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The Indiscreet Charm of the Gilets Jaunes

CJ Hopkins

So it appears the privatization of France isn’t going quite as smoothly as planned. As I assume you are aware, for over a month now, the gilets jaunes (or “yellow vests”), a multiplicitous, leaderless, extremely pissed off, confederation of working class persons, have been conducting a series of lively protests in cities and towns throughout the country to express their displeasure with Emmanuel Macron and his efforts to transform their society into an American-style neo-feudal dystopia. Highways have been blocked, toll booths commandeered, luxury automobiles set on fire, and shopping on the Champs-Élysées disrupted. What began as a suburban tax revolt has morphed into a bona fide working class uprising.

It took a while for “the Golden Boy of Europe” to fully appreciate what was happening. In the tradition of his predecessor, Louis XVI, Macron initially responded to the gilets jaunes by inviting a delegation of Le Monde reporters to laud his renovation of the Elysée Palace, making the occasional condescending comment, and otherwise completely ignoring them. That was back in late November. Last Saturday, he locked down central Paris, mobilized a literal army of riot cops, “preventatively arrested” hundreds of citizens, including suspected “extremist students,” and sent in the armored military vehicles.

The English-language corporate media, after doing their best not to cover these protests (and, instead, to keep the American and British publics focused on imaginary Russians), have been forced to now begin the delicate process of delegitimizing the gilets jaunes without infuriating the the entire population of France and inciting the British and American proletariats to go out and start setting cars on fire. They got off to a bit of an awkward start.

For example, this piece by Angelique Chrisafis, The Guardian‘s Paris Bureau Chief, and her Twitter feed from the protests last Saturday. Somehow (probably a cock-up at headquarters), The Guardian honchos allowed Chrisafis to do some actual propaganda-free reporting (and some interviews with actual protesters) before they caught themselves and replaced her with Kim Willsher, who resumed The Guardian‘s usual neoliberal establishment-friendly narrative, which, in this case, entailed dividing the protesters into “real” gilets jaunes and “fake” gilet jaunes, and referring to the latter fictional group as “thuggish, extremist political agitators.”

By Sunday, the corporate media were insinuating that diabolical Russian Facebook bots had brainwashed the French into running amok, because who else could possibly be responsible? Certainly not the French people themselves! The French, as every American knows, are by nature a cowardly, cheese-eating people, who have never overthrown their rightful rulers, or publicly beheaded the aristocracy. No, the French were just sitting there, smoking like chimneys, and otherwise enjoying their debt-enslavement and the privatization of their social democracy, until they unsuspectingly logged onto Facebook and … BLAMMO, the Russian hackers got them!

Bloomberg is reporting that French authorities have opened a probe into Russian interference (in the middle of which report, for no apparent reason, a gigantic photo of Le Pen is featured, presumably just to give it that “Nazi” flavor). According to “analysis seen by The Times,” Russia-linked social media accounts have been “amplifying” the “chaos” and “violence” by tweeting photos of gilets jaunes who the French police have savagely beaten or gratuitiously shot with “less-than-lethal projectiles.”

“Are nationalists infiltrating the yellow vests?” the BBC Newsnight producers are wondering. According to Buzzfeed’s Ryan Broderick, “a beast born almost entirely from Facebook” is slouching toward…well, I’m not quite sure, the UK or even, God help us, America! And then there’s Max Boot, who is convinced he is being personally persecuted by Russian agents like Katie Hopkins, James Woods, Glenn Greenwald, and other high-ranking members of a worldwide conspiracy Boot refers to as the “Illiberal International” (but which regular readers of my column will recognize as the “Putin-Nazis“).

And, see, this is the problem the corporate media (and other staunch defenders of global neoliberalism) are facing with these gilets jaunes protests. They can’t get away with simply claiming that what is happening is not a working class uprising, so they have been forced to resort to these blatant absurdities. They know they need to delegitimize the gilets jaunes as soon as possible — the movement is already starting to spread — but the “Putin-Nazi” narrative they’ve been using on Trump, Corbyn, and other “populists” is just not working.

No one believes the Russians are behind this, not even the hacks who are paid to pretend they do. And the “fascism” hysteria is also bombing. Attempts to portray the gilets jaunes as Le Pen-sponsored fascists blew up in their faces. Obviously, the far-Right are part of these protests, as they would be in any broad working class uprising, but there are far too many socialists and anarchists (and just regular pissed-off working class people) involved for the media to paint them all as “Nazis.”

Which is not to say that the corporate media and prominent public intellectuals like Bernard-Henri Lévy will not continue to hammer away at the “fascism” hysteria, and demand that the “good” and “real” gilets jaunes suspend their protests against Macron until they have completely purged their movement of “fascists,” and “extremists,” and other dangerous elements, and have splintered it into a number of smaller, antagonistic ideological factions that can be more easily neutralized by the French authorities … because that’s what establishment intellectuals do.

We can expect to hear this line of reasoning, not just from establishment intellectuals like Lévy, but also from members of the Identity Politics Left, who are determined to prevent the working classes from rising up against global neoliberalism until they have cleansed their ranks of every last vestige of racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, transphobia, and so on. These leftist gatekeepers have been struggling a bit to come up with a response to the gilets jaunes … a response that doesn’t make them sound like hypocrites. See, as leftists, they kind of need to express their support for a bona fide working class uprising. At the same time, they need to delegitimize it, because their primary adversaries are fascism, racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and assorted other isms and phobias, not the neoliberal ruling classes.

Nothing scares the Identity Politics Left quite like an actual working class uprising. Witnessing the furious unwashed masses operating out there on their own, with no decent human restraint whatsoever, Identity Politics Leftists feel a sudden overwhelming urge to analyze, categorize, organize, sanitize, and otherwise correct and control them. They can’t accept the fact that the actual, living, breathing working classes are messy, multiplicitous, inconsistent, and irreducible to any one ideology. Some of them are racists. Some are fascists. Others are communists, socialists, and anarchists. Many have no idea what they are, and don’t particularly care for any of these labels. This is what the actual working classes are … a big, contradictory collection of people who, in spite of all their differences, share one thing in common, that they are being screwed over by the ruling classes. I don’t know about you, but I consider myself one of them.

