Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog
As the journalist – in English or French – who has covered more Yellow Vest demonstrations than any other, I thought it was my responsibility to give them something I can’t find anywhere: an objective, accurate and complete history. I am publishing here, in a chapter-by-chapter serialised format, my new book – France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values.
Soon after starting this project I quickly realised: France doesn’t need an accurate rendering of the massive repression of progressive politics which began on November 17, 2018 – they need an accurate rendering of the massive repression of progressive politics which began in 1789. If they lied and misrepresented the Yellow Vests in 2018, wouldn’t they have also done the same in 1936, 1871, 1848, 1789 and in between?
Russia’s Vladimir Putin has just called the West an “empire of lies” – this book is an effort to dismantle those lies as regards to France from 1789 through the Yellow Vests. My previous books have dispelled the lies about modern China and modern Iran – after 13 years in France, I think I can do the same for the good people of France. Check out the chapter list below – this is new and interesting stuff that will reshape your perceptions of the entire West. Send Putin a copy.
Look below to pre-order a copy in e-book and paperback form. The book will be available in French as well. The publication date is June 1.
I’m publishing here for free because – of course – relating the true ideas and experiences of the Yellow Vests is what is most important. But leftist journalism doesn’t pay at all, and we have bills, too. If you like it, please support it with a purchase if you have the ability. It’s cheaper during this pre-order period. Something to keep in mind: Most public libraries want donations but their absolute priority is new books – wouldn’t this book be a great donation or gift? You know it’s an empire of lies regarding French history since 1789, but do others?
This is going to be the most comprehensive book on the Yellow Vests you can find, and from the journalist who knows them best; who got gassed and harassed right alongside them; who wore out shoes on their weekly, 15km+ races across Paris chased by riot police. This will also be the book with the most space devoted to the actual words of the Yellow Vests, as I’ll soon explain.
France has a historic vote coming up next month, and I thought this book would talk much about that vote but then I realised: How much more vital and interesting is a Yellow Vest-fuelled rethinking of two centuries of French and global politics than one election featuring not one but four far-right candidates? Even the French have been tuning out this election in record numbers. I will have to write some columns on the election, but the 2022 vote deserves only the final coda in this book. Please enjoy this series as you also follow France’s upcoming election, and I promise you will have a totally different view of France when it is all finished.
Right in 1789, right in 2019 – why don’t Western historians admit France keeps being right?
When it comes to reading Western commentary on French political history from 1789 into the 21st century what always baffles me is: they are so terribly critical of France and its revolutionaries, even though by the 1970s much of what they fought for would be absolutely insisted upon by the average European. I think the Yellow Vests will continue this trend of being ahead of the curve.
The book is divided into two broad sections: the first is French history from 1789-2018, and the second is an analysis of who, how, why and what the Yellow Vests are for.
What’s certain is that it’s a necessary book: The English-language books on the Yellow Vests (less than a handful) are analyses from overseas and not worth mentioning. The leading French-language books on the Yellow Vests were seemingly all published by spring 2019: they give the whys but not the actual history of the Yellow Vest movement, which this book will; they were published too soon to grasp the depth of their victories, as this book does; they include a fraction of actual Yellow Vest words, crucially.
This book is not detached analysis: I have interviewed hundreds of Yellow Vests in my work for Iran’s PressTV and their quotations will be interspersed throughout every chapter – you’ll see how long-running the fight for progressive politics truly is.
I can promise you that the first part of this book is not some boring leftist genuflecting at the 1794 glories of Robespierre, Danton and Marat – they are not analysed at all. Simply scroll down to the bottom and look at the chapter list – I think you’ll see chapters with analyses that have hardly ever, or never, been broached. “The Paris Commune as the birth of the ‘neoliberal empire’ of the European Union, really? Napoleon was actually a true leftist, is that right? Reclaiming Trotsky’s analysis of turbulent 1930s France from the Trotskyists – well, they are usually wrong these days. I guess the English really do declare war on everyone else’s revolution….” Etc.
As an immigrant journalist to France I have been forced to try and make sense of French history from 1789 until today. In the same way that historians like to sum up centuries of history from the Achaemenid or Safavid eras in Iran – it can be done, after all – I’m looking for patterns and threads, and I think the Yellow Vest phenomenon has either capped or sparked an absolutely major part of French history.
