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New Row on Antisemitism Looms as Jean-Luc Mélenchon to speak at Labour conference Momentum fringe.

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« La révolution citoyenne a déjà commencé » - L'interview des interview

Mélenchon to Learn from Labour Party “Shining Beacon”.

Why we’ve invited Jean-Luc Mélenchon to The World Transformed

Next month, The World Transformed will be welcoming Jean-Luc Mélenchon to speak at its Labour conference fringe. The French politician who inspired the European left with his radical campaign for the presidency in 2017 won more than seven million votes. Since then, despite only commanding 17 MPs in the National Assembly, Mélenchon has emerged as the main resistance to the neoliberal ‘Jupiterian’ presidency of Emmanuel Macron.

It was the promise of a Sixth Republic, based on the principles of justice and democracy, which saw young and old flock to Mélenchon’s campaign. Likewise, Corbyn promised a constitutional convention as part of his quiet political revolution. Both seek to distribute power to the people.

Shifts in political power will, however, achieve little without an attendant transfer in economic power. The resurgent left is based above all on one thing: the return of class to politics. As Corbyn put it in a speech last month, Labour is back as the party of the working class. Mélenchon was at the heart of recent protests against Macron’s zombie neoliberal ‘reforms’ targeting the once-powerful French public sector (particularly rail workers). Both would repeal restrictive trade union laws, move to protect people from precarity and rebuild national industry following the ravages of neoliberalism.

Corbyn’s Labour is a shining beacon to the left, in Europe and beyond. As parties across Europe, including the PS, suffer from Pasokification, a resurgent Labour demonstrates the need for a strong, socialist alternative to a decaying neoliberalism.

Mélenchon’s presence is not simply a result of similarities between him and Corbyn. It is a sign of a rising internationalist left building socialism from the grassroots. In learning from and debating with one another, as TWT allows us to do, we can help build a world for the many, not the few.

Angus Satow is an organiser for The World Transformed.

Was the promise of a 6th republic in France the cause which attracted French voters to back the – failed – candidacy of Mélenchon in 2017?

Is a British “constitutional Convention” capable of bringing about a “citizens’ revolution”?

Can we see the invitation to one section of the fragmented and divided French left a sign of building “socialism from the grassroots”?

Can we say that a new left being created through a return to class politics?

French trade unionists, in the ‘intersyndicale’ (joint unions committee which led the recent strikes against Macron’s plans for the country’s railway service will no doubt be pleased to hear from The World Transformed  that their efforts were overshadowed by Mélenchon’s efforts on their (and his)  behalf.

Those who follow French politics will perhaps ask questions about the ‘grassroots democracy’ inside Mélenchon’s rally, La France insoumise.

It declares that it is not a party but a “un mouvement de citoyens individuels qui se reconnaissent dans la démarche de Jean-Luc Mélenchon “, a movement of individual citizens who identify with the approach laid out by Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

A bit like Momentum’s claim to be supporters of Corbyn rather than the Labour Party itself...

At ‘conferences’ (‘Convention, December 2017) of the movement up to 60% of the “delegates” were chosen by lot and the others by a process which makes the old British Tory Party’s way by which leaders ’emerged’ look transparent.

There were no clashes between opposing motions, or organised currents of political opinion.

There is however plenty of ‘cyber-democracy’ (votes for all on a narrow spectrum of pre-prepared ideas) …tweets, FB groups and Memes….

Critics…..

Unsurprisingly there is dissatisfaction with the way things are run inside this Rally (A La France insoumise, la démocratie interne fait débat).

On paper it’s a ‘horizontal’ movement.

In reality, critics say, that it is “vertical” with decision-making in the hands of Mélenchon’s key advisers.

LFI’s strategy is often called  ‘left populist’, drawing on sources such as Chantal Mouffe’s extensive writings (the latest, For a Left Populism. 2018).

It is said that they are engaged in a ‘Battle for hegemony’. At  present they have not in a long-term ‘war of position’ but a frenetic ‘war of movement’ against not just Macron, the ‘elite’, and ‘the media’, but to win leadership over the rest of the French left and ‘federate the people”.

There are many other things to say, such as Mélenchon’s continued support for the Maduro regime in Venezuela, his dreams of a Bolivarian revolution, and a position on the European Union that while formally pro-European keeps slipping into assertions of French sovereignty,  sovereigntism than the pro-Other Europe views of many Labour members.

In their favour it must be said that LFI’s most recent proposals in migration have included a defence of asylum seekers and an ambitious plan to cope with global migration. Propositions alternatives au projet de loi sur l’immigration et l’asile. 28th of May 2018.

 

The real problem is that the invitation to  Mélenchon’ is probably going to get embroiled in the Labour row over anti-semitism.

Why?

Mireille Knoll: Crowds jeer French far-right, far-left leaders after ‘anti-Semitic’ murder.

BBC. 28 March 2018

France’s far-right and far-left leaders have been booed during a Paris rally after a Jewish woman was killed in what is being treated as anti-Semitic crime.

Marine Le Pen of the National Front (FN) and Jean-Luc Mélenchon of France Unbowed joined the silent march, defying wishes of Jewish groups.

The groups accuse the two parties of having anti-Semites in their ranks – a claim denied by both organisations.

Mireille Knoll, 85, was stabbed and then burnt in her Paris flat on Friday.

As a child in 1942, she evaded the notorious Vel d’Hiv round up of some 13,000 Jews in Paris, who were then deported to Nazi death camps.

Two men have been held and placed under formal investigation over her murder.

……

On Wednesday, Ms Le Pen and Mr Mélenchon met a hostile reception from a number of protesters marching from Paris’s Place de la Nation to Ms Knoll’s apartment in the east of the French capital.

The two political leaders had to leave the rally as tensions threatened to boil over. Ms Le Pen later rejoined the protest, the AFP reports.

Ahead of the rally, Crif, an umbrella organisation of France’s Jewish groups, asked the far-right and far-left politicians not to join the event.

“Anti-Semites are over-represented in the far-left and the far-right, making those parties ones that you don’t want to be associated with,” Crif director Francis Kalifat told RTL radio.

“Therefore they are not welcome,” he added.

