Place: France

The Class Struggle and the Yellow Vests: Where Are We Headed?

We have never seen so many upheavals in so few years in France.
Society has been turned completely upside down in a way that is totally unprecedented. The social programs won after the Second World War have been savaged and democratic . . .

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Review: The Permanent Guillotine

Mitchell Abidor, ed. and trans. The Permanent Guillotine: Writings of the Sans-Culottes. Oakland: PM Press, 2018.

Director Stéphane Brizé Depicts Class Struggle With Dark Realism in “At War”

Although New Politics has already run Steve Early’s review of this movie, we think this film fills a gap in radical cinematography so well that we’re also running a second, somewhat different review.

A Plant Closing War, Viewed From Inside

Last winter, protesters wearing yellow vests commanded center stage in France. Their grassroots challenge to the neoliberal regime of President Emmanuel Macron drew on a long tradition of labor militancy, including factory closing fights. When these protesters still had blue . . .

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The Yellow Vests: A Social Insurrection

On May 7, 2017, the property-owning classes of France had smiles on their lips. Emmanuel Macron had been elected president with 63.90 percent of the vote against the extreme-right candidate Marine Le Pen, who had won 36.10 percent. Given his . . .

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Yellow Vest Movement Struggles to Reinvent Democracy as Macron Cranks Up Propaganda and Repression

(Montpellier, April 10)  After five months of constant presence at traffic circles, toll-booths and hazardous Saturday marches,  the massive, self-organized social movement known as the Yellow Vests has just held its second nationwide “Assembly of Assemblies.” Hundreds of autonomous Yellow . . .

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Latest News From France: Online Discussion on Sunday

The situation here may be reaching a showdown between the Macron government, which is now considering using the Army against the Yellow Vests, and the social movement, to whose demands the regime continues to turn a deaf ear.
In the last . . .

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As Macron Prepares New Repressive Measures, Yellow Vests and Red Unions Strike Together

On Tues, Feb. 5, as the Macron government pushed harsh repressive laws against demonstrators through the National Assembly, the Yellow Vests joined with France’s unions for the first time in a day-long, nation-wide “General Strike.” . . .

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Seasons Greetings from France’s Yellow Vests: “We Are Not Tired”

ImageIs the Yellow Vest (Gilets Jaunes) rebellion, now in its seventh week, “petering out?” Such was the near-unanimous pronouncement of the mainstream media, when I returned home to Montpellier, France, eager to participate and to observe first-hand this popular insurrection which I had been afraid of missing.

The French Yellow Vests: A Self-Mobilized Mass Movement with Insurrectionist Overtones

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The White-Hot Anger of French Working People as a Real Fact

After rumbling on social media for weeks, the Yellow Vests (Gilets Jaunes) movement emerged suddenly on November 17, when no less than 300,000 protestors occupied roads, traffic circles in exurbs and rural areas. They wore the yellow safety vests the government requires all motorists to purchase, and which immediately became the emblem of the movement.  That week and the next, Yellow Vests also ventured into the heart of Paris, blocking the gilded Boulevard Champs-Elysées and almost reaching the nearby presidential palace.  From the beginning, women were unusually prominent in the local occupations and the street marches.  At the same time, the Yellow Vests chased away many politicians who visited their protest sites, including some from the left.

Yellow vests: Macron’s fuel tax was no solution to climate chaos

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The French government has decided to suspend a planned eco-tax on fuel in response to mass protests. While the movement of the ‘yellow vests’ (gilets jaunes) has turned into a broader revolt against inequality and Macron’s neoliberal reforms, economist and climate activist Maxime Combes (Attac France) argues that as a way to tackle climate change, the tax is neither fair nor effective.

Analysis originally published on the daily internet journal of ideas AOC and translated by Taisie Tsikas.

