Energy crisis: the government wants us to obey

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
Monday 5, 2022

The government has spoken: if necessary, there will be two-hour power cuts in the morning or in the evening this winter. This could affect up to four million people. Hospitals, fire stations, police stations and so-called highly sensitive companies will not be affected, or so we've been told. Other companies, schools, transport and telephone access will be.

Is the threat real? Is this pressure from the government to make the population reduce electricity consumption? Could be either… or both.

Whatever it is, the political message is clear: if we make no effort, if we don’t reduce our electricity consumption and lower our heating to 19°C (66°F), then we’ll have no choice in the matter – our electricity will be cut off! That’s what you call leading the population the hard way.

Subservient ministers and journalists keep repeating it: if the EcoWatt signal turns orange, it’s time to consume less. And we must obey.

If we don’t, we’ll be plunged into darkness, be cold, have no telephone access and have to take care of our children because schools will be closed. Here’s hoping we won’t be stuck in a lift or in a gigantic traffic jam because of course there’ll be no traffic lights…

Just like in the health crisis two and a half years ago, the government is calling on everyone to do their bit. And if we’re not willing and don’t make the necessary sacrifices ourselves, they will be imposed on us by the government.

During Covid, we had to follow lockdown orders that were as contradictory as they were absurd, e.g. don’t go out at the weekend but go to work during the week. Anyone who was fined for walking their dog more than one kilometer from home knows all about it. As for healthcare workers who lost their livelihood because they weren’t vaccinated, they are still paying for this heavy-handed policy today.

Despite their health policy being mismanaged and an aberration, the government and prefects are very pleased with their lockdown experiment – the most important thing for them was for the population to obey without rebelling.

This is the foundation of their policies: the working classes are expected to strictly obey their decisions. They’ll soon be telling us how often and when we can use our washing machine every week. They will or won’t authorize us to use the oven or put the heating up a bit, etc.

For the government, it’s business as usual. Its decisions about power cuts will not be based on the concerns or the interests of ordinary people.

The bourgeoisie at the head of major companies is already pleading its cause with the prefects, even with ministers, and the list of companies exempt from the national effort keeps getting longer. It’s pretty obvious that the major companies consuming the most electricity will be protected so they can continue to make their profits.

The working class and ordinary people never get to have their say. They’re the first to be affected by the energy crisis because they’re the first to be hit by the energy price explosion. Plus they’re the ones on the receiving end of all the moral lessons, the calls to civic-mindedness and to sacrifices! In the meantime, the very rich will run their generators at full power and have electricity in their palaces and their usual level of comfort.

The government can indeed say for once that it is planning and organizing! Because it is not capable of planning electricity production to meet the needs of the population, it’s planning power cuts, shortages and rationing.

During the health crisis, there was a shortage of masks, gowns and gloves, but the government regulated the hours that we were allowed to go outside and go out. And that’s how it is for everything.

The government is incapable of ensuring that everyone has a job but it is capable of reducing unemployment benefits and upping retirement age in a very scientific and rational way.

The government is planning a return to the past, to misery and job insecurity. And if they decide to go to war and call for a general mobilization of the young, they’ll give no one the choice.

Only the workers can sort out this chaos: by fighting to impose that the economy and society be organized around the needs of the population.

Nathalie Arthaud