Monthly Archives: June 2011

France: Union Hacks Back Bosses’ Plan to Tax Workers

PARIS, June 18 — In order to boost the competitiveness and profits of French companies, the government is moving to lower the social security contributions paid by private business. Taxpayers — most of whom are workers — will have to make up the shortfall through a value-added tax on consumer goods. This amounts to a sales tax, and since the tax is the same no matter what one’s income, it will cost workers a greater percentage of their income than rich people.

Moreover, this is a racist tax since workers of Arab and African origin are disproportionately poorer and will pay a larger percentage of their income than higher-income people.

The idea was advanced in a June 8 report co-authored by three bosses’ organizations and three sellout trade union confederations.

This week, both the Industry Minister and the ruling UMP party’s general secretary pushed debating the scheme, the first step in passing a law. To win public backing, the measure is billed as an “anti-offshoring value-added tax.” They claim that wages in France are “too high” because of the social security contributions the bosses have to pay. The bosses pretend they won’t move their factories to low-wage countries if they get what amounts to a wage-cut for workers — the new tax would cut into workers’ wages.

Blackmail

This is straightforward blackmail: telling workers their jobs will disappear overseas if they don’t cough up.

Industry Minister Eric Besson said, “The idea of shifting company social security contributions to a tax on another tax base, like consumption, merits debate. The cost of labor is one of the key elements in competitiveness.”

By cutting social security contributions, French bosses hope to lower their costs and undersell their imperialist rivals, increasing their competitiveness. But once the new “anti-offshoring value-added tax” has been established, the second round will surely see the politicians cutting social security benefits in order to lower taxes.

Co-authoring this scheme, set out in a 40-page report entitled “Approach to French Competitiveness,” represents yet another betrayal by three sellout union confederations. It highlights the bankruptcy of the unity-at-any-price strategy pursued by the supposedly “class-struggle” unions.

In 2009, the three sellout unions — the CFDT, the Roman Catholic CFTC, and the business executives’ union, the CGC — began working with the bosses to collect data on economic indicators. Now they’ve gone a step further.  They want the bosses’ government to “rethink the tax base that finances social protection.”

A worker’s income is composed of wages and benefits, including social security benefits. The proposed cut in our income will increase the boss’s profits. The three sellout unions are quite simply urging the government to change the tax laws so that the bosses can steal more of the wealth that we — and we alone — create!

Union Leaders in Bed
with the Bosses

This attack on the working class is accompanied by nauseating class collaboration. The bosses and union leaders announced in chorus that they had “gone beyond ideological approaches.” CFTC president Joseph Thouvenel trumpeted that “confronted with a fall in competitiveness, we have exited the class struggle to look reality in the face.”

For the past three years, the three openly sellout union confederations have been working hand-in-glove with the bosses to concoct this report. Now they intend to use the document to indoctrinate their members and as a basis of reference in wage negotiations.

Throughout last year’s fight against raising the retirement age, the leaders of the so-called “class-struggle” union confederations — particularly France’s biggest confederation, the CGT (which represents 34% of all workers) — insisted on preserving unity with these sellouts (who together represent 38% of workers). They claimed this was “the key to success.”

But in effect, this strategy gave the sellouts a veto on any possible actions. It guaranteed the struggle would never exceed symbolic one-day strikes. It nixed any possibility of an unlimited general strike. The struggle against raising the retirement age was lost.

Clearly this “unity strategy” was nothing but a fig leaf. It concealed the unwillingness of the “class-struggle” union leaders to really organize against the attack on the retirement age. It allowed them to sabotage the millions-strong movement while shifting the blame to the more open sellouts. So-called “progressives” like CGT leader Bernard Thibault are no better than CFTC’s Joseph Thouvenel.

When masses of workers here understand the pro-capitalist nature of all the reformist union leaders, of whatever stripe, it will provide the basis to develop the needed revolutionary communist leadership. Organizing to convince workers of this reality is one of the important tasks of communists in France.

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Palestine: Racist Israeli Rulers Steal Workers’ Land

AL-WALAJA, EAST JERUSALEM, June 8 — A group of PL’ers visited the village of al-Walaja guided by a village council member. The village is near the Har Giloh neighborhood and the Knesset (Israel’s parliament), and is home to 2,600 workers in Palestine. There is a separation wall between the village and its fields. There is a separate entry gate for Israeli settlers to al-Walaja and Beit Jallah. These settlers from Susya occasionally come to attack the village – to close the water line, poison the vegetation or burn trees. Across the apartheid-style “separation” wall, there is a new Israeli settlement called “Givat Yael”; this is the Zionist dream of “Greater Jerusalem”  — stealing land all over the place.

