It is plausible to say that the French are mentally hardwired to be the true proponents of liberty, as seen through the continuation of the recent Yellow Vest protests which have swept the urban sprawl of Paris and other metropolitan hubs of France. Yet, are these protests just another mere exhibition of the public’s sense of betrayal at the elite or is this an example of the difficulties we are due to face on the road towards a more environmentally friendly tomorrow.
To say that the recent public uproar to Macrons announcement to raise fuel costs oozes revolutionary vibes would be an understatement, yet such has become expected of the French Republic; with the acceptability of violent upheaval and proletariat struggle cemented in the latter’s culture. And whilst populist movements are the new black right now, the Yellow Vests seem to be a unique entity worthy of the world’s eyes. I feel that this differentiation comes from a twinge of that special Franco furore mixed in with a general lack of party affiliation, with opponents of Macron’s young cabinet like Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Melenchon being told to shove it after blatant attempts to piggyback their way into the public consciousness.
Though, I feel a great many people simple don’t know what the Gilets Jaunes are out for. So, that being said, who are the Yellow Vests and what do they want?
Donning the mandatory yellow vests required of all French motorists, the movement began on the 17th of November, with its primary qualm being that of the increase in costs for diesel, to which stand currently at 1.49 euros ($1.68) per litre. Yet, it was Macron’s announcement to drive up the price again that really outraged the populace. Macron, himself, outlined the plans to raise fuel costs in an effort to curtail France’s carbon footprint and to drag the state into an age of renewable fuel and eco-friendly policies. However, many see this act as an insult to rural French who are already struggling to make ends meet in the current economic situation, the likes of whom also see this as another example of Macrons tendency to pander and appease elites despite running on a campaign promising change.
Hence, the yellow vests have taken to the streets to protest the newly elected President, yet the most recent bout of agitation have metamorphosised into a gradually more violent cause. Under the watchful eyes of the Arc de Triumph, protestors have taken to violence and vandalism. Through the burning of cars, destruction of speed cameras and – in a typically French revolutionary touch – the blockading of streets, Paris is now under eyes of the world.
Initially, it seemed that Macron was intent of digging his heels into the ground and wearing out the worst of the protests. However, after an exhausting three weeks, it would seem that concessions are due to be made through an announcement of the suspension of the tax. The Yellow Vests, motivated by this victory, are seemingly monolithically set on a greater set of ambitions as they prepare to amass again on the coming Saturday. As to what await the fledgling movement and presidency are not yet certain, nevertheless the crowds have been mired in calls for Macrons resignation as well as idealistic chants for the establishment of a “Sixth Republic” – an environment for greater democracy.
The Yellow Vests protests, I feel, have given us a window into the future. Macrons policies, whilst poorly executed and out of touch, harken into a growing desperation to curtail the affects of climate change. And whilst many are contempt with taking a moral high-ground and tweeting “save the earth” a bunch of times, it would seem that the real world will be a far harder beast to tame, if anything the destitute and those who struggle are going to have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the mystical, eco-friendly future. Truly, to avoid a more palpable and destructive reaction than that of the Yellow Vests, our leaders must take an active effort in redistribution of wealth and/or radical investments into services that can ween the public into giving up the components of our lives that make survival possible. If these facts are not regarded then the values of liberté, égalité and fraternité will stand as the reckoning to the status quo.