This article tries to get a better understanding of the present social situation in France, which has been marked by a retreat in the class struggle since 2010. But because, as it says in the article, “the proletariat has no country: everywhere it wages the same struggle, in all countries it is one and the same class. The defeats or the victories of one part of the proletariat in this or that corner of the globe are defeats or victories for the proletariat as a whole on world scale, and according to its outcome each struggle ends up either denting the confidence of the whole class or arousing its enthusiasm”. The dynamic of the class struggle is studied here in its historical and international dimension, with all the elements of interdependence that this implies. The social movement in France has an impact on the workers of all countries, just as the movement across the world influence the situation in France. As we will see, this international dimension of the proletarian struggle is well known to the bourgeoisie, which in the face of its mortal enemy, the proletariat, is capable of going beyond its national divisions in order to coordinate its efforts and come to each other’s aid.
Since the movement against pension reform in 2010, four years ago, there hasn’t been any struggle on the same scale in France. However, there is no lack of reasons to fight. Caught in the crossfire between the economic crisis and government attacks, living conditions have continued to deteriorate. Lay-offs, austerity plans and factory closures have hit new heights (63,100 enterprises closed in 2013, reaching the previous record of 2009); every worker has to carry out more tasks with less colleagues and deplorable resources, while being subject to an immense moral pressure making them feel guilty and harassed; social benefits are melting away like snow in the sunshine; thousands of unemployed workers are deprived of benefits on the smallest pretext; taxes of all kinds are shooting upwards. Even more than the material attacks on the proletariat, the bourgeoisie’s contempt for the workers which it treats like cattle is becoming unbearable. The situation is disgusting and should give rise to something much greater than anger: indignation! So why this dreary social landscape? And it’s even worse: for some months now, the only demonstrations in the headlines are those mobilising the bourgeoisie and the petty bourgeoisie, calling for a retreat into regionalism and spitting hatred towards homosexuals, Jews, women who have abortions…
To try to understand this situation, without entertaining pretty illusions or falling into despair, to confront the real difficulties of the struggle against capitalism – that should be the attitude of all those who want to contribute to the dawn of a new world. The words of Rosa Luxemburg uttered in to the insurrectionary workers of Berlin in January 1919 should be a source of inspiration to us:
“I think it is healthy to have a clear sight of all he difficulties and complications of his revolution. Because i hope that, no more than it is for me, this description of the great difficulties and tasks mounting up will not have a paralysing effect on you: on the contrary, the greater the task, the more we will bring together all our forces!” 1
Stalinism’s second stab in the back
Stalinism was the gravedigger of the proletarian revolution of 1917. When the German government had drowned in blood the insurrections of 1919, 1921 and 1923, the proletariat in Russia was totally isolated: the counter-revolution could then advance inexorably towards complete victory. But his triumph for the bourgeoisie did not take the form of a military conquest by the white armies, like the Versaillais who crushed the Paris Commune in 1871. It came from the ‘inside’, behind the red mask of a Bolshevik party which had gradually degenerated and then betrayed the working class.
This was a real historical tragedy, not just because the victory of the counter-revolution meant the deportation or massacre of millions of fighters who had remained faithful to the combat of 1917, but also because these crimes were perpetrated in the name of communism. The greatest lie in history – Stalinism equals communisms- was a terrible ideological poison injected into the veins of the workers. It made it possible to create a monstrous deformation of the proletarian struggle for the emancipation of humanity. For all those taken in by this shameful lie, what did the choice seem to be? Either to carry on claiming adherence to communism by defending, either blindly or ‘critically’, the ‘fatherland of socialism’, the USSR, and all its crimes; or to reject the USSR, the Russian revolution and the whole history of the workers’ movement without distinction. This was Stalinism’s first stab in the back.
And the second? It was carried out when the USSR collapsed. An enormous campaign was mounted at the beginning of the 1990s: the death of communism and even the ‘end of history’ were declared2 The same message was dinned into people’s heads again and again: the revolutionary struggle of the working class leads to the most terrible barbarism. So, “to the dustbin with Marx, Engels and Lenin since they were just Stalin’s forebears! To the dustbin the lessons of the workers’ struggles throughout history because they could only give birth to a monster! Long live eternal capitalism!” The sociologists and other experts came along with their own little contribution to this by adding that, in any case, the working class no longer existed in Europe or the USA because industry had almost disappeared: blue collars and the 1848 Communist Manifesto were just relics.
