Tag Archives: France

Smash Imperialism and Terrorism!

In a protest against racism, specifically anti-Muslim racism, members and friends of PLP marched in different areas of Brooklyn on 11/15/15, the day after the terrorist attacks in France.  This is a copy of the leaflet that was distributed to the working class there.  

(Click here for leaflet on Paris Terorist Attack)

Immediately following the Paris attacks, the mass media has ramped up anti-Arab, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant racism, using them as an excuse for intensified border control and calls for war. These racist responses to a horrendous attack on the working class of Paris are exactly what the ruling class wants (whether they are French, U.S. or Saudi bosses). What we really need is working class unity against all these bosses and their warmongering.

The best way to stand in solidarity with our Parisian sisters and brothers against this most recent carnage is to stand against imperialist war on our jobs, schools and universities. These recent attacks in Paris reflect the continued chaos created by the US and French led oil war in Iraq and Syria.

Same Enemy, Same Fight!

From Paris to Damascus, Baghdad to Brooklyn the workers of the world have no good side in this dogfight for oil profits in the Middle East. Only under the international communist red flag of Progressive Labor Party (PLP) can we turn these racist wars and fascist anti-immigrant policies into a class war and fight for communism: a world without borders, wars for profit, racism or sexism.

With all their rhetoric about creating an Islamic state, ISIS (which is composed primarily of former military of the old Saddam regime and funded by both oil profits sold on the black market and small-time Saudi bosses), has actual dreams of maintaining control of key oil and gas fields in direct competition to the US and French bosses.

Since September, 2015 the French bosses have deployed their only aircraft carrier, and just this past week have expanded their bombing campaign from Iraq into Syria, carrying out over 1,300 sorties and 271 airstrikes murdering thousands of workers “without mercy.”

Workers of the World Unite!

Workers need to unite internationally against all imperialists. Communist revolution is the only solution to the problems of capitalism but we need millions of committed workers to make that happen. Communism means no bosses’ borders creating fake divisions for our class. We will share all of the world’s resources for the benefit of our whole class!

Smash Anti-Muslim racism!

Join the international Progressive Labor Party in the fight for Communism!

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2011: Crisis-driven Bosses Attack, But Class Struggle Alive and Well

The events of 2011 served to remind us of two important aspects of capitalist society. First, the bosses of the world, caught in a sharpening struggle against their rivals and a spreading financial crisis, always have their knives out to assault the working class. Attacks intensified against our jobs, education, health, homes and families. The myths of democracy, fairness and opportunity for workers were exposed by a worldwide reality: we live under the bosses’ dictatorship. The past year made clear that regardless of national boundaries, no matter the “race” or gender of the boss, the ruling class will eagerly consign workers to hell on earth for the smallest gain in profit.

The ultimate expression of the boss’s callousness to sacrifice the lives of workers is imperialist war, of which there was no shortage in 2011. The U.S., still the main capitalist power in the world, continued its racist massacres in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan in hopes of securing the Middle East’s oil and natural gas. Without the growth of a new worldwide communist movement, the prospects for 2012 and beyond are not much better.

While the U.S. remains the dominant power, other rivals, most prominently China, are gaining power — militarily, economically and politically. This challenge does not go unnoticed by the U.S. ruling class. The recent announcement by President Obama (the Nobel Peace Prize winner) that U.S. Marines will be stationed in northern Australia, alongside the recent diplomatic overtures to Myanmar, which borders China, signal a future where direct military conflict between the U.S. and China will be increasingly likely.

But the deadly maneuvering of the ruling class is only one side of the story of 2011. The second lesson, clearly visible from a quick look back through the pages of any of the bosses’ newspapers, is that workers are not meekly accepting these attacks. Class struggle is alive and well.  The list of places where large-scale rebellion rocked the bosses this past year is a long one: Algeria, Bangladesh, Colombia, Egypt, England, France, Greece, Israel/Palestine, Libya, Mexico, Pakistan, Spain, Syria, the U.S., and more.

To advance the cause of communist revolution, the international Progressive Labor Party has joined and led some of these militant struggles. In the pages of CHALLENGE, these battles and many other reports of class struggle were presented with a communist analysis.  If we are ever to defeat the murderous bosses and end their reign of terror, the working class must transform these narrow reform struggles into a fight for the working class to take state power — a fight for communist revolution.

The International PLP Advances

In New York City, the working class took on the racist Department of Education and its plan to impose Jim Crow-style segregation at the John Jay Campus high schools. In Israel/Palestine, a Summer Project participated in the fight against racist evictions and the housing shortage gripping workers there. In Haiti, we struggled to help rebuild a shattered society with communist principles of international solidarity and equality.

