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France: `The new anti-capitalist party is on the march'

Appeal of the national coordination of action committees for a New Anti-capitalist Party

The “new anti-capitalist party” proposed by the LCR in France had its first national meeting on the 28th and 29th June in St Denis near Paris. About 1000 people were present including 800 delegates from local committees. After a first session of contributions from local committees, the gathering split up into workshops on different themes such as ecology, feminism, internationalism, work in local neighbourhoods, in work places, with the sans papiers...

The meeting ended with the creation of a national coordinating committee to prepare a further national meeting in the autumn and the adoption of a statement.

We will carry further reports on this meeting and the process of creating the new party but we publish here the statement adopted.

We are thousands of workers, men and women, from the cities and the countryside, with or without employment, with or without papers, young people, pensioners, precarious workers, activists from political organisations, trade-unions, associations, new and old, who are in the process of making this project a reality.

Today there are more than 300 committees and the dynamic is getting stronger. This is a result of people becoming conscious: we can no longer put up with a globalised capitalist system which is leading the world to disaster! We now find ourselves in an economic and financial crisis, an energy crisis, a food crisis, whose consequences no one can predict. More than ever, this system is making the search for profit the centre of its decisions, treating the lives of millions of human beings with contempt. Fundamental ecological equilibriums are threatened. Because it is the source of the problem, capitalism, like all productivist systems, is unable to provide a solution to it. In a world of greater and greater inequalities, hunger riots are spreading, as a consequence of the policies of the great imperialist powers, the institutions that serve them (the IMF, the WTO…) and of shameful speculation on essential commodities. The war “without limits” decreed by Bush and his allies, including France, is spreading its horrors throughout the world.

Here in France, Sarkozy and the MEDEF [French employers’ organisation] are multiplying attacks which express the arrogance of the powerful. Seldom have right-wing policies been so openly aggressive towards the vast majority of the population. Seldom have the owners of wealth, the shareholders, and the employers shown themselves to be so avid for profits, with contempt for the elementary wellbeing of the people. Yes, everywhere people are exasperated by the attacks on the gains working people have made, on solidarity, on public services, by the difficulty of “making ends meet”, by the worsening of housing and living conditions, by racism and discriminations, by law and order policies… We must not throw away the potential of this exasperation by letting ourselves be taken in by “social dialogue” with the government, by division, by one-day strikes in disorder, one sector after another. Here and now, we can react! Action “all together”, determined and unitary, the generalisation of the struggles and the strikes that exist, that is what is needed to defeat the government and its counter-reforms!

To push things in this direction, it is necessary to regroup our forces in a party which does not give up anything, which does not abandon anyone. It is not possible to unite in the same party those who want to finish with capitalism and those who put up with it. It is not possible to have in the same government those who defend the rights of the workers and those who defend the power of shareholders, those who want to break with liberal policies and those who put them into practice, those who want to build a Europe of the workers and the most dedicated artisans of a Europe of free competition and profit. That is why we want a party completely independent of the Socialist Party, a party which defends to the end the interests of all the exploited.

We call on you to build, all together, a Left which does not give up, a fighting, anti-capitalist, internationalist, anti-racist, ecologist, feminist Left, a Left that is revolted by all forms of discrimination. To change the world, we need a party which fights to the end against the system, for the revolutionary transformation of society. The Left that we want must be organized on an international, and in particular European, scale. It must be present in elections, without ever forgetting that it is the social, cultural and ecological mobilisations that will impose change.

Bearing in mind past experiences, we will work out together, by taking the time to discuss, a new democratic socialist perspective for the 21st century. We do not have a model, especially not the regimes of the last century that claimed to be “communist”, but we have objectives. To put an end to the dictatorship that capital imposes on the economy and the entire society, to build the broadest democracy that humanity has ever known, where the “invisible hand of the market” will be replaced by collective decisions. There are more and more of us who want to meet this challenge. Individuals, groups of activists, revolutionary political currents, libertarians, communists, socialists, ecologists, anti-liberals, let us keep on uniting! … In their village, their neighbourhood, their workplace, their place of study, each and every one can and must bring, at their own speed, their contribution to the building of this pluralist and democratic instrument. Success is within our grasp.

Let us go forward!

St Denis, Sunday June 29, 2008.

[This statement forst appeared in International Viewpoint, at http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article1492 ]

 

* * *

Building a new anti-capitalist party - A progress report to the LCR's national leadership

By Ingrid Hayes

Following on the meeting of the National Leadership (DN) of the LCR over the weekend of May 17-18, some elements on the progress of the process of building the new anti-capitalist party (NPA)

On what information are these elements based?

  • on information coming directly from towns and departments, synthesized each week in an inventory of the situation sent out in the national circular of the LCR;
  • on a questionnaire that was filled out by the members of the DN concerning the NPA committees in their department.

1. How many committees are there?

This information is still partial but gives us a fairly reliable estimate of the number of committees: at the present time we can calculate that there exist a minimum of 250 committees already established and active, and at least a hundred in the process of being set up. Moreover, in a series of cities and departments, activity around the NPA has started but is not yet sufficiently advanced for us to consider that a committee is being set up. In all, activity is under way in more than 80 departments [out of 95 in Metropolitan France].

2. What form do they take?

a. In general they are set up on a geographical basis.

The great majority of the committees already existing or in the process of being set up are established on a geographical basis. There also exist also several dozen youth committees, often organised around universities or high schools. On the other hand, committees based on industries or workplaces are still very few, which undoubtedly reflects the difficulty of this work. The majority of the industrial committees are centred on the health sector, some are organised by rail workers or teachers and one functions in the Paris region with workers from 12 enterprises of the graphic industries.

b. The size of the committees.

It varies, between committees which function through well-attended general meetings based on a town or a department and others which are very small (less than 10 people)

3. Who is involved?

a. On the number of people involved.