We should never underestimate the huge destructive power of this ideology. The workers of this or that sector, the unemployed, the pensioners, young workers in insecure jobs....found themselves atomised in the 1990s because there was no visible working class with which to identify. They were without a future because the fight for a better world was officially impossible, and without a past because reading books about the history of the workers’ movement taught you only that class struggle leads to the horror of Stalinism. Despair, the feeling of ‘no future’, loneliness thus made a great leap forward, just as feelings of solidarity and militancy took a leap backwards. Lacking any perspective, the social fabric began to decompose and is still decomposing3.
Thus the dynamic of struggle that was born with the proletarian earthquake of May 1968 and which had spread across the whole world was broken in 1990-91. The bourgeoisie had managed to convince the proletariat that it didn’t exist, that there never had been a revolution and never would be4.
The Machiavellianism of the ruling class
The bourgeoisie is the most Machiavellian, manoeuvring ruling class in history. And if the Paris Commune of 1871 and above all the Russian revolution of 1917 have taught it one thing, it is that it needs to everything it can to prevent the proletariat from affirming its historic perspective. A brief summary of the manoeuvres and traps set up by the bourgeoisie towards the workers of France since the 1990s is very enlightening about the way this class is constantly preoccupied with blocking the development of consciousness in the proletariat by tirelessly exploiting its mortal enemy’s main weakness – not knowing what it is, the loss of its identity:
In 1995, the French bourgeoisie took advantage of the disorientation among the workers in order to refurbish the image of its most loyal guard-dogs, the trade unions. Since it knew perfectly well that it was impossible at that point for the workers to take control of their own struggles given the weakness of class consciousness, the French bourgeoisie artificially created a massive movement by simultaneously launching two attacks: a very broad one that affected everyone (the Juppé plan on social security) and a specific one (against the ‘privileged’ status of the railway workers), which was very obviously a provocation. This was calculated to allow the unions to look as if they were, this time, united, militant and radical. To what end? Given the increasing wearing out of the unions and the defiance shown towards them by the workers after 35 years of sabotaging social movements from May 68 and the struggles which followed in the 70s and 80s, it was important for the bourgeoisie to provide a new and more positive image for its organs for controlling the working class, to restore the workers’ confidence in them. This is why, faced with this cardboard cut-out movement, the Juppé government pretended to be shaking in its shoes and officially withdrew the attacks. The trade unions had their victory and the message got through: struggle pays if and only if you follow your unions like sheep5. Because there is nothing more dangerous for the bourgeoisie than workers starting to think and organise for themselves.
In 2003, the social atmosphere had changed. The bourgeoisie came up with the same trick: two simultaneous attacks, a general one (yet another reform of pensions) and a particular one (suppression of thousands of jobs in national education). But the government played it differently this time. The manoeuvre was a simple one: hide the attack on the retired, which affected the whole working class, by harassing a specific sector with a specific measure. And here the unions, whose credibility had been improved by the manoeuvre of 1995, came onto the scene. Pushing the question of pensions into the background, they put forward the particular demands of the workers in national education. Thus, the sector of the working class that was most directly affected, instead of being the locomotive of a wider movement, got stuck in the trap of corporatism. The teachers found themselves isolated and powerless. The unions managed to exhaust the most militant elements by dragging them into desperate and sterile actions like the boycott of the end of year exams. And in order to carry out this sabotage, the bourgeoisie took malign pleasure in announcing that not one strike day would be paid . The prime minister at the time, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, could thus come out with a message addressed to the whole working class: “it’s not the street that governs”.
