T.O. 89: LCIP Conference – Rutgers Strike Victory – New Phase of Warfare – Afghan Women – Haiti – France Dossier 3
“Workers Can Only Rely on Their Own Strength!”
* * * * * * * * * * *
LCIP National Conference 2023 – May 13, 2023
Build an Independent Working-Class Party: Break the Grip of the Two-Party System NOW!
[NOTE: Below and attached is an invitation to register for the LCIP National Conference 2023. ONLY ATTENDEES and PARTICIPANTS should register through the registration link in this Invitation — NOT Panelists/ Speakers/ Facilitators/ TechSupport.]
Labor and Community for an Independent Party (LCIP) is holding a national conference on Saturday, May 13, 2023 in-person and with online (remote) attendance options. Join us for the day, from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM Pacific Time, at Compton College in the City of Compton (Los Angeles area in Southern California) or via remote videoconferencing.
For Saturday, May 13, 2023, we have confirmed an amazing group of panelists/speakers.
Our panelists will address issues and topics such as why US labor unions should get on board with LCIP in making a clean break from the Democratic and Republican Parties and in building an independent working-class political party, the importance and role of the Black liberation struggle in organizing an independent working-class political party, and the urgency of addressing immigrant rights legislation in the US. The conversation and networking will be off-the-chain. You don’t want to miss this!!
LCIP does not take money from corporate donors; our events and activities are completely funded by individual donations from working-class supporters like you. We need your help in funding this LCIP National Conference – for the boxed lunch for the in-person attendees, and to pay the nominal costs for security and support staff at the in-person Conference at Compton College. We would appreciate your help with this – please donate today!
===>>>> Donate Now
Click Here to =>>>Register Today
Will you attend: ___In-Person or ___Online
Send your reply to: mailto:lcipLA@lcipcommittee.org
LCIP Conference Agenda
May 13, 2023 – 9:15 AM to 5:00 PM
Compton College, Compton, California, USA
(all times are Pacific Time) [titles and organizations listed for id purposes]
9:15 AM: In-Person Check-in
9:30 AM: Breakfast (boxed by Panera)
10:00 AM – 10:55 AM: Opening session:
• Welcome: Facilitator- Coral Wheeler, LCIP Continuations Committee
• Opening Remarks:
Connie White, LCIP Los Angeles and LCIP Continuations Committee
Jonathan Martin, Progressive Party Builders
Jim Lafferty, Executive Director Emeritus, Los Angeles Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild
11:00 AM – 12:15 PM: Panel #1: “The Importance of Building Independent Black Political Power within the US Working-Class Labor Party Movement”
Facilitator- Lisa Knox, Immigration Attorney, Bay Area LCIP, and
LCIP Continuations Committee
Nnamdi Lumumba, Co-Convenor, Ujima Peoples Progress Party (UPP), and LCIP Continuations Committee
Khalid Raheem, Chair, New Afrikan Independence Party (NAIP), and LCIP Continuations Committee
Shafeah M’Balia, Black Workers for Justice
Q & A/Discussion
12:15 PM – 1:15 PM: Lunch (boxed by Panera)
1:15 PM – 2:25 PM: Panel #2: The USA Labor Movement and its Role in Building an Independent Working-Class Political Party in the USA
Facilitator-Millie Phillips, Labor Fight Back Network and LCIP Continuations Committee
David Van Deusen, President, Vermont AFL-CIO
Desiree Rojas, Chair, Sacramento Chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), and LCIP Advisory Committee
Diamonte Brown, President, Baltimore Teachers Union
Ron Kaminkow, General Secretary, Railway Workers United (RWU)
Q & A/Discussion
2:30 PM – 3:40 PM: Panel #3: The Struggle for Immigration Rights is a Part of the Working-Class Struggle for Independent Political Representation
Facilitator-Desiree Rojas, Chair, Sacramento Chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), and LCIP Advisory Committee
Lisa Knox, Immigration Attorney, Bay Area LCIP, and LCIP Continuations Committee
Luis Angel Reyes Zavalza, Immigration Attorney, San Francisco
Esperanza Cuautle, Immigration Rights Advocate/Organizer
Guillermo Medina Reyes, Immigration Rights Advocate/Organizer
