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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Créons des Fronts de gauche thématiques pour le changement

by Janine Guespin and Jacques Michelet

Create Thematic Left Fronts in Order to Bring Change

Translated Friday 22 June 2012, by Henry Crapo and reviewed by Isabelle Métral

Janine Guespin, Emeritus Professor at the University of Rouen and Jacques Michelet, on the board of directors of Espace Marx, city counsellor and expert CHSCT [1] give their plan for the future development of the Front de gauche.

The dynamic nature of the Front de gauche (FdG) is surely the major political event in the dynamics of change these recent months. The hard task before us is to make sure that it lasts, that it increases in amplitude in the aftermath of the present elections. For this to happen, we must understand the mechanisms, those responsible for acceleration and those for slowing down. A certain set of factors is both cause (by rendering possible this dynamics) and consequence (this dynamics has in turn considerably augmented the force of those mechanisms): the increased awareness of the crimes of finance capitalism, and of the Europe of Sarkozy-Merkel, the pertinence of the project of the Front de gauche, with its global vision of what is the human factor, its social project, and its will to transform the foundations of society, the inadequacy of other propositions, camouflaged behind propaganda drawn from the dominant ideology, including that voiced by the Socialist Party.

The visibility and credibility of the Front de gauche are determinant, but if they remain "proposals" for solutions addressed to spectator-electors they will not provide a transforming dynamics. The active participation of citizens is necessary. The capacity for new reflection and of citizen action, confidence, mutual and reciprocal esteem that comes with such action, form the motor for energy for change.

The visibility of the dynamics of the Front de gauche, during the presidential campaign, accelerated with the rhythm of increased participation in meetings, each meeting lending new visibility, augmenting intentions to vote, as reflected in the polls, all this contributing to the success of subsequent meetings. The unity made concrete by the Front de gauche is a determining element for confidence and for new militant engagements. The fact that this Front is not a party encouraged a new involvement by citizens. Of course the charism of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, his popularity, were part of what initiated this "priming of the pump". This series of concentric circles of action lent credibility and necessity for radical change. Nevertheless, our adversaries were also able to use our advances, working notably on fears of such a mounting of fervor, which can explain the setbacks during the final days of the campaign, and the results of the presidential election.

This first phase (which can be compared with the 2005 referendum on the European Constitution) showed that a dynamics requires virtuous circles and indicators of success. But what will become of the dynamics of the Front de gauche once the electoral battles have passed? Can it be maintained, and if so, how?

If our analysis is correct, success experienced as such by the population is necessary to maintain the dynamics. It motivates and mobilizes militant action and lends credit to arguments and solutions for the crisis. Conviction on the part of militants is increased, engagement becomes a necessity, a hope of the masses. In this way we have at hand both a motor and its fuel. It is appropriate, then, to have available certain indicators of success, susceptible, outside electoral periods, of giving life to, and spreading knowledge of, amplifying, the success of the Front de gauche.

Some think in terms of membership in the Front de gauche. As far as we are concerned, we feel that any Front de gauche in the form of a traditional party would only bring to the fore the discredit of traditional politics, engendering backward movement, stagnation, even failure. The principal quality of the Front de gauche is clearly its pluralism, its credibility in getting past the hardened clivages of the past, in federating energies to combat capitalism. It is in the capacity of the people to place in reflection and in action that which is the will to radical transformation. It is a question of making it last! How?

The democratic principle (power of the people, for the people, by the people) seems to us to traverse all the tools for organization imaginable. In this context we propose a path: thematic groups in the Front de gauche. This novel form of political involvement, on terrain open previously only to associations, to unions, does not duplicate existing party formations. It is thus less likely to cause conflicts (inherent in any novelty) between prerogatives/interests of parties and the role of the Front de gauche. These FGT thematic groups bring with them a theoretical and propositional component. It is a creative force, imaginative, on condition that the activity brings forth propositions and actions (legislative, exchanges of experience, results). This will constitute a field of confrontation of experiences in the pursuit of our common objectives. They can thus bring with them visible successes, measures of success, and virtuous circles.

The FGT will become levers for the continuation and reinforcement of the dynamics of the project, on the condition that their action/reflection becomes known, and is thus relayed. What relays? Both by the local committees and by the national liaison collective. The dynamics needs to function in a virtuous circle involving all levels of the movement, which means there must be an articulation between top-down, descending flow of information (the logic of collective structure, the project) and bottom-up, ascending communications (democracy at the base). It is neither the traditional hierarchical control of political parties nor some simple self-management. Maintenance of the dynamics should permit amplification of successes, so they become indicators and amplifiers of success of the project of the Front de gauche.

In closing, note that the underlying reasoning in this analysis is based on thinking concerning complex structures, and on the principle of dialectics, in which we must above all pay attention to the interactions involved.

[1Expert on hygiene, security, and working conditions

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