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Anti-Internationalist ‘Lexit’ Factionalists in Labour Manoeuvre to back Brexit

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Morning Star and its allies in Momentum leading Factionalist Fight in Labour Party.

Factionalists opposed to socialist internationalism are mobilising in the Labour Party to back Brexit.

They are reacting to this news:

“Almost two thirds of trade unionists support the idea of another EU referendum, rising to three quarters among 2017 Labour voters, according to a new YouGov poll of 1,813 members”

But Len Mccluskey’s Union chiefs  say they  has a more direct line to the opinions of members.

A Unite spokesman said: “We don’t need a poll of a handful of our members to try to tell us what we know. For the past three years, since the referendum result, we have been polling 20,000 of our members regularly. This conversation has been conducted through our transparent and democratic structures.

This process, the first as a Unite lay official I have heard of it, gave the result UNITE’s pro-Brexit leadership wanted.

We know that they are fed up with Tory chaos and are now concerned about the very real prospect of the governing party crashing us out of the EU without a deal.

So they want Brexit without really knowing it.

Poll showing support for public vote among trade unionists “not credible”, says Unite Sienna Rodgers

UNITE can read the mind of our members so much better than those crafty “pollsters”.

 

Now we have this

 

 

This concerted attempt to by the pro-Brexit factionalists, animated by forces hostile to socialist internationalism, is reaching a crisis point as the time comes to choose:

  • Boris and a No Deal Brexit: the Red-Brown Front.
  • A Tory Soft Brexit.
  • A People’s Vote.
  • Remain and Reform.

Will they give intellectual and moral support to the pro-Brexit forces in this country?

 

 

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Written by Andrew Coates

June 25, 2019 at 5:13 pm

“My role is consubstantial with the movement.” Mélenchon on Left Populism in Crisis.

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Résultat de recherche d'images pour "consubstantiel mélenchon"

Mon rôle, il est consubstantiel au mouvement.” Mélenchon réaffirme son autorité devant ses militants

Note: consubstantiel sounds as odd in French normal speech as it does consubstantial in English. *

The leader of La France insoumise spoke over the weekend at the “assemblée représentative ” of La France insoumise, chosen by lot, and by special delegates selected by the ‘Movement’, by some inner process,  which some have compared  to Momentum on a bad day.

  • Trinity. The Christian doctrine of the Trinity (from Latin trinitas) holds that God is three consubstantial persons, expressions, or hypostases: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

“My role is consubstantial to the movement.” Mélenchon reaffirms his authority in front of LFI activists

After the defeat of France rebellious in the European elections of May 26, Jean-Luc Mélenchon was slow to speak. Strongly criticized in his ranks, he held this Sunday a speech at the party’s National Convention to respond to his critics and remobilise the troops.

Mélenchon announced that the next local elections in France will be stage in the self-organisation of the People.

But lo!

This morning.

Nouveau coup dur pour Mélenchon, qui perd une cadre de La France insoumise

The former candidate for the European elections and head of the  party training school Manon Le Bretton has announced she is to leave the La France insoumise this Monday, June 24.

Comrade le Bretton denounced the “virulence” of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s  Sunday speech against critics of the internal workings of the movement.

So much for the predictions of left-populist admirers, the US Jacobin,

The movement’s most recognisable figure has proven adept at bridging internal divides and presenting La France Insoumise’s ideas to a mass audience. Following the European elections Mélenchon has said that he’s reflecting over his political future, fueling speculation that he could step back from the spotlight. “The question,” asks Guiraud, “is do we have someone else who’s able to do this?”

Rebuilding France Insoumise Cole Strangler.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 24, 2019 at 12:35 pm

The Red-Brown front – Spiked – defends Boris Johnson.

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Plebeian Cadres of the Red-Brown Front.

There is a new guru on the left.

Let’s call him  the Heg.

He has direct line of communication to the nether spheres where the red-brown front does its pondering.

Heg busy defending internationalist good sense in the Western borderlands, has many a string to his bow.

In a prescient post Heg, predicted that Brendan O’Neill would chew the carpet and start spitting nails against the female Greenpeace activist assaulted by Mark Field.

