Reflections on the counter-revolution in France

by Frank, with apologies to Edmund Burke for the paraphrase


One of the more significant features of the recent French Presidential election was the widespread predictability of the outcome. It was taken for granted that the establishment, cardboard cut-out, hologram candidate – Macron – representing the alt-centre, would win the final electoral contest against Madame Le Pen by a comfortable margin; and so it turned out, Macron winning by 66% to Le Pen’s 34% of votes cast. Okay, there was a widespread abstention amounting to 25% of the registered electorate, a 10% spoliation of ballot papers, and, in addition, tactical voting against Le Pen in the second-round run-off.
This left about 25% of the French electorate, those overwhelmingly petit-bourgeois and miscellaneous air-heads, who voted for Marcon rather than against Le Pen, but who had scant ideas of what Macron’s programme for France would entail. This wasn’t surprising, however, since he was simply a continuity candidate who offered nothing remotely significant in policy terms other than more of the same.
So, a candidate who has not been positively endorsed by 75% of the French electorate, and who seemingly has nothing to offer other than the continuation of wrecking ball neo-liberalism gets to be President of France for the next 5 years.
Upon consideration, it seems, the moral of the story is that the hard left, and hard right will continue to be shut out of power by the hard centre-right, centre-left, liberal coalition. This prompts a possibility of something quite heretical: to wit, is it possible for someone like Le Pen to form a working coalition, or at least an understanding, with someone like Melenchon?
After all the economic and foreign policies seem virtually identical. But understandably, perhaps, the left has historically been loath to consider such a course of action. Moreover, we have heard all the fascist anti-capitalist rhetoric before: The economic programme of the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers’ Party – Nazis) particularly that emanating from the leftist elements in the SA (stormtroopers) and luminaries such as Ernst Rohm, the Strasser Brothers and Gottfried Feder, the party’s leading economist, were clear enough. As early as 1919 Anton Drexler opined that:

Toiling Germany is the victim of greedy western power’’ quoted by Daniel Guerin in Fascism and Big Business)

This was an obvious allusion to the Treaty of Versailles, a conclusion which was shared by J.M.Keynes in The Economic Consequences of the Peace’’ (1919). Drexler goes on

The German workers must realize that never before enslaved as they are today by foreign capitalism … the struggle for liberation which the proletariat is carrying on as the most oppressed section of an oppressed nation is a civil war that we are no longer waging against ourselves but against the world bourgeoisie. (op.cit).

This was a view seconded by Gregor Strasser:

German industry and economy is in the hands of international finance capital; it means an end of all possibility of social liberation; it means the end of all dreams of a socialist Germany … We young Germans of the war generation, we ardent socialists, are waging a fight against capitalism and imperialism incarnated in the Versailles treaty.’’ (op.cit)

All very left-wing and stirring stuff. But the advertised National Socialist revolution never arrived. It was ruthlessly crushed by Hitler’s Pretorian Guard – the SS – during the Night of the Long Knives July 1934. Hitler was only stringing along the SA for his own purposes of winning the battle of ideas and the battle of the Streets. When he had achieved this goal, the SA became expendable.
The left would, therefore, be prudent not to recognise the radical opportunism of fascism.
Warning heeded.
But in what sense is Le Pen and the FN fascistic? Particulary, since the term has become increasingly redundant. In policy terms, she seems to be a leading part of the anti-systemic revolt against globalization. All well and good if this is taken at face value. Moreover, there seems little imperialist element in her programme, unlike, Macron, the globalist neo-con who many of the left saw fit to vote for to stop Le Pen. Le Pen’s FN is not an aggressive movement directed at other nations and peoples living beyond its borders but essentially a defensive movement fighting for the right of any nation for self-determination which is under attack by the globalist elites who control political-economic unions like the EU. Talking of Nazis, it should be borne in mind that the neo-cons – the military wing of the globalization project – have nurtured and protected their own brand of bona fide fascism in Ukraine and the Baltics.

The rise of neo-nationalism in the globalization era, as a movement for national sovereignty, has nothing to with the rise of what we may call ‘Euro-fascism’ … in the Baltics and Ukraine. The unifying element of these euro-fascists is that they implicitly or explicitly accept the New World Order (WTO) of neoliberal globalization. If not in their official ideology then at least in their practice. This is the case for instance of Ukrainian Euro-fascists (Svoboda, Right Sector Patriots of the Ukraine and the Azov Regiment) who were massacring people in the Maidan and in Odessa under the flag of the EU, sometimes juxtaposed to Swastikas! And were fully backed and funded (still are) by the west, i.e, the EUSA.’’ The New World Order in Action – Takis Fotopoulos)

The Azov Battalion. Note the yellow flags with the wartime German Waffen SS ‘Wolfsangel’ insigniaIn front of Stepan Bandera Statue


Please note flags of the Azov Battalion, centre, NATO left, and Nazi, right.


However much of the Left seems to have missed these political nuances and still imagine that they are living in the era of the Popular Front of the 1930s. This was cogently pointed out by Aidan Obrien in Counterpunch:

‘’Most western progressives however are stuck in the 1930s. They see Hitler everywhere. They’re still fighting the Spanish Civil War! Their advice – the advice of Noam Chomsky in America and Yanis Varoufakis in Europe – is to always follow the example of the 1930s and form something like a united front against fascism. In today’s elections that means joining up with the liberals to keep out the extremists.
But who are the extremists? Who are today’s psychopathic killers and psychopathic slave-drivers? Since 2002 it has been the advocates of liberalism. The fascists don’t even come close. The forces of “individual freedom” have given us the on-going holocaust in the Middle East. And the champions of the “free market” have more respect for Guantanamo Bay prisoners than they do for the international working class.
And who are the racists? Right before our eyes we are seeing one genocide and seeing the preparation for two or three more. The Arabs – this instant – are being burnt alive. And the Koreans, Russians and Chinese are next in line. And the Africans and Latin Americans? No one cares anymore about those sub-humans! The fascists are not responsible for this “divide, kill, starve and rule” global agenda. On the contrary it is the lovable liberals who are masterminding this – the final solution to the White Man’s Burden.’’

All very true. The point that must also be made was that both German and Italian Nazism/Fascism were both expansionist, imperialist doctrines which took war and conquest as a given policy. Hitler’s ‘Lebensraum’ and military expansion to the east was openly declared in Mein Kampf, and Mussolini’s military (mis)adventures in both East Africa and the Balkans were a confirmation of the genuine fascism of both dictators. To repeat, however, Le Pen has publicly stated that she wishes to withdraw from NATO, which sounds very Gaullist, compared to the continued and militant presence in France of NATO and its globalist backed geopolitical expansionist policies in eastern Europe. So, who is the imperialist warmonger, Macron and the neo-cons, or Le Pen and her neo-Gaullism? Rhetorical question really.
What would seem to be the great stumbling block to any rapprochement between left and right against the mutual class enemy, which might be formal or informal, is the knotty question of immigration. Large scale immigration into Europe has been a function of two factors.

  1. The immigration from eastern Europe to western Europe which has been a function of Eastern European integration into the EU (and often into NATO).
  2. The forced migration from the war zones in the middle-east and north Africa into southern Europe as the landing stage.

In terms of migration from Eastern to Western Europe there has taken place population declines in every Eastern European country with the exception of Czech Republic, Slovakia and Russia (although Russia is a special case). This is due in part to the economic collapse of countries such as Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania that have given rise to large scale migration, but also due to a declining birth-rate, and increasing death rates, which of course is related to the economic situation in these states.
The population of Lithuania has fallen by 12% since 2006, Latvia also by 12%, Ukraine by 9% (although this was due to migration to Poland and refugees seeking safety in Russia) Romania 7%, Hungary 8.5%, Bulgaria 6%, Poland 1%. As a result, there has been a wave of economic migrants from the old Soviet sphere of influence into the west. This was one of the principal outcomes of the removal of national borders and free movement of labour under, along with free movement of capital and commodities enshrined in the EU Constitution. Between 1990 and 2003 an average of about 60,000 migrants came to the UK each year; between 2004 and 2012 the figure rose to 170,000 the 2011 census put the number of UK residents from Poland alone at 650,000.
Secondly there was the unscheduled mass movement of non-European refugees from a vast conflict area stretching from Nigeria and Mali, through the middle-east to Afghanistan (MENA). This of course has been the result of the ‘war on terror’ carried out by the US and its euro vassals. which has wrecked country after country in the MENA.
The first migration wave was not accidental; it was formulated and enabled by globalist elites under the banner of free-movement; free-movement of labour, capital and commodities. This of course will have the intended effect of a downward harmonisation on wages, working conditions, corporation tax, welfare spending, privatisation and deregulation. Sovereign nations will be disempowered, and global multinationals already thus enabled, will be even further empowered by trade treaties such as TTIP and/or Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA).
The second wave of unauthorised migration from MENA and complemented the first, only under banner of the Refugee crisis.
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that the sticky finger prints of George – Mr Colour Revolution – Soros, have been all over this wave of humanity. According to Associated Press:

Soros to invest $500 million to Help Refugees and Migrants’’ ABC News, 20/09/2016.

This is a dual crisis engineered by the globalists in Brussels and the neo-cons in Washington its object being to destabilise Europe and colonize the MENA.
As Le Pen commented:

Globalization is a barbarity; it is the country which should limit its abuses and regulate it (globalization). Today the world is in the hands of multinational corporations, and large international finance … immigration weighs down on wages whilst the minimum wage is now becoming the maximum wage.’’

Unfortunately, the centre-left no longer uses this sort of rhetoric – or indeed practise – and instead covertly, and sometimes even openly, supports the globalist agenda, with occasional reservations of course. What is usually trotted out is the well-worn ‘there is no alternative’ (TINA) argument which is assumed to be unanswerable. Change the EU from the inside! Don’t overthrow the Bourbons, reform them! This in fact is the response of the collaborationist.

No wonder most members of the old working class have abandoned their ‘’natural’ leaders (Labour and Green parties) and even their own trade union leaders (apart from a few honourable exceptions) … even when their immediate motive is the fight against immigration, indirectly their fight is against globalization, as they realize that it is the opening of all markets, including labour markets … which is the direct cause of their unemployment or low-wage employment.’’ (Fotopoulos – Ibid.)

We live in enigmatic times: the left has moved right and the right has moved left. Strange alliances seem to be forming, new pathways emerging. The real left must reconfigure its theories and practice to oppose the New World Order – it is imperative. In the words of Lenin and before him Chernyshevsky – ‘What Is To Be Done?’’


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BigB
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BigB

Another excellent article, more excellent comments. TINA: it’s all I’ve ever heard. From Thatcher, to Blair, to Cameron – the same old funereal dirge – TINA. The political choice we have been offered is either TINA or BAU (Business-As-Usual.) It’s axiomatic that we need a new paradigm: one to overhaul the overarching principle rationale of self-maximising choice – i.e. greed is good; more greed is better – until such time as I can upload my consciousness into a trans-human android that can eat money and breathe petrol. And wash in toxic waste. On Mars. Of course the ruling class view… Read more »

Arrby
Reader

Globalists (which means what exactly?) pushing the free movement of labor? This is news to me. My knowledge of free trade agreements, as a Canadian, is that free movement of labor was both off the table and needed by bosses to profit from the agreements. If labor can go where the wages are best, bosses lose their leverage. Harmonization of standards downward (cost cutting that benefits companies) is certainly part of the ft agreements I have watched. But free movement of labor?

Arrby
Reader

Le Pen wants power. Therefore she and her Party are being cautious, not honest. She would have to deal with the French (and US) section of the Deep State were she to win power. War will be on the table until those players are off the board. All these players are playing ‘riches for the strongest’. They want to win. To win, fascists (who are ANY who would cut out the people and leave only powerful, special, capitalist interests and their political allies, in charge, in fact if not in rhetoric) will lie and deceive. Part of that involves speaking… Read more »

Trond Andresen
Reader

This is a solution (presented as a powerpoint) that could be implemented in the EU and France, and Le Pen is closest to seeing it. Macron, no way.
http://folk.ntnu.no/tronda/econ/keynes-bancor-euro.pdf
(My background: I teach control systems, but research monetary macroeconomics.)

