Bi-annual repression of French anti-government protests gets usual cover-up

Wednesday, 02 November 2022 10:05 AM  [ Last Update: Wednesday, 02 November 2022 10:05 AM ]

French union members and workers attend a protest in Paris on December 26, 2019, after 22 days of strike against pension reform. (Photo by Reuters)

By Ramin Mazaheri

So this is what it’s like being outside of Europe during the repression of their long-running, bi-annual (spring and fall) violent anti-government and anti-EU protests? There’s barely a sound in the mainstream media about them.

Every year since the pan-European project went fully online, 2009, it’s only during the two-year Covid era when Europe has failed to be ablaze with social chaos during their two mild seasons. I assumed the non-European West had been aware, but now I see that their media couldn’t care less.

In France, Italy, Czechia, Germany and elsewhere anti-NATO (i.e. anti-war), anti-capitalism (i.e. anti-austerity/right-wing economics) and anti-government (i.e. anti-liberalism) activism has virulently returned. But anyone remotely paying attention to continental politics realizes this autumn’s protests are not an exception but a return to the norm.

So, of course they are protesting NATO, austerity and police brutality in Europe right now – that’s what they do every autumn, and to no real effect. 

What is interesting is to compare the protests in Europe with the current protests against the laws on modesty in public dress in Iran.

In 2019 France, amid the brutal and unprecedented Yellow Vest crackdown, a crowd chanted for despised riot cops to commit suicide – the mainstream media vented their indignation on behalf of the cops but remained silent on the dozen dead and scores of permanently crippled protesters. In 2022 Iran viral videos (all absent in the Western media) have shown a suspected plainclothes cop being horrifically set on fire; madmen shooting blindly into crowds; people falsely posing as policemen (and then enacting who knows what carnage in an effort to discredit the government). Like many in Iran, I don’t even attribute these obvious acts of armed, anti-revolution rebellion to legitimate protesters but to foreign spy agencies. The point must be underlined: Western protesters have nothing like this to contend with, and it’s even hard for them to comprehend the existence of such obstacles. 

In 2015 France after the Charlie Hebdo attack Paris expected the world to mourn for their instigating cartoonists. Just this week Daesh has just accepted responsibility for over 50 casualties at a mosque, but the massacre of Iranian faithful gets ignored or diminished by Western media (France24 headline: “Several people killed as gunmen open fire at shrine in Iran’s Shiraz”). I doubt any “Je suis Shirazi” (I am from Shiraz) campaigns will be demanded by Western NGO executives.

At last month’s United Nations general assembly I took a photo of a book put on display by Iran’s delegation, titled “The Encyclopedia of Iranian Terror Victims”. It contains 17,000 names of those killed since 1979 by the Western-supported MKO, Daesh, the Israelis, the House of Saud and others. A victim of the United States, the renowned anti-terror hero General Qassem Soleimani, was recently included. When terrorists killed 3,000 Americans in 2001 the retribution was the destruction of two entire countries.

Certainly this is the coup de grâce: The protests in support of the Iranian government and revolution continue to be (and have been since 1979) exponentially larger than the anti-government protests, whereas the only pro-government protests in France since 2009 were the rather comical, one-time “Red Scarves” of 2019.

Nobody is protesting in favor of what we can term the “pan-European revolution” because it continues to only gut the quality of life for the average European citizen. Contrarily, and much like those I have reported on from Cuba, the pro-government protests in Iran exist in such numbers and tenacity because the Iranian Islamic Revolution has created so much improvement, redistributed so much wealth and redistributed so much political & cultural power to the average Iranian.

The laws for modesty in dress – a demand made on both men and women, it must be said – is actually an excellent example of that last fact.

In the name of openness I am willing to discuss the worth of Iranian mores with Westerners who cannot even name five cities in Iran, but all discussions of the modesty laws should start with – as far as I am concerned – this main point: The 1979 revolution elevated the mores and culture (and dress style) of the average Iranian (the working class) for the first time in Iranian history. The mores and styles of Iran’s Western-aping elite minority – which in 1979 was 5% of the country, at the very most – ceased to be elevated. Without grasping this realization – which is never related in Western media – a Westerner’s opinion on the anti-modesty law protest amounts to them telling Iranians to be less Iranian and more like them.

Europe is not concerned with modesty in dress – and this is their sovereign right – so the differences in the issues being protested in Europe and Iran are obviously quite different.

One has had its elite cut off their source of oil and energy – and to hell with the consequences on the average person – whereas the other is forced to nurture its people despite a “zero dollars in oil sales” blockade/war.

One has given up any semblance of military sovereignty – France gave in and joined NATO in that fateful year of 2009 – whereas the other is an island of sovereignty surrounded by a sea of US military bases.

One, France, has been routinely condemned by human rights groups for police brutality whereas the last time I was in Iran – July of this year – it was impossible for me (as I was coming from cop-filled Paris) to not remark on the lack of anything but traffic cops on the streets of Tehran. I asked multiple Iranians if they believed plainclothes police were lurking around, and I can truly report that not one person believed that there were.

So it’s not that the current protests, strikes and police brutality in Europe are uninteresting, it’s that they are so routine that Westerners are apparently immune to them; or are denied the truth about them.

Exceptionally brave groups like the Yellow Vests prove how historically high anti-government sentiment is in Europe, but if they cannot break through Western arrogance (or apathy) about the failures of Western Liberal Democracy then who can, I wonder?

What the politicians and mainstream media of Western Liberal Democracies rely on is constant demonization, finger-pointing and war hysteria in order to deflect from their own regular turmoil. Too bad for them that this not enough to stop their own citizens from protesting them.

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. His latest book is ‘France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values’. He is also the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’.


Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

www.presstv.ir

www.presstv.co.uk

MORE FROM VIEWPOINT

Postscript: Looking back and looking forward with the Yellow Vests

July 12, 2022

Source

by Ramin Mazaheri

(Now available! This book has just been published in paperback and E-book form, and in French too!)

Western culture has been so prevalent for two centuries that I think much of the world assumes that they already intimately know a major European country like France. Many outside of the West may be saying, “We know the West, but the West doesn’t know us!”

It’s just not that simple.

(This is the nineteenth and final chapter in a new book, Frances Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the Wests Best ValuesPlease click here for the article which announces this book and explains its goals.)

A contemporary progressive demand correctly says that local histories must be prioritised and no longer imposed from the outside – stereotypes must be broken. The end of feudalism finally allowed the average person to say the truth in public – there is a class struggle – and using this most high-powered lens we realise: the people of France deserve this right as much as any other people because the history of their working poor masses, too, has been repressed, ignored and slandered.

That didn’t all start with the Yellow Vests.

Yellow Vest: “It’s not only in Paris, or in France – discontent is international. The poor, the young, the old – so many sectors of society are doing poorly because of a lack of humanity in our social and economic policies. The beauty of the Yellow Vests is that we gather together every weekend to communicate with each other – otherwise, people are just home alone with their misery.”

By far the best part of this book, in my opinion, is their words. I hope you have been as delighted as I have been to read their analyses right alongside the deeds of Napoleon, the revolutionaries of 1848, Communards, true Trotskyists, etc. Not only do their words tie this humble book together, but they tie together over 200 years of French history. France has this tremendously exciting history of political resistance, but it gets buried, distorted and untaught by the Liberalist elite – the Yellow Vests exhumed it and brought it back to living reality.

After more than a dozen years living in France I must admit that I, too, didn’t know France and Europe anywhere as well as I assumed I did before I moved here. What an enormous mistake I made – assuming that I “knew” France even though I knew hardly any French people!

One doesn’t have to be on the world’s bottom socioeconomic rung to have their culture and history falsely portrayed – every nation without a Socialist-inspired revolution to protect them has their own bottom rung which is silenced, crippled, massacred, etc. This book has been an effort to view modern French history from their ground up and not in the Liberalist fashion – their top down.

Yellow Vest: “Macron has ended so much social assistance to poor people. He tells lies about the poor, and also about his own policies. We are sick of his policies! We must finish the Macron era! We demand more aid for poor people, such as myself!”

Ah, still more progressive Yellow Vest thoughts! Yes, more, because this book is not my book but theirs. This book is not an attempt to give my version of French history, but the version from the average French person.

The average French person has much to learn from this book, I humbly insist, because the history of their working-poor has been so suppressed domestically, and also because the truth of the new pan-European project has been so suppressed.

Admit the truth: the euro has totally failed in its promise to bring about prosperity and economic security. The European Union has totally failed to act in a democratic manner. The pan-European project has not waged bilateral war (perhaps “yet”) but it has waged social war on its own citizens across the continent. Many permanently disfigured Yellow Vests would say I am even being too lenient here.

Yellow Vest: “By denying that there was any police brutality the government legitimised it. How we can have confidence in a government which cripples its own citizens, or in institutions which do not intervene to stop that? It is truly barbaric violence, which mutilated people because they believe in a better future.” 

The immediate, perpetual and ongoing failure of Liberalism; the notion that Western political culture has actually been excised of the influence of immoral, arrogant and unjust monarchism – a misconception which rather turns Iranians apoplectic; the clear goal of modern politics to move from absolutism towards citizen involvement and empowerment; the obvious historical trajectory of Western political structures from absolute monarchy, to aristocratic oligarchy, to a bankocracy which inflicts neo-imperialism on anyone it can reach – I hope this book has clarified these realities. Admit the truth.

I am convinced that what Europeans definitely agree on is that they all want an end to the wars which have gutted their lower classes for so long, to easily move around within Europe and the basic advances of mere Social Democracy. The working classes want peace, ease of movement and a decent social safety net. The pan-European project has manipulated these desires – the 1% has teased with the carrot but just given the stick. The only real success of the pan-European project has been the flexibility of the EU passport – Europeans are quite relieved to be able to move around the continent without the previous hassles.

Europeans, in my experience and according to polls, mostly want a united Europe – it’s unfortunate that they are misled into believing that there is no alternative to this thus-far woefully unsuccessful version of it.

Yellow Vest: “I can’t tell people how to vote, but I certainly advise them to not vote for Macron. He hasn’t done anything for the French people, but has instead worked for the rich bankers, corporations and Brussels.”

Even though his autocratic repression of the Yellow Vests should have disqualified him from ever holding public office again, Emmanuel Macron was re-elected, incredibly. The false branding of the Yellow Vests as mere “hooligans” has largely stuck in France, stunningly. There is a dysfunction, a Marxist “barrenness”, an autocratic schizophrenia which Western Liberal Democracy is forcing the average Frenchman to endure – this book shows how long this sickness has been imposed on the French poor, working poor and working classes.

Without the courage to call things by their rightful names – Western Liberal Democracy means failure for the 99%; Socialist Democracy justly puts the 99% at the forefront of government policy – France as a whole will never heal. How very few political analysts say this!

This postscript was finished the day after France’s 2nd-round legislative elections. Macron has not been handed another absolute majority by a slim margin – it’s another Yellow Vest victory, but not one which was resounding enough. It’s certain that Macron was never a “centrist” but a mainstream conservative, merely with a new logo and of his younger generation. Thus, his coalition will continue to unite with the mainstream conservative les Républicains party (and also many fake-leftist Socialists and Greens) for an absolute majority on all issues involving far-right economics, the re-imposition of Liberalism and the pan-European project. French parliament will now be less stable and more combative, but in appearances only – in reality French parliament remains only for appearances on the major questions of economic and political power distribution. It’s certain that the reason an absolute democratic majority of France (54%) didn’t even bother to vote is because they implicitly know that modern autocracy – rule by the 49-3 executive decree and the overruling of national sovereignty by Brussels – rules, thus rendering Europe’s national parliaments a waste of time, their breath and our attention. I would conclude that Liberalism in France is on the verge of becoming so preposterously dysfunctional that it’s surely about to be consigned to the dustbin of history but, alas, I recall that Marx and Trotsky wrote the same thing.

It’s certain that these analyses will not be popular among my journalist colleagues.

What is so unfortunate is that as early as the summer of 2019 people kept asking me: “You’re going to report on a Yellow Vest demonstration? But I thought they had stopped marching?” The media blackout on the group extends beyond the common excuse of the corporate domination of Western media: it doesn’t explain the refusal of France’s state-owned media to cover the group. French taxpayers deserve better. Capitalism is an issue, but the larger issue is obviously political and cultural – it’s elite-driven Liberalism.

Yellow Vest: “We marched as Yellow Vests for two years, and we are still Yellow Vests today, but we all saw that nothing changed! The cost of living is too expensive – we can’t pay our bills at the end of the month! We don’t want this government – and their violence – any more.”

The fact that the Yellow Vests have marched every Saturday for over three and half years (not including the coronavirus pause) is actually more important than how they have been wilfully ignored:

As the West comes out of the coronavirus era, during which they actually employed some Social Democratic-inspired economic measures, they are immediately reverting to extremist Liberalist economic solutions: forced recession, in order to perpetuate the elite’s dominance over the working poor. The first half of 2022 was supposed to be a time when France’s elections were going to garner great interest, at least in France, but the vote was overshadowed everywhere by total economic disaster – much of it self-inflicted in the West. Betting on a period of economic disaster – always a constant in Liberalist capitalism – seems like a gamble that will pay off quite big, and quite soon, in the world’s weakest and least-sovereign macroeconomic bloc.

Yellow Vest: “Things really could explode because prices keep going up but wages do not. If Emmanuel Macron somehow wins re-election then social unrest will go sky-high. The Yellow Vests will really take to the streets then, and it will be much worse than in 2019.”

For those who marvel at the insight of these Yellow Vest quotations – they truly are just that politically intelligent and aware! Give them all the credit. The idea that they are just rioting berserkers is… well, this book has already disproven that completely.

The perspective of the daily hard-news reporter is, I think, a unique and useful one. There is an urgency to this particular area of journalism caused by the reality that (after starting from the ideal of objectivity) serious conclusions must be drawn immediately and presented – they cannot be drawn-out, postponed, frittered away by mealy-mouthed relativism. Additionally, I interview and learn the opinion on the day’s most vital events from everyone, from hedge fund mangers to think-tank analysts to pensioners to protesters to Yellow Vests and to – most often – the everyday Frenchman and Frenchwoman on the street. That’s not something which can be easily replicated. Personally, my favorite chapters may be Chapters 9 through 11 – covering 2009-2022 – which condensed over 1,500 2-3 minute television hard news reports for PressTV (which equates to more than 3,000 soundbites from French people) and hundreds of columns. That can’t be easily replicated, either, nor can my honest claim to have reported on more Yellow Vest demonstrations than any other journalist in any language.

At the next Liberalist-provoked disaster the Yellow Vests will be there – they have never left. That should give France great hope. This book has aimed to share their fundamental message of hope and civic-mindedness.

Yellow Vest: “What voters should do is to not be scared, and to rejoin the Yellow Vests. We have lost our purchasing power, our social services, our individual freedoms – stop crying about these two candidates from behind your television or computer and come join us!”

The ideas of the Yellow Vests are not new – this book examined many different modern French eras to show precisely that. There is obviously a human unity across spaces, and there is also a political unity across time. The interspersed quotes of the Yellow Vests should have given you the clear understanding of: it’s been the same political and economic struggle for the past 233 years. It’s not complicated: just examine how and why they repressed the Yellow Vests so brutally, and why that failed to stop them.

Yellow Vest: “The government doesn’t know what to do because they see that the movement continues despite so much repression. We will not stop until we get the right to citizen-initiated referendums, the end to corporate tax evasion and a rule of social justice so that people can live decently.”

That’s perhaps the most simple encapsulation of the primary demands of the Yellow Vests. Mine might be a bit different, but I was honoured to be alongside the Yellow Vests to insist on our right to live decently.

The West’s best values are not imperialism, elitist Liberalism, oligarchical parliamentarianism, free market chaos, suppressive austerity and a rat race to “become bourgeois”. Look at the Yellow Vests for the West’s true virtues, and then join them wherever you can.

Ramin Mazaheri

Paris

June 20, 2022

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Now available for purchase: English paperback and e-book – French paperback and e-book.

Complete chapter list of France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV 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 ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

Yellow Vest Win: Proving that Western Liberal Democracy is the same old autocracy

June 27, 2022

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV 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 ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

Source

by Ramin Mazaheri

If we say that the Yellow Vests are not socialist revolutionaries even latently, then what are they protesting about?

To put it the most simply: they are protesting the end of European Social Democracy, with the limited protections it provided.

(This is the seventeenth chapter in a new book, France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best ValuesPlease click here for the article which announces this book and explains its goals.)

The Yellow Vests intuited that the pan-European project has ended the era of European Social Democracy (1945-75) and replaced it with elite-driven, free market, winner-take-all Liberalism.

Seeing that their list of 43 demands doesn’t include the word “Europe” once, however, the Yellow Vests don’t really grasp that the European Union represents the organisational assassin of European Social Democracy. The European Union and Eurozone’s response to the Great Recession made it entirely clear: these are institutions which are perfectly hostile to Social Democracy’s minor redistributions and protections which fundamentally embolden the average worker and citizen.

Social Democracy was not born after World War II, just as “neoliberalism” was first on display back in 1871, with what was imposed after the destruction of the Paris Commune. Marx chronicled the birth of European Social Democracy, in 1848, when the Mountain Party (which initially claimed the mantle of neo-Jacobinism) sided with the small-traders in the June Days massacre instead of with the urban proletariat and rural peasantry, as the Jacobins had done in 1789. They went from supporting Socialist Democracy to calling themselves Democratic Socialists (Démocrate-socialistes) and this – and not the downward slope from Napoleon Bonaparte to Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte – should be considered the truest essence of Marx’s famous line of history repeating itself as farce.

“The revolutionary point was thereby broken off from the social demands of the proletariat and a (social) democrat turn given to them….”

That was the birth of Social Democracy: an ideology where the social demands of the recently-feudal masses (decent pay, health care, education, pensions, etc.) get only partially addressed while the political demands of an aristocracy opposing an absolute monarch (free speech, property rights, trial by jury, etc.) are fully met. Liberalism has always sought to limit progressive changes to the political question of how to move on from feudalism, and to stop progressive changes to the social question of how to move on from feudalism. The reformist ideology of Social Democracy has operated within Western Liberal Democracy for nearly 175 years and only partially prevailed for 30 of them.

The sooner the Yellow Vests realise that Social Democracy will never be a harmonious solution to the elitism dominant in Liberalism, the better, as Marx did:

“The peculiar character of Social Democracy is epitomised in the fact that democratic-republican institutions are demanded as the means, not to remove the two extremes – capital and wage-slavery – but in order to weaken the antagonism and transform them into a harmonious whole.”

Putting capital primarily in the hands of the recently-feudal masses so they can provide the broad economic stability and success which would end wage- and debt-slavery has never been a goal of Social Democracy, from the Mountain Party to Leon Blum to Francois Mitterrand to Francois Hollande to the “Democratic Socialists of America” led by Bernie Sanders in the 21st century United States.

Yellow Vest: “We are not beggars! What is 100 euros only given one time? State taxes compose 60% of the price of gasoline, so calling it 100 euros is totally false – the people truly only receive 40 euros. This is election nonsense, but Macron won’t win votes with these crumbs.”

Marx continued in his examination of France and gave us the key to the capitalist culture of both Liberal and Social Democracies: “This substance is the transformation of society along (Social) democratic lines, but a transformation within the boundaries of the small-trader’s class.” One extraneous sentence later: “It believes rather that the special conditions for its own emancipation are the general conditions under which alone modern society can be saved and the class struggle be avoided.”

Trotsky and the Yellow Vests saw that, due to the rise of financial capitalism, a leftist alliance must include the small businessman, but they reject the goal of Social Democracy to elevate their virtues and needs over those of the average worker and citizen.

Thus even when Social Democracy prevails in Liberalist capitalist cultures the virtues of the usually bourgeois-aspiring, individualistic, managerial small-trader class become the highest virtues to be promoted. Everyone must be a self-interested, competitive entrepreneur who aspires to be a boss and a “job creator”. This veneration of the small trader is the most obvious in American culture, and it is American culture which has been imposed on France via the pan-European project: at the alleged “end of history”, with the fall of the USSR, the United States shepherded the pan-European project, which is rightly said to be even more Liberalist (i.e. Bankocratic) than anything which could be created in the United States.

What we see in the modern era, and as this book proves, is that Liberalism, Social Democracy and Fascism have all joined together and “become bourgeois”. This amalgam of 18th century Liberalism, 19th century Social Democracy and 20th century fascism is ultimately not different from the aristocracy of the 17th century and earlier, which which ruled the 99% in an entirely autocratic manner. The extremely modest expansion of wealth and political power from a blood/marriage line to a line of the super-wealthy 1% still results in the exclusion of the recently-feudal masses from policy making, and this is what the Yellow Vests emphatically reminded. Their primary demand was not Socialist revolution but merely to get more public opinion into public policymaking.

The bourgeois bloc continually dangles Social Democracy as a reformist possibility, and thus they secure the loyalty of both the big and the small bosses and owners. However, when the moment of implementation comes, amid the next guaranteed bust in Liberalist capitalism, the response is the anti-Socialist virulence of Liberalism via the ruthless elite domination of a Fascism which has made peace with big capital.

Yellow Vest: “Macron’s repeatedly evaded the main problems. His solutions are not concrete, and it is certain that in a few months we will just be in the same situation. This is why we will keep protesting, for certain.”

Baudelaire wrote, “The most beautiful trick of the devil is to persuade you that he does not exist,” and this is what modern Western Liberal Democracy has done with the elitism, arrogance and autocracy which is the basis of absolute monarchy. Macron’s “Jupiterian” remove has pulled the sheet off of Western Liberal Democracy, again, and reminded that the idea of an autocratic ruler remains the preference of a Western elite which has always been totally opposed to Socialist-inspired measures.

The republican lie of Liberalism

When Western leaders communicate among themselves and with their foreign counterparts they use the language of Liberalism; when they implement policy they use the ruthlessness of Fascism; but when they communicate with the masses they know that republican language is paramount.When Western leaders communicate among themselves and with their foreign counterparts they use the language of Liberalism; when they implement policy they use the ruthlessness of Fascism; but when they communicate with the masses they know that republican language is paramount.

This is especially true in France and the United States, where royalism has been fully discredited from holding public power. Thus, there is a constant emphasis by contemporary French leaders and their mainstream media on maintaining “republican” values.

However, the republicanism of both is an antiquated one as it is based on Liberal and not Socialist Democracy. A perfect example of the inadequacy of their elite-led republicanism is found in the Orwellian name of the group which wages the actual physical repression of the Yellow Vests: the detested CRS riot police (Compagnies républicaines de sécurité – Republican Security Companies.) A woman wearing a full-body bathing suit – a “burkini” (combination of “burqa” and “bikini”) is breathlessly presented as a bigger threat to French republicanism than the repression of the Yellow Vests. Most obviously, there is the mainstream conservative party’s name change shepherded by Nicolas Sarkozy in 2015 – from L’Union pour un mouvement populaire (UMP) to les Républicains: the party had so many corruption scandals that a rebranding was deemed unavoidable.

Such is the false republicanism in Liberal Democracies.

The lip service towards republicanism allows the perpetuation of the outdated notion in France that the world still views them as the brightest beacon of progressive politics. They are different than almost all of Northern Europe, where royals still – bewilderingly – remain on thrones which hide mountains of the public’s rightful riches and influence. Indeed, an Iranian can find in France a refuge from the common Western toleration and whitewashing of monarchism.

The elite in the United States uses “freedom”, while monarchies like the UK use “human rights” in the same way – to insist that freedom and human rights for their modern aristocracies still represents the pinnacle of progressivism.

The legacy of 1789 exists in France today only in this constant demand to uphold “republicanism”, even if it is not at all the spirit of 1789 and only mouths its forms. The Yellow Vest repression will remind all of history that the freedoms offered by the republicanism of Western Liberal Democracy with French characteristics are a fantasy – there is only the autocracy of the bourgeois bloc.

France’s 21st century belief that “the republic” must jingoistically unite the French is ultimately a means used to falsely claim the legacy of 1789 while also ensuring that talk for progressive politics ends with this very initial answer to the “political question”, and with no answer to the “social question”, as well.

This also explains why there is so much forced discussion in France about what a huge threat Islam poses to this immoral republicanism: Islam correctly insists on God and morality being the highest allegiance, and certainly not laws forced through by a Fascist-allying, imperialist bourgeois bloc.

Nothing is more Liberalist than the European Union, and thus the ‘Social Fascist’ repression of anti-austerity movements and the Yellow Vests

We have already linked the European Union with the birth of neoliberalism and neo-imperialism, we have established how Fascism was subsumed and its tactics adopted, and we have shown how the goal of the third restoration of Western Liberalism is to roll back the modest gains of Social Democracy.

All that’s needed is to show how Western Liberal Democracy wields the power of the state as autocratically as royal families and their coteries used to – for this we simply have to look to the Yellow Vests.

Western Liberal Democracy and pre-1789 autocracy – there is no real difference.

Whether the form is a parliamentary republic based on Liberalism, or an executive-led republic based on Liberalism, or a constitutional monarchy based on Liberalism – the autocracy has been the same. Only the truly elite have the money to buy Liberalist rights and influence in public policy.

Yellow Vest: “As usual, no prison for the rich – everything goes fine for them, always. They never know hunger or poverty, but put everything on the average person’s back. Benalla should have been treated like anyone else – justice should be equal for everyone.”

Just as the trends of 250 years of Iranian or Chinese history can be summarised so too can the trend of the past 250 years of French and Western history, and this book has aimed to do that. Above all the trend of moving away from an autocratic monarch and towards an empowered people’s republic is discerned. The problem has been Western Liberal Democracy’s conception of a republic: what they have always had is an oligarchic republic, inspired by the English, which aims for perpetual repression of the recently-feudal (to Asian conceptions of time!) Western masses.

The early years of all revolutionary republics are always fraught with missteps and mistakes, but made with the sincere goal of broad societal progress. In 1789 the move away from absolute monarchy was met with great difficulty and international opposition. In 1848 the move away from a limited monarchy was met with great difficulty, also caused by great inexperience. In 1871 the move towards a social republic was met with great difficulty and international opposition, also caused by great inexperience. But inexperience is not the primary difficulty of the people today – they know how to rule, but they still face great international opposition. As Marx wrote:

“The cry of ‘social republic’ with which the February Revolution (of 1848) was ushered in by the Paris proletariat, did but express a vague aspiration after a republic that was not only to supersede the monarchical form of class rule but class rule itself. The Commune (i.e. the first appearance of Socialist Democracy) was the positive form of that republic.”

However, the social republic was annihilated by neoliberalism and would not appear until 1917 in the eastern frontier of Europe – Russia.

The Yellow Vests reminded those in the 21st century who believe that the “end of history” had occurred in 1991 that the people’s desires for a social republic are no longer vague. However the Yellow Vests have had the misfortune of living in the world’s only region – the West – where socialist-inspired revolutionary cultures have never won implantation.

To their great credit, the Yellow Vests created a revolutionary condition for all of France. When it was thwarted by Liberal Democratic politicians, media and unions the Yellow Vests continued to march to keep promoting what may truly turn into a revolutionary culture at the next major uprising over Liberalism’s endemic failures. The Yellow Vests have created a vast and reliable network – there’s no doubt they will spring into action at the next opportunity.

The next political progression for the Yellow Vests is the realisation that the pan-European project only dangled the illusion of mere Social Democracy, but that its “neoliberal” basis is actually Fascist and autocratic to its very core.

The analysis of that splendidly successful revolutionary Bolshevik, Trotsky, must be remembered today if the Yellow Vests are to break with the perpetual illusion of mere Social Democracy:

The program of the Communist International has the following to say on this subject: Side by side with the Social Democracy, which assists the bourgeoisie to stifle the proletariat and to lull its vigilance, Fascism appears.’ The Communist International failed to understand that it is not the mission of Fascism to function side by side with the Social Democracy, but to destroy all the existing workers’ organizations, including the reformist. The task of Fascism, in the words of the program, is to ‘annihilate the Communist strata of the proletariat, and their leading cadres.’ Fascism, then, does not at all threaten the Social Democracy and the reformist trade unions; on the contrary, the Social Democracy itself plays a “Fascist” role to an ever increasing degree. Fascism achieves nothing more than the consummation of the labours of reformism, by functioning ‘side by side with the Social Democracy’.” (Emphasis his)

The Communist Bolsheviks rejected mere Social Democracy and instead used Socialist Democracy as their guiding structure ideology, as do Socialist-inspired countries today, who then adapt its primary economic and political imperatives to local cultures and mores. They saw that Social Democracy and Fascism work together to destroy not just Socialist Democracy-inspired groups, unions, parties, countries, etc, but also groups, unions, parties and countries which attempt Social Democratic reforms of Liberalism. As time goes on the Yellow Vests will realise, thanks to their own repression, that Liberal Democracy and Social Democracy offer them no solution except the destruction of the Yellow Vests.

One sentence later – in which Trotsky expressed his usual disapproval with the Moscow-based Comintern – Trotsky continued:

We have here before us all the basic elements of the theory of social fascism. The leaders of the Communist International failed to understand that capitalism in decay is no longer able to come to terms with the most moderate and most servile Social Democracy, either as a party in power, or as a party in opposition. It is the mission of Fascism to take its place not ‘side by side with the Social Democracy’, but on its bones. Precisely from this there flows the possibility, the need and the urgency for the united front.” (Emphasis his)

(Recall that a united front (joining together in society’s leftist struggles), is not the same as a popular front (an electoral alliance).)

Call it what you want: Social Fascism, Liberalism, autocracy, Fascism, constitutional monarchy, rule by the 1% – it is all the same oligarchic autocracy for the recently-feudal masses. I call it Western Liberal Democracy to properly place it in a geographic and historical context.

As soon as the Yellow Vests stop trying to win back the Social Democratic measures which Nicolas Sarkozy, Francois Hollande and Macron rolled back, the sooner they will realise that Socialist-inspired countries have shown a better way, method and goal. Without a major reformulation of the pan-European project – which seems impossible to get off the ground in a Liberalist-dominated media – the pan-European project’s initial lure of even greater Social Democratic gains should be seen only as a chimera.

The Yellow Vests know enough to reject existing establishment institutions, as well as pathetic PFAXIst (Popular Fronts Against Xenophobia but for Imperialism) electoral strategies – they must realise the monarchist-elitist-reformist-fascist alliance which is Western Liberal Democracy must be rejected in favor of Socialist Democracy.

That, of course, will lead to even more repression.

But their bravery will earn them more and more comrades; their correctness will only increase as the repression accumulates; the guaranteed cycles of failure in capitalism and the clockwork greed of high finance all make the move away from autocratic Liberalism certain.

The combination of royalism, Liberalism and Fascism is doomed, but people must be liberated from the long-outdated and pernicious influence of Liberalism before the next political advancement can take place. Thus the Yellow Vests, and thus this book, which is another humble tally of Liberalism’s failures.

Yellow Vest: “The people I speak with express absolutely no desire to stop the movement and remain very positive. The Yellow Vests are, above all, the French people, and the French people recognize this and this is why the movement will have a second wind.”

So admirably, The Yellow Vests have cleared the path for France: the despairing working poor, middle and lower classes have a fighting force which can never, ever be called Fascistic. France is back to being the West’s leaders of progressive politics.

Marx’s most important passage on France – guiding France from 1789 to 2022 and beyond

Here we have the most important passage in Marx’s writings on France – from his writings on the Paris Commune – because it historically summarises a century of turbulent political and socio-economic changes and pinpoints the establishment of modern Western Liberal Democracy.

The passage covers the vital and obscured history of France for a century after 1789. The short parentheticals are mine and designed to add clarity to Marx’s meaning:

“If the parliamentary republic, as M. Theirs said, ‘divided them least’ (the different factions of the French ruling class in 1850), it opened an abyss between that class and the whole body of society outside their spare ranks. The restraints by which their own divisions had under former regimes still checked the state power were removed by their unionand in view of the threatening upheaval of the proletariat they now used that state power mercilessly and ostentatiously as the national (and imperialist) war engine of capital against labor.

In their uninterrupted crusade against the producing masses they were, however, bound not only to invest the executive with continually increased powers of repressionbut at the same time divest their own parliamentary stronghold – the National Assembly – one by one, of all its own means of defence against the Executive. The Executive, in the person of (President) Louis(-Napoleon) Bonaparte, turned them out. The national offspring of the ‘Party of Order’ (the dominant political party of the 2nd) Republic was the Second Empire (of Emperor Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte).

The (Second) empire, with the coup d’etat for its birth certificate, universal suffrage for its salvation and the sword for its sceptre, professed to rest upon the peasantry – the large mass of producers not directly involved in the struggle of capital and labor. It professed to save the working class by breaking down parliamentarianism and, with it, the undisguised subserviency of government to the propertied classes. It professed to save the propertied classes by upholding their economic supremacy over the working class; and, finally, it professed to unite all classes by reviving for all the chimera of national glory.

In reality it was the only form of government possible, at a time when the bourgeoisie had already lost, and the working class had not yet acquired, the faculty of ruling the nation. (As they would acquire, starting with the Paris Commune and then later the USSR, China, Iran, etc.) It (the 2nd French Empire) was acclaimed throughout the world as the saviour of society. Under its sway bourgeois society, freed from political cares, attained a development unexpected even by itself. Its industry and commerce expanded to colossal dimensions; financial swindling celebrated cosmopolitan orgies (Marx uses this last word literally, per scandals of the time); the misery of the masses was set off by a shameless display of gorgeous, meretricious and debased luxury. The state power, apparently soaring high above society, was at the same time itself the very scandal of that society and the very hotbed of all its corruptions. Its own rottenness, and the rottenness of the society it had saved (i.e. the bourgeois elite of the 2nd Republic), were laid bare by the bayonet of Prussia, herself eagerly bent upon transferring the supreme seat of that regime from Paris to Berlin.”

The globalist descendants of the victors of 1871 would eventually comprise on Brussels instead of Berlin. Belgium – the country fabricated so that France and Germany would have a place to fight their wars, it is often joked – became “the seat of that regime”.

Yellow Vest: “We are not proud, at least not yet, because we have many more victories to accomplish. We insist on having referendums initiated by citizens, in order to democratically give a voice to all of France and to the Yellow Vests. We will keep marching to ensure that our common future is serene and peaceful.”

If we make only minor substitutions in Marx’s passage to include contemporary developments, does this not make an up-to-date history of France and Europe covering over two centuries?

If the pan-European project “divided them least” (the different factions of national ruling classes in Europe) least, it opened an abyss between that class and the whole body of society outside their spare ranks. The restraints by which their own divisions had under former regimes still checked the state power were removed by their union; and in view of the threatening upheaval of the Yellow Vests they now used that state power mercilessly and ostentatiously as the international war engine of capital against labor.

In their uninterrupted crusade against the producing masses they (the pan-European project) were, however, bound not only to invest the national executive branches with continually increased powers of repression, but at the same time divest their own national parliamentary branches, one by one, of all its own means of defence against the Executive. The Executive, in the person of a modern Louis Bonaparte (or something new and revolutionary, perhaps similar to the Supreme Leader branch of government in Iran)could not be allowed to have turned them – Brussels – out. The national offspring of the pan-European project was the neoliberal Empire of the European Union.

The empire, with the fall of the USSR for its birth certificate, denying the national referendums which rejected the European Union and which were based on universal suffrage for its salvation and the sword for its sceptre, professed to rest upon the neo-peasantry – the large mass of producers not directly involved in the struggle of capital and labor and who desired to avoid more intra-European wars, free movement around Europe and the strengthening of a Social Democratic safety net. It also professed to save the working class by breaking down national parliamentarianism and, with it, the undisguised subserviency of government to the propertied classes. It professed to save the propertied classes by upholding their economic supremacy over the working class; and, finally, it professed to unite all classes by reviving for all the chimera of supranational glory via colluding with the United States to enforce Liberalist values worldwide.

In reality it was the only form of government possible, at a time when the bourgeoisie had fully acquired the faculty of ruling the nation, something they had no experience with in 1848. It (the pan-European project) was acclaimed throughout the West as the saviour of European society. Under its sway bourgeois society, freed from political cares, such as the profit drags and democratic nuisances created by the era of Social Democracy, attained a development unexpected even by itself. Its industry and commerce expanded to colossal dimensions; financial swindling celebrated cosmopolitan orgies; the misery of the masses was set off by a shameless display of gorgeous, meretricious and debased luxury. The state power, apparently soaring high above society, was at the same time itself the very scandal of that society and the very hotbed of all its corruptions. Its own rottenness, and the rottenness of the society it had saved – the royals threatened by 1789, the bourgeois threatened by 1848, the colluding Social Democrats threatened by 1917 and the Fascists threatened by 1945 – were laid bare by the bayonet of the Yellow Vests, herself eagerly bent upon transferring the supreme national seat of that regime from Brussels back to Paris.”

France is not Cuba, Iran, China or even Southern Lebanon – it will likely take a civil war for the Yellow Vests to ever use bayonets to finally win political and economic redistribution. However, the Yellow Vests emphatically prove the willingness of Western Liberal Democracy to use violence just as brutally as the autocracies of 1788.

The Yellow Vests also remind that Western Liberal Democracy does not even allow the rights which Liberalism claims to protect – how long can that persist in a country which regularly demands the right to publicly exercise such rights, and whose pens have been freed by the digital era?

If the French elite is not going to permit even the basic rights of Liberalism, then France needs a defensive force which can protect the Liberalist rights of protesters. That is the subject of the next chapter.

<—>

Upcoming chapter list of France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values.

Publication date: July 1, 2022.

Pre-orders of the Kindle version may be made here.

Pre-orders of the French Kindle version may be made here.

Chapter List of the new content

French vote shows the undemocratic rot of the pan-European project 2/2

June 26, 2022

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. His new book is ‘France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values’. He is also the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

by Ramin Mazaheri and cross-posted with PressTV

Part 1 discussed how a “hung parliament” isn’t going to happen in France. President Emmanuel Macron won enough seats and can find plenty of allies among the mainstream conservatives, as well as the Socialist Party and Green Party. Thus, on all issues involving far-right economics, neoliberalism and the pan-European project Macron will proceed without parliamentary difficulty.

Part 1 ended with my pointing out how Macron’s coalition-building is actually unimportant.

Because the Mainstream Media is fine with his ends, they rarely discuss how Macron often used the 49-3 executive decree in his first term even when he had an absolute majority. Macron bypassed parliament just to avoid public discussion in Parliament on his hugely unpopular austerity “reforms” – i.e. right-wing rollbacks.

And then the guy would actually sign these bills – which were also entirely written by his own coterie – live on television, rubbing it in everyone’s faces! The French, of course, can’t stand this obviously autocratic – and certainly not democratic – behavior. The elite-driven “bourgeois bloc”, however, adored it.

So who cares about the French legislature? Certainly Macron has not.

Francois Hollande used the 49-3 executive decree multiple times as well, so this is clearly a long-running issue of executive branch power grabs.

The MSM doesn’t want to focus on these facts because they so obviously reveal the incredibly low quality of French democracy and of the pan-European project.

Therefore, even if Macron can’t create a majority to pass neoliberal legislation why would he allow parliament to restrain hims now? In the coming years we should expect his rationalisations along the lines of, “We must avoid dysfunction and stagnation, therefore I decree…”.

All the above explains why the democratic absolute majority winner of the legislative vote was “none of the above” – abstention won 54%. The French know that modern autocracy – rule by the 49-3 executive decree and the overruling of national sovereignty by Brussels – rules, thus rendering Europe’s national parliaments a waste of time, breath and attention. Remember Syriza of Greece, or the “bomb” Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the European Central Bank, promised Ireland? Many European citizens have not.

Elections at just 46% turnout are a hair’s breadth away from not having democratic credibility, but that must be added with the constant use of the 49-3 executive decree and the certainty of a Brussels’ veto for any legislation they don’t like. It combines to modern autocracy – rule by an oligarchical elite.

When is the broad prosperity and stability which Western Liberal Democracy promises ever going to arrive? When is the broad prosperity and stability of the pan-European project ever going to arrive? Certainly the latter’s short tenure has been marked by nothing but economic disaster and democratic repression.

Because Western Liberal Democracy took the defeated fascists of World War II under their wing they also subsumed many of their ideas. One of them is identity politics: the average Frenchman is now being told to focus on the paltry 15% score of the National Front and not the larger issues presented in the paragraph above. It’s nonsense, and to do that would be to play into the hands of the bourgeois bloc.

All of these realities should be clear to people who cover French politics.

Macron has to actually pay attention to parliament now and work a little harder to win over some votes (but only if he actually feels like it) – I guess that’s democracy, but it’s not much. The MSM and bourgeois bloc elite is worried that “reforms” – i.e. rollbacks to the Social Democratic advances implemented from 1945-75 – won’t get through, but after 13 years here, and over 1,500 2-3 minute television reports for PressTV, which includes over 3,000 soundbites from French people, and hundreds of written columns, I’m worried about the democratic will of the French people.

But it’s been foolish to look for the democratic will in Western Liberal Democratic parliaments and in French parliament ever since 1848, when they did away with unelected monarchy.

France’s parliament is going to get louder, but that’s about it. It’ll be more like the United States in that there will be a lot of grandstanding and big talk, and then the same right-wing conclusions will arrive exactly as predicted. If it somehow doesn’t – Macron will use the executive decree. If Macron somehow doesn’t use the executive decree – Brussels will step in to forbid, sanction or legislate around the democratic will of any member nation.

As time goes on this reality will become clear and clearer. Some in the NUPES alliance and some in the National Front will actually say such things in Parliament. Macron promised to govern in a way to decrease “extremism” – i.e. those who point out the failures of Liberalism – but he clearly achieved the exact opposite.

Macronism is my generation’s type of conservatism, but that doesn’t mean it was ever built to last. The former Rothschild banker was a candidate who was fabricated at the last moment of 2016 by the intensely monied powers who have always governed in Western Liberal Democracy. He’s not as all-powerful as he was in his first term, but how could he be, given his discrediting behavior, his lack of merit and the arrogant elite he chooses to guide him? How could Western Liberal Democracy not keep proving to the masses their lack of concern for the problems of the working poor and middle classes?

However, since 2009 France does not control its currency, prices, budget, laws, rails, skies and obviously much, much else. A major failure of the Yellow Vests was to focus their attention entirely on Macron and on parliament and not on the pan-European project. The Western media tells them deceptive lies, but this column has laid out solid conclusions drawn from close observation. The Yellow Vests have protested every Saturday since October 2021 – you likely haven’t heard about that because the MSM refuses to tell the truth about that, too. When the next inevitable bust period occurs in Liberalism, they are ready to be there.

Will France descend into chaos shortly, as many predict? My God – how can it get more chaotic than every single Saturday from November 2018 through June 2019? All that’s left is for the forces of order to open fire on protesters – massacres!

That would change things – at least I hope it would. The West, ever-grandstanding about their moral superiority, certainly ignored the occasionally-lethal brutality towards the Yellow Vests.

The French elections have ended – major changes were not made. Since the Great Recession, and subsequent undemocratic installation of the pan-European project, the world’s third-largest but weakest and least-sovereign economy has only gotten weaker. After damage so great we don’t even know how bad it is, the coronavirus fog has lifted – remember that it was instituted just weeks after the failure of France’s longest labor movement ever, the general strike of 2019-20. France and the EU are marching to war over the unrest in Ukraine, and also sacrificing their economies for that cause.

Such is France today.

No Bonapartism – either Napoleonic or Louis-Napoleonic – is coming to save them from the autocratic bourgeois bloc. They have no revolutionary “Supreme Leader branch” of government, either – they don’t even want to understand what that term means. The French don’t believe in the goodwill of the leadership of the United States, but they follow them anyway. China, which since 2008 has soared in direct inverse proportion to the demise of Europe, is following an independent path, just as Iran has done since 1979. Now Russia appears to be doing the same after three decades of Liberalism.

The world needn’t worry about the results of French parliament, but they should worry for the French.


Part 1 of 2

French vote shows the undemocratic rot of the pan-European project 1/2

June 25, 2022

by Ramin Mazaheri and cross-posted with PressTV

France’s election season finally got interesting, but only marginally.

Even though his brutal repression of the Yellow Vests should disqualify him from being a public servant ever again, Emmanuel Macron was re-elected president, incredibly. However, he has finally been reprimanded at the voting booth – his parliamentary coalition just lost its absolute majority.

The Yellow Vests can claim wresting yet another concession. Unfortunately – like most of their concessions – it’s rather minor.

The Mainstream Media is in a tizzy over an allegedly “hung parliament”, but don’t they always do that when the working-poor class rebels against Western Liberalist diktats?

