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