IT was Karl Marx who said that the French would start the revolution, that the British would be inspired to take it further and that the Germans would complete it.
Revolutionary France has played that role throughout modern history. The revolution of 1789 destroyed feudalism throughout Europe as well as inspiring the British trade unions. The revolutionary events in France throughout the 1830s and 40s, up to 1848, inspired the Chartists, while the Paris Commune of 1870 was celebrated by Marx as the first attempt by the working class to take the power.
In this century, the May and June events in 1968 inspired generations of working class youth, and in Britain ushered in the period which culminated with the miners bringing down the Tory government of Heath in 1974, and the scrapping of all of the Tories’ anti-union laws.
Today’s French events – when a whole nation has risen to defend its youth from super exploitation, and bar the way to a bourgeoisie that wishes to pauperise the working class and destroy all of its gains, so that French capital will be on equal terms with the world’s slave labour economies – are profoundly revolutionary.
French workers are saying that if the Fifth Republic cannot give them what they need, then it will be overthrown and replaced by a socialist republic.
The British and German governments are pushing the same policies and will reap the same response from workers who are being inspired by French revolutionary tactics.
On yesterday’s demonstrations throughout Britain, many workers said that one, even massive, one-day strike would not defeat a Blair government that is pledged to smash the Welfare State, including pensions.
The answer to the crisis over pensions is the working class forcing the trade union leaders to call an indefinite general strike of all workers.
We all need jobs, wages, a working NHS and a decent pension, and it is precisely all these things that the Blair government is determined to destroy.
The plain truth is that the Blair government is a bosses’ government.
The working class has to rapidly bring forward a leadership that will organise the general strike to bring down the Blair government, and see to it that it is replaced by a workers’ government that will carry out socialist policies on jobs, wages, pensions, basic rights, and end the war in Iraq.
This means rapidly building up the revolutionary leadership of the Workers Revolutionary Party to see that this is done.
What has begun with the French events is actually the opening rounds of the European Socialist revolution.
Last year, the French workers torpedoed the EU constitution in a referendum, because they were not willing to be pauperised for the benefit of the bankers and capitalists of Europe.
Now, the British workers have joined the struggle to defend their pensions and their Welfare State, and the Germans will shortly be joining it to defend all of their gains made since the early 1950s.
The 1789 French revolution got rid of European feudalism.
Today’s bourgeoisie has proven unable to resolve the contradictions of capitalism that prevent the establishment of a united Europe – in the last analysis, in all cases, the national bourgeois interest raised its head.
The only force that can unite Europe is the working class.
Its socialist victory in the major capitalist states of Europe will open up the way for the introduction of the Socialist United States of Europe, where production will be planned to satisfy people’s needs and not to provide profits for a handful of billionaires.
The French events and the massively powerful one-day strike yesterday in Britain show that the working class has the strength, what it now needs is the necessary leadership.