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Taiwan and China. Left Responses. Controversy over Campism shown in France by Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s response.

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Across Europe Chinese sabre-rattling against Taiwan has met with different responses on the left.

Jean-Luc Melenchon, the leader (without a Parliamentary seat) of La France insoumise, and part of the left alliance, NUPES, created controversy in France with this statement.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon calls Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan visit an American ‘provocation’.

Le Monde (English edition) 5th of August.

Amid tensions between Taipei and Beijing, La France Insoumise (LFI) leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon called the US House Speaker’s trip to Taiwan a “provocation,” saying in a blog post published on Wednesday, August 3 that “there is only one China.”

Nancy Pelosi’s initiative, taken as part of an Asian tour, is seen by China as support for Taiwanese independence advocates and a reneging on the US pledge not to have official relations with the island.Read more Pulling the tiger’s tail: Nancy Pelosi’s dangerous Taiwan trip

In his post, Jean-Luc Mélenchon wrote that “Taiwan is a fully-fledged component of China,” using a term used by the Beijing regime but rejected by the Taipei authorities.

….

Chinese Embassy thanks Mélenchon

“The Chinese will solve the problem among themselves. There is no other reasonable outcome possible,” said Mr. Mélenchon, accusing the United States of wanting to “open a new front.” This is not a new position for Mr. Mélenchon, who in 2021 rejected the idea of a “cold war with China” when discussing a proposal for a resolution in the Assemblée Nationale in favor of Taiwan being included in the work of international organizations.

In the evening, the Chinese embassy in France tweeted to thank Jean-Luc Melenchon “for his consistent support for the one-China policy.”

After immediate fall-out from this statement Melenchon buckled down,

Taiwan: Jean-Luc Mélenchon defends his position despite criticism

Le Monde (translation from French editions)

The leader of La France insoumise described Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan as a “provocation” and reiterated that “there [was] only one China”, triggering strong criticism, particularly in the within the left-wing Nupes alliance.

Within the left-wing alliance Nupes, the national secretary of Europe Ecology-The Greens (EELV), Julien Bayou, had denounced Friday “a rather dated vision” and “a real cynicism in terms of geopolitics” on the part of Mr. Mélenchon, while the head of the Socialist Party (PS), Olivier Faure, judged that if “the advisability of Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan [was] debatable, the will of the Taiwanese to live in a democracy is not not” .

There were also sharp criticisms from  Raphaël Glucksmann who accused the chief of La France insoumise of being guided purely and simply by « l’antiaméricanisme ».

This is untrue. Melenchon has a long history of ambiguous statements about the Chinese Communist Party social chauvinist imperialists, hostility to Tibet’s Dalí Lama, and even saying that France had much to learn from the Chinese ‘planned’ economic model, for its state directed development).

There has been some serious unpicking of Mélenchon’s statements, notably in Libération:

Mélenchon et Taiwan: «Dire que les Chinois règleront le problème entre eux est un contre-sens»

Interview with China specialist Antoine Bondaz.

I generously translate this as saying Mélenchon’s claim that the Chinese will settle this problems between themselves is a load of bollocks.

If the leader of the French Communist Party, Fabien Roussel, has also condemned the “provocation” of the Pelosi visit some of the radical left have taken a different position on Taiwan.

Campism (France): Mélenchon’s blindness on China rekindles tensions on the left.

Campisme (France) : L’aveuglement de Mélenchon sur la Chine ravive les tensions à gauche.

August 5, 2022,by BOUGON François , DEJEAN Mathieu Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières.

….asking the question of the advisability of such a visit does not mean that one should line up behind the propaganda of the People’s Republic of China in the name of an anti-Americanism inherited from the struggles of the Cold War.

It is indeed to ignore the voice of the Taiwanese who, in their vast majority, reject the “Chinese model” of Xi – the omnipotence of the Party-State, repression at all costs and Han nationalism – , which runs counter to what Taiwanese society has become since the democratisation of the 1980s.

The radical left party Ensemble! (Not to be confused with Macron’s coalition, which stole its name), which has 4 MPs as an ally of La France insoumise in the French National Assembly, has issued this statement:

Défendre les droits du peuple taïwanais 8th of August.

Press Release.