In last night’s scuffle between Conservative MP Mark Field and a Greenpeace protester, which of them was really behaving in an entitled manner?

We can guess the answer:

it wasn’t Field who displayed colossal levels of entitlement last night — it was the protesters. It was these increasingly smug and disruptive climate activists who behaved in a morally arrogant fashion.

The moral arrogance of the Mansion House climate protestors

Today, well, let’s say this from Brendan O’Neill today was amply predicted by the Man they call Mystic Heg.

The hacking of Boris Johnson’s home

The Guardian’s invasion of Boris’s privacy is a new low for broadsheet journalism.

Brendan O’Neill, ex-Revolutionary Communist Party.

The chattering classes are lapping it up. These are the kind of people who look down their noses at tabloid-reading plebs who like to hear about the private lives of celebs. Yet now they priggishly pore over the hacked conversation of a politician and his girlfriend and hold it up as proof of what foul or tragic people they are. The worst aspect is the naked sexism they’re displaying towards Ms Symonds. They decree, in their infinite wisdom, that she is a victim and should get the hell out.

The great man concludes, with this,

I hope they will agree that if the liberal broadsheets develop a habit of listening through the walls of private citizens’ homes, then both the right to a private life and the standards of journalism in this country will suffer badly.

On the background of this national populist current see:

Here

Boris Johnson, the “Trumpification of British Politics” and the Left.

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Our Ruling Class.

Talleyrand – Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord (1754  – 1838) – was the most famous European statesman of his day.

His house. the Hôtel de Talleyrand, was celebrated,

Into this palace, as a spider into its web, he enticed and captured, one by one, heroes, thinkers, conquerors, princes, emperors, Bonaparte, Sieyès, Mme de Stael, Chateaubriand, Benjamin Constant, Alexandre de Russie, Guillaume de Prusse, François d’Autriche, Louis XVIII, Louis Philippe, and all the gilded glittering flies which buzz through the history of these past forty years. All this glittering swarm, fascinated by the penetrating eye of this man, passed in turn under this gloomy entrance bearing on it the inscription: Hôtel Talleyrand.

In the collection of writings from which this comes Victor Hugo described the death of the man who became a by-word by cynical diplomacy.

In Choses Vues the author of Les Misérables  describes his embalming, in the ancient Egyptian style.

The corpse lay in an empty chamber when a valet walked in.

He found that they had left the brain on the side-table.

The servant picked it up, and finding no other way of disposing of it, threw it into the outside sewer.

It is said that people have been looking for someone with Tallyrand’s cerebrum ever since.

Many would say that dealing Boris Johnson would be hard even for the most experienced politician.

El Pais says that “La única persona capaz de derrotar a Boris Johnson —y ya hay precedentes— sería el propio Boris Johnson.” (“the only person capable of defeating Boris Johnson – and there are precedents – is Boris Johnson himself”)

The European Press is full of such scorn for the man Le Monde calls a “buffoon” (while politely asking him to stop being one):

Le Monde, in an excoriating editorial, said Johnson had shown himself to be “a stranger to logic and convictions” in a career rich in “deceits, blunders and failures”. In the run-up to the 2016 referendum he “told lies on the side of a bus, promised the UK could have its cake and eat it, and compared the EU to the Third Reich,” it said.

As foreign secretary he “made his country an object of ridicule around the world with his amateurism, flippancy and ignorance”, France’s newspaper of record continued. Rivalling Nigel Farage for populism, Johnson’s “jingoistic rhetoric” promised Britons an unrealistic “glorious global future”.

His threat to withhold the €39bn Brexit divorce settlement would have “incalculable consequences”, damaging the international credibility of a country priding itself on being a champion of the rule of law, Le Monde said. And for the EU a Johnson premiership would mean “a mini-Trump across the Channel, dedicated to its sabotage”. Britain would become “a hostile principality, built on social, fiscal and environmental deregulation.”

Amongst the articles cited by the Guardian this stands out (Corriere della Sera)

Lord Chris Pattern says that Johnson is part of the ” una “trumpificazione” della nostra politica., the Trumpification of our politics.

He is equally,

Trump’s poodle: a liar who does not pay attention to the detail of reality, tells people what they want to hear and relies on their ignorance”.

