« Only one must not form the narrow-minded notion that the petty bourgeoisie, on principle, wishes to enforce an egoistic class interest.
It believes, rather, that the special conditions of its emancipation are the general conditions within the frame of which alone modern society can be saved and the class struggle avoided. Nor should one imagine that the democratic representatives are all shopkeepers or enthusiastic champions of shopkeepers.
According to their education and their individual position they may be as far apart as heaven and earth.
What makes them representatives of the petty bourgeoisie is the fact that in their minds they do not get beyond the limits which the latter do not get beyond in life, that they are consequently driven, theoretically, to the same problems and solutions to which material interest and social position drive the latter in practice.
This is, in general, the relationship between the political and literary representatives of a class and the class they represent.’
Karl Marx, 18th Brumaire of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte
The anti-CPE movement could have joined the camp of the revolt launched by popular youth in November 2005. But such was not the case.
The movement refused to regard the State as a tool of the dominant class; it decided to regard it as a neutral intermediary between the government and itself.
In this process where the violence of the « casseurs », described by the cops as « 2/3 leftists, 1/3 young people from the suburbs », was rejected, the door was opened wide with the trade unions, a central element of the apparatus of State for relations between the bourgeoisie and the popular masses.
Some considered that this demonstrated a « union » between the students and the workers, vain hypocrisy!
Because just as the students are the higher social layers of youth, the workers in the public services and teaching are the upper strata of the proletariat.
And the trade unions are precisely dominated by these social layers and their ideology.
These social layers are partisans of evolution, not revolution; they in general want social reforms, not to tackle the bourgeoisie in particular.
Their form of fight is the trade-union fight, dialogue with the bosses, negotiation.
And these social layers do not want a political line, because for them the State is neutral and there is no need for a political line.
So by their function, by their bureaucratic apparatus, their operation, their organisations, the trade unions are thus integrated into the process of negotiations with the dominant class.
As Lenin said:
« The cultivated bourgeoisie are completely willing » to concede « with the workmen the right to strike and of association, provided that the workmen give up the `esprit of rebellion ‘. »
However, the spirit of rebellion is now what we need.
However, nothing is more antiseptic than trade-union demonstrations. It is not for nothing that they take place at the weekend, the workers’ days of rest, and if they pass by large urban arteries and by no means by the popular districts.
They are the expression of alleged « fights », which are in fact the more or less hard negotiations carried out by the leaders, not by the base in a popular movement of social criticism.
The anti-CPE popular movement is today taking this erroneous direction.
One of the consequences of this submission to the traditional forms of « negotiations » was the targeting of the demonstrators themselves by hundreds of adolescents from the suburbs at the demonstration of March 23 in Paris, where on the Place des Invalides the violence was freely given out or was made a pretext for simple bag snatchings.
A second consequence was the always greater oppression of the police, that has taken openly profited by the services of the trade union stewards, notably those of the CGT – of stewards armed with bludgeons, chasing after youth (as one was able to see and the very numerous witness statements and the photos testify).
It completely suffices to look at the numbers: if the demonstrations of March 23 were marked by 632 arrests, on March 28 there were some 787! In all that already makes 2,500 arrests since the beginning of the movement.
Some spoke much about the lack of conscience of many « suburban young people » and their violence going as far as targeting demonstrators, and this is said all the more to clear the trade unions in their new role.
But it is absurd to speak about non-existent conscience, when it is in all an impossibility of correctly expressing revolutionary rage within the framework of a policy of discussion with the State.
Anger shows, but only the revolutionary policy can give a right direction.
A proof of this rise of the revolutionary moment is also the systematic aggression by these « young people of suburbs without political conscience » against journalists, who are very clearly perceived as objective allies of the dominant system and as the targets for anger.
The fact is that the anti-CPE movement must be guided by the masses, by the poorest, in its economic demands and its political direction, this is the only position that moves in the direction of unity and victory.
And that means to dare to assert revolutionary politics!
If that is not done, one objectively gives means to the police force and the RG [secret service / political police] to handle and launch the rage against the movement itself: it is the traditional tactics of the State to use the masses against the masses.
