France Election: Macron, New Face of Fascism
Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 6:45PM
Challenge_DesafĂ­o

The election of ex-investment banker Emmanuel Macron as president of France reflects the global crisis of capitalism. Like all other capitalist powers, the French ruling class has responded with rising fascism and heightened attacks on the working class. Like Donald Trump (and Barack Obama before him), who has surrounded himself with Wall Street bankers, French finance capital is maneuvering to maintain its rule.
Beneath Macron’s liberal, “pro-immigrant” rhetoric, this so-called outsider and his “independent” political party (En Marche!) received the full backing of France’s political elites, with unlimited media and financial support. Simultaneously, he effectively isolated the mainstream capitalist parties that have lost credibility with French workers.
Trending Decline and Disarray
Faced with an unsustainable budget deficit, the French bosses are in a bind. Heading into the April 23 presidential election and the runoff two weeks later, they knew that their next president would need to escalate the rulers’ attacks on the working class. The rulers want to eliminate job protections and to slash spending on pensions, health care, family allowances, and unemployment benefits—which altogether account for more than a third of France’s Gross Domestic Product (www.thelocal.fr, 12/22/16). Since the 1980s, the French government has either partially or fully privatized many national industries, including Air France, France Telecom and Renault.  However, the government still plays a role in certain key national sectors, such as agriculture and healthcare, including labor protection laws that are cutting into the profits and competitiveness of the French bosses (Focus Economics May 2017).
Macron has already promised to pursue the anti-worker labor reforms of his unpopular “Socialist” Party predecessor, Francois Hollande, including attacks on unions and collective bargaining, prohibition of strikes, and cuts to social benefits, while privatizing health care and education.  The French ruling class hopes that Macron can do so while winning mass applause instead of mass upheaval. The more openly fascist National Front’s Marine Le Pen, the losing candidate in the May election runoff, had similar proposals to Macron on the domestic front, but likely would have generated the intense opposition the U.S. ruling class now faces with the anti-Trump movement.  It’s hard to attack the workers and mobilize for war when the workers are on strike and fighting back in the streets!  It’s no surprise that  Obama endorsed Macron three days before the election.  
The French bosses are learning from the experience of the U.S. ruling class. For more than 30 years, the U.S. rulers have attacked wages and pensions and privatized the healthcare and education systems with relatively little fightback. Tens of millions of workers—including super-exploited black workers—have been misled and pacified by the Democratic Party.  In the 1990s, President Bill Clinton signed trade agreements that eliminated decent-paying factory jobs, mostly eliminated welfare, unleashed 100,000 more racist cops on the streets, and created the largest prison population in the world, filled with mostly Black and Latin workers. Then Obama—who, like Macron, campaigned on a “pro-immigrant” platform—deported more immigrant workers than any president in U.S. history.  
In France, Macron plans to add his “shiny new face” of liberal fascism with promises to add 10,000 more cops and 5,000 more border cops, to increase the National Guard to 85,000, and to expand their prison detention centers by 15,000 additional spaces—policies in step with those advocated by Le Pen (French Institute of International Relations, April 2017).
For French finance capital, however, Macron’s victory fails to solve the fundamental problem every ruling power faces as inter-imperialist rivals prepare for the next global war. The bosses must win the allegiance of the working class and unite workers behind their patriotic agenda while at the same time waging vicious racist, sexist attacks.  Even with Macron as an option, 25 percent of all eligible French voters abstained from casting a ballot, the highest proportion since 1969. An additional 25 percent of those voting for Macron did so only as a vote against Le Pen. (CNN, 5/8).
La Lutte
Last summer, when Macron was Hollande’s economy minister, and the country was gripped with violent protests over government attempts to eliminate job security and the 35-hour work week, Macron was pelted with eggs, one landing directly on his shiny, new face.
In the weeks leading up to this spring’s elections, masses of high school and college students, deciding that neither Macron nor Le Pen were acceptable choices for their future, waged a no-voting campaign. Led by the slogan, “No Fatherland, No Boss, No Le Pen, No Macron,” youth hit the streets around the country to protest French imperialism. Two thousand turned out in the western French city of Rennes. In Paris, protests blocked entrances to 20 high schools.
These bold youth faced off against police in riot gear, who attacked them with tear gas. While denouncing Le Pen’s racist nationalism and Macron’s pro-business front is a start, only a communist movement can bring the change these young people seek. Only a communist revolution, led by Progressive Labor Party, can smash the bosses and their Fatherland and create a new society: “One Party, One World, One Class.”
While workers in the U.S. have seen an uptick in fightback against the Trump administration, it remains to be seen if Macron can effectively mislead and mute workers as effectively as Obama did in the U.S. Nonetheless, the fake left in France has shown its true colors by selling out the working class to the banks and capitalist system.  And while Le Pen lost the election, her openly fascist party received more mass support from our class than ever.  
No electoral capitalist party can defend workers against rising fascism. Only a revolutionary communist party like PLP can fight for the interests and needs of our class. Join us!

 

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French Imperialist Role

Despite the decline and fall of their colonial empire, the French bosses retain an interest in playing an imperialist role on the world stage. The National Front’s Marine Le Pen took an isolationist stance, calling for French withdrawal from NATO and the European Union, and rejection of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).  Additionally she argued for lifting sanctions and making an alliance with Russia. Her movement stands in contradiction to the French bosses’ pro-U.S. and pro-Europe stance since World War II through the alliances with other European countries and the United States. Macron’s more traditional positions won him the main bosses’ backing and ultimately won him the election.
While calling for cuts in public spending and attacks on workers, Macron is promoting French imperialism by supporting increased spending on the military and its adventures around the world.  The French military, the largest in Europe at 205,000-strong, is actively planning to modernize its nuclear weapons. It has 30,000 troops deployed in Africa and the Middle East, in its support of the U.S.-led imperialist “war on terror.”
Under “Operation Chammal,” the French army has a full battery of Caesar 155mm gun-howitzers, along with French Rafale fighter aircraft, fighting alongside U.S. forces in their oil war in Iraq and Syria.  The French rulers continue their imperialist ravaging of Africa for oil and minerals in Libya and their “Operation Barkhane” in Mali, Mauretania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad (U.S. Department of Defense, Jan 2017).

Article originally appeared on The Revolutionary Communist Progressive Labor Party (http://www.plp.org/).
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