Archive for the ‘French Left’ Category
In 2004 Seamus Milne, an Editor at the Guardian wrote,
It is the insurgent spirit of political Islam, however, that has brought the issue of how progressive movements should relate to religion to a head. Modern Islamism has flourished on the back of the failures of the left and secular nationalists in the Muslim world and has increasingly drawn its support from the poor and marginalised.
In 2008 he developed this theme,
Just as the French republican tradition of liberation came to be used as a stick to beat Muslims in a completely different social context from which it emerged, so the militant secularists who fetishise metaphysics and cosmology as a reason to declare the religious beyond the liberal pale are now ending up as apologists for western supremacism and violence. Like nationalism, religion can play a reactionary or a progressive role, and the struggle is now within it, not against it. For the future, it can be an ally of radical change.
In this spirit Milne, who has a problem with French republicanism and secularism, wrote in 2011,
“The once savagely repressed progressive Islamist party An-Nahda (which) won the Tunisian elections this week on a platform of pluralist democracy, social justice and national independence.”
Few would now describe the conservative, anti-secular, pro-free market Islamists of Ennahda as progressive”.
But Milne has not given up.
Woolwich attack: If the whole world’s a battlefield, that holds in Woolwich as well as Waziristan
Denying a link between western wars in the Muslim world and the backlash on our streets only fuels Islamophobia and bloodshed
“Leave our lands and you can live in peace,” the London-born Muslim convert told bystanders. The message couldn’t be clearer. It was the same delivered by the 2005 London bomber, Mohammed Siddique Khan, and the Iraqi 2007 Glasgow attacker, Bilal Abdullah, who declared: “I wanted the public to have a taste” of what its government of “murderers did to my people”.
To say these attacks are about “foreign policy” prettifies the reality. They are the predicted consequence of an avalanche of violence unleashed by the US, Britain and others in eight direct military interventions in Arab and Muslim countries that have left hundreds of thousands of dead. Only the wilfully blind or ignorant can be shocked when there is blowback from that onslaught at home. The surprise should be that there haven’t been more such atrocities.
Mainstream Islamic teaching supports the right to resist foreign occupation, while rejecting violence against non-combatants or outside the battlefield. But it is the US and its closest allies in the war on terror who have declared the whole world to be a battlefield, in which they claim the right to kill whoever they deem to be a threat.
Nobody on the left would make excuses for the actions of the US and its allies in attempting to impose their ideas and power on the rest of the world, least of all their violent methods.
But is this what is at stake here?
Milne complains about the reaction to what he admits was a brutal murder.
What on earth would he have expected in any country in the world?
And is it just foreign policy that motivated these killers?
This is a report of Michael Adebolajo’s speech at Harrow Central Mosque in 2009.
Wearing a white skull cap and a traditional black Islamic robe, he says: ‘You are here only to please Allah. You aren’t here for any other reason.’
The demonstration was organised in response to a nearby protest by the English Defence League and a group called Stop the Islamisation of Europe.
During the 80-second clip, Adebolajo says that the Prophet Muhammad fought against ‘way worse’ opposition.
‘They are pigs,’ he shouts. ‘Allah says they are worse than cattle. Do not be scared of them. And do not turn your back to them. Don’t be scared of them, or police, or the cameras.’
A witness at the rally said of Adebolajo’s address: ‘After the speech some of them started running around. An imam even came out at one stage and told the hotheads to calm down and get inside the mosque, saying that they should be praying.
So the “filthy non-believers” are also a problem.
But Milne disregards evidence of pure religious hate, and tries to give a political lesson on foreign policy without considering that this loathing has its own ideological causes.
He focuses on Western actions,
They are the predicted consequence of an avalanche of violence unleashed by the US, Britain and others in eight direct military interventions in Arab and Muslim countries that have left hundreds of thousands of dead. Only the wilfully blind or ignorant can be shocked when there is blowback from that onslaught at home. The surprise should be that there haven’t been more such atrocities.
It goes without saying that this is a feeble explanation for the violent atrocities taking place every day in Syria, the sectarian violence in “Muslim countries”, and the murders of Africans, Christians and Muslims, by Islamists.
When will Milne ever admit that Islamism is a problem in itself.
The claim that “Muslim’s” have their, “our” lands, is on to begin with.
It is clear in fights over these countries the poor and marginalised are the victims of Islamists
That, in conclusion, it is the duty of progressives, that is, the Left, to fight Islamism.
