Yellow vests against Macron

The events of the past weekend in France gave rise to talk not only about the “new 1968”, but even about the “new 1789”, about the “revolution” that is about to sweep away the “old order”. The streets - not only urban, but also federal roads - are being blocked by protesters in yellow reflective vests, anti-government demonstrations are gathering hundreds of thousands of people, barricades are being built on the Champs Elysées ...

At the same time, the political leadership of the Fifth Republic - above all, of course, the president Emmanuel Macron - demonstrates enviable composure and amazing steadiness. Looking at him, one might even think that protests of such magnitude shake France regularly, at the end of each month or at least a quarter - which, of course, is not true. But are the positions of Macron really stable? And what do the demonstrators in yellow vests actually want to achieve?

Trapped in diesel

Since the electric car "Tesla" efforts Ilona Mask became the most mentioned car brand in the world, we had already forgotten that before take-off of hybrids and electric cars, diesel engines were considered popular and even fashionable in the West. This trend became noticeable back in the 90 of the last century, and reached a peak in 2011. Then almost 58% of all new cars in the European Union were diesel. Norwegian example is indicative - if in 2000 there were less than 10% diesel cars, then in 2007 it was already 74,7%.

People bought cars with diesel for many reasons. Concern for the environment was not in last place - until the "diesel glue" 2015 g [1]., Diesel engines were considered much less harmful to the environment than gasoline. But the main thing - the price of diesel fuel was lower. For example, in 2002 in France, a liter of diesel fuel was worth 80 cents [2], and a liter of 98-shl gasoline — 105 cents. The difference in 25 cents per liter, multiplied by the volume of the tank, for the year gave significant savings - from 500 to 1000 euros. In general, buying a diesel was both fashionable and profitable.

Everything changed with the arrival in the White House Barack Obama.

At the suggestion of the new leader of the West, the world started talking about “green energy”, wind and piezo-generators. And diesel engines began to rapidly lose their position in the market - but this made little difference in the lives of those millions of Europeans who have already acquired cars that were fueled by cheap (relatively, of course) fuel.

And not just purchased, but built a whole life model based on the ability to often travel on low-cost personal transport.

In the same France, starting from 80 of the last century, many representatives of the middle class began to actively migrate from the cities not to the old suburbs, which migrants from North Africa and the Middle East began to “colonize”, and then - outside the city. There were built large - with the expectation of growing families - houses that formed the whole cottage villages. In French, they are called "lotissements". Twenty, thirty, forty kilometers from the city is not such a big problem if there is an extensive network of well-paved roads and a couple of cars in the garage. You can get to work in half an hour, you can take children to school or kindergarten, you can go shopping at a large supermarket. Much earlier, a similar process turned America into a “country of cottages” —but in the USA, before the 1973 oil crisis, gasoline was very cheap. However, in France, despite the fact that the price of fuel here has always been higher, "suburbanization" has become quite widespread. Last but not least, thanks to cars with diesel engines, which could be significantly more economical than gasoline.

And then Emmanuel Macron became president of France, and the tale was over.

Despite the fact that Macron’s rating is steadily falling, it has already achieved impressive 24% (for its predecessor Hollande, Monsieur Flanbie [3], at the end of 2016, it was 4% at all, but it was the last year of his presidency), those who helped him become the head of the Fifth Republic can be satisfied. The economic program, outlined in his book "The Revolution" (2016), Macron performs quite diligently. According to the French political scientist Jean rober ravio, “There is no talk about any revolution in this book - it's just rewritten in other words by the recommendations of the European Commission, similar to those that Brussels publishes every year.” No wonder: after all, Macron’s economic program was developed Jean Pisani Ferry, a former adviser on the economy of the European Commission, subsequently - director of Bruegel, the famous “thought factory” (thin-tank), which develops strategies for the “Brussels wise men”.

This program, among other recommendations, included an increase in taxes on producers and sellers of fuel.

Of course, fuel began to rise in price in France even before Macron stepped over the threshold of the Elysee Palace. But just in one and a half years of his presidency, diesel prices rose sharply - by 23%, equaling the price of gasoline.

