Tendance Coatesy

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Jean-Claude Juncker and Trotskyism.

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Juncker: Flirted with Trotskyism.

The pasts of European Commissioner José Manuel Durão Barroso and the new President of the European Commission,  Jean-Claude Juncker have been brought up by the French Communist daily L’Humanite.

The former is well known for his youthful involvement in  the extreme anti-Communist (and violent) MRPP (Movimento Reorganizativo do Partido do Proletariado).(1) Indeed he was one its leaders.  This ‘Maoist’ group, which was also supported by French ‘philosopher’ Alain Badiou and his group, the Union des communistes de France marxiste-léniniste (UCFml).

In the aftermath of the ‘Carnation Revolution’ (1974 -5) the MRPP was known for its physical attacks on Communists, trade unions, democrats and the far-left.

Barroso has more recently alleged that his support for these thugs was because he saw them as the best anti-Communists around.

L’Humanité alleges they were closely bound to the CIA.  For the paper, the  “Top level agent of the CIA, Carlucci handled and financed the MRPP .”

Which perhaps also sheds a light on Alain Badiou’s curious reticence about his own past in backing the group.

Juncker has a youthful background marked by much less explicit political engagement on the far-left.

Rue 89 in Dix choses que vous ignorez sûrement sur Jean-Claude Juncker states,

“In an interview published in 2009 on the site of the Government of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker wanted us to believe he was a rebel before he became the aged grey man mocked by his enemies:

“At 17, as a rebel, I flirted with the IV th International. I explained to my father and my mother that their bourgeois life, meant nothing at all to me.”

The former Prime Minister of Luxembourg refers to the broad Trotskyist movement in the late 60s, of which the Nouveau parti anti-capitaliste (NPA) of  Olivier Besancenot is the heir.

Juncker was not a very much of an activist: he did not leave many traces of this leftist past.”

He says that he soon grasped that this stand was misguided , although he lays claim to some enduring sympathy for the workers that he learnt from his youth  amongst a steel-worker family and neighbours.

l”Humanité alleges both figures have links with the CIA.

Juncker in particular,

was forced to resign his mandate after  a colourful case of espionage. Witnesses  suddenly became mute,although leaks suggest that the special services of the United States, including the famous NSA, have maintained discreet links with Jean-Claude Juncker…..

They conclude,

There are revealing comparisons. Barroso and Juncker were both members of so-called “far left” with direct or indirect relationship with the CIA and special service organisations in the United States.

(1) Tony Cliff. Portugal at the crossroads (1975).


The biggest “revolutionary” organisation in the University, it seems to recruit sons of upper class CDS supporters. Its membership is characterised by a religious fervour. It was quite heroic under fascism, but even then spent much of its time denouncing the rest of the revolutionary left. Typically, today it runs slogans like “Long live the glorious MRPP – Arnaldo Matos (Secretary of MRPP), glorious leader of the proletariat”, etc.

It gained some influence in a few firms when the Communist Party was involved in strike-breaking – e.g. it has some influence in TAP and the TLP (telephone workers).

But its influence is restricted in Lisbon to at most five workers’ committees.

It is extremely unpopular with COPCON rank and file because of its references to them as the “new PIDE”.

Its position used to be distinct from that of the PCP ML/AOC, in that it did not openly back the Socialist Party. But the Socialist Party saw an advantage in claiming to defend the MRPP against the Communist Party. And recently the MRPP has provided a convenient weapon for the Socialist Party to use to break the hold of the Communist Party on certain unions in Lisbon (journalists, bank workers, clerks).

The MRPP sees the events in the North as a “peasant uprising against social fascism”. When the Communist Party defended its headquarters in Leiria, the MRPP spoke of it “shooting down peasants”.

There seems to be some sort of convergence here between the sons of the bourgeoisie and their parents.


9 Responses

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  1. I am reminded of the old saying to the effect that “If you are not a Communist at 20 you have no heart. If you are a Communist at 40 you have no head”. In practice both Communism and Fascism have led to mass murder although in theory at least Communism is more “humane”.


    June 30, 2014 at 7:09 am

  2. So what?
    If you put aside all the 60ish European leaders who were far left in 1968, there won’t be many left…
    And if you select the ones who were NOT at the time, you might sometimes find yourself in very bad company.
    André Teissier du Cros, President
    Comité Bastille

  3. It’s still funny though.

    Andrew Coates

    June 30, 2014 at 11:29 am

  4. Odd to see Trotskyists recycling PCF accusations of the CIA manipulating left groups. Barroso was in his teens in 1974-75 and was most certainly not a leader of the MRPP at that period. Fernando Rosas, who was a central leader of the MRPP, went on to become one of Portugal’s most respected leftist historians and was the presidential candidate for the Bloco de Esquerda in 2001, and is certainly not a thug. Why do you consider Alain Badiou not to be a philosopher? Does the term involve some kind of value judgement to you?

    puss wallgreen

    July 1, 2014 at 3:04 pm

  5. I was very active in helping the London based Portuguese Workers’ Co-ordinating Committee in this period, which built what became the Campaign of Solidarity with the Portuguese Working Class.

