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For a Left Populism. Chantal Mouffe. Review: “Neither Left nor Successful”.

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Left Populism, “Neither Left nor Successful”.

For a Left  Populism. Chantal Mouffe.  Verso. 2018

Review: Andrew Coates.

(From the Latest Chartist Magazine.)

Chantal Mouffe and her partner Ernesto Laclau published Hegemony and Socialist Strategy in 1985 She begins For a Left Populism on the “challenge represented by the ‘populist moment’ by referring to the “incapacity of left politics” during the 1980s to grapple with post-68 movements, from the women’s movement to ecology. Anything that could not be thought of in class terms had been rejected. They offered, she states, an alternative, which became associated with the monthly, Marxism Today, against this “class essentialism”. It focused on bringing these new social forces into a left project, the “radicalisation of democracy”. There were angry debates on the left about these claims, focused around the authors’ ‘post-Marxism’ and the importance of class in left politics.

The world has changed. Today Mouffe argues that neoliberalism, austerity, and “oligarchisation”, has brought down living standards and eroded popular sovereignty. The political system is hollowed out. It is “post-democracy”, a term she takes from Colin Crouch and Jacques Rancière (La Mésentente. 1997). A paradigm of ‘consensus’ around the value of the free-market marks Western societies. There is little more detail about what is ‘post’ democratic in the new millennium’s elections, political competition for government and the possibilities for public debate opened up by social media.

How this differs from the previous consensus around the Keynesian welfare state, known in Britain during the 1950s as ‘Butskellism’, is not explored. The thrust is that social democratic and Labour Parties, notably during Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s premierships, accepted the legacy of Margaret Thatcher. As part of this ‘hegemonic’ package they put concern for the Taxpayer over generous public spending. New Labour agreed that privatisation of state functions and industries were “what works”. They aimed at competing on the global market. .

After the 2007 financial crisis people across Europe began to question the belief that these policies brought them any benefit. Those “left behind” by austerity in the wake of the baking crisis and globalised economies, demanded “democratic recognition”. Many Mouffe says, have turned to anti-establishment populist parties of the right, or have expressed their unhappiness through backing the Hard-Right project of Brexit in the UK European Referendum.

The message of For a Left Populism is, “To stop the rise of right-wing populist parties, it is necessary to design a properly political answer through a left populist movement that will federate all the democratic struggles against post-democracy.” She commends the Spanish Podemos, Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France insoumise (LFI) and Labour under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, for “left populist strategies.” 

For a Left Populism draws on many, often very abstract, ideas that Mouffe has developed since the 1980s. This include her writings on Carl Schmitt, Claude Lefort, Jürgen Habermas (amongst many others) and  ‘agonistic democracy”. This is a concept which puts conflict and dissensus at the heart of democratic debate. Conflict, she argues, are the keynotes of pluralist democracy. This is an idea familiar from less elevated works. Bernard Crick’s In Defence of Politics (1964, and later editions) made a vibrant democratic socialist case for the importance of open disagreement and debate for the democratic left. Crick also wrote on how Machiavelli saw “liberty arising from conflicts.” (Introduction to The Discourses. Niccolò Machiavelli. 1970)

For a Left Populism talks about constructing a “collective will”. Left populism, she asserts, draws into its orbit by a “chain of equivalences” a variety of progressive demands, open citizenship. This is the ‘construction of the People”, a collective political agency, “ opposing the ‘people’ against the ‘oligarchy’. For this to work Mouffe follows the late Ernesto Laclau. There has to be “some form of crystallisation of common affects, and affective bonds with a charismatic leader… “ One can see the attraction for Jean-Luc Mélenchon who has made sure that there is no “so-called” democratic opposition in his Web-Platform based movement. It is a “lieu de Rassemblement” (rallying point) not a political party. (1)

Mouffe’s left populism also, centrally, draws on the “libidinal investment at work in national – or regional – forms of identification”…” National identities should be left to the right.  Instead of leaving the field to national populists there should be another outlet, “mobilising…. around a patriotic identification with the more egalitarian aspects of the national tradition.”

