Some findings on the present
state of emergency
“This May 1st, 2020 is like no other. Today, no gathering in our cities to celebrate, as we have done for so many years, International Workers’ Day (…). And yet, the spirit of May Day, this spirit of solidarity among workers, has perhaps never been so powerful, so alive. For it is indeed thanks to the work, celebrated on this day, that the Nation holds.”
“Deprived of the rituals (sic) of this day, we feel today all the value, all the meaning. With this strong will: to rediscover as soon as possible the cheerful, sometimes quarrelsome, first of May Days, which makes our Nation. My dear compatriots, we will find them again, these cheerful first of May Days!” (i) [Little red book of President M. .., to be published?] (ii)
i Tweets section, La Croix, May 1st, 2020.
ii With a little imagination, one can easily give meaning to this mysterious M… The reading of “La P… respectueuse” (The Respectful Prostitute) by Jean-Paul Sartre can be a clue. This play is very contemporary since it is about a dominant class which acts in the name of the “common good” and finds a majority only concerned about its survival, without questioning the acts that are imposed on it.
The strikes that began on December 5 continue in a number of sectors, particularly those related to public services. Readers living outside France should note that there has been a mobilization against the abolition of pension systems in favor of a new system that significantly postpones the effective retirement age and considerably reduces pensions, sometimes by as much as 30%. The strike continues to paralyze a large part of public transport, especially in the Paris region, despite attempts to intimidate, pressure and repress both by the management and managerial staff of striking enterprises (mainly SNCF, national trains, and RATP, metro, bus and a part of the trains in the Paris region) and the police, especially during demonstrations and picket lines. Despite government provocations and media propaganda, the movement still enjoys the support and sympathy of a majority of the population according to polls. (1)
The following communiqué by the International Group of the Communist Left sheds light on the situation and dilemma’s of the pension strikes in France that hold the country in their grip since last autumn. It treats most important questions that the workers and the milieu’s of politicized minorities of the proletariat are confronted with, and provides an account of the groups’ position and implication in this ongoing proletarian struggle.
A critique by the Pantopolis blog (March 15, 2019)
We are happy to [refer to] the latest text from the group Robin Goodfellow (RGF). (1) Coming from the Bordigist camp, it has striven to always be in tune with the class struggle, despite the desperately academic tone of its publications.
This text shows a positive spirit of openness towards the movement of the ‘yellow vests’, in which proletarians predominate. Contrary to some sects falsely laying claim to left-wing communism, Robin Goodfellow did not spit on the movement, quite the contrary. These sects did, by the way, not manifest an “aristocratism” of revolutionary “purists”, but rather the ubuesque (2) holy fear of micro-bureaucrats, ready to hide under their beds at the first signs of serious confrontation with the “forces of order”, shamefully describing the healthy reaction of the yellow vests to the terrible force of the capitalist state (3) as “useless violence.”
The text of Robin Goodfellow is very precise on the classes, or rather the heterogeneous layers that have intervened in the movement of the ‘yellow vests’. It deserves to be welcomed for demonstrating that, in the ‘yellow vests’ movement, the proletariat is very much present (workers, employees), even as a vast majority.
In its second communiqué on the ‘yellow vests’ movement in France the IGCL provides a balance sheet of its strengths, weaknesses and dilemma’s, together with an updated summary of the situation at the 11th Saturday of demonstrations and their prospects.
