Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category
Who Else Will Join Labour MP Kate Hoey in Alliance with Tories and UKIP?
A new cross-party campaign for Britain to quit the European Union in the referendum due by the end of 2017 has been launched, with millionaire donors to the Conservatives, Labour and Ukip named as its treasurers.
Former Tory treasurer and banker Peter Cruddas, Labour donor and mail-order millionaire John Mills and spread betting tycoon Stuart Wheeler, who was a major donor to the Conservatives before becoming Ukip treasurer, are expected to give significant financial backing to the Vote Leave campaign.
Vote Leave has also signed up MPs from the Conservatives, Labour and Ukip, as well as prominent business people including another former Tory treasurer, the former Dixons chairman Lord Kalms, and former Channel 4 chairman Luke Johnson. Other prominent supporters include author Frederick Forsyth, Green Party peer Baroness (Jenny) Jones, historian Andrew Roberts and Nobel Peace Prize winner Lord Trimble.
More on the Guardian site.
Vote Leave, whose supporters include Labour’s Kate Hoey and UKIP’s Douglas Carswell, says it wants to negotiate a new deal based on free trade and friendly co-operation.
It is competing with a rival group, UKIP-backed Leave.EU, to be the official Out campaign in the referendum promised by the end of 2017.
It is not known what campaign ‘left’ supporters of an independent capitalist UK will launch, or whether they will follow Kate Hoey’s example and join up.
Perhaps No2EU, which scored an impressive score in the 2014 European election, of 31,757 votes or 0.2% of the total.
Our Belgian Comrades on the March.
The United front of Belgian Trades Unions (Christian union ACV (green colour), the socialist union ABVV (red) and the liberal ACLVB (blue) has announced that 100,000 marchers took part in a national demonstration against Austerity in Brussels yesterday (the Police estimate 81,000) (reports from Le Soir and En Belgique, une immense manifestation contre l’austérité. Le Monde.)
Members of the civil platform ‘Hart Boven Hard’ also participated in the protest.
The principal slogan of the unions was “Que des miettes pour nous ” – only crumbs for us. It symbolised the inequalities in the country.
Other slogans took up, in a humorous vein, this theme, mocking the – admittedly odd looking, – Federal Prime Minister Charles Michel,
Washing Powder Michel Guaranteed to shrink your spending power.
Mr Potato: He Reduces us to Mash.
The media spoke of the success of the event, which many expected to draw smaller crowds (Le défi de l’après-manif? Inclure la rue). There were some strikes in public bus services to accompany the protests.
There were a few violent clashes between protesters, some said to be anarchists, and the police.
Austerity for the trade unions means direct attacks on their membership.
Last year a series of “reforms”, ending indexing of salaries to the cost of living pushed back (meaning effectively wage cuts as they drop behind price rises) , pension age put back to 67 years, reform of early retirement plans and savings in public spending without any taxation of capital.
The march demanded improved purchasing power, a tax shift that includes a fair share of the burden for the rich, and job schemes to get the vulnerable groups in society at work (English language report here).
Little has appeared in the British media on this important protest.
Portugal’s governing centre-right coalition has won the country’s general election, which was widely seen as a referendum on four years of austerity.
Socialist leader Antonio Costa admitted defeat and congratulated Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho.
With almost all votes counted, the centre-right leads with just under 37%, with the Socialists on over 32%.
However, Mr Passos Coelho said his coalition appeared to have lost its absolute majority in parliament.
With 99 seats in the 230-seat parliament, the ruling coalition fell 17 seats short of the number it needed.
Mr Passos Coelho indicated that he was ready to talk to other parties in the next parliament to pursue the “necessary reforms” he wants to implement.
“Times haven’t been easy, and the times ahead will be challenging,” he said, promising to talk to the Socialists with the aim of maintaining a rigorous budget and a reduction in the public debt.
Parties to the left of the Socialists achieved their best-ever result, says the BBC’s Alison Roberts in Lisbon.
