Macron’s government made a real factory of reactionary reforms: he deepened the labor reform, the privatization of the rail and attacks on rail workers’ social rights, the attack on the right to study in universities, the extremely serious anti-immigrant reform…

By N.François.


Macron’s reforms found the massive protests of workers’ and the youth [in response]. Each time they go out to the streets and carry out strikes, like during the Hollande administration. So why have they not achieved a victory so far?

Is it because of Macron’s government strength? No. Macron’s government is hated by most of the population, not only workers but also by the middle class. In fact, the government is supported only by the bourgeoisie and some privileged sectors of the middle class. Also, the parliamentary system, that for years helped the bourgeoisie to channel the protests through the dead-end of elections, is now in a profound crisis: the current French parliament does not even deserve the title of “spokesperson,” as it became the automatized production line of the anti-workers’ reforms that Macron himself produces in form of decrees.

Is the problem the indifference of workers and the youth? No. Although it is true that the size of the demonstration is far from that in 1968 and even in 1995, the generalized discontent with the system is greater, global, and the potential is objectively higher. It lacks materialization.

Over the last years, there were permanent strikes in different sectors. Today, rail workers are on discontinued strike for over a month (two days of strike, three of work, and so on), with a high participation especially among train drivers. On days of strike, between 50 and 80% of the trains do not work on several lines.

There is also a striking movement of post mail workers. Many universities across the country have professors’ and students’ strikes, even with occupations like the case of the Sorbonne (Paris), Nanterre, and the Toulouse and Montpellier Universities. The students’ assemblies movement is even broader. They became massive as not seen in a long time, with hundreds and even thousands of students. There is a will to join the struggles of different sectors: the students go to the rail and support the rail workers’ strike; the rail and post mail workers go to the universities; there are joint initiatives by the inter-sector bodies of the movement, etc.

Might the problem be in the Police repression? It is true that the government strengthens repression. But the repression by the Police with its low efficiency, together with the massive repudiation of it, evidences its relative impotence. For instance, the CRS (anti-riot police) intervention in the Nanterre University (crib of May 1968) had the opposite effect, causing the massification of the assemblies. The dean that called the CRS had to justify himself systematically for a week, expressing his regret. The demonstrations count with thousands of people and suffer brutal attacks with gases by the Police, and yet the massification does not stop.

The problem is not either in the Fascist groups’ actions, although it is true that the wave of protests suffered from aggression by some of them, like in the Montpellier University, where Fascists supported by the dean tried to evict the occupation. In Nanterre, the occupation also suffered from a “hybrid” aggression: one night, the university was invaded by lumpen elements who attacked the students and caused some damages.

All of this shows the necessity of discipline in the occupation, the creation of self-defense bodies. But these are isolated facts, not the general situation.

No. The problem is not in the government’s strength nor in the movement’s depression, police repression or Fascist groups. The main problem is in the leadership.

It is the bureaucracy of official unions, especially the bigger one, the CGT, that consciously divides the fight and avoids the confluence of different sectors from strike movement. It is the bureaucracy that limits unity of action turning it into “days of unitary actions,” isolated, organized once a month, with no continuity and so a symbolic, ceremonial character.

In the rail, the CGT bureaucracy calls for a discontinued strike – in fact, a “semi-strike”, to avoid a real, continuous strike that could paralyze the entire sector and put the government against the wall. Also, for the decision on the development [of the process] not to rely on workers’ assemblies but to stay in the hand of the bureaucracy itself.

The union bureaucracies do not want to fight against the bosses’ government that declared a war against workers. Since the beginning of the rail workers’ strike, on April 3, the bureaucracy took a submissive stand, posing as the main demand, not the suspension of the rail reform but the negotiations with the government. It tries to scare the government with the consequences of the reform for the bourgeoisie and the State, for undermining “social cohesion” and “purchasing power.”

With this “constructive argumentation,” it calls the government, in fact, to be “reasonable” and take the decision in favor of the “common interest,” “social progress” and “common welfare.”

On May 8, during the negotiations with the union bureaucracy, the government affirmed that the anti-workers law on rails would pass “grossly” but it would be possible to “finish it” later on. In other words, it would be possible to change part of it. The union bureaucracy and the CP and Mélenchon, established in the parliament, prepare the “amendments” to pass the bill, as it was the case with the Al-Komri labor reform. Like this, all of them prepare their new capitulation.

Mélenchon calls his own demonstrations in “days of actions” to try and channel politically the social protest. He declares as his goal, “to make Macron and the economic media around him know the clear message on the determination and will of not giving up anything,” and for the government and bourgeoisie to be reasonable. Mélenchon has trouble to channel the protest (thus, he tries to demonstrate separated from the common actions) and his party is suffering the crisis. His support to the police aggression against the movement (“I am sure that the Police will do what has to be done,” “we work well together [with the Police]” and “we ensure it”) will not help him with his task.