It is still difficult to estimate. It is certain that several thousand people who are not members of the LCR are involved, and that they are the majority in the process. Furthermore, in certain cases (more than 15 per cent) there was no branch of the Ligue before the NPA committee was set up. So although the existence of a branch of the LCR is an important criterion, it is not always a necessary precondition.

b. The composition of the membership

At the present stage, it is not yet possible to give elements of information in terms of social composition and age. We will have to follow this up.

The new members for the NPA are often trade unionists, members of local or national associations, former members of political parties, but for the majority it is their first experience of being involved in an organized structure. In any case we can see great political heterogeneity, since the process is brining together ex-members of various parties of the left and far-left, former supporters of Jose Bove’s presidential campaign, radical ecologists, libertarians.

c. The ratio of women to men

According to a calculation carried out on a sample of approximately 160 committees, the numerical relationship between women and men is not up to our objective: there are approximately 35 per cent women.

Having said that, this ratio is comparable with that which exists within the LCR. It is nevertheless an important question to work on, because it concerns an essential aspect of the kind of society that we want to build, it is a condition for women to be able to play a full part and for the concerns and the demands of women to be taken up and defended by the future organization.

4. The diversity of rhythms

Seventeen pet cent of the committees were established before March and more than 70 per cent in March-April, without taking into account the committees that are in the course of being established.

That confirms the desynchronization that we have noticed since the beginning of the process, but it is actually quite limited, since work basically started after the municipal elections. We should nevertheless note that a series of areas and departments are very much in advance of the rest: the Haut-Rhin department around Mulhouse, Aquitaine (in particular Gironde and the Pyrenees-Atlantiques), Brittany, Franche-Comte, the city of Paris, Midi-Pyrenees (in particular Tarn and the Toulouse area of Toulouse), the Nord/Pas-de-Calais region, Upper Normandy (Le Havre and the Rouen conurbation) and the Bouches-du-Rhone [the area around Marseilles].

Although some towns and departments are reporting difficulties in launching the process, this only represents a small minority, to which we have to give help. In the vast majority of cases, it is enthusiasm which prevails, and even a certain astonishment on seeing the extent of the interest and dynamics provoked by the project.

In conclusion

The first phase of the process is an indisputable success: the interest and the dynamics are there, the political delimitations defined by the appeal launched at the LCR congress already seem to be collectively accepted, in particular as regards independence with respect to the Socialist Party. The discussions cover every possible subject, on the need to organise as a party, on democracy and internal functioning, on the link with mobilizations, on trade-union intervention, on how to address a broad audience, on strategic and programmatic questions; and the activity of the committees themselves has really started.

It remains to amplify this phase in places where things are less advanced, but especially to pass on to the second phase, of the stabilization of the committees in terms of participation and commitment. In general there exists a solid core made up of members of the Ligue and of non-members, the latter taking their share of responsibilities for the political and organisational aspects of the process (this is a decisive element, in particular for the second phase), but we sometimes see, beyond this core, that there is some turnover. We have to make sure that the party that is being built becomes a place that everyone feels is theirs, which means that we have to have more thorough collective discussions on the party, its functioning, its programme, but also that we have to strengthen its activity, anchored in local and national mobilisations.

[Ingrid Hayes is a member of the National Leadership of the LCR (French section of the Fourth International), with particular responsibility for work in the global justice movement. This document first appeared in International Viewpoint, at http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article1490]

 

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Olivier Besancenot: `The radical anticapitalist left can change'

Olivier Besancenot: "The radical anticapitalist left can change in

scale"


LEMONDE.FR with AFP | 28.06.08 | 19:27 hours • Updated 28.06.08 |

19:28 hours


On Saturday, June 28, a thousand delegates from the committees for

a "New anti-capitalist party" held their first national

meeting. "This first meeting is not a mini-congress, but it is a

strong founding action," began Olivier Besancenot, in front of the

delegates, most of them not members of the Trotskyist party,

gathered in an austere auditorium of the Plaine-Saint-Denis.


"We have a special responsibility: the radical anticapitalist left

can change in scale," the former presidential candidate of the Ligue

communiste révolutionnaire (LCR) assured, speaking for some minutes,

like the other delegates. His dynamic speech filled the auditorium

with enthusiasm: "We are rebellious, we want to go further, we want

to found a different society; what brings us together is an approach

of political restructuring," the young postal worker asserted, whose

popularity is rapidly growing, according to the latest polls.


"Bring the non-members of the LCR in on all the works"


Set up for several months under the guidance of the LCR, the

committees now bring together some 10,000 people, according to the

LCR, and are devoted to the aim of founding the new party, whose

name is still not determined, in January 2009. Alain Krivine,

founder of the LCR in 1968, is delighted: "It's a big success, we

are at the beginning of the process, and we are already 10,000,"

three times larger than the total number of the LCR. The success,

M. Krivine concedes, is not without a connection to the space

released by the PS [Socialist Party]: "Olivier Besancenot appears as

the best leader against Sarkozy, while the PS is silent or even an

accomplice" of the government, especially on the question "of

retirements."


At the end of the meeting Sunday, a structure should be put in place

from now until autumn to write a program and define the statutes of

the new formation. "The biggest challenge is to bring the non

members of the LCR in on all the works," while "half of them have no

political experience," Pierre-François Grond, member of the LCR

leadership, considered. Clémentine Autain, former contender for the

[leftist] anti-liberal [presidential] candidacy in 2007,

acknowledged that "the LCR is the only one making a political

proposal, while "the PCF, the PS left or the Greens are not doing

anything." But, in order to succeed, the new party, she feels, must

especially speak to other sensitivities, "so as not to become a

slightly larger LCR."


Contacts between the LCR and a former member of Action directe


Olivier Besancenot confirmed on Saturday that the Ligue communiste

révolutionnaire was maintaining contacts with Jean-Marc Rouillan,

former member of the far-left armed group Action directe. "I have no

problem saying it," the representative of the LCR declared. I belong

to a political tendency that denounced and disapproved of the

methods of Action directe at the time. The question that arises is

knowing whether some people, who experienced the prison system, have

the right to be politically active. We think that they do," he

asserted.


