Main topic

ESSAYS AND STUDIES

THE NEW CLASS STRUGGLES IN FRANCE: THE CASE OF “YELLOW VESTS”

Abstract

On November 17, 2018, one of the most successful social movements in the country’s recent history, the “Yellow Vests”, was born in France. What particularly sets it apart from any other similar movements is violence. It’s “Yellow Vests” violence towards state and economic power centers, as well as the state’s violence against the movement. Eleven dead, over four thousand lightly and more than a hundred seriously injured (seventeen of whom had injured eyes and four broken hands): this is the black balance of repression of the “Yellow Vests” for so far. The French only have distant memories of such a dramatic socio-political situation. France has not had clashes like this since the killing of Algerian students in 1961, both the results of internal divisions. Even the European Parliament condemned the disproportionate use of force and violence on February 14, 2019, as well as the use of the, otherwise prohibited, GLI-F4 demonstration shells in the rest of Europe. Meanwhile the UN has ranked police response and ensuing violence in France to be on par with events in Sudan and Zimbabwe. This situation is best illustrated when the French military took to the streets during the so-called Act XIX of the “Yellow Vests” on Saturday, March 23, 2019. In order to offer answers how can this specific movement be interpreted in the light of new class divisions in France and how does it fit into Marx’s concept of class struggle, I have identified following issues: What are the social groups that make up its core and how are they different from the traditional classes? In which social groups do we find the greatest support for the methods of fighting this movement? What are the key features of this current movement and how does it differ from previous social movements in France and, in general, contemporary social movements in Europe? What is the political articulation and political potential of the “Yellow Vests”? In this paper, relying on the results of several existing researches in France, I have shown that this movement is an expression of class divisions known in the capitalist center countries in recent decades. Therefore, the prominent class character of the protests is manifested in the fact that the activist base of “Yellow Vests” is made up of individuals coming from popular classes, mostly supported in these “strata”. Its character is largely determined by their demand for re-evaluation of work and work conditions. In addition, I have shown that this movement has both – the old and the new components, but also differs in its transgressive way of functioning as opposed to the new contestation movements. At the same time, disorganization, uncontrollable side of the movement, as well as the use of violence are the reasons why this movement is more capable of forcing the authorities to make concessions regarding the context of weak left-wing parties and trade unions.

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PERIODICS Serbian Political Thought 2/2020 2/2020 УДК 323.4(44)“2018/2020“ 275-297
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