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Posts Tagged ‘France

Guardian Smears Charlie Hebdo – again.

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Guardian and its like have never pardoned French secularist satire.

After the Charlie Hebdo/hypercacher slaughter The Guardian could just not wait to spit on the corpses of the dead.

Seamus Milne, former Comments Editor at the paper, (now something to do with the Labour Party) stated of its cartoons, “This wasn’t just “depictions” of the prophet, but repeated pornographic humiliation.” Milne put the blame for the attacks down to Western policy in the Middle East and the ‘war on terror’.

This is their angle during the present week:

How did Charlie Hebdo get it so wrong?

In blaming all followers of Islam for terrorism, the French magazine is finding its catharsis in bigotry.

The editorial then laid the blame squarely on two factors – the complicity of the average, unaffiliated Muslim, and the erosion of secularism by a conspiracy of silence. Terrorism was fomented, it said, and people died because society could not voice discomfort at the many little “iceberg tips” of religious expression that had cumulatively eroded laïcité – the secularism written into the French constitution. Terrorism happened, in short, because freedom of speech was curbed.

The editorial gives credence and sanction to the view that there is no such thing as an innocent Muslim. That even those who do not themselves commit terrorism, somehow by just existing and practising, are part of a continuum that climaxes with two men blowing themselves up in Brussels airport.

I assume Malik is not a French speaker, or she would have read that the  Editorial – in the original – was signed by Riss, somebody not held in universally high regard in secularist left quarters.

That is to say, it’s more what English speaking journalists  would call an “Op-Ed”, an opinion piece,  than an authoritative statement of the weekly’s views.

It is also translated into what one can only call an “approximate” English; a task in any case facing difficulties for Riss’s highly colloquial style. (1)

The English title reads, How did we end up here?

The French reads: Qu’est-ce que je fous là ? – which most would agree is somewhat different to the former.

Riss asks, after the Brussels attacks,

In reality, the attacks are merely the visible part of a very large iceberg indeed. They are the last phase of a process of cowing and silencing long in motion and on the widest possible scale. Our noses are endlessly rubbed in the rubble of Brussels airport and in the flickering candles amongst the bouquets of flowers on the pavements. All the while, no one notices what’s going on in Saint-German-en-Laye. Last week, Sciences-Po* welcomed Tariq Ramadan. He’s a teacher, so it’s not inappropriate. He came to speak of his specialist subject, Islam, which is also his religion. Rather like lecture by a Professor of Pies who is also a pie-maker. Thus judge and contestant both.

I assume the Guardian has no French speaking journalists, or at least those that follow French politics.

Ramadan, who “puts himself forward as a man of dialogue, someone open to a debate” has hit the French news recently (19th of March) because of this:

Tariq Ramadan reconnait avoir rejoint l’Union mondiale des savants musulmans (UMSM)*.  Une organisation sur la liste des organisations terroristes des Emirats Arabes Unis. L’Union mondiale des savants musulmans est dirigé par le sulfureux théologien des Frères Musulmans : Youssef Al Qaradawi.

L’homme, recherché par Interpol, est un « savant » antisémite, homophobe, auteur d’une fatwa autorisant à mener des attentats suicide. Une fatwa que l’on retrouve sur plusieurs sites du Hamas. Youssef Al Qaradawi a aussi réclamé la destruction de mausolées chiites et  justifié l’assassinat de personnalités comme Mouammar Kadhafi  et Saïd Ramadan Al Boutih.

Tariq Ramadan has admitted having joined the International Union of Muslim Scholars. This organisation is on the Arab Emirates List of terrorist organisations. It is run by the Muslim Brotherhood theologian Youssef Al Qaradawi.

This man, wanted by Interpol, is a ‘scholar’, who is anti semitic and homophobic. Qaradawi is the author of a Fatwa authorising suicide bombings – found on many Hamas sites. He has also called for the destruction of Shiite Mausoleums and justified the killings of Gadafi and Saïd Ramadan Al Boutih.

Tariq Ramadan fait enfin son « coming out ».

The controversy over whether one should debate with this figure – in view of the above facts about his racist far-right links, has been stormy.

This appeared a couple of days ago:

Le Monde: « Accepter le débat avec Tariq Ramadan ne signifie pas être d’accord avec lui »

As for blaming the ‘average Muslim’ for genocidal terrorism I find no evidence in Riss’ article.

What he does do, and in a highly questionable way, is to place the spread of cultural Islam – with all its intolerance and attempts to impose its ‘law’ on everyday life, alongside the fact of the killings.

