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

by Ollie Richardson for The Saker Blog

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Background

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Exportation isn’t possible

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Good evening everyone,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Courage to all’.”

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

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

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

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And here is a makeshift village created at Vienne:

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. The Yellow Vests are apolitical… or not?

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

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“Big rant this morning!

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

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

All we get is DIVISION !!!!

Where are our true values!

We are all in the same shit.

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

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

When will a true gathering and union come true?

Everyone has their own opinion.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. The coup in Ukraine paradoxically serves as an example

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

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

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

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

10. The most shocking contrast

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

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

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

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

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

May 23, 2019

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

 

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

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

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

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

That is the essence of China’s Cultural Revolution.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Cultural Revolution lessons for modern schools

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Yellow Vest CR must include major educational reform:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And yet they do admit this….

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

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

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

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

Series Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 05, 2019

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What went down at the hospital

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stupid….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All in all – not a bad day

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

French Muslim support of the Yellow Vests ignored by media

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

French Muslim support of the Yellow Vests ignored by media

Even though the Yellow Vest anti-government movement is historic in scope, duration and intensity, and even though Muslims compose 5-10% of France’s population, there has been almost zero media coverage of the interplay between these two forces.

Check Google in French or English and you truly find almost nothing. I have been waiting and waiting to do a story on this angle for Iran’s PressTV – I am their Paris correspondent – but there is simply no “news peg” from which we can start any report.

The reasons for this silence are due to a four key reasons but, mostly, it’s because the plight of Muslims and Yellow Vests are so obviously similar: just as French media ignores the Muslim community to promote violent misrepresentations instead, so they ignore the true substance of the Yellow Vests in favor of tabloid coverage.

For years I have talked with Nagib Azergui, who is the founder of the Democratic Union of French Muslims (English-language website here). This party is the most realistic political hope for France’s Muslims, and they seem certain to win seats in next month’s EU elections. They are not Islamists nor pushers of divisive identity politics – they are completely concerned with improving the lives of all French people. Secondarily, they have taken on a tough job – decontaminating Muslims in domestic French politics.

Azergui and I discussed why there is no media coverage of the Muslim Yellow Vests, and the level of support for the Yellow Vests in the French Muslim community.

French Muslims are indeed joining the Yellow Vests

I have covered the Yellow Vest demonstrations for months and I can assure you: there are plenty of Muslim Yellow Vests.

So why is there an impression that Muslims are not part of the movement? About the only thing we ever hear on the subject is: What a pity more Muslims didn’t show up.

“We heard the same complaints for the ‘Je Suis Charlie’ march for Charlie Hebdo,” said Azergui, referring to the attack on the satirical paper’s headquarters in 2015. “I was at the march with my children, and I saw many Muslims there.”

Azergui hits the nail on the head as to why Muslim Yellow Vests are hiding in plain sight from French media, which is hardly known for positive portrayals of Islam or Muslims.

“I think such statements reveal the subconscious image these commentators have of French Muslims – they expect us to show up wearing burkas, beards, African clothing, chanting slogans in Arabic and carrying signs in Arabic. But these types of Muslims are simply not representative of the average Muslim in France.”

So the first reason behind this false idea that there are no Muslim Yellow Vests is that many commentators are looking for caricatures – not French Muslims.

Muslims in France look very much like regular French people because they are regular French people.

A Black or Arab Yellow Vester does not stick out, mainly because all Yellow Vests look the same – they are wearing shiny Yellow Vests!

Let’s not forget that Muslims are a minority – there is about the same percentage of Muslims as there are people with red hair in often-Celtic France. Frankly, I have seen a million Yellow Vest faces and I can’t recall a single redhead – should I ask, “Why aren’t Celtic French supporting the Yellow Vests?” Of course, redheads are surely present… and often with plenty of Celtic-pride paraphernalia.

So the only way Muslims could get attention at Yellow Vest demonstrations is by being “excessively Muslim”… but such a thing is rather absurd, will not happen, and would certainly be dangerous – Muslim-pride paraphernalia would only attract negative attention, and Muslims already get enough of that.

Zero doubt among Muslims: when the truncheons fly, Muslims will get hit first

And the truncheons do fly every Saturday.

French police simply love to abuse Muslims: an estimated 70% of their prisoners are from Muslim backgrounds. French police simply love to abuse Yellow Vests. Police violence is guaranteed at which ever city is the week’s “focus”.

So the sight of a Muslim Yellow Vester makes many cops salivate. It also makes judges salivate at sentencing time.

Muslims would be the first victims of police brutality,” confirmed Azergui. “They are always the sacrificial lambs in France, so why would it be any different at the Yellow Vest protests?

On April 20th the police abuse was constant in Paris. Medics were working overtime as people were dropping like flies, but I only saw one unconscious person carried out on a stretcher – he was Black and thus quite possibly a Muslim, of course.

This guarantee of a double helping of both police brutality and judicial impunity is the second reason, but likely the most important reason, why Muslims might not be so eye-catching at Yellow Vest demonstrations.

This violence adds to the media silence – talking about Muslims and Yellow Vests would have to break the taboo against honest discussion of the institutionalised state violence towards the Muslim community.

Sad but true: one of the “great” things about the Yellow Vests is that it’s not only Muslims who are being brutalised anymore.

“France is starting to wake up to reality,” said Azergui. “When 4,000 Muslim families had their homes raided without a warrant during the State of Emergency, France didn’t care about police violence. There are so many images and videos which show how French cops abuse old people, women and innocent people – this is something Muslims live with daily. How could Muslims not have solidarity with such a movement?

Azergui’s thoughts reminded me of the case of Ali Ziri, a 69-year old Algerian native who was infamously beaten to death by French cops in 2009. Police violence is a real taboo in France, and by taking so many beatings the Yellow Vests are helping out their Muslim brothers and sisters.

Yellow Vests haven’t done enough to reach out to Muslims

The Yellow Vests are absolutely not an Islamophobic movement because none of their demands are steeped in religion or ethnicity. Their demands are economic, political and social – this is a class-based struggle.

