Leftism in France: 10 years on

Printer-friendly versionSend by email

Since May ‘68 in France, the leftist movement has gone through various transformations. After reaching its strongest point in 1969, the years that followed saw a relative decline in the influence of certain leftist groups and the dev­elopment of a crisis within them taking diff­erent forms in different currents.

The Maoist or the so-called Marxist-Leninist Movement

In contrast to the Trotskyist current which came out of a proletarian tradition that passed into the bourgeois camp during World War II, the Maoist current is a direct abortion of the counter­revolution. Coming out of the PCF (Communist Party of France) in the mid-sixties on the basis of the deterioration of relations between Russian capitalism and Chinese capitalism, the ‘pro-Chinese' movement never broke with any of the counter-revolutionary positions of the PCF. In fact it advocated a return to the teachings of Stalin and an alignment behind Mao's bourgeois state.

In 1969, the two main Maoist groups were the Gauche Proletarienne, which dissolved three years later, and the PCMLF (Parti Communiste Marxiste Leniniste de France). Since then about a dozen splits have taken place in the Maoist movement in France and today (early 1980) there are four main groups: the PCML (Parti Communiste Marxiste Leniniste), the PCPml (Parti Communiste Revolu­tionaire marxist leniniste), UCFML (Union des Communistes de France Marxistes Leninistes) and the OCFml (Organisation Communiste de France marxiste leniniste, Drapeau Rouge). In addition to these there are a dozen or so small local circles, some of them pro-Albanian like the PCOF (Parti Communiste des Ouvriers de France) which publishes La Forge. But in fact over the last ten years the Maoist movement has gone through a major numerical decline and a semi-­permanent crisis, the product of various political contradictions specific to an inexperienced bourgeois current and linked to the policies of the Chinese state. This crisis is the product of the decreasing capacity of the Maoist groups to intervene and sell their mystifications, and the fact that they are caught between a strong Trotskyist movement, a powerful Stalinist party and a social democratic party that has been growing since 1968.

More precisely, the Maoist groups have been weakened by the following developments in the class struggle and the international situation:

1. The development of the CP-SP mystification of the ‘Programme Commun', which the Maoists didn't support. They openly conciliated with the right and even the extreme right on the question of national defense (anti-Russian propaganda, support for the atomic strike-force, denunciation of the anti-militarist movement, support for French imperialism). Thus, Humanité Rouge (paper of the PCMLF) could write:

"The present government, while holding to the principle of national defense, is incapable of mobilizing the popular masses because of the reactionary and oppressive character of its domestic policies. As for the ‘Programme Commun', which represents a growing tendency in the bourgeoisie, it is extremely dangerous, because while it claims to be for the strengthening of national defense, it is completely silent about the Soviet danger" (Humanité Rouge, 240, Sept. 1974).

And also:

"As for ourselves, more than ever we call on the workers and youth to act for the strengthening of national defense..." (Humanité Rouge, 309, July 1975).

Maoism has undermined the basis of its own influence by unmasking itself too rapidly as a nationalist drug directly at the service of the bourgeoisie and the American bloc.

2. The abandonment of verbal anti-unionism by most of the Maoist groups is also helping to liquidate the Maoist myth: in many ways, this anti-union verbiage was one of the principal factors behind the influence of the Maoist groups. During and after May ‘68, many of the workers who were aware of the sabotage of the unions turned towards groups like the GP who advocated ‘hanging the bureaucrats', or like the PCMLF who called for the formation of ‘base unions' and denounced the CGT as ‘social fascist'. This kind of demagogy, which was useful for diverting the workers in a period of struggle, became useless during the ensuing period of reflux. The Maoists were unable to adapt their policies to this change.

3. The more and more open integration of China into the American bloc (remember that the Maoist groups in France arose essentially on the basis of support for Vietnam against the USA and a critique of Russia's capitulations to the US).

4. The political shifts within the Chinese state, especially after Mao's death (the liquidation of the ‘Gang of Four', the re-emergence of Teng Hsiao Ping, who had been thoroughly denounced by all the Maoist groups).

