Tendance Coatesy

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“Jihadism” is it a form of fascism? Debate on French Left.

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“These remarks follow the text of Laurent Lévy on this site entitled “Islamo-fascism” or “jihadism”. This is not an answer but a few notes which aim to stimulate debate.

1 The term “jihadism” is probably the most suitable, it is in any case much better that “Islamo-fascist”, which does not in itself  exclude discussion on these two terms.

2 Has Jihadism nothing to do with Islam? Lawrence said we do not have to take the self-definitions of those principally involved. Some caution is indeed required. Not so long ago there were countries that defined themselves  as People’s Democracies – a term which was very questionable  in the least. Which leave us with the question – one that I do not find it so easy to solve – who is the judge in these matters?

The attacks in Paris were condemned by currents unlikely to be held to represent a “moderate Islam” – the Palestinian Hamas and the Lebanese Hezbollah, which called the murderers the worst enemies of the Prophet. It is not up to non-Muslims to contradict them, says Lawrence. The end of the sentence seems common sense: non-Muslims are not the best position to judge what is  Islam or what is not. The beginning of the same sentence is rather more questionable. We are not obliged, or to take as given, what Hamas or Hezbollah say,  on the grounds that they are not representatives of “moderate Islam.” After all, there are within Sunni Islam many currents that deny that the  Alevis or the Shias even  belong to Islam. Why should we believe them? On the grounds that we are not Muslims (which is true) and that they are not moderate (also true)? In a climate of hysteria and a climate of heightened national security we clearly have an interest in avoiding putting all Muslims in the same category. But, to return to the “people’s democracies”, could it be said so easily that they  had nothing to do with the communist movement?

3- On the question of fascism, I am to be relatively cautious, without being satisfied with the approach developed by Lawrence. For words to make sense we should not use them indiscriminately.  A military dictatorship, for example, does not need to be a fascist to be abominable and to be fought (and calling the French riot police, the  CRS the SS is probably not the acme of political analysis). We must therefore be wary of using ready-made categories that can easily become stale and fixed.

There is no doubt that the emergence of fascism in the interwar period in Europe was a way to break the working class. That class, influenced by the creation and the breath of the October Revolution had become a legitimate player in the conquest of political power. But if we limited fascism to this, the issue would not be restricted to  a debate for historians about the 1920s and the 1930s. Today the impact of  October (or the Chinese Revolution in Asia) is minimal, and instead of a rising working class, the labour movement, which we witness, is  in a poor state. Can we say that the issue of fascism no longer exists. The counter-revolutionary AND totalitarian dimensions of the  “jihadist” groups  is such that we cannot dismiss the term ‘fascism’ so easily. When Pierre Rousset speaks of “religious fascism” because these organisations occupy the same niches as fascism, there is no lack of argument. An article by Farooq Tariq, leader of the LPP (Pakistan) states: “The fanatical religious groups are being constituted as forms of fascism. ” ( ttp://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article33933 ).

These views can of course be criticised I do not think these can be dismissed out of hand.

In short this is an ongoing debate.”

A reply to  Islamo-fascism” or “jihadism” Laurent Lévy. 

Lévy  notes that the ‘syntagma’ (syntactic arrangement) Islamic-fascism has been used by the nominally ‘socialist’ Prime Minister, Manuel Valls (that is, be wary of the words!!!).

He asserts that is not up to the non-Muslims to decide on what is Islamic or not, and that most consider that the Islamic state is not Islamic.  Lévy  argues that in terms of class analysis one cannot talk of Islamic-Fascism. “..sectarian, violent and totalitarian movements claiming Islam does not fall within this analysis ” That they cannot be compared with movements helped by the “bourgeoisie to break the labour movement and to take over certain sectors of the capital to help solve its internal contradictions.” in the 1920s and 1930s.

But that, Jihadism, is the word that designates, “these currents that claim Islam in the attempt to impose by mass violence a totalitarian society.”

Comment.

It is interesting that the relation between Islamist ‘counter-revolution’ and classical European fascism is raised.

What would seem a better way to approach this is to look at one form of actually existing Islamism: the Islamic State, Daesh (1). Not just its international actions, but the structure of the state they have created in Syria and Iraq: a  racist, repressive, genocidal regime, based on slavery and the oppression of women, with a highly developed system of ‘law’ (the Sharia, as they see it).

Whether we call this Jihadism or fascism it is clear that it is a ‘totalitarian’ political entity.

A murderous one to boot.

(1) ‘Actually existing’ – an expression I take from the pro-Soviet left in the 1970s which talked of ‘actually existing socialism’.

From the French Left, on Defending Charlie Hebdo, Pierre Rousset.

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Charlie Hebdo Rally: Generous and Open Republican Unity.

“Had the sect which was rising in Paris been a sect of mere scoffers, it is very improbable that it would have left traces of its existence in the institutions and manners of Europe.” “laughing at the Scriptures, shooting out the tongue at the sacraments, but ready to encounter principalities and powers in the cause of justice, mercy and toleration.”

Ranke’s History of the Popes. Thomas Babington Macauly. 1840

“An Englishman who professes really to like French realistic novels, really to be at home in a French modern theatre, really to experience no shock on first seeing the savage French caricatures, is making a mistake very dangerous for his own sincerity. He is admiring something he does not understand. He is reaping where he has not down, and taking up where he has not laid down; he is trying to taste the fruit when he has never toiled over the tree. He is trying to pluck the exquisite fruit of French cynicism when he has never tilled the rude but rich soil of French virtue.”

French and English. C.K.Chesterton. 1908.

