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Yellow is not the color of Spring

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As long as these lines are written, the streets of Paris are still full of a varied crowd, full of dreams for a better world. But no faith and no dream ever brought paradise to Earth at once because a better world does not simply require the satisfaction of a pre-existing demand but the radical change in how people relate to each other. Revolution means changing social relationships qualitatively and not quantitatively. No revolution is political in the everyday meaning of the term. What can be said then about the so called yellow vests?

# 1

The Yellow vests are a known movement that has begun due to a raise tax on fuel with a direct impact on the lives of a large proportion of French residents. The increase in fuel prices is a phenomenon that increasingly raises the cost of reproduction to the consumer of the commodity fuel. Such an increase is clearly affecting the large – if not all – part of the working class, as this passage essentially means an indirect reduction in real wages. But the problem is that expensive fuels are a reduction in wages, especially for the working class, but are a reduction in consumer power for all in general, beyond the working class [1]. This is an issue best suited for front style, cross-class and anti-government alliances rather than for a clear class conflict. Especially since the tax is introduced by the government and its needs to cover budget instability, conditions show that the conflict was, is ,and will continue to be oriented against a government that “does not represent the people,” that is, it does not listen to the people’s needs. This was apparent from the outset, as the mass did not turn to the existing workers organizations, as they did not think the whole issue was a matter of some conflict with some employers or class.

# 2

Anti-government struggles are national struggles. In one way or another, they are calling the state on that it aborted its promise. Especially in France, this is made clear by the fact that while the state has been promoting  diesel fuel, and suddenly – on Macron presidency – it increases its price. Changing government is the goal of the movement, despite its diversity. Most of the causes and most of the demands of the movement are economic and go far beyond the tax increase. They concern years of economic problems that are boiling in French society and afflicting French citizens. As French citizens, they consider that no government recognizes in material level, what has been formally recognized to them politically: that as citizens in this country, they do have a future, they have an opportunity to live. What we need to understand – and so to leave behind the burden of an aging and extremely economically centered Marxism – is that economic causes and economic demands do not necessarily imply a revolutionary class struggle. They do not even imply classes. Class struggle can g on between fragments of classes, and can have a deeply reactionary character, especially when it is limited to meeting needs outside of it. Because then, it pre-determines the alliance with the one who will satisfy the request. At a time when entire societies, beyond class divisions, seem to be affected by government deficits, monetary devaluationss and debts, economic problems appear to be directly linked to the state. As what is at stake is the general context of bourgeois society, the more general way of its operation, there is a change in comparison to the past. The class difference is transformed into income competition, and income claims and income policies. Since the state is a general regulator of income and economic policies, and especially its governments, they each try to “patch out” problems arising from extraordinary measures and bills (the issue of decrees or special laws has grown almost all over Europe) [ 2], then the perception that the problem of the devaluation of purchasing power lies in the lack of democracy, and the government, is reinforced. The new “income” discourse that emerges brings together individuals of all classes who see precisely the possibility of suspending the measures in the cross-class front and redistribution. These alliances are already an empirically prepared ground for the triumph of national ideology.

# 3

The transformation of struggles into an issue of income competition shifts the targeting of movements to extreme income disparities that are thought to “hurt” the smooth functioning of the market or the state: the aim is to critisize the “elite.” [3] This signifier is usually used to mean a wealthy bourgeoisie, which buys out politicians, has unjustifiably large capitals, monopolizes markets, and uses “fraudulent” plans to serve its interests. Also, this elite is international, a bourgeois class, undetermined, destroying not only France but many countries. In this case, which stems precisely from the income nature of competition, many different political agendas are confused in terms of eclectic affinity. Traditional Leninists agree with all sorts of conspiracy theorists and anti-Semites as their theories conclude on the “hidden nature of the elite that dissolves the political scene and the market.” In the narrative about the unjustified wealth of the elite and monopolies, the anarchist oversimplifications of the economy ends up close with all sorts of Keynesians who speak of proper redistribution, return to the nation state of the national economy. In the transnational character of the elites, Keynesians, nationalists, Leninists, and the anarchist theory of “locality” create a colorful platform of national narratives: the average dominant that comes out of it is not a critique of capital but a common desire for localization. This is what allows the movement of yellow vests to spread in many countries, to get “international” character without expressing some kind of internationalism [4]. It is rather the common trend of the nationalized working class in alliance with the small capital, the self-employed and the state employees to express a demand for a national economy. The very advanced economic demands of the French protesters may not be a sign of reconstituting a militant working class but of radicalizing – as a means of struggle – the cross class formations and incorporating the class agenda into wider social alliances.

# 4

Once the competitions get income-driven, as they have an enemy in the “high income” they have also one at the bottom. As the claim is to be imprinted in material, salary terms, the promise of civil identity, the person who does not have the right to live here, has no “share in the pie”.Protests, apart from minimal and politicized exceptions, are hostile to migrants.Migrants, irrespective of their number in the country, are considered to be a burden on the state and taxpayers. The only migrants who are in the country are those who are “french-ized” and have the right to live in France, a clearly state-owned right. Although the movement of yellow vests can hardly be accused of widespread racial racism, it is based on something equally dangerous, the state separation of legal and illegal, unnecessary and useful migrants. This rhetoric is over and above reactionary and it draws the dividing political lines between “progressive and reactionary” across Europe. Economic demands, precisely because they are economical at a time when the vision of communism has been lost by the collective unconscious, have a purely defensive character, defined by the economic policy of the state, which, if it is to satisfy them, must first of all exist. [5]. The struggles of Kiev, the squares and the vests of France show the wretchedness of the nationalized working class, in a world of equally shameful classes not its grandeur. The times when revolt as a practice was the exclusive field of communist practice have passed.