The idea that because the Yellow Vests are a rural-based movement that they must be latently Islamophobic is absolutely false – in the 21st century there are at least a few Muslims in seemingly every tiny French village. Such accusations only reveals prejudice against rural people, and certainly in France and the West it is very au courant for urbanites to look down on small-town people as a “basket of deplorables”.

The Yellow Vests only trust other Yellow Vests – the only color they see is Yellow. As a worker for Iranian government media I am routinely persona non grata at many fake-leftist demonstrations, and even truly leftist ones, due to Iranophobia and Islamophobia. The only demonstrations I am welcomed at in France are for pro-Palestinians… and now the Yellow Vests, too. So I have no doubt – Muslims are welcome at Yellow Vest gatherings.

However, Yellow Vests have made some mistakes, and also failed to take some proper measures. At the very start of the movement Yellow Vests infamously turned in asylum-seekers to authorities, give the initial impression that extreme-right contaminated the Yellow Vests.

“The Yellow Vests are not a structured movement, but they have not done a good job repudiating some Islamophobic acts and disassociating themselves from Islamophobia completely. They just said, ‘Well, there are always some imbeciles in every crowd.’ That has left some lingering suspicions in the Muslim community.”

If the Yellow Vests would only organize a march dedicated to Muslim outreach I can promise – you will get at least one reporter there to help permanently dismiss this false accusation of Islamophobia. The rest of the French media… they might not be so interested in reporting it accurately.

Yellow Vests certainly do plenty of other demonstrations dedicated to certain themes and issues. It was absolutely necessary for the Yellow Vests to march in February against the absolutely false accusation that they were anti-Semitic. That was all a ruse to pave the way for Macron’s announcement that he would criminalise anti-Zionism – but we can understand why Muslims said to each other, “And where’s the march for us?”

Indeed, where? Why not?

The third reason for the lack of publicised interchange between the Yellow Vests and Muslims is that many Muslims may have been put off by the false propaganda campaigns of the Mainstream Media, and because we have yet to see a real Muslim outreach from the Yellow Vests.

Massive support for Yellow Vests from Muslims, even if sometimes from afar

When I asked Azergui if Muslims support the Yellow Vests he answered, “Yes,” before I had even finished the question.

In an unfortunate but perhaps real sense, many Muslims feel that they are best helping the Yellow Vests by staying out of it.

“If Muslims showed up and there were fights and destruction of property, we know the media would say these are ‘violent Islamists’, and this would only hurt the image of the Yellow Vests. We have already even heard this type of discourse.”

Azergui is right – last year there were absurd conspiracy theories that the Muslim Brotherhood was orchestrating the Yellow Vests – but Muslims simply must participate anyway.

That brings us to our fourth reason why Muslims haven’t attended Yellow Vest demonstrations in huge numbers – Muslims have never been allowed, encouraged or motivated to participate in French politics, so why would this time be any different?

Muslims were hidden underground in France for decades, after all. Their coming out party wasn’t until 1985 with the Touche pas mon pote (Don’t touch my buddy) campaign. The arrival of Nicolas Sarkozy as Interior Minister, then the mainstreaming of Islamophobia under Francois Hollande, then Macron’s normalisation of the Muslim-targeting State of Emergency – all this has reinforced to Muslims that their participation in French politics is neither useful nor desired.

So, of course the French media doesn’t want to talk about the Muslims and the Yellow Vests, because it only reminds France of their total failure to include the Muslim community in politics. And they like dominating, controlling and suppressing Muslims – let’s not act as if neo-imperialism is not alive and well in France.

So let’s not pretend that Mainstream Media really cares about Muslims and democracy, nor mainstream politicians: Despite all the Muslims in France, Macron no longer has a single Muslim minister in his cabinet. If Marine Le Pen had won the election she’d surely at least have a token Muslim minister….

Yellow Vests and Muslims are the two largest groups in France which suffer from socioeconomic marginalization – there is no doubt that they will be open political allies, eventually. We have 5 months of proof – the far-right contamination of the Yellow Vests was drastically overstated; by reaching out to Muslims immediately, the movement can even further display their leftist, progressive, class basis.

But there are obviously a raft of obstacles keeping Muslims from openly joining the Yellow Vest movement, mainly: mainstream media, mainstream politicians, and backwards policing and judicial methods. But not individual (nor collective) Yellow Vests.

The reality is that if the Yellow Vest movement does not adopt an open policy of anti-Islamophobia it will never succeed – how can it succeed when such a huge part of the company is not fully involved? Nor can it be considered a truly leftist movement – how can it be if race, religion or ethnic culture is prioritised over class?

However, it is truly leftist and it will succeed, I feel.

It is not a question of “who has to make the first step”, because Muslims are already involved with the Yellow Vests. However, both sides need to increase their cooperation and outreach for the good of France, the Eurozone, the European Union and the entire world.

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

Red Guards ain’t all red: Who fought whom in China’s Cultural Revolution? (5/8)

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

Red Guards ain’t all red: Who fought whom in China’s Cultural Revolution? (5/8)

In Part 3 of this 8-part series I answered the question raised by that part’s title: Why was a Cultural Revolution needed in already-Red China? To recap: China wanted something which the Eurozone has none of: participatory economic planning. China also wanted much more participatory democracy (political empowerment) at the local level and to move even further away from an all-controlling, imperious central state.

But why did this require a decade-long Cultural Revolution (CR)? The answer to that question is: all Red Guards, promoted to install the CR, weren’t all red!

This article will explain something never even hinted at in Western (faux) histories of China: the differences between the two Red Guard factions – the one on the left of the spectrum of socialist political thought, and the one on the right side of the spectrum.

This explains why the primary victims of the Red Guards were… the Red Guards! But that likely needs further explanation….

These party differences were so deep, so broad, so ingrained and so fiercely held that China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution is perhaps best conceived of as “China’s Socialist Civil War”. The CR truly was China’s center and left against their right-wing… but we must remember that “right-wing” in a socialist context is still far, far to the left of the “right-wing” in a capitalist context. Of course, China also had some unrepentant “Western right-wing” citizens who refused to adopt socialism who were also involved.

But we live in a world today where many disbelieve in the concept of a hard and scientific “political spectrum”. Many refute any sort of standardization of political thought, as if a person’s political ideas could be so incredibly unique that they defy labeling of any sort, despite the obvious hindrance to understanding and solidarity this belief can’t help but create. Given this widespread error, we should not be surprised that the Western Mainstream Media has no interest at all in fully describing the Chinese spectrum of battling forces during the CR; for them the CR is divided into murderous savages (the Party, the government, students) and totally-innocent victims (usually professors, intellectuals, and those forced to shovel manure instead of constantly talking it).

I will soon explain how Red Guards were the greatest victims of the CR, but to do so I must first dispense with the Western idea that China’s CR was some sort of power-struggle and byproduct of a Mao-cult, as opposed to being a truly democratic event.

The CR’s democratic bonafides are are proven by the fact that there was massive popular involvement. Conversely, the Eurogroup – which decides the economic policies of the Eurozone – is not democratic because there is extremely limited involvement in decision-making.

This is verified in The Unknown Cultural Revolution: Life and Change in a Chinese Village by Dongping Han, who was raised and educated in rural Jimo County, China and is now a university professor in the US. Han interviewed hundreds of rebel leaders, farmers, officials and locals, and accessed official local data to provide an exhaustive analysis of seeming unparalled objectivity and focus regarding the Cultural Revolution in China. Han was kind enough to write the forward to my brand-new bookI’ll Ruin Everything you Are: Ending Western Propaganda in Red China. I hope you can buy a copy for yourself and your 300 closest friends.

“These mass associations (definition coming shortly) were formed largely in the spirit of free association, and enjoyed tremendous independence and freedom. They cut across clan and family lines. It was common for people from the same clan and same family to join different associations. People came together because of their political views. With few exceptions, all of the adult population belonged to one mass association or another.” (emphasis mine)

The Chinese Socialist Civil War showed the one indispensable hallmark of producing a true & successful revolution: universal political participation. In Russia in 1917 or in Iran in 1979, everybody – and I mean everybody – talked politics all the time.

It should not be surprising that the opposite is true: in hugely reactionary cultures like the US or the UK serious political discussion is verboten among friends and family. This is the reason why far-right thinking dominates in these countries – conservatism and traditionalism go unopposed. However, in China the far-right had been (quite properly) banned in 1949; therefore, the CR was a battle among “Chinese right-wing socialists”…which shows how very much more advanced and evolved Chinese political discussion and culture is compared with Anglophone countries, where right-wing elements still are allowed to confuse, distort and champion horrid ideas.

The “mass associations” which Han refers to needs his explanation:

I personally feel there is a need to distinguish between mass organizations and mass associations. The former term would be applied to the organizations like the militia, the Communist Youth League, women’s association, workers’ unions and the official Red Guards which were set up by the CCP and were official in nature. The latter term would refer to the independent Red Guard groups formed largely in the spirit of free association. … Both the rebels and the defenders of the Party leaders were called Red Guards. The rebels were called zaofan pai (rebel faction) while the defenders were known as the baohuang pai (loyalist or royalist faction)….”

This distinction is the essence of the CR: the conflict was between those who were pushed by Mao to criticize the Party in a never-before seen manner – the Rebel Faction (associations) – and those who opposed such criticism and changes – the Loyalist Faction (organizations); both were “Red Guards”, however.

Essentially, the Loyalist Faction Red Guards didn’t know what they were getting into when they started the new CR, as they soon found themselves under attack.

Why the Cultural Revolution was totally different to China, from the Chinese perspective

Han relates in detail and in real-time how the CR came to Jimo County: who were the “rebel leaders”, who were the criticized Party members, who fought back against the CR, and how it evolved from what could have been just another “anti-rightist campaign”, like in 1957, or yet another of near-yearly “anti-corruption campaigns”, into something wholly new – a CR.

Let’s start at the beginning:

“At the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, the CCP had total control of Chinese political and economic life. …(the CCP) held the reins of power at each level.”

But what Mao and his supporters wanted was to provoke was something which was previously banned as “anti-party thought” – independent criticism of Party authorities. (Such criticism is widespread in Iran – the critics have not succeeded in persuading Iranians to abandon their revolution, however.)

The democratic bonafides of the CR are further strengthened by the fact that those who openly criticized the government were not punished, but given power. That is a very rare phenomenon. But we are skipping ahead – the first rare phenomenon is that poor rural people were given platforms to explain where their Party-led society had failed, and where the empowerment created by socialist revolution had not yet reached.

“It (the CR) differs from all the previous political campaigns because for the first time in the CCP’s history it circumvented the local party bosses and stressed the principle of letting the masses empower themselves and educate themselves.” (Han’s emphasis)

This is the revolution within a socialist revolution provided by Maoism – only installing a vanguard party is not enough to achieve on-the-ground, democratic socialism.

The first two months of the CR (June-July 1966) saw attacks on the “Four Olds” –in essence, attacks on outdated, repressive and capitalist customs, cultures, habits, and ideas. This was led by the Loyalist Faction Red Guards, to be distinguished from the Rebel Faction Red Guards who came to power later.

“Of course, from the point of view of local party officials, campaigns to destroy the four olds and attack landlords, capitalists and political enemies were convenient ways to divert attention from themselves and protect themselves from attack.” So in this way the first couple months of the CR was a really just a “pseudo-CR”, because it was led by many of the corrupt cadres themselves.

But what stopped this “pseudo-CR” was the August 1966 Mao-faction drafted “16 Points”, which boldly and correctly proclaimed as its headline: “A New Stage in the Socialist Revolution”. The 16 points is briefly summarized here, but to recap: capitalism is essentially a negative societal habit, and if this habit is not broken wherever it is found within a socialist society then it will lead to the unwanted restoration of capitalism-imperialism. Thus, the CR requires vigorous refutation and discrediting of proven anti-socialist thought and influence.

