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The Gilet Jaune and ‘France Profonde’

The fight for democracy in the deep countryside

David Studdert

Image source.

On the 12th December The Guardian published an article entitled ‘If you want to understand the Gilets Jaunes you have to leave Paris’. The article had little by way of analysis, devoting itself to a standard ‘look at me I live in France’ one up man-ship. The ostensible topic, the Gilets Jaunes and questions concerning why now, who and where – surely the key questions – were largely ignored or under-developed.

I too live in France, about 800 kilometres from Paris: in South West France. My department is one of the poorest in the country. Moreover, even within this department, the area where I reside is backward in a developmental and progressivist sense: there are no motorways, the towns are little more than villages, there is little by the way of hospitals, work or facilities and, despite its fantastic natural beauty in the shade of the Pyrenees, the towns display an obvious air of poverty, unemployment and civic decay.

Support for the Gilets Jaunes is everywhere. One in two cars display some sort of yellow vest on their dash. In the conversations at local bars, in the anger and ferocity filling the language of placid individuals, in the complaints of small shop-keepers and finally, in the Christmas newsletter from the mayor of my village.

It’s an anger that’s has been building for a long time. The two lane main road from Auch to Toulouse has been blocked by strikers, farmers or truckers, on a dozen occasions in the last two years. Two months before the initial protests in Paris, a worker at the local hardware store spent 10 minutes listing to me all the complaints which subsequently informed the protests.

But more evidence of the long-standing anger now exploding is contained in the prolonged, spontaneous, entirely local and informal guerrilla campaign targeting French radar speed cameras.

A campaign which means that, currently, it is estimated that nearly three-quarters of the radars across France are out of service.

In my department, only one out of twenty-seven is still intact and that remaining one has been wrapped in state plastic bags to avoid ‘citizen decommissioning’.

The figures are staggering nationwide: 18 radars are out of service in the Alpes-Maritimes, 18 in the Var (out of 21), 60% in the two departments of Eure and Seine-Maritime, 25 out of 34 in Tarn-et- Garonne, 14 out of 15 in Cantal, 20 out of 30 in Allier, half in Indre, Morbihan and Nièvre, 19 out of 34 in Eure-et-Loire, 25 out of 27 in Côtes-d’Armor , 10 out of 16 in the Cher, 16 out of 33 in the Yonne and 40 out of 57 in the Gard.

In Nord-pas-de-Calais, the Voix du Nord counted at the beginning of December 5 intact radar out of 70, in the Puy-de-Dôme only one remains from 22, in Dordogne 3 out of 24. In the Alpes de Haute-Provence they are all out of order, 18 out of 28 are in Haute-Loire, 14 out of 27 in the Landes, 19 out of 23 in Dordogne, 10 out of 21 in Mayenne, 33 out of 44 in Oise, 22 out of 24 in the Channel, 10 out of 27 in Haute-Saône – one of the least affected departments with Corrèze (5 out of 21). Most of these have been destroyed with a combination of metal grinders and tyres filled with petrol.

The Gilets Jaunes’ demands are based in part around driving. In a lot of ways their struggle is a struggle for movement, basic movement, entry level requirement movement like getting to work; the movement required to live in the most immediate sense. This is the social world of practices and everyday actions. It is not the world of globalist abstractions.

These demands for movement concern police speed practices lowering the speed limit for revenue raising, and of course the price of diesel. The war against the speed cameras informal, spontaneous, uncoordinated, is the fight of the social world against the state noose, a desperate desire to breathe. Yet the demands of my very local group (composed of the small local town and surrounding villages) include the following as well: ‘No to the carbon tax for individuals, yes for polluters. Really force manufacturers to provide us with products that are not overwrapped, more ecological, more intelligent. Coherent and efficient public transport in our countryside’.

Yet they are also demanding reversion to 75% minimum inflation indexation of wages allowance for disability pensioners; revision of retirement and taxation brackets. True increase in purchasing power without help from the SS. Political will to cancel tax evasion. Suppression of privileges for the elected and their home. Tax transparency. Possibility of visibility of expenditures of all state agencies by taxpayers.

In other words, these are the demands of an impoverished populace in rural locations, currently reliant on cars and with little income. As the local mayor put it in his strongly worded Christmas newsletter, an abandonment of rural areas in the service of the profit from excessive recentralisation and the ideologically led development of metropolitan centres.

Now the Gilet Jaune have emerged into public view via Television and the abstract world of global news; now, for the last ten weeks, there have gathered on a unprepossessing roundabout down the road, a tiny group of somewhere between 10 and 16 people waving Gilets Jaune banners and wearing yellow vests.

The two local gendarmes stand quietly watching these people hand out flyers, barbecue their lunch on an overturned oil drum and encourage motorists honking their support. It’s freezing cold across the bare landscape of clay fields. For the most part the Gilets Jaunes on this roundabout are middle aged men, though there is a regular stream of both women and some younger men. All of them are dressed in multiple layers of cheap clothing and every time a car passes, (this is not a heavily trafficked road), they leap and run to them calling and yelling for support, not in an aggressive manner but with enthusiasm and energy. And this is the same throughout the region.

On a recent trip of forty five minutes I encountered 7 of these roundabout protests. All were bigger, some have set up tents, many decorated with the French tricolor; all of them have BBq’s blazing, all of them exhibit a friendly fervour as if they have suddenly discovered they are not alone. They offer passing motorists demands clearly printed locally, some of which mirror wider demands, some which are particular to the area. Many of these roundabout groups have strong female contingents and youth presence. Evidence for this wider support is everywhere: the local farmer who lent them his field adjacent to a roundabout so the Gilets could erect a cabin for cups of tea. Trucks honk continually, cars too, three quarters of the cars have yellow vests on their dashboard or trailing behind. In every village houses are decked with yellow vests dangling from windows or nailed to doors and this is repeated all over France as even a cursory glance at Gilets Jaunes Facebook sites confirms. Motorways are being blocked, not continually but steadily, all over the country, either by groups of protestors or truck drivers or farmers.

Nor is this support simply confined to what could be loosely termed working class people. Support, at least in my area, covers everyone, working and middle class people alike. It includes for instance the woman PA for a managing director of quite a big company; a woman who, despite having worked at the company for 16 years, is still being paid what is colloquially referred to as the ‘smic’, the minimum wage.

