For a workers and popular government in France
By Federico Méndez- New PST of Argentina and La Marx International 04/29/2023.
At the end of 2018, in France, the increase in the fuel tax caused the outbreak of the Yellow Vests protest movement . The movement presented itself as spontaneous, horizontal and directionless. Massive demonstrations every Saturday, blockades of roundabouts, calls through social networks and the request for the resignation of President Emmanuel Macron . Today, five years later, with the pension reform law , the same president is once again facing the same ghosts, a spectacular protest movement that, due to its intensity, is already the largest in the last 40 years.
But this new movement is not only superior in quantity, but also, and above all, in quality. Its social base springs from the factories, from poor students, from lower-class homes, from the heart of the working class . And it is organized with its methods, the assemblies , and with one of its main institutions, the unions . A new movement that openly questions capitalism and its institutions, that encompasses all generations and that, unlike the yellow vests, has the real capacity to mobilize and completely stop the country. Sometimes organized, sometimes spontaneous, it can be put into action any day of the month and extend for days and weeks. Because of its remarkable superiority,It will not take long for it to spread to the whole of Europe, just as it did with the Yellow Vest movement .
This report is a continuation of a previous one: "The French working people lead the way" , from 03/06/23 . In that one we explained what the pension reform law is about and we stressed the importance of the call for the sixth day of strike for March 7. So we are going to take that great mobilization as a starting point to explain the development of events up to the present day (Today we are on the twelfth day). We are going to take what, in our opinion, are the most important points, without delving into technicalities linked to bourgeois institutions (such as motions of censure ), to throw ourselves fully into the struggle of the working class, since todaythe real fight is in the streets . A true triumph can only come from the daily struggle of the working class and the French people, nothing can be expected from sold-out congressmen (from the left and from the right), nor from the bureaucratic leadership of the unions that are doing the impossible to carry this fight towards defeat.
A long journey of struggles until Labor Day
The largest mobilization in the last 40 years
On Tuesday, March 7, the sixth and, at that time, the largest protest was registered , with roadblocks and refineries. This first mobilization of the month opened a new stage where the common slogan of the unions is to "paralyze the country" this means (according to Philippe Martínez, who was the leader of the CGT at that time) disturbances in transport, in electricity, in gas, garbage collection, but also "strikes in the private sector." In public transport, the SNCF paralyzed 80% of high-speed trains (TGV) and practically all long-range conventional trains.
According to the CGT, a total of 3.5 million people (1.28 million people, according to the government) participated in what was the largest protest against social reform in three decades . This number of people was slightly higher than the mobilization of January 31 , when 1.27 million people were mobilized (according to the police) and 2.8 according to the CGT. The main unions claimed this protest as their biggest mobilization in 40 years .
However, the number of public sector strikers was lower than at its inception in January. In the state administration, a quarter of the workforce joined, compared to 28% on January 19; in the state energy company EDF they were 41.5% compared to 44.5% on that same January 19. In education, according to the Ministry of Education, 32.71% of primary and secondary teachers were unemployed.
In the railway sector, two thirds of high-speed trains (TGV), 60% of regional trains and 80% in the vicinity of Paris were cancelled; strikes by air traffic controllers forced the cancellation of 20% of the flights at Charles de Gaulle and 30% at Orly and similar at the other airports in France. In the main communication nodes there were blockades by truckers. Production was reduced at the refineries and three of the four regasification units remained stopped, preventing the entry of liquefied gas by ship.
Iconic was the strike by cleaning workers as the "lovely" Parisian streets were littered with rubbish; some people could not enter their houses because of the mountains of garbage to which rats and odors added. At the beginning of this measure (which continued for two weeks) some 1800 tons of garbage were estimated in Paris alone.
There are countless actions to fight, and although it is impossible for us to name them all in this report, we want to highlight the one that occurred on Thursday, March 9, when employees of the electricity sector left the Olympic village without electricity (Paris will host the Olympic Games in 2024 ), the neighborhood at the level of the shopping area, the data centers and also the Stade de France in Saint-Denis. This action also affected the gas supply. About 300 workers were present for this action. Some of them hooded and with smoke flares to hide those who cut off the current from the security cameras.
"Women are the big losers of this reform as their careers are often discontinuous"
The unions also supported the mobilizations called for the International Day of Working Women and on Thursday called by the students, two sectors that are considered more affected by the reform. "Women are the big losers from this reform as their careers are often discontinuous ," said Odile Deverne, a 60-year-old teacher and trade unionist in Lille on March 8.
Despite all this, the strikes did not achieve their objective of completely paralyzing the country
The seventh and eighth days
On Saturday, March 11, the workers again took to the streets en masse in what would be the seventh consecutive day . One million French took to the streets, of which 300,000 would be in Paris alone, according to the authorities.
