IN THIS DOSSIER
(1) The Other Anniversary: Karl Marx Bicentennial — Editorial Workers Tribune
(2) FRANCE: One Year of Macron: Enough Is Enough! — Speech by Daniel Gluckstein on Behalf of the POID at the Closing Rally of the 13 May Demonstration in Paris
(3) Final Declaration of the European Workers Conference (Paris, 12 and 13 May 2018)
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(1) The Other Anniversary: Karl Marx Bicentennial
[Note: Following is the editorial in Issue No. 138 (May 9, 2018) of Tribune des Travailleurs / Workers Tribune, the weekly newspaper of the Democratic Independent Workers Party (POID) of France.]
While some people are celebrating the anniversary of Emmanuel Macron’s election, we can permit ourselves to devote these lines to another date: May 5, which is the bicentennial of the birth of Karl Marx. Is this far from our everyday reality? We shall see. …
Marx wrote that Capital develops by “having the disposal of a definite quantity of other people’s unpaid labor” . What is the Macron government doing — with its executive orders against the Labour Code; its railways pact against recognized job-grades for railworkers; its increase of the CSG  for retirees; and its attacks on the Social Security, healthcare, and public pension systems — if not reducing in every way the share of paid labor received by the wage-earner and boosting the “quantity of other people’s labor” which the capitalist receives “unpaid”?
On May 7, the media gave us a warning: “We, the French, are living on credit regarding the environment.” They said there is an urgent need to reduce our consumption of things, otherwise our future could be compromised. “We, the French” — without any class distinction? Rather, is it not the capitalist system that develops technology “only by sapping the original sources of all wealth – the soil and the laborer” ? It is capitalism, with its unlimited thirst for profit, which is exhausting human labor-power and its environment and is threatening humankind with unprecedented disaster. It is capitalism to which we need to put an end!
But what is capitalism, if not the system of private ownership of the means of production? As far as Marx was concerned, in “every … movement against the existing social and political order of things,” it is important to “bring to the front, as the leading question in each, the property question” . Thus, today the railworkers who are members of the Democratic Independent Workers Party (POID) are fully committed to taking strike action for the withdrawal of the railways pact, just as every POID member is committed to supporting the strike and preventing its isolation.
At the same time, POID members are paying particular attention to explaining that the strike poses the question of ownership, and they are pushing the demand for the return of the railways to a State monopoly, as opposed to the government’s plan to open up the railways to competition. Looking beyond the railways, they are taking a position in every domain in favor of breaking with the diktats of the European Union and the capitalists, for the renationalization of the public services that have been privatized, and for the confiscation of the speculative profits and assets of the banks in order to fund policies that meet the needs of the vast majority.
In a word: they are opening up a political perspective, that of a workers’ government that will implement working-class policies and will not hesitate to achieve this by tackling the system of private ownership of the means of production. It is with this objective in mind that the activists of the POID are proposing to build a working-class party on a class basis. So that “the emancipation of the working classes … can be conquered by the working classes themselves” . — by Daniel Gluckstein
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(1) Marx, Capital, Volume I, Chapter 18.
(2) CSG: supplementary social security contribution.
(3) Karl Marx, Capital, Volume I, Chapter 15.
(4) Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party, Chapter 4.
(5) General Rules of the International Workingmen’s Association (First International), October 1864, drafted by Marx.
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(2) FRANCE: One Year of Macron: Enough Is Enough!—Speech by Daniel Gluckstein on Behalf of the POID at the Closing Rally of the 13 May Demonstration in Paris
[reprinted from Issue No. 139 — May 16, 20018 — of Tribune des Travailleurs / Workers Tribune, weekly newspaper of the Democratic Independent Workers Party (POID) of France]
It wasn’t a sure thing, but we did it. We said that we would demonstrate. We said that we would not let Macron’s first year in power end without thousands of people taking to the streets to say that one year was already too much.
On 7 May, in a documentary shown on [public TV channel] France 3, Macron said: “Versailles is where the Republic took refuge when it was threatened.” No previous President of the Republic, however reactionary, and there have been a lot of those, had dared to say that the Republic took refuge in the Palace of Versailles.