Indeed almost all the people around here are paid the bare ‘smic’ no matter what their qualifications, something true of 80% of provincial France. Another woman described as basically running a large storage facility, performing all admin, doing the accounts is, despite her university degree, similarly only earning ‘smic’. For this middle class social capital she travels almost two hours a day.

All complain constantly about taxes; uniformly they claim to have nothing left at month’s end. These are all real examples and along with that there exist other more pernicious impositions draining their income. The common practice concerning Public holidays for instance; many of which in France fall on Tuesdays or Thursdays. In such circumstances, companies will commonly announce a compulsory closure on the intervening Monday or Friday; in the process making what is termed in France a ‘jour de pont’: a week end bridge. Of course, workers don’t get paid for this compulsory bridge. If they want to be paid they take it as part of their annual leave.

In this area, the Gilets Jaunes ARE the social world, all the people and all the world. And because they are so diverse their protests didn’t begin with the certainty of ideology, or a traditional political affiliation or indeed any wild ideas concerning ‘the correct organisation of the working class’ or the purity of the race. Things are far too serious for that.

The people protesting at the local roundabout are, in effect protesting on behalf of the being-ness of their entire social world. Further, as proved by the endless YouTube/Facebook posts, the spontaneous actions of these people are simultaneously mirroring actions, ideas and perspectives appearing all over the entire rural world of France, everywhere outside Paris.

The Gilets Jaunes is the revolt of France Profonde – the social world of Deep France, defined as:

an expression used originally by Parisians to designate the provinces in opposition to Paris. More generally, it refers to the most remote regions of France, without urbanization and rooted in tradition. It can have a pejorative connotation depending on the context.’

The hint of class prejudice in the final line is crucial. Paris, even before it was the nominated as the single globalist city for France, for long before that, Paris has sneered at and despised Deep France.

Simply by its existing, Deep France is in revolt against globalisation and therefore against Paris and the French state. But it is something else that really terrifies and disgusts Parisians of all political persuasions, left and right, concerning France Profonde. France Profonde is also a revolt in the name of something positive, a vision of France as a place of equality, a place of valued parts, not one single globalised whole no matter how pure.

What’s more, Paris knows that, whether it be the industrialised North or the rurality of the south, it is this ragged positive vision, shared at the level of personal and communal being-ness which unites the Gilets against the state.

Deep France is more a feeling and a meaning in common than an ideology. Which is why it is ragged and uneven and hybrid and diverse. As it should be.

This is the vision contained in the dirty flags that strew the country roundabouts or the dirty scraps of yellow vest, poking from an upstairs window.

And if this positive vision were encapsulated in abstraction, then it is through their vision of equality, fraternity, equality and liberty, the three words that best reflect the contradictions and truths within their own lives. A slogan which encapsulates for them what they are, what their world is and why it needs to be protected. It is a demand both from them and in protection of their lived experience. And this is why it is not xenophobic nationalism, indeed not nationalism at all. It is far too particular, far too local far too concrete.

This is why the term ‘those left behind’ is yet another silly liberal metropolitan designation. If the Gilet on my roundabout wanted to be in Paris they’d have been there a long time ago. Lots of people they know already are. What these people are doing instead is standing up for their culture, their own place and their own understanding both of what it means, and of their place in it. They are here because they want to be…who they are.

And that’s why the Gilet movement won’t go away. The concrete nature of their demands reveals a concrete understanding of their own lives, of its meaning and their place in their own particular space.

Round here, all over France, Deep France, the people, the Gilets Jaunes are being strangled and having trouble breathing — on Facebook they are saying so:

This situation is becoming unsustainable. Unbreathable even. When I see our dear president. That some have elected, who is mocking people who are at 40 € / week (see less like me and so many others) saddens me. Really and sincerely. I’M 27 years old. For 8 days I’m at 0,32 € on my account. I (on) live with 550,93 € of RSA a month. No, I’m not ashamed to talk about it, I’m not ashamed at least. I have been in the family for several years. With some financial participations when I can and when I get to find an interim mission or just a simple job, no matter what nature. Next month I have to find a housing. But with 550 € I do how Mr President? Rent around my house is at 400 € minimum for 17 m2… 150 € for (on) Live 30 days? My phone package, loads (water / elec), my tobacco (because yes as we report it some smoke) and to finish the food of my cats and mine. It’s just impossible. Currently my fridge is empty, I don’t know how I’m going to do the end of the month I even wonder if I shouldn’t go search in the trash and put aside my dignity (I’ll probably have the face masked and hooded so don’t stop me thanks, I’m not a breaker).

The worst part about this is that I say that not to complain or ask for money or anything. I say that because there are probably hundreds of thousands of people who are worse than in my case. And it saddens me. Really and sincerely. It makes me nightmares, no longer finding sleep.
I don’t know if this post is of great use, I just needed to say what I had on my heart because it weighs me. I needed to express myself a little bit and I thought here would have been the best place. It may be possible to raise awareness of people who do not understand why we are fighting and that we all have a different perspective.

You will forgive me for the few mistakes and the few provocation in this letter.

It is the concreteness of their demands coupled with the materiality of their sociality upon the street and at the roundabout which contrasts the Gilets Jaunes so markedly with the shiny abstractions of Paris: Macron, Austerity, the EU, the banks, the globalisers clustered around him, ideologues of both Left and Right; Paris, a culture of symbols and representation in all its shapes, tasks and forms.

Macron the president of abstraction, conjures another abstraction: ‘the national debate’. His acting out of this new simulacrum makes him even more hated and despised. In turn, he and the French state become increasingly puzzled. The authorised television culture, the mainstream media and the government (who can tell them apart?), are increasingly paralysed by this revolt. The globalist world strikes back on a cultural level: gathers philosophers in the person of Bernard Henri Levy; it poses questions of radical sixties chic symbols like baby boomer Cohn Bendit, all the time not realising that among the Gilets, these are two of the most hatred individuals in France. The only answer global France has to France Profonde in fact, is more police violence and more abstract representation.

