The social gains of the post-war period: what’s left?

Raoul Marc Jennar analyzes the way in which the economic, social and political proposals contained in the 1944 Manifesto of the National Council of the Resistance have been dismantled by the neo-liberals. Discredited during the Second World War and opposed by the more powerful left-wing parties and the unions, the French business community gave ground, to the advantage of the workers. But not for long . . .

Talking about values inevitably means entering into a debate on ideas and, given the way that society is organized, the debate soon becomes more like a battle.

Of course there are values that are commonly shared among different currents of opinion.   But when it is a matter of applying these values in practice, differences emerge and become sharply antagonistic.   For example, when it was planned to apply the proposals of the National Council of the Resistance (CNR) to extending political, social and economic rights to indigenous and colonial populations, the coalition that up until then had conducted the reforms was split between the supporters and the opponents of the war in Indo-China. It is difficult to maintain a consensus on values when it comes to making the choices needed to put them into practice.

Over the last decades, it was fashionable, in the name of a so-called 'common destiny', to scoff at the very idea of an ideological debate. But it was easy to see that, as with the passengers on the Titanic, not everyone on board the same ship was treated in the same way.   This reality has to be accepted if the CNR Programme is to be appreciated at its true value.   The real question is not one of treating all the passengers in the same way, but of changing ship completely. In fact there had long been a desire to change the very nature of the system which was in place up to 1940, and even to create another system.

To understand the path that has been followed since, we have to recognize that in the post-war period certain elements of the CNR Programme were implemented.   But its opponents were not sitting idle, twiddling their thumbs.

First part: the neo-liberal counter-offensive against the welfare state

Better Hitler than the Popular Front”: this had more or less been the opinion of an overwhelming majority of business leaders after the reforms of 1936 (there were a few exceptions).    As we now know, thanks largely to the work of historian Annie Lacroix-Riz, the employers chose to accept defeat and to give support to the Vichy regime.   But this collaboration ended with the collapse of the 3rd Reich, and the business leaders were disgraced.   As de Gaulle said to them: “Gentlemen, I saw none of you in London!” But we also know that the purge targeted intellectual collaboration more than economic collaboration.

There is no doubt that the Liberation climate, the discrediting of business leaders, the rising power of leftwing political parties (especially the strength of the Communist Party, which represented a quarter of the electorate), the pressure of the union representatives: all these factors certainly facilitated the adoption of some of the reforms proposed in the CNR programme.

During the so-called ‘Trente Glorieuses’of 1945-75 – years that were not however glorious for everyone – business leaders were obliged to accommodate themselves to the important role assumed by the State from 1944: in other words, to an economy that was regulated by a certain degree of planning, by the mechanisms of redistribution and by the existence of a strong public sector in industry, as well as in services.   Business leaders adapted themselves all the more easily because they continued to be the main beneficiaries of the plundering of the colonies – not only before but even after their achieving independence.

During these years when, in many countries in Western Europe, the redistributing and regulating role of the State flourished, a number of think tanks were put in place, all of them sharing the same aim, which was to end the pact of solidarity which is at the base of such a State.   To achieve their objective, they embarked on a formidable ideological battle to demonstrate the relevance and superiority of the liberal economic model and the primacy of the market.

The Mont-Pélerin Society, the Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission and the
‘new philosophers’
In 1947, with funds from the Swiss business community, the Mont Pélerin Society was created near Vevey. Its founder was the economist Friedrich Hayek. Among its participants was Milton Friedman, the guru of the Chicago School which was to inspire the Washington Consensus and the policies of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – to which we shall return later.   The Society was set up to combat the Keynesian concept by which the State was entrusted with a regulating and redistributing role.

In 1954, on the initiative of David Rockefeller, the Bilderberg Group was established, bearing the name of the hotel in the Netherlands where the founders met for the first time.   Among its ‘sponsors’ was Unilever, the Dutch multinational. The declared aim of the founder was summed up in a sentence he pronounced in 1999: “Something has to replace the governments and I think that the private sector is the most appropriate body for doing so.” 

This group meets each year and brings together – behind closed doors – the world elite in politics, finance, the economy, the military and the media.   Its meetings very often take place just before those of the G8. It is interesting to note that it was the Bilderberg Group that produced the Treaty of Rome, the founding document of the European Union. The same group also selected the current president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso.

