Workers’ Communist Party of France (PCOF)
We are internationalists because we are communists; we are internationalists because we are revolutionaries!
The one goes with the other. It is a bond that reflects the famous slogan with which the Manifesto of the Communist Party concludes: “Workers of the world, unite!" That leads us to the very nature of the capitalist mode of production: “The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere.” (Marx and Engels, “Manifesto of the Communist Party”.)
With the development of capitalist concentration, the emergence of the monopolies and financial oligarchies, this trend, taken to its highest point, concludes in the “division of the world among capitalist groups”, which Lenin defined as “imperialism":
“Imperialism is capitalism in that stage of development in which the
dominance of monopolies and finance capital has established itself; in
which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in
which the division of the world among the international trusts has
begun; in which the division of all territories of the globe among the
biggest capitalist powers has been completed."
Three conditions characterize the capitalist system at this stage of development:
“No nation can be free if it oppresses other nations”
In the imperialist countries the revolutionary movement must fight the dominance that “its own” imperialism exercises against other peoples. Lenin emphasized this in an article written in 1916, “The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination”:
“...in contrast to the Proudhonists who ‘denied’ the national problem ‘in the name of social revolution ‘, Marx, mindful in the first place of the interests of the proletarian class struggle in the advanced countries, put the fundamental principle of internationalism and socialism in the foreground – namely, that no nation can be free if it oppresses other nations. It was from the standpoint of the interests of the German workers’ revolutionary movement that Marx in 1848 demanded that victorious democracy in Germany should proclaim and grant freedom to the nations oppressed by the Germans. It was from the standpoint of the revolutionary struggle of the English workers that Marx, in 1869, demanded the separation of Ireland from England...”
For us, the Communist Party of the Workers of France, this means to denounce and fight “our own” imperialism, French imperialism.
French imperialism is weakened, but it is still dangerous
Colonial exploitation has played an important role in the rise of the great powers. It is a common feature of all those that, even today, make up the “great powers” of the G7 or the G8. French imperialism is one of them. Since the sixteenth century, big fortunes were made based on the slave trade. With the industrial revolutions spurred on by the coming to power of the bourgeoisie at the end of the eighteenth century, the country became and remains a great power due to its colonial empire in Indochina, the Middle East and Africa. At the end of the two world wars, the uneven development was unfavorable to France. De Gaulle sought to rely on the former French colonial possessions and protectorates to defend “France’s place in the world.” One of the challenges of decolonization that the struggle of the peoples imposed in the second half of the 20th century has been to maintain in other – neo-colonial – forms the domination and plunder which fed the power of French imperialism. Using that “advantage” – and its nuclear military capability, French imperialism has been able, up to today, to demand a leading role in the European Union.
French imperialism tries to defend at all costs its rank as “fifth world power with a presence on the five continents.” But its relative decline in the balance of international power forced it to seek compromises. This is reflected in the strategic orientation of the French oligarchy: European integration and an increasingly pronounced Atlanticist policy.
That said, one can see that French imperialism is not in a dominant position in its alliance with U.S. imperialism, and although it no longer has the same weight as the dominant country in the EU, this does not mean that France is a “dominated nation.” To defend “one’s own” imperialism against its rivals, or one bloc against another, is false and dangerous: in the framework of the Great Transatlantic Marketplace, for example, “it is not a matter,” as our Party states, of “siding with the EU” against the hegemonic ambitions of U.S. imperialism but of fighting together with the workers and peoples of the world against this system which every day pits one against the other.”2
In Afghanistan and Libya, French imperialism wanted to take part in the intervention to get a piece of the pie. In Mali and in Central Africa, as was the case in the Ivory Coast, although it was forced to seek the support of the EU and U.S., French imperialism was the first on the ground in those areas that are no longer their “hunting grounds,” but where it is a matter of trying to hold a dominant position. Evoking the ambitions of other powers, saying “if it is not for us, it will be for others” to justify the gunboat diplomacy is an ignoble boast. How are the French monopolies supported by French bombs in Libya better than others for the Libyan people? How are the French large companies, both industrial and financial, that loot and act in concert or in competition in Africa, such as AREVA, Total, Eramet, EDF, Bollorwe, Bouygues, Lafarge, Technip, Vinci, Vaeolia, Alcateal, Accor, Gaz de France, Michelin, Alsthom, LVMH Pinault (CFAO [French Company of Western Africa]), Orange, BNP [National Bank of Paris] Paribas Natixis, Credit Agricole, etc., how are they better for the workers and peoples who have been exploited and robbed, than the British, U.S., Canadian, Chinese and South African companies that all also want their wealth, markets and labor power? What have the peoples of the Congo, Gabon, Niger, Mali or Central Africa gained, whose riches are plundered by French companies protected by the French army, “instead of by foreign multinationals" in the words of our Minister of Industry? What would the peoples of the South American continent gain if they saw French companies steal part of their mineral wealth rather than U.S. companies?3 The board of EDF [Electricity of France] stresses the need to “accelerate the internationalization” of the company in South America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. What would the workers and consumers gain if it was the EDF, rather than one of its competitors, that dominates a part of the “energy market” of the country?
