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What Happens if the Yellow Vests Win?

A View from Vietnam

Andre Vltchek

What if protesters in Paris win, and the French government gives in to all their demands?

What if taxes are reduced, wages increased, President Macron steps down?

I am not talking only about the fuel tax; attempts to impose it have been already abandoned. I am not talking about increase of the minimum wage – the government already agreed to rise it by 100 euro per month.

What I am talking about are real, fundamental changes which many protesters seem to be desiring: substantial tax reduction for the majority of French citizens, generous increase in wages and enhancement of social benefits for all.

So, if the Yellow Vests manage to win all this, then what will happen? Who would benefit? But also, who would lose?

*

One of my readers recently wrote to me that France should reduce its military budget and from those billions of euro saved, could easily finance demands of the protesters.

Another reader wrote that the richest citizens of France (or call them ‘elites’) should be taxed heavily, and the money saved in this way could be then distributed among the poor and the lower middle class.

Sounds ‘reasonable’? Yes, definitely; reasonable and logical. The only tiny defect is: we all know that it will never happen this way.

President Macron was elevated to the throne by precisely those so-called elites. In return, those rich folks expect their privileges to be guaranteed, even swollen.

And to imagine that a NATO member country (in this case France) would suddenly slash its military budget and from what is saved, start to finance various new social programs for the poor and the middle class, is unrealistic, even childish.

So where will the funds come from, if the French government decides to do something truly ‘radical’; radical at least by the standards of our era of turbo-capitalism: to listen to its own people?

Let me stop beating about the bush and ask my question brutally and concretely:

“What if all demands of the Yellow Vests get satisfied; who will pay the bill?”

*

To put all this into a context: I write this essay in Hanoi, capital of socialist Vietnam.

Some time ago, I used to live in this city. I spent almost three years here, when it was still poor, and people remembered war, some even the French colonialism.

Right after I arrived, what shocked me the most was that while the Vietnamese people seemed to ‘forgive’ the USA, they had never forgiven the French colonialists.

“Why?” I asked my friends. “How is it possible? Wasn’t the US bombing and killing campaign during the ‘American War’ (which is known in the West as ‘Vietnam War’) terribly brutal, with millions of Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians losing their lives?”

“Of course, it was”, I was readily explained. “But we fought and, despite the terrible losses and hardship, we defeated Americans in relatively short time. And anyway, it was not only them; members of the coalition also consisted of countries like South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Thailand, and of course, France.”

And the story continued:

“The French were occupying and tormenting us for much longer. They also had been humiliating our people, continuously. They enslaved up, tortured us, took our women, they raped them, and they had stolen all that we had.”

Near where I used to live, was a notorious “Central Jail”, equipped with guillotines, torture chambers, solitary confinement cells. Now, on exhibit there, are monstrous instruments used by the French colonizers, to torture and rape captured Vietnamese patriot women: beer bottles, electric wires, walking canes.

Whatever the colonized Indochina had, was stolen: taken to France, in order to finance construction of grandiose theatres, railroads, metro, parks, and universities. And yes, to subsidize formation of that famous French social system which, as the Yellow Vests are now correctly saying, is being dismantled by the French ‘elites’ and by the political system which they are fully controlling.

Vietnamese people fought bravely against the French, finally defeating them during an iconic battle at Dien Bien Phu. But the victorious Vietnamese Communist forces inherited ransacked, divided land, stripped of its resources and even of its art work (several French intellectuals, including famous writer and later Minister of Culture in de Gaulle’s government, Andre Malraux, confessed to stealing art objects from ‘Indochina’, when he lived there as a young man).

Needless to say, that until now, French companies are brutally pillaging many parts of Southeast Asia, through mining and other neo-colonialist projects, as they do in various areas of Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America.

Now ask in Hanoi, ask in Phnom Penh or Vientiane, whether people of ‘Indochina’ (what an insulting and bizarre name was given to this part of the world by the French, during the colonial era!) are supporting Yellow Vests in Paris? Ask whether they think that if they win concessions in Paris, it would improve life in Asia.

Are you guessing what the answer would be?

*

I don’t say that demands of the people who are fighting in the streets of Paris are wrong. They are not. They are absolutely legitimate.

French elites are brutal, selfish, even perverse. Present French government is simply serving them, as the US presidents are all serving huge corporations, including those deadly military conglomerates. ‘They should go’, they should disappear, give way to what is logical human evolutionary pattern: a socialist, egalitarian society.

But they are not ready to go. On the contrary. They are robbing, for centuries, entire planet, and now they went so far as to plundering their own people (who were used to sharing the booty).

