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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: La gauche entre en université

by JÉRÔME-ALEXANDRE NIELSBERG - Article paru dans l’Humanité-dimanche N° 124, semaine du 21 au 27 août.

The French Left goes to summer school

Translated Wednesday 3 September 2008, by Edward Lamb

During the last ten days of August, the various left-wing political parties will be holding summer sessions.
This annual occasion becomes even more significant in the devastating wake of Nicolas Sarkozy’s neo-liberal reforms.

The French Communist Party (PCF), the Socialist Party (PS), Revolutionary Communist League [1] (LCR) and the Greens [2] (Les Verts) invite their partisans to deliberate on opposing him with alternative solutions.

Seen in this week’s edition of l’Humanité-Dimanche

La Rochelle, Port-Leucate, Toulouse, Vieux-Boucau- Port d’Albret : all of their hotels are fully booked from the 21st to the 31st of August included. All four cities are, in fact, for a week and a half, hosts to the left wing parties’ respective summer sessions. A yearly meeting not to be missed; one made even more important, this year, precisely because our country’s left-wing is not doing very well at all: the Socialist Party remains divided on the political orientation (socialist, democratic socialist, or even simply democratic) that it should incarnate for the next few years; the Communist Party, whose popularity has diminished, is seeking to re-establish itself electorally; the Green party is continually split between accepting neo-liberalism. working for anti-development (a small footprint on the planet), or for socially responsible ecology; while the Revolutionary Communist League (LCR) announces their intended dismantling in favour of a New Anti-capitalistic Party.

All of which takes place in the midst of the flamboyant Mr. Sarkozy’s neo-liberal reforms being implemented in the same hectic cadence while the workers’ struggles remain "unnoticed" by the government.

Moreover, although each party (PS, LCR, Verts and PCF) has called on its activists to participate in the various workshops, round table conferences, theoretical debates and seminars, all of them hope to take advantage of the occasion offered by these last few days of vacation in order to prepare their return to the political arena. The proof of this can be seen in the impressive themes undertaken by their respective sessions, which cover point by point the urgent and forthcoming national and international political issues. Thus, for example, Europe was a favourite theme of discussion for each one of them, with the French Presidency lingering in the background and the coming European elections in perspective.

The Socialists put it at the centre of their gathering in La Rochelle, according equal importance to the « riposte to be made to Sarkozy’s political action ». At the Communist Party’s meeting, it was made the subject of the last day’s debates, their being the only ones to bring up the question of « dynamics for building a socially progressive and democratic Europe » in the wake of the Irish « no » against the Lisbon Treaty. The Greens put the question at the beginning of their deliberations, it was at the heart of their initial plenary assembly while the LCR will approach the issue of imagining a future for the European Union in the course of its series of debates on the « political situation in France and in Europe ».

As mentioned above, these summer sessions are also an opportunity for taking stock of the transformations, evolutions and metamorphoses to which each of the organisations has committed itself since the 2007 elections. The PCF has devoted the entire day of August 30th to doing just that.

Workshops, round table conferences and seminars should follow, such as: discussion over the political project, how to construe the terms « neoliberal » and « left », the elaboration of changes within the Party. The LCR movement has devoted its last day at Port-Leucate to the New Anti-capitalistic Party (NPA) the creation of which (for 2009) had been officially announced, last June, by party spokesman, Olivier Besancenot. It has therefore scheduled a comprehensive discussion on what should be the purpose, the role and the agenda of a New Anti-capitalistic Party. Firstly, considering the proposals of the NPA and what form might be given to a programme or a manifesto; then, on its possible means of edifying and imposing such a political structure in the current context. As for the Greens, they will deal with the question of their renovation during two forums held by their executive body, on the morning of the 22nd and the afternoon of the 23rd.

Only the Socialist Party seems to have dismissed any group reflexion on its future development in the framework of its summer session, undoubtedly seeking to avoid poisoning the ambience of those few days with a potential battle of egos. All the more so, given that Jean-Christophe Cambadélis took care to specify, in his announcement of the meeting at La Rochelle to the media, that « all of the Socialist’s political leaders would attend and would take part in the debates, taking advantage of the occasion for retaliation, clarification and unification ». Beyond personal conflicts and, as is the case for every single one of the said organizations, the fact remains that throughout these few days of intense discussions a good number of ideological power struggles will be brought out, which will not lack having certain consequences on their respective conventions, at the end of the year – because, as Jean-Luc Mélenchon suggests on his blog « at a convention you are ultimately confronted with fundamentals ».

Translator’s notes :

[1The French section of the reunified Fourth International…

[2The Greens (French: Les Verts) is the (nick)name of various green (ecologist) political parties in French-speaking countries…

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