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Re: <nettime> Continental Drift
joe on Mon, 26 Sep 2005 10:00:37 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Continental Drift

Brian, you write:

"...At the same time, it can be seriously argued that what the institutional
architecture of the enlarged EU tends to create is precisely an integrated
production bloc, a vast free-trade area whose parliament and court will only be
able to regulate it economically, according to the neoliberal model, without any
room for social justice, ecological transformation, or any deep debate about
values. And these are the arguments that recently led a decisive percentage of
voters on the left, in France, to reject the recent referendum on the Treaty for a
European Constitution."

The refusal to ratify the Constitution was a victory in France, and against odds,
since all the major French political parties, including the left wing -
Socialists, Greens, but excluding the Communists - campaigned for the "Yes". The
tide was turned by the activity of numerous collectives working locally throughout
the country. These collectives grouped together a wide coalition, Communists,
Trotskyists, dissident Socialists, dissident Greens, Alterglobalists, etc. The
novelty is that these groups are normally separated by ideological differences and
political competition for an overlapping constituency.

Refusing the constitution was like a crowbar prising open the shut-in nature of
the French political establishment. This functions in tacit accord with a scheme
called "l'Alternance", a sort of ping-pong between the Socialists and the UMP (the
ex RPR, the major right wing party, which was created by Chirac to accompany his
rise in politics). The Socialists are considered by those to the left as having
renounced at any truly progressist project. Michel Rocard, prime minister under
Mitterand has declared "capitalism has won". Pascal Lamy, the new director of the
WTO is a member of the French Socialist Party. Thus the Socialists see their role
as one of trying to attenuate or limit the excesses of neoliberalism and little

Now France is preparing for presidential and legislative elections which will take
place in 2007. The left is still traumatised with what happened in 2002 - a very
divided left diluted the vote, and Jospin didn't make it to the second round. This
was voted between Chirac and Le Pen, of the extreme right National Front. So the
Socialist mantra is "the useful vote", along with the call for realism, that one
cannot resist neoliberalism, so better collaborate and attenuate.

Many of the different Collectives have decided to continue the action against
neoliberalism. And this is crystalising around the project to present a unique
candidate for the presidental elections. This is in contradiction with the
traditional culture of French party politics, where each party has its champion.
Even the Communist Party has declared that it will endorse the candidate
representing the greatest chance for victory, whether a Communist or not. The name
that is often mentioned is that of JosE9 BovE9, the altermondialist.

So suddenly, in France, at the left of the left, there is this exhilarating wind
of hope and energy blowing, that in the coming campaign, a coherent project can be
presented that will truly break with the politics of capitalism. For the moment
though, things are unclear, as the logistics of a new form of political action,
that puts the project at the centre rather than the party apparatus, and which is
reinforced because it unifies multiple movements, still has to be invented.

People certainly hesitate to use the term "revolution", which could come about
through the ballot box. After all, more people are kept down by the current
mechanisms of capitalistic society than are elevated.

Yet even in the case of victory... one can imagine the day after, the WTO and IMF
and whoever else paying a visit to President BovE9, like they did to Lula in
Brazil, to tell him what he can and cannot do.

So is all this thought of the referendum offering a window of opportunity to
radically change society a pipe dream that it would be better to terminate as
rapidly as possible? Or is it the premise of a telluric shock that has the force
to shake up the edifice?

Joseph Rabie.

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