All these factors have led to the dispersion of the Maoists in all kinds of obscure directions: the abandonment of militantism and the entry into marginalism, journalism (Libération), philosophy (the ‘New Philosophy', now overtly right wing), semi-terrorism (NAPAP), spontaneist autonomy (Camarades), and even certain attempts to move onto a proletarian terrain, as expressed by the formation of the Organisation Communiste Bolshevik, which after various splits has given rise to L'Eveil Interna,tionaliste and the Gauche Internationaliste.

After the failure of the ‘Programme Cormun' and the resurgence of proletarian struggle, the main Maoist groups (PCMLF and PCRml) accelerated the change of image which they had begun in the mid-sixties, abandoning the overtly ‘radical' aspects of their interventions. They have now opted for a more conciliatory attitude towards the unions and left parties. The latter have also softened their attitude to the leftists in general.

This turn by the Maoist current was clearly expressed at the beginning of 1978 during the 40th Congress of the CGT, whose "democratic opening-up" was hailed by the PCMLF. Similarly the decision of the PCMLF and the PCRml to present a joint list at the March ‘78 election was a way of revamping electoralism something for which the Maoists had always denounced the left parties and Trotskyists. Finally, just after these elections, the PCMLF evolved a perspective for a work of "explanation directed at the electors, base militants, workers, employees and small peasants of the PS and PCF, linked to the indispensable pursuit of the class struggle for the defense of immediate demands" (HR, 851, March ‘78).

At the end of 1978, the PCMLF even undertook a self-criticism of its excessively chauvinist position of support for French imperialism, notably their support for the French intervention in Zaire.

As for the resurgence of workers' struggles, it's worth pointing out that the Maoist press is more and more advancing the perspective of ‘unity at the base' within the union framework. This confirms that the Maoists are moving towards the old Trotskyist tactics for sabotaging struggles. Under the heading ‘What is unity at the base', the PCMLF explained at the end of 1979:

"The realization of unity at the base requires compromises... both as individuals, or as representatives of an organized political force, or as members of a union section, we must abandon unilateral action. In a united action, we mustn't only popularize our own ideas, or only the program of our party or union... In the same way, we can't accept militants of other political forces ‘recuperating' our common action by trying to direct it towards their own party program." (HR, 1133)

They could hardly be more explicit. Just like the Stalinists of the PCF and the Trotskyists, the Maoists are openly preparing to break any attempt at autonomous class organization during the struggle.

More precisely the Maoist groups, apart from the small UCFML, have integrated themselves fully into the union apparatus, especially the CFDT. However, now that the divided left is assuring a clearer oppositional role, there seems to be a certain hesitation in the Maoist ranks, the logic of which is leading them to support social democracy against the PCF, especially the Maire-Rocard duo (the leader of the CFDT and the ‘new man' of social democracy). This perspective has been put forward very clearly by the small OCFml:

"The political and economic failure of the right, but above all the profound ideological failure both of the parties of the old right and the parties of the fake left, demand a new, clear alternative: a revolutionary anti-totalitarian force. The basis for the emergence of such a force can be seen both in the CFDT's good showing in the conciliation board elections, and in Michel Rocard's public-opinion successes" (Drapeau Pouge, 72, Dec. 1979).

In the same issue, the OCFml, in an article entitled "Will the leftists rejoin the PCF"', expressed its fears in seeing the leftists tail-ending the PCF, which is now engaged in a ‘radical' activity demanded by the need to control and contain the resurgence of workers' struggles. As an example of this it cites an extract from a letter written by a union militant to Humanité Rouge, which says that

"There are even comrades who think that the PCF is better than our party (the PCMLF) and who are leaving us on this basis. Because it lacks any serious analysis, I'm really afraid that our party will simply become an auxiliary to the present line of the PCF/CGT".

The OCFml uses this occasion to point out that the PCF is aligned to the Russian bloc and to stress the necessity to strengthen the camp of ‘democratic socialism', clearly the camp of social democracy and alignment behind the American bloc.

On the international level, most of the Maoist groups have tried to follow, in a more or less coherent manner, the evolution of China, and to put themselves at the disposal of the anti-Russian propaganda of the Western bloc. On several occasions, the Maoist groups have openly supported the maneuvers of the American bloc. For them, Russian imperialism is the main enemy and this explains their belligerent propaganda. Thus no. 65 of Drapeau Pouge, September ‘79, reproduced an advert from Le Monde for General Hachett's book The Third World War, and explained, in an article called ‘Defense: arm the people', that

"In Europe and in France, the consciousness of dangers and of realities seems to be sharper in bourgeois circles (than in the USA), and even if doubt and indecision still reign, there is also a will to face up to the Russian war danger."

