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Left Populism: La France Insoumise Faces Internal Challenge.

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Mr 6,3% and his European List.

A few days ago I, as a loyal supporter of la France insoumise (along with half a million others who signed up to their free online registration of support) received a notification of their latest ‘conference’ the Assemblée représentative de La France insoumise on the 23rd of June.

The E-Mail invited me to put my name into a hat for the “tirage au sort” (selection by lot) to attend. 160 of us would be chosen by this method, and 80 “representatives” from the “different spaces” (its sounds as odd in French) of the “point de ralliement” of JeanLuc  Mélenchon.

There are no “factions”; indeed no different currents of opinion on an organised basis. There are no bothersome competitive elections, different political platforms or indeed anything more than an opportunity to talk as individuals  about the programme for the upcoming Municipal elections.

One is invited to contribute to the debate with comments on the “Texte programmatique national pour les élections municipales” – as in the good old days when the Parti communiste français invited members, and cells, to express their views on the Central Committee’s documents before the Congrès. Before that is, the CC’s line was adopted unanimously.

Cette assemblée sera composée de 160 insoumis·es tiré·es au sort et 80 représentant·es des différents espaces de La France insoumise. Une première phase du tirage au sort est prévue le mercredi 5 juinVous pouvez vérifier que vous êtes inscrit⋅e aux tirages au sort ici.

This kind of ‘democracy’ may remind some people of how Momentum operates, except that this is a group with MPs, MEP and a whole raft of councillors.

It has long irked many people and been cited as an example of how E-democracy  with a “charismatic” populist leader is no democracy at all.

The idea of a lightening struggle for power, that has no need for long-term structures, has been proved wrong by election results.

Today we learn that leading activists in lFI are speaking out and calling for democratic change inside the movement.

The Huffington Post this Thursday  reports that after last week’s discussion on “left wing populism” dissatisfaction with la France insoumise has moved now onto its internal structures and lack of viable democratic channels.

Si le débat stratégique entre “ligne populiste” et “union de la gauche” a focalisé l’attention la semaine dernière, c’est désormais la gouvernance même de La France insoumise et son manque de démocratie qui sont aujourd’hui pointés du doigt.

Amongst the many reasons why a large section of the Left in France, and elsewhere in Europe, is sceptical about ‘left populism’, is this kind of simulacrum of democracy cobbled together around a “Webocracy”.

The stimulus for this is that today Le Monde published an internal document of LFI in which members of the movement criticise these structures and their poor results (6,3%) in the European elections.

Une note interne à La France insoumise dénonce « un fonctionnement dangereux pour l’avenir du mouvement »

Dans un document que « Le Monde » s’est procuré, plusieurs dirigeants « insoumis » demandent plus de démocratie interne et critiquent sévèrement le mauvais score du parti aux élections européennes.

In a document that le Monde has obtained many leading figures of LFI have asked for more internal democracy and have heavily criticised the poor results of the party in the European elections.

This report gives some details:

Crise ouverte à La France insoumise

This is not the end of the troubles of LFI.

One of their best known intellectual, Thomas Guénolé,  has fallen out with the rally, and has been embroiled in a sexual harassment case brought by a young woman LFI activist.

Today we read this: Thomas Guénolé poursuit La France insoumise en justice

The political scientist is the author of some decent books (Petit guide du mensonge en politique, 2014) and some, in many critics’ view,  less than decent books  – (Islamopsychose 2017).

Guénolé had been active in LFI. He was a candidate on their European list this year, before falling out, drastically with them. He has called hMélenchon an « autocrat », la France Insoumise a « dictatorship », and denounced their “stalinist methods of stifling critics.  Guénolé has been accused of sexual harassment by LFI.

Today he announced that he will see them in court…

 

To cap it all  in le Monde yesterday (print edition) an appeal was published calling to break with the existing structures of the French left (follow my gaze, La France insoumise), in a “big Bang” to create co-operative structures.

It’s launched by Mélenchon’s  nemesis: Clémentine Autain.

Image result for clementine autain

 

Perhaps the Charismatic Leader will now take a back-seat:

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National Populism: Trump to Boost Farage as Brexit Party Support Surges.

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Image result for front page sunday express

What do want? “Smash the System”! 

These figures predict the beginning of a political earthquake.

One might say that such a tectonic shift in support cannot happen.

There are good grounds for scepticism.

But…

Fast backwards to France a couple of years ago.

Since the French elections of 2017 the victory of President Macron and its aftermath have seen the traditional parties of left and right nearly wiped off the map.

The first round of the Presidential contest saw the former ruling Parti Socialiste get 6,36% for its candidate, Benoît Hamon. For the traditional right,

François Fillon scored a respectable 20,01%. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, for the “movement” or “point de ralliement” la France insoumise, got 19,58%. The context went into the second round with a duel between Emmanuel Macron and   Marine Le Pen, which ended in Macron’s victory at 66,1% over the far-right Le Len getting 33,9%.

In the legislative elections held afterwards Macron’s party and allies won 348 seats. The left (Socialists, Communists and La France insoumise) was reduced to 44 deputies.

This is the result of this year’s European elections which saw, in France, the left further reduced (only the Socialists, PS, and La France insoumise LFI won seats) the ‘neither right nor left’ Greens (EELV) win MEPs, and the traditional right (Les Républicains, LR)  also lose heavily. The results were again dominated by Macron’s party and Le Pen’s rally (RN).

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Some  features stand out.

The first is the marginalisation of a splintered left.

If people have been “freed” from the slavery of their traditional allegiances,  in  Christophe Guilluy’s words, “Le grand marronnage des classes populaires” (Le Crépuscule de la France d’en haut, 2018) their new home is not in any renewed democratic politics.

Far from creative grass roots politics, or a new kind of left, we had the success of Macron’s ‘start up’ Business party.

This is its internal structure, “La République En Marche! considers every person who submits identification information (date of birth, email, full address and telephone, number) and adheres to the party’s charter to be an adherent.” The English Wikipedia entry neglects to go further into how LRM  operates, “les décisions viennent d’en haut, il y a une commission d’investiture sans que les militants ne votent…”,   Decisions come from above, there is a commission of investiture (selection of candidates) without activists voting. (see Structure )

It is a “movement”, like Mélenchon’s La France insoumise, run top down by a coterie of professionals in communication and in liaison with the Parliamentary group  around the Leader (with all the authority in this case of the President)  with no internal democratic decision making, only online “consultations”.

The Third is that if the “gilets Jaunes”, whose main rallying call has been for Macron to Resign, have not created an alternative out of their “assemblies”, or one that is invisible to anybody but their more gushing admirers, from the UK’s National Populists of left and right, and some romantic leftists.

I the European elections it was the Rassemblement national (RN), ex Front national (FN) who came first. This party has a tiny, 38 000 official membership. It has a structure, said originally to be inspired by the French Communist Party, of a an executive bureau, a political bureau and a central committee, now know (since 2018) as the ‘national council.”

Is that the kind of political melt-down we are facing in the UK.

Richard Seymour, in no less an organ than the New York Times observes.

.Long underestimated, Mr. Farage has done more than any politician in a generation to yank British politics to the hard, nationalist right. He is one of the most effective and dangerous demagogues Britain has ever seen.

Seymour notes the most relevant aspect of the Brexit Party’s model, which has been widely commented on:

Farage has spotted an opportunity: a new political model, inspired by the Five Star Movement in Italy. A “digital platform” that harnesses the free labor of its “users,” allowing them “participation” through content-sharing and online polls, rather than rights. Parliamentary democracy is slow at the best of times, and these are not the best of times. Such platforms, however, introduce volatility to the system. Dropping UKIP, a traditional membership party, he launched something like a venture capitalist start-up, with crowdfunders rather than members, and a chief executive rather than a leader.

