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Contemporary crisis and workers control



This chapter is taken from An Alternative Labour History: Worker Control and Workplace Democracy, edited by Dario Azzellini and published by Zed Books. For more of Azzellini’s writings visit his website


By Dario Azzellini


July 31, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- During the first decade of the current century factory occupations and production under workers’ control seemed to be limited mainly to South America, with a few exceptions in Asia. It was beyond the imagination of most workers and scholars in industrialized countries that workers would or could occupy their companies and run them on their own. Nevertheless, the crisis that started in 2008 put workers’ control back on the agenda in the northern hemisphere. Occupations of workplaces and production under control of workers sprang up in the United States, Western Europe and Egypt. This chapter describes some of these struggles and their common characteristics and differences.

France: Nice and the invisible enemy (plus New Anti-Capitalist Party statement)



By Herve Do Alto, translated by Federico Fuentes


July 21, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- And that was how the horror came to my doorstep. To tell you the truth, like many people who live in the province – a somewhat disparaging term used to refer to the rest of France that exists outside of Paris and its surrounds – I thought terrorist attacks were mainly a concern for those in the capital. On July 14, this certainty was blown apart by the sad and harsh reality: 84 people of various nationality and beliefs, among them dozens of children, died due to the actions of a lunatic in the Promenade des Anglais, the “Malecon” of the city of Nice, in the south-east of France, only a few kilometres from Italy.


When France moves, all of Europe shakes



Masses of mainly young people continue to occupy the Place de la République each evening as part of the Nuit Debout (Up All Night) movement


June 15, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Socialist Worker -- Massive strikes and protests are rocking France, with the threat of greater shocks to come as a hated labor law "counterreform" comes to the French Senate for discussion.


The rise of Marxism in France



French Workers' Party (POF) poster that reads "Workers of the World Unite".


By Doug Enaa Greene


To the memory of my great grandparents, radicals in their way, Helen and Frank Last.


May 11, 2016 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – In the late nineteenth century, despite the ascendancy of Marxist-led socialist parties across Europe, it was not inevitable that Marxism would become the hegemonic trend on the French left. France possessed a rich and vibrant revolutionary history from 1789 to the Paris Commune that produced many vibrant movements, figures and ideologies, who all contended for allegiance of the working class.

UPDATED: France: Nuit Debout’s call to action; Reflections on 'Nuit Debout'



Vive la révolution: demonstrators gather in Place de la République, Paris, for a nocturnal sit-in on April 2


Resistance, citizens assemblies and the rise of a French indignes movement

April 17, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Throughout the month of March 2016, French students and workers met on the streets to protest a proposed labor law reform and the prolonging of the state of siege, neither of which President Francois Hollande was able to get through parliament as a set of Constitutional revisions.


Here in this video the main points in the progress of their resistance are documented.


Jean-Luc Mélenchon on the politics of a Plan B for Europe


March 10, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Intervention by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, candidate for the Left Front in the 2012 French presidential elections, in the Internationalist Summit for a Plan B, held in Paris on January 23-24. Mélenchon has recently formed the “France in Revolt” (France Insoumise) movement, for which he aims to be candidate in the 2017 presidential elections.


Stephen F. Cohen on Ukraine: Meeting shows 'Kiev, not Moscow, blocking peace deal'

Click for more on the political situation in Ukraine.

August 26, 2015 -- New Cold, posted by Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Stephen F. Cohen, contributing editor to The Nation, was interviewed on the the John Batchelor Show, WABC radio in New York City. They discuss the news of a ceasefire agreement in eastern Ukraine for a cessation of hostilities beginning September 1, 2015, and the recent meeting in Berlin on August 24 of Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, France's President François Hollande and Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko.

Yanis Varoufakis: 'Our Athens Spring'

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – This speech was delivered on August 23, 2015, by former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, at the Festival of the Rose, at Frangy-en-Bresse, in the French department of Saône-et-Loire. The festival is organised by the local organisation of the French Socialist Party, which is associated with former French industry minister Arnaud Montebourg. Montebourg was sacked from this post in August 2014 by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

* * *

Let me tell you why I am here with words I have borrowed from a famous old manifesto. I am here because:

A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of democracy. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: The state-sponsored bankers and the Eurogroup, the Troika and Dr Schäuble, Spain’s heirs of Franco’s political legacy and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) of Germany's Berlin leadership, Baltic governments that subjected their populations to terrible, unnecessary recession and Greece’s resurgent oligarchy.

Knife at its throat, Greece yields to Troika brutality

By Dick Nichols, Barcelona

July 22, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In a summing-up speech to the Greek parliament in the earlier hours of July 16, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said of the punitive July 12 funding deal accepted by Greece after negotiations with Eurozone leaders:

I would like to put this question very honestly to each and every one of you who is going to vote today: "The blackmail [of the Eurozone institutions] that you mentioned—was it real or fictional?"

If you think it was fictional, then I am open to hearing different alternatives, and together we can work on them.

France: Jean-Luc Mélenchon's assessment of March 22 and 29 departmental elections

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 240p 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).

[For more on French politics, click HERE.]

April 7, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Front de Gauche (Left Front) leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon's assessment of the March 22 and 29, 2015, departmental elections in France.

France: 'Charlie Hebdo' would have run the headline: ‘Satraps who you have escaped’

This drawing (representing Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan) was tweeted by television presenter Sedef Kabas on January 11.

By Thomas Cantaloube and Mathilde Mathieu

January 14, 2015 – French original published in Mediapart, January 11; English translation first posted Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- To govern is to choose. By accepting the participation of dictators, jailers of opponents and enemies of the freedom of the press from all corners of the planet at the January 11 demonstration in memory of the victims of the Paris [Charlie Hebdo] attacks, the François Hollande-Manuel Valls government has once more demonstrated its cowardice.

(Updated Jan. 13) Socialists condemn 'Charlie Hebdo' massacre, warn of Islamophobia in its wake

Vigil in Sydney on January 8, 2015, for the victims of the Charlie Hebdo Paris massacre.

Statement by Australian Socialist Alliance national co-conveners on the Paris massacre

Sydney, January 9, 2015 -- The Socialist Alliance Australia condemns the massacre of journalists, cartoonists and others at and around the offices of the Paris-based publication Charlie Hebdo. However offensive anyone may have found some of the cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo, this act of brutal violence is not justified.

Socialist Alliance condemns the conservative religious fundamentalist sects which promote and carry out such acts of violence. These sects are deadly enemies of democracy, justice and progress and their violent and sectarian actions weaken the real struggles for a just, equitable, democratic and sustainable future.

The Socialist Alliance also warns against and condemns any attempts by Western politicians, governments, corporate media and others to use this latest incident to whip up racist Islamophobia which is already virulent in the rich countries of the world.

This latest act of brutality does not justify the “clash of civilisations” hysteria that is widely used by racists to justify ongoing and new imperial wars, anti-refugee and anti-immigrant policies and laws, and anti-democratic “security” laws.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s 'The Era of the People': 'Citizens’ revolution' and ecosocialist vision

[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

By Liam Flenady

The will to act: The life and thought of Louis-Auguste Blanqui

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”.[1] 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.

France: Jean-Luc Mélenchon on the Movement for the 6th Republic

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.

* * *

France: Front de Gauche debates ‘uniting the people’ vs ‘uniting the left’

"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.

France: Jean-Luc Melenchon's closing speech to Parti de Gauche's Summer University

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 ) 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.

Barry Sheppard on Daniel Bensaid's and Ernie Tate's memoirs of the 'tumultuous' 1960s

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.

France: 100 years after Jean Jaures' murder, his name still inspires

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.

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