In The Flying Inn (1914) G.K.Chesterton imagined a Britain in which Compulsory Temperance is introduced under Progressive Islam. A Muslim Preacher Misyra Ammon, the Prophet of the Moon, has appeared. He announces “English civilisation had been founded by the Turks; or perhaps by the Saracens after their victory in the Crusades.” Vegetarians, philanthropists, aristocratic Suffragettes, and Ethical Societies don fezzes, unite behind his Cause and the Imperial Commission for Liquor Control. Inns cannot serve alcohol without a sign. But all the signs have been abolished. Humphrey Pump and Captain Patrick Dalroy defy the order with an ambulant barrel of rum. Its location, shifts, “flies”.

Chesterton added that the League of the Red Rosette, “the formidable atheist and anarchist organisation” interrupts the new Prophet’s services. The novel approaches its end, when a “a coarse strip of red rag, possibly collected from a dust-bin” is “tied round the wooden sign-post by way of a red flag of revolution”. The ‘Turks’ are driven back.

The Flying Inn can be criticised in many respects –  not least of which is that I don’t find it very amusing. Its Edwardian racial and class stereotypes – and jokes – have not worn well. Recently another novel that imagines Islamic government in Europe has been published. I have not read Michael Houellebecq’s Soumission – a qualification that in British left terms gives me the right to talk about it for several paragraphs. It’s about a Muslim ruled France in 2022. President Ben Abbes, with the consent of his ‘centrist’ Prime Minister François Bayrou, introduces a through-going programme of Islamisation. The economy is run on “distributionist” lines, the (small) property-owning capitalism advocated by…C.K.Chesterton.

Whether the author of The Flying Inn would be charmed at this is less than certain. He would perhaps have felt more warmly towards this statement, “The real enemy of Muslims, what they loathe and fear above all, it’s Catholicism: it’s secularism, laïcité atheistic materialism.” (Soumission. Review. Christopher de Bellaigue. 7.2.15).

A Month After the Paris Murders.

Over the last month, after the slaughters at Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket at the Porte de Vincennes, secularists and laïques have discovered friends, and many enemies. All are ‘appalled’ at the murders. But……laughing at the Scriptures, in this instance, by “savage caricatures”, has caused great offence. In Britain much – not all – of the left has been appalled by the “pornographic” representation of the Prophet. Many of them, as we have noted on this Blog, have become stern Instructors on the Noble Art of Satire, finding fault in the magazine’s ‘sadism’ and attacks on the apparently powerless institutions of the Mosque, the memory of the Church, and the faith of the marginalised and oppressed. Alain Badiou has even compared Charlie’s lapses of taste to Voltaire’s rudeness at the Mystery of the Charity of Joan of Arc.

The most persistent theme has been to call the paper racist. This is not confined to the English-speaking world, although this smear is frequent enough in certain circles here. Camille Emmanuelle, married to Charlie cartoonist, Luz, resumes the list of charges against the Weekly, “Charlie Hebdo «est devenu un journal raciste, homophobe, transphobe, sexiste et tout particulièrement islamophobe ». (Charlie Hebdo: être aimé par des cons, c’est dur, être haï par des amis, c’est pire). If it’s less common in France to say that Charlie ‘had it coming to them’ (a statement that immediately evokes…..and the people at Hyper-Cacher ?…) one can still sense that something of that spirit is there amongt the ‘leftists’ who rail against the Charlie ‘laïcards’ – god botherers.

In this context the intervention of Pierre Rousset, a veteran of the Trotskyist movement (Ligue communiste révolutionnaire, Fourth International) and the broader French left, in his article Après Charlie Hebdo et l’Hyper Cacher : penser le neuf, repenser l’ancien (11th February 2015) assumes its significance. Rousset begins his article by thanking those, (himself, and François Sabado included), who immediately expressed solidarity with Charlie. (1) He then passes to those who equally swiftly seized on the demonstrations of ‘national unity’ to fall back on their « routine » criticisms of the French state. Most importantly Rousset is concerned with those who attempt to « morally assassinate » the people who were « assassinated physically » the Charlie team.

Much of the piece is a response to another person associated with the Fourth International, Gilbert Achar, and his comments on the events. (What caused the killings? 3.2.15.) Achcar has claimed that French response was ‘what anybody would expect’ – although he adds that one should not exaggerate any parallels with the attack on the Twin Towers. Nevertheless a lot of police repression, and Islamophobia was aroused. The ‘core issue’ that emerged was the ‘condition of populations of immigrant origin inside France.’ The SOAS-based academic rejects out of hand any talk identifying Political Islam with Fascism. The responsibility for the emergence of violent jihadism lies with ‘the imperialist powers, and above all, the United States’.

While Achcar does not indulge in the ‘but…..’ analysis of the majority of Charlie’s enemies, he still lays into the weekly, “Charlie Hebdo is a blatant illustration of the left-wing arrogant secularism”.

For Rousset, on the contrary, the reaction in France was far from what “one would expect”. The great demonstration of January the 11th expressed a ‘non-exclusive solidarity’. They refused any amalgamation between Islam and terrorism. While there have been assaults on Muslims it was significant that this was decisively rejected by those saying Je Suis Charlie. Many immigrant and minority community  associations backed the post-‘attentats’ commemorations.

The Left’s Failure to Confront Fundamentalism.

The heart of Après Charlie Hebdo lies in the statement that the radical left is ill-equipped to deal with fundamentalism. In large part this is due to their own weak links with immigrant populations, or those (3rd generation) of migrant descent. But perhaps more significantly this left’s strategy is awry.