This dispute has long-standing roots:   including the LFI leader’s charge against the Crif’s “aggressive communitarianism” )Le communautarisme du Crif est particulièrement agressif”   Mélenchon et le Crif, un désamour de longue date. In return the CRIF has, in the past, made claims (strongly contested)  that Mélenchon  was in some manner implicated in anti-semitic demonstrations that followed public protests over Israeli attacks on Gaza in 2014, (” les complaisances de Jean-Luc Mélenchon pour les manifestations antisémites de l’été 2014). The Communist daily, l’Humanite   was the venue where the accusations of anti-semitism have continued to surface, firstly in a column by Jean Rouaud, and then, in his defence, by its Director, Patrick Appel-Muller. (Quand Jean-Luc Mélenchon est accusé d’antisémitisme dans L’Humanité. Marianne. 13.12.2017).

The controversy, with obvious echoes in present day UK disputes, centred over the language used.

 

Many, while they would perhaps not always agree with the wording of the leader of LFI’s criticisms of Israel, find some of the claims of the CRIF hard to swallow. It is  hard to imagine that somebody who comes from the tradition of Laïcité (as this Blog does) and who has never shied away expressing his hostility to  anti-semitism, can be accused of….. anti-antisemitism

No doubt it did not help that he referred to his opponents in the CRIf as “la secte CRIF on his Blog in the article L’antisémitisme et « La France Insoumise ».

Nor that his ‘republican’ patriotism lead him not long ago to deny that “France”, that is the French republic, was responsible for Vichy anti-Jewish legislation and complicity in Nazi war crimes.

This kind of language and disassociation is hard to echo outside of France.

As an illustration of his position on these issues Mélenchon expressed his “total opposition” last year when one of the MP’s of his rally, La France insoumise (LFI),  Danièle Obono., expressed her support for the anti-semitic racist groupuscule, le Parti des Indigènes de la République (PIR):  Mélenchon met les choses au clair avec le Parti des indigènes de la République.

He and his party condemned her remarks.

It is doubtful nevertheless that in the present climate that we will see a rational – favourable or critical – reception of Mélenchon when he addresses a Labour and Momentum audience.

 

 

 

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Arsène Tchakarian, Last Survivor of Resistance Group Manouchian (l’Affiche Rouge) Dies at 101.

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Affiche Rouge

“L’affiche Rouge.”

L’ancien résistant Arsène Tchakarian, le dernier survivant du groupe Manouchian, est mort

Le Monde

Avec la mort d’Arsène Tchakarian le samedi 4 août à l’âge de 101 ans, disparaît le dernier survivant du groupe Missak Manouchian, dont 22 membres furent exécutés par les nazis le 21 février 1944 au Mont-Valérien. Après le décès d’Henri Karayan, le 2 novembre 2011, à Paris, à l’âge de 90 ans, celui d’Arsène Tchakarian renvoie la mémoire et la relation précise de cet épisode, à la fois magnifié et propice à certaines polémiques, à la seule responsabilité des historiens.

The report below appears via Deutsche Welle.

The last survivor of a famous group of immigrant workers that fought against the Nazi occupation of France during World War II died on Saturday at the age of 101, French media reported.

Arsene Tchakarian, a tailor of Armenian origin, passed away at a hospital near his home in the Paris suburb of Vitry-sur-Seine, where he had lived since 1950.

He had dedicated his life to fighting “facism,” French paper Le Figaro reported.

After fighting in the legendary resistance group Manouchian, Tchakarian’s historical and memorial tasks occupied him for the rest of his long life. He turned his home in an archival center, spoke at colleges and schools about the Nazi occupation of France, and campaigned for the recognition of the mass killings of Ottoman Armenians as a genocide.

“I’m sort of the last of the Mohicans, as they say,” Tchakarian said, according to French newspaper Le Figaro.

..

By 1942 he had joined the Manouchians, a small resistance group made up of foreigners and named after its leader, the Armenian poet and communist Missak Manouchian.

“They were immigrants who had come from countries that were becoming fascist, like Hungary, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria,” Tchakarian said, according to the German News Agency. “From all those countries, there were immigrants who were kind of hunted out.”

The Manouchian group carried out an intense campaign of resistance activities against the Nazi German occupation of France that included attacks and acts of sabotage such as assassinations and train derailments.

In 1944, 23 members of the group were rounded up and sentenced to death by a German martial court in a highly publicized trial.

The ‘Affiche Rouge’ poster campaign aimed at turning public sentiment against the resistance fighters of the Manouchian group

After the execution of Tchakarian’s fellow group members, Nazi German authorities and French officials in the collaborationist Vichy government hung up infamous red posters, known as the “Affiche Rouge,” denouncing the members of the Manouchian group as “the army of crime” in an attempt to sway public opinion against the resistance fighters.

Tchakarian managed to escape to Bordeaux and was taken into hiding by fellow resistance members. He remained active in the resistance until the war’s end.

After the war, he turned his focus to history, writing multiple memoirs, and fighting for recognition of the Armenian genocide.

DW.

There is a comprehensive Wikipedia entry in English on L’Affice Rouge.

In mid-November 1943, the French police arrested 23 members of the Communist Francs-Tireurs et Partisans de la Main d’Oeuvre Immigrée (FTP-MOI), who were part of the French Resistance.[1] They were called the “Manouchian Group” after the commander, Missak Manouchian. The group was part of a network of about 100 fighters, who committed nearly all acts of armed resistance in the Paris metropolitan region between March and November 1943.[2]

Its membership included 22 men: eight Poles, five Italians, three Hungarians, two Armenians, a Spaniard, and three French; and one woman, who was Romanian. Eleven were also Jewish.[3]

After having been tortured and interrogated for three months, the 23 were tried by a German military court. In an effort to discredit the Resistance, the authorities invited French celebrities (from the world of the cinema and other arts) to attend the trial and encouraged the media to give it the widest coverage possible. All but one of the Manouchian Group’s members were executed before a firing squad in Fort Mont-Valérien on February 21, 1944. Olga Bancic, who had served the group as a messenger, was taken to Stuttgart, where she was beheaded with an axe on May 10, 1944.

