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.

The power of the yellow vests movement never ceases to surprise – and intimidate – its adversaries. Of course, the bourgeois and their lackeys (in politics and the media) know that poverty exists. They hear about it, distantly, but they are totally disconnected from the real living conditions of the people, their suffering and their problems. Then, from their lofty position of privilege, with all their power and their fortune, they said to themselves: “a little more or a little less austerity, what difference will that make?” The answer hit them like a ton of bricks.

The movement of the yellow vests is a social earthquake of exceptional power. It represents a major turning point in the class struggle in France – and is a source of inspiration for workers around the world. It will have a profound and lasting impact on the political life of the country.

For the fifth consecutive Saturday, the yellow vest protesters took to the streets of France on 15 December in what was dubbed ‘Act V’ of the movement. This was after Macron’s announcements of “concessions” on 10 December; and in a week that saw a mobilisation of students and a national day of action, called by the CGT trade union. After five weeks, what stage has the movement reached, and what are its perspectives?

On Monday evening, Macron gave a televised speech in an attempt to placate the yellow vest movement that now threatens his government. The following day, its contents were scrutinised and debated among all who have mobilised in recent weeks. The verdict: "smoke and mirrors". In particular, "the increase of the minimum wage by 100 euros" includes the automatic revaluation of the minimum wage scheduled for January 2019, in addition to an increase in the "activity premium" supplement, which will not cost employers one cent – and will not be taken into account when calculating pension entitlements.

The yellow vest movement entered its “fourth act” this weekend, with another round of radical protests by well over the officially cited 130,000 people (possibly as many as 500,000). This time, the state response was even more brutal, with 89,000 gendarmes mobilised across France in an attempt to prevent the yellow vests from demonstrating – peacefully or otherwise – resulting in over 2,000 arrests.

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