Where we go from here is anyone’s guess. According to The Guardian, as I am sitting here writing this, the whole of Europe is holding its breath in anticipation of the gilets jaunes’ response to Macron’s most recent attempt to appease them, this time with an extra hundred Euros a month, some minor tax concessions, and a Christmas bonus. Something tells me it’s not going to work, but even if it does, and the gilets jaunes uprising ends, this messy, Western “populist” insurgency against global neoliberalism has clearly entered a new phase. Count on the global capitalist ruling classes to intensify their ongoing War on Dissent and their demonization of anyone opposing them (or contradicting their official narrative) as an “extremist,” a “fascist,” a “Russian agent,” and so on. I’m certainly looking forward to that, personally.

Oh…yeah, and I almost forgot, if you were wondering what you could get me for Christmas, I did some checking, and there appears to be a wide selection of yellow safety vests online for just a couple Euros.

C J Hopkins is an award-winning American playwright, novelist and satirist based in Berlin. His plays are published by Bloomsbury Publishing (UK) and Broadway Play Publishing (USA). His debut novel, ZONE 23, is published by Snoggsworthy, Swaine & Cormorant. He can be reached at cjhopkins.com or consentfactory.org

Feel free to come find him in Berlin and buy him a beer. He’s been known to frequent an assortment of extremely suspicious RUSSIAN establishments in Kreuzberg.

84 Comments

  1. Fredric A Greniuolle says

    I have just discovered off-guardian website. What a wonderful breath of truth and freedom in a world so dominated by the fake news mainstream media.

    “The ignorance of the masses is profound”, and that is the goal of the mainstream media, to maintain a level of ignorance so all pervasive that even most of those people in the mainstream media are not aware of their own condition. Most of the “mainstream media actually believe their own propaganda, their ignorance is so profound that they think they are telling the truth.

    off-guardian is another ray of hope that the world may yet wake up and free itself from the insidious evil which is controlling it..

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    • Badger Down says

      Freddie the Frog! Is it really you? We were at school together!

  2. wardropper says

    One remembers the Occupy Movement, and how a few heart flutters were diagnosed among the Wall Street class at that time.
    The media successfully splintered that movement into the fat ladies with the green hair and the young students who weren’t old enough to have any significant life experience, and they will obviously try to do exactly the same to the yellow vests now, but I would like to think that this time it will not be so easy.
    Does anybody have a plan to put a spanner in their works? Because try they will.

  3. Unctouscheese says

    Macronimus the Merciful….or so they thought, a return to French simplicity – the sound of accordians and glugs of sunny wine – the relaxing whirr of a passing 2cv – But Mes Amies – you threw away the France Rustique – willingly took a ride on Eurodisney tunnel of fakery – and ignored the screams to alight…..and now – years down the line discover – Home is lost….so don those Gilets Jaunes, and feel all the better for being duped….Again !

  4. @RealPeter: “Marianne is shedding a tear over the sad state of the republic while tearing a duct-tape gag from her mouth.”

    Thanks for that explanation, I recognized her tricolor mobcap and understood her tears, but was puzzled at Marianne’s rosy lips apparently a-licking of an ice lolly.

  5. RealPeter says

    There is a very good analysis of the yellow vest movement by Ramin Mazaheri on the Saker Blog.

    https://thesaker.is/frances-yellow-vests-its-just-1-protestwhich-has-lasted-8-years

    The woman pictured on the back of the yellow vest in the photo at the top of CJ Hopkins’s article is Marianne, symbol of the French Republic (every town hall in France displays a bust of her, often modelled by some famous French actress – Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve have been official Mariannes, for example). In the photo, Marianne is shedding a tear over the sad state of the republic while tearing a duct-tape gag from her mouth.

    The yellow vests are mainly hitherto-unpoliticised, low-income people, many of whom are protesting for the first time in their lives. They are convinced they are “le peuple”, wave tricolor flags and sing the Marseillaise during their protests (which is not done in traditional leftwing trade-union-led demonstrations). The vicious police violence they have encountered has truly astounded them – until the yellow vest movement started they actually thought they were living in a democracy and in the country “of human rights”, because that’s what their MSM tell them all the time and what they learned in school.

    Now that the Strasbourg distraction has ended with the police killing the “terrorist” – very conveniently, because there will be only a cursory investigation into his motives and no public trial – it will be interesting to see whether the yellow vests can keep up their momentum this weekend despite all the media and political efforts to discredit them.

    But I advise OffG-istas following this thread to look at Mazaheri’s article – it tells you a lot about politics in France and will help those living outside the country to understand what’s going on here much better.

  6. Thanks, Mr. Hopkins, for an informative look at the yellow vest movement which has gotten off to a good start by raising awareness of the issues and putting pressure on the French government. Here in Chile (the neolib guinea pig) the privatised pension system has been the main target of recent mass marches.

    A big question is what strategies would be effective in sustaining movements against neoliberalism as the problem becomes identified and people exercised about it. The Occupy movement gained a brief national attention in the US and then faded away (MSN and security forces did their part to ensure this). The initial Friends of the Earth efforts resulting in Earth Day, on the other hand, were effective, non-bureaucratic and grassroots. On the economic front, the BDS strategy is obviously working because the state of Israel is using so many resources to discredit it.

    The offG space is critical for exposing MSN neglect of and opposition to movements for change, and for offering alternatives. To help advance the Gilets Jaunes movement I suggest we meet with CJ in Kreuzberg, buy him a beer(or 2) and discuss alternative strategies and a business plan to fund the operation (including production and sale of yellow vests and guillotines).

  7. France has already had a letter from the EU warning that its planned debt reduction in 2019 does not respect the proposals that Paris had agreed previously with the EU. France hasn’t had a balanced budget since the 1970s and Macron’s giveaway to appease the rioters is on top of current budgetary planning. This is what happens when you adopt a joint currency and can’t print money. France is going to have to cut welfare to pay for this giveaway, it’ll only make the situation worse, yet roughly half of us in Britain want to stay in this group of states that have no more power than local authorities.

