Inside the Yellow Vests: What the Western media will not report (Part 3)

July 17, 2019

by Ollie Richardson for The Saker Blog

As we come closer to August, when most of France (and Europe) is in holiday mode, I think that it is an apt moment to summarise what has happened in relation to the Yellow Vests movement since the last time I wrote about this topic, which happened to be part 2 of my “Inside the Yellow Vests” series (part 1 can be found here).

Those who follow events from afar and thus don’t have access to a reliable and consistent flow of information will probably consider that the Yellow Vests movement was just a flash in the pan and is now in the past, or that it achieved its aim and that everything is now great in France. Of course, they’d be very much mistaken. It’s important to think of the Yellow Vests movement as a stage of a process rather than just a fashionable trend that distinguishes itself by occasionally walking in a column and hurling insults at law enforcement. But what “process” do I speak of?

I’m sure that I will receive abuse from so-called “libertarians” and the like, but the process is capitalism. And the stage of the process I refer to is one that is relatively new to us – when the exploitation of labour reaches a critical level. A deadly cocktail of the consequences of colonisation, an oligarchic system, a tribalistic society, a total lack of sovereignty, a frighteningly ugly population pyramid, etc have resulted in what we are now seeing: the derailment of the train of “modernity”.

Essentially, everything of value has been sucked dry by the American imperialistic project known as the “EU”. The middle class has been demolished and replaced by a working class living on credit. The youth are being robbed of their future, and pensioners are being robbed of their legacy. The Macron regime’s ethos is simple: work more; be paid less. Starve infrastructure, but make timely investments into personal offshores. Privatise everything in the interests of pals, present it as “reforms”. In general, it’s a classic neoliberal hit job. I can write much more about the mechanics of the “Le République En Marche” scam, but I prefer to keep this article laconic. So let’s now move on to what the situation now is – after the May 1st protest, where my last article (part 2) ended.

The May 1st protest was supposed to be a real missile, but it was smothered by the regime due to one main reason: the unions are rotten to the core, thus convergence with them is like pissing in the wind. They don’t care about the Yellow Vests and are ultimately in the regime’s pocket. Another factor was the pretty lame route chosen for the demonstration – almost a straight line, which the police can encircle easily. But in a way this flop was a blessing in disguise, because the Yellow Vests movement was starting to be outmanoeuvred by the regime. There was too much focus on Saturday protests and a lack of ideas concerning what else to do. Non-sanctioned protests became frankly impossible, since the police can read social media too.

In June the initiator of the Yellow Vests movement (not a “leader” per say) had the balls to say what needed to be said, even if it would initially upset many other Yellow Vests: the themed Saturday marches have become quite pathetic and ineffective, and thus more radicals actions are needed. And his video message had the desired reaction. The activity at the toll roads, where the Yellow Vests hold the barrier open and let travellers pass for free, had a surge. The number of Yellow Vests who waved flags on bridges over highways also surged. It was understood that a stake mustn’t be placed on just one action; otherwise the movement will become stale.

And now fast forward to June 22nd – when the Yellow Vests tried to block the transport infrastructure of the country. What happened? The regime had to again try to deflate the Yellow Vests’ tyres, and thus arrested and interrogated/intimidated one of the social media personalities who promoted the blockade. The Yellow Vests deleted all their live streams from this day too, as a precautionary measure, since the police were hunting for “organisers”.

So, on the surface it looks like the police (and the Interior Ministry) have adjusted well and are successfully coping with the situation, and that the Yellow Vests simply are not able to achieve anything, and this is why the participation is becoming less and less. WRONG! Firstly, the participation is at equilibrium with the level of repression. It is normal that the numbers reduce the tighter the state apparatus becomes. It shows that the state is afraid, and that the Yellow Vests indeed pose a threat. The turnout on Saturdays is still impressive and keeps the police mobilised. Secondly, the puppet media lies all the time about numbers, and parrots on a loop “the numbers decrease, the movement deflates”. Yet on June 29th in Paris there was close to 10,000 people there (my photos and videos from this day can be found here). Of course, the TV pretended like nothing was happening – the usual deliberate total boycott.

I am now going to share with you some exclusive information that should help to understand where things currently stand and what direction we’re heading in. My source will remain undisclosed for security reasons.

In order to cope with the constant Yellow Vests demos, law enforcement is using a rotational system with the forces based overseas. This gives the illusion of some rest, whilst in reality work isn’t being paid. In fact, the Interior Minister Christophe Castaner himself admitted that there is no money for overtime.

In connection with this, the police unions are fed up and try to blackmail the regime into paying more. They want to protest in the street themselves, but the regime is clear – keep your mouth shut unless you want to be unemployed. The story found here is related to this circus.

If to look at the average level of participation on a Saturday, then the leader is Toulouse. And the police know that the heart of the Yellow Vests movement is here, and not in Paris. This explains why the police are extra brutal in Toulouse, with the video below serving as an example:

The police (CRS in particular) are not happy about potentially not being able to go on holiday this summer. To stand in the heat in full gear & receive insults/glass bottles all day is quite torturous. They try to force Saturday protests to end quickly (making the column walk quicker) so they can go home for the weekend. So to be dispatched to Toulouse for the weekend is like drawing the short straw. Of course, Paris isn’t any better, but it is the capital, and so the urge to defend it is stronger. It’s at least a better excuse for the wife to justify why you won’t be home for the weekend.

How much is each CRS company being paid by Macron (via the taxpayer), despite the “austerity” policies being imposed on the public? If they leave their regional base for more than 12 hours it’s €40 extra per employee (known as IJAT). If the hours of service exceed 8, then it is classed as overtime. So here is an example: working from 04:00 Saturday to 00:00. That’s 12 hours of overtime at €10 per hour = €120. Add in IJAT (paid every 3 months), and each Saturday costs the regime €160 per CRS employee. Each company consists of 80 police officers, and there are also additional expenses for accommodation, food, fuel, etc. But this is still chump change for the regime. A tear gas grenade costs €30 per unit. A GLI-F4 grenade costs €40 per unit. A “désencerclement” grenade costs €50 each. Police commissioners earn €3k-5k each month (Christmas bonus is €40k-70k). So to say that there is money for public services is to tell a massive lie.

During the May 1st demo there was 40 squadrons of gendarmes and only 20 CRS companies. On May 2nd, at dawn, 11 of these 40 squadrons departed to protect Macron’s museum visit to Amboise. Talk about being treated like a slave – hence the high police suicide numbers (59 so far in 2019)…

Between Act 1 and Act 18 (March 16, 2019) the police helicopters used in just Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Rennes, and Nantes to monitor the protests have racked up 717 hours of flight at €1500 an hour. I.e., the taxpayer has paid €1.01m to be filmed just during this time. And during Act 3 in Paris (see video below) the regime wasted €300,000 just on grenades.

Meanwhile, over this summer the regime will close down 400 schools due to a “lack of funding”. Go figure!

So if to return to my point about law enforcement being stretched to the limit, the scheme for the rest of the year is established. The Yellow Vests’ triangle of actions is: toll road ops (even if the police disperse the Yellow Vests), roundabout occupations (even if the police demolish the Yellow Vests’ cabins), and Saturday demos (even if they are more localised). All 3 types of actions complement each other.

It is understood that tackling the regime head-on is not possible since it is too well armed. This isn’t 1968. Instead it has become a war of attrition. And for the regime, whose troops are tired and pissed off, it becomes a mental challenge. The police are under pressure to not make mistakes, for gross errors (like killing a Yellow Vest in plain sight) can act like a flame to a dynamite barrel. At the same time, the Yellow Vests are under pressure to not be jailed and thus be eliminated from the “game”. There is a kind of equilibrium. Just in June alone the police made one massive error that was committed outside the framework of the Yellow Vests – they most likely killed a young man during a music festival. Read more here (use Google translate if need be).

But through persistence and using the aforementioned triangle effectively, the police (and their resources) are being slowly exhausted and pushed closer and closer to the limit. This summer the movement will become more localised, but what will happen afterwards? I suspect that the situation will heat up in conjunction with the next batch of price hikes. I.e., from the autumn onwards. It is at this moment that the Yellow Vests will become most dangerous, since the repression can’t really be upped by another notch because the illusion of “democracy” would be definitively obliterated.

In the background, work is ongoing to get as many people to sign the semi-referendum against the privatisation of the airports as possible. Firstly, 4 million signatures are needed before spring 2020. Then over a hundred deputies in parliament must vote for it. Losing this battle will be a big blow for the regime.

Hospitals, firemen, teachers, migrants, environmentalists etc are all regularly striking. Public services are collapsing at an alarming speed. The regime fears a convergence of battles and will struggle to stem the tide. A general strike is problematic to organise, but not impossible. The union leaders are the main problem. But in any case, Macron is already starting to lay the foundations for his 2022 electoral campaign. He knows that he can win any battle versus Le Pen thanks to his pocket media. He desperately tries to smear the Yellow Vests and keep the bourgeoisie plugged into the matrix of consumerism.

Also, the Republican Party has effectively been liquidated, and its electorate has shifted over to Macron (LREM). In short: there is no political solution. The only solution is the Swiss style of governance. But that means to remove the current oligarchical system. The Yellow Vests intelligentsia is trying to set in motion the first stage of implementing the Swiss system (Citizens’ Initiative Referendum). I recommend reading this website for more information. The sense is to create a demand for it at the grassroots level first.

Concerning what happened on Bastille Day (and the night celebration of Algerians), I recommend checking out the following links (bear in mind that on this day the Yellow Vests remained incognito and abandoned the yellow vest):

  • My real-time Twitter reportage, where I transmitted what I witnessed on the terrain – link;
  • My Twitter thread of conclusions written in the morning of July 15th – link;
  • My photos and videos from this day – link;
  • Video of a woman being attacked – link;
  • Video showing a woman receiving a tear gas puck in the eye – link;
  • Video showing tourists fleeing the gas on the Champs-Elysees – link;
  • Video showing a man being dragged along the floor by the cops – link;
  • Video showing the police hunt down and wound Algerians – link;
  • Video showing a 6-year-old girl suffering from the tear gas – link;
  • Video showing a woman being bludgeoned by the cops – link;

I can quickly summarise the day as follows: wild protest at 9am outside Moulin Rouge, the police gas and disperse it; after Macron’s pathetic parade, the Yellow Vests manage to penetrate the Champs-Elysees and occupy the upper part of it; the police gas the entire avenue and struggle to keep the Yellow Vests away; the Yellow Vests encircle the Arc de Triomphe, the police are unable to disperse them and resort to gassing everyone, including tourists; the police groundlessly detain some Yellow Vests to intimidate the others, and thus manage to freeze the situation; the whole avenue is flooded with Algerians at 11pm, the police use violence all the night to prevent the avenue from being completely swamped.

Me on the Champs Elysees on Bastille Day (I have white stuff on my face because “street medics” sprayed me in the eyes with a special substance that negates the effects of tear gas)

There is one particular aspect of what happened on July 14th in Paris that I would like to dedicate some space in this article to, because, if to be honest, it sent a shill down my spine.

After I had closely observed the wild protest in the morning and escaped the ensuing police assault, I headed towards the Champs-Elysees. As I arrived on the avenue I saw that lots of police vans were in the area, as well as riot police. I followed behind the riot police, who were moving down a street, and soon learned that other cops had encircled some Yellow Vests as they tried to penetrate the avenue. Legally speaking, this is not something they can be arrested for, but this didn’t stop the regime from bringing the notorious police bus to the scene and taking the captured Yellow Vests away for ID checks (although this could be done in the street, it’s just that Macron wants to intimidate the Yellow Vests as much as possible).

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An illustrative photo from May 25th showing the police bus being parked on the Champs-Elysees, ready to take away Yellow Vests who tried to protest on the avenue


One of the captured Yellow Vests who goes by the name “Mary On” filmed the moment she and others were encircled by the police and not allowed to go anywhere.

After some time has passed, the encircled Yellow Vests are herded onto a police bus and told that they are going to the commissariat in the 8th arrondissement of Paris.

Whilst they wait for the bus to set off, they start chanting the usual anti-Macron songs.

After the bus finally set off and travelled in a Northeast direction, the Yellow Vests start to become nervous because they are not at all in the 8th arrondissement. They appear to be in some kind of run down and abandoned industrial area with train tracks running in parallel.

After the bus finally stops, “Mary On” starts to film her surroundings, saying “we are not at all in the 8tharrondissement, we are at a Yellow Vest detention center”. She shows the view out of the bus window, which I can only describe as a horror. She herself describes it as “inhuman”.

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by social media followers to use her phone to locate where she and her fellow Yellow Vests are exactly. This was the result:

They are in the 18th arrondissement, at Porte de la Chapelle, which is one of the most run down areas of Paris. Put it this way: it’s not somewhere I’d like to walk around at night.

In her next video, “Mary On” describes how after being taken off the bus, her ID was verified by the cops, which took 2 hours, and she was allowed to leave.

So what is going on here? Firstly, the police have no right to detain anyone for just walking the streets. And since the Yellow Vests were not wearing yellow vests, it is difficult to charge them with “conspiring to damage property in a group” – the habitual article of the Criminal Code that is pinned on Yellow Vests. But what the police can do is continue their unlawful practice of keeping Yellow Vests in detention without pressing any charges, with the added flexibility of using “ID checks” as an excuse to move Yellow Vests away from an area. And this is exactly what happened on July 14th. Twice, in fact. Whilst the videos above show what happened to a group of Yellow Vests on a side street of the Champs-Elysees, I myself witnessed the police try to intimidate all the Yellow Vests who had reached the Arc de Triomphe by encircling a group and herding them onto a police bus on the avenue itself. And they also, most likely, were transported to this horrible looking camp.

Some readers may say “Don’t exaggerate by using words like ‘camp’, after all, these people were released and only kept for a couple of hours”. My response would be: “It’s not me who is using this word – it is the Yellow Vests themselves who are using it”. Yes, they refer to concentration camps, they recall the Vichy camps like the one in Drancy, and they create graphics like the one below:

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“This is really the impression we had, because we were told to get on the bus and nothing else, we did not know where we were going, and on the way in 4 people were waiting for us in front of a table with a pencil and paper to note our identity, and before this we had to be patted down and have our bags searched.”