Much of this approach to nationalism is drawn out from the tangled thickets of Frédéric Lordon. The French theorist developed from some of  Spinoza’s ideas a picture of the importance of ‘affects’, which he illustrated as attachments of people to national identities, and, above all, nation states. La Société des affects (2013). Lordon, a supporter of Mélenchon has faced charges of nationalism himself. Chantal Mouffe’s French critics have not been slow to point out to the emotional ‘affects’ of voters motivated by anti-immigrant feeling. These are neither legitimate concerns nor are those who have them likely to drop their views to join a left-wing Collective Will. (2)

Since For a Left Populism was published Mélenchon’s Movement has stagnated and declined in polls, down below 10% of voting intentions for the coming European Elections. It has faced a series of internal crises, centring on the lack of democratic decision-making. Marine le Pen appears to have had more of an impact in the Gilets Jaunes uprising than the leader of La France insoumise. After poor regional election results in Andalusia and declining support Podemos, has suffered a serious split. Her interlocutor, Iñigo Errejón (Podemos, In the Name of the People. Iñigo Errejón. Chantal Mouffe. 2016) is now aligned with Más Madrid, a catch-all progressive alliance. Pablo Iglesias is said to project a long-term alliance with the Spanish socialists, the PSOE. The radical left “Anticapitalista” current is in outright opposition.

The problem with left populism is, as Éric Fassin has remarked, is that, “it’s neither left nor a winning strategy.”  Perhaps we should follow his advice and concentrate on creating broad and effective democratic socialist parties and not on ‘federating’ the “people”. (Populisme: le grand ressentiment. 2017) (3)

 

*****

  1. À propos du mouvement «La France insoumise» Jean-Luc Mélenchon. C:\Documents and Settings\Compaq_Owner\My Documents\À propos du mouvement «La France insoumise» Jean-Luc Mélenchon.htm
  2. Populisme de gauche, du nouveau ? Pierre Khalfa
  3. See also: Left-wing populism.A legacy of defeat: Interview with Éric Fassin Radical Philosophy. 2018. For an overview of Mouffe and Fassin see Jacobin, Can There Be a Left Populism?Jacob Hamburger. There is much to say on the intellectual structure of the ‘affects’ argument, and the abstract account by Mouffe construction of the ‘people’ in a counter-hegemonic direction through relations of equivalence which he does not. Hamburger however makes the valdi points that ‘left populism’ is hard to pin down as one thing (the gulf between Sanders and Corbyn alone is immense, and Podemos and La France insoumise) but fails to deal with anything like the different party structures. One can also see that the “degree of porosity between left and right” is politically fraught with dangers, as, even if minority, Gilets Jaunes red-brown cross-overs indicate. One would also prefer an account which focuses on sovereigntism, national independence as a rampart against neoliberalism, something Jacobin writers have themselves embroidered into a ‘left populism’.

 

As the attraction of ‘left populism’, which is still influential in publications such as New Left Review, and the American Jacobin, and other pro-Brexit groups, wanes,  this important article also in the latest Chartist, continues the argument:

THE DANGER OF LEFT NATIONALISM IN THE UK AND EUROPE

Extract:

A recent book on Corbynism by Frederick Harry Pitts and Matt Bolton argues that its key components lie in “seeing the world as constituted essentially of nations” and “posing the nation against global and international capital”. But, the authors point out, the search for sovereignty is destined to fail, not least because “we live in a world structured by capital, a social relation which exists as a world market, from which single states cannot abdicate, no matter how hard they try”. Not only is this emerging aspect of Corbynism pitting itself against the tide of history, but it also produces political rhetoric that shares territory with the nativist Brexiteer right wing. In casting the ‘national community’ as the primary community for whom the left speaks, and in describing not only global flows of capital but also of people as threat to this primary community, the left has clearly contributed to racist othering of migrant workers. Which is why some of Corbyn’s speeches on Europe have drawn praise from the likes of Nigel Farage.

Corbynism’s emerging left nationalism is treading the same path as parts of the French and German left. As far back as 2016 Sahra Wagenknecht of Die Linke challenged Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to accept more than one million refugees, calling for limits on entry. In an environment where the far right is stoking fears about ‘violent’ immigrants with fake news and conspiracy theories, Wagenknecht has called for the deportation of any refugees who ‘abuse’ German hospitality: a call in complete contravention of the UN 1951 Refugee Convention, and one that drew praise from the far right Alternative für Deutschland.

Continue Reading.

 

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Podemos Splits between the Errejón Camp and Iglesias’ as ‘Left Populism’ Fractures.

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Podemos in Major Split.

Left wing populism’ in Europe is fracturing.

