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From Resistance to Counteroffensive to the Struggle for Workers Power
Focal Point Europe: Capitalism in Crisis,
Class Struggle Erupts

Over the past year, a wave of class struggle has swept across Europe. In country after country, working people are facing devastating attacks on their livelihoods, their past gains, and their futures. And they are fighting back. On December 15, Greece had yet another one-day nationwide strike – its eighth this year. On November 25, more than 3 million workers walked out in the biggest strike in Portugal’s history.  All fall, France was in turmoil as millions of workers and students repeatedly mobilized against the government’s pension “reform,” with numbers and militancy not seen in years. In Ireland, Italy and Spain as well there have been huge marches of hundreds of thousands trade unionists, students and youth. Now in Britain, angry student protests against drastic fee hikes could spark working-class resistance to the government’s program of vicious cuts. But demonstrations in the streets, no matter how massive, have not stopped European governments – whether of the right or “left” – from proceeding with their onslaught. Nor will they in the future, for this is not a matter of pressuring over budget priorities, it is a concerted capitalist assault on the working class. To defeat it, we must go from resistance to a struggle for power.The burning question is how to get there.  Focal Point Europe: Capitalism in Crisis, Class Struggle Erupts  (26 December 2010)

French Battle Over Attack on Pensions Continues
To Drive Out Sarkozy & Co., Fight for Power to the Workers
Build a Workers Party on the Revolutionary Program of Lenin and Trotsky
On October 19, once again some 3.5 million people responded to the call of unions, striking and demonstrating in cities around France in the sixth “day of action” in the last seven weeks protesting the government’s pension “reform.” The two-week-old strike of French refineries and the blockade of fuel depots are beginning to bite as service stations run out of fuel. Despite all the inconvenience, more than two-thirds of the population supports the strikes. But rather than bring strike battle to a head, the reformists (including the so-called “far left”) are looking to electoral politics. The Socialist Party (PS) want to channel the protests into the 2012 elections. Yet if the PS returns to office, French workers will still have to work longer to get the right to retire, just as under Sarkozy. The Communist Party wants a new popular front, while the New Anti-Capitalist Party is calling the protests a movement for the resignation of Sarkozy. To be replaced by what? A new capitalist government. It is possible to bring down a bourgeois regime, especially one as widely hated as this one, but this can only done by driving it out through sharp class struggle leading to a fight for a workers government. Simply replacing one bourgeois government with another anti-working-class regime, even if it is decked out in “left” clothing, is no victory.  To Drive Out Sarkozy & Co., Fight for Power to the Workers (26 October 2010)

Dateline Paris:
Reports on French Worker-Student Upsurge
French Students and Workers Strike
May in October? The Spectre of a New ’68
The Big Obstacle: Pro-Capitalist Union Misleaders and the Now-Reformist “Far Left”

Since the beginning of September, French workers have held six nationwide“days of action,” with huge demonstrations and strikes to protest against the “reform” of pension and retirement rights being pushed through parliament by the conservative government of President Nicolas Sarkozy. In mid-October, there was a significant shift as continuing strikes were called on the railroads and at oil refineries and fuel depots, while hundreds of thousands of secondary students walked out, blockading schools. The government reacted with heavy-handed repression, but the strikes have overwhelming public support. The sight of students and workers in struggle together frightens the French bourgeoisie, recalling the upheaval of May 1968. A general strike until the anti-worker pension bill is withdrawn is called for, but a major obstacle standing in the way is the union leadership, as well as the now not-so-far left. To lead the way toward a new May ’68 that goes all the way to workers revolution, the key is to build a genuinely Leninist-Trotskyist workers party. France: May in October? The Spectre of a New ’68  (18 October 2010)