Until the wall was built in April 2010, al-Walaja was open to Jerusalem. It is still relatively easy to get to al-Walaja from the Knesset, but when the wall is completed, access will be permitted only through an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) checkpoint.

There is also a bridge connecting Giloh to the Israeli settlements, which can only be used by Jews. Last year, this was brought to court because it was built on private Palestinian land. Its racist exclusion of Palestinian vehicles could not be justified by “security” excuses.  The main reason it exists is to freeze Palestinian land development and push Palestinians away from their homes by making their lives intolerable.

One third of al-Walaja’s houses were demolished or heavily fined due to alleged “construction permit violations!” Half of the village is within Jerusalem’s municipal jurisdiction, while the other half is controlled by the IDF’s “Civil” Administration. The residents of al-Walaja have Palestinian IDs and thus no civil rights under Israeli law, despite the fact that they could prove that they lived on their lands since before the 1948 war. Al-walaja needs two schools, but in practice there is only one. The infrastructure is also terrible.

The only solution is the dictatorship of the proletariat worldwide. In a communist state, workers will receive according to need and work together to build a better future for everyone. The capitalist racist Israeli regime is colonial by definition: it enforces the exploitation and division of the working class, both Jews and Arabs. Therefore, it must be replaced by communist workers’ state

Dallas Students Walk Out vs. Racist Cuts, Teacher Firing

DALLAS, June 15 — This year there has been an upswing in student and teacher activism against school cut-backs at a high school here. A combination of anger over the cuts plus talk with students about fighting back has sparked a militant spirit among many students and teachers, one absent for many years on this campus. The fact that these cuts affect a predominantly black and Latino student body reveals their racist nature.

The school bosses fired a veteran English teacher and, having no intention of hiring another teacher, rotated substitute teachers in and out of the class every day. With no curriculum, students created their own lesson plan: using the wasted time in class to make protest posters and organize a rally and walkout.

The following day, about 30 students walked out of class during 2nd period, the one used to calculate the average daily attendance. As students streamed out they chanted to bring back the fired teacher.

Students held their ground throughout the period and into the next one. Then 40 more students joined the rally. A few teachers, including a PL’er, stood nearby to show solidarity with the protest. As the rally grew, administrators became increasingly worried and sent cops to threaten students with $500 fines. Most students then returned to class.

Back in the classroom students told their stories: about how the media refused to cover the event and how administrators made threatening and degrading remarks to individual students. The rest of the day we discussed how the budget cuts would bring even more layoffs and the need for more student fight-back.  For the first time many students began to see the real impact of the cuts on the school as well as their own power to fight the cuts.

The challenge since the walkout has been to maintain this heightened level of struggle and student confidence in their power to make change. Even though the teacher was not rehired, it was a learning experience showing the potential to build a movement against the cuts and eventually for communism, a system without profiteers.

In the following weeks, the level of fight-back has been uneven.  While activity died down after the walkout, several faculty and students have participated in off-campus rallies and demonstrations opposing the cuts. Primarily the liberal teacher unions and other liberal misleaders, with the explicit message of “voting for change,” have led these actions.

At one rally, the local teachers’ union organizers held up signs displaying the phone numbers of congressmen. They told the crowd right then and there to call “their” legislators to “save our schools.” Instead of phoning these political phonies, PL’ers and our friends began chanting, “No cuts, no way! Make the bosses pay!” Soon the entire crowd joined our chant and, in order to save face, even the union misleaders did so.

As this school year ends, several faculty are being laid off or placed in “excess” pools from which their hiring is questionable. At a final faculty meeting, a PL teacher publically denounced all the layoffs in the entire school district, pointing out to those in attendance that they may not have a job next year, saying we should hold the administration and school board accountable.

While many teachers agreed with this speech, very few said so publically. The fear that these fascist cut-backs bring is evident; the majority of teachers are afraid to simply talk about the cuts for fear of losing their jobs.  This is the paralyzing grip of fascism, a fear forcing one to accept worse and worse conditions, and bite the bullet one more year, even as everyone around you is being laid off. This grim reality means we must re-double our efforts. Despite heightened levels of fight-back throughout this school year, there is still much work to be done.

