France

The New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) was set up in France, supposedly as an alternative to both the Communist and Socialist parties. The leaders of these two parties had shifted more and more towards market orientated policies. In reality the leadership of the NPA also suffer from the same illness, in that they believe that in order to be successful on the electoral front they must tone down the Communist and revolutionary content of this new party. That is not what many genuine revolutionary militants were expecting from the NPA.

Sarkozy lost his glossy image some time ago. But now he is exposed in the eyes of all. After all his bragging about his own extravagant lifestyle, he is attacking the living standards of pensioners, workers, students and the unemployed. The mood in France is an angry one. If the leaders of the left and the trade unions were to mobilise the workers, this government could be brought down relatively easy.

Last week in France around two million workers came out onto the streets to express their anger at the latest government attacks on pensions. The union leaders hope to hold the movement at this level, i.e. of formal protest but no strike movement. But the workers are looking for more than this, as the growing discontent in the ranks of the labour movement clearly indicates.

On January 30th a successful meeting was held in Paris to launch a network of PCF members who want to struggle to bring back the ideas of Marxism into the French Communist Party. Lessons of the past were discussed and conclusions drawn on what are now the next steps that need taking. Speaking at the meeting was also Alan Woods, editor of Marxist.com and a comrade representing the Marxists in the Italian PRC.

Last week mass demonstrations involving more than 2.5 million people took place in France. In the face of constant attacks by Sarkozy on the working class the trade union leaders have attempted to hold the movement back, preferring a series of government “consultations”, but the pressure from below is becoming unstoppable. A new period of militant class struggle is opening up.

At the end of January French students were out of the classroom and back on the streets. On January 29, students and teaching staff joined in the national strike that had an estimated 2.5 million French workers marching in the major cities to prove to President Sarkozy that his provocative remark in the summer of 2007- ‘These days, when there’s a strike in France, nobody notices,’ was as wrong as it was rash. [This article was originally published on February 9.]

An examination of the results of the recent vote in the different federations of the French Communist Party indicates a sharp shift to the left in the thinking of the membership since the previous congress. And the vote for the Marxists confirms this process.

PCF members have voted on which of the three alternative documents should be the base of discussion at the coming party congress in December. The document written by the comrades of La Riposte, "Renforcer le PCF, renouer avec le marxisme", obtained a resounding success which went beyond any expectations: 5419 or 15.04% of the total valid votes.

We are delighted to announce the launching of the Renforcer le PCF, renouer avec le marxisme website, whose aim is to promote a Marxist programme in the forthcoming congress of the Communist Party and to collect the required number of signatures. Watch also a video of Greg Oxley, member of the PCF and editor of La Riposte, speaking on the current programme of the PCF (in French).

Alan Woods went to Paris in May 1968 seeking contact with revolutionary workers and youth. He describes here what he encountered, the mood, and the discussions with workers and students. He explains how the workers were looking for leadership but never found it, neither in the ultra-left groups, nor in the Stalinist leadership that betrayed them.

May 1968 was the greatest revolutionary general strike in history. This mighty movement took place at the height of the post-war economic upswing in capitalism. Then, as now, the bourgeois and their apologists were congratulating themselves that revolutions and class struggle were things of the past. Then came the French events of 1968, which seemed to drop like a thunderbolt from a clear blue sky. They took most of the Left completely by surprise, because, they had all written off the European working class as a revolutionary force.

Last Sunday's first round in the French local elections confirmed a widespread shift to the left, with Sarkozy losing significant support. The Socialist Party did well, as did forces that stand to its left. Here we wish to highlight the Marxist candidates standing for the PCF in the area around Toulouse, who significantly boosted the party's vote.

How do you lose £3.7 billion? Down the back of the sofa? Meet Jérôme Kerviel. He lost £3.7 billion of his employer’s money, Société Générale, a French bank. Is it actually a good argument for capitalism that the whole world can be screwed up because of a solitary rogue trader? Is the system really so precarious that one crook can send world financial markets into freefall?

Sarkozy is consciously provoking some of the big battalions of the French labour movement. His strategy is clear: take on the strong sections of the class and, counting on the weak trade union leaders, smash them in order to prepare the ground for an all-out attack on the rest of the class. The stakes are high. With a bold, militant leadership the workers could win.