The Struggle in France: March 28 and Beyond: Let’s Stay in the Streets and Build the Strikes, and Let’s Win!

March 26, 2023, Editorial of the Workplace Newsletters of the Etincelle fraction of the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA), Translated from French

After a week of spontaneous rallies and demonstrations every night, the mobilization on Thursday, March 23 was one of the biggest days of the movement against the pension reform. It was also one of the most electric: young people bursting into demos while chanting in favor of a general strike, mobilized groups joining in and reinforcing each other… Anger broke out in the streets against a hated reform, but also against a government that’s at the service of the ultra-rich, against the government’s policy, which is the same as all previous governments, against the power of a whole class of exploiters. This is a collective anger that has come as a surprise to those who are part of it, as if everything was just beginning, finally. It’s a collective anger that has become a force: yes, we can beat them! Yes, everything can change!

Panic in the Palaces

What swells our hearts, is sending theirs off the rails. Macron spoke the night before our strikes on TV, and insisted that all obey the “pillars of the Republic,” the police and the army. Is he standing by his principles? More shaking in his boots! This was a fear that gave by King Charles of England shivers as well, and his visit to France was cancelled because of the demonstrations. The banquets under the gold of Versailles will have to wait! After the forced passage of the pension reform by means of article 49.3 of the French constitution, the government is left with its last resort, police brutality, which is an admission of political weakness and increasingly isolated power. Insults, groping during police searches, beatings, gassings, mutilations, arrests of far-left activists and even journalists… These techniques of state violence are supposed to prevent us from mobilizing. But they only make us more and more eager to fight and to revolt. They don’t listen to us? Well, let’s get them all out of power!

Anguish at All Levels

Monarchs and presidents are not the only ones who are uncomfortable with the outpouring of anger from workers and the working classes. The world order is beginning to panic faced with our collective strength, and the possibility that it will express itself outside of pre-established frameworks. In a televised debate on March 23, François Ruffin and Sandrine Rousseau of the NUPES (left-wing political party) called for social peace not revolt, while Jordan Bardella of the RN (far-right political party) kept his mouth shut prudently in order to be able to play his cards right, whatever the outcome.

Among the leaders of the inter-union, the discourse often varies! Certainly, under the impetus of the movement, they called for another day of strike on Tuesday, March 28. But on the other hand, for them, if Macron is guilty of anything, it is to have incited a revolt. Philippe Martinez (leader of the CGT union) denounces Macron’s “provocations.” Laurent Berger (leader of the CFDT union) calls for “calm before there’s too much drama” and to put the reform “on pause.” Does he mean the reform or the mobilization? But we want a total withdrawal of the reform!

The Strength of the Workers is the Strike!

Their solutions are: to bet on the Constitutional Council, or to call for a referendum that would turn all our demands into one closed question, dealt with in the solitude of the voting booth, through a process that would last more than a year. But where is our strength? Not in the lawyers’ lounges, nor in the ballot boxes! It’s our mobilizations and our strikes, right now, that are making those in power tremble. The government shows its fear with cops and requisitions (forcing strikers back to work).

To thwart these dangers, we need to organize ourselves, discuss the movement, our demands, our perspectives and our methods, meet in general assemblies and strike committees, in our companies, in interprofessional groups, in a coordination that brings us together… In all the frameworks, formal and informal, that can allow us to discuss politics, our struggle and how to take it under our control.

The next day of mobilization called for by the inter-union, is this Tuesday, March 28. We can make this a lever to isolate the government even further, to amplify the renewable strikes, and to impose our own rhythm and decisions on this movement, which has been a huge slap in the face to the capitalists’ world already. Let’s go so far as to knock them out!