France

May 1968 was the greatest revolutionary general strike in history. This mighty movement took place at the height of the post-war economic upswing in capitalism. Then, as now, the bourgeois and their apologists were congratulating themselves that revolutions and class struggle were things of the past. Then came the French events of 1968, which seemed to drop like a thunderbolt from a clear blue sky. They took most of the Left completely by surprise, because, they had all written off the European working class as a revolutionary force.

Last Sunday's first round in the French local elections confirmed a widespread shift to the left, with Sarkozy losing significant support. The Socialist Party did well, as did forces that stand to its left. Here we wish to highlight the Marxist candidates standing for the PCF in the area around Toulouse, who significantly boosted the party's vote.

How do you lose £3.7 billion? Down the back of the sofa? Meet Jérôme Kerviel. He lost £3.7 billion of his employer’s money, Société Générale, a French bank. Is it actually a good argument for capitalism that the whole world can be screwed up because of a solitary rogue trader? Is the system really so precarious that one crook can send world financial markets into freefall?

Sarkozy is consciously provoking some of the big battalions of the French labour movement. His strategy is clear: take on the strong sections of the class and, counting on the weak trade union leaders, smash them in order to prepare the ground for an all-out attack on the rest of the class. The stakes are high. With a bold, militant leadership the workers could win.

The legislative elections in France, despite giving a clear majority to the right, also marked the electoral recovery of the left. French society is increasingly divided, and the divisions in parliament will be reflected on the streets one way or another.

For the third consecutive time, the left has lost the presidential elections in France. Their programme did not have one single measure to seriously improve the lot of the victims of capitalism, through which they could have been enthused. This is the editorial of this month’s Marxist paper La Riposte.

The Haute-Garonne federation of the French Young Communists (MJCF - the youth section of the French Communist Party - PCF) elected an entirely new leadership at the end of November. At its federal congress in Toulouse, an overwhelming majority of delegates elected supporters of the Marxist journal La Riposteto lead the federation.

Today, 62 years ago, Paris was liberated from the Nazis in a mass movement from below. "It has been this mass movement of the French workers, peasants and middle class which has forced the retreat of the German army. The culminating point, which has marked the entry of the French masses once again onto the arena of history, was the insurrection of the workers of Paris." We republish Ted Grant's article from 1944, analysing these significant events.

The withdrawal of the CPE is a humiliating defeat for Chirac and the de Villepin government. They came out of this ordeal completely discredited. After the struggle against pension reforms in 2003, against the referendum on the European Constitution, and the revolt of the estates in November last year, the massive mobilisation of youth and workers against the CPE constitutes new evidence that France has entered an era of great social and political instability.

Representatives of the Sindicato de Estudiantes (Students' Union) and the Marxist tendency El Militante, together with several trade unionists, gathered in front of the French embassy in Madrid last week to express their rejection of the serious attack of the Chirac-Villepin-Sarkozy government, which is attempting to impose the CPE on the French youth and workers. See also the Spanish version.

We publish this report on the week of anti-CPE activities in Toulouse. The report explains the methods of the students and workers in their struggle and highlights the need for decisive action on the part of the trade unions to guarantee victory.

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.