Q & A/Discussion
3:45 PM – 5:00 PM: Closing Session/Plenary
Facilitator-Connie White, LCIP Los Angeles and LCIP Continuations Committee Alan Benjamin, Former Executive Board member, San Francisco Labor Council, and LCIP Continuations Committee
Nnamdi Lumumba, Co-Convenor, Ujima Peoples Progress Party (UPP), and LCIP Continuations Committee
Lisa Knox, Immigration Attorney, Bay Area LCIP, and LCIP Continuations Committee
Q & A/Discussion
4:50 PM – 5:00 PM: Closing Remarks: Summary and Next Steps
* * * * * * * * * *
Striking Faculty and Staff Reach a Tentative Agreement with Rutgers University
By Alan Benjamin
As we go to press, we have learned that the three unions representing 9,000 Rutgers University faculty and staff have reached a Tentative Agreement (TA) after a one-week strike. The strike, the first educators’ strike in the university’s 257-year history, broke out following the Rutgers’ administration’s refusal to bargain in good faith during more than one year of stalled contract negotiations.
The three striking unions announced that they secured “profound victories” for students and faculty members ranging from pay increases to teaching conditions. The TA must be voted by the rank-and-file of the three unions for the contract to be ratified.
“Our members have struck to transform higher education in the State of New Jersey and across this country,” stated Becky Givan, president of the Rutgers AAUP-AFT chapter. “The framework we have agreed to sets in place unprecedented gains for contingent workers, graduate students, and our communities.”
According to a press release issued by the Rutgers administration, the TA will:
• Increase salaries across the board for full-time faculty and counselors by at least 14 percent by July 1, 2025.
• Provide a 43.8 percent increase in the per-credit salary rate for part-time lecturers over the four years of the contract while strengthening their job security.
• Increase the minimum salary for postdoctoral fellows and associates by 27.9 percent over the same contract period.
• Provide “substantial enhancements” in wages, plus a commitment to multi-year university support for teaching assistants and graduate assistants. The graduate students, in addition to receiving health care coverage and free tuition and fees, will see their 10-month salaries increase to $40,000 over the course of the contract.
A statement issued April 14 by AAUP-AFT featured “the vital progress we have made on the core issues we prioritized during this contract campaign.” The statement, however, went on to warn that there are still some “open issues” to be resolved.
These “open issues” are not secondary. According to the AAUP-AFT statement, “[I]f we don’t secure the gains we need on the open issues through bargaining in the coming days, we can and will resume our work stoppage.”
“We are not alone”
The one-week strike gave the striking faculty and staff a sense of empowerment that they had not felt before. A statement by the leadership of AFT quotes some of the strikers as follows:
“Amy Higer, a global affairs professor and an adjunct faculty member at Rutgers since the late 1990s, says that ‘for the first time that I’ve been teaching at Rutgers, I and my colleagues do not feel alone. … In solidarity there is power. There is power in a union, and unions are most powerful when they have organized to correct injustices.”
Higer continued: “We are united because Rutgers students deserve the best possible education, and this means paying their teachers a fair wage and providing them with some semblance of job stability and security to end the high turnover of faculty and the demeaning practice of having us reapply for our jobs every semester.”
“The solidarity extends beyond New Jersey. ‘We are not alone,’ said Todd Wolfson, general vice president of Rutgers AAUP-AFT. ‘The strikes that are happening right here in New Jersey and in other parts of the country right now are building on a historic strike wave in higher education.’ To wit: AFT-affiliated faculty at Chicago State University and Eastern Illinois University are on strike; nearby Governors State University faculty began a strike April 11; and graduate workers at the University of Michigan have been on strike since March 29.
“Higer summed up: “We all know that the only way to end income inequality and unjust working conditions in this country is by mobilizing our power, withholding our labor without which Rutgers cannot run—and staying unified and united until Rutgers provides us with the contracts we deserve.”
· * * * * * * * * * *
U.S./NATO War: A New Phase of Warfare Threatens
The storm clouds are gathering in the sky over Ukraine. The melting of the snow has prompted each side to prepare its offensive.
On the Russian side, after having sent 300,000 “mobilized” citizens into battle, all decimated by the fighting, Putin’s regime plans to mobilize 400,000 “volunteers.” It has deployed nuclear weapons on the territory of the Republic of Belarus.
As the head of an oligarchic regime that has nothing to envy its Russian and Ukrainian neighbors, Belarusian President Lukashenko is worried about this situation. An ally of Putin, he has not committed his troops to the conflict, aware of the Belarusian people’s deep hostility to the war.
On March 31, he declared: “Nuclear fires lurk on the horizon.” He then called for talks “without prior negotiations.” This proposal was immediately rejected in Kiev and Moscow.
On the Ukrainian side, the heavy offensive weapons promised by NATO arrived. Eighteen German Leopard 2 tanks were delivered on March 27, according to the German Defense Minister, in addition to the 14 delivered by Poland. Also delivered were British Challenger tanks, followed by dozens more from the Spanish “socialist” government, not to mention Polish and Slovakian fighter planes. And let’s not forget, the massive amount of weaponry from the United States.
Confirming that it is mentoring the Ukrainian army, “the U.S. military have resurrected the old card-game technique of teaching the Ukrainian troops to distinguish the names and functions of the various war machines,” reports the New York Times (March 28).
Some of the cards correspond to equipment that, for the time being, NATO does not want to deliver to Zelensky, such as the U.S. Black Hawk helicopter or the French Leclerc tank. U.S. journalist Jonathan Guyer notes:
“The Biden administration is showing a growing commitment to Ukraine. Yet participants in the January White House conference call told me that the White House has been at odds with the strongest advocates of arming Ukraine. … There don’t seem to be any plans, for example, to give Ukraine nuclear weapons” (Ibid., March 29).
There are no plans “for the moment” … but for how long? We have stated this before, and we repeat it again: The workers of all countries have no interest in the continuation of this imperialist war. The only beneficiary is the capitalist class. This basic truth is openly acknowledged, with great cynicism, in the imperialist media.
The French daily Le Point (January 30) writes, for example:
“International tensions are a great thing for the arms industries. But wars are even better, the sums are incomparable, as they provide huge amounts military material. The war in Ukraine is no exception. Not only are weapons delivered in abundance to Kiev, but anxious countries, eager to strengthen their defense, also rush to the usual suppliers.
“In this game, the United States is crushing its competition: in 2022, its arms sales increased by half.” – D.F.
* * * * * * * * * *
La Tribune des Travailleurs (Workers Tribune) Issue No. 385 – 12 April 2023 – Editorial
The Workers Can Only Rely on Their Own Strength!
By Daniel Gluckstein
According to an IFOP poll published by [left-wing daily newspaper] L’Humanité, 83 percent of the people questioned think that “the class struggle is still a reality.” How could it be otherwise?
On one side, there are the millions of workers and young people who have mobiliZed for more than three months against the shameful pensions reform bill.
On the other side, facing them, are the capitalist class, its Macron-Borne government and its State, which only serves the interests the exploiters. • The State, which is granting its army 413 billion euros (Military Planning Act) to spread war throughout the world.
• The State, whose leader, Macron, is ordering its police to unleash violent repression against workers and young people.
• The State, with its Constitution – that of the Fifth Republic – which provides all the anti-democratic means to pass a law that has not been voted by anyone.
• The State, with its Constitutional Council in charge of making people believe in the existence of a safety valve allowing appeals to be lodged against laws that have been passed.
Officially, this Constitutional Council – whose members are appointed by the Presidents of the Republic, the Senate and the National Assembly – makes its rulings from a legal point of view on the conformity of a law with the Constitution.
