Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Yellow Vests: Populism and Nationalism Spreading Through Europe - By Jack Kerwick

Even though France is currently experiencing demonstrations and riots on a scale that hasn’t been seen since at least the historic year of 1968, we’ve heard relatively little about it from our media here at home.
This should suffice to elicit some measure of curiosity from the skeptical.
After all, over the last so many years, whenever France’s North African and Middle Eastern Islamic immigrants would spend a few nights burning cars and attacking police, the media, and the cable news media specifically, would expend no small measure of their time treating viewers to footage of the mayhem.
This is because such rioting served the left’s agenda, a program that consists of the promotion of massive Third World immigration into the West and that relies upon a narrative featuring white oppressors and non-white victims.  These riots could readily be spun as the consequence of unconscionable material inequality, which in turn could be interpreted as the function of the “racism” of the white oppressors.
The latest riotous demonstrations, however, are anything but friendly to most of the media’s ideology.
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In fact, the causes for the sake of which hundreds of thousands of folks throughout France have taken to the streets are all but antithetical to those which are characteristically championed by the left.  It is this that explains why the leftist media has spent precious little time attending to the demonstrations, and why what attention journalists and pundits have paid it have been accompanied by efforts to misrepresent it as something that it is not.
For starters, while it is true that demonstrators are indeed incensed over President Macron’s proposed tax on fuel, to know only this is to know next to nothing.  At the very most that anyone is justified in concluding is that this latest proposal of Macron’s is nothing more or less than the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.
The tax is especially burdensome because it adds to the exorbitant totality of taxes with which the French middle and lower classes have been saddled, taxes that are the lifeblood of an immense Welfare State, a socialist system from which significant numbers of migrants continue to benefit even as the quality of life of the indigenous French deteriorates.
There is another reason why this latest tax can’t be viewed in isolation from the larger picture to which it belongs: The tax on fuel is of a piece with Macron’s program to combat “climate change.”
By increasing the price of fuel, particularly diesel fuel, it is the objective of Macron’s government—as it is the objective of every “Green” government everywhere—to render it ever more difficult, ever more expensive, for average folks to drive their cars.  That the protestors recognize this is borne out by the fact that they call themselves the “Gilets Jaunes,” or “Yellow Vests”: French motorists are required by law to sport yellow vests while operating their vehicles.
But the fuel tax was merely the catalyst for the Yellow Vest demonstrations.  Macron, the anti-Trump over whom the global media elites swooned not very long ago, has since agreed to drop the controversial tax hike. Yet the demonstrations have only grown, proving that the ever-expanding Yellow Vest phenomenon signifies much more than a single tax.
In fact, among other things, the protesters are demanding “a tax reduction”—tax cuts—“across the board.”
A “climate change” agenda and the astronomical taxes on the working and middle classes that are required to implement it; a socialist-Welfare State (and the astronomical taxes on the working and middle classes that are required to implement it); and a system that encourages the inundation of a country with foreign peoples who not only haven’t an interest in assimilating to its traditions, but who seem to have contempt for them—these and the political elites who advocate on behalf of these things are the objects against which the Yellow Vests have spent nearly the last month rebelling.
In other words, the causes favored by the Yellow Vests sound an awful lot like one and the same causes for the sake of which Deplorables elected Donald Trump to the presidency.
Indeed, there is scarcely an item on the Yellow Vests’ latest list of demands that Trump couldn’t endorse.
Perhaps it is because of the sheer size of the protests that the left-leaning media here (and abroad) would prefer to either not talk about them or misrepresent the facts.  Or, which I think is more likely, maybe it is because the demonstrations are a violent response to essentially leftist, globalist policies that the left would prefer people not know about them.
For all of the left’s hysterics over the allegedly rising tide of “racism” and “white nationalism” that the election of Donald Trump is supposed to have unleashed, leftists know that their political opponents haven’t posed any physical threat to them. To put it simply, Republicans, conservatives, Deplorables—whatever we choose to call them—aren’t known (so far) for instigating politically-oriented violence.
People who oppose Big Government’s efforts to control its citizens via high taxes in the name of fighting “climate change” while forcing those citizens to subsidize ungrateful, frequently hostile Third World immigrants by enlarging the Welfare-State don’t typically riot, much less riot on the scale on which the Yellow Vests are rioting.
But the brute fact of the matter is that, while there are indeed leftist elements involved with the Yellow Vest demonstrations, rolling over France is a rebellion that is populist and nationalist in character.  Macron’s is the face of a leftist, globalist elite whose election was seen by his fellow supra-nationalists throughout the West as a welcome counter-response to the election of Donald Trump and Brexit.
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At the time of his election in 2017, the BBC reported:
Most of those running the EU [European Union] were breathing a sigh of relief, given [the right-wing, immigration-hawk] Ms. [Marie] Le Pen’s policies and last year’s Brexit vote.   
“Eurpean Commision chief Jean-Claude Juncker tweeted, ‘happy that the French chose a European future’ while German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Mr. Macron ‘carries the hopes of millions of French people, and of many people in Germany and the whole of Europe.’”
Macron was the “It Kid,” as far as the West’s globalists were concerned.  
Now, though, just a little more than a year after he was elected, his own people—between 70% and 80% support the Yellow Vest rebellion—want Macron gone.
It isn’t just the middle class bakers, farmers, blacksmiths, etc. who back the resistors. So too do many police officers.
The morale of the attendees at the United Nations Climate Conference, currently transpiring in Poland, has been dramatically undermined by the Yellow Vest revolt.
The spirit of the Yellow Vests is now spreading across Europe: The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and Sweden are the most recent countries in which it’s manifesting itself.
Will it spread to America? Time will tell.  But those media and political elites in America who are intent upon treating their political opponents as subhuman “deplorables” should pay meticulous attention to the events unfolding across the pond.
Reprinted with the author’s permission.
Jack Kerwick [send him mail] received his doctoral degree in philosophy from Temple University. His area of specialization is ethics and political philosophy. He is a professor of philosophy at several colleges and universities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Jack blogs at At the Intersection of Faith & Culture.
Copyright © 2018 Jack Kerwick