I have covered France for 13 years, but it’s a special 13 years: This is the era when the recently born “neoliberal empire” – the European Union – made its Age of Austerity power plays to become entrenched and obeyed. These are not spur of the moment creations – the European Union, and also the eurozone, are institutions which are centuries in the making. They might last centuries, but only upon the broken bones of the truly once-in-a-century, undemocratic repression of the Yellow Vests.
The Yellow Vests provide us with a new mountain ledge in history – thanks to them the patterns and threads from 1936, 1871, 1848 and 1789 become much clearer. Thanks to the Yellow Vests we can better grasp what today’s establishment institutions truly want; we have been reminded of the episodes of bloody repression from times incorrectly thought to be bygone. Thus, by incorporating the Yellow Vest experience we can give a more “scientific” historical analysis of French history and – because of France’s unusually prominent role in modern political thought – even global political history.
The second most important thread which emerges from 1789 to the Yellow Vests is this: The failure of Western Liberal Democracy as a system which can produce broad security for the average person and not just the elite. The Yellow Vests remind that, still, Western Liberal Democracy can only be imposed by force and without democracy – it is not chosen by popular mandate in a democratic “marketplace of ideas”.
In the 21st century I think it may take someone who is personally familiar with the evils of monarchy and shah-dom to realise that the French had it right long ago: Monarchy, and its ideological partners and inbred ideas, are not from some bygone era but are still in force today. Macron means autocracy. That is a fair and common judgment of his five-year tenure. Autocracy is still a problem, the Yellow Vests gorily remind us.
The Iranian Revolution, which in 2022 is still the great revolution of the contemporary era and which was waged against the “king of kings”, also reminds us that the shortest summation of the progressive goal of human political efforts is this: To move away from autocracy.
Autocracy – opposition to popular democracy of any sort – is the spring from which all political evil flows, and we saw it in the Yellow Vests, and in the method of governance from Brussels and Paris which provoked the Yellow Vests.
For the Englishmen who insist wizened Queen Elizabeth II could never hurt a fly, unfairly collude with a bank/landlord or covertly join in suppressing opposition to her royal brethren in Morocco, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere – they must also necessarily fail to see that the oligarchy produced by Western Liberal Democracy represents only the barest broadening of the spoils of autocracy. The Yellow Vest grasp this: the “rubber bullet liberalism” of Macron needs no prefix – liberalism has always been violence in support of government policies by and for a tiny elite instead of by and for the people.
This book combines understanding of politics today with an understanding of the autocrats who insist on the politics of yesterday
You know about the Yellow Vests, and thus you know what repression Western Liberal Democracy will wage to preserve itself, and you likely know what a “neoliberal empire” is. But, and forgive me if I am presumptuous, do you know how Western Liberal Democracy truly got here?
It’s not easy, because they don’t give an accurate accounting of their own history any more than they do for the Yellow Vests.
I am always amazed at how much the history of the 19th century in the US, France and UK is so very ignored by those countries when this era saw the very formation of the Western Liberal Democracies which their leaders champion so violently today? The reason for this is because this era is full of elitist nonsense, unpatriotic treasons, violence and ever-repeated repressions of the average person. Continuing ignorance about this has only produced an “empire of lies”. Abroad, these countries literally created the disparities which we now refer to as the “Third World”, but domestically they were just as awful to their very own people. This is, “… because class warfare” but also, and Karl Marx himself doesn’t stress this enough, “… because monarchy”, which is autocracy by and for elites; which is perfectly acceptable to Western Liberal “Democracy”.
Many peers of mine (and analysts who are far more learned and vital than myself) often talk about a “neo-feudal” model because, I believe, of the widespread misunderstanding of the actual history of Western Liberal Democracy, which began in 1789 and this fight against monarchy. But the failure to see Western Liberal Democracy also as international 1%er collusion against the masses implies the failure to see Western Liberal Democracy as autocratic, too.
Make that mistake and you misunderstand the political foundations of the modern world since 1789, and thus the class struggle, modern imperialism and today’s Bankocracy – which is to say the entire factual foundation for the sensible and successful choice of Socialist Democracy.
