Beginning of A New Political Era: The Yellow Vest Movement

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A Movement on the Charts!

We have always read about political movements in the pages of history. We have heard of the French Revolution, India’s struggle for independence, the war in Vietnam, and the radical leftist movements in Bengal. It seems like we are yet to witness prolonged mass movements in the streets across the world.

But wait, are we really missing out on something? Maybe the protests which are spreading like wildfire all across the globe! The gilet jaunes. I am talking about the Yellow Vest protests which have shaken France and, subsequently, the world itself!

Rising fuel prices, unbearable cost of living, and the burden of tax reforms on the middle and working classes are problems which every sound human being is aware of. We don’t need to go into a detailed analysis of these facts at this stage. On the contrary, we need to learn about the people who have chosen to make a difference and rise against the inhumanities that most of us have taken for granted.

Who are the Yellow Vests?

The Yellow Vest movement started out with the same grievances. People living in the rural and peri-urban areas of France had been feeling the effects of economic and cultural segregation for a long time, possibly from the 80s. In order to find a solution to the hardships they have had to face, individuals took to social media in the hopes of crafting a bearable future.

Leaderless and unstructured throughout, it all started with a petition that was posted online in May 2018 (the student’s movement of May 1968, anyone?), on October 10, 2018 a Facebook appeal was launched by two truck drivers which sought to mobilize the people. Gradually, the movement gathered the support of about 200,000 protesters who initiated demonstrations on the streets of the country in November.

The protesters demanded lower fuel taxes, reintroduction of solidarity tax on wealth, a minimum increase in wage, and President Macron’s resignation from his office. Macron has been held responsible for introducing the controversial fuel tax. It seems that is the source of discontent.

Will it be a Trendsetter?

One of the most unprecedented and amusing characteristics of the movement is that it’s not being led by any particular political party. The people participating in the movement belong to all kinds of political beliefs—from the far right to the far left—they will protest as long as they are subjected to the inhuman conditions they have been forced to live under for so long.

What about leaders? Well, the Yellow Vest protest has reached a new milestone in this regard as well. The participants of the movement follow, what many term to be, a ‘horizontal’ mode of protest which is against the creation of any leader, be it formal or informal. Just as the protesters defy segregation on the basis of political affiliations, they do not tolerate the emergence of a leader and see to it that any person willing to establish himself/herself as the same is checked at an early stage.

The protests have turned violent in many places with the police assailing the rebels with tear gas shells, water cannons, and brute force. That, however, has not deterred the movement from its steady progression. In fact, the Yellow Vest movement has spread to other countries of the world such as Belgium, Greece, Serbia, Israel, Bulgaria, Sweden, and Iraq to name a few. Protesters in Taiwan have begun demonstrations as well.

Dreams of a New World!

In the present, we can only ponder about what the movement entails for the common people. The established notions of political theory which have separated people for so long seem to be falling apart. It remains to be seen whether the future holds promise of a greater union. I think we would be too glad to be a part of the same.

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A literary enthusiast and bibliophile by nature, he is an ardent lover of themes related to politics, modernism and postmodernism. He has a penchant for associating himself with issues that concern the society at large. He nurses dreams of being a flaneur one day and walk in the shoes of Shakti Chattopadhyay, Arthur Rimbaud and Charles Baudelaire!