Since November 17 a broad movement has developed of tens of thousands of people, dressed in yellow vests, who are occupying highway junctions, blocking access roads and demonstrating every Saturday in Paris and other cities. This movement is also developing in the island of Reunion, one of the colonies of French imperialism.
Motivated by the rejection of a new increase in the tax on fuels imposed by the State, the movement has spread rapidly through social networks with strong media coverage, specifically in 24-hour news services.
The images of violent clashes of hundreds of “yellow vests,” without flags or banners of organizations (except the flag of France) attacking warehouses in the wealthy neighborhoods of Paris and shouting “Macron resign!” have been seen around the world. In several countries, particularly in Europe, many people identified themselves in this outbreak of anger, in radical denunciation, speeches and acts of the demonstrators. The movement of the “yellow vests” has gained sympathy both in France and in other European countries and has also raised questions of its nature, objectives and prospects.
The movement of the yellow vests in France means the entry into the social struggle of new sectors of the popular masses, those coming from the rural areas and from the outskirts of the cities. These are sectors of the petty bourgeoisie, of workers mainly from small companies, those with little union organization, poor workers, artisans, professionals, small employers, etc.
All are victims of the consequences of neoliberal policies developed for years by right-wing and social democratic governments, policies that Macron has aggravated and expanded. They are demonstrating against elimination of neighborhood public services, especially public transport, the elimination of social protection, etc., and against the continuous increase in taxes, in prices of basic necessities, such as electricity, gas, etc. Moreover, Macron and his government have transferred billions to the rich, to the big companies in the form of public aid, and the reduction of taxes and social contributions on big companies, on large wealth.
That is why Macron is widely considered the president of the rich and the big employers.
When that movement tried to demonstrate in the wealthy neighborhoods of Paris, Macron and his government responded with repression. Every Saturday, thousands of police and gendarmes arrested hundreds of protesters. This has radicalized the most consistent sectors of the yellow vests.
Until now, the yellow vests have remained outside the organized workers, trade union and popular movement that has been fighting for years against the neoliberal policies of the government in office. This is due in large part to its heterogeneous social composition and is expressed in a so-called “apoliticism” and rejection of trade union organizations. This attitude is also encouraged by reactionary forces within the movement. But among the yellow vests, at least in the workers and popular sectors that are involved, they are open to the demands of the workers and popular movement that is fighting. That is why there are demands on the positions of the picket lines of the yellow jackets that are close to the demands of the workers and popular movement. These are essentially the demands: increase in the minimum wage (SMIC), pensions and social assistance and higher taxes on large companies and others, for social justice. Of course, there are other demands that correspond to the interests of the small bosses, and some of a reactionary nature, especially on the issue of immigrants and refugees.
That movement has created sympathy in France and internationally, because it has attacked one of the representatives of the oligarchy, Macron, an arrogant president who gives lessons to the whole world. This movement also comes after major demonstrations, strikes that have been going on for years in France and that show the vitality of the class struggle, the militancy of the working class, of the laboring masses, of working women, of youth of the popular sectors.
In the context of this movement there took place the mobilization of secondary students for their own demands, against Macron’s education reforms and in defense of public education, to which the government responded very violently.
Macron was forced to retreat on the increase in the taxes on gasoline that was at the beginning of the protest; but he has not responded to the other demands, especially the demand for a real increase in the minimum wage. That is why the struggle continues.
The movement of the yellow vests is creating fear in the bourgeoisie, due to the economic and social chaos, in the context of the sharpening of the crisis and Macron’s growing unpopularity. This will force the government to make some concessions in order to stop the struggle.
For the moment, the response of Macron and his ministers is very far from the demands of the movement.
The mobilization of the workers must grow, especially in the companies, through strikes and demonstrations in the streets, for an increase in wages, pensions and social benefits.
This movement shows the importance for the workers and union movement, for the organizations that are fighting against neoliberalism, for the revolutionary organizations, for the Marxist-Leninist parties and organizations, to take up the demands of all the popular strata, the victims of neoliberal policies, in order to promote and lead the fight against capitalism, for the revolution and socialism.
That is why it is necessary to promote the political struggle to unite the working class around its class interests, so that the working class takes the leadership of the fight of the broad popular strata.
It is necessary, as our sister party in France, PCOF (Communist Party of the Workers of France), stated, to develop the workers and popular opposition against the policies that serve the rich, the bosses and the arms sellers.
Coordination Committee of the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations, ICMLPO