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Another French Left Group (Ensemble) Backs Arming Kurds.

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What is at Stake in the autonomous Struggle of progressive Forces against the Islamic State. (Extracts – Adapted)  

The announcement of an “international coalition” to fight the “Islamic state” is the latest act in a string of disasters caused by Western imperialist interventions in the Middle East. This – a reminder –  is not part of any genuine anti imperialism,  but allows us to understand the dynamics at work, which have been reshaped since  the US intervention in 2003,  in the current situation.  As with 2003, Western imperialism produce disasters, then intervenes to “fix” the consequences of these catastrophes, and then creates further disasters of an even greater magnitude – a succession of links in an endless chain.

Thus, we cannot admit that there are  “humanitarian” motives at work inside the US  administration or support the coalition that they seek to put in place in order to maintain their hold. Nevertheless, it is impossible to denounce, simply, American imperialism, and remain indifferent to the devastation caused by the Islamic State, IS (mass killings, persecution of religious minorities, Sunni disagreements, the tens of thousands of Yazidis left to die in the Sinjar). This would equally be to ignore the actions of the reactionary and authoritarian and regional powers. We need not simply to react to the massacres and repression perpetrated by the IS but also to stem the wave of disasters engulfing the region. Indeed, imperialism finds its strongest basis in  these religious confessional and national divisions..

Faced with these obstacles, it is necessary to defend movements of  local self-defence rather than increasing the stranglehold of imperialism. This implies, therefore  support (including weapons) for progressive forces in the region to combat the Islamic State.  That is, for the Popular Committees in Syria who have been abandoned to their fate, and for the broad movement around the Kurdish PKK.

…..

(There follows an analysis which lays the blame for ISIS’s rise in Syria on Assad’s willingness to foment divisions in his opposition, and on Turkey, which is charged with “complaisance” towards the rise of the Islamists.)

Kurdish forces and issues

The main armed resistance opposed to the Islamic State  is represented by various  Syrian opposition movements and the PKK, the main Kurdish political-military organization of Turkish forces.

The PKK was born in the social and political ferment of the 70s Turkey, created by Kurdish leftist students. Its historic leader, Abdullah Ocalan, is held in prison in Turkey but still leads the PKK and the movement that revolves around it.Following a tradition that can be termed “Stalinist” the PKK has managed to supplant other Kurdish organizations in Turkey and has a mass base in the bulk of Turkish Kurdistan. The  PKK “mouvance” (broad movement)  can often have a very opportunist line – but retains a  military capacity, is the political representative of the large Kurdish minority in Turkey. Note also that the whole movement around the PKK is highly feminised (both in recruitment and in access to positions of fighting and political-military leadership).

……

..an essential part of fighting is taking place in Syria where this movement already existed. However, it is true that the PKK stepped onto Iraqi territory in the mountains of Sinjar to fight IS and to rescue tens of thousands of Yezidi (a Zoroastrian religious minority from Kurdish-speaking areas).  In keeping with its normal practice, the PKK has sought to create a local sister organization, with the Yezidi, the Resistance Units Kirkuk-Mexmour. In northern Syria, the PYD unilaterally declared independence in the territories it controls (the Rojava, that is to say, the Western Kurdistan). It  has been criticised by other Kurdish organizations in Syria gathered in the Kurdish National Council. This tension between the PYD and CNK is only a reflection of the broader opposition among the Kurds between the PKK and the KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party) of Massoud Barzani, the “feudal” political leader who heads the autonomous Kurdish regional government Kurdish in northern Iraq (and which is bound by the CNK in Syria).

Briefly, the PKK reproach, rightly, to Barzani and the Kurdish autonomous regional government in northern Iraq with having links with the Turkish government, leaving the Islamic State free to continue their progress  progress in northern Iraq, and, as a  result of this alliance, to be so directly responsible for the progress of EI and the fall of Mosul. Conversely, Barzani accused the PKK-PYD of having links with the Assad regime. …

(There follows detailed analysis of these ties, claims and counterclaims.)

The important points of the Ensemble analysis are these: they back “active local defence “, that they regard this as a “medium-term challenge ” to ” imperialist logic” and believe that will contribute towards the “healing” (assainissement) of the Kurdish national question” which is one of  “the elements of division between the most important people of the region.” 

The Stop the War Coalition (StWC)  warns against US-led intervention in Iraq and Syria.

It has yet to offer any comment on demands for “support (including weapons) for progressive forces in the region.”

