Hamon and Valls: two sides of the same coin in a Socialist Party pandering to big business

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
23 January 2017

Former Prime Minister Valls took a hard blow in the first round of the Socialist Party (PS) primary. But workers won’t miss him if he gets knocked out in the second round. For a long time now, Valls has epitomized the right wing of the PS—those who would like the party to stop using the word “socialist”. Since 2012, as Minister of the Interior and then as Prime Minister, Valls has been a wholehearted supporter of conservative law and order. Big business has found Valls to be a faithful servant, arrogantly upholding decisions made-to-measure to fit the bosses’ requirements—like the Macron Law, the Labor Law and the manifold financial aids granted to companies. Valls’s last minute twisting and turning, including his support for the repeal of article 49.3 of the Constitution which he himself used and abused, is as ridiculous as a call for peace in the world issued by an arms dealer.

Commentators explain that the PS will now be divided into “two irreconcilable lefts”. That’s a laugh! Hamon’s slightly more leftist rhetoric has reached some of the PS electorate who were disappointed by the poor results of the PS’s five-year term in ofice. But he is equally responsible for it. Like Valls, Hamon has been in the PS for 30 years. Like Valls, Hamon campaigned for Hollande in 2012. Like Valls, he was a minister. In 2014, he was one of those in the government who supported Valls as a replacement for Ayrault. A far cry from being “irreconcilable”!

In his campaign, Hamon has tried to distinguish himself by proposing the introduction of a universal income of 750 euros between now and 2022. A decent wage is what the popular classes really need, a job which should not be lower than 1800 euros net per month.

Hamon explains that, due to robotization, jobs are bound to become rare. But the multiplication of robots is only a problem because capitalism is a system that relies on exploitation. Why is it not possible for mechanization and technical progress to be used to reduce everyone’s working hours without loss of wages and using profits to create more jobs? This has not even crossed Hamon’s mind. In the fight against massive unemployment and layoffs, he wants no measures that will hinder capitalism.

This week, for example, the garment manufacturing company Vivarte (André, Kookaï, La Halle aux Vêtements, Caroll, etc.) announced hundreds of job losses, after having already laid off 2000 over the last two years. The company says that it is running at a loss. But Vivarte has handed out very generous dividends for years. And, even if its tax domicile is Luxembourg, this company, which belongs to an investment fund, has had more than its fair share of French public funds. Vivarte has received 45 million euros thanks to the Competitiveness and Job Creation Tax Credit, a scandalous public aid system initiated in 2013… when Hamon was a minister. What the workers really need against these vultures is not an income of 750 euros when they are unemployed. They need a ban on layoffs and a seizure of past profits to be used to safeguard jobs.

If the second round confirms Hamon’s success, he may steal away some of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s voters. But Valls and Hamon, as well as Macron, are typical representatives of the the governmental left—past, present and future. Those who make up this left only differentiate themselves by very subtle shades of pink and all of them have, for a very long time, refused to do anything that might go against the interests of big business, thereby betraying their electors in the popular classes

The PS has been part of the government and a loyal servant to capitalism. This was clearly demonstrated during the five-year term that is coming to an end. They have opened wide the gates for the Front National and for the right wing that wants to attack the working class even more severely.

Workers don’t need a PS or a revamped left or even a “real left” that can pull the wool over the eyes of voters in the working class.

What the workers need is a party that truly represents their interests. A party that will fight the workers’ political false friends and true enemies. A party that will hold the bourgeoisie responsible. A party that will prepare workers to fight for their class interests, through strikes and the mobilization of the masses. There has to be a party that is well and truly on the side of the workers.

This is what, in the name of Lutte ouvrière, Nathalie Arthaud will stand for in the presidential election, thus giving all those who understand the need to put forward workers’ requirements an opportunity to do so.