Workers Vanguard No. 999

30 March 2012


For a Multiethnic Revolutionary Workers Party!

French Elections: No Choice for Workers

MARCH 25—Three days ago, a special police unit killed Mohamed Merah, a 23-year-old Frenchman who, police say, had killed three paratroopers of black and North African origin and four Jewish civilians—three children and a rabbi—near Toulouse in Southern France over the previous eleven days. Reportedly, Merah had been in Afghanistan and claimed to be appalled by the crimes of the French military, which led him to target soldiers. Police say that on the morning of March 19, Merah arrived too late to kill another soldier he had picked out and instead decided to go on a killing spree in front of a Jewish school, an abominable anti-Semitic crime.

This has become a central issue in the campaign leading up to the presidential election, the first round of which is scheduled for April 22. In the likely event that no one gets an absolute majority, there will be a runoff on May 6 between the two top-polling candidates. Ramping up his anti-immigrant “security” pitch, President Nicolas Sarkozy seized on the case to immediately announce new measures targeting primarily Salafist Muslims in France, threatening to jail people who “regularly” consult Web sites declared haram (illicit) by the French government. Sarkozy plans to introduce new legislation that would outlaw “propagating and advocating extremist ideologies.” This is an open threat to criminalize the dissemination of all “forbidden” opinions—a weapon historically wielded by capitalist governments against the left and the workers movement.

The “war on terror” is currently being used primarily against Muslims, but all opponents of the racist capitalist system, and ultimately the multiracial working class, are targeted. In this heightened atmosphere of racist witchhunt, dark-skinned youth in the heavily immigrant ghettos of the suburbs (banlieues) who are suspected of having Muslim backgrounds will be targeted more than ever for daily state repression. Down with the racist “war on terror”! The workers movement must defend banlieue youth!

The Toulouse killings have been an opportunity for the various candidates, including those on the left, to stand by the President in a despicable show of “national unity.” Green candidate (and former judge) Eva Joly, along with Socialist Party (SP) hopeful François Hollande, joined the fascist Marine Le Pen at the memorial service for the paratroopers, where Sarkozy himself delivered the eulogy. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the candidate of the Left Front (mainly composed of the Communist Party and a split from Hollande’s SP), rushed to “congratulate” the cops for the extra-judicial killing of Merah. Mélenchon seized the opportunity to promote his program for hiring more National Police, which he terms a “public service.” The candidate of Lutte Ouvrière (LO), Nathalie Arthaud, claimed to not partake of the “national unity” hype. However, its initial statement on the anti-Semitic crimes in Toulouse and the killing of the French elite forces stationed in nearby Montauban, a March 20 declaration by Arthaud, was published in Lutte Ouvrière (23 March) with the headline: “The Killings in Montauban and Toulouse: Odious Acts.”

For Marxists there is a distinction between the slaying of Jewish children and a teacher on the one hand and the killing of soldiers from the elite paratrooper units, which have a long history of murderous terror on behalf of French imperialism from Algeria to Afghanistan and Indochina, on the other. The second is not a crime from the standpoint of the working class. But such individual terrorist acts are an obstacle to mobilizing the collective struggle of a politically conscious working class against the capitalist system. One thing is certain: the killings will bring fierce repression down on the heads of minorities and others in the state’s crosshairs. Down with the Vigipirate campaign of racist cop terror! U.S./French/NATO troops out of Afghanistan!

The following excerpted article is translated from Le Bolchévik No. 199 (March 2012), newspaper of the Ligue Trotskyste de France, section of the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist). The LTF explained in its article that “the President of the Republic is the chief executive, that is to say, the executive director of the capitalist state, chief advocate for the interests of the capitalists as a whole.” As the comrades wrote, as Marxist revolutionaries, we refuse in principle to hold executive positions in the capitalist state—president, governor or mayor. From the same standpoint, we refuse to run for such offices, since doing so would only give legitimacy to the reformist notion that a “revolutionary” at the head of the state could advance the interests of the working class.

