Place: France

The French Stand Up


[Montpellier, May 26, 2016] “We’ve had enough” is the phrase on everyone’s lips as – against all expectations — the wave of strikes, blockades, disruptions and mass demonstrations begun eleven days ago continues to develop throughout France. Indeed, in the past couple of days, two new strategic groups of workers have joined the protest. Technicians at France’s nuclear power plants are now cutting back on production of electricity, and the railroad workers have massively joined the street protests while cutting back on trains. Meanwhile, there are long lines at the gas pumps as petroleum workers continue to blockade France’s major oil refineries.

Travel Notes – Impressions of Paris and the Left

ImageWhile in Paris in mid-April, I had conversations with a number of mostly older, leftist intellectuals: professors, publishers, editors and writers. These are men and women who historically have had close ties and involvement in the labor and social movements. I also went to political protests and attended a socialist meeting. Here are my impressions, just impressions of a few days in Paris.

France's New Anti-Capitalist Party, Seven Years Later: Project, Reality, Questions


The following piece was written for Kojkkino, the theoretical magazine of the Greek organization DEA. Though quite long, it does not claim to cover all sides of the question. Indeed, it’s the kind of article that is never really finished and that has to be constantly reworked and supplemented. Its main objective is to stimulate collective thinking about the lessons of the successes and failures of the NPA from its birth to the present day.

Radical Left organizations in Europe have tended to focus their attention on the major political and electoral experiences that have stood out in the recent period – beginning with Syriza in Greece, Podemos in the Spanish State and the Left Bloc in Portugal, and often also including Die Linke in Germany, Rifondazione Comunista in Italy, the Red-Green Alliance in Denmark (RGA) and others. This is entirely justified. Still, other attempts at “doing something new” merit analysis, even where their successes were fewer or shorter-lived. They provide food for thought about a broader range of national contexts.

The Truth About Charlie: One Year after the 7 January Attacks


Two French Islamist gunmen of Algerian descent entered a newspaper office in Paris a year ago today and gunned down a generation of Europe’s greatest political cartoonists – many from an anarchist, anti-racist tradition  – along with their co-workers and those protecting them, who also included people of Algerian descent.  In case anyone is confused about the politics of this – it was a far right attack on the left

Hollande called on to lift ban on climate protests at COP 21


An international coalition of NGOs, civil society groups and political figures such as Naomi Klein and Susan George have called on the French president to lift the ban on protests during the COP 21 climate talks in Paris, which began on November 30th.

Following November’s terror attacks in Paris, the French government has imposed a temporary state of emergency that has prevented any protests from taking place in France. The local coaltion of NGOs and trade unions in in France, Climat 21, had planned a series of protests in Paris before, during and at the end of the climate talks which have now been banned.

Building a Sex Workers’ Trade Union: Challenges and Perspectives


It is a far from straightforward decision to found a union in a sector in which such an organisation has never existed before. For the most part, trade unions today have a (long) history: it may not be rare for workers to join a union, but it certainly is for them to participate in one’s founding and initial building. It is acutely challenging when the work itself to be organised is not entirely legal; when most of the workers are migrants in very precarious situations, who are regularly arrested and deported; when the legal context overlooks, and contributes to, high levels of violence and exploitation; and when, as if all of this was not enough, those who should be showing solidarity are on the other side, fighting to increase the criminalisation of the workers’ activity.

No to ISIS–No to Imperialism–Solidarity with the Victims!


The November 13 attacks in Paris: the terror of the Islamic State, the state of emergency in France, our responsibilities

November 13 represents a change in the national and international political situation. The Islamic State (IS, Daesh) has struck again; and even more strongly. In January, the targets were the journalists of Charlie Hebdo, police and Jews. This time, it was the youth of the country that was the target. They did not kill just anyone, just anywhere: they attacked young people, young people in all their colours, whatever their origins, their religion (if they had one), their political beliefs. At least 130 dead, over 350 wounded – at the very least a thousand direct witnesses of the carnage. Many of us have relatives among the victims and, if not, we have friends who have. The shock wave, the emotion, is profound.

ISIS Carnage in Paris Portends Repression in Europe and Intensified War in Middle East


The despicable ISIS attacks on Paris and elsewhere have unleashed intensified war and imperialist machinations over Syria and Iraq, as well as repression of immigrants and renewed Islamophobia. Can the left oppose the carnage on all sides without losing sight of its emancipatory aims?

