Revolution or War n°13

(Semestrial - October 2019)

HomeVersion imprimable de cet article Version imprimable

A Look Back at the Yellow Vest Movement in France and the Inter-classist Revolts in the World

The yellow vest movement challenged revolutionaries and many proletarians, at least those aware of the need to fight for the defense of their class interests, in relation to their experience, their vision, even their scheme, of the development of the class struggle. There were those who glorified the movement for its apparent radicality, in particular its ability and willingness to face state police repression, or for its ’self-organization’ via social or other networks, until they defended that "the French revolution began on 17 November 2018"  [1]; and those who rejected the movement because of its ’inter-classist’ character – until, for the hopeless ICC of the theory of Decomposition, they denounced it as a trap set by the bourgeoisie  [2]. For our part, we have not been free of doubts and hesitations to characterize this movement to the point of affirming that "the working class individuals who are isolated and drowned as proletarians in a mass with heterogeneous and even often contradictory interests, isolated and drowned in the ’people’, will gain nothing" [3]. A week later, after the clashes on the Champs-Elysées and under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, Macron backed away from a number of demands put forward by the ’yellow vests’, some of which were undeniably proletarian in nature. Even if limited and temporary, this retreat of the ruling class was the first since the strikes of 1995, despite various mass mobilizations, millions of strikers and demonstrators, during the decade 2000, as well as in 2013 against yet another ’reform’ of pensions and 2016 against the ’labour law’. All of them, sabotaged by the union tactics of the Action Days, had ended in defeats until the railway workers’ last one, more than thirty days of strikes spread over months behind the unions in the spring of 2018.

Today, since the yellow vests are only a very small minority with a powerless weekly ritual, it would be tempting for the revolutionaries, and especially for the components of the Communist Left, to turn the page, to return to their certainties, to pretend to believe that the end, or slow death, of this movement has given reason to those who rejected, or even denounced, this revolt, without returning to the questions with which they, and the proletariat as a whole, were confronted on this occasion. Move on, there is, there would be, nothing to see as the police officer says to the curious onlookers at the scene of an accident. Yet the revolt and the massive demonstrations that are taking place in Hong Kong, whose characteristic is also clearly interclassist and in which the proletarian component as such seems largely absent – unlike France –, no workers’ demands to our knowledge, shows us that this type of revolt is undoubtedly destined to be repeated as an expression of the exacerbation of all kinds of social antagonisms due to the capitalist crisis. Just as the Arab springs of the late 2000s had seen the development of ’popular’, inter-classist movements and revolts, often for essentially democratic demands, sometimes intertwined with clearly proletarian struggles, or even directly animated and led by them as in Egypt and even, to a lesser degree in Tunisia. This type of ’inter-classist’ movements, heterogeneous and confused, will also reproduce themselves in mass, even initially ’precede’ massive proletarian struggles, and revolutionaries, like the proletariat as a class, will have to position themselves as best they can in face of these movements.

Workers’ struggles, totally controlled by the unions, such as the General Motors strike (still ongoing at the time of writing), the strike of 24 September for metros and buses - 85% of strikers - which blocked the Paris region, or the lockout - eighteen months! - of the ABI aluminum plant in Quebec [4], are not in a position to offer a perspective to the proletarian components of a confused inter-classist movement such as the yellow vests. This is different, for example, from the class struggle of the public employees of Chubut in Argentina who, although ’lost’ in Patagonia [5], sought and, in part, succeeded in extending their struggle by confronting the unions through wild demonstrations, blockades, and of course strikes. Only the proletarian dynamics and methods of the mass strike can respond to the proletarians engaging in this type of ’inter-classist’ movement. Heterogeneous and confused, they will also reproduce themselves en masse, even ’accompany’ massive proletarian struggles and revolutionaries, just like the proletariat as a class, will have to position themselves as best they can in front of these movements.

This is why we reproduce here the statement – its main part – of the group Robin Goodfellow on The Yellow Vest Movement (https://defensedumarxisme.wordpress.com/) to stimulate the reflection of as many people as possible. We do not share their theoretical and programmatic premises. Nevertheless, it provides Marxist references, both theoretical and historical, which must be taken into account when dealing with the problem posed by these movements. Certainly, because it rejects the periodization of capitalism in two phases, ascendancy and decline, it tends to consider inter-classist or popular movements in the same terms as in the 19th century. As a result, and unlike most other components of the Communist Left, it still considers the democratic demands that this type of movement carries as an objective and a step and not as a dead end for the proletariat [6]. In the same way, it puts forward in this document demands which, although ’just’ in themselves, are posed independently of the very course and immediate objectives of the workers’ struggle. It is possible – and this will need to be clarified – that this approach to the demands is linked to the concept of Permanent Revolution as presented in this document [7].

