We republish below the somewhat dated (Oct. 18th) statement by the International Communist Party — Il Comunista regarding the repressive measures the state of France is imposing under the guise of a “state of health-emergency.” Though dated, we think the general thrust of the statement is relevant to the international situation, including the United States [1.]. This statement puts clear emphasis on the real nature of this measure and others like it: rather than “prevent the spread of the virus,” first and foremost these authoritarian measures are meant to avoid dealing with unsafe workplaces, which would mean the reduction of labor to a necessary minimum to ensure that the needs of the population, of workers, are actually sufficiently met while the pandemic is dealt with.
The statistics given from the French Public Health Agency in the statement are particularly illuminating: while “extended family gatherings” contribute to only 4.7% of outbreaks and 8% to “public or private gatherings” in general (recall here the recent hysteria in the United States regarding Thanksgiving from the media establishment), a full 21% of outbreaks are attributed (by the French Government’s own admission!) to “workplaces,” 18.6% to schools, 13.4% in health establishments, as well as 15.4% in senior living facilities alone (an appalling indictment of how this system really values those who are no longer able to contribute directly to the accumulation of capital!).
We believe the orientations for the working class the statement provides are also very clear and worth repeating: we must oppose the sacrifices we are forced to endure under the pretext of the health crisis, while the capitalist class sacrifices nothing, and indeed has used our sacrifices to enrich itself untold magnitudes further (and there is probably no real need to remind the reader here of the immense “success” of Mr. Bezos recently, or of the trillions of dollars the American Government has gifted to capitalists and financiers under the CARES Act, while sending workers paltry sums of stimulus money that could never hope to cover even a fraction of the ‘back rent’ many workers find themselves due to the gracious landlords that allow us to keep their rickety property over our heads, etc.). We must further oppose the ‘progressive’, left-wing of capital, like the French trade unions who are begging Macron for a “social dialogue”: as Il Comunista say, “nothing good can come out of social
dialogue, which these organizations, as indecisive supporters of class collaboration, are eternally seeking.”
If it is the Left in the United States that is decisively rallying behind the government and the lockdowns of the ‘private sphere’ (but never of “the economy!”), this is no real contradiction to this final orientation. If the Left in France finds itself to be an “opposition party” within the national unity, the left in the United States has recently found itself in a nascent position of leadership of this same “national unity” – to the workers this means the exact same thing. The Biden administration and the liberal establishment of major cities like New York and Chicago have made it clear they have no fundamental disagreements with the outgoing right-wing administration: on December 2nd, Joe Biden stated, in “sensible” fashion, “I don’t want to scare anybody, but understand the facts – we’re likely to lose another 250,000 people dead between now and January,” [2.] – all the while making very clear that the course must be continued, there will be no closure of workplaces, there will be no aid (not counting a paltry $600 payout, certain to come with it’s labyrinth of qualifications like the previous $1200 payment, months and months ago), the bourgeois “tactic” of herd immunity in the workplaces, which must continue producing value for capital at full force, while the workers must take it upon themselves to be ‘responsible’—avoid their loved ones, sacrifice their personal well-being—until the vaccine is able to do its supposed work must be continued at all costs to the working class.
We end our introduction here, repeating only the only call the proletariat can make in the situation we find ourselves in: NO TO THE NATIONAL UNION – “Only the open class struggle, breaking with the methods and objectives of class collaboration, independently of any bourgeois influence and of any respect for local or national capitalist interests, will be able to allow the proletarians to defend themselves, coming out of the paralysis into which the combined action of the bourgeoisie and all its servants has plunged them.”
L.O., December 2020
No curfew! No to the return of the “state of health-emergency”!
On October 14 the government announced through Macron that it had decided to subject nearly 20 million people in the country’s largest cities to a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. for several weeks, to order a ban on family gatherings of more people, etc., and to re-establish the “state of health-emergency” that had been partially lifted a few months ago. Macron declared that he trusted the “responsibility” of the population; but in fact it is the police controls and repressive measures that will be responsible for ensuring the inhabitants of Paris, Grenoble, Lyon, Lille Marseille, Montpellier, Rouen, Saint Etienne and Toulouse respect the curfew imposed on them by the State. 12,000 police officers will be mobilized for this purpose and in case of repeated curfew violations, a fine of 3,750 euros and a 6-month prison sentence are planned.
Macron justified the curfew with the argument that “Our caregivers are very fatigued (…). We don’t have any spare beds.”
