Paris, France — A grassroots movement made up of citizens who have become fed up with the political establishment in France has been growing since early November and it has come to a head this month. The movement, known as “gilets jaunes” or “yellow vests” began as an anti-tax protest but has since merged folks from the left and the right into a much broader anti-government movement. The movement has become so large that political experts are now calling it a “new revolution.”
French citizens have used the yellow vests that their government requires they carry in their vehicles as a symbol of this protest. As the Guardian points out, unlike previous French protest movements, it sprang up online through petitions and was organised by ordinary working people posting videos on social media, without a set leader, trade union or political party behind it.
The protest was so successful that last week, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced a six-month suspension of the fuel tax which triggered the unrest.
The people flexed their power and the people won—on this single issue. However, the people of France have long been exploited by their corrupt rulers and this has caused the rise of populism. Populist movements reject the left/right paradigm and don’t adhere to any strict political ideologies that tow left or right lines.
Because populist movements reject the left/right paradigm, they are far stronger as they bring in people from all over the spectrum. It also makes them quite rare and what we are witnessing with the yellow vest movement is approaching historical levels of populism.
As philosopher and political analyst Aleksandr Gelyevich Dugin explains:
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First of all, the fact that populist movements are directed against the political elite as a whole, without making a distinction, whether it is right or left-wing, is striking. This is the ‘uprising of the periphery of society against its center’. In his famous work, the American sociologist Christopher Lasch (1932–1994) designated the form of government that prevails in modern Western society as the “elite revolution”.
When referencing the ‘Elite Revolution’, Dugin explains how those at the top of the power structure tend to control this power through their immense will to rule. The result of the elite revolution is far more destructive to culture and society than a revolution of the masses because in the name of diversity, elites from all groups seek this power and use it to oppress their own. ‘Do as your group leaders tell you to do, or you are part of the problem.’