The Spark

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

France:
Only Struggle Makes Them Retreat

Oct 11, 2010

The following was an editorial in the October 8 issue of Lutte Ouvri re (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France, about the recent one-day general strikes and demonstrations.

The demonstrations of Sunday, October 3rd mobilized at least as many demonstrators as the two that came before. But this time families could come out as well as workers not ready to go on strike. And these demonstrations prepared for the next strike, planned for Tuesday, October 12.

The demonstrations continue to enjoy a wide sympathy from the population, which does not seem opposed to workers in struggle. And that counts for something.

It is becoming more and more obvious that the attack against Social Security pensions prepares the way for other attacks. The government is beginning to lay its cards on the table. The coming “austerity” budget will continue sharp cuts in public services used by the population: hospitals, schools, public transit. It will lead to job layoffs. Even officials in hospitals denounce the terrible shape of their services, due to lack of money and personnel. Hospitals and neighborhood maternity clinics are closing one after another.

A decline in public services is already an attack on the living conditions of the majority, who don’t have the money to pay for private clinics or to send their children to private schools.

The government makes propaganda about the deficit of the national health insurance fund – to prepare for an increase from workers’ paychecks and a cut in services paid for. And these policies are added to the exploitation in the workplace. The bosses continue to reduce the number of workers, forcing more work to be done by fewer workers, changing work schedules at the workers’ expense and stopping any wage increases.

It’s necessary to stop them. Without a powerful burst of energy from the working class, those who rule us will continue to attack us, worsening our situation.

The state is in debt up to its neck to save the capitalist economy, that is, the incomes of the capitalists. Every day the French state borrows the staggering sum of 1.4 billion dollars to meet its expenses, including paying for the loans to bankers, who get colossal sums of interest. The state goes further into debt to aid the bankers and the bosses of the big corporations. Why aren’t they the ones paying back these loans?

The tax system lets billionaire Madame Bettencourt pay a tax rate similar to the middle class. The top 40 companies on the stock exchange pay on average 8% of their profits in taxes. Meanwhile small and medium business pays 30%. The tax rates always protect the rich. Most of government’s income comes from the sales tax on working class consumption. The government refuses to make the rich pay, but then says that Social Security pensions should be reduced. The Social Security fund is drained by letting the bosses avoid the payroll tax.

The next presidential and legislative elections will NOT change the policy that serves the capitalist class. No matter who becomes president or prime minister, the economy will still serve the same big bosses, the same bankers, the same big stockholders as today. They will impose the same policy, which corresponds to their interests, even if it devastates the living conditions of the great majority of the population.

The big bosses, who exercise the real power in this country, fear neither ministers nor legislators. They fear only an explosion from the working class. When the rich and their servants hear the anger rumbling down below, they might begin to pay attention.