Last week, during his visit to Africa, French President Macron cynically declared that France no longer had a specific “African policy”.
The truth is that, since 2014, thousands of French soldiers have been deployed in Mali where, under the pretext of combating terrorism, they wage a war which regularly kills civilians. The French army is present on a permanent basis in many African countries, including Burkina Faso where Macron made his declaration. France has always intervened in the country, supporting the authors of military coups and dictators aspiring to obediently defend the interests of French imperialists.
Macron also declared that he belonged to a generation who considers that “the crimes of European colonization are undeniable and are part of our history”. Macron is indeed too young to have known first-hand the “colonial times”. But he belongs to the long list of political leaders who helped the French bourgeoisie get rich thanks to its colonial empire.
Africa’s dire poverty and the miserable conditions of most Africans are neither natural nor inevitable. They are due to the century-old plundering of Africa by colonial powers, with France playing a leading role in the continent’s colonization.
Many French bourgeois families built their fortune on the slave trade. They sold millions of enslaved Africans to planters in the United States and the West Indies. Colonization meant the plundering of raw materials and the blood, sweat and tears of millions of exploited Africans. Colonial economies were set up to yield huge profits for French banks and big capital owners—like Lesieur and Boussac, respectively manufacturers and suppliers of peanut oil and cotton fabric. Today, African countries have conquered political independence but they continue to depend on imperialism and remain victims of its barbarity.
To distance himself from his predecessors, Macron acknowledges in his speeches the crimes committed a hundred years back by France’s colonial power. But his government, like all previous French governments, upholds imperialist order and justifies its present-day crimes. French troops are waging a war in western Africa, not to protect people against terrorism, as Macron would like us to believe but to serve the interests of Areva, Bouygues, Bolloré and other French capitalists who make enormous profits in a region which continues to be the exclusive preserve of French imperialism.
This history matters to us because it is part of our own history. Those who organized the plundering of Africa are the same people who forced French workers to work more than ten hours a day in mines, steel factories or spinning mills. European workers had to live through two world wars for the sake of bourgeois people whose sole ambition was to dominate the world and impose a different sharing out of the colonies. For two centuries, European and African workers have been crushed by the same imperialist oppressors.
The capitalist system maintains the poorer countries in a state of under-development and sends millions of women and men into misery. Here, in France, we are confronting bosses who condemn millions to unemployment and dream of compelling those who have a job to accept conditions worthy of the 19th century—that is, living on a day-to-day basis with no rights and no guarantees.
It is in the interest of every worker and all exploited people to get rid of capitalism by taking away the control over the economy that big companies enjoy. That would make it possible to put an end to inequalities and to the exploitation of wage earners.
In workplaces and working-class districts, there must be women and men standing for the idea that, whatever their skin color or nationality, and beyond national borders, workers make up a single social class—the only class that can put an end to this unjustifiable and barbaric system.