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Marxists may consider giving critical support to another organization, even in presidential elections, when doing so can in some way raise the class consciousness of the proletariat. But in this election, there is no one to whom Marxists can even contemplate giving critical support because all the candidates who in any way claim to represent the labor movement are at best a left cover for the SP candidacy, thereby helping to sow illusions in the “change” that it would supposedly bring.

The SP candidate, François Hollande, simply promises to pursue the same policies as Nicolas Sarkozy, but without the “bling-bling” (hobnobbing with the rich and famous). Hollande launched his campaign, in the January 26 televised debate, by declaring his opposition to a “windshield wipers” policy—in other words, Hollande will not sweep away the anti-working-class measures that have been enacted during the ten years of right-wing rule. Hollande promises to deprive of a full pension all those who have not actually worked for at least 41 years.

An entire section of the bourgeoisie is irritated by Sarkozy—not so much because of his nouveau riche vulgarity but because he has not fulfilled his promise to break the labor movement and dramatically increase the capitalists’ rate of profit. Since French imperialism continues to lose ground against its German rival, it is imperative that its next Commander-in-Chief carry out even more radical attacks against the working class and the oppressed. For the capitalists, Hollande would have the advantage of receiving the support of the union bureaucrats, whom he promised to “consult” and soft-soap as “social partners” in leading French imperialism. No vote for François Hollande!

Hollande has also promised a “relentless” fight against undocumented immigrants. The “solution” he promised for the Roma (Gypsies) is putting them in “camps” to “avoid this constant moving around” (Le Monde, 18 February). Meanwhile, he promised to hire more cops, criticizing Sarkozy from the right for insufficient results in maintaining “law and order.” He promised to hire 60,000 teachers—thereby perpetuating a third of the 90,000 job cuts made in education by the right-wing government in recent years—by eliminating jobs in other areas of the public sector.

While Hollande has promised to withdraw French troops from Afghanistan—troops that were initially sent by the Socialist government of [Lionel] Jospin and [Jean-Luc] Mélenchon ten years ago, when Hollande himself was the head of the SP—this is from the standpoint of serving the best interests of French imperialism. The current military losses are no longer justified by the “advantage” of being able to train troops to kill real people and enabling France to negotiate with the United States to obtain certain advantages for its own capitalists. Besides, Hollande has personally declared his support for the bloody military interventions of French imperialism organized by Sarkozy in the Ivory Coast and Libya. French troops out of Afghanistan, Africa, Lebanon, the Balkans and the Arabian Peninsula!

Moreover, François Hollande is running as the joint candidate of the SP and the Left Radical Party, a bourgeois party. This kind of coalition is a “popular front,” a bloc between bourgeois parties and bourgeois workers parties—that is, parties like the SP or the Communist Party (PCF), which have ties to the labor movement and claim, in one way or another, to be part of it, even though their leadership and program are totally bourgeois. In such coalitions, it is the bourgeois parties that inevitably determine the class character of the alliance, guaranteeing that it will loyally serve the capitalists.

By tying the workers to their class enemy, popular-front alliances have always paved the way for defeat. That is why it is a matter of principle for Marxists to oppose them. The June 1936 Popular Front led to [the Nazi collaborator] Pétain; the 1936 Popular Front in Spain led to the Franco dictatorship which ruled for nearly 40 years; in Chile it led to Pinochet’s coup in 1973. Beginning with [Socialist Party leader François] Mitterrand in 1981, a succession of popular fronts has each time been followed five years later by a return to power of right-wing reactionaries. Meanwhile, the fascists of the National Front have taken root.

We also refuse to give any support to the candidates of the “left of the left.” The social democrats of the PCF and the Left Party (PG) have united behind Jean-Luc Mélenchon, formerly a longtime Socialist Party leader who had held a minor ministerial post during the last years of the Jospin government. The latter boasted of having performed more privatizations than all of the previous right-wing governments. The PCF and PG are unconditionally determined to “defeat the right” on the second round, which decoded means “vote for Hollande.” They are thus acting simply as vote-getters for the popular front.

