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  • Les #gilets_jaunes vus de New York...

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    Driving was already expensive in France when in January 2018 the government of President Emmanuel Macron imposed a tax that raised the price of diesel fuel by 7.6 centimes per liter and of gasoline by 3.8 centimes (about 9 and 4 cents, respectively); further increases were planned for January 2019. The taxes were an attempt to cut carbon emissions and honor the president’s lofty promise to “Make Our Planet Great Again.”

    Priscillia Ludosky, then a thirty-two-year-old bank employee from the Seine-et-Marne department outside Paris, had no choice but to drive into the city for work every day, and the cost of her commute was mounting. “When you pay regularly for something, it really adds up fast, and the increase was enormous,” she told me recently. “There are lots of things I don’t like. But on that I pushed.” In late May 2018, she created a petition on Change.org entitled Pour une Baisse des Prix du Carburant à la Pompe! (For a reduction of fuel prices at the pump!)

    Over the summer Ludosky’s petition—which acknowledged the “entirely honorable” aim of reducing pollution while offering six alternative policy suggestions, including subsidizing electric cars and encouraging employers to allow remote work—got little attention. In the fall she tried again, convincing a radio host in Seine-et-Marne to interview her if the petition garnered 1,500 signatures. She posted that challenge on her Facebook page, and the signatures arrived in less than twenty-four hours. A local news site then shared the petition on its own Facebook page, and it went viral, eventually being signed by over 1.2 million people.

    Éric Drouet, a thirty-three-year-old truck driver and anti-Macron militant also from Seine-et-Marne, created a Facebook event for a nationwide blockade of roads on November 17 to protest the high fuel prices. Around the same time, a fifty-one-year-old self-employed hypnotherapist named Jacline Mouraud recorded herself addressing Macron for four minutes and thirty-eight seconds and posted the video on Facebook. “You have persecuted drivers since the day you took office,” she said. “This will continue for how long?” Mouraud’s invective was viewed over six million times, and the gilets jaunes—the yellow vests, named for the high-visibility vests that French drivers are required to keep in their cars and to wear in case of emergency—were born.

    Even in a country where protest is a cherished ritual of public life, the violence and vitriol of the gilets jaunes movement have stunned the government. Almost immediately it outgrew the issue of the carbon taxes and the financial burden on car-reliant French people outside major cities. In a series of Saturday demonstrations that began in mid-November and have continued for three months, a previously dormant anger has erupted. Demonstrators have beaten police officers, thrown acid in the faces of journalists, and threatened the lives of government officials. There has been violence on both sides, and the European Parliament has condemned French authorities for using “flash-ball guns” against protesters, maiming and even blinding more than a few in the crowds. But the gilets jaunes have a flair for cinematic destruction. In late November they damaged parts of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris; in early January they commandeered a forklift and rammed through the heavy doors of the ministry of state—the only time in the history of the Fifth Republic that a sitting minister had to be evacuated from a government building.

    The gilets jaunes are more than a protest. This is a modern-day jacquerie, an emotional wildfire stoked in the provinces and directed against Paris and, most of all, the elite. French history since 1789 can be seen as a sequence of anti-elite movements, yet the gilets jaunes have no real precedent. Unlike the Paris Commune of 1871, this is a proletarian struggle devoid of utopian aspirations. Unlike the Poujadist movement of the mid-1950s—a confederation of shopkeepers likewise opposed to the “Americanization” of a “thieving and inhuman” state and similarly attracted to anti-Semitic conspiracy theories—the gilets jaunes include shopkeepers seemingly content to destroy shop windows. There is an aspect of carnival here: a delight in the subversion of norms, a deliberate embrace of the grotesque.

    Many have said that the gilets jaunes are merely another “populist movement,” although the term is now so broad that it is nearly meaningless. Comparisons have been made to the Britain of Brexit, the United States of Donald Trump, and especially the Italy of Cinque Stelle. But the crucial difference is that the gilets jaunes are apolitical, and militantly so. They have no official platform, no leadership hierarchy, and no reliable communications. Everyone can speak for the movement, and yet no one can. When a small faction within it fielded a list of candidates for the upcoming European parliamentary elections in May, their sharpest opposition came from within: to many gilets jaunes, the ten who had put their names forward—among them a nurse, a truck driver, and an accountant—were traitors to the cause, having dared to replicate the elite that the rest of the movement disdains.

    Concessions from the government have had little effect. Under mounting pressure, Macron was forced to abandon the carbon tax planned for 2019 in a solemn televised address in mid-December. He also launched the so-called grand débat, a three-month tour of rural France designed to give him a better grasp of the concerns of ordinary people. In some of these sessions, Macron has endured more than six hours of bitter criticisms from angry provincial mayors. But these gestures have quelled neither the protests nor the anger of those who remain in the movement. Performance is the point. During the early “acts,” as the weekly demonstrations are known, members refused to meet with French prime minister Édouard Philippe, on the grounds that he would not allow the encounter to be televised, and that sentiment has persisted. Perhaps the most telling thing about the gilets jaunes is the vest they wear: a symbol of car ownership, but more fundamentally a material demand to be seen.

    Inequality in France is less extreme than in the United States and Britain, but it is increasing. Among wealthy Western countries, the postwar French state—l’État-providence—is something of a marvel. France’s health and education systems remain almost entirely free while ranking among the best in the world. In 2017 the country’s ratio of tax revenue to gross domestic product was 46.2 percent, according to statistics from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)—the highest redistribution level of any OECD country and a ratio that allows the state to fight poverty through a generous social protection system. Of that 46.2 percent, the French government allocated approximately 28 percent for social services.

    “The French social model is so integrated that it almost seems a natural, preexisting condition,” Alexis Spire, a sociologist of inequality at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, told me recently. A number of the gilets jaunes I met said that despite the taxes they pay, they do not feel they benefit from any social services, since they live far from urban centers. But anyone who has ever received housing assistance, a free prescription, or sixteen weeks of paid maternity leave has benefited from the social protection system. The effect of redistribution is often invisible.

    And yet the rich in France have gotten much richer. Between 1983 and 2015, the vast majority of incomes in France rose by less than one percent per year, while the richest one percent of the population saw their incomes rise by 100 percent after taxes. According to World Bank statistics, the richest 20 percent now earns nearly five times as much as the bottom 20 percent. This represents a stark shift from the Trente Glorieuses, France’s thirty-year economic boom after World War II. As the economist Thomas Piketty has pointed out, between 1950 and 1983, most French incomes rose steadily by approximately 4 percent per year; the nation’s top incomes rose by only one percent.

    What has become painfully visible, however, is the extent of the country’s geographical fractures. Paris has always been the undisputed center of politics, culture, and commerce, but France was once also a country that cherished and protected its vibrant provincial life. This was la France profonde, a clichéd but genuinely existing France of tranquil stone villages and local boulangeries with lines around the block on Sundays. “Douce France, cher pays de mon enfance,” goes the beloved song by the crooner Charles Trenet. “Mon village, au clocher aux maisons sages.” These days, the maisons sages are vacant, and the country boulangeries are closed.

    The story is familiar: the arrival of large multinational megastores on the outskirts of provincial French towns and cities has threatened, and in many cases asphyxiated, local businesses.1 In the once-bustling centers of towns like Avignon, Agen, Calais, and Périgueux, there is now an eerie quiet: windows are often boarded up, and fewer and fewer people are to be found. This is the world evoked with a melancholy beauty in Nicolas Mathieu’s novel Leurs enfants après eux, which won the Prix Goncourt, France’s most prestigious literary prize, in 2018.

