I must state that this article refers solely to the masses, not the riotous minority attempting to usurp the movement for their own gain.
These individuals, known as ‘yellow vests’, have started a movement that is spreading across continental Europe – with calls for similar action even being heard in the United Kingdom.
Initially, the movement was a response to the fuel tax rise implemented by French President Emmanuel Macron. However, the movement swiftly grew to encompass a number of issues affecting the lower classes in society – similar issues being experienced by people in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.
Political austerity is a choice, and this has been recognised by the people of France. Their legislative were failing them, so they rose against the state to express their anger and frustration.
They effectively won, as their legislative were forced to make concessions regarding taxation and wages – if not, the movement would continue to grow and cause disruption across France.
Similar movements have a historical precedent in France – dating back to the 18th Century. France, once again, has sent a message to the people of Europe:
Enough is enough, we do not have to tolerate the systematic exploitation of the lower classes within our society.
This message is universal, just as the values of republicanism were in the 18th Century. France offers a beacon of hope to the rest of the world – especially Europe.
For example, similar movements have emerged in the Netherlands. In Rotterdam, a few hundred protesters marched peacefully across the Erasmus Bridge singing a song about the Netherlands – they also handed flowers to passer-bys.
Sisters Beb and Ieneke Lambermont, two of those amongst the protesters, said: ‘Our children are hard-working people but they have to pay taxes everywhere. You can’t get housing anymore.’ She continued: ‘The social welfare net we grew up with is gone’.
‘The government is not there for the people. It is there to protect its own interests,’ she concluded.
The only downside to this thriving spirit of reform amongst the people is the potential for violence, but violence remains the preserve of a minority denounced by leadership figures. But, the fact remains, opposition is growing.
Should these movements be replicated by people in the United Kingdom? Well, protests serve an important societal function as they help to maintain the balance of power – but the outbreak of violence can often destroy these movements.