What's the deal with the yellow vest movement?

Image from  Ella87  on Pixabay

Image from Ella87 on Pixabay

What’s the Deal with the Yellow Vest Movement?

The yellow vest movement or the Mouvement des gilet jaunes is a populist, grass roots movement for economic justice that started in France in November of 2018. Mostly made up of working class people the movement is known for its concerns over high fuel prices and high cost of living making life for the working class more difficult. They called for and are still working for lower fuel taxes, more taxation on the wealthy, minimum wage increases, and Macron’s resignation from his role as president of France.

It is generally considered a leftist movement but also has some people within it who claim to be on the right or who voted for far right candidates. The protests are considered by many (including myself) to be positive in nature and impact, calling those in power to account and disrupting things as much as necessary to make government take notice of them and do change things.

They wear the yellow vests as a symbol because since 2008 in France, by law all motorists are required to have high vis vests in their vehicles while driving. They’re also reasonably inexpensive and easily recognizable. 

I’d like to talk a little bit about the politics or the French movement and then I will go into a couple other countries and then I will look at the Canadian yellow vest movement which to some is the opposite of the French one and actually serves the purposes of those in power rather than calling them to task or holding them accountable

The French Mouvement des gilet jaunes is a broad movement with supporters from across the political spectrum but a group of journalists looked at the yellow vests 42 directives and came to the conclusion that around two thirds of them were closer to radical left positions than other political groups, but about half could also be compatible with far right viewpoints and that all of the directives were about as far from centrist liberal views as one can get. 

After looking at the articel on Le Monde and a leisurely scroll through the different directives and which political leaders would be on board with them I would say that beyond anything the French yellow vests is an anti centrist movement that is specifically concerned with the troubles that working class people face. This is largely a movement in line with my own viewpoints against the wealthy and for regular people. 

Of course these similarities seem to fade away once we look at the way the movement has evolved in some other countries. I won’t go into all of the countries that have their own yellow vest movements but I will mention a few. 

In Belgium the movement is protesting against the high fuel prices much like in France and the new carbon taxation that will increase the price per liter of diesel by 6.5 cents and 2.9 cents per liter of gas.Their movement is also still ongoing with calls for resignation of politicians and other directives. One interesting thing about Belgium is that they have a law against hooligans that is supposed to deter violent protests but there seems to be some debate over whether it’s effective or not. 

In the UK the leader of the yellow vest movement there was arrested not too long ago before being released the next day and the yellow vest movement there generally seems to be a far right one with clear pro brexit and anti immigration ideas. There is a movement in the works to try to take the yellow vest symbol away from the right and align it more with the leftist values that are associated with the movement in France.

There are various yellow vests all over the world and they all have their own nuances and differences. My main info comes in the form of the Canadian perspective. Canadian yellow vests are largely anti immigrant, pro pipeline, and anti Trudeau. They blame our current PM for every problem in society and they want him tried for treason and hung. If that’s not enough they are incredibly islamaphobic. They hate Jagmeet Singh and it’s not because they actually know anything about him. They think he’s a Muslim because they don’t know the difference between a Sikh and a Muslim. All they know is that he’s got brown skin and isn’t Christian. The Canadian yellow vest movement has also been tied to leaders of various white supremacist groups as well as far right fascist groups like the Sons of Odin. In their facebook group they regularly talk about killing Justin Trudeau and share fake news while complaining about non white immigrants, indigenous people, and other people of color. Essentially, it’s a bullshit factory for racist shitbags to complain about all things progressive, leftist, or liberal. 

In Saskatchewan we have had yellow vest blocking roads with their diesel trucks in Estevan, in Regina they walk around with anti immigration signs, and in Weyburn they stood on the side of the road and waved to supporters, because Weyburn fucking sucks and more than half the people there support this backwards movement. There are pages devoted to keeping abreast of the goings on of the yellow vest movement in Canada and if you check them out you’ll find exactly as I did, that this movement that claims to “just care about Canadian values” is exactly what I’ve described here. Though I suppose that anyone by now knows that “canadian values” is a dog whistle for white christian conservative values.  

All in all, I think that most places in the world have some mixture of right and left political ideas and many agendas with the intent or even possibly the effect of changing things for the benefit of the working class. A couple places seem to have let the right take it over and completely coopt the message. The UK at least has a counter movement trying to take back the symbolism while in Canada the best we seem to be able to muster is pointing out that the canadian yellow vests are not working for anyone or anything but are really just a collection of racists and idiots who don’t like our Prime Minister.