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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: The 99%: pleading on behalf of the ’us’ in politics

by Julia Hamlaoui

The 99%: pleading on behalf of the ’us’ in politics

Translated Wednesday 27 April 2016, by Richard Bach

In his new book, Pierre Laurent pleads for the 99%, the vast majority of people. The leader of the PCF gives them the powers to rebuild their confidence in their ability to change the world.

The figure 99% does not represent the result of the latest unpopularity poll of Francois Hollande, but is the title of the latest work by Pierre Laurent. A conclusively worded report by Oxfam inspired the national secretary of the PCF to write his book, which comes out on Thursday, published by Cherche midi.

"The 1% richest from now on possess more than the remaining 99%. They use their power and their privileges to skew the economic system and widen the trough between them and the rest of the population", Oxfam wrote in January in its latest study.

In this context, the communist leader describes his book as “a call for awareness". As political writings are multiplying, in advance of the 2017 presidential election, Pierre Laurent has insisted, on social networks, that he wants to get out of the logic of "I’ve changed, I’m better now, I’m the Man or Women of the situation”.

“I’ve chosen to talk about us. We, the 99%, we who form the mass, the people, to whom the "1%" wants to dictate its law… It’s the 1%’s system of power that I’m exposing, so that we can better tackle and overcome it. It is necessary that we again have confidence in ourselves and in our ability to regain power."

It is a "message of confidence to all those who have the power to change the world" from someone who has been saying for several months, and especially since the beginning of the mobilization against the El Khomri law, that many "forces are available" on the political and social left to build an alternative to current policy.

"Cursing isn’t enough"

Moreover, the author has harsh words for the government: "While the violence of Sarkozy was exasperating, French society is flaggergasted and discouraged by Holland’s capitulation. When the left does the right’s dirty work, words lose their meaning.” As for 2017, he says it is “a great popular consultation which can get us out of the trap” (of a clash between Le Pen, Sarkozy, Hollande or equivalent - Ed).

“This consultation”, he continues, “should provide us with a candidate who is the voice of 99%, the voice of our collective commitment to a mandate to end Holland’s presidency. No one can do this alone” advises Pierre Laurent, repeating the proposal of the PCF National Council, of a" voting process for citizens", without, however, making explicit references in the book to a system of primaries.

In the preamble, the message is made clear that "cursing is not enough," borrowing from the Greek poet Yannis Ritsos. The author highlights the financial mechanisms that confer power to banks and destroy public services, who want to increase dividends rather than increase employment and wages. These financial mechanisms murder solidarity on the continent and, via the concentration of media ownerships into conglommerates, control democracy.

In short, after describing the world of the "1%", Pierre Laurent calls for the "awakening" of the 99% of the population. "It is the people who make history, in a still different and contradictory cocktail… The future of the world depends on the 99%", he recalls, convinced that the French will add its "pinch of salt". Faced with the three challenges of "safety", of "living well on a respected and protected planet" and of "global digital revolution", the Communist urges the we storm the five "Bastilles" of our time: those of "ideas", "divisions", "capital", "silence" and "institutions".

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