Another Look at the Anti-CPE Movement in France

A New Generation Entered The Arena


In the last issue ofInternationalist Perspective, we discussed the movement against the “First Hiring Contract” (CPE) carried out by French youth. Today we wish to return to this movement more broadly, while reconsidering the general questions that it posed in connection with the current class struggle.

For IP that movement was unquestionably a movement of a part of the proletariat and, as such, it was a reaffirmation of the fundamental antagonisms between the classes. On the one side, there is a capitalist system which more and more openly shows the reality of its crisis, its functioning and its perspective: the total submission of each part of society to the law of the value entailing that labor power loses its human character and becomes an object that one uses, which one displaces, that one devalues and which one throws out according to the immediate needs of capital; a need to attack and to adapt labor power in an increasingly direct way to the urgent economic imperatives, with the consequences of insecurity, exclusion, impoverishment and flexibility which that implies. Modern capitalism no longer simply needs labor producing material goods, but also requires the production of immaterial goods and innovating projects on the technological and scientific level, which further increases the flexibility and the insecurity of a part of living capital. We are seeing the constitution of a stratum of highly trained proletarians, often working in an isolated way and engaged for only the duration of a precise project. The last bill on immigration presented by Sarkozy, perfectly reflects this increased insecurity and this flexibility. Against this system, we find a proletariat that refuses to subject itself to capitalist logic, through social movements, which, if they are unable to shape a common perspective, nonetheless reflect the development of a climate of tension and social agitation that is perceptible throughout the world.

In positioning itself directly in terms of a rejection of insecurity, the student movement marked its refusal of submission and adaptation to the ineluctable logic of capital. The ruling class has clearly understood this: in the commentaries of the bourgeoisie of other European countries, the point which was, and which continues to be emphasized, is the need for adapting to the changes that have transpired, agreeing to say good-bye to the old forms of work, “comfort” and social protection... In this way too, the ruling class shows how it more and more intends to treat its living capital and the student movement was a protest against that intention. With respect to the anti-CPE movement itself, I would like to tackle four questions: