ON MONDAY night, French President Emmanuel Macron used a televised address to the nation to try and head off the insurrectionary wave sweeping the country.
Macron’s boast that he would crush the masses has turned to ashes in his mouth and on Monday he made a humiliating climbdown, promising a £9 billion package and a whole raft of concessions on pay rises and tax cuts for workers in addition to freezing the hike in diesel prices that originally sparked the uprising.
Macron’s ‘concessions’ were, in the words of one of the Yellow Vest organisers, ‘Too little, too late’, with a spokesman for the movement vowing that masses would come on the streets this Saturday to put an end to Macron’s rule.
According to polls, 84% of the population support the Yellow Vests, while Macron has seen his support plummet to an historic low. Indeed, the day after his address, the Yellow Vests were joined by thousands of high school students angered by Macron’s education reforms. Last week, up to 300 French high schools were barricaded every day, prompting violent clashes as the state unleashed the police to brutally break up the occupations.
School students have joined with youth and workers in this mass movement that is refusing to be either intimidated by the brutality of the CRS or bought off with a few crumbs from Macron. They want an end to Macron’s government and an end to capitalist austerity.
Macron’s retreat before the working class has terrified the European bourgeoisie. A leading German banker expressed this fear saying: ‘Macron’s response suggests that a rioting and pillaging mob can dictate politics, while those who demonstrate peacefully – or not at all – are ignored.’
It couldn’t be clearer – the strength of the working class and young people rising up in a mass revolutionary movement can not only dictate politics but can and will overthrow the bankrupt capitalist system that can offer nothing but perpetual poverty for the masses and the enrichment of the bourgeoisie.
The German bankers are wailing that, with Macron pledging to increase public spending by £9 billion, France will be breaking all the fiscal rules of the Eurozone on cutting expenditure to below 60% of GDP – his concessions will push France’s national debt to above 100% of GDP and put it in the same position as Italy, which the EU is currently threatening with fines and sanctions for breaking the rules.
France has now taken over from Italy as the country that will bring down the euro and with it the entire EU because of the revolutionary uprising of workers and youth. It is a movement that is spreading far beyond France. Last Saturday, saw mass demonstrations throughout the normally tranquil Netherlands demanding an end to economic attacks on workers and for the government to be removed.
In Brussels, yellow-vested protesters marched on its European quarter, the centre for the EU, demanding the prime minister resign with the leading banner proclaiming ‘social winter is coming’.
Neither Belgium nor the Netherlands has imposed fuel tax increases: all the economic hardship has become generalised into a powerful mass movement that hates capitalism and is rapidly embracing socialist revolution as the only way forward.
This is spreading far beyond Europe and inspiring struggles across the Middle East. In Tunisia, youth have started their own national ‘red vest’ campaign targeting: ‘Corruption, high costs of living, unemployment and mismanagement’ that, coupled with disastrous governmental policies, had led to ‘systematic impoverishment’, eight years after their own 2011 uprising brought down the then-government of Ben-Ali.
Scared that, as in 2011, the movement will spread to Egypt, the government there has banned the sale of yellow vests throughout the country.
In Iraq, demonstrators, demanding an end to the appalling insanitary living conditions in the oil-rich province of Basra last weekend, donned high visibility jackets inspired by the French uprising. With the tide of revolution spreading rapidly across Europe and into the Middle East, the time is ripe for the building of sections of the International Committee of the Fourth International in every country to lead and organise the victory of the world socialist revolution.