The strategy of unity the ‘people’ against the ‘elite’ the ‘caste’ is has not succeeded in unifying the left in the European countries where it has had the greatest impact.

In France we have this:

Now in Spain Podemos, which unlike La France insoumise has a real democratic internal life and national political leaders of some independent statue, has split.

(From Mike P)

Íñigo Errejón, best known to English language readers as the subject of an interview-book with Chantal Mouffe (In the Name of the People.  2016) stopped belonging to the Unidos Podemos parliamentary group on Monday afternoon. (El País. 22.1.19)

The division was announced a few days ago,

Íñigo Errejón, a top official at the group that he helped transform from an anti-austerity movement into a national force with parliamentary and institutional presence, on Thursday announced his decision to run for the Madrid regional premiership at the May election in alliance with Más Madrid, the party created by the mayor of the Spanish capital, Manuela Carmena.

El País, which few would suspect of sympathy for Podemos, also publishes a  column which announces that

La ventana de oportunidad que alumbró el nacimiento de Podemos se ha cerrado definitivamente

The window of Opportunity opened at the birth of Podemos has closed definitely.

Del 15-M al 26-M 

The above article, which refers to game theory and the Prisoner’s dilemma, point out that in these conditions the lack of co-operation may mean that neither will win.

Here are some extracts from an overview of this dispute:  (El País, 18.1.19)

Podemos founders go their separate ways ahead of Madrid elections

Pablo Iglesias confirms party split and says he is saddened by the surprise news that his colleague Iñigo Errejón will run with the Madrid mayor in May

On January 17, the fifth anniversary of the creation of Podemos, two of its leading founders publicly confirmed the fracture of the left-wing party.

Íñigo Errejón, a top official at the group that he helped transform from an anti-austerity movement into a national force with parliamentary and institutional presence, on Thursday announced his decision to run for the Madrid regional premiership at the May election in alliance with Más Madrid, the party created by the mayor of the Spanish capital, Manuela Carmena.

Podemos Secretary General Pablo Iglesias said he was “saddened” by the surprise news, and wished Errejón “good luck building his new party.” He also confirmed that Podemos will be running with a candidate of its own at the May election, in direct competition with his former colleague.

A Marcos notes that their disagreements go back some time.

The differences between Iglesias and Errejón go back to 2016, when the former decided to join forces with the United Left (IU) in the general election. A few months later, in February 2017, Podemos held a congress to renew the party leadership and Errejón headed a current defending different political goals from those championed by Iglesias, whose views ultimately won out.

Then, in May of last year, Errejón ran in party primaries to find a candidate to the Madrid regional premiership. He won the nomination, but new problems arose when his first choice as a running mate was overlooked and a different person named without his prior knowledge or approval.

With four months to go before Spain holds local and regional elections, Madrid is not the only place where Podemos is running into trouble. In the northwestern region of Galicia, its En Marea coalition is breaking up. In Cantabria, the party is currently headed by an interim management committee. And in Barcelona, primaries will determine whether Podemos runs in the municipal elections with Mayor Ada Colau once again.

In May of last year, Iglesias survived a confidence vote when he put his leadership to the test after being heavily criticized for purchasing a €600,000 country house in Galapagar, a town northwest of Madrid, with his partner Irene Montero.

English version by Susana Urra.

There is more on this here:

From best pals to rivals: Merciless duel rages over the future of Podemos

(2017)

And here:

In the meantime today Podemos has seen fit to cause trouble for the Socialist led government by refusing to vote for legislation on housing and rents.

Podemos complica la vida al Gobierno en el Congreso

This development casts doubt on the ideas put forward by the best known theorist of Left Populism, Chantal Mouffe,

..this is the political strategy that I call “left populism”. Its purpose is the construction of a collective will, a “people” whose adversary is the “oligarchy”, the force that sustains the neoliberal order.

It cannot be formulated through the left/right cleavage, as traditionally configured. Unlike the struggles characteristic of the era of Fordist capitalism, when there was a working class that defended its specific interests, resistances have developed beyond the industrial  sector. Their demands no longer correspond to defined social groups. Many touch on questions related to quality of life and intersect with issues such as sexism, racism and other forms of domination. With such diversity, the traditional left/right frontier can no longer articulate a collective will.

To bring these diverse struggles together requires establishing a bond between social movements and a new type of party to create a “people” fighting for equality and social justice.