Left Bloc won 10% of the vote, securing 19 seats, while the Communists took 8% of the vote.
|Portugal Ahead (PSD / CDS–PP)[j]||1,979,132||36.83||11.0||124||99||25||43.81||11.1||1.19|
|Democratic Unity Coalition (Communists and Greens)||444,319||8.27||0.4||16||17||1||7.52||0.4||0.91|
|Workers’ Communist Party||59,812||1.11||0.1||0||0||0||0.00||0.0||0.0|
|FREE/Time to move Foward||38,958||0.72||N/A||N/A||0||N/A||0.00||N/A||0.0|
|National Renovator Party||27,104||0.50||0.2||0||0||0||0.00||0.0||0.0|
|Labour / Socialist Alternative ACT!||20,690||0.38||N/A||N/A||0||N/A||0.00||N/A||0.0|
|We, the Citizens!||18,695||0.35||N/A||N/A||0||N/A||0.00||N/A||0.0|
|Together for the People||14,196||0.26||N/A||N/A||0||N/A||0.00||N/A||0.0|
|United Party of Retirees and Pensioners||13,739||0.26||N/A||N/A||0||N/A||0.00||N/A||0.0|
|People’s / People’s Monarchist[m]||3,654||0.07||N/A||0||0||0||0.00||0.0||0.0|
|Christian Democratic and Citizenship||2,658||0.05||0.1||0||0||0||0.00||0.0||0.0|
The Bloco de Esquerda (Left bloc) made a breakthrough. It got 5,2% in the last election. Now it has 10.22%. It’s worth noting that some opinion polls had given them around 5%.
We are Europeans, but not Eurocentric: we want for Europe the same that we wish for the planet. We are Europeans, but not Eurocrats: we believe in democracy. We reject the standardization and lack of respect for the diversity that makes Europe. We are Left. Our opponents are not immigrants, minorities, poor, gays or unemployed, but those who promote austerity. We believe in solidarity, in facing the crisis together, in a Europe that restores hope.
“The Left Bloc (B.E.) was formed in March 1999 by the merger of the People’s Democratic Union (União Democrática Popular, UDP, communist), Revolutionary Socialist Party (Partido Socialista Revolucionário, PSR [ex-LCI], Trotskyist), and Politics XXI (Política XXI, PXXI, socialist). B.E. has had full party status since its founding, yet the constituent groups have maintained their existence as individual political associations, and retain some levels of autonomy, leading to a loose structure.” (Wikipedia)
I would correct Wikipedia on the details of this: the União Democrática Popular (UDP) are former marxist-leninists- that is, Maoists.
The Bloc had a very sharp internal debate last year:
After its ninth national convention, held in Lisbon on November 22-23, 2014, it really looked as if Portugal’s Left Bloc were in serious trouble—split right down the middle. And split not over insuperable differences of political perspective but over its leadership model and who, as national coordinator, should be its public face.
This was the first time in its 15-year existence that a Left Bloc convention had not produced a solid majority (usually around 80%). But this time Motion U (called “Unitary Motion under Construction—For a Citizen Revolt Against Austerity”, with outgoing co-coordinators Catarina Martins and João Semedo as lead signatories) was being challenged by Motion E. This motion was called “A Plural Bloc, Force for Turnaround” and was supported by the Bloc’s national parliamentary caucus leader Pedro Filipe Soares and founding member and MP Luis Fazenda.
Motion E put up Soares to replace Semedo and Martins as the Bloc’s national coordinator.
In the vote for the 80-seat National Board, the Bloc’s leadership body between conventions, Motions U and E both won 259 votes. As a result both obtained 34 seats, with the remaining positions being shared between two of the three other motions that had been submitted to the convention. These were Motion B (51 votes, 7 seats) and Motion R (32 votes and 4 seats).
In the vote on the motions themselves, Motion U won by a hair’s breadth from Motion E, by 266 votes to 258. Motions A (“A Left Response—For a Bloc that attends to the needs of people now!”), B (“Re-found the Bloc in the fight against austerity”) and R (“Reinvent the Bloc”) won 7, 34 and 30 votes respectively.
This overall result, due to some delegates switching from Motion B to Motion U for vote on the political line, raised the possibility that the incoming National Board, which elects the Left Bloc’s Political Committee and National Coordinator(s), would be deadlocked. The headlines read “Bloc ends convention without leaders” and “Left Bloc: leadership coming soon”.
Nonetheless, at the first meeting of the National Board, on November 30, a compromise was reached that won 90% backing and which no-one opposed: the 16-person Political Committee would reflect the proportions of support received at the convention (as required by a change to the statutes) and there would be a six-person Standing Committee (also with proportional representation) and a single national coordinator instead of the gender-balanced two-person coordination formula adopted at the previous National Convention (2012).
Portugal. Le Bloc de Gauche à la croisée des chemins gives more details on the stakes in the disputes.
As a result of these difficulties, which have continued this year, these elections were crucial for the Bloco’s future,
They finally adopted a detailed anti-austerity programme in July.
