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The Sport of the Gods: what is the likely outcome of the Catalan referendum

Instead of leading the political and economic regeneration of Spain Catalonia’s leaders are taking their region down a reactionary blind alley

Haneul Na'avi

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Republished with the author’s permission; first published by Dialectic Productions

“This is the debt I pay/ Just for one riotous day,
Years of regret and grief/ Sorrow without relief.

Pay it I will to the end/ Until the grave, my friend,
Gives me a true release/ Gives me the clasp of peace.

Slight was the thing I bought/ Small was the debt I thought,
Poor was the loan at best/ God! but the interest!”

The Debt”, Paul Lawrence Dunbar

The October 1st Catalonian referendum, held across the region, quickly became marred with controversy following the Spanish Civil Guard’s violent crackdown, which quickly sowed antipathy between Catalans and the Spanish central government.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s brutal repression of voters at polling stations, which injured almost 900 people, and unilateral seizure of the referendum site, revealed a medieval, antiquated sentiment towards Catalonians unseen since the 1930s Francisco Franco dictatorship.

In his panic, Rajoy decried the referendum illegal (which it technically was, according to Section 148, Clause 1-32a of the Spanish constitution), his counterproductive actions merely emboldened Catalonians and incurred condemnation from the European bureaucracy.

As a result, 2.2 out of 5.3 million (29%) eligible Catalonians voted 90% in favour of independence, encouraging regional Prime Minister Charles Puigdemont to boldy call for secession within “a matter of days”.

The referendum comes years after the Spanish parliament retrenched parts of the Catalonian government’s 2006 Statute of Autonomy, to which, according to Catalonia Votes,

[…] was drastically altered by a controversial court ruling in 2010. Catalonia’s proposal for greater fiscal autonomy was then rejected [and attacks] against Catalonia’s education system and linguistic rights [also] increased and more and more recentralisation measures are being taken.

The Atlantic elaborates further,

Of the statute’s 223 articles, the court struck down 14 and curtailed another 27 [as well as] attempts to place the distinctive Catalan language above Spanish in the region [stating], “The interpretation of the references to ‘Catalonia as a nation’ and to ‘the national reality of Catalonia’ in the preamble of the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia have no legal effect.”

Despite the referendum’s initial successes and intense nationalist sentiments, inklings of dissent within Catalonia’s class strata have already begun to betray the populist revolution.

A day after the referendum, Deutsche Welle mentioned that,

[…] it would be highly unlikely that any EU state would recognize [Catalonia’s] independence. Such a direct attack on EU member state Spain would lead to a crisis within the bloc [and] why many EU diplomats in Brussels cannot imagine this scenario.

This analysis proved true as events took at turn for the worst, when European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans ignored Puigdemont’s pleas for an EU intervention.

Instead, he delegated this to European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas, who responded that,

For the European Commission … this is an internal matter for Spain that has to be dealt with in line with [its] constitutional order,” and “[we] trust the leadership of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to manage this difficult process.”

Most shockingly, however, was the Worker’s General Union (UGT) and Worker’s Commissions (CCOO) joint statement, which, contrary to popular opinion, did notcall for a general strike, but a

[…] ’go-slow’ of public transport services [at] 25 percent capacity during the morning and evening rush hours [and] Inter-regional transport services [at] 33 percent capacity.

It explains further,

UGT’s General Secretary, Pepe Álvarez, has reminded that “this is a political conflict and it needs political solutions.” […] Social mobilization in Catalonia has been unquestionable and it expresses, with no doubt, the existence of a political conflict which cannot be handled unilaterally by the Catalan Government, or exclusively from administrative and judicial points of view.

Russia Today also reports that,

The two most powerful national unions have called on workers to show solidarity in the face of “disproportionate” violence employed by the police and Guardia Civil but have not called for a Spanish general strike as the situation does not relate to a labor conflict but a political one.

Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau seconded this days before the referendum,

We are not just facing an institutional dispute but also a social and political conflict that clearly has to be resolved by political means. There are many non-separatists such as ourselves, who, while critical of the unilateral path taken by the Catalan regional government, are calling for a negotiated solution in accordance with the feelings of 82% of the Catalan population [and] it is my obligation [to] call on the European commission to open a space for mediation between the Spanish and Catalan governments to find a negotiated and democratic solution to the conflict.

