This ingenious graffiti visually expressed the whole philosophy underlying the massive demonstration against the Pension System Reform that took place on 19 January in Paris on an asphalt that still hides the cobblestones of a not-too-distant French May.
Miguel Angel Ferrís
The look of astonishment and concern on the faces of the thousands of pensioners who, outside the official trade union processions, are milling around on the margins to contemplate the resounding response, contrasts with the cheering and shouting of tens of thousands of young people who, to the sound of songs and rhythms of protest, are facing a future that leaves them little cause for hope.
As if it were a sociological portrait, the route from the head to the tail of the long march gives us a glimpse of the different key sectors of the population that are expressing “la grogne” (discontent) against Macron’s neoliberal government and the projects he has announced for the coming years.
In general, alongside unionised workers, who represent the generations that still had a certain level of job stability and social protection, there is a multiplication of those who call themselves “the new precariat”, who are now condemned to extend their working lives to 64 years of age according to the calculation of current life expectancy, as has been imposed in countries such as Spain or Italy. At the same time they would be forced to work 43 years to reach their full pension.
The most widespread responses, in addition to anger at Macron and Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, focus on the immoral profits of big business and multinationals, the need to increase taxes on the rich, and a more egalitarian distribution of income and a real rise in wages that would allow a large part of the working classes to live w the poverty line. The mainstream media, 90% controlled in France by big business groups, banks and national and foreign investment funds, spew out their usual discourse on the supposed legitimacy of the Pension Reform, based on the fact that Macron’s electoral programme already warned of its implementation.
What is not said is that of those 58.5% of votes that the leader of the EMN obtained in the second round of the Presidential elections, a large majority were actually against the candidacy of the ultra-right (Macron and his party only had 28% of support), while the NUPES obtained 25.6% in the Legislative elections. Therefore, if both the left and Marine Le Pen’s party are decidedly against the reform, the votes in favour of its approval were clearly in the minority.
The level of response obtained on this historic day, with two million demonstrators and a determination to resist reminiscent of the struggles of other times, casts doubt on the success of the government’s intentions, in fact, to bring down the last Gallic bastion against the European model of cutting pensions and social rights.
In many periods of history, France has achieved the most advanced achievements for universal citizenship. To emulate the well-known phrase: “Paris is worth a demonstration”.
(Translated by Rene Phelvin – Email: renephelvin@com) – Photos: Pixabay