From the 15th to the 18th of September, Red Youth attended the international “leftist” political festival in Paris, Fête de l’Humanité.
The festival was largely dominated by the French Communist Party (the PCF), and their deeply rooted revisionism was immediately apparent. Not a single one of their stalls, of which a handful could be found on every road you went down, dared to mention armed struggle, Leninism, solidarity with the DPRK, etc., etc. Sure, Cuba and China were there at the festival too, but these are the countries that have been, for the most part, socially accepted by the west – countries like the DPRK which are under constant scrutiny and incrimination by the western media are the countries that need help in getting some positive exposure. Instead the PCF focused their attention on brandishing the images of Che and Marx around much like the liberals that haven’t read a word of their writings, as desensitized, anti-revolutionary icons of complacency.
In similarity with the SWP in Britain, the PCF also claimed to be genuine followers of Lenin’s theory, with his face being plastered everywhere (although notably nowhere near the central stage where all the major “Marxist” speakers were having their debates about absolutely nothing). At least we didn’t see Trotsky’s mug anywhere. It seems as if France doesn’t have a particularly strong Trotskyite movement in their country, but that rather the entire Communist movement has been kept docile under the weight of the PCF, whom’s ideological parallel over here would be the CPB – a directionless organisation with no real reason for existence, and no intention of establishing socialism in either of their countries. As a result of the PCF’s dominance, most of the Marxist-Leninists in France are either dissidents from within the party or have organised factional “sects” that have no hope of ever forming a vanguard for the French proletariat.
The closest thing we saw to Marxism-Leninism at the festival was at the stall of the Revolutionary Communist Party of France (the PCRF), a recently formed organisation of supposed Marxist-Leninists who split from the PCF last year. From what we read of their literature their theory was decent enough, and whilst they were the only organisation brave enough to use Stalin as part of their imagery, they unfortunately hung his face up at the back of the stall in a relatively small size, as if shamefully trying to hide their support of revolutionary theory so as to keep their spot at the festival.
Fête de l’Humanité was definitely a learning experience for Red Youth, and one which only confirmed the unfortunate assumptions made of Europe’s popular movements today. For the most part they don’t seem to have managed to abandon the Eurocommunist attitude of reformism and stagnation – and whilst Marxism-Leninism does seem to be growing in France (we met a group of young Marxist-Leninists who themselves had problems with the PCRF, as well as other promising young Communists), as it seems to be doing around the world, Europe still has a long way to go before it can consider itself ready to begin the arduous task of agitation for revolution. It reminded us of how lucky we are in Britain to not only have Red Youth to help encourage young people to learn more about the world in which they live, but also the CPGB-ML, as one of the few genuinely anti-revisionist, anti-imperialist, Marxist-Leninist organisations in Europe.
We’d like to thank Sinn Féin for giving us a place to sleep for the night whilst we were there – apologies if we weren’t entirely enthused by the whole event!