The text is introduced by a quotation from Lenin which, beyond the fact that it refers to the struggles of ’national liberation’, highlights the dynamic approach that revolutionaries must have on ’mass social struggles’. If we are not sure that we have the same understanding of it as Robin Goodfellow, the fact remains that Lenin’s argument is an essential reference to understand these ’interclassist’ phenomena and the very dynamics of the proletarian mass strike. Similarly, we probably agree with the comrades, in itself, as a matter of principle, that "a communist party should intervene in this movement and challenge its leadership to the petty-bourgeoisie by asserting its demands and slogans". But we probably also disagree on the latter as they put them forward. Until the once again limited retreat of Macron on December 4 and especially on December 10, we had difficulty seeing which orientations and slogans should be put forward. The absence of a real core of members from our own group [8] in France allowing significant intervention on our part does not diminish the need to reflect and define the intervention of a communist group to a minimum extent. In our opinion, and unlike Robin Goodfellow, the axis of the communist intervention should have criticized and denounced democratic demands and illusions of all kinds, referendums, self-organization via social networks – from this point of view, the brutality and violence of state repression provided a powerful argument to denounce bourgeois democracy, the ’French Republic’ and the belonging to the ’people’ – and to oppose it by the proletarian demands that appeared as the weight of the working class individuals participating in the yellow vest movement was increasing, rising the minimum wage, pensions, unemployment benefits, etc. and thus open on the methods of struggle specific to the proletariat which, alone, can oppose the capitalist state with ’effectiveness’ by presenting the perspective of its destruction, the exercise of the dictatorship of the proletariat and another society without class nor exploitation. In this sense, our intervention would not have sought so much to strengthen the ’unity of this movement’ but, not fearing to be against the current at least in the first instance, to polarize and bring out its proletarian component. It is therefore a whole reflection on a particular and new phenomenon, and an expression of the new historical situation that is opening up and which we call ’massive confrontations between classes’, to which we invite all communist forces, especially those fighting for the constitution of the future world party of the proletariat.

Limited by the number of pages of the journal, we were forced to cut two parts of this text with long and numerous footnotes. Although interesting in themselves, it seems to us that their withdrawal does not detract from the reflection and contradictory debate on the position taken by the comrades. We informed them of this and submitted them in advance the parentheses we introduced.

The IGCL, September 2019.

The Class Struggle in France – 2018-2019 – The Movement of the ’Yellow Vests’ (Robin Goodfellow).

"To imagine that social revolution is conceivable without revolts by small nations in the colonies and in Europe, without revolutionary outbursts by a section of the petty bourgeoisie with all its prejudices, without a movement of the politically non-conscious proletarian and semi-proletarian masses against oppression by the landowners, the church, and the monarchy, against national oppression, etc.-to imagine all this is to repudiate social revolution. So one army lines up in one place and says, “We are for socialism”, and another, somewhere else and says, “We are for imperialism”, and that will be a social revolution! Only those who hold such a ridiculously pedantic view could vilify the Irish rebellion by calling it a ’putsch’.
Whoever expects a “pure” social revolution will never live to see it. Such a person pays lip-service to revolution without understanding what revolution is. The Russian Revolution of 1905 was a bourgeois-democratic revolution. It consisted of a series of battles in which all the discontented classes, groups and elements of the population participated. Among these there were masses imbued with the crudest prejudices, with the vaguest and most fantastic aims of struggle; there were small groups which accepted Japanese money, there were speculators and adventurers, etc. But objectively, the mass movement was breaking the back of tsarism and paving the way for democracy; for this reason the class-conscious workers led it. The socialist revolution in Europe cannot be anything other than an outburst of mass struggle on the part of all and sundry oppressed and discontented elements. Inevitably, sections of tile petty bourgeoisie and of the backward workers will participate in it — without such participation, mass struggle is impossible, without it no revolution is possible —and just as inevitably will they bring into the movement their prejudices, their reactionary fantasies, their weaknesses and errors. But objectively they will attack capital, and the class-conscious vanguard of the revolution, the advanced proletariat, expressing this objective truth of a variegated and discordant, motley and outwardly fragmented, mass struggle, will be able to unite and direct it, capture power, seize the banks, expropriate the trusts which all hate (though for difficult reasons!), and introduce other dictatorial measures which in their totality will amount to the overthrow of the bourgeoisie and the victory of socialism, which, however, will by no means immediately ’purge’ itself of petty-bourgeois slag" (Lenin, The Discussion on Self-Determination Summed up, 1916 [9]).

