Yellow Vest Movement: What Libertarians Need To Know About France

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france yellow vest movement riot protest
A French riot policeman stands next to a burning car as youth and high school students protest against the French government's reform plan, in Nantes, France, December 6, 2018. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

Libertarians, we need to have a talk about France and the yellow vest movement.

Why was everyone excited by what they saw happening in France? One thing that people on both sides of the political isles seem to agree on is the only thing they like less than their opposing political ideologies, are people that are indifferent to political change. When word came that the people of France were standing up to their government, those fed up with political apathy were eager to get excited, evidenced in the wave of memes and various hot takes from social media pundits cheering on the yellow vest revolution.

Libertarians in America were especially charmed by the yellow vest movement, as many of them feel as if a second American revolution is overdue, with the left becoming more extreme and pushing for more government expansion, to see France standing up against their government was a welcome scene. The story was a Libertarian fairy tale, of sorts. France decided to announce a gas tax in an attempt to roll out a greener economic policy. New taxes? Revolution? It’s a Libertarian’s dream scenario, right?! There’s only one problem, a lot of the people in France are standing up against the government, and demanding more government.

A Reddit post translated a French HuffPo article that allegedly reports on a list of demands from the yellow vest protesters. It’s *really* long, and it essentially reads like something you’d expect to see if Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez were radicalized, took hostages, and offered the state her list of demands. Among the demands included in the alleged yellow vest list; higher minimum wage, nationalization of heating and electricity companies, more progressive income taxes, the end of austerity, more taxes for the wealthy, the end of outsourcing work for French corporations, a government job guarantee, abolition of the Senate, an end to privatization of the French infrastructure, closure of private schools, trains, and post offices, maximum public classroom sizes, end temporary foreign worker programs, return unsuccessful asylum seekers to their country of origin.

Holy shit, they’re trying to Make France Great Again! What’s promising here is that they did seem to leave out the request for a kitchen sink.

The yellow vest movement that was started by one 36-year-old Ghislain Coutard has sparked a revolution indeed, and before we’re quick to label the movement as any one thing, it’s important to point out that aside from this list of demands, there are also reports that essentially anyone who has a bone to pick with the government is putting on a yellow vest and wrecking shop in France. The movement initially was made up primarily of individuals who have to commute long distances as part of their daily routine, angry at the imposition of a fuel tax. However, as social media groups began forming and people started to do as they tend to do, the yellow vests are now reportedly consisting of anarchists, socialists, anti-immigration populists, and hard-core fascists. Get while the gettin’s good, right?

It will be interesting to see how everything plays out in France, and it’s certainly a breath of fresh air to see individuals standing up to the government, despite their demands seeming to be (at least in my own personal opinion) quite a bit counter-intuitive. Just, do me a favor liberty movement, let’s tap the brakes on the memes declaring this to be the next 1776. What we’re looking at is a population fed up with the governing powers that be, and while that’s something that most everyone in the liberty movement can get behind, it’s important to also understand exactly why they’re fed up, and exactly what they’re asking for.

You can read more from Vinny Marshall on Think Liberty here.

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