The Spark

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

France:
The Fights We’re Waiting for

May 22, 2017

The following article was translated from Lutte Ouvrière, the newspaper of the revolutionary workers group active in France.

Emmanuel Macron named a right-wing politician, Édouard Philippe, as Prime Minister of France. He was Mayor of le Havre and a loyal lieutenant of Alain Juppé, who many workers have good reason to remember. In 1995 under Prime Minister Chirac he attacked retirements and health care – but he was pushed back by a massive mobilization of strikes and demonstrations.

Until now, the right and the left have handed power back and forth in order to carry out the anti-worker policies demanded by the big bosses. This time, they’re doing it together. Édouard Philippe will implement the policies announced by Emmanuel Macron. They want to demolish the laws that give some protection to workers, and give the bosses a free hand to lay off, fire workers, and close factories. And they want to lay off 120,000 government workers.

With the help of the government, the big companies are accelerating the social war against the working class, with the same recipe every time: intensify work for some, and get rid of others, all to increase dividends. Vivarte, Tati, Mim, Whirlpool and GM&S Industry are the latest examples of this policy. GM&S Industry is particularly revealing. PSA and Renault, who give orders to this auto subcontractor, planned the death of this factory with 300 workers in la Creuse. Renault and PSA made record profits last year: 3.9 billion dollars for one and 2.4 billion for the other. And we can be sure that, with the end of the election, other plant closures and other “competivity plans” will be revealed.

This is the context for the legislative elections. Because of the deep discredit of the Socialist Party and the right wing parties, all the political leaders are playing a comedy of reinventing themselves. It is impossible to know in advance who among the Macronists, the right, the National Front, or La France Insoumise (Unruly France) will come out on top in this political realignment. But it is certain that the new majority will be at the service of the rich and that no parliamentary opposition will represent the interests of the working class.

Workers can only count on the opposition that will be born out of their struggles. But only if that opposition is based on their class, corresponding to the interests of the exploited, and not based on reactionary illusions. Struggles based on ideas like protectionism that only protect the bosses here, or blame part of the working class, can only divide the camp of the exploited, and demoralize and weaken it.

The National Front of Marine Le Pen, which a large number of workers voted for, is the main peddler of these poisonous ideas. It wants to make immigrant workers scapegoats. And under the pretext of defending French business, that is to say French capitalists, it points a finger at workers in other countries. But the National Front has no monopoly on nationalist demagogy. And these ideas are just as toxic when they are peddled by the French Communist Party or by Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

The power of the workers rests in their consciousness of their common interests against the capitalist class. In making the side of the workers be heard, Nathalie Arthaud raised the flag of this class consciousness in the presidential election. In the legislative election, Lutte Ouvrière is running candidates in all the districts of mainland France and in Réunion (an island controlled by France), and in Guadeloupe and Martinique, where we are running candidates with the organization Combat Ouvrier.

All of these candidates are workers, women and men. Our candidates let those who recognized their interests in Nathalie Arthaud’s presidential election register their vote. They also let those who were touched by what Nathalie Arthaud said, but who wanted to make a “useful” vote, to not turn their backs on their first choice and to vote for their own side.

To make the needs of the workers heard once again in the legislative elections, to show the persistence of the current that we represent, this is the best way to prepare to defend ourselves in the fights of tomorrow.