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French Workers Go on General Strike in Support of Yellow Vests

French lawyers burn legal codes as part of a nation-wide strike against planned justice reform law. | Reuters
teleSUR | December 14, 2018

In solidarity with the popular ‘yellow vests’ movement, France’s workers have gone on national strike Friday, a move called by the General Confederation of Labor (CGT).

“The best way to protest is to go on strike,” the CGT’s Philippe Martinez told BFM TV Friday. “We must multiply actions at companies. We must strike everywhere.”

The French trade union announced the day of action Tuesday after negotiations with the government over unemployment benefits failed.

“The CGT, like the yellow vests, is fighting for claims on salaries, what (French president Emmanuel) Macron announced is not enough because there isn’t any general raise in salaries,” Union representative for health workers Francoise Doriate told Reuters.

“The minimum wage isn’t a minimum wage… the increase of an income tax on only a part of pensioners is a scam and there is a freeze on pensions which means we are losing buying power.”

On Monday, President Macron announced wage rises for the poorest workers and tax cuts for pensioners in further concessions meant to quell weeks of often violent protests that have challenged his authority. However, the government’s decision has been seen by some as a sham.

“Emmanuel Macron thought he could hand out some cash to calm the citizen’s insurrection that has erupted,” Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the far-left La France Insoumise, said. “I believe that Act V (of the protests) will play out on Saturday,” he said referring to a new round of protests planned this weekend.

The move to strike puts pressure on companies as labor unions use their collective power to create disruption just as demonstrators prepare for a fifth-weekend wave of protests across the country since the movement began Nov. 17.

“Of course it is not a question of shouting victory but of amplifying the mobilization: that is why all the general assemblies are maintained!” CGT leadership said in a statement.

The administration of Macron also declared a state of economic and social emergency Monday, and requested the cancellation of the ‘yellow vest’ protests this weekend, citing Tuesdays shooting in Strasburg in which three people were killed and 13 others wounded. Police killed the shooter late on Thursday.

Police have been cracking down on the protests using tear gas and water cannon and many fear that the government is preparing a major repression as the movement announces a fifth round of demonstrations.

The leadership of the CGT said the call to strike is in support of the social and wage demands driven by the popular movement of the yellow vests.

December 15, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | | Leave a comment

Tale of two uprisings: Ukraine’s Maidan got McCain & cookies, French Yellow Vests get shunned

By Robert Bridge | RT | December 13, 2018

Unlike the 2014 Ukraine uprising, which witnessed invasive meddling on the part of US politicians and diplomats, Western support for the French Yellow Vest protests has been conspicuously missing in action.

With the streets of Paris ablaze for a fourth weekend in a row, as a swarm of Yellow Vests assert themselves against a French government which, they argue, has become increasingly detached from the cares of ordinary citizens, support among Western capitals for the protesters is nowhere to be found.

This is a bit odd since the ‘gilets jaunes’ are not just protesting Macron’s (rescinded) plans for a fuel tax, but have released a list of 42 demands they want to see implemented. This includes an increase of the minimum wage, pensions and wages, as well as a halt to illegal immigration into the country. In other words, we are not talking about violent anarchists on the streets of France, but regular citizens. Thus far, the movement enjoys a high level of support among the French, with one poll showing 72 percent siding with the protesters.

The United States and its allies may have trouble explaining their tone-deafness in the face of these legitimate concerns on the part of millions of French citizens. At the very least, their icy silence will reveal a no small amount of double standards and outright hypocrisy since the West rarely misses an opportunity to interfere in the affairs of foreign states – mostly in the Middle East – when ‘democracy’ is purportedly on the line.

Consider Washington’s starkly different attitude to Ukraine’s 2014 Maidan revolution, which brought down the government of Viktor Yanukovich through the explicit support of the United States, as well as a number of influential NGOs operating in the country. Yanukovich committed the unforgivable mistake of thinking he would be allowed to pursue an independent course for his country, despite the fact that since 1992, the US had spent over $5 billion propping up ‘democracy-building programs’ in Ukraine.

Did Kiev really think that Washington would not eventually expect something in return for all those dollars, like maybe deciding who would eventually rule the Eastern European country on Russia’s border? And that is exactly what happened.

When Yanukovich signaled that he would not sign Ukraine up to an EU trade deal, he awoke a sleeping giant below his feet. Several weeks after the announcement, as his country was becoming increasingly divided over its options, the late US Senator John McCain appeared in central Kiev where he tossed dry wood on the smoldering fires by proclaiming at a rally on Independence Square, “Ukraine will make Europe better, and Europe will make Ukraine better… America is with you.”

What could have motivated Washington to pursue such blatant interference in the affairs of Ukraine, while ignoring the French ‘gilets jaunes’ that are now fanning out across France, protesting the neo-Liberal policies of President Emmanuel Macron? Could the answer have anything to do with something as simple as money? That certainly seems to be a large part of the equation.

After all, steering Kiev away from Russia, Western officials understood, would pay off handsome dividends for Western lending institutions, like the International Monetary Fund, which had already lent Kiev billions of dollars to stay afloat. The West was fiercely opposed to the idea of Russia and China becoming ‘lenders of last resort’, a financial and political function that the Western world covets more than any other, with the possible exception of military interventionism against sovereign states.

Fast forward one year after John McCain was agitating rallies in Kiev, and Victoria Nuland was handing out cookies to the protesters, and we find Ukraine, under the new leadership of the US-anointed President Petro Poroshenko, inking a $17.5bn (£11.5bn) loan deal with the IMF, together with the painful austerity measures that always accompany the bags of cash.

Presently, there are no such financial incentives in France that would convince Western capitals to ‘rally on behalf of democracy’ as it had done without delay in Ukraine.

This glaringly hypocritical position with regards to the French protesters reveals a deeply flawed, cart-before-the-horse Western axiom that commands: ‘whatever works to the advantage of Western institutions and its political elite is automatically good for democracy.’ This does not exclude social upheaval and revolution. If violence in the streets translates into the empowerment of Western institutions, not least of all the global financial institutions, then such actions will be rewarded with Western support without a moment’s thought.

Today, Emmanuel Macron, 40, the former Rothschild investment banker known as “president of the rich” by his countrymen, is facing the prospect of an early political demise, no less than Viktor Yanukovich faced in 2014.

Indeed, to say that Macron’s popularity among the French is in the toilet would be putting the situation mildly.

As one local English-language French magazine summed up his plight: Macron is “long-hated by the extreme-leftist groups because of his past as a banker… detested by the far-right because of his pro-European, globalist beliefs and now hated by many ordinary French people, who see him as arrogant, aloof and unsympathetic to their problems.”

Yet, not a single Western politician to date has appeared in the French capital, rallying the protesters and demanding Macron step aside; nor has any top-ranking US diplomat been spotted handing out cookies to the French rabble as Victoria Nuland did in Kiev at the height of Ukrainian tensions.

Incidentally, with such stark images in mind, it seems preposterous that the US can actually accuse Russia of meddling in its political affairs, and without a shred of evidence to back the claims. But I digress.

The simple reason that no Western country has come out to condemn Macron is because he toes the line on neo-liberalism and extreme free-market economics that has ravaged the French middle class to breaking point. The fuel hike was just the proverbial straw that broke the voters’ back.

It would be no exaggeration to say that all segments of French society have become caught up in the protests. Today we see hundreds of French schools, for example, shutting down as students take to the streets to protest Macron’s unpopular education reform. Pensioners are also counted among the protesters after Macron lectured them to stop “whining” about spending cuts, at the very same time he was slashing taxes for the wealthy.

Clearly, there is nothing about Macron that Western leaders can find not to their liking. He is carrying out painful liberal reforms with gusto, and only under pain of usurpation does he backpedal on his political program. Although the rudderless French president may fancy himself as a modern-age Napoleon, acting tough with his subjects to get what he wants, ultimately it will be the French street that decides his fate, which at the moment looks very bleak.

Such a brutal wake-up call may very well be in store for many more Western neo-liberal leaders, who fail to feel the pulse of their people when instituting their unpopular policies, in the weeks and months to come.

December 13, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Progressive Hypocrite, Solidarity and Activism | , | Leave a comment

US, EU Hindering Global Ban on Malicious Software – Russian Cyberthreat Centre

Sputnik – December 11, 2018

The deputy head of Russia’s National Cyberthreat Response Centre has said that an international ban on malicious software would be a major step in boosting security for ordinary users, but suggested that the US and Europe were dragging their feet on the issue.

Nikolai Murashov, deputy director of Russia’s National Cyberthreat Response Centre, has charged the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union with hampering efforts to introduce an international ban on the creation of malicious software. At the same time, he said, statistics on the geographical distribution of cyberattacks between 2016 and 2017 show that locations in the US and the EU are global cyberattack source hotspots.

Speaking at a cybersecurity briefing in Moscow on Tuesday, Murashov pointed out that the Russian criminal code already has an article categorising the creation of computer viruses as a crime.

“But not many states have followed suit. Almost everywhere [else], there is no ban on the development of similar software. Moreover, officials in the US, UK, and the EU do everything to hamper the approval of any recommendations on the criminalisation of such activities at forums where global information security is discussed”, the official said, clarifying that such resistance has included foot dragging at the UN.

According to the cybersecurity official, Washington has in fact “unilaterally blocked” the functioning of mechanisms on cooperation with Russia to ensure security in the fields of information and communication technologies, despite a 2013 agreement on the joint tackling of threats in this sphere. Nevertheless, Russia remains ready to “resume constructive dialogue” in this area, pending that it is based on “open and equal cooperation”.

Russia Ready to Publish Correspondence on Alleged Russian ‘Meddling’ in US Elections

The Russian side is ready to publish correspondence on the subject of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US elections via the hack of the Democratic Party servers, pending agreement from the American side, Murashov said.

“The first message was received only on 31 October 2016, as far as I can recall. After that there were a number of additional messages containing certain technical information about the hacking [of the DNC servers] that had taken place. We analysed all of this information, and even before [Donald] Trump’s inauguration as president, sent the American side what we judged to be an exhaustive response”.

The Russian side cannot share this information with the public without approval from the US side, in accordance with intergovernmental agreements, the official noted. “Accordingly, we are prepared to publish all available correspondence if the American side gives its agreement”, Murashov added.

Foreign Intelligence Behind Cyberattacks on Russian Internet on Election Day

Foreign intelligence agencies stood behind the cyberattacks which affected Russian cyber-infrastructure on the day of the “Direct Line With Vladimir Putin” programme in 2017, as well as voting day in presidential elections in March, Murashov said.

“Since June 2017, we recorded an attack against the entire [Russian] national segment of the internet. The first peak of this attack came on the day of the ‘Direct Line’ programme with the Russian president”, i.e. 15 June 2017, the official said. The attack used a new modification of the “Russkill” group of viruses, he noted.

“After evaluating the capabilities embedded in this modification, we came to the conclusion that we are dealing with a special service of a foreign state, which has perfect knowledge of the algorithms of root DNS servers”, Murashov said. “We realised that in the near future, we should be prepared for more powerful attacks. And this is what ended up happening. The peak of a new wave of the attack fell on the day of the presidential elections in Russia in March of this year”, he added.

Software Manufacturers Share Blame for Software Vulnerabilities

Murashov noted that one of the major problems in the field of cybersecurity today lies in the fact that software makers are rarely held accountable for the security of their products, with software vulnerabilities resulting from products being rushed to markets prematurely leaving the door open for the creation of new viruses designed for mass hacking attacks. The official stressed that an explicit global ban on the creation of malicious software could go a long way in ensuring user security.

Having studied research compiled by Symantec and Webroot in the US, Japan’s NTT Security, and China’s CNCERT/CC cybersecurity centres between 2016 and 2017, Murashov pointed out that the US, France, and the Netherlands ranked first, second and third, respectively, in the geographic distribution of cyberattacks. “This data makes it clear that according to these companies the United States and the European Union are the main sources of malicious activity”, he said.

According to Russian National Cyberthreat Response Centre figures, large scale cyberattacks involving the viruses WannaCry, NotPetya, and BadRabbit affected users in nearly 100 countries in 2017, infecting over 500,000 computers, more than 60 percent of them in Russia. These viruses, using advanced encryption methods, affected not only ordinary users, but components of Russia’s information infrastructure as well, Murashov said.

December 11, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Protests in France are internal affair, claims of Russia’s involvement are slander – Kremlin

RT | December 10, 2018

Moscow considers protests in France to be an internal affair of that country, and claims of Russia’s involvement in the events are slander, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.

Russia sees everything that happens in France as “purely an internal affair” of that country, the spokesman told reporters.

“We have not interfered and are not going to interfere in the internal affairs of any countries, including France,” he said.

Peskov added that Moscow attaches great importance to developing relations with Paris, and respects France’s sovereignty.

December 10, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | 2 Comments

French Police Union Calls on Police to Join Yellow Vests’ Protests

Sputnik – 06.12.2018

After the surge in fuel prices in France, the so-called Yellow Vests movement has held protests, calling firstly on the government to lower the prices, and then also on French President Emmanuel Macron to resign. On Wednesday, the French National Assembly approved a moratorium on the planned fuel price hike.

The French labour union Vigi has called on its members working in the national police and in the Ministry of the Interior to start an indefinite strike on Saturday, joining the Yellow Vests movement. The statement was placed on Vigi’s Facebook page on Wednesday.

“The demands made by the Yellow Vests movement related to all of us. The time to organize legally and express solidarity with them for the benefit of all has come”, Vigi’s post reads. “We are being perceived as mercenaries, given bonuses for overtime work, but they cannot compensate for the decisions made by the government.”