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    • DunGroanin says

      Had a letter …

      So what?

      A slap on the wrist. A euro in the swearbox. Whatever.

      If there is no ultimate sanction, for being unable to stick to arbitrary rules of play, then what is the problem.

      • Err, the problem is the French economy. The sovereign debt is anywhere between 110 and 120% vs a GDP that is around € 2 Trillion, and rising. All this is ammunition for Macron’s many enemies because the only thing he can do is continue on the current trajectory or commit to neoliberal supply-side solutions of selling everything he can while instituting savage medical and welfare cuts. Only the mind of a British remainer could ignore the calamity that is coming to France and Europe…..Marine Le Pen isn’t ignoring it.

        • Fredric A Greniuolle says

          National debts are almost universally debts to the international banking system, the Jewish (Rothschild) banking system that infests and enslaves the world.

          France should repudiate the so called national debt, and lead the world to do likewise.

          But it will need more than Le Pen to have the courage to do it,

          It will need a French version of Adolph Hitler, who when the real history of the world is more widely known, and it is gradually emerging from the 100 years of fog of Zionist propaganda on the internet, will be recognized as the greatest statesman of the twentieth century.

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          • Mishko says

            Remarkable how national-socialism has been demonised and forbidden to form part
            of the social contract. Hate: of the nation-state and bounderies.
            Hate: of the family-unit and the ethnic community it is a part of.
            (Non, non, je la chante, toutes, toutes a continuer, heyhey)

  8. Badger Down says

    What IS that indiscreet-looking object in the centre of the photo above?

    • writerroddis says

      Madame France removing the gag from her hitherto sealed lips.

      • Badger Down says

        I meant the blurry buttocks between her and the jester doing a handstand.
        But, as we say in the States, “Capers C. Funnye”

  9. Solidarity needed says

    The protesters in France deserve all support from the peoples in every other country where rampant neoliberalism is wrecking havoc and making life a living hell for workers.

    So far, governments like in US, UK and Australia have succeeded, as the article explains, in suppressing the anti-neolibrelasim aspect of the protests from the narrative in mass media. This makes it pretty damn hard to give support to something when it is not fully understood.

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    • Ken Kenn says

      It’s not fully understood by myself and I live in France.

      People are on the streets in the small town nearby me and I notice a lot of gilets – rouge joining the protests.

      Macron noticeably backed down when the CGT started making inroads into the protest and the truck drivers threatened to go on strike plus the power station workers wanted a two day strike on the 13th and 14th of this month.

      As far as I can see this is getting more and more politicised and organised as I type.

      We should remember that Macron was elected only due to what he was not – not what he is.

      The left as usual could have got together and won the election but instead allowed the run off to be between Le Penn and Macron.

      If Macron is removed then they had better get their act together as politics hates a vacuum and it could easily be filled by the far right.

      The ruling classes are watching this very carefully and in the UK Corbyn and the Labour Party are part of this whole
      movement ( quiet at the moment – but who knows where this is all going ?) then the left in general across Europe should sharpen up its politics and actions.

      The 5% who work for the 1% will obviously make out that this is an unruly outburst and will try to use all the State apparatus it can muster to head these movements off at the pass.

      The genie is out of the bottle and from where I’m sitting it has only just begun.

      Expect to see the yellow vests and the red vests across Europe.

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  10. Joerg says

    I believe that the “Gilets Jaunes” movement will abort and in the end will be counterproductive.

    Yes, the French “1968” student movement is sometimes mentioned now. But we must not forget that while the German student movement of those days was directed (also) against old Nazis. The then German Chancellor Kiesinger had been a party member of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) before the end of the war – while the French President De Gaulle, who was attacked by the French students so fiercely, had been in the resistance against the pro Nazi “Vichy Regime”.
    Also the “Socialists” among the German students tried to find out a new Socialism – while the French Communist Party had a close eye on the French students not to criticise their Moscow-kind Communism.

    In the end the French student movement only led to a pro-US and pro-Neocon policy in France – while De Gaulle had always been eager to keep France independent of the US (and Great Britain) and of any supernational institution (like the EU nowadays is)..

    Somebody who just returned from Reunion (a French Island next to Madagascar) just told me that the Yellow Vests there allow the shops to open only for one hour a day. For reasons I don’t know the shops are forbidden to sell any alcohol. At their barriers (“blokage filtrant”) the Protester allow only 3 cars of their fellow citizens to pass every half an hour through the barriers. So all the citizen hope half the day that their car will be among each of those three cars. Only after several days the protesters understood that that they had to let through ambulances and the fire brigade.

    In the end local people can’t buy food to at least cook for themselves. Shops, Restaurants are empty. Tourism has broken down totally as ever tourist tries to get away from Reunion (although it is very difficult to really the airport).
    De facto the protesters hurt the citizens – and no one else. The protesters demand more money and tax relief. Nothing more.

    In France itself it seems not so much different. They want more money and tax relief – or if you want so: a “give them cake”. No one demands that the corporations, banks, insurers should pay a lot more tax, so that that surplus of the exchequer could then be distributed to the people. And no one demands that the enormous expenditures for “defence” and all the wars are being stopped immediately.
    Although wearing car vests they burn cars! Possible only expensive cars – which would be an outflow of envy or hate only.

    These are not fighters against Globalism, Neoliberalism, the Police- and Surveillance- State! Instead this revolt will harm this fight.
    I feel absolutely disillusioned.

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    • And yet, most of France is with them: they enjoy the support of over 72% of the French.

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      • Joerg says

        @Vaska
        I have enormous sympathy with a riot that overthrows this Macron and his bankers and other Neocon lobbies. But as I stated that there are several things going wrong.
        But there is one point I have to correct what I wrote above: When I said “And no one demands that …all the wars are being stopped immediately“, that was wrong. As a matter of fact the Yellow Vests do demand: “End France’s participation in foreign wars of aggression, and exit from NATO
        That indeed is very, very good!
        Here is their catalogue of demands: https://www.sott.net/article/402396-What-do-the-protesters-in-France-want-Check-out-the-official-Yellow-Vest-manifesto .

