As is often the case during Yellow Vests protests in Paris, the sheer contrast between a column of protestors marching through the streets denouncing capitalism and the gaze of consumerist onlookers, whether they be westernised tourists or the local bourgeoise, burns the retinas and, at least for me, makes it impossible to “unsee” what is frankly abhorrent.
In the 5 months (so far) that the Yellow Vests movement has been mobilised I have fond memories that I will never forget. Some act like balm on the soul, others invoke a severe sensation of sadness. Actually, it was the latter that made me stop watching the protests on a screen (via Ruptly mostly) and participate in them myself, in the street. During Act 13 a riot grenade was thrown at the Yellow Vests, and one protestor, not being aware that it was a GLI F4, decided to try to pick it up in order to toss it back to the police. He lost his hand as a result.
Of course, the propagandist, oligarchic media (BFM being the main offender) didn’t show the raw footage (they would have to pay royalties to Ruptly – a partner of the “evil” Russia Today – anyway), and only described the incident as a “minor wound”. This is interesting because the same neoliberal agencies spent many years selling White Helmets (Al Qaeda) propaganda videos as God’s truth. It’s strange how the boomerang returns home, right?
In terms of soul-soothing moments, I remember vividly how one Yellow Vest (I can’t remember the date exactly, but it was after February 2019) told one mother and her child, who were waiting at a crossing, that “we are doing this for you”, and the mother smiled and said “thank you”. And what the Yellow Vest said couldn’t be more true. If something isn’t done now, then the next generations will be robbed of a future before they are even born.
However, nothing that I have seen during 23 weeks of protests quite compares to what I saw during Act 23 in Paris (April 20th). Whilst going down one of the side streets on my way to Chatelet Les Halles, I simply couldn’t believe the scene that was in front of me. This is why the native Indians were exterminated? For this?
An American diner restaurant, with the Star Spangled Banner flying on both sides of the building, and a mini Statue of Liberty above the entrance. Oh, and a homeless person sleeping in the entrance! And an extra level of irony to the situation came from the fact that to my right (outside of the frame) there are 2 asian tourists taking a photograph of the “beautiful” facade, as if the human being sprawled out on the floor didn’t exist!
I saw this just after passing by Notre Dame and seeing group after group of tourists photographing the “sad tragedy”, despite the fact that 500 meters away (between Luxembourg and the Saint Michel bridge) there is this:
Of course, I didn’t see any tourists pointing their lenses at the homeless people. And why would they? Their little bubble would pop. They plug themselves into the Matrix of individualism/consumerism because it is less painful this way. Taking responsibility for both what is happening around you – and especially who is around you and how they might feel – is simply contrary to what capitalism is.
Capitalism devours. Moreover, it consumes the value of people’s labour in the hope of making a profit (increasing wealth disparity). And automation and robotisation is simply mandatory in order to milk every single cent/penny from every single second.
Capitalism creates the illusion of “freedom” and “democracy”. In reality, it is a pay-to-play system, like poker, or prostitution. People become like condoms – thrown into the trash when they can no longer be exploited. “Freedom” in Paris is the same “freedom” that field negros enjoy in plantations. They can access all acres of the cotton field, but if they dare to become “uppity” and think about escaping, they will be shot. And let’s not be hypocritical here – France, like Britain and America, brought slaves – the “fruits” of colonisation – back home so that they would do the “dirty” jobs and the “nobles” could spend more time naval gazing and contemplating their own “angst”. Go in any Parisian metro station and please examine the cleaner – I will bet you they have African roots. And do they enjoy “freedom”? Can they, for example, access the fast-track to being the CEO of a bank? Do they have fast-track access to, for example, elite education? Do they have fast-track access to, for example, bourgeoisie restaurants like Fouquet’s? There is no equality, liberty, or fraternity, and the very fact that France has adopted this slogan shows that it is indeed a bluff, since if it really existed, why is there a need to shout about it so much? It’s a bit like “democracy” – why scream about it so much if it is something commonplace and well-established? Here we can simply refer to either Brexit or RIC as examples of “democracy”. In France, “democracy” is when the airports are privatised by 7.8% of deputies in the Senate without consulting the tax payer.
Capitalism thrives off spreading total disinformation about the Soviet Union. In order to prevent the sheep – destined for the plate – from exiting the pen, there needs to be a really terrible story about a big bad wolf. Indeed, this beast will come for your “freedoms”, it will put you in “gulags” and starve you to death Holodomor-style! Just look at what Stalin Jr. is doing to the Tatar people in Crimea today!
I will just quickly mention that my relatives went to the USSR in the 1960’s and learnt firsthand that the Western media was (and I can confirm that nothing has changed today) telling a gigantic pack of lies. Actual gender equality? Yeah, the USSR had that. Education available to EVERYONE? Yeah, the USSR had that. High-quality medicine? Yeah the USSR had that. Scientific breakthroughs? Yeah, the USSR was the global leader. Oh sorry, capitalism boasts of “Femen”, Harvard University (accessible for all!), and “Obamacare” (Trump repealed most of it, but in any case – good luck calling for an ambulance if you are poor), and BigPharma (whose soul aim is to create viruses and then sell the “cure”).
And libertarians (who obsessively criticise “socialism” and “communism” in order to protect their dear capitalism) will tell me that “true capitalism” is when the banks are not bailed out and are allowed to fail. Well we have only one capitalism, and it’s the one that dropped 2 nuclear bombs on Japan. We can all use “Russell’s teapot“ to justify ourselves, but when someone says that America is a “1st world country”, they need to be prepared to explain what we see in the videos below:
One doesn’t even need to be a history geek to know that the Red Army didn’t come to France during WW2. Instead, the Americans came to Normandy and sold the “American dream” to the successors of Marie Antoinette. It’s only now, in 2018/2019, that some people in France are starting to sense that something isn’t quite right. They wear a yellow vest as a way of blowing the proverbial whistle, hoping to warn others, acting as a lighthouse in the middle of a storm.
It is just hoped that there is still enough time before the automatons that power capitalism become self-aware and activate Skynet. After all, up to now the military-industrial complex has at least pretended that there is “freedom” and “democracy”, but what happens when the sheep can prove that there is no big bad wolf?
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