The call is directed at “administrative, technical, scientific and state workers/cooks from the Ministry of the Interior”, according to the statement.

“Act IV” of the Yellow Vests’ protests, which is to start on Saturday, will make the government take precautions, as during the previous “Act III”, more than 260 people, including some 80 police, were injured. Earlier, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner announced that he would reinforce security for next Saturday.

Michel Thooris, the head of the France Police labour union, said that the French government had failed to implement security measures in Paris, noting that “a majority of the French continue to back the movement”. She also highlighted that using the armed forces against civilians would indicate that France is heading towards a civil war.

The protests, which started as a movement against a hike in fuel prices, turned violent, leading to more than 600 people being injured and at least two deaths. The three-week demonstration forced the French government to drop the fuel tax rise from the 2019 budget.

“The government is ready for dialogue and is showing it because this tax increase has been dropped from the 2019 budget bill”, Edouard Philippe, the French prime minister, said on December 5.

December 6, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , | Leave a comment

Revolution in Ukraine? Yes, please! Revolution in France? Rule of law!

By Danielle Ryan | RT | December 3, 2018

When violent protests shook Kiev in 2013, Western analysts and leaders quickly threw their support behind the anti-government ‘revolution’ — but after weeks of Yellow Vest protests in France, the reaction has been very different.

While Western governments and commentators denounced the Ukrainian government of Viktor Yanukovych and urged that he give in to protesters’ demands five years ago, this time around, they are denouncing the French protesters and urging President Emmanuel Macron, whose popularity stands at about 25 percent, to stand firm against dissatisfied citizens.

Western media coverage has also differed drastically with reports describing French protesters as rioters, while Ukrainian protesters were described as revolutionaries. The contrasting reaction has prompted many to ask the question: If a so-called revolution is allowed to happen (and even applauded) in Ukraine, why not in France?

French police have cracked down on the ‘Yellow Vest’ protesters in bloody clashes, during which water cannons and tear gas were deployed to disperse huge crowds, who responded by throwing stones at officers. The extent of the chaos has even caused officials to mull imposing a state of emergency and prompted concerns that protest movement could spread to countries like Germany and the Netherlands. Worried government officials and French and European political commentators have eagerly called for the “rule of law” to be respected and for violent protesters to respect French institutions.

In Kiev, however, when protesters set fire to cars, defaced public property and attacked police officers, they were held up as heroes. Law and order was of little concern to Western media which wholeheartedly supported the Maidan movement. Similarly, when anti-government protests kicked off in Syria in 2011, Western leaders and commentators advocated the swift overthrow of the government and provided moral (and material) support to anti-government rebels during the subsequent civil war that ripped the country apart.

During a visit to Argentina for the G20 Summit last weekend, Macron vowed that he would “not concede anything” to the “thugs” who want “destruction and disorder.” His unwillingness to cave in the face of a mass protest movement, however, has not prompted any calls for him to step down and respect the will of the people, as happened in Ukraine and Syria.

On Twitter, well-known French political commentator and media personality Bernard-Henri Lévy, lashed out at the Yellow Vest protesters, accusing them of “playing with fire” and saying that all that matters is respect for French institutions and the democratically -elected president.

Lévy’s followers, however, were quick to remind him that his reaction to protests in Ukraine were quite different. Lévy, who was in Ukraine during the Euromaidan movement, actively promoted it, giving speeches and tweeting enthusiastically about the protests. When Yanukovych was overthrown, he described it as a “a historic defeat of tyranny.”

As the protests raged on for the third week, other Twitter users mocked the patronizing Western reaction to anti-government movements in other regions, with one suggesting that perhaps hundreds of Arab experts could get together at fancy conferences to attempt to decipher the causes of this fascinating ‘European Winter’ movement.

Another said it was about time that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called on Macron to exercise “restraint” and ensure that the “freedom of expression and demonstration” are respected in France.

Sarcasm aside, it looks very much like violent revolutions and regime change are only a good enough solution to crises in countries far away from the centres of Western power and influence and led by uncooperative governments. When the rumblings of revolution are felt in Paris, where Macron remains committed to upholding a neoliberal and West-centric world order, it’s a different story entirely.

December 3, 2018 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , , | Leave a comment

Canada backs repression, killing of protestors in Haiti

By Yves Engler · December 1, 2018

The Ugly Canadian has shown his elite-supporting, poor-bashing repressive face in Haiti.

Ottawa is backing the repression of anti-corruption protests and Justin Trudeau is continuing Canada’s staunch support for that country’s reactionary elite.

Over the past three months there have been numerous protests demanding accountability for public funds. Billions of dollars from Petrocaribe, a discounted oil program set up by Venezuela in 2006, was pilfered under former President Michel Martelly, an ally of current leader Jovenel Moise. After having forced out the prime minister in the summer over an effort to eliminate fuel subsidies, protesters are calling for the removal of Moise, who assumed the presidency through voter suppression and electoral fraud.

According to the Western media, a dozen protesters have been killed since a huge demonstration on October 17. But, at least seven were killed that day, two more at a funeral for those seven and pictures on social media suggest the police have killed many more.

Ottawa is supporting the unpopular government and repressive police. While a general strike paralyzed the capital on Friday, Canadian Ambassador André Frenette met Prime Minister Jean Henry Céant with other diplomats to “express their support to the government.” Through the “Core Group” Ottawa has blamed the protesters for Canadian trained and financed police firing on them. The Canada, US, France, Spain, EU, UN and OAS “Group of Friends of Haiti” published a statement on Thursday criticizing the protesters and backing the government. It read, “the group recalls that acts of violence seeking to provoke the resignation of legitimate authorities have no place in the democratic process. The Core Group welcomes the Executive’s commitment to continue the dialogue and calls for an inclusive dialogue between all the actors of the national life to get out of the crisis that the country is going through.” (translation)

In a similar release at the start of the month these “Friends of Haiti” noted: “The group praises the professionalism demonstrated by the National Police of Haiti as a whole on this occasion to guarantee freedom of expression while preserving public order. While new demonstrations are announced, the Core Group also expresses its firm rejection of any violence perpetrated on the sidelines of demonstrations. The members of the group recall the democratic legitimacy of the government of Haiti and elected institutions and that in a democracy, change must be through the ballot box and not by violence.”

But, in late 2010/early-2011 the Stephen Harper Conservatives intervened aggressively to help extreme right-wing candidate Michel Martelly become president. Six years earlier Trudeau’s Liberal predecessor, Paul Martin, played an important role in violently ousting Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s government. For two years after the February 29, 2004, overthrow of Haitian democracy, a Canada-financed, trained and overseen police force terrorized Port-au-Prince’s slums with Canadian diplomatic and (for half a year) military backing.

