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The Crisis of Left Populism in France.

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Left Wing Populism Faces French Crisis.

The End of “left-wing Populism”?

On the 11th of May Jean-Luc Mélenchon presided in Marseille over one of his many public rallies. This was one had a new angle. On the 11th of May he had invited the principal ‘left populist’ parties in Europe. An alliance, under the name of Maintenant le Peuple, claiming to be a European Citizens’ Revolution, was backed by his own “point de ralliement”, La France insoumise (LFI), Podemos, the Portuguese left bloc, the Bloco, and parties of the Swedish, Danish and Finish radical left. The immediate plan (while awaiting the “révolution citoyenne en Europe”), was to restructure the left in the European Parliament, inside the GUE/NGL. (See: Elections européennes : La France insoumise, chronique d’un désastre annoncé )

Last Sunday’s European elections saw the Continent’s radical left go from 52 MEPs to 41. Nowhere were the ambitions of the new alliance less answered than in France. Mélenchon’s list led (after considerable internal rumblings about its make-up) by Manon Aubry got 6,3% – below the objective of 11% and well short of Mélenchon’s Presidential score in 2017 of 19, 58 %. Just above the Parti Socialiste-Place Publique list led by 6,2% LFI was well behind the French Green EELV at 13,5%. LFI now has 5 MEPs, EELV 10. 

“No self criticism!” (Ne pas faire de auto-critique) was heard from the movement on the evening as these results came through. This was, predictably, not followed. LFI MP, Clémentine Autain, with an independent base in the bloc of left groupings, Ensemble, made a very public intervention in Le Nouvel Observateur (Clémentine Autain tire les leçons des Européennes).

She observed that La France insoumise was backed by 36% of its voters in 2017 while 57% of Macron’s supporters from that year chose his list and 78% of Marine Le Pen’s have voted for the Rassemblement National. Their “political capital” had been severely eroded.

There was no official response, although Manon Aubry  registered her movement’s activists’ hard work and disappointment, while stating that LFI had still shown that it anchored itself on the political scene. (Déclaration de Manon Aubry)

Clémentine Autain

How had this come about? Autain questioned the left populist strategy of dividing the people into an “us” and the “elites”, including intellectuals and the media. They had built walls rather than bridges. The deputy observed that Mélenchon had railed against those who’d supported a petition to support migrants, while he had let a sovereigntist wing, increasingly nationalist, best known for François Cocq et Djordje Kuzmanovic, off with mild rebukes. That is, until one of them, Andrea Kotarac, made an open appeal to vote for Marine le Pen. This did not show difficulties about the internal democracy of the LFI – a point few would ignore. It shied away from the need not the rebuild the old union of the left but to bring together “le peuple sur une base de gauche “, the people on a left-wing basis.

There are those who claim that LFI lost out by dropping the more forceful aspects of its ‘populism’, their journey from celebrating the Brexit vote (which did not go unnoticed amongst the internationalist anti-Brexit left in the UK), to an ever-increasingly watered down demand to ‘renegotiate’ EU treaties eroded support. Others point to his ill-judged ‘war’ with the media, the hysterical reaction to an investigation into their use of EU funds, his “command and control” approach to his movement (” le but du mouvement de la France insoumise n’est pas d’être démocratique mais collectif”), the feeble participation in its “on line” votes, and  Mélenchon’s irksome traits, above all his tendency to attack in all directions at once. LFI, some estimate looking at internal party consultation rates rather than the massive 500,000 click supporters, may be effectively total 20,000 activists, at most.

In Le Monde yesterday Manuel Cervera-Marcel listed the ‘left populist’ strategy, designed to replace the social democratic and neo-liberal left. Citing Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe’s approach, for the author it claims to replace the old left/right division by the “people versus the oligarchy”. These parties have a charismatic leader to incarnate the ‘people’ runs parties. They claim to give a voice (‘articulate’) popular demands against these ‘elites’, in LFI terms, “federate the people”). Finally it proposed taking over the ‘floating signifiers’ of the Nation, Security and Order, and giving them a democratic content. (Elections européennes 2019 : « Le recul de la gauche “radicale” ne s’explique-t-il pas par le tournant “populiste” de ces dernières années ? »)

Laclau and Mouffe’s strategy in question.

Cerbera-Marcel suggests that this approach can have immediate electoral benefits but that results, such as the European election defeat of LFI and the shrinking of Podemos in those and Spanish national elections, suggests that short-term popularity can easily be lost.  A much more extensive list of criticisms of the skeleton and the details of this strategy, from the abstractions of Laclau and Mouffe to the practice of left populist parties, above all, La France Insoumise and Podemos has already been made by people on the left. French contributions can be seen in, for example, La stratégie de Mélenchon se discute. Nous-le peuple, eux-les élites : un nouveau populisme de gauche and   Populisme de gauche, du nouveau ? Sur le dernier livre de Chantal Mouffe.

