Yellow Fever in France

By Bernard Dreano, the chair of the Cedetim (Center of international solidarity initiatives and studies) and cofounder of the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly (Assemblée européenne des citoyens). Originally published at openDemocracy

Yellow and Green in climate march.

What is this yellow fever that has seized France since mid-November? Wearing these yellow safety vests (that every European motorist must have in his car), the Gilets Jaunes, by day and often night, have been occupying motorway interchanges, highway intersections,  roundabouts and shopping centers all over France, and going out into the streets every Saturday. With the apparent general approval of French public opinion (80% according to polls).

They are members of the white lower middle-class, driven by a diversity of motivations, generations and backgrounds. An unprecedented involvement of pensioners, a significant number of women. They are nurses, shopkeepers and artisans, employees of small businesses, farmers or jobless persons. They come mainly from suburban and rural areas, and very often from small towns.

A Deep Sense of Injustice

As has happened so often in France – and elsewhere –  this movement started as an anti-tax movement, against the rise of a tax on gasoline and diesel. Was it also an anti-ecological gesture, since directed against a carbon tax? The historian of social movements Gérard Noiriel has pointed out that this type of anti-tax struggle always reaches its climax when people have the feeling that they have had to pay without getting anything in exchange. The feeling, widely shared, that the tax serves to enrich the small caste of the ultra-rich has fuelled a deep sense of injustice in the lower classes.

Most of the Gilets Jaunes revolt less against the tax than against its unjust distribution. The fuel taxes were the last straw that broke the camel’s back. The movement is particularly strong in areas where the withdrawal of public services is most obvious, where people are condemned to using their cars to find, beyond the moribund sub-prefectures where they live, access both to public services and jobs. They are defending what holds a society together: schools, hospitals, police stations, transport, free of charge education, and so forth.

The initial response of President Emmanuel Macron, and the government of Edouard Philippe was that of contempt (towards his people who “understand nothing”) and an added provocation. This was an answer they had already deployed in opposition to the hundreds of thousands of people (workers and civil servants – that is categories other than the Gilets) who had taken to the streets at the behest of the main unions, against laws reforming the labor code in 2017.

After the first big demonstration of the Gilets in Paris on November 24, and a few incidents on the Champs-Elysée avenue, Christophe Castaner, the Minister of interior spoke about the “brown plague” in reference to the supposedly fascist character of the movement. This was in line with Macron’s own strategy to proclaim himself and his policy “progressive” in contrast to the fascists-populists that, the government began to explain, were drowning out the Yellow Vests from the ultra-right. Macron duly spoke of “scenes of war”, a self-fulfilling prophecy, since on the following Saturday (December 1) there were spectacular scenes of violence in the Arc de Triomphe and the rich neighborhoods surrounding it.

Here, before proceeding with our story, we must make two remarks.

First about the “political character” of the Gilets. Historically extreme-right parties have always been rooted in the social movements of the poor “white petit-bourgeois” social classes. And it is also the case with the new national-conservative populism of today. This time, the Rassemblement National (RN, former National Front) of Marine Le Pen, or Nicolas Dupont-Aignan’s smallest party Debout la France, immediately supported the movement, and RN or radical-rightist groups were soon to be spotted as active in certain rallies and demonstrations. We’ve also seen people from the ultra-right spreading fake news, conspiracy theories and racist themes in the Yellow Vest gatherings and on social media.

But this movement is horizontal, locally self-organized, with no leaders or representatives emerging (until now). The Gilets are anti-party, (and also anti-trade-union). In their many and sometimes confusing speeches and claims, racist and anti-migrant themes are not very visible. And we will also see that the Left is not totally out of the game.

Second remark. When Gilets Jaunes come to a demonstration, particularly in Paris, it is striking to see how they do not have the traditional codes and skills of demonstrations. They  do not go to the east of Paris, traditional location of all popular manifestations, but congregate in the Champs-Elysée, because it is the most famous place. The majority of the protesters have never been to any demonstration before and are coming “from the provinces” (as the Parisians say). Such people constitute the great majority of those arrested and convicted “for violence” after the demonstrations of December 1 and 8.

Yellow and Green Vests Together?

At the forefront of Gilets Jaunes, what are the positions of the left and progressive forces? There has been, and there still is a lot of contestation over this, even if almost everyone agrees on the analysis of what caused this movement: the growth of inequalities, the marginalization of certain regions and social categories, austerity and neoliberal politics, etc.

The trade-unions initially maintained their distance, noting the anti-unionism of many Gilets. Only Solidaires (minority and radical union) supported the movement, the CGT (the main union) remaining more cautious, although some of its activists participate in the actions, and  the CFDT (the second most powerful, moderate union) proposed its “mediation services” with the government (which was initially refused).


NGOs and the social movements (and especially ecological campaigns) perceived the importance of the movement from the outset. In a tribune published on the November 22, leaders of the alter-globalist movements ATTAC and Fondation Copernic[2] wrote:

The “yellow vests” are also the product of a succession of failures of the social movements. (…) We organisers, activists and leaders of the political, trade union and left networks, are all a part of these failures.
Two questions are posed by this movement: that of growing social misery, especially in the popular neighbourhoods of metropolises and rural or ultraperipheral deserts; that of the rise of an ecological and climatic crisis which threatens the conditions of existence even of a large part of humanity beginning with the poorest ones.

December 8 was the 4th Saturday of demonstration for Gilets Jaunes and was also the international day of climate protest. Was there a risk of a clash between Green and Yellow? Overly zealous Préfets even arrested the leaders of the march for the climate in Nancy and of the yellow vests in Grenoble, since “potential confrontations” could disturb the public order. The number of “yellow” and “green” demonstrators that day were roughly equivalent (15/17,000 in Paris). In the climate march there were a significant number of “greens” with yellow vests, bearing slogans such as:  End of the world and end of the month, for us, it’s the same fight! Or No climate justice without fiscal and social justice!In some towns, like in Lyon, “Greens” and “Yellows” joined together and a significant number of Gilets Jaunes expressed their concern about climate change.

This does not mean, however, a unity of the people or a convergence of these struggles. We have seen that the Gilets Jaunes are rather white and lower middle class. Those who joined the climate marches are mainly young urbans (like those who occupied places during the Nuits Debout movement in March-June 2016) or traditional leftist activists.

And what about inhabitants of the banlieues, those populated neighborhoods where especially the youth from Arab or African origin reside? There was debate, some groups called on others to join the protest or support the yellow vests against their repression, but as the Collectif Rosa Park underlined in their response:

There will be no broad front against the Macron regime or the fascism that is coming if immigration and the suburbs that make up a few million souls are ignored.

In early December, high school students, and to a lesser extent university students, also began to move. High schools in the banlieues are particularly mobilized and have been particularly repressed by the police in places such as Aubervilliers or Mantes la Jolie where the spectacle of young people, stopped and arrested, kneeling at the foot of the police, has became a symbol taken up even by the yellow vests (kneeling hands on their head in protest in front of the police). And by mid-December the movement had spread to many high schools in large cities or their suburbs.

High school students and police in Mantes la Jolie.

Social and Political Crisis

Is there a political way out of this social crisis? One of the problems is the extreme polarization of the debate. In the political system of the French’s Fifth Republic there is a concentration of symbolic and real power assumed in the hands of the President of the Republic.

The call Macron resign ! is extremely popular among Yellow Vests. For the French editor of the popular leftist website Mediapart, Edwy Plenel, Macron is paying for his irresponsible unconsciousness, added to a personal exercise of power woven out of scorn and contempt. [2]. Esther Benbassa, Member of the Senate for the Green Party (EELV) walking on December 1 alongside a group of youth from the banlieue of leftist activists and trade-unionists, to join up with the Gilets Jaunes, described in her blog:

All along the way, the yellow vests I met told me about the “king’s head” they wanted. Macron’s. The tone was hard, angry, whole. We did not speak of the President of the Republic but of the King.

But the king is naked. Trust is destroyed. The possibility of a “party of fear“ supporting Macron (like De Gaulle in 1968) does not exist… Macron will keep the instruments of power and parliamentary majority but is no more the wonder-boy elected eighteen months ago.

The government has retreated on the increase of fuel taxes and some other measures, and desperately seeks a “framework of negotiation”. It calls to its aid those Macron has previously treated with disdain: unions, local elected representatives, associations. And the King (Excuse me, President Macron) spoke to his subjects on December 10 (Pardon, the French citizens). He announced some measures in favor of low wages and poor pensioners, but no fundamental change in social or ecological policy.  However, it is going to be difficult for Macron to pursue the neoliberal demolition of the French social model at the same pace as before.

On the political field, the opposition parties, leftist Jean Luc Melanchon’s France Insoumise (LFI) and Ultra-right Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National are asking for new legislative elections (without really believing that it can happen). The Parti Socialiste has not yet recovered from its 2017 defeat. The centre-right conservative party Les Républicains, hesitates, especially because if they were in power, they would enact the same neoliberal “modernising” policy as Macron, while their leader, Laurent Wauquiez, took up the themes of the extreme right.

The next election deadline is the European elections next spring. We can expect a considerable number of abstentions, and the success of europhobic and xenophobic extreme right-wing forces, as elsewhere in Europe.

Some of the yellow vests going to the polls will no doubt be tempted by this far-right populist vote. Could others support a progressive, social and environmental alternative? The aspiration to find such an alternative has also been expressed in the yellow-green fever of recent weeks.

At the level of programmes of “ the left of the left” parties, the convergence on social and ecological objectives, (if not ecosocialist), seems, on paper, possible, between La France Insoumise (LFI), the Greens (EELV), the movements Génération.s of the former socialist Benoit Hamon, the French Communist Party (PCF) and even the popular Trotskyist leader Olivier Besancenot.

But this unity will not take place for these European elections, because these different forces are divided on Europe. Even more, because they are in competition, and because Jean Luc Mélanchon and the LFI are persuaded that they alone embody “the movement of the people”.

