Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Posts Tagged ‘France

Finally….Tariq Ramadan on “Leave of Absence” from Oxford. Bye-bye Tariq….?

with 4 comments

Many supporters of Tariq Ramadan say that the accusations are a “plot” by ‘Zionists.’

(Des centaines de soutiens de Tariq Ramadan déclarent sur les réseaux sociaux voir dans ces accusations un complot réalisé par les “sionistes”)

Islamic modest dress is  “spiritual training and asserting a femininity that is not imprisoned in the mirror of men’s gaze or alienated within unhealthy relationships of power or seduction.”

Tariq Ramadan. The Messenger 2007. (Page 213)

Islamic scholar to take leave of absence by mutual agreement after multiple sexual assault allegations made against him.

Oxford University has agreed to place the Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan on a leave of absence after multiple allegations of rape, assault and sexual harassment were made against him.

“By mutual agreement, and with immediate effect, Tariq Ramadan, professor of contemporary Islamic studies, has taken a leave of absence from the University of Oxford,” the university said in a statement.

The Guardian continues,

Ramadan did not respond to requests for comment but posted his response to what he called a “joint communique” with Oxford via social media.

“I salute the position taken by Oxford University since this matter first arose. The university has defended the principle of presumption of innocence without minimising the gravity of the allegations against me,” he wrote.

“Contrary to reports in the French-language press, I have taken leave of absence upon mutual agreement with Oxford University, which will permit me to devote my energies to my defence while respecting students’ need for a calm academic environment.”

This so-called Mutual Agreement came after voices were raised across the Net, including a Petition, and, above all, this:

Oxford professor to take leave over rape allegations Cherwell (Oxford Student Paper)

University announces Tariq Ramadan will be suspended from his role as Islamic Professor after student anger

Tariq Ramadan, the Oxford Islamic studies professor accused of multiple accounts of rape, has taken a “leave of absence” from the University.

The University released a statement today stating that Ramadan, who has denied the allegations, was leaving “by mutual agreement, and with immediate effect”. It added that Ramadan will not be present at either the University or College during this time, and his teaching, supervising and examining duties in the Faculty of Oriental studies will be reassigned.

The decision follows student backlash at Ramadan’s continuing presence in the Faculty after the allegations first surfaced.

The statement said: “The University has consistently acknowledged the gravity of the allegations against Professor Ramadan, while emphasising the importance of fairness and the principles of justice and due process.

..

The faculty apologised for their “lack of communication” with students following the allegations, blaming the delay in responding to the claims on the fact that the allegations were made in a foreign country with a different legal system.

They also told students last week that they intended Ramadan to continue to supervise and tutor on his return to Oxford, although arrangements could be made with individual students about how their supervisions would proceed.

Libération today reports on the Cherwell article and its own latest inquiries.

Un porte-parole d’Oxford University a déclaré à Libération que «même si nous reconnaissons à quel point les allégations sont graves et inquiétantes, il n’y a pas eu d’inculpation formelle. Le professeur Ramadan n’a pas été détenu, interrogé ou informé s’il serait poursuivi. Qui plus est, il dément catégoriquement les accusations contre lui. Le professeur Tariq Ramadan a demandé personnellement à ses avocats de poursuivre les accusatrices pour diffamation. En tant qu’employeur […] nous avons le devoir – comme quiconque – d’être juste envers les accusateurs et l’accusé».

A spokesperson for Oxford University has stated to that “even if we recognise how serious and worrying this accusations are, there have been no formal charges. Professor Ramadan has not been arrested, questioned, or informed if he will be charged. He categorically denies the accusations. Professor Ramadan has placed a personal request to his lawyers to bring charges of slander against his accusers.  As employers we have a duty to be fair to both the accusers and the accused.

Le Monde today notes that the University’s snail pace reaction, not to mention the way the British media has barely paid any attention to the case of Europe’s best known Islamic scholar and Public Intellectual,  can be contrasted to the way Michael Fallon was forced to resign after he was accused of putting his hand on a woman’s knee,

Curieusement, alors que, dans la foulée de l’affaire Weinstein, le ministre de la défense britannique, Michael Fallon, a dû démissionner le 1er novembre après avoir reconnu avoir mis la main sur le genou d’une journaliste, les plaintes pour viol en France et les témoignages rapportés par la presse suisse contre Tariq Ramadan ont mis du temps avant d’être pris en considération, non seulement à Oxford, mais dans les médias britanniques.