This is not the place to go into details about them. Yet one could usefully begin with Laclau’s efforts to designate forerunners of modern populism amongst the British Chartists. Drawing on the studies of Stedman Jones, Laclau talked of how the “us” and “them” was constructed between the “producers” and “idlers”, Old Corruption Jones, made this relevant point, “The self-identity of radicalism was not at of any specific group, but of the ‘people; or the ‘nation’ against the monopolisers of political representation and power and hence financial or economic power “. That is, it was not capitalism, a system of exploitation, injustice and oppressions, but those “monopolisers” who were at fault. Stedman Jones, Laclau notes, saw how this channelling was warded off by legislative reform. This channelling of democratic demands through political action, within the limited space of restricted, but gradually expanding franchise paralleled the High Victorian separation between the economy and politics. (1)

The People and its Parasitic Other.

One might speculate that the major fault of left populism is to divide the world into the “people” and this parasitic ‘elite’ concentrated in the ‘casta’ giving the impression that capitalist exploitation is created by politics. The ‘logic of populism’ is to unite against them, and to project the hatred talked about by Autain onto this “oligarchy, the source of their problems. One can only register that many Gilets Jaunes have this focus in their demands for a  “moral economy” to meet their needs without any vision of a real change to economic and social structures. (3)

An ever-expanding pile of pamphlets, of which the virulent diatribe against the Macronie (as his critics call the Macron ‘system’) by Juan Branco (Crépuscule. 2019) is by no means the worst, takes up against Corruption. It offers no way of uniting the popular electorate for a positive programme of emancipation. It is the seed-bed for the extreme right’s charges of “conspiracies” against the people, ‘betrayals’ by cosmopolitan elites, Globalism, People-Nations against International Elites. In short, it opens the way through an easy “chain of equivalences” to National Populism.

The principal French national populist party,. Marine le Pen’s Rassemblement National, is a  materialised bearer of Laclau’s abstract ‘rhetoric’ about the People versus the Elites. It is well funded, have hundreds elected figures:

Députés
6 / 577
Sénateurs
1 / 348
Députés européens
20 / 74
Conseillers régionaux
306 / 1 758
Conseillers départementaux
58 / 4 108
Maires
29 / 36 635
Conseillers municipaux
1 533 / 536 519

Anybody playing with the language of populism will run up against their simple, easy to understand, law and order, nationalist, political message. That’s without even looking at the strong “affects” and “libidinal ties” the far-right can draw on to spread its nationalist message to the ‘nationalised’ left populist people.

La France insoumise, far from freeing voters from their grip, may well have given their message an easier ride to first place in the French European elections, at 23,3%

The experience of the Brexit left in the UK confirms that anti-EU populism, even when only a small minority of them have openly endorsed the far-right Brexit Party, is another route to boost the national populists.

As an outside observer one can only commend Autain for her stand. Mélenchon’s strategy, his ‘rally’ (point de ralliement) run top down, a Net Corporation (though its media company failed) with “groupes d’appui’ (branches kept deliberately small to discourage organised disagreement) federating the people without respecting a vibrant internal democracy, his seductive rhetoric, with fewer and fewer listening, is part of a wider problem. As a less than outsider, not as a looker-on, but an active participant in the European left, it has been obvious that the ‘left-populist’ turn was not headed in the right direction. Those who praised Mélenchon, whether academics playing at politics in journals like Jacobin and its subsidiary in the UK, Tribune, or engaged in mass politics, have been misled. We can see in France how rancour is not only a bad starting point, but a way that leaves open national populists and business liberals of the stripe of Emmanuel Macron dominate the show – with of course some Greens who also deny the ‘left right’ division playing on the sidelines.

Autain’s intervention is a good and positive sign. A green socialism, a reformist and a radical socialist way forward, has, many would agree,  to be grounded on gathering together of the left, campaigns and the labour movement, with a generous and appealing vision of the future. 

There remain forces in La France insoumise who wish to contest any such refoundation of the left.

Image may contain: 2 people, crowd and outdoor

 

*****

  1. Pages 90 -91. On Populist Reason. Ernesto Laclau. Verso. 2005.
  2. Page 104 Languages of Class. Studies in English Working Class History 1832 – 1982. Gareth Stedman Jones. Cambridge University Press. 1983.
  3. In L’économie morale et le pouvoir. Samuel Hayat makes an interesting compassion between E.P.Thompson’s The Moral Economy of the English crowd and the demands of the Gilers Jaunes. In   Le Fond de l’air est Jaune. Seuil. 2019.
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Reflections on the European vote: Remain and Reform!

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2019 England European Election Results.

“If you wanted to show a foreigner England” begins chapter nineteen of Howards End, “perhaps the wisest course would be to take him to the final section of the Purbeck Hills, and stand him on their summit.” E. M. Forster gazes to the “gates of London itself. So tremendous is the City’s trail!” We pause for breath, “But the cliffs of freshwater it shall never touch, and the island will guard the Island’s purity till the end of time.”