PL’s Summer Project in Haiti included a “Freedom School” for the discussion of communist principles. “Serve the working class” became more than a motto; it was put into practice when Party members created a clinic to serve the medical needs for Haitians in tent camps. The racist health care system was also a focus for comrades in the U.S. In New York we fought against the racist closing of Brookdale Hospital. Comrades and friends in Philadelphia fought to prevent the firing of a trusted hospital coworker. In Chicago, where hospital bosses tried to give patients a death sentence by transferring them to a decrepit facility, PL and others fought back.

Chicago was also the battleground for the heroic efforts of students and parents (primarily mothers), supported by the Party, to prevent the racist closing of the Whittier School library. Providing an example for the Occupy movement to follow, the parents (primarily mothers) and students at this majority Latino school, supported by the Party, seized the building and renamed it “La Casita.” For nearly a month, they held off the racist dogs of the Chicago Department of Education from carrying out their plan. Our comrades helped in many ways, from medical care to overnight guard duty. All the while they pointed out that whether we won or lost this particular battle, the bosses would still have state power. Our job is to fight not only “our” bosses, but bosses everywhere.

In Pakistan and Bangladesh, communists infused labor struggles in garment factories and universities with a vision of a society based on need rather than profit. In Mexico, where flooding threatened to destroy a community of 200,000 people, the Party explained that if our communist predecessors in the Soviet Union could move entire factories over the Ural mountains in three months during World War II, we could protect their city — if we had state power.

In these places and others around the world, CHALLENGE was ever-present. It consistently hammered home the point that it is only when we take on capitalism itself — when we transform battles against corrupt dictators, greedy bankers and fascist school boards into a world-wide communist movement — will we achieve workers’ liberation.

Arab Spring and Wall Street Occupy Working Class’s Imagination

Perhaps the most significant expressions of working-class fight-back were the upheavals in North Africa and the Middle East, collectively dubbed the Arab Spring, and in the Occupy Wall Street movement, a worldwide rage at the inequality of wealth that is the hallmark of capitalism.

The Arab Spring began with a rebellion in Tunisia that followed the self-immolation of a desperate young worker. But the uprising was fueled by a 13% official unemployment rate (about 30% for youth), skyrocketing prices for food, and political corruption. Similarly, in Egypt, while the bourgeois media focused on Cairo’s Tahrir Square and the struggle for “democracy,” the real battles were over rampant unemployment and the price of food. Strikes at Egypt’s textile mills, pharmaceutical plants, chemical industries, the Cairo airport, the transportation sector, banks, ports and the Suez Canal are the primary source of revolutionary optimism.

Workers throughout the world cheered on scenes from Tunisia and Tahrir Square, which makes the outcome of these battles all the more painful. In Egypt, ruthless dictator Hosni Mubarak was first replaced by a ruthless military and now in addition by the even more ruthless Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists (see CHALLENGE, 10/19). In Tunisia, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted and elections were held in October, but unemployment still crushes the youth there. This is the essence of reform struggles. However militant it may be, any struggle that fails to attack the entire capitalist system will simply replace one set of bosses with another. For workers, the promise of a new society has been met with the reality of continued joblessness and misery.

Nonetheless, the international working class proudly looked on as workers in Tahrir Square held up signs reading, “We are all Wisconsin,” a reference to the 100,000-strong protest against the attack on public sector workers in that state. Months before anyone occupied a park near Wall Street, thousands of workers occupied the state capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin.

Just as in Cairo, however, the brave workers of Wisconsin have been misled, this time into backing electoral politics and the Democratic Party. In the midst of this struggle, the Party brought forward the idea that both the fascist Governor Scott Walker and the supposedly “heroic” Democrats were all defenders of capitalism — and were all therefore enemies of the working class. This communist idea attracted many workers in Wisconsin and around the world.

In September, the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement began in New York City before spreading to more than 1,500 cities worldwide. OWS captured the attention of workers who were tired of seeing banks get trillions of dollars in bailouts while education, transportation, health care, wages and jobs are slashed. One chant especially reflected this anger: “Banks got bailed out; We got sold out!” Throughout 2011, the Party participated in many of these occupations, picket lines, schools, churches and job sites, armed with leaflets and CHALLENGE.

PLP continues to strive to replace the dead-end reform tactics of the old communist movement with the fight for revolutionary communism for billions of workers in the world.

May Day

This past year was the 140th anniversary of the Paris Commune, the first time workers took control of the state. In this spirit, we celebrated May Day with marches, dinners and songs. From Colombia to El Salvador, in Los Angeles and New York, in Haiti and Palestine, we raised the red flag honoring our revolutionary ancestors. This year our May Day celebrations grew in size and better reflected the international character of the working class.

