Five days ago, the 2nd of January, French strikers set a new record for consecutive days on strike: 29. This beats the 28 days registered in 1968.
No one is calling this a revolution, but it is.
Since November the revolt against Macron and the French state has entered a higher, more intense phase. Along with the vast union strikes go freeway and rail closure, petrol shortages, the selected allocation of electricity supplies to poor areas; the denial of power to Amazon, the marches of the Gilet Jaune, the intensifying battles with the police, the involvement of more and more of the French citizenry and institutions, including, last week, the National Ballet; all of it is evidence of how the struggle to remove Macron is intensifying.
After a year of weekend battles in every major French city and the official entry of the trade unions into the fight, big changes are in the wind and the yearlong power struggle in France is moving inexorably towards a climax.
This poster is a good place to start if we want to understand these developments.
It recalls the popular history of France. It does so to indict the usurper Macron. It is a calling out of Macron for not understanding, for not belonging and ultimately for being a traitor to the common history.
The woman in this poster is clearly a WW2 resistance fighter. The photo was taken during the liberation; a period in which the resistance dispensed popular justice to collaborators and Vichy officials. It’s all there in the big print: ‘Macron betrays the heritage of the resistance’.
This history held in common is the glue that binds France together as a people and a nation. This is the real France Profonde: more than simply a geographical location; it is a subjectivity, an almost unspoken sense of what it means to live in France and to be French.
Perhaps the most crucial heritage of the resistance is the constitution of the 1947 French Fourth Republic. It is the Fourth Republic, a republic grounded in the popular action of resistance, which inaugurates state social security as a constitutional right. The social security safety net is a prize won by the French through their own actions of resistance.
It is a product of their common history, of the entire notion of what being French means.
This is the system Macron is attacking; one long targeted by neo-liberals. This much is well known. What is less understood is the role social security plays in the reality of French lives.
The tax burden which funds the overall social net is heavy. As a result, even in the best of times French middle and working classes have little free cash This is tolerated precisely because each generation pays with their own taxes for previous generations and in turn receive their allocation when they retire, paid for by the following generation.
This cycle of common social responsibility is the living social compact Macron seeks to destroy. In doing so he continues his recent policy of uniting all France against him. And it’s all there in the poster – French history condemns Macron.
But something else has changed as well over the last two months, something just as ominous for the president.
The End Of The Fifth Republic?
For the last twelve months all over France, the Gilets have been discussing a new constitution to replace the existing Fifth Republic model.
In marches, in conventions, in the watch parties endemic on Facebook, on little stickers pasted on bins and walls and in doorways, they have raised this issue constantly till it fills bars and squares all over France.
For today the French people are not just tired of rising diesel prices, or changes to the Notre Dame design or even, pension attacks. Most of all, they are tired of powerful presidents ordering and destroying their lives apparently at whim. Presidents who have overwhelming power, who don’t listen, who undermine their own sense of France and of themselves.
The Fifth Republic was inaugurated in a military coup by De Gaulle in 1958. The constitution he wrote sought to bypass the Left’s domination of the previous parliamentary assembly, the described ‘instability’, through the granting of enormous and unprecedented power to the president.
When the president was De Gaulle or Mitterrand, both of whom extended the social security framework, this situation was tolerated.
However the last three presidents, Sarkozy, Hollande and particularly Macron, have proudly used presidential powers to favour the rich and advance their Neoliberal agenda. Macron has done so without even the rhetoric of compromise; uttering constant televised declarations asserting that he’d never give in to street protest.
All this has starkly exposed the democratic deficiencies in the entire constitutional structure. The French have seen the dictator inside the constitutional robe.
The exclusive and vast power vested by the Fifth Republic in the president, also means that any struggle against him and his policies automatically becomes a struggle concerning democracy. By constitutionally rendering parliamentary opposition ineffective, the Fifth republic forces serious opposition onto the street.
And it is there that this intensifying battle is increasingly being joined. The extremely limited roles played all year by Le Pen and Melenchon point to the same conclusion.
It is the Gilet who have led the way and they have done so in the street. Not by being a twentieth century political ‘party’, but by being a self-announced movement, one open to all people and all strands of thought.
From the first the Gilet have been an inclusive movement of action, toleration, invention, local control, energy and consistency. They have invited all sides and all opinions. Through endless debating and sheer persistence they have prodded the population into a unity around the common goal of overturning Macron.
They have propelled the people of France into a more active role, a more critical perspective and ultimately, into the creation of a new French political world.
As for Macron, his current situation is best summed up in a Gala magazine headline: ‘Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron worried about their safety: how they will change their habits?’
Macron has been largely absent from Paris for the past year. While he still struts the world stage, a recent headline in the Atlantic “Macron speaks but is anyone listening?’ puts this into context.
He’s unable to travel at home without an enormous police presence and he ceased any sort of meet-the-people event months ago. When he is seen, it’s on television, at formal conferences, meeting other heads of state, EU events and so on.
Whatever image the media presents of him, in truth, events are currently bypassing Macron. Increasingly he appears like a man on a grand castle of sand, watching it shrink as the tide flaps his feet.
Moreover, his staggering political ineptitude remains the best recruiting tool the Gilet Jaune have. Great times can also breed great idiots.
The raising of pension reform, an issue impacting everyone, including the police and the military, is a political master stroke. More so if you can do it at a time when your only firm defenders, the police, are demoralised by the weekly pitched battles they’ve fought all year, in every major French city and particularly over the summer in Toulouse. Why at this point, raise the question of pensions?
Why render problematic the personal pension of everyone in France including the police? When you depend upon them so heavily? When people are already outside calling for your head!
Such is the man’s political savvy.
What will happen next?
The extreme possibility that Macron, his despised wife and his hated police minister will end up hanging from a lamp-post, cannot be discounted. The violence and brutality administered by the police and their para-militaries over the last 14 months has cut deep and left wounds, physical and mental. The cops are hated.
What seems less likely is an immediate civil war. Macron is utterly beholden to the police and military. He has barely any popular support. Polls show him at twenty to thirty percent, a figure which is almost certainly soft and conditional. Open support for Macron outside the media, is almost impossible to find.
On the other hand given the struggle is still personified in Macron himself, his removal in some form, remains the most likely outcome. Certainly Macron will at some stage be thrown to the wolves. Probably, in the immediate term to be replaced by someone equally as banal.
