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Last Update: 04/07/2020
(December 2nd, 2018)
Life is too expensive to be lived!
(Exploités NRV 31)
We are workers, temporary and precarious workers, people forced into self-employed status, skint unemployed, students in trouble, high school students destined for misery, retired people in the shit. We are concerned with the yellow vest movement: we’re all out of money.
Today, after two weeks of continuous blockade, the government is doing everything it can to get us back home. It is calling on the “yellow vests” to get structured. And opportunists are already lining up. They are often party activists, sometimes from the far right, who are hiding behind the word “people”. In the list of demands that has been sent to the government, there is nothing that will improve our situation. And it will especially not improve with any “citizens’ assemblies” or the “reduction of employers’ charges”. As for those who want us to believe that we have more in common with our bosses than with migrant proletarians from all over the world, they are at the service of power and the bourgeoisie.
Demands: a way out or a dead end?
Some yellow vests say to themselves that we have to have demands. That’s untrue. Putting forward demands leaves the government a way out. It will sign any agreement only to betray it afterwards, once the movement has faded away, as in Guadeloupe in 2009. The movement in Reunion Island shows us the way. It’s the government that is trying to put out the fire. And despite the few small measures the minister is proposing, they aren’t giving up. If there are so many opportunist representatives and so-called official communiqués, it’s because in real life we lack the space to discuss and act. This means we aren’t giving ourselves the chance of winning. At this rate, we risk exhaustion.
What gathers us together? Our living conditions, a life too expensive to be lived.
This problem does not only come from the State. It affects our places in this society, far beyond “taxes”. The State and the bosses have a common interest: the “smooth running of the economy”. This means the worsening of our working conditions, as well as those in transport, housing, education, health, in fact our living conditions, whether we are French or not, whether we are urban or country dwellers.
We are under attack from all sides. The first reflex of yellow vests was to launch economic blockades. This is a method of struggle to be continued. But let’s not wait for people to join the yellow vests.
Let’s spread the movement wherever we are on a daily basis.
In companies, in high schools, on campuses, in job centres, in hospitals, in retirement homes, at the CAF [family allocations office], in social security, etc. This spreading will take the form of strikes, occupations, blockades and demonstrations.
The only thing that’s missing is our imagination to take the protest further than the roads. But to make this happen, let’s develop organizational tools capable of building such a movement. In Saint-Nazaire, the yellow vests are occupying an empty building, so that the strategies to be adopted can be discussed in an assembly.
Let’s set up assemblies.
In the Toulouse region, no permanent struggle assembly has been announced to discuss our strategy. Neither on the blockades, nor anywhere else. We cannot continue to go blindly to the blockades, to finally be there all alone.
It is also about being reachable: this movement, massively supported, has the need to create spaces for all those who wish to join and strengthen it.
Wherever we are, let’s hold assemblies for the struggle.
Life is too expensive to be lived!
The struggle is too big to be recuperated!
Let’s block more to win everything
Broke people in yellow vests
Exploités NRV 31
(February 4th, 2019)
Stand up you wretched of the Earth! Stand up prisoners of starvation!
Enslaved masses stand up! Stand up!
Against exploiters and oppressors!
Let’s impose social well-being!
(Gilets Jaunes Poitiers)
Tired of social inequalities and poverty!
Tired of the month ending on the 15th, tired of housing benefit [APL] cuts and rent hikes, tired of rises in food prices, taxes on all basic commodities and energy, tired of power cuts, evictions, and policing at the employment center [Pôle emploi] and family allocations office [CAF] or in our neighborhoods by the State militia! Tired of waiting in line for food! Tired of paying and sweating blood to not even have enough to survive for some of us! Tired of the future for our children! Tired of seeing neighborhoods, cities, departments and regions affected by the closure of public services or businesses… Tired of not having our say and not being able to decide anything about everything concerning us!
We refuse our fate! We are beaten, gassed and mutilated by the State!
While voices rise and threaten us with machine-gun fire!
Yellow vests, people receiving unemployment indemnities or welfare benefits [RSA], strikers, wage workers, union members, trade union activists, travelers, Roma people, undocumented migrants, immigrants, youth in poor neighborhoods, pensioners, people with disabilities, whatever our sex, sexuality, beliefs, national origins…, it is all of us, the working people, who are repressed by the State of the billionaires. All prisoners who are victims of State repression must be released, the wounded must be compensated, and violent police officers must not go unpunished. Behind the State repression, it is the billionaires who are guilty of social crimes against the working people.
Let’s unite and impose our vital needs to live a decent life!
Their wealth is our misery. 40 French billionaires own 320 billion euros while more and more of us are living in misery with or without a job or on the verge of falling into misery. Let’s put an end to this society of inequalities that only enriches the 1%. And it is not their […] elections and their great debate that will impose social well-being. It can be obtained only while uniting as broadly as possible and mobilizing for our own interests that are incompatible with those of billionaires.
We have nothing! We want everything!
Let’s decree that the only worthwhile law is social well-being for everyone!
To impose social well-being, let’s organize ourselves everywhere in Assemblies or Yellow Vest Committees and let’s coordinate! Let’s debate with each other! Let’s not let anyone decide what’s good for us! Let’s decide for ourselves what we want, how we fight, how we organize ourselves and what society we want to build! We are the rogues, the toothless people of this society. We are nothing, in their view! Let’s be everything! Let’s finish with the State of profiteers and the control over all wealth by less than one percent of billionaires!
We don’t decide anything! We want to decide everything!
This is the way […] for the working people!
Yellow Vests of the Constituent Assembly of Poitiers
(February 6th, 2019)
Let’s converge and build an insurrectional strike movement
Let’s build our Struggle Assemblies or Committees everywhere to lead it ourselves
(Gilets Jaunes Poitiers)
We, Yellow vests, mobilized on roundabouts, in demonstrations, organized in sovereign […] assemblies, have been fighting for more than two months against the State of the billionaires, the inequalities and misery that still affects an increasing number of us, while the richest 1% are stuffing their faces at the expense of the working people.
The government backed down and the billionaires feared us!
But that’s not enough
If in recent years, the struggles organized, supervised and led by trade union bureaucracies did not push the government back, our movement has shown us how the struggle can be effective when we lead it ourselves. The government is backing down on fuel or gas taxes, on vehicle technical control, on HGV charges… It increases the Activity Premium and major companies give bonuses to railway workers or retirement home employees [EPHAD] who claim that it is not for fear that they join us!!! Just the fact that they insist on saying this… speaks volumes in the opposite direction! The government is also delaying future attacks such as the decrees on the food law, tax reform, etc. And most importantly, it is delaying the attack on pensions! Nevertheless, the State is backing down as little as possible, hoping that our struggle will run out of steam. Workers, now is the time to strike while the iron is hot.
Workers and Yellow Vests, it’s the same struggle!
