including looting, is more similar to hunger riots, such as those in Argentina in 2001, and suburban riots such as those in France in 2005. The slogan "Macron resign" is of the same nature as the "dégagisme" (rejection of “elites” and politicians) of the 2011 Arab Spring which circulated on all social networks. That is why we also read on cardboard signs: "Macron out!"
This exceptional deployment of the police forces did not succeed in reassuring "everyone", to such an extent that the Minister of the Interior had to patiently explain on television screens that the armoured cars of the gendarmerie are not tanks but simply vehicles intended to clear any barricades and protect the police in their mission. The aim of such a system is to avoid deaths on the part of both demonstrators and police forces, even though there were many injuries and 1,723 arrests (not to mention material damage).
The President has therefore given a lot of "thought" with the support of his close guard of "specialists" and "advisers" and, behind the scenes, with that of all the "intermediate bodies" and professional social firemen of the trade unions. The indefinite truckers' strike called by the CGT was cancelled 48 hours later, as the Minister of Transport immediately guaranteed truck drivers that the increase in overtime would continue even before they went on strike!
The President of the Republic was faced with a "puzzle". By being forced to let go of the ballast (too late!) in the face of the "cry of the people", he opened a Pandora's box: there was a risk of the whole "people" mobilizing, as we have seen with the massive demonstrations of high school students (without "yellow vests" or tricolor flags) against the reform of the Bac and the Parcours Sup (university entrance). But if Emmanuel Macron continued to refuse to give up, he took the risk of a tidal wave of "gilet jaunes" demanding his resignation.
How will the government now close this Pandora's box? The government faced another dilemma that it had to resolve quickly to contain the danger of a spiral of violence, with deaths, during the December 8 demonstration. After the CRS attacks were forced to retreat in front of the Arc de Triomphe, the priority was to show that "force must return to the law" and restore the credibility of the state as "protector" and guarantee of "national unity". The Macron government could not take the risk of making the French democratic state appear as a common banana republic of the "third world" that only holds out with a strong military junta in power.
This focus on the "D-day" and the problem of violence was intended to ensure that the government did not "back down" on one of the central issues: that of wage increases. Above all, the "President of the Rich" remained firm and tranquil regarding the abolition of the Wealth Tax, which was seen as a profound injustice. It is out of the question to "unravel what we have done for 18 months", according to his own words relayed by the media.
This allowed Marine Le Pen to make a new statement about Macron, "this man" whose "disembodied" function shows that he is "devoid of empathy for the people". Pure hypocrisy! No head of state has "empathy for the people". If Madame Le Pen (who aspires to one day become "head of state") has such "empathy for the people", why did she say in front of the television sets that she was not in favour of increasing the minimum wage so as not to penalize the small business owners of SMEs (who constitute a part of her electoral clientele)? All these bourgeois parties that support the "gilet jaunes" and focus all their attention on Macron's detestable personality want us to believe that capitalism is personified by this or that individual when it is a world economic system that must be destroyed. This will not happen in a few days, given the length of the road that remains to be covered (we do not believe in the myth of the "great day"). Macron's resignation and his replacement by another "satirical puppet" will not change the growing misery of the proletarians. Poverty can only continue to worsen with the tremors of a global economic crisis that has no end in sight.
In the inter-classist movement of "gilets jaunes", the petty bourgeoisie is revealed
The inter-classist movement of the "gilets jaunes" could only result in a break between "extremists" and "moderates". Eric Drouet, who initiated the movement on social networks, put on a piece of theatre with its different "acts". Invited onto television programmes, he clearly affirmed that his appeal for "Act IV" on Saturday December 8 was aimed to lead the "gilet jaunes" to meet up at the Elysee Palace in order to confront "King" Macron. Maybe this limited megalomaniac adventurer imagined that the "gilet jaunes" could do the business faced with the Republican Guard who protected the presidential palace. You can't just waltz in like any old building with no guards and no security! Let's be clear, the "King" would have been able to give a good-hiding to the "leader" of the "sans-culottes".
