Elections in France under Conditions of a State in Emergency
Down with the racists of Front National! No vote for the reformists Hamon and Mélenchon! Critical support for the NPA and LO candidates! Fight for a new workers party!
By Johannes Moraga, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency, 30.03.2017, www.thecommunists.net
For the past five years Francois Hollande and his Parti socialiste (PS, Socialist Party) has ruled France. Now we are amid new elections. The PS and Hollande utilized their presidency to push for many anti-democratic and anti-social attacks on the workers and oppressed of France as well as for many assaults on various oppressed people abroad. This reactionary policy which put France under the state of emergency until July 2017 (and which might be again extended) repelled many workers who put their naïve hopes into Hollande's leftwing rhetoric at the last elections. As a result they will not vote for the PS and their new candidate Benoit Hamon this time.
Given the lack of a revolutionary party which could have presented a credible alternative to these disillusioned workers, many of them unfortunately looked for another "radical" alternative and hence got caught in the net of racist rightwing populism which was woven by the Marine Le Pen´s Front National (FN). Hence, the FN could become the strongest party in the first round of elections because of the failure of the French left, the economic crisis and the international rise of rightwing populists.
The racist demagogy with which they try to poison the working class is the logical conclusion of French chauvinism and secularism that is promoted by the mass media as well as by the candidates of the capitalists, the conservative François Fillon and the neo-liberal Emmanuel Macron. Clearly, no worker or oppressed with any political understanding about his or her role in the society could give their vote to the candidates of the bosses, Le Pen, Fillon and Macron!
But we can neither support the “social democrats” of the PS who have clearly shown in the last five years that they are neither social nor democratic! However it is an interesting development that a number of top PS-bureaucrats shifted their support to Emmanuel Macron and his new political liberal movement “En Marche!” and not to the rhetorically more leftwing candidate of their own party. Macron owes his popularity also to the lack of support given to the conservatives' madman Fillon who has shown that he is deeply corrupt by “employing” his wife and daughters for basically no work and paying them with taxpayer’s money!
Which road will Europe take?
According to the current polls, it seems likely that Le Pen and Macron will reach the second round in the presidential elections. In such a scenario revolutionaries will support neither of these candidates because they are only different bourgeois sides of the same reactionary coin! This would be a similar scenario like the second round of the French presidential elections in 2002 between Chirac and Le Pen the father or between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the recent US elections. In such situations revolutionaries can’t give any electoral support to either side but call instead for abstention.
However we need to acknowledge that Macron and Le Pen represent different factions in the French capitalist class. A Macron presidency would deepen the project of an imperialist EU state under the hegemony of Germany imperialism with France as a junior partner. A Le Pen presidency, on the other hand, could lead to the end of the EU as we know it! As in the case of the Brexit referendum, workers have no side to take here – instead we need to organize an alternative of working class struggle and international solidarity!
The French left
At the first look Jean-Luc Mélenchon and his La France insoumise (FI, Unsubmissive France) seems to be a reasonable alternative on the ballot paper – but not on the second one! Mélenchon moved rapidly to the right since his last electoral campaign. He did not even consult with the rank and file of his Parti de Gauche but simply founded a new movement directly under his personal control. In addition he and his friends from the “Communist Party” supported the state of emergency and the imperialist occupation in Mali and Central Africa. It is very clear that Mèlenchon is the prototype of a social-imperialist, justifying reactionary imperialist policy with socialist or "unsubmissive" phrases!
The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) calls upon workers and oppressed in France to give their vote to the centrists candidates of the Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (NPA) and the Lutte Ouvrière (LO) – Philippe Poutou and Nathalie Arthaud. Although these parties have serious political weaknesses, they represent significant sectors of the workers vanguard. They will receive the votes of hundreds of thousands of revolutionary workers, youth and oppressed who have been active in the demonstrations in solidarity with Theo who was assaulted and raped by the racist police or in the militant mass protests against the El Khomri law last year.
The RCIT calls upon genuine revolutionaries in France to campaign for the formation of a new workers party. Such a party has to be built as part of a new Workers' International. As a first step we call the rank and file of the NPA and LO to force their leaderships to create a joint electoral platform and to appeal to the supporters of Hamon and Mélenchon for joint struggle. Marxists would advocate a revolutionary platform for such a new workers party. (1)
Revolutionaries must actively fight against the fetishism of the French “left” for the reactionary bourgeois “secularism” which is directed against the rights of the millions of impoverished Muslim migrants. Especially the LO has an infamous history of ignoring the fight against racism and for the liberation of migrants under the economistic pretext that “all workers are equal”. French socialists need to prove that they defend the oppressed full-heartedly and don’t show any arrogance towards them.
It is also important that revolutionaries fight for an authentic socialist perspective for the movement of the workers and oppressed to combat the existing leadership of the working class and especially the trade union bureaucracy.
A revolutionary platform must also include a consistent anti-imperialist stance which not only says “no” to the various assaults of French imperialism on the peoples of Africa and the Middle East, but which is also openly in favor of defeating the French imperialist military machine!
We call upon all revolutionaries in France to work together with the RCIT and to join us in building an international revolutionary organization as a first step towards the creation of a world revolutionary party!
(1) See more at https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/france-theo-protests/; https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/france-el-khomri-law/; https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/articles-on-paris-attacks/