The working class of France has a proud history of struggle. The Paris Commune, established in March 1871 and brutally crushed by the capitalist state two months later, was the first example of the working class in power. In 1968, another French Revolution came close to bringing down the government.
Since then, the labor movement has engaged in many powerful strikes.
The words to the famous proletarian revolutionary anthem, “The Internationale,” were written in 1871 by a leader of the Communards, Eugène Pottier. The recent upsurge in France, from the Yellow Vest movement to the strike now in its second month, brings to mind this moving call to action – “Debout, les damnés de la terre!” (“Arise, ye wretched of the earth!”)
This general strike has made its impact felt. French President Emmanuel Macron dropped a proposed law to raise the minimum retirement age. But the workers are still off the job and in the streets.
The working class of France is part of a growing strike and protest wave around the world, including in Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Haiti, Puerto Rico and most recently India. Even in the U.S., strikes are more frequent and involve larger numbers of workers.
What is still needed is for the global proletariat to strike with coordination and in unison. Workers in the imperialist oppressor countries need to be in solidarity with workers of their home country’s former colonies and today’s neocolonies.
At this time the role of French imperialism in suppressing the masses of its former African colonies is increasing. France has just sent more troops to augment its force of 4,500 who have been exerting imperialist control over the vast region known as the Sahel.
It is in the interest of striking workers in France to come out unequivocally for the removal of French troops from Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. Protests by the people in these former colonized countries are demanding just that.
For the French working class to declare its solidarity with these protests would be a step toward building transnational class unity. It would demonstrate understanding of another very old union slogan: “An injury to one is an injury to all!”
Victory to the French strike! Imperialism out of Africa!