We are fighting the same battle, that of all those who live only on their work, who do not exploit anyone and who have difficulty living on a low salary, with a casual job, with a small pension, with unemployment indemnity or even with welfare benefit [RSA]. In order to lead the struggle together, almost everywhere in France, links are forged between yellow vests and employees of enterprises to support strikes, distribute leaflets at companies, and demonstrate together. Sometimes, local trade union activists promote convergence, but trade union leaders push workers to be suspicious, to stay away, and spread the slanders of power, accusing yellow vests of being violent, racist, fascist, homophobic, anti-trade-union… However, even trade union confederations have been forced to demonstrate several times with yellow vests, which shows that their reluctance was an excuse.
Let’s converge on the basis of self-organization
and direct action of the Yellow Vests movement
For a real convergence, union leaders should learn from their bitter failures and from the success of the Yellow Vests. This is not the case! Direct action is no longer their conception. The intersectional struggle has been abandoned for long by these structures, which scatter strikes and refuse to allow them to be led by the strikers themselves. Nor do they want to lead the struggle against the billionaires’ State. Therefore if many trade union militants are struggling within the Yellow Vests, we refuse to be taken over and put under supervision, particularly by the trade unions which join us belatedly and would like to control the struggle, to subdue it, to restrict it, to bring it back to something more usual. Our interest is not to follow the trade union structures, neither in their calling for calm, nor in their way of organizing the struggles, one service after the other, one hospital after the other, the hospitals separated from the education system and the railways [SNCF] or Energy, Airports, La Poste. Our interest is to build committees and assemblies of Yellow vests in companies and everywhere. The convergence of the struggles between yellow vests and salaried employees of companies must not be led by trade unions but by the workers themselves.
Union leaders want citizens’ opinions to be canvassed
We want the working people to decide everything that concerns them
We refuse to put aside the political objectives of the yellow vests, particularly those calling into question 1/ the billionaires’ State, 2/ our insurrectional way of struggle that rejects, among other things, police control, and 3/ the revolutionary objectives that refuse to allow billionaires to endlessly get richer while the working people have only the right to tighten their belts. The trade union structures, integrated into the State apparatus that finances them and determines their functioning, cannot wage a struggle directly against the State power of the billionaires they recognize. They do not question the management of billionaires throughout society. At most, they want our opinion to be canvassed as in companies, with the result we know. We don’t want our opinion to be canvassed! We want to decide everything that concerns us. We no longer want to be led or ruled but to lead and rule ourselves.
Let’s all be Yellow Vests and sweep away the billionaires’ society!
Yellow Vests from the Constituent Assembly of Poitiers
(March 17th, 2019)
Paris is ours
Never before had the Champs-Élysées truly been “the most beautiful avenue in the world”. For a day, this artery, this symbol of luxury, became the embodiment of a regained common power.
Yes, order managed to contain most of the disorder on and around the Champs – despite some more or less successful attempts at wild breakaways. Act XVIII gained in intensity what it lost in geographical extension. But, it was enough to hear the Yellow Vests chanting “revolution!” all afternoon. It was enough to see the crowd pull down the huge metal plaque that protected the Bulgari shop, carry it forward, and charge the police – bellowing “We won! We won!”. It was enough to see the banners come within a few meters of the Arc de Triomphe, the enemy retreat and flee behind the Louis Vuitton before our onslaught. In short, it was enough to be there to understand.
Despite the obvious imbalance of power, there was mad determination, rampant trust: people were no longer afraid. What matters in a riot is not the quantity of material damage, the number of broken windows, thrown stones or burned cars. No, what matters is qualitative. It’s the collective energy deployed, and how this deployment transforms consciences. It’s not the statistical losses inflicted on the enemy that count. It’s the political and ideological forces liberated among the people.
The media and government, who obsess over the “1500 ultra-violent” who allegedly organized the violence, hide the truth. On March 16th, everyone on and around the Champs participated in one way or another in the riot.
Unlike the first few Acts, no one thought to intervene in the looting, destruction, or clashes with police. Flying glass and hammer blows met with enthusiastic cheers. For the thousands of people present, all this seemed perfectly logical – normal. As summarized in the suddenly lucid Le Monde: “During the first weeks of the movement, there were always demonstrators to protest against the looters. This time, nothing.”
This is what horrifies the government: it’s impossible to divide those swept up in the event. What horror, to see peaceful moms and dads smiling for photos on the velvet sofas of Fouquet’s aflame behind them. Castaner encouraged them time and again to dissociate from the “vandals”. But all that talk is vain, inaudible. The arrogance of the government and the brutality of its police have reached such heights that there is no room for dissociation.
This is further proof that popular uprisings shake up those who take part in them. They develop their convictions and certainties through contact with practice. Today, principled pacifism has almost disappeared from the Yellow Vests’ marches. Naivety about state repression, too, has waned. Remember those who, not long ago, pretended to be able to put Yellow Vests in this or that box? To assign one or another intrinsic ideological identity?
But who’s to blame for this progressive “radicalization” of the Yellow Vests? Who managed to convince them that only antagonism pays, if not the government itself? The insurrection gained in three weeks what traditional social movements hadn’t for decades. By giving in to the Yellow Vests’ demands in early December, Macron confirmed that the State only hears popular needs when it’s forced to do so, when it can no longer do otherwise. The Yellow Vests have understood this perfectly:
“We realized that it’s only when we shatter that we’re heard.” – Johnny, 37, day-care director
“It’s great to smash, because the bourgeoisie is so safe in their bubble. They need to fear for their physical safety for them to let go.” – Anne, a Toulouse postwoman (33)
That the movement again reached such a level of conflict after 18 weeks is already a remarkable fact. But the ultimatum of March 16 was not meant to be a last swan song, however flamboyant. Nothing could be more dangerous than satisfaction with Saturday. It only makes sense as a springboard. It’s a matter of using this date to launch a new phase, to build a spring of struggle.
The strong parallel mobilizations for the climate and against police violence raised the burning question of coagulation. Because the riot, even if repeated, is insufficient. It must be linked to a revival of economic blockades and to the continuing work of political and strategic clarification. Éric Drouet recognized this on Saturday evening: the supervised walks were useless. Only overriding imposed frameworks and widespread sabotage of the economy can lead the movement to victory.
We have no choice: the first fruits of repressive response suggest what crushing the current movement will mean for everyone.
Original in French: https://acta.zone/paris-est-a-nous/
(March 18th, 2019)
“Revolution, Revolution, Revolution!”
The Yellow Vests Invite Themselves to the Champs-Élysées
(Rouen dans la rue)
If they want a perpetrator, I’m right here. Let them come and take me.
Macron spoke on July 24, 2018 before an audience of parliamentarians in the middle of the Benalla affair, which has since become a national scandal. Full of contempt and complacency as ever, the president talked a little bit about it, in schoolyard terms. On December 2nd, 2018, Olympic Marseilles fans responded to Macron’s provocation by launching what would become the hymn of the movement.
Emmanuel Macron, you fucking moron – We’re coming to get you where you live!
