Let 2019 be the year when the working class starts fighting back

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
January 1, 2019

Macron wanted to seem less weak at the start of 2019 so his New Year message had a somewhat aggressive tone. “Telling the truth means getting real”, he said and he warned the working classes “you can’t work less and earn more, pay less taxes and increase public spending”.

That is truly the reality that he represents, power that works for big business and that won’t ask it to make the slightest contribution. Macron’s reminder to us on Monday night was that he will continue his policy and he even confirmed the upcoming attacks, particularly the one against unemployment benefits.

The president for the rich may not like it but the yellow vest movement has proven that when people take to the streets, when tens of thousands of people mobilize together, they can make someone even as arrogant as Macron back down and make his government give in, at least partially, under the pressure.

But it’s not enough to solve the purchasing power problem. As one demonstrator put it, “we want more than crumbs!”. Macron’s measures only apply to a few workers; they are worth no more than a few euros and even those will be taken from our pockets again because it’s out of the question to ask the rich for money.

Just like all his predecessors, Macron is going to keep on giving and even increasing the billions handed out to businesses. Every government says that this is necessary for useful investment, hiring, even wage increases. Macron is even assuring us “ultra-liberal and financial capitalism is coming to an end”.

But exactly the opposite is happening! The billions in subsidies and tax breaks ensure profits for the capitalists, not jobs or wages for the workers.

Pharmaceutical trust Sanofi, which received millions of euros in tax breaks over the last few years, has during the same period increased layoffs. It has just bought out a competitor for 11 billion dollars while announcing 750 layoffs across the country!

In a market that is saturated because the lower classes have less money, goods produced can’t be sold at a profit high enough to satisfy big shareholders. The capitalist class grabs billions and squanders them on what gives the highest and fastest return. They spend their money on speculation and financial operations, mechanisms that put the whole structure of the economy at risk.

During the last week in December, there were spectacular fluctuations in the stock prices of the big conglomerates on the world’s stock markets. It’s year-end review time and we’re being told that 2018 was the worst year for financial markets since 2008 and that we’re maybe moving into a recession. Whether the economy is being shaken yet again or taking a new nose-dive, the capitalist world is stuck in a crisis and can’t get out.

And the ones who pay are the working classes throughout the world: exploitation, unemployment and living standards are getting worse for them.

Workers are condemned to a situation where they survive rather than make a living, for no other reason than to allow a minority of capitalists to get richer all the time. To stop our living conditions from getting worse, we should target the minority that rules the economy and for whom Macron’s government is nothing but a spokesperson.

Macron and his government are on the side of the rich. They crush the working classes and hold them in contempt. Many believe, quite rightly, that they should be challenged for this. But it is even more legitimate and necessary to challenge the dictatorship of big business over the economy. The millions of workers, employees, engineers, railroad workers and carers are the ones who keep society functioning. There’s no reason for them to put up with the capitalists’ whims in order to keep their jobs or earn enough to live decently.

At the end of 2018, we saw that the working classes are capable of mobilizing, of coming together to demand their right to a decent life. In 2019, let’s make that anger and mobilization reach the workplace. With fights and strikes, workers can force the capitalists to back down. They can fight for a general increase in wages, pensions and allowances. They can impose the measures that are essential to the working class and challenge this economic system.