This is because a month prior, the CCOO published a report lambasting the high levels of unemployment in Catalonia and diminished collective bargaining rights amongst its trade unions, which it blames on the 2012 National Appeals’ ruling and Labour Market Reform Act, stressing that it and UGT are currently in negotiations with the Spanish government to resolve this.

The think tank Worker Participation explains further,

A recent major tripartite agreement [signed] in February 2011 [was] an agreement on pensions, but it also [included] measures to reduce unemployment, industrial and energy policy, a promise by the government to reopen talks with the unions on the public sector, and reforming the collective bargaining system.

It continues,

In 2011, the socialist-led government introduced legal changes (RDL 7/2011) giving a greater role to company bargaining and the current centre-right government [added] legislation in 2012 (Ley 3/2012) – developments which the unions have opposed.

This gives rise to a massive contradiction within the independence movement, which is a conflict of interests between the Catalonian regional government and various bureaucracies within its wealthiest cities, whom, due to their class standing, could undermine Puigdemont in order to make a compromise with the Rajoy administration on its coveted pensions campaign.

The myth of immutable social systems

The Catalans, according to the media, are pushing for independence based on their ‘cultural repression’ by the Spanish central government. However, according to historical materialism, one cannot determine historical events based on culture alone.

Former USSR Premier Joseph Stalin defines the driving force of historical materialism as,

[the] method of procuring the means of life necessary for human existence, the mode of production of material values – food, clothing, footwear, houses, fuel, instruments of production, etc. – which are indispensable for the life and development of society.

Speaking on dialectics, he mentions that it,

[holds] that nature is not a state of rest and immobility [but] a state of continuous movement and change, [where] something is always arising and developing, and something always disintegrating and dying away.

What is ‘arising and developing’ in Europe is the supremacy of the European Union bureaucracy over the all affairs of its member states, and what is ‘disintegrating and dying’ is the superstructural relevance of its nation-states—subversion of the nation-state to the superstate.

Additionally, the seemingly intransigent ideologies of the Spanish central and Catalonian regional governments share a dialectical relationship to Spain’s means of production, which unfortunately are no longer Spanish, but the European Union’s—a new model of the international cartel.

Vladimir Lenin’s book “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism” elucidates,

International cartels show to what point capitalist monopolies have developed, and the object of the struggle between the various capitalist associations [which] shows us the historico-economic meaning of what is taking place; for the forms of the struggle may and do constantly change in accordance with varying, relatively specific and temporary causes, but the substance of the struggle, its class content, positively cannot change while classes exist. Naturally, it is in [the bourgeoisie’s] interests to obscure the substance of the present economic struggle (the division of the world) and to emphasise now this and now another form of the struggle.

Therefore, the true dialectic within Spain is not “Spanish vs. Catalan culture”, but the proportional division of the European bourgeoisie into the region, nation-state, and superstate; all whom, via finance capitalism, install its dictatorship of the bourgeoisie acting as the state force, wrest the means of production from the proletariat, reshape their relationships to the means of production through bureaucracy, and transform the social contracts within its authority.

Puigdemont and his ilk understand this perfectly and are using their massive reserve army of the unemployed—currently 22.7% of the Catalonian population—as a battering ram against Spain, using Rajoy’s tactless crackdown to garner sympathy from the international community.

Neither Puigdemont nor any of the Spanish trade unions have bothered to disclose the true source of their troubles—finance capitalism—where the bourgeoisie was directly responsible responsible for the greatest heist in human history. Instead, they scrounge opportunistically for piecemeal solutions rather than directly challenging the source of their conflict!

So, as this contest between these class strata continues, where Rajoy cites the “immutability” of the Spanish constitution, and Puigdemont cites the “immutability” of the right to self-determination, neither are as “immutable” as the EU—the primary force in European economics—which, like Rajoy and King Fillip VI, does not want a divided Europe.

A material assessment of Catalonia’s economic future

Although Puigdemont believes that Catalonia can secede from the Spanish state, it cannot relinquish the European Economic Area (EEA), but gambled this anyway with the referendum.

However, as the EU now sides with the Spanish central authorities, Puigdemont has completely changed his rhetoric to a vacuous, conciliatory call for dialogue, because he understands that the reigning bourgeoisie have called his bluff on his monumental gamble.

Also, since the EU bureaucracy has de jure monopolised Europe’s means of production, should Catalonia leave Spain, it would also leave the EU, but ultimately eviscerate all three economies, which are wholly interdependent and intertwined.