French citizens are not used to being plundered. For centuries they lived well, and for several last decades, they were living ‘extremely well’. They were enjoying some of the most generous benefits anywhere in the world.

Who paid for it? Did it matter? Was it ever important to those in Paris, in other big cities, or in the countryside? Were the French farmers wondering how come they were getting generous subsidies when they were producing excessive amounts of food and wine, but also when they were asked by the government not to produce much of anything? Did they often travel to Senegal, or elsewhere in West Africa, to investigate how these subsidies thoroughly destroyed agriculture sector in several former French colonies? Did they care that lives of millions there were totally ruined? Or that as far as Indonesia or Brazil, French corporations have been, aggressively, taking over food and beverage production, as well as food distribution, and that as a result, food prices in many poor countries skyrocketed to double or triple of what they are in Paris, while the local incomes remain, in some cases, only 10% of those in France?

And the food is only one example. But this essay was supposed to be about something slightly different: about the Yellow Vests, and what will happen if all of their demands would be met.

*

If we agree that the regime that is governing in France, entire West, and in many of its colonies and neo-colonies, is truly monstrous, perverse and brutal, we have to come to a logical conclusion that it is not going to pay the bill for better medical care, education, as well as lower taxes and higher wages of the ordinary French citizens.

If demands of the protesters are met, there will be someone else who will be forced to cover the bill. Most likely tens of millions, or hundreds of millions will be ‘taxed’. And they will not be living in France, or in the European Union, or even anywhere near.

Are protesters of Mouvement des gilets jaunes, thinking about this? Does it matter to them at least a little bit?

It did not in the past, either. Perhaps when few people like Jean Paul Sartre were still alive, these questions were periodically asked. But not lately; not now. Not during this rebellion on Champs-Élysées.

Do people in France question how many millions would have to die in order to improve the quality of life in the French cities and in provinces?

Or perhaps, to ‘compensate’, to cover the social spending, some country would ‘have to be’ invaded? Would it be Iran? Or maybe Venezuela?

The New York Times, in one of its articles about the French provinces, mentioned that people were complaining they cannot afford to even take their wives to a restaurant for dinner, anymore. That is truly serious, but would it justify a battle for Iran or Venezuela, and their consequent plunder, or would it excuse massacre of further few hundreds of thousands of West Papuans?

*

I would suggest something that would help to convince the true internationalists, as well as people all over the pillaged world, that the Mouvement des gilets jaunes is not just selfishly fighting for the benefits that would improve lives of the French citizens, at the expense of many others all over the world:

They should indicate that they understand; that they are not indifferent to others. Say clearly that they are against capitalism and imperialism, against colonialism and plundering of the people and their resources in absolutely all parts of our Planet!

Say that they are for freedom, equality, and fraternity of all human beings, not just French!

Say that this is true revolution, true battle for improving the world, not just for more money, lower taxes, and better benefits exclusively for people who are living in France!

Say that they would never accept any benefits or extra money, if they come from robbing poor and colonized nations of all that have left.

If they do say all this, and if they demonstrate that they truly mean it, I will have to shout Vive la Révolution! and join them – the protesters – wholeheartedly.

But until they do, until I am convinced that their victory would not harm others, millions of others, I’ll continue to be much more concerned about people of Vietnam and Papua, about Iran, Africa, Syria or the entire Middle East, than about whether someone individual in rural France can afford to take his wife for dinner to a restaurant.

Originally published by New Eastern Outlook

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism, a revolutionary novel “Aurora” and a bestselling work of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire”. View his other books here. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo and his film/dialogue with Noam Chomsky “On Western Terrorism”. Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter.

Filed under: empire watch, France, latest

by

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism, a revolutionary novel “Aurora” and a bestselling work of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire”. View his other books here. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo and his film/dialogue with Noam Chomsky “On Western Terrorism”. Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter.

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paul lyne
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paul lyne

HI iv been watching a lot of these french demos and have discovered le RIC theres inteligence to have seen occupy fail and this time the call for no leaders has left the establishment floundering.,initiating violence with flash bombs ,chemical weapons(tear gas)and rubber bullets with snipers on the roofs in waiting.,Le RIC,a referendem initiated by the citizens,binding and written into the constitution,Rules of the RIC yellow vests, no leaders ,unions ,religions,non violent intelligent disruption,for a deeper analysis Roman Light on youtube.in English not many French speak it so RIC is not getting the traction it deserves.The people undivided cannot be… Read more »

Mr. A.
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Mr. A.

