What is happening in France?

February 09, 2015

Talk – Mexico

What is happening in France?

Last Saturday, a talk was given in the headquarters of the Socialist Workers Movement, with an attendance of nearly one hundred young people and workers, with the aim of explaining the current situation in France, due to the attacks against the magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Europe is now crossed by geopolitical conflicts domestically and abroad. The crisis of the Ukraine with Russia and its annexation of the Crimea, confronts, on one hand, the politicians of the European Union (EU) and their nationalist partners, and, on the other hand, the Russian oligarchs and the Lugansk and Donetsk separatists. This, combined with the US’ loss of hegemony, allows Europe (and especially Germany) to have room to maneuver with a certain independence from Obama’s administration.

Facing the obscurantists’ murder of the editorial staff of Charlie Hebdo, the Western bourgeois classes have closed ranks against "terrorism," while they are trying to stop the advance of the ultra-reactionary Islamic State, by going so far as to ally themselves with actors that, some years ago, were an international "enemy" (like Al Qaeda).

Seven years after the Lehman Brothers’ collapse, the crisis in Europe seems to have no viable solution, and, encouraged by this, new formations are emerging, both to the right and to the left of the historic two-party systems (like Golden Dawn, the UKIP, Svoboda and the National Front, on the one hand, and parties of the center-left and reformists like Podemos and Syriza, on the other), none of which offers real alternatives for Europe’s masses.

France after the attacks

The talk given by Sergio Moissen and Pablo Oprinari had as its main topics, the context in France prior to the attacks and the possible consequences that could be deduced. While some media of the "left" were reporting the march of last January 11 by omitting the reactionary politics of the leaders and political parties that organized it, the speakers were clear: the march in Paris gives an air of renewal to a President that, until some months ago, was one of the most unpopular executives in the history of his country.

It is likely that the EU will intensify the austerity policies, in facing this new situation. If, in foreign relations, the European powers were closing ranks against "terrorism," domestically, it is to be expected that the persecutions and obstacles for the immigrants will be increased. The Arab-Muslim community is now what the Jewish community was 80 years ago. Marie Le Pen’s National Front, that was historically antisemitic, has now renewed itself with an anti-immigrant and Islamophobic policy.

In the talk, the reactionary position of the European leaders, who, under the banner of "unity," are trying to divide a working class with broad groups originating in the Maghreb or the Middle East, was condemned. If the media of the right and "left" were praising the "unity" of the French, the reader must not let himself be deceived. "Unity of whom and against what?" is what one must ask himself. A unity against terrorism... from those who, up to some months ago, were prohibiting the demonstrations for Palestine, while Gaza was being bombed by Israel? A unity headed by those who in their own countries are murdering journalists and imprisoning social militants? The French regime is so reactionary that it did not even permit the Algerian community to celebrate the victory of its national team in the the World Cup matches, and it welcomed them with tear gas in the streets.

The speakers emphasized that the long-term effects (for example, what will be the role of young people in the new scene that has begun) still remain to be seen, but, right now, one can expect an increase of the French and European military forces, to fight Muslim terrorism and, especially, the Islamic State. In France itself, it is likely that immigration controls and the prisons to hold the undocumented, will increase. All this combined with an ever-growing increase of the extreme right wing in Europe, in the face of the absence of political perspectives. It is likely that, in the coming months, political polarization, that has been accelerated recently throughout the continent, will increase. France’s working class has shown historically that it can fight hard when it finds itself under attack, which is why nothing rules out that this situation can again emerge, when austerity policies return.

Facing the bankruptcy of the reformist parties and of the center-left (like the French Communist Party and Mélenchon’s Left Front), and the complicity of the treacherous union leaderships, like the General Confederation of Labor [CGT], that are supporting this reactionary unity, the task of revolutionaries is that of forging the unity of the working class and its alliance with the other groups affected by this system, and, against the agenda of reaction, setting up that of the workers, with their own methods and their own demands, in order to be able to stop the advance of the xenophobic parties in that way.

From this daily paper, we declare ourselves against the reactionary and obscurantist brutality of the Jihadists, and, at the same time, we condemn Hollande’s right-wing policy that diminishes democratic freedoms and deploys a xenophobic campaign against the Maghrebi population. Against the anti-immigrant and austerity policies that will come, it is necessary to fight for the legalization of all the immigrants and for equality in wages between French nationals and foreigners, for full political rights for foreigners and for raising the banners of internationalism, in order to fight the xenophobic venom of the extreme right. Indigenous or foreign-born, it is the same working class!