France's New Anti-Capitalist Party

Alain Krivine of the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (LCR) spoke to the British Socialist Worker about the conference in January that will found a new party, now known as the New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA).

Alain explained that the new party has emerged out of a period of consultations involving some 400 local committees across France.
These meetings have involved tens of thousands of people in a discussion on forming a party that can give expression to growing anger at the neoliberal policies of president Nicolas Sarkozy.
The meetings have drawn in activists from the women’s, anti-racist and environmental movements as well as communists, socialists, revolutionaries and libertarians.
Alain said that the size and diversity of the meetings has raised the confidence of the revolutionary left in France.
He said, “For many people this is a new experience, as they have never been in a political organisation. It is taking time to explain the work we need to do, how parties work, and even the vocabulary that is being used.
“These people are shaping the foundations of this new party.
“Many of the discussions, especially with the young people, are on questions such as whether we should be part of trade unions – many of them feel that union leaders have betrayed us.”
In an open letter to members and sympathisers the LCR recently announced, “We want to establish a new political movement more important than our party.
“One that will have a presence in all schools, colleges and universities, towns villages and working class areas.
“Even though the new party has not yet been officially launched we are already part of the politics in France.
“Whenever there is a political debate on the radio or TV we are invited on.”
The most well-known person in the LCR is Olivier Besancenot, a postal worker and the LCR’s presidential candidate. Besancenot is a regular guest on political talk shows and debates.
There have been huge movements in France over the past few years against the European Constitution – which was defeated – and a new labour law that attacked young and part-time workers.
Social discontent among the belts of misery that surround most French towns and cities exploded into weeks of rioting in 2005.
The new party will be launched during a period of deep crisis in capitalism, Alain said.
Its main aim is to give a political and organisational expression to this mood of rebellion and defiance.
“It has become a real political subject across the left in France,” Alain said.
“The Socialist Party and the Communist Party have had to take account of this new party.
“It is already involved in the social campaigns and the strikes. Already on demonstrations we have contingents marching behind the NPA banner.
“Next June we expect to stand candidates in the European elections.”
Discussions about the NPA’s formation have now reached a crucial stage as “initiative committees” will produce three documents to be presented at the founding conference of the party at the end of January.
Alain explained, “The first document will set out our programme.
“It is not definitive, but it will outline some of the principles and political points of the new party.
“There are questions such as what kind of party we want, its links to the state, of reform and revolution, and so on.
“The second document includes political resolutions that will guide us for the next few months such as decisions concerning standing candidates in the upcoming European elections.
“The third document will set out how the party will function over the next two or three years.
“These will not be the statutes of the new party, as we need to spend more time on discussing the details.
“These documents will be presented to a vote at the congress which will then elect a leadership.”
Alain said that those involved in this new formation are feeling optimistic.
“Our confidence comes from the present situation – especially the economic crisis – because now many people understand that capitalism is not the only way to organise society.
“Many people also feel that with the political crisis inside the reformist left many members of the Socialist Party will join us.”

The following should be read alongside this article: » France: crisis and revolt


John Mullen said…
I am involved in building this new party, and it's true that the first steps are very encouraging. Two elements that will have to be clarified though. One is that quite a lot of the new party is unwilling to work with other radical Left groups unless they first declare they are revolutionaries (nobody is saying this, but at least a quarter of the party are thinking it). The whole question of what alliances are possible will be sharply debated at the founding conference, no doubt.

The second is islamophobia. Islamophobia is the most popular form of racism in France today, and it is essential that the NPA makes a clear and noisy stand on this issue - for the moment most NPA members are confused about it. A tiny minority of the NPA thinks this is important.

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