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).
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 8th arrondissement, 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”.
She is asked 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:
“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”.
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.
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.