We published recently on our blog, as we had access to them and they reached us, some documents produced by and around the “yellow vest” movement that has been shaking France since several weeks. The following is a kind of introduction to all of them (an introduction that we usually publish before, indeed).
We will not come back to the history of the movement, to particular events or expressions. We can refer interested readers to different websites and blogs that assume this task very well.
What we would like to deal with here is the way how we approach this movement, how we analyze it, how we evaluate its importance in the framework of class struggle. And we don’t want to hide that various articles spitting on this movement produced and reproduced by too many groups of ultra-left were a (negative) inspiration for this contribution that we can intimately call: “What’s NOT to be done”.
However we are aware of many weaknesses expressed by the movement and we are the first to criticize them, we can hardly agree with the methodology used by those groups – methodology that limits the movement only to those weaknesses, that generalize those weak points and illusions expressed only by a part of “yellow vests” like if it was the nature of the movement, an analysis grasping the class as something static, sociologic, mechanic…
We will not go through all the arguments used by the ultra-left against the “yellow vests”, but we have at least to mention the most absurd ones in order to reply to them, to put this movement into its right place in the class struggle, to put it back on its legs and make it not walking anymore on its head…
Two conceptions of the class: proletariat as a sociological entity versus proletariat as a struggling force
Many of those who despise the “yellow vest” movement pretend that it is an interclass movement, a mixture of bourgeoisie and proletariat, a multitude of interests and programmes historically opposed. Such a point of view is based on a sociological definition of the working class – proletarian = worker, or better a factory worker if possible.
For us the proletariat is not a static group of individuals defined by their payroll, but rather an entity that structures itself in the struggle and through the struggle, a force that exists only as a potential in the times of social peace and that turns into a real force only while fighting united by its historical programme that it partially express in every clash with Capital.
We of course define the proletariat as the exploited class, but we do not let ourselves to be fooled with new forms of social statuses that capital invents to be more flexible, more profitable. All those little shop owners, freelancers and white collars that bother so much the ultra-left smarties share exactly the same living conditions (sometimes even worse), the same problems, the same misery as the “pure proletarians”.
It is in fact a very successful strategy of Capital and its democracy to dissimulate different categories of proletariat under the mask of different strata of society in order to prevent the class to recognize itself, to unite. And to present others, formally indeed wage workers, like if they would be proletarians, even if they objectively stay on the other side of the barricade.
The very development of democracy sees to it that the present importance of the simplification/exacerbation of the contradictions of capitalism is being concealed by the permanent obliteration of class frontiers. This is affirmed by specific ideological forms which develop total confusion in this respect, mainly those based on a complicated set of juridical and formal statutes that supposedly divide society – not into two antagonistic classes – but into an indeterminate number of more or less vague and elastic categories.
This is how, for instance, at one pole of society, a whole of juridical forms conferring pseudo-waged status tends to camouflage the bourgeois nature of entire structures of the state. This is the case, for instance, for army and police officers or for high level officials in administration or in industry, for bureaucrats of all kinds… who, under this cover, are classified as neutral categories, without any class-belonging or worse still, are assimilated into “working class social groups”.
At the other pole of society the same is happening: a whole of juridical forms of pseudo-owners – “peasant” cooperatives, agrarian reforms, artisans,… – which objectively camouflage the existence of huge masses of proletarians, associated by capital for the production of surplus-value (the wage character disguised). This and other ideological mechanisms tend to present us as being opposed to each other and as having different interests from those of other sections of the proletariat: urban/agricultural, active/unemployed, men/women, “workers”/employees, manual/intellectual workers… [GCI-ICG, Theses of Programmatical Orientation, thesis no.14]
Finally, the ultimate evidence of the social position of those that some leftists refuse to call proletarians (the list vary according to the group but we can find this approach applied on freelancers, little owners, unemployed, pensioners, etc.) is the fact that the presence of these social strata in the movement doesn’t change anything on the programme of the movement. These groups of “impure” proletarians do not impose any agenda of petty bourgeoisie (as some would like to persuade us is their intention); on the contrary, they join and develop the proletarian critique, the proletarian programme.