A Movement with Unheard Forms

The detonator of the ’yellow vest’ movement was the fuel tax increase [10]. Since then the movement has gone far beyond what was initially seen as a protest by provincial motorists. It has come to raise several questions, including that of taxes and tax reform. This is one of the most shared demands, which is consistent with the fact that the movement first presented itself as a tax revolt.

For Marxism, the demand for a tax cut is part of an interclassist struggle that interests above all the bourgeoisie and even more so the petty bourgeoisie without bringing much to the proletariat [11]. Yet the proletariat is not indifferent to this question and constantly defends its fiscal policy [12].

The movement’s demands, particularly in fiscal matters, show that the proletariat, while playing a decisive role in the yellow vest movement since it has brought its social power and added its own demands, remains under the political and ideological leadership of the petty bourgeoisie.

The immediate struggle that characterizes the proletariat is clearly a struggle for wages (including pensions and social minima) while knowing that the objective pursued by the revolutionary proletariat is the abolition of wage labour. Of course, and because of its massive intervention in this yellow vest movement, proletarian demands for wages and pensions quickly emerged. This emergence of the wage issue quite quickly forced Macron and his government in defence of the bourgeois order to make concessions. Although they are crumbs, as the Movement has very well understood [13], the December 10th’s concessions represent much more than all the days of union inaction that had no other purpose than to stifle the struggles. This too was well understood by the movement of the yellow vests. It was by learning from the practices of trade union bureaucracies that the movement came to the conclusion that they should be excluded, while they have consistently denigrated it by highlighting and pinpointing its most reactionary dimensions.

The movement has taken on unheard forms that can be explained, in part, by the changes in the composition of the classes.

[The following is a passage providing very interesting sociological and economic data that provides a better understanding of the diverse social composition of the yellow vests and its characteristics, IGCL note]

A Horizontal Organization Based on Direct Democracy

On the other hand, social networks have made it possible to free oneself from representations of ’intermediate bodies’, such as trade unions, and put all parties at a distance. In doing so, after the spontaneous and local occupation of the roundabouts and the first demonstrations on 17 November, there was very quickly added the recurring call to demonstrate every weekend, in the heart of the great cities and especially in direct proximity to places of power and wealthy neighbourhoods. This too has a new character, which contrasts with the trade union days of action and their standardized parades, convened on weekdays on marked routes and far from ’sensitive’ places, walks long deserted for their total impotence. On the contrary, the Saturday demonstrations gradually mobilized new waves of proletarians (with or without the vest), especially from the suburbs of the big cities. All these factors have contributed to giving this form to a movement that is directly confronted with state repression and that affects all of France and is emulated throughout the world.

The Communist Movement and the Yellow Vests

Simplistic Class Analyses

The communist movement was divided between the proponants of an aristocratic indifference [14] and the followers of a movement whose class contradictions are watered down [15].

To those who denigrate the movement because it does not walk behind the ’flag of the proletariat’, it should be recalled that it has already obtained more than all trade union mobilizations, supposedly under this flag, and which were all means to stifle proletarian struggles and lead them to defeat.

To denigrate the movement, all arguments were used and the whole range of ’politically correct’ (sexism, racism, anti-Semitism, discrimination against homosexuals, alcoholism, smoking, polluter,…) [16] and, icing on the cake, the assimilation of violence with what has just been listed was constantly highlighted. It is then sufficient to extrapolate from real facts highlighted a meaning and a tendency of the movement that justify above all to stay out of it if not to fight and repress it. Like the petty-bourgeois and bourgeois democrats, many communist sects have only shown all the class contempt they are capable of [17].

Demonstration of the "yellow vests" of 26 January 2019 and clashes with the police (at the bottom under tear gas smoke) Place de la Bastille in Paris. This does not prevent the demonstrators in the foreground from continuing to march towards the square and the clashes (IGCL’s photo and commentary).

