The Spark

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

With European Elections Done, Build Working Class Power

Jun 10, 2019

The following is an editorial that appeared in the May 19, 2019 workplace newsletters of Lutte Ouvrière, the French revolutionary workers group of that name.

In the European Parliamentary elections, everything was done to convince voters that they had no alternative but to vote either for Macron, the bankers' representative, or for Le Pen, the far-right millionaire. The score of the LR list (Les Républicains) was low, as a large part of right-wing voters now vote unhesitatingly for Hollande’s former minister, Macron, who is pursuing an anti-worker policy that fully satisfies them.

To some extent, the ecologists' higher-than-expected results reflect legitimate concerns for the future of the planet. But when environmental protection fails to question the functioning of the economy, it can only capitulate to the interests of the major capitalist groups. So far, ecologist ministers have been mere alibis for French governments which are first and foremost concerned about the profits of Total (a multinational oil and gas company) and other polluters of the environment.

Most workers, whether they have a job, are looking for a job, or are retired, showed little interest in the election. In many working-class districts, working people abstained and immigrant workers didn’t vote because they are deprived of the right to vote despite the fact that they live and pay taxes here.

The whole political system was perceived for what it is: a farce in which the capitalists are sure to remain in control, whatever party wins in the polls. And it is even more obvious in the case of the European Parliament, the purpose of which remains unclear.

There was a time when the political alternation between the right and the left worked. That was when the left wing was still historically linked to the labor movement and it attracted the sympathy of the working classes. But over time it has stood up for the existing institutions, explaining to workers that they could change their fate by voting. Today, after years in power, the left is totally discredited. As for Le Pen's RN, its electoral results are on the rise, as are the results of other xenophobic political movements which favor authoritarian regimes, in Italy, Hungary and Belgium.

Faced with this situation, some politicians have the ambition to rebuild the left, to return to government and manage the capitalists' affairs, as Hollande and others have done.

This is not the way to oppose the extreme right and its reactionary policy. What needs to be rebuilt is not the governmental left but a workers' party that really does defend the interests of labor.

The capitalists are waging a social war. Following in the footsteps of Sarkozy and Hollande, for two years Macron has orchestrated their attacks. And more attacks are already planned against pensioners and the unemployed. When we talk about “working people” and their interests, we describe a social reality. A reality that could be the basis of a conscious political choice. In order to defend their interests, working people must wage the class struggle.

However modest the results of Lutte Ouvrière may be, with 176,433 votes, they confirm the existence of a political current that maintains the revolutionary tradition of internationalism against the rise of nationalism and xenophobia. Reinforcing this current and giving it the strength to intervene in the class struggle is essential in a period marked by the offensive of the capitalist class. It is essential to build a party that truly represents the interests of workers and won’t sell them off for a few government seats.

Today, society is ravaged by the economic crisis and poverty. It is under the threat of wars and environmental disasters. The greed of the bourgeoisie, the class that rules the world, makes it incapable of responding to the problems facing humanity. The functioning of capitalism requires constantly strengthening and perpetuating the exploitation and oppression of the proletariat. Sooner or later, this oppression will lead to revolts which will empower the working class to put an end to the domination of big capital.

Working people have the strength to do it. But they lack the awareness of their phenomenal abilities. This awareness must be embodied in a party whose objective is to lead social revolution. In other words, a revolutionary communist party. The future of the working class, of the whole of humanity even, depends on it.