The image is as unusual as it is powerful: the recent winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Annie Ernaud, and the leader of the left-wing France Insumisa formation, Jean Luc Mélenchon, leading side by side the demonstration “against expensive life and climate inaction ” which took place this Sunday, October 16. A great citizen march against the management of the government of Emannuel Macron in this time of runaway inflation.
About 140 thousand people, according to the organizers. 30 thousand, according to the authorities. In one case or another, thousands of citizens responded to the call of the left-wing coalition Nueva Unión Popular y Ecologista (Nupes). Coming from Brittany, Normandy, Alsace and other corners of the country, they arrived in the French capital in buses and vehicles rented by the organizers to join the human wave that ran through the Parisian streets, from the Place de la Nation to the emblematic Bastille.
“We demonstrate to defend ourselves against the cost of living and not for purchasing power, I think the difference is important. Make no mistake, when energy sobriety is asked of people who have already heated up to 16 degrees for several years. The concern is not the lack of energy, but the lack of money,” says Corine, a member of the Movement for a Left, Ecological and Solidarity Alternative, Ensemble (Together in Spanish) and who came from Brittany to join the ranks of the demonstration. .
With the reinforcement of some union federations and social organizations, the march was, above all, a huge parade of citizens gathered around five slogans: increase in all wages and the vital minimum, pension at 60 years, 1,060 euros of subsidy of autonomy for young people over the age of 18, taxes on super profits or extraordinary profits and 200 billion euros of investment in the ecological transition.
A pyramid called a general strike
Neither the Communist Party nor the national unions were part of the initiative led by Francia Insumisa, socialists and environmentalists. “Our initiative is part of the continuity of mobilizations undertaken by unions and associations,” the organizers of this Sunday’s march said in a statement, referring, among others, to the day of mobilization and strike called by the unions for Tuesday October 18.
Despite the absences in the “demonstration against expensive life”, due more to differences in the form than to the substance of the matter, the intention of both the left-wing coalition Nupes and the unions is to take steps in the construction of a pyramid of mobilizations and stoppages that culminate in a great general strike.
“We are very happy to see that what is being built is a general strike that allows us to impose this wage increase because a billion workers on strike can more than ten thousand voters on the left,” Gael told Radio France International (RFI). Quirant of the postal union, La Poste, of the Parisian region.
support of intellectuals
If the trade unions preferred to step aside, it was not the case of well-known personalities of the country who openly supported the march and with their own name. This is the case of about 70 intellectuals, including the French writer recently awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, Annie Ernaux, who publicly called to join the “demonstration against expensive life and for the ecological transition.”
In a forum published a week ago, the group accuses President Macron of not dealing with the inflation that is taking the life of the French by the throat. The text denounces that the bulk of the population arrives in debt at the end of the month, with accumulations of bills and tickets that skyrocket, but with salaries and pensions that do not move. While the earnings of the largest French firms reach the top.
“It is the shock strategy: Emmanuel Macron uses inflation to widen the wealth gap, boost capital income, to the detriment of the rest. Everything is a matter of political will”, writes the group and also accuses the French government of taking advantage of another shock wave: the difficulties of energy supply.
“Perfect excuse to call for individual responsibility and the end of an abundance that modest people have not known and thus make us forget those mainly responsible for excessive consumption and ecological disaster: the great owners of capital, in the front line the multinationals and the richest. But Emannuel Macron assumes not to constrain them because it would be attacking the engine of capital profitability: the unlimited exploitation of work and living beings. Little matter the series of heat waves, fires, tornadoes, famines and dying oceans.
“Do you know what they are doing here? What Pinochet did in Chile and Margaret Thatcher in England. They sold the entire industry, they broke it. And that is what they are doing now in Europe. It is called the Shock Strategy,” he comments in the middle of the march Joaquín, a political refugee who came to France in the 1970s fleeing the Chilean dictatorship.
From the Normandy region, Meiva brought to the protest as a banner a huge pack of cigarettes with the printed image of the French president and, parodying the classic legend of the packages, the inscribed phrase “Macron is harmful to health”.
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March in Paris against expensive life: the Nobel Prize for Literature with Mélenchon