From time to time there are rumors about prominent figures of what we can call the alt-left being insiders/CIA agents etc. Like Chris Hedges (I don’t think so). Vltchek with his third world babble is a good candidate .Though I don’t think he represents other than himself. But his sort of left wing globalism isn’t that far from much of the establishment. I don’t understand why he is published so often. So he thinks we should not support working class revolts in Western Europe because the elite might use it against third world countries? What sort of evidence does he… Read more »

frank
Reader
frank

IF the author of this article thinks that life in the west can only improve at the cost of life everywhere else he is of course wrong. The “money” is there, it’s just that it goes to the 1%, not everybody else. There are enough resources in the world for everybody to live well. (It’s true that this raping and raiding of other countries is going on, but that’s not the fault of the people, it’s the fault of the system and the 1%.) But ok, I don’t think the author is thinking this. “They should indicate that they understand;… Read more »

leruscino
Reader

The author very obviously does NOT live in France & misses the point gravely. I live in France & you have it half right that the 1% can share and there is more than enough to go around and that while charity begins at home the Gilets Jaunes are not selfish & indifferent however the are f**kd against the wall. The other part Mr. Vltchek misses is MASSIVE – MACRON WAS NOT ELECTED PRESIDENT BY “THE PEOPLE” ! He was shoe-horned in by a corrupt MSM, a corrupt Francois Hollande & a very corrupted electoral rigging game. In France we… Read more »

frank
Reader
frank

Macron won the election with 66.1% of the vote. Marine Le Pen was second with 33.9%.
(The opinion polls BTW were similar.)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017_French_presidential_election#Opinion_polls

Are you saying the election was rigged? They faked the results?

leruscino
Reader

Yes on both counts & “The People” know it as we saw what happened here on the ground !

frank
Reader
frank

“What if taxes are reduced, wages increased, President Macron steps down?”

All of those are just cosmetics. (Macron btw was democratically elected.)

What really needs to change is the system as a whole, including for example the banking system, and that’s not going to happen.

They’ll get some crumbs thrown their way -at best- and that will be that.

James Connolly
Reader
James Connolly

What happens if they don’t win?

bc
Reader
bc

Generous social spending must be compensated for by invading other countries? Really? When has that ever been the case? Social spending in the UK only began in earnest with decolonization. Today the western country with the least generous social spending is the world’s most rapacious invader, while those with the most generous social spending – the Nordic countries -have not invaded anybody to pursue that course. The gilets jaunes and occupy movements are not cheerleading for western imperialism or TNCs. They are ordinary working people protesting increasingly blatant and grotesque inequality in their own societies .. the fruits of domestic… Read more »

Ken Kenn
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Ken Kenn

” Who will pay the bill?” The one’s who sent the Colonial invoices and got paid on the invoices and benefited from those receipts and still benefit to this day. That is the Rich – the Elites – call them what you may but Andre seems to not want to give the bill to that class for fear that they won’t pay it. The whole West has materially benefited from the ‘trickle down ‘ effect of Colonialism for centuries. This is how you build up a class force to defend the robbery of the Upper Classes. It’s not new at… Read more »

axisofoil
Reader

I see Andre’s core message as being quite clear and I couldn’t agree with him more. Until we care about those who catastrophically suffer….. in our name, our comparatively minuscule suffering will continue. Are we really complicit in ‘that’ suffering? If so, how so? Let’s say the occupy movement had started with one single, focused, intentional demand….’no profits of war’. It might have drawn attention to the actual motivation behind needless atrocities. How could it not? Throw in full amnesty for past genocides to make it easier on them. Use part of saved billions to pay the laid off contractors.… Read more »

Antonym
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Antonym

No mention of the Marine Le Pen, whose election was prevented by French deep state through Macron – even here: predictable. Mass immigration has to stay untouchable.

jag37777
Reader

Macron was invented to stop Melenchon and neuter the left.

Antonym
Reader
Antonym

Fake recent history…

jag37777
Reader

Oh yeah, the elites never worry about the popular left. They’re terrified of the right wing fake populists.

Christ on a bike. It’s not all about race you know.

Gary Weglarz
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Gary Weglarz

Vltchek of course is right on the money with this analysis. Which makes it hard for me to understand much of the negative commentary here in response. The same can be said of the goals of the Yellow Vest movement as can be said of the goals of both Occupy Wall Street in the U.S. or the massive support for Bernie Sanders here for president in 2016. All are concerned – NOT about the illegal immoral imperial foreign policy of France and the U.S. which enriches the West while slaughtering the poor – but instead that DOMESTIC economic conditions improve… Read more »

Francis Lee
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Francis Lee

Yes, empire and domestic democracy cannot co-exist in the longer run. And the methods of rule in the empire are brought home in the final stages of imperial overstretch. That is where we are now, and that is what Thucydides taught us.