By contrast  Socialist Worker said in August, Arming the Kurds won’t stop Iraq’s brutal civil war.

More recently (September 16th) they found nothing to say on the Kurdish struggle against the Islamist genociders.

Instead they warned  US missiles will worsen Iraq crisis.

Apparently one of the main dangers is that, “This will be a green light for targeting Muslims and increasing Islamophobia as all Muslims are portrayed as a terrorist threat.”

Written by Andrew Coates

September 21, 2014 at 11:24 am

Danish Leftists Back Military Aid to Iraq.

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Danish Revolutionary Socialists Says: Arm Kurdish Freedom Fighters!

Danish socialists voting for a parliamentary decision to send a military plane to Iraq under US command is not usual. Even more unusual is the fact that I – considering myself a revolutionary Marxist – voted to support that decision. Nevertheless, that is what happened a few weeks ago.

The parliamentary group of the Red-Green Alliance (RGA – Enhedslisten) voted together with all out parties for sending a Hercules airplane to Iraq at the request of the Iraqi government. The plane will transport weapons and ammunition to the Kurdish militias fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).”

Reports Michael Voss (of the Danish  Red-Green Alliance, Enhedslisten – De Rød-Grønne), known as Enhl, and SAP (Socialistisk Arbejderparti) in International Viewpoint (journal of the Fourth International).

The nightmare of some ‘anti-imperialist’ hipsters has had a real political impact…..

Why Danish leftists supported military aid to Iraq Monday 15 September 2014

Comrade Voss  made the honest point that,

In that way there is a temporary coincidence of interests between imperialism and socialists on the simple issue of fighting IS. We want to supply the Kurds with weapons, and US imperialism want to supply the Kurds with weapons – for the time being. Not supporting it, only because of the US command, would be as if Lenin had refused to travel in the sealed train supplied by German imperialism through imperialist Germany to Russia in the middle of the Russian revolution, as another NL-member said.

And that,

I don’t think that much argument is needed to back the fact that revolutionary socialists also want to fight and stop IS, a murderous, sectarian and deeply reactionary force. A victory for IS will set back any social, democratic, pro-women or anti-imperialist development that may have taken place in parts of Syria and Iraq.

But that their MPs made sure that,

  • that the Danish Hercules plane cannot be used for any other purpose than delivering arms to the forces fighting IS
  • that this decision does not allow any other Danish military activity in the region;
  • that whatever happens, a new parliament decision is necessary if the government wants to prolong the activity of the airplane after 1 January 2015

As a follow up to the decision the RGA have taken other initiatives to stop military and financial supply for IS, to popularise the fight for the Kurdish peoples’ right to self-determination and to have the PKK removed from the US and the EU list of so-called terror organisations. A special Danish aspect is the fact that the TV-station of Kurds for all Europe was based in Denmark until it was recently banned, and 10 people from the Kurdish community face trial for collecting money for organisations that – according to the police – transfer the money to PKK.

When the first shipment of weapons to the PKK/YPG by a Danish airplane under US command has taken place, it will be hard for the authorities to explain that they are supporting a terror organisation.

This decision took place in mid-August (reported in International Viewpoint on the 15th of Septmeber.

 Danish arms to support Kurds in Iraq

25. aug. 2014 13.14 

The Red-Green Party’s central committee has agreed that its parliamentary group may vote yes to send Danish arms to support Kurds fighting in Iraq.

However, final approval by parliament on Wednesday is needed before a Hercules transport aircraft containing a consignment of light weapons can be sent as Denmark’s contribution to the USA’s action in Northern Iraq, where Kurdish fighters are being hard-pressed by the militant Islamic State (IS).

“I’m pleased that the central committee has approved the parliamentary group’s proposal for Denmark to support the campaign by sending a transport aircraft with weapons and ammunition to the hard-pressed Kurdish fighters in Northern Iraq,” said Nikolaj Villumsen, spokesman on defence for the Red-Green Alliance.

Proposal today

The government received the final support of all parliamentary parties on Sunday after the remaining parties had acknowledged their approval at a meeting of the Foreign Policy Committee on Thursday.

Today, the government will present its proposal to send the aircraft to Iraq as soon as possible with a consignment of weapons and solders to protect the aircraft.

“The Islamic State is one of the most perfidious movements the world has seen for many years and must be forced back before it commits new crimes against humanity.

