Down with Le Pen! Down with capitalist democracy!

Le Pen.s achievement of 17% of the votes cast (i.e. 12% of French citizens) underlines so many things about modern capitalism that it is not easy to summarise them in a short space. In the first place the failure of the ruling Socialist Party to carry out its promised programme on housing and working conditions explains why even its own members didn't turn out to vote for Lionel Jospin in the first round. In the second place there has been a massive rejection of the ruling parties of the Fifth Republic which have done little to halt the attacks on living standards for the last twenty years. Whilst Le Figaro says it is the end of the Left it fails to mention that 5 Left wing candidates (three openly Trotskyist) won enough votes to double Jospin's vote. What we have seen is nothing less than a polarisation of the French electorate because the economic system is failing.

Now the second round is a choice between “plague and cholera” (as the French Trotskyist organisation Lutte Ouvriere (Workers Struggle) tell us. What they don't tell us is that their electoral games have helped to create this situation. And it is a result which will not make them too unhappy. Now they can do what they have always done best and campaign against the fascist candidate FOR DEMOCRACY. Predictably there has been much wringing of hands and cries for the defence of democracy since the first round. This is precisely what the ruling class everywhere needed ñ an issue to bring back increasingly cynical workers to the polls. And this is not just in France. No sooner was the French election result known than Blair was winging his way North to Blackburn to campaign against the British National Party (who are putting up 13 candidates in the council elections in nearby Burnley). He called on voters to vote only for mainstream parties, including the Tories, to stop the BNP. He did not say...

gosh sorry chaps, if my Home Secretary Blunkett had not banged on about schools “swamped” with asylum seekers or had created an anti-immigrant hysteria to go alongside the post-September 11th “war against terrorism” then perhaps the BNP's support would not be growing and the parliamentary parties could truthfully say they were against racism.

The reality is that whoever is in government must find away from stopping workers questioning the existing set up. As the capitalist crisis creates more social problems the capitalist political system turns nastier. Those who take part in it, and pretend it can be made fairer, give it legitimacy they do not build support to overthrow it.

Whilst the bourgeois press in France has been full of shock horror at the success of Le Pen they are actually delighted that they will be able to find an issue to get the “voters” or “citizens” to the polls. They can now vote for Chirac, a crook who stood for re-election to prevent investigation of his corrupt business deals or a bigot and a racist like Le Pen. In some ways this is similar to Germany in July 1932 when the Presidential choice was between Hindenburg, a reactionary monarchist who had already served seven years as President of a Republic he despised and an Austrian ex-corporal called Adolf Hitler. Hitler got 13 million to Hindenburg's 17 million and seven months later was appointed Chancellor of Germany by Hindenburg (on the recommendation of his son Oskar, who the Nazis has discovered had been using Government funds to pay his father's mortgage). However Hitler did not come to power through the ballot box. The one significant statistic the books usually leave out is that the socialists and communists increased their votes in November 1932. Hitler was invited to take the Chancellorship by the Army, industrialists and the political establishment because they wanted to stop the Communists. No fascist movement has ever achieved power without the support of the existing “defenders of democracy”.

Today though that is a message our anti-fascists are all but deaf to. Our social democratic left of all stripes will be screaming for an anti-Le Pen vote. Perhaps the SWP will come up with one of their famous slogans of support for the system (perhaps ìVote Tory for the Last Timeî or ìVote Tory with no Illusionsî?). One thing is certain the left have done more to support capitalist democracy than any of its current parliamentary leaders.

Our message remains the same. Don't dignify this bourgeois charade with our participation. The way to fight racism is by unifying the working class of all races around a programme which represents our real common interests.

Aurora (en)

Aurora is the broadsheet of the ICT for the interventions amongst the working class. It is published and distributed in several countries and languages. So far it has been distributed in UK, France, Italy, Canada, USA, Colombia.