A few months previously, this same group reproached the American bloc for its weakness over the China-Vietnam conflict:

"Carter has even given way to this military and political pressure. At a time when the whole world was talking about the USSR's preparations for war against China, he declared that ‘there is no doubt in my mind that the Soviets want peace'" (DR, 54, March ‘79).

In the Same article, the OCFml supported China's attack on Vietnam:

"China is in the right! It is simply affirming that it won't give way to the threats of petty hegemonism supported by the USSR. Munich 1938 has already shown that any policy of weakness only encourages aggression."

In a broader sense, when the Maoists aren't explicitly supporting western imperialism their implicit support for the European options blessed by Washington clearly shows the pro-western perspective of all the Maoist groups. The UCFML, a small ‘marginal' group, didn't support the Chinese invasion of Vietnam: "The entry of Chinese troops into Vietnamese territory is justified neither by Vietnamese provocations at the frontier, nor by the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia, nor by the infiltration of Vietnam by Russian social-imperialism". In no.36 of its paper (Le Marxiste Leniniste) this group devoted a long article defending the idea of a re-unified Europe, East and West Europe against the two ‘superpowers', a ‘Europe of the peoples'. Very rapidly, the group admitted that the China-US alliance was ‘inevitable', and at the end of ‘78 it explained about the threat of imperialist war, saying:

"On the question of war, the proletariat can't have a passive attitude. Pacifism is a guarantee for disaster. When at the beginning of the 1939-45 war the PCF refused to put itself at the head of the resistance against the Nazi invader, it made a dramatic error, clearly paid for afterwards, despite the heroism of the FTP. Allowing De Gaulle to appear as the incarnation of the resistance allowed the capitulationist bourgeoisie to reconstitute itself." (Le Marxiste Leniniste, no. 31)

This same patriotic tradition is claimed by the ‘pro-Albanian' PCOF. It denounces the preparations for war and puts equal blame on the PS and PCF, "accomplices in the fascisisation of the regime." This pseudo-denunciation is part of the PCOF's ‘anti-fascist' logic; in its own small way the PCOF is trying to refurbish the old myths used by the PCF to mobilize the proletariat for World War II. By assimilating war with fascism, the PCOF completes the whole panoply of Maoist lies. Thus Maoism defends bourgeois positions from A to Z, and with an imperturbable tenacity.

But, lacking a real influence in the working class, the Maoist current doesn't have much perspective of growth in comparison to the Trotskyist movement, which remains the ‘spearhead' of leftism in France.

The Trotskyist Movement

Trotskyism is the main force of the extreme left of capital in France, The Ligue Communiste Revolutionnaire (LCR), Lutte Ouvriere (LO) and the Organisation Communiste Internationaliste (OCI) have since 1968 shared most of leftisms's work of mystification.

The Trotskyist groups, unlike the Maoists, were less affected by crises and splits during the reflux in the workers' struggle. However there has been a sort of creeping crisis, which has taken the form of a crisis of militantism in the LCR, the definite organizational decline of the OCI, and a weakening of the political phraseology of LO which used to have an image as a ‘pure', ‘radical' group. The underlying cause of these phenomena was the alignment of these three groups behind the Union of the left (PC, PS, Left Radicals), and their rapid integration into the electoral circus.

This orientation in the Trotskyist movement has provoked a series of small ‘left-wing' splits, reacting against a policy that was too tail­endist and too openly anti-working class. Thus the small group LIRQUI (now the Ligue Ouvriere Revolutionnaire -- LOR), after splitting from the OCI, explained during the spring ‘74 elections that:

"The OCI's recent rallying ‘without ambiguity for the victory of Mitterand' is one of the most important political facts of the day. This position is a complete negation of the whole past struggle of the 4th International in France. It is neither more nor less than a rallying behind the Popular Front. It is a shameful, unconditional capitulation" (Bulletin, no.4).

