After the Associated Press reported that France’s prime minister would suspend the riot provoking fuel tax hike, hundreds, if not thousands, of blue check marks poured into the streets to claim their ideology should receive the credit. The Yellow Vest protests are somewhat confusing ideologically, at least to an onlooker that hasn’t poisoned themselves with over a decade of online political discourse (and even to some that have). It’s worth breaking down the situation to understand exactly why this was a leftist protest that achieved a leftist result.
First, let’s start by tackling why that’s not obvious, which begins by talking about Emmanuel Macron, the President of France. Macron, who looks like the French guy that waves the white flag to the Nazis in every World War II movie, is often viewed as at least a left leaning politician, in part because he beat out right wing extremist Marine Le Pen. To call her the daughter of a Nazi sympathizer doesn’t really do her justice; she’s the daughter of a Nazi sympathizer who is in charge of the Nazi sympathizing political party that her dad started. She also makes constant references to Muslims being comparable to Nazis, which given her own ideology, is probably the nicest thing a French conservative has said about the Muslim community since the advent of Algebra.
The juxtaposition of Macron and Le Pen made the former look like an avowed leftist, despite his numerous policy positions to the contrary. Macron is not a leftist, but a technocrat. His early political reputation was built on providing the French elite with a business friendly alternative to leftist Arnaud Montebourg. While Macros opposes the economic nationalism of Le Pen, he opposes centrally planned redistribution even more. Many in the United States compare him to former president Obama, but he’s closer to a reverse Bill Clinton: where Clinton adopted the social values of the conservatives to bring liberal economic values to his presidency, Macron adopted the economic values of conservatives to bring liberal social values to his presidency, and bring those liberal values he did.
The controversial fuel tax was sold as a way to curb climate change. By taxing mostly diesel cars to encourage the purchase of low or zero-emission vehicles, Macron essentially asked the working class to buy a new car to help stop global warming. Shockingly, this didn’t go over well, not just because it’s an absurd ask on its face, but because the French government has been pushing diesel cars for nearly a decade, making them incredibly popular in France, especially among working class families.
The reason so many online reactionaries have been claiming the protests as their own, is because of buzzwords like taxes and climate change. A protest against a tax that punishes those that don’t drive Priuses could easily be the plot of a bad South Park episode. Explained the wrong way, it certainly seems like it’s culture conservatives who would be leading the charge. More so to those in the United States who aren’t accustomed to politicians even acknowledging climate change as real. What that understanding lacks, however, is even basic class analysis.
This tax was the elites forcing the working class to clean up a mess they didn’t cause. As has circulated a lot recently, most carbon emissions comes from around one-hundred countries, and the biggest polluter in the world is the United States military. Random French bread and wine makers (I assume) aren’t causing climate change with their tiny diesel cars and vespas. The French elite, along with everyone else in the world who has their own economic stratosphere, caused global warming and they want the working class to pay to cool it.
Dylan James Harper is the Political Editor for CSUITEMUSIC.com
Read more from Dylan at http://www.dylanjamesharper.com