Pilots break strike unity as Macron’s ‘Thatcher moment’ is right now

December 31, 2019

By Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

But nobody is making a sound about it, and not even Macron.

Maybe they will now: The first union has selfishly broken ranks – French pilots and cabin crews. It’s a “universal” pension system, sure… except for the groups who Macron has to buy off to break the strike.

French President Emmanuel Macron has barely said two words about the general strike, even though it has lasted four weeks and will soon become the longest general strike ever in French history.

And many French don’t even mind. It’s a quirk of the French system I cannot yet explain: they view it as normal that Macron has not commented on the general strike because that is the domain of the prime minister.

French contradictions abound, and they think the mystery makes them appear deep: France’s president is well-known to be closest thing to a constitutional dictator the West has, and yet the PM is supposed to be given much latitude on domestic policy?

I have heard this often, but never seen it action: the idea that Macron’s PM is not beholden to the ideas and orders of his boss on the pension plan is absurd. To me it has always seen like a way for the president to have someone to blame his unpopular policies on.

But Macron has given one press conference in 2.5 years, and he didn’t say the words “Yellow Vest” in public until after 23 Saturdays, and no one seems up in arms about it (besides the Yellow Vests), so… c’est la France.

Macron will probably make a rote plea for unity at his annual New Year’s Eve wishes – the guy is speaking at 8pm, so if all you have going is watching Macron’s press conference then take heart: 2020 can only get better than 2019 for you.

The coverage of the general strike from non-French media reminds me of France’s recent coverage of the resolution (one step below a law) which equates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism: there was a decent amount of coverage AFTER the resolution became a fact.

This was obvious to predict, but there is an omertà regarding France’s general strike from Anglophone media – it’s almost as if they don’t want to ruin a good thing. If there was any room for leftism in the West’s “free speech means corporate media own all speech” now would be the time to be up in arms with keyboards in hands. But people repeatedly tell me they can’t find anything about it in non-French sources.

Honestly: This can’t go on in France any longer

Without any exaggeration, the French (and certainly the “French model”, aka “Capitalism with French characteristics) simply cannot sustain more austerity attacks which “re(de)form” it into an Anglo-Saxon model and here’s why: If you take home €2,500 a month in France you have a really good job (especially in 2019). If you take home $2,500 per month in the US (making about $20 per hour) your job is desirable but not really good.

Yes, 42% of Americans don’t even make $15 hour but the point is: the French model is based on low wages. The Swiss, Germans, UK, etc. – they all make much more than rich France.

The reason France accepts lousy wages was their Nordic-level social safety net: so they had guaranteed work contracts (“CDIs”), 2-3 years of decent unemployment, 5 weeks paid vacation legal minimum, cheap schools from 3 months old to PhD, cheap medical care and a good pension. Make no mistake because I know you right wingers will: This is a system which is paid for by the French worker giving up 40% of their pay check every month, and then 10% annually in an income tax. I.e., low wages.

That concept is crucial to understand. A whopping 80% of the pension system is funded by taxes on individuals and bosses, and not the state. The French pension isn’t “unsustainable” at all: if it is “underfunded” it is only on the state side, and only because the state has purposely starved it of funds via funding cuts. With the stroke of a budget pen its minor deficit could be resolved. Baby Boomers will be dropping like flies by the 2030s reducing fiscal stress- the system works, and it can last.

This explains why all neoliberals can really come with to justify junking the ENTIRE system is that it is too “complex”. Why is complexity automatically a negative thing? I’m glad these guys didn’t take up physics. The other reason they deploy is that some people – like manual laborers, those who work in hard and/or dangerous conditions – retire early to avoid death/maiming on the job due to “you’re too old for this” syndrome. They have seized upon the “injustice” of these “special regimes”. All of a sudden neoliberals care about injustice….. Of course the one-size-fits-all, universal system is as regressive (not progressive) as a flat tax, and that’s why no nation does it.

But back to how this onslaught of “reforms” is just unsustainable: reduced services which used to be covered by the state, increased prices on everything, Housing Bubble II, new jobs are all one-month renewable contracts (CDDs), you have to work until 64 instead of 60 in 2009, your pension is going to leave you barely at poverty level – you cannot have this AND low wages in France.

It is just impossible, logically. Something has to give on one of the ends.

If they are going to make it so that all the state is provides is health care and education and then citizens are on their own – the glorious Apache-killing Arizona libertarian model (with a touch of European class) – then they have to vastly inflate wages.

But nobody is talking in France about raising wages to compensate for the worse pensions, nor for any of the austerity measures.

So this can’t go on.

And yet it will – Macron is tackling the unemployment system next, i.e. later this year. Is there going to be a General Strike Act 2?

If the US and UK are any example – no there won’t be. So this may be the end of “France”. Remember the US and UK prior to Reagan and Thatcher – sure was better back then, or at least far less unequal and unstable.

Can Macron get his wish? To be the youngest (despised) leader in Western capitalist history?

One can picture Macron just white-knuckling it right now – if he can just get break this strike… the dude will go down in right-wing history. Or is it “centrist” history for Macron?

When Thatcher died there was UK police brutality at the street parties celebrating her death. That sounded about right to me. The New York Times scolded us with superstition and expressed their fake shock in their pathetic Taboo on Speaking Ill of the Dead Widely Ignored Online After Thatcher’s Death.” This is a taboo in the West – since when? The West cares about taboos – since when? I know they don’t care about taboos because they need a loan word for this rather crucial social concept – the word itself is Tongan, and the English didn’t get to Polynesia until 1773.

As I led with, French pilots and cabin crews have called off a strike they had planned for January 3 – they got a sweetheart deal from Macron, and you can all go kick rocks for calling them “stewardesses”. The Macron administration has only negotiated en masse with unions for three days out of 26 consecutive strike days – they never wanted to make a broad deal but only a few small deals in order to “divide and conquer” and break the strike.

This has worked every time during the age of austerity. I have written this many times but I will say it again, cuz some of y’all think the Western system is the apex of everything political: This is what “independent” labor unions get you – sold out. The socialist model of “we’re all in one big union” means the workers are truly in the government, not against the government… and against the good of the People, and against their fellow workers, and against their fellow unions and against, against, against it’s called “capitalism” people.

But the West is “freer” than China, Iran, Cuba, etc. Sure, free to be unequal.

Back to France: it’s getting hard, having a commute 2-3 times longer for four weeks. I’m not breaking rocks all day, but it’s grating on people.

That’s really what the “general strike” has amounted to – public transport shutdowns. The burden of the national good is basically all on the backs of rail workers. The unions have only called 3 days of nationwide protest and strikes – this means that even politically-active people have probably only taken 3 strike days of lost wages, whereas “good” rail workers have lost a month. What a stupid system they have here? Plenty of protest marches and big talk but when it’s general strike time (finally!) it’s: “I can’t afford it – let the rail workers do it.”

Truly, before we had the Yellow Vests we only had the rail workers: in the age of austerity they were always the ones (along with some of us journalists) at the front lines getting gassed and beating back cops. They have led every major anti-austerity movement. Nobody really joined them when they tried to prevent the EU-forced privatisation of French rails (Same thing back then in the media: “The rail system is bankrupt!” No it’s not, it was purposely starved of state funding.) They led the huge 1995 strike as well.

Not the stewardesses and their Top Gun flyboys. They have left France in the lurch.

I guarantee that tonight many will have a few glasses of wine and say, “Zees solidarité ees all phony!”, just to appear smart and courageous (the French are always wishing each other “good courage”), and the strike will fall apart.

That’s the France I know – Windbag France, aka Faithless France.

But we have the Yellow Vests now. Maybe General Strike 2 is République Française VI? Tides turn, the moon waxes and wane, the meek inherit a decent pension.

General striking is hard, but just don’t be a stewardess. Excuse me, Airplane Cabin Executive. Gotta love that Western model….


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 the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism.’

Massive chaos as largest strike in years hits France for 2nd Day

Source

Friday, 06 December 2019

Hundreds of thousands of strikers paralyzed the transport system on the first day of industrial action which prompted closure of schools across the nation.

According to union leaders, more than 1.5 million people turned out across the country, with police using tear gas to disperse them.

Just in Paris alone, tens of thousands of people took to the streets, while more than 6,000 police officers were deployed with a decree to forbid the protesters from gathering on the Champs-Élysées or at police stations.

Police in riot gear used tear gas and truncheons to disperse protesters near the Place de la Republique. The judiciary 57 people were detained on Thursday.

Strikers on Friday were set to continue a similar pattern across the country, with widespread rail cancellations and disruption to flights expected across the nation.

French riot police clash with protesters during a demonstration in Paris, on December 5, 2019 as part of a national general strike. (Photo by AFP)

In Paris, most of the metro system shut down and hundreds of flights were expected to be cancelled.

Union leaders warned that the strike could last at least until Monday if the government did not take the right action.

“The strike is not going to stop tonight,” said Philippe Martinez, secretary general of the CGT union, on Thursday.

Paris’s bus and metro operator have said their walkout will last until Monday at the very least.

President Macron is already faced with a major challenge to his rule from “Yellow Vest” protesters, who have been holding weekly demonstrations for more than a year.

Trade union leaders are now calling on Macron to abandon his campaign promise to overhaul the retirement system.

The president has said he wants to simplify the country’s complex retirement system, which comprises more than 40 different plans, many with different retirement ages and benefits.

The new system will introduce a “points system” for retirement, which will have a significant impact on the public sector.

Until now, the sector had enjoyed special retirement systems to compensate for difficult working conditions.

Related Videos

French general strike starts: 3 weeks for victory like 1995, or more Austerity Era failure?

Members of the Yellow Vest movement are being evacuated by the gendarmerie after trying to occupy the Pont de L'Etoile A52 highway tollbooth in Aubagne, southern France, on November 17, 2019, to celebrate the first anniversary of the movement. (Photo by AFP)

Members of the Yellow Vest movement are being evacuated by the gendarmerie after trying to occupy the Pont de L’Etoile A52 highway tollbooth in Aubagne, southern France, on November 17, 2019, to celebrate the first anniversary of the movement. (Photo by AFP)

Wed Dec 4, 2019 10:16AM

By Ramin Mazaheri

Image result for ramin mazaheri

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 the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.

 

Over the decade I have lived in France I have never seen a social protest movement win their economic objective.

Wait… that’s not true: in 2015 Francois Hollande gave in to the demands of protesting police even before their protest ended. That was pretty pathetic.

And then we also have the exception of exceptions, the ever-constant Yellow Vests. They have won a small portion of their economic demands – a tiny amount of direct financial relief, no austerity budget in 2020 and preventing the government from privatizing the airports of Paris (at least temporarily).

They won by doing something which was unprecedented in France: protesting, instead of vacationing, over Christmas. They surprised everyone, including me, with their self-sacrifice, which ultimately grew to incredibly admirable proportions due to their steadfastness amid constant repression.

However, Yellow Vests are now being forced into the back seat.

Unions are leading an unlimited, general strike starting on December 5 to try and stop President Emmanuel Macron’s radically right-wing pension “reforms”.

Will their general strike work?

France’s ‘independent’ unions: if it’s good for members, who cares if its bad for the nation?

It’s so amazing how very quickly a general strike can win that it’s amazing that anyone thinks another tactic in the labor playbook is even required?

But as France’s #1 union leader, the CGT’s Philippe Martinez, told me years ago: “I don’t have a button marked ‘general strike’ which I can press.” LOL, unfortunate but true.

Again, I have never seen a social protest movement in France win their economic objective… unless we are talking about a few union members whom the government bought off with targeted concessions.

The French illustrate why “independent” labor unions might be good for a member but bad for the nation, and also why the world’s most truly progressive models don’t have labor unions which are independent from their government structure.

