The enemies the workers need to fight are their exploiters

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
March 18, 2024

For three weeks now Macron has turned into a war leader. He keeps making speeches, calling for a “wake-up” and “not to be cowards” faced with Putin, who, according to him, has become an existential threat to Ukraine and the whole of Europe.

Why the change of tone? Mainly political calculation. With the European elections just a few months away, Macron is exploiting and exacerbating the climate of war to foster a reflex of national unity around himself, to the detriment of his political opponents.

But war is a reality. It is raging not only in Ukraine but also in Gaza, Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan… The major Western powers are not only involved directly or indirectly in every one of these wars but they are also preparing for a possible confrontation with China.

That’s why we’re being inundated with patriotic propaganda by Macron, the media under his orders, decorated officers and so-called experts in geopolitics who appear continually on TV. “You must be ready to fight for your country” is the message they keep repeating. Some say it’s for “the homeland”. And many claim that there is no greater form of bravery or heroism. The same chorus is heard in every country and every language.

Of course we’re attached to our country, even if it’s just because we live there, have family ties and have built friendships and memories there. But let’s ask ourselves: what do this country and its ruling class do for us, working women and working men?

We produce the wealth of the country we work in, whether we’re laborers, cashiers, employees, home helps, truck drivers… We help to build the country and make it function. But who profits from it? Those who are at the head of the country! The big bourgeoisie profits from it, going from record-breaking profits to record-breaking wealth. Parasitic shareholders and financiers profit from it. For those who get their hands dirty, the country doesn’t guarantee anything: not wages, not jobs worthy of the name. The so called “homeland” gives us no respect, no recognition.

This is as true in France as it is in all countries in this world. How many workers are forced into exile because their country doesn’t allow them the possibility to earn a decent wage or live in security?

Talking of different nationalities – French, Ukrainian, Russian, Algerian, Malian, etc. – is a way of making us forget that, in every country, there are rich and poor, exploiters and exploited. It hides the fact that we are continuously attacked, in our own country, by ever greedier big bosses.

In France, while Putin is being accused of threatening our safety, the big bourgeoisie is stepping up exploitation, restructuring and laying off workers, cutting wages and robbing us with skyrocketing prices. With Macron’s help, the bourgeoisie is digging into state coffers and appropriating billions that should be invested in health and education.

Retirement pensions, payments to the unemployed, healthcare reimbursements1 – the attacks are endless. Maternity and emergency wards are being closed. Schools are understaffed and deteriorating rapidly. And it’s not over because, on top of the 2024 10-billion-euro reduction on public spending, the government is looking to reduce it by another 20 billion in 2025.

The result will be more working poor; more women and men ground down by work and left in poverty, ill and with meager pensions; more working-class areas turned into ghettos and given over to trafficking of all kinds. And we should be ready to defend, fight for and even die for such a country?

Of course we should fight back when we’re attacked. But we’re not suffering attacks from the dictator in the Kremlin. The attacks come from boards of directors in capitalist groups and in the Elysée palace. The bourgeoisie is waging permanent class war against workers and we must fight back.

Nationalism and appeals to patriotism are supposed to make us fall into line behind the capitalists. Let’s not do that! Let’s choose class struggle. Let’s overthrow the exploiting class and seize power!

Only then could we consider the country we live in as “ours”, as a country fit for all its workers, whatever their origins. And there is no doubt that such a country will want to reach out to all those who are exploited in other countries, to overthrow capitalism on a global scale!

Nathalie Arthaud

1 French healthcare functions on a “payment up front” basis, either directly by the patient or through health insurance (public+private) followed by reimbursement. Over the years, the amount reimbursed has diminished considerably.