“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx
Jun 9, 2014
This is the editorial from the May 30th issue of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France. France just held a vote for delegates to the European Parliament. The Socialist Party, which runs the Parliament and includes the President of France, got only 13.98%. The conservative party, the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), which held power before the Socialists, got 20.80%. Coming in first was the National Front with 24.85%. This party is openly anti-immigrant and anti-foreigner. Lutte Ouvrière received 1.17% of the vote, with 222,491 voters.
The National Front is far ahead in the election results, and the Socialist Party is at lowest level in decades. This was accompanied by a very high abstention rate. These are the important elements in the election for the European Parliament.
As in the municipal elections, the Socialist Party was rejected by its usual voters. It is paying the price for its policy, which is totally dedicated to favoring the interests of the corporations and bankers, by increasing measures worsening the conditions of the working classes.
The National Front succeeded in diverting to its profit the disgust aroused by the Socialist Party. Marine Le Pen triumphantly announced that this meant the end of the two party system – that is to say, the left and right succeeding each other in power.
If this comes true, it will only mean the fraud of the back and forth in power between the UMP and the Socialist Party will be replaced by that of three parties.
But however they combine, those in power will carry out a policy in the interests of the wealthy, the big industrial, commercial and bank corporations who hold the true power.
The National Front, like the other two parties, represents a policy for the bourgeoisie, but with still more brutal methods and by pushing reactionary, retrograde, anti-foreign and racist ideas. Further, there is the threat that even the simple reinforcement of the National Front on the electoral plane will encourage an anti-worker influence not content with voting, but ready to pass to acts, first against immigrant workers and then against workers, period.
How have we arrived at this point? Right off, there is the crushing responsibility of the Socialist Party, and the despair and loss of bearings that this has given rise to among the working classes.
But there is the more general responsibility of the big parties that came out of the workers’ movement. Over time, they completely sacrificed the interests of the working class to come to governmental power, where they could lead no other policy than that of the big bourgeoisie.
If the National Front became the outlet for the discontent in the working classes, it is because there is no longer in front of them parties which represent the interests of the exploited.
It is in this context that the results of Lutte Ouvrière, as modest as they are, preserve a political perspective for the workers. They confirm the presence of a political current which used the two elections of this year to reject the false choices between parties which are their oppressors. They express the conviction that the exploited, those who have neither capital nor rent and only their labor to live, can constitute a political force opposed to the parties of the bourgeoisie.
This force will only really weigh on political life when the working class finds once again its combativeness and its means of struggle: strikes, demonstrations and collective action.
The thousands and men and women who voted for our lists of candidates acted to express their approval of the objectives that must be imposed by struggle to prevent working people from falling into unemployment and poverty. They represent a minority, but a minority that is conscious that the fights to come must clearly oppose the collective fight of the workers to the big bourgeoisie and the government that serves it. This is the first condition for this struggle to be effective.
Those who voted for Lutte Ouvrière raised a flag, that of the revolutionary tradition of the workers’ movement. The main task in the period to come is to reinforce this current, give it the force to intervene in the daily class struggle, on the job and in workers’ neighborhoods. This is the only way to oppose the rise of reactionary forces that are threatening to engulf society.
Finally, it is this current which can give rise to a true communist party capable of acting so that the working class seizes from the capitalists the power over the economy and politics, creating a society without exploitation or oppression.
That may seem utopian after the success shown by the National Front, further emphasized by the disappointment of the other parties and by the commentators. But this is the only way for workers.