The French impasse

Issue: 181

Charlie Kimber

In 2023, French workers, young people, migrants and Muslims fought President Emmanuel Macron’s government in a series of explosive battles that saw some of the highest levels of struggle in Europe for many years.1 It is, as one French analysis put it, a time “more turbulent than a stand of England ­supporters bottled up on Guinness”.2 The noted historian Pierre Rosanvallon said, “What we are experiencing here is the repetition of the Yellow Vests (Gilets Jaunes) movement, but much more serious. We are going through the most serious democratic crisis that France has known since the end of the Algerian conflict in 1962”.3

The fight against Macron’s attacks on pensions saw 14 national days of action called by unions between January and June, which included strikes and mass mobilisations. The scale of the demonstrations—involving, according to the General Confederation of Labour (CGT; Confédération Générale du Travail) union federation, up to 3.5 million people on both 7 and 23 March—were unprecedented. Although there were far fewer strikes and occupations, the size of the protests was greater than in the great year of revolt in 1968 and the year of revolutionary upheaval in 1936.

Hardly had the union leaders wrapped up the pensions battle when another major challenge to Macron’s government burst out. The police assassination of Nahel M, a 17 year old Parisian of Moroccan and Algerian heritage, led to ten days of ­ferocious urban revolts.4 The uprising terrified the French state, which responded with massive repression. Out of nearly 4,000 people arrested in eight days, a total of 2,107 were subsequently tried and 1,989 sentenced, including 1,787 who received a prison sentence. This was a conviction rate of nearly 95 percent. It was a ­conveyor belt of injustice, initiated from the top. In comparison, during the year of the Yellow Vests revolt, the state handed down 3,204 convictions and jailed 440 protesters.

Next came the mass demonstrations for Palestine, which broke out after Israel’s assault on Gaza began in October. Frequently these involved defiance of state bans—or immense pressure and campaigning to win permission to march at the last minute. There were other points of resistance, particularly the actions led by environmental activists in Les Soulèvements de la Terre (“The Earth Rising”).5

Yet, despite it all, Macron is still there. It is therefore necessary to present a balance sheet of these struggles—and to ask how our side can win clear victories. One crucial aspect of such an analysis will be to see each of these examples of class battles as linked, not just a series of unconnected struggles. The bourgeois politician, whether of the conservative or social democratic hue, and the union bureaucrat treat such issues as separate and discrete. Indeed, much of their time is spent on denying the connections.

A central element of the politics of, for example, the French Socialist Party, just as with the Labour Party in Britain, is that its ­representatives deal with political questions in parliament while the trade unions focus exclusively on economic issues. The union leaders mostly reciprocate this method. Marxists should apply a different approach—one that understands the toxic totality lying behind all the symptoms of capitalist society. This does not mean the participants in strikes and anti-racist riots are the same; often they are not. However, the root of the attacks on pensions and the maltreatment of black, Asian and Arab people are the same: a capitalist system structured around exploitation and oppression.6

The right battle in the wrong war?

So, how did Macron survive? For the trade union leaders, the problem was that they were simply unlucky in terms of who their opponents were; they had the right tactics but the wrong government to confront, and they were in the wrong geographical location. According to Sophie Binet, the leader of the CGT, which is the most militant union federation, “With another president of the Republic, in another country, we would have won”.7 This laughable ­suggestion offers no way forward—except to hope that at some point the people might elect a more congenial and sympathetic government. Yet, that is both far too slow an approach (the next French presidential election is not scheduled until April 2027) and implies that, faced with a right-wing ­government, workers are simply disarmed.

Serious inquests into the strikes and protests generally agree that Macron was damaged by the resistance. He forced through the changes to pensions, but only at the expense of massive and bitter opposition that went from simply an economic battle to one that went much deeper. The resistance exposed the limitations of bourgeois democracy because Macron forced through the attacks without even allowing a vote in parliament, using the provisions of the notorious section 49.3 of the French constitution. Then the police repression of pension protesters and strikers led to a much more widespread cynicism about the cops and the “justice” system.