As for the Ligue Trotskyiste de France (LTF) which comes from a group expelled from the LCR, it makes the same accusation:

"The LTF's major accusation against the pseudo-Trotskyists is their inability to draw a class line against the Union of the Left Popular Front, both in their general intervention and in their trade union work. The strategic axis of the intervention of Trotskyists is the independence of the working class from the bourgeoisie, an independence that is obliterated when the workers' parties and unions enter into a popular front. The central axis of trade union work for consis­tent revolutionaries must be the denunciation of the treason of the popular front and the break between the unions and the popular front. The pseudo-Trotskyists have either called for the coming to power of the popular front (LCR and LO) or called for a vote to Mitterand against... the popular front (OCI)!" (French Bulletin of the Spartacist League no.10, October ‘75)

Finally, Combat Communiste, a small group called ‘state capitalist' because it recognizes the capitalist nature of the USSR, expelled from LO after a split by another group (Union Ouvriere), was banging the same drum:

"LO supports the camouflaged coalition between the bourgeoisie and the counter­revolutionary workers' leaders without even asking what is positive in this for the working class" (CC pamphlet, Critique du Programme de Transition).

All these groups, including Combat Communiste, maintain the logic of Trotskyism on the issue of supporting the capitalist left. They only differ on whether this support is opportune in a ‘non-revolutionary' period. Thus Combat Communiste, denouncing the caricatural way the big Trotskyist groups use the slogan of the workers' government, added:

"We have just seen that the ‘workers' government' slogan only has a meaning in a pre-revolutionary period. In a situation in which -- as happened in the Russian revolution -- the bourgeois leaders of the working class had a majority in the workers' councils, we can't exclude the possibility of inviting them to take power" (ibid) .

This position, which CC has never publicly criticized, shows the difficulty, perhaps the impossibility, of such a group breaking with the counter-revolution, despite its recognition of the capitalist nature of the USSR.

As for the LTF, sympathizing section of the international Spartacist tendency, which advocates a return to the origins of Trotskyism, it in no sense represents a class rupture with official Trotskyism. The radicalism of such a group is just verbiage and artifice built around the same counter-revolutionary positions as the other Trotskyists: frontism, defense of bourgeois democratism, of trade unionism and the Russian imperialist bloc (though, as we shall see, this last point is the source of various contradictions in the present Trotskyist movement). In fact these splits have had hardly any impact on the three main French Trtoskyist groups.

During the resurgence of class struggle in the winter of ‘79, these groups were unable to make up for the difficulties the Trotskyist movement was having in redefining a new policy after the electoral failure of the Union of the Left. The desire to maintain a ‘pure' Trotskyism can only be dashed by the reality of the class struggle: in this sense, groups like the LTF, the LOR, or even CC (which doesn't seem to be able to be consistent in its efforts to break with Trotskyism) don't have any independent perspective in France.

Another aspect of the French Trotskyist movement is its relative weight at the international level, The LCR, attached to the Unified Secretariat (USec) of the 4th International (more or less led by E Mandel), and the OCI, which has constructed the Comite d'organisation pour la Reconstruction de la Auatrieme Internat­ionale (CORQUI), compete with each other in the subtlety of their maneuvers to set up an international organization which could create the illusion of being a real international proletarian organization. The myth of the existence of a truly revolutionary 4th Internat­ional has kept going ever since Trotskyism passed into the bourgeois camp during World War II, when it supported Russian imperialism and the allies against the fascist imperialist bloc. It would take much too long to go through the history of all the splits and short-lived regroupments which have taken place since the 1930's, but in this whole shopping basket there's been nothing that's come anywhere near a real proletarian internationalist activity.

The OCI has also seen the downfall of the International Committee for the Reconstruction of the 4th International which it used to participate in -- first after the break with Healy's group in Britain (the SLL, now the WRP), and then the departure of the LIRQUI, led by Varga, who was denounced as a double agent of the CIA and GPU! Since then, the OCI has tried, not without some success, to prise away the American SWP which belongs to the USec but is the main rival to the LCR...