This is also the role of the NPA [New Anti-Capitalist Party] of Olivier Besancenot and Philippe Poutou. In fact, much of the NPA has been going over to Mélenchon’s party in order to support the popular front more directly (and have a better chance at getting sinecures if the “left” wins the elections). As for Lutte Ouvrière’s candidate, Nathalie Arthaud, she refuses, for the time being, to oppose voting for Hollande. In the 2007 presidential elections, these opportunists called for a vote for [SP candidate] Ségolène Royal on the second round. We call on workers not to vote in the presidential elections, neither on the first nor the second round.

Workers should also not vote in the coming parliamentary elections. This is how Lenin described parliamentarism:

“To decide once every few years which members of the ruling class is to repress and crush the people through parliament—this is the real essence of bourgeois parliamentarism, not only in parliamentary-constitutional monarchies, but also in the most democratic republics.”

—The State and Revolution (1917)

However, in parliamentary elections, unlike presidential elections, Marxists may consider running candidates and using the election campaign and, if elected, the parliamentary podium as oppositionists, that is, in opposition to the capitalist executive power, no matter who is running the state. The purpose is to disseminate revolutionary propaganda and act as a tribune of the workers and the oppressed.

Down With the European Union!

The chauvinist and anti-working-class program of the SP appears particularly clearly in regard to the European Union (EU). The EU is an entirely reactionary institution—a consortium of imperialist states and weaker states—led by Germany. The initial purpose of the EU’s predecessors, the European Coal and Steel Community, the Europe of Six, etc., was to strengthen the economic cohesion of capitalist West Europe—mainly France and Germany—in order to consolidate the NATO military alliance against the Soviet Union.

In the 1980s, the SP of Mitterrand and Mélenchon contributed in no small measure to the victory of capitalist counterrevolution in East Europe. We Trotskyists were for the unconditional military defense of the USSR. In 1989-1990, the left in general, from the SP to Lutte Ouvrière, rejoiced at the prospect of a capitalist reunification of Germany. In contrast, we fought against the absorption of the East German deformed workers state by capitalist West Germany and for revolutionary reunification, through a proletarian political revolution against the parasitic Stalinist bureaucracy in East Germany and a socialist revolution in the West to overthrow and expropriate the German bourgeoisie.

With the USSR now destroyed, the EU is merely a trading bloc of competing imperialist powers, mainly Germany, France and Britain, which went to war with each other twice in the last century alone to achieve supremacy in Europe and to seize their rivals’ global market share. Supposedly, the only purpose of the EU is to promote “free and fair competition” (even though capitalism over a century ago entered the era of cartels and monopolies). This is an ideological cover for increasing attacks against the gains that workers were able to wrest through their struggles when the Soviet Union still existed. Thus, the anti-union Bolkestein Directive aims at pitting the workers of the various European countries against each other. As we wrote in a leaflet (reprinted in Le Bolchévik, March 2006), “The Bolkestein Directive gets to the heart of what the European Union is.” More recently, we stressed in the most recent Le Bolchévik (December 2011):

“The EU is a fragile formation exposed to continuous tensions stemming from the disparate national interests of the European imperialists, which are constantly threatening to tear it apart. Nor can it be otherwise. Although the productive forces have long since outgrown a national framework, capitalism is a system that rests essentially on nation-states: each of the various national capitalist classes needs its own state to push through and defend its interests at home and abroad. Hence under capitalism, the goal of political union or a European superstate is necessarily reactionary and an empty utopia.”

