In the tough reality of street politics, it’s all about: put on a hi-vis vest – be cautious! Anyone wearing this eye-catching attire is in a precarious situation. The law requires motorists to wear a special reflective vest as soon as they enter the motorway.
How exactly the yellow vest became a symbol of protest remains a mystery. According to rumors, a driver from the Seine et Marne department (Ile-de-France region) came up with the idea. Originally, it was about resisting the new diesel tax – a déjà vu?
The initial outcry against the planned additional fuel taxes from 1 January 2019 was 7 cents per liter of diesel and 3 cents per liter of petrol. This happened against the backdrop of a general price increase of 18% in 2018.
Previous protests organized by unions did not achieve the desired success. One possible reason for the failure could be that the union leaders leading the protest were involved in lobbying structures and sat at the negotiating table with representatives of financial capital.
Guillaume Trichard, the former Secretary-General of the Industrial Union Confederation UNSA, received the Hammer of the Grand Master of the Grand Orient de France last year. In contrast to conventional Freemasonry, which aims for moral improvement and charity, this influential Freemasonry association in France openly pursues political goals and significantly influences the country’s politics.
The entanglement of protest leaders with those in power is not uncommon. What can one expect, for example, from Joachim Rukwied, the President of the German Farmers’ Association? Not only is he an official in various organizations and corporations such as Südzucker, but he also sits on the board of the KfW Development Bank. The Supervisory Board of this institution also includes names such as Robert Habeck, Christian Lindner, Annalena Baerbock, and Cem Özdemir. According to research by Monitor, he earned a total income of €167,000 in 2020 from his supervisory board positions.
The impressive mobilization – at times up to 300,000 people on the streets – owes its success neither to a central organization nor charismatic speakers. The connecting element was the yellow vest, a kind of uniform that anyone, regardless of their political affiliation, could wear.
The goal of the Yellow Vests is clear: making people visible. The demonstrators are advocating for the political demands of the politically and media-marginalized to be brought into the limelight. In countries where the media-political cartel is under the control of global financial capital, this is crucial: to become visible.
It is not a party, it is not an organization – it is rather an outlier between a uniform and a traffic sign: CAUTION. PEOPLE ON THE ROAD. A sign that should not only be used in street politics but also employed as a weapon in the fight. CAUTION FOR PEOPLE.