In fact, behind all these sordid maneuvers, there is a crisis in the Trotskyist movement, partly due to the present period, which is seeing the strengthening of the imperialist blocs and the resurgence of the proletarian struggle. This crisis is taking the form of a realignment of a large part of the Trotskyist movement, which has been more and more tempted to line up behind social democracy. As early as 1974, during the events in Portugal, we saw within the USec. a division between a ‘classical' tendency still attached to the defense of Russian interests and thus closer to the Stalinist party, and a ‘pro-social democratic' tendency more and more influenced by the needs of the American bloc. In this sense the OCI was the precursor of this tendency, and at this point it rallied to the standpoint of the American SWP by almost openly supporting the Portuguese SP:

"To note that the radicalization of the masses is using the channel of the Socialist Party doesn't mean adopting the program or policies of the Portuguese SP leadership. But it would be sheer blindness to refuse to see that, on the burning issues of the revolution, the Portuguese SP has started a struggle which coincides with the fundamental interests of the proletariat (workers' democracy in the unions, municipal elections, respect for the Constituent Assembly, freedom of the press, etc)" (Information Ouvrières, 717, Sept. ‘75).

On other issues, and in particular the question of support for the ‘dissidents' of the Eastern bloc, the (OCI has aligned itself behind the Western bloc, helping to give a ‘revolutionary' veneer to the nationalist and democratic cliques which are active in the Eastern bloc and which will be a dangerous force for mystification for the proletariat in struggle:

"The right of peoples to self-determination is today a powerful lever in the hands of the proletariat in its struggle against imperialism and the Kremlin bureaucracy: it can dislocate the counter-revolutionary European order which imperialism and the Kremlin bureaucracy, through the Yalta and Potsdam agreements, imposed on the peoples and proletariats of Europe, and which they want to preserve. It can give a powerful impetus to social contradictions. It is part of the struggle for political revolution in Eastern Europe and for social revolution in the West" (La Vérité, 565, January ‘75).

The Trotskyists are in the front ranks of those who aim to castrate the proletarian movement in the Eastern bloc by diverting it into the utopian struggle for ‘the rights of peoples to self-determination', a slogan which only serves the interests of imperialism in this instance western imperialism.

With the deepening of inter-imperialist contrad­ictions, which are increasingly centering on Europe, a part of the Trotskyist movement has tended to adapt itself more and more to social democracy. What's more, the French social democrats have recently started a campaign to rehabilitate Trotsky, as a politician who opposed Stalin. More concretely, when the Frente Sandinista came to power in Nicaragua, this convergence between part of the Trotskyist move­ment and the Socialist Party was further solidified, notably through the campaigns of support for the ‘new' Nicaragua. The more or less rapid abandonment of the intransigent defense of the Russian bloc has not taken place without friction, given the particularly decaying character of the Trotskyist milieu, racked by rivalries and personal quarrels. There can only be an exacerbation of the conflicts between the Trotskyist groups who have concentrated their energies on the Stalinist parties, particularly LO and even the LCR to a lesser extent, and those who follow social democracy like the OCI, or who already act like a small social democratic party themselves, like the American SWP. It's this which allows us to understand why the Ligue Ccmmuniste Internationaliste was more or less expelled by the LCR, at the time of its last Congress, because of its links with the OCI, when at the exact same moment the LCR was engaged in official negotiations with the OCI!

Behind all these games is the real issue of how Trotskyism is to play its role of mystification in the workers' struggle. Initially all the French Trotskyist groups supported the electoral illusions of the union of the Left; now this left has split up and is playing a more oppositional role in order to sabotage workers' struggles more effectively. This has left the Trotskyist movement high and dry, temporarily incapable of developing a coherent policy. This in turn explains why the Trotskyists had such a weak intervention in the steelworkers' struggles of early ‘79. Thus, concerning the demonstration of 23 March, the LTF was left sermonizing to its big brothers about their ‘lack of militancy':

"The CGT and PC have both sabotaged their own march, mortally afraid that it might escape their control. Faced with this potentially explosive situation, the pseudo-Trotskyists of all kinds showed themselves lamentably incapable of advancing a perspective of struggle for the workers" (Le Bolshevik, 13 October ‘79)

