Their sickening diversionary tactics to avoid meeting our vital needs

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
June 12, 2023

Once the TV, radio and social media are turned off, what are working women and men most concerned about? Filling up our shopping carts and checking to see how much is left in our bank accounts to pay the bills. The trouble of keeping a stable job and salary and how to stick it out despite pressure from bosses and managers, long hard days and getting physically and mentally worn down. Car trouble or issues with the train service to get to work. Juggling between doctor’s appointments and childcare.

All of these issues were brought to center stage thanks to the strikes and demonstrations against pension reform during which workers spoke out and legitimately expressed their anger as they refused to be sacrificed in the name of profits; during which they rejected policies aimed at lowering wages, pensions, funds for schools and hospitals while major shareholders and the wealthiest get richer.

But now that the strikes and protests are no longer in the political foreground, there’s plenty of room for the government and all sorts of demagogues to create a diversion. And in order to cover up the bosses’ responsibility in price hikes, low wages and the deterioration of society, these demagogues put the blame on… immigration of course!

Macron and interior minister Darmanin are taking up right-wing and far right ideas and policies and have launched yet another immigration bill. Right-wing and far right leaders Ciotti, Le Pen, Zemmour and Maréchal-Le Pen have been trying to outdo them by pushing vile ideas to restrict the rights of asylum-seekers and immigrants.

Édouard Philippe, former prime minister and candidate to potentially succeed Macron, has beaten them all by challenging the 1968 agreement with Algeria and the right to family reunification. Slaveowners who denied slaves the right to medical treatment and to live with their families would have nothing more to add!

This is the sickening context in which a Syrian refugee horribly attacked children on a playground in Annecy. The right and far right used this tragedy to their advantage by encouraging public outrage against Muslims and refugees – even though the likely deranged killer claims to be Christian!

Everything and anything is used as a pretext to make immigration the focus of the political debate. It’s a trap for the workers. It’s a diversion and a way of dividing and weakening the working class.

The economic crisis, the deterioration of public services, the degradation of poor neighborhoods plagued by drug-trafficking, uncivil behavior and insecurity cause people to isolate from others and to reject each other. These are the conditions in which demagogues use immigrants as scapegoats.

We mustn’t fall into the trap of division while the capitalists rob from our pockets by exploiting us and hiking up prices!

With public- and private-sector workers of both French and immigrant origin protesting together against retirement at 64, we demonstrated our unity. That must remain our guiding principle because the bosses of major corporations will be all the more aggressive if part of the working class has fewer rights.

Immigration is an integral part of the working class because there is no guarantee anywhere that those who must work to eat won’t go hungry: they are forced to go wherever they can find work. The bosses take advantage of the situation to make immigrant workers do the hardest, riskiest and poorest paid jobs.

Our Algerian, Tunisian, Romanian and African workmates are not a cost to society. Their muscles and brains make society run through their work on building sites, in factories, retirement homes, hospitals, everywhere.

The capitalists are the ones who are a cost to society. Their social class is a tiny minority which exploits workers around the world and prospers by condemning the vast majority of the population to poverty. This handful of parasites blinded by greed and perpetual economic war are the ones who are driving the economy and all of society into the wall.

In this chaotic society, just like the Ukrainians and Syrians, we too can be transformed into refugees overnight!

So we mustn’t ever forget that our sole enemy is the bourgeoisie which rules over the world. The only way we can overcome the bourgeoisie is by becoming conscious of the fact that we make up a single social class which, as Karl Marx said, has nothing to lose but its chains and a world to win.

Nathalie Arthaud