The National Front and its influence among French workers (2015) - Introduction

This text was presented in London in July 2015 during an "Ideas for freedom" meeting organized by the AWL, a Trotskyist group with whom I have strong differences on many subjects but.... which invites me regularly to debate about France. Since 2015, unfortunately, the influence of the National Front has grown, especially among the working class. I will write a new article at the end of June after the Parliamentary elections...

I would like to make an introductory remark about the title of today’s debate. Then I’ll describe how does the National Front attracts and sometimes even recruit workers, I will deal with some misconceptions about this Far Right party and finally discuss two conceptions of antifascism.

The title of today’s debate

Today’s debate is labeled “Is the Far Right winning over Europe’s workers?” This question is full of traps and I will mention only three of them.
First trap: what is the Far Right? Do we mean the fascist/neo-fascist Right, or all the radical nationalist currents in Europe, usually labelled today as “national-populists”? In other words, do we target the British UKIP or neo-Nazi Golden Dawn? The xenophobic Dutch PVV of Geert Wilders or Italian fascist groups like Casa Pound?
Second trap: what do we exactly mean by workers? I won’t elaborate on this subject but it’s obvious that clear-cut class definitions are essential to define a radical antifascist policy. Therefore it should not surprise us that antifascism leads to unproductive alliances if they rest on vague concepts like “the people,” progressists, Republicans, democrats, etc.
Third trap, implicit in today’s debate formulation: how can we measure the influence of this “Far Right” over workers, outside electoral results which are always biased?
I’m active in a Parisian working class district hosting an important foreign population. Our network tries to help undocumented foreign workers to obtain their papers through legal actions and mobilizations in the schools, or to get them out of detention centers when they are arrested. So, in this district, I almost never come across French Far Right workers who openly express racist or fascist views. (I must admit though I often meet Chinese workers who express xenophobic ideas against Arabs or Africans, and vice versa, but as they are not allowed to vote and are not politically organized as a reactionary pressure group, it does not really concern today’s discussion.) My main sources of information about the National Front are either articles or books written by journalists, or social scientists, who have been temporarily active inside the National Front, either openly or under a fake identity. So from their experience, I can formulate some hypotheses about who are these workers active in the National Front, or who votes for this Far Right party, but obviously, I will not be able to give you a fully-argued answer to the question at the center of this debate.

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No borders no f...
May 25 2017 08:43

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