France, 4 April, 2006: Long live the struggle of the students, young people and the workers against the vicious attack of the government and the bosses! In order to defeat the CPE and labor flexibilisation, and end the slavery of the working class and its youth the workers and exploited people must send the imperialist Fifth Republic of Chirac-Villepin-Sarkozy, the imperialist state, and the union bureaucracy, to the rubbish bin of history/ Is necessary to make France a Baghdad every night and day, and Paris a Commune!
Indefinite General Strike!
An enormous struggle of the masses shakes imperialist France. On the days of the 7, 16, 18 and 28 of March, university and secondary school students, young workers of the "Cités" - the workers neighborhoods – and the education and public sector workers, and to a lesser extent of the private sector, took to the streets in their millions in all the cities of France, confronting the government of President Chirac and Prime Minister Villepin responsible for the vicious attack on young workers with the "First Job Contract" (CPE) and other measures combined in the cynically named "equal opportunity law".
This law, passed by parliament and promulgated by Chirac [though suspended until a new law is passed], allows the bosses to make young workers under 26 years of age work without rights and protection from dismissal; to make 14 year-olds into apprentices, and 15 year olds work at night, among other measures. It is the imposition of a true slavery onto the whole generation of young workers. This ruthless attack is an example of what the French imperialist bourgeoisie has to do to defeat to its own working class and enable it to embark on new adventures and wars to win new markets, zones of influence, oil fields and other resources from the ex-workers states like China and Russia, in competition with US imperialism.
It is not accidental that French imperialism is going on the offensive against its own working class. It must defeat it not only to extract more profits at home, but also in its intense rivalry with US imperialism. French imperialism is now embarked on a bitter competition with US imperialism for the repartition of the global economy. The US has stolen a march in Iraq and subordinated Britain, Italy and Spain. The French imperialists have responded by taking the initiative to bully Iran over nuclear weapons in the hope of winning a share of the spoils of any war against that country. It has stopped US corporates from privatising French state assets such as Gas France. Chirac recently threatened to use France’s nuclear arsenal against any threat to “the integrity of the territory, the protection of the population and the free exercise of the sovereignty” of France, its strategic supply lines and its “allied countries”. (Clarin, March 2006).
This attack on youth jobs at home is clearly linked to the policies of French imperialism abroad. But it has met a strong response from the students, workers and the exploited young people in the migrant communities. The university students were first into the trenches to lead the counter-attack, occupying or blockading 60 out of the 80 universities in France, confronting the riot police who forced the evacuation of he Sorbonne – the symbol of May 1968.
But the movement took a leap forward on March 16 when the mobilization of the students was joined by the young workers of the suburbs, the new generation of the French proletariat whose heroic rebellion of October-November of 2005 was a ‘curtain-raiser’ for the current struggle of the masses. Those that came to the aid of the students were those young workers who had risen to the shout of "Every night we make Paris a Baghdad". Fighting for work, decent wages and freedom, but abandoned and isolated by the privileged workers and the labor bureaucracy of the unions and their parties, they were ruthlessly repressed with almost 800 imprisoned many deported and more than 4000 put under police supervision.
With the powerful energy of young workers - one of the most oppressed sectors of the French proletariat - the struggle took a big step forward. Then the secondary students began to join in large numbers, mainly from the "Cités". The massive mobilization of Saturday 18 of March, saw more than a million students, workers and youth unite across the country, proving that the fight against the CPE was becoming a struggle of the whole French working class, indeed a political fight of the masses.
The shout of "Drop the CPE now or indefinite general strike” raised by hundreds of thousands of workers and students in the streets of Paris showed clearly that the masses understood perfectly that they could not stop the CPE and the “equal opportunity law” and their other demands, without the credible threat of a general strike. Thus, the enormous mass struggle has put on the order of the day the indefinite general strike to defeat the government of Chirac-Villepin-Sarkozy, along with the imperialistic regime of the Fifth Republic, ending the CPE and all the anti-worker laws, releasing the prisoners from the October-November youth rebellion as well as those arrested in the present struggle, and imposing the demands of the students, young workers and all workers and exploited people.
