Presentation to the public meetings held in a number of countries on 13 May 2023

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All over the world we see workers taking up the struggle... and again today references to May '68 are appearing in the demonstrations.

But this time it will be necessary to GO FURTHER THAN IN 1968!

In another article, we will write about the discussions that took place at these meetings.

1) International struggles: a break with the previous period

All the comrades have certainly seen in the demonstrations this slogan which appeared in several cities: " You give us 64, we'll give you May 68 again!” This reference to May 68 is a sign that there is an underground reflection in the class on the lessons of past struggles, which will sooner or later result in new advances for the movement.

We want to contribute to this reflection and it's good timing because today is an anniversary. Indeed, today is 13 May 2023 and just 55 years ago, on 13 May 1968, demonstrations on an unprecedented scale took place throughout France on the call of the major trade union centres. They followed the spontaneous demonstrations which, on Saturday 11 May, had protested energetically against the extremely violent repression suffered by the students the day before[1]. This mobilisation forced the bourgeoisie to back down. Pompidou announced that the forces of order would be withdrawn from the Latin Quarter, that the Sorbonne would be reopened and that the imprisoned students would be released. Discussions multiplied everywhere, not only on the repression but also on the working conditions of the workers, exploitation, and the future of society. These demonstrations on 13 May in solidarity with the students were called by unions which had initially been overwhelmed and which sought to regain control of the movement.

These demonstrations represented a turning point, not only because of their scale but above all because they announced the entry of the working class onto the scene. The next day, the workers of Sud-Aviation in Nantes launched a spontaneous strike. They were followed by a mass movement which reached 9 million strikers on 27 May. It was the biggest strike in the history of the international workers' movement. Everywhere people were raising demands, expressing their indignation, becoming politicised, discussing, in demonstrations, general assemblies and action committees that sprang up like mushrooms.

Even if the movement in France went furthest, it was part of a series of international struggles that affected many countries in the world. These international struggles were the sign of a fundamental change in the life of society: they marked a break with the previous period - it was the end of the terrible counter-revolution which had descended on the working class following the failure of the world revolutionary wave initiated by the success of the 1917 revolution in Russia.

Even if not to the same extent, such a break with the previous period is happening again today. All over the world, workers are struggling against unbearable living and working conditions, especially against inflation which is significantly reducing wages. The placards and banners read: "Enough is enough" in the UK; "Not one year more, not one euro less" in France; "Indignation runs deep" in Spain; "For all of us" in Germany.

In Denmark, Portugal, the Netherlands, the United States, Canada, Mexico, China and at the moment in Sweden, where a wildcat strike is taking place among commuter train drivers in Stockholm; in many countries, it is the same strikes against the same exploitation, as the British workers summarise it very well: "The real hardship: not being able to heat, eat, look after yourself, get around!” The break that we are witnessing today is the resumption of a dynamic of international struggles after decades of decline in combativity and consciousness in the working class. Indeed, the collapse of Stalinism in 1989-91 was the occasion for vast ideological campaigns on the impossibility of an alternative to capitalism, on the eternity of bourgeois democracy as the only viable political regime. These campaigns had a very strong impact on a working class which had not managed to push the politicisation of its struggles any further.

2) Communist revolution or destruction of humanity

In the demonstrations in France, we started to read on some placards the refusal of the war in Ukraine, the refusal to tighten our belts in the name of this war economy: "No money for the war, no money for weapons, money for wages, money for pensions"[2].

Even if it's not always clear in the heads of the demonstrators, only the struggle of the proletariat on its class terrain can be a bulwark against war, against this self-destructive dynamic, a bulwark in the face of the death that capitalism promises to all humanity. For, left to its own logic, this decadent system will drag larger and larger parts of humanity into war and misery, it will destroy the planet with greenhouse gases, razed forests and bombs.

As the first part of the title of our 3rd Manifesto says: "Capitalism leads to the destruction of humanity..." The class that rules world society, the bourgeoisie, is partly aware of this reality, of the barbaric future that their dying system promises us. It is enough to read the studies and works of its own experts to see this. In particular the "Global Risks Report" presented at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2023, which we quoted extensively in our last leaflet[3].

Faced with this overwhelming prospect, the bourgeoisie is powerless. It and its system are not the solution, they are the cause of the problem. Even if, in the mainstream media, the bourgeoisie tries to make us believe that it is doing everything possible to fight against global warming, that a "green" and "sustainable" capitalism is possible, it knows very well that these are lies.

In reality, the problem is not limited to the climate issue. It is one expression of the fundamental contradictions of an economic system based NOT on the satisfaction of human needs but on profit and competition, on the predation of natural resources and the ferocious exploitation of the class that produces the essential part of social wealth: the proletariat, the wage workers of all countries. Thus, capitalism and the bourgeoisie constitute one of the two poles of society, the one that leads humanity towards misery and war, towards barbarity and destruction. The other pole is the proletariat and its struggle to resist capitalism and overthrow it.