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        • Joerg, thanks for admitting that oversight, I was about to point it out myself. Like you, I approve of the demand to withdraw French troops from L’Afrique Noire; and I would probably approve of the tax reform if I could understand it because lot of those demands come from the heart and belly of the average citizen.

          I too regret the over-hyped Student Riots of 1968, whose only tangible result was to dethrone le Dernier Bon Roi de France — DeGaulle. Without a good Leader, the Yellow Waistcoats are likely to be taken over by similar anti-French interests as the 68 mob.

          • Joerg says

            @vexarb
            I am worried that the Yellow Vests demand tax relief. Why do they demand “A constitutional cap on taxes – at 25%”? Do they represent cosmetic surgeons or other well of people? Donald Trump, Ronald Reagan, Maggie Thatcher could have demanded that for their well of clientship! Why do the Yellow Vests want to represent those who have a high income and protect them from paying more than 25 %?

            Why don’t the Yellow Vests they look at the income side of the state? To this all they demand is: “Clampdown on tax evasion by the ultra-rich“! But that’s by far not enough. And by the way: Most ultra-rich don’t “evade” tax. They use the legal system and legal loopholes!
            Why don’t they demand new laws that forces corporations like McDonalds, Ikea and many others tp pay tax in FRANCE and no more in the Netherlands (or other low tax oasises), as they do today (also other countries – e.g. Germany – suffer from that!)?

            Why don’t they crusade against this myth of “tax relief for corporations lets the economy boom and produces a lot of working stations”? Nothing of this myth is true! Since decades they lowered the tax for banks, insurance corporations and uncounted industrial corporations. Trump was the last one, who again installed “tax relief” for corporations!
            By automation and new techniques there will only be very few jobs left for the citizens. Where once thousands of workers produced the Renault “R4” you nowadays see only robots. And that is good! Less work for humankind! But we must ensure that the profit of technological progress gets into the hand of us citizens. Because it belongs to us:
            This nonsense of “intellectual property” must be fought to the bone. Inventions, technological or scientific progress rely to 99% on our civilisation. If Albert Einstein had lived in the Stone Age he never would have come up with his Relativity theory. He would have known nothing of mathematics. He wouldn’t have known nothing of earlier scientist and their works to rely on in order to develop his Theory! “Yes, nice cave painting, Einstein – but where is Your Relativity Theory”?.
            The same to the profit of corporations They can only produce or deliver services, because our modern societies have educated people that can read, write, calculate, write computer programs, can repair cars are engineers doctors, teachers, professors and so on.
            Put Microsoft or Renault into the Stone Age and these corporations wood immediately collapse!

            Also these producers of products and services use our national (sometimes multinational) MARKETS. Here an intact national/transnational society cares that the people have enough money to buy something. In the Stone Age they wouldn’t have! Here an intact national /transnational society cares that the people have interest in buying a new laptop. In the Stone Age they wouldn’t have!.
            So the Yellow Vests should not demand that people with a big income pay no more than people with a small income. Instead they should demand that corporations as producers of goods or as service providers pay a very, very high tax if they want to use our people as workers or use our markets for finding costumers.
            Only by these high taxes our state will have enough money now and in the future to pay us citizens a good income, so we cam enjoy that now robots are doing our work.

            • @Joerg: ” Only by these high taxes our state will have enough money now and in the future to pay us citizens a good income, so we cam enjoy that now robots are doing our work”.

              I think this is, at last, getting to the Core Values of what is wrong with our modern highly-industrialized superhumanly-productive capital-intensive civilization. Up till now the word has come down from Saint Paul and Lenin: “He who does not work neither shall he eat”. But in the modern world, as you say, if Robots do the Work, shall only Robots Eat? That is the question.

              As a Lover of Public Libraries I like your proposition that Knowledge is Capital and should be shared in the Public Domain. (“Nice cave painting, Albert, but where’s your Relativity Theory?” “Sorry, I couldn’t afford the Licence on the Math”).

              What do you think of the opening sentence in Bernard Shaw’s “Intelligent Woman’s Guide”:
              What is Socialism? Equal incomes, neither More nor Less.

              I guess you would not approve of the Communist answer to tax problems: No taxation — because the State already has all our money.

              • Joerg says

                @vexarb
                What is Socialism? Equal incomes, neither More nor Less
                To this George Orwell answered: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” (Animal Farm).
                And, dear vexarb, “Equal income” in the soviet Union and the other Warsaw Pact States is a myth. To the contrary: There were huge differences of income in those Communist states. Also all mayor railway stations had a special waiting room for members of the “Nomenclatura” (something like the “Upper 10.000” in the West) only!.
                Orwell was right, Shaw was wrong!

                No taxation – because the State already has all our money.
                No, for the communist countries this was never true. Because the “State” was itself in the pocket of the Nomenclatura. Its like our western States are already in the pocket of a bunch of oligarchs or corporations, owned by them. Especially communal property was extra “privatised” only to get into their pockets (think of Maggie’s railways)!

                This is why I am neither a Marxist nor a Liberal – but a MERCANTILIST.
                Modern Mercantilism is the most successful State Economy that ever existed. Prussia was the (per capita) poorest German-language state in the early 18th hundred. Frederick-William I of Prussia introduced the Prussian form of Mercantilism, his son Frederick the Great went further on with it and about a hundred years later (delayed by wars Prussia had to fight) Prussia was the most prosperous and technological German state – leaving competitor Austria-Hungary far behind. Mercantilism brought in West-Germany up on its feet after WWII, same to Japan. In the 1970s mercantilist Sweden hat the highest income (per capita) in all of Europe although it only had its own little market of maybe 7 million people, as Sweden was not member of the EEC (predecessor of this disgusting EU) or the EFTA and thus Swedish products (“Volvo”) had to mount high protective tariffs of EEC and EFTA.