Since 2010 France has seen enormous, broad protest movements against wave after wave of austerity measures, but they have never succeeded in stopping them. The reason is the same old imperial logic – divide and conquer. Time after time I have watched French strikes fail because the government can quite easily give targeted concessions to just a few sectors of the workforce, and even to just a few unions within one sector of the workforce. This always has had the intended result: to reduce strike participation and provoke anger, resentment and selfishness among those who are still striking so that the movement is inevitably abandoned. France, already the land of the evil eye, has only grown more embittered and suspicious over their many failed labor movements during the Great Recession.

The Yellow Vests have totally rejected union involvement until now, and for the reason I have explained: France’s unions are self-interested, whereas the Vesters obviously promote self-sacrifice for the national good. Just like France’s political groups and NGOs, the unions are fundamentally allied with a corrupt establishment which is geared towards the pro-neo-imperialist 1% and their money-grubbing immorality.

In 1995 right-wing reforms (pushing – you guessed it – right-wing pension rollbacks) lasted three weeks and the government backed down. There were minor goods shortages, and people lost some wages, but national unity against a government’s totally unjustified, 1%-enriching policies was easily victorious.

Almost two-thirds of the nation does not trust President Emmanuel Macron to lead any sort of pension reform, so there is unity again. The reality is that Macron has a support base of just 25% which approves of whatever he does. Clearly, his remaining supporters on the pension issue are daredevils who merely want to see what the world’s very first universal, one-size-fits-all pension program will actually look like.

Such a program is totally unjust because bending rail tracks in the cold, hoisting garbage cans and – I’d say – teaching 30 kids for 8 hours a day is not something which a 64-year old person can do without serious consequences for their health and future. In a West, which makes an idol of youth and dismisses the elderly, this idea – that old people deserve a future, too – is rarer than an igloo in Ecuador.

If recent history is any guide: If Macron gives just a few crumbs to a few unions they will push past the strikers and be “scabs” to the rest of the nation with zero scruples.

This strike is perhaps a final test of union power in France: Unions have become more fragmented since 1995 – and thus less powerful – and if they fail to win here the Yellow Vests will be proven right to have excluded and denounced them.

Macron: Won’t rest until every Frenchman is an American in Paris

No nation has a universal pension system and the French government themselves truly don’t know what they are doing. No worker knows how much their new “points” will be worth upon retirement, including Macron himself. It is clear that Macron only wants to smash the current system and replace it with something more Americanized. I write that because this has been his modus operandi ever since taking office.

Macron’s policies don’t need public approval because he is not trying to get re-elected – he is trying to merely win by default in 2022, when Marine Le Pen will again serve as the scare tactic. Even if he loses he is guaranteeing himself a lifetime of lucrative speech-making in Western nations by destroying the bad example which has always been the French “mixed-economy” model.

Macron is not like Hollande in that he did not backtrack – he warned France of what he was going to do. This gives him a mere fig leaf of democratic justification (in the classic Western-model style): he claims to have won a democratic mandate for his far-right economic plans, but every adult in France knows what I just wrote – his base of support in the 2017 vote was just one-quarter of voters, because everyone else voted to block the far-right (culturally, not economically) Marine Le Pen and also to sweep out the two hated mainstream parties.

In 1995, the largest French social movement since 1968, what tipped the scale was public transport workers: they bought movement to a halt for three weeks, and they are threatening to do the same this month.

What did not tip the scales in favor of worker-class justice is France’s media.

France’s “private” media, whose editorial lines are decided by a handful of billionaires, keeps pushing this willfully stupid point about Macron’s false “mandate” which insults the intelligence of their readers and viewers. Similarly, every report about the pension reforms begins with raising the issue of the “special regimes” – which are mainly for public service manual laborers who work in conditions which no sexagenarian should endure – in an obvious ploy to create support for the far-right reform via provoking jealousy, anger and exasperation, which cannot possibly be the foundation for the proper “reform” of anything.

Not much should be expected from France’s public media, either: even though their salaries are derived from taxpayer dollars only Iranian and Russian media have been covering the Yellow Vests from the street for the past five months.

Another group which also did not tip the scales is what, “Remember ’68, man?!”, French Boomers falsely believe will do so this time around – students.

It is only via cutting off profits to the 1% that France’s leaders – in their aristocratic/bourgeois Western democracy – will ever be forced to back down. It is workers and determined adults who can and must play the deciding factor in politics. I have no idea why the youth-worshipping West thinks baby-faced students are a safer bet than tough rail workers?

Another battle which will be decided is the “blowhard” French model of influencing government – simple, often alcohol-fueled protests.

For the past decade the French have gone to a protest, taken a selfie (without smiling), gone home early and – as I’ve stated – lose. They are simply shocked to find, no matter how often it has occurred, that a government which keeps resorting to executive orders does not at all listen to public opinion when formulating public policy. The French love for self-expression may be self-satisfying, but it is a regular political failure.

Returning to the tactic of a general strike will hopefully show France that the only solution is economically hurting the 1% whom the Western liberal model seeks to protect from any possible economic losses.

Of course these failed bets – on “independent” unions, on the “independent” private media, on emotional and unsteady youth, on protests which lack the basic knowledge of the class struggle and the majority’s embrace of neo-imperialism in  the French culture – all help explain why nearly no socio-economic movements have won since 1995.

What is different this time around?

Nobody can really tell, because it all depends on the willingness of workers to sacrifice their pay checks to win something they won’t touch for decades in the future. Every society has immediate needs to satisfy, but does France have a culture which encourages thinking about the far, unknowable future?

Everybody is making the comparison with 1995, but there is no doubt that the economic and democratic condition of the average citizen is far, far worse since then.

Anti-austerity feeling has routinely been sky-high during the Eurozone’s Lost Decade, and the French keep losing their purchasing power, government services, working conditions and the social rights it has taken a century to wrest from most decidedly un-Islamic high finance. Maybe this will tip the scales?

Is France willing to walk to work for just 3 weeks, like in 1995? If not, they should be prepared to work two extra years in their old age, and for a monthly stipend which is far less than what the elderly get now.

Footnote: Two weeks after the 1995 “victory” the far-right nature of the aristocratic/bourgeois Western model asserted itself – parliament voted to allow the social security reform via executive order. In such a model the 1% is guaranteed to win and is always the primary beneficiary of government policies and tax dollars. If the French weren’t confronted by this reality before, the Yellow Vests have changed that.

Or maybe they haven’t changed that? If the strike fails, the way the Western aristocratic model inevitably betrays the lower and middle classes – and the apathy, alienation and selfishness it necessary provokes among the mass of the citizenry- will be the primary reason for failure, although this reason is never cited in the West.

(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)

 

Western counter-revolution tragically on display at gas price hike protests

A picture taken on November 17, 2019 shows a scorched gas station that was set ablaze by protesters during a demonstration against a rise in gasoline prices in Eslamshahr, near the Iranian capital of Tehran. (By AFP)

A picture taken on November 17, 2019 shows a scorched gas station that was set ablaze by protesters during a demonstration against a rise in gasoline prices in Eslamshahr, near the Iranian capital of Tehran. (By AFP)

Western counter-revolution tragically on display at gas price hike protestsBy Ramin Mazaheri

Thu Nov 28, 2019 08:18AM [Updated: Thu Nov 28, 2019 08:24AM ]

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 the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism.’

 

A simple question for you: are there, for lack of a better word, “counter-revolutionaries” in Ukraine, Hong Kong, or Syria? By that I mean: do those nations have people on the far extremes of the political spectrum who will provoke, take advantage of, and even relish in violence against their governments?

Obviously, only a liar or somebody foolishly playing devil’s advocate would not respond that, yes, in these nations there are many such persons — the proof is overwhelming.

So why would it be so hard to believe that there are such persons — counter-revolutionaries — in Iran, and that they hijacked recent protests over gas price hikes to provoke, take advantage of, and devilishly relish in death and violence against the government? Iran, unlike the nations I listed — and unlike almost every nation, period — actually had a popular revolution for extremists to counter in the first place.

Iranians are reminded of their exceptionalism when, for example and for certain, such far-right groups drove on a motorcycle to a gas hike protest, fired on the crowd, and fled.

Such vicious, armed people — the allies of the governments of many of those reading this article — are obviously the worst, most anti-democratic type of criminal. Their goal is just as obvious: to foment a counter-revolution in Iran.

What is unfortunate regarding the West’s coverage of the national tragedy which was the violence at the Iranian gas hike protests is that there isn’t the barest mention of this very real, very life-and-death, very accurate reality.

The term “counter-revolutionary” staggers the Western mind in its tracks — they seem to think it has been consigned to history? Or because there are no revolutionary countries in the West, and many ones filled with neo-imperial propaganda, perhaps they cannot even conceive of the existence of counter-revolutionaries?

The impact of such naivety is profoundly deadly.

Iranian counter-revolutionaries are aware of this yawning Western blind spot, and so they know that every single Iranian death — when reported by Amnesty International or Western journalists — will be blamed on the government and national security forces even though every Iranian knows that this is false and impossible.

The sweet, good-hearted innocents at Amnesty and the desk-only journalists in London, Paris, and New York City simply do not have the experience, or maybe even the editorial approval, to write this truthful question asked by every Iranian: how many innocent deaths were caused by counter-revolutionaries, and how many counter-revolutionaries pushed their far-right views all the way to their own demise?

We don’t know, as an official government report of the deaths has not yet been released. But everyone in Iran has an idea of the answer — a lot of them.

And there were many innocent deaths of protesters, too. This is why the gas hike protests are a tragedy.

And we know, because no one denies the right to self-defense, that the government simply had to fire back: when somebody drives by on a motorcycle and opens fire… what is the alternative for any civil servant working in security?

What needs to be impressed on non-Iranians is that there are regular protests in Iran and that they are not violent. Iran is not Cuba, which has no protests besides the “Ladies in White.” Iran is also not China, which has almost too many protests to keep track of. Iran is also not the US, which seemingly forgot how to protest in between the end of their Vietnam invasion and the election of Donald Trump. So if Iran has many protests which do not get violent, why did these?

The gas price hikes were launched without warning, and I assume it is because the government knew that they would be very unpopular… but they didn’t want them to be explosive.

And by “explosive” I mean that they didn’t want the old-money monarchists, the insane MKO who are even less popular than the criminal monarchists, ISIL (an attack of theirs caused 70 innocent casualties in Tehran in 2017), the cynical mercenaries bought by Western nations and their Arab monarch puppets, the secret service agencies of such nations which of course target Iran (is this is not a great number of people, already?) to have time to plan their drive-by shootings, building bombings and arsons at a  moment of heightened social unrest. I would say it’s not that the government wanted to catch the Iranian people by surprise, but to catch these illegitimate, undemocratic, far-right, definitely “counter-revolutionary” forces by surprise.

Were there legitimate protests against the gas hikes? As I mentioned, of course, and nor were they unusual or unexpected.

But attacking a police station, probably to get weapons — it is a normal journalistic question to ask if these are the works of counter-revolutionaries or “normal protesters,” regardless of the passport such attackers hold? Take a moment to imagine what the Western mainstream response would be be if French Yellow Vests did that — the idea that any of them would receive the barest sliver of public support is preposterous.

Just like with the Yellow Vests, the West lies about the true authors of protest violence

This should be stating the obvious to anyone with a rudimentary political awareness, but in the Iranian context, a “far-rightist” is synonymous with a “counter-revolutionary.” This is the case of every society which had a revolution since 1917, and Iran is no different. There is no “far-right” party in China, Cuba, Iran, or in any revolutionary nation because revolutionary nations all banish/declare war on far-right forces, after all.

It is difficult for Westerners to understand the recent Iran protests because they are denied this historical-political honesty and context about Iran. Their difficulty is further compounded by the fact that the top NGOs and the Western mainstream media cannot or will not admit that in Western nations the far-right is firmly a part of their establishments, unlike in Iran.

Look at the Yellow Vests in France: across the West, they have been portrayed as violent, far-right thugs masquerading as protesters. The reality is — and I have been there nearly every Saturday and can testify — the scenes of extreme violence always come from Black Bloc members who infiltrate the protests. Black Bloc is totally detrimental to the legitimate pro-democracy and socioeconomic demands of the Yellow Vest protesters; their ultra-left anarchism is totally unwanted; they are easily infiltrated by rogue cops, who merely have to wear black; French riot cops don’t lift a finger to stop Black Bloc’s vandalism — they are either colluding or, certainly, told to allow violence to occur in order to discredit the Yellow Vests.

