Without a materialist analysis of the class structure of the imperialist nations, we cannot recognize who are friends and who are enemies of the global proletariat.
Against the wishful thinking of the “left” of the oppressor nations, the correct political orientation toward France’s “Yellows Vests” is decidedly not to see in them the seeds of an impending socialist revolution. In this, we will be proven correct: contradictions between the labor aristocracy and the haute bourgeoisie are not expressions of developing proletarian consciousness or the development of a revolutionary situation. The fury of the French labor aristocracy over increased commodity prices, income taxes, and retirements are coupled to their rage over immigrants not speaking French, over the police not receiving high enough wages, and over what they perceive as insufficient economic nationalism. While some so-called communists will simply close their eyes to these latter demands, pretending that they do not exist or are merely tangential to what they dream is a mass proletarian and potentially insurrectionary movement, we can see the unity of imperialist social democracy and chauvinism in the ideology and political interests of parasitism. The Yellow Vests have written their political program: “To live in France means to become French.” Instead, these anti-immigrant national populisms should be understood in the context of similar movements across Europe (such as those animating the recent anti-migrant riots in Germany) and the United States (in the form of Trump and related expressions, such as the Alt Right).
While the imperialist labor aristocracies of Europe feel entitled to cheap gasoline and commodity prices, they riot in the streets to keep the proletariat locked out of their nations – and to keep them chained to the imperialist relations of production which make those commodities so cheap.
The labor aristocracy of the United States and its representatives have lined up behind the Yellow Vests. The pro-imperialist and anti-communist American outlet Jacobin, widely regarded in the United States as one of the most significant “socialist” publications, reproduced an essay by the French novelist Édouard Louis contending that condemnations of the Yellow Vests were condemnations of the working class and their struggle for justice, embodied in the figure of his father:
Hence the reason why I felt personally targeted by the contempt and the violence of the bourgeoisie, which immediately came down on this movement. For me, as me, anyone who insulted a gilet jaune was insulting my father.
While he does not mention this in his essay for Jacobin, writing in the New York Times in 2017 (and in yet another apologia for the right-wing and anti-immigrant affections of the French working class), Louis divulged that his father, this proletarian ideal made flesh, was a fascist who hungered for the genocide of Arabs and Jews:
In the 2000s, when I was growing up, every member of my family voted for Le Pen. My father went into the polling station with my older brothers to make sure they really were voting for the National Front…
A vote for the National Front was of course a vote tinged with racism and homophobia. My father looked forward to the time when we would “throw out the Arabs and the Jews.” He liked to say that homosexuals deserved the death penalty — looking sternly at me, who already in primary school was attracted to other boys on the playground.
But the celebration of the Yellow Vests is not limited to social democrats. The crypto-fascist Workers World Party, an eclectic “Leninist” grouping, follows hand-in-hand with Jacobin in opportunistically leaving out all mention of the anti-immigrant xenophobia, racialism, and national chauvinism of the Yellow Vests, instead heralding the movement as one whose participants are developing a a proletarian class consciousness: “Their growing anger is turning into rage, especially since the government has hardly budged on their demands, which have evolved from lowering taxes to increasing the minimum wage and improving pensions.” Such lies are dangerous to the oppressed.
In the last days, the Yellow Vests have made further clear their rejection of internationalism, taking to the streets to declare their opposition to President Emmanuel Macron’s arrival in Marrakesh, Morocco, to sign the UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. Numerous outlets for the Yellow Vests have argued this “Pacte de Marrakech” is a “death certificate for France,” an attempt to facilitate “the arrival of 480 million migrants to destroy Europe,” “900,000 additional immigrants per year just for France,” and is intended to “prepare the subversion of France” in a “great replacement” of the “French” (that is, Europeans) by immigrants. And, against the intentional obfuscations of the revisionist and opportunist “left” of the imperialist countries, some Yellow Vests even put their opposition in stark class terms:
[Macron] prepares today, by the Pact of Marrakesh, the submersion of the country by the “reserve army of Capital” which is massive and permanent immigration that finances the French people by tightening their belts still more.
These pronouncements of the Yellow Vests have a white nationalist heritage in France, and they are advanced in the same voice as the American Alt Right.(1) As Dan Glazebrook has pointed out, anti-immigrant animus is now central to the fascist movements of Europe and the United States. That the “left” of the First World has aligned themselves with the Yellow Vest movement in France speaks to what classes they really stand with — and to their stand against the world’s proletariat. The Yellow Vests are not the gravediggers of capitalism, but harbingers of a rising fascism.
(1) See, for example, “The Great Erasure,” which was published in the first issue of Radix, a journal edited by Richard Spencer and one of the founding theoretical essays of the Alt Right.