In reality, as an institution of the capitalist class, the Constitutional Council does not judge legally but politically, in relation to the other organs of power, starting with the Presidency of the Republic.
Of course, it cannot be ruled out that exceptional circumstances may lead it to declare the law invalid in order to save Macron, his government and the Fifth Republic. However, this hypothetical situation is unlikely. If it were to happen, it would only be a distorted reflection of the mobilization by workers and young people over the past months.
In the likely event that the Constitutional Council declares the law valid, what happens then? According to the Constitution, “the decisions of the Constitutional Council are not subject to appeal.”
Should we then respect this decision and the promulgation of the law by Macron that it entails?
In this and all other circumstances, workers can only rely on their own strength. The leaders of the organizations that are focusing on an appeal to the Constitutional Council are in fact inviting the workers to place their trust and hopes in an institution of the enemy class. This is not the path to victory.
If this is about winning, then we must listen to those hundreds of thousands of workers and young people who are saying in increasing numbers every day: “We have responded to all the calls to action by the Inter-union Co-ordinating Committee. Today, the succession of leapfrog days of action is exhausting the movement. What is on the agenda is to all come out together, once and for all, to put an end to this counter-reform.”
Yes, all out together: a general strike on a united basis. The workers can and must rely only on their own strength, never on that of their adversary.
* * * * * * * * * *
HAITI: The Solution Must Come from the Haitian People, Not the U.S.!
By Berthony Dupont, editor of Haiti Liberté (29 March)
U.S. imperialism has never disarmed or despaired in its attempts to impose, if not renew, its neo-colonial domination over Haiti. The entire history of our relations has been marked by harrowing situations, created to counter our independence and emancipation.
From coups d’état to bloody coups de force, through twisted and violent moves to liquidate the Haitian people’s right to self-determination and to repress their national liberation struggle, U.S. imperialism has done and tried everything.
It is a fact that Western imperialist domination, which succeeded colonization and slavery, has only accelerated and aggravated our misfortunes. Dominant capitalism has shaped the Haitian economy according to its own hegemonic aspirations and needs. The Haitian political class, the authentic heir to this mentality, is only a renewable instrument at the ser vice of the guardian powers.
Let us recall that when the United States invaded Haiti in 1915, to the applause of the bourgeoisie, poverty and misery were engulfingthe masses in the cities and the countryside, who were already living in inhuman conditions. From their criminal laboratory, they brought out this new formula: the Global Fragility Act or “The United States Strategy for Conflict Prevention and the Promotion of Stability of the Ten-Year Strategic Plan for Haiti.”
This is another more sophisticated means of imperialist interference in the struggles of the Haitian people, in the service of U.S. multinationals.
We need to organize ourselves in order to fight this new and even more Machiavellian war plan of U.S. imperialism, if we want to perpetuate and defend our independence. It is urgent to fight this project of lies, which is nothing more than a new classic form of military occupation.
Only the Haitian people can build or rebuild their nation, not the imperialist barbarians and their institutions, which are at the exclusive service of capitalist exploitation. It is the capitalist system that must go, with all its institutions and all its corollaries of neo-colonial domination.
The courage today is to break once and for all with the submission to the demands of the capitalist class. It is in the service of this cause, that of fighting destructive imperialism, that we at Haiti Liberté are committed to revolutionary struggle.
* * * * * * * * * *
(Hasina Sadet addressed the March 11 Women’s Day rally in Paris)
AFGHANISTAN “Don’t Let the Taliban Take Us Back to the Stone Age!”
[NOTE: Hasina Sadet, an activist of the Left Radical of Afghanistan (LRA), spoke at the rally sponsored by the POID’s Working Women’s Commission on March 11 in Paris. She spoke about the situation of Afghan women in the aftermath of the U.S. administration’s organized return to power of the fundamentalist Taliban religious militia in August 2021. Following is an interview with Hasina Sadet, published originally in Tribune des Travailleurs / Workers Tribune issue No. 384.]