This time it wasn’t a boast. Since November 17th, the Yellow Vests have tried and tried again to pick up Macron from his place. From the Élysée. On December 8th, a helicopter was ready to exfiltrate Macron from the Élysée Palace, which had been transformed into a bunker for the occasion. The only reason the Yellow Vests failed was because of Macron’s vast security system. The police are the last line of defense for this regime. Rumor has it that all the police forces deployed to protect the Palace last Saturday failed to secure the Champs-Élysées. Bad sport Macron brags at recess and then runs to hide behind the teachers’ legs.
We could easily laugh at these Yellow Vests who always sing that they are going to look for Macron but never find him. But it is not so much Macron’s body that the Yellow Vests want to attack as the world he represents. He’s a flawless incarnation of that world, though. The world of elites and contempt for “nothing people”. The world of oligarchs who we didn’t hesitate to call the bourgeoisie not so long ago. The world of capital and financiers who forever lecture the struggling while wallowing in shameless luxury. The world of those who celebrate their presidential victory at Fouquet’s or who go skiing while Paris burns. The world of those who would do anything to make this system last.
It’s this world that the Yellow Vests sought and found last Saturday on the Champs-Élysées. They systematically destroyed and looted luxury boutiques. They freely distributed chocolate, jewelry, clothing and other finery normally inaccessible. They plundered what some call the most beautiful avenue in the world. The launched waves of successive attacks on the protectors of this world. And finally, they sacrificed Fouquet’s, which alone symbolized presidential contempt and the realm of the powerful. “We serve brunch for 95€. Come on in. And away from the beggars.”
The Champs-Élysées is not our avenue. The bourgeoisie are clearly terrified that we rejoice atop the ruins of the old world. Despite the fear, the stakes, the determination – it really was a Yellow Vest celebration that day. The government can spin us as criminals or worse. Did they miss our casual grace? The ease which we reposed on the improvised terrace amidst the smoldering Champs? That elegance proves we don’t live like criminals. We’re well within our rights.
If Macron had not taken the helicopter on December 8th, he was forced to take it on March 16th. We plucked him from the slopes, right off his skis. We went and urgently brought him back, where he couldn’t pretend that nothing was happening.
“Veni, vedi, vici” said an unsympathetic emperor.
Last Saturday we came, we saw, we conquered. What exactly? Who can say? But for the first time since the beginning of this movement, all the people cried as one: “revolution, revolution, revolution!”
English translation: https://yellowvests.wtf/revolution-revolution-revolution
(March 26th, 2019)
March 16th: the war of the poor
(Some Parisian yellow vests)
Act 18 was marked by the massive destruction of luxury stores on the Champs-Élysées, as well as by the widespread and systematic re-appropriation of everything inside. To counter the current media offensive that describes these thefts as being the work of apolitical looters, we want to produce our own version of this Saturday, in political praise of working-class looting.
When we arrived back home on Saturday evening, we watched the news on BMFTV, and we felt a little guilty pleasure at seeing the journalists sweat. We are neither disappointed nor surprised: the same conventional discourse exhausts itself imposing its criminalizing interpretation, and works really hard to create panic around the famous rioters [casseurs]. In the media’s language, the yellow vests are just wild mobs, thugs, vandals, who ransack, loot and burn in a surge of violence that would delight the most ambitious terrorist organizations. The media are inundating us with superlatives; no word is strong enough to characterize the situation: for France TV Info “The most beautiful avenue in the world [is] devastated”, for Le Monde it’s “a surge of rage”. So, in front of the pictures of the catastrophe of Fouquet’s in flames, in front of BFM, we think that the yellow vests really have a touch of class.
The media, watchdogs of power and private property
The lexicon of savagery rules the day: from “murderers” to “ransacking” to “accomplices”, the Champs-Elysées are transformed into a chaotic war zone, invaded by Viking raids and hordes of barbarians with gas masks. What is at stake here is to depoliticize the riot on the one hand, and dehumanize the demonstrators on the other. For the media it’s a question of presenting looting and destruction as incomprehensible acts, carried out under the influence of a hateful crowd, as if people had gone mad.
While the media are forced to recognize the political nature of smashing banks, in the case of the department stores on the Champs, it is easier for them to draw a new portrait of the demonstrator: that of a looter who would only like to line his pockets. Thus, L’Obs [a weekly French news magazine previously known as Le Nouvel Observateur] clearly distinguishes between “the ultra-left”, represented by “those who only want to give vent to a brutality to which any ideological pretext or sectional demand could serve as a circumstantial flag” on the one hand, and “a few rioters (…), i.e. opportunists who take advantage of it to shop around” on the other hand. The editorial lines are overrun with the same imaginings, including the distinction between “ultra-left” and “rioters”. These absolutely colonial and racist imaginings paint the rebels as “invaders”, as foreigners (therefore not “real Yellow Vests”), as “savages” – in the sense of “in need of being civilized”. The rebels are a part of the “dangerous classes”. In the United States but also in many southern or disaster-stricken countries, the terms looting and the vocabularies of the “riot” are used at will by the media and the police to depoliticize any form of revolt, self-organization and self-defense of the working class neighborhoods and non-white populations that are rebelling. In this game, the media relay the police propaganda, as well analyzed by Mathieu Rigouste in his genealogy of slavery and colonialism (in La domination policière). All the policing techniques were based on “the repertoires of colonialism” and slavery:
“One of the ancestors of the modern police force, the Maréchaussée, was founded on the slave plantation to hunt Maroons. Self-organized into networks, the former fugitive slaves were sabotaging and destroying the masters’ property. They were presented as wild animals to justify them being hunted down. Because in addition to struggle against the plantations’ order, the Maroons have never ceased, at the end of their escape, to join or create, to make live and defend free and autonomous communes.”
Instead of the noble revolt that the Republic talks about through Delacroix’s paintings and the storming of the Bastille, “the staging of the ‘riot’” is used to “depict the insubordinations of the dominated as a form of savagery” and “provides a political weapon to subdue the domestic wretched”. And the construction of savagery thus justifies “hunting”, police violence, and therefore domination through violence.
Those who decided to morally condemn what happened on Saturday chose the side of the established order in this social war. The bourgeois media play their role of watchdogs, but others show what they are made of, such as the newspaper L’Humanité, which reduces these acts – from class revolts – to simple “acts of violence” [“exactions”]. If they are shocked by the looting, we, we yellow vests, are shocked that these lootings do not happen more often, given the obscenity of the objects and prices displayed in the shop windows.
So who are the looters?
All this discourse contributes to a reversal of responsibility and the erasion of the fact that the initial looting is massive and structural: i.e. capitalist, colonial and neo-colonial. Because who loots? Who has despoiled the land and who still happily collaborates with slave countries like Libya? Who is continuing colonization while intervening in Chad? Hugo Boss made his fortune thanks to the Nazis, and they themselves derived their genocidal enterprise from colonial practices. Weren’t the first Vuitton trunks used by the settlers and didn’t they accompany the “journeys” of the “explorers” and their colonial genocides? Didn’t Louis Vuitton run his booth at the Colonial Exhibition? Today, LVMH, which owns Louis Vuitton and Bulgari, has exported a part of the production for some of its subsidiary companies to Madagascar. Not content with exploiting workers in France, the group takes advantage of the persistence of colonial relations to exploit non-white workers in the former French colonies. Didn’t the Barrière Group, which owns Fouquet’s, set up luxury hotels in Marrakech, as well as a comfortable casino in Abidjan to give respite to all the neo-colonists who came to make money from Ivorians and to bleed them dry? Every year the Champs-Elysées is the scene for a July 14th [Bastille Day – French National Day] celebrating its great colonial army, that army that rapes children in Central Africa. Need we carry on with this list?
