• Number2018
    232
    France is a country where a few extraordinary western revolutions occurred.
    Nowadays, Yellow vests movement has shaken it. There are different accounts on
    the character of the movement. It was described as the angry mob's riots, the result of the virtual collapse of all traditional political parties and the breakdown of the stable social and economic networking. Another diagnosis was that a mass of people is bored so that boredom and the search for excitement are the main factors. Further, some authors represent the movement as the revival of direct democracy, direct involvement of people concerned by what matters: https://www.thenation.com/article/france-yellow-vest-movement-macron/

    Or, is there a new kind of the unknown movement of our century, so that political science needs to invent a new name and develop a definition to apprehend it?
  • Avro
    10
    It is a new movement, one that does not demand actual change but settles for "zero sum gains" at best. I agree with Zizek here... Yellow Vests have demands that cannot be met.

    Let's call then No name No Aim .... Sin nombre sin objectivo.
  • Bitter Crank
    7.2k
    The French -- or at least some French -- seem to have a history of collective action which American workers don't seem to manifest. One thinks of the much more frequent strikes in France, of student demonstrations, ands so on. I don't think the French state differs all that much from other states -- they are in business to arrange the affairs of the bourgeoisie, as Marx said -- and if they have been generous with working class benefits, well, that is probably in the past.

    Americans in the home of the brave, the land of the free are under more thorough control--not "self-control" but the external control of threatened force and deprivation of employment without a safety net. One doesn't see active resistance very often in the US. Occupy Wall Street was a good experience for participants but it wasn't active resistance. No one went out on strike, traffic was not blocked on major thoroughfares, no effort was made jam the gears of commerce, etc.

    And it isn't as if most American workers have it so good that there is no motivation to resist the Corporation and the State. Most workers are being subjected to a gradual multi-decade impoverization whose source is difficult to identify. Taxes, very weak growth in wages (or none), diminished benefits, inflation, shrinking well-paid workforce, growing low-paid service workforce, new costs (things like cable, internet, cellphone service) have been added to old costs, reduced social services, and more contribute to the significantly reduced wellbeing of American workers.

    One can hope that Americans will take a hint and follow the suit with the gilets jaunes, but I wouldn't count on it. The memory of active resistance to the power of corporation and state has, I think, become too distant for most Americans.
  • Number2018
    232

    The French -- or at least some French -- seem to have a history of collective action which American workers don't seem to manifest. One thinks of the much more frequent strikes in France, of student demonstrations, ands so on. I don't think the French state differs all that much from other states -- they are in business to arrange the affairs of the bourgeoisie, as Marx said -- and if they have been generous with working class benefits, well, that is probably in the past.Bitter Crank

    One can hope that Americans will take a hint and follow the suit with the gilets jaunes, but I wouldn't count on it. The memory of active resistance to the power of corporation and state has, I think, become too distant for most Americans.Bitter Crank

    It looks like you think that collective memories (therefore, contemporary temporalities) are the main reason as well as the explanatory model, explaining the phenomenon of Yellow vests movement. I am not sure that it is an entirely Marxist approach.
    Considering France’s May 1968 uprising, Jean Baudrillard proposed that the revolutionary event’s temporality, being mediated by mass media, loses its explosive potential:

    “The contemporary eruption of tabloid trivia and natural disaster in the political sphere (which converges with Benjamin’s notion of the graduation of the art object to the political stage by virtue of its reproducibility). There is a tidal wave in Pakistan, a black title fight in the U.S.; a youth is shot by a bistro owner, etc. These sorts of events, once minor and apolitical, suddenly find themselves invested with a power of diffusion that lends them a social and “historic” aura. New forms of political action have crystallized around this conflictualization of incidents that were hitherto consigned to the social columns. There is no doubt that, to a large extent, the new meanings they have taken on are largely the doing of the media. Such faits divers are like undeliberated “symbolic actions,” but they take part in the same process of political signification. Doubtless, their reception is ambiguous and mixed; and if, thanks to the media, the political re-emerges under the category of faits divers, thanks to the same media the category of faits divers has totally invaded politics. Furthermore, it has changed status with the extension of the mass media: from a parallel category (descended from almanacs and popular chronicles), it has it has evolved into a total system of mythological interpretation, a closed system of models of signification from which no event escapes. Mass mediatization: that is its quintessence. It is no ensemble of techniques for broadcasting messages; it is the imposition of models. McLuhan’s formula is worth re- examining here: “The medium is the message” operates a transfer of meaning onto the medium itself qua technological structure. The general strike itself, this insurrectional myth of so many generations, has become a schematic reducing agent. That of May ’68, to which the media significantly contributed by exporting the strike to all corners of France, was in appearance the culminating point of the crisis. In fact, it was the moment of its decompression, of its asphyxiation by extension, and of its defeat. To be sure, millions of workers went on strike. But no one knew what to do with this “mediatized” strike, transmitted and received as a model of action (whether via the media or the unions). Reduced to a single meaning, it neutralized the local, transversal, spontaneous forms of action (though not all). The Grenelle accords24 hardly betrayed this tendency. They sanctioned this passage to the generality of political action, which puts an end to the singularity of revolutionary action. Today it has become (in the form of the calculated extension of the strike) the absolute weapon of the unions against wildcat strikes. The general strike itself, this insurrectional myth of so many generations, has become a schematic reducing agent. That of May ’68, to which the media significantly contributed by exporting the strike to all corners of France, was in appearance the culminating point of the crisis. In fact, it was the moment of its decompression, of its asphyxiation by extension, and of its defeat. To be sure, millions of workers went on strike. But no one knew what to do with this “mediatized” strike, transmitted and received as a model of action (whether via the media or the unions). Reduced to a single meaning, it neutralized the local, transversal, spontaneous forms of action (though not all). The Grenelle accords24 hardly betrayed this tendency. They sanctioned this passage to the generality of political action, which puts an end to the singularity of revolutionary action. Today it has become (in the form of the calculated extension of the strike) the absolute weapon of the unions against wildcat strikes.”
    Nevertheless, so far, in spite of the intensive media coverage, Yellow vests movement is still alive. Has Baudrillard’s thesis become outdated?
  • Number2018
    232

    Let's call then No name No Aim .... Sin nombre sin objectivo.Avro

    Christophe Guilluy argued that there is “a new class conflict” in France. According to
    Guilluy, “No name No Aim .... Sin nombre sin objective” movement has deep cultural, economic, and political roots.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/dec/02/france-is-deeply-fractured-gilets-jeunes-just-a-symptom

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/21/how-hi-vis-yellow-vest-became-symbol-of-protest-beyond-france-gilets-jaunes

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jan/17/twilight-of-the-elites-christophe-guilluy-review
  • Bitter Crank
    7.2k
    It looks like you think that collective memories (therefore, contemporary temporalities) are the main reason as well as the explanatory model, explaining the phenomenon of Yellow vests movement. I am not sure that it is an entirely Marxist approach.Number2018

    No, no. I wasn't thinking about collective memories, contemporary temporalities (whatever that is) and so on. I only meant that people haven't recently seen a strike or a demonstration that was effective in changing things. The big strikes at GM in the 1930s actually changed things materially.. So did various other strikes at the time. The civil rights marches in the 1950s-60s resulted in some change. What people have mostly seen since the late 1960s is NO CHANGE. Take the urban black riots after Martin Luther King was assassinated, or the huge antiwar marches: Large swaths of burnt out blocks stayed empty for 30 years. or longer. The huge protests against the war were not able to achieve long-term changes in foreign policy or domestic militarism. "Gee, we've hardly fired a bullet since Vietnam!" he said sarcastically.

    Blacks rioted, whites demonstrated because they were fed up. They weren't "performing". The Gilets jaunes are fed up. Whether their protests will be as effective as they hope remains to be seen. I don't think they merely repeating things they've seen on TV.

    Demonstrations, strikes, boycotts, and so on owe their failures less to the earnestness of the people, and much more the tough resistance and power of the establishment. It has always been difficult to get a firm testicular grip on the balls of the establishment. The auto workers at GM in the 1930s succeeded in getting ahold of GM's balls by seizing control of the assembly plant--the sit-down strike. In that case, the GM and the other majors eventually caved. The same thing happened during WWII. The urgency of war production (and wartime profits -- the corporations weren't making guns and planes for free) gave unions a lot of leverage and they used it.

    All this is true as well in struggles between labor and management in small organizations, or between a neighborhood and a developer. If you can't get ahold of the boss's or developer's balls, you'll lose (and in this case, it doesn't matter whether the boss is a man or a woman). If you can, you have a chance of succeeding.

    Macron's balls? I'm not close enough to the situation.
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