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Beware the Yellow Vests

By Christian Marx

Any keen observer of geopolitics will by now be well acquainted with the Yellow Vests in France. This remarkable movement is primarily anti-capitalist in tone. The French people have had enough of the crippling austerity of neoliberal capitalism. Unlike America or Australia, the people of France have a robust class consciousness.

Unfortunately, Australia is not so blessed. Years of adulterated consumer culture and an almost universal monopoly on our media landscape has produced a culture of extreme narcism and a lack of the most rudimentary insight into our political landscape and the machine driving it.

The French have a deep history of tackling extreme inequality. The most famous period in their history is the period of 1789-1794, known as the French Revolution. The rich were disposed of in a prolonged and very bloody coup. How did it become so frenzied and bloodthirsty? Millions wanted to eat and were starving, while the decadent bourgeoisie filled their bloated bellies with the blood of the working class. One could argue that they were metaphorical vampires. Feasting on the carcasses of the poor, this elderly, the sick, and even children’s misery.

Australia is not quite at the levels of poverty the French had to contend with circa 1789, but alarm bells should be ringing among the populace. Take a walk through the streets of any major city during the day. You will see hundreds of rough sleepers in the main streets. Contrast this with 25 years ago and there was not a single homeless person in sight. I can remember Melbourne of the late 80s/early 90s and it is unrecognisable compared to today.

How did it get this way? The cancer of neoliberal capitalism. Basically, an economic and social theory that puts the profits of the few ahead of the needs of a society. Social safety nets are smashed, jobs are outsourced, and public utilities are sold off to crony offsiders. See here for an in-depth description.

While the Yellow Vests in France are to be lauded for their courage, an insidious synthesis has created a new breed and very different beast of Yellow Vest movement in Australia. Instead of tackling the prime cause of our current dilemma (neoliberal capitalism), these nefarious agents are scapegoating immigrants and pushing a very dangerous notion of ultra-nationalism. This author has visited many Yellow Vest pages and movements operating in and around Australia. Many are ignoring rampant inequality and misrepresenting the true meaning of the Yellow Vests in France.

The far-right and Libertarian capitalists have used the very left-wing France Yellow Vests as a cover for their own agenda of either scapegoating minorities or as in the case with the Libertarians blaming the Macron government for being too socialist. This is absurd as Socialists do not work as investment bankers and they do not enforce austerity on the working class while providing massive tax subsidies for the very rich. Macron has done both. Also, for those who may be intellectually challenged, just because a political party has the word “Socialist” in their title does not make them in any way socialist! A classic example is the Nazi Party who were the “National Socialist Workers Party.” Funnily enough the Nazis hated unions and threw Marxists, Socialists and Unions into the concentration camps along with the Slavs, Gypsies, Jews, intellectuals and anyone else who challenged their Fascist agenda.

Using mere semantics, we could argue that the Democrats in the U.S are democratic. Their railroading of Bernie Sanders in favour of Hilary Clinton would suggest otherwise.

The same could be said of The Democratic Republic of North Korea. Is it truly democratic?

The only Yellow Vests page I have found to be close to the ethos of the French Yellow Vests is this page. This movement is actually exposing neoliberal capitalism and fighting against racism, Fascism and other right wing movement who are piggy backing onto a legitimately progressive movement in France. I urge you all to be very careful when visiting the array of Yellow Vest pages springing up in Australia. Many are not what they seem.

Christian Marx is a political and social activist interested in making the world a fairer place. He has a Bachelor of Social Science and has a keen interest in sociology, politics and history. He was one of the organizers of the March in March rallies in Melbourne and is the founder of the progressive news and information page, “Don`t Look At This Page”, and is also a co-founder of “The Global Revolution” website.

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  1. Andreas Bimba

    The backers of the populist right and extreme right are the same wealthy neoliberal elite that pulls the strings in all the important areas for the duopoly – the heavily neoliberal LNP and the neoliberal-lite ALP. Ruperts rags and the shock jocks are involved through peddling bigotry, the hatred of refugees, muslims, unions, the unemployed, those on welfare support, greenies, climate scientists and so on.

    If the electorate tires of the duopoly then Hanson, Bernardi, Katter and other even more right wing nutters will be offered with lots of electoral funding to the electorate as the alternate puppets.

    What can we do? Join the ALP and try to organise for internal change, join the Greens or other micro parties and independents that understand and reject the neoliberal disaster of the last 30+ years.

  2. Andrew Chambers

    Sadly, there has been a marked rise in violent exciteable youths and their social media pages who want to use the yellow vests as an excuse to kick some heads in whether they’re from the Left or Right. Violence IS NOT the core motivation or action of the vast majority of those participating in the Yellow Vest movement in France.

    This is a deeply significant social uprising in the face of the latest betrayal by a professional political class that relies on marketing a message rather than delivering on it. Modern politics is a promissory note written on a bankrupt currency. No more election promises, it’s time for the evolution of power and a return of Democracy from being representative to being personal.

    We have the means, the tools are being prepared and the people are rising, such a pity none of our media will discuss it.

