Finally, yesterday, Thursday 16 March, the government passed its pension reform by using again article 49-3* of the constitution.
The government had to resort to this anti-democratic article because it was not sure it could gather a majority in parliament.
This is not just another step in Macron's anti-democratic offensive, but a continuation of a parliamentary process that has been accumulating, and in so doing, greatly amplifying a deep political crisis that has lasted for many years. We have long been on the verge of a rupture. It seems closer today than at any time since the Vichy regime.
The bourgeoisie can no longer tolerate its own democracy (though it was made by and for itself), so Macron, its spokesperson, is dynamiting it. He is thus preparing the ground for a state of exception, without parliament, and perhaps without a legal framework.
From a political point of view, the deputies of La France insoumise (France Unbowed – LFI) will vote a motion of confidence with the belief that it could overthrow the government of Elisabeth Borne and prevent the adoption of the reform. For its part, the Parti communiste français (French Communist Party – PCF) is calling for a referendum. Apart from the fact that the probability of a victory for this latter motion is low, these solutions all appeal to the institutions (which we have seen in the last few days for whom and why they are made). For these parties it is a question of bypassing the workers' movement, of not relying on it, and therefore of seeing it go home. We see in this what Marx vigorously criticised in his "Address of the Central Committee to the League of Communists". On the contrary, we think that only the organisation and struggle of the working class, allied to the other fractions of the popular classes but independent of them but leading them, is likely to deal a blow to Macron and the bourgeoisie.
The opposition to the pension counter-reform was massive (up to 3 million demonstrators and several times more than 2 million). Far beyond the working class alone. Not to mention the polls which show that a majority of the population is in favour of rejecting the new measures.
But if this opposition to the pension counter-reform was the trigger, it is, in fact, the whole (so-called neo-liberal) policy conducted for 40 years that is widely rejected. A strategic question will be to know precisely what this "widely" is.
One of the factors of success of the very massive demonstrations was trade union unity. The CFDT, the CFTC, the UNSA, the CGC etc. largely contributed to the success of the demonstrations by joining the reformist unions (CGT, FO, FSU, Solidaires). But it is also the weakness of this union front which is subordinated to the CFDT-CGT tandem (and more exactly to the CFDT, a union which collaborates with the employers and the government). L Berger (leader of the CFDT) having announced that he would leave the movement if the law were to be passed.
During this long movement of struggle, against the spontaneous tendency of many demonstrators, Berger repeated many times that he did not want to extend the motives of protest to something other than the struggle against the counter-reform of pensions. However, in these times of high inflation, of frozen wages, of ever worsening working conditions (ultra-authoritarian management etc), of very violent attacks against the unemployed, against youth (SNU, Parcoursup etc.), against women and against migrant workers, it is indeed against this society that the bourgeoisie is preparing for us, through Macron, that the country is rising.
The CFDT and the class collaborationist unions, leaving the movement, the CGT of Martinez proposing nothing else but to continue, the union front having led the movement into a blind alley, the movement can only develop now outside the framework of the union front.
The first reactions to the 49-3 were demonstrations in front of the National Assembly, among others. The police repression was also present.
At 9.40am, the latest information from the Ministry of the Interior reported 258 arrests in Paris and 310 throughout the country.
Several collectives have been formed calling for the continuation of the strike(s), for grassroots organisation, for a general strike etc.
Pickets and blockades are going on in the refineries, among the garbage collectors on strike for more than 10 days, and among young people, all of whom are subjected to police violence.
But this movement has a big problem: the absence of strategy. Many are aware of this and are alerting anyone who will listen.
The absence of class and mass organisations makes itself felt sorely.
If such an organisation existed, it would pose the questions of the transformation of the current collectives into workers' councils, of the updating of a transitional programme with transitional demands (immediate repeal of the counter-reforms, setting up of structures of mutual aid to fight against inflation and impoverishment, amongst other things to fight against rent rises,...), of the duality of power between the workers' councils and the bourgeois government, and of the organisation of workers' self-defence.0
* In order to have a text adopted without a vote by the National Assembly, the Prime Minister can engage the responsibility of the Government by activating Article 49.3 (49 paragraph 3) of the Constitution. The bill is then considered adopted if a motion of no confidence against the Government does not win in the National Assembly. Conversely, if a motion of no confidence is passed, the Government is overthrown and the text rejected.