—see “Economic Crisis Rips Europe,” WV No. 992, 9 December 2011

The International Communist League has always opposed the EU and its monetary instrument, the euro. In May 1997, as the imperialists’ negotiations for the creation of the euro were being finalized, we wrote a leaflet calling for not voting for the PCF/Jospin popular front, which declared: “If in the future, because of workers’ struggles, the ‘monetary union’ is abandoned or postponed indefinitely, this would be a victory for workers, who throughout Europe have militantly resisted the capitalist offensive.” We explained at the time that a single currency was not viable in the absence of a single European government, and that such a government “can only be achieved by the methods of Adolf Hitler, not by those of Jacques Delors, the French social-democratic architect of Maastricht [treaty establishing the euro]” (see “For a Workers Europe—For Socialist Revolution!” WV No. 670, 13 June 1997).

Hollande’s opposition to Sarkozy on the question of Europe is solely from the standpoint of the interests of French imperialism, not those of the working class. Hollande accuses Sarkozy of capitulating to France’s German rivals. He went to London not only to reassure the financiers of the City that they had nothing to fear from his speech against “the world of finance,” but also to advocate closer ties between France and Britain against Germany. Hollande has, for example, no intention of changing the conditions imposed by [German chancellor Angela] Merkel and Sarkozy on Greece, which are strangling that country and literally driving its people into extreme poverty. Those measures are also laying the groundwork for intensifying attacks on workers in the rest of Europe, including Germany and France.

In France, the social democrats have always played a decisive role regarding the EU and the euro. In December 1989, seeking to maintain some leverage over Germany, Mitterrand negotiated a common currency with Chancellor Kohl in exchange for agreeing to the capitalist reunification of Germany, which inevitably would lead to strengthening the power of Germany relative to France. He had the Maastricht Treaty approved by referendum in 1992. (It was approved only by a narrow margin, thanks in part to Mélenchon’s vote in favor and LO’s abstention.) The euro itself was introduced under Jospin’s SP-PCF-Green government, which Mélenchon was part of from 2000 to 2002. Hollande’s SP later campaigned for the Lisbon Treaty [approving a new EU constitution]. (The treaty was rejected by referendum in 2005, but nevertheless adopted in 2008 thanks to the abstention or “yes” vote of over 150 SP members of parliament.) Recently, by deciding to abstain in parliament, the SP saved the latest scheme by “Merkozy” to asphyxiate Greece, called the “European Stability Mechanism.”

That is the EU’s balance sheet for French imperialism. Thanks to the capitalist counterrevolution in East Europe, and the concomitant wage cuts and loss of workers’ gains, the German bourgeoisie was able to outsource a growing share of the inputs of its industrial products to those countries, which are increasingly its economic hinterland. The strength of the euro against the local currencies has further lowered the cost of these products for German capitalists. In addition, wage cuts in Germany itself, particularly under the social-democratic governments headed by Gerhard Schröder in the 2000s, gave German capitalists an increased competitive advantage over the French. The French reformists, who supported the counterrevolution (in the name of “democracy”) and the European Union, are now very disappointed with the outcome: Their own bourgeoisie is the loser.

In fact, no candidate of the workers movement in these elections stands in any way opposed to the EU. Mélenchon and the PCF want the European Central Bank to give money to the poor (to be paid for ultimately by the German capitalists through depreciation of the euro and/or through “euro bonds”). Thus, they spread illusions that the EU and its monetary instrument could be placed at the service of the oppressed. While they’re at it, why not call on the fascist Le Pen to defend immigrants?

But the rest of the “left of the left” are no better. For years the NPA, following its predecessor, the misnamed Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire, has called for a “democratic and social” Europe. In other words, they pretend that there can be a capitalist Europe that is more humane than the existing one. The NPA thus deflects the working class away from struggle to overthrow the entire capitalist system and to establish a Socialist United States of Europe on a revolutionary internationalist basis. These lackeys of their own imperialism admonish the workers in Greece and France that they should remain prisoners of the euro straitjacket, which the NPA presents as protection against one’s own national bourgeoisie. Thus the editorial by Yvan Lemaitre in the January issue of the NPA’s monthly, Tout Est à Nous! La Revue [Everything Is Ours! The Magazine], proclaims, regarding a return to national currencies:

“Such a step backward would lock the workers into the national straitjacket at the mercy of their own implacable national bourgeoisies, each one bitterly defending its own position within the new international division of labor. There is another way out, a democratic and progressive one, within the European framework, which has become the new arena for struggles by workers and by the peoples.”

