The new president of the Republic has finally been elected, this “new man” who is “not part of the system”, Emmanuel Macron.
Macron is promising to “change France” and “reunite the French” in a new national, fraternal concord. He promises to re-launch the French economy and claims to be for European renewal, partisan of a more democratic and economically dynamic euro zone. These of course are all entirely bourgeois concerns. Only the bourgeois class and its representatives can win elections. Democracy is the ideology which hides the dictatorship of capitalism and the totalitarian domination of its state. For more than a century, the electoral terrain has been a trap for the working class. Bourgeois elections are one of the key moments for the ruling class to ensure it gets a government which is in line with its interests, while at the same time intensifying its democratic ideology, through which it tries to make us believe that it’s the majority of the population which governs and makes the decisions. This is the exact opposite of reality. Democracy enables the minority to rule over the majority and the proletariat in particular. It covers up class antagonisms which in reality can’t be reconciled. It turns the revolutionary working class into a sum of individuals, of isolated, atomised, powerless “citizens” and “voters”.
Elections marked by the danger of populism
It’s obvious that the most responsible sectors of the bourgeoisie were very uneasy about the possibility of the Front National coming to power. This is a party which also defends the national interest but at the same time is totally irresponsible and irrational. In this these sectors of the French bourgeoisie were not alone. The German chancellor Angela Merkel and her minister of the economy, Herr Schlaube, didn’t hide their very active support for Macron. Between the two rounds of the presidential election, Merkel declared “I have no doubt that if Emmanuel Macron is elected he will be a strong president”. Not forgetting ex-president of the USA Obama and the European Commission who also made their support for Macron perfectly clear. At the beginning of the campaign, the French bourgeoisie had been counting on two candidates which it saw as being best placed to manage the national capital while keeping out the FN: messieurs Juppé and Macron. However, Juppé’s candidature had from the start been severely compromised. A former prime minister, a member of a party which has been rejected by the majority (the Républicains), a man of the apparatus, he carried a strong risk of failure. This was amply confirmed by the first round of the right wing primaries which saw the surprise victory of François Fillon. In fact, growing sectors of the bourgeoisie were already working more and more openly for the victory of the “new man”, Macron. The active support of the outgoing president, François Hollande, soon became an open secret. The same went for a certain number of key figures in the Socialist Party, which finds itself in a real mess. The same also went for the right wing parties who were equally in crisis. Supported by numerous business men, financiers and industrialists, backed up by a large part of the media, in particular the BFM news channel, the campaign was extremely effective. Macron had to be promoted at any cost!
Why such determination on the part of these sectors of the French and western bourgeoisie? Certainly not in order to defend the interests of the working class! The truth is that these sectors of the ruling class were deeply concerned about the possibility of an FN victory and at the same time they needed to give the illusion that some kind of “renewal” was taking place.
The bourgeoisie is the most Machiavellian class in history
The bourgeoisie is without doubt the most intelligent ruling class in history. It can never completely lose sight of its class interests and of how to defend them. The history of capitalism shows this, whether the bourgeoisie is up against the revolutionary working class or defending its economic and imperialist interests. This is why the rise of populism in most of the western countries is so alarming for it. This anxiety became a priority concern after the victory of Brexit in the UK and Trump in the USA. These are not events which took place in minor countries. Two of the most powerful bourgeoisies in the world were incapable of preventing the electoral victory of populism. The alarm-bells are now ringing on a permanent basis, especially now that populism is threatening to tear the European Union apart. This couldn’t be allowed in France, where there is a powerful populist formation, the FN, which is sapping the bases of the ideological mystifications which the bourgeoisie uses to maintain a certain level of social cohesion (the “Rights of Man”, universal progress, etc). The irrational, backward-looking FN is incapable of providing an adequate ideological stratitjacket since it openly preaches a form of exclusion, declaring that the world is about to go under and that the only thing you can do is to save “our nation”, our “own kind” at the expense of the rest of the planet.
What most worries the more lucid factions of the bourgeoisie is the fact that the populist parties are so ill-adapted for defending the general interests of the national capital. Marine Le Pen’s call for a referendum about leaving the EU or quitting the euro is a very clear example. The populist parties are incapable of understanding what policies need to be pursued. They propose something one day and its opposite the next, and this is true both at the economic and imperialist levels. To prevent the FN coming to power in France became a priority, just as it was to show that the Brexit and Trump victories were not an irreversible phenomenon. The result of the elections in France has brought considerable relief to a large number of major governments. This is why, despite the historical fragility of the bourgeoisie, this election had been a success not only for the ruling class in France but also on the international level, above all in Europe.