“From the bakery that forbids you to eat what you like, to the woman who forbids you to admit that you are troubled by her veil, we are submerged in guilt for permitting ourselves such thoughts. ”

The device of citing anecdotes about bakeries and the Burka in the context of murder is more than doubtful:.

It is precisely the kind of ranting which prevents secularist opposition to the religious imposition of veiling  (a declaration of ‘purity’ against the ‘impure’) getting a hearing.

But that is Riss, and a good reason why his thoughts are not treated with seriousness that the Guardian and like-minded mates  claim for it.

Another Guardian article by their ‘religious correspondent Harriet Sherwood (Charlie Hebdo criticised for linking all Muslims to Brussels bombings) lists their manufactured outrage.

As Sarah Brown  says,

I was looking again at the possibilities I started out with and thought I should make clear that I don’t think this is ‘an attack on all Muslims as potential fifth columnists’. Some have been saying it as good as paints all Muslims as terrorists and that’s clearly not the case.

To repeat, Riss puts alongside these observations, he does not link them in a causal chain.

Mailk concludes,

The magazine characterises its mission as war with a “silencing” establishment, and sees only one way to prevail: more freedom of expression, more secularism. But its thesis needs to be challenged. Is this silenced, hesitant, subdued France that Hebdo describes the country in which a minister called women in hijab “negroes who accept slavery”? If that is too timid, what would it propose: banning hijabs, banning beards?

To employ Hebdo’s own concluding rhetorical device, let us ask “the world’s oldest and most important question”: how the hell did we end up here? Imagine being that liberal, energised by the moral certainty of your secularism, sustained by belief in the supremacy of your values and righteous indignation. Mightn’t you ask yourself: how the hell did I end up here, advocating bigotry and prejudice?

Perhaps Malik might care to make some observations about the bigotry and prejudice of the scholarly  organisation the eminent Oxford Professor, Tariq Ramadan has recently joined?

But, no, silence.

The Guardian one notes does not exactly open its pages to defenders of Charlie Hebdo either.

 (1) This is today’s example of the ‘English’ version of the Editorial:

This week’s big debate was about the reality of Salah Abdeslam’s perpetuity. About his eventual sentence. Whether ‘life’ was going to mean life. A wind of panic swept over some of us when we realised that the possibility of a life sentence (that most perpetual of perpetuities) was not quite ‘real’ because, in the normal course of things, after a few decades of imprisonment, there was a chance that he might be released.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 6, 2016 at 12:12 pm

France: Nuit debout – the new Indignados – and Demonstrations against new labour laws.

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We Wish Our French Comrades Well!

Could the #NuitDebout movement become France’s Indignados?

France 24.

The NuitDebout (Night on Our Feet) movement, which has occupied Paris’s Place de la République for four nights in a row, is not your average French protest, but could it reach the levels of the Occupy or Indignados movements?

NuitDebout started like many other French demonstrations. Student and workers groups who oppose François Hollande’s planned labour reform law, which they say will make it easier for struggling companies to fire workers, organised a protest march on March 31.

But after the march many participants wanted to continue the protest and expand their message. They proposed three nights of occupation in République, which they called March 31st, 32nd and 33rd, and came up with the name NuitDebout to express their defiance. Between 1000 and 2000 people attended each night, according to organisers, although by 8pm on Saturday there were probably a few hundred.

“Most protests in France, we go in the street, we express ourselves and then each of us goes home. It’s a little sad,” one NuitDebout protester explained on Saturday night. “But here [in République] something else is being built.”

“We aren’t on our knees, we aren’t in bed, we’re standing up,” explained a communications spokesperson and initiator of NuitDebout, who asked to be identified as Camille.

Protesters point to diverse motivations for the movement, including the proposed labour reform, popularly known as the El Khomri law; the hit documentary film “Merci, Patron!“, which ridicules France’s richest man, billionaire Bernard Arnault; solidarity with French Goodyear tyre plant workers who kidnapped their bosses in 2014; and objections to the controversial Notre Dame des Landes airport project.

A crowd of Camilles

For now though, NuitDebout protesters are avoiding specific demands. Instead, they emphasise their dissatisfaction with France’s treasured republican ideals, which they see as not truly democratic.

“The people who come here don’t agree with the way the government runs things. The idea is to reconstruct a system that starts with the citizen,” said another protester, who also asked to be identified as Camille.

That’s right, when speaking to the press they all want to be identified as Camille, a gender-neutral first name in French.

But this policy of vagueness and anonymity is strategic. NuitDebout is taking many cues from the Occupy movement in the United States and the Indignados movement in Spain, both of which mobilised hundreds of thousands of people in anti-corporate and anti-austerity protests in 2011 and 2012.

