France: Gilets Jaunes Aim to Rebuild Democracy from Below

Source: Roar Magazine

The second “Assembly of Assemblies” of the Yellow Vests showed both the importance and challenges of organizing a nation-wide direct democratic resistance movement.

Early last month, between April 5-7, the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) organized a second “Assembly of Assemblies” in Saint-Nazaire, following the first such meeting in Commercy back in January. The following article is a partial report-back on these meetings, offering an enthusiastic, albeit ambivalent, assessment. When “limits” and “disappointments” are mentioned, the author considers them despite everything as being part of a long process: “democracy must be conceived as a painful learning process”.

However, according to echoes reaching us from other sources, it would seem to be the forms of democracy themselves that are at least in part responsible for making those few days painful: obsession with voting, exacerbated formalism, massive presence of veteran activists, etc.

While we think it is vital for the Gilets Jaunes movement to be able to organize nationally beyond virtual channels (Facebook, Telegram, etc.), it seems to us a bit sad that this process, in many ways, insists on using the same democratic practices that we are already familiar with: representatives — elected — who vote on texts and get bogged down in conflicts that no one understands.

Why not simply take advantage of moments like these to talk about different local situations, forge a sharper perspective on the state of the movement and its different parts, and even, perhaps, coordinate a few pertinent actions?

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