Pensions, inflation, war: capitalism must be overthrown!

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
May 1, 2023

With 300 rallies across the country, hundreds of thousands of workers took to the streets on May Day to show that their opposition to retirement at 64 is still intact. Those who demonstrated showed that they haven’t given up and they’re right!

How can we put it all behind when extra months or years of work lie ahead of us? How can we not be angry with a government that spends its time deploring inflation and the massive drop in purchasing power without ever confronting the capitalists who are responsible for this situation?

Behind Macron and his arrogance there’s the bourgeoisie. The capitalists are the ones who are pushing back workers’ rights and bringing down our buying power while accumulating wealth like never before. The bourgeoisie is fighting the class war and it never stops. There’s no reason for workers to lower their guard.

We must fight the battles we are faced with, as best as we can, no matter what the outcome. Through these battles we must strengthen our side, both numerically and politically. With soaring prices, the trade war and international tensions it’s clear that the sacrifices that the bourgeoisie and the politicians at its service impose on us are far from over. There is also the deficit and the threat of another world war menacing us. We cannot let those leading society reign freely!

Class war will just keep going until the workers take it to the end, that is by overthrowing the capitalist order. And workers must organize with this aim.

May Day has long been a symbol of this revolutionary prospect. In 1889, May 1 was chosen by the Socialist parties that made up the Workers’ International to call on workers from around the world to go on strike to demand collectively an eight-hour work day.

In many countries, it was a declaration of war against the bosses who considered themselves all-powerful and banned unions and strikes. That’s still the case today in some countries. May Day is not “Labor Day” as some call it. It symbolizes the fight against wage-labor slavery, against the domination of the bourgeoisie which, through exploitation, maintains its extravagant privileges at the expense of the majority of society. May Day was a means of affirming that society should be led by the workers themselves, and it must remain so.

It is necessary to revive this revolutionary and internationalist class-consciousness because there won’t be any emancipation for workers so long as they are forced to sell their labor power and submit to a boss, according to his moods and customer orders.

And what is capitalism bringing us to? Those leading society today are not attentive to or concerned about our collective well-being. Society is run by the financial markets, the stock markets and rating agencies.

Instead of bringing more equality, peace and progress to the world, capitalism is pitting workers against one another by making them compete for the crumbs the bourgeoisie is willing to let them have. It’s keeping the poorest regions of the world under oppression and in poverty. It’s destroying the planet, maintaining nationalism, militarism and war. Capitalism is stopping all of society from moving forward.

So, conquering some right or another or waiting for the next round of elections to change those in power cannot be our only horizon. There can be no good president, parliament or constitution within the framework of this unjust and exploitative system.

Our horizon cannot be limited to national borders either. They only serve to divide workers and to secure the interests of the imperialist powers. Exploitation has no borders. The workers in poor countries are often exploited by the same bourgeoisie as those in rich countries, so there mustn’t be any borders between workers!

As Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels stated, workers make up one whole social class across all borders, a class which “has nothing to lose but its chains”.

So, yes, the working class must defend itself toe-to-toe with the bosses, but we must also keep a revolutionary current alive, a current capable of maintaining the will to overthrow capitalism on an international scale, the only scale possible.

Nathalie Arthaud