---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Giorgos Mitralias <giorgos.mitral...@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, Feb 3, 2023, 14:13

[image: 2023 02 01 01 gallia]
*France: towards a social explosion of historic proportions!*

by *Yorgos Mitralia**s*

*The international media may say hardly a word, but that does not mean that
**these days France is not being shaken by the biggest social eruption of
the last several decades! In particular, **on Tuesday January 31st the
demonstrations against Macron's pension reform were the most massive in the
country for 30 years (a total of 2.5 million demonstrators, according to
the unions), bigger even than those of the historic, victorious and
enduring mobilisation of 1995 which accelerated the fall of Chirac! This is
not because the trade unions and the left say so, but, according to the
estimate of the number of demonstrators made public by President Macron's
own government and its police.*

So, if we take into account the fact that everyone realises that we are
only at the beginning of a social explosion that is "doomed" to be
radicalised and to last, then we can perhaps understand the historical
dimensions of the events that are taking place and will take place in
France. In this France which, let us not forget, has been for some
centuries the permanent social and revolutionary "barometer" of the whole
of Europe.

But what makes the current French social explosion so special and so
promising? First of all, it is its unprecedented, specific characteristics.
In particular, it is the * unity of all the trade unions*, which we have
not seen for at least 20 years. And it is not only that the class struggle
workers' Confederations such as the historic CGT and the much younger and
more radical SUDs are deciding together with the traditionally far more
moderate CFDT. It is also that the white collars unions and other employees
unions are also coordinating with them and, of course, taking part in mass
strikes and demonstrations. And it is that the ever-increasing
participation of private sector wage earners is impressive. And that along
side, a multitude of other trade unions and professional associations are
militantly participating and supporting - from the farmers of the Peasant
Confederation to the bakers who are going bankrupt as they have been hit by
an unprecedented crisis and half of them are expected to close by the
coming March or April! And of course, it is that the French public supports
the mobilisations and is consistently (at 70%-80%) against Macron's reform
which has caused his already poor popularity to plummet week by week.

It is also that we are also witnessing the phenomenon -unthinkable 20-30
years ago- of the most massive demonstrations taking place in the
provinces, in small towns and even more so in towns of 10,000-20,000
inhabitants who traditionally vote for the right! Both in the first
demonstrations on 19 January, and those 11 days later, there were numerous
cases of provincial towns of 10,000-30,000 inhabitants where a quarter or
even a third of the population took part in the demonstrations. And this
all over France. [1]

And finally ,it is that in addition to the more or less well-known
vanguards and members of the trade unions, these demonstrations were
attended by people of all ages, professions and occupations, as well as
very many people who were joining a demonstration for the first time in
their lives, the so-called "primo-demonstrators". But what do these
unprecedented events reveal and how can they be explained? First of all,
they reveal what is well-known in Macron's France: the *immense hatred*
that the overwhelming majority of its citizens harbour for the country's
president and his cabal. We are not dealing here with any antipathy or even
with our familiar oppositional fury. We are dealing here with an abysmal
hatred that is permanently fuelled by the arrogance of the conceited and
egotistical neoliberal president-monarch who is used to humiliating his
'subjects', and this hatred is now finding a golden opportunity to manifest
itself centrally in a social outburst that has, moreover, a very good
chance of spreading and winning. This is because it concerns an issue of
existential dimensions, such as the increase in the retirement age to 64
years, which translates into the inventive but macabre slogan of today's
demonstrators,* 'metro-boulot-tombeau', i.e. 'metro-work-tomb'*. But also
in their militant and so eloquent conclusion, in the even more inventive
pun '*Tu nous mets 64-on te mai68'. That is, "you give us 64, we give you
May 68*"...

But what makes all commentators and "analysts" - even right-wing ones -
believe that we are still only at the beginning of the social mobilisation
and that it will escalate and become radicalised. First of all, it is all
the specific characteristics that we have mentioned quite briefly, namely
its rare quality. It is also the particular characteristics of Macron
himself and the government of his Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, that
make them neither willing nor able to make the slightest substantial
concession any longer. Macron in particular is well aware that any retreat
would mean the end of him and that is why he shows and says that he is
determined not to take back his reform and that raising the retirement age
to 64 is ''non-negotiable''.

The result, among other things, is that a wind of panic is beginning to
blow through the right-wing French bourgeois establishment as more and more
of its agents (media, various elites, politicians etc), and even French
employers, seem to be very worried about the "irresponsible president" who
is "leading the country to catastrophe" with a totally uncertain outcome.
As a direct consequence, even members of the presidential party - besieged
by their disgruntled constituents - are beginning to doubt and threaten
that they might not vote for the infamous bill in a French Parliament where
- let's not forget - Macron and his party are in the minority and urgently
need the support of the traditional right-wing Republican MPs (LR,
Sarkozy's party) who also seem to be less certain allies.

The conclusion is that *the conditions are almost ideal for the escalation
and radicalisation of the historic outburst in French society,* which can
also boast of an additional and not insignificant political success: the
striking isolation of Mrs Le Pen and her far-right party which is
conspicuously absent from the demonstrations. But it is obvious that its
further development, generalisation and radicalisation will largely depend
on what Macron himself fears more than anything else: the strengthening of
the mass movement by the youth of the high schools and universities, who
are already taking their first steps in this direction blockading schools,
occupying university faculties and organising general assemblies that
democratically decide on the continuation of the struggle.

So our attention is on France, which is beginning to look like a volcano
about to erupt. Already in the next few days, strikes and blockades in
refineries, transport and other public services are beginning, which could
result in the country coming to a standstill. The next strikes and street
demonstrations across France, decided jointly by the trade unions, are
scheduled for 7 and 11 February. Without a doubt, something very big is
already beginning to emerge on the social horizon of France...


1. A glimpse of the demonstrations of January 31st is given by the videos
and photos and (humorous) comments from all over France sent by ordinary
citizens and hosted by twitter :

[image: 2023 02 01 02 gallia]

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