If you wanted to show the Brexit Party after its triumph in the European elections, our media have decided, do not stray in the shadow of the City with the hard Brexit Nigel Farage and Home Counties Boris Johnson. Stand in the North and ask the views on Europe of those who voted for the Egocrat. They voted to Leave and to “get the job done”. Now.

In Bradford, on Channel Four News, a former Labour supporter was fed up with a party that ignores the “working class”. Labour stands now; he was ready to inform us, for the middle class. The days of Tony Blair’s robust proletarian politics are long gone. He left happy backing the Brexit Party, defending our Island Purity in the company of a man Benjamin Disraeli would have saluted as an Angel in Marble, a former Tory voter.

Decline of Working Class Politics.

1971 saw the appearance of The Decline of Working Class Politics by Barry Hindess. It talked of the “apathy, resignation and indifference” that “characterise the political position of the working class throughout the developed industrial countries of the west today.” The political sociologist that he was at that time charted the evidence in terms of a sharp drop in grass roots working class participation in the Labour Party. Hindess suggested that political action outside its formal structures, including industrial unrest, would not stem a longer term “rejection of politics”, formal politics amongst this section of the population. (1)

The 1970s and 1980s, with large scale union unrest, and radicalisations channelled into the Labour Party might be seen as a parenthesis from this trend. The rise of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, apparently a ‘left populism’ has been seen as a means to revive a mass socialist movement. Whether it can ward off the longer-term fragmentation and decline in working class politics is another issue.

Europe has seen some dramatic declines in working class parties, combining the fall out from the end of Official Communism in 1989 and the failures of ‘Third Way’ social democracy represented by Blair, Brown, die Neue Mitte in Germany, and social liberal governments in a number of countries, notably France under President Hollande.  In Italy the left, reduced by the centrist  Partito Democratico,  barely exists. 

In the elections this year France the once ruling Parti Socialiste scrapped a few seats this Sunday with 6,2% of the vote, while the left populist La France insoumise scored .. 6,3% . This contrasts with their leader,  Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s  personal vote of 19,48% in the 2017 Presidential elections.  With some exceptions, such as the Dutch labour party, the only radical parties, with an ambiguous relationship to the left (sometimes in coalition with it, other times not), that did well were the Greens. The EELV won an unexpected 13, 47% in France (only a few months ago they barely topped LFI) and did well in Britain.

The main result from France was that the Marine Le Pen’s Party won 23,31% of the vote, while Macron’s party got 22,41% – a win for National Populism.

RN Prenez le pouvoir, liste soutenue par Marine Le Pen Jordan Bardella 5,281,745 23.31 –1.55 23 –1 22 –2
REMMoDem Renaissance soutenue par La République en Marche, le MoDem et ses partenaires Nathalie Loiseau 5,076,469 22.41

Italy is a slough of despond.

In Spain, by contrast the Socialist party (PSOE) did well, although another left populist group,  more democratic and internationalist than la France insoumise, lost a lot of votes.

 

The Spanish Socialist Party, which won the most votes at the recent April 28 general elections but fell short of a majority, secured another bitter-sweet victory at the “Super Sunday” polls yesterday. The PSOE, as the party is known, consolidated its power at the European Union, municipal and regional polls, but left-wing groups lost the jewel in the crown: Madrid City Hall, which until now had been controlled by former judge Manuela Carmena. Leftist groups also failed to beat out the right in the Madrid region. The conservative Popular Party (PP) and center-right Ciudadanos (Citizens), with the support of the far-right Vox, could join forces to govern in Madrid. The divisions of the left, combined with the poor showing of anti-austerity group Podemos, were the key factors behind this failure.

..

The biggest turnaround, however, was for Podemos, which suffered a much greater loss than expected. The group’s founding leader, Pablo Iglesias, will now be left exposed to criticism for the poor result. The situation will also weaken his negotiating position with acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who needs the anti-austerity group’s support to form a government. Iglesias had been vying for a coalition government, and for Podemos to have control of several ministries. This may be off the table after Sunday’s polls, but the 42 seats that the group holds in the lower house of parliament are still essential for Sánchez if he is to be voted back in as prime minister, and Iglesias could negotiate a global pact – the group’s seats are key to forming a government in a number of regions, including Aragón, the Balearic Islands and Asturias, as well as dozens of local councils.

Socialists win big in Sunday’s elections but the right takes control of Madrid

The Podemos vote went down from 10,5% to 7,96%

Working Class Politics in Britain.

