Critical Mass and The Yellow Vest Unrest



by David Arthur Walters

France is in the grips of a sort of mass hysteria, a contagion spread by mass media, the factions of which accuse one another of engaging in false and fake news, the cause of which is really the confusion of opinions, a confusion that can only be cleared up by a perspicacious master who can get out ahead of the issues and lead instead of be led.

It is with that in mind that I consulted Richard Wilhelm’s translation of the Book of Changes (I Ching) as to the fate of the Yellow Vest Unrest, a social episode in France of tremendous import for the world since France is the source of many of its leading political ideas, not to mention the soft culture that is still ranked as most influential.

I left sorting the yarrow stalks to Chinese sages and tossed the coins in the easy Western fashion, which returned the 28th hexagram, Critical Mass (Ta Kuo), Preponderance of the Great, with lines changing in the third and fourth places. I sent along this reference to President Emmanuel Macron late last evening in hopes that he would consider it during the preparation of his widely anticipated speech today.

We see that the hexagram represents a sagging ridgepole that is so heavy in the middle and weak on the ends that it is about to break and bring the structure down.
Revolution, however, is not to be feared because the weight is on the center of gravity.

A great person can brace the ridgepole so the roof does not collapse. He can do so by taking responsibility and befriending people of the lower ranks, and acting quickly.

On the other hand, if a leader misuses his connections to obtain power and income, accepts no advice from others, and insists on plowing ahead instead of rescuing the whole people, his program will surely fail and he will be duly humiliated.

The Commentaries on this hexagram indicate that there is a want of nourishment without which the people cannot get ahead,

Now some pundits in France see a similarity in the French Revolution of 1789 to the Yellow Vest Unrest of 2018 because the middle class, particularly the lower middle class, are purportedly being starved by high taxes and benefit cuts.

One must nonetheless consult history to discover that the starvation was far less metaphorical in the years of drought and deprivation before the 1789 revolt led by the Middle Class and dissident nobles. The dearth then was such that people were eating bread spoiled black, bread often filled with bone meal from bones dug up at the cemeteries.

Today, although we do not deny that many people are squeezed by inappropriate economic policies based on the natural greed of the bulging belly bourgeoisie (BBB). we cannot help noticing that many people who have taken off work, or who are supported by unemployment benefits to wear yellow vests, are overweight.

One advantage, and it has it drawbacks, of the parliamentary system is that the government can be changed when confidence is lost in it. The structure itself would remain.

President Macron’s party has the strength between right and left ends, the strength referred to in the Book of Changes. Yet he and his government is vulnerable. He may even choose to resign.

Mister President is cast as the devil already. But who will replace him? Would you replace him? What would you do? Would you again vote for other representatives and a president with high hopes that things would change, when they have not changed before?

The ridgepole has been sagging for decades, so now we have a crisis. Should we burn down our own house? Should we write a new constitution, and call our country the Sixth Republic? Or should it be the First Democracy of France?

History provides us with some guidelines. The commentary to the Ta Kuo hexagram puts it into context with this Sequence:

“Without provision of nourishment one cannot move; hence there follows the hexagram of Preponderance of the Great.”

Here we have the main issue the lack of nourishment. But bread is not the only kind of food, although we might consecrate it so that it embodies the spirit of humankind associated with love and the ability to reason on experience and pass wisdom down through the generations.

No, we may be down to using one light bulb to save on electricity, but our bread is not black, we are not grinding the bones of our ancestors up or using sawdust to make our bread fill our bellies. What we may want in this predicament is spiritual sustenance, and the French do have a romantic reputation for spiritual progress. Where are they?

Hexagram 28 represents wood under the lake, gentleness under joy. The Commentary speculates on the ancient source of the symbolic meaning of the wood.

People used to cover up the dead with brush and leave them to decompose. Eventually they used the wood to build coffins for the dead, and they created definite rituals honoring ancestors, including leaving food out for them. This is the beginning of what we call history, and our history if nothing else is the history of the spiritual progress of civilization. Feed the hungry spirit and you shall have plenty of food for the stomach.

We must engage in the great conversation, sort out the confusion of ideas, and select the best ones to approach the realization of our highest ideals, those which are inclusive of the best possible outcomes. They will not be achieved overnight. Yet immediate steps must be taken or we shall get nowhere.

The changing lines of Hexagram 28 leave us with Hexagram 29, K’an. That is the future. Think upon it


Miami Beach 9 December 2018

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