The man initially hailed as the “new leader of the free world” by Politico (how badly does that hold up four years later?), and who then obviously became a “liberal strongman”, now has to actually acknowledge the National Assembly’s existence after ruling by executive order for five years.

This is such a bad thing? The entire start of modern global politics, in 1789, was the move away from absolute monarchy via the demand for a parliament – a representative body which can, finally, exert some influence over the policy-making of the executive branch.

To the Western elite: yes, this is a very bad thing.

They don’t want absolute autocracy anymore, but they certainly don’t want the poor, working-poor and middle classes exerting any influence over policy-making. They are continually appalled at how the French masses – from the Yellow Vests, to the 2005 “No” vote on the European Constitution, to the election of anti-austerity candidates like Francois Hollande and Francois Mitterrand – keep rejecting the “bourgeois bloc’s” insistence that neoliberalism is the greatest thing since pockets.

The dominant analysis in France now is that it is divided into three blocs: the far-right of Le Pen, a left wing (represented by the NUPES “popular front”, which just over-promised and under-delivered) and a “center” of Macronistas. This is wrong. The best description of French divisions is between a bourgeois bloc (the 25% which supports Macron) and everyone else (the 75% which supported the Yellow Vests/the 70% which didn’t want Macron to have another absolute majority in parliament).

The bourgeois bloc is obviously full of pro-elite, pro-privilege, right-wing ideas – neo-imperialism, free market economics, perpetual austerity, a poor social safety net, regressive taxes on the average person but tax evasion for the rich and corporations, the idea that citizens should vote once every 4 or 5 years for elite politicians and then stop being involved in politics – but what it is actually presented as is “radical centrism”. Much like the idea of the “bourgeois bloc”, such terms are gaining popularity in recent years.

“Radical centrism” is the idea that mainstream Western thought is the only “right” way to view reality. The ideology of Liberalism is “centrist”, or so they allege, but they definitely make this claim with a virulence that is truly radical.

This started post-1991 with TINA – There Is No Alternative. The great unsaid to that popular phrase is that There Is No Alternative to Neoliberalism and Neo-imperialism. Radical centrism has become – to them – “the truth”. Criticise their policies – such as the false benevolence, and certainly the false success, of the pan-European project – and you are classified as “disinformation”. Affirm these policies and you’re a blue-checked “expert” and “independent”.

It’s all nonsense of course, but ever since 1789 created a bourgeois bloc they have always been out of touch with the average person’s experiences and beliefs.

This brings us back to the legislative vote: the Western MSM, owned by the bourgeois bloc in a West which eschews state media, is now worried that without an absolute majority Macron won’t be able to force through his “radical centrist” policies as easily as he did for the past five years.

The Western MSM is, of course, totally unconcerned about the fact that Macron forced through his policies only on top of the broken bones, lost eyes and blood of the Yellow Vests. They only worry about protesters in right-wing places like Hong Kong, or Ukraine, or the MKO, etc.

The intellectual state of France has now been established – are the MSM’s worries justified? Does the vote signify a huge change?

No, but not for the reasons expected by people who don’t closely follow French politics.

Firstly, ignore the usual French drama: Of course newspapers want to sell papers by inflaming the results. The far-right’s Marine Le Pen wants to act like 15% is a parliamentary majority, leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon wants to believe that 25% of seats earns him the prime minister post, and the mainstream conservative Republicans are talking about “still being an opposition party” but these are all lies, exaggerations and self-delusions.

The biggest delusion outside of France since 2017 is that Macron was ever a “centrist”. His subsequent legalisation of Islamophobia and the state of emergency, his far-right economic policies and his authoritarian style all disproved that indisputably.

Macron was always a mainstream conservative, just with a new logo and of his generation. Somehow this eluded many commentators, and I attribute this – among the misled older commentators – to a generation gap.

Macron’s generation was raised to be entirely pro-Europhile, and also to reject xenophobia. Some in the mainstream conservative party are pro-globalisation and some aren’t so much, and some in the mainstream conservative party are Islamophobic and some aren’t so much, but those in les Républicains haven’t joined the National Front (now the National Rally) for a reason, and that reason is: these are not their main issues.

So we should add together the seats of Macron’s coalition and those of the mainstream conservatives – and we get an absolute majority of 53%. Thus, on all issues involving far-right economics, neoliberalism and the pan-European project Macron will proceed without parliamentary difficulty.

People are acting like Les Républicains haven’t been going along with pan-European project diktats since Nicolas Sarkozy? It’s crazy. He’s the one who engineered the passage of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, which was rejected in that 2005 vote mentioned above, and which put the installation of the European Union in the hands of national parliaments (run by the bourgeois bloc) and not in the hands of voters.

Macron’s coalition won enough seats to avoid a crisis. He’ll be able to win over just 2/3rds of Republicans (or 44 seats) for a majority on anything of economic and political importance to conservatives (and to pan-Euroepans).

However, one must realise that Macron will also win over many in the Socialist Party and the Green Party, as well! They are plenty of them who are totally on board with neoliberalism and the pan-European project. The NUPES left-green alliance is already fracturing.

Allow me a short victory lap: in already-published chapters of my new book (France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values – out July 1) I predicted the formation of AND the failure of the NUPES “popular front”. I understand Western fake-leftism – what can I say? This electoral alliance was always just that – to win votes – and it’s already breaking apart. Many in NUPES only put away their Europhilia to keep their seat, after all.

This certainly cannot be argued with, as well: There simply has not been a huge influx of parliamentarians who are anti-EU, anti-Liberalist, anti-austerity and anti-bourgeois bloc, and certainly not any majority. It will be business as usual in Western Liberal Democracy.

However, all of these facts are entirely moot!

You haven’t wasted your time, however, but you do need to please read Part 2 of this column, out soon.


Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. His new book is ‘France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values’. He is also the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

Growing up Yellow Vest: Seeing French elites, not French people, conquered by neoliberalism

May 08, 2022

Source

By Ramin Mazaheri

World War II saw massive political gains by the lower classes and average person, but only via their own mass-murder. Many socio-economic demands which go back to 1789 and which animated the Revolutions of 1848 were put in place, finally.

(This is the ninth chapter in a new book, France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. Please click here for the article which announces this book and explains its goals.)

The three biggest changes were that socialism was now firmly implanted on the global scene, women got the right to vote in France in 1944 and that the Western Liberal Democratic elite were discredited worse than ever.

That forced Western elite, who were now allying with fascists to forestall further socialist and anti-imperialist victories, to make political and economic concessions which they had resisted for a century. These subsequent 30 years – from 1945 to 1975 – are known as the “30 Glorious Years” in French history. During this period a broad economic stability was founded upon the stability, productivity, joy and long-sightedness which can only be provided by worker rights and influence, and by socialist-inspired levers and organisations.

The brief era of “Social Democracy” was officially terminated by the introduction of the euro (1999) and then the European Union (2009). EU citizenship was introduced in 1992 but its official installation was not until 2009, with the elite-only ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, which amended the constitutional basis of the EU, the Maastricht Treaty (1992) and the Treaty of Rome (1957). The Yellow Vests would be the flaming leftist economic and political reaction to this political-economic regression away from Social Democracy. The introduction of this version the pan-European project was a major regression in the threat of modern political history: to reduce the autocratic rights of elite and to increase the empowerment of the average person.

Sadly, it was only 30 years – one generation – before the autocratic and oligarchical elite began to retake power. When they do this effort is called “neoliberalism”, even though the first “neoliberalism” was with the start of 3rd Republic (1871-1940), which restored the immediately discredited and popularly rejected Liberalism of the 2nd Republic (1848-52). The goal of today’s “3rd-liberalism” is to end the Social Democracy era and to redistribute its gains back to the Liberalist 1%.

This book ignores the upheaval of 1968 in France – when a General Strike attracted 8 million workers in a country of 50 million people – for this reason: This is a book is about political changes, and the rebellion of 1968 only produced cultural changes. It was indeed a cultural revolution, but because it was not state-sponsored, as in China, where cultural changes were embraced by leaders like Mao Zedong, the Western Liberal Democratic elite successfully broke any chance of fully democratising from Social Democracy to Socialist Democracy. There’s no denying that this era’s cultural revolution (note the lower case) won advances in everyday culture but that is not the same as formal political-economic changes.

The political failures/cultural gains of this era would eventually reveal the continued rightward shift within the elite of the French left, and this can be illustrated by the path of Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the most prominent of the student leaders in 1968. In his memoirs he wrote that he was not seeking Marxist-inspired equality but simply more control over his personal life. These freedom of expression types of changes can perhaps be encapsulated in the freedom of students to now question their teachers in class. Cohn-Bendit would quit the Trotskyists, switched to the Green Party, became a devoted Europhile, reject the Yellow Vests and is now a close advisor to Emmanuel Macron – it’s an incredibly representative political trajectory of this era. Ecology is a subject completely neutered of class politics (even though the idea of a capitalist/competitive solution to ecological issues, and not socialist/cooperative solution, is an obvious absurdity) and thus is the political outlet most encouraged by contemporary Western Liberal Democratic elite.

However, we should note that for many decades already French socialism was primarily intellectual, and dominated by right-wing socialists: “Before the war of 1914-1918 only 20% of socialist deputies were workers while they had been 80% of the German socialist party (SPD), and they represented the totality of the English Labor party. The socialism of Jaures and Blum is, when it comes to leaders, a socialism of intellectuals and liberal professions,” wrote Romaric Godin in La guerre sociale en France (The Social War in France – 2019). Jean Jaures and Leon Blum were the right-leaning socialist leaders of their respective generations. Jaures is notable in that both Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy both claimed to be continuing his legacy. Also notable is that whether worker or intellectual – 20th century West European socialists failed.

Between the USSR’s fall (1991) and China’s rise (starting in 2008) the French left’s economic ideology was in disunity and disarray at best and total betrayal at worst. Many also went whole-hog over to neo-imperialist culture, espousing right-wing “universal values” and embracing neo-colonial wars in the former Yugoslavia and the Muslim world.

The change began in 1974 with the death in office of President George Pompidou, Charles de Gaulle’s successor in the 5th Republic (1958-today), just a month before the presidential vote.

Neoliberalism starts to win over elites from Paris to Moscow, but the French keep protesting

Pompidou’s death effectively ended Gaullism, which had helped win World War II, presided over the “30 Glorious Years” and insisted on French sovereignty. The closet election in French history saw the victory of the aristocrat Valerie Giscard d’Estaing, a politician who was thus extremely familiar but also a new breed: Giscard d’Estaing was liberal on social issues, rejected Gaullist Euroscepticism and was extremely close with high finance – he served as Minister of Finance twice. We see how the “Bankocracy” has gone from not existing in 1789 France to running the executive branch. He marks the start of the third restoration of extremist Liberalist thought.

Liberals had been waiting decades to restore firm control, and they salivated at the prospect of dividing up the spoils created by the 30 Glorious Years. Using the excuse of inflation cased by a rise in oil prices in 1973, free competition was reimposed after decades of abandonment, austerity was imposed for the first time, salaries were frozen, compulsory salary taxes soared ten points to nearly 30% and the despised CDD work contract was created. (The despised contrat à durée déterminée is a temporary employment contract which renders life in France extremely difficult and unstable. It’s usual length is one month and then it is renewed endlessly, without ever becoming a long-term contract. As the French do not have hourly wages, the CDD can perhaps be thought of as “part-time work”.) Seigniorial dues and tithes were not restored.

It would not be until 2016 that a team of economists at the International Monetary Fund would release a paper which admits that austerity doesn’t work. The economic massacring of the lower and middle class which is austerity would be the reason for the upcoming years recession, although the mainstream history is that it was entirely due to the rise in oil prices.

France was not alone in its first steps towards the restoration of Liberalism. The United States responded to energy inflation with the “Volcker Shock” in March 1980: a huge rise in interest rates which gutted the average person’s primary asset class – the housing market. The UK and Germany turned to wage suppression. It’s vital to note that the same elite capture was also occurring in the USSR. By Christmas 1991 it would be imploded from the top: their elite infamously ignored a high-turnout referendum in March in which 80% of the nation voted to preserve the USSR.

Unsurprisingly, the French voter rebelled: Giscard d’Estaing was voted out in 1981. A socialist-communist backing of Francois Mitterrand’s economic platform – the most socialist economic plan ever promoted in the non-Eastern Bloc Europe – was a repeat of 1936. However, by 1983 he infamously made his U-turn back to austerity (more on this shortly) – French elites had fully accepted the terms of Liberalism.

Yellow Vest: “I worked from the age of 14 until the age of 60, and in my entire life I accepted only 1 month of unemployment insurance. And yet, in the last 4 years I have seen my pension lowered from 1,150 euros to 1,050 euros. My rent is 800 euros a month, so I cannot afford to live, and I will never accept this injustice.”

(Note: this book intersperses over 100 quotations taken from actual, marching Yellow Vests which were originally published in news reports on PressTV.)

By 1986 French neoliberalism was in full swing: the abolishment of price controls, the end of controls on exchange rates and the deregulation of financial markets in order to do what modern Western financial markets do – divert the wealth produced by people who actually work into the bank accounts of the 1%. Mass de-nationalisations began: General Electric Company, Suez, Paribas and Société Générale (banks), Saint-Gobain and Matra (industrial giants).

The average Frenchman would not accept the death of Social Democracy as complacently as in the rest of the West, and that fact is certainly in keeping with the line of West European history since 1789 – the Yellow Vests only confirm this line further. The French responded to the restoration of Liberalism over socialist-inspired ideas with massive, broadly-encompassing and successful social movements: protests against proposed university reforms in 1986 and rail reforms in 1987. The “Touche pas à mon pote” (Don’t touch my buddy) movement marked the introduction of French Muslims into French political movements.

Godin, who is also the economics reporter for France’s top media, Mediapart, wrote: “The error of (then prime minister) Jacques Chirac in 1986 was to think that he could force through a new culture which could sweep away the past, as Margaret Thatcher did across the Channel. However, the French showed their capacity to resist the complete destruction of their social model.”

In France from 1986 until 1995 efforts at restoring liberalism were stopped by massive social movements: against worse work contracts in 1994, retirement and social security cutbacks in 1995. The 1995 General Strike was the largest since 1968, and the political introduction for a new generation. Starting in 1992, the excuse of the need to “qualify” for the euro currency – and thus right-wing rollbacks were needed – was unconvincing to the average Frenchman as well.

From 1995-2007 the attempts at major neoliberal reforms were less ambitious and, crucially, began to offer some monetary redistribution efforts as compensation for right-wing deforms. This is partially explained by the inflation which immediately followed the introduction of the euro in 1999. The reforms of 1994 would fail again in 2006 when they were attempted to be rammed through, due to more protests.

But by 2002 the leftist voter had partially revolted against the traitorous French left – the National Front made it to the 2nd round at the expense of the ever-more un-socialist Socialist Party. The far-right party – totally neoliberal in economics – was led by Jean-Marie Le Pen, a former intelligence officer in Algeria. Like with Cavaignac in 1848, once again Algerian colonisation has provided the entry point for the most extreme-right and anti-socialist elements in French domestic politics.

The National Front’s advancement to the runoff was precisely due to the left’s now two decade-long embrace of neoliberalism despite the rejection of neoliberalism by its constituents. The French mainstream media like to blame Mitterrand’s party-gerrymandering, but that’s a distant secondary reality from the fact that voters opposed this third return of liberalism. However, unlike in 1852 there was no Bonapartism to send Liberalists packing, and unlike in 1945 liberalists had not yet had a long-running economic crisis deep enough and/or war to fully discredit them.

The 2005 French European Constitution referendum was essentially a referendum on neoliberalism, and it lost by a 55-45% margin. The majority of the French Socialist Party would vote yes, and that effort would be led by future president Francois Hollande. Three days later the Netherlands would also vote no, by a 62-38% margin. Aghast, Western Liberal Democrats decided that this would essentially be the end of putting the concept of the European Union to popular votes.

Yellow Vest: “The government doesn’t listen to us at all. The economic situation keeps getting worse, the prices are rising, and the government’s response is to attack the Yellow Vests to keep us from telling the truth.”

In May of 2007 neoliberalism made a huge inroad in France with the election of Nicolas “l’Américain” Sarkozy, the son of a Hungarian nobleman. Sarkozy was the first French politician since World War II to break totally with even lip service to being an anti-monarchist in style and ideology. Giscard d’Estaing at least made regular and often poorly-received efforts to shed his aristocratic pretensions and appear close with the average person. The pernicious influence of monarchy was still grasped in France then, but the new millennium has seen Western culture re-cultivate the idea that greed is good and that the aristocracy are our betters.

Sarkozy would make France the first major European power to approve the new Lisbon Treaty, which put the installation of the European Union into the hands of the elite: the Maastricht Treaty was reformed to allow the installation of the EU via the approval of national parliaments and not popular referendums. French Socialist MPs overwhelmingly voted in favor of this coup in plain sight.

The method (oligarchical approval) and context (an economic collapse unseen since 1929) of the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty cannot be stressed enough, as it unmistakably reveals that in the history of Western Liberal Democracy the installation of EU was the latest in a never-ending line of autocratic decisions by their oligarchical elites. Again, by understanding modern political history (which began in 1789) as a move away from autocracy and towards democracy we see how the EU is a regression and not a progression.

Only Ireland was able to achieve a popular referendum on the Lisbon Treaty: when the first vote produced a rejection a re-vote was forced the following year, when it passed. Every other member approved the installation by a vote in their national parliaments, as well as six royal assents.

This is a precise repeat of when the parliamentarians of the French 2nd Republic, the continent’s first Western Liberal Democracy, committed coups against the people via voting to submit the 1848 Constitution to the majority approval of parliament, and then to gut the primary advance of the 1848 Revolution, universal male suffrage. The populist reaction then was the democratic approval of the re-installation of Bonapartism in 1852, with Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, who restored universal suffrage and ended the disastrous first foray of Western Liberal Democracy.

The vast majority of nations would ratify the Lisbon Treaty between February and July of 2008, a disastrous year. The collapse of Lehman Brothers investment firm that September is the official start of the Great Recession, but the US Federal Reserve held its first emergency weekend meeting in 30 years back in March, to negotiate the shocking collapse of the Bear Stearns investment group. Thus, it’s not as if European elite weren’t aware of major issues brewing. Four countries, including Germany, would not fully ratify the treaty until after the fall of Lehman Brothers. We can certainly call it an amazing coincidence: how the elite Liberalist politicians successfully forced through the European Union mere weeks before economic collapse struck?

The Treaty would be fully ratified in November 2009 amid mass bankruptcy, home foreclosures, unemployment and that slogan which is the essence of British conservatism: “Keep calm and carry on”. The pan-European project was now complete and – as we’ll see – largely unchangeable. The European Union thus joined only Saudi Arabia, Israel, San Marino and the UK Commonwealth as having citizenry but no constitution.

The European Union thus was born amid the Great Recession – it has never been willing or able to end it.

The next chapter will deal with three related events – the Great Recession, the European Sovereign Debt Crisis and the Age of Austerity – which left the French populace too skeptical, resentful and experienced to allow the extremist Liberalist policies and autocratic personality of Emmanuel Macron to go uncommented upon, as he apparently had assumed.

This chapter has thus far shown how the French people, but not the elites, successfully fought the 3rd restoration of liberalism which so many other countries embraced even before the implosion of the Soviet Union. We should now turn to these new Liberalist structures.

I should note that in this era of Socialist Democratic collapse the last great progressive revolution of our contemporary times – the Iranian Islamic Revolution – victoriously emerged from the ashes of the Western-imposed Iran-Iraq War in 1988. They found very few sympathisers to the socialist-inspired country it had just forged, and then 9/11 would create not just skepticism but violent animosity towards seemingly all things Islamic.

The European Union – capitalist cartel or France’s idea of a progressive & united continent?

Yes, it’s pathetically easy to dismiss any discussion of the European Union as being merely an extension of aristocratic autocracy: since 1992 there have been eight national referendums which rejected key aspects of the European Union only to be either ignored or subverted by oligarchical elites. Nonetheless, if we insist (rightly) that another version of the pan-European project is possible then we need to see how France has repeatedly proposed an alternative vision of a united Europe, and one which wouldn’t have been embraced by the liberalists of 1848 or 1871.

Just as Lenin saw that the principal feature of modern capitalism is monopoly, so the EU began in 1951 as an undemocratic cartel to fix prices for coal and steel. The European Coal and Steel Community also included a multinational bureaucracy which was empowered to ignore national parliaments and laws.

Was the EU always intended to be just a capitalist cartel? It’s possible, but we cannot completely ignore France’s historical trend since 1789, which is to be more often than not at the progressive forefront of the West.

In the WWII postwar reckoning France was excluded: de Gaulle was famously not invited to the Yalta Conference in February 1945. Thus, France immediately saw that the US and UK liberalists were only dealing with the head of Western leftism since 1917, the USSR. After the Labor Party defeated Winston Churchill in July 1945, just two months after the defeat of the Germans, the rabidly anti-socialist US called off the in-progress plan to de-industrialise Germany and instead tapped West Germany for their imperial collaborators in Europe. That is why Germany is the industrial powerhouse of Europe today even though they provoked and lost WWII: Western Liberal Democracy’s alliance with postwar fascists couldn’t be more clear. This was a crucial historical decision which laid the foundation for German domination of the Eurozone and EU today. Many would add that it is a US domination of the Eurozone and EU, and via their longtime dependant in Germany.

By the 1960s French elites were well aware that they could not compete industrially with America’s creation of a German Frankenstein, so in their conception of a pan-European project they wanted to join with – not conquer – Germany. In some ways this is a continuation of the Franco-German elite alliance in 1871, but there is a very different factor this time: the imperialist United States.

Historically, no country’s elite has pushed harder for European unification than France, and that’s because the European Union was seen by many French elite as something which could serve as a Franco-German bulwark against imperial domination – that of the United States. The idea of total French enmity with Germany since 1871 is a short-term view – the two neighbors share a tremendous number of cultural similarities, values, multiple regions and several millions of Franco-German citizens in Alsace, Lorraine and in Alpine regions. France uniquely combines both the cultures of Latin/Mediterranean Europe and Northern Europe, after all. Some further add that France is a Latin country but run by a Northern elite. European unification was seen by many in Paris as an effort to preserve the sovereignty of both nations and to create a counterbalance to the obviously domineering US. In this way we can say that the European Union was the latest in two centuries of effort by France to unite Europe in a more progressive way – the problem is the awful, undemocratic structures which this version of a pan-European project would ultimately adopt.

The foundational Élysée Treaty of friendship between France and Germany, signed in 1963, was a clear attempt to separate West Germany from the Anglosphere. The US was livid at France’s attempt at undermining the US-imposed postwar order: “I can hardly overestimate the shock produced in Washington by this action or the speculation that followed, particularly in the intelligence community,” said top US diplomat and banker George Ball.

The French understood that the 1944 Bretton Woods monetary system (when accounts began being regularly settled not in gold but in dollars) was not meant as a balanced system of international trade and financial flows but as an instrument of US domination via the dollar. Europe’s participation meant it supported American living standards and subsidised American companies. That the US could print unlimited dollars for unlimited imports was famously deemed an “exorbitant privilege” by France, but postwar France could do nothing about it until 1965.

The US deficit exploded in the mid-1960s, mostly due to their imperialist wars in East Asia. France and de Gaulle openly demanded a reform of the Bretton Woods system, a return to the gold standard and began repatriating French gold from New York City banks. “Perhaps never before had a chief of state launched such an open assault on the monetary power of a friendly nation,” wrote Time magazine in February 1965. In 1967 France was the first to withdraw from the West’s London Gold Pool, hastily constructed in 1961 to defend Bretton Woods. Unlike the UK and Germany, France was not always so subservient to the United States.

The truth which financial media never wants to tell is that France had a genuine commitment to a pan-Europeanism guided by a mixed socialist/pro-growth/not-rabidly-capitalist economic plan. This mirrors France’s own postwar “Mixed Economy” model, in which the state gives short- and long-term targets for industry to meet, and aids them to achieve it. There’s planning and state ownership – not at the level of a communist state but enough to enrage liberalists. There is also a commitment to a social safety net because endless austerity is simply not sustainable if French elite wish to avoid further revolutions. France’s Mixed Economy is also not at the level of Japan, where the state’s role was much larger (until the Plaza Accord of 1985, signed by Japan, the US, France, West Germany and the UK), and where economic success was spectacularly greater.

France’s contemporary effort to fight far-right economics and austerity did not begin with Francois Hollande’s 2012 election campaign campaign but began three decades earlier. So why did Mitterrand’s anti-3rd liberalist “Common Project” culminate in a U-turn in in 1983? Of course, just like in 1936, 1871 or 1848 the primary reason is that Western Liberal Democracy is an oligarchy which refuses to listen to the majority will of the people (as in a normal democracy). But in 1983 the power of a completely united globalist rich class – one undivided by royalist squabbles or support for the national sovereignty proposed in fascism – could be wielded as one. This same tool – the “Bankocracy” of international high finance – would also be used to provoke the 2012 European Sovereign Debt Crisis.

Despite a huge democratic mandate to end Giscard d’Estaing’s austerity and restore growth polices, France was immediately foiled by high finance and currency speculators. Capital flight from France to Germany immediately took place and long-term borrowing rates (10-year bond) went from 9.6% in March 1979 all the way to 17.3% in May 1981, when Mitterrand was elected. Government bonds, as Marx foresaw, are the indispensable lifeblood of the biggest economic actor in any capitalist country: the government. After devaluing the franc three times Mitterrand was forced into submission. He made his U-turn and by March 1986 10-year bonds were at 9.3%.

Yellow Vest: “The British have shown us that it is possible to obtain a referendum on leaving the European Union. However, the French media refuses to ever discuss the issue at all, but many in France will not stop demanding a Frexit.”

What happened was that Germany and the Bundesbank, knowing that Western high-finance was philosophically in their corner and willing to destroy France’s democratic will with every dollar they could borrow, joined with global high finance and professional currency speculators to strangle France into backtracking on socialist-inspired policies. If high finance cared at all for democracy they would have supported France’s anti-austerity plan. However such an idea is as absurd today as it was to socialists, fascists and even the apolitical in the 1930s, and also to those opposing the nouveau riche backers of the House of Orleans in 1830’s July Revolution.

France could not boldly defy high finance and keep devaluing their currency until growth took hold for another crucial reason: they would have had to abandon the 1979-inaugurated European Monetary System (EMS), the financial predecessor of the euro. This was an adjustable exchange rate agreement which linked 10 Western European currencies to prevent large fluctuations. It was France’s brainchild for their long-term goal: wooing Germany away from the US and towards a genuinely European integration. Preferring to stay in the EMS meant violating the people’s democratic will demanding an anti-austerity agenda – this process would obviously be repeated ad nauseam.

By 1993 the European Union would begin, which replaced the European Economic Community, which in 1957 had replaced the original European Coal and Steel Community. The euro currency would arrive six years later – the new structures would fully end the Social Democracy era.

In 2012 Hollande was the hope of an entire “Latin Bloc” against Germanic austerity, once again, but he would do the exact same U-turn. However, he showed far less resolve than Mitterrand and faced far less pressure: 10-year bonds stood at 2.75% when Hollande was elected and and they fell immediately – high finance seemed to know the longtime Europhile Hollande’s anti-austerity promises were election nonsense. French 10-year bonds stood at 0.81% when he left office, in total disgrace and with the Socialist Party perhaps permanently smashed.

More important than the EU – the Eurogroup

Part of the problem of talking about the “pan-European project” is that you have multiple bodies which overlap. You also have some nations which are part of one, but not another. Or which pay into one body, but abstain from another.

The Eurozone is more important than the European Union because it controls the money in the world’s second largest macro-economic bloc behind the US (in 2008). By comparison, the EU is mainly a regulatory body, and their modest annual budget – about the size of Denmark’s – reflects that.

All serious studies of the eurozone – from Nobel Prize-winning economists, such as Joseph Stiglitz, to those with insider knowledge of how it operates, such as former Greek Finance Minster Yanis Varoufakis – stress that there is nothing in its structure which allows for the possibility for change. That’s a pretty vital and damning conclusion to be consistently reached, especially when post-1991 Europe loves to stand on its hind legs and lecture the rest of the world about democracy. Objective studies reach another regular conclusion, and it’s one which is shared by the lower- and middle-class: the euro has totally failed in its promise to bring about prosperity and economic security.

The Eurozone was a clear replication of the German Zollverein, led by Prussia during the 19th century, which was the world’s first example of independent states creating a full economic union without also creating a political union. Germanifying an area of German-speaking peoples and cultures is one thing, but trying to replicate that for all of Europe has only led to dramatic inequalities.

The Eurozone thus embodies the victory of Germanic economic ideology in tandem with the victory of English oligarchic parliamentarianism in political ideology – this is perhaps the simplest essence of Western Liberal Democracy: England’s Glorious Revolution of 1688 combined with the Germanic commitment to the economic autocracy of the elite. The French are often called the intellectuals of Europe, but it’s far more accurate to call them the ignored intellectuals of Europe: the history of Europe since 1789 is the defeat of French intellectual egalitarianism and the victory of the aristocratic thought of Anglo-Germanic intellectuals.

To examine the Eurozone you have to bring up something which mainstream media is instructed to ignore – the Eurogroup.

The Eurogroup rules the Eurozone and its 19 member states, and it also governs the “bailouts” to member nations like Greece. The Eurogroup is, at face value, an informal monthly meeting of the finance ministers of the euro member countries.

However, it is no exaggeration to say that the Eurogroup is the banker cabal hidden in plain sight. It is truly the expression of the autocratic and oligarchical forces which go back to 1788. Gone are the Bourbons and Orleanists, though of course they remain on the boards of banks and hedge funds.

In his 2017 book And The Weak Suffer What They Must? Varoufakis provided a wealth of insider knowledge on how the Eurogroup operates.

“Moreover, the Eurogroup, where all the important economic decisions are taken, is a body that does not even exist in European law, that operates on the basis that the ‘strong do as they please while the weak suffer what they must’, that keeps no minutes of its proceedings, and whose only rule is that its deliberations are confidential – that is, not to be shared with Europe’s citizenry. It is a set-up designed to preclude any sovereignty traceable back to the people of Europe.”

What can we say of Western Liberal Democracy when their most advanced economic achievement is governed by an entity with no rules, no records, no democratic process and no democratic accountability? It is truly a return to 1788 – the time when the average person had no say in politics or economics. Every French person should be able to recognise in 21st century Western Liberal Democracy the autocratic domination which even the many European kings of today recognise is no longer unacceptable.

Thanks to the whistle-blowing of Varoufakis we also know that there is also essentially no discussion at Eurogroup meetings: The Troika (the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Commission) initiates, dominates and outlines the terms and then the finance minister-members vote. The overwhelming majority of participants in this group which governs eurozone economic policy (and thus social policy) are bankers, former bankers or intimately tied to high finance.

When bankers run economic policy, one shouldn’t be surprised if the resulting social policy is for the benefit of bankers and their biggest aristocratic clients. Yes, the EU is obviously a Bankocracy, but Bankocracy is simply the modern form of rule by an oligarchy of the rich and powerful. It is as if the new banker class in 1830’s France didn’t just put the House of Orleans on the throne and boot out the House of Bourbon, but as if the new banker class assassinated all Houses, restored serfdom and declared that they had a divine right to rule. Their obvious goal is the rollback of mere Social Democracy, and to reattempt a destruction of any Socialist Democracies.

The Eurogroup is not an EU institution and cannot declare any legally-binding decisions. It can never be blamed for a bad decision, nor held accountable, because it is not answerable to any parliament or body politic whatsoever. Many are increasingly asking in France and Europe: What’s the point of voting for any national or EU politician if they have little to no chance of influencing policy? Many don’t even realise that the highest level of policymaking is actually the Eurogroup.

Yellow Vest: “In France’s 5th Republic when someone is elected president they can do whatever they want for five years because we truly have no way to influence them. This is why the Yellow Vests are insisting that Macron accept regular citizen referendums on his policies, because he is destroying French society.”

(Of course, what will occur when citizen referendums oppose the decisions of the Eurogroup? The European Union will step in and either totally ignore the referendum, call it illegal or regulate them away.)

It is self-evident that that when politics does not rule – where there is no law or regulation – the rich are the rulers. It is also self-evident that in a climate of total deregulation the richest nations and persons will benefit the most, thus inequality will increase. It is also self-evident that when billionaires and hedge funds own the bulk of a deregulated and denationalised media there will be very little discussion of the Eurogroup in the mainstream media. This is what has happened throughout the history of the Eurogroup, which operated without formal recognition until the Lisbon Treaty.

Unsurprisingly, the US pioneered the concept of mass deregulation in the early 1980s, which they foisted on Europe as much as possible when their academics, think tanks and intellectuals helped oversee the writing of the new structures of the pan-European projects. It is thus no exaggeration to say that – coming after the so-called “end of history” and Liberalism’s alleged total victory following the fall of the USSR – the Eurogroup has achieved the American dream of total deregulation even more than in America.

For the Eurogroup to become remotely democratic and not autocratic/oligarchic a Eurozone constitution would have to be created, an executive would seem useful, a legislative branch would be indispensable and approval power over national budgets would seem necessary. Only the last is already in existence, but why would they add any Liberal or Socialist Democracy to this Bankocracy? Answer: they never will create this in any sort of equitable format.

Such facts make it clear why the Eurogroup cannot be considered compatible with democracy, and thus cannot be supported. One might support creating a new Eurozone or changes to the Eurozone structure, but supporting the current Eurozone is simply indefensible. The European corollary to the post-1991 dictum of TINA (There Is No Alternative (to imperialism and liberalism)) is that there is no alternative permitted to this version of a pan-European project.

Because change is impossible the elites’ goal is thus forced ignorance and silence, and when that fails, deflection: “To believe that Europe’s problem was debt. Not the architectural design of the Eurozone. Not its unenforceable rules. But debt. Debt was never Europe’s problem. It was a symptom of an awful institutional design,” wrote Varoufakis.

From 1999 until 2007 it’s said that the Eurozone had a short period of success in redistributing wealth. This is based on the fact that rich Eurozone countries decided to loan to their Eurozone brethren in poorer countries. As is always the case in capitalist countries, and as was seen in previous recessions, and as is evidenced in the history of countless Western Third World client states – once economic troubles hit these loans were called in and could no longer be repaid, creating even more crisis.

Liberalism fully restored for the third time – exact same result: immediate failure

The 2009 European Sovereign Debt Crisis will go down in history as the time when the EU both started working and then immediately started dying. The response to the crisis by Brussels and the newly rammed-through governmental structures made clear that the economic solidarity which would be required of richer nations to make “more Europe” work simply does not exist.

The parallel of its literally-immediate democratic discrediting with France’s 2nd Republic should be striking to all readers of this book, and should remind that Western Liberal Democracy has only produced failure. This is especially true when the outlet of imperialist war is not an option for this structure – France’s 3rd Republic (when Liberalism was re-imposed) took advantage of this option to the maximum, as the 3rd Republic’s imperial empire was one of history’s most expansive.

As the European Sovereign Debt Crisis turned into the Age of Austerity Europe’s richer nations got what they wanted from weaker Eurozone countries – ports, airports, water departments, laws favouring their own industries against local industries, etc. They did this all while claiming that Western Liberal Democracy was so much more just than any ideological competitors!

Pro-capitalist American media may be persuaded by the German accusation of profligate smaller countries, but most of Europe saw the democratic will of nation after nation get strangled until their national politicians surrendered. Around the continent (and the UK) many realised that the EU and Eurozone was sucking the lifeblood of White locals the way White colonialists used to suck the lifeblood of Brown locals. Some understood that the forcing of the governments of Greece, Ireland, Portugal and other weak countries to assume the private debts of French and German banks was simply a repeat of what happened all over the 3rd World since the late 19th century – neo-imperialism was not just for Brown puppets anymore, but White puppets too.

2009 thus became the historical bookend to 1871’s siege of Paris, when the elite of France and Germany colluded to destroy the first flowering of Social Democracy and Socialist Democracy in the Paris Commune. French and German banks were the most leveraged in Greece; are the two biggest funders of the European Central Bank; were the most insistent that promises of borrowers to their bankers are sacrosanct while the promises of national politicians to their voters are not. The victory of the neoliberal and neo-imperial EU empire was thus fully imposed, and – amid the heat – Bismarck and Thiers looked up and smiled.

None of this was missed by the as yet unformed Yellow Vests.

<—>

Upcoming chapter list of the brand-new content in France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. The book will also include previous writings from 2018 through the 2022 election in order to provide the most complete historical record of the Yellow Vests anywhere. What value!

Publication date: July 1, 2022.

Pre-orders of the paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the Kindle version may be made here.

Pre-orders of the French paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the French Kindle version may be made here.

Chapter List of the new content

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV 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 ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

On Trotsky in ‘Leon Trotsky on France’ in order to reclaim Trotsky from Trotskyists

May 02, 2022

Source

by Ramin Mazaheri

Turning to Trotsky to help analyse the Yellow Vests is indispensable not because I am a Trotskyist but because Trotsky is the foremost socialist architect, describer and critic of the actual waging of political revolution.

(This is the seventh chapter in a new book, France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. Please click here for the article which announces this book and explains its goals.)

In October 1917 Trotsky was elected chairman of the Petrograd Soviet, the revolutionary centre of Russia. He directed the organisation of the October Revolution’s uprising against the Provisional Government, which had followed after the monarchy’s toppling in the February Revolution. Trotsky knew what he was talking about, and perhaps more than anyone of his era he could accurately say what a revolutionary group needs to do to actually seize power.

The problem with Trotsky is not Trotskyism. He rejected making his name synonymous with the actual waging of progressive revolution, almost bewilderingly lamenting: “To reaction and its agents ‘Trotskyism’ is the international menace of the socialist revolution.”

The two are not and must not be synonymous. Trotsky would surely berate his 21st century adherents for the primary complaint leftists make against his followers: To modern Trotskyists it’s not “revolution” unless it’s “Trotskyism” and only “Trotskyism”.

The problem with Trotsky is not Trotskyism, it’s Trotskyists.

If Trotskyism used to be synonymous with revolution but it no longer is – which is certainly the case – then who should be blamed more than the followers who take his name? French presidential elections inevitably feature multiple Trotskyist candidates – they even cannot get along with each other, much less other leftists.

Trotsky is different from his modern followers in that he saw conditions in the 1930s as ripe for revolution – even overripe – and he was shocked that others couldn’t see that what he helped effectuate in Russia was actually possible elsewhere, and right then. From November 2018 until June 2019 the Yellow Vests undoubtedly agreed that conditions were – at a minimum – ripe for a major break with the mainstream practices of Western Liberal Democracy, and they were also shocked that French leftists couldn’t see that.

Yellow Vest: “We have to bring France to its knees, because that is all that our governments understand. We will block the entire economy for as long as it takes. The fight against capitalism is heating up around the world, so the Yellow Vests are not the only ones demanding huge changes.”

(Note: this book intersperses over 100 quotations taken from actual, marching Yellow Vests which were originally published in news reports on PressTV.)

A big reason for their absence from the most revolutionary situation in France since 1968 is that today’s Trotskyists are so discredited that they wouldn’t have been welcomed by the Yellow Vests.

Today’s Trotskyists seemingly live in a state where it is perpetually September 1917 – they cannot possibly support the few global nations who have selfishly “jumped the gun” and taken power in their own country without the Trotskyists, and allegedly at the expense of the global revolution. If Trotskyists could realise that monarchy still plays a huge role in the world they would realise that living in a state where it is perpetually January 1917 would be far, far more useful in actually pushing socialism (and not just Trotskyism) forward.

What I will call Trotsky’s definition of a revolutionary country is concise and clear, and any country fulfilling these requirements obviously deserves the fullest support:

“Meanwhile the hypothetical government (Trotsky is referring to a Western Liberal Democratic government which actually stood up to fascism) would give nothing either to the workers or to the petty-bourgeois masses because it would be unable to attack the foundations of private property; and without expropriation of the banks, the great commercial enterprises, the key branches of industry and transport, without a foreign trade monopoly, and without a series of other profound measures, there is no possible way of coming of the aid of the peasant, the artisan, the petty merchant.”

Above is the most basic condition for socialist-inspired revolution on behalf of the people, and yet Trotskyists all over France and the West perpetually condemn any country which has made this critical first step on the road to citizen empowerment. Please note that Iran has not given up the Iranian people’s control over all the “profound measures” listed above. Please also note that today’s French Trotskyist groups usually incorrectly lump small merchants in with CEOs, instead of with the proletariat and farmers, while the Yellow Vests do not make that mistake.

Perhaps the most common word with Trotsky is “expropriation”. Without the expropriation of the private property of the 1% then there is no movement which can make any type of socialism – or the barest amount of Socialist Democracy – possible.

This definition is so useful because it illustrates how the establishment of banking power fits into the economic history of Europe since 1492. With the start of Western Liberal Democracy in 1848 and the establishment of France’s 2nd Republic all wealth joined together to “become bourgeois”: royal landed wealth, commercial & New World colonisation wealth, and industrial & Old World colonisation wealth (such as from Algeria beginning in 1830) had united their political forces in oligarchy. Their economic forces became united in the power of the modern bank. By the 1930s “the banks” of oligarchical Western Liberal Democracy had become first on the list of Trotsky’s opponents of progressive politics, and both the socialists and the fascists came to power by promising to gut their power. Fascists then joined with Western Liberal Democrats after World War II, with many of their key ideas becoming subsumed in Western Liberal Democracy just as the ideas of royalism have been subsumed in Western Liberal Democracy. One of the fascists’ ideas would be encapsulated in the structures of today’s pan-European project, as the coming chapters will illustrate: fascism’s alliance of autocratic political power with corporate/banking power.

Non-socialist readers may be alarmed by Trotsky’s phrase “attack the foundations of private property”, as though they alone had a trade monopoly, a key branch of any industry or a great commercial enterprise. Such persons simply like to fancy themselves budding bourgeois, and thus don’t want a ceiling to limit their all-but-certain rise, as bourgeois culture inculcates them to want to do. Giving the masses control of these key mega-economic entities – and not control over your home and the objects inside, nor your small business – is what modern socialism is, and it’s also what it takes to win stability, control and peace for the masses.

Today’s Trotskyists are not on the front lines, and they don’t support any serious fronts anywhere

Trotsky today would surely demand a redefinition of what “Trotskyism” is because for modern Trotskyists it apparently doesn’t include demanding control of the means of major production or armed anything. Trotskyism in the 21st century has become subsumed by Western Liberal Democracy because they now limit themselves to working within it, not against it.

More than any other aspect of his personal thought these remarks he made in 1935 when talking of France encapsulate what Trotsky was fundamentally all about:

This is why the most immediate of all demands must be for the expropriation of the capitalists and the nationalization (socialization) of the means of production. But is not this demand unrealizable under the rule of the bourgeoisie? Quite so! That is why we must seize power.” (emphasis his)

Any discussion cannot gloss over that point or this one below, which today’s Trotskyists certainly ignore, seeing as how they reject any country which has actually enacted socialist-inspired revolution and nationalisations, such as China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, etc.:

“How can one come to soviet (workers’ committees) power without an armed insurrection? How can one come to an insurrection without arming the workers? How can one defend oneself against fascism without arms? How can we achieve armament, even partial, without propaganda for this slogan?”

Trotskyist propaganda today is totally devoid of such propaganda, and this is even though Trotsky’s writing is full of denigration for peaceniks who refuse to fight for their rights. Such militarism is, of course, very different from a militarism which clamours for invasion:

The more successful the anti-militarist agitation becomes, the more rapid will be the growth of the fascist danger. Such is the actual and not fanciful dialectic of the struggle.” (emphasis his)

By the 1960s the Western left had adopted anti-militarism as an almost iron law. Such history-ignoring nonsense translated into political nonsense which ultimately amounted to: reformism of the status quo at a snail’s pace and with the ephemeral quality of a flower’s existence. Western “Flower Power” didn’t change the social pyramid, and Trotsky would not have been surprised at the political impotence of switching away from anti-militarist agitation while trying to win socialist-inspired changes.

A fundamental question which must be posed is: Why did Trotskyists never come out in favor of arming the Yellow Vests for their own self-defense? Every one knows they were getting attacked every Saturday by police. If today’s Trotskyists are merely content to be tiny, ineffectual parties within Western Liberal Democracies, can’t they at least promote a defensive militarism to defend the mere rights of Liberalism, such as freedom of assembly? Surely this would be the bare minimum Trotsky would have promoted as regards to the Yellow Vests.