But between the masses and the general strike there is a large barrier: the union bureaucracy of the CGT, CFDT, FO and of the student union UNEF, along with the social-imperialist parties – the Socialist Party (PS), the Communist Party (PCF) and the pseudo-Trotskyists – all, as we shall prove, the faithful subjects of the imperialist Fifth Republic.
But in spite of all its efforts, the bureaucracy could not prevent the development of the struggle and the convergence on the streets of the students, the young workers of the Cités and other workers. This has forced it to try to take over the leadership of the struggle including the demand for a general strike. But it refuses to make the call for an indefinite general strike.
Thus, the enormous mobilisation of the masses on the 28 of March was not a general strike: it was a day of partial strikes and marches uniting 3 million workers and students all over the country. It was a ‘day of action’ called by the union bureaucracy, the PS and the PCF to prevent a general strike and to put pressure on the government to force them to negotiate. By this means the bureaucracy was responsible for rescuing the government and keeping in power the repressive, anti-worker and imperialist killer of colonial peoples – the Fifth Republic regime!
But this is not the last word on this enormous class struggle that has been unleashed. The bourgeoisie strikes back: it needs to defeat the working class. On the 30 of March, the Constitutional Council ratified the CPE and the "law of equal opportunity". On 31 of March, Chirac announced that he would pass the law with two cosmetic changes - the probationary period would be reduced to one yea, and the employer would have to give a ‘reason’ for dismissing a young worker. But of course the worker cannot use this ‘reason’ to contest the employers right to sack him or her. The amended CPE passed by Chirac is ‘suspended’ while a new law is drafted with the agreement of the student and trades union leaders and then voted on.
Against this subterfuge the students have renewed their opposition. Secondary students in their thousands walked out of school to block the railways and roads; and the occupations of the universities have been maintained. After the speech of Chirac, thousands of young students and workers spontaneously went into the streets of the cities, in particular Paris: they stayed on the streets all night and at dawn gathered in the historical Montmartre - where the Commune of Paris in 1871 began -, and they painted on the walls "Revenge 1871" and " Long live the Commune ".
The union leaders have been forced by this further spontaneous upsurge to call another “day of action” i.e. partial strikes and marches for the 4 of April. But the unions of Air France have already announced that they will strike for 24 hours on 4 April so that the workers can participate in the marches against the CPE. And in response to the union leaders call for another limited ‘day of action’ to pressure the government, the national Coordination of students has called to transform the 4 of April into the beginning of indefinite general strike! And the General Assembly of university in Paris voted to march on Monday 3 April to the headquarters of the CGT (CP led union federation) to demand indefinite general strike!
In the next days and weeks it will be decided in the streets whether or not the treacherous leaders of the workers preventing the general strike, and save the French bourgeoisie, its government and its regime yet again; or, on the contrary, the spontaneous revolutionary energy of the masses can sweep the away the barriers and begin the general strike, "the great day when the oppressed meet their oppressors” - as Leon Trotsky said - that will revive again for the French working class, after almost 40 years since 1968, and 135 years from the insurrection of March 1871, the ‘revenge’ of the glorious Paris Commune, and open the road to revolution.
The present struggle of the masses in France, foreshadowed by the revolt of young workers last October-November, along with a general strike in Belgium, the awakening of sections of the US working class against the war of Iraq, and now the huge mobilizations of more than a million Latino workers in the United States against the new immigration law, is evidence that we have entered a time of renewed struggle of the main battalions of the working class: the proletariat in the imperialist countries.
Long live the struggle of the students, workers and youth against the ferocious attack of the government and the bosses! Unite the militant students, young workers and the whole of the proletariat to demand an indefinite general strike until the CPE and the "law of equal opportunity" is defeated, all the workers demands have been won, and no part of the regime of the Fifth Republic of Chirac-Villepin is left standing, including its class collaborators, the social-imperialist parties and the union bureaucracy!
The labor aristocracy and bureaucracy of the Fifth Republic, its unions and parties: A "Holy Alliance” to prevent the general strike
The general strike is the order of the day! The militant masses know that only by defeating the government and the regime will they be able to impose their demands. But the labor bureaucracy and its parties, the loyal subjects and servants of the imperialist Fifth Republic, have formed a "Holy Alliance" to prevent a general strike. Forced to take the lead by the mass pressure of the movement, the "inter-union" formed by the union bureaucracy of the CGT, the CFDT (led by the PS), the FO (Workers’ Force) and other unions, along with the leadership of the National Union of Students of France (UNEF), have been surfing the crest of the wave to try to control it, and to prevent it from overflowing the barriers and becoming an independent uprising of the workers.