The initiative was led by the unions with the CGT at the helm. That same day, and regardless of the magnitude of the protests of the last week, the Senate approved the reform proposed by the French Executive , which was continuing its course towards the National Assembly. The decision of the upper house was given after the positive vote of 195 members against 112 against.
"An important step has been taken. We are totally committed to allowing a definitive adoption in the next few days ," declared Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne after having lent herself to the celebrations and almost as a provocation for the millions of French mobilized.
On Wednesday, March 15, the eighth day of protests took place. The figures gave 480,000 demonstrators throughout France according to the Ministry of the Interior, against 1.7 million according to the CGT.
Dock workers, oil refinery workers, teachers and train drivers joined the sanitation workers who were on their tenth day of strike. Paris was awash in stale garbage that some protesters used to throw at police and start fires.
About 40% of high-speed trains and half of regional trains were canceled and 20% of Paris-Orly airport flights were cancelled.
"Macron is out of touch and in bed with the rich. It's easy for people in government to say 'work harder' but their lives have been easy."
In the streets of Paris union balloons were unfurled with loud music and banners reading "Paris enraged" , "They say capitalism. We say fight" , "If you don't defend your rights, you trample them" . "If we don't speak up now, all our rights that the French have fought for will be lost," "Macron is out of touch and in bed with the rich. It's easy for people in government to say 'work harder' but their lives have been easy," said Nicolas Durand, a 33-year-old actor.
Article 49.3 and a government with no way out
On Thursday, March 16, seeing that it did not have a guaranteed majority, the government decided not to submit the unpopular reform to a vote by the deputies in the National Assembly (lower house) and to approve the reform making use of the controversial article 49.3 . This article is a constitutional resource and works like a decree . After the Council of Ministers gave the go-ahead, Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne was in charge of announcing the activation of said mechanism. Now only the final ruling of the Constitutional Council was pending.
In our previous note we affirmed that this was a possibility, and, above all, that making use of it would deepen popular discontent . The use of this resource was already considered a failure by bourgeois analysts: the liberal newspaper L'Opinion considered that resorting to article 49.3 "would reinforce the image of 'brutality' of their power and would fuel the total crisis" . This only confirms that the government is going all or nothing and that it is in "direct confrontation" with the masses.
While the self-sufficient left-wing opposition kept up appearances by singing the Marseillaise (French national anthem), holding signs that read "64 years is no" and shouting at Borne, the workers and the people prepared to take to the streets. The next day spontaneous mobilizations broke out throughout the country.
These new protests (after article 49.3) mark a new step in the struggle since they are organized outside the parties and unions and are much more violent .
In Rennes, Albi, Marseille or Paris, the demonstrators tried to attack official buildings and representative offices of macronista politicians. In Paris there were scenes of barricades and fires with the mountains of garbage that accumulated from the collectors' strike. Thousands of people, most of them young people, demonstrated in the Plaza de la Concordia, without the umbrella of the parties or trade unions .
The real fight took place in the streets and not in the National Assembly where the opposition legislators rushed to raise "timid" motions of no confidence . The French working people are clear that victory passes through their own hands and does not expect anything from "bourgeois institutions."
The unions, for their part, called to multiply the protest actions and called for what would be the ninth day of strikes .
The sharpening of the protests and the emergence of spontaneous demonstrations
In the days following Decree 49.3 , spontaneous demonstrations took place in various cities of the country, with a large presence of young people and a notable growth in violent actions.
On Tuesday the 21st, the police announced the arrest of 234 people in Paris. In turn, Elisabeth Borne announced the government's solidarity with the 400 police officers injured in recent days. For the interior minister, Gérald Darmanin , there is a before and after 49.3: "The opposition is legitimate, the demonstrations are legitimate, the disorder is not", and he warned that the government will not allow the appearance of "spontaneous demonstrations". . But despite this, the number of protesters increased significantly. He also indicated that since last the 16th there have been attacks on 128 public buildings, the vandalization of 114 parliamentary offices and 2,200 voluntary arson events .
The struggle extends to all areas. On the eve of the tenth day, workers at the iconic Louvre Museum in Paris joined the protests by blocking the entrance, prompting the announcement of its temporary closure. The entertainment, media and culture branch of the CGT union tweeted an image of the aging Mona Lisa with a wrinkled face, accompanied by the caption: "64 No!".
In key sectors such as transportation, refineries, power plants, education, and collection services, the strike continued, while the unions called for more protest actions and called for what would be the ninth day of strikes , to Thursday the 23rd.
