The “Yellow Vest” movement (Part 1/3)

Written by a French friend of ours, who is on the ground there, and has been for many months.
The “Yellow Vest” movement and its class content.

​Since November 17th 2018, the “yellow vest” movement has shaken France. It had its roots first in an anti-tax mobilisation, with growing oil prices making life harder for workers as well as for employers. At first many supported the movement: mainstream medias and politicians said it was a fair cause, with people from various classes coming together and representing “deep France”, or the “silent majority”, the people isolated in remote areas that conservatives pretend to represent.

But the movement took militant forms since its first week, with “free highways” operations, factory and road blockades, and roundabouts occupied. So as fast as they tried to use the people’s anger to advance their agenda, bosses started withdrawing their support, with their own unions asking to stop the movement. Media backlash was also very strong, from a sympathetic outlook to full blown opposition with accusations as such as being a fascist movement or a dangerous uprising. The truth is, the longer the movement lasted, the more proletarian it became. We saw its class composition change with time. A lot of working people from remote areas started to meet at roundabouts, share political ideas, voice out their difficulties about daily life and their anger about how society is organised – with all the territory and job distribution made for cars and on the other hand, a government asking people to accept growing prices. The working people broke with their isolation and felt their collective strength, hence the movement didn’t stop with Christmas holidays as many expected.

It truly represents a real concern shared by a vast majority of the working class. With time and because of the repression, the movement focused more and more on weekly protests every Saturday in city centres, which turned into a joyful riot, habitually targeting banks, police, big corporations and other institutions. At this point, even with all the bullshit said by medias and politicians, even with a repression never seen before (dozens of people losing eyes, hands or foot, hundreds of protesters sent to jail, thousands of “yellow vests” detained), polls showed that a majority of the people still supported the movement.

That’s another turning point: with the class content that most working people can understand and share, this mobilisation lasts and shows the way. Not a peaceful one, but a violent uprising against a system crushing lives. One of the slogans shouted by protesters every Saturday is “for the honour of working people, and for a better world, we’re here, we’re here, even if Macron doesn’t want it we’re still here”. We see more and more red flags and less chauvinist bullshit. We see proles from various background and places coming together, fighting side by side with revolutionaries, and enjoying it. We see so much initiatives we cant list them all – street medics, occupation of lands to produce food, medias, debates, protest trainings… The movement will triumph or dwindle, but it will be a turning point for class struggle in the French state.

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