Fillon, Le Pen, Macron, Hamon - the great scramble to serve the rich

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
6 February 2017

Fillon’s recent “apologies” made the headlines, but only the utterly naïve will give them any credence. The right wing's candidate for president still considers himself the champion of financial probity in public office. And his program remains based on the sacrifices that he wants to impose on working people. According to Fillon, workers should work harder for lower wages─so that profits can grow. Five hundred thousand public sector jobs should be axed and VAT increased─so that wealth tax can be done away with and corporate social contributions can be lowered. Fillon's whole jobs-for-his-family business is another example of the man's arrogance: like every self-assured bourgeois, his sense of entitlement is so out of proportion that he thinks nothing of adding 1,000,000 euros of taxpayers’ money to his own income─an amount that a worker won’t even make in an entire lifetime. He considers it perfectly normal that workers wear themselves out 48 hours a week right up to the age of 65 so that he and people like him can buy manor houses and luxury watches!

On top of the positions held by his family in Parliament, Fillon found a well-paid non-existent job for his wife on a magazine belonging to Ladreit de Lacharrière. The 100,000 euros handed out by the billionaire publisher were obviously not used to pay Fillon's wife for her non-existent work but to pay Fillon himself for services rendered. Behind his haughty façade, Fillon is nothing but a humble servant catering to the capitalists in exchange for what is really only small change to them.

The other candidates are campaigning around the country. After showing enthusiasm for Fillon, business circles are now infatuated with Macron, who spouts one empty statement after another. But his past as an investment banker speaks for him. Whilst in government, Macron generalized Sunday work and was one of the key figures behind the El Khomri Labor Law. He now wants to lighten wealth tax by doing away with its most important component, the tax on corporate property. The rich are thrilled!

Socialist Party Ministers and leaders are faced with a dilemma: who can best help them gain a seat as a Member of Parliament or perhaps a post as minister? Macron or Hamon? Hamon, whom they criticized heavily two weeks ago, is back to being the apple of their eye after his success in the polls. Capital owners don't see Hamon's promise of a universal basic wage as a threat because he never suggests financing it with the income or fortune of the big bourgeoisie. And he makes it possible for the Socialist Party to come up smelling of roses despite Hollande and Valls’s disastrous record. After five years of an openly right-wing policy in government, the Socialist Party is now leftist again─at least as long as the campaign lasts!

Le Pen has also presented her program. Unsurprisingly, it relies on rabble-rousing techniques against immigrants. Just like her idol, Donald Trump, who continues to increase the number of despicable measures against Mexicans and citizens from Muslim countries in the Middle East, she wants to divide workers.

Le Pen is a member of the bourgeoisie. So is Trump, who has surrounded himself with billionaires in order to govern. He is increasing the number of measures in their favor, like getting rid of the handful of rules imposed on banks after the subprime crisis. Wall Street financiers recognize Trump as one of their own and he is their darling. In order to reassure our very own French capitalists who are closing down factories, laying people off and exploiting workers, Le Pen is pledging loyalty to them. Last weekend, she promised she would maintain the Competitiveness and Job Creation Tax Break and has taken the 200-euro wage increase off her list of promises. The bosses can't stand having to pay compensation for arduous working conditions? Le Pen plans to get rid of it. She claims to be “against the system”, but with an opponent like her, the system has a long life ahead of it!

The workers' opposition to the system must be heard. None of the major candidates, not even Mélenchon, puts the blame on the capitalist system, while the very raison d’être of Nathalie Arthaud’s candidacy is to ensure that workers' demands are heard.

In order to put an end to massive unemployment, layoffs and job-cut plans must be prohibited; and work must be shared among all with no loss of salary.

In order to live decently and to stop the deterioration of living conditions, workers' wages and pensions must be increased by at least 300 euros. No worker should earn less than 1,800 euros net per month.

To stop the small minority from grabbing all the riches and to fight against the misappropriation of funds, workers must impose their own audit of companies.

Those are the demands that workers should strive to put forward. Nathalie Arthaud's ambition is to make them heard. She’s not saying: “Vote for me and I will do this or that”. Her message is: “Vote for me so that workers’ demands can be heard and so that we can prepare to enforce them by our collective struggles”.