La France Insoumise: always at the service of capitalism

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We are publishing an article by our French section, written during the recent French elections. The emergence of “new” and more “radical” left forces is a phenomenon we are seeing in a number of countries, from Colombia, Bolivia and Peru to western Europe and Australia. But as the article shows, parties like La France Insoumise are no less an integral part of capitalism than the traditional or right-wing populist parties which they claim to oppose. Above all, they reflect the need of capitalism to offer false alternatives that sterilise any really critical thinking about the origins of capitalist war and misery.


Following the first round of the presidential election, Mélenchon was placed third, a few hundred thousand votes away from qualifying for the second round. He owes his relative success to the mobilisation of the popular and working class electorate in the old "red bastions" of the Paris suburbs and the working class concentrations of most of the big French cities. His candidacy has also caught on with many young people who are more suspicious of all the usual rhetoric of the patented hucksters of the electoral circus. While the historical parties of the left, led by the Parti Socialiste  and the Parti Communiste Français, have been wrecked, discredited, incapable of representing the slightest hope in the eyes of disillusioned voters, La France insoumise (LFI), with its charismatic leader Mélenchon, now presents itself as the "force of the left" through which hope for a better future can come. It gives itself the image of the recourse against bourgeois "liberalism", against the "power of money" and the "rich", against the attacks of the M regime as well as against the "fascist" danger of the Rassemblement National of Marine Le Pen...

Through its slogan "another world is possible", LFI even presents itself as an alternative force in opposition to capitalist society. And this at a time when large parts of the working class and the new generation see the rotting of the capitalist world under the blows of the crisis and war,  and begin to understand the need to "change society". It is therefore not surprising that after his failure to reach the second round of the presidential election, Mélenchon hastened to call for massive mobilisation at the ballot box during the legislative elections in order, according to him, to "force" Macron to appoint him prime minister and ensure a so-called "opposition".

Since the election of Mitterrand and the PS in the early 1980s and the participation of the PCF in left-wing governments, the working class has known where it stands with the left and this kind of palaver. Behind the great "emancipatory" speeches lies the continuation of the most unbridled exploitation, endless attacks on living conditions, and the repression of social struggles and strikes. The discrediting of these parties is precisely the business of Mélenchon, who leads people to think that a "real" left could really "change life". This is clearly not the case!

Because this project carried by Mélenchon is in no way innovative. It's a modernised copy of the false alternatives put forward by all the radical social-democratic, ecologist and citizen fractions[1].  With these new clothes, the bourgeoisie is trying to revitalise the ideology carried by the left of capital and to replace a clearly moribund Stalinism by reactivating the programme of the old social democracy, which is just as anti-working class. By calling for "people’s union", by chanting "another world is possible", Mélenchon and his clique want us to believe that by recycling outdated ideologies they constitute an alternative to capitalism. In fact, they remain fervent defenders of it!

A mystifying and war-mongering programme

To face the crisis, the "People's Union Programme” proposes "major projects to take up the ecological challenge... to engage in a global plan to renovate our infrastructures to adapt them to climate change". Is this something new that could "create several hundred thousand jobs and massively reduce unemployment"? For some years now, the ideological campaign for a "Green New Deal" has claimed to solve the problems of climate change, unemployment and inequality all at once. The Green New Deal proposes, nation by nation, grandiose plans for new growth based on green energy, production and infrastructure, promising to support the economy through increased spending. In fact, the 'Green New Deal' finds its very pale inspiration in the state capitalist policies of the 1930s in the United States to revive growth following the Great Depression of 1929. Roosevelt's New Deal was nothing more than a policy of large-scale construction based on the massive and unprecedented use of state debt to build warships and aircraft, military bases and airfields. This was not unlike the policies in force in Germany at the time, when many motorways were built in preparation for the coming war. This is the concrete logic contained in such a radical proposal!

Similar proposals have also emerged on "job guarantees, reducing working hours, ending flexibility"[2].  Once again, these are miraculous proposals that make you "dream"! The reality is that every so-called social advance, especially those made by the left in power (an extra week of paid leave in 1982 or the 35-hour week in 2000), has systematically led to an increase in exploitation, with higher work rates, wage freezes and more precarious employment, all of which has led to pressure, suffering at work, suicides in some cases, precariousness and "mobility" for all the exploited.

To think that it could be otherwise, by magic, in a context of crisis and increasingly fierce capitalist competition (which Mélenchon freely admits is very real) is a pure illusion. Indeed, the "relocation of essential production, to engage in an industrial reconstruction plan to put an end to France's dependence in strategic fields (semi-conductors, medicines, etc.) and to support the ecological bifurcation", in addition to massive indebtedness, could only be done at the price of a drastic reduction in production costs and a scathing attack on our living conditions. These are the inexorable laws of the capitalist system!