This is a question which requires far more reflection because it strikes at the hypocritical heart of Western Liberal Democracy, which is truly more accurately called “Western Liberal Autocracy”. The Yellow Vests show how the West refuses to accept even the barest Liberal Democratic rights of 1789, and in addition to rejecting all the egalitarian measure promoted by Socialist Democracy. It will be discussed in the chapter What the Yellow Vests can be: a force which can protect Liberalism’s rights, at least.

A perfect time for France’s Trotskyists to provide defensive assistance was during the Yellow Vests attempted establishment of a permanent camp near the Eiffel Tower in March 2019. Of course, they also needed defensive help every Saturday for months, as well.

The primary propaganda organ of Trotskyism – the World Socialist Web Site – never made such calls to action even though they are based in the United States and thus out of the reach of French intimidation and repression! The WSWS did correctly stress the need of the Yellow Vests to remain apart from the totally-discredited political establishment, such as parties and unions, (though this point was already non-negotiable to the Yellow Vests) but only to finally insist that they needed to be led by the political perspective of a Trotskyist vanguard provided by the International Committee of the Fourth International. Reject everyone else but me – it’s typical modern Trotskyism.

Trotsky would have disavowed his namesakes for failing to seize the once-in-century moment provided by the Yellow Vests, and this is proven by his own writings.

For example, in 1936 Trotsky appeared to be apoplectic with France’s leftists: 1.5 million out of 10 million French people voted communist and – to a guy who made a revolution with much less – that should have been enough to make a revolution in France.

“When one and a half million voters cast their ballots for the Communists, the majority of them mean to say thereby: ‘We want you to do the same thing in France that the Russian Bolsheviks did in their country in October 1917.’”

In the West the Yellow Vests are the first popular political force operating on essentially socialist-inspired ideas since 1936. They are the first political force willing to operate under repressive and hotly-debated conditions since 1936. They are the first French progressive political force to have even more popular support than the combined leftists did in 1936: polls showed the Yellow Vests as having 75% approval rating and always – even after so much propaganda and repression – as having a majority approval rating in a country where such popularity is considered unachievable.

In 1936 Trotsky dismissed the vote results for not only the Radicals (it’s a misleading name – they were “Reformists” of Western Liberal Democracy) but the further left Socialists as well: he didn’t care about their score because they were not a working class party in composition or policy like the Communists were. The Yellow Vests are working class in composition and policy, but where were/are the Trotskyists? The Yellow Vests’ fault was not being openly Trotskyist, obviously.

Trotsky would diagnose the problem today as one of poor leadership, which was his most common refrain. However, the worst leadership among Western leftists is among the Trotskyists because they clearly do not even champion the essentials of Trotskyist thought.

Yellow Vest: “So many of these types have been bought off by Macron and are happy to stay in his pocket. Pensioners, the jobless and public workers have been marching for seven months and our so-called intellectuals spit on us! We are getting beaten and gassed, and they criticise us!”

In 2022 I believe Trotsky would have backed countries like Iran because of to whom he pointed his vast criticism when discussing France: the proponents of Western Liberal Democratic measures, and those who seek appeasement via measures which fall short of expropriation. From the multiple French Trotskyist parties to the US-based WSWS they spent more time boosting their own parties than the Yellow Vests, which is to say that they are totally committed to working within the framework of Western Liberal Democracy.

Western Trotskyists are not revolutionary – they are waiting for that laughable “hypothetical government” which Trotsky himself noted would fail even if ever installed, and he was proven right by the failure of France’s 1936 Popular Front, as the previous chapter discussed. Marxist-inspired analysis of history make it clear that the Western Liberal Democratic framework will never create permanent programs which guarantee a permanent redistribution of political power and wealth which aims at boosting the lower and middle classes – not in wartime, pandemic-time or any other hypothetical time.

The absurd contradictions and hypocrisies of the modern Trotskyist movement pale so enormously when held up with the actual achievements of Stalinist-inspired (i.e. USSR-inspired) movements which Trotsky famously rejected.

We should not blame heroic and committed Leon!

We should wrest him away from today’s declared Trotskyists, as they refuse to actually put into practice his ideas while claiming his mantle, and we should redefine Trotskyism to describe more accurately what his necessary contributions were to leftism.

Trotskyism: A line of socialist thought which emphasised the need of a politically-advanced vanguard party to encourage taking power, while always remaining in dialogue with the masses, by force from Western Liberal Democracy in order to expropriate their political power and economic wealth for the benefit of the masses.

The above definition retains Trotsky’s beloved notion of a vanguard party, but it can clearly include Cuba, China, Iran, Hezbollah and others – this is how Trotsky can be wrested from Trotskyists. Trotsky didn’t want his name becoming synonymous with socialist revolution, but he sure wouldn’t want it affiliated with today’s totally unTrotskyist Trotskyists!

As with Napoleon Bonaparte, the well-being and understanding which socialist analysis has to offer insists on the political rehabilitation of a person whose adherents have distorted and disgraced him. The revolution does not have to eat its young, as counter-revolutionaries insist. By first fully dispatching the oldest enemy of Socialist Democracy – the autocratic oligarchy embodied by monarchy, whose ideals have been subsumed by Western Liberal Democracy – we will first clear the way to end arrogant imperialism and elitism, and indispensable first step towards demanding socialism at home.

But we should wrest Trotsky not just from the adulation which he himself opposed but also from Trotsky himself. Consider the perspective of W.E.B. Dubois, certainly the greatest African-American political writer of his era and maybe ever:

“He (Stalin) early saw through the flamboyance and exhibitionism of Trotsky, who fooled the world, and especially America. The whole ill-bred and insulting attitude of Liberals in the U.S. today began with our naive acceptance of Trotsky’s magnificent lying propaganda, which he carried around the world. Against it, Stalin stood like a rock and moved neither right nor left, as he continued to advance toward a real socialism instead of the sham Trotsky offered.”

Trotsky believed that Stalin had no sincere care for the working class, only for the “bureaucracy” – that’s false. The Trotskyist blame towards Stalinism for abandoning the Western workers/leftism totally ignores his and the USSR’s decades of leftist agitation, as the previous chapter detailed. The blame goes towards the forces of just-ended autocracy and the oligarchy of Western Liberal Democracy, not fellow communists and socialists.

In his consternation that others were not as ardently revolutionary Trotsky rejected the comparatively minor intra-socialist compromises which allowed for a continuing “advance towards a real socialism”, even if only in one country at a time. Trotsky’s war on the USSR – on “Stalinism” – is often viewed as a betrayal of the socialist movement, and today’s Trotskyists make this same mistake as regards to China, Iran, Venezuela and – if they progressed further – probably the Yellow Vests, too.

What socialism cannot lose from Trotsky is the idea that armed revolution is the only path to an actual revolution in the aristocratic elite’s property holdings – what it can lose is “flamboyance”, “exhibitionism”, acting as though one is “ill-bred” and being “insulting”. Trotskyism seduced the individualist West in large part because both over-rely on the individual singularity of a vanguard party. There is an anti-democracy inherent in Trotsky’s most constant complaint – the poor leadership of the leftist movement – as though if only Trotsky were still in charge, then all of Europe would be socialist today. The disregard of Trotsky’s primary ideas has led to a situation where the far-left on the Western political spectrum has comported itself with the faux-noble airs of the far-right, i.e. aristocrats, which Trotsky himself was accused of.

I have presented a balanced view of Leon Trotsky here because a history of leftist movements is not possible without Trotsky, but a leftist history where Marx, Engels and Trotsky are the only leftists is an ineffectual and distorting absurdity. A history where Napoleon Bonaparte is not a leftist, where the 1848 Revolutions were not the Counter-Revolutions of 1848, where the rise of fascism is both socialism’s fault and yet has nothing to do with socialism, where the Yellow Vests are not French leftism reborn, etc., are ineffectual and distorting absurdities.

Both those extreme views are dangerous because the parallels between France today and the 1930s is of vital importance, and thus recalling Trotsky’s assessments of France provides us with the wealth of parallels which are necessary to make in order to show how the problems of Western Liberal Democracy today are unchanged since 90 years ago, just as re-reading Marx reminds us the problems are unchanged since 170 years ago.

Trotsky’s failure to see Western Liberal Democracy as unable to subsume the ideals of fascism

Trotsky has so much right – above all, his refusal to concede anything to Western Liberal Democracy – but let’s focus on the few things he got quite wrong.

Trotsky’s writings unmistakably reveal that he really thought Western Liberal Democracy/parliamentarianism/free marketism was truly dead. To Trotsky the only fight remaining was against fascism. It’s a mistake many leftists have made since 1850 – incorrectly assuming that Western Liberal Democracy is dead.

Apparently Trotsky thought fascism really was a “third way” – it was neither autocratic Western Liberal Democracy nor Socialist Democracy – but in the 1930s no non-Westerner would agree that jingoism, racism, authoritarianism and the myriad petty dictatorships of their leader class is something which only came to the fore in the West during their fascist era of the 1930s? Of course, they had been experiencing it in their own colonised countries! To non-Westerners the oligarchy of monarchism, Western Liberal Democracy and fascism is distinguished only in style and not function.

The lack of emphasis on the socio-cultural effects of industrial-era imperialism caused Trotsky to underestimate the jingoism, racism, social and economic regimentation, oppression of dissent and “dictatorship of the leader class” (i.e. the five features of the commonly-accepted definition of fascism) in Western Liberal Democracy, and to falsely assume these were only attributes of fascism.

Another problem may have been that socialists in the 1930s were aghast that fascists were using Marxist tools to accurately critique Western Liberal Democracy – this unneeded concern was discussed in the previous chapter. Today we see that socialists should have been lumping fascism and Western liberal democracy in the same boat, and some did. Stalin correctly said that fascism and Social Democracy (i.e. reformists of Western Liberal Democracy) were twins, and we are now correct to say that fascism, Social Democracy and Western Liberal Democracy are triplets.

It’s no facile exaggeration – all three of these political schools of thought clearly united themselves after World War II against Socialist Democracy. The squabble between fascism and Western Liberal Democracy was even more short lived than the squabble between the houses of Bourbon and Orleans! All the rich factions of 1848 France famously “became bourgeois”, per Marx, to unite in the new “Party of Order”, just as fascism and liberalism unites in contemporary Western Liberal Democracy.

Western Liberal Democracy survives because of its ability to unite in adapting its right-wing solutions – its brutal version of class warfare – and in contrast with the left’s inability to unite while operating out Western Liberal Democrats. They are much more effective at class warfare in large part because they have so many fewer people to organise/collude.

What Western Liberal Democracy took from fascism is that economic planning must be limited to the military, its obsession with security and its emphasis on xenophobia in order to distract from open discussion of its obvious pro-aristocratic class warfare. The two ideologies already agreed on anti-socialism, competition (one largely fixed at the beginning) and elitism, which are also three long-time beliefs of autocracy and oligarchy. The only real squabble was between choosing a cosmopolitan globalist elite, dominated by new money, or a sovereign national elite, dominated by old money.

Proof that Trotsky didn’t understand the existing similarities between Western Liberal Democracy and fascism is encapsulated in his complaint about Stalinist/Comintern communism in 1936. I think every reader will be shocked at either his naiveté or his impossible demands upon the USSR: “If the Soviet trade unions had given a timely example by boycotting Italy (for invading Ethiopia), the movement would, like a prairie fire, have inevitably embraced all of Europe and the whole world, and at once become menacing to the imperialists of all countries.”

The entire world was going to get set alight over Ethiopia, really?

Again, we cannot blame Leon: he is truly personally alight over the invasion of Ethiopia. But Trotsky is a progressive humanitarian and politically-active person – nobody else really cared about Ethiopia. Today neither Palestine, nor chemical weapons used against Iranians in the 1980s, nor the starvation of Yemen, nor any other blatant Western imperialist violence is setting the world alight. As the incredibly hypocritical double-standards regrading the 2022 refugees from Ukraine proves – the West only cares about White people, and even then only when either useful or of the proper class.

From 1789 to 2022 non-Europeans see the same racism, deadly abuse of power and privilege, haughty disregard and disinterest, and closed opportunities in both Western Liberal Democracy and fascism. Trotsky goes on to complain, as usual, that this is a proof of failure in revolutionary leadership – but the leaders are not the problem but the people: the good people of the West have been governed by Western Liberal Democracy for too long, and thus by it’s false, elitist, over-competitive and bigoted precepts.

Trotsky also failed to foresee the monarchical-like expansion of the 21st century Western executive branch (initially justified, as in 1830, by a need to dominate Muslims), which makes it even more similar to authoritarian fascism.

It was perhaps myopia – being too deeply within Western culture and too unexposed to the non-Western viewpoints of the colonised. A Third Worlder didn’t feel any real change in policy before, during or after the Western fascist era – the violence is less brutal in its cultural presentation, but the violence is still brutal. A Syrian heard about the victory over fascism in Europe on May 8,1945, but he certainly more deeply felt the shells which Charles de Gaulle dropped on him on May 29, in order to forestall any independence (freedom) movements. The French waged the Sétif and Guelma massacres in Algeria on V-E Day (Victory in Europe Day – May 8, 1945), and aided by the American army. How is this morally superior to Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia?

“Is it not too late? No, everything shows that it is not too late. In France there is no powerful fascist party. Indeed, in France there will not be an organisation as large as Hitler’s party even before the conquest of power: it is against the traditions and customs of the country.” That was not a Western Liberal Democrat talking about the West’s superior values – that was Trotsky in 1935, and he would quite soon be wrong about half the country, i.e. Vichy France.

Trotsky was especially wrong in the first part – how can a country occupying Algeria (making it “France”) not have a powerful fascist party? Is it not “fascism” because it’s happening to non-Europeans? He was also wrong in the second part: there is no fascist party in France, the UK and the US because their Western Liberal Democracies were already quite fascistic. The idea that their traditions are anti-fascist is nonsense to those they were currently colonising.

That quote is not Trotsky being racist, because of course he was not, but merely of Trotsky both succumbing to European ethnocentrism and to not realising that France’s traditions and customs were also filled with elitist, racist autocracy. The French Revolution was overthrown by European monarchs, Leon!

Trotsky was quite disproven, and almost a century later our goal is to explain why: He did not realise that France’s impressive but relatively minor experiences with social revolution have been drastically outweighed by the fascism inherent in the “traditions and customs” of monarchy and, after 1848, Western Liberal Democracy.

As coming chapters will demonstrate, the rights and redistributions won by the Western masses in the postwar period (1945-1975) have been under constant attack in the third restoration of Liberalism (1975-today) and thus serve as an exceptional era in the anti-worker history of Western liberal Democracy.

The idea that there has been neither revolution nor fascism is the trick of Western Liberal Democracy, which openly allied with fascism’s supporters against socialism immediately upon the cessation of WWII hostilities in order to fight Socialist Democracy around the world. It was absurd – Jim Crow-era United States assumed leadership of the “free world” while also being an Apartheid state – but imperialist Western Liberal Democracy controls the means, therefore they have the tools to employ and pay for the massive propaganda to uphold this idea.

How can Trotsky’s great leaders lead a leaderless movement?

What’s certain is that Trotsky would be somewhat at a loss with what to do with the leaderless Yellow Vests because he did not live in a leaderless time.

The Yellow Vests insist that they could not have sprouted successfully if they had acclaimed a leader precisely because all of France’s leadership (Trotskyists included) are so discredited. However, this did not preclude France’s Trotskyist parties nor the Trotskyist partisans in their several other prominent leftist parties from humbly, patiently and methodically forming a bond with the Yellow Vests. The problem is entirely in the domineering attitude of today’s Trotskyists.

Trotsky would have likely said this, and I am forced to agree: The Yellow Vests are a “pre-revolutionary movement” which will be routed.

They were definitely routed every Saturday, and they were a revolutionary movement in ideal, but they have not yet progressed to the actual waging of revolution, nor have they fully grasped that only a revolution away from Western Liberal Democracy can ever allow them to achieve their core demands.

The Yellow Vests are thus a harbinger of coming revolution, we can safely predict.

What the Yellow Vests are doing is creating political enlightenment at every rural roundabout, urban march and Facebook page, and Western Trotskyists must either get on board or declare that they are not in favor of Socialist Democracy but Western Liberal Democracy. If they continue to work more with Western Liberal Democracy than with the Yellow Vests then they are not Trotskyist, who wrote, and the emphasis is his: There can be no greater crime than coalition with the bourgeoisie in a period of socialist revolution,” and this is what they done so far during the Yellow Vest era.

Because they live in a leaderless times the Yellow Vests are the ones introducing clarity into the political consciousness of the struggling masses – I believe Trotsky would have called them the vanguard party of France today, and not France’s Communist or Trotskyist parties.

If the Vesters lack one thing it’s in fully knowing that, “Without a complete overturn in property relations – without concentration of the waning system, the basic branches of industry, and foreign trade in the hands of the state – there is no salvation for the petty bourgeoisie of the city and country.” There is no salvation because, again, the era of 1945-75 appears as a short anomaly compared the modern eras of 1848-1944 and 1976-2022 – the short era of Social Democracy in Europe was easily overturned.

The USSR, China and Iran overturned property relations, but this overturning is actually not among the Vesters’ demands, which were first made public in December 2018. Of course, many Yellow Vests knew that nationalisation is the only way, even if only instinctually.

Yellow Vest: “How Macron has handled these privatisations reveals exactly what we have been denouncing since the start. How can Macron sell off our national inheritance without even consulting the opinion of the people? This is exactly why we are demanding regular citizen referendums. Why are we selling something like the airport of Paris now, when it will certainly be worth much more in the years to come, and especially if we invest some money into it? Despite what the government is saying, we are losing money with this sale, and with other privatisations.”

In their bones and in their deeds the heroic Yellow Vests are revolutionary – it’s the fault of other Western leftists to not have joined them, and to have feared joining them starting after the incredible police brutality and intimidation on May Day 2019.

The Yellow Vests suffer from a similar defect as Trotsky did: without a disciplined bureaucracy there is no way to institute the practical demands of the revolutionary masses. Trotskyism refused to support just such a bureaucracy in the USSR, and for that people like DuBois admired Stalin, the USSR and “real socialism instead of the sham Trotsky offered” – the “sham” being revolution without a bureaucracy to install or preserve it.

Trotsky and his scourge of bureaucratism is similar to the Yellow Vests insistence on being a leaderless movement which also makes a boogeyman of establishing a formal bureaucracy. The fault in both is that they think everyone is as politically advanced and committed as they are when they are not – they are vanguards.

Make no mistake, the Yellow Vest movement was ultimately not checked by poor leadership or a disdain for disciplined bureaucracy but by total war against it. Had this war been waged by a President Marine Le Pen it would have been called “fascist”, but because it was waged by a President Emmanuel Macron it was whitewashed. This absurdity can be easily recognised by seeing that Western Liberal Democracy is fascism, has allied with fascists for nearly a century, has subsumed key tenets of fascism into contemporary liberal democracy – is fascism.

Trotsky really thought “imperialist democracy” and “parliamentary democracy” was totally discredited and smashed for good in 1939 – it was not.

It is ultimately most accurate to say that Trotsky correctly saw, but did not correctly describe, that Western Liberal Democracy and fascism were interchangeable and needed to be discredited and smashed for good – why don’t you see this?

<—>

Upcoming chapter list of the brand-new content in France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. The book will also include previous writings from 2018 through the 2022 election in order to provide the most complete historical record of the Yellow Vests anywhere. What value!

Publication date: July 1, 2022.

Pre-orders of the paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the Kindle version may be made here.

Pre-orders of the French paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the French Kindle version may be made here.

Chapter List of the new content

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV 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 ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

Aux armes, citoyens: dissecting the stage-managed French elections

April 27, 2022

Macron’s second presidency was as calculatingly managed by France’s liberal elite as his first. As the country’s economic and geographic schisms widen further, yesterday’s Yellow Vest protests will seem like a tea party by comparison.

Emmanuel Macron now has a second term, courtesy of France’s urban elites. But the magnitude of the problems he faces, both domestic and external, will ensure indefinite strife in the country. Photo Credit: The Cradle

Macron’s second presidency was as calculatingly managed by France’s liberal elite as his first. As the country’s economic and geographic schisms widen further, yesterday’s Yellow Vest protests will seem like a tea party by comparison.

The Cradle

By Pepe Escobar,  

In the end, it happened exactly like the French establishment designed it. I called it last December in a column here at The Cradle.

These are the essentials: Certified Arabophobe Eric Zemmour, who is of Algerian origin, was manufactured by key establishment players of the Institut Montaigne variety to cut off the populist right-wing candidacy of Marine Le Pen. In the end, Zemmour’s electoral performance was dismal, as expected. Yet another candidate pulled off a miracle intervention and was even more useful: ambitious egomaniac opportunist and so-called progressive Jean-Luc Melenchon.

‘Le Petit Roi’ Emmanuel Macron generates less than zero empathy across France. That explains the huge voter abstention of 28 percent in the second round of votes.

The numbers tell the story: There are 48,803,175 French citizens registered to vote. Macron got 18,779,809 votes. Marine Le Pen got 13,297,728 votes. Yet the most eyebrow-raising performance was by the Abstention/Nullified/Blank candidate: 16,674,963 votes.

So the president of France was re-elected by 38.5 percent of voters while the real second place, Absention/Nullified/Blank got 34.2 percent.

That implies that roughly 42 percent of registered French voters bothered to hit the polls basically to bar Le Pen: a brand that remains toxic in vast swathes of urban France – yet hardly as much as before – and even with the whole weight of oligarchic mainstream media engaged in Two Minute Hate campaign mode. The five oligarchies who run the so-called ‘audiovisual landscape’ (PAF, according to the French acronym) of campaign messaging are all Macronists.

Madam Guillotine meets the working classes

Who, in fact, is this illusionist Petit Roi that qualifies at best as a messenger of transnational plutocracy?

From the bowels of the system, arguably the sharpest verdict comes from Mathieu Pigasse, informally referred to in Paris as “the punk banker” because of his infatuation with the British punk-rock band The Clash.

When Macron was a mergers & acquisitions banker at Rothschild & Company, Pigasse was working for the opposition, Lazard Freres. It was Macron who convinced Nestlé’s interests to be handled by Rothschild, while Pigasse was representing Danone.

Pigasse also happens to be one of the major shareholders of Le Monde – which used to be a great newspaper up to the 1980s and now is a shallow carbon copy of the New York Times. Le Monde is Macronist to the core.

Pigasse defines Macron as “the purest product of French elitism, in terms of the Parisian microcosm.” Although Macron is a provinciale from Amiens, he perfectly fit into the Parisian beau monde, which is in itself a quite rarefied, and yes, equally provincial universe, like a village where everyone ‘that matters’ knows everyone.

Pigasse also identifies the establishment characters who invented Macron and placed him at the top of the pyramid – ranging from avowed eugenicist Jacques Attali to Serge Weinberg (ex-CEO of Sanofi), Francois Roussely (ex-president of EDF) and Jean-Pierre Jouyet, a former minister under disgraced former President Nicolas Sarkozy and then number two at the Elysée Palace under the supremely incompetent Francois Hollande.

Attali, incidentally, describes Macronism as a “pro-European modernization, engaged, liberal and optimist. That corresponds to a center-right of modern France” – and then Attali himself gives away the game – “which is not necessarily the whole of France.”

“Not necessarily the whole of France” in fact means the majority of France, if one bothers to leave a few tony Paris arrondissements to talk to people in Pas-de-Calais, Bourgogne or the Var. This ‘real’ France identifies the “social market economy” extolled by Attali and promoted by Macron as a gigantic fake.

It would be too easy to paint the current national divide between, on one side, the elderly and the very young carrying a diploma, living in comfort; and on the other side, the 25 to 60 year olds, without higher education and barely making ends meet. That is, the working class masses.

It is more nuanced than that. Still, the two most important factors in this election are that close to one third of voters didn’t even bother to show up – or nullified their vote (even here in Paris). And that the gullible Melenchon horde handed it over to Le Petit Roi, assuming their leader will become a de facto ‘prime minister.’

The working classes will be literally exterminated throughout another five years of hardcore neoliberalism. France’s until recently stellar social welfare system will be decimated. Retirement age will be extended to 65 years old. Smaller pensions will be barely enough to live on. The super-wealthy will pay much lower taxes while the common worker will pay much higher ones. Education and healthcare will be privatized.

France will merrily catch up with the fast decaying casino capitalism of the US and UK. And don’t forget further travel restrictions and food and fuel shortages.

Islamophobia will not dissolve into a mellow woke rainbow. On the contrary: it will be instrumentalized as the perfect scapegoat for serial Macronist incompetence and corruption.

Meanwhile, in Azovstal…

If we add the spectacular performance of the Absention/Nullifed/Blank candidate plus people who didn’t even bother to vote, we have something like a silent majority of 30 million people who instinctively feels the whole system is rigged.

The winners, of course, are the usual suspects: the BlackRock/McKinsey/Great Reset/weapons industry/EuroNazicrat axis. McKinsey virtually run French government policy – bordering on fiscal fraud – a scandal corporate media did everything to bury. For his part, Blackrock CEO Larry Fink, a very close ‘consultant’ of the Elysee Palace, must have popped a few extra bottles of Krug.

And then, there’s France as Great Power. Leader of great swathes of Africa (fresh from receiving a punch in the teeth from Mali); Leader of West Asia (ask the Syrians and Lebanese about it); Leader of the Great Resetting EU; And deeply embedded in the NATO war machine.

Which bring us to the top invisible story before this election, totally buried by corporate media. Yet Turkish intelligence picked it up. The Russians, for their part, have kept themselves deliciously mute, in their trademark ‘strategic ambiguity’ mode.

Denis Pushilin, the head of Donetsk People’s Republic, confirmed once again early this week there are roughly 400 foreign ‘instructors’ cum mercenaries – from NATO – huddling in the bowels of the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, with no way out.

Turkish intel maintains that 50 of them are French, some of them high-ranking. That explains what has been established by several Russian sources – but not acknowledged at all by Paris: Macron has placed a flurry of frantic phone calls to Putin to set up a “humanitarian corridor” to extricate his valuable assets.

The measured Russian response has been – once again – trademark geopolitical judo. No “humanitarian corridor” for anyone in Azovstal, be it Azov neo-Nazis or their foreign NATO handlers, and no bombing them to oblivion. Let them starve – and in the end they will be forced to surrender.

Enter the still unconfirmed yet plausible Macron directive: no surrender by any means.  Because surrendering means giving Moscow on a silver plate a series of confessions and all the facts of an illegal, secret operation conducted by the ‘leader of Europe’ on behalf of neo-Nazis.

All bets are off when – and if – the full story breaks out in France. It might as well happen during the upcoming war crimes tribunal to be set up most probably in Donetsk.

Aux armes, citoyens? Well, they have five years down the road to hit the barricades. It may happen sooner than we think.

Where the West is stuck: The fascism of the 1930s and the ‘fascism’ of the 2020s

April 23, 2022

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Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV 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 ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

by Ramin Mazaheri

Starting in 1917 the same reactionary European nations which attacked in the 7 European Wars Against the French Revolution now transferred this same refusal to make peace with the Soviet Union. The problem has always been an idea – anti-autocracy, the idea from which Socialist Democracy flows (and the Yellow Vests) – not a particular nation.

(This is the seventh chapter in a new book, France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. Please click here for the article which announces this book and explains its goals.)

There is a clear moment when France definitively handed over its longtime leadership of European progressive politics. It is not 1914, when, unlike the Soviet Bolsheviks, French socialists went along with World War I: it is the creation of the Popular Front (Front Populaire) following the death of 15 people in a right-wing riot in 1934. The idea that committed socialists must be united with everyone from fake-leftists to right-wingers in order to fight fascism proved to be a total catastrophe.

Yet this idea remains the policy of Western leftism today, and it is still producing catastrophes.

The European lesson of the 1930s is that the working and middle class handed power to the socialists and communists – who immediately gave power back to the bourgeois!

Ever since the Brexit vote against the neoliberal and neo-imperial European Union Western democracies are perpetually stuck in 1936: constantly warning of “fascism” and constantly producing failures as bad as the original Popular Front in France.

However, because there is a total misunderstanding of what “fascism” is it is critical for us to end the Western propaganda on the rise of Germanic National Socialism in order to properly understand European history then and now. It is “Germanic” and not just “German” because their adherents were from Austria, Hungary, Prussia and other longtime German language/culture areas.

Germanic National Socialism had something vital in common with socialism: a clear rejection of Western Liberal Democracy, which was first installed in France’s 2nd Republic of 1848. Without elucidating the common thread of post 1789 political history — that Western Liberal Democracy is an oligarchy which has been barely modified from autocracy – European history makes no sense in 1936 or after. We may as well say Napoleon Bonaparte wasn’t a leftist revolutionary!

We move from the Paris Commune to 1936 because what occurred in 1936 was extremely similar: In February 1936 the electoral victory of a Popular Front coalition in Spain led to a legal take-over by socialists and anti-monarchists, only to see an international coalition of reactionaries arise to prop up the dictator General Francisco Franco and to foment civil and international war.

The Popular Front in France actually created the disastrous policy of “nonintervention” – the French left created it order to not intervene in the neighbouring Spanish Civil War. Nearly all of Europe signed up to diplomatically isolate and economically blockade the Spanish Republic. Indeed, Western Liberal Democracy wants to talk honestly about the Spanish Civil War as much as they want to they want to talk honestly the Paris Commune, 1848 or the 7 European Wars Against the French Revolution.

In May 1936 what would become the final elections of the French 3rd Republic were held. Amid the Great Depression the centre-left and left finally won control of the government, with 60% of the vote, and via campaigns expressly against the unprecedented power of the historically-new banking oligarchy. In July the Spanish Civil War began, and despite massive French support for the Republican leftists France’s allegedly left-wing government colluded with the British on the policy of non-intervention. Viewed from the new center of progressive politics – Moscow – the Popular Front’s non-intervention confirmed to the USSR that Western Europe was never going to have a socialist revolution; that such an idea had been a fool’s errand for over three decades; that Western Europe was going to side with fascism and go over to it, as Vichy France soon would. The USSR and Mexico would be the only nations to provide armed support to the Spanish Republic.

The Popular Front and Leon Blum, the first Socialist to be Prime Minister in France, would do a U-turn on the promised domestic reforms he was elected to implement. This is exactly what the Socialists François Mitterrand and François Hollande would do in 1983 and 2012, respectively. 1936 marks the point when Western leftists indisputably proved that they have abandoned Socialist Democracy in favor of Western Liberal Democracy – a fundamentally right-wing ideology rooted in monarchism, autocracy and oligarchy – and are thus right-wingers on the global political spectrum.

In April 1938 France’s Popular Front collapsed after failure in almost every sense. Its colossal disappointment after such huge progressive excitement caused massive disillusionment and directly led to the establishment of fascism in France two years later. The Popular Front provided the death knell for Western Liberal Democracy. Rather it should have, but by 1946 fascists, royalists and Western Liberal Democrats would – to steal a phrase from Marx regarding a similar melding for all classes of wealth in the 19th century – “become bourgeois”, i.e. all meld into one in order to stop Socialist Democracy.

This is where the West remains today.

They are totally against Socialist Democracy at home and abroad, and claiming Popular Fronts are needed to elect fake-leftist candidates who inevitably prove to be tools of long-running oligarchies.

In September 1938, now led by the Reformists (this is the most accurate term for the very misleadingly named “Radical Party” of France), the Munich Pact saw France stab the USSR in the back on the Franco-USSR pact of 1935, which stipulated joint military action against German belligerence. The Munich Betrayal, as it’s also known, saw France and the United Kingdom collude with fascist Germany and Italy to hand a huge chunk of Czechoslovakia to Hitler. Instead of combatting Germany’s war on Czechoslovakia the Popular Front preferred “appeasement” with fascism.

The collusion would continue: France and the UK recognised Franco in February 1939, even though he held just two-thirds of the country and not Madrid. (The army Franco originally led to start the war was the Spanish Army of Africa, based in Morocco. Much like France with Algeria in 1848, we see the pernicious domestic political effects of Europe’s Old World imperialism once again.)

Because we have located the start of neoliberalism and European neo-imperialism with the Paris Commune we see how these collusions make sense: these are Western Liberal Democratic countries, thus run by an oligarchical elite, thus opposed to any socialist-inspired country. They will always wage war against socialistic ideas which oppose oligarchical Western liberalism which, thanks to the domination of the banker class by the start of the 20th century, is more “globalist” than inter-marrying monarchs ever were. Popular Fronts are inevitably proven to be useless – they are mere safety valves for genuine leftism.

By June 1939 national polls showed that 84% of Britain favored an Anglo-French-Soviet military alliance – Britain’s Western Liberal Democratic politicians had no choice but to give the appearance of an effort. After six weeks of negotiations it became clear to Moscow that Britain’s appallingly minor representations were not interested in any sort of alliance with Socialist Democracy.

Only two days after they left a German delegation arrived in Moscow and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (a non-aggression pact and not any sort of alliance) was concluded precisely because the USSR saw that Western Liberal Democracies would never allow peaceful relations with socialist-inspired systems. Just as the revolutionary Napoleon Bonaparte wasted time in a burnt-down Moscow trying to make peace with an autocrat who never wanted it, so the USSR wasted time trying to make peace with autocrats and oligarchs.

Yellow Vest: “What I want for Christmas is for the Yellow Vests to join France’s social movements to stop Macron’s neoliberalism. But it would be even better if the whole world would become Yellow Vests to stop the ravages of high finance and globalisation.”

(Note: this book intersperses over 100 quotations taken from actual, marching Yellow Vests which were originally published in news reports on PressTV.)

Western leftists (mostly Trotskyists) howled that the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was a betrayal of leftist ideals. That’s a stunningly opportunistic and hollow claim, considering just how much France’s Popular Front and Western Liberal Democracies failed to defend Spain, and also how Western nations refused make peace with Moscow. Moscow had waited for 19 years for any other European country to turn socialist, but European progressive political thought was spent in Western Europe after 150 years.

Thus the USSR had given up, as it was clearly the eve of war. The Stalinists would certainly be proven right that fascism would sweep Germany, Austria, Spain and France – history clearly exonerates them, and indicts Western Liberal Democracy.

The USSR made a non-aggression pact with Germanic socialism because at the time so many assumed that fascism was going to fully replace totally discredited Western Liberal Democracies. That may seem hard to believe today, but the idea that Western Liberal Democracy was totally dead was a fundamental assumption of leftists, such as Trotsky.

It’s vital to understand this proper timeline of European history leading up to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact because it is entirely in keeping with the overarching theme of European history since 1789: collusion by oligarchical elites to rule in autocratic fashion, and in order to suppress Socialist Democratic ideas.

Of course Western Liberal Democracy has always tried to obscure this history, and they still do: a resolution adopted by the European Union in 2019 stated that the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact “paved the way for the outbreak of World War II”, in a shameful rewriting of history. I don’t expect the EU to pass resolutions for the 7 European Wars Against the French Revolution, the failed Revolutions of 1848 or the Paris Commune anytime soon….

The West’s elite is fighting for Western Liberal Democracy, and thus they do not permit honest discussion and honest critiques of Western Liberal DemocracyThis explains why there is no admission regarding the historical reality that Nazism and 1930s European fascism won power precisely because so many people grasped that Western Liberal Democracy was nothing but awful oligarchy.

Denying this historical reality is why Western politics has stopped making sense to the average Westerner: They simply cannot understand what fascism was, what it is, or how it arose – it arose via fascism’s successful, popular condemnation of Western Liberal Democracy.

The problem is that socialists don’t stress this point enough, in their nonsensical fear of being seen as colluding with fascism.

Knowing what ‘fascism’ truly is, and why socialists shouldn’t disavow it completely

Just as monarchy and feudalism was totally discredited to the average European by 1848, so Western Liberal Democracy and “debt feudalism/Bankocracy” was totally discredited by 1939.

This successful condemnation is why it’s simply inaccurate and absurd to say things like the “Nazis had no socialism”. To do so is tremendously counterproductive and simply false. Mussolini was the editor of Avanti!, the official voice of the Italian Socialist Party, and was once a leading Italian socialist. Socialists do not want to admit these things, but the failure caused by not explaining fascism’s relationship with socialism is that we cannot understand Western political history if we relinquish the incredibly necessary democratic criticism of Western Liberal Democracy and “Capitalism With Western Characteristics” as evidenced by fascism’s rise.

Hitler, reader of Marx, summed it up the initial similarities himself in 1922: Without his alleged “essential principle” – race – Nazism “would really do nothing more than compete with Marxism on its own ground”.

However, instead of dispossessing a noble class via class politics he dispossessed races to creat a new noble class… and that is not really socialism, nor anything advocated in Marxism.

Why should socialists fear admitting the Marxism in Germanic socialism? If they do it’s probably because they seek the approval of Western Liberal Democrats. It’s clear that by including race – this is… not truly Marxism or socialism, but something different.

Or when Hitler rejected the class struggle, vital to socialism, by saying: “There are no such things as classes: They cannot be. Class means caste and caste means race.” Well, Nazism may include some Marxist analyses of political and economic historical development but this is… not really socialism, but something different.

Making an alliance with corporate powers, instead of appropriating from the greedy expropriators… this is not really socialism, either.

Choosing central guidance instead of central majority ownership… this is not really socialism.

Hitler was also the least internationalist politician you can think of – he totally rejected the internationalism of the class struggle and replaced it with a “community of the volk”. He only wanted to protect Teutonic citizens in his all-Germanic nation.

We can go on and on pointing out these differences.

But the rejection of Western Liberal Democracy – due to its decades of failures by an oligarchical, corrupt, plutocratic leadership barely different from 18th century monarchy – that actually is the same as socialism. The rejection of Western Liberal Democratic economics – due to the decades of failures by free market capitalism (i.e. the economic component of liberalism) – that is the same as socialism.

The Western Liberal Democrats of today simply do not want to talk about their often democratic rejection by people who feel its failures intimately.

Yellow Vest: “Our media have lost all credibility. Everything that you see on the mainstream media, and all of their reporters are under the boot of the government. For them the Yellow Vests don’t even exist anymore, on both the private and public stations.

So what was German National Socialism and Italian Fascism? It is socialism minus the hopeful egalitarianism and the internationalism, and replaced with pessimistic Darwinian elitism and racism. It’s a right-wing socialism whose only virtue is that it openly opposes the rich-are-smarter-and-should-rule ideology of Western Liberal Democracy, which opposed most of the French Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte, won the counter-revolutions of 1848, laid the foundations of the neo-imperial European Union in 1871, colluded to create World War I in order to forestall socialist revolution and which was ruining society in the 1930s just as it does today.

But proponents of elites who rule through a Bankocracy don’t want people to understand that fascism and Germanic National Socialism came to power by opposing the domination of international high finance and liberalism (whether “neo-”, “ultra-” or sans-préfixe it’s all the same: free markets, unregulated capitalism, rights only for those who can afford it), which forever is ultimately cover for an autocratic oligarchy.

So it can’t be stressed enough: Socialism has nothing to fear from free, honest, patient examination of the Nazis’ relationship with socialism. What needs to be rectified is the total disavowal of fascism which excludes its criticisms of Western Liberal Democracy.

However, Western Liberal Democracy has much to fear regarding true discussions of their relationship with the Nazis. They, over and over, allied with fascism against socialism in the 1930s; they colluded with the surviving Nazis and fascists after 1945; they encouraged 3rd-generation Nazis in places like Ukraine in the 21st century. Thus since the 1930s fascism and Western Liberal Democracy has been cooperating for more often than they have been fighting.

Where does fascism fit in the course of European economic development since 1492?

The fascists ultimately came to power by claiming they were different in their economic aims than Western Liberal Democrats.

By the turn of the 20th century industrialisation was no longer a novelty but the defining economic force. Landed wealth, Old World colonisation wealth, sea-trading wealth and mid-late 19th century industrial-financial wealth had been melded together into a banker-dominated financial system in which – of course – old money was predominant. The new banking system they created controlled the means of production and usuriously owned the land on which serfs recently lived. This is a clear timeline of economic history – it is not hard to understand, nor is it eternal.

Fascists promised to expropriate the wealth now held in the stewardship of banks and to do it via a new class – that of the magistrate; of individualist political power.

The word “fascism” stems from “fasces”, which is a bundle of sticks wrapped together topped by an ax. It’s originally an Etruscan symbol which symbolised the power of – not the people wrapped together – the magistrate. What was the magistrate in Rome? He was a high-ranking officer with both executive and judicial powers. Whatever the wealth or justice which Roman magistrates allowed to “trickle-down” was entirely up to them. It was an elitist, 1%-centered system and fascism’s advance was (allegedly) making the 1% class open to competition (which they said begins in one’s DNA) and cutting out the longtime aristocracy and new bankers. We see this is exactly like in Western Liberal Democracy today, and we now see why these two forces have allied together. The seal of the United States Senate, an aristocratic house of lords, features two crossed fasces.

Beyond autocratic powers for a non-monarchical elite, Western Liberal Democracy also mostly agreed with the key plank of the fascist’s economic program. “Central planning” does exist in modern Western countries – it is based around the military. For example, in the United States their economy is guided by the Pentagon, the world’s largest employer. The Pentagon hands out the fruits of their taxpayer-funded research to private companies; enriches their native bourgeoisie with hugely corrupt contracts; provides jobs for the masses terribly ineffectively; but it very effectively enriches their 1%.

Fascism was never for the people but dedicated to the power of those in power; for the status quo; for submission to essentially autocratic magistrates and politicians; against the redistribution of wealth and political power. It is only socialism which reduces the power of the magistrate, who makes him accountable and who improves the person of the magistrate by making sure he is not solely drawn from the elite, grasping class.

Fascism is different from the globalist class of Western Liberal Democracy by insisting on nationalist competition and national sovereignty. The arrival of the European Union, the euro and the Eurogroup, which will supersede national laws without any concern for ideals of democracy, will render these desires essentially irrelevant. The main sin of Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan, or of Marine Le Pen, is that these two fascist politicians both seek to restore some aspects of national sovereignty.

Trotsky wrote: “Fascism, as we know, is born between the union of the despair of the middle-classes and the terrorist policy of big capital.” Yet the West never takes a class view and elevates big capital to the status of demigods – this is why to them fascism must always be solely race-related and never economic-related. It’s simply a half-truth, and not understanding and combating this dooms Western politics – and their own history – to total misunderstanding.

The 1% and their lackeys immediately called the Yellow Vests fascists because it was a union of the lower and middle classes – like in the Paris Commune it also included a union of the lower class and the proletariat with the petty bourgeois small shopkeeper.

Yellow Vest: “For 10 years we have only created instability. 75% of France has serious economic difficulties. We have closed hospitals, nurseries, schools – everything is being closed, and this can’t go on!”

Due to there insistence on elitism, fascism could have only ever allied with Liberal Democracy – the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact is as far as it ever could have gone. However, if they had somehow allied with the USSR against Liberal Democracy what would they have permanently smashed? Answer: the Bankocracy which rules today.

It’s vital to recognise that, because the current usage of “fascist” completely lacks this historical-economic component.

The fascism of the 2020s is even more right-wing than the fascism of the 1930s

Due to the refusal to honestly talk about fascism – on both the Western left and the Western right – Western politics today are simply a catastrophe of nonsense and misinformation.

Their lack of knowledge allows them to obscure the fact that modern Western “fascists” are even more right-wing than Hitler, who was quite reliant on the Marxist explanation of 19th century history and economics. However, the modern right wing has expunged Marxism, and thus they cannot be actual fascists. Racism and fascism cannot be mere synonyms for each other – unless the goal is to neuter them of all meaning.

Being more right-wing than Hitler… that seems like something which should be understood, no? However, Western Liberal Democracy doesn’t want anything but propaganda regarding other systems and regarding its own failures and treasons.

The best term for today’s alleged “fascists” would be “Nalis” – Nationalist Liberalists: they have all the jingoism, militarism, authoritarianism and imperialism of 1930s fascists but combine it with right-wing Liberalist political structures, economic inequality and historical analyses.

It’s a simple and accurate political description, but only socialist-inspired countries which have fully rejected Western Liberal Democracy would ever apply the term “Nali”: Just as uninformed socialists don’t want to admit any ideological similarities with Nazism, so uninformed Western Liberal Democrats don’t want to admit that they are actually fighting internecine wars with their “National Liberalist” brethren. The use of “Nazi” or “fascist” is a way to distance themselves from each other despite the obvious similarities between each other.

And what do Western Liberal Democrats care if calling far-right Ukrainians “Nazis” in 2022 unfairly tarnishes socialism and spreads misinformation – both wings of Liberalists (one nationalist, the other globalist) are united in their anti-socialism.

Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen are two example of open Nalis, but so are two enemies – Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky. The Russian military operation in Ukraine has been a catastrophe of misinformation on both sides regarding who is a “fascist” and who is a “liberal”, and precisely because neither can admit that fascism and liberalism coincide and almost always ally, historically. Thus this battle between two Nali states is either a historical anomaly or, as I predict, Russia’s invasion will mark a step away from their Nalism since 1991 and back towards Socialist Democracy. If Russia continues to insist that “Russophobia” totally equates with “Nazism”, then this will herald their failure to return the fold of progressive politics.

In France, by 2017 the Great Financial Crisis – just the latest periodic failure of liberalism – had inflamed the masses too much for every single politician to ignore: Marine Le Pen thus dropped the Reaganism of her father and made it to the second round of the presidential election. She defended economic ideas which were both similar to the French left and to the Germanic National Socialists of the 1930s. In the 2022 campaign Le Pen reverted back to far-right economics, dropping all her promises for things like a “Frexit” vote within six months of election and for repudiating banker debt, yet the mainstream media called her “fascist” throughout the entire time.

The modern French and Western model was essentially created from 1928-1945, and what it took from fascism and Germanic National Socialism is that economic planning must be limited to the military, and that xenophobia, identity politics and security are spectacles just big enough to dominate the headlines, and thus to ignore liberalism’s failures. To put it in 2022 presidential candidate Eric Zemmour’s terms: France’s economic problem is Muslim welfare, not banker welfare. It’s a pathetic intellectual analysis. When the unrest in Ukraine began France immediately realised that and Zemmour’s popularity quickly halved.

Yellow Vest: “If you look around here you see people of all colours and religions. For me it goes beyond questions of origin – it’s really a question of social justice, regardless of someone’s ethnicity or religion.”

During the 2022 campaign the convicted racist Zemmour said he was, “here to save the French people and France…not here to save the world.” It’s a telling, semi-messianic remark because it is truly straight out of Adolf Hitler’s platform in the 1930s.

But such a comparison was never made by the mainstream media, and it could never be made. Many have heard of Godwin’s Law, or the rule of Nazi analogies: an Internet adage asserting that as an online discussion grows longer (regardless of topic or scope), the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Adolf Hitler approaches. However, an important corollary is that whenever someone compares someone or something to Nazism – that person has lost the argument and/or the argument is summarily over.

Essentially, the world is to accept that all discussions of Western politics cannot discuss the anti-Western Liberalism ideology which was Germanic Nazism.

Thus it was impossible for them to accurately describe a 2022 French election where the four top candidates were all on the far-right – either economically, politically, culturally or all three. In the two-week interim between their two rounds of voting any criticism of Emmanuel Macron’s record was immediately shouted down in the mainstream media as “support for fascism” – voters wondered which candidate they were referring to. The failure to delineate fascism from Western Liberal Democracy means that we also cannot understand where they have reconciled a century later, just as how liberalism and monarchy eventually reconciled.

The Western right is stuck in falsely believing that the right of 2020 is the same as in the 1930s, despite all the anti-racist gains made since then; the Western left is stuck in falsely believing that their “Popular Front” tactic is actual leftism, despite being neutered of Marxism and socialism. This is why Western versions of history and their political discourse today simply make no sense. It only makes sense if we remember that obscuring political truths is a hallmark of Western Liberal Democratic history, and thus their versions are not truthful nor complete at all.

Not wanting to accurately define fascism or liberalism, but certain in their rejection of Socialist Democracy, after the first round vote in 2022 all the losing candidates (except Zemmour) immediately called for a Popular Front against Le Pen, just as they did in 2017. What’s vital and new is that the Yellow Vests empathically refused this form of class-collaborationism. The People’s Front tactic must be seen for what it is: not an effort to fight fascism but as a way to cement fake-leftism.

Trotsky wrote: “The racists pillage the Marxist program, successfully transforming certain of its sections into an instrument of social demagogy. The ‘Communists’ (?) as a matter of fact refuse their own program, substituting for it the rotten refuse of reformism. Can one conceive of a more fraudulent bankruptcy?”

Trotsky wrote that in 1935 but anyone can see that this is where the West is stuck, still:

Racists reject certain sections of Western Liberal Democrat economics in order to preserve White citizens from the united Bankocrats, while left-wingers hysterically prop up right-leaning moderates who only seek to refine Liberalism into an ever-more unequal system. Can you conceive of a more fraudulent ideological bankruptcy than modern Western politics?

If “Nali” ever did catch on one thing is certain: it would be a huge improvement.

<—>

Upcoming chapter list of the brand-new content in France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. The book will also include previous writings from 2018 through the 2022 election in order to provide the most complete historical record of the Yellow Vests anywhere. What value!

Publication date: June 1, 2022.

Pre-orders of the paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the Kindle version may be made here.

Pre-orders of the French paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the French Kindle version may be made here.

Chapter List of the new content

French presidential debate: Le Pen goes mainstream, proving Yellow Vests right

April 21, 2022

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by Ramin Mazaheri

What a difference five years makes?

I wish I could report differently, but the long awaited French presidential debate was a total dud. Just like the whole election campaign was. And now, just like both candidates, too.

I wasn’t sure if I was watching Marine Le Pen or Sarkozyist candidate Valerie Pecresse, that’s how mainstream Le Pen appeared.

It was a total 180 from the 2017 debate, which was full of fireworks and a knock-down, drag-out brawl between a Rothschild banker and perhaps the continent’s best known far-right figurehead. It was over serious issues too: a Frexit vote, repudiating banker debt, possibly leaving the euro, austerity, etc.

Back then, my debate reaction column was how Le Pen clowns at debate instead of taking anti-austerity seriously. There wasn’t a quip she left unsaid, a false claim made by Macron which she let slide and a personal attack which hadn’t already been bandied about French cafes for months. She lacked moral seriousness, though – she was playing to the gallery and merely content to play the role of the joker. It was a major let down, because who else did we have in France who was going to end the Era of Austerity?

As a result she lost 2 to 1, and she expressed regret over her performance. Which is what it was – a performance – but politics is not art but morality.

In 2022 the only way I can explain what happened is this: For the past five years Le Pen has been a parliamentarian in France’s National Assembly. Prior to 2017 she was mainly hobnobbing only with far-right extremists, left-wing pariahs and various castaways who reject the mainstream’s nonsense. This is the only explanation I can give for what a radically different person she appeared to be.

She was Mutti – Germany’s mother, Angela Merkel – and not Marine. Macron was on the attack the whole night – hunched over, head in his hands, interrupting as a clinch every time Le Pen was scoring points – and Le Pen looked downright nice the entire time. She never took the bait, and she never really seemed like herself. Even on her bread and butter issue of security – on which she’s as bad as Macron – she looked like she had to fabricate some passion, finally.

Maybe the plan was for her to appear poised and presidential, to win over the centrist voter? What I saw was something similar to 2017: this is not someone who really “wants it”.

I wrote in 2017 and it still holds up – so even though it sounds strange you’ll just have to admit that the 2022 debate proves I was right. Heck, I even made it the lede sentence back then:

Unlike most Western countries, French politicians do not really do personal attacks. That sounds surprising, but they don’t even criticize each other’s programs with virulence.

The big surprise the day after the debate is how Le Pen did not attack Macron’s record, now that he actually has one and not just a program. It was really mind-boggling. It’s the advantage of every challenger and the disadvantage of every incumbent – a record.

I’ve extensively documented Macron’s record in columns, and I’m also doing so in my (currently being published in serial format) book, France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values, so I can say with confidence: Macron has an awful record.

I’m not going to waste time: All I can say is that Macron has proven himself totally unfit to hold public office if only via his weekly repression of the Yellow Vests. There’s much more than that, of course: corrupt ministers, inequality, authoritarianism as a way to pass laws, total rejection of transparency, etc. I’d give anyone else a chance to govern before he got second chance because you just can’t do what he did and get re-elected as a public servant.

My point is: Le Pen could have talked for the entire 2 hour and 50 minute debate just about the things which Macron has done which most voters don’t like. She didn’t.

What she did was play by that strange rule’s corollary: she talked about her program – the future, instead of the past.

Macron knows this corollary because he knows the game I have described: the final minute of his two minute summation was a bunch of seemingly-improvised pap about “protecting the children”.

People will say I’m too biased in their favor, but Le Pen only made two quick references to the Yellow Vests. (Of course Macron would never bring them up.) Why would she ignore them when every voter knows that for six months France saw blood in the streets every Saturday?

The answer: like all mainstream politicians, she disavows them, too. She won’t deign to touch them even if it will help her get elected. She’s totally on board with total suppression of them.

The Yellow Vests were right all along: Le Pen is a mainstream politician.

Even though when they first began the mainstream media insisted that they were Le Pen’s voters, they always told me they reject voting for her. I’d say what I heard from them is that 85% supported leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon and 15% supported the (pseudo) outsider Eric Zemmour. To a Vest they told me that Le Pen was part of the problem – she was a mainstream politician.

It’s a sophisticated analysis, because none of the mainstream media here sees it that way – they genuinely view Le Pen as an outsider and danger – and last night she was as mainstream as a baguette.

There was none of her outsider mentality on display in 2022, and that’s a real shame. French voters detest mainstream politics, but the mainstream is just too strong here.

The post-debate polls show that the debate didn’t sway anyone, and how could it? It was two politicians boring people with their plans on enormously broad concepts like schools, the environment, retirement, etc. All empty promises in the sky – nothing about the lives people have lived for five years. You saw what you wanted to see, because all they did was present themselves and their plans… yet again. They may as well have been in separate rooms.

And so instead of gaining a 5 point debate victory swing – as Macron did in 2017 – and making the polls deader than a dead heat, the post-debate polls are unchanged: roughly 54-46% in Macron’s favor.

Once again Le Pen blew it.

However, this time there was no illusion that she’s anything but a mainstream candidate now. She will likely only get more mainstream as the years go by. If she somehow wins it’s because enough voters say: “Boy, she really sounded sensible.” And she did – her proposals are only radical in the sense that they are pro-French sovereignty in the age of the European Union, euro and Eurogroup.

I wish I could have reported on this campaign differently because I hate to think I am depressing people, but this was simply a depressing, empty, absent and disappointing campaign. The issues at play were not at all as vital as in 2017. The debate epitomised this reality – it fit this campaign perfectly.

The reality is that in French politics the only interesting, necessary and vital movement is the Yellow Vests. However, their rebirth relies on the average person overcoming their fear of repression and re-donning the Yellow Vests.

The final vote is Sunday – which far-right mainstream candidate will win?


Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV 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 ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

The Paris Commune: The birth of international neoliberalism and EU neo-imperialism

April 17, 2022

Source

by Ramin Mazaheri

(This is the sixth chapter in a new book, France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. Please click here for the article which announces this book and explains its goals.)

One hundred and fifty years later it’s clear that the Paris Commune of 1871 was four things, and only one – the last on this list – is widely understood in 2022.

  1. A reverse of the American Civil War: In France it was the slaveowners and slave traders who – as opposed to initiating it – forbid and fought down a rebellious secession. I think Marx would have been more effective in his description if he had compared France with the situation in the US, as it’s an interesting reverse parallel.
  2. For rightists: It’s interesting that they never look at how their victory over the Paris Commune furthered the right’s ideology and goals. It’s almost as if the champions of liberalism don’t want to admit that armed treason with Bismarck was the reason for their victory in France?

Too bad for them – there’s no doubt that’s what it was. 1871 marks the restoration of liberalism after the voter-approved coup of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte in 1852. But the Third Republic created in 1871 is no longer a “French” government based on liberalism – as in 1848-52 – but a new type of liberalism based on collusion among the international elite: thus, it is truly “neoliberalism”. If we’re going to call anything “neoliberalism” – even though it’s all fundamentally just the same old “liberalism” – this is the most accurate place in history to add that prefix. Most add it over a century later, incorrectly.

  1. If the Commune represents such a major advance in global leftism because it’s the first sustained example of the dictatorship of the proletariat – for two months -, then the armed victory of an international elite class over such a major advance must herald something equally significant, no? It does: The Commune represents the very neo-imperialist dictates, with their first troops, of what would eventually be instituted as the European Union.

The definition of neo-imperialism is not simply the replacement of direct rule by Western colonisers with Westerners’ indirect rule via local Brown puppets – neo-imperialism also includes Westerners waging imperialist war on their own Western people for the benefit of an international 1%. The first modern example of this intra-European class warfare (not merely feudal class warfare) started with the Commune. The European Union is the bureaucratic expression of these forces which defeated The Commune.

  1. Lastly, there is total understanding that, for leftists, all we need is Frederich Engels’ famous concluding remarks on the 20th anniversary of the Commune: “Well and good, gentlemen, do you want to know what this dictatorship looks like? Look at the Paris Commune. That was the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.” This is the most widely understood understood of the four assertions.

The Commune is a big deal, but we need to make it a big deal for the victors, because they – rightly – are ashamed of it.

The objective history: The Commune was defeated by the armed collusion of the French 1% with the German 1%

Marx’s writings on the Paris Commune came in truly real-time. It’s incredible journalism that he got it so right but also so quickly, but what’s more shocking is what actually transpired:

The Paris Commune came after the capture of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870. The average person was fine with this ignominious end to the Bonapartist imperial era – the modern executive branch had been discredited. In 1852 France had democratically sanctioned the self-coup of the executive branch against the usurping, unrepresentative and already disgraced legislative branch of Western Liberal Democracy, and by 1870 France was ready to let go of the world’s most progressive monarchy. They wanted something new – Socialist Democracy – but the Western Liberal Democratic elite was happy to push aside Bonaparte and re-usurp power, exactly as they did from 1849-51, when the National Assembly subverted the 1848 constitution to the majority will of parliament and gutted universal male suffrage. To achieve this re-conquering of the French people it took German troops to put them back into power; it took months starvation, censorship and totalitarian controls around Paris; it took the total rejection of any democratic will… but this is “neoliberalism” – should we be surprised?

A hastily-assembled French government of the rich colluding with Bismarck’s occupying Germans to bombard and siege Paris, what?

“The conspiracy of the ruling class to break down the revolution by a civil war carried on under the patronage of the foreign invader… culminated in the carnage of Paris.”

That’s from Marx, but it’s not a “a history” – it’s “the history”.

How can this be anything other than treason? How can this be anything other than forcing political regression onto France? How can the success of such a faction be anything other than ultimately anti-France? How can this be anything but a “not national war” as it has nothing to do with “national peoples” but everything to do with elites/emperors/bankers/slaveowners/industrial barons?

These unanswered questions from supporters of the West add up to a major theme of Western history: the covering up of the early crimes of Western Liberal Democracy, which hypocritically loves to endlessly focus on the early errors of a far more moral and democratic movement – socialism.

It’s truly accurate to call these post-1871 war French legislators the “anti-Resistance” of French history, because instead of fighting with autocratic Teutons they colluded with occupying Prussia to subvert the democratic will of Paris and, above all, to ring-fence them from the rest of the nation to keep Paris’ victory of Socialist Democracy from spreading.

Yellow Vest: “We didn’t score very well in last month’s European elections, but remember that we had only a few months to get everything organised, unlike all the other parties. What the Yellow Vests have hammered into people’s heads is the reality that, our purchasing power is never going to rise, our debt to high finance can only keep rising, and that tax evasion will only continue to rise unless voters fight for our cause.”

(Note: this book intersperses over 100 quotations taken from actual, marching Yellow Vests which were originally published in news reports on PressTV.)

You likely have no idea whose these legislators are, and nor does the average Frenchman. The treasons of Western Liberal Democracy are as hushed up as they are rewarded – the head collaborator, Adolphe Thiers, became the first president of France’s Third Republic.

A major difference between the French Revolution of 1789 and the Commune is the lack of violence in Paris – until, that is, the forces of liberal democracy showed up and slaughtered as many in Paris (30,000) as had died in the entire nation during “the Terror” (1793-4). Of course, all one hears about is the Terror of 1793-4 and never this far worse Terror – it’s far worse because the victims included far more women, children, poor and innocent, who were all executed without trial, as opposed to the many unrepentant elite of 1793-4. “The Terror” in the Western world is that rich people got tried and sentenced to death – poor people executed without a trial is no problem for Western Liberal Democrats, of course. This faux-reality is because the winners write the history books, but there’s no doubt that as socialism prevails over Western Liberal Democracy the true terror will be rightly named more and more.

Not a ‘slaveowners rebellion’ but a true reversal of the US Civil War

Marx, in his writings on the Paris Commune, repeatedly dubs it a “slaveowners rebellion”, but it’s actually the inverse – Paris rebelled, not the ruling slaveowners, and after months of siege Parisians called to secede and to establish a new republic.

France had banned slavery, again, in 1848, but the Western Liberal Democrats conniving with Bismarck to establish their mutual control over the masses of Paris contained many former slave-traders; contained families whose wealth was based on centuries of slave trading; contained members whose financial dealings with countries who had not yet banned slavery, thus Marx is entirely justified to call them “slaveowners”.

There is also major significance that the opposition to the Paris Commune was first landed at an assembly in Bordeaux: it’s a port city built on the slave trade. The elite of Bordeaux, which is located within the department of Gironde, were consistently among the most reactionary, pro-slavery, anti-democracy elite in France (even more than almost English-sighting Brittany, the only region which sent troops to conquer The Commune).

Thus “slaveholders” did not secede against France, like in the US in 1861, but instead colluded with foreign occupiers and the slaughterers of French soldiers in order to contain a rebellious attempt at a new governmental structure. The Civil War in France, the name of Marx’s famed pamphlet on the Commune, was caused by the restoration of popularly-rejected Western Liberal Democracy, and only via a treasonous siege did it remain a “Paris Commune” and not a “Second French Revolution”.

Having established what transpired and the unpopular role and ideology of the slave-traders/Western Liberal Democrats who prevailed, we can move on to what these colluding traitors of the nation’s largest city established.

The restoration of liberalism = neoliberalism = anti-democracy, censorship & oligarchy

Even if the people of France were done with monarchy and empire, aristocracy and autocracy, false meritocracy and unrepresentative faux-technocracy, the liberalists, constitutional monarchists and autocrats alike were not.

The elections for the first legislature of the new Third Republic were with Prussians in half the country – should we be surprised that neoliberalism’s birth came under totally undemocratic voting conditions? Two-thirds of its members were either Orleanists or Bourbonists – yes, royalism and autocracy has prevailed in an alleged “Third Republic” built on mass murder in the capital.

Yellow Vests: “There has been so much police brutality today and in recent months. It’s clear that the 5th Republic is dead, and that we must change not only the Macron regime, but our entire system. The French people are being ruled by thieves.”

It cannot be stressed enough how the Paris Commune relates to the overall historical trend of fighting monarchy and autocratic mindsets: 100 years after the French Revolution the Third Republic was a “republic” mainly run by royalists! This is no longer a “French” government based on liberalism – as in 1849-52 – but a new type of liberalism based on collusion among the international elite: it’s neoliberalism.

As the years passed in the Third Republic these royalists would have to renounce their royalism – seeing that it was totally rejected by the French people – and thus they would switch their allegiance to the new neoliberalism. The result was clear to much of the new “Third World”: With the fig leaf of republican and democratic institutions France’s overseas empire would now become the world’s second-largest. The idea that Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte or his uncle represented an “empire” more venal than that of the Third Republic is a totally unsupportable fiction.

Marx notes how the Commune differed from the 1%-er desires of Western Liberal Democrats: in The Commune the worker and lower classes were joined by the petty bourgeois, just like with the Yellow Vests. What united them was the debt-producing and rent-seeking of liberalists.

“And yet, this was the first revolution in which the working class was openly acknowledged as the only class capable of social initiative, even by the great bulk of the Paris middle class – shopkeepers, tradesmen, merchants – the wealthy capitalist alone excepted. The Commune had saved them by a sagacious settlement of that ever recurring cause of dispute among the middle class themselves – the debtor and creditor accounts (via the postponing of debts for 2-3 years). The same portion of the middle class, after they had assisted in putting down the working men’s insurrection of June 1848 had been at once unceremoniously sacrificed to the creditors by the then Constituent Assembly. But this was not their only motive for now rallying around the working class. They felt there was but one alternative – the Commune, or the empire – under whatever name it might reappear. The (2nd) empire (of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte), had ruined them economically by the havoc it made of public wealth, by the wholesale financial swindling it fostered, by the props it lent to the artificially accelerated centralisation of capital, and the concomitant expropriation of their own ranks.”

To champion Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte over the first class of Western Liberal Democratic politicians is one thing, but we should see here why our modern leftist support must be limited for Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte: He failed to stop, as President or as elected Emperor, the modern home-based debt-slavery which remains rampant in the West today:

“In the eyes of the French peasant the very existence of a great landed proprietor is itself an encroachment on his conquests of 1789. The bourgeois, in 1848, had burdened his plot of land with the additional tax of 45 cents, in the franc; but then he did so in the name of the revolution; while now he had foment a civil war against revolution; to shift on to the peasant’s shoulders the chief load of the 5 billion of indemnity to be paid to the Prussian. The Commune, on the other hand, in one of its first proclamations, declared that the true originators of the war would be made to pay its cost.”

So we see the roots of neoliberalism both politically and economically: multinational autocrats and elite bourgeois against all workers and the modern, essentially precarious middle class (petty bourgeois).

(In a parenthetical from the larger point of the shift from serfdom to debt-serfdom in France: Here we see the cause of the reparations which France demanded after World War I. These reparations are always historically portrayed as unjustified and as a major cause of Germany’s hyper-inflation and the rise of the Nazis. Again, we see how the refusal of Western Liberal Democracy to honestly examine its formative years from 1848-1914 has led to total historical ignorance. Germanic people will also point out that this debt load reflected the same debt load Napoleon put onto Germany, but the differences are enormous: France fought defensive war after defensive war from Prussian-Austrian-Hungarian aggression, and France was also received as liberators from feudalism – 1871 is not liberation at all!)

1871 is popularly portrayed as a localised and extremely radicalised movement (even immoral: from Wikipedia, and without explanation or justification – “The principles underpinning the Commune were viewed as morally degenerate….” ) and not “The French Civil War of 1871” only because of censorship tactics used against it.

The Rurals (i.e. the Bordeaux Assembly) – this was, in fact, their chief apprehension – knew that three months’ free communication of Communal Paris with the provinces would bring about a general rising of the peasants, and hence their anxiety to establish a police blockade around Paris, so as to stop the spread of the rinderpest.”

In the 21st century we see how Western Liberal Democracy, after realising what devolving the “power of writing” via digital social media can do, has responded with vast censorship against their “rinderpest” classes of today. Of course, Western Liberal Democracy has brutally repressed socialist thought for nearly two centuries.

While the Versailles government (the Bordeaux Assembly would relocate to Versailles, the seat of autocracy, in March 1871), as soon as it had recovered some spirit and strength, used the most violent means against the Commune; while it put down the free expression of opinion all over France, even to the forbidding of meetings of delegates from the large towns; while it subjected Versailles and the rest of France to an espionage far surpassing that of the Second Empire; while it burned, by its gendarme inquisitors, all papers printed at Paris, and sifted all correspondence from and to Paris; while in the National Assembly the most timid attempts to put in a word for Paris were howled down in a manner unknown even to the Chambre introuvable of 1816 (The ultra-royalist and uber-reactionary Chamber of Deputies of the Bourbon Restoration); with the savage warfare of Versailles outside, and its attempts and corruption and conspiracy inside Paris – would the Commune not have shamefully betrayed its trust by affecting to keep all the decencies and appearances of liberalism as in a time of profound peace?”

It’s the same problem as in 1849: Western Liberal Democracy does not even protect the democratic freedoms described in liberalist thought. There is never a free marketplace of ideas if the ideas discuss eliminating the oligarchic parliamentary style of government which dominates the West. Similarly, Iran, Cuba, China and other socialist-style democracies censor calls to counter their popular revolutions, but there are two key differences: Western Liberal Democracy hypocritically claims to be more tolerant when they are not, and Western Liberal Democracy’s popular support is a false construction.

Because of the cutting off of communications – as well as because of the massive bloodletting when the siege was broken – the French Civil War remained a limited affair: it was the working people of Paris, and the politically progressive there, against the nation-wide banker-lawyer-landlord-aristocrat elite who were colluding with occupying Germans. It could have been the third progressive national revolution in 82 years, but it was massacred before it reached that level.

Yellow Vest: “They are using even harsher tear gas on us, and people are dropping to the ground left and right. Our demand is for a more equal and more democratic society, and this does not merit such inadmissible violence. The government must listen to the people of France.”

It remains clearly a class war, and an international one, and that’s why the Commune is so vital. Whereas a century earlier it was royals colluding against their own people the Commune saw foreign-backed liberal politicians doing that.

It’s truly the birth of the principles of the European Union.

The Commune as the birth of EU neo-imperialism

Returning to the theme of European political history I set out in my Introduction chapter, 1871 represents a vital step beyond Europe’s original imperialism, which started with the Columbian era of Old versus New World, and then also a step beyond France’s occupation of Algeria in 1830: The refusal of a huge proportion of France to refuse support for armed war on Paris forced Bismarck to release hundreds of thousands of prisoners of war, who were used to reconquer Paris.

“This army, however, would have been ridiculously ineffective without the instalments of imperialist war prisoners, which Bismarck granted in numbers just sufficient to keep the civil war going, and keep the Versailles government in abject dependence on Prussia.”

These represent the first-ever shock troops of European neo-imperialism. If Western Liberal Democracy was truly honest about its elitist individualism these men would be lionised as the first neo-imperial EU foot soldiers. Should we see a “Frexit” similar troops might be mustered if financial war fails to force them back into the EU neoliberal empire.

The Third Republic was formed amid German occupation, in the hastiest of a wartime vote, in order to approve a peace plan with Germany, but also – critically – to put the most unfit, unpatriotic, pro-neoliberal 1% people into power. It’s a hallmark criticism of Western Liberal Democracy that their politicians are incredibly distrusted and the puppets of big money – the same goes for the first representatives of neoliberals, per Marx.

“The population could not but feel that the terms of the armistice rendered the continuation of the war impossible, and that for sanctioning the peace imposed by Bismarck the worst men in France were the best. …. There is but this difference: that the Romans had no mitrailleuses (volley machine guns) for the despatch, in the lump (sum), of the proscribed, and that they had not ‘the law in their hands’ nor on their lips the cry of ‘civilisation’.”

We see here that the faux-moralism of Western Liberal Democracy truly began in 1871 as well.

“That, after the most tremendous war of modern times, the conquered and conquering hosts should fraternise for the common massacre of the proletariat – this unparalleled event does indicate, not, as Bismarck thinks, the final repression of a new society up heaving, but the crumbling into dust of bourgeois society.”

What Marx misses is that – by his own analysis – the petty bourgeois/small traders/true middle class was also massacred i 1871. The Yellow Vests alliance with this class – as opposed to the general leftist contempt for even the most near-bankrupt shop-keeper – is thus a significant broadening of leftism and also a return to what actually worked.

Yellow Vest: “The G7 is spending 30 million euros over one weekend to give rich ministers champagne, caviar and lobsters, while people in France don’t have money for food or electricity. They talk about saving the environment, but only after flying here in their private, first-class planes. France’s billionaires see their fortunes rise every year, whereas the minimum salary France is forced to stretch more and more. We need a real redistribution of wealth.”

The socialist Paris Commune lost. What up-heaved was not socialist society but a new form of liberalism – one where Western elitist-imperialists turned on Westerners themselves in massacres formerly reserved for Brown peoples. It also marks the start of where liberalism began its war to eradicate socialist societies, a war of eradication which was as brutal and as highly-censored as the monarchical war against liberalism was before the two began colluding in 1871.

Paris Commune: The start of what 1917, 1949, 1959 and 1979 carried

To summarise simply:

It was essentially a working class government, the product of the struggle of the producing against the appropriating class, the political form at last under which to work out the emancipation of labor. … The Commune was therefore to serve as a lever for uprooting the economical foundation upon which rests the existence of classes, and therefore of class rule.” (emphasis mine)

And if we aren’t working for a classless society, then why are you reading this? Go out and rob, cheat and steal to join the upper class, and then join in their suppression the working, middle, pensioner, student, youth, female, minority, etc. classes.

There’s a lot of nonsense emanating from France on the Commune – four months of siege will do that to you, perhaps – and it’s on the side of the anarchists.

The Commune is considered by anarchists to be their heyday – a day when the stages of socialism and communism were leapfrogged (who needs development?) – and the immediate repression didn’t give a chance to push aside these deluded bores. The only thing duller than, the founder of collective anarchism, Mikhail Bakunin’s self-referential writings on the Commune are his metaphysical thoughts. The certainties of the Commune’s anarchists are as full of false “universal values” as much as any Western Liberal Democrat. Marx and Trotsky detested their generations’s anarchists as much as the Yellow Vests refused to hand any sort of political leadership to Black Bloc or Antifa.

Western Liberal Democrats love to focus on the most individualistic, fantastic and nonsensical ideas espoused during The Commune – again, four months of siege will produce some of that – because it avoids any talk of the actual politics which was discussed, and allows for caricatures such as “morally degenerate”. They want to make The Commune like May 1968, but the former was not just a movement for individual rights but about the political right to form a new type of government. As time goes on the unity of the Yellow Vests and their political goals became more apparent – not 68ard individualism but 1789 class and cultural warfare. The Yellow Vest are a class warfare group.

Yellow Vest: “There has been enormous repression never seen before in France. Even in 1968 it was not as bad as this. But this has been the policy chosen by the president in order to break the movement. We will keep improvising new solutions to win our demands.”

But the biggest problem leftists must unlearn from the Commune’s legacy is that it was totally Parisian. It’s led to a veneration of urbanites as outdated as the veneration of factory proletariat – rural people, cubicle dwellers, pensioners and other groups must be in the vanguard, too.

Here’s an interesting thought: if we are to accept that – at 1871’s time of rural domination – that the urban areas were the political vanguard, then perhaps we should consider that today, when most societies are urbanised, that rural areas are now the political vanguard? With the Yellow Vests this generalisation appears to hold generally true.

What’s interesting is that the Paris Commune proved Edmund Burke, the founder of modern conservatism, correct regarding the way Western Liberal Democracy, in its ultimate goal of federalism (seen in the US, Canada, Germany, Australia and many Western monarchies are allegedly “unitary”), centers everything around the capital and thus ultimately creates fragmentation and disunity. Federalism is opposed in socialist democracy because Western Liberal Democratic federalism serves to weaken society by weakening the power of government and thus increasing the power of the rich individual – it allows for capitalists to “divide and conquer”.

Burke foresaw this: “You cannot but perceive in this scheme that it has a direct and immediate tendency to sever France into a variety of republics, and to render them totally independent of each other without any constitutional means of coherence, connection or subordination, except what may be derived from the acquiescence in the determinations of the general congress of the ambassadors from each independent republic.”

More importantly, Burke would’t have been surprised one bit by the elite’s response in 1871 to the democratic rejection of Western Liberal Democracy:

“Neither they have left any principle by which any of their municipalities can be bound to obedience, or even conscientiously obliged not to separate from the whole to become independent, or to connect itself with some other state. … To this the answer is: We will send troops. The last reason of kings is always the first with your Assembly.”

Indeed: become Western Liberal Democratic or die, be sanctioned, etc.

Burke sees a more modern Western problem – capital domination – but agrees that Western Liberal Democrats must control the capital above all.

“All you have got for the present is a paper circulation and a stock-jobbing constitution; and, as to the future, do you seriously think that the territory of France, upon the republican system of eighty-three independent municipalities (to say nothing of the parts that compose them), can ever be governed as one body or can ever be set in motion by the impulse of one mind? When the National Assembly has completed its work, it will have accomplished its ruin. These commonwealths will not long bear a state of subjection to the republic of Paris.”

Because the “republic of Paris” in 1871 was socialist the rest of France had nothing to fear from the capital – quite the reverse in modern Western Liberal Democracy. The smothering of local cultures via an ethnocentric capital is something expressly opposed in Socialist Democracy.

In order to forestall incorrect anarchists about Marx, we should note his recognition of the need for centralisation. “The centralisation of government, required by modern society, rises only upon the ruins of the military and bureaucratic governmental machinery that was forged in contrast to feudalism.” (emphasis mine)

Above all the Commune represents what neoliberalism requires: armed rule is what keeps Western Liberal Democracy going.

We would do well to remember that Engels believed the biggest mistake of The Commune was to not attack the real heart of Western Liberal Democracy: its Bankocracy.

“The hardest thing to understand is certainly the holy awe with which they remained standing respectfully outside the gates of the Bank of France. This was also a serious political mistake. The bank in the hands of the Commune – this would have been worth more than 10,000 hostages. It would have meant the pressure of the whole of the French bourgeoisie on the Versailles government in favor of peace with the Commune.”

At Tahrir Square in Egypt I saw that the first place protesters went to was the television media centre: The main problem is not persuasion, but financial – the people will always admit that Western Liberal Democracy has failed. They should have taken over the banks, just as the Western invaders of Libya knew – they looted the authoritarian form of Islamic Socialism of so much gold that it’s been called the “biggest heist in the world”.

The Commune ends nearly 100 years of French leadership of progressive politics, as Russia and Eastern Europe would take the reins in the next generation.

What started with the Paris Commune would be bookended in 1936 with the Spanish Civil War. Spain was a non-wartime, legal and national Paris Commune, but neoliberal and neo-imperial Western Liberal Democracy chose war just like in 1871.

Understanding the 1930s, an era as shrouded in Western propaganda as 1789-1917, is the only way to understand post-Great Recession politics. This is truly, Where the West is stuck: The fascism of the 1930s and the ‘fascism’ of the 2020s.

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Upcoming chapter list of the brand-new content in France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. The book will also include previous writings from 2018 through the 2022 election in order to provide the most complete historical record of the Yellow Vests anywhere. What value!

Publication date: June 1, 2022.

Pre-orders of the paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the Kindle version may be made here.

Pre-orders of the French paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the French Kindle version may be made here.

Chapter List of the new content

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV 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 ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

Le Pen-Macron: finally, a vote where the people can decide if it’s war or not

April 13, 2022

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By Ramin Mazaheri

From 1792 to 1815 there were not one but seven “Coalition Wars” which involved most of Europe. It’s an era which should be properly termed the “7 European Wars Against the French Revolution”. Think the average European was thrilled about gutting their own economies – for 23 years! – in order to get involved in what was truly a civil war in a faraway land?

Even in England, the only nation which participated in every coalition fighting for counter-revolution, there were popular protests to finally end belligerence, and they occurred long before the start of France’s “Continental Blockade” against England’s intractable monarchists. Objections of unjust meddling in the sovereign affairs of another nation were even finally raised in England’s oligarchical parliament. It was all to no avail, because back then foreign policy was entirely decided in the royal courts of Europe. War went on, regardless of popular objections.

It’s not any different today.

The West still goes to war despite public opinion because the process is still dominated by the choices of the elite.

So it’s quite in line with historical trends: In 2022 the average European is being told to gut their economy for years in order to sanction Russia over the unrest in Ukraine, and of course there is no vote on this warmongering foreign policy. Europe’s leaders – usually working with the approval of actual royals – blithely tell their subjects to let them wear sweaters if heat has become too expensive.

Foreign policy is something which Western democracy has no tools with which to bring it under the aegis of the people. It relies on politicians which are willing to cede to public opinion. If that makes Europeans shudder, it should: The European Union is infamous for its constant disregarding of public opinion. Indeed, this is the primary political leitmotif since the Great Recession began.

Thus the upcoming 2nd round vote in France is so historically rare and valuable in that voters know if they pick one side war will continue – as sanctions (blockade) are an act of war – and if they pick another then war is likely to be averted.

Poll show the Macron-Le Pen race is a dead heat all of a sudden. It has surged from irrelevance to importance so quickly that major historical trends and institutions may topple so quickly that the royal courts of today cannot act quickly enough to stop it.

I believe the decisions French voters will make will come down to this: After a Great Recession, and an Era of Austerity, and the Yellow Vest Civil War era, and the Coronavirus Era… do you want a Russian Sanctions Era to gut – mentally, socially and economically – your already gutted standard of living?

It’s not just voting with your pocketbook and your national passport – it’s also voting with unprecedented foreign policy heft.

Macron on Ukraine – the straw that breaks the French voter’s back

Le Pen has opposed sanctions on Russia since 2014. She knows that those sanctions have had very tough effects on French farmers.b

Given the war hysteria she has no choice but to be in favor of some sanctions on Russia but she’s emphatic that they cannot include energy, and that includes coal, because of the impact it will have on French households. Last month in European Parliament she was one of the few dissenting votes on a resolution which called for a “total and immediate” embargo on all Russian energy imports.

“The only thing I don’t want is sanctions on raw materials which will have heavy consequences on the French and on the rest of the world, ” she said.

Throughout the campaign she’s accused the other candidates of not caring about the effect of sanctions on the average person, and these accusations will only grow louder when pointed solely at Macron.

“I do not want the French to commit hara-kiri on the grounds of sanctions decided by our leaders and which would not relate to the daily life of our compatriots,” she said in mid-March.

Last week she went much further:

“We have another choice. In reality, all the sanctions that have been put on the table and decided today are sanctions that have been designed to protect the interests of the financial markets and the real war profiteers,” she said. “All these sanctions are hitting our companies and individuals.”

What Ukraine has done is to drastically redefine Le Pen’s “M la France” 2022 slogan (M – aime – la France, get it?): it’s gone from being one of national identity to household solvency, and while still retaining the “national sovereignty” theme of 2017.

Frankly, it’s incredible: the European Union just can’t help but make sovereignty – either national or popular – the underlying issue of France’s elections. In 2012 Francois Hollande was going to end Germanic-imposed austerity, and in 2017 Le Pen was going to hold a Frexit vote within 6 months of her victory. “This election is also a referendum on Europe”, recently said Emmanuel Macron, because the EU is so unworkable and so resented that its existence is constantly called into question.

Le Pen has abandoned her 2017 Frexit vote stance even though recent polls showed 2 out of 3 French people were favourable to holding a vote on Frexit. It’s just too easy to caricature.

But as I wrote – ‘Remaining in the EU means peace’ – Ukraine explodes that Bourgeois Bloc idea. Endless Russia sanctions over Ukraine has discredited this Europhile bloc which is the base of Macron – they can afford to pay the knock-on inflation effects of years of Russia sanctions but the average voter cannot.

In a France which has had a series of chaotic eras I predict the threat of Ukraine spillover will primarily drive French voters. It’s a need for protection, and Le Pen is playing to exactly this need: “My obsession is to protect the French. I don’t want them to lose their jobs, to find themselves unable to heat their homes, feed themselves or drive to work.”

I had hoped that the French would realise Macron simply has to go: based on his record he should be totally discredited. If one has any respect for democracy they’d elect a ham sandwich before they’d re-elect Macron. I had hoped that French voters would realise that the arguments of 2017 were kaput: Macron proved to be more authoritarian than Le Pen could ever get away with, and almost as xenophobic. Ukraine has not replaced these ideas – it will hopefully be the coup de grâce which brings down lofty, arrogant, autocratic Macron.

It’s certainly not 2017 for 5 reasons:

  1. Macron is now the “mainstream”: In the 2017 second round this was the primary reason Macron’s voters said they voted for him – to sweep out the corrupt mainstream. The second reason was to block Le Pen, and the third reason (24%) was Macron’s actual policies and personality. We see from the first round vote total that he has barely been able to persuade anyone to his side. This is because:
  2. Macron has a record now: He’s not the neophyte Rothschild banker on whom you could project your unrealistic hopes. It’s an awful record, too: neoliberalism, authoritarian repression, autocratic style of governance, setting the record for ministers ousted for corruption just halfway into his term. This means that:
  3. Nobody will be duped by his “centrism”: This is something I warned of constantly in 2017. His neoliberalism implied far-right economics and a far-right style of governance, and it turns out he was even more willing to legalise Islamophobia than his two predecessors. The absurd and failed Trump- and Brexit-style PFAXIsm (Popular Front Against Xenophobia but for Imperialism) which was based on Macron’s alleged centrism simply will not work as effectively as it did in 2017. What’s more, people do not fear the alleged political extremes because:
  4. The Trump effect – he showed who the real extremists are: In France’s 2017 election Trump had only been in office for less than four months. Fear-mongering that dangerous politicians were going to start World War III was rife, and this had a major effect on the French voter back then. Five years later we know that if World War III is going to be started it’s by mainstream politicians and in:
  5. Ukraine: Want years of energy-caused penury? Want war to possibly spread to French borders? Then vote Macron. It’s not something he can hide from at all. Expect him to deflect and deflect on this issue until the debate, which is truly when the election will be decided.

The difference between Trump and Le Pen, so far, is this: Trump actually wanted it. After their debate in 2017 I wrote Le Pen clowns at debate instead of taking anti-austerity seriously because her behavior made it clear she didn’t care if she lost or won. Trump clowned mainly after taking office – he never stepped up and took on the Deep State – but he was a true competitor, at least.

Le Pen is learning from the failure of the now-retired leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon, who ran 3rd: she is courting the Yellow Vests, promising to install “RICs”, or citizen-initiated referendums. This was a top-3 demand of the Yellow Vests, and even the most important demand for some. I think many have put way to much emphasis on this – Switzerland has it and it’s hardly a democratic game-changer – but it will sway many Vesters to join her.

And joining Le Pen is something they do not want to do: The Yellow Vest program was the most similar to Melenchon’s, and the second candidate I heard them talk about the most was the (pseudo-) outsider Eric Zemmour. They are not Le Pen fans at all. People who haven’t set their boots in France for a long time may not realise that not only is Le Pen viewed by many as “mainstream” but that there is also a huge antipathy to the National Front in general.

If old people are voting for Macron in 2022 it’s because of this longstanding antipathy. Back when he expected an easy victory Macron gallingly and arrogantly promised to raise the retirement age to 65 this fall – he’s backtracking now, but this could prove to have been a fatal mistake.

The Yellow Vests emphatically reject Le Pen, but what can you do? Macron and Le Pen are the choices, and Macron has proven that he refuses to govern by consensus and only by autocracy.

The only alternatives are abstention (expected to be the highest since 2002, and around 30%), or a blank/spoiled ballot (expected to be a record, around 15%). Add the numbers – the true turnout will thus be around 55%.

Assuming every one of Macron’s 27.8% of first round voters turns out, that leaves 27.2% – it’s a dead heat, but all the trends clearly favor Le Pen. I crunched the numbers: she’ll gain a few hundred thousand more votes than Macron from those who voted for a losing first round candidate. It’s a dead heat there too.

Le Pen said at her first post-first round press conference: “By ferociously repressing popular protest movements like the Yellow Vests or social movements like the demonstrations against pension reform, Emmanuel Macron has installed the idea that nothing can be debatable, amendable, reformable.”

If you can quote the rules you can follow them – Le Pen is thus the “hope” candidate. Contrarily, a Yellow Vest at Macron’s campaign HQ (where I reported from on the night of Round 1) would have been immediately arrested.

These issues within French domestic politics have not become secondary to Ukraine – Ukraine has simply added to Macron’s obvious lack of democratic and patriotic bonafides.

The West can’t have both – war in Ukraine and Macron re-elected.


Louis-Napoleon: The revolutionary difference between Bonapartism & Western Liberal Democracy

April 11, 2022

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Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV 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 ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

by Ramin Mazaheri

(This is the fifth chapter in a new book, France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. Please click here for the article which announces this book and explains its goals.)

For Marx all of society was divided into classes – classes which played political roles. What’s unfortunate is that he fundamentally believed that the average rural person – 85% of mid-19th century France – was incapable of playing a political role. It’s a major blind spot which seems to defy common sense, but it was actually a common mistake back then.

It’s a common mistake even now: Rejecting the part played by the rural voters continues to be a 175-year problem for Western leftists.

Yes, in 1848 Marx was a working socialist who was going to fight, write and lobby for socialism – and denigrate all the other parties vying for influence in the new 2nd Republic (1848-52) – but in 2022 we can see that his disregard for the rural masses was also a major factor in his rejection (and rather slandering) of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, who was elected France’s first president in 1848.

In the previous chapter I noted how two crucial facts are always left out of any discussion of the 2nd Republic and Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte’s coup against the legislative branch (and subsequent establishment of the 2nd Empire: 1852-70):

1) the legislative branch voted to subordinate the 1848 constitution to the majority will of parliament – thus they made a coup against the people’s constitution, and 2) the legislative branch gutted 1848’s progressive advance of instituting universal male suffrage, thus they made a coup against the people and millions of new voters. Thus, it is the oligarchical parliament which made the first coup – the Bonapartist coup was a reaction to these outrages. Critically, it was approved in a referendum so large it was then the world’s largest referendum.