Can you tell us about the latest initiatives of the Spontaneous Afghan Women’s Movement*?
Sadet: During the week of March 8 (which was the start of the school and university year), our younger generation of female students, together with other female students, gathered in front of their former schools and universities to protest against their exclusion, by the Taliban, from all educational institutions.
On March 8, the Movement held small clandestine meetings in flats – not on the street, because all rallies were banned, and we were unable to organize larger demonstrations, especially in Kabul. At the moment, our comrades and activists are under close surveillance by the Taliban. Some are imprisoned, and we are afraid that the Taliban will arrest other comrades. We support and join all women’s demonstrations.
In your speech at the meeting of the POID Women Workers’ Committee on March 11 in Paris, you warned that “not all those who oppose the Taliban are necessarily friends of women and the Afghan people.” What do you mean by this?
Sadet: Not all forces that claim to act “on behalf of Afghan women” are necessarily working in their interests. Some of them are linked to imperialism and want to divert women’s struggles. For example, all the women cabinet members of the last puppet government [in power during the 20-year NATO occupation – ed. Note]now pretends to show a democratic face. They have built up a very good “business” and receive millions of dollars in subsidies from the imperialist powers.
Beware of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that appear in the media to pretend they are working in the interests of women in Afghanistan. The Biden administration, for example, uses Rina Amiri, a U.S. citizen born in Afghanistan, as its “special envoy for women’s rights.” But these people are not to be trusted. Other “women’s rights advocates” are linked to fundamentalist groups, opposed to the Taliban, but with whom they share the same medieval, antiwomen positions. These same fundamentalist leaders, like the Taliban leaders, send their children – boys and girls – to study at good universities in England, Dubai, Qatar or Pakistan.
Is international solidarity essential to your struggle?
Sadet: Afghan women are being tortured, pressured; they have no basic rights. We are asking women at the international level to support our movement, not to leave us alone. Let them help us to get out of this situation, to get our rights: education, work and freedom. Don’t let us live in darkness, don’t let them take us back to the stone age!
* The Spontaneous Afghan Women’s Movement was founded a few weeks after the return of the Taliban to power in August 2021. It organizes women’s protests for their rights throughout the country.
Join the International Committee to Defend Afghan Women by visiting its website: https://defendafghanwomen.org/
* * * * * * * * * * *
(Sunday, March 26: Long live the Paris Commune, Long live the Workers’ Government)
OUR REVOLUTIONARY HERITAGE:
The Meaning for Today of the Paris Commune
POID Rally at the Communards’ Wall
About 600 workers and young people gathered in front of the Mur des Fédérés [Communards’ Wall] in the Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris on March 26 to pay tribute to the Paris Commune and to demonstrate its relevance for today.
Daniel Gluckstein, national secretary of the Democratic Independent Workers Party (POID), in continuity with the struggle waged by the Communards, told the gathering that the Commune arose “to accomplish democracy and feed its children. It did not hesitate to break with the exploiters, just as we must not hesitate to lead the fight to break with the Fifth Republic.”
A workers’ government is needed to enact a series of social and democratic measures, Gluckstein insisted. “There is no democracy in substandard housing, there is no democracy when one retires with a miserable pension, there is no democracy when the State shirks all its duties of aid and assistance while billions of euros are piled up for the exploiters.”
“The reconquest of democracy, Gluckstein insisted, requires the election of a Constituent Assembly and the requisition of the billions of euros handed to the capitalists and the army. It is necessary to prepare for the coming confrontation that will see the revolutionary crisis put these questions on the agenda. The unflinching struggle for a workers’ government cannot be waged by accepting the current institutions of the Fifth Republic or by organizing leapfrog days of action. Nothing will be gained without an organized struggle.”
The rally concluded with the singing of the Internationale, which affirmed that “no, the Commune is not dead, the Paris Commune is immortal.” — P.F.
