The LCR has initiated the formation of a new broader party that it hopes will become a home for wide layers of people opposed to neoliberalism. The initiative grew out of rising struggle in France.
“We think that there is a new situation in France which means conditions exist to build a party bigger than the LCR,” Alain told Socialist Worker.
“As in the rest of Europe, we are confronted with a major offensive from the ruling class. In France this expressed by the neoliberal policies of the new right wing president Nicolas Sarkozy.
“Many people, especially young people, are determined to resist these attacks.
“We are witnessing a growing radicalisation in the various struggles and strikes that have erupted.”
Alain explained that unlike the struggles of the late 1990s that swept the public sector, this new militancy has spread to the private sector. The growing anger has exposed the weakness of the official left, the Socialist Party.
“The Socialist Party has not organised any real resistance to the government’s plans,” he said. “They are even complicit in some of the so-called reforms.
“Sections of the youth are disgusted by the actions of Socialist Party and want to fight.”
The failures of the Socialist Party have opened a door for the radical left. The new party has caught the popular imagination, Alain said.
“We felt we had to offer a political answer to the neoliberal offensive and try to group together anti-capitalist people in a party that has to be larger than the LCR, but which is clear about its political boundaries.
“This party has to put forward the main social demands of the working class and young people. It has to reject any participation with social democrats in any coalition government.”
Alain explained that the experience of Rifondazione Comunista in Italy shows the dangers of entering into any such alliance. Rifondazione was the major anti-capitalist party in Italy.
It played a central role in organising the social forums and mass mobilisation against the G8 in Genoa in 2001. Following the collapse of the right wing government, Rifondazione won a number of seats in the Italian parliament.
Its election success brought it into an uncomfortable alliance with the centre left that led it, among other things, to vote to support sending troops to Afghanistan.
Rifondazione was wiped out in the last election, leaving the Italian left disorientated and demoralised.
Alain said this experience has had a big impact on the left in France.
“From the beginning we have made it clear that this new party has to be against capitalism, and not to try and reform it,” he said.
One of the new party’s main advantages is the growing popularity of Olivier Besancenot – one of leaders of the LCR who stood in the presidential elections. Besancenot has articulated the growing anger at neoliberal policies.
But despite the successes, the process of moving towards a broader anti-capitalist party has also had its problems.
Alain said, “The main problem we have is that unlike the experience with Portugal’s Left Block or the Red Green Alliance in Denmark, the leaders of the other major left parties in France are opposed to the project.
“The Communist Party leadership refused to participate in forming this new party, while the other main far left organisation Lutte Ouvrière, refuse to participate in the founding committees because they say they only want to build a ‘Trotskyist-Leninist-Marxist organisation’.
“So there is no political force other than the LCR organised on a national level that has agreed to participate in the new party.”
But the desire for unity has drawn many of the supporters of other left parties into the discussions.
“We had over 1,000 people at an organising conference to discuss the new party last weekend.
“A minority were members of other left parties, but the bulk of the people were from trade unions, colleges, women’s associations and so on.
“This is very heartening because many of these people have never been a part of any political organisation. For them it’s the first time they have agreed to be part of any political party.
“This proves there is a big change taking place in France. The new party has had lots of press coverage. The leaders of the Socialist Party are now forced to answer our criticisms. We are having a good impact in public opinion polls.”
Alain added that the momentum of the new party is having an impact on the left across Europe.
“I think we will help all the anti-capitalists in Europe to try to unite. It is absolutely necessary now to fight against a capitalist Europe.”