From the perspective of the Gilet they remain currently the most radical, most long-standing and most advanced of all the current anti-neoliberal, anti-state struggles worldwide.
In Chile, Ecuador, Spain, Greece, Iraq, Hong Kong, rioters know who they are against – the government and neo-liberal state.
The Gilet have the same enemy, but only they exhibit a unique sense of their own identity, one currently only rivalled by the Catalans. They also possess wide popular support and a developed understanding of what they want.
These traits have been present since their inception; in everything they’ve done. Exemplified in the defining symbol of the physical yellow vest itself; a symbol of unity and inclusion. Everyone can be a Gilet, everyone who owns a compulsory yellow vest already is; everyone is included and debate local action and invention have raged.
What the Gilets have done is create an arena for the creation of new political meanings and ultimately outcomes.
They have defined the struggle. And they have done so from their very first march.
Their notions of diversity and tolerance has allowed all France to participate in the thinking and political action. It has unleashed grumbles and melancholy and returned politics to the street. And it has galvanised solid majority sympathy and prolonged support. All of which is an act of liberation.
This struggle now is for the meaning of the state, the meaning of France itself.
The Gilet movement has the moral authority; it has the people’s support. It has a proposed constitution endorsed by a majority of the population, certainly more than voted for Macron.
Currently all French dissent flows into the France of the Gilet. What they will do with it once Macron is gone, well… your guess is as good as mine.
Whatever they do is up to them, all the same one thing is now clear, where they go, France will follow.
For direct-transfer bank details click here.
Italy on the verge of economic collapse and France too. It bode well neither for the Euro nor the so called European ‘Community’. Hope the inevitable collapse comes soon!
A formidable thing to see the right joining the left to support Les Gilets Jaunes.
If these forces commit to work together, wouldn’t mean that Macron’s presidency is over (or at least shaken to the core)?
good old France rustique, that simple life – visiting friends and sharing a tasty baguette – pottering along
quiet country lanes in an old Renault quatre , stopping at a Cafe, to be greeted by Pierre, the convivial waiter….then, before reaching home, perhaps picking up a little locally sourced produce for repas du soir. But what am I saying, those days sunk with the Franc – the bread now, as unappetizingly lifeless as the Cafe’s , who’er as detached from their customers as their drivers of modern go-cart bubble cars are to others…as for the veggies, are as uniformly tasteless as the ships they came in on …..So who’s responsible – who watched and did nothing as the barrel was emptied to it’s lees….who fell drunk on the spin, the promises of more for all and all for them – for France, for Sarkozy, for Holland, and for Macron….and who of them wear the weak sting yellow jacket of today…and who of they, long before, ignored the warnings of this, envisioned outcome…..So well done France – it seems you’ve joined the rest of us.
I don’t know what planet you are on (probably 77th brigade, et al).
What’s going on in France at the moment is history in the fast lane.
Rob G – I dont have the faintest idea why you would think my post links me to some government affiliated group – or why you would aim to connect me to it, other than, it simply doesn’t fit with your “image” of events, as you see them – but attempting such base tactics in which to reinforce your ideas – only points the finger back at yourself, sad to say.
I repeat – “long before, ignored the warnings of this, envisioned outcome”…..in other words – they sleepwalked into it,
Your comments are fair enough.
But I actually live here (in France) and have done so for decades.
I’m not sure what other qualifications you want.
that being so, you would’ve experienced France’s “gradual decline” first hand, and would’ve recognised my comments as at least, a resonably accurate picture of events….one in which, much of the population of Rural France has only recently woken up to – but then I suppose, if your bottled away in your petit village, with their own (nepotist) Mayors – in their Communes, and departments where the next number depts may as well be on a another planet – then, where is Paris ? because…..they didn’t care, about them up there, with a wave of the hand and look of disgust, “it’s nowhere important”, and wasn’t , in the older uncomplicated scheme of things before Geant became a Giant – and Inter Marche, went marching on – they who needed the newbuilds, for Towns to grow, and feed “them” more….with china cheap brico depot vs insanely priced Pro supply shops for the Bricoleur and his customer complaints, why so cher, ” sorry , it’s the tax” but it is a Bosch, qualité, top, Super, Ce’st une Mark !….Special – all tangled complications, infecting the people, with more debt, more greed, more anger and more, desire…so now, they want “more”, they need “more”, the word is more, everyone the same, More – when once, less was plenty enough.
So I’m guessing you want the protesters to stop? Accept less? And is that a formula for the rest of the world too? Jusy roll over and accept medieval conditions?
the protesters, are free do as they see fit, then why you would imagine that i’d “want” them to stop their action or cease to air their grievances, that’s a construction of yours alone, and not mine, so how is it you came to that conclusion, is not message I was attempting to convey, one I thought obvious, btw….So, what is it, point out a few of the failings that led to this, and you must be completely opposed to the response – thats preposterous !… how are we going to get anywhere, unless we see it Clean, reason it, rid ourselves of our own delusional Spin, it makes us just as bad as those we’re up against.
And thankyou, Frank Speaker, for reading it fair, my faith is restored.
Your entire tone is derogatory if not ridiculing. And this bit seems clear:
You’re telling them to stop wanting more and accept less. Which sounds as if you are cheerleading austerity.
GeorgeMc….Derogatory, Ridicule you say – do I misread ?….First you slight me as some Government Shill – then you attempt to dress me as a “qu’ils mangent de brioche” stuffed shirt…and then the cherry you lump on me is as a proponent of the Established order….all very odd, especially when others have read the above scribblings fairly and without malice, as they were meant, , but not yourself, you choose to adjudicate through defamatory pronouncements ….very telling that is too !
as for the more – here we go, If, you decide to make a deal with the devil, and it goes tits up – what value would he give your complaint ? Moral of…..be careful who you put your faith in. Will folk ever learn ?
I never called you – or even implied that you were- a “shill”. The “others” who have read you “fairly” are, I presume, Frank Speaker. Although now that I read his comments I’m not sure he has definitely sided with you. But then “siding with you” isn’t a straightforward matter. I’m not sure what you are advocating. All I have noted is that you have an aggressive tone towards the protesters and at one point you seem to be advocating that they should have less rather than more.
Georgemc…. treating a position fairly, or finding some level of understanding, doesn’t necessarily mean that one would wholeheartedly “side” with it, so you are correct, it isn’t straightforward, Therefore, lets make it so – hows this for you – it pretty much sums it up,
“your actions dictate the consequences”…
and so forth. Am sorry if thats painful , that you feel it aggessive, but hey, it’s elementary man.