“It must be emphasised, however, that our support for this limited action will not entail any Danish military intervention in Iraq and is purely intended as support for the Kurds to help them defend themselves against the Islamic State. We are not entering into a new war in Iraq,” said Villumsen.

Put in their place in 2011

In March 2011, the Red-Green parliamentary group was quickly put in its place by the party when it wished to support the use of Danish F-16 fighter aircraft to support the Libyan Army.

At the party’s AGM, a procedure was established for how the parliamentary group could support Danish military action, when it was made contingent on approval by the central committee.

The authorities are indeed concerned,

Some Danish politicians, however, are sceptical that the Danish involvement could inadvertently support the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which the European Union (EU) labels a terrorist organization.

Since IS captured about a third of Iraq in June, the PKK, which is based in Iraqi Kurdistan, has become part of the war. The PKK’s affiliate, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria, are fighting IS alongside the KRG’s Peshmerga troops. Rudaw.

The Red-Greens are noted for their support for a foreign policy based on human rights.

Enhl initially backed plans for UN-led intervention in Libya but pulled back, after party protests, once the campaign got underway.

The Red-Green Alliance currently has 12 seats in the Danish Parliament (Folketinget) with 6,7 % of the vote.

Wider Backing for Military Action Against Islamic State/Daʿesh

Support for the Kurdish and other democratic fighters against Islamic state is widespread on the European left, a stand that contrasts with the isolationist Stop the War Coalition in Britain.

As the Guardian prints Richard Seymour’s hipster take on ISIS the StWC has just published the weighty reflections of Russell Brand: Will Obama’s bombs stop the ISIS beheadings?

By contrast over the weekend one of the Editors of the French Communist Party daily l’Humanité, and MEP, Patrick Le Hyaric, said of  the Islamic State, Da’esh, , “il faut briser les reins à ces égorgeurs.” – we must break the backs of these murderers.

He continued, “Nous avons, à cet instant, une pensée particulière pour nos frères et pour nos sœurs kurdes qui combattent en première ligne contre la cruauté sauvage de l’Etat islamique, en Irak comme en Syrie..” We have a special place in our thoughts for our brother and sister Kurds who are fighting in the front line against the savage cruelty of the Islamic State,in Iraq as in Syria.

Le Hyaric emphasised however that military action should be decided by Parliament and endorsed by the United Nations, and not take place through the channels of NATO.

The French Nouveau parti anticapitaliste, NPA,  (the largest group associated with the Fourth International) has yet to publicly take a position on their Danish comrades’ decision.

Other articles in International Viewpoint, such as one by David Finkel published on the same day as the above contribution, repeat the well-known refrain that, “the global terror of imperialism generates its ugly local and regional counterparts from Taliban to the “Islamic State.” The terrorist forces arising in shattered societies can’t be eradicated without uprooting the global system that inevitably breeds them.”

The British FI group, Socialist Resistance has shown deep sympathy for the Kurdish struggle and the fight against ISiS.

French Appeal in Support of Kurds, Communist Party Backs Kurdish Fighters.

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The Parti Communiste Français (PCF) declared in July,

ISIL’s offensive force: solidarity with the Syrian Kurds

The Islamist terrorist organisation Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which decreed the creation of a Caliphate which straddles Iraq and Syria, has launched a military offensive against independent Syrian Kurdistan.

Taking advantage of the disintegration of Iraq and seizing heavy weapons, they have taken their fight  to Kurdish districts in Syria, areas in which the population has for months waged a heroic struggle against these obscurantist forces  – supported by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The “West”, including the United States and France bear a huge responsibility in this regional disintegration and in the violence against civilians. Turkey has also shown a benevolent attitude towards this offensive, which fulfils their aim of breaking the democratic experience of the (autonomous Kurdish) town and surroundings of Rojava.  

With the Kurds threatened with new massacres indifference is shameful and inhuman.

The French Communist Party expresses its solidarity with the Syrian Kurds. It calls the French government and the European Union to use all their power to stop these crimes.

French Communist Party
Paris July 7, 2014 (adapted)

The PCF has since that date issued numerous appeals.

Iraq: Call for solidarity and political intervention by France and the UN (12th of August).

Support for the Kurds  is a priority. Anything that can help, such as the withdrawal of the PKK’s designation as a ‘terrorist organisation’, should be encouraged.  France could, as a member of the Security Council initiate a regional conference to help reconciliation, rebuild the Iraqi state and preserve the unity of the Middle East. There is still time to contain the conflagration sweeping the region.