PL’ers and the new friends we’ve made are planning to continue the struggle into the summer with a study group to discuss the relationship of the cuts to capitalism and imperialism. As was revealed during the struggle, the ruling class’s inexorable drive to finance its imperialist wars is behind the constant cuts in budgets allotted to workers’ and students’ needs, especially for blacks and Latinos. We will make these connections by showing CHALLENGE to more people and developing CHALLENGE study groups out of these summer groups.

In order to raise the level of class struggle even higher, we must do more to involve parents and win more students and faculty to a spirit of unity and fight-back like never before. This will enhance our ability to recruit them to the Party.J

 

 

Racist Philly Cops Murder Unarmed Black Youth

PHILADELPHIA, June 15 — On May 9, a racist Philadelphia cop murdered a 19-year-old unarmed black worker, Albert D. “Audi” Purnell, Jr. This young man was shot in cold blood after he had followed police orders and raised his hands in the air and surrendered. He was shot in front of a number of witnesses. The KKKops claimed he had a gun and “fit the description” of a suspect they were searching for. The witnesses have all declared that the police murdered him.

Audi’s father, Albert Purnell, Sr., a hospital worker and friend of PLP, and his mother Tracey are demanding justice for their murdered son. Hahnemann hospital workers are mad as hell and supporting this struggle against the racist cops.

Audi had just graduated from high school and begun working in the mechanical engineering section of the Department of Welfare. He was the father of a young daughter whom he loved dearly. He was on his way to visit his fiancé and their daughter when he was killed. The police and district attorney are doing everything they can to cover up this racist murder, including arresting and trying to intimidate the witnesses and seizing any video surveillance cameras in the area. They’re refusing to reveal the names of the cops and other details of the investigation.

Since this police murder, they have shot seven more black men in Philadelphia, including a SEPTA bus driver. PL members, along with their friends among the hospital workers, are taking an active part in the growing movement against this racist police terror. (More details in future issues.)J

 

 

 

Palestine: Racist Israeli Rulers Steal Workers’ Land

AL-WALAJA, EAST JERUSALEM, June 8 — A group of PL’ers visited the village of al-Walaja guided by a village council member. The village is near the Har Giloh neighborhood and the Knesset (Israel’s parliament), and is home to 2,600 workers in Palestine. There is a separation wall between the village and its fields. There is a separate entry gate for Israeli settlers to al-Walaja and Beit Jallah. These settlers from Susya occasionally come to attack the village – to close the water line, poison the vegetation or burn trees. Across the apartheid-style “separation” wall, there is a new Israeli settlement called “Givat Yael”; this is the Zionist dream of “Greater Jerusalem”  — stealing land all over the place.

Until the wall was built in April 2010, al-Walaja was open to Jerusalem. It is still relatively easy to get to al-Walaja from the Knesset, but when the wall is completed, access will be permitted only through an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) checkpoint.

There is also a bridge connecting Giloh to the Israeli settlements, which can only be used by Jews. Last year, this was brought to court because it was built on private Palestinian land. Its racist exclusion of Palestinian vehicles could not be justified by “security” excuses.  The main reason it exists is to freeze Palestinian land development and push Palestinians away from their homes by making their lives intolerable.

One third of al-Walaja’s houses were demolished or heavily fined due to alleged “construction permit violations!” Half of the village is within Jerusalem’s municipal jurisdiction, while the other half is controlled by the IDF’s “Civil” Administration. The residents of al-Walaja have Palestinian IDs and thus no civil rights under Israeli law, despite the fact that they could prove that they lived on their lands since before the 1948 war. Al-walaja needs two schools, but in practice there is only one. The infrastructure is also terrible.

The only solution is the dictatorship of the proletariat worldwide. In a communist state, workers will receive according to need and work together to build a better future for everyone. The capitalist racist Israeli regime is colonial by definition: it enforces the exploitation and division of the working class, both Jews and Arabs. Therefore, it must be replaced by communist workers’ state.

Libya Invasion Exposes Obama’s Turn to Fascism, Dogfight in U.S. Ruling Class

Centralization of power — military, political and economic — is a hallmark of fascism, the deadly necessary tool capitalists employ when they can no longer hide behind the façade of “democracy.” Obama’s Libya power grab reflects desperate efforts by the dominant — but embattled — imperialist wing of U.S. bosses to retain its grip on foreign policy. One aim of fascism is for the dominant capitalists — who must protect the long-range survival of their system — to discipline those bosses who are only out for immediate profits and disregard how negatively that might impact the system in the long run.

