Freedom News

France: Our Future Belongs to Us

The following text, first published at Paris-Luttes is taken from an as yet unpublished pamphlet produced in the wake of the French elections. Its authors intend to release further chapters in due course.

“The sheep go to the slaughterhouse. They say nothing to each other, and they hope for nothing. But at least they don’t vote for the butcher who will kill them, and for the bourgeois who will eat them. Dumber than beasts, more sheep-like than sheep, the elector appoints his butcher and chooses his bourgeois. He made revolutions to conquer this right.”

~Octave Mirbeau, The Voters’ Strike, 1888

Behind the crisis of democracy, we see the agony of bourgeois democracy and the decay of its co-management tool, social democracy. The opposition between bourgeois democracy and dictatorship, once presented as two irreconcilable political forms, is now over. Social democracy, whose vestiges are struggling to maintain their integrity, is a little more outdated every day. It has been overtaken by the course of history and the evolution of relations between classes, and can only yield to the contradiction between its roots in liberal democracy and the logical consequences of its project of collaboration between classes. 

No alliance, no front is possible with the reformist forces. On the one hand, because these organisations aspire to govern us, when we wish to govern ourselves. On the other hand, because the institutional legitimacy and practical means (funding, premises, printing and communication tools, etc.) at their disposal would immediately make us dependent on their goodwill. Finally, because there is no reason for the institutional left to depart from its history. 

In 1914, the left joined the Sacred Union and sent millions of proletarians to die in the open mass graves of the First World War. In 1919, across the Rhine, the left sent in fascist militias to crush workers’ uprisings in Berlin and Bavaria. In 1940, the overwhelming majority of left-wing deputies voted to give full powers to Marshal Pétain

In May 1968 it was the union branch of the institutional left which prevented revolutionary students from fraternizing with Renault Billancourt workers, who denounced factory occupations as “leftist drift”, and who signed the Grenelle agreements to restore order in the country. The following year, in Belgium, this same trade union left designated 61 workers as leaders of a wildcat strike by Citroën Brussels to the police and had them arrested. 

It was the left in power that made Le Penist speeches visible and normalised: in 1981, François Mitterrand of the Socialist Party intervened in person to provide Jean-Marie Le Pen (Marine’s fascist father) with airtime, in order to divide the right and push back the (conservative) RPR. Between 2015 and 2017 it was the left, again in power, that accelerated the course of neoliberal structural reforms, established the state of emergency and modernised the security State’s legal paraphernalia. It is from its flank, finally, that Macronism was born, the culmination of decades of social-liberal compromises which aimed at retaining power, and seems to complete the only real achievement of this left: to pave the way for fascism in the name of the republican values ​​by increasingly arming the State, which we have known since the early beginnings of the workers’ movement to be the instrument of the exploiting class.

It’s said we should place our hopes and confidence in the projects of former left allies of this faction who, now more radical and therefore presentable than a Macron, would replace it and serve their time in power. No thanks. Ballot boxes are for the dead. The massive abstentionism that characterised this last wave of elections (50% in the European elections, 65% in the regional elections, 58% in the municipal elections, 28% in the second round of the presidential elections, not counting those not registered), as well as the rejection of institutional politics by the largest protest movement that France has known for half a century, are there to remind us of this.

Left of the crisis

“If an uprising were to occur in the near future, the revolution should shatter the chrysalis of the left in which it grew and take flight. Otherwise, the dead weight of politics will once again lead us to defeat.”

~ Your Lazy Comrades, The Interregnum, 2022

It is clear that the institutional left (more or less radical, but all equally eager to govern us), is not providing any concrete response either to the crisis of democracy or to the generalised crisis of capitalism. The “socialist” left has done just the opposite with, roughly, Mitterand’s “austerity turn” of 1983 and the Labour Law of 2016. The trade union left, or rather what is left of it given the rate of unionisation in France, has long since ended up becoming the tool of co-management and bastard social pacification to which its subjugation under the parliamentary left always destined it. The “radical” left, for its part, reheats the old Keynesian programs which had failed in 1981-1982 and caused the austerity turn, while continuing to hitch their discourse and projects to a double objective of economic growth and soothing antagonisms within the national framework. 

Growth is the accumulation of profit through the exploitation of workers. Placing it in the hands of a republican and “moral” state takes nothing away from the capitalist nature of the project. Collaboration between classes under the national flag is a program of fascism. Making a neocolonial country more inclusive does not take away from the reactionary nature of that nation. The “anti-capitalist” left is so residual, entangled in its contradictions and clownish that it would be a shame to forget it: The Trotskyists who split and neutralise each other in a race for signatures. The insurrectionists with inaudible speeches and specialised riot violence. The Communists, scattered and incapable of producing any critical theory or coherent strategy. The libertarians who call for industrial relocation without realising that they are calling for the refounding of a national, and nationalised, industrial pole in the midst of the fascism of state and society.

Internationally, the positioning of the “radical” left which is most likely to come to power in the coming years is equally ridiculous. We must face the relationship of political forces like Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France Insoumise with international relations and the State. The fact that sovereignists on the line of Georges Kuzmanovic were able to find themselves in the ranks of this movement is not insignificant, but logical. 

The same goes for the passage of the most chauvinistic elements of France’s reformist formations into the fascist ranks on the eve and at the dawn of the Second World War. The ambiguity of Mélenchon’s positions on Russian power and its imperialist manoeuvres, or even on the legitimacy of Bashar Al-Assad’s regime, is not one of them. Just as the campism of the radical left only reflects their religion of the State and their inability to think politics beyond a bureaucratic government of the people. 

The leader of France Insoumise willingly defends the Bolivarian revolution and its authoritarian, bureaucratised and militarised state, as a capitalist manager of hydrocarbon resources. He hastened to greet Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a man “of the left” elected on false progressive promises not very different from those of our reformist leaders, and his desire to “break” with neoliberalism. Unsurprisingly, he immediately validated several megaprojects and continued his party’s efforts to neutralise autonomous indigenous authorities, whether through the creation of authorities competing with those of the Zapatistas or through active collaboration with paramilitaries. The “soft” left, for its part, has long since abandoned declaring its posturing oppositions in favour of complicit silences, and military interventions when in power.

What can we expect from these lefts, in the face of rampant modern barbarism and the permanent global state of exception? Nothing. We have to break with them.


“Republican parliamentarism, under the mask of myths that everyone knows to be damaged (legitimacy through the vote, rule of law, social justice), masks what it really is: a place of coagulation for different tendencies of the same political force, those of bourgeois representative democracy, heir to the tax system, constitutional monarchism and Jacobinism – all historical adversaries of direct democracy and the right of the people to govern themselves.”

~ Tibor, Against Politics, 2022

During the presidential electoral masquerade, the incumbent and big favorite in the polls refused to debate with his competitors. Power, embodied in the figure of the president, no longer even feels obliged to participate in its own staging. The monologue of power, whose vocabulary and communications are constantly nodding towards the extreme right, almost no longer seeks to disguise itself as a democratic dialogue. 

Politics is a separate sphere of life, over which we have no power. The rise of abstentionism in the working classes, which comes to undermine the founding myth of bourgeois democracy, is undoubtedly the most important fact of our time: voting is useless, no radical change in the situation in which we find will not come about by the power of the ballot. The more we turn away from alienating forms of politics, the more we show ourselves capable of working out our own, spontaneous and instinctive, and of choosing their content ourselves. We have nothing to expect from this left, and everything to gain by breaking with it.

Breaking with this left does not only mean denouncing its adherence to the murderous myths of the nation-state and its crucial role in the stability of the class system, to which it brings its moral legitimacy. It is to break with the bourgeois prudishness of our “allies” of the radical camp who, too fearful and too conformist to get rid of old habits, still think that a unity of the various sectors of those who claim to change society can have an effect. 

These people feed on illusions. Hope, which justifies not going to the end of one’s convictions by relying on the idea of ​​a miracle thanks to the vote or to any spontaneity. Martyrology, which justifies not thinking further about the nature of our discourse, automatically adopting an emotional response to political issues. Folklorism and the fetishism of struggle, which justify not thinking about the problems of our time with our own weapons, by contenting ourselves with recovering outdated tools and damaged figures from a history that is nevertheless rich in lessons. The convergence of struggles, ie. the supreme illusion that a common front of the entire left can win under cover of a refusal to assume the contradiction – which systematically benefits the most reformist sectors and those most in favor of the status quo

To break with this left is to get rid of the illusions necessary for the functioning of the system. As long as these self-serving lies serve to tilt those who aspire to overthrow the system towards the comfortable entrenchment of follower and reformist positions, towards the pleasant lie of a circular, fixed action; as long as these lies serve as moral legitimacy for irresponsibility, cowardice and the inability to organise and fight effectively, then there will be no movement strong enough to curb bourgeois democracy and capital.

Our strength depends on our ability to go to the wall for our convictions, to refuse to compromise with anything that seeks to integrate our criticism into the system in order to better neutralise it. Because the revolution is not an extension of reform: it is a way which simply understands that any idea of ​​a reforming camp of society, of human progress opposed to the conservatism of the dominant, of a democracy improve or reform, is a confusion maintained by the system. 

The very idea that we could temporarily make a pact with the “less left,” the timid reformers, the Sunday revolutionaries, is a recurrent impasse of the labour movement which has always led to the same ridiculous defeat: the betrayal of the most advanced sectors of the protest once their work has been accomplished. The reality is that the vast majority of workers, oppressed, leftists, must be uprooted by demonstration and uncompromising criticism from statist and reformist mythologies. 

Out of conformism and followership, the old political forces for the preservation of society retain the adhesion of the masses. To destroy this blockage, it is necessary to get rid of all adhesion to the comfortable lies of a unity of goals which simply requires choosing the best of a bad bunch. We want to completely change the system, they want to keep it more sympathetic.


This is an edited machine translation of a text that first appeared on Paris Luttes. Any problems with it, let us know!

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