Strangely, while in the wake of the Weinstein affair, the British Defence Minister, Michael Fallon, had to resign on the 1st of November after having admitted that he put his hand on a journalist’s knee, the accusations of rape and the accounts printed by the Swiss press, took some time to be registered, not just at Oxford but in the British media.

For anybody wishing to begin a serious look into this case they could begin with the French version of Wikipedia on Ramadan and this section:

Mises en cause dans des affaires de mœurs

Now there is controversy over those who have defended Ramadan in the past. We note that Edwy Plenel, who is respected for his generous anti-racism, if perhaps misjudged on the Islamologue before,  has not defended Ramadan in the present case. That said, Fourest shows plenty of evidence of his collaboration with the Ramadan circus, and we also note the presence of Karen Armstrong, one of the most dull-witted apologists for Islam, and any religion going, there is.

To those who think there are any merits to Ramadan’s politics – about the most radical he got was denouncing “injustice” and “oppression” and advocating Islamic enterprises based on fairness , Western Muslims and the Future of Islam, 2004,  see

Submitted by AWL on 26 July, 2007 – 3:16 Author: Yves Coleman

“40 reasons why Tariq Ramadan is a reactionary bigot” was written by the French Marxist, Yves Coleman and has been reproduced by the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty (AWL). The text presents factual information about the politics of Tariq Ramadan.

 

Advertisements

Written by Andrew Coates

November 8, 2017 at 1:06 pm

Storm Grows over Rape allegations against Tariq Ramadan as Henda Ayari Speaks out in Le Monde.

with 16 comments

Image result for Henda Ayari

Henda Ayari: for him you are either Veiled or Violated.

Henda Ayari  is one of the women who’ve accused Muslim pundit Tariq Ramadan of rape.

She has just had a ‘Tribune” published in le Monde.

Every woman should find the courage to speak out as I have done.

In anger and in depth, it is an essay of great eloquence.

It calls out for women to speak for justice, against male aggression, and in particular the violence that Islamist males like Ramadan, using their ‘religious authority‘  inflict on women.

Written from the heart and the head, in the clearest of styles, it would take a professional translator to do Ayrai’s text justice.

The link is to only part of the full article, which I read in the print edition of Le Monde yesterday.

Henda Ayari : « Chaque femme doit trouver le courage de prendre la parole comme j’ai osé le faire »

Ramadan is well known in France. So well known I shall not add to this but a Wikipedia link.

He is also an Oxford Don, Guardian columnist and a frequent guest on British television programmes notably Channel Four.

Ramadan was a speaker at the European social forum in 2003 and, no doubt because his books are full of half-baked references to left thinkers and people like Foucault, is considered by some a “progressive” supported by some people who claim to be on the left.

BBC

French prosecutors are investigating allegations by two women who say they were raped by Tariq Ramadan, a renowned Islamic scholar and Oxford professor.

One of them, Henda Ayari, told a French TV interviewer that Mr Ramadan had assaulted her in a Paris hotel in 2012.

“He literally pounced on me like a wild animal,” she said.

In a Facebook post Prof Ramadan denied the accusations, calling them “a campaign of lies”, and said his lawyer was suing the women for “slander”.

Ms Ayari used to wear the Islamic full-face veil but is now a secular feminist activist.

She said the sexual harassment scandal surrounding Hollywood film mogul Harvey Weinstein had emboldened her to accuse Mr Ramadan explicitly.

Many women worldwide have shared accounts of sexual harassment using the Twitter hashtag #MeToo. In France the equivalent is #balancetonporc, meaning “expose your pig”.

Ms Ayari had previously published an account of an alleged assault in a book, without naming the man.

Speaking on BFMTV, she said she had gone to Mr Ramadan’s hotel room to ask him questions about Islam and at the time “I admired him very much”.

Referring to the alleged rape, she said “he kissed me really hard… then for a few seconds he choked me, I really thought I was going to die”.

The second woman – a convert to Islam – has alleged that she was raped by Tariq Ramadan in a hotel in Lyon in 2009.

Mr Ramadan denounced the allegations as “a campaign of slander clearly orchestrated by my long-time adversaries”.

He is a controversial and influential figure among Muslim scholars. He challenges fundamentalist Islam, but some critics accuse him of promoting political Islam.

A Swiss national, he is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, who founded the Muslim Brotherhood.

Since 2009 he has been professor of contemporary Islamic studies at St Antony’s College, Oxford. He has also sat on a UK Foreign Office advisory group on freedom of religion.