Crucially, the 16 Points, “…made the distinction between the Communist party as an institution and party bosses as individuals in a definitive manner, and which stressed that the targets of the Cultural Revolution were the capitalist roaders inside the Party.” (Han’s emphasis)

Capitalist roader” is, I feel, a rather inelegant but common English translation of this supremely important Maoist phrase. What it refers to is: a person who wants to get off the road of socialism and return to the road of capitalism-imperialism. It is not an effective translation because it lacks the necessary implication of betraying socialism’s already-acquired advances. “Capitalist re-roader” would be better, but also inelegant. However, one of the beauties of socialist jargon is its refusal to be elegant at all!

What we can also do is to call the capitalist roaders something more accurate – “anti-empowerment roaders”. Or we could call them “king-roaders”, for Muslim countries still oppressed by monarchies, and “CEO-roaders” for the Western republics suffering from bourgeois/West European/Liberal Democracy’s promotion of neoliberal ideals.

Let’s put the 16 Points in China’s historical context:

In a very real way we can say that after 17 years the CCP had definitely established themselves as the dominant and accepted political force in the country – no more Kuomintang, no more foreign powers, far fewer rightists – and thus they could “relax” their grip… by risking a healthy, re-dedicating CR to start focusing on improving the Party’s control rather than just cementing the Party’s control.

It is simply unrealistic politics to imagine that all revolutions don’t have this “consolidation phase”. I would contend that the Iranian Revolution is nearing the end of their consolidation phase; if the US had honored the JCPOA treaty – and if European nations had the courage to honor their word – the Islamic Revolution would have become totally legitimized domestically, and Iran would have to come up with a “New Stage in the Iranian Islamic Revolution” and their own “16 points”. Instead, a totally desperate US has just gone nuclear, by banning anyone from buying Iran oil. Iran’s enemies are as close to war as they can possibly get with that move, simply because they don’t want Iranian Islamic Socialism to spread any more than they want Socialism With Chinese Characteristics to spread.

Indeed, Iran is in a situation we can compare to China in 1963. People act like China was always an equal with the West, as they have been in the 21st century – back then China was still banned from the World Trade Organisation, under US sanctions which would not be lifted until Nixon in 1971, and watching the US wage war on its neighbors & set up nearby military bases. Revolutionary fervour is often imposed rather than chosen – Mao rejected Soviet revisionism and laxity because China did not have the leeway, options and power that the USSR had. If the incredibly belligerent decision of banning Iranian oil actually takes hold, we should thus not be surprised if Iranian “hard-liners” promote a 2nd Iranian Cultural Revolution as a result – indeed, how can socialist-inspired nations relent when compromise is certain death and disgrace? How can we say that China’s CR failed when it obviously convinced the West to call off their Cold War? Regarding Iran, all I can say is: Iranian Cultural Revolution II is far, far, far more likely than the eruption of an unpatriotic civil war which aims to ally itself with the US. LOL….

At this point in China’s CR history, Han elaborates the very essence of the unheard & the unreported point of view of the Cultural Revolution:

“After the ‘16 points’ was publicized, it became very difficult for individual party leaders to use ‘party leadership’ as a shield against criticism. … The ‘chaos’ that attacks on the local party leaders would cause was the price Mao was willing to pay in order to create opportunities to empower the masses. … The ‘16 Points’ and Mao’s support liberated the suppressed rebels throughout China. It also took away the sacred veneer from local ‘dictators’ whom ordinary people called ‘tuhuangdi’ (local emperors) and subjected them to mass criticism. … Former rebel leaders in Jimo like Lan Chengwu and Wang Sibo say that Mao called his 1966 revolution ‘cultural’ because he wanted to cultivate a more democratic political culture in order to eradicate the tuhuangdi phenomenon.”

This is the crucial evolution of socialism: away from the Party dictators and jingoistic loyalists, and towards the “rebels”, who should also be considered synonymous with “true socialists” and “true revolutionaries of empowerment”.

In many ways this encapsulates why the West essentially ends modern Chinese history with 1966 – to them, China always remained a “totalitarian” system with absolutely zero local democratic empowerment. Han agrees that the previous system was – in an genuine but certainly not complete sense of the word – “totalitarian” (centralized and dictatorial), but he shows that the CR specifically fought to change this reality; it was even led by the “totalitarians” themselves.

The West has remained stuck in their false mindset by misinterpreting and not discussing the CR. They have refused to tell the truth and do not even try to understand the CR. Again empowering Chinese and Iranian-style socialism, and not empowering their domestic leftists, are their malign motivations.

Han demonstrates that the CR represents a fundamentally-positive and democratic evolution in the quality of their socialist democracy. This evolution facilitated an explosion in rural-dominated China’s rural economies, industries and schooling and lay the foundation, taught the skills and started the industries which fueled their post-1980 economic success. Modern China’s success cannot be understood without grasping this evolution created specifically by the CR because it fundamentally changed the entire country, even if revolutionary fervour inevitably waned some with the arrival of Deng Xiaoping.

The CR was so intense, so thorough and so very democratic (China being 80% rural at the time), that it cannot be ignored by anyone who wants to grasp modern China; failure to understand the CR also means that one’s politics are stuck in the ‘60s, and certainly that is a fair assessment of the West – they have totally regressed to the right politically, culturally and economically since then. This link is never discussed.

Which Red Guards fought which Red Guards and why?

Now that the background running up until 1967 is laid, we can properly understand the fighting that came after. Without this fighting, the CR would have been just another “anti-rightist campaign”. The fighting was the result of the creation and state protection of totally-grassroots groups, which Han called “mass associations”; these mass associations sat in opposition to “mass organizations”, which represented the CCP status quo.

“With the issuing of ’16 points’, the official Red Guards organized under the auspices of local party leaders dissolved very quickly. Independent rebel associations began to appear,” and these are Han’s “mass associations”. In Jimo County a dozen new, independent Rebel Red Guard associations emerged through the spontaneous democracy guarded by the Mao-faction and the army (the left and center).

Han notes how the Chinese Constitution had always protected free assembly, but that it was never really permitted; these associations were the first time rural peasants could create unified groups which served as a challenge to Party domination. Han relates the universal political participation, and how political debate between associations was constant and transparent. This not only allowed the mastery and tweaking of political ideas, but it empowered the peasant masses by allowing them to speak publicly for the first time ever. These are the kinds of things which prove the CR’s democratic bonafides, but which the West cannot accept nor popularize. Indeed, how can the CR be undemocratic when it fostered, protected and promoted new grassroots institutions? What is more democratic than spontaneous grassroots organizations? We see here the truly revolutionary nature of the CR.