    I dispute your version of the history of the period completely.

    Wikipedia says of Borroso, “his college days, he was one of the leaders of the underground Maoist MRPP (Reorganising Movement of the Proletariat Party, later PCTP/MRPP, Communist Party of the Portuguese Workers/Revolutionary Movement of the Portuguese Proletariat).”


    The Portuguese version says of him,

    ” Foi um dos líderes da FEM-L (Federação dos Estudantes Marxistas-Leninistas), do Movimento Reorganizativo do Partido do Proletariado (MRPP), força política de inspiração maoísta.” – before giving an account of his eventual expulsion/leaving:


    As for their thuggish politics, the MRRP were notorious for describing the PCP as “social fascist” amongst other epithets of that ilk.

    That past cannot be whitewashed out.

    As for Alain Badiou,I suppose encouraging attacks on the left and backing Pol Pot is not incompatible with being a ‘philosopher’.

    “Alain Badiou’s claims his group, the UCFML (estimated at 80 strong) stood in the middle, between the Stalinists of the PCFML and the “ultra left” “almost anarchist” actions of the GP. It is described by Bourseiller as “secte?” – we might remove the question mark. While its founders, like Badiou, came in 1969, from the scrupulously democratic Parti Socialiste Unifié, it formed ‘comités de base’ welded to a structure without internal democracy. Badiou was the only real Boss. Yet it was close to “actual political processes”, remarks the Metaphysician.

    In this vein they held a meeting of the ‘international proletariat’ for immigrant workers at the luxurious Hôtel Lutetia. UCFML member Natacha Michel ‘Groupe de Foudre’ that disrupted cultural events, including Maccciocchi’s lectures (to cries of “la révisioniste à la porte!) they didn’t approve of. One of their leading cadres, Bernard Sichère described them as torn between a “paranoïaque, intolérante” tendency and a “démocratique, anti-authoritaire” one. The UCFML generally supported violence only by proxy. I have already cited their backing for Pol Pot. The UCFML also aided the Portuguese MRPP – which engaged in military attacks, supported by the extreme-right, against Portuguese democrats and Communists during the Carnation Revolution. (5)

    The UCFML’s main activity was apparently organising the “international proletariat”, their term for immigrant workers. It was largely unnoticed. Badiou’s L’Organisation Politique, a ghostly survivor from those days, continues its work, as Middlemarch’s Dorothea, humbly and patiently, if not exactly unsung by its leader or unnoted by its British admirer. Cambodians and José Manuel Barroso, the ex-Portuguese Maoist and hard-line free-marketer of the European Commission recall no doubt the UCFML’s other international solidarity activity as fidelity to the Event.”


    There is a first-hand account of the attempts of Badiou’s group to shout down the “revisionists” and drive them from campus in Deux Mille Ans de Bonheur. Maria Antonietta Macchiocchi. Grasset. 1973.

    On Badiou’s ‘philosophy’ there are plenty of really good full critiques (it is impenetrable metaphysics) to start with.

    This is a beginning: François Laruelle, Anti-Badiou : Sur l’introduction du maoïsme en philosophie, Kimé, 2011.

    Andrew Coates

    July 1, 2014 at 3:56 pm

  6. Andrew, your English falls apart in the paragraph re Juncker’s youth. Do you mean that he came from a workingclass family and that his father was a steel worker?

    Sue R

    July 1, 2014 at 10:30 pm

  7. Look, Barroso was 18 in 1974 and the idea he played any kind of leadership role in the MRPP is utterly risible. Quoting Wikipedia is not really relevant, since we don’t know who made this entry and there has been something of a campaign by Europhobes to exaggerate the extent of Barroso’s youthful Maoist involvement (since I know you like guilt by association, Nick Griffin was among the participants in this campaign when he was in the European parliament). There have been a number of studies of the MRPP, including a book which was translated into French – and while I don’t have Bensaid or Filoche’s books on the Portuguese revolution to hand, I would wager dollars to doughnuts that none of these would mention this allegedly central MRPP leader.
    As for Badiou, he held the chair of philosophy at the Ecole Normale Superieure so in my book that’s enough to qualify him as a philosopher. As far as I know the only chair you have is at Ipswich library, so you’re not really in a position to strip people of their professional designations because you don’t like their politics or don’t understand what they are saying.

    puss wallgreen

    July 2, 2014 at 11:01 am

  8. Trader-Finance.Fr.

    José Manuel Barroso

    “Président des étudiants maoïstes (extrême-gauche) dans le cadre de la « Révolution des œillets » de 1974”


    I bow to the professional academic status of the “communist” Alain Badiou, which, since it includes being a “professeur émérite” at the ENS”, obviously also outranks Marx as well..

    Andrew Coates

    July 2, 2014 at 11:41 am

  9. albertrudolf

    May 10, 2019 at 10:30 pm

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