Scenario One: All those who were protesting in Paris have won, and the French government has caved in to all their demands! Scenario Two: All taxes in France have been reduced, wages increased, and President Macron has stepped down!
I do not only wish to talk about the fuel tax......attempts to impose it have been already abandoned! I am not talking about increase of the minimum wage - the government already agreed to give it a by 100 euros per month.
What I do wish to be say....is the real, fundamental changes which many protesters seem to be desiring: substantial tax reduction for the majority of French citizens, generous increase in wages and an enhancement of social benefits for all.
So, if the (Gilets Jaunes) Yellow Vests, manage to win all this, then what is the likely scenario ? Who would be the beneficiary? And also, who would be handicapped, at the losing end?
A friend had recently confided to me that, the people would be better served if, France reduced its military budget, and from those billions of euros saved, easily finance demands of the protesters.
Another colleague had suggested that the richest citizens of France (I call them 'elites') should be taxed heavily, and the money saved in this way, could be then distributed among the poor and the lower middle class.
All this sounds 'reasonable'? Yes, definitely; reasonable and logical. The only, small defect is: we all know that it will never happen this way.
President Macron was elevated to the throne by precisely those so-called elites. In return, those rich folks expect their privileges to be guaranteed, even swollen.
And, to imagine that a NATO member country (in this case France) would suddenly slash its military budget and from what is saved, start to finance various novel social programs for the poor and the middle class, is unrealistic, even 'childish' in its concept!
So where will the funds come from, if the French government decides to do something truly 'radical'.... at least by the standards of our era of this jet-age capitalism: to listen to its own people?
Let me stop beating about the bush. I have a question that I want to ask brutally and objectively:
"What if all demands of the Yellow Vests do get satisfied; who will pay the bill?"
To put all this into a context: I write this piece, imagining myself to be living in the metropolis of Dhaka, the capital of the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh!
Nearly fifty years ago, I used to live in this 'down to earth' city. I spent almost twenty beautiful and innocent years of my life here, when it was still poor, and people had remembered the Great Partition of Bengal, soon followed by the Partition of India. And, the human carnage that followed communal riots, leading to the creation of Pakistan.
What amazed me was that the people seemed to 'forgive' the migrant refugees, the residue of India's division. Yet, they had never forgiven the Pakistani rulers or dictators.
This was just a stray afterthought. Let me escort you to the company of former Vietnamese refugees, who happen to be my neighbors and good friends in Aurora.
"Why?" I ask my friends. "How is it possible? Wasn't the murderous campaign during the 'American War' (which is known in the West as 'Vietnam War') terribly brutal, with millions of Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians losing their lives?"
"Of course, it was", I was readily explained. "But we fought and, despite the terrible losses and hardship, we defeated Americans in relatively short time. And anyway, it was not only them; members of the coalition also consisted of countries like South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Thailand, and of course, France."
And the story continued:
"The French were occupying and tormenting us for much longer. They also had been humiliating our people, continuously. They enslaved up, tortured us, took our women, they raped them, and they had stolen all that we had."
Nearby where I used to live, was a notorious "Central Jail", equipped with guillotines, torture chambers, solitary confinement cells. Now, on exhibit there, are monstrous instruments used by the French colonizers, to torture and rape captured Vietnamese patriot women: beer bottles, electric wires, walking canes....
Whatever the colonized Indochina had, was stolen: taken to France, in order to finance construction of grandiose theatres, railroads, metro, parks, and universities. And yes, to subsidize formation of that famous French social system which, as the Yellow Vests are now correctly saying, is being dismantled by the French 'elites' and by the political system, which they are now controlling fully.
Vietnamese people fought bravely against the French, finally defeating them during an iconic battle at Dien Bien Phu. But the victorious Vietnamese Communist forces inherited a ransacked and divided land, stripped of its resources and even of its art work (several French intellectuals, including famous writer and later Minister of Culture in de Gaulle's government, Andre Malraux, had confessed to stealing art objects from 'Indochina', when he lived there as a young man).
Needless to say, that until now, French companies are brutally plundering in many parts of Southeast Asia, through mining and other neo-colonialist projects, as they have done in various areas of Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America.
Today, if we ask someone in Hanoi, in Phnom Penh or in Vientiane, whether people of 'Indochina' (what an insulting and bizarre name was given to this part of the world by the French, during the colonial era!) are supporting Yellow Vests in Paris? And further ask them whether they think that if they win concessions in Paris, would it improve quality of life in Asia.
