Von Gruppe AK / Aktiv im IZ Dresden
Faschist*innen und Rassist*innen in Deutschland versuchen gerade den massiven und legitimen Protest der Gelbwesten als völkische Bewegung a la “PEGIDA plus Massenmilitanz” darzustellen. Doch der Protest ist durchaus vielschichtiger und nicht sehr einfach zu durchschauen. Wir halten hier einen Text unserer Freund*innen aus Frankreich fest. Diesen Text gibt es gerade nur auf englsich. Es ist ein Versuch die aktuelle Lage zu beschreiben und Kräfteverhältnisse abzuschätzen. Außerdem haben wir noch ein paar weitere Artikel gesammelt die eher analytischer Natur sind und die Ereignisse aus unterschiedlichen Perspektiven beleuchten.
Auf unserer europaweiten Plattform “Beyond Europe” versuchen wir in den nächsten Tagen mehr Texte zur Verfügung zu stellen: https://beyondeurope.net/news/
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Weitere Artikel / Analysen (letztes Update 06.12.2018):
und die englische Übersetzung / English Version:
Der Text aus Frankreich
It is quite important that the non-french speaking comrads understand a bit what’s going in France these last weeks. Here is a try to explain partially what is happening in the Gilets Jaunes (GJ) movement. This “presentation” is for sure incomplete, it’s a complexe situation, different in many places, and it is just impossible to know everything which is happening. Feel free to broadcast this text to people you know (and please apologise us for our broken english).
THE BEGINNING OF THE MOVEMENT: FACEBOOK AND ECONOMICAL BLOCKADES
This movement started to rise against a new tax on fuel that was supposed to be enforced on 1st january. It took the Gilet Jaune (yellow safety jacket) as symbol. Besides the meeting and organisation that took place on the blockades, the movement is organised mostly on Facebook. The first day of action was on 17th november. There were 2.000 blockades all over France, a lot on the paying entrances of the motorways, at the entrances of some commercial centers, and in some refineries and ports. A lot of the people who take part in this movement are blocking and demonstrating for the first time in their life, this movement might be a lot of things but for sure not the “usual” french social movement. During the week, a lot of GJ are working, so there are less blockades, but some places are permanently occupied and sometimes partially blocked since 3 weeks; mostly some round-abouts (it even happend that some people built up huts and say they will spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve there), but also some ports. The 24th november, there was the first demo of the movement, organised only in Paris. A lot of people came from all over France, and the Champ Elysees, the most famous and rich boulevard of the country which leads to the government palace, was full of barricades and people were rioting for nearly 10 hours. It was the same situation in all the streets around. Despite there were millions and millions of euro of damaged after the 1st december riots in Paris and everywhere in France (we’ll speak later about it), the main cost of the movement is due to all the blockades and all the shops which closed last saturday because of the riots. Considering that most of the shops are making 15%-25% of their year profit in the 4 saturdays before Christmas, the cost of the movement is already counted in billions. And it is far to be over.
ABOUT THE 1st DECEMBER DEMONSTRATIONS ALL OVER FRANCE AND THE SUPPORT OF THE PEOPLE
On 1st december, demonstrations were organised not only in Paris but in dozens of cities. Actually, we cannot really call it “demonstrations”, there are no authorisations, no official way, no official organisors, it is rather some calls on facebook to take the streets or to go to some state institutions (the “préfectures” or the city halls mostly). Despite that 65.000 cops were mobilised (who are basically nearly all the cops the french state can mobilise), the situation was totally out of control for the whole day in many place: Paris, Toulouse, Marseille, Dijon, Bordeaux, Le Pouzin, Tours, Le Puy En Velay have seen the biggest riots since 1968 at least, lot of wild demonstrations, hard fights with the cops, burning barricades, sometimes looting. In many other cities, there were also clashes in smaller scale. Even some “prefets” (the regional chief of police who are legally not allowed to make that kind of statement) have contacted some journalists and declared that the situation is some kind of uprising, or even “a prerevolutionnary moment”, and that the government doesn’t understand at all the situation. We can point 2 really surprising aspects of this movement: – According to the pools (we know, we usually don’t give a shit about these craps, but here it has an importance), more than 70% of the french people are supporting the movement. Even the hard clashes of the 1st december haven’t changed this rate of support. This has an importance about the way the media speak about the movement – it can be really funny to look the news or to listen to the radio these days – and also about the way the government consider the situation – Macron had to walk back for the first time, but it seems he did it too late and not enough (we’ll speak about it). – One of the main problem of the government is that the people who are demonstrating and rioting feel they are legitimate to do it and are claiming it. A lot of them say they cannot take anymore the way they are living, working full time and still being poor. They estimate that it’s their right to protest, that it’s written in the constitution, and that there is no question about “authorised demo” or whatever. So when the cops shoot tear gaz and ruppert bullets to them (like they use to do), the people get really mad, some shout at the cops that they pay their salary and that the cops should be ashamed of doing what they do, some other are hardly fighting them back. If they are some organised leftists and fascists groups in the riots, it seems that most of the rioters are “simple” citizens who “get radicalised” in a really really short time.