    The expansion since the 1980s of France’s high-speed rail network has meant that the country’s major cities are all well connected to Paris. But there are many small towns where the future never arrived, where abandoned nineteenth-century train stations are now merely places for teenagers to make out, monuments of the way things used to be. In these towns, cars are the only way people can get to work. I met a fifty-five-year-old truck and taxi driver named Marco Pavan in the Franche-Comté in late November. What he told me then—about how carbon taxes can seem like sneers from the Parisian elite—has stayed with me. “Ask a Parisian—for him none of this is an issue, because he doesn’t need a car,” Pavan said. “There’s no bus or train to take us anywhere. We have to have a car.” I cited that remark in a Washington Post story I filed from Besançon; in the online comments section, many attacked the movement for what they saw as a backward anti-environmentalism—missing his point.

    Few have written as extensively as the French geographer Christophe Guilluy on la France périphérique, a term he popularized that refers both to the people and the regions left behind by an increasingly globalized economy. Since 2010, when he published Fractures françaises, Guilluy has been investigating the myths and realities of what he calls “the trompe l’oeil of a peaceful, moderate, and consensual society.” He is one of a number of left-wing French intellectuals—among them the novelist Michel Houellebecq, the historian Georges Bensoussan, and the essayist Michel Onfray—who in recent years have argued that their beloved patrie has drifted into inexorable decline, a classic critique of the French right since 1789. But Guilluy’s decline narrative is different: he is not as concerned as the others with Islamist extremism or “decadence” broadly conceived. For him, France’s decline is structural, the result of having become a place where “the social question disappears.”

    Guilluy, born in Montreuil in 1964, is something of a rarity among well-known French intellectuals: he is a product of the Paris suburbs, not of France’s storied grandes écoles. And it is clear that much of his critique is personal. As a child, Guilluy, whose family then lived in the working-class Paris neighborhood of Belleville, was forcibly relocated for a brief period to the heavily immigrant suburb of La Courneuve when their building was slated to be demolished in the midst of Paris’s urban transformation. “I saw gentrification firsthand,” he told Le Figaro in 2017. “For the natives—the natives being just as much the white worker as the young immigrant—what provoked the most problems was not the arrival of Magrebis, but that of the bobos.”

    This has long been Guilluy’s battle cry, and he has focused his intellectual energy on attacking what he sees as the hypocrisy of the bobos, or bourgeois bohemians. His public debut was a short 2001 column in Libération applying that term, coined by the columnist David Brooks, to French social life. What was happening in major urban centers across the country, he wrote then, was a “ghettoization by the top of society” that excluded people like his own family.

    Guilluy crystallized that argument in a 2014 book that won him the ear of the Élysée Palace and regular appearances on French radio. This was La France périphérique: comment on a sacrifié les classes populaires, in which he contended that since the mid-1980s, France’s working classes have been pushed out of the major cities to rural communities—a situation that was a ticking time bomb—partly as a result of rising prices. He advanced that view further in 2016 with La Crépuscule de la France d’en haut—now translated into English as Twilight of the Elites: Prosperity, the Periphery, and the Future of France—a pithy screed against France’s bobo elite and what he sees as its shameless embrace of a “neoliberal,” “Americanized society” and a hollow, feel-good creed of multicultural tolerance. In 2018, one month before the rise of the gilets jaunes, he published No Society, whose title comes from Margaret Thatcher’s 1987 comment that “there is no such thing as society.”

    In Guilluy’s view, an immigrant working class has taken the place of the “native” working class in the banlieues on the outskirts of major cities. This native class, he argues, has been scattered throughout the country and become an “unnoticed presence” that France’s elite has “made to disappear from public consciousness” in order to consolidate its grip on power. Cities are now the exclusive preserve of the elites and their servants, and what Guilluy means by “no society” is that the visible signs of class conflict in urban daily life have vanished. This is his trompe l’oeil: rich, insulated Parisians have convinced themselves that everything is fine, while those who might say otherwise are nowhere near. “The simmering discontent of rural France has never really been taken seriously,” he writes in Twilight of the Elites.

    Since November, much of the French press has declared that Guilluy essentially predicted the rise of the gilets jaunes. They seem, after all, a fulfillment of his prophecy about “the betrayal of the people” by the elites, even if he is always elusive about who exactly “the people” are. While critiques from the movement have remained a confused cloud of social media invective, Guilluy has served as its de facto interpreter.

    No Society puts into words what many in the gilets jaunes have either struggled or refused to articulate. This is the hazy middle ground between warning and threat: “The populist wave coursing through the western world is only the visible part of a soft power emanating from the working classes that will force the elites to rejoin the real movement of society or else to disappear.”

    For now, however, there is just one member of the elite whom the gilets jaunes wish would disappear, and calls for his violent overthrow continue even as the movement’s momentum subsides.

    An intense and deeply personal hatred of Macron is the only unifying cry among the gilets jaunes. Eighteen months before the uprising began, this was the man who captured the world’s imagination and who, after populist victories in Britain and the United States, had promised a French “Third Way.” Yet the Macronian romance is already over, both at home and abroad.

    To some extent, the French always turn against their presidents, but the anger Macron elicits is unique. This is less because of any particular policy than because of his demeanor and, most of all, his language. “Mr. Macron always refused to respond to us,” Muriel Gautherin, fifty-three, a podiatrist who lives in the Paris suburbs, told me at a December march on the Champs-Élysées. “It’s he who insults us, and he who should respond.” When I asked her what she found most distasteful about the French president, her answer was simple: “His words.”

    She has a point. Among Macron’s earliest actions as president was to shave five euros off the monthly stipends of France’s Aide personalisée au logement (APL), the country’s housing assistance program. Around the same time, he slashed France’s wealth tax on those with a net worth of at least €1.3 million—a holdover from the Mitterand era.

    Macron came to office with a record of unrelentingly insulting the poor. In 2014, when he was France’s economic minister, he responded to the firing of nine hundred employees (most of them women) from a Breton slaughterhouse by noting that some were “mostly illiterate.” In 2016 he was caught on camera in a heated dispute with a labor activist in the Hérault. When the activist gestured to Macron’s €1,600 suit as a symbol of his privilege, the minister said, “The best way to afford a suit is to work.” In 2018 he told a young, unemployed gardener that he could find a new job if he merely “crossed the street.”

    Yet nothing quite compares to the statement Macron made in inaugurating Station F, a startup incubator in the thirteenth arrondissement of Paris, housed in a converted rail depot. It is a cavernous consulate for Silicon Valley, a soaring glass campus open to all those with “big ideas” who can also pay €195 a month for a desk and can fill out an application in fluent English. (“We won’t consider any other language,” the organization’s website says.) Google, Amazon, and Microsoft all have offices in it, and in a city of terrible coffee, the espresso is predictably fabulous. In June 2017 Macron delivered a speech there. “A train station,” he said, referring to the structure’s origins, “it’s a place where we encounter those who are succeeding and those who are nothing.”

    This was the moment when a large percentage of the French public learned that in the eyes of their president, they had no value. “Ceux qui ne sont rien” is a phrase that has lingered and festered. To don the yellow vest is thus to declare not only that one has value but also that one exists.

    On the whole, the gilets jaunes are not the poorest members of French society, which is not surprising. As Tocqueville remarked, revolutions are fueled not by those who suffer the most, but by those whose economic status has been improving and who then experience a sudden and unexpected fall. So it seems with the gilets jaunes: most live above the poverty line but come from the precarious ranks of the lower middle class, a group that aspires to middle-class stability and seeks to secure it through palliative consumption: certain clothing brands, the latest iPhone, the newest television.

