Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Will the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste Continue its Lonely Path?

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Left Alternative to French Socialist Government.

French politics are in turmoil. Opinion Polls show both the Socialist President, François  Hollande and his Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on a slide. They have dropped to backing levels of  35 and 37%.

Thier handling of the Mittal group’s  plans for the Florange steel plant, which many believe will not save jobs or the furnace, has been widely criticised on the left and by trade unions. 

Left-wing sections of the Front de Gauche have issued a joint declaration on the wider aspects of the present situation.

They note that the strategy of the Ayrault government is far from their electoral promises of “« changement maintenant », change now.

The Minister of the Interior, Manuel Valls has not hesitated to crack down on Roms,  has decided to fight by police repression, protests against the construction of the airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, and the Cabinet is wobbling about the promise to give immigrants the vote in local elections.

St the root of this, they states, is a failure to confront the austerity measures incarnated in the European Treaty drawn up principally by Sarkozy and Angela Merkel.

The European Union agreement on increased ‘compeition’, a mainstay of “ultralibéralisme”, remains unchallenged. Austerity policies, based on this outlook, are being implemented by the Ayrault government, with President Hollande’s approval.

Against this they call for a campaign in 2013 for an alternative to austerity, based on concrete measures, to help resolve the crisis. They propose that the Front de Gauche takes every possible means to mobilise protest, to show that there is an alternative on the left,a nd that cuts and austerity are not in inevitable . In this way they propose to broaden their campaign to include all those who share this strategy.

Pierre Laporte (FASE), Stéphanie Treillet (Convergences et alternative), Alain Faradji (Gauche unitaire), Ingrid Hayes (Gauche anticapitaliste)

How is the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (from which both the Gauche Unitaire and the Gauche anticapitaliste broke away) reacting?

On the Gauche anticapitaliste site this has just been posted.

Le NPA va t-il choisir un isolement supplémentaire ? Samy Johsua.

Johsua notes that the former NPA Presidential Candidate Olivier Besancenot does envisage some kind of general cooperation between different left forces opposed to the present Socialist-led government’s policies. But that in the documents for the NPA’s next year Conference there is no mention of any real « front social et politique » that could give this shape. The  NPA remains fixated by hard-line opposition to ‘social liberalism’, which in its view is incarnated in the Socialist Party (PS).

If the NPA now stands for ‘left opposition’ to the Ayrault government, that is not sufficient for real unity.

Instead we see a repeat of the old – antique – opposition between  « les réformistes » (Front de Gauche) et « les révolutionnaires » (the NPA). The FdG which stands for change “through the ballot box”, is not, in this view, really ‘anti-capitalist’. It does not stand for real united struggle, nor their self-organisation.

To Joshua the NPA remains stuck in the past. Its appeal for a party in which one could see “cohabiter des traditions différentes” draws narrow limits. Only the traditional far left is welcome to join.

By contrast for the Gauche anticapitaliste, a “front social et politique ” of the left of the left remains essential.

But, as yet, the NPA appears not to want to be a full part of such a united response to the crisis.


6 Responses

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  1. Samy Johsua’s piece is on the website of the Gauche Anticapitaliste, but with a note saying it does not necessarily reflect the views of the organisation. In my rather different opinion, the problem with the NPA is not in the distinction they make between ‘reformists’ and ‘revolutionaries’ (still valid, I think) but with (1) their inability or refusal (depending on which internal faction we are talking about) to get to grips with the problem of how the latter should relate to the former ; (2) their failure to recognise the role that left-reformism is currently playing in France and elsewhere, other than as a ‘diversion’ ; (3) their failure to apply united front tactics consistently.

  2. Thanks Colin, I did just say the article was “on the site” (I had read the note).

    On reformists and revoltuionaries, I’ve always thought the issue is only ever clear when we are in a revolutionary situation.

    Having read some of the NPA internal debate and the Forum des marxistes révolutionnaires I do find that a section of them are behaving in ways that have more in common with the worst aspects of the isolated British far left than with the serious LCR of old.

    The way the distinction is posed is both moralistic and purely programmatic.

    Anway, good luck in your initiatives from a ‘left reformist’.

    Andrew Coates

    December 18, 2012 at 2:41 pm

  3. Hi Andrew – here’s some shameless advertising for Gauche Anticapitaliste. You can also look us up on Wikipedia UK under Anticapitalist (France) : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anticapitalist_Left_%28France%29

    A new party of the French anticapitalist left – member of the Left Front

    Gauche Anticapitaliste (France) (GA) (1) is a French political organisation founded in November 2011 as a tendency within the New Anticapitalist Party (2), originally representing up to 40% of the membership. GA defines itself as ‘eco-socialist’.

    Within the NPA, the tendency argued in favour of the unity of left opposition movements in France, considering that the formation of the Left Front, composed initially of the French Communist Party, the Left Party (a breakaway from the Socialist Party led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon) and a small split from the NPA, Gauche Unitaire, had created the basis for a realignment of forces to the left of the Socialist Party.

    Between the end of 2011 and the middle of 2012, many supporters of the pro-unity current within the NPA left the party or ceased to be active within it. In the French presidential election of May 2012, some members and local groups of GA anticipated the decision to leave the NPA by campaigning for the Left Front’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Others campaigned for the NPA’s candidate, Philippe Poutou. (Mélenchon obtained a little over 11% of the vote in the first round, Poutou 1.15%.)