"If it is necessary to support the unpopularity behind today, I will support it", "I do not seek to be re-elected, but between the temporary elections and the general interest of the country, I choose the general interest of the country"
For its part, the government passed two timid motions of censure presented by the opposition and Macron appeared before the cameras on Wednesday the 22nd for the first time after the "decree." His expected words only increased the hatred. "If it is necessary to support the unpopularity behind today, I will support it" , "I do not seek to be re-elected, but between the current elections and the general interest of the country, I choose the general interest of the country" , said the president and went further accusing of "seditious" to those who organize spontaneous protests and compared the demonstrations with the riots of the Capitol in the United States in 2021 and those of Brazil in January. His words made it clear that he is willing to go to the last consequences and that his government is a living corpse .
The ninth day marks a new record
On Thursday, March 23, the ninth day of protests took place , thousands of people gathered in the Plaza de la Concordia with the slogan "blockade the country" and the goal of overthrowing the government . The Minister of the Interior, Gerald Darmanin , announced the deployment of some 12,000 police officers, 5,000 of them in Paris. At the end of the day, the balance was 457 detainees and 441 injured policemen and gendarmes.
According to the unions, 3.5 million people (1,089 million according to the authorities) were mobilized throughout the country in 300 rallies. Of this total, 119,000 according to the authorities and 800,000 according to the CGT, corresponded to the capital, considering this as the largest attendance in the history of Paris .
Paralyzed refineries and cancellations of mass transportation. The interruption of supply to refineries raised concerns about fuel shortages for airports. Protesters blocked road access to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris; half of the TGV trains were cancelled; A fifth of school teachers did not show up for work, high schools and universities were blocked and the Eiffel Tower was even closed. And as if this were not enough, culture professionals joined in : at the Châtelet Theater in Paris, a group of protesters belonging to the National Federation of Spectacle, Cinema, Audiovisual and Action Unions interrupted the shows.
That same day the call for the tenth day was announced , coinciding with the visit of King Carlos III and the queen consort, Camila. This would be suspended and postponed due to the demonstrations.
A protester, wearing a mask representing French President Emmanuel Macron in Nice
Protesters, wearing CGT union vests, hold red flares during a demonstration in Nice on Thursday 23
Demonstrators attend a demonstration during the ninth day of nationwide strikes and protests against the French government's pension reform, in Nantes. The motto that shows the drawing of a skeleton reads long live retirement.
Dock workers stand before a burning barricade next to the port of Marseille, in southern France, Wednesday, March 22, 2023.
A true pitched battle
Parallel fights were added to spontaneity . On Tuesday the 25th, an environmental demonstration near Sainte-Soline against the construction of an agricultural dam and in defense of water turned into a real pitched battle . 25,000 demonstrators clashed with 3,200 security force agents. The strong repression left two protesters in a coma. Images that are in no way different from the street riots in Chile against the carabineros in 2019, tell us about the incredible intensification of the struggles. "While the country rises up to defend pensions, we will go in parallel to defend water ," said an environmental protester.
"While the country stands up to defend pensions, we will go in parallel to defend water"
The French people are giving a great lesson on how to unify the workers' struggles with the ecological struggles.
Environmentalist demonstration against the construction of a dam near Sainte-Soline
The main bet of the union bureaucracy and the government is the attrition
The tenth and last day of March (03/28/2023) had an attendance of 740,000 protesters according to the authorities and "more than two million" according to the CGT. "The feeling of injustice and of not being listened to feeds emotion" warned an Odoxa poll in which Macron and Borne lose popular support, to 30% and 28% respectively (the lowest level for Macron since the heyday of the Yellow Vests )
The eleventh day of Thursday (04/06/2023) and the twelfth of the following Thursday (04/13/2023) lost strength compared to the previous days, despite the fact that the workers' unions maintained that their objective was to maintain pressure on the Constitutional Council. On the last day, the strike in the key sectors of transport and energy had a smaller scope than the previous days, while collectors announced that they were resuming the strike. 20% of high-speed trains (TGV) were cancelled, 80% of long-distance trains, 40% of regional trains and 25% of lines bordering Paris.
However, there were countless signs of radicalization such as the new spontaneous mobilizations, the growth of the mobilization in the smallest and peripheral towns and cities, the increase in the number of young people, the attacks on the offices of businessmen and homes of politicians and the repudiation of billionaires and corporations .
But why, while the strike days announced by the inter-union were losing strength, did the signs of radicalization increase? We believe there are three main factors that may explain this:
- The first is that the union bureaucracy that directs the centrals that make up the inter-union (CGT + CFDT + FO + SUD + CFTC) tries to dilute the struggle by calling for many part-time shifts, avoiding concentrating force in a great general strike without a solution of continuity. stop the country completely. This leads to the rupture of broad sectors of the masses (especially the youth) who clearly see this moderate policy of the inter-union and hold it responsible for the fact that the government does not give in.
