french and greek voters seek a way out of austerity

Adam Ford on the recent elections in Europe.

Hollande has spoken of his admiration for Greek destroyer-in-chief Papandreou

The financial markets went into a petulant sulk today, in response to the election results in France – where incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy was defeated by his ‘centre-left’ challenger – and in Greece, where two thirds of the electorate voted against avowedly anti-austerity candidates. It seems likely that we will now see some attempt at rebranding austerity – ‘neoliberalism with a human face’ – but this will be nothing more than ‘lipstick on a pig’. The international financial gamblers will allow no let-up in the transfer of wealth from the overwhelming majority to their own decadent and diseased milieu. Continue reading “french and greek voters seek a way out of austerity”

Advertisements

on the desperate struggles in france

A fascinating article from the communisation.net website looks at the practice of kidnapping bosses during strikes in France, and how new means and objectives of struggle fit into the crisis of Fordism.

Introduction

After a short wave at the beginning of the century, instances of proletarians taking their bosses hostage or threatening to blow up their factories reappeared in 2009, and have since become something of a trend. We can now count as many as twenty cases since the beginning of 2010. Continue reading “on the desperate struggles in france”

wild but limited: on what is called the movement “against pension reform” in france

An evaluation, written in late November by the editorial collective of Incendo, on the movement against pension reform in France, which had taken place in the autumn of 2010.  We believe this is published online in English here for the first time.

It was not the October revolution, but nevertheless France has just had one of the most important movements of revolt in recent years. Despite the fact that the strike was really followed in only certain sectors (in refineries, railroads, once more a strike “by proxy”) and despite the relatively low number of workers on strike1 we must take into account the surprising and impressive turnout on the days of demonstrations (whatever we may think of these demonstrations and whatever the demonstrators themselves may think) as well as the determined atmosphere which reigned there. Continue reading “wild but limited: on what is called the movement “against pension reform” in france”

the right-wing offensive in france: sarkozy’s record so far

by Noé le Blanc

Ten years ago, Nicolas Sarkozy seemed to have lost much of his political credit and clout. Indeed, in the late nineties two major political defeats interrupted his previously steady rise among the ranks of French right-wing politicians. First, Sarkozy made the mistake of supporting Edouard Balladur in the 1995 French presidential race. Balladur was running as a right-wing challenger to the more “traditional” candidate of the right, Jacques Chirac, and he failed to make it to the second round of the election, which Chirac ultimately won.

Second, as leader of the RPR (the dominant right-wing party at the time), Sarkozy suffered a humiliating defeat in the 1999 European elections, his party reaping a mere 12% of the votes, less than the right-wing dissident “sovereignist” coalition, a group of (non-Front National) anti-EU politicians. Resigning from his position as head of the RPR, Sarkozy in fact disappeared entirely from the national political scene after this setback. Continue reading “the right-wing offensive in france: sarkozy’s record so far”

rimbaud and the paris commune

Sean Bonney was not impressed by a talk on French poet Arthur Rimbaud and the 1871 revolution in Paris

Last month, the Marx Memorial Library hosted a talk called “Rimbaud and the Paris Commune”, given by the latter-day “decadent” poet Sebastian Hayes. Hayes – whose qualification to talk about the revolutionary aspects of the poetic imagination didn’t amount to much more than having apparently hung out in Paris in 1968 – seemed to know little about Rimbaud, nothing about the Paris Commune and even less about Marx.

The most memorable part of the evening was his suggestion that Marx’s definitive account of the Commune, The Civil War in France was ‘not worth reading’ because it contains ‘too much detail’. It was also surprising to hear his claim that there had been no uprisings in France since 1968: presumably the riots in 2005, or indeed last month’s strikes – still going on while he was speaking – were not ‘poetic’ enough for him. Continue reading “rimbaud and the paris commune”

state repression in france’s pensions struggle

Millions in France have marched and struck against a two-year increase in the retirement age. Nicolas Dessaux looks at the repression of the movement.

Since the start of the movement over pensions, the state has reacted in a highly repressive manner. From the fist demonstrations, the slightest stepping-out-of-line, a single bottle thrown, has led to offensives by CRS (riot cops), tear gas, arrests, fast-track trials and sentences.

First, on 23rd September, workers were arrested in Saint-Nazaire, since when court sentences, dismissals, penalties and threats have rained down on workers who took part in blockade actions. From the start of the movement in the lycées (of high school students), there has been a hail of arrests and punitivemeasures, and many have already been injured. Continue reading “state repression in france’s pensions struggle”

french resistance movement shakes sarkozy

Adam Ford writes on the unrest in France

On Wednesday 20th October UK Chancellor George Osborne launched unprecedented social cuts, as part of the new Coalition government’s Comprehensive Spending Review. Spending was slashed by an average of 19% across all government departments, and unemployment is expected to rise by around a million as a result. That the cuts had been demanded by the same financial institutions that got a trillion pound bailout from the previous government was underscored by confident predictions that UK PLC would now keep its ‘AAA’ credit rating. Meanwhile millions of working class people in Britain and Northern Ireland are today counting the cost, and worrying about their uncertain futures.

But they need only look across the Channel for an example of determined opposition to government austerity measures. France is currently convulsed by a wave of protests, strikes, blockades and occupations, as President Nicolas Sarkozy seeks to implement two year increases in the state pension age. Continue reading “french resistance movement shakes sarkozy”