Tendance Coatesy

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Political Confusion on the European Union Gains Ground on the Left: Jacques Sapir and the Front National.

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Selling Your Soul to Mr. Putin

Jacques Sapir: Red/Brown Alliance Against European Union. 

There is an excellent French Blog site which deals in “political confusionism”.

Back in July it picked up on a development that’s hit the headlines in France over the last few days: the call by “left” economist Jacques Sapir for an alliance with the Front National. (JACQUES SAPIR, UN HOMME DE GAUCHE ?).

Like many people (including we note floating voter Tariq Ali who got a column in Le Monde recently hinting darkly at ‘the left’ turning against Europe) he is claiming that the crisis in Greece shows the need for a left-wing anti-European Union stand.

Sapir has gone one stage further than the NO2EU UK left and indicated that he would be favourable to this:

 L’économiste «hétérodoxe» préconise une alliance des partis anti-euro, regroupant le Front de gauche et le Front national.

Like certain British Labour politicians he has a fondness for evoking memories of the Resistance.

Sapir gave the Conseil national de la résistance (CNR) as his model.

Sapir is no unknown: a prominent economist, and Director of the Centre d’études des modes d’industrialisation (CEMI-EHESS), he has been close to the Front de Gauche, to Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Parti de Gauche and to the “sovereigntist” former Socialist Minister (and leader of the left tendency inside the Parti Socialiste, CERES), Jean-Pierre  Chevènement.

On the Confusionisme site  Ornella Guyet adds,

Prominent in the current debate surrounding the Greek crisis, a prominent supporter of  “de-globalization” – whose theories inspired the Arnaud Montebourg’s (1) discourse on the question – he is also an expert on Russia, known for his softness towards  the Putin regime, equally famous for his careerism, his homophobia and his alliances with the far right in Europe. His site Russeurope, given legitimacy by legitimized by its academic pretensions Jacques Sapir is a frequent guest of  the salons of the Russian embassy, ​​as well as seminars of the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation, a think tank based in Paris to promote the image of Putin’s Russia in Europe. Not surprisingly, we find his name in several pro-Kremlin media, Voice of Russia and Sputnik News.

More recently, obsessed by the Euro, he has become ever closer to the “sovereigntists” of the Right:  the groupuscule Debout la République

Sapir claims that the Front National has “changed” from its far-right origins, and that in any case he was talking about an alliance of the right and left involving a party that has “come from” this transformed FN.

Immediate reaction on the left to Sapir’s ideas was not favourable.

Eric Coquerel, Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s close ally,  called this strategy “an aberration”. He continued, “Given the scale of the current crisis, we must offer an alternative to  fascist and xenophobic reactions. Their nation is not ours. ”  Clémentine Autain (Ensemble), a leader of the Left Front  has said that “The phenomenon is not massive…but it  gives credibility to the FN . “

It is however well known that Mélenchon’s party is openly flirting with the idea of a “Plan B”, that is, leaving the Euro, “if a renegotiation of EU treaties fails .”

They plan an “internationalist summit for Plan B” to be held in late 2015 which bring together those in the like minded  “left” who agree to work together on the subject. (More here)

Sovereigntism, that is the belief that the “nation” has the supreme right to decide “its” fate – faced with international forces, from the European Union to NATO – appears to be gaining ground on the British left as well. The collapse of sections of the left to the belief that Scotland would be better off governed by its “ain folk”  in the SNP was one indication. After the Greek crisis, anti-European Union voices have become louder, promoting perhaps a return to a belief in a road to socialism outside of the EU.

At a time when fear of ‘foreigners’ – migrant workers, refugees in particular – is reaching an all-time high in Europe, playing with nationalism seems a dangerous gamble.

(1) Left-wing of the Parti Socialiste. Montebourg scored  17,19 % in the first round of the open PS French Presidential “primaries” of the party, which involved 2,700,000 voters who signed a declaration saying the backed the values of the left – without anybody wetting themselves about “infiltration”.