In the spring of 1944, the Vichy authorities launched a propaganda campaign, designed to discredit the Manouchian Group and defuse public anger over their execution. They created a poster, which became known as Affiche Rouge, due to its red background. It featured ten men of the group, with nationality, surnames, photos and descriptions of their crimes. The Germans distributed an estimated 15,000 copies of the poster.[4] Along with these posters, the Germans handed out flyers that claimed the Resistance was headed by foreigners, Jews, unemployed people and criminals; the campaign characterized the Resistance as a “foreigners’ conspiracy against French life and the sovereignty of France”:

Si des Français pillent, volent, sabotent et tuent…

Ce sont toujours des étrangers qui les commandent. Ce sont toujours des chômeurs et des criminels professionnels qui exécutent. Ce sont toujours des juifs qui les inspirent. C’est l’armée du crime contre la France.

Le banditisme n’est pas l’expression du Patriotisme blessé, c’est le complot étranger contre la vie des Français et contre la souveraineté de la France.”[5]

Although the poster attempted to depict the group as “terrorists”, the campaign seems to have had the effect of highlighting the feats of people whom the general public saw as freedom fighters.[5] Legend has it that supporters scribbled the words MORTS POUR LA FRANCE (They died for France – the phrase used on official monuments to soldiers of France who died in combat) and put flowers beneath some of the posters.

In 1975, Philippe Ganier Raymond claimed that there was no historical record of such activity.[6] More recent research has in fact confirmed that such additions occurred.[5]

The story was put into verse by Aragon which is sung by  Léo Ferré.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 6, 2018 at 11:19 am

Marie Laguerre on Street Harasser’s Slap “I can’t keep quiet and we mustn’t stay silent'”.

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Harcelée dans la rue, elle publie la vidéo de son aagression (Le Monde)

Paris prosecutors opened an investigation Monday after a young woman was assaulted by a street harasser for telling him to stop, in full view of a terrace full of people and CCTV cameras in Paris’s 19th arrondissement.

France 24.

This outrage has been all over the francophone media – with good reason.

The Paris public prosecutor’s office opened an investigation Monday after a young woman lodged a complaint against a street harasser who hit her in the face after she told him to stop making obscene remarks.

The victim obtained a CCTV video of the incident that has since gone viral on social media.

The investigation involves sexual harassment and violence with a weapon after he threw an ashtray at the victim, resulting in an injury that will cause her to miss some work, French media reported.

Marie Laguerre, 22, posted footage of the incident on her Facebook page, describing how the man launched a series of “humiliating” comments coupled with whistles and explicit language as she was on her way home in northeastern Paris. (1)

So I let out a, “Shut up!” while making my way,” she wrote. “Because I do not tolerate this type of behaviour. I cannot keep silent and we must not be silent.”

But “this man didn’t like that”, she continued, explaining that he first threw an ashtray at her before following her and then “hitting her in the face in the street, in broad daylight, in front of dozens of witnesses”.

Her Facebook post was accompanied by the video surveillance from the bar in front of which the incident took place. The video has so far been retweeted hundreds of times and the public video on Facebook has received hundreds of comments.

The French government announced in March that sexual harassment on French streets or in public transport will soon be punishable by an on-the-spot fine of €90. In announcing the measure, a government spokesman cited a 2016 survey that found 87 percent of women who use public transport had experienced harassment such as wolf whistles or comments on their appearance, intrusive staring or someone pressing up against them.

Only 2 percent of these women went so far as to file a police complaint, although in more than 85 percent of cases at least one witness was present.

The BBC has just reported on this:

France shocked by video of woman being slapped by harasser

Everyone at the cafe had found her response normal, she said, and the owner gave her the video to help catch the attacker. It has now been viewed more than a million times.

Ms Laguerre said fighting back against such aggression was hard, but all women were affected by it and it was time to say stop. “I can’t keep quiet and we mustn’t stay silent,” she wrote on Facebook.

(1)”Hier soir, alors que je rentrais chez moi, vers le Boulevard de la Villette dans le 19ème arrondissement à Paris, j’ai croisé un homme.

Il s’est permis de m’adresser des bruits/commentaires/sifflements/coup de langue sales, de manière humiliante et provocante à mon passage.

Pas de chance, c’était pas le premier de la journée et j’étais fatiguée. J’ai donc lâché un “ta gueule” en traçant ma route. Car je ne tolère pas ce genre de comportement. Je ne peux pas me taire et nous ne devons plus nous taire.

Ça n’a pas plu à cet homme. Après m’avoir jeté un cendrier dessus, il est revenu sur ses pas et m’a suivi dans la rue.

Il m’a frappé au visage, en pleine rue, en pleine journée, devant des dizaines de témoins.

J’ai porté plainte.

Ce n’est pas le seul. Le harcèlement c’est au quotidien. Ces hommes qui se croient tout permis dans la rue, qui se permettent de nous humilier et qui ne supportent pas qu’on s’en offusque, c’est inadmissible. Il est temps que ce genre de comportement CESSE.
#NousToutes

The reason why the video has been so widely shared can be see immediately.

 

Now in English:

 

While Marie Laguerre has received enormous support, some remark on the passivity of witnesses (a dubious point for reasons too obvious to cite):

Written by Andrew Coates

July 30, 2018 at 5:08 pm

France: Top Macron Minder, Alexandre Benalla, Filmed Hitting May Day Protester.

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Image result for Alexandre Benalla, image frapper un manifestant

Alexandre Benalla: “After  attacks quickly slipped off afraid of being recognised”.

L’Indépendent,

“Cet homme s’est ensuite rapidement éloigné de peur d’être reconnu…”

The Guardian reports, “Benalla, wearing a police visor, is seen first grabbing and dragging a woman, then dragging, hitting and stamping on an unarmed young man who seems to be in pain.”

“The many riot police close by appear to let Benalla carry out the violence untroubled.

One witness who saw the incident said: “What I watched was not normal, it was extraordinary, it was not legal and it was not techniques used by the police. It’s unacceptable, I’m extremely angry and I want to see action by the justice system, police and administration against this member of staff of the presidency.”

One of President Emmanuel Macron’s top security officers was at the centre of a potentially damaging scandal for the French leader on Wednesday after being filmed hitting a protester.