Instead of these sociological pseudo analysis that the leftists keep to be occupied with the movement is rather busy with defining itself as a class antagonistic to the bourgeois class, to the bourgeois society:
We, workers, unemployed, pensioners, we live on wages (including disguised as turnover for self-employed entrepreneurs) and on social welfare. This salary and social welfare are obtained by selling our labour force to a boss. And that’s how he manages to make money, that’s how the economy runs, at our expense. We can understand calls for unity within the yellow vests. But when this unity means walking with those who exploit us on a daily basis and with their political representatives, it is no longer unity, it is domestication. In reality, our interests are irreconcilable and this is also expressed at the level of demands. [Jaune – Le journal pour gagner]
Another common argument that some leftists use is that “yellow vests” is not a proletarian movement, because it represents a minority, because the majority of the class doesn’t participate to it. But this logic is completely upside down. We can hardly reproach to those who struggle that the others do not do so. Yes, the movement has to spread and generalize, yes, the rest of the class has to stop to watch it on television or discuss it on Facebook and join it in practice. And the “yellow vests” are pretty aware of it as we can read new appeals to the rest of the class to join them.
However it is not the quantity that can be a measure of whether something is proletarian or not. The movement indeed since the beginning grew in number but especially in the content. The “yellow vests” overpassed through a flow of workers and unemployed that has been joining them the original form of a movement against taxes and continue to create a movement against our living conditions, turning into a tidal wave that shakes the whole society, at least in France.
Everything that has been experienced and continues to be experienced at roundabouts, blockades or riots has enabled a whole people to regain their political capacity, that is, their ability to act that even a RIC [“Référendum d’initiative citoyenne”] cannot contain. [Yellow vests. End of the first round?]
And it is this content (which forms part as a tendency of the process of practical and theoretical negation of bourgeois State, economy, ideology…) that defines it as a proletarian movement beyond its protagonists’ consciousness, beyond the flags they wave.
The whole secret of the perpetuation of bourgeois domination can be summed up as being due to the proletariat’s difficulty in recognizing itself for what it really is, in recognizing its own struggle in the struggle of its class brothers (in whatever part of the world, and whatever categories the bourgeoisie might be using to divide it). This recognition is an indispensable condition for its constitution as an historical force. [GCI-ICG, Theses of Programmatical Orientation, idem]
It is not by chance that those who have a problem with seeing proletariat in “yellow vests” are finally those who have difficulties to see our class in youngsters’ revolts in suburbs or uprisings outside of Europe. As one of the texts we publish claims:
The majority of the comrades hostile to the yellow vest movement are in such a position because they chose not to make the distinction between what is said (the much mediatized legitimacy discourse) and what is done (the blockages and the kind of actions they announce). [Yellow Vest or not? We need fuel to burn it all down]
They limit the movement to its weaknesses and ideologies without seeing the process of their overpassing.
History of the struggles of our class shows us that many similar proletarian movements, especially when they originate outside of the workplace and therefore do not directly confront the production of commodities, tend to start with claims and demands related to our class interests in a confused way. As long as their dynamics is on the rising curve, as long as they attract proletarians across the sectoral and sociological boundaries imposed on us by Capital, as long as the confrontation with the State in its many incarnations intensifies, the class nature of the movement becomes clearer and clearer.
This leads to crystallization of two opposing currents in the movement. The proletarian one – which so far has an upper hand inside the movement – is pushing for always deeper ruptures with the capitalist society: no dialogue with the ruling class, explicit affirmation of the violent confrontation with the repressive forces, attempts to spread the struggle to the workplaces, attempts of internationalization of the struggle, etc. Another, Social Democratic one, is trying to pacify the struggle and bring it back under the democratic umbrella of citizenship – in this case represented by all those “media stars” from the ranks of “yellow vests”, all those little “leaders” trying to transform the movement into a political party or trade-union, or to hook it up with the existing ones, all those calls for referendum and patriotic exposés.
