We won’t change our fate without fighting the capitalist class

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
January 21, 2019

“Great big political maneuver”, “Great big pile of BS” could be read on signs held in Saturday’s protests which gathered another 84,000 demonstrators. This indicates that the yellow vests haven’t been fooled: it pays to protest.

In fact, the yellow vest protests are what forced Macron to make concessions concerning the social contributions of retirees. They also led to the exceptional bonus that some companies will pay their employees. And in order to win more concessions from the government and from the capitalists workers will have to protest and mobilize time and again.

Despite all the fuss around the great national debate, Macron won’t address or respond to the social anger. He will, of course, make some adjustments to show that he has taken into account the feedback from the debate. There is already talk of readapting the 80 km/hour (50 mph) speed limit on national highways and Macron won’t have any problem at all anticipating the institutional changes he had already intended to implement like adding a bit of proportional representation in the National Assembly.

But the only way to address the problem of wages, small pensions, high unemployment and the lack of state resources is to wage a struggle against capitalist profit. Macron will never do that. The fact that he refuses to bring back the wealth tax—which is no more than symbolic considering all the gifts offered to the capitalist class—proves that he won’t make the slightest demand on the rich.

Macron is not the only one to have chosen the capitalists’ side. All presidents have governed in favor of the bourgeoisie and against the working class. They have all protected the capitalist class, justified its profits, and the setbacks it imposes on the working class. President Hollande included, even if he designated finance as his enemy. And whoever comes after Macron will do just the same.

Seducing foreign investors to come to France, as Macron is now doing in Versailles, is the favorite presidential sport. When they were in office, both Sarkozy and Hollande rolled out the red carpet for the rich, with the same rhetoric on how necessary it was to grant capitalists favorable tax deductions, facilitate their administrative procedures and offer them a labor market free from the so-called chains of existing labor legislation. And supposedly, after all that, the economy was to pick up again!

Instead, the economic crisis keeps getting worse. The only thing these so-called investors know how to do is pocket profit and hoard capital, so much so that 26 people now own as much as the poorest half of humanity, that is 3.8 billion human beings.

Even though these large companies invest very little and don’t create jobs, governments have no other policy but to cater to them. All politicians, whatever their political party, defend the capitalist system in which huge amounts of capital are concentrated in the hands of a minority of business people, who have more power than they do at the head of the State! Governing within the framework of the capitalist system dominated by big business means carrying out the policy that suits it and submitting to its law, the law of maximum profit.

Last week, Macron declared: “We’re going to make those in difficult situations assume responsibility because some of them are doing things right and others are screwing up.” So, when CEOs pay shareholders 57 billion euros and block wages, are they doing things right or screwing up? When those who own billions in capital use it to buy out their competitors or speculate on the stock exchange instead of hiring, investing in housing construction or public transport, are they doing things right or screwing up?

If someone has to be held responsible it’s neither the poor nor the unemployed. They aren’t responsible for any of it. The capitalists are to blame. They have the power to decide whether to invest or produce. Not only are their fortunes based on the exploitation of workers, they also run the economy irresponsibly because they are blinded by their profit and don’t care the least about the needs of the community.

Such basic problems as housing, caring for the population, caring for the disabled or the elderly will seem intractable as long as workers don’t stick their noses into the affairs of big capitalist companies.

For society to move forward, we must challenge the right of big business to do whatever it pleases with its profits which all workers help make in one way or another. We must expropriate the capitalists and collectively take control of the economy.