    I could keep adding links for days – you just need to understand the power you have and grab the tools to make the change we need

  3. John

    Three references to check out re the situation we are now all in – the brutal “logic” of postmodern capitalism.
    The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff
    Trust Nothing by John Steppling – Counterpunch Feb 1st
    The World Is A Business by Eugene McCarrahar on the Baffler website

  4. John

    Another reference to check out re the Brexit mess. A long essay titled At Least You Can Leave
    It is featured on the Crooked Timber website

  5. whatever

    As regards Brexit, new Tax Avoidance laws coming into force in E.U. The money laundering community in London is safe to carry on business.

  6. josephus

    ‘whatever,’ your comment needs explaining. Because of EU laws the tax havens that are Britain Overseas, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar have had to enforce some controls at least over their off shore shady money laundering enterprises.
    Note however that Turnbull’s Caymans account is untouched and he is not made to repatriate his wealth- what good the Banking Commission here, then? In the EU some controls now exist whereas here in Oz no one takes Turnbull and his mates to Court.
    Iceland is not in the EU but thanks to its proximity to EU member states its PM had to resign after 3 days post Panama Papers revelations. Did he return the funds he smuggled abroad , however?
    Amusing to hear a Queensland Mayor on ABC Radio yesterday blame public anger over water theft on ‘communists’. No one challenged her to define who these nefarious schemers were. So anyone who deplores theft is a ‘communist’.

  7. DrakeN


    In today’s IPA, LNP, & extreme christian minds even Vlad the Destroyer would be called communist.

    No doubt they consider Genghis Khan to have been a bleeding heart socialist.

  8. Zathras

    I’ve been wondering how different things would be in France now if Marine Le Pen and her National Front Party had won the last election.

    Somehow I think the Far Right would be significantly less tolerant of acts of civil unrest. Chances are the Yellow vests could be confronted with some people wearing brown shirts with a much different agenda.

  9. JohnF

    Zathras, as Le Pen is a firstly a populist and nationalist (despite the press depiction) it is unlikely the need for the movement would have arisen.

    The French state’s violence against the yellow vests is well documented.
    Eyewitnesses repeatedly report the breakers are ignored by the police who instead target the vestees.

    Civilians in Police Crosshairs as France Adopts Totalitarian Tactics to Squash Yellow Vests

    An astroturf movement called the red scarves protesting for the staus quo has recently appeared.

  10. Matters Not

    JohnF, re your two links and perhaps more importantly (I don’t claim to know too much about the issue) is that the authors are prone to cite each other. Indeed there’s an element of reinforcement that run through your citations. Further they are both valued by Zero Hedge described – where its editorial has been labelled by some as being associated with the “alt-right”.

    Because I’m not on the ground and there is/are so many claims made (and info available) that I resort to checking the source. What about you? Or are you a primary source?

  11. JohnF

    Hi Matters Not

    Vanessa Beeley lives in France and had done excellent reporting from within Syria during the conflict. As far as I can tell she is independent, left-leaning, but an old school style journalist.
    I had never seen the author of the second piece before, but Strategic Culture does excellent background and context pieces on geopolitics.
    Zero Hedge has a strong pro-capitalist agenda, though I visit it most days as it carries breaking news. As Dmitri Orlov says, “a lot of people have been voicing the opinion that Venezuela’s woes are due to socialism. According to them, it’s fine if lots of people are suffering as long as their government is capitalist, but if it is socialist then that’s the wrong kind of suffering and their government deserves to be overthrown even if they all voted for it. For example, the site ZeroHedge, which often publishes useful information and analysis, has been pushing this line of thinking ad nauseam.”

  12. Kaye Lee

    This is another damning article about Beeley

    How An Obscure British Blogger Became Russia’s Key Witness Against The White Helmets

    Vanessa Beeley has also visited Regime-held areas of Syria, often under the supervision of Syrian MPs and the Syrian Army. A recent piece purporting to expose the “egregious western media chemical weapon fraud in Eastern Ghouta” inadvertently details how regime officials are her only source and shepherd her around, ensuring they control what she is able to witness.

  13. Matters Not

    JohnF, I don’t really follow the ins and outs of Venezuela but I suspect there’s enough facts on the table to support a whole range of ideological positions. Just pick and play and you will reasonably conclude what you want – ideologically speaking.

    That Venezuela is seen in the US as proof that socialism doesn’t work suggest to me that an invasion is nigh. Particularly with the arrival of AOC (and Bernie) who (shock, horror) want universal health care, a progressive tax system … (you know – what the rest of the developed world already has.)

    In short the current political arrangements in Venezuela are f@cked. There will be both claps and boos.

  14. JohnF

    “Regime held”? I think you mean the areas held by the elected government of the sovereign state of Syria.

  15. Kaye Lee

    Yes. Beeley was escorted around areas controlled by the elected government, in the company of government officials and military, to speak to people who know if they criticise the government they may very well end up dead.

    “The names of nearly 8,000 people likely tortured to death in Syrian regime prisons over the past seven years were released on Sunday evening, in the latest confirmation of a campaign of systematic slaughter of detainees by the country’s intelligence services. Among the thousands dead are the names of 125 children and 63 women.”

    Rape, hanging and ill-treatment continue to haunt thousands of survivors of torture as the world marks the International Day in Support of Victims of Abuse on Tuesday.

    Doctors without Borders (MSF) revealed they have treated more than 3,000 torture survivors since January 2017, a spokesman told The National.

    Although the practice is banned under international law, detainees in Syrian prisons said they have suffered forms of torment and abuse on a daily basis.

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