Yellow Vests Rise Against Neo-Liberal ‘King’ Macron

For centuries, the “left” hoped popular movements would lead to changes for the better. Today, many leftists seem terrified of popular movements for change, convinced “populism” must lead to “fascism.” But it needn’t be so, says Diana Johnstone.

By Diana Johnstone
in Paris

Every automobile in France is supposed to be equipped with a yellow vest. This is so that in case of accident or breakdown on a highway, the driver can put it on to ensure visibility and avoid getting run over.

So the idea of wearing your yellow vest to demonstrate against unpopular government measures caught on quickly. The costume was at hand and didn’t have to be provided by Soros for some more or less manufactured “color revolution”. The symbolism was fitting: in case of socio-economic emergency, show that you don’t want to be run over.

As everybody knows, what set off the protest movement was yet another rise in gasoline taxes. But it was immediately clear that much more was involved. The gasoline tax was the last straw in a long series of measures favoring the rich at the expense of the majority of the population. That is why the movement achieved almost instant popularity and support.

The Voices of the People

Against the voice of the people. (Guillaume Souvant/AFP/Getty Images)

The Yellow Vests held their first demonstrations on Saturday, November 17, on the Champs-Elysées in Paris. It was totally unlike the usual trade union demonstrations, well organized to march down the boulevard between the Place de la République and the Place de la Bastille, or the other way around, carrying banners and listening to speeches from leaders at the end. The Gilets Jaunes just came, with no organization, no leaders to tell them where to go or to harangue the crowd. They were just there, in the yellow vests, angry and ready to explain their anger to any sympathetic listener.

Briefly, the message was this: we can’t make ends meet. The cost of living keeps going up, and our incomes keep going down. We just can’t take it any more. The government must stop, think and change course.

But so far, the reaction of the government was to send police to spray torrents of tear gas on the crowd, apparently to keep the people at a distance from the nearby Presidential residence, the Elysee Palace. President Macron was somewhere else, apparently considering himself above and beyond it all.

But those who were listening could learn a lot about the state of France today. Especially in the small towns and rural areas, where many protesters came from. Things are much worse than officials and media in Paris have let on.

There were young women who were working seven days a week and despaired of having enough money to feed and clothe their children.

People were angry but ready to explain very clearly the economic issues.

Colette, age 83, doesn’t own a car, but explained to whoever would listen that the steep raise of gasoline prices would also hurt people who don’t drive, by affecting prices of food and other necessities. She had done the calculations and figured it would cost a retired person 80 euros per month.

“Macron didn’t run on the promise to freeze pensions”, recalled a Yellow Vest, but that is what he has done, along with increasing solidarity taxes on pensioners.

(Guillaume Souvant/AFP/Getty Images)

A significant and recurring complaint concerned the matter of health care. France has long had the best public health program in the world, but this is being steadily undermined to meet the primary need of capital: profit. In the past few years, there has been a growing government campaign to encourage, and finally to oblige people to subscribe to a “mutuelle”, that is, a private health insurance, ostensibly to fill “the gaps” not covered by France’s universal health coverage. The “gaps” can be the 15% that is not covered for ordinary illnesses (grave illnesses are covered 100%), or for medicines taken off the “covered” list, or for dental work, among other things. The “gaps” to fill keep expanding, along with the cost of subscribing to the mutuelle. In reality, this program, sold to the public as modernizing improvement, is a gradual move toward privatization of health care. It is a sneaky method of opening the whole field of public health to international financial capital investment. This gambit has not fooled ordinary people and is high on the list of complaints by the Gilets Jaunes.

The degradation of care in the public hospitals is another complaint. There are fewer and fewer hospitals in rural areas, and one must “wait long enough to die” emergency rooms. Those who can afford it are turning to private hospitals. But most can’t. Nurses are overworked and underpaid. When one hears what nurses have to endure, one is reminded that this is indeed a noble profession.

In all this I was reminded of a young woman we met at a public picnic in southwestern France last summer. She cares for elderly people who live at home alone in rural areas, driving from one to another, to feed them, bathe them, offer a moment of cheerful company and understanding. She loves her vocation, loves helping old people, although it barely allows her to make a living. She will be among those who will have to pay more to get from one patient to the next.

People pay taxes willingly when they are getting something for it. But not when the things they are used to are being taken away. The tax evaders are the super-rich and the big corporations with their batteries of lawyers and safe havens, or intruders like Amazon and Google, but ordinary French people have been relatively disciplined in paying taxes in return for excellent public services: optimum health care, first class public transport, rapid and efficient postal service, free university education. But all that is under assault from the reign of financial capital called “neo-liberalism” here. In rural areas, more and more post offices, schools and hospitals are shut down, unprofitable train service is discontinued as “free competition” is introduced following European Union directives – measures which oblige people to drive their cars more than ever. Especially when huge shopping centers drain small towns of their traditional shops.

Incoherent Energy Policies

And the tax announced by the government – an additional 6.6 cents per liter for diesel and an additional 2.9 centers per liter of gasoline – are only the first steps in a series of planned increases over the next years. The measures are supposed to incite people to drive less or even better, to scrap their old vehicles and buy nice new electric cars.

(Alain Pitton/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

More and more “governance” is an exercise in social engineering by technocrats who know what is best. This particular exercise goes directly opposite to an earlier government measure of social engineering which used economic incitements to get people to buy cars running on diesel. Now the government has changed its mind. Over half of personal vehicles still run on diesel, although the percentage has been dropping. Now their owners are told to go buy an electric car instead. But people living on the edge simply can’t afford the switch.

Besides, the energy policy is incoherent. In theory, the “green” economy includes shutting down France’s many nuclear power plants. Without them, where would the electricity come from to run the electric cars? And nuclear power is “clean”, no CO2. So what is going on? People wonder.

The most promising alternative sources of energy in France are the strong tides along northern coasts. But last July, the Tidal Energies project on the Normandy coast was suddenly dropped because it wasn’t profitable – not enough customers. This is symptomatic of what is wrong with the current government. Major new industrial projects are almost never profitable at first, which is why they need government support and subsidies to get going, with a view to the future. Such projects were supported under de Gaulle, raising France to the status of major industrial power, and providing unprecedented prosperity for the population as a whole. But the Macron government is not investing in the future nor doing anything to preserve industries that remain. The key French energy corporation Alstom was sold to General Electric under his watch.

Indeed, it is perfectly hypocritical to call the French gas tax an “ecotax” since the returns from a genuine ecotax would be invested to develop clean energies – such as tidal power plants. Rather, the benefits are earmarked to balance the budget, that is, to serve the government debt. The Macronian gas tax is just another austerity measure – along with cutting back public services and “selling the family jewels”, that is, selling potential money-makers like Alstom, port facilities and the Paris airports.

The Government Misses the Point

(Alain Pitton/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Initial government responses showed that they weren’t listening. They dipped into their pool of clichés to denigrate something they didn’t want to bother to understand.

President Macron’s first reaction was to guilt-trip the protesters by invoking the globalists’ most powerful argument for imposing unpopular measures: global warming. Whatever small complaints people may have, he indicated, that is nothing compared to the future of the planet.

This did not impress people who, yes, have heard all about climate change and care as much as anyone for the environment, but who are obliged to retort: “I’m more worried about the end of the month than about the end of the world.”

After the second Yellow Vest Saturday, November 25, which saw more demonstrators and more tear gas, the Minister in charge of the budget, Gérard Darmanin, declared that what had demonstrated on the Champs-Elysée was “la peste brune”, the brown plague, meaning fascists. (For those who enjoy excoriating the French as racist, it should be noted that Darmanin is of Algerian working class origins). This remark caused an uproar of indignation that revealed just how great is public sympathy for the movement – over 70% approval by latest polls, even after uncontrolled vandalism. Macron’s Minister of the Interior, Christophe Castaner, was obliged to declare that government communication had been badly managed. Of course, that is the familiar technocratic excuse: we are always right, but it is all a matter of our “communication”, not of the facts on the ground.

Maybe I have missed something, but of the many interviews I have listened to, I have not heard one word that would fall into the categories of “far right”, much less “fascism” – or even that indicated any particular preference in regard to political parties. These people are wholly concerned with concrete practical issues. Not a whiff of ideology – remarkable in Paris!

Some people ignorant of French history and eager to exhibit their leftist purism have suggested that the Yellow Vests are dangerously nationalistic because they occasionally wave French flags and sing La Marseillaise. That simply means that they are French. Historically, the French left is patriotic, especially when it is revolting against the aristocrats and the rich or during the Nazi Occupation. ( The exception was the student uprising of May 1968, which was not a revolt of the poor but a revolt in a time of prosperity in favor of greater personal freedom: “it is forbidden to forbid”. The May ’68 generation has turned out to be the most anti-French generation in history, for reasons that can’t be dealt with here. To some extent, the Yellow Vests mark a return of the people after half a century of scorn from the liberal intelligentsia.) It is just a way of saying, We are the people, we do the work, and you must listen to our grievances. To be bad, “nationalism” must be aggressive toward other nations. This movement is not attacking anybody, it is strictly staying home.

The Weakness of Macron

The Yellow Vests have made clear to the whole world that Emmanuel Macron was an artificial product sold to the electorate by an extraordinary media campaign.

Macron was the rabbit magically pulled out of a top hat, sponsored by what must be called the French oligarchy. After catching the eye of established king-maker Jacques Attali, the young Macron was given a stint at the Rothschild bank where he could quickly gain a small fortune, ensuring his class loyalty to his sponsors. Media saturation and the scare campaign against “fascist” Marine LePen (who moreover flubbed her major debate) put Macron in office. He had met his wife when she was teaching his theater class, and now he gets to play President.

(Charles Platiau/AFP/Getty)

The mission assigned to him by his sponsors was clear. He must carry through more vigorously the “reforms” (austerity measures) already undertaken by previous governments, which had often dawdled at hastening the decline of the social State.

And beyond that, Macron was supposed to “save Europe”. Saving Europe means saving the European Union from the quagmire in which it finds itself.

This is why cutting expenses and balancing the budget is his obsession. Because that’s what he was chosen to do by the oligarchy that sponsored his candidacy. He was chosen by the financial oligarchy above all to save the European Union from threatening disintegration caused by the euro. The treaties establishing the EU and above all the common currency, the euro, have created an imbalance between member states that is unsustainable. The irony is that previous French governments, starting with Mitterrand, are largely responsible for this state of affairs. In a desperate and technically ill-examined effort to keep newly unified Germany from becoming the dominant power in Europe, the French insisted on binding Germany to France by a common currency. Reluctantly, the Germans agreed to the euro – but only on German terms. The result is that Germany has become the unwilling creditor of equally unwilling EU member states, Italy, Spain, Portugal and of course, ruined Greece. The financial gap between Germany and its southern neighbors keeps expanding, which causes ill will on all sides.

Germany doesn’t want to share economic power with states it considers irresponsible spendthrifts. So Macron’s mission is to show Germany that France, despite its flagging economy, is “responsible”, by squeezing the population in order to pay interest on the debt. Macron’s idea is that the politicians in Berlin and the bankers in Frankfurt will be so impressed that they will turn around and say, well done Emmanuel, we are ready to throw our wealth into a common pot for the benefit of all 27 Member States. And that is why Macron will stop at nothing to balance the budget, to make the Germans love him.

So far, the Macron magic is not working on the Germans, and it’s driving his own people into the streets.

Or are they his own people? Does Macron really care about his run of the mill compatriots who just work for a living? The consensus is that he does not.

(Alain Pitton/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Macron is losing the support both of the people in the streets and the oligarchs who sponsored him. He is not getting the job done.

Macron’s rabbit-out-of-the hat political ascension leaves him with little legitimacy, once the glow of glossy magazine covers wears off. With help from his friends, Macron invented his own party, La République en Marche, which doesn’t mean much of anything but suggested action. He peopled his party with individuals from “civil society”, often medium entrepreneurs with no political experience, plus a few defectors from either the Socialist or the Republican Parties, to occupy the most important government posts.