So Rob G, if you do live in France, as I do, if you’re honest you’ll recognise what the Doctor said is true.
You’ll also recognise that sufficient French we’re indoctrinated by the media to vote for this clown of a schoolboy and his teacher.
I hope the French can wake up and stop the destruction of their uniqueness, but I’m not convinced and see all manner of shallowness in especially the French Millennials who seem largely pro everything American. They are the future of France and it’s not looking good.
One year of “protests”…..
…..achieved fuck all.
It’s about to bring down the Macron government; you little shit.
Why do you insult and swear at people? Get some help. I hope the mod can deal with you appropriately to preserve this site for political discourse.
What does the police gain from beating/injuring/disabling a citizen who is protesting and asking to be treated with dignity?
An enlightened police must take the side of the people.
They were brutal in 1968, and still are.
Since about Acte 12 (mid February time) they’ve been using police from other European nations to control the protests. This is because they know that French police will not act against genuine protests from French citizens. Another thing not widely known is that twice last year French police unions had their own demonstrations in Paris. In fact, during the ongoing general strike at the moment (which is now into its 5th week and is the longest general strike in French history), a large section of the police are also on strike.
There is need to run a camapaign targeting families of police officers, to encourage kids to ask their father:
As a matter of fact, such a campaign would be excellent for all professions, in every country, in order to inject a dose of reality into family relationships and build awareness and tranparency into business activities.
imagine answers like this?
– today, i shot your cousin .. or .. – today, i kicked and stomped on a pregnant woman ..or .. – today, i met a lobbyist. we looked at more effective ways to keep the public distracted from the fact that your food/cereal contains high doses of carcinogens
What I especially like about the Gilets Jaunes is their perseverance, bravery and focus (Amazon power etc). Bravo!
Re: my comment below about LP leadership:
If it turns out that Jeremy Corbyn won’t stay as leader nor be on the Leadership ballot, along with the recent news that Ian Lavery is not going to stand either (and not stand as deputy?) then I fear it is game over for the Labour Party as a working class, left-libertarian-type party?
Imo – this would mean there are no credible LP leadership candidates now. Personally, I dismissed RLB because I judge politicians on their history: policy-voting record, activism (including actions during incidents). To me, her policy-voting record is dismal e.gs: she is pro-EU; pro-surveillance; didn’t want stronger regulations against fracking, etc Just to name a few. Some past actions are dire too: she is linked to JLM; linked to LFI; and hardly (if at all!) defend Jeremy Corbyn and the LP, nor Chris Williamson et al, against the A/S smears. People keep saying: look at her recent speech etc, but isn’t trust vital? Trust is much more important than current & future rhetoric? Look at the rhetoric & promises politicians like Trump and Boris made and broke straight away! Sadly, so far RLB past doesn’t make her look trustworthy at all imo.
What now? All I can say is that, if RLB is our only choice (and a person similar to JC or IV background appears), I will be extremely disappointed. Of course I will vote for her but it will be, solely, to stop Starmer and Phillips winning the leadership, but I know ultimately (due to the above knowledge of RLB and the subsequent probable outcomes) I will, with a heavy heart, probably leave the Labour Party. To be honest I have never been a ‘joiner’ and Jeremy Corbyn as leader made me enthusiastic for the first time about politics in this country as he is/was a rare thing in our modern times – a genuine people’s politician with an amazing history so it will have been good while it lasted (4 years).
Saying all this, I still have some faith that Jeremy Corbyn may decide to stay as leader/ be on the ballot (if he is up for it of course) which will give us back the hope for our country (and the wider world)!
* Soz for typos. Should say: “…similar to JC or IL [Ian Lavery]…”
P.S. I hope I am wrong about RLB, and if RLB does indeed become leader hope that her past does not reflect her leadership. Why do I feel so doubtful though? Too many politicians have disappointed me my whole life, I suppose (other than JC).
Lavery has said he will support RLB, for what it’s worth.
I’m still hoping JC gets on the leadership ballot. I know what you mean though – Lavery and RLB are said to be friends, and if Corbyn and McD also wholeheartedly support her she can’t be that bad, can she? I still have such incredible doubts about her though because of some of the things in her recent past…
Damn! * should say: “…if RLB is our only choice (and a person similar to JC or LV background doesn’t appear…)
P.P.S. I would have liked Laura Pidcock to be Leader or Deputy if her seat hadn’t been lost (like Skinner’s seat, which was probably cheated-away by the establishment ballot rigging?).
JLB doesn’t have natural leadership skills. None of the current LP candidates do. Labour will tank regardless of who wins.
About time France got the spotlight here; it doesn’t get it in the MSM.
Indeed admirable these Gilets Jaunes. Jesus like style: non violently showing the other cheek.
Must be quite demoralizing for the French police and Macron: power and money less countymen defeating them. Good sign the the EU didn’t manage to homogenize Western European countries into one docile sheep flock.
A lot of the police brutality in France comes from forces brought in from other parts of Europe (mostly eastern Europe). If you watch the vids posted by citizens on the streets, you can usually tell the difference between French cops and foreign cops by the boots they are wearing.
The gilets jaunes protests for the last 60 weeks, and now the union general strike into it’s 5th week, has cost the French economy an eye watering amount of money.
This goes against all EU economic edicts, yet it’s been allowed to pass, and Berlin has been pumping huge sums of money into Paris to prop-up the French economy.
But go watch the BBC; they’ll tell you all about it.
I have immense admiration for the Yellow Vests, what a pity Britain can’t take a leaf out of their book.
Macron, like Blair and Cameron is merely a political instrument for the institutional form of neoliberalism blighting so many lives.
French citizens to their immense credit have managed to mobilise outside of the usual organisational frameworks (trade unions, student bodies, fringe political groups, etc) and have gained sufficient traction to challenge the country’s rotten leadership, as well as the network of corporate and financial entities that thrive in conditions of extreme wealth inequality.
Britain on the other hand has just elected Johnson while rejecting a leader who is largely sympathetic to the causes espoused by the Yellow Vests.
Of course the media, especially the Guardian, has gone into overdrive to thwart any form of resistance (for example steadfastly refusing to discuss the context of the Yellow Vest’s grievances) but it still begs the question how much more damage needs to be inflicted before there is any sort of awakening in the minds of the British public?