                And the exchequer of than Germany, Sweden and so on was always hold slim.
                This is probably what You, vexarb, fear, that the government/state collects money and then keeps it. But that would not be mercantilist. Instead Mercantilism makes up a “oscillating circuit”. Lets Take Olof Palme’s Sweden. The Swedish than had the highest taxes of Europe and possibly of the world then. That is e. g. income tax and tax on the industry, to name only some. So let’s say an average Swedish physician earned much more than his colleagues in Great Britain (because the Swedish were richer and could pay more). But then he had to pay a hefty tax (much more than in GB). but in the end much more than his colleague in GB had earned was left over for him.
                This “oscillating circuit” works like an electric coil and a capacitor It swings to and fro. So the exchequer collects money with tax, especially from corporations and industry (but also from plain citizens). Cheap importers are blocked with a high protective tariff, to install a fair competition. This because corporations in cheap-tax countries can produce much cheaper than those in high-tax countries.
                And then the money is distributed again (“oscillating circuit”) by the state. This for infrastructure (in the 18th century: channels. Later railways, then “Autobahn” – in the US “high ways”). Also money goes into state owned factories. Factories that are like geese laying golden eggs for the state/citizens. Think of “Volkswagen” or “Renault” (both “privatised” by now). Also think of the Russian military industry and space industry that Yeltsin was not allowed to also give away to some oligarchs: Today these Russian industries are not only often by technology ahead of their western competitors, but also their products sell like hell – they are also laying “golden eggs”.
                Most of the state income though is distributed to the people: Schools, universities, communal transport at no charge, safe and high old-age-pensions, good working hospitals, very affordable health insurance. and so on and on.

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                • Badger Down says

                  Expressways. A highway is a major road. (Though of course USers have a zillion other words for them.)

                  • Joerg says

                    Thanks for this information, Badger Down. My English is lousy – and things are complicated for “Ausländers”, because theres i inot only the English-English, but also the American- (US+Canda) English”.

                    • Badger Down says

                      No problemo! And you’re way ahead of me in Economics. I like the sound of your Mercantilism.

                    • Joerg says

                      @Badger Down
                      … and there is also this, what I call “street language”. E.g. this “duh”. ‘What the hell does that mean?, I thought. But then there are these “urban dictionaries” and I could find out. And while “duh” is American-English, there is also the same with English-English (there must also be some “urban dictionary” for English-English).
                      And this “street language” changes very fast! If I, as an elderly man, meet, let’s say, Angela Davis, and I told her: “Your dress, is really outta sight, Mrs. Davis – she would understand me – but no one else in the room would.

                • Joerg, many thanks for that full account of Mercantilism which I must take time to disinguish from Distributionism on the one hand and Mixed Economy on the other hand. I had not known about the Progressive economic policies of Frederick father & son; at school we learned only about their wars and their despotism. But your praise of their promotion of industy makes sense of our History master’s otherwise disconnected little anecdote: “Madame, respectez le fardeau!”.

  11. DunGroanin says

    Amen – that is uplifting and clear and crisp as a sunny winter morning. Thanks CJ and O-G.

    The ff operation – apparently set off by a failed arrest – is as obvious as they come.

    I predicted day one, Macrons unworthy election and his pedigree would end with claret on the rue’s – yet he and his brethren would keep trying to reverse the gains the proles have made over the century.

    I’d be wanting to know what and where his boyfriend/bodyguard/pretend policeman has been upto recently…

    Merkel must be enjoying watching the self raising petard fixers getting their just desserts as they tried to usurp her and destroy the EU. Hope her security teams are on top alert tonight!

  12. Haltonbrat says

    The French word “gilet” for me has always meant “waistcoat”. The French word for “vest” is normally “maillot”. Although the dictionary states that “gilet” could be translated as “vest”, that would be a rare translation. So”gilet jaune” is best translated as “yellow waiscoat” although we Rosbifs would call this item of clothing “yellow jacket”. Strangely enough, the French translation of “jacket” is “veste”!

    • Haltonbrat, the Yanquis call a waistcoat a vest. Your translation into English (UK) is correct; but “Yellow Waist Coats” encountered in English (USA) might raise a bizzarre picture.

      • Haltonbrat says

        Ah merci, ca s’explique. “Vest” is US English for a waistcoat. Am going to a Labour party meeting tonight. Might put on a gilet jaune to test their sense of humour.

        11
      • Tom Dicanarry says

        So, I am wearing an undergarment that I know as a vest: what do the Yanks call that, when they call a waistcoat a vest?

        • Badger Down says

          an undershirt.
          You’re not going to like this, but:
          a gilet is a sleeveless jacket.
          These people are Yellow Jackets.

    • writerroddis says

      At last! Someone has finally cut through to the core issues at stake here ..

      27
    • Ray Raven says

      The leading rider of the TdF wears a distictive jersey referred to as the maillot jaune.
      What the protesters are wearing are what are commonly referred to as safety vests (or now more typically hi-viz vests (hi-viz being abbreviated high visibility)).

  13. harry stotle says

    I for one am starting to have a few doubts about the Guardian’s crocodile tears each time a news story breaks about those on th breadline – is such cynicism warranted when on the face of it they all seem like such lovely people?

    11
  14. milosevic says

    It’s almost as if electing a Rothschild banker as President was a bad idea, even though Marine Le Pen was one of the other candidates.

    It’s almost as if the political function of anti-anti-semitism is to disrupt and derail any serious opposition to neoliberal hegemony.

    It’s almost as if somebody planned it that way.

    29
  15. Henry Wilson says

    Macron will use the Strasbourg attack to try & close these protests down on the grounds of national security

    29
    • Makropulos says

      Which is probably why the Strasbourg attack was staged in the first place.

      34
      • milosevic says

        What are you, one of them evil Conspiracy Theorists?

        You probably think the 9/11 attack and the Paris massacre were staged, too.

        17
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        • Off-Anything says

          One of the wilder stories circulating about September 11th – and one that has attracted something of a cult following amongst conspiracy buffs – is that it was carried out by nineteen fanatical Arab hijackers, masterminded by an evil genius named Osama bin Laden, with no apparent motivation other than that they ‘hate our freedoms.’

          32
          • OffAnything. C.J’s article had me chuckling but your off the cuff satire was positively a gigle head nodding laugh.