The only well-known recruit from “civil society” was the popular environmental activist, Nicolas Hulot, who was given the post of Minister of Environment, but who abruptly resigned in a radio announcement last August, citing frustration.

Macron’s strongest supporter from the political class was Gérard Collomb, Socialist Mayor of Lyons, who was given the top cabinet post of Minister of Interior, in charge of national police. But shortly after Hulot left, Collomb said he was leaving too, to go back to Lyons. Macron entreated him to stay on, but on October 3, Collomb went ahead and resigned, with a stunning statement referring to “immense problems” facing his successor. In the “difficult neighborhoods” in the suburbs of major cities, he said, the situation is “very much degraded : it’s the law of the jungle that rules, drug dealers and radical Islamists have taken the place of the Republic.” Such suburbs need to be “reconquered”.

After such a job description, Macron was at a loss to recruit a new Interior Minister. He groped around and came up with a crony he had chosen to head his party, ex-Socialist Christophe Castaner. With a degree in criminology, Castaner’s main experience qualifying him to head the national police is his close connection, back in his youth in the 1970s, with a Marseilles Mafioso, apparently due to his penchant for playing poker and drinking whiskey in illegal dens.

Saturday, November 17, demonstrators were peaceful, but resented the heavy teargas attacks. Saturday November 25, things got a big rougher, and on Saturday December 1st, all hell broke loose. With no leaders and no service d’ordre (militants assigned to protect the demonstrators from attacks, provocations and infiltration), it was inevitable that casseurs (smashers) got into the act and started smashing things, looting shops and setting fires to trash cans, cars and even buildings. Not only in Paris, but all over France: from Marseilles to Brest, from Toulouse to Strasbourg. In the remote town of Puy en Velay, known for its chapel perched on a rock and its traditional lace-making, the Prefecture (national government authority) was set on fire. Tourist arrivals are cancelled and fancy restaurants are empty and department stores fear for their Christmas windows. The economic damages are enormous.

And yet, support for the Yellow Vests remains high, probably because people are able to distinguish between those grieved citizens and the vandals who love to wreak destruction for its own sake.

On Monday, there were suddenly fresh riots in the troubled suburbs that Collomb warned about as he retreated to Lyons. This was a new front for the national police, whose representatives let it be known that all this was getting to be much too much for them to cope with. Announcing a state of emergency is not likely to solve anything.

Macron is a bubble that has burst. The legitimacy of his authority is very much in question. Yet he was elected in 2017 for a five year term, and his party holds a large majority in parliament that makes his destitution almost impossible.

So what next? Despite having been sidelined by Macron’s electoral victory in 2017, politicians of all hews are trying to recuperate the movement – but discreetly, because the Gilets Jaunes have made clear their distrust of all politicians. This is not a movement that seeks to take power. It simply seeks redress of its grievances. The government should have listened in the first place, accepted discussions and compromise. This gets more difficult as time goes on, but nothing is impossible.

For some two or three hundred years, people one could call “left” hoped that popular movements would lead to changes for the better. Today, many leftists seem terrified of popular movements for change, convinced “populism” must lead to “fascism”. This attitude is one of many factors indicating that the changes ahead will not be led by the left as it exists today. Those who fear change will not be there to help make it happen. But change is inevitable and it need not be for the worse.

Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western DelusionsHer new book is Queen of Chaos: the Misadventures of Hillary Clinton. The memoirs of Diana Johnstone’s father Paul H. Johnstone, From MAD to Madness, was published by Clarity Press, with her commentary. She can be reached at [email protected] .

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152 comments for “Yellow Vests Rise Against Neo-Liberal ‘King’ Macron

  1. Daniel Scheinhaus
    December 19, 2018 at 01:52

    This was the best article I’ve seen about the Gilets Jaune. It makes clear why so many of the French people support them.

  2. tony
    December 12, 2018 at 10:00
  3. December 12, 2018 at 02:35

    Why are progressive people cheering because the Yellow Vests are burning down the house over a fuel tax? What about global warming? Isn’t this hypocrisy?

    First, the protests aren’t over the fuel tax any more than Colin Kaepernick is about the National Anthem. Macron removed the tax and the French are still rioting. The Yellow Vests are involved in a class struggle with the neoliberal bankers Macron represents. There are all sorts of issues, including pensions and overall economic parasitism by the wealthy who get the usual tax scams.

    Second, your Toyota Prius isn’t going to fix climate change and neither will carbon taxes on citizens. 100 corporations are responsible for 70% of emissions. Which means, surprise! The corporate bastards tricked citizens into believing it’s our fault and our responsibility to fix this. It’s not that the people need to suffer more, it’s on them to allow the technological move away from fossil fuel dependence.

    Third, unless the mendacity and cupidity of the oligarchs represented by the likes of Macron, May, and Trump (FUKUS) is addressed, there will be riots worldwide as global warming and financial inequality spiral into a crocodile death roll for humanity as a whole. Seas will boil and frogs rain from the sky.

    Any questions?

    • Tom Kath
      December 13, 2018 at 00:39

      Yes, certainly we as individuals have been conned into fighting climate change. I admit it is only a guide to focus on who benefits and who promotes it. When anyone is dismissed as a “heretic” non believer, it is obvious that they want to PREVENT thinking and debate rather than win or convince.
      “Where everyone thinks the same, nobody thinks very much.”

      • Daniel Scheinhaus
        December 19, 2018 at 02:06

        Tom, where do you get the notion that we’ve been “conned” into supporting climate change? As the article makes clear, although not clear enough for you, the Gilets Jaune are not against fighting climate change. They are against the burdens of fighting climate change being placed unequally upon them, the people who are least able to bear that burden. It’s obvious that the .01% who make up the investment class must stop financing the coal, oil and gas industries and move with full force of finance on solar, wind, battery and the other new and promising technologies. It’s also they who must provide the needed taxes for the infrastructure to make those changes possible.

  4. Louis Sparks
    December 11, 2018 at 09:28

    The Bankers’ Bitch sneaks into your home to steal your food and bring it to his masters. The police protect it.

  5. December 9, 2018 at 22:36

    Excellent, the most thorough look and informative article on this subject. So many won’t want to hear this, but the ‘champagne left’ is a disaster to the world, and to the common people.

    • Antonio Costa
      December 11, 2018 at 16:30

      Most will read this as the “left” since champagne left is a fiction. When did Macron become a “leftist” of any sort?

      Sounds like this article has spurred a lot of climate denial comments.

      So the riots are about elitists pushing a hoax that’s costing workers in Euros. When the floods devour one by one poor island nation after another, swallow coastlines (all in process), what will the French rioters call it, “their misfortune?”

  6. Spencer
    December 9, 2018 at 20:47

    The French people are fed-up with the systems–all of them–capitalism-socialism etc.–as are other people–they want to be in charge of their own lives—like democracy for all–in the work place and elsewhere–people want to participate in decisions that effect their lives and their children`s lives.

  7. December 9, 2018 at 17:23

    Canada and France have a few things in common. Both have weak ineffectual neoliberal leaders. Both countries are racing to the bottom. Canadians though are not nearly as aware of their plight as are the French. It has yet to be established whether we even care.

  8. Antonio Costa
    December 9, 2018 at 15:44

    Let me be clear I have always found Diana Johnstone to be a great intellect, and a wonderful pushback to all things neoliberal/imperial.

    However it appears this is overthinking a situation. The French as Ms. Johnstone knows all too well, are always ready to protest, even violent protest over things that Americans have just thrown their hands up over because the powerful win, even if they have to erase it from the MSM as if it never happened.

    The threats we face are wildly huge, dwarfing all imperial elitist power (global warming) which will condemn us all, and with the human species, the number one invasive species on the planet, and our nuclear madness, these protests will take us no where. Think about it, “cheaper” PETRO, the ultimate in human avarice. Yes the poor suffer, but in some respects far less than those who think they deserve more of the Earth’s gifts.

    • Anne Jaclard
      December 10, 2018 at 00:22

      But the fuel taxes were never meant as environmental measures. That was a smoke screen excuse used to push through taxes on the poor after they were removed from the 1% (Solidarity Tax on Wealth). Saturday’s marches saw a convergence of the eco activist groups fighting for action at COP24 and the Yellow Vests, with the leader of Friends of the Earth France arrested. Ecologists should not see this movement as their enemy!

      • December 10, 2018 at 12:20

        Great comment. The gas taxes are merely the latest slap in the face to the working poor. They might prove to be the tipping point that shows the masses that the neoliberals NEVER have their interests at heart. It is a cruel hoax that must be exposed.

    • Antonio Costa
      December 10, 2018 at 10:19

      Not convinced it’s a sustained movement, and certainly not an enemy.

      Whether this is a revolt that fizzles or spreads remains to be seen. That it changes anything beyond a pushback on a tax is also in doubt.

      I would love to see this as a movement that effectively alters the imperial course. But as a reactionary movement with no foundation I don’t see it….yet.

  9. Quentin
    December 9, 2018 at 07:43

    When the French started protesting I became curious. I couldn’t understand the gas tax causing that degree of violence. I was correct my research showed that people making less than 10,000 Euros pay no tax on income. This is poverty level earnings in France. The 2019 tax increase every level of income with one exception by 14%. The highest level of income will only increase by 4%. The poverty stricken Frenchman making less than 10,000 Euros 0 tax rate will increase to 14%. If they did that to me I would be throwing bricks also. Poverty-stricken that immediately reduce your income by 14% that’s ridiculous while increasing the rich by only 4%. the last person that said let them eat cake lost their head.

  10. Rudy62
    December 9, 2018 at 06:17

    I can not believe that everybody here is buying the bull about the climate hoax, which started with the biggest con artist ever mr. Al Gore, who became very rich with his propaganda lies and which are now used by governments to tax people like crazy and use it for everything but the climate.
    Please wake up people, it is a lie!

    • December 9, 2018 at 12:08

      What’s entertaining is Donald Trump believes in global warming religiously when it comes to his property, so he buys insurance and builds levies and sea walls.

      But when it comes to your property, he doesn’t give a damn. He makes money off the Koch bros and Saudi oil peddlers telling you he doesn’t believe in it – ha ha!

      • juggernaut
        December 11, 2018 at 08:59

        Read Rosalie Bertell, open society, and weep.
        Your bollocks oh so green agenda is a fraud of planetary proportions and of a Mengele mindset.
        You think you’re on the right side of history? Don’t waste your time here then, and go try your “influence” on Raytheon.
        It seems you’re quite busy yourselves, though, peddling things..: otpor scripts, smartphones, bullshit economics, harvested organs..

      • Antonio Costa
        December 11, 2018 at 14:51

        Silly. Protecting yourself from massive climate change as if a wall or gate or mote or whatever will be protection from the collapse of the eco-system. Not funny in the least.

      • O Society
        December 12, 2018 at 04:25

        Harvested organs? Is juggernot a bot? WTF is it talking about?

        Have a kidney. Here, have two with a hotel room and a bathtub full of ice.

        Not that you’re alive or anything…

  11. willie
    December 8, 2018 at 17:02

    This is so far the best explanation of the “gilets jaunes” phenomenon to an international public that I read.Thank you very much!
    I’m living in France and confirm that the background as sketched by Mme Johnstone is correct, and very well put.

  12. Nop
    December 8, 2018 at 14:31

    Much of what claims to be ‘the left’ or ‘progressive’ these days seems to be rather obviously captured by the deep state, corporations, or the Military Industrial Complex.