In 2006, the movement against the CPE had not been programmed in advance by the government. On the contrary, it came as a surprise. In its origins, the attack seemed to be a relatively minor one: it was a question of installing a new contract that would make employment for the under 25s a little less secure. However a large portion of the young future proletarians reacted in an unexpected way by taking things in hand through real general assemblies and by refusing to get trapped in a movement of ‘young people’. On the contrary they called for solidarity from other sectors – pensioners, the unemployed etc. This involved some clashes with the student unions who everywhere tried to undermine this push towards the self-organisation and extension of the movement. Demonstration after demonstration took place with more and more members of the working class joining in a completely disinterested way (since the intended reform didn’t affect them directly). They were drawn in by what cements our class together: the feeling of solidarity. The bourgeoisie was intelligent enough to see the danger and immediately withdrew its project in order to put a stop to this dangerous dynamic.
In the following year, 2007, there was still a breath of enthusiasm from these events. The railway workers on the one hand, the high school students and university students on the other, were attacked separately in a targeted manner. Many high school students joined the movement on the railways, and the demonstrations pulled in quite a number of workers from other sectors, the pensioners and the unemployed. At the general assemblies, union leaders were booed and kicked out6. Having said this, because the drive towards solidarity in the working class was not as strong as it had been the year before and the general assemblies remained under the control of the unions, the government did not give in: the attacks went through and the struggle wore out. The price paid by the bourgeoisie to get through the message that ‘struggle doesn’t pay’ was a significant degree of discredit for the unions. But the defeat was not sufficiently bitter for the proletariat as far as the bourgeoisie was concerned. The ruling class could not stop there.
In 2008 and 2009, in Guadeloupe, there was immense anger about the cost of living, The French bourgeoisie then used this militant but isolated proletariat, lacking experience and poisoned by racial divisions between white and black, as laboratory animals to test out its manoeuvres. There followed the biggest workers’ mobilisation in the island’s history, impressive on the quantitative level, but contained from start to finish by the local trade union federation, the LKP. The movement ended up with a few promises about price controls and some short-term assistance, but above all with a considerable exhaustion of militancy. The manoeuvre had worked and could then be tried out on the mainland.
2010 thus saw throughout the year a series of massive demonstrations. Here again here was huge anger over the question of accessing pensions, symbolising a future that looked more and more bleak. But right away the unions took things in hand. In fact, after a number of meetings with the government, their response had been planned well in advance. Month after month at first, and then week after week, they mobilised on a broad scale and got millions of works to turn out for ‘days of action’ each one more sterile than the one before. A very small minority reacted against this by holding general assemblies outside of union control, mobilising a few hundred people and calling for workers to organise themselves. But this call, profoundly correct for the future, could only be a pious wish in the immediate situation, which was marked by very strong union control. In the wake of these days of action, where discussions were forbidden by the union police, where encounters between different sectors of the exploited class was made impossible because of the way the unions split everyone up behind ‘their’ banner, ‘their’ colleagues, where general assemblies were restricted mainly to the union members and divided up sector by sector, enterprise by enterprise, department by department, the result was exhaustion and discouragement and above all a growing feeling of impotence. To complete this work of sabotage, and when the movement was in decline, the unions started getting radical and called for blocking the economy by occupying the supposedly strategic oil refining sector. The most militant workers thus found themselves isolated trying to defend the blockade of ‘their own’ oil refining unit. This manoeuvre, we should recognise, was a significant success for the bourgeoisie because four years later the feeling of impotence generated at the time was such that the social situation today is still marked y an atmosphere of depression.
