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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.]
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.
Below are a number of statements (or news reports of statements) by European left parties on the crisis in Syria. More will be posted (or expanded) as they come to hand.They include Die Linke (Germany), Syriza (Greece), the Party of the European Left and the New Anti-Capitalist Party (France).
Die Linke: German government's support for war coalition is insanity
August 27, 2013 -- Die Linke -- "A military strike of the US threatens to escalate the conflict in Syria to become an international war“, warns Christine Buchholz, member of the executive board of the party Die Linke.
The attack of the US army using cruise missiles threatens to cause a wildfire, further aggravating the suffering of the Syrian population. With the assault the US government does not help the people in Syria but will solely demonstrate its military supremacy in the region.
Federal Foreign Minister Westerwelle said yesterday that Germany "in close coordination with its allies" will be among those „that consider consequences to be appropriate. "This boils down to nothing else but support of impending military assaults. The support of an evolving US-led war coalition is insanity".
How should socialists organise? Paul Le Blanc, Gilbert Achcar discuss Leninism, left unity, revolutionary parties
July 31, 2013 -- SwpTvUK -- The following panel discussion -- involving Paul Le Blanc, a speaker from the SWP and Gilbert Achcar -- took place at Marxism 2013, organised by the British Socialist Workers Party. Questions addressed included Lenism today, "left reformism", the left unity process underway in Britain today and the crisis in the SWP. It is followed by a vigorous discussion from the floor.
For more by Paul Le Blanc click HERE. For Le Blanc's thoughts on Marxism 2013, click HERE. For more on the left unity process in Britain, click HERE. For more on Leninism, click HERE. For more on the crisis in the UK SWP, click HERE.
Front de Gauche (France) leader Jean-Luc Melenchon with SYRIZA (Greece) leader Alexis Tspiras.
For more on the developments on Europe's far left, click HERE (see also the pink tabs and the end of the article)
By Francois Sabado
May 20, 2013 -- International Viewpoint -- The situation of the "lefts" in Europe cannot be understood without starting from the crisis, its multiple dimensions and its effects on the social and political field. Hitting head-on all the organisations and parties linked to the history of the workers’ movement, precipitating ruptures, it obliges political forces to recompose around new axes.
By Richard Seymour
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I think the title of this talk, "The rise of a new left", is clearly to some extent projection of a desired outcome; of course, there are elements of a new left visible. Not just the indignados and occupiers, but also the radical left challengers: Syriza, the Portugese Left Bloc, Die Linke, the Scandinavian red-green alliances, Front de gauche in France, maybe some elements of the Pirate Parties ...
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.
[English at http://links.org.au/node/3301]
Por Dick Nichols
12/4/2013 -- Sinpermiso.info -- En el tercer congreso nacional del Partido de Izquierda (Parti de Gauche) celebrado en Burdeos del 22 al 24 de marzo, el nuevo grupo socialista, el cual está cobrando fuerza a una velocidad sorprendente, pareció por fin alcanzar la madurez como partido.
Con tan sólo cuatro años de vida, el Partido de Izquierda surgió en el momento en que su principal figura, Jean-Luc Melenchon, quien fuera antiguo líder de las corrientes de izquierdas
del Partido Socialista (PS), abandonara éste después de que las propuestas del PS contra la
austeridad neoliberal lograran no más de un 19% de apoyo en el congreso del 2008.
Down with austerity!
By Dick Nichols
April 12, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- At the third national congress of the Left Party (Parti de Gauche) held in Bordeaux from March 22 to 24, France’s newest and fastest-growing socialist group seemed to come of age.
Only four years old, the Left Party was born after its leading figure, Jean-Luc Melenchon, a long-time leader of left currents in the Socialist Party (PS), abandoned it after the tendencies in the PS opposing neoliberal austerity mustered only 19% support at its 2008 congress.
By Roger Annis
March 30, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Two leading voices against France’s military intervention in Mali, Paul Martial and Bertold du Ryon, have written a comprehensive dossier on the subject. It is published in the weekly print and web bulletin of the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) in France, Tout est à nous, dated March 14, 2013 (#186).
The dossier is a valuable overview of the situation in Mali and stands out for its unyielding opposition to the intervention. That’s no small feat in a France that is awash in national patriotism and anti-Islamic prejudice over the issue.
By Dick Nichols
February 15, 2013 – Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The four years since the founding of France’s New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) have been a roller coaster rise and fall for the organisation, which was created in 2009 on the initiative of the Revolutionary Communist League (LCR), the former French section of the Trotskyist Fourth International.
The party’s rapid early growth seemed to confirm the premise on which it was founded — tens of thousands of France's workers and young people wanted to get active against capitalism’s crises and crimes, but were wary of existing left organisations and looking for a new sort of political home.
French troops in Mali.
By Roger Annis
February 6, 2013 – A Socialist in Canada, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- ”France is in Mali for the long haul.” That’s the headline of the France daily Le Monde on February 4. The newspaper’s front page, as well as pages 2 and 3, were devoted to a discussion over "what next" for France and the world in Mali.
The views of the newspaper’s editors are explained in a front page editorial. (The editorial translated into English is below.) Describing in the politest of terms France’s historic role in Africa as a slave and colonial power, and summarising the political situation in Mali and west Africa as a “struggle against narco-Islamists”, the newspaper argues for a long-term, Haiti-style tutelage of Mali.