The far-left is, in Rousset’s eyes, fixated on the ‘main enemy ’ imperialism, and unable to see these political movements as forces that act in their own right. He notes that we are not dealing with unknown quantities, « Le rôle de l’islam politique au pouvoir (Egypte), puis des islamismes « radicaux » contre les révolutions populaires dans le monde arabe ont dans une large part clarifié le débat sur la nature progressiste ou non de ces courants politico-religieux. » The role of Political Islam in government (Egypt), and that of radical Islamists against the mass revolutions in the Arab world, has largely clarified the debate about their progressive nature of these political-religious currents.”

Political agents on the fringe of Islamism, the ‘sects’ that commit acts of terrorism, and the sectarian state of the Caliphate, have their own internal logic. They are the enemies of progressives – and the enemies of Muslims. The world, he notes, is not bounded by Chinese Walls: what happens ‘there’ affects us all ‘here’. We have to fight the Islamist reactionaries, and struggle against discrimination and racism, with Muslims, for a society of solidarity.

One group’s strategy is signaled out by Rousset, the British SWP. He notes their communiqué after the January massacres. It condemned the slaughter but found time to lay responsibility on Charlie Hebdo for its ‘ racist’ provocations.

This is what he has to say,

« On comprend que le SWP britannique réagit ainsi, car il lui faut effacer ses traces et faire oublier ses propres responsabilités. Il a été l’une des principales organisations de la gauche radicale à présenter la montée du fondamentalisme islamique comme l’expression d’un nouvel anti-impérialisme ; il a aussi rendu inaudible la parole des femmes qui, en Grande-Bretagne même, appelaient les milieux progressistes à les soutenir face à l’emprise fondamentaliste. »

It is understandable that the SWP reacts in this way: they had to cover their tracks, to hide their own responsibilities. The party has been one of the main organisations on the radical left to present the rise of fundamentalism as the expression of a new ‘anti-imperialism’. In this way the SWP has stifled the voices of women, who in the UK itself, have called on progressive groups to back them against the power of the fundamentalists

Defending Charlie, a Generous Republic and Secularism.

Rousset defends Charlie, without admiring every one of its cartoons, or contributors. He underlines their left-wing commitment, describing them as a slice of the left, not ‘one’ group. The accusation of racism is simply risible. The veteran Trotskyist notes that some of the cartoonists published in his own journal Rouge (Ligue Comministe Révolutionnaire). The victim, Charlie, is not ‘perfect’ he rightly says.

There are questions about who to satirise and who to not. It is right to be able to blaspheme, it’s the right of a free society based on laïcité. Whether it is worth giving such prominence to lampooning religious symbols so relentlessly remains an issue. One does not need to cede to Anglo-American cultural imperialism to become bored – even for this English admirer of French ‘savage satire’ – with 3rd Republic anti-clericalism. And yet…..there are indeed – all too visible – religious « principalities and powers » that need criticism in the name of justice.

The generous spirit of Rousset is displayed in the sorrow with which he considers the fate of those who fell in January, the individuals and their friends. There is not a shred of ‘arrogance’ in his writing. His optimism and humanity stands out in  Rousset’s endorsement of « unité républicaine » « une certaine idée généreuse de la République, d’une citoyenneté commune. » embracing those who lives in the margins, and for a fight against all the racisms (all the other forms of prejudice and discrimination, against the Rom onwards)  that exist in France, is profoundly stirring. We are far from harvesting the last crop from the  rich soil of French virtue.

(1) They observed of the 11th January demonstration, “Whatever the confusion in the minds of participants, their reaction and behaviour showed that the demonstrations were a tremendous expression of fraternal feeling. Participants chatted amongst themselves and helped one another move along amidst the crush of the masses of people who had gathered. Some scenes on the short-lived afternoons of the 10th and 11th brought back memories of the demonstrations of 1995 or even 1968, with solidarity as the dominant theme.”

“We are all Charlie” burst out as a cry of human solidarity against the murders. It captured a range of opinions. The idea of a “working-class Charlie” was even put forward – in order to link solidarity with the murdered journalists with the need to mobilize in defense of social rights. The formulation is open to debate, but the idea is a correct one in that it seeks to inject social and democratic content into the anger and sadness.

This is the groundswell from French society that has been expressed since January 7th and anti-capitalists should be part of it, engaging in dialogue with the millions of people who have been involved. These were not reactionary demonstrations. The dominant themes were not support for cross-party national unity or the law-and-order and anti-democratic measures announced by the government. Society went into action, spontaneously, and with a great deal of confusion, but in a progressive direction all the same. This is the starting point for our thinking and it’s in this framework that we must assess the problems that now confront us.”

I could not agree more – in my very bones!

Charlie Hebdo – And now what? The events, their impact and the issues at play. François Sabado, Pierre Rousset  23rd January. 2005.

Lisa Mandel on Charlie Hebdo ……and the Far Left

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"Jesus Charlie", par Lisa Mandel.

Lisa Mandel

 

 

 

 

I was born in a very observant far-left family. God and Father Christmas don’t exist. What exists? The Class struggle!

 

 

Mandel 4

I grew up in religious gatherings.

 Lisa Mandel2

On the 7th of January 2015 it was the terrorist attack.  I was beside myself. I called up my mother, and was for a moment in tears,  unable to speak. It’s as if I lost a member of our family.

 

 

Lisa Mandel 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I took part in the spontaneous demonstrations, it was beautiful….

I would like to thank Lisa for making my day.

Lisa Mandel (no relation, as far as I can find, to Ernest Mandel) is the daughter of Health Service workers. She is a cartoonist. These images are taken from Le Monde des livres (Friday): Après l’attentat contre « Charlie Hebdo », la BD solidaire.

Her Blog, Free as an Egg.