Sentenced in 1989 to life imprisonment, of which 18 years' detention

could not be suspended, since December 2007 Jean-Marc Rouillan has

been on supervised release. He was found guilty of "complicity in

the murders" of René Audran, general engineer of armaments [in the

French Defense Ministry] in 1985 and of Georges Besse, the Chairman

and President of Renault in 1986. (With Reuters)

LCR: June 1 European anti-capitalist left conference

A conference full of hope

François Sabado

On the 31st May and 1st June a Paris conference called by the LCR on “May 68- May 2008” brought together the European anticapitalist left.

They all came and were all there from the north and the south of Europe. There were about a hundred representatives of about thirty organisations from sixteen countries present. Among them were the principal organisations of the revolutionary left in Europe which represent thousands of activists and sympathisers. Also present was an observer from the ISO ((International Socialist Organization) in the United States. Among them were the main organisations of the revolutionary left in Europe representing thousands of activistis and sympathisers.

This international conference of the radical, anti-capitalist and revolutionary European left was undoubtedly a big success. For the first time since May 68 nearly all the anti-capitalist left was brought together in St-Denis (in the Seine St Denis department to the north of Paris). It was remarkable that this first meeting took place. The fact that it decided to continue and meet for a second conference in 2009 shows that something new is happening for Europe’s radical left.

This success is first of all connected with both the support for and the curiosity about the LCR’s initiative, building a new anti-capitalist party. But there is something else. A change in the historic period has been unsettling the workers’ movement and organisations for several years, a process which is perhaps coming to maturity in a number of countries. The combination, in the framework of capitalist globalisation, of the current financial, banking and food crises of capitalism, of the redoubling of attacks against social and democratic rights, and the social-liberal evolution of the traditional left opens a space for the radical left.

These questions were dealt with in a first discussion introduced by François Sabado, a member of the LCR leadership. He indicated a series of points of convergence on the nature of the capitalist offensive, on the evolution of the social-democratic and communist parties and on the dynamic of the class struggle. This debate also confirmed the points of agreement about the principal anti-capitalist measures in the face of neo-liberal capitalism and the need for a clear independence from social democracy.

All the organisations present reaffirmed the necessity of rejecting the politics of parliamentary or governmental coalitions with the social liberalism of social democracy or the centre left. These main reference points for rebuilding a new workers’ movement and an anti-capitalist alternative don’t exhaust all the indispensable debates for rebuilding a socialist project, debates which we must have on the different experiences in Europe, questions such as the formulation of an European anti-capitalist programme, the war, an ecosocialist response to the ecological crisis and of course about the content and forms of socialism in the 21st century.

So we have to work and debate. The next conference in 2009 will be focused on the struggle against the war, NATO and military politics in Europe .

There was something else positive about this conference. It is not only a question of discussing but also of acting. There were three discussions after the main discussion. The first, which was introduced by LCR leadership member Yvan Lemaitre, about the war, in which considering the warmongering policies of the ruling classes and the role of Nato, the conference participants decided to organise a large international demonstration in Strasbourg and Kiel next spring on the 60th anniversary of Nato.

For the first time a conference of this type looked at the question of global warming. It was introduced by Laurent Menghini. This second debate showed that all the anti capitalist organisations are developing an ecological dimension.

There was a third debate, introduced by Emmanuel Siegelman, on the importance of the struggle against racism and xenophobia. Following the example of the Lega Nord in Italy, which is waging a real campaign against foreigners, the attacks against immigrants are a central element of the attack of reactionary governments against social and democratic rights. Anticapitalists must make this a central axis of their activity in Europe .

After a short summary of the proceedings by Galia Trépère for the LCR, all the participants have decided to have a joint intervention at the next social forum in Malmo in Sweden, and especially to consider common activities at the time of the next European elections in 2009. What is at stake at a time when the far right, the socialist and communist parties all have European structures is to begin to build a European anti capitalist pole of attraction. This is one of the most difficult questions for each organisation has a different history, there are specific relationships of forces in each country. Some organisations have already responded positively. Others are going to discuss it, and some, without taking part in a European campaign, are open to common initiatives.

In short – the new anti-capitalist party is getting things moving in Europe !

The organisations represented were:

Austria : SOAL

Belgium: LCR-SAP

Britain : Respect, Socialist Resistance, Socialist Party, Socialist Workers Party

Denmark : Red Green Alliance

France : LCR

Germany : Anticapitalist Left, BASG, Interventionist Left, ISL, Marx21, RSB,

Greece : Alternative Ecologists, AKOA, ARAN, ARAS, DEA, KOE, Kokkino, NAR (New Left Current), OKDE-Spartakos, SEK, Syriza, Synaspismos

Italy : Sinistra Critica

Netherlands : SAP

Norway : Socialist Unity

Poland : Polish Labour Party

Portugal : Left Bloc

Spanish state : Espacio Alternativo

Sweden : Socialist Party

Switzerland : Gauche anticapitaliste, Mouvement pour le socialisme, Solidarités,

Turkey : ODP

United States : ISO

*********

The international situation facing the European left

Laurent Menghini

We must carry out seriously, together or separately, reflexions and debates which bring up to date the perspective of socialism, of a socialism for the 21st century.

The LCR has taken the initiative of this European conference, for two reasons:

- The first is to underline the relevance of the lessons of “May ‘68” for the class struggles of today.

- But the second is to renew or establish the dialogue between most of the representative anti-capitalist and revolutionary organizations in Europe, to have an exchange on the analysis of the situation and also to see what it is possible to do and to discuss together in a more serious way… Well, of course, this is only one small meeting, a small beginning, but I believe that it should be taken seriously. In any case we take it seriously.

