by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog
The fundamental problem with media coverage regarding regarding the Yellow Vests is that it fails to see it as an already-permanent movement, or even a possibly-permanent one: each week must be either the biggest one yet, or the very last one.
The Yellow Vests see it similarly, but differently: for them each week is the very last one, too… because they will FINALLY storm Élysée Palace (Act 16: “Insurrection”, Act 17: “Decisive Act”, and now Act 18 on March 16: “Ultimatum”.)
The Yellow Vests are like the Vietcong: it’s not that they are so innately tough, it’s that they have nowhere else to go. Ask a protesting Yellow Vester and they’ll tell you: they have no money to pay their bills, much less do anything fun on the weekends… so why not go protest and enjoy what you can’t buy – camaraderie?
As a journalist who has covered every medium- to major-sized protest movement in France in the last decade (and the small ones, i.e. pro-Palestine, anti-imperialism, anti-capitalism, etc.), I have come to deeply resent and fear the Yellow Vests.
What a damned long workout they impose on us! They are marching 10-15km every Saturday, with zero consideration for TV journalists who have to carry equipment. Furthermore, why on earth do they march so damned fast?! If Guinness keeps this record, the Yellow Vests must take the crown for “protester km/h”.
This is surely the legacy of the constant police attacks during the first six weeks – you can’t hit what you can’t catch.
It’s also more confirmation that so many of them have not been politically active (which is also why so many get arrested – they don’t know what they are doing): French demonstrations are supposed to be festive, leisurely, tipsy strolls. French union demonstrations are basically half-parties: you lose a day’s pay… but there will be loud music, lots of alcohol, cheap barbecue, and scatological signs instead of proper propaganda. “We didn’t get our political demands? Oh well, at least we had a good time.” But at Yellow Vest demos public intoxication is far, far rarer and political seriousness is far greater.
The most significant media polls about the Vesters (and there are crazily few polls about them) revolves around a majority of France now not wanting them to protest every Saturday.