France 24.

Le Monde newspaper published a video showing Alexandre Benalla hitting and then stamping on a young man while wearing a police visor during a demonstration in central Paris on May 1.

Benalla, who is not a policeman and previously worked as bodyguard, had been given permission to “observe police operations” during a day-off on the May 1 public holiday, Macron’s office said.

The presidential palace added that Benalla had been suspended for two weeks after the incident came to light and had been transferred out of his job, which was organising security for Macron’s trips.

“This sanction was to punish unacceptable behaviour and it was a final warning before being sacked,” presidential spokesman Bruno Roger-Petit told reporters.

Prosecutors in Paris opened a probe on Thursday into possible charges of violence by a public official, pretending to be a policeman and the illegal use of police insignia.

Benalla was a popular and ever-present member of Macron’s campaign team, usually found several steps behind the then-candidate, and transferred to the presidential staff in May 2017.

Opposition MPs immediately suggested there had been a cover up and questioned why the incident had not been referred to the police when it came to light in May.

“This video is shocking. Today, we have the feeling that in Macron’s entourage, one is above the law. It is obvious that Macron has to speak up about this,” Laurent Wauquiez, president of conservative opposition party Les Républicains told Europe 1 radio.

Socialist Party leader Olivier Faure said there was “a double standard” in how Benalla had been treated compared to any ordinary French citizen.

Alexis Corbière, an MP for the hard-left France Unbowed party, said Benalla “deserves to be punished with a prison sentence, at least a suspended sentence and with very heavy sanctions”.

Supporters of Macron claimed that the punishment handed down to Benalla – suspension without pay for two weeks and a transfer to an administrative job – was appropriate.

In fact le Monde has just reported that the French prosecution service has now opened an inquiry into the incident:

 Le parquet ouvre une enquête visant un collaborateur de Macron

As is the way  Videos of the incident are already freely available.

 

It is astonishing, and outrageous, that Benalla  thought he could get away with this behaviour.

As the person who filmed the incident, Taha Bouhafs, says,

Ça montre que quand on est conseiller d’Emmanuel Macron, on peut tabasser quelqu’un et être mis à pied quinze jours seulement. Est-ce que la sanction aurait été aussi légère si ça n’avait pas été un proche du pration.résident ?

This shows that when you’re an aide to Emmanuel Macron, you can beat up somebody and only get suspended for a fortnight. Would this have been the penalty faced by anybody other than somebody close to the President?

Libération: Agression d’un manifestant par un collaborateur de Macron: «Il l’étrangle et lui met plusieurs coups de poing par derrière»

Written by Andrew Coates

July 19, 2018 at 11:50 am

Trump and the Implosion of Neoliberalism.

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Image result for trump brexit cartoon

“Trump is trying to subvert the political institutions of neoliberal capitalism”

“the neoliberal order continues to implode.” “..Trump has proved to be deadly serious about undermining the post-war liberal international order.”

Alex Callinicos. Darkening prospects. International Socialism. Issue: 159 June 2018

Trump’s chaos tour will unleash far right. Alex Callinicos. 17th of July.

Trump had in his sights precisely the European extreme centre, and more particularly the centre right that currently dominates the European Union (EU).

…….

His attacks on Merkel were semi-orchestrated with the far right governments that have taken office in Europe. They are Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Sebastian Kurz in collaboration with the Nazi Freedom Party in Austria and Matteo Salvini in Italy.

Similarly, Trump’s intervention in the Tory factional struggle over the terms of Brexit was intended to bolster Boris Johnson and other Brexiteers in rebellion against May.

As the Financial Times newspaper put it, “The US president is clearly intent on forming a new kind of transatlantic alliance with insurgent political forces.”

Luckily Johnson is probably too lazy and cowardly to take full advantage of Trump’s support.

But Orbán, Kurz, and Salvini are no clowns. They already have Merkel and other leaders of the European extreme centre such as Emmanuel Macron in a headlock.

The SWP leader continues,

So Trump is trying to subvert the political institutions of neoliberal capitalism on both sides of the Atlantic by promoting the forces of the far right. This is very dangerous.

In the first place, neither he nor his European allies have a real economic alternative to neoliberalism. Their most potent weapon is anti-migrant racism, and the extreme centre is adapting to their demands.

Secondly, Trump is giving confidence to genuinely fascist forces, as we’ve seen on British streets in recent weeks.

Trump has been successful in undermining the “political institutions” of what Callinicos calls ‘neoliberalism’. IN the last week alone he has ridden roughshod over liberal democracy, beginning with all normal forms of inter-state protocol.

He and his allies have equally boosted the European far-right. We just seen this work in the open with Steve Bannon’s support for Tommy Robinson. he has railed about ‘immigration’ in ways that recall Enoch Powell. In his Brexit and Helsinki interventions, it by acting as if his Gang wishes to make real the Russia Today vision of ‘Chaos Europe. Domestically his contempt for his own legal agencies such as the FBI has created unprecedented turmoil.

Iy well be that Trump’s intervention were ‘semi-orchestrated’ (which half we are not clear on) with the European populist right.Whether he will also achieve the weakening of the “extreme centre” is less certain. Callinicos adopts the term from a little read book by Tariq Ali (The Extreme Centre: A Warning 2015, now reissued., It described a period in which a ‘consensus’ of free-market social ‘reforming’ dominated European politics, centre left to centre right, from Germany to the UK. Ali was concerned to rescue the radical left from the ‘sealed tomb’ of this period.

The time of the Extreme Centre is already long past. Ali’s jibes at the “indistinguishable  political elite” have a different, more sour taste, when we realise that  far-right radicals, many with electoral success in their hands, now use that language. But it is not confined to these forces. The intense battles inside Britain’s Conservatives also show the rise of the national-populist right inside the former ‘centre’.

Chancellor Merkel  has shifted clearly to the right, the result of pressure not just from the AfD but the CDU. Some commentators suggest German Christian Democracy  may have its own alliances with the central European populists at hand.

Post World Cup, Macron’s ‘deadlock’, over issues such as EU immigration policy, does not mean that the French president’s wider politics are going to be thwarted by any “semi-orchestration”from outside.

