We saw drones, multitasking robots, military exoskeletons and even a science-fiction-like flying platform on the Champs-Elysées this Sunday. Amazing technological advances transformed into death machines and a good publicity stunt for gun dealers: this is one aspect of France’s traditional July 14 parade. A tribute to the army, all the more inappropriate because when the Bastille was taken on July 14, 1789, the Royal Army was obviously not on the side of the insurgents, but on the contrary opened fire on them!
Macron was out there as the head of France’s military forces but couldn’t get away from being booed by some of the yellow-vest demonstrators. France’s Interior Minister Christophe Castaner and the entire political caste were outraged "on this day when the nation is united". What a joke! In the officials' gallery, just behind Macron, was François de Rugy, the Minister of Ecological Transition, whose reputation was somewhat damaged by revelations about his lifestyle at the state's expense. De Rugy justified his dinners of lobster and fine wines by the need to "stay connected" to society. For these politicians, "society" can be summed up as the small world that revolves around the bourgeoisie they serve and whose methods and lifestyle they imitate. Yes, in this so-called "united nation", there is a social border between the capitalists who these politicians represent and the world of work, whose experience of reality is completely different.
Redundancy plans are announced one after another, blocking the future for thousands of workers and their families. When Conforama's employees expressed their anger during the Central Works Council, management described it as an "aggression". Conforama's workers have successively enriched the billionaires Arnault and Pinault and now the shareholders of the multinational group Steinhoff. But these people feel that the workers should just accept being thrown out and not say a word!
On the very same day, Thursday, July 11, the employees of WN, the company that bought Whirlpool in Amiens, expressed their disgust and anger at the announcement of the company being closed down. After pocketing millions of dollars from the state and Whirlpool, WN, which belongs to the local leader of the boss’s union, is closing down and workers will be going through their second workforce reduction plan in just over a year.
While large groups are announcing layoffs, the reform of unemployment insurance rules is reducing the rights of the unemployed, daring to claim that it is to provide them with a better incentive to return to work. The government is putting even more pressure on all workers to accept no matter what job at no matter what wages and in no matter what conditions.
The government is preparing a pension reform that will be another episode in the war on workers. Delevoye, High Commissioner for Pensions Reform, is due to hand in his homework on July 18, but we already know the main lines. The introduction of a points system will further reduce pensions, as will the introduction of a "penalty" for all those who leave at 62 years of age, the legal retirement age. Also in the spotlight are survivors benefits, which overwhelmingly benefit women, whose pensions are already lower than those of men in most cases.
To increase their margins and profits in a context of crisis and fierce competition, capitalists are lowering workers' living standards by any possible means. They increase exploitation and tax low wages, while the government cuts the public spending that is useful to the working classes, from hospitals to schools and public transport.
Workers have the means to stop this race to the bottom which will destroy the whole of society. It is their exploitation that is at the origin of the bourgeoisie's enrichment, it is their work that produces all the wealth. The government may talk about national unity, but it’s a struggle to the death between two social classes that is at stake! To impose their right to a dignified life and to emancipate the whole of society, workers will have no choice but to fight against capitalist domination over the economy.