Despite the name they are not an alliance of separate parties but a party with different internal tendencies. There is individual membership. Unlike Podemos, to which they are often compared the Bloco has no single ‘charismatic’ leader, no internal structure biased towards the ruling group, and certainly has no ambition to be “beyond left and right”.
Their position on Europe is “la défense d’un européisme de gauche” – defending a left-wing Europeanism. That said, their main difference with the Socialist party is over the debt. The Bloco wants a renegotiation. If that fails they claim they are prepared to leave the Euro – a scenario whose probability has decreased it has to be said, after the failure of those in Syriza supporting such a perspective.
Another difference with, for example, the French Front de Gauche, is that the Portuguese Communist Party (Partido Comunista Português) is not part of the Bloco. They have their own alliance, the Coligação Democrática Unitária (Democratic Unity Coalition – see results above), with the Portuguese Green Party (Os Verdes) and the satellite left party, Intervenção Democrática. Their results improved by 0,4%.
Leaders of the Bloco note a continued sectarian – that is Stalinist – culture in the Communist Party. According to a leading Bloco member, Fernando Rosas, (Wikipedia – in English) the main problem with them is that try to control every political initiative they are associated with.
On their views see the important interview with Fernando Rosas : « La gauche radicale portugaise est l’une des plus fortes en Europe » Dirigeant national du Bloc de gauche, Fernando Rosas analyse la situation politique du Portugal et expose les positions de son parti sur les alliances électorales, la lutte contre l’austérité et la sortie de l’euro. (30th July).
The loss of the rightwing majority and the rise of the Left Bloc Monday 5 October 2015, by
The Portuguese right wing coalition has lost its absolute majority in parliament, but remains the main political force in Sunday’s election. The Left Bloc made a spectacular comeback with the best result ever, almost doubling its voters and more than doubling the number of elected MPs.
This result was built mostly on the performance of the new Left Bloc leadership after the November 2014 national convention of the party. The spokeswoman Catarina Martins had a widely-applauded victory in every face-to-face tv debate with the prime-minister, the vice-prime-minister and the SP leader and gathered the biggest popular support on street campaign in all Left Bloc’s history. The electoral result confirmed this warm reception on the streets in every corner of the country for the last two months. And the two parties that were formed by dissidents of the Bloc with widespread media coverage (Livre and Agir) were now doomed to political irrelevance, obtaining 0.72% and 0.38% respectively. The only small party to enter the Parliament is PAN, which has an animal rights agenda and it is ready to support any government.
FN Appeals to Left Sovereigntist Intellectuals.
At the end of September the Front National launched an appeal to “left-wing intellectuals” meeting at the Mutualité (home of large public meetings, roughly a version as the Friends Meeting House in London) held by the weekly, Marianne. Around the philosopher Michel Onfray, Régis Debray, Alain Finkielkraut, Jean-François Kahn Jean-Pierre Chevènement are to speak.
Under the name of Bertrand Dutheil de La Rochère, the Front National launched, on the 24th of September, an appeal to these people (More details of the background: Le FN lance un appel à “Michel Onfray et ses soutiens”)
Your meeting of 20 October 2015 could be more than an amiable and friendly get together. It could become one of those crucial dates in the history of France. It could be the prelude to the union of the people of France. It is up to you to decide to open an inclusive discussion between all patriots, all Republicans, all sovereignists. Of course, the self-righteous will deliver anathemas and excommunications. It will be for us to despise the prohibitions laid down by the media-political caste.
The basis of this appeal is on “sovereignty” – that is the defence of the French nation’s power, through its own political institutions to make ‘its’ own decisions.
On this ground there should be, the FN asserts, some degree of common thinking.
The call is for a “une discussion entre tous les patriotes, tous les républicains, tous les souverainistes, sans exclusive.”
Open debate between all patriots, all republicans, all sovereigntists, with no exclusions.
As La Rochère says
Vous dénoncerez la trahison de tous ces partis qui se réclament encore de la gauche. Ils ont choisi la mondialisation ultra libérale au nom de l’Europe. Ils confondent désormais l’internationalisme avec les migrations massives qui pèsent sur les salaires et qui démantèlent la protection sociale. Ils ont oublié d’où vient l’insulte « jaune » que proféraient autrefois les syndicalistes ouvriers contre les briseurs de grève.