Because this is the first time, for a long time, that so many revolutionary and anti-capitalists organizations are meeting together to discuss… Everyone and every organization has their own history, their tradition, their policies but all of us, with our own criteria, analyze the situation in terms of a new epoch or historical period – the period of capitalist globalisation, the collapse of Stalinism and of the former USSR, and of new evolutions of the workers’ movement. All of us feel the need to discuss or re-discuss a series of key questions on the political, strategic and programmatic levels, and to do so on an international level. This report is only an introduction to the discussion. The ideas that we submit to the discussion come, of course, from the French experience, and are therefore partial, but we have to start somewhere. But we are convinced that in order to go forward we need a discussion which goes beyond national frameworks. We need each other.
The main tendencies of the international situation…

*Because this conference is taking place at a particular moment, a moment of a crisis of capitalism, a global crisis.

We are no longer in a situation where the ideologists of capitalism presented their system to us as the end of History.

* What dominates, in the present conjuncture, is the crisis: a financial crisis, a banking crisis, a credit crisis, a crisis of over-accumulation of capital. The banks have lost billions of dollars or Euros, which they are making the workers and the peoples pay for. Admittedly, the capitalist world has experienced for several years high rates of growth. It has reconquered new spaces with the restoration of capitalism in the former Soviet Union, the countries of Eastern Europe and China. Globalisation is experiencing a new configuration, new relationships of forces, with the growth of China and India, but the contradictions are there: the US economy is going into recession. And that threatens Europe.

*The socio-economic effects of this capitalist crisis sharply affect the life and the work of millions of people. The tendencies towards the overexploitation of the labour force – precarious work, pushing down of wages, the lengthening of working hours, are the principal demonstrations of this, and women are among the first victims of precarious work and of this overexploitation. The attacks against the rights of immigrants, the attack on undocumented migrants, the xenophobic and racist campaigns against foreigners have become one of the central dimensions of these attacks against democratic and social rights. The food crises and the hunger riots demonstrate the destructive consequences of this capitalist system. About a dozen countries have experienced these explosions of hunger.

*The ecological crisis, with climate change directly related to greenhouse gases, pollution of all kinds, which causes catastrophes that are called natural but which are in fact the result of the unrestrained search for capitalist profit.

*The oil wars, today in Iraq, tomorrow against Iran or other countries. Aggressions against the Palestinian and Lebanese peoples. The militarization of the principal imperialist powers testifies to the way in which the ruling classes are preparing to deal with this crisis, but with two major contradictions:

- the resistance of the peoples…and American imperialism is now experiencing a new Vietnam in Iraq…

- and the asymmetry between American military power and its weakening position in the world economy.

*You may say that we are catastrophists, once again… but no, it is necessary to take the measure of the crisis, and of its global character… Even though there is no situation without an exit for capitalism, this system is in an impasse. The solutions of the system to its crisis are increasingly expensive for humanity, in terms of work, living conditions, but also quite simply of life…
The offensive of the Right and how it is evolving

*This crisis leads to a situation where inter-capitalist contradictions, but also social contradictions between the classes, are being sharpened. Since the beginning of the 1980s, the ruling classes, through governments of the Right and of the Left, have deployed an arsenal of counter-reforms, which have called into question a series of social gains, concerning social security, public services, the standard of living and working conditions. The European Union, moreover, has constituted one of the principal vectors of this reorganization against the rights of the workers and the people. Today, the requirements of international competition, for a worldwide market of the labour force which draws downwards the standard of living of the workers, are leading the ruling classes to deploy new social attacks. The latest elections in Europe, in France, in Greece, in Italy, in the United Kingdom demonstrate that the ruling classes are equipping themselves with leading groups, parties and governments which are ready for battle, a “muscular Right”, a Right that draws support from populist parties like the Northern League in Italy, a Right that is getting ready for confrontations to call into question the social gains of the workers and their organizations.
The social-liberal evolution of social democracy

*But faced with the offensive from the Right, social democracy adapted to the liberal-capitalist counter-reform. It went from reformism to reformism without reforms and now to reformism with liberal capitalist counter-reforms. Each delegation will be able to give their own examples of the application of neo-liberal measures by social-democratic governments. That corresponds to an increasing integration of the political and trade-union apparatuses of social democracy into the higher echelons of the state and the capitalist economy. The symbol of this integration is the nomination of one of the principal leaders of French social democracy to head the IMF. And on the political level, this evolution is being expressed in a process of transformation of the PS into an “American-style democratic party”, as the transformation of the Italian left has just illustrated, from the ex-PCI to the “Democratic Party”. The result of this policy, and there once again the Italian experience is a lesson for us, is this: the traditional Left, supported by Communist Refounding and the centre-left, went into the government to manage the affairs of the bourgeoisie, and the outcome is that it is the Right of Berlusconi, Fini, and Bossi that is back in power. We should note, with differences according to the countries, the support of the Communist parties for this social-liberal evolution, pointing out however the particular cases of the Greek and Portuguese CPs, which are neo-Stalinist and at the present stage anti-Socialist… Now of course, the Right and the Left are not the same thing, especially for millions of voters of the popular classes, but it is necessary to record a historical change in social democracy: a major integration into globalized capitalism. This evolution is also taking place on the trade-union level, where the trade-union leaderships of the ETUC are having to take on co-responsibility for neo-liberal policies, in particular within the framework of the EU. The evolution, over the last few years, of the Spanish Workers’ Commissions, the Italian CGIL, and now the French CGT, in the framework of the implementation of neo-liberal policies, is extremely significant.
Some indications of the social and political relationships of forces

*In such a situation, it should be recognized that there has been a degradation of the social and political relationships of forces, to the detriment of working people. The ruling classes have taken decisive steps forward in terms of capitalist reorganization. Workers’ and popular struggles are on the defensive. There is unequal development of the class struggle, depending on the countries. But the ruling classes have not been able to inflict major defeats on the proletariat. In spite of his declarations about the “British model”, and his will to copy Mrs. Thatcher and Tony Blair, Sarkozy is encountering enormous difficulties in applying his policies. There is social resistance. Lately we saw the strength of the Greek general strike. Strikes like that of the rail workers in Germany show that there is in certain sectors a real combativeness. The force of the anti-war and global justice movements in a series of country testifies to the potential that exists. In France the year 2005 saw three major crises: the success of the “no’’ in the European referendum, the explosion in the suburbs, and the massive demonstrations against precarious work and the CPE… but that did not prevent the victory of Sarkozy. There is in this situation a major responsibility of the leaderships of the traditional Left, which played into the hands of the Right. We thus have a situation where in spite of social resistance, and elements of political crisis, the bourgeoisies are pursuing their offensive.
Proposals for questions to be submitted for discussion

*In this situation of historical change, of a globalized capitalism and a social-liberal evolution of the Left, we think that we need a new discussion on the main lines of an anti-capitalist policy and the prospects for building and rebuilding, not only anti-capitalist forces, but also a new workers’ movement, new social movements, for discussing policies for the trade unions and for different associations, and links between social movements and currents and political organizations, in the context of the emergence of an anti-capitalist alternative.

a) To take into account the changes in capitalism, the massive development on the international level of the proletariat - of wage-earners - , the effects of the reorganizations carried out by capital on the situation of the working class: the combination of new technologies in the framework of capitalist relations of production, the social differentiations within the proletariat, the phenomena of precarious work, the consequences of flexible work, the processes of individualization of work. How to formulate a policy which takes into account these new configurations, this “new working class”.

b) To work, reflect, analyze new questions like that of the ecological crisis and climate change, in order to define an ecosocialist policy which puts forward demands on the terrain of the environment, while at the same time attacking the hard core of the functioning of the capitalist economy, which puts the search for the maximum profit before the respect of human beings and nature.

c) That also implies bringing up to date an anti-capitalist transitional programme which links immediate demands, democratic demands, demands in defence of women’s rights, and demands for radical, revolutionary transformations of society, through the objective of achieving a new distribution of wealth by taxing capitalist profits. Such an objective implies in its turn attacking the power of the employers and making incursions into capitalist property in order to advance along the road of public and social property. We are not naive, and these objectives will require exceptional social mobilization, confrontations, clashes, ruptures with the capitalist system... In this confrontation, the aspiration towards and the need for democracy are decisive. A wide-ranging debate based on experiences of struggle, of workers’ control and self-organization is decisive from this point of view.

d) Finally, on the strategic level, it is also necessary to verify the main outlines of a policy which can be enriched by a series of very important experiences of the last period, whether it is in Europe, in Italy or Germany, or even in connection with the situation in another country, on another continent - Brazil. We think on this point that it is necessary to discuss the modalities of policies which combine unity of action of all the left forces against the employers with a policy of intransigent independence with respect to parliamentary or governmental coalitions with the centre-left or social democracy. There again the Italian example reminds us of the hard lesson, that when sectors of the Left take part in a government that manages the capitalist economy and capitalist institutions, which today means social-liberal governments, they are led to support policies that are incompatible with the defence of the interests of the working class and the most elementary social demands, they are led to demobilize the workers, to disorientate them. It is for us a question that is capital for rebuilding the workers’ movement. We have to do it in a completely independent way.

e) The forms of organizations are specific in each country, concerning organizations, currents, fronts, new parties, the organizations of the revolutionary Left, the breaks with the traditional parties. All that represents a space to the left of social democracy and the parties of the traditional Left. Everyone has their own experience and must learn from the experiences of others. We know very well that in a series of countries, history and unhappy experiments have led to the division of the anti-capitalist forces. In other countries, on the basis of mass political experiences or electoral experiences, there have been convergences and a coming together of forces. We have to continue along this road. It will be long, but while having a unitary policy with respect to the whole of the Left and the social movements, we think that there can be new opportunities to discuss, to advance along the road of an anti-capitalist alternative That is the meaning of this conference.
Elements of conclusion

Those are some questions which we submit to the discussion, but to conclude we would like to express a wish: today, this is a first meeting, these are first discussions. We must carry out seriously, together or separately, reflexions and debates which bring up to date the perspective of socialism, of a socialism for the 21st century. That will take time, but it is decisive. At the same time, we will discuss it this afternoon, we think that we all have responsibilities to try and act together in a united way on essential questions, in social and political resistance, in the fight against war, on the terrain of solidarity with immigrants, on the question of climate change. We propose to see whether we can do things together on these questions - there can be others. But we are convinced that it is necessary to try and advance along the road of unity anti-capitalist forces in Europe. Are we capable of it? That is the question.

LCR: More on June 1 anti-capitalist conference

May 68 and the Paris conference of the European anti-capitalist left

Josep María Antentas, Raul Camargo

From May 31 –June 1, 2008 an important political initiative called by France’s Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (LCR) to mark the 40th anniversary of May 1968 took place in Paris: an international meeting and a conference of political formations of the European anti-capitalist left.

Throughout May initiatives from the anti-capitalist left to mark the anniversary have taken place across Europe. The common objective has been to reclaim the inheritance of May 68 from the attacks of the reactionary right and attempts at banalisation of the events of that year, and to register the memory of May in the struggles of the present. The campaign “May 1968 – May 2008. We continue the combat” launched by Espacio Alternativo with events in different cities of the Spanish State was framed by this dynamic. Of all the initiatives called on a European scale, the LCR’s meeting stands out in its importance.

More than 2,000 people went to the Mutualité to hear a broad panel of people representing different militant generations, that of 1968 and that forged in recent combats, and from different countries: Alain Krivine and Daniel Bensaïd, both founders of the LCR and outstanding leaders in May 68, Boguslaw Zietek of the Polish Party of Labour (PPT), Myriam Martin, a member of the LCR leadership, Flavia D’ Angeli of Sinistra Critica (Italy), Francisco Louça, delegated from the Portuguese Bloco de Esquerda, a young participant in the student struggles of recent weeks in France and Olivier Besancenot, spokesperson of the LCR and its candidate in the last two presidential elections.

