Gauche Anticapitaliste (France) decides to pursue the process of left unity within the Left Front (October 2013)

One hundred and twenty members of Gauche Anticapitaliste [the Anticapitalist Left (1)], a group founded in July 2012 by former members of the New Anticapitalist Party, attended a national meeting of the organisation over the weekend of 5-6 October 2013 in Saint-Denis, near Paris.

The main purpose of the meeting was to prepare the founding conference on 23-24 November of a new organisation within the Left Front bringing together five groups (Gauche Anticapitaliste, Les Alternatifs, the Fédération pour une Alternative Sociale et Ecologique, Convergence et Alternatives and a part of Gauche Unitaire (2)), as well as unaffiliated individuals active in the social movements.   

Saturday morning's discussion took place around a general political resolution. Those present were unanimous in their criticism of the policy of president François Hollande and prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. The crisis in Syria dealt with in the opening section of the document has not so far resulted in military intervention, but the situation remains critical, and an attack cannot be ruled out.

In France, no left government has ever been so favourable to business interests and so anti-worker, via tax credits and changes to employment laws - not to mention the counter-reform of the pension system which goes further than anything implemented by right-wing president Nicolas Sarkozy. Unfortunately, despite massive opposition to the changes as expressed in opinion polls, the reaction on the ground through strikes and demonstrations has been inadequate. Nevertheless, the campaign is continuing in the form of meetings in Paris and in the regions. 

The racist declarations and policy of Socialist Party interior minister Manuel Valls, on the subject of Roma immigrants in particular, were also at the centre of the debates. 

Some comrades expressed regrets that the resolution did not include an analysis of the economic crisis to provide a context for the right-wing policy of the Socialist Party. The international situation and the question of racism should also have been analysed in more detail, according to others.

A second session was devoted to perspectives for the Left Front. The delegates reaffirmed their appreciation of the positive role played by the Front as an alternative to the neo-liberal Left. But despite the fact that the two big demonstrations of the last twelve months (one against the European treaty, the other on 5 May for a 'sixth republic' and against austerity) were both initiated by the Left Front, internal divisions over electoral tactics for the March 2014 local council elections have contributed to polluting its message and have made it relatively inaudible. This process is taking place in a worrying social and political environment in which the far-right National Front is gaining ground and is in a position to hold the balance of power in many areas.

On the subject of the elections, delegates restated the position of Gauche Anticapitaliste and of the future united organisation that the Left Front should be present in the first round as an independent force, i.e. it should not join forces with the governing Socialist Party. Many speakers insisted on the responsibility for this situation of the largest group within the Left Front, the Communist Party. The CP, which has  many incumbent mayors and local councillors, often elected as a result of agreements with the Socialists, is considering making alliances with the Socialist Party in many large towns, including the capital, Paris - thus compromising the independence, and the success of the Left Front in the May 2014 European elections. And even though the reaction of Jean-Luc Mélenchon's Left Party, the second biggest force within the Left Front, is often inappropriate, it is clear that its position on the local elections is similar to our own. Different opinions exist, however, on the possibility of local Communist Party branches approving such alliances, and the overall situation remains complicated. 

In this difficult context, the formation of a new united group within the Left Front, which is currently made up of nine separate parties and groups (3), is good news. Since the last joint conference, on 15 June, the basic position documents have been finalised and a number of others drawn up. A coordinating committee meets regularly to work on the project and prepare the national meeting on 23-24 November, which represents a major step forward.

After the conference, which will also have to choose a name for the new organisation, which is currently referred to as the 'G5' or the 'third force', it will be possible for individual militants to join directly. A coordinating body will be designated by the conference, representing the component groups - probably on an equal basis, despite differences in size - but also including some unaffiliated individuals having contributed to the merger. Local representative committees will also meet several times a year. In an interim period lasting twelve months, Gauche Anticapitaliste, as well as the other groups, will continue to function as a separate organisation, though on a reduced basis. We all hope that the effect of creating this new political current within the Left Front will encourage those who are currently hesitating to join us.

Delegates also underlined the importance of ensuring that the new organisation does not simply act 'from above' within the Left Front, or satisfy itself with reacting to the respective positions of the Communist Party and the Left Party. It must also express its own policy, one which we hope will be adopted by the Left Front as a whole. In adition, it must also become a political weapon for all those who wish to act against the antisocial policies of the government. With this in mind, specific propaganda material (leaflets, website, publications ...) must be produced, even if priority should always be given to producing such material in the name of the Left Front, whenever possible. 

Comrades who spoke about the situation in their regions emphasised that, in the majority of cases, the new organisation is taking shape on the ground, with the component groups already working together, although the local configurations are not always comparable.

In conclusion, the conference showed that Gauche Anticapitaliste is a relatively homogeneous organisation, which is why the weekend meeting took place in a relaxed atmosphere. 

The next stage is the weekend of 23-24 November with our partners, which we all hope will be a success. Gauche Anticapitaliste will also be organising a weekend of debates in January 2014 around the subjects of party, organisation, the mass movements and a balance-sheet of the Russian revolution, to which all our partners, and others, are invited to contribute.

Dominique Angelini (translation and additional information by Colin Falconer)

Notes 

(1) Gauche Anticapitaliste currently has just over 600 subs-paying members.

(2) Convergence et Alternative and Gauche Unitaire both originated as tendencies within the New Anticapitalist Party. Les Alternatifs is a 'red-green' formation. The FASE is mainly 'post-communist'.

(3) In addition to the CP and the Left Party (originating as a left tendency within the Socialist Party), and the five organisations mentioned above, two other small groups are affiliated to the Left Front: the 'left nationalist' République et Socialisme and the 'post-Maoist' Parti Communiste Ouvrier de France. The Left Front does not allow for individual membership.

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