Yellow Letter #15:
A Yellow Year
Since the beginning of the Yellow Vests movement, these mysterious Yellow Letters have been circulated at roundabouts and through social media. Accurate and poetic as ever, this 15th missive, which deals with the imminence of the end of this world and the responsibility that sits with us.
Other languages: Français
Dear Yellow Vests, dear men and women from below,
We are approaching a critical moment. We are approaching a historical moment, a tipping point in history. We are approaching the end. For several months now, we have been battling together to block the suicidal behavior of those above. Our lives, our children’s lives, our grandchildren’s lives, hang by a thread. We refuse to do the tightrope dance of weighing the pro’s and con’s of this or that constitutional measure that they promise will win us some tiny margin of room to maneuver. We must admit, we simply can’t stomach it.
It is no longer possible for us to define our forms of life in our own way. How do we work, how do we educate our children, how do we eat, how do we produce things, how do we dress, how do we celebrate, how do we look at one another, how do we struggle, how do we share things, how do we kiss, meet, and love one another? All of life is sucked up and devoured by the machinery from above which has never cared a lick about our grievances, our legal status, or our fine feelings. Those from above are already machines, and a machine, dear friends, does not think or feel, it calculates.
Dearest Yellow Vests, dear men and women from below.
In 2019 our living ground, our real soil, all that surrounds us, the beauty and bounty of our countryside, the freshness of a fine morning, the scent of jasmine or lilacs filling the air in the streets, the anguish of dark nights, the shafts of sunlight caressing our morning faces and the laughter of our children in the gardens of their innocence – all of this is being destroyed and disappearing under a monstrous tide of useless pavement. We have to admit, my friends, that there are no peaceful pastures, no Greenpeace on the horizon. No carbon tax either! No responsible ecology! Still less, any high-level debates around the environment, nor Cop 21, 22 or 23! All of it would amount nothing but a brushstroke of green paint over the trash that awaits us!
So Macron and his friends from above can well afford to wish us a Happy New Year. They’re not the ones who suffer at the end of every month, nor is it them who despair over the end of the world. No, they despair at the lack of growth, their only worry is about what happens if France-from-below fails to adapt to commercial dictates from above. Today, our struggle from below is a total confrontation, and no doubt the last one. It is a struggle against the planned extinction of the human species. It is time that we create a real social organisation with a local base and global reach. The problems of those from below in Congo, in Thailand or in Brazil are also our problems.
While we are encouraged to soothe our frustrations by emptying the shelves of shopping centers during the winter sales, let’s try and imagine a 20-year-old in Vietnam, uprooted from the native soil where his family has lived for generations, heading out at 6am, alone, to a cotton field or to huge cold metallic blocks to produce a miserable item of clothing! Let’s imagine the same company congratulating itself on its great quarterly results! Now imagine us Europeans demanding consumer credit to buy this very same object! Can we imagine how wretched that is? Can we actually imagine the world that we live in? Our faces, a reflection of our daily miseries. This world, our world. The one that we are have rendered so intolerable, detestable, suffocating, and unlivable that we must seek refuge in the citadels of our screens, our illusions, our denials…
On the other hand, imagine if we could establish other ways of producing and consuming things in our apartment blocks, in our neighborhoods and villages. Can we imagine one washing machine per building? Can we imagine spending the morning fishing, the afternoon doing childcare, and the evening preparing the local festival, or tomorrow’s football match? Can we imagine conserving our food in old-fashioned jars and shared spaces? Can we imagine shattering the private property that pens us in, forces us out, isolates and evicts us? Can we imagine the 25-year-old pregnant woman whose needs are distinct from those of a sturdy 35-year-old man? Can we imagine a night watchman working 40 hours a week in the freezing cold, while a banker works the same hours in an air-conditioned office with a cup of coffee and fine cookies? Can we imagine these really-existing sadnesses? Can we imagine a real inequality, and not this abstract equality, that of an abstract labor in which work is no longer judged according to real, vital needs but according to fictive and imaginary ones? Can we imagine real work, meaningful work? Might we, finally, imagine a human face?
Dear Gilets jaunes, dear men and women from below.
This year, our fate is again in our own hands. Let’s seize the opportunity, raise the issues which trouble us and come up with radical and real solutions outside every institutional artifice. Our world is dying, our world is collapsing, human life is being extinguished. We have reignited a spark of hope! So let’s set our villages ablaze, set our towns ablaze, set France ablaze, set Europe ablaze, set the world ablaze!
May our yellow sparks of revolt be transformed into a creative furnace! May the destruction of the framework of everyday life be transformed into the vitality of tomorrow!
A Happy New Yellow Year to all of us!
P.S. A recipe for your end-of-year meal:
1 – For 40 years, wipe out 60% of the world’s wildlife.
2 – Stir in 10 tons of plastic produced every second in the world.
3 – Mix this with $237,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, the global debt of our world.
4 – Drizzle it with yogurt that has traveled 5000 miles to end up on our plates.
5 – And voilà, there you have it, the destruction of humanity! This recipe is unlimited, and will ensure one in six deaths worldwide occur due to industrial pollution, a death rate 15 times higher than all wars.
Translated by Ill Will Editions