NuitDebout is hoping, as Occupy and Indignados participants did, that a focus on organisation and structure will allow them to build a movement that can sustain itself and be taken seriously in the long run.

“Usually citizens movements [in France] are associated with a political party or a union, but here there’s no flag in the square,” said Camille the communications spokesperson. “It’s completely directed by the citizens.”

Much of their organisational structure is borrowed from the American and Spanish movements: Committees of 30 to 100 people each direct the movement’s communication, logistics, security and entertainment. Major decisions are made at a “general assembly” at 6pm, where anyone can put their name on a list to speak. People show approval by waving, and votes are decided by a simple show of hands. So far there have been two general assemblies, on Friday and Saturday, where the main issue being voted was whether to come back the next night.

The communications committee maintains a stylish social media presence on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr. The NuitDebout pages feature attractive anti-corporate graphics that could have been designed by advertising firms, and their posts carefully avoid inflammatory rhetoric.

One member of the communications committee explained that he also works in communications in his professional life.

“A kind of awakening”

There has been a conscious effort to put NuitDebout in an international context alongside Occupy in the United States and Indignados and Podemos in Spain. Spanish headlines and have referred to a “primavera francesa”, or French spring, and social media users frequently put #NuitDebout and #Occupy in the same posts. Camille, the communications spokesperson, said organisers from Spain had come to Paris to advise NuitDebout.

But while the Indignados protests drew about 20,000 people in May 2011, and the Occupy movement gathered between 2,000 and 15,000 protesters in 2011 and 2012, NuitDebout has so far reached at most 1000 to 2000, according to organisers. The general assembly on Saturday night saw only a few hundred.

Marta, a student from Barcelona who lives in Paris now, has participated in both the Indignados and NuitDebout protests, and was at République on Saturday night.

“We see that there’s a kind of awakening of people who are mobilising, but for the moment I think their demands lack precision,” Marta said. “There are lots of groups with lots of demands, but they haven’t converged yet.”

Riot police again showed up at Républque around 5 o’clock Sunday morning. But this time there weren’t enough protestors to disperse. Instead, as people snapped photos that would show up on the NuitDebout Twitter feed the next day, the police took off their helmets, chatted with protesters and smiled.

More protests are taking place this week Contre la loi travail, une semaine sociale sur tous les fronts.

The Nuits Debout movement continues.

Objectifs, organisation, ambition…, comment se structurent les «indignés de République».

Originally called by the collective Convergence des luttes and backed by the journal Fakir, (Journal fâché avec tout le monde – angry with everybody) Nuits debout (Nights standing up)  began after last week’s demonstration against the new Labour Laws. They occupied the Place de la République. They were removed by the police. They came back. They are still there (La « Nuit debout » continue de rassembler place de la République à Paris).

Their objective extends well beyond defeating the ‘El Khomri’ labour law: this is but a branch of a tree which must be felled («Cette loi n’est qu’une branche d’un arbre immense qu’il faut abattre»)

Discussions in general assemblies are taking place on the whole gamut of social problems in France. Decisions are taken with some elements of Occupy practice with direct democracy and voting by hands raised (but no enforcement of the stifling ‘consensus’ model: “ces suggestions sont votées à la majorité et notées dans un registre”), such as the use of a “moderator” and calls for a clam exchange of views.  Unfortunately we note that a  series of bizarre ‘ipster’ gestures are used to participate in debates. We strongly suspect the model of the ‘Zadistes’ (French Swampies) at work in importing this practice. (1)

There is a cultural wing, including a “gang of clowns”, and the use of social networks.

The movement has expanded across France (details to follow…)

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(1) Zadistes, ZAD, from Zone à Defendre, that is places to defend against development, notably against the construction of the airport at Notre-Dame-des Landes, (a ‘funny’ turnaround of the official term, zone d’aménagement différé). 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 5, 2016 at 10:51 am

Badiou Studies Hit by Sokal-style “Intellectual Impostures” Affair.

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 Staff T-Shirt in Craft-Beer and Quinoa Hoxton Bistro.

 

This recently appeared: Badiou Studies Volume Four, Number One. Ontology, Neutrality and the Strive for (non)Being Benedetta Tripodi. Universitatea Alexandru Ioan Cuza, Iasi, Romania.

Badiou_studies_1er_avril

Unfortunately, as this just published piece explains, Un « philosophe français » label rouge. Relecture tripodienne d’Alain Badiou,  the article is a pastiche and satire –  albeit with serious intent.

Which reminds us of this: the Sokal Affair.