Make that mistake and you’ll ask: Why are the French told to have a conflicted and even negative view of Napoleon Bonaparte, even though he was the most influential figure of the 19th century? How can Adolphe Thiers treasonously and openly collude with Bismarck and still be a president and a Western Liberal Democratic hero? Why do 21st century Westerners call people “neo-nazis” even when such people have zero socialism in their platforms and seemingly no familiarity with the Marxist view of 19th century history? Why are they the “Revolutions of 1848” when they only succeeded in one place (France)? If the French Revolution is done and dusted then why is modern Western conservatism based around the ideas of Irish-Anglo Edmund Burke and his knee-jerk Reflections on Revolution in France from 1790? The first part of this book about the Yellow Vests answers these vitally important questions.
Burke, Karl Marx – the leading historian of the 19th century -, and Leon Trotsky – the leading historian of first decades of the 20th century: this book relies on them heavily to help us understand the 2020s. Why am I employing philosophical leaders from the far-right to the far-left? Because this is an interesting book you should buy and read, of course! Because the Yellow Vests are historic! Because, mostly, all three were aware that Western Liberal Democracy was a sham democracy and doomed to failure for everyone but a most unmeritorious elite. They thought these things for different reasons but, just like the Yellow Vests, they are all the most trenchant critics of Western Liberal Democracy.If the repression of the Yellow Vests doesn’t merit a new and serious criticism of Western Liberal Democratic history… then I guess one is avoiding such objective and honest talk until the aftermath of World War III?
So while I may be painted as a naive leftist, an Islamic Socialist, a communist, an apologist, a reactionary, a fake-journalist – I have heard all these things, LOL – we still need a cogent critique of modern French history which seeks to explain the lies on which an “empire of lies” shakily rests.
This book rests upon the voices of the Yellow Vests: I am simply the facilitator – the one who was on the daily hard-news job when it became clear what “neoliberalism” and “neo-imperialism” means for 21st century France, Europe and beyond.
I hope you enjoy the book and that you comment freely. It sure would be nice if you could buy a copy, but – please – only if your finances allow it.
Upcoming chapter list of the brand-new content in France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. The book will also include previous writings from 2018 through the 2022 election in order to provide the most complete historical record of the Yellow Vests anywhere. What value! Publication date: June 1, 2022.
Pre-orders of the paperback version will be available immediately.
Pre-orders of the Kindle version may be made here.
Pre-orders of the French paperback version will be available immediately.
Pre-orders of the French Kindle version may be made here.
Chapter List of the new content
- Introduction: A Yellow Vests’ history must rewrite both recent & past French history
- Burke’s endless reaction: 1789 & feudalism’s end creates modern conservatism
- Glorious Revolution of 1688: England declares ‘death to all other revolutions’
- Modern political history makes no sense if Napoleon is not a leftist revolutionary
- The Revolutions of 1848: Because Liberalism can’t say the ‘Counter-Revolutions of 1848’
- Louis-Napoleon: The revolutionary differences between Bonapartism & Western Liberal Democracy
- The Paris Commune: The true birth of neoliberalism and EU neo-imperialism
- Where the West is stuck: The fascism of the 1930s and the ‘fascism’ of the 2020s
- On ‘Leon Trotsky on France’ in order to reclaim Trotsky from Trotskyists
- The Yellow Vests’ childhood: Seeing French elites, only, swayed by neoliberalism
- No one here is actually in charge: How the EU empire forced the Yellow Vests
- The radicalisation by Europe’s ongoing Lost Decade: the Great Recession changes France
- To Yellow Vests he’s the radical: Macron and ‘Neither Right nor Left but the Bourgeois Bloc’
- Yellow Vests: At worst, the most important French movement for a century
- Who are they, really? Ask a reporter whose seen a million Yellow Vest faces
- Yellow Vest Win: Ending the West’s slandering of all popular movements as far-right xenophobes
- Yellow Vest Win: The end of Western anarcho-syndicalism & unions as leftism’s hereditary kings
- Yellow Vest Win: The end of Western parliamentarianism as the most progressive government
- Yellow Vest Win: Reminding us of the link between fascist violence & Western democracy
- What the Yellow Vests can be: a group which can protect liberalism’s rights, at least
- The 2022 vote: The approach needed for ‘Before’- what came ‘After’ polls closed
Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.