Leaderless Unity Succeeds in France
Unity in today’s modern world has become a rare phenomenon. Since time immemorial, ‘Success’ has always been associated with an individual or a leader. Perhaps for the first time in the history of mankind, the world witnessed a ‘Leaderless Unity’ of French citizen, who succeeded to bring Macron to his knees and give in, by abolishing the proposed high fuel taxes.
The first round of victory of the French citizen against the mighty powerful governance of President Macron is just the beginning. Gilets Jaunes – the Yellow Vests was chosen as ‘the’ symbol for the grass roots’ movement. The ‘Mouvement des Gilets Jaunes’ started as an online protest movement in the month of May 2018. 17th November 2018 was chosen as the date of protest against Macron Government's tax reforms, which were hampering normal life for the working middleclass and the poor.
The Yellow Vests – Gilets Jaunes became symbolic with the peaceful demonstrations in France on the 17th November 2018. As it spread to Wallonia, the Southern part of Belgium, the movement gained momentum. Gilets Jaunes is required by all motorists in EU to be visible in their respective vehicles by the 2008 Law, as a safety measure. The reflective vests were available with every vehicle owner, inexpensive and symbolic in nature, which was hard to miss.
Act I was peaceful and Macron’s government did not realized its magnitude in coming months. After all, in front of power how would the poor survive! Macron stood his grounds to increase fuel taxes from the 1st of January 2019. Hunger and poverty with heavy tax burden and high cost of living broke the barrier of the citizen’s anger. Survival was becoming difficult and Macron had deceived blatantly the voters by lying during his election campaign.
Gilets Jaunes called for reductions in fuel taxes, the reintroduction of the solidarity tax on wealth and the raising of the minimum wage during the initial phase. When Macron didn’t paid attention to their simple demands, ACT II on the following week became more vociferous demanding Macron’s resignation. They felt he was unaware of the ground realities of the rural life. All he was concerned was about the 1% rich and big corporation.
Instead of listening to the woes and reality of its own citizen, the government was quick to label them ‘anti-government’. Heavy police force was placed to keep the protesters peaceful. Roads were blocked and shops were closed. The economy stood standstill as Gilets Jaunes took to streets in large numbers. Instead of taxing the affluent and the rich, the former investor banker Macron became more arrogant in his approach to deal the situation.
The rising fuel tax and the highest tax rate in the European Union had pushed the French citizen to the brink of existing. The movement gained momentum leaderless and without any party affiliations. On social network, Gilets Jaunes spread the word to organize for the protest. The 17th of November 2018 saw roadblocks, barricades of roundabouts and blockading of fuel depots across France. The economy was badly hit as Gilets Jaunes movement gained immense popularity worldwide.
However, the mainstream media, who are part and parcel of the bigger incorporation didn’t cover the peaceful demonstration of the citizen protesters across France. It is indeed a shame that the media claims to be free and the fourth pillar of the democracy. In fact, they are part of the evil greed of big corporation. Instead of covering the peaceful demonstrations of Gilets Jaunes, the media labeled them anti-government and as protestors.
Leaderless Unity's Success:
The leaderless unity of Gilets Jaunes showcased immense power to the powerful Macron’s government. In May 2018, a woman from the Seine-et-Marne department established a petition on www.change.org. By mid-October 300,000 French people signed to support the petition. Simultaneously, two men from the same department launched a Facebook event for the 17th of November 2018 to ‘Block all Roads’ in France against an increase in fuel prices and excessive tax raise. The group launched a viral video with an idea to use gilets jaunes.
This was just the beginning. Unlike previous French protests, Gilets Jaunes was leaderless and not associated or affiliated with any political party or trade union. The grass root movement spread widely on multiple social networks. Macron’s government never did realise its magnitude, proportion and how serious it was to become in coming days. The protests’ demonstrations across France by Gilets Jaunes were peaceful, as more and more people supported the much-required movement.
The French Government became serious to contain the peaceful protesters, when it grew larger and larger by the day. Policemen in yellow vests infiltrated the Gilets Jaunes and many joined in normal clothes. Videos even caught such policemen wearing yellow vests to join the protesters. Videos also showed how these police infiltrators were caught in crossfire with their own policemen and beaten mercilessly and later released when known policemen intervened.