In 1973, also on the initiative of David Rockefeller, the Trilateral Commission was created in Tokyo, its objective being to form a partnership between the industrial democracies of North America, Western Europe and certain countries in the Asia-Pacific zone. The participants come mostly from the member countries of the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), all of which accept American leadership.   It describes itself as ‘an organization oriented towards decision-making’, so it is hardly surprising that its 400 members are all personalities with influence: bankers, businessmen, politicians, intellectuals and journalists. 

It is these study centres that were to prepare what Serge Halimi has rightly called ‘the great leap backward’.   Intellectuals were to be mobilized for the global battle of ideas which began during the Reagan-Thatcher years.   Here in France, certain personalities who call themselves intellectuals undertook, with strong support from the media, a systematic critique of leftwing thinking.   From Bernard Henri Levy to Alain Minc, writing articles that immediately received huge media coverage, they set out to discredit not only Marxist thinking but also the Keynesian model for managing capitalism.   According to them, all demands for social justice led to totalitarianism; all leftwing ideas were denounced as forerunners of the gulag; all calls for solidarity were dismissed as old-fashioned.   The role of the State was denigrated and union action demonized.   Individualism was applauded.   Any form of resistance was labelled passé, and a sign of the decline that we were experiencing.   In France under Giscard d’Estaing, the neo-liberal press took the bit between their teeth and laid out a new ideological bible, which, after the turning point of 1983, guided  every political decision, all oriented to dismantling the achievements inspired by the CNR's Programme.

The institutional instruments of neoliberalism
Four institutions, all of them designed to relax the constraints of supranational powers, were set up to implement the theories elaborated in these neo-liberal study centres and the recommendations that they published.   Their decisions were considered by the media and the new intellectual elites as being virtually inevitable.   The slogan ‘there is no alternative’ became the raison d’être for all political and economic decisions. Although neo-liberal globalization was in fact negotiated and decided upon by our governments, it was presented as an unavoidable natural phenomenon.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO): the instruments for destroying public policies
These institutions have played a major role in demolishing the capacity of the State to intervene, particularly in the field of services. They apply the principles of what is now called the Washington Consensus, the vision of a society dominated by one value alone: profit.   These are the principles:

– reorientation of public expenditure: reserving it for growth and security;
– financial liberalization: suppressing all forms of taxation and regulation of financial exchanges;
– liberalization of trade: suppressing anything that obstructs commerce;
– elimination of the barriers to direct foreign investment: allowing transnational corporations to establish themselves anywhere they wish without being hindered by national legislation;
– privatization of publicly owned enterprises;
– reform of market regulation to secure the elimination of the main barriers to importing and    exporting to ensure more vigorous competition;
– guarantee of property rights.

Without the least concern for fundamental rights, such as access to health care, good health, housing and drinking water, IMF’s structural adjustment programmes implement these                                                                            principles.   The results in the countries of the South are evident: health and education are reserved for those who can pay, while the notion of public service, particularly as regards transport, energy and water, has disappeared.   Even today, in spite of a change of direction, the IMF is imposing the same conditionalities when it helps a country: reduction of social, educational and cultural budgets, the privatization of enterprises and public services and the reduction of human and financial resources in the public sector.

As for the WTO, which was created in 1994, it was made responsible for imposing deregulation in all fields – except for that of intellectual property where, on the contrary, it reinforces the rights of ownership over knowledge and know-how.   Because it can punish states if they do not respect its rules, it has now become the most powerful international organization in the world.

Incidentally, it's worth pointing out that both the IMF and the WTC are now directed by personalities from the French Socialist Party.

OECD: neoliberalism’s intergovernmental research centre
In 1960, twenty industrialized countries came together to create the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).   There are now 34 members, including Israel – which was admitted a few months ago in spite of its violations of international law.   It is the research department of governments, but above all the research department of capitalism. Its statistics and reports are simply arguments in favour of completely unbridled free trade.    There is an OECD report that has recommended constitutionalizing free trade and another that gives advice on how to argue against those who contest the privatization of education.     It is the OECD that supplies recommendations and proposals on how to dismantle the right to work. In brief, it is the research centre that provides states with the information on how to implement the decisions of the IMF and the WTO.   It is also the institution that advises governments on how to make their neo-liberal options acceptable to their populations.

