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French Democracy Dead or Alive?, by Diana Johnstone

French Democracy Dead or Alive?, by Diana Johnstone

Paris, France, 9 January 2019

French Democracy Dead or Alive? Or maybe one ought to say, buried or revived? As a result of for the mass of bizarre individuals, removed from the political, monetary, media facilities of energy in Paris, democracy is already moribund, and their motion is an effort to reserve it. Ever since Margaret Thatcher decreed that “there is no alternative”, Western financial coverage is made by technocrats for the good thing about monetary markets, claiming that such advantages will trickle right down to the populace. The trickle has largely dried up, and individuals are uninterested in having their wants and needs completely ignored by an elite who “know best”.

President Emmanuel Macron’s New Yr’s Eve handle to the nation made it completely clear that after one unconvincing stab at throwing a couple of crumbs to the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) protest motion, he has decided to get robust

France is getting into a interval of turmoil. The state of affairs could be very complicated, however listed here are a couple of factors to assist grasp what that is all about.

The Yellow Vests collect in conspicuous locations the place they are often seen: the Champs-Elysées in Paris, most important squares in different cities cities, and the quite a few visitors circles on the sting of small cities. In contrast to conventional demonstrations, the Paris marches have been very unfastened and spontaneous, individuals simply strolling round and speaking to one another, with no leaders and no speeches.

The absence of leaders is inherent within the motion. All politicians, even pleasant ones, are mistrusted and nobody is in search of a brand new chief.

Individuals are organizing their very own conferences to develop their lists of grievances and calls for.

Within the village of Commercy, Lorraine, a half hour drive from Domrémy the place Jeanne d’Arc was born, inhabitants collect to learn their proclamation. Six of them learn in turns, a paragraph every, making it fairly clear that they need no leaders, no particular spokesperson. They often stumble over a phrase, they don’t seem to be used to talking in public just like the TV speaking heads. Their “Second appeal of the Gilets Jaunes de Commercy invites others to come to Commercy on January 26-27 for an “assembly of assemblies”.

The individuals who first went out within the streets sporting Yellow Vests final November 17 have been ostensibly protesting towards a hike in gasoline and diesel taxes that might hit individuals in rural France the toughest. Obsessive about favoring “world cities”, the French authorities has taken one measure after one other on the expense of small cities and villages and the individuals who reside there. That was simply the final straw. The motion quickly moved on to the essential challenge: the appropriate of the individuals to have a say in measures taken that have an effect on their lives. Democracy, in a phrase.

For many years, events of the left and of the fitting, no matter their marketing campaign speeches, as soon as in workplace pursue insurance policies dictated by “the markets”. Because of this, individuals have misplaced confidence in all events and all politicians and are demanding new methods to get their needs heard.

The gasoline tax was quickly forgotten because the listing of calls for grew longer. Critics of the motion notice that attaining so many calls for is sort of unimaginable. It’s no use listening to fashionable calls for, as a result of the foolish individuals ask for every thing and its reverse.

That objection is answered by what has shortly emerged as the only overriding demand of the motion: the Residents’ Initiative Referendum (CIR).

This demand illustrates the great sense of the motion. Quite than making a “must” listing, the GJ merely ask that the individuals be allowed to decide on, and the referendum is the best way to decide on. The demand is for a sure variety of signatories – maybe 700,000, maybe extra – to realize the fitting to name a referendum on a problem of their selection. The correct to a CIR exists in Switzerland, Italy and California. The thought horrifies all these whose career it’s to know greatest. If the individuals vote, they’ll vote for all types of absurd issues, the better-knowers observe with a shudder.

A modest instructor in a junior school in Marseilles, Etienne Chouard, has been creating for many years concepts on methods to manage direct democracy, with the referendum at its middle. His hour has include the Yellow Vests. He insists that a referendum should all the time be held after an extended debate and time for reflection, to keep away from emotional spur-of-the-moment selections. Such a referendum requires trustworthy, unbiased media which aren’t all owned by particular pursuits. It requires ensuring that politicians who make the legal guidelines comply with the favored will expressed within the referendum. All this means the necessity for a individuals’s constitutional conference.

The referendum is a bitter level in France, a strong silent underlying explanation for the entire Gilets Jaunes motion. In 2005, President Chirac (unwisely from his perspective) referred to as for a well-liked referendum on ratification of the proposed Structure of the European Union, sure it will be accredited. The political class, with a couple of exceptions, went into full rhetoric, claiming a affluent future as a brand new world energy beneath the brand new Structure and warning that in any other case Europe could be plunged again into World Wars I and II. Nevertheless, unusual residents organized a unprecedented motion of well-liked self-education, as teams met to pour via the daunting legalistic paperwork, elucidating what they meant and what they implied. On Might 29, 2005, with a turnout of 68%, the French voted 55% to reject the Structure. Solely Paris voted closely in favor.

Three years later, the Nationwide Meeting – that’s, politicians off all events – voted to undertake nearly the identical textual content, which in 2009 turned the Treaty of Lisbon.

That blow to the clearly expressed fashionable will produced such disillusion that many backed helplessly away from politics. Now they’re coming again.

From the beginning, the federal government has reacted with violence, in an obvious want to impress responding violence so as to condemn the motion as violent.

A military of police, dressed like robots, have surrounded and blocked teams of peaceable Yellow Vests, drowning them in clouds of teargas and firing flash balls immediately at protesters, significantly wounding lots of (no official figures). Various individuals have misplaced an eye fixed or a hand. The federal government has nothing to say about this.

On the third Saturday of protest, this military of police was unable to cease – or underneath orders to permit – numerous hoodlums or Black Blocs (who is aware of?) to infiltrate the motion and smash property, vandalize outlets, set hearth to trash cans and parked automobiles, offering the world media with photographs proving that the Yellow Vests are dangerously violent.

Regardless of all this provocation, the Gilets Jaunes have remained remarkably calm and decided. However there are sure to be a number of individuals who lose their tempers and attempt to battle again.

On the eighth Saturday, January 5, a squad of plexiglass-protected police have been violently attacking Gilets Jaunes on a bridge over the Seine when an enormous man misplaced his mood, emerged from the gang and went on the assault. Together with his fists, he beat down one policeman and prompted the others to retreat. This superb scene was filmed. You may see Yellow Vests making an attempt to carry him again, however Rambo was unstoppable.

It turned out that this was Christophe Dettinger, a French Rom, former mild heavyweight boxing champion of France. His nickname is “the Gypsy of Massy”. He acquired away from the scene, however made a video earlier than turning himself in. “I reacted badly”, he stated, when he noticed police attacking ladies and different defenseless individuals. He urged the motion to go forward peacefully.

Dettinger faces seven years in jail. Inside a day, his protection fund had gathered 116,433 euros. The federal government shut it down – on what authorized pretext I don’t know. Now a petition circulates on his behalf.

In his New Yr’s Eve tackle, Macron patronizingly scolded his individuals telling them that “you can’t work less and earn more” – as if all of them aspired to spending their lives lounging on a yacht and watching inventory costs rise and fall.

Then he issued his declaration of struggle:

“These days I have seen unthinkable things and heard the unacceptable.” Apparently alluding to the few opposition politicians who dare sympathize with the protesters, he chastised those that fake to “speak for the people”, however are solely the “spokesmen for a hateful mob going after elected representatives, police, journalists, Jews, foreigners and homosexuals. It is simply the negation of France.”

The Gilets Jaunes haven’t been “going after” anyone. The police have been “going after” them. Individuals have certainly spoken up vigorously towards digital camera crews of channels that systematically distort the motion.

Not a phrase has been heard from the motion towards foreigners or homosexuals.

The important thing phrase is Jews.

Qui veut noyer son chien l’accuse de la rage. (French proverb).

Because the French saying goes, whoever needs to drown his canine claims he has rabies. At present whoever needs to break a profession, take vengeance on a rival, shame a person or destroy a motion accuses her, him, or it of antisemitism.

