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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/28/19

Why France's 20- and 30-somethings hate the Yellow Vests

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· What about the poor city suburbs, surely they are sympathetic? Indeed, the poor Muslim, Arab and black areas are all totally sympathetic to the Vesters. However, they are not stupid they know that if they go to the Vester demonstrations in any city the cops will absolutely, undoubtedly wage police brutality on them first. This truth is so very, very, very self-evident to Muslims and people of color that we cannot even imagine that many of you cannot accept this, and we just turn and walk away when we start getting blamed for not leading the Yellow Vest charge. People from these areas have been totally marginalized" but when you need cannon fodder, then we get an engraved invitation? LOL, thanks, but no thanks. Nobody cares about the opinion of these areas/groups anyway, but I can report that the Vesters do indeed have their sincere moral support. Finally, Muslims and blacks probably compose around 5-8% of France if they did join in mass only 1 out of every 20 Vesters or so would be a non-white, anyway.

And here is the main reason why French whites who are the majority among the 20- and 30-somethings in France do not support the Vesters.

· I was surprised at the immediate antipathy for the Yellow Vests among the young white French adults I talked with in Paris, but who are the young white French adults in Paris? These are the primarily the people from small towns who are creative types and who move to the urban areas in order to flee the small-town culture, people, mores and activities they found so very stifling. The Yellow Vests are a primarily rural movement, and as I have described their primary social-class makeup France's young urbanites seem to view the Vesters as the older classmates/bullies who made fun of them for being arty and weird and urbanite-aping back in their small town many 30-somethings in Paris moved expressly to get away from these types! Therefore, it is unthinkable for them to side with the Yellow Vests, and after only the very first couple of demonstrations Parisian young adults seemingly all turned against the Yellow Vests, in my experience. These Parisian young adults see a faded, generic, poorly-drawn forearm tattoo on many a Vester, and then they look at their own fancy tattoo (a Chinese character, a magic symbol, or some emblem of personal motivation or social defiance) and they think: "To hell with those white-trash I never got invited to their parties and I want to lead a different lifestyle."

So there you have it in a nutshell. Many French people actually made the move to the big city from the small town because they fundamentally resent the people who primarily compose the Yellow Vests.

There are other reasons:

· Paris attracts young adults from all over the world where are they? The Western expatriates living in France feel similarly or even more hostile than their French counterparts, in my experience. Many absurdly view Yellow Vests as outright reactionaries, mainly because they have absolutely no idea what the hell they are talking about when it comes to "French culture + class struggle". These Western white expats simplistically view Vesters as extensions of their own "Brexiteers", "basket of deplorable American rednecks", etc., and do not feel the need to dig any deeper than such a superficial comparison many of these immigrants would have a hard time understanding even if they tried, such is their unfamiliarity with a class lens. Bottom line: they are not about to stop the "Western expat party" and get tear gassed for any Yellow Vest, that is certain.

· France, contrary to Anglophone media claims, is not a socialist country: aristocratic snobbery permeates and runs amok in the culture here as only it can on the Old Continent. It's worse in Paris, but "I reject you first" is the initial war a French person declares upon meeting someone. The young adult urbanites in France have not at all been inculcated with class warfare and class solidarity, but identity politics: they identify with their fellow "bobos" (bourgeois bohemians), hipsters, artists and pretty young people. Have a shoulder tattoo I can't see and not a wrist tattoo? Not cool enough. Next please. Swipe left. Je m'en fous.

· France was an individualist country even before the rise of neoliberalism, I imagine, but rapacious neoliberalism surely leads to a fundamental lack of sympathy: Young urbanites here simply cannot imagine nor do they try to the grim future which 50-year old Yellow Vesters know to be a rapidly encroaching fact.

· Furthermore, most young people are dumb, (If you were paying me for this I'd look it up and provide the link but you'll have to just take my word for it): I read a recent poll which said that something like 10% of young French people think Macron's radical reforms will not actually reduce their own pensions, LOL! Sure" you'll be the one who is special. Vesters are old enough to know better to get involved with this movement.

Given all these facts, we must realize that these urbanites want revenge on the class which primarily composes the Vesters they don't want to see them win, and they have repeatedly told me they don't want them marching anymore in their hipster paradise areas of Paris.

I use the strong word "revenge" because I have found this to be a hugely important motivator in Western capitalist society. These young (smug, stupid, classist, fake-leftist/rabid neoliberal) anti-Yellow Vesters want not only a huge chunk of the pie, but they also want to show all the people they left behind what a big shot they lost.

This is not hyperbole this is what "competition" truly is. Western society (being anti-socialist and rabidly individualist) is fundamentally predicated on competition, and thus these types of feelings can be found plastered on billboards as a form of encouragement.

Finally, it is not "cool" to be a Vester in the French mainstream, and 20- and 30-somethings in the West prize "cool" above all. If you think famous actors, musicians, artists, thinkers, ballplayers, etc. are showing up/have ever showed up to Yellow Vest demonstrations" you must think these people don't fear losing their social status more than anything then they would have to get a real job.

"But Ramin," you object, "how can cool people not be at the Yellow Vest demonstrations when YOU are there?"

Thank you. It seems paradoxical, indeed, but there's an easy explanation: I turn 42 next week.

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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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