French protests: ‘Anger & frustration, but no coherent program’

Supporters of social media-driven movement "Nuit Debout" (Up All Night) kiss as they gather on the Place de la Republique in Paris, France. © Christian Hartmann
French youth protests are led by neither genuine anti-capitalists nor communists; they lack any program for change, says Herald Tribune website correspondent Gearoid O Colmain, adding that such ‘bourgeois bohemianism’ is what the ruling class promotes.

Anger's growing across France over plans to make people work longer and receive less overtime pay. A movement called 'Rise up at Night' said the government is destroying the hopes of many young people.

RT: France is no stranger to protests. So how effective is this one going to be? Will the government yield further on labor reforms?

Gearoid O Colmain: One of the slogans of the movement is “Reve generale” which is a play on the words “Greve generale” which means general strike and “Reve generale” means general dream. This is the kind of ideology we see in this movement. There doesn’t seem to be any coherent program for change. There is a lot of anger and frustration. There doesn’t seem to be any coherent counter ideology to the ruling ideology in France… I think it is going to go nowhere, I think it is designed to go nowhere. I am not being cynical, I am just being analytical.  

RT: A few politicians want the demonstrations banned. What would the repercussions?

GC: The thing about it is: why are they demonstrating at night. They should be occupying the streets during the day. What do they want? Do they want a revolution? Have they got any economic program for revolution? Do they want socialism? They say they are against capitalism; do they want a collective ownership of the means of production?  Do they want state sanctioned planning? What do they want? There is no economic program here. There is no coherent manifesto still. And they are demonstrating at night time – that is not very effective, most people are in bed at night time. It is just going to tire people out. All these young people demonstrating in Paris staying up all night, they are going to lose sleep and get demoralized and in few months they are going to see probably a repetition of what you saw in Spain with “Los indignados”, the movement which was a complete failure. The problem here is that some of the so-called intellectuals leading this movement are not genuine anti-capitalist, they are not communists, they do not have an actual program for change. This is what the French refer to as “Bobo-ideology”, bourgeois bohemianism. But that is something that the ruling class promotes, not something that they oppose. That is why this movement is set up to fail.

Cyrille Bret, Associate Professor, Sciences Po recalled that France has a long history of street protests.

“We have to bear in mind that the there is a long history/tradition of street contests in Paris and that the youth of Paris is very keen on making its education on the streets facing the police. It is rather a sign that the youth is no longer behind Francois Hollande than the sign of the end, or the decline of the presidency,” he said.

Nicolas Dhuicq, French Les Republicains MP, member of the National Assembly National Defense and Armed Forces Commission, said youngsters shouldn’t be in the streets protesting, “they should be studying.”

“In the regular situation people in their 14s and 15s are not to be manipulated by trade unions. These young people are mostly manipulated by older guys who just want to stay in power within their trade unions,” he told RT.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.