Right now they are akin to an alcoholic who has yet to hit rock bottom, and by the time they do they will be so depleted they probably won’t have anything left over to combat their tormentors.
Leaving aside ideological arguments for Brexit listening to their commentary (on forums like ‘Question Time’ or BTL at the Guardian) it may well be that we have become one of the least informed populations in western Europe.
They shite they come out with over issues like Syria, Venezuela, Russia and antisemitism, only rubs salt into the wound.
See there one difference between the British and French cultures: to be respected not homogenized. In Nature there also many bio systems, eco zones: more interesting, more robust, more variety. No need for agressivity.
I am not an expert on French culture, far from it, but even so I find it hard to believe they would respect the kind of idiocy that has become rampant in Britain.
10 years of austerity with all of the misery and suffering that goes with it yet the British public in their wisdom have just voted for Iain Duncan Smith, Jacob Rees Mogg, Priti Patel, Esther McVey, Michael Gove, etc, etc – I mean don’t they understand how that is going to end?
Maybe there is more a respectful way to discuss such immense stupidity but I just can’t think of it at the moment. Apart from anything else such semantics remind me of the kind of pearl clutching you see at the Guardian if somebody says the wrong on Twitter while at the same time seeming oblivious to the implications of offering regular column inches to war criminals like Tony Blair.
Firstly, for the British, loosening a little that tight upper lip would be an improvement that would be appreciated by those who venture and come near them (generally speaking)
Secondly, it looks you Antonym are capable of making a perfectly good comment. Positive and constructive –knowledgeable too. Why can’t you be like this more often? (are there two of you?)
The intervention of labour changes everything, because the Gilet Juane have no real social power, while workers can bring society to a screeching halt. The current strikes need to go beyond transport and be generalised. A workers’ leadership worth its salt would struggle for this perspective and organise the rank-and-file and the Gilet Juane to help spread the strike movement through mass pickets. And such a leadership may emerge in the heat of battle. Airports and road transport need to be shut down tight, and industrial and agricultural production stopped.
If a general strike occurs, not unprecedented in France’s rich history of them, it will be against the wishes of the corrupt and compromised trade union bureaucracy and of the house-trained ‘left’ — Greens, PCF, PS, et al. The question of who rules will be immediately and sharply posed.
Organs of power can emerge and evolve from strike committees themselves who eventually will need to decide if, when and where production will be resumed and who gets what. These can become the communes (or soviets) of a dual power that challenges the existing state power. But a revolutionary leadership that goes beyond the current thinking and outlooks of Gilet Juane, existing the trade union leaderships and the so-called ‘far left’ is needed to actually overthrow the old regime and take state power. And the assault on pensions is a powerful lever to help split or neutralise the military and shatter the state apparatus more generally.
Just watch the PCF, PS and all the other members of the so-called Plural Left, along with La France insoumise, scurry around trying to pour water on the flames. They’ll want to form yet another popular front coalition to take governmental power in order to suppress any uprising and do what Macron so far has failed to. They’ll do this with ‘sweet words’ of new constitutions and/or a (bourgeois) constituent assembly for a ‘Sixth Republic’, and so on. This will only restore bourgeois rule on a very slightly different but definitely more repressive basis.
If the current strikes and mobilisations aren’t misdirected and wasted and instead are channelled toward taking power from the bourgeoisie, France’s example can lead the way for the rest of the world.
Dutch farmers did that recently with their tractors: just driving blocked many economic arteries. They got what they wanted (upping of stupid green new N2 norms ) in a month.
N2? Do you mean nitrous oxide? Or N, nitrogen? Do you like nitrogen pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, algal blooms and dead zones in lakes, rivers and seas?
Re pensions, I thought what I paid in
was invested for my future, not someone already retired?
My company pensions in UK, have given (only me), a reasonable retirement, topping up my state pension I spent 35+ years paying into.
Is France different?
I think it’s about public sector pension “reform”, much like ours was. The “gold plated” final salary pensions replaced with a French version of our ‘stake-holder’ pensions which are useless.
Where are the voices of the French to give their own account?
I see many vids of the French in French but the auto translate is not great.
However, I see a genuine bottom up refusal to be extinguished by those who would lord it over rather than share the Life.
And not an astroturfed virtue signalling of guilt and grief ridden carbon units.
Most of the gilets jaunes / yellow vests stuff is now totally censored in the West.
If interested, this site gives a good account of the early days of the movement…
The gilets jaunes continues unabated, and people like me continue to find ourselves in the thick of it.
I’ll just add that this latest dickhead stuff with Trump and Iran is just pouring petrol on the flames with regard to the resistance in France.
All of it is completely censored out of view, RobG. That’s why I started looking to the UK web for Off-G UK stuff.
But the best show case of how “1984” the EU has become. The French just have to go to a main road in town on Saturdays to see if their eyes or the Media are lying, lucky bastards!
The author ompletely lost me when he compared France’s protesters to Hong Kong’s protesters. Are you serious?!
Your article loses credibility when it equates the US-backed rioters in Hong Kong with protesters in Chile and Ecuador and the Gilets Jaunes in France.
Some of us Off-Guardian readers know already that leaders of the Umbrella Movement, like Joshua Wong, had been photographed conferring with a US consular official in HK back in July last night year. There have been reports of rioters having attacked elderly people and setting one man on fire when he disputed with them. Some rioters have been filmed trying to derail trains by throwing large objects onto railway lines.
There have been sightings of Ukrainians with swastika and other Nazi-related tattoos mingling with the HK rioters and some of these Ukrainians appear to be linked to the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion.
This is one group of rioters you definitely should not support.
read my note further down this page Jen under title buddha 9 –yes I should have said anti govt or anti neo liberal — so what? does it take anything away from what I’m trying to say about the gilet? I don’t think so — and yes I agree with you about hong kong but it is anti govt!
The HK rioters are certainly anti-govt in their preferred actions of wrecking ticket machines at train stations and trying to derail trains: parts of a service designed to serve the public. Do the Gilets Jaunes and other protesters in Chile and Ecuador go for vandalising public infrastructure, permanently injuring the police by blinding them with laser beams or attacking elderly members of the public as a first resort?
The HK rioters want the overthrow of the current HK govt and for HK to be no longer part of China. Beyond that, they are clueless about what they really want. The Gilets Jaunes want a govt more responsive to the needs of the French people and society. Huge difference in what these groups want: it’s not clear that the HK rioters have the needs of HK people (such as the need for housing) in mind.