The European Union: supranationalism at the service of neo-liberalism
After the Liberation, in the countries of what was then called Western Europe, the majority consensus was in favour of the values of solidarity.   It was impossible to embark, at the national level, on any questioning of the solidarity pact drawn up by several countries at the time of the Liberation.   This is why business leaders started on the formidable task of turning around the social policies that had been instituted in these countries after Liberation.    Their first move was the creation of the Common Market, set up in 1957 by the Treaty of Rome.   During the negotiation of this treaty, there were two opposing camps: those who wanted social harmonization to accompany economic harmonization, and those who did not.    Among the latter was the vice-president of the French delegation, Robert Marjolin, who was close to the CNPF (Conseil national du patronat français – the National Council for French Business).   It was his position that carried the day.   Social progress was to be only part of the general objective and it was affirmed that a harmoniously functioning market would promote harmonization in general.

This abandonment of social harmonization as a constraining factor in the creation of the Common Market (then the 'Single Market') was to have the permanent effect of weakening the importance of social Europe in the process of integration, since it opened the door to questioning the Keynesian concept of the role of the public authorities.   Needless to add, the opposition of the European business leaders to any principle of social harmonization has always been respected.

Never, since 1957, has there been any questioning of the idea that the market would be the sole basis for the construction of Europe.   The market is indeed the only organizational framework of Europe, to the exclusion of any other.

How this wonderful idea of a union among the peoples of Europe had been deflected by commercial interests was brought up many times in the discussions leading up to the referendum of 2005.   In the words of Pierre Bourdieu:   “The construction of Europe is now the deconstruction of society.”
Second part: the different steps of the dismantlement
Since the 1970s, we have seen a gradual demolition of the model of economic and social democracy that stemmed from the CNR's 1944 Programme.

The first breach: the press
The re-conquest of power by financial and business interests began with the press.   This is easy to understand because it was necessary to condition peoples’ minds to doubt the relevance of the reforms of 1944-1947.   As early as 1947 the new legal procedures of the 1944 decree against monopolies in this sector were already being violated by Hachette, which took a 50 per cent share in France Soir, Elle and France Dimanche.   In 1950 Jean Prouvost, a textile manufacturer who had built up a press empire during the 1930s which had been dismantled at Liberation, and who had just launched Paris Match, bought half the shares in Le Figaro.    There was no reaction from the public authorities.   The same thing happened in the 1960s when various regroupings took over a number of regional newspapers.    

In the 1970s, during the Giscard years, Robert Hersant made his spectacular arrival on the scene, after having been condemned in 1947 to ten years of national disgrace for having collaborated with Nazi Germany. He had already bought Nord Matin in 1967 and Paris Normandie in 1972.   In 1975 he bought Le Figaro.   Not long after, his group extended to include Centre Presse, Le Berry Républicain, La Nouvelle République des Pyrenées.  Then came Le Dauphiné Libéré and Le Progrès.   This unprecedented concentration of press enterprises led, in 1984, to the vote on a law presented by Pierre Mauroy aimed at limiting concentration and guaranteeing the transparency of press enterprises.   But the law was never applied to what already existed. And, during the first 'cohabitation', when the government was presided over by Jacques Chirac, it hastened to relax the provisions of the 1984 law.

Nothing could check the concentration process.   Now, three huge press groups belong respectively – and in order of importance – to Dassault, Lagardère and the Ouest-France Group. Newspapers like Le Monde and Libération are now subjected to capitalist logic, having been bought out, the first by the triumvirate of Pierre Bergé (luxury goods), Mathieu Pigasse (the Lazard bank) and Xavier Niel (telecommunications, server of Internet Free), the second by Rothschild.

Thus most of the French written press has passed into the control of the employers. Many newspapers that were born out of the Resistance, like Combat, have disappeared.    In the battle of ideas between those who defend democratic and social gains and the defenders of the interests of the financial and business spheres, this whole development is far from being negligible.

Paralyzing the State and forcing it into debt
It was in 1973, under the presidency of Pompidou, that what is called the Welfare State received a major blow.   The Minister of Economy and Finance, Giscard d’Estaing, managed to get adopted a law that prohibited the Banque de France from giving credit to the State. While the Treasury used to borrow from the Banque de France at zero interest, it was now obliged to borrow from private banks and pay interest.   It was an extraordinary gift to the private banks.   The massive growth of the national debt originated with this law.

