MY FRIEND Gerard from Bordeaux is a supporter of the Yellow Vests but he thinks they should have stopped their protest marches a long time ago. When national symbols inside the Arc de Triomphe were destroyed, it was evident that destroyers, anarchists and extremists had infiltrated the movement.
Last Dec. 22, the sixth Saturday of protest, some groups even flashed the Hitler arm and manifested their racist mindset. They attacked police and tipped over an ambulance. Dec. 29 was also not violence-free. The veritable Gilets Jaunes distance themselves from those who ruin their justified actions.
Gerard says president and government have understood the claims of the protesters and are ready to sit down with their speakers at the negotiating table. But will they bring up their farthest reaching claim: Macron demission? Indeed several wise citizens feel that the problems are systemic. But nobody can imagine a new constitution without an all-powerful president. Now they claim RIC: Referendum-Initiative Citoyenne. But what is the question? Macron demission? And then?
The French are active in a multitude of national and local movements, at least 10 of which are serious democratic and well distinguished political parties organized down to community chapters. The newest of them is the Gilet Jaune Party. What is nearer at hand than to give power to a parliament--but unlike the present rubber stamp Assemblee Nationale--a proportionally representative one, where parties exhaustively debate policies and the resulting laws are a compromise between right and left positions.
I depicted to Gerard the vision of a French Federation with a national parliament in Paris and 12 state parliaments in what is now the regions. Bordeaux is the capital of the region of Aquitaine. The city would become the seat of an elected state parliament. The local parliamentarians know the natural givens of the state and the sorrows of the people. Of course they would do their best to bring progress to their state knowing that in case of failure they would get to feel the ire of the ever irascible French.
We discussed the topic of desertification. Aquitaine is overly rural. There was once a balance between food producing farms and small market towns. But young people are reluctant to till the land. They desert the countryside. Fallow farms turn into bush land, then wild forest. Already deer and wild pigs are abundant, attracting lynx, wolfs and bears from the nearby Pyrenees. (European Law forbids hunting those predators.) It is the protectionists’ dream, but the ruin of economy.
Gerard sees the future less bleak: investors would buy big tracts of land and rationalize farm production. City dwellers would build their second residence in the countryside creating jobs and income. Agri-tourism can be a source of income for those who remain at home.
Gerard criticizes his compatriots who want all and at once. A minimum salary earner should get over the month with his 1188 euros if he and his family live modest lives. Gerard thinks that the countryside dwellers have plenty opportunities to save money by planting legumes, producing vine and fruit and bartering with neighbors in the traditional way. Hunting is allowed but legally limited.--Erich Wannemacher