FRANCE: We Want to Live Working, or Die Fighting

The following is a translation of an editorial from the comrades at La Cause du Peuple

On November 17, 2018, the levies broke, and a river of anger poured forth. Strategic locations occupied, toll booths opened, the economy at a standstill, central bourgeois cities devastated: the workers organized against the price hike.

On November 24, December 1, and December 8, the neighborhoods in the East of Paris were attacked and the police withdrew.

December 6, the cops forced high schoolers in Mantes-la-Jolie to their knees to demonstrate to the combative masses that they must respect order. Locations of power were set on fire and defaced. Politicians and high officials were taken to task near their very homes. Two-thirds of automatic speed radars were out of order. Street traffic was partially controlled by the popular masses themselves. At certain toll booths, like those in the north of Bordeaux or in Nord Pas de Calais, there were thousands of people every day occupying and confronting the police until night.

Beyond the prices, there is a cry of rage, the same cry uttered by the Canuts [silk workers from Lyon, subjected to poor working conditions, who revolted in the 19th century]: “We want to live working, or die fighting!” We no longer want this life. So, the young workers have decided to fight.

2005 and 2018 were two winters of fighting for dignity. Against the indignity of the life of a worker, today in the soulless suburban and poor countryside areas, yesterday in the neighborhoods of the masses.

Then there are the opportunists, the “apolitical” politicians, who have brought forth their ancient reformist recipes. Demands like the return of the ISF [the solidarity tax on wealth] or the RIC [the Citizens’ Initiative Referendum] divert the masses from fighting for real power, that of directly overseeing and managing society. They are putting people to sleep with films, debates, seminars, and conferences, rather than practicing politics in the streets and creating fighting organizations.

But the anger, the rage, are always there. The violence has never diminished the popular masses’ support for the yellow vests. The “sans plomb 95” (a type of petrol) is on the verge of €1.70 a liter. Food prices increased an average of 6% during the winter, and more than 20% for the least expensive products. Electricity is skyrocketing.

Therefore, we must start over from zero. Take up the teachings and lessons from the yellow vest movement and build a front against costly living conditions. Take up the practice of picketing by blocking, by slowing down exchange to the speed of a snail. Take the toll booths, burn the speed radars, destroy the parking pay terminals. Sabotage and blockades, organize strikes. The methods that led to the success of yesterday’s proletarian movements must be revived, because if not this movement will fall apart!