Since then the battle against indebtedness has never ceased, serving as a justification for all cut-backs in the social field.

When the Maastricht treaty was adopted, this provision became a European regulation (Article 104, which became Article 123 in the Lisbon Treaty).
The Turning Point of 1983

In 1981 François Mitterrand was elected on a programme that stemmed directly from the CNR Programme.   It could even be said that he started to implement it, which meant taking up again the work that had been halted in 1947. Nationalizations, particularly in the banking sector, were the order of the day.
However one can question whether Mitterrand was indeed elected for his programme or more because there was a crying need to change government after 23 years of the Right in power.

Because in 1983 everything turned belly-up.   The ideological picture had shifted again and the ideas of the neo-liberals, basing their arguments on the oil crisis as well as on the clear failure of the economies in the countries of the Soviet bloc, were increasingly being imposed.    It was at this time too that neo-liberal doctrines were being implemented in the United States and Great Britain by Reagan and Thatcher. These were extolled in the French media by intellectuals and artists – remember the TV programme “Long live the crisis!” with Yves Montand? – as well as by politicians like Delors, Rocard and what has been called the ‘new left’.   What seemed impossible before now became permissible: calling into question certain achievements of the CNR Programme.

When he was confronted by the incompatibility between this economic and social programme and European neo-liberal policies, Mitterrand chose Europe, whose dynamic was in direct opposition to policies that had given public authorities a very important role.

From this dramatic turning point, everything gradually began to disintegrate.   The social gains of the programme of the National Resistance Council were inexorably reduced.   The European Single Act, and then the Maastricht Treaty, were to reinforce the neo-liberal orientations imposed on the member states of what was then called the European Community.

The rallying of the Socialist Party behind the primacy of the market was evident, as policies remained unchanged irrespective of whether the government was led by the right or that particular left. The same went for the implementation of privatizations.

The Chirac-Balladur-Juppé-Jospin privatizations
Between 1986 and 2002, four governments went ahead with making massive privatizations in the industrial sector in energy, transport, insurance and banking, thus depriving the State of important means for regulating and redistributing, as well as its capacity to intervene in vital sectors.

In chronological order, successive governments, presided over by Jacques Chirac, Edouard Balladur and Alain Juppé, proceeded with the following privatizations:   Saint-Gobain, Paribas, TF1, the Crédit Commercial de France, the Compagne Générale d’Electricité, la Société générale, l’Agence Havas, the Mutuelle générale française, the Banque du bâtiment et des travaux publics, Matra, la Compagnie financière de Suez, Rhône Poulenc, Elf-Aquitaine, Renault, the UAP, the SEITA, the AGF, the Compagnie Générale Maritime, Pechiney, Usinor Sacilor, the Compagnie française de navigation rhénane, the BFCE, Bull.

The government presided over by Lionel Jospin privatized the Crédit Lyonnais, the CIC, the Société Marseillaise de Crédit, the Banque Hervet, the GAN and CNP insurance companies, Aérospace-Matra, Ermet, RMC, the Autoroutes du Sud de la France. He proceeded to open up Air France, France Télécom, Thomson Multimedia and EADS to private capital. We now know that this government, by supporting European decisions taken in 2000 and 2002, implemented a European legal framework that rendered the privatization of EDF-GDF inevitable.   Likewise, in the transport sector, this government agreed to open up rail transport to private capital.

These four governments unreservedly supported the neo-liberal choices adopted at the European level.   They participated in the negotiations that led to the creation of the World Trade Organization and supported its agreements.

The pensions battle
The pensions issue is symbolic of the retreat from the values that had inspired the CNR programme. There were two opposing theses: one that wished to maintain the shared-allocation system (in which pensions were financed by contributions being paid simultaneously by members of the active labour force), and that of the insurance companies and employers who, since 1945, had been wanting to return to the capitalization system.   For 35 years the latter group had not dared to declare its intentions openly. But times had changed and so had the dominant ideas.

Already in 1982, Denis Kessler (the future vice-president of MEDEF) and Dominique Strauss-Kahn had published a book entitled L’épargne et la retraite ('Savings and Pensions') which advocated proposals on pre-financed pensions. This work was published with the support of the Geneva Association (the International Association for the Study of Insurance Economics).    From 1983, sociologists backed by business lobbies wanted the pension system to be subjected to neo-liberal logic. The whole discussion on the ageing of the French population overwhelmed all the more balanced analyses.

