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Alain Krivine’s Election Platform

(23 June 1969)

Intercontinental Press, Vol. 7, No. 24, June 23, 1969, pp. 627–631.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The campaign of Alain Krivine, candidate of the Communist League (Ligue Communiste – the French section of the Fourth International) for president of France, brought the ideas of revolutionary socialism to a wide audience.

Many speeches were given over radio and television, including a number of nationwide hookups. Mass meetings and rallies were held in Paris and throughout the provinces. Besides this, a great deal of literature was distributed.

The key item, translated below, was Krivine’s election platform. Some 30,000,000 copies of this platform were printed and distributed by the government in accordance with the provisions of French electoral law.

• • •

An Election Will Solve Nothing!

There Is Only One Solution – Develop Direct Struggles

Where Are the Forces of May?

In May 1968, 10,000,000 workers were on strike. They had power within their grasp. They were the power. On May 24, when de Gaulle offered them the sop of a referendum, they answered at once – “Power Is in the Street!” And there was no referendum ...

The bosses were offering the velvet glove and an obliging face. The ministers were quietly packing their bags to abandon ship. The workers could have demanded much more than a precarious improvement in their lot. They could have demanded everything. They could have demanded the only thing that really will nail down their gains – expropriation of the bourgeoisie and power to the workers.

And today the bosses are offering this force, which was so formidable in the May strikes, a choice between Pompidou and Poher. Who are they kidding?

However, Gaullism will not survive de Gaulle. The foundations of Gaullism are undermined. Threatened by an awakened working class, the French bourgeoisie is hastily taking refuge behind the skirts of American imperialism. The big bourgeoisie, lined up behind Pompidou, is making this retreat with resignation. But the middle bourgeoisie, which is ready and willing to bargain for a reprieve, is turning tail with enthusiasm. It has puffed up Poher in a few days, launching him like a new brand of soap.

Who could feel naturally enthusiastic over this colorless Fourth Republic functionary? Since he is totally devoid of personality, the press is trying to give him a comforting image of conciliatory mediocrity. And an entire left that was only “left” because it was anti-de Gaulle and pro-American is relieved to find a champion ...

Poher accuses Pompidou of sliding toward the center. Pompidou accuses Poher of stealing his program. What program? On the one side they talk about “continuity with progress,” and on the other, “progress with continuity.” Who can make anything out of this?

Certainly, the workers expected a new regime to follow from the fall of de Gaulle – their own.

These elections are turning into a masquerade. They are an insult to the workers, coming one year after the May strikes. Since May, the workers have suffered one disillusionment after another. After the most formidable strike that the country ever experienced, the vote gave the Gaullists an unparalleled majority. Then de Gaulle’s defeat in the referendum led to an election campaign where you can’t tell the candidates apart.

But where are the forces of May, which yesterday were so powerful and today are so disarmed? By changing the field of battle, they lost all their best cards. By exchanging the red flag for the green curtain at the polls, the clamor of the street for the muted silence of the voting booths, they have lost all initiative.

Who Are the Utopians?

Before May the journalists and the sociologists all agreed that the workers no longer had only their chains to lose but their gains – their TVs, their refrigerators, their cars, their paid vacations, and their credit ...

Even some militants despaired of their class and talked mournfully about the softening and bourgeoisification of the working class.

However, the breadth of the May explosion itself could only be explained by a long accumulation of insults and humiliations – a work-week still in excess of forty-five hours, the difficulty of finding a job matching your skills, dubious safety and health conditions, brutalizing production-line tempos. And this is to say nothing of dreadful conditions in transportation, the housing problem, etc. ...

Promoting the image of a submissive and bourgeoisified working class, the POP [Parti Communiste Français – French Communist party] has projected a strategy for taking power suited to this image – a strategy of taking power by legal and parliamentary means. The PCF prefers motions of censure to factory occupations.

This strategy offered a formidable weapon to strike down one-man rule – the “common program.” [1] But what happened? De Gaulle has, indeed, fallen. But he fell precisely because there was no common program! The bourgeoisie was able, without any danger to itself, to use the workers’ votes to rid itself of this old man who had become ineffective and was getting in the way.

