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The Real Forces Behind Le Pen’s Rise

Marine Le Pen's rise in French politics, often attributed to immigration and crime, is more accurately understood as a reaction to the economic exploitation and inequality perpetuated by the capitalist system.

Matt Goodwin’s recent analysis of Marine Le Pen’s ascendancy in French politics misses the mark by focusing on immigration and crime as the primary drivers. This narrative distracts from the true source of societal unrest: the economic exploitation and inequality inherent in the capitalist system. The rise of Le Pen and her Rassemblement National is best understood through the lens of class struggle and the economic disenfranchisement of the working class.

The Economic Roots of Discontent

Goodwin’s piece underscores Le Pen’s appeal by emphasising immigration and crime, sidelining the pivotal role of economic conditions. This approach is fundamentally flawed. Economic insecurity, exacerbated by neoliberal capitalism, is the real engine behind the discontent fueling Le Pen’s rise. The cost-of-living crisis, which Goodwin mentions only briefly, is not just a peripheral issue but a central aspect of the working class’s experience of exploitation and alienation.

“The cost-of-living crisis, which Goodwin mentions only briefly, is not just a peripheral issue but a central aspect of the working class’s experience of exploitation and alienation.”

Under capitalism, workers face wage stagnation, austerity measures, and the dismantling of social safety nets, leading to widespread economic precarity. These conditions foster a fertile ground for political movements that promise change, even if superficially. The rise in support for Le Pen is a reaction to these systemic issues, not simply a response to immigration or crime.

Maintaining Capitalist Structures

The narrative constructed by Goodwin serves as an example of how ideology operates to maintain the capitalism’s grip on the world. By framing the discourse around immigration and crime, the true relations of exploitation and domination are mystified. This ideological framework fosters a false consciousness among the working class, causing them to misidentify the sources of their suffering and insecurity.

Le Pen’s rhetoric exploits this false consciousness by scapegoating immigrants and minorities, diverting attention from the structural problems of capitalism. This division within the working class prevents them from uniting against their true oppressors, the capitalist class, thus perpetuating their own exploitation.

The State and Bourgeois Interests

The state functions primarily to serve the interests of the bourgeoisie. Despite her populist rhetoric, Le Pen’s National Rally reinforces capitalist structures by redirecting the proletariat’s discontent toward xenophobic nationalism. Goodwin’s emphasis on addressing “intense feelings of insecurity” and “civilizational moments” legitimises state apparatuses that enforce bourgeois rule, such as the police and military.

Le Pen’s policies do not offer genuine solutions to the problems faced by the working class. Instead, they bolster the capitalist state, which uses the guise of national security to maintain control over a divided and distracted proletariat.

“Le Pen’s policies do not offer genuine solutions to the problems faced by the working class. Instead, they bolster the capitalist state, which uses the guise of national security to maintain control over a divided and distracted proletariat.”

Strengthening the Left to Combat the Far Right

The recent statement by the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (NPA) highlights the importance of strengthening the united and militant left to prevent the far right from coming to power. These general elections confirm the appalling danger of the far right, with historically high scores attributed to the development of nationalism and racism, supported by ruling classes and some media, and the collapse of traditional right-wing parties whose policies have disgusted the population.

The good news of this election is the resurgence of the left, achieving high scores thanks to the unity of political, campaigning, and trade union forces. However, this unity must be strengthened to counter the dangerous pressure from the far right and the slanderous accusations of anti-Semitism and terrorism promoted by Macronists and others.

To roll back the far right and push forward a fighting left, in a situation of deep crisis in capitalism, we need to strengthen the unity of action of the entire left. This involves demonstrating against the far right, resisting anti-social, discriminatory, or authoritarian measures, and defending increases in wages and social benefits, among other goals. Mobilising together to change the balance of power is essential.

The Path Forward

The real path to addressing the issues faced by the French working class lies in recognizing and combating the capitalist structures that exploit them. Le Pen’s rise is not a solution but a manipulation of genuine grievances to maintain the capitalist order. The focus must shift from divisive and reactionary nationalism to a unified struggle against the true sources of economic and social exploitation.

By understanding the economic roots of their discontent and the role of ideology in obscuring these roots, the working class can begin to dismantle the capitalist structures that oppress them. The fight is not against immigrants or minorities but against the economic system that exploits all workers. Only through this lens can the true path to liberation and equality be found.

The NPA calls on all left-wing political, trade union, and community organisations to meet and implement joint actions, both before and after the elections. Strengthening the left in action is the way to restore the confidence of the working classes in their own strengths and build a solid bloc to resist the far right. In the ballot box and on the streets, defeating the RN and fighting for social progress and a different society is imperative.


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