    In mid-December Le Monde profiled a young couple in the movement from Sens in north-central France, identified only as Arnaud and Jessica. Both twenty-six, they and their four children live in a housing project on the €2,700 per month that Arnaud earns as a truck driver, including more than €1,000 in government assistance. According to statistics from France’s Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques (Insée), this income places them right at the poverty line for a family of this size, and possibly even slightly below it. But the expenses Arnaud and Jessica told Le Monde they struggled to pay included karate lessons for their oldest son and pet supplies for their dog. Jessica, who does not work, told Le Monde, “Children are so mean to each other if they wear lesser brands. I don’t want their friends to make fun of them.” She said she had traveled to Paris for gilet jaune protests on three separate weekends—journeys that presumably cost her money.

    Readers of Le Monde—many of them educated, affluent, and pro-Macron—were quick to attack Arnaud and Jessica. But the sniping missed their point, which was that they felt a seemingly inescapable sense of humiliation, fearing ridicule everywhere from the Élysée Palace to their children’s school. They were explaining something profound about the gilets jaunes: the degree to which the movement is fueled by unfulfilled expectations. For many demonstrators, life is simply not as they believed it would be, or as they feel they deserve. There is an aspect of entitlement to the gilets jaunes, who are also protesting what the French call déclassement, the increasing elusiveness of the middle-class dream in a society in which economic growth has not kept pace with population increase. This entitlement appears to have alienated the gilets jaunes from immigrants and people of color, who are largely absent from their ranks and whose condition is often materially worse.2 “It’s not people who don’t have hope anymore, who don’t have a place to live, or who don’t have a job,” Rokhaya Diallo, a French activist for racial equality, told me recently, describing the movement. “It’s just that status they’re trying to preserve.”

    The gilets jaunes have no substantive ideas: resentment does not an ideology make. They remain a combustible vacuum, and extremist agitators on the far right and the far left have sought to capitalize on their anger. Both Marine Le Pen of the recently renamed Rassemblement National and Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the left-wing La France Insoumise have tried hard to channel the movement’s grassroots energy into their own political parties, but the gilets jaunes have so far resisted these entreaties. The gilets jaunes also found themselves at the center of a diplomatic spat: in early February Italy’s deputy prime minister, Luigi Di Maio, met with two of their members on the outskirts of Paris in a jab at Macron. Two days later, France withdrew its ambassador to Rome for the first time since 1940, but the gilets jaunes have not attempted to exploit this attention for their own political gain. Instead there was infighting—a Twitter war over who had the right to represent the cause abroad and who did not.

    The intellectual void at the heart of an amorphous movement can easily fill with the hatred of an “other.” That may already be happening to the gilets jaunes. Although a careful analysis by Le Monde concluded that race and immigration were not major concerns in the two hundred most frequently shared messages on gilet jaune Facebook pages between the beginning of the movement and January 22, a number of gilets jaunes have been recorded on camera making anti-Semitic gestures, insulting a Holocaust survivor on the Paris metro, and saying that journalists “work for the Jews.” Importantly, the gilets jaunes have never collectively denounced any of these anti-Semitic incidents—a silence perhaps inevitable for a movement that eschews organization of any kind. Likewise, a thorough study conducted by the Paris-based Fondation Jean Jaurès has shown the extent to which conspiracy theories are popular in the movement: 59 percent of those surveyed who had participated in a gilet jaune demonstration said they believed that France’s political elites were encouraging immigration in order to replace them, and 50 percent said they believed in a global “Zionist” conspiracy.

    Members of the movement are often quick to point out that the gilets jaunes are not motivated by identity politics, and yet anyone who has visited one of their demonstrations is confronted with an undeniable reality. Far too much attention has been paid to the symbolism of the yellow vests and far too little to the fact that the vast majority of those who wear them are lower-middle-class whites. In what is perhaps the most ethnically diverse society in Western Europe, can the gilets jaunes truly be said to represent “the people,” as the members of the movement often claim? Priscillia Ludosky, arguably the first gilet jaune, is a black woman. “It’s complicated, that question,” she told me. “I have no response.”

    The gilets jaunes are also distinctly a minority of the French population: in a country of 67 million, as many as 282,000 have demonstrated on a single day, and that figure has consistently fallen with each passing week, down to 41,500 during “Act 14” of the protest on February 16. On two different weekends in November and December, other marches in Paris—one for women’s rights, the other against climate change—drew far bigger crowds than the gilets jaunes did. But the concerns of this minority are treated as universal by politicians, the press, and even the movement’s sharpest critics. Especially after Trump and Brexit, lower-middle-class and working-class whites command public attention even when they have no clear message.

    French citizens of color have been protesting social inequality for years without receiving any such respect. In 2005 the killing of two minority youths by French police in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois ignited a string of violent uprisings against police brutality, but the government declared an official state of emergency instead of launching a grand débat. In 2009, the overseas departments of Guadeloupe and Martinique saw a huge strike against the high cost of living—a forty-four-day uprising that also targeted fuel prices and demanded an increase to the minimum wage. In 2017 an almost identical protest occurred in French Guiana, another French overseas department, where residents demonstrated against household goods that were as much as 12 percent more expensive than they were in mainland France, despite a lower minimum wage. The French government was slow to respond in both of these instances, while the concerns of the gilets jaunes have resulted in a personal apology from the president and a slew of concessions.

    Guilluy, whose analysis of la France périphérique ultimately fails to grapple significantly with France’s decidedly peripheral overseas territories, does not shy away from the question of identity. He sees a racial element to the frustrations of la France périphérique, but he does not see this as a problem. Some of the most frustrating moments in his work come when he acknowledges but refuses to interrogate white working-class behavior that seems to be racially motivated. “Public housing in outlying communities is now a last resort for workers hoping to be able to go on living near the major cities,” he writes in Twilight of the Elites, describing the recent astronomic rise in France’s urban real estate prices. “These projects, mostly occupied by immigrant renters, are avoided by white French-born workers. Barring some utterly unforeseeable turn of events, their expulsion from the largest urban centers will be irreversible.” It would not diminish Guilluy’s broader point about la France périphérique if he acknowledged that victims of structural changes can also be intolerant.

    Guilluy also regularly recycles anxieties over immigration, often from controversial theorists such as Michèle Tribalat, who is associated with the idea of le grand remplacement, the alleged “great replacement” of France’s white population by immigrants from North and Sub-Saharan Africa. In making his case about “the demographic revolution in process,” Guilluy has been accused of inflating his statistics. France, he wrote in Fractures françaises, “welcomes a little less than 200,000 legal foreigners every year.” But these claims were attacked by Patrick Weil, a leading French historian of immigration, who noted in his book Le sens de la République (2015) that Guilluy failed to consider that a large number of those 200,000 are temporary workers, students who come and go, and others of “irregular” status. Guilluy has not responded to these criticisms, and in any case his rhetoric has since grown more radical. In No Society he writes, “Multiculturalism is, intrinsically, a feeble ideology that divides and weakens.”

    Whether the gilets jaunes will eventually come to agree with him is a crucial question. Like Guilluy, they are responding to real social conditions. But if, following Guilluy’s lead, they ultimately resort to the language of race and ethnicity to explain their suffering, they will have chosen to become a different movement altogether, one in which addressing inequality was never quite the point. In some ways, they have already crossed that line.