The Yellow Vests are innocent protesters, just like the Iranian gas hike protesters — they are unarmed and cannot possibly stop people from committing unreasonable violence. Therefore, how can the West blame the Yellow Vests for violence they disavow and have no part in? I don’t know… but that is certainly what they have done for a calendar year.

The real violence comes not from Iranian gas price hike protesters nor Yellow Vests (who started following a gas price hike) in either of their situations, but from outside, unwanted, self-interested forces with incredibly dubious democratic intentions.

It is crystal clear: just as the West doesn’t report that it is Black Bloc committing violence and not the Yellow Vests protesters, the West also doesn’t report that it is far-right/counter-revolutionaries who are the authors of violence in Iran.

The Iranian government must absolutely punish police wrongdoings whenever proven. They must not be like France, which last week finally opened their first trial for police brutality despite the full calendar year of incredibly calculating repression. Iran has had a short-lived paroxysm of violence — the French government cold-bloodedly wages police brutality with sadistic regularity and precision.

However, comparing France and Iran is to compare apples and bowling balls. France’s government doesn’t have to spend one second thinking about catching “anti-France” forces “by surprise.” France is not beset by many rich, far-right groups / nations / monarchs / ex-monarchs / terrorists who get out of bed in the morning with the sole goal of destabilizing their national system.

Iranians, unlike the French, know this article is full of truths.

They know that because they know what propaganda is: France just had its bloodiest day since being kicked out of Beirut some 40 years ago, as 13 French soldiers died while fighting in Mali. President Emmanuel Macron immediately tweeted, “These 13 heroes had just one goal: To protect us.” Now that is laughable propaganda about France’s “one goal!”

Nobody can believe that, but many in France and the West do — all part of the “war on terrorism,” right? But Malians know better: a January 2018 poll in the capital of Bamako revealed that 80% of respondents believe that France’s army is in Mali only to defend its own interests. Which is, of course, obviously the case. Macron immediately and robotically made his phony “war on terror” claim because he knows such scaremongering propaganda is desperately needed to stop honest discussion.

Just as many Westerners will believe Macron’s false propaganda, many Westerners will believe 100% that the Iranian government is responsible for every recent death. The emphatic, self-righteous certainty with which Western propaganda insists this falsehood and inaccuracy is appalling.

Iranians believe otherwise — some told me the majority of the dead were ardent counter-revolutionaries. This is a common perception, but it cannot be verified yet — what’s certain is that innocents did die, and that is a tragedy.

US clarifies its ‘diplomacy:’ allow a counter-revolution or starve to death

The real economic problem in Iran is the Western sanctions blockade. Such sanctions are made to create instability to the point of civil war. The West also funds groups which are designed expressly to create the most sparks precisely at times of heightened dissatisfaction and difficulty.

Those are all facts, and why would they not have been on full display at the gas price hike protests?

They were, but honest analysis of Iranian politics has few forums available. This article has discussed and analyzed these rarely-discussed realities which Iranians know well and will not deny.

In Iran, the violence comes from an ultra-violent right but the West naively acts as if such a political sector in Iran does not exist. The West also naively acts as if within their own nations there is not establishment support of far-right, conservative, certainly “counter-revolutionary” ideas and groups. It should thus be clear why the West is so unwilling to support revolutionary Iran in maintaining its revolution.

The West allies with the far-right across the world. Iranians know this, and they also pay the price. They pay the price at the gas pump, as the West’s blockade has undoubtedly forced the recent price increase, and they pay the price in so very many liters of blood, just as they have done ever since the beginning of the Western-forced invasion by Iraq in 1980.

Why can such realities not be even be broached in Western media or by Western NGOs? To this, I have no satisfactory answer.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo just said, essentially, that Iran has to have a counter-revolution if “they want their people to eat.” As Yemen proves (in case North Korea did not do this already), the US is fine with starvation as a “legitimate” political tactic.

What is certain, sadly, is that no Western journalist called Pompeo a “far-rightist,” a “fascist” or a “counter-revolutionary” — they all simply nodded and reported what he said without question, contestation, or a hint of shame.

The counter-revolutionaries lost in Iran recently, again; Iran mourns that they still keep trying. The nation mourns most of all because of the West’s never-ending blockade against Iranian self-determination.

The terroristic inhumanity of their starvation-strangulation-sanction policy is something which cannot be broached in Western media, NGOs, governments or among many Western citizens, as well.

 

(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)

 

Yellow Vests reach 1 year: The redemption of France’s revolutionary spirit

 

Yellow Vests reach 1 year: The redemption of France’s revolutionary spirit

November 20, 2019

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog (cross-posted with PressTV)

(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 the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.)

For many years to come France will be divided into two periods – before the Yellow Vests, and after the Yellow Vests. It’s widely believed in France that things can never go back to the way they were.

I’m not sure there can be a better yardstick of domestic success – a better gauge of sociocultural impact – than that?

Outside of France the Yellow Vests have given the world a precious gift, and at a huge sacrifice: nobody will ever view “French-style democracy” with the respect their government arrogantly demands as the alleged “birthplace of human rights”. For a generation or longer, “What about the Yellow Vests?”, will be a conversation-ending question to anyone who claims the moral superiority of the “Western-style” political system.

Systematic repression of the poorest classes are indeed “universal values”, but only within neoliberal and neo-imperial systems. Make no mistake: It has been one year of open Yellow Vest revolt against the economic dictates of that “neoliberal empire”, the European Union, and it’s neo-colonial puppet temporarily occupying Élysée Palace in Paris.

What the last year has testified to is the redemption of France’s revolutionary spirit. Not every country has that, after all.

England, for example, will foolishly “keep calm and carry on” – a perfect summation of change-hating conservatism – until the bitter end, always. This is why reading English-language media coverage of the Yellow Vests was so very similar – “English conservative opposes egalitarian movement in France”. They have been running the same story for 200+ years, going back to Edmund Burke, who founded modern Western conservatism with his (reactionary) Reflections on the Revolution in France in 1790.

France is not England, but 53 weeks ago I don’t think anyone imagined that the French could possibly muster the stamina, dedication and self-sacrifice to protest amid massive state-sponsored repression every weekend for one year.

It’s an amazing achievement, and only those full of spite and hate could deny them a modest present of honest recognition on their birthday.

But Western mainstream media coverage in English and French was just that – they claimed the Yellow Vests achieved nothing.

One thing the French don’t like to be reminded of is: the French Revolution failed, and quickly. It’s as if they forget Emperor Napoleon?

The French Revolution is not like the Iranian, Chinese or Cuban Revolutions, all of which have endured. The American Revolution has also endured – too bad that it was even more aristocratic (bourgeois) and sectarian than the French Revolution.

But the French Revolution occurred in an era of constant regional imperialism, war, slavery, repression of women, religious and ethnic sectarianism, etc. – we would be wrong to say it did not still have positive worldwide ramifications in the most important realms of politics, economics, culture, etc. The USSR – the only empire based on affirmative action – also failed, but we would be wrong to say it didn’t also produce positive changes for their people and also worldwide.

Quickly, here are a few tangible victories of the Yellow Vests: they prevented Emmanuel Macron from presenting a 10th consecutive annual austerity budget, they prevented Macron from de-nationalising the three airports of Paris, and the 10 billion euros in so-called “concessions” was credited with keeping French economic growth in the positive in the last quarter.

However, even if the Yellow Vests have obviously not yet toppled the 5th Republic and set up a new order, their cultural is inestimable. Just as the Occupy Movement of the US in 2011 gave us the slogan and mentality of “We are the 99%”, so will the Yellow Vests stand for something equally conscience-raising.

The Yellow Vests want a French Cultural Revolution, and should lead it

However, a big difference between the two movements is that Occupy was led by many college-educated “do-gooders” – and God bless them – whereas the Yellow Vests are undoubtedly a movement of the most marginalised classes.

Seemingly the most comprehensive survey thus far showed that few Vesters are unemployed, two-thirds of Vesters make less than the average national wage, and an even greater percentage regret a lack of cultural resources and social links. In other words: hard-working, (yet still) poor, isolated citizens who yearn for more cultural enrichment.

This is why I have repeatedly drawn a different parallel: the Yellow Vests are essentially demanding a Cultural Revolution. Only China and Iran have ever had one, and both were state-sponsored.

Cultural Revolutions put the values of the formerly-oppressed classes into power – everything is brought to a halt for perhaps years in order to engage in mass discussions, with the aim of drastically updating a nation’s democratic institutions and general culture in order to accord with modern political ideals. This is precisely what the Yellow Vests want: a long, comprehensive, democratic rethink and public debate over France’s inclusion in the European Union, the eurozone, NATO, and the Americanisation/neoliberalisation of their domestic policies.

Chinese peasants, Iran’s “revolution of the barefooted” and the rural-based Yellow Vests – it’s impossible not to admit the parallels. The West, of course, only insists that both Cultural Revolutions were huge mistakes.

Not true: China’s Cultural Revolution created the rural economic and human capital which laid the groundwork for their 1980s-onwards boom, although the West would have you believe its rebirth sprung only from Deng’s reforms; Iran’s Cultural Revolution swept away the elite’s oppressive aping of the West and created the first modern Muslim democracy.

The Yellow Vests insist that they are the “real” France, and after a year of talking with them I agree – they know as much or more about politics than I do. Politics is not rocket science, after all, but mainly applying common morality to public policy and daily events.

Iran and China already had a government inspired by socialist democracy (and not by aristocratic liberal democracy) when they embarked on their Cultural Revolutions, whereas France does not – thus the repression.

What did the Occupy Movement “achieve”, after all? They prevented no bailouts, they folded after infinitely less state repression and there is no direct movement linked with them today. However, only a Burkean conservative would insist that the Occupy Movement didn’t wake many people up to the struggles of class warfare, and of egalitarian right and greedy wrong. It’s never mentioned in the Western media – which only adores far-right, nativist, anti-socialist movements like in Hong Kong – but Algerians have protested for 39 consecutive weekends as well.

The Yellow Vests have not failed – they have much to celebrate on their birthday, and this article serves as a rare reminder of that reality.

Iranian and Russian media – doing France’s job for them

What’s important to note is that since late June – when France started going on summer vacation – Russian and Iranian media in Paris (including my Farsi- and Spanish-language colleagues) have been the only television journalists openly covering the Yellow Vest demonstrations.

My French colleagues have done the most cowardly thing possible – they quit the field. For many months people in Paris couldn’t believe I had to work covering the Yellow Vests on Saturday: I repeatedly heard, “I thought they were finished?”

With exceptions I can count on one hand, for many months French media has been either totally absent or hidden. There are certainly no reporters doing live interviews (even without a logo displaying whom they work for), even though the presence of live reporters inherently reduces the willingness of police to be violent. Considering the toll of violence – 11,000 arrested, 2,000 convicted, 1,000 imprisoned, 5,000 hurt,1,000 critically injured and the innumerable tear-gassings – it’s no wonder French people hate the media.

In France the vast majority of media are private, with editorial lines decided by a handful of billionaires – that’s just how Western journalism works, sadly. “Free speech”, they call it. However, where are the public media – they are paid by taxpayer dollars to objectively cover their own nation?! Quite pathetic….

This is probably why the Macron administration openly disparages Russia’s RT and Sputnik (we won’t get into their problems with PressTV here): we have spent the past year properly doing our jobs, unlike France’s media.

That’s too bad for France, but the unexpected and undeniable accomplishments of the Yellow Vests speak for themselves. Who knows what they might achieve in year 2?

Why France’s 20- and 30-somethings hate the Yellow Vests

Why France’s 20- and 30-somethings hate the Yellow Vests

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

It’s a question which needs be asked, but we can’t wait for the French media to answer it because they have almost totally stopped reporting on the anti-government movement for several months.