Unlike older party models, it doesn’t invest in lasting infrastructure. It is nimble-footed, expert at gaming social media — the stock market of attention. It won the battle for clicks, and made a killing in this election. Such online frenzies are akin to destabilizing flows of hot money, forcing legacy parties to adapt or die. But when Parliament is so weak, its legitimacy so tenuous, they can look like democratic upsurge.

If the poll today there is more than a “online frenzy” happening.

The M5S,  Movimento 5 Stelle may or may not be a “model” for some.  I doubt if Macron or Mélenchon’ would see it that way and Podemos, while partially inspired, has at least some democratic framework.

Most significantly M5S, with an unstable record of support (32,7% of the vote in 2017 Parliamentary elections, 17,1% in this year’s European elections, in coalition with the far-right Lega, has, with its deputy PM   Luigi Di Maio paved the way for the hold on power of his fellow deputy PM,  the National Populist Matteo Salvini.

Yet the issue of Democracy apparently remains at the centre of the Brexit Party’s claim to Speak for the People, for National Sovereignty, and for a Hard Brexit.

Usefully highlighting the core of the operation Seymour does see off this self-serving claim by Claire Fox:

She heralds this ” “start of a new politics”

In Spiked the former RCP activists continues: Claire Fox on what’s next for the Brexit Party and her journey from Marxist to MEP.

when I was in the RCP many moons ago – and the past really is a different country – I was always a democrat, a supporter of liberty, agency and sovereignty, so I don’t think I’ve travelled that far.

I somehow felt that if I could do anything to rescue the democratic potential of the 2016 vote, then I would. So in that sense, it has been a journey. But the journey was not so much from revolutionary communism to standing next to Farage, but from commenting on events to taking on that responsibility.

Her Boss continued in this vein.

The Brexit Surge

Engaging the ignored masses, tapping their democratic insights, genuinely drawing their convictions and concerns and beliefs into the heart of the political sphere – this is now the key task of everyone who is committed to the idea of Brexit, democracy and radical political change in this country.

Brendan O’Neill

But…..if you’re not democratic inside your ‘party’, if you leave things to the Farage coterie, how can you be democratic in the country?

Seymour concludes,

The quintessential City trader and apostle of cutthroat competition, he is exploiting our democratic crisis to remake politics in his own image.

Shift forward to today’s headlines.

Image result for Nigel Farage and Donald Trump newspaper front page

Is the Brexit Party also fascist?

For the moment we take this into account:

The Crisis of Left Populism in France.

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Left Wing Populism Faces French Crisis.

The End of “left-wing Populism”?

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

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

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

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

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

Clémentine Autain

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

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

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

Laclau and Mouffe’s strategy in question.

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

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

The People and its Parasitic Other.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image may contain: 2 people, crowd and outdoor

 

*****

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

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

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National Populists Predicted to get strong vote in European Elections.

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

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

Le Monde.

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

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

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

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

The RN no longer advocates withdrawal from the European Union.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

But this is not all.

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

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

The European Left in Disarray. LOREN BALHORN

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

Un rire jaune.

As French National Populist Rassemblement Takes Projected Lead in European Polls Anti-Semitism Scandal Emerges.

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Marine Le Pen’s Party  likes a laugh…

The Rassemblement National (RN) stands at 23,5% in polls for the European elections, just ahead of Macron’s list, for En marche at 22,5% (Européennes : un nouveau sondage donne le Rassemblement national devant En Marche ) In another poll more than a third of French people are reported to  have a “good opinion” of the far-right party (Plus d’un tiers des Français ont une bonne opinion du Rassemblement National).