Since Lemaitre is against socialist revolution, he can only conceive of opposition to the capitalist EU and the euro from the standpoint of right-wing nationalism. He cynically denounces “reactionary, chauvinist and nationalist propaganda that proposes returning to national currencies and withdrawing behind national boundaries.” In fact it is the bankruptcy of the left, the apostles of a “democratic and social” capitalist Europe, that puts wind in the sails of fascist demagogues, allowing them a monopoly on opposing the EU in whose name the workers’ gains are attacked. And it is German workers who are among the main victims of the austerity measures on behalf of “competitiveness” in Europe. The only two announced candidates in this election who oppose the euro are Marine Le Pen of the National Front and Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, an old-style far-right Gaullist politician.

The [Lambertist] Parti Ouvrier Indépendant (POI) has its own chauvinist line of ultra-French delirium. At a February 13 Paris demonstration over the crisis in Greece, its members chanted slogans against the EU as an “American agency” and called for the EU/International Monetary Fund/European Central Bank troika to get out of Paris, presumably to protect “la belle France” from their misdeeds. Thus the POI covers up the role of French imperialism in the oppression of Greece.

Protectionism: Reactionary Response to Capitalist Attacks

Throughout Europe, nationalism is on the rise, an ideological expression of the sharpening of rivalries between the continent’s bourgeoisies. To fight this, it is necessary to break openly with the reactionary fiction of European capitalist unity and to fight for revolutionary proletarian internationalism. Today this particularly means solidarity with our class brothers in Greece who are being crushed under the jackboot of the French BNP bank, the Deutsche Bank and the European Central Bank. It is necessary to oppose the protectionist campaigns to tax imported products and “produce French” or “produce in France,” whether put forward by Sarkozy, Hollande or Mélenchon. It is necessary to oppose the chauvinist poison spewed by those rare “left” ideologues like Jacques Sapir and Jacques Nikonoff, who oppose the euro in the name of a better version of protectionism. In a Le Bolchévik No. 197 (September 2011) article that dealt with Michel Husson, a pro-euro economist fetishized by the NPA, we noted: “The NPA wants people to believe that capitalism can simply be reformed, and by promoting a supposedly ‘good’ protectionism it lends legitimacy to the protectionism of the National Front.”

Ditto for the PCF with its “produce French” slogan, which it just dredged up again a few months ago, and which has been picked up by the National Front. Today the National Front presents essentially a parliamentary package. But at bottom the fascists are paramilitary shock troops who carry out racist terror and whose ultimate target is the working class. The decaying capitalist system is the fertile terrain that nourishes the fascists. In the event of a sharp crisis, the bourgeoisie mobilizes them against the working class as it did in Germany in 1933. This is why the struggle against fascism cannot be separated from the struggle for socialist revolution. To crush them it is necessary to mobilize the working class in defense of Muslims, immigrants, homosexuals and all the designated targets of the fascist scum. It is necessary to fight to overthrow capitalism—a perspective rejected by the union bureaucrats, since they seek to keep the unions chained to the capitalist order.

It is necessary to fight against layoffs, which threaten workers in plants that the capitalists are relocating as they try to maximize profits. But protectionism means seeking agreement with the French capitalists to keep plants located here, against the workers of other countries. It is flatly counterposed to a proletarian internationalist program, which is based on a common class struggle across national borders against these same capitalists, to defend and extend the workers’ gains. To fight against the bourgeoisie’s maneuvers for dividing workers along national lines, there needs to be struggle for wage increases, including at subsidiary companies and subcontractors in other countries. We must fight tooth and nail against layoffs, demanding the sharing of work between all hands, with the corresponding reduction in working hours without loss of pay. We must fight for all temporary workers and those on short-term contracts to get permanent jobs. Equal pay for equal work!

