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Comment on the 'Yellow Vests' movement in France

The so-called “yellow vests” movement in France shows just how quickly, and how confusedly, a popular, spontaneous mass movement can break out when people’s aspirations and certainties are frustrated by the prevailing economic and social conditions of capitalism.

After nearly three weeks of street demonstrations and clashes with the police, the Macron government is sending out certain signals that it is prepared to make some compromises with popular demands in an effort to end the mass movement.

The “yellow vests” do not yet appear to be under the leadership of a proletarian vanguard, and have been variously denounced as ultra-rightists, ultra-leftists, climate-change deniers and that part of the labour aristocracy that demands the right to live off the exploitation of Third World labour.

The question this movement raises for us is how well-prepared we are to deal with a similar spontaneous and politically divided movement, should one break out here. How quickly and effectively could we apply the mass line and develop slogans that isolated the right, proved popular to the middle elements, and kept the advanced elements aligned with a sober and realistic set of tasks that would help the whole movement keep to a working class orientation?

We have tried to source French and other European analysis of this movement to learn more about it.  Interesting articles that show the importance of class analysis and being able to see the positive and negative aspects in the development of social movements, including sorting out allies, wavering elements and real enemies have been placed on our International Documents section of our website.

One is from the Communist Party of Italy (Marxist-Leninist) and the other from the French Organisation of Communists Marxist-Leninist.

If the likely election of Labor next year, here in Australia, fails to meet the expectations of working people, and there is further austerity forced on people due to global economic and political crises, the disillusionment with parliamentary solutions could boil up quite quickly. We should indeed work on a strategy to meet such a situation, strategy that will offer leadership and support without succumbing to movementism and spontaneity.

 

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