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CRFI Declaration on the youth uprisings in France

by CRFI Monday, Nov. 14, 2005 at 8:29 AM

November 7 Declaration of the Coordinating Committee for the Refoundation of the Fourth International




For two weeks, a huge revolt of the most neglected, humiliated and downtrodden youth of the neighborhoods and ghettos ringing the big cities has shaken France and has profoundly moved Europe and the whole world. The death by electrocution of two youth trying to escape police control was the detonator which exploded the accumulated social resentment of a new generation with no social future under the real conditions of capitalism.

The explosion does not take place in in a suburb of Africa or Latin America, but in the heart of French imperialism and the European Union. After the exhibition of poverty, inequality and misery which took place in New Orleans, the revolt of the youth of France lays bare the social reality of the so-called first world and the content of the social plundering of the so-called globalization. The French imperialist State and its cronies, who saw as minor incidents the mass deaths of families in the recent fires in the miserable hostels on the urban periphery, are now making a big show of “zero tolerance” and state of emergency. During the last few years, however, this same French State has been cutting back social welfare in the popular neighborhoods, with the cynical pretext of the need to not exceed the limits on the budgetary deficit.

The youth revolt has now spread to Belgium and to Germany; the soon-to-be Prime Minister, Romano Prodi, has already warned that a wave of popular rebellion similar to the French one could unleash itself in Italy at any time. The generalized uprising of a vast sector of French adolescents arises at the same moment in which the majority of the European States, like the United States, are facing a crisis of political regime, with the weakest governments of the last two decades in office. The youth uprising is unfolding, then, under the conditions of an overall crisis –social and political– in the principal imperialist States.

It is completely natural that the masses of insurgent youth be composed of descendents of African or Asian immigrants, ‘les noirs et les beurs’, completely demystifying the pretensions of assimilation of capitalist representative democracy. These masses reflect, as is also natural, the hatred of the youth for the overrunning of the nations of the Middle East and North Africa by French and world imperialism; they know what is going on in Palestine and Iraq very well, as well as the fate the Spaniard Zapatero has in store for the Morrocans and Sengalese attempting to get into Europe via Ceuta and Melilla. They are not at all unaware of the tragic fate of the Albanians or Africans that cross the Mediterranean to enter Italy. The youth revolt is a concentrated expression of all the colonial exploitation at the hands of bloodthirsty European capitalism. But it is a fact, which the big press has not been able to hide, that these masses have been joined from the first, and to a greater and greater extent, by unemployed youth having a European background.

The French government has responded to the revolt with repression, which does not prevent its internal irreconcilable differences from showing. President Chirac delayed public appearances for more than a week, an unmistakable sign of political shipwreck. But the repression against what minister Sarkozy calls the youth 'racaille' (scum) only served to deepen the rebellion. The Coordinating Committee for the Refoundation of the Fourth International takes up as its own the expression of a French weekly satirical magazine and calls for struggle to put an end to the ‘Chiracaille’, that is, the government of Chirac, Villepin and Sarkozy. After the No victory in the recent referendum on the European constitution, the youth revolt reminds the working people of France that this imperialist government is something of the past, only capable of staying afloat due to the complicity of the French institutional left and the trade union bureaucracy. At moments in which Marseilles is going through the commotion of a transport strike as well as the struggles of the longshoremen and maritime workers that have still not been resolved, the slogan of unity between the workers and the youth to put an end to the ‘Chiracaille’ takes on impressive timeliness.

The official leaderships of the French left have formed a common front with the government of the ‘Chiracaille’ against what they call the ‘violence’ of the youth. The socialist and communist parties have published communiques calling to “put an end to violence” (“Order must be restored,” says the November 6 communique of the French CP). The organization Lutte Ouvrière characterizes the mass rebellion of the youth as “sterile” and that it finds itself with no way out as a consequence of the reflux of the working class. Since in April of 2002, when the French political regime faced the possibility of a collapse, as a consequence of the electoral defeat of the official party and the socialist party, the left again closes ranks in defense of democracy. The CRFI draws the attention of the advanced workers of Europe to this political sequence, from the crisis of April of 2002 to the present rebellion, passing through the No to the recent referendum, because it puts forward the crisis of the French political regime and the possibility of the fall of the ‘Chiracaille’, which would open up a perspective of power.

The violence of the insurrection of French youth does not have, it is true, the character of revolutionary violence against the capitalist State, or the level of a class struggle of the proletariat against capital. It is the mass violence of a youth lumpenized by capitalism. It directs itself against the institutions of the State, such as the police stations, the police and the municipalities, but also against the belongings of other workers and neighbors, or against community property. But the task of conscious workers in struggle cannot be reduced to characterizing this contradictory violence, to condemning it in the abstract or to assuming its defeat in advance. The task of class conscious workers should be to orient this revolt towards a revolutionary perspective, first of all intervening themselves in the crisis with a clear political position and a precise slogan. It is not about passing judgment on youth, but rather about leading it, through action, to efficient, that is, decisive, struggle. The Coordinating Committee for the Refoundation of the Fourth International calls to defend the insurrection of the dispossessed youth of France through mobilizations, work stoppages and the general strike until those responsible for the repression (minister Sarkozy) resign and the ‘Chiracaille’ falls. We support the partial initiatives of the rank-and-file organizations of the left and of some of their leaders (the LCR) towards demonstrating in defense of the youth and for the resignation of Sarkozy, with the slogan Down with the ‘Chiracaille’, general strike, and for all the demands of the workers in struggle to be met. With this orientation we call for the forming of worker-youth committees in all neighborhoods –that is, to promote the general strike. The worker-youth committees should take charge of the defense of the neighborhoods and the security of the population.

It goes without saying that the way out of the misery suffered by the youth must pass through anti-capitalist action. To assist, socially, the neglected neighborhoods; for the youth to get jobs and in order to put an end to mass unemployment, which affects all the age groups; an overall unified plan of anti-capitalist characteristics is necessary: first of all, to put an end to the subsidies granted to capital and to establish an extraordinary tax on big capitalist profits and personal fortunes, in order to put into movement a program of social public works, under control of the workers, on a scale allowing for the providing of jobs for the whole of the active population.

For nearly two years, the CRFI has pointed out that the crisis of capital puts forward the question of power in Europe, that is, the workers government. The left as a whole, however, has not only ignored this question but is bent in various countries on forming center-left governments to save the State from the political regime crises. This makes them promote the ‘Unione’ in Italy or the government of the 'plural left' in France, which is the case also of the Party of the European Left, presided over by Fausto Bertinotti (which joins together the FCP, Synapsismos of Greece, the ‘Linke’ of Germany, among others), and with vacillations the LCR (Revolutionary Communist League) of France. The generalized uprising of the dispossessed youth of France lays bare the insurmountable limitations of this political solution and its irreconcilable antagonism with the tendency towards misery and social desperation of the European masses as a whole. The CRFI calls to take advantage of the events presently unfolding in France in order to regroup the European combative left and the organized fractions of the most conscious workers into a revolutionary political force having as its strategy the struggle for the United Socialist Sates of Europe (including Russia).

For the general strike of the proletariat and the French youth to put an end to the ‘Chiracaille’.

November 7, 2005

International Secretariat of the Coordinating Committee for the Refoundation of the Fourth International


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Representation? johnk Monday, Nov. 14, 2005 at 5:35 PM

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