Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

October 20, 2010

Report #2 on the French struggle

Filed under: France,workers — louisproyect @ 9:35 pm

(From Dan K.)

Posted on 10/20

Good news, the oil depots at Donges, near Nantes, are once again blocked by over 500 strikers, most of them dockers, railway workers, teachers and workers from the nearby Donges reffinery. And an additional fuel depot has been blocked near Dunkirk.

More good news, according to the railway companies, less than 10% of freight trains have reached their intended destination this week. “This represents substantive losses for the railways and their clients”.

But France has started importing refined petrol from neighbouring countries. As well as electricity to make up for the 20 000MW decrease in electricity production due both to strikes and to maintenance problems with two nuclear power stations.

In my home town, the 700 riot police, including a SWAT team !, are still guarding the oil depots and have also deployed next to the train station to prevent railway workers from crossing the railway lines and reaching the depots.

Tomorrow, five groups will set up road blocks in various shopping and industrial zones from 4 AM onwards, to try and lure the riot police away from the Z.I.S. Most local unions have called upon their members to join these road blocks and we are expecting yet more re-enforcements from around 2 000 students.

Bad news, the Army has been called in to collect the garbage in MArseille and St Etienne. I kid you not !

Anyway, many workers agree that setting up a General Meeting of all the strikers from every industry at around 12 o’clock every day, to collectively decide on matters of strategy and tactics. Some local union leaders too. But others are quite reticent, and say it is better to keep in touch through an “informal, cell phone based network of comrades” (by which they mean people they know in other unions).

And yes, we have to really start talking about the logical implications of what we’ve been doing over the past six days, i.e. refusing to obey and actively fighting the government and the bosses. Although everybody is saying that the bourgeoisie-backed government is illegitimate, few are actually saying that workers “should” start taking steps towards managing things themselves. At the moment, the aim is to force Sarkozy to back down, and yet we all know that the anger and frustration that is fueling this strike runs far deeper than a simple political exercise.

OK; off to bed.


  1. I wish I completely understood how some right wing hack like Sarkozy could get elected in France in the 1st place, seeings how the workers, that is, the democratic majority, are so class conscious there?

    Somehow I suspect it must be related to imperialist triumphalism in the wake of the Soviet’s collapse, just as was the Panama Invasion, the 1st Gulf War, the bombing of the Serbs, the 2nd Gulf war, and now Obama’s escalation of the AfPak war.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — October 20, 2010 @ 11:14 pm

  2. I wish I completely understood how some right wing hack like Sarkozy could get elected in France in the 1st place, seeings how the workers, that is, the democratic majority, are so class conscious there?

    Sarkozy was elected on the eve of the sub prime crisis, when it was ‘established fact’ that Europe’s social safety nets contributed to high unemployment and weak growth. American-style capitalism was relentlessly promoted as the ‘End of History’.

    3 years seem like a long time in that regard.

    Comment by purple — October 21, 2010 @ 2:22 am

  3. these updates are much appreciated

    Comment by Richard Estes — October 21, 2010 @ 3:29 am

  4. I’d like to slap the snot out of the pompous fuck who came up with that line: “The End Of History.”

    I think it 1st appeared around the time the USSR collapsed.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — October 21, 2010 @ 3:37 am

  5. Yes they really were heady back in 1989, Although on the 20th anniversary attempts to revive that feeling fell rather flat.

    Comment by SGuy — October 21, 2010 @ 5:09 am

  6. Flat is right. Like Hitler knocking over Stalingrad.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — October 21, 2010 @ 5:20 am

  7. Karl Friedrich : How was Sarkozy elected ? Because the left wing electors didn’t vote . Abstentionism was very high . Personnally I didn’t vote in the second row, when the choice was between Sarko and the “Socialist” candidate. Those so-called Socialists have done the same politics as the right wing, just like in Britain or America . Average people get poorer and poorer and money is concentrating in fewer pockets . Socialism is socialisation of production means . Did our “Socialists” turn their back to capitalism ? Did they ask for leaving the EEC ? And today do they ask Sarko to abandon his project and take the money needed from the trusts ? No . That’s why many people are lost, because the supposed workers organisations are led by what I can only call traitors .

    Comment by phildange — October 21, 2010 @ 9:08 am

  8. I was talking about those who were triumphant back in 1989 over the so called final victory of capitalism. Also how in the wake of a probable Third Depression they couldn’t be so triumphant.

    Comment by SGuy — October 21, 2010 @ 10:59 am

  9. Sucks how the working class developes so many traitors while the capitalist class doesn’t. The labor aristocracy corrupts with bigger crumbs from the capitalist feast. Like the USSR being a giant trade union that seized state power, but blockades & sabotage making lines and the bureaucracy being the police club keeping order in the lines. Sad how workers’ gains require so much vigilence but capitalist ones don’t. Class traitors are like prison snitches. If they don’t suffer consequences they flourish.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — October 21, 2010 @ 1:13 pm

  10. In USSR,in 1924 after Lenin’s death,a new cast took the power . Growing through the risks of establishing socialism, which is a tough task, in which the working class has not finished to learn, new parasits took the control, and well the “good life” just for them . Just like our Capitalists. No wonder the ex-aparitchiks of all CPs have become leaders of nationnal Mafias . We have to face a universal human tendancy. People who hope a good life for humanity have to face and to fight this tendancy wherever .
    Stalinism was the negation of socialism, and ended into gangsterism . Since the twenties, all CP organisations have tried their best to prevent any socialist revolution everywhere . I know, you have to read a lot to believe that . Before that, and forever since the 2 French revolutions of 1830 and 1848, since the Great 1789 one too in fact, and even since the English one, when the gentry used the people’s power to achieve its goals and then slaughtered the “Levelers”, what is called now “Social-Democracy” has been a faithful ally of the dominant class . As we still can see from the “Labour” and the Socialist Party in France for example .
    The problem is the same eveywhere . A few people capt an indecent amount of money for nothing, and the mass goes down into misery. The steps of this fall are not the same in every country ( according to their historic conditions ) but the direction and the power are the same .
    In a great confusion ( by the leaders’ fault ), French working class is fighting for more than the retirement system, for more than French working class, we are fighting for humanity in fact . Unless you want a more and more cynical Mafia to control the planet . Hey my Brits friends, what are they doing to you today ?

    Comment by phildange — October 21, 2010 @ 2:11 pm

  11. Karl: It wasn’t working class traitors but petty-bourgeois elements inside the working class organizations that became the ruling bureaucracy. They weren’t “traitors.” They acted in their typical manner: the managers managed.

    The same goes for the union bureaucracy, which is about as working class as Jimmy Hoffa Jr.

    Comment by Jimbal — October 21, 2010 @ 4:26 pm

  12. Whether they are (or were) “working class traitors” or “petty-bourgeois elements” is a question to be debated at the bar during off-hours. Most of us who were involved in the far left here (the U.S.) spent far too much time on those matters in the past. The real question is why they are still calling the shots, including in France and Italy, where they are forced by the militant rank and file, to talk and act somewhat more “radical” than in the UK, let alone, the US, and how are we going to defeat them and remove them so that that the working class can move forward to something better than another Mitterand, Jospain, Royale or Aubry. And that includes the remnants of Stalinist reformism, who as well all know, derailed past revolts in France (and elsewhere) on the express orders of the Soviet bureaycracy.

    Comment by Roy Rollin — October 21, 2010 @ 7:11 pm

  13. The class question is key. The answer is as long as you have petty-bourgeois people in your organizations, and leading them, you will end up with managerial socialism at best and back room deals with the bourgeoisie at worst.

    Comment by Jimbal — October 22, 2010 @ 4:28 am

  14. […] are common on the highways. One participant gives his account here.   He says there’s debate among the rank and file strikers as to whether to seek an “open-ended” strike or instead to have a revolving strike […]

    Pingback by France: Workers and Students « Volatility — October 22, 2010 @ 6:17 am

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