With Nathalie Arthaud, let's make the working class voice ring out

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
20 March 2017
Last week-end, Hamon and Mélenchon tried to breathe life into their ailing campaigns. Hamon attacked his main rivals, Le Pen, Fillon and Macron, calling them the "big money" candidates. Le Pen, who underestimated her wealth declaration so that she would be exempt from the wealth tax, belongs to the bourgeoisie. She never misses an opportunity to pit French workers against immigrant workers ─ like the undocumented workers of Rungis who have been on strike since Thursday, March 17. Simply by attempting to create a gap between French workers and immigrant workers, who are our working class brothers and sisters, she proves she is on the bosses’ side and is indeed of great service to them.
Fillon and Macron share the same ambition, that is, catering to the rich, by reducing or suppressing the wealth tax; increasing VAT; attacking the pension system; slashing jobs in the public sector. From A to Z, their programs are tailored for the privileged classes.
What about Hamon and Mélenchon's programs? The Socialist Party (PS) has a long record of making promises... that they don’t keep. Back in 2012, Hollande castigated the world of finance as his “real enemy”... before actually allowing finance to flourish as never before. In a Paris meeting, Hamon mocked Macron through an ironic impersonation, shouting, “Are you unemployed? Start up your own business! Are you poor? Become a billionaire!” And what does Hamon himself have to offer? Behind his slogan “a desirable future” there is nothing but an ever-decreasing universal income project which boils down to “Are you poor? Stay poor!” What type of future is that?
Mélenchon is a direct rival of Hamon, his former Socialist Party comrade. But they both wage very similar campaigns. On March 18, Mélenchon's movement, La France insoumise (Unbowed or Unsubmissive France), staged a demonstration to commemorate the Paris Commune of 1871, which saw, for the first time in history, workers rise up, seize power and take up arms to fight off their enemies. What is Mélenchon's proposal for today? Another Commune? Another uprising? No, he is simply asking to cast a vote for him to “kick out” the political establishment and to install a Sixth Republic. This is a farce. A new Republic wouldn't change anything that matters. Of course, president Hollande is sure to be “kicked out”. But those who concentrate the real power in their hands – big bosses such as Arnault (luxury), Bettencourt (cosmetics) or Drahi (telecoms) – will still be there, as the power they hold is not bestowed upon them by any election or by some constitution but through capital ownership.
They can be assured that their interests will be safeguarded, as not a single one among the main contending candidates calls into question the power of capital owners and the social war waged by major stockholders.
In 2016, the total profits of the 40 businesses making up the CAC40 stock exchange index reached 76 billion euros. How many jobs were cut, coffee breaks suppressed, overtime hours not paid, production speeds increased, occupational illnesses and industrial accidents multiplied to achieve this result? The profits raked in by major corporate groups and handed out to stockholders are the result of increased exploitation.
Thanks to the so-called responsibility pact, the state was able to make an average yearly gift of 41 billion euros to the bosses. With what consequences on hospitals, schools, pension systems or local communities?
Clearly the presidential election will not “kick out” any of the true rulers of society.
But it can be put to good use by the working class. It has always been, and still is, an opportunity for workers to make some noise and be heard. That is the meaning of Nathalie Arthaud's presence in the presidential election. She is not saying: “Vote for me and I will change things for you.” She is saying: “Together, let us make workers' claims heard.” To put an end to unemployment, work hours must be spread out among all workers, without any loss on wages. We cannot allow companies that make huge profits to lay off the workforce. Layoffs and job cuts must be prohibited.
In order for everyone to live a decent life, wages, pensions and benefits must be increased so that no one earns less than 1,800 euros net per month.
Everywhere, things get done because there are workers to get them done. So, logically, workers should control what gets done. Renault's cheating over diesel emission was possible only because of the secrecy imposed on workers to the detriment of public health. Business secrecy must be banned.
None of this will be achieved without massive, powerful struggles carried out by the working class. By voting for Nathalie Arthaud, workers can say that they agree with these claims and that, confronted by a capitalist class whose greed has no limit, they are not prepared to simply let things be... whoever is voted in as France’s president.