We find such a political strategy in movements such as Podemos in Spain, La France Insoumise of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, or Bernie Sanders in the US. This also informs the politics of Jeremy Corbyn, whose endeavour to transform the Labour party into a great popular movement, working “for the many, not the few”, has already succeeded in making it the greatest left party in Europe.

 

Populists are on the rise but this can be a moment for progressives too 

Many would say that the first basis of constructing a “collective will” is to have some unity on the left.

To construct a left.

This is obviously not the result of the politics of either La France insoumise or, now, Podemos. Podemos, naturally, as the Spanish press points out, has its own concerns, and difficulties, in recent electoral contests, such as in Andalusia.

More broadly Éric Fassin has summed up the central problems of ‘left wing’ populism during this debate (extracts).

Left-wing populism A legacy of defeat: Interview with Éric Fassin

 Is it a good strategy? Does it work?

……

The problem with the populist strategy, for the left, is that it’s neither left nor a winning strategy. It was even less so during the latest presidential campaign in France: everyone played that same card at the same time, including Macron, with a rhetoric of ‘centre’ populism! Of course, my argument is not just about France. The same considerations apply to the United States. But another dimension becomes apparent there, thanks to the availability of racial data. Trump’s success is not so much among working-class voters in general, but more specifically among the white working class. In a left-wing populist strategy, the racial dimension of the Trump vote is underestimated, and the class dimension is overestimated – whereas it now seems clear that his critique of the establishment was always just an illusion.

….

Beyond differences, left-wing populisms share the same premise: replace the opposition between right and left by the one between ‘us’ and ‘them’, people from below and elites from above. Obviously, the caste is less numerous than the people: ‘we are the 99% and they are the 1%.’ Indeed. But then, how come it’s so difficult for left-wing populists to reach a majority in elections? This is why we need to differentiate sociology and politics – and not conflate them as populism tends to do. If the working class voted according to their common interest, clearly the left would be flourishing today. That is not the case.

….

Politics is not just about elections. But I think that populism itself is defined by an electoral project. Mélenchon is first and foremost a former and probably future candidate running for presidential elections. So, indeed, there is more to politics than elections; but my little book was written in a context of elections, as an attempt to reclaim the opposition between right and left at a time when the populist illusion seeks to define the terms of debate far beyond elections.

 

The discussion, which is much longer, has to be read as a whole.

I highly recommend Éric Fassin’s clear and short, Populisme: le grand ressentiment (2017) which Radical Philosophy says is being translated into English (the point above about constructing a left “construire une gauche” is taken from the conclusion).

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For a broader international starting point the Wikipedia entry  Left-wing populism is good.

 

La France insoumise in crisis as leading figures denounce “autocratic” Mélenchon.

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Crisis over Nationalism and Autocratic Leadership in La France insoumise.

Des cadres de La France insoumise dénoncent les dérives autocratiques de Mélenchon

Nouvel Obs.

A wave of protest has been stirring in La France insoumise (LFI). According to Le Monde  several leaders of the movement, including  candidates for European elections, and Charlotte Girard, co-responsible for LFI’s  programme – have denounced the autocratic excesses of the leader of LFI. These criticisms were published in an internal letter of January 9 came after ” banishment” of François Cocq, January 5, by this tweet from Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

CNews claims that a Spokesperson for LFI is nationalist François Cocq who has been banished from the movement.

Le Nouvel Obs continues,  that there are “serious complaints about the internal organisation of LFI.”

Le Monde has the original story.

Dans une lettre que « Le Monde » s’est procurée, des « insoumis » s’émeuvent du « bannissement » de François Cocq.

Europe I continued,

Les cadres de La France insoumise dénoncent la “brutalité” du “bannissement” de l’un des leurs par Mélenchon

Now it is clear that this Blog has little, indeed, no sympathy with the politics of Cocq, who represents the worst sovereigntist tendency in La France insoumise.

This is, for example, what he has said in his defence (Novel Obs)

ll emploie le mot nationaliste comme une injure. Je n’ai pas de problème à parler de la nation. Pour moi, c’est le corps politique constitué, ce qui définit le corps républicain. C‘est notre histoire, la grande histoire révolutionnaire. Mélenchon parle lui plutôt de patrie républicaine mais je sais qu’on met la même chose sous ces deux termes.

(Mélenchon) used the word nationalist an insult. I have no problem speaking of the Nation. For me, it is the political body which makes up the flesh and bones of the republic. It’s our history, our glorious revolutionary history. Mélenchon prefers to speak of a Republican fatherland, but I know that the two terms refer to the same thing.

