Mar 4, 2019
The following article was translated from Lutte Ouvrière, the newspaper of the French revolutionary workers’ group of that name.
Three months after the November 17 demonstration, the fourteenth mobilization of the yellow vests assembled tens of thousands of demonstrators on Saturday, February 16. A group of researchers counted more than 100,000 people in 148 towns.
The participants in the movement have to stand up to a derogatory campaign orchestrated by those who put themselves in the camp of French President Macron and the government, out of a political choice or opportunism. Their condescension comes through with each declaration of a minister who, as if they were schoolmasters, but less benevolent, know only how to inflame the persistent anger.
Neither the “That’s enough!” of Castener, nor the insults of his Secretary of State Nunez, who called the Yellow Vests “savage hordes,” can silence this anger. Neither the show of big debates from which, finally, miraculously, proposals emerge which are already inscribed in Macron’s reforms, nor repeated police violence, and still less the disinformation of the media, can stem this spirit of revolt among the poorest.
Of course, the long duration of this movement, which finishes by turning around the round-abouts, in the majority of cases until they are kicked off by the police, makes its participants tired. And the groups of the far-right, hostile to the demands of the workers, unemployed, and retirees among the yellow vests, are also trying to find a way to take advantage of the demonstrations. It goes without saying that the mobilization of the yellow vests deserves the support of all the workers.
The untenable situations that the Yellow Vests expose and denounce have not been reduced. Unemployment, precarious jobs, insufficient wages and pensions, the fall in workers’ buying power, the rise in prices, including that of gas, the inexorable degradation of services for the population, these sources of the population’s anger are not going away. To the contrary, despite Macron’s words, nothing has been done, other than further attacks on the working class, including the rise in the price of food, cuts to the health and school systems, and threats against the unemployed. “We cannot live with dignity from our work”, “Unemployment is poverty, the old no longer have any more to eat”, we could still hear these chants during the demonstrations of February 16.
The reasons for the anger of the population remain, and the movement of the yellow vests continues to raise the problem of a society where a minority of capitalists enrich themselves by impoverishing the majority. This is the problem for all workers.