The brown vests

In the Spanish landscape a new subject has become central: the orange vests, the local version of the gilets jaunes, the French yellow vests that from 2018 took over the street. Both phenomena are linked to the increase in energy prices and its effect on the middle layers, in the case of France, and on the carriers in the Spanish protest.

At the root of the French demonstrations was the Dissatisfied with the price of fuel that affected a sector displaced from the big cities by the increase in the cost of living and the limitations of the labor field. These families left their urban flats and bought homes far from their workplaces with the advantage of gaining a certain quality of life, having larger houses and a natural environment, but spending more time commuting, both daily due to obligations and on weekends, looking for leisure alternatives and making supply purchases. The increase in fuel put in check that circuit that recycled a previous way of life and the indignation gave rise to a spontaneous movement, which grew exponentially and was quickly infected by expressions of the radical right that starred in violent events of an intensity not seen since French May.

The situation gave rise to a paradox when negotiating an exit. On the one hand, the movement was horizontal, with which, extremists aside, each decision had to be agreed upon in an assembly manner and there was no interlocutor, but a group that expressed demands to which the government’s proposals were catalyzed in a process slow. In the administration, for its part, a new political platform was established and endures, implemented by President Macron, where he himself heads a structure that lacks a political apparatus, with which he was forced to negotiate improvisedly, alone, with a headless community. The tension was relaxed, but the consequences will be seen in the next presidential elections.

The orange vests of Spain, unlike the French phenomenon, have a vanguard in the extreme right-wing groups and a related group that brings together a sector of the carriers but that have found an echo in the rest of the transport circuit and the countryside that it suffocates with the prices of fuels and the rest of the energies. It is worth noting that the price of energy in general, spurred by the cost of gas that drags electricity, has triggered inflation after many years of calm with the price of money close to zero and this dynamic, easy to understand from a economy like Argentina’s, has set off all the alarms and set in motion discontent.

In France, the extreme right he wanted to appropriate the discomfort; In Spain, the groups affected by the new crisis co-opted Vox and its satellites, overwhelming them.

The conflict in Ukraine, after the awareness that the scourge of the pandemic has represented, puts into action the ferocious face of the war economy and, unabashedly, postpones the human cost of the confrontation to the background. The energy factor is undoubtedly a central element, but it is one more side of a polyhedral conflict where the Eurasian axis is at stake with China as an interested interlocutor between Russia, the United States and Europe.

The relativization of the conflict and even the slanted view of the reasons that encourage it, contributes to further cornering Europe, which acts with slow gestures and reacts late to the transformation of its energy matrix. The yellow and orange vests, arising from a genuine claim, open a space in which the social contract is relativized and constitutionalism is questioned. The tacit or express harmony of Le Pen, Zemmour, Orban and Abascal with Putin, and even the link with the Russian energy companies of, among others, former prime ministers such as Gerhard Schröder or François Fillon, that is, political or economic ties of the democratic field cut out the increasingly weak space of the system.

The yellow and orange vests warn how close we are to the brown clothing.

*Writer and journalist.

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