ABOUT THE FASCISTS
As we mentionned it, some fascists are present in this movement, at least in some places. In Paris, some organised groups, coming for a big part from other regions of France, have been present. On the 1st december, several groups gathered (we don’t know how many of them, might be 200 people) and stayed for the morning around the Arc de Triomphe, taking part in the clashes with the cops and doing their nationalist bullshit (song, commemoration) around the historical monument Arc de Triomphe (we don’t know where they were in the afternoon). There were some fights with some antifascist groups. In some cities, the fascists don’t seem to be part of the movement, and in a few other, they seem to structure the movement. As the “leftists”, they are really a minority in this movement, and in many places the protestors are clearly against racism and fascism. But it is a big issue to not let them to set up or to take an important position in the movement. Once again, any militant antifascist help is welcome. Another thing is the disturbing use of the national flag and anthem which can / could scared us. Quite some people are having some small flags, and the anthem is sometimes sung by the protestors. For sure some GJ see it as a patriotic / nationalist symbol (the front national party is over 20%), but there is also all the french history of revolution which related to that – the anthem is a call to rise up against “tyranny”. More basically a lot of people used the flag for the french victory in the football world cup, it is for them the symbol of a massive national event / party. We have seen some huge bold guys with the flag, that we were suspecting to be nationalist, shouting kind of “black, white, red, yellow, we don’t care, we are all together”; we have met some guys with huge flags who had closed ideas to us. We see also the revolution of 1789 and the decapitation of the king is quite present in the ideas, the talks, the slogans (the main slogan you hear is “Macron démission”). We don’t want to paint a great monocolor picture. There is a nationalist part in the movement, in Lyon it seems the 1th december demo (rather small, +-300 GJ with no riots) was coordinated by the fascist groups (quite active in the city for long time) and in some blockades around, protestors clearly claim to vote for the national front. But there is also something totally opposite in th movement, in St Nazaire, the port is occupied for a long time, the GJ have opened a collective place where they share a daily life (la “maison du peuple”) and have really clear anti-racist positions. We have the impression that a lot of people need to talk and do it. By occuping places for 2-3 weeks, a lot of people have some kind of first political experience. We don’t know where all that will go and fore sure it is not a comfortable “left militant event”, but we think the potentialities of this movement – who will certainly stop or change at some point (soon?) – worth to get into it.
ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT REACTION, THE CLAIMS AND THE REPRESENTATION OF THE GILETS JAUNES
Today (tuesday 4th december), the government announced that they will postpone the application of the tax on fuel (which was the starting point of the movement), that they will freeze the price of gaz and electricity, and another small reform, all that for 6 months. The interior minister asked also the GJ not to demonstrate in Paris on the 8th to spare the merchands. It seems / it is quite sure that the announcement of the government didn’t calm the GJ. For some days, a list of 44 claims is circulating on the social medias, including a tax on the richest, the rise of the minimal wage, and many other reforms that Macron won’t ever accept – but we have no idea if this list is really representing something for a lot of GJ. More interesting, a growing part of the GJ seems not to be anymore in a negociation dynamic – tonight the front page on the site of “Le Monde” (one of the few big newspaper) is a quotation of the blockers in Charleville-Mezieres which says “We have to end up with these politicians who are just working for themselves”. Another big problem for the government (after the legitimacy of the protestors) is that they are no official representants of the movement. The government tried to invite some GJ who became famous because videos of them were seen millions of time but they refused to come, some of them because they wanted that the government make a step first, and all of them because they received a lot of threats by other GJ who refused that they represent them. Even though the government is now really looking for some “responsible” representants of the movement, it seems quite unlucky that they will find some.
SINCE THE 1st DECEMBER ON OTHER FRONTS
On monday 3rd, 11 fuel rafineries of Total were blocked. It seems most of them were unblocked on tuesday. On monday 3rd, nearly 200 secondary schools were partially or totally blocked all over France – while none was blocked on the friday 30th. There were wild demonstrations gathering up to several thousands of high school students, some of then ended up in clashes with cops. At least one hundred high schools were still disrupted tuesday. The high school students have their own demands, linked to the reform of the baccalaureate or access to higher education, but also showed their solidarity with the GJ. In two universities in Paris (Censier and Tolbiac) the students voted on tuesday the blockade of their university to refuse the increase of the school fees for foreign students, and mentionned the GJ movement. The CGT and FO unions of drivers announced that they will go on strike from monday 10th, as did the FNSEA, the (right wing) union of farmers.
THESITUATION IN PARIS FOR THE 8th DECEMBER
In Paris, many big cultural public events have been cancelled, as well as the football match of Paris St Germain (the organisors didn’t want to take a risk or on demand of the government who need all the cops in the streets). Some organisors of the march for climate, planned since a long time, refused the demand of the government and said they will demonstrate, that there should be a connection between social and climate justices. On the 1st, there were 4.500 cops in Paris, a lot of them were in static position, defending the Champ Elysees (all side streets were blocked with huge metal fences and cops) and the state institutions (the assembly, the senate, etc). The ones in the streets used 10.000 grenads in one day (they used 5.000 on 24th november, which was the previous historical record) and they totally lost the control of the situation: dozens of (burning) barricades, smashed shops and burnt cars (the firemen were called for 200 fires). For the people who know Paris, the clashes area was going from Place de l’Etoile to St Lazare and Hotel de Ville, which is just a 5km long area! And it lasted for 8 hours, the morning were some “normal” clashes but the most the day was going on, the most people were there, and the hardest it became. The interior minister said that they will mobilise more cops for the 8th december but it is unclear where they will find them. He also said they will use another tactic to face the “extrem mobility” of the protestors, probably that the cops won’t be so static, the Champ Elysees might be more accessible, but probably there will be bigger units moving in the city. So we don’t really know what to expect for this day, but it would be really surprising that after 2 saturday of massive riots, they would suddenly take back totally and easily the control of the city.
What the fuck are you waiting to come? (and don’t forget your gilet jaune!!)