Last week, the government of Sarkozy/Fillon/Hortefeux/Pécresse and consorts (with the silent support of the Parti Socialiste and the various leftists) has crossed the Rubicon of shame and brutality. After the armed pursuit of immigrants across its borders in support of the policy of selecting "immigrants of choice" ("l'immigration choisie"), they are now savagely attacking striking students. This ferocious repression was meted out to students fighting the law on privatising the universities (called LRU). Some university vice-chancellors, lackeys of capital, took the vile decision to call in the CRS and the riot police, in the name of ‘democracy' and ‘liberty', to take back the campuses seized and occupied in Nanterre, Tolbiac, Rennes, Aix-Marseille, Nantes, Grenoble...
Capitalist order and terror!
The repression in Rennes and especially Nanterre has been particularly disgusting.
Having called in vigilantes armed with police dogs, the vice-chancellors of the universities have let hundreds of CRS occupy the grounds: the student demonstrators have been evicted by cops with batons and teargas. Several have been arrested and some wounded. The CRS took its brutality as far as grabbing the spectacles (symbolic of students who read books!) of one student in Nanterre and smashing them. The Sarkozy-ist media, servant of capital, has reported and justified the repression with the words of the university vice-chancellors. On 13th November, on the television programme 20 Heures on Channel 2, we heard the vice-chancellor of Nanterre University give the following justification: "This is not struggle, it is delinquency". Another hysterical servant of capital, the vice-chancellor of the Rennes University had no scruples declaring that those who rebel are "terrorists and Khmer Rouge"!
Clearly, the ex-Security Chief of France, ‘Nicolas le Petit', is determined to "power clean" the French universities today and to ‘stigmatise' the children of the working class as ‘hooligans', as ‘a rabble', as ‘delinquents' (as the vice-chancellor of Nanterre has said). For all those behind this ‘policy' (for Madame Pécresse, on 7th November on LCI: "the occupations are political actions") they are just ‘terrorists'. At the very moment when Alliot-Marie gave the instruction to the cops to attack the occupied campuses, her ‘friend' Madame Pécresse has pushed cynicism to its limits declaring on TV that she wanted to "reassure students" (sic!).
The workers in both the public and private sectors must understand this message: all those who embark on ‘illegal' and ‘unpopular' strikes (and we can expect the media and Télé-Sarkozy to pump this propaganda out on a daily basis), all those, like the workers in the SNCF and in the RATP who dare to ‘take commuters hostage' will be declared ‘terrorists' and ‘trouble-makers' disrupting ‘public order'.
The real ‘yellow peril' is not so-called "Khmers Rouges" at Rennes University. It is the ‘wreckers', the strikebreakers in the repressive machinery who beat and gas the young generations of workers with the assistance of informers and boot-lickers, namely the university vice-chancellors. The real ‘terrorists', the real criminals are those in government who carry out the dirty work of this class of gangsters: the decadent bourgeois class. Their order is that of relentless TERROR.
However, this class of criminals isn't satisfied with sending its mad dogs and its CRS hatchet men against the striking students. In certain universities taken back from the students by the cops, they have gone as far as ‘confiscating' the student strike funds. For example, in Lyon on 16th November, the students who occupied the campus had raised a collection of a few hundred euros. The CRS, armed to the teeth, seized control of the campus, and the University Administration itself confiscated the cooking materials brought by the students and seized their strike fund. It is shameful and disgusting! The morals of petty bourgeois thugs are just as bad, if not worse, than those of the ‘wreckers' from the suburbs, manipulated by the bourgeois state into attacking student demonstrators during the movement of spring 2006 against the CPE (first job contract), stealing their mobile phones!
This is the real face of parliamentary democracy: ‘public order' equals the order of capital. It is the order of terror and truncheons, of cops and the media. It is the order of lies and of manipulation by Télés-Sarkozy! It is the Machiavellism that seeks to divide and rule over us. It is the order of those who seek to turn us against each other with the strategy advocated by the former Villepin/Sarkozy government in the spring of 2006: using violence to weaken the struggle!
