#162 | This Is Not Your Revolution: Beyond Les Gilets Jaunes w/ Alley Valkyrie & Rhyd Wildermuth

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.

Episode Notes:

- Some of the best English language analysis of Les Gilets Jaunes can be found at: https://crimethinc.com

- Read Alley and Rhyd’s writings at Gods & Radicals Press: https://godsandradicals.org / https://abeautifulresistance.org

- 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

- Follow Alley and Rhyd on Facebook: http://bit.ly/FBvalkyrie / http://bit.ly/FBwildermuth

- The songs featured in this episode are “Zerulean” and “Koi Fish” by Lord RAJA from the album Para.

#116 | A Zone To Defend: The Historical/Cultural Context & Purpose Of The ZAD w/ Alley Valkyrie

In this episode, I speak with Alley Valkyrie about the recent events in western France regarding the communal, long-term occupation at the ZAD (French: zone à défendre; English: zone to defend). Alley provides a much needed explanation of the events currently unfolding there; she contextualizes and expounds on the overlapping and interplaying cultural, political, and historical trends that have led to the present situation on the ground there.

Here's a very brief (and simplistic) description of what is unfolding at the ZAD, published in The Guardian, on April 9th 2018: 

"French police have used teargas in an attempt to clear anti-capitalist squatters from the site of an abandoned airport project. About 2,500 riot police made a pre-dawn raid in Notre-Dame-des-Landes to evict about 250 activists. The squatters have occupied the site for 10 years to prevent the airport from being built, but refused to leave after the plans were dropped earlier this year, saying they sought to construct an alternative way of life. The government had warned they would be evicted and carried out this threat on Monday morning. The protesters threw petrol bombs and set fire to barricades made of tyres and wooden pallets to obstruct the police’s advance. An eclectic group of anti-capitalists, eco-warriors and squatters, known as Zadists, joined a handful of farmers on the site in 2008." [source: https://bit.ly/2vUyLjC]

While this situation is complex, Alley does an absolutely superb job laying out all the necessary details of this under-reported event (particularly in English language publications), bringing us all up to speed as to what is really happening on the ground there. 

While this conversation mainly focuses on clarifying the events at the ZAD, we also discuss Alley's decision to leave the United States and begin the arduous process of becoming a citizen of France. We discuss the major underlying differences between French cultural attitudes surrounding protest and resistance, to the United States' general attitudes about protest and resistance, and why such differences exist in the first place.

Alley is an activist, political theorist, writer, and co-founder of Gods&Radicals. After spending much of her life in the within the borders of the United States, she now resides in Rennes, France.

Episode Notes:

- Read Alley's essays published at Gods&Radicals here: https://godsandradicals.org/author/alleyvalkyrie

- Get updates on Alley and her work/projects on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alleyvalkyrie

- Keep Alley well-fed and alive. Support her work on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/alleyvalkyrie

- The audio sample at the beginning of this episode is from "France: ZAD eco-camp eviction battle continues between riot police and radical activists" published by Ruptly April 11th, 2019 on YouTube. Source: https://youtu.be/n1W-iR44yI0

- The music in this episode is from the video "Dungeon sessions: Knxwledge - Jstowee" published by Stones Throw May 4th, 2015. Source: https://youtu.be/yK91vjg2Hsg