Gilets Jaunes wants French culture to continue in the face of Neoliberal totalitarianism, and Macron is representing the Neoliberals as the totalitarian dictator.
Gilets Jaunes & French culture cannot abide dictators, and never could. French people will fight to their deaths before being told how to live in French culture.
The Neoliberals thought they could alter French culture.
The vermin in Hong Kong want China destroyed and broken into pieces, all compliant stooge states of the USA. They are anti-Chinese compradores, who, like alpha Quisling, do not believe that the Chinese will be ‘fully human’ until they Westernise, convert to Christianity and learn their place. That little slug Joshua Wong is a prime specimen of the type.
“does it take anything away from what ..?”
Yes, it does take away a lot.
An egg carton contains a dozen eggs. All 12 eggs are legimitely placed in their own dimples. A rotten egg (which the writer introduced) has the right to its own dimple too. But it doesn’t mean we have to keep that rotten egg there with the other 11 and tolerate the obnoxious smell.
Dear Jen – I was about to post a comment about the US backed destabilisation programme in Hong Kong – it appears that you have beaten me to it – but thank you anyway – we need to correct these errors
There can be rotten apples planted amongst the Hong Kong crowd: standard totalitarian state practice.
Can many thousands of open society HK residents be fooled and are they wrong to protest that “One country, two systems” is not being respected?
Coming from a total apologist for the apartheid, neo-fascist, racist and colonialist Zionist regime, I’ll disregard your sludge. There’s only so much chutzpah one can take. China is your nightmare, of course-a great civilization that will NEVER grovel to the Judeofascists and Zionists. So, it must be ‘brought down’.
Hong Kong rioters are waving the american and the british flags, and calling for ‘President Trump’ to save their democracy and freedom. Actions like these can only be thought of by mentally stunted brainwashed naifs.
The French protesters see their identity and existence as thinking humans under continual assault by the policies emanating from the neoliberal destructive policies. They would be the last people on Earth to worship Trump, let alone call him ‘their saviour’.
It’s the weirdest thing I’ve read lately, the author of this article tried to lump HK rioters and the French protesters together in the same category.
Very weird, problemetic and mis/ill-chosen comparison!
The Hong Kong thugs are the spawn of China’s detritus, the compradores who served England against China, hard Right refugees, gangsters, Uighur jihadist butchers, collaborators with the Japanese genocidists etc, all financed by renegade billionaires and the USA. Complete and utter scum, hence their adoration in the West.
The HK protestors fawning over The Duck were paid to fawn, demonstrate, & placate the narcissist-in-chief. The CIA is funding them just as they funded the Ukraine debacle when they wanted to irritate Putin.
Anyone that would claim that The Duck is a ‘saviour’ is paid to say it, or they have a gun held to their head.
The Duck is a cooked goose.
I live in a very rural part of south west France. During World War Two this area was one of the main centres of the French Resistance. In the towns and villages and on the lanes around here you’ll see many memorials to Resistance fighters who were killed during those terrible years. Even all this time later, the war is still a painful memory for the French, and that includes younger generations who were not born at the time.
I live in a very small hamlet. About five clicks from me is a roundabout on the Limoges – Angouleme autoroute. Every Saturday for what’s now 60 consecutive weeks the gilets jaunes have been on that roundabout protesting. There’s usually somewhere between 20 and 30 of them. Early last year these roadside protests were made illegal by the French parliament, but still the gilets jaunes continued.
If you take a side road from that autoroute roundabout you go down the hill to a very pretty village that sits on one of the great rivers of France. At the top of the hill there are some fields, where two weeks ago, during Acte 58, the locals built a mock graveyard; the ‘death of France’ being the general theme. As you drive down the hill into the village there are lots of handwritten banners, and manikins hanging from trees. “Our village is dying!”, “Macron must resign” being the gist of what the banners say.
The Bush junior regime called the French ‘cheese eating surrender monkeys’ (and you might also remember ‘freedom fries’), because President Mitterand refused to go along with the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The French, like most people, are not perfect, but you have to admire them for their balls.
My grandfather lost his leg in rural France in the Second World War. Fellow Canadian Infantry took him to a French farmhouse family in rural France as soon as he was injured.
They threatened the family with their lives if they did not take care off my wounded grandfather until they could get back to him the next day. The family that took care of him merely gave him red wine throughout the night until morning when medics came to pick him up. Grandfather was drunk when they picked him up to get him to hospital where they removed his leg.
He did not last long after the war was over and died young.
I have all of his worthless medals made of bronze.
To this day, if you go to places like Dieppe you will see an image of the Canadian flag displayed in most shop windows.
Most visitors are a bit baffled by this.
Until you look at the history of WW2.
My grandfather was First World War Canadian Infantry. I mistakenly wrote ‘second instead of first.
My grandfather lost his leg in the First World War. Sorry about that. I thought I wrote First instead of ‘second’. My dad was in the Second World War RCAF potato peeler & machine gun cleaner but not a pilot.
All this can’t be true. It’s not mentioned by the BBC.
Unfortunately France has a history of popular revolutions being betrayed by the country’s Establishment. The result seems to be a populace which is often at odds with its government, a standoff that only lasts until the government starts significantly impacting the lives of the populace. What seems to have set things off is the need to claw back some of the comforts of French life — they have too much job security, too many vacations, retire too early and generally live too well to be competitive in today’s global economy (aka “the race to the bottom”). (They need to learn how to suck it up without complaining like the British.)
Macron himself is just a placeholder. He got the job because the alternative was just too dreadful, not because of any particular qualifications of aptitude as a leader. In time he’ll be replaced by another; the face will change, the policies won’t (although there might be temporary lull in their application).
macron and l.ron both demi-gods.l.ron died for his skills macron is trying to destroy the skill of france.
suggest, in macron’s case, reading the australian academic Evan Jones.firstly the thievery of Alstom
secondly the ongoing scandal of toulouse airport and other french airports.can’t give you chapter and verse but google or dissidentvoice.org could discover the relevent articles.
The world is becoming increasingly turbulent and unstable.
Support, or even toleration, of the elites and the systems that sustain them, is dwindling away rapidly.
When a system loses legitimacy, like eastern Europe 30 years ago, it can collapse overnight.
We are in a revolutionary situation, though few people realise it.