The objective of the meeting, as Alain Krivine indicated, was not “to have a meeting of old combatants” but of “present and future combatants”, for “exchanging generational experiences of international struggles” and discussing the possibility of another May 68 “in new conditions, in a new historical period and with new correlations of force”.

Daniel Bensaïd denounced the discourse of the right, through the likes of Sarkozy, about “eliminating” May 68 (with little success apparently since more than ¾ of the French population indicate in the surveys that they have a positive opinion of the events), and also that which tries “to sweeten” the events, reducing it only to its cultural dimension, in the style of Daniel Cohn-Bendit. For the latter, May 68 has triumphed in the cultural area and he now wants simply to forget it, as he says in the title of his book, “Forget 68”. “To reread 68 as a movement of cultural modernization has a very clear function: to depoliticize it” indicated Bensaïd.

1968 was a great social revolt where, although perhaps “not all was possible, something else was of course possible. It was possible to overthrow De Gaulle and the regime of the Fifth Republic, by the force of the general strike”. Today the lessons of 68 it can be useful for the present struggle. 1968 left “a memory and a culture of struggle” that explains the difficulties encountered in France in the application of neoliberal counter-reforms, from 1995 to the present. “After the difficult period of the 1980s, when many withdrew, we have gained the right to recommence”, said Bensaïd.

Boguslaw Zietek of the Polish Party of Labour (PPT) spoke about the situation in Poland and the emergence of some excellent recent union struggles, such as the strike at Tesco supermarkets and of the necessity to coordinate union struggles on the European scale.

Myriam Martin, from the LCR leadership, denounced the neoliberal and authoritarian policy of Sarkozy indicating the necessity “to fight against the repressive state that is developing in this country”, and to support the struggles underway, like those of undocumented immigrants, who were strongly represented in the room. “The combat is far from over”.

Flavia D’ Angeli spoke about Berlusconi’s policy and the failure of the Italian left in the last general elections. “When the left in the government does not respond to any of the popular expectations, it is the right who win” and “when the anti-capitalist left [a reference to Rifondazione] governs the capitalist system, is not the left that wins, but the system. It is necessary, therefore, to advance towards the “construction of a new anti-capitalist left, the left of the 21st century”.

Flavia d’Angeli from Sinistra Critica in Italy

Francisco Louça, delegated by the Bloco de Esquerda in Portugal, began his intervention denouncing the “intensity of the hatred of the right against the 68”, frightened before the ghost of its repetition. Louça also spoke about the policy of the Bloco in Portugal and the importance for the European left of the LCR’s proposal for the construction of a New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA) in France.

After Louça, a young participant in the French student struggles explained their dynamic and the necessity “to organize to fight against the government”.

Finally, Olivier Besancenot, spokesperson of the LCR, indicated that May 68 had been a central event in the history of the current represented by the LCR, which had not only been in synch with the rising struggles and the aspirations for change of the younger generation, but has remained faithful to this commitment. “Many abandoned the struggle. We didn’t”.

“We do not put 68 on a pedestal”, but rather see how its legacy serves us in today’s combat. Besancenot explained the NPA project of constructing a new activist-based political instrument, open to the popular sectors, and on the basis of strategic independence with respect to the Socialist Party and to the institutions. Anti-capitalism and internationalism will be two fundamental constituent elements of the new project. “Internationalism is not only an inheritance. It is our trademark. Our daily practice” indicated Bensacenot.

For that reason, “to advance in the construction of a European anti-capitalist party” is one of the objectives that the new French anti-capitalist party is going to pursue from its constitution.

Go to end of page for meeting videos

The meeting of the European anti-capitalist left

A hundred representatives of thirty organizations from sixteen European countries, among them Espacio Alternativo, participated in the international conference held in the theatre of Belle Étoile in Saint Denis, from May 31-June 1. The objective was to relaunch the dialogue between the forces of the European anti-capitalist left, to discuss jointly and to see what perspective of collaboration could be drawn up.

The meeting began with a general debate on the political situation in Europe and the strategic perspective of the anti-capitalist left, from an introductory report by François Sabado of the LCR. The report noted the situation of capitalist crisis that dominates the present world-wide conjuncture, the increase of social contradictions and the ecological crisis, the ascent in many European countries of a reactionary combative right, and the crisis of the traditional left, marked by the social-liberal mutation of social democracy and the subordination of a good part of the formation located to its left (like IU in the Spanish state or Rifondazione in Italy).

He raised the necessity of the construction of an anti-capitalist left, independent of social democracy and the institutional logic and rooted in the social resistance, and to advance in the reconstruction of a socialist perspective for the 21st century.

The debate showed the existence of important points of agreement among the forces present on the general characteristics of the international political situation and the conviction that is necessary to advance towards a greater collaboration of the anti-capitalist left on the continental scale.

Along with the general debate, three specific discussions took place on: the permanent global war and the military policy of the EU; climate change and the strategies of the anti-capitalist left; and the policy of immigration in the UE in a context marked by the ascent of racism and xenophobia. The debates in these areas showed the existence of relatively common approaches on the part of those present, all involved in the campaigns and mobilization around these subjects.

In the conference some concrete agreements were made and the forces present decided to continue looking for forms of joint collaboration in the next big European mobilizations, like the next European Social Forum in Malmö (in September of this year) or the mobilizations that will take place in Strasbourg and Kiel in spring 2009, around the sixtieth anniversary of NATO. A new meeting was agreed for 2009 to continue the dynamic initiated in Saint Denis.

The success of the conference and the large numbers attending show, beyond the interest in the French political situation and the LCR’s project for the creation of a new anti-capitalist party is attracting, the understanding on the part of a broad number of organizations of the European anti-capitalist left of the necessity to advance towards a greater international collaboration.

The advance of European integration necessitates intensified collaboration between the formations of the European anti-capitalist left. Nevertheless, until now advances in this area have been quite modest. National particularities, the strategic plurality of existing traditions in the anti-capitalist field, differences of organization model, and so on have meant that the crystallization of a European space of the anti-capitalist left has not yet been possible, beyond some very limited advances.

