The Rassemblement National (France’s ultra-right-wing party) made use of the attack on the Paris police headquarters and the immigration debate at the National Assembly to roll out their scaremongering arguments about insecurity and their typical confusion between Muslims and immigrants.
Whether you call it the Front National or the Rassemblement National, whether it’s leader is Jean-Marie Le Pen or his daughter Marine, it’s one and the same thing. The blame is put on foreigners, immigrants, Muslims. Never on the big bosses! Never on the people who create unemployment, never on the exploiters who reduce wages and impose job insecurity in order to increase dividends and the fortunes of an already very rich minority.
Macron and Le Pen will never blame anything on the parasitism of capitalists and their dictatorship over the whole of society. They may be fighting to be the one to govern, but they have the same blood group: devotion to the rich and to bourgeois society.
They now have something else in common: using anti-migrant rabble-rousing. Before, Macron claimed to represent “progressism” rather than “populism” Now he’s feeding people’s fantasies and misconceptions about populations bearing other populations!
The number of asylum seekers in France is said to have increased by 22%. This is supposed to highlight a serious problem. But the members of parliament who keep repeating this number forget to add that France is a long way behind all the other European countries. In proportion to the population, 22% puts France in 11th position for asylum seekers in Europe. In actual fact, the number remains more or less the same from year to year.
The Macronists also put forward the same absurdities as the Lepenists and the right wing say about misuse of state medical aid (AME). This aid allows illegal immigrants to receive treatment for some illnesses. Although he later withdrew his words, Stanislas Guerini, businessman and leader of La République en marche (Macron’s party), had the nerve to say that AME was being used for breast implants! AME in fact only reimburses the basic Social Security tarifs and 70% is used for hospital treatment for tuberculosis, AIDS and childbirth. Doctors all point out that AME is a matter of public health.
The opponents of AME say that its cost, one billion euros, is exorbitant. But have we heard them criticizing the three billion excess fees charged by doctors? And let’s not forget that the richest people immediately pledged that amount to save Notre-Dame de Paris!
But the real problem concerns the women and men who are forced to migrate because they can’t live in their own country. It concerns those who risk their lives to reach Europe, where the government turns them into pariahs. It concerns the badly-paid workers who, for years, have kept the kitchens in the top restaurants running, dealt with the laundry in palaces, delivered Chronopost parcels and meals. They make the economy work, pay taxes and social contributions but have no rights. Saying that immigration costs a lot is a sick joke.
What’s the cost of the Algerian and Moroccan workers who came to France in the 1950s and 60s? They worked their whole lives in mines, construction and the toughest factories and now have to live on a retirement pension of 800 or 900 euros.
Immigrant workers are the most exploited members of the working class. No construction site, no cleaning or security company, no airport, no car plant could function without them.
There are often 10 or 20 different nationalities in one plant. That means there are as many different languages and cultures. But the fatigue, the pain, the money problems are the same for everyone. And all workers share the same fundamental interests: keeping their job, defending their salary and their working conditions.
Because we are workers, we need to stick together and fight against the big bosses who, for their own gain, try to divide workers and weaken them. We need to oppose all those who, through racist stupidity or sectarianism, help to divide us and play into the hands of the bosses.
On a political level, it means rejecting both Macron and Le Pen. Accusing a scapegoat, dividing the working class is a tactic as old as exploitation itself. Those who play that game are the enemies of the working class.