France: terrorism and bourgeois national unity

The following are extracts from the interview conducted by Alejandro Bodart for International Panorama with Wladimir Susanj of the Commune, French section of the ISL.

Good night Alejandro, good night comrades. The October 16 attack on Samuel Paty, a history and geography teacher who was beheaded for showing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to his students, marks a new stage in the political crisis that is shaking this country.

Millions of us have been overwhelmed and shocked by this heinous crime that no ideology can justify. That is why we refuse to align ourselves, as they are trying to force us to do, in the “national union” behind Macron and his government, which we know has no limits on the right. So this government, like that of Sarkozy, like that of Hollande, has been multiplying anti-worker, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim policies for years and continues to enact emergency laws in that sense.

Macron and his government are using this heinous crime to force us to line up behind them. But we do not need a “national unity”. We don’t need Macron to repel the obscurantist monsters who murder. On the contrary: it is by fighting for the strengthening of democratic and social freedoms, by demanding an end to the hunt for immigrants and Muslims, that we will cut the grass under the feet of the barbarians, wherever they are. It is by continuing to defend elementary democratic rights and freedoms before this regime and this government, in a total and indivisible way, that we will achieve this.

Political discourse, comrades, has been free since the assassination of Samuel Paty. A nationalist, chauvinist, racist, xenophobic and Islamophobic political discourse. The President of the Republic, Macron, for once, sets the tone. He, who declares war on the “internal enemies” like his Prime Minister Jean Castex, who also declares that the enemy is there. Comrades, it is not necessary any more for the reactionary right and ultra-right to hurry along this road if it is the main leaders of Nicolas Sarkozy’s party who take up, word for word, the ideological corpus of the extreme right, making a link between immigration, mass immigration, Islam, Islamism and terrorism. If it is up to that party, the Republicans, to invoke the presence of a fifth column in the country: the fact that uncontrolled immigration would be the cause of all our ills or at least the first.

As for the extreme right, like Marine Le Pen, it goes to the end of its logic and actually achieves a form of synthesis of what the political tone is in this country today. She declares that the October 16 attack was an “act of war” and calls for exceptional legislation to be put in place, legislation of war to be able to strike blows against terrorism.

Therefore, comrades, nothing more is needed for this government to express its desire to enact new anti-terrorist laws and new security laws. So, comrades, we know very well, we know from experience, that anti-terrorist laws are quickly used against the workers’ movement and the trade union movement at all times and in all places.

Comrades, this brings us to the situation we know today in France, about which we say that this country is a boiler on the verge of explosion. Some figures, comrades. The situation of the health crisis and the consequences in France are terrible. There have been more than 42,000 deaths since the beginning of the health crisis. That’s a big number. The week of November 3-10, more than 20,000 hospitalizations, including 3,000 in intensive care. Every day, an average of 30,000 new cases of contagion are detected, and for several days now, more than 400 deaths have been recorded every day.

Another figure, comrades, to give you an idea of the reality of the social and economic situation in this country. In the third quarter of 2020, the National Institute of Economic Studies shows that this country experienced a rise of more than 628,000 in the number of unemployed registered without any activity. France today has more than 6.5 million unemployed.

Finally, perhaps one last piece of information to illustrate the situation. A figure that was made public a few days ago, an estimate that shows that more than one million people have fallen into poverty since the beginning of the health crisis. This is a doubling, in a few months, of the number of people living below the poverty line, which in France is estimated at 1,000 euros. A thousand euros a month to live in this country, comrades, is simply impossible.

A last point to also express what is the economic, political and social crisis that this country is going through is the rebellion of small traders, artisans, liberal professions, who, for seven months, have been paying a very high price for the health crisis and the economic crisis. It is a rebellion that is taking place, that gives that part of the petty bourgeoisie that we believe is not turning to the side of big capital and that the needs it expresses, its needs, are in reality the needs that encompass those of all the people.

So, comrades, in conclusion, it is obvious that more than ever the unity of the working class must be achieved and it must not be done at any cost, of course, not at the cost of nationalism and chauvinism, for example, like that of Jean-Luc Mélenchon of France Insumisa. But today it is time to unfurl the flag of socialism and work wherever we are, here too, for the unity of the working class. The ISL, the International Socialist League, has that responsibility. We are working on that. Cordial greetings to all of you, comrades. Take care. See you soon!