On the Events in France

Statement of the International Bureau for the Revolutionary Party

For the thirteenth consecutive night, working class suburbs mainly occupied by immigrant workers have been the victim of riots. At first these were in the suburbs on the outskirts of Paris and then were extended to the provinces where they were repeated in cities like Lyon, Bordeaux and Nantes... but also in smaller towns like Blois or Rennes. Since October 27th, over 4000 vehicles have been torched along with countless numbers of buildings, both public and private.

The trigger for the these riots can be found in the contemptible remarks of the Minister of the Interior (Sarkozy), or in the deaths of two youths electrocuted in an electricity substation, but for several months the tension and exasperation amongst these groups of excluded young proletarians and marginalized workers with precarious employment was already visible. These events have their roots in the poverty and daily humiliation that these youths face. The majority of them have been rejected by the school system whilst being excluded from the world of work. They have no future except to continue vegetate in the ghettoes which these suburbs have become.

It is the crisis of capitalism which, as it deepens, develops these explosions of rage and violence. But these riots hold no perspective for the working class. The great majority of these youths have never faced the world of work. They have only a weak and in every sense, a very confused class instinct. Their revolt has nothing in common with those which we have seen, for example, in Argentina at the end of 2001 where the starving workers organised themselves to go and raid supermarkets. It is nothing like the more recent events in New Orleans where the proletariat barricaded by the Army into a devastated town were forced to turn to looting in order to survive. The rioters in France destroy the vehicles of their proletarian neighbours, set fire to the schools attended by their brothers and sisters, burn local supermarkets etc.

These riots, which are evidence of the difficulty which proletarians have living in the great capitalist metropoles, hold no political class content for the time being. The government, the ruling class, have had no idea how to respond otherwise than with repression. The bourgeoisie is thus seizing the opportunity to perfect its apparatus of repression as if this was not already advanced enough under its war on "terrorism". Against the vandalism and the riots the French Government has added to its arsenal of repression a whole series of heavy weapons. The Prime Minister (De Villepin) has decided to dig up the law of April 3rd, 1955 passed at that time in order to create a state of emergency during the war in Algeria. The powers of Prefects have been considerably increased and they can judge to what level the law will be applied. They can decide to put a curfew in place, prohibit the movement of people or vehicles, prohibit anyone that they consider undesirable from staying within a Department, institute house searches, even in the middle of the night etc.

These movements also sadly express a lack of class perspective. They underline ever more strongly the real need for revolutionaries to contribute to the re-creation of the conditions for struggle on the level of immediate demands in order to reach a political level. In short, they point to the indispensable need for the revolutionary party; a party that is truly communist, international and internationalist. These revolts caused by despair can only go forward through the development of real class struggles, politically led by the revolutionary party.

IBRP - November 9th, 2005