When the collapse comes, people will look back and wonder with the benefit of hindsight why it took so long.
This situation now applies in so many countries it is difficult to keep track of them all.
Revolution and war are on the cards throughout Latin America, the Middle East, the Arab world, and further afield.
But the same applies to countries like France, Germany, Sweden, the US, maybe Britain.
As the base commander on Stingray used to say, “Anything can happen in the next half hour!!!”
Over the next half hour, we could learn that the US embassy in Baghdad has been taken out in a missile strike or Trump has bombed the Al Aqsa mosque or the holy mosque in Qom. Anything is possible.
“…maybe Britain?” No way, Paul, we are well placed now with a Churchillian leader, right or wrong, he is leadership material – so far so good. It is the eating of the pudding which yields the proof and only time will tell.
One thing is sure, there will be no revolution here – France maybe be repeating 1789 but even then it never crossed the channel. All we need is a robust opposition to hold power in check and I hope they don’t take too long about it.
strike what strike
crisis what crisis
this is all anti semite lies told
by new hitlers everywheres especially iran
the frenchie are not strikings
if they was strikings it would be on the sky fox cnn and bbc news and in the times would it not already.
king macrons is using his amazing chabad and ex rothschild banker skills too make the republicks greater again than ever befores
is it not
You have made the error of assuming that these are news outlets.
I think he’s using irony!
That or satire?
Vive les Gilets Jaunes! Macron was placed into position by his top-banker masters? Macron is the most unpopular leader with the general public in the modern era.
On the other hand, Jeremy Corbyn is the most popular leader with the general public in the modern era; a fact which can not be covered up even by the whole establishment’s money, resources (including MSM), lackeys, nor even its despicable subversion & dirty tricks including postal ballot rigging! The truth always reigns!
Re: the leadership election – my dream team would be Jeremy Corbyn for Leader, and Ian Lavery for Deputy leader! Please stay at the helm, Jeremy Corbyn!
Jeremy did, however, harm himself quite a bit before our recent election.
His identity as a solid representative of working people was clearly compromised when it came to Brexit, and he is sadly no longer a possible figurehead for a British “Gilet Jaune”.
We’re going to have to keep looking there, but the support for such a figurehead obviously already exists.
No, Jeremy Corbyn has always been a Bennite-Lexiter, and still is. Only at the very end (last few months) was he forced by the Blairites in the name of ‘democracy’ (and even pressured by members of the shadow cabinet) to joining their voices in their PV/2nd ref position. If he had had Lexiter allies around him and supporting him rather than all the Blairite elements, he would not have been forced into this position.
However we cannot dismiss or ridicule the large suspicion many of us have that the establishment rigged the election not just with propaganda but also with postal ballot rigging. Heard of Idox? Compare this election’s much higher percentage of postal ballots with all previous elections, etc? Research for yourself…
I like Corbyn a lot, but, as you say, he was forced to join the 2nd referendum voices.
It’s arguable that he should not have allowed himself to be forced to do anything, but should instead have simply put his dilemma before the entire electorate, and let them decide what the best course of action/voting might be. At any rate I reckon it’s hard for him to shake the accusation that he was somewhat weak at the last moment, whatever the pressures on him might have been. The Blairites, of course, have always been closet Tories, but Jeremy might have said so to their faces.
You mention Idox, while for me the name, “Diebold” will never be forgotten after the USA election in 2000. Our “large suspicion” is a damn-near certainty imo.
P.S. I will gladly admit, however, that I consider Corbyn to be politically much shrewder than I am, and I would also be very happy to have to admit later that I was too hasty in my present judgement.
I would particularly love to think of him as Bennite in character, although I do sorely miss Benn’s sharp and deadly-accurate tongue these days.
Not really the whole story though, is it?
He campaigned for Remain, don’t forget, in the referendum, albeit half-heartedly. He should have had the courage of his convictions and led the Labour Leave campaign.
And then, after the 2017 election, he claimed to want to implement Brexit, but then he was always going on about Labour negotiating a Single Market or a customs union, as though he could magically conjure up something that isn’t the same as the existing SM or CU that we were in under full membership. For a while, I kept faith with him, that he knew what he was talking about, and could somehow square the circle, and bring off something that wasn’t BRINO.
But as time went on, it became clear that he had moved further and further, and inexorably into the Remain camp.
“He should have had the courage of his convictions and led the Labour Leave campaign.”
I totally agree with you about this bit, but I think it is unfair to blame Jeremy Corbyn for changing; he didn’t. I think he was trying to be staunchly democratic and go along with the people around him: who were unfortunately a largely remainer-PLP cabinet esp. the Deputy at the time, LFI Watson & LFI Thornberry and LFI/Trilateral Commission Starmer. And also a large part of the LP membership were remainers. His personal views were/are Lexiter and surrounded by that lot (with all their funders and allies) would have been virtually impossible to persuade them of a different stance. It is amazing he lasted (digging his heels in) for as long as he did. He only acquiesced at the last moment. I think his problem was he underestimated the ruthlessness of the remainer-Blairites around him; he should have surrounded himself with Lexiter allies from the otset and as you said, had the conviction to go forward unwaveringly as a Lexiter at the beginning (rather than appeasement and fence-sitting).
Yea like fucking Keir Starmer represents the hope of the working class. First we have to restore faith over immigration, jobs and homes. Nothing else is important. The green new deal is fuckery, as is shit trade deals with anyone, especially America and Europe which will include legal obligations to outsource everything. Untill a political movement opposes trade deals, we are fucked.
Polly Toynbee likes Starmer-the kiss of death, one would hope.
The Grauniad also like Jess Phillips…
I doubt that even her mother truly loves that Harpie.
Isn’t Keir Starmer the one (as DPP), who got Sweden to keep the alledged rape accusations alive against Julian Assange
If so, he’s politicised the Judiciary and is a subversive to Democracy. That he’s still in Labour is a disgrace.
Strange how, having prevented Corbyn from getting into No.10, the psychopaths who rule us are now immediately launching a war against Iran.
RE: Corbyn staying on as leader, remember that old adage: a week is a long time in politics.
The people ‘prevented’ Corbyn from getting into number ten, it’s called democracy, just like the referendum vote.
No. It’s propaganda.
Oh, you mean people voted against their better judgment due to Bernays style promotions/marketing/nefarious sales techniques? If so, then surely more suitable re-education is required to ensure that people have a vote without undue influence from any quarter?