 It became  3 women claiming he raped them.

And now 4

Tariq Ramadan Has His Place in the European Social Forum

Catherine Samary

This open letter was written just before the beginning of the European Social Forum in Paris in November 2003. It was addressed to the Coordination des Associations pour le Droit à l’Avortement et à la Contraception and the Collectif National pour les Droits des Femmes, after they had circulated a petition calling for Tariq Ramadan to be excluded from the ESF. The letter also answers the leaflet produced by the Collectif Féministe pour un Altermondialisme Laïc, which was translated and published by the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty and formed the basis for a resolution by the NUS executive (subsequently overturned) calling for Tariq Ramadan to be removed as a speaker at the 2004 ESF. The author is a leading French feminist and intellectual, and a supporter of the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire.

On inequality. The feminist collective tells us: “Tariq Ramadan recognises the equality of men and women before God, but believes in a complementarity – and thus a difference – of the sexes on the social and family level.”

The difference between the sexes is a commonplace idea which includes many variants – within the feminist mileu too! One essential point for us is the independence that women (even believers) can gain through education and work. Yet if Tariq Ramadan recognises that Islam attributes to the man the responsibility for earning the family’s money (the woman having a central role in the management of the family, in Islam as in all traditional cultures), he is at the same time in open debate with the currents who wish to ban women from leaving the home. Islam, he recognises, puts the emphasis on the “right” of women “not to work”. But that does not imply opposing the right (if they so choose) to work! Cf. the Gresh/Ramadan debate, op. cit., where Ramadan says:

“I have had some very vehement debates in Europe with certain representatives of the FIS over the place of women and their interpretation of economic reality: banning women from working, asserting that unemployment was due to the presence of women on the labour market and … presenting the act of sending them back to the home as ‘the’ Islamic remedy provoked a reaction on my part. I criticised without compromise these reductionist and simplistic readings. They … characterised me as a ‘soft or light, westernised Muslim’.”

It is true that he makes explicit his search for religious texts in order to remain within the framework of the Muslim world – but he says he wants to carry out “a coherent and more just adaptation” of these texts starting from an “internal” reflection linked to a study of the evolution of contexts – thus of societies and practices:

“I am thinking about the recognition of the independence of women, their social status, marriage, divorce, etc …”

While he was employed by Ken Livingstone later in that decade  Pitt published a whole series of pieces defending Ramadan on his site, Islamophobia Watch.

In 2004 Ken Livingstone hosted a conference to ‘defend the veil’ which was  addressed by Tariq Ramadan.

It would be interesting to hear the reaction to these charges from those who defended Ramadan so vociferously in the past.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 1, 2017 at 2:37 pm

Brouhaha over New York Times Op-Ed: “Emmanuel Macron Will Be Yet Another Failed French President.”

with one comment

Image result for macron comme jupiter

French President Macron, as his Fans see Him.

For reasons most people will find hard to grasp a rude article about French President Macron in the New York Times, a paper of very limited circulation in France, or indeed elsewhere in Europe, including Britain (this is the first time I have read anything in it since…for ever), has been met by outraged brouhaha in France.

One thing that is easy to get is the idea that “fake news” is spreading like bad margarine over our daily political bread.

Libération today has this article, a factual piece in answer to claims that it was an editorial (apparently somebody can’t tell the difference between Op-ed, an American expression which I think means opinion piece), Editorial and report,  and  (Confusion entre tribune d’opinion, édito et article.) as well as  demolishing the idea that the author is a Le Pen supporter.

L’auteur de la tribune anti-Macron n’est ni journaliste au «New York Times»… ni lepéniste

A Government type (Secrétaire d’État auprès du Premier ministre, chargé des relations avec le Parlement, porte-parole du . Team ) claimed the Le Pen link, soon afterwards followed by another professional Macron fan (Hugues Renson @huguesrenson Vice-Président de l’Assemblée Nationale – Député  – 13eme circonscription de Paris – Commission des affaires étrangères).

The tale is taken apart in even more rigorous detail here: Comment une tribune du New York Times a assassiné la presse française

Emmanuel Macron Will Be Yet Another Failed French President

President Emmanuel Macron of France is liberalism’s new poster boy. Hailed as the answer to Europe’s populist tide, he has brought a buzz back into French diplomacy by facing down President Trump and President Vladimir Putin of Russia. “The Macron method,” a leading European think tank gushed recently, is the new Third Way, threading the needle between technocracy and populism.