March: spontaneous increase in the minimum wage [SMIC]
But contrary to what the media and police unions are repeating, we felt that these were logical acts, strategic and political, whether or not planned in advance. On March 16th, we observed a huge redistribution and sharing operation, a large free market, a popular and joyful re-appropriation of what is produced with the sweat of the poor.
This operation was first of all a response to material needs and above all it represents an active protest against the capitalist production system and inequality between social classes: the many are poor and exploited, the few are rich and exploiters, therefore the many take from the rich and redistribute among the poor. The Yellow Vests are the revolt of those who are forced to work to survive and who, even with that, do not have enough money to get through a month. Looting the shops on the Champs-Elysées is a way to make up for this lack of money without being exploited. The “solidarity tax on wealth” [ISF] has effectively been deducted at source, with the large numbers of stolen goods. We hope that the bags, clothes, jewelry collected will allow many to supplement their salaries, and that, pending social concessions from the government, this self-increase in the minimum wage will mean a more serene end of the month in March.
This great celebration of gratuity was also a response to the violence of these places, the large windows of “luxury” and “prestige” shops. All these commodities that are made for the rich and only for them: another way to establish one’s class domination through obscenity. Because it is obscene to pay 15,000 € for a night at the Fouquet’s while people are dying in the gutter. This direct violence is coupled with symbolic violence: the poor don’t get to speak in these places, they are not allowed to go into Hugo Boss or Fouquet’s without it being made clear to them that this is not their place, or without them being escorted straight back outside if they look too poor, or if they are black or Arab.
But that’s the problem with what happened on Saturday, that’s what horrifies the rich: if everyone has access to luxury, it’s no longer luxury. Symbolically, Saturday’s looting is yet another way to reverse class domination. It makes them understand that what they are trying to make us drool over, the opulence they want to sell… when the Yellow vests want it, they grab it in one shot, without asking, and while making them tremble. The Yellow vests do not loot to conform to their ideal of luxury, but to destroy their model, because their ideal crushes them. They torch the Fouquet’s so that nobody will ever be humiliated there again. On this Saturday the yellow vests were kings and queens of these places, places they are usually banned from.
These major brands would like to get the Yellow vests into their enjoyment model, but their happiness comes from elsewhere, as L’Obs understood it: “the rioters went into action. That is their enjoyment.” The looting was done with joy, collectively. Hugo Boss was ransacked, and the clothes were thrown at everyone, as they appeared suddenly from the broken shop windows like fireworks. In front of the Bulgari, the whole crowd got on with unhooking the huge metal plate and carried it to throw it at the cops. Young people were overexcited to have found PSG shirts; in the [police] kettle, groups were playing with a ball (also stolen); a father was delighted about the gifts he would be taking to his son; everyone exchanged his pickings in accordance with different sizes and personal tastes. The yellow vests’ enjoyment does not arise from individual profit. All the loot was joyfully shared between all. The yellow vests’ enjoyment arises from the awareness of a collective force… with shouts of “Revolution!”…
The looters were looted. They were afraid, and the police were kept at a distance. The major organizers of the greatest systematic historical ransacking have a little taste of the backlash. If they were offended, that’s fine. For one afternoon, the world was put the right way up.
Some Parisian yellow vests
Original in French: https://acta.zone/le-16-mars-la-guerre-des-pauvres/
(April 2nd, 2019)
Gilets Jaunes Victory Communique Nº 1
(The yellow vests of the roundabout of Campanile)
Victory: the anger that everyone thought was theirs to feel alone, was found to be felt by the greatest number!
Victory: the yellow vests shattered in the population the feeling of despondency and inevitability that gave to the powerful the certainty of having definitely won!
Victory: the roundabouts, areas without lives and very expensive for local authorities, became human places for encounters and sharing!
Victory: what was meant to manage traffic, to speed up fluidity and productivity has turned into spaces where time is spent without counting, chatting directly about life and the world!
Victory: State terrorism led by mutilations, LBD 40 [a flash-ball weapons model], military threats and unparalleled brutality failed to stop the protests, demonstrations and rallies, week after week!
Victory: despite the winter, the cold and the rain, the yellow vests continued to hold the roundabouts everywhere!
Victory: the State must deploy armored vehicles and pull down the mask of lies about democracy!
Victory: the police and surveillance services are caught off guard and are constantly confronted with situations whose logic escapes them!
Victory: the yellow vests movement has put an end to the false consensus in society, and finally enabled everyone to see those who want a common well-being and those who think only of their own interests!
Victory: despite all the blows, lies, slanders, insults, contempt that the media and politicians have constantly poured out, the yellow vests have not mixed in polemics and false debates!
Victory: starting from an opposition to taxes, the yellow vests entered onto the field of a radical questioning of society!
Victory: the labels, automatisms and political fetishes have been scrapped in favor of concrete practices!
Victory: after four months of existence, the movement does not intend to find a leader, much to the chagrin of the authorities who have no one to spectacularly put their teeth into!
Victory: in the face of State terror, the creative and collective capacities of the yellow vests are constantly inventing new strategies!
Victory: the political parties, among the yellow vests, are seen with hostility!
Victory: after decades of humiliation, isolation and being crushed, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people are raising their heads!
Victory: the yellow vest movement inspires millions of people all over the planet!
Victory: on the evening of December 1st, the Medef [Mouvement des Entreprises de France] asked its members to “give up some ballast vis-à-vis employees” “at the risk of losing everything”…!
Victory: faced with the quantity and quality of discussions, research, inventions and exchanges, the “Great National Debate” appeared for what it is: a grotesque comedy whose only benefits are for the leaders!
Victory: it is more and more common to hear yellow vests refuse to bow to the false division between vandals [casseurs] and pacifists (!)!
Victory: the yellow vests are and remain the nightmare of decision makers, authorities and predators of all kinds!
Victory: the movement builds itself and gradually, with great confidence in its popularity and with the greatest mistrust of obsolete methods of organization!
Victory: the yellow vests put the issue of society as a whole at the center of discussions and reflections, not just work-related or sector-specific concerns!
Victory: most politicians debate ridiculously with each other about who is “the most yellow vest” or who “identified them before everyone else”, while the yellow vests look at them with indifference, contempt or mockery, according to the day!
Victory: the government has been ridiculed by the UN for “excessive use of force and severe restriction of rights to demonstrate”!
Victory: social networks finally seem inadequate to this thirst for meetings, exchanges and direct coordination between people!
Victory: equality, benevolence and tolerance are the intangible principles to which, in fact, the yellow vests hold!
AND IT IS FAR AND AWAY FROM BEING FINISHED!
