Gilets Jaunes Insoumis

Back in 2010, when I learned that the EU parliament had voted for a European smoking ban, I ceased believing in the European “project”. For it seemed to me that if you deliberately organise a society to exclude large numbers of your own citizens, you have more or less guaranteed its failure. And given a high smoking prevalence in eastern and southern Europe (30% or more) , it seemed to me most likely that a smokers’ revolt against the EU would most likely start in those places, and spread elsewhere. And it would start in traditional, conservative, rural areas outside progressive, modern cities.

And to some extent it has, given the rise of populism in Poland, Hungary, Greece and now Italy.  I’ve been a bit puzzled at the absence of such populism in Spain, but this may be beginning to rectify itself.

The Socialists (PSOE) — which have ruled the southern region uninterrupted for 36 years — came in first but could lose their grip on power if parties on the right team up against them.

With over 99 percent of the ballots counted, the PSOE won 33 seats out of 109 — down 14 from the last election in 2015. The far-right Vox party won 12 seats.

And now we have the gilets jaunes/Yellow Vest insurrection in France, which seems to be a traditional, conservative, rural revolt against progressive, modern, metropolitan France.

…employment and wealth have become more and more concentrated in the big cities. The deindustrialised regions, rural areas, small and medium-size towns are less and less dynamic. But it is in these places – in “peripheral France” (one could also talk of peripheral America or peripheral Britain) – that many working-class people live.

It is in this France périphérique that the gilets jaunes movement was born. It is also in these peripheral regions that the western populist wave has its source. Peripheral America brought Trump to the White House. Peripheral Italy – mezzogiorno, rural areas and small northern industrial towns – is the source of its populist wave.

It seems that in France it has become  a revolt against the progressive, modern, metropolitan person of Emmanuel Macron.

For Emmanuel Macron seems to be the very embodiment of modern, progressive, globalist. He’s an antismoker who wants to make the French people stop smoking. He’s a global warming alarmist who wants the French to stop using both cars and nuclear power. And he’s also in favour of the Islamization of France. And he has what seems to be a profound contempt for the French people.

Since entering political life, Macron’s remarks have not only revealed a contempt for the French population, but also have multiplied. That has not helped. As early as 2014, when Macron was Minister of the Economy, he said that the women employees of a bankrupt company were “illiterates”; in June 2017, just after becoming president, he distinguished between “those who succeed and those who are nothing”. More recently, he told a young man who spoke of his distress at trying to find a job, that he only had to move and “cross the street”. During a visit to Denmark, he announced that the French were “Gauls resistant to change”.

Such contempt for their own peoples is perhaps one of the principal hallmarks of the European political class, who do not see themselves as representatives of their peoples so much as their well-educated, aristocratic superiors and guides and teachers. But in Macron this arrogance and conceit seems to be unusually overt and strident. And this may have made him into something of a lightning conductor for French grievances.

And since Macron refuses to back down in the face of this populist revolt, he may end up exacerbating matters in ways that a less confrontational politician would not. He is apparently considering declaring a state of emergency. It does not bode well for him that French police have been siding with the protests. And the protests would seem in many places to have resulted in a breakdown of free movement of goods.

Big-box retailers have been hurt by the demos and blockages throughout the country, with customers denied access to some hypermarkets and supermarkets for entire days at a time…

The impact on toll roads is harder to quantify, as demonstrators have been regularly opening them to let cars pass freely.

Whatever the outcome, it would seem that grass-root populism (it seems that the Yellow Vests have been self-organised using social media on the internet, and aren’t aligned with any political parties) has arrived in France, and is spreading elsewhere. And could well explode in the new year:

Macron has maintained that he will not back down from his progressive climate change agenda and fuel duty will rise again in the new year.

Meanwhile, at the  UN climate change summit in Poland which Macron will no doubt attend, the old guard in the form of David Attenborough have been declaring:

“Right now we are facing a manmade disaster of global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years: climate change,” he said. “If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”

Macron believes in global warming: the gilets jaunes do not.

About Frank Davis

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11 Responses to Gilets Jaunes Insoumis

  1. Frank Davis says:

    News in this morning:

    Macron Folds: France Suspends Fuel Tax Hike After “Yellow Vest” Riots

    With his popularity rating at record lows (recent polls put it at around 26%, on par with Hollande), his capital city burning and the populists he defeated during his stunning electoral victory last year making serious electoral inroads, French President Emmanuel Macron finally caved, and on Tuesday ordered a six month suspension of planned ‘fuel taxes’ which spurred widespread and destructive protests across France over the past three weeks.

    After reportedly weighing declaring a state of emergency that would have cleared the way for an unprecedented crackdown on dissent, Macron decided that such measures would only intensify the popular opposition to his government. And according to Reuters, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has declared a suspension of the staggeringly unpopular tax.

  2. RdM says:

    And next, about time, popular revolt against utterly excessive extortionate tobacco taxes?

  3. Grumbler of KIlljoys says:

    Is “peripheral France” Overseas France? They are full parts of France but are mainly black or brown, fulfilling a fair bit of France’s ethnic minorities?

    For “peripheral Britain” you’d mainly think Scotland and Northern Ireland.

    • Frank Davis says:

      There is a motorway that around Paris called the Peripherique. So what is meant by “peripheral” France is France outside the Peripherique. It’s the same as being inside or outside the Washington beltway.

  4. smokingscot says:

    Surprised to see that your view that there’s a degree of regret (or at least a realisation that the unintended consequences do of themselves have a massive ripple effect) is shared in an unlikely source.

  5. Roobeedoo2 says:

    How long before the act of smoking is completely removed from movies?

  6. Smoking Lamp says:

    Slightly O/T regarding shaping perceptions through propaganda for social control: Phrases like ‘bring home the bacon’ could be banned to ‘avoid offending vegans’,” at

  7. Lepercolonist says:

    Too much heat in the streets for Macron.

  8. Joe L. says:

    OT: First we were told by “experts” that there is “no safe level” of secondhand smoke. More recently, “experts” decided there is also “no safe level” of alcohol consumption. It was only a matter of time before some “experts” applied the same fearmongering propaganda template to “unhealthy” foods:

    Eat more than 6 French fries and risk your life, expert says

    Nobody needs an expert to tell us that French fries are unhealthy, but professor Eric Rimm at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health is trying to ruin them for us anyway.

    There really is no healthy amount to be had, according to Rimm, who calls fries a “starch bomb.” But — if you must — he suggests just six measly spud sticks.

    “There aren’t a lot of people who are sending back three-quarters of an order of French fries,” Rimm told The New York Times. “I think it would be nice if your meal came with a side salad and six French fries.”

    Potatoes, especially those dunked and cooked in hot oil, have been linked to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. A study published last year in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that those who ate fried potatoes two to three times a week were at a higher risk of mortality than those who ate their potatoes in other ways.

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