Starac
Reader
Starac

Another high class painting by Vitchek. Thank you.
Not everybody is able or want to see it as is; then try to argue that some small parts should be different colour…
Happy new year.

Bernardo1871
Reader
Bernardo1871

of course that many/most yellow vests don’t care about imperialist wars, now by proxies. but even if they don’t know that the people who wage wars in the world are the same people who control the banking oligarchy, the yellow vest movement is a good thing because the people take the streets, they want to decide, to have the power.

perhaps the yellow vest will bring NUTTIN’ yet it’s still better that if nothing happened.

John G
Reader
John G

Until the Euro goes the way of the dodo, neoliberalism and austerity will rule.
Imperialism isn’t about stealing money. It is about stealing resources and labour.
Money is virtual and infinite.

John G
Reader
John G

Money isn’t a finite resource, Andrew.

Jen
Reader
Jen

I’m afraid this post by Vltchek displays his naivety about the French people as exemplified by the Gilets Jaunes movement. He gives himself away by saying in one paragraph that the French people lived well “for centuries”. If that had been the case, the French Revolution would never have occurred in 1789 and a monarchy (and all the elitist and hierarchical associations existing in France at the time) might have survived well into the 19th century. There would have been perhaps no Napoleon Bonaparte and the history of western Europe in the 19th century would have been so different that… Read more »

vexarb
Reader

Talking of Vietnam, here’s Gorgeous George’s gorgeous comparison:

George Galloway @georgegalloway – 11:46 utc – 31 Dec 2018
The defeat of the Imperialist Armies and their head-chopping auxiliaries in the Alphabet Soup of Islamist Extremism by the Syrian Arab Army and its Allies was _the Most Significant Event of the Year or any year since the US defeat in Vietnam_.
It will change the world.”

https://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/12/syria-country-of-the-year-2018.html

[Happy New Year, World!]

bevin
Reader
bevin

“French citizens are not used to being plundered.} This is nonsense. ” For centuries they lived well,..” So is this. far from ‘living well’ the French were horrible exploited. So badly indeed that their country became notorious for its, bloody, revolutions. “..and for several last decades, they were living ‘extremely well’. They were enjoying some of the most generous benefits anywhere in the world…” By which, I presume, the author means that during the post war period, for reasons with which he really ought to be familiar, the French working class made gains in living standards. These are the gains… Read more »

zach
Reader
zach

It’s a last-resort argument, regularly deployed by the Thomas Friedmans of this world.

Estaugh
Reader
Estaugh

Andre; A lot of people don’t have the wherewithal to put food on the table, let alone taking the missus to a resto. If nobody was to suffer harm, revolutions would have never taken place, ever.

Loverat
Reader
Loverat

Looking around my office today, I saw a few orange vests (fire reps)

How about another Glorious revolution?

DunGroanin
Reader
DunGroanin

The highwater mark of western imperialists centuries of conquest and financiers in the far east was Vietnam. It has just reached its zenith in the ME with Syria, there will be no extension to Iran. China, India, Pakistan are not going to be anyones bitches anymore either. Russia is being pushed in their direction rather than Europe. Africa is still totally ecploitef and South America is on the turn. Without the plunder of the resources and environment USA/Canada/Australia would be great wild places instead of dustbowls they will end up. Andre is correct – as long as the unhomogenous yellow… Read more »

joekaye52831
Reader

Absolutely shameful attempt from the “Left” to discredit and oppose a legitimate mass movement. Rather than encourage internationalism, his specious reasoning makes a mockery of it. The Yellow Vests movement is part of a process that brings sections of people not previously politically involved into the struggle against French monopoly capitalism and hence French imperialism.

BigB
Reader
BigB

I so want to agree wholeheartedly with Andre on this topic. Especially on the ‘Sartrean Imperative’ of radical responsibility and conscious choice …i.e. when we choose, we choose for everyone: which is the basis of an Existential Humanism. But Andre has picked the wrong target: as Narrative has already pointed out. The Gilets Jaunes do want to end ‘FrancAfrique’ exploitation and neo-colonial wars – and leave NATZO – they are not just thinking of themselves. As such, they should not be tarred with the sins of their colonial forefathers. They have had enough: we should join them …at least in… Read more »