This dealt a heavy blow to the wallet of even those French who do without personal transport (as is known, the price of fuel plays the role of a multiplier in the overall pricing system), but especially on the budget of lotissements inhabitants. The residents of the big cities had more choice options - you can use public transport, or transfer to economical scooters. But residents of cottage villages were trapped - public transport for them was inconvenient due to long distances and also due to frequent strikes (in France, it is transport workers who often strike on the strike). And the cars in the garages of their cozy country houses turned into gold in front of their eyes: if a year ago it was possible to fill the tank of a brisk compact car for 60 euros, now I had to lay out almost 90.

The premonition of civil war

In May, 2018 was a female motorist Priscilla Ludoski from the Department of Seine and Marne published on her Facebook page a petition against the increase in fuel prices. The petition hung on social networks until the fall, but was not particularly popular. However, 12 of October was published by the very popular Paris newspaper Le Parisien (“The Parisian”) - and here, as the classic wrote, everything started to turn out.

Within two weeks after the publication, the petition collected more than 228 thousands of signatures (now over a million). At the same time, groups of like-minded people appeared on social networks, calling for resistance to the government's policy of raising taxes - and fuel prices.

Curious role played in the leaven of protest newspaper Le Parisien. A year and a half ago, the president of Macron actually made the media - with the exception of some Internet sites and propaganda publications of rival parties, such as the National Front, in France there was not a single media platform that would oppose Emmanuel Le Desire. And now the publication, which is considered the mouthpiece of the middle class, has actually pushed a stone onto the head of the president, which has created an avalanche.

In late October - early November, the protest movement expanded, covering more and more new groups of the population. In the network appeared and immediately became the leaders views videos, in which motorists, inhabitants of lotissements, farmers turned to Macron, criticizing him for ill-conceived policies and offering his own experience to make sure what dire consequences the increase in prices for gasoline and diesel fuel results.

Macron, however, did not react in any way - and then the first calls for civil disobedience appeared on the Internet.

Social networks were torn from hundreds of angry posts by the French, for whom the increase in diesel fuel prices was a real blow.

"I was not used to protest, this is the first time I adjoin the protest movement," said one of the initiators of the movement in Limoges, 32-year-old Serge Boni. - But the prices at the gas stations concern me personally. We have three cars at home, in my work I drive through 2000 km. in a week, and this (increase in fuel prices) becomes unbearable! ”

“I don’t consider it normal that life is becoming more expensive, so I decided to create this group (one of the“ yellow vests ”groups on Facebook, - KB),” Xinmx-year-old Karin from Monbrison (Loire) explains to journalists. In her family, fuel is the largest expense. "I have three children, two of them with disabilities, they have to go to a specialized school, but the only school of this type in our region is located in 43 kilometers from our home."

There were a lot of such stories. The Grapes of Wrath, as Steinbeck called them, ripened all over France - from Brittany to the Cote d'Azur. Finally, a truck driver from the Ильle-de-France region proposed blocking the Paris bypass and suggested the date on which this is best done - on Saturday, November 17.

Real protests began even earlier - on November 9, during celebrations marking the centenary of the end of World War I, several protesters attempted to break through to President Macron in Albert, but were stopped by the security service. The activists were wearing yellow reflective vests, which, according to the rules in force in the EU, every driver who walks on the road in the dark should wear them. Since then, the resistance movement has been called "yellow vests" (Mouvement des gilets jaunes).

November 10 "yellow vests" tried to block a roundabout in one of the cities of Normandy. On November 14, the mayor of the commune Morbek posted on the wall of the town hall a huge poster in support of the "vests."

And November 17 - the day proposed by the driver from Ильle-de-France - took to the streets hundreds of thousands of people.

At 7.30 in the morning in Paris, "yellow vests" blocked the ring road. At the same time, mass protests began in other cities and communes, including in the Over-Rhône-Alpes region and in the Pas-de-Calais department. In total, there were a little less than 300 thousand people on the streets and highways. Unfortunately, there were no casualties: in the commune of Le Pont de Beauvois, the protesters surrounded the car, which was driven by a woman who was taking her child to the doctor, and started knocking on the hood. The woman was frightened, pressed the gas - and hit a 63-year-old pensioner. The total number of victims exceeded 400 people - however, most of them got off with minor injuries and injuries that are not dangerous for life.

Detention began in the afternoon. In total, 117 protesters were arrested on Saturday, but this did not dampen the fighting spirit of the protesters. The next day, on Sunday, hundreds of protesters "occupied" paid parking in front of Disneyland Paris and without prior arrangement made it free - much to the delight of Parisians who decided to spend this weekend with their children in an amusement park.