It is obvious that the movement is interclassist and that the proletariat, while asserting its own demands, is behind the petty-bourgeoisie of which it politically constitutes the left. The proletariat does not exist as an independent political party, but most representatives of the communist movement seem unaware that this situation has existed for more than 90 years. This is why this period is characterized as a period of counter-revolution. We can certainly say the following: ’We are still in a period of counter-revolution. We can only comment on this movement and defend revolutionary theory to facilitate the reformation of the Communist Party of tomorrow’. At the same time, this party will not emerge ex nihilo but it will be produced by the class in struggle. This struggle itself is part of a process. As we have already explained, we are monitoring more closely, without departing from the greatest caution, the evolution of the class struggle in recent years, because it is possible that new perspectives may be opened up to the proletariat. In any case, we can only blame the aristocratic attitude of looking at this movement with white gloves and pinching your nose. And we refer to Lenin’s quotation placed in the spotlight. A communist party should intervene in this movement and challenge its leadership to the petty-bourgeoisie by asserting its demands and slogans.

The absence of the class party for several decades has not prevented the proletariat from carrying out political action, and therefore class struggle, by putting pressure on the State and by extracting many of the advantages of the past in the law (health, schooling, working time, salary, etc.) over the past century, while allowing the ruling classes to make the most of them. And this has only been achieved at the cost of their permanent challenge, only on condition that the proletariat renounce its historical goals, that it does not exist as an organized political party, independent and opposed to all other parties, which is the indispensable condition for the triumph of its historical program: the classless society. During this whole period, the proletariat has been only the extreme left of democracy.

If the action of the proletariat does not depend on the existence of any party, its function is to generalize and unify the spontaneous movement of the proletariat. It is only in the party that science, consciousness, will and instinct converge to transform the action of the proletariat into class action conscious of its historical goals. But this party is a creation of the class; it will reappear through a long process of struggles. It will not be a creation ex nihilo but a product of the class in struggle, a struggle that itself is part of a process. It is nevertheless interesting that this yellow vest movement keeps all bourgeois or reformist parties out of the way, including those who have never governed. This should be stressed, but the ICP, for whom the fetishism of the party is very strong, because hearing that all ’parties’ are put aside, it immediately condemns the movement because it would act outside the parties hostile to the proletariat but also, what is even worse, outside the International Communist Party. It seems that the ICP would only take into consideration a movement where the proletarians, in need of a communist program, would come knocking on the door of the ICP’s premises to get unsold copies of the ’Proletarian’ crammed into its cellar. The movement, moreover, although one could think that it is also encouraged by the government in order to weaken the extreme right and to a lesser extent the left party France Insoumise, tends to constitute parties [18] (yellow vests list for the European elections) but they do not go beyond the petty-bourgeois framework.

However, it is misleading to present the movement as that of ’small bosses’ (implied a capitalist petty bourgeoisie), as does the ICP or the ICC, or to assert, as ’the common thread’, that it is a movement of the traditional middle classes ruined by the development of capitalist production, i.e. what belongs to the former middle classes (farmers, artisans, small traders). Marxism also classifies them under the label of the petty bourgeoisie insofar as they aspire to become capitalists and also because the borders are porous between the petty capitalist bourgeoisie which employs few or intermittently workers and this petty middle class bourgeoisie which does not employ any or very occasionally. At the same time, which gives them a hybrid and unstable character but also a potentially revolutionary dimension if they adopt the point of view of the proletariat [19], these old middle classes are regularly precipitated into the proletariat by the ruin of their activity. The example of the peasantry, for instance, burdened with debt and subjected to falling production prices, living on incomes well below the minimum wage while working twice as long, so eloquently shows this.

Contrary to what the Fil rouge (https://lefilrouge17.blogspot.com/) says, alongside the decline of the traditional former middle classes, we are witnessing the resurgence of a middle class (self-employed) under the effect of the contradictions of the capitalist mode of production in the most developed countries and France in particular [20]. The development of small and micro enterprises, and the recognition that they contribute to job creation, must be seen as one of the modalities of the relative decline of French capitalism on the world market. These companies, for various reasons that we will not develop here, have less added value per person than large companies. This is both a sign and a modality of a relative weakening of the most developed capitalist countries. The most precarious legal statuses such as that of micro-entrepreneur (auto-entrepreneur) make it possible to bypass the social laws specific to wage labour and make possible what is the lot of many farmers: working a lot to earn very little. Already Kautsky, then Lenin, who took him over, had pointed out that many independent professions were only a desperate attempt to escape from the reserve industrial army. The same is true today for many actors who have social statuses that are only the antechamber or the exit hatch of Pôle Emploi [French Employment Agency] when they are not forced to do so by certain companies in order to be able to work with them [21]. The so-called uberisation phenomena (but as the example of Telefonica that we have discussed on our blog [22] shows, these are not only cases related to the new information technologies [23]) and the struggles they provoke in return (for example the Deliveroo couriers, the protests of taxis against unfair competition, the Uber drivers on the price of the ride, etc.) are part of the modernisation of forms known in the past as hired labourers, homework, semi-proletariat. A good part of these middle classes by force only dream of one thing: to become proletarian! In the oscillation between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, they easily lean towards the proletariat. In any case, Marxism has never treated these classes (including the capitalist petty-bourgeoisie) as if they formed a reactionary mass with the bourgeoisie against the proletariat.

