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The exit of Fabien Roussel invoking at the Fête de l’Huma the value-work was obviously not devoid of political ulterior motives. The national secretary of the Communist Party, visibly uncomfortable in the Nupes, wants to differentiate himself. He likes to play the black sheep. All his Nupes partners tackled him. Even François Ruffin, who was suspected of agitating similar ideas. This political component was extensively analyzed last week by Michel Soudais.

Let us add that the moment is badly chosen. By affirming that the left should not be the one “allowances, social minima and replacement income”, Fabien Roussel risks giving grain to grind to the government while this one is on the point of reducing the right to unemployment and to condition the RSA to a work imposed. But the national secretary of the PCF plays on the velvet of demagogy, because the idea that the unemployed person is a spoiled child does not drag only in liberal circles.

You can also hear it sometimes at the bar in the local café. This is also confirmed by a poll which shows some support (60%) for the future reform. Although this support is weaker in the popular categories, which would be the first victims. Nevertheless, according to the same study, “the French” believe that the main cause of unemployment is an overly generous compensation system (1). Involuntarily, it is with this simple idea, too simple, that Fabien Roussel flirts.

With big clogs, Roussel still asks a fundamental question. How to divert the popular classes from the extreme right? How to reclaim rural and peri-urban areas?

But it would be an insult to him to reduce his speech to a tactical position. With big hooves, it still raises a fundamental question. How to divert the popular classes from the extreme right? How to reclaim rural and peri-urban areas? Where the demagoguery of the National Rally and Macronie is extremely effective on the two ultra-sensitive themes of immigration and work.

The first theme also largely explains the rise to power of the extreme right in Italy, and the breakthrough of the Swedish ex-neo-Nazis. But the two are often associated. Aren’t immigrants accused of unduly benefiting from social assistance or of taking the work of “nationals”? Fabien Roussel’s concern is therefore salutary. His answer is more questionable.

Let’s tease the communist first. “Work-value” sounds Marxist. But Marx never used this formula. He did question the notion of the value of work, but precisely to conclude that work has no value in itself. For him, work is first and foremost a commodity from which we must emancipate ourselves. He is more “ecological” than Fabien Roussel. We can emancipate ourselves by giving work a social or ecological interest, or even by reducing its share in everyone’s life. It can obviously be the reduction of working time. Marx thought like an economist. Roussel slides the words onto the moral ground. Work would be good and unemployment evil.

At the crossroads of social and ecological

The reconquest of the popular electorate, it is also the subject of François Ruffin’s latest book, which offers a deeper reflection. From his “Somme front” from where he writes to us, he asks some good questions, which the workers of Goodyear were able to hear, he says, when they were fighting for their jobs, but that the leaders of companies did not want to ask: “What do we want to produce? What do we not want to produce? ” And or ? And at what price? And working how many hours?

“These questions now prohibitedcontinues Ruffin, it is up to democracy to decide them, and not to the Market alone. » We are here at the crossroads of the social and the ecological. At the antipodes of the National Rally and Macronie. We are in the affirmation of a left of the XXIe century, as imperatively ecological as social.

The real front line which must mobilize the entire left is the fight against the extension of working hours, of which the pension reform is an illustration.

What can also be criticized in Fabien Roussel is the weakness of the definition he seems to give of work, reduced to wage labor. Thinkers like André Gorz or Bernard Stiegler developed the idea that the free time freed up by the reduction of salaried work could also give rise to chosen work. We had extensively discussed these theses in a special issue of Politics of burning topicality (“What future for work?”, September 2017).

It is here that “the right to laziness” opposed by Sandrine Rousseau to Fabien Roussel takes on its full meaning. Even if the formula, carrying so many risks of misunderstanding, thus thrown without precaution into such a sensitive debate, does not seem to be the first skill… Finally, Clémentine Autain is right on his blog to take the debate to another field, which escapes the binary opposition between work and unemployment: that of equality of territories. Bringing public services back to life in neglected or abandoned areas: the response from the left is also there.

These words and concepts, as Ruffin shows, must be open to everyone. So let’s not go backwards in history. It is on the reduction of working time and on the unity of the territories that we must support, not on the collapse of replacement incomes which, in the state of liberal policy, will not benefit employment. The real front line which must mobilize the entire left is the fight against the extension of working hours, of which the pension reform is an illustration.

(1) Elabe poll-The echoes Montaigne Institute of 1er and August 3.

Work-value: a minefield