France - ys13.en
The socialist government was elected a year ago thanks to a large number of workers rejecting Sarkozy. It has however begun to promote a pro-capitalist agenda that is sometimes worse than what Sarkozy planned to inflict.
Six months ago, the right and the far right seized the initiative for a mass mobilisation against equal marriage rights for everyone. They have also been successful in providing an organised voice for the discontent amongst the most reactionary sections of the middle class to turn them against the government and also against a section of our social base – the LGTB collective. At the heart of these reactionary demonstrations in summer, we saw a new surge in homophobic, racist and Islamophobic violence. This backdrop led to the murder of a young anti-fascist militant, Clément Méric.
One of the obstacles that would effectively put a stop to this dual capitalist and reactionary offensive is the paralysis of trade union leaders and the left in general who refuse to enter into any conflict with the government. The Front de Gauche states that it opposes the government’s policies yet it refuses to build up a balance of power to challenge the government. In addition, some militants have lost faith following the pensions defeat in 2010. Nonetheless, this mass mobilisation represented an experience of large-scale collective struggle and today means militant groups are leading assessments that question union leadership strategies.
In this context, the revolutionary militants who played a major role in the struggles have been unable to develop a policy that would widen mobilisations.
Many mobilisations are being organised, although they are one-offs that fail to achieve any victories.
The main issue for us is to reverse this dispersal. The battle starting this September against the new pension reforms is a chance for us to put together a mobilisation that would unite causes and represent an incipient widespread challenge to the government.
Our work with youth mainly revolves around university and school students. We act politically and as a trade union to develop our ideas, organise constructive arenas such as public meetings or gatherings or even organise youth mobilisations. We thus act across all areas (including feminism, racism, sexual oppression, ecology, etc.) and on issues inherent to young people. At universities for example, the dramatic cuts to higher education will be the main issue after the summer break.
Fourth International militants in France are active in 2 organisations following the split of the Nouveau Parti Anticapitalist (NPA – New Anti-capitalist Party) in June 2012. Most militants have chosen to continue to build the NPA where there is currently a debate on its approach. At the last conference, a majority (platform X) formed around a line of action that defended the need to unify struggles and strengths into a left-wing opposition to the government and provide an alternative view of government that veers away from the path of austerity. A minority (platform Y) believe it is necessary to change direction since we need to be clear on the fact that it is not possible to construct a common political alternative with reformists. The NPA’s priority should be building a force amongst youth and workers, a coordinated active intervention at mobilisations to play a leading role within them.
We hope that the hands-on tests we will be carrying out will allow us to enhance into a single voice.
In May 2012, after five years of a hard right wing government and ultra-liberal policies under the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy, most voters were anxious for change and voted for the centre-left socialist candidate François Hollande (PS) albeit without any real hope that this would lead to true left-wing policies.
Anti-capitalists were clear on the fact that Hollande would broadly follow the same austerity policies as the right. Combined with a major increase in support for the far right under the banner of the National Front, it was clear to us that wide opposition to all austerity policies bringing together the “real left” was required both in the streets and at the general election. The four million voters (11% of the electorate) who voted for the Front de Gauche (Left Front) were an initial barrier against the 18% who voted for the National Front. All those people who voted for the mainstream (PS) left should be mobilised around a far-reaching left-wing front, fighting for a radical alternative to austerity.
One year later, all our fears were confirmed. Not only has the PS swiftly abandoned the few promises it made on reviewing the laws passed by the right (pension reform, budget cuts…) but it has also fully adopted the austerity agenda of the previous government with the Europe-wide austerity approach of the TSCG: slashing workers’ rights, budget cuts across all public services, a discriminatory policy towards the Roma, Muslims, the undocumented. Unemployment, instability and poverty are constantly rising. Ecological issues are completely set aside and projects such as the “Notre-Dame-des-Landes” airport are maintained. Even the old neo-colonial recipes are being implemented as seen in the imperialist intervention in Mali. The only progressive measure taken by this “socialist” government has been allowing gay couples to marry.
Six months ago, the far right and mainstream right-wing seized the initiative of a mass mobilisation against marriage rights for all. They succeeded in providing an organised outlet for the discontent amongst the most reactionary sections of society, funnelling it against the government and against a section of our social base – the LGTB collective. At the heart of these reactionary demonstrations, we saw a new surge in homophobic, racist and Islamophobic violence. This backdrop led to the murder of a young anti-fascist militant, Clément Méric.
There has been no large-scale battle since Hollande’s election. Although disillusion set in very quickly, this has not led to a surge in combativeness. The trade unions are divided and the most militant members hesitate in calling for a mass mobilisation against the government’s policies. In this setting, the Front de Gauche has been the only left-wing force to visibly oppose the government’s austerity policies and has been behind the two largest political demonstrations against the government that brought together a wide selection of left-wing political organisations (including the NPA), associations and unions.
After the summer break, Front de Gauche militants will help buoy mobilisation against the pension reforms planned by François Hollande’s government. There still remains a lot to do in order to transform the Front de Gauche into a real alternative able to maintain a radical course. This is what the Gauche Anticapitaliste (GA) has attempted to get off the ground since it was founded. A new stage will be built November 2013 with the foundation of a new organisation grouping together 5 members of the Front de Gauche (the GA, Convergence et Alternative, the Fédération pour une alternative sociale et écologique, Les Alternatifs, a part of Gauche Unitaire, as well as independents from the Front de Gauche and actors in the social movements). It intends to transform the Front de Gauche into a wide-ranging democratic front aiming to bring about social and ecological transformation, a new relationship with social movements and self-organisation. It will also work on furthering what for us represents a new emancipation project: ecosocialism.