Seven weeks after the supposed abandonment of the diesel tax, diesel prices start creeping up again and the state believes people won’t notice. In everything Macron says, week after week, he manages to somehow insult the people, even as he’s claiming to listen.
And yet, despite this constant shiny tv propaganda which isn’t working, the truth is somewhat different. Slowly, slowly, the struggle for breath that drives the Gilets Jaunes, is, week by week, immobilising Macron and the state.

And the Gilets Jaunes are achieving this reversal entirely with their particularity – their list of demands, because these demands are lived demands – lived in the demonstrations, lived in their own communal particular, lived at work, month by month.

Every week the Gilets demonstrate and every working week they return again to experience the conditions that fuel more demonstrations, more communication, more determination.

In the weekly spaces of appearance: the Paris demos, the roundabouts, the newsletters and the conversations, the Gilets Jaunes find their own meaning in common; a meaning which unites everyone, which transcends ideology. And this meaning in common is what makes it easy to tell a real Gilet.

Abstractions like ‘reform’, ‘revolution’, ‘working class’, ‘revolutionaries’ and ‘reformist’, ‘popularism’, ‘boufs’; essentialist categories like race, identity, workers, nationalists, fascists, troublemakers, blah blah, these names and the actions they perform, are from a disappearing politics, a twentieth century politics of neat forms, endless demarcations, barriers, issues; most of all a Twentieth Century politics of removal, representation and calcification.

This language and this thinking no longer fit the Gilets. For them, it is a hollow formal language describing neither their social being-ness nor their life.

In the best quote of the entire 10 weeks, one said:

How can I think about the end of the world, I can barely think to the end of the month.’

France Profonde is coming together and is finding its own meanings and social power and they are doing this by being with each other in action together. It is they who are getting stronger, weekend by weekend and the paralysed state which is diminishing, even as it does nothing, even as nothing changes; even as its police force blind a twenty year old women in one eye. Even as forty seven people die or are badly injured.

Copyright David Studdert 27/1/2019

72 Comments

  1. bevin says

    CALL FOR THE FIRST “ASSEMBLY OF THE ASSEMBLIES” OF THE YELLOW VESTS

    We, the Yellow Vests of roundabouts, car parks, squares, assemblies and demonstrations, have gathered this 26 and 27 January 2019 in an ‘assembly of the assemblies’, uniting a hundred delegations, responding to the Call Of The Yellow Vests of Commercy (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GB1-Sg4jt7Y&t=14s).

    Since 17 November, from the smallest village, from the rural world to the largest city, we have risen up against this deeply violent, unjust and unbearable society. We won’t let it happen again! We revolt against high cost of living, insecurity and poverty. We want our loved ones, our families and our children to live in dignity. 26 billionaires own as much as half of humanity. That is unacceptable. Let us share the wealth, and not poverty! Let us put an end to social inequality! We demand the immediate increase in salaries, welfare benefits, allowances and pensions, and the unconditional right to housing and health, education, free public services, for all

    It is for all these rights that we occupy roundabouts every day, that we organise actions and demonstrations, and that we debate everywhere. With our yellow vests, we are taking the floor, we who never have it.

    And what is the government’s response? Repression, contempt, denigration; deaths and thousands of wounded, the massive use of firearms that mutilate, blind, injure and traumatise. More than 1,000 people have been arbitrarily sentenced and imprisoned. And now the new so-called “anti-hooligan” law aims simply to prevent us from demonstrating. We condemn all violence against demonstrators, whether it comes from the forces of law and order or from violent groups. None of this will stop us! Protesting is a fundamental right. End the impunity of the forces of law and order. Declare an amnesty for all victims of repression!

    And what a dirty trick this great national debate is, which is in fact a government public relations campaign, which exploitsour will to debate and decide! We practice true democracy in our assemblies and on our roundabouts, not on the TV or at the pseudo- round tables organised by Macron.

    After insulting us and treating us to less than nothing, he is now presenting us as a Fascist and xenophobic hate mob. But we are quite the opposite: neither racist, nor sexist, nor homophobic, we are proud to be together, with our differences, to build a supportive society.

    We are strong in the diversity of our discussions; at this very moment hundreds of assemblies are elaborating and proposing their own demands. They concern real democracy, social and fiscal justice, working conditions, environmental and climate justice, and the end of discrimination. Among the most debated strategic demands and proposals, we find: the eradication of poverty in all its forms, the transformation of institutions (referenda, end of the privileges of elected officials…), ecological transition (fuel poverty, industrial pollution…), equality and the inclusion of all people regardless of their nationality (the disabled, equality between men and women, an end to the abandonment of working-class neighbourhoods, the rural world and the overseas territories)…).

    We, Yellow Vests, invite everyone, according to his means and capacities, to join us. We call for laws to be respected and executed (12 against police violence in police stations, laws 13, 14…), the continuation of the occupation of roundabouts and the blockade of the economy, a massive strike and repeating from 5 February. We call for the formation of committees in the workplace, in educational institutions, and everywhere else, so that this strike can be built from the bottom up by the strikers themselves. Let’s get matters in hand! Don’t be alone, join us!

    Let us organise ourselves democratically, autonomously and independently! This assembly of assemblies is an important step that allows us to discuss our demands and our means of action. Let us unite to transform society!

    We propose that all Yellow Vests circulate this call. If, as a group, you agree, send your signature to Commercy (assembleedesassemblees@gmail.com). Do not hesitate to discuss and formulate proposals for the next “Assembly of the Assemblies”, which we are already preparing.

    Macron must resign! Long live the power of the people, for the people and by the people!

    Call proposed by the Assembly of the Assemblies of Commercy.

    It will then be proposed for adoption by each of the local assemblies.
    (Translated from French by Prof. William Mallinson)

  2. bevin says

    In his Peasant Wars of the Twentieth Century Eric Wolf referring to the Chinese gentry, writes that when they subject peasant communities to the vagaries of the capitalist market system they move into the cities leaving agents to collect their rents and impose their demands;
    “at the same time they lose their ability to respond to social cues from the affected population. Instead they couple economic callousness with a peculiar kind of structurally induced stupidity, the kind of stupidity which ascribes to the people themselves responsibility for the evils to which they are subject. Defensive stereotypes take the place of analytical intelligence in one of those classic cases of blindness with which the gods strike those whom they wish to destroy.”
    That seems to me to sum up precisely the attitudes of contemporary ruling classes to the people that globalisation is affecting so ruinously. In France but elsewhere too, it is the attitude of the political caste of Remainers in the UK. Of successive US governments and throughout the EU..
    “…economic callousness with a peculiar kind of structurally induced stupidity, the kind of stupidity which ascribes to the people themselves responsibility for the evils to which they are subject. Defensive stereotypes take the place of analytical intelligence in one of those classic cases of blindness with which the gods strike those whom they wish to destroy.”
    The gilets jaunes are agents of the gods then.

