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What’s behind France’s latest round of riots?

What’s behind France’s latest round of riots?

Worst riots since 1968

Rioting has been taking place recently in France, but trying to get a clear idea of what’s behind the demonstrations isn’t easy.

The first thing to say is that the riots certainly seem to be anti-Macron. But there are plenty of reasons to be anti-Macron, some emanating from the left and some from the right or from some other impulse or belief system.
The MSM so far seems to be labeling the riots as “anti-elitist,” and saying that they began with people angry at a fuel tax increase. The Macron administration has announced that the controversial fuel tax hike will be postponed for six months, with Prime Minister Philippe stating that “No tax is worth threatening the unity of the nation.”

I don’t have my finger on the pulse of France, but I would venture to say that the “unity of the nation” is threatened by more than just this tax, and a delay will not change that fact.

I also think that the French want to have their cake and eat it too. In this respect they are hardly unique; it’s a common human desire, and welfare states give people the illusion of being able to accomplish it—for a while, that is, until (as Margaret Thatcher remarked about socialism) they run out of other people’s money.

This article purports to get to the bottom of things, but I don’t think it sheds all that much light on more than the surface:

The protests were initially described as a largely working-class, grass roots movement with many among the demonstrators saying their livelihoods will be threatened by higher fuel prices.

However, the protests have now morphed into wider discontent at the high cost of living in France and dissatisfaction with Macron, whose popularity continues to fall. A poll by Kantar Public in late October showed that 71 percent of 1,000 respondents in the poll had no confidence in Macron.

The higher fuel prices were “part of the government’s proposed carbon tax designed to improve its environmental credentials” with the Greens, prior to the next elections. But many demonstrators feel it’s a hardship that will hurt those who are already struggling (unemployment is around 10% in France).

The unrest could spread:

The French protests seem to be inspiring others in Europe with copycat riots in Belgium this weekend. Famke Krumbmuller, partner and head of political risk at OpenCitiz, told CNBC that the disgruntlement of protesters in France could be felt elsewhere in Europe.

“I guess what’s specific to this movement is that it is relatively apolitical, so they (the protesters) are not from just one party on the left or right. They’re white, middle-class people that are squeezed by the welfare state. They pay a lot of taxes but they don’t get a lot of benefits in return,” she told CNBC’s Julianna Tatelbaum in Paris.

Although I don’t generally trust the NY Times’ take on things, sometimes they write straight news and do it well. This Times article on the French riots describes something that sounds a bit like a protest from a group of people that in this country would be called the Trump voters.

I also turned to a blogger who lives in France and writes:

There is nary a single media report about the Yellow Vest demonstrations in Paris and France that I’ve read or watched that has not been slanted by Fake News.

It has (usually) not been deliberate, I gather, and nobody has said anything factually wrong; what is the problem is the fact that (very) important stuff has been omitted.

Fancy that.

It is not wrong to say that the demonstrations were caused by the government’s decision to raise gas prices. What is missing is that this is just one of several draconian measures dating back half a year, i.e., ‘tis the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

For the past four to five months, the French government has done nothing but double down on bringing more and more gratuitous oppression and more and more unwarranted persecution measures down on the necks the nation’s drivers and motorcycle riders.

In fact, the imposition of ever harsher rules has been going on for the past decade and a half or so — whether the government was on the right or on the left …/…

And this is interesting, as well—student rioting that seems to be piggy-backing on the other riots but as far as I can tell has different motivations:

At the moment, all high school students who pass their final exams have the right to study any course at their local public university, for a nominal tuition fee.

This has led to some popular courses being oversubscribed and some 60 per cent of French university students do not finish their first year.

President Macron’s government wants universities to be able to apply admissions criteria and select students on merits such as exam results or entrance exams for some oversubscribed degrees.

So the students appear to be rioting against the imposition of some form of merit system in a situation in which taking all comers has overburdened the resources available. I suppose you could call that “anti-elitist” as well, but it’s an anti-elitism that seems to be coming from the left, whereas the other rioters seem (accent on the word “seem”) to be coming more from the right.

Meanwhile, the so-called “far right” in Spain has made gains in recent elections. What does this far-right party advocate? Well, here’s one description:

A far-right party won seats in a Spanish regional parliament for the first time since the country returned to democracy following the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

Vox, which opposes illegal immigration and Catalan independence, won 12 seats in the Andalusia parliamentary elections, bringing an end to three decades of socialist rule in the southern Spanish region.

Vox did better than predicted.

