Is a Revolution Brewing in France?

Will November 2010 be remembered as the new May 1968?

The first two weeks of October have seen a climactic flare up of social unrest. Anger has been steadily building as global unemployment continues to rise.

As we reported in Tactical Briefing #6 some of the spectacular actions that have already occurred include the pelting of the Prime Minister of Iceland with eggs and the torching of police cars in Toronto and Barcelona. But it looks like these early protests may be merely a taste of things to come.

Friday's New York Times contains a stunning dispatch from France where a thousand high schools were in turmoil as the general strike stretched into its fourth day:

Images of French Students Protesting

"There was little sign of a softening by unions protesting planned pension reforms in France on Friday as industrial action and demonstrations moved into a fourth day, intensifying fears about fuel supplies as strikers continued to target the fuel industry."

. . .

"Production at the country’s 12 crude refineries remained stalled by striking workers and the situation at oil storage depots away from the refineries was tense as police ordered the blockades lifted at several."

. . .

"Meanwhile, the mobilization of students against the reforms appeared to intensify on Thursday, when hundreds of high schools were blocked or disrupted, according to the Education Ministry. A students’ union, the Union nationale lycéenne, put the figure at more than 1,000."

"There were confrontations between police officers and students at a number of locations on Thursday, leading to dozens of arrests, including for throwing objects at the police, according to news reports."

"The union has called on its members for a massive mobilization Saturday."

And in the days since, the situation has only grown more tense. The blockade of fuel continues to be the most effective leverage point. Flights into France are being cut by as much as 50% due to lack of fuel and fears of strike activity. Meanwhile, at least 1,500 of the country's 12,500 gas stations have run out of fuel as well.

The government of France continues to push forward with their plans while the people vow to intensify their strike. According to one political commentator quoted in Monday's New York Times, the President of France is on the brink of losing all political legitimacy. Polls indicate that 71% of the French population support or sympathize with the strikers.

The mainstream media does not say it, but these events are eerily reminiscent. In May 1968, France was paralyzed by a general strike in which students, workers, teachers and artists erected barricades, occupied buildings and issued calls for an anti-capitalist future. And… they almost won.

Could this be the beginnings of another 1968? And could the Carnivalesque Rebellion this November be the week it goes global?