Whether the movement is interclassist and under the influence of a bourgeois ideology or the middle classes, no one will deny it. The dominant ideas are the ideas of the ruling class. But not only what great movement but even what revolution was not interclassist? Wasn’t the Paris Commune crossed by patriotism and the reminiscences of the French Revolution? Within the council of the Commune, the workers themselves were in the minority and the internationals [24] rubbed shoulders with the blanquists and Jacobins. Did this prevent Marx from saying that it was essentially a workers’ government? Didn’t Engels see it as an achievement of the dictatorship of the proletariat?

In revolutionary Russia, the Petrograd Soviet hosted, at the initiative of the Bolsheviks, representatives of the soldiers, i. e., for the vast majority, peasants, i. e. the petty bourgeois (old middle class). The Petrograd soviet, gave by right, places in the office to representatives of the various parties (Mensheviks, socialists-revolutionaries, Bolsheviks,...). The government emerging from the October Revolution is a workers and peasants government. Moreover, to come to power, the Bolshevik party took over the petty-bourgeoisie’s agrarian program; the latter (the parties that represented it [25]) being unable to detach itself from the bourgeoisie and apply their program. At the same time, Lenin keeps calling for class differentiation and the independence of the proletariat. He encouraged agricultural workers to form trade unions, to form independent soviets or at least their own forms of organization within the peasant soviets if the first solution was not possible, as well as for semi-proletarians (poor peasants with partial wage earners) [26]. It demands changes in the appointment of deputies in order to give more weight to the representatives of the proletariat.

On the Backwardness of the Movement

It cannot be denied that there have been and still are expressions that show the backwardness of some components of the movement. To the extent that they cross society, they also cross the yellow vests, but we can observe many opposite cases such as, for example, the role of women in the direction and initiative of the movement – it is notably a woman (black moreover) who launched the petition against the increase in fuel taxes.

[This is followed by a passage on anti-Semitism, the last passage of which we reproduce in note [27]. We invite readers who can to read this passage, IGCL note].

Finally, whatever the role of the extreme right and the ultra-right, which is also highlighted to discredit the movement and to polarize the upcoming elections, intervening in them is one more reason not to leave it under its influence. According to observers, the abstentionists are very present and they are beyond the parties, whether it was [the leftist] France Insoumise or the [rightist] Rassemblement National, which all went easy to calm down the movement in the hope of capitalizing in the ballot boxes on the occasion of the European elections.

Of course, no one will see the presence of the tricolour flags as a sign of an exemplary struggle. Nationalism of the stadiums for some, and especially with other symbols, a reference to the French Revolution for the most part, it confines the movement as best it can within the framework of bourgeois socialism [28] or petty-bourgeois. And, as much as the movement has emulated in the world, it has never bothered to sketch an international unity. Now to oppose it, as a pledge of ’purity’, with the emblem of the red flag, while all symbols such as the vocabulary of the communist movement have passed to counter-revolution, is absurd. As for those who take the movement into consideration, they start speaking on behalf of the ’people’, while others dream of making the classes disappear or otherwise tell us that we must learn to speak to several classes at once. In short, we quickly relapse into petty-bourgeois socialism.

On Permanent Revolution

There is always a gap between will (the dynamics of movement) and consciousness. The movement is complex, multifaceted, interclassist, full of contradictions. It has evolved, under the influence of the proletariat, towards demands linked to purchasing power (presentation which leaves the possibility of an interclassist alliance) and through demands for direct democracy whose Referendum on Popular Initiative (or citizen’s) aims at political action that attacks the executive [29] and potentially can go far beyond. For the yellow vests, the representative democracy of the bourgeois republic is discredited. So much so that they do not want representatives themselves. The movement is thus calling for a direct democracy that would allow them to take up an issue. We will come back to this subject later.