Each village Han studied had roughly three to five new mass associations, and he related how widespread the democratic participation was down to the household level. “The major difference between them was whether or not to overthrow the old village party bosses.”

Therefore, the CR was essentially a massive referendum on the performance of individual civil servants.

If you were a good boss, who maybe was in charge of some small town’s only mill or granary or whatever, everyone in that small town surely knew you were good…. because that’s how small towns are – they know your personal business. And such good bosses kept their jobs (and kept in line). But if you were a tuhuangdi who siphoned off the profits to buy presents to seduce married women, everyone in that small town already knew it – because that’s how small towns are – and you’d be exposed and publicly shamed. Public shaming is an Asian thing, perhaps, but I certainly see it as just punishment. I note that Han does not record that any such person died as punishment in Jimo County.

Han relates how workers and farmers joined the Rebel Faction out of dissatisfaction with local Party leaders. These Rebel Faction Red Guards (associations) were supported by the left-wingers in the Chinese Socialist Democratic System (Mao and those who thought like him), whereas the Loyalist Faction Red Guards (organizations) were the status quo-preserving establishment. All were Red Guards, though.

The Rebel Faction Red Guards were joined by idealistic students, and now the two sides began to really fight it out against the Loyalist Faction Red Guards. Many might assume that the army tipped the balance, but that’s not the case:

“The army was called upon to support the revolutionary leftists by the center. But since there was no concrete criterion for a revolutionary leftist, it was really up to the soldiers in the fields to decide who they wanted to support.”

Even though Mao, the center, and the left called for the army to support the Rebel Faction Red Guards, Han reveals yet another democratic bonafide of the CR: the army was not manipulated for political reasons, but was allowed to freely choose their own side. Therefore, if the right wing in China’s socialist spectrum was overwhelmed in the CR decade, and if the army did not intervene to prop them up, the only reason is because many in the People’s Liberation Army were genuine leftists themselves, i.e. democracy prevailed.

When the dust cleared, the Red Guards (Rebel Faction) beat the Red Guards (Loyalist Faction)

As expected, in the early years of the CR the Rebel Faction Red Guards initially faced much local official persecution for denouncing people like Police Chiefs for poor performance, capitalist-roading and abuse of authority. People talk about the CR as if there was no give-and-take of abuse, imprisonment and mistreatment, but of course the Loyalist Faction had many levers to pull and obstacles to throw up despite the opposition of Mao way over in the capital.

So when we talk about the violent excesses of the CR, we must keep in mind that the CR’s victors had to overcome much initial official repression. Revolutionary payback is usually not a bouquet of flowers with a thank-you card.

But the primary reason there was so much anger was likely because prior to the CR there simply, “…were no regular channels for ordinary villagers to air their opinions and grievances against the Party authorities.” It’s not that Chinese Socialism had failed, but that equality was not universal due to a clear urban/rural divide. The CR was essentially a rural explosion which demanded that equality. It is not for nothing the very first big character poster – the Chinese version of a free press back then, and that is no exaggeration at all – attacked the educational inequalities at China’s top university and demanded that the doors be opened wider to rural students. The Yellow Vests are doing the same… but less coherently, which should be expected – Westerners are not as intellectually politically advanced & experienced as the Chinese in 1964.

The Yellow Vests are essentially demanding a Cultural Revolution

In the end, the CR was about demanding that second pillar of Marxism – redistribution of power – for rural areas; the CR was China dealing with it’s rural/urban divide, whereas the West is only starting to come to grips with their divide with Brexit, the Yellow Vests, the “basket of deplorables”, etc.

“Some villagers say that before the Cultural Revolution villagers felt shorter before party leaders, and always nodded to them first when they met on the street. After the Cultural Revolution ordinary villagers no longer felt diminished before the village leaders and such leaders often greeted ordinary villagers first when they met on the street.”

Such “who greets whom first” etiquette is a classic small-town concern, LOL.

But it is a real concern, and public servants simply must address public concerns – that is their primary job. Public servants who expect to be feted like social superiors are clearly not “of” or “for the People”.

We can see why the Western 1% is so fearful of a CR occurring locally – capitalism is all about venerating the “Great Man”, whom we should be thanking for giving us the opportunity to work for peanuts.

The CR is supposed to be so bloody, but Han does not list any deaths in Jimo County as a result of CR violence. Han says with only a few exceptions the corrupt party leaders were rehabilitated. Heck, the CCP allowed Pu Yi, “the Last Emperor” to be rehabilitated and live his life out in peace, so why not the local emperors? It is capitalist legal systems which prioritize useless and unequal punishment over rehabilitation, not socialist systems.

The idea that 500,000 to 2 million people died in the CR is a number which seems to be invented by Western imaginations, because how many of these claimants did the in-depth study Han did… and yet Han reports zero deaths?

Considering this was both a revolution and a civil war, should such a deal toll stand as proof of the CR’s inherent immorality? Does anybody do that for the US Civil War, which cost 600,000 lives? Of course not. The big difference between the two is: nobody in the West does the work Han did and proves that the CR led to huge increases in economic, political, medical, educational, social and democratic empowerment. Time will show that the CR freed the Chinese rural slaves, in a very genuine sense. Maybe they weren’t freed enough, but neither were US Blacks, who went from slaves to Jim Crow… but these are undoubtedly two civil wars with positive overall results.

By the time local party organizations began to function again in late 1969, after almost three years of dormancy, the political culture had already changed.

Han recounts their characteristics and practices, and how they replaced the old structures, and my margin notes read “democracy” over and over and over and over.

The number of party members doubled in Jimo County from 1965-1978 (the year Deng took office), but this was not the error of Krushchev, who let in a bunch of ideologically-suspect Soviets in order to dilute the power of the Stalinist wing – China opened its doors to their true revolutionaries who made their bones during the CR decade.

