What the news media don’t mention about the Yellow Vests.

Summary: The “yellow vests” protests in France are another momentous event in a continent that has had many of them in recent years. The analysis of it in the news is superficial. Here are important things that they ignore.

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ID 88758837 © Michael Kuelbel | Dreamstime.

The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, also called the Great Rising, was the largest medieval uprising in England. It had a leader, Wat Tyler, but no organization or goals. On 15 June 1381, Tyler and his forces met with King Richard near London. Tyler spoke with the King and gave his demands. The King thanked Tyler for sharing, and ordered him killed.

Peasant’s protests are difficult to cope with, no matter how futile they usually prove to be. Although their odds of overthrowing the government are microscopic, they sometimes (rarely) seriously damage its legitimacy – sometimes (very rarely) for the long-term (as the May 1968 protests did in France).

Even if futile, these protests often do considerable physical damage to cities. People’s protests are just mobs in motion. Venting their frustrations, dreaming peasants’ dreams of a better future, without organization or rational goals. Whatever their original intentions, they tend to become more violent over time. Giving in to their first demands is like dousing a fire with kerosene. It only provokes more demands.

Indications of weakness provokes more aggression and more violence. It puts a leader, such as President Emmanuel Macron of France, in a bad spot. He has nobody to negotiate with. He can ask the mob for leaders, but he has no certainty that those that step forward can bind the mobs (there are always more than one) to an agreement.

Now for the bad news. The mob has many dreams, many goals. But there is one objective that will satiate the mob, for a moment at least: bringing down Macron. Of course, that will make the mob hungrier.

The usual solution

“What madness! How could they allow that rabble to enter? Why do they not sweep away four or five hundred of them with the cannon? The rest would take themselves off very quickly.”
— Napoleon’s reaction to sight of a French mob massacring Swiss Guards at the Tuileries Palace in Paris on 10 August 1792. On 5 October 1795 he proved his theory, dispersing a French mob with “a whiff of grapeshot” (in the words of Thomas Carlyle).

The Occupy camps were as well-behaved as mobs can be, with a modicum of organization. The US governments could have waited for winter to break up them up. But a show of force often provides a more decisive solution. On the evening of November 14, coordinated raids were made on Occupy camps across America – and the world (Wikipedia). The Occupy Movement was over.

Force breaks up protest movements, atomizing them into fleeing individuals. Almost always. Except in those rare cases where it forges a mob into a cohesive group, with goals (usually big ones) and leaders. It is a gamble that government leaders are willing to take when mobs threaten to end their careers. Macron may be rolling those dice. Reuters reports that the French government fears major rioting this weekend, and plans a major mobilization to fight: 89 thousand members of the security services (including “about 10 armored vehicles belonging to the gendarmerie”).

The “yellow vests” movement comes when Europe is under tremendous strain. Britain is leaving the EU. Other nations, such as Italy and Poland, are in near-rebellion. The flood of immigrants is producing fantastic stresses on the societies across Europe. Now one of Europe’s largest nations has street protests backed by a large majority of its people. The bolts are coming out from Europe’s social machinery.

This could get interesting for France’s leaders. Survival is always interesting.

Other posts about the Yellow Vest protests

  1. The “yellow vest” protests in France: peasants playing.
  2. What the news media don’t mention about the Yellow Vests.
  3. Why the French protest.
  4. Hear the voice of the Right in France. The Yellow Vests do.

For More Information

Ideas! For shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about protests, and especially these …

  1. Important: How to stage effective protests in the 21st century.
  2. Politics of the EU: “Vanity and Venality” – by Susan Watkins (editor of the New Left Review).
  3. Warning of the “Strange Death of Europe.”
  4. Strange perspectives on the challenges facing Europe.
  5. Migrants’ protests begin, pushing France into a new society.
  6. Europe is too tired to fight, perhaps too tired to live.
  7. A status report as Germany erases itself.
  8. The “yellow vest” protests in France: peasants playing.

