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[The people] are supposed to exercise power through parliamentary assemblies. But the financial oligarchy which rule our present situation have taken upon themselves the right to veto their decisions. This is why the system doesn’t fear the left, which it has been able to control … But it has a clear-headed fear of the people. Since it is the people who directly and physically contend with them for power with a spontaneous program that is the negation of the established order. -- Jean-Luc Mélenchon
For more on Jean-Luc Mélenchon, click HERE.
By Liam Flenady
Doug Enaa Greene presented a talk on the life and thought of Louis-Auguste Blanqui to the Center for Marxist Education in February 2014.
By Doug Enaa Greene
Dedicated to my father
October 24, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- “I am accused of having said to thirty million French people, proletarians like me, that they had the right to live”. These words are the opening remarks of then 27-year-old revolutionary, Louis-Auguste Blanqui's defence speech when he was tried for treason by the French state in 1832. Blanqui's words were nothing less than a declaration of war upon the rule of the bourgeoisie on behalf of a mercilessly exploited proletariat.
The first of a three-part video (other parts below) features the address of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, former spokesperson for the French Left Party and initiator of the Movement for a Sixth Republic, at the 2014 year's Humanity Fair, which is hosted every year by the daily newspaper L'Humanité, of the French Communist Party.
[Note: To improve the resolution of the subtitles, press play, then click on the small "cog" in the right-hand bottom corner and change quality to 240p or higher. You may need to restart the video from the beginning. It is best watched in full-screen view (click on the square on the far right-hand bottom corner).]
Mélenchon discusses how to build a movement against austerity that goes beyond the traditional left, an important issue in a country where the racist National Front is leading in the polls. Also appearing is Hamma Mammami, leader of the Communist Party of Tunisian Workers and the candidate of the Popular Front in 2014's presidential election. At the end there is a short interview with Jérôme Kerviel, a "rogue trader" who cost the Société Générale bank €4.9 billion, but who maintains that his superiors knew about and condoned his activities. Mélenchon and the Parti de Gauche (Left party) have been active in building solidarity with Kerviel.
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"We want to federate the people" -- Front de Gauche leader Jean-Luc Melenchon.
By Liam Flenady, Brussels
September 14, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly -- About 200 activists from France’s Front de Gauche (Left Front) gathered in Paris on September 6 to discuss the group’s future. The front has been in limbo over the past few months after disagreements about strategy led to a weak performance in the European and local council elections in May.
The meeting took place at a time of controversy in French politics. The once social-democratic Socialist Party (PS) President Fancois Hollande had sacked the cabinet and appointed a new one — the second time since the start of the year — and the far-right National Front (FN) topped the presidential opinion polls for the first time.
On top of this, Jean-Luc Melenchon, the leader of the Parti de Gauche (Left Party) that is one of main groups in the Left Front, stood down as Left Front co-president. Melenchon announced he would soon launch a new Movement for a Sixth Republic.
This political instability is an outgrowth of a deeper economic malaise. Since Hollande’s election in 2012, the economy has stood on shaky ground. The economy has stagnated for the first two quarters of the year.
September 13, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In August, the Parti De Gauche (Left Party) held it's annual "Summer University" in Grenoble, France. On August 22, 2014, the party's leader Jean-Luc Melenchon held an impromptu press conference (subtitled at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wE4oo... ) and at the end of the program of meetings, round-tables and presentations summed up the highlights of the four-day event, describing strategic changes at the party and its program for the next year.
Paris, May-June 1968.
An Impatient Life, a Political Memoir
By Daniel Bensaid
London: Verso, 2013
Revolutionary Activism in the 1950s & 60s: a Memoir: volume 2, Britain 1965-1970
By Ernest Tate
London: Resistance Books, 2014
Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal readers can read an excerpt HERE.
Read Barry Sheppard's review of Revolutionary Activism in the 1950s & 60s: volume 1 HERE.
Reviewed by Barry Sheppard
September 9, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- These books cover the impact of the worldwide youth radicalisation that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s upon two sections of the Fourth International, one in France and the other in Britain. In both countries, this was a period of tumultuous events, including the US invasion of Vietnam and the international movement that erupted against it.
