Archive for the ‘Marxism’ Category
Nothing to say on how to fight Marine Le Pen at 41% ( +1).
France 24 reports,
Far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon forfeited the opportunity to play kingmaker on Sunday night by declining to back centrist (and onetime banker) Emmanuel Macron over anti-immigration europhobe Marine Le Pen in the run-off on May 7.
Heady with the 7 million votes he scored in Sunday’s first round – or disappointed that he fell only 618,609 short of beating Le Pen to a spot in the presidential run-off – Mélenchon took no clear stand on election night, leaving his voters to hash out their choice for May 7 online. Third-place finisher François Fillon, of the conservative Les Républicains party, and Socialist candidate Benoît Hamon both used their concession speeches on Sunday to immediately back Macron for the presidency.
However, Mélenchon’s Unsubmissive France (France insoumise) movement launched a voter “consultation” he promised on its website on Tuesday evening. It gives the 450,000 supporters who signed up on the platform before 10pm on April 23 – when Mélenchon gave his speech, and two hours after polls closed – a chance to express their choices among three options: voting a blank ballot, voting Macron or abstaining. Pointedly, voting Le Pen is not provided as an option “because it is clear to us that the National Front is a danger for the workforce”, Mélenchon spokesman Alexis Corbière explained on Wednesday.
The straw poll will continue until next Tuesday at noon, after which the results will be announced. But Unsubmissive France said on Wednesday that Mélenchon himself would not make public how he will vote personally, even after the results of the survey are released.
A sensation who rose like a shot in polls in the month before the first round, Mélenchon managed the feat of relegating the Socialist candidate to an also-ran. A former Socialist himself who cut ties with the party in 2008 to establish his own movement farther to the left, Mélenchon scored more than three times more votes than Hamon, largely on the back of two charismatic TV debate performances on March 20 and April 4. In those clashes, the 65-year-old political veteran came off as lively, confident, witty and frank. The contrast between his showman flourishes then and his post-election-night silence now is jarring.
Calls to abstain
Mélenchon voters have taken to social media to air their misgivings about voting for Macron, a onetime banker and economy minister under Socialist President François Hollande who quit last year to mount his own independent presidential bid. Many, using the hashtag #sansmoile7mai (“May 7 without me”) have said they simply cannot vote for “le capitaliste” Macron, even against Le Pen; they would rather cast a blank ballot or abstain.
This position, whose ambiguities we have already outlined is opposed to that of whole trade union movement. All of the union federations have called for a vote against Le Pen and the National Front on Sunday May 7. The CGT, Force Ouvriere, Solidaires, the CFDT, FSU and even the Christian CFTC, which only once before, in 2002, have all called on their members to ‘stop the National Front’.
The left, the PCF, Ensemble (in a rather contorted fashion, no doubt to avoid offending the Great Man), and the French Socialists have also done so.
Not everybody in La France insoumise is happy with the silence of the Man of Destiny.
Mélenchon’s stand has raised a storm of protest on the left which has been reflected inside the rally itself.
Un militant de la France insoumise s’indigne de la non-prise de position de Jean-Luc Mélenchon contre Marine Le Pen.
This demands that Mélenchon takes off the Red Triangle, sign of solidarity with victims of the Nazi, from his label.
Four Way Race in French Presidential Election: Jean-Luc Mélenchon neck-to-neck with François Fillon.
Video Game, “Fiscal Kombat“: Mélenchon versus Socialist Party Tax Evader Cahuzac.
France 24 reports, “Jean-Luc Mélenchon neck-to-neck, or even ahead, of conservative candidate François Fillon.”
The Independent states,
The first round in the French presidential election could turn into a four-way contest, after a leftist candidate’s unexpected surge in the polls.
Mr Melenchon gained one percentage point in the daily Ifop-Fiducial poll, putting him at 18 per cent, while Mr Fillon was stable at 18.5 per cent.
The Independent points to this,
Ms Le Pen has drawn protests from her election rivals bydenying the French state’s responsibility for a mass arrest of Jews in Paris during the Second World War.
Her comments appeared at odds with years of efforts to make her once-pariah National Front (FN) more palatable to mainstream voters.