We want to underline that the constitution of the proletariat as a class is a process, a process of struggle, a process in which our class clarifies its position as a class with one and unique interest, a process of ruptures with the bourgeois ideology and its material forces:
This colossus no longer knows his name, no longer remembers his glorious history, and no longer knows the world where he’s opening his eyes. Yet, as he reactivates itself, he discovers the magnitude of his own power. Words are whispered to him by false friends, jailers of his dreams. He repeats them: “French”, “people”, and “citizen”! But by pronouncing them, the images that come back confusingly from the depths of his memory sow a doubt in his mind. These words have been used in the gutters of misery, on barricades, on battlefields, during strikes, in prisons. It’s because they are from the language of a redoutable adversary, the enemy of humanity who, for two centuries, has masterfully handled fear, force and propaganda. This deadly parasite, this social vampire, is capitalism!
We are not this “community of destiny”, proud of its “identity”, full of national myths, which has not been able to resist social history. We are not French.
We are not this mass of “small people” ready to close ranks with their masters as long as they are “well governed”. We are not the people.
We are not this aggregate of individuals who owe their existence only to the recognition of the State and for its perpetuation. We are not citizens.
We are the ones who are forced to sell their labour force to survive, those from whom the bourgeoisie makes most of its profits by dominating and exploiting them. We are the ones who are trampled, sacrificed and condemned by capital, in its survival strategy. We are this collective force that will abolish all social classes. We are the proletariat. [Call of “Yellow Vests” from Paris east side]
“Blockade of economy” versus its destruction
Many reproach to the movement also the fact that it doesn’t make any real harm to the economy; it doesn’t block the flow of capital. And another argument logically follows – it doesn’t develop at work places, therefore it has nothing in common with how the workers get organized.
Let’s recall first of all, that the movement is not as toothless as for the danger for the capitalist economy. Friendly blockades of roundabouts, all these people sleeping and freezing in tents, will surely not change anything. But let’s not forget that there were also successful occupations and blockades of depots of gasoline that (for a too short time unfortunately) provoked a shortage of oil and therefore a panic on the market. Let’s not forget that “yellow vests” have been occupying also many points of toll collect, letting the people using highways for free, they also destroyed thousands of radars on roads all over France. And let’s forget neither the riots nor the spectacular destruction in city centres and various cases of looting that also represent a certain level of a direct attack against capital, and thus re-appropriation of a small part of the social wealth produced by our class, by us proletarians, just a tiny and minuscule moment in the general process of expropriating the expropriators, of negating the private property of capitalists [“Yellow vests” – The struggle continues]. Put this way, the “yellow vests” made to the economy much more harm than any unionist general strike negotiated and prepared together with the bosses long ahead.
But of course all this is not enough. If the movement wants to survive, to strengthen itself, to generalize and to develop its critique in practice until the final consequences; it has to go further. And indeed to do so it has to get organized also on work places. So far it was not easy:
The yellow vest movement ends at the workplace gates, i.e. where the totalitarian rule of employers begins. This phenomenon is the result of various factors. Let’s remember three of them: 1) The atomization of production, which sees a large number of employees working in (very) small companies where closeness with the employer makes it very difficult to strike. 2) The social insecurity of a large proportion of employees, which seriously deteriorates their ability to deal with conflict in the workplace. 3) Exclusion and unemployment, which put many proletarians out of production. A large proportion of yellow vests are directly affected by at least one of these three determinations.
The other component of the wage-earners, the one that works in large corporations and has better job security (permanent contracts and status), seems to be cosseted, on which the powerful force of the movement breaks like the wave on the rock. A special treatment, consisting of managerial efficiency and shameful trade-union collaboration, is reserved for this segment of the working population. The bourgeoisie has understood that this category of workers has the power to strike at the very heart of capitalist production, through the indefinite general strike. This is why it consolidates pacification by giving lollipops in the form of “exceptional end-of-year bonuses”. [Call of “Yellow Vests” from Paris east side]
But the question is even more complicated. An action “in the factory” is not a guarantee of anything and strike is not a synonym of a revolutionary action as it is its content that determines it. Union-like strikes for crumbs held “when the situation of the company allows it” would not change anything even if they were run out of control of unions, organized by workers themselves or presented a step towards the mysterious “workers autonomy” (within capitalism) that its partisans want to build through escalating series of demands.