After the Presidential Elections, A Reactionary Offensive Against Youth and Workers
France Turns Hard to the Right
To Defeat Sarkozy, End Class-Collaborationist Alliances
Out of the most appalling presidential campaign that France has known in a long time, the candidate emerged victorious who most embodied chauvinist electioneering and the employers’ determination to put an end to the threadbare union gains still remaining after almost a quarter century of dismantling the “welfare state.” Nicolas Sarkozy has been installed in the Elysée (France’s presidential palace) in order to proclaim the death of the “French model.” This policy represents a consensus among the French bourgeoisie, and the “socialist” Royal was in fact the candidate of a bourgeois coalition, backed by small capitalist parties. As always, this popular front of class collaboration had the purpose of chaining the working people to a sector of the bourgeoisie.  “Sarko” vs. “Sego” was a contest between two competitors running on the same basic program, and a majority of the voters preferred the original to the copy. If the presidential campaign demonstrated the bankruptcy of the “social-liberal” parliamentary left, it also laid bare the dead-end of a “far left” sunk in popular-frontism.The lesson of the recent presidential elections and of social struggles over the last decade is the urgent and necessary regrouping of orthodox Marxists in an authentically Trotskyist party. France Turns Hard to the Right  (24 May 2007)

Racist Provocation Against Ghetto Youth
France: Workers Mobilize to Beat Back Attack on Youth
For the past two months, French students, youth and labor have been demonstrating in the streets against a new labor law, the “first employment contract,” that would let employers fire young workers without cause for up to two years. This was the answer of the reactionary government of President Chirac and his aristocratic prime minister de Villepin, backed up by France’s hard-line top cop, Sarkozy, to the revolt by ghetto youth last fall. Everyone understands that this is the opening wedge of an attack on an attack job security for all. Millions of protesters have marched in the largest demonstrations since 1968, roads and rail lines have been blocked, the cabinet could fall, yet the reformist left is seeking ... a popular-front election victory next year! This leaflet by the League for the Fourth International calls for a program of transitional demands leading from the present battle to the struggle for workers revolution.  France: Workers Mobilize to Beat Back Attack on the Youth  (25 March 2006)

No New Popular Front of Class Collaboration –
For a Revolutionary-Internationalist Workers Party!

French Government Forced to Back Down on Youth Jobs Laws
After ten weeks of massive demonstrations followed by escalating road and rail blockages, on April 10 French president Jacques Chirac was finally forced to annul the “first job contract” which set off a worker-youth revolt that convulsed the country. It was a heavy blow to the presidential ambitions of Chirac’s anointed successor de Villepin, but the government sought to limit the damage by only withdrawing one article of the egregiously misnamed “equal opportunity” law. The union bureaucrats and reformist party leaders claimed victory, since their real aim was to prepare the way for the 2007 elections. Students vowed to continue the struggle to get rid of the entire youth jobs law. The struggles of youth and workers in France must be joined with those of working people throughout Europe against the police-state measures of their rulers, as part of a struggle to defeat the imperialist war drive.  French Government Forced to Back Down on Youth Jobs Laws  (24 April 2006)

Mass Arrests and New Repressive Laws in France: No Collaboration – Cops Out of the Unions!
Demonstrators Demand: “Free Our Comrades!”
After 3-million-strong nationwide throught France against the youth labor law, students have continued to mobilize. The main demand in this round is to end the repression and free hundreds of youths being held by the police. Almost 4,000 people have been arrested during and after recent marches. Outrageously, reformist union tops have used their marshals to attack “troublemakers in the marches and turn them over to the cops. The response to mounting repression must be to mobilize the working class for a showdown with the ruling class.  Demonstrators Demand: “Free Our Comrades!”  (8 April 2006)

National Front At Forefront of Capitalist Drive Toward “Strong State” in France
Break with the Popular Front! Build a Trotskyist Party to Lead the Struggle for International Workers Revolution!
The presence of Jean-Marie Le Pen, Führer of the National Front (FN), in the run-off round of the French presidential elections stunned France and sent shock waves around Europe.  The reformists, from the Socialist and Communist parties to the “far left,” channeled outrage against the fascists into support for the corrupt conservative president Jacques Chirac. Some call for outlawing the FN under laws that will be (and already have been) used to ban leftist and anti-colonialist parties. Others, including Lutte Ouvrière and the International Communist League pretend that the FN is merely an “electoral party.” This classic social-democratic conception sows deadly illusions. The National Front has a veritable private army, at the core of which are paramilitary units notorious for their racist attacks. In the 1995 FN campaign two immigrant youth were murdered by FN thugs. FN operatives run agencies supplying strikebreakers to French companies and mercenaries for French interests in Africa. The fight against the the drive toward a bonapartist “strong state” requires revolutionary mobilization of the working class to crush the fascists and break with the popular front of war and racism.   National Front at forefront of capitalist drive toward “strong state” in France (8 June 2002)