On the eve of the December 8 demonstration, a young lorry-driver was the object of a judicial enquiry for the "provocation of the commission of a crime or offence" which could lead to five years in prison! The adventurist and activist methods of Eric Drouet (and his "virtual" friends) are typical of the petty-bourgeoisie. They show the despair that these "intermediate" social layers (situated between the fundamental classes of society: bourgeoisie and proletariat) that are also hit by pauperisation.
The government has also tried to take control of the situation thanks to the constitution of a collective of the "free gilet jaunes", which differentiate themselves from the "radicals" who rally behind the flag of the "bad citizen" Eric Drouet. The three main representatives of this collection of "moderate" gilet jaunes have distanced themselves from their "comrades" who took part in "Black Saturday". Who are these three new stars wearing yellow vests?
- a blacksmith, Christophe Chalecon who called for the government to resign and suggested nominating General De Villiers as Prime Minister, after announcing on Facebook June 28 2015, that he was against immigrants and had contemplated joining the Front National, before becoming a "Macronist", then an unsuccessful candidate at the last legislative elections!
- A woman, Jacline Mouraud, a hypnotherapist, liberal and accordionist.
- Benjamin Cauchy, close to the extreme-right.
These "free gilet jaunes" became more royalist than the king. Whereas the government never banned the December 8 demonstration in Paris, this self-proclaimed triumvirate called on the "gilet jaunes" not to take part in it (in order to avoid playing "the game of the Executive"!). The three of them, with four other spokespeople, were received by the Prime Minister as privileged negotiators of the "free gilet jaunes". They showed themselves as "good citizens", responsible, open to dialogue and ready to collaborate with the government so that "we can talk". As Jacline Mouraud declared after meeting Edouard Philippe at Matignon: the Prime Minister "listened to us", recognised that the government had made mistakes and "we were able to talk about everything".
Also we can see on the TV after "Black Saturday", some "gilet jaunes" affirmed that they wanted to protect the CRS against the "casseurs" (wreckers). It's the world turned upside-down! Also on the screens was the pitiful spectacle of a group of "gilet jaunes" offering croissants at a police post in Frejus and to the gendarmerie in order to be "friendly" to the force of order. The gendarme who welcomed them found them sheepish and repentant, apologising for the violence of "Black Saturday": "We would have liked you to have been with us, but as this is not possible, we want to say to you (say it with croissants) that we are with you and are fighting for you also". That in a social movement, demonstrators try to demoralise the forces of repression, even appeal to them to change sides, is a good thing to do, as numerous historical examples confirm. But never have we seen the repressed apologising so much to the repressors! Did the police ever apologise for the multiple crimes that they committed, as the young student seriously wounded by a flash-ball in Loiret or the death of two children which sparked-off the riots in the capital's suburbs, autumn 2005?
It was these same cops who stirred up the hatred of the police among the adolescents who set fire not only to some rubbish bins but also schools. These outbursts of despair contained the idea that it's not worth going to school to get a job because dad is unemployed and mum is obliged to clean in order to put food on the table and a little butter on the bread. In some quarters of Paris, in parallel with this, there continues to be drug trafficking of all sorts, thefts, and looting from shops! Migrant children live in the streets, in the ghetto of the "Goutte d'Or" (sic) of the 18th arrondissment, without family, without being able to go to school and who are the real "delinquents" (but not through genetics as ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy imagined).
Whereas certain elements of the petty-bourgeoisie plunge into acts of violence, others have kept things together. At the end of the day, in the present circumstances, this unstable and opportunistic intermediate social layer has not come down on the side of the proletariat, which has been the case in other moments of history, but on the side of the big bourgeoisie.
It is really because the "gilet jaunes" movement is inter-classist that it has been infiltrated not just by the idea of patriotic nationalism but also by the nauseous reek of populist anti-immigrant ideology. In fact one finds in the middle of the list (a hodgepodge) of the "42 claims" of the "gilet jaunes" that of the strengthening of the frontiers from clandestine immigrants! Moreover it's for that reason that "our" President in a speech of December 10, gave a little treat to the "gilet jaunes" members or sympathisers of the Rassemblement national (ex-FN) of Marine Le Pen by raising the question of immigration (while this party has gained 4% in the polls since the beginning of this movement).