Comrades, we are here today at the entrance to Père-Lachaise Cemetery. In Père-Lachaise Cemetery, there is the Communards’ Wall. One hundred and forty-seven years ago, in the last week of May 1871, the last surviving Communards were put up against that wall and shot. One hundred and forty-seven years ago, the Bloody Week began in Paris, during which 40,000 to 100,000 workers, men, women, children and elderly people were massacred by the troops of the Versailles government. And Macron dares to say that the Republic took refuge in the Palace of Versailles! Vile reaction! The Communards had raised the flag of the Republic, the flag of the Workers’ Republic, the first workers’ republic in history.
Now, we here say, between Versailles and the Paris Commune, between capital and labour, between the players on the CAC 40 stock exchange who rake in more than 100 billion euros in profit every year and the retirees who have tens of euros stolen from them every month (1), the gulf is unbridgeable. And we say clearly: that gulf is class-based. Let no-one try to tell us that the class struggle has disappeared, let no-one try to peddle to us the kind of nonsense we heard during the presidential election campaign. Yes, more than ever, this is class versus class, the working class versus the capitalist class, with the workers and youth on one side and the bosses on the other, the Commune versus Versailles, the red flag versus the tricolour flag.
This is why the party I belong to, the Democratic Independent Workers Party (POID), is called a “workers’ party”; because it doesn’t claim to represent the interests of the whole of society. It speaks on behalf of the interests of the workers in the cities and the countryside, of the unemployed, of those who are documented and those who are not, of the workers in both the public sector and the private sector, of those who are in precarious work, in the interests of all those who have to work to survive and who have no other choice than to sell their labour-power in order to make a living. Comrades, these interests are completely counter to the interests of the bankers, the capitalists, the profiteers and the speculators.
This party is called “democratic” because it represents the interests of the large majority: the interests of the majority means democracy.
It is called “independent” because it is independent of the State and the capitalist class; it is independent of all those who prefer to fund political parties that will act as their puppets.
Comrades, one year ago the POID refused to call for a vote for Macron. Of course, letting Marine Le Pen win was out of the question. But Macron was the candidate for destroying the interests and gains of the working class and the youth. At the time, we said in our newspaper, La Tribune des Travailleurs [Workers’ Tribune]: “You don’t choose between cholera and the plague” One year later, with Macron, we have both cholera and the plague.
People sometimes say to us: you want to get rid of Macron, but who do you want to replace him with?
We reply: nobody. The people don’t need an uncrowned king. The monarchy issue was resolved a long time ago. We don’t need a so-called President who concentrates all power in his hands. What working people need is to take control over their own affairs. They need a sovereign Assembly in which they themselves will decide to sweep out the Fifth Republic and the European Union. Working people don’t need an uncrowned king. They need a Constituent Assembly within which it will be possible to form a workers’ government, a government that will take measures in favour of the workers, a government that will ban lay-offs, that will re-establish a public monopoly of the railways and the postal service, a government that will appoint all the civil servants that are needed in the hospitals and schools, a government that will not hesitate to seize the billions that are held in the coffers of the banks, a government that will establish social justice for the vast majority.
Comrades, will the road to such a government be long, or will it be short? We will not make any predictions. But this demonstration is a step forward. There have been others before. There will be others in the future. You know that the Democratic Independent Workers Party has never spared any effort and will not spare any effort to take action on a united basis with other parties and other organisations of the labour movement when it is about achieving a common goal. And the common goal now is unity to get rid of Macron.
So yes, today we are happy and proud to have listened to all of the comrades who spoke before me, we are happy and proud to note that the patient and determined work carried out month after month by activists of all political tendencies has begun to create links of unity between us all. We are happy to note that everybody spoke freely from this platform, each with their own trade union or political affiliation, but all of us united with the same objective in mind: helping the working class and the youth get rid of this government.
Comrades, this unity is being forged in the class struggle, in the railworkers’ strike, and in the general strike that undoubtedly is coming.
Today, we say: out with Macron the Versaillais and long live the workers’ government of the Paris Commune!
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(1) On 1 January 2018, an increase in supplementary social security contributions (CSG) came into effect, hitting the pockets of eight million retirees.