But Obama’s masters have a big problem. The U.S. is a big country, made up of many competing capitalists with competing interests. All employ politicians in Washington. The biggest bosses, such as the Rockefeller-bloc — owners of imperialist firms like Exxon, JP Morgan and GE — require the U.S. war machine to guard and help expand their far-flung operations. Liberal Democrats, including Obama, as well as a number of interventionist Republicans, serve them.

War-maker Obama Must Skirt Polarized, Partisan Congress

Seeking to turn part of the Arab Spring into a Khadafy-free oil free-for-all on behalf of Big Oil, U.S.-led NATO has conducted over 4,300 air strikes so far in Libya. One, on June 17, killed seven civilians. Yet Obama insists this bloodshed does not amount to “hostilities” under the War Powers Act and thus needs no Congressional consent.

In 1973, when their Vietnam genocide was failing and masses of workers and GI’s were turning against this imperialist invasion, U.S. rulers cooked up this Act in order to blame the war on Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon personally rather than on U.S. bosses’ need to counter their then rising state capitalist rivals in the Soviet Union and China. The Act’s purpose was also to put a “democratic” face on future U.S. wars by demanding Congress approve a president’s military action within 90 days. After all, the bosses’ Big Lie goes, Congress “represents the whole nation,” even though it is mostly a ruling class rubber stamp. But today Obama claims a license to kill without a thumbs-up from either Senate or House.

Oil-based Domestic Splits Sharpening

But some businesses, like Koch Oil, have primarily a short-range, domestic focus. Koch’s main push today is to build a pipeline from Canada’s burgeoning oil and gas tar fields that will connect with its existing Minnesota line. It runs through the district that Koch-backed, Tea Party presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann represents on Capitol Hill. Opposing Obama’s War Powers move, she told ABC News (6/19/11) the U.S. has “no vital national interest” in Libya. In addition, smaller business owners, seeking tax relief as a way out of the current recession, bankrolled successful anti-Obama, Tea Party candidates for Congress in 2011.

Obama also faces less ideologically consistent Republican opportunists, like front-runner Mitt Romney, trying to cash in on mass anti-war sentiment. His calls for “bringing the troops home,” designed to defeat Obama, echo Obama’s own fake 2008 campaign “peace” appeals aimed at Bush, Jr., designed to capitalize on mass disgust with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

U.S.-led Alliances Faltering

However much they need it, the main, imperialist U.S. rulers have been unable — since 1941 — to unite Congress to declare war. Similar dysfunction besets them internationally. Retiring Pentagon chief Robert Gates spent a good deal of his worldwide farewell tour berating NATO “allies” for not ponying up in troops, money or supplies. Germany, for example, chiefly dependent on Russian energy, is sitting out the mainly U.S., British and French slaughter in Libya. Washington’s NATO funding, moaned Gates in a recent speech in Belgium, has soared from a one-half to three-quarters share.

As for Libya in particular, Gates said, “While every alliance member voted for the Libya mission, less than half have participated at all, and fewer than a third have been willing to participate in the strike mission.” (Defense Department, 6/10/11) And Gates wasn’t even talking about potentially necessary invasions of Syria, Iran or Saudi Arabia — in the latter’s case to protect Exxon’s oil — in which “allies” have divergent oil and gas interests and therefore different levels of loyalty to Washington.

But U.S. Rulers’ Need for World War Persists

A week later in Singapore, however, formerly pessimistic Gates chirped merrily in a veiled way about a possible allied World War III victory over potential imperialist enemies: “[W]hen America is willing to lead the way; when we meet our commitments and stand with our allies, even in troubling times; when we prepare for threats that are on the ground and on the horizon, and even beyond the horizon; and when we make the necessary sacrifices and take the necessary risks to defend our values and our interests — then great things are possible, and even probable for our country, this region, and the world.” Who might be “on or beyond the horizon” but Chinese and Russian imperialists?