  3. Good article and some interesting comments here.

    The reporting of the Gilet Jaunes vis-a-vis the so called Venezuelan opposition by the supine WMSM is all too stark but also too predictable. As the psychotic caravan moves on to another regime change scenario. It is clear now that the globalist cabal is retreating into its latent fascist tendencies, more blatantly and rapidly than before as capitalism descends, yet again, into another phase of unprecedented wealth accumulation by the global aristocracies and elites. The accumulation of stolen resources and surplus labour.

    Of course we see that in France the resistance is against this and therefore has to be demonised while in Venezuelan the faux opposition valorized.

    Socialism and the redistribution of wealth, against capitalism and the accumulation of wealth, the battle lines are being drawn again.

  4. Carl Jones says

    Good article. Like most Western countries, France is run by Zionists. Brexit brings problems to rural France. Funding being the biggest. Second will be the UN Agenda 21 & Agenda 30 & sustainability. France being very nuclear, it is pretty green, so how can the elite demonstrate on a global level their sham global warming progress? Simple, force people out of rural communities by making travel unaffordable. The next is AI & robotics. Who needs farmers? Basically, most people are no longer needed and the idea is to get as many people living in urban poverty under state surveillance.

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    • Thomas Malthus 2.0 says

      I wonder why the Yellow Vests do not take a page out of the farmers’ book … and park thousands of cars on the major roads of cities across France.

      Surely the government would not be able to clear out thousands of vehicles????

    • Charles says

      Blaming the Jews for France’s problems does not help it just undermines your argument. Do not blame Brexit for creating problems in rural France. France is a wealthy leading economic power and its people have social benefits that people of the U.K. would love to have. The problem with France is that Paris believes in Europe, carbon taxes and climate change and forgets that it’s people need a little bit of dignity.

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      • mark says

        It’s not a question of “blaming the Jews.” It’s down to neoliberalism and globalism. But you have to recognise the reality – in France youngsters have been prosecuted for wearing BDS T shirts. And Zionist thugs in the “Jewish Defence League” are allowed to run riot and beat up anyone they disagree with. This is classed as a terrorist organisation even in the US and Israel.

      • Carl Jones says

        I didn’t say Jews, I said Zionists! France will have rural problems because they get a huge chunk of the EU budget & that budget will take a big blow when the UK Brexits.

  5. tagio says

    Very good article, thank you. As an American who cringed when Hillary Clinton defended herself in defeat by crowing, in real Macron-esque fashion, that she “won the places moving forward, not moving backward,” and the places with the most GDP, I follow this story with great interest. https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/378070-clinton-i-won-places-moving-forward-trump-won-places-moving-backward

    The Gilets Jaunes are the most significant development since Occupy Wall Street, and are a far more powerful movement. So far, the top sociopaths (I refuse to call them the “elites”) have failed to co-opt them or buy them off. The French are modeling, for the world to see, a form of resistance that is very hard to deal with short of very serious repression. The Gilets Jaunes have figured out that the cities are not the sui generis, independent economic powerhouses they think themselves to be. They are, first and foremost concentrated focal points for mass consumption of all of the flows going into them from the much-derided hinterlands. Their vaunted GDP numbers predominantly reflect the fact that they are little more than concentrated centers of mass consumption.

    The French have figured out that you just disrupt these in-bound flows and you expose the Achilles’ Heel, and shatter the delusional fantasy that the city is somehow a free-standing economic powerhouse that can ignore the periphery as unnecessary, a land that time is passing by. Shut down the highways, the in-bound trucks, shut down tolls and disrupt the tax revenues, shut down the shopping districts at Christmas time and cause hundreds of millions in losses. The flows have too many sources and choke points to be effectively policed. In short, the effort to maintain or elevate the status of the metropolis by withdrawing support for, and shifting ever more costs to the periphery, has a very fatal flaw; it is self-delusional not to see it.

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  6. bevin says

    Fair Dinkum writes about the ‘CocaCOLONisation’ of the planet, Christophe Guilluy’s Twilight of the Elites puts it this way:
    ” An Americanized Society
    ” Ever since the national referendum to ratify the European Union in 1992,1 the real divide has been between neoliberals and sovereignists, between the winners in the contest of globalization and the losers, between the great cities and peripheral France. This sociocultural split is not specific to France; with the steady adaptation to a global economic regime and the reaction of the working class against it, the same cleavage has appeared in all developed countries. Everywhere the system of open markets and free trade creates its own internal resistance. From peripheral America to peripheral England to peripheral France, dissent has grown in areas that are now home to a majority of people of modest means, people who used to belong to the middle class. The social and cultural crisis of identity that affects the whole of the developed world today is a consequence of the hollowing out of the middle class in a majority of professional categories. Government policies have been powerless to stem the rising tide of globalization. France has become an American society like the others, an inegalitarian and multicultural society in which the middle class shrinks, social and geographical imbalances become more destabilizing, and a tense standoff between the classes takes the place of shared interests….”

  7. Carmel MacIntyre says

    Just a question: I posted two (fairly anodine) comments earlier today – haven’t seen either of them yet. Any reason?

  8. Carmpat says

    I applaud some of the gilets jaunes’ actions and demands and this article is overall fair but it’s a pity that the author repeats the simplistic claims of many in deepest France that the reduction of the speed limit to 80kmh on secondary roads is to earn more money from radar revenues – what about it’s ‘side-effect’ of reducing the number of accidents? Not worth mentioning?
    And the use of ‘shiny’ in referring to Paris – is the author aware that the most severe poverty in France is in the Paris conurbation? So please let’s not get too carried away with the old salt-of-the-earth type image of Rural France = good; Paris = bad.