The Sokal affair, also called the Sokal hoax, was a publishing hoax perpetrated by Alan Sokal, a physics professor at New York University and University College London. In 1996, Sokal submitted an article to Social Text, an academic journal of postmodern cultural studies. The submission was an experiment to test the journal’s intellectual rigor and, specifically, to investigate whether “a leading North American journal of cultural studies – whose editorial collective includes such luminaries as Fredric Jameson and Andrew Ross – [would] publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if (a) it sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors’ ideological preconceptions”.

The article, “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity“, was published in the Social Text spring/summer 1996 “Science Wars” issue. It proposed that quantum gravity is a social and linguistic construct. At that time, the journal did not practice academic peer review and it did not submit the article for outside expert review by a physicist.[3][4] On the day of its publication in May 1996, Sokal revealed in Lingua Franca that the article was a hoax, identifying it as “a pastiche of left-wing cant, fawning references, grandiose quotations, and outright nonsense … structured around the silliest quotations [by postmodernist academics] he could find about mathematics and physics.

Last autumn the ‘peer reviewed’ academic journal  Badiou Studies called for papers for a special issue, “towards a queer badiouian feminism “.

The merry pair,  Anouk Barberousse & Philippe Huneman,   sent their text off and it was accepted.

We hear that the learned Badiou Studies has just now rumbled the prank.

Badiou is, as they observe, highly regarded not just in France (where he is at the pinnacle of a certain academic establishment, while being cordially loathed by those in different camps) but in the world of Cultural Studies, Film Studies, White Studies, Heritage Studies, Postcolonial Studies and one could add Verso books who publish his ponderings. Terry Eagleton has called him The Greatest Philosopher since Plato and St Ignatius of Loyola” – the latter no doubt not without a ring of a certain ‘truth regime’.

Badiou is also known for his ‘Maoist’ past, his support for the Khmer Rouge, and the bullying of other leftist and academics by his 1970’s groupusucle the Union des communistes de France marxiste-léniniste (UCFml).

He remains unwavering in his glorification of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. This apparently is one of the Events that demonstrate the Truth of the Communist Idea to which he remains faithful.

As Barberousse and Huneman remark, most of Badiou’s admirers like his politics – his ‘Communist Hypothesis’ – while grasping little or nothing of his metaphysics (“Badiousiens « politiques » se satisfont de savoir que cette métaphysique est profonde, mais ils n’y comprennent rien.”)

Their approach is the following,

Aussi incroyablement irritantes que puissent être certaines des postures d’Alain Badiou, entre mégalomanie et violence verbale réminiscence des plus belles heures de feu la gauche prolétarienne, c’est sa place et son aura intellectuelles qu’il s’agit de déconstruire ici. Nous n’avons pas tant voulu produire une argumentation à charge, qu’une illustration par l’absurde de certaines failles dans son système de positions comme dans l’engagement de ses sectateurs.

As unbelievably irritating as certain of Alain Badiou’s posturings may be, between megalomania and a verbal violence which recalls the incandescence of the glory days of the gauche prolétarienne (French ultra-Maoist group of the early 1970s), its his position and intellectual aura which we aimed to deconstruct. We did not want  to produce a charge-sheet but show by illustration the absurdity of certain weak points in his system and seize them with a pair of secateurs.

Pour clarifier le projet Tripodi, il faut tout d’abord décrire en

They contest what is in effect a legitimation of philosophy by an abstract ontology (une légitimation pour la métaphysique du philosophe). Or to be more clearly, the idea that you can produce a rational picture of the world by intellectual fiat while concealing  the many difficulties it involves.

The parody is designed to undermine the foundations on which the ontology of the ‘Master’ rests, its use to determine how social relations work, how radical politics can be based, and, apart from anything else, is highly amusing.

The ‘paper’  Ontology, Neutrality and the Strive for (non)Being  begins:

As established by Badiou in Being and Event , mathematics – as set theory – is the ultimate ontology. Sets are what gender in g processes by reactionary institutions intend to hold, in contradiction to the status of the multiplicities proper to each subject qua subject. This tension between subjectivity and gender comes to the fore through the lens of the ‘count as ‘one’, the onto logical operator identified by Badiou as the fluid mediator between set  belonging and set existence. After having specified these ontological preliminaries, this paper will show that the genuine subject of feminism is the “many” that is negatively referred to through the “count as  one” posited by the gendering of “the” woman. Maintaining the openness of this “many” is an interweaving philosophical endeavour. It is also a political task for any theory receptive to the oppressive load proper to the institutions of sexuation, as deployed through modern capitalism that is, any queer theory. In its second step, the paper will therefore expose the adequacy of the Badiousian ontology to provide theoretical resources for articulating the field of a genuine queer nomination. It will finally appear that “non gender” structurally corresponds in the field of a post capitalist politics of the body to what Francois Laruelle (1984) designated as non philosophie within the field of metaphysics.