Wikipedia.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 31, 2015 at 11:26 am

Alain Badiou on Charlie Hebdo, Le Rouge et le Tricolore. A Critical Appraisal.

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Badiou: Wave the Red Flag not the Tricolore.

‘Le Rouge et le Tricolore’ Alain Badiou.

In le Monde (28.1.15) Alain Badiou has called for the “reactivation of the Communist idea” in place of the “totem” of the “République laïque” in order to stand up to “les crimes fascistes des terroristes”.

The philosopher and one-time prominent figure in the ‘post-Leninist’ and ‘post-Maoist’ L’Organisation politique (defunct 2007) begins by sketching a portrait of global capitalism, dominated by the “abstraction” of money, and run by an international oligarchy. He sees within this context a drama, opposing the “civilised” capitalist West to blood thirsty “Islamism”. Murderous gangs, trying, by force of arms, to impose obedience to the corpse of a God, are, in this scenario, opposed by those who, in the name of human rights, have launched savage military expeditions that have destroyed entire states (Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Sudan Congo, Mali and Central Africa). Western aggression, in support for these ‘rights’, has resulted in millions of victims. Every state, from the liberal West, to the authoritarian and nationalist Russia and China, and the theocracies of the Emirates, is now part of the same world, predatory capitalism.

Real universalism, Badiou asserts, that is, taking the destiny of humanity in hand, means a new historical and political incarnation of the communist “idea”. This would break with the universe dominated by money and the capitalist oligarchies. It would end the battles between identities and counter-identities, the West and the ‘Rest’.

In this war, France has its own special ‘totem’ the “République démocratique et laïque”. This is the ground of the  “republican pact” that seals France’s self-image. Its origins lie in the massacres of the Commune in 1871 (which was supported he asserts by Adolphe Thiers, Jules Ferry, and Jules Favre), which Badiou sees as the origin, the founding crime,  of the 3rd republic.

It is impossible not to notice a slight of hand at work here. All of these figures played an ignoble role during the Paris Commune. Thiers, a “monstrous gnome” in Marx’s words, collaborated with the Prussian occupiers, Ferry, the Mayor of Paris during the early days of the City’s siege, slipped away when the Communards took power, and Favre, enemy of the First International, were leading figures in the government that viciously crushed the insurgents. So far so much fidelity to the ‘truth’.

But,  their “republican” reign was initially not properly republican at all. It is famously described as “républican d’appelation et monarchiste de vocation” – republican in name but monarchist by calling. (1) Ruled by the Right the Republic soon became the focus of other forces – the left, republican and then ‘radical socialist’, not to mention the first French Marxist party Parti Ouvrier Français, the reformist socialist ‘Possibilistes’, the Fédération des travailleurs socialistes de France, and other groups.

Why, then, in the years that followed, had the French left re-asserted its “republicanism”, a position which has endured to this day? This has a very long history, going back to the French Revolution. Perhaps the most crucial experience for the modern socialist movement was Jaurès and the left’s “Défense Républicaine” during the Dreyfus Affair. Jaurès defined this very clearly, he wanted to defend the Republic not only against nationalists and-Semites, which he called “la réaction royaliste et boulangiste” but also against the bourgeois republicans, who were ready to sacrifice justice out of fear of the Army Establishment. He argued for the “modesties garanties” of the rule of republican law, against an arbitrary legal system – for human rights – as the bedrock of the democratic workers’ movement. (2)

Now one can question Jaurès’ claim that national sovereignty is necessary for socialism, that “que la nation soit souveraine dans l’ordre économique pour briser les privileges du capitalisme osif comme elle est souveraine dans l’ordre politique” (that the nation should be sovereign in the economy as it is politically, to break the privileges of idle capitalism). (3) One can seriously question Jaurès claim that true patriotism leads to internationalism. But the modest defence of the simplest of human rights, the protection of individuals against arbitrary laws and punishments, is very far from being a “totem”. It is not from an admirer of the Chinese Cultural Revolution – something that Badiou had persisted in despite all his “posts” – that anybody is going to take criticisms of these foundations of French republicanism.

Badiou avoids history. He points his finger at the actually existing French republic, its prisons for the ill educated, its past (and present?) pretensions to carry a “mission civilisatrice”(Jules Ferry’s always cited phrase), and the failures of its education system. He speculates that wearing the veil, becoming a pious Muslim may be a sign of the spirit of revolt, faced with police repression and racism. He offers no evidence that Islamism is he result of these causes – which would require a global explanation, covering movements from Boko Harem, Al-Qaeda, ISIS/Islamic State, and countless other groups.

The philosopher strongly reprimands  Charlie Hebdo. Run by “ex-leftists”, it is “in a sense” the accomplice of police morality conveyed through doubtful sexual jokes looks strange coming from this author. Comparing Charlie to an “obscene” – and forgotten – piece by Voltaire on Joan of Arc, he tries to remind us of the bad taste of even the most celebrated of the Lumières for all his “authentic” fights for freedom. It’s hard to forget that the author of The Communist Hypothesis (English edition, 2010) defended the “extraordinary uprising” of the Chinese Cultural revolution. Its “freedom” in “the fight of the new against the old” was, he noted, nevertheless joined with “iconoclasm, the persecution of people for futile motives, a sort of assumed barbarism”. (4) Voltaire, as far as one is aware, did not burn religious books or demolish temples, make monks perform forced labour, or force Muslims to eat pork. Nor do Charlie propose to follow in the Red Guards’ footsteps.

