The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

France:
“Yellow Vest” Protests and Possibilities

Jan 7, 2019

What follows are excerpts from editorials of the revolutionary working class organization Lutte Ouvière in France. They address a nationwide movement against the rising cost of living called the “Yellow Vest” protests.

The name derives from the yellow hazard vests that protestors wear, which have become a symbol of their economic distress. At their peak, the demonstrations numbered half a million protestors.

When protests began, the President of France – Macron – swore he would never back down. But in December, he backed down! A new gas tax at the pump, set to begin January 1, 2019, was not implemented.

Workers Have the Right to Exist: They Must Impose This on the Capitalists

... Prime Minister Philippe says that the government “should have listened more” and promises that it will be more attentive from now on. Whatever the future holds for the yellow vest movement, the reasons for the anger won’t disappear just because of a few fine-sounding words.

... The yellow vest movement has brought one of the many problems facing workers out into the open: in one of the richest countries in the world, wages are insufficient to live decently. The owners are responsible for this. But it doesn’t have to stay this way.

Let 2019 Be the Year that the Working Class Fights Back!

... As one demonstrator said, “We don’t want to eat crumbs any more!” Macron’s reversal on the gas tax only touch one part of the working class and only represent a few euros that will be returned to our pockets.

... The last week of December there were spectacular crashes and rebounds in the world financial markets. At the end of 2018, we could say that last year was the worst in ten years for the financial markets, and that we might be on the brink of a recession. Whether this is a temporary trembling of the economy, or a new crash, the capitalist class is incapable of getting itself out of the crisis.

And that class will try to make workers and ordinary layers of the world’s population pay for the problems it creates, through the intensification of exploitation, the increase in unemployment, and the degradation of our standard of living.

For good reason, many people find the demand that Macron and his government of the rich step down legitimate. But it is also legitimate and even more necessary to contest the dictatorship of the big bosses over the economy. It is the work of millions of workers that makes the society run. There is no reason that we should have to submit to the whims of the capitalists to keep our jobs or to earn enough to live decently.

The end of 2018 showed that ordinary people are capable of mobilizing, of demanding their right to a dignified life. In 2019, that anger and mobilization must spread to the workplaces. The workers have the power, with our fights and our strikes, to push back the capitalists. We can engage the fight for a general raise, for pension increases, and for improved social programs. We can impose what is needed for the whole world of the workers. We can throw out this economic system that is leading all of society toward an impasse!