I am not sure how this ideal might be achieved but it is a worthy aspiration.
Corbyn was prevented from getting into No.10.
However much the psychos might rail/propagandise against this, it’s fact.
Just wait until you psychos see the blowback on this.
I hope you are not right, RobG, but as a friend once advised: “As an atheist you had better ensure that you are right!”
Fifty percent of the electorate is, by definition, of below median intelligence, many far below. You of all people should know that. People from working-class areas that the Tories have fucked-over for generations, voting for a Tory regime that has murdered 200,000 with neo-liberal austerity since 2010?? That is sub-sub-median.
I must agree with you on that one Richard. The imposition of austerity (as per IMF) was unforgivable but understandable, following the crass unmitigated disaster that was 2008.
IMO this invoked shocking memories of 1976 which forced James Callaghan’s Labour Party government to borrow $3.9 billion ($17.2 billion in 2018 money) from the IMF, at the time the largest loan ever to have been requested. Austerity was recommended in this case and the Cameron coalition reached for the same solution.
But this excuses nothing and I can only surmise that the Northern ‘salt of the earth’ voted as they did through utter frustration with the Brexit chaos which reigned in the House for three years. Perhaps they voted for the least worst option or just the be ‘over with it’.
However I am not fooled by the clandestine operation of the city boys and their alma mater, the City of London itself:
I was reading about this period recently, as it happens, and in the end, the government didn’t actually have to borrow the money.
I found a quote by Denis Healey, Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time. He said that the Treasury had put the figures together, and it looked like we needed to borrow however many billion it was.
But about 3 months later, they revised their figures, meaning that the government didn’t actually have to call upon the agreed loan after all, and he needn’t have gone to the IMF in the first place.
Was this “dirty tricks” on the part of the Treasury? (bearing in mind this was an era of dirty tricks against Labour politicians, especially Harold Wilson.) We shall never know for sure, but I have my suspicions.
Thanks, Mike, I didn’t know this and I lived through this period; I was managing a multiple retail organisation at the time and I do remember innovating for the extreme distortions of inflation on our financials. This was all encompassing for me and we were reliant on the TV and newspaper propaganda of the day – unlike now with our multiple sources.
I will have another look at this period; many thanks for the heads-up
If the working class truly voted for their Eternal class enemies just because of Brexit, then the bastardy they are about to suffer is well earned. ‘Austerity’ is ‘recommended’ only by the parasites to make the serfs pay the price for elite greed, and simply because they enjoy harming others. Next stop for the chavs is fascism, and if Farage wants to play Fuhrer, he could oust BoJo.
Yes. I’ll give you an example. A much-used reason given for not voting for the Labour manifesto was, “we don’t want to go back to the 70s”. In reality that was impossible. The 70s were the pre-computer age and bureaucracy was a necessary means of keeping records and holding a large business together. When looked at logically, the meme is illogical but a great many people claimed that’s what prevented them from voting for Corbyn. While it’s possible they used that meme because it came to mind immediately and they were unable to vocalise the real reason for their dislike, it definitely had something to do with Keynesian economics. When opinion polls have always shown that people are favourable to having utilities, once again under government control.
Yes agreed, lundiel, thank you. I myself am in favour of utilities being nationalised and taken with some other laudable objectives laid out in the Labour manifesto, it does seem irrational that the masses rejected them.
However, given that the human animal is not rational (contrary to Keynesian economics), I must conclude that people voted with their heart out of either total frustration with Brexit, extreme boredom with politics in general (yawn) or an essential focus on the realities of living in this crazy world and trying to make a living.
Whilst I agree that our FPTP ‘democratic’ system is unfair and unbalanced – it’s all we’ve got so far and is generally better than jungle warfare at generally keeping the peace. Hence my practical claim that it is ‘democracy in action’ without condoning the obvious shortcomings.
We’re on exactly the same page.
Good to know :-))))
Ahem, I think you are re-writing history. I got my first job in computing in 1970, as it happens….
Large organisations and businesses had been using computing in some form or another since at least the 1950s.
Check out LEO, for example:
I stand by what I said, you are splitting hairs. Relational database prototypes were only in use in the late 7os and SQL was only in use in the 80s. Banks and similar organisation used IBM machines but British Rail for instance only used computers to control freight in the 70s, and Excel was only introduced in the 80s. It was a different era, much more labour intensive.
Micron was created by the CRIF, the Zionists’ organ of control of French politics, and Corbyn was destroyed by a conspiracy in which the Zionist elite were central, in entirely falsely slandering him, and DEMANDING that the false ‘concerns’ of some elite British Jews be regarded as the most important factor in UK social and political life. The sheer narcissism and endless demands are preposterous, but unable too be commented on, let alone criticised. That, by definition, is ‘antisemitic’.
Ridiculous even to have to say this, but if it should ever come to light that non-Jews are no more, and no less, antisemitic than non-Catholics or non-Muslims are anti-Catholic or anti-Muslim, then the Zionist “elite” (think Scribes and Pharisees) might have to rethink their position, due to some overwhelming numbers of rational people out there.
The current ban in some quarters regarding commenting on this issue cannot endure. Modern human nature won’t allow it, because modern human nature has had enough of plumbing the depths of political idiocy.
Despite the reign of terror and censorship of the ‘antisemitism’ industry, Jews are like all groups. Some are good, and some not. Some behave well, some do not. Some make little mistakes, some big ones. But the ‘antisemitism’ industry demands that NONE of them or their actions MUST ever be criticised, because ALL such criticism is simply hate, irrational enmity, driven by envy and malice. Has there ever been such a ludicrous abomination?
Its the similar to the Islamophobia industry. Muslims are like all groups. Some are good, and some not. Some behave well, some do not. Some make little mistakes, some big ones. But the ‘Islamophobia’ industry demands that NONE of them or their actions MUST ever be criticized, because ALL such criticism is simply hate, irrational enmity, driven by envy and malice.
And then there is the Koran…….
Except that the “Evil Islam” construct is a creation of the West with its phoney “War on Terror”.
Hardly. The volume of open, vicious, genocidal abuse of Moslems grows daily in the West, much of it made by Zionist hate-mongers (hate, as you illustrate, being their natural habitat)and their Sabbat Goy stooges. Moreover, the West, led by Israel and the USA, has slaughtered millions of Moslems in the last forty years, through aggression, invasion, subversion, sanctions and perpetual imprisonment, in giant concentration camps like Gaza, for the Palestinians. Fortunately the numbers of Westerners killed in retaliation, Christian and Jew, and neither, is minuscule in comparison.
