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DANIEL VAUGHAN: The revolt against the technocrats
For those on the right, it’s tempting to cheer on the Yellow Vest movement that rose up in France after French President Emmanuel Macron announced taxes that would increase the price of gas. Protesting higher taxes? That seems like something we can all get behind.
But the Yellow Vest riots are more like the Occupy Wall Street movement than the Tea Party.
The Yellow Vest rioters want more government in their lives, and they don’t want to pay for it. They’re revolting against their liberal technocratic leaders who believe if they only pull the right policy levers, the world will become a magically better place.
The riots — which left four people dead, 130 injured, 412 arrested, and millions of dollars in damages — came up after Macron proposed raising fuel tax in the country in a new budget aimed at curbing carbon emissions. Macron’s proposed fuel tax increase is the epitome of a technocratic green initiative on the left.
The Yellow Vest riots started organically around the fact that people in France have faced high unemployment and stagnant wages for years now and can’t afford the tax.
But this isn’t an anti-tax movement; it’s a socialist riot. The Yellow Vests want more distribution of wealth, and they want the government to do it. Noah Rothman noted in Commentary magazine that the demands of the Yellow Vests are highly socialist, writing:
Indeed, one of the Yellow Vests’ central grievances is one of Macron’s first acts as president: a substantial reduction of the tax burden on France’s high earners. Among the “people’s directives” the Yellow Vests endorsed are an increase in the minimum wage, a “maximum wage” that caps income at €15,000 per month, the repeal of tax credits for employers, rent controls, dramatic increases in public spending on schools, post offices, and railroads, a ban on outsourcing, and a lower retirement age.
These demands are typical socialist requests, but as has been proven over and over again — no one cares about liberal environmental measures — even in Europe. The French left is mad because they’ve been told they have to pay a tax, but won’t get anything in return. They want the rich to pay for everything in society, while the rest of the people enjoy government benefits.
Notice: they’re calling for a complete takeover of the economy by the government. They want the state to control all forms of capital flow in the country, and how much money each person earns every month.
You can directly compare those demands with what liberals in the U.S. wanted during the Occupy Wall Street movement several years back. Bloomberg BusinessWeek reported:
They want more and better jobs, more equal distribution of income, less profit (or no profit) for banks, lower compensation for bankers, and more strictures on banks with regard to negotiating consumer services such as mortgages and debit cards. They also want to reduce the influence that corporations—financial firms in particular—wield in politics, and they want a more populist set of government priorities: bailouts for student debtors and mortgage holders, not just for banks.
Occupy Wall Street was also a revolt against the technocratic rule of the liberal Obama administration. Whereas the Tea Party movement was directed at the wasteful bailouts of major corporations, higher taxes, and an ever-increasing government, the Occupy Wall Street movement wanted more government in every aspect of life.
Like the Yellow Vests, they rioted because they wanted the rich to pay for their socialist utopia.
The American technocratic left loved making fun of President Donald Trump when he said, “Only I can fix the problems.” But in a way, Trump was mimicking liberal technocrats who claim that every policy they propose will fix all of our problems and make society better.
In fact, what we’re beginning to see, in France and the U.S., is that liberal technocrats are losing control.
France has always had socialists, and the Yellow Vests are just giving them a bigger platform. In the U.S., the rise of Bernie Sanders, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, and the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) signal that there’s increasing dissatisfaction with how liberal technocrats are running the world.
It’s populism for the left: they want more government, more taxes, and more power in fewer hands controlling every aspect of your life. They keep saying if only we controlled more, we could make the world a better place. And their desire for more power is marked by violent riots in France.
But if you remember the Occupy movement in New York, they too were plagued by rape, sexual assault, and violent crime.
Violence and socialism go hand in hand. And just as there were warnings that nationalism and populism on the right were growing for several years before Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, so too were there warning signs and riots of liberals unhappy with the technocratic left.
Macron is learning he can’t use policy to quell the socialists. When will American liberals learn this lesson?
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