24: Jacques Cheminade | France's Yellow Vests, State Violence and The Way Forward
Given the recent resounding victory of the BJP in India and the current EU elections in Europe, the France's Yellow Vest movemement is extremely important in the global battle against neoliberal globalism.
Although the mainstream English-language media is not covering it adequately, France is undergoing remarkable, deep turmoil. The middle and working classes are in a several months long revolt, known as the Gilet Jaunes movement, named after the Yellow Vests which French motorists are required to have in their vehicles by law.
Since November, hundreds of thousands have protested, usually on weekends, against rising fuel prices, the high cost of living, the disproportionate burden of the government's tax reforms were falling on the working and middle classes, especially in rural and peri-urban areas. The protesters have called for lower fuel taxes, a reintroduction of the solidarity tax on wealth, a minimum-wage increase, the implementation of Citizens' initiative referendums, and the resignations of Emmanuel Macron, President of France, and his government.
The protests have involved demonstrations and the blocking of roads and fuel depots. Some of the protests developed into major riots, described as the most violent since those of May 1968, and the police response, has resulted in many cases in loss of limbs. The movement has gained international attention, and protesters in many places around the world—some with similar grievances, others unrelated—have used the yellow vest as a symbol.
On May Day, 300 protesters were arrested as they clashed with police. In Sweden, Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, Russia and elsewhere, arrests were made as demonstrations became violent.
What does this mean for the state of France? Of Europe? And how does this relate to the political upheavals taking place all around the world?
Today I am pleased to have as my guest, three-time French Presidential candidate, Jacques Cheminade, President of the French party Solidarité et Progrès.