# 5

Violent conflicts on the road are not proof of radicality. Revolution or revolt means a radical change in the ways of social intercourse. As much as we see smoke in the streets, and if we identify with the image of a protester in a mask struck by security and order forces, identitifcations are always fictitious and precarious. We project what we know in our society by that symbols “mask, breaking, blocking the road” and yet the motives and the effects of these images and actions in another society in an other moment are very different from Greece. Behind the mask may be the worst fascist, who hates the “state of the traitors of the nation”. We already know from the sad example of Kiev that there is less meaning in conflicts, and more in the common experiences of these conflicts among the subjects. In an event that nationalists, petty bourgeois, self-employed and anarchists fight together with the police, what wins over is national ideology, not necessarily as an ideological hegemony,  Gramsi style, but in terms of functioning, in terms of experience: nationalism is unity, and its memory of unity, by heterogeneous bourgeois subjects. Nationalism is based on the always fragile but successful tolerance between contradictory categories. And as long as this unity is kept functional, its internal tension is channeled to a different one: the Elite and the migrants, the two faces of “internationalism”.Nationalism as a function is co-existence within a square or a street, of all bourgeois identities as what they are. Joint attacks on police by anarchists, nationalists, petty-bourgeois and workers points to this direction. [6]

# 6

The revolution is profound in the defeat of the uprising of income. Extensive destruction in terms of value, street blocking and etc should not be underestimated that they may trigger developments that are not visible. Also the opportunity for expropriations, although very small, is definitely a positive phenomenon. [7] However, based on what we now see, we can say the following: If the yellow vests are defeated, in the sense that some requests are satisfied while others are unsatisfied, it is more likely that the course will take a class revolutionary character. For example, demands for high salaries are more versatility over the momentum of events than what is actually claimed. Nonetheless, if this request really remains, it will surely face hostility even from the petite capital. Even then, the remaining people on the streets, they will have to face a major problem: on the one hand, the decrease in their numbers, as a large part of the mass that will leave the front style movement that exists now and gives itself momentum, on the other hand the terribly difficult encounter in real material terms with the immigrants, as in each case seems to be out of the stakes.

# 7

State, counter-revolution and capitalism outweigh the class and radical analysis on one thing, and Macron seems to know it: unlike the radicals trying to find history in a well-hidden cause, which is the deeper truth of the social mechanism, capitalism takes into account the fatigue, the frustration, the hope, the fear and the transient life. It knows that the few promises, half concessions, lot of violence and the lost salary for days, weigh on the back of even the most life-giving hope. What pulls people out on the street, pain and fear, these can bring them back in, the revolutionary bet is precisely this uncertain tide. The bet in its heart is this one: which pain is greater that of the present or of the future? Most of the times, it is better to live a little, than not live at all. Those who are not living at all, for whom there is nothing to lose but their “chains,” have not been heard at all in this rebellion. So far.

Notes.

[1] https://earther.gizmodo.com/frances-gas-tax-disaster-shows-we-cant-save-earth-by-sc-1830877858 .

The bill was proposed based on the shift to “green energy” although it obviously had other incentives, and rather no environmental benefit. But this is not immediately understood in the part of those working with diesel and wanting to continue because of low cost. They reacted to the increase by defending their lives without being concerned of course for the environmental benefit or not. So another problem arises: within capitalism, non-devaluation of the working class may be incompatible with environmental issues. This, on the one hand, shows that the solution to environmentalism is also the solution of capitalism as a whole, but until this happens, perhaps a question of priorities inside the struggles arises, with the working class appearing here more conservative than progressive.

[2] https://iapp.org/news/a/2018-global-legislative-predictions/ .

[3] https://voiceofeurope.com/2018/12/europe-is-on-the-brink-of-a-working-class-revolution-against-globalist-governments/

[4] https://voiceofeurope.com/2018/12/revolutionary-scenes-as-yellow-vests-movement-spreads-over-europe/

[5] https://www.doctv.gr/page.aspx?itemID=SPG12699. Of course, it is worth noting here that we do not know how many and exactly who are making demands at this stage. However, the attempt on the list to be all represented is indicative of a chauvinist climate. Some requests are purely nationalistic. On the other hand, the financial demands could be comfortably a list of a Strasser or Popular Right.

[6] http://lahorde.samizdat.net/2018/11/24/gilets-jaunes-ni-macron-ni-fachos/ , http://autonomies.org/2018/12/the-uncertain-tides- of-insurrection-the-yellow-west-protests-of-france / and https://www.rt.com/news/445352-police-union-yellow-vests-france-macron/ . For an example of an analysis that is looking to rely on a classical class-request analysis, here it is https://jacobinmag.com/2018/11/yellow-vests-fuel-prices-france-protests

[7] For a very general picture here https://www.thelocal.fr/20181204/opinion-why-frances-yellow-vest-protesters-are-so-angry

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