The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Two Lessons from France’s Yellow Vest Protests

So, the Yellow Vests in France have French President Macron scared, and he has given to some of their demands, including raising the monthly minimum wage and getting rid of the diesel tax which sparked the original protests.

Joe Penney at the Intercept has a good overview of the current state of play, which I encourage you to read.

What I want to discuss, however, is WHY they are having some success where unions, for example, could not stop Macron.

No Centralized Control

The great weakness of modern unions is leadership, bank accounts, and law. They are easy to break if the state cooperates with corporations, or even by the state alone. You can bribe the leadership, you can scare the leadership, or you can break the union.

Because unions have things like headquarters, leaders, and bank accounts, the state can simply take all of those things away any time it wants to if the unions don’t have enough internal support in the government to prevent it.

This matters because unions tend to have centralized leadership: Take out the leadership, get rid of the strike funds, and the union can be broken.

The Yellow Vests have none of this. What tiny leadership they have is exercised through some Facebook pages. They have no united bank account, no buildings, no strike funds, etc. They cannot be broken by a strike on a few people and some pooled resources.

Instead the, Yellow Vests are just whoever wants to show up for any given protest and put on a yellow vest. This causes some problems, yes, but it means that they cannot easily be taken out.

Scare The Opposition (State/Corporate) Leadership

Why is Macron giving in to some demands? Well, perhaps because he’s scared (and, I suspect, personally a coward, which he has struck me as from the first.)

During the January 5 edition, protesters commandeered a forklift and broke open the office door of Macron spokesperson Benjamin Griveaux, forcing him to flee through the back entrance, while an ex-professional boxer was filmed punching and kicking a gendarme. Some reports have stated that Macron is worried for his personal safety. In December, protesters attempted to break through police lines that were guarding his home in Touquet, and his wife’s family has voiced concerns that their chocolate shop in their hometown, Amiens, will be attacked.

Cue laughter, because I have no sympathy for Macron or his lackeys. (I have a little sympathy for his family, but not much. I’ll discuss this further in a bit.)

Here’s the thing: Most protests get nowhere because they threaten no one and nothing. The elite, being rich and powerful, can wait out those harmless protests they cannot buy, scare, or break. They know it.

This is why the union protests against Macron also failed. He just waited them out. Unions cannot tell their members to try to attack political leaders. (Though sometimes such things happen and are “regrettable” and a good union then makes sure the people who did it have good lawyers.)

Macron is scared. He is scared for himself. For his family. For his staff and probably for his friends.

There are people he cares about who could wind up catching a good beating or worse. (Given that the police have killed a number of protesters, please spare me any wringing of hands.)

Normally, no one a politician cares about is threatened. Protesters get beaten, maybe the occasional cop gets a beating (being a cop is NOT dangerous compared to most manual labor jobs so also spare me the hand wringing about people who beat people for a living, very occasionally getting beaten themselves).

But politicians and corporate leaders are safe. The protesters suffer, strikers lose money, etc, etc.

The Yellow Vests have threatened Macron. He is personally frightened, and he is giving in.

Always, always find a way to threaten your opponents directly if the stakes merit it. Find something or someone they care about and go after it.

Now, because many people are wringing their hands, let’s deal with that directly.

There is a great essay by Mark Twain called “The Two Reigns of Terror.” Please go read it.

Macron’s policies and those of France’s elites have made poor French and many middl-class French poorer for two generations now. Macron, in particular, has made it easier to fire people, raised regressive taxes, and broken unions. He is a neoliberal’s neoliberal who believes that a more precarious, poorer workforce will lead to prosperity. The fact that this ideology has been tried since 1979 and not worked does not stop ideologues like Macron. Clearly, they reason, if it hasn’t worked, it hasn’t been tried in a pure enough form.

Macron and the French elites’ policies KILL people. These deaths show up in the statistics. They don’t have dramatic pictures. But there are more suicides, poorer people die younger, people under financial stress drink more, beat their wives more, and so on.

Death and suffering is what neoliberalism causes. Macron is a murderer, in the name of an ideology which has never worked–despite being tried in most of the First World and much of the developing world.