Pity. But we may not have to miss out on the next instalment entirely. The municipal elections of 2020 or multicolored alliances are both possible … if the crises afford us sufficient time…


[1] Annick Coupé, Patrick Farbiaz, Pierre Khalfa, Aurélie Trouvé, In Le Monde, November 20th

[2] Edwy Plenel : The battle of equality, Mediapart December 2.


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  1. Which is worse - bankers or terrorists

    What is fascinating is that the Yellow Vests emphasize is a search for a new political consensus and associated leadership. But this is occurring a period of a desert of new ideas. Where does that lead us?

    1. DanP

      Am I the only person who sees the connection between the Yellow Vests of France and the Deplorables in the US?

      It is NOT new ideas we need, not in this circumstance, it is OLD ideas and values that are needed.

      Trump gets that at the level of his lizard brain and I think it is too obvious for the “sophisticated” liberal elites to comprehend. They confuse themselves.

      It is really so simple.

      People want community, the ability to preserve their cultural identity and who does and does not get invited into that community and how much those people invited in get to alter the rules.To have this you need government to be close tot he community. It is why both the federal government in the US and the EU are always suspect. Texas does not want CA values shoved down their throat. The citizens of Lyon do not want Libyan exiles setting what is or is not culturally acceptable or Brussels setting rules that make no sense to them in their context.

      People want economic reliability at least some level of predictability so they can plan and they want enough wealth to live respectably and without fear of homelessness, hunger and the cost of illness. Globalization, the offshoring of work and the onshoring of cheap labor threatens this.

      That the elites, the liberal elites in particular, treat these people as lesser beings, as though they are inherently flawed or mentally ill, only exacerbates the anger against the elites who have put in place structures that threaten the social and economic stability of these people. OF COURSE they voted for Trump and burn cars. They are spitting back at those that sold them a bill of goods and then mocked them for not appreciating it.

      1. juliania

        I am totally in sympathy with the Gilets Jaunes, in that I understand where they are coming from. I am in the US in New Mexico, and here it is not about taxes so much as a complete breakdown in the administration of what passes for the law. Ordinary people are being victimized as the last precious morsels of wealth are being sucked from the people by the ‘justice’ system. The Motor Vehicle Department has made it increasingly difficult here just to renew a licence or ID in the past year, because their computerized system no longer recognizes former legitimate documents. That means women with different married names from their birth certificates have had to find the original marriage certificate, bona fide naturalized citizens have had to go without a license for a month even though they can produce a certificate with their photo showing they are indeed citizens; and so on. So, if they work, and must drive in this state with no public transportation, they drive and are further ticketed for driving without a license. Then they are shuttled back and forth between the courthouse and the MVD, often lose their car if that is being paid for by a job no longer on offer. It is a total nightmare.

        I wrote the NM Attorney General’s office on behalf of a relative caught in this predicament. Got my letter back stamped “Not this Department.” Go figure. This is not about right or left.

          1. juliania

            Certainly it is federal, Lynne, but the shuttling back and forth between departments that are often in different counties from the one you live in or the one you work in — with the one official saying “you have to get certification from the court” and the other saying “no, the DMV; get your license back first” in a rural state where public transportation is minimal, has affected numbers of people for whom just getting back and forth to work is extremely difficult. It’s become kafkaesque.

            I appreciated very much Yves’ article a while ago about the Tennessee judge who said such predatory removal of licenses from people who hadn’t paid a traffic ticket was unconstitutional. That whole process in the past year of not recognizing documents was my own personal experience and I believe that was unconstitutional also. But that’s just me – I know the problem was very widespread in this state. And that’s just one of the many issues that are reported on here. My point was that it isn’t about ideology but about what is working for people in general.

            1. Lynne

              The thing that bothers me the most about it is that there seems to be no escape hatch. Someone told me she had divorced 30 years ago in another state, remarried 20 years ago, and got a second divorce 15 years ago. Because she couldn’t come up with a certified copy of the 30-year old divorce decree (and because as a woman, her name is variable), she couldn’t get her license. There appeared to be no workarounds. We have NO public transportation, so it could have gone bad so quickly, but because we live in a small town, and the cops knew the story and were sympathetic, she managed not to get a ticket. She later said she got it eventually and she wouldn’t tell me how she got it. I suspect she took the clerk’s advice and just “forgot “ to mention that first divorce on the application. But heaven help her if it ever becomes an issue.

              So yes, I understand how terrible it is. But I don’t blame NM for it. And frequently, it’s a survival mechanism on the part of clerks not to care too much, or they would go mad.

              My issue is that it is yet another stupid, burdensome law passed by clueless people in Washington who either don’t know, don’t care about, or actively despise those of us who live more than 100 miles from a coast.

        1. Mac na Michomhairle

          The two comments above are very accurate about rural America.
          Life for most people except the professional groups has become really obviously more and more difficult in the last decades. Unless you’re a tradesman in a place people can pay for your services, jobs are scarce, low-paying and crappy. Community is collapsing, which means everyone is on their own. (People need to feel connected and grounded, and if they don’t find that where they live, they find it in mass movements or churches, usually now right-wing,) At the same time, there is more and more interaction necessary with bureaucracies, private and state, that seem to be designed to make that interaction demeaning and difficult.

          The professional classes (?) staff these bureaucracies and are the bureaucracies’; ‘face’ for most people. Professionals can negotiate the demands of the neo-liberal economy because of education and the milieu of their upbringing, and people see them doing well while everyone else is going under. At the same time, most professionals or whatever have never had any contact (except for services) with working class people, and they despise them because they are not like like themselves.They are not aware of their own privileged position or what it is like for others. The professionals staff the media and government and set the national conversation. The Democrats now represent the professional class. It is eo wonder many people voted last presidential election for the only person offering change–a person who also understands how to sound like he is just an ordinary person. America is on a road that does not lead anywhere good.

          1. Which is worse - bankers or terrorists

            I’m repeating myself below, but I’m one of the professional class Democrats you’re describing. I’ve moved 5 times around the world for senior level finance positions, and moved 6 times around the Is as a corporate kid. I never had community, don’t miss it, and from the outside can certainly see some conformist constraints in such community environments.

            Can someone explain the benefit of community to those who haven’t experienced this? I don’t really see a problem with the world I’ve got.

            1. Wukchumni

              I knew about .0000001% of the people by name & face in L.A. when I lived there, and now know about 10% of the people here in the same fashion. Add in the 6 degrees of separation, and i’m probably aware of perhaps 1/3rd of the population.

              If you do something stupid in our community, everybody knows.

              Personal accountability is what’s lacking in our big anonymous cities.

              1. DHG

                I currently live in small town America they are worse than city people. I know more and interacted with more in the city than I ever have where I am now, neighbors dont even talk here in my rural town unless they are family. I am here not by my own choice but out of necessity of family matters and I will be returning to the city once that business is settled.

            2. Lynne

              When you’re sick and can’t drive yourself, how do you get to the doctor? When you’re old and infirm, who will shovel your sidewalk or make a run to the store for groceries? When you’ve hurt your back and can’t lift anything, who will take out your trash? When you need people to talk to, who will take the time to visit? When ther is anarchy because you considered yourself above the obligation to participate in civil society, who will protect you? And no, you can’t hire those things if you aren’t a professional class member.

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                His questions are reminiscent of the “I’ve got mine to hell with everyone else” crowd. He’s identified with the professional class and IBM. Even though those might not be healthy they are communities. I suspect its an element of class.

                Then he seems to compare community to noisy neighbors as if its the same thing.

                “All people want cultural and economic stability”. Do they? With respect, I would object to this statement. I’ve been a real estate developer and finance professional and appreciate that this no longer exists, and would be difficult to return to in an electronically interconnected world,

                I draw attention to his lack of need for a community with his acknowledgement of our interconnected world which they appear to be a beneficiary of. I find it more fascinating than the usual bootstrap Republican style rant, but its still largely the same rant.

                Like Republicans, he seems to have no need for evolutionary science questioning why we need communities. We are social primates. Its not even a question. One might as well as why water is wet.

                1. Lynne

                  You shouldn’t bash all Republicans like that. I know some who are very decent people. The party apparatchiks, not so much.

                  1. NotTimothyGeithner

                    Republicans who go to Republican events. White flight Republicans…”moderate suburban Republicans”, fundies, and libertarians. Country club Republicans (Real ones, not the phony ones in the suburbs)

                    I would say it applies to enough of them to use that broad of a brush. I feel like the rank and file don’t identify as Republicans quite as much.

                    1. Lynne

                      Fair enough. I like to think of myself, my family, and friends as decent people, but where I live, there is no point in registering as a Democrat. The only elections that really matter are in the primaries. The Democratic Party didn’t even bother to run candidates in a number of state races in 2018. Oddly enough, there are times where a republican candidate will run to the left of the democratic one. 2016 was not a new phenomenon in that regard.

                2. Which is worse - bankers or terrorists

                  “We are social primates…why Water is wet”.

                  Don’t you think this kind of axiomatic thinking lacks the kind of scientific questioning you seem to otherwise be promoting?

                  I’ve lived 45 years in 12 different cities, three continents and 8 countries and am not entirely sure you can really say that everyone needs community, not that there is something ethical or positive in tying yourself to a particular place. That just seems to be a bit of an absolute statement. I didn’t choose to be a corporate kid but actually feel humbled, really lucky and fortunate to see the world, work with different cultures, and share these wonderful experiences with others.

                  I look at the opening up of labor markets to allow for something better not imagined beforein the same way that Neitzsche talked about liberating oneself from morality to achieve something more purposeful beyond it.

                  At the same time, I have trouble seeing how those disadvantaged by the same system currently can also find a way to benefit from it. But, the world has solved greater problems than this before.