The PCF  expresses its support and solidarity with the Kurdish forces and commits itself on the side of the democrats and Kurdish forces against the Iraqi ISIS.   In this terrible ordeal,  Communists will spare no efforts to ensure that peace and democracy can win out.

Stop the cruelty and persecution against the Kurdish people and minorities in Iraq (August 23rd) called for support for a demonstration in Marseille that day in support of minorities in Iraq.

 Marseille Demonstration.

The Kurdish News Agency RUDAW reports (Thursday 12th September)

PARIS, France – High-profile French politicians are urging greater international support for Iraqi Kurds in their fight against jihadists of the Islamic State (IS), saying the autonomous region is fighting for Western democratic values and should be helped in its protection of Christians and Yezidis.

“The Kurds are fighting also for our democratic values and for our safety,” said a petition published in the French newspaper Le Monde.

“Let’s help Kurdistan protect the Yezidis and the Christians. Our values depend on it,” said the appeal, an initiative of the Kurdish Institute of Paris.

It was signed by former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and Michel Rocard, former ministers of foreign affairs Bernard Kouchner and Hubert Vedrine, the current mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo, and former ministers Cecile Duflot,  Francois Loncle and Pierre Lellouche, among other high profile academics and intellectuals.

……

Their statement referred to the grave situation faced by the Kurdistan Region, which has received hundreds of thousands of refugees escaping the war by Islamic jihdists.  Erbil also is having to protect over 1,000 kilometers of its border against the highly armed forces.

“Since June, Iraqi Kurdistan has been receiving hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced people fleeing the massacres committed by the jihadists of the Islamic State. Among them are tens of thousands of Christians, Yezidis, Shabaks and members of other religious minorities,” the statement said.

“Coming after the first wave of 250.000 Syrian refugees, this massive flood far exceeds the Kurdistan Regional Government’s hosting capacities,” it noted. Kurdistan “does not have, on its own, the material means to provide for the accommodation of this additional population of over a million people,” it added.

It noted also that, as the KRG struggles against this deluge, Baghdad has cut monthly budget payments to Erbil over an oil row, cutting deeply into Kurdish finances.

The Kurdish Peshmerga forces have been the toughest line of defense against the jihadis, backed with air support by the US and Iraqi air force.

Erbil has also allowed refugees to cross into its borders, regardless of religion or ethnicity.

“Such a rare example of democracy in the Islamic world not only deserves encouragement but it also needs active and massive solidarity of the citizens and the governments of the Western Democracies,” the French appeal said.

The group called for the intensification of humanitarian aid by the UN agencies and the European Union, implementation of promised arms supplies and measures to enable the KRG to protect minorities in the frontlines. It also called for action to encourage oil-rich Gulf countries to finance the ongoing relief efforts in Kurdistan.

“An international air protection should be provided to Christian and Yezidi areas of the plain of Nineveh in order to enable the return of these vulnerable peoples,” it pointed out.

The petition also urged France, which took the initiative of mobilizing the European Union, to propose a resolution at the UN Security Council to force Baghdad into restarting the constitutional budget payments to Erbil.

Finally, the petition asked the European Union to appoint a special envoy to ease direct mediation, and re-establish dialogue among Iraq’s Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites.

Original, Le Monde 8.9.14. “Aidons le Kurdistan à protéger yézidis et chrétiens, nos valeurs en dépendent.”

A sceptical approach to arming the Kurdish Regional Government and others, which argues that they will use them, “pour affirmer l’autonomie grandissante de leur région, voire leur volonté d’indépendance, ce qui serait un pas décisif vers l’éclatement de l’Irak.” , Questions sur l’armement des Kurdes d’Irak. Alain Gresh. (Blogs, 18th August. Le Monde Diplomatique)

Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste Seeks to “save” capitalism, says International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI).

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Flags Waving to Save Capitalism says ICFI. 

Just when you thought you could be smug about the charming but eccentric ways of our old chum Bob Avakian this comes along,

The pseudo-left New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA) has reacted to the formation of the new government of Prime Minister Manuel Valls with empty, hypocritical criticisms to mask its responsibility in the installation of this deeply right-wing government, which the NPA will continue to defend.

The World Socialist Web Site, published by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) continues in this vein (8th of September) – at length. (1)

For those mourning the withdrawal of cde Tony Greenstein from the fray this site comes as a blessing,

What the NPA fears above all is that the collapse and discrediting of France’s ruling Socialist Party (PS) will provoke a crisis of rule in which the NPA could not stifle a political movement of the working class directed at the PS and its political satellites, including the NPA itself.