According to this strategy of peaceful roads to socialism, a united left government should have succeeded de Gaulle. But de Gaulle’s departure has scattered this left to the four winds. Did this left ever exist, moreover, except on the floor of parliament? Did it ever exist for any purpose but electoral bargaining? In all real struggles, it has been divided. When Jules Moch [2] sent the CBS [Compagnies Republicaines de Securité – Republican Security Companies – elite security troops] against the miners, was he further to the left than Marcellin? And when Guy Mollet [3] sent paratroopers to Suez and voted credits for the Algerian war? And what about Mitterrand [4] when he was minister of the interior?

The PCF in particular, since it spent all its time yapping about one-man rule, finds itself completely at a loss since the “strong state” has survived its Bonaparte.

Who are the Utopians?

Those who say that majorities are won in struggle and that you must demonstrate your will and determination in order to win over allies and show them that you are a serious contender for power? Or are the Utopians the ones who wanted first to reassure potential allies by respecting bourgeois law and order, by trading off the May movement for an election?

Today the monopolist big bourgeoisie no longer rules through parliament. The bourgeoisie needs clear and quick decisions. The bourgeoisie with the best chances in the great capitalist competition is the one that most perceptively weighs the strength of the working class. As soon as a left majority is won or firmed up, the bourgeoisie does not hesitate to violate its own legality in order to intervene. The fate of Greece was decided this way, with the support of NATO.

The parliament has been put on the shelf. The bourgeoisie governs by means of special commissions operating behind the scenes in the state apparatus. Electoralism is more and more in an impasse. The workers’ votes are lost in the electoral combinations. Only struggle on its own home ground, in the factories and the street, will enable the working class to count its contingents and measure its forces.

The Kind of Government We Want

The presidential elections will solve nothing. They will provide a successor to de Gaulle, reassuring all those who thought he was irreplaceable. But in doing this they will not solve the problems that were at the root of May. Today an electoral truce prevails. No one would risk offending the voters by daring to take measures that were too unpopular. But as soon as the formality is accomplished, the bourgeoisie will start making up for lost time. It has to overcome the losses for which it blames a combative working class.

Devaluation, deflation, a wage freeze, and austerity will be on the order of the day, the morning after June 15. The ones who put their hopes in the defeat of the referendum will only be more embittered. The example of May must teach us that the government we want is not a parliamentary reshuffling, another dosage of alliances in the National Assembly, or a redistribution of ministerial portfolios. The government we want cannot be delegated to any party or president. The government we want is the workers power that arose in the factories and the streets, the power we got a glimpse of in May.

In factories emptied of bosses, the workers organized themselves. Often strike committees were elected and the life of the plants was reorganized on a different model.

For the first time, the workers went into their factories as if they owned them. Far from punching a time clock and submitting to the brutalization of work and the overcrowding of the public transportation system, they took their fate into their own hands.

Today the government talks about strikes as if they were an act of collective sabotage. But in May the sympathy of the population was with the workers in struggle.

All strata of society were shaken by the May earthquake. The professional soccer players occupied the headquarters of their association. The doctors even besieged the highly reactionary Conseil de l’Ordre [Council of the Order – the French medical association]. And others did the same in the big stores, the hotels, and the restaurants.

So who was isolated then? The 10,000,000 workers supported by the overwhelming majority of the population? Or the bourgeoisie panicked by the movement which was forcing them out of their place in society?

May 1968 was not just a massive strike and a lot of demonstrations. It was above all an attempt, in face of a crumbling bourgeois state, to lay the first foundations of workers power.

The movement’s real potential was shown by the resumption of operations in some plants by the workers themselves; the organization of transportation with the equipment available in the automotive industry; and the procurement of provisions in direct cooperation with the peasants, the farm cooperatives, and the merchants on a wholesale basis, eliminating the middlemen.

The bourgeoisie has wasted a lot of time and paper in drumming in the idea that you have to have specialists and bosses. Do you need specialists to buy eggs and chickens directly in the country? Do you need specialists to run the buses?