To fight this system is in our common interest
If we must fight this attempt of a great power to rob other peoples, we must also win the active participation of the workers and popular masses for this fight. To do this we must show concretely why the working class and the popular masses in metropolitan France have an interest in taking part in this struggle. Why, for example, do we have such interest in the African peoples doing away with the odious neo-colonial system of French Africa?
Let us take the fight against austerity:
Fewer public services and less social protection on the one hand. On the other hand thousands of millions spent on “foreign operations”: 1.25 billion euros in 2013 before the Operation Sangaris [French military operation – translator’s note]in Central Africa. But this is not enough; one has to see who benefits from these military interventions of French imperialism in Mali or in Central Africa. The real reasons for these interventions are not to help the people of Mali or Central Africa. They are mainly to defend the provision of French imperialism with raw materials (uranium from Niger, etc.) and precious metals, to ensure their transport, to protect them from the greed of the rival imperialist powers.
The pursuit of maximum profit leads the French monopolies to exploit Africa with fire and sword, in cahoots with corrupt African leaders and dictators. This also leads them to demand from the French government a drastic lowering of the “cost of labor” and of its social taxes in France. Therefore we insist on the links and coherence that exist between the austerity policy and the “competitiveness” that takes place on the national level and the warlike policy that Hollande and the Ayrault government are applying with the continuity of the neo-colonial policy of France in Africa.
The oligarchy, which has made the State a tool at its exclusive service, is at the same time, the enemy of the working class, of the popular masses and the peoples.
It is the same with the problem of emigration. The “boom” of colonization and its avatars, that a law adopted by the French Parliament in 2005 claims are indisputable, leave most of the countries that have suffered in a disastrous economic, social and political situation: famine and dependence for all consumer products, the beginnings of domestic industries cut short by “globalization,” privatization imposed by lenders, completely sinister educational and health systems, mass unemployment, extreme misery and dictatorships.
French imperialism currently uses the latest episodes of a long history of looting, coups, military interventions that have led to chaos, to justify new military interventions. But the aid that they pretend to give to the peoples of Mali and Central Africa, is no solution to the conditions that they are suffering. Rather, it is an element that aggravates the legacy of years of colonialism and neocolonialism. These interventions exacerbate the tensions and contribute to a general destabilization of entire regions of the African continent. The politics of plunder and conflict fueled by the rivalry between companies and countries that are contesting for riches and markets of today and tomorrow, are causing massive population displacement and the migration of all those who are forced to flee their country to survive. The same companies that have condemned them to unemployment in the African countries, that have subjected their country to fire and sword, are now using them as competitors to the workers in the metropolises.
Therefore we must work for the unity between native-born and immigrant workers with or without papers, whom capital plays against each other to lower the price of labor power.
To support the progressive and revolutionary forces in the dominated countries, it is necessary to build the anti-imperialist front as much as possible if we want to defeat the policy of plunder and war, from which none of us have anything to gain.
It is in our common interest to support each other’s struggles
One more example of the neo-colonial system in the former French colonies in Africa. It is a system that is maintained by the political, diplomatic and military support that the
French State gives to the reactionary clans that ravage Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo, Ivory Coast, Chad, Mali, Central Africa, etc.
Often put in power through coups or maneuvers planned with the support of the secret services of the French army, these leaders count on all the necessary support as long as they are useful. They are abandoned when they try to hold discussions with the competition, when they do not manage to eliminate the popular revolts or when they are unable to guarantee the stability needed for business.
