Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

French Communist Party ‘Cadres’ Say “Non” to Backing Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Presidential Candidacy.

with 10 comments


The Era of the People: Without the PCF? 

Le Parti communiste dit non à Jean-Luc Mélenchon reports Libération.

The hard choice before the assembled ‘cadres’ of the French Communist Party, (PCF) at their National Conference, was between Jean- Luc Mélenchon or a Communist . Pierre Laurent, PCF National Secretary voted for the first option. André Chassaigne, MP and potential presidential candidate, backed the second. The 535 delegates, mandated by their PCF federations, cast their ballots 55, 7% for the ‘internal candidate”. The final decision will be put to the whole membership at the end of November.

The defeat of the PCF leadership’s recommendation is extremely unusual.

But hostility to the leader of the Parti de gauche and owner of his supporters’ ‘movement’, La France Insoumise, ran high. ” Some present declared, “je ne soutiendrai jamais Mélenchon»«je n’aime pas la France Insoumise».”, I will never support Mélenchon” or “I don’t like La France Insoumise”. Those who backed voting for him argued that it was “political choice” (that is, there being no other candidate to the left of the Socialists who is visible in opinion polls). To which one delegate replied, “Le refus de soutenir de Jean-Luc est dû à son glissement au niveau des idées, pas sur sa personne. Le cœur du parti n’est pas d’accord avec son positionnement politique.” Refusing to support Jean-Luc is due to his shift in his ideas, not about the individual. The heart of the Party is not in agreement with his political position.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who refuses to meet Pierre Laurent, has made a show of ignoring this decision.

The same story lead the morning news bulletin on France-Inter this morning (Le PCF ne soutiendra pas Jean-Luc Mélenchon).

From the outside one can observe that there are plenty of people around who certainly do not like the Man of Destiny, as an individual, a politician, as well as heartily disagreeing with his present politics.

A review by Raphaëlle Besse Desmoulières of Mélenchon’s newly published le Choix de l’insoumission in Le Monde (31. 10.16)  is a useful introduction to how many on the left feel about the self-proclaimed Presidential candidate.

Desmoulières describes Mélenchon’s background in the ‘Lambertist’ Trotskyist Organisation communiste internationaliste – a big black mark to start with. The leader of La France Insoumise expressed adulation of Francois Mitterrand, described as a “guide” and Le Vieux’ (a term normally used in these circles for….Trotsky) , and his uncritical enthusiasm for Venezuela’s leader Hugo Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution. It mentions that Mélenchon remains a Freemason (the lambertist leader Pierre Boussel, generally known by his ‘party name’  Pierre Lambert was staunch Freemason)

These aspects of  Mélenchon are not universally admired.

This is La France Insoumise’s ‘Projet’ which gives further reasons not to admire him.

It begins with the words, ” l’ère du peuple” “doit commencer ” – the era of the people must begin. This “citizens’ revolution” must overthrow the ” l’oligarchie financière et de la caste” – the financial oligarchy and the elite (caste, directly borrowed from Podemos, has as little resonance in French as it does in English).

It  promises to share the wealth of the country, to  transform the taxation system, and “Protégeons de la finance les salariés et la production en France. ” Protect wage-earners and production in France (my emphasis)  from Finance”.

It proposes “ecological planning”.

The ‘project’ proposes to leave European Treaties that impose on us ( nous) austerity, and the affirmation of “la souveraineté” against the decisions of the EU Commission.

We (nous) must be freed from following “des folies impériales des États-Unis et de leur outil de tutelle militaire : l’OTAN” the imperialist follies of the USA and their tool of military subordination, NATO. Our (Notre) anchor must be with the Mediterranean peoples and the Francophone countries of Africa. 

There are words about “progrès humains” (human progress) and “autres modèles de vie ” (other models for living).

Anybody who has got this far is in for a treat: the conclusion,

Je connais aussi la force d’entrainement des grands enthousiasmes collectifs. La France est le deuxième territoire maritime du monde, et la deuxième nation pour la cotisation individuelle à la conquête de l’espace ! Voilà qui fait de nous un peuple qui a une responsabilité particulière, enthousiasmante, aux frontières de l’humanité ! Ici se trouvent deux immenses gisements d’emplois, d’inventions et de progrès écologiques pour la France et la civilisation humaine.