The main difficulty seems to be that Cocq does not simply repeat the party line on this ideological issue.

There also appear to have been differences over the degree of warmth and enthusiasm for some of the Gilets Jaunes, notably the leading figure  Eric Drouet.

Cocq appears to have been more guarded in his support for this figure.

It is clear that, as the letter cited above states, banishing the individual, who is widely known in the Rally, apparently a “national orator ”, by tweet from the Party leader, is hardly democratic.

As those protesting have said, this is an off the cuff pronouncement from Mélenchon not a the result of LFI party members’ decision-making.

It reminds people of Trump’s behaviour.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 16, 2019 at 4:22 pm

Another Setback for La France insoumise after Defeat in By-election.

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After predicted win, defeat for La France insoumise.

The American radical progressive journal Jacobin ran this story this weekend,

France Insoumise’s Farida Amrani is the frontrunner to replace France’s former prime minister Manuel Valls as MP for Évry.

A Foot in the Streets An interview with Farida Amrani. 

Talking to a progressive French patriot, Cde Broder, Amrani the candidate for Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Rally, said that their progressive politics were clear,

We work in the interests of a program created by and for the people, above partisan divides.

Amarani lost, heavily, to the candidate of la République en Marche (LREM), President Macron’s Party.

He, the Mayor of Évry, Francis Chouat got 59,1% of the vote.

There was a high rate of abstention in the by-election, 8,08 % in the first round.

And in the second (83%), which the Leader of the Progressive LFI drew some comfort from – by blaming it for stifling the voice of the people’s anger.

 

The candidate of LREM was less unhappy:

 

The owner of Jacobin, the wealthy Brexiter and radical progressive  Bhaskar Sunkara has recently bought into the British left.

Well-established rumour has it that he has sent his majordomo,  Sebastian Budgen, to negotiate a slice of the media empire of La France insoumise, the “web-télé” imaginatively titled Média.

It is said that after this, and other setbacks for LFI, stocks are on offer at an attractive price.

 

More information: Législative partielle en Essonne : Francis Chouat, soutenu par LREM, succède à Manuel Valls

Written by Andrew Coates

November 26, 2018 at 12:15 pm

Formal legal investigation opened into Jean-Luc Mélenchon and La France insoumise’s finances.

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Mélenchon Faces the Law of the Republic.

Two inquiries have been launched into the campaign accounts of Jean-Luc Mélenchon for the 2017 presidential election and the assistants of his rally La France insoumise’s MEPs. They have been entrusted to investigating judges by the Paris prosecutor’s office, according to a statement issued on Friday 9 November .

Jean-Luc Mélenchon et LFI visés par deux informations judiciaires

Le Monde.

Two judicial information was thus opened against X. The first, relating to the financing of the campaign , mainly for “fraud” and “breach of trust” , while the second, concerning the parliamentary assistants, was opened for “misappropriation of public funds “ .

Jean-Luc Mélenchon and his party are therefore targeted by two separate investigations.

The first concerns the accounts of the campaign of Jean-Luc Mélenchon for the presidential election of 2017 where  the fraud is alleged to occurred.

These are extremely serious and range from money-laundering to pure and simple swindling.

The second concerns Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s parliamentary assistants in the European Parliament.

The suspicion is that he and his rally employed parliamentary assistants in the European Parliament  to work for themselves outside of their European tasks. This ultimately amounts to diverting money from Parliament by creating fictitious jobs.

Other MEPs and former MEPs are involved in the investigations into the use of European Parliamentary assistants for domestic party work, such as Brice Hortefeux and Michèle Alliot-Marie (the right of centre, Les Républicains), Edouard Martin (elected on the Socialist Party’s list, now in  Génération.s , of Benoît Hamon) or Yannick. Jadot (Europe Ecology-The Greens,  Europe Ecologie-Les Verts EELV).

Mélenchon has reacted by stating that he is happy that this inquiry is to be led by two independent investigating judges, the “normal” procedure:

Sur Twitter, le leader de La France insoumise s’est félicité que l’enquête soit menée par des juges d’instruction indépendants.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 9, 2018 at 5:20 pm

Mélenchon and la France insoumise in Free-fall.

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Mélenchon : Aux portes du pouvoir par Fayol

Looking Further from the Gates of Power than Ever.

