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Posts Tagged ‘French Left

Welcome Sign of Unity on French Left.

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This is extremely good news.


Elections régionales : EELV, le PCF, LFI et le PS font front commun derrière Karima Delli dans les Hauts-de-France

“grand slam” to ensure the return of a left that has disappeared from the region under pressure from the extreme right: representatives of Europe Ecologie Les-Verts (EELV), the French Communist Party (PCF), La France insoumise (LFI) and the Socialist Party (PS) announced, Thursday March 11, that they had reached agreement to unite in Hauts-de-France for the regional elections.

Negotiated for months, this agreement “unique at this time in France” places the Green MEP Karima Delli as head of the list, specifies the text, signed by the Communist,  and Socialist leaders, the deputies of the North Fabien Roussel (PCF) and Ugo Bernalicis (LFI) and the North Senator Patrick Kanner (PS). The objective “is to ensure that history does not repeat itself” and “to seek an exemplary victory for all of France,” Ms. Delli told Agence France-Presse (AFP) .

Hauts-de-France, whose capital is Lille, could in many respects to former industrial and mining areas in the North of England. Like one time Red Wall seats which voted for the hard right Brexit and Tories in the last election, some parts of it has moved to the extreme right Rassemblement National.

Les territoires de la région Hauts-de-France sont plutôt ancrés à gauche, toutefois au cours de ces derniers années, on remarque une montée du vote pour l’extrême droite ou populiste de droite, notamment dans les anciennes cités minières .

The territories of the Hauts-de-France region tend to be on the left, however in recent years, it has been marked by a rise in the vote for the extreme right or populist right , especially in the former mining towns.




There are hopes this example may spread, although in other regions the left is far from negotiating a parallel united front. The General Secretary of the Parti Socialiste Olivier Faure has called for regional lefts to face up to their responsibilities. In the Huffington Post political scientist Bruno Cautrès has  noted that the electorally winning strategy of left unity began at a local level in the 1970s. For the moment this looks unlikely for next year’s Presidential elections.

Régionales: la gauche unie dans les Hauts-de-France, laboratoire ou exception?   Anthony Berthelier


Written by Andrew Coates

March 12, 2021 at 10:44 am

Arnaud Montebourg Launches Presidential Bid: Sovereigntists and Political Confusionists.

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Arnaud Montebourg, créateur des miels Bleu Blanc Ruche, sur le marché de Louhans ce lundi 10 juin | Voix du Jura

Montebourg: a Hive of Actitity Behind Presidential Bid.

Arnaud Montebourg is a former member of the French Parti Socialist, a founder of a left-wing current Nouveau Parti Socialiste (NPS). He was  Ministère de l’Économie et des Finances and held other posts under François Holland’s Presidency until 2014 when he resigned. A lawyer by training he quit politics. After some academic teaching, he moved into business. At present he runs a company  Bleu Blanc Ruche, producing ice-cream,  honey and almonds.

Montebourg has developed his own ideas. He first talked of a ” capitalisme coopératif” and then advocated ‘de-mondialisation’ – de-globalisation.  Against globalised capitalism, and for green policies, one of the few explicit lines of thought he came up with were centred on the idea of ​​a strong state, controlling finance, and capable of taking measures vis-à-vis the financial and banking system.

On this basis he stood in 2017 (as head of his own micro-party, Le projet France) in the Parti Socialiste’s ‘Citizen’s Primary’. This vote, open to all who signed a declaration of support for left-wing values,  to choose their Presidential candidate. He came third, behind Manuel Valls and Benoît Hamon (who became the PS candidate) with 17.52% of the vote.

Montebourg has now launched a new bid to stand for French President in the 2022 election.


The ex-Socialist has been discussing the construction of a large front, from the French right to the republican, sovereigntist left,  to oppose Emmanuel Macron. “I am no longer attached to any party”. He has talked to figures on the hard-right Les Républicaines (LR) like the leader of their group in the  European Parliament, François-Xavier Bellamy. LR nationally is less than enthusiastic about a potential alliance, but that has not stopped him trying:

To promote his ideas and Presidential adventure Montebourg has formed a new micro-party,  L’Engagement (named after the book shown below).

Rejoignez le mouvement l’Engagement

Nous voulons le retour d’un État au service de l’intérêt général, libéré de l’emprise d’une minorité. L’Engagement affirme que les préoccupations des Françaises et des Français doivent être les priorités de l’Etat : la réponse à l’urgence climatique, la protection de nos emplois existants et à venir, de nos libertés, l’entraide et le dialogue entre tous.

We want the return of a State at the service of the general interest, free from the grip of a minority. L’Engagement affirms that the concerns of French women and men must be the priorities of the State: the response to the climate emergency, the protection of our existing and future jobs, our freedoms, mutual aid and dialogue between us all.

Who could possibly be against that!

