Thursday , December 5 2019
Home / LewRockwell / Gilets Jaunes: The French Insurrection One Year On

Gilets Jaunes: The French Insurrection One Year On

Summary:
One year ago, 288,000 protesters took to the streets in over 2,000 locations across France. Dressed in their unmistakable hi-vis jackets, the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) blockaded highways and petrol stations, occupied roundabouts and toll booths, and marched through town centres. The protests were initially sparked by a hike in fuel tax but they quickly came to embody a wider resentment towards the status quo. This weekend will be the yellow vests’ acte 53 – the 53rd consecutive week of protest to mark the anniversary of the movement. Just a year-and-a-half after the election of President Macron, which was hailed by liberals across the West as a turning point against the populist wave of 2016, the yellow-vest movement staged

Topics:
No Author considers the following as important:

This could be interesting, too:

Tyler Durden writes Pound Climbs To 2-Year High As Traders Jump On Pre-Election Rally

Tyler Durden writes ‘This Is Exactly What Hillary Tried To Do’ – Critics Slam New Biden Ad For Claiming ‘World Is Laughing’ At Trump

Tyler Durden writes NATO Names China As New Enemy, Alongside Russia

Tyler Durden writes “Floodgates Are Open” – German Banks Start Charging Retail Savers

One year ago, 288,000 protesters took to the streets in over 2,000 locations across France. Dressed in their unmistakable hi-vis jackets, the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) blockaded highways and petrol stations, occupied roundabouts and toll booths, and marched through town centres. The protests were initially sparked by a hike in fuel tax but they quickly came to embody a wider resentment towards the status quo. This weekend will be the yellow vests’ acte 53 – the 53rd consecutive week of protest to mark the anniversary of the movement.

Just a year-and-a-half after the election of President Macron, which was hailed by liberals across the West as a turning point against the populist wave of 2016, the yellow-vest movement staged what would become the most significant revolt in France since les événements of May 1968. The French working classes, who had for so long been marginalised economically, politically and culturally, were finally making their voices heard.

A proposed hike in fuel tax was the spark that lit the fuse. Priscilla Ludovsky, an entrepreneur who sells cosmetics online, started a Change.org petition back in May calling for fuel prices to be lowered. Initially, it only had a small amount of traction. But it was picked up by local radio and in a local newspaper article, which went viral on Facebook. By October the petition had gained over 800,000 signatures. Truck drivers Eric Drouet and Bruno Lefevre created a Facebook event calling for people to block roads on 17 November. But this only gives a tiny glimpse of what was happening online – all kinds of viral videos, petitions and Facebook groups were springing up. Though some figures, like Drouet, emerged as unofficial spokespeople, suddenly finding themselves invited on to TV debates with politicians, the movement began without leaders and has remained leaderless to this day.

Peripheral France

The causes of the yellow-vest revolt go far deeper than the fuel tax. Nevertheless, the tax is a useful prism through which to understand the movement, and, in particular, the chasm between the elites who make decisions and the people on the receiving end of them.

On a purely technocratic basis, the fuel tax makes sense. The French government is committed to meeting its international obligations to reduce CO2 emissions. The fuel-price hike would be used to finance renewable-energy projects and would discourage the use of diesel and petrol cars.

But then the actual politics kick in. The fuel-tax hike was implemented at a time when the price of diesel had already risen by 23 per cent in a single year. While only 13 per cent of people in Paris drive cars, people who live outside the major cities rely heavily on their cars and they were being hammered by the policy. A carbon tax that disproportionately affected the working class was only ever going to add insult to injury. As one oft-repeated yellow-vest slogan goes: ‘The government talks about the end of the world. We are talking about the end of the month.’

Another source of irritation was the government’s decision to cut the speed limit on rural roads from 90km/h to 80km/h (around 50mph) in early January. Perhaps a minor issue in the grand scheme of things, but again, this was experienced by many people as a needless imposition from an aloof and indifferent elite. Many saw it as an excuse to make money out of speeding tickets. In response, the yellow vests managed to take nearly 60 per cent of the country’s speed cameras out of operation, usually by covering them in tape, painting them black, or smashing them up.

These measures came against a broader backdrop of widening regional inequality. More than 10 years ago, geographer Christophe Guilluy foresaw a backlash to these developments when he came up with the concept of ‘peripheral France’. This described the France of post-industrial towns, urban sprawl, villages and suburbs that have been left behind – or actively excluded – from the modern globalised economy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *