Ce que Marat peut nous apprendre sur la militance en 2013

La lecture des révolutionnaires français a l’avantage sur celle des révolutionnaires d’autres époques d’être plus agréable, dûe au style de la langue de l’époque, qui n’a probablement jamais été dépassé depuis. La biographie des intéressés y contribue aussi – on peut ainsi parcourir avec effarement les Oeuvres complètes de Saint-Just en collection Folio, et se rendre compte qu’elles font environ 1.300 pages, et que Saint-Just fut conventionnel et membre du Comité de salut public avant de mourir guillotiné avec Robespierre le 10 thermidor de l’an II à l’âge de… 27 ans.

L’actualité de leurs écrits ne cesse de frapper le lecteur, comme ce passage de Jean-Paul Marat, l’ami du peuple (nom de son journal, publié quasi-quotidiennement jusqu’à son assassinat par la royaliste Charlotte Corday, et que l’on trouve intégralement sur l’extraordinaire site de la Bibliothèque nationale de France, Gallica)

O mes concitoyens, hommes frivoles et insouciants, qui n’avez de suite ni dans vos idées, ni dans vos actions, qui n’agissez que par boutades, que pour chasser un jour avec intrépidité les ennemis de la patrie, et qui le lendemain vous abandonnerez aveuglément à leur foi, je vous tiendrai en haleine, et, en dépit de votre légèreté, vous serez heureux, ou je ne serai plus. (L’Ami du Peuple, n° 28 du 8/10/1789)

Comment ne pas se sentir personnellement visé, ni sentir les ravages de la facilité d’utilisation des réseaux sociaux, qui pour beaucoup remplace le travail politique réel? Et comment ne pas penser à l’Egypte, qui célèbre l’armée le 3 juillet 2013 après l’avoir chassée (enfin, presque) du pouvoir en juin 2012?

On ne lit pas assez les classiques.

A working class hero was something to be, or so they say

FMR STIK1MODIF

Sur Florange, site sidérurgique faisant l’objet d’un plan dit social de son propriétaire indien, Arcelor Mittal, et Longwy, cité anciennement sidérurgique en Lorraine, bastion communiste et syndical, cet article (ancien) des Inrockuptibles (« Full Mittal racket« ). Florilège:

S’ils ne redémarrent pas, après les dernières mines fermées dans les années 90, un second maillon de la chaîne de l’acier disparaîtra totalement de la région.

“La gauche et la droite, c’est pareil”, résume un ancien qui a vécu quantité de fermetures d’usines.

Cette phrase, mot pour mot, nombre d’ouvriers la prononcent. Marcel*, 46 ans, nous la crache avant même de préciser qu’il pointe au chômage depuis deux mois. “Moi je me battrai pas pour la France en cas de guerre”, ajoute l’homme, rencontré à moins de dix kilomètres de Florange, devant les Restos du coeur de Gandrange. Cet ancien contrôleur de la qualité de l’acier, qui ne se déplace qu’à vélo, a été licencié en 2002 par son usine située non loin, à Joeuf. Depuis, il vivote avec de petits boulots et passe ici prendre de la nourriture, “uniquement les fins de mois. C’est pas bon pour le moral de se sentir assisté”.

Le golf et la société du spectacle ont remplacé l’aciérie:

Aujourd’hui, un cinéma multiplex et son parking ont effacé l’ancienne aciérie visitée par Johnny. Outre un musée, l’une des dernières traces de ce passé sidérurgique de la ville se situe au niveau du panneau “200 mètres” du practice du nouveau golf.

Et à l’usine Peugeot d’Aulnay, menacée de fermeture en 2014, l’heure est aux syndicats jaunes:

Il y a plus d’un an, le SIA (Syndicat indépendant de l’automobile, 40% de voix aux élections du CE) accepte de participer à l’intersyndicale aux côtés de la CGT (deuxième syndicat de PSA Aulnay avec 35%)*. Tous deux politiquement et stratégiquement opposés, les premières dissensions apparaissent depuis plusieurs semaines.

Historiquement, à Aulnay, le SIA est lié à la direction. Ce syndicat descend de la CSL (Confédération des syndicats libres), allié au patronat pour briser les grèves et casser le syndicalisme lié au PC. La direction d’Aulnay – du temps de Citroën – considérait les syndicats comme une plaie. En 1982, les ouvriers immigrés y mènent une grève victorieuse pour la liberté syndicale – ce qui fit bondir la CGT de 9 à 57% et baisser le CSL de 82% à 33%. En 1984, un plan de 800 licenciements décapite la CGT. En 2002, le CSL devient la SIA. « Ce syndicat est traditionnellement la courroie de transmission des messages managériaux de la direction aux salariés« .

Le magazine rappelle que si les fermetures d’usine à Longwy ont commencé sous le premier ministre giscardien Raymond Barre, le socialiste (?) Laurent Fabius en avait accéléré le rythme entre 84 et 86. Il est vrai que les socialistes européens se préoccuppent désormais surtout de ce que dira d’eux The Economist ainsi que du respect intégral du catéchisme de Bruxelles. Et pour tenter de garder quelques voix dans l’électorat populaire, il y aura toujours le foulard islamique ou les demandeurs d’asile pour faire diversion.

Et ce n’est pas qu’en France: chez nous, au Maroc, l’USFP compte ses bastions électoraux, lors des éléctions législatives, en zones rurales, et ses élus sont des notables. Quant à Fathallah Oualalou et Habib El Malki, il y a longtemps que l’avis de la CGEM, des chambres de commerce ou des agences de notation est celui qui détermine réellement leur orientation économique. Il fut un temps, que les moins de quarante ans ne peuvent pas comprendre, où l’USFP pouvait menacer le pouvoir, c’est-à-dire le makhzen, c’est-à-dire le Roi, d’une grève générale (pour les jeunes, voir un bon dictionnaire pour le sens de ce mot).

Post-scriptum: après avoir publié la première version de ce post, je trouve dans ce même (ancien) numéro des Inrockuptibles un autre article le passage suivant, détaillant la réunion entre des syndicalistes de l’usine Ford de Blanquefort et deux conseillers d’Arnaud Montebourg:

Pour Philippe Poutou, “même si c’est déjà bien d’être reçu, la réunion n’a rien apporté au niveau du contenu. Ils se demandaient ce que l’on allait faire lors de la manif au Mondial de l’auto et nous ont demandé d’être ‘responsables’. Mais c’est la pression des salariés qui permet que les choses bougent”. Gilles Penel, élu du CE, la cinquantaine et depuis plus de vingt ans chez Ford, présent à Bercy, a senti “une certaine impuissance”. Frappé par la jeunesse des conseillers,“qui n’ont jamais dû mettre les pieds dans une usine”, il voit là “deux mondes vraiment très éloignés”.

* La CGT est historiquement liée au Parti communiste français, même si les liens sont aujourd’hui distendus du fait de la disparition effective du PCF sur la scène politique nationale française (le parti est présent localement, au travers d’élus locaux et de quelques députés, le plus souvent députés-maires).

Si toi aussi tu trouves le protocole royal marocain trop irrespectueux envers le monarque…

Depuis l’avènement de Mohammed VI, le baise-main tant décrié n’est plus vraiment obligatoire (à vrai dire, même du temps de son père il ne l’était pour certaines personnalités religieuses ou âgées), mais seuls ceux n’ayant aucun plan de carrière se paient le luxe de ne pas en faire au Roi. Malgré de beaux restes notamment vis-à-vis de Moulay Hassan, tout fout le camp, et il n’est guère étonnant que des gueux prennent les rues pour demander plus – Dieu merci, nos forces de l’ordre sont là pour y mettre le holà.

Je me suis dit que trop de liberté tue la liberté. Peut-être devrions-nous nous inspirer de la Thaïlande, où la monarchie n’est pas un vain mot et où le délit de lèse-majesté est sévèrement puni – non pas de cinq ans maximum comme au Maroc mais jusqu’à quinze ans, et où leurs autorités judiciaires ne craignent pas, contrairement au Maroc, d’enfermer des Occidentaux imprudents qui se seraient laissés aller à quelque nonchalance avec le respect dû au Roi…

Voici donc comment la premier ministre Yingluck Shinawatra, élue au suffrage universel dans un pays traversé par une révolte populaire dite des chemises rouges – pauvres et paysans menés par son frère Thaksin Shinawatra, ex-premier ministre déposé par l’armée – contre les chemises jaunes (proches du Palais), est amenée à exprimer publiquement et officiellement son respect pour son Roi et sa religion – puisse le Maroc en prendre de la graine, au lieu de céder aux sirènes du malheur salafo-chiite!

La Premier ministre thaïlandaise en audience avec le Roi.

Le premier ministre Yingluck Shinawatra, en uniforme, prosternée devant un autel bouddhiste.

La premier ministre thaïlandaise Yingluck Shinawatra accroupie pour parler à un moine bouddhiste.

La premier ministre thaïlandaise Yingluck Shinawatra à une autre cérémonie bouddhiste.

Suite de la même cérémonie que précédemment.

La premier ministre Yingluck Shinawatra, au garde à vous et en uniforme devant le Roi Bhumibol.

Une autre audience royale…

Les images qui suivent méritent quelques explications: le premier ministre Yingluck Shinawatra se prosterne devant un simple portrait royal, à deux occasions – sa nomination et l’obtention d’une décoration royale. Je ne sais pas pourquoi ces cérémonies n’ont pas eu lieu in vivo avec le Roi, si ce n’est qu’il est âgé (84 ans) et malade.

La premier ministre thaïlandaise Yingluck Shinawatra devant un portrait du Roi Bhamibul.

La premier ministre salue le portrait du Roi.

La premier ministre Yingluck Shinawatra se prosternant devant le portrait du Roi de Thaïlande.

La même prosternation que précédemment.

Quand je dis que le premier ministre Yingluck Shinawatra se prosterne, c’est vraiment de cela qu’il s’agit.

Mais la cerise sur le gâteau ce sont les photos suivantes, où le premier ministre Yingluck Shinawatra rend l’hommage protocolaire à la Reine…

La premier ministre thaïlandaise se prosterne devant la Reine Sirikit.

Suite de la prosternation.

Merci à Meurseault pour l’inspiration!

« One change we can begin to observe, though, is in the role of Jewish donors »

Phil Weiss (he’s behind the indispensable blog MondoWeiss, very critical of the United States’ pro-Israel policies) has repeated this often enough: the key factor behind the Jewish community’s influence in US politics is not so much electoral (although Jewish voters still play an important role in some swing states such as Florida) as financial – Jews figure prominently among the main donors of US politics. Since the US Supreme Court considered independent electoral expenditure from companies to be covered by the free speech rules of the US Constitution in a very controversial 2010 judgment (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission), the role of money donations in US politics, already huge, is set to expand further.

Witness then the following consideration on the role of Jewish donors post-Citizens United, from The Jewish Daily Forward:

This remaking of the campaign finance system will reshuffle our politics in ways that no one can yet predict. One change we can begin to observe, though, is in the role of Jewish donors. They’ve long been a mainstay of Democratic politics. Their footprint on the GOP side is traditionally smaller. The super PAC phenomenon is already boosting Jewish donors’ importance in the Republican Party by several orders of magnitude.

The Forward’s Josh Nathan-Kazis reported in March on Jewish giving to the biggest super PAC, the pro-Romney Restore Our Future, which had raised a total of $36 million at the time (as of April 23 it’s reached $52 million). At the time, he reported, Jews had provided about 10% of the PAC’s total revenues.

Moreover, he noted, several of the pro-Romney PAC’s Jewish donors were former Democratic donors who switched sides this year, presumably because of disenchantment with the president. If that continues and becomes a trend, it will have serious implications for the future.

Scanning the broader super PAC field, the impact is even more striking. Of 25 Republican super PAC donors who have given $1 million or more, four or five are Jewish (depending on whether you count Sheldon and Miriam Adelson separately, as the FEC and IRS do). The Adelsons, in fact, are the largest single donors in American politics, accounting for a total of $26.5 million in gifts in this campaign between the two of them and their three daughters. Most of their gifts, $21.5 million, went to the pro-Gingrich Winning Our Future PAC. The other $5 million went to the pro-GOP Congressional Leadership Fund.

Three other Jewish GOP donors gave $1 million each: hedge fund operators Paul Singer and John Paulson to the pro-Romney PAC and bingo king Irving Moskowitz to Karl Rove’s American Crossroads. Another three Jewish donors gave between $1 million and $2 million each to Democratic super PACs: movie mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg, real estate investor Amy Goldman and hedge fund operator James Simons.

This makes for a double-blow to the Democrats. On one hand, the super PACs’ potential benefit to Republicans seems incalculable. Only 10% of Forbes magazine’s 400 wealthiest American billionaires had given by late March. Another 360 wait to be tapped.

No less alarming, Republicans are faring better than Democrats among wealthy Jews (including those giving less than $1 million). That’s unprecedented.

And if Obama manages to make up the shortfall through small online donations, a feat he mastered in 2008, what are the implications for Jewish influence in the Democratic Party?

On the other hand, what if these new Jewish mega-donors become a force within the GOP? Most of them appear to be entrepreneurs and investors alienated by Obama’s fiscal policies. Many are outspokenly progressive on issues like abortion, gay rights and the environment. If they end up gaining the clout their donations suggest, then liberals might have to rethink their fear and loathing of the other party. Watch the money. (Forward.com)

What this portends for US politics in the Middle East, and on Palestine, is another matter – there are other constituencies to accommodate, such as the evangelical voters (pro-Israeli for religious reasons) and the oil lobby – not to mention the slump in US influence in the region evident during the 2011 Arab spring. More importantly, the cracks within the Jewish community are getting wider: apart from J-Street, seen as a liberal (in the US sense) competitor to AIPAC, the internal criticism of the blindly pro-Israel slant of US diplomacy in the Middle East has seldom been stronger, with even mainstream media talking heads – Thomas Friedman and Peter Beinart are the latest ones – stepping out of line. And many of the most vocal critics of Israel and supporters of the BDS movement are from within the Jewish community – Phil WeissGlenn GreenwaldMax BlumenthalNaomi Klein (she’s Canadian), not to mention Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein, who are not in favour of BDS.

One last comment: one has to commend a Jewish community paper like Forward for writing such a candid article. You will not be reading anything resembling that in the NYT or the WaPo anytime soon – not to mention the European press, where the understandable reluctance to use themes  – such as that of « Jewish money » – regrettably reminescent of the 30’s has stifled even  descriptive, balanced and nuanced media work on the political role of some Jewish operators – in France for instance, more space is devoted to Muslim umbrella groups UOIF and CFCM, and less compunction is displayed when writing about them, than to their Jewish counterpart CRIF. Let’s hope an evolution is under way for casual discussion of issues related to Jews and Muslims, without falling into the twin traps of anti-semitism and islamophobia.

La fillette en vert

Ca fait longtemps que j’ai voulu écrire ce post. Je ne suis pas un pacifiste radical: je ne suis contre l’existence d’une défense nationale, sous contrôle démocratique et sur la base du service militaire, aux seules fins de défendre le territoire national et – éventuellement – participer aux opérations de maintien de la paix de l’ONU. J’ai fait mon service militaire sans objection de conscience. Il y a trop de cas où la résistance armée est la seule alternative pour s’opposer à une agression armée pour que je cède au pacifisme intégral, dont je ne suis pas sûr qu’il soit toujours moral (la lecture de « Human smoke » de Nicholson Baker avec les nombreuses citations de Gandhi qui y figurent ne m’ont pas convaincu de la justesse de cette idéologie).  Je me rappelle une citation d’un dialogue socratique (je crois) lue dans un ouvrage d’André Glucksmann lu durant ma période néo-conservatrice, « La force du vertige » (véritable ode à l’arme atomique et brûlot anti-pacifiste), qui disait en gros que d’un point de vue moral, tuer était pire que d’être tué et que la position la plus morale consistait à ne même pas tuer pour se défendre. Cette citation m’a marqué tout autant qu’elle ne m’a pas convaincu, alors même qu’elle est logiquement imparable.

L’évolution des guerres dites d’intervention humanitaire ou de prévention, des assassinats ciblés et de l’usage des drones m’a rendu infiniment moins tolérant du discours justificateur de la guerre, qui se pare toujours d’arguments moraux – tuer pour défendre la civilisation, pour lutter contre le mal, pour faciliter la scolarisation des filles afghanes, cela ne me convainc plus. Le libéralisme B-52 (ma traduction approximative de l’expression suédoise bombhögern, littéralement la droite bombardière), qui trouve normal de bombarder un pays bougnoule ou slave quelconque afin d’y apporter les bienfaits de l’humanisme libéral, très peu pour moi. Il y assez d’humanistes et de libéraux prêts à bombarder des Afghans afin de les libérer pour qu’ils n’aient pas besoin de mon aide morale.

Puis vient un moment où je suis au-delà des mots et de la raison, ou je me sens infiniment plus proche de Gandhi que de n’importe qui d’autre. Un de ces moments a été il y a quelques semaines, en lisant le compte-rendu de cet attentat commis le 6 décembre contre un lieu de culte chiite en Afghanistan (apparemment par un groupe terroriste pakistanais), ayant fait des dizaines de morts – et surtout cette photo prise par le photographe afghan Massoud Hossaini, présent sur place, et qui a pleuré tout en prenant des photos. La fille en vert s’appelle Tarana Akbari. Je ne connais pas le nom de la fille en noir ni des enfants morts que l’on voit sur cette photo. Tarana a perdu un frère dans cette explosion.

Père de deux fillettes de l’âge de Tarana, cette image m’est particulièrement insoutenable. N’était-ce le destin de leur lieu de naissance…

Je hais ces mensonges, je hais ces belles phrases, je hais les puissants qui les prononcent et les moins puissants qui les répètent, je hais ces éditorialistes prêts à se battre pour l’Afghanistan jusqu’au dernier Afghan. Je hais la guerre.

PS: J’ai été particulièrement touché en lisant les propos du photographe, interrogé par Al Jazeera:

Would you leave Afghanistan?

It’s a very difficult question for me. Part of me, like so many others, wants to leave and live in peace.

Then I ask myself, if  I were to leave, ‘what would the name Massoud Hossaini mean?’ Now it means a professional photographer recognised by the government. Everyone knows me as a professional Afghan photographer. They know I will be there to document the scene.

If I leave what will I become?

Quick thoughts on the Tunisian revolution

I have been planning a more substantial post on the revolution in Tunisia these last days but my twitter addiction has temporarily put that notion to rest. You’ll have to do with these few lines instead.

1. Impossible to put words on my admiration for the heroic people of Tunisia – the street vendors, the unemployed, the workers, the housewives, the schoolchildren, the students, the civil servants, the lawyers, the doctors and nurses, the dissidents (in Tunisia and abroad) who collectively rose up and toppled Benali’s hated dictatorship – in fact, they overcame 55 straight years of dictatorship. But the martyrs should be mentioned first, and first of all Mohamed Bouazizi, the unemployed graduate turned street vendor whose tragic decision to set himself on fire also set the whole country on fire.

2. The speed of Benali’s collapse has been surprising – although I am on record as recognising this as a revolution and not a mere revolt one week ago, I hadn’t envisaged that he would have left power by the week-end. But if his personal rule is well over now, the same cannot be said of the RCD’s (Rassemblement constitutionnel démocratique) control of the political apparatus. Benali’s totalitarian rule not only didn’t allow for any opposition, it even turned against the  mildly critical and even the indifferent. Everything – from politics to religion and including sports and economics – was firmly under wraps.

Tunis airport renamed Mohamed Bouazizi airport

3. I have been surprised by the stiff armed resistance of RCD dead-enders (to borrow an infamous term) after Benali’s departure. I had expected the security apparatus to fold once Benali left power and the country, but I had apparently seriously underestimated the criminal, mafia-like aspect of Benali’s power. The dead-enders, close to Benali’s infamous family in law (the Trabelsi clan) seem to be motivated less by political motives than by criminal ones – looting and random shooting would not seem the best way to keep a stake in Tunisia’s new political scene. What seems particularly worrying is the embrace apparently given to these lawless militias by colonel Muammar Kadhafi – media reports tell us the benalist militias are tryin to flee to the south of the country in order to cross the border to Libya, where rumor says they could find a safe haven. The new (?) régime in Tunisia could soon have a serious public order issue on its hands – control of the borders with Libya, from which the armed militias could launch armed raids. I hope that this is only the result of the feverish imagination of this blogger – otherwise this could pave the way for foreign intervention in Tunisia, with US/NATO assistance to help Tunisia’s new government repel such a threat.

4. While we’re on the subject of foreign intervention, have you noticed how irrelevant all foreign actors were to this revolution? It took the EU High Representative, Baroness Ashton, three weeks to react – on Jan. 10 – to a popular uprising in a totalitarian state with which the EU has an association agreement, and as for the US, Hillary Clinton pledged neutrality between the parties in presence a few days before the toppling of Benali – and in order to keep this post free of four-letter words, I will not even mention the French government’s stance. Their support to the revolution would have been appreciated, and might possibly have hastened the outcome and/or limited the bloodshed. More likely, had Europe and the US intervened earlier on, they might have pressured Benali into accepting much earlier the cosmetic reforms – scrapping Internet censorship nad letting a few independent or opposition personalities into his government – he himself decided on in his speech the day before his fall. This would likely have postponed or even aborted the demise of Benali.

As for their role now, the Tunisians would be well advised to be circumspect. The uprising was caused initially by the social problems facing Tunisia’s youth, unemployment being the main one – to which we should add the inequal repartition of income aggravated by 25 years of adherence to the Washington consensus. While all realistic economic alternatives for Tunisia will include some degree of openess to world economy and to Tunisia’s major – European and Arab – trade and investment partners, the new government might want to chart a more independent course to economic development.

Tunisia basically has a choice ahead: whether to continue as the IMF’s, the World Bank’s and Europe’s alleged best pupil in the Arab classroom, with the mixed resultsthat are plain for everyone to see, or to decide for itself, according to its own interests and sovereign decisions, what path and what policies to adopt, whether it be in the foreign policy, domestic policy or economic policy fields. Tunisia can chose to be like Turkey, Brazil, India or Malaysia, or it can pursue in its post-colonial striving for acceptance and the occasional pat on the head by its Western partners, a path followed by Jordan or Morocco with limited success.

I’m not particularly interested at this stage of how the US and Europe’s irrelevance reflects on these two actors – suffice it to say that the US influence in the MENA region seems to have peaked in 2003/2005, and has since then slided in a dramatic fashion – Bashar el Assad now squarely back on the Middle East scene and with régime change in Syria a long-forgotten fantasy, Iraq turned back to a nationalist government with shia leader Moqtada Sadr poised to be the coming man of the next few years, Hezbollah stronger than ever on the Lebanese scene – and even Hamas hanging on to power in Gaza – none of the US strategic objectives have been achieved, and its ability to reach them seems weakened, not strenghtened. As for Europe’s relevance to political developments in the MENA, the least said the better, and don’t even get me started on France.

5. The so-called « national unity government » has been appointed today – the interior (Ahmed Friaa), defense (Ridha Grira), finance (Mohamed Ridha Chalghoum), planfication & international co-operation (Mohamed Nouiri Jouini) and foreign (Kamel Morjane, an in-law relative of Benali’s) ministers of Benali’s last government keep their jobs, and a motley crew of independent personalities (among them film director Moufida Tlatli and blogger Slim Amamou), technocrats, trade-union leaders (including 3 leaders of the UGTT) as well as leaders of three legal opposition parties - Nejib Chebbi of the PDP,  Ahmed Brahim of post-communist Ettajdid and Mustapha ben Jaafar of the Forum démocratique pour le travail et les libertés (FDTL) - have be given portfolios. The trade minister, Afif Chelbi, would be given the energy portfolio. It’s worth to point out that the interim president, Fouad Mebazaa, former speaker of Parliament, is a long-standing RCD MP, minister under Bourguiba and Benali, member of the RCD politburo and he was fully trusted by Benali, while the prime minister Mohammed Ghannouchi has had a long ministerial career under Benali and was in fact his last prime minister as well as the vice-president of the RCD. For all practical purposes, this is the kind of government that Benali could have appointed himself had he had more brains – his last speech actually outlined exactly this sort of government, and he actually met with some opposition members before being deposed.

Most noteworthy of all is the fact that no leaders of opposition parties banned under Benali’s rule - the marxist-leninist Parti communiste des ouvriers de Tunisie (PCOT), led by Hamma Hammami, the Congrès pour la république led by reformist intellectual Moncef Marzouki and more importantly islamist Ennahda, led by exiled islamist thinker Rachid Ghannouchi - have apparently been invited to either the talks on the transition government or the government itself. This is a worrying signal, on top of being counter-productive: while Tunisia has never held free and fair elections, the least tainted ones were held in 1989, and Ennahda candidates standing as independents garnered between a quarter and a third of the votes in the constituencies where they stood. Ennahda is in that sense the largest opposition party that Tunisia has ever had (the UGTT trade-union was a de facto opposition under the leadership of Habib Achour under much of the 70’s and 80’s, but it never set itself up as a political party).

Now, things have changed in Tunisia since 1989: there’s absolutely no way of of saying whether Ennahda would be as popular today, as its leadership has been either imprisoned or exiled. Ennahda has even stated it doesn’t want to field a candidate in the coming presidential elections, in a move akin to the prudent and progressive approach that its Moroccan sister-party the PJD took to electoral participation in order not to frighten the francophone and secular élite, less well-entrenched in Morocco than it is in Tunisia. It is however futile to deny that it forms a part of Tunisia’s political and ideological landscape – any ostracism of Ennahda or the non-violent islamist movement would be benalism without Benali.

6. While the protests in Tunisia really have taken a revolutionary turn, the aftermath of Benali’s demise is strangely stuck in the constitutional and institutional tracks of Benali’s dictatorship. The first interim president was designated as the prime minister, Mohammed Ghannouchi on Friday evening, on the basis of article 56 of the Tunisian constitution providing for temporary replacement of the president – the day after, the Conseil constitutionnel decided that the president was permanently unable to exercise his official functions, and appointed the speaker of the Chamber of Deputies as interim president in accordance with article 57 of the Constitution. According to that article, fresh presidential elections need to be held within 45 and 60 days from that day.

This poses quite some problems. Firstly, the Tunisian Constitution has not been adopted democratically – the 1959 Constitution was adopted by a constitutional assembly that wasn’t freely elected, and the 2002 constitutional referendum wasn’t free either. Secondly, many of its provisions would hinder rather than facilitate constitutional change.  The 60-days deadline to hold presidential elections would render very difficult the holding of truly democratic and pluralistic elections: article 66 of the electoral code states that presidential candidates need 30 signatures from members of the Chamber of Deputies or of presidents of city councils – only the RCD has more than 30 deputies in the current Chamber…

Article 66 of the electoral code is furthermore strenghtened by article 40 of Tunisia’s Constitution, which states that candidates to the presidential election have to get the signatures of a number of deputies as per electoral law – meaning that this legal requirement may only be lowered, but not scrapped altogether as the Constitution requires this. A referendum would be necessary to delete this constitutional requirement (see articles 76 to 78 of the Constitution) – an unlikely prospect.

Furthermore, such a short time-span would advantage the RCD or what’s left of it, still in possession of cadres and logistics. The parties that were banned under Benali will find it impossible to organise for an electoral campaign on such short notice – supposing of course they would get the 30 signatures. Would a government where key functions are held by RCD stalwarts and a Parliament still overwhelmingly RCD play it fair and scrap article 66 of the electoral code – and legalise the banned parties?

The Tunisian people have ousted the dictator, but they haven’t yet got rid of his institutional and political legacy. This is just the beginning, if democracy is to take hold.