However, that cannot be the end of it. Our goal is to win, not simply ­undermine or weaken our class enemy. The revolutionary socialists in Autonomie de Classe (A2C) put forward an explanation with which I broadly agree. They say the outcome was not inevitable, pointing to the “impasse in the strategy of the union leadership”. They argue that the commencement of the struggle engaged the unions so profoundly because “Macron’s attack did not only target the living and working conditions of millions of us—it also called into question the social position of the union leadership as negotiators between bosses, institutions (especially the state) and employees.” It follows that the “questioning of their place at the government table forced the union leadership to fight back in order to recreate a balance of power. However, maintaining this position required that the movement remain under their control and within the institutional framework.” This meant the emphasis was “on public opinion and demonstrations rather than strikes”: “Even during the preparation for the day of 7 March, when the arrogance of those in power forced the union leadership to raise the tone by talking about ‘bringing the country to a standstill’, Laurent Berger, the leader of the French Democratic Confederation of Labour (CFDT; Confédération Française Démocratique du Travail), denied any desire to ‘block the country’ with strikes”.8

A2C also pointed out how the trade union leaderships confined the struggle solely to the issue of pensions—even when broadening the front of resistance to retirement at 60, wages, contracts, equality in the workplace and other issues would potentially have involved many more workers. Furthermore, by ­refusing to take up political battles such as women’s rights and anti-racism, the trade union leaders prevented the construction of a more solid class solidarity.

Such a strategy was particularly ineffective after 15 April, when Macron signed his pension attacks into law, following the approval, the day before, of the essence of the legislation by France’s highest constitutional court. This included the central change of raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 years old. Once this had happened, it ruled out any solution within mainstream institutional limitations. Workers could win only by breaking from “normal” demands on politicians and overthrowing the people at the top in order to cause a rupture with the usual methods.

The power of the understanding put forward by A2C is that it starts from the social position of the trade union bureaucracy, an interpretation that has been elaborated repeatedly in this journal.9 However, to point out that the trade union leaders act in this way, and that they will always do so, is just the start. It is a crucial critique, but revolutionaries then have to say what they are going to do to overcome this limitation of that exists within trade unions under capitalism. It is necessary to ask, “Why didn’t the union leaders call a general strike?” However, it is not sufficient. It is also important to say what was possible and how rank and file workers can organise to win next time, given that the union leaders will not behave in a fundamentally different way.

A2C’s approach is contested by many others on the left who think that the union leaders were a problem, but not the main problem, and that they cannot really be criticised because the state of union organisation is too weak and the grassroots networks are too limited.

In the magazine of the New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA; Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste), Sylvain Pyro writes about criticisms of the “intersyndicale”, a body uniting the leaders of all the unions:

It is illusory to believe that the intersyndicale could have called a general strike. Yet, we had an unprecedented moment of support when all the unions, several weeks in advance, called to “block the country” on 7 March. At that point, rather than denouncing them, it was necessary to use this as a lever to try to overcome the situation. The confederal union leaderships did nothing on the ground. However, even at the grassroots, whatever the political currents, paralysis has predominated. The blockades, too few in number, were carried out far from workplaces, thus extracting activists from their own environment. They should have preferred to organise near companies rather than at the entrances to ring roads.10

In the same issue, Elsa Collonges, a member of the NPA’s national political council, writes: “The strikes were too weak to really block the country. Youth entered the movement late and insufficiently. Worker’s self-organisation was too weak to stimulate an acceleration in the pace of mobilisation”.11

Such theories rest on a widely held sociological analysis of the state of the working class. Take, for example, an interview with the researcher and writer Étienne Pénissat:

Unions have weakened over the last ten years. First, unionisation fell from 11 ­percent in 2013 to 10 percent in 2019. This union decline goes hand in hand with less ­participation of employees in professional elections as well as in union activities (meetings, leafletting and so on). The presence of union activists close to their colleagues in the workplace has therefore diminished in recent years, even in the public sector. Even if it remains important in a few “strongholds”, the union organising capacities of the strike have generally declined.

Pénissat roots this weakening of unions in an economic explanation. Crucial factors, he says, include:

The decline of industrial employment and large factories, the atomisation of employees on several sites and in small and medium-sized companies, the ­individualization of work (controlled by digital technologies, such as at Amazon), the precariousness of jobs (precarious contracts, self-entrepreneurship, “Uberisation”) and the lengthening of subcontracting chains, which destabilise and weaken work collectives. This makes unionisation and building active union teams more difficult.

