french and greek voters seek a way out of austerity

9 05 2012

Adam Ford on the recent elections in Europe.

Hollande has spoken of his admiration for Greek destroyer-in-chief Papandreou

The financial markets went into a petulant sulk today, in response to the election results in France – where incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy was defeated by his ‘centre-left’ challenger – and in Greece, where two thirds of the electorate voted against avowedly anti-austerity candidates. It seems likely that we will now see some attempt at rebranding austerity – ‘neoliberalism with a human face’ – but this will be nothing more than ‘lipstick on a pig’. The international financial gamblers will allow no let-up in the transfer of wealth from the overwhelming majority to their own decadent and diseased milieu. Read the rest of this entry »





on the desperate struggles in france

9 12 2011

A fascinating article from the communisation.net website looks at the practice of kidnapping bosses during strikes in France, and how new means and objectives of struggle fit into the crisis of Fordism.

Introduction

After a short wave at the beginning of the century, instances of proletarians taking their bosses hostage or threatening to blow up their factories reappeared in 2009, and have since become something of a trend. We can now count as many as twenty cases since the beginning of 2010. Read the rest of this entry »





wild but limited: on what is called the movement “against pension reform” in france

24 03 2011

An evaluation, written in late November by the editorial collective of Incendo, on the movement against pension reform in France, which had taken place in the autumn of 2010.  We believe this is published online in English here for the first time.

It was not the October revolution, but nevertheless France has just had one of the most important movements of revolt in recent years. Despite the fact that the strike was really followed in only certain sectors (in refineries, railroads, once more a strike “by proxy”) and despite the relatively low number of workers on strike1 we must take into account the surprising and impressive turnout on the days of demonstrations (whatever we may think of these demonstrations and whatever the demonstrators themselves may think) as well as the determined atmosphere which reigned there. Read the rest of this entry »





the right-wing offensive in france: sarkozy’s record so far

15 12 2010

by Noé le Blanc

Ten years ago, Nicolas Sarkozy seemed to have lost much of his political credit and clout. Indeed, in the late nineties two major political defeats interrupted his previously steady rise among the ranks of French right-wing politicians. First, Sarkozy made the mistake of supporting Edouard Balladur in the 1995 French presidential race. Balladur was running as a right-wing challenger to the more “traditional” candidate of the right, Jacques Chirac, and he failed to make it to the second round of the election, which Chirac ultimately won.

Second, as leader of the RPR (the dominant right-wing party at the time), Sarkozy suffered a humiliating defeat in the 1999 European elections, his party reaping a mere 12% of the votes, less than the right-wing dissident “sovereignist” coalition, a group of (non-Front National) anti-EU politicians. Resigning from his position as head of the RPR, Sarkozy in fact disappeared entirely from the national political scene after this setback. Read the rest of this entry »





rimbaud and the paris commune

19 11 2010

Sean Bonney was not impressed by a talk on French poet Arthur Rimbaud and the 1871 revolution in Paris

Last month, the Marx Memorial Library hosted a talk called “Rimbaud and the Paris Commune”, given by the latter-day “decadent” poet Sebastian Hayes. Hayes – whose qualification to talk about the revolutionary aspects of the poetic imagination didn’t amount to much more than having apparently hung out in Paris in 1968 – seemed to know little about Rimbaud, nothing about the Paris Commune and even less about Marx.

The most memorable part of the evening was his suggestion that Marx’s definitive account of the Commune, The Civil War in France was ‘not worth reading’ because it contains ‘too much detail’. It was also surprising to hear his claim that there had been no uprisings in France since 1968: presumably the riots in 2005, or indeed last month’s strikes – still going on while he was speaking – were not ‘poetic’ enough for him. Read the rest of this entry »





state repression in france’s pensions struggle

12 11 2010

Millions in France have marched and struck against a two-year increase in the retirement age. Nicolas Dessaux looks at the repression of the movement.

Since the start of the movement over pensions, the state has reacted in a highly repressive manner. From the fist demonstrations, the slightest stepping-out-of-line, a single bottle thrown, has led to offensives by CRS (riot cops), tear gas, arrests, fast-track trials and sentences.

First, on 23rd September, workers were arrested in Saint-Nazaire, since when court sentences, dismissals, penalties and threats have rained down on workers who took part in blockade actions. From the start of the movement in the lycées (of high school students), there has been a hail of arrests and punitivemeasures, and many have already been injured. Read the rest of this entry »





french resistance movement shakes sarkozy

24 10 2010

Adam Ford writes on the unrest in France

On Wednesday 20th October UK Chancellor George Osborne launched unprecedented social cuts, as part of the new Coalition government’s Comprehensive Spending Review. Spending was slashed by an average of 19% across all government departments, and unemployment is expected to rise by around a million as a result. That the cuts had been demanded by the same financial institutions that got a trillion pound bailout from the previous government was underscored by confident predictions that UK PLC would now keep its ‘AAA’ credit rating. Meanwhile millions of working class people in Britain and Northern Ireland are today counting the cost, and worrying about their uncertain futures.