“The Andalusians have made history… and got rid of 36 years of socialist rule,” Vox leader Santiago Abascal said…

Spain’s Socialist Workers’ Party suffered their worst result in history, picking up 33 seats, while its potential left-wing ally Adelante Andalusia (Forward Andalusia) won 17 seats…

Next year Spain will have municipal, regional and European elections which could be an even tougher test for the ruling Socialists.


[Neo is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at the new neo.]


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Rejection of government without consent of the people. People everywhere are protesting the surrender of their culture to an accountable global elite. The French Revolution decapitated kings. Today’s kings are the global elites.

The issue transcends the usual divisions of communist vs capitalist, liberal vs conservative, Dem vs Rep… It is much more fundamental. People want the order and stability that existed when they had a country!

What we are witnessing is exactly why democracy was established in the first place. Voting is better than rioting. Voting is the safety valve. Since the world is being usurped by a handful of monied elites declaring that people don’t matter in deciding how to live their own lives, people are resorting the to only option left: violence.

When the narrative no longer reflects the daily reality of people, people rebel. No one accepts chaos imposed by false narratives.Better the chaos of rebellion where those imposing the false narratives are forced to pay consequences for their wrong-headed decisions. The people everywhere are rebelling against the globalist elites for reasons that go back to the beginning of civilization. We all understand and agree. It is just a matter of who throws the first stone. It really is that simple. It is time to fight.

    Ragspierre in reply to Pasadena Phil. | December 5, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    “Since the world is being usurped by a handful of monied elites declaring that people don’t matter in deciding how to live their own lives, people are resorting the to only option left: violence.”

    You mean like Mr. Establishment imposing new taxes on Americans via diktat predicated on out-right lies as a pretext…???

    I agree.

      tphillip in reply to Ragspierre. | December 5, 2018 at 2:00 pm

      “You mean like Mr. Establishment imposing new taxes on Americans via diktat predicated on out-right lies as a pretext…???”

      Still lying, eh Rags?

      All you have is “Orange Man Bad”. Doubly hilarious is when you demand citations and URLs from others but when you make claims you provide none.


        Ragspierre in reply to tphillip. | December 5, 2018 at 2:25 pm

        The T-rumpian tariffs were imposed solely by the totalitarian diktat of Duh Donald.

        They are taxes on the American people.

        They were predicated on an outright lie, or series of lies.

        Every one of those assertions is the truth.

        Lying hypocrite.

          Are you black bloc?

          Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | December 5, 2018 at 2:46 pm

          No, but you’re stupid.

          Have you got anything that isn’t inane?

          Richard Grant in reply to Ragspierre. | December 5, 2018 at 6:06 pm

          Here is a better solution.

          End the corrupt and immoral Income Tax and instead, tax all imports.

          If a manufacturer wants to avoid the Tariff tax, then make your product here.

          I, personally, would LOVE to pay import taxes and get rid of this Gawd awful Income Tax, but then the Elite would lose control over us, which is the purpose of the Income Tax.

          Milhouse in reply to Ragspierre. | December 6, 2018 at 9:48 am

          I would say that’s the stupidest thing I’ve heard in a long time, but unfortunately it isn’t. Is it something in the water?

      Apparently you are stuck on stupid. Let me give you an assignment that will get you unstuck. Your assignment is to come up with political action plan for legally dismantling the administrative state. Let me get you started.

      America was founded as a democratic republic with its founding document being the US Constitution which laid out the guidelines for “government by consent”.

      The progressives don’t like “government by consent” so the enacted their founding document in 1946: the Administrative Procedure Act of 1946. It is the defacto anti-constitution.

      That act laid the framework for bypassing the constitutional framework of separation of powers by delegation of the legislative, administrative and judiciary functions to “experts” in the bureaucracy”. In effect, it rendered voters, and even Congress, irrelevant.

      If you don’t understand what I am talking about, go to the Hillsdale College online courses and register for the “Congress: Why It Worked and Why It Doesn’t” by Prof. Kevin Portteus. In fact, go straight to lecture 5.

      If you can figure out a way to get this discussion into Mark Levin’s efforts for his Article V Convention, you would be doing your country a great service. Instead of fighting over political ideology, we could be debating whether we really find post-constitutional America worth worth living.

      If you really are a lawyer and the constitutional expert you claim to be, here is your chance to prove it. I am very certain that everyone here will plenty from a rational exploration of how we got to be where we are and how to dismantle it.

      IMHO, that discussion belongs with Mark Levin’s arguments for not only why we need the Article V Convention, but once enough of his proposed amendments are passed, how exactly we begin to dismantle the administrative state.

