The Gilets Jaunes movement on the French territory caught the left, including many anarchists, by surprise. Current discussions in many anarchist and other leftist circles show that this could happen anywhere… Soon?
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Macron’s presidency is the result of a second election round where people could vote between two neoliberals: Macron and the far right AND neoliberal Le Pen. So people who oppose neoliberalism actually didn’t have a choice at all. The Gilets Jaunes movement is also result of the fact that the social democrats, the CGT and other unions betrayed people who resisted the neoliberal loi travail law and other neoliberal reforms during the precidency of the social democrat François Hollande. The betrayal continued when Macron took over the
Palace de la Republic. Many people turned their back on the social democrats and the unions. Disenchanted but still angry. As conditions are getting harder and harder for a growing part of society on the French territory, because of the neoliberal reforms, people noticed very well that Macron slashed the wealth tax in 2017. One of the roots of the Yellow Vests movement lies exactly there. No its not “our” movement, but that doesn’t mean that we have to stay on the sideline or in our “safe spaces” or are we the selfproclaimed avant-garde of a possible future revolution. Well I am not.
Some anarchists and other leftists argue that when the Yellow Vests movement fails the far right could take over, completely ignoring that the far right is rising almost everywhere already and the fact that the approval rates for Le Pen didn’t really change in the polls since the Yellow Vests protests started. In Germany the left are no threat, at least until now, for the neoliberals, but still the fascist AFD was voted into German parliament in 2017. Yes there are risks, like with any social movement that threatens capitalists and their interest, but is that a reason not to fight? This is not a kindergarten, its real life with all its risks and dangers. We should be at the front line and do everything we can to win that fight.
In a piece for Lundi Matin, which seems to be close to the invisible committee, the Deposed agents of the Imaginary Party wrote on December 6: “After the collapse of the Social Democrats signified in France by Macron’s election, we see the collapse of the communists, the (in)soumis (The Insoumis, the “untamed” or “not submissive,” is the populist democratic socialist party of Mélenchon, EIE), the leftists, anarchists, members of the “ultra-left,” and other class struggle professionals or spokespeople of radical chic”. Actually I think the collapse of the social democrats and the radical left took place in the same period and its not really surprising. Neoliberalism has infiltrated all parts of many societies and depoliticized about everything.
Wishy-Washy coalitions of antifascists with the governing social democrats of the SPD on the German territory is a good example for that. While millions of voters turned their back on the SPD, many antifascists and other leftwing circles are still pleading for coalitions with the German social democrats. It was the SPD (together with the Green party) who pushed the neoliberal agenda with their Agenda 2010, the socalled Harz reforms, but that doesn’t seem to bother them. The SPD is part of the federal German government and has a lot of influence in the European Union. Therefore the SPD is one of the actors who are responsible for tens of thousands of drownings in the Mediterranean sea and the suffering of migrants on the Balkanroute. As part of the government, the SPD also did nothing to prevent the sharpening of asylum laws on the German territory. Basically this means that antifascists are willing to sacrify the situation of refugees and other migrants for a wishy-washy coalition with a party that has clear racist policies, just to bring a few more people on the streets. You can find many of this kind of coalitions across the German territory. After years of working together with this party, the rise of the far right did not stop. I wouldn’t go that far that this was because of strategic mistakes that were made, but there should be no doubt about the fact that people who work in this coalitions are part of the system. And more and more people are rejecting the system. So some people are moving deeper and deeper into a dead end street.
Political parties and unions like the CGT were not willing to really fight against neoliberal reforms and so its not a surprise that the Yellow Vests movement bypassed trade unions and political parties. People are fed up with back room negotiations, as a result many of them joined the Yellow Vests movement, started to organize themselves and took the streets. Coming out of a neoliberal society, the movement is confusing a lot of anarchists and leftwing circles. Which is understandable but it should be clear that its not really surprising in a neoliberal and therefore depoliticized society. The far right tried to take advantage of the situation but its influence isn’t that big as many anarchists and other leftists claim. Especially because parts of the movement didn’t want to have anything to do with them and because some comrades on the French territory started to intervene. They brought in their own issues and again and again kicked out fascists from Yellow Vests demonstrations. On the German territory many fascists started to copy the Yellow Vests movement and so many German antifascists automatically rejected the movement. But many of them don’t take the chance to bring in their own issues and kick out the fascists, its all about rejection, leaving the field open for the fascists. Now I don’t think that people can just copy the Yellow Vests movement to other territories, but that doesn’t mean that tension isn’t rising in almost all of these territories. If we don’t want the far right to be seen (because many fascists are actually supporting neoliberalism,like for instance the AFD) as the only ones who oppose the current system (and it will not be enough to block fascist demos), we need to reject and fight the system and bring in our own issues. We don’t need yellow vests to do that, but we need a clear break with the current system and its actors.
I share the opnion of Peter Schaber, who wrote in Lowerclass Magazine on December 5: “The negative reaction to the social protests of the “gilets jaunes” by parts of the German left is not only wrong – it is dangerous.” Schaber describes how tens of thousands of Turkish nationalists participated in the Gezi protests in Turkey. The Turkish nationalists were confronted with a strong left presence during these protests and were not able to hijack the Gezi Park movement. Schaber wrote: “The Turkish and Kurdish left never said: “Nope, we’d rather go home.” The announcement was: “These are our protests.” And clearly: in Gezi Park there were regular fights when nationalists tried to remove Kurdish flags. They won these fights, anchored leftist demands in the overall movement and shaped this movement.” On the French territory similar things are happening with the Yellow Vests at the movement. But still parts of the German left don’t seem to understand that “One can win battles for the hegemony of a movement – or one can lose them” and as we all should know… A battle that wasn’t fought was already lost before it even started.
Winteroak wrote that there are still some liberal anarchists and leftists that don’t support current events on the French territory: “Maybe it is time for these pseudo-leftists to come clean and admit that they are not actually in favour of revolution at all, but are simply using the rhetoric of resistance to bring about some small liberalising tweaks to the status quo? Maybe it is time for them to slink silently back indoors into the soul-sapping sterility of their politically-pure “safe spaces” and let the filthy, raucous, uncontrollable mob in the streets storm and burn down the corrupt citadels of power?”
It might be that the Palace de la Republic will not be stormed but the Yellow Vests movement could be the start of a continuing struggle against capitalism, authoritarian states and the far right. Not just on the French territory. Anachists and other leftwing circles that don’t interfere, or who are just rejecting, either are part of the system or are just lost in the world of Macron and his many many friends across the globe. In both cases they will continue to collapse and make themselves superfluous and meaninglessly.
Winteroak wrote: Long live the revolutionary mob! I couldn’t have said it better.
Riot Turtle, December 13 (13/12)
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