On the French Socialist Party and rebuilding the French left

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“ It is difficult to say what the PS is today. Its figures, its staff, its members are not one single entity. Part of it has gone off toward Macron and En Marche. And it is also important to be clearly aware that the reason it got 6 percent was that it embodied defeat and had no prospect of winning after the Hollande years. There was a very strong sense of disillusionment (…) The Parti socialiste is no longer the leading force on the Left, but the Left is not yet in good shape. What really interests me is how we can accomplish the challenging task of rebuilding the Left. That means a Left that concerns itself with the March for Dignity and Justice, a Left that makes feminism relevant for our own time, and a Left that can bring the popular classes back onto the political terrain ”

Elsa Faucillon, ‘The Left Under Macron’, Jacobin Magazine

 

On the strict correlation between European colonialism and imperialism and immigration

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“ In the French case, it is impossible to maintain a settler colonial regime on your own doorstep for over 100 years, with all the brutality inherent to such a project, without telling yourself certain stories by way of justification. If you can convince yourself that you are the agent of modernity and progress, while your colonial subjects are backward, superstitious and irrationally violent, then massacres, torture and repression become regrettable necessities or understandable aberrations. Then, when your subjects in north Africa and elsewhere overthrow your rule, end your empire, and then in some cases come to your country as economic migrants or refugees, you are ready to see these developments as a humiliation, an insult and a threat (…) The reality is that in Britain and France much of our patriotism has been toxified by imperial self-satisfaction, an inherited sense of superiority over others, and a refusal to climb down from this through an honest reappraisal of our history. It is here that we find the roots of the post-imperial status anxiety that characterises the rightwing Brexiteers. It is also here that we find the instinct to see Muslims as uncivilised, immigrants as an economic burden, and refugees as cockroaches or just chancers on the scrounge ”

David Wearing, ‘Immigration will remain a toxic issue until Britain faces up to his colonial past’, The Guardian

On why if Macron loses, it will be his fault, not Melenchon’s

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“ For some Macron is a most unbearable turmoil of Le Pen’s victory, for others he’s not. If Macron was a bit more tolerable for them, the first would perhaps vote for it, and if Le Pen was less frightening for them, perhaps the latter would not vote for Macron to avoid her. In short, there is no great principle, nor universal rule: every vote has a part of conviction and a part of sacrifice and doubt, and each weighs the two parts with its meter, not with that of the others. Those who do not want to vote Macron obviously ‘knows how to distinguish between Macron and Le Pen,’ like those who deny dinner because they only have a worm dish or plum covered with mold; they see the difference between worms and a plum. To attribute to any leftist who does not want to vote for Macron a whimsical infantile selfishness is just as childish, supposedly, and incapable of sensitivity to the reflections and doubts of others: and the history of the elections is always made of contexts such as this (Trump also won because many Sanders voters did not vote for Clinton, and they have widely explained the reasons, the 5 Star Movement will also win thanks to those who would not vote for Renzi, etc. […]) ”

Translated from Italian.

Luca Sofri, ‘Turarsi il nez’, Wittgenstein

On the history of French anti-immigrant sentiment exploited by the Front National

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“ There is a lot of assumption that far-right anti-immigrant sentiment is driven by this increasing prevalence of Muslim immigrants. There has been politicization of immigration and in particular attacks on Muslims, like the ban on headscarves in public schools — an absurd and racist measure passed in 2004. At the same time, mass immigration from the Arab and Muslim world, and from the French colonies, has been a permanent feature of post–World War II life. The numbers kept increasing in the decades following that war, from the Maghreb, during the 1960s and 1970s. There was a lot of racism during that time. During France’s brutal colonial war in Algeria, there was an infamous incident in 1961 when a police captain ordered the massacre of several hundred Algerian pro-independence demonstrators; the police then dumped their bodies into the Seine River ”

Jonah Birch, ‘The Centrist Cul-de-Sac’, Jacobin Magazine

On Macron’s right-leaning extreme centrism

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“ Macron is a kind of empty figure. But as an empty figure, he is a good representation of the vacuum that has emerged in French politics with the corruption of the two traditional polls. He is a very young candidate, thirty-nine (…) In the first televised presidential debate, he had some well-delivered lines, but they meant nothing. They were completely empty of any content – except when he’s talking about the neoliberal economic reforms that he wants to put forward. He has a very strong commitment to the European Union and to maintaining all the European Union’s constraints on government spending and policy ”

Sebastian Budgen & Suzi Weissman, ‘Overhauling French Politics’, Jacobin Magazine

On the French elections contradictions and confusion

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“ Besides undermining Hamon’s chances to win, the crippling efforts by prominent figures of the PS revealed the rotten core of the party apparatus. As in the case of the Democratic contest between Sanders and Clinton in the US, the attempts to obstruct an even moderately left-wing candidate like Hamon to campaign illustrated the extent to which the party does not tolerate any deviance from its new liberal, pro-business, anti-social character (…) Macron represents everything that gave rise to the FN in the first place. In this sense, in the 2nd round French voters are called to choose, as in the 2016 US presidential elections, between proto-fascism and what fuels fascism. The extreme centre and the xenophobic right feed off each other in a toxic, dangerous cycle. They are two sides of the same coin. Although barring the way to the FN in the 7th of May is the most sensible thing to do in the short term, we must have no illusions: Macron and what he represents are part of the problem as much as the FN and the far right across Europe ”

Tommaso Segantini, ‘Six considerations on the French elections’, Tommaso Segantini Blog