Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s 'The Era of the People': 'Citizens’ Revolution' and Ecosocialist Vision
[The people] are supposed to exercise power through parliamentary assemblies. But the financial oligarchy which rule our present situation have taken upon themselves the right to veto their decisions. This is why the system doesn’t fear the left, which it has been able to control … But it has a clear-headed fear of the people. Since it is the people who directly and physically contend with them for power with a spontaneous program that is the negation of the established order. -- Jean-Luc Mélenchon
By Liam Flenady
Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal
Dec 10, 2014 - In October, Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s new book, The Era of the People (L’Ére du Peuple) was published. In it Mélenchon, until earlier this year the co-director of France’s Left Party (Parti de Gauche) and the 2012 presidential candidate for the Left Front (Front de Gauche), outlines “a theory of the citizens’ revolution” and the rationale for his new political project the Movement for the 6th Republic.
The relatively short tome (just under 150 pages) assembles sociological and cultural analysis, and reflections on geopolitical, economic and environmental themes in order to put the case that “the people” are the new social agent for the fundamental social change necessitated by the growing ecological crisis.
The Movement for the Sixth Republic (or M6R) is gaining support within France, with more than 70,000 now signed on to its online statement, including numerous public and political figures. Recent support from dissident Socialist Party members and Green Party members has broadened its support and legitimacy. On December 10, the new online social network was launched, which provides space for citizens to discuss, debate, propose ideas and actions, and organise themselves at a local level.
The campaign feeds into the heart of an ongoing debate in French politics that has threatened to destabilise the main political force to the left of the governing Socialist Party, the Left Front – a coalition of the Communist Party, the Left Party and other left forces. The debate initially centred on whether or not to form alliances with Socialist Party members during local elections, but now has become a fully fledged debate about the status of the established left and the strategy for anti-capitalist struggle and staving off the rise of the far right in France.
‘The left can die’
The first chapter is titled “The left can die”, ironically quoting Prime Minister Manuel Valls, and it opens with the provocation: “Here is the first political fact with which we must work: there no longer exists any global political force in the face of the invisible party of globalised finance.” The old left of social democracy is dead, welcome to the era of the people.
The general attack on social democracy quickly becomes a sharp critique of the ruling Socialist Party in France, with Mélenchon denouncing current president François Hollande for being worse than his right-wing predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy. Mélenchon spends some time apologising for his support for Hollande in the second round of the presidential elections in 2012, saying, “I would have never believed that he would betray his electors so quickly, so massively, so totally.”
Mélenchon savages Hollande, outlining a huge list of the president’s crimes, from immediately backing down on his promise to renegotiate the fiscal pact, to giving 40 billion euros to the CAC 40 (a French stock index), to allowing joblessness and homelessness to rise, increasing the pension age, blocking Bolivia’s President Evo Morales from French airspace at the behest of the US government, his support for Benjamin Netanyahou when Israel was committing war crimes in Gaza. Despite positioning himself, during his presidential campaign, as “an enemy of finance” Hollande has been one of the most active leaders in Europe opposing a tax on financial transactions.(more...)