Since that time Ottawa has taken the lead in strengthening the repressive arm of the Haitian state (in 1995 Aristide disbanded the army created during the 1915-34 US occupation). Much to the delight of the country’s über class-conscious elite, over the past decade and a half Canada has ploughed over $100 million into the Haitian police and prison system.

Since his appointment as ambassador last fall Frenette has attended a half dozen Haitian police events. In April Frenette tweeted, “it is an honour to represent Canada at the Commissaires Graduation Ceremony of the National Police Academy. Canada has long stood with the HNP to ensure the safety of Haitians and we are very proud of it.” The previous October Frenette noted, “very proud to participate today in the Canadian Armed Forces Ballistic Platelet Donation to the Haitian National Police.”

Canada also supports the Haitian police through the UN mission. RCMP officer Serge Therriault currently leads the 1,200-person police component of the Mission des Nations unies pour l’appui à la Justice en Haïti. For most of the past 14 years a Canadian has been in charge of the UN police contingent in Haiti and officers from this country have staffed its upper echelons.

Canada is once again supporting the violent suppression of the popular will in Haiti. Justin Trudeau has taken off his progressive mask to reveal what is inside: The Ugly Canadian.


Yves Engler is the co-author, with Antony Fenton, of Canada in Haiti: Waging War on the Poor Majority. His latest book is Left, Right: Marching to the Beat of Imperial Canada

December 1, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , , | Leave a comment

The WWI Conspiracy – Part Three: A New World Order

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PART THREE – A NEW WORLD ORDER

February 21, 1916.

A week of rain, wind and heavy fog along the Western Front finally breaks and for a moment there is silence in the hills north of Verdun. That silence is broken at 7:15 AM when the Germans launch an artillery barrage heralding the start of the largest battle the world had ever seen.

Thousands of projectiles are flying in all directions, some whistling, others howling, others moaning low, and all uniting in one infernal roar. From time to time an aerial torpedo passes, making a noise like a gigantic motor car. With a tremendous thud a giant shell bursts quite close to our observation post, breaking the telephone wire and interrupting all communication with our batteries. A man gets out at once for repairs, crawling along on his stomach through all this place of bursting mines and shells. It seems quite impossible that he should escape in the rain of shell, which exceeds anything imaginable; there has never been such a bombardment in war. Our man seems to be enveloped in explosions, and shelters himself from time to time in the shell craters which honeycomb the ground; finally he reaches a less stormy spot, mends his wires, and then, as it would be madness to try to return, settles down in a big crater and waits for the storm to pass.

Beyond, in the valley, dark masses are moving over the snow-covered ground. It is the German infantry advancing in packed formation along the valley of the attack. They look like a big gray carpet being unrolled over the country. We telephone through to the batteries and the ball begins. The sight is hellish. In the distance, in the valley and upon the slopes, regiments spread out, and as they deploy fresh troops come pouring in. There is a whistle over our heads. It is our first shell. It falls right in the middle of the enemy infantry. We telephone through, telling our batteries of their hit, and a deluge of heavy shells is poured on the enemy. Their position becomes critical. Through glasses we can see men maddened, men covered with earth and blood, falling one upon the other. When the first wave of the assault is decimated, the ground is dotted with heaps of corpses, but the second wave is already pressing on.

This anonymous French staff officer’s account of the artillery offensive that opened the Battle of Verdun—recounting the scene as an heroic French communications officer repairs the telephone line to the French artillery batteries, allowing for a counter-strike against the first wave of German infantry—brings a human dimension to a conflict that is beyond human comprehension. The opening salvo of that artillery barrage alone—involving 1,400 guns of all sizes—dropped a staggering 2.5 million shells on a 10 kilometer front near Verdun in northeastern France over five days of nearly uninterrupted carnage, turning an otherwise sleepy countryside into an apocalyptic nightmare of shell holes, craters, torn-out trees and ruined villages.

By the time the battle finished 10 months later, a million casualties lay in its wake. A million stories of routine bravery like that of the French communications officer. And Verdun was far from the only sign that the stately, sanitized version of 19th century warfare was a thing of the past. Similar carnage played out at the Somme and Gallipoli and Vimy Ridge and Galicia and a hundred other battlefields. Time and again, the generals threw their men into meat grinders, and time and again the dead bodies lay strewn on the other side of that slaughter.

But how did such bloodshed happen? For what purpose? What did the First World War mean?

The simplest explanation is that the mechanization of 20th century armies had changed the logic of warfare itself. In this reading of history, the horrors of World War One were the result of the logic dictated by the technology with which it was fought.

It was the logic of the siege guns that bombarded the enemy from over 100 kilometres away. It was the logic of the poison gas, spearheaded by Bayer and their School for Chemical Warfare in Leverkusen. It was the logic of the tank, the airplane, the machine gun and all of the other mechanized implements of destruction that made mass slaughter a mundane fact of warfare.

But this is only a partial answer. More than just technology was at play in this “Great War,” and military strategy and million-casualty battles were not the only ways that World War I had changed the world forever. Like that unimaginable artillery assault at Verdun, the First World War tore apart all the verities of the Old World, leaving a smouldering wasteland in its wake.

A wasteland that could be reshaped into a New World Order.

For the would-be engineers of society, war—with all of its attendant horrors—was the easiest way to demolish the old traditions and beliefs that lay between them and their goals.

This was recognized early on by Cecil Rhodes and his original clique of co-conspirators. As we have seen, it was less than one decade after the founding of Cecil Rhodes’ society to achieve the “peace of the world” that that vision was amended to include war in South Africa, and then amended again to include embroiling the British Empire in a world war.

Many others became willing participants in that conspiracy because they, too, could profit from the destruction and the bloodshed.

And the easiest way to understand this idea is at its most literal level: profit.

War is a racket. It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.

How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?

Major General Smedley Butler

As the most decorated Marine in the history of the United States at the time of his death, Smedley Butler knew of what he spoke. Having seen the minting of those tens of thousands of “new millionaires and billionaires” out of the blood of his fellow soldiers, his famous rallying cry, War Is A Racket, has resonated with the public since he first began—in his own memorable words—”trying to educate the soldiers out of the sucker class.”

Indeed, the war profiteering on Wall Street started even before America joined the war. Although, as J.P. Morgan partner Thomas Lamont noted, at the outbreak of the war in Europe “American citizens were urged to remain neutral in action, in word, and even in thought, our firm had never for one moment been neutral; we didn’t know how to be. From the very start we did everything we could to contribute to the cause of the Allies.” Whatever the personal allegiances that may have motivated the bank’s directors, this was a policy that was to yield dividends for the Morgan bank that even the greediest of bankers could scarcely have dreamed of before the war began.

John Pierpont Morgan himself died in 1913—before the passage of the Federal Reserve Act he had stewarded into existence and before the outbreak of war in Europe—but the House of Morgan stood strong, with the Morgan bank under the helm of his son, John Pierpont Morgan, Jr., maintaining its position as preeminent financier in America. The young Morgan moved quickly to leverage his family’s connections with the London banking community and the Morgan bank signed its first commercial agreement with the British Army Council in January 1915, just four months into the war.

