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Recent articles by Toulouse
This author has not submitted any other articles.Recent Articles about France / Belgium / Luxemburg Anti-fascism
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Against Fascism, Massive Disobedience, General Strike
france / belgium / luxemburg | anti-fascism | other libertarian press Friday November 18, 2005 19:19 by Toulouse - CNT AIT contact at cnt-ait dot info AIT c/o AAAFA BP 5 75860 PARIS Cedex 18 +33 5 61 52 86 48
In 2002 the people of France got together to vote for Chirac in order to build a barrier in the way of Fascism, but now we can see that a vote for Chirac was in fact a vote for Fascism. Several days ago the French State declared the Marseille transport strike illegal and On the 8th November it declared a State of Emergency. It is time to fight. The CNT-AIT will call a General Strike.
Several days ago the State declared the Marseille transport strike illegal.
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P>The footnote to this articles claims " some anarchist individuals and organizations (Alternative Libertaire, Anarchist Federation, CNT-Vignoles) called to vote Chirac at the second turn of the presidential elections, to make a barrier to fascism". With relation to Alternative Libertaire at least this claim appears to be false or at best a gross over simplication. Laurent, the international secretary of AL was interviewed by NEFAC and they asked him about this. This was published in "Northeastern Anarchist", no.6, the NEFAC magazine. His response clarifies the AL position.
AL: We didn't call to vote for Chirac. But we didn't call for abstention either. We called that not one voice, and in particular a worker's voice, be for Le Pen, which is totally different. We respect the autonomy of all local AL groups, and some took a position in favour of voting for Chirac, but that wasn't a majority position nationally. The militants of Alternative Libertaire are active and convinced anti-fascists, and we know that above all it is social struggles that can push back the far-right. That's mainly what we expressed, much more than on the fixed question in the second round of voting. A minority of militants from Alternative Libertaire, myself of them, think however that the ballot box can sometimes, when necessary, be an anti-fascist weapon, as during the last presidential elections.
AL: A position on elections is a totally secondary tactical decision compared to social struggles. It's quite surprising to see anarchists spending hours talking about elections when we give them so little importance. We think we have a non-dogmatic position about voting. Although we think nothing positive will come out of them for the exploited, we also think that very negative things can. We positioned ourselves on elections because we feel concerned by these issues. But we consider every situation, without any prior reasoning."
Incidentally I personally don't agree with Laurents position above or his attempt to write this off as a minor question. But it is important in such debates to honestly represent the position you are arguing against. Lying about it might make the 'debate' easier for you but it just means others will increasingly doubt other claims you might make in the future.
Unfortunately members of the French CNT-AIT already have a bad reputation in this respect - in the past they have been caught out lying about the anarcho-syndicalist union the Spanish CGT long after any chance that this could have been a misunderstanding have been cleared up. At this point in time I'm not inclined to take anything they say about another anarchist organisation anywhere at face value. The agenda served by delibertely spreading lies is not an anarchist one.
Apart from the interview with the NEFAC, AL also issued an official statement on this matter, in the name of "National Council of Collectives and Members of Alternative Libertaire". From the sounds of it THIS is the official position of the organization, and it is far from being what CNT AIT claim to be a call to vote for Chirac. I have roughly translated from French the appropriate section of the statement, but it would be worth reading the entire statement:
"Statement by the National Council of Collectives and Members of Alternative Libertaire, 18th May 2002
[...]Before the first round of the presidential elections we campaigned strongly for abstention, and we challenge anyone who blames us for this. We defend plurality of expression, and reject what the "Republican front" masks: a totalitarianism that condemns, in the name of the “useful” vote, all critical expression, abstentions, spoiled or blank votes, candidacies by the extreme left. We are also proud of our active involvement in the "discomfiting" of the institutional left at the time of the first round of the parliamentary election, through a national campaign by AL for political abstention; through involvement in several local and regional campaigns for abstention; [...] and finally by the "ça suffit!" [that's enough] campaign, which allied abstention and the blank vote, a joint campaign by AL, the "A Contre Courant" Collective and the members of Droits Devant!!
But it was clear that we could not mechanically reproduce the call for abstention in the second round. No dogma could conceal the gravity of the new situation created by the unexpected presence of Le Pen, and we refused to consider with contempt those who chose to block him at the polls. Even though the polls are not the place where one can eliminate the underlying reasons for his rise. And even though Chirac will bring to the presidency politics inspired by his adversary on May 5. Unlike other libertarian collectives, AL therefore decided not to call for abstention at the second round and, while denouncing the totalitarian consensus of the Republican Front and the crushing responsibilities of the whole left, concentrated its intervention on one objective: that on May 5 Le Pen's vote would be as small as possible ("Not one voice, and in particular no workers' voice, no unemployed person's voice, no "excluded"'s voice for the multi-millionaire Le Pen!") [...]"
One can share AL's tactical position, or one may decide not to, but there is no excuse for throwing around falsehoods or misrepresentations simply for sectarian purposes, to show how anarchist you are compared to someone else.
The AL position on the 2nd round bears some similarities with the position the CNT took in the 1936 elections - its widely held that the success of the left in those elections was partly due to the CNT not calling for an abstention but keeping silent. If I remember correctly the reason then was the hope that the left would be forced to free some of the 30,000 political prisoners.
While I'm not that keen on the AL position it makes some sense in the context of the 2nd round (which was Chirac via Le pen - the other candidates having been eliminated) I don't think I'd have been able to summon up much enthusism for a 'spoil your vote' campaign that probably would have helped Le Pen. I suspect I'd have found better ways to spend my time.