Building the Paris COP21 Climate Protest


The pace of climate change is relentless. The projected date for the arrival of a 2°C rise in the global average surface temperature over pre-industrial levels is coming down all the time. It’s now estimated to happen by 2038. The earth will warm by at least 4°C by the end of the century, possibly 6°C.

The results of this are catastrophic: intensifying extreme weather events – heatwaves, droughts, floods, water shortages, hurricanes and tornadoes. The sea level is rising as a result of the melting icecaps.

What Caused the Killings?

ImageGilbert Achcar is a professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London and the author of many books, including Clash of Barbarisms: September 11 and the Making of the New World Disorder, Read more ›

Context versus Value

There have been mostly two kinds of responses to the Charlie Hebdo killings. On one side are those who have simply seen it as a satire versus intolerance issue, with a subtext: Satire being seen as a western/universal (artistic) value and intolerance being a fundamental aspect of religion (more specifically: Political Islam).


INFAMY.  That is the only word that can sum up how we feel about the the murder of our buddies at Charlie Hebdo. A crime made even more hateful because these comrade artists were people on the left, anti-racists, anti-fascists, anti-colonialists, sympathizers with communism and anarchism. It was only recently that they participated in an homage to the memory of a group of Algerians assassinated by the French police in Paris on October 17, 1961.

Is Solidarity without Identity Possible? – On the Charlie Hebdo Attack

The time I saw Charb in Paris was January 24, 2010, the day of the crowded commemoration of the French philosopher and activist Daniel Bensaïd at La Mutualité. During the speeches, Charb kept drawing and projecting vignettes about his comrade Daniel, whose book, Marx: Mode d’Emploi, he had illustrated a year earlier.

The Massacre at Charlie Hebdo


The mass murder at Charlie Hebdo in Paris is the leading news story in the world, and is universally condemned – rightfully so. In the left’s condemnation of this brutal massacre of journalists and cartoonists for expressing opinions in satirical form, we need to express our dissent from some of what’s being preached under the foggy cover of “je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie).

NPA Statements on Charlie Hebdo Killings


Following are the two statements issued by the New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) of France after the January 7 killing of Charlie Hebdo joournalists in Paris. – Dan La Botz, Co-Editor

A Barbarous and Reactionary Act

Wrestling with Trotsky, Che, and Political Impatience


Daniel Bensaïd. An Impatient Life: A Memoir. Foreword by Tariq Ali. New York: Verso, 2013. Photos. Notes. 358pp. Hardback – $34.95.

Daniel Bensaïd, raised in his Algerian Jewish and French Communist family in Toulouse, was strongly affected as an adolescent by the revolutionary movements in Algeria, Cuba, and Vietnam. At the university, he became swept up in and was soon a student leader of university strikes that set off the great upheaval of May 1968 leading to the strike by 11 million workers.

Opening the left door wide

This essay is inspired by the recent article by Denis Godard titled: “The NPA in crisis: We have to explain because we have to start again.” His article is a review of the strategic orientation of the historically Trotskyist-origined tendencies that prioritize building independent class formations and which see electoral vehicles as expressions of anti-capitalist cum revolutionary socialist movements “from below” (that is, based in and directly responsive to grassroots and rank-and-file formations).

The Killing of Clément Méric

     The killing of Clément Méric, an 18-year-old anti-fascist activist and member of a student union, by a young fascist skinhead in Paris on May 6th has shocked French public opinion.

Europe at a Dark Crossroads: Letter from France

ImageWhen New Politics asked me this July to write a piece about France under the new Socialist government, I excitedly drove out to Serviers-et-La Baume — my Provençal sweetheart Elyane’s little village located in the heart of la France profonde — to interview her rural neighbor Robert about this big change (and sip some of his home-made plum brandy).


The Situation of the Situationists: A Cultural Left in France in the 1950s and 60s

Most of us, if we know anything at all about the Situationist International, know Guy Debord’s brilliant and famous pamphlet The Society of the Spectacle and, if we are old enough, perhaps remember the striking cover of its English language edition showing rows of moviegoers sitting passively and expectantly in a theater wearing 3-D glasses.


French Welfare

This is a study of two French welfare offices, done in six months in 1995. Dubois says that it is the first study of French welfare offices ever done. He calls it a "critical policy ethnography." Dubois observed interactions between workers and clients, mostly at the reception desk. He is a political scientist/sociologist (he says that political science in France was redefined on a sociological basis in the 1980s). He was not a specialist in welfare policy, which he claims as an advantage as it left him free of preconceptions.