The political commotion surrounding the Benalla scandal and workers’ interests

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
July 30, 2018

The Benalla scandal has become the saga of the summer and there’s a good chance it will carry on. There’s nothing really new about this particular scandal—many other scandals have gone on behind the scenes within the president’s circle of power and there are many examples of henchmen like Benalla behaving badly. The reason the saga will likely continue is because it gives opposition-party politicians a chance to blow their own horns and accuse Macron without ever criticizing his policy in favor of the rich.

Two separate votes of no confidence have been filed against the government, one from the right wing and one from several left-wing parties including the Parti socialiste (Socialist Party), the Parti communiste français (French Communist Party) and France Insoumise (Unsubmissive France). Marine Le Pen from the Rassemblement National (National Rally)[1] said she would vote in favor of both. Jean-Luc Mélenchon from France Insoumise declared, “When it comes to protecting the State and upholding republican norms, there is a point of convergence with the right. I don’t have a problem with that”. So right-wing, extreme-right wing and left-wing parties are all crying out in unison against Macron. But the more they put on their ‘outraged politician’ acts, the more it all seems to be just a lot of hot air.

Macron covered up for Benalla when, after thinly disguising himself as a policeman, he beat up protesters in a May Day march just to get an adrenalin rush. But the entire state apparatus is packed with lackeys like Benalla. Whether they come from working-class neighborhoods or whether they’ve graduated from prestigious universities, they all serve the interests of the State which means they also serve the interests of capitalism.

Macron himself, above all others, is devoted to defending the interests of the capitalist class. He did so as a senior bank executive and he continues to do so now as president. But his orders come from the capitalists. They are the ones who dictate his policy and order him to lead the class war against workers.

Macron has made it easier for bosses to lay off workers. He has extended legal work hours making the workday longer, demolished labor laws, increased social security contributions for workers and lowered housing benefits... He has done all this in order to serve capitalists’ interests and he’s not going to stop there. As soon as the summer is over, he plans to launch an attack on pensions and to make stricter controls on jobless workers.

In fact, the entire State serves the interests of the bosses and the ruling class and it allows capitalists to have complete freedom to do whatever they like in the class struggle. Macron is their number one man, as his arrogance and policy oriented towards the wealthy classes both go to show. But, in reality, he simply executes the bosses’ orders and does what is asked of him.

We must not have any illusions about what opposition leaders claim they would do if they were in Macron’s shoes. Workers can’t trust smooth talkers who make promises to get elected and then do the complete opposite like François Hollande did when he said, “Finance is my enemy” during his election campaign and then spent his entire presidency bowing down before it.

The CEO of Peugeot, a major car-manufacturing company, announced “record-breaking profitability” for the first six months of 2018 with a 48% increase in profits totaling 1.7 billion euros. Other major companies have announced similar results, even better than last year’s. All this money doesn’t grow on trees. Big bosses are always looking for ways to lower wages, speed up production or to push workers out the door so that they can produce more with fewer hands. They do this in order to remain “competitive”, as they say, in the international trade war.

Bernard Arnault, who is the principal shareholder of luxury goods multinational LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët-Hennessy), saw his wealth increase by 56% in one year reaching 73 billion euros. He declared that he expected there would be an economic collapse “in upcoming years which will affect all sectors of the economy”. The economic crisis he is referring to is actually already a reality and has been for years. But the crisis is getting worse and it could lead to disaster for the whole of society.

Capitalists don’t know how to put an end to the crisis but they do know how to increase their short-term profits by leading the war against workers.

Workers have no interests in the pathetic parliamentary commotion surrounding the Benalla scandal. What the working class really needs is a platform that puts forth their vital demands from a class perspective: a ban on layoffs and the sharing out of work between all, sufficient wages and pensions so that everybody can live decently and control over companies and their accounts so that we can see where the money that comes out of the exploitation of workers actually is and goes.

A working-class platform to help prepare workers in their fight against exploitation and capitalism is the only way forward both for workers and for society as a whole.

[1] Rassemblement national (National Rally) is the new name for the Front national, an extreme-right party in France. The name change became official on June 1, 2018.