Workers Vanguard No. 1026
14 June 2013
Fascist Gang Kills Leftist Youth
For Labor/Immigrant Mobilizations to Crush the Fascists!
The following leaflet was issued by our comrades of the Ligue Trotskyste de France and distributed at a protest demonstration in Paris denouncing the beating death of leftist Clément Méric by fascists.
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JUNE 6—Clément Méric, an 18-year-old political science student and supporter of Action Antifasciste, was killed yesterday by a gang of skinheads apparently linked to Jeunesses Nationalistes Révolutionnaires [the fascist Revolutionary Nationalist Youth] in a shopping district in central Paris at 6 p.m. This crime casts a spotlight on the rise of fascist violence in France over the past year against leftists and homosexuals, which gained new momentum with the reactionary mobilizations against gay marriage. As we said in Le Bolchévik No. 204 (June 2013):
“The fascists are not only beginning to get record vote totals in by-elections, but provocations by paramilitary gangs against homosexuals and leftists have begun to rise exponentially. They must be crushed before they become a credible force that the bourgeoisie can consider as the best alternative available to subdue the working class; all historical experience shows that what is necessary to stop the fascists is not votes, whether for supporters of [Left Party leader Jean-Luc] Mélenchon or for others, but rather labor/immigrant mobilizations, based on the power of the organized proletariat.”
It is urgent for the trade unions and the entire workers movement to take up the defense of their own members and more broadly lead mobilizations that include the oppressed who are threatened by the fascists—homosexuals, immigrants, their children and grandchildren, women, etc.
The rise of fascist terror is a product of the global economic crisis, which is felt particularly acutely in Europe. The crisis impels the different bourgeoisies to wage an even more brutal struggle against their respective working classes in order to restore the rate of profit. In Greece, where the working class is under extreme attack, the fascists of Golden Dawn openly hunt down immigrants on the streets of Athens.
The Franco-German (and Italian-British) interimperialist alliance called the “European Union” is in a profound crisis. The French imperialist bourgeoisie is at an impasse; day after day it continues to lose ground to its rivals, mainly Germany. The chauvinist and protectionist tirades of Arnaud Montebourg [Socialist minister of industrial recovery] legitimize those of Le Pen [leader of the fascist National Front]. The purpose is to rally the French working class behind its own bourgeoisie against rivals in other countries as well as to make the workers accept further sacrifices.
The capitalists and their government are carrying out attacks of unprecedented violence against the working class. There is the ANI [agreement between some unions and the bosses], which means the destruction of entire sections of the labor law that regulates layoffs. The government has also announced a plan attacking pensions that makes those put forward previously by [conservative politicians] Balladur, Fillon and Sarkozy seem like light jabs. And for years now, governments, whether of the left or right, have been escalating their attacks against immigrants and minority youth who are a key component of the proletariat in this country. The working class, meanwhile, has so far been impeded by the union bureaucracies’ support for the popular-front government of the Socialist Party (SP) and Greens. Such support is coated with criticisms in an attempt to push the government a little to the left.
The fascists today are mainly attacking homosexuals, people they consider non-white and open leftists. But their real target is the destruction of the workers movement, including the trade unions. Fascism is the mobilization of the ruined petty bourgeoisie enraged by the crisis of capitalism, targeting not the capitalist system but the working class, the only social force capable of overthrowing this system in its state of advanced decay.
Today, this phenomenon remains relatively marginal in France. The bourgeoisie prefers, if possible, to use parliamentarism and the collaboration of the reformist labor tops to impose its rule. But in the case of a serious threat to its property, the bourgeoisie will not hesitate for a moment to hand over power to the fascist scum in order to break the back of the working class. This was done in Italy in 1922, Germany in 1933. And in France we had [the Nazi collaborator] Pétain.
Fascism is a phenomenon inherent to capitalism. The only way to eradicate it once and for all is to overthrow the whole capitalist system through workers revolution and to extend the revolution internationally. For a Socialist United States of Europe!