We might add, moreover, that many specialists, engineers, and technicians were on the side of the workers in May and sometimes helped them in very concrete ways. These specialists also found in the May movement their first means of freeing themselves from the narrow tasks they were chained to – i.e., supervising a particularly tiny sector of the production process without knowing what comes before or after.

Here also only the workers could achieve an organization of work corresponding to the capacities of each person involved and not to the needs of the bosses and the state.

If these experiments had been consciously extended rather than held back, they would have quickly led to national coordination of the workers in struggle, coordination of strike committees, factory committees, and action committees.

The extension of these forms of power would have built a mighty force opposed to the bourgeoisie and capable of demonstrating that it could start the economy moving again for its own benefit.

The regime was an empty shell. De Gaulle and his ministers themselves realized it after May. State power was there to be taken; the workers would have taken it if they had been given a perspective.

All of de Gaulle’s imprecations, threats, and speeches would have run up against this wall – without us you can do nothing and you can bet that we are not going to do anything for you. The Gaullist bluff would have lasted like the ripples of a stone in a lake.

Today the experience of May is not just a memory. It inspires the workers in their daily struggle. It stimulates their initiative.

Thus, small numbers of workers are paralyzing whole factories by work stoppages at key points which foul up all the production lines. They are resisting plant closings and firings by occupying their shops. They are slowing down the pace of the production lines without trying to negotiate with the bosses but by presenting them with an accomplished fact and thus denying their norms and their authority.

The sole solution is by this road – advancing the class struggle.

The Only Way Out – Advance the Class Struggle

The workers aspire to real changes, not illusory ones. They know that to transform their condition they must seize political power. This does not mean replacing one bourgeois governmental team with another. It means getting rid of the government of the bourgeoisie. This objective will never be attained by electoral and parliamentary roads. In any election all the dice are loaded. It is the governments that regulate elections. The division into electoral districts, the election rules, radio, television, and the newspapers are utilized for the benefit of their interests. The real battles are not waged, in voting booths but at the point of production. The real victories are won in the factories and in the street. The power we want, workers power, will not grow from the ballot box but from the upsurge of mass struggles. It must be based on the organs of struggle the workers create for themselves – plant and neighborhood committees supervising production as a preliminary to expropriating the bosses and managing a planned economy directly.

Such a power appeared in May 1968 through the factory occupations. It represented the basis of real workers democracy, a regime radically different from the sinister caricatures of socialism provided by the USSR and the people’s democracies. This is the kind of power we are fighting for. This is the objective toward which the struggles must be directed.

The Socialism We Are Fighting For

The Vietnamese revolutionists of the National Liberation Front have won the admiration of workers throughout the world by struggling against American imperialism arms in hand. They have shown the way to all the peoples of the world who are struggling for national and social emancipation.

The example of Che Guevara has inspired and heartened the revolutionists of Latin America and it is the symbol of the Cuban revolution, of socialist Cuba, which continues to inspire the struggles of the guerrillas in Latin America.

The resistance by the Palestinian masses to the domination of their country is winning increased solidarity throughout the world today.

The struggle of the workers in Czechoslovakia against the Stalinist bureaucracy of the USSR and against the capitulation of their own bureaucracy has shown that socialism is incompatible with invading tanks and soldiers.

The socialism for which the workers of France rose up in May 1968 cannot be a narrow “national” socialism.

The year 1968 showed that this earthquake occurred not only in France but internationally.

Germany, Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay, Lebanon, Egypt, Yugoslavia, Spain, Italy, and Pakistan experienced crises lesser in scope but similar to the one in France.

This year other countries throughout the world have seen revolutions germinating.

Nowhere is the power of the bourgeoisie secure. Everywhere its power has already been undermined by the warning ripples of revolution.

Workers, Students!

The socialism we want will be international. It will be built by the workers of the entire world and will put an end to the competition of their hypocritical bourgeoisies.

Facing a French bourgeoisie that is rallying its forces behind the shield offered by the USA and lavishing beaming looks – which it calls Poher or Pompidou – on the American imperialism of Nixon, facing this kind of a bourgeoisie, we must reinforce our solidarity with our comrades in struggle who will one day bring down this imperialism – the resistance fighters of Vietnam, the guerrillas of Latin America, the Palestinian fighters, the black revolutionists in the American ghettos, and the advanced workers of the USA.