“la vertu est cette capacité à mettre en adéquation les principes qu’on applique dans sa vie avec ceux qu’on voudrait voir appliquer au plus grand nombre au benefice de tous”

Virtue is the faculty to be able to properly line up the principles that you apply in your life with those that you would like to see applied to the greatest number of others to the benefit of all.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon. De La Vertu.2017.(1)

Tout commence par la mystique, par une mystique, par sa (propre) mystique et tout finit de la politique.”

Everything begins in mysticism, by a mystique, one’s own mystique, and ends in politics.”

Notre Jeunesse. Charles Péguy. 1910 – 11. (2)

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, writes Chantal Mouffe, is a successful left-populist. He has channelled a feeling of being “left behind” and the “desire for democratic recognition” away from the far-right. Mélenchon’s Rally, la France insoumise (LFI) has been able to “federate all the democratic struggles against post-democracy”. Like Jeremy Corbyn his “anti-establishment discourse” “comes from the progressive side”. (3)

Mélenchon has ambitions grander than picking up the votes of La France périphérique, the ‘somewhere people’ stranded on the margins in the age of globalisation. He seeks support in that direction. LFI’s reaching out to protests against the rise in engine fuel, backed by the far-right Rassemblement National (ex-Front National) – despite previous green commitment – underlines the approach. But the goal of the movement is to create the multitude, the common people, are transformed into a People by collective action. The fight against the “oligarchy” the push for equality, what remains of class struggle, the deeply rooted “anthropological” need for sovereignty, are woven together into a vision adequate to the ecological demands of a planet under threat. (4)

Out with Class Based Parties!

In these conditions the old class based “party forms” of the left have consigned the left to a dwindling “archipelago”. Their vertical structures correspond to the old Taylorist and Fordist forms of work. The emergence of the dissatisfied People, broader than the traditional working class, as a category, a potential political subject, facing the financial Oligarchy rends them obsolete. Horizontal on-line debate makes the old ‘rigid’ democratic procedures out of date. His movement, a “brand (“label”) is a vehicle for common action. It is not (his quotation marks) “démocratique”, with different tendencies, factions, or even votes on opposing motions at conferences of elected party representatives from branches. It is, in line with these social changes, a “movement”, in which its politics are visible, and through which supporters are involved not by old-fashioned voting but through selection by lot to participate, to a degree decided by their own wishes, in the grand replacements of the old politics of La France insoumise. (5)

It was hard not to be reminded of this vision when listening to the radio station, Europe  1 this morning. The news began with the results of an opinion poll which put LFI’s list for the 2019 European elections in free-fall, down to  11% (drop of 3%)  three and a half points above the Parti Socialiste (7,5%if Ségolène Royal lead their list, otherwise 6%)   Its follows surveys which indicated that, after his public exhibition of petulant rage over an investigation into the Movement’s finances, Mélenchon himself has lost 7 points in personal popularity though some polls put the loss higher at a drop in 15% amongst those who voted for him in the Presidential elections (Jean-Luc Mélenchon dégringole de 7 points). Marine Le Pen’s  Rassemblement national  (ex-Front National) meanwhile is scoring the same, around 20%,  as La  République en Marche of Emmanuel Macron.

L’enfance d’un chef.

The coup de grâce came with an interview with Mélanie Delattre et Clément Fayol, the authors of a book, to be published this week, on Mélenchon and La France insoumise. Mélenchon : Aux portes du pouvoir.This attempts to unravel “le système Mélenchon” It began with a description of LFI as a “business” (Chef d’entreprise et anticapitaliste), and its Leader’s considerable personal fortune. The canny homme d’affaires prefers, they allege, to squirrel away money in a variety of companies rather than reward his long suffering staff. We were then treated to a sketch of its internal ‘operations’, tightly controlled by those in the ‘club’ around the leadership.

Next, the authors asserted, far from being a ‘new type of open to all, a” participative” structure, it is ruled by ‘Trotskyist’ organisational practice – that it a very special kind of ‘Trotskyism’, the Lambertist centralist type which brooks no opposition. They managed to suggest that his screaming and foot stamping against those officials and police agents trying to investigate some of the secrets of this “business” was a premeditated piece of theatre. In short, the accusation is that Mélenchon has retained the political practice of his youth inside one of the most sectarian narrow-minded nationalist (both of its two existing splinters advocate Frexit) French left currents.