Turning Fascist Oppression into Communist Organizing

The working class continues to suffer from the racist exploitation and oppression that capitalism requires. In their increasingly desperate competition for dominance, the various national ruling classes outdo one another in making workers homeless, sick, maimed or killed in pursuit of profit. Frantic about “sovereign debt,” collapsing banks, currency disasters (notably the euro) and the industrial crisis of overproduction, the world’s bosses are peeling back their thin masks of “democracy” to reveal the bloody maw of a fascist monster. Meanwhile, the fight over Central Asian and Middle Eastern oil and natural gas appears to be careening toward broader military conflicts.

As we move into 2012, the battles against our capitalist enemies will continue to rage. The workers of the world will continue to fight back, in ways large and small. Everything we do as workers and communists counts: every march or picket line or discussion strengthened by  communist ideas, every time we help another worker and demonstrate how we can build a society without the parasitic bosses. By doing these things and more, the Party will help the working class move closer to ushering in a classless society that produces for need, not profit. Communist ideas are essential for this crucial advance. A mass, international, revolutionary party is necessary to lead the way. PL is that party. Now is the time to join!

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Murderers Without Borders Imperialists Cloak Libyan Oil Grab with Phony ‘Humanitarianism’

Obama’s invasion of oil-rich Libya marks U.S. imperialists’ first major use of their phony “Responsibility To Protect” (RTP) excuse for waging wider wars. The RTP doctrine, adopted at a 2005 UN summit, despite China’s and Russia’s objections, eliminates capitalist national borders as obstacles to imperialist intervention. The invaders have only to assert that they’re “rescuing the locals.”

Bombing and missile raids by the U.S. (with junior partner Britain and temporary ally France) supposedly aim at saving Libya’s citizens from dictator Qaddafi, under RTP. But the wave of Mideast rebellions made U.S. rulers and their imperialist allies shaky over maintaining the oil deals they’ve made with each other and Qaddafi over past years.

Obama was very ready to allot hundreds of millions for this latest war while cutting billions from education and social service budgets, causing massive layoffs of teachers and other government workers. The initial U.S. Navy attack with 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles alone cost nearly $100 million. As of March 29, the Pentagon had spent $550 million in the first ten days.

The upsurge that spread from Tunisia to Algeria to Egypt, where thousands of workers struck for higher wages and against mass unemployment as they did in Iraq — and continues to spread throughout the region — made the oil-thirsty imperialists nervous. Therefore, the U.S.-led campaign focused on protecting the Libyan assets of oil giants Exxon Mobil, Marathon, and Occidental (U.S.); BP (U.K.); and Total (French). At this writing, NATO air strikes were helping pro-U.S. rebels seize two oil refineries and a strategic export terminal. On March 27, they captured two oil-export ports.

Of course, the U.S. chose not to “rescue” protestors in Bahrain, the base of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, and allowed its government and invading Saudi troops to kill hundreds to ward off any rebellion that might eventually threaten Saudi’s oil fields, the world’s largest.

In a March 24 article, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), U.S. imperialism’s top think-tank — bankrolled by Exxon Mobil-JP Morgan Chase — trumpets U.S.-led killing in Libya as “A New Lease on Life for Humanitarianism.” Its author, war criminal Stewart Patrick, who helped shape Afghan strategy in Bush, Jr.’s State Department, called RTP, as executed in Libya, the “biggest challenge to state sovereignty in three and a half centuries.”

Patrick was referring to Obama’s effective trashing of the long-lived 17th century Treaties of Westphalia. Those Treaties had enshrined the existence of capitalist nation states and defined invasion — the rulers’ ultimate means of sorting out differences — as war.

But today, after the demise of the old communist movement, U.S. bosses, though in decline, temporarily enjoy unequaled ability to project military force anywhere on earth. So Obama & Co. claim the RTP right to selectively invade any country, cloaked as “saviors” rather than aggressors. Patrick writes, “it [RTP] makes a state’s presumed right of non-intervention contingent on its ability and willingness to protect its citizens and threatens collective, timely, and decisive action if it does not.”

Liberal Rulers’ ‘Responsibility To
Protect’ = License to Invade and Kill

In addition to the elite, Rockefeller-backed CFR, the lethal, hypocritical “responsibility-to-protect” pretext has a champion in Human Rights Watch.  HRW, a mass organization founded and funded by billionaire swindler and Rockefeller ally George Soros, lures well-meaning people to liberal causes that aid U.S. imperialism. In a March 25 web article praising both the Libyan invasion and RTP, Human Rights Watch approved killing civilians:

“Opposing forces may attack a military target that is making use of human shields, but it is still obligated to determine whether the attack is proportionate — that is, that the expected loss of civilian life and property is not greater than the anticipated military advantage of the attack.” Oil facilities, presumably, meet the callous cost-benefit test. HRW also urges U.S. “humanitarian intervention” in Ivory Coast’s violent presidental dispute in which China and the Western imperialists back opposing sides.