"The military attack in Mali has been condemned by groups on the political left in France, including the Nouveau parti anticapitaliste (New Anti-Capitalist Party [its newspaper pictured above]) and the Gauche anticapitaliste (Anti-Capitalist Left). The latter is a tendency within the Front de gauche (Left Front). Shockingly, the Left Front leadership group has come out in favour of the intervention."
By Roger Annis
January 18, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly -- France, the former slave power of west Africa, has poured into Mali with a vengeance in a military attack launched on January 11. French warplanes are bombing towns and cities across the vast swath of northern Mali, a territory measuring some one thousand kilometres from south to north and east to west. French soldiers in armoured columns have launched a ground offensive, beginning with towns in the south of the northern territory, some 300 kilometres north and east of the Malian capital of Bamako.
A French armoured convoy entered Mali several days ago from neighbouring Ivory Coast, another former French colony. French troops spearheaded the overthrow of that country’s government in 2011.
Greece in the eye of the storm (the Greek left, SYRIZA and the limits of the concept of ‘left reformism’)
By Paul Kellogg
November 18, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, originally published as six notes at PolEcon.net. Republished here with Paul Kellogg’s permission.-- An economic crisis of enormous proportions has erupted in a first world country in the global North. The scale of the economic crisis in Greece has few modern equivalents, and is at the root of a massive social and political upheaval. Navigating that crisis poses difficult challenges for the social movements in Greece, and has important lessons for activists around the world. The article that follows is an attempt to provide information that can assist those, unfamiliar with the situation in Greece, in navigating this situation.
By Murray Smith
August 2, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Left Front (Front de Gauche) emerged onto the political scene at the beginning of 2009. As the Left Front to Change Europe, it was established by three organisations -- the French Communist Party (PCF), the Left Party (PG, Parti de Gauche) and the Unitary Left (GU) -- with the aim of standing in the European elections of June 2009.
A young supporter of the Front de Gauche (Left Front).
By Murray Smith
June 7, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- After long months of campaigning, the French presidential election came to a close on the evening of May 6. As predicted, the victor, and therefore seventh president of the Fifth Republic, was Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande. However, the margin of victory, at 51.6 per cent to 48.4 per cent, was narrow, and closer than any of the polls had foreseen.
So France now has a new president and a new government, presided over by long-time Hollande ally and Socialist Party stalwart Jean-Marc Ayrault and composed of members of the Socialist Party and its Green and left radical allies. Of course, this government has necessarily an interim character, since it does not have a majority in parliament. Whether it wins one or not will be decided in parliamentary elections to be held in two rounds on June 10 and 17.
By Dick Nichols
April 30, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly -- The results of April 22 first round of the presidential elections in France directed a powerful spotlight on a society polarised by economic crisis and the austerity regime of President Nicolas Sarkozy and his ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) government.
As in the 2002 presidential poll, candidates to the left of the Socialist Party (SP), including Europe Ecology-The Greens (EELV), won more than 15% of the vote, while the xenophobic National Front (FN) of Marine Le Pen registered its highest vote ever—17.9% (up 7.5% from the 2007 presidential poll).
However, unlike the 2002 contest, this far-left vote did not come at the expense of the SP (which in 2002 was beaten into third place by the FN). This time the SP’s François Hollande took first place, with 28.6% of the vote (up 2.8% from 2007).
On March 18, the 141st anniversary of the Paris Commune, organisers were expecting 20,000 to 30,000 to show up for a march and rally to “seize the Bastille” in Paris. Up to 120,000 took part.
By Dick Nichols
April 16, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly -- There’s no election quite like a French presidential contest. It is a six-month-long race in which nearly every political stable usually has a runner and where the handicapping system is less rigged against “outsiders” than in many other countries.
It puts a premium on personality: a candidate who strikes voters as fresh, sincere and “not a politician” has a chance to win more support than in other elections.
Over the years the system has allowed far-left candidates to make their mark. Blunt and passionate working-class battler Arlette Laguiller of Workers Struggle (LO) was a regular star between 1974 and 2002, when she scored 1.6 million votes (5.7%).
At the 2007 poll, the fresh face was the Revolutionary Communist League’s (LCR) Olivier Besancenot. A young postal worker, he increased the 1.2 million votes he received in 2002 to 1.5 million (4.1%). For a while, Besancenot was rated France’s most popular politician.
Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The following presentation is a slightly edited and updated version of a talk given on January 20, 2012, to the eighth national conference of the Australian Socialist Alliance, held in Sydney. The slides mentioned refer to the PowerPoint presentation above, which accompanied the talk. Dick Nichols works in the European office of the Socialist Alliance and Green Left Weekly, based in Barcelona.
* * *
By Dick Nichols
Thank you, comrades, for the invitation to speak—what a pleasure it is to see old faces, and new ones, too! The class struggle may be more advanced in Europe, but I sorely miss what we have created in the Socialist Alliance, as should become clear later in this talk.
My aim is to sketch the present phase of the class struggle in Europe, assess the gains of our side along with the challenges it faces, and hopefully help us all think about what this might mean for Socialist Alliance and the socialist movement in Australia. But the opinions expressed are my own, of course, not the Socialist Alliance’s: so feel free to disagree vigorously!