      Do you think you could handle that? Shouldn’t be too difficult for someone as erudite and intelligent as you would it? Either you is or you isn’t. Prove it for once. Make yourself useful.

        Ragspierre in reply to Pasadena Phil. | December 5, 2018 at 4:55 pm

        You poor ignorant jerk. I’m WAY ahead of you, and your attempt to derail this whole thread is as transparent as it gets.

        Here’s some more material, along with your suggestion (been there/done all that)…

        But, on the subject of being stupid, why don’t you explicate on how, as YOU claimed, OccuplyWhatever is SOOOOOOOOOOoooo much like the TEA Party.

          Okay then. Stuck on stupid it is!

          Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | December 5, 2018 at 5:36 pm

          You prove that’s true of you pretty much every day.

          As to my “transparent” attempt to derail the thread,

          Title of post: “What’s Behind France’s Latest Riots?”

          My first sentence: “Rejection of government without consent of the people.”

          Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | December 5, 2018 at 5:48 pm

          “Your assignment is to come up with political action plan for legally dismantling the administrative state. Let me get you started.”

          You are SUCH a liar…!!!

          Wow. What elegance. What style. What wit. A vile insult followed by a boast followed by an outright lie, a link, and another outright lie. You sure be smart.

          Is that what they taught you at Coney Island School of Law and Dance? Apparently, Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style” was not required reading. Of course, with you being so smart, you probably think it is a book about white entitlement. Racism!!!

          And you think you are being ganged up on here. The whole world is against you.

          You are a fluke of the universe.
          You have no right to be here.
          And whether you can hear it or not,
          The universe is laughing behind your back.

          Therefore, make peace with your god,
          Whatever you perceive him to be – hairy thunderer, or cosmic muffin.
          With all its hopes, dreams, promises, and urban renewal,
          The world continues to deteriorate.
          Give up!

          O-o-o-o-o-o-o. Deep!

    Oops again,

    “People everywhere are protesting the surrender of their culture to an UNACCOUNTABLE global elite.”

    Richard Grant in reply to Pasadena Phil. | December 5, 2018 at 6:02 pm

    They are angry because deep in their hearts…the know….TRUMP is right.

At one point rioters where chanting: We Want Trump! We Want Trump!

That suggests to me it is about more than a gas tax.

Macron was a French establishment puppet candidate, whose purpose was to give the unwashed masses the impression that they were voting for change when in reality he had no intentions of reform.

The people have finally had enough of being lied to by incompetent “elites.” The riots are their response, and they’ll probably only get worse as the establishment responds.

    stevewhitemd in reply to Matt_SE. | December 5, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    Mr. Macron is and has been a card-carrying socialist. He came up as a socialist, punched his ticket at the École nationale d’administration, and carried water for Socialist President François Hollande. He left the Socialists only because he was crossing swords with Hollande at the end of the latter’s term, and realized that the Socialists wouldn’t nominate him as their standard-bearer (and they didn’t). So he formed En Marche as a way to get himself on the ballot and put himself forward as just to the right of a card-carrying socialist.

    There’s no more dangerous socialist then an enterprising, ambitious socialist.

    So I’m not sure that Macron was the preferred puppet candidate; the elites would have been just as happy with the Socialist (Benoît Hamon) or the Republican (François Fillon); anyone but Marine Le Pen. But he was a suitable enough fellow for the job and he’s been doing what the French elites want done.

    Which is why, of course, we’re seeing the riots. I haven’t heard of any of the immigrants rioting; given that the Muslim imams in France told their people to vote for Macron in the election, I’m wondering if the ‘youts’ are sitting this one out on purpose.

Buzzfeed I blaming it all on a change in the algorithm for Facebook which favors local content.

I saw some video of the “rioters” destroying property and burning cars, wearing gas masks, and dressed in black under their “yellow vests”.

Looked to me like a bunch of the anarchists that show up any time they have a chance to run wild and destroy other peoples property.

Richard Grant | December 5, 2018 at 6:03 pm

The peasants have no Diesel?

Lt them burn Petrol

Here’s another eyewitness’s perspective.

There is the real possibility that these riots etc. Are just the first visible manifestations of the French tax paying citizens reaching and exceeding peak taxation.

I chuckle at the irony of those yellow vests. Every car in France is required to carry at least one yellow vest for safety reasons. So if you are pulled over and they find a yellow vest, it proves only that you are obeying the law. And everyone has at least one.

So the day-glo yellow vest has become the new symbol for resistance. It’s the perfect uniform for fantastic visuals that reminds everyone who is fighting whom. The people wearing the vests are fighting those who made it mandatory safety equipment for everyone. Beautiful irony. There is a god.