- The second factor is the fierce struggle that is taking place inside the centrals (which we will analyze later) between that bureaucracy and the bases that are increasingly radicalized (to the left) and that increasingly question the "lukewarmness" of their addresses. That is why its affiliates begin to carry out more and more "independent" actions, outside of their addresses.
- The third factor is that this anti-bureaucratic struggle is also taking place abroad: where the masses are increasingly radicalized and begin to act independently of the inter-union (we saw this in the increase in spontaneous actions). We believe that this is because the conciliatory and limited policy of the inter-union is beginning to make the masses impatient.
These three factors are promoting a situation of double power : on the one hand there is the power of the government and on the other the power of the bases of the unions and the masses that have taken to the streets surpassing the. In this scenario, the inter-union bureaucracy is the last card the government has left to contain the rise of the working class .
The French people thus remained awaiting the decision of the Constitutional Council , while the lukewarm opposition on the left presented a request for a referendum .
Heading to the first of May
Finally, on Saturday April 15, the Constitutional Council promulgated the pension reform law. Macron ignored the desperate cry of the union bureaucracy, for which the situation is getting out of control, and the enormous social discontent expressed in three months of mobilizations, the most powerful that France has had in more than 50 years, only surpassed by the French May.
The decision of the nine "wise men" occurred while the French were sleeping (despite the fact that they had 15 days to do so). This further enraged the French people who launched into street protests.
In response, the unions called for an "exceptional mobilization" for this May 1st, on International Workers' Day. In turn, they refused to meet with Emmanuel Macron until he suspends the reform. "No trade union organization will meet at any time with the Executive to discuss anything other than the withdrawal of the pension reform ," they declared.
The 100-day plan and a president who can no longer govern
Last Monday the 17th, in a speech for French television, Macron announced a 100-day plan to overcome the social and political crisis . Elisabeth Borne will be in charge of launching a plan of "three priority projects" as part of "a new working life pact". This seems to be a desperate plan by the French bourgeoisie to calm the waters, since the main employers in France (The Movement of French Companies (Medef), the Confederation of SMEs (CPME) and the Union of Local Companies) announced that they would They would meet with the president on Tuesday.
Thus began a cycle of visits to different parts of the country. However, the hatred of the French masses towards the president ranges from the main cities to the smallest town in France. Wherever he goes he is greeted by hundreds of angry people . And now the saucepans are added! : In response to the speech on Monday the 17th, there were more than 370 pan bangs in different parts of the country, mainly in the squares. In some cases the police have used tear gas to disperse their assistants.
During his visit to the city of Alsace on 04/19 (the first public incursion out of the capital since the promulgation of the law), Macron was booed to such an extent that he could not even speak. "We are here, we are here!", "Macron resigns!" protesters in the town of Sélestat sang to him . "We have never seen a president with a government as corrupt as yours. You will fall very soon, you'll see" said a protester ! While the entire opposition arc asks him to reverse the reform, the French people directly ask him for the resignation! In a factory in Muttersholtz the president was greeted with a saucepan, "pans will not help France to get ahead," Macron said between boos.
"We have never seen a president with a government as corrupt as yours. You will fall very soon, you'll see"
Macron's visit to Alsace
On April 20 Macron traveled to Ganges, in the south of France, to visit a secondary school and promote education policies. Upon his arrival he was greeted with a bang, booing and big eggs. The protesters chanted "We are here, we are here, even if Macron doesn't want it, we are here . " A police operation was deployed in the town to prevent protesters from approaching the school. They even used tear gas against those who tried to assault the protection fences. And to crown such an unpleasant visit, when he arrived at the school, they found that there was no electricity, since it was a protest action by the electric power workers.
Macron's visit to Ganges
Emmanuel Macron on his visit to a secondary school in Ganges, they were gathering in the courtyard as power workers had cut off their electricity supply.
Protesters in Ganges
That same day, a group of 200 to 300 protesters with union flags and red smoke flares filled the entrance to the offices of the Euronext stock exchange shouting "We are here, we are here, even if Macron doesn't want it, we are here " . Protesters stormed the offices saying that big business and billionaires must pay to fund pensions.
"The symbol of the stock market is the symbol of people who have no notion of money, it is the symbol of someone who plays with our lives by pressing buttons. It is the symbol of people who always put more in their pocket, without never redistribute ," said Fabien Villedieu, a Sud-Rail trade unionist.
We also want to add here an event that occurred prior to the announcement of the 100-day plan, but due to its characteristics it is one of the events that best explains how cornered the government is due to the mobilization and repudiation of the masses. It happened on April 11 in The Hague, where Macron was preparing to give a speech on "the future of Europe". This was interrupted by the shouts of protesters exclaiming "Where is French democracy?" and "The climate convention is not respected", also displaying a banner that read "President of violence and hypocrisy".