At home in France, it’s a very different story. A recent poll found that Mr. Macron’s popularity fell by 14 points in August, after a fall of 10 points in July. Only 40 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with the president’s performance.

To be fair, Mr. Macron never had much popular support to begin with. In the first round of the presidential election in April, when the vote was split among four main contenders, he won just under 24 percent. (By comparison, François Hollande received 28 percent of the vote in the first round in 2012. Nicolas Sarkozy won 31 percent in 2007.) Mr. Macron won the second round handily, but only because he was the lesser-evil candidate in the runoff — his competitor was Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right populist National Front party.

Electoral arithmetic explains only so much. Mr. Macron’s popularity suffers from something more fundamental: Macronism. His entire political project has been far too focused on his personality. Much of his appeal has come from his youth, his dynamism, his good looks and his oratorical skills. This hyper-personalized approach always carried the risk that once his charm wore off, there would be nothing left for his supporters to like, which is exactly what is happening.

Since taking office, Mr. Macron has put off many people by trying to recapture the grandeur of the presidency. In a phrase that may stick to him for the rest of his time in office, he said he wanted to make the presidency more “Jupiterian,” comparing himself with the powerful Roman god Jupiter, who ruled the skies. When he brought the Senate and Parliament together at the Versailles palace and spoke to them about his ambitions for the presidency, many in France bristled at the monarchical overtones.

 

The above Chris Bickerton, who shows few signs of more knowledge of French politics than can be picked up from a few newspaper articles, is a pro-Brexit tosser, claiming to be on the internationalist  ‘left’ for reasons which remain obscure but are apparently linked to the idea that being anti-EU is a hand of friendship to the world,  whose views count for very little anywhere.

To just cite the pillock, on why people should vote Leave, (Brexit is not the property of the political right. The left is disenchanted too.

I believe we can make this into the basis for a new internationalism in Europe, one that gives Europe a political meaning far more profound than the shallow cosmopolitanism that comes with the economic integration of the single market. A vote for Brexit is also a universal message to all other Europeans that politics can be about change and not just about defending the status quo.

The main interest of the story, apart from indicating the mechanisms of fake-news, is that it shows just how twitchy Macron’s mates are.

Meanwhile this demo is taking place tomorrow , against Macron’s Labour Code reform:  Code du travail : première épreuve de rue pour Macron

Les syndicats, à l’exception de FO et de la CFDT, manifestent mardi 12 septembre contre les ordonnances sur la réforme du droit du travail.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 11, 2017 at 3:54 pm

Trump Celebrates Fall of the Bastille.

with 3 comments

Image result for fall of the bastille

Trump:  Guest of honour to celebrate Bastille Day.

This is how he arrived (from top Sketch artist/Ace reporter, Plantu).

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DEq86mGXoAAZNr3.jpg

Robbie Travers has yet to post on his appearance.

Despite this hiccup everyone else that matters has and was there to celebrate Bastille Day.

You can watch the splendid event direct here:

Live: Trump, Macron attend Bastille Day military parade.

A less exalted commentary is available below (L’Humanité).

 

This appears about the sum of the protests:

 

Before the day this took place.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 14, 2017 at 12:01 pm

‘The Centre Can Hold’: Perry Anderson, French Politics in the Era of Macron, A Critique. Part One.

with one comment

Image result for perry anderson the centre can hold

‘The Centre Can Hold’: Perry Anderson: a Critical Look. 

Part One.

Chaque pensée devrait rappeler la ruine d’un sourire.”

Each thought should evoke the ruin of a smile.

Syllogismes de l’amertume. Emil Cioran.

For Perry Anderson “the revolutionary working class went AWOL somewhere around 1970.”

Roger Scruton. Fools, Frauds and Firebrands. Thinkers of the New Left. (1)

Has the 2017 French Presidential contest, followed by the June Parliamentary elections, redrawn the political map not just in France but also across Europe? Emmanuel Macron’s conquest of the Élysée (66,10% of the vote), in a second round against the far-right Marine Le Pen (33,90%), marginalising the Parti Socialiste (PS), eliminated at the first hurdle with 6,36% and Les Républicains (LR), at, 20.02% is said to have seen off the anti-European Union “populist revolt”. Others talk of his pro- EU “populism of the centre”. Some on the left draw comfort from the respectable score in the initial contest, 19,58% for Jean-Luc Mélenchon of la France insoumise.

