I watch a French two-and-a-half-hour weekly television show that’s pretty good in most respects. It mixes no- hold-barred interviews of politicians with talks with movie directors, authors and artists, including singers. There is a presidential election beginning in France too. It relies on an an incomplete primary system. To make a long story short, anyone with a grievance or an idea who can get 500 signatures of I don’t know whom can run. That makes for a lively and exotic first round of balloting. In the second round, things get serious. In any case, this time, there is an explicitly “communist” candidate (Trotskyst branch). She runs for an organization that calls itself “Workers’ Struggle” (Lutte ouvriere).
It’s not clear what her party considers as “workers” but from the candidate’s choice of examples of struggle in her interview last night, there is a strong preference for conventional blue-collar and pink-collar workers. Of course, manufacturing jobs are vanishing from France as they have been doing here. People employed in manufacturing are becoming accordingly scarcer. Bad strategic bet that, defining yourself as a workers’ party when you also define workers that way, (going away, going away, gone!).
The “communist” candidate discourse is loud as it is transparent. Let me summarize:
A “Workers” are “exploited” by the “corporations.” That is shameful and unbearingly unfair.
B “Workers” are laid off by “corporations.” That is shameful and unbearingly unfair too.
This vision of the world raises several questions:
Don’t workers stop being “exploited” when they are laid off? Isn’t that the solution?
What does “exploited” mean anyway? (The term used to have a specific if fallacious meaning in Karl Marx’s time. None of his alleged followers have any idea what it is.) When I was a college professor I think I was exploited because my employer did not even have the decency to provide me with a car. It even charged me for parking! Bastards, exploiters!
The communist candidate blames the “big corporations” but not the small ones for “exploiting” the workers. She does not seem to know that in France as here, workers can’t wait to trade up their “exploitation” by small employers for the more generous “exploitation” of big ones.
Who owns the corporation the candidate is denouncing? She seemed to think it was their CEOs. I wish it were true. It would solve a lot of problems. It’s rarely true at all. She would be surprised to learn that the legal owners and those who get the “dividends,” if any, are people like me, and insurance companies, and retirement funds, and even labor unions.
No one in France is much worried about the “communist.” Just about everyone including herself would be surprised if she garnered even 2% of the votes in the fist round of the French presidential election. Me, I am glad I heard her. It’s good to visit with dinosaurs once in a while to remember why they vanished!
Back to the USA: I am glad to report that during the second Florida Republican presidential debate, I did not hear Ron Paul make a single patently false, invented statement. Maybe, I got to him.
Brave Syrians continue to die day- by-day trying to get what we take for granted: The right to be governed by those they chose. And yes, that may include Islamists. What do you think? That bloody fascist tyranny is better (for us) ? Syrians also die because of the Obama policy of “engaging” the likes of Assad. He, Assad, is using tanks on the soft bodies of unarmed civilians to make sure he does not miss. Ron Paul followers assure me that the slaughter of Syrians is none of our business. Apparently they think it’s OK for someone else to conduct mass slaughter as long as it’s done neatly within the boundaries of a nation-state. That’s the same nation-state libertarians say they want to abolish.
Do you recognize the same kind of inconsistency I just showed you above, in France?