In other regions of the country, protesters blocked payment points on toll roads and thousands of cars were given the opportunity to rush along high-speed routes completely free of charge, that is, for nothing. But not everyone was lucky: in many places, "yellow vests", on the contrary, blocked access roads to gas stations /

The next day, the protests began to decline - according to the French Interior Ministry, 19 November was attended by just 27000 people - but you have to bear in mind that it was already Monday, a working day. And besides, by that moment it had already become known that the “yellow vests” had actually captured one of the “overseas territories” of France - the island of Reunion.

The protests on Reunion began simultaneously with the events in the metropolis, but because of the isolation of this island, located seven hundred kilometers southeast of Madagascar, they led to much more serious consequences.

"Starting from November 17, the" yellow vests "completely paralyzed Reunion," writes Le Figaro. “Overburdened shopping centers, empty store shelves, closed gas stations, and about 3 thousands of containers that no one is going to unload” - These are the consequences of the protests, in which, besides the “yellow vests”, “yellow raincoats” also took part - fishermen from small individual or cooperative farms. For them, depending on their motorboats, the increase in fuel prices has also become a matter of life and death.

The Minister of Overseas Territories of France immediately left for the island. Annik Girardin. The situation in Reunion, apparently, was so alarming that the Minister announced an immediate reduction in fuel prices (of course, only on an island scale). But, as Le Figaro writes, it is not clear whether the protesters will calm them down - as it turned out, they are not only dissatisfied with the increase in diesel prices, but also with the tax increase and the deterioration of living standards in general.

According to the deputy from the Republican Party, representing the 6 th district of Réunion in the National Assembly of France Nadia Ramassay, “Life on the island has fully risen, the whole economy is paralyzed.” According to the deputy, the "yellow vests" blocked the entrances to the shopping centers and require the sellers to close their points, or, in some cases, "out of solidarity" supply the protesters with food (of course, for free).

Since Reunion imports most of the products it sells, and the port is blocked by “yellow vests” and “yellow cloaks”, the island is actually on the verge of economic disaster. Even the "essentials like rice and meat" disappeared from the store shelves. There is also no supply of fuel, which was previously brought to Reunion by tankers - and the islanders simply have nothing to fill their cars with: no matter at high or low prices.

The events in Reunion for the first time forced Macron to respond to the threat of protest from the "yellow vests." 21 November, the president ordered the mobilization of the army. “What happens on Saturday (November 17, KB) on Reunion is very serious. We took measures and we will continue to take them: tomorrow our army will be mobilized to restore public order (on the island, KB). We will be uncompromising because what we have seen is unacceptable, ”wrote Macron on his Twitter feed.

By this time, according to the reports of the French Ministry of the Interior, criminal elements also joined the protests on Reunion: “gangs of young people who have nothing to do with the yellow vests have used the social movement for robbery and violence. A total of five days of protests on the island, in which more than 1000 demonstrators participated, 109 arrests were made, 30 law enforcement officers were injured (16 police officers and 14 gendarmes). The demonstrators threw stones at the police and Molotov cocktails. A reinforcement in the form of a gendarmerie special forces brigade was sent from Paris, and a curfew was imposed on the island. The international airport (the only one on the island) Rolland Garros was closed. Head of Administration of Reunion Didier Robert addressed Emmanuel Macron with a request to take “all necessary measures” to protect people and property on the island, calling the events “a partisan urban war”.

At that time, barricades were erected on the Champs Elysées in Paris.

Straw and camel

21 November in France more than 650 protesters were detained. On November 23, an incident occurred that allowed pro-government media to blame "yellow vests" for complicity with terrorism: one of the movement participants in the city of Angers declared that he had explosives, and he would use it if "yellow vests" were not allowed into Elysee Palace. However, when the provocateur was detained, it turned out that he had no bomb.

The Macron government still refused to engage in dialogue with the protesters. In Paris, the first major clashes with the police took place: law enforcement officers tried to prevent the "yellow vests" on the Champs Elysees, but were forced to retreat under the pressure of a crowd of many thousands. Water cannons and tear gas grenades went into action, real battles broke out on the barricades.