    On the afternoon of Saturday, February 16, the prominent French intellectual Alain Finkielkraut got out of a taxi on the Boulevard Montparnasse. A crowd of gilets jaunes noticed him and began hurling anti-Semitic insults. The scene, recorded on video, was chilling: in the center of Paris, under a cloudless sky, a mob of visibly angry men surrounded a man they knew to be Jewish, called him a “dirty Zionist,” and told him, “go back to Tel Aviv.”

    Finkielkraut’s parents were Polish refugees from the Holocaust. He was born in Paris in 1949 and has become a fixture in French cultural life, a prolific author, a host of a popular weekly broadcast on France Culture, and a member of the Académie Française, the country’s most elite literary institution. In the words of Macron, who immediately responded to the attack, he “is not only an eminent man of letters but the symbol of what the Republic affords us all.” The irony is that Finkielkraut—another former leftist who believes that France has plunged into inexorable decline and ignored the dangers of multiculturalism—was one of the only Parisian intellectuals who had supported the gilets jaunes from the beginning.

    I spoke to Finkielkraut after the attack, and he explained that the gilets jaunes had seemed to him the evidence of something authentic. “I saw an invisible France, neglected and forgotten,” he said. “Wearing fluorescent yellow vests in order to be visible—of being a ‘somewhere’ as opposed to an ‘anywhere,’ as Goodhart has said—seemed to me an absolutely legitimate critique.” The British journalist David Goodhart, popular these days in French right-wing circles, is the author of The Road to Somewhere (2017), which sees populist anger as the inevitable response to the widening gulf between those “rooted” in a particular place and cosmopolitans at home anywhere. “France is not a ‘start-up nation,’” Finkielkraut told me. “It can’t be reduced to that.”

    Finkielkraut said that the attack was a sign that the reasonable critiques orginally made by the gilets jaunes had vanished, and that they had no real future. “I think the movement is in the process of degradation. It’s no longer a social movement but a sect that has closed in on itself, whose discourse is no longer rational.”

    Although the Paris prosecutor has opened an investigation into his attackers, Finkielkraut has not pressed charges. He told me that the episode, as violent as it was, did not necessarily suggest that all those who had worn yellow vests in recent months were anti-Semites or extremists. “Those who insulted me were not the nurses, the shopkeepers, or the small business owners,” he said, noting that he doubted he would have experienced the same prejudice at the roundabouts, the traffic circles across the country where gilets jaunes protesters gathered every Saturday. In a sense, these were the essence of the movement, which was an inchoate mobilization against many things, but perhaps none so much as loneliness. The roundabouts quickly became impromptu piazzas and a means, however small, of reclaiming a spirit of community that disappeared long ago in so many French towns and villages.

    In Paris, where the remaining gilets jaunes have now focused most of their energy, the weekly protests have become little more than a despicable theater filled with scenes like the attack on Finkielkraut. There is no convincing evidence that those still wearing yellow vests are troubled by the presence of bigotry in their ranks. What is more, many gilets jaunes now seem to believe that pointing out such prejudice is somehow to become part of a government-backed conspiracy to turn public opinion against them.

    Consider, for instance, a February 19 communiqué released in response to the attack on Finkielkraut from La France en Colère, one of the movement’s main online bulletins. “For many days, the government and its friends in the national media seem to have found a new technique for destabilizing public opinion and discrediting the Gilets Jaunes movement,” it begins. “We denounce the accusations and the manipulations put in place by this government adept at fake news.” But this is all the communiqué denounces; it does not address the anti-Semitic violence to which Finkielkraut was subjected, nor does it apologize to a national figure who had defended the movement when few others of his prominence dared to do the same.

    A month after our last conversation, I called Priscillia Ludosky back, to see if she had any reaction to the recent turn of events in the movement her petition had launched. She was only interested in discussing what she called the French government’s “systematic abuse to manipulate public opinion.” She also believes that a government-media conspiracy will stop at nothing to smear the cause. “If there was one person who ever said something homophobic, it was on the front page of every newspaper,” she told me.

    In the days after the attack, Finkielkraut lamented not so much the grim details of what had happened but the squandered potential of a moment that has increasingly descended into paranoid feverishness. As he told me: “This was a beautiful opportunity to reflect on who we are that’s been completely ruined.”

    https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2019/03/21/low-visibility-france-gilet-jaunes


  • Michel Wieviorka pour le NYT

    Opinion | There Really Is a French Exception - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/15/opinion/macron-gilets-jaunes-debate.html


    Ian Langsdon/EPA, via Shutterstock

    But will the government rise to the occasion created by the Gilets jaunes movement?
    […]
    But it’s worth noting that the government hardly set up any meetings or direct exchanges with the Gilets jaunes as such. Instead of reaching out to them, Mr. Macron preferred to engage with local officials or other ordinary citizens.

    Nor has the great debate spawned any real representatives among the Gilets jaunes — a vacuum that makes concrete negotiations difficult. The movement’s very nature contributed to this, of course, since time and again the Gilets jaunes themselves pushed back against any attempt to structure or formalize their efforts. For a brief moment there seemed to be an impulse to create a political party from the movement or at least let emerge some official spokespeople. But that no longer seems remotely possible.

    Mr. Macron, even when faced with the breakdown of the political system itself, has continued to tackle problems from the top down and without resorting to intermediaries. Instead of moving away from this vertical approach, he has exploited it. His only credible political opponents now are parties at the extremes, on the far left (Jean-Luc Mélenchon and La France Insoumise) and the far right (Marine Le Pen and le Rassemblement National). According to polls, the president’s party is leading the race for the European elections.

    Was all this a strategic calculation? Quite probably. In any event, the situation today is a far cry from auguring the renewal of this democratic system. The most that has emerged so far is a handful of proposals from civil society — for example, the program for a greener economy jointly put forward by Nicolas Hulot, a former environment minister, and Laurent Berger, the head of France’s leading (and reformist) union, the Confédération française démocratique du travail (the French Democratic Confederation of Labor).

    France, unlike other countries, has been fortunate enough to experience a popular upheaval that has raised serious economic, social and institutional questions. Elsewhere — in Britain, the United States, Italy, Poland, Hungary — the discontent immediately lapsed into populism, nationalism or withdrawal. But if the French government doesn’t adequately address the legitimate, or at least reasonable, concerns of the Gilets jaunes, it runs the risk of pushing them, as well as other French people, toward the pitfalls France has avoided so far.


  • Why Germany has no gilet jaunes protesters - Happy Helmuts
    https://www.economist.com/europe/2019/02/09/why-germany-has-no-gilet-jaunes-protesters

    Germany should not consider itself immune to such problems, argues Marcel Fratzscher of the German Institute for Economic Research. Beneath its glowing jobs numbers lurk growing inequality and a vast low-pay sector, nurtured by a long period of wage suppression. Germany has gained more from globalisation than it has lost; you can see that in Big Dutchman’s logistics yard, full of packages destined for Senegal and Chile. But regions that specialised in low-end products like ceramics or textiles, such as upper Franconia or parts of the Palatinate, were walloped by cheap imports in the 1990s. Policy can hurt places, too: the government may have to spend €40bn to compensate regions affected by its recent decision to scrap lignite mining.

    Yet there is no obvious parallel in Germany to the insecure, “peripheral” France of the gilets jaunes. Hidden champions create jobs and opportunities far from cities, limiting the brain drain. Local politicians are more responsive to voters’ demands than Jupiterian presidents in distant capitals. In troubled areas, Germany’s constitutionally mandated system of fiscal transfers across states can smooth globalisation’s rougher edges. Jens Südekum, an economist at Düsseldorf’s Heinrich Heine University, calculates that in 2010 such payments amounted to fully 12.4% of Germany’s aggregate tax revenue. Cities like Duisburg and Essen, in the post-industrial Ruhr valley, have been spared the ravages that deindustrialisation brought to parts of America’s Midwest or the Pas-de-Calais region in northern France, now a stronghold of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally. Comparable parts of Germany have not made a comparable populist turn. Indeed, researchers find no clear correlation between AfD support and economic hardship.