There is more but this mighty blow against the NPA stands out,

The NPA, by its hostility to a socialist and revolutionary perspective, contributed to the installation of the most right-wing regime France has known since the World War II-era fascist Vichy regime.

And this,

In fact, it is the NPA that is neither revolutionary nor anti-capitalist. It does not seek the overthrow of capitalism, but to save it under conditions where it threatens to provoke war and economic collapse, and the conditions for an eruption of social revolution are fast being prepared.

Not to mention that

This anti-working class party is ready for unprincipled alliances with organizations of all types, whose only common point is their hatred of the working class and of socialism.

 

(1) The International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) is the name of two Trotskyist internationals; one with sections named Socialist Equality Party which publishes the World Socialist Web Site, and another linked to the Workers Revolutionary Party in Britain.

Both groupings originate in the struggle against “Pabloite liquidationism”,

“To sum up: The lines of cleavage between Pablo’s revisionism and orthodox Trotskyism are so deep that no compromise is possible either politically or organizationally. The Pablo faction has demonstrated that it will not permit democratic decisions truly reflecting majority opinion to be reached. They demand complete submission to their criminal policy. They are determined to drive all orthodox Trotskyists out of the Fourth International or to muzzle and handcuff them.”

The British section, the Socialist Equality Party (SEP), has published the ‘Theoretical Foundations‘ of the organisation which explains this at length.

Despite this background many of the SEP’s  ideas would meet with approval or at least some agreement  from a lot of people on the left: they are for the United Socialist States of Europe, oppose austerity and cuts.

And,

The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) calls for a decisive and unambiguous No vote in the September 18 referendum on Scottish independence.  All claims that “independence” is a democratic demand, offering an alternative to cuts and austerity, are lies.

The move for separation from the UK is being led by right-wing forces espousing nationalism, whether or not they attempt to dress this up in fake left language. The aim is to transform Scotland into a low tax, cheap labour platform for the benefit of the banks and transnational corporations.

The victims of this will be workers on both sides of the border, who will see a deepening of the ongoing offensive against jobs, wages and conditions that has been waged by all the major parties in both Westminster and Holyrood

Their French membership is believed to hover at 2.

 

 

 

Jean-Luc Mélenchon: France Commits Treason by not Delivering Warships to Russia.

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Mélenchon: Denounces President Hollande’s “Treason”. 

France has suspended the first of two controversial Mistral-class warship deliveries to Russia, saying “conditions” were not in place as the crisis in Ukraine deepens.

The announcement comes a day before the start of a NATO summit and after months of pressure on France from allies to suspend the sale amid tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

President François Hollande’s office, in a statement after he met with top defence advisers, called the fighting in eastern Ukraine “grave”, and said Russia’s recent actions harm “the foundations of security in Europe”.

France 24.

The Guardian adds,

France is to suspend delivery of a state-of-the-art Mistral warship to Russia in protest at Moscow’s continued role in unrest in eastern Ukraine.

Following a defence committee meeting in Paris on Wednesday, a statement from the Elysée Palace said the government could not go ahead with the planned delivery of the warships, citing Moscow’s recent actions in eastern Ukraine, where Russia has taken a blatant military role.

“The president of the republic has concluded that despite the prospect of a ceasefire, which has yet to be confirmed and put in place, the conditions under which France could authorise the delivery of the first helicopter carrier are not in place,” the statement said.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon has responded by calling this action « trahison insupportable »  (intolerable treason)

“In deciding to halt the delivery of vessels acquired by Russia, François Hollande has committed an intolerable betrayal that completely devalues ​​the promises given by our country. It  It France as  independent provider of defensive armaments. This is a decision which has no bearing on the military side of the present conflict, demonstrates our country’s subjugation to the USA and the war policy of NATO . “

 Le Monde.

Navires : François commet une trahison insupportable – Communiqué – http://bit.ly/1nx3Z0p pic.twitter.com/ydnppHjnB3

Mélenchon has opposed the threats of NATO, led by the USA against Russia. He has (rightly) criticised the pro-Ukrainian bias of most of the French Media – the hysterical anti-Moscow tone of some of the articles in le Monde alone have to be read to be believed (see: Médias français en campagne ukrainienne. Mathias Reymond.).

You can see more of his views on the topic here, Retour au clavier (Le blog de Jean-Luc Mélenchon).

