France

May 68 (part 5): The international resurgence of revolutionary forces

Following May 68 new groups appeared that drew on the experience of the communist left. In fact, the elements who understood that Trotskyism had become a sort of left wing of Stalinism turned much more towards councilism than towards the Italian Left. There were several reasons for this.

March '08

Last autumn, at the height of the movement against the law on the ‘Liberties and Responsibilities of Universities'(1), 36 universities were ‘disrupted' (in the journalists' terminology) by picket lines, blockades or occupations. These methods have often provoked long and passionate debates inside the general assemblies. (GAs). Let's leave to one side the groups who oppose any ‘disruptions' to the colleges,

Struggles in France: Government and unions hand-in-hand against the working class

The strike of transport workers (SNCF and RATP) which ended November 22 (and which unfolded simultaneously with the struggle of students against the law of "autonomy of the universities" aiming to accentuate the inequalities between working class students and those from the bourgeoisie) constituted the first significant response of the working class in France against the attacks of the government of Sarkozy/Fillon/Pecresse and associates.

Workers in France respond to the offensive of the ruling class

According to our rulers, the struggle between the working class and the bourgeoisie is an outmoded idea. So when workers, fed up with the continuing attack on their living standards, engage in strikes or demonstrations to defend themselves, they are invariably portrayed as narrow-minded, backward looking, and above all selfish interest groups who just don't understand the need for ‘reforms'...

Against government attacks, we all have to fight together!

In the name of ‘a fairer society' Sarkozy and his billionaire buddies have the nerve to ask us to accept the suppression or alteration of ‘special pension regimes' and to make everyone work 40 years for their pension. What the railway workers, the RATP employees, the gas and electrical workers are demanding was expressed clearly in their general assemblies: they don't want ‘privileges', they want 37 and half years for everyone!

How ‘worker’ and ‘student’ unions undermine the struggle

As we have already shown in our press, the attacks being imposed on the transport, electricity and other workers around the ‘special pension regimes' are just the first stage of an assault on the conditions of the working class as a whole. Tomorrow, the pensions of all workers will be put into question. At the same time, the new medical charges are part of a wider attack on social benefits.

Intervention of ICC militants in two rail workers’ assemblies

On Monday 19 November, in a large provincial town, a small group of students who had been to our last public meeting took a delegation of older politicised workers, members of the ICC, to two railway workers' general assemblies. Since the unions had taken care to divide up the assemblies into different sectors, our comrades split up to speak at the two assemblies: one of the station staff and one of the drivers.

French elections: Don’t be afraid of the attacks, fight back!

It’s back to harsh reality for the working class after months of an intense barrage of propaganda pushing them towards the ballot box, with glittering illusions about ‘a change’, ‘a break’ through the election. And for what? The Sarkozy government has taken office and set to work, and the bourgeoisie does not even need to wait for the legislature to announce the future which they have in store for workers: attacks and ever more attacks...

Airbus, Alcatel: once again the unions are there to sabotage workers’ struggles

This article first appeared in the April issue of Revolution Internationale. It describes a situation in which, following some initial spontaneous reactions by Airbus workers in France (and Germany) to the announcement of massive redundancies across Europe, the trade unions had resumed control of the situation through a series of classic manoeuvres. However, as can be seen from a follow-up article, translated from the May issue of RI (‘Spontaneous walk-outs at Airbus: the workers make their voices heard’) the unions have by no means exhausted the anger of the workers or their capacity to respond to further attacks by the company by taking their struggle into their own hands.

One year after the riots, capital strengthens its police arsenal

In France recently, there has been a huge amount of media publicity about the ‘anniversary’ of last year’s riots in the banlieues(1) There’s been a lot of speculation about whether it’s all going to kick off again, and TV coverage of tough police raids in various tower blocks – often showing that the police have come to the wrong door and ended up terrorising innocent mums and kids.

Theses on the spring 2006 students' movement in France

These Theses were adopted by the Congress of the ICC's section in France while the movement was still under way - they place the movement in its historical context and show that, in comparison with May 68, it represents a potentially far deeper development in the consciousness and organisation of the working class.

In France, students mobilise against the CPE: All together in the struggle against capitalism!

University and high-school students, future unemployed, future part-time or temporary workers: All together in the struggle against capitalism!

Since early February, despite being dispersed by the school holidays, university and high-school students have mobilised in most of France’s major cities to express their anger at the government and the bosses’ economic attacks, and against the CPE (Contrat Première Embauche). And this is happening despite the blackout by the media  (especially by the television), which have preferred instead to focus their attention on the sinister exploits of the "Barbarian gang".

Editorial: Riots or revolution?

In recent years world capitalism has supposedly been battered by widespread popular struggles particularly in what the bourgeoisie likes to call the “developing world”. It is high time that revolutionary marxists contrast this chimera of revolution with the authentic movement of social transformation that is usually starved of media attention: the class struggle of the world proletariat.