French Labor’s Historical Defeat; U.S. Teachers’ Surprising Victories

ImageAs the French get ready for the “rentrée” – the annual back-to-school/back-to-work day following the August vacation – social peace appears to reign in the land. The long-expected militant strikes and struggles against the neo-liberal counter-reforms introduced by President Macron early last Spring have failed to materialize. Surprisingly, the Macron government successfully force-marched its anti-labor, anti-welfare, pro-business agenda through parliament with little effective resistance by the unions and Left parties. Meanwhile, in the U.S., a wave of spontaneous teachers’ strikes spread from West Viriginia to other conservative ‘Red’ states, winning significant victories and surprising the media and the labor leadership. The contrast is surprising.

War, Imperialism, and Class Polarization on a Global Scale

From East Asia to the Middle East and from South Africa to Europe

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Adapted from a presentation to the Chicago Convention of the International Marxist-Humanist Organization, July 13, 2018.

Une déclaration sur le voyage de Mélenchon en Russie

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This is a declaration signed by two French militants and a young Ukrainian left-wing activist describing the details of Jean-Luc Mélenchon's trip to Russia not long ago, and the scandal of the ignorance of part of the left under the pretext of anti-imperialism.

The Merry Month of May

Mitch Abidor’s New Oral History Explores the Lasting Legacy of the Revolt that Shook France in 1968

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Where Are the Riots of Yesteryear?

50 Years After 1968: Student Strikers Attacked Again

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Not an April Fool’s joke. Here are the facts: Four days ago (March 29) the ultra-conservative Dean of the Montpellier University Law School was summoned to police headquarters, interrogated, hauled into court, and held over in jail for arraignment by the Chief Prosecutor – all on the complaint of nine student strikers, who claim to have been brutally assaulted with Dean Philippe Pétel’s active complicity while ‘occupying’ a school auditorium.

French Elections Install a New Political Order, But Is It Built on Sand?

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At one level, France’s 2017 elections were a huge triumph for global capital. A young and very modern neoliberal candidate, Emmanuel Macron, won huge majorities for his new political party, On the Move (En Marche), in both the presidential and the legislative elections.   At another level, however, Macron’s pathway forward is fraught with challenges, both from a long stagnant economic and a restive French public, many of whom stayed away from the final round of voting.

The French Election

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The good news this May was that French voters rejected far-right Marine Le Pen by a two-to-one margin in the second round of the Presidential election.

The bad news was that France ended up electing Emanuel Macron, an efficient technocrat who consciously incarnates French capital’s need to eliminate the "French exception" and level the wages, rights and benefits of the French common people down to the average of the European Union (which includes Romania and Bulgaria).

Burkinis and Bombs – What’s New?

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This essay was originally written as a letter to the editor of La Gazette de Montpelier. Translated from the French by Nancy Holmstrom.

As a retired American historian, specialized in French civilization, and for the past 20 a resident at the Mediterranean costal town of Palavers-les-Flots, permit me to remind the mayors of our beach towns as well as the Prime Minister of the Republic, of a little historic fact forgotten by those who make an affair of state of modest women who wish to remain covered when they take their children bathing at the beach. This practice is nothing new.  It was in almost identical dress that my grandmother and my aunts went bathing around 1900, without anyone being scandalized. (see the attached photo). On the contrary, in that period and up to the 1960s, the girl who wanted to present herself (except on nudist beaches) in a bikini risked being reprimanded by the police and given a ticket – as happened to a woman in a burkini yesterday at Cannes.

Media Blackout As France Witnesses Biggest Revolution In 200 Years

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As France prepare to host millions of visitors at the Euro 2016 Football Championships, a state of emergency has been extended in the country as it faces its largest protests in recent history. 

Hundreds of thousands of citizens have taken to the streets in France, amounting to what some are calling the new French Revolution amid a total media blackout in Western news outlets.

Strong headwinds are making France a stormy sea

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“The 49-3 is a brutality. The 49-3 is a denial of democracy.” Despite François Hollande’s opinions on this article of the French constitution in 2006, his government under Manuel Valls (who had himself been among the MPs proposing it be suppressed in 2008) used it to force through the unpopular law proposed by Minister for Labour Myriam El Khomri on May 10. This provoked an immediate reaction from the coordinating committee of workers’ and students unions calling days of national mobilisation and strikes on May 12, May 17, May 19, to continue on May 26 and June 14. [1

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