    The big caveat is the former East Germany. Despite success in isolated areas like optics, only a fraction of Mr Simon’s hidden champions are found in the east. After reunification the mass sell-off of industry, largely to western investors, left easterners with what Mr Südekum calls a “deep perception that they were ripped off”, which lingers today. Extremist parties do best in the five eastern states. Dresden and Chemnitz have spawned thuggish protests.

    Moreover, the trends that mark Germany out from its industrialised peers are not immutable. Automation will cut into manufacturing’s share of the workforce, and Germany’s mighty carmakers seem ill-prepared for the disruption of self-driving and electric vehicles. Despite the hidden champions’ success, urbanisation continues apace, as rocketing house prices in large cities indicate. Vechta is keeping its natives, but attracting new talent is hard when the competition is Berlin.

    #Allemagne #gilets_jaunes


  • Generation Hate: French far right’s violence and racism exposed

    Al Jazeera investigation reveals Generation Identity members carrying out racist attacks, making Nazi salutes in Lille.

    It was the first weekend of 2018 and Remi Falize was hungry for a fight.

    The 30-year-old far-right activist, who previously said his dying wish was to kill Muslims in the northern city of Lille, took out a pair of black plastic-reinforced leather gloves.

    “Here, my punching gloves, just in case,” he told his friends in a secretly filmed conversation. “We are not here to get f**ked about. We are in France, for f**k’s sake.”

    Falize found his fight towards the end of the night.

    Around 1am, outside the O’Corner Pub in Lille’s main nightlife strip, a group of teenagers approached Falize and his friends. One asked for a cigarette. Suddenly, Falize’s friend pushed him and the doorman at the bar was pepper-spraying the teenagers.

    “I swear to Mecca, don’t hit me,” one girl in the group pleaded.

    Falize was incensed. “What to Mecca? I f**k Mecca!”

    The burly man went after her even as she turned to leave and punched her in the head several times.

    “Girl, or no girl, I couldn’t give a f**k. They’re just Arabs,” he said. Then, taking a drag on his cigarette, he shook his wrist and said: “She really must have felt it because I’m hurting.”

    Falize and his friends are part of Generation Identity (GI), one of Europe’s fastest growing and most prominent far-right movements. The organisation was set up in France six years ago, and now has branches in several countries, including Italy, Austria, Germany and the United Kingdom.

    The pan-European group, estimated to have thousands of members and an online following of tens of thousands, advocates the defence of what it sees as the identity and culture of white Europeans from what it calls the “great replacement” by immigration and “Islamisation”.

    It presents itself as a patriotic movement and claims to be non-violent and non-racist.

    But when an Al Jazeera undercover reporter infiltrated GI’s branch in Lille, he found the opposite.
    ’Defend Europe’

    Footage our reporter filmed secretly over a period of six months, beginning in September 2017, shows GI members carrying out racist attacks and admitting to a series of other assaults on Muslims.

    The group’s activists were frequently seen making Nazi salutes and shouting “Heil Hitler”. Its leaders meanwhile explained how they’ve infiltrated the National Front (now the National Rally), a far-right French party led by Marine Le Pen, who lost a 2017 presidential election runoff to Emmanuel Macron.

    Made up of white nationalists, the group first came to prominence in 2012 when dozens of its activists occupied a mosque in Poitiers, western France, for more than six hours before police ejected them. Days later, GI issued a “declaration of war” on multiculturalism and called for a national referendum on Muslim immigration.

    Robin D’Angelo, a French political analyst, said the group considers France their “main battleground” in Europe, as it’s the country with the largest Muslim community on the continent. Muslims make up nearly 10 percent of France’s 67 million population. A second and more significant factor, D’Angelo said, was a rise in deadly attacks by Muslim assailants in the country in recent years.

    They include a 2015 gun attack on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in the French capital, which left a dozen people dead, as well as a series of coordinated assaults later that year in Paris, including at the Bataclan theatre, in which more than 130 people were killed. The next year, assailants drove a 19-tonne cargo truck into crowds of people celebrating Bastille Day in the Mediterranean city of Nice, killing 86 people.

    GI, however, differs from traditional far-right groups, D’Angelo said, in its public attempts to distance itself from violence and overt racism. “What they understood was that marginalisation would never bring their ideas to power, would never make their ideas spread, so they try to be as clean as possible,” D’Angelo said.

    The group’s strategy to influence public debate includes staging spectacular publicity stunts to attract media attention and gain a huge social media following, he said.

    Such moves include a 2017 boat mission called “Defend Europe” which sought to disrupt refugee rescue ships in the Mediterranean Sea. GI raised more than 50,000 euros ($57,000) in less than three weeks for the mission, which ultimately failed when the group’s boat was blocked from refuelling in Greece and Tunisia.

    In April, more than 100 GI activists tried to shut off a snowy mountain pass on the French-Italian border used by migrants. After erecting a makeshift barrier there, they unfurled a banner which read: “You will not make Europe your home. No way. Back to your homeland.”
    ’We want power’

    Aurelien Verhassel was one of the GI leaders who took part in the group’s Alpine mission. He is also the head of the group’s Flanders branch. In a backstreet in Lille’s city centre, the 34-year-old runs a members-only bar called the Citadelle.

    “It’s not just a bar,” he told Al Jazeera’s undercover reporter. “It’s a community with all the activities that go with it; a boxing club, a library, a cinema club.”

    Membership in GI Flanders had almost tripled, he said, from 300 to 800 in just a year.

    At the Citadelle, Verhassel, a man with an angular face and slicked-back hair, hosted lengthy discussions on politics, entertaining GI members from other parts of France and sometimes journalists, too. One Friday in December last year, Verhassel asked members to be present for a TV interview with journalists from Quebec, Canada.

    In his television appearance, Verhassel, who has a string of criminal convictions for violence, including a five-month prison sentence for an attack on two North African teenagers that he is appealing, presented the image of a committed but professional politician.

    “Europe has been invaded,” he told the Canadian journalists. And the aim of GI, “a serious political movement that trains young leaders”, was to tackle mass Muslim immigration, he said.

    GI’s main solution, he added, was a concept called “remigration” - a programme to send non-European families to their ancestral homelands. “For us, the non-Europeans, the Islamists, can go home by any means,” he said. “By boat, by plane or by spaceship. They can go home however they want.”

    The “remigration concept” is at the core of GI’s vision for France’s future, and was detailed in a policy document the group released during the 2017 election campaign. Jean-David Cattin, a GI leader who was in charge of the group’s communications when its activists targeted refugee rescue missions in the Mediterranean, told Citadelle members in October last year that France could force former colonies to take back migrants by making development aid conditional on the return of non-European residents and migrants.

    “We are France, we have nuclear weapons. We give them hundreds of millions in development aid,” he told a sceptical activist. “We’d say: ’Listen, we’d love to help you out financially, but you’ve got to take back your guys.’”

    Mathias Destal, a journalist who has been investigating France’s far right for years, called the “remigration” concept “delirious” and likened it to ethnic cleansing.

    “It would mean deporting thousands and thousands of people to countries which are supposedly their countries of origin because their ancestors might have lived there or because the colour of their skin or their culture refers to countries which are not France … so, in fact, it would nearly be ethnic cleansing.”