                  “On evolutionary science”, perhaps one concern with communities is its occasional use of history as a conformist, unifying force. If you consider the nation state as a kind of community, or at least organizing principle, in human history, what has killed more people than nation states? You have to consider the Treaty of Westphalia as one of the most tragic events of western history in that regard.

                  To comment on Lynne’s post, this decade I lived in a Middle Eastern country with a civil war where 250,000 have been killed. What did I do? I moved. I do note that 10 million people were displaced in that war, and nearly all of them are not part of a professional class.

                  But that experience, along with also living in the Soviet Union, makes me appreciate the tyranny of the nation state in a way that perhaps few appreciate.

                  1. NotTimothyGeithner

                    And now the specter of the USSR and the brown people and their civil wars with no mention of U.S. involvement…shocking!

                  2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

                    Excellent responses, Which is worse.

                    Im having problems getting my license renewed in Louisiana because apparently i need to pay $600+ in fines.

                    My crime? Cancelling my Insurance and not turning in my license plate!


                    Also, i have no idea whats state and whats Federal in DMVLAND

                  3. Left in Wisconsin

                    Much of the best early sociology in the U.S. – a hundred years ago – was about the growth of the city and the anonymity it provided, which had both good and bad influences. The morality of city life is is an age-old question that has no definitive answer. Winesburg, Ohio, to cite another take, is still pretty powerful reading.

                    Many of us think modern cosmopolitanism is something different, and worse. Not just asocial but homogenizing in a very particular way, that somehow is invisible to the cosmopolitans themselves, a global social class dependent on but superior to a service class of other humans, somehow (via hard work, “merit,” and good branding – that is, unfairly self-selected) in control of our lives as well as their own. Also, it seems like the cosmopolitan lifestyle is extremely problematic with regard to addressing climate change.

                  4. Lynne

                    You know, a civil war where 250,000 have been killed is a pretty good indication that community has broken down. And what did you do? You went and found a new community. You just supported the point you are objecting to.

                    1. Which is worse - bankers or terrorists

                      Well, I wouldn’t describe Dubai has having community in the sense that you describe it. So, no.

                  5. McGardner

                    Having lived upstate, you’ve likely experienced community, warts and all. Having now asked the question re: the utility/necessity of community, I think you’re yearning for it but you don’t know how to find it. All the money in the world won’t afford you a community. Because to belong to a community is to have common ground amongst you. Common struggles, common solutions and common responsibilities. If I may guess, you’re not married or have children? That will help to ground one in a community and may even be desireable for stability of place for the kids. Somewhere to answer the question ‘Where are you from?” I’ve gallavanted more than a fair shares worth, but have found peace in staying put and embraced my 4yrs new St Paul, MN community. They may be too civil and a stride too liberal, but the community rallied around us when we needed them to…. in a beautiful way. Sorta like God; you don’t need it till ya really do. Think of it as an investment as such.

                  6. rob

                    My guess is you were living in a “community” in all those places. Both as an adult and as a child. As an adult, you lived in the community of your corporate comrades. you were also part of an expat community, amorphous as it may be, whatever country of origin you may have most identification with.
                    But the really telling thing is you have the community of arrogant interlopers. those people who by the power of the money they have at their disposal, are accustomed to , and get special privilege, wherever they go. Whether, it is the upper crust apartments house AND neighborhood, or the fancy restaurants, or clothes shopping venues, or whatever. It is your economic status, that defines you. This is your inherent sense of privilege. Which has obviously been cultivated since you were a child of those in similar circumstances. Even if your parents were military, and that is the reason for your multicultural upbringing, and not the circumstance of money, where you would have gone to fancy schools with kids whose parents were also well off. as most children of expats do . Even the army brats abroad are really in quite a community, along with all the kids they may or may not know, who are all “somewhere”, because their parents “have to be”
                    It seems to me , you are very much a person with a community, try staying/living in a neighborhood,where you don’t get the special privileges you seem to be accustomed to.
                    I could be wrong… but….

                    1. Which is worse - bankers or terrorists

                      I find it interesting that you assume this. I live in a 600sf apartment in Dubai with another person. The person is I live with is the only social contact I have in Dubai.

                      Isn’t this being a little presumptuous?

                    2. rob

                      This is actually a reply to the banker /terrorist/ troll below.
                      And I know, “don’t feed the trolls”, so this is all..
                      Well , if you are in real estate and finance and you only get to shack up in a 600 sq. ft. apt, and that is all you get; you must not be very good at your job. ‘
                      And I assume the rest, because any and/or all of that would fit a “real” person,in a “real” situation. Your arrogance shows itself, your profession must be the finance side of real estate, because real estate is a very social profession. You ,by necessity, must interact with those around you. Properties are “real”, and do not in themselves “move around”..When you move into any new locale, you must by the nature of the beast associate with those in control of the properties, either coming or going…Does gravity not exist where you live either?
                      So again, I could be wrong… I don’t know you from adam… and you don’t seem genuine in the least.

                3. Oregoncharles

                  No, he asked a very useful question, along the lines of “define your terms;” Wukchumni and Lynne, so far, tried to answer it. It’s an answer we need to have to hand.

                  Years ago, an anthropologist established that even people in large cities mostly live in small communities – neighborhoods – within those cities. Those correspond to villages. Primitive people live in bands of around twenty or less – the same number of people who can hold a functional seminar – which are networked into groups of hundreds, the number of people you can “know.” This is the level of social network we’re inherently comfortable with.

                  His question exemplifies “deracination” – no roots. Mostly we see that in terms of the harm it can do to others: such people have little reason to serve local support systems, including ecological. But they are also harmed; their existence is deeply insecure, precisely because they don’t have much support network. And it does psychological damage that’s harder to pin down – but we see it in the “crapification” of our lives and societies.

                  Local control is one of the key values of the US Green Party. I’d like to see the French party asserting it in relation to the Gilets Jaunes, too. Apparently at least one representative of the party has, but I also heard they supported the diesel tax, as they would.

                  I think the US party’s position would be that you can’t fix the environment on the backs of the poor. The party insists of social justice, too.

            3. John

              Community is the best way to thwart ‘divide and conqueror’ oligarchs since Babylon. Never having lived outside the corporate community, you may not be able to understand how that community oppresses others. You are a minion of the community of oligarchs. That is your community and you ignore the deleterious effects the corporate community has on others.

            4. scarn

              Can someone explain the benefit of community to those who haven’t experienced this? I don’t really see a problem with the world I’ve got.

              People value their systems of material support and identity. For the class of people who are the losing party in the inequitable relationship that benefits the class that you belong to, that material support and identity most frequently comes from the people with whom they interact most. Those people are going to be family, friends, fellow laborers, most of whom will live near them or who are kin. People value it because it provides material or emotional support and solidarity that they cannot receive elsewhere. I don’t think that people, by and large, are very good at identifying the personal decisions and systemic processes that brought them to whatever social position they happen to inhabit, so these ‘communities’ also serve as a useful shortcut for people to explain why things are the way they are.

              It’s pretty weird for you to take the position that you don’t have a community at all. No social circles, benefactors, family, coworkers, clients or employees who share your world-outlook? I find that hard to believe.

              I doubt many people find wealth to be a problem.

            5. Montanamaven

              Hmmmm? key word in this comment is that he works in “finance”. Read David Graeber’s “Bullshit Jobs”. A community is where you know somebody who grows your food, transports your food, fixes your toilet when the food plugs it up and keeps the lights on. A community still has great third places like the local bar where you can mingle with all kinds of people; conservatives, liberals, libertarians, electricians, cops, and, sigh, the occasional banker who often has the least interesting stories to tell. I moved part time to upstate NY. Almost all the Republicans I’ve met are salt of the earth; have invited me to their barbecues, and tolerate my contrarian views. I divide people more along the lines of mean and snooty people versus kind and/or helpful people. Most of finance seems to be gambling. So gamblers go to where the marks are, I guess. Until there sources dry up. Then they blow town. There are the George Baileys, of course. But you will find them mostly in a small communities not globe hopping.

              1. Which is worse - bankers or terrorists

                ” moved part time to upstate NY”

                I went to high school there. It was great to be in high school there. At the same time, you have to see the reality but people like that and places like that are getting crushed by the corporate leviathan. Nearly all of my friends left upstate New York from high school. A number live in Phoenix, others in Raieigh, others in DC.

                To me it isn’t about whether it is positive or negative, good or bad, it is just a question of survival. I don’t really aspire to anything higher, because I can’t envision it. The notion of survival was formed by surviving and working through the 2008 real estate crisis, and surviving that. I don’t think there is really anything wrong with trying to survive, it is nothing but a natural instinct.

                The Yellow Vests are getting crished in the same way.

            6. Jeremy Grimm

              “Right now … I think everything is fine without community.” But times are changing. At times of crisis without community … humankind becomes a mob … and we are dancing on a knife’s edge. For now, I don’t really see a problem with the world you’ve got. It’s the world I lived with and all too many of us have lived with and might have to live with. It’s a world that ends in isolation. Like you, I am a solitary creature by nature — at least I assume that is your nature by virtue of your comments — but I have lived more years than you. The problems described in the other comments, problems getting rides after minor surgeries and problems taking care of what you have when you must travel are very real problems. When your work life ends you might discover a deep loneliness you never knew lurked beneath the noise of ‘work’. And although you don’t see a problem with the world you’ve got … now … without ties to a community you might discover some problems in the world we will have.

              It’s Christmas time! You need to watch the old black and white movie of “A Christmas Carol”. You may not be haunted by Marley’s ghost but the loneliness of Scrooge penetrates his past, present, and future. The oneness of community is “the benefit of community to those who haven’t experienced” it. We are one humankind, rare in the stars and time, and unique among the wondrous creatures of this world. Community is the essence of that oneness.