Organization at work places cannot be put in opposition to the need to get organized on the class basis also outside, throughout all the society. To do so means to follow the same logic as the bourgeoisie applies in order to divide the movement into good workers (in factories) and bad rioters (in the streets). The following quote about this could easily be labelled as a genuine pearl of the bourgeoisie though coming from a group that claims to represent “communism”:
City centres are a tremendous backdrop for television and the internet but they are totally opaque and disembodied when it is a matter of hitting the value chain of capital. The looting and damage caused to these opulent town centres are acts foreign to and sometimes even hostile to the hundreds of thousands of workers, most often poor, who are exploited there. The protagonists of these violent actions act as warriors against the future offensive struggles of the proletariat, against its autonomy, against its struggle against exploitation and oppression. They must be considered as auxiliaries of the armed forces of the bourgeoisie and the objective props of capital’s order and its state. [Mouvement Communiste/Kolektivně proti Kapitălu, GILETS JAUNES: the first attempts at mobilising “the people” for a strong state against the proletariat]
When the abhorrent vies with the vile!!! Let’s also emphasize that we could give hundreds of such quotes ad nauseam from ultra-leftists self-proclaiming to be the “vanguard” of the revolutionary proletariat but which are just able to show what and where objectively they stand for in face of a movement of struggle that doesn’t fit to their ideological and rhetorical screen of smoke… We don’t call them for grasping more dialectically the social matter and the processes of class war developing right in front of our eyes, not at all! We just say that their obscene stances locate them on the other side of the social barricade, with our enemies, and that the proletariat while rising up globally will have to pass over their corpses…
But let’s now continue what we said above, the action at work places is necessary, not in order to negotiate little something for this or that company workers or this or that industrial branch but in order to put forward radical content. Therefore it is not about a strike, not even about a general strike, the question is not only to block economy, but to take control over the production and to transform it in order to satisfy the needs of the movement and destroy the logic of the market and value that is at the basis of this movement.
We must use the extraordinary as well as determined force developed by this movement to achieve what millions of exploited people have wanted for so many years, without ever having succeeded doing so: to paralyse production from inside, to decide on strikes and their coordination in general assemblies, to unite all categories of workers, with the same objective of overthrowing the capitalist system and re-appropriating the production apparatus. [Call of “Yellow Vests” from Paris east side]
But we are not that far yet and it is not sure that the movement will be able to go that far.
“Yellow vests” is a contradictory, but hardly a counterrevolutionary movement
Sooner in this text we talked about constitution of the proletariat as a class as about a process of ruptures. This process necessarily includes eternal series of clashes between the class in the process of re-birth, its re-emerging consciousness obtained in and through the practical struggle and the false consciousness deeply rooted in the mind of every individual, false consciousness that is a foundation stone of every false community of “citizens”, “people” or “nation”. It would be crazy to expect that any movement can skip this process of developing ruptures and have a clear class consciousness since the beginning, and it would be also crazy to condemn a movement because it doesn’t have it at a certain phase of its existence. What is important is the fact that this dynamic of clarification exists, that the proletarian program is appearing always more explicit in opposition to all attempts of political and trade-union recuperation. If the result of this clash is far from being clear at this stage, it is obvious that this conflict exists, continues and develops inside of the “yellow vest” movement, as it always appears in every proletarian movement.