The yellow vests of the roundabout of Campanile, named the Olivier’s roundabout, in tribute to our friend killed on December 20, 2018
Villeneuve-sur-Lot, March 28, 2019
Original in French: https://lundi.am/Gilets-jaunes-Communiqué-de-victoire-no1
(April 2nd, 2019)
What is the Yellow Vests movement?
(GARAP – Groupe d’Action pour la Recomposition de l’Autonomie Prolétarienne)
The Yellow Vests (Gilets Jaunes – GJ) movement, which appeared via social networks and which was undetected by the usual structures of social pacification (trade unions and left-wing and far-left political parties), was initially intended to oppose an increase in fuel tax announced by the government. This movement has taken various forms: blockades of roundabouts or logistics platforms, “free toll” operations, demonstrations often accompanied by clashes with the police, attacks on political premises of all sides and attacks on symbols of capitalism (luxury shops, real estate agencies, banks, etc.). The GJ movement has thrown into the struggle sections of the working class whose daily life is punctuated by the necessities of survival, and it contradicts through its very length in time the forecasts of so-called “experts” who for week after week have been announcing its “exhaustion”… for the last four months!
If it has still not managed to fully escape from the nationalist impasse (the belief in a “French people” with common interests, beyond the opposition between exploiters and exploited) and continues to delude itself about its non-partisan character (all “people of good will” are welcome by the GJ… including fascists!), the movement nevertheless managed to go beyond its initial demand and obtained concessions from the Macron-Philippe government on several points: cancellation of the CSG increase for some pensioners, freezing of fuel taxes and electricity and gas prices, capping of bank charges linked to overdrafts, etc.
The government was forced to make concessions to some public officials (in the Financial Administration, Customs department, EHPADs [retirement homes] and even the national police) as it was afraid of their solidarity with the GJ. And now it considers that it is its duty to stop giving in and to break the movement through state terror in order to make it a (counter) example. An unlimited general strike hitting the bourgeoisie at the heart of the capitalist social relation, in corporations and the Public Service, would be a decisive step towards the extension and radicalization of the Yellow Vests movement.
Meanwhile, the unions refuse (obviously!) to call for this kind of strike in sectors of activity where their influence remains significant (Public Service, large private corporations), and have drafted – at the government’s request – a communiqué condemning the violence… of the Yellow Vests!
Political parties have not been left out. Leftist and far-left ones are trying to put out fires while proposing outdated solutions to the Yellow Vests (elections presented as a prelude to hypothetical “social” reforms in the case of victory). The openly reactionary parties (LR, RN), after having demagogically supported the movement by projecting their chauvinistic fantasies into it, panicked when the social question became central, and then applauded the police’s abuses and called for yet another strengthening of their repressive arsenal.
The latter, already widely used against the GJ (thousands of arrests and preventive controls, more than 800 prison sentences pronounced by the administration of “justice”, dozens of demonstrators mutilated for life by cops’ grenades and flash-ball guns…), is nevertheless constantly reinforced. This tells us something about the bourgeoisie’s suicidal determination to continue its policy of looting, like Laurent Nuñez, former head of the DGSI (political police) and now State Secretary, who claims that all demonstrators will now be considered by the public authorities as rioters.
Yet neither the use of soldiers, tanks and drones nor the lies of the press in the hands of billionaire bastards have succeeded in quelling the return of proletarian anger. Despite repression and propaganda, however, the bourgeoisie and their opinion poll organizations have had to recognize, with horror, that one person in two in this country still supports the yellow vests and even worse that 50% of workers and employees want a revolution (IFOP poll for Atlantico, March 2019)!
From France to Sudan, from Algeria to Hungary, the exploited are waking up and face the same repression from the watchdogs of the bourgeoisie.
The latter, behind its various masks (religious, secular, democratic, nationalist…), has everything to lose. We have nothing to lose but our chains. It will be us or them.
(April 22nd, 2019)
Yellow vests (or not)
For a combative May Day
Anti-capitalist direct action
The powerful social movement which shakes France, known as the “yellow vests”, is now entering its sixth month of continuous struggle, with, of course, its heterogeneity and confusion, but also with its refusal to comply with the law and the bourgeois order, to be framed by political parties and trade unions, with its refusal of any representation or delegation of its power of action, with all its strength and determination, thus somewhat challenging the general characteristics of proletarian struggles as they have developed in recent decades.
Ü And this, in spite of the police repression: the hundreds of serious injuries, the demonstrators who lost an eye or a hand, the traumas caused by brutal beatings, the thousands of grenades of all types fired at marches, the utilization of weapons of war and armored assault vehicles against demonstrators, the thousands of arrests, the raids in train stations and tens of thousands of preventive controls on demonstration days, the closure of assembly areas, the deployment of soldiers from (the so-called “anti-terrorist”) Operation “Sentinel” into the apparatus for the maintenance of bourgeois order, the displacement of roundabout occupations and other places of struggle, of discussion and organization of the movement.
Ü And this, despite the judicial repression: hundreds of immediate prison sentences, thousands of suspended prison sentences issued as a form of warning, bans on demonstrations, the “Anti-Riot Act”, and the house arrests.
Ü And this, despite the journalistic repression: all the lies published in the rags of the ruling class, only good for lighting a fire, all the class contempt that the journalists-cop stooges and other ideologues of the state express towards us, we “the rogues”, “the vile populace”, “the plebs”, “the scum”, “the rabble”, we proletarians.
Ü And this, despite repression by trade unions: these State agencies (which are no longer, or never even had been of the workers) whose essential mission is precisely to prevent and, if necessary, to control, suppress, to legalize and sidetrack onto a harmless path the explosion of our devastating rage as infuriated proletarians, who, whether we are wearing yellow vests or not, are fighting against the exploitation and misery.
Ü And this, despite the haughty contempt displayed by most of the ultra-left sects (self-proclaimed “left communist”), for whom, atop their ideological pedestal and filled with their complacency and arrogance, the “yellow vests” movement does not embody the “purity” of the proletariat of which they dream of being the “beloved leaders” leading their docile flock over the right path of the “bright future” of “real socialism”.
Ü And this, despite all the other traps, false solutions, and phoney alternatives, which are put in our way: “participative and direct democracy” (RIC and other bullshit), for example, will only allow the oppressed to participate better and more openly in their own oppression. It is in fact the whole system of (bourgeois) politics and the capitalist social relations that go with it, that must be turned upside down, eradicated, annihilated, erased and destroyed, that must be removed and not reformed.
Basically, “we are not French; we are not the people; we are not citizens; we are the proletariat”. We are the coming revolution; we are the final solution to all the social contradictions that divide humanity into two classes with diametrically and viscerally antagonistic interests: the holders of private ownership over the means of production against those dispossessed of the means of existence, which they want to re-appropriate.
Nobody will be surprised therefore, in sight of the development of these struggles, that this year, May Day will probably be more virulent, more radical, and therefore more violent than ever before, thus expressing what this symbolic day historically represents at the international level: a day of struggle and combat of the world proletariat that has its origin in the massacre of our comrades, workers and anarchist communists during the events in Haymarket Square in Chicago (USA) in 1886.