This requires struggle for industrial unions, which bring together in the same fighting organization all the workers at a given location—including those provided by subcontractors—whether it is a French or foreign company. And this in turn requires a fight for a new leadership in the unions, a revolutionary internationalist leadership replacing the bureaucrats, who are content with the division of unionized workers among several competing unions and who even accept the low level of unionization of workers since the bureaucrats’ apparatus is essentially financed by the bosses and the state.

The division of the working class along national lines, accompanied by protectionism, goes hand in hand with the division of the workers within the country along ethnic, racial and sexual lines. Mélenchon, protectionism’s clearest advocate among the candidates of the workers movement, has virtually nothing to say against the government’s racist campaigns in his 96-page platform. What is at stake, however, is nothing less than the unity of the multiethnic and multiracial proletariat of this country. Full citizenship rights for everyone who has made it here! Down with the deportations of undocumented immigrants! The workers movement must defend ghetto youth! Down with the racist campaign against veiled women!

No Vote to LO!

Nathalie Arthaud, Lutte Ouvrière’s candidate, presents herself as the only “communist candidate.” She is trying to take advantage of the hesitancy of a significant number of PCF members about voting for Mélenchon. But Arthaud’s program has nothing to do with communism. Furthermore, LO has always been in favor of the EU and the euro. In their latest conference document (Lutte Ouvrière, December 2011-January 2012), they lament that in recent times “the few steps forward made by the bourgeoisie to overcome national rivalries, as in the field of monetary unification, are now in jeopardy.” They have always celebrated the supposedly “open borders” created by the Schengen Treaty [which ostensibly allows free movement between member states while erecting barriers against non-European immigrants]. Yet at any given time an estimated 100,000 people in the EU are in jail because they lack the required papers, and 140,000 are deported each year. And about 15,000 people have died in the past 20 years trying to penetrate this racist fortress.

LO claims to be “communist” but tramples on the most basic principles of the class struggle by refusing to show the working class that one should not vote for those allied with the bourgeois class enemy. LO decided at its recent congress in December not to take a position on whether to oppose Hollande until the evening of the first round of elections. LO’s candidacy is therefore a candidacy to pressure the popular front so that it will be slightly more to the left once in office. As Nathalie Arthaud’s election platform declared: “Even those among the plebeian electorate who, out of disgust with Sarkozy, will choose to vote for Hollande on the second round should express on the first round the fact that they distrust him, that they are keeping an eye on him and that, even with the left in power, they will impose their demands.” No vote for Nathalie Arthaud!

LO has never made any secret of the reformist character of its municipalism and its trade-union work. They wrote in Lutte de Classe (February 2008): “By definition, municipal activity as well as trade-union activity cannot be revolutionary; they are reformist.” As recently as last month, Jean-Pierre Mercier, a spokesman of Nathalie Arthaud and a member of the municipal majority running Bagnolet [a working-class city outside Paris] signed a special statement of political solidarity with the PCF mayor, Marc Everbecq. Supposedly describing the way Everbecq has been ruling the city, this statement defended “living together and in solidarity” as well as the mayor’s “citizenship building.” “Citizenship building” or racist demolition? The African workers who lived in a squat that was demolished on the orders of the mayor’s office with a backhoe two years ago will have their own opinion about that (see “Lutte Ouvrière’s Municipal Antics,” WV No. 960, 4 June 2010). Voting for the mayor’s budget, as Mercier has been doing for years, means paying for his backhoe.

LO defends its municipal reformism, arguing that this is a long tradition of the labor movement. That this is a tradition of the French workers movement is unfortunately true, but it was not true of Lenin. He fought hard in 1917 against his own comrades who wanted to continue precisely the reformist practice of the Second International in managing municipalities (See “Marxist Principles and Electoral Tactics,” Spartacist [English-language edition] No. 61, Spring 2009). It is not by accident that for the past 50 years the French Constitution has required that candidates for the highest executive post be sponsored by a number of elected officials, the vast majority of whom are mayors who, on a daily basis, exercise just such an executive mandate.