* * * * * * * * * *
“The Commune is Proclaimed, the Red Flag Is its Symbol”
Presentation at the Mur des Fédérés by Camille, a student
In July 1870, France’s Second Empire went to war against Prussia. In September, after the battle of Sedan, it was defeated and overthrown. On September 4, a new government was put in place, which signed the armistice with Prussia on January 28, 1871.
Tensions rose in Paris, as the city had been living for several months under siege by the German army, which the Versaillais were preparing to let enter the city. On March 18, 1871, Adolphe Thiers, at the head of the government, sent troops to the Montmartre hill to seize the cannons of the city of Paris.
Refusing to give up these cannons, the women put up a blockade. When a general ordered to shoot at the crowd, the soldiers refused. It was the beginning of the insurrection; the Versaillesians were driven out.
On March 26, elections were organized. On the poster that called the citizens to vote, one can read: “The members of the municipal assembly … are revocable, accountable, responsible. It is such an assembly, the free city of a free country, that you will be founded.”
The elected officials were workers or recognized representatives of the working class. The same day, the Paris Commune was proclaimed, the red flag was its symbol. The first decree of the Commune was to abolish the standing army and substitute the people in arms. It cancelled the rent debts, abolished the fines imposed on the workers, and requisitioned the vacant dwellings as well as the factories.
It was up to the workers to manage them themselves. Night work was abolished, and a decree limiting the working day to eight hours was adopted. The Commune was also the separation of Church and State. Religious congregations were removed from schools, and public and secular education was established for boys and girls.
The legal equality of women and men was guaranteed by law for the first time. The specific organization of working women was encouraged, without ever dissociating it from the fight for social emancipation. Women participated in the insurrection, but also in the political organization.
On April 11, under the impulse of Elisabeth Dmitrief, the Union of Militant Women for the Defense of Paris and the Care of the Wounded was founded. The reorganization of women’s work became a priority, because they were the most exploited. The Commune instituted the creation of crèches and municipal canteens. Free marriage by mutual consent and the right to divorce were introduced, and common-law unions were recognized.
Pensions were paid to widows, whether married or not, and to children, whether legitimate or not. On May 21, 1871, the Versaillais entered Paris. On May 28, the Communards were executed. The repression was such that it was called the “Bloody Week.”
In all, 100,000 workers are estimated to have disappeared from the capital: shot, arrested, or deported. We stand today in front of the Wall of the Communards, because it is here that on May 28, the last 147 communards were shot. The Commune must be commemorated, not as a ghost of the past, but because the lessons it teaches us are a perspective for all workers and young people who today seek the path to emancipation.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Wall of the Communards, March 26, 2023
“For the workers’ government, for the government of the victorious Commune tomorrow!”
Presentation by Daniel Gluckstein on behalf of the POID
If we want to summarize the lessons of the Paris Commune, we could say this: In order to accomplish democracy and to feed its children, quite simply, the Commune was forced to break the old State machine. It was forced, in order to feed its children, to lay the foundations of a new State, an embryonic Workers’ Republic. It was indeed the question of power that was posed, and it is the question of power that is posed today.
For this, the Commune did not hesitate to break with the regime of exploiters, speculators, and large landowners. The Commune was a revolution. It did so, however, with hesitation. It did not dare to attack the Bank of France. It did not dare to march on Versailles. It is therefore up to us to learn from the strengths of the Commune, but also from its weaknesses.
And finally, since the word is fashionable, the Commune was a revolution – and it was a revolution in the full sense of the word. It was both a political and a social revolution. It was the first true workers’ revolution that humanity had known and it constituted the first Workers’ Republic.
It so happens that we are meeting today at a time when – as the two young comrades who spoke before me reminded us – the term revolution and the idea of revolution have been widely heard in the demonstrations in recent days, especially in the aftermath of the imposition of Article 49-3.
There were references throughout the marches, especially in the youth contingents, to 1789, that is, to the beheading of Louis XVI. This is reassuring because it shows that people are still learning history in school, which is useful as we can see.
Beheading the Fifth Republic
But we must not remain on the surface of things. We are not superficial observers.