U.S. Bosses in War Policy Disarray: Isolationist Tea Partiers vs. World War III Imperialists

But not all U.S. capitalists embrace Obama’s North African foray. In fact, fearing opposition from forces lacking imperialist interests (personified by Tea Partiers), Obama did not consult Congress before raining missiles on Tripoli.  More importantly, to some power brokers within the dominant imperialist wing of U.S. rulers, Libya pales beside bigger worries:

“We clearly have much more vital interests to protect in Yemen and Bahrain [neighbors of the U.S. oil empire’s cornerstone Saudi Arabia — Ed.]” says Rockefeller Brothers Fund trustee and former State Department planner Nicholas Burns. (Boston Globe, 3/22/11) But, says Burns. “We have no choice now but to lead in order to save Libya from its dictator and to redeem U.S. power, credibility, and purpose in the Middle East.”

Richard Haass, CFR president and advisor to mass murderer of Iraq War I, Colin Powell, looks even farther down the road to his masters’ ultimate requirements. On Libya, he expressed doubts (CFR website, 3/21/11) about “committing the United States to another costly foreign intervention at a moment we owe it to ourselves…to get our economic and military houses in order so we can meet our obligations at home and be prepared to meet true wars of necessity (North Korea for one) if and when they arise?” Haass speaks not so indirectly about U.S. imperialists’ needs to militarize the nation for all-out war with China (North Korea’s enabler).

Supporting oil-thirsty Pentagon-backed Libyan rebel leaders as “freedom fighters” — however courageous the rank and file is — leads down a political dead end. Rather workers must build for the ultimate destruction of the profit system that constantly produces regional resource wars, like Libya, as preludes to global inter-imperialist conflict.

That’s why PL’ers and our supporters must expose the racist exploitative profit system and its oppression at every turn, in factories and unions, among GI’s and in schools, churches and all mass organizations. More important, we must up the ante of the class struggle in these areas, escalating and leading the anti-racist fights against the ruling class and its lackey politicians.

Consequently, as the class struggle intensifies, the rulers will strike back with their state power (as they’re doing in the Mideast and in Wisconsin). This can be used still further to turn the class struggle into a “school for communism.” This means winning workers and their allies to see that the system cannot be reformed and to understand that building PLP and it’s goal of organizing a communist revolution — that will end the capitalists’ deadly dogfights and put the working class in power — is the only road to follow.

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General Strike Jolts France: 2.5 Million Marchers Say Make the Bosses Take the Losses

SAINT-NAZAIRE, FRANCE, February 7 — On January 29, as part of a massive general strike of hundreds of thousands of workers, 2.5 million people marched for jobs and against government cutbacks in almost 200 cities across France, with 300,000 demonstrating in Paris and 200,000 in Marseilles.

At least 18,000 demonstrated in this ship-building port in western France. When the sub-prefect (the local representative of the national government) refused to receive a union delegation, protesters began throwing beer cans at the riot police protecting the sub-prefecture. When the police attacked with tear gas, workers tore down the entry gate and four hours of street fighting ensued. The cops injured a number of protesters, one seriously and rounded up 16 people, partly at random, some of whom have already been sentenced to jail.

The bosses in France are very nervous. Even the government’s under-stated figures show nine months of rising unemployment have left 2.1 million workers jobless, while another 2.8 million have given up finding a job. Result: a real unemployment rate of at least 17.5%!

This high unemployment has made workers anxious and angry, sparking this huge general strike and demonstrations called by eight union confederations. From 20% to 40% of public sector workers — hospital, telephone, postal and electric company workers and half or more of secondary and elementary school teachers — walked out.

All the major state radio networks shut down, and a third of television network workers struck. Almost one-third of flights from Orly airport were cancelled. Almost all the Paris commuter train workers, half the Métro (subway) workers and at least a third of urban transport workers in the rest of France went on strike.

In addition, unexpectedly large numbers of private-sector workers went out, in the banks, Renault auto plants and at Alcatel-Lucent (the world’s second-biggest telecommunications equipment-maker). Autoworkers completely shut down PSA’s Poissy and Rennes factories, and partly closed the Sochaux plant.

Private-sector workers do not enjoy the same job security as public workers and consequently strike less. Thus, many Auchan supermarket, Celanese chemicals, Dynastar ski, Ford auto, Free telecommunications and Tefal kitchenware workers used their holiday time to join the protest marches.

Many marchers bore signs saying, “Can you see this strike, you stupid jerk?” — a reference to French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s July statement that “nowadays, when there’s a strike in France, nobody notices” and his telling a farmer who refused to shake hands with him in February, 2008 to “beat it, you stupid jerk.”