So, if Macron is scared, and if a few of his relatives or friends or employees (all of whom are very well-looked after), happen to catch a bit of the violence flying around, so be it. It didn’t bother Macron that people were suffering and dying when they were people he didn’t care about.

The Future

The problem with the Yellow Vests, to my mind, is that while the protests include left, right, and the formerly apathetic, they seem to be resounding more to the benefit of the hard right than the left.

One of the things I have been watching carefully is where various countries are going to land as neoliberalism collapses.

There are three primary choices: populist left, populist right, or repressive surveillance/police state.

Right now, I think that the US and Britain have a good chance to land on the populist left. I thought France might, with Melenchon’s left-wing party being very close to LaPen in the last election.

But I am beginning to wonder.

One of the problems is that, fundamentally, if neoliberals are going down, they’d rather surrender to fascists than the left. The fascists will let them keep most of their money and power, and will break the unions for them, and so on. (The Nazis were not socialists, despite their name. Under their reign, worker wages dropped, and executive wages skyrocketed.)

So we’ll see how this all plays out. However it does, the lessons are clear enough.

Hit the “masters” where they hurt, and make sure you have no center to target that they can destroy or subvert.

And if you do get them on the ground, which the Yellow Vests have yet to do, keep kicking. Rest assured, they will keep kicking if they can get to you.

The results of the work I do, like this article, are free, but food isn’t, so if you value my work, please DONATE or SUBSCRIBE.


What the Huawei Row Portends for the Future of America, China, and Canada


The Coup Attempt in Venezuela


  1. Chiron

    Did your read the last Matt Taibbi column? The Neoliberals and Neocons will join forces during the next American election:

    “So, longtime Democratic Party advisers are once again triangulating against their party’s own progressive wing, which was the core strategy of the original “Third Way” Democrats in the early Nineties. Party leaders now want to kick out populist, antiwar liberals in the same way Frum once wanted to excommunicate antiwar conservatives.”

    “Just don’t be surprised if “liberal interventionists” are sitting in the White House once Trump leaves the scene. These are determined revolutionaries who’ve been scheming for years to throw a saddle on the Democratic Party after decades in bed with Republicans. Sadly, they have willing partners over there.”

    Fascists joining forces with Neoliberals has already happened in Brazil, everything approved by our Zionist overlords and their Evangelicals useful idiots.

  2. Hugh

    I think neoliberalism is working just as it was suppose to: to make the rich richer, defend the wealth they accumulate, and give a superficial philosophical gloss to the whole process. In short, neoliberalism as doctrine is a useful tool of class war.

    Macron may be scared but he remains one slippery customer. He proposed a national debate but his debate points seemed mainly aimed at trying to split the gilets jaunes. We can talk??? about immigrant quotas but not refugees. You can see this as an attempt at looking reasonable while casting the gilets jaunes as racist. Any tax cuts would have to be offset by spending cuts. The same kind of paygo that Pelosi has locked in to keep anything serious from being done. And no restoration of the ISF (impôt de solidarité sur la fortune), a tax on the rich. Macron replaced this a couple of years ago with his IFI (impôt sur la fortune immobilière), a real estate tax on the rich. You get the nature of the con here. Macron wants to tax your 2 million euro flat (IFI) while leaving that billion you have in the bank alone (which the ISF taxed).

    I would just note again the symbolism of the gilet jaune or gilet haute visibilité. This is about people who are invisible to the powers that be, the Macrons, the rich. They have to put on a high visibility vest, a gilet jaune, to be noticed by them at all.

  3. Willy

    If only there was a reliable Economic Justice For Angry Mobs handbook, with a chapter on making sure things end well in spite of “no centralized control”.

    I always saw neocon/neolib as two sides of the same coin anyways. The money trail always leads to “them”, regardless of how patriotic or common wisdom sounding their propaganda.

  4. I was in a labor union in the mid 1960s, and can testify as to the validity of the first two points. There was no strike fund and our leadership didn’t wear suits. They wore overalls and steel toed boots, and worked an eight hour shift right beside us.