Mediapart has a long article on this venture:

Montebourg, ou l’aventureux pari du souverainisme des deux rives


L’engagement has garnered 2,000 rather heterogeneous supporters: socialists, but also voters of Jean-Luc Mélenchon in 2017, disappointed Bayrou, radicals, executives and entrepreneurs,”

Tomorrow he was due to attend a Conference on the Republic organised by one of the factions that has emerged from the nationalist left, « Nation souveraine ». Cancelled because of the pandemic (perhaps there will be a mass Zoom?) the event featured this characters,

Jean-Pierre Chevènement (former left socialist,  authoritarian Minister in  the Jospin government of the late 1990s a founder of modern French sovereigntist politics), LR MP Julien Aubert (hard traditional right party see above) Henri Guaino, (also LR), the economist David Cayla (blames neoliberalism for populism), Céline Pina, at one point close to the secularist, but nationalist Printemps républicain before joining the red-brown group bringing together far right figures and left nationalists, a kind of heavyweight Spiked.  la galaxie Onfray

One of them would have been this chap,

….former aide to Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Djordje Kuzmanovic – who posed with a ’Union Jack to fête le Brexit, en février 2020, avec François Asselineau (has his own Frexit party, L’Union populaire républicaine (UPR)), Florian Philippot (former Front National) et Nicolas Dupont-Aignan (has his own national populist party Debout la France (DLF)…

What a meeting!

It is said that Mélenchon is concerned about this initiative eating into his support.

At least one person thinks he can get into the second round of the contest, the above red-browner Kuzmanovic.

The authors of the Mediapart article helpfully point out , however, that with 2,000 backers Montebourg faces 200 000 parrainages citoyens already pledged for a Mélenchon candidacy.

There are also potential left candidacies from Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and Christiane Marie Taubira  as well as presence of the (Green) Yannick Jadot. Amongst others…

There is a precedent for Montebourg’s bid..

Jean-Pierre Chevènement led the left socialist current, CERES in the 1970s (a founding force in the French Socialist Party, was the most famous French political figures who moved from any form of leftist politics to sovereigntism. In 2002 he stood for President as a republican nationalist. Declaring his candidacy was neither right nor left,  « ni de droite, ni de gauche » he won over royalists, former supporters of Jean-Marie Le Pen or sovereignists), socialists, as well as those close to the far left. He was backed by Régis Debray. Chevènement got  5% of the vote.

Of wider interest is the way in which figures of the left have become involved figures clearly on the national populist right. As a comparison Spiked springs to mind, although in France Montebourg has more serious connections,  intentions and ambitions.

Is this a response to the blow against Populism inflicted by the defeat of Donald Trump?

French sovereigntism looks to many like a form of national populism.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 22, 2021 at 12:48 pm

100th Anniversary of the Congress of Tours: the Split that Created the French Communist Party.

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Congrès de Tours 1920 - 2020

Congrès de Tours. December 1920.

The Tours Congress was the 18th National Congress of the French Section of the Workers’ International, or SFIO, which took place in Tours on 25–30 December 1920. During the Congress, the majority voted to join the Third International and create the French Section of the Communist International, which became the French Communist Party in 1921.

This was the reaction of tendency which became the French Communist Party, le Parti Communiste Français (PCF).

In December of 1920 the French Socialist Party held a congress in Tours to decide the question of whether or not to join the Communist International. Supported by Marcel Cachin and L.- O. Frossard, and opposed by old-time leader Jules Guesde and the former Dreyfusard and future head of the Popular Front government Léon Blum, the Congress voted overwhelmingly to support entry into the Comintern. L’Humanité, the newspaper founded by Jean Jaurès, and which now became the official organ of the PCF, carried the following account.

Violence is often nothing but the most obvious sign of strong and sincere convictions. So if bourgeois newspapers delight in publishing this morning that “violent incidents” marked yesterday’s meeting of the congress, we have nothing to be surprised about. It’s not in the serenity of academies or tribunals that the destiny of the revolutionary proletariat is decided: it is in the fever and tumult of action.

By 3,252 votes out of 4,763 — a majority of more than two thirds — the Congress of Tours voted for the membership of the Socialist Party in the Communist International. Our emotion is great in writing these lines. At long last French socialism is publicly and solemnly breaking with the out of date traditions of the Second International; with the humiliated, as well as humiliating routine of a purely electoral, purely parliamentary socialism which, under the pressure of historical circumstances, ended up by reducing revolutionary Marxism, which they claimed to be inspired by, to the role of a “king who rules but doesn’t govern.”

The Second International has been dead for a long time — dead since August 4, 1914 — four days after Jaurès. Alas, it was one of those dead who have to be killed. Take off your hat for its remains as they pass by. Let us pledge ourselves to the immense obligation we have assumed to the coming revolution in joining the Communist International.

Marxist Internet Archive.

The response, cinglante, of Léon Blum is so memorable that many of us know many of the original words almost by heart,

The second International Congress held in Moscow last July had the visible appearance of a sort of constituent assembly. (Uproar) My voice is naturally very weak. I am, moreover, very tired, like all of you, and it would be physically impossible for me to surmount, by the strength of my lungs, this tumult and these violent interruptions.