The services that they give in return are huge concessions, authorization for exploitation and all types of favors granted to French companies; installation of military bases or stationing of French troops on the ground, support for diplomacy and votes in their favor in international agencies, sending additional troops to the French army for armed conflict in which France takes part, etc. All this without forgetting the “retro commissions” and suitcases of cash that these millionaires with misappropriated goods give for the financing of a number of political parties in the metropolis, particularly when they need fresh money to finance an election campaign.
The support provided by the so-called “land of human rights” to these dictatorial and corrupt regimes is a real stab-in-the-back against the trade unionists, the democratic and popular organizations and the revolutionary forces who are experiencing the high cost of living, fighting against corruption, for social and democratic rights and for genuine political change in favor of the peoples. For the militants of the metropolis, to expose and combat this French neo-colonial system in Africa is an act of active solidarity with the peoples who are resisting and struggling to free themselves.
Conversely, the struggle of these peoples contributes to politically weakening the authorities who are carrying out that policy in France. The colonial crisis (when the overseas departments and territories rise up against social injustice or for independence, as was the case of the Kanak people in New Caledonia in the 1980s) and the neo-colonial crisis (when French imperialism had to retreat before the struggle of the exploited and dominated peoples) contributes to the crisis of the system
In an imperialist country, revolutionaries do not fear these struggles; on the contrary, they support them because they contribute to weakening the common enemy.
Do not confuse the national interest with the interests of the monopolies
To claim that these riches are needed to boost our production growth does not authorize the French monopolies to steal them.
Stating that the recovery and jobs in our country depends on them is a wretched lie. It is cynical to use this to try to obtain the support of the workers of the metropolis for the policy of looting. It is totally false, because as the employees of the big companies know from experience, when one big company gains in competitiveness – whether by super-exploitation or outright theft practiced in the dominated countries – that always means more profit, but rarely more jobs.
Also, how can one pretend that this serves “France’s energy independence,” committing everything to nuclear energy, 40% of whose raw material comes from the looting of Niger?4 The exploitation of uranium mines has created an ecological hell for the local population, and they dare to tell us that this is clean energy! Is the cost of the wars waged to ensure the exploitation and transport taken into account when they say that this is necessary so that electricity bills of the consumer in the metropolis do not grow enormously?
“Parties in countries whose bourgeoisie possess colonies and oppress other nations must pursue a most well-defined and clear-cut policy in respect of colonies and oppressed nations.”5
In July of 1920, the Second Congress of the Communist International [CI] included the consistent struggle against the oppression of the colonized peoples among the 21 conditions of admission to the CI:
“Any party wishing to join the Third International must ruthlessly expose the colonial machinations of the imperialists of its “own “ country, must support – in deed, not merely in word – every colonial liberation movement, demand the expulsion of its compatriot imperialists from the colonies, inculcate in the hearts of the workers of its own country an attitude of true brotherhood with the working population of the colonies and the oppressed nations, and conduct systematic agitation among the armed forces against all oppression of the colonial peoples.”6
This is a fundamental question that the PCOF [Communist Party of the Workers of France] takes up in its program “How will an imperialist country such as France that lives to a good degree off the looting of the peoples of the dominated countries pay its debts to these people?”
For the last colonies (so-called overseas territories and departments): “the declaration of independence and proposals to the peoples of these countries to maintain relations of fraternity and equality that can lead to a federation with the socialist State. “
To the peoples who have been dominated, who have been looted, fraternal and equal relationships, elimination of debts, liquidation of all forms of neo-colonialism, cooperation for harmonious and independent development of these countries are included among the measures that the socialist State will take.
In the short term, “to fight the politics of French imperialism, particularly in Africa” is a constituent axis of the program of rupture “for a revolutionary Popular Front now” that the PCOF advocates today.
If in a dominated country, it is not possible to raise the issue of democracy and social emancipation without questioning imperialist domination, also in an imperialist country a revolutionary program of profound rupture with the system cannot refrain from fighting the ties of abuse and subjection that the country practices at the expense of other peoples.
The struggle for the revolution in the imperialist countries and the struggle of the dominated peoples for their national and social liberation are inextricably linked.