I also know the power that great collective enthusiasm can bring in its wake. France is the second largest maritime territory in the world, the second nation, per individual contribution, in the conquest of space! This has made of us a people with a special responsibility,  enthusiastic, at the  cutting edge of  humanity (1). Here one can find two massive sources of employment, inventions, and ecological progress, for France and for human civilisation.

(1) I justify this somewhat free, though equally lyrical,  translation by reference to the text linked to, “Comment porter la France aux avant-postes de l’Humanité ?

The programme of La France Insoumise is clearly ‘populist’. Whether it is ‘left’ is up for the ‘people’ to judge.

Le Projet focuses on an ‘elite’, a fusion between finance, politicians – in  short, ‘them’. It has no reference to class struggle arising in production and distribution. It rests on a picture of a world in which exploitation and bad social conditions are the result of malevolent decisions by this upper crust, and foreigners, beginning with the EU, and extending, O so extending, to the US. Once rid of that lot, and “we”, the “special” people of France, will no doubt colonise the Moon…

A more comprehensive demolition of this approach, which begins with the basis of a new movement to answer the crisis of the “party-form”, extends to the dropping of the working class as a reference and its replacement by the ‘people’ and ends with the personalisation of the France Insoumise project around the Leader (“la nécessité d’une incarnation personnelle du processus) si given by   Samy Johsua in « L’ère du peuple » et « l’adieu au prolétariat » ?

All I can say after that is, yuk!

In Le Monde today Election présidentielle : la Conférence nationale du PCF refuse de se rallier à Jean-Luc Mélenchon continues the saga.

After outlining the above vote, Desmoulières speculates that the PCF may support the Socialist candidacy of Arnaud Montebourg, a contender in the PS’s ‘primary’ selection process to designate their own candidate. Above all he notes that this decision marks a definitive divorce between the PCF and  Mélenchon.

Some might say, echoing the PCF delegates, from the outside, about time!


Written by Andrew Coates

November 6, 2016 at 12:42 pm

10 Responses

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  1. It has to be said also that Mélenchon was part of a municipal team condemned for corruption. He was not tried for corruption because at the last minute he distanced himself from the local mayor, Claude Germon, of Massy a banlieue in the South of Paris although he knew his practices and politically benefitted from them even he did not receive personally any money. He was an admirer of Serge Dassault an entrepreneur and senator whom he welcomed at the Senate, Dassault being a major weapon and military planes seller of the French industrial military complex (auche.blog.lemonde.fr/2012/01/23/ladmiration-de-melenchon-pour-dassault-ce-grand-industriel/) . He benefits from his pay of MEP without participating actively to the EP (he uses all sorts of tricks to keep his wage without being very active) http://www.lemonde.fr/les-decodeurs/article/2014/04/16/les-astuces-de-m-melenchon-pour-paraitre-assidu-au-parlement-europeen_4402075_4355770.html)
    This is the idol of part of the Left including some trotskyists…..

    Yves Coleman

    November 6, 2016 at 3:10 pm

  2. http://www.lexpress.fr/actualite/politique/l-affaire-qui-poursuit-le-ps_491459.html
    Another article which details the corruption system of the Socialist Party, its links with many capitalists who funded the Party in a hidden way to facilitate their businesses. And during all these years Mélenchon shut up and did not say a word. So therefore he cant be trusted..

    Yves Coleman

    November 6, 2016 at 3:27 pm

  3. Thanks Yves: it is a particularly blatant example, since he is he first to denounce the ‘caste’ of professional politicians out for themselves.

    His ‘party’ the Parti de Gauche was/is a ‘club’ around him and his close mates, not a real democratic organisation, and as for his present ‘rally’ la France Insoumise…

    You wonder about their sources of cash too.

    Idealising Mitterrand is well known but Dassault (I taught people who worked for him….).

    How I recall his dad’s the Café du commerce in Points de Vue.