As usual, union leaders here are tailing the militancy of the working class. The bosses wanted to reduce the duration of unemployment benefits. The signature of two trade unions was necessary for the measure to pass, so on February 2 the traitorous CFDT and CFE-CGC obliged the government and signed.

President Sarkozy responded to the workers’ strike with insult and scorn, reflecting the ruling class’s estimation that any deviation from the set course could lead to their losing control. In his February 5 speech, his “answer” to the general strike, Sarkozy offered another, 8-billion-euro tax break ($9.5 billion) to French bosses and told the working class he would continue to push through his neo-conservative counter-reforms, notably the non-replacement of half the public workers who retire. He announced a meeting with union leaders on February 18.

The more radical unions want to stage another strike and protest before the 18th, a move the conservative unions are resisting.

These struggles need to confront racism since police repression, mass unemployment, among other problems have hit non-white and immigrant workers here for a long time. International solidarity with strikers in Martinique and Guadeloupe must also be part of the struggle. In this age of endless imperialist wars and economic meltdown, this means developing a revolutionary anti-racist communist leadership of these militant struggles, breaking with the union misleaders and fake leftist electoral parties.

Teachers Shut Universities

On February 2, teachers struck at over half the 83 French universities on February 2, with the strike continuing and general assemblies being held on February 4 on many campuses. Students are gradually joining the protest movement.

The teachers are opposing counter-reforms which make it harder for members of the working class to become primary and secondary school teachers and give university presidents greater control over faculty working conditions and careers. These counter-reforms are the French enactment of a May, 2006 European Commission decision to force all European universities to serve the capitalist class more directly. A national university protest is scheduled for February 10

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France: Workers Must Unite Immigrants, Youth in Looming General Strike

le che au dessus des travailleurs de l'automobilePARIS, January 24 — A 24-hour general strike called by eight trade union confederations is set to rock France. Both government and private-sector workers are likely to participate in large numbers. Demands include: limiting job cuts; reducing income from stocks and bonds to increase wages; changing European Union policy to bolster consumption, the welfare state, and social housing; and regulating international finance.

These tepid reformist demands show that, in the name of “unity,” the most radical confederations are once again lining up behind the lowest common denominator acceptable to the right-wing unions. Even in their independent position statements, the radical unions go no further than calling for renewing the general strike, day by day, and “refusing to pay for the capitalist crisis.”

All this is a far cry from what workers here really need: revolutionary leadership to overthrow capitalism and establish communist workers’ rule.
In addition to private-sector workers in the metal trades, mining, banking, telecommunications and retailing, public workers in health, rail and urban transport, the post office, gas and electricity and education will join the strike.

The January 29 walkout will also hit the campuses, where teachers and researchers are feeling the lash of an increasingly authoritarian government. In December, French president Nicolas Sarkozy increased his control over the broadcast media. This month he shattered illusions of “judicial impartiality” by eliminating the examining magistrates who supposedly counter-balance executive power. Now he’s moving to bring the education system under greater autocratic control.

This constitutes a three-pronged attack: (1) changing the status of faculty, (2) changing the recruitment of primary and secondary school teachers, and (3) reinforcing religious education.

Previously, all faculty pursued research and teaching in equal measure. Now university presidents will use their new powers under last year’s LRU law to give the “best minds” more time for research and administrative tasks, while the others take up the slack and teach longer hours. Thus the presidents will be able to advance teachers who side with the bosses.

In the past, many teaching positions were filled by national competitive exams. Successful candidates were then paid during one year of teacher training. Now, three roadblocks will make it harder for working-class people to become teachers: (1)candidates will have to write a master’s thesis while studying for the competitive exam (difficult if you’re working to pay your way through school — as do 70% of the students in the working-class Paris suburbs, many of whom are of North or sub-Saharan African origin); (2) candidates’ “files” (their social background), will become a selection criterion, in addition to exam results; and (3) there will be no paid year of teacher training.

Before, the French government did not recognize diplomas awarded by Vatican-controlled universities on a par with those from state universities. Now a treaty with the Vatican will allow conservative Catholic institutions to play a bigger role in shaping the French “meritocracy.”

The situation on the campuses is a microcosm of French society. With inter-imperialist rivalry mounting in recent years, the French bosses have steadily increased their state’s capacity to regiment and control society. This accelerated with the May 2007 election of President Sarkozy. Now the financial and economic crises are pushing the bosses to move even faster, with full-blown fascism becoming an increasingly probable outcome.

In the past, the union leaders and many workers have looked the other way while immigrant workers and youth from the former French colonies in Africa suffered police terror and racist super-exploitation. The lack of anti-racist unity with these immigrant workers and youth has weakened ALL workers. The best outcome that can emerge from this general strike and many other struggles is the building of an anti-racist, multi-ethnic revolutionary leadership to fight the sharper attacks the working class is facing. That’s the road that will lead to building a society without any racist bosses: communism!

