France

The Paris Commune and the Union des Femmes

2021 marks the 150th anniversary of the Paris Commune; the moment that the working class seized political power for the first time, and held it for 72 days. Thousands of women took part in the events of the Commune and, against a backdrop of deep-rooted sexism, championed a revolutionary vision for the transformation of working class women’s lives. Paris under siege Life was hard for women in Paris in the mid-19th century. They worked long hours in back-breaking jobs and, with onerous domestic chores and squalid, overcrowded housing, homelife was little better. The majority of Parisian women...

6 January 2021, 6 February 1934

Many historians, in hindsight, regard the 6 February 1934 attempt by mostly far-right army-veteran groups to storm France’s Chamber of Deputies, over a corruption scandal, as a blip. They can make a case. The 6 February riot was smaller than 4 January’s in Washington. The police were solid against it, indeed shot down the protesters, killing 16 and injuring 600-odd. The riot never got near breaching the parliament building. The biggest contingent, the Croix du Feu, went home when trouble started. Politically, the protest was a mix of small groups. The French far right in 1934 was weaker than...

London protest against Macron's "global security" law

Over 100 people protested in Trafalgar Square on Sunday 29/11/20 against the new "global security" law being pushed by President Macron in France. The demonstration followed on a protest of tens of thousands in Paris on 28/11/20, and many others in other cities. The law contains a clause to ban the taking and distribution of pictures of police activity if that is judged to prejudice the "physical or psychic integrity" of the cops. It has gone through the lower house of the French Parliament, but not yet the upper house, and following protests Macron says he will consider amendments. The...

Macron's sledgehammer and the nut

CFCM has proposed, and Macron has accepted, the idea of a national register of imams run by CFCM, but how will that work given that most mosques do not recognise CFCM?

French teachers strike

School teachers in France struck on 10 November to demand better virus controls in schools. Their demands included: • Rota systems, with students in school half-time, to allow half-size classes • More staff, again to facilitate smaller classes • Better ventilation and cleaning • Free masks. (Masks are compulsory in French schools). Unions report a 45% turnout for the strike from junior high schools and 20% from primary. In some areas students blockaded senior high schools in the days before the strike as an act of solidarity. On 5 November, the government tried to deflect the strike by...

Murdered by fascists

The French socialist group Lutte Ouvrière has responded to the murder on 16 October of school teacher Samuel Paty, targeted because he let students view the famous “Mohammed cartoons” in a lesson on freedom of expression. “An 18-year-old fanatic, influenced by the fascists of the Muslim world (called Islamists), has killed a school teacher who had displayed the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. Because of those lowlifes who want to impose their moral order on us, Muslims will be singled out. Dividing us is their ultimate goal. These types feed on each other. Other fascists have been seen attacking...

Stand and be counted

This article by the Algerian socialist-feminist Marieme Helie Lucas, responding to the beheading of French teacher Samuel Paty by an Islamist assailant on 16 October, was first published on the Feminist Dissent website. We republish it, with the author's permission, to promote discussion. Assassinations by decapitation or by the sword – which are highly symbolic of all Muslim extreme-right organisations (Al Qaeda, the Taliban, GIA, al-Shabab, Daesh, Boko Haram, etc.) – are not a new phenomenon in France. Several cases have already happened in recent years. It points at the will of the...

Virus: indict the Tories!

Of people who test positive for the virus and should self-isolate, only 20% or fewer are doing so fully. That’s an official estimate. No one knows what percentage of people who are identified as contacts of the infected — and may be infectious themselves, without having symptoms — are self-isolating. Most people asked to self-isolate get no or minimal isolation pay, so isolated properly is economically difficult or impossible. Of those who do self-isolate, many can do so only in overcrowded housing. However careful they are, they’re likely to infect others there. In New Zealand, the government...

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