In 2023 alone, eleven days of nationwide strikes have shaken France. Over a million workers and students have stopped work and study in order to fight the raising of the retirement age from 62-64. This year’s strike waves follows on from strikes in 2019-20, and the Yellow Vest protests in 2018-19. This begs the question: why do the French love to revolt so much?
Mainstream common sense puts this down to the French national culture, some irrational need to overthrow the government. For socialists, the answer lies in the recent history of class struggle, and the preservation of radical political traditions in the unions and political organisations. This session will give an overview of the history of the French workers’ movement, and what lessons it holds for those seeking to rebuild class struggle today.