Communiqué: The working class in France buries its gravediggers

Communiqué of the Coordination of Communist Nuclei (CNC) in the Spanish State (Spain) published March 28, 2023. Workers World publishes this communiqué because it could also apply as a message for the working class in the United States. Translation: John Catalinotto.

Workers on France’s high-speed TGV trains demonstrate near the Lyon Station in Paris.

Allez vous-faire foutre! (Go to hell!)

Esclaves du capital! (Slaves of capital!)

Servants de l’OTAN (Servants of NATO!)

The French working class gives us, once again, a great lesson of class struggle, and starting from the beginning, it showed us what a general strike really is.

It has nothing to do with the pathetic imitation of strikes called by our big trade union centers, which have only served to deepen the feeling of impotence in the face of the only certain result: the deduction from wages of the day not worked.

The general strike and the popular mobilizations, in the face of a general attack against the working class, do not have a foreseen end; we fight until victory or until we run out of strength.

After two months of mobilizations against the increase in the retirement age from 62 to 64 (here, we are heading for 67, and, in view of the success [pushing through this cutback], Minister José Luis Escrivá is preparing the privatization of primary care!), its imposition by decree, applying the legislation of exception provided for in article 49.3 of the French Constitution, has only added fuel to the fire.

The working class has taken the lead. This class knew what had to be done and led the action: blockade of industrial zones; of ports; of nuclear power stations; of public and goods transport; of airports, with the incorporation into the strike of the controllers; of garbage collection and incineration; paralysis of education; blockade of highways leaving the tolls free; barricades at strategic points in the cities; and more.

The workers of each sector are fighting alongside all the other sectors. Thus, while the unloading of ships is prevented by the stevedores, the pickets are also joined by the metallurgists, those of the electrical sector, the students, even the teachers, etc. The farmers take their products to those who occupy the factories. 

And when, after heavy clashes with the riot police, which often leave more wounded among the police than among the workers as in Saint Nazaire, and the picket line is dislodged, the struggle moves to another front; for example, to demolish the portal of the bridge over the Loire, thus preventing the passage of tanker trucks by road.

Workers’ power also showed itself in other ways. The energy workers, through clandestine operations, cut off electricity to the headquarters of Macron’s party, to the homes of his deputies and of big businessmen, to big multinationals and especially to data center firms, to road radar trackers and other instruments of control. On the contrary, free electricity was provided to hospitals, schools, elderly people’s homes, working-class neighborhoods where the most oppressed sectors of the class are concentrated, etc.

And the struggle continues jusqu’ au bout (until the end). And these are not just words. For the first time in recent history, and taking up again one of the sacred rules of the International Workers Association, resistance funds have been set up, which in a few days have collected more than 3 million euros. 

Repression is harsh

The repression, of course, is extremely harsh. Demonstrators have been wounded. Hundreds of people are arrested every day. Police brutality has been so great that even the Council of Europe has opened an investigation.

A 30-year-old worker is struggling between life and death, after a grenade exploded against his head, while the prefecture prevented him from receiving medical attention for hours. But that only adds more reason to join the combat.

The target is President Emmanuel Macron but not only him. Awareness is spreading that he is a puppet of the European Union and the big bourgeoisie. There is more and more talk of a regime crisis and of taking up again the Program of the 1945 Resistance Council, a body created in 1943 that coordinated and led the resistance against fascism. This program proposed the nationalization of all strategic sectors, and from it arose Social Security, with the pension system currently in force.

Likewise, military spending is questioned, exits from NATO and the EU are proposed, sanctions against Russia are linked to the high cost of living — even Ukrainian flags are burned.

Those who led the first workers’ revolution in history, the Commune of 1871, the women workers, the weavers of Lyon who in 1870 wrote the first manifesto in history calling on young people to desert the Franco-Prussian war, or the people who avenged with the guillotine the crimes of centuries of monarchy, showed us what a general strike really is. 

The genie is out of the bottle

Not only does the general strike mean to stop working. It means, starting from there, to demonstrate and above all to become conscious of workers’ power, of that daily miracle that comes every day from the hands of working people to reproduce life and, therefore, to eliminate that parasitic class that ruins the country and our lives. It  is meant to take the genie out of the bottle.

It is that working class that overcame the limits of the union organizations by dressing the immense and diverse proletariat with yellow vests. The same class was able to overthrow the decision of the leadership of its main union, which claimed that the vote on the European Constitution did not concern the working class. This forced the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) to actively call for the NO that was victorious [in 2005 — this victory was overturned by government edict]. That class renews the red thread of history.

Like a furious gale, its powerful struggle is sweeping away all the rivers of ink poured out by the pen-pushers of power of all stripes or by those who settle for defeat, proclaiming the disappearance of the working class, the generational or gender rupture, the unbridgeable differences between the native and immigrant working class or the impossibility of fighting against the all-powerful repression of the state apparatus in the central countries of imperialism.

The French working class, occupying the nerve center of the struggle and demonstrating its capacity to incorporate other popular sectors, has lit a very important fuse in the powder keg of a capitalism in its death throes, a capitalism that offers to the immense majority and above all to the youth nothing but misery, war and brutality.

The working class of the peoples of Europe already has an open road and a precious example to follow that we must spread like a treasure. It is necessary to reveal, discuss and analyze in assemblies in the workplaces, in the trade unions, in the working-class neighborhoods, in the university . . . what the media use so much effort to hide or distort. 

It is necessary to compare what is happening in France with what has happened and is happening here [in Spain — and similarly in the U.S. — WW]: with all the labor and pension reforms, with the cuts and privatizations of public services, with the high cost of living, with the military expenses imposed by NATO, and with the plans for the massive destruction of jobs. And above all to ask ourselves why the reaction here has been so weak or practically nonexistent and what relation it has with the loss of class independence. 

Time is pressing, and we must not waste this shining example. We must shake off the impotence and the feeling of defeat and strengthen the workers’ organization from the base. It will not be long before new attacks are attempted here. And it is not too much of an exaggeration to say that our lives depend on the strength with which we respond.

One hundred and fifty-two years later, the embers of the Paris Commune continue to glow. Karl Marx thus ended his throbbing homage to the Commune and his stinging condemnation of the doomsayers of the end of history, in “The Civil War in France”: 

“The Paris of the workers, with its Commune, will be forever celebrated as the glorious harbinger of a new society. Its martyrs are enshrined in the great heart of the working class. History has already nailed its exterminators’ history to that eternal pillory, from which all the prayers of their priests will not avail to redeem them.”

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