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    • Jen says

      There could be other, more effective ways of reducing the number of accidents on non-arterial roads in country areas – such as improving the design and conditions of roads and/or giving local communities and councils the decision-making capacity to decide which roads can and should be upgraded and to what level. All this of course either costs money or decentralises decision-making.

      Also reducing speed limits on secondary roads can put pressure on truck drivers (who have to work to strict time schedules) to take detours onto other roads which can put other drivers and pedestrians at increased risk from accidents.

      On top of all this, there probably needs to be more decentralisation of government, industry, work and culture away from Paris, so that all roads (and train networks) do not necessarily lead to Paris. Why is France often thought of as Paris versus the rest of the country?

      I can appreciate that historically the development of modern “France” was based around the development of Paris and the language and culture associated with the city, and how these superseded local languages and cultures in the rest of what came to constitute “France” – but that historical trend should have reached its use-by date decades ago, at least after the 1940s, when Nazi occupation of Paris should have showed the French people how dangerous it was to rely on Paris and Paris only.

  9. bevin says

    Alistair Crooke, At Strategic Culture, makes this excellent observation:
    ” What is sometimes lost is that the élites, particularly in those faux nation-states that were sloughed-off by European colonialism after WW1, not only have defined themselves through the narrative of ‘there is no alternative’ to credit-induced prosperity, but they have also integrated into the cosmopolitan international, élite rich. They are in it, and of it. They have severed from their own cultural roots from which they sprang, yet claim to ‘lead’ in their ‘world’.”
    This is true of the French political caste. It is particularly true too of that in the UK which seems to have lost touch not only with its roots-among the population- but with reality.
    The whole article is worth studying. Crooke is one of the most reliable of current commentators,.
    https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2019/01/28/progressive-artifice-democratic-impotence-world-finally-gets-it.html

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    • The Alistair Crooke article started out looking promising until he got into the whole debt derangement. China cannot sell of their treasury holdings without eliminating their export market, nor can the US other major trading partners such as Germany. Michael Pettis is good on these issues: http://carnegieendowment.org/chinafinancialmarkets/77009

      While some kind of financial panic, driven like the last one by bank or other non-bank private debt, remains a real possibility, the US has denominated all its debts in a currency only it can produce and can produce in unlimited quantities, so the US Government will continue to be solvent. The US real issues have to do with ending the addiction of world financial markets to the infinite fiat the US can and has been creating while trying to address massive problems of real resource misallocation.

      The problems of the Gilet Jaune are analogous to those of the US “deplorables”, this much Crooke has right. His focus on the monetary abstraction is in kind no different from Macron’s.

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  10. This anti-globalist (and anti-immigrationist) movement shows how correct was the strategy of the Front National and Marine Le Pen. Something that, on the other hand, was obvious, since France’s political oligarchy had to dissolve and reorganise itself to create an ersatz FN party, without the all important anti-immigrationism, to propel its new creation, Mr Macron, to power.
    Today, the workers of France have seen through the fake ‘ecological’ globalist movement, that taxes and penalises those who comply with the law and environmental regulations in the West and, at the same time, allows a brutal and unlimited environmental aggression in the Third World, in order to protect unfair competition against the workers of the West. The genie is out of the bottle.

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  11. romanianalien says

    The movement has been infiltrated and thats already common knowledge. Keep dreaming!

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    • eggtimer says

      how can you be sure it wasn’t designed from it’s outset – is it another baited booby trap ?

  12. Excellent article. Will share widely. What offG used to be good at, before running a growing amount of alt-right garbage.

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  13. Grafter says

    Great article. Funny none of this was reported on our great British BBC propaganda channel.

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  14. Try to become independant.. local trading enterprises…LETS schemes…..all that kind of stuff…..never has there been such opportunities to do this….set up your own tv channel or equivalent…..print your own newspapers….you can print them on demand these days… mobilise the International! Keep the true values of rural life….the land matters….http://www.thelandmagazine.org.uk
    not millions of people trained to spend their lives doing spreadsheets about spreadsheets for spreadsheets with spreadsheets for spreadsheets about spreadsheets. Bring back creativity.
    https://reconomycentre.org

    Etc

    Set your own up….are there farmers unions…independant local business organisations….set up websites….arrange local meetings…get medical services and pensioners associations ….retired military organisations moblised!

    • growsome says

      Yes….that Is an answer Jo – all that lovely land surrounding them, So…instead of asking the system to screw them a little less – the communes could get together and work it – they just got to get over that heated 3 hour meeting to change a bulb in a street light routine.

  15. Hurrah! At last, an article in English, well-informed and on the nail as to the GJ’s nature and motivations. I live in Lot et Garonne in the South West, and here too support is unstinting. Last week 10,000 demonstrated in Toulouse. Macron’s ‘Grand Débat’ is classic Blairite bollocks – and clearly seen as that beyond the pro-Paris MSM. The middle class support comes from taxes foncières doubled, auto-removal of tax demands from bank accounts, restrictions on paying cash and the inflation of toll road costs. The élite are starting the process of turning the citizen upside down to fleece the poor beggar, but the 21st century sans culottes aren’t having it.
    Vivent les gilets jaunes!

    https://hat4uk.wordpress.com/2019/01/27/the-sunday-essay-dissent-or-deny-care-or-cry-devolve-or-die/

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  16. vexarb says

    “I too live in France, about 800 kilometres from Paris: in South West France. My department is one of the poorest in the country. Moreover, even within this department, the area where I reside is backward in a developmental and progressivist sense: there are no motorways, the towns are little more than villages, there is little by the way of hospitals, work or facilities and, despite its fantastic natural beauty in the shade of the Pyrenees, the towns display an obvious air of poverty, unemployment and civic decay.”

    You lucky devil! Let us hope that when Les Gilets Jaunes have restored some spirit of civic energy, your villages will fight off the motorways. Vive Clochemerle!

  17. Antonym says

    And all the time Spanish “socialist” PM Sanchez and neo-liberal-con French President Macron keep on allowing illegal immigrants to enter the EU. The latter dilute each nation’s financial soup apart from the cultural one.

    For a few Euros more these types will sell their grandparents.