The success of Macron’s brand new, ‘start-up’, movement-party, La République en marche (LRM), with 314 seats, and close allies, the MoDems, 47 MPs, out of 577 députés, is overwhelming. Backed by ‘compatible’ deputies from the fragmenting Socialist Party and the Republican centre-right, which now dominates the French lower house, the Assemblée Nationale, illustrates, it is claimed, the obsolescence of the old-party form. To some this has shaken up not just the old French blocs of left and right but introduced a new form of political representation. For Pierre Rosanvallon Macron, and his still-standing opponents, Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Marine Le Pen, are the “personalised”, “direct catalysts of popular aspirations” (Idées. Le Monde. 17.6.17) Introducing Perry Anderson’s The Centre Can Hold (click for full text)  The French Spring. New Left Review’s (NLR) Programme Notes begins rather with political economy. Macron, liberal in economics, and liberal (in the American sense) socially may mark another shift. “Has neoliberalism finally arrived in force in Paris and if so what are the implications for Europe?”

Macron’s journey from liberalising Minister of the Economy (2014 – 2016) in François Hollande’s Socialist Government, some tussles with Prime Minister Manuel Valls – not to mention mass protests against labour reforms – to the entry of the former high-flying Banker and Civil Servant into the gilded chambers of the Élysée, is a tale worth telling. That it did not happen without help, unwilling as much as willing, is recalled. Attacks on finance soon forgotten Hollande had rapidly begun “tilting to business and tailing Berlin”. Nor is the inability of his governments to tackle mass unemployment, poverty, to stand up to EU financial ‘rigour’, forcing the Mediterranean members to suffer the blast of monetary discipline and ‘restructuring’, unchronicled. The President’s manifest failings, low, described in Valérie Trierweiler’s Merci pour ce Moment (2014), and high, beginning with Hollande’s opinion of himself, and the both at the same time, as revealed by Gérard Davet and François Lhomme, are there for all to read, or at least the media’s extracts and commentaries. The outgoing tide of Hollande’s support, the his “self-destruction”, the mass protests and strikes at labour law reform (Loi El Khomri) under PM Manuel Valls, to “please business” – Anderson at least does not finger the EU for that measure – paved the way for the marginalisation of the Parti Socialiste. The transfer of PS card-holders and, above all, notables, to the new Master, was preceded by the mobilisation of an active core behind Macron’s Presidential bid.

Tenebrous back-door manoeuvres

Macron appeared, in short, Anderson affirms, at length, more than a providential “embodiment of all that was dynamic and forward-looking in France”. Behind this public portait, Anderson suggests that not only was their was transfer of allegiances, the use of PS networks, and the development of an establishment cabal behind him, there was a vast media-political operation, with wider business and ‘civil society’ support. Le Canard Enchaîné, with, he notes, close links with the “tenebrous world of back-door manoeuvres” and the “manipulative operations of the French intelligence services” leaked evidence of the abuse of public funds by Macron’s right-wing rival François Fillion. Dubbing the satirical weekly the Great Elector we are treated to Anderson’s lengthy speculations on the origins and motives of those who may have used these leaks to destroy the candidate of Les Républicains.

If Anderson is to be believed, “Macron’s background guaranteeing he would be a business-friendly icon of deregulation of the kind Hollande wanted” the transfer of the President’s claque to a new icon was well judged. The Centre Can Hold describes him marketed as part of “a movement transcending the outdated opposition between Right and Left in France, for the creation of a new, fresh politics of the Centre, liberal in economics and social in sensibility.” Enough people bought the message for an electoral landslide to take place.

Opponents were trounced, deals were made, François Bayrou was squared, the middle class were quite prepared…Anderson has, we can be sure, not revealed more than a fraction of the contents of a hefty shelf of breathless Secret Histories of the 2017 Election Campaign. That the new Boss has been sometimes ungrateful, the Editorial suggests, at least to his one-time Patron, and, we could add, to those, like Valls, with whom he has accounts to settle will doubtless lend piquancy to the narrative.

This entertaining, depressing but far from unprecedented story, is only part of a larger picture. The ‘operation’ succeeded as a consequence of the withering on the vine of the Parti Socialiste’s social base and the political impasse of the party that has failed in recent years to manage more than Léon Blum’s “exercise of power”, without conquering the solid bastions that give a real lever for social change.

The Republic of the Centre.

