France: What are the yellow vests protests about?

The reason you hear the paradoxical “Mexicans are hard workers but also take welfare” is the assumption that they’re all taking the money under the table for their work and not reporting it, thus their income is artificially low. It’s a common welfare scam for everyone so it’s not contradictory as people think.

Tell me a country with more than one town where that doesn’t happen. It even happens in Andorra!

The capital tends to think that, since they represent the country, they’re also representative of the country in what we might call “statistical terms”; that is, if you ask a large enough group of people from the capital, you’d get the same results as if you asked an equivalently large group from the whole country (except that people from the provinces are all a bunch of country bumpkins, but that’s neither here nor there; and people from the capital are all a bunch of snobs but that’s neither there nor here). What’s good for or in the capital is good for and in the whole country. People who don’t live in the capital, well, it’s not because they don’t want to, it’s because they… haven’t been able to move there, or something. The capital often combines the worst housing market in the country (or close to it) with salaries which aren’t higher than in other places or may even be lower. People from the capital are surprised when they need to hire someone from “the provinces” (not having found a qualified person in the capital) or, horror of horrors, need to call the central offices of a national company which is not based in the capital. And so forth. It’s pretty ridiculous and pretty ridiculously general.

And it happens at lower levels too! People in Rioja to pick a Spanish province at random complain about Madrid, but people in Calahorra (province of Rioja) complain about Logroño (capital of Rioja), and people in Calahorra’s surroundings complain about Calahorra…

Its an interesting comparison to Trump in that Macron bashed Trump for doing “America first”. Instead pushing a globalist agenda and downplaying French pride and nationalism. But now it seems many French are indeed proud of being French, hate the EU, hate the globalist agenda, and maybe want to see a little “France first”.

Maybe Trump was right?

I don’t know about now, but nationalistic movements have been known to skip countries.

You appear to be confusing “French people first in France” (which is a factor) with “France first” (which is a completely different animal). The French aren’t so much proud of their country’s influence in the world as absolutely convinced that it is Right and Proper that their country be influential. They know that being influential requires conversing with other people and negotiating; a toddler throwing a tantrum may get what he wants (if what he wants is a timeout, that is), but nobody would call that toddler influential.

I am writing from the UK and a British perspective so that should be taken into account. But I work and socialise with a lot of Frenchies and go to Paris regularly. There are many French in London and I pick up on the issues. It is very interesting to make comparisons between the two countries who are forever looking at each other with a sideways glance. I am an interested observer and want to understand what is happening over there. I might pop over for visit once the riots have died down to get away from all the UK Brexit madness.

Despite France being a republic there is still a tendency in its political culture towards an elitism that regards Paris as being central to the countries identity and the nature seat of political power.

There is no city culture more aloof that carries itself with such grandiosity and hauteur as that of Paris. Not even the undeservedly entitled attitude of the loft dwellers in the Manhattan financial and cultural elite of New York as they imperiously look down on the upstate farming towns can compete with thinly disguised contempt with which a Parisian looks down on anyone from outside the centre of the city. Anyone driving a car without a Paris number plate is regarded as fair game for the bumper car antics that passes for motoring etiquette in Paris driver. Parisians have some very rude words for out of towners who dare to trouble their busy schedules.

Macron has made a few mistakes in his interactions with the public that suggested and arrogant snobbish attitude towards the troubles of the common folk that had them sharpening their pitchforks and lighting their torches. It did not take much to get them marching on Paris with a whole host of diverse grievances. The extremists on the far left and far right are responsible for much of the violence and now the traditional Front National on the far right and the big Labour unions on the left adding their numbers to the protests. All eager to represent common people against a corrupt and arrogant elite.

Macron got elected on the basis that he was neither of the Left or of the Right. He claims to be a Centrist reformer. This was always going to be a difficult balancing act and it did not take long for him to find himself being politically attacked from all sides. Now with these massive street protests that he can only control using the police.

France has three times as many police as the UK for a country with the same size population. French cops do not see their job as being nice guy community cops. They are essentially a military force there to protect the French state from the rabble.

Sometimes things go to extremes and there is a fear that might happen with some of the these huge demonstrations.

This was going to happen sooner or later, but it looks like Macron has been taken by surprise. When governments get spooked, sometimes they can overreact and make things a whole lot worse. Macron has desperately tried to defuse the tension with concessions on the fuel tax issue but he might be too late. His opponents can smell blood and will try to keep up the pressure on the streets.

The demonstrations are a manifestation of the same anti-political elite tensions that are seen in the US, UK and many other countries. However in France they are have no particular leader or a single issue. Everyone who has a beef with the government is joining in whether they live in rural areas or not.

It is interesting how this general dissatisfaction with the political system by people who think their concerns are not being fairly represented is being played out in different countries. Sometimes it is gravitating around anti-establishment populist politicians with simple solutions to complex problems. In the UK the voters have given the government big kick up the backside by voting to tear up 40 years of trade agreements with the EU. In Italy the populists are winning on an anti-immigrant campaign that leaves thousands of refugees drowned at sea. In France they are taking to the streets.

It is not going to end well.

This was an awesome bit of writing.

…Thanks. So many words. I got a bit carried away. Scribomania is getting bad again. :o

So that famous New Yorker cover is nothing compared to how Parisians view France?

Imagine how bad it would be if New York was also a centre of political power like Washington.

France is a very centralised country.

Its political identity still owes much to the time of Louis XIV, the Sun King, in whose person was the very embodiment of the French State.

Despite trying very hard at being a Republic the French have a fondness for a big man running the country being the centre of attention and telling everyone what to do. They tolerate that for a long time until suddenly patience runs out at the way things are mismanaged.

But, to be fair, that is a political frame of mind that is not exclusively French.

Are they?

I live in the Netherlands and I haven’t seen a single one.

Except for a colleague at my work (who, as an employee of my office, is definitely making a very good living off “The System” and the other day defined himself as being “anti-system”; but I have had him classified as “textbook example of abyssal moronitude” for a LOOOOONG time already) who came to work today wearing a yellow vest (so, not even showing up at a crossroads to actually, you know, protest or something).

In fact, in many ways what we think of as “France” is actually the Parisian colonial empire.

Bolding mine

On their fifthattempt so far.

Updating this thread:

A question: how do the protesters know which cars to torch?