By this time, it finally became clear that it was not only the price of diesel. The increase in fuel prices has to a greater degree affected the regions - since the inhabitants of lotissements have become the main victims of it. In Paris, barricades were fought by those who, in principle, were not satisfied with the policy pursued by Macron and his government.

“We are here to protest against the government because of the increase in taxes [in general], and not just taxes on gasoline - this is just a straw that broke the camel’s back. Enough is enough. We have low wages and too much tax, and this combination gives rise to greater and greater poverty. ”, - leads The Guardian the words of one of the "yellow vests", unemployed computer equipment from Paris Idira ghana. “On the other hand, there are ministers and the president with their incredible salaries. I am not against the rich, I just want a more equitable distribution of wealth in France. I take part in protests for the first time in my life. I am unemployed, it is getting harder and harder to find a job (in France - KB), and even when you finally find it and think that now your life will improve, it turns out that the salaries are so low that you find yourself in the same situation as before, and perhaps even the worst. ”

It is important to note that, like many members of the “yellow vests” movement, Idir Gan was not a rebel before, did not take part in protest demonstrations, strikes and demonstrations. "Yellow vests" are a fundamentally new phenomenon in the public life of France. The trade unions do not stand behind them, political parties do not coordinate their activity. Although the Minister of Internal Affairs, Castaner, tried to accuse the “far-right” protests (i.e., the hated National Front) of inciting Jean-Luc Melancheon then they proudly stated that their supporters on the streets were two times more.

The social composition of the vests is extremely heterogeneous: there are unemployed, students, university professors, and small business owners among hundreds of thousands of protesters against tax increases ... They say (in a whisper) that even the police took part in the actions of the protesters who were not in service at the time and who were trying not to fall into the lenses of television cameras.

There was nothing like this in France for a long time. Even when the defenders of traditional values ​​went out on the boulevards and embankments of Paris with protests against the law allowing same-sex marriages - then the number of demonstrators reached, according to some, half a million people - there was no such bitterness or willingness to fight with the guardians of the order before victory. It is possible that the last time a similar one actually occurred in 1968.

The analogies with 1968, in turn, generate conspiracy theories: is not what is happening now in France a kind of “orange”, but if we take into account the color specificity, the “yellow” revolution, nourished from abroad? And will this not lead to the same consequences as the student protests of the “glorious May” had - the referendum and de Gaulle's resignation?

It seems that both questions should be answered - at least for now - in the negative.

Although the movement of "yellow vests" and the "Orange Revolution" really have similar features - the lack of a single focal point, the network structure, the predominant use of social networks and public opinion, etc. - “vests” do not have support either from opposition political forces inside the country (as was, say, in Georgia, Serbia or Ukraine), or from outside forces - such as during the “Arab spring” of 2011-2012 . or the same “revolution of hidnosti” in Kiev in 2013 / 2014, when the United States, without hiding, interfered in the affairs of the North African and Middle Eastern countries and Ukraine.

“Yellow vests” currently represent only themselves: they do not have powerful foreign patrons and sponsors, since Macron is still the most acceptable politician for the western partners of France, and there are no allies among the French opposition. At the moment, the movement is led by eight informal leaders, none of whom represent any of the political parties.

This is literally “natives”, activists to whom the “vests” have delegated the right to speak on their own behalf, since they considered them trustworthy. It is impossible to predict how the situation will turn out in the following days, but today “yellow vests” are the purest example of a real populist protest movement, in which, like in a mirror, all the generic features of that “populist moment” that last year reflected wrote a belgian political philosopher Chantal Mouffe.

The “populist moment”, by definition, Mouffe, is a reaction to the post-politics and post-democracy situation and the domination of neoliberal hegemonic structures. In terms of the Marxist and post-Marxist theory, this means a situation where the masses begin to resist the dictatorship of the elites. In terms of traditional liberal science, this sounds a bit more gentle: as he wrote Farid Zakaria in the program article “Populism on the march”, “for different groups it (populism, - K.B.) has a different meaning, but in all versions implies suspicion and hostility towards elites, mainstream politics and existing institutions. Populism is perceived as the voice of forgotten "simple" citizens and a reflection of true patriotism. "

It was this “new populism”, which clearly manifested itself in the West as early as 2016 as a mass popular resistance (conscious or reflex - not important) to the liberal globalist project during the Brexit referendum in the United States and the US presidential elections and that environment which spawned the "yellow vests" movement.