But they need only look across the Channel for an example of determined opposition to government austerity measures. France is currently convulsed by a wave of protests, strikes, blockades and occupations, as President Nicolas Sarkozy seeks to implement two year increases in the state pension age. Read the rest of this entry »





the conspiracy of equals and the birth of communism

13 10 2010

Jean Léger examines the history of Gracchus Babeuf and his ‘Conspiracy of Equals’, a communist organisation which emerged during the French Revolution. First appeared as ‘Babeuf et la naissance du communisme ouvrier’ in issue 2 of critical Marxist journal Socialisme ou Barbarie (May-June 1949).

Babeuf was the first example of a militant formulating a coherent socialist doctrine, struggling for a “plebeian” socialist revolution, in his view indispensible for the reorganisation of the economy and society as a whole. These attempts at the first communist party and doctrine are of great importance to us: they allow us to understand how revolutionary thought has developed. They moreover offer the opportunity for a concrete analysis of the link between the revolutionary militant and the working class in a given historical period [1]. Read the rest of this entry »





french workers fight for their futures

1 10 2010

On 7th and 23rd September there were mass demonstrations across France in protest at planned attacks on pensions. The government wants to increase the retirement age by two years. The cross-union days of action involved as many as 3 million people, and were accompanied with strike action in public transport, municipal services, schools, post and utilities. This article from Rebetiko explains the public anger at the government’s attacks.

“French people’s tolerance of the crisis is over”. Public opinion watchers could make their predictions a few days before the 7th September strike without having to stick their necks out too much.

But this was not without risk of being exploited for a sort of subversive propaganda: the “French people” can be allowed a little moan from time to time, some gaps in that great French value of “tolerance”, but the important thing is that the alarm bells rung by the opinion surveys are quickly calmed with the necessary medicine. A dose of strike action, once every three months. If the symptoms persist, organise a national day of action without a strike call. Read the rest of this entry »





french workers en masse against pension ‘reforms’

8 09 2010

by David Broder

Early September in France means la rentrée, not just back to school but also the end of the holidays and no more long evenings in the sun. But in 2010 it also means a return to pitched battles between the right wing government of Nicolas Sarkozy and the working class.

This Saturday l’Humanité, semi-official daily of the French Communist Party, reported on the ‘summer school’ of the MEDEF, a bosses’ federation akin to our ‘own’ CBI. The rhetoric was of Thatcher, and the need to disenfranchise the ‘no longer
useful’ trade unions. Read the rest of this entry »





two years supporting undocumented workers in france – an assessment

8 09 2010

Ahead of our assembly this weekend assessing the impact of the crisis and proletarian self-activity, Yves Coleman, who will be joining us from France, presents an assessment of two years of activity in a Network (Réseau Education sans Frontières, i.e. RESF) supporting undocumented workers and their families

This report has a very personal tone, but as I don’t belong to any political group, I thought it would be easier to write it this way.

1) Initial motives

Professionally I work at home as a translator and proofreader. So my professional milieu is rather restricted and the area I live in is not really politically interesting. As I had only a mainly editorial activity (publishing a magazine and books 3 times a year under the name of Ni patrie ni frontières, see the website and its texts in English), I thought it would be useful to belong to a group engaged in a “mass activity” at grass root level. I chose the 18th district of Paris because it is a working class district with an important proportion of foreign workers of all nationalities, legal or illegal, who have been living there for a long time and have many traditions of resistance. I also chose this district because I had 2 friends already working there in a local RESF group (RESF means Education without frontiers network: it was created 5 years ago by radical teachers and left wing trade unionists : it’s now a nationwide network including around 200 organisations and trade unions, and, what is more important, thousands of non politically organised people). Read the rest of this entry »





recession and solidarity in france

13 04 2010

by Ramate Keita

On 7th April workers at Continental tyres charged with damaging the police prefecture where they demonstrated last year appeared at a tribunal in Compiegne. Many activists and delegations joined them to bring solidarity.

After this protest last March six workers were handed suspended prison sentences and fined

Because of the rail strike, we arrived late at this solidarity demonstration.

Read the rest of this entry »





migrant workers’ strike in france

16 02 2010

by Antoine Boulangé

6,000 undocumented migrant workers, on strike since 12th October 2009, are bravely continuing their unprecedented struggle against the government in spite of very difficult circumstances.

Their determination is exemplary, faced with a government on the assault – propagating racism and Islamophobia – and a right-wing adding to their list of racist and ‘pro-security’ provocations such as the law against the burqa, the denial of asylum rights to 123 Kurds arrested in Corsica, and racist statements by the ministers for immigration and families. Read the rest of this entry »





burn the borders

12 01 2010

by the Collective for Solidarity with the accused of Vincennes

On 25th-27th January the Paris High Court will try ten people for the fire at the Vincennes immigrant detention centre. Our solidarity must look at the full measure of the situation: demanding freedom for those on trial, yes, but also freedom of movement and residency.

The largest detention centre in France burnt on June 22nd 2008. From June 2008 to June 2009, some ten former detainees have been arrested and imprisoned – most of them for nearly one year – in preventive jail. They are charged with “damage”, “voluntary destruction of the buildings of the Vincennes administrative detention centre”, and/or “collective aggression against a police officer, without causing incapacity for work for more than eight days”.

Read the rest of this entry »








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,847 other followers