“Can the government fall?” asked BFM TV two days before that same government resorted to Article 49.3. It’s no longer time for wishing, but for contributing. We have been patient–far too patient. In 2016, the Loi Travail and almost two thousand arrests. Spring 2018: reform of the Railway Pact. Winter 2018: Blanquer’s education reforms and our kids at Mantes-la-Jolie made to kneel by sworn-in thugs. Winter 2019: pension reforms. Summer 2021: implementation of sub-citizenship (the ‘passe sanitaire’) and the blacklisting of the Muslim minority (the “separatism” law). And now, by force, the regime pushes the retirement age back by two years.
The Yellow Vests rose up to claim a more dignified life and the regime responded in kind. We will never forget the broken bones, the lost eyes, the hands blown off by explosives – all the faces pulverized by Macronism. One day, they must pay. Let’s wager that this day is approaching. The pandemic saw high society shed fat tears over their “essential workers”; ever since, it hasn’t stopped humiliating them. If ten million of us were to march in the streets it would change nothing: the regime breathes easy. Macron, as we read in the press, has “no scruples, no regrets” to have resorted–for the twelfth time– to the 49.3. He continues to wipe his dirty paws on us. He smiles his banker’s smile. And why should it be otherwise? We’ve never seen a power tremble before protests that it itself authorizes.
In 1789, we didn’t begin by declaring human equality in the prefecture. In 1871, we didn’t decree the abolition of night work for bakers in a council of ministers. In 1936, we didn’t win the 40-hour work week and paid leave through a “constructive exchange” but through factory occupations, countless strikes, two million strikers, and red flags. In 1968, we didn’t achieve the 35% raise of minimum interprofessional wages through “social dialogue,” but through a general strike, barricades, and the flight of a certain general to the French Forces headquarters in Germany. The powerful will never willingly give up their power: they force us to force them. That’s just how it is.
When a Centrist deputy, énarque and aristocrat’s son, comes to incarnate dissidence in the given order, we await the end of the regime. You should see him, National Assembly deputy Charles de Courson, relating one or two obvious facts on French radio to wide-eyed host Léa Salamé. On the morning of March 20, he reports: “They have the whole world against them, the country included, if you want. And then when we are respectful, when we are democrats, even if we think we are right, you have to take into account what’s happening in the country. Otherwise you are no longer democratic.” Salamé fumbles her words: “He, he, he isn’t democratic, Emmanuel Macron?” Blank stare, mouth agape – out of service, connection lost. De Courson risks a definition: “Democracy is the power of the people.” It’s way too much for Salamé: “But, he was elected, no?”
Here we have it, they’re shitting themselves before our eyes.
A stone makes a pretty hole in the window of Éric Ciotti’s headquarters: the president of the Républicans immediately takes a stand against “The Terror” (capitalized). Some stickers are stuck on the offices of a Renaissance deputy: Le Parisien sounds the alarm for the “attacked” headquarters, “targeted” by thunderous blows of stickers. The concerned party confesses: “One never expects this type of action.” Let us wish him well on the path to resilience. Aurore Bergé (Le République en Marche) declared her hopes “to not fall back into what we experienced with the Yellow Vests,” and François Bayrou (Le Mouvement démocrate) denounced the burning of the president in effigy: “torture” he called it, intolerable “afflictions.” We send our more sincere condolences to the cardboard. And as for Gérard Larcher (Les Républicains), he’s seeing red: “NOTHING justifes this damage to #democracy!” (hashtag).
It is characteristic of the powerful to twist words.
They say “democracy” to mean just about everything besides democracy. Democracy isn’t a ballot card that, every five years, sends 19 millionaire ministers to the head of state and 0.9% of workers to the benches of a “representative” assembly. Democracy is organized masses who satisfy their needs through institutions that they conceive of and then control. 8 out of 10 French disapprove of this last 49.3 and 71% of them aspire to the fall of the government (Harris Interactive). The regime is holding us hostage: in the first round of the last legislative elections, they only had the support of 11.9% of registered voters. In other words: nothing. It’s here, the “minority dictatorship.” The powerful say “violence,” and mean just about everything besides violence.
Violence isn’t damaged “street furniture” or armed thugs of the state getting a little roughed up. Violence is the SNCF rail agent who hangs himself at home at 41 years of age after writing to his supervisor that he “couldn’t take it anymore”; it is François, 65 years old, who steals apples from supermarkets in Picardie because he’s starving; it’s Julie, a scholarship student standing in line at a food bank; it’s Mariama, an ex-domestic care worker at 66 who, after a work accident, “is no longer able to hold a spoon”; it’s Anne, a nurse on sick leave who confesses she thought she “was dying at work” because of “the management”; it’s Emmanuel, a truck driver from Meurthe-et-Moselle who no longer goes on vacation with his family because “salaries barely cover housing anymore”; it’s Zineb, beaten in Marseille by a police officer who remains–and will remain–protected. Violence is workers who, on average, live 6 years less than management. It is Arab job applicants who, faced with “comparable quality,” have a 31.5% lower chance of being contacted by recruiters. There it is: the violence of the world as things stand. Bashed bus stop shelters are trifles for the insurance companies. The only discussion worth having concerns the matter of tactics – is popular counter-violence which targets property collectively effective or not at a given instant? Whomever speaks of other things speaks the rotten language of power.
In Paris, we summon the memory of Louis VXI on the Place de la Concorde in flames. In Coëron, we block off the trash incinerator and the municipal services center in Lorient. In Mans, we burn a giant “49.3” in effigy. In La Ciotat and Senlis, we abolish tolls. In Versailles, we occupy the train station. In Donges, we shut down the refinery. In Rennes, like in Nantes, we erect barricades. There is rumbling all over. Anger is building. Rage is spreading. Trashcans clutter the capital. Buffoons have already begun to whine: “Imagine the tourist arriving in Paris. He traveled 9,000km to see the city of love,” wrote a columnist for the Figaro, economist and thinker in his spare time. Union leadership is overwhelmed; one couldn’t dream of a better fate. Olivier Mateu, secretary of the Bouches-du-Rhône branch of the CGT (General Confederation of Labor) warned that: “If the government passes the act by way of 49.3, there’ll be no more rules. Since he doesn’t respect the rules of democracy, there’ll be no more rules.” Wisdom found at least one voice. Or, let’s say, what amounts to the same thing: there will be new rules. Those, at last, of the workers, the galley slaves, the destitute, the forgotten, the penniless, the abused. And to establish them, these new rules, France has certain resources at its disposal, greatly appreciated by the population –revolution, right? There are privileges to abolish. A presidential monarchy, no less.
Trash doesn’t just litter the streets of Paris, it has a television station established in its honor. CNews asks: “Should we fear the return of communism?” If by communism we mean the most dignified life for the majority, we are certainly right to hope so. To hope, but also to build. Regime crises sometimes provide such opportunities. It is up to us.
This text was originally published in French by Frustration Magazine. Translated by Patrick Lyons.
On December 6, 2018, a video showed dozens of students protesting in solidarity with the Yellow Vests at a high school in Mantes-la-Jolie, west of Paris, being made by the police to kneel in the mud with their heads bowed and hands behind their heads.
 The author refers to General Charles de Gaulle.
 Énarque is the name given to graduates of the French National School of Public Administration.