That initial contract—a $12 million purchase of horses for the British war effort to be brokered in the US by the House of Morgan—was only the beginning. By the end of the war, the Morgan bank had brokered $3 billion in transactions for the British military—equal to almost half of all American supplies sold to the Allies in the entire war. Similar arrangements with the French, Russian, Italian and Canadian governments saw the bank broker billions more in supplies for the Allied war effort.

But this game of war financing was not without its risks. If the Allied powers were to lose the war, the Morgan bank and the other major Wall Street banks would lose the interest on all of the credit they had extended to them. By 1917, the situation was dire. The British government’s overdraft with Morgan stood at over $400 million dollars, and it was not clear that they would even win the war, let alone be in a position to repay all their debts when the fighting was over.

In April 1917, just eight days after the US declared war on Germany, Congress passed the War Loan Act extending $1 billion in credit to the Allies. The first payment of $200 million went to the British and the entire amount was immediately handed over to Morgan as partial payment on their debt to the bank. When, a few days later, $100 million was parceled out to the French government, it, too, was promptly returned to the Morgan coffers. But the debts continued to mount and throughout 1917 and 1918, the US Treasury—aided by the Pilgrims Society member and avowed Anglophile Benjamin Strong, president of the newly-created Federal Reserve—quietly paid off the Allied powers’ war debts to J.P. Morgan.

DOCHERTY: What I think is interesting is also the bankers’ viewpoint here. America was so deeply involved in the war financing. There was so much money which could only really be repaid as long as Britain and France won. But had they lost, the loss on the American financial stock exchange’s top market—your great industrial giants—would have been horrendous. So America was deeply involved. Not the people, as is ever the case. Not the ordinary citizen who cares. But the financial establishment who had, if you like, treated the entire thing as they might a casino and put all the money on one end of the board and it had to come good for them.

So all of this is going on. I mean, I personally feel that the American people don’t realize just how far duped they were by your Carnegies, your J. P. Morgans, your great bankers, your Rockefellers, by the multi-multimillionaires who emerged from that war. Because they were the ones who made the profits, not those who lost their sons, their grandsons, whose lives were ruined forever by war.

After America officially entered the war, the good times for the Wall Street bankers got even better. Bernard Baruch—the powerful financier who personally led Woodrow Wilson into Democratic Party headquarters in New York “like a poodle on a string” to receive his marching orders during the 1912 election—was appointed to head the newly-created “War Industries Board.”

With war hysteria at its height, Baruch and the fellow Wall Street financiers and industrialists who populated the board were given unprecedented powers over manufacture and production throughout the American economy, including the ability to set quotas, fix prices, standardize products, and, as a subsequent congressional investigation showed, pad costs so that the true size of the fortunes that the war profiteers extracted from the blood of the dead soldiers were hidden from the public.

Spending government funds at an annual rate of $10 billion, the board minted many new millionaires in the American economy—millionaires who, like Samuel Prescott Bush of the infamous Bush family, happened to sit on the War Industries Board. Bernard Baruch himself was said to have personally profited from his position as head of the War Industries Board to the tune of $200 million.

The extent of government intervention in the economy would have been unthinkable just a few years before. The National War Labor Board was set up to mediate labor disputes. The Food and Fuel Control Act was passed to give the government control over the distribution and sale of food and fuel. The Army Appropriations Act of 1916 set up the Council of National Defense, populated by Baruch and other prominent financiers and industrialists, who oversaw private sector coordination with the government in transportation, industrial and farm production, financial support for the war, and public morale. In his memoirs at the end of his life, Bernard Baruch openly gloated:

The [War Industries Board] experience had a great influence upon the thinking of business and government. [The] WIB had demonstrated the effectiveness of industrial cooperation and the advantage of government planning and direction. We helped inter the extreme dogmas of laissez faire, which had for so long molded American economic and political thought. Our experience taught that government direction of the economy need not be inefficient or undemocratic, and suggested that in time of danger it was imperative.

But it was not merely to line the pockets of the well-connected that the war was fought. More fundamentally, it was a chance to change the very consciousness of an entire generation of young men and women.

For the class of would-be social engineers that arose in the Progressive Era—from economist Richard T. Ely to journalist Herbert Croly to philosopher John Dewey—the “Great War” was not a horrific loss of life or a vision of the barbarism that was possible in the age of mechanized warfare, but an opportunity to change people’s perceptions and attitudes about government, the economy, and social responsibility.

Dewey, for example, wrote of “The Social Possibilities of War.”

In every warring country there has been the same demand that in the time of great national stress production for profit be subordinated to production for use. Legal possession and individual property rights have had to give way before social requirements. The old conception of the absoluteness of private property has received the world over a blow from which it will never wholly recover.

All countries on all sides of the world conflict responded in the same way: by maximizing their control over the economy, over manufacturing and industry, over infrastructure, and even over the minds of their own citizens.

Germany had its Kriegssozialismus, or war socialism, which placed control of the entire German nation, including its economy, its newspapers and, through conscription—its people—under the strict control of the Army. In Russia, the Bolsheviks used this German “war socialism” as a basis for their organization of the nascent Soviet Union. In Canada, the government rushed to nationalize railways, outlaw alcohol, institute official censorship of newspapers, levy conscription, and, infamously, introduce a personal income tax as a “temporary war time measure” that continues to this day.

The British government soon recognized that control of the economy was not enough; the war at home meant control of information itself. At the outbreak of war, they set up the War Propaganda Bureau at Wellington House. The bureau’s initial purpose was to persuade America to enter the war, but that mandate soon expanded to shape and mold public opinion in favour of the war effort and of the government itself.

On September 2, 1914, the head of the War Propaganda Bureau invited twenty-five of Britain’s most influential authors to a top secret meeting. Among those present at the meeting: G.K. Chesterton, Ford Madox Ford, Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, Arthur Conan Doyle, Arnold Bennett and H.G. Wells. Not revealed until decades after the war ended, many of those present agreed to write propaganda material promoting the government’s position on the war, which the government would get commercial printing houses, including Oxford University Press, to publish as seemingly independent works.

Under the secret agreement, Arthur Conan Doyle wrote To Arms! John Masefield wrote Gallipoli and The Old Front Line. Mary Humphrey Ward wrote England’s Effort and Towards the Goal. Rudyard Kipling wrote The New Army in Training. G.K. Chesterton wrote The Barbarism of Berlin. In total, the Bureau published over 1,160 propaganda pamphlets over the course of the war.

Hillaire Belloc later rationalized his work in service of the government: “It is sometimes necessary to lie damnably in the interests of the nation.” War correspondent William Beach Thomas was not so successful in the battle against his own conscience: “I was thoroughly and deeply ashamed of what I had written for the good reason that it was untrue … the vulgarity of enormous headlines and the enormity of one’s own name did not lessen the shame.”