  13. elmerfudzie
    December 8, 2018 at 10:28

    I’m reposting my commentary here from another site.. This entire dynamic mirrors what will eventually become a USA problem. Riot may be the only alternative and answer to the slow violence of an incremental impoverishment of the masses, it’s various daily stresses both physical and mental. This poisoned atmosphere devours stable family life and individual longevity, multiplies vices, illnesses and addictions, promotes fascist ideals and in the end destroys the fabric of society itself. The Italians know all about such “austerity” policies, the rise of Mussolini, union busting, arming (weaponing) one side and not the other, such as arming the rightists against the left. In this particular case, the police vs an unarmed citizenry. Political issues are many, the most egregious of which is the suggestion of military intervention on domestic soil (visit the UNZ website). In the USA, the Posse’ Comitatus Act of 1878 forbids such an intervention but the National Defense Authorization Act repeals this restriction, coupled with many attempts to seize guns and ownership under the guise that the gun is the problem when , after all, a gun doesn’t kill, people do. During an armed insurrection, be it a just motive or not, this general discontent(s) and movement will precipitate a constitutional crisis within the USA, possibly France as well. Further, our linguistic, religious and democratic ideals are closely tied to our brothers and sisters in France. We must all, here in the Western Occident, take up the call, don the Yellow Jacket, show a proletarian disdain for the slow violence of Goldman Sachs austerity, who’s advocate and leader now, undeservingly has the title, President of France. Liberty, Equality, Fraternity! Viva La France!

    • Michael A.
      December 8, 2018 at 18:27

      Quite insightful. If you haven’t already, I think you would greatly appreciate the work of Chris Hedges on anomie, ironically based on the work of French sociologist Emile Durkheim. One of Hedges’ most recent speeches on this subject is, in fact (in my opinion), his best:

      • elmerfudzie
        December 8, 2018 at 19:27

        Thanks to Michael A, Got It!, will do, from elmerfudzie

  14. December 8, 2018 at 09:54

    Not seeing “political parties” and “ideology” as such in these riots. Looks like straight up class struggle. Perhaps it will spread to the rest o the world. It’s about time for some revolution. Less talk and more action. People are tired of May and Trump and Macron. These so-called leaders are simply thugs and hitmen working for the filthy rich.

    • Michael A.
      December 8, 2018 at 18:51

      ALL politicians have devotion to their donors, especially the neoliberals, starting prominently with Clinton/Gore, then Obama/Biden, and of course, Hillary Clinton. The brilliant late comic George Carlin said it best: “Forget the politicians; they’re irrelevant. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice—you don’t! You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything.” The unspeakably ugly truth is that the oligarchy has ruled this country since at least the 1963 coup d’etat when it murdered a sitting president, JFK, who dared to move against the military industrial complex and deep state by limiting their power. No president since has made the same mistake.

      Carlin Video:

    • Kc
      December 8, 2018 at 21:31

      It’s not so much as the filthy rich as the greedy, self centered filthy rich. Plenty of people in Silicon Valley following dreams became filthy rich.

      Where are our thought leaders?

      Hollywood, media, hello?

      We are intellectually and morally bankrupt and without critical consciousness. Chug the koolaide and claim your side.

      We are screwed.

    • O Society
      December 9, 2018 at 10:15

      Oh, it’s clear Donald Trump is in a league of his own when it comes to greed and corruption and graft. Not sure why any of the voters believed a billionaire was going to help them out in any way. Trump doesn’t know any regular people, much less care about them.

      PT Barnum and so on.

      The question is when will the American people see what’s going on in France and begin to riot and toss bricks and cars themselves? Surely they’ve had enough of Trump’s scam by now. Trump looks out for his oligarchs, Robert Mercer at Breitbart, fellow casino gangster Sheldon Adelson, and the “there’s no such thing as global warming” Koch brothers. It’s not a secret.

      • Michael A.
        December 10, 2018 at 09:48

        @O Society — You make the same mistake that so many neoliberals make: Myopia about Trump. This country was bought and sold at least fifty years ago (e.g., the 1963 coup d’etat), long, long before Trump. There is nothing, absolutely nothing special or different or worse about Trump (in fact, so long as he doesn’t start any wars, he’s actually better!). He is a disgusting garbage person, just like every other garbage person in a position of power—that serial sexual predator Bill Clinton, that insatiable megalomaniac Hillary Clinton, that glib above-it-all snake-oil salesman Barack Obama, and so on, and so on, and so on.

        The only (minor) difference may be that while Trump is a sociopath, the rest are usually psychopaths and thus are better at concealing their reptilian ugliness. They’re all predators. But the thing is, it doesn’t matter: Trump doesn’t matter…the politicians don’t matter. They don’t run the show; they don’t pull the levers of power. The shadow government of oligarchs do (e.g., C.I.A.; industrial military complex; Billionaires; war profiteers; etc.). The politicians are just the distracting window dressing so that you don’t see the butcher shop behind it. Given how easily you can educate yourself on this issue, if you continue to insist that Trump is the problem or is somehow worse or special, then you’re just being willfully ignorant.

        • O Society
          December 10, 2018 at 20:21

          Trump is a celebrity reality TV game show host and WWF wrassling Hall of Famer. We’re talking a Snookie and the Undertaker level con game here. About the only person I can think of with the potential to be a more incompetent president than Donald Trump is Kim Kardashian. Maybe Adam Sandler.

          Who’d you say is being willfully ignorant again?

          • Michael A.
            December 11, 2018 at 10:52

            @O Society — Thank you for confirming, if by refusing to deny, that you ARE a neoliberal. To answer your question, I’d still say YOU are willfully ignorant (and myopic…don’t forget I also said myopic). You’re pretending Trump’s competence is relevant; it isn’t—what’s relevant is his demagoguery (maybe you’d prefer a competent demagogue like Mike Pence with his civilized fascist Christian ideology?). You’re pretending Trump is an aberration; he’s not—he’s an inevitable eventuality of neoliberalism. You’re pretending Trump’s attributes and ire are singular; they’re not—they represents nearly 60% of the 2016 general election electoral vote and nearly 50% of the popular vote (that’s only 62,984,828 Americans, but who’s counting?). But perhaps most of all, you’re pretending politicians matter at all; they don’t—the oligarchs do.

            But you know what, you are who you are: a neoliberal. The skim-the-surface, low-hanging-fruit, race-to-the-bottom neoliberal mentality is predisposed to seeing only an inch in front of its own face because it prioritizes pragmatism (read convenience) above all else, namely, principledness. I admit, it’s more convenient to be myopic and remain willfully ignorant by simply knocking down an ugly strawman instead of substantively grappling with the diseased system that vomited him up in the first place.

          • O Society
            December 11, 2018 at 19:21

            Not confirming or denying anything. I am not on trial here.

            You realize Donald Trump has the capability of blowing up the earth and everything on it all at once with nuclear weapons.

            The guys who build the nukes say we are closer to nuclear Armageddon than we have been at any other time in history.


            And Trump’s qualifications to be commander in chief button pusher amount to “I hit Vince McMahon over the head with a steel chair one time at Wrestlemania.”


            If this situation does not terrify you, then it’s not my fault you don’t get why having an idiot rule the world is a problem. A huge problem.

            I’m no fan of Obama or Clinton, but damn, at least they could speak in complete sentences. All we get out of Trump is tossed word salad, which doesn’t inspire my confidence if/when we get into it with the Russians.

            So yes. We’re fucked until further notice.

          • December 12, 2018 at 04:26

            Putting your words in other people’s mouth is a naughty habit, Michael A.



          • Michael A.
            December 13, 2018 at 17:24

            @ O Society — Are you really going to make me quote Ronald Reagan?—”There you go again.” Even after being directly called out by me, you still failed to deny you’re a neoliberal but instead opted to say you are neither confirming nor denying it. Evasiveness is a marker of neoliberalism. Your neoliberalism is implied by conduct—your conduct.

            No, you are not on trial—suggesting otherwise is a straw man. But your words are subject to scrutiny—any position worth having is worth defending.

            Yes, I realize “Trump has the capability of blowing up the earth and everything on it all at once with nuclear weapons.” But it is a blatant red herring to say that while pretending: (a) he is the only world leader who has this power (he’s not); (b) he didn’t have near 70 million Americans willfully give him this power (he did); (c) the system didn’t allow him to become president despite getting fewer popular votes (it did); (d) he’s not the only U.S. president in the last nearly 50 years who has NOT started a war, nuclear or otherwise. Red herrings are dishonest, and dishonesty is a marker of neoliberalism.

            Yes, I realize the Doomsday clock is 2 minutes to midnight. But contrary to your claim, it is NOT “closer to nuclear Armageddon than we have been at any other time in history.” The very next sentence in the statement you yourself cited says the clock is “AS CLOSE AS it was in 1953, at the height of the Cold War.” (Emphasis added.) So, another dishonest red herring.

            In just one of my several comments here, I explicitly called Trump “a disgusting garbage person,” “a sociopath,” and a “predator.” Given this, your suggesting that I don’t think Trump is either an idiot or a problem is a glaring and gross red herring. It is profoundly dishonest of you.

            That you think something as superficial as the way someone speaks is important confirms, without a doubt, that you are a neoliberal exactly as I described, unable to see a foot in front of your own face, pragmatically and conveniently building straw men of the superficial while avoiding dealing with the substantive and systemic. If that weren’t enough, you’re also a neoliberal willing to rehabilitate the war mongers Obama and HRC.

            Here’s what Obama did with his complete sentences:

            (a) took us from two wars to seven;
            (b) gave $29,000,000,000,000 (that’s nearly THIRTY TRILLION) to Wall Street;
            (c) suspended Habeas Corpus so that he could indefinitely imprison ANYONE;
            (d) suspended the Posse Comitatus Act that Trump is now using to deploy military at the border;
            (e) employed the same animal-in-a-cage detention tactics at the border that Trump is using;
            (f) exploded the prison population by refusing to reform federal drug policy;
            (g) created one of the world’s worst migrant/refugee crises in the Mid-East and Europe with his endless wars;
            (h) dropped so many bombs on Syria in 2015 that the Air Force literally ran out of bombs;
            (i) massively expanded the drone strike program and used it in violation of the Constitution to summarily execute at least one U.S. citizen;
            (j) kept using a drone strike program known to create civilian casualties a whopping 90% of the time;
            (k) provided support to Saudi Arabia for it’s war in Yemen resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands (including the slow starvation and dehydration of 85,000 children);
            (l) despite having total control of all three branches of government for two years, failed to give us anything better than a right-wing Heritage Foundation version of Romneycare that left tens of millions without health insurance;
            (m) admitted to government-sanctioned torture, for which no one was held accountable;
            (n) made the U.S. the most surveyed country in the world, allowing the NSA to spy on EVERYONE;
            (p) and so on, and so on, and so on.

            I could make a similar list for HRC and her complete sentences, starting most prominently with the fact that her campaign INTENTIONALLY ELEVATED TRUMP through a pied piper strategy. But you go ahead and tell me how Trump is the problem. I officially diagnose you with Trump Derangement Syndrome. I’m afraid a viable cure does not yet exist.

            As for your second comment about putting words in other people’s mouths, I literally have no idea what any of it means—the comment, the link, none of it.

            And now, you’re going to make me end by quoting a cartoon character: As Nelson Muntz from The Simpsons says to Lisa when she tries to confront him with the truth about his father’s abandoning him, “Some of us prefer illusion to despair.” Nelson wants to keep pretending, as he has for decades now, that even though his father left him years ago, he only went to get cigarettes and will be right back. I think that’s YOU—you keep pretending that Trump is the problem, that our entire system, our entire country, isn’t and hasn’t been for generations now, profoundly rotten to the core.

          • Michael A.
            December 13, 2018 at 20:15


  15. December 7, 2018 at 15:22

    Whatever the truth and many insights of Johnstone’s broader analysis the problem is not mainly or only a dominating ideology of “neo-liberalism” but the limits to economic growth.

    This situation cannot be brushed aside by brand new policies which will help re-kindle growth so that well being improvement will simply resume as a result of different, post neo-liberal economics

    There is a need to reduce vehicle use and travel dramatically in order to address climate change – what is missing in this regard is that most energy use is by and for the wealthy, including for transport and travel. Also there are both social justice and ecological imperatives to concentrate ecological austerity policies on the rich.

