I’m interrupting my Christmas idyll to post news about the urban warfare that took place all day yesterday not only in Paris, but around the country. As I write this, France is considering imposing a state of emergency on it citizens. Last night I watched, stupefied, the images on television. Burning cars, tear gas, masked protestors, hordes of police, buildings in flames … the images resembled those from the May 1968 protests.
I had planned, yesterday, to head over to Galeries Lafayette and Au Printemps, the two side-by-side department stores on the boulevard Haussmann, to take photos of their Christmas windows. Luckily I didn’t go because of light rain. Those two stores were evacuated, neighboring stores were pillaged, and flames and violence erupted all around in that area.
It appears there are two distinct groups: peaceful gilets jaunes (yellow vests) and hooligan ultra-rightwing and ultra-leftwing ‘casseurs‘ (violent anarchists who break things). ACAB graffiti tags (All Cops Are Bastards) used by rightwing extremist groups were seen around the city. And who has to clean this mess up? The city cleaners. Late last night, TV images showed the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, and her colleagues walking the streets, shaking hands with the cleaners and thanking them for their efforts. I hope they get paid double-time and receive a big Christmas bonus.
Here are some comments (translated) from ordinary French citizens that I have selected from this morning’s comments section of Le Figaro newspaper –
It is high time to reform France in a framework more in line with the aspirations of ordinary French people. The technocrats who from their ministries “administer” France by reneging on the people, their wishes, their daily difficulties, their aspirations, will have to change before the current ‘peasants’ revolt’ turns to revolution!
France: is this not the country in which 90% of the world population would like to live? With a system of benefits and handouts unique in the world where health care is provided for everyone, where various and varied allowances are available (APL, RSA, EDF tariffs, single parents’ benefits, etc. etc.), where education is free, where the right to protest is recognized, and where the press is free? When one reads about our rebellious climate, what must the people of countless countries that do not have a quarter of the rights and living conditions enjoyed by the French think?
Macron is paying for his blusters. He cannot escape with impunity the people’s revenge following his arrogant manner and remarks. The French have come to get him and hold him accountable. Without agreeing to all the vandalism, I can understand their anger that has turned into hatred. By continuing to not listen, to utter empty words, to prevaricate and speak a double language has today become unbearable. A political answer is urgent and indispensable NOW, its content will have to exceed by far what they should have said two weeks ago. But I fear they will remain in their technocratic postures, with the risk that this mutinous climate will turn into a revolution.
It is not only the increase in fuel prices that has triggered these riots…!
But also the injustices of which the “socialists”, are largely co-responsible, all the taxes, paid for by those who work honestly …!
– the real workers (workers, peasants, artisans, …), no gifts, minimum wage, many unpaid hours, and a “justice” hard and unyielding!
– the parasites (thugs, idlers, spongers of the system, …), lots of gifts, winners (with allowances and state benefits) who often fare better than those who work, and a “justice” soft & lax!
How to accept that we pay footballers hundreds of millions of Euros?
The recent Marseillais scandal in which decrepit apartment buildings collapse (with the inhabitants inside), while only blocks away are magnificent new and expensive football stadiums?
How to accept corruption and money laundering by world-name big banks?
How to accept that Renault’s rogue CEO, currently in prison in Japan, can receive five million euros for each day of his life?
Or that bosses receive 80 million euros a year while the workers earn minimum wage on temporary contracts? Or that Brigitte and Emmanuel Macron spend 300,000 Euros to change the carpet of the presidential residence?
On this Sunday morning I can still hear police sirens in the distance. All night long – and all day yesterday – they were wailing.
One of President Macron’s errors was to abolish taxes on the controversial “wealth tax”, otherwise known as the ISF. The solidarity tax on wealth (Impôt de solidarité sur la fortune or ISF) was a direct annual wealth tax imposed on those living in France having assets in excess of €1,300,000. The amount of these taxes brought in over 5 billion euros per year to the state. Its idea was to be “redistributive,” helping narrow the gap between rich and poor, hence the name – “solidarity tax.” The majority of French people demand that this tax be reinstated and that the proposed increase of gasoline tax and all other tax hikes be cancelled.
Here are two articles and analysis on the subject in the London-based The Guardian –