You will denounce the treason of the parties who still claim to be on the left. They have chosen ultra-liberal globalisation in the name of Europe. They have confused internationalism with the massive migrations which weigh on the wage earners and which erode social legislation. They forget the origin of the insult “jaune” (yellow) which trade unions used to throw at strike breakers.
I am at a loss here.
One theory is that Jaune comes from a strike of 1899 at Montceau-les-Mines (Saône-et-Loire) used against a small group of miners, who refused to join in. The strikers smashed the windows of their meeting place, le Café de la mairie. The windows were replaced with yellow paper. Another theory is that comes from the dye colour (sulfur) of strike breakers at another disputes in 1970.
I would however bet, with the degree of possibility bordering on certainty, that the Front National meant……Chinese…..
There has been a great deal of debate about this appeal.
Those addressed have rejected the idea that they should engage actively with the FN.
Nevertheless it’s not hard to see that Régis Debray’s essay Éloge des frontières (2011), to cite one example (his writings on the Nation go back to the 1980s), indicates at least some meeting points on nationalism and the fear of cosmopolitanism and not only globalisation. Alain Finkielkraut signed the petition this year Touche pas à mon église – a protest against turning churches into Mosques, in actual fact a phenomenon confined to a handful of buildings – with strong echoes of Maurice Barrès’s defence of “la terre et les morts.” Chevènement has developed a patriotism and a paranoia about the Euro. He has come a long away (as has Debray) from his left-wing days in the 1970s. Jean-François Kahn who founded Marianne has preferred to accuse the liberal supporters of globalisation ignoring the social issues that have given rise to the FN, and distance himself from any complicity with either the FN (Qui fait le jeu du Front national ?) In short, Kahn would say that excluding the far-right from the national debate is not the way to deal with Marine Le Pen……
Michel Onfray – a home-spun philosopher, known in the anglophone world as an atheist, a hedonist (in the classical sense) but also a libertarian leftist, if not anarchist – has given a greater variety of contradictory responses than Bernard Henri-Lévy on a bad day.
Having read Onfray’s Traité d’Athéologie (2005), which offers a clear attack on the use of religion in politics, from Catholicism to Islamism, I can only contrast it with the utter confusion of his more recent tomes assembled under the name of La contre histoire de la philosophie (2006 onwards), which barely bear skimming.
The latest in the Onfray saga is in the Nouvel Observateur this week: Onfray : “Mon problème, c’est ceux qui rendent Marine Le Pen possible”
Last week a local councillor, François Meunier, Antony (Hauts-de-Seine) left the Front de Gauche and joined the Front National.
Of more importance was the turn in August of the economist, Jacques Sapir, from the Front de gauche to the Front National. Sapir is a sovereigntist. He has called for left-right unity around opposition to the Euro – a call perhaps not without echoes in the United Kingdom (Quand un économiste souverainiste “de gauche” drague le Front National.)
It is important to underline that it is this issue of the ‘Nation’ as the ground of the Republic which acts as a meeting point between ‘left’ and far-Right. That is not ‘migration’ as such, not race, and certainly not Laïcité.
On the racial issue a more traditional alignment between Right and Extreme-Right has taken place in the last week when one of Sarkozy’s politicians, Nadine Morano, was removed from a regional election for asserting that France is a country of the “white race”.
Perhaps most significant is the way the Front National has entered the intellectual arena.
This was confirmed a couple days in way that drew the attention of the Financial Times.
France’s National Front (FN), long a pariah on leading university campuses, has secured the right to create a political group at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po), underlining the resurgent far-right party’s willingness to enter the circles of the French elite.
The newly formed group quickly obtained the 120 votes required to gain validation from the prestigious institute during a four-day “recognition” process of all student associations.
It will co-exist with other political groups, including the Socialist party, the centre-right Republicans party and the far-left Front de Gauche.
“The National Front has made a deafening entry at Sciences Po,” tweeted Marine Le Pen, the party’s leader.
The creation of an FN-linked organisation at Sciences Po, a school whose students traditionally lean to the left and whose alumni include the last five French presidents, reflects Ms Le Pen’s desire to become more mainstream. By doing so, she is breaking from her father and FN founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, who positioned the party as an outsider on the fringes of French politics.
We can’t, not yet….
This morning the Spanish radio was full of the fall-out, and the ‘fractures’, resulting from the results of the Catalan elections.