          2. JTMcPhee

            How many of the face-to-the-public DMV and court clerk government workers are “of the professional class”? When I just renewed by drivers license here in in Florida, all the dozens of counter clerks were pretty clearly mopes like me. Maybe their supervisors up the organizational chart are “professionals,” but not these folks.

            And I’d second the notion that it is hard for these people to maintain any empathy and exert efforts to “make the system work for the benefit of the citizen.” Hard, uphill work against the pressures from above to move ’em along. Saying that, I observed several transactions where decent fellow humans went well beyond the brusque mean-spiritedness I have encountered in other bureaucracies (including of course the “Medical UNsurance” monstrosities I have personally and professionally run into.)

            1. jrs

              how many of the “professional class” are even of the professional class really?

              When so many arguably professional jobs have been gig-ified so it’s all really no benefit, no security, precarity. Sure a few that aren’t still exist, and if one has more than there share of luck they might land one. But professional class is becoming more and more of a strawman given the total wipeout of much of the middle class.

              Unlike the rich one might still interact with some still professionals though … the really rich hide behind their gated walls.

        2. Newton Finn

          Is it rather about right AND left, together rising up to overthrow cosmopolitan extractive elites and return human life to its proper setting in particular communities of identity and solidarity? Almost all of what we hear and read about this geographically-rooted version of “identity politics” comes from the demeaning elite perspective, which makes “Reclaiming the State,” by Mitchell and Fazi, THE BOOK for leftists who wish to understand and influence resurgent localism, especially in its most powerful and potentially-inclusive form of nationalism.

        3. ef

          I could tell you stories about what happened to my wife here in New Mexico about her license renewal. Incredible. She was on a military base in Guam. Oh how foreign. And had to prove that, yup, she was a citizen by birth.
          And I was just about to put on a yellow vest and march up to the city hall, grab a high school kid to handle a camera, and shut them down after an entire lane of a road swallowed up a car after a water main broke beneath it.
          And look far beyond places like New Mexico to Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago and Cook County’s handling of mass transportation and the Chicago police and Chicago schools.
          Where is the Left??

      2. Which is worse - bankers or terrorists

        @DanP, who is to say people want community? In the past 20 years I’ve lived in DC, California, Arizona, Dubai, India, and Saudi Arabia, and worked in over 15 countries in C-level and Director level positions. I moved 6 times as the child of Ann IBM executive. Quite frankly I don’t want community with a lot of my neighbors. I’ve never known the kind of community you describe, but from the outside see lots of problems with it.

        Why is it assumed community is necessary?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Why is it assumed community is necessary?

          Because we are social primates, not cats, capable of potentially an unlimited number of personal relationships unlike most animals which have measurable limits? Apes tend to die alone. In your comment above, you claimed to be part of the professional class which is its own community.

          You do realize the cities you go to are communities, right? They formed, so people had meeting places instead of it being ad hoc spots. Those cities aren’t like magnetic drawing points that just happen to have humans buzzing around.

          1. Which is worse - bankers or terrorists

            “Professional Class” as a community.

            I spend about 12-14 with coworkers that spend most of their time trying to get each other fired in a corporate setting. This is my world, and doesn’t really seem anything like the community that Lynne describes above. I tried to get one of my coworkers thrown in jail two years ago after some infighting at the office. Tell me again why I would want to promote community?

            1. jrs

              I think you are trolling us. But ok yea there is no honor among thieves or sociopaths. Mostly people aren’t sociopaths despite endless attempts to make them so, and even if the sociopaths rise to the top, more like oil on an oil slick than cream.

              1. Which is worse - bankers or terrorists

                “I think you are trolling us.”

                Perhaps part of the issue is that equating challenging one’s opinion to trolling is sort of a disappointing response to a reasonable line of argument. You haven’t compared me to Hitler yet…there is still time…

                  1. Glen

                    Wow, trolls. Quite a few of them. Hopefully they are being paid.

                    Which answers the question. Bankers are worse than terrorists.

                  2. Jeremy Grimm

                    Troll or not I find this thread a good read and appreciate the many comments it contains. However — what about the initial comment — “… this [‘Yellow Vests emphasize is a search for a new political consensus and associated leadership’] is occurring [in] a period of a desert of new ideas. Where does that lead us? That seems a valid question, although I suppose someone could argue the assertion that this period is a desert of new ideas.

                    1. NotTimothyGeithner

                      There is nothing new under the sun. The old ideas will work. Mass transit, reducing the work week, healthcare, education, leisure opportunities, public works, taxing the rich back to merely the leisure class, and so forth. Planting trees, solar rooftops etc. Some things are better because of technology and industrial capacity, but good roofs always took advantage of the sun.

                      One of the refrains of the DLC/neoliberal class is a constant demand for new ideas because they want be popular for calling for a tax cut for the rich. Republicans like to use the term “dinosaur left”.

                      Not that the old ideas are perfect. Putting in trolley lines tomorrow is stupid, but we could run buses on the same routes and achieve very good results in many communities that couldn’t afford a trolley line or make it work for several years.

                      Ideas are offered all the time. There is a whole sub genre of literature called science fiction which is basically just “new” ideas. Asking for where the new ideas are is generally a sign of being willfully ignorant.

                1. John Merryman.

                  When society was/is small, economics is reciprocal, but as it grows, accounting is necessary and that is the function of money, a voucher system. Which makes it the social contract holding mass society together. Yet we experience it as quantified hope and assume it is a commodity to mine out of society. Finance is the circulation mechanism of society, as government is the executive and regulatory system. So money is like blood, but we are treating it like fat and trying to store it, hence enormous government debt and asset inflation. Basically bankers are having a let them eat cake moment, as they lose sight of their larger social function and spiral into self aggrandizement. It’s like the heart telling the rest of the body to go suck dirt. Doesn’t end well for anyone.

            2. Oregoncharles

              @ “Which is Worse…”: Evidently not everybody needs community. There might be mental health issues as a result, but what matters here is that most people would regard your life as a nightmare. You’re welcome to it.

              This is a good example of anecdotes not being data. Evidently, there is a substantial subset of people who choose your life and can live with it. As I said above, the rest of us may have issues with such people, though I’m willing to assume, for present purposes, that you’re trying to be useful. Certainly I appreciate your offer of a different point of view – and it’s certainly true that community can have its disadvantages; Amfortas talks about those sometimes.

              1. Which is worse - bankers or terrorists

                “but what matters here is that most people would regard your life as a nightmare. You’re welcome to it.”

                It’s not whether I like it or not, my mentality is borne out of a desire to simply survive. It’s a mentality borne out of being in real estate through 2008…I have friends that were out of work for years. I wasn’t.

                I went to high school in a place defined as such as community but to me, it seems that the corporate leviathan will devour all communities and we will either be part of it or be devoured. One hundred years from now we won’t remember anything else. I don’t see it as a political choice, I see it as simple evolutionary biology…the strong earing the weak. it’s not about what I want, really.

                I don’t think there will be much capacity to resist it, given the current state of electronic surveillance. This is what I becoming of the Yellow Vests.

                1. John Merryman.

                  We think linearly, but nature functions cyclically. For example, time is not really the point of the present flowing past to future, but change turning future to past. Potential, actual, residual. It’s an effect, like temperature, pressure, color, frequency, etc. Just that thought is abstracted from the intentional motion of fauna, so we think sequentially. Meanwhile action is balanced by reaction. Think thermodynamics. So there is only so far those skyscrapers can rise, before they come crashing back down. Especially when the foundations are being cheated on, in order to put more gold in the penthouse.

                2. Amfortas the hippie

                  my first reaction to your words was to reject them as myopic elitism…but now I may understand. I grew up in small towns and rural places…filled with narrow-minded hicks and provincial clans and an all encompassing expectation to conform to some ill defined(because people don’t think) standard of “how things are, and should be”.
                  being a weirdo genius kid, more apt to be found under a tree with a book than in church or on the ball field…let alone signifying my masclinity or superiority…I found early on that I was an outsider in the places I should rightly expect to belong to.
                  as a result, I approached the society and culture around me as an anthropologist among the hostile tribe. So I sort of get, I think, your cosmopolitan perspective….communities of humans can be bewildering if one is not somehow a part of them…embedded in them….but that very embeddedness changes the perspective of the observer.
                  “community” and “belonging” and “place” are necessarily ill defined…people within them don’t think about their contours and what they contain very much. They just Are.
                  what you’re talking about…the “colonisation” of village life by a globalist, imperial leviathan…might seem inevitable…an evolutionary imperative that cannot be resisted because it is a natural consequence of what has come before…
                  one might say…”the village would have resisted the colonisation, by now…if they were ever going to…”
                  but this is to impose a timeline and a historical determinism on an already hypercomplex human experience. It’s reductive in the extreme, and contains it’s own embedded perspectives.
                  people resist being swallowed where they can…and often don’t even know consciously that they are resisting something….and often can’t articulate the experience of being swallowed.
                  those of us, here, with a perhaps broader perspective tend to look askance at the rubes in the village…how quaint, these living fossils….clinging to their outdated modes of existence.
                  but this perspective contains it’s own arrogance and blindspots….it’s own “Certainties” that are really just more assumptions, based on glossed over generalities.
                  The resistance to the globalist, corporate, “neoliberal” order is myriad, ad hoc and long term.
                  and since humans usually don’t possess the ability to be objective, this resistance is also largely unconscious and reactionary.
                  Poke the amoeba with an electrode and watch it flinch away.
                  But the backwards peoples are just as much a part of this globalist empire as the investment banker or the ceo…while the latter may have better connected steering wheels, and a cleaner part of the windshield to look through…this does not mean that they are truly in control of this thing we’ve all somehow created, careening towards some unknown end.
                  Certainty is the enemy of Thought.
                  and “I know that I do not know” is the necessary first step in attempting to find out.
                  so to understand eruptions and resistance, one must put aside certainty…”walk a mile in their shoes” with an open mind and heart.
                  and also put aside any pretense of inevitability…every empire in history thought it was inevitable and eternal, until it wasn’t…and then it’s non-inevitability seemed, itself, inevitable.