Already some “black blocs” are calling to mobilize in Paris, “for a yellow and black May Day”, in conjunction with the most radical sectors of the “yellow vests”: “This May Day will be a day of struggle. A day in hell for the people who will defend the system. But for us (…) this day will be festive, a day to express our fury and our rebellion. A day in which destiny will shift.” (“Black Bloc France”, April 9th, 2019)
We do not believe that the material conditions and struggles as they are today have reached such a maturity that “destiny will shift”. Nevertheless, if on this May Day some streets and bourgeois districts of Paris and other cities of France and Navarre are engulfed in flames of the righteous and healthy anger of our class… if luxury shops are looted (like during the sacking of the Champs Elysées on March 16th) and the commodity, if not abolished, is at least redistributed among “the wretched of the Earth” (reappropriation of social wealth produced by us proletarians)… if the armed mercenaries in the pay of the capitalist class finally get what’s coming to them and are forced to retreat or desert (as did the cops who defected with their weapons to the insurgent proletariat’s side in Bolivia in 2003)… then there’s nothing more normal and logical, nothing more than sane and healthy. It would even be distressing if none of this happens. But it would also be equally distressing (for other reasons, of course) and damaging for the rest of our movement of opposition to the present state of things if simply all this were to happen and if it were left at that, if we were to limit ourselves to a class violence that might turn into a spectacle of violence, if we were not to go any further, if we were not to deepen the gap, the chasm that separates us from them, us being humanity in struggle and them being the capitalists and their world, made up of misery, exploitation, war and suffering.
What the “yellow vests” movement of struggle (and more generally the proletariat) needs most is not the endless repetition, “Act” after “Act”, Saturday of protest after Saturday of protest, of the same confrontations with repressive forces trained to play “cops and robbers” (although we do not mean to indicate any opposition to the violence of our class against the forces of Death), but what we need is really to develop our perspectives, our ruptures and radicality towards this world, to break the cohesion of the cops and gendarmes who repress us, to hunt down the masters who govern us even in their unassailable fortresses, to set fire to their palaces and castles, to knock down the citadels of profit, to pillage their banks, to block the whole economy, to dissolve their rate of surplus value and at the same moment our exploitation, to organize the genuine strike of our class: the insurrectionary general strike, etc.
As long as these essential points are not addressed, as long as a practical response is not put forward and assumed as such, i.e. as a total negation of the present state of things, then the emergence of a new world that we (we proletarians) all have to win, and the affirmation of the course of things to come will only be pure speculation.
So, until the bad times are over…
Yellow vests (or not), black blocs (or not)
For a combative May Day, Anti-capitalist direct action
(May 20th, 2019)
Gilets jaunes’ National Call-out // Sunday 26th May: To the streets during the elections!
(Gilets jaunes from Toulouse)
Following the call-out by the Assembly of Assemblies of Saint-Nazaire for action and mobilization during the European elections, we call for regional coordination in order to take to the streets during the electoral masquerade on Sunday 26th May in all the major cities: there where most of the polling stations are concentrated.
For all those who cannot go to the international demonstration in Brussels, we urge them to head for their nearest major city to march and to take to the streets.
All elections are dead ends and the movement has known this from the beginning: we avoided all the pitfalls that have been set for us (co-optation by the government, appointment of representatives, manipulation by parties or unions, division between good and bad “Gilets jaunes”, etc.). We will never fall again into the election trap that […] only serves to reinforce the power of those who have a party apparatus, an enormous social and financial capital, relays in the media, etc. and certainly doesn’t serve the interests of “those who are nothing”.
Because the State serves the economy, not the other way round! It is the armed wing that protects the interests of those who make their fortune by trading our means of subsistence (food, shelter, clothing, transportation, health care, education). It is in the pay of multinational companies that do not care about life and what people think about it. Their only goal is to enrich themselves by exploiting us through wage labor, by making us sick through hard work that makes no sense and by polluting and destroying the planet. No political decision can therefore overthrow the economy, because the economy is the political project of any modern State: a project aiming at behavioral discipline to make every moment, every fact and every action productive, profitable and controllable. And no elected official, no parliament, can really oppose it. Let us remember Greece and the humiliation it suffered when it dared to believe that an elected government could fight the European Central Bank and the IMF! The Greek people were bled dry and the elected government, despite all its good will, was humiliated and fell in line (austerity measures, etc.)
We therefore take note that real politics, which we have been pursuing for the past six months, begins with blockades and direct attacks on the economy.
On May 26th, we are therefore taking action: the electoral masquerade is over. We will no longer participate in it. And beyond that, we will no longer allow these moments of massive propaganda to pass quietly, moments which are aimed only at justifying the established order and providing it with a legitimacy that is nothing more than a lie.
We do not want elections or representatives. We no longer want to be governed. We no longer want to be “represented”. We do not want to take power, we do not want “more” power, we want to remove power. And instead we will embody politics directly, without intermediaries or polling stations. Popular wisdom, workers’ and militants’ organizations, roundabout occupations, have developed other political forms (assemblies, imperative and revocable mandates, rotation of tasks, workers’ councils, etc.). Through blockades, occupations, yellow demonstrations, etc., we will continue to fight against the economy that is chaining us and to occupy the “public” space in order to continue to take back control of our lives. The elections are cancelled.
Material and Political Autonomy!
Gilets jaunes from Toulouse
(May 21st, 2019)
[Gilets jaunes Rungis Île-de-France] Don’t vote, fight!
(Collectif Gilets jaunes Rungis Île-de-France)
On Friday, May 17th, Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, talked about us again.
As usual, he talks about us to shut us up.
But we’ve been around for six months.
We emerged from the backwoods; we overcame our sense of resignation.
For the last six months, the president has wanted us to go home, calm down, fall in line.
But despite our differences, despite our heterogeneity (or perhaps thanks to it, to a certain extent?), we are still there.
He said he had “provided answers to the French on what had led to this movement”.
Two possibilities, one answer:
A- Macron is stupid.
B- Macron thinks we’re jerks.
Answer B of course. Macron is not stupid, he is simply greedy for power and like any good leader, like any bourgeois, he seeks above all to preserve his privileges, those of the possessing class.
However, our main demand has been clear from the beginning: MACRON RESIGN.
Macron adds that for “those who continue today [to protest], there is no longer any political outlet”. He calls for “calm”, encourages everyone to “return to normality” and “to express their differences of opinion (…) in the times provided for by democracy, those of elections”. If we no longer have any “political outlet”, why should we vote? Hmm?
We have been saying this since the beginning of the movement: we do not want a change of political staff, we do not want to replace Macron with Le Pen or Mélenchon or anyone else. We want something else. We do not need a boss, a leader; we do not want representatives, opportunistic careerist puppets to set up a new party. It has been said since the beginning: our movement stands outside institutional politics, outside the parties, outside the trade unions; we do not want to become “social partners” of the power who only serve to strengthen the democratic image of the system and preserve the established order.
The lists labelled “Gilets jaunes” for the European elections are nothing but pure political manipulation. These are attempts to kick us into line, just like the so-called representatives of the Yellow vests who declare demonstrations in advance to the prefecture. All this is aimed at a return to normality through something other than the policing method: what is being sought is the maintenance of public order by simply changing a few faces.
But we do not want a few crumbs reluctantly dropped by the political power, we want a social revolution. Radical change, which is beyond us as much as Macron (he who would like us to limit ourselves to dialogue with his subordinates, to create electoral lists, to perpetuate the system against which we are struggling…).
Exploited and dominated here and on the other side of the world by the same politicians, the same capitalists, our prospects for social change are not “simple”, because everything has to be overthrown, here and elsewhere. Our solutions do not fit into the system’s legal boxes and we understood that the government would put obstacles in our way at each autonomous initiative, at each moment that slips out of its control. But we will not give up: assemblies, occupying roundabouts, building huts, demonstrations, actions of all kinds, we are now living through the struggle against this system based on social inequalities, but we are also living through mutual aid, self-organization and social experimentation.
We are the present and the future.
On May 26th, we’re not gonna vote.
We have much better things to do!
May 2019, Paris,
Collectif Gilets jaunes Rungis Île-de-France
Original in French: https://paris-luttes.info/gilets-jaunes-rungis-ile-de-france-12205?lang=fr
(May 25th, 2019)
Is the yellow vests movement revolutionary?
(Rouen dans la rue)
Revolution, counter-revolution, insurrection, normalization, and election in the yellow vest movement(s).
The yellow vest movement is weaker than ever, although there are still beautiful pockets of resistance that continue to exist, and the demonstrations remind Macron of how much we appreciate him and his politics. The issue of elections (European elections but not only) has become increasingly prominent in discussions and in communication. This is an opportunity to revisit this unprecedented movement, its revolutionary force, and what has come to break it and moreover to contain it.
Mass and force.
Six months ago, the movement of the yellow vests began with massive and unprecedented determination. The occupations of roundabouts, economic blockades and undeclared demonstrations in Paris and the provinces, which often turned into riots punctuated by clashes with the police, barricades and targeted destruction, gave this movement a tone that has to be described as revolutionary or insurrectional.
A hint of revolution.
The word revolution was moreover on everyone’s lips and mind. But for once it wasn’t an empty word or a professional militant’s fantasy. The symbols of the French Revolution were immediately taken up again: the French flag, and the Marseillaise of course, which was no longer sung in a nationalist and patriotic spirit dear to the far right but for the revolutionary energy it expresses.
Dummy guillotines appeared on many roundabouts and simulated beheadings were staged in different places.
A matter of a final straw.
Everyone agreed that this matter about taxes was just the last straw that broke the camel’s back. And ultimately it was against Macron and the contempt of the political elites that the yellow vests rose up, as well as against a political system that, under the guise of democracy, in fact leaves us powerless, as much as against an economic logic that allows a few to accumulate obscene fortunes while it leaves the grand majority to be crushed by precariousness. If the revolution always refers to the idea of rupture, it was indeed a logic that Macron embodied perfectly which the yellow vests wanted to break with, more or less confusedly. Breaking with the contempt of the ruling classes, breaking with the politics of politicians, breaking with the misery that the latest generation of capitalism promises to the common people.
Preventive counter-revolution and serial mutilation.
It was definitely in response to this insurrectionary surge that the government dropped its first crumbs. Abolition of the carbon tax, a false revaluation of the minimum wage [SMIC] via an activity bonus for only certain people, and finally cancellation of the increase in the Social Security Contribution [CSG] rate for some pensioners. By playing the “I understood your desire for dialogue” card, Macron launched that gigantic operation of communication, of trickery and finally of propaganda – the great debate. How much did it cost? 12 million euros for new crumbs which evidently satisfied no one. A huge flop.
Yet meanwhile and as always in order to deal with this surge, the government decided to put its mechanisms of repression into motion, both the policial and judicial, with a violence unheard of under the reign of the 5th Republic, with the exception of the colonies. We have indeed been subjected to a flood of counter-revolutionary and counter-insurgency measures over the past 6 months. 3,830 wounded, 8,700 detained, 13,460 flash-balls [LBD 40] fired and 1,428 instant tear gas grenades [GLI-F4] fired, according to the Ministry of the Interior. The “demo-wounded” and other busted faces (akin to war-wounded), the “mutilated as an example” as states the name of a collective of the wounded, will be a living testimony to that for the rest of their lives.
Tension between insurrection and normalization.
There are obviously contradictions, tensions absolutely natural for a revolt that is far from being homogeneous and which is pervaded by desires and discourses, different ways of doing things, different forms of organization and various tactical orientations. First of all, there is a tension between the initial revolutionary power of the movement and that which relates to its normalization or even neutralization. On the one hand, there is the number and the determination of those who have been at the blockades since November 17th, the disorderly and spontaneous anger of those who attack tollgates and public buildings, like in the prefecture of Le Puy en Velay, or even those who want to get into the Elysée at any cost. There’s the crazy days of November 24th, of the 1st and 8th of December that turned into popular uprisings and which wanted nothing else than Macron’s resignation. The movement is not sure where it is going, but this could be the condition for it to go as far as possible. In any case, it is this strength that has weakened and shaken the power and has wrested a few crumbs.
On the other hand, there is what we call the splines of normalization. Very early on there was an effort to obtain the support of certain elected officials by sending them lists of grievances or even requesting their endorsement. Clearly and rationally formulated demands then emerged, focusing on fiscal (restoration of the solidarity tax on wealth [ISF]), social (increase of all minimal social services) and political (“Citizen’s Initiative Referendum” [RIC]) demands. The latter captured considerable energy (a petition, a conference, etc.) and became the miracle solution to all our problems. But if it expresses a legitimate desire to make our own decisions about what concerns us, it actually deprives us of the temporality of the balance of power in which we are engaged, while making us dependent on institutional mechanisms. Let’s suppose that the balance of power was favorable, it would have taken months before the RIC was enshrined in the constitution, and more months before a first RIC be put to the vote.
At the same time, moderate yellow vests left the movement (RIP Jacqueline); others created parties or set up lists for the European elections (Ingrid Levavasseur) and were often swept aside, rejected by the yellow vests, while others still persist in declaring demonstrations in negotiation with the authorities to even further pacify the movement.
War and peace.
A sign of this tension is the opposition between “pacifism and violence”, which is an abstract, empty and actually moralistic opposition. The issue of violence is always poorly addressed. Firstly, because the primary violence is that of the State and its police. And the pacifism of many yellow vests quickly broke down under the blows from truncheons and flash-balls. Secondly, if there are people who call themselves pacifists and supporters of non-violence, there is no one to present themselves as violent and non-pacifist. It is not a question of being for or against violence, but of grasping this hard fact: there are situations where popular anger is expressed in a violent way and there is nothing anyone can do about it. It is important to recognize that this violence is legitimate and productive, as is confirmed by a minimal attention to history. The violence of yellow vests was such a case. You don’t make a revolution by posting stickers even if of course this violence can be terrifying. And unfortunately, it is not the current dynamic that will allow us to obtain anything. […]
No one knows how this yellow vest movement will turn out. Several possible futures are emerging. The future through associations, the classically political and electoral future. In some places, yellow vests are organizing themselves in concrete terms and they are maintaining collective and solidarity-based forms of life that remind us of ZAD. The anger and frustration of having obtained so little in addition to the final disavowal of the political community could also reinforce the desire for fascism that always arises in times of crisis. But it is also possible that the hot embers will turn into a devastating fire again at the next provocation by Macron or his replacement. Because what we have experienced with the yellow vests resembles nothing we have ever known. Though we have obtained little, we have won a lot.