Many of these points are valid – there is little traction for the left in lining up behind a crusade against the Kremlin any more than there is in one to defend it.

But in Mélenchon’s reactions one cannot help feeling a patriotic timbre ringing throughout this declaration.

Compare…..

Marine Le Pen has also criticised the decision, on commercial grounds (the amount of compensation that will have to be paid, loss of a sale), and because it shows that France lacks “independence”.

The decision, above all,  “is very serious because it reveals our submission to American diplomacy.”

France, “A Social Democratic Compromise of a Third Kind” ? Henri Weber.

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Henri Weber (far-left) in Happier Days.

Henri Weber is a former member of the Trotskyist Fourth International.

He played an important role in the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (LCR) in May 1968 and the decade that followed. This included a stint at the “special operations” section of the LCR (Commission Très Spéciale, CTS) and editorship of their weekly Rouge.

An intellectual, whose writings were known in the UK through New Left Review and International Marxist Group publications, he was a sympathetic critic of Eurocommunism and a defender of radical democratic socialism.

After leaving the Ligue he became an academic, conducting further research into Eurocommunism, and German Social Democracy. His book  Le Parti des Patrons : le CNPF (1946-1986),  1991 is a sociological and political account, some might say a rather plodding one, of the French bosses’ organisation (their CBI).

Weber has been a member of the French Parti Socialiste since the mid-1980s,  was a  Senator (1995 – 2004) and is now a European Deputy, MEP, (first elected 2004).

He has moved considerably to the right, even within the moderate terms of European social democracy.

The former revolutionary Marxist is best known these days for defending the idea that  one can broadly (extremely broadly) outline three modern types of “compromise” that define post-War social democracy (Nouveau compromis social -démocrate.18.3.2014)

The first was the ‘post-war’ compromise between the labour movement, the left, and the states and societies of the West . Full employment, growth, expanding social and workers’ rights and the welfare state marked this period.

The second, that followed the late 1970s crisis of the Welfare state and Keynesianism, was defensive. It accepted that redundancies and wage restraint had to take place, but offered increased social spending and more social rights.

A third type of social compromise took shape at the turn of the century: the compromises to adapt to globalisation, and more broadly , the changes in capitalism. That is, the digital revolution, the emergence of new industrialising  countries, the internationalization of production have required  a restructuring of of Western economies. These are axed towards  high-tech industries and services with high added value.

The new social democratic compromise is based on mobilising the social partners for to specialise and adapt to this role. Unions and socialist parties agree on the deregulation of the labour market (flexi-security), the stagnation of real wages, a reduction in  the level of social protection. They demand in return the defence of employment and preservation of national economic power.

In Germany, for example, the SPD and the unions accepted the Hartz accord: unemployment compensation is reduced from 32 to 12 months (24 for over 50 years); the age of retirement is pushed back to 67 years (in 2029 …) the unemployed are forced to take a job……..public health care provision is being reduced……

The German Hartz agreements loosened strong social protection and created so-called “mini-jobs” (at extremely low pay), subjected welfare claimants to stringent “contracts”, lowered benefits, and undermined many of the fundamental aspects of the welfare state.

Weber’s assertion (echoed on the European Right and Business) that their focus on industrial competitivity and growth, are the basis for the country’s economic success, is by no means universally accepted. It is pretty obvious that it’s unlikely that many on the French, or the German non “social democratic” left (except for the Die Grünen, who are often to the right of social democracy) would agree.

But the fact remains that in Germany there has been an economic upturn, unemployment has gone down, and if there is a very heavy downside to these reforms, they are now backed by the population, and represent for the present the basis of Angela Merkel’s popularity.

One can see what the French Socialists would look with envy at the German Chancellor’s ratings in the opinion polls (even if a hard-right anti-European Party, Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), did well with 9.9.% in a regional election in Saxony,  this Sunday –  Taz).

The assertion that a progressive slant to this new compromise, depends on growth, and the weight of employees (that is, workers), within a European structure remains to be tested. At present the Socialists have simply gone for what they believe is a strategy for growth.

Last weekend Weber addressed the Parti Socialiste’s Summer School at La Rochelle.

These are some extracts from what he said, 7 moyens de refonder la social-démocratie.

Weber outlines the reasons for the change towards a new compromise.