The sheer horror (and I use this word consciously) of what these Yellow Vests experienced – being lawlessly taken to an unknown location where there are abandoned warehouses, railway tracks, and barbed wire fences – is almost certainly an act of psychological warfare. Frankly, it doesn’t matter if inside the building there are Hilton hotel conditions, what matters is the general aesthetics, which apparently the Macron regime thinks the Yellow Vests are deserving of. In the wider context of the repression being unleashed against not only the Yellow Vests, but also doctors, nurses, firemen, teachers, students, etc, my use of the word horror is fully justified. In essence, if one doesn’t like the neoliberal reforms being rolled out by the Elysee, then one will be groundlessly taken to a camp like this one, as if they are terrorists, which is ironic taking into account the French government’s support for Al Qaeda & Co.

After this scandal started to circulate on social media, the mainstream media was forced to start damage control – Liberation and LCI being two examples. The article of the former is determined to portray the facility as just a banal police station, saying that the police headquarters of Paris “seem to be surprised by this controversy”.

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One Yellow Vest named Marion told the Liberation agency:

 “They caught us in the street without giving us a reason … Then we were told we could leave after the parade, but eventually a police bus came and we were told that we were going to the 8th police station. A friend of mine was sent there. Except that in the bus, demonstrators who know Paris well understood that it was not the right road.”

The final paragraph is very telling:

“When asked about the number of people transported to the Hébert police station, and the reasons for the arrests, neither the prefecture of Paris nor the prosecutor of Paris were able to answer us, each footballing the issue. A judicial source indicated, however, that 48 major protesters were placed in custody following the protests on the Champs Elysees, without specifying whether they were taken to the police station of the 18th [arrondissement].”

Imagery is a very powerful thing, and the image below is simply abhorrent. If the people on the bus were mass murderers, paedophiles, rapists, etc then that would be one thing, but they are just ordinary French citizens who wanted to come to the Champs-Elysees and boo/jeer Emmanuel Macron. Is the fact of their arrest and “deportation” a sign of democracy? Are they not allowed to express themselves freely – after all, they are not USA NGO fifth column agitators, but genuinely angry and impoverished French citizens? If not, then it’s time to stop the blah blah blah about “democracy”, because in reality it is more of a dictatorship. Actually, there is a formed pattern whereby a government that the West describes as a “dictatorship” is actually democratic, and visa versa.

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In France it is a case of “work, consume, and shut your mouth”. And the latest Francois De Rugy scandal (he resigned on July 16th) shows once again that there is one law for the “plebs”, and another for the elites. The figureheads of the Yellow Vests movement weren’t even allowed to stay on the Champs Elysees on Bastille Day, and were in fact fined despite being initially allowed to enter the avenue and having their ID checked multiple times. Of course, the mainstream media loyal to Macron also deploy damage control vis-à-vis this disgrace too.

With the prospect of another 5 years of Macron looming over France, the Yellow Vests movement is not going to disappear anywhere. On the contrary, after the summer, and especially after the next round of price hikes, the fire will burn even stronger. Macron’s government has already had 11 resignations, and it is very likely that this trend will continue. But the solution is not a change of government or an early election. The sole solution is to implement the Citizens’ Initiative Referendum, for it is only this system of governance that can reconcile the Yellow Vests with the rest of society. A failure to meet this main demand is an invitation for civil war.

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July 2019, Paris (top left = tear gas puck in the eye; top right = man unconscious after being bludgeoned by the police; bottom left = another truncheon wound; bottom right = a pensioner has a heart attack whilst being detained)

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Paris July 1789 

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‘Rock ‘n roll is dead!’ ‘Yellow Vests are dead!’ – uncool Western reporting

July 15, 2019

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

‘Rock ‘n roll is dead!’ ‘Yellow Vests are dead!’ – uncool Western reporting

I’m not a huge Pink Floyd fan, but everyone else in the West apparently is – the album The Dark Side of the Moon spent 33 years (1,716 weeks) on the top-sellers charts.

A lot of their early stuff is just noise, but they have enough of a blues foundation to get both really heavy and pretty funky often enough for such a fundamentally depressing band: half their musical output is actually about ex-leader Syd Barrett, who took so much acid he went insane. His flatmates repeatedly dosed his daily coffee with acid without warning him, proving that hippies can be even worse than the CIA. Barrett is the obvious inspiration for the album and movie The Wall, which primarily illustrates Barrett’s horrible existence of hopping from one negative acid-flashback to the next for his entire life. Ever-political Pink Floyd surprisingly turned Barrett’s character into a fascist leader (the character in The Wall was never a rock star, we finally discover at the end), rather kicking poor Barrett when he was already down in a never-ending bad trip.

Conversely, I am huge fan of the Yellow vests, but it seems that very few Western reporters are.

I was watching the excellent concert movie Pink Floyd: Live in Pompeii recently – free, and in director’s cut format, thanks to Russia here. Really a lost treasure: progressive Pink Floyd, playing among the ruined psychedelic/pantheistic murals of Pompeii, interspersed with the usual Floydian universe-wide sense of space, history and humanity. It’s one of the great cinematic achievements of rock ’n roll.

Floyd guitarist David Gilmour was recently in the news, providing us with the latest example of the Quantitative Easing-created asset bubble in luxury goods: $21 million for his guitar collection and $4 million for one guitar – both broke the all-time records. Give Gilmour credit: it went to charity, which is very in keeping with Floyd’s genuine political consciousness.

Bassist Roger Waters is beloved for being seemingly the greatest Palestinian supporter in not just rock ‘n roll but in all of Western music. His political hipness is unparalleled – after all, he hates teachers, bogus authority, questioning why he has to eat his meat before he eats his pudding, etc.

That’s why it’s little wonder he said something in the movie which resonates beautifully in 2019:

“People are saying constantly saying, ‘Rock’s dying.’ Every 6 months somebody says it – with enormous conviction! It’s not going to happen.”

We can easily rephrase Waters when describing Western Mainstream Media coverage of the repression of France’s Yellow Vest movement:

“People are saying constantly saying, ‘Rock’s dying. The Yellow Vests are dying.’ Every 6 months Every day somebody says it – with enormous conviction! It’s not going to happen.”

From the very beginning Western Mainstream Media news reporters have said with enormous conviction that the Yellow Vests are a dying movement – it’s not going to happen.

I’ve had to cover them from beginning, so I can absolutely testify that this premature postmortem was the case. Just for fun I English Googled “Yellow Vests dwindling numbers”, and I’m still waiting for the final count to be added up; I French Googled “gilets jaunes à bout de souffle (out of breath, as that’s the preferred cliché in French)” and they have apparently been panting since early December.

It’s incredible how incredibly uncool Western reporters are – they want to kill something good, which is democratically supported by the majority, but for who knows what reasons?

Their square minds cannot bend around the Yellow Vests love for both country, kin and fellow Yellow Vest braves; they cannot hang with the feeling, and thus they already know that there ain’t no room for them in the Yellow Vest part of town; they have no cosmic notions – even though the cosmos is an absolutely real and tangible thing which scientists are learning more about every day – beyond daily economic tallies.

The coverage of the Yellow Vests has been absolutely, incredibly and shamelessly dominated by a tactic reserved for covering quarterly economic growth: are total numbers up or down? And because there are thousands of Yellow Vest political prisoners which have resulted from nearly eight months of guaranteed police brutality – which is the most sustained, most brutal and most hypocritical police violence in the world’s 21st century history – their turnout numbers have indeed decreased.

On Act 32, when we officially crossed into 7 months – only 1,000 people were in Paris and 40,000 nationwide. This is not nothing – this is being comfortably numb after all the media, police and judicial onslaughts. Forty thousand nationwide on a regular basis is – in the French context, which is a context that contains a lot of regular demonstrations – by far the most vibrant political movement in the country and in recent history.

Like the annoying reporter/director in Live in Pompeii asking if rock is dead, the Yellow Vests are not dead despite all the false claims and begging that we believe that it is. The Yellow Vests are new, groundbreaking and unstoppable, just as rock ‘n roll was.

I visited Iran to enjoy the end of Ramadan: there was a rock and roll band playing in public at a food festival downtown Tehran the night before the Eid morning celebrations. I didn’t hear any Floyd from them, but they did do a lot of rather aimless, endless noodling – must have been Grateful Dead fans.

The Western Mainstream Media can’t imagine that Iran, too, has gone electric, and they also can’t imagine that Yellow Vests are still going strong despite all the repression; they can’t imagine that rock isn’t dead in 2019, just like it wasn’t in 1972 when Live in Pompeii was made.

Back on the night before Eid: the solo, traditionally-dressed, bearded Sufi singer/daft drummer rocked a song hard for 10+ minutes straight… even though I’m sure that 1,200 years ago unhip court-reporters said with great conviction, “The ghazals are dead!”. It was amusing to see him on his smartphone and drinking bottled water while taking a break between songs – technology changes, but the song remains the same.

In 1974 The New York Timesdeclared Live at Pompeii to be dead on arrival: “Since its principals possess neither interesting personalities nor captivating philosophies, it is fortunate that the bulk of the film is given over to their music. It is unfortunate that their music, which ranges from traditional rock to sci-fi, fails the test one of the group sets for it—moving the listener—despite the array of electronic equipment marshaled in its behalf.’Pink Floyd’ may be for Pink Floyd fans. It may be for rock fans. But it’s not for movie fans.”

Hilariously bad journalism in every declaration, despite the critic’s great conviction.

They wrote that in 1974 – it’s amazing how they were way, way behind the trends: it’s not like rock and roll was a new thing back then, yet that listener wasn’t “moved”; that was written 6 months after The Dark Side of the Moon was released, which would go on to be bought by everyone, and their kids, too – it is estimated that 1 in 4 British households owns a copy of the album, and 1 in 14 people in the USA. Similarly, 50% of France still supports or sympathies with the Yellow Vests, according to the last poll on the subject (from nearly 3 months ago, amazingly.)

Such “top” reporters and critics also feel that individual Yellow Vests do not have “interesting personalities nor captivating philosophies”… mainly because Mainstream Media reporters are totally uncool, cynical snobs who have no idea what the hell they are talking about most of the time.

The reality about reporting on the Yellow Vests is that they only get Mainstream Media attention when they use civil disobedience and violence, but that’s an important subject for another article.

A final snippet of movie dialogue which shows just how deep Floyd’s leftism is – Waters didn’t become so pro-Palestinian by mere chance:

“There’s a danger that we could all be slaves to our equipment, and in the past we have been. But what we’re trying to do is sort it all out. So that we’re out. But I agree that it worries me sometimes – that we have this much equipment. And you can hide behind it.”

Yellow Vests definitely aren’t hiding behind anything – that’s pretty rock ’n roll. Why don’t Western journalists think that’s cool?

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of Ill Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.

Yellow Vests: The undercover cop scandal that the Macron regime tries to cover up

Via The Saker

July 07, 2019

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During the near 8 months (at the time of writing) that the French Yellow Vests (Gilets Jaunes) have been demonstrating nationwide I have written two articles (part 1 is here, part 2 is here) based on my own primary research that aimed to offer an insight into what is actually going on, since the mainstream, neoliberal media is either deliberately boycotting the topic or mentions it very briefly and in a heavily biased (pro-Macron) way. Part 3 in this series is on the way – I will publish it after July 14th (Bastille Day), but in this article I want to talk about a serious incident that happened during Act 34 (July 6th) in Paris – an incident that, of course, the French government and Brussels will try to hush up as much as possible.

Let’s start the timeline at 18:00 in the evening. The Yellow Vests have just completed their 9km – from Place de la République to Place de Catalogne -sanctioned demonstration (my videos and photos can be found here). They then travel by metro back to Place de la République (hereon in – PdlR) for a sanctioned evening gathering. At this time some feminist protest is already ongoing, and CRS (Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité) start to become nervous that the arriving Yellow Vests, being the “terrorists” that the mainstream media portrays them to be, might disrupt proceedings.

There is another reason why CRS are nervous: it should be noted that the few yellow vests that can be seen in the video above have nothing to do with the actual Yellow Vests movement. They, in fact, are the groupies of a Macron collaborator named Sophie Tissier, who deliberately registers a “Gilets Jaunes” protest with the police prefecture for every Saturday for the purpose of dividing the movement and preventing the formation of one large column. She espouses liberal values (as can be seen in the video above; she is the shaven-headed woman holding a sign saying “Anti-patriarchy”) and as a result is booed and jeered by the actual Yellow Vests every time she’s spotted. Thankfully, her joke gatherings now only attract 20 naïve individuals at most. However, that is 20 unhappy citizens who could, and should, be a part of the main Yellow Vests column, so in this sense Tissier can still declare a victory. Also present at this event is Muriel Robin – an ultra-liberal pro-Macron French personality. Inevitably, she enters into a verbal skirmish with an actual Yellow Vest (take note of the presence of men wearing baseballs caps and sunglasses):

After around 10 minutes, the feminist event starts to come to an end, but amongst the Yellow Vests a shout of “medic” can be heard. Two “street medics” (Yellow Vests who have some first aid skills) respond to the call and start to head towards the northern corner of the square. The earliest footage of the scene (the videos below this paragraph) shows this same Yellow Vest (named Wesson) – enraged and with a bleeding mouth – explaining to the independent journalist Amar Taoualit that a police officer wearing civilian clothes, possibly from the Brigade anti-criminalité, without any identification insignia, has just punched him without any motive. At this moment all the Yellow Vests start to head towards the crime scene, which is surrounded by gendarmes, and learn very quickly that a cop has committed another unprovoked act of aggression against a Yellow Vest. A barrage of insults is launched towards a circle of gendarmes who are stood on the corner of the square seemingly protecting someone.

