During the two last months, our fraction had to intervene several times, within our class, through the diffusion of a leaflet calling for the development of working class struggles and through a standpoint about the significance of the social events in the suburbs of the big French cities. We have considered – and we continue to consider – that, in a general context of renewal of the proletarian struggles since 2001, this autumn has been marked, specially in France, by a growth of anger and of an important combativeness within the working class in front of an accelerated and an unbearable worsening of its living conditions.
A first leaflet, on October 16th, answered to a certain number of working class struggles which, especially in France after the "national day of action" of October 4th, had not been led in the dead end, what generally happens with these "day of action". The working class anger was getting apparent. The reasons for this anger were at the same time palpable and related to an increasingly significant proportion of workers and sectors of production. The opportunity was given to the workers to launch into massive struggle. "Let us multiply our struggles and unite them".
The second document on the "riots" in the suburbs was distributed as a leaflet from November 10th. The point was, for our fraction, to give an analysis of these revolts within a Marxist framework, while initially emphasizing that they are the obvious demonstration of the bankruptcy of capitalism, the system which generates them, of the dead end in which this one involves the children of proletarians, as it makes increasingly intolerable the fate of their underpaid parents, subjected to increasing hard working conditions or, more simply, to unemployment, to precarious conditions, to part-time jobs, etc.
For us, the revolt of the young proletarians in the suburbs expresses, unfortunately, only an impotent rage to which only the development of the working class struggles, notably in the firms, can open positive prospects.
The process of development of the class struggle is not linear. If the objective conditions (economic, social, political ones, etc.) define a general context of the relation of forces between the classes, it occurs sometimes, for short periods, opportunities that the working class can manage to seize to impulse its struggle.
Thus in the global context of renewal in which we have entered since a few years, a breach has opened this autumn at the international level and in France in particular, making possible a significant shoving of the proletarian combat.
So as to quote only the more recent examples, one could notice :
- in Portugal, 20 000 workers demonstrated in the streets of Lisbon and Oporto on November 10 against the budgetary restrictions;
- in Belgium, the workers expressed their refusal to see the system of the retirements split off. By twice, on October 7 and 28, a general strike blocked different firms, public transport, and massively united in the streets workers of the public and private sectors, precarious workers, etc;
- in Germany, the employees of several university private clinics engaged an unlimited strike at the beginning of October for a wage increase and against the prospect for a lengthening of the working time;
This series of strikes are coming within a phase of more general working class renewal concerning all the continents, all the countries : India, China, Argentina, Russia, Sweden, North America, or Israel and the Gaza Strip.
Information on these struggles is, at the very least, "discrete" on behalf of the bourgeois media. In fact, it is essentially a real and conscious campaign of blackout that we are confronted to.
The ruling class passes over in silence the working class reactions and the fact that, everywhere in the world where they appear, the causes and the demands are of the same order, go in the same direction : defense of the wages and working conditions, refusal of measures lengthening the duration of the work time and pushing back more and more the retirement age, reduction in manpower and increase in the workload for those which remain, general precariousness of the living and working conditions, etc
This similarity in the demands corresponds to the standardization of the working class conditions everywhere in the world. And the bourgeoisie must, to ensure the perpetuation of its domination, mask this alignment of the conditions and the expressions of its comprehension in the working class ranks which could lead to a dynamic of generalization and unification of the working class struggles.
And, when it is no longer possible to pass over in silence proletarian reactions, the two weapons that the bourgeoisie uses – in addition to the usual and classic work of the unions – consists in, on one side, trying to disgust the maximum of workers to enter into struggle by caricaturing and denigrating the struggles which are in progress and, on the other side, what is newer, to threaten and even to use the rough force. That is what one could recently notice in France.
Denigration: The public performances of bourgeois ministers and politicians, developing an avalanche of scorning speeches, insulting the workers on strike, have been in the front page of all the medias of information more than never before. The workers are accused of taking hostages, even to be "terrorists" And the strikes are declared to be "unjustified and basically dangerous"1.
The crude force and the threat : the threat of individual repression for the workers who would persist to be on strike has been uttered several times so as to put an end to the strike. The strike of the tram workers of the RTM (Régie des Transports Marseillais) in Marseille in France was declared "illegal" by the legal institutions after 32 days ; recalcitrant strikers exposed themselves to have to pay a 10000 € fine. In the Paris airports it was … the anti-terrorism which assisted the management of the CBS firm : after six days of strike, it utilised the local sub prefecture "so as to restore law and order and taking in account the urgency" related to "the context of Vigipirate plan" an "order of requisition" was set up. The 800 employees of the company, in strike to 100% at this moment, had to go back to their working place under penalty of exemplary sanctions (6 months of imprisonment and 10000€ of fine).
Trade-union sabotage and, in a certain way, "black-out" concerning the struggles are not new facts, even if the use which is made of it today is much more systematic. On the other hand, the fact that the bourgeoisie resorts in an intensive way to the denigration and now uses the strong manner, is significant of the situation with which it is confronted. As we said in our bulletin, the ruling class must be at the same time directed towards the generalized war (imperialist bipolarisation etc.) and at the same time to impose an increasing misery on the working class. It has, with respect to the latter, less and less of room to manoeuvre and it must "pass in force" if necessary.