Macron is interrupted at an event in The Hague
As we can see, wherever he goes, inside or outside France, Macron is hated by the masses. The French people give us an admirable display of determination, they are willing to give them not the slightest chance to respite.
Union bureaucracy warns government
As we explained in our previous note, the union bureaucracy is overwhelmed by pressure from its rank and file. In addition, we explained that the historic union of the trade union centrals (CGT, CFDT, FO, SUD, CFTC) does not come from "above", from the goodwill of their leaderships, but from the enormous pressure that the worker bases are exerting . Unions, weakened in recent decades and with one of the lowest membership rates in developed countries, have come out of this crisis stronger. Despite this, the bureaucratic leaderships, moderate and submissive, are afraid that the social movement will surpass them and become radicalized. Let's see what their spokesmen say.
In a letter that the unions sent (in the week of the historic seventh day ) to Macron in which they ask him to listen and consult the people, they indicate that the "silence" of the Executive in this unruly climate can lead to " serious consequences" and an "explosive situation" . "For us, the unions, this lack of response represents a serious democratic problem and will lead to a situation that can become explosive ," reads the letter sent to the Élysée Palace.
"When there are millions of people in the streets, when there are strikes and all we get from the other side is silence, people ask: 'What else do we have to do to be heard?'" Philippe Martinez claimed - at that time leader of the CGT-. Laurent Berger , head of the moderate CFDT union , said: "I implore those who run this country to come out of this form of social movement denial . "
"For us, the unions, this lack of response represents a serious democratic problem and will lead to a situation that can become explosive ," reads the letter sent to the Élysée Palace.
The union bureaucracy is shaken by the protests
The leader of the CFDT union, Laurent Berger, and the former leader of the CGT, Philippe Martinez, during the demonstration against the pension reform (02/07/2023)
The enormous deepening of the struggles is reflected in all the institutions, mainly those of the working class. Let's look at the case of the two main workers' unions: the CGT and the CFDT .
At the end of March, the 53rd Congress of the CGT (created in 1895 and which for more than a century was directly linked to the French Communist Party) was held , which marked a turning point in the history of union organization. A struggle between the right wing and the left wing develops within it.
The battle for the pension reform has swept Philippe Martinez from the leadership, which since 2015 has embodied the most "combative" unionism accused of being soft. The management report of the outgoing management was rejected by 50.3% of the votes, something unprecedented in the union's history.
In the Martinez years the CGT lost influence and ceased to be the main union in France in favor of the CFDT.
With the exception of the fight against the "First Job Contract" in 2006, the CGT has only known defeats in the last 20 years. In the management report, the left wing of the CGT is blamed for this, avoiding all responsibility. But the problem is the extreme restraint imposed by management. In the Report they do not call, for example, a total strike that encompasses the key sectors of the economy , a fundamental condition to defeat the reform. The moderate program calls for "a different distribution of wealth... a more just society, respectful of the environment and a world at peace", at no time does it call for the overthrow of capitalism.
The left wing is getting stronger due to huge grassroots discontent as the left becomes more and more organized. Since 2019, a left-wing tendency has been developing, the Unité CGT, which defends the candidacy of Olivier Mateu (regional secretary of Bouches-du-Rhône).
The Unité CGT has a much more radical proposal, based on a "double task" that "requires working every day to improve the lives of workers (working hours, wages, working conditions, etc.) and, at the same time, link this struggle to the emancipation of the workers, through the expropriation of the capitalists" . In addition, it states that it is necessary to fight for the nationalization of several key sectors of the economy: "banking, transport, energy, the pharmaceutical industry and large industrial sectors" . In general terms, it is a revolutionary program since its main task is to destroy capitalism.
The new management, headed by Sophie Binet , does not differ much from the previous one. The General Secretary comes from the right wing of the CGT and she is the first woman in charge of the workers' union . Macronista deputy Marc Ferracci saw her as "good news for social dialogue" , Macronista deputy Paul Christophe said for her that "We can only be happy to see a reformer at the head of the CGT" .
The most popular trade unionist in France and leader of the largest trade union in France, the moderate CFDT , Laurent Berger , in office since 2012, resigned his position on Wednesday the 19th, coinciding with the validation of the pension reform law .
With him at the helm, the CFDT has surpassed the CGT as the first union in France and has led the largest social movement in decades. A poll carried out at the end of March by the Odoxa institute points to Berger as the main winner of the conflict over pensions: 58% of French people have a favorable opinion of him, 20 points more than two months earlier.