The principal backdrop is that the globalisation of the economy is changing the balance of power in favor of the owners of private economic power – entrepreneurs and financial operators – at the expense of employees and governments. Markets, companies, production have become global; States, parties, trade unions remain, essentially national actors. The result is a growing disjunction between the political and the economic spheres

The ‘third industrial revolution’, the rise of digital and biotechnologies, the fragmentation of  social classes based on production and the working environment, the rise of individualism, social insecurity, and mass migration, have eroded the basis of traditional socialism and communism. Global warming and other ecological challenges pose further questions to the left.

Weber offers seven principal axes for a renewed social democracy which I present in a slightly adapted form.

1 European social democracy must reconnect with its original internationalism.

2. Social democracy must break with the focus on producing more and more and discover an eco-socialist alternative .

3. European social democracy must find ways of using people and companies’  savings to finance future industries and services with high added value.

4 European social democracy must assert, more than it has done so far, a’ project of civilisation’ (a vision of society).

5 European social democracy must be resolutely feminist .

6 European social democracy has to invent a renewed twenty-first century form and structure of democracy

7 Social democracy should promote an ‘alternative’ globalisation (that is, not be simply ‘anti’ globalisation, but find a different way of globalising). 

The substance of Weber’s contribution seems to be this:

European social democracy should become a continent wide political actor through the mechanisms of the European Socialist Party and the European Confederation of Trade Unions. It should endorse environmentally friendly policies. It should promote investment. It should advance a communitarian project that would promote social values, including feminist ones. It should back democratic reforms. And, finally, it should attempt what regulation of globalisation it can.

A pretty stodgy set of idées reçues  that would appeal to those in the UK, from Will Hutton to Jon Cruddas, who have not the slightest intention of mounting any radical challenge to austerity – and that’s just to start with.

Meanwhile…..in the real political world…..

Prime Minister Valls was received coldly by many delegates at the same La Rochelle Summer School.

Communist and Green speakers, critical of the government’s turn rightward, were well received at fringe meetings (Libération).

In the main hall when the Prime Minister appeared some shouted Vive la Gauche! – the name of the new left ‘frondeur’ alliance (you can see more about them here).

Why?

Well, there’s the talk about ending the 35 hour week and a whole raft of measures designed to weaken workers’ rights. His Minister of the Economy, Emmanuel Macron,has gone out of his way to appeal to business, not the left. More and more austerity remains on the cards. A few words about he also loves the Parti Socialiste won’t change this.

It is unlikely that French unions, even the ‘social liberal’ CFDT,  are overjoyed at the prospect of having to defend what little remains of ‘social democracy’.

The idea that anything approaching the Hartz measures will go down well in France.

One might question the assertion that this “third type” of compromise is anything other than a series of concessions, made in different European countries in different ways, to neo-liberal anti-left policies. One wonders where Brown and Blair fitted into the Second Compromise, or were they part of the Third?

Far from being a social democrat it appears that Manuel Valls and his team are economic liberals.

 It would be interesting to see if he tries something resembling the Hartz reforms.

Hah!

A second’s thinking shows that this is extremely unlikely to happen.

Note: Weber’s own site is here.

On it we learn this fascinating information:

Etat civil: Marié
Enfants: 3
Icône: Woody Allen, Groucho Marx, Pierre Desproges
Hobbies: La marche à pied
Livre préféré: “La Promesse de l’Aube” de Romain Gary
Film favori: “Les Enfants du Paradis” de Marcel Carné (1945)
Groupe de musique favori: Les Beatles
Emission TV préférée: Thalassa
Plat local favori: La potée auvergnate

Some might comment that this shows a profound mediocrity.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 1, 2014 at 11:13 am

France: New Government in Love with Bosses, Bosses in Love with New Government.

with 3 comments

Manuel Valls accueilli sur scène par le patron des patrons, Pierre Gattaz.

Bosses Applaud the ‘Valls Show’.

Yesterday the Parti Socialist Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, wowed the French employers’ federation (the MEDEF) summer get-together.

«Moi j’aime l’entreprise !»  he said – I love Business.

Libération reports that in response to his speech bosses applauded wildly.

They said “there’s no question, he’s better than the Right” .

L’Humanité notes that Valls told the audience,

France needs you. The return to growth will come above all by supporting businesses, “said the Prime Minister to the cheers of hundreds of entrepreneurs. He wanted to reassure them about their future profits, repeating, as he had done the day after the announcement of the composition of the new government, that he was confident of getting the support of the majority to vote  for his “pact of responsibility.”(1)

The is intervention comes just after France’s President, François Hollande, and PM Valls, formed a new Cabinet – just a few months after they launched one after disastrous local (losing control of 150 towns) and European election results in which the Front National topped the polls at 24.86%.