For that reason, the ‘inter-union’ has refused to call a general strike, and has instead used a series of 'days of action' to pressure the government to withdraw the CPE and open negotiations. Thus, when the Constitutional Council confirmed the law, they called on Chirac "to use his constitutional prerogatives to withdraw the CPE". Now that Chirac and his ministers have invited the ‘inter-union’ to negotiate a new law, they want to use the April 4 'day of action' as a "show of force" to strengthen their position in the negotiations on the CPE due to begin on April 5.
In this way the bureaucracy collaborates with the maneuver of Chirac and the employers to introduce the "tsunami" of the CPE knowing that it would meet strong opposition, and then to pretend to "back down" and instead pass a "hurricane" called the "law of equal opportunity". This new law will continue to impose flexibility and casualisation on young workers, but will have some cosmetic changes, will be blessed by "consensus" with the ‘Holy Alliance’ and voted in Parliament not only by the deputies of the UMP, but also by those of the PS. That is the trap that the Chiracs-Villepin-Sarkozy and their servants of the labor bureaucracy and the social-imperialist parties have set for the masses.
This treacherous union bureaucracy is the same one that ordered its stewards to beat-up the young workers of the Cités when they confronted the police with the shout of "national Police, military servants of capitalism"! Many of the hundreds of young people who were arrested in this struggle were handed over to the police by the thugs of the union bureaucracy, proving that they are the internal police of the labor movement in the service of the bosses, its state and its imperialist regime!
Down with the labor bureaucracy of the CGT, CFDT and other federations and unions, paid agents of Chirac and the Fifth Republic, opponents and jailers of the students in struggle and the heroic young workers of the suburbs!
No less treacherous a role is played by the social-imperialist parties based on the privileged labor aristocracy that lives off imperialist super-profits, such as the PS and Communist Party. But most treacherous of all are the pseudo-Trotskyists like the Revolutionary Communist League (LCR). After the Constitutional Council confirmed the CPE and the "law of equal opportunity”, these parties published a scandalous common declaration stating:
"the organizations and the political parties of the left solemnly require that Jacques Chirac withdraws the CPE and opens negotiations with the unions before taking the law back to the Parliament. Knowing the exceptional conditions of the elections in 2002, there will be serious consequences if the law is passed." ("Declaration of the Left, Le Monde 31/03/06, signed by the Socialist Party, the Communist Party, Greens, the LCR, among others).
This confession is proof of guilt! These parties are the faithful subjects of the French Fifth Republic and its 'monarch' Chirac, advising him that it is in his interests to withdraw the CPE, just as during the rebellion of young workers last year, they appealed to Chirac to end the state of emergency and to "defend democracy and civil peace", even while Chirac’s police militarized the Cités and hunted down the young rebels! The cynicism of these treacherous leaders has no limit! Full of self-importance they remind Chirac that he only won the elections of 2002 thanks to the votes of the masses under their influence. Now they ‘threaten’ with another ‘day of action’ so they can meet him on April 5th to arrive at a ‘consensus’! Here they gamble on being able to use the ‘extreme left’ to control the strikes and marches on April 4th so that this mobilisation can be used to ‘pressure’ Chirac in the negotiations.
The "extreme left" of the Fifth Republic Regime
The imperialist Fifth Republic also has its subjects on the "extreme left", as the fake Trotskyists of the LCR, and the PT are commonly called in France. These currents, that have thousands of militants, and who lead or influence a layer of the workers and students vanguard, are a key element in the support of the regime of the Fifth Republic, and have for decades defended the regime from the masses uprisings in France.