The timing of this manoeuvre needs also to be looked at. Why this concern to exhaust the militancy of the workers in France at precisely this moment? In the summer of 2007, with the subprime crisis and above all in the autumn of 2008 with the collapse of the Lehman Brothers bank, the world economic crisis went through a sudden aggravation. In Europe, Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain were hit hard, especially by the explosion of unemployment and cuts in public sector wages, while France was relatively spared. And yet it was in France that we saw the first ‘response’ by the trade unions. Why? Through the artificial movement in 2010 which went on to the point of exhaustion, it is quite possible that the bourgeoisie dug a kind of firebreak: feeling the anger and reflection that were developing in the countries hardest hit by the crisis, especially in Spain (a country which also has a long experience of workers’ struggles), it had to wear out this anger in a preventative manner and so discourage the struggle in France. To see a simultaneous struggle by these two neighbouring proletariats would have been very dangerous for the bourgeoisie. In any case, this union manoeuvre by the French bourgeoisie had the effective result of demoralising the workers just before the development of a major social movement on the other side of the Pyrenees. In 2011, when the movement of the Indignados emerged on the Puerta del Sol in Madrid and spread throughout the world, even to Israel, or to the USA under the name of Occupy, it failed lamentably in France since the workers were already down in the dumps. The geographical extension of the Indignados movement towards its nearest class brothers and sisters was thus blocked and the Indignados ended up being isolated...which partly explains why in Spain as well the social situation is very bleak despite the incessant heavy blows of the economic crisis. The proletariat has no country: everywhere it wages the same struggle, in all countries it is one and the same class. The defeats or the victories of one part of the proletariat in this or that corner of the globe are defeats or victories for the proletariat as a whole on world scale, and according to its outcome each struggle ends up either denting the confidence of the whole class or arousing its enthusiasm. This is why the bourgeoisie’s success in preventing the movements in France and Spain from converging explains the retreat in struggle since the end of 2011 which goes well beyond the frontiers of these two countries; the isolation of the Indignados movement has also had repercussions on an international scale.
The other reason for this negative dynamic, which is something that was always inscribed in the process of decomposition and of loss of class identity since 1990, is the sinister turn taken by the ‘Arab spring’. The initial social movements in Tunisia and Egypt, with the symbol of the occupation of Tahir Square, even if they were from the start marked by the weakness of inter-classism, were also animated by a wave of indignation and, more concretely, by workers’ strikes. The Indignados movement saw in them a source of inspiration and courage: from the first days of the struggle in Madrid it raised the internationalist slogan ‘From Tahrir Square to Puerto del Sol!’. However, in Libya and Syria where a historically much weaker proletariat was not able to put its mark on the movement, we saw the horrors of civil war and the involvement of regional and international imperialist forces which ended up totally dominating the situation, turning it into a murderous confrontation between rival bourgeois gangs. Egypt in turn, though obviously to a lesser degree, fell into a situation of constant confrontation between bourgeois factions. The apparent message that came from this chain of events, widely broadcast by the media which was very generous with its horrible images, is that the social struggle, the aspiration for dignity and freedom, are dead ends which always end in chaos. And the most recent events in Ukraine confirm this feeling even more. The working class will have to undertake a real effort of reflection in order to understand the real reasons for this degeneration into civil war:
The proletariat has nothing to gain from fighting for bourgeois democracy or a ‘more human capitalism’ because that means fighting to maintain a system of exploitation which can only be barbaric;
It has everything to lose from allowing itself to be dragged behind the confrontation between cliques and gangs of the bourgeoisie;
It has no local, regional, national, communitarian, ethnic or religious interests to defend;
Its struggle is for the abolition of exploitation, of classes and frontiers on a world scale;
Its strength lies through the development of its consciousness and its morality, its self-organisation and international solidarity.
The ideological manoeuvres of the bourgeoisie
The bourgeoisie permanently distils a whole number of lies and subterfuges in order to undermine the capacity for thought and reflection. All the manoeuvres of the French bourgeoisie since the 90s provide evidence of this major weapon of the ruling class faced with its enemy: its intelligence and the strength of its ideological propaganda:
The years which followed the collapse of the USSR were dominated by this ruthless ideological offensive on the death of communism and the ‘end of history’; years in which the lie that Stalinism equals communism was repeated ad nauseam. This was a terrible blow to the workers’ confidence in the struggle for a better world, as we have already seen;
The demonstrations of 2003 as we have also said, showed that there had been a slight change in the social climate in comparison to the ambient despair of the 90s: not only was anger and militancy very strong but even more important people had begun thinking about the evolution of the world situation. The commodification of every human activity, the destruction of the planet and run-away job insecurity were all subjects of concern. The anti-globalisation movement of the 90s, which essentially stood for a nationalist orientation and a fear of the future, mutated into the idea that ‘another world is possible’, animated by a desire to fight against uniformity and standardisation. This evolution is interesting because it reveals a change in the state of mind within the working class. The bourgeoisie had been obliged to adapt, to develop its propaganda in order to keep the workers in its ideological grip and to divert their reflection from discovering the real roots of humanity’s ills: capitalism, exploitation of man by man, class society. Because anti-globalisation, like ‘alternative worldism’ are ideological traps laid by the bourgeoisie to dilute the workers in interclassism, to take them away from revolutionary thought and push them into battles for illusions like more democracy, a more human policy against neo-liberalism, fair trade etc7.