Those who gamble on “Insurgent forces”, such as Italy’s Salvini,  take great risks.

Can a coalition around a populist-nationalist right emerge to dominate Europe?

There are many reasons to doubt such an outcome.

This is not just because (as Callinicos states) they have no economic alternative to neo-liberalism, but because they have no serious economic policies at all.

And, far-right ‘internationals’ – riven with differences too obvious to detail – have proved in the past more ephemeral than any Trotskyist splinter.

How can this be fought?

Alliances against the nationalist-populists (notably without the very pro-Brexit ‘left’ which helps the Trump strategy) can be built but one thing is missing.

We are still without an in-depth  explanation of why the rise of neoliberal “globalisation” is now coming undone.

America has been the global Leader not by acquiring ownership of other sovereign countries, but by being the ‘guardian’ of geopolitical and economic stability. If Trump is not longer a pillar of a world order, if he abandons even the pretence of humanitarianism and human rights in favour of nation state sovereignty, what are the economic drives behind his shift?

One of the main themes of globalisation theory from the 1990s till the financial crash of 2008 is an account of financial, production and distribution flows have become ‘deterrorialised’.

Trump can, provoking serious crises along the way, “re-territorialise” international politics around  what he and his team take to be the interests of the US Homeland.

It remains to be seen how he can bring economics under national political control.

No doubt the sovereigntist left who, rarely in public, but sotto voce, rather admire Trump for standing up for ‘his’ folk against the WTO and globalisation, will also be following this with interest.

Claude Lanzman director of the ‘Shoah’ dies aged 92: A Great Voice for the Just Passes.

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Image result for claude lanzmann france 24

Claude Lanzmann has died in Paris at the age of 92.

Esteemed French journalist, ‘Shoah’ director Claude Lanzmann dies aged 92.

Agence France Press.

laude Lanzmann, the esteemed French journalist and director of the acclaimed Holocaust documentary ‘Shoah’, died at his Paris home on Thursday at the age of 92.

“Claude Lanzmann died at his home. He had been very, very weak for several days,” a spokeswoman for publishing house Gallimard told AFP.

Lanzmann was the chief editor of “Les Temps Modernes”, the ground-breaking literary review founded by philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir after World War II.

Lanzmann was a friend of the philosophers, and famously became involved with De Beauvoir while working as Sartre’s secretary. He was 26 and De Beauvoir was 44.

The golden couple of French intellectual life had a famously open relationship, and enjoyed – and endured – a number of similar love triangles.

Lanzmann went on to make the acclaimed Holocaust documentary ‘Shoah’, the nine-and-a-half hour epic which is, for many, the most haunting film made about the murder of six million Jews during World War II.

The chronicle took Lanzmann 11 years to make and is his best-known work.

Lanzmann was born November 27, 1925 in the Bois-Colombes suburb north of Paris. His Jewish parents immigrated to France from Eastern Europe where they raised Claude, his sister Evelyne, and younger brother Jacques.

His first act of resistance as a Jewish schoolboy in wartime France was to refuse to write an essay in praise of its collaborationist leader Marshal Petain. He later took to the hills to join fighters in central France ambushing German patrols as part of the Mouvement Jeunes Communistes de France (MJCF), a political youth organization close to the French communist party.

Review, 2011.

Le Lièvre de Patagonie. Claude Lanzmann. A Review, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Israel.

Andrew Coates.

Le Lièvre de Patagonie. Claude Lanzmann. Gallimard 2009 (Paperback 2010)

Claude Lanzmann (born 1925) is the director of Shoah (1985), the landmark film on the Holocaust. Against the documentary’s theme of methodically organised death, his title, Le Lièvre de Patagonie, evokes the Hare, a symbol of fertility and renewed life (the original ‘Easter Bunny’). Lanzmann’s book, he states, was written with this animal constantly in mind.

In Shoah while Rudolf Vrba talks off-camera of his escape from the Birkenau extermination camp there is a shot of a hare sliding under the barbed wire. Lanzmann likes the creatures, he respects them as noble, and if there were transmigration of souls he would wish to be reincarnated as one. Glimpsing one of a legendary South American species in his car’s headlights in Patagonia signalled the moment that he felt fully in the land, vrais ensemble (truly together). The hare is a sign of a vital leap to freedom that infuses his own “joie sauvage” (wild happiness). It is this incarnation that constantly springs to Lanzmann’s mind as he unravels this account of his life.

Le Lièvre de Patagonie is a record of Lanzmann’s out-of-the-ordinary intellectual, political and creative career, infused with joy, and sadness. It passes from the youthful résistant, to the culture and commitments that led him to Jean-Paul Sartre, and a “quasi-maritale’ companionship with Simone de Beauvoir (from 1952 to 1959). A contributor from 1952 onwards to Les Temps Modernes (publisher’s site here) he provides an important first-hand account of this review’s active support for anti-colonialism during the Algerian war for independence.

The memories are much more than a record of events; they are an affirmation of his beliefs, and loyalties. Lanzmann’s commitment to Israel, expressed in the partisan documentary Pourquoi Israel (1970) remains at the heart of his being. In Le Monde last year Lanzmann was cited saying that, “Je suis d’autant propalestinien que je suis pro-israélian, et récroproquement” (I am as pro-Palestinian as I am pro-Israeli and the other way around). But there is little doubt that his empathy for the Jewish state marks his recollections the more, making the author a rare living defender of the left’s post-War support for Israel.

Lanzmann does not just feel an affinity, as somebody with a secular-Jewish cultural background, with Israeli people. He considers that he is, despite the intensity of his French culture (to the depths of his prose). He remains “Français de hazard, pas du tout ‘de souche’” – French by chance, not of French stock. (Page 330) The Jews are “mon peuple”.

Visiting the new state in 1948 Lanzmann found that compared to real Israelis, who had their country in their “os et le sang” (bone and blood) he was “un elfe” who weighed nothing. He has always, without Biblical faith, been astonished and full of “admiration” for the Jewish religion (Page 730). Such opinions (and his eulogy  of  Israel’s army in the film Tsahal, 1994), are in Lanzmann’s marrow. To this extent his praise of the Hebrew state’s military is  impossible to forgive or forget.  