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France-wide Protests Hit Bosses’ Meltdown of Wages

PARIS, October 7 — Some 100,000 workers demonstrated in 90 protests across France demanding workers not pay for world capitalism’s banking meltdown, the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. Over 13,000 trade unionists marched in Paris. Three hundred unionists from 14 European countries met for the World Day for Decent Work sponsored by the International Trade Union Confederation.

PSA Aulnay auto workers were among the loudest in the Paris march, chanting: “To get out of the crisis, it’s not the banks that need to be helped, it’s wages that have to be raised.” This reflected the fear of millions of workers worldwide who are forced to pay to save the bankers and bosses with untold billions in bailouts.

A government worker in the Paris suburb of Stains defines himself first and foremost as a worker. His monthly salary, 1380 euros ($2,000) is his household’s only income, with unpaid bills piling up. He questioned why “banks that are up to their necks in debt are getting billions,” whereas no one’s bailing out his debts. “But,” he sighed, “that’s the way it always is for us workers.”

Nearby, another worker retorted: “That’s the way it is, but that’s not the way it should be!”
To be sure, but workers must realize the nature of the crisis. The union leaders, whose goal is a few more crumbs from a “reformed capitalism,” are part of the problem. They build illusions that a “lesser-evil” ruler can make things better for workers — “Dump Sarkozy, dump Bush and things can get better.” But it doesn’t matter who rules.

It’s not just some greedy bankers in Paris, London or New York; it’s not even the anti-working class, racist policies of Bush and Sarkozy — although they surely are at fault. It is capitalism itself. The nature of the system, social production but private profits for a tiny minority, creates the basis for these periodic crises.
With each successive crisis, workers pay more and more. Workers must learn from the lessons of the past. Global economic turmoil will sharpen all the inter-imperialist contradictions.

During the 1930s, the Nazis came to power and built a war economy to “solve” the Great Depression. Roosevelt’s New Deal created government-sponsored job programs, but another recession followed in 1937. World War II’s military draft “solved” the Depression’s mass unemployment problem in the U.S.

Only the then communist-led Soviet Union was untouched by the Great Depression, in sharp contrast to Putin’s Russia today. The USSR was also the only European country on the continent that didn’t fold or surrender when the Nazis invaded, and then defeated Hitler’s war machine.

Today, there’s no Soviet Union to inspire the world’s workers, but the threat of global imperialist war is now sharper. The world’s working class has a gigantic task: break with all the agents of the ruling class, regain class consciousness and learn from the past achievements and errors of the revolutionaries who preceded us. Fight for the only real solution to this capitalist hellhole: communism. That’s PLP’s goal. Join us!

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France: Thousands Strike Against Job Cuts

UZES, FRANCE, Sept. 11—The summer holiday season is over and the first strikes and demonstrations against job cuts and worsening conditions are breaking out. A case in point: high school teachers struck the whole first week of classes in this small town in Southern France (pop. 7,800, 2004 unemployment rate: 19%, average weekly household income: 275 euros), occupying the principal’s office on Sept. 1. The strikers were mobilizing against obligatory overtime and over-crowded classes. The local board of education refused even to receive a parent-teacher delegation on Sept. 4.

The French banks have lost nearly 20 billion euros since the beginning of the subprime crisis, practically throwing the economy into recession. According to UNEDIC (the French unemployment agency), 35,000 workers lost their jobs in the second quarter of 2008. And the real income of the average French household fell over the past year, according to the National Consumption Institute. But workers are fighting back:
Hospital workers struck at the public hospital in Strasbourg yesterday to protest the administration policy of placing profits over patient lives and the resulting multi-tasking of hospital workers.

Over 2,000 auto workers struck Renault plants across France today against the planned axing of 4,000 jobs, which comes on top of 10,000 job losses over the past three years.

And thousands of teachers demonstrated today in over half of France’s 100 départements (the equivalent of a county), with strikes in five départements (Ardennes, Champagne, Essonne, Guadeloupe and Marne) to protest job cuts: 11,200 this year, 13,500 planned next year, and 40,000 over the next three years.
Five postal workers’ unions are calling for a 24-hour national strike and demonstrations throughout France on Sept. 23 to protest government plans to privatize the postal service.

Finally, six trade union federations are calling for a national protest on Oct. 7, the “world day for decent work” organized by the reformist International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).
But all this indicates is that the reformist and reactionary trade union leaders, with the radical unions in tow, are pursuing their usual strategy of launching isolated local protests and 24-hour strikes in the hope of “building momentum” for a big national demonstration, and possibly a nation-wide 24-hour strike. This piecemeal strategy has failed to obtain any gains for workers since 1995.

