There is currently a crisis in the French New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) of which our French comrades are a fraction known as “L’Etincelle” (The Spark). L’Etincelle, and by association Speak Out Now, have been the object of criticism by another fraction of the NPA, the Courant Communiste Revolutionnaire (CCR), which is the French section of the Trotskyist Fraction, linked in the U.S. to Left Voice. We publish here a translation of L’Etincelle’s response to this criticism which we whole-heartedly endorse.
Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot?
In a declaration of June 10, the comrades of the French organization CCR (Courant Communiste Revolutionnaire)/Revolution Permanente announced: “Having been expelled from the NPA [New Anticapitalist Party], we are engaging the process of building a new revolutionary organization.” A communiqué from the NPA leadership the next day stated that “No one has been expelled from the NPA“… The headline in Le Monde read: “Split or Expulsion? The NPA is shaken by an important internal crisis.” There is no doubt that this event is the result of a conflict. From the beginning, the Fraction l’Étincelle has affirmed its opposition to any expulsion and has wished for no one’s departure. Let us state specifically that the CCR was not expelled from the process of decision-making in the NPA, nor from the national conference deciding on the orientation and the candidate for the next presidential election. It preferred to remove itself in order to carry out its own experiment, running Anasse Kazib, as the candidate of their new party.
Casting us all into the dustbin of history?
We too have criticisms of the tendency that leads the NPA: concerning the electoral agreements made with FI (France Insoumise, the Party of Jean-Luc Melenchon) in the municipal elections in Bordeaux (which the CCR had supported), and then for the regional elections in New Aquitaine and Occitania (a policy that is not necessarily that of the majority); concerning a lack of orientation towards the working class and its struggles, or a political adaptation to the often limited objectives of the animators of feminist, anti-racist, environmentalist mobilizations, belonging to what this current calls the “social movement” (an adaptation that the CCR largely shares).
Whatever the relevance of the criticisms addressed by the CCR to the tendency that leads the NPA, it does not justify, in any case, that the NPA is definitively disqualified “as an effective tool in the service of the interests of our class“, as the CCR/Revolution Permanente declaration states. It also categorizes as disqualified the currents that continue to be active within the NPA (thank you for the article that targets us as well as others, published on June 12 on the Revolution Permanente website, on “The Political and Moral Collapse of the Left of the NPA”!) In passing, it disqualifies Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle) as well. It is an insult to all these militants. To us it seems both preposterous and foolhardy for CCR/ Revolution Permanenteto add its new little star (which it sees as a thousand times brighter than the others) to the galaxy of revolutionary and Trotskyist currents in France, where three currents dominate with roots deep enough to penetrate a few decades of history (LCR/NPA to make a long story short, Lutte Ouvrière, the Lambertists of the POI/POID… to which we should add certain libertarians and anarchists).
On the contrary, we think that the task is to campaign for us to stay together, to campaign for a regrouping of revolutionaries, to attempt to bring us closer to each other, to carry out comradely exchanges in order to prepare ourselves as well as possible for the period we have to face, made of shadow and light. The shadow, which descends on us from above, is represented by the shift to the right (racism, and the fascization of mindsets), from all the traditional political headquarters – from the extreme right and the right, but also from the so-called left, and this on an international scale. The light is coming from below, from the youth and workers of the planet who are engaged in massive and determined struggles that stand up to local dictators supported by the great imperialist powers, despite bloody repressions. This situation requires close links of trust and of politics between our different tendencies and experiences, rather than this headlong rush toward separation justified by the simple reason that we have done better than our neighbors in the social confrontations of recent years. This remains to be proven. The political competence of a revolutionary group is not measured, as the CCR does, by the number of members or signatories on a text.
We must gather our forces!
In our opinion, this is not the way – and in fact it is precisely the opposite of the way – that we pose the question of how we can build a “revolutionary workers’ party” in France (for the past twenty-five years this has been the subtitle of l’Étincelle’s workplace newsletters). We think that it is essential to function collectively as much as possible – which does not mean to dissolve our political differences. We were a fraction of Lutte Ouvrière (LO) until 2008, and then, excluded from LO, we became a fraction of the NPA beginning 2009, by conscious choice (and to a certain extent by the choice of these organizations). We do not believe that any one of these revolutionary organizations has ever represented by itself “the” revolutionary party, or even its only embryo (nor did they believe this), but we know that, thanks to the large-scale social and political mobilizations that are ahead of us, activists from these organizations will be the architects of such a party, along with many others of course!
The closer our exchanges (which does not mean serene!), the more experiences we share (which does not mean idyllic!), the more chances we will have to forge the “common understanding of the situation and the tasks” necessary to build a party. The comrades of the CCR can understand precisely what we mean by this, because this is the kind of experience we have had with them in the NPA through the recent struggles in the transportation sector – an association that has been both one of conflict and yet beneficial to our two currents.
Whatever criticisms can be made of the NPA, it has so far offered its various tendencies and fractions a framework that is both common and non-binding. Many (not us!) regret this who would like to constrain… the others! It is always the policies and practices of one’s neighbor that one would like to banish. What is certain is that within the NPA, as well as more widely within the extreme left, the experiences and public expressions have never been sufficiently discussed in order to obtain the maximum benefit for all. The improvement and the struggle to be led must go in this direction. To flee from discussion and to protect oneself from it by isolating oneself – what is called political sectarianism – is foreign to the history of Bolshevism-Leninism-Trotskyism… The real history, of course, not the history told by the bourgeoisie, the reformists or the Stalinists!
The Fraction l’Étincelle of the NPA, Monday June 14, 2021