The American press has had a herky-jerk relationship with the Yellow Vests. The media avoided much mention of the protests when they first occurred, presumably banking on them fading away quickly. Then, when it became apparent that coverage could no longer be fairly avoided, stories began to appear.
The stories were not hugely helpful. They focused on Paris, where the protests have been more violent, rather than the hinterlands, the original source of the bottom-up energies. They don’t let you know that a good deal of the urban violence springs from Antifa, which can be distinguished for the most part from the Yellow Vest movement. And the narrative has assumed the energies will dissipate, as they did with the Occupy movement a few years back, and all will return to normal. And so the coverage has quietly and subtly receded, though the événements continue.
The herky-jerk of press coverage finds a parallel in the way Macron and the authorities have dealt with the matter:
–Ignore, thinking it will go away.
–When it does not go away, speak respectfully and make a few concessions, thinking it will go away.
–When it still does not go away, resort to repression.
We will see if that works. Repression would not have such a long history as a political tactic if it were not often successful. But situations are complex and we live life going forward under uncertainty. It is wise to follow The Law of the Situation rather than impose a certain policy based on ideology. But The Situation can be hard to discern.
So we will have to see. But in the meantime there appears to be a lot more going on than our Betters would like us to see.
Here is an interesting piece by Diana Johnstone that has the ring of truth.
For decades, parties of the left and of the right, whatever their campaign speeches, once in office pursue policies dictated by “the markets”. For this reason, people have lost confidence in all parties and all politicians and are demanding new ways to get their wishes heard.
Her advice on the media.
Be skeptical. At least in France, mainstream media are solidly on the side of “order”, meaning Macron, and foreign media tend to echo what national media write and say. Also, as a general rule, when it comes to France, the Anglophone media often get it wrong.
The absence of leaders is inherent in the movement. All politicians, even friendly ones, are mistrusted and no one is looking for a new leader.
People are organizing their own meetings to develop their lists of grievances and demands.
In the village of Commercy, Lorraine, a half hour drive from Domrémy where Jeanne d’Arc was born, inhabitants gather to read their proclamation. Six of them read in turns, a paragraph each, making it quite clear that they want no leaders, no special spokesperson. They sometimes stumble over a word, they are not used to speaking in public like the TV talking heads. Their “Second appeal of the Gilets Jaunes de Commercy invites others to come to Commercy on January 26-27 for an “assembly of assemblies”.
And the end?
It is not in sight. This may not be a revolution, but it is a revelation of the real nature of “the system”. Power lies with a technocracy in the service of “the Markets”, meaning the power of finance capital. This technocracy aspires to remake human society, our own societies and those all over the planet, in the interests of a certain capitalism. It uses economic sanctions, overwhelming propaganda and military force (NATO) in a “globalization” project that shapes people’s lives without their consent. Macron is the very embodiment of this system.
The article contains two short quotes of note and a charming pro-Yellow Vest video.
Quote 1: an old French saying being used to describe the authorities’ methods.
Qui veut noyer son chien l’accuse de la rage
. . . or, whoever would drown his dog first accuses it of rabies.
And quote 2 from the other side, defending the Establishment:
The current disparaging of experts and criticism of elitism is the worst calamity of our times.
And the video, well worth watching:
I will close with an excerpt from The Port Huron Statement, the 1962 founding document of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).
In a participatory democracy, the political life would be based in several root principles:
that decision-making of basic social consequence be carried on by public groupings;
that politics be seen positively, as the art of collectively creating an acceptable pattern of social relations;
that politics has the function of bringing people out of isolation and into community, thus being a necessary, though not sufficient, means of finding meaning in personal life;
that the political order should serve to clarify problems in a way instrumental to their solution; it should provide outlets for the expression of personal grievance and aspiration; opposing views should be organized so as to illuminate choices and facilitate the attainment of goals; channels should be commonly available to relate men to knowledge and to power so that private problems–from bad recreation facilities to personal alienation–are formulated as general issues.
The economic sphere would have as its basis the principles:
that work should involve incentives worthier than money or survival. It should be educative, not stultifying; creative, not mechanical; self-directed, not manipulated, encouraging independence, a respect for others, a sense of dignity, and a willingness to accept social responsibility, since it is this experience that has crucial influence on habits, perceptions and individual ethics;
that the economic experience is so personally decisive that the individual must share in its full determination;
that the economy itself is of such social importance that its major resources and means of production should be open to democratic participation and subject to democratic social regulation.
Vous ne pouvez pas marcher dans la même rivière deux fois?
Or plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose?