I am from the workers' camp

gdunkel at mindspring.com gdunkel at mindspring.com
Thu Apr 18 05:05:07 MDT 2002

I was working on this piece before the NY Times published its article 
on Workers' Struggle.  Since I am busy for the next week, I thought I 
send it off, even though I would like to update it to reflect the actual 

The first round of voting in France's presidential election, held Sunday, 
April 21, will see an impressive number of votes for Workers' 
Struggle (Lutte Ouvrière).  Two smaller Trotskyist parties, the 
Revolutionary Communist League (Ligue communiste revolutionnaire) 
and the Workers Party (Parti des travailleurs) are also running.  The 
French Communist Party (Parti communiste française) according to all 
the polls will not do as well as LO.  The PCF for most of the past 
century has been the major party of the French left, a role often 
reflected in its electoral results.

Most elections in France have two rounds:  the first one, when voters 
can express their convictions, in which a number of candidates run, 
and a second one for the two top vote-getters in the first round.  
Lionel Jospin, the current prime minister, and Jacques Chirac, 
France's current president, will be the two candidates in the second 

Arlette Laguiller, the Workers' Struggle, candidate, has made it clear 
that her party stands for workers and that it is trying to be a Bolshevik 
party.  In her most recent speech at Rennes (http://www.lutte-
ouvriere.org) she said "My camp is that of the workers.  It is my camp 
first of all because I am one, because I worked all my life until I 
reached retirement age. ... But especially by political choice, by a 
militant choice." 

She went on to assert "The primary evil that ravages the world of 
work is unemployment." She outlined how the bourgeoisie benefits 
from it, how it uses it to drive wages down and profits up. With all the 
attacks on the working class,  "there are 6 million people who live 
under the poverty line and 9 million who make less than 640 euros 
(about $500) a month."

Laguiller knows "The ballet box does not replace, cannot replace the 
struggle.  But it permits the struggle to express itself. We can do 
nothing else with a vote, but that's already a lot." It is possible, she 
feels, to "change the relationship of forces between the bosses and the 
workers" but voting won't do it, a wider, deeper struggle is needed, 
one that will shake the ruling class like  1936 or 1968.

Her domestic program involves opening up the books of the banks 
and the big corporations, raising their taxes and the salaries of their 
workers, and the incomes of those in retirement and on wlfare.  She 
wants to prohibit layoffs and stop the state from subsidizing private 
companies, and pushing privatization.

While much of the struggle orientation of LO comes through, there is 
almost no analysis or discussion of the bloody and heroic combat of 
the Palestinian people and only a tepid solidarity with their struggle.  
This is an issue that has brought thousands of people, on both sides of 
the issue, out into the streets of France.

Laguiller says "I hold that the Palestinian people have as much a right 
to a state as the Israeli people.  I insist on denouncing the criminal 
policies of Sharon, a man of the extreme right, as catastrophic for 
Palestinians as well as for Israelis. And then yes, I repeat that I am for 
a radical transformation of the economy and society, for the 
expropriation of big capital.  And to put an end to the domination of 
big capital is the only way to put an end to imperialism."

This position really doesn't make clear even the role of U.S. 
imperialism in funding, supporting and supplying the Israeli regime, 
much less raise the role of French imperialism in the Middle East.  It 
puts the struggle for socialism ahead of the struggle against imperialism.

A long piece in the monthly Lutte de Classe, a publication of  Lutte 
Ouvrière, from December 2001, also available on their website, does 
analyze the role of U.S. imperialism with respect to Israeli, but it also 
fails to mention French imperialism in its section on the Middle East.

This formal statement claims "It is necessary to oppose any attempt 
aimed at clearing French imperialism of its responsibilites by only 
denouncing American imperialism." But this is about the only direct 
mention of French imperialism.

Even in the case of Algeria, where the competition and cooperation of 
the U.S. and French secret services in training the Algerian secrete 
police was widely reported, this position paper only condemns 
imperialism's "absolution of the Algerian military and their repressive 
policies, in particular, in Kabylie." 

Workers' Struggle condemns the French Communist Party for 
attempting to straddle the camp of the workers and the camp of the 
bourgeoisie by joining the current government and solidarizing itself 
with them.  It claims that this posture has "disoriented" the PCF's base 
and its militants and caused its current crisis.  But if Workers' Struggle 
does not challenge French imperialism and point out its role in the 
world, concentrating its fire instead on American imperialism, it will 
wind up in the same position as the PCF.  The French workers who 
support it will be open to supporting French imperialism in its struggle 
against U.S. imperialism and Workers' Struggle will not truly challenge 
the French bourgeoisie.


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