This morning on Europe 1 Gilets Jaunes were interviewed on how they would vote.One said for Marine Le Pen’s party, the other would cast his ballot for La France insoumise.Meanwhile this  scandal around the picture of a Rassemblement National aide disguised in “funny” dress as a Rabbi has been hitting the French media headlines.
This is the background from Konbini news.C’est un nom inconnu du grand public. Et pourtant, Guillaume Pradoura est bien connu de la délégation du Rassemblement national (ex-Front national) au Parlement européen. Par son curriculum vitae d’abord. Actuellement assistant de l’eurodéputé Nicolas Bay, en 7e place sur la liste RN aux élections européennes, il a été un temps colistier de Marion Maréchal-Le Pen aux élections régionales de 2015.

He is unknown to the general public. And yet, Guillaume Pradoura is well known to the Parliamentary group of the Rassemblement national (RN) (former Front National) in the European Parliament. By his CV to begin with. He is currently assistant to the MEP Nicolas Bay, in 7th place on the list RN in the European elections. He was on the same election list as Marion Maréchal-Le Pen in the 2015 regional elections.

Guillaume Pradoura s’est d’abord fait un nom au sein de la mouvance identitaire avant de rejoindre le parti de Marine Le Pen. Un engagement qui lui permit de nouer de solides relations avec différents groupes nationalistes et néonazis européens. Au point de faire jouer son réseau pour aider un jeune Français proche du Ku Klux Klan à échapper aux forces de l’ordre, avait révélé Mediapart en 2016. L’assistant de Nicolas Bay avait alors expliqué au site d’information avoir “voulu l’aider, dans une sorte de réflexe paternaliste”.

Guillaume Pradoura first made a name for himself within the identitarian movement before joining the party of Marine Le Pen.  This was an engagement that allowed him to build strong relationships with different nationalist and neo-Nazi European groups. To the point of using his network to help a young Frenchman close to the Ku Klux Klan to escape the police, as Mediapart revealed in 2016. The assistant of Nicolas Bay had then tried to explain this by saying that he ” wanted to help, in a kind of paternalistic reflex’ .

He is now suspended from membership of the Rassemblement national.

RN : l’assistant de Nicolas Bay suspendu après s’être “déguisé” en juif sur une photo

The Rassemblement national (RN) announced Friday the suspension of Parliamentary Assistant to the European Parliament, RN Nicolas Bay after the broadcast of a photograph depicting him “disguised” as a Jew.

On this snapshot posted on social networks by MEP Sophie Montel, former activist of the National Front, Guillaume Pradoura is wearing a rabbi hat lined with curls. He grimaces in front of the lens, his hands twisted.

“Guillaume Pradoura is immediately suspended from the National Gathering and summoned before the conflict commission for the purpose of exclusion”, wrote Friday on his Twitter account the mayor of Hénin-Beaumont (Pas-de-Calais) and vice-president of the RN, Steeve Briois.

At the beginning of the day on Radio Classique, Nicolas Bay had played down the importance of this “very old photo, which dates from 2012 or 2013” and spoke of “bad taste”.

This picture was initially defended by his boss,

“It was a dressing up, a simple bad taste joke  in a private setting” , said the former Vice President of the Front National Nicolas Bay,

Aide to far-right French politician pictured wearing Orthodox Jewish costume

Times of Israel.

Guillaume Pradoura, an aide to National Assembly leader Nicolas Bay, posing in 2013 while wearing an Orthodox Jew costume. (screenshot news.konbini.com via JTA)

JTA — An assistant of the general-secretary of France’s foremost far-right party was photographed grimacing while dressed as an Orthodox Jew and extending claw-like fingers at the camera.

Labeled by the French media as an “anti-Semitic caricature,” the image from 2013 of Guillaume Pradoura, which surfaced in social networks this week, exposed the National Rally – formerly National Front – to fresh criticism of anti-Semitism in its ranks.

Pradoura is the assistant of Nicolas Bay, ranked number 7 on the list for this month’s European Parliament elections by the National Rally under Marine Le Pen.

Bay dismissed criticism over the picture, saying that “it was a disguise, a mere joke made in bad taste made privately,” Kobini, a news site, reported Thursday.