            3. ef

              I did the same for some 10 years in “IT community”. There was a language that you spoke. A definite corporate language. I had to. Employees trying to get each other fired. They were scared of becoming mere temporary “consultants” like me.
              Then I retired and then I needed to find out how to fix a sink. Went walking the hood and came upon a fixit guy who was loading up his old pick up. We got to talking about sink technology and he told me what I had to fix. A neighborhood guy == sink tech. Problem solved. Cheap.

        2. Roy G

          You’re from the C-suite, that explains a lot. Have you taken one of those sociopath tests yet? It may provide some insight to your question.

          1. Which is worse - bankers or terrorists

            I never understood how being is the C-suite is conflated with naturally being a sociopath. I think you just pick up those sociopathic tendencies with the job. It becomes sort of necessary to navigate the way you need to. When you’re not on the job, these tendencies tend to recede. That is my experience with it anyways.

            1. Which is worse - bankers or terrorists

              But at the same time, I think characterizing C-suite individuals as having a mental illness is simply a cheap way of delegitimizing the other side. This is sort of how the Trumpteam does it.

      3. Annieb

        Excellent! Thank you, DanP, for simply summarizing what seems a large complicated issue. I don’t know how anyone could not be sympathetic to these yellow vests or to Trump voters if these primary complaints are understood. Surely there are opposing political viewpoints, but all people want cultural and economic stability, except those who want open borders and all that it entails.

        1. Which is worse - bankers or terrorists

          “All people want cultural and economic stability”. Do they? With respect, I would object to this statement. I’ve been a real estate developer and finance professional and appreciate that this no longer exists, and would be difficult to return to in an electronically interconnected world, no matter how you restrict the flow of labor and capital.

          I also object to the notion that restricting open borders helps cultural and economic stability. Europe tried regional trading blocs in the 1930s. How did that turn out?

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Europe tried regional trading blocs in the 1930s.

            They also restarted those regional blocs after 1945 too. One became the EU. I guess it turned out well.

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                It went a bit over your head. You raised the specter of World War II in regards to 1930’s trading blocs implying they were responsible for World War II, ignoring your globalized economy is largely the outgrowth Western trading blocs largely established in the wake of 1945. 70 years aint bad.

                1. Which is worse - bankers or terrorists

                  “gnoring your globalized economy is largely the outgrowth Western trading blocs largely established in the wake of 1945.”

                  Largest global exporter is China?

          2. Unna

            Some people thought that cosmopolitan Berlin circa 1929 represented something superior, something which transcended national culture and the backwardness of local community. But most Germans, even apart from their political persuasions, didn’t see it that way. Couple “rootless cosmopolitanism” as it used to be called with severe economic depression plus a government (Heinrich Brüning) which met the Depression with “…an unpopular policy of tight credit and a rollback of all wage and salary increases (internal devaluation).” See Wikipedia, See the Yellow Vests, and, of course, Brüning persisted:

            “Brüning’s measures were implemented in the summer by presidential decree, and this made him extremely unpopular among the lower and middle classes. As unemployment continued to rise, Brüning’s cuts in both wages and public assistance, combined with rising prices and taxes, increased misery among workers and the unemployed.”

            And so you get this sweet but chilling little boy and his song:

            Notice that in the movie, the two “cosmopolitans” depart, presumably for another country leaving the mess for the confused, desperate, and easily misled “deplorables” in the beer garden, people they neither identify with nor care about including the old guy who represents a leftist worker who realizes what’s coming. I wonder if the two guys who left supported Brüning’s “neoliberalism”.

            Not caring about the wellbeing of 90% of the population including the culture and economy which sustain them is a politically risky path to follow. But of course, there’s always the smartest guy in the room who will tell you, this time is different.

            Notice that I’ve confined myself only to your sense of personal self interest.

          3. McGardner

            Restricting open borders means having a nation. The free movement of labor is the antithesis to the nation-state. The yellow vests are sick of paying the gym membership of some Congolese millenial while they skimp for the 1,000€ a month at a call center. They’ve been taken advantage of just like the native Americans have (by that I mean the european decendency who settled and built the country we now call the United States). You take advantage of someone’s virtue and they sense it on a guttural level… they get pissed. White liberal elites are the pawn masters in this game and they’ve got a comeuppance to deal with. Trump is just a probing mission.

      4. KPL

        I would like to redefine Deplorables as those who are in positions of powers and do not act justly (as in the interests of the citizens and do not follow the rule of law) like politicians (taking advantage of citizens – all over the world, bailing out corporate and banks, not sending the banksters to jail, changing the rules at FASB by putting a gun to its head), central bankers (screwing savers, retirees and prudent people) and regulators (who look the other way-MF Global), banksters (NINJA loans) and rating agencies (for rating dog-s*** wrapped in chocolate wrapper as AAA). Sordid lot!

      5. Cal

        There are similarities; Almost all are white working and middle class French who live in the country and must drive cars to exist, therefore most affected by the onerous tax proposals. Also, those taxes would partially go to support immigrants, their economic competition for livable wage jobs and housing.

        The French have more hate for globalists than do the American Trump supporters who are often fundamentalist Revelations Israel Firsters. Imagine if Trump had worked for Goldman Sachs like Macron did/does. Macron’s approval rating is now below 18%.
        Watch Joseph Paul Watson on the Yellow Vests for a great visual review of Macron’s demise.

  2. makedoanmend

    Thanks very much for an informative report on the various strands that constitute the Gilet Jaunes and other groups that might become important in the days and years ahead. One has to admire the average French citizen’s desire to make their views known.

    When an ideology has riven society at its seams and when the muck eventually hits the fan, it’s amazing the amount of competing factions that emerge. The French certainly do have a bewildering array of factions. It will be interesting to see if someone can find the intersections between competing factions. My bet is on a more right wing tilt. If the French are lucky, it will be a grey, dull and conformist. The material distress and disintegration might be shared across a greater number of people. If not…

    Yet still, behind it all, there is a significant proportion of the French public that voted for Marcon and his neoliberal conservative ideas…In many European countries, neoliberal economics is the preferred choice by large proportions of the voting electorate.

    1. Oregoncharles

      24% voted for Macron in the first round. Today his support is below that. His vote in the second round was driven by revulsion for LePen. He’s a good example of the problems with top-two runoffs.

      The list of demands is pretty leftish – certainly progressive, although technically much of it was trying to conserve what they had before.

  3. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Yves.

    It is interesting to see how the neo-liberals overseas are lining up against the gilets jaunes, as per Neera Tanden in the US, the Grauniad (alleging collusion with / manipulation by Putin and allies of Trump yesterday, and Poujadisme and racism fortnight ago) and the Evening Standard (alleging anti-Semitism yesterday). The BBC hinted at all that over the week-end.

    Having come across the protestors, including a third women, near Le Touquet last Saturday, I saw nothing like the neo-liberal framing taking shape.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      I asked my mom this morning—a victim of RussiaRussiaRussia!—what the networks were saying about France.
      the gist:” all about the gas tax…looks right wing, to me…Macron is pretty…”
      she’s mostly msnbc…but cnn, sometimes.
      Kos is the only place for online news, these days.
      This after a lifetime of cajoling to finally get her left enough to vote Bernie in Primaries….
      when I say “Macron is the French Tony Blair/Bill Clinton”…it’s meant as an indictment,lol.
      she hears an endorsement.
      I can’t put it all into the dementia category.

  4. David

    This is not a bad article, but it’s very much a Parisian intellectual view.
    The gilets jaunes are from the provinces, and this is a movement of the provinces against the centralised power of Paris. Quite a lot of the GJ had not been to Paris before, and they headed for the Champs Elysées, because they had heard of it. The provinces/Paris split is much more important than attempts to pigeon-hole the GJs by ethnicity, sex or class. They are, in practice, the ordinary people of France, living in the so-called “peripheral” areas. If they are largely white, it’s because outside the major cities, France is overwhelmingly white, although you might not think that from the media. (There were in fact some non-white faces among them). The Left is in a mess because it does not know how to cope with ordinary people, or any kind of politics which does not have an identity label. The last month or so has seen an extraordinary silence in the comfortable and usually voluble ranks of the grievance politicians. (I leave you to imagine how far a “Collective Rosa Park” (sic) misnamed after a black American woman of the 1950s has any credibility in speaking for the populations of the decaying suburbs.)
    It’s true that the parties have lost the trust of the French people, and so it’s doubtful whether it’s worth picking through the details of their reactions to the GJs. They are being bypassed, and in practice this means that the whole structure of French politics is under question.

    1. Jos Oskam

      Thanks David,

      I am a Dutch person living in rural France and from personal experience I wholeheartedly subscribe to your point of view.
      Every person I talk to has at least some sympathy for the GJ, because Paris is more and more being regarded as a common enemy. A place where arrogant officials that have access to good public transport, decide that inhabitants of the rural areas are to be taxed out of their diesel cars, the same diesel that some years ago was encouraged by those same officials. Where the talk is about the climate and the EU, while these “peasants” have trouble deciding whether to buy bread or fuel. The following conversation I saw on the Internet underlines the problem:

      French population: “Mr president, help us, we can no longer make ends meet, we are sliding into the abyss”
      President: “We shall establish a high council for the climate and put more emphasis on an integrated EU”

      Voila, the disconnect. Some people seem to want to frame the GJ protests as “anti-climate”. This is abject nonsense. The GJ protest originate from the fact that large swathes of the rural population more and more find themselves with their backs against the wall. If Macron were really worried about climate change and wanted to make diesel fuel less attractive compared to petrol, he could have chosen to lower the taxes on petrol instead of increasing those on diesel. By simply making everything more expensive he gives the impression that he is just filling the governments coffers using the climate as an excuse.