Furthermore, there “was a very clear political will to considerably weaken the unions under President François Hollande and then under Macron”. Pénissat’s concludes that “entire sections of the proletariat are distanced from the unions”. That drives towards his argument:

I do not share the thesis of the “betrayal of the union leadership”, because in fact they were not “pushed” by the rise of strikes and by pressing requests from employees to go on strike. The strikers’ general assemblies were relatively weak… We have not moved away from a logic of strike by proxy.12

The counter-argument does not involve challenging the particular statistics about union membership set out here and in many other places; instead, it is to argue that they do not have to lead to these political conclusions. The working class in many countries has ­undergone defeats and setbacks during the period of neoliberalism. Even as ­struggle hits new levels because of the multiple crises of the system—economic, political, social and ecological—it has begun from a diminished base and with weakened grassroots structures. As the struggle takes place, the challenge is to accelerate the development of workers’ ­organisation through strike committees, general assemblies of workers, structures of ­solidarity and so on. Moreover, workers also have to seek to persuade other layers of the oppressed that the strikes and protests over economic issues are crucial to a wider struggle for emancipation. The male rail worker on strike has to make every effort to win the precariously employed, female, migrant hotel cleaner to the view that they are engaged in one fight—a common struggle over wages and pensions, but also against racism and sexism.

That can be done only when the strikers liberate themselves from the ­narrowness deliberately fostered by the trade union leaderships. Union leaders do not like campaigning over wider issues because they fear it will complicate their negotiating role. The bureaucrat wants to have an argument of this sort: “We want 10 percent, but the employer or the government has offered 4 ­percent. Can I get 6 percent and call it a victory (even if inflation is 8 percent)?” When left-wing figures, such as those within the NPA, place such an emphasis on the low levels of trade union membership, they provide an alibi for the union leaders’ desertion and betrayal. The objective reality is important, but it can also change.

Most importantly, instead of focusing on struggles between the left wing and the right wing at the top of the unions, we should begin from the social role of the whole of the full-time trade union bureaucracy in negotiating compromises. This understanding is the crucial tool of analysis.

“Leaps, leaps, leaps!”

The qualitative shift needed in workers’ resistance will not come about through a gradual accumulation of confidence and organisation. It means leaps whereby workers spring forward from passivity and fear into activity and belief in their own power. This type of understanding of the dynamics of resistance was addressed by the French Marxist Daniel Bensaïd in an article in this journal 20 years ago:

The convulsive history of the last century shows that we cannot so easily escape from the haunted world of the commodity, from its bloodthirsty gods and from their “box of repetitions”. Lenin’s untimely relevance results necessarily from this observation… Lenin’s political thought is that of politics as strategy, of favourable moments and weak links. The “homogeneous and empty” time of mechanical progress, without crises or breaks, is a non-political time. The idea maintained by Karl Kautsky of a “passive accumulation of forces” belongs to this kind of temporality… This socialism “outside of time”, and at the speed of a tortoise, dissolves the uncertainty of the political struggle into the proclaimed laws of historical evolution. Lenin, on the other hand, thought of politics as a time full of struggle, a time of crises and collapses. For him, the specificity of politics is expressed in the concept of a revolutionary crisis, which is not the logical continuation of a “social movement”, but a general crisis of the ­reciprocal relations between all the classes in society. It acts to lay bare the battle lines, which have been obscured by the mystical phantasmagoria of the commodity. Then alone, and not by virtue of some inevitable historical ripening, can the proletariat be transformed and “become what it is”.13

There is a lot going on in this extract. The most important idea is that to escape from the straitjacket of struggle within the system we require a ­systematic confrontation with the existing political leaderships of the working-class ­movement. At key moments, the trade union leaders consciously sabotaged the pension struggles in France. They kept the days of action separated by long intervals—sometimes days, sometimes weeks. From the massively ­successful first day of action, with two million marching, it was 12 days before the second, and then a further seven days to the third. There was a period of over two weeks between the 13 April day of action and the next one on 1 May, and then more than a month before the final one on 6 June.

This was unrelated to the “low level of unionisation”. It was a strategy to place pressure on the president and his MPs—one marching to the tune of an increasingly inappropriate parliamentary timetable. Protests were turned out mainly on key days on which MPs voted, even as millions were beginning to realise that parliament was not the key arena and would deliver only if forced to do so from the outside. The union leaders’ approach reinforced belief in bourgeois democracy just as people were breaking from it (at least in terms of the form of it enshrined in the French Fifth Republic).