La Guillotine.

Lanzmann begins with the words, “La guillotine – plus généralement la peine capitale et les différents modes d’administration de la mort – aura été la grande affaire de ma vie” – the Guillotine – and more widely capital punishment and the different forms of meeting out death – will be the main concern of my life. An adolescent trip to the cinema in the late ‘thirties to see L’affaire du courier de Lyon (under the post-Revolutionary ‘Directory’) was his introduction to the horror of watching an innocent executed. The view of the scaffolding around the  blade, and the fact that the sentence was carried out in public, preoccupied him for months.

Lanzmann is haunted by tortures, by Hitler and Stalin’s mass murders, Goya’s Fusilamentos del 3 de Mayo, and the hostages that Islamists put to death and record like “films pronographiques”. His life was dedicated to standing for right against repression. The national liberation struggle in Algeria was met by French repression, which included the death penalty. Lanzmann and de Beauvoir worked with the lawyer Jacques Vergès to defend the condemned under this threat. He campaigned for the Catalan anarchist, Salvador Puig Antich, condemned by the Caudillo to die by the garrotte in 1974.

This was not just the indignation of the righteous. It was bound to Lanzmann’s own past. Under the Occupation in 1943 while studying at the lycée Blaise-Pascal, at Clermont-Ferrand (in the Auverne) he decided to join the Resistance. He became involved with the Communist Party (PCF). The former school student was soon amongst maquisards in the Haute-Loire, and a member of the FTP (Communist, Francs-tireurs et partisans). For refusing to carry out a suicidal mission – transporting weapons through German controlled areas – the local PCF put him under sentence of death.

Escaping this fate Lanzmann resumed his education in post-war Paris, in the prestigious “hypokhâgne” at Louis-le-Grand (preparatory course for the elite French ‘Grandes écoles’). The PCF were active in the college. Undaunted he approached the secretary of the school’s Communist cell to ask that the “sentence de mort prononcée contre moi par le Parti” be carried out (Page 207) The official, later a well known left Socialist politician, Jean Poperen, did not, on this occasion, as the representative of the Party of the “75,000 shot”, add another number to the total.

There is so much rich detail, often supplied at a tangent with the unities of space, time and action, in Le Lièvre de Patagonie that the linear narrative of Lanzmann’s life is sometimes hard to keep steadily in mind.  There is his troubled family background. There is his period as a proto-academic, enraptured by Sartre’s trilogy, Les Chemins de la liberté (1945), studying Hegel, and so poor he stole books from the shop of the Presses Universitaires de France, to resell – until memorably caught and disgraced.

There is Lanzmannteaching in post-War Berlin at the Freie Universität, where he exposed much of the teaching staff’s unrepentant National Socialism. There is the moving story of his actress sister, Évelyne, who was Gilles Deleuze’s lover, and then, after acting in Sartre’s plays, became his lover, only to later commit suicide in 1966. And there is the meeting with De Beauvoir, le Castor, holidays across Europe, and their political activism.

Little emerges  in Le Lièvre on Les Temps Modernes’ relations with International Communism, or on Sartre’s judgement that a friendly stand towards the PCF was a “means of access” to the French working class. By contrast there are interesting accounts of Lanzmann’s role in the activities of the group around Sartre and de Beauvoir during the Algerian war, which came to dominate the country’s political life during the 1950s. By the end of that decade their alliance with the Algerian fighters for independence, led to what became known as ‘third worldism’. They stood up for anti-colonialism in the hardest conditions, risking their lives to defend Algerian prisoners, and the rights of North Africans. All who has signed the celebrated Manifeste de 121(1960) which called for those conscripted in the French army to refuse to serve in Algeria were under threat. Jobs were lost, and Sartre’s flat was attacked with plastic explosives.

In 1958, with 4 more years of the Algerian war to go, Lanzmann was a journalist (writing for France Dimanche as well as Les Temps Modernes). As a man of the left he, like Sartre and de Beauvoir, made his own pilgrimage to ‘socialist’ lands. He visited North Korea and China as part of an organised delegation (with Western Communist participation). In the land of Juche and “pression stalinienne…effrayante” (fearful Stalinist pressure) Lanzmann had a fleeting contact with a Korean woman, more a Brief Encounter (which he evokes to describe the fleeting tryst) than an affair. China, though more relaxed, offered the less compelling charms of an interview with French-speaking Chen Yi, Foreign Affairs Minister, on the country’s geopolitical strategy.

Third-Worldism.

The Sartre-Beauvoir circle embraced Third-Worldism (though the author of the Second Sex appears never to have been wholly convinced. This was most marked in their relations with the Algerian resistance. While Sartre and de Beauvoir replaced interest in the old Soviet bloc, for Cuba, and in 1960 they did some safe revolutionary tourism there, it was Lanzmann who got closest to its dangerous side.

A small number of people on the French left had worked closely enough with the Algerian revolutionaries, the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) to become “porteurs de valises” (carrying arms for them). While far from engaged in the armed struggle Lanzmann met the FLN in person, in its Tunisian bases. It was there that he encountered Franz Fanon, the renowned theorist of anti-colonialism (and today largely, if remembered, largely appropriated by Anglophone ‘post-colonial’ studies).

Sartre would write the Preface, as Fanon requested, for The Wretched of the Earth (1964). He asserted that “The native cures himself of colonial neurosis by thrusting out the settler through force of arms” “For in the first days of the revolt you must kill; to shoot down a European is to kill two birds with one stone, to destroy an oppressor and the man he oppresses with one stone”. That is, the, highly contestable, claim that the physical fight for freedom is the route to cathartic self-assertion.

Despite his unwavering anti-colonialism Fanon seemed equally aware of the FLN’s internal disputes, the occasion for a different kind of catharsis, a purging of emotions onto any human object to hand. These were, he alluded to Lanzmann, were ferocious, though “secret”. His interlocutor sensed that the Martinique himself “connaissait la peur” (knew fear) (Page 492). With good reason, Lanzmann observes. The FLN and its supporters, not to mention ordinary Algerians, were the victims of a terrifying level of repression, with 500,000 troops at under French command, and special units prepared to use torture, while the French Algerian ultras, in the Organisation Armée Secrète (OAS) rained down terror against all Maghrebin rebels (including those on the French left deemed supportive of them).