The current crisis poses the necessity of cutting off the head of the Fifth Republic, as the people once cut off the head of the monarchy. It is from this point of view that we must reflect on the lessons of the Commune, because this is the central question today.
As Camille reminded us before me, the proclamation of the Commune on March 25, 1871 was a response to a provocation, the provocation of Thiers and the reactionary Versailles government. Today, are we not entitled to consider that the repeated provocations of Macron, Borne, Darmanin also push, in a certain way, to revolution?
It is not just a word. Macron says: My law is legitimate because it has been “adopted”… Borne says: “I did what the French people demanded.” Darmanin denounces “the chaos.” So, let’s talk about it, about the way laws are passed.
In 1789, one of the very first acts of the French Revolution, which was a bourgeois democratic revolution, was to adopt the following law: “All powers emanate essentially from the nation and can emanate only from it; the legislative power resides in the National Assembly.” Comrades, this Fifth Republic is a “republic” in name only.
The Fifth Republic muzzles all forms of democratic expression. What is the regime of the Fifth Republic?
– It is a regime that has a Constitution that allows for the muzzling of any form of democratic expression, even if it is distorted, and that allows for laws to be passed without the need for even a formal majority in the assemblies of the Republic.
– It is a regime which, having placed itself in a relationship of subordination to the European Union, to NATO, and to U.S. imperialism, explains that it “cannot do otherwise than engage in war;” that it “cannot do otherwise” than devote hundreds of billions of euros to the war effort in Eastern Europe; that it “cannot do otherwise” than privatize, to undermine workers’ rights.
In short, it cannot do otherwise than to deploy, in all forms, a policy that foments misery and unemployment.
– It is a regime that has a police force which like all totalitarian regimes or those in the process of “totalization” strikes, mutilates, humiliates, represses, terrorizes.
No one can believe for a moment that what happened yesterday in the demonstrations around the so-called “megabassins,” or a few days ago with the arbitrary arrests of young people, are “isolated” blunders of “isolated” police officers. The youth were detained in police custody for 20 hours, rounded up, subjected to racist epithets and beatings.
In reality, these are police officers who zealously apply the instructions they have received. And these instructions are those of Darmanin, Macron, and the Fifth Republic.
– It is a regime that does not tolerate independent unions. That’s why, periodically, it addresses the union representatives with the aim of cooptation, “Come to us, let’s work together; come to us to help implement the reforms that we have decided against the workers.” They call this “concertation” [In the U.S. this is called “labor-management cooperation”– Tr. Note].
A few days ago, we heard Macron say, without any shame, “I am ready to discuss with the unions a whole series of issues. But given that the pension reform has been ‘democratically’ adopted, there is no longer any reason to discuss it. But if the unions want to be associated with future reforms, they are welcome at the Elysée [presidential] Palace.”
One generation cannot subject future generations to its laws
Comrades, for more than two months – in the strikes and demonstrations, which became even more massive after the passage of Article 49-3 – millions of workers and young people did not stop affirming, with reason, that this law is illegitimate. Macron can claim that the pension reform is “legal.” Yes, it is legal from the point of view of the legality of the Fifth Republic. But it is illegitimate.
And here again, let’s not stop at the pension reform. This reform is illegitimate, but equally illegitimate are this government and the Fifth Republic. Democracy is the right of the people to decide their future.
Since there is much talk of revolution, we should recall that the great French Revolution of 1789 – the one that preceded the Commune, and from which the Commune drew its inspiration to go further— produced an advanced Constitution which, though it remained in the framework of bourgeois property relations, should lead us to reflect on it in today’s context. It stated the following:
“A people always have the right to review, reform and change its Constitution. One generation cannot subject future generations to its laws.”
When I reread this passage, comrades, I said to myself: But of course! The Constitution that oppresses us today, the Constitution that represses us, the Constitution that stifles democracy was adopted not one but three generations ago! Yes, one generation cannot subject future generations to its laws!
