May 23, 2022, Editorial of the Workplace Newsletters of the Etincelle fraction of the NPA, Translated from French. Translator’s notes are in parentheses.
The suspense surrounding the reshuffling of French cabinet ministers (since President Macron’s reelection) has captured the interest of almost no one. Elisabeth Borne may well be a woman Prime Minister, but her background, her team, and her ideas are stale. A zealous captain of the bourgeoisie, classified as “on the left” for having breathed the same air as the socialist Lionel Jospin (a French politician who served as Prime Minister of France from 1997 to 2002) her specialty is social regression. She was responsible for the anti-labor reform of SNCF (France’s national state-owned railway company), and the RATP (bus network that covers Paris and its suburbs). She knows how to give fine speeches while never walking the walk, as she demonstrated with her worthless time as Secretary of Environmental Transition. And who will be on her team? In “Energy Transition”, we get an oil tycoon’s daughter who worked in the Ministry of Industry. Very promising! Further, some people bathing in easy money, one who can’t hear it when a woman says no (Damien Abad has been accused twice of rape), and some right-wing politicians with no expiration date. And in the middle of this list of unqualified winners, is a Minister of Education, Pap Ndiaye, who is there to give the cabinet a leftist veneer, while sadly serving as a punching ball for the extreme right. As for their program, we can only say that with these people, the past cannot be worse than the future!
This is a miniature government circus, that lives in a world apart from the struggle of the majority of working-class families. The International Labor Organization estimates that worldwide prices are rising by 9.2%. And while Argentina has seen a year-on-year inflation rate of 58%, Turkey 70%, the price of flour in Iran is up 500%.
Europe is not far behind because experts are predicting a double-digit increase of at least 10% this year. At the same time, speculation is in full swing on cereals, oil, weapons, and more. We are witnessing a robbery in broad daylight, and this is not new. Since the pandemic, according to an Oxfam study, the world counts one more billionaire every 26 hours, and one death from poverty every four seconds.
Their Calculations, Our Choices
Their society isn’t working, their economy isn’t working, and they want us to foot the bill? Nearly 120 hospitals in the country are unable to function normally, and people are desperate for jobs. In tourism, workers are brought in from Tunisia to be paid a pittance and to work outrageous hours. The press has announced a drop in unemployment, yet we all see an increase in poverty, miserable pensions, and terrible benefits. However, here and there, men and women, often in service companies, transportation companies, cleaning companies, and the food industry, are fighting for wage increases. And sometimes they win. This is the way forward, and these struggles would build in strength if they were coordinated, animated, and led by the rank and file, with common objectives. What will we gain? First of all, dignity, the desire to be respected together, and united. And also, the awareness of our strength.
Preparing for the End of Social Plunder
Prices are rising and salaries are frozen, the catastrophe is here, so what are the solutions? Bonuses? They only last for a while. Lower taxes? Fiscal pirouettes shift the problem without solving it. Laws? The bourgeoisie doesn’t respect them. No. We should make change through class struggle so that everyone can live decently, and so all of us can work less and differently.
It’s a big plan but we have no choice. It’s a matter of urgency. We must impose a freeze on the price of basic necessities, on rents, and an automatic and immediate increase in salaries and allowances in line with inflation. To do this, workers and the organized population must get involved in what is hidden from us, to ensure transparency and permanent surveillance of the economy in order to protect the majority.
And if we have to turn the tables to be heard, don’t worry: prices are rising, our anger is rising, they may have millions, but there are millions of us.