Hundreds of thousands march against authoritarian policies in France

NPA contingent in Nov. 28 march in Paris.


Below we reprint two articles from the Fourth International press about the huge marches in France on Nov. 28 to protest the government’s new Security Law. The first article is taken from International Viewpoint, the English-language journal of the Fourth International. ANTOINE LARRACHE is a member of the leadership of the New Anti-capitalist Party in France, and of the Fourth International.

Twelve thousand in Pau, two thousand in Chambéry, six thousand in Rennes, Tours and Montpellier, five thousand yesterday in Nantes, thousands in Toulouse in spontaneous demonstrations, more than ten thousand in Lyon, around perhaps two hundred thousand in Paris: today’s mobilization was incredible, like a huge awakening after months of political confinement.

There were many young people in the demonstrations, high school students, students, young people from the popular neighbourhoods, protesting against police violence, racism, and more generally the situation we are currently living through. There were also many militants coming from various organizations, from the left in general, although apart from the CGT, the FSU and Solidaires, there were very few organizations officially represented—apart of course from the NPA [New Anti-capitalist Party], which was very present everywhere. The NPA contingent in Paris brought together hundreds of people, dynamic, shouting, singing. There were also hundreds of journalists and lawyers, whose convictions were struck by the bill.

The government is facing a political crisis triggered by the outburst of contradictions: it has championed “freedom of expression” following the assassination of Samuel Paty [a teacher beheaded by a young Muslim on Oct. 16], but on the other hand has given the police complete freedom to repress, violate, mutilate. The “global security” law completes this policy, in coherence with state racism and the law of “separatism.”

But the violence against Michel Zecler [a Black music producer who was badly beaten by police in his studio on Nov. 21] in particular, that was fortunately filmed, has brought to light the role of the “global security” law: to strengthen police impunity.

Today’s mobilisation was fantastic, it shows that reactions are possible against this government. In the next few days, in all neighbourhoods, let’s organize ourselves to push it back. Unitary meetings, neighbourhood assemblies, in workplaces or educational establishments, local demonstrations in front of police stations, prefectures or town halls, we must speed up building a mass movement.

Stopping the passage of this law must be our goal. And denouncing the strengthening of liberticidal and racist policies that open the way to the extreme right. Filming police violence is the way to protect ourselves against police violence, it is a basic element of our self-defence. We must also demand the disarmament of the police and an end to all racist measures, and win the regularisazation of undocumented migrants.

This government’s only answer to the health, social and ecological crisis we are experiencing today is repression. They have shown they are incapable of dealing with it in any other way than distributing billions to big business. They must go, starting with Darmanin, the Minister of the Interior, the real spearhead, following in Castaner’s footsteps, of liberticidal policies. The time has come for a general mobilization against this government.

500,000 in the streets!


STAN MILLER is a French activist and Trotskyist. He was interviewed by Samantha Rajapaksa in Paris on behalf of the Sri Lankan publications Left Voice and Lanka Socialists Forum. We are reprinting the interview with the permission of Stan Miller; it has been slightly edited for style and to correct typos.  

Hey, Stan, How are you doing?

Stan Miller

I am happy because Saturday’s [Nov. 28] protest, nicknamed “the march of liberties,” was a success—500,000 people in the streets all over France, according to the organizers. 

​Could you explain about the Nov. 28 demonstration in Paris?

The target of this protest is to get rid of Macron global security law, whose Article 24 makes it a crime to film the police for journalists and citizens alike. There have been many acts of police brutality since Macron was elected president, especially in the poor neighborhoods and in the gilet jaune (Yellow Jacket) social movement. Many people get beaten up by the racist police just because they are Black or Arab. There is one police murder by month. In the gilets jaunes movement, five people lost limbs and 30 people lost an eye due to grenades and non-lethal weapons. What gave the protest so much energy is that there was a video released Wednesday of a Black music producer being severely beaten up and called negger by the cops that was filmed by CCTV and the neighbors. With the new law we could not have broadcasted these videos.

Why did the president want to propose the Global Security Act right now?

President Macron was elected in 2017 not because people liked him but because they did not want his racist authoritarian far-right opponent Marine Le Pen to win. He was supposed to be a candidate of the center—protecting civil liberties at least—but in reality behaves like any classical right-wing politician—trying to recuperate the Marine Le Pen electorate by pursuing reactionary policies and being the lackey of the bosses.

Since the beginning of the lockdown in March, 700,000 people have lost their jobs. There are 10 million poor people in France. And the government is giving away money and tax breaks to big companies that lay off people. The lockdown has slowed things up. The pension reform is frozen. The government was forced to introduce hazard pay for hospital workers, and some big companies introduced hazard pay as well. But this summer when lockdown was over, Macron went back on his promise. Only a percentage of hospital workers will have hazard pay. In big companies only a fraction will have hazard pay as well. There are big mobilizations in hospitals far all to have hazard pay. There is also a movement against layoffs in factories and offices.

What do you think the working-class reactions will be to the economic crisis?

The gross domestic product of France will lose 11%. There is a massive offensive by the bosses and the government all over Europe to make working people pay for the crisis. The issue of lay-offs and unemployment is becoming more crucial. The trade-union leadership is trying to convince the bosses to be nice and that it is better to exploit French workers than Polish or Chinese workers. The trade unions encourage chauvinism among the workers.

What we need is not to convince the bosses it is better to exploit us but to organize a national movement against layoffs with a big protest in Paris of all the companies where they have layoffs. Self-organization of the working class at the base, like strike committees, is essential. We are trying to coordinate all these plant-by-plant struggles into one big struggle against the bosses and the government, to forbid layoffs and to divide the work among everybody with no loss of pay.

What should be the vital role of revolutionary organizations for the working class and people?

The European far left is small and divided and has little influence on the situation

 There have been different strategies implemented. The large party strategy is one of them. Small revolutionary groups joined big reformist organizations like Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain, but when these organizations took power by election they implemented austerity policies.

Another way is the unity of different revolutionary groups, at least in elections. If we all fight separately we are dead. The NPA in France is an attempt to bring different revolutionary currents together. It managed to have a voice independent of reformists for 10 years. We ran good anti-capitalist electoral campaigns, and a fraction of the youth and the working class has a good opinion of us [as] radical people who do not compromise with the system.

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