Yellow Vest Protests Against Social Inequality in France
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)
Inequality is institutionalized in America, Britain, France, and other Western countries. State-sponsored class war rages.
Ruling regimes prioritize wealth, power, and privilege over fundamental human rights, needs, and common decency. Ordinary people struggle to get by, conditions worsening, not improving.
America, EU countries, and Canada are being transformed into third world nations over the failure of wages to keep up with inflation, cuts in vital benefits, eroding social spending, increased privatization of state resources, offshoring of good jobs to low wage countries, deregulation, tax cuts for corporations and super-rich elites, along with harsh crackdowns against resisters.
Growing millions suffer from poverty, unemployment, underemployment, homelessness, hunger, and despair.
Western leaders are indifferent to what’s most important for ordinary people. Imperial priorities take precedence. So does redistribution of wealth to bankers, other corporate favorites, and super-rich elites.
State-sponsored neoliberal harshness-enforced social injustice is the root cause of yellow vest protests in France – unacceptably high fuel taxes symbolic of the overriding issue. French activists want liberte, egalite, and fraternite for real, not a meaningless gesture they reject.
On Tuesday, the Macron regime’s announced six-month moratorium on increased fuel taxes is way too little, too late, a statement by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe saying the following:
“Three fiscal measures were to enter force on January 1 next year…Having heard this demand expressed by almost all of the interlocutors I have met throughout consultations in the recent days, I am suspending for six months these fiscal measures.”
Protest leaders intend to keep up pressure on the Macron regime. Much more is at stake than high fuel taxes. Public rage across France is all about unacceptable social injustice.
Yellow vest protests began in mid-November for improved living standards, ending austerity, government transparency, and accountability to ordinary people, along with calls for the resignation of Macron and his hugely unpopular regime.
His public approval dropped to 23% from its post-election 62% high. He fell from grace over unpopular neoliberal spending cuts, along with waging war on workers.
He wants business more empowered to negotiate hours, pay and benefits, slash the number of worker committees, and limit penalties for wrongful dismissals – without union involvement, disempowering them, the gold standard for business, the worst one for workers.
He serves privileged interests exclusively at the expense of most others, the way things are in virtually all Western countries and most others elsewhere.
Resisting tyranny is a universal right, civil disobedience a vital way to get the attention of a nation’s ruling class when other methods fail – the way things are most often. Elements in power almost never yield anything unless forced.
Ordinary people are exploited in America, France, other EU countries and elsewhere. Sustained resistance for revolutionary change is the only viable option.
Hundreds of thousands in France are involved in yellow vest protests, class struggle ongoing elsewhere in Europe.
Calls in France for Macron to resign are growing, protesters holding signs saying “No to the president of the rich,” others chanting “Macron resign.”
Polls show overwhelming public support for protests after three weeks with no signs of ebbing. Hundreds of arrests haven’t deterred the will to resist social injustice.
Students joined others over Macron’s unacceptable restructuring of university admissions, mass teacher layoffs, and his intention to reinstitute conscription at a time when France’s only enemies are invented ones. No real ones exist.
Ambulance drivers joined others over deplorable working conditions. Public anger has been building for years in France and other EU countries – support by ruling authorities for predatory capitalism on trial.
Protests in France are the largest and most widespread since May and June 1968. Peaking then at around 10 millions workers, students and others, activists for change occupied factories, universities, and offices throughout the country, paralyzing it, nearly ousting the de Gaulle government.
Protesters demanded revolutionary change, including industrial democracy under the slogan “Be realistic. Demand the impossible!”
Change the way it should be was possible for a brief window of time. Had workers and students maintained pressure weeks longer, they might have brought down the government and headed France for real revolutionary change unlike before and since in Western societies.
The impossible is attainable when enough committed people demand no less. It didn’t happen in 1968 because energy waned like so often before and since then.
History has a disturbing way of repeating past mistakes. Activists in France again have a chance for historic change – only by committed resistance, accepting nothing less than social justice the way it should be.
Regime change begins at home. People have power when they use it to challenge authority disruptively.
It takes more than marches, rallies, slogans or violence. It takes sustained commitment, withdrawing cooperation, breaking entrenched rules, challenging reprisals, and staying the course.
Electoral politics achieves nothing. Entrenched interests yield nothing willingly. Community organizer Saul Alinsky was right, saying the way to beat organized money is with organized people.
Grassroots activism is powerful when rising up collectively, defying rules, disrupting the status quo, and demanding change the way it should be.
Hardships propel people to collective action. Mobilized disruptive power drives them.
Will protests in France be a defining moment, or will they wane achieving nothing but empty promises like earlier? The fullness of time will tell.
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