Here are screenshots from the first of the two videos above showing the person who the gendarmes are protecting, even going as far as trying to obstruct the view of the camera:

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After 5 or so minutes these same gendarmes start to head southward down the square, but in a very agitated way. The Yellow Vests follow them:

In the video above we can see on the left-hand side the same circle of gendarmes walking with the same mysterious person in civilian clothes. Here is a better angle:

After reaching the Southern end of the square, the gendarmes form a line, and the Yellow Vests hurl insults at them. Wesson, the Yellow Vest who was assaulted, talks to other Yellow Vests and explains what happened to a crowd (3:24 onwards in the video below). Suddenly there is a shout “it’s them!” – attention is focused on three persons dressed in civilian clothes. The Yellow Vests start to pursue them, and the latter flee towards the police column on the Eastern side of the square, where an unmarked police car awaits them. One of the men enters the unmarked car, but not without Wesson giving him some abuse before he flees, and the other two hide behind gendarmes. The Yellow Vests try to approach the two other mysterious men but are prevented by the gendarmes. About 4 CRS vans arrive to the Northern part of the square and gendarmes push the Yellow Vests backwards, away from the two men. In the ensuing chaos Wesson suddenly goes to the floor. “Street medics” attend to him whilst the anger starts to mount. Prominent Yellow Vest Faouzi Lellouche explains (at 35:09 onwards) that inside the unmarked police car he saw that there were already other cops wearing balaclavas inside. The following video shows everything I described in this paragraph (the pursuit begins at 6:24):

After around 15 minutes, Wesson is taken to the accident & emergency department of the local hospital, and the gendarmes re-enter their vans and disappear – they obviously understood that hanging around any longer wasn’t a good idea and would inevitably result in clashes. And that’s how things ended, with the Parisian Yellow Vests quite shocked at what happened.

At around 9pm Wesson starts a Facebook live broadcast from outside the hospital, where he waiting for his turn to be treated. His mouth is visibly inflated and he says that he is sore, and that he doesn’t know if any of his teeth are broken but they hurt nevertheless. However, one hour later Wesson will delete his Facebook video due to a desire to make another one the following day that is much more precise vis-à-vis what happened on July 6th, since wild speculation had started to spread on social networks.

Here is a summary of his testimony video:

  • In the presence of Muriel Robin, Wesson asked a journalist why they don’t report about police violence against female Yellow Vests. After a brief discussion (which can be seen in the video towards the top of this article), Wesson left;
  • Wesson then departed towards the “Franprix” shop to buy a drink. A guy in civilian clothes squared up to him and offered to have a fight. A surprised Wesson accepted, after which he was punched in the face by the reinforced-glove-wearing man in civilian clothes.
  • He doesn’t know for sure if the guy in civilian clothes was a police officer or whether he is some bodyguard. Wesson says that the aggressor presented some kind of ID card to the cops who arrived at the scene and was thus recognised as being a friendly. An unmarked police car with balaclava-wearing men inside came to collect the civilian-clothes-wearing men in any case.
  • He fell to the floor because he had an epileptic episode.
  • A complaint will be filed with the police on July 8th.
  • He says that other Yellow Vests who witnessed the incident have given the same testimony on camera (I myself listened to two people who were present during the attack explain what happened, and they both affirmed the same thing – Wesson was attacked by the guy in the navy blue “NY” hat).

Conclusion

Those who are familiar with the scandals surrounding Emmanuel Macron will be familiar with the Benalla affair – when a police officer that is very close to Macron violated the law and beat up a May Day protestor – and may draw parallels with the incident described in this article.

In truth, I would argue that the attack on Wesson is worse since it was not in the framework of anything even resembling a police operation. However, there are still open questions, such as: why are the same guys in civilian clothes who the gendarmes protect after the attack also seen in the Muriel Robin video, seemingly acting as her security?

Example A-1 (look at the guy on the left in the blue hat)

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Example A-2 (look at the guy on the left in the blue hat)

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Example B-1 (look at the guy in the middle in plainclothes)

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:Screenshots:Screenshot 2019-07-07 at 18.20.57.pngExample B-2 (look at the guy on the right in the baseball cap, with his back turned to the camera)

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It’s a categorical fact that the two plainclothes guys seen in these photos are the same ones who were fulfilling some kind of security role for Muriel Robin and who were exfiltrated from PldR by the gendarmes. In the Muriel Robin video she is seen speaking to the guy in the darker blue baseball cap and pointing to Wesson. Some have claimed that over a good speaker system she can be heard saying “Virer le gilet jaune” (sort out the yellow vest), but I cannot confirm this since at the time of writing I don’t have access to such technology. In any case, it all looks very suspicious: Wesson was attacked within 10 minutes of his verbal spar with Muriel Robin.

However, it’s difficult to prove that Muriel Robin is responsible for the attack. What’s most important is that someone who looks and behaves like a plainclothes police or high-security officer (and recognised as such by overt gendarmes) attacked a civilian and is given an escort by gendarmes, and even evacuated by an unmarked police car with men wearing balaclavas inside.

Naturally, there is absolutely nothing about this incident in the French press. I stress: absolutely nothing. In fact, if one just relies on the usual mainstream propagandists for “information”, then apparently the Yellow Vests don’t even exist anymore. I remember very well how they were howling about Christophe Dettinger – who defended a woman (according to her own testimony) against police aggression – and presented him as a terrorist.

Of course, they deliberately omitted to highlight what happened before he repelled the cops – the police gassed Dettinger in the face and recklessly threw grenades into the crowd.

Concerning the Benalla case, he is still a free man and has incurred zero punishment. There is a fake “investigation” that Macron will probably drag out for as long as is needed, but nobody with any experience living under a neoliberal regime expects there to be any kind of justice.

Christophe Dettinger? He was given a 1-year jail sentence within the same month he was detained, the online fundraiser launched in his name was halted and the funds frozen, and the regime launched a police fundraiser as a weapon of psychological warfare against the Yellow Vests. Not to mention the fates of the hundreds of Yellow Vests who have been arbitrarily jailed just for the fact that they dared to resist against Macron’s socio-economic genocide, and the dozens of Yellow Vests who protested peacefully but were mutilated by the police and denied of any livelihood. No, there is no justice for them, because as we should know by now: there is one rule for us, and another for them. You didn’t pay your tax? Go to jail! Meanwhile, the regime’s offshore accounts continue to fatten up at he expense of the already impoverished poor.

July 6th 2019 – the day a plainclothes law enforcement employee – not wearing any identification number, or any insignia at all in fact, which is a violation of the law – assaulted a Yellow Vest, and uniformed law enforcement – also not wearing any identification numbers, which is also a violation of the law – protected the assailant. I think even the Milice Française would blush at such a level of impunity.

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Much safer to be a protester in Hong Kong/China than in France

June 28, 2019

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

The differences in handling the recent protests in Hong Kong and the weekly demonstrations in France illuminate an enormous democratic deficit between Western “liberal democratic” societies and non-Western “socialist democratic” ones.

It has been amazing to see how quickly the Hong Kong government – which under the “one country, two systems” system largely means the Chinese government (Hong Kong is officially a part of China) – acquiesced to public opinion after just two days of moderately-violent protests.

I am shocked. This is not because I falsely perceive Hong Kong or China as “anti-democratic”, but because every Saturday for months I have been dodging tear gas and rubber bullets in France. Hong Kong’s government backed down after barely more than a week of regular protests in the capital, whereas France has been unwilling to appease a protest movement which has lasted over seven months.

Almost immediately after protests turned violent, Hong Kong tabled the bill which proved so divisive, and their leader even apologised with the “utmost sincerity and humility”. What a contrast to French President Emmanuel Macron: Not only has Macron never apologised, but he did not even utter the words “Yellow Vests” in public until late April. His Interior Ministry can only be counted on to routinely remind Yellow Vests that they have “no regrets” about how the protests have been officially handled.

Hong Kong police reported that 150 tear gas canisters, several rounds of rubber bullets, and 20 beanbag shots were fired during the only day of serious violence. Conversely, a damning annual report this month from French police reported that 19,000 rubber bullets were fired in 2018 (up 200% from 2017), as were 5,400 shock grenades (up 300%).

Two things are appalling here: Firstly, the French government fired – at their own people, mostly for protesting neoliberal austerity – over 6,000 rubber bullets and 1,500 shock grenades in 2017. Shockingly violent protests were “normal” in France long before the Yellow Vests. Second: The Yellow Vests didn’t arrive until the final 6 weeks of 2018 – therefore, the increases and totals for 2019 will likely be 4-5 times than the already huge increases in 2018.

The latest tallies count 72 injuries and 30 arrests in Hong Kong – it was shock over this heavy-handed policing which led to the government’s intelligent move to restore order and democratic calm.

In France, the casualty figures are catastrophic: 850 serious injuries, 300 head injuries, 30 mutilations (loss of eye, hand or testicle). Someone passed out or vomiting is not counted as a “serious injury”, but if we included those hurt by tear gas, water cannons and police truncheons the number of injuries would undoubtedly approach six figures, as astronomical as that figure sounds. As far as arrests, France was at 9,000 on March 24, with nearly half receiving prison sentences. However, this count was announced before new, repressive orders were given to arrest democratic protesters even faster (more on this shortly). After interviewing for PressTV one of the rare lawyers courageous enough to openly criticise a French legal system which is obviously not “independent”, I estimate that over 2,000 Yellow Vests have already become political prisoners. More are obviously awaiting their trial, and more trials will obviously be convened.

Western mainstream media coverage of the two events is best described by a (modified) French saying: “one weight, two measures”. Hong Kongers are “freedom fighters” against a “tyrannical” and “totalitarian” Chinese system, whereas Yellow Vesters are routinely slurred in the West as thugs, anti-Semites and insensible anarchists.

Western media has no problem printing the turnout numbers of organisers… when it comes to Hong Kong. The Yellow Vests self-reported “Yellow Number”, and the turnout count of a courageous, openly anti-Macron police union were routinely ignored by the Mainstream Media until mid-April (here is Wikipedia’s tally of all three estimates, in French).

However, finally printing crowd counts from sources other than the (obviously self-interested) French Interior Ministry was clearly in keeping with the anti-Yellow Vest Mainstream Media: starting on March 23, France began deploying the military against French protesters, banning protests in urban centres nationwide (bans in rural areas began in early May), gave shocking orders for cops to “engage” (that is, “attack”) protesters, and also gave orders to make arrests more rapidly. Therefore, the outdated count of 9,000 could easily be vastly higher.

All the repression achieved what it was obviously intended to: scare French anti-government protesters away. Weekly protests averaged a quarter million people from January 1 until mid-March (cop union estimates), but after the harsh repression was announced until today protests averaged only 65,000 brave souls.

Western “independent” (and always-saintly) NGOs are no better than Western media: In a report released in late March, US-based Human Rights Watch had issued 131 articles, reports and statements on Venezuela – zero on France. The NGO is still totally silent on French repression.

Perhaps the most important question is: what are the protests about? On this issue there is also a huge difference: The protests in Hong Kong are over a law to extradite criminals, whereas in France the protests are over the criminal lack of public opinion in formulating public policy.

Those primarily threatened by Hong Kong’s law are financial criminals, as the island’s primary economic function is to serve as an England-dictated tax haven. This explains why exposed” tycoons are now rushing their wealth out of Hong Kong. Perhaps the primary initial complaint was that the law would damage Hong Kong’s “business climate”, which is undoubtedly why Western media – so supportive of neo-imperialism and rapacious neoliberal business practices – was so very opposed to the bill and so very supportive of the protesters.

Those primarily targeted by the Yellow Vests are also financial criminals – the anti-patriotic French bankers, politicians and journalists who have colluded to create a “Lost Decade” of economic growth even worse than either of Japan’s two examples. This decade of near-recession is being dramatically compounded by Francois Hollande’s and Macron’s executive decrees and socioeconomic “deforms” which are gutting France’s social safety net, working conditions and France’s tradition of being the only Western neo-imperialist nation which pursued relatively egalitarian economic policies (only domestically, of course).

So what can we learn from this comparison? We can fairly say that the differences are “cultural”, which is to say that they are linked to and produced by their political values.

On one hand we have Hong Kong’s Beijing-tied government – China operates on a “socialist democratic” model. The structure of their government, one easily finds from reading their constitution, has been deeply influenced by the early 20th century ideals of anti-imperialism and class struggle.

China has emphatically rejected the Western “liberal democratic” model, incarnated by France, which remains rooted in aristocratic, 18th century ideals, and which necessarily lacks the modern ideals of economic equality, gender and minority equality, democratic equality and the ability to prevent an oligarchic rule of the “1%”.

When it comes to China, Hong Kong and France, the numbers and data are so overwhelmingly one-sided that not much ink needs to be spilled in this column to draw the obvious conclusion: China’s socialist democratic system is obviously far, far more democratic than France’s.

The Chinese and Hong Kong model of democracy is far more responsive to the will of public opinion, and to the fundamental needs of their public, than France’s outdated, aristocratic, and fundamentally anti-democratic political system.

Perhaps this was not the case 100 years ago, but it is clearly the case in 2019.

However, much, much ink from other pens should be spilled to broadcast this conclusion, especially in hypocritical and deluded Western newsrooms.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of “I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China”.

Inside the Yellow Vests: What the Western media will not report (Part 2)

by Ollie Richardson for The Saker Blog

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Background

When the words “Yellow Vests”/“Yellow Jackets”/“Gilets Jaunes” are heard or read by someone who is more inclined to read sources of information that cannot be described as mainstream/corporate media, they most likely will say “Ah yes, I know who they are/what it is!” and recount what they heard or saw in the past when this topic was popular… for about a month. Or more specifically, during November-December 2018 when images such as the one below (a still from this video) were being widely disseminated.

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Then the Venezuela coup attempt, or Brexit, or Assange, etc retakes centre stage and what is happening in France fades into the background. What I am describing is simply the nature of the “news” cycle, and not a pretention to its consumers.

Hence why in March 2019 I wrote an article (part 1) based on my own primary research that aimed to convey the most important events in the history of the Yellow Vests movement. Whilst the information presented in this article is far from being comprehensive, it is also unproductive to report as isolated events every single perceived drama that happens both on the ground and on social networks. For analytical purposes, it is much more efficient – in an era where Twitter dictates the speed and pattern of the flow of information – to concatenate information and to zoom out enough in order to capture enough context without entering the realm of ultra-metaphysical babble.

But of course, over 2 months has passed since this article was published, and the situation has traversed along many twists and turns since. But if the main aim of the movement is to remove the neoliberal butcher Macron and dismantle party politics in general, then the destination is still somewhere beyond the horizon. Instead of writing another chronology of events and focusing on visual cues, such as police violence and photos of large processions, in this article I will simply write ten conclusions featuring examples that can be made based on 28 (at the time of writing) straight Saturday’s of mobilisation. I should stress that they are in no particular order.

