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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: L’humanité des débats: Le communisme a-t-il de l’avenir ?

by By Jean de Leyzieu

Does Communism have a Future?

Translated by Patrick Bolland

Translated Monday 3 April 2006, by Patrick Bolland

Setting the facts straight: As the French Communist Party holds its 33rd Congress (in Paris in late March 2006), and since we want to look towards the future and not dwell upon the past, with its numerous dark shadows, let’s start with an absurd idea at the dawn of this 21st century, dominated by its numerous technological, televisual and mediatic control mechanisms...

This could be summed up as follows: Communism is dead and buried since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Capitalism on a global scale has succeeded in imposing its own order. Although highly simplistic, the fate of two of the most famous “isms” in human history has now been settled, once and for all.

Except that the “death certificate” of those who dreamed and still dream of “the end of history” has not been signed by everybody. There are several reason for this.

Capitalism, more “liberal” and mercantile than ever, remains the source of the most unacceptable inequalities and distress that could be imagined.

In an opinion survey carried out by the Paris-based CSA polling organization, published in l’Humanité on 23 March, nearly 50% of the French population said they wanted either to transform capitalism or radically reform it.

If all past civilizations ended up disappearing, our own capitalist, “liberal” civilization appears today to be in the throes of a major crisis.

With globalization, aren’t we witnessing the generalization and spread of its ills, witnessing the rise of radical new mutations of potentials for systemic transformations?

So do we have to remain blind in the face of the spread of the wage economy to every country of the globe, accompanied inevitably by increased insecurity and massive, chronic unemployment and competition between wage-earners on a planetary scale?

Doesn’t communism - despite the crimes committed by state regimes acting in its name - remain an ideal of social justice as boundless as it is philosophically alive and well?

In his “Spectres of Marx” (translated by Peggy Kamuf, Routledge, 1994), Jacques Derrida already warned against the programmed (and therefore dogmatic) self-destruction of marxism and communism. The philosopher quite justly recalled what we can read from the first page of the 1847 Manifesto: “A spectre is haunting Europe - the spectre of communism”. An old story, therefore, which keeps coming back, keeps people thinking - some in fear, others with hope.

Yet, in reflecting on the very title of this article, another title suggests itself to our capricious and intentionally provocative mind, in the form of a possible question: Might not communism be the future of capitalism? - or is this just wishful thinking?

Published in L’Humanité on 25 March 2006

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