This is priceless.

“To sum up, non-gender cannot but only be thought of, by a radical philosophical gesture, as a supplement of this philosophy itself. As such a supplement, non gender hasto be where philosophy is not meant to be, even when it shows instead of saying(according to the well known Wittgensteinian distinction) or, shows through its non saying that this situation is a non situation, or, in Badiousian words, that we have the situation of a condition that is a non condition.”

Conclusion.

What matters to this truth is a faithfulness to the “many” that was unnamed but arising in the event of feminism. It is the faithfulness to the Impensé of the gendering institutions proper to late capitalism – in other words, a faithfulness to the (non) gender (Bersanti 1987; Magnus 2006). Here, we reach the limits of what philosophy – conceived of in Badiousian terms, as exposing the conditions of an authentic event of truth through the subjectification of a subject– can frame, or, more generally, can utter.

The suggestion that Jacobin was about the publish an interview with Benedetta Tripodi has been denied.

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 2, 2016 at 4:06 pm

Rise of hate speech and violence motivated by racism and intolerance in France: Council of Europe Report.

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Hate Speech in France (Newsweek).

France: Anti-racism commission concerned at rise of hate speech and violence motivated by intolerance.

Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland has endorsed a new report on France which reveals a rise in hate speech and racist violence.

“I commend the significant efforts made by the French authorities to combat racism and intolerance,” Jagland said on the publication today of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) report.

“However, hate speech, which has become commonplace in the public sphere, remains a matter of concern. I call on political leaders in particular to refrain from making comments which stigmatise already vulnerable groups and fuel tensions in French society.”

Human Rights Europe.

Council of Europe Anti-Racism Commission expresses concern at the rise of hate speech and violence motivated by racism and intolerance in France. (Press Release).

Strasbourg, 1 March 2016 – The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today publishes its fifth report on France in which it analyses recent developments and outstanding issues and makes recommendations to the authorities.

“I commend the significant efforts made by the French authorities to combat racism and intolerance. However, hate speech, which has become commonplace in the public sphere, remains a matter of concern. I call on political leaders in particular to refrain from making comments which stigmatise already vulnerable groups and fuel tensions in French society”, said Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland on the occasion of the publication of this report.

On the positive side, ECRI welcomes measures taken by France, including the creation of a post of inter-ministerial co-ordinator for combating racism and intolerance, the adoption of two plans for combating racism and antisemitism, the prosecution and conviction of persons responsible for hate crimes and the introduction of a new curriculum providing education in civic and democratic values.

In the area of integration, ECRI notes with satisfaction the strengthening of the reception and integration contract system through a mechanism to facilitate job-seeking, and the reform of lower secondary education designed to foster social mixing. These measures must now quickly deliver results. In addition to this, the authorities are reminded of the adoption of a circular aimed at ensuring that the dismantling of illegal Roma camps is accompanied by assistance measures.

ECRI expresses concern over the high level of under-reporting of racist crime, the cuts in budgets earmarked for integration policies and the remaining gaps in the criminal-law provisions relating to hate speech. In this connection, the authorities are called on to take measures to ensure that racist motivation and motives related to sexual orientation and gender identity are made an aggravating circumstance of any ordinary criminal offence.

ECRI is alarmed at the rise of hate speech and the increase in racist, antisemitic and islamophobic violence. “Although it was drafted before the November 2015 attacks in Paris, the report contains recommendations to the French authorities which are fully relevant today”, said ECRI’s Chair.

The following two recommendations are to be implemented on a priority basis and will be the subject of interim follow-up by ECRI within two years:

– revise school curricula and teacher training programmes to promote a better understanding of issues relating to religion and immigration;
– ensure that no legitimate residence (“domiciliation”) application submitted by members of groups such as Roma is turned down and reduce processing times so that these persons can be given access to basic rights.

The report, including Government observations, is available here. It was prepared following ECRI’s visit to France in March 2015 [Press release] and takes account of developments up to 18 June 2015.

ECRI is a human rights body of the Council of Europe, composed of independent experts, which monitors problems of racism, xenophobia, antisemitism, intolerance and discrimination on grounds such as “race”, national/ethnic origin, colour, citizenship, religion and language (racial discrimination); it prepares reports and issues recommendations to member States.

Council of Europe.