The NLR Editorial locates the origins of the PS’s difficulties in relief against a long line of attempts to create a Republic of the Centre, a term taken from the widely read. La République du centre (1988). In that book, subtitled, La fin de l’exception française, Pierre Rosanvallon, with François Furet and Jacques Julliard, announced the end of French ‘exceptionalism’, above all the persistence of an electorally and socially significant radical left. For Anderson President Mitterrand “had laid the foundations of a stable Republic of the Centre: no longer dependent on the individual charisma of a national hero who was distrustful of parties, but now solidly anchored in a cross-party ideological consensus that capitalism was the only sensible way of organizing modern life.”

Crucial to this turn was not the “stable republic”, a cross-party consensus and left-right alternation of power, but the left’s acceptance of the market. Since the Mitterrand ‘turn’ in 1982-3, the Socialists have constantly drifted, but they have always been marked by efforts to create a market-friendly liberalising ‘republic’. Anderson does not cite exactly why this change happened, here, or in his previous writings on France, where we learnt that it was ‘neoliberal’ and a “decisive turn towards the logic of financial markets”. Indicating, rather than defining ‘neoliberalism’, with the label Hayek stuck on it too boot, obscures what lay at the origin of their trajectory. (2)

The 1982-3 ‘moment’, a conjuncture that brought together political and economic strategic change with a cultural shift towards the market, remains marked in PS history. The Mauroy government, abandoned a strategy, reinforced with the entry of Communist Ministers in the cabinet, of nationalisations, proactive industrial policy, and increased consumption, came as the first Mitterrand governments failed to reduce unemployment or stimulate growth. Put simply, with the world in recession, going it alone was not working. Warnings of economic disaster starring the President and Prime Minister in the face during the summer of 1982 and the judgement that the franc risked going through the floor, strained the country’s membership of the European Monetary System (EMS) to breaking point. Retrenching at this point was more than a “pause” in reform. The government suddenly dropped all the idea of top-down ‘statist’ economic intervention. The initial wave of nationalisations (which remained in place for the time being, including important parts of the banking system) were not the ‘instrument’ of economic growth and social change. Industry had to be “restructured”, that is modernised at the cost of closures and layoffs; budgets had to restrained. The PS, soon free of a vestigial alliance with the Communists (PCF), came to grips with what they considered the impossibility of ‘Keynesianism in one country’. The “mutation” of modern capitalism was embraced.

What remained of a left-wing ambition beyond clamouring for creative destruction and extolling model entrepreneurs? For Anderson, it was the European ideal. For Mitterrand Europe was France’s future and economics had to follow. The two term President seized on “the inspiring ideal of Europe”, that is, staying within the EMS (European Monetary System). It was in its service that the French were called upon to “liberalise and modernise themselves.”

That the austerity programme in 1983, and the zealous pursuit of ‘modernisation’ under the subsequent PM Laurent Fabius, has marked the governing French left ever since is not in doubt. But the alternative answer, argued by the Minister of Industry, Jean-Pierre Chevènement, for France to “go it alone” outside the EMS, may well have led, as his opponents claimed, to a collapse in the franc, and to France going cap in hand, for help to another international “neo-liberal’ institution, the IMF, with an equally severe plan for budget cuts. A left-winger might well ask about the reaction of the labour movement. From Mitterrand’s victory in 1981 to the policy change, there was little popular activity, and the brief displays of CGT militancy that followed the exit of the Communists from government never rose beyond fragmented protest. (3)

The Construction of Europe.

The Centre Can Hold spills the beans on some more confidential reasoning, “In private, Mitterrand—more candid than his successors—knew what that meant, as he confided to his familiar Jacques Attali at the outset: ‘I am divided between two ambitions: the construction of Europe and social justice. The European Monetary System is a condition of success in the first, and limits my freedom in the second.’ Once the eu was in place, every market-friendly initiative could be extolled or excused as required by solidarity with Brussels.”

Is this another way of saying that French politicians, like political figures across the Continent, put responsibility for the unpopular consequences of market-friendly policies, which they fully support, onto ‘Europe’? Or is it to say that “pooling” sovereignty through the EU had given rise to an “accumulation of powers” by the “elites of the Council and Commission and their subordinates”, as Anderson put it in The New Old World (2009)? Is he suggesting that Keynesianism in one country was a viable option, and should have been pursued, regardless of the absence of mass popular mobilisation, and whatever the consequences for the ERM, and France’s position as the “hinge of the European Union”?

