Special interview with Maurice Cukierman, the General Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist Party of France (PCRF)
ICP, 11 February 2017
ICP: We have left the year 2016 behind us. What are the events that marked the last year?
PCRF: For us, the marking event is the foundation of our Party after a long battle. But, more broadly speaking, I think that the worsening of the inter-imperialist contradictions, which until now were quantitative, seems now to be qualitative: The exit of the UK from the EU, the fact that, contrary to only two years ago, the bourgeoisie specialists and politicians openly bring up the explosion of the EU as a possibility, the election of Trump and his protectionist and isolationist program, the politics of Turkey, the reemergence of Russia all show that maybe we have entered into a new situation which is not less dangerous than the previous one, maybe even more. And then in our country there was a struggle against the employment law, known as El-khomri law, which showed that class unionism was not dead, it was coming alive again.
ICP: The World heads towards an enormous crisis. It is not rocket science to see that the crisis will deepen in 2017. What are the situation and the positioning of France in this capitalist-imperialist system?
PCRF: We share the view on the worsening of the crisis, which is the background of what we have previously stated. France is the fourth global power, it is the most aggressive after the USA, it exports arms. But its economy is fragile, capital export being the priority. It was enough to see Italy’s economic system collapsing for France to be led to fall.
ICP: 2017 will also be an election year for France. What are your anticipations about the elections? What do the elections promise for the French citizens? What will be the position of your party?
PCRF: For the presidential elections, we can say that whoever the elected will be, it will apply the politics of capital and we think that it will do it brutally. The program of Fillon, the ex prime minister of Sarkozy, is honest: Calling into question of the social security system, increasing the legal weekly working limit from 35 to 48, abolition of 500 thousand public servants, raising the retirement age to 67 and calling into question of the calculation of the retirement pensions of the public servants, tax cuts for the richest and the capital, finally, shortly, a program that is strengthened but towards the right wing of the politics led by the social democracy during the last 5 years. The other candidates, without saying it, have more or less the same economic and social targets. That is to say, they call for pursuing the committed reforms! We note that Fillon, who has, until now, been the favorite candidate, seems to fight over his place with the ex minister of Hollande, Macron, who is an ex servant of Rothschild. As for Jean-Luc Melenchon, nothing in his program can pave the way for the advance of the popular movement. In contradiction with the topics that he develops, he tends to make the labor movement to fall in line with the petite bourgeoisie, reinforcing the reformist hegemony on the proletariat. This is the reason why we make the witty remark: For the presidential elections take your position with the class and join our Party for socialism! In the general elections we will try to present candidates.
ICP: Last year the National Front (FN) had significantly increased its votes. Is it possible that the extreme right creates a massive electoral base and even become the power in France in the following period?
PCRF: Let me rectify it: The FN did not significantly increase its votes. It has increased the percentage of votes and its voice is in stagnation. This is due to the significant abstention of popular classes facing the social democratic politics and political, ideological and organizational defeat of the PCF[French Communist Party]/ European Left. That being sad, we do not underestimate the risk of a breakthrough of the FN in the presidential elections. The polls attribute her 25% and its leader will be heading at the first tour. But before then, the things might change. This said, for the moment, the French bourgeoisie does not play this card in order to exercise governmental responsibilities. Its program is a subtle mixture of social demagoguery, xenophobia and a Fillon type of economic and social policies, a direct attack against the union movement, in addition. But what is especially serious is that the discourse against the immigrant workers, about the security, the order has virtually become the discourse of almost all the political responsibles in substance, except Melenchon, we have to admit it; only the nuances distinguish them. Sometimes, it is in the discourse, not in the practice: her proposition of refusing free education to children of illegal immigrants. In the city where Manuel Valls was mayor, he tried to do things that resemble those with the children of the Roma and he had particularly nauseous declarations. As for the security problems and the emergency state the government is anyhow largely in line with the position of the FN.
ICP: The French labour class showed a significant resistance against the law known as El-khomri, which has changed the working conditions. What is left behind from this resistance to the class struggle today? What are the organization capacity and the level of conscience of the class today?
PCRF: The battle against the El-khomri law was an important moment in the awakening of class unionism, though not to be confused with class struggle unionism. After years of disavowal of the management of the CGT [General Confederation of Labor] and politics of alignment with the yellow trade unionism the CFDT [French Democratic Confederation of Labor], the workers and especially those in the private sector took to the streets in masses in the midst of state of emergency, despite the police oppression and the provocateurs. The CGT, by the way, grew stronger during this struggle. In its congress in the middle of the battle, the orientation of the management was disputed like never before in the history of the union movement. This said, nothing actually changed. It is always the defeatist orientation. But the discourse is different and more assertive; the union bureaucracy needs to pay lip service! On the other hand, it seems that the reformist orientation is accepted less in the regional and local organizations, in the enterprises. The struggle continues to win the unions including those in the WFTU [World Federation of Trade Unions]. This said, we can not be satisfied with what happens: The management of the CGT did not really lead a struggle for mobilization, for reinforcing the action, contenting itself with calling for days of action, without calling for a general strike, without making an action plan and mobilization which allow the movement to keep growing and reinforce it by relating the struggle against the labor law and local demands. While certain number of responsibles of the organization of cadres and engineers (UGICT) made an appeal, the real stab in the back of the movement came: The management of the union said nothing, bringing their de facto support to the social democratic government. And then there was a struggle against the anti-union oppression that was not relieved enough and usually left to the hands of solitary workers who are suppressed. I contemplate about the struggle against the conviction of the workers of the Goodyear, those of the Air France etc. About how it would be to create a big solidarity movement that would play an important role for the trade unionism. But this is not the concern of the management of the CGT! This said, the things move forward and 2017 might be a year of surprise and we might see the raising conscience of the class, which is weak, which translates as a weak level of unionism.