And yet…Badiou cannot avert his eyes from the “réal”. Perhaps he is less a “post” than another “ex-leftist”? For him the three killers, young Frenchmen, committed “un crime de type fasciste”. It was first of all targeted, and not random, next the motivation was of a fascist nature, from an identity, in this case anti-Semitic. To impose this it used extreme violence, saying in effect “Viva le meutre!” (the cry of the Falangists in the Spanish Civil War). Finally, by the enormity of the crime itself it aimed to provoke a reaction of repression, which would then justify the act.

Has this fascist act, then, been successful? There were millions in the streets behind the “pacte républicain”, fearful and yet full of pride in the nation’s grandeur. Badiou thinks that the French state created an obligation to demonstrate behind the Tricolor, to the point where not to support the Je Suis Charlie march was itself a crime. Freedom of expression that is to dissent from this “union sacrée” was close to being abolished in the days following the murders. The Police were praised to the skies. Liberty became the right to applaud the Police. The banlieue and its Muslim inhabitants are scorned, closely monitored, and under permanent suspicion.

This may be true. But only 70% of the French public is said to believe that it was an affair of Islamist terrorism. Amongst those casting doubt on the ‘official version’ there are theories that other shadowy force were involved, from Mossad, the US to the French secret services. Jean-Marie Le Pen has expressed opinions in this vein, indicating perhaps complicity between a native and patriotic fascism and a more directly religious one. The problems raised by this rise in irrationalism from many quarters cannot be boiled down to the opposition between the “dangerous” Muslim classes and the French Imperial State.

Badiou concludes by calling for another way, a different future. One that it without country, and that prepares the way for an egalitarian identity for humanity itself. The choice should not be between small bands of fascists based on a sectarian Islamist identify, or for French and Western superiority. This can be found…..behind the Red Flag…..

Or not.

If people are following the Red Flag today it’s the banner of democratic socialists, like Syriza, not believers in the ‘communist invariant’ displayed in the Cultural Revolution.

Badiou offers no words of defence of Charlie or of freedom of speech, or indeed of democracy, capitalist, socialist,  or any other kind.  he appears to think that people are mostly dupes of the République démocratique et laïque. Only a savoury remnant – perhaps visible to the keen eyes of those able to see the Event that will bring communism back onto the political horizon – able to “name the indiscernible.”

While we await its coming, the impression that many people have is that the Je suis Charlie movement, and marches, expressed a deep and intimate sadness at the deaths of the cartoonists, at the fate of the Jewish victims, and the policeman – everybody killed in the slaughter. That it remains an open wound. That most do not care at all about union sacrées or flags: many of us are not even French!  That we loved the people murdered and continue to mourn them. And that we hold tight to the “modest guarantees” of law and freedom that should be there for all – for the Je ne suis pas Charlies, the Je suis Charlies and for all humanity.

(1) Page 362. Jacques Julliard. Les Gauches Françaises. Flammarion. 2012.

(2) Page 239. Jean Jaurès. Gilles Candar. Vincent Duclert. Fayard. 2014. Also see: Jaurès et le Reformisme Révolutonnaire. Jean-Paul Scot. Seuil. 2014. Notable Chapter 9 “Rattacher le Socialisme à la République.

(3) Page 122. République et Socialisme. Ansi Nous Parle Jean Jaurès. Pluriel 2014.

(4) Page 129 The Communist Hypothesis. Alain Badiou. Verso. 2012.

Syriza: Some European Left Reactions.

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Syriza: Hope in Europe.

Un souffle d’espoir 
pour tourner la page 
de l’austérité L’Humanité – closely aligned to the Parti Communiste Français, Front de Gauche.

The breath of hope in place of austerity.

Il y avait hier soir à Athènes quelque chose de léger dans l’atmosphère, qui éclairait les visages et réchauffait les cœurs.

Last evening there was something happy in the air, which lit up people’s faces and warmed their hearts.

Eine Alternative ist möglich Die Linke (German Left Party).

Die deutsche LINKE steht an SYRIZAs Seite.

Die Linke stands on Syriza’s side. 

Meine Erfahrungen aus Athen: Es herrscht eine Riesenbegeisterung in den Straßen, Aufbruchsstimmung, Demokratiebewegung. Vor allem junge Menschen sind begeistert. Davon sollten wir in Deutschland uns ebenso begeistern lassen, wir brauchen in Deutschland nicht weniger, sondern mehr linke Politik!

“My experience in Athens: there reigned an atmosphere of holiday enthusiasm, of optimism, of democratic movement. Above the youth are enthusiastic. So, we in Germany should also be equally enthusiastic, we need not less, but more, Left-wing politics!

Parti de Gauche - Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Front de Gauche (France).

Grèce. Pour la première fois, un peuple européen a porté à la tête de son gouvernement un parti de l’autre gauche pour se débarrasser de l’austérité.

For the first time a European people has brought to the head of government a party of the ‘other’ left in order to get rid of austerity.

Podemos (Spain) Pablo Iglesias, de Podemos, felicita a partido Syriza por triunfo en Grecia

Pablo Inglesias, of Podemos, congratulated the Syria party for its Greek victory.

Podemos dice que Grecia marca un nuevo tiempo que llegará a España. (El Païs)

Podemos says that Greece has marked a new era which will come to Spain.

Ensemblepart of the Front de Gauche, France.

L’espoir a gagné !

Hope has won!

Cécile DUFLOT (Députée EE-LV, ex-ministre de l’Egalité des territoires et du Logement) – French Green Party.

Il est l’heure de l’alternance européenne.

Now is the time for the European Alternative.

John McDonnell, Labour Representation Committee,

“Take heart from the scale of the #syriza
vote & recognise that the revolt against austerity across Europe is growing as each cut bites.”