But in recent months, while billions have been set aside to help the capitalists, the hospital and health care structures in general, which have been undermined by years and years of “restructuring” to reduce spending, including significant reductions in the number of beds, have been left scraps [original: n’ont été que le parent pauvre] by the recovery plan; the thousands of additional beds announced in May are still not there and the necessary hiring has not taken place. It is the government itself, obeying the laws of capital, which is responsible for the “fatigue” (in fact, for the exploitation) of personnel at all levels and the inadequacy of the means available to deal with the epidemic. For capitalism, health care costs represent an intolerable burden when they concern people who cannot be exploited at work (the elderly, etc.), and a cost that must be minimized for others; this is why the same situation has been observed in all countries – the same hecatomb [translation editor: “public sacrifice”] in nursing homes, the same tragic deficiencies in hospitals. The health of proletarians is incompatible with the health of capitalism!
The government’s decision was presented as necessary to prevent the resumption of the epidemic, which is seen not only by the increase in the number of people testing positive for the virus (of which a large part are asymptomatic), but also by the increase in the number of the sick hospitalized and the number of deaths. Above all, contamination should be prevented in the “private” and family sphere, which is construed as one of the most important places of contamination.
However, this is not what the official statistics themselves indicate; according to the latest figures published by ‘Public Health France’, the largest number of “clusters” (epidemic outbreaks) identified are first in the workplace (21%); then in schools (especially universities) (18.6%), in EHPAD (senior residential facilities) (15.6%), in health establishments (13.4%), at “public or private events gatherings of people” (8%); extended family gatherings would represent only 4.7% of clusters. If there is to be a curfew, it should therefore concern companies and schools first! But since it is necessary to reduce to a minimum the economic activity damaged by the crisis, the health of workers and their families is sacrificed to the health of companies in important capitalist sectors.
DEMOCRACY THROWS OFF THE MASK BY INSTITUTING A PERMANENT STATE OF EMERGENCY
This curfew, whose sanitary effectiveness is doubtful, could be only a first step according to official statements, Macron having declared that the current situation could last “at least until the summer of 2021”. Above all, it is accompanied by a return to the “state of emergency”; it allows the executive to take any measures it deems necessary to limit individual liberties (banning demonstrations, ordering confinement to homes, etc.), to regulate travel, to order requisitions, etc., and to govern by decree. This state of emergency is therefore only “sanitary” in name; conferring full powers on the government in order, among other things, to counter struggles or to authorize bosses to exempt themselves from the labor code, it shows its essentially anti-proletarian nature. The economic crisis, which only the first disastrous effects for proletarians are now being felt, will inevitably provoke angry reactions and struggles, and it is not the meagre crumbs given by the Prime Minister (the exceptional aid of 150 euros for young people) that will change anything. The government, which has been confronted in the last period with large-scale social movements, which saw the first reactions to social plans and various demonstrations, is fully aware of this. It is preparing for this by once again reinforcing social control with these first curfew measures and also by re-establishing the state of emergency. The democrats are outraged that this “permanent state of emergency” “undermines, even endangers democracy and undermines the rule of law“. But democracy is not endangered at all: it throws off the mask by showing itself for what it really is: at the exclusive service of the capitalist order. As for the “rule of law”, it fundamentally serves the right of capitalists to conduct their affairs without hindrance. It is the illusions about democracy – and democrats – that are shaken by this demonstration!
NO TO THE NATIONAL UNION!
The proletarians cannot lament the so-called violation of democracy where the enemy appears with his face uncovered, but they must see it as a sign of the coming clashes.
They must oppose the sacrifices that are being asked of them under the pretext of a health crisis; they must refuse to trust the government and the bourgeois state to defend them, against the epidemic or any other threat. The calls for “national union” launched by the bourgeoisie, whether against the virus or against Islamist terrorism, are always aimed at paralyzing them and making them renounce fighting for the defense of their living, health and working conditions. This is why they must be rejected without hesitation.
But the proletarians must also defy the large trade union organizations which, united, sent a joint letter to the Prime Minister on 10/14 asking for the opening of social dialogue: nothing good for them can come out of social dialogue, which these organizations, as indecisive supporters of class collaboration, are eternally seeking. The facts have demonstrated countless times that these organizations are always ready to betray workers’ interests in order to maintain the bourgeois order and the vitality of capitalism.
Only the open class struggle, breaking with the methods and objectives of class collaboration, independently of any bourgeois influence and of any respect for local or national capitalist interests, will be able to allow the proletarians to defend themselves, coming out of the paralysis into which the combined action of the bourgeoisie and all its servants has plunged them.
The attacks of the bosses and their state will inevitably increase in the coming period; the necessary response will only be effective if it takes this path.
International Communist Party (Il Comunista) October 18, 2020