Macron's victory in the election of 2017, when he won the second round of the “main anti-globalization activist of France” easily and with a large margin. Marine Le Pen, became simultaneously a revenge of the liberal globalists who gathered all their forces and reserves after the defeats of 2016, and evidence of the weakness of the National Front, which, as a result of “de-demonization” [4], became a more traditional and practically mainstream party, lost part populist agenda successfully intercepted by left-wing populists Jean-Luc Melanshon. There was, in fact, a dramatic event: Marine Le Pen, positioning herself as the candidate of the entire French people, went to battle with the candidate of the liberal-globalist elite - from the very "mondialism" that the NF declared to be the main enemy of the nation - and ingloriously lost this fight .

After the defeat at the presidential elections - and especially at the parliamentary elections of 2017 - the NF, as the main opposition to liberal globalism, the political force of France - found itself in the unenviable situation of a wounded wolf licking its wounds. Therefore, he could not - and, apparently, did not even try - to saddle the “populist moment” of November 2018, from which, in particular, it follows that all the attempts of the French bureaucracy to accuse the organization of the protest of the terrible “far right” are no more than the traditional mantra "all who are against the government are fascists."

But the activity of the left, especially Jean-Luc Melenchon, who heads the “Unconquered France” movement, may well give the “yellow vests” movement an organizational and political component that is missing now. If this happens, then - but not before! - it will be possible to talk about the escalation of spontaneous public protest into a new “color revolution”.

To say that the protest wave, rising in France, is capable of sweeping "Emmanuel Le Desire"as the revolution of 1789, it demolished the “old regime”, and it is completely premature. The calm with which Macron responds to the manifestations of the "yellow vests" shows his complete confidence that the state’s power reserves will be enough to suppress any protests. The source of this confidence can only be the "letter of guarantee" received from the shadow figures, which in 2016-2017. and cheated like a frog through a straw project "Macron" to prevent the moderates from coming to power (Francois Fillon) nor the radical (Marine Le Pen) euro skeptics who are able to resist the will of Brussels on a number of issues that are most important for European bureaucrats.

One such issue is undoubtedly the problem of the erosion of the middle class — a gradual, albeit slow, deterioration of the living conditions of this traditional pillar of Western democracy, fraught with the transition of the lower strata of the middle class to the category of “working poor”. This process has been observed in France not for the first year, and even received a special name - déclassement, but it was under Macron that it acquired a truly rampant scale.

As well as the aggressive policy of replacing the indigenous population of the EU countries with migrants from the poorest disadvantaged Muslim countries of the Third World, the hidden “war” with the middle class is not part of the declared but clearly thought-out strategy of the liberal globalists. One - but, of course, not the only one - the goal of this strategy is the destruction of the national identity of the old European states, which will make it possible for their citizens to become “global nomads” of the new world. The concept of “global nomads” - people who are not attached to their homeland or family, move freely around the world, earn money where it is especially profitable - belongs to one of the fathers of the ideology of mondialism and an ardent supporter of the idea of ​​the withering away of national states Jaca attali, the patron and teacher of Emmanuel Macron.

However, its implementation is hindered by the “annoying” commitment of the European middle class to its roots: in contrast to the tasteful delights of the global nomadic life of the “progressive” youth of Paris and large cities, a considerable part of the middle class - especially in the regions, and not in the capital and large cities, preserves the traditional way of life. An important feature of this structure is its own house outside the city (often inherited from previous generations). As the Brexit referendum in June 2016 showed, in the UK these “backward traditionalists”, village homeowners, proved to be stronger than the advanced enthusiasts of liberal globalization from London and other large cities.


[1] In September, 2015 revealed that more than 11 million Volkswagen diesel cars produced by the company were equipped with “tweaked” software that reduced the amount of harmful gases emitted to the atmosphere dozens of times.

[2] Data is taken from US sources, so we are talking about American cents.

[3] Flanby - French dessert, cream-caramel, gel-like consistency

[4] De-demonization (dediabolisation) is the process of “cleansing” the National Front from elements of racism, xenophobia and homophobia, which began in the early 2000x and intensified especially after the transfer of power from Jean-Marie Le Pen to his daughter Marin (for details, see Cyril Benedict, “The Return of Joan of Arc: The Political Biography of Marine Le Pen”, M. The Book World, 2015)



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