At bottom, LO’s election program boils down to wanting to “impose on the bosses a ban on layoffs,” to “force the state to hire” and to “impose workers control in industry and banking,” along with wage increases and an automatic cost-of-living adjustment for inflation. They want this to be “imposed on the owners and the rulers, whoever they may be.” The problem is that imposing on the capitalists a “ban on layoffs” would mean forcing them to stop running their economy for the purpose of making profits—in other words, making them cease being themselves.

LO thinks that the workers’ vital needs can be “ a collective working-class struggle that is so massive and so explosive that it really threatens the capitalist class.... The capitalist class will not concede anything without feeling the anger of the working class and the threat to its own profits and wealth.” But when such an explosive struggle occurs, that’s when serious business starts, not where it ends: Either one is satisfied with having obtained these “basic needs” by posing threats or one goes forward to overthrow capitalism. LO clearly limits itself to the former perspective, thereby promising to repeat the PCF’s betrayals in the June 1936 and May 1968 general strikes, when the PCF made the workers return to work with a few economic concessions from the bourgeoisie, betraying the possibilities for socialist revolution. As always in such cases, the concessions achieved were immediately undermined by the capitalists, who are only satisfied when gains are emptied of their content.

Likewise, “workers control of industry and banking” can only be a phase in the workers’ struggle to impose their own organs of power, at the factory level and at the level of society as a whole, and to liquidate capitalist property for good. If such a perspective is not posed from a revolutionary standpoint, which LO does not do, it simply amounts to joint management, in which the union bureaucrats participate in decisions by the shareholders on how to increase the rate of profit on their investment. In this period of sharp capitalist crisis, it also means jointly overseeing layoffs and plant closings. The following words by Trotsky in the Transitional Program (1938) directly apply to LO:

“Classical Social Democracy, functioning in an epoch of progressive capitalism, divided its program into two parts independent of each other: the minimum program which limited itself to reforms within the framework of bourgeois society, and the maximum program which promised substitution of socialism for capitalism in the indefinite future. Between the minimum and the maximum program no bridge existed. And indeed Social Democracy has no need of such a bridge, since the word socialism is used only for holiday speechifying.... Insofar as the old, partial, ‘minimal’ demands of the masses clash with the destructive and degrading tendencies of decadent capitalism—and this occurs at each step—the Fourth International advances a system of transitional demands, the essence of which is contained in the fact that ever more openly and decisively they will be directed against the very bases of the bourgeois regime. The old ‘minimal program’ is superseded by the transitional program, the task of which lies in systematic mobilization of the masses for the proletarian revolution.”

The workers movement has been beset by demoralization for the last 20 years, since the counterrevolution in the Soviet Union and the so-called “death of communism.” This demoralization only sharpens the contradiction between the objective tasks facing the proletariat and its low level of consciousness. But that does not change the fact that the only way to resolve this contradiction is to fight for a revolutionary working-class party. In the course of the class struggle, the working class acquires socialist consciousness not spontaneously (as LO preaches in its holiday speechifying) but through the intervention of a Leninist party.

In these elections there is no choice for the working people. No candidate presents—even on the first round, even in the crudest way—a line of class independence against Hollande and Sarkozy, the two main candidates whom the bourgeoisie is considering for leadership of French imperialism in the period ahead. Whoever is elected, the working class confronts a strengthening of the capitalist offensive against its gains. The workers will be all the better prepared for that confrontation if they refuse to heed the siren song of the popular front or vote for it. Above all, the working class needs a new leadership, a revolutionary leadership. We are fighting to build the Leninist party that will one day lead the workers to the victorious overthrow of capitalism. Reforge the Fourth International, world party of socialist revolution! For the Socialist United States of Europe!