France: The Spirit of 1968

France: The Spirit Of 1968
France has been rocked by nationwide demonstrations over the government’s gradual imposition of hefty fuel taxes, sparking a rowdy anti-government protest movement that evokes memories of 1968.

Most of the participants donned the bright yellow vests that all drivers are legally required to keep in their vehicles, hence why they've since been called the "yellow vests" in a slick marketing play that may or may not hint at their Color Revolution intentions. Either way, they've succeeded in catching the world's attention after thousands of them marched through Paris, burned vehicles, and were pushed back by tear gas and water cannons. What began as a revolt against the fuel tax is rapidly turning into a larger movement aimed against Macron and the general state of affairs in France today.

None of this is occurring in a vacuum either, however, since these protests are happening at a very sensitive moment in European history. The EU's de-facto ideology of EuroLiberalism is on the decline after Brexit saw the UK vote to leave the bloc early next year and Germany's Merkel is in the midst of a long political goodbye after her party's recent spree of electoral underperformances. Macron, who is suspected of having ambitions to replace Merkel as the EU's EuroLiberal leader, is now caught in a crisis entirely of his own making after raising fuel taxes to an unacceptably high level, which prompted the disaffected masses to take to the streets to vent their frustration. While the number of protesters pales in comparison to the May 1968 events in France, some similarities can still be seen.

Firstly, a diverse group of people are uniting around a common goal, one that evidently has a lot of passive support from the population. Another point of convergence is that street violence is on the rise, with some of the participants seemingly unable to restrain themselves after being caught up in the moment. This is dangerously setting into motion a series of fast-moving escalations that are turning the anti-tax protests into a sustained anti-government movement after people are questioning whether the state's heavy-handed tactics in dealing with the protesters are proportionate. In addition, just like the protesters in 1968 called for de Gaulle's resignation, some of their counterparts half a century later are asking the same of Macron.

It's still too early to say whether 2018 will become the new 1968 for France, but most observers nevertheless sense that something special is indeed happening.

Andrew Korybko is joined by Lawrence Desforges, French independent journalist who runs his own website, "globalepresse", where he publishes translations of alternative media from English to French, as well as runs interviews on the related YouTube channel, and Gilbert Mercier, author of "The Orwellian Empire", editor in chief of News Junkie Post, and geopolitical analyst.

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