- The pro-independence front loses the referendum. The anti-independence forces account for 52 percent, compared to the secessionist bloc’s 47 percent. It’s inconceivable that with these results, once the the cava wine bubbles evaporate, any serious politician (in Catalonia) will propose a unilateral declaration of independence. That would be undemocratic. But it’s the first time that the option to secede takes such flight: more than 1.9 million votes is a cry that no serious politician (in Madrid) can ignore.
- In the polls, Ciudadanos breaks the roof: it tripled the results of the previous elections and, with 25 seats, stole the spotlight. The Sorpasso (overtaking) of the People’s Party (PP) in Catalonia is a warning: will this happen again in the general elections in December? We will never know what result Albert Rivera would have achieved if he had been the candidate of the Generalitat, the Catalan government; but being the second force in Catalonia gives wings to his aspirations to get to the Moncloa Palace.
- The PP is increasingly irrelevant in Catalonia: it lost 10 seats, including Badalona — where Xavier García Albiol was mayor — which went to Junts pel Sí. It’s a real slap in the face for the party and its campaign strategy. Today, there is a cold wind in Moncloa and Genoa street: Rajoy is proving to be incapable of facing the challenges in Catalonia.
- After a spectacular gain (from 3 to 10 seats), CUP now has the key to governance in Catalonia. If it fulfills its promise of not voting for Artur Mas as president, Junts pel Sí will be forced to come to an agreement on another candidate… and internal battle is guaranteed.
- Podemos loses momentum: ICV alone got more seats (13) than the new coalition. The 10 deputies Podemos got in the parliament is very far from what it had hoped for. Does it mean that its success in the past municipal elections — Barcelona, Madrid, Cadiz, Zaragoza — was the zenith of its political career? (NOTE: it went up to 11)
- The socialists are still alive. Maintaining almost the same numbe
- When 77 percent of Catalan citizens vote, the message is strong and clear. The pro-independence front, which brings together Junts pel Sí (Together for Yes) and the CUP (Popular Unity Candidacy) party, earned a clear majority in the Catalan parliament, winning 72 seats. It now has the legitimacy and strength, said Artur Mas, to keep pursuing its dream of secession.
- r of votes as in the last Catalan elections — after the internal bleeding and the appearance of new parties that contest their ideological territory — justifies Miquel Iceta’s sigh of relief, despite having lost four seats. And those half a million Catalan votes are worth their weight in gold in Pedro Sanchez’s race toward the Moncloa Palace.
Together for Yes (JxSí)[b][c] 1,620,973 39.54 Increase3.11 62 Increase4
Citizens-Party of the Citizenry (C’s) 734,910 17.93 Increase10.36 25 Increase16
Socialists’ Party of Catalonia (PSC-PSOE) 522,209 12.74 Decrease1.69 16 Decrease4
Catalonia Yes we Can (CSQEP)[d] 366,494 8.94 Decrease0.96 11 Decrease2
People’s Party of Catalonia (PPC) 348,444 8.50 Decrease4.48 11 Decrease8
Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) 336,375 8.20 Increase4.72 10 Increase7
Democratic Union of Catalonia (UDC)[c] 102,870 2.51 Decrease5.47 0 Decrease13
Animalist Party Against Mistreatment of Animals (PACMA) 29,785 0.73 Increase0.16 0 ±0
Zero Cuts-The Greens (Recortes Cero-Els Verds) 14,390 0.35 Increase0.28 0 ±0
Let’s Win Catalonia (Ganemos) 1,158 0.03 New 0 ±0
Pirates of Catalonia-To Decide Everything (Pirata.cat/XDT) 326 0.01 Decrease0.49 0 ±0
El País commented,
Pablo Iglesias ha construido alrededor de Podemos una épica de partido ganador que ayer, tras lograr en las elecciones catalanas un resultado que sus propios dirigentes consideran decepcionante, sufrió el mayor revés desde su nacimiento.
Pablo Iglesias has built around Podemos an epic in which they are the winning party. But yesterday, after the results of the Catalan elections, which their own leaders considered disappointing , the party suffered the biggest setback since its birth.
We should observe that Podemos (link to their site here) did not go it alone this time. Inside Catalunya Sí que es Pot (CSQEP) they were allied with Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds (Red Greens), and Esquerra Unida i Alternativa, (the more directly linked to the left bloc, Izquirda Unida).
This in itself is a step forward for a group that appeared to wish to ‘go it alone’ to the extent of organising, its own demonstrations against austerity rather than create united fronts.
