Sunday, April 10, 2016

The social uprising continues in France

As predicted last week, in spite of police repression and significant under-reporting by the bourgeois media, the 2016 Spring protests in France continue with much increased strength a week after they began. 

The trigger is the "loi travail" (labor law), which seeks to cut down worker rights to nothingness and get rid of the 35 hour week conquest (also in effect in some other European countries like the Netherlands), taking as unlikely "model" the collapsed economy of Spain, where there are effectively no more labor rights to be scrapped and yet does not recover at all, with unemployment well over 20% (around 50% among young people) and nearly every single new job as precarious as walking over a tight rope. In other words: the consacration of the "precariate".

In such a situation, even if all this began with a symbolic 24 hr general strike, the right to strike is very diminished and the class struggle takes instead the form of street protests (often illegal because human rights are also under heavy institutional attack), square occupations and electoral politics when possible. 

That's how happened in the very authoritarian scenarios of Western Sahara, Tunisia, Egypt, peninsular Arabia and Turkey, but also in the more "liberal" ones of Greece, Spain or the USA. And now also in France, several years later, with renewed vigor. These strong protests, regardless of their success, evidence that repression is useless or nearly so, unless they go the way of Saudi Arabia, i.e. the way of total fascism (and even then it is most unclear how much longer the Arab theocracy can go on without the unavoidable revolution). 

Even if the revolt has been triggered by the labor law, the goal of the protest remains undefined and is clearly much wider, albeit imprecise. The attempt to impose permanent martial law with the pretext of the Islamist terror attacks, for example, has also caused such unease in the Hexagon that it actually failed. There is a very clear and very strong discontent with the falsehood of the "socialist" label in the French Socialist Party (PS), a party that Paul Lafargue, the first ever socialist MP of France, would fight against no doubt. Not in vain Lafargue, Marx' son-in-law, wrote The Right to Be Lazy, demanding a 20 hr week (on average) already a century ago, but also because he was strongly opposed to the reformist (now already markedly reactionary) tendency led by Jaurés.

I don't feel able to synthesize what exactly is going on in France right now, so I suggest that you check #NoitDebout in Twitter (at a rate of a new tweet every few seconds) or read dedicated media like Paris-Luttes (most is in French though). If you know of other resources (maybe one in English?), please let me know.

In Britain also

Although newer and triggered by the Panama Papers, so maybe not fully comparable, there are also important protests in Britain, demanding the resignation of the conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, after it was known he had an account in a tax haven until recently. Obviously it is not the only motivation: his policies are also hated by many Britons, who nevertheless in many cases did not want to vote "labor" because the party was perceived then (before Corbyn's election) as nearly the same thing, allowing the Tories to achieve a strong majority. In real terms the support for Cameron's government is anything but mainstream. 

Both countries share a very poor representation problem, having old-fashioned single district electoral systems, which can hardly be considered "democratic" at all. 

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