Time to surpass the ‘Yellow Vests’ Moment

A statement by Nuevo Curso’  (December 23), introduced by the IGCL

We publish the statement of ‘Nuevo Curso’ (Spain) on the present state of the yellow vest struggle in France following the demonstration on Saturday 22 December. Even if we do not necessarily share all the formulations used by the comrades – a certain number would need clarification – we agree both with the fundamental analysis of the movement itself, the limits of its original inter-class character; and with [that of] its dynamics, which are now in decline after five weeks of mobilization. The fundamental factor explaining this decline is the absence of a relay taken over and ensured by the working class as such and the takeover by the French bourgeoisie and its State of a situation that had surprised and escaped it at least until the eve of Saturday, December 8. This is the main lesson that the workers’ component of the yellow vests and the entire proletariat in France must learn from this unprecedented mobilization. The other lesson we must all learn, the revolutionaries in particular, is that the massive confrontations between the classes we have openly entered now will be extremely violent as a result of the massive and brutal repression used by the States, including in countries with a “democratic tradition”.

Is it necessary to underline that these lessons are also addressed to the international proletariat; and this very concretely due to the echo and the “sympathy” that the yellow vests have met at the international level? But there is another lesson with which ‘Nuevo Curso’ concludes its text: the time and urgency have come for regrouping, for gathering and debates of political and theoretical clarification for revolutionary minorities and for the struggle for the international proletarian party of tomorrow. In this sense, the position taken by ‘Nuevo Curso’, none of whose participants are “French” or living in France, this capacity to “interfere in the affairs of other countries”, is a concrete manifestation of internationalism. Stating on a foreign, or distant, situation can be difficult because of the lack of concrete elements and the difficulty of grasping the exact dynamics of the daily course of events. But at the same time, it allows to have a certain distance from the immediate situation and thereby to have a broader vision of the general dynamics. This is also how we fight for and prepare the international party of tomorrow.

The IGCL, December 24th 2018.

Time to Surpass the ‘Yellow Vests’ Moment (‘Nuevo Curso’)

Macron resignation! Macron resignation! Bourgeois tricolor flags, the Marseillaise and its bloody patriotism. The sixth Saturday of the “yellow vests” offered no way out to the confusion: thousands of yellow vests have demonstrated against the greatest police concentration for decades, without the participation of political groups, nor black blocs… Alone were the last yellow vests expressing and pretending to represent the 70% of the French population who identify with the frustration that has been channeled by the movement, without obtaining the promising affirmation of universal necessities, and that has led the government to yield to the demonstrators for the first time in decades. The movement returns to its origins while the public debate focuses on the terrain of the Référendum d’Initiative Populaire [Referendum on Popular Initiative] – which is very comfortable for the French ruling class. What is the attitude to adopt now?

1. We must not forget that it was the emergence, in the background, of class demands that led the government to give in. Macron yielded to a tendency, not to a mass organization; to a potentiality in its very beginnings, not to the class in constitution yet; he has “undergone a reversal” by fear, not by a material reality. The aim of the French bourgeoisie was to stop an unfolding process in its tracks. The result has been that the movement has effectively declined in force to pressurize and massiveness. Though distrust remains, and with reason. The bourgeoisie does not tell the truth even when it stops lying. And for a start, it is clear that the promise to raise the minimum wage [SMIC] by 100 euros will not be fulfilled, at least for a half of those who [depend on it]. Distrust, rancor and rage are mixed with a sentiment of having advanced but without knowing who will benefit from it. That is where we are now.

2. If there is no evolution, no emergence of minorities who go further, a ferment for future struggles… having dismantled the class element will be a great triumph for Macron’s preventive concessions. They permit to reduce the struggle to the familiar and bogged down battlefield of the state and the bourgeoisie with the petty bourgeoisie. Of course, all this is not a favorable business for the French bourgeoisie either. With the referendum on citizens’ initiative, the possible setting up of a “yellow vests” party, the constitutional changes, Macron has conjured up the danger for the bourgeoisie of the rise of a class component in the mobilization… But the result risks to open up a long phase of political stagnation and paralysis for the bourgeoisie like in Germany and, above all, in Spain. (1)

