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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 11/20/19

The Redemption of France's Revolutionary Spirit

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However, a big difference between the two movements is that Occupy was led by many college-educated "do-gooders" - and God bless them - whereas the Yellow Vests are undoubtedly a movement of the most marginalized classes.

Seemingly the most comprehensive survey thus far showed that few Vesters are unemployed, two-thirds of Vesters make less than the average national wage, and an even greater percentage regret a lack of cultural resources and social links. In other words: hard-working, (yet still) poor, isolated citizens who yearn for more cultural enrichment.

This is why I have repeatedly drawn a different parallel: the Yellow Vests are essentially demanding a Cultural Revolution. Only China and Iran have ever had one, and both were state-sponsored.

Cultural Revolutions put the values of the formerly-oppressed classes into power - everything is brought to a halt for perhaps years in order to engage in mass discussions, with the aim of drastically updating a nation's democratic institutions and general culture in order to accord with modern political ideals. This is precisely what the Yellow Vests want: a long, comprehensive, democratic rethink and public debate over France's inclusion in the European Union, the eurozone, NATO, and the Americanization/nonlinearization of their domestic policies.

Chinese peasants, Iran's "revolution of the barefooted" and the rural-based Yellow Vests - it's impossible not to admit the parallels. The West, of course, only insists that both Cultural Revolutions were huge mistakes.

Not true: China's Cultural Revolution created the rural economic and human capital which laid the groundwork for their 1980s-onwards boom, although the West would have you believe its rebirth sprung only from Deng's reforms; Iran's Cultural Revolution swept away the elite's oppressive aping of the West and created the first modern Muslim democracy.

The Yellow Vests insist that they are the "real" France, and after a year of talking with them I agree - they know as much or more about politics than I do. Politics is not rocket science, after all, but mainly it is applying common morality to public policy and daily events.

Iran and China already had a government inspired by socialist democracy (and not by aristocratic liberal democracy) when they embarked on their Cultural Revolutions, whereas France does not - thus the repression.

What did the Occupy Movement "achieve", after all? They did not prevent any bailouts, they folded after infinitely less state repression and there is no direct movement linked with them today. However, only a Burkean conservative would insist that the Occupy Movement didn't wake many people up to the struggles of class warfare, and of egalitarian right and greedy wrong. It's never mentioned in the Western media - which only adores far-right, nativist, anti-socialist movements like in Hong Kong - but Algerians have protested for 39 consecutive weekends as well.

The Yellow Vests have not failed - they have much to celebrate on their birthday, and this article serves as a rare reminder of that reality.

Iranian and Russian media - doing France's job for them

What's important to note is that since late June - when France started going on summer vacation - Russian and Iranian media in Paris (including my Farsi- and Spanish-language colleagues) have been the only television journalists openly covering the Yellow Vest demonstrations.

My French colleagues have done the most cowardly thing possible - they quit the field. For many months people in Paris couldn't believe I had to work covering the Yellow Vests on Saturday: I repeatedly heard, "I thought they were finished?"

With exceptions I can count on one hand for the many months French media has been either totally absent or hidden. There are certainly no reporters doing live interviews (even without a logo displaying whom they work for), even though the presence of live reporters inherently reduces the willingness of police to be violent. Considering the toll of violence - 11,000 arrested, 2,000 convicted, 1,000 imprisoned, 5,000 hurt,1,000 critically injured and the innumerable tear-gassings - it's no wonder French people hate the media.

In France the vast majority of media is private, with editorial lines decided by a handful of billionaires - that's just how Western journalism works, sadly. "Free speech", they call it. However, where is the public media, since they are paid by taxpayer dollars to objectively cover their own nation?! Quite pathetic".

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Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has (more...)
 

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