The movement of the Yellow Vests, despite its unpredictable and horizontal aspect, is subject to the law of cycles and ritualisation.
The current sequence, made of massive mobilisations but rather calm everywhere in France, and of sanctioned demonstrations and strongly encircled by the police force, remind us of what has already happened three times, after offensive sequences that had shaken the authorities and the media. A little reminder about the Parisian situation:
In mid-December, after several massive and insurrectional acts, the movement saw several rather “quiet” acts. This was an opportunity for the media and the power to shout at the end of the movement.
Then, as of the first Saturday of January, for Act 8, Paris saw a huge mobilisation, both in terms of the number of Yellow Vests present and the level of determination. This was, in particular, the Dettinger episode and the pallet truck. The following four Saturdays were particularly encircled, with the arrival of the first sanctioned demonstrations in the capital.
Then, in Act 13, tired of demonstrations increasingly harmless for the authorities, hundreds of Yellow Vests launch a wild demonstration lasting several hours in Paris, causing a lot of material damage around the Eiffel Tower.
The next two weekends were an opportunity for giant and mobile “nets” to come to life, where the police walk “calmly” around the Yellow Vests to prevent any wildness.
And then there was Act 16.
And here we are, at the dawn of Act 21, in a situation quite close to the previous ones: the prefecture strengthens the apparatus and prohibitions even more. The mobilisations remain massive. But the authorities, well helped by the media, continue to minimise this mobilisation and does everything to make it invisible.
In this game, the figures of the Ministry of the Interior have become totally ridiculous, and are even contradicted by the number of searches, which are higher than the (Interior Ministry’s – ed) numbers for mobilisation.
But the Yellow Vests are no longer fooled and do not even care about these announcements. Neither about the media that relay these numbers without questioning them. The mass media is complicit in a communication that has become state propaganda. It should not come as a surprise then that there is growing mistrust towards these media outlets.
There remains the strategic question about the way forward: declared manifestations, where no excesses are possible, are made totally invisible and do not inflict any real standoff on the authorities. The more insurrectional sequences have the merit of forcing the authorities and the media to put the issue of the Yellow Vests back on the table, but only through the topic of security.
The Yellow Vests, after having been despised and abused by the authorities, are no longer fooled by the reality of political and financial power relations. They will not be deceived by a “grand debate” any more than they will by advertisements of a magical cure. They will not be discouraged by the ridiculously low numbers of mobilisation announced each week by the Ministry of the Interior.
These thousands of Yellow Vests can not be fooled anymore. But what remains to be done is to ensure that the French people, who should legitimately rise and revolt, are no longer duped/deceived by these mechanisms.
We must therefore succeed in touching and talking to these millions of citizens who can be in solidarity with the movement and its demands from near and far. But how to touch them without going through the media, which relay the movement through the prism of violence? This may be due to the creation of new spaces for discussion and visibility of the movement in the places of life of the French people: work, schools, transport, but also the leisure areas (cinemas, stadiums, theaters…). This also involves claiming back our famous roundabouts. By building new huts. By the occupation of places.
In short, do not fall into the trap of actions/reactions where there would be only sequences that are reproduced in a ritualised way, either via sanctioned demonstrations or in more offensive wild manoeuvres. Let’s try things that the authorities do not expect. Let’s open up gaps, even for a few minutes, to create another reality and another possible way. Let’s deceive the system so that it can no longer deceive us.
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