Finally, the interview raised the issue of Jean Luc’s long-standing membership of the Freemason, Grand Orient lodge. This, for those wishing to pursue further, may be compared to the deceased leader of Mélenchon’s former faction Pierre Lambert, who enjoyed a life- time friendship with one of the founding figures of French Trotskyism in the 1930s, Fed Zeller, who passed from the Fourth International to the same loge…(6)

To their credit after his tantrum and disrespect for republican legality the French freemasons have suspended Mélenchon and some have asked for his expulsion (Des francs-maçons veulent éjecter Jean-Luc Mélenchon du Grand Orient à cause de son attitude lors des perquisitions).

Where does this leave  La France insoumise?

Many people have the impression that their intellectual support was from the kind of academic or student who, had they been born at the time, would have admired Péguy. That is, a kind of faith in the capacity of socialism to effect a cultural and spiritual renewal beyond sordid (‘post-democratic’) politics. One can see them warming to the nationalist exaltation of Le Mystère de la Charité de Jean d’Arc (1908) It is to be doubted if they would have belched at the author’s railing at “bourgeois cosmopolitanism” and hatred of Jaurès’ Teutonic socialism. (7) The might well have had a sneaking admiration for the Camelots du roi, armed with lead-weighted canes against rootless youpins. If few would accuse Mélenchon of anti-semitism, LFI, we are informed is none too fond of George Soros, and as for Germans….

Rather than awaiting the Second Coming the supporters of Mélenchon  expect a laïque  révolution citoyenne and the Sixth republic led by the genial LFI Chief – any day now…

The painful realisation that Mélenchon’s ‘mystique’ is evaporating and that they have ended up in the sordid world of less than virtuous politics will be a hard to manage…

Mélenchon aux portes du pouvoir,  published at the end of the week, looks set for the leftist must-read list….

  1. Page 136. Jean-Luc Mélenchon avec Cécile Amar. Editions de l’Observatoire. 2017
  2. Page 115. Charles Péguy. Notre jeunesse. Folio Essais. Gallimard. 1993.
  3. Pages 22 – 23. Chantal Mouffe. For a Left Populism. Verso. 2018.
  4. Le Peuple et son conflit. Pages 142 – 147. Jean-Luc Mélenchon L’ère du Peuple. Pluriel. 2017 (new edition).
  5. Le Peuple et son mouvement. Pages 148 – 156. Op cit.
  6. Fred Zeller. Témoin du siècle. Du Blum à Trotsky au grand Orient de France….Fayard. 2000
  7. This is how he described the German influence on the politics of Jean Jaurès: “une sorte de vague cosmopolitisme bourgeois vicieux et d’autre part et très particulièrement et très proprement un pangermanisme, un total asservissement à la politique allemande, au capitalisme allemand, à l’impérialisme allemand, au militarisme allemand, au colonialisme allemand.”(P 1259) .Charles Péguy: Oeuvres en Prose. 1909 – 1914. Tome ll. Bibliothèque de la Pléiade. Avant-proposes et notes. Marcel Péguy. 1961.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Wobbly Goes Rotten: Where will his leftist admirers stand now?

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Mélenchon Goes Trump:”Have You Still  Got Questions, Bunch of Scumbags?!”

At this year’s The World Transformed, held parallel to the Labour Conference., Jean-Luc Mélenchon, was a star.

Why we’ve invited Jean-Luc Mélenchon to The World Transformed

.. the real reason for Mélenchon’s invitation to TWT is not because he is Corbyn mark 2. No, it is for the same reason that TWT is happening in the first place: as part of a democratic socialist project to shift power towards the people. The fundamental truth about the two men’s successes is that it’s not about them. It’s about what they, and TWT, represent: the left taking hold of the future.

Mélenchon’s presence is not simply a result of similarities between him and Corbyn. It is a sign of a rising internationalist left building socialism from the grassroots. In learning from and debating with one another, as TWT allows us to do, we can help build a world for the many, not the few.

Politis has published an accurate account of the scandal that is shaking Mélenchon’s rally, La France insoumise (LFI).

Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s far-left freakout

The France Unbowed chief, who came fourth in last year’s presidential election, is taking to Facebook livestreams and iPhone monologues to harp on what he calls a “Macronism-media-prosecutor” conspiracy against him. The early signs are that the ranting and raving are not going down well with the French public, as Mélenchon seeks to build support for an international leftist alliance for next year’s European Parliament election.

