A revitalised resistance against the capitalist system is hitting the streets of France, with a new generation of young people leading the way.
The spark for the revolt is the planned El Khomri law – “reforms” like those being wheeled out by capitalist politicians everywhere, which aim to reduce workers’ rights and deliver corporations a more “flexible” and low-cost workforce from which to profit.
When gutless trade unions failed to react strongly to the proposals, people power took over and quickly organised an autonomous wave of struggle which the unions have now been forced to join.
Behind the protests and strikes, which have particularly featured sixth-formers and students facing a lifetime of slavery to industrial capitalism, lies a deeper anger with the system.
The fascistic “state of emergency” brought in by the “Socialist” government on the back of November’s terror attacks in Paris is one of the elements that has been cited.
And the use of these sweeping police powers to try and crush resistance to the new labour laws has only fuelled the outrage and the determination not to give in.
For instance, when students tried to attend a series of campaign meetings at university buildings in Tolbiac, Paris, on Thursday March 17, they found the site had been closed down by the authorities.
When some of them managed to get in and occupy a lecture hall, riot police turned up in force and violently evicted them, kettling people outside and generally acting like the thugs they are.
A first-hand account on the Paris Luttes website says: “In the struggle against this law, and more generally, our efforts to organise and fight are being met with immediate repression and censorship. The closing of premises, riot police on the campus and in workplaces – the state of emergency is dead handy for smashing social movements.
“None of will give in and we will win. There were a lot of us there this evening and there will be even more of us in future. Because in striking hard, both by way of prevention (closing down campuses) and by injuring a number of people during the demo and occupation, this repression will only bring closer together the countless people who are gradually taking to the streets, testing their determination, sharing their activist skills and flexing their muscles as a collective force.
“The El Khomri law is the straw that will break the camel’s back, already overstrained by the state of emergency and the anti-terrorist terrorisation, the Macron law, surveillance laws, the threats of eviction against the ZAD at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, the persecution and racist violence against refugees at Calais and elsewhere and the general manner of the concerted and systematic offensive that capitalism has been waging on our lives for decades. Closed buildings or not, we are going to hold our general assemblies, organise and, we promise, they will get what’s coming to them. All or nothing! This is just the beginning!”
The radicalism of the new youthful protest movement also shines through in another piece, this time on the lundi matin website: “Who could be so stupid as to still want to vote for the left, for the left of the left, or for the left of the left of the left, when we have seen what this led to in Greece last year? A government of the radical left imposing austerity.
“What is being born here has little to do with the labour law. This law is just the tipping point. The one attack too many. Too arrogant, too blatant, too humiliating. The surveillance laws, the Macron law, the state of emergency, the stripping of nationality measures, the anti-terrorist laws, the penal reform project and the labour law all add up to a system. It’s one big project to bring the population to heel. The El Khomri law is just the cherry on the cake.
“Everyone knows that what makes a government retreat is not the number of people on the streets, but their determination. The only thing that will make a government retreat is the spectre of an uprising, the possibility of the loss of total control”.