ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Sur les lignes de fracture de la crise
by Patrick Apel-Muller
Translated Tuesday 20 September 2011, by Bill Scobleand reviewed by
The contrast between the Socialist Party primary and the Fête de l’Humanité.
The cauldron of the economic crisis is bubbling and releasing clouds of toxic vapors that attack jobs, wages and social progress. The financial markets are convulsing, eagerly trembling at the perspective of new profits, amid chaos and a monstrous waste of stocks and bonds. The French banks which yesterday threw themselves into the assault on sovereign debts are today paying the price – the banks that wanted to grow fat on colossal amounts of interest paid out by the governments. The European leaders have already conceded so much to wealthy interest groups that it no longer even occurs to them to resist. They enforce the austerity measures demanded of them and they want to steal the power to say “no” from the people by imposing the “golden rule” and by adopting authoritarian and bureaucratic modes of governance. “Big Brother” is studying economics… The mirage of free-trade remedies is dissipating. The very nature of the system is being attacked more and more. The left is awaited at this turning point, the left that is dedicated to social demands and to a new surge of civilization to overcome the dead end of capitalism.
The Socialist Party primary, whose first stage ended on the evening of Sept. 15 with the debate among the candidates, has not been up to this challenge. The main candidates tried to outdo one another in protesting their attachment to austerity. However, this is not what left-wing voters are looking for, as the Harris Interactive poll done for l’Humanité shows. Did François Hollande sense that he was out of phase with public opinion when he did a 180-degree turn on education? First he was a true believer in the cutting of teaching jobs favored by Nicolas Sarkozy, and now he advocates creating 70,000 teaching jobs. The debate continues behind the scenes in the Socialist Party, but the primary is functioning to personalize the contest and to conceal the debate behind egotistical quarrels.
On the other hand, the Fête de l’Humanité, which opened on Sept. 15, is in phase with the questioning and the confrontations regarding deep social change. All of the currents of the left will participate in the difficult exercise of putting forward propositions. We can count on the dynamics of the Left Front (1) to ensure that nothing is excluded. Its common program, thousands of copies of which will be sold, will be analyzed and put forward by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the presidential candidate, and by the legislative candidates, and by all those who, together with the political organizations that initiated the coalition, want a real alternative. This year’s Fête de l’Humanité will debate the “communist wager” made by Pierre Laurent (2), the Arab revolutions, the death penalty, the European struggles against austerity with the “Indignant Ones” of France, Greece and Spain, industry and culture, the literary season and geopolitics. It’s a gigantic forum where the reclaiming of politics by the people is a reality. It brings to mind the words of Louis Aragon (3): “Speech was not given to Man – he took it.”
La Courneuve (4) – the site of the Fête de l’Humanité – is all this and more, a unique place where a cultural rainbow is available at a low price. The Fête de l’Humanité is also dedicated to the pleasures of the senses, the pleasures of admiring a work of art, seeing a show, enjoying a confit (5) and a Meursault (6), the pleasures of friendship and often of love. In Baudelaire’s opinion, “the revolution was made by voluptuous people.” And why not?
Unlike the first stage of the Socialist Party primary, the Fête de l’Humanité has harmonized the questioning and confrontations regarding deep social change.
(1) The Left Front is a French electoral coalition initiated for the 2009 European elections composed primarily of the French Communist Party, the Left Party and the Unitarian Left. The Workers’ Communist Party of France and other smaller political movements joined the coalition before the 2010 regional elections.
(2) Pierre Laurent is the national secretary of the French Communist Party.
(3) Louis Aragon (1897–1982), was a French poet, novelist and editor, a long-time political supporter of the Communist Party and a member of the Académie Goncourt.
(4) La Courneuve is a northeastern suburb of Paris. It is located 5.2 miles from the center of Paris.
(5) Duck confit is a culinary specialty of Gascony. It’s made with duck legs.
(6) Meursault wine is produced in Meursault in Burgundy.