“ Even the moralistic criticisms that accuse the gilets jaunes of materialism and selfishness can be called into question. Was not the increase in the price of bread the main factor pushing the women of Paris to mount their furious march on Versailles in October 1789? The history of social struggles is peppered with movements arising from an exasperation that owed to the material conditions of the popular classes, movements that can give rise to greater awareness, bring out wider demands, and which can converge with other struggles. Or not.”
The or not here is well taken. Predicting social revolutions is a fool’s game. Whether this nascent leaderless movement becomes part of a force for social and economic revolution depends in part on the contributions of French unions and in turn the support Yellow Vests might give to a host of current union efforts to quash neoliberal austerity and privatization initiative.