The Conference at Saint Denis could serve towards a relaunch of coordination of European radical formations Objectives should be concrete and realistic, without trying to go too far too quickly or leaping stages, little by little affirming an anti-capitalist pole to the left of the left which has become subordinate to social-liberalism. The meeting helped put us to all on the right path, although the way is going to be long.

Watch the speech of Alain Krivine here

http://www.dailymotion.com/group/118894/video/x5p5gl_intervention-dalain-krivine_news?from=rss}

Watch the speech of Daniel Bensaid here

http://www.dailymotion.com/group/118894/video/x5p5yt_intervention-de-dan...

Watch the speech of Flavia d’Angeli here

http://www.dailymotion.com/group/118894/video/x5p6b4_intervention-de-fla...

Alain Krivine on France's Anti-capitalist Party

Saturday, July 05, 2008

A new Anti Capitalist Party in France?

A leading member of the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (LCR) in France, Alain Krivine, spoke to Simon Assaf about moves to form a new anti-capitalist party.

The LCR has initiated the formation of a new broader party that it hopes will become a home for wide layers of people opposed to neoliberalism. The initiative grew out of rising struggle in France.

“We think that there is a new situation in France which means conditions exist to build a party bigger than the LCR,” Alain told Socialist Worker.

“As in the rest of Europe, we are confronted with a major offensive from the ruling class. In France this expressed by the neoliberal policies of the new right wing president Nicolas Sarkozy.

“Many people, especially young people, are determined to resist these attacks.

“We are witnessing a growing radicalisation in the various struggles and strikes that have erupted.”

Alain explained that unlike the struggles of the late 1990s that swept the public sector, this new militancy has spread to the private sector. The growing anger has exposed the weakness of the official left, the Socialist Party.

“The Socialist Party has not organised any real resistance to the government’s plans,” he said. “They are even complicit in some of the so-called reforms.

“Sections of the youth are disgusted by the actions of Socialist Party and want to fight.”

The failures of the Socialist Party have opened a door for the radical left. The new party has caught the popular imagination, Alain said.

“We felt we had to offer a political answer to the neoliberal offensive and try to group together anti-capitalist people in a party that has to be larger than the LCR, but which is clear about its political boundaries.

“This party has to put forward the main social demands of the working class and young people. It has to reject any participation with social democrats in any coalition government.”

Alain explained that the experience of Rifondazione Comunista in Italy shows the dangers of entering into any such alliance. Rifondazione was the major anti-capitalist party in Italy.

It played a central role in organising the social forums and mass mobilisation against the G8 in Genoa in 2001. Following the collapse of the right wing government, Rifondazione won a number of seats in the Italian parliament.

Its election success brought it into an uncomfortable alliance with the centre left that led it, among other things, to vote to support sending troops to Afghanistan.

Rifondazione was wiped out in the last election, leaving the Italian left disorientated and demoralised.

Alain said this experience has had a big impact on the left in France.

“From the beginning we have made it clear that this new party has to be against capitalism, and not to try and reform it,” he said.

One of the new party’s main advantages is the growing popularity of Olivier Besancenot – one of leaders of the LCR who stood in the presidential elections. Besancenot has articulated the growing anger at neoliberal policies.

But despite the successes, the process of moving towards a broader anti-capitalist party has also had its problems.

Alain said, “The main problem we have is that unlike the experience with Portugal’s Left Block or the Red Green Alliance in Denmark, the leaders of the other major left parties in France are opposed to the project.

“The Communist Party leadership refused to participate in forming this new party, while the other main far left organisation Lutte Ouvrière, refuse to participate in the founding committees because they say they only want to build a ‘Trotskyist-Leninist-Marxist organisation’.

“So there is no political force other than the LCR organised on a national level that has agreed to participate in the new party.”

But the desire for unity has drawn many of the supporters of other left parties into the discussions.

“We had over 1,000 people at an organising conference to discuss the new party last weekend.

“A minority were members of other left parties, but the bulk of the people were from trade unions, colleges, women’s associations and so on.

“This is very heartening because many of these people have never been a part of any political organisation. For them it’s the first time they have agreed to be part of any political party.

“This proves there is a big change taking place in France. The new party has had lots of press coverage. The leaders of the Socialist Party are now forced to answer our criticisms. We are having a good impact in public opinion polls.”

Alain added that the momentum of the new party is having an impact on the left across Europe.

“I think we will help all the anti-capitalists in Europe to try to unite. It is absolutely necessary now to fight against a capitalist Europe.”

NYT profile of LCR's Olivier Besancenot

NY Times, September 13, 2008
The Saturday Profile
Light on the Left Guides His Comrades Toward France's Mainstream
By STEVEN ERLANGER

MONTREUIL, France

HE looks like a sprite: boyish, handsome in his black Hugo Boss
T-shirt and blue jeans. He reminds some of Tintin, the eternally
young comic-book hero of so many childhood adventures.

But Olivier Besancenot, 34, is the extremely adept leader of the hard
French left, a beacon for disaffected young members of the Socialist
Party and the remnants of the once-powerful Communists. Having
already run twice for the French presidency, and as an articulate
presence on news and talk shows, Mr. Besancenot has higher
favorability ratings in some polls than established politicians like
Ségolène Royal, the Socialist Party presidential candidate who lost
last year to the conservative Nicolas Sarkozy.

In the 2007 presidential election, Mr. Besancenot won 4.1 percent of
the vote with the slogan, "Our lives are worth more than their
profits." But in the year since, as the Socialist Party has squabbled
over its leadership and Mr. Sarkozy has picked off a few Socialist
figures for his own cabinet, the young radical has become almost
mainstream — serious surveys show that more than 60 percent of the
French regard him favorably.

In a poll last month by the firm CSA, 49 percent of respondents said
Mr. Besancenot was currently Mr. Sarkozy's leading opponent, behind
the Socialist mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë (54 percent), but
ahead of other Socialists like Martine Aubry (36 percent) and Ms.
Royal (32 percent).