Socialist Party, Belgium (le Soir),

Elio Di Rupo, a salué « la victoire éclatante de Syriza » et « espère qu’elle rendra espoir au peuple grec ».

The Socialist Party, former Prime Minister, Elio Di Ropo, saluted the “stunning victory of Syriza” He “hoped it will give hope to the Greek People.”

Socialist Workers Party (UK).

A new day for Greece and Europe

THE VICTORY of Greece’s Coalition of the Radical Left, or SYRIZA, in parliamentary elections is a long-awaited breakthrough against the ruling class agenda of austerity and repression that has inflicted suffering across Europe and plunged Greece into an economic and social crisis unseen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Note: as Socialist Worker tries to crawl on the Syriza bandwagon it’s worth remembering that the SWP, as is their wont, did not back Syriza but a collection of sects,  the miniscule Anticapitalist Left Cooperation for the Overthrow ANTARSYA cντικαπιταλιστική Αριστερή Συνεργασία για την Ανατροπή, ΑΝΤ.ΑΡ.ΣΥ.Α.) The reasons include the fact the Syriza is pro-European and  “For some time Syriza has been moving to the right, but it’s difficult to do that during the election.” (SW) This gaggle of groupuscules received 0.64 of the vote in the election.

The Weekly Worker, which seems to have been converted to John Holloway’s politics of “how to change the world without taking power”, said a few days ago,

“Our duty is to warn about the danger of Syriza being a 21st century version of the popular front governments of the 1930s … and express solidarity with the working class and people in Greece who have had their living conditions savaged by the troika, leading to a situation where wide sections are surviving on food parcels and other forms of charity. ” What if Syriza Wins?

The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty carried an article by Nicos Anastasiadis which noted,

The first reaction to a Syriza victory will be great joy from the working people and poor who have suffered from Memorandum policies. We will see great wave of expectation of change.

And this (on Shiraz Socialist): After the Syriza victory: for a United Front of the left throughout Europe!

Left Unity says,

Syriza victory shows a different Europe is possible

Responding to Syriza’s victory in the Greek elections, Left Unity’s Salman Shaheen said:

“Finally Europe is set to have a government that will stand up against austerity.

“We send our warmest congratulations to our sister party and the people of Greece.

“We believe the best way to support them is to spread solidarity across Europe and construct similar left wing parties everywhere.

“Later this year we could see Podemos come to office in Spain. This is just the beginning.”

European Left Party (which represents numerous left parties in the European Parliament and outside of it).

The struggle for change in Europe has begun.

The overthrow of the Greek memorandum government is an important step that will be completed on January 25th, 2015 by  the imminent grand electoral victory of SYRIZA.

This victory will not be confined only to the restoration of democracy in Greece. It will be expanded to stop the humanitarian disaster inflicted on the Greek people.

It will send a strong message to all the peoples of Europe and especially of the southern countries that would portray the following:

“The Merkelism is not invincible. Austerity can stop. Europe can change”

We, the representatives of political parties, social movements, trade-unions and other social activists of the European South that met in Barcelona, on at the 1st European South Forum, express our determination, in common, to work together, in order to defeat the neoliberal austerity strategy that has been brutally imposed in our countries through the Troika’s Memorandums,  extreme national austerity programs and the structural counter-reforms. Together, we promote a collective and concrete alternative for a progressive exit from the crisis, in the direction of the re-establishment of Europe on the basis of democracy, solidarity, and social and environmental sustainability.

We do not face the current crisis as if it were either a series of “national abnormalities”, or as a conflict between Northern and Southern Europe. Instead, starting from the south, our priority is to enlarge the European front of resistance against neoliberalism and push forward European solutions that will strengthen the unity of the peoples of Europe, against the current resurgence of austericide, reactionary, chauvinistic, and extreme right-wing projects and forces.

The future of the Eurozone is not jeopardized by our plan for an immediate break from austerity and an alternative strategy for economic and social development. On the contrary, it is jeopardized by the destructive austerity that is being imposed by the neoliberal establishment, under the guidance of the present conservative majority in Europe.

Therefore, in order to put an immediate end to the European crisis and to rescue the idea of the European peoples’ unity, we urgently need a policy change:

1. A Green New Deal for Europe. The European economy has being suffering 6 years of crisis, with an average unemployment around 12%. The dangers of a 1930’s style deflation is on its doorstep. Europe could and should collectively borrow at low interest rates to finance a program of economic reconstruction, ecological transition, and sustainable and social development with emphasis on investment in people, social protection, public services, energy, technology and needed infrastructures. The program would help crisis ravaged economies to break free from the vicious cycle of recession and rising debt ratios, to create jobs, and to sustain recovery.

2. Defeating unemployment. The average European unemployment is today the highest since official records began. Today, almost 27 million people are unemployed in the European Union out of which more than 19 million belong to the Eurozone. The official unemployment Eurozone average has risen from 7,8% in 2008 to 11,5% in August 2014. For Greece, from 7,7% to  26,4% and for Spain from 11,3% to 24,4% during the same period. We urgently need a major job creation plan, which will create, through targeted European and national public investments supported by the ECB, secure, stable and dignified employment and viable life-prospects for millions of Europeans, especially young people, women and immigrants who have been brutally victimized and relegated to social exclusion.

3. Credit expansion to cooperatives and small and medium-sized firms. Credit conditions in Europe have deteriorated sharply. Small and medium-sized firms have been hit especially hard. Thousands of them, particularly in the crisis-hit economies of the European South, have been forced to close, not because they were not viable, but due to the absence of credit fluidity and the lack of demand. The consequences for jobs have been dire. Extraordinary times require non-conventional action: the European Central Bank should follow the example of other Central Banks all around the world and provide cheap credit to banks, on the strict pre-condition that those same banks increase their lending to small and medium-sized enterprises by a corresponding amount.

