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Yellow Vests Of France And Mobilizing Voices Of Dissent

January 21, 2019

Let me first state that the riots and chaos designed to hamstring the French government has been most unfortunate.  An orderly process of registering dissent. and making efforts through a legislative path, is the reasonable way to proceed.  What has taken place over the past months has been an affront to common sense.
 
While that is my process and governing view, it is also necessary to view what happened with the Yellow Vests in France–and is still festering–from the larger social tumult perspective which has at its roots a very political message.  Today this article in the NYT did a great job of digging down into part of the story.
 
Before the local gendarmes shooed them away, the Yellow Vests found an unlikely sense of community on the traffic circles where they had gathered to demonstrate. There, people who before had felt alone, looked down upon and abandoned came together.
 
Yet in Les Andelys, a collection of hamlets in Normandy, as in many other parts of France, the Yellow Vests have now been barred from the roundabouts, denied, quite literally, the common ground to coalesce and talk through what comes next for them.
 
At least that is what the government seems to hope.
 
There is no doubt that the virtual space offered by social media was important to the Yellow Vests’ organization, and remains so. But it is no substitute for a place where people can meet one another in person.
 
Much like the shops and post offices of the past — where people traded stories about their miseries and the microeconomics of their daily lives, the roundabouts provided a physical meeting place.
 
“Just a couple of decades ago, in every village there were little stores, little services, like the post office, the little grocery store; today the villages are dormitories,” said Bruno Laziou, a Yellow Vest protester in Les Andelys.
 
“Nothing is open anymore in my little village, other than the mayor’s office,” he said.
 
The use of the traffic circles as public space speaks to the fragmentation and accompanying isolation that has come to define much of life in the hinterlands of France, where the Yellow Vest movement took hold.

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