The political and military tensions around Taiwan are the result of Beijing’s stated desire to reintegrate Taiwan, in the name of the “one China” principle, without any consideration for what the Taiwanese people want, attached as they are to their democratic freedoms.

Without even mentioning the ferocious repression of which the Uighur and Tibetan peoples are victims, we must recall the precedent of Hong Kong. The way in which its people have seen themselves brutally repressed and deprived of their democratic rights – in total disregard of the commitments made by the Chinese authorities (“one country, two systems”) – testifies to what the Chinese dictatorial regime is planning to do with regard to Taiwan.

If we can discuss the appropriateness of Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, this subject can in no way eclipse the necessary solidarity with the Taiwanese people, respect for their right to self-determination and opposition to any aggression. aimed at prohibiting them from deciding their destiny independently.

On the British left the Stop the War Coalition published this piece by Jenny Clegg a backer of “Anglo Chinese understanding”, ” interested in a “multipolar world”, “China’s unique contributions to Marxism”, and a supporter of the No Cold War campaign.

PELOSI’S TRIP TO TAIWAN THREATENS WAR WITH CHINA

Taiwan is portrayed in the West as a semi-independent democracy threatened by China’s expansionist autocracy; China however sees the island, just one hundred miles from its shores, as kept separate by external backing, its political system permeated by US interests.

For China, it is a matter of sovereignty, reunification its core issue pursued consistently over 70-plus years so as to close the last chapter on its history of imperialist domination.

Taiwan was taken by Japan in 1895 following its defeat of China. At this time China was being divided into spheres of influence by the imperialist powers. However, after the 8 year anti-Japanese war of resistance (1937-1945) which cost some 15-20 million Chinese lives, Churchill and Roosevelt agreed, in recognition of Chinese contribution to the WW2 victory, that Taiwan would be returned to the mainland.

Even if a crisis is averted this time, the US has clearly begun serious planning for a conflict with China. Those hapless ignoramuses who pass as our political leaders are buffeted this way and that amidst the vagaries of US politics: the decoupling that should be taking place right now is between our policymakers and the US warmongers.

If anybody cared what the StWC said this might have created a media controversy.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 11, 2022 at 10:37 am

France: Return of the Left. Radical Democratic Socialism Replaces Left Populism.

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The French Left is Back.

The Official results of the first round of the French Parliamentary elections are out.

It is heart-warming to see that a united left has done well. Less encouraging was a record rate of abstention – only 47,51% the electorate voted.

This low-turn out tends to go against the claims of those who, not long ago, were talking of a “post-political” disengagement of people across the world from elections. The reason they claimed was that only varieties of centrist accommodation to neo-liberal globalisation were on offer in the ballot box. France had President Macron’s Ensemble! bloc moping up that vote, and what remains of the classical right outside his fronts and satellites, Les Républicains. Those who reject that consensus could choose the extreme right, and anti-globalist national populists of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National. The sovereigntist RN remains pro-domestic private enterprise, tempered by welfare for nationals, and a strong state. A very different alternative is the united left with a radical democratic green and socialist programme NUPES (Nouvelle Union populaire écologique et sociale).

The reasons for the high stay-away percentage in France have yet to be explored in depth. Some think that once the Presidential election has taken place people lose interest in further contests so close to that election (Macron won in this April) . Others claim that for the Legislative battle the campaign was low-key – though having watched some NUPES meetings live there was plenty of stirring speechs and ideas around. No doubt there are still those around who will claim that the left was not a “real” radical alternative.

There was also a host of minor parties for all tastes and shapes. They include those from Trotskyist parties – the  Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique (POID, Lambertist split from Lambertist POI), 115 candidats, Lutte ouvrière, 553 candidates,  Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (NPA) 17 candidats (backing NUPES in many other places),animal rights, Parti animaliste, (429 candidates), the Union des démocrates musulmans français (UMDF, 85 candidates ), and many more.

One point worth noting, Socialists and others who stood ‘dissident’ left candidacies – over 60 of them make little electoral impact, remaining marginalised. (Législatives 2022 : chez Hollande, Le Foll ou Delga, point de salut hors de la Nupes).