But the Bureau’s efforts were not confined to the literary world. Film, visual art, recruitment posters; no medium for swaying the hearts and minds of the public was overlooked. By 1918, the government’s efforts to shape perception of the war—now officially centralized under a “Minister of Information,” Lord Beaverbrook—was the most finely-tuned purveyor of propaganda the world had yet seen. Even foreign propaganda, like the infamous Uncle Sam that went beyond a recruitment poster to become a staple of American government iconography, was based on a British propaganda poster featuring Lord Kitchener.

Control of the economy. Control of populations. Control of territory. Control of information. World War One was a boon for all of those who wanted to consolidate control of the many in the hands of the few. This was the vision that united all those participants in the conspiracies that led to the war itself. Beyond Cecil Rhodes and his secret society, there was a broader vision of global control for the would-be rulers of society who were seeking what tyrants had lusted after since the dawn of civilization: control of the world.

World War One was merely the first salvo in this clique’s attempt to create not a re-ordering of this society or that economy, but a New World Order.

GROVE: What World War One allowed these globalists, these Anglophiles, these people who wanted the English-speaking union to reign over the whole world, what it allowed them to do, was militarize American thinking. And what I mean by that is there was a whistle blower called Norman Dodd. He was the head researcher for the Reese committee that looked into how nonprofit foundations were influencing American education away from freedom. And what they found was the Carnegie [Endowment] for International Peace was seeking to understand how to make America a wartime economy, how to take the state apparatus over, how to change education to get people to continually consume, how to have arms production ramp up.

And then once this happened in World War one, if you look at what happened in the 1920s you’ve got people like Major General Smedley Butler who is using the US military to advance corporate interest in Central and South America and doing some very caustic things to the indigenous people, insofar as these were not American policies really before the Spanish-American War in 1898. Meaning that going and taking foreign military action was not part of the diplomatic strategy of America prior to our engagement with the British Empire in the late 1800s. And as it ramped up after Cecil Rhodes’s death. So what these people gained was the foothold for world government from which they could get through globalism, what they called a “New World Order.”

The creation of this “New World Order” was no mere parlor game. It meant a complete redrawing of the map. The collapse of empires and monarchies. The transformation of the political, social and economic life of entire swathes of the globe. Much of this change was to take place in Paris in 1919 as the victors divvied up the spoils of war. But some of it, like the fall of the Romanovs and the rise of the Bolsheviks in Russia, was to take place during the war itself.

In hindsight, the fall of the Russian Empire in the midst of the First World War seems inevitable. Unrest had been in the air since Russia’s defeat by the Japanese in 1905, and the ferocity of the fighting on the eastern front, coupled with the economic hardship—which hit Russia’s overcrowded, over-worked urban poor particularly hard—made the country ripe for revolt. That revolt happened during the so-called “February Revolution” when Czar Nicholas was swept from power and a provisional government installed in his place.

But that provisional government—which continued to prosecute the war at the behest of its French and British allies—was competing for control of the country with the Petrograd Soviet, a rival power structure set up by the socialists in the Russian capital. The struggle for control between the two bodies led to riots, protests and, ultimately, battles in the street.

Russia in the spring of 1917 was a powder keg waiting to explode. And in April of that year, two matches, one called Vladimir Lenin and one called Leon Trotsky, were thrown directly into that powder keg by both sides of the Great War.

Vladimir Lenin, a Russian communist revolutionary who had been living in political exile in Switzerland, saw in the February Revolution his chance to push through a Marxist revolution in his homeland. But although for the first time in decades his return to that homeland was politically possible, the war made the journey itself an impossibility. Famously, he was able to broker a deal with the German General Staff to allow Lenin and dozens of other revolutionaries to cross through Germany on their way to Petrograd.

Germany’s reasoning in permitting the infamous “sealed train” ride of Lenin and his compatriots is, as a matter of war strategy, straightforward. If a band of revolutionaries could get back to Russia and bog down the provisional government, then the German Army fighting that government would benefit. If the revolutionaries actually came to power and took Russia out of the war altogether, so much the better.

But the curious other side of this story, the one demonstrating how Lenin’s fellow communist revolutionary, Leon Trotsky, was shepherded from New York—where he had been living well beyond the means of his income as a writer for socialist periodicals—through Canada—where he was stopped and identified as a revolutionary en route to Russia—and on to Petrograd, is altogether more incredible. And, unsurprisingly, that story is mostly avoided by historians of the First World War.

One of the scholars who did not shy away from the story was Antony Sutton, author of Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution, whose meticulous research of State Department documents, Canadian government records and other historical artifacts pieced together the details of Trotsky’s unlikely journey.

ANTONY C. SUTTON: Trotsky was in New York. He had no income. I summed his income for the year he was in New York; it was about six hundred dollars, yet he lived in an apartment, he had a chauffeured limousine, he had a refrigerator, which was very rare in those days.

He left New York and went to Canada on his way to the revolution. He had $10,000 in gold on him. He didn’t earn more than six hundred dollars in New York. He was financed out of New York, there’s no question about that. The British took him off the ship in Halifax, Canada. I got the Canadian archives; they knew who he was. They knew who Trotsky was, they knew he was going to start a revolution in Russia. Instructions from London came to put Trotsky back on the boat with his party and allow them to go forward.

So there is no question that Woodrow Wilson—who issued the passport for Trotsky—and the New York financiers—who financed Trotsky—and the British Foreign Office allowed Trotsky to perform his part in the revolution.

SOURCE: Wall Street Funded the Bolshevik Revolution – Professor Antony Sutton

After succeeding in pushing through the Bolshevik Revolution in November of 1917, one of Trotsky’s first acts in his new position as People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs was to publish the “Secret Treaties and Understandings” that Russia had signed with France and Britain. These documents revealed the secret negotiations in which the Entente powers had agreed to carve up the colonial world after the war. The stash of documents included agreements on “The Partition of Asiatic Turkey” creating the modern Middle East out of the remnants of the Ottoman Empire; “The Treaty With Italy” promising conquered territory to the Italian government in exchange for their military aid in the campaign against Austria-Hungary; a treaty “Re-Drawing the Frontiers of Germany” promising France its long-held wish of reacquiring Alsace-Lorraine and recognizing “Russia’s complete liberty in establishing her Western frontiers;” diplomatic documents relating to Japan’s own territorial aspirations; and a host of other treaties, agreements and negotiations.

One of these agreements, the Sykes-Picot Agreement between Britain and France, which was signed in May 1916, has grown in infamy over the decades. The agreement divided modern-day Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon among the Triple Entente and, although the revelation of the agreement caused much embarrassment for the British and the French and forced them to publicly back away from the Sykes-Picot map, served as the basis for some of the arbitrary lines on the map of the modern-day Middle East, including the border between Syria and Iraq. In recent years, ISIS has claimed that part of their mission is to “put the final nail in the coffin of the Sykes-Picot conspiracy.”

