FRENCH president Emmanuel Macron made his annual New Year address to the nation yesterday calling for ‘unity’ and an end to the ‘hateful’ attacks on elected politicians and the riot police by the mass uprising of workers and youth which has gripped France for the past seven weeks demanding an end to austerity and an end to the rule of the despised Macron.
Macron said that hatefulness was ‘the negation of France’ and that ‘our future depends on our capacity to love each other and to love our nation.’ French workers and youth demonstrating against austerity cuts that are pauperising them will treat his call for ‘unity’, and for them to suddenly love him and his hated CRS riot police, with contempt and derision.
The violence and hatefulness that Macron denounces directly comes from him and the French ruling class whose austerity policies threaten to devastate the lives of working people and their families.
It was the capitalist class that demanded the increase in fuel price that sparked the initial uprising of the Yellow Vests. This soon turned into a general mass movement demanding Macron’s removal, as thousands of workers and students joined the street protests and blockades angered by the attacks on their conditions and wages.
Macron has earned the label of ‘president of the rich’ for his austerity policies that have solely benefited the bosses and the wealthy at the expense of workers. While he was delivering his address denouncing the violence, his government was engaged in mobilising over 147,000 police across France to mete out state violence against any demonstrations.
In the same address, Macron made it clear that these preparations to smash the revolutionary uprising that is gripping France are necessary because he has no intention of holding back on austerity attacks.
He vowed to press on with plans to destroy the rights of workers to legal protection from unfair dismissal, and to carry on with dismantling the French welfare state – starting with cutting unemployment benefits.
In early December, Macron appeared on TV to address the nation and announce that he was ‘listening’ to the masses and that he would make partial concessions, namely putting off fuel tax increases, in order to head off the Yellow Vests movement.
When this failed, and the movement transformed from a single issue protest into a mass movement to remove him and his government, Macron was forced to come out with an open declaration of war against French workers and youth.
It is clear that there can be no compromises as far as the French president and the capitalist class are concerned. With Macron continuously polling the lowest approval rate of any previous president, and universally hated by the overwhelming majority of French people, his declaration of war comes from a position of incredible weakness.
The only force that is keeping Macron in power today is the treacherous refusal of the reformist and Stalinist leadership of the French trade unions to call any action to bring him down. When the Yellow Vests protests first started almost every one of these leaders, including the big Stalinist-led CGT union, brought out a statement condemning the violence of the protesters – without saying a word about the violence of the police.
Only when they came under pressure from their members did the CGT rush out a statement condemning violence on both sides. Since then, these union leaders have done nothing except offer themselves up as willing partners to negotiate some form of ‘truce’ between Macron and the working class. There can be no negotiated settlement between the working class and capitalism today.
The way forward for French workers is to demand these leaders organise an immediate general strike to bring down Macron and advance to a workers government that will expropriate the bosses and bankers or face being kicked out and replaced by a leadership prepared to lead this struggle.
With this mass revolutionary movement spreading across the whole of Europe, the conditions exist to build revolutionary parties of the Fourth International in every country to lead the fight to smash the capitalist EU and bring in the Socialist United States of Europe in 2019.