Catalonian-born Chief Economic Adviser for the World Economic Forum Xavier Sala-i-Martin highlighted that,

The EU accounted for 65.8% of Catalan exports in 2016, 7 percentage points more than in 2015. It is followed by the rest of Europe (7.4%) and Asia (6.5%), which moves to third place in terms of exported volume, ahead of Latin America (5.9%). France accounts for 16.1% of Catalan exports. Germany (11.9%), along with Italy (9.1%), Portugal (6.7%) and the UK (6.0%) represent nearly half (49.7%) of Catalan exports in 2016.

Therefore Catalonia would spend significantly more on tariffs alone and evaporate nearly half of its trade, giving rise to a crippling trade deficit and sinking into an economic depression.

According to Catalonia Votes (2013), 15.5 million tourists visited the region, 36.5% of its population are foreigners, and its economy achieved €63.8 mln. in exports—25% to Spain, and 65% to the EU member states. This is what helped Catalonia ‘thrive’ as a region—only inasmuch as it retains unmitigated access to the EU common market and ‘free movement’ of labour.

Unfortunately, the EU has socialised the divisions of labour through state-enforced capitalism—at gunpoint, penpoint, and PowerPoint—so much that Catalonia has few economic contingencies. Additionally, Spain knows that, without Catalonia, it would lose over one-third of its GDP and a significant portion of its diversified industrial base, whilst provoking the anger of its largest trading partners whom are the EU’s biggest economies, according to OEC figures.

He continues, making note of the Spanish debt question,

Even worse for Spain would be if the national government works to actively oppose a Catalonia that declares independence and therefore refuses to reach a debt transfer agreement […] If that were the case, then its debt-to-GDP ration would balloon to something approaching 125 percent […] With the richest region gone and with almost unsustainable debt, then Spain is in big trouble.

This is how Catalonia plans to blackmail both Spain and the EU; bursting their debt bubbles.

The Catalonian independence movement is, in fact, a bourgeois phenomenon which, like economic fascism, exploits the working class by with superstructural tactics-as-plan for the personal gain of that respective society’s bourgeoisie.

With Spain’s class strata competing for the blessings of the European Commission, one could deduce that King Felipe VI and PM Rajoy will remain the undisputed winner, but, to err on the side of caution, one could assume two potential outcomes:

  1. An admission of defeat for the Catalonian regional government, leading to PM Charles Puigdemont’s resignation (or head) and restored normalcy in the EU bureaucracy OR
  2. Catalonia’s complete breakaway from Spain, causing an economic and political crisis, which will embolden other secessionists, leading to a near-collapse in the European Union and a prolonged battle of attrition between regional, nation-state, and superstate power structures.

Rather than Catalonia attacking the very system of exploitation through its economic significance and revolutionary history to rally the Spanish proletariat, it has chosen to gamble its future away in a reactionary bid for ‘independence’. However, because the EU is a system of coercive interdependence, the most likely outcome is failure, bitter enmity between Catalans and Castilians, and a gradual return to socioeconomic ‘normalcy’, leaving the working class intact.

In his economic manuscripts, Marx sums up the Catalan question perfectly,

[…] Its idealism is fantasy, caprice and whim; and no eunuch flatters his despot more basely or uses more despicable means to stimulate his dulled capacity for pleasure in order to sneak a favour for himself than does the industrial eunuch – the producer – in order to sneak for himself a few pieces of silver […] out of the pockets of his dearly beloved neighbours in Christ. 

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French opposition rejects Macron’s concessions to Yellow Vests, some demand ‘citizen revolution’

Mélenchon: “I believe that Act 5 of the citizen revolution in our country will be a moment of great mobilization.”

RT

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Macron’s concessions to the Yellow Vests has failed to appease protesters and opposition politicians, such as Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who called for “citizen’s revolution” to continue until a fair distribution of wealth is achieved.

Immediately after French President Macron declared a “social and economic state of emergency” in response to large-scale protests by members of the Yellow Vest movement, promising a range of concessions to address their grievances, left-wing opposition politician Mélenchon called on the grassroots campaign to continue their revolution next Saturday.

I believe that Act 5 of the citizen revolution in our country will be a moment of great mobilization.