The plot alleged by Mélenchon, which presumably draws support from President Emmanuel Macron’s backers, centers around an October 16 raid on the far-left leader’s apartment and office by magistrates investigating suspected campaign finance fraud in his 2017 bid for president. In a video of a standoff between Mélenchon’s followers and the investigators standing outside his office, the 67-year-old firebrand can be seen leaning nose-to-nose with an officer and shouting “La République, c’est moi!” (“I am the Republic!”) as the man quietly asks him to take a few steps back.

Mélenchon was only getting started. Three days after the raids, which targeted the homes of 10 France Unbowed aides in addition to his own, the party leader held a news conference during which he railed against what he called a “political police” and accused Macron of using the judicial system to undermine his movement. He then turned his wrath to the media, vowing to sue news channel BFM for defamation, accusing journalists from public news outlet FranceInfo of being “liars and cheats,” and mocking a female reporter who tried to ask him a question for having an accent from southern France.

Politis does not cover some of the salient details of this one-man melt-down that have since emerged.

Such as the 12,000 Euros, in cash, found during the Police enquiry at the home of one of those close to the Leader.

Or the “close” relation (“extraprofessionnelle”) between the Chief of La France insoumise and the Sophia Chikirou, former head of the LFI linked PR firm,  Mediascop, renamed and called imaginatively Le Média when it expanded into providing ‘news and information’After resigning following  some ferocious rows there she is at present involved in their European election campaign. (Mélenchon, visé par les juges, s’en prend aux médias).

Today brings another batch of details about the accusations concerning LFI’s use of fictitious jobs and dodgy accounts involving Mediscop, his election campaigns and the company set up in the name of one of Mélenchon ‘s dire books, L’Ere du peuple (which announces that class struggle is henceforth absorbed into the fight between the People and the elite Caste): Soupçons d’emplois fictifs et comptes de campagne : les deux affaires qui visent Mélenchon (le Monde).

Mélenchon has responded to media reports of the charges and his hysterical reaction by calling on supporters to “« pourrir ” (which could be translated as ‘give a bollocking to’, bearing in the mind that its root meaning is “to rot”) critical journalists.

Two targets were singled out: Radio France’s France-Inter and the independent Mediapart, set up by the left-wing veteran Edwy Plenel (“Agression” et “ignominie” : Mélenchon s’en prend à Mediapart, qui révèle sa “relation extra-professionnelle” avec sa conseillère Sophia Chikirou “)

Attacking the media, some might say, has become something of an obsession:

With a tear in his eye LFI deputy Eric Coquerel, who has close ties with the exemplary media outlet, RT, tweeted yesterday. He warned of the far-right in Bresil, and fellow Media-hater Trump, and compared Melenchon to French socialist martyr , Jean Jaurès.

Coquerel omitted to mention that Jaurès, opposed to war between the European nations un the build up the Great War,  was insulted for his alleged ‘pro-German’ sympathies, for which he was murdered by a far-right nationalist.

There are not many people around who would accuse the author of “le poison Allemande” of being pro-Bosch.

Image result for le poison allemand

Still, he’s got this backing for his present stand:

There have been many admirers of La France insoumise in the English speaking world, Counterfire for one.

But few are as stalwart in defending Mélenchon as the US magazine Jacobin.

As this reaction to his latest troubles indicates.

Raided by the MachineCOLE STANGLER

17.1018.

Yesterday morning, French police raided the home of Jean-Luc Mélenchon. The leftist leader was quick to point the blame at Emmanuel Macron.

……

If anything, this will energize the party’s base even further. Among Mélenchon’s many attributes, he has a powerful social media presence; of the 1 million people who like his page on Facebook and the 1.93 million who follow him on Twitter, a significant portion just witnessed their favorite politician humiliated at his own home.

Not everyone will feel the same; some will even think he went overboard with his reaction. But faced with the judicial offensive, Mélenchon’s own supporters will surely be fired up by the raids.

Unfortunately for this die-hard the opinion polls this week say that not only do 76% disapprove of this attitude but 51% of his voters in the Presidential election do so as well. His support now stands at a shrunken level. His

score has dropped by 7 percentage points since last month, with 22 percent of respondents approving of his job performance. Among hardcore backers — those who voted for him in round one of the presidential election — the level of support had fallen by 15 points.

Tough one…