    The rich have the most carbon intensive lifestyle and it is they that have to take the greatest burden ecologically because their consumption is the a root cause of the carbon emissions problem.

    In addition, if there has to be a reduction of resource use as economies degrow at the other side of peak resource use. As a resul there needs to be instututions and arrangements that make this possible – arrangements for sharing that express social solidarity.

    In this regard much improved public transport to replace provate transport -as well as re-localising economies to reduce the need for transport and travel are a must Electrifing the transport fleet as a techno-fix is a mostly false solution – it implies the continuance of a hyper mobile economy based on electricity – but where is the extra energy to come from?

    The way forward is to embrace contraction – decroissance – and find the instututions that make it possible, not try to expand into another massive programme of resource use. A different kind of public services infrastructure to enable contraction with no loss of welfare and in which the rich take the biggest hit are a necessary kind of alternative politics that no one currently has the courage to talk about.

    This is rather more than addressing grievances – it is a different way of thinking and style of politics based on degrowth, on decraissance.

    • Anne Jaclard
      December 7, 2018 at 18:19

      Extremely true and important! I’ve been seeing a few more people critique the Growth Cult over the last two months, and it’s imperative that we do so. People often associate degrowth/the Club of Rome with Macron style globalism but in fact it belongs to a separate left wing and anticapitalist ideology that supports a multilateral world (versus Euro-Atlantic, TTIP and Trilateralist globalism preferred by Macron & co). In fact, it is a leathal weapon against capitalism!

      Extinctions Rebellion:

    • Michael A.
      December 8, 2018 at 19:07

      I find your comment confused, shallow, and simplistic. Most telling is that for all your talk of so-called degrowth, not once do you mention factory farming. No credible discussion of the climate change imperative can be had without discussing factory farming.

    • elmerfudzie
      December 8, 2018 at 19:19

      Reply to Anne Jaclard and Brian Davey from Elmerfudzie: Allow me to tweak your commentaries and crystallize some ideas here. In the broadest political sense, the corpocracies of this world have evolved into a nebulous group of loosely connected “shadow government” like entities, or for lack of another word, organized around the concept of anarchism. This collage of CEO’s and COO’s exchange ideas and plans behind closed doors of the Bilderberg meetings and belong to related secret societies such as Skull and Bones. My point is this, the alleged new world order will use any political persuasion, even various types of currency, whatever is ready at hand, be it fascism, capitalism, Marxism, Zionism or whatever. The foundation of this new corpocracy is based on the Cecil Rhodes model, who’s philosophy of Malthusian economics is still promoted and financed by the Rhodes wealth. This model aimed at our collective futures now has surfaced, in the personages of people such as those devoted followers of Maurice Strong (Canada) . Lord Blackwell (UK) Rupert Murdock (UK) Peter Theil (USA) and a new, generic challenge to World Bank influences, leveled by board room members of AIIB (China). Again, the Rhodesean model, if you will, may use and in fact does, manipulate any race, religious or ethnic faction(s), terrorists, sovereign debts and loans, in order to preserve one single principle; the world dominion of monarchs, outright gangsters and their associated oligarchs, who’s closest mirror is medieval feudalism. The entire throng of humanity will eventually succumb to utter slavery. No economic classes or other distinctions, perhaps not even a multitude of languages will survive. The only exception being a small and selected group of bureaucratic apparatchiks, hired and or disposed of, as the ruling class sees fit. A world with clear lines of haves and have nots. Frankly, I believe that even the concept of an Orwellian world does not properly express what these “crazies” have in mind…

  16. Alan Ross
    December 7, 2018 at 09:21

    Aux armes, citoyens,

  17. robin
    December 7, 2018 at 07:48

    Do not worry, here is US /zionists they have figured out and made plans for you long ago – where and from what you#ll be getting energy .
    Watch what Macron regime is doing with Yellow Vests . —

  18. December 7, 2018 at 07:36

    Your article has the merit to cover most issues of the political situation in France in a fairly accurate manner. Although as I was reading I could not shake the feeling of a conservative biase and a condescending overtone toward French society. At one point you saying that maybe you missed something but did not see any indication that the far right was involved in the movement. Yes you missed something. For instance the fact that 5 out of 8 of self proclaimed “porte parole” of the movement are affiliated to far right group and even posted antisemitic slur. The fact that moderates have received death threats is they where to talk with the authorities. This does not look like what a movement with just legitimate social demands. There are poor people in the movement but 55% of the French don’t pay income taxes and poor suburds, migrants and unemployed are rare in the movement. Listening to their complains what come up most often is that they don’t have extra money for ski vacation or restaurants. The world is changing and they are hangry because they won’t let go of their comsumer dream paradise.

    It is a political movement and yes populism is associated to nationalism and lead to facism.Typical populists politicians are the Islamists who took power with a democratic vote after an uprising in Egypt or in Tunisia . Once in power they started restricting liberties until the military had to take over to restore an authoritarian but fair government. If it was not for US institutions and centuries of democratic culture Trump would have done the same. Russian Tv is now saying that it is a plot from the US necause it happened just a week after Macron said that we need a European army. This proceed from the same kind of idea to tell the masses what they want to hear pointing at an enemy. The “Gilets Jaunes” don’t care about a few euros more on gas what they want is blood . In 1968 when the CGT leader Georges Seguy came back from trhe Grenelle negociations proudly announcing 30% raise to a whole striking country. They threw stone at him!

    I keep wondering who had first the brillliant idea to use the gilets jaunes as a uniform because this uniform. It makes them super visible yet anonymous which is the perfectcover to keep a lynching crowd going.

  19. Adwoa
    December 7, 2018 at 05:49

    The European Union is an imperial project to subjugate, as you said, the smaller Southern European countries – Portugal, Greece, Spain and even Italy. Brexit is the harbinger of its demise. Albeit, Theresa May is hellbent on brokering a deal that works for only the oligarchs, the banks and all the other exploiters.

  20. Maxwell Quest
    December 6, 2018 at 22:29

    Things are getting interesting in France. I’m sure that all the globalists are in a wide-eyed panic, hoping that this French spark does not ignite all the smoldering tinder that they have piled high in the other once-sovereign European countries. Who would have thought, that after the banks and other multi-national corporations had sucked them dry, with Brussels adding the coup de grâce by flooded their town and cities with millions of non-assimilating immigrants, that the French peasants would be so unappreciative?

    And now, it seems, some of the angrier peasants from the outlying districts who are tired of the playing the Hunger Games have come to the Capital to confront President Snow (Macron) with their grievances. And, alas, all those poor shopkeepers on the Champs-Élysées, how are they going to sell their quota of Louis Vuitton purses and Swarovski crystal to the ruling rich with all the teargas and burning cars keeping them at bay? It looks like another win for Amazon Prime.

    • Michael A.
      December 8, 2018 at 19:09

      Creative and clever in a morbid/sick sort of way. Love it. Seriously.

    • Maxwell Quest
      December 9, 2018 at 17:56

      Just came across this on another website. Appears like it could be legit. Wouldn’t be at all surprised.

      • Skip Scott
        December 10, 2018 at 11:29

        Wow. Thanks for the link.

      • Realist
        December 11, 2018 at 03:11

        A “European Spring,” I’d love to see that. Neoliberals deserve the guillotine for what they’ve done to working people throughout the “West.” People are hurting wherever national economies have been “Amerikanized,” as in the creeping privatisation of French medical care described in the article. I hope the French give us a good example to follow when the rebellion spreads to Amerika.

        Of course, the Western media will suppress any bona fide information that might erode the entrenched power of globalism. It’s their job as tools of the plutocracy. The BBC gets its marching orders from the same people who spread their lies on NBC, MSNBC and the rest of the Amerikan propaganda outlets.

        • Maxwell Quest
          December 11, 2018 at 23:11

          Thanks, Skip. Thanks, Realist.

          I would like to see a “European Spring” also, although I’m immediately reminded of the old Chinese curse, “May you get what you wish for.” The cost would be high to throw off the vampire banks and their globalist minions.

          But what is the “cost” of doing nothing? We are being subjected to a slow “death by a thousand cuts” anyway. I’m sure that the people of Central and South American would say that the cost has been high for them over the last century, and I bet that Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya would chime in as well. And let’s include all the vassal states like Japan, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, etc. that are pretty much forced to do what they are told or else.

          And the pathologies in the good ‘ol USA are almost too numerous to count. I’d hazard a guess that the 72,000+ overdose deaths last year were not due to overly high levels of self-worth, happiness, and hope for the future.

          • Skip Scott
            December 13, 2018 at 08:57

            I’m guessing that the flood of heroin and the opioid crisis is a deliberate program with the aim of reducing the population of “undesirables”. Although the crisis crosses economic classes to some extent, I would bet that the major impact is on those collecting Social Security disability from getting hurt on the job, and poor inner-city neighborhoods.

            That the CIA most likely gets to fund some “black ops” from the proceeds just makes it a “two-fer”.

      • O Society
        December 12, 2018 at 12:17

        Interesting. Looking at BBC right now.

        Nothing on their front page about Yellow Vests, Macron, or Paris at all.

        Teresa May is at the top. The UK crisis. D notice sounds plausible.

  21. PJB
    December 6, 2018 at 22:17

    Excellent article thank you.

    People are waking up to the globalist neoliberal financial oligarchy all over the world. However it is tricky. The oligarchy may use protests and riots as an excuse to bring in ever more Orwellian controls, while austerity combined with creating money we have to pay for in interest and taxes continues to eviscerate the middle class and leads to a ‘Hunger Games’ style future of feudal elites and serfs or what some oligarchs allegedly call ‘useless eaters’.

  22. Nathan Mulcahy
    December 6, 2018 at 22:16

    Let’s see when the corporate presstitutes and the deep state start accusing Putin for instigating the protests.

  23. mike k
    December 6, 2018 at 21:15

    A revolution without a deep soul will only lead to more of the same human failure. It takes more than pitchforks or automatic weapons to make a true revolution.

    “The heart of the true revolutionary is filled with Love.” (Che Guevara)

    • robin
      December 7, 2018 at 08:04

      One should make a distinction between revolution and an orchestrated , disguised coup . Ukrainian “revolution ” as an example ,which has brought this :
      Neo-Nazi Thugs… —

      Open link below the article !

    • Michael A.
      December 8, 2018 at 19:15

      Chris Hedges would likely agree, though instead of the word soul, he might say spirituality. He would probably also remind us that historically, most successful revolutions have been nonviolent. He points to several examples, but the theme is always the same: Once a sufficient (usually between one and three percent) of the military/police refuse to do the bidding of the oligarchy, it creates a critical mass, and the revolution wins out.

  24. Ann Garrison
    December 6, 2018 at 20:32

    Excellent analysis. My only question is why the tidal power shouldn’t be captured by public power rather than public subsidy of private industry.

  25. dean 1000
    December 6, 2018 at 16:45

    Yet another good one Diana Johnstone.

    I used to think European multinational organizations would be more con-federal than the U.S. given the distinct cultures and long histories as independent national actors.

    The EU is much better on privacy rights than the U.S. But it has become as plutocratic as the U.S. The budgetary/inflationary diktats are a primary indication that a government is more interested in spiking the personal economies of the rich rather than the political economy of the country. There are ways to control inflation w/o making people poorer. The problem is that the rich expect government to make them ever richer, usually at the expense of the larger society.

    I’m happy with a national currency. Most people are. EU members Denmark & Sweden were wise to stay out of the monetary union. Other members may opt out but stay in the EU. Rebus sic Stantibus.

    The left, that has done so much for the working classes, has shot itself in the foot. Maybe in the back pocket. Populism is not right wing or left wing. Populism is in the broad center. That is why it is popular. It is not without warts. Neither are the extremes.