To survive amid intensifying rivalry, U.S. capitalists will do what they can and must to keep profits flowing. This mean widening wars of every kind, accompanied by an increasing police-state crackdown in the U.S. A principal face of fascism is evident in U.S. bosses’ need to intensify the squeeze on U.S. workers to pay for these wars through wage-cuts and speed-up, employing less workers to produce more; through huge budget cuts in social services; through fending off possible resistance by the tens of millions of unemployed; through the maintenance of racism in all these areas to extract super-profits from black, Latino and immigrant workers; and through the exploitation of workers worldwide to keep U.S. capitalism afloat.

The international working class’s survival, then, depends on building one united international communist party — PLP — that can function under conditions of war and fascism with the aim of overthrowing the murdering billionaire class. It is towards this goal that PLP members throughout the world must build our Party in every area of class struggle in which we are involved.

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Afghanistan: TAPI Pipeline, Imperialist Rivalry Make U.S. Troop Withdrawal Impossible

Obama and his war counselors continue to engage in a tactical debate over the length and duration of the occupation in Afghanistan, as noted in the June 6 New York Times. But the United States’ long-term strategic necessity to protect this valuable real estate was made plain in a brutal terror attack one week earlier.

On May 28, U.S. bombs killed five girls, seven boys, and two women as they slept in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, one of the devastated areas (along with Kandahar province) that lie along the path of the TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) gas pipeline. At the time, U.S. puppet Afghan president Karzai was off in neighboring Turkmenistan, negotiating details of TAPI. The killings stem directly from this deal and exemplify the anti-worker violence inherent in capitalist competition.

Obama & Co. ordered the Helmand strike in retaliation for the death of a Marine whose job was to help secure the pipeline. It makes little difference whether the targeting was accidental or deliberate. Either way, U.S. rulers have been indiscriminately killing innocent civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq for three decades. Their willingness to slaughter millions in this imperial exploit ranks with Hitler’s terrorist V-2 rocket raids on London and the U.S. holocausts in Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki.

We shouldn’t sell liberals like Obama short in their capacity for brutal terror. As Madeline Albright acknowledged in 2000 regarding the death of half a million Iraqi children from U.S.-imposed sanctions, “This is a very hard choice, but we think the price is worth it.”

U.S. Rulers’ Strategic Need to
Occupy Afghanistan

Since the days of Bill Clinton, U.S. imperialists have treasured the notion of a gas route through Afghanistan. In 1998, U.S. Unocal (now owned by Chevron) stood on the brink of a pipeline contract with the Taliban, the local force that the U.S. armed to the teeth, enabling them to rule the country.

But the fundamentalist Taliban double-crossed its U.S. bosses — twice. First, the Taliban rejected Unocal and inked a pact with Argentine energy conglomerate Bridas (now half-owned by China). Second, the Taliban played host to al Qaeda, another U.S. creation-turned-enemy. In response, following plans drawn up long before 9/11, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001.

Today, Taliban forces challenge U.S. occupiers for control of TAPI. But as important as this potential energy bonanza may be, it’s the prospect of future wars against far more threatening rivals that motivates the Pentagon’s Afghan effort. As Khalil Nouri, a member of U.S. imperialists’ Afghanistan Study Group, boasts,  “[TAPI] consolidates NATO’s political and military presence in the strategic high plateau that overlooks Russia, Iran, India, Pakistan and China….TAPI proves a perfect setting for the alliance’s future projection of military power for ‘crisis management’ in Central Asia” (Examiner.com, 5/19/11).

In other words, TAPI offers both control over critical energy resources and a military beachhead for future U.S. interventions in the area.

Forget About Obama’s
Afghan Pull-out

These long-term geopolitical factors explain why the liberal Brookings Institution boosts VP Biden’s Afghan plan that “would keep an average of perhaps 50,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan over the coming year, 30,000 the following year and 20,000 in the country thereafter, indefinitely” (Brookings website, 6/3/11).

Meanwhile, Obama’s outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates spoke doubletalk to say that U.S. troops in Afghanistan weren’t going anywhere soon: “Between the successes we have already enjoyed and the increased capacity of the Afghan forces, we are in a position — based on conditions on the ground, as the president has said — to consider some modest drawdowns beginning in July” (USA Today, 6/5/11). Translation: Because of U.S. failures and the incompetence of Afghan forces, GIs will remain in Afghanistan for a long time.

So the carnage will continue. It will stop only when its root cause — the profits that come from military control of resources or strategic advantage over capitalist rivals — is demolished. We need a communist revolution to destroy the current dog-eat-dog system and replace it with egalitarian, working-class rule.J

 

CIA Created Taliban

(This is an excerpt from an interview in 2000 from the Indian Times where a U.S. crony exposes the CIA creation of the Taliban. )

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) worked in tandem with Pakistan to create the “monster” that is today…Taliban, a leading US expert on South Asia said here.