What are the consequences of this poor result – not to mention their eclipse by a right-of-centre populist party, Ciudadanos ? *
Iglesias has announced today (Iglesias ofrece un referéndum catalán en el que pediría el ‘no’) that if Podemos wins the nation-wide general election he will offer a proper referendum to the Catalans, in which his party will campaign against the separatists and for a multinational and pluralist Spain.
Inside Podemos some have criticised the alliances that they made in Catalan with left-wing and Green forces, declaring that people did not understand the “alphabet soup” (CSQEP) that resulted on the ballot paper.
It will be interesting to follow further developments.
“..populism requires the division of society into two camps – one presenting itself as a part which claims to be the whole; that this dichotomy involves the antagonistic division of the social field, and that the popular camp presupposes as a conditions of its constitution the constriction of a globalised entity out of the equivalence of a plurality of social demands.” (Page 83. On Populist Reason. Ernesto Laclau. 2005)
Enthusiasm for Podemos on the European Left, including Britain, was until recently widespread. It was accepted that the party had managed the difficult feat of giving a political voice to the indignados movement. That it has built a ‘populist’ constituency through language and demands that welded together the 99% against the 1%. That it used the (in Laclau’s words) ‘floating signifiers’ of the ‘people’ (crushing majority) against the Spanish ‘casta’ and had created a democratic organisation capable of challenging the rule of finance and the dominance of economic austerity. It is new, it uses the Net, it encourages direct communication not tired old bureaucratic structures, or divisions between the historical left and right.
This could be tied into the argument offered by Paul Mason in Postcapitalism ( 2015). That, “By creating, millions of networked people, finally exploited but with the whole of human intelligence one thumb-swipe away, info-capitalism has created a new agent of change in history: the educated and connected human beings.”
Mason also asserts that, “In Europe, repressing policing and a untied front of all parties in favour of austerity beat the indignados into a sullen silence. But the results showed that revolution in a highly complex, information-driven society would look very different from the revolutions of the twentieth century. Without a strong, organised working class to push social issues rapidly to the fore, the revolts often stall. But order is never fully restored.” (Page xviii)
But in general enthusiasm for new groups like Podemos, with no visible links to the workers’ movement, is widespread. There is a constant search for new political agencies to replace the ‘old’ left and labour movement. In Mason’s case, despite his own above warning, this went so far as to make this extraordinary claim, “Scotland, “presented with the opportunity to break with a neoliberal state and start afresh, millions of young people said, ‘Yes’ “(Page xix)
There is little doubt that there is a great deal of political fluidity in Europe today. Movements to break up existing states, often from the wealthiest regions of a country (as in Catalonia or in Italy with the Lega Nord) tired of paying for poor and apparently lazy ‘southerners’ , appear part of this process. The strong showing of the Catalan sovereigntists was welcomed by forces from the Scottish National Party, promoting the interests of their ‘ain folk’ against ‘Westminster, the hard-right Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie (Belgium), who dislike the former industrial French speaking and Socialist voting Walloon, and some leftists – the latter apparently convinced that Barcelona tax-payers are right not to want to subsidise their feckless compatriots.
Podemos may, or may not, be capable of offering what Mason (in the most significant part of Postcapitalism) calls “revolutionary reformism”. Mason’s list of ideas, a third managerial revolution, switching off the neoliberal privatisation machine, suppressing or socialising monopolies is attractive. But everything depends on a political vehicle to implement them in a recognisably effective form.
That is, the need a political forces capable of reaching and transforming existing political institutions. They have to connect ‘giving voice’ to protests, social interests (not least the labour movement) and being capable of administering solutions. They need parties.
In the case of Podemos this, which Ernesto Laclau called the “moment of articulation” – that is the details of how political parties operate – is becoming unstuck. No doubt the ripple effect of the defeat of Syriza’s anti-austerity programme counts for much in their present impasse. They may have woven ‘floating signifiers’ together, but what anchors them?
Podemos’ vaunted horizontal democracy (apparently giving shape to Mason’s ‘networks’) is paralleled by an internal structure, built as a pyramid around a leader. This is deeply problematic and pretty much casts its claims to novelty to the dustbin. Iglesias has as El País indicates, a self-defined “epic” in which he will valiantly take on the Spanish ‘casta’. Like a figure in the Game of Thrones (a box set of which he generously donated to the Spanish King Felipe VI) he is surrounded by intrigue. He finds it hard to work collaboratively. Forced to accept alliances with other forces, like the Green Equo and the long-standing Izquirda Unida, he has the ill-grace to refuse to take any joint responsibility, in the political battles.