Many analysts insist that the level of strike action failed to reach that of the unions’ victory against the government in 1995, but it was not nothing. It included a walkout on 19 January by 70 percent of school teachers, between 70 and 100 percent of refinery workers, 46 percent of SNCF rail workers and almost half of EDF power workers. The sluggishness in calling more action did not lead to a “rest then go again” mentality. Instead, it suggested to some that the unions were not that serious. When, for 7 March, the union leaders did put out a call to “bring France to a standstill”, some 3.5 million people joined ­demonstrations. However, this was a one-off rather than a strategic shift, and the trade union leaders seek to build on the moments of rank and file militancy. The number of “renewable strikes” (grèves reconductibles) were small, but they did take place in numerous sectors: parts of the rail industry; in energy firms such as EDF, Enedis and Engie; among some port workers and Total refinery employees; and among refuse workers in Paris, Le Havre and Rouen.14 These actions, though, were largely left isolated, sustained only by rank and file initiatives rather than being made a focus for support, solidarity and emulation by the unions themselves.

Trade union leaders love bureaucratic unanimity, compromise with their ­counterparts in other unions and an acceptance of marching at the pace of the slowest. In the early days of the strikes, the unity among the country’s eight union federations was a positive thing; everyone urged action, even the most right-wing leaders. Later, however, this unity became a fetter. The leaders of the CFDT, the largest federation, were always looking for a swift deal and, if that proved impossible, then a way out. As early as 6 April, CFDT leader Laurent Berger said: “There is no question of contesting the legitimacy of the Constitutional Council”.15 This was just as that body, which is the highest legal authority in the country, was ­preparing to rubber stamp Macron’s attacks. That was when the avowedly more left-wing trade union leaders should have openly broken with the CFDT. Instead, they meekly went along with it.

The union leaders did nothing to build on those moments when workers broke from the usual means of struggle. They were embarrassed when power workers implemented illegal power cuts against the bosses and MPs; they were absent when, for example, workers at the Fos-sur-Mer refinery in southern France fought off the riot police on 23 March.

The leaderships of the unions also failed to focus on successes, such as when the CGT Total Normandie union branch called trade unionists in the port city of Le Havre to a rally in front of the refinery. Over 300 strikers from all the industrial sectors of the region—dockers, ports, rail workers, Chevron oil workers and others—as well as students turned out. They stood outside the site all night to stop any return to work and to prevent police assaults on the pickets. Similarly, at points, “dead city” operations saw activists take over roundabouts and road junctions to close off areas from all traffic in cities such as Lille, Lyon, Chambéry, Lorient and Toulouse, but these actions were not spread.

As for the rank and file networks, they tried hard but were too small to overcome the trade union leaderships. It is hard to create strong enough organisation in a few weeks of struggle. The foundations have to be laid more firmly in advance.

In search of explanations

The background to the arguments on both sides is surveyed well by left-wing academic Sophie Béroud, who writes of a “massive and popular movement” but also sets out what are regarded as the limiting factors, ­particularly the “structural weakening of trade union representation over the last 15 years”. Béroud is particularly clear on the innovative and inspiring ­methods used by the power workers. She writes:

Directly affected by the end of special pension schemes, the electricity and gas workers were particularly active, with 12 weeks of strikes for some employees and the organisation of large daily reductions in electricity ­production. They also carried out hundreds of targeted electricity cuts in towns where members of the government or majority MPs are mayors—and towns that were being visited by Macron during his travels. They switched hospitals, small shops and buildings in ­working-class ­neighbourhoods onto reduced or free rates. Electricians and workers at gas companies have thus resumed the “Robin Hood” actions that were already publicised in 2004 and that had increased in 2022.16

Révolution Permanente, a Trotskyist group that split from the NPA, ­produced some strong critiques of the trade union bureaucracy during the strikes and took some bold initiatives, but they lack a full analysis of the reason for the unions’ betrayals. Some of the reasons are clear when we consider the approach of their co-thinkers in the United States, who are gathered around the magazine Left Voice. This publication has recently conducted a debate about the existence of a “labour aristocracy” in the US. The argument, which originates in some of the formulations used by Lenin, is that this layer of ­workers is fattened by the profits of imperialism and thus plays a reactionary role in the workers’ movement. It is then suggested that this provides the social base for the union leadership, which reflects this thin layer of workers who supposedly have an interest in imperialism (and know they have such an interest). In this analysis, it is not the social role of the bureaucracy that matters, but rather its supposed social foundations. Earlier this year, Jason Koslowski explained these ideas in Left Voice:

We should see the labour aristocracy as that upper layer of the US working class whose living conditions are most closely linked to the imperialist welfare state, broadly speaking. As a general rule, we might say that the aristocracy is that layer of well-remunerated workers—perhaps we can set a benchmark of $60,000 a year?—tapping into substantial benefits such as health insurance, life insurance, ­pensions, paid vacations and so on. Moreover, such an upper layer of workers have access to what Lenin called “cultural facilities” and ­“educational institutions” (colleges and universities, for example, and from there, perhaps the entrance of their children into the middle-class professions), which are often funded by the state—not to mention the unions, often paid for out of ­imperialist plunder.17

Koslowski then casts around for an example of these bought and paid for sections of the working class. His choice is rather jarring: unionised auto workers. Unfortunately for him, his article was published just a few weeks before some 150,000 of these unionised auto workers began a struggle against the “Big Three” US car manufacturers (General Motors, Ford and Stellantis) for the first time since the foundation of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union 88 years ago.

Many of the strikers were on less than $60,000 a year, but it is simply not true that those below this level of income fought and those above did not. Indeed, as soon as UAW union leaders declared a win, Left Voice said, “The UAW strike was not just a victory for auto workers. It was a victory for the entire working class.” A struggle in which, according to their own analysis, the aristocracy of labour was centrally involved, actually boosted everyone. This type of analysis by Left Voice and its co-thinkers, and indeed the theory of the labour aristocracy, is an extraordinarily weak guide to the behaviour of the trade union bureaucracy.18

The response to the urban riots after Nahel M’s murder also showed the failings of the unions and the social democrats. The most high-profile figure on the French left, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, described the police as “uncontrolled”. It was hardly a wild description after months of assaults on pension protesters and then the cops’ attempt to cover up the execution of a teenager. However, even this sort of language was too much for the leader of the Socialist Party (PS; Parti Socialiste), Olivier Faure, who said he was “in deep disagreement” with Mélenchon. Speaking in Lyon, Faure argued, “We are right to call for calm and a return to civil peace. We cannot give the feeling of encouraging and accepting violence.” The PS, along with the Greens (Les Écologistes) and the French Communist Party, is part of the NUPES (“New Ecological and Social People’s Union”) electoral alliance with Mélenchon. Sections of the PS object to this link, even though it provides life support for the party, which has haemorrhaged support in recent years. These voices within the PS have used Mélenchon’s response to the riots as a further reason to attempt to break off the relationship.

Similarly, Fabien Roussel, the leader of the French Communist Party, produced a terrible series of attacks on the rioters. Early on, he announced his “absolute condemnation of the violence that took place that night”—and he did not mean the cops. He added, “When you are on the left, you defend public services, not their looting.” Roussel has repeatedly given concessions to racism, including criticising France’s borders for being like “sieves” that let in too many people. Similarly, a group from the Trotskyist tradition, Lutte Ouvrière, responded in an appalling manner. Its main statement recognised the poverty and racism that young black and Arab people face, but it goes on:

There are young people, kids, who live with rage in their hearts. This is what pushes a small part of them to respect nothing. It was this rage that exploded into blind violence with Nahel’s death. The destructive fury that has hit some neighbourhoods is causing consternation, dismay and even anger—and for good reason! It is not the bourgeois who see their car, their fancy restaurant, and their tennis or golf course go up in smoke. It is the women and men of the working classes who find themselves destitute, without a social centre, without a shop from which to get their shopping, without transport to get to work.

The statement went on to denounce “small thugs and traffickers, who do not care much about putting the lives of the inhabitants in danger”.19

This echoes government spokesperson Olivier Véran, who said, “There is no political message here. When you loot a Foot Locker, Lacoste or Sephora store, there is no political message. It’s looting.” In fact, the riots were political—and ­looting is political. The riots’ targets were overwhelmingly the state and its ­repressive thugs. It would be excellent if a social explosion targeted solely the rich and their luxury lairs. However, that has never been a reality—even a strike does not do that. A nurses’ walkout does not just hit millionaires—indeed they have their private health services to rely on. It can mean pain and suffering for working-class people, but it is entirely correct for medical workers in Britain to strike for better pay and to defend the NHS.

