In this episode, I speak with Alley Valkyrie and Rhyd Wildermuth — co-founders of Gods & Radicals Press and the hosts of the Empires Crumble podcast. We discuss the recent widespread unrest in France (dubbed “Les Gilets Jaunes” or the "Yellow Vest" movement in the English-speaking world) — a response to President Emmanuel Macron's decision to implement a fuel tax hike in France. Alley and Rhyd provide much needed context to what is currently unfolding in France -- tying cultural, historical, and broad economic trends in France and Europe to what is currently unfolding under this movement.
In this discussion, Alley and Rhyd contextualize the cultural, historical, and political reasons as to what the Yellow Vest movement is ultimately responding to, including what this fuel tax symbolizes within the broader discontent with neoliberal capitalism in Europe, and with the European Union more generally. What has been most misunderstood and misrepresented in the American press about Les Gilets Jaunes is the political and ideological elements present within it and the direction this movement may likely head in. Within the contextual framework provided by Alley and Rhyd, we can more fully appreciate and discern what these revolts may spell for the rise of either a left or right-wing co-option of the movement, based on the underlying factors that lead to this revolt to begin with — including the widespread unpopularity of President Emmanuel Macron and his neoliberal economic reforms, the rising popularity of far right political ideologies (central to the popularity of far right political party Front National), the role automobiles and public transit has played in the lives of the average citizen, and that the fuel tax hike is an attempt to obscure the reality that cheap oil production is coming to an inevitable end. This revolt is but a prelude to what’s coming in light of the material conditions present in so much of the Western world right now. Alley and Rhyd provide needed insight into what these events spell for the future, and in particular what the Left more broadly needs to incorporate into their analysis when addressing how to build revolutionary movements in this time of widespread economic, ecological, and social collapse. As Rhyd states in this episode, this is what happens when empires crumble.
Alley Valkyrie and Rhyd Wildermuth are political theorists, the co-founders of Gods & Radicals Press — “a site of beautiful resistance,” and the hosts of the Empires Crumble podcast. After spending much of their lives within the borders of the United States, they now reside in Rennes, France.
- Some of the best English language analysis of Les Gilets Jaunes can be found at: https://crimethinc.com
- Listen and subscribe to the Empires Crumble podcast: http://bit.ly/EmpiresCrumble
- Support Empires Crumbles on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/EmpiresCrumble
- Much of Alley’s work can be found at: https://alleyvalkyrie.wordpress.com
- Rhyd's blog: https://paganarch.com
- Alley’s video series Badly Made Ramblings: http://bit.ly/BMRamblings
- The songs featured in this episode are “Zerulean” and “Koi Fish” by Lord RAJA from the album Para.