Statement by the European Bureau of the Revolutionary Communist Internationalist Tendency (RCIT), 2 May 2018, www.thecommunists.net
1. France is shaken to its grounds by the militant strikes of the workers at French Railways (SNCF) and Air France. In addition students took action again the university reforms with some even joining the picket lines of the rail workers in solidarity. A small breeze from May 1968 is blowing into the present, as we mark its 50th Anniversary. The European Bureau of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) fully supports the current protest movements of both the workers and the students.
2. We, as the European Bureau of the RCIT, also state that it is the vanguard of the working class in France (as well as in Europe as such) which must be the one in charge of leading the movement to its success. For this, the class-conscious workers need to learn from past mistakes and implement a revolutionary strategy in order to achieve its goals. Most urgent and important is the slogan: Pour la Grève Générale – Illimitée, militante, multinationale! For the General Strike – indefinite, militant and multinational!
3. The current strikes of the railway workers as well as the workers from Air France are directed against both the neo-liberal government of Emmanuel Macron and the management of SNCF and Air France. The French government wants to implement massive cuts in the pensions and social benefits for public workers while the managements propose ridiculous offers to raise workers wages only by 2%. In addition the university students fight back against plans to change the university admissions rules which would mean closed doors for working class students and students from low-income families as such. It is no surprise that these strikes occur as the neo-liberal Macron government is known to be a government for the big bosses.
4. The hundreds of students who joined the picket lines of the SNCF workers are mainly from Lille, Lyon, Bordeaux and Strasbourg. While it is an important signal of solidarity by the university students, the strike movement as such needs to grow and win other major parts of the working class for a (indefinite) general strike. The vague calls for rubbish collectors and energy sector workers to join the strikes must be turned into an organized mobilization, based on democratically elected strike committees which reach out to other sectors. In addition to the efforts to win other workers, the support of other layers of the society such like the university students must be highly welcome.
5. The solidarity of the university students as well as the solidarity of other layers of the society is welcome. However, it cannot and should not replace the unification of various sectors of our class, the working class in a broad general strike movement. Furthermore it is not the task of the university students to achieve such unification for the workers as the university students will not and should not be the leadership of the general strike movement. Also, the bureaucrats of the labour movement must be challenged as they have shown in the past that they don't act in the interest of the rank-and-file. Instead of the bureaucracy, it is important to form a vivid and militant leadership by the most advanced and talented strike leaders inside of the rank-and-file.
6. The current strike actions of the railway workers as well as the Air France workers have therefore to be based on democratically elected strike committees, which should be nominated by strike assemblies of the workers. The tasks of strike committees should not only be to organize the strike action of the local workers. Moreover they have to coordinate the strike actions of the whole region and nationwide. They have to rally for support by other sectors of the working class, trying to win them to join the strike actions. They have to campaign for solidarity actions by students not only of the universities but also from schools and for the support of the unemployed and the pensioners. Based on recent developments it becomes more than obvious that organizing of self-defence is also a crucial task for such committees.
7. On the 22th March masked men with sticks and bats stormed the student sit-in in Montpellier in order to beat up the protesting students. The university dean as well as one professor were arrested as students recognized them in the group of the masked aggressors. It is highly important to learn the lesson of this albeit small incident, which is: Self-defence, self-defence, self-defence! While the university based fascist group which mobilized against the 50 student small sit-in in Montpellier might not be the most dangerous threat for a militant general strike movement, it is indeed the far right together with the oppression apparatus of the French state, i.e. the police and the military, which will inevitably become a huge physical threat to the workers if they don’t give in.
8. An indefinite general strike is the only possibility to stop the cuts of the pensions, the neo-liberal sell-out of the social system and the education system. However, an indefinite general strike is for the ruling class what the red cloth is for the bull: the start of an unstoppable and bloody rage against the workers. For this the self-defence units of the workers have to prepare themselves to get armed during the ongoing general strike and to be prepared for attacks during their assemblies and protests. Any pacifist illusion during an indefinite general strike means to seriously endanger the safety of all activists of the strike movement and must be avoided! For this, serious debates have to take place and clear decisions have to be made. However, all workers who don't want to participate in self-defence units by themselves should at least support the idea of the self-defence and its democratic implementation.
9. The most important tasks for the current strike movement is to grow nationwide by winning other sectors of the working class; Organize itself democratically via strike assemblies and elected strike committees, of which each and every member can be recalled at any time by democratic means; Prepare to fight back aggressions by far right activists and the repression apparatus of the French state. And: Become as multinational as possible! In Europe and mainly in France the number of Islamophobic and racist attacks in general is increasing. In the same time the working class has a high and rapidly growing share of migrants. This multinational character is a big advantage as it means that numerous experiences from the international class struggle enrich the strike movement and the working class in France. We need to win the support of the militant youth in the banlieues, who have a lot of experience to share. These experiences have to be actively incorporated in the fighting arsenal of our whole class. For this workers with a migrant background have not only to be heard but they also have to play a leading role in the general strike movement!
10. Furthermore the French state is perfectly racist not only in its concrete policy of gentrification but also in its racist attacks against mainly Arab people and/or Muslim people via restrictions of religious rights and brutal deportation practices. Each and every shade of racism inside the general strike movement, even the thinnest one, has to be repulsed by a broad, serious and permanent anti-racist campaign. Such a campaign means also to form structures like a caucus. The same is the case for the struggle against sexism and other forms of oppression. In a broad strike movement every oppressed layer, like migrants, women, youth, LGBT and others should have the possibility to form a caucus supported by all other workers. In addition, the general strike movement has to be led mainly by comrades from the oppressed layers of the working class. They suffer the most by the capitalist systems and have extremely valuable experiences and willpower to contribute.
11. In the end, the general strike movement has to be a political movement and not to limit itself to economic demands. This means that the movement must not repeat the mistakes of the past. Although the working class played a key role in the beginning, the student movement dominated the so-called movement of 1968 by its petty-bourgeois fantasies of creating an alternative universe inside of capitalism. They played a dominant ideological and in the end political role. An even more important lesson is the counterrevolutionary role of the reformist bureaucracy. It was the Stalinist leadership of the PCF (French “Communist” Party) and the CGT trade union which sold out the powerful general strike movement. Today, the danger of a betrayal by the reformist bureaucracy is not smaller. This is why it is crucial that the vanguard of the working class builds a revolutionary party. Armed with such a party, the workers vanguard, in its multinational composition, could lead the general strike movement to victory.
12. In order to move forward without repeating the mistakes of the false reformist and centrist leaderships of the past, an indefinite general strike will need a brave revolutionary force, a party of honest liberation fighters willing to lead the indefinite general strike into an armed uprising of the working class to smash the system of oppression and exploitation, to smash capitalism. We as the RCIT think that such a new workers party should be based on a consistent revolutionary program with an internationalist orientation. We think it should consist of the most experienced and most oppressed elements of our class. We therefore call all workers and oppressed in France to unite now, to fight for an indefinite general strike and to prepare for the building of a new revolutionary party.