By Dick Nichols, Barcelona
July 31, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly -- When you travel through France, there’s one name that appears most in public space ― on streets, schools and metro stations.
Not Jeanne d’Arc, Napoleon, or even World War II resistance leader and later president Charles de Gaulle. No, the name you can pretty safely bet you’ll find on some sign in the next sleepy village is that of Jean Jaures.
Jaures was France’s most famous socialist leader and deputy, a tenacious and passionate fighter for workers’ rights and against war, anti-Semitism, clericalism and colonialism.
Trying to explain his huge impact, the young Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky said in 1909: “As an orator he is incomparable and has met no comparison … it is not his rich technique nor his enormous, miraculous sounding voice nor the generous profusion of his gestures but the genius's naivete of his enthusiasm which brings Jaures close to the masses and makes him what he is.”
One hundred years ago, on the evening of July 31, an extreme right-wing nationalist called Villain shot Jaures dead in Montmartre’s Cafe du Croissant. Jaures, accompanied by the editorial staff of l’Humanite, the socialist daily he had founded in 1904, was having dinner before finishing the next day’s edition.
An Impatient Life: A Memoir
by Daniel Bensaïd, translated by David Fernbach, with an introduction by Tariq Ali,
Verso Books, 2014.
Review by Paul Le Blanc
May 11, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Daniel Bensaïd (1946-2010) was one of the most respected theorists to emerge from the 1960s radicals of Western Europe. Always inclined to think “outside the box”, waving aside venerable dogmas and shrugging off standard formulations, he found fresh ways, energised with the aura of unorthodoxy, to express and apply truths from the revolutionary Marxist tradition.
To improve the resolution of the subtitles, please press play, then click on the small "cog" in the right-hand bottom corner and change quality to 360p or higher. You may need to restart the video from the beginning. It is also best watched in full-screen view (click on the square on the far right-hand bottom corner).
April 25, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This in-depth interview with Left Party (Parti de Gauche) co-spokesperson Jean-Luc Mélenchon was conducted on April 13, 2014, after the March French municipal elections and the April 12 Paris anti-austerity march. It features comments on French politics after Manuel Valls becomes PM, as well as discussion of European politics and the developments in Ukraine.
April 20, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- After the first round of the French municipal elections (March 23, see here for coverage in Green Left Weekly), the media mainstream obsessed about the rise in support for the xenophobic and racist National Front (FN) of Marine Le Pen. The only other stories found worthy of comment were the collapse in support for the ruling Socialist Party (PS) of president François Hollande and the surge in the abstention rate—to a record 36.5%. (This endnote explains the French two-round voting system as applied to municipal elections.)
According to the Le Monde analysis of that vote, the PS would face losing 90 towns with more than 10,000 inhabitants at the second round (March 30). The FN had a chance of winning between ten and 15 of these.
Daniel Bensaïd: Paris '68, 'When history breathed down our necks' -- excerpt from 'An Impatient Life: A Memoir'
March 1, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Below is an excerpt from the late Daniel Bensaïd's memoir, An Impatient Life, just published by Verso. It is posted with the kind permission of Verso. Readers of Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal are urged to order a copy HERE. You can download the excerpt HERE (PDF), or read it on screen below.
* * *
January 17 leadership meeting between the PCF and the Left Party.
[For more on French politics, click HERE.]
By Dick Nichols
January 29, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly -- To the an almost audible sigh of relief from its tens of thousands of activists, the two main forces in France’s nine-party Left Front (Front de Gauche)—the Communist Party (Parti Communiste Français, PCF) and the Left Party (Parti de Gauche) of Jean-Luc Mélenchon—have called a halt to hostilities that were not only undermining its chances in France’s March municipal elections but also those of the Party of the European Left (PGE) in the May 25 European poll.