    I recall standing outside the gates of a steel plant carrying an axe handle as we were told that we could not block the gate. We continued to block the gate. The first truck that attempted to leave with a load we turned back. The second one we flattened all of its tires, and told management the third would be burned to the ground. There was no third truck.

    Police said the they would fire on us and we pointed out how greatly we outnumbered them. “You will kill some of us,” we told them, “but we will kill all of you.” They gave in to our demands. Most of them anyway. The ones that mattered.

  5. rangoon78

    The World Socialist Web Site is reporting the jailing of a yellow vest who is prominent on Facebook. His crime: calling for the blockade of an oil refinery.
    French worker sentenced to six months’ jail over Facebook call for demonstrations – World Socialist Web Site

  6. jaratec

    As a foreigner living in France and not involved in politics, I can make a number of observations.
    First, the gillets jaunes came together as unified(?) consumer group. Previous protests of workers did not get enough traction. The violent groups that forced Macron into concessions are mostly far-right and far-left people.
    Second, there won’t be a (direct) carbon tax. The consumers are against it. By the way the gillets jaunes movement is styled after the bonnets rouges movement (which rose against the eco-tax, another attempt to put in place a carbon tax).
    Third, the gillets jaunes are pretty white, not many colored people among them (event though there are plenty of poor colored people in the suburbs). So, if they won’t organise themselves into a political party, they will be gobbled up by Le Pen and the far right.

  7. DVP

    “Zionists” Chiron?


    Why does an otherwise sensible comment have to end off on that pernicious crap?!

    Or was that the point entirely? Dangle the truth out there, knowing people are so utterly exasperated with not being able to state the baldly obvious that they aren’t going to feel inclined to call that last bit out. Then–bam–the entire commentariat can now be tarred as antisemetic, or as enabling antisemitism.

    In that case, it didn’t work.

    “Neoconservative” and “neoliberal” were synonymous up until 2000. The former term was more commonly used in North America, and somewhat less erudite. There was never any suggestion that the former somehow related specifically to geopolitics. Ontario’s Macron, Mike Harris, was invariably described at the time as a neoconservative, not a neoliberal. Canadian provinces don’t have foreign policy stances (well, unless they’re Quebec…)

    The idea that neoconservatism was some sort of middle-east policy stance and always had been was Iraq-war era propaganda messaging. If you repeat it here, you’re carrying Bush and Cheney’s torch here.

    (And for the record, most of my maternal grandmother’s side of the family died in Hitler’s camps.)

  8. DVP

    Oop, “…Iraq war-era…”

  9. so

    Gorilla insurgency campaigns are not won with large groups. Just sayin.

  10. RWood

    Macron may feel some frisson, but his real stiffness is apparent in a peer’s view, and the elites’ common antidote totroublesome proles:

    Last week, however, Luc Ferry, the education minister from 2002 to 2004 under conservative President Jacques Chirac, called for police to use live fire on yellow vest protests. “What I don’t understand is why we don’t give the police the means to put an end to this violence,” he told the “Free Spirits” programme on Classic Radio on January 7.
    Asked if this would require using live ammunition, he replied: “So what? Listen, frankly, when you see guys beating up an unfortunate policeman on the ground, that’s when they should use their weapons, once and for all! That’s enough.”

  11. Tomonthebeach

    Ian, one of the things you did not mention regarding union impotence is the lopsided talent problem. Who gets elected to run the union? Often it is the loudest hothead on the shop floor. This person is not likely to be Harvard law graduate or a DBA, but some guy who came up from the loading docks.
    Labor leaders nearly always lack strategic planning competencies needed to appreciate the unintended consequences for their members of a policy or deal they agree in writing to support.

    Mid-career, I worked 7 years in a large federal agency with the most pugnacious labor union in the US government. My job was to advise (via research) policy changes that would improve workforce morale and enhance efficiency and effectiveness too. Because we were a union shop, I always engaged top labor leaders from project start to finish. I briefed labor on the results – sometimes after I briefed top executives and sometimes when both were in the room. This often led to very productive dialogues which, ironically-but-not-surprisingly annoyed the hell out of the agency’s labor lawyers. After all, a happy workforce was not good for their job security.

