There is a lovely ‘Le Monde’ quote that “The elites talk about the end of the world while the people talk about the end of the month.”
And that indeed would appear to be a predominant complaint of the ‘gilets jaunes’.
Macron has enhanced the impoverishment of the people whilst the rich have been granted tax cuts ‘to encourage investment’, Additionally there is much suspicion as to why and how Macron rose to such dizzy heights so quickly at Rothschild’s bank and thus may well have a banker’s political agenda, where money has more value than people’s lives.
I consider this eminently plausible.
Just look at this chart:
According to a banker quoted in the FT Macron simply made the mistake of “pressing ahead with fiscal consolidation at the same time as structural reform.” (As the UK has learnt) what could possibly go wrong?
The fact that only 26% of French people have a favourable opinion of their president while other polls suggest 80% of the French approve of the gilets jaunes protests, if not usually the violence – indeed outside Paris there has been little violence, though this article suggests that there is such widespread unhappiness that even the prefects – central government appointees – are trying to persuade the same central government to moderate their reforms and notice the deprivations of the general population.
One prefect has it spot on I think, when he suggests that there are so many people who are dissatisfied that it is difficult to speak to any ‘leaders’, Indeed many of the protestors “s’estiment touchés dans leur dignité”. We all have an idea what that means. But I think unwittingly or not, this actually touches on the core failing of neoliberal policies (which, these days, are usually designed and desired by bankers). People have lost their dignity, but in French – as too in its English origin – that also has the sense of ‘worth’, so people have a sense of worthlessness.
That for me is really the key as to why neoliberal policies will never work. When society’s members begin to feel worthless then society’s structure and purpose is under threat.
The French with their revolutionary tradition from only 229 years ago, have a direct action outlook and the Police and Gendarmerie have a similar view. Police in France, as in most of Europe of Napoleonic tradition, go into demonstrations dressed for a riot.
So it is partly a self fulfilling prophesy.
But then so, too, are neoliberal, bankers’ policies.