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(3) European Workers Conference (Paris, 12 and 13 May 2018)
Meeting 25 years after the signing of the Maastricht Treaty, we, workers (1), youth and labour movement activists from Belarus, Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Macedonia, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, the Spanish State, Switzerland and Turkey, meeting in Paris on 12 and 13 May 2018, have responded to the appeal issued by activists from France, Germany and Italy, which said:
“This Europe is not our Europe. As activists for democracy within the labour movement we are internationalists: all the workers of Europe are our class brothers and sisters. We want a Europe that is open to all, both from within the EU’s borders and from outside (…). We want a Europe of the workers and democracy without borders and restrictions, a free alliance of the free peoples and nations and the free workers throughout Europe.”
Having concluded our deliberations, we note the following:
Like all of the workers and peoples of Europe, we desire peace and fraternity between the peoples. But we note that 25 years after the murderous wars that broke up Yugoslavia, once again war is on the agenda. War once again threatens the Balkans. War is being waged by the governments of the big powers and by the European Commission, lining up behind Trump (and his predecessors), in the Middle East and in Africa. War that is responsible for the forced exile of tens of thousands of refugees who are being welcomed with baton-blows and razor wire. War that has led Trump to demand and obtain increases in military budgets equivalent to 2 per cent of countries’ gross domestic product. We say: never again! The peoples of Europe do not want war! They want a Europe of fraternal peace with the peoples of the world!
We desire democracy and the peoples’ right to self-determination. But we note that behind the grand speeches about democracy, the European Union and its institutions have lined up with one voice behind the Spanish monarchy and the Rajoy government, refusing the Catalan people the right to determine their own future and to live in a Republic, which they expressed in the referendum of 1 October 2017. The European Union supports the repression and is condoning the fact that dozens of political prisoners are rotting in Spanish prisons! We say: Respect the peoples’ right to self- determination! Free all the Catalan political prisoners! Cancel all the legal prosecutions and allow the exiles to return!
We desire equal rights and the preservation of working women’s gains. But we are obliged to note that in fact it is in the name of European directives hypocritically calling for “gender equality” that those rights are being ripped to shreds, from the ban on nightwork for women in industry being called into question, via the closing down of day-care centres, to the restriction of maternity leave. We demand the restoration of all of the social and democratic rights of working women!
We desire labour rights for all, especially a guarantee that the younger generations will enjoy all of the rights, gains and benefits won through more than 150 years of class struggle. But the fact is that nobody can deny that in every country of the European Union, and even in other countries through the EU’s Association Agreements, every single right has been put into question one after the other, in the name of the sacrosanct “free and undistorted competition” of the European treaties and in the name of servicing the debt for the benefit of the bankers serving the interests of the capitalist system. This policy has been largely accompanied by the misnamed European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). The privatisation of public enterprises and public services (schools, hospitals, the post office, the railways…), the calling into question of Labour Codes and collective bargaining agreements (and its consequences: the spread of lay-offs and precarious and temporary employment), but also the calling into question of democratic rights, are now the rule in every country where the European directives are being applied. We say: Defend and win back all of the rights and gains won through the class struggle! Renationalise everything that has been privatised! No to the diktats of the treaties and the European directives! Ban lay-offs and precarious and temporary employment! Independence for the labour organisations!
So truly, no, this Europe is not our Europe! It is the Europe of Capital and war. To this Europe of war, of the European treaties and institutions, to this “prison of the peoples”, we counterpose
the Workers’ International and the fight for a Europe of the workers and democracy. We hereby make a commitment to fight against the escalation to war. The task of mobilising the workers against warmongering falls to the workers, the peoples and the labour organisations. We accept this task.
In 2019, European elections will take place. Beyond the legitimate positions and commitments which each person may have in their own country in relation to this choice, for us it will be an opportunity for us to come together once again to say that this Europe is not our Europe, and to advance the cause of a Workers’ Europe.
We propose that in April 2019 we hold a big international rally in Strasbourg, the seat of the European Union’s “Parliament”, where we will give a platform to all those who, like us, say
This Europe is not our Europe! Repeal the European treaties and the European directives! For a Europe of the workers and democracy! Down with war, down with exploitation! For a free union of the peoples and workers of the whole of Europe!
In order to coordinate the exchange of information between us and to maintain our link of labour unity, we hereby constitute ourselves as the European Liaison Committee for a Workers’ Europe.
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(1) Workers, i.e. all those – manual and intellectual wage-earners, unemployed people who have been deprived of a job, both active and retired, young workers in training – who can only make a living by selling their labour-power.
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