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France : What’s new for the Left ?

jeudi 18 mai 2017, par Yves


This collection of articles deals mainly with problems which have been intensely dividing the “revolutionary ” Left in France recently : some are relatively new (the growing social and political importance of a foreign-born population, the growth of Islam, the clash between identity politics and French Republicanism), some are indeed quite old : the attitude of the workers movement towards national identity, religion, French nationalist form of universalism, the bourgeois state, electoral politics, anti-Semitism and the “Jewish question,” Zionism, the nature and role of Trotskyism, political violence, etc.
These old problems have often taken new, and sometimes relatively unexpected forms, given the predominance of the “invertebrate” Radical Left which is unable to deal with them in a creative manner : either it endlessly repeats the same slogans as if we were living in the 1920s or 1930s, either it blindly follows the twists and turns of trendy academic theories (postmodernism, post-colonialism, subaltern studies, feminism, ecologism, etc.).
Some issues have been debated in the Anglo-Saxon world for decades (the relation between “race” and class, the independent organization of ethnic minorities) but have only been introduced recently in French “revolutionary” circles, through fierce debates inside the university, the intelligentsia and left-oriented media. I should underline that usually the worst of the Anglo-Saxon pseudo-radical fashions is always imported in France : therefore, British socialist feminism or the experience of League of Revolutionary Black Workers in the US are totally unknown. (I could also write the same about the Italian movement for workers autonomy of the ‘70s whose important experience and theories have been totally put aside in favour of Negri’s grossly reformist ideas.).
Most texts reproduced here have been written in English for comrades who wanted more information about the French political situation : comrades from Solidarity and The Commune (UK), Insurgent notes and Against the Current (USA), Prol-Position (Germany), Collegamenti Wobbly (Italy), Mute (UK), De Fabel van de illegaal and Doorbraak (Netherlands). Some articles were distributed to complement a short speech or were debated on a discussion list on the Net.
Most of these articles were written by me (apart from the “Q&A about Sarkozy” which synthetizes a discussion between several comrades, and Nad’s contribution in our common interview about the PIR (Parti des Indigènes de la République), and were often submitted to, and discussed with, several friends.
I would be very pleased if you could send your comments and critiques to my email

P.S. : When it was not too long and complicated, I updated the data quoted in my articles and added some underlined comments in italics. English and American comrades have edited most texts but they have not proofread a few articles. So this book certainly includes grammatical and spelling mistakes...

P.P.S. : The results of June 2017 parliamentary elections and the present political and institutional crisis in France may introduce important changes in the French Left which I am unable to comment in this book but the websites and will certainly offer new articles about the “recomposition of the Left” predicted by many specialists.

The front cover illustrations show successively a poll about national identity ; a 1968 poster about the unity between migrant and French workers ; a “no” ballot paper for the 2005 referendum about the Constitutional European Treaty ; a picture of Zyed and Bouna, two teenagers chased by the cops and whose “accidental” death provoked the 2005 “riots” ; an anti-Semitic poster in the 1940s ; a caricature of Marine Le Pen ; and a drawing about the murderous attack of Charlie Hebdo’s headquarters in 2015.

Table of contents

• Limits of anti-Zionism n° 1 (2002) 5
• Limits of anti-Zionism n° 2 (2002) 16
• The hijab and the Left (2004) 24
• 150 years of immigration (2004) 25
• The “social lift” is out of order ! (2004) 28
• State and private education 29
• The roots of secularism (2004) 30
• Old and new conceptions of secularism (2004) 32
• French Communist Party and secularism (2004) 34
• “Citoyennisme” ? Fatal attraction ! (2004) 35
• Tariq Ramadan : a phony (2004) 37
• Selma Yacoob : The Queen of Truism (2004) 38
• The hijab and the Left (2004) 41
• Rise of Muslim religion and negative political consequences for the Left (2005) 51
• The sad farce of the no “victory” (2005) 64
• “Dancing with the wolves” – the riots in France (2005) 76
• French “Banlieues” and urban guerrillas (2007) 87
– Riots and Fairy tales for Radicals 90
– Forces of repression and urban guerrillas 108
– Some hypotheses about armed struggle and guerrilla warfare 114
– The racialization of social questions leads nowhere 122
• 40 reasons why Tariq Ramadan is a reactionary bigot (2005) 127
• The Republic’s Natives, the debate about French colonialism and its consequences 143
• What do Africans, West Indians and Afro-French struggle against (and for) in France ? (2009) 154
• The “French touch” in the CEECs : lay-offs, low wages, limited freedom and high productivity (2005) 158
• Will it be a new “May ‘68” ? (2006) 165
• Bankruptcy of Trotskyism (2007) 170
• Spontaneist and pro-Situationist myths about the November riots and anti-CPE struggle (2007) 175
• Q&A about Sarkozy (2007) 178
• “Jewish question,” nature of Zionism and state of Israel 193
• Working at Orly and Roissy airports : how does racism work on a daily basis (2007) 197
• About Michele Lamont’s The Dignity of Working Men 202
• France : Social classes and “socio-professional categories” : a jigsaw puzzle 207
• French working class, migrants, racism and the building of French national ideology (2009) 210
• Two years supporting undocumented workers (2010) 227
• The problem with the burqa ban (2010) 232
• Five things Trotskyists should know about today’s young "anarchists" (2011) 236
• Trotskyists, neo-Trotskyists and dinosaurs (2012) 240
• Jurassic Park in France : the return of the French Communist Party and the Mélenchon Phenomenon 252
• Charlie Hebdo, “Muslims,” and how to defend freedom of expression (2012) 262
• Will the Far Left learn from the Toulouse murders ? (2012) 269
• Beware of the French fascist Bloc Identitaire (2013) 276
• How to identify the sources of Left anti-Semitism in order to fight it (2013) 279
• Dieudonné : symptom of a wider problem (2014) 292
• Behind the rise of the National Front (2014) 296
• The National Front and its influence among French workers (2015) 307
• Anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim racism in the European Union (2015) 329
• About the anti-colonial organization “Les Indigènes,” and their role in the Leftist and anti-racist movements in France (2016) 378
• The issues after Charlie Hebdo (2015) 438
• Comrades your law of Talion will never be mine 445
• Some questions about the meaning of Trump’s victory 450