Berger represents the most moderate and submissive wing of the inter-union having as its counterpart the sector led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon. This is why his name has not ceased to sound like a possible candidate for a highly devalued social democracy .
During François Hollande's government, Berger had supported successive reforms to which the CGT was opposed. He also supported Macron's previous pension reform in 2019, which was cut short by the pandemic. The current reform generated Berger's break with the government and was one of the factors that led to the historic unity with the other unions.
However, Berger turned out to be a great ally of Macron, after the news of his resignation broke, government spokesman Olivier Véran said that Berger has been a " serious" and "demanding " partner with whom "important progress has been achieved ".
As in the CGT, his post will be held by a woman, Marylise Léon . For the first time in history the two largest unions in France will be led by women. This fact in itself is not at all progressive for the working class, on the contrary, it turns out to be a crude maneuver to wash the face of the union bureaucracy .
"Macron Demission" a slogan that raises the question of power
A slogan that has become massive is "Macron Demission" (Macron's resignation or resignation), the claim of millions of French who claim that Macron must leave power. This slogan expresses the depth that the political process is experiencing as we propose it in this article, it is a power vacuum, a weak government whose power is liquefying minute by minute. Macron cannot visit cities, not even small towns, without receiving massive rejection. Macron's fall is on the order of the day.
Macron's government maintains that the French must work harder to offset the state's indebtedness during the Covid pandemic and cover the structural deficit of the pension system, which this year is 1.8 billion euros, and will be 13 billion euros in 2023. Without However, one of Macron's first measures was to eliminate the tax on large fortunes (ISF) that contributed to the state around 3,000 million euros a year. In addition, in 2022, the main French business groups listed on the CAC 40 have had record profits. In turn, we have that the government voted to increase military spending in December (430,000 million euros for the period 2022-2023).
Another of the main reasons that the government then maintains to apply the reform is the increase in life expectancy , however, reality shows us otherwise. According to data published on 04/08/23 by the Ifop consultancy, which consulted more than a thousand French people who earn the minimum wage (1,353 euros for 35 hours a week), the majority of the most modest households in France have seen forced to cut their food expenses and 42% suppressed one of their daily meals due to inflation. 795 of those consulted stated that they had reduced their food purchases, 53% declared that they had reduced their portions and 42% stated that they had eliminated a meal, such as breakfast or dinner.
According to the National Institute of Statistics (INSEE), the inflation rate in March is 5.6%, a minimum that had not occurred since September 2022, however, food continued to increase in price to 15.8%, compared to to 14.8 of the previous month. Thomas Coutrot, an economist specializing in health and working conditions, said the general feeling in society is that "work has become unbearable" so "young people perceive that working conditions are deteriorating and workers are no longer They don't understand why they work". The truth is that any survey carried out at this time can only confirm the present and future dark panorama, product of the biggest capitalist crisis in the history of mankind . It is ridiculous to project an increase in life expectancy in a European continent that has already suffered from more than 10 years of economic crisis and with the European Union in full collapse. The reality is that governments want to unload the capitalist crisis on the backs of the workers as they rush to save the billionaires of the capitalist class . This was clearly demonstrated by the recent bailout of Credit Suisse .
So, all revolutionary politics must start from the fact that Macron's government is one of the most hated and repudiated in the history of France. That his fall is the order of the day, and that if he continues to hold power, it is because no political party in France is proposing what the people of France are proposing: that Macron must leave and resign. All the political parties are defending the bourgeois democratic regime, and the institutions of France, defending the power of the bourgeoisie, expressed in its political regime. All the capitalist political parties collaborate to support Macron and his government, which is why despite having practically no support in the population, he continues to govern. A separate paragraph deserves us the treacherous policy of the French left,
The betrayal of the French left to the workers and the people
The betrayal of the French left, and of the currents that claim to be Marxist, Trotskyist, or revolutionary, is synthesized in a central point: They refuse to propose that the working class and the people in France have to govern. For all these groups, the fight is limited to fighting for minimal issues, without questioning the power of the French bourgeoisie. The Program of 99% of the groups of the world left is that the bourgeoisie continue to rule in France. They raise the fight, the general strike, the withdrawal of the pension reform, all kinds of slogans, but at no time, no party of the French left raises that in France the working class should govern.
The greatest responsibility lies with NUPES (New Popular Ecologist and Social Union) is a front made up of left reformist parties (La Francia Insumisa, Partido Comunista Frances) and bourgeois left parties (Partido Socialista, Europa Ecología Los Verdes). It was founded in 2022 and has Jean-Luc Mélenchon as its highest reference and presidential candidate . The latter is part of Francia Insumisa, an organization that, in turn, is part of the IP (Progressive International) .
