France's Hot December - 3
adam at pmel.com
Thu May 23 03:16:54 MDT 1996
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>From adam Fri Apr 19 13:24:22 1996
To: marxism2 at jefferson.village.virginia.edu
Subject: Re: France's Hot December - 3
[ After examining the causes, Chris Harman then looks at the
response of the working class to the attacks outlined
previously. He then attempts to put this response into
a theory of the mass strike, relating it to two "typical"
events, the 1905 mass strike in Russia as analysed by
Rosa Luxembourg, and the 1926 General Strike in Britain,
as analysed by Tony Cliff.]
If Juppe thought that the working class response to his
assault would be small and tokenistic, he was wrong.
On the first day of action, 24/11, there were more than
1/2 million people, which was if anything stronger in the
provinces than in Paris itself.
Events did not follow the previous pattern - "one day affairs
designed merely to force governments and employers to heed
the union bureaucrats. Not only was the railway and
public transport in the Paris region paralysed for the day,
but GENERAL ASSEMBLIES OF WORKERS in the big rail depots
decided to continue their action". [ My capitals ].
Quote after quote from activists and capitalist papers
express this rank + file excitement, the way these
workers assemblies, often based around a rail depot,
formed out of the strike movement, and the consequent
spiralling of that movement. I'd like to include them
all, but I can't.
"By the end of November the railways, the Paris metro and buses,
all the countries majopr sorting offices, and substantial numbers
of telecom, electricity and gas workers were on strike, and were
to stay out for the next 3 weeks." Others workers joined ( teachers
In other parts of the public sector, people would nominally
work except for the twice a week days of action, when they
and many others ( civil servants, dockers, airports, hospitals,
some private sector ) would strike.
There was a contrast between what was happenning at the
rank + file level and at the level of the union leadership.
Towards the end of November, as the movement was growing,
the union leaders started putting the emphasis on a
demo on SUNDAY 17th Decemeber ie 3 WEEKS time.
You have quotes like "you cannot make the strike of the
century every month". And, sections of the Socialist Party
congratulated Nicole Notat, despised leader of the CFDT,
for opposing the movement and supporting Juppes reforms.
This vacillation at the top gave Juppe some hope that he
could just sit things out, although all attempts at strike
breaking or referenda failed miserably.
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