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France : Against the Government and the Capitalist State,

An All Out Strike in Every Sector of Production? Now is the Time! (May 21st 2016)

by International Group of the Communist Left


For the first time since the announcement of the “Labor Law” [the so-called “El Khomri law” - the Labor Minister’s name], strikes have begun to hit areas of French production, mainly in transport: road, rail, airports, dockers, sailors... Strikes in production imply collective class action and decision-making. This is precisely the new development that can change the situation and the nature of the confrontation with the Socialist Party government of Hollande and the capitalist state. That is why the present moment – mid-May – is certainly the last opportunity for a generalized working class response and so to impose a class political relation of force which would oblige the French ruling class and its state, the government, its Left and Right political forces, and its unions to retreat. Even if the “Labor Law” only codifies into bourgeois law worsening capitalist exploitation that has already been under way for years, it nevertheless remains that its legal adoption would dramatically accelerate the deterioration of proletarian working and living conditions whether they are on a fixed wage or are precarious, unemployed, working students, pensioners, etc.

The Unions and Others like “Nuit debout” [“Up All Night”] Sabotage the Generalized and United Working Class Struggle

One particular feature – not the only one – of the many union Days of Action since early March has been precisely to avoid any collective decision of struggle from the workplaces and workers’ General Assemblies (GA). Thus, in the absence of GA and struggle or strike committees, millions of workers find themselves constrained to take an individual decision, from their own personal conviction, to participate in the strikes of the Days of Action and in the street demonstrations. While 75% of the “French population” was against the “Labor Law” according to the polls organized by the ruling class, most of them remained isolated from one another and unable to experience the collective strength of their class. In great part this explains the low number of strikers during the Days of Action.

Another factor is the distrust in the face of the division of labor organized between the government, the “moderate” unions (CFDT) and the supposed “more radical” unions (CGT, FO, SUD...) as well as the different Days of Action planned in advance, since early March, to sabotage any united strike generalized to all sectors – the memory of the past failures during the massive working class mobilizations of 2003, 2007 and 2010 is still fresh.

Despite all this, and despite the state of emergency after the 2015 Paris attacks which allows increased repression and the prohibition of street demonstrations, militancy and general anger have continued to be expressed particularly in the street demonstrations. “Youths, the not so young, adults, elderly”, salaried of any condition and contract, unemployed, pensioned, students, college students, found themselves side by side faced with the massive and provocative repression of the riot police (which the unions’ “security” assisted with baseball bats!). Since the first demonstrations, on March 9th and after, the union sabotage of the mass strike has become obvious to most. It is in response to this vacuum – from the ruling class point of view – the “Nuit debout” [“Up All Night”] gatherings were organized from March 31st in one of the central places of Paris: Place de la République. In the days and weeks which followed, the media and the TV news channels never stopped giving it maximum publicity. And with good reason: the “citizenship and democratic” ideology of the “Up All Night” movement has come to reinforce the union sabotage by robbing any class opposition to the Socialist Party government and to the fight against capitalism. Let’s have a closer look:

Since March 31st, assemblies have formed and the people [not the workers or proletarians] discuss and exchange. (...) The Human [sic!] should be at the heart of our leaders. (...) Every day, we are thousands who occupy the public space to regain our place within the République (!) (Presentation of the daily bulletin Nuit debout, April 22nd, our emphasis).

As if the class interests of the exploited and revolutionary class could be represented by the “République”, that is the state of the capitalist class. As if “our” leaders, at the service of capitalism, could care about “humanity” – certainly the most naive and ignorant wanted to say the exploited class – as much as they care about keeping their national capital afloat against that of their competitors; and more generally about capitalism’s survival.

However capitalism’s crisis is inexorable. If we, the working class, let it, it can only lead to a 3rd imperialist World War, the only “solution” to the chronic crisis of overproduction being the massive destruction of the surplus of productive forces, proletarians and material. Lining up behind the bourgeois democratic state not only guarantees that our struggles of resistance against the worsening of our living and working conditions will fail, that we won’t succeed to limit capital’s attacks at least temporarily, but also that the growing economic sacrifices will be followed by massive sacrifices of our lives in a generalized imperialist slaughter.

It is as the Exploited and Revolutionary Class that We Must Generalize and Unite the Struggle

Members of the working class, of the exploited class, of the international proletariat, our place is not within the bourgeois democratic Republic which sends us its riot police today, and the army tomorrow. Our place is in the working class, in proletarian struggles against capitalism, its government, its Left (primarily the Socialist and “Communist” Parties) as well as Right wing Parties, its unions, its police and its justice system. The bourgeois state is not our state. France, as all other nations, is not our “country”. Proletarians have no homeland, nor nation, and still less a bourgeois democratic republic, to defend.

After two and a half months of general hesitation, the fact that, since May 17th, workers in some sectors of production have collectively decided to go on strike and to spread the fight gives the opportunity that many have been waiting for to take action. Waiting at this point certainly means risking missing the opportunity for a generalized and united struggle which can force the government to retreat and to withdraw its attack. Let us have no illusions: the withdrawal of this law would not result in an end to capitalism and exploitation. But it would bring about a temporary and relative halt – still better than nothing – to the increased exploitation that the bourgeoisie will attempt to begin once more. And it would give confidence to the whole working class in its own strength and in its fight against capitalism.

Therefore, wherever it is possible – in particular in the largest workplaces and factories– let us take the following actions:

- hold general assemblies to decide to go on strike;

- appoint elected and revocable strike committees;

- organize mass delegations to the nearby workplaces and factories;

- spread and unify the strike and the struggle by holding assemblies open to all;

- oppose the unions’ and Left parties’ leadership and control of the struggle, the assemblies, the decisions, the actions and the slogans. Don’t let them sabotage our struggle.

The working class struggle is economic as well as political, that is against the bourgeois state, the centralized organization of the capitalist class, its government (whether it is a Right or Left wing one) and its political, union and repressive organs. To the most militant workers conscious of the historical stakes:

- don’t hesitate to take the lead in this class political fight;

- regroup in struggle and mobilization committees;

- approach, make contact, come to discuss and struggle alongside the communist revolutionary groups which bear and assume both the daily political struggle and the revolutionary and internationalist perspective of a genuine communist society.

At stake is the defence of our immediate economic and political interests as a class. At stake is also the destruction of this world system of increasing misery and wars.

The International Group of the Communist Left (Revolution orWar), May21st 2016.

Write to us: intleftcom@gmail.com – the address of our website: www.igcl.org

 

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