“I think France isn’t responsible for the Vel d’Hiv,” Ms Le Pen said, referring to the Nazi-ordered roundup by French police in the Velodrome d’Hiver cycling stadium of 13,000 Jews, who were then deported to Auschwitz concentration camp in July 1942.
“I think that, in general, if there are people responsible, it is those who were in power at the time. It is not France,” she said in an interview with media groups Le Figaro, RTL and LCI.
Other polls give Mélenchon 18% and Fillon 17%.
The left socialist, and anti-‘Third Way’ candidate of the Parti Socialiste, Benoît Hamon, is now below 10% in the opinion polls.
With an audience of 70,000 in Marseilles on Sunday Jean-Luc Mélenchon spoke of peace and in defence of “métissage” (cultural and ethnic mixing). He called a minute’s silence to respect those who have drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe (A Marseille, Mélenchon à bon port)
Meanwhile Macron’s latest backer is unlikely to bring him much joy:
Will Submit Young People to Re-introduction of National Service.
As Jean-Luc Mélenchon rises in the French opinion polls with the latest even putting the leader of La France insoumise 19%, neck and neck (Un sondage donne Jean-Luc Mélenchon et François Fillon à égalité dans les intentions de vote) with the scandal-riven right-wing candidate, he is attracting a lot of new support.
One is of particular interest.
The veteran extreme right group, Action française (that is, the group which continues to identify with the organisation), has called to vote for a Presidential candidate who will help Frexit, (on the model of Brexit) (1).
Action française appelle à voter, au premier tour, pour un des quatre candidats – Asselineau, Dupont-Aignan, Le Pen ou Mélenchon.
« Frexit ! » est le mot d’ordre qui doit présider au choix de tout patriote. C’est pourquoi, considérant que seuls les peuples libres peuvent décider du sens qu’ils donnent à leur histoire, l’Action française appelle à voter, au premier tour, pour un des quatre candidats – Asselineau, Dupont-Aignan, Le Pen ou Mélenchon – qui se prononcent pour une dénonciation des traités européens existants, tout en privilégiant ceux qui envisagent clairement la sortie de l’Union européenne et le retour au franc.
Frexit, that’s the guiding line which must guide the choice of every patriot. That’s why, considering that only free people can decide their own history, Action française calls for a vote, in the first round, for one of these four candidates, Asselineau, Dupont-Aignan, Le Pen or Mélenchon, who have denounced existing European treaties, giving priority amongst them to those who have clearly called for France to leave the Europe Union and for the return of the Franc.
Mélenchon is not responsible for this recommendation from the ultra-nationalist and racist far-right.
Indeed he has gone out of this way to deny that he is a nationalist.
« Mme Le Pen et moi sommes séparés par le fait qu’elle ne croit pas à la nation républicaine comme moi. Elle croit à la préférence nationale. Je ne suis pas un nationaliste, je suis un patriote, ça n’a rien à voir. Je propose le protectionnisme solidaire. Je négocie avec les autres pays, je ne m’enferme pas. Je ne crois pas à la nation ethnique. Un Français sur quatre a un grand-parent étranger.
Madame Le Pen and myself are separated by the fact that she does not believe in the Republican Nation as I do. She believes in ‘national preference’. I am not a nationalist, I am a patriot, something quite different. I propose protectionism based on solidarity. I will negotiate with other countries, and will not cut myself off from them. I don’t believe in an ethically based nations. One French person out of four has a foreign grandparent.
Those who look at his proposal for a compulsory 9 month ‘citizens’ service for the under 25s, including military training, will have little doubt that he is indeed a French ‘patriot’.
This is a key proposal of La France insoumise: a return to national service.
Créer un service citoyen obligatoire pour les femmes et pour les hommes, par conscription, avant 25 ans proche du lieu de vie, en limitant le casernement aux fonctions qui l’exigent réellement. D’une durée totale de 9 mois, comprenant une formation militaire initiale incluant un droit à l’objection de conscience, rémunéré au Smic, affecté à des tâches d’intérêt général
The creation of a compulsory citizens service for the everybody under 25, by conscription, this will take place near to their homes, limiting quartering in barracks to functions which really require this. It will last 9 months, with an introductory military training – to which the right of consciousness objection is recognised, and will be paid at the minimum wage, and will consist of community work of public utility.