Macron’s promise of a €100 minimum wage increase, tax-free overtime pay and end-of-year bonuses, Mélenchon argued, will not affect any “considerable part” of the French population. Yet the leader of La France Insoumise stressed that the “decision” to rise up rests with “those who are in action.”

“We expect a real redistribution of wealth,” Benoît Hamon, a former presidential candidate and the founder of the Mouvement Génération, told BFM TV, accusing Macron’s package of measures that benefit the rich.

The Socialist Party’s first secretary, Olivier Faure, also slammed Macron’s financial concessions to struggling workers, noting that his general “course has not changed.”

Although welcoming certain tax measures, Marine Le Pen, president of the National Rally (previously National Front), accused the president’s “model” of governance based on “wild globalization, financialization of the economy, unfair competition,” of failing to address the social and cultural consequences of the Yellow Vest movement.

Macron’s speech was a “great comedy,”according to Debout la France chairman, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, who accused the French President of “hypocrisy.”

Yet many found Melanchon’s calls to rise up against the government unreasonable, accusing the 67-year-old opposition politician of being an “opportunist” and “populist,” who is trying to hijack the social protest movement for his own gain.

Furthermore, some 54 percent of French believe the Yellow Vests achieved their goals and want rallies to stop, OpinionWay survey showed. While half of the survey respondents considered Macron’s anti-crisis measures unconvincing, another 49 percent found the president to be successful in addressing the demands of the protesters. Some 68 percent of those polled following Macron’s speech on Monday especially welcomed the increase in the minimum wage, while 78 percent favored tax cuts.

The Yellow Vest protests against pension cuts and fuel tax hikes last month were organized and kept strong via social media, without help from France’s powerful labor unions or official political parties. Some noted that such a mass mobilization of all levels of society managed to achieve unprecedented concessions from the government, which the unions failed to negotiate over the last three decades.

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Soros Mimics Hitler’s Bankers: Will Burden Europeans With Debt To ‘Save’ Them

George Soros is dissatisfied with the current EU refugee policy because it is still based on quotas.

The Duran

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Via GEFIRA:


After the Second World War, many economists racked their brains to answer the question of how Hitler managed to finance his armament, boost the economy and reduce unemployment.

Today his trick is well known. The economic miracle of Führer’s time became possible thanks to the so-called Mefo promissory notes.

The notes were the idea of the then President of the Reichsbank, Hjalmar Schacht, and served not only to finance the armament of the Wehrmacht for the Second World War, but also to create state jobs, which would otherwise not have been possible through the normal use of the money and capital markets, i.e. the annual increase in savings in Germany.

The Reich thus financed the armaments industry by accepting notes issued by the dummy company Metallurgische Forschungsgesellschaft GmbH (hence the name Mefo) rather than paying them in cash. The creation of money was in full swing from 1934 to 1938 – the total amount of notes issued at that time was 12 billion marks. The Reichsbank declared to the German banks that it was prepared to rediscount the Mefo notes, thus enabling the banks to discount them.

Because of their five-year term, the redemption of notes had to begin in 1939 at the latest. This threatened with enormous inflation. Since Schacht saw this as a threat to the Reichsmark, he expressed his doubts about the Reich Minister of Finance. But it did not help, and Schacht was quickly replaced by Economics Minister Walther Funk, who declared that the Reich would not redeem the Mefo notes, but would give Reich bonds to the Reichsbank in exchange. At the time of Funk, the autonomous Reichsbank statute was abolished, the Reichsbank was nationalized, and inflation exploded in such a way that Mefo notes with a circulation of 60 billion Reichsmark burdened the budget in post-war Germany.

George Soros also proposes such a money flurry in the style of Schacht and Funk.

Soros is dissatisfied with the current EU refugee policy because it is still based on quotas. He calls on the EU heads of state and governments to effectively deal with the migrant crisis through money flooding, which he calls “surge funding”.

“This would help to keep the influx of refugees at a level that Europe can absorb.”

Can absorb? Soros would be satisfied with the reception of 300,000 to 500,000 migrants per year. However, he is aware that the costs of his ethnic exchange plan are not financially feasible. In addition to the already enormous costs caused by migrants already in Europe, such a large number of new arrivals would add billions each year.

Soros calculates it at 30 billion euros a year, but argues that it would be worth it because “there is a real threat that the refugee crisis could cause the collapse of Europe’s Schengen system of open internal borders among twenty-six European states,” which would cost the EU between 47 and 100 billion euros in GDP losses.

