French Youth Make Paris Baghdad!

This article is a freely translated and adapted summary of parts of a longer article by the Internationalist Trotskyist Fraction (Fourth International).
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Anti-Capitalist and Anti-Imperialist Youth Revolt opens new stage of struggle in Europe

For a General strike to defeat to the government of Chirac-Villepin- Sarkozy and to impose the demands of young workers, railworkers and all workers in struggle! Long live the heroic revolt of young workers and their slogan "Every night we make Paris a Baghdad"!

For more than three weeks in October, cars, police stations, schools, and factories burned every night in the working class dormitories, called "Cités" of greater Paris and in more than 300 cities all over France. The spark that set alight the fire was the fatal electrocution of two young people of 17 and 15 years when they hid from pursuing police inside a high-tension transformer in Clichy-sous-Bois (department of Seine-Saint Denis, district 93), Paris. On Friday 28 October, a revolt of young workers began all over district 93. On the Sunday the CRS (police anti-riot) tear-gassed women and children in a mosque, and the Interior Minister Sarkozy went on TV and promised to ‘clean up the rubbish’ and the ‘scum’ ("racaille", or rascals) of the Cités. This reactionary response of the Government poured gasoline on the fire so that the revolt spread all over France.

This tremendous rebellion of young working people all over France was both anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist. To the shout of "This is like Iraq", and "Every night we make a Baghdad", youth took as their own fight the heroic resistance of the Iraqi masses against the imperialistic occupation. It was also an anticapitalist revolt of youth for jobs that was inseparable from the resurgence of struggles of French, Belgium and Spanish working classes.

The rebellion was not Islamic. Islamic students did not join their rioting friends even when living in the same neighbourhood. Islamic Mullahs were brought in by the government to calm things down. The result was the burning of the main Mosque in Lyon. Nor is it the rebellion of the ‘marginalised’ or ‘poor’ that can be socially engineered out of existence. Capitalism does not exclude or create poor people, except as a consequence of exploiting and oppressing workers, employed or unemployed. You cannot eliminate poverty without eliminating capitalism; or for starters Sarkosy!

The youth revolt opens a new stage in the fight back of European workers against the boss’s reactionary attacks

It is clear that the rioting youth are one of the most oppressed sections of the French working class - the reserve army of labour made up principally of migrant worker or their descendants. It is no accident that the youth revolt comes at the same time as other major working class struggles are building up in Europe. In France, the transport workers of Marseilles went on strike for 46 days. They have been joined by sailors of the Merchant Marine (SNCM), electricity workers of the EDF , and many other industrial struggles.

On November 21 a national strike of railworkers against privatization and for a wage increase began. This national strike could have become indefinite, but after Chirac promised not to privatise rail the workers voted not to continue the strike on the 24th. In Belgium, also in October the working class made two enormous active general strikes, while in Spain strong struggles are developing in particular that of the workers of SEAT.

All of these struggles threaten to break the tenuous grip that the ruling class has on Europe thanks to the treacherous reformists, Stalinists and fake Trotskyists who so far have rallied workers to the utopia of a ‘social Europe’.

Down with the labour bureaucracies, servants of the European imperialistic bourgeoisies!

Those that give holiday speeches about the "Europe of the workers" and against the "Europe of Capital", today, when the rebellion of the young workers threatens to join forces with the striking Belgian working class and raises the spectre of a united European workers movement, try to isolate the youth and douse its rebellious spark for fear that it might spread into a prairie fire that can destroy the Europe of Capitalist Imperialism!

But even as they desperately try to hold back independent workers struggles by defending capitalist ‘democracy’ against ‘fascism’, the democratic imperialists, Chirac, Sarkosy, Villepin etc have little faith in the ability of the reformists to hold back the rising tide of labour militancy. A year after calling on workers to vote for Chirac as the ‘democratic’ alternative to ‘fascist’ Le Pen, and months from the ‘victory’ of a ‘No’ vote against the ‘neo-liberal’ Europe, the Socialist Party, Communist Party, Workers Fight (LO) and the Revolutionary Communist League (LCR) etc now see that Chirac and Sarkozy acting like fascist Le Pen. In desperation the SP and CP are using the fake Trotskyists LO and LCR to lend a spurious ‘revolutionary’ credibility to ‘restoring order’ and maintaining ‘social peace’ to keep alive their fading utopia of a 'social Europe'!

For a continental workers congress, of rank and file mandated delegates

But this fight has only just begun. The street fighting of rebellious youth has been suppressed for now. But it has already revealed 'emperor' Chirac to be naked. Not only him, but the reformists are naked too. What drove the youth to spontaneously revolt, the terrorism of the French police state, has but one cause – the crisis of French and European imperialism. This cause will not go away and must make the bosses state use more force to suppress and smash the emerging workers struggles.

It is no accident that the state of ermergency came into force on 21 November the same day that the national rail strike began. It has been extended for three months. The French imperialistic bourgeoisie is preparing to use state force to smash the growing anger of the working class which threatens to come together in a single torrent. If the treachery of the reformist leaders manages to isolate the heroic fighters of the working youth of France from the other struggles of workers, and brings about its defeat, the result will be a new slavery and "apartheid" against youth in the reserve army of labour.

The imperialistic bourgeoisies in the US and in Europe are driven to go on the offensive against their own workers. They can use the world wide reserve army to drive down wages and conditions at home.

The restoration of capitalism in China has created a vast pool of cheap labour of many millions of workers. In the former worker states of Eastern Europe, new "assembly plants" have been build to take advantage of the cheap labour. Smashing Afghanistan and occupying Iraq strengthens imperialism’s hold over the middle East and Central Asia where in India and Pakistan there are huge reserves of enslaved manual labor. European Imperialism has within a few kilometers of its coasts a massive labour reserve of hundreds of million workers in black Africa and the Magreb - many from which, risk their skins on the fences of Ceuta and Melilla trying to enter Europe to find work.

But even with this huge world-wide reserve of labour at its disposal, the European imperialist bourgeoisies must go on offensive to take back the most important gains won by their own workers. The crisis of the world economy has revived the rivalry between the US and the EU. To compete with the US, the EU must cut its labour costs also. The revolt of French working youth, to the shout of "Every night we make of Paris a Baghdad", it is a magnificent answer to these attacks, and joining forces with the railworkers strike, the two Belgian general strikes, the struggles of Spanish and German workers, makes it clear that the united fight of all European workers based on a Transitional Program must be the next step.

* Work for All! A sliding scale of working hours without loss of pay, equal pay for equal work, must be raised against the imperialistic regimes and governments.

* A great united action of workers over the continent, in support of the heroic resistance of the Iraqi masses and for the military defeat of the Anglo-Yankee troops! For the immediate withdrawal of NATO from Afghanistan!

* For the right to national self-determination of the oppressed peoples of Europe - Ireland, the Basque Country, Kosovo, Chechnya! For the right to self-determination of the colonies and semi-colonies of Europe in Africa and the Pacific!

* Smash the labour bureaucracy and its social imperialist parties that led to the betrayal of the former workers states, acting as bourgeois agents of the imperialists to make these countries capitalist semi-colonies!

* For the creation of a new world party of socialism to lead the fight for social revolution in Europe, and the recovery of the former workers states, and a Socialist United States of Europe, from Portugal to the Russian steppes!

From Class Struggle 64 Nov 05/Jan 06

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