Yellow, red or black: there is still a lot of rage!

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
January 7, 2019

With the New Year, the government was hoping to turn the page on the “yellow vest” movement. Well, bad luck! Despite Macron's minor concessions and the Christmas holiday break, 50,000 yellow vests expressed their anger once again last Saturday. On Sunday, hundreds of female “yellow vest” demonstrators protested again in a festive atmosphere. The movement may be weaker, but it is still capable of taking a wide range of initiatives – which is all for the best, since this protest is both legitimate and encouraging.

So far the government has offered the carrot with, among other things, the promise of a large national debate supposed to lead to solutions. Recently it has also opted for the stick, with several provocations meant to raise the tension. Force was used systematically to evacuate the roundabouts. More and more derogatory terms have been chosen to describe the “yellow vests”. And the government’s latest trick is to pinpoint the clashes that occurred on Saturday across the country, especially the attack against government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux’s office[1], to caricature a movement which is above all the expression of a deep discontent.

Whatever the future of the “yellow vest” movement, discontent can only grow. Because we are in crisis, because more than six million people are unemployed, because capital is greedier and greedier, because inequalities and injustices are more and more revolting.

Today, multi-billionaires are booking tickets for a trip to the moon in 2023. Companies invest tens, hundreds of billions of dollars to respond to this kind of whim – or to fuel speculation, which is even worse. Meanwhile the government says there is no money for saturated hospital emergency rooms, old people’s homes and unhealthy housing!

The whole of society is blocked because capital is concentrated in the hands of a tiny minority and because financial resources are untouchable and therefore unusable for the community. In the name of private property, it is forbidden to control where the money goes. It is forbidden to seize the wealth even though there is an urgent social need to invest in housing, transport, health or education. These riches, created by the collective work of tens of thousands of workers, escape society. That's what needs to change.

The “yellow vest” movement has expressed the desire to better control what the state and elected officials do with the money we pay in taxes. This is legitimate. But to control what the capitalist class does with the wealth created by the working class is just as important.

It is in the hands of this capitalist minority that real power resides. It is the power of Ford or French car manufacturer Peugeot to close a factory, that of Sanofi or Renault to block wages so as to satisfy their shareholders’ avidity. It is the power of Vinci to turn the highways into cash registers, or the power of banks to turn their offices into casino rooms.

A tiny minority alone makes choices that affect society as a whole. True democracy and the "power of the people" will only make sense once this minority is dethroned, when the whole population is able to give their opinion, especially to participate in decisions on how to collectively manage the big companies that dominate the economy.

It is a necessity not only for workers but for the whole population, because, as we can see, the law of profit and competition crushes not only manual and clerical workers but also many small bosses, tradesmen and craftsmen who, however hard they work, do not live better than the average wage-earner.

The future of society is at stake. A world that makes a decent life impossible for those who do not own capital can only be an increasingly barbaric world. And our world is becoming more and more so, with the temptation of individualism and nationalism, with the resurgence of racism and xenophobia.

It is not enough to call for a better distribution of wealth. For there can be no such thing so long as power belongs to the minority that controls these riches. We must collectively take control of the capital of the big capitalist groups by expropriating the bourgeoisie.

To expropriate big business and collectivize the means of production is the only way to completely reorganize production. It is the only way to make sure that the economy no longer serves the selfish interests of a minority, but instead meets the needs of the entire population.

[1]    In Paris, on Saturday 5 January at 4.30 pm, using a mechanical digger, several protesters broke down the door leading to Griveaux’s headquarters. He and his team had to be evacuated.