1. The Yellow Vests are a catalyst for change, but do not embody some end product.

The French political scientist Samuel Hayat stated in an interview with Mediapart – one of the few independent media resources in France that supports the Yellow Vests – the following (translation is my own):

I do not think that this movement upsets the political field, even though the will of the Yellow Vests to get out of the partisan field is strong. Although the disrepute of politicians will only increase, the latter seems determined to continue to act as if everything could continue as before.

On the other hand, I think that this mobilisation will profoundly change the space of the social movements by allowing people, previously excluded, to enter it. Many Yellow Vests who did not participate until now have adopted the habit of demonstrating. I think they will not leave and that putting on once or putting on again a yellow vest will give them legitimacy in order to join this space of social movements.

There is no reason, in my opinion, for the movement to stop. The Yellow Vests have withstood so much slander, disrepute, repression, manoeuvres like the ‘grand debate’ that I do not see how the school holidays could stop it. One can imagine a base of mobilisations of low intensity, at the local and national level, with a regular rise in conflicts and grafts on more sectoral or partisan movements. In my opinion, not only will the Yellow Vests continue to fight, but they have created the conditions for the power of social movements of all kinds to increasingly rise in the coming years.”

In other words, the Yellow Vests movement is not the “be all and end all”, but a catalyst for other processes. Think of it like a battering ram against the fortress of pseudo-democracy – it creates breaches that in theory can be made even wider by additional forces. But the big mistake here is to think that this means that all the forces work harmoniously towards a sole objective or aim. This is not the case, and more on this topic can be read later.

2. Serious work on implementing “RIC” is ongoing in the background.

Whilst the cameras focus on the street marches and the clashes with the police, serious effort (mostly in the form of conferences – here is an example) is being made to implement a replacement for party politics – the main demand of the Yellow Vests. It is known in French as “Référendum d’initiative citoyenne”, which translates as Citizens’ Initiative Referendum.

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What is it? In simple words, it is direct democracy Swiss-style. The booklet photograph below sent to me by an acquaintance aids understanding of what this means. It can either take the form of the top left example (“direct democracy”), the top right example (“representative democracy”), or the bottom example, which is a hybrid of the former two (“liquid democracy”).

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An interesting democratic innovation currently in experimentation in some countries of the world such as Germany, Sweden, Iceland, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, and Brazil … mainly implemented within the pirate parties of these countries.

The point here is that no concrete form has been decided on, since matters are still at the experimental stage. The infographic below, created by the “Objectif RIC” organisation (which is 100% citizen activism), divides the process of implementation into 3 stages: inform, assemble, vote.

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In truth, citizen work on implementing “RIC” has been taking place for over 40 years in France. No government ever adopted it, since sawing the branch on which one sits isn’t convenient, but the demand for it grows more and more with each passing year (and governmental scandal). For my intents and purposes, the infographic below can be summarised in only one phrase: grassroots activism. It cannot be sprinkled on Élysée Palace like magic power, but the seeds can be planted locally and carefully fed/watered. Will fruits grow overnight? No. Do the Yellow Vests themselves understand this? Gradually, yes.

In this article I don’t intend to develop on the topic of “RIC” and write in detail about it, but I think that the video below can give laypersons a general (digestible) idea as to why it’s in demand.

3. Concerning the Saturday marches, things have cardinally changed.

As I alluded to earlier, the yellow processions in the streets are not the alpha and omega of what is happening in France. They are an element, certainly, but nothing more (and nothing less either). Here it is possible to enter into deep analysis of the process of organising protests, focusing on individuals, and even dissect video footage of the marches. But, as I said above, this is not especially constructive and ultimately will not teach anyone living outside of France anything that they can apply in their own country – after all, neoliberalistic globalism took root in all English-speaking countries.

What can be said however is that ever since Macron banned protests on the Champs-Élysées in Paris after the March 16th rampage (violators will receive a €135 fine, which becomes €375 if it’s not paid within 45 days), replaced the head of the Paris prefecture, and ordered local mayors to create certain zones in town and city centres across the country in which Yellow Vests protests are banned; ever since the Constitutional Court adopted the so-called “anti-casseur” law at the order of Macron (the police can stop and search anyone without having a formal reason to do so – something I’ve experienced enough times to now be fed up of it); ever since the police started to deliberately mutilate people for the purpose of psychological warfare, the demonstrations became seriously throttled. The initial tactic that in fact launched the Yellow Vests protests on November 17th 2018 was to just turn up at the Arc de’Triomphe without a sanction from the prefecture. But this was BEFORE the aforementioned law was passed, and BEFORE the Champs-Élysées ban (the metro stations on the avenue are now closed on Saturdays).

This new gear engaged by the flywheel of Macronian repression resulted in the Yellow Vests adapting a new tactic (it’s important to note that no sole “leader” organises demonstrations, but a group of “leaders” – yes): sanctioned protests, with the route approved by the prefecture. This tactic change is a double-edged sword, since the more radical anti-Macron protestors consider that a column encircled by the police from the start to the end of the route, with a dispersal time of 5:30pm, is not exactly something that makes the government poop its pants. But on the other hand, it allows a large group of people wearing yellow vests to assemble in a single place. The subsequent 4 Saturdays followed this scheme, with those who prefer more offensive actions (and who can only travel for financial/logistical reasons) preferring to either stay at home, due to the fear of being mutilated, or to protest locally. I personally participated in these “peaceful” protests and am glad that I did so, since I learnt a lot about the nuts and bolts of the movement as a result.

On April 20th another large non-sanctioned event (called “ultimatum”) was supposed to happen in Paris, and in hindsight I can say that it was start of an experiment (I stress: this is my opinion, the Yellow Vests did not officially declare an experiment or use this word in social media chatter). As I reported at the time, some Yellow Vests planned to all gather in one place (without a sanction) and to do something – probably to storm the Champs-Élysées, but we’ll never know what would have been decided since things went pear-shaped early. At the same time, other Yellow Vests planned to take part in a sanctioned march from Bercy to Place de la Republique. The plan to assemble without permission failed miserably since the police encircled the announced meeting place (and arrested and/or fined those who they could) and metro stations (even closing some stations), so plan B was to go to Bercy instead and take part in the sanctioned protest. As a result, and this was quite predictable, the sanctioned protest soon degenerated into a wild one, with the route to PdlR being invented on the fly and Black Bloc joining the column.

The lesson learnt on this day was that non-sanctioned protests of the kind seen at the start of the movement are now simply not possible. But the experiment needed additional evidence, since errors in this tactic were noted (having many pre-assembly meeting places, thus allowing the police to nip things in the bud before they’ve even begun; insisting on wearing a yellow vest) and an improved one would later be deployed.

On May 18th the prominent Yellow Vests who generally favour sanctioned marches and are less militant than other prominent faces received a wake up call that would ultimately result in them giving their consent to try another tactic: the police treated their sanctioned rally like a non-sanctioned one (watch the video – skim through it from 38:00 onwards. One of the signatories of the march shouts through the megaphone “What are you doing?! It’s a sanctioned demo!”, since he doesn’t understand why in the past they were more forgiving and kept their distance, but on this day they are hugging the column very tightly). I suspect that this happened because a certain “leader” announced just after the May 11th demonstration that the sanctioned and themed marches were useless and won’t propel the movement anymore, and thus the police thought that maybe the Yellow Vests had “bad” intentions. They were wrong on this occasion, because it would be May 25th – “ultimatum” No. 3 – when the Yellow Vests would try to exit the framework of being “peaceful”.

On this day a new and improved tactic was deployed – all Yellow Vests had to go to the Champs-Élysées but withoutwearing a yellow vest. Since I don’t want to describe everything that happened on that day (and how I walked 15 kilometers for what some may say was nothing) in this article, I will just say that the tactic failed. The police already knew what was planned (they monitor social networks) and sent dozens upon dozens of goons to the avenue. I know that it has become almost cliché to say, but I honestly felt I was in Nazi Germany at this time. The way in which the cops combed the avenue and chased anyone who shouted anti-Macron slogans was eerie, to say the least (my discreet photos are here, although I was cautious to not give the cops an excuse to fine me). Plan B on this day was to gather at Place de la Republique at 2pm for a sanctioned assembly. A repetition of April 20th then happened – watch the video below:

Thus, the method that has proven to be the most effective given the circumstances is to organise a sanctioned protest and then start a riot. Even if the approved assembly point(s) and route are boxed in by the cops from start to finish, the protestors at least have the chance to form a large crowd. I stumbled across this balanced/grounded Facebook comment (I censored the author’s name and profile picture) on May 26th that offers a window into the thinking of the average Yellow Vest after the end of this experiment:

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“I understand … we are all unique and responsible individuals … and whatever happens we will be alone with the consequences of our choices … I also am nostalgic of the first demonstrations and their spontaneity … but I know today that they are no longer possible without paying a very high price … so I made the choice not to go to Paris this Saturday … because I knew what the risks were and I was personally not ready to run them … I have already lost a large part of my entourage, I assume, I receive complaints from my children who are starting to find the time to be long and our absence too frequent, I assume the fear of finding myself unjustly gassed, encircled, and potentially hurt for my ideas … but I was not ready to explain to my children that I have no more money because we will have incurred a €270 fine by participating in an unsanctioned demonstration, or not go home due to being detained on the day before the [EU] elections on which we base a small hope to show our anger. Obviously it is not right to have to risk all that in order to be able to express our opinions … but we are no longer in France of before… so I take my responsibilities and I adapt … So I went to [the sanctioned protest in] Amiens this Saturday … because the demo of [Sophie] Tissier [a fake Yellow Vest who always registers sanctioned protests in order to split the Yellow Vests up on Saturdays. I don’t know if she is a conscious saboteur or just an idiot, but her demos are a total waste of time – O.R ] – no thank you … now I do not blame anyone and remain an admirer of the courage of some and attempts made … and yes Amiens was not Paris and Paris missed me … I will come to the next sanctioned protest in Paris … and in the same way I will take onboard the reflections of those who think that this is not the solution … but everyone has to face their personal choices …”

For those laypersons who observe this experimental process from afar it seems like the movement is running out of steam (after all, the government takes great pleasure in disseminating its fake numbers for mobilisation and instructing its pocket media to repeat such mantras as “the numbers lessen”, “the movement is coming to a standstill”, etc), because there hasn’t been any large-scale rioting since March 16th. But this, indeed, only seems to be the case. When the movement is viewed from the perspective I described above (it’s not the alpha and omega), one can see that the movement does not “essoufflé” (run out of breath), but on the contrary, in the wider context of tightening police repression and intensifying media brainwashing (the worst example so far is when the government openly accused the Yellow Vests of attacking a hospital, before facts emerged an hour later proving this to be a total lie), the fact that the movement hasn’t surrendered and “dares” to continue acts as an additional thorn in the Macron regime’s side.

4. Exportation isn’t possible

The Yellow Vests protests didn’t just happen as a reaction to something that happened in November 2018, although the planned fuel tax was certainly what provoked the worst riots since 1968. France as a country of course has a history of “revolutions” and violent changes of power – alternating between a monarchy and a republic, so in this respect what is happening today is not much of a riddle, especially for historians like Samuel Hayat. But to throw yellow vests on British Brexiteers, for example, and to forecast a similar result would be most ridiculous.

Firstly, British people do not have the same mentality as French (both native and immigrants), and as we have seen, they prefer to use the ballot box (to vote for Nigel Farage’s “Brexit Party”) and remain “civilised”. Not to mention the fact that Margaret Thatcher strangled the protest movement and her noxious neoliberal successors hammered in additional nails. Secondly, Britain is still a regionally divided country, and what concerns Londoners might not necessarily matter to Yorkshire residents, not to mention the Welsh, Irish, or Scottish, and visa-versa. But at the same time, promoting the participative democracy model of decision-making wouldn’t count as exportation, since it’s not a French invention and has been implemented in different countries around the world. At the end of the day, France has its own contradictions, and in this regard the Yellow Vests are a manifestation of decisions made by its past rulers. An example of this was given above: previous governments’ lack of interest in implementing RIC. So, until this demand (which will grow exponentially) is met, whoever is President can also expect unrest if “reforms” and “austerity” are implemented.

An additional factor that also must be taken into account is the history of the Vichy regime founded in 1940. Again, it might seem cliché to cite a country’s Nazi-collaborator past, but it’s simply impossible to just pretend that it isn’t connected to today’s events. Hence why the Yellow Vests chant “Police nationale, milice du capital”, referencing Pétain’s henchmen and the role of the police today in protecting capitalists.

5. Talking about the influence of the CRIF lobby is difficult

In order to adequately understand the Yellow Vests movement, it is advisable to think of it as a slice of a many-layered cake. In the column that marches in sanctioned protests on Saturdays there are liberals of all shades who voted against Le Pen in 2017 (note: not for Macron) and like to think that they are morally superior because they wouldn’t say boo to a goose (LGBTists, environmentalists, pro-migrantists, unionists, Trotskyists, “Trente Glorieuses”-ists, feminists, etc), “anti-fascists” (they cooperate with the Yellow Vests but at the same time keep distance; they haven’t said anything about the Banderist regime in Kiev, and most likely can’t even point to Ukraine on a map, but believe that all governments are “fascist” and will thus attack the cops) blue collar workers (they do manual labour jobs and are typically more sincere than liberals; throwing a glass bottle at the cops is not an issue for them), immigrant youth (Sykes-Picot Arabs and Africans who do not conform to the field negro/house negro paradigm that capitalism imposes on them; they don’t tend to join a Black Bloc but prefer to mingle with the Yellow Vests), angry mothers (tough as nails and would demolish an unarmed cop in a fist fight; not to be confused with liberal feminists), militant pensioners (in difference to “Trente Glorieuses”-ists, they can often be seen defying the tear gas and even confronting the cops). But when the rioting begins, the liberals disappear and denounce “violence”, even though the state rapes them every single day (and bombs foreign countries using their tax money), and Black Bloc (youth who are a mixture of the more liberal protestors I described above, with a more “anarchist” tint) takes their place.

However, a public discussion about the main warmonger (for example) in France, the anti-Gilets Jaunes and pro-Israel lobby known as “Le Conseil représentatif des institutions juives de France” (CRIF), is only possible with a narrow section of this slice (non liberals). There are of course Jews who are Yellow Vests, and they do publically counter the accusations that the movement is “anti-Semitic”. It is, however, possible to publically criticise the Bernard-Henri Lévy & Co war machine, since its track record in France has dirtied itself beyond the point where it can be whitewashed. There are also Yellow Vests who wave Palestinian flags at demonstrations and spread anti-apartheid materials.

