French lessons

27 October, 2010 —

The lessons of the struggle against Sarkozy’s pension ‘reform’ apply beyond France.


On the march in Paris against Nicolas Sarkozy's pension reform law (Rafael Lopez)

THE FRENCH revolt against austerity has transformed politics in France–and it has the potential to do the same across Europe and beyond.

The relentless international drive to force down working-class living standards has run smack into a united and determined working class with one of the most militant traditions in the world.

For weeks, France has been roiled by strikes, street protests, road blockades and student walkouts organized against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s proposal for pension ‘reform.’ Even after the legislation passed its final vote in the French parliament, the demonstrations continued, and the country’s unions were backing two further nationwide days of strikes and action, on October 28 and November 6.

Sarkozy’s popularity has plunged to an all-time low for a French president of 29 percent, and the protest movement against pension ‘reform’ has been steadily supported by around 70 percent of the population.

A few months ago, Sarkozy was bolstering his standing with a mass deportation of Roma immigrants and a law banning the wearing of the hiqab or burqa by Muslim women. But in a matter of several weeks, the rebellion of French workers and students has halted Sarkozy’s momentum and replaced the ugly rightward drift in French politics with a message of working-class power, unity and solidarity.

These developments hold lessons for workers and the left across Europe and in other countries–including the U.S., where the pressure on working class living standards is severe, and the right wing and its campaigns against Muslims, immigrants and LGBT rights have rapidly come to dominate national politics.

As France shows, a united working-class struggle can counter the politics of austerity and scapegoating just as rapidly.

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VTJP Palestine/Israel Newslinks 26 October, 2010: In photos: Aftermath of an Israeli raid

26 October, 2010 — VTJP


International Middle East Media Center

Study Reveals Israel Among the Most Corrupt Countries
IMEMC – 26 Oct 2010 – Tuesday October 26, 2010 – 16:43, A study released by the International Transparency Organization on Tuesday, found Israel to be among the most corrupt countries in the Western World. The 2010 study ranked 178 countries. A score of one was given for the least corrupt. Israel was listed at number 30.

Israeli Troops Kidnap 6 Palestinians in Jerusalem
IMEMC – 26 Oct 2010 – Tuesday October 26, 2010 – 13:03, The Israeli army abducted, on Tuesday morning, six Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem claiming they were hurling stones at Israeli police vehicles. The detainees were taken to al-Maskobeya detention and interrogation center in West Jerusalem.

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I Pity The Nation That Needs To Jail Those Who Ask For Justice By Arundhati Roy

26 October, 2010 — ZCommunications

Part 1

For her recent talk on Kashmir writer Arundhati Roy has come under threat of “sedition” charges in India. These speeches are currently being analyzed by Delhi police. 

Her response to the threat is below and was issued from Srinagar.

I write this from Srinagar, Kashmir. This morning’s papers say that I may be arrested on charges of sedition for what I have said at recent public meetings on Kashmir. I said what millions of people here say every day. I said what I, as well as other commentators have written and said for years. Anybody who cares to read the transcripts of my speeches will see that they were fundamentally a call for justice. I spoke about justice for the people of Kashmir who live under one of the most brutal military occupations in the world; for Kashmiri Pandits who live out the tragedy of having been driven out of their homeland; for Dalit soldiers killed in Kashmir whose graves I visited on garbage heaps in their villages in Cuddalore; for the Indian poor who pay the price of this occupation in material ways and who are now learning to live in the terror of what is becoming a police state.

Yesterday I traveled to Shopian, the apple-town in South Kashmir which had remained closed for 47 days last year in protest against the brutal rape and murder of Asiya and Nilofer, the young women whose bodies were found in a shallow stream near their homes and whose murderers have still not been brought to justice. I met Shakeel, who is Nilofer’s husband and Asiya’s brother. We sat in a circle of people crazed with grief and anger who had lost hope that they would ever get ‘insaf’—justice—from India, and now believed that Azadi—freedom— was their only hope. I met young stone pelters who had been shot through their eyes. I traveled with a young man who told me how three of his friends, teenagers in Anantnag district, had been taken into custody and had their finger-nails pulled out as punishment for throwing stones.

In the papers some have accused me of giving ‘hate-speeches’, of wanting India to break up. On the contrary, what I say comes from love and pride. It comes from not wanting people to be killed, raped, imprisoned or have their finger-nails pulled out in order to force them to say they are Indians. It comes from wanting to live in a society that is striving to be a just one. Pity the nation that has to silence its writers for speaking their minds. Pity the nation that needs to jail those who ask for justice, while communal killers, mass murderers, corporate scamsters, looters, rapists, and those who prey on the poorest of the poor, roam free.

Arundhati Roy
October 26 2010