The job of the police infiltrators, in yellow vests and mufti, among Gilets Jaunes was to instigate the police force, so they could start attacking the peaceful protestors. It was the police infiltrators, who instigated the violent attacks on Gilets Jaunes and not as it has been portrayed in media, who were point blank biased while reporting the protests.
Peaceful protestors were attacked with huge rubber bullets, smoke bombs, batons, thrashed and kicked till there was blood oozing from their body parts. All these happened in Paris Champ Elysees. Things became ugly, when the radical protestors lost their cool to respond to police’s brutality. Paris burned, shops were looted, vehicles were set on fire and policemen were attacked with the same gusto. Graffiti on heritage structure on Champ Elysees asking Macron to resign was visible. The media, stooges of Corporation, portrayed only the violent side of Gilets Jaunes. They never telecasted or showed all the ‘Peaceful Protests’ across France.
An estimated 285,000 plus French citizen demonstrated across the nation on the 17th of November. Since then, the protest has picked up momentum and became the biggest problem for Macron. On 24th November, ACT II was also somewhat peaceful. ACT III on the 1st of December was declared by Gilets Jaunes, as they continued their protests against rising fuel taxes and demanded Macron to resign. The French Capital looked like a police garrison with nearly 89,000 of them to take on Gilets Jaunes. Shops were closed and the economy lost a billion Euros loss.
Hundreds of protestors were in police custody for the violence, which has swelled over 1,000. What the world never saw through mainstream media was – Gilets Jaunes’ staging peaceful protests blocking roads, fuel depots in the north-west. Police brutality attacked even the ably-challenged old man to push him off the road and push away from his wheelchair on ground. So much hatred was seen from Police’s side, because they were instructed and given power by Macron’s Government.
High School students also joined Gilets Jaunes during Act IV. While the government was ready for the 8th of December protest in Paris, other parts of France saw escalated attacks and violence. Macron was missing in some undisclosed location. Citizen from peripheral towns, cities and rural areas across France, including many women and single mothers, joined the force of Gilets Jaunes because they are simply fed up with their living in poverty, courtesy Macron’s policies for the rich.
Low incomes in jobs have made it hard for everyone to make their ends meet. Their future seems bleak and the taxes have been increasing consistently to please the rich. The movement started against unfair and unjust tax system. However, now Gilets Jaunes want Macron to resign. Macron had stated in Argentina that violence of the protestors will not be tolerated and he would not take back the fuel tax raise.
Macron’s arrogance to treat the citizen in such a manner aggravated the anger of Gilets Jaunes even further. However, with the situation going off hand on the 8th of December, Macron had to concede his failure as the Head of the State. He acknowledged how the citizen is living a hard-pressed life. He agreed that people’s anger is deep and justified.
While addressing the nation on the 10th December 2018, after keep silence for four long weeks, Macron announced the proposed fuel tax raise for 2019 has been scrapped, every employer has to pay end-of-year bonus – tax free, all the employees will get a monthly salary increase of €100 effective 1st January 2019, overtime should be paid for extra hours of work without tax. Retired persons will be taken care of and not burdened with taxes.
In spite of all the concessions announced, what has angered people more is that he did not apologize. He is also unwilling to increase Wthe health Tax of the rich citizen. People now want the Parliament to be dissolved and Macron should resign. Macron came in power promising a lot for the poor and people believed him. He has betrayed people’s trust and is working in favour of his rich friends and group. He is unaware of the ground realities. His arrogance was also seen, when Macron admonished Army General by imploring that he is his Boss.
Gilets Jaunes is demanding to scrap of eco-tax, raise minimum wage and host of others legitimate demands for a better standard of living for one and all. The paradox is this is not a result of the failure of the globalized economic model, but of its success. Problems of higher rate of unemployment, insecurity, and poverty have increased. Citizens are struggling to live an honorable life. There is a huge divide between the Rich and the Poor.
The result of an economic and cultural relegation, which started in the 80s is having its catastrophic effects now. In real sense, the anger runs deeper. In the same instance, economic and land logics have locked up the elite world. This confinement has become intellectual in nature.
Success of the Leaderless Unity of Gilets Jaunes has ultimately brought Macron’s Government to its knees. The movement continues its journey…