For Marxism, revolution is part of a necessary process. To arrive at 1793, it is necessary to go through 1789, to arrive at October, February was necessary. This analysis, i.e. the strategy of permanent revolution, concerns not only the anti-feudal bourgeois revolution but also the democratic republic. It is always a question of pushing democracy to the end, of ensuring that the obstacles to confrontation between the proletariat and capital are as smooth as possible so as to bring out in its nakedness the relationship of exploitation, the relationship between capital and labour. For it to be the turn of the proletarian party, the other parties must have exhausted themselves in power or disregarded by being unable to deal with the questions raised by the revolutionary process [30].

Axes of Orientation

Within the axes of demands and propaganda we can put forwards:

- support for victims of police violence;

- amnesty for convicted prisoners;

- the demand for the repeal of laws that limit freedom of expression and obstruct freedom of demonstration;

- the abolition of all indirect taxes; proportional income tax; the abolition of inheritance above a certain threshold.

And to recall some points of the communist program that echo the immediate movement :

- Reconciliation of city and countryside; harmonization of population on the

territory; suppression of large cities, etc...;

- Deepening democracy;

- Need for the autonomy of the proletariat, the class political party, the conquest of political power and a proletarian government, revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat


Robin Goodfellow, March 1st 2019

[This is followed by an appendix that we do not reproduce here, IGCL’s note]

Home


Notes:

[1. Matière et révolution, La révolution française a commencé… [the French Revolution has begun… (!)], January 11th 2018, https://www.matierevolution.fr/spip.php?article5221.

[3. Our 1st Communique on the Social Revolt in France, December 2nd 2018, http://igcl.org/Communique-on-The-Social-Revolt-in.

[4. See only in French the ICP-Le Prolétaire (http://pcint.org/01_Positions/01_01_fr/190824_aluminerie-becancour.htm) : Aluminerie de Bécancour (ABI, Québec), Après 18 mois de lock-out, tirer les leçons d’une défaite.

[6. See its statement on the independance of Catalonia (not in English, we translate) : "Failing that, by remaining within the strict immediate framework of the Catalan question, the proletarian party should: within the framework of the recognition of the right of peoples to self-determination, defend the right to a free consultation of the inhabitants of Catalonia" (https://defensedumarxisme.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/sur_la_catalogne1.pdf).

[7. Although far removed at the programmatic and theoretical levels, Nuevo Curso and ’its’ political group Emancipación, which embrace the concept of Permanent Revolution, also puts forward a ’programme’ of demands independently of the course and immediate needs of the struggles.

[8. From that date on, we sought the appearance of workers’ or struggle committees that could also have defended and massively diffused a class orientation on that occasion. To our knowledge, only the group Matière ou révolution intervened, certainly by greatly overestimating this movement, calling for workers’ committees everywhere and distributing leaflets. Unfortunately, it would have been difficult for us to participate actively in it because if we could agree to "develop the autonomous organization of workers [and] build committees everywhere in companies and neighbourhoods", on the other hand, the political orientation given to them as "a means of launching such a proletarian insurrection against the attacks of the capitalists and their state" seemed to us unrealistic at best, at worst – if only because ’masses’ followed this watchword – completely adventurist and... leftist. See Yellow Vests: Workers’ Committees everywhere! (https://www.matierevolution.fr/spip.php?article5148).

[10. We must probably add, without doubt, the passage to 80km/h on the roads and the fines it will cause

[11. ’“Taxes!” Matters that interest the bourgeoisie very much, but the worker only very little. What the worker pays in taxes goes in the long run into the costs of production of labour power and must therefore be compensated for by the capitalist. All these things which are held up to us here as highly important questions for the working class are in reality of essential interest only to the bourgeoisie, and in particular to the petty bourgeoisie, and, despite Proudhon, we assert that the working class is not called upon to look after the interests of these classes" (Engels, The Housing Question, 1872, https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1872/housing-question/ch01.htm).

[12. For more details, see our text on the fiscal policy of the proletariat.