We have broken the atomization and loneliness that this world reserves for us. We got together and experienced our collective force while discovering solidarity, fraternity and communal life. We have occupied, blocked, demonstrated and attacked the symbols of power. That power trembled and tottered under the wrath of a strange folk who invented themselves under our astounded and laughing eyes. The people of the roundabouts. Symbolically at least, we defeated and destroyed Macron.
Without any doubt, this movement is historic. It is indeed a force, and one of revolutionary desires, which the yellow vests have brought to life. An insurrectional force intersected by the logic of normalization and of pacification. A force that crashed against the repression of the State. We will never forget it as we will never forget the joy we experienced in assessing our collective power. We are on the right track.
Aouh! Aouh! Aouh!
(July 31st, 2019)
Let’s be proud of what we are
(Yellow Vests from Place des Fêtes)
On July 27th, the Yellow Vests marched throughout France for their 37th Saturday of mobilization.
37. There is something unprecedented about that. Why still mobilize after 37 Saturdays? Some say that we will not “win” anything. They regret that we are exhausting ourselves in these endless demonstrations; they call for other forms of action, for us to take a firmer line, get structured, build on new foundations, and reinvent ourselves. In short, they want us to change at any cost.
However, far from being a failure, these 37 Saturdays are really an amazing feat. This is an achievement and something we can be proud of. In the heat of the summer there were only one thousands of us in Paris, marching all afternoon. The procession was surprisingly optimistic, as if we were amazed (and joyful) that we still existed.
Faces of passers-by were reflecting surprise this Saturday. They stared wide-eyed as we passed by. “What the hell, are yellow vests still around? Isn’t this old story over?”
Well, no, it’s not over. And that’s precisely what our Saturdays mean. That it won’t end.
“Faithful going to High Mass” was headlined a few weeks ago about us in a regional newspaper, with infinite contempt.
“Meeting the last Yellow Vests”, headlined Libération a few days ago, appointing for the occasion its special envoys across the roundabouts in the same way as anthropologists would be sent out to Indian reserves. Under the writer’s pen the interviewed yellow vests were no longer men, but “fellows”.
The current system wants us to disappear. Since November 17th, it has been determined to eradicate us. “So when is it to be?” it asks regularly.
“This has gone beyond a joke,” it says. Back to work, back to the real world, or in Macron’s Newspeak, back to “appeasement”.
They want to fossilize us, relegate us to the history books, and since it is impossible to totally deny our existence, since the first day they have been trying to turn us into ancient history.
“What the hell! Are the Yellow Vests still out there?”
Yes, little lady! Yes, my good sir. They still exist. They’re here in the flesh, outside your house. And they sing, all dressed in yellow.
We are not the last Gallic village, or veterans nostalgic for their acts of glory, as the voices of the system try to make us believe.
37 Saturdays. Our heads are regenerating as they are cut off. (It seems that the Hydra of Lerna has become a Yellow Vest.)
37 Saturdays. Phoenix of insurrections, we are rising from our ashes.
37 Saturdays. The guard dogs of the system can give it all they’ve got, they can wheel out their big guns. There’s nothing they can do about it. Something is smoldering and will continue to smolder.
When the fire is in the old wood, it cannot be put out.
37. We are and will remain the nightmare of the supporters of law and order (who are always the supporters of the established order).
37. We are a tough weed with invisible roots, which grows back twice as strong every time they try to pull it up.
Why then continue to demonstrate? Because our Saturdays are already emancipation, days torn away from the monotony of weeks. They have a special color and smell, made of adrenaline and excitement. They allow us to remember our struggle, to see together in processions that our determination is intact. In that sense, there’s some something ritual about them. Like a great revolutionary mass.
37. 37. 37. We are a shipment of explosives left in an old dry wooden shed during a drought-ridden summer.
We are the embers on which you are blowing with every new scandal, every budget cut, and every act of police brutality.
Winter Yellow vests… Summer Yellow vests… Autumn is coming, and we are back and remain intact, the flowers in the pallet truck.
The Yellow Vests declare themselves in a state of permanent revolt. Every Saturday we prove that our movement is not ephemeral. We will not go back home. Saturday’s demonstrations are a way of symbolically acknowledging that there is no turning back. That sooner or later, the conflagration will come. Until this society has collapsed, the Yellow Vests will continue to march. We keep alive at all times the spark of insurrection that will light the first fuse.
Because we are a harbinger. What is flanked by CRS vans, screaming “Macron resign!”, and what you can see through your windows, is not a procession. It’s a prophecy. The announcement of a major upheaval.
On Saturday, the eldest member of the procession was 74 years old. This is a man who has been pounding the pavement since December, always armed with his megaphone, in which he screams relentlessly: “Macron in jail”. The youngest was a 13-year-old schoolboy, who stumbled upon a demonstration at the end of November while riding his scooter towards the Champs. The Yellow Vests became his second family.
There were people from all parts of society, from all worlds – there were all sorts of people except energetic businessmen. We are a heterogeneous crowd, bringing together those who you might think nothing could bring together. Nowhere in French society is there such a successful mix of populations. The Yellow Vests are the bugbears of various “experts”, as they are always several steps ahead, and they cannot be confined within any category. The crowd is so diverse, so unclassifiable, that it seems strange, even suspicious.
“But who are these people?” asks the onlooker. There are angry and idealistic people, many people who have suffered. Our only common feature: the thirst for justice. Soon, no matter how much you want it, you will no longer be able to despise us.
It’s been 37 Saturdays. And why not many more? There would be nothing ridiculous about the Yellow Vests marching for their 200th weekend. If that is what is necessary for the system to implode, we will do it.
“Work, consume and shut your mouth!” This is the magic formula that sums up our society. They want citizens who behave very well… But the Yellow Vests refuse to obey this injunction. They know that they live in a world that cannot go on any longer. We are not only fighting for a few euros on our paycheck, we are fighting against a system that is destroying our planet.
You don’t stay at home when your house is on fire.
This autumn thus promises to be very hot. Under the motto: “End of the world, end of the month. The same culprits, the same fight”, the date of Saturday September 21st is becoming already a new highlight. Let’s hope that there will be major demonstrations everywhere on the occasion of this 45th Saturday.
37. Yes, we’ll see the summer out. There is no longer any doubt about that. And if this 37th Saturday has a special meaning, it is to proclaim once again that something unsinkable is born.
Let’s be proud of what we are!
Yellow Vests from Place des Fêtes