France: Demonstrations against the “health pass”
The struggle against bourgeois authoritarianism can only be waged on proletarian class positions!
(«Proletarian»; Nr. 18; Winter 2021-2022)
On Saturday 24 July, tens of thousands of people (more than 160,000 according to police sources), much more than the “anti-vax” who refuse any vaccination on principle, demonstrated again in dozens and dozens of cities, large and small, against the “health pass” and other government measures announced in the face of the pandemic – such as threats of dismissal of personnel who refuse to be vaccinated, fines or even prison sentences for not presenting the health pass, etc. Nurses who had to take care of patients last year without adequate protections, will now risk being fired if they are not sufficiently protected!
These authoritarian measures (which, by the way, contradict the statements made a few weeks earlier...) (1) are part of a repressive logic implemented by successive governments under various pretexts, well before the appearance of the pandemic. It is a basic trend that responds to the inexorable aggravation of social tensions as the difficulties of capitalism force it to increase the exploitation of proletarians while reducing ever more social spending denounced of course as intolerable “burden” by the bourgeoisie (President Macron, 6/12/18: social assistance costs “a crazy amount of money”). This tendency has manifested itself with unprecedented force and efficiency when in many countries, from Latin America to Asia, Africa or the Middle East, governments have decreed confinements to break the proletarian struggles and overcome their difficulties to maintain social peace.
Similarly, the imposition of successive confinements, a permanent state of emergency and the taking of authoritarian measures by the French government, has its roots in the fact that it was successively confronted with the Yellow Vests movement and the workers struggles against the attack on pensions. This also explains the recent passage of repressive laws called “global security” and “against separatism”. Indeed, the government does not intend to stop its anti-social attacks, even if the reduction of unemployment benefits has been postponed to the beginning of October and the attack on pensions postponed to a later date (Martinez,head of the CGT union and the social fireman in chief, had warned that otherwise it would be “throwing oil on the fire”!) (2); the decrease of the Housing Aid effective since the beginning of this year should bring in 2021 more than one billion euros to the State, while the subsidies and the aids to the employers have multiplied.
In this situation, where a wave of layoffs and social plans is still threatening (175,000 jobs are threatened according to the OFCE, Capital, 15/7/21) and where the much-vaunted economic recovery is proving to be more and more problematic, it is pointless to hope for a softening of the capitalist class and its government.
The demonstrations against the health pass were held with cries of “freedom! Democracy!”, in the name of individualism, and behind national flags – a sign of their predominantly petty bourgeois political nature; this is why, as in other large countries where such demonstrations took place (USA, Germany, etc.), there was a presence of extreme right-wing currents. The belief in an ideal democracy and the illusions of a “popular”, interclassist struggle that could push back the government are typical of every petty bourgeois movement, incapable of understanding that the most democratic of democracies is never anything else than the mask of the dictatorship of the bourgeois ruling class.
However, these demonstrations also drain, as always in such cases, proletarian elements who intend to show their hostility to the power. But in the absence of a class force, their own interests are drowned in the molasses of a false “popular” unanimism where all the petty bourgeois illusions dominate.
The left and “extreme” left currents that call for it do not do so to defend a class orientation that breaks with this unanimity, quite the contrary. Thus, a “unitary” text signed by the left party «France Insoumise», the Solidaires “left” union, the troskyst NPA, the student union UNEF, etc., bases its opposition to the pass on the “non-democratic” way in which the decision to introduce it would have been taken, “by a single man” (!), a method “generating strong tensions, which is deleterious in the middle of an epidemic crisis” (!!), and it ends with a call for the contribution “of the multinationals and the richest” to “national solidarity”!!! (3). As if Macron decided all alone according to what goes through his head, as if it were not capitalism itself that permanently generates tensions and as if national solidarity were not a swindle propagated by the ruling class!
In reality Macron and his government are only the agents of the bourgeoisie, navigating at sight according to the sometimes contradictory interests of the latter. And the strong tensions that our democrats fear indicate on the contrary the way of salvation for the proletarians in front of the bourgeois pressure and oppression: the way of open confrontations against the capitalists and their state, the way of the generalized resumption of the class struggle against capitalism.
Capitalism and the bourgeois states are ultimately responsible for the global health catastrophe of the pandemic through their criminal neglect at all levels of public health needs. Since the beginning they have responded to this pandemic by increasing their social control, by prohibiting and repressing, in a word by making the consequences of a mode of production based on the search for profit “whatever it takes”, fall on the population in general, but more precisely on the proletarians who are obliged to work without protection or who are plunged into misery. The latest measures announced illustrate this once again, by threatening workers with redundancies and by further weighing on their daily lives (while the deputies have absolved themselves of the health pass to sit in parliament!); even if vaccination is effective, it cannot by itself put an end to the epidemic in the still glaring scarcity of hospital facilities and other health resources: their emergency passage is in fact dictated, not by the health needs of the population, but by the needs of the capitalist economy.
Against the inexorably growing pressure of capitalism, of which the sanitary pass is only one example, even the most numerous marches will always be insufficient: only a sufficiently powerful force will be able to make capitalism retreat before it can be overthrown.
This force is that of the proletariat, when it has recovered its weapons and its class orientations, and reconstituted its revolutionary, internationalist and international party, necesary to lead the struggle until the final victory.
In a more or less near future, the proletariat will be called again to fight to defend itself; the bourgeois are preparing for it, the proletarians must prepare for it too, perpare to fight on their ground, class against class.
Against all anti-proletarian offensives, return to the class struggle against capitalism and the bourgeois state!
July, 26th 2021
(1) “The health pass will never be a right of access that differentiates the French. It cannot be mandatory for access to places of everyday life such as restaurants, theaters and cinemas (...)” interview with Macron in Le Parisien, 4/29/21
(2) Statement to tv channel LCI, 7/5/21.
(3) Libération, 7/22/21. Although the signatories include leaders of several CGT unions, the CGT as such is not among them, no doubt not wanting to compromise its status as a responsible social partner.
International Communist Party