This result was even sweeter:

The NUPES alliance did well largely by combining together the left votes. That is by not fragmenting them in competing candidacies. Two probable results stand out, La France insoumise (LF) of Jean-Luc Mélenchon (who did not stand) is likely to win between 95 and 115 seats (in the outgoing Parlement they only held 17) the Green party, Europe écologie les verts (EELV) who do not have MPs in the National Assembly, between 20 and 30 The Socialists, PS appear likely to remain stable at 24-29 as are the Communists (PCF) at 10 to 16 seats.

A few years ago it looked as if parts of the left (not least the PCF but also the PS in their former working class constituencies ) would disappear from the national electoral map, obliterating (whatever one thinks of their historic record) historic links between the French left, the labour movement and its working class origins. While NUPES has found new strength in the diverse new working class and public sector employees in the banlieues of metropolitan France it is good to see the Communists fight the battle of the Second Round face-to-face against the far-right in the North of France (LES DUELS NUPES/RN. l’Humanité).

La Macronie continues to try to thwart the left. According to NUPES, they had the biggest national total, with  6 101 968 votes ( 26,8 %), while the Interior Ministry gives them 5 836 202 votes ( 25,7 %). By coincidence Macron’s Minister’s figure put them second, behind his Boss’s party, Ensemble, 5 857 561 25,75%……

This has not pleased NUPES:

Then there is a row over whether Macron’s bloc will call for a vote for the left if they are standing alone against the far-right in the Second Round…Known as the Front Républicain a dispute broke out last night on this issue:

Macron’s side have at least partially backtracked, after saying they would decide, ‘case by case’. Others will vote – in such duels – left against the far-right. But the state of play on this topic seems to change from hour to hour.

The character of the new left bloc that has emerged will be clearer after next week’s run-off elections. But as observers are already noting, the effect of what the Tendance and others called “Mélenchon’s toning down (of) his left-populist rhetoric about “federating the people” against the “elite”, “la caste” beyond political divisions” is sinking in. Some might wonder also how far the claim to be standing in the perspective of being a Prime Minister was serious…

For academic and populist theorisers of Mélenchon, restricted circles it is true – in France his admirers are more enchanted by his citations of Victor Hugo’s poetry than explications of the new ‘ère du peuple‘ – this turn about will be hard. All those years of mastering the jargon of left populism – the “discourse theory” of Laclau and Chantal Mouffe (on the creation and articulations of the People, ‘affects’, the signifier ‘democracy in the political imaginary, the Enemy), said to be, if not the inspirer of his strategy, or an adviser of his Movement at least a fellow left populist thinker. The time reading and listening to  the LFI leader’s own call to Federate the People against La Caste, the Oligarchy, his celebration of the Bolivarian Revolution, and ‘charismatic leaders’, not to mention Mélenchon’s call for a ‘Citizens’ Revolution’ in the Hexagon, (1) all that seems from the remote, antiquated, fading past…..

*****

(1) “Les formules sur la révolution citoyenne, l’insurrection citoyenne ont disparu du texte commun. 

C’est le chapitre sur les questions de désobéissance à l’Europe qui ont a été le plus profondément modifié, ce qui confirme le rôle des institutions européennes dans le verrouillage néolibéral de toute politique. Toutes les mesures de blocages prévues par AEC, l’utilisation du droit de véto, la désobéissance aux règles européennes, sont limitées et tournées vers la volonté de « faire bifurquer les politiques européennes », de travailler à modifier les règles incompatibles avec le programme en étant « prêts à ne pas respecter certaines règles ».

Au plan international, un chapitre sur l’OTAN est fondamentalement modifié : le retrait du commandement militaire et par étapes de l’organisation sont supprimés du texte commun (sauf pour le PCF et LFI)..dans lesquels est réitérée la volonté de renforcer et démocratiser l’ONU.

Législatives (France) : De l’Avenir en Commun au programme de la NUPES, quelles évolutions ?
LE MOAL Patrick

France: Return of the Left?

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French Left Gets Serious About the National Assembly Elections and its Future.

The French left has not collapsed or been absorbed in the way its Italian counterparts have done in the face of a new centrist party (il Partito Democratico, in Italy’s case). Hopes are growing that, with Mélenchon toning down his left-populist rhetoric about “federating the people” against the “elite”, “la caste” beyond political divisions, the serious business of creating left alliances, not just in the National Assembly but on the ground, may begin.

