[Debate] After Horizontalism, the Rise of the Old Left?
critical.montages at gmail.com
Wed Apr 11 17:37:50 BST 2012
What is called "horizontalism" -- crowds of protesters, assembled ad
hoc -- is not newer but older than the Old Left. Crowds have to be as
old as cities, and protests as old as class societies.
On Tue, Apr 10, 2012 at 4:42 PM, peter waterman
<peterwaterman1936 at gmail.com> wrote:
> I am not sure what your introduction means. It comes over somewhat
> convoluted. Quite apart from your...ummm...comparison?...contrast?...with
> the uprisings in the Arab World - because they have not so far led to
> something like the Russian Revolution?
> Even should Melenchon and Company get more than the 15% predicted in the
> previous Melenchon item, I would consider this more an indication of
> despair, anger and disorientation from those who so vote than anything
> constructive of an alternative to a 21st Century capitalism.
> The 'horizontal ruckus'(es) are at least something novel and suggest new
> ways of being politically-socially-culturally effective against a 21st
> century capitalism - as well as understanding the logic of computerised
> communication and experimenting with its emancipatory possibilities.
> Dismissing them reminds me of British Communist leader, Jack Woddis, around
> 1970, dismissing Che, Fanon and others for their erroneous 'new theories of
> revolution'. And thereby defending his old one.
> And: how about offering us something more than sneering soundbites. I am
> sure you could produce, say, a 1-5 page exposition of your theoretical
> position, analysis and strategy if you tried.
> On Tue, Apr 10, 2012 at 9:21 PM, Yoshie Furuhashi
> <critical.montages at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Here and there in the European Union, after "horizontalist" ruckuses,
>> the rise of the Old Left: KKE/PAME, George Galloway, and the Left
>> Front? That has to be the last outcome that those still trapped in
>> the Cold War structure of feeling wanna see. But, even for them,
>> isn't it slightly better than what happened in the "Arab world": after
>> "horizontalist" ruckuses, the rise of neoliberal Islamists?
>> April 9, 2012
>> In French Vote, Sound and Fury From the Left
>> By MAÏA de la BAUME and STEVEN ERLANGER
>> PARIS — They sang “The Internationale,” carried red flags and shouted
>> “Resistance!” They booed whenever the word “rich” was pronounced, and
>> they applauded when their leader, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, called the far
>> right “professional racists” and the Socialist candidate “a pedal-boat
>> The crowd of more than 20,000 who gathered in Lille, close to the
>> Belgian border, feel no nostalgia for the Soviet Union. They call
>> themselves militants of the Front de Gauche (the Left Front), a
>> coalition of the far left built on the remnants of France’s
>> once-powerful Communist Party. Disappointed by the mainstream
>> candidates and enthralled by the fierce and witty language of Mr.
>> Mélenchon, they have been joined by many of the angry and jobless,
>> young and old, who say they feel unprotected in the face of the
>> economic crisis. And Mr. Mélenchon is now running third in many polls
>> for the French presidential elections this month.
>> With the first round of voting two weeks away, the far left is running
>> just ahead of the far right of the National Front and its candidate,
>> Marine Le Pen. Together, those on both wings of the French spectrum,
>> who share strong criticism of globalization and the European Union,
>> could take 30 percent or more of the vote in a race with 10
>> candidates, which would be more than either President Nicolas Sarkozy
>> or the Socialist candidate, François Hollande, the two front-runners.
>> And how the voters on the so-called fringe choose to cast their
>> ballots in the second-round runoff on May 6 is likely to decide the
>> Mr. Mélenchon, 60, a former teacher, Trotskyist and minister in a
>> Socialist government, resplendent in his trademark red necktie, has
>> been the surprise of this election so far, and he has been gathering
>> some of the largest and most passionate crowds to his rallies, in
>> Lille, Paris and most recently, Toulouse.
>> He speaks of “civil insurrection,” raising the minimum wage 20 percent
>> to $2,200 a month, confiscating all income above $470,000 a year and
>> banning profitable companies from laying off any workers. “When there
>> is no more liberty, civil insurrection becomes a sacred duty of the
>> Republic,” he often declaims.
>> “If the crisis were stronger here, as it is in Spain,” said Stéphane
>> Courtois, a historian and expert on the Communists and the far left,
>> “Mr. Mélenchon would now have 25 percent of the votes.”
>> Mr. Mélenchon created the Parti de Gauche in 2008, then the Front de
>> Gauche as a catchall of former Communists, Trotskyists,
>> anti-capitalists, environmentalists and Socialist dissidents like
>> himself, who feel the Socialist Party and Mr. Hollande are too
>> centrist, consensual, establishmentarian and “soft.” Communists make
>> up more than 80 percent of the members, but Mr. Mélenchon’s appeal has
>> spread far beyond the card carriers to touch an angry, disappointed
>> nerve in France that has also fed the National Front. He has been
>> leaching support from Mr. Hollande, who has been running a timid
>> campaign, and threatens to pull the Socialist candidate into second
>> place in the first round, behind the unpopular Mr. Sarkozy.
>> Mr. Mélenchon, a lover of philosophy and of the novels of William
>> Faulkner, is a stirring, amusing speaker, capturing the attention of
>> his audience through his erudition and his coruscating humor aimed at
>> bosses and bankers. He has branded himself “the sound and the fury,”
>> after Faulkner’s most famous novel, and plays on the edge of demagogy,
>> his critics say, with no regard to how much his proposals could cost.
>> “Once again, you will have to be the crater from which the new flame
>> of revolution erupts,” he told his supporters in Toulouse, “lighting
>> the fire of contagion that will become the common cause of the peoples
>> of Europe.”
>> “If Europe is a volcano,” he shouts, “France is the crater of all
>> European revolutions!”
>> He is a descendant of the 1968 student-worker riots in France who has
>> moved through the Communist and Socialist parties before creating his
>> own. He was the minister of vocational education from 2000 to 2002
>> under a Socialist prime minister, Lionel Jospin. In 2005, he strongly
>> opposed a failed referendum on a European constitution, and three
>> years later quit the Socialist Party and his senate seat. He remains a
>> member of the European Parliament.
>> He once confessed that he was bored in Brussels and dreamed of
>> creating a French equivalent of the German Die Linke, a hard-left
>> party rooted in the old East German Communist party. He has defended
>> the Chinese repression over Tibet, admires Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez and
>> has called the United States “the first problem of the world,”
>> criticizing what he considers to be America’s malign military
>> Mr. Mélenchon hopes to turn his current support — and his vow to urge
>> his supporters to vote for Mr. Hollande in the second round — into
>> cabinet seats and policy changes. But he may also be undermining Mr.
>> Hollande through his scathing criticism, while pushing some centrist
>> voters into supporting Mr. Sarkozy, who is already warning that Mr.
>> Hollande will be “a hostage to Mélenchon.”
>> Mr. Mélenchon, many agree, aided by the economic crisis, has
>> resurrected France’s once-powerful radical left, embracing the
>> Communist Party’s revolutionary rhetoric and values, denouncing the
>> rich, wage inequality, liberal economics and growing poverty. For many
>> experts, his popularity also reflects the strong influence of the
>> revolutionary myth over French politics.
>> “In schools, universities and media, there is always a positive
>> reference to communism,” said Mr. Courtois, the historian.
>> “He has become our spokesman,” said Morgane Fovelle, 22, a student and
>> member of the Mouvement Jeunes Communistes de France, the Young
>> Communists Movement of France. “He is at ease, outspoken and doesn’t
>> hide anything.”
>> For young militants and communists, references to the Soviet Union,
>> the crimes of Stalin and the cold war seem obsolete. “Most of our
>> militants haven’t experienced the Stalin period; this historical
>> burden is behind us,” said Pierre Laurent, the Communist Party’s
>> general-secretary. “Our historical reference is the Popular Front, May
>> ’68, and 1980, when the Communist Party was strong.”
>> Since the end of the cold war, the Communist Party has experienced a
>> steady decline, wining only 3.37 percent of the votes in the 2002
>> presidential election, and 1.93 percent in 2007. The party has also
>> had severe money troubles, renting out parts of its imposing, famous
>> Paris headquarters, designed by Oscar Niemeyer.
>> But the party remains influential locally, with some 100,000 members
>> serving as mayors, deputies, senators and local councilors. And the
>> “Fête de L’Humanité,” a celebration sponsored by the Communist
>> newspaper L’Humanité, now attracts around 600,000 people a year. Mr.
>> Laurent, the party leader, said happily, “The color red is back in
>> fashion.” The party’s revival began with an “anti-liberal awakening”
>> in the referendum vote of 2005, a trend accelerated since 2008 by the
>> economic crisis, he said. Every year since, he said, about 6,000
>> people, half under 35, have joined the party.
>> “There is a momentum, a desire for change,” said Jean-Jacques
>> Candelier, the Communist mayor of Bruille-lez-Marchiennes, a tiny city
>> in northern France and a traditional bastion of the party. “For the
>> past 15 years, I’ve been wondering: When are people going to wake up?”
>> For Mr. Mélenchon, the awakening is now. “The Front de Gauche is in
>> the process of becoming the people’s front,” he said in Lille. “Keep
>> it in your mind for the rest of your life.”
>> Yoshie Furuhashi
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