In a very important sense, even if Deng’s more right-wing socialist line came to the fore in the 1980s, and even if there would be a purge of Rebel Faction leaders during the Deng era, the cadres and citizens pushed to the left during the CR (as Dongping Han seems to have been) have helped ensure that China has not at all fully switched to the capitalist road.

The CR undoubtedly brought untold wealth, progress and empowerment for rural areas (as I briefly related in Part 1). Trumpeting these achievements is verboten in the West, but is the focus of the next part in this series.

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This is the 5th article in an 8-part series which examines Dongping Han’s book The Unknown Cultural Revolution: Life and Change in a Chinese Village in order to drastically redefine a decade which has proven to be not just the basis of China’s current success, but also a beacon of hope for developing countries worldwide. Here is the list of articles slated to be published, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Blaze of Hate

 

APRIL 19, 2019

The Rabbis do not regret the Paris disaster. “It’s Divine punishment for burning the Talmud,” divines a prominent Jewish divine, the Bethel Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, about the Notre Dame fire. In 1242 the French investigated the Talmud, established that the codex contains volumes of hate speech, and finally burned 1200 codices in the square of the freshly-built Notre Dame Cathedral. “The time for punishment is here,” the Rabbi intones dramatically. Not so fast, Rabbi! If we must connect these two events – the historical burning of the Talmud and the recent destruction of the church, the real point of the story is that France once had a strong, virile immune system. That medieval destruction of that evil book built up a healthy immunity to Talmudic legalisms that helped the cathedral survive wars and revolutions for the magic number of 777 years. But nothing, alas, lasts forever: the resistance of the French people has exhausted itself.

Perhaps it’s time to re-inoculate the French people against Talmudic scheming. Maybe the nasty spirit of Talmudic intolerance and Judaic supremacy should be exorcised once again from the heart of France for another 777 years. Mayhap the building of the replacement cathedral will inspire a new spirit of fidelity to Our Lady. But it’s not likely to happen. Indeed, in the present climate the French authorities are more likely to turn the burned wreckage of Notre Dame into the next Tolerance Museum.

777 years ago, a Jew who denied the Talmud, parted with Jewry, accepted Christ and entered the Church, Nicholas Danin exposed the kvetching Talmudic hate to a disputation that, shocked and bitterly offended, agreed to gather them up and burn them. In Macron’s France, Nicholas Danin would be dragged into court by LICRA (Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme et l’Antisémitisme) and sentenced to jail, if not burned at the stake. Danin, not the Talmud, would be found guilty of hate speech if his judges had been trained, as we are, in philosemitism. Is there any reason to return the ruins of Notre Dame to the Catholic Church? Why not hand it directly over to CRIF (Conseil Représentatif des Institutions juives de France).

In the same article the French-born Rabbi Shlomo Aviner reminds his followers that all Christian churches will eventually be destroyed (at least in Israel) – but the time is not ripe yet. As for the French cathedral, “we aren’t obligated to destroy it,” though “Christianity is the main enemy of the Jews.” A Jew is supposed to rejoice at the sight of a burned church and recite a special blessing of the Lord of Vengeance Who overturns the House of the Proud. Jewish power in France rises whilst the significance of the Church dwindles; the old cathedral had little chance to survive such a turn of fate. It will be rebuilt as something else: something not Catholic, something that is not a church. It will be designed to appeal to tourists; no need to consult the native Frenchmen. It is already being decided for them.

The destruction of the cathedral had been in the cards a long time. When the naked witches of Femen celebrated their black mass, abused the priests and flogged the venerable old bells in the Notre Dame towers, the French court immediately acquitted them of all charges and instead sentenced the guards who tried to stop the sacrilege. And yet even this was not enough for the enemies of the Church: for their bold blasphemy the Femen were presented with France’s 2017 International Secularism Award, their leader had a postage stamp issued in her honour and she served as the model for the French icon of Marianne. Dominique Venner, a French Catholic writer and historian, committed suicide in the cathedral in 2013 to alert his countrymen to the storm clouds threatening his beloved France, but all in vain.

In France, the relentless struggle against the church, led by the Jews and their allies, continues to bear fruit. In 2013, the government of Holland forced their citizens to accept gay marriage despite massive demos by French Catholics. The influence of LICRA in France exceeds even that of the ADL in America. Catholics like Soral and Dieudonné are now being sent to jail for offending Jewish sensitivities (and as you know, Jews can be very sensitive). They prosecute the Yellow Vests just as they persecute the Church and for the very same reason: both are made up of sturdy provincials who harken back to the days of Christian France.

The terrible blaze in Paris should be an ominous warning for the French: Reconnect with your Church! Save Her and cherish Her, for She may not always be with you. And who will save you when She has gone? The Church of France should reach out to the people by supporting the Yellow Vests against the anti-Christian government of Macron. His government did nothing to defend the Church and that fire didn’t come out of the blue. Macron is definitely guilty, if not by deed, then by criminal negligence. It’s too easy to imagine him toasting champagne at the news. We all should be wary of powerful people who are likely to rejoice at the destruction of our churches.

The previous campaigners against the church in France marshaled, as they did in the US, beneath the banner of ‘Paedophile Priests’. This clear-cut ad hominem (or should we say “canard”, or “trope”?) is aimed directly at the heart of the Church. No one says a word about the dishonesty of the jibe, they are too busy beating their breasts. Yet if you make mention of “Jewish crooks” you’ll have LICRA or its sister bodies pounding on your door. It might be that there are crooks who happen to be Jews, but that doesn’t make them ‘Jewish crooks’, they recite piously. And if you happen to say ‘Jewish crook’, you are guilty of antisemitism. But ‘Paedophile Priests’ is fine. And so the Church is forced to cleanse Herself, and the Jews are left alone, free to continue their self-destructive denouement.

Jews describe themselves as “a Nation of Priests”, the priests of the most anti-Christian faith on the planet. As the influence of the Jewish church waxes, the strength of the Christian church wanes. It is zero-sum-game.

