FRANCE: Yellow Vests Going Strong

By Ed Dalton

On January 5, more than 50,000 protesters again took to the streets against the imperialist French government of President Emanuel Macron. This rebellion of the masses grasps the  utter necessity of combat against police as protests continue all over France, strongest in the working class neighborhoods of Paris.

The fury of the French masses is targeted and unleashed on government buildings, large corporations, police headquarters and other symbolic institutions of capitalist decadence and decay.

While it is still too early to take stock of the movement which has steadily broadened and deepened among the masses, a few observations have become clear. What started on November 14, 2018 against rising fuel prices with most of the participation coming from the petty bourgeois has spread like wildfire among the most hardened of the French proletariat.

Many observers inside and outside of France were confused at first about the politics of the movement as there was evidence of far right participation. Revolutionaries of the Maoist Communist Party (PCM) held the leftmost position and insisted that revolutionaries must assert the correctness of rebellion and stand  with the masses. In so doing, they organized the ouster of fascists from the movement.

“The bourgeois thought they would be able to control the movement of the Yellow Vests at the beginning,” a PCM statement reads, translated from French. “They thought it harmless because they thought it could be reduced to the question of taxes. But the pot has boiled over and all the issues related to the cost of living and social justice began to be borne by the masses.”

“Our class, the proletarians, refused to go home when the little bosses got some concessions and withdrew,” the statement continues. “We occupied roundabouts, tolls, warehouses, and public buildings. We became friends in the resistance and chose to spend the holidays with our new family. Neither the lies of the media nor the violence of the cops and justice have discouraged us, and we will continue our offensive leading up to a larger gathering on Saturday.”

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Being revolutionaries, the PCM has expressed that the fundamental questions of this movement are not limited to reforms, fuel prices, social security, or human rights. The fundamental question is one of political power, and which class wields it. They make the role of Communists in the mass movement clear. Leadership must be earned and provided in struggle, elevating the class consciousness of the masses.

“The current situation must be the first step towards a proletarian offensive of great magnitude,” the statement read, “and in time able not only to overcome repressive obstacles, but to see further down a coherent political path, sticking to the aspirations of the people.”

Solidarity actions have also been carried out by Maoists in Germany. Dozens of walls have been painted with revolutionary graffiti, and in one case burning tires were placed in a blockade in front of the entrance to the French embassy.

While the revolutionary militants and Communists entrench themselves among the working class, the French government prepares its wave of reaction.

On January 7, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe stated that he would present a proposal to parliament seeking to ban all protests and demonstrations that were not previously authorized by the government. This will do nothing to stop the surging anger of the French masses or prevent the PCM, their vanguard, from making revolutionary gains of the situation.

In the desperation of the reactionary French state, Philippe’s proposal would also include creating a database to register all “agitators” and remove them from demonstrations. The Reaction always seeks to remove the militants from the masses and destroy leadership over revolutionary movements.

On top of new lists and official bans on demonstrations, police repression and the white terror of the French state is certain to increase. As surely as we can expect more white terror, we can expect mass resistance and the leadership of Communists to come to the fore.

Incendiary extends its utmost solidarity to our comrades in the PCM, who have a long road of struggle ahead and have risen remarkably to the task.