The present Constitution, born of a coup d’état, must be swept away. It is not only a problem of generations. The formulation needs to be completed. The “generation” that imposed the Constitution of 1958 and 1962 was in reality a heterogeneous coalition of generals, some of them extreme right-wing, nostalgic for Vichy; torturers of the Algerian people in the dirty colonial war, allied with large sectors of the colonists of Algeria, supported by the leaders of the Social Democracy that shamefully capitulated; supported also by all the failed politicians of the Fourth Republic’ and supported de facto by the disgraceful silence of the leaders of the Communist Party.
It is not only a question of “generations.” These leaders from all political stripes agreed that an authoritarian regime of largely monarchical inspiration had to be established. De Gaulle did not hide this fact. Many are surprised today that Macron thinks he is a king. But there is no reason to be surprised. Macron thinks he is a president of the Fifth Republic. That is, a quasi-king.
And this does not simply pose the problem of ousting Macron. It is the Fifth Republic that must be thrown out. This is what should lead us to say that this Constitution, adopted more than 60 years ago by “generations” that have disappeared and “generations” that have failed, cannot and must not be imposed on the young generation of today. The right of any generation to define for itself the forms of government, such as was proclaimed by the French Revolution, is a right that must be claimed today.
The present Constitution, born of a coup d’état, must be swept away. The central question of the moment, for the people, the workers, the youth, is that it is up to them to define what the forms and contents of an authentically democratic Constitution should be. This has a name: the convening of a “Sovereign Constituent Assembly,” by which the delegates of the people, elected and mandated for this purpose, are brought to say what form, what content a democratic regime should take.
The convening of a Constituent Assembly is an immediate demand; it’s a demand that should be raised by all those who claim to speak in the name of democracy, the workers, and the youth. But let’s not hide it, the workers are confronted with a difficulty: All of those who claim to represent the workers, without exception, have turned their backs on this demand. What do they say?
Mélenchon, three days ago, solemnly addressed Macron, to make the following proposal: “Let’s entrust the dossier on pension reform to the Social Security/Healthcare System — and stop dealing with it.” But to address Macron today is to recognize his power to decide and to decide, it is to say that it is up to him to answer or not to answer.
As for the other left-wing leaders, they are leaning more towards the “shared initiative referendum,” which is, I’m sorry to say, a vast sham, since this referendum requires, at the outset, that (1) 187 parliamentarians support it – which is possible, (2) it is recognized as conforming to the Constitution by the Constitutional Council – which is less certain, and (3) it requires, collecting nearly 4.8 million signatures in nine months.
And even if these three obstacles, which are not small, are overcome, the project then must return to the National Assembly, which can reject it — and the matter is over. And even if the proposed referendum is upheld, it must then come back to Macron’s desk, who can decide whether or not to proceed.
The refusal to break with Macron only encourages him to continue his policy
Those who on the “left”claim to offer the perspective of “another way” should start by saying: It is not within the framework of this Constitution, of this Fifth Republic, it is not by addressing Macron … that we will solve the problems. What’s needed is a break with the Fifth Republic. But they refuse to do so. In the midst of a crisis, they are turning their backs on these solutions and wisely remain prisoners of the framework of the Fifth Republic.
You will tell me that this is not a surprise: In the middle of the Covid crisis, theyall voted to fork over more than 300 billion euros to the capitalists because Macron asked them to do so. They have, in the past year, voted on five occasions – once in the French Parliament and four times in the European Parliament – in favor of motions that demanded more weapons, more ammunition, more money for the war in Ukraine. Measures, as we know, that help neither the Ukrainian nor the Russian people, but only help U.S. imperialism in its desire to take control of the whole world.
This practical refusal to break with Macron encourages him to continue his policy in all areas. We know that the next military programming law envisages 413 billion euros for the army, an increase of almost 50% over the previous law, not to mention that this figure does not include spending on arms aid in Ukraine.
Comrades, this is where we must return to the Commune. Because the lesson of the Commune is the need to break with the regime of exploiters and speculators. Not a break in words, but a break in deeds.
* * * *