The first poll on the Yellow Vests since late March (“!”, and then “?”) finally came out two weeks ago. It was so eagerly gobbled up by a French media hungry for objective knowledge on the Yellow Vests that as many as two media talked about it. I missed it because I have already wasted a minimum of 3 hours of my life doing fruitless Google news searches for “Yellow Vest poll”.

The headline of Ouest-France newspaper, by far the most read Francophone paper in the world, was typically “negative-no-matter-what”: “A majority of France have had enough of the Yellow Vests”.

That’s a pretty bold statement considering that this majority is just 52%, which must be within the poll’s margin of error.

The headline could have fairly been: “A majority of France still supports the Yellow Vests despite all the state repression and media negativity”. Considering what a historic anti-government movement this is – the French have just avoided a 9th consecutive austerity budget expressly because of the Yellow Vests – objective journalism would have prioritised the “support” angle and not the “oppose” angle.

More poll tidbits to munch on for those who care about public opinion (which means you are obviously not a Western politician):

Vesters are now openly opposed by retirees (63%), executives/management (61%) and technicians/professionals (58%). However, they are openly supported by workers (52%), rural citizens (47%), the National Front party (64%) and the (true, not far-) leftist Unsubmissive France party (80%). Per the pollers: “The Yellow Vests remain popular with those segments of the population which were at the origin of the movement.

One final poll petit-four: 93% of those who support Macron’s party are against the Yellow Vests, while another recent poll showed that 98% of Macronistas think he is doing a good job. What this reminds us is that there is a hard-core Macronista base for whom he can absolutely do no wrong. I assumed such adoration was limited to 60+ year old single women dreaming of a winter-spring romance (an incredibly winter-spring romance), but it is a solid quarter of the population. This rate of genuine support is actually unchanged since the election in 2017: a quarter of France just adores this guy, no matter what, and apparently no amount of violence can change that.

Let’s get to the point of this column

One segment of society which does not support the Yellow Vests is the 20- and 30-something crowd.

This is based on my regular attendance at Yellow Vest demonstrations, and also many months of informally talking with this age group (of which I am quite nearly a part of). I’d like to pass on what I think are the reasons for their opposition:

  • We must remember that the Yellow Vests are primarily a middle-aged phenomenon – the average of those marching is probably 50 years old. This age group is the one which is most motivated because they are nearing retirement and they see just how bad austerity will make things for them. This generation will not do anywhere as well as their parents, and they are rightfully upset – they really had no chance to “succeed”: they found jobs (or can’t find any job) which will provide the personal nest egg which is required in the Anglo-Saxon system, which is the system that neoliberal austerity seeks to disruptively impose on France. The main problem is that French wages have always been far lower, and taxes quite higher, than their Western counterparts because the deal was that they’d have low wages but a much better social safety net. This deal has been terminated during the Age of Austerity, and Macron’s absurd, inhuman “one-size-fits-all” pension reform is the coup de grâce. Therefore, this segment of society – not professional, working class, low savings, not university educated, not thrilled with their job but still as vital to the functioning of society as you or me – is leading the revolt because they know that if they don’t… they will be working their low-paying job until they are 64 or their knees give out (whichever comes first), and then have a pittance of a pension to boot.
  • What about the young adult Parisians? Firstly, this is an old persons’ town – you have to have money to live within its highway walls. But are you talking about those who were raised in Paris? I guess you mainly referring to those who grew up in the rich Western areas – that place I go and look at like a tourist (seems nice over there), with all their fancy little kids and quiet and trees. People who grow up in these areas are rich – these are the very Macronista urbanites who are young, terrifying and want to eat their elders. They view Macron as their leader, God and role model. So young adult Parisians manning the barricades? Fuggetaboutit. This holds true for all of France’s cities.
  • What about the working class adult urbanites? Like in my area? Do you mean the Chinese, the Hasidic or the Arabs? All of these worker bees crammed into small, noisy apartments were likely turned off by the immediate and totally false smear that the Yellow Vests were racist. Also, the working class is often quite busy working.
  • What about the poor city suburbs, surely they are sympathetic? Indeed, the poor Muslim, Arab and Black areas are all totally sympathetic to the Vesters. However, they are not stupid – they know that if they go to the Vester demonstrations in any city the cops will absolutely, undoubtedly wage police brutality on them first. This truth is so very, very, very self-evident to Muslims and people of Color that we cannot even imagine that many of you cannot accept this, and we just turn and walk away when we start getting blamed for not leading the Yellow Vest charge. People from these areas have been totally marginalised… but when you need cannon fodder, then we get an engraved invitation? LOL, thanks, but no thanks. Nobody cares about the opinion of these areas/groups anyway, but I can report that the Vesters do indeed have their sincere moral support. Finally, Muslims and Blacks probably compose around 5-8% of France – if they did join en masse only 1 out of every 20 Vesters or so would be a non-White, anyway.

And here is the main reason why French Whites – who are the majority among the 20- and 30-somethings in France – do not support the Vesters.

  • I was surprised at the immediate antipathy for the Yellow Vests among the young White French adults I talked with in Paris, but who are the young White French adults in Paris? These are the primarily the people from small towns who are creative types and who move to the urban areas in order to flee the small-town culture, people, mores and activities they found so very stifling. The Yellow Vests are a primarily rural movement, and – as I have described their primary social-class makeup – France’s young urbanites seem to view the Vesters as the older classmates/bullies who made fun of them for being arty and weird and urbanite-aping back in their small town – many 30-somethings in Paris moved expressly to get away from these types! Therefore, it is unthinkable for them to side with the Yellow Vests, and after only the very first couple of demonstrations Parisian young adults seemingly all turned against the Yellow Vests, in my experience. These Parisian young adults see a faded, generic, poorly drawn forearm tattoo on many a Vester, and then they look at their own fancy tattoo (a Chinese character, a magic symbol, or some emblem of personal motivation or social defiance) and they think: “To hell with those White Trash – I never got invited to their parties and I want to lead a different lifestyle.”

So there you have it in a nutshell. Many French people actually made the move to the big city from the small town because they fundamentally resent the people who primarily compose the Yellow Vests.

There are other reasons:

  • Paris attracts young adults from all over the world – where are they? The Western expatriates living in France feel similarly or even more hostile than their French counterparts, in my experience. Many absurdly view Yellow Vests as outright reactionaries, mainly because they have absolutely no idea what the hell they are talking about when it comes to “French culture + class struggle”. These Western White expats simplistically view Vesters as extensions of their own “Brexiteers”, “basket of deplorable American rednecks”, etc., and do not feel the need to dig any deeper than such a superficial comparison – many of these immigrants would have a hard time understanding even if they tried, such is their unfamiliarity with a class lens. Bottom line: they are not about to stop the “Western expat party” and get tear gassed for any Yellow Vest, that is certain.
  • France, contrary to Anglophone media claims, is not a socialist country: aristocratic snobbery permeates and runs amok in the culture here as only it can on the Old Continent. It’s worse in Paris, but “I reject you first” is the initial war a French person declares upon meeting someone. The young adult urbanites in France have not at all been inculcated with class warfare and class solidarity, but identity politics: they identify with their fellow “bobos” (bourgeois bohemians), hipsters, artists and pretty young people. Have a shoulder tattoo I can’t see and not a wrist tattoo? Not cool enough. Next please. Swipe left. Je m’en fous.
  • France was an individualist country even before the rise of neoliberalism, I imagine, but rapacious neoliberalism surely leads to a fundamental lack of sympathy: Young urbanites here simply cannot imagine – nor do they try to – the grim future which 50-year old Yellow Vesters know to be a rapidly encroaching fact.
  • Furthermore, young people are dumb, (If you were paying me for this I’d look it up and provide the link but you’ll have to just take my word for it): I read a recent poll which said that something like 10% of young French people think Macron’s radical reforms will not actually reduce their own pensions, LOL! Sure… you’ll be the one who is special. Vesters are old enough to know better to get involved with this movement.

Given all these facts, we must realise that these urbanites want revenge on the class which primarily composes the Vesters – they don’t want to see them win, and they have repeatedly told me they don’t want them marching anymore in their hipster paradise areas of Paris.

I use the strong word “revenge” because I have found this to be a hugely important motivator in Western capitalist society. These young (smug, stupid, classist, fake-leftist/rabid neoliberal) anti-Yellow Vesters want not only a huge chunk of the pie, but they also to show all the people they left behind what a big shot they lost.

This is not hyperbole – this is what “competition” truly is. Western society (being anti-socialist and rabidly individualist) is fundamentally predicted on competition, and thus these types of feelings can be found plastered on billboards as a form of encouragement.

Finally, it is not “cool” to be a Vester in the French mainstream, and 20- and 30-somethings in the West prize “cool” above all. If you think famous actors, musicians, artists, thinkers, ballplayers, etc. are showing up/have ever showed up to Yellow Vest demonstrations… you must think these people don’t fear losing their social status more than anything – then they would have to get a real job.

“But Ramin,” you object, “how can cool people not be at the Yellow Vest demonstrations when YOU are there?”

Thank you. It seems paradoxical, indeed, but there’s an easy explanation: I turn 42 next week.

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

Back to French tear gas in the morning: smells like austérité

Back to French tear gas in the morning: smells like austérité

September 22, 2019

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

September 21 (hello autumn) was the worst day of violence in Paris since May 1st. That day is best remembered for when “centrist” politicians and citizens were enraged that Yellow Vest/union/old lady demonstrators would dare to seek refuge in a hospital rather than stand there and get tear gassed prior to getting charged and beaten by cops.

President Emmanuel Macron knew a black mark day was coming – not just Yellow Vests but unions and climate change protesters would also be marching – so he made a major concession: he gave a public interview. Noblesse oblige!

Macron waited two years before giving his first press conference, so we shouldn’t have expected a miracle, but France’s #1 public servant could have considered to talking to French media, at least. Instead he spoke with US magazine Time.

In the land of Ayn Rand, where the petit bourgeois boss is the undisputed chief in a million hillbilly fiefs, Macron may have been playing to his audience when he said: “In our country, we want leadership, but we also want to kill the leaders.” Who can forget Louis XVI?

However, I thought of all the French leaders who weren’t hacked to death by a vengeful populace. Louis I, for example. Louis II – there’s another one. Louis III, him too. In fact, Louis IV through Louis XV all were not assassinated, so why is Macron so worried about public retribution?

Look deeper into French history – despite #MeToo claims of universality it’s not even a gender thing: (2018’s 43,434th-most popular name) Ermentrude of Orléans, (don’t call me “Big”) Bertha of Burgundy and that lousy job-stealing immigrant Clementia of Hungary all escaped assassination despite being the nation’s #1 lady. Joan the Lame was a regent, and thus held the real power, and yet she wasn’t beheaded even though she must have been pretty easy to catch. They did destroy Joan’s tomb during the French revolution – she couldn’t run forever.

I also note that way back in the Merovingian era Engelbert the Humperdinck was not assassinated either, despite his many crimes which fell harshly on the ears of his suffering subjects.

To clarify for Macron: France wants leadership but they also want to kill their leaders sometimes. Other times they build huge statues to their leaders, like Charles de Gaulle and Joan of Arc. It seems to rather depend on the leader, and I thus think this allegedly French sentiment may actually be universal.

Jokes aside, Macron is obviously not trying to get re-elected, and thus he shows the biggest loophole in Western bourgeois democracy: the one in which opportunists temporarily accept public service in order to exploit it for personal gains.

(Contrarily, I’m not sure Iran’s Supreme Leader is even allowed to resign? He is there expressly to be a permanent patriotic force within a democratic system – presidents came and go but the Leader does not – and to mediate among different societal groups for the good of the national well-being.)

I look at Macron’s cover of Time and I see Brazil’s Michel Temer.