Even those of us who aren’t interested in things spiritual can see history threatening to repeat itself. Whenever the forces of darkness prepare a new attack on mankind, they use their considerable artillery to shut down any potential resistance, and they always start by targeting their avowed enemy, the Church. This was the practice of the Third Reich as well: before starting the war, they began a timely campaign of ‘priests as sex fiends’ to bully the church into silent acquiescence. Our Fourth Reich has taken careful notes: the Church was against the war in Iraq; the Church was steadfast in her defence of Palestine; the Church is against the impending attack on Iran; the Church is implacably opposed to war with Russia. Obviously the Church must be brought to heel.

But the Church cannot be stained by the foul deeds committed Her servants. If a priest abuses a boy then the crime is his crime, not that of the Church. Likewise, if a soldier abuses a boy it is not the fault of the army, and if a politician abuses a boy the nation is not to blame. Since we now sue the Catholic Church for crimes committed by priests, shouldn’t we be able to sue her traditional competitor, the Jews, for every crime committed by a Jew? If the Church bears responsibility for “abusing priests”, maybe International Jewry should be responsible for “cheating Jews”? Or for war-mongering Jews? Or for Jews killing gentiles in Palestine?

A little bird tells me that modern Jews would never agree to accept collective responsibility. They regret their hubris when they stood before Pilate. Today’s Jews are ready to act as a collective in order to collect, but not to pay. Today’s generation of gentle church doves might learn a few pragmatic lessons from these wise old serpents on how to survive in this Jewish world.

A little advice: dismiss the alleged victims of last century’s clerical abuse. Send them home. I do not feel sorry for these late claimants. Why did they wait 20 years to complain? Children who are attacked scream and run home to parents and police. If they didn’t run and scream, it wasn’t an attack. Chalk it up to a clumsy pass by a pathetic amateur; an unpleasant, shameful experience to be sure, but one unlikely to be repeated with a firm rebuke. Blame yourself for sending mixed signals, and go on with your life. Join mankind: every one of us, even your mommy and daddy, suffered an unwanted kiss or an undesired embrace. The laws should be reasonable. Allowing 20-year old claims for unreported transgressions is not reasonable. Only an immediate accusation should be considered valid, and 24 hours is more than enough time in most cases to lodge a formal complaint.

If a crime has occurred, then of course the criminal should be punished. But let not the denouncer profit by his report of the crime. This is the necessary rule of justice. There was a time when a denouncer could claim a third of a denounced man’s property. Oftentimes we exceed even that in today’s litigious environment.

The “paedo” angle is misleading. What is “a child”? Are you revolted by Romeo and Juliet? As a good American citizen, you should be; Juliet was 14, and thus Romeo today would be tried and locked up as a “paedophile”, together with his accomplice the good Friar Laurence. Friar Laurence would surely be considered as an “abusing priest”, and a Dershowitz would collect a million ducats from the Diocese of Verona for his sin of arranging the lovers’ tryst. Edgar Allan Poe married a 14-year old, and if the present laws were in force the American poet would harken to his Raven’s “nevermore” in jail. The prophet Muhammad married nine-year-old Aisha, but Jacob, the Biblical patriarch, surpassed him and married Rachel who was only 7. In our modern world Jacob and Muhammad would be hunted down, extradited and jailed. It is possible that even better-placed Persons would not fare well when faced with today’s enlightened justice: the Mother of our Saviour was just 14 at Annunciation.

Greek tradition approves of mature women who are willing to share their expertise with growing boys. In the Greek classic book Daphnis and Chloe, an experienced and mature lady Lycaenion taught young Daphnis how to attend to his girlfriend – to their mutual satisfaction. The BBC reports of a 26-year old woman teacher who was arrested for having sex with her 15-year old pupil. Even the prosecutor admitted that it’s “every schoolboy’s fantasy to have that kind of attention from a young, attractive member of staff”, but pushed for conviction all the same. In the US, Pamela Rogers was sentenced to years of jail-time for having sex with a boy as tall as you and me; he may have been only 13 at the time, but this happens to be the exact age my great-grandfather was married. If Mrs Rogers had instead concentrated on emotionally torturing and humiliating the boy she would have certainly enjoyed a successful career in public education. Who knows, she might have become Secretary of State.

The Americans and the Brits have invented the nonsensical concept of “statutory rape”; as if a state prosecutor knows better than boys and girls what they want. The great French thinkers Sartre and Derrida, Foucault and de Beauvoir, called in 1977 for scrapping this jailbait trap, this tool of selective prosecution. Wise Spaniards established the age of consent at 13, while the even wiser Muslims place no age limit for marriage at all because they so strongly disapprove of extramarital relations. Jews were guided by the Talmud, which stipulates the permitted age of marriage for girls at ‘three years and one day’ (though the safer age of nine was preferred), and wisely forbidding sodomy.

Indeed, almost all the cases of alleged clerical abuse are homosexual; the alleged victims should perhaps sue the gay rights organizations that infested the Church instead of harassing the Church Who failed to keep them out. But Church leaders are not permitted to even contemplate such a suggestion. They can’t say “pederasty”; they must pretend this is “paedophilia”. They are forbidden to defrock a homosexual priest lest they be accused of “homophobia”.

Sexual violence towards a small boy or girl by an adult man is a repulsive and criminal act, but such accusations are extremely rare in the history of clerical abuse.

We must not remain indifferent to the travails of the Church, for only She has the potential to turn the predatory neo-Judaic state into a peace-loving Christian one. The Church affirms the primacy of spirit, and of our godlike abilities to think and to reproduce; such hopeful opinions are anathema to our Worldly Masters. On the deepest level the Church is the main adversary of evil in our world. The worldlings have formed a competing church of sorts, the church of darkness, and they will not suffer a competitor.

Dominant as they are, they are not omnipotent. There is no magic in their incantations. They have no divine powers behind them. They are impostors. They exploit the old myths of mankind, forgetting that nothing works without God. As rebels against God, they will be defeated. As charlatans they will be dismantled. Their fall is imminent. We should reject them completely, as completely as we are called to in our confession of faith.

The Catholic Church is one of the greatest champions of Palestine. They have a Palestinian Patriarch, they do their best to defend the Palestinian people. All established churches support Palestine; with the apostolic churches taking the leading role, and the Catholics often leading them all. During the 2002 Bethlehem siege by the Jews, the Catholic Church led the resistance. I know because I was resisting too. Once upon a time, the Church led the Crusade to liberate the Holy Land. With a brave and selfless spirit She could lead a Crusade of Peace and free it again.