    Nuclear power isn’t really clean. It can produce a Chernobyl accident or nuclear weapons. The huge solar thermal power plant in Spain proved conclusively that solar power plants can produce huge quantities of electricity at night. The even newer bigger solar power plant in Nevada is so efficient it doesn’t need coal or gas backup.

    • December 7, 2018 at 15:36

      No Nuclear power plants can’t be used to produce Nuclear weapons. If you had any knowledge of the nuclear fuel cycle you would know that. Your reference to Chernobyl is also flawed. Such designs could never be licensed to operate in the US,Canada or Europe and these designs were abandoned in Russia and China after the fall of the Soviet Union. For your information the new designs currently under construction in the US and Europe can’t melt down. It is a physical impossiblity.. The Japanese government should have been shot for allowing the fukashima plants to be built so close to the coast and not at an elevation high enough to be unaffected by a tsunami. Such measures are required before the NRC would grant a construction permit for any US plant. Besides hydroelectric power Nuclear offers the only non carbon 24/7 baseload power source currently available and unless we continue to do more research and improve this technology we will never have commercial Fusion power which will provide the world with virtually limitless, inexpensive,safe and clean power.

      • bardamu
        December 7, 2018 at 22:10

        Depends which plants and which weapons. b

      • Gene Poole
        December 9, 2018 at 11:30

        @Freedomlover: It’ll be “too cheap to meter”, right?

      • Antonio Costa
        December 9, 2018 at 19:44

        What “new” nuclear power plants in the US?
        “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” – Albert Einstein

    • Kalen
      December 8, 2018 at 00:18

      You are right. Nuclear power is not viable alternative. The Nuclear power is neither clean nor sustainable and is simply a cruel hoax, masquerading as the power generating technology. There is no such a thing as the peaceful or civilian nuclear power.

      Little history. When in the early fifties the nuclear weapons race between the US and the Soviets and later China was in its apex a problem aroused of running huge operations of producing the nuclear weapons in total secrecy. The issue was the necessity of running secretly many nuclear reactors fueled with over 99% of U238 and less than 1% of isotope U235 which after the controlled fission burning produced 3-4% of isotope U235 ready for subsequent multi stage enrichment in order to produce the nuclear weapon grade fuel.

      Another problem was that further enrichment of uranium U235 and Plutonium Pu239 isotopes required enormous amounts of electricity, for running of hundreds of thousands mechanical centrifuges 24/7 affecting whole national power system with variety effects that were not easy to conceal.

      To the rescue came bunch propagandists from Pentagon or W.H. and devised the peaceful use of nuclear energy mantra, brilliantly conceived method of hiding massive nuclear war preparation effort as a benign service to humanity as proclaimed by president Eisenhower as early as in 1953.

      As a result the first so-called US Civilian Nuclear Power Plant was born in Shippingport, Pennsylvania in 1957, with moderate redesign of original military nuclear reactor and adding steam turbine and electric power generators.

      Ignoring the inherited environmental dangers and flaws in the basic concept of design, nuclear power plants were never meant for civilian use for one reason alone. Namely, complete lack of any technology enabling utilization of deadly, lasting up to billion years, nuclear waste for any further civilian use and fairy tales about new breeder reactor technologies do not change anything in that matter.

      The Fukushima NPP disaster is a prime example of deadly results of reckless design based more on the war contingencies than consideration for civilian lives, combined with complete criminal incompetence of private operator focused solely on the profit.

      Nuclear fission technology is a dead end relic of Cold War catastrophically unsafe, economically unviable, regardless of who operates them, state or private industry it is enormous fiscal liability for damages or cost of decominsion as no private insurer in the world would touch it even after over 60 years.

      • Skip Scott
        December 10, 2018 at 11:32


        I am curious if there is anything to the Thorium nukes that are being discussed as a viable alternative? Are you familiar with this newer option?

  26. December 6, 2018 at 14:55

    The article was extremely informative,always a bit, does the battery driven electric car have to do with nuclear energy?

    • Diana Johnstone
      December 7, 2018 at 06:23

      The batteries have to be charged – with electricity. In the present state of technology, nuclear energy is France’s primary source of electricity. Before it is possible to put masses of electric cars on the road, the problems of production and storage of electricity must be solved.

      • Anne Jaclard
        December 7, 2018 at 18:22

        Diana, I’m sure you’ve noticed but the Left Party in Germany is split on the movement with the Get Up! wing strongly in support and the Kipping/neoliberal wing against. The typical “cross front”/”red brown” smearmongering.

        Also, unsurprisingly, it is being attacked by the Integrity Initiative which is tweeting out PropOrNot.

      • WALDRON
        December 9, 2018 at 04:11

        As the French government plans to close many older (leaking) nuclear power stations (on German border) France will suffer some capacity restraints particularly if everyone shifts out of conventual petrol/diesel cars. Battery technology in the early stages of development so an alternative power source for vehicles should be developed like hydrogen; with less old lithium battery waste. Storage of hydrogen at low temperatures needs to be addressed. Most people know all this about hydrogen; but worth repeating?

        NOTE: The social problems facing France are not unique with less unskilled jobs and private equity at work like busy beavers.
        The case of HansGrohe (manufacturer of bathroom taps) of Germany serves a prime example of a family company traded between British and American private equity leading to many job losses and restructuring. Basically “asset-stripping” with company pension funds at risk like BHS and Mirror newspaper company pensions saved by government / taxpayer. 2008?

    • bardamu
      December 7, 2018 at 22:08

      The battery likely gets recharged mostly by nuclear-generated electricity.

  27. Antonio Costa
    December 6, 2018 at 14:07

    This article raises the important question: how do we respond to a real threat of climate change while meeting the needs of people?

    The record shows that the most vulnerable pay, or: “The Strong Do What They Can, And The Weak Suffer What They Must”. We have enslaved ourselves to fossil. And freedom will be painful.

    Macron is a neoliberal, but this doesn’t seem like the best example of the “neoliberal playbook”. And this may not be the best response to what is definitely occurring, France is not immune and will see its swanky coastline disappear due to climate disruptions.

    Ms. Johnstone the “carbon free” nuclear plants is an example of neoliberal and military complex delusion. Sure the operation of these plants produces less carbon (though the full life cycle is full of CO2) but when compared to the tonnage of radioactive waste which is likely near those rising sea levels those poisons all kill.

    Sure there are immediate needs and a just world would attend to those needs while reducing/eliminating our carbon emissions. Macron is what he is, but mostly he’s a pawn of his US bosses (and I don’t mean Trump). The last time France showed some grit was the run up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. After that it’s just bootlicking.

    • December 7, 2018 at 15:53

      Please explain to me what CO2 emmissions are created from an operating Nuclear plant besides during the small amount emmited during the mining of the Uranium fuel. Tons of nuclear waste really? The average 1-gigawatt nuclear power plant produces enough nuclear waste during a whole year to fit under the average office desk. Compare that to what a similar sized coal plant would produce in emmissions and fly ash. You like many buy in to the fictions propagated by the mainstream media about Nuclear power. The plain fact is the elite don’t want us to have nuclear power which means a better quality of life for billions of otherwise poor peoples.

      • Antonio Costa
        December 7, 2018 at 18:29

        The CO2 is produced during the intensive processing of enriching uranium for use. There is also the dangerous and CO2 producing as a result of uranium mining and reactor construction. These are not trivial. Radioactivity is directly connected to cancers, particularly women and children near plants.

        The ongoing production of radioactive waste is huge as it lives on for hundreds of thousands of years. Containers of such waste become radioactive. France has had a number of dangerous incidences and since sites are located near open water ways prone to rising sea levels they are vulnerable to meltdowns. These reactors are under constant corrosion, rust, concrete life of a max 100 years, seapage into drinking water.

        This is really a problem from hell that the Franch would be wise to recognize sooner rather than too late.

        If we put a moratorium on advertizing we’d see that our needs are quite limited.

  28. Drew Hunkins
    December 6, 2018 at 12:47

    First things first. Yes, global warming is an imminent threat, yes, it calls for immediate action, but my struggling working class brethren can’t see past next week let alone a future human ecological catastrophe.

    We must first address the pressing economic concerns of the suffocating millions before they’re going to turn their thoughts to the tragic issues involved in global warming. Sorry folks, but that’s the reality. Paris is currently showing us that in spades.

    Until wages are lifted for tens of millions of Americans, and until Medicare for All is passed, and until secure union jobs are firmly ensconced across the nation, global warming will continually get short shrift from a population that unfortunately has more pressing day to day problems to deal with. Massive inequality must be slayed and the parasitic bloodsuckers on Wall Street figuratively taken out to the guillotine.

    This is a harsh truth that left progressives-populists and ecologists need to comprehend in order to indeed eventually take on global warming.

    Of course a green jobs program could help to remedy at least to a limited degree this disconnect.

    • Antonio Costa
      December 6, 2018 at 18:16

      Medicare for All is being killed by Medicare (privatization) Advantage. There won’t be a public Medicare to expand. That’s gloves off neoliberalism.

      US policies have and are killing millions of people, 20 to 30 just since WW II. Why would such a nation provide for its people?

      Help me understand, please.

      Yes climate mayhem is both an inconvenient truth and a problem clearly from hell.

    • Tom Kath
      December 6, 2018 at 21:49

      “CHANGE”, although always feared, is not necessarily for the worse. That applies to the climate as much as politics or economics. We must always ask, “Who benefits?”. Most plants benefit greatly from higher levels of CO2, and most poor people get even poorer from higher energy costs.
      Who loses from the revolution?

  29. T
    December 6, 2018 at 12:23

    > With no leaders and no service d’ordre (militants assigned to protect the demonstrators from attacks,
    > provocations and infiltration), it was inevitable that casseurs (smashers) got into the act and started
    > smashing things, looting shops and setting fires to trash cans, cars and even buildings.

    Since these actions obviously cannot aid any of the goals of the protesters, and just as obviously provide a perfect justification for a more violent police crackdown, and helpt to discredit the protests among possible sympathizers;

    and since it is a well-established fact that such groups have often turned out, in France and elsewhere, to have been in reality agents provocateurs sent in by elements in the government and/or enemies of the movement concerned, isn’t the most likely explanation that this is exactly what they are?

    And wouldn’t it be in the general interest (rule of law and all that) to seize and identify a few of them?

    • December 6, 2018 at 12:41

      the majority of Yellow Vests is fighting for its survival. As you are manipulated by the mass media in France, especially those owned by the bog capital, TFI (Bouygues), BFM(Macron official TV) and Cnews(Bolloré), you can see in this popular up burst on the” casseurs” and the “provocateurs” who are in fact police agent committed to discredit the Yellow Vests movement.

      You don’t want see in your a rehearsal repetition of the SANS CULOTTES revolt from 1793 to 1795 and februar and june popualr revolution of 1848 where hundreds of workers had been massacred by General Cavaignac and by the bloodthirsty the versaillais Adolf Thiers during the Paris Commune in 1871.

    • Dax
      December 11, 2018 at 06:48

      Donno. There’s enough idiots that like burning and breaking things. I used to live in Lyon’s suburbs as it happens (Minguettes, Vénissieux si vous dit quchose). Every night we had cars and rubbish bins burned by some jeunes hommes of certain descent. Just for fun. I am sure there are enough kids there among the protesters who are just happy to “revolt”and misbehave. It could their first and last chance to smash a Channel shop after all. Or to burn down an expensive Italian car. So much joy.

  30. December 6, 2018 at 12:07

    Macron’s rule is over. It lasted only eighteen months. Now he is fighting for his survival. the ruling class, the bourgeoisie, the big capital, and their well-paid servant, the politicians, the mass media and the academic who poured million euros to send Macron to the Elysée are now looking for military dictatorship by fomenting a coup d’état similar to that of December 1851 made by Napoleon III after the Revolution of 1848, proclaiming for the first time the universal suffrage.