    • RealPeter says

      This is already happening in the French MSM – for the last two days mainstream hacks and Macronist politicians have been shamelessly exploiting the Strasbourg incident by calling on the gilets jaunes to “suspend” their protests in order to “leave the police free” to hunt down the Strasbourg attacker. This has naturally led to many people voicing suspicions on gilet jaune Facebook pages about the politically convenient timing of the Strasbourg attack for the beleaguered Boy Wonder (Macron), who spent last weekend cowering in a heavily-guarded Elysee Palace with a helicopter ready to whisk him away to safety just in case, and whose Monday-evening broadcast, in which he attempted to buy off the protesters with a hundred euros, was simply pathetic. He refused to restore the wealth tax, and did not address the major gilet jaune grievance – the fundamental unfairness of the current tax system, in which the mass of working- and middle-class people pay for the tax breaks of the rich and the multinationals.

      The French media, thanks to Strasbourg, are now in full regime-saving overdrive, shrieking that continuing the protests will aid and abet terrorism and overstretch the police (also bought off with paltry bonuses for their sterling work in clubbing, flash-balling, maiming and arresting peaceful gilet jaune protesters by the hundreds). While claiming on zero evidence that the protests have been encouraged and amplified by …. you know who: RUSSIA! (as CJ Hopkins says in his article), the same media are also accusing the gilet jaunes of being conspiracy theorists for pointing out what a useful diversion the Strasbourg attack has turned out to be for the Macron regime. A chacun sa théorie du complot.

      Meanwhile, the horrendous police violence against the protesters goes practically unreported and unquestioned in both the state-owned and oligarch-owned French media, as do the thousands of “preventive” arrests made last Saturday morning in Paris.

      Unfortunately, and unlike CJ Hopkins, I feel the combination of police intimidation, media onslaught and Christmas break could well lead to the protests fading away. For the time being.

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    • Haltonbrat says

      That is the strategy of French zionists who manage to have demos in support of Palestine banned by the police because the Zionists would commit violence.

      10
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    • Con Crete says

      Wonder if it was a false flag for that purpose?

    • Maggie says

      @ Henry Wilson
      True. Macron will use the Strasbourg FALSE FLAG to attempt to close the protests down.

    • I was about to ask what odds I would get on a bet that the alleged Strasbourg Christmas-market terrorist would be shot dead resisting arrest, just as last year’s alleged Berlin Christmas-market terrorist, Amri, was (thus preventing any chance of him crying out the equivalent of “I’m a patsy” on national television) — but I see the French security forces have beaten me to the draw…

      • @ T.
        I seem to be lagging behind. What is the situation with regard the Strasbourg terrorist?

        • > I seem to be lagging behind. What is the situation with regard the Strasbourg terrorist?

          He died of acute lead poisoning, as we say…

          • Well that maakes sense and I owe one of the commenters here an apology, if I can find the comment.

  16. Those Gilets Jaunes’ List of Demands in full:

    Economy/Work
    • A constitutional cap on taxes – at 25%
    • Increase of 40% in the basic pension and social welfare
    • Increase hiring in public sector to re-establish public services
    • Massive construction projects to house 5 million homeless, and severe penalties for mayors/prefectures that leave people on the streets
    • Break up the ‘too-big-to-fail’ banks, re-separate regular banking from investment banking
    • Cancel debts accrued through usurious rates of interest
    Politics
    • Constitutional amendments to protect the people’s interests, including binding referenda
    • The barring of lobby groups and vested interests from political decision-making
    • Frexit: Leave the EU to regain our economic, monetary and political sovereignty (In other words, respect the 2005 referendum result, when France voted against the EU Constitution Treaty, which was then renamed the Lisbon Treaty, and the French people ignored)
    • Clampdown on tax evasion by the ultra-rich
    • The immediate cessation of privatization, and the re-nationalization of public goods like motorways, airports, rail, etc
    • Remove all ideology from the ministry of education, ending all destructive education techniques
    • Quadruple the budget for law and order and put time-limits on judicial procedures. Make access to the justice system available for all
    • Break up media monopolies and end their interference in politics. Make media accessible to citizens and guarantee a plurality of opinions. End editorial propaganda
    • Guarantee citizens’ liberty by including in the constitution a complete prohibition on state interference in their decisions concerning education, health and family matters
    Health/Environment
    • No more ‘planned obsolescence’ – Mandate guarantee from producers that their products will last 10 years, and that spare parts will be available during that period
    • Ban plastic bottles and other polluting packaging
    • Weaken the influence of big pharma on health in general and hospitals in particular
    • Ban on GMO crops, carcinogenic pesticides, endocrine disruptors and monocrops
    • Reindustrialize France (thereby reducing imports and thus pollution)
    Foreign Affairs
    • End France’s participation in foreign wars of aggression, and exit from NATO
    • Cease pillaging and interfering – politically and militarily – in ‘Francafrique’, which keeps Africa poor. Immediately repatriate all French soldiers. Establish relations with African states on an equal peer-to-peer basis
    • Prevent migratory flows that cannot be accommodated or integrated, given the profound civilizational crisis we are experiencing
    • Scrupulously respect international law and the treaties we have signed

    Looks pretty reasonable to me.

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    • Excellent list, might I add, a trip to the guillotine for Bernard-Henri Lévy.

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    • milosevic says

      A constitutional cap on taxes – at 25%

      They must be Putin-Nazis.

      All right-thinking progessives know that taxes are good for you, and the higher they are, the better they are for you. Obviously, wages and salaries should be taxed at 100%, and the workers provided with whatever food, clothing, shelter, and entertainment the government determines is necessary. After all, the state knows what’s good for you, they’ve been managing serfs for thousands of years. Stupid peasants, what made you think you could control your own lives?

      19
      • milosevic says

        In the Middle Ages, the way that the feudal lords discovered that they had cranked up the level of taxation on the peasants too high, was that their tax collectors would be chopped into pieces and left lying in the road, to discourage any others that were sent after them.

        It’s unfortunate that charming cultural traditions such as this, have gradually been abandoned in the modern world.

