From Yellow Vests to Grey Wolves: Insurrection in France

“Couper la tête du roi!”

“Cut off the king’s head” is a common chant heard by the weekly protesters in France, squarely aimed at President Macron.

The fascinating thing is that the Yellow Vests have no real leaders, or common ideology or politics. They’re middle and lower class people who are struggling to keep up with ever-increasing cost of living, including taxation, the highest in the developed world. They blame the elites in Paris and the other European capitals whose priorities are climate change, massive immigration, globalization, and abandoning France’s common culture and history.

“It was the end of the month. To a man and woman the Yellow Vest protesters of Guéret said their accounts were tapped out. ‘Right now, I’m at zero,’ Mr. Girardin said. His wife had done the shopping with 40 euros the day before, a Wednesday. Now there was nothing left to get them through the weekend. ‘You get to the end of the month, there’s nothing,’ he said. That is why Mr. Macron’s plans to raise the gasoline tax, modest an increment as it may seem, was the final straw for so many, the spark that finally set off a seething rage that has been building for years.’ (link)

The protests have spread to dozens of cities across Europe. The common denominator is economic disparity. the wealth gap has been growing in Europe and may have reached critical mass. Macron had eliminated the special tax on the wealthy and appears to have no intention of reinstating it.

As these protests continue, economic growth in France and the rest of Europe is beginning to slow down. If this continues a recession will follow and the economy will contract, people will lose jobs and their economic hardship will worsen. If the protests, which have included a fair amount of violence (over 4,500 arrests in France), originated with European economies in stable shape, what will they look like as the economies weaken.

Highly respected money manager Seth Klarman sent a much talked-about warning letter to the world leaders when they recently met in Davos:

“As the post-World War II international order continued to erode, the markets ignored the longer-term implications of a more isolated America, a world increasingly adrift and global leadership up for grabs. …Social frictions remain a challenge for democracies around the world, and we wonder when investors might take more notice of this.”

The era of the Grey Wolf, which follows the present era, is described by St. Hildegard as a time of extreme civil violence resulting from economic disparity. She portrays it as a period of class warfare and revolution (in another chapter she adds that it will include persecution of Christians). Her world was Latin Christendom, much of today’s western Europe:

“And the last is like a grey wolf; for those times will have people who plunder each other, robbing the powerful and the fortunate. …And they will divide and conquer the rulers of those realms”.†

Whether the Yellow Vests are an early manifestation of this coming era is impossible to say. But as noted, when a recession hits France and other European countries (one just started in Italy), the people who are protesting, and who have the support of the broader public, will find themselves and their families in worse condition than before.


Hildegard of Bingen: Scivias, translated by Columba Hart and Jane Bishop. The Abby of Regina Laudis: Benedictine Congregation Regina Laudis of the Strict Observance, Inc. Paulist Press, 1990, Book 3, Vision 11, chapter 6.

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