The simplest definition of “Bonapartism” is accepted as, “A political movement associated with authoritarian rule, usually by a military leader, supported by a popular mandate.” Of course I am not arguing for Bonapartism being progressive in the 21st century, but from 1799-1870 the Bonapartes were the only elected chief executives in Europe, and that certainly was progressive! The failure is in obscuring the Bonapartes’ historical context and judging solely by 21st century standards – which is ludicrous and dooms us to never understanding history and repeating the same mistakes.

Without embracing the will of a mainly rural French electorate intent on keeping the spirits of 1848 and 1789 not just alive but actually partially implemented via their election of the Bonapartes, we are stuck with siding with awful absolute monarchs or awful Liberal Democrats. It’s unfortunate that France has never selected Socialist Democracy, but that doesn’t mean Bonapartism wasn’t an advance over the other two.

By denigrating both Bonapartes leftists agree with conservatives that not only was 1848 a failure everywhere including the one place it reportedly succeeded – France – but that the French Revolution was a failure as well. This forces us to lose the thread of political history: moving away from unelected, theocratic autocracy and towards greater self-empowerment and democracy.

So, Marx got Louis-Bonaparte all wrong. He’s not as thrilling as his uncle, but he should no longer be portrayed as the “farce” in Marx’s famous history repeated as farce idea from his essay The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.

What’s farcical is that people keep championing ruinous, repugnant Western Liberal Democracy even though it was voted out after just three years in France.

From Burke to Marx to ‘deplorable’ Brexiteers & Yellow Vests – both left and right have been biased against rural people

Marx’s Brumaire, a title which referred back to the similarly bloodless and similarly voter-ratified coup of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1799, clearly tried to obscure crucial truths: He waited until the absolute end of his famous essay to explain that Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte’s elevation to emperor was democratically approved and justifiably rests on his insistence on 1848’s unprecedented implementation of universal male suffrage.

(Louis-Napoleon) Bonaparte represents an economic class, and that most numerous in the commonweal of France – the Allotment Farmer. As the Bourbons (ousted 1815) are the dynasty of large landed property, as the Orleans are the dynasty of money, so are the Bonapartes the dynasty of the farmer, i.e. of the French masses. Not the Bonaparte who threw himself at the feet of the bourgeois parliament (as Marx notes Louis-Napoleon did repeatedly from his election in 1848), but the Bonaparte who swept away (made a coup against) the bourgeois parliament is the elect of this farmer class. For three years the cities had succeeded in falsifying the meaning of the election of December 10 (1848, Louis-Napoleon’s election as president), and in cheating the former out of the restoration of the Empire. The election of December 10, 1848, is not carried out until the ‘coup d’etat’ of December 2, 1851.”

Marx asserts what the Yellow Vests assert and what this book asserts: the parliaments of Western Liberal Democracy refuse to implement the will of the average voter, and we have known this since at least 1848.

Marx’s vital analysis of democratic denial by parliament only comes after scores of pages of denigrating Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte as personally unfit for office. However, 175 years later, we can see it clearly right there: Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte partially confirmed the people’s victory of 1848 just as Napoleon Bonapartism partially confirmed the people’s victory of 1789 – both upheld the democratic will and opposed oligarchs.

The “allotment farmer” is the rural proletariat, whether they own their own small holdings or are sharecroppers. 1789 broke up the large estates of the church and created these small holdings, which was really the main economic blow to end French feudalism. It is facile to falsely slander the land redistribution post-1789 as something which only profited the richer peasants and professionals, because as the Revolution went on poor peasants were undoubtedly buying land. By the turn of the century 70% of land buyers were peasants and only 30% were noblemen, dealers, merchants and lawyers. Even if poor peasants could never afford their own land the French Revolution’s ending of tithe, seigniorial dues and primogeniture represented an enormous leftist leap for the lives of all peasants. One shouldn’t have to be a Maoist to grasp that finally giving peasants property and economic freedoms at the expense of the elite and an elite-infested clergy was a spectacular advance in its day. To not see all this as historical progress – even if not ideal – from feudalism is to lose the thread completely. In order to maintain it French farmers used arms, then the guillotine, then votes. The fear of a return to feudalism – especially in the context of a total failure of the 1848 Revolutions everywhere else across Europe – was a real, regular fear for the French peasant in the 2nd Republic.

Marx continues, and it’s clear that he sees the formally feudal masses as being incapable of embracing socialism; of a need for an urban vanguard party; that he could be describing the Yellow Vests 170 years later:

“The allotment farmers are an immense mass, whose individual members live in identical conditions, without, however, entering into manifold relations of one another. Their method of production isolates them from one another, instead of drawing them into mutual intercourse. In so far as millions of families live under economic conditions that separate their mode of life, their interests and their culture from those of the other classes, and that place them in an attitude hostile toward the latter, they constitute a class; in so far as there exists only a local connection among these farmers, a connection which the individuality and exclusiveness of their interests prevent from generating among them any unity of interest, national connections and political organisation, they do not constitute a class.”

If rural farmers – in the breadbasket of Western Europe and in Europe’s then-richest and most politically advanced country – cannot constitute a political class (even with a vote for the males, even!) then Marx necessarily sees French politics as limited to urbanites and non-farmers. It’s an incredibly English-influenced view of politics: suffrage would be excluded for Britain’s agricultural workers until as late as 1884, until the Representation of the People Act. We see that the rural-urban divide in the Anglophone world, and their view that ruralites are second-class citizens who should be excluded from politics, is not since Brexit or the Yellow Vests but extends deep into the roots of even Socialist Democracy.

Yellow Vest: “What we have in common is that we share a feeling of injustice, about climate, about fiscal, about work. They are making laws about retirement, unemployed people, everything – so there is a lot of different people here today, but what we all have in common is a feeling of injustice.”

(Note: this book intersperses over 100 quotations taken from actual, marching Yellow Vests which were originally published in news reports on PressTV.)

Marx continues: “Consequently, they are unable to assert their class interests in their own name, be it by a parliament or by convention. They cannot represent one another, they must be represented. Their representative must at the same time appear as their master, as an authority over them, as an unlimited governmental power, that protects them from above, bestows rain and sunshine upon them. Accordingly, the political influence of the allotment farmer finds its ultimate expression in an Executive power that subjugates the commonweal to its own autocratic will.”

Because around 85% of France is incapable of political action (even with a vote for males!) for Marx, and only appreciates absolute autocrats (Then why did they fight for the French Revolution! Then why have Chinese farmers embraced a vast Party?!), then the only alternative is for political life be limited to a vanguard party drawn from urban classes. This urban snobbery is still rampant today across both sides of the spectrum, but the left rarely examines this “acceptable” prejudice they often display.

However, we need to stress that Marx was not at all alone. Edmund Burke, the father of modern conservatism, shared the same incorrectly dim view of rural political capabilities as Marx. Interestingly, Burke also wrote in his Reflections on the Revolution in France that this new Western Liberal Democracy would perpetually depend on those classes which oppress the rural masses. He notes that it would be dominated by what I have often written about: not a vanguard class inspired by Socialist Democracy but Bankocracy.

“The whole of the power obtained by this (France’s 1789) revolution will settle in the towns among the burghers and the monied director who lead them. The landed gentleman, the yeoman, and the peasant have, none of them, habits or inclinations or experience which can lead them to any share in this sole source of power and influence now left in France. The very nature of a country life, the very nature of landed property, in all the occupations, and all the pleasures they afford, render combination and arrangement (the sole way of procuring and exerting influence) in a manner impossible amongst country people. Combine them by all the art you can, and all the industry, they are always dissolving into individuality. Anything in the nature of incorporation is almost impracticable amongst them. Hope, fear, alarm, jealousy, the ephemerous tale that does its business and dies in a day – all these things which are the reins and spurs by which leaders check or urge the minds of followers are not easily employed, or hardly at all, amongst scattered people. They assemble, they are, they act with the utmost difficulty and at the greatest charge. Their efforts, if they can be commenced, cannot be sustained. They cannot proceed systematically.

It is obvious that in the towns all things which conspire against the country gentleman come in favor of the money managers and director. In towns combination is natural. The habits of burghers, their occupations, their diversion, their business, their idleness continually brings them into mutual contact. Their figures and their vices are sociable; they are always in garrison; and they come embodied and half disciplined into the hands of those who mean to form them for civil or military action.

All these considerations leave no doubt on my mind that, if this monster of a constitution can continue, France will be wholly governed by the agitators in corporations, by societies in the towns, formed of directors of assignats, and trustees for the sale of church lands, attorneys, agents, money jobbers, speculators and adventurers, composing an ignoble oligarchy founded on the destruction of the the crown, the nobility and the people. Here are all the deceitful dreams and lies of the equality and rights of men.”

They are always in garrison… a sycophant, yes, but Burke was also a great writer. He also foresaw that Western Liberal Democracy was going to culminate in an “ignoble oligarchy” formed of “agitators in corporations”, land speculators, “attorneys, agents, money jobbers, speculators and adventurers”. Who today would not admit that this is what it is?

What Burke failed to foresee is that Marx, Lenin, Russia, China, Cuba, Iran and others would create new systems which would wrest control from both monarchs and this group – which rules along with monarchs in Western Liberal Democracies – and give it to the masses.

So Marx was not alone in thinking that the rural masses are difficult to wrangle into politics, but the weekly roundabout protest and the Facebook page – where freedom of assembly and speech/writing are enjoyed (or at least they were at one point in the internet’s history) – has definitely ended the isolation of the rural class. This class, which was created by 1789 let’s recall, had to wait a very long time to challenge the capital’s death-grip on governance. What is the capital’s 21st century response? To both accuse this rural class of racism while at the same time promoting mainstream politicians who have explicitly pushed imperialist racism.

In 1852 socialism was not sufficiently developed. Ruralites understandably turned to Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte after just 3 years of trying out bourgeois Western Liberal Democracy – the alternative was a return to feudalism, autocracy and the total death of 1789.

“The rooted thought of the Nephew becomes a reality because it coincided with the rooted thought of the most numerous class among the French.”

Marx was right to champion socialism, but 175 years later we can champion Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte for his popular democratic legitimacy, something which Marx knew, but refused to grudgingly champion:

If the bourgeois have no values at all, then not only does liberalism have no values but neither does the first years after 1789

Also coming at the end of his analysis, Marx has rather tossed in this defense of half the country.

“But this should be well understood: The Bonaparte dynasty does not represent the revolutionary, it represents the conservative farmer; it does not represent the farmer who presses beyond his own economic conditions, his little allotment of land, it represents him rather who would confirm these conditions; it does not represent the rural population, that, thanks to its own inherent energy, wishes, jointly with the cities to overthrow the old older. It represents, on the contrary, the rural population that, hide-bound in the old order, seeks to see itself, together with its allotments, saved and favoured by the ghost of the Empire.”

Yet Marx is wrong all over the place, in this effort to portray Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte as the candidate of only the far-right farmer. Marx is wrong about who was a “conservative”: Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte was elected at a time when royalism was dominant across Europe and still a major part of France’s own political spectrum. To imagine that in 1848 all of France’s farmers had been converted to republicanism/anti-monarchism is certainly false – there were still plenty of royalist farmers, and they are the true conservatives. Furthermore, Marx is implying that farmers who want to preserve the gains of 1789 (which is hardly an “old order”) but are skeptical of 1848 are hidebound reactionaries even though this farmer and his family are the only ones to have thrown off the chains of autocratic feudalism in all of Europe. It’s tortuous logic, indeed.

What Marx failed to admit here is that the desire to hold on to a little allotment, at a time when Anglo-Germanic-Russian autocracy offered only continued feudalism, contains plenty of socialist revolutionary sentiment. It’s surprising that Marx fails to admit this, because in the Communist Manifesto Marx is clearly not against the property of the allotment farmer: “The distinguishing feature of Communism is not the abolition of property generally, but the abolition of bourgeois property. … Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society; all that it does is to deprive him of the power to subjugate the labour of others by means of such appropriations.”

Yet it’s clear: upholding 1789 was still a revolutionary act in 1848 Europe. I believe Marx was playing politics – he could not make a tactical support of Louis-Napoleon because he wanted the socialists to win.

Yellow Vest: “The Yellow Vests won’t stop until we get citizen-initiated referendums. We need some real democracy in our system, but the Yellow Vests can’t do it alone. I’m glad more help from other sectors is on the way next week.”

As in the previous chapter, Marx proves that Liberal Democracy does not even offer or defend the bourgeois rights of mere liberalism, but Marx goes too far in saying that the bourgeois have no virtues at all when compared to monarchists.

Marx differentiated between royal & bourgeois money and classes, but not between the differences between royal & bourgeois virtues

Marx views the rule of the bourgeois in the 2nd Republic as absolutely terrible, but it’s not really clear if he views them to be as absolutely terrible as monarchy: he truly hates them both. He also truly hates Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte. Marx is only on the side of socialism, which is fine, but he underestimates the non-royalists in how they reject the social order of the royalists, and this is a fundamental trend of history:

“All classes and parties joined hands in the (1848 uprising) June Days in a ‘Party of Order’ against the class of the proletariat, which was designated the ‘Party of Anarchy’, of Socialism, of Communism. They claimed to have ‘saved’ society against the ‘enemies of society’. They gave out the slogans of the old social order – ‘Property, family, religion, order’ – as the passwords for their army, and cried out to the counter-revolutionary crusaders: ‘In this sign thou wilt conquer!’”

I think we all get where Marx is coming from. He is also describing what the last chapter focused on: The February Revolution of 1848 was sold out over and over, culminating in the exclusion from power of all classes but the royalists, bourgeois wealth and the upper professionals.

But if we take a longer view of history we see that those were actually new slogans, as they come from a new liberalist republican mindset – those slogans are not the slogans of monarchy at all!

Autocratic monarchy doesn’t respect “property”: they confiscate and bestow at will. They don’t respect “family”: they enslaved your family, forced you to work in their self-glorifying projects and some had the right to rape your wife on your wedding night. They don’t respect righteous “religion” and good works: they conflate religion with praise of their person and total obedience to them, not God. They don’t respect “order”: the “order” in the mind of one king or queen, i.e. their despotism, is “disorder” to everyone else, as they live in fear of that one mind in charge.

Marx does not see that these 2nd Republic slogans have an actual force among liberalist republicans which was new in human history, even if their definition was misused by the royalists. Marx is making politics and thus was, fairly, more concerned with socialism winning power than delineating a progression of history.

In 2022 no socialist-inspired country is against “property”: it does certainly expropriates from the appropriator those goods which the public needs (i.e. electricity, transport, schools, hospitals, etc.). Socialism does not break up the “family”: it undoubtedly promotes the family with tax breaks for children, state-run nurseries, maternal and paternal leave, etc. Socialism is not against “religion”: the USSR proved that this was an immoral failure, and thus religion coexists in places like Cuba, Vietnam, Iran, etc. Socialism is not against “order”: it enforces an order based around equality, whereas the order of Western Liberal Democracy is based around the violence needed to prop up an oligarchy.

So the problem with the “Property, family, religion, order” upheld by Western Liberal Democracy is that these four things are of the conception held by a 1% who either champions or is still a part of the monarchical legacy, and not for and of the masses. Losing property to the 1%’s usury, losing family to the 1%’s hospital bills, losing religion to the 1%’s worship of individualistic sensation, losing order to the 1%’s idea of “slightly less despotism is offered by rule by our class” – this is not socialism, but it clearly is Western Liberal Democracy.

What the Party of Order did was subvert these ideals which liberalism and socialism, both born in 1789, agree are necessary. What they disagree is in the conception of them.

Where they agree is in a negative view of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte.

It’s notable that he is so contemptible to Marx yet his Louis-Napoleon’s enemies (François Guizot) said of his coup: “This is the complete and definitive triumph of socialism.” A reassessment of Marx’s animus is clearly needed to clearly understand “the nephew”.

Marx disliked Louis-Napoleon the way a working socialist politician today dislikes Donald Trump

Marx spends an inordinate amount of Brumaire both suppressing the role of the rural masses and elevating the importance of the urban areas, as I have noted. He also repeatedly condemns Louis-Napoleon as the president of the “slum-proletariat”, or what he calls the “La Boheme” social classes: people without merit and without any desire to acquire work skills, combined with pseudo-artistic types, outright criminals and addicts.

And yet Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte seemed to be a man after Marx’s own leftist-writer heart? Sadly, he had the fortune/misfortune of being a Bonaparte. Louis-Napoleon was the son of whom the Dutch called “Louis the Good” – Napoleon’s brother Louis, who headed French Revolutionary Netherlands.

Louis-Napoleon clearly saw his political ideology as perpetuating the middle-of-the-road revolutionary path of Napoleon Bonaparte, which is based around ideas that government exists to serve the masses, stability while implementing progressive political changes, and a healthy and not jingoistic patriotism. A fuller, uncredited definition is: A popular national leader confirmed by popular election, above party politics, promoting equality, progress, and social change, with a belief in religion as an adjunct to the State, a belief that the central authority can transform society, a belief in the “nation” and its glory and a fundamental belief in national unity. I note that Iran’s revolutionary concept of what I term a “supreme leader branch” shares a lot of these characteristics.

Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte’s path was quite similar to his uncle’s, and with similar conflicts – he started as a revolutionary republican, fighting Teutonic autocracy in Italy. But his personal attempts at revolution – himself at the head of a Bonapartist revolt – landed him in prison. It’s there that he starts to be much like a Marx – a widely-read socio-economic historian of a leftist variety. An major part of his 1848 electoral popularity is based on his works like The Extinction of Pauperism, which reveal his concern with the general good of the average French person – this puts him in stark contrast with the royalists and elite seated in the 2nd Republic’s first National Assembly in 1849. His philosophy is ultimately not socialism but Bonapartism, with himself obviously at the head – and for this Marx cannot ally with him.

However, equating Bonapartism with absolute monarchism or unelected authoritarianism is as foolish as it was in the era of Napoleon Bonparte. It also cannot be equated with Western Liberal Democracy.

I would like to ask Marx: How bad can Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte be when on October 10, 1851, he announces plans to restore universal suffrage and on October 16 his executive cabinet resigns over it? Marx commented:

Marx quotes Louis Napoleon, who concludes with a perfect analysis of the 1849-51 rule of Western Liberal Democracy, but still with no credit from Marx. I think it’s precisely because he, like so many Western leftists and unlike so many modern Muslim leftists, totally forgets the influence of monarchism:

“With such unhoped for successes, I am justified to repeat how great the French republic would be if she were only allowed to pursue her real interests and reform her institutions, instead of being constantly disturbed in this by demagogues, on one side, and on the other, by monarchic hallucinations. The monarchic hallucinations hamper all progress and all serious departments of industry. Instead of progress we have struggle only. Men, formerly the most zealous supporters of royal authority and prerogative become the partisans of a convention that has no purpose other than to weaken an authority that is born of universal suffrage. We see men who have suffered most from the (1848) revolution and complained bitterest of it proving a new one for the sole purpose of putting fetters on the will of the nation.” (emphasis mine)

Modern Iranians certainly know what it means to be disturbed by “monarchic hallucinations”. Marx failed to appreciate Louis-Napoleon’s railing against the royalist threat even though that is exactly what the average voter in France (a farmer) wanted to hear, because a return to feudalism was horrible to them and quite a real danger. Nor did he appreciate the average voter’s the brand-new goal: ending the self-interested oligarchy which is Western Liberal Democracy.

Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte is an advance in global political history because he is against the total domination of the bourgeois, here in the form of a parliamentary republic, which ended universal suffrage and which dominated in many ways more thoroughly than in absolute autocracy as Marx himself said.

Like his uncle, Louis Napoleon is far from a perfect political hero, but he is no Western Liberal Democrat, nor is he an absolute monarch, nor does he disbelieve in the ideals of 1789 – for that they elected them emperor.

What’s needed in 2022 is not a new emperor, but the reforms which make representative democracy truly representative across the West, and an ousting of all royal/aristocratic/technocratic “hallucinations” of their supposed superiority over people like the Yellow Vests.

Yellow Vests: “Yes, there are many Yellow Vests who are poor and unemployed, but there are countless Yellow Vests who have stable jobs. We are all together regardless of our ethnic or religious background, because the Yellow Vests are the true representative of a united France.”

Appreciating Bonapartism over Western Liberal Democracy isn’t being blind to its failures

Marx’s recap of the historic vote approving Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte’s self-coup here, which admits that his primary electoral support was the democratic mass:

“Suffice it here to say that it was a reaction of the farmers’ class, who had been expected to pay the costs of the February (1848) revolution against the other classes of the nation: it was a reaction of the country against the city. It met with great favor among the soldiers, to whom the republicans of the ‘National’ (a bourgeois republican newspaper – started by Adolphe Thiers) had brought neither fame nor funds; among the great bourgeoisie who hailed Bonaparte as a bridge to the monarchy; and among the proletarians and small traders, who hailed him as a scourge to Cavaignac. I shall later have occasion to enter closer into the relation of the farmers to the French revolution.”

I began this chapter where Marx concluded – the relation of the farmers to French politics.

At the end of the previous chapter I stressed the importance of Western Liberal Democracy’s first imperialist strongman, Louis-Eugène Cavaignac. He went from being the governor of Algeria to leading the repression of urbanites (“proletarians”) in the June Days of 1848, and thus was despised. The army’s rank and file was full of lower-class men who lacked better job offers precisely because the elites who would staff the 2nd Republic’s unicameral parliament abolished the National Workshops, a fundamental demand of the the revolution, which is what then set off the June Days uprising. So of course they approved of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte and opposed the warmongering Cavaignac, probably just as the rank-and-file Western soldier probably opposed Afghanistan, Iraq, Mali, Indochine, Korea, the Falklands, etc. and etc.).

What Marx wants to stress, necessarily, is that Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte was allied with both the rural masses as well as the new rich bourgeois. It’s the same failing of “the uncle”: neither were sincere Jacobins, i.e. socialists; it’s the same virtue – opposing the royalists.

“I have already indicated that, since the entry of Fould (a banker representing the stock exchange) in the Ministry that portion of the commercial bourgeoisie that had enjoyed the lion’s share in Louis Philippe’s reign, to wit, the aristocracy of finance, had become Bonapartist. Fould not only represented Bonaparte’s interests at the Bourse, he represented also the interests of the Bourse with Bonaparte.”

Marx also relates that this new “aristocracy of finance” had also grown to include government bonds – i.e the taxes and money of the people – which remain the lynchpin of the Western economic capitalist system today. The French stock exchange wasn’t until Napoleon Bonaparte – it was a new and slowly growing leviathan, and by 1848 it was able to leave the Bourbons and Orleanists behind.

Marx is relating how by 1851 the financial-industrial-imperialist wealth which had backed the House of Orleans coup in the 1830 Revolution (commonly referred to as the July Revolution) had continued to grow in power to the point where many broke free from the Orleanists to back Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte. These two groups worked together, with the rural masses, to push out the Bourbons and the Orleanist monarchical autocrats out of power once and for all.

(I did not cover it in this book, but the July Revolution is often called the Trois Glorieuses in French (“Three Glorious [Days]”). Both terms are less descriptive and more purposely opaque than a contemporary term: the Second French Revolution, as it inspired revolutions in Italy, Poland, the Netherlands and led to the independence of Belgium. The political advance of the July Revolution was slight: replacing the ultra-royalist Charter of 1814, which provided a short bill of rights within a strong monarchy, similar to the UK, with the Charter of 1830, which barely expanded suffrage and loosened press controls. Popular dissatisfaction with the July Monarchy was constant, producing a week of revolution in 1832 (the June Rebellion of 1832/Paris Uprising of 1832), which was the subject of Hugo’s Les Miserables, and then the Revolution of 1848.)

Vitally, Marx believes the experience of the 2nd Republic proved to one and all that Western Liberal Democracy was a total failure, and thus they, too, approved of the self-coup! This is an entirely rational conclusion drawn from his experiences of the time, and in concordance with class warfare – the new royalists + bourgeoisie simply wanted to get back to business, and Western Liberal Democracy was not yet skilled enough to efficiently aid the oligarchy:

“It (the leaders of the “bourgeois republic”) declared unmistakably that it longed to be rid of its own political rule, in order to escape the troubles and dangers of ruling.”

So Marx reported that Western Liberal Democracy went down without a fight.

Marx quotes The Economist from Feb 1851 on Louis-Napoleon’s coup: “Now we have it stated from numerous quarters that France wishes above all things for repose. The president declares it in his message to the Legislative (National) Assembly; it is echoed from the tribune; it is asserted in the journals; it is announced from the pulpit; it is demonstrated by the sensitiveness of the public funds at the least prospect of disturbance, and their firmness the instant it is made manifest that the Executive is far superior in wisdom and power to the factious ex-officials of all former governments.” (emphasis mine)

France was becoming a modern Bankocracy, but royalist hallucinations were slowing this down.

From The Economist in November 1851: “The President is now recognised as the guardian of order on every Stock Exchange of Europe.”

Like in 1799 a Bonaparte was going to win democratic approval by finding a propertied ally against the royalists. In 1799 it was those whose profited from the sale of the assignats – in 1851 it was those who profited from industrial-financial-imperialist wealth. In both cases the peasants and proletariat supported the Bonapartists, even if Marx claims that only the slum-proletariat (and thus not the honest workers and artisans) supported “the nephew”.

Thus the essence of Louis-Napoleon is similar to his uncle’s: A France advancing politically too far ahead of the rest of Europe in 1848 and garnering total enmity, thus acquiescing to only a moderate revolution by 1852. The compromise gives the average Frenchmen unparalleled rights but with a price of not neutering a new, usurious aristocracy.

Thus we now have the essence of Louis-Napoleon: one half is the righteous rejector of Western Liberal Democracy (a parliamentary bourgeois republic) and unelected monarchy in favor of universal suffrage, but the other half is a refusal to tax the wealthy, prohibit the usurious methods of the new financial class against the recently-propertied allotment farmers, resume the National Workshops (which would have reduced the power of the industrial class), or confiscate the wealth of the landed royalists – all the things which 1917, 1949, 1959 and 1979 would do.

Because Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte did not stop the financial oligarchy this happened, Marx wrote in 1871:

“The Second Empire had more than doubled the national debt, and plunged all the large towns into heavy municipal debts. The war had fearfully swelled the liabilities, and mercilessly ravaged the resources of the nation. To complete the ruin, the Prussian Shylock was there with his bond for the keep of half a million of his solders on French soil, his indemnity for 5 billions, and interest at 5 percent on the unpaid instalments thereof. Who was to pay the bill? It was only by the violent overthrow of the (Paris Commune) republic that the appropriators of wealth could hope to shift on to the shoulders of its producers the cost of a war which they, the appropriators, had themselves originated. Thus, the immense ruin of France spurred on these patriotic representatives of land and capital, under the very eyes and patronage of the invader, to graft upon the foreign war a civil war – a slaveholders’ rebellion.”

That is a stunning historical passage which sums up much in 1871, and is addressed in the next chapter on the Paris Commune.

It’s about knowing the real enemies – it is not the Bonapartes

This chapter requires so much Marx because the birth of Western Liberal Democracy was such a rapid failure that it appears complicated. With Marx’s tremendous journalism its lifecycle was made clear.

Facing a reign of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte and the rural will, the socialist Marx writes:

“All the same, the revolution is thoroughgoing. It still is on its passage through purgatory. It does its work methodically. Down to December 2, 1851, it (the revolution) had fulfilled one-half of its programme, it now fulfils the other half. It first ripens the power of the Legislature into fullest maturity in order to be able to overthrow it. Now that it has accomplished that the revolution proceeds to ripen the power of the Executive into equal maturity; it reduces this power to its purest expression; isolates it; places it before itself as the sole subject for reproof in order to concentrate against it all the revolutionary forces of destruction.”

Marx understood what many have covered up: Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte expressed and achieved the total failure of the legislative branch in Western Liberal Democracy – your faith in Congress or the National Assembly or the Parliament of the United Kingdom is a total waste.

We see the reason that Western Liberal Democracy does not wish to remember the 2nd Republic – it was a total failure which saw parliament commit coups agains the constitution and the voters. It took an elected emperor to preserve the progressive idea of expanding democracy. Western Liberal Democracy hasn’t politically allied with the average person from its very beginning.

That passage also reveals Marx’s slandering of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte – he is “the sole subject for reproof” left. For Marx elite English parliamentarianism and been totally discredited – all that was left to do was to discredit the monarchical executive.

Yellow Vests: “People are angry because Macron has only represented just the interests of the rich class, billionaires and the bankers. Last year alone 500,000 more people fell under the poverty line in France, which is a direct result of Macron’s policies.”

Marx, as we will see with Trotsky, believed passionately that monarchy and Liberal Democracy had discredited itself – they were both right, but not enough agree with them. Who knows how many Emmanuel Macrons it will take?

It would take nearly 20 years, not just 3, for Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte to discredit himself and to be replaced by the Socialist Democracy of the Paris Commune.

Louis-Napoleon Bonparte’s real virtue is that he was fighting with the people against the dominant part of the oligarchy – the Bourbons and Orleanists, with all their accumulated wealth and influence. Of course Macron, the “president of the rich”, only fights against the people – he is totally bourgeois, and thus likes any and all rich people.

Macron is thus not like Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, and surely he never aimed to be such a populist. Macron more resembles the key figure from 1871, Adolphe Thiers, who also colluded with foreign powers to weaken France. But that is for the next chapter.

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Upcoming chapter list of the brand-new content in France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. The book will also include previous writings from 2018 through the 2022 election in order to provide the most complete historical record of the Yellow Vests anywhere. What value!

Publication date: June 1, 2022.

Pre-orders of the paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the Kindle version may be made here.

Pre-orders of the French paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the French Kindle version may be made here.

Chapter List of the new content

French Muslims betrayed by ‘centrist’ Macron as Le Pen surges to a dead heat

April 10, 2022

by Ramin Mazaheri and cross-posted with PressTV

In 2017 two out of three French voters were on the side of the nation’s Muslim citizens – for two weeks.

In between the first and second round presidential vote the incredible repression which Marine Le Pen was going to wage on Muslims was constantly cited as a reason to vote for Emmanuel Macron, who was presented as a “centrist”.

As the largest Muslim country in Europe the Muslim vote matters: In 2012 French Muslims decided the election. More than 2 million Muslim voters voted for Francois Hollande to the tune of 93% against Nicolas Sarkozy. Hollande prevailed by just 1.1 million votes, or a 51.6% to 48.4% margin.

Hollande immediately sold out the Muslim vote by refusing to take a zero-tolerance approach to Sarkozy’s inauguration of France’s normalisation of Islamophobia.

The start of open attacks on Islam with Sarkozy has only backfired in every way, because since his election polls show that French Muslims have only gotten more devout in their practices. The reason is obvious: the constant accusations that Islam is bad pushes French Muslims to look more closely at their religion – they do, and they realise how wonderful Islam is, thus they become more devout.

For France’s non-Muslims it has tragically backfired as well. Many in France don’t realise that the insulting Islamophobia, which results in humiliating domestic oppression, comes on top of two centuries of colonial and neo-colonial domination, plus foreign wars in places like Mali, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. Seemingly every Muslim attacker in France since 2008 who wasn’t clearly insane cited France’s wars in Mali and Syria, specifically, as justification for their attacks.

Hollande manipulated the attacks to gain approval for state-sponsored Islamophobia, which became his trusty “Islamo-diversion” tactic to deflect from his unpopular enforcing of far-right economic austerity. In his tenure some 4,000 warrantless raids on Muslim homes, mosques and properties only led to six suspicions of terrorism. The handful of the court cases were won, and I cannot unearth even one conviction from Hollande-era raids.

France’s fake-left assumed they have the Muslim constituency in their back pocket in 2012. In 2017 the threat of the National Front forced them into Macron’s camp. 2022 is a changed place.

Many French Muslims have told me they will do what was unthinkable to them previously – vote for the National Front (now rebranded as the “National Rally) in the second round.

Why the change? The insidious deception that Macron is a “centrist” and not a willing manipulator of Islamophobia has been totally disproven – the lower class and the Muslim class have paid the price for five years.

Sarkozy brought French Islamophobia into the mainstream, Hollande got it approved, but Macron institutionalised it. Macron took Hollande’s multiyear state of emergency and legalised it, with Muslims the clear targets and practically the only victims. Only the Yellow Vests and a small number of leftist and environmental activists have ever been impacted.

From not apologising for various massacres and atrocities against Algerians, to keeping Europe’s oldest political prisoner and the “Arab Nelson Mandela” Georges Ibrahim Abdallah in prison, to falsely and shamefully enacting legislation which equates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, to a “cyber-hate bill” which targets pro-Palestinians and Yellow Vests – Macron did very little in the past five years which did anything but hurt Muslims.

Have Islamophobic acts increased during the Macron era? We don’t know – Macron forced the closure of the French Collective Against Islamophobia, seemingly the only and certainly the best Muslim NGO committed to tracking this problem.

His so-called “anti-separatist law” of 2021 was the definite legalisation of Islamophobia, and was so heavy-handed even the United Nations and English-media widely criticised it. It tried to ban the hijab for minors and clearly violated constitutional protections for the freedom of association, worship and politics. In recent months nearly 100 mosques have recently been raided by the government, with at least two dozen shut down so far. (Who says Macron doesn’t care about far-right voters?)

Just this week a new report from Reuters came out: The mosque closures were based merely on “secretive evidence” which violate the right to fair trial and equality before the law. “Secretive” is simply another word for “false”, of course.

As his record clearly now proves, Macron is on the far-right economically (austerity and neoliberalism), politically (with his repression of the Yellow Vests), in his governance style (it’s a completely top-down style befitting a monarch and not an elected public servant who must listen to others and compromise) but also culturally – he’s Islamophobic.

The error is exactly as I wrote in 2017 – in agreeing with the Mainstream Media’s insistence that Macron was a “centrist”. The past five years proves he is authoritarian, pro-economic inequality, and Islamophobic.

Much like with the absolutely brutal repression of the Yellow Vests – Marine Le Pen would have never gotten away with half of the Islamophobia Macron did. People would have been on guard from the day she took office – similar to the response to Donald Trump’s election in the United States. A Le Pen victory would have sparked organised progressive resistance groups – something like a George Floyd response or #MeToo but à la française.

The handful of French media oligarchs who decided to give a political neophyte (he was previously a Rothschild banker) like Macron such glowing press coverage in the run-up to the 2017 election also decided to hand the 2022 election campaign agenda to convicted racist Eric Zemmour. The reason? Primarily this was done to spit the far-right vote for Sunday’s first round vote, but Zemmour also aids Macron by making Macron look more falsely “centrist”. Look at his record – Macron needs that assistance.

Making Islamophobia the 2022 election’s primary campaign issue will backfire – record abstention is widely predicted. It’s actually good news in this way: Islamophobia may still propel French politicians but the French people are bored by it – they wanted to go back to discussing real issues.

A very recent poll actually has Marine Le Pen beating Macron 50.5% to 49.5%. Other recent polls have her just 3 points down from Macron – that’s within the margin of error, and thus it’s a dead-heat. Her Hungarian “right-nationalist” counterpart just won a huge victory even though polls predicted a much tighter contest. French polling agencies are not just staffed by politicians – the biggest one is owned by a politician. Thus the odds of a 2nd round win by Le Pen seem much, much higher than many claimed in the previous months.

A Le Pen victory will be no picnic for France’s Muslims but at least everyone will be on guard against her. Macron, foolishly, was given a huge leash, and he went so far against Muslims that he broke the chain.

But mostly, France’s Muslims will do what a record number of French people will likely do: tune out the mainstream media hate factory and not vote. Abstention will hurt France’s left wing candidate – Jean-Luc Melenchon, who opposed the anti-separatism bill – but in France even the left wing is often as Islamophobic as the right wing.

One thing is certain: the alleged “centrist” Macron was no solution for France’s anti-Muslim problems.

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List of articles covering the 2022 French elections.

Please check out my new book France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values, which is being published for free in chapter-by-chapter format.

Catastrophe since 2017: How to cover France’s presidential election? – November 22, 2021

Le Monde’s circus invite: ‘France is a leftist country which votes right’ – January 27, 2022

Le Pen now wants in the euro & no Frexit – should the Left want her in? – February 2, 2022

France’s conservatives cry out for National Socialism – Zemmour’s response? – February 10, 2022

Islamophobia didn’t interest French voters – war hysteria will? – March 14, 2022

France apathetic about politics? Has corona gutted voter energy, or Macron? – March 31, 2022

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. His new book is ‘France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values’. He is also the author of ‘ Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

The ‘Counter-Revolutions of 1848’ stillborn child: Western Liberal Democracy

April 07, 2022

Source

by Ramin Mazaheri

(This is the fourth chapter in a new book, France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. Please click here for the article which announces this book and explains its goals.)

The primary cause of the Revolutions of 1848 was the fact that it took 50 years for the sociopolitical ideas of the French Revolution to spread in a Europe dominated by autocratic monarchs. That’s how radical 1789 was, and how slow political history moves.

The secondary cause was the economic changes caused by the refusal to end feudal mindsets anywhere in Europe but in France, and amid the start of industrialisation. 1789 had changed all Europeans, but all monarchs – including the two dynasties in post-Napoleonic France – refused to govern according to the entirely new needs and demands of their citizens. It’s expressed in the primary slogan of 1848, “Bread and work, or lead!”

The primary result of the 1848 Revolutions was total failure everywhere but France. 1848 provided new upheavals to replace Europe’s memories of the Seven European Wars Against the French Revolution (1792-1815), and what replaced them was even worse absolute monarchies. Political gatherings and demonstrations were outlawed, censorship was not just rampant but total – in short, all European political life was back to where it was in 1847: underground, publicly nonexistent and ruthlessly repressed. There was no revolution – an accurate reading of European history would call this period the “Counter-Revolutions of 1848”.

So why isn’t it called that? For the same reason behind this long historical preface before an analysis of the achievements of the Yellow Vests: Western mainstream history and education is a catastrophe of elite bias and propaganda.

The secondary result of the Revolutions of 1848 was the very first establishment, and immediate popular rejection, of what we can finally start calling Western Liberal Democracy. It would last just three years before a coup against it was popularly approved 11 to 1 in what was then the largest democratic vote ever in history. It took just three years for Western Liberal Democracy to prove to voters its total, eternal inability to care for the masses and not for an elitist oligarchy.

This chapter will make that conclusion perfectly clear not only because we have 175 years of hindsight, but because we have the world-shattering journalism and analysis of one Karl H. Marx. His on-the-ground analysis of the actions of 1848 would shape politics for over a century, and inspire both true socialists and socialists-turned-fascists into breaking with Western Liberal Democracy.

Napoleon always draws the crowds – his nephew? Few even know he had one who was important. In between Napoleon’s demise and World War One there is an abyss of historical understanding in the West. In fact, they are instructed to not think of this era as significant at all – this chapter hopes to explain why.

Marx on France: The only country that mattered in 1848… and 1849

Simply look at the results:

Italy carried the torch of 1789 the most. After initially giving false hope, the Pope openly said that the Papacy could not be the leader of a unified Italian state. His refusal to mix religion and politics, even in a country which was so overwhelmingly of the same religion, was a major error. After 1848 the Papacy became totally anti-liberal, anti-national and supportive of absolutist regimes.

Hungary gave up after their ethnic-based revolt failed to take root – unsurprisingly – with the rest of the extremely multiethnic Hapsburg empire. Indeed, many seem to think that Germanic racial elitism was founded by Adolf Hitler?

Revolutionary France had ended the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, but the autocratic Hapsburgs held on after 1848 – the counter-revolutionary victory was primarily theirs… it’s a common theme.

Tsarist Russia was not affected by 1848. They would, in large part to keep Prussia weak, prop up their Austrian autocratic brethren.

Just like in the aftermath of Russia’s 1917 success, and the 1930s, and the Great Recession, Germany totally disappointed. The Germans were especially brutal in repressing their revolutions, and it would require World War One to finally end German despotism, at least in the monarchical form.

Yellow Vest: “We were so numerous in the beginning, but when people began to see how violent and ferocious the government repressed the Yellow Vests, then many got too scared to protest. The government did everything they could to make us disappear, just so they can govern us according to their selfish whims.”

(Note: this book intersperses over 100 quotations taken from actual, marching Yellow Vests which were originally published in news reports on PressTV.)

The broad outline of what happened across Europe in the year of 1848 is simply this: The nouveau riche, professional, and managerial classes were always quite content with mere liberal reformism, which was opposed by the monarchists. Those three groups initially allied with the artisans and students to push back against Anglo-Germanic-Russian enforced absolutism and repression. When this “bourgeois” triumvirate got the mild reformism they wanted (i.e. rights for themselves) these “liberal reformists” would no longer support the artisans and students – of course they never wanted to ally for long with the peasants and proletariat. They instead supported repression of the artisans, students and lower classes, and thus we have the Counter-Revolutions of 1848. These liberal reformers never wanted a revolution, but merely a bill of rights for rich people against autocratic monarchy. As all mere reformists do, they refused to incarcerate, confiscate or execute the counter-revolutionaries, and thus the counter-revolution won, as it always will when facing half-hearted reformism. 1848 stands as proof that the alleged heroes of liberalist reformism are actually right-wingers opposed to actual democracy.

The tertiary result of 1848 was the growth of nationalism, but rarely pointed out in the Anglo-Saxon world is that this nationalism was required to expel Anglo-Germanic theocratic autocrats. We certainly can’t blame the French revolutionaries who departed decades ago, but after planting the seed of anti-feudalism, anti-monarchism and patriotic pride. The rebellions across Europe were against the poor governance of the aristocratic oligarchies who had colluded to wipe out 1789. Some leftists see this rise of nationalism as a bad thing, but they have totally lost the thread.

1848 addressed the “political question”, of how governance should be arranged, and everywhere but France failed to install something which anyone could call “progressive”. Furthermore, France’s revolutionary victory also allowed for the first political discussions of the “social question” – how shall we transfer socially from feudal monarchy: liberal capitalism or socialism? – to be addressed and fought out in their new political structure. At least it was assumed at the start of 1848 that this would be a fair fight!

It took France 33 years (the length of a human generation), from the fall of Napoleon until 1848, for the French to get rid of an unelected executive – once again they were alone in this achievement. Universal (male) suffrage was also spectacularly achieved for the first time, as was the founding of a “right to work”. While all other Europeans gave up achieving any move away from pathetic monarchy France founded the 2nd Republic.

French history from the fall of Napoleon, and thus the end of the French Revolution, until 1848 can be quickly summarised: In 1815 Napoleon was imprisoned on St. Helena, and the Bourbons returned after having fled, again. The Bourbons only ruled until 1830, when Louis Philippe I of the House of Orleans was installed during that year’s “July Revolution”. For France 1848 was the result of 18 years of awful neglect from the Orleanists, who cared only about bleeding the country dry at the behest of the burgeoning financial elite, as it was this “bourgeois” who helped push the House of Orleans into power. 1848 deposed the House of Orleans, and France looked forward this new system we term “Western Liberal Democracy” – they would be disappointed.

In a country with universal male suffrage you would think the new parliament would endeavour to represent the interests of the masses, no? If so, you misunderstand who Western Liberal Democracy aims to serve. Marx summarised the Second Republic thusly, and according to his ideas of political progression: “Under the bourgeois monarchy of Louis Philippe only the bourgeois republic could follow; that is to say, a limited portion of the bourgeoisie, having (from 1830-48) ruled under the name of the king, now the whole bourgeoisie was to rule under the name of the people.

Western Liberal Democracy inevitably turns out that way, but the revolutionaries of 1848 had certainly expected some power and wealth to be devolved to them. In a truly post-feudal France former serfs now had higher opinions of their value to society, their right to earn bread to eat, wanted the necessary stability provided by central planning, social welfare, etc. However, while the souls of the French serfs had grown, the power of the new financial-oriented class had grown at a usurious rate! This is thanks to the start of industrialisation, but also to the usurious abuses of the serfs-turned-sharecroppers. I say “start of industrialisation” because at the time of Napoleon the average workshop had just four workers and the only large businesses were arms manufacturers – not so 30 years later.

As the short-lived 2nd Republic progressed it became clear that this new form of governance was only there to benefit the old landed royalists, the post-1492 corporate trading enterprises and these new “bourgeois” industrialists and rentiers. The 2nd Republic is the start of when powers began to slowly stop being royal and start being monetary powers – when power became corporatised. This is what makes 1848 France so vital to understanding the 21st century.

Yellow Vests: “Our system has become totally rotten. They make the laws to suit their own needs, or the needs of corporations, and they have done nothing to resolve the huge problems of the average person. This is why the Yellow Vests will keep marching in the streets.”

It took the French three years to learn this, then to clear a path for 1848’s popularly-elected president to bloodlessly abolish the always-oligarchical parliament of Western Liberal Democracy. That president was Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, the nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, whose father was Louis “the Good” Bonaparte, who was appointed King of Holland in 1806 in a failed bid to make the Batavian Republic less subject to monarchical attacks.