    Verhassel believed that the strategy to take the concept mainstream was to protect the group’s media image.

    GI Lille has refused entry to “skinheads and all those anti-social types”, he told our undercover reporter, and expelled others who might damage GI’s reputation. The image he wanted to cultivate, Verhassel said, was “it’s cool to be a fascist”.
    Verhassel was particularly worried about people who might post photos online of themselves doing Nazi salutes at the Citadelle. “We’d be shut down. We’d be done for,” he said.

    Over a beer at the Citadelle, Verhassel explained: “They want to make gestures. We want power … They just want romanticism. It’s beautiful, it’s sweet, but it doesn’t do much to advance the cause. The goal is to win.”
    Racist attacks and Nazi salutes

    Despite the public disavowal of violence and racism, Verhassel himself was secretly filmed encouraging activists to carry out assaults. “Someone needs a smack. But yeah, the advantage is that we’re in a violent environment and everyone accepts that,” he said.

    Footage from the Citadelle and other parts of Lille also show activists frequently boasting about carrying out violent attacks and making Nazi salutes.

    On the night of the attack on the teenagers, a far-right activist associated with GI, known as Le Roux, greeted Falize and his friends at a bar in central Lille that same night, saying: “Sieg Heil! Come on Generation Identity! F**king hell! Sieg Heil!”

    Charles Tessier, another associate of Falize, described an attack on three Arab men in which Falize broke his opponent’s nose.

    “It started pissing blood,” he said.

    “Then we fight, three on three, and they ran off. We chase them shouting ’Dirty Arab! Sieg Heil!”

    “We were Sieg-Heiling on the street.”

    Such racist attacks, another activist called Will Ter Yssel said, brought GI activists together.

    Falize, meanwhile, was caught on camera confessing that if he was diagnosed with a terminal illness, his wish would be to “sow carnage” against Muslims, perhaps by going on a shooting spree at a mosque in Lille, or even a car-ramming at the city’s Wazemmes market, which is popular with Arabs and Muslims.

    “If you take your car there on a Sunday, it’ll be chaos,” he said, laughing.

    “As long as I don’t die during the carnage, I’ll do it again.”

    Responding to Al Jazeera’s findings, a lawyer for Verhassel said the Citadelle welcomed people of “diverse persuasions” and does not represent GI.

    The Citadelle “condemned in the strongest terms” the comments from its members if such statements were attributable to them, the lawyer added.

    Sylvie Guillaume, vice president of the European Parliament, called the footage of the attacks and admissions of violence “disturbing”.

    Calling for legal action, she added: “They intend to get into fights, they say it, they’re preparing themselves, they have gloves for hitting, they target their victims. These are people who make direct references to Hitler, who speak with phrases the Nazis used.”

    Guillaume continued: “That is punishable by law.”


    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/12/generation-hate-french-violence-racism-exposed-181208155503837.html
    #génération_identitaire #identitaires #extrême_droite #France #racisme #xénophobie #Aurelien_Verhassel #Lille #defend_Europe


  • CrimethInc. : The Yellow Vest Movement in France : Between « Ecological » Neoliberalism and « Apolitical » Movements
    https://crimethinc.com/2018/11/27/the-yellow-vest-movement-in-france-between-ecological-neoliberalism-and-

    In attempting to associate environmentalism, feminism, internationalism, and anti-racism with neoliberalism, centrists make it likely that at least some of the movements that arise against the ruling order will be anti-ecological, misogynistic, nationalistic, and racist. That works out well for centrists, because it enables them to present themselves to the world as the only possible alternative to far-right extremists. This is precisely the strategy that got Macron elected in his campaign against Marine Le Pen. In this regard, centrists and nationalists are loyal adversaries who seek to divide up all possible positions between themselves, making it impossible to imagine any real solution to the crises created by capitalism.

    très long article (avec de belles photos pour faire couler), mais comme toujours très bien, des anarchistes de CrimethInc. Causes, conséquences, stratégies… des gilets jaunes.


  • Discussion sur twitter autour du fait que la #Oxford_Union (« students society ») de l’#université de #Oxford ont invité #Steve_Bannon à donner une conférence...
    voici l’annonce :

    Voici une première réaction sur twitter :

    @OxfordUnion has invited Steve Bannon to speak this Friday-16th November. You guys can’t find anyone better than an anti Semitic, racist, domestic abuser to speak? Stop normalizing fascists @UniofOxford #Oxford

    Et la réponse de l’université de Oxford :

    Hi Samira, The Oxford Union is independent of the University of Oxford, and Oxford Brookes University, and as an organisation we have no power to regulate their activities.

    Et dans un deuxième tweet :

    While the University has no involvement, we appreciate opinions often differ on the speakers invited and would add that students can attend these talks to challenge speakers, rather than agree with them.

    https://twitter.com/UniofOxford/status/1062681958612897792

    Et la réaction de #Polly_Wilkins :

    This seems to be a theme whereby universities take no responsibility for the hate speech and normalisation of fascism resulting from the platforms given to racists, anti-Semites, and misogynists when these people are invited by students.

    If a university will not stand up against rising fascism then it suggests it has no interests in defending itself. There is no possibility for academic freedom under fascism.

    https://twitter.com/PollyWilkins/status/1062687717774028800
    #liberté_d'expression #fascisme #normalisation #banalisation #xénophobie #racisme #liberté_académique



  • The three types of WhatsApp users getting Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro elected | World news | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/25/brazil-president-jair-bolsonaro-whatsapp-fake-news

    If the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s charge to the White House were jet-propelled by Facebook, the rise of Brazil’s likely next president, the far-right firebrand Jair Bolsonaro, owes much to WhatsApp.

    The Facebook-owned messaging app is wildly popular in Brazil, with about 120 million active users, and has proved to be the ideal tool for mobilizing political support – but also for spreading fake news.

    To understand the motivations, hopes and fears of Bolsonaro’s tens of millions of supporters I joined four pro-Bolsonaro WhatsApp groups.

    After four months of receiving an average of 1,000 messages per group, per day, this is what I found:

    There are three key clusters of members, who I classified as Ordinary Brazilians, Bolsominions, and Influencers.

    They use sophisticated image and video editing software to create convincing and emotionally engaging digital content. They are smart and know how to manipulate content into memes and short texts that go viral.

    They work fast to undermine any person or news outlet that criticizes Bolsonaro. For example, after the French far-right leader Marine Le Pen’s described some of Bolsonaro’s comments as “extremely unpleasant”, the Influencers quickly published a meme accusing her of being a communist.

    Some of the fake news stories are simply astonishing. A group of “movers and shakers” created a bogus flyer claim that Bolsonaro’s leftist rival Fernando Haddad, planned to sign an executive order allowing men to have sex with 12-year-olds.

    During the first round of votes they repeatedly circulated fake videos that showed malfunctioning electronic voting machines in order to reinforce the idea that the elections were rigged.

    These three groups have different roles, but they have a lot in common: they share a total disbelief in Brazil’s representative democracy and have concluded that the system only serves those at the top.

    Despite their support for the idea of military intervention, they don’t want a new dictatorship, arguing instead that Brazil needs someone to end the corruption that has benefited politicians of both the left and the right – and devastated the country’s economy.

