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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Chronique du Front il ly a trois ou quatre ans

by Maurice Ulrich

Chronicle from the Front: Three or Four Years Ago...

Translated Wednesday 15 February 2012, by Isabelle Métral and reviewed by Henry Crapo

“The Left Front’s leader, the man who fills large halls without being able to pay for them and has his audiences strike up the International then the Marseillaise [1], is probably the revelation of this campaign.” [2] So it goes in the Figaro [3], And the reporter, Anna Fulda, proceeds once more to evoke “the success of Jean-Luc Mélenchon who at each of his public meetings never misses the opportunity to educate the people.” The comment is fairly judicious and proves us right: “something is taking place” in the course of this Left Front’s campaign.

What exactly? The reason no doubt is to be sought also in the citizens’ assemblies that are taking place across the country, and through these, in the sale and distribution of the Left Front’s platform, l’Humain d’abord (A Human Ambition first and foremost). But this message will be borne in mind after a discussion with an Arkema worker at the Lyon meeting, the man wore his yellow jacket with the CGTThe French largest labour confederation. letters on it: “Three or four years ago, I’d never have talked politics in this way.” And he added: “Union struggles are not enough. We lost in our struggle against the pensions reform."

That is more or less what two Greta teachers (in public institutes for further vocational education), whose mission has been gradually challenged, were saying a short time before. One of them was a member of the CGT, the other a member of the CFDT [4] “Workers are seizing the opportunity afforded by the political election and integrating it into their social struggle,” ventures Pierre Laurent, the French Communist Party’s secretary.

Three or four years ago, indeed, the word capitalism was already incongruous. The crisis has since revealed its violence, a violence directed against peoples. Lots of salaried workers realized that they were brutally confronted by finance, the markets, and the Left Front’s campaign comes to join them them on this ground. Once banned from the scene by right-wing commentators, the working class is now back. Jean-Luc Mélenchon speaks above all for the more modest wage-earners, for those who have precarious jobs. What is taking place, to use the plain word, is the re-awakening of class-consciousness. “We are adults, we are the vast majority…We are going to win round the French people, using our intelligence and our brains.”
This signals a deep movement, stretching beyond the election time proper, in which the class that the candidate calls the “class of the general interest” is coming into its own, if one may say so. In view of this, the Left front’s war on the National front, a war waged with the battle-axe, and in which day after day the Left Front scores points, is not a struggle over territory, over a class of voters that must be lured and won over. The aim is to frustrate the enemy’s plan to entrap those who are supposedly “branded as Le Pen (Far-Right - T’s N) voters” simply in order to divert them from their struggle against capital, in a class struggle that bosses claim to be over, even though they wage it day after day.

[1The French national anthem.

[2Day after day brings huge crowds that overflow the halls where Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the left Front’s presidential candidate, captivates and thrills his audiences. For instance 10,000 flocked to the meeting in Villeurbanne near Lyon on Feb 7, and 10,000 to the meeting in Montpellier on the next day…

[3A right-wing daily.

[4The second largest labour confederation.

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