  12. Hugh

    jaratec, about 40% of the gilets jaunes support Le Pen versus around 20% for Mélenchon. If any party wants their support, they need to ally with them. It wouldn’t be that hard. Adopt and fight for their concerns.

    They are fairly white because this is still largely a countryside versus urban affair, and the French countryside is whiter. Also there is an anti-immigrant component, similar to what we see in the US. Some racism but also their needs aren’t being taken care of, and it angers them resources are expended on non-citizens.

    After Macron gave the rich a big wet kiss tax cut, the carbon tax which was fundamentally regressive rankled everybody else. And it is important to recognize that the gilets jaunes are currently broadly supported in France.

  13. Troutcor

    How can you think America could crash-land left?
    I mean what was the response to Trump? A renewed commitment to economic and social justice?
    It was to embark on red scare!
    Tells you all you need to know.

  14. yourmom

    there are those options, and there is the future (this was the beggining, similar movements are spreading through USA)

    i think this information will be more than usefull to smart people.

    yes the point is to gather the intelligentsia under a single banner

  15. Hugh

    Troutcor, the Dems stand for nothing, the GOP stands for even less. The Dems govern badly and the GOP doesn’t govern at all. We are getting a parade of Dem candidates, but barely a word about what any of them stand and are willing to fight for. At the same time, the Republicans, like Lindsey Graham, Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, Mitch McConnell, and on and on play the independent pol one day and the Trump whore the next. We are miles down the rabbit hole, Trump is deeply nuts, tough guy Republicans and holier than thou evangelicals are dissolving along with their principles into a soupy goo, and the Democrats instead of fomenting revolution can’t say boo.

  16. S Brennan

    Agree* Ian;

    [Macron]…he’s scared…a coward. Most protests get nowhere because they threaten no one and nothing. [Neoliberalism] has been tried since 1979* and not worked anywhere.

    *Carter 1978, but I quibble

  17. Anon

    Hard to take some of you seriously when your worldview boils down to: “The Jews control everything.” Grow up. I know the world is too complex for you to grok, but do please try and keep up, just a little bit.

  18. S Brennan

    And while we are on the subject French elites, this article illuminates a rather dark corner of the French elites present & past….

    “France’s is severely addicted to looting and exploitation of Africa…this complete lack of creativity and imagination of French elite to think beyond [a colonial empire]…France has 2 institutions which are completely frozen into the past, inhabited by paranoid and psychopath “haut fonctionnaires”…they are the Minister of Finance and Budget of France and the Minister of Foreign affairs of France.”

    It is an edifying read of the horrific treatment meted out by France’s elite upon African colonies, [present tense intended]. Neocolonialism is the handmaiden of neoliberalism.

  19. yourmom

    “Hard to take some of you seriously when your worldview boils down to: “The Jews control everything.” Grow up. I know the world is too complex for you to grok, but do please try and keep up, just a little bit.”

    o please no, the zionists don´t control everything, they need freemasons conections (aka money+influence)

    and you still have China the colossus on the rise.

    if you think libertard “free market” isn´t plutocracy disguised, well you´re the one who don´t understand world and can´t be taken seriously.

    please don´t come up with political correctness try defend zionists or orthodox jews.
    sure a great part of intelectual world is due to jews ,kudos to them, but not zionists or orthodox ones.

  20. DMC

    Actually, Orthodoxy tends to be inversely proportional to Zionism. Zionism was founded as a secular movement. The Orthodox are the least likely to recognize the State of Israel and most likely to believe that such a state can only be founded by the Messiah.

  21. Willy

    Dennis Prager is a Jew. And he knows everything. He’s funded by a couple of fracking billionaire brothers. But maybe he’s made those plutocrats his bitch the way Israel’s made the USA it’s own bitch.

    Far saner is discussing how life has been made worse for the 99% after they gave up too much power to the 1%. And also what they’re gonna do when they start forming into angry mobs.