We can already see some very important ruptures with traditional unionists’ actions. As summarizes one of the texts we publish:
The movement has developed outside and in some sort also against traditional structures (parties, trade unions, media…) that capitalism equipped itself with in order to make any practical critique inoffensive. (…) Even if the media try to enclose the demonstrators in the framework of “struggle against taxes”, the universal motto is rather “fight against the poverty in general” in all its complexity (low wages, high prices, wasting our lives at work, alienation…) and therefore, in final consequences, it puts into question the capitalist order as such. The movement is organised regionally and it is overcoming the usual trade-unionists’ divisions according to production branches. (…) The movement, or its big part, is radical and therefore violent and it assumes it (…) what makes the usual tactics of the bourgeoisie to divide the movement in “good demonstrators” and “bad vandals” difficult to use. (…) Nothing is sacred for the movement, no symbols, no legends, no identity, no ideology that could not be burnt down, destroyed, rooted out. [“Gilets jaunes”… “Communards”… “Sans-culottes”… “Va-nu-pieds”… “Wretched of the earth”…]
We are indeed also very critical towards the “yellow vest” movement. It is not very difficult to describe the most evident weaknesses of the movement. What gives us hope is that none of these weaknesses is expressed by the movement as a whole, not even by its majority and any time that this or that version of bourgeois ideology appears, it is confronted with a critique coming from the movement itself. Every issue expressed by the movement is an object of contradictions, of discussions of critique and of a more or less violent conflict between rejection and acceptance of the bourgeois ideology. That is the process we mentioned above – the breaking line with the state doesn’t exist only in the street confrontations, it expresses itself also inside of the movement.
The question of nationalism, so much promoted by media, is an example of this process. Yes, indeed, we also saw some national or regional flags on demonstrations and blockades. Yes, indeed, we also read the story of some demonstrators who handed over refugees to the police. But we saw others helping to immigrants, expressing solidarity with struggling proletariat in other countries, calling for a unity not on the basis of community of ID cards or skin colour, but on classist basis. What is important for us as communists is not what this or that individual “yellow vest” thinks, but what the movement as a whole brings to the class struggle, in which the rupture with nationalism is an important part of. That means to be in opposition to the nationalist position, to fight against it inside of the movement, to impose this rupture to the movement. Many expressions written or unwritten of this struggle inside of “yellow vests” exist:
But this list [the first list of 42 demands written by the reformist part of the movement in December 2018, note of CW], is also a clear expression of a nationalist tendency, with four measures against foreigners, far from our problems and much further from their solution. You must be stubborn to believe that the problems in France come from elsewhere. That leaving Europe would allow us to live well or that hunting for undocumented migrants will increase our salary. It is precisely the opposite that would happen. (…) The fascists just want to make a bigger place for themselves at the exploiters’ table while doing like Trump. And we have absolutely no reason to help them do that.
In reality, no one cares about this list of demands. Only politicians can hope to get anything out of it, and of course the media and the government, which will not miss the opportunity to make us look like far-right thugs. But, as when someone is called by a first name that is not his own, we don’t pay attention. [Jaune – Le journal pour gagner]
The same goes for illusions about democracy (direct or participative), referendums, the president, elections etc., the critique appears always stronger:
(…) another initiative, supported by many political organisations from the far left to the far right, was soon to give us a hard time: the RIC [Citizens’ initiative referendum] in the name of the people and democracy. (…) It is bourgeois propaganda that makes us believe that before we are proles, we are citizens; that the life of ideas comes before that of material conditions. Yet the Republic does not fill up the fridge. And the RIC has surfed on this illusion. It must be said that at first sight, the proposal was attractive. We were told that with this, we would finally be able to be heard directly, that we could regain power over our lives. We would decide everything. And even without struggling, without risking our lives on the roundabouts and in demonstrations, just by voting, on our computers in our living rooms, with slippers near a cosy crackling fireplace! But in business, when you have a product to sell, you lie: “Yes, once you have the RIC, it’s possible to get everything through!” That’s wrong. How the hell to ask the bourgeois for their opinion on whether they agree to increase our wages? [Jaune – Le journal pour gagner]
This democratic arrangement would not solve anything, even if it was adopted. It would just stretch the electoral elastic while maintaining the relation between social classes – its conditions as well as its stakes – with an extra strengthening of legal reformism, that poor relation of the already illusory economic reformism. It would be tantamount to a more direct endorsement of ordinary enslavement. [Call of “Yellow Vests” from Paris east side]
The same for the motto “Macron resign”:
To counter the RIC, some of us have said: no need for RIC to win, we quite simply want Macron to resign. This demand has the good idea to highlight our action, to refocus the debate on our collective force. Indeed, it’s the street that will make Macron to leave, not the polls. But, right after saying that, everyone is asking the question: who will replace him? That’s precisely where the problem lies. Macron, as arrogant as he may be, is replaceable and his successor will do exactly the same to defend profit. The baby must clearly be thrown out with the bath water. The institutions that exist are there to defend the logic of money and exploitation. [Jaune – Le journal pour gagner]
Outside and against trade unions
As we have said, the “yellow vest” movement has developed from its rejection of the traditional bourgeois framework structures like political parties and trade unions. Since early December, the trade unions (regardless of their tendencies) have, as usual, toed the line before the government, which is looking for a way to defuse a social movement that might spread to other sectors of the proletariat: denunciations of interclassism are launched in a desperate attempt by the unions to discourage its members from joining the “yellow vests”.