CRIF’s campaign against the Yellow Vests led to Macron “adopting an international definition of anti-Semitism” that equates it to anti-Zionism. I.e., criticising Israel’s extermination of Palestinians suddenly became a criminal offence. The cherry on the cake: watch how the Alain Finkielkraut debacle led to this nauseating Macron-CRIF performance:

6. The police severely intimidated the “leaders” and impudently abuse their powers

Even if the Yellow Vests movement takes pride in “not having leaders” and having a “horizontal” structure, someone who for the first time observes the movement for a week will affirm the opposite – that it has leaders, and thus it is has vertical structure. They will see that in terms of the number of social media followers there are 4 main Yellow Vests who stand out but affirm that they are not leaders, and a group of 20 or so figures who play a supporting role. Some rarely take part in demonstrations but instead organise the RIC conferences and do all of the corresponding donkeywork – a kind of intelligentsia. One of the “leaders” in particular was summoned for questioning by the police after May 16th’s demo and was forced to moderate their rhetoric (warned not to call for non-sanctioned protests) or face prison. The same applies to another “leader”, who is still involved in a legal process concerning the “organisation of a non-sanctioned protest”. This has resulted in communication on social networks becoming encrypted – “I heard there was a protest on Saturday, I didn’t organise it, I’m just passing on the information”, like a game of cat and mouse.

Concerning the abuse of powers, no employee of “Compagnies républicaines de sécurité”, nor “Brigade anti-criminalité”, nor “mobile gendarmes” has been punished since the Yellow Vests movement began in November 2018. The

“Inspection générale de la Police nationale” (IGPN) has opened 240 (at the time of writing) cases, but there haven’t been any prosecutions. Not to mention the fact that Alexandre Benalla is still a free man. Below we see what the police think about any attempts to raise awareness about their crimes.

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In fact, it was only on May 21st that one CRS officer was fired for an “unjustified grenade launch” in 2016 (pre-Macron era) that blinded a union protestor.

It is for this reason that the police don’t wear any identification numbers or markings and cover their faces with balaclavas. If the IGPN calls a Yellow Vest complainant and asks for information about an incident, what will they say? No ID markings, face was covered, no “police” armband, etc. I.e., any case is doomed before it’s even opened. Here is an interesting post from May 27th concerning the Champs-Élysées circus two days prior:

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“Good evening everyone,

A friend street medic in Paris is in contact with the LDH to have framework and legal support during demonstrations.

She has to remain anonymous because of her profession, so I post this for her:

‘On Saturday, May 25th for ultimatum No. 3, we tried to reach Avenue Grande Armée. We were warned about the strategy of the police, namely to let the demonstrators pass through 1 or 2 checks before encircling and detaining them, confiscating their materials, and handing out fines for gathering at a forbidden place (or some other formulation that I do not exactly have in mind anymore).

Before going to the avenue, I contacted the legal representative of LDH to have legal advice on fines. Here is what I was told, so share to the greatest number of Yellow Vests or medics that are in this case:

– The fact of allowing access to the place of demonstration, even if it is prohibited, and to then stop everyone present and give them fines is called a misuse of procedure, the fines are questionable and do not hold water.

Be careful, you must have passed through a first barrage for this principle to hold true. Being allowed past means that you have been tacitly allowed to gather on the spot, and tacit consent has legal value.

The LDH is ready to help you to cancel the fines.

You can send your requests for help to the following email: juridique@ldh.france.org

Or to the hotline (note it is open only at certain times): 01 56 55 51 00 which will retransfer you to the hotline for legal assistance.

Courage to all’.”

7. Most of the Yellow Vests’ activist work takes place outside of demonstrations

As I mentioned in point No. 1, the Saturday processions are not the only thing that the Yellow Vests are doing in order to spread the word of the movement. One example: during the rest of the week (normally after work in the evenings) they occupy roundabouts and spaced next to main roads. Below is a photo of a small roundabout at Île d’Oléron:

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And here is what the Yellow Vests did at a bigger roundabout at Phalsbourg:

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And here is a makeshift village created at Vienne:

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And the government’s response? Either demolish installations on the roundabout (photo from April 2nd at Mercurol)…

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Set fire to the huts created by the Yellow Vests….

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A second example of the Yellow Vests activism work is the fight against speed cameras:

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A third example is the “péage” actions, where they promote the idea of free highways:

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A fourth example is the occupation of premises belonging to multinational companies (in the video below the target is Starbucks) that avoid to pay tax in France:

And a fifth example is the creation of the debate platform “Le Vrai Debate” to counter Macron’s electoral campaign re-run known as the “grand debate”, which he launched after the May 16th Yellow Vests offensive on Paris as a damage control PR campaign. The work that has gone into this website, for example, is massive and attacks the problem from another angle.

8. The Yellow Vests are apolitical… or not?

Along with the mantra of “we have no leaders”, the Yellow Vests affirm that they are not interested in party politics. But just how realistic is this pledge? For example, although some Yellow Vests abstained from voting in the EU election (which is the equivalent of a vote for Macron) in order to remain apolitical, other did not abstain, and some even voted for Le Pen. Immediately after the news broke that Le Pen was leading the exit polls, cyber quarrels began between the Yellow Vests, with an example being the Facebook post below from the morning after the EU election:

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“Big rant this morning!

I’m tired of seeing this big war on social networks.

At the foundations we fought for better living conditions, lower fuel price, lower taxes … the list is long …

All we get is DIVISION !!!!

Where are our true values!

We are all in the same shit.

So why the f*ck do we care about race, religion, apolitical or not, unionized or not!

The goal was to unite, not to suffer the moods of each other.

When will a true gathering and union come true?

Everyone has their own opinion.

I have the impression that everyone has forgotten why so many people were on the street on November 17th and that now it’s for personal reasons.

When will you put your anger aside and when will there be true fraternity ??????”

Here we can again refer to the quote of Samuel Hayat that was mentioned above:

I do not think that this movement upsets the political field, even though the will of the Yellow Vests to get out of the partisan field is strong. Although the disrepute of politicians will only increase, the latter seems determined to continue to act as if everything could continue as before.”

Indeed, the fact that the Yellow Vests are a minority of French people (even if the polls say that the majority of the country supports them, these armchair supporters do not physically do anything to assist the cause) automatically rules out any ideas of removing Macron via the ballot box. Hence why changing the system via grassroots work with RIC is more preferable and realistic. In response to the question “Can this ‘citizenism’ (rejection of left/right politics) really organise politics?”, Samuel Hayat says the following:

“This ‘citizenism’ is the object of constant construction and reconstruction within the movement itself, through a series of devices that build unity. This is not only about unified claims, but also about local and national leaders who constantly offer reminders about the norm of unity. It is this constant work that gives the movement its unprecedented longevity and makes it particularly resilient and inclusive. Refusing any demand that is not unanimous imposes to not talk about immigration, unemployment, wages, and the public service, which are divisive topics.

This is also why the movement prevents itself from asking the question of domination, because domination would reveal the existence of crystallised and partly invisible powers that go through the movement itself, be it between small bosses and the precarious, between private employees and public employees, between unemployed people and people who work, between men and women, between whites and non-whites … The survival of the movement is thus conditioned by the fact that all of this remains hushed up.

This is not an aporia of the movement, since this does not prevent it from continuing and taking an increasingly important place in the space of social movements. But if one places oneself in the tradition of the left, which gives a central place to the questioning of dominations, it is a movement that can not completely belong to it.”

I.e., it’s not that the movement is “apolitical”, but more that an assembly of thousands of people in an atomised society can only be possible through a temporary consensus based on a primitive instincts. The danger is, of course, that if the aim is achieved and the party politics system is removed along with their multi-national company sponsors, there could be a “Lord of the Flies” scenario, since deep societal contradictions were never collectively identified and resolved.

9. The coup in Ukraine paradoxically serves as an example

Unfortunately, the propaganda broadcasted by the US neocons and their EU lapdogs concerning their coup d’etat in Kiev in 2014 serves as an example of a “revolution” for many Yellow Vests. They see footage on YouTube or Netflix (the propaganda movie “Winter on Fire” is the main culprit) of molotov cocktails being launched at “Berkut” or of brainwashed Ukrainians putting pots on their heads, or of politicians being thrown into bins, and they think that it actually led to a revolution. They think that clashes with the police will automatically lead to the government being overthrown and that a paradise will thus arrive. In fact, one of the “leaders” even changed their Twitter profile banner to reflect this “fact”. Well, clashes with the police haven’t led to anything of that nature, which is proof in itself that the Yellow Vests movement is not externally financed like Maidan was ($6 billion from the State Department + some cookies and snipers). But most Yellow Vests do not understand either this or the concept of a “colour revolution”. This is simply down to ignorance and is a consequence of years of brainwashing. Now they don’t trust the mainstream media – the same agencies that sold “Maidan” as a “revolution” – and prefer RT and Sputnik. A painful paradox, indeed.

A vivid example: on March 30th I witnessed (at the 2:20 mark in this video) someone literally replicating a Nuland NGO media trick – holding a mirror in front of the police. How so?

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I know for a fact that he saw a Facebook post in a Yellow Vests group published just a few days prior showing the original stunt in Ukraine and recommending to copy it.

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Even though there was only one idiot who decided to follow the advice, it is still one too many. What’s most tragic here is that what’s happening now in France is the boomerang effect of the government’s foreign meddling, and so evidently the French people have to experience the consequences on their own skin in order to learn from it. Does this entail civil war? This is a topic for another day. But educational work needs to be done anyway. Hence why Sputnik France recently put Donbass in the spotlight and published a kind of “dummies guide” to non-existent “Russian aggression” in the Donetsk People’s Republic. Of course, this work has to be gradual and systematic, since Russian media must first gain the trust of the French people before it can put pressure on sensitive points.

10. The most shocking contrast

Whilst the scenes of protesters clashing with the police are shocking, the most striking “clash”, or at least to my eyes, is between the Yellow Vests and the bourgeoisie stumbling down the streets like consumerist zombies, plugged into a rose-tinted matrix where Stockholm syndrome enforces this field negro/house negro paradigm I mentioned earlier (see the photo below, I don’t know who took it but it’s case in point)

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On April 20th, whilst I was traveling to the other side of Paris, I saw and photographed a scene that epitomizes the problem. I have nothing more to add.

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I will reiterate – the 10 conclusions I have written above are not the only 10 conclusions that should be drawn from nearly 7 months of Yellow Vests protests. They are just important observations. A definitive list of conclusions can easily fill the pages of a book, but as I mentioned earlier – referring to history and concatenating events that follow a certain pattern saves a lot of time and is simply more efficient, taking into account the speed of information consumption today. And it goes without saying that my conclusions may not correspond to other people’s, although I’d like to think that such wealth disparity and social stratification aren’t as “non-existent” as the presstitute media likes to pretend they are.

If anyone has any questions about anything written in this article or about the Yellow Vests movement in general, please ask them in the comments below and I will answer them to the best of my ability in a future article.

Related

What the West can learn: Yellow Vests are demanding a Cultural Revolution (8/8)

May 23, 2019

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

 

ForWhat the West can learn: Yellow Vests are demanding a Cultural Revolution (8/8) years I have talked about “White Trash Revolutions”, and the emergence of the Yellow Vests proves that my finger is perfectly on the pulse of things: the only people publicly wearing “Yellow Vests” on the streets of Paris prior to November 17, 2018, were… garbage men.

So, imagine me, with my love of Trash Revolutions of all hues (Iran’s 1979 “Revolution of the Barefooted” amounts to the same idea)… and then the French adopted the look of trash collectors as their uniform – I couldn’t be happier!!!

But this idea is not new – even in modern 24/7 politics, genuine historical processes take years or decades to culminate. In 2016, following the election of Donald Trump in the United States, Slavov Zizek expressed the same idea offhandedly: “Sorry, White Trash is our only hope. We have to win them over.”

I could not agree more. But we must go further than just “winning over Trash” – we must let them win.

That is the essence of China’s Cultural Revolution.

I penned this 8-part series because the Yellow Vests show us – urgently, courageously, necessarily, violently – just how relevant China’s Cultural Revolution (CR) should be to Westerns in 2019.

If you have not read the previous 7 parts of this series (and know only anti-CR propaganda) then you may not realize the China’s CR proved how good, productive, efficient and equal society can be – democratically, economically, educationally and culturally – when rural people are supported instead of insulted.

This entire series has not been designed to celebrate China or socialism – it has been written to show what happens when the rural-urban divide is seriously addressed in modern politics, as it was in China during the CR in an unprecedented manner. Society has many seemingly irreconcilable poles of contention – the only one this series seriously addresses is the rural-urban divide.

The CR showed that solutions to this seemingly irreconcilable divide are possible if we accept that Trash is our only hope and not – as the urban-based Mainstream Media insists – the cause of our ills.

Not everyone in a small town is a farmer, but the exclusion of village values is obviously why France’s rural traffic roundabouts have been blockaded for 5.5 months (the government started banning these rural protests on May 11).

More than anything, I think that studying and emulating the CR can end the urban West’s hatred, fear and disgust of rural citizens in power. Islamophobia – every definition includes the fear of Islam as a political force – is pretty bad, but Hillbillyophobia – fear of rural values as a political force – is truly at a modern apex. Thus this series.

The world has seen 2 Cultural Revolutions already – is the West finally ready for 1?

This series used the CR to to illustrate that France and the West are 50 years behind China because they are being wracked by a Yellow Vest movement which is essentially demanding a Cultural Revolution which the Chinese already had. However, because the neoliberal empire known as the European Union has been undemocratically forced on Europe during the interim, the French have even more work to do than 1960s China, but the first step is to realize that the Yellow Vests are essentially demanding a Cultural Revolution.

That IS what this is all about every Saturday – Yellow Vests want institutions to cease their terrible functioning, every major policy to come up for review (constitutional changes, staying in the EU, Eurozone and NATO, Françafrique, austerity spending policies, taxation policies, environmental policies, banking, education, housing, industrialisation, etc.) and new local, grassroots groups to implement them – a Cultural Revolution.