4. Suspension of the new European fiscal framework, as a pre-condition for the exercise of a truly sustainable and developmental fiscal policy.

5. A genuine European Central Bank – lender of last resort for member-states, not only for banks. The commitment to act as lender of last resort should be unconditional and should not depend on the conditioning or submission of a member state’s agreement to a reform program with the European Stability Mechanism.

6. Macroeconomic and social readjustment: Countries with surpluses should do as much as deficit countries to correct macroeconomic imbalances within Europe. Europe should monitor, assess and demand action from countries  with current account surpluses, in the form of stimuli, in order to alleviate the unilateral pressure on deficit countries. The current asymmetry in the adjustment between surplus and deficit countries does not harm the deficit countries alone. It harms Europe as a whole.

7. A European Glass-Steagall Act. The aim is to separate the commercial from the investment banking activities and prevent such a dangerous merging of risks into one uncontrolled entity.

8. Effective European legislation to tax offshore economic and entrepreneurial activities.

9. A European Debt Conference, with the participation of all the public members involved at a state, European and international level, inspired by the London Debt Agreement of 1953, which essentially relieved Germany of the economic burden of its own past and thus assisted the post-war reconstruction of the country. Such a conference must come up with a solution negotiated and adapted to each country, for each creditor and bondholder including the partial restructuring of terms and interest rates, the abolition of a large part of the public debts and the introduction of a “growth clause” for the repayment of the remaining parts. In that context all available policy instruments should be employed, including the European Central Bank, acting as last resort lender to issue special Eurobonds that would either replace national debt or lead to a significant debt forgiveness.

10. A resolute fight against fraud and corruption, and the crony capitalism suffered by our countries.

All these must go hand by hand with a committed struggle against patriarchy, inequalities, and against racism and xenophobia.

Before and after the outburst of the crisis, ideas as those proposed above were treated by the neoliberal establishment as “illusionist” and “populist”. Today, such ideas that formulate a concrete alternative against austerity are becoming more and more assumed and defended by our peoples and compete for social and political majorities in a number of European countries. It’s high time we transform popular discontent and aspiration into a massive political wave of change, for the establishment of economic democracy, popular sovereignty and environmental sustainability. The year 2015 can signal a new historical cycle of progress for our countries and Europe.

It’s time to make markets pay! The drift to increased inequality and precarious employment is not a real option for working people in Europe. Market structures affect protective institutional arrangements (welfare states, industrial relations rules, political systems, and other societal arrangements) in a way that Europe is stepping back from human rights and the burden of economic adjustment is not at all shared equally across European societies.

Therefore, we, the forces and organizations gathered here, commit to:

Work in coordination and provide the political and social momentum to achieve these changes;

  • Monitor the social and economic performance in our countries and our continent;
  • Foster the European Conference on Debt; and
  • Ensure continuity to the work of this Forum. And from this promoting team, and with the incorporation of all parties and organizations here gathered and the ones still to come, bolster new and future editions of this Forum.

Barcelona, 24th January 2015

 The Guardian reports,

Greece is headed into a new era of anti-austerity as the radical leftist Syriza successfully formed a government with the Independent Greeks party after falling agonisingly short of an outright majority in Sunday’s landmark elections.

“I want to say, simply, that from this moment, there is a government,” the Independent Greeks leader, Panos Kammenos, told reporters after emerging from a meeting at Syriza’s headquarters.

“The Independent Greeks party will give a vote of confidence to the prime minister, Alexis Tsipras. The prime minister will go to the president and … the cabinet makeup will be announced by the prime minister. The aim for all Greeks is to embark on a new day, with full sovereignty.”

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Charlie Hebdo in its own Words: Translation of ‘Tout est pardonné’ Leader.

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CharlieThere is a mountain of commentary about Charlie Hebdo. Few, particularly the most hostile to the Weekly, take the trouble to look at more than the Front Page, let alone the articles. Despite some excellent pieces explaining what Charlie is about and where it stands on the French left, the content of the magazine gets skimmed over.

The degree of ignorance this absence fosters is perhaps best indicated by Socialist Workers’ claim that, “Charlie Hebdo is a strange combination—a left wing paper that’s become notorious for its racist attacks on Muslims. Its murdered editor, cartoonist Stephane “Charb” Charbonnier,  considered himself a progressive, anti-establishment figure. Yet the paper is steeped in a “republican” tradition that sees the state as progressive and everything from minority languages to religion as its enemy.” (Socialist Worker). SW even directly smeared the paper talking of the toke it “has played in the legitimisation of racism in France.”Galloway and the Stop the War Coalition have made similar declarations, asserting that Charlie is Islamophobic.

They appear not to have the courage – or perhaps the ability, or (more probably the honesty)  – to read what Charlie actually says. It is not in the least bit ‘strange’. Indeed French leftists find the British left’s failure to confront Islamist religious bigotry and state sponsored religious authority less than ‘progressive’. Not to mention Socialist Worker’s decision to publish material claiming that the overseas jihadists fighting with the genociders of  ISIS could be compared with volunteers for the Republic in the Spanish civil war. Some – as in the comments box here – claim that it represented “imperialism and Zionism”.

This, the Leader of the famous  Tout est pardonné issue, makes it brilliantly clear what Charlie’s secularism is about – something very different to these distorted charges.

I have rendered the syntax and idioms into colloquial English rather than give a literal translation.

People will be able to make their own judgements – free from the prissy censors of oh so British liberals and the ‘left’ enemies of Charlie.