Patten said Johnson exemplified the “collapse of rationality, of the relationship between the facts and what we believe” in present-day politics. “What he is offering is impossible.

All this looks as if it implies some serious thinking about changing Labour’s strategy.

A bounder in his own bailiwick is going to be hard to dislodge.

The Trumpification of British politics has begun; it does not look if a hasty declaration of an “insurgency” against Johnson is going to thwart it.

To begin with there is the impact of start-up political business, The Brexit Party. Helped by the ‘red-brown’ front, not to mention the support of former leftists, it has become a political player, and how to fight it. The Brexit Party is part of a broader trend towards national populism, which has helped dislodge the left from its historic bases of support in Italy and France. Left-wing populisms – in France and Spain – have been unable to counter the nationalist call to fight ‘oligarchies’ and ‘elites’ on behalf of the Nation.

The Brexit Party is not about to vanish:

Is an appeal to our own ‘identity politics’ of the people, the left-behind, the self-identifying native working class better than trying to build alliances on universal, internationalist,  fights for rights and interests?

Then there Johnson’s strategy: will Farage assist the disintegration of the Tory party, or will the Brexit Party pave the way for his victory as part of a new “great moving right show” that can resonate  deeply into the country’s electorate and culture ? Johnson hopes to rebuild the electoral support that got May- just –  elected and to extent it. How can an alternative be created from shards from the same ideology, which, the experience of European left populism indicates, is a sure way to strengthen the carnival of reaction, not to challenge it?

All these issues boil down to one: the Brexit project. Will Labour let Johnson pursue the goal – however much he twists and turns over the details – of a Hard Right Brexit, the only actually existing Brexit.

Apparently the Lexit left has the answer: it needs to back their version of Brexit.

The Morning Star editorialises.

..the trade union movement and the left has to make a decisions it to remain stuck in an increasingly sterile and immobilising debate for and against the EU? Or is it to shift the ground to the kind of withdrawal from the EU that must be secured to protect working people and to advance a progressive agenda that can beat the Tories?

Only class politics can defeat Johnson in Labour’s working-class heartlands. The dangers of not preparing are too serious to be contemplated.

The beginnings of a different approach are there, and have strong support on the left.

This is an excellent reply to such views:

Labour must re-energise the Corbyn project by opposing Brexit

witnessing the party’s continued ambiguity and evasion, many of the members who resolutely defended Corbyn as leader in the face of an establishment onslaught are asking themselves whether the values of straight-talking honest politics only apply if you agree with the leader. Going into a general election with the current policy on Brexit would be disastrous. By bringing its policy back into line with the democratic will of its members, and anchoring its support for Remain in a programme of cross-border resistance, Labour can clearly differentiate itself from the pro-business globalism of the Lib Dems and the utopian optimism of the Greens to win back disillusioned supporters.

With a vision aimed at defending the interests of all workers, British or not, Labour can win here and lead a Europe-wide offensive against capitalist exploitation. Co-ordinating this cross-border coalition will require conferences and organising events attracting activists with shared goals from across Europe. Labour can be the force to convene such events on a mass scale, to begin the fight for a democratic, socialist Europe.

Labour Against the Witch-hunt – the Return of Monster Raving Greenstein.

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The Return of the Monster Raving Greenstein Party.

Labour Against the Witch-hunt has a pubic face:

Labour Against the Witchhunt was founded in October 2017 to oppose the purge of pro-Corbyn supporters in the Labour Party.

LAW’s honorary presidents are Professor Moshé Machover and Ken Livingstone.

LAW’s sponsors include:

  • Ken Livingstone
  • Alexei Sayle, comedian
  • Professor Moshé Machover, Israeli socialist and founder of Matzpen
  • Ian Hodson, president of the Bakers Union
  • Ken Loach, film director
  • Noam Chomsky, author and activist

The group is probably best known for its defence of Jackie Walker.

Apart from the Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee), the CPGB-PCC, more widely known as the Weekly Worker, who run the show, its leading figure is one Tony Greenstein.

Nobody should be any doubt that very few people on the left will have any truck with that lot in any campaign that involves the words ‘Zionism’ and Israel.

