It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
Those memorable words penned by Charles Dickens in 1859 begin the story of the times leading up to the French Revolution and ending in the Jacobin Reign of Terror. The Tale of Two Cities may be back for an encore. So might the Reign of Terror.
The earth’s very first worldwide revolution began in Paris on November 17th 2018. The immediate cause was an increase in taxes on diesel and gasoline. The French government levied higher taxes on diesel of 7.6 cents per liter in 2018 with a planned increase of an additional 6.5 cents effective on January 1st 2019. Gasoline taxes rose by 3.9 cents in 2018 and were due to go up 2.9 cents more with the turn of the New Year.
Globalization has caused a mass migration all over the world from rural areas and small towns to the large cities. As the migration took place, the balance of political power shifted and the rural areas had less and less of an impact on the decision making process.
French law requires all vehicles be equipped with neon yellow vests for safety if the automobile is disabled or the driver needs to change a tire. Yellow vests or Gilets Jaunes are in every car in case of emergency. Any emergency will do, even a protest.
The protests began simply with a demand that the increases in fuel taxes be rescinded. From Paris other groups of the Gilets Jaunes sprang up spontaneously all over France in village squares and in the ubitiquous traffic circles controlling the flow of traffic rather than red lights found in most countries. People in the streets protesting actions of the government are the ultimate form of direct democracy.
There were no leaders. As times some labor unions and politicians have attempted to coopt the movement without success. The Yellow Vests reject centralized power no matter where it comes from. All of the protests came directly from local residents angry at their lack of voice.
By and large it was peaceful from the beginning with pretty much the exception of the actions of the police. Most people in most cities simply walked around talking to other Yellow Vests. As time went by the list of demands grew to include the resignation of French President Emmanuel Macron as well as other changes in forms of taxation and benefit modifications.
Naturally the elite in government smiled as the requests for change grew out of control. They knew that as the demands expanded the chance of them being enacted declined. Under pressure Macron agreed to postpone or cancel the fuel tax increase and went along with some minor modifications to minimum wage and retirement benefits. But he soon tired of the sops to the masses and began to harden his position.
The Yellow Vest movement is simple. The people want more say in how the government affects their lives. Over the past week the stakes may have risen as the French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced support for a new law banning unapproved protests. The idea was not complicated. It’s ok to riot but you need to fill out forms in triplicate and get government approval first. I have a suggestion for the Gilets Jaunes, “Don’t hold your breath.”
The Yellow Vest masses seemed to have touched a nerve with angry people all over the world. There have been similar protests in Taiwan, Israel,Brussels, Canada, Spain and no doubt many other locations. It is a worldwide revolution and it will only grow.
As long as there have been groups gathered together for protection the elite have ruled. It didn’t matter if it was the head of a clan, a Pope, a king or eventually presidents and prime ministers. The elite ruled and the peasants could stuff themselves with cake if they didn’t like the lack of bread. But the elites have always been out of touch with what the people, the mob, the masses want.
When the peasants went hungry for long enough because of mismanagement of government, they manned the barricades and sharpened their pikes. In the end after every revolution all they managed to accomplish was change one group of elites with a different group of clueless elites. Look at the elections in the US and the UK. One party rules, then the other party rules, then it goes back again. Nothing ever changes.
Who do the Yellow Vests think will take over if they boot Macron? I can tell you right now it will be another brain dead idiot determined to line his own pockets until he gets the boot.
This process of rule by elites has led to the bizarre situation in the US where a tiny group of determined Neocons managed to subvert the entire political and military establishment of the country on behalf of a meaningless little shit for brains country in the Middle East. No more than thirty total they still took total control of the establishment involving the nation in one meaningless and expensive war after another. It has gotten so stupid and out of control that the very first law considered by the US Congress and US Senate in 2019 was a bill to make boycotts of Israel illegal.
You may still boycott the Mormons and Buddhists. It’s legal and OK to boycott the Pope or Donald Trump should you wish. And advocating boycotts of Hillary will still be allowed. You can boycott whoever and whatever you wish. Except for Israel. Twenty-six states have already incorporated rules requiring loyalty oaths to Israel. In Europe you may not question the Holocaust. If you even debate what happened, you may go to jail.
Now that’s power.
In an ominous move on the part of the French government just took action that might morph a peaceful protest against petty taxes into a violent reign of terror and a resurrection of the guillotine. And a lot of heads of the former elite swinging from long pikes.
As reported on the 13th of January, some units of the riot police have been issued fully automatic G36 rifles. If and when some fool policeman starts shooting at the protestors, a bloody war will have started. Eventually more and more of the police will realize they are shooting their own citizens. At that point they will start shooting politicians.
There is a simple and bloodless solution that the elite will hate and the
Gilets Jaunes of all countries will love. But to understand it, you must also understand why these protests have expanded so quickly.
Until the Internet came along twenty years or so ago, the elite ruled because they controlled the narrative. Americans believed that Kennedy was killed by a lone assassin, Vietnam was fought to save the Vietnamese from godless Communism, nineteen hijackers led by a guy with terminal kidney disease living in a cave in Afghanistan managed to win the most effective battle in history.
Then the Internet gave everyone a voice. Every damned fool given a new keyboard for Christmas by momma could go out on chatboards and say whatever idiotic things they wanted and remain anonymous so they didn’t have to account for their stupidity to anyone. If they wished, they could and did watch porn from the confines of their government office if that is what they did for a living. Communication was instant and total.
A few people posting on the Internet actually made sense. The Internet is not a Mecca of accurate information. But some of the voices made sense and if you ignored the clutter and listened to the bells that peeled with the ring of truth eventually a false flag operation that would have passed with flying colors fifty years ago would be exposed in minutes today.
More and more of the middle class realized the actions of governments and central banks were destroying their financial security. There was nothing new to that; governments have always waged war first on their own people. Throughout history people have resented their standard of living being destroyed by the elite.
But they couldn’t do a damned thing about it. They might be angry but they had no voice.
Eventually they could take a marvelous weapon right at hand such as the Yellow Vests and make them a symbol of protest. But they still didn’t have a solution that was both reasonable and possible until a genius named Etienne Chouard came up with a magic bullet.
Monsieur Chouard teaches college in Marseilles France on the southern coast. For years he has advocated adoption of something he calls theCitizens Initiative Referendum or CIR. The CIR only asks that citizens be allowed to choose the rules and regulations by which they are governed and the best way to achieve such direct democracy is by way of the referendum.
The concept is brilliant. A certain number of signatories on a petition would allow for a referendum to be published and voted on.
The Swiss did it in 2016 with the idea of a guaranteed basic income for all. It was suggested that all Swiss citizens be granted an automatic 2,500 SF monthly. Naturally the Swiss being the Swiss, they also understood that someone had to pay for that largess and it would be by themselves. Governments don’t have any money; all they do is take it from one group and hand it to another. 77% of Swiss voting soundly rejected the idea.
A worldwide revolution has been started. It’s pretty much led by the middle class who feel government policies are destroying them financially. If and when the police start shooting at protestors, protestors will start shooting back. It has all the potential for being the greatest war in history. The governments will eventually lose as the police and military change sides.
A well thought out CIR would solve the issue. It is both practical and workable. The elites will hate it because they will lose their franchise on power and money. The people will love it because it makes them responsible for their own decisions. They should be allowed direct democracy because they are the ones paying for it.
In the end the world will owe a giant debt for the ideas of Etienne Chouard. It may not be a perfect solution but it is a solution. The alternatives are far worse.