A few years later, from the summer of 2007, the serious aggravation of the crisis pushed the bourgeoisie to adapt its language once again. Traditionally, the dominant discourse on the world economic situation was to deny the gravity of the situation. At the time of the failure of the Lehman Brothers bank in the autumn of 2008, by contrast, all the media, politicians and intellectuals started waving their arms about and shouting catastrophe: the world was facing the threat of no longer going round, the world economy could slide into the abyss of debts and the apocalypse was round the corner. Why this radical change of tone? Why stop hiding the real gravity of the world economic situation and suddenly start dramatising it without limit? Since the economic crisis could no longer be hidden, the bourgeoisie had decided to talk all day about it in order to prevent any independent thought. Above all this alarmist discourse was used in order to justify the “necessary sacrifices”. Here again we have to think about a possibility: the American government and its central bank, the FED, certainly had the financial resources to save Lehman Brothers, but they decided to declare it bankrupt. It is not to be excluded that this was done to unleash a media panic and justify those sacrifices. Increasing the profitability of the American and European national economies had become a vital necessity faced with the growing competition of the ‘emerging countries’, particularly China. In the name of the ‘struggle against the deficit’ a whole number of countries brought in polices based on a drastic reduction of social spending, wage cuts, suppression of jobs in the public sector etc8 . For example today Spain has effectively restored the competitive edge of its national economy and is again exporting.9
The French bourgeoisie has also played this card. Many state employees who have reached the retirement age are not being replaced, wages have been frozen, social assistance reduced, taxes increased. But unlike other neighbouring countries it has not carried out very broad attacks: promised reforms of social security, unemployment benefit, pensions, status of state employees etc have been put off again and again.
This is further proof of the intelligence of the bourgeoisie. The proletariat living in France is, like elsewhere, atomised and does not know that it exists. This said, and the movement of 2006 was a new proof of his, this is an experienced and historically militant proletariat. Even though its consciousness of itself has been terribly weakened, a massive and frontal attack by French capital would risk sparking off an equally massive and frontal social movement. Not only does the French bourgeoisie not want this, its neighbouring bourgeoisies are also afraid of such a thing.
Thus since 2010 and the manoeuvre which demoralised the workers, the ruling class has been trying to maintain this phase of social calm. It constantly attacks living and working conditions but in small packets here and there. While a lion, sure of its strength, hurls itself on a gazelle with one bound, the hyenas, who rely on intelligence and strategy, harass their prey, take small bites, wear it out with patience and precision. Even if each French president dreams of being a lion10, the French bourgeoisie really acts like the hyenas when it comes to the workers. It attacks this or that sector, reduces this or that benefit or increases this or that tax by a few euro, according to the old adage: divide and rule. The bourgeoisie makes the best of its enemy’s weaknesses: since the working class has lost its class identity, since it is living under the reign of social decomposition and of atomisation, it falls on the working class in small groups, and even individual by individual.
The left, which has been in power since the victory of the ‘socialist’ François Hollande in 2012, has once again shown itself to be particularly adept at playing this game, which requires hypocrisy, sneakiness and an ability to instrumentalise decomposition. Not only has it acquired the art of disguising its attacks but has done it under cover of a thick ideological fog. By putting forward its law legalising marriage for all, by making a very public show of opposition to the anti-Semitism of the ‘comedian’ Dieudonné, or by creating a tax which is aimed in particular at small industries, peasants, shopkeepers and artisans, it knows that it has been stirring up the most reactionary elements in society. And it has worked: demos against gays, against Jews, for the ‘defence of the regions’ which claim to unite small bosses and workers under the same ‘red caps’11, it’s all been thrown into the pot.
This is a very effective ideological trap. First it disseminates either these putrefying ideas, or a fear of a dynamic which looks like it is heading towards fascism. Then it creates the illusion that the left is progressive because it is facing up to the most openly reactionary elements. In either case, this increases the disorientation of the working class, its loss of sight of what it is and the social power it represents, by diluting the workers in these inter-classist movements, whether they are pro- or anti- the government.