The corporate and state media in the Anglosphere are up to their necks in this ‘industry’. But neither they nor their invited scribblers/talking heads ever explain what they mean by ‘anti-Semitism’, apart from occasional references to the unfit-for-purpose IHRC ‘definition’. If they did explain, it would reveal the true objective of most of the recent allegations: to de-legitimise support for the Palestinians and criticism of Israel’s treatment of them.
Even Kenneth Stern the author of the IHRA ‘definitions’ of ‘antisemitism’ acknowledged that it was meant to be setting parameters of discourse, not be set in stone. But after review by a group of five Judeofascists and Zionists, no goyim welcome, it was adopted as Holy Writ. ‘Thou shalt not ever question or dispute with any Jew, over any matter, whatsoever, PARTICULARLY the destruction of the Palestinians’.
This is why the little flag waving little Englanders aren’t too keen on the French, they see them objecting to the austerity,and resisting it, whist putting up with as much garbage these fascists throw at them, perhaps in a year or two when hairy arse Johnsons plans all fall to bits, may just make them think, maybe we should have voted differently, although I very much doubt it, just give them loads of football three times a week and transfers of £6,000,000 to keep their minds occupied , and they can get away with anything.
When the BoJo faeces begin to be flung from the Westminster zoo, the doughty Brits will turn on each other, not their Masters. Centuries of forelock tugging are inbred.
Yes ,I guess you’re right, proof is enough when you hear working class people defending against tax rises, they think it’s terrible , it’s a country of celebrity worshippers.
Same in Australia. As my grand-dad used to say, ‘Australians are like mongrel dogs-the more you kick them, the more they lick your boots’. And the Australians of his time were veritable demi-gods besides the greedy, dumb, morbidly obese fools who infest the country these days.
Just cheer yourself up with the knowledge that this has nothing to do with how people voted:
“If voting made any difference, they wouldn’t let us do it.” [Mark Twain]
Perhaps a long-term answer for the future would be a new “Blue Peter” programme, strictly for adults with an IQ of over 100, where the historic tricks of corrupt politicians are regularly and clearly itemized, then dissected and analysed for our edification.
Of course we would need a new team of producers and presenters, not to mention chief editors, in all our media in order to make this possible.
But it IS possible, because I remember being at school when a new subject, “Uses of English” was introduced. It was one of the most fascinating classes I have ever attended, covering, amongst many other things, the growing addiction of the population to TV advertising, and pointing out exactly where the gaping logical holes in that entire culture were to be found.
I regard that experience as one of life’s small miracles.
I did something called “Use of English” for a year in the 6th form (late 1960s for me). It was aimed at those doing science A levels, to try to ensure we weren’t totally illiterate. We were lucky to have a great teacher for it, and I loved every minute of it.
I wonder whose idea it was to introduce that subject…? In our school it was aimed at everybody who aimed at further education, whether arts or sciences. Our teacher was great too. A dry-humoured, no-nonsense character who saw through everything.
I guess that’s why today’s students are not taught “Use of English”, but “The Substitution of Infantile Propaganda for Normal Human Thinking Processes” instead…
Decent common sense is becoming so rare today that I tend to fall automatically in love with anybody, of any sex, and of any age, who has it. Platonically, of course…
Mob rule is not democracy, and no political movement has room for everyone & their brother.
The Gilet Movement is merely social contagion reflexively defining itself as a political movement but it is not organized and it exists without policy framework, and therefore cannot possibly be a viable political movement with informed leadership guiding the way.
I respect the French rioters but without a cohesive policy framework they are just rebels without a cause.
Smashing unions to bits and breaking them up usually starts this way. Macron is an elite 1%-er that is actually destroying the unions in France with austerity finance.
Anal retentive money hoarders like Macron & The Economist magazine will always mislead the public just as the American administration always misleads the public too.
The modus operandi of governments worldwide is always money!
Money is power to purchase intelligence.
Ah, so true MOU; one always needs power to invoke change. I came across this the other day, worth a look – sort of puts it all in context:
And very depressing.
‘Rules for the Rulers’ in simple language and easy to understand illustrations. It is really good.
Not depressing at all when we see clearly how the [visible] rulers govern us. I liked how they explained the relationship between the ruler and key supporters. Highly accurate, I would say.
Quite right. It was the truth which the video speaks that I found depressing, but of course one ought to be used to it by now. This was indeed accurate.
Gee I wish we had a First Republic…
We got a dumb leader with a girlfriend…
And a German monarch and consort. (Who said we aren’t part of Europe?)
I don’t see the Hong Kong protesters fighting ‘Neo liberalism’. How are they expressing that, by beating up and even killing elderly protesters protesting them? They are lucky to have a police force determined not to get brutal – something French police have relied on doing for many years. How many eyes blown out and hands amputated in Paris? Of course there are stories of HK officers when surrounded and their lives threatened taking pistols from their holsters, not firing. In Paris? They don’t get close but fire deadly projectiles into crowds from a safe distance.
I said anti government and anti neo-liberal — they’re certainly anti government
They apparently want the return of the British Empire (which makes you wonder if they can possibly be serious). American ‘protection’ is more like it. They remind me of those ‘pro-Democracy protesters’ in Kiev at Maiden Square in 2014 – just more violent! You have to wonder how hundreds if not thousands of kids in their early teens can afford such state of the art gas masks! Will we be allowed them when Johnson’s fantasy Britain starts chucking tear gas at the kids? Doubt it. We do already have a law from 1994 banning face covering if police so order it so no need for that ‘old colonial law’ to be re-introduced here!
Ukronazis have been transported to Hong Kong to ‘advise’ the scum, complete with fascistic tattoos, and a film about the fascist putsch in Kiev in 2014. You know-‘The Revolution of Dignity’. Fascism = Dignity. War is Peace, and Hate is Love.
The Hong Kong scum are definitely PRO-neoliberalism, and everything Yankee.
This and the anti-advertising movment is to be respected and supported. I doubt only the French understands dignity and how advertising is ailing us, but at least they are a role model and inspiration for everyone who cares about living and living free from corporate hegemonic assault on our body and mind.
Yes, big respect to the protesters; their bravery and sharp focus!