[13. For example, if we take a demand that interests the proletarian class: ’the increase of the minimum wage by 100 euros’. It only anticipates and accelerates a campaign promise that was to upgrade the SMIC [official French minimum salary] by the end of the five-year period; it includes the automatic upgrade of the SMIC scheduled for January 2019; and for the rest, it consists of an increase in the ’activity bonus’, which will cost the employers nothing (so it will be paid by tax). And this bonus does not count towards the calculation of pension entitlements. The same goes for the retreats. The reduction in the CSG [’social solidarity’ taxes] for smaller pensions leaves intact the decision to no longer index them to price increases, etc.

[16. Starting with the dismissive answers given by the government to the first claims of the yellow vests. Thus, MP Ruffin, taking up a popular sentiment, could mock: "Macron, it’s Marie-Antoinette: you can’t get your gas? Buy a new car. You can’t buy fuel oil anymore? Change your boiler!".

[17. A special mention for the ICC, which, as a good philistine moralist, condemns in particular: a) the ’moral defilement’ and the ’nauseous scent’ of the movement (https://fr.internationalism.org/content/9836/mouvement-des-gilets-jaunes-lapolitisme-danger-proletariat); b) ’urban guerrilla’ practices, doctrinally professing that certain forms of violence ’are totally ineffective and can only contribute to the escalation of violence, social chaos (sic!) and the strengthening of the police state (sic!)’ (https://fr Internationalism.org/files/fr/suppl_ri_473.pdf); c) ’the occupation of ’the most beautiful avenue in the world’, which would be the despicable expression of a petty bourgeoisie that ’dreams of rising towards the upper layers of the bourgeoisie’ and envies ’the showcase of capitalist luxury’; d) the demand for Macron’s resignation, ’symbolizing the desire to be Caliph in the place of the Caliph’ (https://fr.internationalism.org/content/9799/mouvement-des-gilets-jaunes-contre-attaques-bourgeoisie-proletariat-doit-riposter-facon).

[18. On another level, Jacline Mouraud, one of the figures in the yellow vests, announced the creation of a party.

[19. "If by chance, they are revolutionary, they are only so in view of their impending transfer into the proletariat; they thus defend not their present, but their future interests, they desert their own standpoint to place themselves at that of the proletariat" (Communist Manifesto).

[20. In its latest issue, the INSEE [the French
National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies] distinguishes within the non-employed workers (3.2 million people) the non-agricultural occupations (2.8 million). Micro-entrepreneurs represent 31% of the latter. The 1.9 million traditional non-employees are divided into 43% company managers and 57% individual entrepreneurs. The overall growth in the number of employees is due to micro-entrepreneurs whose average monthly income is €450.

[21. "More and more training organisations are asking service providers to be self-contractors" (Witness quoted by Le Monde on 31/1/2019). "More and more subcontracting work is delegated to self-contractors who find themselves at the end of the chain and earn less. It is all craftsmanship that is getting poorer" (Alain Griset, President of the Union of Local Companies, quoted by Le Monde on 31/1/2019)

[22. https://defensedumarxisme.wordpress.com /2015/09/11/telefonica-un-bilan-de-la-greve/

[23. In the United Kingdom, since the 2008 crisis, the number of self-employed entrepreneurs has risen from 3.5 to 4.8 million people. Almost half of construction workers have this status. In addition, there are one million zero-hour contracts and 800,000 temporary workers. (Le Monde, 31/01/2019)

[24. The French section of the International Workingmen Association, itself, was composed of many currents where petty-bourgeois tendencies predominated.

[25. Only the left wing of the socialist-revolutionaries, the petty-bourgeois party, will detach itself and share power with the Bolsheviks, making it abundantly clear that the government was indeed workers and peasants.