Other territorial conspiracies—like the Balfour Declaration, signed by Arthur Balfour, then acting as Foreign Secretary for the British Government, and addressed to Lord Walter Rothschild, one of the co-conspirators in Cecil Rhodes original secret society—are less well-known today. The Balfour Declaration also played an important role in shaping the modern world by announcing British support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, which was not under British mandate at the time. Even less well known is that the document did not originate from Balfour but from Lord Rothschild himself, and was sent to fellow Round Table conspirator Alfred Milner for revision before being delivered.

GROVE: So this was Lord—he’s known as Lord Walter Rothschild, and professionally he’s a zoologist. He inherits a lot of wealth and a very high status family. He pursues his art and his science and his scientific theories and research and he has zoological museums and he’s collecting specimens. And he’s famously the Rothschild that’s riding the the giant tortoise and leading him around with a piece of lettuce on his stick, and there’s a piece of lettuce hanging out of the tortoises mouth. And I’ve always used that: here’s the metaphor for the bankers, like they’re leading people around with stimulus-response, this turtle, this tortoise can’t ask questions. It can’t question its obedience. So that’s Lord Rothschild.

Why is he important? Well he and his family are some of the early financiers and backers of Cecil Rhodes and promoters of his last will and testament. And in the question of America being brought back into the British Empire, there are newspaper articles—there is one in 1902 where Lord Rothschild is saying, you know, “this would be a good thing to have America back in the British Empire.” He’s also the Lord Rothschild to whom the Balfour Declaration is addressed.

So in 1917 there’s a letter of agreement sent from the British government—from Arthur Balfour—to Lord Rothschild. Now Lord Rothschild and Arthur Balfour, they know each other. They have a long history together and there’s a lot of Fabian socialists in this whole story of what led up to World War One. Specifically with Balfour, he’s acting as an agent of the British government, saying “We are gonna give away this land that’s not really ours, and we’re gonna give it to you guys in your group.” The problem is the British had also promised that same land to the Arabs, so now the Balfour Declaration is going against some of the foreign policy plans that they’ve already promised to these other countries.

The other interesting thing about the Balfour Declaration is it just had its hundredth anniversary so they last year had a site that had the whole history of the Balfour Declaration. You could see the originals from Lord Rothschild and going to Lord Milner for changes and coming through Arthur Balfour and then being sent back as an official letter from the monarchy, basically. So that’s interesting. But there’s also interviews where the current Lord Rothschild—Lord Jacob Rothschild—comments on his ancestors’ history and how they brought about the Jewish state in 1947-48 because of the Balfour Declaration.

So there’s a lot of history to unpack there but most people again they’re not aware of the document let alone the very interesting history behind it let alone what that really means in the bigger story.

Over two decades after Cecil Rhodes launched the secret society that would engineer this so-called “Great War,” the likes of Alfred Milner and Walter Rothschild were still at it, conspiring to use the war they had brought about to further their own geopolitical agenda. But by the time of the armistice in November 1918, that group of conspirators had greatly expanded, and the scale of their agenda had grown along with it. This was no small circle of friends who had embroiled the world in the first truly global war, but a loosely-knit network of overlapping interests separated by oceans and united in a shared vision for a new world order.

Milner, Rothschild, Grey, Wilson, House, Morgan, Baruch and literally scores of others had each had their part to play in this story. Some were witting conspirators, others merely seeking to maximize the opportunities that war afforded them to reach their own political and financial ends. But to the extent that those behind the WWI conspiracy shared a vision, it was the same desire that had motivated men throughout history: the chance to reshape the world in their own image.

INTERVIEWER: Just tell us again: why?

SUTTON: Why? You won’t find this in the textbooks. Why is to bring about, I suspect, a planned, controlled world society in which you and I won’t find the freedoms to believe and think and do as we believe.

SOURCE: Wall Street Funded the Bolshevik Revolution – Professor Antony Sutton

DOCHERTY: War is an instrument of massive change, we know that. It is an instrument of massive change in particular for those who are defeated. In a war where everyone is defeated, then it’s simply an element of massive change and that’s a very deep, thought-provoking concept. But if everyone loses, or if everyone except “us”—depending on who the “us” are—loses, then “we” are going to be in a position to reconstruct in our image.

RAICO: Altogether in the war, who knows, some 10 or 12 million people died. People experienced things—both in combat and the people back home understanding what was happening—that dazed them. That stunned them. You know, it’s almost as if for a few generations, the peoples of Europe had been increased, sort of like a flock of sheep by their shepherds. Through industrialization. Through the spread of liberal ideas and institutions. Through the decrease of infant mortality. The raising of standards of living. The population of Europe was enormously greater than it had ever been before. And now the time came to slaughter some part of the sheep for the purposes of the ones who were in control.

SOURCE: The World at War (Ralph Raico)

For the ones in control, World War One had been the birth pangs of a New World Order. And now, the midwives of this monstrosity slouched towards Paris to take part in its delivery.

THE END (OF THE BEGINNING)

All over the world on November 11, 1918, people were celebrating, dancing in the streets, drinking champagne, hailing the armistice that meant the end of the war. But at the front there was Many soldiers believed the Armistice only a temporary measure and that the war would soon go on. As night came, the quietness, unearthly in its penetration, began to eat into their souls. The men sat around log fires, the first they had ever had at the front. They were trying to reassure themselves that there were no enemy batteries spying on them from the next hill and no German bombing planes approaching to blast them out of existence. They talked in low tones. They were nervous.

After the long months of intense strain, of keying themselves up to the daily mortal danger, of thinking always in terms of war and the enemy, the abrupt release from it all was physical and psychological agony. Some suffered a total nervous collapse. Some, of a steadier temperament, began to hope they would someday return to home and the embrace of loved ones. Some could think only of the crude little crosses that marked the graves of their comrades. Some fell into an exhausted sleep. All were bewildered by the sudden meaninglessness of their existence as soldiers – and through their teeming memories paraded that swiftly moving cavalcade of Cantigny, Soissons, St. Mihiel, the Meuse-Argonne and Sedan.

What was to come next? They did not know – and hardly cared. Their minds were numbed by the shock of peace. The past consumed their whole consciousness. The present did not exist-and the future was inconceivable.

Colonel Thomas R. Gowenlock, 1st Division, US Army

Little did those troops know how right they were. As the public rejoiced in the outbreak of peace after four years of the bloodiest carnage that the human race had ever endured, the very same conspirators that had brought about this nightmare were already converging in Paris for the next stage of their conspiracy. There, behind closed doors, they would begin their process of carving up the world to suit their interests, laying the groundwork and preparing the public consciousness for a new international order, setting the stage for an even more brutal conflict in the future, and bringing the battle-weary soldiers’ worst fears for the future to fruition. And all in the name of “peace.”