Soros thus sees the financing of migrants and also of non-European countries that primarily receive migrants (which he also advocates) as a win-win relationship. He calls for the introduction of a new tax for the refugee crisis in the member states, including a financial transaction tax, an increase in VAT and the establishment of refugee funds. Soros knows, however, that such measures would not be accepted in the EU countries, so he proposes a different solution, which does not require a vote in the sovereign countries.

The new EU debt should be made by the EU taking advantage of its largely unused AAA credit status and issuing long-term bonds, which would boost the European economy. The funds could come from the European Stability Mechanism and the EU balance of payments support institution.

 “Both also have very similar institutional structures, and they are both backed entirely by the EU budget—and therefore do not require national guarantees or national parliamentary approval.“

In this way, the ESM and the BoPA (Balance of Payments Assistance Facility) would become the new Mefo’s that could issue bills of exchange, perhaps even cheques for Turks, Soros NGOs. Soros calculates that both institutions have a credit capacity of 60 billion, which should only increase as Portugal, Ireland and Greece repay each year the loans they received during the euro crisis. According to Soros, the old debts should be used to finance the new ones in such a way that it officially does not burden the budget in any of the EU Member States. The financial institutions that are to carry out this debt fraud must extend (indeed – cancel) their status, as the leader of the refugees expressed such a wish in his speech.

That Soros is striving to replace the indigenous European population with new arrivals from Africa and Asia is clear to anyone who observes its activities in Europe. The question is: what does he want to do this for and who is the real ruler, behind him, the real leader?

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The French People Feel Screwed

For the first time in his presidency, Macron is in trouble and Europe and America are looking on.

The Duran

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Authored by David Brown via The Gatestone Institute:


On December 4, French Prime Minister Édouard Phillipe told deputies of the ruling party, “La République en Marche”, that a proposed fuel tax rise, which had led to the largest protests France has seen in decades, would be suspended.

The protesters, called Gilets-Jaunes — “Yellow Vests,” because of the vests drivers are obliged by the government to carry in their vehicles in the event of a roadside breakdown — say that the fuel tax was the last straw from a president who took office with a promise to help the economically left-behind but instead has favoured the rich.

Even by French standards, the protests of the “Yellow Vests” during the weekend of December 1 were startling. Burning cars and vast plumes of grey smoke seemed to engulf the Arc De Triomphe as if Paris were at war. Comparisons were drawn with the Bread Wars of the 17th Century and the spirit of the Revolution of the 18th Century.

For more than two weeks, the “Yellow Vests” disrupted France. They paralyzed highways and forced roads to close — causing shortages across the country – and blocked fuel stations from Lille in the North to Marseilles in the South.

During protests in France’s capital, Paris, the “Yellow Vests” were soon joined by a more violent element, who began torching cars, smashing windows and looting stores. 133 were injured, 412 were arrested and more than 10,000 tear gas and stun grenades were fired.

One elderly lady was killed when she was struck by a stray grenade as she tried to shutter her windows against the melee.

There was talk of imposing a State of Emergency.

The “Yellow Vests” present the most significant opposition French President Emmanuel Macron has faced since coming to office in May 2017. Unlike previous protests in France, which have divided public opinion, these have widespread support – 72% according to a Harris Interactive Poll published December 1st.

Fuel tax rises — announced in November before being retracted on December — were intended to help bring down France’s carbon emissions by curbing the use of cars. Macron makes no secret of his wish to be seen as a global leader for environmental reform.

He forgets that back at home, among the people who elected him, fuel prices really matter to those outside big cities, where four-fifths of commuters drive to work and a third of them cover more than 30km each week.

The increases have incensed people in smaller communities, where they have already seen speed limits reduced to please the Greens and cuts to the local transport services.

These additional costs-of-living increases come at an extremely bad time for ordinary French people working outside of Paris. Lower-middle class families are not poor enough to receive welfare benefits but have seen their income flat-line whilst cost-of-living and taxes have risen.

An analysis by the Institut des Politiques Publiques think-tank shows that benefits cuts and tax changes in 2018 and 2019 will leave pensioners and the bottom fifth of households worse off, while the abolition of the wealth tax means that by far the biggest gains will go to the top 1%

This is tough to swallow. Macron is seen as being out of touch with ordinary people and is unlikely to escape his new title, “the President of the Rich.”