[26"We must combine the demand for the immediate seizure of the land with propaganda for the setting up of Soviets of Agricultural Labourers’ Deputies. The bourgeois-democratic revolution is completed.The agrarian programme must be carried out in a new way. (…) It is the task of Marxists to make the question of an agrarian programme clear to the peasants; the weight of emphasis on this issue must beshifted to the Soviet of Agricultural Labourers’ Deputies.We must be prepared, however, for the peasantry uniting with the bourgeoisie, just as the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies has done" (Lenin, The Petrograd City Conference of the RSDLP (Bolsheviks) April 1917) Without necessarily splitting the Soviets of Peasants’Deputies at once, the party of the proletariat must explain the need for organising separate Soviets of Agricultural Labourers’ Deputies and separate Soviets of deputies from the poor (semi-proletarian) peasants, or, at least, for holding regular separate conferences of deputies of this class status in the shape of separate groups or parties within the general Soviets of Peasants’ Deputies (Lenin, The Tasks of the Proletariat in our Revolution, April 1917). "In order that the rich peasants—who are themselves capitalists—may not wrong and deceive the agricultural labourers and the poor peasants, it will be necessary for the latter either to confer, to combine, to unite separately, or to set up Soviets of Agricultural Labourers’ Deputies of their own" (Lenin, Speech at a meeting of soldiers of the Izmailovski regiment, April 1917). "Agricultural labourers and poor peasants, i.e., those who, because of the lack of sufficient land, cattle, and implements, earn a living partly by working for hire, must strive their hardest to organise themselves independently into separate Soviets, or into separate groups within the general peasants’ Soviets, in order to protect their interests against the rich peasants, who inevitably strive towards an alliance with the capitalists and landowner" (Lenin, Draft Resolution on the Agrarian Question, 1st Congress of Peasants’ Deputies). All these quotations come from Lenin Collected Work, volume 24 : https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/cw/pdf/lenin-cw-vol-24.pdf.

[27. "The assimilation of communism and the Jew, developed by the white Russians, will also be taken up by Nazi ideology at the same time as it will push the most perceptive wing of the international bourgeoisie (including, in their own way, the Nazis) to promote Zionism in order to give a national and nationalist basis to the aspirations of the Jewish proletariat. The victory of Zionism and the consequent loss of Jewish forces from the communist movement are one of the aspects of counterrevolution" (Extract of one part of Robin Goodfellow’s article that we have ’cut’).

[28"What this reveals, on the other side, is the foolishness of those socialists (namely the French, who want to depict socialism as the realization of the ideals of bourgeois society articulated by the French revolution) who demonstrate that exchange and exchange value etc. are originally (in time) or essentially (in their adequate form) a system of universal freedom and equality, but that they have been perverted by money, capital, etc. Or, also, that history has so far failed in every attempt to implement them in their true manner, but that they have now, like Proudhon, discovered e.g. the real Jacob, and intend now to supply the genuine history of these relations in place of the fake" (K. Marx, Grundisse 1857-1858, https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/download/pdf/grundrisse.pdf).

[29. Very early on, the movement had as its motto: ’Macron resign !’. The request for a referendum must be understood as a step in the process of its revocation.

[30. "Although the German workers cannot come to power and achieve the realization of their class interests without passing through a protracted revolutionary development, this time they can at least be certain that the first act of the approaching revolutionary drama will coincide with the direct victory of their own class in France and will thereby be accelerated. But they themselves must contribute most to their final victory, by informing themselves of their own class interests, by taking up their independent political position as soon as possible, by not allowing themselves to be misled by the hypocritical phrases of the democratic petty bourgeoisie into doubting for one minute the necessity of an independently organized party of the proletariat. Their battle-cry must be: The Permanent Revolution" (K. Marx, Address of the Central Committee to the Communist League, March 1850 – https://marxists.catbull.com/archive/marx/works/1847/communist-league/1850-ad1.htm).

"During the last debate on ’the position of the German proletariat in the next revolution’, members of the minority in the central committee expressed views that directly offend those of the last circular and even the Manifesto. The international vision of the Manifesto has been replaced by the national point of view of German craftsmen. The materialistic point of view of the Manifesto has given way to idealism. Instead of real relationships, the minority prefers will alone as the driving force of the revolution
While we say to the workers: you may still have to spend another 15, 20, 50 years of civil war, not only to change existing relationships but also to change yourselves and train yourself for political domination, you, on the contrary, you tell them: we must now take power or go to bed. Just as the democrats abused the word ’people’, you use the word ’proletariat’ as a simple sentence. For this sentence to have any meaning, it would be necessary to transform all the petty bourgeois into proletarians and, consequently, to represent the petty bourgeois and not the proletarians in concrete terms. Like the democrats, you have replaced revolutionary development with sentences about revolution"
(Marx, intervention de Marx à une réunion de la ligue des communistes, 15 septembre 1850, MEGA2, I.10, p.578 ou Collected Works, t.10, p.626, translated by us since we could find this quotation on the web)

"A revolution is a long-term process: cf. 1642-1646, and 1789-1793 - and for conditions to be ripe for us and for them, all intermediate parties must still come to power one after the other, and ruin themselves. And that’s when it will be our turn - and even then we may be temporarily beaten again" (Engels, Lettre à Bernstein, 12-13 juin 1883, in La social-démocratie allemande, p.176-177, translated by us).