France in revolt

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Patrice Greanville

Demonstrators in Paris. (TGP screenshot)

Despite the absence of genuine revolutionary forces capable of providing honest and reliable leadership, France is apparently stumbling toward a pre-revolutionary juncture, as the videos on this page seem to suggest. It's undeniable that not just France, but all of Western Europe is being increasingly shaken, rendered profoundly unstable, by the same disease afflicting the rest of the continent, along with much of what its numerous apologists insist on calling "the West", a devious way of referring to Western imperialism, a decadent, out-of-touch, war-addicted, and ultimately unfixable, form of financialised neoliberalism.

Our readers are well aware that, in keeping with the West's well-known habit of ruling through many layers of deception, "neoliberalism" is just another label concocted by the mind managers to hide the true name of the system, capitalism, which over the years, due to its incurable rapacity, irrationality, and hefty record of criminality, has accumulated something of an embarrassingly long rap sheet. Capitalism, which its defenders insist on presenting as a natural order akin to human nature, carries the stench of stunning embedded inequality, making it inherently not democratic, so it has been cosmeticized before: "People's Capitalism," "the market system", "the free enterprise system", "the free market," "the private enterprise system", "the American Way", and so on, have been tried, some are still being used, but the search for the perfect imposture continues.  (Calling capitalism "the American Way of Life" is perhaps one of the most insidious and formidable accomplishments of the manipulators, worthy of its own separate article). (1)

The manipulators know that capitalism is an inherently sick system, riddled with a multitude of contradictions and social and political vices inexorably emanating (including its rotten and chaotic leadership) from its DNA. The biggest problem of course is capitalism's central contradiction, overproduction. This in turn compels the capitalist ruling elites to constantly push for expansion and the acquisition of new markets, which, in turn, creates new problems at home and abroad. In France, with no less than a quarter of the population now classifiable as of African/Arabic origin, said fact, amplified by the newest injection of refugees from the Middle East, whose gruesome destabilisation—notably in Syria and Libya— France actively aided as a proud but utterly corrupt member of the US-dominated NATO sub-imperial club, demonstrates that the wealth and power accumulated by the comprador elites bears a very high price for the populations in their indifferent care.

Given the above straitjacket, it's evident that neither the US nor its abject European satrapies, nor the outlying colonies in the Far East or the South Pacific, like Australia, Japan, South Korea, etc., can ultimately resolve and escape the current structural crisis. Certainly not while still using the capitalist playbook. And they certainly won't escape it and probably make it infinitely worse by trying to kneecap the Hegemon's officially "designated enemies", chiefly China, Russia and Iran, while refusing the only sensible path open to the US: abandoning its dream of global supremacy to rejoin the rest of humanity in a multipolar sisterhood of fully sovereign nations.

As far as the Western elites are concerned, such adjustments have to be made soon, or else a cataclysm may ensue. Time is short on every front—political, economic, ecological— and the proper and fair solutions are rather obvious. The people have had enough. Especially in the Global South, but now also across the "Golden Billion". As events in France, Czechoslovakia, and even Germany and Britain show, the signs are multiplying that the Empire is losing its grip over much of its captive populations. The people are done with the "neoliberal" model of governance and its repugnant hypocrisy and sociopathy. What's more, "Woke imperialism", the attempt to bury the class struggle through devious culture wars and identity politics, all symbol and no substance, is meeting with increasing rejection in many quarters, a fact that guarantees more instability in the years to come. People within and without "the West" are beginning to consciously reject the "rules-based international order" because it's a cynical and nakedly predatory self-serving racket. The imperial status quo is showing its cracks, and everywhere we look —except in the insulated salons of the rich—we can see that the people are exhausted but also quietly desperate and furious. Such fury is still not properly focused thanks to the system's powerful obfuscation tools, but sooner than we think it could be, and then surprising things will start to happen.

Over the last 500 years, amid awesome scientific discoveries and technological achievements that show what humanity can accomplish despite self-imposed chains, the West has given the world an inexcusable number of ghastly wars, brutal systematic exploitation, predation on a staggering global scale, and even cold-blooded genocides. It has done so because the old feudal elites with their outrageous class divisions managed to survive and absorb the bourgeois order, their worship of private property uniting them, to deliver today a planet in which in far too many places, behind a mask of democracy, the international oligarchy rules through a regime of de facto neofeudalism. Indeed, as noted earlier, in country after country of the Western alliance, we observe pathetic ruling cliques that care little for the well-being of their own populations, an attitude that guarantees political and economic anguish for the vast majority, with no prospect of relief in sight. Fake democracies that almost brag about their lack of representativeness are doomed to collapse.

Many people in France understand this, so the question now is whether Macron and his oligarch-controlled lieutenants will outmaneuver and intimidate the masses currently in motion, or whether the masses will finally see that piecemeal trade union reformism and spontaneous revolts—with their immense human cost— are impotent to cure what ails France at its core, and that only a determined push toward authentic socialism can put a stop to these recurring nightmares.

For the EU—owned by the US—the images of stubborn French protesters carry a dangerous symbolism. The French revolt may prove infectious. But rest assured that the US, along with the UK and NATO itself, not to mention French collabos, are watching this process closely, and probably preparing various scenarios to cope with the possible challenges.  Insurrection in Europe is the last thing that the Neocons want. Yet for the systemic reasons mentioned above, the unraveling is liable to continue. Gladio, anyone?

Social and media critic Patrice Greanville is the founding editor of The Greanville Post.

(1) For a discussion of this topic, see, by the author, American Brainwash: Guess what, Ma, capitalism is not Americanness! Also Understanding American Capitalism (Revised)

France protests in images
Bear in mind that most of these videos have been produced by capitalist channels, hence the coverage is frequently biased, subtly unsympathetic, and inherently limited in depth.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s government invoked a special provision called Article 49 Thursday to push through a controversial pensions overhaul. It is an act of defiance that escalates the leader’s standoff with protestors as trash continues to pile up in Paris after unions have held waves of strikes. WSJ’s Noemie Bisserbe reports from Paris about what’s driving the opposition to hold protests over changes in retirement requirements and what’s at stake for the future of France’s government and pension system.

After weeks of targeted strikes, French President Emmanuel Macron refuses to change course on his plans to reform the country’s beloved pension system. Last week, unions across France upped the ante and launched an indefinite strike to force his hand. So far, after weeks of targeted strikes by workers opposing President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to raise the national retirement age and reform the country’s beloved pension system, the French government has refused to change course. That is why unions across different industries raised the ante last week, launching an indefinite strike until workers’ demands are met. As Eric Challal of the Solidaires Unitaires Démocratiques (SUD) Railway Union put it, “We have no choice, we must make Macron back down, make the employers back down. There is no lack of money in this society… Wages are too low, prices are exploding, the high cost of living, the threat of war… We have this opportunity to fight, all the workers together.” TRNN contributor and video journalist Brandon Jourdan reports from the streets of Paris on the latest escalation of strike actions in France. This video is part of a special Workers of the World series on the cost of living crisis in Europe.


Protests in Paris after French government adopts pension reforms without vote.


On January 31st, France saw widespread strikes as workers across the country took to the streets to protest against the government's proposed pension reforms.

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As Sabby points out in her video, it’s not just about ‘Pension Deform [my term]’, but also about the war and about NATO. The actual Macron agenda: Crush the working class in order to pay for more imperialism.


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