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Editorial

ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Unité nationale : pour qui ?

by Patrick Le Hyaric

National Unity – For Whom?

Translated Sunday 5 October 2008, by Gene Zbikowski

The right wing wants to use the serious international financial crisis to get working-class families to agree to “blood, sweat, and tears.”

This is the true meaning of the successive appeals for “national unity” made over the week-end by French Prime Minister François Fillon and the head of the employers’ association, Mrs. Parisot, following French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s use of the word “fear” six times in the first few minutes of his speech in Toulon.

There is a coherency between the President’s speech and his Prime Minister’s appeals, which the representative of the big bosses so noisily supported.

They want to appear as our protectors against “a foreign enemy” whom they have suddenly discovered and whose name is “finance capitalism,” and whom it will suffice, henceforth, to “regulate.” But the more they talk about regulating the world, the more they deregulate France.

They’re feeding the steam engine of the Stock Exchange with privatizations, including the planned privatization of the postal service.

They’re continually transferring more money – which should be going to pay labor – to company profits.

Their policy permits the transfusion of 314 billion euros from productive businesses to the financial institutions and the banks, thanks to fat financial fees.

The appeal for national unity goes together with the effort to arrive at a national concensus, both as regards a diagnosis of the crisis and as to the idea of just regulating the system.

This will just wind up, once again, serving capital against the forces of labor and creativity.

In reality, the true dividing line today is between those who support capitalism and those who are acting to transcend capitalism in order to build a new society. This is the subject of the necessary real confrontation! The peoples must become the masters of their own destiny. The god-almighty dollar must not dispose of people’s lives any longer.

National unity cannot be built around the clear-cutting planned for in the government’s 2009 budget, its policy of reinforced austerity, of refusing to increase wages, retirement pensions and social benefits. It cannot be built around the unprecedented reductions in the number of public service workers or the drastic reductions in the social protection budget, which are to be announced today, accompanied, moreover, by the announcement of a big increase in the number of unemployed. National unity cannot be built around these measures because they are ineffective for solving the crisis itself.

On the contrary! Let’s take back the billions in exoneration of social contributions accorded to big business and use them to end the medical co-payments, the hospitalization co-payments, and the non-reimbursement of medical costs. Let’s put an end to the “tax shield” accorded to the rich and transfer 14 billion euros to working-class families. Let’s share wealth differently and transfer part of company profits to wages and employment. Let’s set up a tax system that makes capital contribute to the general interest of society. Let’s cut value added tax and fuel taxes. Let’s use the mechanism of credit at practically zero interest in favor of the companies that need to invest, to defend employment and communities. And during its presidency of the European Union, France would be ennobled by putting forward strong European anti-crisis initiatives to orient the central European bank and the euro towards serving production and employment. And if speculation, born of the concept of the totally free circulation of capital, is responsible for a large part of our present problems, then we must have the courage to declare the Lisbon Treaty null and void and to propose that the world tax the movement of capital and abolish tax havens.

For an anti-crisis plan to be effective, it must satisfy human needs and share out power and decision-making, both within companies and throughout the country. The only goal of the appeal for national unity is to obtain the people’s consent – even their tacit consent – to the heavy sacrifices that are secretly being cooked up in the offices of the French presidency. Let’s not let them get away with it!


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