Seeking Robespierre

Yellow Vests: The search for a “collective Robespierre”, for a new Incorruptible!

By Dimitris Konstantakopoulos

Article two of three (Read the first article here)

“We need time,” says Etienne Chouard, one of the intellectual “gurus” of the Yellow Vest movement. For years, he has been campaigning in favor of citizens’ right to hold referendums. Now, he sees his ideas finally being embraced by people. The demand to provide people with the possibility of calling Referendums (on adopting or annulling bills or revoking elected representatives) has become one of the three main demands of the Yellow Vests (the others being Macron’s resignation and the rise of living standards among the popular classes).

Chouard believes the movement wants time to continue what he describes as a rapidly evolving intellectual “chain reaction” happening in the minds of people, through the discussions buzzing in the “citizens’ assemblies,” the “citizens’ houses” emerging across the country and also on Facebook and other social media sites, where ideas and solutions to problems begin to crystallize.

Collective Intelligence

All of France is now debating its destiny in various ways… it is living through an explosion of new possibilities in communication and rapidly acquiring consciousness. It would be impossible to try to present a general picture of these debates. This is perhaps a typical feature of any country in the throes of revolutionary “fever”, but Social Media has dramatically transformed the situation by providing nearly instant communication between a practically limitless number of people.

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The Yellow Vests describe the situation- almost puzzled by their own success – as the sudden emergence of “collective intelligence”. They would boast about the developments, but they feel a bit uncertain and insecure – as if they fear that talking about it they might jinx things.

You have a whole people, or at least its mobilized minority, maybe one-third of the total population, trying to find a way to collectively define its goals and the means to fulfill them.

In fact, this “collective intelligence” has been proven to be a key asset of the movement in many respects, in that it filters out all the nonsense which at some point went around Facebook, by bringing to the fore the things that unite it and brushing away the things that divide them, by isolating provocateurs and by dealing with the political counter-attacks and the continuous provocations of Macronites.

“We need time,” says Etienne Chouard

The French popular classes have proven that they possess enough accumulated social intelligence and political experience, on the one hand, to demolish the arguments of the Neoliberals and, on the other, to articulate their demands of radical control of the political system, long ago bought and controlled by the Financial Oligarchy. (Referendums, the abolition of the privileges of elected representatives).

Notably, this element of the movement is exactly what many “intellectuals” of the country do not seem to possess and the same seems true of the bourgeois “radical left” and “revolutionary left”!

Problems begin to arise in their approach in the movements attempts to define an alternative economic model and in their approach to the European question. This is in part due to the fact that the people avoid speaking much on these topics at all, likely out of fear it might split the movement

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The crucial European and international dimension

A characteristic of the movement which may prove to be its Achilles’ heel is its French character which accompanies a surprising lack of understanding about the strong interrelationship between European countries. In every meeting of Yellow Vests I have been to, including their Assembly of Assemblies in Commercy, there were too few references to the fact that the French crisis is an integral part of a broader European crisis. Very few people, if any, take into account the fact that behind the Greek Crisis, Brexit, the rise of far-right in continental Europe and Corbyn in Britain, there is a single unifying cause: the attack of Financial Capital against European democracy and social welfare.

It is a Regime Change operation on a continental scale.