“People have this feeling that the Paris technocrats are doing complicated things to screw them,” said Charles Wyplosz, an economics professor at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.

It is probably not as complex as that. The French people feel screwed.

As employment and growth are slowing, Macron, for the first time in his presidency, is under serious pressure. Unemployment is at 9%; his efforts to reform Europe are stalling, and his approval rating has plummeted to just 23% according to a recent opinion poll by IFOP.

Images of Macron at the Arc De Triomphe daubed in graffiti calling for him to step down, or worse, have done little to bolster his image abroad.

So far, Macron had said he would not bow to street protests. To underline his point, in September 2017, he called protestors against French labour-market reform “slackers”.

The political U-Turn on the fuel tax is a turning point for the Macron presidency. The question is : What next, both for Macron and the “Yellow Vests”?

Macron most likely needs to plough ahead with his reform agenda, and doubtless knows he has the support of a solid majority in the National Assembly to do so. France is crippled by debt (nearly 100% of GDP) and its grossly bloated public sector. There are 5.2 million civil servants in France, and their number has increased by 36% since 1983. These represent 22% of the workforce compared to an OCDE average of 15%.

Tax-expert Jean-Philippe Delsol says France has 1.5 million too many “fonctionnaires [officials]. When you consider that public spending in France now accounts for 57 per cent of gross domestic product. Soon the system will no longer function as there will be less and less people working to support more and more people working less”.

Macron’s mistake, in addition to a seeming inclination for arrogance, is not to have made national economic reform his absolute priority right from his initial grace period after his election. Lower public expenses would have made it possible to lower taxes, hence creating what economists call a virtuous circle. Instead, he waited.

Now, at a time when he is deeply unpopular and social unrest is in full sway he is looking to make further reforms in unemployment benefits, scaling them back by reducing the payments and the length of time beneficiaries can receive the money. The “President of the Rich” strikes again.

There is talk that he may also re-introduce the wealth tax to try to placate the protestors.

Macron’s presidential term lasts until May 13, 2022. Understandably, Macron will be focused on the elections to the European Parliament expected to be held May 23-26, 2019. Headlines have signalled that Marine Le Pen and the National Rally (formally National Front) are ahead in the polls at 20%, compared to Macron’s En Marche at 19%.

The shift is understandable, given the divide between the countryside, where Le Pen has solid support, and the cities, where Macron’s centre-left prevail.

In contrast, the “Yellow Vests” have galvanised support after standing up for the “impotent ordinary”, and seem much buoyed by the solidarity they have been shown by both fire fighters and the police. There are images online of police removing their helmets and firefighters turning their backs on political authority to show their support for the protestors.

Whilst Macron’s political opposition may be fragmented, this new breed of coherent public opposition is something new. Leaderless, unstructured and organised online, the “Yellow Vests” have gained support from the left and right, yet resisted subjugation by either.

Being leaderless makes them difficult to negotiate withor to reason with in private. The “Yellow Vests” seem acutely aware of this strength, given their firm rebuttal of overtures for peace talks from the Macron government.

Enjoying huge support from the public and with reforms to the social welfare system on the horizon, the “Yellow Vests” are not going away.

For the first time in his Presidency, Macron is in trouble and Europe and America are looking on.

After Macron rebuked nationalism during his speech at the armistice ceremony, Trump was quick to remind the French President of his low approval rating and unemployment rate near 10%. A stinging broadside from Trump on twitter suggests that Macron may well be relegated to Trump’s list of global “Losers“:

“Emmanuel Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the U.S., China and Russia. But it was Germany in World Wars One & Two – How did that work out for France? They were starting to learn German in Paris before the U.S. came along. Pay for NATO or not!”

The “impotent ordinary” in the United Kingdom, who might feel betrayed over Brexit, and the nationalists in Germany, who have suffered under Merkel , are no doubt staring in wonder at the “Yellow Vests”, wishing for the same moxie.

The historian Thomas Carlyle, chronicler of the French Revolution, said the French were unrivaled practitioners in the “art of insurrection”, and characterised the French mob as the “liveliest phenomena of our world”.

Mobs in other countries, by comparison, he argued were “dull masses” lacking audacity and inventiveness. The blazing yellow vests of the French protest movement , however, have made Macron appear increasingly dull and weak too.

David Brown is based in the United Kingdom.

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