This "popular revolt" of all the "poor" of "working France" who can't "make ends meet" is not as such a proletarian movement, despite its sociological composition. The great majority of the "gilet jaunes" are workers, paid, exploited and precarious with some not even affected by the SMIC (minimum wage), without counting the retired who don't have the right to the minimum pension. Living in isolated urban or rural areas, without public transport to get to work or children to school, these poor workers need a car and they are thus the first to be hit by the increase in petrol taxes and new technical requirements for their vehicles.
These minority and dispersed sectors of the proletariat of the rural and peripheral zones have no experience of class struggle. For the great majority of them these are their first demonstrations having never participated in strikes, general assemblies or demonstrations in the street. It's for that reason that their first experience of demonstrations in the large urban concentrations, and notably in Paris, takes the form of a disorganised crowd wandering from here to there without any direction and discovering for the first time in vivo the forces of order with their coshes, tear-gas grenades, water cannons, flash-balls as well as the armoured vehicles of the gendarmerie. Had they seen the armed sniper posted on the roof of a building on "Black Saturday"? The image was published by Reuters.
The explosion of the perfectly legitimate anger of the "gilet jaunes" against the misery of their living conditions has been drowned in an inter-classist conglomeration of so-called free individual-citizens. The rejection of "elites" and politics in general makes them particularly vulnerable to the most reactionary ideologies, notably extreme-right xenophobia. The history of the twentieth century has largely demonstrated that these are the "intermediate" social layers (between proletariat and bourgeoisie), notably the petty-bourgeoisie who make the bed for the fascist and Nazi regimes (with the support of bands of hateful and vengeful lumpens, blinded by prejudice and superstitions which hark back to the dawn of time).
It is only in situations of massive and pre-revolutionary struggles, where the proletariat openly affirms itself on the social scene as an autonomous independent class, with its own methods of struggle and organisation, its own culture and class morality, that the petty-bourgeoisie (and even clear-sighted elements of the bourgeoisie) can abandon its cult of individualism and "citizenship", lose its reactionary character and come behind the proletariat, the only class that's capable of offering a future to the human race.
The movement of the "gilets jaunes", from its inter-classist nature, can only end up with no perspective. It can only take the form of a desperate rebellion in the streets of the capital before breaking up into different tendencies, the radical "friends" of Eric Drouet, and those of the moderate "collective of free gilet jaunes". By putting on the yellow jackets, the poor proletarians who have committed themselves to the slogans of the petty-bourgeoisie now find themselves as fall guys (or the cuckolds of history, whose colour is also yellow). They don't want representatives who negotiate behind their back with the government, which is what the unions always do: the government has refused all engagements of discussion with the “spokespeople” of the "gilet jaunes".
Now, they have (unelected) representatives: notably the "collective of free gilet jaunes". This informal, disorganised movement, initiated through social networks, began to be set up after December 1. The self-proclaimed representatives of this so-called apolitical movement proposed registering for the European elections. Here then is the petty-bourgeoisie in hi-viz yellow jackets dreaming of being able to play in the corridors of power with the big boys.
Even before the threat to "public order", Emmanuel Macron himself put forward the idea of organising "educational" conferences around the question of the "ecological transition" which resulted in the price rises. The citizens involved could thus bring their ideas into a vast democratic debate which was supposed to move the Republic forward after a period of "blockage" of executive power. This so-called apolitical citizen's movement was packed with trade unions, members of political organisations and all sorts of not very clear individuals. Anyone can put on a yellow jacket, including the casseurs. The majority of citizens in yellow jackets make up the electoral clientele of Jean-Luc Melenchon and Marine Le Pen. And this is without counting the Trotskyists, notably the NPA (the New Anti-capitalist Party) of Olivier Besancenot and the Trotskyist Lutte ouvriere. The Trotskyists particularly always come out with the same story: "Take the money from the rich!" The proletariat isn't a class of pickpockets! The money which is found in "the pockets of the rich" is the result of the exploitation of the labour of the "poor", that's to say, the proletariat. It's not a question of emptying "the pockets of the rich", but to struggle today in order to limit this real theft of capitalist exploitation and, in doing so, gather up the forces necessary in order to abolish the exploitation of man by man.