The whole world is indeed a battlefield, and Milne is not on the right side.
Not good enough for Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
A new episode in the war between Jean-Luc Mélenchon, co-chairman of the French Left Party, and Pierre Laurent, national secretary of the French Communist Party took place a couple of days ago. This time it was in Madrid site of a key meeting of the Party of the European left ((EMP) – the body that brings together radical left parties in the European Union , notably for Euro-elections and the European Parliament.
Europe I reports,
The Left Party of Jean-Luc Mélenchon decided on 15 December, to slam the door on the Party of the European Left (EMP) , the gathering of twenty European political formations.
The reason for this break up is the election of Pierre Laurent national secretary of the French Communist Oarty (PCF. Behind this decision of Mélenchons group, the Parti de gauche (PdG) was the PCF’s decision to agree to an alliance with the Parti Socialiste (in government), for the first round of municipal elections in Paris.
This is explained to Liberation by Martine Billard, co-chair of PG:
We consider that waging a European election campaign with a president of with a president of the EMP who calls in Paris for an alliance with municipal representatives of social democracy will obscure our message.
In their official statement explaining why they have broken from the rest of the radical European left the PdG says,
Cette décision complique lourdement notre tâche en France. La clarté de notre campagne des européennes ne doit pas être mise en danger par la stratégie portée par Pierre Laurent de rejoindre la liste du PS aux municipales à Paris. Rien ne doit venir brouiller le sens politique du vote pour nos listes. Nous décidons donc de suspendre notre participation au PGE jusqu’aux élections municipales.
This decision severely complicates our task in France. The clarity of our European campaign must not be endangered by the strategy pursued by Pierre Laurent who has joined the PS municipal election list Paris. Nothing should interfere with the political meaning of the vote for our lists. So we have decided to suspend our participation in the EMP up until the municipal elections (note end of March 2014). Humanité.
The PCF notes that Pierre Laurent was re-elected to head the European Left with 78% of the vote.
In its go-it-alone Paris bid the PdG has opinion poll scores of 6% in the 14th arrondissement et 2% in the 15th arrondissements – where it is standing.
There are concerns about the future of the Front de Gauche, the alliance that brings together the PdG, the PCF and many other left parties and groupings.
The Gauche Unitaire (ex Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire) voted for Pierre Laurent.
The tendency has expressed,
“sa totale incompréhension devant la décision du Parti de gauche de suspendre sa participation au PGE jusqu’aux élections municipales en France.”
Their complete incomprehension faced with the decision of the Parti de gauche to suspend participating in the PGE until the municipal elections in France.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Pierre Laurent have not spoken since the Fête de l’Humanité, last September.
Is this Going to Work in France? Really?
France’s National Assembly has just voted today to penalise the clients of prostitutes.
With 268 votes against 138 a law, which will make a customer of Prostitutes liable to a fine of 1 500 euros (stiffly increased for a second offence) will now go to the Senate before becoming law.
The legislation will also cover Internet sites, hosted in France, or in other countries.
In France, the law currently states that prostitution is legal, although brothels, poncing, and soliciting sex are not. The law will abolish the offence of ‘racollage’ touting for sex.
Minister for women’s rights Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, who has pushed for the reform, argues that prostitution in any form is unacceptable and has said the aim of President François Hollande’s Socialist government was to suppress the trade altogether.
Proponents of the reform point to a rise in human trafficking as a key reason for more restrictive legislation. Some 90 percent of France’s estimated 20,000 to 40,000 prostitutes are victims of Nigerian, Chinese and Romanian trafficking networks, the government says.
Those figures represent a dramatic jump from just over a decade ago, when only one in five prostitutes was foreign.
But the proposed reforms have prompted street protests, and some prostitutes say the law will rob them of their livelihoods.
Government ministers, including Interior Minister Manuel Valls, have also expressed reservations about being able to apply the law as it stands. Hollande’s Green coalition allies voted against the reform, as did the opposition centre-right UMP members.
If the debate on France’s elected Left has been largely consensual – from the Front de Gauche to the Parti Socialiste a majority have backed the legislation, this has been far from the case amongst feminists and social movement activists.
Respected feminist, philosopher and activist, Elisabeth Badinter has declared that it is not right for the “state to legislate on the sexual activity of individuals.”