Valls own present popularity stands at 36% in opinion polls, with his own chief, Hollande, gets around 17% of favourable responses.

The New Cabinet is dominated by those aligned to the ‘social-liberal’ wing of the Socialists.

A principal reason for the  switch-over was that left-wingers, notably former Economy Minister, Arnaud Montebourg, and one of the education Ministers,  Benoît Hamon refused  to back austerity measures.

A group of Socialist “frondeurs” (rebels) had emerged earlier this year when the Pacte de reponsabilité (which essentially makes concessions to employers’ demands for ‘flexibility’ in the labour market) was first put forward by President François Hollande. Battles inside the government led nowhere.

“I will follow the example of Cincinnatus,” Mr. Montebourg said, in reference to the modest Roman statesman, “who preferred to quit power to return to his fields and plows.”

It will not have escaped many people’s attention that Montebourg received 17,19 % of the Vote in the  2011 ‘primaries’ to decide who should represent the party as a presidential candidate. (2)

The present Prime Minister, Manuel Valls got 5,63 % in the same contest.

Montebourg’s ideas include proposals for a more democratic “sixth republic”, and a critique of globalisation (more, in English, here).

In response to the star-reception of the PM by the MEDEF Thierry Lepaon the leader of the left-wing union federation, the CGT, denounced the way the new government was “mixing” the role of the State and that of the bosses’ federation.

Criticising the MEDEF’s claims that its own plans would create a million new jobs he noted that the state already gave extensive grants to companies without proper control, and that many firms had given big dividends to shareholders at a time when they were pleading fir more public help. By contrast there seems little attention paid to the needs of young people, the retired, the unemployed and workers in the government’s plans.

This morning news emerged  from new Minister of the Economy,  Emmanuel Macron, that the government intends to consolidate its rightward shift  by loosening the laws regulating the length of the working week (based on a 35 hour standard). The regulations on Sunday working will also be liberalised.

France 24 paints the economic backdrop to the crisis of the French Socialist-led government.

The labour ministry said there were now 3.424 million people out of work, an increase of around 26,000. It was the ninth consecutive rise in the monthly unemployment figures.

“This rise reflects zero growth in the eurozone and in France,” Labour Minister François Rebsamen said in a statement.

France, Europe’s second biggest economy, is battling a political and economic crisis seen as the worst since Hollande took power more than two years ago.

Growth has ground to a halt in the first six months of the year and Hollande has been unable to live up to his promise to bring down unemployment.

His strategy for pulling France out of the mire is his much-vaunted Responsibility Pact, which will cut social charges for businesses by 40 billion euros ($53 billion) in exchange for them creating 500,000 jobs by 2017.

(1) Le pacte de responsabilité , an agreement to reduce social charges in companies (that is, to cut employer contributions to social insurance), ‘modernise’ taxation, and ‘simplify’ labour laws. It’s reported today that the employers’ federation,m the MEDEF, is already working on a plan, France 2020, with the agreement of the  ‘social-liberal’ union, the CFDT, to weaken labour legislation on companies with more than 50 employees.

(2) He was in third position, behind  François Hollande  and Martine Aubry.

 

Summary of the 8–9 and 15–16 October 2011 French Socialist Party presidential primary
Candidates Parties 1st round 2nd round
Votes  % Votes  %
  François Hollande Socialist Party (Parti socialiste) PS 1,038,207 39.17% 1,607,268 56.57%
  Martine Aubry Socialist Party (Parti socialiste) PS 806,189 30.42% 1,233,899 43.43%
  Arnaud Montebourg Socialist Party (Parti socialiste) PS 455,609 17.19%  
  Ségolène Royal Socialist Party (Parti socialiste) PS 184,096 6.95%
  Manuel Valls Socialist Party (Parti socialiste) PS 149,103 5.63%
  Jean-Michel Baylet Radical Party of the Left (Parti Radical de Gauche) PRG 17,055 0.64%
 
Total 2,650,259 100.00% 2,860,157 100.00%
 
Valid votes 2,650,259 99.59% 2,860,157 99.34%
Spoilt and null votes 11,025 0.41% 18,990 0.66%
Total 2,661,284 100.00% 2,879,147 100.00%
 
Table of results ordered by number of votes received in first round, complete results on resultats.lesprimairescitoyennes.fr.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 28, 2014 at 10:52 am