Yellow anger, a personal passion

The scenes of violence observed in the processions, this Saturday 1er December, must be thought about. Of course, they are partly the result of extremist organizations, anarchists in pursuit of chimerical political goals but whose meaning is easily understood.

BOf course, also, thugs are joining the movement to do battle and scavenge products in devastated stores: greed and call for damage. But it seems that some of the yellow vests themselves wanted to do battle. And above all, anger is also expressed verbally.

The Reasons Of The Wrath

The reasons put forward (purchasing power, taxes) are doubled by reasons that are often more implicit around the gap between the rulers, but also the economic power, and those who think of themselves as the people or the citizens. This theme is expressed in the choice of sites targeted by the violence (Elysee, prefecture, banks, luxury stores, etc.).

People feel that they are being neglected, oppressed and dominated. Very largely active, their income does not allow them to access the means of their autonomy despite their exhaustion at work. This promise to be able to live on its income is no longer kept. To be able to lead his life as he pleased, to make his own choices, to engage in personal activities, that was the horizon. How to meet this standard of autonomy if the sharing of wealth does not allow it?

This is what the couples say who admit “not getting by” despite their work, or these young workers who cannot leave the family home for lack of sufficient or stable income.

Anger arises from this impossible equation which is experienced on a personal level since the notion of social class has disappeared from the imagination. The difficult living conditions are more a matter of personal experience than of a class condition.


Anger is not a new passion and religion has sought to regulate it by placing it among the deadly sins. The secularization of our society has made this mode of appeasement disappear.

Even more, our society of individuals who think of themselves as autonomous values ​​the personal relationship with oneself. The value of authenticity, the success of personal development, attention to oneself, listening to one's body, the founding character of feeling in the contemporary couple form so many traces of our way of thinking about ourselves.

Away from the frameworks that constrain us, we should listen to ourselves. Why stay with my husband when I find him unsatisfactory for so long? How can I continue to practice my profession in finance while I am thinking of happy sobriety? How can I resist the call of Johnny's latest album when it has occupied such a place in my life?

A social norm therefore recommends that we listen to our emotions. And the success of emoji or emoticons in personal exchanges (SMS or electronic messaging) is proof of this. In a thousand ways, personal feelings orient our lives by providing them with meanings that we each have to construct.

Because if we inherit certain references and values, they do not automatically qualify us personally. The value of freedom is received and shared, but it is a means more than an end. Teaching about WWII does not tell every student what to think about it on a personal level.

In this context, anger is not to be blamed because it is experienced as a moment of relating to oneself. I am even more myself because I am angry, as close as possible to the inner fire that animates and illuminates me. “I” is the very fuel of anger. This allows self-expression like the work for the artist. And, over the roadblocks or conversations on Facebook, individuals have the opportunity to meet alter egos with which to share and multiply the anger that remains experienced as personal.


The unions and political parties can no longer control this anger. They are suspected of instrumentalizing the movement or even of altering a point of view thought to be personal. Power is confronted with a people of individuals, some of whom experience self through anger.

Through sanctions, we must remember that "anger is a bad counselor" as ancient wisdom suggested. It is also necessary to enter into a process to open up perspectives, avenues of diversion. The lack of tangible signs of taking this anger into account is seen as a contempt not for the organization since there is none, but for each yellow vest, and this only fuels that feeling.

If it is necessary to oppose rational arguments to the impressions at the origin of the anger, it is even more necessary to express the taking into account of the way in which individuals experience their own situation. Impossible to achieve the first without the second. You have to be audible to be heard, contrary to what Hubert Védrine suggests.

For a pedagogy of the individual

Once the anger has subsided, lessons will have to be learned from this unprecedented movement. On the political side, the crisis of representation deeply affects the way in which individuals define themselves. Their demand for autonomy (from "Sovereignty over oneself") erases the a priori legitimacy of intermediaries.

It is not surprising that appear in the first demands of the group of "free yellow vests", theestablishment of a referendum. Other avenues should be explored, including the constitution of assemblies resulting from the drawing of lots on the electoral lists.

From the point of view of the citizens also it will be necessary to initiate a pedagogy of the individual. Everyone's claim to build themselves up is a formidable source of liberation for contemporary individuals. We have the chance to live in this society which opens up so many possibilities to everyone, so far from the rigid frameworks of the corseted societies of the past.

But this freedom cannot be without limits. It supposes taking into account participation in a community and attention to others. How to bring together individuals who think they are autonomous in a finite world? It is up to us to answer this dizzying question, each and every one.The Conversation

Claude Poissenot, Teacher-researcher at IUT Nancy-Charlemagne and at the Center for Research on Mediations (CREM), University of Lorraine

This article is republished from The Conversation under Creative Commons license. Read theoriginal article.

Image Credit: Alexandros Michailidis /

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