Seventy-year-old Mélenchon is not standing in the coming elections – he has said that one can be prime minister without being an MP (technically the case for a number of former PMs). Commentators point to the candidacy of Manuel Bompard in the LFI leader’s former Marseille seat. Is he passing the reins of power over to the person who headed the negotiations that created NUPES? Can a more durable strategy of left unity come about with a new generation in charge of La France insoumise?

Full article: Return of the left in France?

For those interested in the minutiae of French Trotskyism- and who isn’t? – this is interesting. Jean Luc-Mélenchon came into politics as an activist, and regional cadre, of the ‘Lambertist’ current of Trotskyism.

That is, the Organisation communiste internationaliste, l’OCI, the Lambertists, from the pseudonym of their leader Pierre Lambert, real name Pierre Boussel (June 9, 1920 – January 16, 2008). One of the fragments left of this tendency, the Le Parti ouvrier indépendant, Independent Workers Party, (POI) (not to confused with their deadly foes, le Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique (POID) – the feud ended in the historic 2015 split)- has been in touch with the leader of La France insoumise. More precisely they have backed Mélenchon’s electoral interventions since 2017. The POI is one of the smaller parties/groups that form part of the NUPES alliance.

Despite its decline, the POI still has a large building in Paris 87, rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis. Known by its street number, 87, this workers’ fortress has a reputation, not always a glowing one, amongst those who have little fondness for the Lambertists. The HQ has been given over to meetings of Mélenchon’s Presidential front, the Union Populaire. Some say they intend to buy it. The POID are enraged,

“Pierre Lambert would turn in his grave seeing how the hard work of activists that had made it possible to acquire this premises have been betrayed. (…)The large (Meeting) room at 87, rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis, yesterday adorned with red flags, portraits of Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, is today adorned with te tricolour and posters glorifying the new Popular Front. ” says Daniel Gluckstein, leader of the POID.

*******

 Nouvelle Union Populaire écologique et sociale (NUPES)

PartyAbbr.IdeologyPolitical positionLeader(s)
La France Insoumise and allies
La France InsoumiseLFIDemocratic socialism
Environmentalism
Left-wing populism
Left-wing to far-leftAdrien Quatennens
Left PartyPGDemocratic socialism
Environmentalism
Left-wing populism
Left-wingJean-Christophe Sellin
Hélène Le Cacheux
Ensemble!E!Socialism
Eco-socialism
Left-wingCollective
Picardie DeboutPDSocialism
Environmentalism
Left-wing populism
Economic nationalism
Regionalism
Left-wingFrançois Ruffin
Ecological Revolution for the LivingREVDeep ecology
Green politics
Environmentalism
Pacifism
Left-wingAymeric Caron
Independent Workers’ PartyPOICommunism
Marxism
Left-wing[25] to far-leftCollective
Rézistans Égalité 974RÉ974Democratic socialism
Regionalism
Left-wing to far-leftJean-Hugues Ratenon
Ecologist Pole
Europe Ecology – The GreensEELVGreen politics
Alter-globalisation
Centre-left to left-wingJulien Bayou
Génération.sG.sDemocratic socialism
Environmentalism
Eurofederalism
Centre-left to left-wingBenoît Hamon
The New DemocratsNDSocial liberalism
Social democracy
Environmentalism
Centre-leftAurélien Taché
Émilie Cariou
Ecology GenerationGreen politics
Integral ecology
Ecofeminism
CentreDelphine Batho
Socialist Party and allies
Socialist PartyPSSocial democracyCentre-leftOlivier Faure
Place PubliquePPSocial democracy
Environmentalism
Pro-Europeanism
Centre-leftRaphaël Glucksmann
New DealNDSocial liberalism
Progressivism
Keynesianism
European federalism
Centre-left to left-wingArnaud Lelache
Aline Mouquet
French Communist Party and allies
French Communist PartyPCFCommunismLeft-wing to far-leftFabien Roussel
Pour La RéunionPLRDemocratic socialism
Post-Marxism
Regionalism
Left-wingHuguette Bello
Tavini HuiraatiraTHSocial democracy
Democratic socialism
Progressivism
French Polynesian autonomism/independence
Centre-left to left-wingOscar Temaru
Péyi-APéyi-AMartiniquean independenceCentre-left to left-wingJean-Philippe Nilor
Marcelin Nadeau

Written by Andrew Coates

May 30, 2022 at 12:23 pm