Another extreme right-wing, racist party turns pro-Israel

Just read this on Bartholomew’s indispensable blog: the English Defence League, an islamophobic (they resent that assertion though) tinpot sect adding to the acronyms on the lunatic fringe of the British extreme right wing, is said to have taken part in a pro-Israel demonstration organised by the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland in front of the Israeli embassy in London on June 2, in support to the Israeli government’s handling of the Gaza flotilla affair:

There were about 2000 of us, including the EDL, JewishEDL set up by the wondrous Joe Bloggs who set up the LGBT EDL. (Juniper in the Desert)

The Jewish Chronicle denies this however:

Rumours that the English Defence League were planning to attend the demonstration appeared to be unfounded. One EDL member was spotted by protesters on the other side of the street but he did not join the throng (…) Israel Connect’s David Cohen expressed his relief that the EDL did not make an appearance, saying: “We wouldn’t have stood for it, and nor would the police or the CST.”(The Jewish Chronicle)

While the EDL’s participation in that particular demonstration is not averred, they otherwise bend over backwards to make public their devotion to Israel – mind you, even the neo-nazi BNP has made vociferous, pro-Israel noises. Their advances have been rejected by the mainstream Jewish organisations, however.

Nothing really new: they’re fond of Israeli flags (oddly enough – not many nationalist movements raise foreign flags) – for instance in Birmingham last September at on the rooftop of the Dudley mosque in April this year

The English Defence League displays its affection for Israel - Birmingham, September 6 2009

Two EDL militants on the Dudley mosque rooftop, April 30, 2010.

Well, if one is to judge by the haircut of their most enthusiastic supporters, some incredulity as to the EDL’s protestation against being labelled a racist and extreme right-wing party might be called for:

The English Defence League, which started in Luton last year, has become the most significant far-right street movement in the UK since the National Front in the 1970s. A Guardian investigation has identified a number of known rightwing extremists who are taking an interest in the movement – from convicted football hooligans to members of violent rightwing splinter groups.

Thousands of people have attended its protests – many of which have descended into violence and racist and Islamophobic chanting. Supporters are split into « divisions » spread across the UK and as many as 3,000 people are attracted to its protests.

The group also appears to be drawing support from the armed forces. Its online armed forces division has 842 members and the EDL says many serving soldiers have attended its demonstrations. A spokeswoman for the EDL, whose husband is a serving soldier, said: « The soldiers are fighting Islamic extremism in Afghanistan and Iraq and the EDL are fighting it here … Not all the armed forces support the English Defence League but a majority do. » (The Guardian)

 

The Guardian’s thorough investigation is damning – a must-read.

This recent phenomenon of extreme right-wing flirtation with Israel is a growing trend in Europe. The first populist and xenophobic right-wing politician to discard any hint of anti-semitism or fascist nostalgia and to openly embrace Israel was probably (1) Netherland’s Pim Fortuyn, who set the tone for the current trend: he was openly gay, secular, paid lip-service to gender equality and limited his xenophobia to Muslim immigrants. He’s been joined now – after his death – by his fellow countryman Geert Wilders and his PVV, Danish Pia Kjaersgaard and her Dansk Folkparti, while Filip Dewinter and his Vlaams Belang (formerly Vlaams Blok) and Jimmie Åkesson and his Sverigedemokraterna have had more trouble distancing themselves from a murkier past.

For these right-wing parties and politicians to embrace Israel – apart from the fact that it might reflect a personal choice – has of course the desirable effect of shielding them from electorally and mediatically lethal comparisons with their garrulous predecessors. Anti-semitism being the most universally rejected form of racism in Western Europe, being linked to the old ways of fascism is a considerable drawback for any party taking electoral competition seriously. France’s Jean-Marie Le Pen might be the odd  (2) here, but even he made a few moves towards Israel and the Jewish community – to the extent that the former chairman of the CRIF, the French Jewish community’s umbrella organisation, Roger Cukierman, hailed Le Pen’s stupendous score at the 2002 presidential elections as a « message » to France’s Muslim community « to keep quiet »

My previous posts on this subject:

- Quand l’extrême-droite scandinave soutient Israël (« When the Scandinavian extreme right-wing supports Israel);

- Nationale Sozialisten für Israel;

- Le Vlaams Belang invité en Israël: “ « Still, Israel is in a crucial struggle and can’t be choosy with allies now” «  (« The Vlaams Beang invited to Israel: « Still, Israel is in a crucial struggle… »);

(1) Norway’s Carl I Hagen and his Fremskrittspartiet could possibly also make that claim, although more conservative than Fortuyn.

(2) Austria and Germany are other obvious exceptions.

Suivre

Recevez les nouvelles publications par mail.

Rejoignez 110 autres abonnés

%d blogueurs aiment cette page :