Now that it is clear that Podemos has not the remotest chance of forming a future government in the Cortes Generales it will be of interest to see how his authority is maintained.
* Ideologically, C’s describes itself as a progressive, secular, constitutionalist, European federalist and postnationalist party. In addition, Albert Rivera has said that C’s defends autonomism. According to its declared identity signs, C’s advocates four basic lines of action: Defence of individual rights. Defence of social rights as well as the welfare state. Uphold the State of Autonomies and Europe’s unity. Regeneration of democracy and of political life. Wikipedia.
Emmanuel Todd: Loathes Charlie Hebdo, Now Warns of European ‘Suicide’.
The Guardian loves France.
The France of a Year in Provence, and now, the film of Posy Simmond’s Gemma Bovray.
The Guardian hates France.
The France of secularism, of a left that is for ever rubbing the liberal warm feelings of the majority of its eceumentical readership.
The Guardian has an ignoble history of printing violent attacks on the secularist satirists of Charlie Hebdo.
After the murders at the Weekly, and at the Hyper Cacher Seamus Milne, former Comments Editor at the paper, stated of its cartoons, “This wasn’t just “depictions” of the prophet, but repeated pornographic humiliation.” Milne put the blame for the attacks down to Western policy in the Middle East and the ‘war on terror’ – no doubt a serious warning to Bangladesh to cease its imperialist ambitions there if it wants to end the slaughter of secularist bloggers.
Now they have found Emmanuel Todd to stand as proxies for their campaign against the militant leftist secularist Charlie.
The printed article below contains a reference to Todd’s La Chute finale (1976), a study which predicted that the Soviet Union would decompose. He has been living off the reputation it gave him as a seer since 1989. Indeed (this is unlikely to be a coincidence) le Monde gave the book a favourable mention a few weeks ago (Emmanuel Todd, la fin de l’étoile rouge).
He is a ‘demographer’. Todd’s central theme is that changes in family structures (nuclear, extended) are related to economic and political change. His most famous claim is that “nuclear” families are the oldest form. We not competent in this field, but one be assured that his ideas are not ‘universally’ accepted.
Todd is the kind of French essayist, or polemicist, who churns out a yearly book on a “controversial” subject every year. Less repetitive than Régis Debray, but always, always, contrarian.
InL’Illusion économique : Essai sur la stagnation des sociétés développées, 1998. Todd advocated “Intelligent protectionism”.
Après l’empire : Essai sur la décomposition du système américain, (2002) is an extended essay on the title.
This recent statement (11.7.2015) should give pause for thought to those on the left, or to liberals, rushing to adopt Todd’s views on Charlie Hebdo,
Europe is “contrôlée par l’Allemagne et par ses satellites baltes, polonais, etc” et qu’elle est “devenue un système hiérarchique, autoritaire”. “On est en train sans doute d’assister à la troisième autodestruction de l’Europe”, estime-t-il, rappelant les précédentes : “Il y a d’abord eu la guerre de 14, puis la deuxième guerre mondiale.” Il en conclut que “l’Europe est un continent qui, au XXe siècle, de façon cyclique, se suicide sous direction allemande.”
Europe is controlled by Germany and its Baltic and Polish (etc) satellites” and it has “become an authoritarian and hierarchical system. ” “we are without doubt witnessing the third self-destruction of Europe, “he asserted, referring to the historical precedents, “First there was the 1914 war, then the second world war.” He concluded, “Europe is a continent which, in the 20th century committed suicide under German leadership.”
This year Todd published a book, and articles, attacking the massive wave of solidarity, mass demonstrations and commemorations for Charlie and the victims of the Hyper Cacher.
Now we have this in English.
The article’s main theme is this: “The street demonstrations were the self-glorification of the French middle class. That made me explode.”
With customary modesty he begins with,
…what he called his own “magnificently crafted Exocet missile” at the nation, with a book arguing that the street rallies were a giant lie.
This is the missile:
The rallies, he argued, were not what they claimed to be – an admirable coming-together of people from different ethnic, religious and social backgrounds standing up for tolerance – but an odious display of middle-class domination, prejudice and Islamophobia. To Todd, they represented “a sudden glimpse of totalitarianism”. These “sham” demonstrations, he claimed, were made up of a one-sided elite who wanted to spit on Islam, the religion of a weak minority in France. The working class and the children of immigrants had been notably absent, he said. The most enthusiastic demonstrations, he decided, had occurred in the country’s most historically Catholic and reactionary regions, an affirmation of the middle class’s moral superiority and domination, and their Islamophobic quest for a scapegoat.