Between 1986 and 1989 a series of opinion polls – essential instruments in the battle of ideas – expressed the growing disquiet of the French about the future of their pensions. Some polls were financed by insurance companies that had recently been privatized, like AGF.

In 1991, Rocard, as Prime Minister, wrote the preface to a “White Paper” on pensions, proposing that the duration of contributions should rise from 37.5 years to 42 years. He proposed a study on the question of the minimum retirement age.

In 1993, by an undebated coup taking the form of a decree published in the middle of August, the Balladur government indexed the amount of pensions to prices and no longer to wages, and increased the duration and amount of contributions. This reform reflected some of the proposals in Rocard’s “White Paper”.

We know what happened next: the Juppé plan of 1995, Fillon’s counter-reform in 2003, the reform of 2007 and the counter-reform of 2010.

Speaking of values and ideas, it is interesting to note that each time these adjustments to the solidarity pact of 1945 were put forward, they were enthusiastically welcomed by the overwhelming majority of the media and a large number of intellectuals.   Acrimed, the 'Observatory of the Media', has illustrated the systematic support of the media for these proposals by business and governments. Their analysis showed that there was even a questioning of the sanity of the French population when most of them disagreed with the counter-reforms proposed.

The global MEDEF project after the election of Sarkozy
On 4 October, a few months after the election of the current president of the Republic, Denis Kessler, vice-president of the Mouvement des Entreprises de France (MEDEF), declared to the weekly Challenge:  “The French social model was the pure product of the National Resistance Council. (…) It is high time to reform it and the government is set on doing this.   The successive announcements of different reforms by the government can give a patchwork impression because they are so diverse, of varying importance and with various effects: the civil service statute, special pension schemes, re-forging social security, co-management, etc.   Looking at them more closely, one can see that all these elements are closely connected in this ambitious programme. The list of reforms?   It is simple: take away everything, without exception, that was put in place between 1944 and 1952.   That is what it is. Leaving 1945 behind and methodically undoing the programme of the National Resistance Council!”

The battle of ideas still continues.   People still need to be convinced that 'there is no alternative', that they must adapt to worldwide neo-liberal counter-reforms, as if it was destiny, a natural and unavoidable phenomenon, whereas in fact this democratic and social step backward was aspired to, thought through, negotiated and adopted by our governments.

Some months ago, on 26 October, MEDEF put a report of the Montaigne Institute on line. This is a think tank created in 2000 by Claude Bébéar, former CEO of Axa and financed by 24 large companies. It states, and I quote: “The solidarity pact of 1945 is out of date.”

Third part: are the values that inspired the CNR Programme still valid?
It is clear that the values held by the intellectual, financial, economic and political elites have very little in common with those that inspired the Programme of the Conseil National de la Résistance.   The dominant values today are those disseminated by the media and those so-called ‘opinion leaders’, these new directors of conscience who hammer us with their readymade thinking in the written press, and on the radio and TV.   The propagandists of this new faith, which rejects the sovereignty of the people, do not hesitate, when people do not listen to them, to blame us, the heretics. Do you remember the terms they used to discredit those who did not share their support for the European Constitutional Treaty in 2005 – going as far as insulting the people that did not follow them? One cannot help remembering the words of Bertold Brecht, after the workers revolted in East Berlin in 1953: “Since the people have no more confidence in the government, why doesn't the government dissolve the people and elect another?”

In the debate on the pensions we are witnessing a very similar media bombardment to justify, in the face of public opinion, the injustice of a reform that is being fought by a majority of the population.

But it is not only the gap between the media and the people that is the problem. It is that the whole landscape has changed.   Whereas it was possible, at the time of the Liberation, for one country to construct a society based on solidarity and the values that had inspired the CNR Programme, the European and international regulations that have been negotiated and accepted by our governments do not allow any divergence from the European and international spheres.   It is not enough to say "let’s get out of the WTO, or the European Union", to solve the problem. The globalization of trade, aspired to by all our governments since the 1980s, completely changes the terms of the debate.