As for the hackneyed left-wing promise of "fairer sharing of wealth" and "making the rich pay", it's just more smoke and mirrors: Mélenchon and his clique have nothing more to propose than yet another sprinkling of "new" tax revenues, in particular a re-establishment of the tax on large fortunes abolished by Macron and higher state taxation on real estate.

Another “anti-globalisation” proposal claiming to put an end to chaos and warlike barbarity in the world, a task of critical important in this context of accelerated warfare as in Ukraine today: "To promote peace and cooperation…to find an independent voice, to assume the independence of France in the world, is a necessity". Behind such recurrent discourse lies the crassest chauvinism, promising the warlike horrors of tomorrow: "If you want peace, prepare for war". In the name of this slogan, concretised to the extreme during the period of capitalist decline that was signalled by the First World War, millions of exploited people have lost their lives in the defence of bourgeois national interests that were never theirs.

Mélenchon puts on another layer which does not even claim to be pacifist: "France can and must defend itself, outside any permanent military alliance whatsoever. To do this, defence must be the business of the entire nation". To this end, the proposals are numerous and very expressive of a supposedly "radiant" future of cooperation and mutual understanding: "Stop the privatisation of the arms industries and national defence missions, then reintroduce them into the public sector. Prioritise the acquisition of French military equipment in the army. Open the possibility of military service as an optional component of compulsory citizen service. Mobilise digital space and space reality to install defensive and non-lethal systems against aggression and for peace. Adapt military equipment and the equipment of our soldiers to the new climate. Launch a plan to adapt vulnerable military infrastructures”. Don't waste any more breath, the message is clear! If some people could be under the illusion that Mélenchon's vision of the future was a little "revolutionary", "fraternal" and "radical", they have been given the unvarnished demonstration of his chauvinist and war-mongering perspective.

We could multiply all the additional proposals for "national defence": intelligence, anti-terrorism, a more efficient local police force, more "republican" techniques of repression in the service of the state!

France Insoumise, spearhead of the division within the working class

Today there exist many illusions in the ranks of the workers and the younger generation about the nature of LFI, particularly because of the loss of working class self-awareness, of the proletariat’s inability to see that it represents the potential for a communist society. But if these difficulties do exist, they do not mean an irreversible inability to recover its class identity and its consciousness of the goal to be reached. The bourgeoisie knows this and is careful to prevent such a "catastrophe" from happening through the mystifications put forward by the left-wing parties.

LFI is now the main force on the left capable of assuming this role of ideological control of the proletariat. It does this by at once:

- Sterilising the revolutionary role of the working class by its dilution into the shapeless mass of the "French people", the "popular strata" and "citizens".

- Deviating from the goal of a classless and stateless society through a supposed egalitarianism guaranteed by the republican state.

- Finally, by torpedoing past and future struggles, undermining the search for unity and solidarity within the working class. To get an idea of this, it is necessary to return to LFI's ignoble ideological attempt at dividing the generations, which we already saw at work during the pandemic and which was reactivated before this first electoral round and just afterwards: clearly, the old must be the generation through which the evil arrives, the one which, for many, did not protect itself and led to the lock-downs and the sacrifice of the young. Today, LFI and its media relays stigmatise the votes of Baby Boomers for Macron and Le Pen. The reactionary conservatism of the old was preventing the "living forces" of youth (who vote more for Mélenchon) from giving themselves a future. To insinuate openly or by the back door that pensioners have their "career behind them", have selfishly benefited from full employment, consumerism and retirement at 60 is an ignominy to be rejected, which Mélenchon uses to caress young voters, most of them graduates, in the face of a more than uncertain future, and to divide the workers.

Apart from the crude aspect of this campaign, the dominant ideology is in fact trying to hinder any potential for real unity and solidarity for the struggles to come, discrediting all the experience accumulated by the previous generations of workers, so necessary to strengthen the struggles to come. This is yet another concrete expression of the "cooperation" and "morality" advocated by Mr. Mélenchon. In the end, behind the assertions that "another world is possible", we must clearly read "the same national state is possible".

It is therefore necessary to recall a simple truth: for proletarians, the state is the spearhead of capitalist exploitation! Who constantly carries out general attacks on the living conditions of the working class? Who represses the slightest expression of revolt against the established order? It is the bourgeois state! Yesterday, today and tomorrow, all its defenders, its "reformers" demonstrate, through the ballot box, through speeches or programmes, however radical they may be, that they are only overt and covert cogs in its machinery. Mélenchon and LFI are enemies of the working class, of its struggles and of its efforts to strengthen the consciousness of a necessary and possible revolutionary alternative.

Stopio, 23 April 2022






[1] Like those of the United Socialist Party in its time. The latter was presented as an attempt to build a "revolutionary reformist" approach. Its contributions to the self-management traps and dead ends, as during the Lip struggles, contributed, like so many other left forces, to derailing proletarian reflection following May 68.



French presidential elections