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#YellowVests: End of the first round?

Since Act III, the moment of the movement’s peak intensity in terms of blockade and riot, the government has deployed its counter-insurgency machinery as never before. It had to bring out the old manuals on the art of waging war on its people as well as those on the art of deceiving them.

Originally published by Rouen Dans La Rue. Translated by Libcom.

Note: Enough is Enough is not organizing any of these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.

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If the government has indeed succeeded to contain Act V, this didn’t happen without weakening (maybe once for all) its “democratic” facade. It is not without repercussions, in terms of loyalty between the people and their rulers, to lie openly, to fake photos and figures, to arrest and wound so many demonstrators or simply to ban them massively from demonstrating.

The use of force

89,000 police officers deployed throughout France two weekends in a row. 9,000 for the city of Paris alone. It should be recalled, this is the first time in its history that France has used armoured vehicles in the capital. In Act IV alone, more than 2,000 people were arrested. A large part of them was arrested preventively for a simple possession of defensive materials such as dust masks. Hundreds of people were injured. Dozens of images will remain engraved, those of plainclothes police officers shooting without respite all over the place at demonstrators and journalists hiding behind a wall, or simply those of torn-off hands.

We cannot help ourselves to see in such violence the assumed political will to intimidate demonstrators, to frighten them, to dissuade them from taking to the streets. However, thousands of people converged on the capital again for Act V. In addition to this vast dissuasion operation, which was widely reported by the media, 50 metro stations were closed, with access to Paris being closed within the walls, literally forbidding thousands of people who came by bus from to simply demonstrate. Those who managed to overcome all barriers of this obstacle course were even confiscated the yellow vests.

Media manipulation

Macron’s speech, although widely criticized, was not without a pacifying effect. On all the headlines, we could read “the SMIC increased by 100 euros”, “major progress achieved”. It is difficult to go back point by point over each of these announcements, but the one over the SMIC is probably the most absurd.

It is indeed the “employment bonus” (and not the SMIC) which has been increased by 100 euros (a large part of this increase was already planned anyway) and it concerns only 25% of the SMICards [minimum-wage earners] (those whose tax household is below a certain quota and who can actually benefit from this bonus). Other tricks were knowingly broadcasted by a number of major channels. It is only a matter of time before all the deceived get upset about, and who knows how.

The sad event that took place in Strasbourg last week was also the subject of indecent manipulation against the movement. In addition to the debates that may have marked the Facebook groups of Yellow Vests around the conspiracy theory, the government has recovered from this affair not only in order to reinforce the usual stigmatization of the Muslim population, to intensify its law-and-order headlong rush but also to place on the Yellow Vests the over-solicitation of the police which may have indirectly favoured such an attack. Thus, in addition to widely spread fear among the demonstrators, they added the guilt of a murderous attack. From then on, they justified in advance the possible violence and all-out beatings by exhausted police officers on those who did to go to protest.

End of the first round?

Although once again the figures for the mobilization of Act V were largely underestimated, it can be said that the movement recorded one of its first decrease in intensity. The approach of the Christmas period coupled with the counter-insurgency techniques we have explained here above inevitably impact the mobilization. The roundabouts try to resist the evacuation threats. It is a phenomenon of asphyxia that has fallen on the Yellow Vest movement whose anger has not dissipated at all. It is undeniable that the latter will continue to rumble underground until its next start (New Year’s Eve?). At the next government misstep, it is not uncertain that the common experience of the Yellow Vests will bring them this time until Macron’s resignation. Everything that has been experienced and continues to be experienced at roundabouts, blockades or riots has enabled a whole people to regain their political capacity, that is, their ability to act that even a RIC [“Référendum d’initiative citoyenne”] cannot contain.

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