The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

France:
Let the Workers Express Their Own Interests!

Nov 14, 2016

In France, the campaign for the April presidential election is well under way. The right-wing candidate will be chosen at the end of this month from seven competitors, each more reactionary and anti-worker than the next. The left-wing candidate will be chosen in January. It might be a former minister, or even Hollande himself (the current French president), but all the possible candidates have solid records of anti-worker policies. Jean-Luc Melanchon is the head of the Left Party. He hopes to win the presidency by gathering behind him all the people disappointed and angry at the government. He pretends to be anti-establishment, but he speaks in crass nationalist language.

On November 8, Melanchon and Hollande both spoke at the “Forum of the Maritime Industries.” Below is an excerpt from the newspaper Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle) which shows that the workers have nothing good to expect from any of these people.

To “the millions of women and men” directly involved in industries related to the ocean, Hollande talked about increasing the activity of the ports, of the shipyards, and of developing fishing, pledging to “help their development and their shareholders.” Nonetheless, Melanchon criticized Hollande’s “lack of consciousness of the national interest.” According to him, the worst of Hollande’s crimes was “to have authorized the sale of Adwen, a subsidiary of Areva for offshore wind energy, to the German company Siemens and the Spanish company Gamesa. Two French technological successes....” But in this case, where are the interests of the workers? Those who ensure, thanks to their work, the fortunes of their respective bosses, be they French, Korean, German, or Spanish?

This incident illustrates the common framework of the candidates of the main parties, from the far right to the left of the left: they compete to be the best representative of “French industry.” They thus promote the idea that the workers share the same interests as the bosses, all of them in the same boat of the “national economy.”

No! The exploited, wage earners, unemployed, young or retired have never gained anything from the good fortune of the bosses and the shareholders. To defend “national interests,” “France,” all the social classes together, can mean only to defend the rich.

During this crisis, in the midst of the competition between the big countries, companies build up and secure profit first of all on the backs of their workers, and second by plundering public money, which the population pays for in every possible way. The workers can put an end to this vicious cycle only by becoming conscious of their own interests, which are opposed to those of their exploiters, and by carrying out a fight to make the exploiters pay for the well being of the working population.

In the coming election, another voice must be heard, a voice expressing the interests of the women and men who create all the wealth, the working class. This is why Lutte Ouvrière’s candidate Nathalie Arthaud is running: to have the workers’ side be heard.

Each vote for her will assert that there are women and men still eager to defend the interests of their class and who are proud to be class-conscious workers. It will express the idea that the working class is the only force that can oppose the war carried out by the capitalists and stop the backwards march that their rule imposes on the whole society.