Today, we are witnessing attempts at “convergence of struggles” and once again the movement is divided and hesitant: some “yellow vests” call for direct collaboration with the central structures of the trade unions; others on the contrary refuse this collaboration but call the proletarians in enterprises for also struggling, and that’s deeply right. Calls were made to prolong the “national day of [in]action” on February 5th (called by the trade unions and mainly the CGT) and to transform it into an “indefinite general strike”. We would like to warn, if necessary, the “yellow vest” comrades about the very essence of trade unions and trade unionism.
The role of trade unions has always been openly revealed in moments of struggle, by their willingness to put out the social fire. The unions, whose role is normally and precisely to prevent this kind of explosion, to act as a buffer and, if necessary, to frame any autonomous expression of our class, try to slow down the struggle by making believe they organize what’s beyond them. If, after decades of undermining our struggles, trade unions are no longer highly rated, the “yellow vest” movement taking place outside of them is one more evidence of this.
But a more subtle form is unfolding to restore control over our subversive struggles and it is to be found in all current struggles, which is what we could globally call workers’ parliamentarianism. Even when struggles break out on the basis of a formal rupture with the trade unions, even if a certain level of violence is assumed by the proletarians, this rupture is never complete, pushed until its ultimate consequences: that is, not only to get organized outside of trade unions, but also against them. This means to radically break up not only with the organisations, but above all with the practice: trade unionism, which is nothing else than negotiating the sale of our labour force with our exploiters…
From “people’s assemblies” to assemblyism!?
From the very beginning of the “yellow vest” movement, many idealistic and ideological ultra-left sects have been denouncing it because it didn’t get organized into “general assemblies”, considered as the holy Grail. Since then, news on the establishment of assemblies in Commercy, Saint-Nazaire, Montreuil, etc., have appeared, not to mention the “informal” assemblies organized around occupied roundabouts and various blockades.
On the one hand, the proletariat has historically always structured its struggle around assemblies, coordinations, councils, soviets, communes, committees, etc. We can only welcome the fact that proletarians are reclaiming control over their struggle, that they are meeting each other, that they are discussing together, that they are getting organized, that they are making plans for the future, that they are re-appropriating thousand and one aspects of life, that they develop conviviality, comradeship, that they participate in “liberating the speech”,… on the other hand, we would like to emphasize that no structure, whatever it may be, will never be a guarantee as to the development and content of our struggles.
On the contrary, the practice of democratism, of assemblyism, of fetishizing the massiveness in structures of struggle often hinders the extension and radicalization of struggles. If proletarians reject trade unions, they would yet be at risk of reproducing the same trade union and reformist practice within their “assemblies”. The emergence of “roundabouts’ direct democracy”, of large “general assemblies” open to everyone, often means the practice of trade unionism without a union. The “assemblies” and their “magic” of the delegates “elected and revocable at any time” have never provided any formal guarantee. Historically, our only guarantee has been our social practice. It is never the form that prevails, but always the content…
Moreover, the prevailing democratism in these “assemblies” means that everyone can express themselves “freely”, strikers as well as strike-breakers, radicals as well as moderated: rather than “liberating the speech” (and it is obvious here that we don’t claim “freedom of speech” that our enemy the democracy is so much praising in order to better make us talk, to silence us), they often also liberate the chitchat at the expense of direct action. What’s the point of voting for very “radical” great resolutions if the proletariat does not break the forces of inertia that block the extension and development of the struggle!?