The problem is that the French left is opposed to such a perspective. And this is not surprising, given that the Left Party, Communist Party (PCF) and New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) called for a vote for [Socialist president François] Hollande in the last election, while Lutte Ouvrière (LO) left its followers free to vote for Hollande or abstain. The Left Party’s Mélenchon seized on the murder of Clément Méric to demand a strengthening of police action by his former comrade Manuel Valls, the minister of cops. This despite the fact that the explosion of racist police terror orchestrated by Valls against the Roma [Gypsies] and against Islamists directly paved the way for the fascists. The Left Party is calling for the “dissolution of right-wing groups that are escalating their violent acts” (20 Minutes, 6 June). The government has insisted it would proceed “democratically,” according to the law—by which they mean legitimizing laws “against violence” that also threaten the working class. Already, the UMP [Union for a Popular Movement of former president Nicolas Sarkozy] today called for a crackdown against left “extremism” as well. [Since this leaflet was written, SP prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has announced that the government intends to dissolve the Revolutionary Nationalist Youth.]
The 1936 law banning fascist leagues was used in 1937 to ban the Etoile Nord-Africaine (precursor of the Algerian National Liberation Front—FLN) and also in the wake of the May 1968 general strike to ban the predecessors of Lutte Ouvrière and the NPA in June 1968. Any strengthening of the police apparatus will be turned against the working class. The job of the police and the state is not to defend the population against murderers. These are armed bodies of men committed to the defense of the capitalist system. The capitalist “justice” system has, in fact, demanded that all charges be dropped against the cops involved in the deaths of Zyad Benna and Bouna Traoré, which triggered the 2005 revolt in the banlieues [minority and working-class neighborhoods on the outskirts of big cities].
As for the Parisian cops (to mention only them), their forebears carried out the Vel d’Hiv Roundup [of Jews in 1942] and the massacre of hundreds of Algerians in Paris on 17 October 1961. Today banlieue youth are more likely to die from an encounter with the cops than with the fascists, as shown by the trial underway in Villiers-le-Bel. The cop responsible for the deaths of Mouhsin and Lakamy in 2007 was free to attend court while the youth who protested their deaths were locked up and sentenced to up to 15 years. The workers movement must defend banlieue youth against racist terror!
Police and fascists serve the same capitalist masters against the working class, by different methods. In recent months our German comrades have pointed to the interpenetration of the fascists and the cops, with the trial today of the NSU [Underground Nazis] group, which murdered, among others, several Turkish citizens (see Spartakist No. 195, October 2012). Calls on the bourgeois state to take action against the fascists are not only illusory but also suicidal.
The main obstacle to mobilizing the working class lies within it: the reformist leaderships dedicated to the maintenance of capitalism, from the union bureaucracies to the SP and PCF. They sow the illusion that all it takes is to pressure the SP to create some type of “republican front” to stop the fascists. In its leaflet passed out this evening in Paris, the NPA claimed that the answer is “unity against the far right.” They voted for [former right-wing president Jacques] Chirac in 2002 under the same pretext. And now they are trying to save the “unity of the left” that has been damaged by the government’s attacks, at a time of growing anger in the working class against these very attacks.
At bottom, Lutte Ouvrière has the same line of seeking unity with the SP leaders. At its fete last month, LO stated that the fascists’ physical attacks must be repelled clubs in hand. But when the working class is mobilized, what is LO’s policy? During the PSA auto strike in Aulnay, which they led from start to finish, they organized a stunt at the April 13 meeting of the SP’s National Council: Jean-Pierre Mercier, leader of the striking CGT and an LO spokesman, begged the SP honchos in the government to stop betraying the workers and to change their economic policies. He stated that otherwise “we will all pay for it because it would leave the way wide open for the National Front. And that would be a real national catastrophe for the country, a real catastrophe for labor” (see Le Bolchévik No. 204).
It is urgent for the working class to mobilize en masse in the streets to smash the fascist scum. This requires an uncompromising struggle against the politics of the reformists, who deflect the proletariat from this task. We strive to forge a revolutionary leadership of the working class, a party like Lenin’s Bolsheviks, who in 1917 led the working class in making a socialist revolution. For new October Revolutions!