The international solidarity of the bourgeoisie against the proletariat in France
The French bourgeoisie is thus particularly adroit in the way it undermines the consciousness of the proletariat and derails its thought into dead end. For example, it’s no accident that this was the birthplace of ‘alternative worldism’, which then spread across the globe12. This strength is the fruit of a long experience of confronting its enemy: 1848, 1871 and 1968, to take only a few examples which have in common the fact that they saw the proletariat in France in the forefront of the international struggle that provided an example to its class brothers and sisters the world over.
However, the presence in France of an experienced and militant exploited class also limits the bourgeoisie’s margin for manoeuvre. While it is intelligent enough to try to avoid massive and frontal attacks and to opt for a policy of harassment and a more gradual erosion of living conditions, French capital still needs some major structural reforms if it is to restore its competitive edge on the world market. France is on the verge of becoming the ‘sick man of Europe’, a title given to the UK after the Second World War and to Germany in the 1990s. But these countries have both improved their situation by carrying out deep and brutal attacks under Thatcher and Schröder respectively.
France’s inability to carry out similar attacks worries Germany in particular. It has no interest in seeing the French economy go under , because this would damage the European economic institutions. But more than this, a serious recession in France would imply more factory closures, an explosion of unemployment and drastic austerity, which could provoke a powerful response from the proletariat. There is clearly a dilemma facing French capital: attack massively, with the risk of provoking a revival of struggle, or wait and watch the economy deteriorate...at the risk of provoking a revival of struggle. This is why the German bourgeoisie is looking at how to help France to recover its competitive edge without creating any uncontrolled social movements. German advisers have been heading for the Élysée for months now (for example, the meeting between Hollande and Peter Harz, Schröder’s former adviser and the mind behind all the attack in Germany since 2000 that have been aimed at making jobs less secure and at reducing unemployment benefits). Germany is thus helping the French bourgeoisie to think about how to mount the necessary attacks. In particular, the two countries have to coordinate their planning in order not to make attacks too simultaneously and to avoid provoking anger at the same time on both sides of the Rhine. Just as the bourgeoisie did all it could to avoid potential link-up between the struggles in Spain and France, it is right now concerned about keeping the workers in France and Germany divided by staggering the attacks in a concerted manner. The German bourgeoisie’s support for the French state in its need to carry out attacks began as soon as Hollande won the presidential election: Germany was the first to spread the idea that Hollande was a bit soft and indecisive, a “Flamby”13...thus giving the impression that he would be unable to take bold measures and thus to attack the working class. This image was also consciously popularised by the French bourgeoisie because it will help the government carry out attacks without making its intentions too obvious.
This international solidarity of the bourgeoisie does have its limits. The bourgeoisie is still divided into nations and is engaged in bitter competition on the world market. This competition also takes military form and the tragic proof of this is the imperialist barbarity which has ravaged the planet since 1914. But history has shown one thing: this division ends when it comes to the proletariat. During the Paris Commune, the Prussian army which occupied a part of France was ready to help the Versailles to crush the Communards even though the corpses from the Franco-Prussian war were still warm. In 1917, all the powers came together to help the white armies against the Russian revolution even while the world war was still raging elsewhere. On another level, during the mass strike in Poland in 1980, the democratic bourgeoisies rushed to the aid of the Polish bourgeoisie to help it deal with the proletariat, not militarily, but ideologically: the French CFDT trade union, in particular, played a very important role, using its considerable experience in the sabotage of workers’ struggles to advise the newly formed Solidarnosc trade union to do the same.
The future belongs to the class struggle
To summarise: the proletariat faces a ruling class which is the most Machiavellian in history. Its ideological propaganda and its international unity against the exploited reveal the breadth of the difficulties facing the movement towards revolution. The bourgeoisie above all has the ability to turn the rottenness of its own system against the working class: capitalism has no future to offer, people fear for the future and this engenders the tendency towards irrational thinking or retreating into a corner. The bourgeoisie makes use of these fears, of this retreat, this irrationality to reinforce the atomisation of the workers, to cultivate the feeling of powerlessness and thus to be able to attack them one after the other.