The Progressive International groups reformist parties from all over the world. It is headed by Bernie Sanders , a senator for the United States Democratic party and Yanis Varoufakis of Syriza from Greece. It tries to fulfill the same role that the Second International had (although it does not measure up) as the unifying center of world reformism . His political proposal is to fight for a "more humane capitalism",but its true objective is to divert and contain the struggles and revolutions that are taking place throughout the world (and that objectively go against capitalism) and lead them to the siding of bourgeois democracy. A function that NUPES is effectively fulfilling in France, by not stating at any time that there should be a workers' and popular government in France.
For the IP, the problem is not capitalism, nor imperialism, nor multinationals, nor Wall Street. For the IP, the main problem is the "right", that is, the "bad" bourgeoisie, as opposed to a "good" and "progressive" bourgeoisie that seeks a "more humanized capitalism". That is why they constantly agitate that "the right is coming" and in France they raise the ghost of Marine Le Pen all the time . This policy of the "lesser evil" diverts the struggle of the masses against capitalism and leads them into a blind alley of supporting "progressive" bourgeois governments.that do nothing more than sustain the adjustment, the repression and the millionaire profits of the businessmen and the multinationals. His plan is to "change so as not to change anything" and that the misery of working people continue to worsen, of course, with some cosmetic concessions that allow them to better cope with agony.
This "modern" social democracy of NUPES tries to divert the struggle of the masses towards the electoral path. With 68% of the population against the reform, an entire country taking over the streets and the working class increasingly organized and strengthened, they do not raise any slogan of power. They limit themselves to imploring Macron to renounce the reform so that the country does not burn down and deceive the masses by saying that the growth of mass struggles leads to the "growth" of the far-right Marine Le Pen. That is why they do not represent any alternative, and, on the contrary, they are enemies of the working class.
In turn, the groups that come from Trotskyism such as the NPA of France, now divided into different sectors, but also Lutte Ouvriere (LO) and other groups refuse to raise the slogan of the Workers' and People's Government in France. This constitutes a true betrayal of the workers and the French people. This policy is the product of the fact that the NPA eliminated the slogan of the dictatorship of the proletariat from the program, something that it made public on August 27, 2007 in the French media.
This current known as "Mandelism" always had France as its epicenter, and it is known in this way because it was headed by Ernest Mandel. In August 2007, this Mandelist group called the Revolutionary Communist League (LCR) announced its political dissolution, and the formation of a new "broad anti-capitalist" party, called NPA (New Anti-capitalist Party) that removed the slogan "Dictatorship of the Proletariat" from the program, that is, the struggle for a workers' and popular government. The NPA leaders carried out this programmatic change under the unusual, and hilarious conclusion that the era of the struggle for power of the working class, and socialism had already closed forever,
The proposition of the Mandelist leaders that the era of the struggle for power of the working class, and socialism had already ended, was an excuse to hide the true intention of transforming itself into a social-democratic, reformist-type organization. Mandelism was a pioneer in this, and today the path started by the Mandelists is being followed by all the leftist groups in the world that are following the same path of adopting the reformist and social democratic strategy. This is the reason why, in the midst of the revolution carried out by the workers and the people of France, no organization of the French left raises the slogan of the struggle for " A Workers' and People's Government".A true betrayal, because it leaves the people of France without any alternative to face the revolution that is leading.
For a Workers and Popular government in France
The first thing that we Marxists must affirm with all our might is that the working class and the people of France must govern. Our slogan is "For a Workers' and Popular Government to abolish imperialist capitalism in France!" Something that is confirmed at all times, after the beginning of the crisis in 2008, is that the capitalist system no longer leaves room for "class conciliation". All capitalist governments are forced to take actions that go against the will of their own leaders and their ability to carry them out. It doesn't matter what color they are or what they dress up as, whether they say they are from the left or the right, it seems that they are all going in the same direction, pushed by the crisis. And the reason for this is that all these governments have something in common: they defend the bourgeoisie and capitalism. The crisis exposes them and takes away any possibility of maneuvering since they cannot give any type of economic concession to the popular majorities .
The crisis is so deep that, in many cases, and without fear of exaggeration, it leads to situations of revolution or civil war (such was the case of the Arab Spring ) or directly to revolution and open war as is happening today in Ukraine. Governments that call themselves "left" act as if they were right-wing and far-right characters such as Marine Le Pen turn out to be harmless to the point of having to beg the government not to endanger the stability of the country.
In this complicated world panorama, a weakened and unpopular Emmanuel Macron is inserted. He is forced to have an increasingly authoritarian policy, some popular sectors already describe his government as "a dictatorship." The ingenuity of the French people is shown in the mobilizations associated with the portrait of Louis XVI, the king executed during the French Revolution . French capitalism has no choice, it is all or nothing, if it is not this president, it will be someone else in a different outfit who will be in charge of applying the reform, because if they do not apply a fierce adjustment to the working class and the middle class, French capitalism it collapses.