25 thoughts on “What the news media don’t mention about the Yellow Vests.

  1. It is clear that the “Yellow Vest” protests in France that are scheduled for “ACT-IV” this weekend were planned for quite some time and is clearly on the cards as part of the Illuminati’s plans for bringing in the New World Order.

    The Hermit Card on the Economist Magazine with title: The World in 2017, clearly depicts these demonstrations in “yellow vests” and associates December 1st -2nd 2018 with it in the celestial alignment shown on the card.

    The “Tax Reform” card in the Illuminati Card Game also points to all of this starting in France – being associated with a Guillotine.

    Also, Albert Pike’s letter to Mazzini, regarding the plans for bringing about three world wars would seem to be pointing to what could be expected during this coming weekend’s protests:

    Here is a section from the letter:

    “…Meanwhile the other nations, once more divided on this issue will be constrained to fight to the point of complete physical, moral, spiritual and economical exhaustion…

    We shall unleash the Nihilists and the atheists, and we shall provoke a formidable social cataclysm which in all its horror will show clearly to the nations the effect of absolute atheism, origin of savagery and of the most bloody turmoil.

    Then everywhere, the citizens, obliged to defend themselves against the world minority of revolutionaries, will exterminate those destroyers of civilization,..”

    Here is an article with a video that will provide more information:

    http://tiny.cc/w2vc1y

  2. Larry,

    Great article. History in the making and hoping for a peaceful settlement. I would only be guessing but I doubt Macron makes it to the next election.

    1. Instead of guessing, I too would like to state my (naive) hope:
      Maybe this weekend the Yellow Vests would show that they can, themselves, restrain any violent factions and have a peaceful celebration of their (however partial) victory. That would bring a real tremor to President’s knees, IMHO.

  3. So the recommendation is for Macron to learn from Napoleon and his ‘whiff of grapeshot’.
    Big price to pay for his virtue signaling on CO2 emissions by raising fuel taxes.

    1. etudiant,

      “So the recommendation is for Macron to learn from Napoleon and his ‘whiff of grapeshot’.”

      The post says nothing remotely like that. To report what history says is not to endorse it.

      Also, I’m not a fan of affixing a moral label to everything I report. That is an increasingly common and imo child-like behavior. I doubt that many readers thirst for my moral judgements. I do it occasionally for strategic reasons, per the FM website’s stated goal.

  4. “It is pleasant, when the sea is high and the winds are dashing the waves about, to watch from the shores the struggles of another.” Livy.

    Always interesting, as well.

  5. It’ll be interesting to see if the police will follow orders to use force. I don’t see much about what police officers think, but at least one union was calling for a strike of police administrative services, specifically to limit the coordination capacity of riot police.

    Larry, a quote from a yellow jacket protester you may appreciate (from the BBC): “Emmanuel Macron didn’t want to listen to us?” she says. “We’re proving to him that we are not puppets swallowed under an avalanche of taxes, but citizens.” At least they aim to be citizens.

    1. JP,

      The police didn’t have a problem using force last week. 89,000 strong/8000 to Paris this Saturday. I don’t see Macron losing his army.

    2. Yes, the call is for a strike of the police coordination services, not the police itself. It could create a major nuisance for the police even if they’re determined, and public servant unions are strong enough to push it through. But we’ll see what happens soon enough.

  6. Most people’s revolt’s do fail, but the odds of overthrowing the government, although not high, are hardly microscopic. Mobs cost three French kings their thrones in 1789, 1830, and 1848 and cost a Tsar his throne in February 1917.

    Macron will very likely survive. But it will be interesting.

    1. Mike,

      “Mobs cost three French kings their thrones in 1789, 1830, and 1848”

      That’s quite false. Mobs were tools – and probably still are – of revolutionaries. But that does not mean they are the key factor. That is like confusing bullets with soldiers.

      The 1789 revolution was not a “mob”, although that’s what its opponents said. It was an organized revolt with strong leadership, centered on the National Assembly (see Wikipedia).