The second International Congress at Moscow had, then, to all appearances, the character of a sort of constituent assembly. In all areas, the doctrinal as well as the tactical, it formulated a set of complementary resolutions. The whole set forms a sort of architectural structure, entirely patterned after a single design, in which every part is related to every other. It is impossible to deny the power and even the majesty of it. You are in the presence of a totality, of a doctrinal ensemble. Thus, the following question is posed: Do you or do you not accept this body of doctrine formulated by the Congress of the Communist International? And to accept – I hope there will be no divergence of opinion on this point – to accept means to accept with mind, heart, and will and with the intention of strictly conforming, in thought and action, to the new doctrine.

Any other kind of adherence would be a comedy, unworthy of the Communist International and unworthy of the French party. You are in the presence of a totality. “There is not even room to quibble over this or that detail. It is a question of looking at the unifying theme, the central idea. It doesn’t much matter if your acceptance entails this or that reservation about a detail. There is no trickery or deception in that. But if you contest the doctrine in its essentials, you really have no right to accept with second thoughts or mental reservations, to say “I agree, but I only pay lip-service, with the conviction that this is nothing but a joke, and that tomorrow the party will continue to live and to act as it did yesterday.” We are all agreed in rejecting such an interpretation. (Applause) The Congress may believe this of us. With an effort at intellectual impartiality and honesty that no one here will deny, we faced the problem squarely and said to ourselves: “Studying the texts of the Communist International, its theses, its statutes” – and I will not dwell on the difficulties and really excessive slowness with which we were given each of the materials under discussion – “can we or can we not accept them?” For us to accept would really mean to accept in the strongest possible sense of the word. We had the duty of making that textual examination.

… What is the result? It is twofold. First of all (and I believe there will be no disagreement about this), we are in the presence of something new. Some have tried to prove the contrary, and perhaps will try again. I remember the meeting of the Federation of the Seine when I was responding to Frossard, who had made the most ingenious and clever effort to combine the communist theses with the traditional principles of the Socialist Party. I tried to show him that those theses reflected a force, a will to construct something new, differing entirely from the essential tenets of the traditional socialism we had until then known and practiced. I remember that the most qualified delegates of the Third International supported me. “It’s true,” they said. “That is what we think; that is what we want. It is a new socialism that we want to create in our country and in the whole proletarian world.” That is what Lenin and Trotsky have said. It is what you yourselves said when returning from Russia. For example, Cachin, in the last letter that he sent from Moscow, spoke of a break with the past. Trotsky, in the most recent document that the Communist Bulletin has published, said that it was a new party.

 What is the new party that you want to create going to be like? Instead of a popular will formed at the base and rising by degrees, your regime of centralization involves the subordination of each organ to the one which is hierarchically above it. It entails an executive committee at the top to which everyone is subordinated, a sort of military chain of command whose orders are formulated at the top and transmitted from one rank to another down to the mere members in their sections. The autonomy of groups and federations? That, the theses will tell you, is a heresy pure and simple and must be excluded from communist organization. … Alongside public organization, underground organization.

In lines that echo throughout the ages, Blum described what a socialist party is,

Your vocation is to gather together all the proletarians of all countries. There is no other limit to the size of the Socialist party than the number of workers and wage-earners. Our Party was therefore a party with as large a recruitment as possible. As such, it was a party of freedom of thought, for the two ideas are necessarily related. If you want to group all workers, all wage-earners, all the exploited in a single party, you can only unite them around simple and general slogans. You will say to them: “All those who want to work to change the economic system, all those who believe, for this is the foundation of Marxism, that there is an ineluctable connection between the development of capitalism on the one hand and that of socialism on the other – all of you are socialists. If you are with us in this task, your act of faith is completed. You are socialists.” Within this credo, this essential affirmation, all varieties and shades of opinion are tolerated. ..

Speech at the Socialist Party Congress at Tours, 27 December 1920

There is an excellent documentary which an algorithm on FB has alerted people to this week.

Congrès de Tours. 1920 : la naissance des deux gauches – Documentaire (12/12/2020)

Watching it, there are not just pictures but newsreel images of the delegates outside the Hall, it is more than striking just how male the participants were.


The present General Secretary of the PCF Fabien Roussel is interviewed here, reproduced on in Mediapart.

Congrès de Tours: 100 ans après, le communisme « plus que jamais d’actualité »

Le communisme est « plus que jamais d’actualité face aux crises » sanitaire, économique et sociale, affirme le secrétaire général du PCF Fabien Roussel qui n’écarte pas une candidature communiste en 2022, dans un entretien à l’AFP pour le 100e anniversaire de son parti.

Communism is “more relevant than ever in the face of the present day health, economic and social crises”, says PCF secretary general Fabien Roussel who does not rule out a communist candidacy in 2022, in an interview with AFP for the 100th anniversary of his party.

The PCF got 2,5% of the vote in the 2019 European Elections.

The Tendance wrote, a few years ago, a piece on a recent biography of Léon Blum.

A State Jew? Léon Blum – David A. Bell on Léon Blum: Prime Minister, Socialist, Zionist by Pierre Birnbaum.





Written by Andrew Coates

December 23, 2020 at 5:55 pm