It is what characterizes the situation which we have entered for a few years; and the working class, through its struggles since 2001, started to oppose directly to these plans of the bourgeoisie. Without still becoming aware of the crucial importance of the stake.
It is from this point of view that the role of the few communist minorities takes all its meaning, all its importance.
In the present situation, in the phase of renewal which is confirmed, the main responsibility of the Communists is firstly to act for political clarification and for the gathering of their forces, for the fight against the opportunist drifts which threaten. That means by no means that they can be cleared of a "direct" intervention within their class when the situation requires it and that their forces allow it.
It is a truism of saying that the tasks and the role of the revolutionaries essentially consist in being at the head of their class, "its most conscious part" as said Marx in Communist Manifesto.
With these two leaflets, our fraction endeavored to make profitable the breach open on the social front to call to spread and to generalize the working class' struggles and to put forward the true stakes of the situation beyond the immediate reactions against the wages, the work and living conditions in a case; beyond the impotent angry outbursts of young workers condemned to social worthlessness by the bourgeoisie, in the other case.
In particular, our call to "the multiplication of the struggles" is also justified, from our point of view, by the fact that, during this period (inevitably short), our class, by this means, has, moreover, the possibility of thwarting the plans of the ruling class which we evoked above :
- it would thus make jump the coating of silence which is put on the majority of the working struggles which already exist and which are not known by the whole of the class;
- it would refuse to be intimidated or demoralized by the lies and other attempts of discredit of the working class' struggles, just as by repression or its threat.
In addition to the work of permanent sabotage that the trade unions make on the terrain and which results especially in the fatal isolation of every struggle, with the blackout and the constant deformation of the reality, the dominant class does all it can so that the expressions of combativeness which exist are not used as examples for all the workers, that they do not do oil spot; in fact it does all so that the struggles do not multiply and do not link themselves.
By these interventions within our class, we have the certainty that our fraction fully assumes its responsibilities as a political organization of the proletariat. Our task as Communists consists, initially and above all, to release from the prospects for its historical combat; but that does not have, in no case, to bring us to underestimate and to forsake its "economic" daily struggles for the defense of its immediate interests. In this way, it is necessary for us to be able to give to the workers concrete and realizable perspectives. However, in our participation in each movement of our class, we must orientate its expressions of anger towards the only concrete and realistic objective, the fight without compromise against a capitalist system which does not offer, as for itself, other prospects that more misery and the generalized war, to finish.
It is in response to these requirements that our fraction, present in the various demonstrations since October 4 and at the gates of certain companies, intervened several times with leaflets both in France and in Mexico.
Note for the english version of the bulletin : Unfortunatly, we're unable to translate into english - for lack of forces -the leaflet we distributed in October 2005 in France, Against the growing misery which the bourgeoisie imposes upon us, let's multiply our struggles and let's unify them. We refer our reader to its french and spanish versions published in our web site.
Let's just try to summarize it. It clearly appeared in September that a growing discontent within various parts of the working class was beginning to express in limited but open struggles in France. The important participation at the October 2nd street demonstrations called by the unions of not only the public sector but also of significant delegations of various companies of the private sector made necessary, we thought, to intervene and to call for developing the struggles. In the lealflet, we refer to various struggles in France and also to struggles occurring in Europe such as in Belgium (general strike in October 7th), in Germany...
The leaflet ends calling for "Let's oppose the widest social front to the bourgeoisie", and trying to give concrete perspectives for this such as "How to struggle ? All and altogether" and, in particular, beyond unifying the different sectors, focusing on the need for "joining massively, collectively, the street demonstrations (which are called today by the unions) even if we're not on strike, and to not hesitate to regroup in the demos for imposing generalization, spreading and unity of the struggle of all sectors as it was done during the strikes of Spring 2003 with the initiative of the teachers".
As the presentation above of this section of the bulletin says, we think we were right to do such an intervention since there was a true stake for the class struggle – of course limited and in relation to the historically low level of class struggle. It's not by chance the unions – surprised by the participation of the October 2nd "Day of action" – cancelled the meeting they had previously planned for another day of action and "forgot" it... The fact the working class didn't succeed, nor even really attempted to overcome this situation, reveals its present weaknesses despite the tendency to the revival of its struggles.
A few weeks later, the riots in the suburbs begun and the situation changed...
1 : R. Muselier, assistant of the Mayor in the city of Marseille, interviewed on French TV the 10/10, during the conflict of the SNCM (French ship transport company) and the docks in this city made himself the spokesman of the whole bourgeoisie while declaring : ""All that is an absolute drama. Because of the SNCM, Marseilles puts itself in strike… and by porosity we have an effect of dominos on conflicts which do not have absolutely anything to do with each others, where we are taken as hostages, where the Marseille people are taken as hostages… these strikes are unjustified and basically dangerous. "
Communist Bulletin Nš 33 - Internal Fraction of ICC