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French workers have won, but has the planet lost?

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Media Analysis

The media has been inviting the Canadian and U.S. public to bet if “the French protests will work, or do you think the people are wasting their time and money” as put by a pundit – Alex Rozier -  for The envious sneering at "a whole 2 more years to 62, those poor (babies)"  has been the subtext to that question in most every story in English North America. The minority leftist coverage from people like Amy Goodman, has been, ‘why can’t we ever mobilize like that for our interests here’.

To answer the first question, despite the bill passing, the French have already won on their own terms. They won before they even went out onto the streets, because even the neo-fascist Sarkozy knew he couldn’t withstand them. We know he knew because he proposed the most modest anti-labour reform he possibly could, despite the contempt we know he has for the working class.

French workers made sure that no further reforms will come against them by costing capital Billions of Euros in this opening round, which the elite, probably considered a mere toe in the water of public sentiment. Well, the French people burned that toe down to the bone. It is clear that the ruling ‘elites’ will be hard pressed to crucify the French working class at the altar of the bond holding class. We can hear ‘Tabernac! is right’ being murmured by the rich after barely making it through that round of peoples’ actions.

But the answering of the overt sneer of ‘aren’t the French workers just wasting their time and money’ doesn’t assuage the basic envy of much of the rest of the world. The fact that the Blum (communist) government’ workers state legislation holds strong in France to this day, 75 years later, is certainly an enviable and admirable achievement in the face capitalism.

However, the French working class is an enclave of privilege in a world predominantly characterized by starvation, violence and sickness: Much like the French aristocracy of the 16th - 19th centuries trotting between their decadent enclaves, through the suffering masses dying and starving in putrid Paris gutters.

Parisienne street barricading cut its industrialized teeth in 1832, as the French precursor – Proudhon - to Marx first came of political age. Proudhon couldn’t stand Paris for the comfort of it’s elite despite the environment of mass suffering and abject poverty all along their daily paths as they trotted between palaces.  The rest of the world must now feel like Proudhon did, only from outside France about the workers in it.

French syndicalism has gladly taken the fruits of the most advanced capitalist economy, and admirably kept it’s capitalists on their back foot in the arrangement, once in a while. But that doesn’t change the fact that French capitalists only use France as a platform to leverage the most creative and educated work-force to better leverage markets elsewhere. Market structure requires scarcity to maintain prices (if everyone can have something, no one will pay a premium to provide for profit). Of course much of markets’ artificial scarcity stratification (according to ‘what the market will bare’ on the top end and what it will leverage in desiring pursuit (in-debtedness) on the bottom end) has just been moved from the West to the Global South.

Only a hyper-relativist (post-modern) civilization, where no one approach is right and none wrong, can stand to not challenge capitalism itself… Can let go of the very communist ideals which garnered it the very benefits it demands for itself to this day on French streets. In so far as the French have given up on the revolutionary values which got them their gains and which might help gain for other peoples, then shame on the French for giving up its proud revolutionary traditions.

We will briefly remember that the socialist Blum government brought in the enviable French workers’ contract during the last Depression, despite the fact that international capitalists threatened Blum that they would go on a capital strike. Blum instead had to devalue the Franc (historic French currency) twice to pay for the new workers’ paradise. This left no funds to modernize the Maginot line and general defenses against the Nazis, even though it was widely understood that reinvestment in France’s defense was in dire straights. Despite the situation, international capital stayed on strike, and instead chose to finance Nazi Germany all the more.

It is capitalism itself that is the enemy, not one state-capitalist government or another. To think of questioning our system – capitalism - as ‘ideological bias’, when systemic crises abound all around us, is more of the same hyper-relativist fence-sitting that has us mired in these systemic crises. Capitalism was the enemy when French workers first got these benefits, and allowed the Nazi to occupy in protest of those rights, it is state-capitalism that allows Haiti to be kept under the French, Canadian and U.S. banks’ yoke for the debt of their slave assets. It is capitalism that produces enough food but doesn’t distribute it to a billion people suffering chronic hunger every year. It is capitalism that allows for the corruption of our governments to the point of allowing the climate to die, etc., etc.

Not defeating capitalism, but instead remaining neutral towards it, as France did with Spain while the Nazis used the Iberian peninsula as the testing ground for Blitzkrieg, will eventually be the demise of us all. It is time we take our strikes, and protests, and use the energy and impetus towards the creation of a system which can kill capitalism by replacing it with something better… Lest we be crushed under the default fascist heel of state-capitalism all over again.

France’s own Proudhon, once showed us a potential way out of capitalism and state-fascism. It would be great if the French could lead the way again, they should certainly have learned the lesson by now.

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