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Document 3:

Paris, May 22nd, 1968

In the space of ten days, not only have workers occupied hundreds of factories and a spontaneous general strike has totally shut down the country, but de facto committees have occupied and taken over the management of various government buildings. In such a situation, which of course cannot last, but which must either extend itself or disappear (liquidated through repression or negotiation), old ideas are swept away, radical assumptions about the return of the revolutionary proletarian movement are confirmed. The fact that the movement was triggered five months ago by a half dozen revolutionaries from the “Enragés” group all the better reveals to what extent objective conditions were already present. Already the French example has resounded across national borders and has led to the resurgence of an internationalism inseparable from revolutions in our century.

Today the fundamental struggle is between the masses of workers who have no direct voice, and the leftist political and trade union bureaucracies, which—though only 14% of workers are unionized—control access to the factory doors and the right to negotiate in the name of the occupiers. These bureaucracies are not products of degenerated and treacherous workers’ organizations, but mechanisms of integration into capitalist society. In today’s crisis, they are the main protectors of a shaky capitalism.

Gaullism can make a deal, essentially with the P.C.F. – C.G.T. [the Communist Party and its trade union] (this would be indirectly) to demobilize the workers in exchange for economic gains; radical currents would then be repressed. The state can move to the “left;” it will make the same policy, albeit from a weaker position. It can also attempt repression by force. Or, finally, the workers can take over by speaking for themselves and by becoming aware of demands on the level of radicalized forms of struggle, forms that they have already put into practice. Such a process would lead to the formation of workers councils, making decisions democratically at the grassroots level, forming a federation with immediately revocable delegates, and becoming the only deliberative and executive power for the whole country. 

How does the continuation of the current situation offer such a perspective? In maybe a few days, the need to restart certain sectors of the economy, now under workers’ control, can establish the basis of this new power, which goes beyond trade unions and existing political parties. Trains and printers must be put back in operation to service the needs of the workers’ struggle. New de facto authorities have to requisition and distribute food. It may be necessary to replace the failed currency with new forms of money committed to the future of these new authorities. It is in such a practical process that the profound will of the working class can assert itself, the class consciousness that seizes history and achieves, for all workers, control over all aspects of their own lives.

Paris, May 22nd, 1968




The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2018

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