    In July 2012, GA presented a motion to a national conference of the NPA, which obtained 22% of the votes. It then decided to leave the NPA to join the Left Front (Front de Gauche, FdG). (3) The membership of GA is estimated at the end of 2012 at approximately 700, overwhelmingly ex-members of the NPA and in many cases also ex-members of the NPA’s predecessor, the Revolutionary Communist League (LCR). A small minority of GA supporters are currently still members of the NPA.

    In areas where the Left Front organises public activities, such as the holding of Citizens’ Assemblies, local GA groups play an active part in promoting them; in others, where the Left Front exists mainly as an electoral cartel, the GA sees its role as helping to transform it into a permanent, interventionist organisation with a mass base. In both cases, GA members work to broaden the Left Front through involving activists who are not members of any of the constituent organisations.

    Within the Left Front, GA is involved in discussions with other member-organisations with a view to closer collaboration and a possible merger. It declined a merger proposal from the Left Party, preferring to continue discussions with all the member-organisations. However, it accepted an offer to send observers to meetings of the Left Party’s National Council.

    GA has helped organise conferences of the ‘red-green pole’ within the Left Front (GA, C&A, FASE, Les Alternatifs).

    GA has a number of local elected representatives, including two members of the Limousin Regional Council, originally elected on a joint PCF-PG-NPA ticket.

    GA is not affiliated to an international organisation. (4) GA is involved in international solidarity campaigns and social forums, and supports the international BDS (Boycott, Disinvestment, Sanctions) movement in solidarity with Palestine. It has helped to popularise the resistance to austerity in Greece, Spain, Portugal and elsewhere and has contacts with Syriza in Greece and the Left Block in Portugal, amongst other European parties and coalitions.

    GA publishes press releases and articles on its national website http://www.gauche-anticapitaliste.org. It does not currently publish a newspaper or review.

    Colin Falconer (for Gauche Anticapitaliste), December 2012

    (1) Gauche Anticapitaliste (in English, the Anticapitalist Left) (France) is not to be confused with the organisation of the same name in Switzerland – a party founded in 2009 which is closely associated with the Fourth International and the French NPA.

    (2) The New Anticapitalist Party (in French, Nouveau parti anticapitaliste, NPA) was founded in February 2009 after the dissolution of the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (LCR). Initially claiming 9,000 members, its membership is today estimated at approximately 3,000.

    (3) As of October 2012, the Left Front is made up of the French Communist Party (PCF), the Left Party (Parti de Gauche – PG), Gauche Unitaire (GU), the Fédération pour une alternative sociale et écologique (FASE), Convergences et Alternative (C&A), the Parti communiste ouvrier de France (PCOF), République et Socialisme, Gauche Anticapitaliste (GA) and (since November 2012) Les Alternatifs.
    Of the nine components of the Left Front, three (GU, C&A, GA) are splits from the NPA. The PCOF comes from the Maoist (Marxist-Leninist) tradition. The FASE was set up by ex-members of the PCF, among others. Les Alternatifs is a ‘red-green’ party. République et Socialisme is a split from the Republican and Citizen’s Movement (MRC), a left-nationalist satellite of the Socialist Party.

    (4) A number of GA’s partners in the Left Front (PCF, PG, GU) are members of the Party of the European Left. A group of GA members who had previously been members of the Trotskyist LCR are active in the Fourth International, on a personal basis. A few members of GA have also at different times been members of organisations (Socialisme International, Socialisme par en-bas …) associated with the International Socialist Tendency. However, the IST, while recognising that the NPA has undergone a serious crisis and loss of members, continues to support the small group within it which publishes the review Que faire ?

    Colin Falconer

    December 18, 2012 at 4:43 pm

  4. A very useful account Colin.

    I was talking in London a couple of weeks ago to a member of the Green Socialist Alliance – Toby Abse – and he was interested to hear of how the Alternatifs had joined the Front de Gauche.

    Is there anything in English about them?

    Andrew Coates

    December 19, 2012 at 12:42 pm

  5. Not as far as I know, Andrew.
    Les Alternatifs voted to join the Left Front by a narrow majority (56%), so it’s possible that not all their members/branches will go along with the decision. Locally they may have problems working with the PCF (but they aren’t alone in this !). In the past some branches have stood candidates with the NPA.
    They’re not necessarily the most ‘unitaire’ of organisations. They were originally a member of the FASE, along with the Communist Unitaires and the survivors of the Collectifs Unitaires which were important around 2005-8, but left when it decided to join the Left Front. Now they have changed their mind.
    Most of the organisations in the Left Front are more or less committed to Green Socialist politics. Even the Left Party, with its commitment to French nuclear weapons (until we get ‘multilateral disarmament’) and maintaining defence spending (while withdrawing from NATO), takes a pretty good position on green issues and recently held a conference on the subject. GA is officially ‘eco-socialist’. Mélenchon went to Notre-Dame-des-Landes to take part in the demo against the building of the new airport there (the ‘Ayrault-port’ as we call it). Only the PCF are dragging their feet, probably influenced by the CGT with its concern for jobs.

    Colin Falconer

    December 19, 2012 at 2:03 pm

  6. For the Parti de Gauche I imagine there is still the shadow of CERES.

    My old Pabloite comrades joined what’s become les Alernatifs, and having been an active member of the FGA (a forerunner of them) I know the milieu well.

    I can easily imagine all of this.

    But I met an Alternatif last year who was visiting the UK and she seemed, by contrast, to like the Piquet Tendency (Gauche Unitaire).

    Andrew Coates

    December 19, 2012 at 5:57 pm

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