There is a clear contradiction between the image and caption on the cover of Time: Macron is frankly and aggressively rolling up his sleeves, yet the words about his “troubled presidency” indicate contrition, guilt and a desire for reconciliation. Anybody need to roll up their sleeves before a fraternal embrace? Anyway, Time got it fundamentally wrong: In June Macron declared he was on “Act 2” of his presidency, which is not at all a reset but an advance, a progression. Macron is rolling up his sleeves because his current pension and unemployment system rollbacks are the most divisive and most sweeping of his presidency. Like Temer, he couldn’t care less about the consequences – he has work to do, and the work is the social dismantling ordered by neoliberal austerity ideology and Brussels. Both Macron and Temer act on the orders of their 1% friends – the only reset for them is personal and after their terms, when they get the cushy lives and private, ego-stroking conferences where their hurt, under-appreciated egos can be revived.

But why should Time journalists have any real idea about what the “French Street” thinks? They aren’t there, haven’t been there and ain’t gonna be there – they hold the Yellow Vests in the same contempt as US Zionists do the “Arab Street”.

What Time would have seen on the worst day of violence since May 1

The tear gas and police brutality started at 10 am. I’m not sure what time it was in Hong Kong?

The first tear gas always provokes the most dramatic symptoms – I imagine it is because your body is telling you, “What the hell is this you’re inhaling now? Get it out of here.” Your skin burns more, you are expectorating excessively via the mouth and nose, your heart rate is elevated well after the “conflict adrenaline” has worn off. The next gassings are much easier, provided you are not at ground zero of course.

I have taken so much tear gas in “the birthplace of human rights” I wonder just how much poison I have built up in my bloodstream? I wonder if I can sue the French government for creating a hazardous work environment after organ failure from cyanide poisoning? Probably not.

Tear gas was falling from the skies regularly, and especially loud Yellow Vests were being individually targeted for violent arrest, but for whatever reasons – programming, shift change, etc. – after my 12pm live interview PressTV didn’t want another interview until 2pm. Being the die-hard activist journalist me and my cameramen are, we went on lunch break.

Hey, we gotta eat sometime. We’re workers, and Macron hasn’t revoked our right to a lunch break yet. And we can’t be there for every gassing/beating/rubber bullet – it’s not possible; furthermore, if we, did eventually our time would come and then there’d be no more reports at all. Gotta play the long game.

By the time we returned the Champs the crowds had really thinned out, after looking like there would be enough to hold it all day. Cops were being totally brutal: gas, confuse and punish, push people off the Champs, and then don’t allowing them back in, thus locking down the world’s greatest mall/boulevard. But we had an interview scheduled, so we stuck around with the perhaps 500 die-harders still hoping unionists, climate changers and Black Bloc would show up to retake this iconic mall-evard from the hated regime.

So we go live and do our interview, and we probably contributed to the violence. This is what often happens: The Yellow Vests know they’re on TV all of a sudden, cuz some monkey with a microphone is yammering in front of a camera, and they want to represent. They get loud and rowdy. In this way the presence of journalists hypes up the crowd in a way similar to, but actually very different, the presence of hyper-armed cops agitates a crowd. For political protesters journalist coverage is a sign that they matter and that they are doing something right and worthy of comment: that’s what makes it so sad that my French media colleagues are never covering the Yellow Vests – if they were, thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people would join the protests again. Of course, the vast police repression since late March is the main reason the average Frenchmen isn’t showing up.

We finish live French protest interview #481 (I truly and humbly contend that no journalist in France has covered as many demonstrations as I have in the past decade – that number I gave is my honest estimate) and the little crowd is back to being the Yellow Vest engine that could.

Heartwarming… let’s get out of here. And we left because we had to go find another demonstration to cover – newsroom bosses want you to be where the action is, and there was a huge climate change protest there. Frankly, and sadly, I think much of the crowd had dissipated because they wanted to go join the eco-nuts, who are have as much backbone for a political fight as tofu.

Why was I going to the climate change protest and not the union demonstration? Because only one of the nine major unions ultimately decided to demonstrate that day – total betrayal of a day which was supposed to be so huge, but that’s the “virtue” of “independent” trade unions, right?

As we are leaving and I take one last look and – the tear gas is flying again. Of course it was: cops fear rowdy protesters whom they haven’t totally beaten into silence and submission, thus – launch some more gas.

Nothing we can do for ya, Vesters. We gotta think of where the action will be 45 minutes from now, and y’all had been kettled (boxed in by cops) and y’all knew they were going to gas you, drive you out and put the Champs on lockdown and if ya didn’t know then now ya know.

What teases we journalists are! Get ‘em all excited, and then leave ‘em in their moment of need. Don’t blame me, lady – blame the system.

The alternative hypothesis is that the cops saw that the only camera-wielding journalists around were leaving, and that the coast was clear for more gassing. Then it is still our presence which provoked it, and more shame on my well-heeled French media colleagues for not being there.

The final hypothesis is that the cops were about to gas them anyway and the timing of our leaving was purely coincidental. That is certainly mathematically logical, given the rates of tear gassing by French cops on Saturdays.

Regardless, that was an interesting anecdote which proves the journalistic corollary to quantum mechanics – the mere observation of a phenomenon inevitably changes that phenomenon. Again, what would the effects be if the French media were actually there? Or even journalists from Time?

The eco-kooks: fake-leftist politics at its most pathetic

I can’t stand covering ecological protests – what a waste of time.

Firstly, climate change requires a cooperative solution on an international level, and obviously capitalism is predicated on competition at an international level. Therefore, there is no reason at all to do a damned thing about environmental issues – the only solution is to get socialism first. No socialism? Then no possible climate solution.

Secondly, is climate change a news beat which is not being covered enough already? Hardly – there are 900 billion Western journalists who simply adore covering this story. I note that the roughly 900 billion climate change articles in Western media on any given Tuesday hasn’t done much good. Don’t tell that to the eco-freaks, though – they think they’re God’s favourite servants.

Definitely don’t point out to them that the 1% just adores you wasting your political energy on climate change instead of class issues. Climate change is inherently neutered of any class aspect: billionaires and homeless alike all litter or leave a “climate impact” (or whatever) or don’t compost properly.

Climate change protests are thus so very, very useless that I cannot give a damn, and the protesters directly acknowledged this: they had one big ballon, which read “Give a f***”. Classy. And they’re the only ones who give a f***, right?

Smug punks. And climate change protesters are punks with a capital P – too many examples to list, but here’s a quick few:

The presence of alcohol at French political demonstrations is lamentable – this is not a party – but only at eco-protests do you see Champagne.

The presence of loud music at protests – instead of loudly-chanted slogans or even silence – is… acceptable, I guess. But for many people Saturday wasn’t a protest but a rave, celebrating Mother Earth – techno music boomed it’s 4-on-the-floor “pound my tiny soul into submission” with the idiot hipster/bobo DJ calmly, slowly saying (for the people there on ecstasy or MDMA) “Feeeeeeeeeeel the earth…. don’t let it die.” Nothing says “I protest” like dancing during a protest march.

The presence of mimes at protests… can only happen in France, of course. I have no idea what political purpose they served, but I must admit they were amusing. I must also admit I was hoping they would also be tackled by cops for their very minor vandalisms, because they they would have to say something. Mimes are a good symbol for ecological protesters in general: they are there to be seen. And, I’d add, to feel good about and receive praise for their nonsensical works.

The presence of tear gas at ecological protests is not expected because WHAT a buzzkill, amirite? When the first tear gas flew the eco-warriors were so panicked thousands of them all ran in the wrong direction… and just kept marching that way. LOL, later comrades!

That was a new one. But I was hopeful, because instead of heading in the exact opposite direction of the Champs (as the eco-route had planned), they were now heading toward it – let’s retake the Champs, yes!

No, eco-warriors planned to march in the exact opposite direction of the Champs (east, not west) and they were determined to make sure they stayed away from any possible conflict with cops that could create bad karma/force them to shower (the tear gas off) later. Eventually, the thousands all just turned around and marched in the proper direction. Inwardly, they were likely too egotistical to ask themselves if they looked like idiots.

Black Bloc must have got the address wrong

The violence which spooked the eco-kooks was provided by Black Bloc. We had arrived just in time to see it happen:

The usual. Targeted vandalism against banks, real estate agencies (10,000 euros per square meter now in Paris, so believe me when I say that my landlord – whom I have made rich – can take a long walk off a short pier), and sexist ads (lotta Black Bloc are women).

There was a twist, and you gotta admit Black Bloc is up on things: they attacked the Egyptian Central Centre… obviously in solidarity with the anti-Sisi protests in Egypt going on that day. These Blocers were up on the news, found out the Egyptian Cultural Centre was on the eco-route, and took action. I got that wrong in this live interview from the scene among the debris – maybe Black Blocers could do my job better? Cut me some slack – live interviews are hard: I got it right in time for the days official report.

(I talked with the lone Egyptian worker at the Centre, and whom you can see in that video – he said the Centre was clearly targeted. He showed me an empty vodka bottle they had thrown inside, but Black Bloc isn’t a bunch of drunks. I felt bad for the poor guy – who knows if he supports Sisi or not? He’s just manning a cultural centre in some far away place – Egyptians need cultural centres, after all.)

Ok, there was some damage which was not purely political – two motorcycles were set on fire. However, when I claw my way to the top and become dictator of France the first thing I will do is ban those damned loud lawnmowers they call transportation. You have to live in Paris to understand just how much extra reverberations motorcycles make in this walled city – noise pollution is a much bigger problem than regular pollution (which is also a problem) – so I personally view anti-motorcycle actions as 100% justified; it is social, if not necessarily political. On top of their annoying and perpetual noise, motorcycle riders do nothing but drive between car lanes and break every law imaginable. I truly believe Paris has become more dangerous to drive in than Tehran, and that is pretty amazing. (Of course, in the past few decades Iran has actually invested in driver infrastructure whereas Paris just makes more bike lanes; Iran now has many more traffic cops, which is a type of public worker you’ll never seen in Paris – maybe they were there pre-austerity?)

Seeing as how our job is to be at the front line, we had to be at the front line fire. I made a rookie mistake – never be in a situation where you have to flee down a side street, always stay on the main thoroughfares and close to the wall. So, they gassed us (women, elderly, children) to clear way for the fire trucks to put out the fire. Here’s the thing: the crowd was already moving back to clear a way – the gassing was not at all necessary but punitive. The tear gas cans exploded mid-air so close to me I could see them ignite clearly, and that’s when you lose an eye. Alhamdulillah, me and my colleague were ok. Pretty badly gassed, but we’ve had worse. The worst part? I was only so close because I was scheduled to do a live interview from the craziness, but our damned connection wasn’t good enough! So I was gassed, crying, running and yelling at Tehran to put me on the damned air all at the same time. It happens.

But I admit it humbly: with my awesome-sounding French in my PressTV Français recap at the end of the day (not posted yet), I was not critical enough of Black Bloc – they can do more harm than good. Mainly when they go where they are not wanted – like that ecological protest instead of the Champs.

Immediately after the violence and mid-demonstration Greenpeace and Youth for Climate tweeted that they were revoking their leadership of the march and that everyone should leave the protest. Tough kids, eh?

I talked with a Black Blocer just prior to the gassing: a woman who was very voluptuously built. She was probably one of those defacing sexist ads, as she is likely subject to constant objectification when walking down the street (a hejab undoubtedly gives women a break from that, but let’s leave that issue there): heaven forbid she violently object to female nudity in public advertising, because that’s proof France is so “sexually progressive” and “respectful of women”, right? She took off her mask when she saw I was one of the good journalists – her pretty young face was flushed from leftist exertion. Dressed head to toe in black, she said she wasn’t Black Bloc but merely rocking the “Goth” look. A lovely figure, pretty face, guts and a sense of humour? Of course I was so smitten I could not identify her to authorities if ever forced to do so, such was the mass of stars, hearts and bright lights swirling around her.

I would have talked to a Youth for Climateer but they were retreating too fast… yet somehow they were able to tweet at the same time? Millennials – so talented!