This ‘penalisation’ is prohibition. I prefer to speak of prohibition rather than abolitionishing protstitution, because that is the objective l of the authors of the bill. They comprae their legislation to the abolition of slavery! But the sale of an individual is not comparable to prostitution , which is a provision of the body for sexual purposes.
A person may accept or reject this sale, if, that is, they are not entrapped by a ‘network’ (by a criminal gang AC). The argument is that we must we must dry up the demand for sexual services so that that there is no more supply.
I do find it normal that the new legislation allows women to be prostitutes, but the law will prohibit men to make use of their services. This is not consistent and it is unfair.
The second reason for my opposition is that they claim that there is the prostitution is dominated by networks, in which women are placed in situations where they cannot say no. But amongst prostitutes there are those who are independent and casual, who practice this in order to make some extra money.
The ban – in effect to do what women want with their bodies – would be a step backwards from one of the important achievements of feminism. That is the struggle for women top do what they like their bodies. This applies, even if it is a minority of women.
It is not a matter of quantity but of principle. (Le Monde)
By contrast Caroline Fourrest has argued that there is little “choice” involved in Prostitution, nor more than for women who “choose” to wear the symbol of oppression, the veil. She perhaps does not help matters by asserting that those defending prostitutes rights are often those who back reactionary Islamists. But her main point is that issues of power are involved.
There are a host of other arguments, about the safety of sex workers, the risks that the law will drive them into clandestine lives, and the view that prostitution will simply not be ‘abolished’.
For those concerned with this debate the pages in le Monde, notably, the dossier, Une nouvelle guerre des féminismes ? (which appeared at the end of last week) are essential reading.
On Sunday Jean-Luc Mélenchon marched with Bercy Pierre Moscovici. Co-Chair of the Left Party (PG) and Pierre Laurent, national secretary of the French Communist Party (PCF), heading the procession the Left Front for a “revolution in taxation” and against the planned increase of VAT on the 1 st January.
Apart from the Front de Gauche (FdG), Le Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste, Lutte ouvrière and some Greens (EE-LV) took part.
In wintry conditions, the demonstration (reports indicate) essentially mobilised members of the FdG. According to Parti de gauche (PG), 100 000 people were present, this was 70 000 for the (PCF). The Police total was 7 000. Le Monde.
Pictures of the march in L’Humanité here.
On factor motivating the marchers was a wish not to let the streets be dominated by the ‘Poujadist ‘ anti-government demonstrations of the Breton ‘bonnets rouges’ and the lorry driver bosses who were out this morning protesting against ‘eco-taxes’.
The character of the bonnets rouges can be seen in the placard held by the demonstrator below,
It reads, “France, a paradise for the skivers, fraudsters, and criminals, Hell for the hard-working. We say, Merde to Europe and Merde! to that France.”
The Front de Gauche will hold further unitary actions in the coming January.
There is now a new grouping inside the Front de Gauche, «Ensemble. Mouvement pour une alternative de gauche, écologiste et solidaire». (Together: movement for a left ecological and social alternative), Ensemble claims the place of the Third Pole inside the Front de gauche (FdG) next to the PCF (French Communist Party and the PG (left party, led by Jean Luc-Mélenchon). (Humanité)
The new grouping was set up last weekend at the Bourse du travail de Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis)
One of its distinguishing features is that it will be possible to be an individual member – something you cannot do with the Front de Gauche as a whole (you have to join one of the parties in the bloc).
This is an indication of Ensemble’s aim to “Open the Windows” of the FdG to a wider public.
These are the groups (already part of the FdG) that have united to form the new alliance.
La Fédération pour une alternative sociale et écologique (Fase), les Alternatifs, Convergence et alternative, la Gauche anticapitaliste (ex Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste, NPA) and a part of la Gauche unitaire (also from the NPA) . Individuals who have joined include the economist Pierre Khalfa and the former president of the Syndicat de la magistrature (magistrates trade union) Évelyne Sire-Marin.
Wikipedia (French) has more information here.
Official Site of Ensemble. Mouvement pour une alternative de gauche, écologiste et solidaire here.
Report on the founding conference in Politis.
They state that it has “all the attributes of a political party”.
Their own policy, they announce, is that they will only help create a new party on a solid and politically clear basis – - something they implicitly state Ensemble is not.
In view of this the Gauche Unitaire declares that the 35 of its members who have joined the new grouping are in contradiction with their organisation’s own statues (Article 6 of their Constitution).
By joining another political party they are therefore no longer members of the Gauche Unitaire.