The Spark

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

French Presidential Campaign:
Nathalie Arthaud for Lutte Ouvrière

Apr 16, 2012

The comrades of Lutte Ouvrière, a revolutionary communist workers organization in France, are presenting a candidate, Nathalie Arthaud, in the French presidential election due to take place on April 22. Given the control that money has over elections, Lutte Ouvrière knows their candidate won’t win or even do very well. But their goal is to give a voice to all those workers who would otherwise not have anyone to speak for them in this election, and to present a program for the struggles the working class will carry out in the future.

We reprint part of a television address from the three and a half minutes Nathalie Arthaud was given on national TV in France.

I address myself to working women and men, as Arlette Laguiller did in the past, when she represented Lutte Ouvrière in previous presidential elections.

I address myself to all the exploited, workers, employees and technicians, who make the entire economy run, but in return receive only a pitiful wage, while the rich parasites, the big stock owners and speculators amass fortunes, while bringing nothing to the community.

I address myself to all those whose activity is useful to society, hospital personnel and those in education, researchers, but also small peasants, storekeepers and artisans, who exploit no one but themselves.

They talk to us about “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,” but in a society where everything is bought and sold, to be really free, you have to be rich. What is equality and justice, when some have to spend their lives at work to survive, while those with capital pocket billions from exploiting us? What is the place for fraternity in this capitalist system, where the only thing that counts is profitability and gain?

Unemployment exploded during the past five years and casual jobs, that are temporary and poorly paid, have multiplied. Yet stock owners’ dividends have been preserved and are guaranteed. It’s even better for the stockholders of the CAC 40 (the 40 biggest companies), whose dividends are up 31%. While wages stagnate and purchasing power falls sharply, the compensation of the big bosses has increased by 34%.

The capitalist class takes advantage of its absolute power over the economy to make working people pay for the crisis, in order to safeguard its own income and profits.

The bosses use unemployment like a weapon against the workers, exercising a permanent blackmail to make them accept wage freezes, flexibility, the lack of job security and speedup. The first battle must be against unemployment and layoffs.

The workers don’t need to agree to pay for the failures of an economy from which they have never profited.

In this campaign, I want to say to the workers, that although each of us individually is disarmed in front of the power of money, collectively we can react and change our situation.

Lutte Ouvrière explained the interest of voting for her in the following way:

Voting for Nathalie Arthaud is a way to show we don’t believe in bogus electoral programs and in promises that are never kept. We know that if the workers want to get anything, they must struggle. And their struggle has to be powerful enough to change the relation of forces between workers and the capitalist class and its government.

By voting for Nathalie Arthaud, we declare that we’re for a program of struggle, whose execution doesn’t depend on who is installed in the Élysée [the presidential mansion], but on the collective, conscious actions of the entire working class.

Voting for Nathalie Arthaud shows that we are in agreement with the program, which she has promoted throughout the campaign:

  • Prohibit layoffs. Divide the work among everyone without pay cuts and create a sufficient number of useful jobs in public services.
  • A general increase in wages, pensions and benefits, and their automatic increase with each increase in prices.
  • Impose control by workers, consumers and the population on all companies, forcing the bosses to reveal their accounting, to show how much of their profits goes to the stock owners and to speculation; force the bosses to reveal their layoff plans in advance, giving workers and the population affected by them time to react.