Other candidates also propose similar measures. Marine Le Pen offers a minimum 3 months military service, and Emmanuel Macron, a short period of national service, structured by the army and the gendarmarie.
The Socialist Candidate, Benoît Hamon, has called compulsory schemes ‘paternalist’, inefficient, and unwanted by the armed forces.
There is already a national and voluntary “service civique” for the under-25, in which up to 100, 000 people have participated.
In the eyes of people in many countries the idea of returning to a form of national service looks, frankly, bizarre, flag-waving, and.. nationalist.
Latest opinion polls summary (from Stephan).
Le Pen (Far-Right) 23% ↓
Macron (Centrist, Pro-EU) 23% ↓
Melenchon (Left-Wing, Souverainism) 19%↑
Fillon (Conservative) 19%↑
Hamon ( Parti Socialiste) 8.5%↓
Dupont-Aignan (Right-wing, Souverainism) 3.5% ↓
Poutou (Far-left) 1.5%↑
Arthaud (Far-left, Trotskyism) 1% =
Lassalle (Centrist) 1% =
Asselineau (Souverainism, Euroscepticism) 0.5% =
Cheminade (Souverainism, Conspiracy Theory) 0.5%↓
(1) “The AF movement still exists as the monarchist and anti-European Union “Centre royaliste d’Action française” and publishes a magazine called Action française 2000. Its leader was Pierre Pujo (Maurice Pujo’s son), who died in Paris on 10 November 2007. The student movement, called Action française étudiante, has approximately 15 local delegations (in places such as Paris, Normandy, Rennes, Bordeaux, and Forez) and a newspaper, Insurrection. Its President is Oliver Perceval.” Wikipedia.
“En octobre 2011, le CRAF, ainsi que l’AFE, prennent une part importante dans des manifestations contre une pièce de théâtre jugée christianophobe250, Sul concetto di volto nel Figlio di Dio (« Sur le concept du visage du Fils de Dieu ») du dramaturge et metteur en scène italien Romeo Castellucci, puis participent à la « marche contre la christianophobie » qui suit251.
L’AF entretien des relations de grande proximité avec le Printemps français. En 2013, dans le cadre de La Manif pour tous, le secrétaire général du mouvement, Olivier Perceval produit une tribune proclamant la création du Printemps français à la suite de laquelle le mouvement apparaît effectivement252. L’Action française revendique la formation de cadres de Printemps français, ce qui se vérifie sur le terrain ou les dirigeants régionaux de l’AF y sont souvent impliqués253. À la fin des mouvements de La Manif pour tous, le Printemps français sert de succursale de recrutement pour l’AFE en prenant le nom de Printemps royal254. Le Printemps royal tient en 2014 un cortège à la manifestation Jour de colère du 26 janvier.
Depuis le mouvement fait parler de lui à de nombreuses reprises, faits dénoncés par Edwy Plenel, le directeur de Mediapart : « L’Action française. Ce laboratoire idéologique de la réaction, hélas non dénué de talent, qui poursuit son travail de subversion255. » Jean-Yves Camus pour sa part constate dans La Provence « une nouvelle génération plus activiste et tapageuse »256.
L’AF fait l’objet de menaces de morts régulières : en 2013 une grenade explose dans les locaux parisiens, en septembre 2015 une grenade et des balles d’AK-47 sont scotchées sur la porte des locaux marseillais257,258.
“There is a blind refusal to see that a people’s Brexit provides a genuine opportunity for workers to gain confidence, challenge a weak and divided Tory government and elect a left-wing Labour government empowered to see through its socialist commitments.”
This Monday, 13 March, the Commons will vote on a Labour amendment to the Article 50 bill to guarantee the right of EU citizens to remain in the UK.
The Tories will use any excuse to scapegoat migrants to divide communities and deflect from their own damaging policies. This is a choice between a society for the few who will use the current crisis to justify their position and a society for the many which recognises the vital and important contributions migrants make to the country. Whether we want to remain in the EU or not, we demand the right to remain and freedom of movement for everybody.
We must show our support as this important issue goes back to the Commons. Join the emergency demonstration at Parliament from 5.30pm on Monday evening.
The government must guarantee the rights of EU nationals to remain in the UK.
In the latest New Left Review Perry Anderson discusses President Trump.
He includes these comments on ‘populism’ in Europe and the Brexit vote.
In the Old World, the principal reason why populism of the right typically outpaces populism of the left is widespread fear of immigration; and the principal reason why this has not carried it to power is greater fear of economic retribution if the euro—detested as an instrument of austerity and loss of sovereignty though it may be—were not just denounced, as it is by populisms of the right and left alike, but actually discarded. In the UK alone, though nowhere near forming a government, a populism of the right did achieve, in the referendum on British membership of the EU, a score exceeding even Trump’s.
The victory of Brexit, Trump announced from the start, was an inspiration for his own battle in the US. What light does it throw on the unexpected outcome of the election in 2016? Fear of mass immigration was whipped up relentlessly by the Leave campaign, as elsewhere in Europe. But in Britain too, xenophobia on its own is by no means enough to outweigh fear of economic meltdown. If the referendum on the EU had just been a contest between these two fears, as the political establishment sought to make it, Remain would have no doubt won by a handsome margin, as it did in the referendum on Scottish independence in 2014.
Over-determining the contest, however, were three further factors.
After Maastricht, the British political class declined the straitjacket of the euro, only to pursue a native brand of neo-liberalism more drastic than any on the continent: first, the financialized hubris of New Labour, plunging Britain into banking crisis before any other country of Europe, then a Conservative-Liberal administration of a draconian austerity without any endogenous equal in the EU. Economically, the results of this combination stand alone. No other European country has been so dramatically polarized by region, between a bubble-enclosed, high-income metropolis in London and the south-east, and an impoverished, deindustrialized north and north-east: zones where voters could feel they had little to lose in voting for Leave, a more abstract prospect than ditching the euro, come what may to the City and foreign investment. Fear counted for less than despair.
Under the largely interchangeable Labour and Conservative regimes of the neo-liberal period, voters at the bottom end of the income pyramid deserted the polls in droves. But suddenly granted, for once, the chance of a real choice in a national referendum, they returned to them in force, voter participation in depressed regions jumping overnight, delivering their verdict on desolations of both. At the same time, no less important in the result, came the historical difference separating Britain from the continent. The country was not only for centuries an empire dwarfing any European rival, but one that unlike France, Germany, Italy or most of the rest of the continent, never suffered defeat, invasion or occupation in either World War. So expropriation of local powers by a bureaucracy in Belgium was bound to grate more severely than elsewhere: why should a state that twice saw off the might of Berlin submit to petty meddling from Luxemburg or Brussels? Issues of identity could more readily trump issues of interest than in any other part of the EU. So the normal formula—fear of economic retribution outweighs fear of alien immigration—failed to function as elsewhere, bent out of shape by a combination of economic despair and national amour-propre.
Put slightly differently, hatred of foreigners, it was the memory, and the real trace, of imperial grandeur, government cuts and people pissing themselves with loathing of ‘Brussels’ that fueled the Leave Vote.
I will leave it to supporters of the erudite Anderson to explain how exactly “endogenous austerity”, a feeling of having “nothing to lose”, led to the vote to Leave, without the first and last (both ‘foreign’) factors condensing into the far from ‘floating signifier’ of Brussels. That was, apparently, crystallised in a “real choice” in the ballot box, though to do what it far from clear.
Oddly comrade Anderson makes no mention of his own, far from brief, writings on how loathsome the Belgium based EU administration is, the architect of a ‘Neo-Hayekian’ neo-liberal order, its prebends and hangers-on, “more opaque than the Byzantine, the European Union continues to baffle observers and participants alike.”
Or indeed that,
The EU is now widely seen for what it has become: an oligarchic structure, riddled with corruption, built on a denial of any sort of popular sovereignty, enforcing a bitter economic regime of privilege for the few and duress for the many.
Perry Anderson. The Greek Debacle. 27.3.15.
It might appear that the focus of the “populism of the right”, against this structure, is, in Anderson’s judgement, justified.
Which leads us to ask: did Anderson back the vote to Leave?
