Re: "LCR/LO: Shall we dance?" (Solidarity 3/36)
In 1999, the joint list of Lutte Ouvrière (LO) and the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (LCR) allowed the election of five far-left deputies (three for LO and two for the LCR) to the European Parliament. Unfortunately, this success was not followed by any joint activity of the two organisations to combat together the capitalist policies of the Jospin government.
In 2002, LO and the LCR each had their own candidate, Arlette Laguiller for LO and Olivier Besancenot for the LCR. That did not hamper the electoral gains of each, so strong was the rejection of the policies of the Jospin government among left voters. The French Communist Party (PCF) arrived behind both of the two Trotskyist candidates taken alone: a first since the founding of the PCF in 1920!
Since Chirac's victory, 5 May 2002, the bosses' and governmental offensive aims to do to the workers what Reagan and Thatcher did to the workers of their countries from the start of the 1980s. The re-election of Chirac and the right in 2007 depends on them inflicting the social defeat as quickly as possible. However, the reactions of the workers in May-June 2003 against the attacks on pensions and against decentralisation shows that the right cannot afford to celebrate yet.
On the contrary, after the trouble created on the left by the vote for Chirac, and despite the role of the Socialist Party (PS) and the PCF, the will to resist of the militants and the workers has been displayed several times in a striking manner. Last 9 January, the majority of the workers at Electricité De France-Gaz De France [EDF-GDF] rejected the proposal to review their pensions which was supposed to accompany the privatisation of their business. From February to May, the demonstrations to defend pensions grew larger. And, finally, with the launching of strikes in state education against decentralisation, the strikes and the demonstrations against the Fillon plan for pensions brought the country to the brink of a general strike which was only averted thanks to the efforts of the trade union bureaucrats to prevent it. We can say that the size of the movement was bigger than that of November-December 1995. This situation is favourable to the emergence of a new anti-capitalist and socialist party of the workers.
Unfortunately, it is not in this state of mind that LO and the LCR are positioning themselves. The electoral law, modified to the detriment of the small parties, pushes the union between LO and the LCR but only from the standpoint of cynical calculation. LO doesn't want an electoral campaign that includes groups or militants from the critical left wing of the PS or the PCF, who are numerous today. LO won't countenance voting in the second round of the regional elections for candidates of the PS or PCF left against those of the right. And LO has done all it can to caricature its position in denigrating the "another world is possible" militants and the rights of women and gays in the letters it has sent to the LCR leadership.
There is reason to fear that this will be a LO-LCR alliance whose motivations are only electoralist (how many votes, how many elected for our organisations?), one which isn't concerned to assist the birth of a new left political force that would effectively combat the Chirac-Raffarin government and would offer a political solution to the current social battles.
Whereas in Britain, the problem of the survival and the growth of the Socialist Alliance depends on the policy of the SWP which is stifling it, in France, by contrast, the attitude of LO and the LCR could block the appearance of a French version of the Socialist Alliance. Moreover, the leaders of the LCR explicitly conceive of their electoral campaign with LO as different from their activity in the mass movement and different from their efforts to regroup the anti-capitalist left. They call this: desynchronisation.
Instead of doing the same thing, conducting the same policy on the three terrains (elections, social battles, and the construction of a new anti-capitalist force), that is to say regrouping the real left to prepare to confront the right and the bosses, they change their policies according to the arena and who they are talking to. This cannot be productive!
The LCR congress which takes place from 30 October-2 November will be crucial to knowing how the far left is going to face the next elections.
As in 1999, LO-LCR electoral unity limited to three weeks, then no further common activity?
As in 2002, everyone gets a good score but everyone remains in their little corner, in their exclusion zone?
Or else all the forces of the left, which includes of the PS, of the PCF and of the the Greens, regroup to face the elections and the social battles together, thereby putting the downfall of Chirac and Raffarin on the order of the day?
France is far from being a country at peace. In a little over a year, millions of demonstrators have gone out on the streets several times. Between 21 April 2002 and 5 May 2002, against Le Pen explicitly and against Chirac implicitly. On 15 February 2003 against the war in Iraq. In May-June 2003, in defence of pensions and against privatisation/decentralisation.
That must now translate itself into a united response, not only to the elections, but also on the terrain of struggle! Not to do this is to allow Chirac-Raffarin to inflict severe blows on our social gains and liberties, and it is the way to open the path to Le Pen!