Another Saturday in France, more long-term lung damage

The reality, which is still difficult to grasp as we left Yellow Vest #45 and filmed an old man whose face was red and bloodied from cops, as well as a bleeding, handcuffed old woman, is that things are only going to get worse: As I wrote, the pension and unemployment systems will have the broadest immediate impact of any of Macron’s “deforms”, thus they will provoke the broadest protests.

Such protests go beyond the Yellow Vests’ capability. September 21 was significant because it was the “Yellow Vest Day Without the Yellow Vests” – most did not wear them. The idea was to finally converge the Vesters with the various social struggles (unions, NGOs, mainstream leftist political parties, even eco-kooks, etc.). After 10 months, they have to join forces with the right groups.

They are talking about an unlimited transport strike in December, and I never recall hearing that before. No Christmas vacation for me, I guess.

The only TV media openly covering the Yellow Vests remains Iran (in English, French, Spanish and Farsi) and RT. I have seen France’s LCI (the government channel) openly there for about 6 weeks, and once or twice last month I saw TF1, but that’s it. I’m sure the fake-leftist MSM was all over the climate change march – because they always are – and I hope they got more tear gas than I did.

However, the process of lasting revolution is long – it takes years of struggle, and victory is not assured until households and families are forced to choose sides against each other. I am not promoting familial disharmony, just reporting what I have read of previous revolutions – the simplest, most moral and most effective choice, of course, is to side with the lower classes.

The thing about a “reset” in a video game is that you just go right back to the same beginning, and you have totally erased from memory all the bad you did. Why would Macron deserve a reset from the French public?

Too bad for Macron that civil service and politics are not a video game, or a hippie rave. Too bad for everyone in the global economy that austerity continues.

The reality is that Macron doesn’t even know his own country’s history: since the 9th century less than five of France’s just over 100 leaders have been killed. France doesn’t kill their leaders – they exile them, even those of the First Republic (1792-1804). This is another false cliche Macron has accepted as fact which is mainly promoted by fearful, reactionary English monarchists. Beheadings aren’t necessary – just ask any Frenchman: what could be a worse fate than to not live in France?

Macron will likely wind up exiled as well – who doesn’t imagine the young Macron being feted like an emperor in the Anglophone business world after he isn’t re-elected in 2022?

So Macron needn’t worry – he’ll probably just have his tomb desecrated like Joan the Lame. Probably a lot of other similarities between Macron and Joan the Lame, I imagine….

The question Macron should ask himself is: what is it that he is doing which is causing him to have regicide on his mind?

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

Macron screams ‘fire!’ on a crowded planet as burning Amazon serves as ultimate G7 smokescreen

Image result for Macron screams ‘fire!’ on a crowded planet as burning Amazon serves as ultimate G7 smokescreen

Robert Bridge
August 24, 2019

Any chance of the seven most industrialized eco-trashers preventing the Amazon from going up in smoke is a bit like hoping Hollywood executives will find a way to stop sex and violence from appearing on the big screen. It’s probably not going to happen. The G7 wants to keep filling the seats for a show called ‘Capitalism’ and come next week few will remember the French president’s fiery, self-serving outburst.

For those dozen or so people who still have not been shunned, shadow-banned or otherwise disappeared from Twitter, you may have heard about Emmanuel Macron’s latest Napoleon impersonation on the global soap box.

“Our house is burning. Literally,” the former Rothschild investment banker warned in a tweet that carried the disturbing photo of a lush chunk of rainforest being engulfed in an inferno. “The Amazon rain forest – the lungs which produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen – is on fire. It is an international crisis. Members of the G7 Summit, let’s discuss this emergency first order in two days!”

Emmanuel Macron

@EmmanuelMacron

Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rain forest – the lungs which produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen – is on fire. It is an international crisis. Members of the G7 Summit, let’s discuss this emergency first order in two days!

View image on Twitter
87.7K people are talking about this
Once again, the French leader’s arrogance – he once told an unemployed man he could find work if he “crossed the street,” and referred to Paris protesters as “slackers” – is exceeded only by his stellar stupidity. By way of example, notice how his apocalyptic tweet didn’t begin with a diplomatic, ‘Dear Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, we really need to talk.’ Instead, Macron completely ignored the leader of the world’s fifth most-populated country, directing his ‘Brazil is burning’ meme to the G7 (Canada, Italy, France, Germany, Japan, the UK and the US). And make no mistake about it, there is cause for concern.

Satellite data released by the National Institute for Space research (Inpe) shows an increase of 85 percent this year in fires across Brazil, the majority in the Amazon region, which is crucial for absorbing a hefty part of consumer society’s massive carbon footprint. Such information will not play well with a public already feeling the effects of climate change.

Unfortunately, however, Macron’s very undiplomatic approach to a very serious problem caused the horses to stumble right out of the gates. In keeping with the technological tendencies of the times, Bolsonaro immediately fired up his own Twitter account, responding to Macron in equally coarse fashion.

“I regret that President Macron seeks to instrumentalize an internal issue of Brazil and other Amazonian countries for personal political gain,” the Brazilian leader wrote. “The sensationalist tone with which he refers to the Amazon (appealing even to fake photos) does nothing to solve the problem.”

Bolsonaro even saw in Macron’s flatfooted remark a modern form of colonialism, which Brazil knows about firsthand.

“The French President’s suggestion that Amazonian issues be discussed at the G7 without the participation of the countries of the region evokes a misplaced colonialist mindset in the 21st century,” he wrote with some justification.

Macron, despite being infected with an elitist lack of self-awareness, probably knew what he was doing anyways.  By ignoring Brazil’s voice in a matter intimately connected to its own sovereignty, Macron managed to make a somewhat aggressive overture to BRICS, the economic powerhouse comprised of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Presently, there is fierce competition between the G7 and BRICS for a shrinking slab of global pie that is not often discussed in polite society. Suffice it to mention the deepening trade war unfolding between China and the United States, as well as the reckless, politically motivated Western sanctions slapped on Russian companies.

At the same time, Emmanuel Macron, picking up where so many other French leaders before him have left off, is revisiting the dream of turning France into some sort of regional political power that somehow always looks more like a bed and breakfast boutique. Just this week, Macron hosted Vladimir Putin at Fort de Bregancon, the official residence of the French president, followed up with a meeting with newly elected UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the question of Brexit. Now, with Macron set to play host to the G7 this week in Biarritz, he probably felt sufficiently empowered to jostle Brazil.

Jair M. Bolsonaro

@jairbolsonaro

– Lamento que o presidente Macron busque instrumentalizar uma questão interna do Brasil e de outros países amazônicos p/ ganhos políticos pessoais. O tom sensacionalista com que se refere à Amazônia (apelando até p/ fotos falsas) não contribui em nada para a solução do problema.

51.1K people are talking about this

Jair M. Bolsonaro

@jairbolsonaro

– Lamento que o presidente Macron busque instrumentalizar uma questão interna do Brasil e de outros países amazônicos p/ ganhos políticos pessoais. O tom sensacionalista com que se refere à Amazônia (apelando até p/ fotos falsas) não contribui em nada para a solução do problema.

Jair M. Bolsonaro

@jairbolsonaro

– O Governo brasileiro segue aberto ao diálogo, com base em dados objetivos e no respeito mútuo. A sugestão do presidente francês, de que assuntos amazônicos sejam discutidos no G7 sem a participação dos países da região, evoca mentalidade colonialista descabida no século XXI.

22.1K people are talking about this
As such, Macron missed a golden opportunity – if he really sought one in the first place – to mediate on a global issue of truly significant import. After all, it is hard to underestimate the necessity of protecting the world’s largest tropical rainforest. In addition to serving as the ‘lungs of the planet,’ the Amazon, through its immense biodiversity, is the fountainhead of medical remedies, many of which remain undiscovered. Only a fool would be unmoved by the wanton destruction of this life-supporting ecosystem.

Macron could have achieved something truly historic – hammering out a global initiative for protecting the Amazon – by inviting Jair Bolsonaro to the G7 as guest of honor. The Brazilian leader, overwhelmed by the outpouring of international attention and respect, would have been much more likely to agree to some immediate plan of action, like an international assembly of firefighters. After all, Bolsonaro has already admitted that Brazil lacks the necessary resources to protect the Amazon, which exceeds Europe in sheer size.

Instead, Macron behaved once again with supreme arrogance, humiliating Bolsonaro instead of placating him, thereby creating a schism between the international community and Brasilia that will further complicate any future effort at saving the Amazon, and even the planet.

It is almost as if Emmanuel Macron, who has been hounded by endless weeks of demonstrations by Yellow Vest protesters, who plan to convene on Bairritz during the G7, used the Amazon fires as a convenient smokescreen to conceal more burning issues closer to home. In that sense, Macron’s effort to politicize Brazil’s raging rainforest fires when the world’s attention will be focused on France is understandable, yet no less deplorable.

Police Suicide in France: the whistle was blown, but the Macron regime pretends to be deaf

July 25, 2019

by Ollie Richardson for The Saker Blog

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:65529449_548100765594065_4141423177240674304_n.jpg
Dear reader, if you enjoy my Yellow Vests reporting and want it to continue, then please consider becoming my Patron and helping me give the movement the fair English-language coverage it deserves. More information can be found here.

(Photo taken by me on June 29th in Paris during a Yellow Vests demonstration)

I think by now most people who are interested in geopolitics are familiar with the “Yellow Vests” movement and the social unrest in France, but one topic that receives almost no mainstream media coverage (neither in the Anglophone nor French press), and which the French government deliberately ignores, is police suicide. At the time of writing – July 25th – there have been 66 police suicides in France so far in 2019. According to the President of the association “Uniformes en danger” Christelle Teixeira, 88 police officers killed themselves in 2018. At the current rate in 2019 it means that every four days a police officer kills themselves. This epidemic of suicides in the ranks of law enforcement is becoming an endemic problem that some people sometimes like to compare to the suicidal tendencies of French farmers, who have also been hit hard by socio-economic distress and drought.

Thus, according to a Senate report from June 2018, the rate of suicide in the French police is 36% higher than what is seen in the general population. Concerning farmers, the same rate was 20% to 30% higher than the average for the French population, according to a study published by the “Public Health of France” agency in 2016. It is a similar trend, but with a big difference concerning police officers and gendarmes: they all have the same employer – the state; and the same boss, the Interior Minister Christophe Castaner. The plans that were launched in the past to try to solve the problem, especially in May 2018 under the leadership of Gerard Collomb, are considered to be too weak by some police officers, who cite the daily grind and the “social context that is currently tense in many socio-professional categories”, as Jean-Pierre Colombies explains.

“Christophe Castaner refused a hearing at the association ‘Angry Law Enforcement Wives’ on this topic in November 2018, which is quite evocative, but in any case, one finds oneself in such a context of social tension that one can hardly imagine fundamental work in our rigid administration. Meanwhile, in the police stations, it must be made clear that officials do not know how much they can trust their minister. These are the kind of ideas that come to us from the ground.”

“Concerning police suicides, the situation is catastrophic. A death every four days is unheard of, practically. It is unbearable for us to see this phenomenon boiled down to ‘personal problems’. When the Director of Public Order and Traffic, Alain Gibelin, resigned after a big burnout, we were told that it was the workload that caused his illness, but when it is a cop from the very beginning, we are told that it is the personal context that leads to suicide … It is therefore clear that the assessment of occupational pressure is variable depending on the department.”

Jean-Pierre Colombies proposed an idea that even he considers to be “utopian”:

“We should rethink the relationship between police and society, as well as the relationship between the administration and its police officers. Sometimes it works and there are some great service managers, I’ve known some, but you have to admit that some are real problems, very destructive people that make dialogue between the police and their administration often broken. In these cases, when occupational pressure adds to personal problems, some crack. That’s what we showed in our film.

On March 12th several police associations held a night gathering at Trocadero for the purpose of raising awareness of this cause. Despite the presence of some media, including RT France, two minority unions (VIGI and France Police), and two political figures (Senator François Grosdidier and the deputy Nicolas Dupont-Aignan), the government has not reacted to this new invitation for dialogue.

