Against far-right ideas, a movement of the entire CGT

The far right, supported and carried by neoliberal policies, would be at the gates of power. It’s not about “playing” at scaring yourself, but about confronting reality. In 2022, the National Rally (RN) obtained an unprecedented result in the second round of the presidential election, garnering points in all territories and all sectors, public and private: + 7 points (compared to 2017) in the territorial civil service and as many in the private sector, nearly 15 in the hospital civil service, shows a research report by Luc Rouban for Cevifop, Center for political research at Sciences Po. All socio-professional categories are concerned: 33% of executives , but also 27% of category A civil servants or 25% of teachers voted for Marine Le Pen.

Finally, no union is spared, underlines Nathalie Bazire, confederal secretary: 31% of FO supporters, 29% of those of the CFTC and 22% of those of the CGT opted for the RN in the second round of the last presidential. Eighteen months later, all opinion analyzes highlight the path taken by the far right in people’s minds, including the eleventh annual survey “French Fractures”, carried out by Ipsos-Sopra Steria for Le Monde, the Foundation Jean-Jaurès, Cevifop and the Institut Montaigne.

Racism is not divided

Less than a year before the European elections, “we are at a tipping point”, warns Sophie Binet, general secretary of the CGT, the rise of the far right thriving on “the ruins of capital”, notably fueled by the environmental inaction and climate skepticism, generators of social violence all over the world. By organizing, on October 5 in Montreuil, a conference “The CGT resolutely on the offensive in the fight against far-right ideas; No to racism, no to anti-Semitism”, the CGT opposes a reaffirmed determination to fight them. The presence of 450 participants, ready to exchange, listen to each other, reflect while respecting their diversity by tackling complex debates (secularism, the rise of fundamentalism in all religions, the “trivialization” of the extreme right, etc.) testifies to the lucid concern of the activists as much as it expresses their desire to act.

Starting with the fight against racism, against all racisms of which anti-Semitism is a part. Matrixes of the extreme right, they are the subject of an initial debate. “Racism is political. It constitutes a diverse global that is not divided,” underlines Pierre Tartakowsky, vice-president of the CNCDH (National Consultative Commission on Human Rights). In its 33rd report, following an electoral year marked by the rejection of others and widespread suspicion, the Commission explains as follows: “Each attack on rights (…), each unpunished discrimination affecting the dignity of people constitutes direct threats to any democratic society, for respect for fundamental rights, which are essentially universal, indivisible and interdependent.” In other words, wanting to “eliminate” the other, in this case the foreigner, in the hope that things will be better for oneself, does not work: everyone, in the end, loses.

However, the far right continues to make immigration the source of all evil. It exploits it, the debates show, by invigorating itself from the divisions it creates, particularly in the world of work, by advocating “national preference”, renamed “national priority”. Placed at the heart of its economic program, this priority is analyzed as a “social imposture” by Pierre Khalfa, member of the Scientific Council of Attac and the Copernic Foundation. In a CGT document given to participants, this “imposture” is presented on several themes: wages (reduction in social security contributions and refusal to increase the minimum wage); pensions (no retirement at 60); public services (privatization of nurseries, lower taxes); those deprived of employment (establishment of national priority) or taxation (refusal to tax the richest or super profits).

A challenge for the European trade union movement

“Ethnic” conception of the Nation and social imposture thus feed on each other, says Valérie Parra Balayé, Europe manager at the UGT (General Union of Workers), Spanish trade union confederation. A global phenomenon, the rise of the far right has not spared Spain: appearing in 2013, it was barely five years later that the Vox party made a sensational entry into the Parliament of Andalusia; in a decade, it became the third political force in the country and founded its union “drift” Solidaridad. Valérie Parra Balayé explains: “A child of Francoism, Vox advocates the reduction of access to health services, is also opposed to women, LGBT people, environmental rights… It is an indivisible whole”.

As the creation of Solidaridad underlies, the unions are also in the sights. “If one day the far right comes to power, the CGT will be one of its first targets because we embody everything it hates: the fight against capitalism, internationalism, solidarity,” warns Sophie Binet . For Italy, Monica Ceremigna, advisor for the Europe and International area at the CGIL (Italian General Confederation of Labor) already demonstrates the impossibility of debate, with unrepresentative unions now being invited to the “negotiations” table. Since the Meloni government came to power, around ten national demonstrations have been organized. At the call of the CGIL, the latest, on Saturday October 7, was held in Rome for the defense of the Italian constitution, adopted in 1947 at the end of the Second World War and Mussolini’s fascism. Initiated by the Italian Confederation, the call “La via Maestra, together for the Constitution” received broad international union support, with messages of solidarity coming from the CGT, the UGT in Spain, and the Confederation of Swiss Trade Unions. , FGBT in Belgium, Fratia in Romania, Sak in Finland, Uni Europa, CLC in Canada…

Against the far right, don’t limit yourself to values

“Your struggles inspire us”, underlines the general secretary of the CGT, in her conclusion, inviting us to bring internationalism to life and to fight against fatalism. Nothing, in fact, is inevitable, as illustrated by Spain, which has already shown, if not “the”, at least “one” way: it is by organizing a vast campaign combining a union platform “for a job worthy” listing all the initiatives to fight against discrimination, actions on specific themes (against fake news for example) and a call for international solidarity, which the UGT contributed to thwarting the announced victory of Vox, in the last legislative elections.

In these “shifting” moments, talking about values is no longer enough. Sophie Binet assures: “We must denounce the social imposture of the RN, the best ally of neoliberalism; promote solidarity to bring equality to life by organizing workers, like the work developed with undocumented immigrants; make the fight against the fight against relations of sexist and racist domination a union issue in its own right, on the same level as the fight against capitalist exploitation; to win our struggles which, in essence, bring people together and to promote them.” So many antidotes “to the poison of division”, a powerful fuel for the extreme right.

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