“I warned them that we were creating a monster,” Selig Harrison from the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars said at the conference…on “Terrorism and Regional Security: Managing the Challenges in Asia.”

Harrison said: “The CIA made a historic mistake in encouraging Islamic groups from all over the world to come to Afghanistan.” The U.S. provided $3 billion for building up these Islamic groups, and it accepted Pakistan’s demand that they should decide how this money should be spent, Harrison said….he had meetings with CIA leaders at the time when Islamic forces were being strengthened in Afghanistan. “They told me these people were fanatical, and the more fierce they were the more fiercely they would fight the Soviets,” he said. “I warned them that we were creating a monster.”

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France: Union Hacks Back Bosses’ Plan to Tax Workers

PARIS, June 18 — In order to boost the competitiveness and profits of French companies, the government is moving to lower the social security contributions paid by private business. Taxpayers – most of whom are workers – will have to make up the shortfall.

The idea was advanced in a June 8 report co-authored by three bosses’ organizations and three sellout trade union confederations.

This week, the Industry Minister and the ruling UMP party’s general secretary pushed debating the scheme, the first step in passing a law. To win public backing, the measure is billed as an “anti-offshoring value-added tax.” This is straightforward blackmail: telling workers their jobs will disappear overseas if they don’t cough up.

Industry Minister Eric Besson said, “The idea of shifting company social security contributions to a tax on another tax base, like consumption, merits debate. The cost of labor is one of the key elements in competitiveness.”

Workers would be doubly penalized, first by losing the part of their wages that companies pay into the social security funds, and secondly by paying extra taxes out of the wages that the boss pays them directly.

Co-authoring this scheme, set out in a 40-page report entitled “Approach to French Competitiveness,” represents yet another betrayal by three sellout union confederations. It highlights the bankruptcy of the unity-at-any-price strategy pursued by the supposedly “class-struggle” unions.

In 2009, the three sellout unions — the CFDT, the Roman Catholic CFTC, and the business executives’ union, the CGC, began working with the bosses to collect data on economic indicators. Now they’ve gone a step further.  They want the bosses’ government to “rethink the tax base that finances social protection.”

By cutting social security contributions, French bosses hope to undersell their imperialist rivals and increase their competitiveness. But once the new “anti-offshoring value-added tax” has been established, the second round will surely see the politicians cutting social security benefits in order to lower taxes.

A worker’s income is composed of wages and benefits, including social security benefits. The proposed cut in our income will increase the boss’s profits. The three sellout unions are quite simply urging the government to change the tax laws so that the bosses can steal more of the wealth that we — and we alone — create!

This attack on the working class is accompanied by nauseating anti-communism. The bosses and union leaders announced in chorus that they had “gone beyond ideological approaches.” CFTC president Joseph Thouvenel trumpeted that “confronted with a fall in competitiveness, we have exited the class struggle to look reality in the face.”

For the past three years, the three openly sellout union confederations have been working hand-in-glove with the bosses to concoct this report. Now they intend to use the document to indoctrinate their members and as a basis of reference in wage negotiations.

Throughout last year’s fight against raising the retirement age, the leaders of the so-called “class-struggle” union confederations — particularly France’s biggest confederation, the CGT (which represents 34% of workers) — insisted on preserving unity with these sellouts (which together represent 38% of workers). They claimed this was “the key to success.”

But in effect, this strategy gives the sellouts a veto on any possible actions. It guarantees the struggle would never exceed symbolic one-day strikes. It nixed any possibility of an unlimited general strike. The struggle against raising the retirement age was lost.

Clearly this “unity strategy” was nothing but a fig leaf? It concealed the unwillingness of the “class-struggle” union leaders to really organize against the attack on the retirement age. It allowed them to sabotage the millions-strong movement while shifting the blame to the more open sellouts. So-called “progressives” like CGT leader Bernard Thibault are no better than CFTC’s Joseph Thouvenel.

When masses of workers here understand the pro-capitalist nature of all the reformist union leaders, of whatever stripe, it will provide the basis to develop the needed revolutionary communist leadership. Organizing to convince workers of this reality is one of the important tasks of communists in France.

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