Like Iran from 1980-83 (Iran had the world’s only other state-sponsored Cultural Revolution, obviously modelled on China’s), like China from 1965-74, France wants several years where everything is brought to a halt in order to engage in mass discussions, with the aim of drastically updating French democracy and French culture in order to accord with more modern political ideals.

Capitalists cannot tolerate such a halting. Not only because it would lead to a reduction in their power, and not only because modern political ideals must be Socialist Democratic and not Liberal Democratic – it is also a cultural thing: “keep calm and carry on” is the fundamental ethos of conservatism worldwide.

The two Cultural Revolution have said: “To hell with this – halt! Now waitaminut…. what on earth have we become and should we keep being like this?” Both CRs also led to miniature civil wars, as reactionary or fascist forces, and insanely radical and democratically unwanted leftist forces (like the Mojahedin-e Khalq – MKO), were pushed out.

And, after the halt, as the trajectories of both China and Iran show amazing success. They started over (revolution), then stopped (cultural revolution), then restarted anew yet again.

A Cultural Revolution – China and Iran prove – does something the US and French Revolutions did not do: put into power the formerly-oppressed class of people, which is also the majority class. These four revolutions all eliminated monarchies, but only the former two put the oppressed in charge.

(I do not call the French or American aristocracies “oppressed”, as they previously colluded with the king and shared in the ill-gotten gains – call me a radical, I guess.)

The Yellow Vests are this oppressed class which deserves to lead, and which would certainly lead the country better than France’s current leaders. Everybody in France knows this, but they feel powerless to make it happen. The Yellow Vests are also – everyone in France knows this as well – the majority class. The conditions for Cultural Revolution – for Trash Revolution – are as clear as the yellow vests of garbagemen who wear reflective gear to avoid traffic.

Yes, the Yellow Vests are not solely the result of an untreated urban divide, but anyone following them knows that this is one of the primary causes of the movement.

Those who have been following this series will know what I mean: what should rural “Jimo County, France” be demanding in their nascent French Cultural Revolution?

It’s a genuine political question to ask: is the future only for cities?

Modernized countries need to honestly ask themselves: should humanity’s goal be to empty the rural areas of people?

Are rural areas that bad? That depressing, boring, backward and hate-filled?

The rural-urban migration of the past century is universal, but do we not need any rural inhabitants? Will robots, drones and computers allow everyone to live in supposedly-superior urban areas? Are the values which flourish in rural areas more often than in urban areas not necessary for human culture any more – are these values only hindrances to human progress?

Because if the answer is: “No – rural areas will always have some people; farming areas will never be so efficient as to not need human involvement; rural people actually do learn a useful thing or two about life which city people don’t learn,” then we have no choice but to tackle the urban-rural divide as much as other key societal divides.

So, when we realize that we must clearly affirm that, “Yes, we need rural areas,” that necessarily implies a huge overhaul of value systems in the modern capitalist West, which has become hugely urban dominated. The aspects of this dominance – the financial futures exchanges, mass media, only-urban cultural hubs, the denigration of a collective ethos inherent in rural communities, etc. – are so obvious and so numerous that I don’t need to list them here. The path of history shows that the era of Thomas Jefferson’s ideal of farmer-citizen-soldier have been totally jettisoned in the West, probably due to the industrial/electrical/digital revolutions. However, China’s CR showed how necessary it was to re-balance the scales in favor of the country life.

What is more interesting is to discuss how specific policies of the China’s CR could be translated to the West. The Iranian CR was the democratically demanded introduction of Islam into governance, which resulted in what is clearly Iranian Islamic Socialism (out in book form this summer, Inshallah), but I don’t think the West is interested in religion-based ideas anymore – they have deluded themselves into thinking that religion is always regressive, never progressive. (The West prefers secular zero-theism – which is actually the bleakest and most egotistical version of monotheism, because zero is not a plural number, after all.)

But what are being demanded are cultural changes. These precede and influence political changes.

On the level of practical politics, which I will discuss later, I will be sweeping and brief here: neoliberalism (and free-market capitalism) is incompatible with democracy, and we all know it, and thus this particular version of the pan-European project is inherently anti-democratic; the historic heavy, urban-based statism of France is an anti-democratic legacy of the Napoleonic “revolution”; the 1789 French “revolution” was bourgeois and thus not democratic… 2019 France has to stop holding on to all of these falsely progressive legacies. China’s CR – and all forms of socialism – prove that local, socialist democracy is the only guarantee of success and stability. But back to cultural changes….

Above all, a Western Cultural Revolution must begin with an urban mea culpa – the gift of apology is the only way to start in any such situation of familial division and bad blood, which is what France currently has. Even Jesus son of Mary said the same thing, according to Matthew 5:23 – Therefore if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

After reconciliation comes actual gifts – reparations – in order to even the scales in the favor of rural areas.

But reparations and admission of arrogance/imperialism is verboten in capitalist societies – what the CR proves is that the rural-urban divide can only be healed through a collective mentality, not an individualist mentality: the urban individual must renounce their alleged superiority.

That is the primary psycho-cultural message of the Yellow Vests; the proof of this is obvious in the exaggerated hatred of President Emmanuel Macron.

His aloofness and arrogance are unprecedented in modern times, I agree, but his anti-democratic methods and beliefs are not at all different from his predecessor, Francois Hollande. Perhaps his anti-democratic methods and beliefs are 10-15% worse than Hollande’s, but many Yellow Vests only want Macron to quit simply because they have been so deranged by Macron’s urban sense of entitlement that they lose their sense of scope – I hear it often from Vesters every Saturday. But, just like Trump, Macron is the symptom and not the disease.

Macron has become a symbol of what we can call the “anti-CR forces in France”, and the danger is that if the symbol falls – if Macron actually quits – that could stave off the demand for an actual French Cultural Revolution. Certainly, Macron’s puppet-masters will allow him to resign before they allow the sweeping discussions and changes of a CR.

Thus the first step towards reducing the rural-urban divide in the West begins with a revalorisation of rural areas. As long as mainstream journalists continue insisting on a “red state-blue state” divide, no nation can possibly be united, healthy and successful.

This revaluing is a cultural change – what about practical measures?

The CR sent politicians to do farm work – no wonder the Western political class hates the idea of a CR

The disease which roils the West is something which socialism is based on, and especially Maoism, and which was ably demonstrated in the Great Leap Forward – the collective mentality must triumph over the individualist mentality. Indeed, I fairly refer to the CR as the “Great Leap Forward #2” because the CR was an unquestionable restarting of collectivist projects.

But Westerners don’t wanna! To hell with the collective!

The collective line – which in Western Liberal Democracy is only limited to preserving the solidarity of the 1% among themselves – is really rather religious in its view, as it is based on the idea of something larger than just the individual and goes far beyond day-to-day concerns.

Nor is it mere nationalism, which is just a larger, modern version of tribalism. In neoliberal capitalism the loyalty is only to one’s self and family (and often not even to family, but one’s “household” within the necessarily multi-household “family”… and often not even to one’s household!), so it does not even achieve tribalism. How someone can live without a view of something larger than one’s own self is beyond me – it is truly to live without honor, and only with ego.

(In order to prove the enormous socioeconomic success of the CR, this book drew heavily from the ground-breaking investigative & scholarly work The Unknown Cultural Revolution: Life and Change in a Chinese Village, by Dongping Han, a former Chinese villager himself. Han hailed from and studied rural Jimo County, interviewing hundreds of locals about the Cultural Revolution (CR) and poring over local historical records. Han was kind enough to write the forward to my new book, Ill Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China, which is available for purchase. This 8-part series is not a part of that book.)

Accordingly, Han relates the motivation of someone who worked for free on Jimo’s irrigation project during the CR: “She said that she, like others, volunteered to work at these projects at the time because it was an honorable thing to do.”

The major problem in Western capitalism is that their people are not lacking in honor – that would be untrue, as well as insulting: the problem is they do not believe their governments should promote selflessness and honor, as morality is a strictly personal issue. In China, Cuba, Iran and other socialist democratic-based systems, maybe everybody ignores the government’s morality campaigns, LOL, but such campaigns exist, at least, and thus surely have an impact (and a positive one).

A lesson of the CR is that if the government does not promote a “collective mentality”, then there is no “free-market magic” which can reliably conjure up the same necessary feeling, action and outcome.

But promotion is not leadership – leadership is done by doing! Perhaps the Chinese had a leg up in understanding this concept, as Confucianism stresses leadership by example.

“After the failure of the Great Leap Forward , many farmers in Jimo were so bitter about the food shortages that they declared they would not do any more work for the commune. Why, then, were Jimo farmers willing to work hard for the collective during the Cultural Revolution? What was behind this change of attitude? Some workers and farmers testified that the practice of cadres’ participation in production during the Cultural Revolution made an important difference. They said that when leaders worked hard, common villagers would work hard with them. … More importantly, village youth, politically emboldened through the Cultural Revolution conflicts and educated in the new schools, were ready to challenge party leaders if they did not work with ordinary people. … Common villagers would not tolerate lazy leaders. If leaders did not work, villagers refused to work as well, which would lead to a decline in production and living standards. If the leaders did not work hard, villagers would elect someone else to replace them in the year-end election, someone who was ready to work hard.” (emphasis mine)

Now Macron constantly says that he works hard, but he does not work hard with ordinary people – therein lies a world of difference.

It is impossible for an unempathetic leader (as Macron clearly is), who has never worked a regular, dreary, timeclock-punching job in his life (as Macron never has) to make policies which benefit the average worker when he has no idea what an average worker goes through.

I include that passage because it is a fascinating phenomenon, seemingly unique to Chinese socialism – it is a dagger in the heart of Western technocratism. I wonder: how it can be replicated? Did Mao or Fidel spend time working in the fields at 55 years old? LOL, an elder-worshipping Iranian would probably commit suicide before being forced to watch Khamenei, 80, do hard labor in front of them (the guy already lost use of his right arm due to a bomb from the MKO, so how much more effort should he give?).

But what if Macron spent just one week working at a farm? I think his approval rating would rise 10 points immediately!

Macron is 41 – is he just lazy? Is he so effete that he doesn’t like hard & sweaty work? Or is it that he is trying to cultivate an image of someone who is “above” or “smarter than” everybody else in France, and thus only deigns to spend his time on a “superior” type of work? It’s clearly the latter – Macron is trying to cultivate the image that his mind and soul are too valuable, too finely-tuned, to waste on lower-class work.

(But it’s really surprising that a young Western leader doesn’t do these types of propaganda ops. If anybody in the Iranian government is reading this: I will GLADLY work a pistachio farm for months, even years at a time – sheesh, that sounds like heaven, as I write this from the most-population dense city in the Western world. (Y’all would have to pay to store my stuff, though. I guess I’d lose my apartment in Paris. Not that I own it, of course, but it is SO HARD just to find a long-term apartment to rent here – I moved 10 times in my first 3.5 years in France.) Anyway, I predict that in the future, with viral videos and the omnipresence of screens, there will be some leader who takes advantage of every country’s love of hard work – and this will be denounced as “populism” by general population-hating capitalists.)

Crucially, Han writes, “They participated in manual labor more conscientiously than their predecessors had. In some localities it was stipulated that members of the county revolution committee had to participate in manual labor for about two hundred days a year, and members of the commune revolutionary committees had to work in the fields for more than two hundred days a year.”

How can these ideas be applied elsewhere? Could we possibly imagine President Macron working manual labor for 8 hours a day for 10 days, much less 200? What about Theresa May working at an elder care center? These ideas are delicious but ludicrous – certainly, their defense would be that they have “more important things to do”. They are “above” such work; such work would degrade their incredible abilities.

These unstated, but universally perceived, beliefs, is a real problem – the CR solved this problem; thus this series.

This is a huge, flaming, primary message of the CR – rural toil (but also factory toil, service sector toil, or other toiling lower and middle class jobs) is indispensable in creating good governors. There is only one clear solution – joining the masses at work – and yet it would take a CR in the West for such things to occur.

I have relayed Han’s data which show the economic, industrial educational explosion for rural areas – seeing the cultural changes the CR wrought on their local political leaders: How fortunate (and superior) is the Chinese system that they had the CR?

Such practices are inherently anti-technocratic: a politician with a PhD who has to work some manual labor may be a worse technocrat, due to less time spent wonking out, but he or she is a better human being and governor.

Han relates a great story: A respected Peoples’ Liberation Army veteran returned to Jimo after four years in the army, to much acclaim, and he was elected secretary of a village Communist Youth League. He was asked to work on the irrigation project, which involved four people pushing a wheelbarrow of mud weighing 1,000 pounds. “But his army life had never put him to the test of such hard work.” The leader could not do the work, and thus was the naozheng – the incompetent person – in the group. He was not re-elected the following year.

“It was important that leaders could talk high-sounding words, but they had to live up to what they said at the same time. Otherwise nobody would listen to them. … The CCP’s policy then was: yu chenfen, dan bu wei chenfen (class labels are important, but they are not the exclusive factor in judging a person).”

I find it very hard to believe any demonstrating Yellow Vest wouldn’t agree with these policies and beliefs of the CR; putting politicians to work would be Yellow Vest demand #26 if they only knew about it.

Macron does not appear very physically strong… but that is no matter. What is important is that he only finally said the words “Yellow Vests” in public on April 25rd – he clearly has no interest in working shoulder to shoulder with them, no matter what job we can find for him to not be the naozheng at.

Why would such a sensible policy – forcing politicians to do SOME real work – likely be opposed by supporters of Liberal Democracy? Because forcing them to do things they personally don’t want to do is an alleged violation of Western individualist rights. The irony, of course, is that the 1740-1840 heyday of Liberal Democracy rested upon the stolen wages of slaves. And when the slave-masters were forced to work in the countryside – what a horror the CR was!

I don’t see it that way at all. I think, especially when tied to promises of advancement, it is a perfect apprenticeship for future politicians. China knows that, and they are sending another 10 million urban cadres to the countryside – more well-rounded, respectful leaders in the future for China thanks to CR 2.0.

The Cultural Revolution lessons for modern schools

Culture is taught – it is not inbred. Thus a revolution in education is just as fundamental as a revolution in the “work” of politicians. The CR grasped this as well.