They called for a vote for Chirac against Le Pen in 2002; they called on the masses to vote in the referendum on the European Constitution in 2005; during the youth rebellion of October-November of 2005 they hung upon the apron strings of the ‘Republican left’ defending ‘democracy’, and talking of restoring ‘civil peace’. The LCR, PT, and LO are the ‘left leg’ of the ‘Holy Alliance’ that contained and repressed the rebellion of young workers. Alain Krivine, a leader of the LCR traveled to Palestine to tell the heroic people that they must accept the imperialist plan for ‘two states’. In Brazil, Miguel Rossetto, leader of the LCR’s fraternal party (Socialist Democracy), is the Minister of agrarian reform in the pro-imperialist government of Lula, protecting the property of the landowners who kill the landless peasants.
Now the LCR has signed the official statement of the ‘left’ parties begging Chirac to withdraw the CPE. These true reformists even manage, as they say in their leaflets, to call for a "general strike" to defeat the government - that is to say, Prime Minister Villepin - but they stop short of a general strike to remove the ‘sacred’ Fifth Republic and its 'monarch' Chirac. They even criticise some union leaders, but never do they say it is necessary to defeat the union bureaucracy in order to make a indefinite general strike. For them the ‘general strike’ is merely to win a “better redistribution of wealth".
Lutte Ouvrière, on the other hand, does not even raise the general strike for the purpose of reforms. It only mobilizes for the withdrawal of the hated CPE. The Lambertist Workers Party (PT), faithful to their line of ‘defense of the democracy’ and the ‘French Republic’, demands the withdrawal of the CPE as ‘unconstitutional’. The PT are in the leadership of the CUT union bureaucracy in Brazil, which collaborates with Petrobras (partner of the French Totalfina) to plunder Bolivian gas and strangle the Bolivian revolution.
The betrayers of Trotskyism have moved openly onto the terrain of reform. They are the "extreme left" of the imperialist regime of the Fifth Republic, oppressor and butcher of the colonial and semi-colonial peoples, and exploiter and repressor of its own working class.
The masses have begun an enormous political fight. They have forced the leaders of the unions to form the national “inter-union”. They have begun to build their own organs of political struggle. The university students occupy the faculties with their barricades and make their decisions in daily general assemblies. The same happens in the secondary schools that have joined the struggle. They have created a National Coordination of students, mandated, with rotating chairs, delegates elected by each general assembly and meeting each week, rotating from city to city.
In its last meeting in Lyon on April 1-2, it voted for an indefinite general strike. In the city of Lille, the General Assembly unites students with local and regional unions, associations of unemployed people, immigrant workers ‘without papers’, and has also called for an indefinite general strike from the 4 of April. Coordinations have been formed in four other departments - Girond, Loire Atlantique, Sarthe and Vienne, also calling for an indefinite general strike. For the 4 of April, they announced that all education workers of all levels, postal and communications, mass media, transport, bank, energy, chemical, commerce and construction workers will go on strike.
In order to overcome the counter-revolutionary resistance of the apparatuses of the ‘left’ parties and the unions and their 'united front from above', and to turn April 4 into an indefinite general strike, it is necessary to create a National Coordination of Struggle made up of mandated delegates of all the unions and workers organizations in the national “Inter-union”, of the national Coordination of students, each school and occupied faculty and the workers of each militant factory and workplace, and the delegates of the young people of each Cite and workers district, organized by locality, and region. This national Coordination of workers and student in struggle must become the new leadership of the working class in place of all the treacherous leaders of the ‘left’ parties and union confederations.
A National Coordination of struggle must summon and organize and indefinite general strike until the CPE and the "law of equal opportunity", to the government of Chirac-Villpein-Sarkozy, his economic plan and the imperialist regime of the Fifth Republic, is defeated.
It must raise a program to unite the workers ranks, now divided by the privileges of the labor aristocracy and bureaucracy:
- Down with the CPE, and the law of “equal opportunity” that is in reality the law of flexibilisation and casualisation!
- Down with Chirac-Villpein-Sarkozy, their anti-worker economic plans and Fifth Republic Regime!
- Useful work and a living wage for all! Redistribute the work hours among those willing to work with a minimum wage at the level of the cost of the family shopping basket, indexed automatically to inflation!
- Unemployment wage at the level of the minimum wage for all unemployed workers without conditions and time limit!
- For the younger generation of workers!
- Four hours work and 4 hours of study paid by the employer's association and their state!
- Ban night work and unsafe and unhealthy work!
- Equal work, equal wage and the same conditions for all the young workers from 16 years!