Est-ce qu’il y aura encore des “oui mais”?

Are there still the “Yes buts?”

For a week, Charlie, an atheist paper, has achieved more miracles than all the saints and the prophets together. This is the one of which we are the proudest, that you have in your hands the weekly which we have always produced, by the group who have always produced it. The thing that made us laugh the most is that the bells of Notre-Dame rang out in our honour…

For a week, as portrayed so wonderfully by Willem, Charlie has moved, across the world, more than mountains. Charlie has masses of new friends: people without a name, world celebrities, the lowest and the most privileged, sinners and religious dignitaries, the sincere and the Jesuitical, those who’ll be with us for life, and those who are only here for a short time.

At present we accept all of these people and haven’t the will or the time to distinguish amongst them. Not that we are fooled for a moment. But we gives our heartfelt thanks to those, the millions, whether they’re ordinary citizens or those who are part of the established institutions, who are genuinely on our side, who have found each other here, who “are Charlie”. And we say to those who couldn’t give a toss: fuck off!

One question, nevertheless, vexes us: is the denigrating expression, “secularist intellectual” (laïcard intellectuel) going to be dropped from the political vocabulary? Are we finally going to stop finding learned circumlocutions to put murderers and their victims in the same basket?

Over the last years we’ve felt rather alone, trying with our cartoons to push back the muck and intellectual trickery that has been thrown against our friends who’ve staunchly defended secularism (laïcité). That we’re Islamophobes, Christianophobes, provocateurs, irresponsible, throwing fuel on the fire, racists, and ….you got what’s coming to you. Yes, we condemn terrorism, but. Yes, threatening cartoonists with death is not good, but. Yes, burning down a paper isn’t right, but.

We’ve heard all that, and our friends have too. We’ve often tried to laugh it off – that is, after all what we do best. And yet, it’s begun again. The blood of Cabu, Charb, Honoré, Tignous, Wolinski, Elsa Cayat, Bernard Maris, Mustapha Ourrad, Michel Renaud, Franck Brinsolaro, Frédéric Boisseua, Ahmed Merabet, Clarissa Jean-Philippe, Philippe Braham, Yohan Cohen, Yoav Hattab, François-Michel Saada, had not even dried before Thierry Mayssan had explained to his Facebook fans that this was, obviously, a Jewish-American-Western plot.

We already hear, after Sunday’s demonstrations, from those who turned up their noses at the march. Their lips slavering, they’ve come out with the old arguments that justify, overtly or covertly, religious fascism. They are enraged at the praise given to the ‘SS’ Police.

No – in this massacre there is no death less worthy than any other. Franck, who died in Charlie’s offices, and all his colleagues murdered during the week of barbarism, met their deaths defending ideas which are, perhaps, not their own.

We are going to try, regardless, to be optimistic, even if it’s not at present the fashion. We will hope that, from the 7th of January onwards, everybody will firmly defend secularism. That it will not be accepted, as a pose, or out of electoral considerations, or by cowardice, to legitimate, or even tolerate, communalism and cultural relativism. This only opens the way to one thing: religious totalitarianism.

Yes, the Israel-Palestinian conflict is a reality, Yes geopolitics are a series of manoeuvres and low blows, yes social conditions for those called “people of Muslim origin” in France are deeply unfair, Yes, we must never stop fighting racism and discrimination. There are, fortunately, many means to deal with these serious problems. But every one of them is ineffective without one: secularism (laïcité). Not ‘positive’ secularism, not ‘inclusive’ secularism, but secularism – full stop.

Only this, because it’s based on universal rights, can bring about equality, liberty, fraternity and sorority. Only this allows full freedom of thought, a liberty that, more or less openly, according to their marketing position, every religion rejects as soon as it leaves private life, and enters into political territory. Only this allows, ironically, believers to live undisturbed. All of those who claim to defend Muslims, and who accept a totalitarian religious discourse, defend in effect their own butchers. The first victims of Islamic fascism are Muslims.

The millions of anonymous people, all the official institutions, all the heads of government, all the political, intellectual and media personalities, all the religious dignitaries who, during this week, have proclaimed “Je suis Charlie” should know ‘I am Secularism’ – Je suis la laïcité‘. We are convinced that, for the majority of those who’ve supported us, this goes without saying. We will let the others deal with their own shit.

There is one final important thing. We’d like to send a message to Pope Francis, who’s been this week himself a Je suis Charlie. We’ll accept that the bells of Notre Dame ring out in our honour when it’s Femen who pull them.

French Greens, Left Socialists, Front de Gauche and Communists Back Syriza.

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Clémentine Autain, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Cécile Duflot et Pierre Laurent, au gymnase Japy à Paris, lundi, lors d'un meeting de soutien au parti grec Syriza.

French Feminists, Left Socialists, Greens and Communists Back Syriza.

A 500 strong meeting in support of Syriza with the leader of the French Green Party (EELV), the left of the Socialist Party, Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the French Communist Party was held in Paris yesterday.

The objective was to support the right of the Greek people to take their own destiny in hand. That is, to help Syriza and its leader, Alexis Tsipras, – at present leading the polls for next Sunday’s elections in Greece. Another objective was to show that an “alternative” – rosé (Socialist), green and red is possible in France.

“Si Syriza gagne, puis Podemos, nous aurons du vent dans les voiles”

If Syriza wins, then Podems, we’ll have wind in our sails!

Full report Libération.

Interviewed on France Inter this morning Cécile Duflot, head of France’s greens, was not clear as to whether such an alliance was possible.

The report on the radio station mentioned that Olivier Besancenot of the Nouveau Parti anti-Capitaliste (NPA) had also been present at the rally.