At the time of the climate change march December 8 in Paris, numerous "gilets jaunes" met up with a procession of "gilets verts" (green vests) who had an understanding that the "end of the month and the end of the world", "all this is tied together". Some "gilet jaunes" decided to set their jackets on fire along with their election ID cards. It is true that the "end of the month" difficulties and the end of the world are linked as these are the two faces of the same reality: that of a system which is based on the profit of a small minority and nowhere on the needs of humanity.
After "Black Saturday", a national police union raised the question of an "unlimited" strike of cops who also wanted to put on the yellow uniform! They don't have much difficulty "making ends meet" but are fed up with hellish working hours, burn-out due to stress and the fear of taking a petanque ball in the head. So the government had to unblock funds in order to offer a bonus to the CRS and other professionals involved in the maintenance of order. The government thus created more jobs in this totally unproductive sector, further increasing financial deficits, in order to keep order in a decomposing society where social fractures can only accentuate with the deterioration of living conditions and the strengthening of repression. Everyone knows that the French cops are not without fault and will hit first and ask questions afterwards!
What are the perspectives for the proletariat?
What concerns the government and the entire bourgeois class is the fact that, despite the violence of the casseurs in yellow vests during "Black Saturday", the popularity of the movement has not weakened: after December 1, opinion polls said that 72% of the French population continued to support the "gilet jaunes" (even if 80% condemned the violence and 34% understood it). The "gilet jaunes" even became world stars: Belgium, Germany, Britain, Holland, Bulgaria and even Iraq, where in Basra they wore the yellow vest! The Egyptian government even decided to restrict the sale of hi-viz jackets for fear of "contamination" and to buy one you had to have police authorisation!
Such popularity is essentially explained by the fact that all the working class, which constitutes the majority of the "people", shares the anger, indignation and economic demands of the "gilet jaunes" against the cost of living and social and economic injustice. After doing a stint with ex-President Hollande, our President of the Republic has put forward, with his wooden language, a totally incomprehensible theory for the "people": the theory of "trickle-down economics". According to this theory, the more money the "rich" has, the more it can "trickle-down" towards the "poor". It's the argument of rich old dames who make the miserable better through their generosity by giving away some of their fortune. What this doesn't say is that the wealth of the moneyed classes doesn't grow on trees - it comes from the exploitation of the proletariat.
This Macronist theory is concretised by the abolition of the ISF, an annual wealth tax on assets over a million pounds: this fiscal gift will, the theory goes, allow the "rich" (in fact most of the bourgeoisie) to use the money given back to them for investment which, at the end of the day, supposedly, creates jobs, reabsorbs the unemployed and, in this way, profits the working class. And so, the theory goes, it would be in the interests of the proletariat that the ISF law is revoked! Despite their "illiteracy" and "resistance", the "poor" in their yellow vests have understood perfectly that Macronism is trying to "con" them (as one pensioner in a yellow jacket said on a TV interview).
And during the time that it takes for the abolition of the ISF to "benefit" the working class, it's still necessary to ask it to tighten its belt while the capitalist class continues to live in luxury. It's not at all surprising to read on a cardboard sign during the December 8 demonstration: "We also want to be paid the ISF! Give us the money!"
Despite the general anger of all the "people", of "working France", the workers in their great majority don't want to join up with the "gilets jaunes" even if they have sympathy for their demonstrations. They don't recognise themselves in the methods of struggle of a movement supported by Marine Le Pen and by all the right. They don't recognise themselves in the blind violence of black blocks, death threats, the pogromist mentality, verbal xenophobic and homophobic assaults by some "gilet jaunes".
