First, holy shit:
This happened yesterday. Make of it what you will.
Then, this morning, we awoke to news that Macron’s government would suspend the gas tax that has been cited as the reason for the Yellow Vest protests in Paris.
“The French government announced today that it will temporarily suspend the carbon tax plan that triggered weeks of protests nationwide. Two weekends of mass protests didn’t move the government. Only after the protests turned violent during the third weekend — owing to the behavior of thugs, not the main body of protesters — did the government relent, at least temporarily.
The announcement came not from President Emmanuel Macron, but from Prime Minister Édouard Philippe. He said, “No tax is worth putting in danger the unity of the nation.”
Really? Not even a tax that is supposed to help save the world from climate change? How nationalistic!
The tax hasn’t been revoked, just suspended for six months. This buys the government time, but does not resolve its dilemma.
Before long, the government will have to decide whether to continue putting the world elites’ conception of environmentalism ahead of the economic interests of French citizens and the interest of national unity.”
Paul makes a great point about nationalism vs. “saving the world”–Macron put his delusional quest to save the world ahead of the financial well-being of his people, and his people rose up in ferocious defiance. Macron then realized he could no longer keep ignoring and screwing over the everyday people of his country in his effort to virtue signal and please his globalist friends.
But the real story is what this portends for the future of Western democracy. Because we’ve just witnessed a major turning point.
In my view, the Macron government capitulated to the protesters because it felt there was a real chance the protests could turn into a full-scale national mutiny/revolution.
The last thing a democratically-elected government wants to do is capitulate to the demands of a mob. Doing so is a sign of weakness, plus it undermines civil democracy and persuasion–if you can get what you want by rioting, then what’s the point of voting, campaigning and debating?
The only reason a government will concede to a mob is if the government feels that if it does not, there’s a real danger of seriously losing control.
Make no mistake: this move by Macron was a last-resort effort to stave off what it felt could have been the administration’s ultimate undoing. He was backed into a corner. When he was pelted in the face by an egg, Macron realized that his physical safety was in jeopardy if he did not quell the mob.
It was a frank admission that the protesters had the upper hand. The French government was forced under duress to suspend this fuel tax. Had Macron not done this, he may well have been overthrown. Paris was full of tens of thousands of protesters and rioters, and at any moment they could have stormed Elysee Palace and forcibly deposed their leader.
The real problem, of course, is that the French ruling class allowed it to get to this point in the first place. Its continued disregard for the people was what ultimately led to this.
But make no mistake: this is a major moment in the history of modern Western civilization. We just saw the French government admit that it is no longer totally in control. That’s what a government admits when it capitulates to a baying mob.
It’s a tacit admission that the French government was fairly close to being overthrown.
Maybe modern governments aren’t so invincible and all-powerful after all.
That’s the real takeaway. Macron was faced with a choice: suspend the fuel tax or be forcibly overthrown.
We’re never really that far away from mob rule, even in the supposedly most advanced and powerful nations on earth.
When the Arab Spring was happening across the Middle East in 2011, I’m sure most Western governments and citizens figured, “That could never happen to us.”
But it can.