Occupational change, above all the shrinking of industrial employment, to the growth in tertiary, often precarious, employment with individual sometimes insecure, contracts, and employer monitoring. Welfare ‘reform’, from Britain’s Universal Credit to the mean-spirited cut backs imposed in France in Édouard Louis’s latest book, Qui a tué mon père, has further sapped class solidarity. Unions across the continent have been, outside a few white collar and transport sectors, weakened. That they have shrunk is not news to anybody. But the effect of that decline on what it means for a political working class identity, which seems at present going the way of other ‘identities’, a particularity, not universality, is not clearly recognised.

Inside Labour there are those still keen to listen to the voices of those who have backed the Brexit Party. Their voices count. In the pseudo psephology of the Brexit left they have more weight than anybody else – the Labour voters who went to the Greens and the Liberal Democrats to start with. There are those who consider that a firm commitment to leaving Europe, a ‘socialist’ Brexit, a People’s Brexit, or whatever phrase that have mongered this week, would best shore up Labour’s vote. Some go so far as indulge themselves in a neo-Stalinism that dreams of socialism in one country, Britain. 

Despite this they remain in denial.

Confronting the facts about the sections of the popular vote that go to the far right is never going to be easy. The French Front National, now Rassemblement National, of Marine Le Pen, has long been the “premier parti des ouvriers in France”. In a delicate and perhaps life-changing book Retour à Reims, Didier Eribon talked in 2009 of how members of his family in Northern France had passed from support for the Communist Party to voting for the national populist right. He asked for way to “neutralise” the xenophobic racist, “negative passions” that enabled the FN to mobilise its electorate. This non-fiction novel also covers homophobia, another issue which is becoming political in Britain, with the bigoted anti-gay scenes outside a Birmingham Primary school set to spread further.

Left Populists in Decline.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon sought not just to counteract the racialist right. La France insoumise promised to “federate the people”, beyond left and right, against the “oligarchy”. His party-movement, a “point de ralliement” (rallying point) is built on the Internet. Resembling in this respect president Macron’s La République en Marche, this easy to access network “is broad. But its hierarchy is steep. The man at the top stands aloof” Over the least year LFI has seen dissent, democratic, or nationalist, swept away. Indulging in his favourite sport, attacking every other group on the left, from the “social liberal” Parti Socialiste, to the ‘sectarian’ Communists, Mélenchon’s spend the last weeks of his campaign attacking the Greens. Ferociously (Crash de la France insoumise aux européennes : Jean-Luc Mélenchon à l’heure des comptes).

This is the consequence:  Elections européennes 2019 : la gauche dominée par EELV mais toujours aussi divisée

Left populism may have lost one prominent model and the other, Podemos, has had a set back, but will some continue to offer this “insurgent” template for Labour. Or will the left recognise that the best answer, in the far from wished for position we are in now, is to unite around an internationalist and Universalist position on Europe: remain and reform. The alternative is is to listen to these people.

The signs sent out by John MacDonnell, who has risen to the needs of the hour, in that direction are encouraging.

I have more trust in comrade MacDonnell than the group around Corbyn but this is the latest news;

.

Update: the Morning Star, of the Boycott Labour Communist Party of Britain, says today,

British politics is volatile. The emergence of the Brexit Party from nowhere to hold mass rallies up and down the country and dominate the stage at these elections shows how quickly any formation that captures an anti-Establishment zeitgeist can take off (without suggesting for a moment that this alliance of ex-Tory and ex-Ukip chancers are actually anti-Establishment.)

It also demonstrates the anger that large sections of the public feel about Parliament’s inability to deliver Brexit. Claims that a second referendum would “break the deadlock” don’t hold water. These results suggest one would simply entrench the division of the country into two mutually hostile camps

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  1. Page 167 – 8. The Decline of Working Class Politics. Barry  Hindess  Granada Publishing 1971.
  2. Page 160 Retour à Reims, Didier Eribon. Champs essaies, Edition. 108 with an introduction by Édouard Louis.
  3. Page 149 How Democracy Ends. David Runciman. Profile Books. 2018.

Far-Right Rassemblement National set to top French European Polls.

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National Populists Predicted to get strong vote in European Elections.

Elections européennes 2019 : à deux jours du vote, le RN solidement installé en tête des sondages

European elections 2019: two days before the vote, the RN firmly installed at the top of the polls.

Le Monde.

Selon la dernière étude Ipsos-Sopra Steria pour « Le Monde », la liste RN devance de deux points celle de LRM. L’estimation de la participation augmente fortement, à 47 %.

According to the latest Ipsos-Sopra Steria study for Le Monde the RN list is two points ahead of LRM. The estimated  level of participation has increased sharply to 47%.

The party of Marine Le Pen, the Rassemblement National, RN,  (ex-Front National) is at around 25% while President Macron’s list, La République En Marche  (LRM) with the centrist party, the Modems,  ( Mouvement démocrate) of François Bayrou  is at 23%

The once ruling right-wing politicians (under the Presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy 2007 – 2012) grouped in the Les Républicains have only 13%

The RN no longer advocates withdrawal from the European Union.