8 Responses

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  1. The modern nation-state is a very powerful focus for political and economic activity and is also a massively strong emotional (for want of a better term) focus amongst the population. Think of the international bodies that have crashed at its altar: the Second International in 1914, the League of Nations as it fell apart in the 1930, the Third International as it became an adjunct of the Soviet foreign ministry. The United Nations only exists through endless fudging. Anti-imperialist struggles have tended to be national in form, settling within the national boundaries largely drawn up by the big powers.

    Neo-liberalism, with its internationalising of especially economic affairs, will at present be responded to in an essentially national form. The resistance of Greece to the EU’s onerous austerity demands, even though led by a left-wing party, inevitably took a national form, as the government was operating within the confines of Greece’s national borders, and by itself with no corresponding moves in other EU countries. What I fear in Greece is, with the failure of the left to deal effectively with the crisis, and with its national orientation to the crisis, the next phase could very well be a rapid shift to the right — and there is a hefty fascist right waiting in the wings.

    The question is how the left in Europe can devise an anti-austerity programme that can challenge the EU’s neo-liberalism without going down the national road. I think that this has to be started through stating that there are no national solutions to the crisis — which means no blocs with right-wing anti-EU currents — and that the European left has to devise an all-Europe challenge to the EU’s economic orthodoxy, and to demand the democratisation of the Europe-wide institutions, making them accountable to the population of Europe.

    Dr Paul

    August 27, 2015 at 1:28 pm

  2. The democratisation of the EU is the big challenge. If the left, fearful of contamination by the nationalist right, surrenders the question of democracy to them, that will be a serious error. The whole EU debate will then be between the corporatist, big-business-friendly euro-elite, using the arguments of economic rationality and prosperity (“you’ll all be poorer if you try to leave”) to defend the status quo, and the nationalist-populist right, using arguments of democracy and popular sovereignty with a dose of chauvinism thrown in for good measure. In effect, it will be between two brands of right-wing politics.

    The EU as presently constituted is rotten. Its institutions are remote and unaccountable. Its internal solidarity, as the Greek crisis shows, is a sham. And its trajectory is entirely elite-driven. Did any workers’ organisations anywhere in the EU campaign for replacing national currencies with the euro, for example? I don’t recall any. I agree with Dr Paul that blocs with the anti-EU right are a bad idea, but blocs with the pro-EU right are just as bad, if only for somewhat different reasons.


    August 27, 2015 at 3:32 pm

  3. “Did any workers’ organisations anywhere in the EU campaign for replacing national currencies with the euro, for example? ”

    I think (but may be wrong) that the Irish unions and ICTU were in favour.

    Jim Denham

    August 27, 2015 at 4:46 pm

  4. A first step would be for European Trade Unions and left parties to build direct contacts rather than relying on ‘summit level’ contacts.

    Unions are involved in pan-European bodies, known as European Works Council (EWC) which (I know this one directly) involve delegates from union branches in companies.


    There ought to be left contacts on a grass-roots basis, around the poles of the European Left Party, Socialist International and so on (I leave out the other ‘internationals’).

    Obviously language differences present a big problem: amongst other things there is a big fight to be had against the “all in English” stand of many people.

    A left programme for Europe should not be based on vague and general ideas about participation but something solid, such as mechanisms (through elected commissions) to achieve a “levelling up” of welfare standards, and workers’ rights, and expanded social ownership under popular control.

    There have been plans by the Party of the European left, for a “social Europe”, that go in this direction.

    It is naturally much simpler to scream about the neo-liberal economics of the Commission (visible), and the Trimavate, while the impact of the international “markets” and consensus around privatisation and right-wing policies mustered by ‘market forces’ is harder to focus on.

    But the idea of something similar to the Works Councils as a basis for cross-European social politics is a start: even these limited bodies will not exist if the UK leaves the EU, as will a huge raft of rights at work, and other (if skeletal) legislation important to the TUC and many unions, but unfortunately little known to the wider public, including much of the British left.

