Real change can only come from the workers!

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
January 15, 2024

Shopkeepers are familiar with the trick: changing their window display regularly to give the illusion of renewal. The latest cabinet reshuffle is just that.

And the media are loving it! Political columnists have even managed to present the new head of government, Gabriel Attal, who’s been a minister since 2017, as a political newcomer!

Journalists went on for days about the political in-fighting, raved about the meteoric rise of this or that politician. And they of course just loved how Rachida Dati, a Sarkozy loyalist, turned up like a “guest star” as Minister of Culture.

Politicians and journalists are all acting in this comedy – but no-one is laughing any more. The new Minister of Education sends her children to a private school reserved for the rich, as all upper-class ladies do, while harshly criticizing the state­school system – that her political friends have trashed!

It makes no difference whether these politicians come from the left, the right or the far right: they’re all made from the same mould. They all defend the same bourgeois system where capitalists build a little paradise for themselves while workers stay in hell.

In her handover speech, ex-Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said she was leaving with "a sense of duty accomplished". Yes, these politicians feel they've done their duty when they increase the retirement age to 64; attack the rights of the unemployed; ruin the lives of immigrant workers by reducing their rights to family allowance and housing – even if they’re not “illegal aliens”. In other words, attacking workers is accomplishing one’s duty!

When they happen to make a handful of promises to workers, they forget them as soon as they come to power. Remember how they all said, over and over again, that "work must pay"? But to preserve our purchasing power, they would need to index wages to the cost of living – unimaginable!

Food prices have soared by 20% in two years, electricity prices by 40% in one year. Millions of households cannot afford to heat their homes adequately. Thousands of employees have been or are about to be laid off at Casino, Minelli, Naf Naf, Habitat and Lejaby. Since January 1 at least three people have frozen to death because they didn’t have a roof over their heads. And they dare to speak of “duty accomplished”!

If Borne and her team feel they've done their job, it's because they've served the bourgeoisie well. That much is true: business is flourishing as never before. 100 billion euros were redistributed to shareholders this year – a record for the CAC 40 index.

As long as the bourgeoisie dominates the economy, as long as the big companies remain in the hands of the billionaires, it doesn’t matter whether the clan leading the political circus wears the colors of the left, the right or the extreme right, we, the workers, will be exploited and sacrificed.

Our working and living conditions will be under attack. We’ll be doomed to compete with one another – workers against workers, peoples against peoples. We’ll be poisoned by what such competition engenders – individualism, racism, xenophobia. And we’ll go from crisis to crisis, from war to war, giving up our lives to ensure the survival of this unjust, barbaric and stupid order.

Many of us realise that society is heading for the abyss, but many feel powerless in the face of the present avalanche of attacks and horrors. And we will surely remain powerless if we stay isolated and leave the ruling class unchallenged.

History shows that the opposite option is possible: workers can be a force to be reckoned with if they decide to act for themselves, in their own interests, because they are the lifeblood of society as a whole.

Big business and its politicians constantly belittle us to stop us from becoming aware of this collective strength. But without the workers, the bourgeois are nothing – can they even cook a meal for themselves? Without the bourgeoisie and its politicians, the working class would do just fine! It could rid society of the evils of capitalism by abolishing the market and the private ownership of big business.

A different future is possible. What's missing is a revolutionary party that brings together the workers who know they can and must take society into their own hands.

Nathalie Arthaud