Riots in the French suburbs: In the face of despair, only the class struggle offers a future

If the young of the suburbs are rebelling by using totally absurd methods today, it’s because they are sunk in a profound despair. In April 1981, in Brixton, a poor area of London with a large immigrant population, the young people who had rebelled in a similar way daubed the walls with the slogan ‘No Future’. It’s this feeling of ‘No Future’ which hundreds of thousands of young people are feeling today in France, as in many other countries.

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Editorial: Class struggle, not the vote, will decide humanity's future

All the forces of the bourgeoisie, the left, the right, the far right and the extreme left, not to mention the trades unions, all came together in the grand electoral orchestra, whether in France and Holland for the referendums on the European constitution, for the parliamentary elections in Britain, or the Länder elections in North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany's most heavily-populated region).

Anarcho-syndicalism faces a change in epoch: the CGT up to 1914

"In Western Europe revolutionary syndicalism in many countries was a direct and inevitable result of opportunism, reformism, and parliamentary cretinism. In our country, too, the first steps of "Duma activity" increased opportunism to a tremendous extent and reduced the Mensheviks to servility before the Cadets (...) Syndicalism cannot help developing on Russian soil as a reaction against this shameful conduct of 'distinguished' Social-Democrats". These words of Lenin's, which we quoted in the previous article in this series, are wholly applicable to the situation in France at the beginning of the 20th century. For many militants, disgusted by "opportunism, reformism, and parliamentary cretinism", the French Confédération générale du Travail (General Confederation of Labour - CGT) served as a beacon for the new "self-sufficient" (to use the words of Pierre Monatte) and "revolutionary" syndicalism.

ICC leaflet: A battle has been lost, but not the class war

For more than 6 weeks the working class in France has been engaged in struggles of a breadth unknown for quite some years. Hundreds of thousands, even millions of workers from a whole number of sectors have been out on strike and demonstrating in the streets. However, despite this massive militancy, the movement has not succeeded: the government is about to push through the law on pensions, which has been the main focus of workers' anger. What's more, to make it clear who's the toughest, the government has announced that there will be no 'presents' for the strike days lost: they will be fully deducted from the workers' pay, in contrast to what it has done before after movements of this kind. Its aim is clear: it wants the whole working class to know that 'there is no point in struggling', that we have to draw in our belts without complaining, otherwise things will be even worse. Faced with the capitalist attacks, struggle is necessary

France: ICC intervention in the pensions struggle

When the working class in France responded to the unprecedented attack represented by the pension 'reforms', it was vital for revolutionaries to be present both in the demonstrations and amongst the various sectors in struggle, in particular the workers in national education. The ICC's intervention in the demonstrations

Strikes on French railways

There has been a real development of workers' militancy in recent weeks. Strikes have broken out in all sorts of places against the violent attacks directed at the working class. Numerous sectors have been affected: private and public, industry and sed public, industry and services. To refer only to the ones that got some mention in the daily press: the strike at Alcatel against 12,000 job cuts; the strike at Elf in Pau against the plan to get rid of 1250 jobs; strikes at Nice airport against the introduction of short-term contracts; a series of strikes against the introduction of the 35-hour week; at Elf Atochem, at Cegetel, but also in cleaning firms; in bus companies, food and distribution. Walk-outs at Peugeot against the new shifts involved in the 35-hour week. The TV and the daily papers have said nothing about these last struggles. Or about the numerous strikes that have been breaking out on an almost daily basis in the hospitals and the postal service against job cuts and worsening conditions of work.

For or against the veil in French schools

With the business of wearing the veil (hijab) in school, and all the debates, demonstrations and protests around whether pupils should be able to display visible signs of belonging to a religion, the French bourgeoisie has set in motion a campaign aimed at attacking the consciousness of the working class. From the right to the left and the extreme left, each of them has their own verse for or against, more or less for and more or less against, etc. The media, politicians, associations, organisations of Muslims, Jews or Christians, all participate in what they are calling a "great citizens' debate on secularity". In fact, contrary to the so-called cacophony that reigns in "French society" on this subject, all are going in the same direction: that of creating a maximum of confusion in the heads of the workers, the better to chain them to the bourgeois state and make them accept their lot.

Class struggles in France, spring 2003: the massive attacks of capital demand a mass response from the working class

Faced with the head-on attack on pensions in France and Austria, all sectors of the working class have joined the struggle with a determination unknown since the end of the 1980s. In France, weeks of repeated demonstrations brought together hundreds of thousands of workers from both public and private sector: 1½ million workers were in streets of the main cities in France on the 13th May, almost one million took part in a single demonstration in Paris on the 25th May, and on the third of June 750,000 more people mobilised...

Leftism in France: 10 years on

Far from being an expression of the petty bourgeoisie or an ‘activist', ‘centrist', or ‘opportunist' proletarian current, the leftist movement is part of capital's left front. There is nothing proletarian or revolutionary about either Trotskyism or Maoism. On the other hand, they share any number of basic agreements with Stalinism and social democracy even if they may differ on secondary, tactical questions.

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