They do not wear red caps. However, the profile of cereal farmers who marched Thursday in Paris, perched on their tractors, resembles nothing more than the leaders of the revolt against the ‘environmental tax’ in Brittany.
Rich farmers, from Beauce in particular, demonstrated to defend their privileges and to continue to receive 80% of Common Agricultural Policy funds, even though they represent only 20 % of the farmers. France has been experiencing a surge of conservative fever that has left a bitter taste in the mouth. Pierre Gattaz, president of employers body MEDEF, has claimed leadership. Never short of matters to lobby over, it is now demanding lower unemployment benefits in negotiations over the future of the tripartite managed social security fund, UNEDIC. The more the government gives, the more the patronat demands.
But it is the empty barrels that make the most noise, says the proverb. The France that demonstrates loudly its neoliberal preferences, is not that of the majority. Yet it manages, for the moment, to create a balance of power that relegates social demands to second place. Should all his noise lead us to conclude that the job cuts, rising inequality, and intolerance towards taxes, or racist outbursts will automatically find a political expression in the vote Front National? If one must remain lucid about the danger, as there is fertile ground upon which the far-right party can prosper, and a real sense of abandonment, we must also be wary of those who seek to make this outcome inevitable. An opinion poll, conducted in the towns hit by mass redundancies, expresses doubt of the idea of an inevitable Front National “surge” in the communes.
Traditionally, it is the poor, the exploited, the have-nots, the voiceless who demonstrate and mobilize. They too are in the street, in fact. But an open war waged by the rich against the poor tends to make them inaudible. Something, however, is beginning to change. Forces of resistance are beginning to move with more confidence. Several of them, unions (CGT), campaigning associations (Attac, Copernicus ) or political parties ( Left Front), are raising their voices to demonstrate that the main instigator of crisis is the cost of capital. Indeed, the Left Front has called for a demonstration on December 1 for a “fiscal revolution”. This offers the opportunity for progressive forces to take to the streets and carry forward the debate on [progressive] taxation.
In Brittany, after the confusion caused by the mixing in demonstrations between employees and employers, the unions have rallied. On Saturday, the CGT , CFDT, CFE -CGC , CFTC, UNSA Solidarity and FSU will be calling protests so that a social component can be added to government plans for the future of Brittany.
Translation by Revolting Europe