It’s called democracy but it’s the bourgeoisie that rules

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
April 17, 2023

When the Constitutional Council gave its green light, Macron rushed the law through on Saturday at 3.26 a.m. And on Monday evening’s 8 o’clock news, he was trying to turn the page.

With his typical arrogance and habitual lies, he justified imposing two full extra years on all workers. As if to soften the blow, he gave us meaningless talk about wages and buying power.

It was a poor and pointless act. Macron’s no longer alone in making decisions about retirement age: millions of workers have expressed themselves and fought against this attack. And they have no reason whatsoever to turn the page.

Even if a law has been passed, it can still be challenged! Our strikes and demonstrations bother Macron? All the more reason to carry on and even to include our demands for higher wages indexed on prices!

The government has explained that the law followed “the democratic path”. Well of course it said that! The government thinks it’s democracy when 577 representatives vote in a law that affects millions of workers who have almost unanimously rejected it! And when it’s worried that Parliament won’t vote for the law, it brings in its biggest weapon – article 49.31 – to avoid a vote altogether. The Constitution allows it, so it must be democratic!

The law’s final stage of legitimization is to go before the Constitutional Council. Nine members, with the pompous title of “the wise men”, are supposed to guarantee that everything has been done according to the rules of democracy. Among them there are of course no manual laborers, no home helps or nursing aides, no warehouse workers, no drivers… just former Prime Ministers, like Fabius and Juppé, top civil servants and ENA2 graduates, all faithful servants of the bourgeois order.

Obviously, for all of them, democracy is anything you please except for taking into account what the vast majority of the population wants!

There’s only one conclusion to be drawn: the whole state apparatus, government, parliament, the Constitutional Council, relying of course on repressive forces, are not designed to reflect what the working class thinks or to serve the people but to serve the interests of the capitalist minority that is pulling all the strings.

The big bourgeoisie, with billionaires like Bernard Arnault (LVMH) and Françoise Meyers-Bettencourt (L’Oréal) in the front row, dominates the economy through the private ownership of companies, banks, distribution networks. In doing this, it governs social life, imbuing it with its values, its interests. To keep its political system working, it has top civil servants and politicians who are totally devoted to the bourgeoisie and, most of the time, come from within its ranks.

Not one of Macron’s opponents, not Le Pen, not Mélenchon, has imagined a different future than this society of exploitation and social classes where the interests of financiers and industrialists are imposed on everyone.

Le Pen promises to revoke retirement at 64 if she is elected in 2027. But no opposition leader has ever revoked any earlier reform despite their promises and Le Pen is just as attached and devoted to the bourgeois world as any other politician.

As for Mélenchon’s proposition of a 6th Republic, it wouldn’t change the fundamental problem, i.e. the need to challenge the power that the bourgeoisie and its billions hold over our lives, over society and over the future of humanity.

The current fight has made many workers realize that, behind Macron’s contempt, it is both the bourgeoisie’s desire and interest to take back as many workers’ rights as possible. They have come to understand what class war is. And this awareness must be strengthened and must spread.

Understanding who our real enemies are is all the more necessary because the hardest fights lie ahead. Capitalism has reached its limits and workers are already paying for it through price explosions, intensified exploitation and job insecurity. The vicious competition between the big trust companies means that social war against workers is intensifying and can even lead to real, generalized war. The war in Ukraine and the endless wars in the Middle East and Africa must be seen as warning signals.

Over the past three months, we have re-learned how to discuss, organize and fight back. We have used our workers’ strength. We need to keep adding consciousness to that strength so that we can focus on the only worthwhile goal: that of completely overthrowing the bourgeois order.

Nathalie Arthaud

1 Article 49 paragraph 3 (49.3) can be used during the examination of a bill in public session in the National Assembly to allow the bill to be adopted without a vote. If the Prime Minister makes that decision, it means that the discussion of the bill is immediately suspended and the text is considered to be adopted without being submitted to a vote. It can only be stopped if a motion of no-confidence is tabled within 24 hours.

2 ENA – Ecole Nationale d’Administration – is a school for top civil servants. Created in 1945 when France needed to rebuild its civil service after WWII, it is considered to be the most promising way to enter politics. The entrance exam is open to everyone but recent studies have shown that the intake is most likely to be of children of wealthy families, often with past links to the school.