In favor of the political rearmament of the working class

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
January 22, 2024

Macron’s 2024 is the year of rearmament: “rearm the economy”, he says, “rearm the state”, “rearm civic duty” and even “rearm demography”! His martial tone is not just for effect. The government wants to prepare the country, particularly young people, for war.

The army is actively preparing for war. It has been recruiting on all fronts since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. It has been multiplying advertisements to attract young people, promising them all kinds of advantages.

Arms dealers are getting ready for war. Macron has said several times that he wants a “war economy”. The French Minister for the Armed Forces, Lecornu, believes that we have almost achieved this. He’s very proud that the production of guns, fighter planes and armored vehicles is accelerating. And is delighted to say that the Dassault plants are now producing three times more Rafale planes than at the start of 2023.

The government is incapable of relaunching housing construction, opening childcare centers or ensuring the presence of doctors and hospital beds throughout the country. The Paris public transport network can’t recruit and train enough staff to provide service at 100%. Many regional train networks are in a state of collapse. But we’ll have plenty of guided missiles and fighter planes!

The government wants to prepare the country for war not only physically but also morally. No war can be fought without the support of the population or without coercion. This is what worries Macron and his staff at present, hence the “rearm civic duty”.

Under the pretext of instilling collective values in young people, they will be taught, in uniform if possible, La Marseillaise, so that they can sing at the top of their lungs – “May impure blood water our fields”. Through Universal National Service, they’ll be taught to respect hierarchy, obey chiefs and love their flag.

But moral lessons are not just for young people. Talks about the need to rediscover a sense of patriotism and of sacrifice are omnipresent. Newspapers and politicians pretentiously wonder: “And what would we do if France were attacked? What individual sacrifices would we be prepared to make?”

On a TV show, former Education Minister, Luc Ferry, voiced his disappointment that “people are no longer ready to die for their country” as they did in 1914-1918 when, he claims, “400,000 youngsters were prepared to die on the Chemin des Dames1 to win a hill from the Germans”!

In reality, the young peasants and factory workers were forced to die there for nothing. In fact, many of them mutinied, refusing to go over the top.

Confronted by this propaganda, let’s remember what Anatole France said in the aftermath of the First World War: “You think you are dying for your country, you are dying for the industrialists.”

Behind every war that our leaders say is justified, there’s a power struggle to divide up riches. This is true in Ukraine as it is in the war waged on Palestine by Israel.

In all these wars, the West takes a stance of impartial arbiter whose only desire is to restore peace and justice when Russia, China and Iran are infected with imperialist madness. How cynical and hypocritical!

To ensure their colonial and then imperialist domination, the U.S., Great Britain and France have never stopped pitting peoples against one another, as they have done in Palestine. They have never stopped drawing artificial borders all over the world, setting up governments who obey them and toppling regimes that they consider uncooperative.

This kind of maneuvering has turned the African continent into a bloody battlefield where those who are not shot risk starvation. That’s what the just and sacrosanct order of the great powers looks like!

The time bombs placed everywhere by the current masters of the world are now threatening to explode under pressure from the crisis and the intensification of capitalist rivalries.

Under threat of a third world war, we, the workers, must rearm ourselves politically. We must be aware that we are under no obligation to serve as cannon fodder in wars that are solely aimed at ensuring the supremacy of this or that capitalist master.

Our own leaders, strong supporters of this barbaric order, are among the warmongers. The war we need to prepare for is the one against them and their domination.

Nathalie Arthaud

1 Le Chemin des Dames: a stretch of road in the Aisne department in the North of France. During the First World War, several battles were fought there, the deadliest being a French offensive in which there were 187,000 French and 163,000 German casualties. The whole offensive was badly organized and the gains were minimal (translator’s note).