The same divorce between sections of the left and the struggles of oppressed was evident when the government’s banned school students from wearing the abaya—a flowing dress worn by some Muslims—in August. Sophie Binet, the social-democratic bureaucrat who became the leader of the CGT, thought that it would be very interesting and useful to give her opinion on the subject. Frustration, a left-wing online publication, reported on her contribution to the debate:

“Since it is considered a religious sign, obviously it must be prohibited.” Yes, except that it is only considered a religious sign by racists. If they are the ones who set the tone for what is religious and what is not, we are finished.

Then came Roussel who…says that he wants to close the “sieve” borders and has media positions almost systematically aligned with the injunctions of the extreme right and his friend Gérald Darmanin. “I approve of this decision. School heads needed clear instructions”, he declared on Sud Radio.20

Nonetheless, it is important to end with the hope and possibilities evoked by the battles in France. The pension struggle created a layer of activists who are much more radical than those at the top of the unions and the “left” ­parties. They shaped a better response by the unions than in previous, similar episodes. They helped to build the demonstrations against police violence and for civil rights on 23 September, which saw 80,000 people take part across France—even if that did not include the leaders of the PS and the French Communist Party.

The overall analysis offered here matters if such struggles are to advance. It underlines how revolutionaries must constantly look for ways to support struggle but also build rank and file networks. Furthermore, they must bring together those who are fighting over one issue together with those who are moving into struggle over another issue. The pension protesters were “unlucky” that their resistance failed to overlap with the riots a few weeks later, but the trade union leaders could have restarted the strikes alongside the riots—and that would probably have broken Macron. They refused to do so. Whether the level of struggle grows and is made more effective will not just affect the economic conditions of workers; it will also have a huge impact on whether the fascist Rassemblement National (“National Rally”, formerly known as the National Front), led by Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella, continue to profit from the turmoil in French society.

Charlie Kimber is the editor of Socialist Worker and a co-author of The Labour Party: A Marxist History (Bookmarks, 2019).


1 This analysis should be read alongside the piece by Denis Godard in a previous edition of this journal—see Godard, 2023. Thanks to all the comrades in France within the International Socialist Tendency and other organisations, as well as other individuals, who have helped me write about France, even if some will disagree with this article.

2 Frustration, 2023—and, yes, I know that most English sport fans prefer lager.

3 Bourgeois, 2023. The Yellow Vests movement, which began in 2018, was a predominantly working-class wave of protest that was sparked by tax changes proposed by Macron. For a more detailed account, see Bouharoun, 2019. In 1962, Algeria achieved independence from France after a long anti-colonial struggle.

4 The full name of the victim was Nahel Merzouk, but the authorities referred to him only as Nahel M. Much of the left and the anti-racist movement still use this abbreviated form in order to stress that, as one younger person of Algerian descent in Lyon told me, “He could have been any of us.”

5 Les Soulèvements de la Terre’s activities are discussed in Godard, 2023.

6 On this point, see, for instance, Choonara, 2020.

7 Binet, 2023.

8 Autonomie de Classe, 2023.

9 See, for instance, Choonara, 2023.

10 Pyro, 2023. The intersyndicale (“inter-union”) united the trade union leaderships—from the most combative to the most moderate.

11 Collonges, 2023.

12 Pénissat, 2023. “Strike by proxy” refers to the tactic of supporting action just in “strategic” sectors such as transport and power generation, with these workers seen as striking on behalf of the entire working class. It is often contrasted with the idea of “massification”: involving as much of the working class as possible in action. Discussions of striking by proxy are sometimes connected to the theory that much of the working class now does “bullshit jobs” that are not central to how the system functions, supposedly rendering their strikes ineffective.

13 Bensaïd, 2002.

14 During renewable strikes, strikers meet each day to decide whether to continue the strike.

16 Béroud, 2023.

17 Koslowski, 2023. A salary of $60,000 is equivalent to around £48,000 in Britain.

18 On the weaknesses of labour aristocracy theory more generally, see, for instance, Cliff, 1957; Corr and Brown, 1993; Post, 2006.

19 Lutte Ouvrière, 2023.

20 Grams, 2023. Darmanin is Macron’s reactionary interior minister, who has been at the centre of banning pro-Palestinian demonstrations, new laws targeting migrants and the restrictions on the abaya.


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