      The GJ have by now heard enough excuses for increasing taxation. They are fed up with it, and they are right.

      1. jefemt

        And we have a similar simmering resentment toward Little Versailles on the Potomac, and New Amsterdam on the Hudson…

    2. flora

      Thanks for this information.

      As for the left being a mess because it does not know how to cope with ordinary people or the kind of politics which does not have an identity label: I think identity labels are used by politicians to ‘manage’ the voters in place of listening to the voters. The left or the liberals (not the same) have stopped listening to voters, I think, and believe instead that voters can be ‘managed’ like employees. Whereas, in a democracy it’s the politician who is supposed to be the ’employee’ of their voters ; supposed represent their voters’ points of view.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I believe you might know. Are the gilets jaunes making any association with the “yellow jacket” wasp? [I believe symbols are important in social actions.]

  5. Aumua

    Never before have I seen a riot more amenable to being jumped in front of and called a parade by… just about anyone. Weeks later and having read considerable “analysis” I still don’t really have a fix on what the final form of it will be. Although like the article speculates, I think it’s more likely that it will turn (or be turned) to the right. We’ll see.

  6. Jesper

    One thing which has struck me is how differently “the carrot & the stick” is used depending on who is to be incentivized.

    In this particular case the stick (increased taxes) was intended to be used to reduce the carbon-footprint of the less well-off. At the same time there the carrot of tax-benefits to the rich is intended to reduce the carbon-footprint of the well-off.
    If reducing the carbon-footprint was what was intended then maybe it would have made more sense to replace the older cars with more fuel-efficient ones. The ones driving old cars probably have old cars as they cannot afford to buy anything newer. So therefore the trickle down theory, works as well as always, was put in use by providing benefits for the well-off and then the benefits trickle down once the well-off got subsidized electric/hybrid cars and sold their couple of years old fuel-efficient car to someone less well-off.

    It seems to me to be a common thread now. The poor are often given the stick, the well-off are often given the carrot and it seldom matters what the cause is. Getting to the point where the stick doesn’t work and the unfairness of the system is starting to generate bad feelings.

    1. Stelsewhere

      Just yesterday on this site in the links I read 900 of the world’s largest companies are responsible for (beyond how the earth’s attempt to stabilize itself) 90% of the cause of human-made climate change. The article was well reasoned and evidence based. Which then made the conclusion that there is little individuals alone can do. Which isn’t to say that having the right attitude about living on earth isn’t necessary – reality being it’s the only place humans can live. Our current living arrangements can not be sustained. Reality is what continues to happen when you stop being in it. People are tried, suffering, and see no hope – this has to change. Sane people with sane approaches or the ability, with the people, to find them are needed. Else, it’s a very long and bad emergency as opposed to a viable long emergency.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Or climate change is the excuse for the usual right wing politics of devotion to the rich and punishing everyone else. If Macron cared about climate change, his efforts on foreign deployments and the creation of a EU army would be non-starters.

      1. Another Scott

        I’ve seen a few articles stating that jet fuel wasn’t even included in the repealed tax implemented by Macron.

        What are the excise taxes on jet fuel in France? I’ve tried to search for it, but have mostly found information regarding the VAT and getting refunds. Is it subject to an additional tax? If so, is it taxed at the same rate a diesel and gasoline?

        Since the gilets jaunes came into the news, I’ve been looking at the relative rates for taxes on the various types of fuel. It seems that in the US, based largely upon a 2014 Tax Foundation article on jet fuel taxes, they are lower across the board than taxes on gasoline and especially diesel. This seems typically unfair as jet fuel is not used by working class people for commuting and daily lives, rather much if it is leisure (vacations and personal aircraft) or for business. In fact states are repealing taxes on jet fuel. In addition, if politicians were interested in addressing global warming, wouldn’t they apply it to all fossil fuels rather than only a portion of them?

        Here’s the full report:

        1. rd

          Much of gasoline and diesel taxes is used to pay for road infrastructure. Jet fuel isn’t used on roads, so that historical logic doesn’t apply.

          1. The Rev Kev

            What about the massive costs associated with aircraft like airports, traffic systems, radar coverage for the nation, safety boards, regulatory oversight and all the rest of it? Some one has to pay for the billions that would all cost.

  7. Ignacio

    Thank you for this post. I agree very much with the political vision in the article, particularly the analysis on possible outcomes in next european elections. Left parties do not give the european elections the true importance they have and are completely unable to movilize their bases. This will help xenophobe and europhobe parties. Second, it looks so difficult to coordinate a leftist movement agglutinating the different views it occurs rarely in history. I can recall two times in Spain during the XX century. Why it is so difficult? Not an easy answer. Probably the author is rigth to put some blame on leaders that believe they are the holders of left purity but given recent history of “socialists” embracing neoliberal views this is not surprising

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      I don’t know how much the american(or even more granular, the texan) experience can be compared to what’s going on elsewhere…but the purity thing from the erstwhile Left (and “Left”) looks to be the limiting factor to Lefty electoral success, and/or the ability to enforce demands on the governments.
      Identitarianism has jumped the shark, splitting every possible coalition of the aggrieved into ineffectual…if not yet hyperindividual…factions, containing fewer and fewer people.

      In Texas, I’ve seen this coming for 30 years…”you agree with me on every damned thing…but you eat meat, so Frak You, Fascist!”.
      It feels subtly intentional, since it gels so well with the broader neoliberal cant of hyperindividualism, former citizen as consumer/enterprise.
      I’ve been yelling right back at the Team Blue puritans that we’re gonna need those disaffected white folks who don’t wear sheets…no matter if they still individually harbour a few unreformed quirks and opinions and habits.
      Add in the continuing and ever more shameless defenestration of every interest save that of the wealthy, and what remains of a broad coalition in opposition to rapine looks sketchy, at best.
      It’s a good thing that the Yellow Vests didn’t come out of the parties or even the unions, even with the coordination problems that necessarily entails…but sprang up from the people themselves. harder to steal the thunder initially.
      Ill be interested to see who ends up “speaking for” this chaotic mass of disaffected folks.
      My worry, like everywhere else, it seems, is that the Actual Left will fail to provide an inspiring narrative that is broad enough to appeal to the majority, and that the Right will step into the breach(Five Star Lega coalition comes to mind, since I’ve “been in Eurpoe” all morning).
      In Texas, I’ve all but given up on the demparty…supine, unconscious, distant: (Warning: may cause drowsiness. Use care when operating machinery)
      and don’t really see anything moving in the underbrush that could even attempt to effectively counter the neoliberal order, and it’s crazy Right Wing vanguard.

      1. Ignacio

        But I see that in the US –not yet in Texas, where Beto O’Rourke doesn’t pass the smell test– a wave of leftist politicians that are becoming more popular than any other left politician in recent times. Sanders or AOC are, correct me if I am mistaken, having more impact than that of Ralph Nader years ago.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          yeah..I get that…but the Party hasn’t really moved. Just made a few noises, and flicked a few crumbs…and that had to be dragged out of them….all the while, repeated attempts to jump start the Blue Dogs, and party like it’s 1993.
          I know my little hill country fastness isn’t America—nor even Texas–but I see little movement in any kind of positions of power or influence.
          The paisans are restless…and more people than I’ve ever seen are amenable to things like M4A+…but the “leadership” class remains unmoved.
          almost all the poor people I know are totally apolitical, and disengaged.
          What Dems there are out here are petit bourgeoisie, passively racist and more concerned about paying taxes than what’s happening to their poor neighbors.(arbeit macht frie, etc).
          Beto signs were everywhere….a big difference from the past 20+ years…(and I supported him, too,for senate, as anti-cruz, to break the imaginary wall)…but I’m not surprised that he’s touted(quietly, in corners, so as not to alert the republicans) locally for Pres..
          Such short-sighted shallowness(look! something shiny and content-free!) is par for the course with Texas Dems, imo.

      2. anon

        the purity thing from the erstwhile Left (and “Left”) looks to be the limiting factor to Lefty electoral success

        That Lefty lack of awareness of message perception and limitation is a feature, not a bug. Just a little attention to how to communicate and be understood while engaging the entire audience would have done wonders any number of times over the past decades.

        For an example that may resonate with the NC audience, look at how the environmental movement blew a gigantic opportunity some years ago (and, yes, they had unwanted help). There was a lot of legislative and popular support for those clean air and water acts, surprising to a current day viewer. Somehow the movement got portrayed as a bunch of smelly hippies and destructive anti-war protesters (shades of today’s Gilet Jaune according to some in media) and that caused popular support to decline quickly. What could have been a solid win for the entire citizenry was instead squandered and decades of distress followed.

    2. Lee

      No expert am I, but I have the impression that the respective left wing parties of the various EU nations don’t work much together. It would seem that capital has totally stolen the march in this regard without a corresponding response from labor movements and the progressive left. The radical right at least has nationalism as a powerful, ready-made call to unity within their respective countries. Is there no organized working class internationalism as an antidote to neoliberal globalization? Am I missing something that is obvious to others?

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Lee.

        They don’t do much together, a real pity / missed opportunity.

        I hope Redlife2017 chimes in as we discussed last week.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        In theory there are various cross-national groups, but in truth the left is so fractured, even within countries, its almost impossible to make common cause. The best guide to the various groups that get on is to look at the European Parliament elected groupings (and the various sub-groupings). And of course there are many groups not represented in the Parliament.

        Here in Ireland, even the far left has split into multiple groupsicles, who hate each other far more than they hate capitalism (or so it seems to me sometimes). The narcissism of small differences is a real thing, as anyone who’s attended left wing political meetings will know.

        Although of course there are splits on serious, profound issues – most notably immigration (this alone has nearly split Die Linke in Germany), and the split between nationalist and internationalist movements, such as Sinn Fein/Labour in Ireland. The success of Green movements has also moved a lot of radicalism out of mainstream left circles.