And this is not the only initiation for dialogue that has been sent to the Macron regime by a police officer. Alexandre Langlois, who was the head of a police union until recently, when he was suspended from his duties for dissent, is subject to a six-month temporary exclusion from the National Police (Police Nationale) after revealing internally and to the press a number of serious things concerning the Ministry of the Interior. Suicides, sexual assaults, falsifications of numbers, toxic tear gas (a new secret formulae being used by the police) – he rips into the government…

… whilst at the same time inviting Castaner for a debate.

After a policeman from the Cergy branch of the Regional Directorate of the Judicial Police of Versailles committed suicide in the armory of the drop-in center of the Police Judiciaire in Cergy-Pontoise (Val d’Oise) on July 24th, the “Alternative Police” union was received at Place Beauveau on July 25th by Fabrice Gardon, the police adviser of Christophe Castaner, “to address this painful subject.”

Through a press release, the “Alternative Police” union says it wants to “put an end to this slump and to this deadly crisis so that 2019 is not a year of sad recording breaking in relation to the last twenty years”. The union recalls that it alerts “the successive Interior Ministers” over the last 5 years about this situation, declares that it is necessary “to immediately tackle the causes that lead to suicide, and no longer the consequences via prevention plans whose effects remain to be demonstrated”.

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:EAURMOZW4AAv_fA.jpg

During this meeting, the union planned to send to the Interior Ministry a document entitled: “2019 -2022, the police flourish in their daily work for a national police at the height of social issues”. This “white paper” presents the “proposals” and “recommendations” of “Alternative Police” aimed at improving the working conditions and concretely fighting against the police suicide rate.

The union does not intend to stop at this meeting. It plans to catch “Emmanuel Macron’s police advisor, Mr. Hottiaux”, and “the Prime Minister in order to obtain a government commitment”. It also asks that the public authorities organize “without delay real high-level talks in the National Police”.

“Alternative Police considers that the whole of the government must face up to this suffering and this ill-being in order to meet the strong expectation of the police.”

Back in April Castaner announced the opening of a “warning prevention” hotline based in the 12th arrondissement of Paris, designed to prevent police suicides, and said that suicides in the police were not a “fatality” and that it was necessary “break the silence”. It is headed by a police officer, a member of the Inspectorate General of the Administration, and a psychiatry professor. However, it doesn’t appear that this hotline is making much of a difference.

On June 21st the politician Eric Ciotti criticised Christophe Castaner for not having settled the issue of overtime owed to the police, which he estimates to be at €300m. The Interior Minister retorted sharply by saying “No, I do not owe anything to them”.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, Christophe Castaner, who, like his colleagues, is also embroiled in scandal after scandal, actually awarded police officers that are involved in open police violence inquiries launched by wounded Yellow Vests. On June 16th he awarded at least 5 officers who are suspected of violating the law: Rabah Souchi, who led the police charge that caused the injuries sustained by Geneviève Legay, and Bruno Félix, who commanded the police who killed the peaceful resident Zineb Redouane in Marseille during a Yellow Vests protest, are two examples.

In reality I have only skimmed the surface of the police problem in France, but the main takeaway from this article should be the fact that there is a police suicide epidemic happening in the country. And in order to emphasise this point, I have consulted as many law enforcement unions as possible concerning information about the 66 (at the time of writing) suicides so far in 2019 and created the table below. Imagining what the data will look like by December 31st sends a shiver down my spine…

No. Date (2019) Region Department Name/initials and/or age (if known) Media report (if available)
1 January 1st La Rochelle Police Nationale J.B. charentelibre
2 January 2nd Cherbourg Police Nationale lamanchelibre
3 January 4th Reims Police Nationale actu17
4 January 7th La Rochelle Police Nationale L.M. charentelibre
5 January 15th Paris Police Nationale Jordan R. actu17
voltage
6 January 16th Saint Omer Police Nationale Stan, 42 actu17
7 January 16th Paris Police Nationale Julien actu17
8 January 17th Paris Police Nationale
9 January 20th Bédenac Surveillant pénitentiaire lefigaro
10 January 24th Le Mans Police Nationale actu17
11 January 27th Not disclosed Police Nationale
12 January 27th Not disclosed Police Nationale
13 February 14th Martinique Police Nationale actupenit
14 February 18th Louvigné/Laval Police Nationale francesoir
ouest-france
15 February 19th Grand-Quevilly Police Nationale Sebastien profession-gendarme
16 February 26th Montpellier Police Ferroviaire
17 March 4th Elancourt Police Nationale Mickaël leparisien
18 March 5th Dunkerque Police Nationale
19 March 5th Limoges Police Nationale ladepeche
20 March 7th Saint Saëns Police Nationale francesoir
21 March 9th Selles sur Cher Gendarmerie Nationale Romain, 32 actu17
22 March 13th Roissy en France Vigipirate 24 lavoixdunord
23 March 15th Limay Police Nationale Sébastien leparisien
24 March 19th Paris Police Nationale europe1
25 March 28th Bailleval Police Nationale francetvinfo
26 April 1st Paris Police Nationale
27 April 2nd Toulouse Surveillant Pénitentiaire centpourcent
28 April 2nd Marlieux Police Nationale Jean-François B. francetvinfo
29 April 6th Avignon Police Municipale midilibre
30 April 7th Conflans Police Nationale leparisien
31 April 7th Alès Police Nationale Christophe ladepeche
32 April 9th Orsay Gendarmerie Nationale Willy actu17
33 April 14th Paris Police Nationale leparisien
34 April 16th Metz Police Nationale Damien LCI
35 April 16th Bèziers Police Municipale francetvinfo
36 April 18th Montpellier Police Nationale Elisabeth G. francetvinfo
37 April 18th Paris Police Nationale 25 leparisien
38 April 24th Paray le Monial Police Municipale Jean-Christophe actu17
39 April 28th Gap Vigipirate rtl
40 April 30th La réunion Gendarmerie Nationale Ludovic D. lepoint
41 May 5th Cholet Police Municipale Eric francetvinfo
42 May 6th Aunay sur Odon Gendarmerie Nationale actu
43 May 11th Orange Police Municipale ledauphine
44 May 13th Briançon Gendarmerie Nationale Quentin lessor
45 May 17th Lons le Saunier Gendarmerie Nationale francetvinfo
46 May 22nd Lille Police Nationale Mickaël actupenit
47 May 24th Nice Police Municipale
48 May 25th Chessy Police Nationale Baptiste leparisien
actu17
49 May 31st Not disclosed Police Nationale Pascal B. actu17
50 June 2nd Fougères Gendarmerie Nationale Jean F. francesoir
51 June 13th Paris Police Nationale Benoit actu17
52 June 14th Fos sur mer Police Municipale Mickaël, 29 Syndicat de Défense des Policiers Municipaux
53 June 20th Paris Police Nationale Jean-Louis B. actu17
54 June 21st Toulouse Police Nationale nouvelobs
20minutes
55 June 25th Nimes Gendarmerie Nationale RT France
56 June 28th Bruay la Buissière Police Nationale Eric P.
57 June 29th Marseille Police Nationale Gérard B., 50 FranceInfo
laprovence
58 July 5th Bordeaux Police Nationale Caroline, 44 francebleu
59 July 8th Annecy Police Nationale ledauphine
60 July 12th Castelnau de Médoc Gendarmerie Nationale francebleu
61 July 14th Not disclosed Vigipirate
62 July 16th Douai Police Nationale Jean-Marc, 49
63 July 22nd Béthune Police Nationale Eric T. lavoixdunord
64 July 22nd Nimes Police Nationale Jamal Z.
65 July 23rd Isère Police Nationale Frédéric L., 49 acti17
66 July 24th Cergy Police Nationale S. actu17

 

 

Appeal for help by Ollie Richardson and the Saker (IMPORTANT!)

Appeal for help by Ollie Richardson and the Saker (IMPORTANT!)

July 23, 2019

Dear friends,

As you may be aware, during the first half of this year I have been reporting on the “Yellow Vests” movement in France whilst being in the center of it. Since February 2019 (after I watched in horror on a live feed as a Yellow Vest’s hand was blown off by a grenade the week prior) I have travelled into central Paris every Saturday and observed for myself the now well-known protests against the current French government.

I’ve taken photos and recorded videos for the purpose of disseminating them on social media, hoping to counter the biased reports published by the mainstream media. In late March I decided to start writing articles on this subject (published on The Saker) and up the ante. We are now in the summer, and I have produced many articles about the “Yellow Vests” that were the result of taking some serious risks (I’ve already been hit by a detonating grenade and almost detained on May 1st because I, in my black Donetsk People’s Republic t-shirt and black trousers, apparently resembled a Black Bloc member) and walking/running kilometre after kilometre in order to keep up with the pace of events. In order to understand what is actually happening I have had to acquaint myself with the different aspects of the movement and acquire the trust of the “Yellow Vests”.

In the video below you can see me at Place de la Republique in April (in the same DPR t-shirt; you can see a bandage on my arm from the aforementioned grenade incident) about to leave the protest, when a bleeding Yellow Vest is plonked in front of me. I witnessed the sequence of events, and the police indeed violated human rights by bludgeoning a peaceful person who posed no threat and just wanted to leave the Square.

Sadly, this is nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to the “Yellow Vests” movement. The systematic use of police violence in order to intimidate and silence those who oppose Macron’s policies is unacceptable and factually criminal. But what is happening in France is much more than just Saturday demonstrations. Macron’s government barely has the time to sweep one scandal under the carpet before another one erupts. And the reporting on these scandals in the Anglophone mainstream media has been either non-existent or frankly pitiful. For example, how many readers know about Steve from Nantes? Or Alexandre Benalla? Francois de Rugy’s lobster dinners? Radioactive leaks in the water supply? The backdoor privatisation of the airports? Zineb Redouane? The list is very long, and in some respects it makes “European” and “democratic” post-Maidan Ukraine blush. And yes, what is happening in France is directly connected to events in all theaters of military and informational operations. Every actions has a reaction.

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:IMG_20190713_112638.jpg
Me at a Yellow Vests protest on July 13th in Paris

In order to continue my work with the Yellow Vests (#GiletsJaunes) movement I am seriously in need of financial help. I have done what I can so far with very limited resources to provide the best coverage I can of what is happening in France without the habitual mainstream media bias that we are all accustomed to and fed up of. This entails a certain level of danger, but as the saying goes – no risk, no reward.

During the autumn/winter of 2019 I want to, as a minimum:

• create and run a dedicated Yellow Vests website/hub;

• translate and publish a mass of information about the main demand of the Yellow Vests – Citizens’ Initiative Referendum – in the hope of raising awareness about alternatives to conventional party politics;

• provide a live stream that is more raw than state-funded media’s;

• continue my series of articles entitled “Inside the Yellow Vests”;

• travel to other French cities and document what is happening there in relation to the movement.

It is simply a case of the more means I have, the more I can achieve. I am present on the terrain and have created a network of contacts. I’ve lived the movement from the very beginning, and want to ensure that it receives the fair coverage in the English language that it deserves.

I have created a Patreon page that has a more in-depth description of my project, and I ask those who have enjoyed my “Yellow Vests” work so far to consider donating what they can in order to help me not only continue my existing work, but also to expand it.

I appreciate the support of each and every person!

Ollie Richardson

——-

Note by the Saker:

Dear friends,
For many weeks now we have been getting superb analyses by Ollie Richardson and equally superb translations of key Russian texts into English made by Ollie Richardson and Angelina Siard.
Some of the best reporting anywhere on the Internet about the Yellow Vests movement was recently made by Ollie.
Check out this page in which he summarizes his immense work: https://www.patreon.com/yellowvests
Well, guess what?  Ollie and Angelina are not only awesome members of our community, but also real people who have to pay their bills ontime.
Friends – we need to help them.  Not only does their superb work deserve our gratitude, but we also want them to keep writing for us.
I therefore ask all those who can afford it to go to this page: https://www.patreon.com/yellowvests and become patrons of Ollie’s crucially important work.
Many thanks in advance,

‘This Yellow Vest carnage’ more ‘French exceptionalism’

 

July 23, 2019

by Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog (cross-posted with PressTV by permission)

‘This Yellow Vest carnage’ more ‘French exceptionalism’

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

At a recent demonstration against the recently fired, third-ranking French civil servant (the president of parliament), who had been caught enjoying jumbo lobster and 1,000-euro bottles of wine with his friends on the taxpayer’s centime, I chatted with a former political prisoner.