If that is not done one delegates the popular needs to the trade unions, in favour of co administration and the « constructive dialogue ».
If this logic of class is included/understood, how can one for example affirm, as does the CNT (document of March 24, 2006, CNT-RP) that:
« the revolt of the popular districts of last November and the current movement against the CPE testify to the same refusal of youth in the face of precariousness and misery »?
Nothing is more false than to put on the same plane an authentic proletarian rebellion, aiming the State directly, and a peaceful protest of students opposed to their proletarianisation.
That shows that the refusal of the CNT to make political demands prevents it from taking an authentically popular direction, within the framework of the class struggle, where the working class must guide the popular elements of the petit bourgeoisie and not the other way around!
One finds in an exactly similar way such a juggling act with the LCR.
The LCR says:
« In ten months, the country will have undergone three social and political crises: the « No » vote in the referendum [on the European Union constitution], the explosion of the suburbs and, today, this impressive mobilization against the CPE.
Youth, the sensitive veneer of all social contradictions, engulf the country. The majority of the population rejects the government measure. The trade-union organizations call for a new strike day of action, and demonstration » (édito of Red n°2151).
There too one passes from the rebellion of November (where the LCR was under the table) to the CPE, from the CPE to… the trade-union fight.
Throughout the extreme-left indebted to the petit bourgeoisie one finds this general spirit of capitulation as compared to the political need to assert a proletarian ideology and a new, authentically proletarian organization.
The Revolutionary Syndicalist Current, however initially very critical compared to the trade unions, said in a completely voluntarist delirium:
« the pupils, the high-school pupils and the young workers currently in struggle should not turn away from the trade unions. If today the class confederations (CGT, FO, Interdependent) stray it is because we let them stray for many years. We must take up our responsibilities – stick to these trade unions in order to restore to them an anti- capitalist, collective and combative practice. »
CGT metalworkers of the left of the PCF say similarly:
« Most of the militant CGT basic metalworkers remain faithful to these ideals, and are very attached to developing their unionism on anti capitalist class foundations but they are confronted by the reformist choices of certain leaders of the Federation of Metallurgy, that take a right wingline in the politics of the trade union confederation in order to preserve their seats at Montreuil [the CGT centre] …
At the political level, it is necessary to support the struggles by exacting the resignation of a minority, illegitimate government – that makes the choice of violence and repression in order to enforce its measures. » CGT metalworkers of the PRCF [left of the PCF] leaflet
Along the same lines, Lutte Ouvrière:
« Of course, nothing guarantees us that the union confederation leaderships will not be satisfied by making March 28th a last-ditch struggle, leading to an agreement not changing anything a the bottom with the government.
They have accustomed us to sufficient days of action without a future, with enough manouvers to scatter the fights instead of making them converge, so that we have the right of being wary. But precisely, the more the workers stop work on March 28 and take part in the demonstrations, the more it will be difficult for the leaders of the trade-union confederations to turn their back on the fight » (édito Arlette Laguiller, 26/03/2006)
For all these people, the trade union would be at the bottom a form with which one could what one wants – of reformism, as the revolution.
But their submission to the trade unions show well that for them popular youth are the students and that for them the proletariat are the public services workers and teachers.
For this reason these political organizations do not make their political presence felt at trade-union demonstrations, instead letting their militants express themselves in the ranks of their trade unions.
Such is not the position of the authentic Communists.
« We must start from the class criteria to resolve to what masses do we go.
It is very important to make sure that the masses are organized according to the common interests of the classes they belong to.
Chairman Gonzalo teaches us that this approach is essential to combat those who pretend to separate masses from classes with tales of « unity, » betraying the true interests of the masses by trafficking with their struggles.
Also because it allows us to understand that the masses are always an arena of struggle where the bourgeoisie and proletariat clash to lead them.
However, only the Communist Party is capable of leading the masses because it is the only one that can represent them and struggle for their interests. Those who talk about « mass democracy » or who create open mass organisms as if they were a form of Power without violence are merely upholding bourgeois positions that negate the leadership of the proletariat and its dictatorship. » The Mass Line – Communist Party of Peru, 1988
For the PCMLM March 2006