One way of avoiding these hard questions is to call upon the people to speak. That is, to demonstrate that, despite having filled their ears with Brussels’ wax, French politicians, unlike Ulysses, have had difficulty in resisting – much much later – the Sirens of popular discontent. Anderson fills several paragraphs with evidence that the masses recoil at pro-market reform. The Centre right has many object lessons in this, “as Juppé discovered in 1995 and De Villepin in 2006.” He then turns to the more difficult task of explaining how ‘neo-liberalism’ could be introduced.

The Centre-left, by contrast, was a better Lieutenant of Capital. It “was the better equipped of the two blocs actually to introduce neoliberal reforms. Resistance to these was always most likely to come from the popular classes where the larger part of its own social base lay, in particular—though not exclusively—from the trade-unions, where only the collaborationist cfdt could be relied on to swallow virtually anything…..still claiming to represent the injured and oppressed—and interpret their best interests—the PS was in a more favourable position to neutralise such opposition, as Valls’s success in ramming through a labour law to please business in 2016 showed. So too it was no accident that over the years the Centre-Left privatised many more public enterprises than the Centre-Right.” Except, of course, that these policies played sufficiently badly with the “popular classes” to contribute to the mass defection that caused this instrument to shatter. As their electoral disaster and the transfer of support elsewhere, including, Anderson notes, many went to La France insoumise.

Fighting Neo-liberalism.

From this account one might ask what is ‘neo-liberalism’ other than any pro-business policy? And what is the alternative other than the resistance of the masses to these measures? And where did these pro-market measures originate? Are they domestically determined, or can we, as appears to be suggested with the evocation of the ‘European ideal’ assign it to forces within the structures of the EU. The New Old World lists a lack of a common democratic will at the European level, the construction, from these quarters, of a Hayekian “semi-catallaxy” of free markets beneath, and an apparatus removed from accountability and stuffed with “prebends”. This picture looms only faintly over the present article. Even that charge-sheet against “self-satisfied” Europe seems feeble set against, to cite a representative from a mountain of critical literature, the account of a neo-liberal European Union apparatus in Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval’s Ce cauchemar qui n’en finit pas (2016) They talk of a “Empire des normes”, budgets, debts, “le bloc idéologique néolibérale”.

Dardot and Laval’s call for countervailing international democratic coalitions, and an “espace oppositionnel mondial” has so far, been largely unheeded. Yet despite the obstacles, the Union remains an area of “pooled sovereignty” in which national governments, if no longer unanimous about ‘rescuing the nation state’, still enjoy the determining power. That the EU – and Anderson, as we will see, homes in on the future of the Eurozone – can be shaped by political will. That domestic policy formation remains the key to change, that Macron’s decisions matter, and efforts to mould or block them, are at least one of the keys to the success or failure of neo-liberal, or, more simply, pro-business acts and legislation. And what could be the role of an opposition to undo Macron’s plans?

END OF PART ONE.

PART 2 TO FOLLOW: THE LEFT AFTER MACRON.

References.

(1) Page 232. Fools, Frauds and Firebrands. Thinkers of the New Left. Roger Scruton Bloomsbury. 2015.

(2) Prognoses. The New Old World. Perry Anderson. Verso. 2009

(3) See Pages 326 – 333. Les Socialistes français et le Pouvoir. Alain Bergounioux and Gérard Grunberg. Fayard. 2005. Pages 362 – 376. Mitterrand A Study in Ambiguity. Phillip Short. The Bodley Head. 2013.

Simone Veil, a Courageous Fighter for Women’s Freedom, passes.

with 2 comments

Image result for simone veil

 

Simone Veil, the revered French politician who survived the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz and defied institutional sexism to push through a law legalising abortion in France, has died on June 30th 2017. She was 89.

France 24.

A widely respected figure across the political divide, Veil was the first female leader of the European Parliament and the recipient of France’s highest distinctions, including a seat among the “Immortals” of the Académie française, the prestigious state-sponsored body overseeing the French language and usage. She was renowned for her endeavours to advance women’s rights and the gracious but steely resolve with which she overcame male resistance throughout a remarkable life scarred by personal tragedy.

As one of the more than 76,000 Jews deported from France during World War II, Veil appears on the Wall of Names at the Shoah Memorial in Paris, under her maiden name Simone Jacob. So do her father André, her mother Yvonne, her sister Madeleine and her brother Jean. Of the five, only Madeleine and Simone survived the ordeal, though Madeleine would die in a car crash just seven years after the war.