The hard-line sovereigntist far-right, which backs Frexit, with ‘social’ policies of nationalisation and anti-austerity with an end to uncontrolled immigration (resembling the British red-brown alliance), of Debout la France of Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, and Les Patriotes of Florian Philippot stand at 3,5% and 0,5% respectively.

According to these figures the Party of JeanLuc Mélenchon, La France insoumise (LFI), has continued its decline and stands at 7,5%.

The Greens (EELV), who have been keen to stress that they are neither right nor left (Ecologie “ni de gauche ni de droite” : la stratégie à l’allemande de Yannick Jadot) , at 9,5% are well ahead of LFI.

The Socialists, Parti Socialiste (PS) have their own alliance, PS-Place publique. The list is led by Raphaël Glucksmann, of Place Publique, a socially liberal forum of intellectuals. he is the son of the anti-Marxist New Philosopher  André Glucksmann.  Glucksmann, fils, is a one-time dabbler in “neo-conservatism” with a controversial advisory role to the former President of Georgia  Mikheil Saakachvili . They are hovering at just over 5% at 5,5%

Both the Communists, the Parti communiste français  (PCF), and the alliance of Benoît Hamon  (former French Socialist presidential candidate in 2016, 6,36% of the vote),  Génération.s, stand well below the 5% needed to get MEPs (both at 2,5%)

It is worth noting that Génération.s, is linked to  DieM25,

This initiative, promoting a Green New Deal,  very much led by Yanis” Varoufakis, which has a European candidacies across the continent  seems unlikely to make an impact.

The far left  Lutte ouvrière is at 0,5% and a Gilets Jaunes slate (Alliance Jaune) is at 1,0%

Génération écologie, the historic bearers of “écologie intégrale”, who have aligned with just about everybody in the long career of  Brice Lalonde are at 0,5%

The Parti animaliste, which backs animal rights, tops all three of them with 1,5%.

 

There was an important article in le Monde yesterday which judged that any alliance between the very disparate forces of the European nationalist populists is likely to unravel fairly quickly.

 L’alliance à contrecœur de Matteo Salvini avec Marine Le Pen »

By the “spécialiste du populisme et des droites radicales Gilles Ivaldi.”

The failure of the French left to present a united front is clearly a major obstacle in efforts to win electoral support, leaving the way open for the RN and Macron list duel.

But this is not all.

The National Populist leaning (suitably mashed up in a Mouffe antagonistic articulation) left magazine Jacobin, could not be wider of the mark with this claim (yesterday):

Given the state of the Left on most of the continent it seems unlikely to benefit from a breakup of the European Union. If recent trends are any indication, the kind of broad social base and political power necessary to implement a bold, socialist exit from the EU is still quite a way off — Jeremy Corbyn being the hopeful exception.

The European Left in Disarray. LOREN BALHORN

Anybody looking at the Labour Party’s probable European elections result (which is certain to see a big vote for non-Labour Remain parties by Labour supporters) will laugh at that “hopeful exception” comment.

Un rire jaune.

After Brexit Failures National Populists in Continental Europe Pull Back from ‘Frexit’ and ‘Italexit’.

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Image result for frexit

Frexit no longer popular even on Far-right.

For some months there have been reports in the French press that the far-right Rassemblement national (RN) of Marine Le Pen has been distancing itself from Frexit, the demand that France leave the European Union.

Some small French far-right parties continue with this policy, notably the L’Union populaire républicaine of François Asselineau and the Front National  (which is the now the RN) break-away,  Les Patriotes of Florian Philippott. The demand is sometimes echoed by a fringe of the Gilets Jaunes. (1)

But after speculation the RN itself formally announced this in April:

Européennes : Marine Le Pen renonce officiellement au Frexit dans son projet (France-Inter)

 Pour la première fois, noir sur blanc, Marine Le Pen n’évoque plus la sortie de l’Union européenne et de la zone euro.

For the first time, in black and white, Marine Le Pen does not mention leaving the European Union and the Euro zone.

Followed more recently by this speech, denouncing the European Union ‘prison’ without calling to escape from it.

Frexit had been a key RN policy right up to the party’s Presidential campaign in 2017.

Despite this turn the far-right party still has plenty of nationalist ‘reforms’ in mind starting with the abolition of the European Commission in favour of straight-forward intergovernmental negotiations, and continuing up to plans to impose harsh controls over all forms of migration inside or from outside the EU.

But this change indicates two things.

Firstly the disaster that is Brexit has deterred others following.

The second, is that if elected Farage’s Brexit Party will not find such willing allies in the European Parliament, out to join with them to do what they can to destroy the European Union.

There are also growing indications that European national populists face an obvious difficulty. How can nationalists, whose whole raison d’être is to promote ‘their’ nation’ work with those with the same basis in other nations in an international project.