      The 1830 revolution was sparked by an alliance of Paris newspapers, and later led by a committee including banker Jacques Laffitte, banker Casimir Perier (politican and owner of the giant Anzin Coal company the Perier Frères bank, and other companies), Generals Étienne Gérard and Georges Mouton (comte de Lobau) – and other major names.

      Ditto the Revolution of 1848. It had strong albeit factional leadership in the legislature, and was preceded by political organization (e.g., at the banquets) and by societies (e.g., the Aide-toi, le ciel t’aidera). The revolution was supported by the National Guard (which was a largely middle class force led up the upper class). This is why it so quickly resulted in the Second Republic, which consisted of many of France’s elites.

  7. The key development in Europe in the coming months is going to be something quite different. The yellow jackets may be the froth on it. This will be the rise of right populism. Wait for the elections to the European Parliament. Le Pen is currently the front runner in the French election.

    The event to watch for is when the Euro Parliament declares unilaterally that its had enough, its an elected body, and its no longer commuting between Brussels and Strasbourg every couple of weeks.

    When that happens, fasten your seatbelts.

    1. henrik,

      “The yellow jackets may be the froth on it. This will be the rise of right populism.”

      I disagree. These are both manifestations of the same public dissatisfaction with their current leadership.

      If this rot continues, the next – and far more serious stage – will be dissatisfaction with their current political regime.

  8. Interesting as always and you have a perspective that most of the current commentators do not. Thanks for the post.

    I think that the people confidently predicting that Le Pen will be the beneficiary of whatever happens here may be making the “what happened last time will happen again” assumption once more. I wonder if those priors will get updated from “the Trump Train has no brakes” at any point; maybe during Beto’s second term…

    1. SF,

      I don’t know much about French politics, and wouldn’t presume to predict the beneficiaries of the Yellow Vests. I’ll bet that is also true of most Americans doing so in the news (there are a few actual experts consulted, and they tend to give uncertain answers – which is why they are seldom featured).

      I recommend reading this: “Two Roads for the New French Right” by Mark Lilla in the New York Review of Books, 20 December 2018 issue.

  9. Larry,

    “I recommend reading this: “Two Roads for the New French Right” by Mark Lilla in the New York Review of Books, 20 December 2018 issue.”

    So it’s a Conservative uprising (like Trump winning the election) that has spread to Europe. Marine Le Pen will emerge and win the next election if Macron can hold on. Yes?

    1. Ron,

      “So it’s a Conservative uprising”

      Mark is saying pretty much the exact opposite, looking at how “conservatives” might be changing over time in Europe. The article says nothing about short-term politics.

  10. Larry,
    “Mark is saying pretty much the exact opposite, looking at how “conservatives” might be changing over time in Europe. The article says nothing about short-term politics.”
    In the short term, a bad conservative is still better than a good liberal.

    1. Jako,

      Fred Reed is America’s court jester. As such he says unspeakable truths. In the crazy years, he is America’s last guru.

  11. The OP specifically notes: ‘Force breaks up protest movements, atomizing them into fleeing individuals.’
    To me, that sure reads like a call for ‘a whiff of grapeshot’,
    In any case, it seems obvious that the Macron government is clueless, just as are their counterparts in Germany, who have just elected Angela Merkel’s assistant to be her successor. absent fresh ideas, neither has the resources to stop a more radical movement.
    Their continuation in office depends entirely on the chaotic state of the opposition. If that changes, both are toast

    1. etudiant,

      “To me, that sure reads like a call for ‘a whiff of grapeshot’,”

      Wow. That says a lot about you.

      “In any case, it seems obvious that the Macron government is clueless”

      Got to love how so many denigrate the people who govern nations, like the fans calling plays to NFL coaches. Perhaps they are doing a great job governing Europe, just not to your goals and standards. After all, what makes you believe that your ideas of what is right for Europe are their ideas?

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