These reflexes of active solidarity, this collective combativeness that we see today, are witness to the deep nature of the workers' struggle, which is destined to assume a struggle for a radically different world, a world without exploitation or social classes, without competition, without borders or nations. "Either we fight together, or we'll end up sleeping in the street", confirmed the demonstrators in France. The banner "For all of us" under which the strike against pauperisation took place in Germany on 27 March is particularly significant of this general feeling that is growing in the working class: "we are all in the same boat" and we are all fighting for each other. Strikes in Germany, the UK and France were inspired by each other. For example, in France, the workers of the Mobilier National, before the cancellation of the visit of Charles III, explicitly went on strike in solidarity with their class brothers in Britain: "We are in solidarity with the British workers, who have been on strike for weeks for higher wages". This reflex of international solidarity, even if it is still embryonic, is the exact opposite of the capitalist world divided into competing nations, the final expression of which is war. It recalls the rallying cry of our class since 1848: "Proletarians have no homeland! Proletarians of all countries, unite!”

3) Why do we need to go further than in May 68?

But we all feel the difficulties and the current limits of these struggles. Faced with the steamroller of the economic crisis, inflation and the governmental attacks that they call "reforms", the workers have not yet managed to establish a balance of forces in their favour. Often isolated by the unions in separate strikes, they are frustrated by reducing the demonstrations to processions, without meetings or discussions or collective organisation. Often they aspire to a wider, stronger movement, more united in solidarity. In the processions in France, the call for a new May 68 is regularly heard.

And indeed, we need to take up the methods of struggle that we saw being asserted in the whole period that began in 1968. One of the best examples is Poland in 1980. Faced with the increase in food prices, the strikers took this international wave even further by taking control of their struggles, by gathering in huge general assemblies, by centralising the different strike committees thanks to the MKS, the inter-enterprise committee[4]. In all these assemblies, the workers themselves decided on the demands and the actions to be taken and, above all, were constantly concerned to extend the struggle. Faced with this strength, we know that it was not just the Polish bourgeoisie that trembled, but the bourgeoisie of all countries.

In two decades, from 1968 to 1989, a whole generation of workers acquired experience in the struggle. Its many defeats, and sometimes victories, allowed this generation to confront the many traps set by the bourgeoisie to sabotage the struggle, to divide and demoralise. Its struggles must allow us to draw vital lessons for our present and future struggles: only meeting in open and massive general assemblies, autonomous, really deciding on the conduct of the movement, contesting and neutralising union control as soon as possible, can constitute the basis of a united and spreading struggle, sustained by solidarity between all sectors.

When the last leaflet was distributed, one demonstrator agreed with us on the methods of struggle that needed to be taken up, but was sceptical about the title. "Going further than in '68? If we did what we did in '68, it wouldn't be bad," he said.  But we have to go further than in '68 because the stakes are no longer the same. The wave of international struggle that began in May '68 was a reaction to the first signs of the crisis and the reappearance of mass unemployment. The catastrophic state of capitalism now clearly puts the very survival of humanity at stake. If the working class does not succeed in overthrowing it, barbarism will gradually become more widespread.

The momentum of May '68 and the ensuing years was broken by a double lie of the bourgeoisie: when the Stalinist regimes collapsed in 1989-91, they claimed that the collapse of Stalinism meant the death of communism and that a new era of peace and prosperity was opening. Three decades later, we know from experience that instead of peace and prosperity, we have had war and misery, that Stalinism is the antithesis of communism (like yesterday's USSR and today's China, Cuba, Venezuela or North Korea!) By falsifying history, the bourgeoisie managed to make the working class believe that its revolutionary project of emancipation could only lead to ruin. But in the struggle, the workers can gradually develop their own collective strength, self-confidence, solidarity, unity, self-organisation. The struggle gradually makes the working class realise that it is capable of offering another perspective than the death promised by a decaying capitalist system: the communist revolution. The perspective of the proletarian revolution will make its return in the battles to come. This time the idea of revolution which re-appeared in May 68 is being transformed into a vital necessity for humanity. Faced with the spectacle of capitalism in decomposition where "no future" reigns, we proclaim: "The future belongs to the class struggle!

Finally, it seems to us that the present situation raises a certain number of questions that we have tried to illustrate in this presentation:

Do the current workers' struggles on an international scale represent a break with the previous period, a resumption of the class struggle that will now develop?

Is today's capitalist world marked by phenomena of social decomposition that can lead to the destruction of humanity?

What are the main weaknesses of the current movement?

Why is it necessary to go further than in May 68?


[1] Surprised by the events, the bourgeoisie had not yet got full control over the journalists, which meant that the whole of France could follow, hour after hour on the radio, the night of the barricades in the Latin Quarter on May 10. The entire world was made aware of the violence of the police repression.

[2] Also: “In Denmark, strikes and demonstrations broke out against the abolition of a public holiday in order to finance the increase in the military budget for the war effort in Ukraine”

[3] On BFM TV, Robert Badinter also rung the alarm bells: if a helicopter crashed into one of the reactors at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the disaster would be even worse than Chernobyl.

[4] During the mass strike in 190-81, the MKS (inter-enterprise strike committees) were set up in most of the big towns in Poland to centralise the numerous strike committees which had sprung up. They were the highest expression of workers’ self-organisation since the workers’ councils of Russia and Germany in 1917-19. The one in Gdansk, installed in the shipyards, was seen as a central strike committee for the whole of Poland. It was the one that negotiated the Gdansk agreements with the government.


ICC intervention