Not for Macron, not for Le Pen, for the workers

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
April 18, 2022

It’s remarkable how next Sunday’s election has got Macron and Le Pen worried about what happens to the workers. Only a couple of weeks ago, Macron said he was going to impose a retirement age of 65. Now he’s saying he’s ready to rethink it and make it 64. Le Pen says she’s going to be “socially-minded” and, if she’s president, retirement age will continue to be 60 or maybe 61 or 62.

But, Macron or Le Pen elected, neither will care about what they said during the campaign. Either will govern in the interests of big business whose power resides in its economic domination and is neither elected nor checked by anyone. The whole point of elections is to keep that power hidden by letting every citizen believe that they have a right to vote on what the state does when in fact they are obliged to choose between candidates who are all on the side of the bourgeoisie.

During the five years of his presidency, Macron’s decisions have favored the capitalist class that is now richer than ever. Workers, on the other hand, have paid the consequences of the health crisis with dismissals and short-time work. And today’s skyrocketing prices are making the capitalists even richer and eating away the buying power of the poor, all with the complicity of the government.

Le Pen, who has never governed, would like us to believe she’ll be different. Although she’s an extreme-right-winger, she’s presenting the carefully censored image of a cat-loving single parent. But she didn’t appear out of nowhere. Her political party was started by former military partisans of “French Algeria”, many of whom were members of the Organisation Armée Secrète (literally “armed secret organization”), the fascist organization that carried out hundreds of terrorist attacks and thousands of murders in Algeria and France in the 1960s.

The way that the scores of the extreme right-wing presidential candidates have progressed reflects the growth of their influence on today’s society. The threat doesn’t just come from extreme right-wing groups of varying levels of virulence but also and above all from the state apparatus itself, namely the police and the army.

We need to remember that a petition was published a year ago, signed by retired generals threatening army action to stop what they called “the disintegration that is striking our homeland”. At the time, Marine Le Pen, was quick to send them a letter of support to show that she was on their side.

To believe that Macron would be a barrier to any of this would be a big mistake. If he’s re-elected, he’ll mask the threat of this extreme right-wing ever-present in the state apparatus. He’s certainly not going to touch the army or the police, the main instruments of power.

Nothing good for the workers can come out of the ballot box on Sunday. Once elected, even the so-called left-wing candidates like Mitterrand or Hollande despite their having the support of the Socialist and French Communist parties (parties created long ago by the labour movement), pursued a policy that served the capitalists. So it’s not in the workers’ interest to be divided over a vote in which the two candidates aren’t even hiding the fact that they are servants of an economic system that is based on the exploitation of workers.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, states have begun to rearm and, in the aggravated economic crisis, the capitalist class intends to make the workers pay the bill. Simply defending our standard of living will demand struggles with a clear consciousness of our class interests and of all the threats we are under, including that of a more repressive and tougher government.

No political party or organization exists today that is big enough to make the interests of the working class heard. The objective of the propaganda of the bourgeoisie and its political leaders is to destroy the very idea that the workers, who constitute a social group, could represent a political group that is conscious of its class interests. But the fact remains that workers are a considerable social force. They are the basis for all the production and services that are essential for society to function and they know it. That’s why all hopes are not lost.

And a good thing too because they are the only social class that can confront and overthrow the capitalist class. They are the only force that can offer a different perspective than the chaos and war towards which the current ruling class is driving us.

Nathalie ARTHAUD