As a result, Education Minister Xavier Darcos felt safe heaping scorn on the protesting teachers when he appeared on national television today, proclaiming “I love teachers” while denouncing teachers unions as promoting a “strike first, negotiate later culture,” and denying that job cuts are resulting in larger class sizes and poorer education.

Leftist trade unionists here are trying to overcome the piecemeal strategy by pushing for an unlimited general strike, like the one that shut down France for two months in 1968. But that experience shows that even an unlimited general strike, if it leaves the capitalist system intact, falls short of what the working class needs— particularly in this age of worldwide capitalist crisis, more racism and endless wars. Workers here need to turn these struggles into schools for communism, and build a revolutionary internationalist movement to fight for the only real solution to the bosses’ attacks: communism.

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French Rulers Put Squeeze on Workers’ Fight-Back

PARIS, June 1 — Due to sharpening imperialist competition, French President Sarkozy is now ignoring most of France’s union “leaders” leaving them virtually paralyzed. While these misleaders plead with the government to negotiate, and organize symbolic 24-hour protest strikes, Sarkozy steamrolls right past them with plans to dismantle both the welfare state and the unions.

To pursue its imperialist agenda, the French government needs a docile workforce and ready cash. For example, while visiting Iraqi officials today, foreign minister Kouchner offered them French military instructors to train the Iraqi army. In return, the Iraqi prime minister offered to buy state-of-the-art military technology from France, one of the world’s leading exporters of arms and aircraft.

Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari said “there is an urgent need for French companies to be more present here in Iraq.” Sarkozy wants European Union imperialism to penetrate Iraq in the next six months. Therefore, the government is playing hardball with the unions here.

On May 22, thousands struck and over 450,000 demonstrated in 153 cities protesting government “reforms” to force workers to work longer for smaller retirement pensions. But Sarkozy intends to push his reform through, consulting the unions only on precise points and without trying to get approval from even the most sellout unions (Le Figaro, 5/23).

The main teachers’ unions called for another 24-hour strike on May 24 against government plans to axe 11,200 jobs next school year, but while 15,000 demonstrated in Nantes, the action was only partly successful elsewhere. The following day Education Minister Darcos announced the cuts would be maintained and “protest marches won’t change a thing.”

That hard-line position was enough to bust up the union coalition. On May 27, three teachers unions said they were “suspending” the protest movement.

The government then busted up union unity around another 24-hour strike against retirement “reform” planned for June 17. When the smaller unions split with the bigger ones (CGT and CFDL) over the latter’s back-door agreement with the bosses’ organization MEDEF, the government then double-crossed the whole business with a measure undermining the 35-hour work-week.

With the union misleaders at loggerheads, Sarkozy is attacking on yet another front — introducing a bill to make it easier to shift public workers from one ministry to another, and even to shift them out of the public sector altogether.

The government has been able to play off these union misleaders against each other because they’re all competing to become the government’s “preferred negotiating partner.” The big losers are the workers.
Only communist leadership, dedicated not to negotiating with the government to “improve” capitalism, but to overthrowing the government and the capitalist system, offers a way forward for the working class here.J

French Government Boxes in Undocumented Immigrants

PARIS, June 1 — A January 7 government circular which legalizes undocumented workers in dribs and drabs is keeping them at the mercy of the bosses and their government. The circular provides for the legalization of workers who can produce a job contract, proof they’ve been working for three months and a promise from their boss to pay the costs of legalization. But each prefecture is allowed to apply the law as it sees fit.
The result is a feudal system in which legalization depends on a worker’s relationship with his boss, and the boss’s relationship with the prefect. Another aim is to smash the strike movement for legalization launched by undocumented workers in April.

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FRANCE: Teachers’ Strike in 130 Cities Against Gov’t Cuts

PARIS, May 16 — Yesterday, according to the government’s understated figures, 860,000 public workers struck against job cuts and government policies dismantling public services, demonstrating in over 130 cities. It was particularly strong in education, with over half of junior and senior high school teachers and nearly two-thirds of primary school teachers on strike. Large contingents of high school students livened up the protests.

In Marseilles and five other cities, teachers’ general assemblies voted to renew their strike on May 19, in some cases over the opposition of the union leaders. They hope to spark a break with the ritual 24-hour protest strike.

Longer and more intense strikes are needed to force the government to back down from the 22,900 education job losses programmed in the 2008 budget. Indeed, President Nicolas Sarkozy’s reaction to yesterday’s walkout was to propose new strike-breaking laws to “protect” the “right to work.”

The government’s onslaught on public workers — which includes last year’s elimination of special retirement plans for mainly rail workers performing particularly hard jobs — is not driven solely by budget-balancing needs, after giving the rich tax breaks of 222 million euros ($350 million) in 2007 (to increase this year). Privatizing public services is also part of the bosses’ strategy to cut wages and benefits for ALL workers.