    Here, in Paris, we are now expecting imminent military coup d’état after the demonstration of this coming Saturday. we are following hour by hour the development of events

    Now in France, we are living insurrectionnel situation provoked not only by the Yellow Vests(gilets jaunes) but other economic sectors, universites and high school

    • Anne Jaclard
      December 6, 2018 at 20:07

      “The Communards were the first in the history of our species to be without masters, to be free. It is the stuff dreams are made of. Long live those in whom burns the flame that never dies. Vive la Commune!”

      The spirit of the commune is coming from the providences (perhaps uniquely). Outrageous photos of high school students being lined up faces to the wall by the CRS as if in a military dictatorship. The real “yellow fascism” in France is now obviously Macron’s Neoliberal En Marche, which is being exposed as the agent of fascistisation and repression of the 1%. The youth will topple this outrageous monarch. Share this video widely!

  31. K Lee
    December 6, 2018 at 11:51

    Christopher Lasch’s book Revolt of the Elite chronicles the capitalist revolt against government, the people and the environment spanning over four decades now. All administrations presiding over this time are responsible for hollowing out the middle class. The world is done with this blight on humanity called neoliberalism, which is really economic fascism. The ideology itself is founded on financial myths like “balancing the budget”, which Forbes Magazine has finally exposed as economic illiteracy:

    1. Public sector deficits are private sector surpluses.

    A logical extension of this is that public sector deficit reduction = private sector income reduction. Imagine if politicians and policy makers worded it this way. Take, for example, these excerpts from the 2013 State of the Union address (substituted text in italics):

    Over the last few years, both parties have worked together to reduce private sector income by more than $2.5 trillion — mostly through spending cuts, but also by raising tax rates on the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans.

    In 2011, Congress passed a law saying that if both parties couldn’t agree on a plan to reach our private sector income reduction goal, about a trillion dollars’ worth of budget cuts would automatically go into effect this year.

    Let me repeat — nothing I’m proposing tonight should increase private sector income by a single dime.

    Now is our best chance for bipartisan, comprehensive tax reform that encourages job creation and helps bring down private sector income. (Applause.)

    I suspect that none of these statements would have generated a great deal of applause, yet they are every bit as accurate–and more relevant–than the originals.

  32. KP
    December 6, 2018 at 10:54

    This article by Diana Johnstone portrays an extremely one sided point of view which is misleading.

    Notwithstanding that some yellow vests have a valid claim, the portrayal of the media in this article is untrue. The media has consistently inflamed the situation primarily to sell their stories, but also to back the yellow vests with their socialist support.

    What the article doesn’t tell you, is that 57% of the French households do not pay income tax. Some of that burden is passed on to the upper middle class but most of the tax burden is carried by the wealthier French residents.

    Almost 32 % of the French population smoke. Statistics show that most of the smokers are from low income households. Smoking is a huge budget for those earning a low income. A person that consumes one pack a day and earns minimum wage will see one third of their disposable income go up in smoke. What is even worse, is that their health bill (lack of health in this case) will be carried by the true tax payer (not the low wage earner).

    The culture in this populist welfare state has unfortunately encouraged its citizens to work less hours per day than their European counter parts. Vacation activities and news is continuously covered by the media during the 4 months of school holidays throughout the year. All this of course, is in addition to the socialist values of guaranteed medical care, pensions and very generous unemployment benefits not to mention almost free post high school education.

    The article doesn’t cover the French’s cultural attitude towards those with money. Their hatred of the wealthy is so widespread, one recent socialist president once said on the air: “I don’t like the rich”. What a statement to make by a country leader! If you listen to some of the yellow vests, they’re more interested in punishing the rich than improving their own standard of living.

    I grew up in a western country but as a student in the late 70’s and early 80’s I was earning more than the annual minimum wage level holding down 3 part-time jobs. Where there’s a will, there is a way – especially in a welfare state. Many of the French are whiners and have it too easy. For those that know the French culture: complaining is a national sport!

    True misery does exist, one should travel to some of the African countries I’ve visited to see it…

    • December 6, 2018 at 12:26

      This comment is writing by somebody paid by Macron, the french big capital and its slavish servant media. Macron, like his creator Holland and before him Sarkozy are known as “Président des riches” whose policy favored the wealthy class representing like in the United States the 1 % of society. 40 billons euros have been distributed to Carrefour, Auchan without creating one only job in France. Mulliez family owner of AUCHAN hypermarket placed her fortune in fiscal paradise.

      nowadays, to form a correct estimate, the amount of fiscal fraud is 1000 billons euros while 60 % of french working earn less that 1500 euros per month

      • Abby
        December 6, 2018 at 23:22

        Yep. You said what I was thinking only you said it better than I would have.
        The OP starts with saying that the article was one sided and then goes on to present one side. The side that defended the rich.

        We are seeing austerity measures popping up all over the globe as the rich take more and more money from those who are struggling. The bottom line is tax cuts for the wealthy and cuts to social programs for those relying on them.

        This is all out class warfare and I’m hoping that what the yellow vests are doing spread rapidly and to America. Can there be a citizenry that continues to passively continue to take whatever is doled out? Obama oversaw the biggest transfer of wealth since the Great Depression and people still think that he was the best president since FDR.

      • KP
        December 7, 2018 at 10:20

        The Insee just published the personal wealth statistics of the French:
        Summary as follows:
        – 93% of the French have financial, real estate, or business assets.
        – 88.3% hold some form of financial instruments.
        – 61.7 % own real estate
        The French are not as indebted as they would try to make you believe and they have the highest level of savings among Europeans.
        By reading the some of these comments one might believe the majority of the French are poor or living below poverty levels. Not true. The French have mastered the art of living frugally, driving beat up old polluting vehicles and hiding their assets.
        Again, I repeat my initial comment, some of the yellow vests have a valid claim but the majority are just riding the bandwagon.

        • Gene Poole
          December 9, 2018 at 12:08

          Your posts are pure reactionary propaganda. “93% of the French” have financial assets. Well, a 10-c piece is a “financial asset”, yes. But only to that extent is there any fragment of truth in your assertion. And most of the rest of your assertions are equally true.

          Some are also laughably ludicrous. Why is a rich person who smokes less of a drain on the health system than a poor one who smokes (and who, the last time I looked it up, has as much of a right to spend his money the way he sees fit as a rich one)?

        • Isa
          December 11, 2018 at 13:59

          Je suis française et vos propos me révoltent. Oui il y a des foyers riches voire très riches (ces derniers faisant l’objet d’une attention très favorable de Macron et ses affidés ) Mais une grosse majorité de gens vivent sous le seuil de pauvreté même ceux qui bénéficient encore (pour combien de temps? D’un emploi). Nous enchainons le processus engagé en Grèce depuis des années et je n’ai qu’un espoir que ce mouvement mette fin une bonne fois pour toute à cette union européenne qui ne fait que répandre misère et malheur des peuples au bénéfice d’une poignée d’ oligarques

          • Maxwell Quest
            December 11, 2018 at 22:03

            Bravo, Isa!

            J’espère que vous obtiendrez votre souhait: le retour de la souveraineté nationale et de la culture pour non seulement les Français, mais tous les autres pays européens asservis.

    • willie
      December 8, 2018 at 17:45

      The problem now is that the entire political class is compromised and there is really no’one capable of taking over the lead,as far as I can see for the moment.But the people are fed up with being insulted by Macron and his clique,whilst being disregarded like p.e. the episode where the french football team that won the world cup made a quick half an hour parade on bus through Paris ,leaving hundreds of thousands of fans breathless and in anger,contrary to the over four hours that took it on the same parcours in 1998 to receive the public acclaim,and this only because the president’s favorite Benalla was next to the busdriver telling him to speed to the Elysee .

      As for whining frenchies,I’m not french but living over 20 years in a nice little hamlet of a nice little village and actually I am very happy here,but very poor in income as well,although my wife and I possess three cars.I’m giving you some impressions about living in our countryside,like I posted them some days ago on Moon of Alabama,maybe it will help you change your vision on the protesters.

      I m living for over twenty years in a small countryside village in France,one of several tens of thousands communities that count no more than about three hundred inhabitants.The village school had just shut down.Yhe nearest shops are in another village ,some five kilometers;For building equipment or warehouse I go to another city at fifteen kilometers.Official paperwork makes me go to the capital of the departement,35 kilometers.My work was in another small town 25 km.You just need your car,and even two,no matter if you are rich or poor.Just to go to work ,to bring your kids to activities,to get groceries.Lately La Poste took away the postbox in my hamlet,now I have to bring my courrier to the office,or another postbox.I can’t do all this on bicycle,it’s too steep around here,and there is no public transport.People around here,with little political conscience,have seen all services deteriorating,while taxes rise ,8 euros for 30 grams of tobacco,Control Technique ,radars flashing every bit of the road where the people are likely to speed a bit,now the 8O km limit,they’ve heard and believed a lot of promises for a long time,and now they are on the point that they don’t want even listen to some politicians.If they voted at all,there are a lot that voted Mcron,because they thought he was the novelty that would sweep away all the old faces in politics.Well,all those people that are not so politicised and did let things have their way,whilst working hard to sustain their families,they’re fed up now,and they show it.Political commentators are surprised about the public support for the yellow jackets,even after the violence in Paris.The over 3OO other points of protest where things are peaceful,are not considered in media.In the meantime everybody knows that in France the Ministry of Interior Affairs sends out violent types with helmets and sticks into the protest,so as to deteriorate its image in the public opinion.Well,this strategy doesn’t work anymore.Personally I consider those anti-fa-,black blocks as the hidden army of NATO.And Macron,you’ll see,has no choice but to step down and make himself invisible

      PS I’m not sure about the number of 300,I think it’s more.

      • Gene Poole
        December 9, 2018 at 12:29

        Bravo. Let me add (I’m in a similar case to yours, except that I love closer to Paris) that little by little almost all small rail lines that used to form a close network all around the country have been being shut down for decades now, while the “national” railway SNCF has been concentrating on building horrifyingly expensive high-speed rail lines. Since the huge deficit of this railway and its irresponsible management is absorbed by the taxpayers, you literally pay for a ticket twice when you take the train. And the price of a ticket rises every year, like clockwork.

        As for the postal service, all the post offices in small towns are being closed. The one in my town (population 1,200) was shut down this year after having slowly reduced service to the point of being open a couple of hours a day a couple of days a week. The public services France was once famous for are being slowly strangled to death in the name of neoliberal management principles. So as a result people are more and more dependent on their cars, as you pointed out very well. That’s why it’s infuriating to see the protestors described as “violent” or “spoiled.”

        You also deserve a special mention for your characterising the “black blocs” as “the Hidden Army of NATO”! I’ve been in France for 30+ years and have never seen a protest where the provocateurs weren’t in evidence. I have seen them in action behind the scenes with my own eyes. But this time around nobody is being fooled by the violence and letting it discredit the movement. This time it’s a movement that has legs and eyes and it’s no exaggeration to say that the generals of the Hidden Army are shitting their pants.

  33. Klaus
    December 6, 2018 at 09:04

    Right, but not only in France. In several countries the yellow vest is mandatory and in others it’s recommended.

  34. Rose Hollins
    December 6, 2018 at 07:01

    Great article, Diana Johnstone, thanks!

    What comes to mind for me is the Paris Commune. Never mind the difference in circumstances at that time.
    The superb & detailed principles for the benefit of all that the Communards asserted, fought & died for, remain the living point, now.

    For the working class, working people, for 80% or more of the population. For the vast majority of us that is. And of course not only in France, but everywhere.

    So I salute you, gilets jaunes!

    From the other side of the world, we’re watching & listening & cheering you on! And on!
    About time, we think, here too!

    Bravo sisters & brothers!
    Bravo, comrades!

    Vive la commune de Paris!

    Kia kaha, solidarity.