France once reached the greatest heights of economic fairness, social sophistication and moral integrity in union with the Church. The terrible warning of the Notre Dame blaze should shock the people of France into returning to the Rock of the Church, just as it must surely make the Church wake up to the “smoke of Satan” permeating Her walls.

In collaboration with Paul Bennett

Read more on the abusing priests here: http://www.unz.com/ishamir/darkness-from-the-west/

Israel Shamir can be reached at adam@israelshamir.net

This article was first published at The Unz Review.

Six months after it begins, the oligarchs/Macron versus Gilets Jaunes battle is still raging and will keep on

April 19, 2019

By Le Saker Francophone for the Saker Blog

Six months after it begins, the oligarchs/Macron versus Gilets Jaunes battle is still raging and will keep on

This battle that the French people will win – we do not yet know when, but sure it will – is the vanguard battle of a Western world in full decline because their elites, no longer able to plunder the rest of the world as they did before, are beginning to plunder their own country in order to continue to accumulate a capital that has no other objective than to accumulate, always accumulate, by pure Pavlovian reflex. The shape and outcome of this battle therefore does not concern only France but all the other people of the “West”, specially the United States, where the 1% show the same greediness.

Saturday after Saturday, about 100,000 yellow vests invade the streets of cities and roundabouts of the countryside, claiming that the government should take more into account the interests of the people and a less those of the oligarchs.

But the latest and their puppet, Macron and his government, are stubbornly refusing to listen to these people whom they obviously consider as congenital idiots, uncultivated anti-Semitics, jealous of those who succeed… and other verbal demonstrations of their unfathomable superiority complex.

But behind this superiority complex, we also see a panic, at least with Macron who, after six uninterrupted months of demonstrations he has violently repressed, sees the hatred that is accumulating against him and who, in his rare moments of lucidity, must remember the history of France and the fate of Louis XVI, the king guillotined by the revolutionaries. And this panic was clearly visible in this episode: After spending 12 million euros on its Great Debate, that should “transform anger into solutions”, these famous solutions had to live up to the expectations and frustration of a people who saw their country turning into a dictatorship. But what can Macron offer when he is stuck between the oligarch hammer and the popular anvil? He obviously didn’t find it. So as usual, he cunningly used the very providential but very dubious fire of Notre Dame de Paris to make the Great Debate disappear into the black hole of popular memory that he hopes will lead to amnesia because, as is well known to manipulators, nothing is better than an emotional diversion to make important things forgotten. Providentially then, the fire started just one hour before its speech, giving him the perfect excuse to cancel it and, in the name of “mourning”, delaying it, and the famous solutions he should propose, to an unspecified date. Since then not a word about it, from his side or the media side. A shameful 12 million euros scam!

But, contrary to what they think, they are not dealing with fools but with people educated and intelligent enough to understand that behind their empty words, their institutional violence and their brigands’ schemes, these oligarchs are plundering the nation’s heritage, sucking the people’s blood. And the most intelligent among the Gjs are explainingto others, days after days, both through social networks and constituent assemblies, as well as through meetings in the streets every Saturday how things work. Then, the day the fire erupted the investigation was therefore open, on social networks, to find out whether this fire was really an accident, as the government claims, or a voluntary act, as most experts, especially the best in position to do it, the former head of Notre Dame’s maintenance, believe.

Moreover, one of the first visible benefits of this movement is that it is rebuilding a social bond that 30 years of “modern individualistic society” had completely destroyed. There is nothing like a common enemy to bring a people together and the Gj have found it. It is Macron and the oligarchs who manipulate it. And there is no shortage of battles against this powerful and blind enemy.

But it is not only the enemy that is common to them, they perceive above all a common objective, that of giving the French people back their say in the political decisions concerning the nation. And for that, the main tool to be implemented is the RIC. The Citizens’ Initiative Referendum, in all areas, i.e. covering all areas of politics. For sure, the oligarchs, and therefore Macron, do not want this RIC because it would sign the end of their enrichment on the State’s back. Because it is one of the things that is explained every day to the Gj by those who have understood the mechanism well, these oligarchs get rich on the back of the State through systematic public procurement, legal tax exemptionstate subsidiesprivatization of public companies, tax havens, shell companies…

And since the State is getting poorer under the blows of these oligarchs, since taxes are already on their highest level, since money is no longer under the control of the government, all that remains for the government is the solution of “budgetary austerity”, which takes the form of closing hospitals and schools, downgrading the number of civil servant, increasing education costs, reducing pensions and expenditure allowing social regulation, which was the pride of post-1936 France, in short, to gradually erase all the social gains made by our grandparents before and after the Second World War.

As one of these Gj experts explained, tax fraud alone is exactly equivalent to the amount of the public deficit. So if, thanks to the RIC, the French nation could stop the budgetary hemorrhaging caused by this oligarchic system which, since the 1980s, has been slowly weaving the web choking the nation, then it could keep its status as a world and economic power that it is losing, like the rest of the Western world, because of the greed of one percent of its population, and the shameless minions who work for them.

In the coming years, it will therefore be a fight to the death between the people and these oligarchs, one of the first victims of which is democracy. Because, now that they are already naked, these oligarchs will no longer be cluttered with the apparatus of freedom and democracy that they used to cover their hold on the country. We can already see it with a police repression that has never been seen before, a justice that is more than expeditious, totally muzzled media, in short, all the characteristics of a totalitarian state.

But how could these oligarchs win against an entire people? This is historically impossible. It therefore remains to the Gj to have them worn out so that, Saturday after Saturday, the number of Gj visible in the streets goes from 100,000 to 500,000 and then to millions, in short a new revolution. But for this to happen, it will require a long process of making aware of the situation those who do not yet understand, those who are afraid to understand. A long-term task for which, for the moment, more than one hundred thousands people are ready to give their time, energy and bravery to the end as their motto “nous ne lâcherons pas” [We shall not give up] is showing it.

Le Saker Francophone

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