The USA could do with a better far left like in France.

The Trotskyite French leader Olivier Besancenot, nominally a postman, is on a roll. He’s relaunched the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire as the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste, with a broader appeal and much snazzier website. He has a 60% personal approval rating from the French public and 1,498,581 (4%) voted for him in 2007. More than the moribund Communist party, the Trotskyite far left can regularly get its troops on to the street and its positions discussed in the media.

Limit bankers’ pay to $500,000? Forget it. Expropriate the bastards. From Newsweek:

He wants the state to expropriate banks and insurance companies, bankrupt or not, to create a giant public banking service run by the people. Or, as he writes in the Communist Revolutionary League’s party magazine “Rouge,” “if bosses refuse to share the right to property, if they oppose worker control, we demand their expropriation and worker self-management of their companies.”

The French Far Left, like the mainstream left, is still wedded to statist centralisation and monopoly. A bit more Kropotkin and less Lenin would improve the mix. What’s Besancenot got against cooperative community banks?

The record of these people in power is so disastrous that it would be tempting to wish them gone, as has more or less happened in the USA. Tempting but wrong. Like the gene for sickle-cell anaemia, the far left plays a useful irritating and balancing role, so long as it stays in a permanent minority. America has a strong and influential hard right, and it controls the opposition in Congress. But where’s the hard left? Name if you can the Socialist Party candidate for US President in November. (Answer(s) below the jump.) Only in America do RBC bloggers count as leftwingers, conservative Senators Nelson and Collins pose as centrists, and bank executives loot away without any fear for their personal safety.

The American Trotskyites of the Fourth International soldier on. Their tiny band is shrunk even from the days when the membership of every far-left organisation in America was greatly boosted by FBI moles, a scheme less successful than the police socialism of the Okhrana. (Can anyone give me a source for the alleged old Spartacist slogan “every dime buys a bullet”?)

Sample of the currently Correct Line:

Obama serves as a very powerful propaganda weapon for the bourgeoisie, telling black people and the oppressed to shut up and stop complaining, because, you see, ‘the American dream’ works!

Admit it, there’s a grain of truth here.


US presidential elections, November 2008

Socialist Party: Brian Moore, 6,566 votes.

Socialist Workers Party: Róger Calero, 7,209 votes,

Party for Socialism and Liberation: Gloria La Riva, 7,478 votes.

Author: James Wimberley

James Wimberley (b. 1946, an Englishman raised in the Channel Islands. three adult children) is a former career international bureaucrat with the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. His main achievements there were the Lisbon Convention on recognition of qualifications and the Kosovo law on school education. He retired in 2006 to a little white house in Andalucia, His first wife Patricia Morris died in 2009 after a long illness. He remarried in 2011. to the former Brazilian TV actress Lu Mendonça. The cat overlords are now three. I suppose I've been invited to join real scholars on the list because my skills, acquired in a decade of technical assistance work in eastern Europe, include being able to ask faux-naïf questions like the exotic Persians and Chinese of eighteenth-century philosophical fiction. So I'm quite comfortable in the role of country-cousin blogger with a European perspective. The other specialised skill I learnt was making toasts with a moral in the course of drunken Caucasian banquets. I'm open to expenses-paid offers to retell Noah the great Armenian and Columbus, the orange, and university reform in Georgia. James Wimberley's occasional publications on the web