        1. Left in Wisconsin

          This is heresy to many but the fact is that no one on the left has a compelling vision of a way out of the crisis so it’s not surprising that there is not much solidarity among leftists. I would argue it’s only been in the past few years that the left has finally figured out what neoliberalism did and how it did it. But there is still no clear way out. In particular, no one on the left knows whether to try to rebuild social society on the national level or whether the rebuild should focus on a more global or more local level. Also, no one really knows what to do about modern corporations because, unlike in the old industrial days, there is no one among the current left that has any clue about how, practically, modern corporations are or should be run. We have way too many self-branded leaders and not enough engineers and technical workers. Plus climate change. Plus immigration.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Hamilton and Madison weren’t random politicians. They were Revolutionary War vets and surrogate sons of Washington. Like DeGalle, they had standing beyond their position. Madison was in the Virginia House of Delegates. My carpool mom was in the House of Delegates. My next door neighbor (across the alley) was in the House of Delegates. They aren’t James Madison. Both are taller than Madison. The potential crisis for the Articles of Confederation was avoided because these two guys had standing to make that change.

            The Federalist Papers were anonymous, but they weren’t really anonymous. When it comes to the EU, they are all equals. Becoming a president or prime minister can give on standing, but being a EU rep isn’t the same. I’ve always been a EU skeptic and believe the USE (with a better system) is necessary, but how do you create the conditions for this change? The EU was a 50 year process from beginning to the circulation of the Euro.

            Its one thing to become legitimate in France, Poland, or Belgium, but what about all three? Then of course, so much of the nominal left is just neo-liberals masquerading. Given centrism is inherently nihilistic, you can’t expect much out of them.

  8. Steve H.

    The Noiriel link is illuminating. First, it goes beyond John Robb, who helped define open-source conflict, and has been noting the feedback with the continuous news cycle. But the platforms are owned by billionaires who are using the events to undercut unions and political parties.

    “If your business depends on a platform, your business is already dead.”
    “If your movement depends on a platform, your movement is already dead.”

    (I’ve been working on skills for developing resilient local social networks, when bad things happen, it’s a bad idea to depend on outside agents in the short term. That is different than the ‘action at a distance’ that Noiriel is writing on.)

    Also, note the add-on. ‘unions AND political parties.’ Reminds me of, in the ’60’s the white shoes firms only screwed the customer occasionally, then the boiler rooms used the company as a platform to screw the customer as a business model, then the Romney’s screwed the company and left a husk. Clintons cover two stages, first using government as a platform for grift, then in the last election, extracting resources from the party itself, which had been the platform to the grift. But that screwed the local elites who got nuthin for their money, so then the question is, what use is the party? Trump’s hostile takeover really upchucked the applecart.

  9. Frenchguy

    From a macro point of view, things are going splendidly so far. Deficit will be close to 3.5% in 2019, i.e. the max possible without Brussels completely losing it. The “stimulus” is part tax cuts (well, cancelling tax increase actually) and part frontloading social spending that Macron was planning to do anyway (but which, in a sad desire to be responsible, he had planned to do gradually over the years). If it has the bonus effect of getting the Commission to be a bit easier on Italy => resounding success.

    Doesn’t mean the GJ will be satisfied and I won’t try to predict the future but there’s already a lot to like.

    1. Ignacio

      I will consider it resounding success the day that the pact for growth and stability and the procedure for excessive deficit are removed with fanfare

      1. Bugs Bunny

        That would be a day to celebrate indeed. Unfortunately you and I know that there would be some EU-style compromise to get there. Likely double taxation and more bureaucracy to finance, à la Piketty proposal of this week.

    1. makedoanmend

      It’s always satisfying when an ex-businessman and USA Republican takes up the cudgel for the working class stiffs.

      Unz is an interesting character. According to wiki: was against curbs on immigration and also grew up in a Jewish household but is a Holocaust denier or appeaser.

      Also, he campaigned for a higher minimum wage – better he if just campaigned for workers to bargain as a group for their own benefits, but one takes what one can get.

      As Leftist myself, I have no problem with the Gilet Jaunes and nor do of any of my compatriots. Being rural, we understand that Les Gilet Jaunes often have a sort of solidarity built on close, communal relationships, but those relationships have been under stress due to an economic system that continually sucks local wealth into distant office towers of financial institutions situated in large city centres. We aren’t necessarily bedfellows with regards to class as a framework but we don’t necessarily need to denigrate each other. We also know that no matter how much we reach out to other groups, there will be times when it just doesn’t jive. C’est la vie.

      We do, however, have problems with those who claim to be concerned with us working class slobs but who would never really want to belong to our class. Many of these concerned people are the very same people who precisely perpetuate class division so that they can justify their privilege based on capital. (They make the rules, we obey.) For it is class, democracy and the end of inequity that commonly drives us a group. If we should also espouse equity for females, people with different skin pigments, and so on, and this offends those who shout about ‘identity’ politics, so be it.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Unz disputes that he is a Holocaust denier or appeaser. He got in a big row with Mark Ames. Ames is on a jihad against libertarians. Mark does do great research but can overegg the pudding. This is Unz’s side of the story, but I would check the other side.

        I also recall (and Unz may address it in the story above, I didn’t read it in full) but Unz also ran a piece by a prominent Holocaust denier, but (not wanting to follow this fight) I have no idea whether the article mentioned the Holocaust or not.

        1. Carolinian

          I follow Unz’ website and while he definitely publishes some rightwing material that is “out there” he also reposts articles by Patrick Cockburn, Diana Johnstone and others that one would traditionally see on Counterpunch (indeed longtime Counterpunch contributor Johnstone now seems to be a bit of a Counterpunch refugee). The last thing we need are attempts to use guilt by association to try to shut up or shut down websites that some people don’t like. The web is assumed to be a place where intelligent adults can make up their own minds and have all the necessary resources at their fingertips to challenge questionable claims. Those who prefer the establishment party line have the NY Times and Washington Post. The “fake news” claims by the latter are some of the most dangerous bits of propaganda these days in our supposedly free society.

        2. zapster

          Ron Unz is quite disingenuous about it. I’ve followed Unz for some years (he does great stuff on foreign policy) and have seen him write about the “genetic differences” between races and how it justifies their treatment, etc. He’s not stupid, he couches it in in pseudo-science, of course. Still, he opens his site up to some good writers with varied pov, so I don’t reject the site entirely. I just avoid articles with his name on them. :\

          1. Carolinian

            Yes the genetics and IQ stuff is what I was referring to as “out there.”

            However the C.J.Hopkins that kicked off this discussion is good and Unz is one of the few places that now reprint the columns from Hopkins’ website.

      2. David(1)

        Ron Unz didn’t write the article. C.J. Hopkins wrote the article.

        If you’re going to launch an ad hominem attack against someone, you should at least attack the right person.

      3. Massinissa

        No offense, but do you realize other people than Unz have articles on Unz’s site? This is not one of his.

    2. Philip Hardy

      @Haydar Khan

      You pretty much hit it on the head “Leftists feel a sudden overwhelming urge to analyse, categorize, organize, sanitize, and otherwise correct and control them.” That is behaviour you would expect from the Professional and managerial class, and why the working class and poor no longer trust them or identify with the “LEFT”.

      Regards Phil

    1. Ignacio

      This is because you are not reading rigth-wing media which is filled with headlines on France investigating possible Russia involvement

      1. Harry

        Quite. I am curious how the Russians managed to persuade French people in the sticks with poor access to public transport, that they should be unhappy about fuel tax hikes and wealth tax cuts. What secret techniques do you think they used?

    2. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Harry.

      Yesterday’s Guardian did mention Putin and associates of Trump.

      With regard to identity politics, Carol Cadwalladr (aka Carol Codswallop) complained that French women seemed more interested in taking part in gilet jaune protests than in Me Too / Balance Ton Porc protests.

      Again, one hopes Redlife pipes up as we discussed a week ago.

      1. Massinissa

        Gee, its almost like people women have to worry about the base of the bottom of the Maslow pyramid before worrying about workplace harassment. As important as the me too movement is, it has to take a backseat to basic survival, but these establishment types are so stuck in their comfy bourgeois bubbles they cant see that.

      2. The Rev Kev

        I bet that in regional France, that it is the women that have to balance the budget and try to make those centimes last till the end of the month.

    3. Massinissa

      I find it almost amusing how anytime something happens these establishment types blame the Russians.

      Apparently the Russians have the most sophisticated propaganda and disinformation agencies in the history of the planet, that they can steal presidential elections by posting a few hundred memes on Facebook and cause riots in major European countries by somehow forcing said European countries to raise taxes. It’s just so patently ludicrous.

  10. Right Bank Left Wing

    For whatever it’s worth, I was on the grand-boulevards this last Saturday (until the CRS kicked us all out. Forcefully I might add). Everything I saw was unmistakably left if not explicitly anti-capitalist: the signs, slogans, stickers. This included too middle age guys in gilets.

    This week (Act IV), perhaps more than last week (Act III) brought out more activists from Paris and Paris region that would be part of most left wing causes. I think it took a few weeks for many of us to feel this movement out, but more educated progressive Parisens (my milieu) are becoming more receptive. This is encouraging. This is not to say there are not right wing elements in the demos in Paris. Let me say two things that have not been said before 1.) any movement this big and disorganized is bound to have unsavory features (not excusing it, but this is the messy reality). 2.) Singing la marseillaise and waving the French flag do not mean you’re on the extreme right. Nationalism is certainly not my cup of tea (and I’m even French anyway), but this is often the pro-Macron media’s proof and frankly it’s weak (remember Mélenchon was criticized a lot for having these things too during the election).

    The big caveat to all of this is this is in Paris. Certainly there are left leaning departments outside this bubble, but not enough to carry the movement. Gilets-jaune will have progressive support in Paris for the foreseeable future, but the town/country divide might prove too sharp to push this movement into the organized working class run lefty movement I think many of us would want to see.