By Suzanne Weiss
December 8, 2013 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- In October 2013 I accompanied Suzanne Weiss in a trip back into the history of rural France under Nazi occupation. Suzanne’s interviews there provided a framework for the following talk given by her to Solidarity for Palestine Human Rights at the University of Western Ontario on November 20, 2013. A portion of her speech has been published by Electronic Intifada; the full text first appeared in Bullet, a publication of Socialist Project. -- John Riddell.
* * *
On December 1, 2013, 100,000 people joined a march organised by the Front de Gauche to demand a "fiscal revolution" -- tax the rich -- and to oppose a January 1, 2014, increase in the regressive indirect value-added tax.
By Dick Nichols
December 5, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The formation of a “third pillar” in the Front de Gauche (Left Front) was finalised at a November 23-24 conference in Saint-Denis of delegates from four of the Left Front’s smaller affiliates: Alternatives (Les Alternatifs), Convergence and Alternatives (Convergence et Alternatives), the Federation for a Social and Ecological Alternative (Fédération pour une Alternative Sociale et Ecologique) and the Anti-Capitalist Left (Gauche Anticapitaliste).
The 200-strong conference, which gave the name Together! (Ensemble!) to the new formation, also involved unaffiliated activists from the social movements and trade unions, all members or supporters of the Left Front.
[For more on French politics, click HERE.]
November 24, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Leader of France's Left Front (Front de Gauche) Jean-Luc Mélenchon was interviewed on November 9, 2013, about the March 2014 municipal elections, and the disputes that have erupted within the front around them. For further detail, see "France: As National Front support grows, strategy struggle erupts in Left Front".
[For more on French politics, click HERE.]
By Dick Nichols
November 6, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- October was a month of sharp shifts in French politics. On October 4, a poll in the French weekly Nouvel Observateur showed the xenophobic and racist National Front (FN) of Marine Le Pen leading voting intentions for the 2014 European elections with the support of 24% of those interviewed—up 3% in six months.
On October 13, in the second round of the by-election for the canton of Brignoles (in the Mediterranean department of Var), the FN easily defeated the mainstream conservative Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), by 53.9% to 46.1%. Until 2011 Brignoles had had a Communist Party (PCF) mayor, but in this election the main left candidate, with a PCF background and supported by the Socialist Party, could only manage 14.6% in the first round.
(Note: to improve the resolution of the subtitles in each, after pressing "play", click on the "cog" at the bottom of the video, and increase the setting for "quality" to 360p. Then restart the video.)
Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Front de Gauche leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon addressed the fete of left newspaper L´Humanité in Paris on September 15, 2013. In this six-part video (above and below) Mélenchon discusses French foreign policy in relation to Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, the colossal failures of "Chicago School" [neoliberal] economics, the attacks of the European Union, the Front de Gauche's program when elected, religion and politics, and the front's opposition to militarism.
Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Doug Enaa Greene delivered this talk to the Revolutionary Students Union at the University of Utah on May 29, 2013. To read more about Gracchus Babeuf, see Greene's essay at: http://links.org.au/node/3228.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon addresses the May 5, 2013, mobilisation in Paris. Part 2 below.
By Dick Nichols
May 11, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On May 5, the largest left protest ever against the policies of a French Socialist Party (PS) government took place in Paris. To the stirring sounds of the protest anthem “On Lâché Rien
They were demanding an end to economic austerity and for a democratic Sixth Republic that would overturn the present Fifth Republic, which is dominated by corrupt and entrenched financial and political elites. The symbol of the march was the kitchen broom, for the “clean sweep of this insufferable political atmosphere”, called for by Front de Gauche (Left Front) leader and 2012 presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
On the day tens of thousands marched with brooms or brushes in hand.
By Roger Annis
May 8, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/The Bullet -- France’s National Assembly and Senate have voted to extend the country’s military intervention in Mali. A resolution passed both houses of parliament on April 22. Not a single vote was cast in opposition.
Three days later, the United Nations Security Council approved Resolution 2100, creating a policing mission beginning July 1, 2013. The mission is called by its French acronym MINUSMA. Its projected size is 11,200 soldiers and 1440 police.