By Anthony Torres and Alex Lantier
The impotence of the demonstrations
organized by the trade unions last spring
against government policy, and
the defeat of the strikes against
plant closures as a result of
the financial crisis, have provoked
a wave of mass opposition to
the trade unions and
political parties in France.
Inside the New Anti-capitalist Party
(NPA), whose leadership refuses
to make any criticism of the CGT
(General Confederation of Labour,
France's largest union, close
to the Communist Party),
some minority factions are attempting
to channel this discontent.
This is the case with the Prometheus
Collective and the Clear Tendency,
connected with the Argentinean PTS
(Socialist Workers Party).
Their position, which reflects above all
the NPA's support for the unions,
is distinguished by its lack of political
perspective and its basic incoherence.
Obsessed by the organisation of trade
union demonstrations, they paradoxically
propose repeating the same type
of initiative that they criticised in the first place.
In its statement "Priority to a fighting
programme of unity," the Prometheus group
criticises the trade unions' January 29
and March 15 days of action: "The 'policy
of unity' of the eight confederations
and their January 5 platform of demands,
after the UMP's symbolic victory
in the European elections, opened wide
the doors for the policies of
the government and the capitalist class."
It adds, "The working class and the youth,
faced with an offensive by
the capitalist class, went into this period
with weak, dispersed organisations
for the most part intending
to collaborate with the president."
This is a reference to the fact that
the unions organised days of action
at long intervals against President
Nicolas Sarkozy's policies, after having
consulted with him and his representatives
on what policy they were going to adopt
in many tripartite meetings and negotiations.
This enabled the unions to sap
the resistance of the workers
in struggle against austerity policies
and the bank rescue packages,
while claiming to be mobilising their forces.
The studied silence kept by the "left" parties
such as the NPA played a central role
in this anti-working class masquerade.
In its September 2009 issue, which contains
a large number of criticisms
of the leadership of the CGT
by union representatives, Clear Tendency
denounces "the abandonment and
treacherous line of the trade unions."
It continues, stating that the union leaderships
"boycotted the demonstration called by
the New Fabris workers July 31
at Châtellerault and refused to support
workers being prosecuted in the courts."
Clear Tendency also criticises
the tribute in the July 30 Nouvel Observateur
paid by NPA leader Alan Krivine
to Maurice Grimaud, the former Paris police chief
during the 1968 strikes. Krivine presented him
as "a good bloke" and "a left republican."
Clear Tendency commented, "
It is more than worrying that Alain Krivine
should strike the pose, like Cohn-Bendit,
of the veteran fighter who knew where
to draw the line. To assert that 'we knew
how far we should not go,' that is to give
the idea that we were the sort of
'reasonable' people that Grimaud could
count on to contain the movement."
Indeed, this is precisely the message
Krivine sends with his praise
for the police: the leadership of the NPA
is on the side of law and order.
These articles, coming from within the NPA,
amount to a devastating admission
about the political orientation of the party.
Struggles have been betrayed, organised
with no perspective of being won,
and workers have been left on their own,
confronted with trade union and political
organisations that were hostile to them.
The old conceptions, advanced by the media,
according to which the CGT is "militant"
and the NPA "revolutionary," were lies
in the service of the bourgeoisie.
On what basis, then, do Prometheus
and Clear Tendency want to construct
a new programme for the workers?
The Prometheus Collective proposes
the creation of "unitary committees" involving
all the organisations—political parties,
trade unions, associations. It proposes
to recycle an old slogan of the NPA
and its predecessor, the Ligue communiste
révolutionnaire (LCR)—"make sackings illegal."
The slogan for "the banning of sackings"
immediately rings false.
No perspective is developed to give
an orientation to workers in a revolutionary
struggle that could impose such
a fundamental constraint on the privileges
of the bourgeoisie and
the prerogatives of the state.
To propose such an initiative in "unitary"
committees, bringing together bourgeois
state parties such as the French
Communist Party (PCF) and the Left Party (PG),
and even the Socialist Party (PS),
Prometheus calls for "unitary collectives
for the illegalisation of sacking (collectives
which must decide on everything,
slogans, documents, material,
the dates of meetings and demonstrations)
and the organisation of a national
demonstration (this to be decided
on collectively)." So, having started off
criticising the political impotence
of trade union days of action,
Prometheus ends up proposing yet another.
As for Clear Tendency, it too proposes
a "national demonstration against sackings,"
pointing out that the NPA leadership
had defended this demand "
in the first quarter." The main proposal
of Clear Tendency is to put forward
the setting up of "an inter-union tendency."
This "should assemble class struggle teams
beyond the different political affiliations"—that is,
representing all the parties.
We glimpse a party impatient with its
own opportunism, which is caught up
in its incoherence—proposing to continue
with trade union pseudo-protests while
at the same time denouncing the effects
of this policy in order to cover
the left flank of the party from the workers.
Workers find themselves in a difficult
political situation, betrayed by the whole
mechanism of the trade unions
and the political parties that have
dominated 20th Century French politics.
What is indispensable for the workers
is the building of a new mass revolutionary
party resolutely hostile to the trade unions
and existing parties, which can give
a perspective to workers in a global
struggle for power.
The struggle for Trotskyism, that is,
for the continuity of the Marxists' revolutionary
struggles, is the essential element
of all working class politics.
Born last February with the call to put
Trotskyism "behind it," which it characterised
as "old-fashioned," the NPA can neither
transform itself into a revolutionary party
nor build one. Even the critics of
the NPA leadership merely propose more
one-off demonstrations, which are
fundamentally in line with the official strategy
of the government: the boosting of
the economy through enormous transfers
of taxpayers' money to the banks and big business.
Prometheus and Clear Tendency's lack
of critical independence in relation
to bourgeois public opinion stands out
in their treatment of the Iranian crisis
after the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
in June 2009.
The defeated candidate, Mirhossein Mousavi,
mobilised the urban middle class in
demonstrations with the backing
of the clerical elite, including Akbar
They wanted to carry out a policy
of liberalisation of the economy and
opening it up to US and EU imperialism,
which is at present occupying
two of Iran's neighbours, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The NPA calls Mousavi "a democrat,"
as does French diplomacy, and claims
that the protest movements are made up
of workers aspiring to democracy.
On this issue, there is no real difference
between the analysis of Prometheus
and Clear Tendency and that of
the NPA and French imperialism.
In a June 24 article, Prometheus condemns
without proof the election
of Ahmadinejad: "The Iranian people go
into the streets to say 'no' to the results,
rigged by the Ahmadinejad clique,
and for its vote to be respected; that is
for respect for democracy,
which is incompatible with the dictatorship."
Prometheus describes Mousavi's movement
thus: "A powerful wave which comes
from afar, a whole people on the streets,
a government which cannot dominate
as before, there we have the ingredients
of a revolution that is beginning."
The fact that this would be "a revolution"
aiming to impose an imperialist yoke
on the Iranian people, surrounded on
all sides by NATO armies,
seems to escape Prometheus.
In its June issue, Clear Tendency even
explains that the pro-Mousavi
movement was "favourable to an
economic opening-up and to the
'normalisation' of relations with
imperialism so as to develop
its own businesses." However, Clear Tendency
proposes that the workers should
participate in this movement,
hoping eventually to spark off
a "self-organisation process" in their workplaces.
As if Total or ExxonMobil, having pillaged
Iraq's oil, would have agreed to share
Iran's resources with the Iranian workers
once Mousavi had negotiated his deals
with the West's governments and corporations!
The Iranian context clearly exposes
the reactionary content of the attempts
to mobilise workers in demonstrations
without perspectives and behind
Having helped Sarkozy's reactionary
reforms in France, the effect of the politics
of Prometheus and Clear Tendency in Iran
would be an even more blatant
capitulation to the interests of imperialism.
Whatever vocabulary—tinged with
Marxist phraseology—is utilised,
these "revolutionaries" are hanging
onto the coattails of the CGT,
the Elysée and the Quai d'Orsay.Link here
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