A further point arises.

Former leftist, New Left Review author and Spiked contributor Wolfgang Streeck has staked his hopes on the Fall of the European Empire and such “anti-imperialist” (his description) forces as the German AfD on the far-right. (2)

It might seem that those, some claiming to be on the left, rubbing their hands in glee at the destruction of the European “liberal empire” with the help of the national populists may have been celebrating too soon. (2)

Today France 24 reports,

 France’s Marine Le Pen, Italy’s Salvini forge far-right alliance to ‘overhaul EU from within’

 

In a change of strategy, nationalist party leaders Marine Le Pen and Matteo Salvini are now promising voters a far-right bloc to overhaul the EU from within. But experts say it will be difficult for nationalists across Europe to co-operate.

At present, the European far-right is split across three umbrella groups. In addition to its linchpins the National Rally and the League, the Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) bloc has expanded to encompass the nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD), as well as an array of smaller Scandinavian and Eastern European far-right parties.

However, other nationalist outfits such as Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party and the Swedish Democrats sit in the European Conservatives and Reformists group, while the UK’s Brexit Party and Lithuania’s Order and Justice are part of the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group.

..

In light of this fragmentation, “Salvini is trying to unite the far right populist groups ahead of the European elections”, in a new grouping that would further expand ENF, noted Vasiliki Tsagkroni, a lecturer in political science specialising in European populism at the University of Leiden, in an interview with FRANCE 24.

An integral part of this plan is Salvini’s and Le Pen’s gambit to woo a big beast of the European far-right, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whose Fidesz party was suspended from the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) – currently largest group in the European Parliament – in March.

Amid the inextricable difficulties Brexit has created for the UK, Le Pen and Salvini have had to pivot towards proposing to upend the EU from within because they realised they had to ditch their previous vote-losing ‘Frexit’ and ‘Italexit’ agendas.

The National Rally 2019 European election manifesto contains no reference to leaving the euro or the EU – both key planks of Le Pen’s failed 2017 presidential campaign. “We didn’t have much choice: either we had to submit [to the EU] or we had to leave it. But now we have allies,” Le Pen glossed it. Likewise, Salvini’s League dropped its anti-euro stance in late 2018, with its economic spokesperson saying that leaving the single currency is “not possible”.

“Most of these far-right populist parties have understood that telling people they would leave the EU and the euro is scary,” explained Jean-Yves Camus, an expert on the extreme right at the Fondation Jean Jaurès think tank in Paris, in an interview with FRANCE 24. “And the example of Brexit adds to this: the British know what they want to get out of, but they have no idea where they’re going.”

..

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(1) Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s stepson is stepping into politics, and wants France to leave the European Union.

Aurélien Enthoven, 17, son of singer Carla Bruni and philosopher/broadcaster Raphaël Enthoven, has been campaigning for the Republican Popular Union (UPR), a nationalist party that supports leaving the EU, the newspaper Le Parisien reported Wednesday.

Enthoven was seen at the party’s pro-Frexit rally on May 1, wearing a Brexit “Leave means leave” T-shirt, and, according to Le Parisien, he contributed £25 to Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party.

Note:  Opinion Poll, ” L’UPR rassemble 1,5% d’intentions de vote.”

(2) “Note also that what since the refugee episode of 2015 has become the biggest opposition party, the AfD, while nationalist, is so only in the sense of isolationist and anti-imperialist – and is, strangely enough, for this reason, branded by German liberal imperialists as “anti-European”. With benevolent reading, leaving aside for a moment the party’s disgusting fits of historical revisionism, AfD nationalism amounts to unwillingness to pay for empire, with corresponding willingness to allow other countries to do their own thing; see the party’s strong belief in appeasement instead of confrontation in relation to Russia, a belief it shares with the left wing of the Linkspartei.”  Wolfgang Streeck – The European Union is a liberal empire, and it is about to fall.

This is not how people on the left normally analyse the  racist far-right Alternative für Deutschland (Afd).

Notre-Dame: Rebuilding a Masterpiece of the Human Spirit is Everybody’s Concern – L’Humanité.

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Rebuild!

The French communist daily today expressed the thoughts of millions of people across the world.

Le terrible incendie a failli détruire le chef-d’œuvre de l’esprit et de l’histoire qu’est Notre-Dame. Après une immense vague d’émotion, sa reconstruction est l’affaire de toutes et tous, de ceux qui croient au ciel, comme ceux qui n’y croient pas.

The terrible fire nearly destroyed  the masterpiece of the spirit and of history that is  Notre-Dame. After an immense wave of emotion, its reconstruction is the business of everyone, of those who believe in heaven, as much as those who do not believe in it.

Lines from the Communist Poet Louis Aragon.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 17, 2019 at 12:33 pm

Tariq Ramadan, still facing Rape Charges, Attends Meeting on Violence Against Women in Saint Denis.