Well there is this chap:

 

Since Greenstein has stopped his, reported,  visits to noted Nerve Specialist Sir Roderick Glossop the tweet (above, heading) promises to be the first of many in this vein…

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 13, 2019 at 5:10 pm

Left Media Review, Labour, Brexit, Tories and the aftermath of the Peterborough By-Election.

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front page of the guardian

Brexit Can’t Be Wished Away by Calls for Labour ‘Unity’ around pro-Brexit Policy.

The Morning Star was one of the first off the block to respond to the Peterborough result.

Labour unity around their pro-Brexit policy was, their Editorial on Saturday asserted,  the only basis for electoral victory.

Tory disunity is Labour’s opportunity. But it must take it

Jeremy Corbyn’s determination that the party must stand for working-class unity and move beyond the referendum’s divisions stands vindicated.

….

… Labour’s chances of forming the next government rest on finding a principled basis for uniting the labour movement with and within the party that best represents its diversity.

The only credible basis for such unity lies in convincing a decisive majority of voters, most particularly Labour’s core constituency of skilled and lesser skilled workers, that Corbyn meant it when he said Labour would respect the referendum result.

A wide spectrum of opinion in the party understands this simple truth. It needs to become a decisive majority.

Socialist Appeal , which now poses as a leading voice on the Labour left,  told everybody who dissented to shut up:

Labour victory in Peterborough silences the cynics

The began with the spotlight on the ‘Blairites’ and the Jewish Labour Movement’s “plan”.

The plan was that Corbyn was to take the blame for allowing a hard-right, hard-Brexiteer MP to enter Westminster, having already overseen a tepid performance in the recent local elections and a poor one in the Euros.

Yet,

The Blairites, for their part, were more bitterly disappointed than anyone. Labour’s temerity to win in Peterborough represented a major setback for all their hard work to sabotage the party and finally get rid of Corbyn.

They went onto say this,

Brexit was supposed to be the ultimate expression of this cultural divide, with people culturally identifying with their stance on the EU to a far greater degree than any social class. The Euro elections were seen to confirm this, with the Brexit Party and strongly-remain Lib Dems gaining at the Tories’ and Labour’s expense.

Many on the left of the Labour Party (including so-called socialists like Owen Jones and Paul Mason) bought into this propaganda.

Despairing at the rise of the Brexit Party, which had apparently lulled the working class under the spell of racism and nationalism, these pessimists and sceptics concluded that Leave constituencies like Peterborough were a lost cause, and that Corbyn had to embrace a second referendum to at least hold onto his middle-class Remainers.

Who cares what the “middle class” think and vote, surely the sturdy working class would see the wool being pulled over their eyes.

As apparently they could

However, the 2017 general election and the Peterborough by-election both show that class-based demands can bridge the Brexit gulf. The by-election also proves that the European election results are not a good measure of Labour’s potential for success in a general election. The party’s vote share in the by-election was up 14 percent compared to the EU elections last month.

That is, when Labour came behind the Liberal Democrats…

This demonstrates that plenty of people who voted for other parties over Europe would return to Labour in a general election – as long as it runs on a bold, anti-austerity programme.

Apparently,

It has also vindicated Corbyn’s refusal to back a second referendum. It is very possible the result might have been different had the party gone down this route. Between this victory, Corbyn’s address at the Trump demo, and the newly launched tour of public rallies (‘Labour Roots’), there is the potential to take the initiative back to the grassroots.

After the Peterborough result, Corbyn challenged the Tories to “bring on” a general election. “We’re ready”, he said.

It is imperative this is accomplished as soon as possible, taking full advantage of the Tories’ internal crisis, and in order to avoid being bogged in the Brexit myre.

John Rees from the revolutionary socialist Counterfire is less sure.

He observes that, “concerns about a new coup” against Corbyn, “have persisted”

Writing yesterday the leader of a successful, several thousand strong march to demand a general election earlier this year he says,

 the issue of remaining in the European Union and of a second referendum which may prove even more consequential.

He has this stark warning against plotters,

the danger in this comes less from increasingly discredited figures like Tom Watson and those who support him in this argument such as former revolutionary socialist Paul Mason, who now calls for the sacking of Seamus Milne, Corbyn’s trusted head of communications and strategy.

