PARIS — The French may have a long tradition of strikes, but as the saying goes, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
France has been here before, with the country paralyzed by work stoppages. Striking workers aren’t changing the system. They’re just part of the ongoing charade that keeps them down and in their place through the illusion of rebellion. There’s a better solution for the individual worker — and it comes from the right.
French citizens are now facing the reality of a planned three-month strike by rail workers that began on Tuesday. We’re not talking about any ordinary strike, either, but one in which workers intermittently stop performing their duties for two full days out of every five. This will no doubt wreak havoc with train schedules.
Other groups of public-sector workers and students might join the striking rail workers. Professional leftists whose actual job is union activism have visions of bringing France’s economic engine to a halt, just as they did in 1995, when a series of strikes brought the country to a standstill. If French President Emmanuel Macron gives in to these hostage-takers the way President Jacques Chirac did back then, he’s only inviting more of the same in the future.
With high-speed-rail lines crisscrossing the country, the fastest and easiest way to get around France is by train. (The other option for longer trips within France is taking an airplane, but of course Air France unions have been holding periodic strikes as well.) Union leaders have told the French public that they’re fighting for a noble cause: to defend the integrity of the rail system. The unions are angry that Macron’s government intends to open up passenger-rail services to private-sector competition.
In other words, these comrades admit that they are trying to protect a state-run monopoly from having to compete for the public’s business. In doing so, they’re holding the public railways hostage — property that was built with taxpayer funds and therefore belongs to everyone and shouldn’t be theirs to barter with.
Through all this drama, the public is being treated to endless griping about rail workers’ salaries and entitlements. It’s truly a human tragedy. I’m not being facetious — I actually mean that.
These workers are serving as useful sheep for the leftist union apparatchiks. Here’s a much better idea for a protest movement — one that comes from the freedom-loving rebel right wing: Quit your jobs en masse. Then, individual workers should register their own corporations and name themselves as sole shareholders. Rail workers could then approach their employer (which would now be their client) and demand individual contract negotiations. Based on their proven value to the company, individual workers could ask for whatever compensation they think they deserve.
As with any kind of job action, this strategy would depend on solidarity. You couldn’t have workers going behind each other’s backs, cutting deals as salaried employees and caving to the old system.
The worker would truly be in control. And what would happen to the unions? Who cares? Workers wouldn’t need them anymore. The worker would be in the driver’s seat, joining forces with other individuals, each of them negotiating their own individual worth with their client.
Labor unions and the workers they control are constantly complaining about the power of corporations. Has it ever dawned on them that a single person can incorporate and reap many of the same advantages? When they complain that corporations don’t pay their fair share to the government, what they really mean is that individuals who have incorporated have found a way to reduce the burden of the state on their lives. Hey, if you can’t beat ‘em, why not join ‘em?
Labor strikes are not radical. Leftism in France is so NOT radical that it has become a cliche. The fact that strike leaders reference previous strikes should serve as proof that such attempts at reform haven’t changed anything at all.
There is no more radical idea in France than empowerment of the individual. Only then will workers truly be standing up for their own personal rights and freedom instead of allowing themselves to be parasitized by communism dressed up as solidarity.
RACHEL MARSDEN is a columnist and former Fox News host based in Paris. Her website can be found at rachelmarsden.com.