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AskProfWolff: What is the significance of the yellow vests movement?

AskProfWolff: What is the significance of the yellow vests movement?


This is a response to inquiries from our patreon community, and from the large audience for the economic update radio and TV show. A series of questions has come in about the historic significance of the Gilet Jaune, or yellow vest movement in France, and indeed it has now spread to several other countries. I do think it’s a historic event. And so I want to respond to these questions by explaining why. Capitalism is in deep trouble the crash of 2008 and 9 coming 75 years after the even greater crash of the 1930s was proof, a sign that capitalism is unable to Regulate or reform its way out of the vulnerability to a level of instability that is crushing. On average, over the last 300 years that capitalism has become the dominant system in the world, on average every 4-7 years We have a downturn, or recession or depression, a crisis, a cycle. The words keep flowing to describe What we cannot overcome. Every four to seven years millions are thrown out of work, production gets cut back, poverty rises, unemployment explodes, countries run out of money, social programs get savaged. By now we all know about it because our lives are punctuated by repeated versions of that that interrupt our lives, sometimes destroying our educational opportunities, etc, etc. Everything has been tried to overcome these crises and it hasn’t worked. And I think the 2008 and 9 crisis proving how earlier reforms and regulations just didn’t do the job drove people over the edge a kind of straw that broke the camel’s back. And masses of people began to understand, finally, that capitalism as a system isn’t working for the mass of people. It hasn’t for a good long while, and the only times it really did was when mass pressure from below forced it, but left to its own devices with or without government interference, since after all the government is bought and purchased by that same capitalist system. No matter what, here we are going through another crisis with another ten years 2008 to 2018. Behind us a kind of lost decade. And so with that crash the recognition came; we’ve got to do something. And yes, initially this took the form of voting for unusual candidates In America here, we put an African-american in the presidency. We have never done that before. Maybe he could do something? But he didn’t, and so afterwards we made an even more extreme movement, to a white supremacist fellow who talked differently, acted differently. Promised something new and different and is turning out to be as big a disappointment, if not worse, than Mr. Obama ever was. And the British people voted to leave Europe as if that were their problem. It’s hard to face that capitalism is the problem, so you look for another scapegoat Here in America, we had the Occupy movement That was a direct reflection of the problems of capitalism. The 1% versus the 99% said it perfectly. And the focus was finally where it belongs, on the economic system: capitalism, and how it works, and the unemployment that we suffer because of it, and the inequality that we suffer, and the instability that keeps haunting our lives. And then we had Bernie Sanders, and Jeremy Corbyn in England, and new extreme governments left and right around the world. Poland, Hungary, now Brazil. But I want to talk about the yellow vest movement in France because it is a whole new step. The mass of people are not voting anymore, they’re not waiting for the elections, they’re not doing docile what political parties tell them. In France the mass of people, in the country where you would expect it, went into the streets seven weeks ago. All across France demanding that the economic system stopped discriminating against the mass of people and stop favoring the precious few at the top who need it least. Who bring on these economic turmoils and then shovel off the cost of them onto the mass of people. The yellow vest movement is the entry of the mass of the American people, and the French people, and the world’s people into politics. The French Revolution led the way some centuries ago, and the yellow vest movement is doing it now direct intervention and the reason it’ll become very important is because the French have already won in that, they got the tax on their fuel withdrawn, they got their pensions not cut back. They got the minimum wage raised, they got a promise to finally tax the corporations and the rich, who evade most of their tax obligations. They got more in seven weeks of street action than all the political maneuvering of the last decade. And that proof of the effectiveness of street protest means that the yellow vest movement in France is going to be changing the way the world works. It is a very powerful, positive sign for the time ahead. This is Richard Wolff for democracy at work thanking you for your support, and your interest

21 thoughts on “AskProfWolff: What is the significance of the yellow vests movement?

  1. I have been vigorously taking notes on an older video series you posted on Marxist economic theory. I have a question for you professor. If Marxist economic theory like co ops did take root in the u.s.a. we would still be left with the deep suffering that slavery, the 3/5 clause, Jim crow etc. I don't see economic improvements as an answer for those scars and would like your thoughts. To me we would still have a highly disfunctional society wether we had economic improvement or not. I am struggling to make sense of this.

  2. But the Socialist want a carbon tax that the yellow vests are protesting. The middle class has to pay for the elites just like in any socialist country.

  3. The downfall of any “ism” is human greed, power, and ego. Perhaps any “ism” succeeds only with mature, spiritual humans?

  4. You left out that our current President is a former game show host.
    I was listening to Beau from the Fifth Column and he is suggesting cooperatives and the eventual destruction of government.

  5. Professor, clwould you do a video on the Laffer Curve, and the Romer theory on the % where it peakswhy it is wrong (or right?), please. Thanks

  6. Lol every 4-7 year crash… other then the last 4-7 years. You are such an idiot. Hahah

    Did you say, “Your Patreon community?” Hahahahaha You capitalist!

  7. It's called predatory capitalism!! He called our president a white supremacist why? Where were you all the way back to Nixon? Do you feel like a big man playing the race card?

  8. Professor Wolff could you make a special video about the election in Venezuela and Maduro's new term? Here in Brazil corporate media reports the election was fraudulent and that Maduro is a dictator. I can't believe them since they're imperialist dolls just like the elite in Venezuela, but also I can't find any material about the current situation there. Thanks for your videos!

  9. I respectfully disagree
    For one, what we have here is not true Capitalism.
    2) the US Government was to use only GOLD backed currency so politicians could not borrow into the future and make false promises.
    3) What is going on in France is attempted move toward more SOCIALISM, they are forcing working people to pay more taxes to pay for social programs.

    The taxation is a form of Socialism not Capitalism, in fact it is used to keep small businesses from entering the market and competing.
    There are so many restrictions now that small businesses can never compete, they would need a team of lawyers just to get started.

  10. Prof. Wolff, I'm wondering where you stand on the Earthstrike movement. It seems like something with potential that we should all get behind.

  11. When will the Americans wake up? The American mentality… to be in a perpetual war with anyone, if there are not conflicts around the world, Americans create them for you, they create the problem and the solution to Kill, Drill, Spill and loot your resources’. Unfortunately, what the Americans really have are politicians "who obediently rubber-stamp decisions made by and for the interests of the military-industrial complex and Wall Street,"

  12. This is an interesting guy. Capitalism is to be blamed
    while many of us believe inefficient or incompetent governments
    and central banks are causing financial turmoil.

    However, it's not exactly proven that capitalism is the best system either
    of many known (or unknown) systems. So I am careful being absolutely certain
    about things. I prefer to be open to various suggestions.
    Although there are many leftist countries in the history who have failed
    in many ways and not uncommonly in a financial manner.

  13. also banking should be talked about since the creation of money is through loans and it is the interest of those loans that can't be paid off ever since world has more debt then it ever will have money to pay it. I see no point what so ever talkin about any kind of lasting socialism until the whole system is accounted and how ever increasing debt is fueling bigger consumption of things and how that is relating to being in a job in the first place. If there will be left anykind of individual "growth" of owning things through money then the limit of the individual also is needed to recognise since nobody can't physically make that kind of work that would pay millions in years. It is only possible by through using other people and taking from their labour and through other non human means like owning resources so you can then sell people something they don't have acces to like USA invading Irag, taking their oil and use soldiers for that work, but the soldiers don't get any share of that spoil they are only the pawns of who ever is going to be on top of wealth at any given time.

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