France’s 5,000,000 public workers cannot be laid off or fired for union activity as easily as private-sector workers. They form the core of the French trade union movement. About 15% of public workers belong to unions, as against 5% of private-sector workers.

Given that French bosses are competing with rivals worldwide, they need to smash the French labor movement in order to maximize profits. For instance, while from 1996 to 2007, labor costs in Germany fell 5%, they rose 20% in France. (Charlie Hebdo, 5/7/2008) Nevertheless, with inflation, real wages in France have fallen 4.2% in the private sector and 7.0% in the public sector since 1994. (Council on Employment, Income and Social Cohesion)

Furthermore, French bosses are participating in on-going wars to re-divide the world. The French expeditionary force in Afghanistan now numbers 3,200 soldiers, and France is suspected of having tried to overthrow Sudan’s government (Le Canard Enchaîné, 5/14/08). The bosses need a docile workforce on the home front.

Successful extension of the teachers’ strike movement would build the May 22nd national strike called by all the major unions to protest government plans to increase the number of work-years needed for a full retirement pension. Previous pension “reform” laws have already led to a 30% relative fall in pensions as against wages. Air France and rail-worker unions have joined the strike call.

While it’s necessary to fight against job cuts and for decent pensions, as long as capitalism exists so will the bosses’ drive to increase exploitation and launch imperialist wars.      That’s why workers here and worldwide must go beyond struggles to “reform” capitalism and organize for communist revolution to destroy capitalism. J

BULLETIN  May 19 — About 40,000 teachers and their supporters demonstrated in Paris yesterday. An inter-trade union federation meeting today proposed no action except to renew the call, initially launched by the French PTA, for a demonstration on May 24. It also ignores the high school students’ protest movement. In short, most of the union “leaders” are doing everything they can to alienate the teachers’ potential allies and keep the movement “manageable.”
In such a situation, communists put forward organizing the widest possible support for striking teachers, forging the links necessary to help develop the revolutionary potential of the working class.

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French Labor Hacks Put One-Day Limit on Million Strikers

PARIS, Jan. 25 —
Amid capitalism’s world economic meltdown, some one million public sector workers struck for one day yesterday across France while many strikers were among the 400,000 who joined protest marches in Paris and other cities nationwide. Private sector workers from General Motors, Airbus and Bugatti were among the marchers. But yesterday’s strike was smaller than the one on November 20. While half the school teachers and 20% of the postal workers walked out, the strike was less successful elsewhere, in particular in rail transport.

Public workers’ demands included a 1,500-euro ($2,200) per month minimum wage, a 300-euro ($450) per month wage-hike for all public workers and higher retirement pensions and welfare and unemployment benefits.

Among healthcare workers, five emergency healthcare unions today called for emergency room workers to continue their month-old strike following the “total failure” of negotiations with the health ministry. Demands include shorter hours, higher pay for night work and compensation for the stress their jobs entail.

In November, nearly two million workers struck and 700,000 demonstrated, creating the real possibility of building a strike movement linking all public and private sector workers with workers of African and Arab origin. But the union misleaders frittered away the opportunity by limiting the strike to a single day. After two months of calm, it became more difficult to re-launch the movement.

Due to the weakness of yesterday’s strike, budget minister Eric Woerth was able to merely promise “announcing” a wage measure on Feb. 18, adding that the government would establish “a mechanism to guarantee individual purchasing power” — i.e., merit pay to pit workers against each other.

Still, there was more public support for yesterday’s walkout than for November’s. Polls showed 77% of public sector workers and 51% of private sector workers felt the strike was justified. The bosses’ massive attacks that will surely come to force workers to pay even more for the world’s economic crisis demand a break with all pro-capitalist forms of leadership.
Workers need communist leadership to unite all our struggles in a movement aiming to destroy capitalism, the source of all workers’ problems. For example, the struggle against the deportation of undocumented immigrants is one the labor movement needs to take on board.

In December, over 100 undocumented workers in three detention camps began a hunger strike to protest conditions in the camps and to demand their liberation. On January 19, the European Day Against the Confinement of Foreigners, 12,000 demonstrated nationwide, with 3,000 at the biggest protest, in Paris.

But as one trade unionist remarked after the Lyons demonstration, “The composition of the demonstration does reveal the fact that this movement’s mobilization is not anchored in trade unions’…practice.” That is, the major unions never advance the class analysis that undocumented and “legal” workers are members of the same working class. Consequently, these unions now have a hard time overcoming the bosses’ racist and nationalist propaganda, making it harder to mobilize in defense of immigrant workers’ rights.
Workers could take their cue from the young rebels who militantly fought the rulers’ cops in protesting the latter’s racist attacks on

Arab and African youth. Multi-racial unity of the unions and these rebels could strike a real blow against the ruling class’s attacks on both groups.

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