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I like the observation that the surprising thing is not the riots in France, but the lack of riots in Britain. If Britain doesn't have a deal with the EU when the deadline arrives, they are suddenly going to see major part of their economy choked off by trade barriers. They are sleep-walking into a train wreck, with journalists and politicians trying to figure out what is going on, but the general public not seeming to recognize their danger.

That said, the Gilets Jaunes are both less and more than they look like. Most of Europe has been increasingly annoyed and just plain fed up with the EU for years now. However, unlike the US most of Europe does not maintain the power of its elites by means of a political party duopoly. There are subtler ways. So, it is far easier to start a new political party in most of Europe than it is in the US, and people do so frequently. That's what Macron did, and he was spectacularly successful precisely because of the level of frustration with the status quo in France and much of the rest of the EU. The 'protest votes' that got Trump elected because there was literally no other option but to ram some candidate, any candidate, that the establishment didn't like through the existing system were given a reasonable option in France. Macron looked like a relatively competent reformer, and people were willing to give him a chance.

But as often happens to reformers, he has been co-opted into the existing power relations of the system as it stands, and has been trying to keep the old system going instead of alter or build a new one. The sheer inertia of complex systems is often too much to overcome from within, which is why complex societies tend to have definite lifespans. They grow for a while, reach a peak, and then collapse precisely because reform from within is impossible.

So, Macron tries to impose new taxes to force people to use less fuel and move to electric vehicles. But of course, the people who depend on vehicles for their livelihood are on very tight budgets and this extra expense makes it impossible for them to continue to make ends meet. That was the spark that set off the initial protests, but as we are seeing, even after he backed off the tax, the protests continue. The protestors want him to resign outright. This is not about a minor tax. It's about the whole system not working anymore, a broad crisis in modern "developed" societies. Macron came to power on precisely that frustration which is now being unleashed against him. And the Gilets Jaunes protests are now spreading even to other countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands. The exact symbol that happened to catch when it started, the safety jacket required in cars on much of continental Europe, is not that important. This is just the beginning of a much larger crisis.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10-Dec-18 03:11 by Nolondil.

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