Solidarity between students and railways workers is the way forward
The savage repression against the students is a shameful attack on the whole working class. The vast majority of students fighting against privatising the universities and selection procedures based on ability to pay are the children of the working class and not the well-meaning petit bourgeoisie, as certain parts of the media and socio-ideologues of capital would have us believe. Many of them are children of public sector workers or of immigrant stock (especially in the universities in the suburbs, like Nanterre or Saint-Denis). The proletarian nature of the students' struggle against the Pécresse law has been clearly demonstrated by the fact that the strikers succeeded in broadening their demands: in most occupied universities, it's not just the withdrawal of the LRU, but also the defence of the special pensions' arrangements, the rejection of the Hortefeux Law and of Sarkozy's policy of "immigrants of choice", the rejection of the medical exemptions and of all the attacks of the government against the whole of the working class that's included in their platform of demands. They have supported the need for SOLIDARITY to unify the workers' struggles against the corporatist divisions and against ‘negotiations' advocated by the unions conducted company by company, sector by sector. The students have given a living expression to this solidarity. Hence, several hundred students in Paris and elsewhere have participated in the rail workers' demonstrations (particularly on 13th and 14th November) in the struggle against the threat to the special pensions' provisions. In some towns (Rennes, Caen, Rouen, Saint-Denis, Grenoble), this solidarity from the young generations of the working class has been warmly welcomed by the rail workers who have invited them to participate in their general assemblies and have conducted some joint actions with the students (like those at the exits of the motorways where students and workers have allowed cars to pass freely through the toll booths while explaining the aims behind their actions). Hence, today there are some students and some rail workers who reflect, discuss, act and eat together. In some universities (run by human beings and not by hysterical hyenas who hunt with the wolves), students have united with teachers and administrative workers, like in Paris 8 -Saint-Denis.
The proletarian nature of the students' struggle is further confirmed by the fact that having occupied the universities, the students aren't content to be there to hold general assemblies and conduct political debates open to all who want to participate (yes, Madame Pécresse, humans are gifted with language and they communicate politically, unlike the apes, as demonstrated by researchers, working in the ‘centres of excellence'!). On some campuses, striking students have used the facilities to invite in immigrants without identity papers.
And it is because this active solidarity risks spreading further, that the Sarkozy/Fillon government (and its ‘iron ladies', Pécresse, Alliot-Marie, Dati and other "Mi-putes, Mi-soumises"["hangers-on"?] has decided to send in its cops to recover control from the working class. The French bourgeoisie wants the same policy as Thatcher had. It wants to outlaw all solidarity strikes, like in Great Britain, so it will have its hands free to launch even more brutal attacks in 2008 after the municipal elections. And it is in the current test of strength and the use of repression that the dominant class and its strongman, Sarkozy, are attempting to impose the ‘democratic' order of capital.
The movement of solidarity the students and some rail workers are engaged in shows that the lessons of the struggle against the CPE haven't been forgotten despite the deafening electoral campaign of the recent presidential election. The solidarity between the students in struggle and a section of the workers from the SNCF and the RATP shows the way forward. Every worker, employed or unemployed, French ‘by birth' or ‘immigrant', public sector as much as private sector, must get involved. It is the only way of building a balance of forces against the bourgeoisie's attacks and its decadent system that has only one future to offer the new generation: unemployment, precarious working, poverty and repression (today, the batons and teargas, tomorrow the bullets!)
If in 2006 French Security Chief, Sarkozy, didn't send in the CRS against the students occupying their places of education, it's not because he had less moral scruples this time round. It was basically because he was a candidate for the presidency and didn't want to lose support from that part of the electorate in education in the universities. Now that he has his electoral mandate, he wants to show muscle and to rule in the name of the whole French bourgeoisie who still find it hard to accept the withdrawal of the CPE in 2006 (didn't he show his true colours the day after the election declaring: "the State mustn't back down"?). He wants to show the clique of Villepin that he will not back down himself (because as Raffarin said, "the street mustn't rule"). The cynicism of the public announcement, in the name of ‘transparency', that his salary would increase by 140%, at the same time as his intransigence in all the attacks against the living standards of the working class, is a real provocation. In rolling his shoulders, and ‘thumbing his nose' at the working class, the message he wants to send is: "it is unacceptable to challenge the privileges of the bourgeoisie. I have been elected by the French electorate, which gives me ‘carte blanche' to do what I want!" But beyond the personal interests and ambitions of this sinister individual, it is the whole capitalist class that Sarkozy represents: force is the law of capital. The ‘arm wrestling' with the rail workers has one single purpose: to inflict a crushing defeat on the whole working class by erasing the sentiment that was left by the movement against the CPE, that only struggle pays. That is why Sarkozy has no intention of giving way to the rail workers and that he wants to transform the universities into policed fortresses.
But what comes out of the ‘arm wrestling' between the government of Sarkozy/Fillon/Pécresse and the working class, is that the struggle has already begun to pay: the expression of solidarity between rail workers and the students that has begun to draw other parts of the working class (particularly the workers in the universities) behind it, will mean there is a lasting trace of consciousness, just as in the struggle against the CPE. Like all workers' struggles that have an international effect, it is a step on the way to the future overthrow of capitalism. The main gain of the struggle is the struggle itself, it is the experience of the living and active solidarity of the working class on road towards its emancipation, and towards the emancipation of the whole of humanity.
All workers, ‘French' and immigrant, public and private sector; students in college and school; the unemployed: there is one common combat against the government attacks! Down with the police state! Against the terror of capital, for the solidarity of the whole working class!
Sofiane (17 November 2007)