At last, a people’s revolt against the tyranny of environmentalism. Paris is burning. Not since 1968 has there been such heat and fury in the streetsThousands of ‘gilets jaunes’ stormed the capital at the weekend to rage against Emmanuel Macron and his treatment of them with aloof, technocratic disdain. And yet leftists in Britain and the US have been largely silent, or at least antsy, about this people’s revolt. The same people who got so excited about the staid, static Occupy movement a few years ago — which couldn’t even been arsed to march, never mind riot — seem struck dumb by the sight of tens of thousands of French people taking to the barricades against Macronism.
It isn’t hard to see why. It’s because this revolt is as much against their political orthodoxies as it is against Macron’s out-of-touch and monarchical style. Most strikingly this is a people’s rebellion against the onerous consequences of climate-change policy, against the politics of environmentalism and its tendency to punish the little people for daring to live relatively modern, fossil-fuelled lives. This is new. This is unprecedented. We are witnessing perhaps the first mass uprising against eco-elitism and we should welcome it with open arms to the broader populist revolt that has been sweeping Europe for a few years now.
The ‘gilet jaunes’ — or yellow-vests, after the hi-vis vests they wear — are in rebellion against Macron’s hikes in fuel tax. As part of his and the EU’s commitment to cutting carbon emissions, Macron is punishing the drivers of diesel vehicles in particular, raising the tax by 7.6 cents for every litre of diesel fuel. This will badly hit the pockets of those in rural France, who need to drive, and who can’t just hop on buses as deluded Macronists living in one of the fancy arrondissements of Paris have suggested they should. These people on the periphery of French society — truck drivers, provincial plumbers, builders, deliverymen, teachers, parents — have rocked up to the centre of French society in their tens of thousands three times in recent weeks, their message the same every time: ‘Enough is enough. Stop making our lives harder.’