600 people occupied the Pantheon in Paris last Friday (12 July) in protest at the repression of undocumented migrants, who face racism, terrible living and working conditions; and the constant spectre of detention centres and deportation. These activists of the “gilets noirs” (black vests) were demanding (among other things) that Prime Minister Édouard Phillipe grant them documents to legally live and work in France.

President Emmanuel Macron made a televised address to the nation last week on 25 April, following a two-month-long nationwide “grand debate” at town-hall-style meetings all over France. Macron wants to “show he is listening” after 23 weeks of protest by the yellow vests against his government of the rich. But his speech was more of a slap in the face than an olive branch.

The fire that partly destroyed Notre Dame is a tragedy for anyone who cherishes the cultural, artistic and architectural achievements of humanity. Capitalism is undermining its own past achievements and those of previous societies, and this emerges very clearly when one takes a closer look at what happened in Paris on Monday 15 April.

The yellow vests movement strikes fear into its opponents, which incurs their aggression. In addition to violent repression (2,000 people have been wounded, 18 blinded and five have had their hands torn off), the government has responded with an unprecedented intensity of judicial repression.

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