[Marxism] French CP trades the hammer-and-sickle for the five-pointed star of the European Left alliance

Daniel Koechlin d.koechlin at wanadoo.fr
Mon Feb 11 16:49:08 MST 2013

In last year's presidential election, the French CP got between 10% and 
20% of the vote. This came after years of scrapping around 1% to 5% of 
the vote.

For the first time since the mid-1980s, the Parti de Gauche (Left Party) 
got a larger share than that of the Trotskite NPA (ex-LCR).

Their choice of a new logo reflects this aspiration to become the 
established left-wing alternative to the ruling Socialist Party and the 
belief that they must broaden their appeal to include "young voters who 
do not understand traditional communist symbols, jargon and slogans but 
who nevertheless feel deeply disenfranchised".

And yet many in France feel this strategy might backfire as the 
yellow-on-red hammer-and-sickle is the sort of traditional Socialist 
emblem that really symbolizes radicalism precisely because it is 
associated with a distant, half-forgotten age in which "the system" and  
"the boss" were somehow afraid of it.

So part of the appeal of the LEft PArty was and is the fact that they 
will wave the hammer-and-sickle alongside the French tricolour (another 
very popular flag for the CP) in rallies. The move to a "smiley star" 
will not garner any more votes, even though the CP's argument is that 
this will severe the connection with what history textbooks and movies 
have depicted as a symbol of totalitarianism.

Actually, this move might be, and is, interpreted as a sign of defeat on 
the part of the CP. Despite their electoral breakthough, they do not 
fell confident enough to enter the next elections under their natural 
colours, but are casting about for allies, presumably disgruntled 
members of the Green PArty (which is now a mere appendage of the 
Socialist Party) and smaller, Libertarian-influenced groups (who are 
actullay closer to the NPA). The biggest prize would be a seizable chunk 
of the Socialist PArty iteslf, the so-called left-wing of the SP. But 
this will never happen. Over the past hundred years of French politics, 
Social Democrats have allowed Communists to join them to form electoral 
alliances, not the other way round.

What will happen in the near future is a merging of Trostkist parties 
with their arch-rival the CP. A united NPA-PArti de Gauche-Left Green 
alliance would be precipitated by the dangers of the far-right combined 
with increased pressure from "austerity politics". But such a united 
left-wing party would be composed of carrier politicians, which really 
could not do anything but apply a bland Keynesian program wrapped up in 
eco-friendly buzz words.

"All power to the soviets !"

How easily this key demand can be turned into "giving workers a say" (a 
carefully managed say) and presenting this as a sign of socialism. 
So-called workers' councils were established thoughout every country 
with a MArxist-Leninist ideology but this was just for photo-ops, to 
deliver propaganda, to make sure managers weren't skimming off profits, 
to better control the rabble, but never, never to let workers decide 
what to produce, in what quantities, how long they would work, what 
wages they would get. After all, representative democracy is all about 
having representatives represent people, it thrives on the fact that 
only a few can have privileged access to the decision centres, it 
thrives on social inequality and lack of education, it extends as far as 
dis-empowerment extends.

Nowadays, what the most extreme Keynesians have in mind is a very 
watered-down version of the Scandinavian Rehn-Meidner plan (a certain 
part of the income of each worker being channelled by law into a special 
fund and used to buy up shares in their company so that workers, through 
their unions, might became majority stock-holders in the Swedish 
companies and the State might re-invest some of the funds into training 
and strategic investment). The Rehn-Meidner plan was the most Marxist 
aspect of the Scandinavian model, but it didn't work, as forcing profits 
into extra wages and investment into new technologies tended to unnerve 
Capitalist corporations and force down their profitability. The 
"winner-winner model" so dear to Scandinavian Social Democracy, in which 
both Capitalists and workers profit from increased investment, never 
worked out. In view of this historic example, Scandinavian Social 
Democracy being the most radical offshoot of Keynesianism, it is quite 
clear that once the share of profits that go to workers goes over a 
certain threshold, Capitalism is no longer profitable and must be saved 
by abruptly reversing policies, privatizing plants, turning state 
investment funds into private banks, cutting wages, laying off workers, 
slashing the top tax rates, etc.

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