    December 6, 2018 at 05:22

    Diana Johnstone gives a very accurate account of the downfall of MACRON; about as secure as the British prime minister engaged in her last rites as leader. However the claim the euro branded a failure seems overstated and dubious. Europe needs a single currency to allow intra-European trade without excessive bank charges. The euro against US dollar is stable and provides stability. There was a successful rescue of Greece which acted irresponsibility and should never have been allowed into the euro club on a false prospectus. Consider that speculators would take down the French France in seconds in the present crisis. The British Pound at near parity to the euro confirms real fears about the BREXIT crisis ripping the country apart. France and Italy need to address their fiscal arrangements. Accusing Germany for good housekeeping seems illogical. NOTE Germany economic success due to their massive trade with China?

    • Double Colodactylon
      December 7, 2018 at 10:10

      Stop blowing phantasy bubbles dude. There was no such thing as a successful rescue of Greece. Except in German neoliberal mainstream toilet papers like Spiegel and FAZ maybe. And please stop with the fairy tales of the irresponsibility, laziness and downright criminal sneakiness of your average Greek towards the always clean and proper German and his/her immaculate housekeeping. You should be ashamed of yourself for spewing such racist filth on international comment sections.

      Pay up for what you did to Greece in WWII. Give back the stolen antique marbles, that are being stashed in the cellars of the frigging Berlin (..and London.. and Paris..) museum. Give back the ports and airports and banks and businesses and real estate you STOLE, with the help of and for your Wall Street croonies. Go on, ask Ackermann and Paulson what was really being played in Greece, before continuing to believe and further promote malicious propaganda by known criminal cryptofascist Schäuble.

      And then apologize to the Greek people, who, after all, kickstarted this new left “consciousness” in France and Europe by voting “wrong” in January and July 2015 and getting majorly shafted for it. I know this here great article by Mrs Johnstone is about the yellow jackets in France, so excuse my slightly off-topic rant, it’s just.. after 10 years of being told by Germans (!!), that Greece’s misery is my and my families own fault, because we are obviously too lazy and too dumb, I’ve simply had it! Get out of my country, Kraut! And take your armada of f*cking LIDLs and Frontex with you, back up into your northern swamps where the sun don’t shine.

      • December 9, 2018 at 06:05

        beautifully said.

      • Josep
        December 11, 2018 at 19:36

        The Corruption Perceptions Index of 2015 ranks Germany, the Netherlands, Finland and Austria as the 11th, 9th, 3rd and 16th least corrupt nations in the world respectively. Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece are ranked at 37th, 28th, 61st and 58th. I am a bit skeptical of the index’s reliability (it ranks the USA at 16th and Russia as 135th), but I’ll let others around here make of the data what they will.

      • Josep
        December 13, 2018 at 17:40

        Even if the Corruption Perceptions Index’s data were half-baked, if not completely bogus, the point I’m trying to make with my previous comment still stands: people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

  36. Michael A.
    December 6, 2018 at 05:17

    A very well-written, well-contextualized, and comprehensive yet crisp article on the subject. It should be required reading for anyone, left or right, with propagandized misconceptions about these protests. I’m struck most by the neoliberal parallels between Macron and Obama (and France and the U.S., for that matter); the similarities are seemingly endless. Obama, too, was crowned by a kingmaker, though his was named Oprah Winfrey. And Obama, too, ran a very slick campaign, so much so that in 2008, he actually won “Ad Age’s Marketer of The Year” award for it, beating out Apple![1] He then went on to hand $29T to Wall Street, winning over the hearts of the oligarchy who up until then, I imagine, were nervous at the prospect of this new “lefty” not to mention black president.

    Had Obama not come to us on the back of an eight-year Bush occupation (to say nothing of 9/11), and were the American people even half as civically engaged as the French, then maybe we would have realized what a fraudulent neoliberal crony capitalist psychopath he actually was much earlier.[2] Now we know: The Obamas left the White House with “30 times more [wealth] than when they entered,” and they are projected to become HECTOMILLIONAIRES at least twice over in the years to come (that’s at least a quarter of a billion dollars, for those keeping track).[3] And as Harry S. Truman famously observed, “You can’t get rich in politics unless you’re a crook.”[4]

    Well, we gave this man two terms to live out his neoliberal wet-dream at our expense. On the back of that, and against the backdrop of the second corrupt presidential campaign of that insatiable megalomaniacal psychopath and neoliberal touchstone, Hillary Rodham Clinton, we had our own version of a protest by nominating, as both Chris Hedges and the late Stephen Hawking have aptly noted, a demagogue in Donald Trump.[5, 6] Of course, Trump, who’s clearly an insatiable narcissistic sociopath, is a symptom of the disease that is neoliberalism; everything that comes now will simply be a further extension of that disease, which, one way or the other, will likely turn out to be terminal.


    • Abby
      December 6, 2018 at 23:27

      Well stated. Unfortunately people think that US history started when Trump was elected president and refuse to acknowledge that he couldn’t be doing the things he is if Obama hadn’t done them first. And Obama was just continuing the things that Bush, Clinton, Bush and Reagan did before him. Trump is the symptom of the disease of neoliberalism.

      • Michael A.
        December 8, 2018 at 19:17

        Hear, hear!

      • Will
        December 11, 2018 at 10:30

        Funny how hyperbole really detects from believability here at Consortium News. anyway, Trump might be a symptom of neoliberalism, but he’s also the product of billions spent and incredible efforts from the right to modify our behavior starting at least when Ronald Reagan and Rand decided that too much education and the public’s ability to have a subjective understanding of the world was a bad thing for the ruling class. Also, I doubt Obama is a clinically a psychopath although I’m less sure about Clinton who was actually one of the two anointed ones in 2008 (Mutt meet Jeff). In Obama’s defense, he and his people did steal quite a bit less than the Bush or Reagan folks or of course, the Trumpsters, although they’re not through quite yet

    • Skip Scott
      December 10, 2018 at 11:38

      Fantastic comment Michael A. Thanks for your input here at CN.

      • Michael A.
        December 11, 2018 at 11:04

        @ Skip Scott — Very kind of you. Thanks to you as well.

  37. Antares
    December 6, 2018 at 04:50

    My comment in which was stated that it is unknown whether the French voted for Macron can only have been censored by a person (or bot) who is completely oblivious to the French situation. People showed voting papers on video that hed been made unfit for voting. Did they do this themselves or not? Did this happen on a large scale? It has never been investigated and is therefore still unknown.

  38. michael crockett
    December 6, 2018 at 03:27

    Excellent article Diana. My observation on neo-liberalism is firstly that it is entrenched in nearly every western democracy. I see it as a form of banker occupation of state that dictates how each country will set up and run their economy. One result that I see as a common thread in these countries is in the area of tax policy. To my second point: The rich pay less and less tax while the rest of us pay more and more tax. What makes this so maddening is that much of the revenue collected is then given to the rich in the form of corporate welfare, while at the same time the government cuts funding to popular programs that are desperately needed by the masses. If ever there was a model to create unrest this is it. In America the rich, and whatever they own are given a shield that protects them from tax liabilities. Because they do not contribute to the Government Coffers the US must borrow from other countries to close the gap in revenue shortfalls (deficit spending). Hundreds of billions must be borrowed each year to keep the government going. Government debt is close to 110% of gdp. Private debt held by individuals corporations and banks is at an all time high. Govt. leaders say that social programs must be cut, however sacred cows like the MIC must receive more funding. To hear the MSM tell it, we have many enemies who are trying to do us in. It feels like a shake down. A protection racket. As yet another economic collapse on the cards, what will be different this time around? Will QE4 be a QE for the people? Will there be a debt jubilee? Will we see the end of fiat currencies? Will we go back to a gold standard? Crypto-currencies? If we do in this economic crisis what we did ten years ago, the 99% of us are screwed. Will that be the trigger for a yellow vest movement in America?

    • Gene Poole
      December 9, 2018 at 12:40

      “Banker occupation of state” is well put. Especially when one considers that Macron was educated as an elite French “civil servant” under a system created to ensure that the best talents end up serving the people, and began his career… as a private-sector banker. Another example of the mask slipping away from the face of today’s French power structure.

  39. Nowbuystuff
    December 6, 2018 at 02:44

    Great article.

    I’ve been waiting to read something which gives a real indication of the scale of these protests.

    Vive la Liberte!

  40. Ajeeb
    December 5, 2018 at 23:43

    Great anslysis,,

  41. December 5, 2018 at 23:42

    One of the interesting things about this riot is journalists reporting from the scene indicate this is not a “left-wing” or “right-wing” crowd. These people are not only sick of neoliberalism, they’re sick of politics and politicians all together. Seems anyone calling themselves a “leader” of the gilets jaunes gets shouted down quickly. There does not seem to be anyone or any ideology in charge.

  42. December 5, 2018 at 23:37

    Jilly Johns!!!

  43. Tom Kath
    December 5, 2018 at 23:37

    It seems perhaps that the “calamity” of climate change is being increasingly seen as more hoax or scam than a real threat to humanity, as REAL thinkers, scientists, and figures reveal. – Certainly it pales into insignificance when faced with end of month bills and extreme income disparity.

    • Timothy
      December 7, 2018 at 19:13

      Now, now. Don’t upset the mindless group-think most liberals have. They don’t trust the Government UNLESS is fits their ignorant narrative about a very, very critical component of life on Earth – CO2. As the world warms (naturally from the little ice age), CO2 goes up. There is more vegetation now (and in prior arid regions) than ever- go look at a vegetation map over time.

      As for needing to find new energy alternatives, there are Millions and Millions of well documented sightings of craft that obviously use non-fossil fuel technology. The reason countries are forcing Austerity programs, is they have funneled most tax revenue into the dark budget. As George Carlin said, “It’s one big club and you ain’t in it”.

      • Anonymous
        December 8, 2018 at 17:37

        Thank you for your response to Johnstone’s good essay.

  44. KiwiAntz
    December 5, 2018 at 21:47

    The Yellow shirts of France are providing the blueprint to fight back against the Neoliberal Elites & their race to the bottom mentality that is destroying the lives of working people around the World? Mass protest & civil disobedience & disruption is the only way to force these rotten,corrupt Politicians to heel & obey the will of the people? The French people have long been the poster child for fighting back against tyranny & it’s a pity that the American people can’t don yellow shirts & head to the streets to bring their corrupt Leaders to heel for their murderous Foreign policy failures & the huge waste of Taxpayer money this involves, which could better be spent at home & also the Corporate Taxpayer bailouts which rewarded the criminal Companies (GM Motors & insolvent Banks & Insurance Company’s etc) for taking extreme risks at the expense of working people, who get no such help if they got into financial trouble? Everyone needs to don the yellow vests & fight back against the crooks running this corrupt Neolibral, Neofeudal, Obligarchy now running the World! Thank you yellow vests & the French people for leading the way & setting the example on how to take our World back from scumbags like Macron & his elk!

  45. mrtmbrnmn
    December 5, 2018 at 20:40

    Macron = Obama (EU version). Invented out of thin air to close the Neo-Liberal dirty deal for all time.

    Aux barricades!!! Aux armes, citoyens!! Let the tumbrils roll!! Bring back the guillotine! Revo-lution!!!

    Or: As Samson said to Delilah before bringing down the Temple on the corrupt bosses & priests. “I don’t care if it falls on me, D, as long as it falls on THEM!!

    • KiwiAntz
      December 5, 2018 at 21:51

      Love that comment? So true! Bring it on! VIVA la French yellow vests!

    • Tom Ratliff
      December 6, 2018 at 02:16

      “Rise, like lions after slumber,
      In unvanquishable number!”

  46. Sam F
    December 5, 2018 at 20:00

    Excellent presentation and analysis by Diana Johnstone.

    I quibble with the use of the term “liberal” as adopted by right-wingers to disguise their right-wing “neoliberal” economic and foreign policies. Nothing liberal about it. We haven’t “lost” the left, but are misusing the terms.