  22. Dan D

    “Right now I think that the US and Britain have a good chance to land on the populist left. ”

    Between Corbyn & Sanders, it’s going to be mighty disappointing if neither manages to capitalize on being so well poised to take power. I’d say Corbyn is closer to it, but Sanders is very plausible right now, if not the actual leader (assuming Biden’s support is inch-deep based on being Obama’s VP and dries up once he starts campaigning in his own right).

  23. WaitWhat

    The big problem with unions is that such a high proportion of their members are in the public sector.

  24. Hugh

    Waitwhat, in the US, there has been a war on unions that goes back to the Red Scares under Wilson where unions were split off from their underlying social movements. The modern phase of this war dates back to the late 1970s with the deregulation of airlines and trucking and anti-union legislation which Reagan used in 1981 to break the air traffic controllers union in the PATCO strike. So-called right to work laws, offshoring and free trade treaties also undercut private sector unions. Union corruption as with the Teamsters and straight on anti-union propaganda which portrayed union workers as arrogant and greedy and whose wage gains were somehow at the expense of non-union workers instead of actually raising overall wage rates, and so benefiting all workers. The co-optation of union leadership by the Democrats, the failure of the Democrats to support unions or push through basic legislation to facilitate unionization, like card check (under Obama). All these things decimated private sector unions.

    On the public sector side, teachers unions are not especially strong. About the only unions which still have teeth are police unions and these often use their power to defend bad cops and dubious policing practices.

  25. Billikin

    Waitwhat is right. We need more private unions.

  26. yourmom

    “Actually, Orthodoxy tends to be inversely proportional to Zionism. Zionism was founded as a secular movement. The Orthodox are the least likely to recognize the State of Israel and most likely to believe that such a state can only be founded by the Messiah.”

    that´s why the “state” of israel is full of orthodox religious freaks mumbling at a wall like low functioning autists.

    forget what they say ,see what they do.

    “Dennis Prager is a Jew. And he knows everything.”
    he is a right winger conservative, that means he knows nothing.

    “Far saner is discussing”
    why? do you think it´s insane being against zionists and orthodox jews?

    “But maybe he’s made those plutocrats his bitch the way Israel’s made the USA it’s own bitch.”
    more likely he is plutocracts bitch spreading disgusting ideology.
    not diferent than lobbyst,fox news or alex jones.

  27. Willy

    Something tells me that the American version of the Yellow Vests won’t all be running around dressed like orthodox Jews. They’d have to be called the “sidelocks and black puffy hat guys”, or something.

  28. DMC

    There’s plenty of Orthodox living in Israel who do not really recognize the state as such. Its most of the reason the haredim don’t want to serve in the army. Whether, and to what degree this makes them hypocrites is another matter. The deliberate conflation of Jewishness with Zionism only serves the reactionary forces on both sides but it certainly seems to be the popular trope these days. Its the flip side of “Anti-Zionism = Antisemitism”, which certain parties have pushing since approximately 1948.

  29. Willy

    Speaking of Jews, I never quite got Greenwald’s take on the Russia thing.

    Why is it so hard to explain to regular Joe voters (Joe, not Jew), that when establishment Dems screwed progressive Dems, we wound up with Trump and all of his establishment Russian connections. ?

    Glenn says the system was broke anyways, so who cares. But aren’t there are degrees of “broke” which as they get more and more serious, become increasingly intolerable for 99%er Americans?

  30. S Brennan

    “Why is it so hard to explain to regular Joe voters that when establishment Dems screwed progressive Dems, we wound up with…Russian connections.”?

    Why? Maybe…because it’s a lie. Hillary had more connections to Russia than Trump…not that I’m saying Hillary is a Putin puppet, anymore than Trump is, that type of nonsense is for children and for the children-of-the-corn who inhabit DC.

    Cui bono? The Russia story has been great for Hillary, she has escaped blame for being too lazy to campaign properly, her war crimes as SoS, her campaign crimes and besides, Hillary will rise to power through her puppet, Kamala Harris. So while Hillary has never been one to say thank you to the proles, she owes a big debt of gratitude to all the chumps that go out and sell the “Russia Story”.

