TURIN — It's just the beginning, this time around too. This is also a revolution, but one heading in the exact opposite direction compared to the hopes of 1968: a revolution that is a paradox, an Internationale of populist, anti-European nationalism, angrily shouted out. A network of political sympathies, personal relationships, amplification operations on social networks is forming around the Yellow Vests movement — a network that goes far beyond France and leads, one way or another, always to the same place: to the protagonists (or to the sorcerer's apprentices) of the nationalist revolts around the world.
The political program of the Yellow Vests works well because it is a 25-piece mirror, where each new demand offers someone the opportunity to find its own demand reflected. For example, Donald Trump wrote on Twitter that the French were protesting against the agreement to stem climate change: “The Paris Agreement isn’t working out so well for Paris. Protests and riots all over France. People do not want to pay large sums of money, much to third world countries (that are questionably run), in order to maybe protect the environment. Chanting “We Want Trump!” Love France.”
We want the same things as the Yellow Vests.
It is doubtful whether protesters really shouted “We want Trump!” (the news was tweeted by Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA, a right-wing organization). But this shows how many are blowing on the fire of the Yellow Vest movement, to be sure they won't be the ones to get burned.
Italian comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo, one of the founders of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) that is now part of Italy's governing coalition, gave an interview to the Italian daily Il Fatto Quotidiano titled “We want the same things as the Yellow Vests,” in which he listed demands heard among the French protesters, including lower taxes, universal basic income, higher pension benefits. “These are all issues that we promoted first,” Grillo declared. A former M5S member of Parliament, Ivan Della Valle, set up the Facebook page of the Italian Yellow Vests Coordination.
Yellow vests in Italy — Photo: Coordinamento Nazionale Gilet Gialli Italia Facebook page
The "No Tav" movement, which has long worked to block the new high-speed train line between Turin and Lyon, referred to the Yellow Vests on their Facebook page as “a popular uprising that is setting an example for the whole of Europe. The world is divided into two parts. On the one hand, there are the people who fight for a decent future for everyone, on the other hand, there is an increasingly pervasive power that defends the interests of few.” It is no longer right versus left, but the my-nation-first anti-EU people up against the elites.
Whether intentionally or not, there is a parallel with Steve Bannon, the guru of Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. Speaking in Brussels at an event last Saturday organized by European rightist parties, featuring France's Marine Le Pen, Bannon said “the Yellow Vests are the exact same type of people that elected Trump or voted for Brexit. They want to have control over their own countries.”
It is the same script as Brexit.
Of course, foreigners do not create, but they do amplify, ignite and use this discontent of various kinds in European countries with the ultimate objective of destroying the EU. Three of the points of the Yellow Vests's political program (9, 22, 24) are “Frexit,” the exit from NATO and the restless fight against immigration. It is the same script of Brexit. According to an analysis by cybersecurity company New Knowledge, reported by The Times, 200 Twitter accounts linked to Russia churned out an average of 1,600 tweets a day using the hashtag #giletsjaunes. Another public analysis, by a well-known researcher in the computer community, "x0rz", shows that many central accounts in the protest were created with a U.S. interface.
In the street there were flags of the Donetsk People's Republic, the pro-Kremlin enclave in the Ukraine, including the ones waved by two well-known French pro-Putin militants, Fabrice Sorlin and Xavier Moreau. Sorlin is part of the pro-Russian think tank Katehon, which is in contact with Alexander Dugin, the philosopher loved by Putin. Dugin tweeted, in French: “Je suis le gilet jaune.” It is a phrase that is taking on serious, if not entirely comprehensible, meaning in any language.
See more from Opinion / Analysis here