The socialism we want has nothing to do with a change in the ministerial lineup or in the presidency, even if the president or the ministers were “socialists.”

Workers power is not the power of a party but exercise of power by the workers themselves organized in their own councils and factory and neighborhood committees.

No ballot will ever win this power.

The workers will seize it, in the struggle they themselves will organize today to win back what the bourgeoisie took away from them after May, and in the struggle they will organize tomorrow to conquer the state.

The elections will not settle anything. It makes no difference whether Pompidou, Poher, or Defferre wins; nothing will change unless we make it change.

De Gaulle has fallen, let us resume the offensive!

  1. Demand the immediate restoration of the conquests of May and the rescinding of the measures the government and the bosses took following the June elections.

    • Immediate readjustment of wages, which have been eroded by constantly rising prices.

    • Immediate reinstatement of political activists and workers fired from their jobs and of the ORTE personnel. [5]

    • Restoration of scholarships and deferments to students deprived of them.

    • Lifting of the ban on the vanguard political groups.

    • Return of the expelled foreign nationals.
  2. Raise again all the demands of May:
    Immediate return to the forty-hour week.

    • A sliding scale of wages and hours.

    • Repeal of the laws cutting social security benefits.
  3. Counter the economic and political measures of the bourgeoisie by organizing the workers in struggle.

    • The right of the workers to have a veto over production-line tempos, firings, and factory closings.

    • The creation of action and struggle committees to exercise this veto power.
  4. Organize self-defense and vigilance.

    • Against the attacks of the CDR [Comités de Defense de la Republique – Committees for the Defense of the Republic] and the SAC [Service d’Action Civique – Civic Action Service] and other reactionary terror squads, we must create antifascist action and vigilance committees.

    • To prevent any putschist aspirations on the part of the reactionaries, we must demand the right for the ranks of the army to organize themselves politically and in unions.

    • Demand the dissolution of the CRS and the Gardes Mobiles [Mobile Guards – riot police], the agents of repression in May.
  5. De Gaulle is going, we must get rid of the Gaullist legislation.

    • Abrogation of the 1958 Constitution.

    • De Gaulle is going but his people remain; out with the Gaullist National Assembly elected in June.
  6. We must not wait for any hypothetical concessions to be granted by the bourgeoisie. We must resume the fight now on our own ground, in the neighborhoods, the factories, and the universities. We must mobilize the people. To get rid of the Gaullist state along with de Gaulle, we must demand not re-election of the Chamber of Deputies but the convening of a Constituent Assembly for a workers government!

To break up the game of parliamentary wheeling and dealing, the Ligue Communiste (the French section of the Fourth International) has put up its own candidate, Alain Krivine.

While all the other candidates end their speeches with “Long Live the Republic,” so that you can’t tell them apart, we are running Alain Krivine’s campaign under the banner of the world socialist revolution and workers power. In asking you to vote for Alain Krivine, the Ligue Communiste remains conscious of the fact that it is not competing for an office or for votes but that it is fighting for the only possible perspective – for the advancement of the struggles which the workers of this country unleashed in May 1968.

In all its mass meetings and radio and television addresses, the Ligue will maintain the view that only a massive mobilization by the workers can force the bourgeoisie to retreat, can bring it down, thereby doing away with all its presidents.

Long live workers power!

Long live the world socialist revolution!

Alain Krivine

• • •


1. Projection of a common electoral program by the Communist and Social Democratic parties. – I.P.

2. A right-wing Social Democrat who commanded the police during the postwar upsurge in France. He established the CRS, which are intensely hated by broad layers of the French population for their record of brutality. – I.P.

3. The Social Democratic premier during the Anglo-French-Israeli aggression against Egypt in 1956. – I.P.

4. A liberal. – I.P.

5. For a brief time during the May–June period, the French official radio and television system ORTF [Office de la Radio et de la Television Française – French Radio and Television Bureau] offered objective reporting. After the June elections, the Gaullist government moved to purge all radio and TV personalities who had revealed independent or critical views. – I.P.

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