    #Whatsapp #Brésil #Infox


  • Netanyahu’s dark deal with Europe’s radical right -

    Netanyahu likes to boast about the foreign relations he has nurtured in Eastern Europe because these ties help him block EU decisions against the occupation, but there are no free lunches in politics

    Nitzan Horowitz
    Jul 09, 2018 4:32 AM
    | Haaretz.com
    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-pm-s-dark-deal-with-e-europe-condones-anti-semitism-and-occupation

    Netanyahu’s Polish romance, much like his Hungarian romance, is part of a much bigger story. For years, Netanyahu has been promoting all sorts of ties with the radical right in Europe. He has some passionate fans there: A long list of anti-democratic movements and governments that consider Bibi’s Israel an optimal partner. The Israeli government has no problem with these entities, because they are essentially quite similar. The basis of the connection derives from overlapping interests and ideological closeness.
    To really understand Israel and the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz
    Immigration is a prominent example. The right’s anti-immigration efforts (there and here) became fused with the Israeli-Arab conflict and made Israel an ally in the fight against Islam. “The Jews are our brothers in arms in the war against Islam,” Filip Dewinter, leader of a far right Flemish party in Belgium, explained a decade ago. In that same interview with this newspaper, DeWinter also argued that there was no need for laws against Holocaust denial.
    The far-right political movements, some of which are the descendants of Holocaust-era political parties and regimes, understood years ago that they had to change their image if they wanted to grow stronger. And that one way to do this was to enlist Jewish communities in Israel and around the world as a source of political legitimacy and seal of approval. Many far-right parties in Europe have chosen to distance themselves from anti-Semitism, in their public declarations at least. The open anti-Semitism has been replaced with crude Islamophobia. But the Jewish communities still aren’t buying it. Just scratch the surface and the real character of these groups is revealed.
    Last year, when tension was rising in the French presidential election, Marine Le Pen showed the face she’d been trying to hide. She asserted that France bore no responsibility for the persecution of French Jews, defying a two-decades-long national effort to acknowledge the terrible responsibility borne by French fascism and the Vichy regime for the murders of tens of thousands of Jews.

    Netanyahu likes to boast about the foreign relations he has nurtured, especially in Eastern Europe. These ties help him to block EU decisions against the occupation and the settlements. But there are no free lunches in politics. These relations come with a price, and Israel is paying it: refraining from criticizing these countries over anti-Semitism, xenophobia and anti-democratic legislation, even when Jews worldwide are appalled, as happened in the George Soros affair. This is a two-way deal: Forgive me my anti-Semitism and I’ll forgive your occupation.
    >> Yad Vashem vs. Bibi: When there’s nothing to celebrate, Netanyahu runs from the cameras || Analysis >>
    But diplomatic interests are just part of the picture. The Israeli government isn’t reluctantly being forced to swallow the various anti-democratic political trends in return for diplomatic gain – because it basically agrees with these trends. Essentially, Israel’s current government has no fundamental moral dispute with this dark trend in Europe.

    The profound political shift in Israel over the last generation is moving it from the side that upholds universal human and civil rights to the side that upholds a nationalist, ethnocentric view opposed to social welfare policy. This is where the far right can always be found, and where the Israeli right can increasingly be found now. This is a Putinist-Trumpist worldview characterized by social ruthlessness, racism and unabashed scorn for liberal democracy, all expressed by aversion to international institutions, nostalgia for the greatness of an imagined past, adulation of power, derision of the media and hatred of minorities.
    And it’s totally reciprocal: Many in Europe’s far right talk about “shared values” with Israel and view it as a nationalist role model. Thus we see more and more right-wing Israeli figures unashamedly pursuing ties with the European fascists, and the latter touting their friends in Israel. Now, for the most part, it is only the memory of the Holocaust combined with strong resistance from the world’s Jewish communities that prevents Israel from plunging deeper into this European morass.


  • It’s the Kultur, Stupid

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2017/12/07/germany-alt-right-kultur-stupid

    “The reason we are inundated by culturally alien [kulturfremden] peoples such as Arabs, Sinti and Roma etc. is the systematic destruction of civil society as a possible counterweight to the enemies-of-the-constitution by whom we are ruled. These pigs are nothing other than puppets of the victor powers of the Second World War….” Thus begins a 2013 personal e-mail from Alice Weidel, who in this autumn’s pivotal German election was one of two designated “leading candidates” of the Alternative für Deutschland (hereafter AfD or the Alternative). The chief “pig” and “puppet” was, of course, Angela Merkel. Despite the publication of this leaked e-mail two weeks before election day, adding to other widely publicized evidence of AfD leaders’ xenophobic, right-wing nationalist views, one in eight German voters gave the Alternative their support. It is now the second-largest opposition party in the Bundestag, with ninety-two MPs.

    Xenophobic right-wing nationalism—in Germany of all places? The very fact that observers express surprise indicates how much Germany has changed since 1945. These days, we expect more of Germany than of ourselves. For, seen from one point of view, this is just Germany partaking in the populist normality of our time, as manifested in the Brexit vote in Britain, Marine le Pen’s Front National in France, Geert Wilders’s blond beastliness in the Netherlands, the right-wing nationalist-populist government in Poland, and Trumpery in the US.


  • Russia puts British Putin critic on Interpol wanted list | World news | The Guardian

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/21/russia-british-businessman-bill-browder-interpol

    Facile... Ce serait donc si simple ? On essaye avec Marine Le Pen ou François Fillon ?

    Russia has placed a prominent British businessman on the Interpol wanted list. President Vladimir Putin is understood to have sanctioned the move against Bill Browder, who has led an international campaign against Russia over the killing of the jailed Moscow lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky.

    On Wednesday Canada became the latest country to pass a “Magnitsky Act”, targeting officials “who have committed gross violations” of human rights. The move infuriated Putin, who accused Canada of playing “unconstructive political games” and later name-checked Browder for pursuing what the Russian president described as “illegal activity”.


  • Undercover With the Alt-Right - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/19/opinion/alt-right-white-supremacy-undercover.html

    Last September, Patrik Hermansson, a 25-year-old graduate student from Sweden, went undercover in the world of the extreme right. Posing as a student writing a thesis about the suppression of right-wing speech, he traveled from London to New York to Charlottesville, Va. — and into the heart of a dangerous movement that is experiencing a profound rejuvenation.

    Mr. Hermansson, who was sent undercover by the British anti-racist watchdog group Hope Not Hate, spent months insinuating himself into the alt-right, using his Swedish nationality (many neo-Nazis are obsessed with Sweden because of its “Nordic” heritage) as a way in. It wasn’t always easy. “You want to punch them in the face,” he told me of the people he met undercover. “You want to scream and do whatever — leave. But you can’t do any of those things. You have to sit and smile.”

    What he learned while undercover is one part of a shocking, comprehensive new report from Hope Not Hate that sheds light on the strange landscape of the alt-right, the much discussed, little understood and largely anonymous far-right movement that exists mostly online and that has come to national attention in part because of its support for Donald Trump.

    The extreme alt-right are benefiting immensely from the energy being produced by a more moderate — but still far-right — faction known as the “alt-light.”

    The alt-light promotes a slightly softer set of messages. Its figures — such as Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson and Mike Cernovich — generally frame their work as part of an effort to defend “the West” or “Western culture” against supposed left-liberal dominance, rather than making explicitly racist appeals. Many of them, in fact, have renounced explicit racism and anti-Semitism, though they will creep up to the line of explicitly racist speech, especially when Islam and immigration are concerned.

    According to researchers, the key to hooking new recruits into any movement, and to getting them increasingly involved over time, is to simply give them activities to participate in. This often precedes any deep ideological commitment on the recruits’ part and, especially early on, is more about offering them a sense of meaning and community than anything else.

    Intentionally or not, the far right has deftly applied these insights to the online world. Viewed through the filters of alt-light outlets like Breitbart and Prison Planet, or through Twitter feeds like Mr. Watson’s, the world is a horror show of crimes by migrants, leftist censorship and attacks on common sense. And the best, easiest way to fight back is through social media.

    The newly initiated are offered many opportunities to participate directly. A teenager in a suburban basement can join a coordinated global effort to spread misinformation about Emmanuel Macron, France’s centrist president, in the hopes of helping far-right leader Marine Le Pen. Anyone who wants to do so can help spread the word about supposed mainstream media censorship of the Muslim “crime wave” the far right says is ravaging Europe.

    These efforts — a click, a retweet, a YouTube comment — come to feel like important parts of an epochal struggle. The far right, once hemmed in by its own parochialism, has manufactured a worldwide online battlefield anyone with internet access can step into.

    #Alt_right #Extrême_droite #Médias_sociaux #Post_truth


  • Emmanuel Macron Is Not Your Friend
    https://jacobinmag.com/2017/07/emmanuel-macron-france-unions-workers-economics-le-pen

    The latest recruit to this line-up of supposedly woke real-world Superfriends is French leader Emmanuel Macron, who in May beat Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right (though, she will insist, no longer antisemitic) National Front, in the presidential election. Since then, Macron has been the object of liberal admiration the world over, with pundits and observers swooning at his courage for standing up to Trump and Vladimir Putin, as well rejecting Le Pen–style xenophobia.

    Like Trudeau and Obama, Macron is young, handsome, and charismatic. And, as with Clinton (and particularly Trudeau), he has embraced symbolic shows of social liberalism while explicitly positioning himself as a roadblock against the far right. All of this has helped obscure the more disconcerting elements of his beliefs, particularly his staunch support for economic reforms that would shift France toward a more free-market model.

    In this sense, we can think of Macron as an updated, French version of Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, with a dollop of the newer generation of triangulators. He’s consciously cast himself as the outsider who will break from politics as usual in defense of decency and democracy — and he’s done it all in the service of implementing a right-wing economic agenda.

    #Bam

    • À force de répéter à longueur de colonnes que tout est nouveau dans notre paysage politique, les commentateurs avaient fini par le croire. Ils en avaient perdu de vue l’essentiel. C’est-à-dire, précisément, ce qui n’a pas changé. Car, Macron ou pas Macron, la politique est toujours affaire de répartition des richesses et de conflictualité sociale. On ne peut pas raconter longtemps des histoires aux gens que l’on appauvrit. Une habile communication avait fait tourner la tête de beaucoup d’habitués des plateaux de télévision. Le magicien de l’Élysée avait réussi, nous disait-on, à dépasser le clivage gauche-droite. Il devait beaucoup, il est vrai, au ralliement ventre à terre des « réputés » de gauche, issus de l’ancienne majorité.

      Mais, il n’aura pas fallu trois mois pour que l’illusion se dissipe. Et voilà : Emmanuel Macron est banalement de droite. La belle découverte ! L’affaire de la diminution des aides au logement a dégrisé les esprits. Notre président « ni de droite ni de gauche » est allé prendre dans la poche de nos concitoyens qui vivent sous le seuil de pauvreté, tandis qu’il exonère de l’impôt sur la fortune les actionnaires et les rentiers de la finance. Aucun de ses prédécesseurs ne s’était à ce point caricaturé. D’autant que, quelques jours auparavant, il avait annoncé le gel du point d’indice des fonctionnaires et la hausse de la CSG. Résultat : une chute dans les sondages plus rapide que pour son prédécesseur dans le même laps de temps. Cette « hollandisation » précoce est un mauvais présage. D’autant qu’il a devant lui la réforme du code du travail, grande affaire de la rentrée (...)

      https://www.politis.fr/articles/2017/07/fin-dune-illusion-37419


  • Exclusive: Russia used Facebook to try to spy on Macron campaign - sources
    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-cyber-france-facebook-spies-exclusive-idUSKBN1AC0EI

    Russian intelligence agents attempted to spy on President Emmanuel Macron’s election campaign earlier this year by creating phony Facebook personas, according to a U.S. congressman and two other people briefed on the effort.

    About two dozen Facebook accounts were created to conduct surveillance on Macron campaign officials and others close to the centrist former financier as he sought to defeat far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen and other opponents in the two-round election, the sources said. Macron won in a landslide in May.

    Facebook said in April it had taken action against fake accounts that were spreading misinformation about the French election. But the effort to infiltrate the social networks of Macron officials has not previously been reported.

    Russia has repeatedly denied interfering in the French election by hacking and leaking emails and documents. U.S. intelligence agencies told Reuters in May that hackers with connections to the Russian government were involved, but they did not have conclusive evidence that the Kremlin ordered the hacking.

    Facebook confirmed to Reuters that it had detected spying accounts in France and deactivated them. It credited a combination of improved automated detection and stepped-up human efforts to find sophisticated attacks.

    Company officials briefed congressional committee members and staff, among others, about their findings. People involved in the conversations also said the number of Facebook accounts suspended in France for promoting propaganda or spam - much of it related to the election - had climbed to 70,000, a big jump from the 30,000 account closures the company disclosed in April.

    Facebook did not dispute the figure.

    The spying campaign included Russian agents posing as friends of friends of Macron associates and trying to glean personal information from them, according to the U.S. congressman and two others briefed on the matter.

    Facebook employees noticed the efforts during the first round of the presidential election and traced them to tools used in the past by Russia’s GRU military intelligence unit, said the people, who spoke on condition they not be named because they were discussing sensitive government and private intelligence.


  • [’Le Monde diplomatique’ en Esperanto]
    http://eo.mondediplo.com/article2315.html

    Depost la atencoj de la 13-a de novembro en Parizo, Francujo aliĝis al la movado, dum kelkaj politikaj respondeculoj konsideras la Schengen-interkonsentojn, kiuj organizas la liberan cirkuladon de homoj inter la subskribintaj ŝtatoj, kiel unu el la kaŭzoj de la amasmortigo. « Schengen mortis », juĝis s-ro Nicolas Sarkozy, prezidanto de la partio ’La Respublikanoj’. « La foresto de naciaj landlimoj estas krima frenezaĵo », aldonis s-ino Marine Le Pen (Nacia Fronto), dum s-ro Nicolas Dupont-Aignan (Debout la France) postulis « la restarigon de niaj naciaj landlimoj por eviti la enŝteliĝon de ĝihadistoj ». « Se Eŭropo ne prenas siajn respondecojn, tiam la tuta Schengen-sistemo estos kontestata », ankaŭ minacis s-ro Manuel Vals [1].

    Malkovro de 71 putriĝantaj kadavroj en kamiono, en Aŭstrujo, emocio antaŭ la foto de siria infankadavro grundita – inter multaj aliaj – sur turka plaĝo : pluraj dramoj markis la pasintan jaron, kiuj ŝajne kaŭzis kolektivan ekkonsciiĝon, antaŭ ol la intereso iris aliloken. La politikaj gvidantoj indignis, kaj poste kulpigis la pasigistojn. La franca ministro pri internaj aferoj, s-ro Bernard Cazeneuve, anoncis « senkompatan lukton kontraŭ la organizoj de hom-komerco », dum lia germana samulo, s-ro Thomas de Maizière, promesis « lukti kontraŭ la krimaj bandoj de pasigistoj, kiuj negocas hom-mizeron ». La « pasigistoj » estas idealaj kulpantoj ; sed ili simple profitas el la distanco kiu pliiĝas inter la enmigradaj leĝaj vojoj en Eŭropo kaj la tre forta postulo pri elmigrado, aparte el Mez-Oriento kaj Afriko.

    #Schengen