Thursday, 28 December 2017

Year End Review 2017 - Part 7

Prediction 7 read,

“Fillon wins the French Presidency, but the Socialist Party splits, leading to a realignment. A Corbynite movement develops within it, attracting sections of the French Left to it.”

That was almost completely wrong. The amazing thing about the French Presidential Election was the series of political scandals that struck, and the fact that all of the leading candidates failed to get selected as the nominees of their respective parties. If there was any element of the prediction that was right it was the fact that the Socialist Party selected Hamon as its candidate, which reflects the kind of development of a Corbynite, radical progressive social-democratic movement in France, and the party also effectively split, with a lot of the Blairite elements jumping ship to support Macron, a possibility that has not existed for such elements in Britain. The continued weakness of the French labour movement remains the continued strength of Stalinism, even if not in the form of the Communist Party, but still in the form of the statist, national-socialist ideology that the history of Stalinism has inculcated within the labour movement, and whose manifestation in these elections was represented by Melonchon.

Melonchon was able to present as some kind of left-wing alternative, to Hamon, but actually represented no such thing, just as those who organised around NO2EU, or who advocated LEXIT in Britain posed as some kind of radical left, but who only represented a reactionary national socialism, and all of the reactionary implications it has, whilst also acting to divide the left.  It demonstrates once again that a starting point for any real progressive social-democratic alternative, let alone a socialist alternative, has to be internationalism, and the forging of a European wide labour movement, that begins to fight on an EU wide basis for solutions that meet the needs of all workers across the EU, rather than trying to provide sectional solutions for individual groups of workers either by industry or by country.

The election of Macron was simply a consequence of the French left failing to provide any such perspective. French workers were presented with a perspective of voting for Hamon as the representative of a Socialist Party still too highly tainted by the Presidency of Hollande, and his attacks on the working-class, after having posed left, before the previous election, and Melonchon, whose national socialist programme was little different to the programme of Le Pen and the Front National. Melonchon was able to draw more support because of the fake left populist nature of his programme, and the legacy of Stalinism within the French working-class, but only thereby undermined the possibility of a left candidate going through to the second round, as opposed to Macron. Whilst a large proportion of workers recognised that Macron offered no real way forward, and so abstained, it was inevitable that a large enough number of workers, and of the liberal middle class would vote for Macron, simply to stop Le Pen. But, the Blairite policies of Macron are precisely the kind of policies that have led to the rise of the nationalist right in the first place. Those policies undertaken by Hollande, were what caused support for the Socialist Party to collapse. Just as they led to the collapse in support for New Labour. Unless the Left in France reorganises within the Socialist Party to provide a credible, and fighting alternative to Macron, as he attempts to roll out his anti-working class measures, there is every chance that he will simply open the door in four years time to Le Pen, or something worse. 

The only thing that might prevent that is if the resumption of the long wave boom, and the marked pick up in European economic growth comes to Macron's rescue. A resurgent EU economy, especially at a time when Brexit nationalism is sending the UK economy into the toilet, will further undermine right-wing populism. However, that is no reason that the French Left should abrogate its duty to rebuild and reorganise, and to take its place alongside the internationalist Left across Europe, in forging a new progressive social-democratic agenda, and building an EU wide social movement fighting across borders for its implementation.

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