    1. David

      The Marseillaise is the anthem of the Revolution and the Republic, and the tricolour is the flag of both. Each is political rather than nationalist. Anyone who doesn’t understand this should educate themselves before sounding off.

  11. zagonostra

    Very informative article. Everyone should remember Obama’s video touting his good friend Macron that he made running up to the last French election. The Macron/Rothchild and Obama/Wallstreet presidencies are very similar; can only wish that the OWS reconstitutes itself wearing yellow jackets.

    1. barefoot charley

      Yeck. I’d put this endorsement on Facebook, but it would be considered hate speech.

      Vive le ziggurat Obamatique!

  12. Wukchumni

    I was wearing a yellow vest (not really yellow-not really green) in my visit to 3 stores in the Central Valley yesterday.

    I purposely wore really nice dress-up clothes underneath, so that I wouldn’t be thought of as a construction guy merely shopping.

    I really made an effort for other shoppers to see me, in order to elicit some conversation, but no dice.

    You can buy them @ Home Depot or Lowe’s for less than $10, and i’m not aware of other brick & mortar locations that sell them, and the thought occurred to me after I got home, gee, I wonder if they’ll stop selling them there?

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      they thought you were a private school crossing guard on break.
      we have such environs in Texas, too…where religion and (relative)wealth congregate in complacency.
      North of Austin and all around Houston.
      Those places are home to the forces of the Counterrevolution.
      even when the pain reaches them, they’ll blame somebody besides the bunch they’ve been cheering on for 40 years.
      dinner on the hoof.

      1. Wukchumni

        It’s a very safe district for the GOP, the constituency of Devin Nunes where I was shopping, returned him to office last month by a 5% margin, while just about every other Republican in the state was being shown the door, and don’t let it hit you on the way out.

    2. Eclair

      “I wonder if they’ll stop selling them there?” No, they will probably cage them in, behind a mesh locked door. Like spray paint. Because they can be used for nefarious purposes.

      I think that the ‘gilet jaune’ works in France because every motorist must carry one in the glove compartment of their car. In the US, reflective neon vests are associated with construction and highway workers. My brother-in-law wears one for his job on the county highway department. The guys that are doing the brick work around the new (double-pane!) windows in our condo building wear them. Here, it’s a class thing.

      As an aside, one of the painters who is doing the interior finish work around the new window and I had a conversation about jeans. He was incredulous that ‘dirty jeans’ were priced at $300 per pair. We had a giggle at the local techies who wanted to look ‘working class.’

      1. GERMO

        They’re wondering if this is going to spread…better get yours now, just in case!

        Egypt has restricted the sale of yellow vests ahead of the anniversary of the 2011 uprising, to stop demonstrators copying French protesters.

        Safety equipment dealers can only sell the vests wholesale to verified companies that have gained police approval, retailers said.

        Officials have asked shopkeepers to report anyone trying to buy the clothing.

  13. Steve Ruis

    It is fascinating that the only way the “guvmint” seems to be willing to address global warming/climate change is through taxes that benefit the wealthy. How about a public information campaign, sponsored by the government as to how citizens can help combat it? How about showing some governmental commitment? How about taxing the pollution sources (a carbon tax)? How about some real thinking?

    It seems that we need to dissect all such actions as the fuel tax increase in France to find the real reasons for it before we can even create an opinion. And when we do, I still see neoliberal policies that have been far from successful for any other than the rich. (I wonder who keeps sponsoring them?) In the early twentieth century in the U.S. the rich kept pushing for sales taxes as opposed to income and wealth taxes. In Europe the VATs have already been implemented and the rich still aren’t satisfied. Apparently there is no upper bound upon greed.

    1. JE

      To paraphrase my favorite thinker, The Dude: Cui bono?

      And another great thinker, Upton Sinclair: It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

  14. Lee

    Whenever I here of elements of the left and right coming together in common cause I recall the following passage from Robert Reich’s Aftershock in which he imagines a future U.S government formed from synthesis of left and right.

    The platform of the Independence Party, as well as its message, is clear and uncompromising: zero tolerance of illegal immigrants; a freeze on legal immigration from Latin America, Africa and Asia; increased tariffs on all imports; a ban on American companies moving their operations to another country or outsourcing abroad; a prohibition on “sovereign wealth funds” investing in the United States. America will withdraw from the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund; end all “involvements” in foreign countries; refuse to pay any more interest on our debt to China, essentially defaulting on it; and stop trading with China until China freely floats its currency.
    Profitable companies will be prohibited from laying off workers and cutting payrolls. The federal budget must always be balanced. The Federal Reserve will be abolished.
    Banks will be allowed only to take deposits and make loans. Investment banking will be prohibited. Anyone found to have engaged in insider trading, stock manipulation, or securities fraud will face imprisonment for no less than ten years.

    I will admit priors here. I did for a brief period during my misspent youth harbor Stalinoid tendencies. Perhaps it is some relict portion of my psyche persisting from that time that finds the vision set forth in the above passage strangely alluring. Not in every detail of course, but putting a nice tight collar on capital, jailing bankers, stopping job outsourcing and the like puts me in my happy place.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      Lol. except for the balanced budget thing, and being mean to immigrants, I found myself thinking “well, that doesn’t sound bad…and neither party would endorse any of it”.
      and none of it is amenable to the Big Center Party I see trying to be born, in order to continue the revolt of the rich.
      Red/Brown-ism gets a lot of flack in some circles…and there’s some cause for concern, of course…but dammit. I have more in common with the poor immigrant in the field, and the pseudoracist working in the parts store, than i will ever have with the folks who cry the loudest about such commonalities.
      Class matters…whether pelosi, et alia likes it or not.

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        Same here about Immigrants and Budgets.

        Why cant we allow the free movements of citizens while handicapping Big Business to their particular state?

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          if we treated all humans the same, as far as worker protections, the reasons for bidness to hire “illegal people” in the first place would go away.
          I understand the labor arbitrage shenanigans, but that hinges on them not having any rights.

    2. jrs

      out of the UN because they actually have human rights standards that include economic rights etc.. And well this is the U.S. and we don’t believe in that type of stuff.

      You maybe can’t be fired in such a world, but I’m not sure you can get a job in such an economy either, no deficit spending ever, no matter if it’s great depression 2. So I foresee some people with jobs as secure as government work and others with no prospects to be had in such a world. A real strong divide between have and have nots there too.

  15. Lee

    Whenever I here of elements of the left and right coming together in common cause I recall the following passage from Robert Reich’s Aftershock in which he imagines a future U.S government formed from synthesis of left and right.

    The platform of the Independence Party, as well as its message, is clear and uncompromising: zero tolerance of illegal immigrants; a freeze on legal immigration from Latin America, Africa and Asia; increased tariffs on all imports; a ban on American companies moving their operations to another country or outsourcing abroad; a prohibition on “sovereign wealth funds” investing in the United States. America will withdraw from the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund; end all “involvements” in foreign countries; refuse to pay any more interest on our debt to China, essentially defaulting on it; and stop trading with China until China freely floats its currency.
    Profitable companies will be prohibited from laying off workers and cutting payrolls. The federal budget must always be balanced. The Federal Reserve will be abolished.
    Banks will be allowed only to take deposits and make loans. Investment banking will be prohibited. Anyone found to have engaged in insider trading, stock manipulation, or securities fraud will face imprisonment for no less than ten years.

    I will admit to priors here. I did for a brief period during my misspent youth I was possessed of authoritarian left propensities. Perhaps it is some relict portion of my psyche persisting from that time that finds the vision set forth in the above passage strangely alluring. Not in every detail of course, but the thought of putting a nice tight collar on private capital, jailing bankers, stopping job outsourcing and the like puts me in my happy place.

  16. Terence callachan

    Wow , so many US citizens on here don’t think it is important to keep documents that prove your identity ,safe ? Come on please, it’s so negligent, getting married moving house etc is not a reasonable excuse for not having identity documents.
    If you have lost your documents there is a way to have them replaced so take it but don’t blame the system for your own carelessness.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Wow! What country do you live in? Here in the US even us ordinary citizens carry around a shitload of documents. Every year new documents are required to document far past occurences in life. Carelessness! Carelessness! “…[D]on’t blame the system for your own carelessness!” Do you work as a petty clerk at some podunk DMV … or am I stepping into TROLL dung … UGH!!!!!? My comment verges on ad hominem [I hope it doesn’t cross the line and if so remove it.] and I apologize if that is the case. I’ve been trying to simplify my life and reduce the amount of stuff … including papers and old files .. I have to carry around and keep track of. Complaints about new requirements for “Identification” echo and resonate with my own feelings.

      “… many US citizens on here don’t think it is important to keep documents that prove your identity, safe” …. I worked for the US government and not once but twice they blew my ‘Identity’. Your comment really really pissed me off … … and that isn’t that easy to do at my age.

  17. F.Korning

    The elephant in the room is the abolition of l’impôt sur la fortune (ISF), alka wealth tax. This Macron watered it down to a mere real-estate tax, whereas it used to include all assets, art, investments, and accumulated capital. This very progressive institution is major thread holding together the fabric of society; the social contract by which austerity might have been digestible. Rather than stay center-right, with this neo-liberal excess, Macron has swung all the way dexter. It’s really quite galling that the press has focussed on the diesel duty, which is but the trigger. The ras-le-bol généralisé stems from the affront of preaching belt-tightening for the masses while regressing taxes on the ultra-ultra-rich, which in a post-Picketty world is unconscionable.

  18. rtah100

    There are no taxes on jet fuel. That is why you cannot find them. This is a USian totem / shibboleth, enshrined in the global Chicago (?) aviation treaty.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Its perfectly rationale to do this. Though it might be a treaty, there should be a corresponding carbon footprint tax directed at the wealthy. Macron can’t point to it, or the French government wouldn’t be investigating Russian linked internet trolls.

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