However, the future belongs to the proletarian struggle! The obstacles are huge, but not insurmountable. The bourgeoisie will not stop dividing us, but the proletariat has already proved that the feeling of solidarity runs deep. This is why the movement against the CPE in 2006 was so precious. The government’s attack was aimed solely at those under 25 but hundreds of thousands of workers, pensioners, unemployed, joined the struggle. They were carried along by a strong sentiment of solidarity. This dynamic could come to light to the extent that the movement was organised outside of union control, through real autonomous general assemblies, animated by open debates which could express the real nature of the working class. This movement was a promise for the future, a small seed which can germinate and give rise to magnificent wild flowers. Thus, in order to be able to participate in the movements to come, it’s necessary to have our ears open, to be able to base ourselves on historical experience, on the great lessons of the past, without dogmas and rigid schemas. The destruction of the big industrial units of Europe and the USA, the creation in these areas of many jobs linked to research, administration, services, distribution; the multiplication of short term, intermediate contracts, the total job insecurity of young people and the explosion of unemployment, all this will have a string impact in the way that future struggles will develop and move forward despite all the traps laid by the bourgeoisie. When in New York young people involved in the Occupy movement in 2011 saw that gathering in the street, both to live together and to fight, gave them a feeling of engaging in new social relations, made them recognise that they had been suffering enormously from their isolation in different workplaces where they spent a few weeks, days or even hours, when they weren’t stuck at home without any job at all...without knowing it, they were pointing towards the future, to the importance of living and struggling as part of a social fabric animated by solidarity, by sharing, by real human encounters. The street, as a place to assemble will thus take on a growing importance, not to go on tame processions where we are divided up and deafened by union megaphones, but to debate frankly in autonomous, open general assemblies. In the same way the movement against the CPE in 2006 and of the Indignados in 2011 show just as clearly that ‘precarious’ young people, less scarred by the whole campaign about the death of Stalinism being the death of communism, and more indignant about the future that capitalism has in store for us, will play a decisive role with their enthusiasm, creativity and willingness to struggle. The older workers (retired or still at work) will have the possibility of forging solidarity between the generations and the particular responsibility of transmitting their experience, of helping to anticipate traps which they have experienced themselves in the past. These are just the “broad signposts”, to use Marx’s term, which have begun to appear in recent years, but the creativity of the masses will bring many changes and unexpected discoveries.
1 Cited by Paul Frölich, Rosa Luxemburg, p 347 of the French edition.
2 The American economist and philosopher Francis Fuuyama had a big success when he declared the ‘end of history, i.e. the end of the class struggle, the absolute victory of the ‘liberal world’ (i.e. of capitalism) and a rapid decline in the number of wars. The war in the Gulf in 1990, a few months later after this triumphant proclamation showed the real depth and truth of this great bourgeois visionary
3 Read our ‘Theses on decomposition’, https://en.internationalism.org/ir/107_decomposition
4 Rosa Luxemburg, talking about the revolution a few days before she was murdered by soldiers acting on the orders of the social democrats in power, finished her last text, ‘Order reigns in Berlin’, with a few words underlining the importance of history for the proletariat – of the link between past, present and future, as well as her confidence in the future: “I was, I am, I will be”
5 In fact the Juppé plan was pushed through in its entirely in small packets in the years that followed
6 See ‘Intervention of ICC militants in two rail workers assemblies’, https://en.internationalism.org/wr/310/rail-interventions
8 While at the same time the central banks and the states continued to deal with the debts by pumping more debts into the economy...
9 This is a striking example of the contradictions capitalism faces. The competitive character of the Spanish economy is vital to the economic health of the country and also to put a stop to the financial crisis hitting the EU. Nevertheless Spain’s exports will also contribute to the saturation of the markets and damage neighbouring economies like France.
10 Churchill was often referred to as ‘The last lion’
11 These demonstrators wore the ‘bonnets rouges’ as a symbol of unity
12 The main association representing this current, ATTAC, was formed in France in 1998
13 A Flamby is a kind of sticky caramel flan