We tried to show here that the “yellow vest” movement, as every proletarian movement in the past, is contradictory. For the moment there are expressions of both, the bourgeois society ideology in the form of the false consciousness of our class, but also the proletarian interests, the final goal to destroy capitalism. And its proletarian content is facing two dangers – reaction and reformism.
But the false consciousness can and has to be overpassed only in and through the struggle, in experience of our class born and reborn in every new open class conflict. The task of the communists is not to spit on a movement because it is not pure enough, because it doesn’t refer to good sources or because it is missing this or that aspect that we consider important.
For those who still toy with this wish, how can we imagine that the revolution could break out? Do we really think that it will be the work of a convergence of social movements, all endowed with their just demands, driven by decisions taken unanimously during assemblies where the most radical idea would win the fight? And so with a scenario of this kind: a movement with a great cause is born, at its head are the most enlightened militants who lead it from battle to battle while obtaining exciting victories; its ranks grow, its reputation grows, its example spreads in a contagious way, other similar movements emerge, their power meets, they feed and multiply each other, until reaching the final confrontation during which the State is finally killed… What a beautiful story! Who produced it, Netflix? What episode are we on? If you don’t want to laugh about it, you can always be serious. (…)
Because throughout history, the spark of riots, insurrections and revolutions has almost always arisen not for deep reasons but simply because of pretexts (e.g. the relocation of a battery of cannons triggered the Paris Commune, a protest against the grub in the military navy ignited the Spartakist revolution, the suicide of a street vendor launched the so-called Arab Spring, the removal of a few trees led to the Gezi Park revolt in Turkey), we find it really embarrassing those who, faced with what is happening with the yellow vests (…), only sharpen their eyes to find traces of the communist programme, or anarchist thought, or radical theory, or anti-industrial criticism, or… Thereafter, following the disappointment of not having discerned enough subversive content in the street, of not having counted masses large enough, of not having noticed enough proletarian origins, of not having noticed enough parity in female presence, of not having heard enough correct language – the list could be extended to the infinite – it only remains to be horrified and ask who can benefit from all this social agitation. [Finimondo, Di che colore è la tua Mesa?]
The task of the communists is neither to approve anything what the movement does. The task of the communists is to grasp the movement on the basis of its radical dynamic and to encourage this dynamic to develop as a revolutionary praxis, in favour of the revolutionary project of the proletariat. We as communists should accompany the class in its struggle of clarification of this project against both – reaction and reform, to represent the connection between the current and the past struggle of our class while sharing the experience we have obtained in it as a class and also between the current and the future struggle in order to draw lessons from the first one, briefly to represent the historical struggle of our class.
We are aware of the fact that it is not easy. The “yellow vests” are a contradictory movement like every other proletarian movement in history. And maybe nothing will come of it for the moment, except a strong experience of struggle and ruptures, consolidating our “class memory”. But it is difficult to grasp a movement through the prism of what it becomes when it is defeated (especially if the defeat is far from being finished).
On the other hand a part of the movement already opened a rupture with bourgeois society, its ideology and its institutions – trade unions, left or right wing parties, national antiterrorist unity, etc. And the proletarian content of the movement can open the way towards wider class struggles.
Finally, although it might seem provocative, we affirm that all the media hype around the “yellow vest” movement can in no way make us forget this essential thing that there is no such thing as a “yellow vest” movement, that it has never existed and cannot exist. And this is for a simple, fundamental, unavoidable reason: because there is no “yellow vest” class or social project…
Here and now, everywhere and always, it is proletariat against bourgeoisie, two social classes with resolutely antagonistic projects…
Indeed, there are only two projects facing each other for the future of humanity: on the one hand, the historical process of abolishing capitalist social relations and its State, which are the cause of misery, war, exploitation, alienation, oppression and domination… On the other hand, the forces for the conservation of this nightmare…
# Class War – winter 2018/19 #