The anarcho-syndicalist international has published a public call backing a general strike and supporting a statement on the Yellow Vest movement written by its French section, CNT-AIT.
The International Workers Association (IWA) would like to show its solidarity with the social protests occurring in France which are yet another example of resistance to the overbearing exploitation that working people around the world are facing.
Below we would like to publish parts of a text sent by the CNT-AIT and an appeal for solidarity.
Call for solidarity with the popular movement in France of the “Yellow Vests”.
For more than two months, a social movement of a new type has been shaking France.
Hundreds of thousands of people, mostly working classes (poor or middle-class workers, unemployed, temporary workers, pensioners, …), have been gathering to spontaneously occupy public spaces (and especially the “roundabouts ” ones may find at the entrance of any city or village in France), to express their anger and to seek how to overcome the current political system. These thousands of people have been using the method of struggle which are familiar to anarcho-syndicalists: decisions in assemblies, refusal to have leaders or representatives, direct action (that is, action taken directly by the people in struggle, and therefore without political parties, without unions or any other organisations outside of the assembly which would be intermediate between the assembly and the Power / State / Government / Boss).
An autonomous movement with diversity of tactics and mobility. (“Auto” means self and “nomous” means norm, so an autonomous movement that defines its own rules for action, outside the regulatory and legal framework.) To identify themselves, people in struggle have adopted the “yellow vest”, a universal symbol that makes everyone equal, and gives visibility to those whom those in Power do not want to see: the poor, those excluded from the economic system by capitalism and globalisation. The Bosses and Capitalists are worried about the impact of this movement on the economy. The cost for the French economy is already estimated to be in the billions of euros. In the two months of this autonomous agitation, the “Yellow vest” movement has already obtained more social progress than all trade-union representatives and political elections in the last 20 past years.
You’ve probably seen the movies and the pictures of the clashes between the yellow vests and the anti-riot police every week-end since November. These images are certainly spectacular; we can even speak of insurrection in Paris on December 1st or in the city of Toulouse (where our main group in France is located) each weekend. However, we have to look further and avoid the hypnosis of images. In our point of view, what is really important in this movement is not so much these images of battles that are looping over the internet or on the TVs, but rather the fact that thousands of people have got used to meeting regularly in assemblies to decide by themselves, without political party or outside organization, developing their own policies and criticizing Capitalism and the State.
The Power (Capitalism, Class and State) is even more afraid of this momentum of mass awareness of the workers self-capacity for autonomous action, than they are afraid of spectacular violence. As the weeks go by, the revolt, which initially focused solely on a fuel tax issue, has spread and could lead to a complete challenge of the system. To break this movement, the Power tries all the weapons at its disposal: it first tried to say that it was a movement of the far right. In this ridiculous attempt to slander it, The State has been helped by the majority of libertarian or leftist organisations which are so cut-off from the working class that they are incapable of recognising the class nature of this movement. It is true that – in some cities – racists tried to manipulate the movement at first, but for the moment they have been put in the minority and even sometimes violently expelled from the demonstrations.
Then the government tried to calm the spirits by announcing some subsidies for those with the lowest wages. But this measure was so out of step with the social reality that it felt more like humiliation. So the State and Capitalists had to take off their masks and show their true face: that of violence. They remind us that “State has the legitimate monopoly of violence” and that Capitalism operates on a system of domination of the strongest over the weakest. Thus, since the beginning of the movement, several thousand rebels have been arrested and several hundred have been sentenced to very heavy prison sentences, often for the sole crime of having been present in the street to protest. Hundreds of people have been wounded, some have had their hands or feet torn off by explosive grenades, others have their eyes or cheeks pierced by rubber bullets.
CNT-AIT activists have been involved in the movement of yellow vests since the beginning. Initially we came to see and understand what was happening. Quickly it became clear that we were together with people who shared our organisational practice of Assemblies, without representatives, refusing political parties and elections, asking for more social justice. So it seemed natural for us to participate fully but always in the respect of our anarcho-syndicalist principles. Our intervention also aims to eject the fascists and other harmful political parasites who seek to use this movement.
In the immediate future, there have been many people arrested and sentenced to prison, who are mostly workers, with or without work, and most often without money and isolated. The duty of anarchosyndicalists is to express solidarity with these prisoners of the social struggle, to demand their release. That is why today we are launching an appeal for solidarity. Any solidarity action, even symbolic, is welcome.
On February 5th, a call to strike was launched by the Yellow Vests. The CNT-AIT calls to join the general strike.
Violence is the State and Capitalism!
Freedom for prisoners of social revolt!