Le Monde comments after this press release,

Council of Europe experts  expressed concern on Tuesday the 1st oat March in the “banalisation” of racist discourse in France . They also denounced an increase in xenophobic,  antisemitic and Islamophobic acts. According to data from the Ministry of Interior, violence associated with these prejudices has increased by 14% between 2012 and 2014, including a rise of 36% for anti-Semitic acts. In their report the experts of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) also denounce homophobia and anti-Roma discrimination.

The text mentions an alarming persistence of Islamophobic discourse, particularly among political leaders such as the president of the Front National, Marine Le Pen, who in December 2010 compared Moslem street prayers to the German occupation in December 2010, or the mayor of Meaux Jean- Francois Copé (Note: a leading figure in the main right wing party, Les Républicains, at present battling it out with Sarkozy) ), who in October 2012 spoke of  Muslim “louts” who snatched a pain au chocolat from a youngster on the grounds that  “we do not eat during Ramadan”.

The Commission also regrets decisions taken “in the name of a restrictive conception of secularism” that can be “seen as sources of discrimination”. As an example they cite the decision taken in 2015  by the mayor of Chalon-sur-Saône, Gilles Platret to remove from the menus of school canteens alternatives without pork products.

 

The organisation also calls to legislate to make racism or homophobia  “an aggravating circumstance in any ordinary criminal offence” . This is a reform promised several times last year by President Francois Hollande .

As for Roma, the French politicians should give them a legal address, even if they have no permanent residence, so as not to hinder their access “to basic rights” , including the schooling of their children.

Finally, ECRI regrets inflation hate speech on the Internet and social networks , “despite the authorities’ efforts to curb this phenomenon”  The same phenomenon was observed during the protests against the introduction of gay marriage in early 2013.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

March 1, 2016 at 12:19 pm

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Man of Destiny, Announces Presidential Bid to Lead France.

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Mélenchon: Man of Destiny.

Jean-Luc Melenchon announces 2017 France presidency bid

Jean-Luc Mélenchon annonce sa candidature à l’élection présidentielle.

(Freely Translated)

Mélenchon intends to represent a “France proud of being rebellious.”

Humanity’s general interest has to be uppermost today. Climate change has started: this is the time to  transform our ways of producing, exchanging and consuming. 

To the question of who supported this surprise announcement Mr Mélenchon replied, addressing humanity in general, replied: “My convictions,   that’s the most important, and perhaps the French people. They can do nothing at present about the conditions I’ve just described as long as they are tied to European Treaties.”

Mélenchon’s bid stand for humanity in next year’s French Presidential election not been universally welcomed.

The Parti Communiste Français (PCF), partners in the left bloc, the Front de gauche(FdG), expressed surprise at the declaration. Their spokesperson Olivier Dartigolles noted that Mélenchon had not bothered to discuss his decision with the other parties inside the FdG.  He had only become aware of the decision through watching the television channel TF1.  Clémentine Autain, representative of the other main group in the FdG, Ensemble, has so far remained silent.

The PCF is involved in a campaign for a “primary” extending across the left to elect a common candidate for the Presidential elections.

More:  Jean-Luc Mélenchon, une présidentielle sans parti ni primaire. Rachid Laïreche

A man of destiny, addressing the French People, has little need for such carping at this historic moment.

In a fitting style Mélenchon has created his own movement for  “La France insoumise, le peuple souverain.”

In the founding statement he notes that the coming eleciton, and his candidature, can be an opportunity for our people, to turn the page on a cruel and unjust order that reigns in our land and our continent” “The (French) Presidential Monarchy, and the present European Treaties, deprive our People of the means to settle our problems. These are the roots of our wretchedness; they must be swiftly chopped off.”

Je vous propose ma candidature pour l’élection présidentielle de 2017. Cette élection peut-être une chance pour notre peuple. C’est l’occasion de tourner pacifiquement et démocratiquement la page de l’ordre injuste et cruel dans lequel s’enfonce notre pays et notre continent. 2017 sera une année décisive : un nouveau traité européen sera proposé et le projet de marché commun avec les États-Unis sera achevé. Il faut les refuser. C’est le moment d’agir. Soyons la France insoumise.

Le changement climatique a commencé. Il ne faut plus céder aux lobbys productivistes pour changer notre façon de produire et de consommer. Soyons le peuple souverain.

Ma proposition de candidature est donc un appel à l’engagement. Il s’adresse à qui a compris ce point essentiel : tant que dureront la monarchie présidentielle et les traités européens actuels, notre peuple sera privé de tout pouvoir pour régler ses problèmes. Là est la racine de toutes nos misères, celle qu’il faut trancher d’urgence.

The Anti-Racism and Anti-Imperialism of Fools: the Indigènes de la République against class-struggle.

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Ni patrie ni frontières !