2nd Communiqué by the IGCL (January 27, 2019)
The eleventh Saturday of the ‘yellow vests’ movement in France, 26 January 2019, has seen the mobilization continue throughout France. According to the police, there were 69,000 demonstrators across the country. It is nevertheless obvious that this figure is largely underestimated: 2,500 demonstrators in Paris were announced, whereas there were in fact between 8,000 and 10,000 when the two main parades met at 4 pm at the Place de la Bastille. The clashes that subsequently broke out there allowed the police to disperse the crowd that would gather in the square. But the exact number doesn’t really matter. The fact is that this movement of ‘yellow vests’ expresses a rage and a willingness to oppose the growing misery imposed and promised by capitalism and to confront the state, that the bourgeoisie does not succeed to extinguish. Just like the strikes in Iran in 2018 or the mass strike of tens of thousands of workers in northern Mexico as we speak, to mention but a few, (1) the radicalism, combativeness, [and] obstinacy of the ‘yellow vests’ movement signals the degree attained by the class antagonisms, and the fact that we have entered in a new period of massive confrontations between the classes at the global level. This generalized climate of potential social revolt, already partly in action, is essentially the result of the effects of the 2008 crisis, which are still being felt, exacerbating capitalism’s current contradictions of all kinds, political, ecological, imperialist, migratory, social, etc. Today, these contradictions have accumulated and are exploding one after another. In this international climate of general social revolt in the making, the “slowdown of world growth” – to use the words of bourgeois economists – and the risks of a financial and stock market crash can only accentuate this atmosphere of “the end of the world”, the end of the capitalist world to be exact, and bring the current generations of proletarians to the necessity, to consciousness and willingness to oppose capitalism’s misery as well as the generalized war that it is preparing and, finally, to destroy it. The entire capitalist class, at least its most enlightened fractions, is so concerned with this situation that “the eminences gathered at the Davos summit believe that it is time to ‘re-moralize’ globalization (according to Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum) and to seek the paths to a ‘more inclusive’ world economy” (‘Liberation’, 23 January 2019), and that States are already preparing for it both politically and in terms of violent and massive repression.
As we understand the general rise in fuel taxes has been withdrawn by the French government and certain categories most in need have been granted a (temporary) financial relieve. Faced with this partial (and possibly temporary) retreat by the French authorities, flanked by measures like attempting to foster a nationwide “social dialogue” while simultaneously trying to turn on the screws of state repression, the “yellow jackets” mobilization in France seems to be in decline.
The following text undertakes an attempt of drawing lessons from this inter-class mobilization in comparison with those that may be drawn from the recent wave of struggles in Iran, which has shown a more clearly pronounced proletarian character, but so far has met relatively few echoes within political milieus claiming adherence to proletarian internationalism.
A statement by ‘Nuevo Curso’ (December 23), introduced by the IGCL
We publish the statement of ‘Nuevo Curso’ (Spain) on the present state of the yellow vest struggle in France following the demonstration on Saturday 22 December. Even if we do not necessarily share all the formulations used by the comrades – a certain number would need clarification – we agree both with the fundamental analysis of the movement itself, the limits of its original inter-class character; and with [that of] its dynamics, which are now in decline after five weeks of mobilization. The fundamental factor explaining this decline is the absence of a relay taken over and ensured by the working class as such and the takeover by the French bourgeoisie and its State of a situation that had surprised and escaped it at least until the eve of Saturday, December 8. This is the main lesson that the workers’ component of the yellow vests and the entire proletariat in France must learn from this unprecedented mobilization. The other lesson we must all learn, the revolutionaries in particular, is that the massive confrontations between the classes we have openly entered now will be extremely violent as a result of the massive and brutal repression used by the States, including in countries with a “democratic tradition”.
The following communiqué by the International Group of the Communist Left has been released after the demonstrations on Saturday December 1st, which appear to have been the apogee of the “yellow vests” mobilizations in France so far. Beyond a characterization of this movement as “inter-class” it provides some important reflections and an orientation that tries to overcome the impasse of this kind of movement.
Breaking more than a year of radio silence on its web-site, and more than six years after its special edition “From October 1917 to the collapse of the USSR”, (1) the Forum for an internationalist communist Left has brought out a new issue of its revue “Controverses” in French language. AFRD intends to follow its comeback and welcomes this revival by adopting the presentation of its contents.
1 Cahier thématique n°1 : Octobre 1917, http://leftcommunism.org/spip.php?article291&lang=fr (French language; some articles have been translated)