The change puts a new light on everything.   All the arrangements made to protect us have been dismantled.    The very concept of protection has been banned. To demand it would be going against history!   At the WTO, they even go as far as saying that protectionism was the cause of the Second World War!    The rule now is competition, of everyone against everyone else.   Domestic competition, international competition.   We should remember the famous discussion on the Bolkenstein directive, organizing competition for all service activities in the European Union. Or the WTO agreements that force each state to dismantle obstacles to the free circulation of goods and capital – all obstacles, including social, health and ecological protection.   Such is the new world order that our governments have built in less than thirty years.

Can the values that inspired the CNR programme still be applied in this new world order?

Not for a moment should we doubt the relevance of these values.   They are universal values that have grown up out of a gradual awareness, throughout the centuries and particularly since the Enlightenment, that human beings are nothing without the society in which they live, that being human means above all being a citizen.   For these values can be summed up in three words which, more than any other slogan, ring out but still have to be achieved: liberty, equality and fraternity. 

Our understandable concern to join forces with others should not allow us to forget that these values have not been and are not experienced in the same way by the different sectors composing our society.

For some, the less numerous but the most powerful, they are just words like any others, engraved in stone maybe, but which do not commit them to anything and in no way condition their behaviour.   For others, the more numerous but the more vulnerable, they are words of hope.   They speak of a world that has yet to be built.

Everything depends on our will.   The will to give privileges to a few or the will to establish different human and social relationships. The history of humanity has been an
unceasing confrontation between the wills of different groups: an ideological confrontation, above all in the societies where public opinion can have its say.   And it is also a political, economic and social confrontation, in terms of the ideas and the power relationships that emerge.

It cannot be denied that for thirty years the values that have inspired the CNR Programme have receded.    We have lost the battle of ideas.   Those who, by virtue of their responsibilities, should have defended these values have failed to do so.

But I am one of those who think that losing a battle, heavy as the defeat may be, does not justify resignation. Jaurès once said: “History teaches people that great tasks are difficult
and that achievements are slow, but it justifies an ineffable hope.”   These words echo those of the 'Man of 18 June 1940' (General de Gaulle) “who never tires of waiting in the shadows for the gleam of hope.”

Such is the context for the appeal launched by 13 great resistance fighters on 8 March 2004.   In the harsh times in which we live, those of us who do not accept for a moment that all is lost should remember the precious heritage these fighters left us.   They too were led on by hope. And they committed themselves.   They took part.   To defend and promote, even at the cost of the supreme sacrifice, the values that motivated them when confronted by those who tried to destroy them.   “We want to rediscover people wherever we found what was crushing them,” as Malraux said.

So, without the slightest doubt, I reply – yes, the values that motivated the authors of the CNR Programme are as valid as they always were. I would even say that they are more necessary than ever before.   In spite of, or even because of the ground we have lost over the last thirty years.

There is nothing inevitable about such things.   Humanity experiences advances and setbacks.   Sometimes the advances only happen under the pressure of extreme events: famines, wars, revolutions. Sometimes they are the result of a sustained will for reform, that is, to reduce the injustices by changing the system.

Resistance is taking place and even increasing in many European countries where those who are not responsible for the crisis are being forced to pay for it.   In Latin America, after centuries of colonization and submission to the United States, after decades of bloody dictatorships, strong democratic movements have reversed the course of events.

Today, the values that motivated the Resistance fighters are not being conveyed by the instruments that shape public opinion.     But where some alternatives – like Médiapart – are gradually emerging through which women and men are coming together as a common force upholding these values, it is hope that keeps them going.   Together, as happened when the leftwing opponents of the European Constitutional Treaty were united in 2005, everything becomes possible.   80 per cent of the workers, 71 per cent of the unemployed, 67 per cent of the employed said NO to this neo-liberal project for society. It was a real class vote. It was the first gleam of hope and it came from below.   Let’s see to it that it brings light to the elites.

More than ever before, we need an International of people resisting this new order that has been imposed on us for some thirty years.   More than ever before, we must resist retreating into ourselves, since this plays into the hands of the dominant forces, of all those who benefit from our weakness at the European and international level.  

The task for those who wish to be faithful to the ideals of the CNR resisters is not only to resist, but to forge a strong movement to uphold these ideals in France, in Europe and in the world.   Only in this way can parents once again leave to their children a better world than the one they received from their parents.

Confronted as we are by values which are crushing men and women, and which exploit human beings and the earth itself, we must uphold the values that underpin the CNR Programme more vigorously than ever.

Translated by Victoria Bawtree