The Spectator and the “disgruntled French”

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We were a bit surprised to see our organisation mentioned briefly in an article by Gavin Mortimer, published in the British magazine The Spectator on 22 January. A few years ago the Daily Mail, a sensationalist tabloid, not known for its honesty and high-mindedness, believed that it had unmasked the ICC as the brains behind a student plot to trash the Conservative Party HQ in Britain. You will be shocked to know that this was a gross lie which we denounced in our press in 2010[1]:

This time, nothing of the sort. It was just a brief mention, vaguely mocking, in a very serious conservative magazine. It was not seeking to make a scandal. But since Gavin Mortimer has inadvertently passed the baton to us, we will take the opportunity to make a few points clear.

In his account, Gavin Mortimer presents the recent demonstrations against the pension reforms as the expression of the French way of life, a sort of national curiosity illustrated by our leaflet, alongside the Yellow Vests and a merguez vendor.

At the risk of disappointing our dear Gavin, our leaflet wasn’t a bit of local colour provided for tourists looking for something a bit spicy. The ICC distributes leaflets in all countries where its militants are present: in French, Filipino, Spanish, Hindi, Italian, Germany and even…in English!

We advise him to read our leaflet on the strikes in the UK[2] published in August 2022, which received a favourable response from some of the strike pickets in the “mother country”. Nine months of struggle on both sides of the Channel have largely confirmed what we put forward in the leaflet: “It is not possible to predict where and when the workers' combativity will re-emerge on a massive scale in the near future, but one thing is certain: the scale of the current workers' mobilisation in Britain is a significant historical event. The days of passivity and submission are past. The new generations of workers are raising their heads”.

Everywhere in the world, and not only in France, the exploited are returning to the path of struggle faced with the inexorable degradation of their living and working conditions, with poverty, precariousness, the rising cost of living.

As Gavin Mortimer, in his own way and with his particular prejudices puts it, “They are working class and middle class, young and old, and their anger has been building for years. Raising the age of retirement to 64 is a cause around which they can all rally but their ras-le­-bol (despair) is far more profound”. Indeed, the demonstrations in France express more than just a rejection of the pension reform. Even if the proletarians are not yet conscious of it, the struggles in France and Britain are a reaction to the spiral of chaos and poverty which capitalism is inflicting on humanity.

We find nothing to despise in seeing the “young” mixed together with “greying boomers”. Because these struggles also express the beginning of solidarity between the different sectors of our class, between “white collars” and “blue collars” as well as between generations. Its because industrial workers and white collar workers, young and old, in all sectors and in all countries, share the same conditions of exploitation that the class struggle is fundamentally international.

This is why revolutionaries aim to show that each struggle must encourage the next across all frontiers, despite the silence of the bourgeois press and the systematic deformation of what’s going on. To fight against its lies, our leaflets, like our press, has never stopped showing the link between the “enough is enough” of the strikers in Britain with the “ça suffit” of the demonstrators in France. We have thus welcomed the mobilisation of the workers in Britain because, dear Gavin, these massive strikes are an appeal to struggle, addressed to workers in all countries.

EG 2.2.23


Workers' struggles in Britain and France