I would be remiss not to include a short section on education in this final part. Previous parts of this series examined Han’s data and conclusions regarding educational policy changes, because giving equal access to education – and making schooling truly egalitarian and not urban-elite based nor technocratic – was truly a primary, if not the primary, motivation and goal of the CR. I reiterate Han’s thesis and data, which I gave in Part 1, because it is so necessary: “…this study contends that that the political convulsions of the Cultural Revolution democratized village political culture and spurred the growth of rural education, leading to substantial and rapid economic development.” Education change is the middle link between political culture change and economic change.

Firstly, there is a major problem of gender imbalance in modern schools: in Iran and seemingly all other modernised areas women outperform men, including at security spots i at university. This is not a cause for celebration, but a huge problem.

If men were outperforming women, we would say that there is some sort of prejudice occurring or, as is the case now, the system is simply set up for young men to fail more often than young women, correct? You never hear this view in the West, as their societies are far more matriarchal than in Asia.

But China’s Cultural Revolution did what I think all schools should do: not simply “be schools”.

It is something like a crime against humanity how young, fun, spirit-filled boys are forced to wedge themselves behind a desk for their entire youth. The Cultural Revolution did what many boys find fun – doing stuff: they had to work on a farm, a workshop, a lab, and even money-making activities. That all beats “school” for young and teenage boys.

Crucially, these are all activities which educate kids on the serious facts of life, facts which are vital for happiness far more than yet more technocratic learning.

A teenager who cuts grass, picks up garbage or simply breaks rocks for 7 hours one day a week learns many things. Among them: if you do not study you will be doing this boring work for the rest of your life; hard work is needed to maintain society; manual labor is hard, and thus those who do it must be respected; “boring” or toiling labor requires just as much attention and effort as “office work”, or mental work, and thus must be respected; some jobs wear humans out faster than others, and thus social safety nets – with different rules – are required to avoid widespread misery.

But in a capitalist system, which is technocratic and not meritocratic, 21st century students are incredibly overburdened by testing and homework.

Of course: this is primarily a result of forcing competition via false scarcities in education and jobs – forcing competition is what free market/neoliberal societies are built upon, of course. The CR recognised this and I relayed Han’s detailing of the enormous explosion in rural school creation.

But Liberal Democratic supporters will insist that schools must remain dull and conservative with nihilistic claims such as: “School is just a way to make sheep; is really just child care, because both parents have to work in order to survive; societal masters are only interested in creating compliant cubicle drones, human robots for factory work, and subservient service industry slaves.” I agree: in capitalist countries.

But in socialist countries, where power has been devolved to workers and away from the 1%/technocratic class, other educational policies ARE possible and ARE implemented. Because the Chinese Communist Party explicitly sought to reduce the influence of schoolteachers, and to reduce China’s longstanding over-admiration for them, it is thus little wonder that schoolteachers across the West have zero interest in teaching the truth about the CR!

A Yellow Vest CR must include major educational reform:

Exclusive book learning that used mainly the rote method was opposed. During the educational reforms, the concept of education was greatly broadened to include productive labor and many other related activities. Education was no longer limited to reading books inside the classroom; learning could take place in the workshops and on the farms, and many other places. Teachers were not considered to have a monopoly on knowledge. Workers and farmers and soldiers could all impart experiential knowledge to students. In fact, even students might know something the teachers did not know.

Socialism rests on two pillars: redistribution of money and redistribution of political power. Redistributing political power in the realm of education can have enormously positive impacts on how rural societies view, and benefit from, schooling.

The Yellow Vests want a Cultural Revolution – will it succeed? Right now, I’d say ‘No”

Brexit, the election of Trump and the Yellow Vests – these are all viewed as horrifically negative historical & sociopolitical developments in the West’s fake-leftist and elite circles. The Yellow Vests are yet another “basket of deplorables” who have been rendered insane by… what exactly? Racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, anti-Semitism….

Firstly, we should ask, in order to find parallels: did China’s deplorables have these problems of prejudice and “identity politics” when their CR started in 1966? Or what about Iran’s barefooted?

No, neither did – that cannot be disputed – and the reason why is indicative of why I feel the Yellow Vests will not achieve their revolutionary goals:

Iran and China already had governments inspired by socialism when they embarked on their Cultural Revolutions, whereas France does not. State-sponsored efforts to end prejudice is just one of many, many proofs which show how much more politically-advanced China and Iran were when they embarked on their Cultural Revolutions than the Yellow Vests are.

I am not blaming the Yellow Vests: because the West has totally rejected socialism’s advances and ethos – unlike Iran and China – they have many types of reactionary problems which China and Iran did not suffer from as strongly at the time of their CRs.

There is a tremendous amount of political regression among the Yellow Vests and their leaders, who have aims which are merely incremental improvements and not truly a new French order. This was illustrated by my last articleA French cop on why French cops will never join the Yellow Vests – many Vesters not only expect but want the cops to join them… even though it cannot and should not work because they are the devoted dogs of the reactionary order! Whoever heard of a revolution were the forces of order remained unchanged? Is France still stuck in hippie, utopian 1960s thinking?! Perhaps they are… it leads to regression, individualism and nihilism.

This political-cultural backwardness and conservatism of many Yellow Vests cannot cannot be repaired by an 8-part series, nor by protests which only attracted 2% (1.3 million) of the nation on its biggest day (the first Yellow Vest demonstration, on November 17, 2018, – data according to a police union, not the French Interior Ministry).

So when I wrote that “everyone knows” the Yellow Vests are the majority, that is true – the problem is that they don’t act like it!

It is amazing how effectively the French political class is able to suppress polling about the Yellow Vests. This suppression coincided with March 23, when President Emmanuel Macron deployed the army, unveiled even harsher measures of repression and banned of urban demonstrations. The latest poll I can find, from a month ago (even though this is the most important issue in French society) still has their approval rating at 50%, and that follows months of anti-Yellow Vest propaganda.

But being a Yellow Vest and merely supporting the Yellow Vests are two different things entirely. After all, the latter can be appeased even more easily than a right-wing Yellow Vest can be bought off. The Yellow Vests are the cultural majority but not the political majority.

Therefore, what the Yellow Vests are is this: they are the nation’s political vanguard party.

However – there is no “nation” anymore. There is no more political and economic sovereignty in Europe, and that is a concrete, structural, “rule of law” reality and not hyperbole.

The prime adulthood of France, and 41-year old Macron exemplifies this 100%, is full of people who grew up being culturally inculcated into blindly and hysterically supporting not modern socialist democratic ideals, but instead the neoliberal empire known as the European Union, and also the even more undemocratic banking empire known as the Eurozone.

Therefore, there is no “France” for the Yellow Vests to be – as they should – raised upon the People’s shoulders and put into power nationwide; the Yellow Vests, thus, have to be a pan-European movement in order to succeed in their aims. We are talking about an order of magnitude, here.

The reality is that the Yellow Vest movement reflects the same schizophrenia as most Western governments and societies: this is succinctly encapsulated by a favourite phrase and policy of the West’s – “humanitarian intervention” (whatever that is – as though nations were dogs which were humanely euthanised).

Vesters are certainly clearer than most – this is why they are the vanguard party, i.e. the most enlightened local leaders – but they also partially suffer from the tremendous cognitive dissonance and intellectual fog caused by the intersection of European neo-imperialism, bourgeois-centered European Enlightenment ideals, and the undemocratic concepts and political structures of the liberal democratic European Union empire.

Yellow Vests, especially on the right-wing of their spectrum, are often so blinded by their “glorious” view of France’s (bourgeois) “revolutionary history that they have not updated their political thought in 200+ years – they don’t want to admit their revolution was not enough; that they probably need a true revolution before a 2nd revolution; that the CRs of Chain and Iran should be their model.

And yet they do admit this….

Simply review number 7 on the list of their 25 primary demands: “Rewriting a Constitution by the people and for the interest the sovereign people.” It’s the latter part which would require a revolution in French/Western culture because it is obviously rooted in socialist democratic ideals; the people were not sovereign in US and French Revolutions (the only Western nations to have revolutions), as non-Whites, women and the poor, landless masses were all most glaringly excluded, of course.

This “they do but they don’t” is exactly why French society is both “revolutionary” in self-conception but incredibly reactionary in practice.

It would take a Cultural Revolution to sort out these issues, and that is what the Yellow Vests are truly asking for; it is the leftist ones which are willing to slough off the ancient husk of 1789, not the right-wing Vesters.

Any way you look at it, two things are clear: the Yellow Vests still have very far to go, and victory will look like Cultural Revolution.

Series Conclusion

This series emphatically demonstrated that China’s post-1980 economic success did not start with Deng Xiaoping’s reforms but instead was built upon on the Cultural Revolution’s hugely successful creation of human, educational, and economic capital in China’s rural areas.

By focusing on and promoting the values of the rural areas, China has soared past us all today – this is the hidden lesson of the CR and the genius of Maoism.

Han’s book, this series, and the lessons of the Cultural Revolution should have tremendous interest for developing countries – the CR is a blueprint for lifting essentially non-industrial societies into the socioeconomic stratosphere. The blueprint is not provided by the IMF – they have certainly had decades of chances.

The idea that China’s success is due to being a “Western sweatshop” is, it is rarely remembered, merely a way to credit the West for China’s success. No, it is due to Chinese innovations and adaptions of ideas already present around the globe.

A key flaw in Western capitalist allegations that the CR was simply a way for Mao to gain control: if that’s true – what could he have possibly gained by encouraging criticism of Confucius? The CCP was already in control – there was no “pro-Confucian Party” which was taking the CCP’s power. Confucianism is an inherently conservative ideal – why rock that boat? Bring up this point to those who are anti-CR and they will certainly be totally flummoxed.

But criticising Confucianism – which is such a thrillingly productive and superbly admirable philosophy which I have learned much from for years – was a way to pull down the dominant class and replace it with the oppressed classes.

However, Chinese culture remains incredibly Confucian, any Chinese person will tell you. I predict that one day the ubiquitous phrase “Socialism with Chinese characteristics” will be replaced with a regional generalisation of “Confucian Socialism”, and this phrase will describe not just China but include Vietnam, Korea and (hopefully) others. This is exactly the same as how “Iranian Islamic Socialism” is a variant of the larger “Islamic Socialism”. These truths are self-evident, if not yet fully flowered….

When discussing the anti-Confucius campaigns, Han writes: “But it had specific meaning for ordinary people. The major theme of the campaign was to criticize the elitist mentality in Chinese culture. It promoted Mao’s idea that the masses are the motive force of history and that the elite are sometimes stupid while working people are intelligent. These were not empty words. Villagers toiled all year round, supplying the elite with grain, meat and vegetables. But they were made to feel stupid in front of the elite. They did not know how to talk with the elite, and accepted the stigma of stupidity the elite gave to them.

This idea – that rural Trash are stupid, that urban leaders are right to view themselves as “elite” – is something which has to be remedied in the West, or else Western society can never be whole. The rural-urban divide is the most urgent divide in the West today, but the CR shows it can be resolved.

Unfortunately, because they adhere to capitalism-imperialism, many nation in the West are not trying to be united at all – their people subsist on contempt for “the other” as well as competition to join the 1%, as capitalism-imperialism ceaselessly instructs them.

**********************************

This was the final article in an 8-part series which examined Dongping Han’s book The Unknown Cultural Revolution: Life and Change in a Chinese Village in order to drastically redefine a decade which has proven to be not just the basis of China’s current success, but also a beacon of hope for developing countries worldwide. Here is the list of articles slated to be published, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!

Part 1 – A much-needed revolution in discussing China’s Cultural Revolution: an 8-part series

Part 2 – The story of a martyr FOR, and not BY, China’s Cultural Revolution

Part 3 – Why was a Cultural Revolution needed in already-Red China?

Part 4 – How the Little Red Book created a cult ‘of socialism’ and not ‘of Mao’

Part 5 – Red Guards ain’t all red: Who fought whom in China’s Cultural Revolution?

Part 6 – How the socioeconomic gains of China’s Cultural Revolution fuelled their 1980s boom

Part 7 – Ending a Cultural Revolution can only be counter-revolutionary

Part 8 – What the West can learn: Yellow Vests are demanding a Cultural Revolution

The Yellow Vest Salpêtrière Hospital hoax: I reported live from there as it happened

May 05, 2019

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

The Yellow Vest Salpêtrière Hospital hoax: I reported live from there as it happened

The French government has been forced to shamefully admit that they made totally false accusations that May Day Yellow Vest anti-government protesters tried to break into the Pitié Salpêtrière Hospital in order to “attack”, “assault” and “steal”. Countless mainstream media are just as covered in ignominy for having repeated these untrue claims.

I was right there when it happened, covering it for PressTV, so I witnessed exactly what transpired.

In fact, I even gave a live interview at the exact time of the incident, just after 4pm. I don’t have a copy of that for now, but I hope to get one soon: certainly, I can explain what happened and why.

Why it happened: A new rule permitting even worse police brutality against Yellow Vests

May 1st was the debut of a new policing tactic: cops can initiate violence against peaceful protesters.

It is just that objectively simple, openly discussed, and easy to explain:

Cops are now using the age-old method of “divide and conquer”… on peaceful protesters. On May 1st a line of riot cops repeatedly charged the demonstrators in order to sever them into two, more manageable sections. One section of the protest is forced to advance, while the other section is forced to wait behind.

Of course, police are not watching their elbows and politely saying, “Excuse me” – the only way to stop peaceful demonstrators from moving is to violently get in their way and then violently bar them from advancing one more step. That is “initiating violence”, and they didn’t used to do that with the regularity we saw on May 1.

The cops did this at the start of the demonstration at 2pm, and to achieve their goal of cutting the demo into two sides they gassed about 5-8,000 people. I was doing a live interview at that time as well (I don’t have a copy of that one, but I do have others from that day, read on for the link!). It was so violent and so shocking – tear gas forcing thousands of people to flee – that I had to talk (yell) for 20+ minutes live, giving myself a temporary headache. We almost had to turn and run, but we stood our ground: I take no credit, of course, but when cops advanced as far as journalists reporting live they finally relented and let the demonstration proceed, as they had set up an unprecedented, shockingly-narrow, cop-filled corridor tens of thousands of people had to slowly pass through. Happy International Workers’ Day!

Back to 4pm: the cops again cut the demonstration, and they did so right in front of the hospital. So, firstly, if anyone is at fault for putting the hospital in the line of fire it is the riot cops because they chose to re-initiate violence at that particular spot.