Norman Pilon
Reader

Your proposal is not a solution to anything. Production for profit remains the highest economic imperative and labor remains commodified. People continue to be exploited, and the system must>/b> stagnate from the standpoint of ordinary people because: a) profits depend on the purchasing power of the working class; b) the purchasing power of the working class is the sum of all remuneration to the working class; and c) the sum of all remuneration to the working class is a “cost” of production and, therefore, can never tally up to a sum of “purchasing power” sufficient to generate anything like a… Read more »

Norman Pilon
Reader

“What Is To Be Done?” Learn the lesson! Elections, except as an object lesson about how change can not be effected under the rule of the rich, are a waste of time. There is no left or right among those who are invested in the system. It’s all of a piece. Capital is fascism. Capital is nihilism. Capital is the enemy of mankind, the antithesis of life. Capital cannot exist without people who work for a wage, and to have people to work for a wage means an expropriated majority. That’s the lesson. It’s simple. Straightforward. Uncomplicated. Any preoccupation with… Read more »

chrisb
Reader
chrisb

In the absence of elections, the government is chosen by the people who have the guns. In the nuclear age, the mass of the British people will never again be armed to fight a war against another country and will therefore remain unarmed. How exactly then do you propose to overthrow capitalism? Ah, yes, in your incomprehensible final paragraph perhaps inspired by capitalist brewers or distillers, you state that you don’t actually expect (or perhaps even wish?) to overthrow capitalism. You merely wish ‘To fail better …’ I suspect that you won’t be one of those failing gloriously and paying… Read more »

Norman Pilon
Reader

Chrisb, Thank you for your reply. I notice that you do not take issue with the gist of what I stated, namely, what I think must happen if the situation in which we collectively find ourselves is to be in some way salvaged. The only objection you raise is against the likelihood that the overwhelming majority can do anything at all to save itself. For you, it’s all a foregone conclusion, and we should therefore all just roll over and die. You behave like the good little servant of your betters that you are, eh? Exactly as your masters intend… Read more »

BigB
Reader
BigB

@chrisb: To coin an old phrase: Capitalism will eat itself. The world will transition violently to some form of post-Capitalist paradigm – probably in the next 30-70 years. How will that future look – I don’t know – no one does. Trust me though, those who managed the global economy in the past – have a crystal clear picture of how they want it to look – and a well developed transition plan. They fully intend to manage the future too. We, the sheeple, are supposed to do what? Flick through the growing social unrest on our newsfeeds looking for… Read more »

elenits
Reader

Excellent article. Meanwhile Varoufakis is being positioned to be Greece’s “Emmanuel” [Messiah]. Just one week after Macron’s first electoral round when his successful outcome was clear, it was announced on the DIEM25 website that Varoufakis and his ‘movement’ – like En Marche! not a party – were returning to Greece from “Europe” (wherever that is -). DIEM25 judges the time ripe to bring ‘hope’ to Greeks by providing an alternative to the existing parties at the next election. This is well timed because elections are being delayed here to prevent the international embarrassment of voter turnout of c 10% and… Read more »

Paul Stelt
Reader

Nothing is as it seems.

bill
Reader
bill

outstanding insightful analysis asking those devastating questions the French Left have avoided

bevin
Reader
bevin

Agreed. And not just the French left but the left and leftish liberals everywhere.

bevin
Reader
bevin

Incredible as it might seem, I was just ‘banned’ by Craig Murray’s blog for posting a link to this analysis and noting that those who had argued that LePen was no worse than Macron had a reasonable case. Much of the ‘liberal’ left is so invested in fighting wars that ended more than seventy years ago-the sort of wars that carry no risk now- that it has neither time not energy to fight today’s enemies. Something very similar might be said of the ‘right’ too which is obsessed by the urgent necessity of defeating the threat Lenin poses, to the… Read more »

Afriend
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Afriend
Arrby
Reader

That’s awful. Murray is disappointing in some ways. And if he’s censoring like this, that’s serious. I noted in his links a link to Juan Cole. What is the matter with the guy? I read his plea for voters to vote for Macron as well. It may be understandable – if you think imperfect humans are their own saviours and you have no choice – but I have never liked that pragmatic approach. Chomsky is there as well. (I’m not a Chomsky basher however.) I imagine most folks here feel the same way (pragmatic over principled when it comes to… Read more »

mog
Reader

I hope that ‘ban’ is lifted or expired.

elenits
Reader

“Hitler”, “Lenin”…you outlined these PR memes very well. It should be noted that the only countries that have collectively seen through this propaganda are the ex-Warsaw Pact countries that Washington was so quick to bring into EU and NATO, breaking George Herbert Bush’s verbal promise to Gorbachev to not advance NATO one inch to the East. The ex-USSR space knows that the real choice goes back 100 years to Stalin’s “communism one country at a time” vs Trotsky’s internationalist “permanent revolution”, i.e. between nation and international chaos / war. They also understand that ‘revolution’ means externally manufactured and funded civil… Read more »