the conspiracy of equals and the birth of communism

Jean Léger examines the history of Gracchus Babeuf and his ‘Conspiracy of Equals’, a communist organisation which emerged during the French Revolution. First appeared as ‘Babeuf et la naissance du communisme ouvrier’ in issue 2 of critical Marxist journal Socialisme ou Barbarie (May-June 1949).

Babeuf was the first example of a militant formulating a coherent socialist doctrine, struggling for a “plebeian” socialist revolution, in his view indispensible for the reorganisation of the economy and society as a whole. These attempts at the first communist party and doctrine are of great importance to us: they allow us to understand how revolutionary thought has developed. They moreover offer the opportunity for a concrete analysis of the link between the revolutionary militant and the working class in a given historical period [1]. Continue reading “the conspiracy of equals and the birth of communism”

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french workers fight for their futures

On 7th and 23rd September there were mass demonstrations across France in protest at planned attacks on pensions. The government wants to increase the retirement age by two years. The cross-union days of action involved as many as 3 million people, and were accompanied with strike action in public transport, municipal services, schools, post and utilities. This article from Rebetiko explains the public anger at the government’s attacks.

“French people’s tolerance of the crisis is over”. Public opinion watchers could make their predictions a few days before the 7th September strike without having to stick their necks out too much.

But this was not without risk of being exploited for a sort of subversive propaganda: the “French people” can be allowed a little moan from time to time, some gaps in that great French value of “tolerance”, but the important thing is that the alarm bells rung by the opinion surveys are quickly calmed with the necessary medicine. A dose of strike action, once every three months. If the symptoms persist, organise a national day of action without a strike call. Continue reading “french workers fight for their futures”

french workers en masse against pension ‘reforms’

by David Broder

Early September in France means la rentrée, not just back to school but also the end of the holidays and no more long evenings in the sun. But in 2010 it also means a return to pitched battles between the right wing government of Nicolas Sarkozy and the working class.

This Saturday l’Humanité, semi-official daily of the French Communist Party, reported on the ‘summer school’ of the MEDEF, a bosses’ federation akin to our ‘own’ CBI. The rhetoric was of Thatcher, and the need to disenfranchise the ‘no longer
useful’ trade unions. Continue reading “french workers en masse against pension ‘reforms’”

two years supporting undocumented workers in france – an assessment

Ahead of our assembly this weekend assessing the impact of the crisis and proletarian self-activity, Yves Coleman, who will be joining us from France, presents an assessment of two years of activity in a Network (Réseau Education sans Frontières, i.e. RESF) supporting undocumented workers and their families

This report has a very personal tone, but as I don’t belong to any political group, I thought it would be easier to write it this way.

1) Initial motives

Professionally I work at home as a translator and proofreader. So my professional milieu is rather restricted and the area I live in is not really politically interesting. As I had only a mainly editorial activity (publishing a magazine and books 3 times a year under the name of Ni patrie ni frontières, see the website and its texts in English), I thought it would be useful to belong to a group engaged in a “mass activity” at grass root level. I chose the 18th district of Paris because it is a working class district with an important proportion of foreign workers of all nationalities, legal or illegal, who have been living there for a long time and have many traditions of resistance. I also chose this district because I had 2 friends already working there in a local RESF group (RESF means Education without frontiers network: it was created 5 years ago by radical teachers and left wing trade unionists : it’s now a nationwide network including around 200 organisations and trade unions, and, what is more important, thousands of non politically organised people). Continue reading “two years supporting undocumented workers in france – an assessment”

recession and solidarity in france

by Ramate Keita

On 7th April workers at Continental tyres charged with damaging the police prefecture where they demonstrated last year appeared at a tribunal in Compiegne. Many activists and delegations joined them to bring solidarity.

After this protest last March six workers were handed suspended prison sentences and fined

Because of the rail strike, we arrived late at this solidarity demonstration.

Continue reading “recession and solidarity in france”

migrant workers’ strike in france

by Antoine Boulangé

6,000 undocumented migrant workers, on strike since 12th October 2009, are bravely continuing their unprecedented struggle against the government in spite of very difficult circumstances.

Their determination is exemplary, faced with a government on the assault – propagating racism and Islamophobia – and a right-wing adding to their list of racist and ‘pro-security’ provocations such as the law against the burqa, the denial of asylum rights to 123 Kurds arrested in Corsica, and racist statements by the ministers for immigration and families. Continue reading “migrant workers’ strike in france”

burn the borders

by the Collective for Solidarity with the accused of Vincennes

On 25th-27th January the Paris High Court will try ten people for the fire at the Vincennes immigrant detention centre. Our solidarity must look at the full measure of the situation: demanding freedom for those on trial, yes, but also freedom of movement and residency.

The largest detention centre in France burnt on June 22nd 2008. From June 2008 to June 2009, some ten former detainees have been arrested and imprisoned – most of them for nearly one year – in preventive jail. They are charged with “damage”, “voluntary destruction of the buildings of the Vincennes administrative detention centre”, and/or “collective aggression against a police officer, without causing incapacity for work for more than eight days”.

Continue reading “burn the borders”