The above analysis which condemns Western Liberal Democracy is why this chapter is needed: The mainstream historical analysis of 1848-52 France places way too much emphasis on economic changes – i.e. the industrial revolution – and the alleged dictatorship of a guy who was elected because stupid French hillbillies thought an elderly Napoleon had broken free from St. Helena. This faulty analysis exists because it allows for the sidestepping of what actually happened politically: the mismanagement of France’s first Western Liberal Democrats, their obvious bias against the bottom 90%, and the eventual rejection of this form of governance which only entrenched inequality and created regular crises.

On the social level what they were pushing for in 1848, but what the 2nd Republic failed to legislate, is what postwar Europe looks like! The revolutionaries of 1848 were proven right, and that can’t be disproven.

1848-1948 was an awful century for the European masses, but also the masses everywhere else – European imperialism created the tragedies, famines and inequalities which literally moulded a new “Third World”: prior to 1848 a peasant in Europe was in the same socioeconomic condition as a peasant in India, China, Latin America, etc.

Yellow Vest: “The movement will hold firm in the future. It will not disappear because their demands are so very solid and true. There are real reasons for a revolution in France, and we will always continue to play our part.”

Learning how the 1848 Revolution got off-track in the country where it had its greatest success is a major key to understanding governments of today, because it is this form of government which has ultimately prevailed despite instant and lasting popular disapproval!

Thus, the ‘Counter-Revolutions of 1848’, indeed.

Marx’s genius: tying together 1848 and 1789, which is the only way to understand 1848

There are three critical contributions Marx made to the understanding of France’s 1848-52 period. They are so critical because they illustrate how Western Liberal Democracy starts with fake-leftism and ends in oligarchy over and over and over. It should be considered quite important that the complaints of the 2nd Republic are the exact same as the ones heard today!

Firstly, Marx condensed the economic evolution of France in a time when society and economics were changing rapidly even without the complications of a successful 1848 revolution. He laid out how class economic interests twisted the 2nd Republic into something which nobody who was actually at the barricades would have fought for.

Shortly after the February Revolution of 1848 forced the abdication of the House of Orleans the “June Days” uprising scared the royalists and bourgeois republicans (i.e. anti-monarchists) to unite into the “Party of Order”. The Bourbons – who represented the power of landed property, the oldest basis of money – finally ended their royal squabbles with the Orleanists – who were installed to defend the increased power of nouveau riche industrial/financial property. This new unity is what Marx meant by writing, “…landed property has become completely bourgeois through the development of modern society.” Gone were disputes of old or nouveau – it was just riche versus poor. Thus, 1848 in France is the birth of modern class warfare – and the rich started it!

Secondly, Marx condensed what actually took place in the hectic few years after the 1848 Revolution, which culminated in the popular vote which sanctioned the coup of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte against the unicameral National Assembly. Marx’s charted the lifecycle of this new political structure, and how it discredited itself via the same oligarchical flaws which are eternally apparent in this system.

Thirdly, Marx showed how the new professional politicians, doctors, small-town lawyers, bank managers and other professional-types, who are the cadres in this new Western Liberal Democracy, joined with the richer categories of wealth (royalist, usurious, landed wealth and financial, means-of-production wealth) to engage in a style of governance which put all their own interests first and demonised the interests of anyone else as “socialism!”. Yes, as epitomised in the awful politics of the United States 175 years later, Marx was flabbergasted to see even calls for the most basic reforms and moves to reduce inequality tarred as “evil socialism” at the very first implementation of Western Liberal Democracy. Marx goes even further to permanently indict Liberal Democracy as being far inferior to Social Democracy. This is an old debate, and it should have been decided in the latter’s favor by 1852 France.

By succinctly condensing – in just the one paragraph below – Marx’s summary of the events from 1848 to the voter-backed coup of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte in 1852, all three historical contributions will be made clear.

An uprising truly led by the people (i.e. a popular revolution) in February 1848 forced out King Louis Philippe of the Orleanists, but the modern leftist demands of the people would be betrayed by June. The people’s hopes for a “Democratic and Social Republic” were sold out by the Social Democrats, mostly the small traders who were content with cementing the unprecedented achievement of universal male suffrage. However, the Social Democrats were soon sold out by the bourgeois republicans – those richer cadres of Western Liberal Democracy – who don’t really want universal suffrage but merely liberal rights for the upper class only. However, the republican bourgeois are sold out by the “Party of Order” coalition in parliament, half of which still wants a royalist restoration and the other half of which wants a republic but cares not much for liberal rights, and especially universal suffrage. This faction prevails and eventually guts universal suffrage, and votes the subordination of the constitution to the majority decisions of the parliament – i.e. a true legislative coup against the people. Good news! After three years of inefficiency, grandstanding and state-sponsored looting of the country’s natural, social and labor resources the “Party of Order” is sold out by the Bonapartist party – the National Assembly is dissolved, and what is restored is a Bonapartist idea of a popularly-elected emperor who puts the will and good of the nation first.

This is why Marx famously wrote his opening lines in The 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon (18th Brumaire is the French revolutionary calendar date for the coup of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1799of history repeating itself as farce: instead of the revolution trending upwards in the first several years with leftist successes, as in 1789-94, a similar time period in 1848 sees sees failure. “Accordingly, the revolution moves on a downward line. It finds itself in this retreating motion before the last February-barricade is kicked away.… ”

Having condensed Marx’s timeline of 1848, his comparison with the timeline of 1789 will be especially illuminating of both 1789 and 1848. This book does not dissect the pre-Napoleonic events of 1789-94, in large part because they have been perfectly analysed by Marx in one paragraph. I include in parenthetical my explanations of key 1789 terms/parties which may not be fully known by the average reader (Marx is in bold)

In the first French revolution, upon the reign of the Constitutionalists (i.e., the start of the French Revolution via forcing the king to accept a constitution and to renounce total autocracy. Napoleon Bonaparte’s commitment to constitutionalism is precisely what made him a true political revolutionary of his day.) is succeeded by the Girondins (Truly the early martyrs of today’s Western Liberal Democrats. Most were from the department of Gironde, home of France’s slave-trade capital – Bordeaux -, and were committed to the free market, decentralisation and imperialist war. It’s decapitating them which Westerners call the “Reign of Terror”, precisely because neo-Girondins are what still rule in the West in the modern era. Napoleon Bonaparte clearly supported the Jacobins’ right to govern, fought against these rebels for years, was friends with Augustin Robespierre, etc.) and upon the reign of the Girondins follows that of the Jacobins. Each of these parties rests upon its more advanced element. … Just the reverse in 1848.”

It’s clear why outside of France the “Revolutions of 1848” are such a failure, but why is the French Revolution of 1848 such a failure for Marx? It’s because he was so very anti-Bonapartist. Marx was living in Paris during this era, after all, so we can understand his bias – we, however, do not. In 2022 it seems like a major mistake which loses the thread of political history: moving away from autocracy. I’ll deeply criticise his overly-strong condemnation of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte in the next chapter, but what’s needed first is his analysis of France from 1848-52 – it’s critical because it is so reminiscent of Western politics today!

Both revolutionary eras fought against the very same political principle: autocracy, anti-democracy and the rule of an aristocratic elite. The Yellow Vest fight in the exact same way, even if the autocracy is only slightly less barbaric, although you should tell that to one of the many mutilated Yellow Vests.

What happened to France’s progressive revolution of 1848, then? Western Liberal Democracy happened!

The short answer is that Marx places the blame for the failure of 1848 on the half-revolutionary actions of France’s left wing in 1848, as well as the role played by Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte.

In the above section I related in one paragraph Marx’s summary of the events from 1848 to the popular coup of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte. A bit more information is needed on the major political events in between that start and finish.

The February Revolution of 1848 re-ended monarchy, but April’s voting results saw the new constituent (temporary) Assembly filled with royalists, elite and professionals who did not incarnate the socialistic demands which had propelled the popular revolution: the opposition to free markets and the demand for government works to create jobs. National Workshops had been immediately created in 1848 in order to fulfil the “right to work” and thus introduce governmental central planning into the economy.

So one should imagine the hundreds of thousands of workers now trying to ply a trade in Paris while, concurrently, the new temporary parliament to draw up a new constitution is full of capitalistic Western Liberal Democrats. Naturally, the people saw they were getting left behind. On May 15 a leftist demonstration entered and dissolved this temporary National Assembly. The National Guard – which had always played the decisive role in French revolutionary affairs – sided against the protesters. The ardent republicans and protest leaders were arrested; a banker would be installed as the new Paris Chief of Police; a lawyer would now head the restored Assembly.

In June the conservative National Assembly announced that the National Workshops would be closed, and the newly-unemployed workers could either join the army or go back home to the provinces – this sparked the June Days uprising. We see here how Western Liberal Democracy is never – not from it’s very earliest days – going to allow anything but an “invisible hand” to guide the economy, and also that imperialist war (which is not at all revolutionary war) is its primary answer to the economic question. Over 10,000 people were massacred, or 60% as many as were guillotined during the “Reign of Terror” (but without any trial). It also marks the last time French Catholic clergy tried to play a role in elections: The Archbishop of Paris literally entered into the Paris street fray as a mediator – he was shot, almost certainly by the conservative forces. The popular revolution was thus ended: death, prison and exile to Algeria for the leftists.

Yet the trader-class Social Democrats did not condemn the repression – they threw their weight behind November’s Constitution of 1848, which granted universal male suffrage. Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte was elected in December, and like his uncle he took a middle-of-the-road pro-revolutionary approach: he was neither like the leftist socialist candidates, nor the anti-socialist/pro-republican army chief who led the June Days repression, nor a liberalist lawyer. Marx was unwilling to reconcile with Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, who was also a leftist writer – his most famous book was the pro-working class The Extinction of Pauperism, which undoubtedly helps explain his massive victory.

After Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte was elected 1850-onwards was an ineffective and nation-destroying combat between the executive and the legislative branch:

The legislative branch – as it will always do for the next 175 years – lost all popular support by rejecting to represent the populace and not just the upper class. The popular, bloodless coup of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte would be deemed “fascism installed by country rednecks”, and Marx’s own analysis is very similar to that, sadly.

The executive branch – as it will always do for the next 175 years – would jealously fight to acquire as much autocratic, dictatorial powers as it could, and employ jingoistic, imperialist wars to win popular opinion while mostly advancing the needs of the elite.

It took only three years to realise such a system was unworkable, and yet is this not still the alleged apex of governmental structure and efficiency for Western Liberal Democrats of today?

Yellow Vest: “After three years nothing has changed, except for the fact that things have gotten even worse for the average French person. Life has gotten so much more expensive, but Macron doesn’t care. Macron doesn’t see the demands of the Yellow Vests, or even the French people, as worthy of his attention.”

Weak leftism against a strong executive – France has the same problem today

In May 1849 the first National Assembly of the 2nd Republic was officially seated. This Assembly would eventually go on to approve total non-support for any other popular revolution sweeping Europe; to ban the reborn Sans-Culottes and other political parties; similar to Macron today, they would end the longtime practice of the National Assembly hearing petitions from grassroots special interest groups.

Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte would immediately use foreign war to establish to the “Party of Order”, which had 64% of seats, that he, too, was a mighty man of (executive) “Order”. Even before the new parliament sat he violated the new constitution’s prohibition of military interference in the freedom of other nations by bombarding Rome to prop up an exiled Pope. This was at the expense of the nascent but doomed Roman Republic, which did not have popular support – it would have been nice if the Marxists had won, but it just wasn’t possible until 1917. This does not make either Bonaparte the equivalent of an absolute monarch, one must point out. France had arrived expected to be received as liberators, and also sought to prevent an invasion by Austria.

The opposition Mountain Party, with 26% of seats, who were republicans and neo-Jacobins, boldly voted to impeach Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, who had been elected by a whopping 75% landslide. Propping up the Pope was popular among the average person, and now France’s “left party” (though actually petit-bourgeois small traders and minor professionals) were taking on an extremely popular president?

What cannot be disputed is how ineffectually the Mountain Party fought their fight. Marx’s superb analysis will remind people of the halfhearted, non-revolutionary struggle of fake-leftist parties across Western Liberal Democracy. We should remember that Marx was living in Paris at this time. He surely must have hoped that the Mountain were genuine leftists – after all, “fake-leftism” in a Western Liberal Democratic context had not yet ever been seen!

Following the Mountain’s impeachment vote the unarmed protests of June 1849 were held. The National Guard was there – in uniform, but unarmed. This pacifistic decision was fatal: they had no way to defend themselves from the subsequent army attack. The demonstration ended in total failure – it was the last “Revolutionary Day” of the 2nd Republic – and there were no casualties. Marx writes: “The chief error of the ‘Mountain’ was its certainty of being victorious.” (emphasis his). I don’t think France has had an official “Revolutionary Day” since, and probably because most French don’t know this history either?

Marx saw that the real leftism had been chopped out of the Mountain by the June Days of 1848 and replaced with smug, ultimately conservative, sense of false certainty. He saw these fake-leftists were doomed precisely because they accepted Western Liberal Democratic terms:

“If the Mountain wished to win in parliament, it should not appeal to arms; if it called to arms in parliament, it should conduct itself in a parliamentary way in the street; if the friendly demonstration was meant seriously, it was silly not to foresee that it would meet with a warlike reception; if it was intended for actual war, it was rather original to lay aside the weapons with which war had to be conducted. But the revolutionary threats of the middle class and of their democratic representatives are mere attempts to frighten an adversary….”

This certainly describes France’s union-led demonstrations and the “walks in a park” which are other European Social Democrat-led demonstrations. This same entrapping logic is what the Yellow Vests are told to submit to and what they still so bravely faced down Saturday after Saturday.

Yellow Vests: “France is waking up. The government continues to accuse all of us of being Black Bloc or thugs to make the country turn against us. But we are all united to prevent the destruction of France, and this unity will continue to increase.”

The “superstitious spell” the National Guard had on the French imagination – i.e. its ability to sway the army to back the people and the elite – was crucially broken here. They would be suppressed under Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte and then banned at the start of the Third Republic in 1871, when Western Liberal Democrats would wrest back control from the Louis-Napoleon and the Bonapartists, who also existed in the interim between the two Bonpartes.

A clear difference between imperialist Liberal Democracy and anti-imperialist Social Democracy: the former clearly uses foreign war to gut the possibility of a marital spirit which would protect the rights of the people domestically. It also uses perpetual imperialist war to insist that such domestic rights are not convenient, and that such discussions certainly cannot involve anything but words.

The subsequent crackdown caused the remaining true leftist politicians, including many in the Mountain Party, and journalists to be arrested or go into exile – Marx went to London. With the real left gone the new Mountain Party was no opposition. The National Assembly embarked on a series of right-wing measures which turned everyone against them.

On June 13, 1848 they voted the subordination of the constitution to the majority decisions of the parliament – it was a coup against the constitutional rights of the people.

So, indeed, did the republic understand it, to-wit, that the bourgeois ruled here in parliamentary form, without, as in the monarchy, finding a check in the veto of the Executive power, or the liability of parliament to dissolution. It was a ‘parliamentary republic’, as Thiers styled it.”

Thus we see the true emergence of the unstated dream of Western Liberal Democracy: a country ruled by a parliament of the rich; an expansion of absolute monarchy to a tiny coterie of aristocratic elite.

The last straw would come on May 31, 1850, when the assembly would vote to drastically undermine universal suffrage by millions of voters. Marx wrote, “The law of May 31, 1850, was the ‘coup d’etat’ of the bourgeoisie.” Against the voters, he means.

Thus the first coup in the 2nd Republic was actually made by the parliamentarians and not Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte! Bonaparte would restore universal suffrage, to his great credit.

Those two crucial facts are always left out of any discussion of the 2nd Republic and Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte’s “self-coup” (a coup where a legally-elected executive dissolves the legislative branch). In 2022 they should drastically change our assessment of him, and break from Marx’s negative, rather biased view.

That requires the next chapter – Louis-Napoleon: Confirmation of the revolutionary difference between Bonapartism & Western Liberal Democracy.

From the beginning Western Liberal Democracy showed what it wanted: A country ruled by a parliament of and for the rich

Marx writes in summation of the political discussion permitted in the first Western Liberal Democracy:

“Whether the question was the right of petition or the duty on wine, the liberty of the press or free trade, clubs or municipal laws, protection of individual freedom or the regulation of national economy, the slogan returns ever again, the theme is monotonously the same, the verdict is ever ready and unchanged: Socialism! Even bourgeois liberalism is pronounced socialistic; socialistic, alike, is pronounced popular education; and likewise, socialistic national financial reform. It was socialistic to build a railroad where already a canal was; and it was socialistic to defend oneself with a stick when attacked with a sword.

This was not a mere form of speech, a fashion nor yet party tactics. The bourgeois receives correctly that all the weapons which it forged against feudalism thorn their edges against itself; that all the means of education which it brought forth rebel against its own civilisation; that all the gods which it made have fallen away from it. It understands that all its so-called citizens’ rights and progressive organs assail and menace its class rule, both in its social foundation and its political superstructure – consequently have become ‘socialistic’. It justly scents in this menace and assault the secret of Socialism, whose meaning and tendency it estimates more correctly than the spurious so-called Socialism is capable of estimating itself and which, consequently, is unable to understand how it is that the bourgeoisie obdurately shuts up its ears to it, alike whether it sentimentally whines about the sufferings of humanity; or announces in Christian style the millennium and universal brotherhood; or twaddles humanistically about the soul, culture and freedom; or doctrinally matches out a system of harmony and well-being for all classes. What, however, the bourgeoisie does not understand is the consequence that its own parliamentary regime, its own political reign, is also of necessity bound to fall under the general ban of ‘socialistic’. (Emphasis mine)

If you still believe in Liberal Democracy, may I suggest you read that again.

Not only does Marx show that Western Liberal Democracy refuses to protect the rights which Western Liberal Democracy claims to have created and to believe in, but that Western Liberal Democracy is a phoney “third way”: there is either socialism or autocracy/oligarchy/fascism.

“Accordingly, by now persecuting as Socialist what formerly it had celebrated as Liberal the bourgeoisie admits that its own interest orders it to raise itself above the danger of self government….” Western Liberal Democracy is not a resolution to class warfare, like Socialist Democracy claims to be, but the permanent institution of class warfare with the express goal of government by an elite.

“The parliamentary regime leaves everything to the decision of majorities – how can the large majorities beyond the parliament be expected not to wish to decide?” The parliamentarianism of Western Liberal Democracy is false and unrepresentative, culminating in rule by parties which are controlled by the elite. This is unlike the parliaments in Socialist Democracy, where cobblers become parliamentarians, as in Cuba’s 2018 legislative vote.

No wonder Western schools don’t want to discuss this era!

By examining the era of 1848-52 we see that Western Liberal Democracy totally discredited itself out of the gate, and that we have the same problems as we did 175 years ago: it is autocracy improved into aristocratic rule, but never popular rule. Western Liberal Democracy is so undemocratic that it is not even worthy of the moniker “Western Liberal Democracy”!

Thus the Revolution of 1848 in France was a success – ouster of an unelected king, universal male suffrage, installation of a new political system. It culminated in the 1852 referendum on Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte’s “self-coup” against parliament, and the replacement of the 2nd Republic with the 2nd Empire, to be headed by the new “Napoleon III”. It was approved by 97% of voters with 80% turnout. Over 8 million Frenchmen wanted to vote, and they only could in 19th century France by agreeing that the Bonapartist vision of the French Revolution was the only way to maintain the gains of the French Revolution amid a continent of absolute monarchy and failed revolutionaries AND by rejecting the Western Liberal Democracy of the 2nd Republic.

1848 succeed in France precisely because voters rejected Western Liberal Democracy entirely. Four years to figure it out is not so bad at all?

Thus the period between the 2nd and 3rd Republics is falsely slandered as being equivalent to all the other monarchies of the time. We have been through this before: we are talking about an elected Bonaparte, who naturally was detested by his autocratic contemporaries everywhere else in the region. History is repeated as farce in the modern leftist rejection of both Bonapartes, not in the difference between 1789 and 1848.

Without embracing the will of the inherently progressive French electorate – inherent because there was no other mass electorate at this time – and their eventual selection of the Bonapartes, we are stuck with siding with awful absolute monarchs or awful Liberal Democrats.

Absolute monarchy reigned long after 1848. The slighted Western Liberal Democrat, with all their arrogance, remained non-plussed, as Marx noted: “At all events the (social) democrat comes out of the disgraceful defeat as immaculate as he innocently went into it….” In 1871 the collusion of these two forces with Germany against both Social Democracy and Bonapartism/French Revolutionism led to the traitorous sieging of Paris (the Paris Commune) and then the restoration of Western Liberal Democracy, sadly.

However, in 2022 we must reject Marx’s condemnation and consider the Revolutions of 1848 a success in France. The preservation of universal male suffrage was a spectacular advance from the rest of Europe. This advance alone allows us to clearly see that the ideals of 1789 and the movement away from autocracy still progressed.

But 1848 was an advance for an even greater reason: it allowed the first implementation of modern Western Liberal Democracy… and its endemic flaws were immediately revealed. It became clear that Socialist Democracy was the only true solution – thus the Paris Commune – if one wants broad prosperity, stability and equality for the average person. Those who don’t realise that are stuck in a useless doom loop of 1849-52.

The rise of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte is not as thrilling as that of his uncle’s – the former merely came to power via the vote. He is a modern politician, with plenty of flaws, but the French at the time knew he was a progressive option compared to absolute monarchy or Western Liberal Democracy.

The Algeria section

Before we get into Marx’s failure to appreciate the achievements of France’s 1848 Revolution and the rule of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte in opposition to Western Liberal Democracy, we must briefly analyse Marx’s failure to take account of the role the conquest of Algeria played on the French mainland’s politics in 1848.

Marx’s focus was more on banking and industrial systems, instead of imperialism. It’s a significant omission: the treasures, resources and stolen wages of imperialism are enormous – we are talking of the gains of impoverishing an entire country. But where Marx really failed was in not noting the enormous political-cultural impact of being a coloniser.

What the events of 1848 proved, and which Marx failed to note, was how Western Liberal Democracy works hand in hand with militaristic imperialism to repress their nation’s own masses. This is an incredibly important analysis to take from 1848 because the French army went from being a Revolutionary Army in 1789 to an imperialist army in 1830.

The colonisation of Algeria was of an entirely different order than the colonisation of the New World, and we must delineate this difference: the colonisation of a Mediterranean space which saw Marseilles and Algiers socially interact for over two millennia is not at all the same thing as a (ignorant) Western perception of heathen savages who need to be converted. Yes, France had other imperialist domains but we cannot underestimate the power of French Algeria in French history from 1830 until today.

Algeria was invaded in 1830 to distract from and eventually legitimise the take-over by the House of Orleans, which ended the Bourbon Restoration since 1815 – this invasion happened at precisely the same time as the fall of Algiers. The finances and internal prestige of Louis Philippe I was enormously supplemented domestically by the occupation of Algeria. This new “imperialist class” was too ignored by Marx in the French events of 1848.

A proof of the political-cultural impact of this new “imperialist class” is found in the person of Louis-Eugène Cavaignac, who went directly from being governor of Algeria to quelling the June 1848 uprising. He was as vital a player in 1848 and beyond as anyone save Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, to whom he finished second in the 1848 presidential election. As Marx noted: “Cavaignac, the General of the bourgeois republican party, who commanded at the battle of June, stepped into the place of the Executive Committee with a sort of dictatorial power.” The election of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte in December would end this dictatorship, but not before the imperialist Cavaignac ruled over the drafting of the November constitution which gave the elite class ruling power over France. This is not a small thing!

The person of Cavaignac thus represents the new capitalist-imperialist rot which would turn against its own people, like a CRS riot cop who aimed his rubber bullet gun at the faces of Yellow Vests. Marx fails to emphasise that it is the imperialism against Muslim Algeria which provided this muscle to topple 1848. Or that the beloved National Guard was sapped by this imperialist deployment. Or that French culture had certainly become hardened by a war which was not waged at all for progressive revolution.

Romaric Godin, economics reporter at top French media Mediapart, in his book La guerre social en France (The Social War in France) recognised Cavaignac’s import (even if Godin does not recognise the importance of imperialism) as both a new type of politician and its clear parallel with Emmanuel Macron. Godin wrote: “Democratic authoritarianism is that of Cavaignac in 1848 and Adolphe Thiers (the future president of the 3rd Republic who colluded with Bismarck to siege Paris) of 1871: that which uses the entire legislative capacity to repress opposition. This sort of abuse is sanctioned by the law and thus is perfectly legal.”

Western Liberal Democracy actually begins with Cavaignac, who suppressed those calling for Socialist Democracy, the National Workshops and a role for the peasants and the proletariat in politics in June 1848. We can draw a straight line from him to Macron’s crushing of the Yellow Vests, and both men are garlanded by Western Liberal “Democracy”.

Indeed, more and more seem willing to call 21st century France “democratic authoritarianism”. Muslim Algerians knew it back in 1830, and by 1848 everyone knew that authoritarianism is what Western Liberal Democracy has always truly been.

<—>

Upcoming chapter list of the brand-new content in France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. The book will also include previous writings from 2018 through the 2022 election in order to provide the most complete historical record of the Yellow Vests anywhere. What value!

Publication date: June 1, 2022.

Pre-orders of the paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the Kindle version may be made here.

Pre-orders of the French paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the French Kindle version may be made here.

Chapter List of the new content

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV 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 ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

Modern political history makes no sense if Napoleon is not a leftist revolutionary

April 02, 2022

Source

By Ramin Mazaheri

“The peasant was a Bonapartist because the Great Revolution, with all its benefits to him, was, in his eyes, personified in Napoleon.” – Karl Marx

(This is the third chapter in a new book, France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. Please click here for the article which announces this book and explains its goals.)

To be against Napoleon Bonaparte in the 19th century was to totally reject grassroots, democratic French opinion, and thus to be against the French Revolution itself. It was to cede the view of Napoleon Bonaparte to his enemies: the English snob, an in-bred Austrian king, a colluding and traitorous Italian noble, a Hungarian aristocrat, etc.

Modern Western political history simply makes no sense – it loses the thread of expanding power away from the absolute ruler – if we do not take the view that Napoleon Bonaparte was a leftist, as his citizen contemporaries did. Making Napoleon a demon of bloodlust and ambition, just another fascistic military man, a secret reactionary, etc. – all is designed to obscure the importance of 1789 and to reverse it.

The willing desire to lose the thread of progressive history was especially evident in the awful reporting surrounding the 200th anniversary of his death, in 2021. The coverage in France was surprising sparse and can be summed up with three words: “tyrant” and “controversial legacy”. A fake-leftist, and thus totally deluded, view was routinely proffered, typified by state media France24’s article: “Napoleon: Military genius or sexist, slaving autocrat?”

The official anti-Napoleon smokescreen was personified by President Emmanuel Macron’s speech on the bicentenary, which ended with: “I have no intention to say if Napoleon realised or instead betrayed revolutionary values. I will of course steer clear of such territory.” Of course he will steer clear – Western Liberal Democrats always do, because they are the ones who work to ensure that the revolutionary values of 1789 are never realised.

Here is your simplest retort to those who accuse “tyrant”: Napoleon was voted First Consul for life and then emperor by millions of people, and the “voted” part is what made it these appointments spectacular political advances for its era. The other monarchs of this era were merely more unelected dictators. Secondly, his constitutions were also ratified by many millions – another spectacular leftist advance. These things simply cannot be dismissed because it would be more than a century before they would be emulated in most of Europe. The number of referendums on monarchy in global history only total a few dozen, and nearly all were after 1950.

Simply ask if the king of Saudi Arabia, Morocco or the behind-the-scenes monarchs of Europe would ever put themselves to a public vote? When it comes to the schism between the Muslim and Western worlds perhaps the single largest problem is that the latter totally forgets the violent threat, the crude insult, the perpetual crime which is hereditary monarchy. Because the West forgets this they also fatally misunderstand their own European history since 1789, and they fail to see Napoleon Bonaparte as a leftist hero.

Making Napoleon Bonaparte worse than his absolute monarch peers is a preposterous revision of history and totally excludes the political view of the European peasant and working class. Ask a subject who never voted for his monarch: There is no “controversial legacy”.

Yellow Vest: “We are here to protest against the abusive government and this kingship-presidency of Emmanuel Macron. The Yellow Vests are here to promote a true vision of democracy and to redistribute our nation’s wealth. Every election there is more and more abstention because people don’t believe in mainstream politics anymore.”

(Note: this book intersperses over 100 quotations taken from actual, marching Yellow Vests which were originally published in news reports on PressTV.)

What an objective view reveals is this: Revolutionary France saw not just one but seven “Coalition Wars” to restore monarchy, privilege, feudalism, torture, inequality, racism and the oppression of an aristocratic elite. From 1792-1815 Europe’s elite refused to make peace with the socio-political advances of the French Revolution, which the French people democratically chose again and again and again. England was the only nation which participated in every war, and it repeatedly paid off other nations to join them.

The simplest retort to those who call the French Revolution “imperialist” is this: The French Revolutionary Empire at its greatest height – in 1808 – was the result of defensive wars which it won. All the Empire’s territory was gained as punishment for aggressive wars against France or lost by rebelling populaces choosing to side with France, with the sole exception of Portugal. All seven Coalition Wars were attacks on France, all to prevent democracy from spreading across autocratic Europe.

The “Napoleonic Wars” have absolutely no reason to be set off from the more accurate “European Wars Against the French Revolution” unless that reason is obfuscation. This 23-year period must be looked at as a whole, because it wouldn’t have mattered if it was Napoleon in charge or not as long as the ideals of the French Revolution were being employed – the Revolution would have always been aggressed. Like Iran, Cuba and the USSR know, 23 years of military invention by royalists or Western Liberal Democrats to stifle progressive, anti-elite political systems is simply de rigeur.

This chapter is not a whitewashing of Napoleon Bonaparte, but a refusal to say that his entire revolutionary career from 1789 to 1815 should be judged on the basis of the last few years. Napoleon’s primary leftist and anti-revolutionary failure was his development of dynastic intentions. However, we are not taking about this turn to personal gain until 1810, when he married Marie-Louise, a princess of the Austrian Hapsburgs, the corrupt and wasteful absolute monarch ruler of most of the continent. In Napoleon: The Myth of the Savior, Jean Tulard, perhaps the pre-eminent French historian of this era (and not a pro-Napoleon one in my estimation) wrote, “On St. Helena, Napoleon, ‘brutally awakened from his dream of monarchic legitimacy’ confided that he should have married a French woman and, above all, not a princess. He saw clearly, but too late.” Napoleon’s error was in forgetting that he already enjoyed more leftist legitimacy than any monarch ever – he was the first to be voted in. The counter-revolutionary monarchs of everywhere else would never accept that because the French Revolution was – above all – against unsanctioned autocracy. Similarly, putting his brothers in charge of countries which willingly joined France was another leftist error in line with dynastic intentions, but this wasn’t really unpopular until the imposition of Joseph Bonaparte as King of Spain, who replaced the feudal Bourbons, in 1808. Napoleon himself said that one of his greatest mistakes was reintroducing the ranks of the nobility, also in 1808. The three criticisms here are all related – the restoration of elite privilege and hereditary oligarchy – but we would be inaccurate and unfair to not emphasise that this trend occurred two decades into Napoleon’s spectacularly successful revolutionary career!

Was Napoleon’s vision of the French Revolution that of the left of the Revolution, epitomised by Robespierre and the Jacobins? No, but calling a lifelong revolutionary soldier like Napoleon Bonaparte a “non-revolutionary” because he was not completely on the left side of the revolutionary spectrum is to absurdly say there is no “revolutionary political spectrum”. It is to say that the “revolutionary political spectrum” is the same as the non-revolutionary, typical “political spectrum”, in a total falsehood. It is to undemocratically excise the revolutionary viewpoints of his millions of comrades, and also of the democratic majority of his time. What is certain is that it is to reveal essentially no first-hand experience with any real revolution at all, as such a view of revolution is a fool’s fairy tale of pure idealism.

By distorting Napoleon – by saying that Elvis was always “fat Elvis” and never the king of rock and roll who shook the world – today’s 1% can keep 1789 totally dead. Napoleon is the key to keeping 1789 alive and continuing to implement its most progressive, leftist ideals.

It is simply astounding that the left doesn’t find so much to embrace in Napoleon Bonaparte. As much as I would like to write 10,000 words about Napoleon’s career in order to give a modern leftist appraisal, I simply do not want to alienate readers (and translators, LOL). I promise that I could. What I list before the conclusion section is only the absolutely critical facts of his political career which demonstrate his leftism.

The 1790s: Napoleon’s leftism was vetted over and over by the revolution

Prior to the Revolution Napoleon was born a minor noble in Corsica, putting him in the top 2% of France. However, being a minor noble in poor Corsica was to have title and little property – it’s not Burgundy. When half of France’s nobles exiled themselves over the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen Napoleon was already in the 1%. Napoleon Bonaparte – like Mao, Castro and others – was another leftist hero who defied the dominant view of his elite class.

Napoleon grew up in the aftermath of the repression of Corsica’s independence movement. The incredibly progressive Corsican Republic (1755-69) included a liberal constitution, the first implementation of female suffrage and was the first-ever practical application of the modern political ideas of people like Voltaire and Rousseau. France took control of the island, and they were a big improvement from the previous landlord, Genoa. When the French Revolution began Napoleon saw it as capable of bringing even more progress to Corsica. Thus Napoleon was one of the very first of many “foreigners” (he was born shortly after France took control of the island, and thus was truly French) to seek domination not by France but by the ideals of the French Revolution.

As the 1790s went by Napoleon was obviously vetted over and over by the Revolution. In 1793, Napoleon was friendly with none other than Augustin Robespierre, Maximilien “The Irreproachable” Robespierre’s brother, who surely would have sniffed out someone not committed to the ideals of 1789. When the brothers were executed in 1794, marking the end of the leftist Jacobin era and the start of the Directorate era (1794-99), the Directorate tried to get him to quit by downgrading him to the infantry.

Lucky for them Napoleon refused to leave: in Paris on October 5, 1795, he would save the Revolution from a major royalist revolt using what was the undoubted foundation of his military genius – his knowledge of new artillery technology.

He became a national hero, and thus the Directorate spied on him to check for dangerous traits. Their spying general wrote back to the Directorate: “It is a mistake to think he is a party man. He belongs neither to the royalists, who slander him, nor to the anarchists, whom he dislikes. He has only one guide – the Constitution.” Facts: Robespierre was anything but an anarchist, and being a constitutionalist in Europe in 1796 made one a revolutionary. Failure to accept this will create misperceptions which will extend to misunderstandings of our present day.

Confidence renewed, the Directorate gave Napoleon command of the Army of the Alps. He started by immediately court-martialling two of his soldiers for shouting “long live the king”.

Of course the Italians and others embraced the revolution being offered by France’s peasant army! In liberated lands we find the same actions of the French Revolutionaries: feudal dues and tithes abolished, Jews not forced to wear the star of David and Muslims no longer second-class citizens, the first uncensored newspapers allowed to open, slavery abolished, the first constitutions legalised. Keep all that in mind the next time you read of how Napoleon “enslaved Europe” – such total reversals of reality are only used for the truly great leftist leaders. It was so popular ex-Papal states petitioned to join the new Cisalpine Republic. “In annexed countries teaching was allowed to keep its own identity; French did not become an obligatory second language, there was no attempt to destroy the soul of conquered provinces,” writes Tulard. The French Revolution, itself intensely patriotic, fostered patriotism elsewhere – this would be called “nationalism” and is part of the reason the French were eventually forced out in annexed countries, ironically.

The great man-ism inherent in Western Liberal Democracy wants to talk about Napoleon’s military genius in things such as issuing bold flanking orders. It’s foolish: We can credit Napoleon’s military genius for doing something without precedent – storming a bridge under heavy fire – or we can credit the revolutionary inspiration of the actual troops that did the storming. Napoleon’s ability to inspire (well-known, and real) is still not at all the same as the zeal inspired by revolutionary principles.

Napoleon biographer Vincent Cronin writes in Napoleon Bonaparte: An Intimate Biography“In analysing why Napoleon won battles in Italy, one is also analysing why he always – or nearly always – emerged successful from a battlefield. The first quality was discipline. Napoleon, with his legal forbears, was a great person for law and order. He insisted that officers issue a receipt for everything requisitioned, be it a box of candles or a sack of flour. … In letter after angry letter he condemned sharp practice by army suppliers…. Napoleon was merciless towards these men and when one of them made him a gift of fine saddle horses, hoping that would close his eyes to embezzlement, Napoleon snapped: ‘Have him arrested. Imprison him for six months. He owes us 500,000 ecus in taxes.’” Here we see the moral legitimacy which won him followers in the army, and that is better than issuing bold flanking orders.

Egypt: After examining and giving up the idea of invading England, invasion of Egypt was

the best way of striking always counter-revolutionary England, and not mere adventurism. Napoleon read the Koran on the way to Egypt and declared it “sublime”. He was inspired enough to say in his first declaration, “Cadis, sheiks, imams – tell the people that we too are true Muslims.” The French Revolution was universal in scope, like Islam, and Napoleon did not believe in the Trinitarianism of Roman Catholicism, like Islam. The muftis found Napoleon sincere as a person but not actually willing to become a Muslim – they proclaimed Napoleon’s God messenger and a friend of the Prophet. With humanitarian ideals and actions, and replete with the famed scientific corps, it is thus totally different from France’s imperialist invasion of Algeria in 1830.

In August 1799 he got his first news from Europe (due to the British blockade) that the 2nd European War Against the French Revolution had begun and that France was collapsing: Russian-Anglo forces in the Netherlands (which had joined the Revolution willingly), Austro-Russian forces in Switzerland (joined willingly as well) and Italy (joined willingly as well), Turco-Russian force in Corfu, Greece. Napoleon waded into that for personal glory, some say – to save the Revolution, say the less cynical.

As First Consul: Good leaders get elected and then re-elected – this truly all started with Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon made a political alliance with none other than Abbot Emmanuel Sieyès, the same “abbé Sieyès” whose 1789 manifesto What is the Third Estate became the manifesto of the French Revolution and the literal groundwork for the entry of the lower class into politics. (The pamphlet begins, famously: “What is the Third Estate? Everything. What has it been hitherto in the political order? Nothing. What does it desire to be? Something.”) Still not leftist enough for some, though…?

The undoubtedly revolutionary principle of constitutionalism upon which Napoleon rested is reflected in the poster put up after his participation in the coup of 1799 (Coup of 18 Brumaire) and the start of the Consulate era (1799-1804): “THEY HAVE ACTED IN SUCH A WAY that there is no longer a Constitution.

Was constitutionalism the only demand of the French Revolution from 1789-1799? No, it was simultaneously revolutionary and “middle-of-the-road”. Napoleon never did side with the royalists – that would have been undeniable betrayal of the Revolution – nor with the Jacobins, nor with their executors the less-leftist Thermidorians who ran the 5-man Directorate (one of whom was currently asking for 12 million francs to restore the Bourbons). Instead, Napoleon placed himself above party politics and alongside the concept of constitutionalism which, along with his repeated military defences of France and the Revolution, won him popular acclaim. Of course Napoleon embraced many other primary political ideals of the Revolution: an end to feudalism, an end to absolute monarchy, the division of common land, civil equality, the suppression of tithes and seigniorial rights, and nationalisation of the property of the Roman Catholic Church. What’s vital to recognise is that the social aspects of the revolution – free education, health care, food – weren’t even much discussed until 1796, via leftist hero Gracchus Babeuf, the continuer of the Robespierreian left. Faulting Napoleon for not holding out for free education for the masses is to critically forget that these social questions were in the infancy of political expression, and certainly were limited to the progressive vanguard of an already unprecedentedly progressive revolution.

In 1800 his coup and his constitution were both overwhelmingly approved by millions in a vote – a vote totally unprecedented in scope, reach and political progress. People who wish to ignore these votes are simply baffling, and biased. The coup was bloodless, as well. Napoleon – the alleged new dictator – is credited with giving the new constitution the idea of universal male suffrage and not just for property owners.

France won the Second European War Against the French Revolution – a bit of peace, finally. Napoleon the general became Napoleon the elected public servant. His administrative energy was as amazing as his martial energy: “The ox has been harnessed – now it must plow,” he said.

Napoleon took great interest in consolidating the best of Roman, custom/precedent and Revolutionary laws into the new Code Civil: equality before the law, end to feudal rights and duties, right to choose one’s work, inviolability of property, right to divorce and freedom of conscience. All were unprecedented leftist advances. The Code Civil is not at all the “Napoleonic Code” but more accurately the “French Revolutionary Code”. It was “an instrument of war against feudalism,” to quote Tulard, and its influence is inestimable and global.

Napoleon curbed widespread brigandage and pacified rebellions which had lasted years. He brought peace to France after a decade of civil war, and yet he did not give the army a privileged position. He even forbade them from getting involved in civil matters, something he considered “madness”.

He declared an amnesty for those living abroad, which anyone personally familiar with revolution knows has an inestimable positive effect, but also some negative ones.

Napoleon ended yet another war in 1801, when French churches finally reopened after the signing of the Concordat. The agreement okayed French nationalisation of Church lands (the sales of which did the most to effectuate the economic revolution downwards), maintained religious freedom, did not declare Roman Catholicism the official religion of the state, allowed the French state to pay clerical salaries (giving them a decent standard of living), had the clergy swear an oath of allegiance to the state, and banned nearly all the monasteries (viewed as parasitical and useless in France, whereas the useful teaching nun orders would soon be doubled). Of course, this recently-installed Pope would ultimately side with the monarchists against the Revolution, but there’s no doubt that Napoleon secured the Revolution’s aim in neutering the Church’s power in France, a major goal.

On only two occasions did he involve himself in local governance of the prefects: one of them was to stop a prefect from forcing vaccinations. Draw your own inference regarding the coronavirus epidemic of 2020-22.

The currency never had to be devalued, the cost of living became stable, he spent more on education than anything else, built three great roads, canals and ports each, attained full employment, stable prices, positive trade balance, increasing population, and presided over a 180-degree shift in public spirit after a decade of civil violence.

So of course he was popular – he was making the principles of the French Revolution law, which broke with the absolute monarchy which reigned essentially everywhere else.

Elected emperor: Democracy combines old forms with new ideas – conservatives are overdramatic

By 1802 Napoleon had committed the crime of making the Revolution workable, peaceful and – worst of all – attractive. A Third Coalition was declared; at home royalists keep trying to assassinate him.

Thus the need to establish monarchical power in France for the sake of permanent peace was put forward. The word ‘form’ was essential. The spirit of the Revolution would be respected but the outwards appearances of executive power would need changing; it required a a title which would fit in with those of other European countries,” writes Tulard.

In 1802 he was was voted Consul-for-life by 3.5 million people (against 0.008 million opposed), a staggeringly progressive occurrence for the time – ignoring this is to lose the entire thread and principles of the French Revolution! However, it’s easy to lose this thread when one ignores the constant attacks on your country’s revolution, which is not allowed to evolve in peace.

It was in fact precipitated by the renewal of conflict with England (in 1803). … Rather, there was a tendency to increase his power in order to ensure the defence of the land. A dictatorship of public safety was needed. How could it be entrusted to anyone other than Bonaparte? At this moment the Royalists inopportunely chose to renew their plotting…. The revolutionaries saw in the consolidation of the First Consul’s power… the only bulwark against attempts to restore the monarchy.”

It is with this lifetime appointment in 1802 that many Republicans were dismayed and many leftists say the Revolution ended. If one wants to call it “despotism”, it’s false: it’s “elected despotism”. It’s a paradox, it’s revolutionary, it’s provoked by foreign aggression, it’s better than anyone else’s around, it’s an emperor and empire but it’s still leftist! “It seemed, above all, to be the surest means of maintaining a stable government putting an end to intrigue and plotting. This in no way represented the acceptance of a Bourbon-style dynasty. The Empire was first and foremost a dictatorship of public safety, designed to preserve the achievements of the Revolution.” Again, that’s from an author who is not strongly pro-Napoleon – he is, however, a Frenchman who understands his country’s history.

Napoleon has still not betrayed the revolution at this point in any serious way! In a move which was preceded by much discussion, he took the crown of Emperor from the Pope’s hands in a public coronation (another first) not because of the bosh about how it was his own arrogant and usurping personal power which won the crown, but because it was the people which had crowned him, and no one else. This is all a huge difference from the divine, theocratic right of kings, which Prussia, Russia, Austria and countless other local kings would insist on in total autocratic form until 1914.