So, confronted with a rising democratic motion, enjoying the “antisemitism” card was inevitable. It was virtually a positive factor statistically. In virtually any random batch of tons of of hundreds of individuals, you may discover one or two who’ve one thing unfavourable to say a few Jew. That’ll do it. The media hawks are on the outlook. The slightest incident can be utilized to recommend that the actual motive of the motion is to revive the Holocaust.

This gently ironic little track, carried out on one in every of France’s visitors circles, contrasts the “nice” institution with the “bad” bizarre people. It’s a large hit on YouTube. It provides the tone of the motion. Les Gentils et les Méchants.

It didn’t take lengthy for this merry quantity to be accused of antisemitism. Why? As a result of it was paradoxically devoted to 2 of the very most virulent critics of the Gilets Jaunes: Might ’68 star Daniel Cohn-Bendit and previous “new philosopher” Bernard-Henri Lévy. The brand new era can’t stand them. However wait, they occur to be Jewish. Aha! Anti-Semitism!

Confronted with what authorities spokesman Benjamin Griveaux described as “agitators” and “insurrectionists” who need to “overthrow the government”, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe introduced a brand new “law to better protect the right to demonstrate”. Its essential measure: closely punish organizers of an indication whose time and place haven’t had official approval.

In reality, the police had already arrested 33-year-old truck driver Eric Drouet for organizing a small candle ceremony in honor of the motion’s casualties. There have been many different arrests, with no info popping out about them. (By the way, over the vacations, hoodlums within the banlieues of a number of cities carried out their ritual burning of parked automobiles, with no specific publicity or crackdown. These have been automobiles of working class individuals who want them to go to work, not the valuable automobiles within the wealthy part of Paris whose destruction prompted such scandal.)

On January 7, Luc Ferry, a “philosopher” and former Minister of Youth, Schooling and Analysis, gave a radio interview on the very respectable Radio Classique during which he declared: “The police are not given the means to end this violence. It’s unbearable. Listen, frankly, when you see guys kick a poor policemen when he’s down, that’s enough! Let them use their arms once and for all, basta! […] As I recall, we have the world’s fourth army, capable of putting an end to this garbage.”

Ferry referred to as on Macron to make a coalition with the Republicans in an effort to push by way of his “reforms”.

Final month, in a column towards the Residents’ Initiative Referendum, Ferry wrote that “the current disparaging of experts and criticism of elitism is the worst calamity of our times.”

Wherever individuals collect, Antifa teams might pursue their indiscriminate search to root out “fascists”. In Bordeaux final Saturday, Yellow Vests needed to struggle off an assault by Antifa.

It’s now utterly clear (as certainly it all the time has been) that the self-styled “Antifascists” are the watch canine of the established order. Of their tireless seek for “fascists”, the Antifa assault something that strikes. In impact, they shield stagnation. And curiously sufficient, Antifa violence is tolerated by the identical State and the identical police who insult, assault and arrest extra peaceable demonstrators. Briefly, the Antifa are the storm troopers of the present system.

Be skeptical. At the very least in France, mainstream media are solidly on the aspect of “order”, which means Macron, and overseas media are likely to echo what nationwide media write and say. Additionally, as a common rule, in relation to France, the Anglophone media typically get it flawed.

It isn’t in sight. This is probably not a revolution, however it’s a revelation of the actual nature of “the system”. Energy lies with a technocracy within the service of “the Markets”, which means the facility of finance capital. This technocracy aspires to remake human society, our personal societies and people everywhere in the planet, within the pursuits of a sure capitalism. It makes use of financial sanctions, overwhelming propaganda and army drive (NATO) in a “globalization” challenge that shapes individuals’s lives with out their consent. Macron is the very embodiment of this technique. He was chosen by that well-known elite to hold by means of the measures dictated by “the Markets”, enforced by the European Union. He can’t give in. However now that individuals are awake to what’s going on, they gained’t cease both. For all of the lamented decline within the faculty system, the French individuals at the moment are as well-educated and affordable as any inhabitants might be anticipated to be. If they’re incapable of democracy, then democracy is unattainable.

To be continued…