Workers' Liberty #53  


All together in France

A report by Joan Trevor

"Tous ensemble!" ("All together!") was the catchcry of the 1995 strikes in France, and it is now the catchcry of much of the far left in France. It's something the French left is far better at than we are in Britain. Even the degree of togetherness it takes for two different groups to sit in the same room is often too much for the British left. So much the worse for us; and so much the better for the French left that they are able to combine unity in action with debate on differences better than we can.

The focus now is the joint slate for the forthcoming European elections put forward by Lutte Ouvrière (LO) and the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (LCR). The socialist journal Carré Rouge held a school on the theme "For an anti-capitalist programme, for a democratic and socialist United States of Europe" on 23-24 January.

Voix des Travailleurs (VdT), a group started by members expelled by LO in 1997, attended, together with the LCR and the Gauche Révolutionnaire (GR, a group linked to the Socialist Party here) and individuals. LO didn't come, but wrote a long letter explaining why not.

Too many of the speeches, to my mind, had a certain millenarian fervour about them: capitalism is in terrible crisis and about to collapse, Stalinism has already collapsed, the attempt to build a capitalist united states of Europe is bound to fail, social democracy is extinct - now for a mass revolutionary party!

A speaker from Workers' Liberty asked, on the way to a socialist and democratic united states of Europe, what reforms could we fight for in the new Europe? There was little enthusiasm for that discussion. Yes, we want workers to have rights, members of the LO minority (for example) told us in a private conversation, but we can't take any responsibility for the way a bourgeois society constitutes itself politically. Therefore umbrella democratic demands, like a constituent assembly for Europe, are out. Discussion will continue. The LO minority and the LCR minority (Tendance "R!") are currently working on a joint magazine, and VdT are talking to the LCR about the possibility of joining the LCR.

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