It comes rather from members of the shadow cabinet who, although they were not part of the original Corbyn left, and although they share little of Corbyn’s radicalism, have been seen as loyal to Corbyn because they have observed the discipline of being Shadow Cabinet members.

Rees wants Labour to demand a People’s Brexit,

It would be better if Labour did not break faith with working-class Leave voters, and returned to the policy of a People’s Brexit, silently and stupidly retired before it had the chance to pull together both those who voted Remain but respected the referendum result and those who voted Leave.

How the left can take the initiative

A contrasting approach is taken by Socialist Resistance.

Diane Abbott, John McDonnell and Emily Thornberry are correct on Brexit

The article, which is important and should be read in full, begins,

The Corbyn project is in crisis, writes Alan Davies. The EU elections results were a disaster for Labour, brought about by a major failure by the Corbyn leadership. It was an election that Labour could have won and within the terms of the policy agreed by conference last year, but this policy was repeatedly watered down by the front bench.

This is a crisis that is a direct threat to the most important development ever on the left in Britain in modern times; the Corbyn leadership of the Labour Party, which has opened up a real prospect of a left anti-austerity government at a time when world politics is moving to the right. That prospect is still there but the Labour leadership’s stance on Brexit, the issue that defines politics in Britain at the present time, is going to have to change.

..

Had Labour placed itself at the head of the growing anti-Brexit movement the result could have been very different. Overall, the European election vote was pro-remain with pro-remain at 40.3%. and hard Brexit at 34.9%. The Brexit party result was no surprise. It is not a new party as Farage claims but UKIP mark 2. UKIP polled 28%in the last EU election and this transferred to Brexit with some additional votes mostly from the Tories.

Although Labour went on to win the Peterborough by-election – which was important in that it denied momentum to the Brexit Party at this point – it did so on a reduced vote and because the Brexit vote was split (equally according to John Curtice) between the Brexit party and the Tories and reflected the same underlying situation. The Labour candidate, Lisa Forbes, who beat the Brexit party by just 683 votes, argued that her campaign had been successful because it had ignored Brexit and concentrated on local issues. This is a seriously wrong analysis that has been widely accepted on the Labour left and in particular by Momentum.

Davis continues,

The danger with this fence sitting is that it is based on avoiding crucial issues. On the one hand, the further away we get from what was already an undemocratic referendum – in that EU citizens and under 18’s were denied a vote – and as material circumstances changed, the less legitimacy the 2016 result has. This has never been challenged by the Labour leadership. Even worse was the idea that it would be possible to leave the EU without reducing the living standards of the vast majority in the process, or that there could be a Brexit that protected jobs. Ironically those areas where the majority voted leave which may well suffer most if Brexit goes ahead.

There is another very important reason as well to have a second referendum, and actually the most important, that is because it has become a democratic right at this stage of the Brexit shambles to have another vote. A second vote is itself a democratic right as circumstances change. Democracy can’t be a once off event that must be imposed despite the consequences and impact on peoples’ lives. The government has failed to implement what was promised in the referendum and crashing out without a deal cannot be remotely seen as what people voted for then the natural process must be to go back to the voters.

In the Clarion Martin Thomas is equally direct on the Peterborough result.

Labour won essentially because the Tory vote held up better than in the 23 May Euro-elections. Enough Tory voters thought that they will soon have Boris Johnson or another hard-Brexiter as leader, and so no longer have to protest by voting Farage.

Labour still lost many votes to Lib-Dems and to abstention.

The easing of pressure to oust the 3 Ms, the Milne-Murray-Murphy group who run the Leader’s Office, is not good. Seamus Milne and Andrew Murray are longstanding Stalinists, and responsible for shaping Labour’s shameful evasions on Brexit and antisemitism.

Those evasions affront most members, and demoralise and lose members. They affront most Labour voters, and lose votes.

They have ruined Jeremy Corbyn’s personal standing with the broad electorate. The latest poll (YouGov, 5-6 June) had Theresa May, at 29%, scoring much better as “best prime minister” than Corbyn, at 17% – even after May had resigned!

To all appearances, Corbyn is demoralised.