While revolutionaries can only welcome these moments of impotence for Trotskyism, they can't sell the bearskin before the bear's been killed. The tail-endism vis-a-vis social democracy favored by part of the Trotskyist movement undoubtedly marks a weakening of the capacities for mystification which it derived from its support for the Russian bloc. This support allowed it to have an image of ‘anti-imperialism' and internationalism, and thus to have an influence on Stalinist militants. However, it won't be so easy for a group like LO to be tempted in this direction. At the time of the Union of the Left, this group had a clear divergence with the other Trotskyists:

"If there is one party in the Union of the Left which revolutionaries must be pre­occupied with, it's not the Socialist Party, but the French Communist Party. Because the PCF has retained a working class base, and organizes in its ranks a number of militants who are devoted to the working class, to really changing the world, to socialism... Thus we ought to be preoccupied with what's going on inside the PCF, with the aspirations, hopes and doubts of the militants of this party." (Lutte de Classe, 22, October ‘74).

Today we can see how a group like LO is a precious supplement to the PCF, which is in fact the only left party that is really in a position to smash the workers' resistance, their combativity and their moves towards autonomy, thanks to its control over the CGT. By giving a new gloss to the militant work of the Stalinists, LO is rendering a more ‘radical' service to the counter-revolution than the OCI, which tends to sing about Bergeron, the leader of the union Force Ouvriere, or the LCR, which tends towards the CFDT.

But in the end, whether they are more ‘pro-Stalinist' or ‘pro-social democrat', more ‘pro- Russian' or more ‘pro-Western', the Trotskyist groups have the same basic tasks as guard dogs of capital, the same task of diverting class consciousness and sabotaging workers' struggles. At the international level, there are plenty of examples of this effort to undermine the proletariat's initial movements. The French Trotskyists have not yet had the chance of a government post like the Ceylonese Trotskyist group LSSP, or of supporting a military coup d'état like the Argentinian Trotskyists of the PST, who, after supporting Peron's return in 1973, applauded General Videla's seizure of power in 1976. But at one time or another they have all supported the direct suppression of the proletariat at an international level.

Thus, when Allende was in power in Chile, the LCR openly supported the government of Popular Unity, presenting it as something different from a bourgeois government, and presenting Chile as something different from a capitalist state. Faced with the danger of the army, the LCR called on the working class to defend one faction of the bourgeoisie against another:

"The Chilean revolutionaries of the MIR have clearly analyzed this situation: they call for the setting up of committees for socialism supporting Allende as long as he situates himself on a class terrain, and ready to go into action the moment he moves away from it." (Rouge, 86, Nov.73)

Let's remember that the MIR formed Allende's personal bodyguard and constantly supported the bourgeois left in power.

We've already mentioned the OCI's support for the Portuguese SP. For its part LO claimed that the Armed Forces Movement (AFM) -- ie the military clique responsible for repressing strikes -- could go in the same direction as the aspirations of the masses:

"In a period in which broad layers of the masses have confidence in the AFM, precisely because it proposes to carry out the objectives that correspond to their aspirations, to oppose the policies of the AFM en bloc would mean cutting oneself off from the masses. On the contrary, it's necessary to support these objectives of the AFM which are correct: agrarian reform for example. It's necessary to affirm loudly that, every time the AFM takes a step forward in satisfying democratic demands, it will have the workers' support against the forces of reaction." (Lutte de Classe, 31, Oct. ‘75)

As for inter-imperialist conflicts, these have given rise to the most cynical positions, notably on the part of the more ‘radical' Trotskyist groups. "Revolutionaries are for the right of peoples to self-determination. Even if in certain cases, supporting the right of certain peoples to self-determination means supporting the interests of imperialism." (Lutte de classe, 34, Feb. ‘76). In the same article, LO avoids saying a single word about the role of the USSR in so-called national liberation struggles. The Spartacist tendency is less hypocritical and takes up its positions more crudely in relation to Russian military interests. During the war in Angola, this group put forward the following positions:

"While the Stalinists of various kinds sing the praises of their favorite nationalist movement, the Spartacist tendency, since early November, has called for military support for the MPLA against the imperialist coalition... We have always refused to give political support to the forces that intend to create a capitalist Angola" (Spartacist 11).

This group thinks it can cover its tracks by making a subtle distinction between military and political support; this is the height of chauvinist chicanery, to be internationalist on paper and ferociously nationalist on the battle­field, arms in hand. In the case of the Spartacist tendency, it's all the more disgusting because the group doesn't put into practice its idea of military support: it simply calls on the African or Asian workers to get themselves slaughtered for Russian capital, with the blessing of international Trotskyism and third worldism. This is what it did once again over Afghanistan. The LTF, which defends the positions of the Spartacist tendency in France, wasn't left behind, and, concerning the situation in Iran, the LTF showed what lay beneath its ‘intran­sigence' against the Trotskyists who supported Khomeini. In a polemic against Combat Communiste the LTF attacks CC for seeing the struggles in Iran as being more important for the proletariat than the "nationalist peasant guerillas" in Vietnam, because that means preferring Khomeini to Ho Chi Minh and denying the "workers' gains" in Vietnam. It's hardly surprising that the LTF should prefer the stigmata of capitalist barbarism in the zones dominated by Russian imperialism to the first steps of the Iranian proletariat. The LTF's denunciation of Khomeini is in no way a defense of class positions, but simply an appeal to the pro-Russian forces in Iran to liquidate the Islamic clique. In this perspective, the LTF continues to defend ‘democratic' rights and the ‘right to self-determination', which are precisely the bloody impasses which the Iranian proletariat has to avoid.

In conclusion, the Trotskyist movement in France has over the last few years confirmed its bourgeois nature, mainly by its increasingly massive presence in the electoral game (in the 1978 legislative elections, LO put forward more than 5000 candidates:), by its presence in the three main unions (CGT, CFDT, FO), and by the control over the student union UNEF-Unite Syndicale by the OCI and the Etudiants Socialistes, competing with the UNEF-Renouveau controlled by the Stalinists. We can also mention the ‘responsible' role of the Trotskyist stewards at demonstrations, who have not hesitated in attacking the ‘autonomous' groups and calling them ‘provoc­ateurs'. Finally, during workers' struggles, either by fighting for trade union unity, or by defending frontism and democratism vis-a-vis the Stalinists and Social democrats, the Trotskyists movement is carrying out its anti-proletarian role with consistency and self-denial.

The Trotskyist current plays its anti-proletarian role at another level: by distorting and caricaturing the role and functioning of a genuine internationalist proletarian organization, by presenting their quarrels between bureaucratic cliques as proletarian political debate, the various Trotskyist groups help to repel many workers trying to rejoin the revolutionary communist tradition. Faced with the miserable spectacle of the Trotskyist current, many people reject any form of revolutionary organization, any kind of militantism, and fall into anarchism, modernism, and individualism, which are very often points of no return.

But Trotskyism also exerts a weight on the revolutionary milieu itself. The Bordigist International Communist Party, for example, due to both dubious tactical considerations and political incomprehension, has in its criticisms of Trotsky more or less liquidated the work carried out by the Italian Left around the journal Bilan before the last war (on the analysis of the period, on the question of frontist and entryist tactics, on the national question, etc.) Today, the ICP has fallen into superficial polemics in which the class nature of Trotskyism is carefully hidden, and the Trotskyists are denounced as ‘centrist' or ‘opportunist', never bourgeois. What's more, the ICP uses the work of Trotsky himself to criticize the ‘renegades' of today, breaking with the tradition of the Communist Left which unanimously denounced Trotsky's capitulations to Stalinism, which led Trotskyism into the bourgeois camp during the second world war. For all these reasons it's necessary to insist on the counter-revolutionary role and nature of the Trotskyist groups today.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Far from being an expression of the petty bourgeoisie or an ‘activist', ‘centrist', or ‘opportunist' proletarian current, the leftist movement is part of capital's left front. There is nothing proletarian or revolutionary about either Trotskyism or Maoism. On the other hand, they share any number of basic agreements with Stalinism and social democracy even if they may differ on secondary, tactical questions. As for the question of the ‘armed' revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat which might appear to place leftism in the revolutionary camp, all the leftist currents not only present this as one tactic among others, but also portray the seizures of power by Castro, Mao or Ho as models for the workers to follow.

What leftism is attempting to prepare is the defeat of the proletariat; what it defends are political methods for smashing the proletariat.

The leftist current can only prepare the ground for the statist counter-revolution which has already been practiced by Stalinism and which consists of presenting state capitalism or self-management as socialism or even communism.