France: Attack in Annecy – Anti-immigrant Demagoguery as a Weapon of Mass Division

June 12, 2023 editorial of the Workplace Newsletters of the Etincelle fraction of the New Anticapitalist Party, translated from French.

Politicians, from the Macronists (supporters of President Macron), to the Zemmourists (supporters of far-right politician Éric Zemmour), to Les Républicains (LR: liberal conservative party) and the National Rally (RN: far right party), haven’t hesitated to use the knife attack at a park in Annecy to fuel their demagoguery on immigration, and cry out for so-called national unity. Based on the tragic attack against six victims, including four young children, Éric Ciotti asserted untruths about what he described as the “usual” – i.e. Islamist – profile of the assailant. Extreme right-wing groups have even attempted to hold rallies to stir up hatred.

The actual profile of the assailant – who was a Christian Syrian refugee, homeless in Annecy after living regularly in Sweden for ten years, and who had doctors questioning his mental state – hasn’t discouraged the flood of racist statements about safety and against the right of asylum. For all these demagogues the goal is to try and maneuver deeply-rooted social discontent toward the claim that the violence in society is a consequence of immigration.

A Government Following the Lead of the Far Right

The government is playing the national unity card. Aurore Bergé, leader of the Macron faction in the National Assembly, sought to sideline the debate on pension reform taking place at the time in the Assembly by calling on the representatives to show their “humanity” and stop the discussion. What kind of humanity does a government have that wants to force workers to work two more years!

For weeks now, Macron has been trying to move on from the issue of pensions by focusing debates on security and immigration, notably by reviving the Darmanin Law on immigration, which was put on the back burner during the movement against pension reform. This is the only ground he can exploit to try and divide the working classes, who were united in the polls and in the streets against his revolting reform. The police operation carried out in Mayotte to chase immigrants out of the shantytowns where part of the population lives is part of this nauseating director’s playbook.

A Race to be the Most Despicable

On the Republican side, what is more impressive than the violence of their comments, which are identical to those of the extreme-right, is the speed with which they move in to exploit the tragedy politically. Within two hours, LR Representative Olivier Marleix declared, “Massive uncontrolled immigration kills. Rather than lamenting each new crime, let’s finally put a stop to mass immigration.”

The extreme-right, as usual, gets the trophy for its political exploitation; Le Pen and Bardella have their sights on the European elections of 2024. Zemmour, speaking of “francocides”, encouraged the activity of several tiny fascist groups who called for a rally that same evening and sported Celtic crosses, chanting “Out with the terrorists, out with the immigrants!”

No Borders Between Workers

Faced with this political and media onslaught which, under the pretext of “security”, aims to pit one section of the working class against the other, workers need to arm themselves with one solid conviction: the only border that really exists in this society is the one between exploiters – the big businesses – and the exploited, whatever our origins may be. Violence is the rotten fruit that grows from impoverishment and the degradation of our living conditions for the benefit of a handful of billionaire groups. They are the ones who provoke bloody wars and misery in the four corners of the planet, and who push society towards barbarism.

We must demand open borders for our class brothers and sisters, those who are dying by the thousands in the Mediterranean or languishing in detention camps! All the demagogues who claim the contrary, starting with the extreme-right, are doing a good job of protecting the interests of the capitalists!