        20
      • Jen says

        As King Arthur discovered, the peasants thought they could control their own lives because they are French and as they readily admit, zey ‘ave zee most ridiculous accents.

    • Loverat says

      Those Gilets Jaunes’ List of Demands in full:

      These below are key demands for all citizens in the West to make of their governments. Perhaps in return, provide them with an amnesty for their war crimes, warmongering, treason and supporting international terrorism. Obviously any such concession would need to be agreed by the Iraqi, Libyan, Afghan, Syrian, Serbian and Yemen people.

      And, if they comply with these 3 demands:

      Foreign Affairs

      • End France’s participation in foreign wars of aggression, and exit from NATO
      • Cease pillaging and interfering – politically and militarily – in ‘Francafrique’, which keeps Africa poor. Immediately repatriate all French soldiers. Establish relations with African states on an equal peer-to-peer basis
      • Scrupulously respect international law and the treaties we have signed

      This fourth one will probably be resolved anyway.

      • Prevent migratory flows that cannot be accommodated or integrated, given the profound civilizational crisis we are experiencing

      And yes, I almost forgot – another key one.

      Politics

      • Break up media monopolies and end their interference in politics. Make media accessible to citizens and guarantee a plurality of opinions. End editorial propaganda

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      • Jen says

        If the French were to deal with West and Central African states equally by getting rid of the West African and Central African Franc zones, those migratory flows would eventually resolve themselves because then there would be little reason for people to leave their home countries in those parts of Africa (save perhaps for higher education and specialist medical care reasons) once they achieve political and economic stability

        12
    • Haltonbrat says

      Most people do not know that France retained control of their African colonies by having control of their financial systems. France is quite a racist country.

      15
      • Tibbles says

        Most people don’t know that the British empire changed it’s name to the British Commonwealth but still had control of their financial systems.

        11
    • Badger Down says

      I’ve been seeing Paris burning on the TVs at the gym. Yesterday I finally put the headphones on: they were saying that the protesters were demanding that the tax on diesel be reduced (perhaps back to what it was). And that was it! It sure sounded like fake news to me. Thanks for wising me up.

  17. Michael Cromer says

    German Fuhrer Angela Merkel proposes a European Army as a Peace Keeping Force for the good of us all – Perhaps we need to rethink Brexit and put our trust in Berlin? – After all who needs the NHS when they have been shot dead for their own good?

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  18. davemass says

    Please stop labelling these Yellow Vest opponents as ‘Leftists’- They’re of the kind that calls for revolution, but not just yet…
    They are really like Blairites in UK- claim to understand and sympathise with the workers, but like their nice salaries
    and houses.
    I love the French for not believing the last 40 years of Reagan/Thatcher- Mitterand was shafted to bring him into line-
    I hope UK has its new ‘Poll Tax Riots’-

    19
    • Kavy says

      I’m on the left and I write in Wall Street Economics blog. If you see my writings you will see that I’m very left, very anti conservative, and very anti racist and yet I’m fiercely against open borders and mass immigrating. Mankind hasn’t advanced enough yet and people still like the security of their home, their home town, and their traditional way of life. They are not racists and enjoy diversity, but they don’t want to become a minority in their own town, or county. In time that might happen, over hundreds of years, but when it occurs in decades it creates unease and tension. If the left want to gain control and put an end to neoliberalism and corporate capitalism, and if they want to end the rule by the elite, then they have to come to grips with excessive immigration and multiculturalism which the British people don’t want. They are not bad people, and no one is perfect.

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      • Fair dinkum says

        The indigenous peoples of the Americas, Australia, the South Pacific, and South Africa (Did I miss any?) were more than ‘uneasy’ about the mass migration/ invasion of their native lands.
        The pendulum swings.

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        1
        • Tibbles says

          Yes, you missed one or two, Bengal, ten million murdered or starved to death by the laughably titled East India Company.

          • Badger Down says

            The Jewish East India Company moved thousands of Bengalis into Burma, thus forming an irritation that has recently been spat out. And the ( ) media bleats about “rohingya”! Ever wonder why they look like Bangladeshis?

      • Maggie says

        @ Kavy,
        I wonder how pure is your gene pool? And how many generations it took for you to cease being a minority?
        The immigration crisis is the direct result of cynical Foreign Policy to create chaos in order for the vampires to descend and devour the resources of the chosen victim country. . The resulting immigration ‘purposely engineered ‘ to keep us in our place and grateful for any crumb we are given.
        It is not the immigrant’s fault that he had to leave his home and seek safety.. And where better than to countries that have been telling him they are trying to free him… by decimating his own homeland?? And ask yourself – what would you do in his shoes?
        The MSM presstitutes are absolutely complicit in this because they are owned by the same members of the Vampire Cabal. Bombarding us four hourly with constant lies that tell us how these desperate, destitute people whose lands have been destroyed, and their families murdered, now have the gall to come here and put such a STRAIN on our NHS, Housing, Benefit system etc…..
        Conveniently forgetting to highlight the fact that, the 1% Elite who are invested in the Pharma companies, Banks, Oil, Construction companies and Insurance companies are poised, salivating at the profits they have made, and will make when they Privatise all our vital infrastructure.

        The French have clocked this one,… I wonder how long it will take for the penny to drop here?

        • Badger Down says

          Maggie, that is SO antisemitic!
          How pure is my gene pool!

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        • Kavy says

          This is what I argue on my economics blog, that mass immigrating is a result of imperialism, and now, neoliberalism. The aristocracy encourage mass immigrating to drive down wages and to force house prices and rents up. Millions of new immigrants are good for the GDP, and good for businesses. Millions more using the services, thousands more on Branson’s overcrowded trains, millions more using the internet providers. It isn’t the socialists that encourage mass immigration, but the backers of the Conservative Party, the same people who back New Labour. The British people were conned when they voted Conservative thinking they would end mass immigration. The bankers make too much money out of it.

          The third world has been looted by the West. We pretend to be democratic and yet we install puppet governments and dictators in countries all over the world. We drive people the third world into enormous poverty, and we have even caused civil wars in these counties.We caused genocide in the America’s. As a result, people in poorer countries want to emigrate to the West to get a better standard of living, and who can blame them, except they get exploited here as well. These desperate people leave their families and friends behind who they may rarely ever see again.

