IN THIS MESSAGE:
1) After the French Victory in the World Cup: Long Live the Republic? (July 18)
2) Under the Fifth Republic, Everything Leads Back to the President (July 21)
3) It Is Not Just the Area Between Carcassonne and Bagnères-de-Luchon (July 25)
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(1) Workers’ Tribune Issue no.148 – Editorial (July 18, 2018)
After the French Victory in the World Cup: Long Live the Republic?
By Daniel Gluckstein
Sunday, 5.18 p.m.: In the big working-class housing project of Bagnolet (Seine-Saint-Denis département, north east of Paris), an earthquake seemed to threaten to bring down the 20-storey housing blocks, so powerful and infectious were the enthusiastic shouts, whistling and drum-banging that greeted the first goal (and those that followed) in the World Cup final.
At that same moment, in the Moscow Stadium, Macron was putting on a show, jumping onto a table and stamping his feet with joy.
Two displays apparently inspired by the same event.
But that is where the comparison ends.
For the youth of the working-class districts, for the worker, for the unemployed person, for the single mother raising her children and for the recipient of the RSA (1), the victory by that French team – mostly made up of young men from those same districts and those same environments – appeared to bring hope, hope for a society in which everybody would find the place currently being refused him/her. It was the expression – undoubtedly full of illusions – of a powerful wish for progress, social justice and genuine equality that would put an end to daily humiliation and discrimination, to exploitation and oppression, to poverty.
For Macron and his government, the result on that Sunday evening was nothing more than an opportunity to promote national unity…and behind that smokescreen, to pursue their resolutely anti-worker, anti-working class and anti-youth policy.
The aspirations of those young people, inspired by their French team, are coming up against Macron’s policy as he shuts down hospitals, threatens workers’ pensions and every one of the workers’ rights, calls into question the baccalaureate qualification and access to university education, increases unemployment and squanders billions upon billions on an ever-increasing number of wars.
It would appear that we are all expected to join together to shout with one voice: “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”, or even “Long Live the Republic”.
Long live the Republic?
The Republic will live long when the war credits are cancelled and that money is earmarked to schools and hospitals, when public services are re-established everywhere and when every person has the right to a real job and a real wage.
The Republic will live long when the counter-reforms that are dismantling it (Labour Code, SNCF and more) are repealed.
The Republic will live long when it fraternally welcomes those migrants whom today it is rejecting, condemning them to the depths of the Mediterranean.
The Republic will live long when the government which today is dismembering it has been driven from power, together with the institutions of the Fifth Republic and the European Union. The Republic will live long when a government of the vast majority, a government of the workers and youth, will make it live long. (2)
(1) The Revenu de Solidarité Active (RSA) is an in-work welfare benefit for low-income households, introduced in 2009.
(2) This does not prevent us from agreeing with the French ex-international footballer Vikash Dhorasoo – who never misses an opportunity to refer to his working-class roots, his trade-unionist parents and the reality of the class struggle – who, after accusing the government of only governing “on behalf of the winners”, ended by saying: “But we can still be happy for one night.”
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(2) Democratic Independent Workers Party of France (POID)
21 July 2018
Under the Fifth Republic, Everything Leads Back to the President
The Benalla affair is a reminder, to those who may have forgotten, of the nature of the Fifth Republic: It’s a shady political regime, full of twisted blows, parallel police forces, spies and dirty tricks … all under the cover of an all-powerful presidential power at the top of the State.
The violence perpetrated by Benalla, who worked at the Elysée under orders of the President, against the demonstrators is of course unacceptable. But are we to believe that the scandal is limited to just this one individual, or that it is confined within the various levels of the administrative hierarchy? Isn’t it a case, rather, of the powers-in-place seeking to contain the scandal, as if it were a fuse box, in order to protect the cornerstone of the institutions: the President of the Republic himself?
Under the Fifth Republic, everything goes back to the president.
The real scandal is not only that Benalla took part in the repression, but also — and above all — that the affair was covered up. Had it not been for the activists and journalists who recorded the violence, the truth would never have come out.
So it is with the institutions of the Fifth Republic, a regime that grants all power to the President to govern with arbitrary rule. And this holds true whether it’s a case of shady individuals carrying out repression in the shadows, or whether it’s decrees against the Labour Law, or “blocked votes” in the National Assembly, or the repeated use of Article 49-3 of the Constitution, or blows against the rights won by the working class and youth (social security healthcare, retirement pensions, public services, statutes, collective-bargaining agreements).
Here and there, we hear from “left wing” leaders who are protesting against these intolerable acts. They are right, of course. But can we place our trust in a possible parliamentary commission or a parliamentary vote of no confidence? No. The workers and youth know from experience that under the Fifth Republic the parliament is not independent whatsoever from the executive branch.
The Benalla affair has once again brought out into broad daylight the corruption of the Fifth Republic, adding it to a long list of equally corrupt affairs: Ben Barka; Boulin; Garantie Foncière; Markovic; the Auriol killings … and many other episodes littering the history of the Fifth Republic.
