yellow vests

gilets jaunes

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The yellow vests movement (French: Mouvement des gilets jaunespronounced [ʒilɛ ʒon]) is a political movement that started online in May 2018 and led to demonstrations that began in France on 17 November 2018 and rapidly spread to Wallonia, Belgium. Motivated by rising fuel prices, the high cost of living and claims that a disproportionate burden of the government’s tax reforms were falling on the working and middle classes, especially in rural and peri-urban areas, protesters have called for reductions in fuel taxes, the reintroduction of the solidarity tax on wealth, the raising of the minimum wage, and the resignation of Emmanuel Macron as President of France.

The movement’s leaders chose the yellow vest a symbol because, since 2008, a law has required all French motorists to have high-visibility vests in their vehicles. As a result, reflective vests were widely available, inexpensive, and symbolic. By early December 2018, the symbol had become increasingly common from Europe to Iraq, as different groups made use of their high-visibility vests to draw attention to their agendas.



David Graeber (@davidgraeber) tweeted at 6:23 PM on Mon, Dec 10, 2018:
the “like” is for the picture, not my own text. Great picture!

As government and financial bureaucracies become so intimately intertwined it’s increasingly difficult to tell one from the other, wealth and power

graeber f&b same law

particularly, the power to create money (that is, credit)—also become effectively the same thing. (This was what we were drawing attention to in Occupy Wall Street when we talked about the “1%’—those with the ability to turn their wealth into political influence, and political influence back into wealth.) ..t

In France of course these are precisely the Macronists. Members of these classes feel that they are the embodiments of any possible universalism, their conceptions of the universal being firmly rooted in the market, or increasingly, that atrocious fusion of bureaucracy and market which is the reigning ideology of what’s called the “political center.” Working people in this new centrist reality are increasingly denied any possibility of universalism, since they literally cannot afford it..t

About the only class of people who seem unable to grasp this new reality are intellectuals.

Just as during Nuit Debout, many of the movement’s self-appointed “leadership” seemed unable or unwilling to accept the idea that horizontal forms of organization were in fact a form of organization (they simply couldn’t comprehend the difference between a rejection of top-down structures and total chaos)..t, so now intellectuals of left and right insist that the Gilets Jaunes are “anti-ideological”, unable to understand that for horizontal social movements, the unity of theory and practice (which for past radical social movements tended to exist much more in theory than in practice) actually does exist in practice.These new movements do not need an intellectual vanguard to provide them with an ideology because they already have one: the rejection of intellectual vanguards and embrace of multiplicity..t .. and horizontal democracy itself.

There is a role for intellectuals in these new movements, certainly, but it will have to involve a little less talking and a lot more listening..t

all the voices.. always..

as it could be


michel fb share

lots of people seem to have mixed feelings about the yellow vest protests, here’s one of them:

“nobody in 68 made death threats against those who want to talk. This is the power of force. All those on the left thinking this is a leftwing revolution are wrong: it’s veering to the right. To hear that gilets jaunes who want to negotiate are receiving death threats is evidence of this authoritarian right.

“I hear people from la France Insoumise (hard left), talking about this being a great people’s revolt and how the people are speaking, but these are the same ordinary people who pushed Trump into power.

“We saw in Germany in 1933 what ‘ordinary’ people did. Not all ordinary people are good … it’s not an accident that this movement has proposed General de Villiers as an alternative leader.”


CNN (@CNN) tweeted at 6:46 AM – 15 Dec 2018 :
Crowds of “gilets jaunes” protesters gathered on the streets of Paris for a fifth consecutive weekend of demonstrations (


Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) tweeted at 5:42 AM – 15 Dec 2018 :
Western media efforts to degrade French protests as a Putin plot, Facebook failure or far-right hate movement have – just like similar efforts elsewhere – collapsed as the protesters are heard: “There is all of this pain, all of this suffering, expressed through gilets jaunes”: (


Gildas Ribot  (@Giribot) tweeted at 1:14 AM – 15 Dec 2018 :
Le mouvement des #GiletsJaunes vu des USA.
Un article bien vu de @doctorow (

Yellow Vests stand for and against many contradictory things, but are united in opposition to oligarchy

The complexity stems in part from the leaderless nature of the group; participants claim they have no formal membership structure and no formal policy-setting mechanism. They’re like Anonymous: an “ensemble” (to use anthropologist Gabriella Coleman’s very useful frame). You become a yellow vest by putting on a yellow vest. An action is a yellow vest action if people in yellow vests do it.

They’re not a movement that can ever hold power, because they have fundamental disagreements about what kind of world they want to make. But they’re a movement that can bring power down, because they’re united on what’s standing in the way of those worlds.


michel fb

how the Guardian reported on the yellow vest uprising


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this is the most complete collection of french-language analytical articles about the yellow vest movement, a treasure trove of insights:

DiEM25 Français (@DiEM25_FR) tweeted at 4:03 AM – 20 Feb 2019 :
@yanisvaroufakis on the national broadcast @franceinfo : “Yellow Vests are the children of austerity policies” (

In France, the “yellow vests” reject the policies of right and left. The left can not embody the future in these conditions for Yanis Varoufakis, because “the left has failed” . But he adds: ” Together, the progressives, the ecologists (…) if we are around the table and we agree on a common program, that will be the solution.The ‘yellow vests’ are the children of the austerity of the last decades, they behave badly, they can be serious, but we pick what has been sown for decades by the liberals. “


Quinn “kind of here” Norton (@quinnnorton) tweeted at 6:08 AM – 1 May 2019 :
(I did come out here because I was planning on photography and tweeting May First and the Gilets Jaunes, but my day has been effectively canceled for me: Medium-ish migraine. Just doing this is painful. Sometimes, that’s how it goes.) (


from astra‘s out of time:

For the working class, already stretched thin, time is a luxury fewer and fewer can afford. That was the message of France’s Gilets Jaunes, or Yellow Vests, revolt, ..rallying under a stark slogan: “The elites talk about the end of the world while we are talking about the end of the month.” But some Yellow Vest demonstrators soon adopted a different and more hopeful motto: “End of the world, end of the month, same struggle.”