          The British people were the biggest migrants of them all. Where’s their wealth you will find them. Rhodesea, South Africa, India, the America’s, wherever. They would have stolen everything in China and Russia if they could have. Two continents the West never won: China and Russia, but they are still out to get them to this day, and they won’t rest until they have looted them. And if they were ever to get them, they would pretend that they have made those countries democratic, and that they opened up their economies to free markets, then all their wealth would flow through Wall Street and the City of London, and at would have millions more immigrants wanting to come here.

          Want about the wildlife, what about the beautiful countryside? One day it will all be flattened for houses.

          The Liberals are all for open borders, but what if one day they end up living a very conservative, Islamic state.

          And who funded and spread militant Islam, the British and the US? The Middle East was fast going liberal and democratic, until we put a stop to it. Islamic women were gaining equality. But it didn’t suit our corporations that the people in the ME were gaining control over their oil. That didn’t suit our aristocracy.

          • Maggie says

            @Kavy,
            So it appears we are more or less on the same page?
            ”The Liberals are all for open borders”. If by open borders you mean giving asylum to those who have been terrorised and displaced, then so be it, there is no other alternative. But the economic migrants are a different story. Unfortunately we are in the grips of an economic nightmare, with not enough jobs for the people already living here. So I agree that those wanting to come into our country to work, must have a job to come to and enough money to sustain themselves, or return to their place of origin if things don’t work out. Exactly as they do in Australia and Canada…
            I have to say that I have often wondered WHY we don’t have enough educated inhabitants in this country who could do the jobs that those coming from other countries to work do. Could it be that we have far too many people in our Universities studying Micky Mouse subjects, wasting resources only to be identified as being over qualified for the actual jobs available.
            McDonalds, Nandos, Costas, Call centres, Amazon and Packing Companies are now full of University Graduates…
            Time was that University was there to teach advanced subjects, like Literature, Anthropology, Ancient History, Sociology, Geography, Geology, Archaeology, Zoo-ology, Higher Maths, Engineering, Science, Astronomy, Physics, Human and Animal anatomy, Medicine, Surgery, Law, and Politics.

            NOT David Beckham studies, Golf Management, Surf Science, Business and Management, Communication Studies ,Interpretative Dance/ Drama/Theatre Studies, Art, Design and Technology, Home Economics, Leisure Studies, Media Studies, Performance Studies, Photography, Physical Education, Sports Studies, Travel and Tourism.. IMO These are College subjects that can be done in their own cities, from their own homes.

            ”What if one day they end up living a very conservative, Islamic state.”
            We never will.. Islam is a minority religion in Europe. And is no more frightening than living in a Quaker, Jehovah’s Witnesses, or Mormon. State, which has the same percentage of followers as Islam?

            ”And who funded and spread militant Islam, the British and the US?” And France.
            Militant Islamists being AlQaida/ISIS/ISIL/al Nusra/DAESH et al. Recruited by James le Mesurier on behalf of US/UK/France and funded by USAID… Who have rampaged through the M.E. invading, raping and murdering the asylum seeker’s families in their homes, huts and tents. What moderate Muslim faced with this horror would not become militant??
            ”The Middle East was fast going liberal and democratic, until we put a stop to it. Islamic women were gaining equality. But it didn’t suit our corporations that the people in the ME were gaining control over their oil. That didn’t suit our aristocracy.” (Deep State/Establishment/Cabals)
            The Middle East ALWAYS had control of their own Oil, until the West sniffed it out..
            AFGHANISTAN – Oil sites located in Amu River basin in the north, HELMAND, Herat and Katawaz in the south eastern province of Paktika.
            IRAQ – has 112.5 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, or about 10% of the world’s known remaining oil. UN (US mouthpiece) sanctions prohibited Iraq from exporting oil until 1996 and Iraq’s output declined by 85% in the years following the First Gulf War. The sanctions were lifted in 2003 after the US-led invasion removed Saddam Hussein from power. Zionist witch Madeline Albright, US Secretary of State, when asked on TV if she thought that the death of half a million Iraqi children from sanctions during the 1990s after the first Gulf War was a price worth paying, said. ”It was worth it”
            LIBYA – Oil reserves are the largest in Africa, Gadhaffi was going to stop trading in US dollars and was going to begin trading in gold. The first thing the US did after arranging to have brutally humiliated and assassinated was to steal 143 Tons of Gold From the Libyan People? 50,000 people murdered and double that amount maimed.
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aiStDp_NcjQ
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbV3ErZDCno
            Yemen -Venezuela – Manila – Lebanon – Russia – North Korea – China, . All on the US radar.

            They didn’t ‘gain’ the oil It was already there, in their land, and belonged to them. Had there been NO resources the US/France/UK would not have given them a second glance.
            https://www.globalpolicy.org/the-dark-side-of-natural-resources-st.html

            Muslim women generally do have choices and are the dominant force. According to my friend, who is a Muslim and ‘chooses’ to wear the Burqa.
            Ask any Muslim man about his Mum?
            The fact is that the Koran has no specific instruction for women to wear any external head to toe veil (burqa), face veil (niqab), covering of head, or for gender-based segregation.
            They can either cover themselves or not.. it is a matter of modesty and how they feel and is their choice.
            Here in the UK. Protestant churches don’t demand the head covered, but the Catholic church does. It depends which branch of the faith you follow?
            Except in Saudi..
            And why should the Burqa be so frightening? I can’t ever remember hearing any hoo ha about Nuns or priests when I was growing up, and they were sinister?.

            • Mishko says

              Indeed, if a girl or woman is comfortable wearing the veil she should wear it.
              And if the veil proves cumbersome she takes it of again. But ofcourse.
              Immigration is wonderful when not overdone. NOT. OVER. DONE.
              For the sake of the natives, so that services and available housing
              do not get overcrowded. As opposed to the current situation.
              Which is also engineered as part of The Strategy Of Tension.
              To promote conflct and chaos in society. (FUD)

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