Christopher Caldwell documents Old World turmoil for the Spectator.

What is going on now is rather like the reverse of what happened in 1968 when Charles de Gaulle summoned la France profonde to resist a revolution that began in Paris. But the yellow-vest movement is one of class, not geography. It is run by people remote from the global economy’s supply chains and the places those who control them congregate. Chic Montpellier and high-tech Toulouse are not, in this sense, remote, any more than Oxford and Cambridge are. A reliable journalist’s rule for finding populists is that any place you’d go for a holiday or a meal is probably not the place to look.

A Parisian friend describes her parents’ centuries-old village, charming and cosy 25 years ago, today stripped of its post office and all its shops except one crummy boulangerie, and abandoned by all but a handful of geriatrics. The major recreation for these old people is to drive 10km to the nearest motorway exit to drink a hot chocolate at a Carrefour.

It was not the yellow-vest marchers who did this to small-town Europe. Nor have they been responsible for most of the mayhem in Paris, despite the assiduous efforts of politicians to link them to it: that has been the work of opportunistic anti-globalist radicals and youth from the suburban housing projects.