And what would be his recipe for regaining control from the ‘oligarchs’ (not a term which he defines, let alone relates to anything resembling Marxist concepts of class and power blocs).
There is little doubt that the ‘left’ Brexiters, the ‘Lexiters’, agreed with Anderson’s description of the EU ‘oligarchy’ and many were more than forthright in affirming their own ideas of how to restore “popular sovereignty”, in not sovereignty tout court.
One wing drew their own sense of ‘amour-propre’.
The ‘workers’, apparently, free of the neo-liberal EU, would, as Trade Unions Against the EU asserted, “gain confidence” and …through challenges, “elect a left wing Labour Government”… now no doubt able to exercise a fuller ‘sovereignty’.
But first they have to get there….
For the Socialist Party, “anger felt by millions of working class people at the decimation of their living standards, jobs and services has searched for an outlet, and over many years there hasn’t been a mass socialist alternative to channel it. The Socialist Party predicted that the EU referendum would be used by many as a weapon against the Tory government.”
Only give the Socialist Party the arms and they’ll finish the job…..
Others on the People’s Brexit side unchained their wild hopes on upsetting of the EU capitalist apple-cart without a clue about anything more than the immediate effect of Leave.
For some these dreams were, briefly, realised.
As the Editor of Anderson’s New Left Review, Susan Watkins, put it, ” Critics of the neoliberal order have no reason to regret these knocks to it, against which the entire global establishment—Obama to Abe, Merkel to Modi, Juncker to Xi—has inveighed.
Or as Tariq Ali put it finely, he was pleased, “that the majority of British voters gave the EU “a big kick in its backside.”
This has not happened.
Trump came, neo-liberalism is mutating into new, capitalist, potentially protectionist, forms, xenophobia got worse, and Labour is not, let’s be tactful, in a position to offer a new Socialist government.
The ruling Tory party has been strengthened, homegrown austerity has got worse, and few would say that the cost of Brexit is going to be small, for workers who are part of ‘globalised’ cricuits, the ‘left behind’ and all who rely on public services.
Although Lord Islington Ali’s bubble may be as happy as he is at their spiteful gesture, many people on the left, who cherish the internationalist ideals of a Social Europe are decidedly not.
For those who give advice to the political class the reality of Brexit is about to hit hard:
No more baggy rhetoric about sovereignty and “taking back control”. From now on, those who got us into this situation have to show they can get us out intact by March 2019.
From those who give advice to the left:
There was a strong xenophobic and reactionary current in the Leave vote, but also a more politically ambiguous desire to give two fingers to Britain’s ruling elite. The most sensible course for the British left is to try and build bridges between those who opposed Brexit and those who voted for it without embracing the full platform of UKIP, the Tory right, and the Daily Mail.
It is generous of Finn to advocate hands across the divide, and the People’s Assembly (that is, the pro-Brexit groupuscule, Counterfire), to follow this up at a grassroots level by calling for people to join with them to protest against the consequences of their Leave vote.
But for many of us, not least the young people who voted to Remain (75% of 18- to 24-year-olds), and who find it beyond bizarre that any ‘left’ force could back turning the UK into a free-market rat-hole led by those intent on sucking up to Mr Brexit, President Trump, it is hard to see why we should support the tattred remnants of the People’s Brexit.
No amount of symbolical protests is going to change this.
Just to give a flavour…
Both the Lexit Left and the Corbynista Left are arguing that socialists should ‘respect’ the Brexit vote. This argument is false. It is a betrayal of every migrant worker whose status has been threatened by the vote. And it is a massive concession to the racist discourse for which Brexit is now the primary framework.
Brexit is being implemented by a hard-right Tory regime that offers permanent austerity, decaying public services, grotesque greed at the top, and mounting poverty and despair at the base. And the clinch-point – in relation to Brexit – is immigration control. May is peddling hard racism as cover for hard austerity.
The EU offers four freedoms of movement – of investment, goods, services, and people. The first three need not concern us because investment, goods, and services are controlled by capital, not us. The key issue at stake for working people is the right of free movement.
As Neil says,
“We do not ‘respect’ the vote: we denounce it and we shout our denunciation from the rooftops.”