3. From the proletarians’ point of view, the danger consists of attaching themselves to the fetus of an abortive movement, to lock themselves up again in “citizenship” and under popular and patriotic flags. This is the novelty in relation to the situation in Spain. The independentist petty bourgeoisie of Catalonia did not succeed to draw the workers behind its flag. Nor did the reaction of Spanish nationalism. Nevertheless, the “yellow vests” are different. For many proletarians, they seem “ours” and many who are disoriented associate the “revolution” with the “citizen” and the “people’s” flags, particularly in the regions formerly under the Stalinists’ control. (2)

4. In this way we have passed from a promise of going towards a working class movement to a remake of a new 1830. (3) That is to say, just now do we see the scope of the defeat of the 1970s and 1980s. It is not in the demobilization and the passivity of the twenty years that followed, nor even in the difficulties to find class responses during the ten years of crisis that we are passing through… but in the weaknesses of the proletarians today, and probably in the future, faced with the highway to nowhere that the desperate petty bourgeoisie is offering us generously.

What is to be done?

More than a generation has passed since these proletarian struggles and the result still threatens to stage a proletariat of another time, when it was dragging itself behind the democratic petty bourgeoisie… Whereas today, we are in a decrepit capitalism in which petty bourgeois revolutionarism is the apogee of reaction. Seventy years of Stalinism and twenty years of campaigns on the “disappearance of the working class” have distorted and destroyed the proletarian memory. But, unless we have an evolutionary and cumulative conception of class consciousness, we should not be frightened either. The tasks that await us are numerous and urgent, but they are not profoundly new. And at the level we are now, they are neither too complicated. From France to Iran, (4) we are in a moment favorable for regrouping and organizing all those who have advanced further in order to become the dissolvers of citizenship and the useful ferment for the organization as a class.

Were you looking for a purpose for 2019? It is time to overcome the “yellow vests” moment. Not everything that agitates necessarily moves forward. It is time to meet new comrades, to discuss with them, to rediscover the basic tools and organize ourselves.

Nuevo Curso, December 23rd, 2018

Source: Hora de superar el momento «chalecos amarillos»

Translation: http://igcl.org/Time-to-Surpass-the-Yellow-Vests

The translation has been checked against the French version. H.C., December 29, 2018.


1 Here the comrades of ‘Nuevo Curso’ mention the fact that the political apparatus of the different capitalist nations seem to face (each one from national historical conditions and traditions) difficulties to make decisive choices, confronted with challenges of all kinds, due to the crisis of capital and its consequences at international, imperialist, economic and social levels. For instance, the end of Merkel’s reign that is prolonging itself, expresses the difficulties and contradictions that the German bourgeoisie suffers to make clear cut choices, in particular with regard to its role and destiny at both the European and global levels, as an imperialist power. [note of the IGCL]

2 ‘Nuevo Curso’ refers to its article: ¿Por qué crecen los partidos xenófobos en distritos que votaban a los PCs? (“Why do xenophobic parties grow in districts that voted for the CP’s?”, July 13, 2018). Even though, formally, the yellow vests don’t particularly come from cities formerly held for decades by the French Communist Party, it is nevertheless to be retained that “in Spain, in Portugal and partly in France, a new populist left has consolidated, largely in the dis-industrialized zones of North-East France and in the Paris and Marseilles suburbs, in neighborhoods traditionally considered as ’subordinated’ to the French Communist Party and in which Le Pen triumphs at present.” (Nuevo Curso). [note of the IGCL]

3 The comrades of ‘Nuevo Curso’ refer to the 1830 revolutionary days in France that saw the advent of the July Monarchy with king Louis-Philippe, put forward mainly by the financial bourgeoisie against the dynasty of the Bourbons and the old aristocracy. The Parisian proletariat, the spearhead of the revolution who claimed the Republic, was submerged in the ‘people’ and the petty-bourgeoisie, and was manipulated to the benefit of the bourgeoisie… [note of the IGCL]

4 A genuine mass strike has recently taken place in Iran against both misery and the war. ‘Nuevo Curso’ and the ‘Internationalist Communist Tendency’ have reported on these struggles and on their political significance for the international proletariat. [note of the IGCL] See the following articles: Soviets in Iran: Is a Revolution Underway? (‘Nuevo Curso’, November 23; available on this blog), and: Iran: Workers’ Strikes and Protests Continue (D. Saadati, ICT, November 29).