  31. ponderer

    I see the strength of the yellow vests, in having no central leadership, as being inclusive of many different view points and groups. There are no Democrats with their identity politics, no republicans with their fear of the “other”. No MSM has been able to get them to hate each other so they fall apart. Basically, unlike most other movements (aside maybe OWS), they aren’t falling all over themselves to screw over some sub tribe to get ahead. There are no union leaders saying to TPTB “you can do what ever you want to the next generation, just give us what we want for ourselves.”

    If you spend too much time worry about whether the left or right will dominate, you forget that 99% of what people want, need is the same. There are basic rights, liberties that everyone deserves no matter how foul they might be, so that we all have a chance at happiness. MLK wasn’t a threat until he started looking at things from the view of everyone. Jesus, was dangerous for the same reason.

  32. different clue

    The spirit of this article seems correct. If a non-rich majority movement-load of people could credibly threaten upper-class-persons’ personal wealth, health, safety and survival without the upper-class-in-general being able to neutralize that threat; then the upper-class-in-general would give in on certain things.

    Here in America, if unorganized bunchloads of protesters tried using Yellow Vest methods on the agents of the upper class, or on upper-class people specifically; they would be suppressed beginning with modern versions of methods we have seen used here in the past. And if those methods didn’t work, the forces of upper class government would use al-Assad methods in this country. Would they win? Is it worth finding out?

    So if bunchloads of the non-upper-class majority wish to apply genuine force against the upper class, without leadership and without vulnerability to immediate suppression attacks; they may have to find other methods than the Yellow Vests use against other points of weakness in America which are not present in France in the same way.

    Perhaps an exploration of what those other weak-points and those other methods of attack are might be worth discussing. John Robb at Global Guerillas used to discuss this sort of thing back when he thought the anarchy-rebellion he stealth-hoped to stealth-foment would lead to the Total Runamok License of the Upper Class which he is pleased to call Libertarianism. Now that he sees open-source rebellion NOT leading to his Libertarian Paradise, he is concerned and fretful; though he still continues writing his general-principals cookbook posts on how to leaderlessly erode, attrit, and degrade a social target.

  33. S Brennan

    DC; we did have a yellow vest movement here in the US called “Occupy Wall Street” but…

    Obama, organized from the White House, a national police response that obliterated a genuinely peaceful group of demonstrators demonstrating against criminal behavior. And Obama performed this unconstitutional action to the sound of polite applause by “liberals”.

    EZ-rah Klein intoned, with all the gravitas that a child of the corn is capable of, that, the rounding-up, suppression, professional black-balling of those involved was actually good for the movement…yes, the effer really did say that. Now to be fair, to EZ-Rah Klein, Josh Marshal instructed his followers to clap louder and promised to “hold Obama’s feet to the fire” next time…or..well..someday.

    So the “modern” Democratic party is destroyed we can’t have even an attempt at some rough approximation of justice. There’s just too many mid-level suck-ups ready to betray people for a promissory note with 30 pieces of silver scribbled on it.

  34. NR

    S Brennan:

    So, we should all vote Republican to really teach the plutocrats a lesson?

  35. different clue

    @S brennan,

    Yes. We see how swiftly that was done.

    Reformationary Solutionists can try more Occupy Movements so more and more of the public can see how fast and hard they get suppressed. It would be a series of ongoing object lessons in what does not work directly. But the more people who find eachother and stay in touch with eachother at and after each new failed Occupy — both alone and in groups — the more thoughts and info about other approaches which might well work will be spread. So every suppressed Occupy becomes a Teachable Moment Opportunity.

    And at the same time, all sorts of people can suggest or even try all sorts of other pre-violent pre-illegal methods to undermine, weaken and extort concessions from the Ruling Overclass. This very thread might be a place for people to offer ideas on how to do that.