If the French Revolutionary Emperorship was a typical emperorship – and thus no ideological threat – why did it not cause the European Wars Against the French Revolution to stop? The answer is obvious to those who are objective.

In 1806 the Fourth Coalition saw Prussia and Russia attack – France wins again and Prussia is compelled to finally renounce serfdom.

In 1808, popular revolt against the Spanish king in the “Tumult of Aranjuez”, which is still celebrated today, ended the Bourbon dynasty. The overthrow of the Bourbons, and the sheltering of the new ideals of the French Revolution, allowed Latin America to win their independence.

The French Revolution has spread to the New World. It had already spread to the oldest of the Old World: Mohammad Ali founded modern Egypt in 1805 after France had defeated the Mamluks.

The French Revolution starts to topple – revolutionary zeal starts to wane following decades of foreign attacks

This is where things start to turn badly: 1808 Spain is not yet at the point of 1789 France. Proof? After 1815 Spain is the only place where feudalism would actually be restored. The guerrilla war saps France, which is supported by Spain’s progressives, abolished the Inquisition and ended feudal rights – hardly a terrible legacy.

The war in Spain coincides with when Napoleon starts to let the emperorship go to his head and thinks more of preserving his dynasty than of the Revolution – he is always thinking of France, however. His Continental Blockade against England would have bankrupted them… if France didn’t also have to fight in Spain and Russia, too. The French Revolution is always attacked from all autocratic sides – this must be remembered because it so greatly shapes their possible choices. After a few years the Continental Blockade turns into pro-French economic imperialism, in a non-leftist mistake. Spain, the Blockade, dynasty – these are the three key mistakes Napoleon made. However, he does not deserve a permanent “Ogre” caricature for these three because two of them are fights against autocracy.

The Fifth Coalition of 1809 saw the awful Hapsburgs’ last stand, the arrival of huge modern wars of attrition, conscripted armies, and the growth of nationalist movements which Revolutionary France had expressly fostered.

Tsar Alexander refuses to allow Napoleon to marry into the royal family, so he marries into the Hapsburgs instead. The marriage did not cement an alliance for peace – which was entirely the aim – because Austrian royalty, like the simply awful Metternich, were not only Teutonic racists but completely aware that France represented revolutionary change which was incompatible with autocracy. It was Metternich (who takes the mantle from France’s Talleyrand as the most dreadful and shameless politician of his generation) who is credited with the propaganda theme of “Napoleon as mere personal ambition”.

France invades Russia because Moscow refused to end their threats to the revolution – first Russia, then England, then peace, finally, was the plan.

Why didn’t the French Revolution free the serfs? Certainly leftists today would have acclaimed Napoleon more. He said: “They wanted me to free the serfs. I refused. They would have massacred everyone; it would have been frightful. I warred against Tsar Alexander according to the ruleswho would have thought they’d ever burn Moscow?” Such objections miss the entire point of the French invasion of Russia – to force the Tsar to accept peace towards the French Revolution, and there would have been no peace if the serfs had been freed. France was already trying to administer the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and other places – how could they administer huge Russia as well?

Indeed, who could have guessed that the Tsar would defeat his own peoples in order to defeat Napoleon, i.e. the scorched earth tactic, which Clausewitz proved “were only applied accidentally by headquarters,” per Tulard. Say slaver monarchs defeated Napoleon – it makes fools of Russian serfs to say that their sacrifices were correct instead of manipulated; they would get their revenge against such misguided, brutal managers a century later.

Napoleon was keeping 250,000 seasoned troops in Spain at this time, let’s recall. He said his two main mistakes were not wintering in Vitebsk, Belarus, and and instead going to Poland. He ignores the original option – staying in Moscow – which had plenty of noble-abandoned supplies to live off of. The second was in trying to get peace from the Russian monarchists, who never wanted peace, like all monarchists. “I thought that I should be able to make peace, and that the Russians were anxious for it. I was deceived and I deceived myself.” The Tsars liked their autocracy, old Nap!

After the disastrous retreat the monarchs of Europe jumped on Revolutionary France in 1813 with the immediate Sixth Coalition, the first knockdown blow to the French Revolution after 20 years of trying. Not far from Paris Napoleon resolved to die in battle – to pass the throne on to his son – and though he went where fire was thickest and his uniform was tattered by shot he was not killed.

The fall of Paris was shocking: Paris, which hadn’t seen a foreign invader since Joan of Arc 400 years earlier, spectacularly fell without even a full day of fighting because the re-propertied nobles had spread defeatism, paid for subversion and colluded to reverse the French Revolution, which of course they still hated. The elitist concept of royalism would still play a major role in French politics for another 65 years, keep in mind.

After decades of fighting not only were his marshals old and worn out, but so was the original revolutionary generation. What Napoleon needed was a Cultural Revolution to refresh the ideals of the French Revolution, but of course such a thing had not been invented yet. Such a leftist idea would have led to more civil war in France, which was only able to end its civil war with the moderate Napoleon adopting many of the forms of monarchism, after all.

Banished to Elba, he famously returned. When France saw that the Bourbons wanted to push the clock back to 1788 this did have the immediate effect of a Cultural Revolution, restoring the vitality of the ideals of the French Revolution. Napoleon landed and dared people to fire on him all alone, ever the anti-civil war patriot. He was literally pushed all the way to Paris by the peasants and urban proletariat – the army would only rally to him later. He entered like a hero and totally avoided bloodshed – all it took was the sight of him in his overcoat and bicorne hat. It’s really rather stunning, and something only a leftist – a man of the people – could have ever done.

The Bourbons fled, of course. The “Additional Act” was added on to the Constitution, which added checks to the power of Napoleon, granted total freedom of expression, an enlarged electoral college (Napoleon again oversees a broadening of democracy), the right to elect mayors in towns less than 5,000 inhabitants, trial by jury and was approved by 1.6 million voters. It wouldn’t be until 1867 that Britain’s electorate would reach that size.

The vote enraged royalist autocrats continent-wide, and they resolved to immediately overturn the progressive democratic will of France, again. Metternich spread the fiction of Napoleon as ambition personified and rejecting peace.

Above all, what France needed was a period of peace to consolidate these changes – Napoleon’s aura was not the same, liberal ideas were taking further root and France had been awakened to the fact that their revolution was powerful but not invincible. They almost had it: Wellington declared Waterloo “the nearest-run thing you ever saw in your life”, but instead of wiping out Wellington the next day Napoleon spent the morning visiting the wounded – Napoleon the quick had become a sentimental old soldier. The Coalition refused to make peace – of course. Instead of dissolving the National Assembly, as a dictator would, he trusted it and asked for full powers: they told Napoleon to abdicate or be deposed.

Now the French Revolution was truly over. It would be 33 years until there would be another vote.

The defeat of Napoleon – tyrant, slaver, sexist – heralds not a left-wing renaissance, but a right-wing one, really?

Just as Napoleon and the French had warned for decades, the clock was wound back across Europe: Poland was re-wiped off the map by Russia and Prussia, Hapsburgs in north Italy, Bourbons in Naples and Spain, Pope Pius VII restored the Inquisition and the Jewish ghettoes, England responded to calls for parliamentary reform with the massacre at Peterloo – vicious counter-revolution everywhere. The censorship imposed by Metternich is total, with spies everywhere – Europe is a true police state for the benefits of monarchs and aristocrats… again. The French Revolution was truly over because a monarchical oligarchy conspired to stop it.

In 1821, living in cruel imprisonment imposed by Britain on the island of St. Helena, Napoleon died of stomach cancer, like his father, at the age of 51. His last words: “France – army – head of the army – Josephine”.

They act as if Napoleon waged wars on the peoples of Europe, instead of on the autocrats of Europe?

They act as if he won his royalty by birth, marriage or violence, instead of by vote?

They act as if his administration was marked by corruption instead of revolutionary ideas, progress and domestic unity?

Bah… the haters of Napoleon – what can be done? He deserves the longest chapter in this book, because to smear Napoleon Bonaparte is to smear the French Revolution. The two are not synonymous, as Napoleon once claimed – but now, I think, you know what he meant.

In 1823 his memoirs, The Memorial of Saint Helena, would become the 19th century’s best-selling book, moulding the worldview of several generations.

It is truly amazing how relatively few things there are in France named after Napoleon. However, his stunning tomb at Invalides is – thankfully – not a military shrine but a monument to his 10 greatest achievements as a domestic revolutionary politician. It’s truly amazing: comparing the negative view which so many have Napoleon, and the 10 progressive political advances etched in marble at Invalides.

The common leftist criticism that Napoleon Bonaparte used foreign war to liquidate the revolution, domestic conflict and class conflict completely ignores the fact that the Seven European Wars Against the French Revolution were defensive and not initiated by France.

The criticism which equates Bonaparte with Bourbon – calling them two absolutist systems, with the former merely being more allied with the nouveau riche bourgeois class – completely ignores the historic votes, constitutions, and the quality of governance. It also totally ignores the peasant gains stemming from the French Revolution’s ending of feudalism.

The claim that the French Revolution was “imperialist” totally ignores the fact that the French Revolution wasn’t even “French”: Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium – these are just the countries where the people were able to join the Revolution, and certainly many more wanted to.

All great revolutions are always externalised – ideas do not know national boundaries. The 1979 Iranian Revolution, for example, both spread and was a part of an idea that spread: in 1978 the Saur Revolution in Afghanistan established the socialist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan; in 1979 the Grand Mosque of Mecca was under siege for two months to oppose the House of Saud monarchy; in 1982 Saddam Hussein committed the massacre of the Islamic Dawa Party, the crime for which he would be ultimately sentenced to death. Where does Iran 1979 fit in this, who can say with total precision? France, Haiti, the Cisalpine Republic, the Batavian Republic (Netherlands 1795-1806) even the USA and League of Iroquois – where does 1789 France fit, precisely? What makes France and Iran different is that their revolutions succeeded and lasted, and thus they must be celebrated and learned from.

In a quote of Trotsky’s which sounded the death knell of capitalism entirely too early, Napoleon Bonaparte represented “the bourgeoisie’s impetuous youth”. We must, therefore, look at the “impetuous youth” of Bonaparte’s bourgeois victory as a victory for the people precisely because it was the only victory which could be permanently extracted in that awful autocratic era – the liberal rights which 1789 fought for were advancements; bourgeois rights were advancements; peasants, not nobles, getting land should not be derided as a “bourgeois revolution” but were advancements. It is the West’s total blind spot regarding the social evil of monarchy – which is the only accurate standard of comparison Napoleon and the French Revolution can be compared to: their peers – which blinds them to the obvious historical truth.

We can expect the right to paint Napoleon poorly, but what the left seems to ignore is that what every historian eventually admits is that the peasants and the working class – the mass of the people – wanted, trusted, elected and re-elected Napoleon Bonaparte as the French Revolution’s chief. This makes Napoleon Bonaparte just like Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Khomeini, etc.

Now we grasp the Western Liberal Democratic campaign against Napoleon’s legacy: he was a true, beloved leftist.

Napoleon truly must be reclassed with those figures along the left. We cannot allow reactionaries to say that Napoleon, the dominant personage of that 26-year era – somehow did not embody it, but rather embodied its negation. What an absurdity!

Perhaps the whole point of this chapter – to fellow leftists – is to prove: We can admire Robespierre, Danton, Marat and Babeuf while also admiring Napoleon. Napoleon certainly must be reclaimed from today’s aristocratic bourgeoisie – this chapter should make it clear why they would never even want a leftist like him.

Gaining the trust of the democratic mass explains – more than any other factor – how Napoleon was able to lead France to stability in 1799 and beyond. Western Liberal Democrats haven’t been able to do either – gain the trust of the masses or provide stability for them – from its very conception. As de Tocqueville observed:

On coming to power Bonaparte imposed an additional 25 centimes of tax and nothing is said. The people do not turn against him; on the whole what he did was popular. The Provisional Government was to take the same measures in 1848 and was to be cursed immediately. The former was making a much-desired revolution, the second was making an unwanted one.”

What was unwanted across Europe in 1848 was the success of the counter-revolutions, which successfully refused to implement the ideals of 1789. In France, however, what was quickly unwanted was the first implementation of Western Liberal Democracy.

<—>

Upcoming chapter list of the brand-new content in France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. The book will also include previous writings from 2018 through the 2022 election in order to provide the most complete historical record of the Yellow Vests anywhere. What value! Publication date: June 1, 2022.

Pre-orders of the paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the Kindle version may be made here.

Pre-orders of the French paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the French Kindle version may be made here.

Chapter List of the new content

  • New book announcement – ‘France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s best values’ – March 15, 2022
  • Introduction: A Yellow Vests’ history must rewrite both recent & past French history – March 20, 2022
  • The UK’s endless reaction: 1789 & feudalism’s end creates modern conservatism – March 25, 2022
  • Glorious Revolution of 1688: England declares ‘death to all other revolutions’ – March 29, 2022
  • Modern political history makes no sense if Napoleon is not a leftist revolutionary
  • The Revolutions of 1848: Because Liberalism can’t say the ‘Counter-Revolutions of 1848’
  • Louis-Napoleon: The revolutionary differences between Bonapartism & Western Liberal Democracy
  • The Paris Commune: The true birth of neoliberalism and EU neo-imperialism
  • Where the West is stuck: The fascism of the 1930s and the ‘fascism’ of the 2020s
  • On ‘Leon Trotsky on France’ in order to reclaim Trotsky from Trotskyists
  • The Yellow Vests’ childhood: Seeing French elites, only, swayed by neoliberalism
  • No one here is actually in charge: How the EU empire forced the Yellow Vests
  • The radicalisation by Europe’s ongoing Lost Decade: the Great Recession changes France
  • To Yellow Vests he’s the radical: Macron and ‘Neither Right nor Left but the Bourgeois Bloc’
  • Yellow Vests: At worst, the most important French movement for a century
  • Who are they, really? Ask a reporter whose seen a million Yellow Vest faces
  • Yellow Vest Win: Ending the West’s slandering of all popular movements as far-right xenophobes
  • Yellow Vest Win: The end of Western anarcho-syndicalism & unions as leftism’s hereditary kings
  • Yellow Vest Win: The end of Western parliamentarianism as the most progressive government
  • Yellow Vest Win: Reminding us of the link between fascist violence & Western democracy
  • What the Yellow Vests can be: a group which can protect liberalism’s rights, at least
  • The 2022 vote: The approach needed for ‘Before’- what came ‘After’ polls closed

France apathetic about politics? Has corona gutted voter energy, or Macron?

March 31, 2022

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. His new book is ‘France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values’. He is also the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

Source

by Ramin Mazaheri and cross-posted with PressTV

One of the joys of France is the openness with which people talk politics here.

In the English-speaking world simple political disagreement leads immediately to judgmental condemnation of one another. Look at the centuries of sensationalism and warmongering from London’s Fleet Street – there’s a big market for intolerance. In the US it’s considered best to not talk about politics, or religion, at all.

But the French do talk politics, and all the time, and well. They prefer abstractions and exceptions to declarations and moral lines, but at least they discuss politics without rancour.

As France goes, so goes the European Union. Since the Great Recession many have suggested that an economic solution to the eurozone’s problems is that Germany should leave, taking their economic neo-imperialism and a strong Deutschmark with them. Nobody says the same for France – their role is indispensable to the European project.

Think back to how vital the past two French elections were, and how they had provided a true bellwether of the continent’s political situation:

In 2017 Marine Le Pen was offering a Frexit vote within six months of victory, repudiation of banker debt and seriously discussed leaving the euro. These are all serious ideas, especially when compared with the three main topics of the 2022 election: xenophobia, Islamophobia and Ukraine. The two mainstream parties were ousted for the first time since Charles de Gaulle – major upheaval.

In 2012 Francois Hollande declared “finance is my enemy” and was going to lead a Latin bloc against Germany and cut austerity off before it could do serious damage. Optimism was high that what many in France insisted was true: that someone as pro-money and monarchical as Nicolas “bling bling” Sarkozy was an aberration. The failure to produce the major upheaval for which Hollande truly had a mandate led to his 4% approval rating, his inability to even run for re-election and the destruction of the Socialist Party.

Less than two weeks until the first round I strain to find election topics of interest to write about. There is a lassitude regarding political matters which is totally out of keeping with French culture, and this does not augur well for Europe.

France will likely have abstention rates not seen since 2002, but France is so politically active that still means an estimated 71%. That would be a big drop from the 79% turnout of 2017. These are scores most Western countries would die for, so there’s no chance that low turnout in 2022 is going to seriously discredit French democracy. What discredited French democracy was the brutal, state-sponsored repression of the Yellow Vests, of course.

So abstention rates don’t tell the whole story in 2022. People tell me – and it’s my job to ask – that they will vote merely out of a sense of civic duty, and without the typical Gallic passion.

2022 is a hollow election in France: The issues which are allowed to be debated are hollow, the candidates are straw men who lack domestic credibility and the vacant look in people’s eyes when talking about the election implies that France is just hollowed out.

Why? This will be the first major Western election since the end of the coronavirus era, and I can only hypothesise that there must be a connection.

Today there simply is no spirit of résistance, which the French can seemingly fabricate out of thin air (this is mostly admirable, though occasionally overly-provocative). It was only two weeks ago that France ended its coronavirus restrictions, after all, and what French people want now is relief and simple pleasures. Embracing politics is to embrace dispute, hard-won compromises and a pleasure which is mental and not immediately tangible – it is to embrace résistance.

Is it possible that the coronavirus lockdowns have simply made people more resigned to their political fate? If so, one should bet on incumbents.

Who could have thought that the French wouldn’t care about the election of such a controversial president? The price of gas (€2 per litre) is now a whopping 25% higher than in November 2018, when that issue sparked the Yellow Vests – it’s illogical that there aren’t even bigger demands for government action now? This is the type of disinterest amid disorder which one only reads about after years of war or revolution – eventually a populace simply can’t generate enthusiasm for political endeavours.

Europe has only one hope that this is a case of French exceptionalism: Is it possible that Macron’s Yellow Vest weekend beatdowns have simply defeated France? Macron’s campaign platform was encapsulated in a book he titled Revolution. It was not ironic – Macron truly is a neoliberal revolutionary willing to wage war on his own people just to institute far-right neoliberalism which even the International Monetary Fund admitted has failed, in a 2016 report. People here view Macron’s re-election as a foregone conclusion – he simply cannot be opposed.

I think we can’t underestimate the way Western mainstream media has turned into total sycophants of the elite. With startling swiftness the new mediums of the 21st century have gone from liberating the average person with a new “freedom to write” to banning dissent, and coronavirus speeded this process along.

The French people do not care about the issues which the mainstream media pushed in this election campaign – they handed control of the agenda to far-right troglodyte Eric Zemmour – but what can people do except tune out and not care? A handful of billionaires control the media here, and US-based social media decide what can and can’t be discussed – Metternich, Austria’s prince of censorship in Europe’s post-French Revolution era, would be jealous.

In 2022 the media here is similarly refusing to allow discussion of Macron’s record: economic failure, the worst political repression in a century and an administration which halfway into his 5-year term set the record for cabinet ministers forced out for corruption. This is a politician who polls told us was elected primarily for two reasons: to prevent the authoritarian far-right from wielding police power, and to sweep out the two corrupt mainstream parties. One can only say that there has been total failure on these two points – the problem is finding media allowed to say it!

The war in Ukraine has provided the coup de grâce to discussion of serious domestic issues in this election, sadly.

There’s too many Muslims in France to not perceive surprise regarding the biased treatment in favor of Ukraine, which translates into more indifference and contempt for what’s in the news. While media in the United States insist that all of Europe is cowering in fear from Russian nuclear bombs that idea only produces laughter in Paris – it is absurd, of course. How Ukraine got to be a primary issue in the French election – few care to answer. I can’t help but note that public opinion is allowed to play no role in foreign policy decisions in Western Liberal Democracy, so whatever Paris decides to do regarding Ukraine will be decided among the court of the elite, as it was in the time of kings. Of course, Western Liberal Democracy is fine with autocracy and monarchy.

If France sees a repeat of 2002 it will be the left which surprises this time, but even that provokes looks of disillusion. The talk of a social explosion is widespread here, but it does not appear likely to happen within the next four weeks.


Glorious Revolution of 1688: England declares ‘death to all other revolutions’

March 29, 2022

Source

By Ramin Mazaher

(This is the second chapter in a new book, France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. Please click here for the article which announces this book and explains its goals.)

Modern conservatism was hugely inspired by Edmund Burke’s constant assertion that one is not permitted to remake society into something new because to wipe out the historical context which shaped that society would be immoral. It’s the crux of his anti-revolution thesis.

This is the precise logic of modern reformism – i.e., slow reform and improvement of English-style parliamentarianism, which is the political backbone of Western Liberal Democracy.

But it’s a cardinal error of the ardent and overdramatic conservative – to give entirely too sweeping a brush to any revolution. Nobody could totally wipe away a nation’s historical and cultural context – what’s done is done and won’t be forgotten, but it can be looked at differently. The past often should be left behind in order to implement a new, more humane legal foundation, which is always the basic goal of any revolution – anything else is a mere “coup”, after all.

Modern conservatives and Burke, the acknowledged philosophical founder of Western conservatism, ultimately want to continue to be the elite arbiters of what legal, economic and cultural changes get made, whereas Socialist Democracies insist that the mass of the people – the Third Estate, the proletariat & peasantry, the 99%, etc. – should be the arbiters.

Burke had the opportunities and status he did because he was an aristocrat (the House of Burke was a centuries-old noble dynasty), an imperialist (of Ireland – Burke was born there) and, ironically, because of revolution. The previous chapter summarised Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, and it is equally a defense of England’s Glorious Revolution of 1688 – both of its methods and its results – as it is an assault on the new ideas of 1789 France. It’s truly a book which covers two revolutions, and it distinctly marks the political-cultural schism between both Anglophone and Francophone cultures and between revolutionary and conservative cultures.

The methods: A royal coup in England which installed a foreign royal (William of Orange, from the Netherlands). What the English like to focus on is not this anti-patriotic, “monarchy-as-the-original-globalist-1%ers” class aspect, but the fact that it was done without bloodshed, and that it ended a four decade era of civil war and political changes.

The results: The coup was effectuated by the Whigs, the new social class which had been created off the new profits from Western Hemisphere imperialism and its explosion in commercial trading. I mentioned this in the Introduction: 1492 created a slow but certain economic revolution by making war/imperialism and trade newly hyper-profitable for Europe. By 1688 the Whigs were able to use these profits to force in a foreign king, pass the English Bill of Rights and establish the prominence of parliament for the first time in English history.

Burke was a Whig and, sycophantic Whig that he was, wrote that all revolutions to the post-Glorious Revolution status quo should be denounced as awful – this explains how Reflections marks the birth of Western anti-revolutionism. Burke is writing about France but also saying, expressly, that the 1688 intra-elite coup which encoded rights to the noble class is the only revolution which should ever be glorified, and long live the reign of the Whigs.

Thus it’s total self-interest; it’s total class war long before Marx; it’s an alliance of the allegedly-noble rich, whether landed, royal and theocratic rich or nouveau imperialist-trader rich; and it’s totally reactionary (which is defined as: opposing progressive political or social reforms). It is this eventual unification of all types of wealth – land-based, commercial/imperial, then 19th century financial/industrial – and then their united struggle against the 99% which is what made the Marxist analysis of 19th century European history so provokingly revolutionary. Marx drained the nobility of their Burkean pretensions to a deserved grandeur by pointing out: all you care about is money.

The Glorious Revolution has gone global, partially, like every successful revolution inevitably does – it has become inseparable from Western Liberal Democracy.

While I do apologise for the way this book on the Yellow Vests ballooned, LOL, I am just trying to get back to the root of the matter. Ultimately, the Yellow Vests are rebelling against the latest failure of Western Liberal Democracy. 1688 is the feudal-era basis of this ideology, which hasn’t been “modern” since 1789.

Yellow Vest “It’s clear that the government is selling us a democracy which is actually a total illusion. When we see how much violence there has been to the peaceful Yellow Vests, it’s clear that French democracy is a dream and not reality.”

(Note: this book intersperses over 100 quotations taken from actual, marching Yellow Vests which were originally published in news reports on PressTV.)

Why England’s and America’s revolutions are not the start of modern politics

Crucially, because the 1688 revolution is based not on the empowerment of the average person and democracy but is instead based on protecting elite privilege, it cannot be considered as the revolution which births modern politics.

It’s far more accurate to say that 1688 was the last organised resistance by European elite aimed at containing modern politics. 1688 erected the most vigorous bulwark against modern politics, sadly. The religious emphasis of the English Civil Wars also make the 1688 Revolution far less suitable than 1789 to mark the start of the modern political era, which is defined by class politics – religious wars belong to the earlier era. Nor should the culmination of the colonisation of Ireland during this era permit 1688 to serve as the start of the neo-imperial project of the European Union (that date is 1871, as I explain later) – for one thing, England is not even in the EU. The proof is also right there in the pudding: from 1688 until today the British Isles are the seat or co-seat of seemingly every effort worldwide to fight against the ideals of 1789 and socialist democracy.

But history is a slow process, and we should acknowledge the merits in the Glorious Revolution lest we lose the key thread of political history – the move of away from autocracy. Is that not what the average person has been fighting for since 1789? A major effort of this book is to show how monarchical concepts – such as autocracy and rule by a small elite – didn’t stop with 1979 Iran but still drastically shape Western Liberal Democracy today.

1688 was important, and not just for its shortcomings:

Firstly, it produced the Bill of Rights of 1688, which should be considered far more important than the Magna Carta of 1215, though the latter is better remembered. The Magna Carta is only a big deal within England – it wasn’t even the biggest expansion away from absolute monarchy in its own era. In 13th century Hungary their aristocracy was far more inclusive and egalitarian: 5% of the country was nobility and the “Golden Bull” decree of 1222 made them all equal, even giving them the right to vote in the most weighty matters of state. (Indeed, the parallels and legacies between this longstanding Hungarian elite class and the modern “Austrian School” of political economics are too numerous to list here.)

Secondly, 1688 effectively ended the world’s worst – and most historically prevalent – type of theocracy: the divine right of kings. The Puritan Revolution and Oliver Cromwell had done its work and could not be reversed: “Christ, not man, is King” is the epitaph on his tomb. I think a better epithet would be “God, not man, is King”, but I’m Muslim. I certainly appreciate Cromwell’s point. The awful lovers of monarchy, such as Burke, who opposed Cromwell and his Protectorate republic (1653-59) exhumed his corpse in 1660, the year monarchy was restored – they stuck Cromwell’s skull on a pike and placed it on the roof of Westminster Hall for 30 years.

Thirdly and lastly, the Bill of Right can be best described as a “Rights of Man and of the Citizen… but only Aristocrats are Men or Citizens”. It took 100 years for the idea to take root that all humans – and not just nobles – have rights. I noted in the Introduction that this egalitarian concept did not derive from England but from the indigenous in the New World. Regardless of provenance, spread it did, and the aristocrat Burke opposed 1789’s attempts to spread it just as much as kings, prior to 1688, opposed the idea that nobles have rights.

But the Glorious Revolution was indeed a true advance, and it’s with some justification that England thought itself the most progressive nation in Europe. However, 1789 changed this self-perception, and the allegedly post-feudal United Kingdom was now behind the times. It remains there, sadly.

England’s Bill of Rights has 13 key articles, and it is nearly identical to the 10 articles of the United States Bill of Rights. Indeed, it is a part of US domestic propaganda to portray the US Bill of Rights as some sort of spectacular advance when it was clearly modelled on something a century old. The American Bill of Rights was written in 1789, the same year as the French Revolution’s Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Absolutely crucially, the 27 articles of France’s declaration goes so very, very much further than the American declaration.

It’s entirely accurate to say that the Americans did not join with the French conception of human rights but with England’s: The Glorious and American Revolutions did not remake their social orders but merely established a limited view of human rights. This explains why modern Western Liberal Democracy easily embraces both the constitutional monarchies of Europe (Spain, Sweden, etc.) as well as the constitutional republics of the US (and France, Italy, etc.). The UK is one of the handful of countries which still doesn’t have a constitution, along with Saudi Arabia and Israel.

The US merely codified an oligarchy – American oligarchs were now in charge on the Eastern seaboard, not English oligarchs – and this allows us to explain why modern politics doesn’t begin with the American Revolution of 1776 either.

For the common man the Glorious English and American Revolutions are truly “internal coups” more than “revolutions”. In neither was there an attempt to fundamentally reshape society – an autocracy expanded slightly to oligarchy is hardly a revolution. 1688 and 1776 are important, no doubt, but it is a complete misunderstanding of modern politics to believe that they are as important as 1789.

It’s incredibly telling that Burke barely commented on the revolutionary experience of the United States – it’s not that he didn’t know what to make of it, which is one reading of his reticence, it’s that he both found it entirely good sense but also threatening to the English empire to which he was such a toady.

Yellow Vest: “Macron is a puppet. He has a program which aims to ruin the French people in order to benefit a few billionaires. Look at how he refuses to allow a referendum on the proposed privatisations of the airports of Paris. He wants everyone to shut their face and accept whatever he wants, but that’s not the way France should be.”

But, history is a slow process, and we should acknowledge the merits in the American Revolution lest we lose the thread.

The American Revolution was an undeniable advance as well because it represented the start of the end of 284 years of European domination of the Western Hemisphere – now the locals (some locals) had some rights and sovereignty. Of course, the aboriginals were not included in the new system of rights in the United States – more proof of how elitist, and not progressive, Western Liberal Democracy has been from its very foundations.

Yes, the French Revolution was overturned, and The Declarations of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen wouldn’t be firmly embedded in a French constitution until 1945, but that’s only due to the anti-1789 machinations of its enemies. The French Revolution, while overturned in 1815 via a restored monarchy, was a true advance in Europe’s very low level of political consciousness and away from monarchical despotism.

The Russian Revolution would be an even greater advance because it finally extended human rights to all – even the poorest landless peasant – inaugurating an entirely new era of political history. All revolutions after 1917 (China, Cuba, Iran, etc.) are socialist-inspired and their main obstacle is the same as France’s was from 1792-1815: all these other nations, led by the United Kingdom, which seek to pull them back to the old era of political history, one of rights limited to monarchs, sheiks and the affluent. This is the clear, simple pattern of Western politics and global history.

This analysis can only be considered invalid or temporary if one believes that Western Liberal Democracy is truly the apex of political thought. The longstanding demand of many French leftists, and not just the Yellow Vests, to found a new republic undermines that claim, as does the incredible repression of the Yellow Vests.

Burke himself was emphatic: 1688 was actually NOT a revolution

It’s not just me who argued that 1688 wasn’t a major revolution – it’s a key thesis of Burke’s book!

The glory of England’s Glorious Revolution is that change had come without civil war, without any absence of government and without any rule by revolutionaries – thus we see how today’s conservatism has absolutely carried this Whiggish banner which demands that change only come through peaceful reformism.

However, the great unsaid of English parliamentarianism and then Western Liberal Democracy is that this peaceful reformism must be entirely guided by the ruling oligarchical elite. Class analysis, and an objective accounting of modern history, tells us that this oligarchy will always fear losing their power and privileges to the people – thus, Western Liberal Democracy is aristocratic to its marrow.

Part of the conservative retort to revolution has always included that even a temporary absence of government is a fearful Rousseauian “state of nature”, which can only result in either an alleged anarchy of socialism or a civil war that features pure hysteria and zero ideology. Order must be kept… because the oligarchy must not lose power, of course. “Keep calm and carry on” – the English phrase which swept the Anglophone world during the economic collapse of 2008 – perfectly incarnates this view of a slave which loves the order provided by his master.

The analysis that England’s 1688 Revolution is the true foundation of modern democracy is something which Anglophones will persist in, mainly because they have not actually read Burke.

Specifically what shocked Burke in Reflections was the presumption: “that we have acquired a right:

  1. to choose our own governors
  2. to cashier them for misconduct
  3. to frame a government for ourselves”

Burke does not only reject these basic democratic rights for the French in 1789 but he asserts that the Glorious Revolution did not employ these rights either!

Therefore don’t believe my opinion that 1789 is the true start of modern politics – Burke himself says that 1789 cannot claim to be following any democratic precedent allegedly set by 1688. Burke himself says that the Anglophone system rejects anything but an unaccountable autocracy.

1789 was thus rejected by English conservatism, just as they obviously also reject 1917, 1949, 1959, 1979, etc. We all expect English and modern conservatives to reject everything from 1917 on, but what’s rarely admitted is how modern conservatives fully reject 1789. This rejection persists in the 21st century even though by the 1970s the ideals of 1789 had become commonplace across the West.

Burke continues after his 3-part list:

“This new and hitherto unheard-of bill of rights, though made in the name of the whole people, belongs to those gentlemen and their faction only. The body of the people of England have no share in it. They utter disclaim it. They will resist the practical assertion of it with their lives and fortunes. They are bound to do so by the laws of their country made at the time (1688) of that very Revolution which is appealed to in favor of the fictitious rights claimed by the Society which abuses its name.”

Both “their faction” and “Society” refers to the Revolution Society of England, a group which supported the French revolution. Burke correctly notes that none of these three principles are found in the Bill of Rights, which is the practical and legal embodiment of the principles of the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

French revolutionaries, Napoleon Bonaparte included, had initially been inspired by England as a model. They soon realised that they were seriously mistaken. This is expressed by Burke in the above phrase, “of that very Revolution which is appealed to in favor”. Burke repeats this French disenchantment with English oligarchy in greater, necessary detail:

Your leaders in France began by affecting to admire, almost to adore, the British constitution; but as they advanced they came to look upon it with a sovereign contempt. The friends of your National Assembly amongst us have full as mean an opinion of what was formerly thought the glory of their country. The Revolution Society has discovered that the English nation is not free. They are convinced that the inequality in our representation is a ‘defect in our constitution so gross and palpable as to make it excellent chiefly in form and theory’.”

Yes, France’s revolutionaries took a closer look and realised that they were totally mistaken about England’s relationship with democracy. Perhaps someone misinformed them that Cromwellism had prevailed?

The conservatives who knowingly or unknowingly cling to 1688 or 1776 are either rewriting or misunderstanding history, but Burke was well aware that the admiration of the British model quickly changed to contempt in France – all it took was a proper understanding of the limited rights England offers the common man. France’s riposte was the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, a spectacular leap ahead of Britain and the US.

Indisputable: 1789 launches modern politics – the fight against monarchs and Macronian autocrats is the fight of today’s politics

Burke’s account of the Glorious Revolution in Reflections would eventually dominate English thought on two subjects. He became the explainer of two revolutions – one “preserving” and one “destroying”. His flaw is being totally wrong on which one should receive which treatment.

Yellow Vest: “There is no way the Yellow Vests will stop until the government responds to our needs and our democratic demands. As long as the government doesn’t change, neither will our insistence on real changes.”

The modern Western conservatism which thwarts all progressive revolutions is not interesting, but the enormous flaws, egotisms and the lust to implant illogic in human affairs which abound in Burke’s philosophy must be exposed for its fallacies.

And yet, the coming chapters will see me further quoting Burke for his accurate predictions for and criticisms of what will become known as Western Liberal Democracy, which becomes rooted in the disastrous 2nd Republic of 1848-52 France.

Above all, Burke is vital to remind us of what exactly modern conservatism has to “conserve”: an anti-patriotic, 1%er, class warfare view of human society. The only name for this used to be “monarchy”, the first system which put class loyalty above national loyalty:

But a more decisive proof cannot be given of the full conviction of the British nation that the principles of the (Glorious) Revolution did not authorise them to elect kings at their pleasure, and without any attention to the ancient fundamental principles of our governed, than their continuing to adopt a plan of hereditary Protestant succession in the old line, with all the dangers and all the inconveniences of its being a foreign line full before their eyes and operating with the utmost force upon their minds.

Burke admits that the principle of hereditary possession, of religious segregation and of democratic repression override any patriotic concern.

Burke also admits that the invasion of a foreign Dutch army was just solely because it ended the threat of Cromwellian republicanism possibly flowering into the ideals of 1789, thus threatening the Whig oligarchy.

The Revolution of 1688 was obtained by a just war, in the only case in which any war, and much more a civil war, can be just. Justa bella quibus necessaria(Livy: Wars are just when they are necessary.) The question of dethroning or, if these gentlemen like the phrase better, ‘cashiering kings’, will always be, as it has always been, an extraordinary question of state, and wholly out of the law – a question (like all other questions of state) of dispositions and of means and of probable consequences rather than of positive rights.

The bold and underline emphasis of mine is added because it is my treat for enduring the galling, elitist, sycophantic, abstruse, conservative claptrap which is Burke, but also because this quite fair restitching makes it clear:

Modern conservatism means that no one has the right to depose a king or president – no matter how repressive or poorly they govern – because it’s not about rights but of consequences, the consequences being the end of the oligarchy’s dominance. Political leadership is a “question of state” – i.e. a question for the elite to handle among themselves.

Modern conservatives collude, for the absurd reasons enumerated by Burke’s book and summarised in the previous chapter, to uphold this undeserved dominance. Modern conservatism has not changed from Burke – they continue to use his same faulty, elitist rationales.

The status quo cannot be dethroned! The French Revolution disagreed, and Napoleon Bonaparte – the focus of our next chapter – would not be enthroned but voted into the throne, something Burke surely would have fainted at.

<—>

Upcoming chapter list of the brand-new content in France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. The book will also include previous writings from 2018 through the 2022 election in order to provide the most complete historical record of the Yellow Vests anywhere. What value! Publication date: June 1, 2022.

Pre-orders of the paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the Kindle version may be made here.

Pre-orders of the French paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the French Kindle version may be made here.

Chapter List of the new content

  • New book announcement – ‘France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s best values’ – March 15, 2022
  • Introduction: A Yellow Vests’ history must rewrite both recent & past French history – March 20, 2022
  • The UK’s endless reaction: 1789 & feudalism’s end creates modern conservatism – March 25, 2022
  • Glorious Revolution of 1688: England declares ‘death to all other revolutions’
  • Modern political history makes no sense if Napoleon is not a leftist revolutionary
  • The Revolutions of 1848: Because Liberalism can’t say the ‘Counter-Revolutions of 1848’
  • Louis-Napoleon: The revolutionary differences between Bonapartism & Western Liberal Democracy
  • The Paris Commune: The true birth of neoliberalism and EU neo-imperialism
  • Where the West is stuck: The fascism of the 1930s and the ‘fascism’ of the 2020s
  • On ‘Leon Trotsky on France’ in order to reclaim Trotsky from Trotskyists
  • The Yellow Vests’ childhood: Seeing French elites, only, swayed by neoliberalism
  • No one here is actually in charge: How the EU empire forced the Yellow Vests
  • The radicalisation by Europe’s ongoing Lost Decade: the Great Recession changes France
  • To Yellow Vests he’s the radical: Macron and ‘Neither Right nor Left but the Bourgeois Bloc’
  • Yellow Vests: At worst, the most important French movement for a century
  • Who are they, really? Ask a reporter whose seen a million Yellow Vest faces
  • Yellow Vest Win: Ending the West’s slandering of all popular movements as far-right xenophobes
  • Yellow Vest Win: The end of Western anarcho-syndicalism & unions as leftism’s hereditary kings
  • Yellow Vest Win: The end of Western parliamentarianism as the most progressive government
  • Yellow Vest Win: Reminding us of the link between fascist violence & Western democracy
  • What the Yellow Vests can be: a group which can protect liberalism’s rights, at least
  • The 2022 vote: The approach needed for ‘Before’- what came ‘After’ polls closed

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV 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 ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

The UK’s endless reaction: 1789 & feudalism’s end creates modern conservatism

March 25, 2022

Source

By Ramin Mazaher

(This is the first chapter in a new book, France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. Please click here for the article which announces this book and explains its goals.)

It would be boring to defend the French Revolution by showing the moral and intellectual worth of its left spectrum – of Danton and Robespierre, Marat and Babeuf. What’s far more interesting is to examine the right’s assessment and criticisms of 1789. If we do so we will be exceptionally rewarded – after all, we unearth the very foundation of Western conservatism.

Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France is the Bible of modern conservatism, with Burke regarded as that ideology’s indisputable philosophical founder. It is no exaggeration to call him the “Marx of conservatism”. For those who don’t believe that – simply read this first section.

It’s not only Burke’s political philosophy which has become dominant in the West, but his economic philosophy prevails today as well. Read Adam Smith’s evaluation of Burke: “…the only man I ever knew who thinks on economic subjects exactly as I do, without any previous communications having passed between us.”

Additionally, just as conservatives today despise the “fake money” of Bitcoin – which is creating a new class (both a class of monied persons and a class of investment type) – so Burke railed against the French Revolution’s creation of paper “fake money”. The assignats were paper bonds created by the projected bonanza which would be reaped from the sales of the newly confiscated estates of the Roman Catholic Church in France. Burke’s condemnation of this – and his promotion of wealth only based in land, gold and commerce – has become adored by stingy conservatives who distrust going off the gold standard in 1971, Quantitative Easting, Modern Monetary Policy and cryptocurrency. Burke was a member of the Whig Party, which established the Bank of England – the first central bank – giving him even more economic relevance to our era of banker domination.

As Burke fears a newly monied class will reduce the power of the established upper class, Reflections is full of apparently tolerant concerns (Burke was a Protestant) for the future of the Roman Catholic Church. Burke’s concerns are nothing but false piety masking his class interests, but Reflections is considered by today’s conservatives to be a righteous and modern call to defend your true church. Burke defends Christian monarchy as being free from despotism, it being Christian, after all. As for the aristocracy beneath the holy autocrat, Burke simultaneously insists that aristocrats in Christendom have always practiced the true faith… but they have been converted to atheism en masse in France over the last century. This mix of multicultural tolerance (as long as that culture is Christian) and loyalty to an unchanging establishment religion (no matter how infested with nobility and disregard for the poor) is quite similar to the religious stance of modern Western conservatives.

Burke also rails against calls for subverting the aristocratic world – a world full of hard-won merit, he insists – by a new media-political-intellectual class which has become divorced from the longtime forces of traditional wealth and the church. In the 21st century technocrats and meritocracy’s allegedly-deserving victors denounce a new intelligentsia: that of the masses, which is found on Facebook, social media, blogs, etc., which dare to contradict the mainstream media of sacred Western Liberal Democracy, which is – in fact – actually being run ever so well by the establishment’s elite.

Burke writes little about 1789’s abolition of seigneurial rights, mainly because it’s such an indefensible position – in typical English fashion it was certainly bad “manners” to talk of such things openly. Or rather, it had just become bad manners. Burke insisted that a truly noble nobility justifiably rules and oppresses because of the English triumph of social “manners” over ancient, individualistic and barbarous Greek “virtue”. This idea translated into the alliance between culture and aristocracy which so dramatically moulded the art of the subsequent Victorian Era. Again, Burke’s importance resonates with Marxian reach. The Western condemnation of “deplorable” Yellow Vests, Trumpers and Brexiteers for their lack of respect and awe is above all a continuation of Victorian repugnance for the “ill-mannered” and certainly ill-bred masses.

But wait, there’s more!

It’s said that much of Burke’s modern appeal is that he allegedly discovered the roots of modern totalitarianism: He was first intellectual to be spooked by the “spectre of 1789”, which is synonymous with the spectre of socialism, which modern conservatives falsely conflate with totalitarianism. What’s obvious to all is that the accusations against socialism as “totalitarian” from a class of hyper-privileged persons who fear losing their privileges – even if these privileges are abused and then revoked by popular, democratic revolution – are intellectually invalid barring extraordinary proofs of intellectual objectivity. Burke fails that test all over. Therefore the true base of Burke’s appeal here to modern conservatism is so hard to categorise that we can only call it psychological. It is easy to define, however: A desire to privilege illogic and inefficiency – the role of an “invisible hand” – in both economic and social affairs, something rejected by socialism’s central planning and demands for equality. Logic, science and mathematical reasoning must always appear terribly totalitarian to those, like Burke, who invariably resort to using an “invisible hand” in their equations which explain and order societal affairs. Burke does not use an “invisible hand” that is truly Godly, because it is not all-embracing and all-levelling, but instead the unplanned order found in hereditary right, unregulated markets, slavishly following an unchangeable tradition/past, and the unplanned order of the unpredictable eccentricities produced by a totally unchecked individuality/autocracy/libertarianism. Modern conservatives agree: an “invisible hand” ultimately rules, somehow, and all humans can do is work around it. Planning against the “invisible hand” is personally anathema to modern conservatives, especially rich ones.

Therefore, in economics, religion, intellectualism, culture and psychology you should see why I am starting off this book with Burke – he combines to become the absolute cornerstone of Western conservatism. Reflections on the Revolution in France distills what reasoning is used, and which is used still, to oppose every modern, progressive revolution.