The Algerian National Liberation Front, (FLN) and its army’s (ALN) cadres were responsible for extreme acts of violence against their nationalist opponents (the Mouvement pour le triomph des libertés démocratiques, MTLD) and civilian critics. They suffered from vicious quarrels inside the apparatus, and readily resorted to force to settle disputes. On top of this were rivalries between clans, and ethnic groups, Arabs and Kabyles. The reality showed that violence was not a vehicle for liberation and therapy.

For Lanzmann, however, the need to back the struggle meant a self-imposed silence (with an eye to possible FLN reaction). He therefore kept information about the use of terror inside the liberation movement to himself. He wrote nothing, and said nothing (Page 501). One must say however that Simone de Beauvoir in 1963 did not hesitate to cite Fanon’s allusions to “les dissensions, les intrigues, les liquidations, les oppositions…” without seeming bound by a revolutionary omerta, even if she gave no details. (La force des choses. Vol ll.) An element of religious conservatism, including support for polygamy, was already manifesting itself.

After Independence in 1962 there were retributions against real and alleged collaborators with the French that exceeded France’s 1945 épurations. The socialist aspects of the Algerian revolution did not last long. The FLN’s military wing, under Boumediene, soon took charge of an independent nation and laid the foundations for an authoritarian state run for the benefit of its rulers and their clients.

Lanzmann barely touches on this: he is more concerned that early promises of friendship (by a certain Captain Bouteflika) with Israel were not kept. An Independent Algeria announced that it would send 100,000 men to liberate Palestine. As a sign of the times, Fanon’s widow had re-married, to a militant anti-Israeli, whose views she adopted to the extent of wanting Sartre’s famous Preface to The Wretched of the Earth suppressed, – after the philosopher had signed a 1967 petition, following the 6 Day War backing Israel. The balance-sheet was not positive, “Je croyais qu’on pouvait vouloir en même temps l’indepéndence de l’Algérie et l’existence de l’État d’Israël. Je m’étais trompé.”(Page 505) – I believed one could wish for an independent Algeria and the existence of the Israeli state at the same time. I was wrong.

Israel and 68.

For years Lanzmann was convinced, despite his own experience of the French Communist Party’s cynicism and treachery during the 2nd World War, and what he knew at the time (still less at present) about the dark-side of Stalinism, that the USSR was “le ciel sur ma tête” – the sky over my head (Page 546) That this gradually evaporated seems less significant, as we have just indicated, than what he saw massing against Israel. That was a real menace: to destroy the Jewish state.

It is forgotten today that many on the left shared Lanzmann’s views in the late sixties. In 1967 he edited a special issue of Les Temps Modernes where Arabs and Jews debated with relative good-will. Sartre, during the Six Day war, and the Yom Kipper war, backed Israel. Sartre naturally is better remembered for another standpoint. During his period of close association with the Mao-Spontex Gauche Prolétarienne (GP), he became pro-Palestinian. As Lanzmann notes, with regret, the ageing thinker wrote in La Cause du Peuple a strident defence of the Munich massacre, saying that “Dans cette guerre, la seule arme dont disposent les Palestiniens est le terrorisme.” – the only arm which the Palestinians have at their disposal is terrorism. (Page 573)

Lanzmann attempts to explain, and even to explain away, Sartre’s violent streak. He notes that Sartre’s Preface to The Wretched of the Earth, which outdid Fanon’s psychological justification of aggression, appears to have been an exercise in “philosophie concrète” (concrete philosophy) and conceptual clarity Which seems a roundabout way of saying he didn’t really mean to endorse mass killings and cruelty in any form. As evidence, Lanzmann claims that there were some concrete limits Sartre posed to European terrorism.

Lanzmann believes that it was largely Sartre’s influence that prevented the French far-left from passing to full-scale terrorism on the German or Italian model (Page 575), though in fact, a small group did travel in this direction, and became the 1980s band, Action Directe. It’s true, he indicates, that Algeria has seen a state and society long bathed in “le sang des innocents” (the blood of innocents). It’s also the case that post-Munich, nationalist Palestinian terrorism has been supplanted by Islamist mass murder. This, and the US-led armed interventions the world over, illustrate that violence is a spiral not a release.

One wonders how far one push responsibility for this acceleration of ferocity, or its dampening it down, onto any philosopher, however cretinous or emollient his rhetoric may be. Like Fanon’s assertion that FLN fighters were busy absorbing Sartre’s Critique de la raison dialectique (Page 493), to make such claims is to use arguments of an astonishing légèrté.

One will not find much in Le Lièvre on the controversy surrounding Sartre’s secretary, and one-time GP supporter, Benny Lévy. De Beauvoir had her say in La Cérémonie des Adieux (1981). Whether the future Talmudic student determined the utterances of the Universal Intellectual or not, without his influence it hard to see how Sartre moved from this ultra-revolutionary stance to his support for the 1979 ‘Boat for Vietnam’ campaign – to save people from Vietnamese Communism. It is hard perhaps to see Lanzmann seizing the spirit that drove the Gauche Prolétarienne, from strident ultra-leftism to the anti-communist (with a small ‘c’) apostasy of many of its leading figures, in the first place.

May 68, the French gauchistes’ genitor, Lanzmann witnessed from the “extérieur”. He was an outsider from another generation (Page 570). More than that he appears never to have seized the fact that Sartre’s philosophy, even in its Marxisante form in the Critique de la raison dialectique (written 1956 – 8) had been become not just unfashionable, but unintelligible to much of the post-68 left. While the novels, literary criticism and some of the plays (Les jeux sont faits, 1947 and Les mains sales, 1948)are as bright as new pennies, Sartre’s philosophy has not worn well. The focus of the memoirs shifts completely away from talking about disgreeable topics.

Lanzmann as the ‘sixties ended had begun to be more and more concerned with one thing: defending Israel. He recounts how he came to produce the film Pourquoi Israel (with no question mark). This work continues to cause controversy. Having never seen the picture it is impossible to judge the description in Le Lièvre. Yet, according to the author, it was the spring-board for one of the last century’s greatest documented oral history, Shoah.