    Andrew Coates

    August 27, 2015 at 5:04 pm

  5. The Russians have every interest in aiding these forces. Destroying the EU is a clear aim and they will aid anyone, right or left, that will push towards that end.

    This month there was the sight of MPs from Sarkozy’s party signing up for a Crimean day trip and Sarkozy himself has changed his rhetoric completely on Russia. They also have two former German Chancellors in their pocket.

    John Schindler has written a couple of times on what the Russians are doing in France. This needs to be factored into any consideration of what is going on.

    Here on what lay behind Russian TV carrying rants about Charlie Hebdo being a US operation:

    “Yet the most interesting part of Martynov’s rant about the Paris atrocity isn’t actually his fact-free pinning it on American intelligence. He revealed what the Kremlin’s real agenda now is. He hailed Europe’s “voice of common sense, calling for the restoration of cooperation with Russia” in the face of terrorism — this being exactly what pro-Putin politicians in France like Marine Le Pen have called for — while asserting that nefarious U.S.-backed terrorism will have the opposite effect of pushing “Russia and Europe closer together in the face of common threats — terrorism and the hegemony of the United States.”

    That is a perfect explanation of Moscow’s strategic aim in Europe today, as has been evident for some time to anyone with open eyes, and now Kremlin mouthpieces are saying it openly. As someone who has repeatedly warned Europeans that their rising right-wing is being co-opted by Moscow against NATO and the West, it’s an unpleasant surprise when the Russians are this unsubtle about it. Clearly Putin is feeling confident despite Russia’s dire economic predicament. Watch Paris and Madame Le Pen for the next move.”

    (Note that nearly half of polled Russians blamed either the French government for allowing Charlie to exist or blamed Charlie itself http://www.rt.com/politics/226335-russian-charlie-hebdo-poll/)

    Here is Schindler from last year on the Kremlin being “hyperactive” in France: http://20committee.com/2014/08/02/putins-espionage-offensive-against-france/

  6. Thankfully Tariq Ali has spent the past fifty years having practically zero effect on anything or anyone, even on the far left. Most of the population has sensibly ignored or never heard of him.

    Russian funding for European far right parties is another matter, however. Unfortunately, the ‘anti-fascist’ left is mostly comprised of slavish thug-worshippers who have remained loyal to Russia as it’s swung from far left to far right. Putin could have a Swastika tattoed on his forehead and they would convince themselves that it was really a hammer and sickle.


    August 28, 2015 at 3:57 pm

  7. Interestingly the French Communist daily, L’ Humanité, carries a virulent attack on Sapir this Friday:

    La coupable attraction de Jacques Sapir pour le Front national.

    They are particular vexed with the comparison with the Resistance,

    “Jacques Sapir pousse la provocation jusqu’à invoquer pour son « front » l’exemple du Conseil national de la Résistance (CNR), qui rassemblait « des communistes aux militants de l’Action française » (AF). À cela près que le CNR – dans lequel l’AF, ralliée à Pétain, n’a jamais siégé, à la différence du PCF – unissait des sensibilités politiques diverses dont étaient précisément exclus les ancêtres idéologiques du FN, dans un but commun : chasser le fascisme, et appliquer un important programme démocratique, économique et social approuvé par ses composantes.”

    That is the CNR never involved the far-right (contrary to his claims) and excluded the ideological ancestors of the Front National: it was anti-fascist and pursued a democratic social and economic programme.


    Andrew Coates

    August 28, 2015 at 4:48 pm

  8. http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article35736
    S’allier au FN contre l’euro ? Sapir et le Front national, l’extrême jonction
    ALEMAGNA Lilian, ALBERTINI Dominique

    DÉCRYPTAGE. L’économiste « hétérodoxe » préconise une alliance des partis anti-euro, regroupant le Front de gauche et le Front national.

    Jim Monaghan

    August 29, 2015 at 8:45 pm

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