In other circumstances Macron would have already fallen. Only with the mobilization of January 17 would his government have been blown up. So why doesn't it fall? Precisely because the entire opposition arch is supporting the government, from the "left" of NUPES , passing through the bureaucratic leaderships of the workers' unions to the extreme right of Marine Le Pen , none of these sectors advocates the fall of the government or raises some slogan of power. No sector of the left (reformist) is calling for the workers and the people to govern .
For now, this enormous social discontent has as its main actors the workers' unions , since the French masses seized on the main "democratic" element that they had within their reach and that best responded to the situation (in other circumstances it could have been the elections, or political parties, neighborhood assemblies, or any type of popular organization). This raises the urgent need to wage a relentless battle within the unions to expel the union bureaucracy and put this fundamental tool at the service of the working class and the revolution. And not only that, it is essential to extend this anti-bureaucratic fight to a European level. Fortunately (and as we have already seen) the French proletariat is taking enormous steps in this direction. There are two fundamental facts that illustrate this trend and that were only possible due to the pressure of the bases: the unification of the workers' federations and the impossibility of the union leaders to sit at the dialogue table with Macron .
What is happening in France is an insurrection and a dual power situation where the masses have taken to the streets and control of the country. The level of consciousness of the French masses has jumped, it is no longer limited only to the question of pension reform, but directly questions the capitalist system . For example, on April 13, when protesters in Paris invaded the headquarters of the LVHM company to demand that its owner (Bernard Arnaud, the richest man in the world)pay more taxes and thus reduce loopholes in the system. This is happening in all institutions, from schools to unions. And it is that the French working people know that even defeating the reform they will not be able to solve the underlying problem that is the accelerated deterioration of living conditions .
Protests at the LVHM company headquarters
Faced with this more than favorable situation for the working class, the "left" parties such as NUPES and the main leaderships of the unions implore the government in unison to reverse the reform because the situation is already uncontrollable (this desperate cry coincides with that of the extreme right of Marine Le Pen). What is the common absence that we notice in all of them? That no one is calling to overthrow the government! None of them proclaim slogans of power! None of them calls the working class, the unions and the popular majorities to fight for the seizure of power!The working class can completely paralyze the country and is categorically demonstrating it, but the union bureaucracy (expressed in the inter-union bureaucracy) is doing the impossible to divide the struggles and prolong them in time so that their forces are diluted and not materialize a prolonged and forceful national strike (we are now on the twelfth day of strike!).
The innumerable and heroic actions of the French working class together with its enormous organizational power (expressed in the almost total paralysis of the country) and the sympathy that the middle and petty-bourgeois sectors have towards it, put on the table the real and objective possibility of to seize power and build a Socialist France . Its actions are already seen with sympathy by the entire world working class, becoming a world beacon. The European working class is watching closely and threatening to join him . It should not be forgotten that the previous actions of the Yellow Vests infected a large part of Europe.
Faced with this reality, where the working class and its methods are once again the center of the scene, it is of vital importance to build a workers' and revolutionary party that resumes the orthodox tradition of Marxism, that once again has the working class as center, to recover the profession of the struggle for power and the construction of socialism in France. This option is life or death, since capitalism is headed for a global catastrophe, the recent bankruptcy of Silicon Valley Bank is just the prelude to what is to come.
The struggles in France are also putting on the table the urgent need to coordinate and incorporate the ecological struggle with the workers' struggles. Although without falling into the reformist and petty-bourgeois line of putting the ecological struggle ahead of the class struggle , since there is no possibility of saving the planet by reforming a capitalist system that precisely feeds on its destruction. The bourgeoisie (including the progressive one) can no longer solve the ecological problem, on the contrary, it aggravates it more and more.
From La Marx Internacional we salute the heroic struggle of the French working people and we tell them that mobilization is the only way to advance towards victory, trusting in their own strength. We must not expect anything from ministers or parliamentarians or from that nest of traitors sold to the bourgeoisie that is the Élysée Palace . We also put ourselves at the service of those organizations that promote the struggle for the seizure of power by the French working people, within the framework of our daily effort to build a world group of revolutionaries.
France is not just any country, it is one of the main imperialist powers, and the French working class is one of the most important in the world. We do not exaggerate when we say that when the French working people rise up, the foundations of world capitalism shake .
- Down with the retirement reform!
- Down with the Macron government!
- For a general strike that stops the entire country!
- For a workers and popular government!
- Down with French imperialist capitalism! For a Socialist France!
Leave us your contact