Written by a French friend of ours, who is on the ground there, and has been for many months.
Yellow Vests, fascism, and anti-fascism
The “yellow vests” movement carries demands so broad that all kind of political groups support it, from royalists to radical ecologists, including liberals. Since its inception every protest has been a disputed ground. During the first week, the far right was on the move, as its ideas were widely spread by the media and politicians. Refugees found by protesters were handed over to the police, nationalist symbols and songs were common and the right wing activists tried to be as present as they could in as many places as possible.
As the movement evolved with time, clashes with the police happened more and more often (especially after the huge December 1st riot in Paris), the class struggle appeared more clearly, and more and more progressive forces started joining the movement. Our side organized solidarity with wounded or prosecuted “yellow vests”, brought defensive material to protests and started general assemblies. Such initiatives helped to build strong links with proles protesting for the first time and the movement as a whole became more left leaning.
The right wing had to make a choice. Historically, fascists have two options: subversion, using insurgent tactics; or more often, siding with the upper class and defending the state of things. That’s this option that most reactionaries chose. However some hardcore nationalists tried to turn the “yellow vests” into some kind of fascist uprising. Those groups were presented in some cities which are hotbeds of right wing politics in France, such as Lyon. In Paris, Lyon and some other places, clashes between fascists and antifascists started erupting every Saturday.
Antifascists organized patrols and blocs with union members and progressive “yellow vests” to defend themselves and confront the right. They were eventually successful in wining street battle during huge clashes in those cities. The fascists were also isolated as more and more “yellow vests” started supporting “black blocs” and antifascists as a whole, as they saw them as frontline fighters defending protests against police brutality and organising the resistance. The situation is however still disputed but the antifascists achieved significant victory over the last months, leading to a more positive situation.
NB: 0161festival.com is a platform for sharing a variety of articles about sports, arts, politics, history and Manchester.