Far-right candidate of the National Rally party Nicolas Bay, speaks during a media conference for the upcoming European elections next month in Strasbourg, eastern France, April 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

Jean-Marie Le Pen, the party’s founder and father of it’s current leader, Marine Le Pen, has multiple convictions for denying the Holocaust and inciting racial hatred against Jews. His daughter has kicked him out of the party and vowed to stop expressions of anti-Semitism in its ranks.

 

From Jean-Luc  Mélenchon’s Left Populism, Andréa Kotarac Defects to far-Right Populism.

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Image result for Andréa Kotarac parti de gauche

From Populist Left to Populist Far-Right.

Many on the French left have long been wary of La France insoumise, the self-styled Left Populist Movement, “point de ralliement (rally) of Jean-Luc  Mélenchon.

One issue has been its ‘sovereigntism’.

That is, putting the demand of popular sovereignty – against the ‘oligarchy’, domestic and European – at the centre of its politics.

A couple of days ago this type, Andréa Kotarac, decided that the far-right rally of Marine Le Pen, the  Rassemblement national, was a better bet for this nation-centred strategy.

French far-left candidate slammed as ‘stink bomb’ for defecting to far right

France 24.

High drama in the French campaign as a far-left candidate calls for voters to back the far right – earning the would-be MEP some choice insults from French far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

Andréa Kotarac, a former regional adviser to Mélenchon’s far-left France Unbowed party (La France Insoumise), announced Tuesday that he was leaving the party and would instead back the far right in European Parliament elections in order “to block” President Emmanuel Macron’s Republic on the Move (La République en marche) party. Mélenchon responded by calling Kotarac a “stink bomb” and a “traitor”.

In fact there is already a legal process to stop Marine Le Pen’s Party using this support in their election publicity.

 

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Written by Andrew Coates

May 16, 2019 at 5:39 pm

Étienne Chouard, Alain Soral, The Far-right, Political Confusionism and the Gilets Jaunes.

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Image result for étienne chouard soral

Face au fascisme on ne pense plus; il ne faut plus penser – c’est tabou. L’antifascisme est une forme plus évoluée, plus subtile que l’antisémitisme, mais pas moins contre-révolutionnaire. Il crée une attitude de réflexe et de haine.”

Faced with Fascism, one stops thinking; one mustn’t think any more – it’s taboo. Antifascism is the more evolved form, subtler than anti-semitism, but no less counter-revolutionary. It creates a reflexive attitude of hatred.

Groupes radicaux pour l’abolition de l’argent et de l’État

From, Précieuses pépites. Étienne Chouard.

(citations of his cherished nuggets, 1031 pages long, from the Situationists, James Madison, Gandhi, Pastor Neimöller, Edmund Burke, George Orwell……)

Alain Soral has been condemned to a year in gaol for Holocaust denial. As the would-be sorcerer’s apprentice of a Red-Brown alliance, his balance-sheet has until recent years largely been a negative one. The most public initiative, the ‘anti-Zionist’ electoral list he helped organise with Dieudeonné, with the support of a few former leftists, and Tehran inclined Islamists, was a failure.

Égalité et Réconciliation¸ trumpeting the cause of workers and peoples, with right-wing national values, against globalist elites, appeared submerged in the malestrom of populism. As part of a “conspi” turn it could be said that Soral, who never fails to inject anti-semitism into the public domain, helped set out some markers, but little more. His site has had a small, if real, (according to reports) echo amongst the anti-gay marriage and anti-‘genre theory’ movement, which combined the traditional far-right, Catholic ‘ultras’ and some conservative Muslims. To escape from this impasse Soral has recently tried to engage – before his imprisonment has temporarily cut this short – with the Gilets Jaunes…with more success, if still limited.