Researching, filming and producing Shoah was exceptionally arduous. The film consists of interviews, people left to speak for themselves as participants and witnesses of the greatest genocide of the 20th century. It aims to indicate those who were slaughtered, to show their traces, to hear the echo of their voices. It would be no exaggeration to say that the screening of the nine and a half  hour long documentary mediation on the Holocaust, which took place on British television some years back, was a major political and ethical event. As a measure of its impact the Biblical and Rabbanic word Shoah, catastrophe, disaster, extermination, used to describe the Holocast, has passed into current usage in many languages. Given the enormity of what it refers to it would be better for the pages of Le Lièvre de Patagonie to speak for themselves than to be described here.

The shattering experience of producing Shoah gives an edge to what is already for many a defining moment in their understanding of the Endlösung. After De Beauvoir’s death Lanzmann finally became the Editor of Sartre’s old journal (1986) marking another significant moment in an exceptional biography.

A Major Biographical Memoir.

Claude Lanzmann’s classical prose provides a luminous structure to a complex biography. Le Lièvre de Patagonie is beautifully wrought, and offers a description of that part of the French left which gravitated around Les Temps Modernes. It sheds light on some of the key moments of modern French political and intellectual history, the ideas, relationships, culture and feelings of the circle around Sartre and de Beauvoir, above all their participation in the campaign in support of Algerian independence. For these reasons alone it is of outstanding importance.

Less compellingly the book tries to present a case for Israel. It is unlikely to convince those (like myself) who are, while reluctant to be ‘anti’ Israelis, see little admirable in a state with a confessional, ultimately ethnic, basis. Not everyone has a strong urge to feel a part of a national “souche” (stock). Lanzmann’s passionate beliefs and emotional tissue cannot cloud critical judgement. States are to be judged on political not affective grounds. On democratic, military and human rights criteria Israel is severely wanting. One is equally unmoved by its description of the politics of Les Temps Modernes. As with the declaration of love for Israel, it does not convert those unable to fall under an emotional spell.

For all the beauty of Le Lièvre de Patagonie, on this matter at least, one could say that the Lanzmann’s retrospective gaze casts little light on such heat.

A tribute, a bibliography and a filmography appears on the site of Lanzmann’s publisher, Éditions Gallimard.

Disparition de Claude Lanzmann.

Disparition de Claude Lanzmann

Guardian:  Claude Lanzmann obituary

Director of Shoah, the epic film about the Holocaust presented through individual testimony

Fragmentation of the French Left: Génération.s, ( Benoît Hamon, former Socialist presidential Candidate) holds its first Conference.

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Benoît Hamon: “le mouvement anti-identitaire.”

Benoît Hamon stood as the candidate for the French Socialist Party (PS) and the ‘belle alliance populaire’ in the 2017 Presidential elections. He was selected by a Primary, in which 2 013 743 people voted in the final run off. Hamon’s victory momentarily gave a ray of hope for the party. His Pour la Génération Qui Vient (2017) promised to free the land from the “liberal nightmare” and to launch a “democratic awakening”, Citizens’ Initiatives, and a  human centred approach to the technological revolution. Apart from green policies, he advocated Universal Basic Income.

In the contest Hamon received a humiliating 6,36 % of the vote. In the following contest for Parliament he lost his seat in Yvelines, eliminated in the first round with only 22,59 %.

Critics of his campaign, such as PS Secretary Jean-Christophe Cambadélis criticised his  “solitary” campaign, which was unable to bring together people outside of his circle, and not even talking about the world of work – that is appealing to trade union support. The winner of the PS Primary snubbed his own party. Hamon, he said wanted to be the leader of an alternative alliance of the left of the Socialists with the Greens and acting accordingly. (Chronique d’une Débâcle. 2012 – 2017. Jean-Christophe Cambadélis. L’Archipel. 2017.)

With Hamon’s “Green Party” campaign, you got,  Cambadélis said, a “Green Party score (“campagne d’écologiste, score d’écologiste” Page 111)

The Socialists  suffered deep depression after many of their members and allies left to back Emmanuel Macron (his ‘treason’ still rankles with François Hollande). Those with some will to continue are torn into mutually recriminating factions, and have only 30 MPs.

Hamon and his allies created their own party. Most of the Young Socialists ( MJS) joined as well as former MPs, and councillors from the left of the PS.

Wikipedia has a useful entry in English,

Génération.s, le mouvement (English: Generation.s, the movement) is a French political party created on 1 July 2017[2] by Benoît Hamon who, according to its founder, aims to “Refound and gather the left”[3] in France. Sometimes rendered Géneration(s) or Génération·s, it was formerly named Mouvement du 1er Juillet (1st July Movement), and has also been known by the short name M1717.

Its foundation follows the sharp decline of the Socialist Party in the 2017 presidential election, where Benoît Hamon was a candidate, and the legislative elections, in which he lost his seat as a deputy.

The movement presents itself as an initiative to assemble the forces of the left in France.[3] The political ideologies it supports are European federalism, ecosocialism, and democratic socialism.[4]

The new party claims to have 60 000 members and a thousand or so local committees.

But their profile in national politics is uncertain.

The weekend Convention, attended by up to 1500  activists  discussed alliances with Yanis Varoufakis, and the DIEM25 for the next European elections. Negotiations with what remains of the French Green party, the EELV., have not gone well. La France insoumise, engaged in its own battle for ‘hegemony’ on the left, under the leadership of  JeanLuc Mélenchon were sniffy. But the genial leader has now offered a “pact of non-aggression”. Which is very kind of him.

The  response from Hamon’s side, whose target is not hard to guess, made mention of not aligning with “ left-wing nationalism” (le Monde)

There is talk of an agreement with the PS… (Après un an d’existence, Génération.s cherche sa place à gauche).

In the meantime Hamon’s party has called for a new ‘humanist’ response to populism and the politics of identity, “ On veut être le mouvement anti-identitaire » his right hand man, Guillaume Balas has stated. (Génération.s cherche un nouveau souffle « humaniste »)

More information:  Le Manifeste de Génération·s.

Discours de Benoît Hamon à la convention nationale de Génération•s le 1er juillet 2018