The only conclusion consistent with democracy is the need to put end to a regime based on arbitrary rule. The only conclusion consistent with democracy is: “Out with Macron, He’s an Illegitimate President! Dissolution of the Fifth Republic! For a Sovereign Constituent Assembly, elected entirely by proportional vote through which the delegates of the people will define themselves the content, norms and guarantees of democracy, both on the social and political levels!”
This government cannot claim even the slightest shred of legitimacy in its quest to destroy the 42 retirement pension plans that exist in this country, or when it seeks to reduce women, deprived of their spouse’s pensions, to poverty, or when it liquidates the benefits attached to the retirement systems.
The government and its counter-reform of the retirement pensions are illegitimate! Only the fight for the unity of workers and their organisations is legitimate, in a united front to impose the withdrawal of the pension reform plan and the preservation of all the existing pension plans!
The POID calls on you to take your place in this combat.
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 The daily Le Monde newspaper revealed that a close associate of President Emmanuel Macron perpetrated acts violence against two young activists during the May 1st demonstration — acts that were videoed and posted on social media the same day. Two months later, it turns out that the individual wearing a police helmet was Alexandre Benalla, Macron’s “advisor” and chief of security.
 The Elysée is the French equivalent of the White House in Washington, DC.
 Article 44-3 is an article of the Constitution of France’s Fifth Republic that compels the parliament to vote on a text as a whole, including only those amendments accepted by the executive branch of the government.
 Article 49-3 is an article of the Constitution that allows the adoption of a law without a vote by the parliament.
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(3) Workers’ Tribune Issue no.149 – Editorial (July 25, 2018)
It Is Not Just the Area Between Carcassonne and Bagnères-de-Luchon…
By Daniel Gluckstein
24 July, 12.30pm: Between Carcassonne and Bagnères-de-Luchon, the Tour de France [cycling road race] is interrupted by a demonstration by small farmers, which is uncompromisingly broken up with tear gas.
The public TV sports commentator gives this historical explanation: “This is Catharism country, Protestantism country, and let’s be frank, revolution country.” (1)
So goes the regime’s crisis. Nothing and nobody is spared: not even the Tour de France, which Macron was supposed to attend on Wednesday 25 July before finally cancelling, unlike the small farmers who were pushed to the limit and tried to make themselves heard… And straight away, there is talk of revolution! Most definitely, the atmosphere is hot as July comes to an end, and not just in terms of the weather.
In French (as in all languages), words have meaning and represent a commitment by the people who use them. On 13 February 2018, Macron described his election as “the result of a form of history’s brutality, a breaking and entering.” According to the Larousse dictionary, the word effraction [usually translated into English as an intrusion or break-in] means: “Breaking, forcing or removing any device serving to close off a passage or a fence. (An intrusion which constitutes a criminal offence is an aggravating circumstance relating to certain infractions: theft, burglary, etc.).”
Should we be surprised that someone who describes himself as being the result of a “break-in” is tangled up in something like the Benalla affair? (2)
Should we be surprised that small farmers, hospital workers, postal workers, railway workers and young people blocked by Parcoursup (3) regard as intolerable the pretention of this discredited break-in artist to destroy all rights with impunity?
Let us say clearly that personal and psychological considerations are of secondary importance here. If this small-time Bonaparte – the man whom the US financial media agency Bloomberg just recently described “by another term that history shows is not appreciated in France: monarchist” – thinks it possible to pursue his policy despite the storm over Benalla, this is for one simple reason: he is counting on the fact that nobody will dare call into question the sacrosanct character of the state institutions and their keystone, the President of the Republic. That’s it in a nutshell.
The fact is that 15 months ago, those who today embody “the left” opposed to Macron were calling for people to vote for him in the name of the lesser evil. At the time, we refused to choose “between cholera and the plague”.
But today, anger is rising in every sector of the working class and youth.
The workers are saying angrily: how can we imagine that the cronies and rogues who form this uncrowned monarch’s court can continue to threaten our rights, our pensions and our collective guarantees for much longer? And they are right: unity between the workers and their organisations can and must be sealed in order to force this illegitimate government to withdraw every one of the counter-reforms, beginning with the PACTE Bill (4) and the counter-reform of the public pension schemes!
In France, it is not just the area between Carcassonne and Bagnères-de-Luchon that is “revolution country”.
(1) Catharism was a version of Christianity that thrived between the 12th and 14th centuries in southern France. The Cathars were persecuted by the Catholic Church with the full support of the monarchy.
(2) Alexandre Benalla, an assistant and personal bodyguard to Macron, violently attacked student demonstrators in Paris on 1 May 2018 while (illegally) disguised as a police officer. The President’s office suspended Benalla for 15 days and subsequently allowed him to resume his duties, then covered up the affair until Le Monde newspaper exposed it on 18 July 2018.
(3) “Parcoursup” is the new system for public university admissions, due to be applied from the 2018-19 academic year onwards, which introduces measures for academic selection.
(4) PACTE is the acronym derived from the draft law’s French title, which translates as “Action Plan for the Growth and Transformation of Companies”. As well as “simplifying” day-to-day business operations for the benefit of employers, the bill aims to privatise public enterprises such as the national airport operator Groupe ADP, energy firm Engie and the state lottery company La Française des Jeux.