    Andrew Coates

    November 6, 2016 at 4:49 pm

  4. Speculation suggesting the decision may be put back further in the hope of a Montebourg victory in the ‘primary’. Myself I am surprised at Laurent recommending JLM considering the latters behavior towards him personally . The ‘primaire à gauche’ referred to is confusing as surely it is only the remaining government ‘left’ . Its like watching a soap

    Greg Timony

    November 6, 2016 at 5:58 pm

  5. Humiliating for Pierr Laurent. Ignored by JPM and his position rejected by the national council creating a new majority of party-minded and Marxist Leninist elements that could spell the end for the europhile tendency. It is highly likely that a proposal to tie the PCF to any of the PS figures would be opposed.

    Nick Wright

    November 6, 2016 at 7:01 pm

  6. Well Nick, they have only to follow the Communist Party of Britain, become a Sealed-Knot re-enactment society, and their future will indeed be bright.

    Personally I agree with Greg, his personal behaviour is not just bad towards Laurent but pretty disgusting generally – calling people ‘connards’ to start with.

    Andrew Coates

    November 7, 2016 at 12:04 pm

  7. PCF statement by Pierre Laurent,

    “La déclaration solitaire de candidature, la création d’un mouvement dont il tente d’imposer les règles à tous les anciens partenaires du Front de gauche, sans succès… Ce ne sont pas des actes qui ont favorisé le rassemblement. Mais, je le répète, le débat n’est pas clos », a constaté Pierre Laurent à l’issue des débats. Pour ceux qui ont plaidé en faveur d’un soutien à Jean-Luc Mélenchon, samedi, il est cependant possible de faire entendre la voix du PCF.”

    In other words, the call of Destiny to Mélenchon and the fact that he runs the show as a would-be charismatic leader, was not welcomed by the PCF but some think that they can still make their voices heard by backing his bandwagon.

    On France-Inter this morning it was suggested that Mélenchon may beat the Socialist candidate: but in any case nobody at all thinks he is going to get into the second round let alone win.

    There is a lot more detail in this link but that’s the gist.


    Analysis on Ensemble site: Communistes français : face à leur destin.

    It’s axed on the difficulties and limits of the PCF’s strategies to continue to be a serious political force faced with La France Insoumise.


    Andrew Coates

    November 7, 2016 at 12:52 pm

  8. Would be interested in hearing your take on Arnaud Montebourg and Hollande’s administration.


    November 7, 2016 at 7:05 pm

  9. The writer above Roger Martelli ( https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Martelli ) is a former CP bigwig and critic of populism but again he appears to be advocating a tactical vote for Melenchon as the seen to be most left ‘Pour une grande part de l’opinion, il est le plus à gauche …’ https://www.ensemble-fdg.org/content/2017-une-revolution-pour-le-vote-utile-gauche

    Greg Timony

    November 7, 2016 at 7:41 pm

  10. Thanks for the comment on Roger Martelli Greg.

    It is their choice, but from the outside Mélenchon looks like he’s following Laclau and Mouffe’s worst side.

    Having read the Chantal Mouffe and Íñigo Errejón’s book on Podemos, I checked over the weekend on the passage about the need for ‘leaders’ (it’s there in Ernesto Laclua’s Populism as well), and the way ‘populist’ campaigns should be built, and it seems to me that he is using this as a manual rather like demagogic politicians used Le Bon’s The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind – Psychologie des Foules, 1895.

    The Mouffe/Errejón book was originally in Spanish, as Construir Pueblo .

    Mélenchon is a fluent Spanish speaker who has debated with Laclau and Mouffe in the past,

    Populisme et hégémonies culturelles : débat Laclau-Mouffe-Mélenchon (2012)


    Hollande has done very little in the way of progressive legislation,apart from le mariage pour tous, gay marriage, (2013:http://www.gouvernement.fr/action/le-mariage-pour-tou), he gave Valls headway in passing the labour code ‘reform’, and has basically ‘exercised power without using it to achieve anything worthwhile.

    He is Monsieur Flamby.

    Andrew Coates

    November 8, 2016 at 1:12 pm

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