France

Just over 25 years after its foundation, the European Union looks like it could be falling apart under the weight of its own contradictions. Everywhere you look, the major parties are coming under increased pressure due to the heightening of the class struggle as a result of 10 years of crisis. This has meant that, in one country after another, the ruling class can no longer rule in the old way.

In France, hundreds of thousands of people have participated since mid-November in the yellow vests movement to protest against the rise in fuel taxes and, in general, against the ever-increasing cost of living. This movement is the inevitable result of a palpable economic crisis, and the brutal austerity imposed by the current government.

The mobilisation of the gilets jaunes (“yellow vests”) protest movement marks an important step in the development of the class struggle in France. With no party, no union, and no pre-existing organisation, hundreds of thousands of people have participated in this movement against a tax increase on diesel and petrol, sweeping aside the pseudo-concessions and threats of the government. They are supported by a large majority of the population.

On 17 October 1961, between 200 and 300 Algerians and French citizens of Algerian origin, demonstrating against a curfew imposed on them by Paris Prefect of Police, Maurice Papon, were killed and thrown into the Seine by the police. 40 years later, few people know of this pogrom, which was perpetrated in full view of Paris, with the authority of the prefect, who was himself abetted by the highest levels of the state.

Sud Poste 92

We received this appeal for solidarity from the French postal workers of Hauts-de-Seine (Paris) who are fighting against the victimisation of their shop steward.

The railway workers' strike has encouraged other sections of the working class (and also the students) to mobilise. Refuse collectors, Air France workers, civil servants, lawyers, postal workers, hospital workers and care workers assisting the elderly (among others) are gearing up for action, and every day new layers are joining the fight. The ‘convergence of struggles’ is no longer just a slogan; it has become a fact.

UPDATE: We have just been informed of the good news that the students have been released, but the fact they were arrested to begin with is still a scandal. Yesterday, 9 April, University of Nanterre management called two units of the CRS [Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité: general reserve of the French National Police] to violently expel 100 students gathered in a General Assembly. Seven students were arrested. Six were remanded in custody, including our comrades Andreas Coste and Victor Mendez. It is clear that the arrests targeted student activists at the university. 

The latest issue of Révolution (French organ of the IMT) will be published in the wake of a social movement that could mark a turning point in the correlation of forces between our camp (the youth and workers) and the bosses, of which Macron’s government is the executive body. A rail strike, starting from 3 April, will be the focal point of the struggle. But, both for us and for our enemies, the significance of this strike goes beyond the fate of the SNCF [Société nationale des chemins de fer français: France’s national state-owned railway company] and its employees.

Following amendments to the labour code (adopted in September 2017) that made it easier to fire workers, Macron’s government is now lashing out at the unemployed with a counter-reform to the unemployment insurance system. ‘Negotiations’ with the trade unions should conclude in mid-February. The law is scheduled to be adopted this summer.

Laurent Wauquiez was elected leader of The Republicans (Les Républicains,LR) on 10 December, by a wide margin (74.6 percent) in the first round of voting. The low voter turnout (42 percent of paying members) shows that the stakes were limited: the new shift to the right had already been acknowledged by the party’s rank and file.

On 23 September, Mélenchon’s France Insoumise (Rebellious France) organised a massive rally of over 100,000 in Paris against the austerity programme of the Emmanuel Macron government. Jérôme Métellus, editor of Révolution (the journal of the IMT in France), outlines what the Left and the Trade Unions in France should do next in the struggle to bring down Macron.

Since being elected Macron - the poster-boy of European liberalism and the self-described Jupiterian president - has seen his popularity steadily decline as his electoral facade crumbles away. A majority of French voters (57%) are now “dissatisfied” with the President's performance, making these approval ratings the lowest for any incoming president, after four months, since 1995.

57,4 % des inscrits ne se sont pas rendus aux urnes, hier, pour le deuxième tour des élections législatives (contre 51,3 % au premier tour). Ce n'est pas surprenant : dans bon nombre de circonscriptions, les électeurs n'avaient plus le choix qu'entre « bonnet blanc » et « blanc bonnet », sous diverses étiquettes (LREM, LR ou même PS).