This is an important left-wing contribution to the critique of the ‘anti-imperialism of fools’.

Although the context is French and Dutch there are many implications for Britain and the wider anglophone world.

From mondialisme.org, the journal: Ni patrie ni frontières. 

Antiracism and class struggle in France : dialogue around the PIR (Parti des Indigènes de la République).

Late 2014, early 2015, a debate took place in the Netherlands between various leftist organizations and Sandew Hira, a historian who has taken the initiative, together with others, to build the Decolonise The Mind (DTM) movement in the Netherlands. The debate began after rapper Insayno was rejected to speak at an anti-racist demonstration. In one of his raps he had asserted : “The treatment of the concentration camps is only a joke compared to our slave trade”. After some discussion about the scientific nonsense, the political  destructiveness and the heartlessness of comparing the various massacres in this way, the debate quickly turned to how to organise against racism, the role of white people in the anti-racism struggle, and how the Left and the DTM movement could struggle side by side.

During the debate we asked Hira about the ideas and principles of DTM. He explained them quite clearly, but we did not really get to know much about the practice of the new movement. At the moment it seems mainly engaged in the training of activists, most of whom seem to have been active in the anti-racism and pro-Palestine movements. DTM is still a relatively small, mainly academic movement that does not organize actions or campaigns by itself.

In the debate and also in various meetings Hira often mentioned that he has two important international friends with whom he cooperates very closely : Ramon Grosfoguel of the Berkeley University of California and Houria Bouteldja of the movement “Les Indigènes de la République” in France. That organisation celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2015 and already had quite some time to build a movement, even outside the universities.

We asked two French comrades what they knew about those Indigènes. How does this movement operates, and how are their ties with the extra-parliamentary Left ? In this way we might be able to take a little look at the future of a part of the anti-racism movement in the Netherlands. That’s important, because as those who followed the debate may have noticed, we at Doorbraak are not too keen on how Hira and DTM try to insert some not so liberating ideas into the growing movement against racism.

Of course, the French situation is very different from the Dutch one. In both countries there is indeed a lot of racism, a legacy of the shared colonial past, but the Left and the anti-racism movement in France are really much bigger. Progressive intellectuals also play a much more important role, and there are constantly great nation wide debates, also on racism. However, the practical organizational activism seems to be relatively modest.

We asked our questions to Nad, with whom we organized two meetings in 2012 on the jobless movement RTO in which she is active, and Yves Coleman of the magazine “Ni patrie ni frontières” (“No country, no borders”) and our regular translator. Both live in Paris and are very involved in the anti-racism struggle. Nad answered the first three questions, and Coleman the rest. And because both, of course, did not always agree with each other, we offered them the opportunity afterwards to respond on each others answers with critiques and additions. So we started with Nad.

The present document is a record of questions put to Nad and Yves Colman.

It should not be necessary to say this but both are, by PIR terms, indigènes.

The initial section of the debate takes up the origins of the Parti des Indigènes de la République (PIR)  and their 2005  Manifesto L’appel des « Indigènes de la République . Many people, including this writer, were struck by the serious tone of the latter document. It was set out by a variety of individuals, mostly involved in minority immigrant associations. Its wider support included political activists of the mainstream left,  various ‘other globalisation’ movements (Attac)  active in those days,  and some on the Trotskyist left.

The group was soon criticised  by people for whom who I have respect.  Claude Liauzu (1940 – 2007), author of the indispensable Histoire de l’anticolonialisme en France, du XVIe siècle à nos jours (2007) accused them of ” reducing colonialisation to a crime, and reducing present-day problems to the reproduction of colonial racialism, and reducing the study of the past to a search for repentance. (Manipulations de l’histoire. Claude Liauzu. Le Monde Diplomatique April 2007).

As a ‘party’, created in 2008, the group continues to influence debate on race in France.

But it has been challenged on the left.

Last year this was translated: Toward a materialist approach to the racial question: A response to the Indigènes de la République. Malika Amaouche, Yasmine Kateb, & Léa Nicolas-Teboul Vacarme (June 25, 2015).

The PIR’s spokesperson, Houria Bouteldja, has, over the years, made many ‘controversial’ comments, including the claim that homosexuality does not exist in low income “popular”  French areas,

France: After the Regional Elections, Will the Front de gauche break up?

with one comment

Mélenchon: With Spring, Flowers Bloom.

Left Front Rethinking.

Extracts. 

The Communist Party spokesman Olivier Dartigolles stated on Monday that the Front de gauche (Left Front) had “got it wrong” and would “review everything from top to bottom”. L’Humanité.