Labour after Peterborough

There is another aspect to take up , the depth of the fight against National Populism, something which the internationalist left and this Blog, have had underlined.

Mike Phipps puts this clearly in Labour Hub

The Big Debate II: Alternative Perspectives on Brexit

In Europe and beyond, the rise of rightwing economic and political nationalism is producing a polarisation into two distinct camps. On the one hand, there are those that support rational, tolerant, liberal, humanitarian, internationalist values and on the other, those that support irrational, intolerant, illiberal, anti-humanitarian, nationalist values. We must be the most consistent part of the first camp.

Internationalism should guide our approach to Brexit too. If leaving the EU were right for Britain, it would presumably be right for all member states, and logically we should call for the destruction of the EU and all its institutions. In practice, few argue for this. Internationally, all other significant socialist currents want to Reform the EU, which implies Remaining.

..

It’s time for a change of strategy. We are not economic nationalists, but nor are we content with the neoliberal European order. Above all, Labour is more credible when it is clearly advocating what it believes in, putting forward real solutions to problems, rather than trying to tack between different interests within the movement. Let’s press the  reset button and commit to a distinctive socialist policy towards Europe – radically overhauling its institutions to make them work in the interests of the many, not the elites.

Comrade Mike may well be right in stating the following, but we have to do everything we can to promote the following stand,

In the unlikely event of a new referendum, we should seek to break out of the binary choice of Leave or Remain and focus on Reform, which obviously entails Remaining. But it separates us from the passive Remain camp of the Lib Dems and Change UK. Our message is radically different: the EU is not fit for purpose and must be radically restructured.

The polarisation of poltiics, the evidence of those who support “irrational, intolerant, illiberal, anti-humanitarian, nationalist values.” could be seen in the previous post on this Blog, from the identity politics of Spiked.

For all their bombast about ‘Blairites’ the Lexit left are remarkably complacent about their allies in the Brexit camp.

The intellectual centre of this camp is the Full Brexit.

Its “mission” is  “to reshape Britain for the better” – with Brexit. The “left’s proper role is to be the architect of a better, more democratic future and, second, that a clean break with the EU is needed to realise that potential”

This brings together  supporters of the Morning Star’s Communist Party of Britain and Counterfire (such as Feyzi Ismail),   Blue Labour ( Lord Maurice Glasman, ‘anti-cosmopolitan’ Paul Embery) , prominent New Left Review contributor, Wolfgang Streeck, the Somewhere versus Nowhere People David Goodhart, Edouard Husson (for a French right-wing for everybody, “. Une droite de la France pour tous),  Labour Leave, the self-identifying ‘left-wing’ national sovereigntist, Thomas Fazi, and Spiked supporters and other Brexit Party members and supporters.

It published this piece in the run up to the European Elections,

“A signatory of The Full Brexit’s founding statement explains his decision to stand for The Brexit Party. All of Britain’s major political parties are committed to a feeble Brexit in name only, or cancelling Brexit altogether. TBP is the only major force fighting to defend democracy by carrying through the referendum result, and deserves the support of everyone committed to a Full Brexit.”

As good as The Full Brexit has been at marking out the left-wing case for Brexit, it has not been able to give those ideas a clear organisational expression. There is no Full Brexit Party in a shape to challenge Tory and Labour Parties at the election.

I have joined with the Brexit Party to put myself forward as candidate in Yorkshire and the Humber. I am working with some great people, like Lucy Harris who organised the Leavers of Britain Group, and the libertarian Andrew Allison.

To say we disagree on many things is putting it mildly. But every one of the Brexit Party candidates is committed to Leaving the EU and to democracy. No other party with any prospect of a hearing is even standing on a Leave platform.

The Big Debate II: Alternative Perspectives on Brexit

 

This should focus people’s minds when thinking about why fighting Brexit is part of a wider battle against National Populism and our own Red-Brown Front.

Perhaps this is a good sign..

The Death of “Left Wing Populism”.

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Image result for la france insoumise tricolore

“Fashion dies young, ” (La mode meurt jeune) said Jean Cocteau (Le « populisme de gauche » est mort !)

It seems like another epoch.

‘Left wing populism”, the new strategy of the left, was going to sweep all before it.