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  18. takeitofftheshouldermonami says

    outside of the big cities – France has been slow to move – Escargot slow…..but even though the Parisian/E.U overlords are much to blame – they’re perhaps not entirely to blame – that other is within the attitude – that being, by no means faultless….It helps Itself – just as past times saw many rural communities run like fiefdoms by a select few families/names….sadly, that mentality hasn’t really moved on – as a French “outsider” moving from one French Rustic village to another would in many cases find…Not to expect to be acccepted, completely,ever…..And then, as towns grew , the Czars grew with them – the disease spread – widespread nepotism, old name favours and closed shop collaboration….so when France was expected to move on – if there ever was a way out – it was weakened by small minded predjudicial bigots who couldn’t couldn’t let go of their greedy old guard self-serving mind-set.
    So now they look at Paris – where whatever the outcome – another answer of equal importance – is to be found closer to home.

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  19. MajorDrama says

    Fantastic article – How were these great people ignored and marginalised for so long? Why doesnt the political class care? It seems it is time to Make Them Care. This EU monster is destroying the prospects of so many young french and italian youth – Youth with enormous potential – And that is a political crime – The rest of us must wake up and support this fight

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  20. Joerg says

    …even as its police force blind a twenty year old women in one eye. Even as forty seven people die or are badly injured“.

    I was shocked about the brutallity of the french police:
    https://youtu.be/h869zfG4BlE

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    • mark says

      This is quite deliberate. Guess what – they are trained by Zionist thugs who have honed their skills butchering Palestinians.

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      • Antonym says

        Classic anti-semitism.

        The Jews are always the bad guys any time any place (while Islam is the religion of peace).

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        • Joerg says

          @Antonym
          Two points:
          1) First of all: Mark didn’t say anything about “Jews“. He only addressed the “Zionist thugs“.
          Its like 80 years ago Mark had talked about “Nazi thugs” and You, Antonym, grumble something like ‘Se “Germans” are always se bad guys any time any place ‘! But “Germans” (also ethnic Germans in, let’s say the USA) and “Nazis” was not the same! And, yes, Mark is right: Zionism is as disgusting as Nazism!

          2) Also this racism You, Antonym, show here is simply disgusting! You use the term “Jews” in a totally racist way. Like Hitler did with the term “Arians”.
          But there IS NO RACE! Yes, there are interesting linguistic connections: “Namo” in Buddhist texts means “name”. “Mariam” (horse, young man) reappears in old English as “mar, mare” and in German as “Mähre”. Also in these archaic religions there is obviously an affinity between “Indra” to the Germanic “Thor”.
          But this is it!

          And for anyone, who learned from the Nazi’s Holocaust the term “Jews” only refers to followers of the Hebrew religion. And thus “Jews” can very well have black skin (like Jews in/from Ethiopia)

          But You, Antonym, use the word “Jews” as a racial determination! Haven’t you, Antonym learned anything from the holocaust?! Remember: “Race” was not the VICTIM of the holocaust, but the PERPETRATOR!
          To me, Antonym, You are also some kind of “Holocaust-Denier”!

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          • romanianalien says

            You know nothing about National Socialism aka Nazism for boobuses like u. Zio propaganda brainwashed u properly and successfully. Tell me again how were there 6 millions of Jews that died in the so-called concentration camps (actually labour camps) when in the whole Europe there were barely 3 millions? There is no race, idiot? Tell that to the victims of racial violence, especially whites attacked and murdered by gimmegrants and rapeugees. One day ure gonna swallow ur words, remember that!

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          • “Mark didn’t say anything about Jews”… but he has in other threads, this one is from the comments in the recent Philip Giraldi Trump love fest..

            “Most of the 7 Jew oligarchs who looted the Russian economy ended up in Israel.” appears “Mark” is some what obsessed by Jews

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            • ZigZagWanderer says

              @mmmhphetc Would you have a problem with ….. Most of the Rastafarian oligarchs who looted the Russian economy ended up in Jamaica ?

              Let’s be grown up about it ….. Mark has been critical of some Jews . And in your opinion that’s unacceptable behaviour .

            • mark says

              ……because it’s true. Do you want their names and history?”

            • Joerg says

              I dpn’t know about Mark. But I am worried about Zionists and Israel. Look here: “89% OF OUR SENATORS AND CONGRESS HOLD DUAL CITIZENSHIP CITIZENSHIP WITH ISRAEL” -http://www.investmentwatchblog.com/89-of-our-senators-and-congress-hold-dual-citizenship-citizenship-with-israel/

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            • Joerg says

              @mmmhphhhrrrahh
              Also this
              The power of the Zionist lobby relies on …
              1)… its power in the USA.
              Also Joe Six Pack and his/her “Judaic”-Christian priests think of a “Jewish race” which are “God’s children”. But by race only THE PALESTIANIANS are the true descendants of the old Hebrews – not the nowadays Israelis. The nowadays Israelis are descendants of the “Khasars”, a Turk (not “Osman”!) empire north and east of the Black Sea that took over the Hebrew religion at about 600 A.D. This is why there were pogroms in Russia already some hundred years ago (because there were a lot of Jewish Khasars in Russia – probably much, much more than had ever been old “Israelites” in historical Palestine). This is why the Nazis could murder so many “Jews” in eastern Europe (Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania and so on). Those who use the Word “Jew” as a racial definition (Nazis, Zionists) must notice that the ancestors of Bob Dylan (“Zimmernann”) came from Russia – not Palestine! The ancestors of Rosa Luxemburg came from Poland – not Palestine!

              When the Romans had occupied Palestine they didn’t expel the Hebrews at all. But obviously the economic situation there was very bad. So at about 100 A.D. a lot of Hebrews left for nowadays Italy, Spain, Portugal, Turkey (“East Rome”), southern France. But then no one left for the Black Sea area – dominated be the Scythians, a nomadic herds people. There these economic emigrants could never have survived. Only much later the Khasars conquered that area.