It may surprise some that he was a Westerner. The West is, of course, exceptional: everyone else has political prisoners, but there isn’t a single one in the free, free West.

He had just spent four months in prison for protesting with the Yellow Vests. In a story which appears trite but which I believed – given the fact that testimony by police cannot be questioned in France’s judicial system – he said that it was the protester next to him who had thrown something at the cops and not him. There was no falsehood in the intense bitterness with which he said, “Four months in prison – I wish that I actually had thrown it!”

He showed me the many scars and permanent knots on his wrists and forearms – defensive wounds caused by protecting himself from fiercely-armed, well-protected and ruthless riot police. I praised his sacrifice for the common good, but I did not tell him that this was exceptional: in the past eight months I had heard many similar stories. Just last weekend I saw children getting tear gassed, and yet another woman shot in the eye with a rubber bullet.

This is carnage, pure and simple, and it happens all around France every Saturday starting around 11 am.

The biggest complaint of the Yellow Vests these days may not be against the French model of government, but towards a Western Mainstream Media which acts as if such carnage doesn’t exist.

If the world believed that the French system of governance was exceptional, then the repression of the Yellow Vest movement should forever silence that false claim. It has been eight months: their media system obviously cannot report on domestic political repression, and their political system can obviously perpetuate domestic repression with an impunity unparalleled in the world. In no other country has such regular, political repression occurred this century.

This ability to inflict such record-breaking repression while talking passionately about liberté – and being believed at home and abroad! – is the true “French exceptionalism”, and it is nothing to boast about or emulate.

Western propaganda has shut down all criticism of French repression in favor of hysterical and one-sided coverage of the protests in Hong Kong. Another widespread belief among Westerners is that they are exceptional in that their systems don’t permit the creation of “propaganda”, whereas that is the only thing the journalists of most other nations can do, especially nations like Russia, Iran, Syria, etc.

One thing about exceptionalists is their certainty of its permanence: it seems that once one is exceptional, one can never stop being exceptional, no matter how immorally one acts. Exceptionalism, once bestowed by God, can never be subject to a Day of Judgment, apparently. It’s a, uh, “unique” view….

Undoubtedly, the necessarily corollary to exceptionalism’s assertion that “We are different” is rarely stated but extremely important in order to understand the exceptionalist’s mindset, and it is: “while all the rest of you idiots are all the same”.

Those in the developing world are told that there is an enormous difference between Belgians and the English, for example. Even though the former is merely a peninsula of the latter, what a mighty chasm separates the Danes and the Germans! Yet in France all Blacks are just that – Blacks – even though they hail from parts as varied as West Africa, Madagascar and the Caribbean. In the US all Latinos – whether from the southernmost tip of Tierra del Fuego or Boston – are painted with the same brush. Of course, in both countries Muslims are certainly all “Arabs”. This total nonsense illustrates an obsessive self-esteem which necessarily strains cooperation, diplomacy and true tolerance.

A difference between US and French claims for their own exceptionalism is that the US believes it is exceptional lock, stock and barrel, yet the French are more likely to claim their “cultural exceptionalism”.

It takes a bit of experience here to figure that out, but what they mean is that “White French culture” is exceptional: any influences from the nearby Muslim world, or anything their neo-imperial subjects might bring, or even the neighbouring Anglo-Saxon world – all are second-rate and somehow corruptive of an exceptionally wonderful culture which must never change.

What especially galls nations like Iran and many, many others regarding French exceptionalism are two things:

France claims to especially honor human rights… and yet how do we explain the the Yellow Vest repression? This was after we were told to believe that their bombs in Libya, their guns in the short-lived Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and their rapes in the Central African Republic are “humanitarian interventions”. We also were disgusted by the deification of the dangerous magazine Charlie Hebdo, which made millions by publishing Islamophobic pictures but never publish an anti-Jewish one.

It boggles to mind to think of the weight of the cognitive dissonance which France’s political and cultural elite must bear in their minds: they regularly imprison hundreds of protesters in the morning, and then in the afternoon talk about France being a beacon, champion and even the inventor of human rights.

It is simply intolerable to get lessons on human rights from a nation which so clearly violates them; it is intolerable because all nations must converse diplomatically, and yet France believes they can continually disrespects everyone else’s intelligence and get away with it.

Secondly, Iran is a nation which has been under hot and cold war for 40 years, therefore they have been truly living in wartime conditions, forced to have a true state of emergency in the past, and endure vast suffering caused by an illegal, homicidal blockade which aims to provoke either civil war or all-out war. France, however, suffers none of these hardships, and yet are more homicidal by multiple orders of magnitude.

How can Iran have such a very poor image and France such a positive image, given the former’s unjust handicaps and the latter’s lack of restraint, common decency and refusal to cooperate? Part of it is Iranophobic propaganda, and the other part is propaganda which champions the alleged legitimacy of “French exceptionalism”.

However, current anthropological scholarship is finally shedding their West-centric blinders to realise that France is not at all the “birthplace of human rights”: the conception of individual rights in today’s West was yet another resource stolen from the American Indians, namely the Iroquois Confederacy in the northeastern US. This fascinating subject, which academics simply must study,certainly seems logical – where was the conception of individual freedom in France’s long history of an absolute monarchy which was as absolute as anywhere in Europe? They obviously learned it from someone else, namely the Indians they came into contact with. To me, the Iroquois seemed to be about as freedom-loving as your average, ever-roaming Iranian nomad, but the point here is not to make exceptional claims about who invented human rights – the point is: the French did not invent them, as they claim.

It is inherent in countries which assert their exceptionalism – and perhaps in all Western Liberal Democracies – to deny shared authorship of the world’s many fine ideas and concepts, as they endlessly promote individualism and do not prize the communal, collective spirit.

I can report that those incredibly brave Yellow Vests who are still protesting – in the face of all the guaranteed state violence – repeatedly tell me what respect they have for Iran and its modern governmental system. They routinely tell me what shame they have in their own government. Indeed, the Yellow Vests are the new, courageous political vanguard of France. Unlike the French 1%’s support of aristocratic Western Liberal Democracy, Yellow Vests display French values which are in common with those around the world: solidarity, bravery, faith and self-sacrifice.

If the Yellow Vests could ever win political or cultural power they would certainly end the hypocrisy of “French exceptionalism”, which they correctly see as an unwanted yoke which only perpetuates France’s ongoing domestic repression.

The French have a fine saying: “One time does not make a custom.”

However, eight months does. The Yellow Vests obviously cannot be distracted with the false pride of “French exceptionalism” – they are busy defending themselves from the carnage such arrogance inevitably provokes.

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

July 17, 2019

by Ollie Richardson for The Saker Blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:arton16274.jpg

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


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

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

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

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

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

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:66625786_10219774781062113_3796085872244293632_o.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:facebook-mary-on-8f220c-0@1x.jpeg

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

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

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

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:1236020-capture-d-ecran-2019-07-15-a-180301.png

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:1235870-capture-d-ecran-2019-07-15-a-091913.png

One Yellow Vest named Marion told the Liberation agency:

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

The final paragraph is very telling:

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

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

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:entrepot-b5d237-0@1x.jpeg

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

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

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:66832670_1998721246900149_1161220794466959360_n.jpg

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

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:85a104fd0e7906c6226b21ea879c3ec1.jpeg

Paris July 1789 

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

July 15, 2019

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

China’s Economic Record Vs US

By professor Richard Wolf

“For most of the last 20 years the rate of growth in China has been 2, 3 or 4 times that of the Unitedd States”

“In the United States real wages (The average wage of the U.S. worker) has stagnated. It has gone nowhere. In 1973 the average wage of an American, was able to buy more thing than it was in 2018. The real wage in the United States is less today than it was then.” – In the last 40 to 45 years American real income wages, their real wages have not gone up. The real hourly wage in the united states is lower today than it was in 1973.

Posted July 08, 2019

Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst where he taught economics from 1973 to 2008. He is currently a Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University, New York City.

Earlier he taught economics at Yale University (1967-1969) and at the City College of the City University of New York (1969-1973). In 1994, he was a Visiting Professor of Economics at the University of Paris (France), I (Sorbonne). Wolff was also regular lecturer at the Brecht Forum in New York City.

Do you agree or disagree? Post your comment here==See Also==

Note To ICH Community

We ask that you assist us in dissemination of the article published by ICH to your social media accounts and post links to the article from other websites.

Thank you for your support.

Peace and joy

 

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

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

Via The Saker

July 07, 2019

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:66468998_362790124431871_5254620172844531712_n.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:66463717_2395563204007838_8307657109240020992_n.jpg

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:66468998_362790124431871_5254620172844531712_n.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

Here is a summary of his testimony video:

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:Screenshots:Screenshot 2019-07-07 at 18.15.24.png
Example A-2 (look at the guy on the left in the blue hat)

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:Screenshots:Screenshot 2019-07-07 at 18.14.33.png

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

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

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:Screenshots:Screenshot 2019-07-07 at 18.21.44.png

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:wt49494_created.png

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

June 28, 2019

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Ollie Richardson for The Saker Blog

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Desktop:Untitled.png


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.

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:promo367939513.jpeg

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.

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:RIC-20190422.jpg

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”).

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:50976898_409353456475964_5281653375610388480_o.jpg

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.

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:60584313_2089943551306319_1221102177695563776_o.jpg

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:

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:Screenshots:Screenshot 2019-05-26 at 17.05.28.png

“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.

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:60568976_1521820744621891_4565629963125915648_n.jpg

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:60728795_1521820747955224_4333649201691885568_n.jpg
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:

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:Screenshots:Screenshot 2019-05-27 at 11.29.24.png

“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:

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:61023342_2080474208742238_5141263938519826432_n.jpg

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

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:58641570_10218223857009240_4880139882657218560_n.jpg

And here is a makeshift village created at Vienne:

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:55927883_993114417564933_2561181872977608704_o.jpg

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

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:55927883_993114417564933_2561181872977608704_o.jpg

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

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:57456914_2424119637620435_5721989013527592960_n.png

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:661_magic-article-actu_15b_ef3_05027360eeb50060764129132c_saint-etienne-une-cabane-de-gilets-jaunes-incendiee-ses-occupants-auraient-ete-asperges-de-produit-inflammable_15bef305027360eeb50060764129132c.jpg

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:58375569_467351904002294_6575850712658345984_n.jpg

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

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:47319725_574972522956567_6846628785555505152_o.jpg
Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:49750941_322359128611200_8213640064677183488_o.jpg

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

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:7959285_c7bfa9a8-f659-11e8-8c9c-db186668b4ee-1_1000x625.jpg

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:direct-50-000-gilets-jaunes-sont-mobilises-dans-toute-la-france-annonce-le-ministre-de-l-interieur.jpg
Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:870x489_gilets_jaunes_peage_puret_2_rc.jpg

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:

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:Screenshots:Screenshot 2019-05-27 at 11.03.16.png

“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?

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:Screenshots:Screenshot 2019-05-27 at 12.09.17.png

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.

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:Screenshots:Screenshot 2019-05-27 at 12.12.33.png

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)

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:60928932_2023733067936259_2307597305785614336_n.jpg

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.

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:IMG_20190420_120046 (1).jpg

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

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

Related

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

May 23, 2019

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

 

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

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

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

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

That is the essence of China’s Cultural Revolution.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Cultural Revolution lessons for modern schools

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Yellow Vest CR must include major educational reform:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And yet they do admit this….

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

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

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

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

Series Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 05, 2019

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What went down at the hospital

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stupid….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All in all – not a bad day

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

%d bloggers like this: