Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

France’s State of Emergency and Challenges for the Radical Left

“All the way to the right,” the slogan that best defines the current policy of the French government–and more broadly of the entire political spectrum. The government has cynically made use of the November 13 Paris attacks to push its “state of emergency” to the limit, yet it is now facing the first expressions of resistance. This situation presents the far left with the challenges of building a broad, united opposition movement, as well as an independent political alternative to both the government and the reformist left.

Daniela Cobet

February 10, 2016
Facebook Twitter Share

Photo: Révolution Permanente

This is an adaptation of an article originally published in Révolution Permanente.

Restricting civil liberties, the hysteria around national “security,” criminalization of social movements, racist laws, war-mongering rhetoric–to name just a few of the tactics of “all the way to the right” politics. In just a few months, the government has deployed a considerable arsenal of reactionary measures, taking advantage of the emotions provoked by the odious attacks on November 13, 2015. The announcement of an extension of the state of emergency, as well as the racist bill to strip people of their French citizenship (ie., those found guilty of illegal association, terrorist activities or terrorism funding), or even the recent judgment condemning eight Goodyear workers to hard jail time, paint the political landscape. But the picture also includes some of the first consistent expressions of opposition.

January 30: The Beginning of a Broad Democratic Movement?

The January 30 mobilization against the state of emergency and the bill on the stripping of citizenship was a success. At the initiative of two large groups, dozens of demonstrations and rallies took place throughout France and brought together 40 thousand people. The biggest march took place in Paris, where an estimated 10 to 20 thousand protested in the pouring rain. At certain universities, general rallies took place, and students were heavily represented in the demonstrations.

Only a few days later, a new street demonstration took place on February 4 in support of eight Goodyear workers. It was expected to draw in unionized workers, among whom the prison sentence of 9 months to two years for the charged workers has aroused an important wave of solidarity. The strike call raised by the transit workers organized by the CGT RATP on February 4 is a clear example of this.

In several cities, local coalitions were set up to organize the demonstrations on January 30. They now face the question of next steps. The union federation CGT has also called for the formation of local committees in support of the workers at Goodyear. The work of uniting these committees, building them in workplaces and campuses, and gearing up for education and mobilization leading up to a new day of action–and perhaps even a day of strikes–could allow this burgeoning opposition to grow into a mass movement against the state of emergency and the criminalization of the social movements.

In the coming weeks, this is the task that the far left and the New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA) should focus on: working to build a broad coalition of political, union and community organizations to counter the government’s attack on civil liberties and social programs.

An Independent Political Alternative

At the same time, on the political plane, these last few months have demonstrated the failure of the Left Front (a center-left coalition constituted by Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Left Party, the Communist Party, and other minor groups), whose constituent groups have bent over in the face of the call for “national unity” and voted for the first extension of the state of emergency, abstained on the vote to intensify aerial strikes on Syria and Iraq, and have even participated in electoral coalitions with the Socialist Party in the second round of the regional elections.

This is the context for the proposal for “primary elections of the entire left”, recently taken up by rebellious members of the Socialist Party, which fuels the fire of the crisis in the Left Front, already very divided on the question of a new electoral campaign by Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

In the face of what even some of its members consider the failure of the Left Front, there is now a lack of a strong and vocal far left, capable of coming together with even a part of the thousands of youth and workers who are starting to build their own movements, and to pull together a political alternative independent of the bosses and the government of the reformist left. It’s also the only way to prevent a portion of our class, even a small minority, from turning toward the reactionary demagoguery of the National Front.

These are the stakes of the National Conference of the New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA), which will have to decide next March on the party’s approach to the upcoming presidential elections. It’s a choice between the latest version of the politics that led the NPA into a lasting crisis- a politics with “calls for unity” addressed to a reformist left in a political free fall, on the one hand, and on the other, that of an independent candidate that bases itself on an anti-capitalist, revolutionary program. It’s obviously on the latter basis that we would like to work together with organizations like Lutte Ouvrière, and which best corresponds to the tasks and challenges which the current situation has imposed on the New Anti-capitalist Party and on all of the far left.

Translated by Brian

Facebook Twitter Share

Daniela Cobet

Daniela is a member of the leadership of the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) and an editor of our sister site Révolution Permanente in France.

Twitter

Europe

Ursula von der Leyen and Ukraine' president Zelensky. Credit:

Ukraine’s New EU Membership Candidacy Is Mainly a Message to Putin

The candidate status granted by the EU to Ukraine does not automatically mean that it will become a member. But it sends a symbolic message to Putin that his aggression is accelerating the expansion of European imperialism to the East.

Philippe Alcoy

June 25, 2022
Members of Trotskyist organization Revolution Permanente at a protest.

Trotskyists in France Are Reconstituting a Fighting Revolutionary Left. There Are Important Lessons for the United States

The Far Left in France, which has grown complacent at best and has crossed the class line at worst, is being resuscitated with revolutionary politics thanks to the efforts of Révolution Permanente — which include launching a new organization. There are lessons for the United States in what has happened in France and in the opportunities to come.

Scott Cooper

June 23, 2022

United Kingdom: Is a Summer of Discontent on the Horizon?

Workers in the UK are bearing the brunt of the government’s response to rising inflation and slow economic growth. But they’re fighting back, with many talking about a “summer of discontent”.

Alejandra Ríos

June 22, 2022

French Election Results Point to a Political Crisis and Tremendous Instability

Everyone expected a defeat for President Macron in the second round of France’s elections for the National Assembly on June 19, but the results were far worse than any forecast. This opens a major political crisis and begins an explosive five-year term for the president.

MOST RECENT

Coalition of Leftists, Activists, and Unions Bring 20,000 Out for Abortion Rights in NYC

Organized by a coalition of socialist organizations, unions, and reproductive rights and housing groups, tens of thousands of people took their rage to the streets against the overturning of the constitutional right to an abortion.

Madeleine Freeman

June 25, 2022
A group of people at a presentation at the 2022 Labor Notes conference

Something Big Is Stirring: Report from the 2022 Labor Notes Conference:

This year’s Labor Notes conference was massive. Four thousand of the most active union activists gathered in Chicago, often pushing the discussions well to the left. We caught sight of something important — possibly something powerful — stirring inside the labor movement. Let’s help it grow.

Jason Koslowski

June 25, 2022

We Need Socialist Feminism. Join Bread & Roses

Faced with reactionary attacks from the Right and increasing economic and political crisis, we urgently need a feminism that fights for all the oppressed and exploited. We need a feminism that harnesses our power as those who make society run to fight for a better future. We need socialist feminism. Join Left Voice in building Bread & Roses today.

Left Voice

June 24, 2022

Unions, Left, and Activist Groups in New York City Organize Coalition and March in Response to the Supreme Court’s Decision to Overturn Abortion Rights

A new coalition of over 30 left groups, rank-and-file workers organizations and unions, and activists including Left Voice, Starbucks workers, teachers, socialist and housing justice organizations, and others have come together to organize a march and rally today in response to the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade and to protest the attacks on abortion rights by the State and the Right.

Left Voice

June 24, 2022