It is the fashion in some quarters to look at the Gilets Jaunes through rose-tinted spectacles. After all, what could be more heartening than to discover, as perhaps prophesied by Jean-Claude Michéa, the work of those “en bas” in revolt against the neoliberal elite. The left which has, since, apparently the Dreyfus Affair, sought to integrate the left into a world ruled by finance is shaking. Woven in the by those who have been “solidaires depuis toujours”, acting through the heart of their “idenitité populaire la plus spécifique”, the French People have arisen…. (Notre Ennemi le capital. 2017)

No doubt there are worthy projects to wrestle inside the Gilets Jaunes movement, and fight for leftism and below within it. Reports, though not those broadcast by the professionals of tinting roses, the SWP, if their most recent General assembly (not universally recognised) indicate that they have decided to not offer any recommendation to vote for the coming European elections. A victory of sorts, though one finds it hard to imagine the good faith of any leftist sitting in a room with those who argued for supporting for a variety of hard-right lists – as happened..

Instead we have Étienne Chouard, a teacher, whose Mother worked for the – some might say – elitist Tel Quel literary and theoretical journal of Philippe Solars,  known for its 1960s structuralism, ultra-Maoist phase, and violent ‘anti-totalitarian’ turn in the 1970s. He says he is “a seeker of the original cause of social injustices”. The blogs he runs, such as Plan C, and his own personal site, advance the cause of “une Constitution Citoyenne, écrite par et pour les citoyens.”

Chouard is popular amongst the Gilets Jaunes – significant enough to be cited at length in the media, the latest appearance being in Saturday’s Le Monde (13.4.19). His audience on social networks is astronomical. He is probably the best known promoter of one of the Gilets Jaunes central demands, direct democracy through the idea of government by referendum. “référendum d’initiative populaire”. A one-time leftist, who dabbled in anarchism and the ultra-left, and who claims inspiration from  Cornelius Castoriadis he has expressed sympathy for Nigel Farage, yet voted Mélenchon in the last Presidential elections. The life-long grass-roots activist has now declared that he will back François Asselineau, a hard-right Frexit (French Brexit)  campaigner who runs the small UPR. It is also opposed to NATO. Le Monde notes he is far from alone amongst the Gilets Jaunes in backing this far-right party.. (12.4.19. Gilets jaunes » : François Asselineau et le « Frexit » font recette sur les ronds-points) that the UPR is known for promoting “conspiracy” ideas. (1)

Image result for étienne chouard soral

Chouard is the ideal type of “ confusionism”, melding together the far-right ideas with leftism. But this rhetoric does not stop at issues such as the European Union. As the reader of (one can believe this, see above) over 3,500 books on philosophy, politics and stuff, he has views on many areas. His freethinking has led him to express opinions doubting the official version of 9/11, and to express interest in the conspi site, Réseau Voltaire. Chouard has also had ties, notable ties, with Alain Soral over the years. His notorious description of Soral as a “resistant” did not go down well. He has stood back, preferring the calmer waters of the UPR, for his own red-brown alliance, from aligning himself with the sulphurous holocaust denier.

Despite the jolly film (judging from its trailer…) J’veux du soleil, by François Ruffin, there seems, as yet little indication of the français de souche amongst the Gilets Jaunes, reaching out to minorities, the “urban nomadic proletariat”.  But he doubtless found somebody prepared to listen to Michéa when it comes to official left and liberal anti-fascism.

(1) See also COMMUNIQUÉ DE PRESSE : ÉTIENNE CHOUARD ANNONCE PUBLIQUEMENT QU’IL VOTERA POUR LA LISTE DE L’UPR AUX ÉLECTIONS EUROPÉENNES )

François Asselineau‘s ‘souverainiste‘ platform has two main targets, the European Union and the United States.[32] He insists that France should leave the Eurozone,[33] the European Union, and NATO.[32] According to Asselineau, the EU and NATO “as seen from Washington…are the political and military side of the same coin, that of the enthrallment of the European continent to their ‘buffer zone’ so as to surround and contain the Russian continental power”.[33] He says the process leading to European unification was launched solely upon orders from the American government.”

You can guess his views on Assange and Brexit….