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Still Facing Rape Charges Ramadan Attends Public Meeting on Violence against Women. 

Tariq Ramadan assiste à une conférence sur les violences faites aux femmes

Le Point today.

Tariq Ramadan, toujours mis en examen pour viol dans deux dossiers et sous contrôle judiciaire, a été aperçu hier soir à Saint-Denis lors d’une réunion « contre les violences faites aux femmes au quotidien », en présence de Danièle Obono et de Françoise Vergès. Cette réunion était organisée par Madjid Messaoudène, militant décolonial et conseiller municipal La France insoumise en charge de l’égalité et des droits des femmes à la mairie de Saint-Denis. Des femmes en désaccord avec sa présence ont quitté la salle.

Tariq Ramadan , still indicted for rape in two cases and under judicial supervision (that is, on remand), was seen last night in Saint-Denis during a meeting “against the daily violence women face”, in the presence of Danièle Obono and Françoise Vergès. This meeting was organised by Madjid Messaoudène, decolonial activist and city councilor for La France insoumise responsible for equality and women’s rights  the Saint-Denis Council. Women who disagreed with his presence left the room.

The Mayor of Saint Denis reacted strongly,

His coming into the room as a spectator of the debate is an unacceptable provocation,”  said the mayor of Saint-Denis (French Communist Party) His presence is “totally indecent.

She is reported to have also said,

 His ignoble provocations must stop, ” insisted the mayor, calling Tariq Ramadan to ” respect a minimum of decency by leaving in peace those who fight against violence against women .”

The story is also covered in Libération:

A Saint-Denis, Tariq Ramadan s’invite à une conférence sur les violences faites aux femmes.

The arrogance of the Oxford Don is not just astonishing, it is despicable.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

March 19, 2019 at 5:52 pm

The Christchurch Murderer, the Ideology of Identity and the Great Replacement.

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Brendon Tarrant’s ‘Manifesto’.

The word is still reeling at the Christchurch atrocities.

Solidarity is the first, and best, response.

Yet it is becoming clear that the killer was more than just a “extremist right-wing violent terrorist”.

Tarrant has an ideology.

In the manifesto he states that he was previously a “communist“, an “anarchist“, and a “libertarian“, but then turned to “racist” views and became an “eco-fascist” concerned with global warming. Though he rejected the label of Nazism, The American Conservative comments that his political ideology matches national socialism and that he despised capitalism while idolizing China. It comments he only sees Christianity’s value in uniting Europe. Tarrant also laments the moral breakdown of the West. The manifesto includes references to high-profile right-wing figures and Internet memes and encourages people online who agree with the shooting to spread his message and to create more memes. These elements, along with the live-streamed video—in which its viewers had cheered the attack on—gave the appearance that the attack was influenced by internet trolling. This is further supported by the perpetrator’s reasoning for his choice of weapon; he believed it would violently escalate the American gun control debate and cause civil war in the United States.[52][53][54][55] He supports return of racial segregation in the United States. The manifesto ends with neo-Nazi symbols above two images.

Wikipedia. (More directly from the Manifesto below)

The text talks of “mass immigration” and “higher fertility rates” of immigrants.

The clearly indicates the most important strand in the Manifesto, beginning with the title, is the Great Replacement.

This is the ideology, developed by the French writer, Renaud Camus, that European white people are being “replaced” by others. His best known book is Le Grand Remplacement (2011).

The hysteria this idea has generated can be seen on this site,

The Great Replacement is very simple. You have one people, and in the space of a generation, you have a different people. Renaud Camus

The Great Replacement (French: Le grand remplacement) is a term originally coined by a French writer Renaud Camus who first used it to describe the demographic replacement happening in France due to its mass immigration policies and low birth rates among the native French.

The same term can be applied to many other European peoples both in Europe and abroad – from Germany, to England, to the United States, which all have below replacement birth rates and migration policies that pose an existential threat. Of all the different races of people on this planet, only the European races are facing the possibility of extinction in a relatively near future.

This is highlighted by the French media: La théorie du « grand remplacement », de l’écrivain Renaud Camus aux attentats en Nouvelle-Zélande (le Monde).

Camus claims that the term is an adaption from Brecht, “Would it not be easier In that case for the government To dissolve the people And elect another?” While his main influence is more diffuse, and wide ranging, he has had some political involvement. Camus was part of a micro-party  French political parties often have ‘allies’ which essentially exist to i) create the impression of a ‘broad front’ ii) be a way of getting extra spending through without running over limits) ” SIEL (Souveraineté, identité et libertés, was one, under the wing of the Front National, now Rassemblement Nationalin their broad front, Rassemblement bleu Marine.