The underlying causes of this response by the bourgeoisie
The necessity to react to the rise of populism has its roots in the historic weakening of the ruling class, which includes the main western countries. Underneath this irreversible historic process is the decomposition of the capitalist system. This expresses itself in particular in a growing difficulty to develop a long-term policy, to ensure sufficient cohesion to make it possible to defend the national interest above those of cliques, coteries and personal rivalries. This dynamic has particularly affected the traditional parties which have been at the head of bourgeois states since the end of Second World War. In France, it’s the parties of the traditional right and the Socialist Party which have been most strongly affected, to the point where they have become increasingly marginalised. A large majority of the population no longer wants anything from these parties. Having been running France for decades, they have, each in their turn, done nothing but impose austerity and precarious employment without being able to offer any kind of credible perspective for the future. Gangrened by scandals, clan battles and ego-wars, they have earned disgust and rejection. They made a bed for a form of populism that is particularly strong. This weakening of the most responsible and experienced bourgeois parties is a reality facing the ruling class and it has had the most serious consequences, as we see today in the USA. At the same time there is a need to make new attacks on the working class as soon as possible. Given the urgency of this situation, the discredited traditional parties could no longer do their job. They had become an added factor in the historic weakening of the bourgeoisie. Even if there is no guarantee that the legislative elections in June will give Macron a solid majority, the immense pro-Macron campaign will certainly be continued by the main factions of the French and German bourgeoisies, whatever their genuine economic and imperialist divergences.
Enormous attacks on living standards on the horizon
The bourgeoisie is getting things in place for unprecedented attacks on living and working conditions. This is what Macron has just repeated to the whole of Europe at a recent press conference in Berlin: “I am here to profoundly reform France. I will keep my campaign promises”. The working class has been warned. Macron is going to act in a full-on manner, with no going back. He is proposing to take a series of measures for which workers will pay the cost – some of them to come into effect this summer when many workers will not be at the workplace alongside their class brothers and sisters.
The key word here is generalised flexibility, with the aim of going much further than the El Khomri law. At each workplace, wage levels will be imposed, along with real working hours and conditions for hiring and firing, all in the name of being more competitive. This means a ferocious increase in exploitation. But even that will not be enough. There will also be blows against unemployment insurance. The increase in the CSG (social security contributions) and the intensified policing of the unemployed is part of the programme. As for pensioners, “the sums contributed individually will determine everyone’s pension level”. This is very clear: you will have to work longer for even more miserable pensions, with the guarantees that still remain disappearing rapidly. And Macron also plans to get rid of special regimes. This is his way of “reducing the social fracture” as he put it, paraphrasing former president Chirac. Precarious employment and impoverishment for the employed, the unemployed, for young people and the retired. The whole working class is about to be violently attacked by the French capitalist state.
There is no solution except the class struggle
It’s clear that elections can only be a weapon in the hands of the bourgeoisie. Yesterday Hollande and Sarkozy, today Macron…but for the working class, there is no other perspective but increased exploitation and the degradation of living standards. The bourgeoisie accords no dignity to the lives of the proletarians, or to human life in general. The only things that count are profit and its continued domination. In this Macron can count on other factions of the national bourgeoisie. Mélanchon and his movement have already actively participated in strengthening republican and democratic ideology. In the future they will probably have an even more important role in countering the class struggle. Mélanchon, this old hand of the bourgeois state apparatus, knows this quite well. As do the leftists and the trade unions, especially the CGT and FO, since they are already calling for a “third social round”, which means fully playing their role of boxing in struggles and sabotaging them from within.
For part of the working class, it’s a grave error to think that you can challenge the existing order and hold off the impending attacks by getting pulled into a reactionary populist revolt, which sets worker against worker. Equally dangerous is supporting the “democratic” anti-populist forces. A small number of young people in demos at the end of the first round of the election raised the slogan “Neither Marine nor Macron, neither Fatherland nor Boss”. Whatever confusions might go along with it, and whatever difficulties face the proletariat today at the level of its consciousness and its fighting spirit, this slogan carries the seeds of the class struggle and the necessity to affirm the perspective of another kind of society. The communist revolution remains the only realistic way to construct a truly human society, without classes and without exploitation. And this means consciously confronting the bourgeoisie, its democracy, and all its different factions.