    I would not refer to the “modern” Democratic party as being a “modern” Democratic party as such. I think of the “modern” part which is currently in command as being a Stage Four Metastatic Malignant Clintonoma infestation, coupled with a heavy infection of Yersiniobama pestis bubonic political-plague germs. If SanderSocial Democrats and such can take over the Party long enough to apply all the necessary political Chemotherapy and Antibiotics so as to exterminate each, all and every Clintonoma cancer cell and Yersiiniobama pestis plague germ from out of the Democratic Party, then the Democratic party can be saved as against having to be destroyed.

    But yes, if it can’t be declintaminated and debamafied, then it will have to be locked up from the outside and set on fire to burn up and kill every political disease germ inside it, just as the Africans used to do with “plague huts” in old Africa.

  36. Ché Pasa

    The US has a history of monster demonstrations and protests that are either violently suppressed by the authorities and militias or which peter out relatively quickly from boredom and/or the problem of “getting nowhere.”

    Sometimes it seems like the more enormous the demonstration, the more it is ignored. On the other hand, tiny demonstrations by selected groups of malcontents are sometimes hailed as the Next Big Thing. These selected groups are almost always of the rightist persuasion. Funny how that works.

    Ah, it boils down to marketing, you see? Cui bono? What will sell, and who will it be sold to? In other words, protest a la gilets jaunes is certainly possible, and it could be effective in the US, but without a marketing hook, it would ultimately fail. It’s remarkably easy to ensure such failure, too.

    OWS started with a marketing hook, and that’s part of why it still resonates all these years later, both with those who favored and those opposed to it. It couldn’t be sustained in the public squares, not here and not in Europe, but it was only partially due to official violent suppression. Internal fractures had already weakened the movement. Of course some of those fractures were the work of provocateurs. Of which there were many.

    What happened to OWS was an example for the rest of the Rabble if they thought to get above themselves. And it wasn’t just in the US. Far from it. There were coordinated suppression efforts wherever the Occupy movement arose.

    But it is wrong to say that the Movement was utterly destroyed and is now gone. I still receive regular communications from OWS participants and a reorganized Movement. Many seeds were planted, and alternatives to the dominant social/political paradigm are everywhere. While the authorities made an example of the encampments, and they have not re-emerged as they were — and probably won’t — the ideas generated by and through OWS are now widespread and nearly mainstream.

    One of the lessons of both the OWS movement and the gilets jaunes is that you won’t get what you want/need through the political system as it is intended for other purposes, such as further enriching the already rich. No, for the kind of change that’s needed, one must work outside that system and most importantly, make it impossible for that system to function. Spanners in the works, bodies on the machines and all that. They’re not just metaphors.

    That can force the system to change, but fussing over the parties and voting per se won’t and can’t.

    Simultaneously, it’s necessary to create and maintain viable alternatives to the status quo at every scale possible. One reason otherwise marginal religious outfits tend to be successful is because they do that — they create and maintain alternatives as nearly independent as they can. On the other hand, they can fail, too. Oh, spectacularly!

    Clearly the political class and their owners have noticed there is discontent among the Rabble, and they’re pondering how best to address it. Macron is doing his part. Trump too. But from appearances, the Old Order is shuddering and perhaps on the verge of collapse.

    I don’t know what’s supposed to take its place.

  37. Sid Finster

    1. If Macron were to step down, his replacement is likely to be someone unacceptable to the French and European elites. Therefore, Macron will be allowed to do whatever it takes to hang onto power.

    If rubber bullets and flash-bang projectiles don’t do the trick, expect real bullets, tanks, or whatever else it takes.

    2. Romantic fantasies aside, revolutions don’t happen when the 99% overthrow the 1%, because the 1% will do whatever it takes to keep power. Revolutions happen when the 1% are divided amongst themselves.

    Take those maxims to heart.

  38. different clue

    I notice from articles at NaCap that the French Establishment has begun to speak of untying the police’s hands to carry out as much repression as needed, including instructional killings I suppose, to get the Yellow Vesters firmly rounded up and put back in their cages.

    One wonders how many Yellow Vesters the French Establishment can sport-murder before the rest of the Yellow Vesters begin to practice the kind of Area Denial Warfare referrenced by Ian Welsh in a long ago post . . . . to deny Metropole France from access to Hinterland France.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén