France: The Strike for Life

15th February 2023
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On the 19th of January 2023, France was paralysed by a cross-sector general strike as millions took to the streets to oppose the Macron government's proposed pension reform. This "reform" is set to not only raise the retirement age, but also to tighten the requirements for receiving a pension. To be blunt, the French capitalist state wants to work people to death. French anti-capitalists, including the country's eight largest trade unions, are organising to oppose this. As the general strike enters its fourth week, we present statements by three groups of the Francophone Anarchist Federation, who have joined the strike for life. Jusqu'à la victoire toujours.


Pensions: Can you see the work?

The technocrats of the start-up nation, worshippers of the globalised and competitive market, endowed with the empathy of a concrete block, promise us an economic slaughterhouse. Do you hear the noise of the chains that, in a morbid rhythm, grind all your working life? Do you still see the light beam of the screens that screw up your eyes? Do you feel the weight of the pallets that you have to unload? Do you measure the rhythm of your pedal turns, or of your packaging materials? Do you think of the weekends you spend editing often disastrous copies or the care that you take?

The State wants to set a legal retirement age of 64 and, to receive the full pension, you will have to have worked 43 years without a break such as redundancy, unemployment, illness, part-time work or pregnancy. Otherwise, you'll have to take a discount or work longer. They might as well say that you’ll only get your full pension in your grave, or with one foot in it…

LET'S NOT WASTE OUR LIVES EARNING IT!

Macron, Borne, Dussopt, the employers, all these crooks want us to work until we die. But the wealthy who have bankrolled their salaries will be exempted! For them, the discount should not be too harmful! The State is the expression of a class in power, that of the capitalists and stock marketers.

The government announces a deficit for pension funds of €12 billion euro in 2027... A trifle compared to the €150 billion in social security exemptions granted to companies, contributions which are, let's never forget, our deferred salary. Money? There is some! Let's think about the “whatever it costs” of the pandemic, the mega-profits of big companies, oil barons and iron mongers, the colossal sums that the State is going to commit to relaunching nuclear energy (and the radioactive waste that goes with it)…

The response must be proportionate to the seriousness of the attacks. Should we wait for the outcome of future elections? Beautiful promises that are never kept are only binding on those who listen to them. Should we wisely march on every day of action under the mocking gaze of the government, the bosses and their columnist mates? Should we rely on the trade union bureaucracies that have flinched on the railway workers’ scheme and keep their seats in the pyramid of power?

We choose to fight not to reduce the servitude of labour to the margins, but to break with its wage form by doing away with the logic of profit and market relations. The society that we must create together must guarantee the egalitarian redistribution of the wealth produced, ensure the satisfaction of material and intellectual needs, establish solidarity throughout our lives, promote public services... This is the opposite of the austerity plans and structural adjustments imposed by various governments of the right and left.

We don't have many ways to win: the general strike, with occupation of workplaces (factories, offices, warehouses, shops, etc.), symbolic places (public squares, roundabouts, etc.) and places of power (town halls, etc.), to establish the libertarian, self-managing and federated commune. This movement, which has become difficult (telework, precariousness, being forced to follow the rules, socio-cultural alienation, etc.), must already be based on the reclamation of production and consumption (cooperatives, Amap), on the restoration of small-scale cooperation anchored in a wider fabric!

Groupe Nestor Makhno - Loire


France, home of the crucifixion of man

The technocrats of the start-up nation, with the empathy of a granite stone, are creating a system of economic slavery. Do you hear the sound of the chains that, in a morbid rhythm, grind all your working life; you will end up crushed, broken, cracked, and often dead.

The State wants to set a legal retirement age of 64 and, to get the full rate, you will have to have worked 43 years without any breaks such as redundancy, unemployment, sickness, part-time work, or pregnancies; otherwise you will have to take a discount or work longer. You might as well say that your full pension will be in your grave.

Youth, rise up!

Macron, Borne, Dussopt, this trio of hustlers, want us all to work until we die. Except for the wealthy who will have bankrolled their salaries to sometimes €500,000 a month, for these people the discount should not should not be too detrimental to them! The State is indeed the expression of a class in power: capital.

Who can accept this?

It seems that our pension system is going bankrupt? The Comité d'Orientation des Retraites (COR) notes a surplus of €900 million in 2021 for the general scheme, bringing the total surplus to €3.2 billion. This government, incapable of predicting inflation in 6 months, announces a deficit of €12 billion in 2027... This is to be compared with the €150 billion in social contribution exemptions* granted to companies, a mere trifle. (*our deferred salary, let's not forget it!)

The politicians, all without exception, lie, manipulate, multiply manoeuvres and diversions to rob us of our retirement!

To soften us up, these pests are announcing a minimum amount of €1,200 for future pensioners. for future pensioners... but only for a full career, full time, which for many employees, especially women, is an impossible mission.

Beyond the question of pensions, it is a whole system of social protection and solidarity that is being undermined from the top of their towers by the so-called benevolent big guys of this filthy world. The response must be commensurate with the seriousness of the attacks. It is not a question of waiting for the result of future elections, nor is it a matter of wisely marching on.

Let's build the general strike!

Yes to happy days, here and now!

Groupe Le Ferment - Finistère


Pensions: let's not waste our lives earning it!

A quarter of the poorest people paying into pensions die before they can enjoy theirs, this is the implacable fact of the current situation.

With the progressive lengthening of these contributions, which is NEITHER NECESSARY, NOR URGENT, contrary to what is hammered into us by the clique of directors who govern us, we will inevitably work ourselves to death for the least well-worn among us, but also and above all for the benefit of the well-off. We prefer the death OF work to death AT work.

Towards a necrophagic retirement?

> For all the apostles of the the present devouring of the the value of individuals is measured only by their productivity: woe betide anyone who is who is no longer “profitable”, who has not “completed” their career, shame on the unproductive! It is from this vision that stems the funeral march against our rights and the furious expulsion of more and more people into the swelling underbelly of society.

> Unfortunately, in the face of this, trade unions (such as the CFDT ...) will be content to collect big failures and small victories in favour of a co-management of the forced sale of our lives. We refuse to see the retirement age move away, step by step until death, without a fight. Because this counter-conquest that is promised to us, in view of our observations, is going in the direction of ever more disgusting inequalities, we oppose it.

Setting up the power relationship

> For us anarchists, it is essential to impose first and foremost the abandonment of the governmental project: on the one hand because it would constitute a magnificent stop to the long series of setbacks that the social movement has suffered in recent years, but also because it would present itself as a serious obstacle to the future aggravations that we can expect. To do this, let's build the strike and generalise it by all necessary means.

We demand nothing less less than a beautiful and free life

> Beyond the mortifying extension of capitalism, anarchists choose to fight not to attenuate the servitude of labour at the margins, but to break with its wage form by doing away with the market relations that allow it via the abolition of private ownership over the means of production and distribution.

> The society that we must create together must therefore guarantee the egalitarian redistribution of the wealth produced, ensure the satisfaction of material and intellectual needs, put in place solidarity throughout life and make public services work. This is the exact opposite of the austerity and structural adjustment plans imposed by the various powers of both the right and the left.

For direct action and the general strike

> The response must therefore be proportionate to the seriousness of the attacks while at the same time foreshadowing the society to come. Should we wait for the outcome of future elections? The damage will already be done and will never be repaired. Should we wisely march on every day of action under the mocking gaze of the government, the bosses and their columnist mates? We won't win any more.

> There is no other solution than to organise and act now, with the values that are ours, against this unemployment reform in the first place, and against its world!

For a SOCIAL and LIBERTARIAN revolution

Groupe OAI - Marseille

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