The French General, Ferdinand Foch, famously remarked after the Treaty of Versailles that “This is not a peace. It is an armistice for 20 years.” As we now know, his pronouncement was precisely accurate.

The armistice on November 11, 1918 may have marked the end of the war, but it was not the end of the story. It was not even the beginning of the end. It was, at best, the end of the beginning.

TO BE CONTINUED. . .

November 30, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , | Leave a comment

Yellow Vests: No Coincidence Macron, Merkel and May are in Dire Straits – Journalist

By Ekaterina Blinova – Sputnik – November 30, 2018

The ‘yellow vest’ upheaval has exposed longstanding problems in France’s economy, Christine Bierre, French journalist and chief editor of Nouvelle Solidarité, has told Sputnik, adding that to heal these wounds, the French need to get rid of Brussels’ diktat and take back control of their financial system.

The ‘yellow vests’ protests are continuing to gain momentum in France, with about two thirds of the French supporting the unrest, according to the latest OpinionWay poll.

Speaking to Sputnik, Christine Bierre, French journalist and chief editor of Nouvelle Solidarité, shed the light on the nation-wide upheaval.

‘Over a year, diesel prices have increased by 23 per cent and those of gasoline, by 15 per cent. These hikes [in prices] hit those who live in rural areas and who need energy not only for their cars, but for tractors if they are farmers, boats if they are fishermen, trucks for transporters, fuel for construction workers and for heating’, the journalist said.

She noted that those who cannot afford living in big cities and who live in small towns and in the peripheries had also found themselves between a rock and a hard place, since they have to use their cars to get to megalopolises.’Concretely, expenses for energy have gone from 12 per cent per household in the 1960’s, to 30 per cent in 2018′, Bierre stressed. ‘For a couple with two kids using a diesel car and fuel to heat, taxes increased last year by 600 euros; the price of diesel for tractors went from 50 cents a litre to 87 cents, so a farmer using 20,000 litres per year, will pay 7,400 euros more in taxes on energy’.

She pointed out that in general, ‘the middle and the lower middle class and also part of what one calls the “working poor”‘ had fallen prey to the Macron cabinet’s measure.

According to the journalist, the rapid growth of the ‘yellow vests’ movement, which mobilized 300,000 people, ‘revealed, however, that energy prices were just the last straw that provoked the social explosion.’

TICPE and Its Consequences

However, President Emmanuel Macron and his policies are not the only reason for the impoverishment of the French middle class and the current crisis, ‘even though his favouring the richer against the poor has been the most indecent’, the journalist opined.

‘Along with the energy price increases on international spot markets, the real culprit behind the huge rise in energy prices is the tax on energy products, TICPE (Taxe Intérieure de Consommation sur les Produits Energétiques), created in 2000, and used by the state to heavily improve its tax revenues’, she elaborated.

Bierre explained that today this tax ‘represents 57 per cent of the price of diesel and more than 60 per cent of the price of gasoline, mainly because since 2014, the TICPE includes a tax to finance the costs of the energy transition.”This is a progressive tax that grows every year according to a supposed price of carbon per ton of CO2, which is to reach 100 euros in 2030!’ the journalist remarked. ‘In 2015 it was at 14.5 euros, in 2017 — 22 euros in 2017, in 2018 — 44.6 euros and so on.’

She stressed that Macron’s predecessors relied heavily on the taxation of their population to finance their programmes and lately the energy transition, but the incumbent French president ‘is, no doubt, the most outrageous.’

‘Since his coming to power he “granted” 5 billion euros in tax cuts to rich financiers, transforming the tax on large fortunes into a real estate tax only, and reducing the tax on financial profits to a 30 per cent flat tax’, Bierre outlined. ‘At the same time, he reduced state aid to the poor by the equivalent of 4 billion euros (cuts in aids to housing, public jobs and increase of general taxes).’

Yellow Vests: Neither Far-Right nor Far-Left

The question then arises as to what political forces have jumped on the bandwagon of the ‘yellow vests’ movement. According to Bierre, many politicians would like to capitalize on the upheaval, from the far right to the far left camp.

‘The “yellow vests”… have rejected the participation of all political forces as such, and kicked out far right and far left elements attempting to infiltrate them’, she highlighted, adding that the movement had emerged spontaneously protesting against the austerity policies which originate from the 2008 financial crisis and earlier economic strategy.

The journalist has drawn attention to the fact that Macron has refused to hear the plight of the French population so far.

‘[Prime Minister] Edouard Philippe even repeated [on 28 November] that he won’t eliminate the planned increases of energy costs for 2019 and won’t increase the minimum wage’, she remarked. ‘Will Philippe, a close aide to Alain Juppé, end up like his master in 1995, ousted following the strikes, because he was too rigid to change?  Anything is possible.’

According to Bierre, these protests ‘have the potential of a revolutionary movement.’

‘Will the government resist all the pressure, due to the lack of organizational structures and experience [of the protesters]? Perhaps; but it has definitely become the first serious call to bring an end to the arrogance of the Paris elites of the post-De Gaulle era’, she said.

The Lesson of the 2008 Financial Crisis is Still Unlearned

The journalist believes that it is no coincidence that the leaders of major European powers — Germany, France and the UK — are currently facing economic and political difficulties triggering speculations about their possible resignations or early departures.

‘In fact Europe is suffering from the refusal of the Western world to deal with the consequences of the 2008 financial crisis, and with the inequalities created by the financial globalization of the last 30 years’, she opined. ‘Like in the US, in Europe, the middle classes became impoverished during this process, and the poor became even poorer.’

The situation is complicated by the diktat of Brussels, she underscored, adding that EU member-states’ financial systems are being controlled by the European Central Bank, which exerts its supranational authority on the nations.

‘The situation in Europe is worsened by the fact that by adopting the EU supranational treaty, all nations gave up their sovereignty in all matters and today are like bodies with no heads! As we see in the case of Italy, a non-elected EU Commission is trying to rule over a duly elected Italian government, to forbid them from carrying a policy of investment to create jobs’, Bierre said.

Seeking a Cure

So, what steps should be taken by the government to fix the current situation?

‘Dealing with the European question is not sufficient however, because to create jobs and rebuild our economies, we must take back control of our financial system’, the journalist responded.

She noted that the looming financial crisis that is being predicted by most financial media at this point ‘sets the obvious context for the financial reforms needed to rebuild our nations in response to the current revolts.’

According to Bierre, first, Europeans need ‘a real Glass-Steagall Act which separates speculative banking completely from commercial banking’; second, ‘the reestablishment of sovereign national banks in every country emitting “public credit” for reconstruction of industrial capacities of the devastated European economies based on the policies of the “30 glorious” [post-war boom] years in France’; third, Europe needs to adopt a ‘policy of cooperation with the great powers of this world, Russia, China, India and the United States, to expand and contribute to initiatives like China’s New Silk Road, the Russian Eurasian Economic Union, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.’

November 30, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , , | Leave a comment