Todd’s central argument is that there are fundamentally two Frances. There is a “central” France, including Paris and Marseille and the Mediterranean, where there is equality on the family level and a deep-rooted attachment to secular values of the French revolution and the republic. Then there is a France of the periphery, for example, the west or cities such as Lyon, which has stayed true to the old Catholic bedrock, where people may no longer be practising Catholics, but they’re still infused with all the social conservatism of that Catholicism, its hierarchies and inequality. He calls this “zombie Catholicism”. Infuriating his critics, Todd maintains that the post-attack rallies represented zombie Catholicism on the march.
The pro-Charlie Bloc (bloc MAZ, Middle class, Aged and Zombies) is given a fuller analysis in French (oddly….discussion of two parts of it are missing in the Guardian article – although written by a respected French journalist).
Its ideology is:
- « européiste », par son soutien à Maastricht en 1992 et à la Constitution européenne de 2005 ; Pro-European, backing the Maastricht Treaty and the European constitution,
- islamophobe, au vu de la diffusion d’une « obsession de l’Islam » dans la presse papier, du succès des livres d’Éric Zemmour et de la relégation des attentats de l’hypercacher au second plan du mouvement des « Je suis Charlie » Islamophobic, related to the racist rantings of Zemmour who wants to expel all Muslims from Europe.
- germanophile, par sa défense du « modèle allemand » que la France devrait imiter à tout prix. Germanophile, defending the German model, which they want France to defend at any cost.
It would be interesting to know how he found statistical evidence for the Je Suis Charlie marchers’ support – or even readership – of Zemmour.
Readers of the introduction above will note that Todd is, by pure coincidence, anti-European and something of a Germanophobe.
The statistics he used to bolster this analysis have been rigorously unpicked.
Joliveau questions, rightly, if you built a picture of the sociology mass demonstrations of public concern by aligning them to their geographical origin. Can one find evidence of this, “mystérieux indicateur de zombitude catholique” and transfer this to those who turned up on rallies? Nothing is less certain. The tie with Catholicism is even less clear. he notes, “Une légère sur-participation à la manifestation dans les villes de tradition catholique semble confirmée mais il est moins justifié par un traitement statistique que par une typologie du recul du christianisme que Todd sort un peu de son chapeau.” there is a slight over-representation of demos in Towns and Cities with a Catholic tradition appears confirmed, but is less justified by a statistical alignment with the retreat of Catholicism, which Todd has rather pulled out of his hat.
Joliveau also points out, by way of how you can shape statistics, in this lengthy and detailed examination, that you can equally draw a correlation between the areas where there were fewer demonstrations and zones where there are high numbers of low paid, unqualified and unemployed people, and supporters of the Front National.
What is clear is that there was a link between those with higher education and support for Charlie on the marches (les diplômés de l’enseignement supérieur court ou long).
There is a little doubt that there are a lot of (self-evident) indications this is true.
Is Todd saying that educated people – that is by definition those likely to read left-wing satirical magazines and are concerned about issues such as freedom of expression and (not the least!) defend a hard-line secularist weekly– are ‘Catholic zombies”.
That the scores of immigrant associations who backed the protests are all ‘Islamophobes’ is less certain.
The idea is so incoherent that it is barely worth considering.
His theory is that the rise in Islamophobia is in turn stoking anti semitism in run-down suburbs, and that anti semitism is growing in the middle class.
Presumably the same middle class that worshiped Charlie…..
We stood up, with millions across the world, for Charlie with every fibre of our being.
Todd can dislike the vulgar and 68er Charlie as much as he like.
He can engage in Anglo-American language about being careful not to offend religious sensitiveness.
As Joliveau says, the support was a “Symbole non d’un collectif, mais d’un rassemblement d’individus ayant chacun leur propre raison d’être là avec les autres.”
We all had our own reasons to show our sorrow, our internationalism, our solidarity and our love.
We are certainly not anti-Euro, protectionist nationalists like Todd.
We are not surprised that Polity Press is publishing a translation of this book.
Unlike pro-Charlie writings, (see the Tendance’s review of Charb’s pamphlet), it will not doubt be on university courses.
Note: this is another demolition of Todd’s statistics: Un esprit de système caricatural Les catégorisations opérées par Emmanuel Todd et son déterminisme sociologique sont discutables.