- Free schools and universities and with unrestricted entry for all the young people who want to study!
- All political, social, economic and union rights for all youth!
- Immediate and automatic French citizenship for all the worker immigrants, who comprise of the French working class!
- Down with all laws that destroy the past gains of the working class, their pensions, their social security, public education and health!
- Re-nationalistion without payment and under workers control of Gas France!
- No to the privatizations of EDF and other public companies! Put these companies under workers control!
- Down with commercial secrets in the banks, the key industries, transport and in all the branches of production, so that the workers prove that the bourgeoisie waste human labor to make their enormous profits!
- Workers control of the production in all the factories and companies of the country in the hands of factory committees!
- Against the police! Against the gangs of thugs of the union bureaucracy!
- Form committees of self-defense of workers, young workers of the Cités, and of the students
- Immediate freedom for the imprisoned young working people from October-November of 2005!
- Freedom and withdrawal of charges for all arrested workers and student militants!
- Stop the repression against the workers and students in struggle!
- Dissolve the police and the gendarmerie!
"A people that oppresses another cannot be free itself"
The workers aristocracy and labor bureaucracy acts to prevent the workers of France, Spain and Germany from breaking with their own imperialistic bourgeoisies. This stopped a workers movement from going to the aid of their class brothers and sisters in Iraq. It allowed French imperialism free hands to occupy the Ivory Coast and use military repression to continue their enslavement in Africa. Then, at the end of the last year, it acted to impose ‘social peace’ on the young migrant workers in the name of the imperialist Fifth Republic. These actions have strengthened the regime of the imperialist French bourgeoisie which now attacks the French proletariat again!
The more it plunders and kills in the colonies and the semi-colonies, the more the French bourgeoisie treats its own working class in the same way that it deals with its slaves in Africa and the Pacific. It attacks and destroys the historic gains of wages and conditions. It imposes severe labor flexibilisation and casualisation. And when the exploited rise up it responds, with a state of emergency, and with batons, repression and mass arrests, as it did against the young workers last year, and as it does today against the enormous mass mobilizations.
“A people that oppresses another cannot be free”, Marx and Engels said more than one hundred years ago. That is why the students and workers who are fighting against the ‘precarite’ today must adopt the slogan of the young workers of October and November: “Every night make Paris a Baghdad”. That means taking responsibility to defend the oppressed Iranian nation today threatened by the French, English and Yankee imperialists and their “den of thieves” the UN. This also means taking into their own hands the struggle for the military defeat of all the imperialist troops in Iraq, in Afghanistan, the Ivory Coast, and every other oppressed nation. They must also make as their own, the fight for the restoration of the dictatorship of the proletariat by socialist revolutions in Russia, China and all the former degenerated workers states who have been turned by their ex-stalinist bureaucracies, now national bourgeoisies, into capitalist colonies and semi-colonies full of MNC assembly plants employing enslaved manual labor.
The more they adopt the anti-imperialist struggles to the full, the closer will be the workers and students to winning their present struggle, and opening the way to the socialist revolution in France.
- Down with the Fifth Republic, imperialist exploiter and oppressor of its own working class, and killer of the peoples of Africa, of the Pacific, of Asia!
- French imperialists hand off Iran and all Middle East!
- For the military defeat of all the imperialistic troops in Iraq, for the victory of the Iraqi resistance!
- For the immediate liberation of the Martinique, Guyana, the Kanak islands and other ‘Dominions and transoceanic territories’ under French colonial slavery!
- Out with the French genocidal troops from the Ivory Coast, Kosovo, etc.!
- French imperialists hands off the nations of Africa, Asia and Latin America!
- Equal wages and the conditions of work for all the workers of the colonies of France, and its monopolies, banks and companies in the colonial and semi colonial countries, for the expropriation and nationalization of capitalist property without payment and under workers control in those countries!
So that the working class and the exploited ones live, the Fifth Republic must die.
For a Republic of Workers Councils in France, for a Socialist United States of Europe!