In the “era of people” the old class divisions were eroded, politics was about moblising, giving a voice to, and joining together the victims of neo-liberal economics against the Oligarchy, the “elite”.

National symbols and a feeling of real  community needed to be retaken by the left.

In  France this reached the point of celebrating the “patriotic” revolutionary tradition of ‘the French’ with ‘left populists’ waving the Tricolore and singing the Marseillaise – as indeed their forebears in the French Communist Party were wont to do in times of popular unity and their own ‘National Fronts’ (1940s onwards).

We were lectured on how French nationalism – no doubt like so many other nationalisms in the eyes of their ‘left’ supporters – is uniquely revolutionary and ‘popular’.

It would not be hard to find the pages written on this, from Chantal Mouffe’s For a Left Populism (2018) to scores of articles on Mouffe, and the (deceased) Ernesto Laclau’s writings on populism.

It was recommended that the British Labour Party take note and develop its own “insurgent” style and politics.

In those distant days (31st of March 2019) the self-styled voice of the American radical left, Jacobin, was full of articles on the topic.

Anton Jäger and Arthur Borriello wrote,

Left populism is the new idiom of radical politics worldwide. It emerged as the answer to the problem of a weak and disorganized working class — but despite its electoral successes…

In contrast to a moribund old left, clinging to antiquated remedies when facing annihilation, left-populism has trimmed its sails to the wind.

Is Left Populism the Solution?

The previous year (2018, how distant it seems now! ) Jacobin’s European editor, Dave Broder boasted, of an event on the fringe at the Labour Party Conference.

Tonight Jacobin will host an event at The World Transformed featuring France’s most popular political leader, France Insoumise’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Winning seven million votes in last year’s presidential election, the radical left-winger is today at the forefront of the revolt against Emmanuel Macron’s crisis-wracked government.

He went onto to praise, Mélenchon and his movement’s

 ..success in uniting the oppressed…

The Left Should Welcome Mélenchon

Earlier this year Broder gave a reverential interview to the Leader of la France insoumise in the Jacobin supplement, the UK magazine Tribune.

‘Everyone should know — I am very dangerous’

This Blog has covered the growing crisis in his La France insoumise.

We have discussed this book, Le populisme : le grand ressentiment (2017) and interview (2018) Left-wing populism. A legacy of defeat: Interview with

Fassin had the foresight to say:

The problem with the populist strategy, for the left, is that it’s neither left nor a winning strategy. It was even less so during the latest presidential campaign in France: everyone played that same card at the same time, including Macron, with a rhetoric of ‘centre’ populism!

Today we read on a site of the French radical left close to the independent section of La France insoumise, Ensemble, though increasingly not close to Mélenchon himself, that the strategy of left-wing populism has unravelled right to down to reveal its bleached skeleton.

Le « populisme de gauche » est mort ! 

The economist Cédric Durand and the sociologist Razmig Keucheyan.

After tracing the origins of this strategy to the Latin America left, (an important inspiration for Ernesto Laclau inspiration), and the failures of the ‘Bolivarian Revolution” they state,

..the limits of the model are obvious, and even more so in Europe, where no current claiming “left-wing populism” has been able to gain power. The results of Podemos and La France insoumise in the European elections, accompanied in the Spanish case of very poor local elections scores, sound the death knell of experience.

It forced the left to think about what “people” means today. More complex and diverse, the ‘people’ are no longer those created during  the post-war economic success when the left bloc combined the salaried popular classes and certain fractions of the middle classes, especially intellectual ones. Globalisation, neoliberal Europe and the renunciation of social democracy have blown it up, creating a deadly cleavage between a supposedly protective nationalism and an all-market pseudo-internationalism. The populist strategy has been able to defy the hegemony of the neoliberalized left by jostling amongst the interstices of the historical formations.

But it failed to structure a new social alliance. How to explain the failure?

The summary of the answer to this is that,

The opposition between the 1% and the 99% has perhaps allowed to trigger a political movement and to incarnate it in a leader, but has  prevented it from developing long-term roots.

They argue that the backing for these parties, above all Podemos and La France insoumise,  has been based on too many differing social  constituencies. These are not just fragmented but lack  a consistently defined interest however much a political apparatus tries to “articulate to offer a stable political base.