SIEL is now, after an obscure row, largely centred on the virulence of some of their declarations, independent and linked to the Identitarian movement, anchored clearly on the extreme right. They *claimed* (dubiously) to be running a European List this year.  This month Camus won a case against somebody who had called him an anti-Semite. The judgement rested on the lack of detail in the charge, and he was awarded only 1000 Euros in damages. (13.3.19 La justice donne raison à Renaud Camus face à Yann Moix).

This hallucinatory picture of a declining Europe is reinforced by Tarrant’s hostility to Muslim people.

He talks of “foreign invaders”, and this (The Manifesto of Brenton Tarrant – a right-wing terrorist on a Crusade)

He is (as in the image above) ‘anti-imperialist’ as well, expressing an admiration for China.

But the heart of the work is hatred, from an angry man, and more hatred, for Immigration to the West.

 

Camus denies any responsibility:

French ‘Great Replacement’ writer denounces ‘appalling’ NZealand attack

As he tweeted today:

Camus denies any connection with the atrocity. France 24.

“I am totally non-violent,” the 72-year-old Camus told AFP, saying the arrested 28-year-old Australian suspect had committed “appalling, criminal, disastrous and idiotic terrorist acts”.

“If he wrote a pamphlet titled ‘The Great Replacement” it’s blatant plagiarism… of a phrase that doesn’t belong to him and he doesn’t understand,” said Camus.

The writer, who is also a gay rights activist, lives in a 14th-century chateau in southwest France.

Yet, he has just drawn attention to the ” crime against humanity” that is immigrant presence and the “genocide” that is the great replacement.

Both the BBC and Channel Four have underlined the link between the ideology of the Manifesto, Camus’ Great Replacement, and Identitarian politics.

The latter, which is movement across Europe, with some US links, stands for white European cultural (and racial) Identity. The French wing, Les Identitaires which puts their ideas forward more clearly than the English language Wikipedia version does, their ideas join together (itnrseciotnallty as it were)

Disgust with materialism, consumerism, and the exploitation of workers by big international capital, hostility to the non-representative character of the French electoral system, and the take over of democracy by oligarchies, hostility to American hegemony and Islamic imperialism, opposition to mass race mixing and the charge of permanent guilt to Europeans, a rejection of Paris run Jacobin centralisation , a refusal to bow to ready-made thinking enforced by intellectual terrorism.

It goes without saying, though apparently not noticed by BBC’s Newsnight, that this movement (mouvance, in the sense of its broad current)  is linked to acts of violence.

 Racisme, violence, salut nazi… Un journaliste a infiltré Génération identitaire et le bar La citadelle à Lille. (3 months ago).

 

Harry’s  Place  comments,

We have watched as politics of “Identity” has taken over our academic institutions, our media, our civic structures and non-governmental organisations, mostly co-opted, colonised or cajoled by the far-Left. This poured fuel on the last burning embers of the far-Right and it now threatens to ignite a conflagration, from corners of Eastern Europe, to the streets of Paris, all the way to the most unlikely place on earth: New Zealand.

When progressive politics stresses above all else the primacy and priority of race, religion, gender, and so on, is it any wonder the far-Right – which has a century or more of practice in this despicable arena rises to the challenge? You can’t have relentless the prodding and sniping at ‘heterosexual white males” without expecting a countervailing extreme to emerge again, especially since the cloaks and mantles of previous far-Right movements are lying on the ground for a new breed of maniac to pick up. Such is the dynamics of reciprocal radicalisation.

The problem is that identitarian politics and the influence of Renaud Camus are more extensive than the list cited.

In The Strange Death of Europe. Immigration, Identity, Islam ( Bloomsbury. 2017) Douglas Murray says that Europe is committing suicide, its “civilisation” is committing suicide. There are two reasons, “the mass movement of peoples into Europe.” And “lost faith in its beliefs, traditions and legitimacy.”(Pages 2 – 3) The continent has decided to become a “u-topia”, a no place.

Douglas, who refers to Camus, says “migration, “we are not after all such great melting pots that anything and anyone can be endlessly poured in with the results always coming out the same.”(Page 310) “We do not want our politicians, through weakness, self-hatred, malice, tiredness or abandonment to change our home into an utterly different place.”(Page 320)

This is Murray’s background:

Associate director of the Henry Jackson Society Former director of the Centre for Social Cohesion, Educated at Benedict’s school Eaton Collage, and Magdalen College Oxford..

Just as writers such as Gilles Kepel have, rightly, traced the links between some forms of political Salafism and Jihadist violence  (Terreur dans l’Hexagone: Genèse du djihad français. 2015, see Le jihadisme, passage à l’acte du salafisme) we are entitled to ask questions about those who have indulged Camus’ tirades. Identitarian and Great Replacement ideology are some of the conditions for the activist turn to the violent far right. The alternative account of jihadist violence, by Olivier Roy, as a “nihilist” spasm by desperate people, (Le Djihad et la Mort, 2016) looks an unfruitful angle from which to gain an insight into the atrocities in Christchurch.