              And thus we should inform Joe Six Pack (with this I also mean ‘black’ Joe Six-packs!) that he/she has to request of his Pastor or Catholic priest to unmask and protest against Israel.
              But now nearly all US states made it a crime to call for a boycott of Israel and its commercial products. See the map in this article: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/50785.htm

              2)… its power in Russia
              See “PRESIDENT PUTIN ON ISRAEL: QUOTES FROM THE KREMLIN WEBSITE” – https://orientalreview.org/2018/05/10/president-putin-on-israel-quotes-from-the-kremlin-website/

              3) Conclusion. The Palestinians and the Syriens have no chance. Palestinains will “disappear” and Syria will be cut down into several parts.

        • mark says

          No. Just the truth. The Zionist thug element makes a very good living now exporting their inimitable brand of criminal terror and fascist repression all over the world, to Macron’s Fascist Bootboys, to Trump’s jackbooted morons gunning down every other black they see for sport, to the most grubby and smelly little dictatorships in the market for a bit of savage repression. If they have the shekels, they all call the Kikenreich for their genocidal expertise.

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        • mark says

          That’s one good thing about Zionists. So easily triggered.

      • vexarb says

        Mark, you remind me of the time when London Police Commissioner Blair sent some of his men to Israel for “expert” training in “anti-terrorism”. The first thing they did on their return was to gang up on a Brazilian in London who “looked like a terrorist” and pump 11 bullets into his head (an “expert” touch that — in case of wrongful killing, nobody could tell which of Blair’s Israeli trained killers had fired the fatal shot).

        Come to think of it, I remember years earlier a Palestinian doctor saying that a remarkably high proportion of the dead children had been shot in the head; he said this on BBC TV (in the old days when Aunty Beeb was allowed to broadcast truths — before TB.Liar remade the BBC in his image). And, even earlier, reading in the Observer (before the Rothschild representative on the Guardian Trust called it to heel) an account of a Zionazi soldier shooting a Palestinian girl in the back, then kicking her body into a ditch. I guess Micron’s police commissioner has given his men similar training because Micron, like B.Liar and Brown, is a Rothschild man.

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        • mark says

          Just before they murdered that Brazilian electrician, they said how they were going to “shoot to kill” any suspects. This was an import from the Kikenreich. You see the same thing in France, the US ghettos, and all over the world where our Zionist friends have been earning shekels from exporting their inimitable brand of criminal thuggery and terror. The I”D”F kiddie killers are very good at butchering unarmed people, the result of decades of experience. Not so good when they face real men in Hezbollah and Hamas, when they tend to s*it their pants and run like rabbits to their dumb goy US muscle to do their dirty work for them.

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          • The constant obsession with Jews, by You Mark, here “Kikenreich” being a case in point … makes one wonder whether you aren’t some kind of Hasbara troll who wants to destroy this site .. ALL YOU DO IS PRATTLE ON ABOUT JEWS, ZIO THUGZ, KIKES..it stinks of Agent Provocateur !
            Marb

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      • Antonym says

        This is quite deliberate. Guess what – they are trained by Islamist thugs who have honed their skills butchering Syrians, Kurds and Yemenis.

        That is something you will never see the ‘Marks” here write: one trick ponies.

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  21. Frankly Speaking says

    I love France and the French, and I wish the would leave NATO again, but no chance with King Macron though.

    That said, the French do like to whinge: a 35 hour working week, or EUR 1000 a month if you are unemployed, is way better than most other countries. They are roght though to indidt that their conditions do not get worse whilst Macron and his bosses get much richer.

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    • Frankly Speaking says

      Hey Admin, when are you going to upgrade the site so that we can edit errors?
      Let me re-write the last line…
      “They are right though to indist that their conditions do not get worse, even improve, whilst Macron and his bosses get much richer.”

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        • vexarb says

          Frankly, when are we going to get an Edit button — even a chance to delete a post, edit it and then re-post, like on the Independent.

    • vilrouge says

      Most french people work between 40 and 45 hours per week, this 35h law is only for low paying jobs (like cashiers etc…). Also we don’t get 1000 euros a month if we don’t work 😀 It’s more around 450 euros. You can end up having more than 1000 euros per month without working, but that’s temporary and that’s only if you worked for a long time without being jobless before that. Which is normal, considering that between what a company pays for us every month, and what we get in the end, the state takes around 60%.

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    • Joe says

      They young person quoted in the article gets only €550 per month.

    • I don’t whinge. I would love to earn €1000/month but I’m lucky if I earn €300. I know I can apply to receive the RSA which would give me between €5-600/m but I’m too damned proud to ask for state help and have no desire to be part of the burden that is socialism. Thus, I try my best to survive with zero creature comforts.

  22. lynette cracknell chaplin says

    thank you for a very explanatory article. I live in Italy where there is high unemployment and poverty, but there is hope amongst about 60% of voters since this anti establishment government has been in power. The EU has to become representative of the people and not the global interests, I hope there will be changes with the May elections otherwise I wonder if there is a future for the EU.

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  23. mark says

    Long Live Captain Gatso!

    Macron and the Globalists now seem to have changed tack. They have started to sponsor a rival to the Gilets Jaunes, the Foulards Rouges, or red scarves, to oppose them. Scratch beneath the surface and you will find Deep State and Soros money. You will probably see agents provocateurs infiltrating the Gilets Jaunes, causing damage and getting drunk to discredit them.

    MI5 produced a study a few years ago predicting that the middle class would become the new revolutionary class, but not in a traditional sense. It would just become disaffected and apathetic and withhold its support from a system which in practice could not work without its active participation. They would do this because the system no longer had anything to offer them – a reasonable standard of living, job security, pensions. There was nothing in it for them any more. The PA of 16 years still getting the minimum wage SMIC, the lady warehouse manager mentioned doing everything to keep the business working and getting the SMIC for her trouble.

    Global warming excuses have been used to impose austerity on ordinary people. We had the fuel protests in the UK a few years ago, similar to France. Environmental issues are abused to push ordinary people around. In the UK afew years ago, central government began pushing town centre living, and pressurising builders not to provide any parking at new developments. There is a current bright idea to charge people in the UK £1,000 a year to park at their place of work. The idea is for everybody to become happy cyclists and outlaw the car. Town centre living was often a nightmare for people who were taken in by the idea – congestion, drunken disturbances and the night time economy. A lot of new developments were actually built in Essex without any parking provision whatever, and they are a nightmare. People just have to park 3 abreast blocking roads.