We wrote this declaration a few hours before the strikes and marches on the 4 of April. The task of the hour is to build a National Coordination of militant worker and student organisations and to make an indefinite general strike with pickets, marches, blockades and committees of self-defense, to open the way to the overthrow, the imperialist regime of the Fifth Republic of Chirac, Le Pen, the union bureaucracy and the social-imperialist parties. A successful general strike that defeated the government and its attack on young workers jobs, would open a pre-revolutionary situation, putting onto the agenda the struggle for state power by the working class and its councils and armed militias, capable of giving birth to a Workers Republic on the ruins of the Fifth Republic.
Like the revolt of the young workers last year, today the struggle of the masses in France must become a common struggle of the continental European working class. Only by this means can the offensive of the European imperialist bourgeoisies against the historic living standards of the masses, the attacks on the colonial and semi colonial world, on the heroic Iraqi resistance, on Iran, on the oppressed peoples in Europe - in Ireland, the Basque Country, Kosovo, Chechenia etc,- be defeated. This united continental struggle cannot be won without breaking from the privileged labor aristocracy and the class collaborationist labor bureaucracy.
A strong advance in the revolutionary struggle in France would open the only road to the liberation of the European proletariat: the United Socialist States of Europe, from Portugal to Russia, where workers can overthrow the imperialist bourgeoisies in the West, and at the same time remove the restored capitalist semi-colonies in the East, united with the revolutionary and anti-imperialist struggle of the workers and exploited people of the of the semi-colonial and colonial world.
For an International Conference of Principled Trotskyists to create a new world wide party socialist revolution and to refound Trotskyism in France under the program and the legacy of the Fourth International of 1938!
The invasion and occupation of Iraq; the containment of the Bolivian revolution and the anti-imperialist and revolutionary struggles of the Latin American masses by the continental politics of the popular front ; the intensified wage slavery of workers by the imperialists MNCs and the new bourgeoisie in China; the recolonization and plundering of the ex-workers states of the old Eastern Europe and USSR, have allowed the European imperialistic bourgeoisies to make a brutal offensive on their working classes.
What motivates this attack is the necessity for the imperialist bourgeoisies to compete for spheres of influence, oil reserves, new sources of raw materials and cheap manual labor in the colonial and semi colonial world, in particular the race for the colonization of China and Russia now restored by the ex-stalinist bureaucracy to the world capitalist economy.
Against this offensive workers are beginning to fight back. Sections of the US working class are starting to oppose the war on Iraq, and the most exploited sectors, the Black and Latino migrant workers are mobilising in their hundreds of thousands against the new immigration law for the Great American Strike of May 1, 2006. Today, the workers and students of France have declared that they will not be ‘flesh’ for the bosses, nor ‘cannon fodder’ for the imperialists. And like the US working class, it is the most oppressed sections of the class, the young workers of the Cités, who led this fight at the end of last year.
The oppressed workers of the US and France are throwing all the rotten, fake Trotskyists, who became the voice of the labor aristocracy and complained that the workers in the imperialist countries would have to go through years of economic struggles before being able to fight for socialism in the distant future, into the rubbish bin of history. Because today the most oppressed workers have shown that they are capable of mobilising a political fight in the imperialistic countries which can organise independently of the unions of the labor aristocracy and the bureaucratic leadership.
The fate of the world working class today hinges on the outcome of the present struggle of the French students and workers, and of the working class of the United States and its undisputed vanguard, the millions of Latino workers and immigrants. The main obstacle blocking this proletariat is the counter-revolutionary character of their main political currents, most of them associated with the World Social Forum, including the fake Trotskyists who have gone over openly to the camp of reformism, and the most abject class collaboration.
With the emergence onto the stage of the militant layers of the proletariat of France and the US, it is the urgent task of the healthy forces of Trotskyism to call an International Conference which can regroup these forces around a revolutionary program, and which fights without quarter to defeat the class collaborators of the WSF, in particular the renegades of Trotskyism, and to refound the World Party of Socialist Revolution. In this way, French Trotskyism can be refounded, defeating the fake Trotskyists, and recuperating the forces of the Fourth International of 1938 to provide the heroic and self-sacrificing young workers, women workers, migrant workers and all the most oppressed sectors of the French proletariat, the revolutionary leadership they justly deserve.
Fraction Leninist-Trotskyist, April 4, 2006 (Trans. from Spanish)
From Class Struggle 66 April/May 2006