Die moralische Ökonomie und die Macht

Informed by historical interpretative models pertinent to 18th century rural revolts in Britain, Samuel Hayat’s contribution “Moral Economy and Power” offers a fresh and insightful take on the French Gilets Jaunes movement active in France since December 2018. Arguing against interpretations of the revolt as being spontaneous, he takes recourse to E. P. Thompson’s notion of a “moral economy” and identifies the 42 demands formulated by the movement as central tenets facilitating its ideological cohesion as a community of the dispossessed classes. By completely revoking the existing pact with the ruled, the rulers displayed their contempt and lack of understanding of the ruled’s needs. In response to that attack, a movement characterized by an exclusionary conception of community—regarding its aim to limit and control unfettered migration—has sprung up, questioning the old order and its forms of representation. This may only be the beginning of a new story, if we remember the Anzin colliers’ turn to anarcho-syndicalism in the 19th century, following unsuccessful “moral economy” revolts in the mining communities in the North of France.
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