“The Left Front was created precisely to avoid what has happened right in front of our eyes in these regional elections, so it’s a failure, we have to review everything from top to bottom,” warned the leading Communist. He said that they could not “start again as if nothing had happened” and talked about “complete overhaul of the Front de gauche”. As for working with the former presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, he announce that his party had not closed the door on the chief of the Parti de gauche, saying that “there will need everyone”. He preferred nevertheless the idea of “bringing millions of people into battle.”

“Olivier Dartigolles continued, that following statements of Parti Socialist General Secretary Christophe Cambadélis that they would finally have a debate on fundamental policies. He hoped that there would be an opening of this discussion  “with those that the PS, and they are many, who do not want… (Note: that is existing government strategy)…) and everyone’s on their left. ” “I would also include the trade union left, associative and intellectual forces,” he added, but “certainly not” Emmanuel Macron. ” (Economics Minister).

There are long-standing tensions between Jean Luc Mélenchon and the other parties and groups in the Front de gauche – particularly over the PCF’s agreements with the Parti Socialiste in elections. More here: Après les régionales, le Front de gauche en voie de dislocation.

In the Regional election, Jean-Luc Mélenchon refused to give a recommendation on who to vote for in second round contests, that pitted the Front National against Sarkozy’s Les Républicains. (Régionales : Jean-Luc Mélenchon ne veut donner aucune consigne de vote pour les deuxièmes tours LR-FN).

Mélenchon has called for a “ véritable front populaire ”

In a lyrical Blog post after the Regional election results Mélenchon writes, “Que vienne l’heure du peuple !” – May the Time of the People Come!

He ends,

Mais je le dis avec espoir : à proportion du danger que vous avez vécu, vous savez que vous êtes appelés dorénavant à prendre votre part à l’autre bataille démocratique qui dorénavant s’avance avec l’élection présidentielle. Il faut qu’elle soit l’heure du peuple contre l’oligarchie, l’heure du rassemblement pour une république qui ne se contente pas de débiter comme un moulin sa devise mais qui fasse vivre réellement l’aspiration à l’égalité et à la fraternité autant qu’a la liberté. Je sais, mes chers compatriotes, que nous avançons dans l’hiver. Mais je sais aussi que toujours le printemps revient. Toujours. Et avec lui, les fleurs et la promesse de leurs fruits. »

But I say this with hope: after the dangers that you have lived through, you know that  as the presidential election gets nearer, you are called to take your part in a democratic battle. This contest must be the time of the people against the oligarchy, the time of joining together for a republic that does not reduce its motto to phrase-mongering,  but brings into reality the aspirations to equality, to fraternity as well as liberty. I know, my beloved countrymen and women, that we are in the middle of winter. But I also know that spring always returns. Always. And with it, flowers bloom with the promise of fruit.

Mélenchon scored 11.05% in the 2012 Presidential election (first round) as the candidate of the Front de gauche (FdG). He is the founder of the Parti de gauche, (PdG) a split from the French Socialist party.

The original FdG bloc included the Parti communiste français (PCF) the Parti de gauche (PG) of Jean-Luc MélenchonRépublique et socialisme, the Fédération pour une alternative sociale et écologique (FASE), Convergences et alternative, Le Parti communiste des ouvriers de France the Gauche anticapitaliste (GA), Les Alternatifs.

At present the PCF, the Parti de gauche, and Ensemble (which regrouped a number of the above organisations together), are the FdG’ s main components.

The Parti de Gauche has been accused of having as its principal preoccupation preparing Mélenchon’s bid for the Presidential contest of 2017.

In January 2014 the PdG totaled 9,000 members, but only 1,700 activists participated in the voting for their annual conference platforms this year. They have serious internal differences on the Euro, with a strong minority calling for France to leave the Eurozone and relations with other sections of the Front de Gauche over electoral agreements with the Parti Socialiste (the party the organisation originated in).

In the Regional elections that just took place the Parti de Gauche obtained 7 councillors.

The PCF has around 130,000 members, and around 29 regional councillors.

While the FdG has its serious problems, it is doubtful if the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste’s response to these results (from a party unable to stand in these elections) will receive any echo whatsoever,

These elections have shown that there is no political representation for the exploited. For the world of labour, the most urgent task is to build the mobilizations, return to the path of struggle: for lifting the state of emergency, which has had the practical effect of silencing the social movement around COP21, Air France, against the NDDL airport, for the defence of migrants, etc. More than that, the building of an anti-capitalist political alternative, a new emancipatory project, remains more relevant than ever.

NPA. Montreuil 13 December 2015

Written by Andrew Coates

December 15, 2015 at 12:29 pm