Can you really guess what the answer would be?
I don't say that demands of the people who are fighting in the streets of Paris are wrong. They are not. They are absolutely legitimate.
French elites are brutal, selfish, even perverse. Present French government is simply serving them, as the US presidents have continued to 'serve' the interests of huge corporations, including those deadly military conglomerates. Only, they need to go! They should disappear, and give way to what is logical and a human evolutionary pattern: the socialist, and egalitarian society.
It is unfortunate that the French are however, not ready to go. On the contrary, they have been pilfering for centuries, the entire planet, and now they have gone so far to the extent, as to plundering their own people (who had been previously, used to sharing the booty).
French citizens are not used to being plundered. For centuries they lived well, and for several last decades, they were living 'extremely well'. They were enjoying some of the most generous benefits anywhere in the world.
Who paid for it? Did it matter? Was it ever important to those in Paris, in other big cities, or in the countryside? Were the French farmers wondering how come they were getting generous subsidies, not only when they were producing excessive amounts of food and wine, but also when they were asked by the government not to produce much of anything?
Did they often travel to Senegal, or elsewhere in West Africa, to investigate how these subsidies thoroughly destroyed agriculture sector, in several former French colonies? Did they care that lives of millions there, were totally ruined?
Or that, as far as Indonesia or Brazil, French corporations had been, aggressively, taking over food and beverage production, as well as food distribution, and that as a result, food prices in many poor countries skyrocketed to double or triple of what they were in Paris, while the local incomes remained in some cases, only 10% of those in France?
And the food is not the only example. Coming back, this write up was supposed to be about something slightly different: about the Yellow Vests, and what would happen if all of their demands would be met.
If we agree that the regime that is governing in France, entire West, and in many of its colonies and neo-colonies, is truly monstrous, perverse and brutal, we have to come to a logical conclusion that it is not going to pay the bill for better medical care, education, as well as lower taxes and higher wages of the ordinary French citizens.
If demands of the protesters are met, there will be someone else who will be forced to cover the bill. Most likely tens of millions, or hundreds of millions will be 'taxed'. And that will force them not to live in France, or in the European Union, or even anywhere close by.
Are protesters of 'Mouvement des Gilets Jaunes', thinking about this? Does it matter to them even, at least, a little bit?
It did not matter in the past, either. Perhaps when few people like Jean Paul Sartre were still alive, these questions were periodically asked. But not lately. Not during this rebellion on Champs-Élysées.
Do people in France question how many millions would have to die in order to improve the quality of life in the French cities and in provinces?
Or perhaps, to 'compensate', in covering the social spending, some country would indispensably 'have to be' invaded? Would it be Iran? Or perhaps, Venezuela?
The New York Times, in one of its articles about the French provinces, mentioned that people were complaining they could afford to even take their wives to a restaurant for dinner, anymore. That is truly serious, but would it justify a battle for Iran or Venezuela, and their consequent plunder, or would it excuse the massacre of further few hundreds of thousands of West Papuans?
I would suggest something that would help to convince the true internationalists, as well as people all over the marauded world, that the 'Mouvement des gilets jaunes' is not just selfishly fighting for the benefits that would improve lives of the French citizens, at the expense of many others all over the world:
They should indicate that they understand; that they are not indifferent to others. Let me say with clarity, that they are against capitalism and imperialism, against colonialism and ravaging of the people, and their resources in absolutely all parts of our planet!
And further, say to myself, that the protestors in the yellow vests have stood for freedom, equality, and fraternity of all human beings, not just French!
And beyond this, also say that this is true revolution, true battle for improving our world, not just for more money, lower taxes, or better benefits exclusively for people who continue to live in France!
I would also like to say that they would never accept any benefits or extra money, if they come from robbing of poor and colonized nations, of all that have left.
If they do say all this, and if they demonstrate that they truly mean it, I will have to shout 'Vive la Révolution!' and then, join them - these protesters - truly, wholeheartedly.
Until they do, I am convinced that their victory would not harm others.....yes, millions of others I will continue to be much more concerned about people of Vietnam and Papua, about Iran, Africa, Syria or the entire Middle East, than about whether someone individual in rural France, can afford to take his wife for dinner to a cozy restaurant.
Viva Gilets Jaunes! Viva France!
The writer is a former educator based in Chicago
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