Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Socialism for the Scrapheap?

THE French Socialist Party, according to the philosopher Bernard-Henry Levy is 'already dead'.  Mr. Levy said that 3 years ago arguing that as a political alternative for those not keen on Sarkozy, the then president, Mr. Hollande and his Socialist Party offered little more than a differently situated elite.  Mr. Levy still insists:  'There are no more socialists - if they are honest they would change the name of the party', and he claims European socialists now are more or less like American Democrats.  In his book 'Barbarism with a Human Face', Mr. Levy wrote:  'I would dream of writing in a dictionary for the year 2000:  "Socialism, masculine noun, cultural genre born in Paris 1848, died in Paris in 1968".'

In my past postings I have raised the possibility that the Labour Party, like the French Socialist Party, has outlived its mission.  Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a leader of the student revolt of May 1968, then considered a leading anarchist dubbed 'Danny the Red', is now 'Danny the Green' - a co-leader of the ecologist group in the European Parliament, has said:  'The fight between private property and state property is over'.  Today, members of the Labour Party in the UK tend to have jobs in the state sector and this seems to be more the case in France:  indeed the French Socialist Party seems to be made up of academics and bureaucrats or in other words state functionaries, and the French state represents 56.6% of gross domestic product, one of the highest in the Western world.  Meanwhile, well-off socialists like the rather randy Dominique Strass-Kahn and other in the 'gauche caviar' bunch consider themselves revolutionary if they take their ties off for lunch.

The editor of the French journal Esprit, Marc-Oliver Padis says:  'Socialism here is very statist'.  Perhaps this is why some on the English left and in the trade unions have welcomed the election of Mr. Hollande, including the North West TUC JCC representative, Alec McFadden.  With the British Labour Party or the French socialists in power a conveyor belt of cushy jobs is created for the petty-functionaries.  Indded, it seems that the leading figures in the French Socialist Goverment are more creatures of the French establishment than those who were around Sarkozy.

It has been noted by Alain-Gerard Slama that Mr. Hollande won the presidency thanks to half of the centrist votes and a third of the far-right voters, all of whom detested Mr Sarkozy.  Mr. Slama wrote:  'The French don't d anything like anyone else - they'll give themselves a Socialist president, a Socialist Assembly, a Socialist Senate, Socialist regions, while, by a clear majority, they are not Socialist.'

There was, of course, some excitement about the chances of the far-left candidate for the French presidency, Jean-Luc Melenchon, but he was later well thrashed by Marine Le Pen in the first round of the race for an Assembly seat.  Joschka Fisher, formerly of the far-left but now a spokesman for the Green Party in Germany, says:  'As an ideologically based movement socialism is no longer vital, today, it's a combination of democracy, rule of law and the welfare state, and I'd say the vast majority of Europeans defend this - the British Tories can't touch the welfare state without being beheaded.'

The question now is, with the ideology of state socialism wilting on the vine, is can there be some form of socialism that is neither statist or centralist?  That would have to be a form of socialism that would take us away from the State individualism of northern Europe towards a more society based model. 

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