    Also flogging the 1960s generation as “spoiled” is far from any of my experience. We worked hard and suffered career losses for our true liberalism. There are a few dissipated persons in every generation: no need to adopt right-wing denunciations.

  47. December 5, 2018 at 18:46

    “Today, many leftists seem terrified of popular movements for change, convinced “populism” must lead to “fascism”. This attitude is one of many factors indicating that the changes ahead will not be led by the left as it exists today. Those who fear change will not be there to help make it happen. But change is inevitable and it need not be for the worse.”

    – Thank you for that very important observation Diana.

  48. DH Fabian
    December 5, 2018 at 18:10

    By now, I can’t even imagine the US seeing a movement for legitimate socio-economic justice, in large part because the liberal media in particular have worked against it since at least the 1990s. Because history tends to repeat, we expected to see a backlash against the hard right ideology of the Reagan/Bush faction. That didn’t happen. Instead, the liberal bourgeoisie effectively normalized it by simply ignoring the consequences of deregulated capitalism — US poverty. What we call “the left” embraced much of the worst of the right, bringing us to this unfortunate point.

  49. Jay
    December 5, 2018 at 17:59

    “As everybody knows, what set off the protest movement was yet another rise in gasoline taxes.”

    Well, no it was an increase in the diesel tax. More than half of all passenger cars in France run on diesel, which is NOT gasoline (AKA petrol). And almost all small delivery vans use diesel, not petrol/gasoline.

    I don’t believe there was an increase in the petrol/gasoline tax, since that burns cleaner than diesel and one of the excuses for the tax increase was to get diesel cars off the roads.

    I only note this here because it’s a mistake that the NY Times has made more than once, having gone so far on Tues Dec 4th to pretend that the French president rescinding the “gasoline tax increase” had any meaning to the yellow vest protesters. No, the New York Times didn’t fix this.

    • Tom Ratliff
      December 6, 2018 at 02:12

      From the article:

      “And the tax announced by the government – an additional 6.6 cents per liter for diesel and an additional 2.9 centers per liter of gasoline – are only the first steps in a series of planned increases over the next years.”

    • nowbuystuu
      December 6, 2018 at 02:34

      Useful comment.

      I noticed a reference to previous incentives to buy diesel vehicles but couldn’t quite put two and two together.

      December 6, 2018 at 03:52

      French diesel prices now 1,50 euros per litre here in the south of France; and due to go up again in January. In all probability the public outrage a gut-reaction to MACRON reforms like changes to French wealth tax reduced to only tax property; over one million euros. Rampant class divisions in France have now been violently exposed. For example employment taxes making it difficult to run any small business. Reforming France never an easy task especially with MACRON (the former banker) totally unaware of the real suffering in the lower ranks. Recall Thomas Picketty the French economist in CAPITAL warned that society is on a precipice with the rich enjoying their privileges with offshore bank accounts avoiding any taxes. France not alone; Britain also allows companies registered offshore like the GUARDIAN. Evidently society facing inconsistencies not fully understood. MACRON only helps the rich as the inescapable conclusion.

      • James Robbins
        December 9, 2018 at 03:55

        Thanks for the carbon tax info. From what I have read this is only the beginning:

        “’This is a progressive tax that grows every year according to a supposed price of carbon per ton of CO2, which is to reach 100 euros in 2030!’ the journalist remarked. ‘In 2015 it was at 14.5 euros, in 2017 — 22 euros in 2017, in 2018 — 44.6 euros and so on.’ ”

    • Michael A.
      December 6, 2018 at 04:28

      Diesel IS petroleum-based. Either way, for the purposes of this—a political article, it’s a distinction without a difference.

    • Michael A.
      December 6, 2018 at 06:08

      Diesel IS petroleum based, just like gasoline; it’s just a different fraction. Regardless, for a political article, it is a distinction without a difference.

      • Skip
        December 10, 2018 at 11:41

        Today’s diesel is petroleum based. I believe the inventor of the diesel engine actually first used peanut oil.

    • Gene Poole
      December 6, 2018 at 07:31

      The tax hikes set for January and now postponed for six months were 6.5 cents *per liter* for diesel and 2.9 cents for gasoline. The price of both diesel and gasoline had already risen 10 to 15 cents *per liter* in a year (source: FranceInfo news channel).

      As for the use of the revenue from the tax, it is not earmarked for measures to make electric cars affordable to people who now drive diesel cars, for example. 80% was to go into the general fund and so would compensate for loss of revenue due to the Macron administration’s cancellation of the wealth tax.

    • TomG
      December 6, 2018 at 14:33

      FYI, it was both as noted elsewhere and in Ms. Johnstone’s post here. “…an additional 6.6 cents per liter for diesel and an additional 2.9 centers per liter of gasoline.”

    December 5, 2018 at 17:45

    BRAVO! once again to our brilliant American in Paris, who drills down the roots of complex dilemmas and comes up with such clarity and color in an otherwise grim, gray world. Write on!

  51. Janet Morgan
    December 5, 2018 at 17:41

    Shades of 1848-marchons citoyens

  52. John Kirsch
    December 5, 2018 at 17:39

    Excellent article.
    We can thank Macron for one thing: without meaning to, he’s done much to discredit neo-liberalism. Or rather he’s helped make the essential fraudulence of the idea painfully obvious.

    • Susan Sunflower
      December 5, 2018 at 19:47

      Given how badly this was rolled out, lack of preparations and work-around options for “the little guy”, he also destroyed any claims to being some fair-minded technocrat or problem solver. “Punishing” the little guy by making him carry so much of the weight of this rather hare-brained (raise taxes, raise prices, consumption will fall) scheme.
      Various schemes to reduce consumption have been tried across the globe for decades now …. this was shoot-own-foot stupid…. Much of the rural area (where the protesters come from) have poor to no public transport ….

      Was this possibly deliberate provocation? Even more badly planned and executed to demonstrate the little Napoleon’s “resolve” …. he’s not good at this game.

    • Dave P.
      December 5, 2018 at 20:29

      Yes. An excellent article, very timely. Good observation about Macron, I agree.

  53. Al Pinto
    December 5, 2018 at 16:42

    Well, what will the French Government do, if and when the police will side with the Yellow Vests? It’s not like it did not happen before:

    It seems like the US style of capitalism has spread to Western European countries and the role of the government had changed, from providing support for people to corporations.

  54. Ort
    December 5, 2018 at 16:42

    Once again, Diana Johnstone provides reporting and analysis that exhibits profound intelligence, thoughtfulness, clarity, and wit.

    I have an expatriate relative living in France who is genuinely leftist in many respects, although he remains a “moderate” in temperament and character. I was disappointed, and even mildly surprised, when he reverted to reactionary disapproval of the protests during their first days.

    He was clearly alarmed, if not frightened, by the scope of the protests; I can sympathize with his emotional response– after all, he’s “in the middle” of the crisis, and I’m a continent away. Still, his first impressions expressed the same skeptical criticisms Johnstone thoroughly rebuts and refutes: he wondered if the “yellow vests” were proof that the protests are being instigated or exacerbated by some sinister external force, i.e. another fake “color revolution”.

    More surprisingly, he also expressed sudden sympathy for Macron’s position, even though he regards Macron as an “empty suit”; that is, he clucked that the disputed gasoline taxes were enacted for a good reason (preserving the environment)– therefore, weren’t the protests inherently irrational, misguided, “selfish”, and ill-advised?

    I haven’t argued with him about this, and now I have a dilemma: he actually admires Ms. Johnstone, as I do, so I’ll probably recommend this article. But, unless he’s had time to think through his initial horror and dismay, it will only upset him more.

    • Random guy
      December 6, 2018 at 13:39

      Sounds like your relative is an emotional child who projects onto others. How selfish is it to put your own emotions higher than other human beings?

  55. Tom Graf
    December 5, 2018 at 16:22

    Thank you, Ms. Johnstone, for the best analysis I’ve seen on this rebellion. Needless to say, MSM coverage remains pathetic.

    “Emmanuel Macron was an artificial product sold to the electorate by an extraordinary media campaign.” Not unlike the marketing of Obama (and it must be said, Trump) as a man of the people when clearly beholden to plutocrats and oligarchs and the ‘security’ services that ensure their control. And of course, Obama campaigned in support of Macron…that was us not interfering in another country’s election.

    • Will
      December 11, 2018 at 10:17

      in support of macron or deeply concerned about his neo-fascist opponent?

  56. Antares
    December 5, 2018 at 16:15

    It is not for sure that the French voted for Macron.

  57. John A
    December 5, 2018 at 15:51

    What is most interesting, and I live in France, is that he has been totally absent in terms of public appearances, leaving the explaining to the prime minister and other spokespersons. He is a total coward. Having previously hautily dismissed any possibility of a change of plan, when change of plan came, he was nowhere to be seen in public.

    • Anne Jaclard
      December 5, 2018 at 18:08

      I’ve heard from some who have contacts with comrades in France that some local protests are dominated by the far-right but in most, they have been kicked out. The left has also been unable to control the movement, which remains apolitical. I do know that the entire French left, including the Communists, Melenchon’s France Insoumise, the Trotskyists and almost all anarchists support the Yellow Vests at least critically. At the same time I’ve seen some of the most anti-Semitic rhetoric ever among some movement supporters. From what I gather from reports the movement was initiated by right-leaning people but now is out of the control of anyone, and has been joined by left wing and progressive high school students (gassed and even killed by Macron’s CRS). The neocon left/neoliberals have attacked the movement as red-brown and “Russia-backed” (of course). Apparently the Integrity Initiative (UK/NATO-funded disinformation op that has smeared the Labour left, Die Linke, and SYRIZA) has been attacking the movement on their Twitter feed along with those in the “clusters” (Anne Applebaum and others). They even retweeted PropOrNot, which, as one user pointed out, “pops up wherever and whenever neoliberalism needs to be defended.” I say support the movement and push it left.

    • Susan Sunflower
      December 5, 2018 at 19:52

      Dangerous … and opens the door for alliances with the similarly disgruntled folks in neighboring / interacting countries which ultimately is the “real fear” …. more articles on how the right populists are funded by transnational deep pockets.

      December 6, 2018 at 04:52

      Out of touch leaders…de rigueur? It all started with THATCHER BLAIR and CAMERON listening to their vanity?

  58. mike k
    December 5, 2018 at 15:38

    As always, the rich are the problem. As long as huge wealth disparity exists, there will be evils of every imaginable kind, and eventually the human world will be destroyed by greed and oppression.

    • JRGJRG
      December 5, 2018 at 17:40

      …but not just the rich! The German rich! The Germans trying to dominate all the other countries in the EU through their financial muscle.
      This is an insurmountable culture clash.
      Thatcher was right when she opposed UK support for the EU, saying it would surely become dominated by a resurgent Germany, as in the past.

      • Josep
        December 7, 2018 at 22:15

        While I understand your concern, however, would a British- or French-dominated EU be any better? That aside, I’d personally be more afraid of an Anglo-Zionist Fourth Reich than a “German-dominated” EU, especially when Germany and many other EU members remain vassal states of the USA.

  59. Jeff Harrison
    December 5, 2018 at 13:52

    Interesting. I had suggested calling them Yellow Jackets instead of Yellow Vests earlier this very morning. For all that “The West” still think that they are the masters of the Universe, they are not. And, while we do have a climate change problem, it is not caused by humans but rather by some things that humans are doing (which isn’t quite the same thing) and CO2 has nothing to do with it. Heat is the kinetic energy of motion of atoms and molecules. To “trap” it you have to trap the atoms and molecules that possess it. CO2 can’t do that.

    • checking post
      December 6, 2018 at 09:56

      checking posts.

    • KHawk
      December 6, 2018 at 11:51

      I believe you need a refresher course in Greenhouse Gases and the Greenhouse Effect. CO2 is the second most abundant greenhouse gas in the Earth’s atmosphere and a major contributor to the greenhouse effect in it’s ability to “absorb and emit radiant energy within the thermal infrared range.”

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