To put it simply ‘federating’ a variety of ‘democratic’ struggles and social concerns together around a charismatic ‘Leader’ has not paid off.

No strategy based on Laclau’s picture of the rhetorical foundations of society and floating signifiers, or Mouffe’s agonism, and “effects” can hide the results of elections, and the failure to “capture” the – ambitious – Gilets Jaunes revolt to restore the “moral economy” that many very different social categories dream of  asserting faced with President Macron and his own simulacrum of a party, La République En Marche.

Perhaps the substantial part of LFI’s ecosocialism” and green planning (far from their personal property as Benoît Hamon and Génération.s, stand for une écologie humaniste qui prône l’humain au coeur de la réflexion écologisteindicates) can be saved from this wreck……

That is France, but the downward spiral of left populism has wider implications.

Above all Durand and Keucheyan ask,

Why do left-wing populisms prove incapable of dealing with disagreements and bringing pluralism to life? Podemos and La France insoumise are authoritarian structures. A clear-headed assessment obliges us to recognise this.

One party of the answer, which applies to French Left Populism,  is offered here.

In this article Après le départ de Charlotte Girard, «La France insoumise en difficulté»… et après? criticises above all La France insoumise for its “hégémoniste et exclusive ” political practice.

This is a striking observation.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon a été formé à l’école de Pierre Lambert: où qu’il soit passé (y compris comme premier secrétaire de la fédération PS de l’Essonne comme féal mitterrandien), il n’a jamais hésité devant les méthodes brutales, au nom des exigences de l’orientation politique du moment, cette orientation fût-elle éphémère.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon was trained at Pierre Lambert’s |(note, hard-line orthodox Trotskyist, with strongly patriotic/nationalist traits)  school: wherever he went (including as first secretary of the PS federation of Essonne as a loyal supporter of Mitterrand)  he never hesitated before brutal methods In the name of the political demands of the moment, however ephemeral they were.

It was often said that Left Populism was a strategy in a hurry.

It needed to build quickly to overtake and replace  the ‘old’ left, the compromised ‘neoliberals’  those unable to confront globalisation with a viable appeal to “the people”.

Internal democratic structures in such ‘start up’ parties, movement, best called in France’s case a rally, were not that important.

Fat chance….

When they lose votes in elections, when their strategy is in tatters, how else can their difficulties be discussed?

How can a return to alliances of the left bloc, the people of the left be made by charismatic leaders with a direct line of communication to the People?

The obituary of left populism may be premature.

The stakes are high:

Yet the “populist moment” today is the time of national populism of the right and the far-right, helped by political confusionism – the -red-brown ‘left’.

Let’s hope that the left stops listening to those who were so enthusiastic about  left populism only a few months ago reflect.

Beware ! to  anybody in the UK stumbling by chance on Jacobin, left-populist Dave Broder is now praising Jeremy Corbyn….

Update: this is in an interesting analysis of the “chain of equivalences” between La France insoumise and the Front National.

France Insoumise : Ces chauvin(e)s qui nous cassent les couilles.

«l’Insoumission »? C’ est un  « Front ». France ≡ National / Insoumise  ≡ Front.

C’est avec la naissance de la France Insoumise que Mélenchon (qui a passé la plus grande partie de sa vie dans le « socialisme ») et les siens ont abandonné le drapeau rouge au profit du sympathique et vibrant Bleu, Blanc, Rouge. Ils ont aussi abandonné cette vieillerie de l’International au profit de la très moderne Marseillaise. Mélenchon et les siens ne se réclamaient plus de la « gauche » mais du « peuple » en prétendant que le mot gauche est un attrape-tout, qu’il empêche de penser rigoureusement.

It was with the birth of France Insoumise that Mélenchon (who spent most of his life in “socialism”) and his family abandoned the red flag for the sympathetic and vibrant Blue, White, Red. They have also abandoned this old age banner of the International in favour of the very modern Marseillaise. Mélenchon and his people no longer claimed to be on the “left” but on the side of the “people” by claiming that the left word is a catch-all term, that prevents rigorous thought.

See also this (the fall-out continues on a daily basis):