The popularity of this movement, including after the violence of "Black Saturday", is indicative of the immense anger which is grinding away in the entrails of society. But for the moment, the great majority of proletarians (industrial and transport workers, distribution and health, teaching, civil servants in their lower-grade numbers, social services...) are still paralysed by the difficulties in re-establishing their class identity, that's to say a consciousness that they belong to the same class that submits to the same exploitation. The great majority of these workers have taken part in sterile "days of action", pointless, divisive promenades called by the unions, and union go-slows, on-off strikes, etc., as those of the rail-workers last spring. As long as the proletariat doesn't take up its road to struggle and affirm its independence as an autonomous class with a developing consciousness society can only continue to sink into chaos. It can only continue to rot in the bestial unleashing of violence.
The inter-classist movement of the "gilet jaunes" has thrown light on the danger which threatens the working class in France as well as in other countries: the growth of the populism of the extreme-right. The "gilet jaune" movement can only favour a new electoral push, notably at the next European elections, of the party of Marine Le Pen, the main and first supporter of the "gilets jaunes" movement. This advocate pleads the case for a "hexagonal protectionism": the frontiers must be closed to foreign goods and above all to foreigners with a darker skin who are fleeing the absolute misery and barbarity of war in their country of origin. Le Pen's party has already announced that to increase the buying power of the French the government must make "economies" on immigration. The party of the Rassemblement national tries to find another argument for sending immigrants back: our "people" who can't make ends meet "can't take in all the misery in the world" (as Prime Minister Michel Rocard said in December 1989 during a TV discussion).
The xenophobic verbal abuse, grassing up to the police clandestine migrants who were hidden in the back of a truck ("we pay our taxes for these fuckers", one "gilet jaune" said), the demands of some "gilets jaunes" to take the clandestine immigrants back across "our" borders, should not be minimised! The empathy felt for this movement throughout the world should not blind the proletariat and its most lucid elements.
In order to re-establish its class identity and the road to its own revolutionary perspective, the proletariat in France as everywhere else must not be trampled underfoot by the crowd, or draped in the tricolore, but stick to the old slogan of the workers' movement: "The proletariat has no country. Workers of the world unite!"
In this atmosphere of violence and nationalist hysteria which has polluted the social climate in France, a small gleam of light nevertheless appeared after "Black Saturday". This positive spark came from working class students obliged to take on part-time jobs triggering their claims, put forward in their mobilisations and assemblies, for the withdrawal of registration costs for their comrades who didn't belong to the European Union. At the Tolbiac school in Paris a placard read: "Solidarity with foreigners!" This slogan went against the nationalist wave of the "gilets jaunes" and showed the proletariat the way to the future.
It's thanks to their "box of ideas" that the student fighting against the Contrat premiere embauche (CPE - First Employment Contract giving the bosses power to fire at will and reducing the rights of these first-time workers) of the government of Dominique de Villepin, were able in 2006, to once again spontaneously take up the methods of the proletariat. They organised themselves in order not to be attacked by the casseurs from the suburbs. They refused to get caught up in the violence which only strengthens the force of state terror.
Faced with the danger of social chaos at the heart of Europe, today more than ever, the future of the class struggle belongs to the young generations of the proletariat. It's to these new generations that the flame of the historic struggle of the exploited class returns, the class which produces all the riches of society; not only its material wealth, but also its cultural wealth. As Rosa Luxemburg said, the struggle of the proletariat isn't only a "bread and butter" question in order to fill stomachs.
The proletarians of France are no longer "sans culottes". They must continue to give the example to workers of other countries as their forebears did in the June Days of 1848, the Paris Commune of 1871 and May 1968. It's the only way to regain their dignity, continue to walk upright and look ahead, and not on all-fours like the wild beasts who want to impose the law of the jungle on us.
Faced with the danger of the "sacred union" of all the exploiters and casseurs:
Workers of the world unite!
Marianne, December 10 2018
 In which there is a chapter entitled: "Bourgeois and Proletarians".
 General social contributions, a tax like National Insurance in the UK.
 Jean-Luc Melenchon is a leftist politician, ex-long time MEP and the presidential candidate for the left in 2017. In 2016 he launched the leftist movement "France unbowed" (La France insoumise), which tells you quite a lot about him.
 Found in the opening chapter entitled: "Bourgeois and Proletarians".