Sunday, 9 December 2018

Gilets Jaunes and May 1968. Will History repeat itself?

As usual Another Angry Voice raise some interesting points.

The vast majority of the 280,000+ gilets jaunes protesters have been peaceful and non-violent, but as is always the way the vast majority of the mainstream media coverage has focused on the violent minority.

This isn't an effort to downplay or excuse any of the unacceptable violence and vandalism, it's just an effort to redress the balance a bit by pointing out that the violence and chaos in Paris is unrepresentative of the enormous movement that is going on across the whole of France.
AAV went on in another Blog post .....

Just a year and a half after winning an unprecedented landslide victory the French President Macron and his En Marche! "centrist" party have triggered a huge crisis with their policies of punishing workers and the poor, and pushing hard-right neoliberalism.

One of their first moves on assuming power was to lavish a huge tax cut on the wealthiest 1%, and ever since it's been one regressive and unpopular policy after another: Attacks on pensioners' incomes, anti-worker legislation, a move to flog off the French rail network to Macron's speculator mates, extremely unpopular education reforms, and the final straw was a series of fuel tax hikes designed to load the economic cost of combating climate change onto ordinary people, especially those who live in remote rural areas and rely on their cars for survival.
The result has been the rise of organic and leaderless gilets jaunes (yellow vests) mass demonstration all across France.
The mainstream media have obviously focused on examples of violence and vandalism in Paris in order to discredit the movement as much as possible, but the reality is that the vast majority of gilets jaunes protests are peaceful marches and roadblocks outside of Paris, which the overwhelming majority of French people support.
Within 18 months of Macron coming to power and imposing neoliberal policies and enforcing an unjustifiable upwards redistribution of wealth, the French public have had enough and they're fighting back.

 For those of us who are older it brings back  memories of the volatile period of civil unrest in France during May 1968  was punctuated by demonstrations and massive general strikes as well as the occupation of universities and factories across France. At the height of its fervour, it brought the entire economy of France to a virtual halt. The protests reached such a point that political leaders feared civil war or revolution; the national government itself momentarily ceased to function after President Charles de Gaulle secretly fled France for a few hours. The protests spurred an artistic movement, with songs, imaginative graffiti, posters, and slogans.
The unrest began with a series of student occupation protests against capitalismconsumerismAmerican imperialism and traditional institutions, values and order. It then spread to factories with strikes involving 11 million workers, more than 22% of the total population of France at the time, for two continuous weeks.[1] The movement was characterised by its spontaneous and de-centralized wildcat disposition; this created contrast and sometimes even conflict between itself and the establishment, trade unions and workers' parties.[1] It was the largest general strike ever attempted in France, and the first nationwide wildcat general strike.[1]
The student occupations and wildcat general strikes initiated across France were met with forceful confrontation by university administrators and police. The de Gaulle administration's attempts to quell those strikes by police actiononly inflamed the situation further, leading to street battles with the police in the Latin Quarter, Paris, followed by the spread of general strikes and occupations throughout France. De Gaulle fled to a French military base in Germany, and after returning dissolved the National Assembly, and called for new parliamentary elections for 23 June 1968.
 Violence evaporated almost as quickly as it arose. Workers went back to their jobs, and when the elections were finally held in June, the Gaullist party emerged even stronger than before.

French Politics has always been problematic for outside observers, since the election

Although Monarchism no longer realise exist , there is still a Napolonist "Strong Leader" ethos running in both the Left and Right wings of the Republic and at times of crisis, there are often calls (largely on the right), for a strong leader to take the reins.

Ironically it was the global economic crisis hit in 2008, that led to the neo-liberal solution of austerity throughout the Western Worls that led to Far Right populism , which led to Trump and xenophobic parties making gtound throughout Europe including Brexit. In France and Macron   and his En Marche!  French  capsulized on this , by offering an alternative , to the Gaualists Parties and the tired socialists party and the fear of the Front National 

The danger of the Gilets Jaunes, is that just as in 1968 the "Ideas of May" , rather than see a social revolution France will turn to the right , and this time Marine Le Pen's Front National now called National Rally.

The right have been involved in the Gilets Jaunes, movement , but it will be the left who will be blamed.

It will be a tragedy if once again a idealist protest is ruined by violence , which is exploited by just the very people the protesters are aiming at.

1 comment:

Leigh Richards said...

Danny 'the reds' take on matters, mind you he isn't that red these days. But he has some interesting things to say on current events in France