Mr. Besancenot is a postman, a member of the working class, who
delivers the mail part time in the wealthy Parisian suburb of
Neuilly-sur-Seine.

But he is also the leader of the Communist Revolutionary League, and
in a long interview here, in party offices above a printing factory
in this racially mixed city just east of Paris — where cheap clothing
stores abut shops selling North African and Middle Eastern spices and
take-out food — he describes himself without blushing as a revolutionary.

But given the travesties of the past, from the bureaucratic savagery
of Soviet Communism to the chaos of Mao, he said, "revolution needs
to be reinvented, for no revolutionary experiment has ever
succeeded." They have only been betrayed, either crushed by an armed
elite or destroyed by "bureaucratic counter-revolution," he said,
adding, "We are trying to strike that balance of taking power without
being taken by power."

CAPITALISM is in a deep crisis, he said, "losing the leeway to buy
social peace" in the massive credit crunch that began with subprime
mortgages and has not finished. "This time it's not on the
periphery," he said, but it "touches the heart of the system" and so
has a domino effect, he believes. "This is a major turn in the
evolution of the world economy."

The credit crisis is pointing up further contradictions, Mr.
Besancenot said. "We are heading straight for catastrophe from a
social standpoint, the human standpoint, from war and the
environment. For us, today, to be environmentalists means to
understand that this model of socio-economic development is out of
breath, and if we don't change we will destroy our own planet."

He is media savvy and understands that the name of his party,
affiliated with the Trotskyist Fourth International, is wrong for the
modern world, having a stink of dead ideology and the last bloody
century. "We asked ourselves about finding a name based on what
unifies everyone," he said.

So he is trying to gather other small, left-wing parties into a new
grouping: the New Anti-Capitalist Party, which is intended to provide
an umbrella voting list for those unhappy with the impact of
capitalism and globalization on the poor, the environment, the third
and fourth worlds, and on the rights of women and homosexuals. The
new party intends to run in the elections for the European Parliament
next June.

"We aren't soldier-monks," he said. "We are the exploited, oppressed,
the young and the salaried, who don't whine but want to be respected
— and for that, at some point, we lift our heads through engagement."

Mr. Besancenot speaks quickly and fluently, dotting his answers with
references to the philosophical canon of Marxism and post-Marxism,
but he has a sense of humor, too, especially about revolutionary
purity. Asked about the way human fallibility has ruined previous
utopias, he said that serious change must come from below, not from a
dictatorship of the proletariat, and that he believed in the
protective guarantees of legal rights, decentralization of authority,
local responsibilities and multiparty democracy.

The goal, he said, is "to find a political process that permits a
revolutionary process to be controlled by its base — especially to
not trust each other's promises."

"If we arrived tomorrow, saying that this time we have the guarantee
that it won't be messed up, we should definitely not be believed,
even if we were sincere — which we would be, by the way."

Mr. Besancenot was born in Levallois-Perret, near Neuilly. His father
was a teacher and his mother a school psychologist. But he is
sensitive about his upbringing. Teased about being a son of the
academic bourgeoisie, he bristled, making it clear that his father
taught in a primary school in a Communist neighborhood, and that his
parents were salaried employees with "a working-class background."
Then he softened. "It would be no problem, by the way," if they had
been bourgeois, he said, then added: "My parents exploited no one."

He was politicized by youthful violence and racism. "We had a friend,
a buddy in the neighborhood who was attacked by someone who shot at
him," he said. The neighborhood mobilized, and "we young people went
to be militant for SOS Racisme," a group fighting prejudice. He
joined the Revolutionary Communist Youth at 14.

He studied history at the University of Paris X-Nanterre, where the
1968 student uprising began, and then earned a master's degree in
contemporary history.

His goal, he said, is to try to define a new model for society that
somehow avoids a permanent ruling elite. "Until now we've had two
types of societies, we've had the bureaucratic societies in the East
and we've had capitalist societies, and in both cases it's a minority
of individuals that decide for the majority," he insisted. "We are
for a model where the majority decides for itself."

And how to motivate individuals, the great failure of socialism? "The
only answer to motivate the individual in a different economic
process would be democracy" in which there are "inalienable
liberties," he said, where the communitarian spirit cannot be
violated either by the wealthy or the apparatchiks.

He said he admires Che Guevara, because of his "concentration on the
individual" and not the collective. "We can find stimuli that aren't
simply material but are also moral in the construction of another
society," Mr. Besancenot said. "For Che, communism wasn't just a
phenomenon of production, it was first a phenomenon of conscience."

MR. Besancenot is regularly mocked by more traditional French figures
for his earnestness and naïveté, dividing the left to the benefit of
the right. He is "the dream of Sarkozy who wishes him to be to the
left what Le Pen is to the right," said Pierre Moscovici, a candidate
for the Socialist leadership, referring to Jean-Marie Le Pen, the
leader of the far-right National Front.

As for this "mysterious anti-capitalist party," he continued,
"there's no concern to look for solutions, no consideration of the
world as it is."

The contempt is returned. Mr. Besancenot calls the Socialists dupes
of the system. "What they think is their biggest strength is their
biggest weakness, the practice of power," he said, "implementing
right-wing ideas" and sacrificing principle for minor reforms.

Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the Green member of the European Parliament and a
leader of the May 1968 uprising, says Mr. Besancenot remains captive
to the past. "These comrades resist capitalism but they haven't
parted with" older notions of revolution, he said. But Mr.
Cohn-Bendit may yet support the new coalition, which has been backed
by José Bové, the anti-globalization campaigner.

The French are deeply pessimistic about the future, and what may
attract many to Mr. Besancenot is his rejection of certitude. "My
generation is full of doubts," he said. "For me that's not a problem,
it's almost better to have doubts than certainties. We don't have a
social project key-in-hand. We don't have a New Jerusalem where we
can go live."

Basil Katz and Maïa de la Baume contributed reporting from Paris.

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