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
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
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)
(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.