Burke is the man who stood up to the Yellow Vests of 1789 and shouted them down as people who were trashing and upending the economy, who were godless demons that respected nothing, who were too stupid to be listened to much less govern, who were unmannered berserkers, who failed to comprehend that incomprehensibility in human affairs must be endured, and who must stop their critiques of monarchism on pain of being sent to the Bastille, which must be retaken.

Marx had Burke’s number: In a single word – “sycophant”.

Yellow Vest: “Our recent governments serve only the rich class, instead of serving the people – that’s the problem. France has enough money and produces many goods, but these are not distributed fairly. At the same time, our government is taking away the social rights we fought decades to win.”

(Note: this book intersperses over 100 quotations taken from actual, marching Yellow Vests which were originally published in news reports on PressTV.)

Burke hated 1789, but few realise he wrote just as poorly of nascent Western Liberal Democracy

However, it would be unfair and incorrect to say that conservatism in Western Liberal Democracy can be reduced to encouragements to become a slavish sycophant to the status quo because “conservatism” has universal values like family cohesion, respect for religion, thrift, hard work and modest pride in a modest amount of property. Such traditional concepts are easily also found in Confucianism, Hinduism, the Islamic World and even nomadic life. Therefore, to pin all the West’s faults on “conservatism” is illogical, foolish and doomed to failure.

Of course, many Western fake-leftists do exactly that – in the US, for example, the constant claim is that the Republican Party is the sole party responsible for all the evils at home and abroad. This totally ignores the failures of the Democratic Party and of Western Liberal Democracy itself. It’s easier to blame conservatism than to refine and enlighten one’s own leftism.

But read Burke’s masterwork and it’s truly impossible not to be struck by what a tremendous toady this Irishman was to English royalty! If the noble class were one-tenth as noble, blameless and competent as he repeatedly claims then nobody would have ever had the slightest notion to overthrow them. If the revolutionary class in France – which is to say, millions of people – were as vile, clueless and without merit as he claimed then they could not even have had the intelligence to tie their shoes much less envision an unprecedentedly democratic and egalitarian type of society.

Examples of his toadying are legion – his fairy-tale account of meeting Marie Antoinette produced eye-rolling even in Burke’s own day – so I will not waste time listing giving examples. Simply open Reflections on the Revolution in France to any page, stick your finger on a sentence and it will likely be describing the noble class as nothing but people who make Marcus Aurelius look unwise, every small-town cleric as improvers upon the philosophy of Jesus son of Mary, and the king as being an entity of – per the writing of one similar Hindu toady (whose name I forget) – such cosmic goodness that lighting bolts of pure enlightenment shoot out of his big toenail.

Burke’s book has become a manifesto because Western conservatives want to be affirmed in the idea that slow reformism of the status quo is the only sociopolitical solution, universally. “Keep calm and carry on”, universally, as opposed to discussing and implementing revolutionary changes which aim to improve equality immediately. He’s wrong: oligarchy disguised as ineffectual parliamentarianism (with a monarch or a prime minister or a president) is a less democratic and egalitarian system than those proposed by Socialist Democracy, and this was precisely the cry and proposed solution from the French Revolution up to the Yellow Vests.

But few read Burke for this: His book is also the ultimate takedown of modern Western Liberal Democracy at its very conception.

Therefore, we can read him and – undiscussed by modern conservatives – find some very just and salient criticisms of Western Liberal Democracy precisely when the child has first been placed in the cradle. This is the opposites of what modern conservatives usually mine Reflections on the Revolution in France for – to find criticisms of Socialist Democracy, which was also born in 1789.

What’s vital to realise is that Burke’s critique of Socialist (and Liberal) Democracy was not written after “the Terror” or after the rise of Napoleon or – shockingly – even after capital punishment was pronounced for Louis XVI. It was written at the very start of the revolution, in 1790: Burke is writing merely after the fall of the Bastille and the declaration of the end of feudalism! The king lives, but the god has been defiled by the hands of commoners, and Burke pauses in his sucking-up to write a very long letter, in a very protracted style, to a fellow aristocrat in France.

This change in the nature of medieval society is enough to shock Burke the Whig, who is a proto-Western Liberal Democrat because of his acceptance of monarchical oligarchy. He’s an aristocrat shocked at losing his privileges over the life and property of his workers. He can’t imagine that society doesn’t openly declare that his DNA is a cut above the “swinish multitude”. Burke’s shock helps explain why, as I will discuss in the next chapter, the 1688 Glorious Revolution – the birth of English parliamentarianism – is not the birth of modern democracy. It was merely the first limitation on European absolute autocracy, which is not modern.

This shock at the very start of the French Revolution form the completely counter-revolutionary basis of his passionate reflections, which are sent in letter form to a fellow aristocrat in France. The letter becomes history’s best example of intellectual opposition to the French Revolution from the point of view of both monarchy and modern Anglophone conservatism, and thus early Western Liberal Democracy. By examining the text which first criticised the actions of the obvious forebears of the Yellow Vests, we can see how the criticism of the Yellow Vests’ demands is not recent, but goes back over 230 years.

Yellow Vest: “For us it was not the ‘Great Debate’ but the ‘Great Smokescreen’. This is why many Yellow Vests quickly refused to participate. We know that nothing concrete will come from those one-way debates. It will ultimately make people even more disappointed in the government, and turn to the Yellow Vests with even more support.”

The notion of ending aristocratic rule: As shocking to the elite of yesterday as it is for today’s Western elite

The opposition to monarchy/autocracy and a demand for an equitable redistribution of wealth and political power – this is the battle of modern politics. Whether or not the autocrat is Emmanuel Macron, ruling by executive order and smashing the Yellow Vest demonstrations, or Louis XVI makes no difference in 2022: both their means and their ends are the same – political autocracy. From the time of Reflections publication to the Yellow Vests the demands have always been the same: More grassroots rights to political power and wealth for the masses than Western Liberal Democracy is willing to offer its citizens.

The great, galvanising crime for Burke was threefold, and I think only the last would be seriously debatable today, and even then only by a few: making the king finally answerable to a single parliament (no House of Lords) composed mainly of non-nobility, the abolition of feudal titles and rights and France’s nationalising of the Roman Catholic church.

Beginning with the last: It should be reminded that what we can call the “nationalisation” of the Roman Catholic church and the dissolution of the Roman Catholic monasteries occurred in England – via the creation of the Church of England – under Henry VIII, more than 250 years earlier than in France. The Whig Burke decried this for France even though the Whig Party’s early members came to economic prominence in a large part from royal land grants of former Roman Catholic Church lands in England! This book will not debate the merits of Europe’s Protestant Revolution – I will simply take that revolution as a grassroots, honest desire for greater emancipation from the Vatican in many ways, economics included. Therefore, England had already profited from their spiritual independence for centuries, yet France should be faulted for doing the same so very much later? Cui bono – not monied Whigs invested in France, but a French nouveau riche and the French peasant, and thus Burke’s opposition.

What 1789 demanded was not a complete separation between republic and church, but a pledge of allegiance of the Roman Catholic Church to the new republic in order to create a better, more progressive and more locally-devoted clergy. Fifty-five percent of French clergy would accept to take this new Constitutional Oath, which (again, I am not entering into religious discussions here) can be fairly viewed as a modern and progressive demand to serve your local laypeople well and firstly. Contrarily, the Church of England in 1789 was precisely the same as their aristocratic parliament: a hierarchy headed by sycophants, largely limited to fellow nobles, who were engaged in maintaining the deeply embedded socioeconomic class disparities created by English feudalism. Napoleon’s Concordat of 1801 will make peace with the Vatican regarding these changes, and also cement a new and more progressive clergy for France. A complete separation between church and state would not occur until the passage of the “1905 French Law on the Separation of the Churches and State”. This pledge from a clergy towards a national democratic revolution was frightening to Burke because it exposed the alleged progressivism of England – which in 1788 had a claim to be perhaps the most progressive country in Europe – for what the nation remains today: an unmodern oligarchy with a rich, landowning church that refuses to engage in a serious questions of redistribution of wealth or political power.

Nationalising the church, attacking the social and economic privilege of the nobility via ending feudalism and constraining the king’s power with a parliament which doesn’t aim to collude in preserving an aristocratic oligarchy – these three crimes alone joined together to galvanise Burke into warning how the French Revolution heralded the slow death of the autocratic order of the oligarchy.

So the French Revolution has just begun and barely a drop of royal blood has been shed but Burke simply can’t believe his eyes – he thought that the era of aristocratic autocracy, supported by a clergy which looked the other way and an intelligentsia restricted to sanctioning the first two estates (as Burke did) would go on for ever.

Yellow Vest: ”France has turned into a system of oligarchy which is run by high finance, and we cannot take it anymore. This is why the Yellow Vests are demanding citizen referendums, especially regarding France’s banks and our economic policy. That’s the only way we can create jobs, schools, hospitals and peace in our country.”

The Western Liberal Democrats who oppose the Yellow Vests are precisely the same: they are modern day aristocrats who support the autocracy of the French executive, the elite-only justice of the judicial branch, care not that the legislative branch is just for show, who are unhindered by any appeals from a politically-active clergy, and who either decide to join or bow down to the dictates of the 21st media mainstream media intelligentsia.

Why do you think like this, Burke?!

This is why reading Reflections is so important – to find the initial but enduring justifications for autocracy, faux-meritocracy, technocracy of the inept, spiritual guidance from the unrighteous righteous and minds bent on subservience, i.e. a modern Western conservative whose conservatism exceeds just limits.

Natural law: We can do nothing about that which justifies every inequality

Burke’s ultimate rejoinder to attack the ideals of 1789 is that – and here we see the same justifications of Western Liberal Democratic leaders from the slave-trading time, to the start of imperialism in the Western hemisphere, to the eugenics movement, to today’s false “the rich deserve to stay rich because of ‘meritocracy’”: caste is “natural”.

Indeed, it’s that simple to Burke.

Don’t kill the messenger – I can’t be faulted for relating the faults of modern conservatism: logic, nor a study of history which aims to be as scientific as the subject will allow, nor humanity’s finest emotions and desires are a basis for society, but only an invisible hand of “natural” laws which dictate that a high and a low must be created and perpetually preserved.

This “natural” law is the basis of “conservatism” from England, to the caste of India, to the very rigid hierarchical view of Confucius, to the frightened and xenophobic worldview of tribes and nomads, etc. It’s a “bad” conservatism, as it refuses to be compatible with equality and modern, not medieval, justice.

Over and over in Reflections Burke justifies the privileges of the aristocracy based on some sort of “natural” superiority and the “natural” need for a subservient class in society in order to prevent proto-socialist “anarchy”, which a modern reader sees Burke confusing with the barest “equality”.

Absolutely crucially, he backs their theocratic right to rule – divinity is God-given via birth and bloodline. Burke believes that the highness is real and natural of “His and Her Royal Highness”. It’s so astoundingly forgotten that until the bloodletting of World War I nearly all of Europe was not just feudal police states but also theocracies: kings were kings by “divine right” and were often the heads of churches. England still is this way!

This is something which appears staggeringly obvious to Muslim readers of modern European history, but this incredibly awful theocratic rule in Europe seems to be totally unrecognised in Western descriptions of their political history and situation? It is totally unrecognised how this legacy affects Europeans of today? Europeans act as if they are as many millennia removed from caveman-ism as they are from being ardent supporters of the most irreligious type of theocracy?

Burke is not from the final era of total scoffers at the French Revolution’s Rights of Man and of the Citizen, but the very first. Again, it is glossed over in the West how even Liberal Democratic rights are so very new in Europe – the upcoming chapters will remind how the entire 19th century was a victory of Anglo-Germanic monarchical repression 1789. The wilful historical blindness of the Western mainstream – in order to promote ideas of Western exceptionalism and superiority – has lead to total ignorance regarding how monarchy is the cardinal sin of domestic culture.

Beyond this “natural law”, it’s clear that to Burke and conservatives that money matters, and it matters so much because the presence of money, to conservatives, bestows merit; papers over hypocrisies; make criticism easy to luxuriously ignore. Beyond the ending of harvest taxes, church tithes and other redistributions of wealth from the bottom upwards, the confiscations of the church estates in France began the rise of a revolutionary new “paper” assignat money, and as Burke scholar J.G.A. Peacock wrote: “This is the key to all his analyses of the Revolution, and is bound to remind us of earlier Tories who, in the reign of Queen Anne (reign: 1665-1714) had attacked the Whig ‘monied interest’ and declared that ‘the Church was in danger’.” I see his point, but beyond just the arrival of a paper money which went beyond the crux of the English economy at this time – an unparalleled extension of credit (also the crux of the United States in our time), the key to Burke’s analyses of the Revolution is more accurately: that of a typical modern conservative to any socialist redistribution of wealth or political influence.

Yellow Vest: “We will be marching every Saturday to demand our human rights and our human dignity. We are here because there is no economic justice in France. France is an oligarchy composed of political elite, union leaders and high finance. They suck the life and riches out of the real producers of our nation’s wealth – the workers.”

The Whigs were modern conservatives in their view that all money – whether landed, trade gained from imperialism or industrial wealth – were in harmony, unity and striving towards progress. As Marx would put it decades later – all wealth to the rich eventually “becomes bourgeois”. Burke opposed the paper assignat – his class would soon relent and profit from this type of financial instrument. Modern conservatism will, eventually, accept Bitcoin wealth because they eventually sanction any and all wealth. This is why Burke is a proto-Western Liberal Democrat despite his opposition to the end of absolute monarchy. Both Burke and the modern conservative believe the class war is wrong – the only just war is to fight your way up in class.

Conclusion: A Whiggish clerisy to sanction monied nobility until Judgment Day, which doesn’t exist

Many Whigs of the 21st century are attached to their own religion, but there, too, has been a reconciliation; an accommodation just as significant as between monarch and president/prime minister in Western Liberal Democracy – that of secularism, the new Western state religion, which is also a new religion founded on the state itself. In France it is called laïcité, and it has been employed as a major cultural distraction since the start of the Great Recession. The spate of terror attacks – in which France’s foreign policy in Syria, Mali, Afghanistan and elsewhere was seemingly always cited – gave laïcité even more media space.

In modern conservatism secularism is the iron law. Secularism necessarily promotes the production of a spiritually-indifferent, neutered, class-unconscious clerisy; secularism doesn’t make every citizen this way, but it necessarily produces a class dedicated to preserving secularism. This new clerisy can be attached to an established religion, or public agnosticism, or outright atheism, or even a bizarre new polytheism – as long as said new cleric does not promote mixing religion and politics/economics.

Yellow Vest: “The fire at Notre Dame touched everybody, but there is a big controversy over how we could raise a billion euros for a church so quickly, and why we can’t raise such an amount for poor people. There is a lot of anger, and a fire at Notre Dame is not going to change this mental reality.”

Western society considers itself to be the apex of progress because it has deposed the clergy but not nobility. The basis of this society is shaky: while it declares humans radically equal irrespective of religion it also declares humans radically unequal as regards to class.

Modern conservatism is Whiggish in that it conflates not just love of the nobility, or the neo-nobility, with patriotism, but religion with mere property: property is sacred, even though it is merely property, and to attack property is heresy in Western Liberal Democracy. (Except, of course, when that property is of those who choose a path different from Western Liberal Democracy, like Iranians, Cubans, Russians, etc. To such persons and nations religious feeling is not extended.)

Burkean conservatism is not modern but ancient. As applicable to modern society as Marx is Burke is as inapplicable, despite Burke’s present-day proponents. He is not modern because he writes not to defend the average person’s home, goods and religion but only those of a hereditary aristocracy, which any modern person must disavow. I am speaking of the vital difference between the right to personal conservatism and a political, social and economic conservatism which combats society’s efforts to introduce modern, humane equality.

Therefore it is vital that the modern leftist wrests justified conservatism from the elitists like Burke in favor of a conservatism which also supports revolutionary political ideals – and egalitarianism has always been revolutionary in Europe.

Conservative types of values are what help anchor society, and that includes revolutionary societies – the difference is in the political-economic bedrock on which your society is founded.

The next chapter, Glorious Revolution of 1688: England declares ‘death to all other revolutions’, examines Burke’s primary thesis: That one is not permitted to remake society into something new because to wipe out the historical context which shaped that society would be immoral. It’s a nice, stable, conservative point of view – but only if you are currently on the top of the pyramid!


Upcoming chapter list of the brand-new content in France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. The book will also include previous writings from 2018 through the 2022 election in order to provide the most complete historical record of the Yellow Vests anywhere. What value! Publication date: June 1, 2022.

Pre-orders of the paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the Kindle version may be made here.

Pre-orders of the French paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the French Kindle version may be made here.

Chapter List of the new content

  • New book announcement – ‘France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s best values’ – March 15, 2022
  • Introduction: A Yellow Vests’ history must rewrite both recent & past French history – May 20, 2022
  • The UK’s endless reaction: 1789 & feudalism’s end creates modern conservatism
  • Glorious Revolution of 1688: England declares ‘death to all other revolutions’
  • Modern political history makes no sense if Napoleon is not a leftist revolutionary
  • The Revolutions of 1848: Because Liberalism can’t say the ‘Counter-Revolutions of 1848’
  • Louis-Napoleon: The revolutionary differences between Bonapartism & Western Liberal Democracy
  • The Paris Commune: The true birth of neoliberalism and EU neo-imperialism
  • Where the West is stuck: The fascism of the 1930s and the ‘fascism’ of the 2020s
  • On ‘Leon Trotsky on France’ in order to reclaim Trotsky from Trotskyists
  • The Yellow Vests’ childhood: Seeing French elites, only, swayed by neoliberalism
  • No one here is actually in charge: How the EU empire forced the Yellow Vests
  • The radicalisation by Europe’s ongoing Lost Decade: the Great Recession changes France
  • To Yellow Vests he’s the radical: Macron and ‘Neither Right nor Left but the Bourgeois Bloc’
  • Yellow Vests: At worst, the most important French movement for a century
  • Who are they, really? Ask a reporter whose seen a million Yellow Vest faces
  • Yellow Vest Win: Ending the West’s slandering of all popular movements as far-right xenophobes
  • Yellow Vest Win: The end of Western anarcho-syndicalism & unions as leftism’s hereditary kings
  • Yellow Vest Win: The end of Western parliamentarianism as the most progressive government
  • Yellow Vest Win: Reminding us of the link between fascist violence & Western democracy
  • What the Yellow Vests can be: a group which can protect liberalism’s rights, at least
  • The 2022 vote: The approach needed for ‘Before’- what came ‘After’ polls closed

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV 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 ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

Introduction: A Yellow Vests’ history must rewrite recent & ancient French history

March 20, 2022

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV 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 ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

Source

By Ramin Mazaheri

For readers who missed the announcement of this new book, France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Valuesplease click here in order to see the short recap of what this book is about and why it’s not only the best French election primer you can find, but necessary reading for anyone who wants to understand the Yellow Vests and modern France.

To recap that article – so that we can get started! – allow me just one reminding quote:

“Soon after starting this project I quickly realised: France doesn’t need an accurate rendering of the massive repression of progressive politics which began on November 17, 2018 – they need an accurate rendering of the massive repression of progressive politics which began in 1789. If they lied and misrepresented the Yellow Vests in 2018, wouldn’t they have also done the same in 1936, 1871, 1848, 1789 and in between?

Russia’s Vladimir Putin has just called the West an “empire of lies” – this book is an effort to dismantle those lies as regards to France from 1789 through the Yellow Vests. My previous books have dispelled the lies about modern China and modern Iran – after 13 years in France, I think I can do the same for the good people of France. ”

Now let’s truly begin!

Yellow Vest: Yes, I am proud of the Yellow Vest movement. We are trying to fix France’s many fundamental problems, and we never stopped despite all the repression. What’s shameful is that we didn’t start sooner, and that our leaders totally ignore us.

(Note: this book intersperses over 100 quotations taken from actual, marching Yellow Vests which were originally published in news reports on PressTV.)

The reasons for the Yellow Vests are historical in scope and complexity, but we can never agree on what the movement actually means without having a basic agreement and understanding of French and European history.

The second part of this book analyses the Yellow Vests in detail, but it necessarily rests upon the first part of this book, which is an analysis of the historical, economic and political context which existed up until the next nationwide Yellow Vest march (at the time of publication on Saturday March 19, 2022: today!). Therefore, this introduction chapter is needed to give the broad strokes of what has happened – with the eyes of a Yellow Vest – over the past several centuries.

Consider the brief following as a “quick glossary of revolution years”, to clarify where this particular writer is coming from, given that historical outlooks are both not universal and easy to incorrectly presume.

1492: Economic revolution: Victory over the Western hemisphere makes war/imperialism and trade newly hyper-profitable for Europe.

1688: England’s Glorious Revolution: The trading Whigs use these new types of profits to force in a foreign king, pass the English Bill of Rights, soon establish the prominence of parliament for the first time in English history – absolute monarchy is thus slightly widened into the creation of an aristocratic oligarchy. For modern Western conservatives this is the start and end of human and political rights.

1776: Victory of the new aboriginals (those born in the Western hemisphere) over all classes of Europe. Not a major revolution because no overturning of the social order was attempted. European imperialist/trade designs must begin to turn back to the Eastern hemisphere.

1789: Victory of the burghers, city workers and rural peasants over the clergy and noble classes. Noble class restored by 1815. The basis of human rights elaborated in the Declaration of Rights of Man and of the Citizen – first revolutionary attempt at overturning the social order.

1917: Victory of the city workers and rural peasants over the burghers, nobles and clergy.

1949: Victory of the rural peasants (confirmed during Cultural Revolution) over the city workers, burghers, nobles and clergy.

1979: Victory of workers and peasants in all areas and the clergy over the nobles and burghers.

1999: Economic debut (eurozone) of 1993 political revolution (European Union debut): Victory of burghers, nobles and new atheist/secular clergy over all workers.

In these eight dates are Europe’s most significant political-economic revolutions of the modern era.

The USSR, China and Iran must be included because they built upon the European ideas of 1789 – France was no longer able to. Via a class analysis we can see which class triumphed and what changed – which class fell, rose again or was completely altered. We also see that the European Union is as revolutionary a change – in a reactionary sense – as 1789 was, and why.

These eight dates are the simplest definition of what political-economic modernity is and what it became. A leftist-inspired view explains why, and I think this chronology extends deeper in time the Marxist view. Now a bit more detail, which I hope will be refreshing and informative:

In 1491 landed money dominated, as land was the primary source of wealth. Gold and silver was earned by trade and business. But the opening up of the New World was a staggering and revolutionary expansion of both commerce and war (imperialism). Europe is the part of Earth which profited the most, and we can fairly point to 1492 as the rise of the “bourgeoisie” in Europe because it represented an economic revolution as staggering as the industrial revolution: Just as Marx’s histories of 19th century France showed how landed, monarchical wealth “became bourgeois” (i.e. similar to and joined with the new forms of industrial-financial wealth), so we can show how imperialist-capitalist wealth “became bourgeois” much earlier. After all, this post-1492 trading class had just as much revolutionary power as 19th century industrial wealth: this is reflected by the 1688 Glorious Revolution, which forced in a foreign (Dutch) king to respect the very first (but still elitist) Bill of Rights.

The American Revolution initiated the first reversal of Europe’s staggering good fortune. In order to sustain their profits and New World investment/ponzi schemes, Europe’s trading/imperialist class was forced to soon attempt unprecedented colonisations of the Old World. The French occupation of Algeria in 1830 was the harbinger of EU neo-imperialism – Europe colonising Europe. (This will be explained further, but it’s rarely discussed today how France and Algeria were brothers in a culture much older than “Europe” – that of “Mediterranean Culture”. But I digress….) The American Revolution attempted no overturning of the social pyramid – it only heralded the continuation of more imperialism, which goes on until today.

The primary economic revolution of the French Revolution was not the killing of the king and the nationalisation of his lands but was actually produced by the nationalisation of the lands of the Roman Catholic Church. This produced the assignat, truly the wrongly-maligned Bitcoin of its day: It was a new type of paper money – paper which represented the value expected from the sale of the confiscated lands of the Roman church. Edmund Burke, a Whig, the nouveau riche trader-based group which rose to power to effectuate the 1688 English Revolution, is universally considered to be the father of modern Western conservatism in 2022 not only because he railed in favor of rule by an oligarchical bourgeois-aristocratic elite, but also because he railed against this new “paper money”, which would necessarily gain power at the expense of “proper, well-mannered” landed wealth and trader wealth, much as Bitcoin threatens the monetary status quo today.

During the Soviet Revolution of 1917 the nobility fell to never return. Also gutted, finally, was the trader/burgher class. This is the first sustained people’s revolution, and it reappropriated the expropriating power of the “bourgeois”, which by 1917 was the combination of the different classes of monarchist-landed wealth, trader-imperialist wealth and industrial-financial wealth. Explaining how the different “classes” of wealth combined to thwart the masses – and thus, “… because class warfare” – is one of Marx’s greatest contributions. I think, however, he made a mistake not to go back to 1492 and include my aforementioned economic revolution in trade/imperialism. Lenin and his cohorts did not make this mistake of underestimating imperialism.

The Chinese Revolution would go further than in 1917 in that the rural masses would no longer be the bottom of the pyramid, but be pushed onto the top. No longer were factory workers and urbanites considered to be the primary repository of and motivator for redistributions of economic and political power, but the average person – period – and that meant the average peasant. To elaborate on this point of view I recommend Dongping Han, or an 8-part series I wrote in 2019 on China’s Cultural Revolution.

The Iranian Revolution of 1979 marks the return of the clergy class to power, but in a completely different context: Unlike in 1789 the clergy is not stocked by and for nobility, but here was firmly allied with all workers against the burghers and nobility, while also being totally conscious of Marxism, Leninism-Stalinism and Maoism.

1999 marks the lamentable return of both the nobles and the burghers, as well as an awful new type of clergy. It’s a “neoliberal empire”, but it’s merely a modern version of what the Whigs installed in 1688. The burghers and nobility/aristocracy/neo-aristocracy (whatever you prefer to call them) have restored their rule over all workers, urban or rural. It’s only “revolution” is to institute a secularism – latent and superficial Christianity combined with a strong atheism – which is fully allied with the burghers and elite and against all workers. It’s like the French Revolution never happened – oligarchy dominates. The Yellow Vests arrive in 2018 when Emmanuel Macron’s “neoliberal revolution” hits the birthplace of political modernity, France.

That is a class analysis which sums up the last 500 years of European history quite succinctly. This analysis correctly reduces the traditional socialist emphasis on the Industrial Revolution, which allows us to expand the importance of the imperialism which began in 1492 and continues into today. After all, reduced wages for factory workers gives the elite much riches, but not as much as imperialist domination and war! And it is not with the railroad but the increase in the power and reach of the ship which marked the true start of West European commerce’s ability to create an expanded and more politically-powerful trader class – Henry VIII of England (reign 1509-47) is known as the “father of the English navy”, and is one of many proofs I can give to buttress the above timeline and analysis which re-emphasises the power of 1492 and of imperialism’s longstanding political influence in Europe.

And for those who want only short aphorisms: The economic life of humanity can be summed up most easily as “slavery, wage-slavery, debt slavery” – Western Liberal Democracy is the desire of the elite for debt-slavery to persist, while Socialist Democracy desires to end both slavery and the elite.

These ideas are obviously both broad and condensed – fleshing them out with more detail is why the first part of a book on the Yellow Vests requires a historical overview which goes back further than just 2018.

Yellow Vest: “We have to understand the social misery which is the reason this movement was created. This also is the reason why there is so much social violence. But were the marches to stop now, that would be the movement has failed, and so they must keep marching.”

But there is the world to consider, and then there is just la belle France.

The need for a new leftist history of France which incorporates the EU and the Yellow Vests

It’s often said that the French are the intellectuals Europe – they are, but not in practice. What’s accurate to say is: The French are the ignored intellectuals of Europe.

The European Union is undoubtedly the combination of English parliamentarianism with Teutonic fiscal elitism. European history since 1789 is most easily defined as Anglo-Germanic monarchism fighting implacably against the political advances which arose in France.

Those last three words – “arose in France” – are so widely assumed to be true, ethnocentrically, that it requires many, many books to overcome this false arrogance of Europe’s sole ownership of political modernity. Therefore, I will spend only this one paragraph on it in this book about the Yellow Vests: The ideas of political freedom and equality obviously spread from the New World to the Old World, contrary to European claims. More accurately, all great cultural advances are the result of cultures inter-mixing. This idea of political equality passing from “west to east” across the Atlantic is proposed in the anthropological book 1491, and the author’s coda is dedicated to calling for more examination of this idea. The truth of this couldn’t be more obvious when we realise how much it must have changed colonial Europeans, who were so inured to absolute monarchy, by coming into contact with thriving Native American egalitarianism. We cannot debate this point, though Europeans will, foolishly.

Concepts of political equality are thus not native to Europeans, but why did they sprout first in the French part of Europe? Clearly, geography destined Western Europe to make the first Old World contact with the New World, but why didn’t “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” arise in England, Spain or the Netherlands?

Again, another difficult question to which I will devote just this one paragraph in a book about the Yellow Vests: In my opinion, entirely too much precedence is given to the modern idea of “Europe” when for France the multi-millennia “Mediterranean Culture” has obviously had a longer and more profound influence on the French. France’s history is dominated by 2,500 years of contact with North Africa – Scandinavia and Slavs are but recent friends. In the long-thriving “Mediterranean Culture” France was a major power, but not a primary power: Unlike Greece, Rome or Egypt, France was always a runner-up and never a leader. Therefore they know what it is to be permanently denied empowerment, self-determination, sovereignty, etc. France is seemingly a perennial #2 or #3, even in the past two centuries of imperialism. Significantly, also, they were not re-shaped by Protestantism, which – as exemplified by English and American culture – is often synonymous with an arrogant idea of “bequeathed natural merit, outstanding personal exceptionalism and God’s chosen grace”. Thus the ever-losing French, with their Catholic (the word means “universal”) outlook, would be especially open among the European colonisers to the enlightened ideas of equality of Native Americans, I believe. This is more difficult to prove, but voila – I have laid out my theory, and now turn back to far more practical, knowable matters.

Whatever the reason for France’s enlightened political intellectualism, and no matter how much it was smothered by the Hapsburgs, Hanovers, Windsors (name change in 1917: formerly called the house of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha), Bismarcks and Metterniches of Europe, the fact of it remains, as does today’s fact that they remain Europe’s ignored intellectuals.

Yellow Vest: “There isn’t democracy any more in France. Macron is a king who hasn’t given us anything – he is no different than the king of Morocco or Saudi Arabia – and that’s why we can’t stop until he leaves.”

The European Union is not based on the ideals of 1789 but the ideals of what is most often termed today as “neoliberalism”. But for neoliberalism to ignore 1789 across all of Europe we must realise that ideals of 1789 are suppressed in France today as well, just as much as the Yellow Vests are suppressed.

In the French book Le fond de l’air est jaune (There’s a Yellow in the Air) the French historian Sophie Wahnich wrote this about domestic teaching regarding the French Revolution: “It has practically disappeared from universities.” She attributes this, unsurprisingly, to the Mecca of neoliberalism, the University of Chicago. During the cultural coverage of the bicentennial of the French Revolution – essentially the very timeframe when “neoliberalism” was starting to emerge with Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher – French historian Francois Furet emerged as the most prominent (revisionist) historian of the Revolution’s bicentennial debates. Furet was a commonplace success: the former leftist who renounced leftism for reaction and was thus feted by a capitalist-imperialist mainstream media. Furet replaced the idea of popular action with great man-ism; deemed the French Revolution inherently totalitarian and anti-democratic; and rejected the classic Marxist interpretation. Essentially, the French elite silenced the average Frenchman’s pride in the French Revolution and forced them to adopt the view of the winners. Which is, as George Orwell wrote, “To the average Englishman, the French Revolution means no more than a pyramid of severed heads.” To many young French students now as well, sadly, but not to the Yellow Vests, certainly.

France is more than just the French Revolution, but it is certainly the inescapable foundation of all modern politics. It is only historical nihilism which would insist that there is no differentiating between eras of human history – between caveman and pharaonic, feudal and modern, etc.

Therefore, just as I divided European political-economic history into just two handfuls of key events, we can reject the neoliberal, reactionary view of people like Furet and instead rely on a popular, Marxist-inspired view to help us succinctly update the history of France since 1788:

1788: Absolute autocracy exists across the European Continent, with the very mild exception of the United Kingdom’s oligarchy.

1789: The move away from autocracy begins – the beginnings for both Western Liberal Democracy and Socialist Democracy. In 1792 the 23-year “European War Against the French Revolution” begins. This era is usually divided into the “French Revolutionary Wars” and the “Napoleonic Wars” in order to distort history.

1794: The apex of Robespierre, wealth redistribution, democratisation and rights for the 99% with the Constitution of 1793 – it is never implemented.

1799: The overwhelming election of Napoleon Bonaparte, the “centrist revolutionary” as First Consul. He takes a middle path between Jacobinism and absolute monarchy.

1815: Restoration of Bourbon absolute monarchy – political failure of the French Revolution following 23 years of monarchical-led wars to topple it.

1830: Replacement of the land-based House of Bourbon monarchy with the House of Orleans monarchy, which had an industrial-financial base. Conquest of Algeria – a former part of the “Mediterranean Culture” which France has been a key part of since 600 BC – begins.

1848: European-wide revolution as the result of the ideals of 1789 finally being embraced in Germanic lands. Ends in total failure everywhere but France: Western Liberal Democracy begins here, implemented as the 2nd French Republic.

1851: Failure of Western Liberal Democracy provokes the self-coup of President Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, which would be sanctioned by what was then the largest popular vote in history. He, too, is a “centrist revolutionary” – against both the despised and ineffectual first attempt at Western Liberal Democracy and the absolute monarchs which reign across Europe, still.

1871: Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte is deposed during the Franco-Prussian War of 1871. Paris Commune occurs in response to the popular rejection of monarchy, Bonapartism and Western Liberal Democracy: Socialist Democracy begins here. Collusion of French Western Liberal Democrats with Germanic & French monarchists in the four-month siege of Paris results in the forced restoration of Western Liberal Democracy, implemented as the Third French Republic: “Neoliberalism” begins here. To quote Marx on The Paris Commune: “The republic has not subverted the throne, only taken its place; become vacant.”

1914: “World War to Forestall Socialism” begins.

1936: Last legislative election of the Third Republic sees French leftists win nearly 60% majority following Western Liberal Democracy’s bloodletting, popularly called World War I, and subsequent economic mismanagement, popularly known as the Great Depression.

1940: “Second World War to Forestall Socialism” begins, aka World War II. Majority of France occupied by Germanic National Socialists, who reject both Socialist Democracy and Western Liberal Democracy.

1945-75: Era of Social Democracy begins, greatly influenced by Socialist Democracy’s victory across Eastern Europe. Following the second great bloodletting and economic collapse, both of which were caused by the perpetual failure of Western Liberal Democracy, some economic and political concessions are wrested from the 1%. Known in France as the “30 Glorious Years” due to the economic stability the average French person enjoyed.

1976-99: In the Anglophone world Liberalism gets fully restored – Social Democracy’s gains were always few there. Liberalism re-wins over the French elite but the French masses fight to maintain the gains of Social Democracy. French popular rejection of neoliberalism and the European Union evidenced in successful mass protests, referendums, etc.

2009: Socialism’s “20 Years In the Wilderness” ends – a similar era is called the “Special Period in the Time of Peace” in Cuba. Socialism With Chinese Characteristics explodes past Western Liberal Democracy, which has been crippled by the “Great Recession”, the anti-democratic methods and aims of European Union & Eurozone, and the wasteful warmongering of the United States.

2010: For the first time in the postwar era France’s elite refuses to heed massive French protests after Brussels orders retirement age to be raised. (Ramin Mazaheri reports from major French socioeconomic protests!) Era of Social Democracy ends, replaced with “Neoliberal Empire” of European Union.

2018: One year after “neoliberal revolutionary” Emmanuel Macron takes office, completing the historic re-conquest of Liberalism, the Yellow Vests appear. Massive repression guts the credibility of Western Liberal Democracy. Final victory of Liberalism in France if Yellow Vests fully repressed?

Yellow Vest: “We are in a dictatorship, and Macron is the dictator. This tyranny existed in France before, but Macron has been arrogant enough to make it obvious to the whole world. Our president is now the enemy of the French people.”

Thus we see the reason why the second part of this book is needed: If the Yellow Vests fail it is possible that “neoliberalism” – i.e. the elite-loving Western Liberal Democracy which was voted down (in 1852) after just three years in power — has prevailed in France as fully as in England or the United States. How important it is to understand and appreciate the Yellow Vests!

The Yellow Vests: Are the torchbearers of 1789, the West’s last hope against liberalism’s complete restoration?

There are those (like me) who constantly decry “fake leftism”, which is centrism/rightism posing as leftism. It would be a huge, unforgivable error not to shout eureka when real leftism shows itself – and it does with the Yellow Vests.

What the above quick-histories should indicate is that France’s model for the past 70 years – a type of Social Democracy which is as strong as any on the Continent, including the often-cited “Scandinavian model” – has been wilfully dismantled despite spectacular popular disapproval, and thanks to foreign elite domination aided by domestic collusion from French elites. The goal of this unwanted breakdown of Social Democracy is to implement a return to the first post-feudal order (the feudal order died in 1789) – that of Western Liberal Democracy (born in 1848) – which has been ideologically defeated by Socialist Democracy (which began in 1871).

To re-paraphrase Marx for 2022: A throne of autocracy still exists, even in Western constitutional republics like France – the people do not sit on it, but an oligarchy. The UK – the only country to fight against the French Revolution in all seven Coalition Wars against it, from 1792-1815 – is thrilled about that. The Yellow Vests may or may not be revolutionaries for Socialist Democracy, but they are – undoubtedly – fighting to maintain the hard-won postwar concessions which Western Liberal Democrats were forced to temporarily give.

Call this restoration of Western Liberal Democracy “neoliberalism” if you insist, but a soiled rose always smells unsweet: Western Liberal Democracy joins together landed monarchical money, commercial money, imperialist money, and bourgeois financial-industrial money to put the state at the service of this economic elite and not at the service of the people. To maintain their supremacy this economic elite engages in constant, global class war, with the goal of making no concessions at all to the political and economic redistributions championed by Socialist Democracy.

The above analysis is needed because it precisely explains why the oppression of the Yellow Vests is on a scope which has not been seen in France in nearly a century:

The imperialist wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Mali, Syria and elsewhere – all of which were raging in 2018 – were not nearly as important to the Western ruling class as the crushing of the Yellow Vest rebellion, which threatened “neoliberalism’s” victory over both Social Democratic and Socialist Democratic ideas. Such a victory would entail a redistribution of wealth and power which far exceeds the loss of cheap African uranium, weapons sales to the Middle East or client regimes in paltry Third World economies. Ask yourself if Marx would disagree – that the oppression of the Yellow Vests, which threaten the entire “bourgeois order” of the 5th Republic, wouldn’t be more important to French and Western elite than Tuareg rebellions to wrest control of the sandy northern part of Mali, Assad’s ageing Baathists or the Taliban’s control of one the world’s poorest countries?

Yellow Vest: “There has been enormous repression never seen before in France. Even in 1968 it was not as bad as this. But this has been the policy chosen by the president in order to break the movement. We will keep improvising new solutions to win our demands.”

There’s a reason their success was so stunning and threatening: The Yellow Vests achieved a 75% approval rating despite a massive police, media and state propaganda war against them and, crucially, despite the reigning context of total rejection of all political actors (unions, media, political parties, political personalities, religious leaders, etc.). They miraculously united a French populace which was seemingly impossible to unite – their only opponent was a 20% “Bourgeois Bloc”, headed by Emmanuel Macron, which is the direct legacy of absolute monarchy, industrial-financial-imperialist wealth and aristocratic/oligarchical elitism.

From November 2018 until June 2019 France was undoubtedly in a pre-revolutionary situation, in which the mass of the pyramid completely rejected the governance style and governors of the elite. It was only via a nationwide brawl every Saturday, then legalised by a raft of repressive anti-Yellow Vest laws, which frightened an already-apathetic populace back into apathy. No Western imperialist country has ever seen the police brutality, lockdowns, assaults, preemptive arrests, laws designed to revoke the most dearly held rights of Western Liberalists, propaganda campaigns and everything else heaped on top of the Yellow Vests in order to to scare French citizens from expressing publicly their dissatisfaction with public policy.

The “spectre” of Yellow Vest rebellion thus became synonymous with the “spectre” of the French Revolution and the “spectre” of socialism – i.e. an Anglophone and Teutonic bias against any change in Europe from what is the barest improvement from absolute monarchy: parliamentary monarchism/presidentialism.

This book places the Yellow Vests in this historical context: Yes we can understand these political, economic and social trends. Yes we can understand our own – the people’s own – history. Yes we will remember yesterday. Yes we do know the Yellow Vests will be out there next Saturday March 26, 2022.

At the heart of the gradual reformism which underpins Western Liberal Democracy is the insistence that we must wait for equality. Why? Why must we wait for the enjoyment of political rights, and for social and economic policies which promote equality? Why should we listen to orders which are issued by those who have the most of the pie to lose and their sycophants?

The Yellow Vests are not the first to ask these questions, but you must agree that they have asked it the most insistently and courageously seemingly anywhere in the West – and certainly in France – in nearly a century. That alone makes this book necessary reading.

In 2022 two things are certain:

  1. Europe’s theocratic absolute monarchs – who were truly the first “globalist 1%” – and their ideology of autocracy and elitism have been subsumed by, not opposed by, Western Liberal Democracy.
  2. Despite all the repression, maiming, prison sentences, court cases, smearing, return of apathy and general climate of fear, at countless traffic roundabouts and demonstrations every Saturday the Yellow Vests are essentially doing what Lenin has said the dictatorship of the working classes should do: “Teach every cook to govern the state.” They are talking about politics, and they are getting more and more ready to govern.

The Yellow Vests victories are real and must be understood, as they are a potentially international answer to the historic problem of how to progress towards Socialist Democracy, equality and peace. Certainly, as my chapter list shows, they have already abolished Western Liberal Democratic totems both old and recent.

We now have a necessary historic overview to begin discussing modern France. Let’s begin to break with the Western Liberal Democracy’s arch-conservative stranglehold with the next chapter: Burke’s endless reaction: 1789 & feudalism’s end creates modern conservatism

<—>

Upcoming chapter list of the brand-new content in France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. The book will also include previous writings from 2018 through the 2022 election in order to provide the most complete historical record of the Yellow Vests anywhere. What value! Publication date: June 1, 2022.

Pre-orders of the paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the Kindle version may be made here.

Pre-orders of the French paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the French Kindle version may be made here.

Chapter List of the new content

  • New book announcement – ‘France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s best values’ – March 15, 2022
  • Introduction: A Yellow Vests’ history must rewrite both recent & past French history
  • Burke’s endless reaction: 1789 & feudalism’s end creates modern conservatism
  • Glorious Revolution of 1688: England declares ‘death to all other revolutions’
  • Modern political history makes no sense if Napoleon is not a leftist revolutionary
  • The Revolutions of 1848: Because Liberalism can’t say the ‘Counter-Revolutions of 1848’
  • Louis-Napoleon: The revolutionary differences between Bonapartism & Western Liberal Democracy
  • The Paris Commune: The true birth of neoliberalism and EU neo-imperialism
  • Where the West is stuck: The fascism of the 1930s and the ‘fascism’ of the 2020s
  • On ‘Leon Trotsky on France’ in order to reclaim Trotsky from Trotskyists
  • The Yellow Vests’ childhood: Seeing French elites, only, swayed by neoliberalism
  • No one here is actually in charge: How the EU empire forced the Yellow Vests
  • The radicalisation by Europe’s ongoing Lost Decade: the Great Recession changes France
  • To Yellow Vests he’s the radical: Macron and ‘Neither Right nor Left but the Bourgeois Bloc’
  • Yellow Vests: At worst, the most important French movement for a century
  • Who are they, really? Ask a reporter whose seen a million Yellow Vest faces
  • Yellow Vest Win: Ending the West’s slandering of all popular movements as far-right xenophobes
  • Yellow Vest Win: The end of Western anarcho-syndicalism & unions as leftism’s hereditary kings
  • Yellow Vest Win: The end of Western parliamentarianism as the most progressive government
  • Yellow Vest Win: Reminding us of the link between fascist violence & Western democracy
  • What the Yellow Vests can be: a group which can protect liberalism’s rights, at least
  • The 2022 vote: The approach needed for ‘Before’- what came ‘After’ polls closed
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