The working class vs. all the politicians of the bourgeoisie

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
December 20, 2021

In addition to Jean-Luc Mélenchon for Unsubmissive France, Fabien Roussel for the Communist Party and Yannick Jadot for the environmentalists, there are now three more left-wing presidential candidates: Anne Hidalgo, Arnaud Montebourg and Christiane Taubira, and all three have ties with the Socialist Party. Taubira has just announced she’ll be running in the election and is calling for voters to unite behind her.

So, unity on the left is still a long way off, but there’s really nothing to regret about it. We cannot forget that every left-wing government that has ever existed devoutly served the bourgeoisie and was an open enemy of the working class.

In order to get in power, left-wing politicians are quite capable of coming across as anti-capitalists and the Communist Party has often helped them out in their vote-catching masquerade. In 1981, François Mitterrand was elected after campaigning for a “break with capitalism”, a phrase his disciple Mélenchon uses today. In 2012, François Hollande tried to spark enthusiasm by declaring “My enemy is finance”.

And what did all of this come to? To the Mitterrand, Jospin and Hollande governments not only bowing down to the bourgeoisie but also openly attacking the living conditions of the working class through wage freezes, layoffs and mass unemployment, attacks on workers’ rights, the increase in retirement age, privatizations, handouts to company owners and bosses, the closing down of hospital beds...

When in power, the left has helped big business prosper by hitting the working class just as hard as the right. And while far right and right-wing politicians are clearly open enemies of the working class, so are those on the left, with hypocrisy added on top.

So long as the bourgeoisie’s economic situation was safe enough for it to hand out crumbs to the working class, the left could continue perpetuating the myth that its policies were more favorable towards the exploited. With the economic crisis, this illusion has faded away.

But decades of believing that change will come through the ballot has turned workers away from the class struggle and class consciousness. Such illusions have discouraged and disoriented workers and even discredited the socialist and communist ideals which the parties bearing those names claim to uphold. They have led many working-class women and men to completely reject politics and even prepared the way for far-right demagogues.

There’s no use looking for a savior and it’s not a question of finding the right person. There has never been a good president for the workers, and there never will be, because elections can’t change the social order.

Elections change nothing about exploitation or about the fact that the capitalist class dominates the economy and thrives on crushing wages and making working conditions worse. Elections can’t change capitalism, which is all about profits, dividends and stock prices.

The real masters of society are people like Dassault, Peugeot and Bolloré, that is the bourgeoisie, the capitalist dynasties. Politicians, whether they are left-wing or right-wing, all aim to manage the capitalist system. And that condemns them to becoming lackeys to big capital and enemies of the workers.

To defend our interests as workers politically, we need a working-class party, one that doesn’t set out to manage the bourgeoisie’s affairs but one that seeks to overthrow the bourgeoisie. We need a party that is on the side of the workers and their struggles no matter what it costs the bosses. We need a party that asserts that the fate of workers and society in general doesn’t lie in the ballot but depends on the fighting spirit and class consciousness of the working class.

We will have to confront the capitalist class. We will have to force the big bosses to raise wages by 300, 400 or 500 euros a month and to index them on inflation. We must share out the work among all and put the bosses’ accounts under workers’ control. No government will do any of this, but the workers can, through a powerful movement involving millions of women and men.

That’s how we will be able to stop the headlong rush towards underdevelopment, the destruction of the planet, war and the dehumanization of the whole of society.

So, the workers need not try to find some providential man, they need to regain confidence in their own strength. This is why I’m running in these elections: to affirm working-class policies and aims, to support all those who want to change their fate.

Nathalie Arthaud