And it’s a red card for capitalism

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
July 9, 2018

Between the soccer matches in Russia and the Tour de France, they say now is the time to relax. President Macron was shown in casual wear cheering when France scored a goal, as if he were your regular man in the street. The World Cup is indeed an opportunity for politicians from all sides to preach national unity, to the sound of the Marseillaise. As if like some magic wand, the beautiful game could iron out inequality and make fraternity come true.

The great sports competitions reflect capitalist society: they’re dominated by chauvinism and big money. Like the Tour de France, the World Cup is a profit-making machine. Behind the feats of the soccer champions, hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake. Millions that end up in the pockets of television channels, major media groups, sports equipment manufacturers and other official sponsors who are ready to spend a fortune just to transform those champions into moving billboards.

As long as the French team wins, the World Cup is good business for Macron, who hopes to exploit the collective enthusiasm it generates. He justified the postponement of his anti-poverty plan – in fact, an anti-pauper plan – by explaining that it would be better to deal with it later, once French families are less absorbed by football and vacations. Does Macron need reminding that one adult in two and one child in three do not go on holiday at all because they can't afford it? Poverty doesn’t stop spreading because it’s summertime. The brutal rise in the price of gas is just the latest episode in the attacks of big business on the standard of living of poor workers, bitter icing on the stale cake of unemployment and low wages.

So Macron has postponed his anti-poverty plan. But he did not postpone his show in Versailles in front of the senators and representatives. How could he have deprived himself of this blissful hour of self-aggrandizement? One more speech on the virtues of “individual emancipation”... But what kind of emancipation does he cherish? Is it embodied by the self-employed bikers working for Uber Eats, Deliveroo and others? They have just started a strike against the so-called “freedom” that condemns them to never-ending weeks and miserable pay. Is it embodied by the PSA workers in Vesoul? They have just been forced to work longer hours with no compensation on the payroll. By the workers of Carrefour, Whirlpool or Ford, who have lost or are about to lose their jobs?

Sports shows and the political circus are always in the news. But they can't hide reality away forever. They can't obliterate the difficulties suffered by workers while wealth is increasingly concentrated at the other end of society. According to a ranking published last week, the 500 richest capitalists in France have doubled their fortunes in ten years! 2018 is a record year for them, with their fortunes peaking at 650 billion euros, i.e. one and a half times the state budget! Millions of useful jobs could be created with this money. Yet the government is imposing draconian budget cuts on local communities, hospitals and all essential public services.

The top ranks are occupied by the sellers of luxury goods and weapons. Arnault, Dassault, Hermès, Mulliez and Pinault have cash piles that beat records every day. That says a lot about the prospects that this economy offers to mankind!

The ruling class, the bourgeoisie, is leading a war against the workers and it’s reaping immense profits. In their sluggish economy, saturated markets do not offer sufficiently profitable outlets for capitalists in search of the highest profits. Instead of investing their capital in production, they prefer to speculate with it, in financial gambles and buyouts, which could all lead to a new financial crisis. Their system isn’t just revolting, it’s irresponsible and dangerous!

Globally, a handful of multibillionaires control the economy and thrive, with absolutely no help to the progression of society as a whole. On the contrary, they’re leading us straight to a disaster. The private interests of capitalists dominate the economy. This translates into the decline of living and working conditions in rich countries, and the continued underdevelopment of a large majority of the planet.

To impose our right to live and not just survive, it will take a social explosion that calls capitalist domination over society into question. The only emancipation, the only freedom that workers can hope for, is the one they will succeed in imposing collectively by fighting the rich and the politicians who serve them.