Monday, May 30, 2016

The Class Struggle in France 2016--

1. Fulfilling his destiny, and obligations, as standard-bearer of the Parti Socialiste of France; fully cognizant of his party's importance to the EU-wide Party of European Socialists, and the worldwide Socialist International, and the galaxy-wide Progressive Alliance, Francoise Hollande, soon to be former President of France, has unleashed yet another round of "labor restructuring,"  "de-regulation,"  and "productive competitiveness" -- each and all code words for reducing living standards-- on students, youth, and workers in France. Who knows better the importance of reducing living standards to the future of capitalism than the big S Socialists?  One or two capitalists perhaps, but since the capitalists as a class live off the labor of others, command the labor of others, nothing could be more fitting than to have others execute those commands, and more others in the vanguard of that execution.

The "labor reforms" are intent upon decentralization-- decentralization of work rules, localization of standards for total work hours, overtime payments, hiring and firing.  Decentralization is the mantra of state power in the service of decrepit capitalism because decentralization means increasing the fractionalization of the working class.  A fractionalized working class is the atomized worker, without collective power, without the ability to present class defense. 

Splitting the workers into unions, by unions, through confederations of unions is no longer good enough, which of course, really means that the bourgeoisie, that capital,  cannot go on as before.

Labor restructuring is the disorganization of the working class.

Turning the page, and flipping the script of the heroic guerrilla, Che Guevera, Hollande, speaking for the bourgeoisie of France, defeated once upon a time in Indochina, gets his, and their, revenge.   "Create 2, 3, many Vietnams!"  Indeed, create 2,3, many SEZs.

Fractions, that's the mantra of the bourgeoisie.  Profit is but a ratio of the capital advanced, a fraction, a rate.  For capital to be more than the sum of its parts, labor cannot exist as a whole.

2. Terrified that the strikes and shutdowns of oil refineries, rail service, commercial aviation, nuclear power plants,  might interfere with the eagerly anticipated QE fueled "recovery," Manuel Valls, actually Manuel Carlos Valls Galfetti, Prime Minister of France, sought refuge in that first, and last, abattoir of capitalism,  the Fatherland.   "Good grief," said Manuel Carlos, "are people patriots or not in this crisis?"  Good question, although the fact that Manuel Carlos, born in Barcelona of a Spanish father and a Swiss mother, was speaking German might have undermined his appeal to the greater glory of Frankreich (and his own claims to patriotism).  But not to worry, the QE recovery itself is conspicuous only by it absence, being,  of course, without a country.

Not to be outprimed by PM Carlos Valls Galfetti, Emmanuel Macron, Minister of the Economy, trained by Jesuits and then at the Lycee Henri IV, former inspector of finances, former investment banker for Rothschild & Cie, and the man so instrumental in making sure that the package of labor "reforms" by-passed the French parliament and was imposed by presidential decree, bemoaned the conservatism, the inertia, the intransigence of the French students, workers and youth.  "What has happened elsewhere?" he asked.  "Other countries have all evolved, all done things."

Only a financier, an investment banker, could classify what has taken place in Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Greece-- what will be occurring in Austria, Finland, the Netherlands as "evolution" rather than what those "things" most closely resemble--primitive accumulation.  

As if on cue, Matteo Renzi, Prime Minister of Italy and purveyor of his own package of labor reforms, suggested that his brothers and sisters in France should be willing to entertain this "experiment."  Meanwhile, Renzi's own brothers and sisters in Italy might have a few suggestions for Mr. Renzi, given that Italy's GDP per capita is currently at the 1998 mark.

3. Meanwhile, anyone and everyone can tell you how about the "un-formed"  "liberal" impulses and organizations behind the Nuit Debout  manifestations in Paris. It's "Occupy" with a bigger vocabulary.   Indeed it is,

And the same anyone and everyone can tell you about the role of the Stalinist led, manipulated, and controlled union of two million workers, the CGT.  Indeed.  When the CGT feels compelled to take action; to label police attacks as war and to promise to respond in kind, it's trying to pick the low-hanging fruit; to put the movement that overwhelms the boundaries between union and non-union, workers and students, employed and unemployed, documented and documented, back into its own pocket.

International Communist Current urging caution, puts it this way:
We have to be clear: there was nothing spontaneous about Nuit Debout. It’s something which has been prepared and organised over a long period by the radical defenders of capitalism. Behind this “spontaneous” and “apolitical” movement lurk the professionals, the groups of the left and extreme left who use “apoliticism” as a means of control.
Well, OK, and... well, so what?  Was there another way for the movement to develop other than being planned well in advance by new left coalitions, or expanding into blockades of oil and power stations by the CGT?  If there already was an independent autonomous class-for-itself, movement... correct, Nuit Debout  would not have developed, aggrandized, this much support.  But if there were already a class-conscious movement, we wouldn't be discussing this would we? We'd be discussing the success of the French revolution as the opening round of world revolution.

This is how struggles develop, carrying the baggage of all the institutionalized failures that have preceded it. That's the history in the historical materialism.

The origins of the struggle are not the slightest reason in the world to hesitate or "be cautious." It's all the more reason to develop the demands, the organizations, the institutions, that break the domination of the archaic clusters of power-- including the CGT bureaucracy, the new left coalitions-- and clearly this movement contains exactly that potential-- particularly with the almost universal acceptance of the demand to "open the borders"-- to erase the distinction between documented and undocumented workers. The key is how quickly, clearly, and class consciously the French workers and students can link up with those in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Belgium, Ireland, Poland, Germany with a program that opposes the EU's vision of "capitalism without borders" with a program of revolution; a program not limited to "utilizing" banks or corporations for the "public good," but one of abolishing banks and corporations; a program for the emancipation of labor everywhere from pettiness of production for value.

To its credit, and to the honor of class struggle everywhere, the French youth,  students,  and workers have raised, discussed and reiterated the demand to open the borders to all.  While the  Europe Union everywhere recoils in horror from those driven from their areas of origin by the economic and military conflicts which the European Union itself has aided, abetted, utilized to atomize living conditions, and labor power, in southwest Asia, Africa, the Persian Gulf, the Middle East, the French workers, youth, students have demanded open borders, elimination of any fractionalization of workers into "documented" and "undocumented."  Eliminating that boundary is the key to breaking the confinement of the struggle to the theater of the CGT and the Nuit Debout.   That boundary will be eliminated not in Paris, but of Paris, when the students and workers link up with those in the banlieue, and to those risking death at sea to escape from the destruction imposed by capitalism.

Good source for information on the struggle in France:

S. Artesian
May 30, 2016


  1. You say "The origins of the struggle are not the slightest reason in the world to hesitate or "be cautious." It's all the more reason to develop the demands, the organizations, the institutions, that break the domination of the archaic clusters of power ". Whilst I agree with the first sentence, the second one is strange to me. What kind of "demands.. organizations... institutions" do you envisage that "break the domination of the archaic clusters of power "? What historical or current examples do you think are applicable?

  2. No shortage of examples, really-- reaching back to the Paris Commune, or the insurgent commune of St. Louis in the US. Of course, the soviets of 1917 are the "iconic" representation. There were the cordones in Chile in 1973, the FEJUVE in El Alto during the water struggle; on the "combat side" in Honduras in response to the coup against Zelaya, there were defense guards being organized, primarily in the unions.