In Centrist Drift Toward Lutte Ouvrière
How ICL Turns French Fascists Into Ballot-Box Rightists 
For decades the Spartacist tendency/International Communist League (ICL) held that France’s National Front (FN) was fascist. But over the last three years, the ICL has decided that Haider’s FP? in Austria, Fini’s AN in Italy and Le Pen’s FN in France are not fascist but “electoral parties. ” This is the policy of the bourgeoisie, which refers only to “ex-” and “post-”fascists. It is also the position of Lutte Ouvrière (LO), which has long claimed that the FN was just another right-wing party. The ICL’s sudden shift is one of a series of line changes on key questions as it has abandoned Trotskyism for centrist confusionism. Its offer of conditional “critical support” to LO reflected a growing political rapprochement. Neither LO nor the ICL call to defeat the imperialist war, neither call for independence for French and U.S. colonies, both justify a policy of left-talking abstention from the class struggle by blaming the backward consciousness of the workers. This perspective has led LO to play only a marginal role in the major upheavals by the French working class, notably in 1968. This underscores the need to forge an authentic Leninist-Trotskyist party. How ICL turns French fascists into ballot-box rightists (8 June 2002). 

From Hindenberg to Chirac...
French Elections: Beware of Bourgeois “Saviors of the Nation”!
The main argument raised by the Stalinists and social-democrats to convince their ranks to vote for the reactionary Chirac is the refrain of “the Republic in danger.” In calling for a “Republican front” to justify voting for the candidate of the big bosses, they reproduce the reasoning of the German Social Democrats (SPD) who in 1932 called for a vote for Field Marshall von Hindenburg against Hitler. Yet less than a year after von Hindenburg was re-elected president, he brought in the Nazi Führer as prime minister.  A landslide victory for Chirac, the deputy and successor to General De Gaulle, will only feed his bonapartist appetites. Votes for bourgeois “democrats” are no barrier to the fascists, for they ultimately represent the same class interests. To stop Le Pen’s National Front and Hitler’s Nazis it is necessary to mobilize the power of workers to sweep the fascist vermin off the streets, opening the way to proletarian revolution.  French elections: beware of bourgeois ‘saviors of the nation’ (4 May 2002). 

No to Chirac Le Pen! Sweep Away the Fascist Thugs 
May 1! Boycott the Elections May 5! 
France: The Popular Front Opens the Door to Fascist Reaction 
Fight for Workers Revolution! 
Build a Real Leninist-Trotskyist Party!
After the results of the first round of the French presidential elections April 21, with the reactionary Chirac and the fascist Le Pen facing off in a second round May 5, an explosion of anger has swept through the country. Le Pen and his cohorts are not a “current of opinion” but the political front for racist shock troops of reaction who would annihilate immigrants, the left and labor. They must be crushed before it is too late. But all the parties of the popular front of the “plural left” (Socialists, Communists, Greens) and even the tame “far left” are calling directly or indirectly for a a vote for Chirac. The League for the Fourth International warns against this call for a “republican front” against the National Front. Chirac will implement much of the reactionary program of Le Pen. Voting for any candidate of a bourgeois party or class-collaborationist coalition will not stop the fascist menace. It is necessary to mobilize the power of the working class to boycott the electoral circus of the bourgeoisie and sweep away the fascist thugs of capital. Working people, immigrants and youth must say no to Chirac and Le Pen, and break with the reformist social-democrats and pseudo-communists who paved the way for this lurch to the right. France: Popular front paves the way for fascist reaction (26 April 2002) 

From Railroad Workers in 1995 to Immigrants, Truckers in 1996
Workers Struggles Shake Chirac-Juppe Government

France: Workers Struggles Shake Chirac-Juppe Government (January 1997)
To contact the League for the Fourth International or its sections, send an e-mail to: internationalistgroup@msn.com