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    • bevin says

      ” They have started to sponsor a rival to the Gilets Jaunes, the Foulards Rouges, ”
      This is how fascism began in Italy when the ruling class sponsored squads of thugs as rivals of the socialists. They were organised by the former socialist Mussolini. I believe that among his sponsors was HMG.

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      • vexarb says

        https://gwydionwilliams.com/44-fascism-and-world-war-2/why-churchill-admired-mussolini/

        “Churchill was not an anti-Fascist, he rather approved of Mussolini, saying in the 1920s that the Italian Fascist movement had “rendered a service to the whole world”. (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1966 edition) And what he did at Tonypandy in 1910 broke a rule that had been established in 1688 and still holds today: that troops are never ever used in internal disputes on the British mainland.

        In the Encyclopaedia Britannica DVD edition of 2002, the whole topic of Churchill and Mussolini is absent from the rewritten text. And while the 1966 edition speaks of him “calling in the military to aid the police in the Welsh miners strike in Tonypandy”, the current edition says that “he had to devote himself principally to coping with a sweeping wave of industrial unrest and violent strikes. Upon occasion his relish for dramatic action led him beyond the limits of his proper role as the guarantor of public order.” Clarity has been replaced by vagueness.”

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        • vexarb says

          PS Link to Gwiddion Williams contains the entire interview by the Times 1927, after Mr. Churchill’s friendly visit to his fellow White European strongman, _Signor_ Mussolini.

          “‘Mr. Churchill On Fascism. Antidote to Soviet Poison. (From Our Own Correspondent)”‘

          I read it years ago, and it contains one of my favourite Churchill quotes:

          “‘If I had been an Italian I am sure that I should have been wholeheartedly with you from the start to finish in your triumphant struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism. But in England we have not had to fight this danger in the same deadly form. We have our way of doing things. But that we should succeed in grappling with Communism and choking the life out of it-of that I am absolutely sure.

          I will, however, say a word on the international aspect of Fascismo. Externally, your movement has rendered a service to the whole world.”‘

  24. DunGroanin says

    Yellow vests, roundabouts and speed cameras.
    The weapons that the great unwashed fashion from what is at hand.
    The response from the king? “But they have all the bread they can eat!”

    The best thing to yet emerge hopefully is that the nationwide adhoc groups throw up leaders that can rise to offer the politics of the many and by-pass the Elysee neocon/lib representatives of the plutocrats.

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  25. Chris Whittington says

    Yup, I live in what is probably the same region. Confirm all. Well written.

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  26. Henry Wilson says

    Keep it up France & the rest of the E U needs change

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  27. bevin says

    Great work.
    Do you know Christophe Guilluy’s Twilight of the Elites ? It has just been translated into English.
    For other readers here is a taste from the intro:
    Amid a fanfare of republican self-congratulation, France has embraced globalization in all its glory. Wherever one looks, from the chronic alternation between traditional parties of the center left and center right1 to the denial of democracy itself, with the farcical referendum of 2005 on a European constitution, it is plain to see that France has become an “American” society like all the rest, inegalitarian and multicultural. In the space of a few decades, the implacable law of global markets has asserted its authority everywhere, replacing a society founded on egalitarian ideals by a polarized society seething with tensions of every sort beneath a placid surface. The unprecedented social and cultural disruption provoked by this sudden swing has until now been covered up by a patriotic blast of trumpets. But this republican fanfare, though it grows louder and louder, rings ever more false with the passage of time. As in all the other developed countries, the new economic order does not cease sowing division and discord. How could things have changed so quickly? How could a dominant class, by definition minuscule, have managed to impose an economic model that no one, and especially not the working classes, had chosen? How was this model able to win acceptance so easily, when criticism of a system run by bankers (and the wealthy oligarchs they are assumed to serve) is a commonplace of intellectual commentary and political debate? All of this was possible in the first place because the dominant class is supported by a large segment of society, namely, all those who gain from globalization globalization or who are protected against its adverse consequences. These people, though they themselves need not be either rich or owners of capital, make up a crucial part of what I call the higher France. This privileged stratum consists of not only the country’s elites and traditional upper classes but also the new bourgeoisie that supports them, without whose aid nothing could have been done. Together they bear responsibility for economic and social policies that have plunged a majority of the working class into a kind of insecurity it had not previously known. They are agreed in placing the nation’s economy on a new territorial basis, metropolization, that has the effect of banishing the least well-off members of society to the periphery, condemned to live out their lives as second-class citizens. Globalization has revived the citadels of medieval France. No longer walled cities, they are now modern cities in which a new class that captures most of the benefits of offshore production and free trade is concentrated. Workers in the developed countries, excluded from a broader economy based on an international division of labor in which they no longer have a place, being relatively overpaid and underprotected, find themselves relegated to a lower France, the France of small and medium-sized towns and rural areas. Everywhere, from peripheral France (the part of the country that rejected the European Union by voting no in the 2005 referendum) to peripheral Britain (the land of Brexit), from peripheral America (the land of Trump) to peripheral Sweden (the vanguard of the European alt-right) and beyond, economic globalization arouses the same spirit of populist revolt. It is owing to this very spirit that the higher France now finds itself in grave danger of losing control over the lower. The Maastricht Treaty of 1992 was the first shot across the bow, the referendum of 2005 the second. The existing order will finally break down not as the result of some decisive event; it will break down as the result of a slow process of social and cultural disaffiliation on the part of the working class. The political class in the broadest sense—not only politicians but cultural leaders, intellectuals, and journalists—now begins to dread the prospect of a modern slave rebellion. For a new form of class conflict, which had long been assumed not to exist, is now plain for all to see.
    (I posted this yesterday on David Lindsay’s Brexit thread.)

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    • Fair dinkum says

      The ‘CocaCOLONisation’ of the planet bevin. (With the emphasis on COLON for obvious reasons).
      Strength and longevity to the arms and hearts of the protestors.

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      • bevin says

        You should be writing songs as well. What the gilets need next is an anthem.

        • Tim Jenkins says

          Like Merseyside Anthems ? Yellow Sub-Marine le Pen ?

          (Tim batons hatch)

          Dive dive dive !

          (I’ll get my coat)

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