FRANCE: Yellow Vests Arrested as Protests Enter 45th Week

Photo: Yellow Vest demonstrators in Paris set fire to barricades and trash bins this past weekend

By Mike Talavera

The Yellow Vest movement entered its 45th week last weekend, its latest instance of rebellion sounding like a thunderclap in Paris. Thousands of police, tear gas canisters, and security checkpoints could not stop windows and doors from being smashed, street barricades and dumpsters being ignited, and graffiti sprayed on banks and other storefronts. By the end of the weekend, police had arrested over 100 protesters, but the foundations of French society had been rattled once again.

Riot police attempt to crackdown on Yellow Vest protesters in Paris

Beginning in November 2018 in response to rising fuel prices and other cuts to social services, the protests have transformed into a general confrontation with the French state, which has escalated its methods of repression in a vain attempt to undermine the movement. In February of this year, the National Assembly passed a law that makes it easier for authorities to institute protest bans against particular groups in a blatant example of silencing political dissent.

While a protest against climate change and another against pension reform had been approved by the state, the Yellow Vests did not have authorization, which the police used as a pretext for their crackdown against all the protests.

The bourgeois media has consistently portrayed the Yellow Vest movement as losing momentum, but each recurring protest has contradicted this false narrative. Likewise, president Emmanuel Macron has been unable to appease the anger of the masses with reforms, this week announcing a new set of tax cuts in another hopeless effort to squash the rage of workers, immigrants, and others.

What Macron and the French bourgeoisie fail to understand is that these reforms only sharpen the class lines that the Yellow Vest movement has helped bring into relief. This protest has illustrated once more the bourgeois state’s antagonistic relationship with the masses. With every act of police brutality against marchers, the proposed reforms lose a degree of credibility. Instead, they appear more like the blows of the baton, as another method the state uses to beat back the masses.

As the French state is compelled to throw everything it has against the people, it will only strengthen the Yellow Vests and the larger revolutionary movement, which has proven yet again that it can withstand the lashing out of a dying state. Yellow Vest political prisoners like Comrade Théo serve as inspiring examples of revolutionary optimism and dedication, they show that even when the reactionary state attempts to lock them away in dungeons to crush the movement, they bring the struggle with them and turn the jails into shining trenches of combat.