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Thousands Take to the Streets in France to Protest Pension Reform, Jeopardize Fuel Supplies

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Across France today, “hundreds of thousands of protesters” have taken to the streets to battle pension reform and President Sarkozy’s proposed two-year raise in the minimum retirement age.

As the Telegraph explains, “Union leaders want to bring enough people onto the street to make the government think again, while rail and refinery strikes continued to disrupt travel around the country.” What better way to disrupt a desperate tourist based economy?

And, it seems, the demonstrations may be only just beginning. Apparently, “About 70% of people polled this week think the strikes will build into a national protest movement…and more than half of those questioned said they would support it.”

But before we begin chanting all the old Situationist slogans, or get giddy about the airport running out of fuel and the threat of truck drivers blocking roads, we should consider whether the protesters are only attempting to delay the inevitable, even, perhaps, attempting the impossible.

Guardian: “The government says that is the only way to stop a €32bn (£28bn) annual pension shortfall ballooning to €50bn by 2020 and insists people must work longer because they are living longer.”

While, in any case, this does bring to mind one of the more famous sayings from May of ’68: “Don’t beg for the right to live — take it…” it also begs the question of whether true resistance to the State is any longer even possible.

Which had me looking, once again, at all the ’68 graffiti, to see if things have changed, or if these protests are just an always failing overcoming that never amounts to anything more than a little revolutionary fun. Isn’t it the case that though “Masochism today takes the form of reformism,“  such reformism and forward progression is, as the French also say, a fait accompli?

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