Simone was the youngest of four siblings, born in the French Riviera resort of Nice on July 13, 1927, in a family of non-practising Jews. Her father, an award-winning architect, had insisted her mother abandon her studies in chemistry after they married. Like most other Jews in France, he reluctantly obeyed orders once the Nazi-allied Vichy regime came to power in June 1940, registering his family on the infamous “Jewish file” – which would later help French police and the German Gestapo round up France’s Jews and deport them.

As French nationals living in the Italian occupation zone, the Jacob family avoided the first round-ups, which targeted foreign Jews, mainly in the northern half of France that was occupied by German troops. But they suffered the sting of anti-Semitic laws, which forced André Jacob out of work and led to Simone adopting the name Jacquier to conceal her origins.

The situation worsened after September 1943, when the Nazi occupiers swept all the way down to the Riviera. Simone, then aged 16, had only just passed her baccalaureate when she was arrested by two members of the SS on March 30, 1944. The Gestapo soon rounded up the rest of the family with the exception of Simone’s sister Denise, who had joined the Resistance in Lyon. Denise would later be detained and deported to the Ravensbruck concentration camp, from where she returned after the war.

..

Still only 17, Simone returned to France devastated by the loss of her parents and sister, but determined to pursue the career her mother had been denied. She studied law at the University of Paris and the Institut d’études politiques, where she met Antoine Veil (1926-2013), a future company manager and auditor. The couple married in October 1946, and would go on to have three sons, Jean, Nicolas, and Pierre-François.

Simone Veil began work as a lawyer before successfully passing the national examination to become a magistrate in 1956. She then took on a senior position at the National Penitentiary Administration, part of the Ministry of Justice, thereby securing a first platform to pursue a lifelong endeavour of advancing women’s rights. She notably strove to improve women’s conditions in French jails and, during the Algerian War of Independence, obtained the transfer to France of Algerian female prisoners amid reports of widespread abuse and rape.

Switching to the ministry’s department of civil affairs in 1964, Veil continued to push for gender parity in matters of parental control and adoption rights. A decade later, her appointment as health minister in the centre-right administration of President Valéry Giscard D’Estaing paved the way for her biggest political test. She first battled to ease access to contraception, then took on a hostile parliament to argue in favour of a woman’s right to have a legal abortion.

“No woman resorts to an abortion with a light heart. One only has to listen to them: it is always a tragedy,” Veil said in a now-famous opening address on November 26, 1974, before a National Assembly almost entirely composed of men. She added: “We can no longer shut our eyes to the 300,000 abortions that each year mutilate the women of this country, trample on its laws and humiliate or traumatise those who undergo them.”

After her hour-long address, the minister endured a torrent of abuse from members of her own centre-right coalition. One lawmaker claimed her law would “each year kill twice as many people as the Hiroshima bomb”. A second berated the Holocaust survivor for “choosing genocide”. Another still spoke of embryos “thrown into crematorium ovens”.

“I had no idea how much hatred I would stir,” Veil told French journalist Annick Cojean in 2004, reflecting on the vitriolic debate decades earlier. “There was so much hypocrisy in that chamber full of men, some of whom would secretly look for places where their mistresses could have an abortion.”

The bill was eventually passed, thanks to support from the left-wing opposition, though Veil had to withstand the affront of swastikas painted on her car and home. Today, the “loi Veil” enjoys overwhelming support in France, where few mainstream politicians dare to challenge it.

At the end of this fine tribute is written:

 

…she was elected to the Académie française, becoming only the sixth woman to join the prestigious “Immortals”, who preside over the French language. Her ceremonial sword was engraved with the motto of the French Republic (“Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”), that of the European Union (“United in diversity”), and the five digits tattooed on her forearm in the inferno of Auschwitz, which she never removed.

 

Le MondeMort de Simone Veil, icône de la lutte pour les droits des femmes

Libération:   Simone Veil, une femme debout.

The extreme right hated Simone Veil, and still do,

This is a recent Blog piece.

Un site d’extrême droite se réjouit de l’état de santé de Simone Veil

The Communist Party leader saluted Simone Veil.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 30, 2017 at 12:05 pm

Marine Le Pen: Filth.

with 2 comments

Image result for Charlie hebdo Cabu  tendance coatesy

Comrade Cabu, spat on by New Left Review after his murder. 

I have nothing add this this, which is relevant for today,

Written by Andrew Coates

May 7, 2017 at 11:03 am