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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 ]


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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]


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