France

The In Defence of Marxism website interviewed Stephen Bouquin, professor of sociology at Amiens university and member of the SNES-Sup union (Syndicat National des Enseignements de Second degré) about the recent events in France.

The movement in France has been building up momentum. There have now been five very successful days of action, each being bigger than the preceding one. The danger now is that the union leaders fall into the trap being prepared by the right-wing government, opening up pointless negotiations aimed at tiring out the workers and youth. There should be no dithering. Organise a 24-hour general strike now!

A massive demonstration marched through the streets of Paris today, April 4, on the national day of action against the hated First Employment Contract introduced by the right-wing government of de Villepin. According to the CGT, more than 700,000 people participated in the demonstration, making it bigger than the one on March 28.

After President Chirac’s intervention and the refusal of the government to back down, the only way to defeat the CPE is for an all out mobilisation of the working class for a 24-hour general strike to bring down the government.

As we reported,French workers and students took to the streets on Tuesday, March 28, in a massive way. The only way the workers and youth can move forward to victory and avoid falling into tiredness and disappointment, is by declaring a proper and effective general strike aimed not only at the withdrawal of the Contrat Première Embauche but also at the unseating of the current government, which has by far overrun its mandate.

Today’s strikes and demonstrations brought over three million workers onto the streets of France, with 700,000 marchers in Paris and 250,000 in Marseille. In the last 60 years, this movement has only been equalled by those of the revolutionary events of May and June 1968. It is provoking serious divisions right at the top of the ruling class, a clear symptom of revolutionary developments.

A new and particularly vicious attack on the basic rights of young workers has led to a spectacular upsurge of protest and struggle in France. Once again, millions of students and workers have taken to the streets to defend their interests against the most reactionary government ever seen in France since the Vichy regime at the time of the Second World War.

The situation in France highlights all the contradictions of European capitalism and clearly indicates where the rest of Europe is going. Here Greg Oxley comments on the situation. Listen to the interview here (mp3 file).

France is in the middle of its second youth revolt in the span of just a few months time. Students and workers all across France are mobilising against the proposed First Employment Contract. A national demonstration will be held this weekend against the proposed legislation, and some 1 to 1.5 million people are expected to turn out. The stage is being set for a decisive battle between the working class and the Villepin government.

On January 28 and 29 a memorial meeting was held at the Institute of Political Studies at Grenoble University to pay homage to the life and works of Pierre Broué, that outstanding Marxist historian and revolutionary. Among the speakers were Alan Woods, Celia Hart and Trotsky’s grandson, Esteban Volkov.

The revolt of the youth on the estates of cities right across France reflects a deep malaise within French society, especially among the most downtrodden layers. You cannot coop up unemployed immigrant youth in the dreary estates on the outskirts of France’s cities, leave them without hope, oppressed and discriminated against, and expect life to continue as normal. This eruption of violent protest is an indication of a wider movement that will affect every layer of French society in the coming period, particularly the working class and its organisations.

Over one million workers and youth participated in the mass demonstrations during the national day of action in France on October 4, in which some 100 000 marched in Paris. This new high point in the recent history of the workers’ movement is a further indication of the explosive social and political situation that exists in France. The day of action, which included public sector strikes, was supported by all the main trade union organisations.

As we announced a few weeks ago, on July 25, Pierre Broué passed away. We have published several articles remembering the role this remarkable man played in the development of the ideas of Marxism. Here we publish a piece by two Italian Marxists that gives an interesting insight into the life of Pierre Broué, based on several long conversations with him in the final years of his life, and on a thorough reading of his works.

English translation of Pierre.

Greg Oxley of the French Marxist journal, La Riposte, pays tribute to the outstanding revolutionary, Pierre Broué.

J'ai connu Pierre il y aura 4O ans dans quelques semaines. J'arrivais à Sciences Politiques Grenoble. Déjà étudiant en économie, venant ici pour tenter de comprendre ma propre histoire, ce professeur m'offrait, de mon point de vue, la meilleure introduction à ce que je venais chercher. Un professeur étonnant. Il n'arrivait pas pour nous lire ce qu'il avait écrit auparavant. Il prenait place devant nous pour un moment de création imtellectuelle. Pour moi, les cours de Broué c'était la pensée vivante en action.