Why that spot? Because Boulevard de l’Hôpital was the final straightaway until the end of the protest – the roundabout Place d’Italie: the government’s new tactic also meant they wanted to allow the first group of protesters (the most hard core) to enter Place d’Italie all alone… so they could be gassed, attacked and cleared out before for the next section of protesters arrived. Gas, attack and clear out; gas, attack and clear out Place d’Italie – this happened three times (in my estimation, but I was only there for numbers 2 and 3). This is the result of the new, so called “more offensive” police tactics.

Why do that? Because the government did not want the protest – 40,000 strong – to finish together, in celebration. The government was threatened by this large gathering, so they simply did not allow it to happen.

This explains why when I finally got to Place d’Italie it was a bizarre, desolate, damaged ghost town. Construction barricades had been toppled and damaged, along with advertisements and bus stops, there was garbage, glass and tear gas canisters everywhere… yet no people. Just an empty Place d’Italie, surrounded by cops at all eight exits.

Allow me to say this: I have never seen more cops that day in Paris. This was a city under foreign occupation, truly.

Entire regions of the city were rendered inaccessible to citizens, with armored vehicles and enormous temporary, metal gates blocking off road after road after road. But the number of cops… staggering. There was a squadron of riot police every 200 meters along the demonstration route, which was limited to a tiny section; so small, in fact, that I started my day at Place d’Italie at 11 am, covering the first demo (ecological protesters, of course, who only want to make their stupid complaints and then leave – quite pleased with themselves – before the violence starts), only to return there at the end of the day. Yes, it was back and forth along the only, narrow, permitted path to celebrate International Workers’ Day in the “birthplace of human rights”. This is why there was not more violence that day – cops were everywhere.

But wait, it’s worse! I actually drove in from 130 kilometers outside Paris that day: there were rural gendarmes searching cars and people (without warrants, based only on suspicion) at every toll booth and gas station. They waved me through, each time, without searching me.

What went down at the hospital

So the cops cut the demo at 14h, the start, and then they did it at again at 16h. I was in the group forced to wait behind, stuck in front of the hospital, as the first group was getting their butts kicked at Place d’Italie while waiting for comrades who would never be allowed to join them. May 1st was a demonstration in stages, and only in certain places – certainly not “freedom of assembly”.

So to cut the demo into two means to separate friends from each other – that creates anger. The cops have no fear of provoking anger because they have tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons, truncheons and the power to arrest against totally unarmed protesters… and that’s exactly what they did at 16h.

It was a rough 30 minutes. I was at the front lines and I’ve seen worse in France, but it was no picnic either.

Cops launched tear gas first, as always, to repel the protesters from the separation line they were undemocratically enforcing. Tear gas, then water cannons, and then hand-to-hand combat – it’s the same thing I’ve seen since 2010, but I assume this existed in France long before then: this is the culture here.

So, via tear gas, cops caused a third of the protesters to flee into a side street (Rue des Wallons), while another third fled further back on the Boulevard de l’Hôpitaux, while the final third was pushed against the side gates of the now-infamous Hôpitaux Universitaires Pitié Salpêtrière. This is where the cops made their mistake (although this is all mistakes in preserving citizen security): they tear-gassed protesters who had nowhere else to go. Some panicked protesters somehow got through the side gates and entered into the hospital grounds.

And it was “panicked protesters” – subsequent videos have proven that it was not “Black Bloc” nor even Yellow Vests who forced their way into the hospital. The only people who actually made it into the hospital were just two elderly men who said they had been “tear gassed all day”. The video has made the government and the mainstream media appear even more terrible and pathetic. Not much more needs to be said….

More interesting: Why even try to get into the hospital? It’s a stupid move, like running upstairs in a horror movie – you have nowhere to go; you are sure to be arrested and/or abused. But those protesters couldn’t think that far ahead, because they were frightened, gassed, hurt, simple everyday citizens and not Black Bloc, cops or that other group which straddles both those groups – journalists.

Of course, there were no TV reporters during this long melee. There were plenty of photographers and some cameramen, and surely some print reporters, but not any TV reporters. Maybe all these journalists were working for a company, or maybe they were working for independent Yellow Vest blogs – who can tell? However, as is often the case at the front lines, I was the only one with a logo and doing a live interview.

I take that back: a lady for Italy’s RAI was there during all this. She was doing her “piece to camera”, the little wrap-up for a TV report – not a live interview. Major kudos, though.

French media on the front line? Ha! Dream on!

I don’t know why – they could be. They could hire 3 security guards (instead of the usual 1 or 2), and then 3 ombudsman to explain to (very likely angry and confrontational) protesters, “We are here now! We are trying to do a good job for France! Don’t get violent with us, please!” Maybe that’s naïve of me, but totally hiding from the front line – hiding the reality of what’s going on at the front lines for everyday citizens, such as those trapped at Hospital Pitié Salpêtrière – only further ruins the reputation of French media within France. Don’t they feel an obligation to report on such an event properly… in their own damned country?!

And then they so quickly relay whatever the government wildly claims without any verification. Oh boy….

Please stop the tear gas – I’m live on TV

The hand-to-hand combat: Tougher protesters had wanted to… keep marching. That’s all. But riot police violence prevented them and attacked them – so they fought back.

Such “resistance” is really quite, quite stupid, I think – I mean, both sides keep the kid gloves on. And thank God, because it’s not even close to a fair fight: every square inch of the bodies of cops are protected with 8,000 euros worth of equipment; cops have been searching for weapons from a 130 kilometer-wide radius around Paris, so nothing can even the playing field; protesters have none of the cops tactical knowledge, organization or discipline. Hand-to-hand means a cat and mouse game and very quick skirmishes.

I recall that, amid the melee, there was a teenager dressed in black tossing a rock up and down, like a gangster flipping a quarter on a street corner.

Stupid….

A plainclothes cop – dressed as if he was a fellow Black Bloc member – dropped his phony act: he grabbed the kid and threw him to the ground with 100% of his force. Hey, the kid was holding a rock like a weapon and looking like he was about to use it – the kid was dead to rights, and by showing off he gave the cops time to think and react. As they dragged him away I thought: Poor kid – he’s going to prison for a year or so. Some might be surprised that a cop would – gasp! – dress up as a Black Bloc member: Why that never happens! Yeah, sure….

Anyway, about a minute later – amazingly – the kid actually breaks free! He’s running away!

But a cop trips him up and the first, arresting officer hits the kid on the ground on his thigh with his telescopic truncheon as hard as anything you can imagine. Punches sound nothing like they do in movies, of course, but the sound of this hit was enormous. If the cop had hit the kid’s knee it would have been shattered – thankfully, the human femur is stronger than concrete. The kid surely has a nasty, nasty mark and a limp today.

Good ending: The kid still jumped the short garden fence on the west side of the Boulevard and got away. LOL… kids.

During this whole time I am dodging all this and waiting to go live on (smartphone) camera. My cameraman is dodging too. PressTV, which doesn’t seem to understand that I am avoiding the wild crowd along the hospital gate, the arrests and beatings across from the gate, and the cops further up the boulevard who can attack, gas or water cannon us at any moment, keeps pushing us back because they want a “stable shot”. LOL, yeah right. Amid this fluid situation?! Where I was just “stable” a rock just landed!

They want me to stand there – stock still – amid this violence, LOL. Just put me on air, already!

But PressTV is still waiting – I move to the side of hospital gate. Cops gas there again. I’m not going in the hospital grounds, but some do. Various ministers, reporters and know-nothings at home will soon be calling them bad little boys and girls… until the truth comes out.

One has to realize that during a bad gassing there is only one thought: get away from the gas. Certainly, LOL, you cannot do a single other thing until you complete that task.

Then there is – maybe – a second thought: if cops charge and attack now, I am totally helpless and done for.

That’s why ya gotta know these things, and avoid being right where the gassings land; ya gotta think a step or two ahead; ya gotta not celebrate your survival, as if it was some huge victory, because more gas (or worse) is coming. It takes time to learn this stuff – a couple dozen people haven’t had good luck and lost an eye, while over 600 have been seriously injured. Reminder: the weekly anti-Yellow Vest violence is nearing a half-year now! A half-year!!!

Anyway, I get away from the re-gassed hospital gate, and PressTV finally puts me on the air. I’m thrilled, because I want to get this live interview over with. So, I’m between the line of cops higher up Boulevard de l’Hôpitaux, and across from the hospital (Rue des Wallons) where the cat-and-mouse, will-they-or-won’t they is taking place, and I’m doing my live blah blah.

Blah blah is done, and all is well. I had been gassed several times in 30 minutes – medics kindly spraying my face with cooling solvent at one point – but I could tell the fight was ending, as it can’t go on forever. The cops finally get the order to pull back and stop antagonizing and attacking this section of the protest.

I didn’t know this at the time, but they had gotten these orders only because they had sufficiently gassed, attacked and cleared out the first protest section at Place d’Italie.

The protesters are thrilled – they have “won”… by not losing an eye or being arrested. Little victories for the oppressed masses. Cops are slowly pulling back, and the protesters all congregate in front of a group riot cops and start singing a chant. I forget what – On est la (We are here), probably.

Stupid. (But I did join in for a short minute.)

They’re just going to get gassed again. I tell my cameraman that this is not the place to be – indeed, it’s all about knowing where’s the place to NOT be! The crowd is singing louder, and it reaches a point where it’s either dance or fight, and the French don’t dance even though they are a Latin culture. Therefore, I know that someone in the crowd is going to do something to offend or antagonize the cops – or the cops will just get annoyed at the crowd’s sense of triumph – and gas will arrive shortly. Everyone is celebrating, but we are moving… and more gas arrived where we had just been. I had gotten my fair share of abuse by then.

Thanks to my press card the cops let us through and we enter Place d’Italie early.

Hey, I am not obligated to document and witness every tear gassing! LOL, this is France – that’s impossible. And there are other journalists, both good ones and bad ones.

This was the exact time when a cop was filmed throwing a rock at protesters, which is generating some news. Indeed, as we had passed the police line I had noticed that up and down Boulevard de l’Hôpitaux protesters had pried off chunks of road asphalt – they are being attacked and have no weapons, let’s recall. Nothing will happen to that cop, who should be fired immediately. It is ABSOLUTELY the primary part of the job description of a “riot cop” to take punches and not give them… but that’s only in a country which is honest, which enforces law and order, which doesn’t sic the cops on the protesters, etc.

Place d’Italie is totally empty, except for a thousand or so cops, and it’s a wreck. Me and my cameraman speculate on the possibility of an alien abduction of the first protest group.

The protest section we were with starts to filter in: we’re all gassed immediately.

That pushes us to one side of the roundabout, and that allows cops to push them all out. Ah, so there probably wasn’t an alien abduction? Coulda been nice, maybe….

We stay, because we have an interview at 18h.

So it’s 18h and here I am – getting gassed live on camera again (6:50 mark). The wind had shifted and it was on us quickly… but I have a tolerance to tear gas after all these years.

PressTV takes me off camera… that’s so annoying. What am I getting gassed for, then? We want to show the sufferings of the people – so show it! If we aren’t going to show it, then I can just stay in back with all the other journalists!!!

But ya gotta be at the front – at least sometimes. Protesters gotta see professional journalists are there to (somewhat) protect them, and cops gotta see that professional journalists are there to document what they do.

It’s a real shame more reporters aren’t doing live reports from the front lines, because cops know they can’t do anything to anyone on live TV – they surely are forced to rein in their violent tactics. It’s a real shame mainstream reporters (and I include PressTV with them, in a rare instance) aren’t going to the front line. Again, I am no courageous guy, I just feel that the Yellow Vests are nothing new: France’s Yellow Vests: It’s just 1 protest…which has lasted 8 years, was the first article I wrote on the Yellow Vests, and it stresses that this violence against peaceful protesters is absolutely, positively nothing new.

I’ve seen these “battles” before many, many times – and I think I know how to safely handle it. Knock wood for luck, but experience gives everyone – a reporter, a Black Bloc member, a cop – a sixth sense, and a genuine ability to predict what comes next because it is all rather formulaic (although not on May 1). I know I am not courageous, because I would never put my cameraman at risk; more importantly, I would never put his expensive camera at risk, and that shows you how well-paid we are when the camera is the utmost priority! No joke….

But French TV reporters weren’t at the front lines with the rail workers, with anti-State of Emergency protesters, with the “you can’t ban pro-Palestinian marches” protesters, and on and on and on in France since 2010.

That was, I assume, the last gassing of the day because right when I am gassed live you can see that unions and their fancy floats are starting to arrive – no more poor Yellow Vests.

Unions, of course, have signed off on every major austerity measure since 2010, and are incredibly easy to “divide and conquer” with targeted concessions… so cops surely just wanted to give them a nice Place d’Italie to stand around, talk loud and say nuthin’. This is why many Yellow Vests don’t want to march with unions, even on May Day.

At that point I left to go and do our report for that day.

All in all – not a bad day

I was expecting May Day to be bad – I was honestly concerned, as I do have things to live for besides these articles, you know – and it was pretty bad.

But it was only bad at the start and the finish – the massive, massive, massive police presence all along the route made any sort of “permanent shenanigans” impossible. That filtering corridor after the first protest-separating was appalling. May Day 2019 in France was like holding a march during a North Korean military parade, minus the great choreographed dances and true socialism.

It was also bad because it is much safer when the cops are playing defense, as they are supposed to always be doing, but on May Day they were playing offense. They have all the weapons, all the tactics, all the legal ability to whatever they want… and then a reporter – who invariably finds his or herself on both sides of the front line – has to worry about the cops, and also about rocks being thrown in his direction (at the cops). Whereas on a day like March 16, the last time the Champs- Élysées was a scene of civil disobedience, things are perfectly safe because everyone knows who the Yellow Vests are targeting and why. Cops… they can do whatever they want, and whenever they want – they respect nothing.

French reporters need to be at the front lines… but they aren’t. I’m sure editors tell them not to, and that they are told that by their publishers. But that’s why we got nonsense reporting which initially accused May Day protesters of breaking into a hospital to… do what? Burn, pillage and behead? Yeah, right….

Frankly, this new tactic of “initiate violence in order to divide and conquer peaceful protesters” is something which I can’t see the Yellow Vests being able to combat… but that’s the subject of a future article.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of Ill Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.

 

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