The necessity of a general strike is evident for the entire movement. The problem is that it is led by traitors of which we cannot expect anything but betrayal. They make everything possible for the general strike to fail, and through a utopic reformist strategy of “social progress” on the base of negotiations with the bourgeois government that is destroying the social achievements, they just tire and demoralize the movement. As long as reformists and conciliators, these preachers of “social cohesion”, lead the movement, it will always end up defeated despite some tactical victories, result of the masses’ courage and achieved against the bureaucracy’s policy.

The movement’s leadership by the union bureaucracy is a major problem. But the reason of it is not in its alleged enormous power. On the contrary, this bureaucracy has no authority on or trust by the masses, and it is the common target for insults. Before, the union bureaucracy and Stalinism apparatuses controlled the masses, and that is how they got to stall the massive movement of May ’68. They do not have this power anymore. They sustain the thought that “a bureaucratic union is better than no union,” but this argument is losing strength.

So, the traitors that lead the movement are not Heracles. But they will continue to lead it as long as there is not an alternative leadership, a workers’ alternative organization. And the construction of this alternative is vital.

In France, at Union level, there is an organization that could become this alternative. It is part of the International Network, Solidaires, in which most combative activists are organized, including rail and education workers. It is possible to build this alternative. But one of the necessary conditions to move forward is the relentless, open, clear denunciation of the traitor leadership to workers, specifically from the CGT, and posing a socialist perspective. Without this, the CGT bureaucracy will continue to lead.

And there is a problem here: the current leadership of Solidaires, under the slogan “unionist unity,” signs the demobilizing agreements of the CGT bureaucracy, that has as its main goal the negotiation with the government, and agitate the “social cohesion” illusion (when the bourgeoisie unleashed a social war against workers,) and of “social progress” without questioning the bourgeois system (when the bourgeoisie and their governments across the world proof that they only take society to decline), of “commong interests” and “common welfare” (when the government clearly defends the common interests of the bosses against the common interests of workers and poor).

With this slogan of “not breaking unionist unity”, there is no public, open criticism to the CGT bureaucracy. This is an obstacle for the development of Solidaires as the so needed alternative. This policy has to be changed.

There are two possibilities for Solidaires: whether they harshly fight the always present tendencies to adapt to the CGT bureaucracy and the funds of the bourgeois state, and so continue their construction as a combative, independent union, against the bureaucracy and for socialism… or it will not develop as the alternative, classist, independent, and socialist leadership.

The current struggle in France takes the ideologies of Anarchism and Horizontalism to bankruptcy once again.

Like this, the students’ occupations, in the core of which anarchists forces are, have a tendency to degenerate and become lumpen. And they are victims of their own pacifism when they are defenseless against the aggression by the enemies of the movement.

Horizontalist ideology is a clear obstacle to the centralization of the movement. On one side, it does not guarantee internal democracy, only possible with an organization with real frontiers, debates and voting. On the other side, and linked to the element above, it is incapable of resisting the manipulations of the bureaucratic apparatuses. There are many sane initiatives to centralize the movement, coming from circles impregnated with ideas of a horizontal organization – but despite their good intentions, these are numerous, decentralized, disperse, while the movement as a whole is still controlled by the CGT centralized bureaucracy.

The “no parties” ideology also shows its impotence in the French struggle when the control of the movement is disputed by different apparatuses, always centralized and so “efficient.” Only a revolutionary party, well organized and democratically centralized, can fight them and beat them in the movement, and the “anti-party” stand actually leaves those apparatuses free-handed to fight back.

Currently, there are three fronts of struggle in the country:

First, the struggle on the development of assemblies as a tool against bureaucracy, for workers to decide democratically the matters of movement development.

Second, the struggle on the centralization of the movement, to overcome the dispersion, so normal in the French political culture, as a result of the country historically being the “homeland” of the bourgeois revolution and crib of the “citizens’ democracy.” The struggle for the development of independent unions, for overcoming Solidaires’ problems, is intimately linked to the task of centralization of the movement.

Third, the struggle of the revolutionaries for the construction of the revolutionary party, without which it is not possible to defeat the traitor reformist apparatuses.

Against the union bureaucracy traitors and reformist parties, hauling before the bosses’ government of Macron, begging him to guarantee the “common interests”, stalling the movement!

For a general strike to defeat Macron’s reforms!

Down the bosses’ government! Down with the parliament, that clearly shows his anti-workers, anti-popular role, and supports the bosses!

For a workers’ government! For a socialist revolution!