June 2002 

Fascists, Conservatives and Reformists Vote for Police-State Laws

National Front At Forefront of Capitalist 
Drive Toward “Strong State” in France

Break with the Popular Front! Build a Trotskyist Party to 
Lead the Struggle for International Workers Revolution!

The presence of Jean-Marie Le Pen, Führer of the National Front (FN), in the run-off round of the French presidential elections stunned France and sent shock waves around Europe. The fact that a dyed-in-the-wool fascist could edge out Socialist prime minister Lionel Jospin in the first round of voting on April 21 was portrayed in the capitalist media as a stain on the national honor. Tens of thousands of high school students poured into the streets day after day to protest against Le Pen. The reformist left, from the Socialist (PS) and Communist (PCF) parties to the (not very) “far left,” cynically channeled this outrage into support for the notoriously corrupt conservative president Jacques Chirac. In the end, Chirac was re-elected with over 80 percent of the second-round votes. The fact that the “contest” for the highest office in the nation was waged on the slogan “Votez l’escroc, pas le facho” (Vote for the crook, not the fascist), speaks volumes about the fraudulent nature of bourgeois “democracy.” And the fact that the electoralist left ended up as vote-collectors for Chirac exposes the bankruptcy of  their “lesser evil” bourgeois politics. Erstwhile fire-breathing “red 68ers” are today the palest parlour pinks. 

Now the battle is on for the legislative elections, June 9. Even though Chirac got barely one-fifth of the votes on April 21, this won’t stop him from striking a pose as “savior of the nation,” affecting a cheap imitation of his former patron, General Charles De Gaulle, the bonapartist strongman who erected the presidential Fifth Republic. Le Pen’s National Front is expanding even as new witnesses come forward accusing him of torturing prisoners during the Algerian war for independence. While the former “plural left” tries to cobble together a “united left” to counter Chirac’s Union for a Presidential Majority, the princelings of the Socialist Party are jockeying over who will replace Jospin now that he has bowed out. The PCF is rent by internal squabbling and in a number of electoral districts, dissident Communist candidates are running against the official nominees. As for the ostensibly Trotskyist “far left” – notably Lutte Ouvrière (LO – Workers Struggle) and the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnnaire (LCR) – after their presidential candidates got over 10 percent in the first round of the presidential election, three-quarters of their voters cast ballots for Chirac on the second round. And now that they have gotten used to “casting a useful ballot” (voter utile), their electors see no use in voting for the “far left” in the legislative elections: the combined LO/LCR score in recent polls has dropped to under 4 percent. None of the candidates in these elections present a class opposition to the racist imperialist war being waged at home and abroad by the bourgeoisie and its reformist lieutenants. 

Nothing "ex-" about these fascists. Skinheads march before screen showing National Front Führer Le Pen at 1 May 2002 FN mobilization in Paris. (Photo: AP)

The electoral turmoil and mass demonstrations have highlighted the question, what is the National Front? It was posed point-blank on May Day, the international workers day, when the fascist FN provocatively stages its annual mobilization at the statue of Joan of Arc. In 1995, a Moroccan youth was murdered by skinheads from the FN march. This year the popular-front left brought hundreds of thousands into the streets in a giant anti-Le Pen rally, not to cleanse the streets of the racist killers, but to get workers to vote for the arch-reactionary Chirac! In contrast, in a 26 April supplement to L’Internationaliste, published following the first round of the French elections, the League for the Fourth International called: “No to Chirac and Le Pen! Sweep Away the Fascist Thugs May 1! Boycott the Elections May 5!” Our article headlined: “France 1935-2002: The Popular Front Opens the Door to Fascist Reaction – Fight for Workers Revolution!” Against the class-collaborationist pseudo-Trotskyists, we called to “Build a Real Leninist-Trotskyist Party!”

A rather different tack was taken by the International Communist League (ICL) in the paper of its U.S. section, the Spartacist League (SL). In its 3 May issue, Workers Vanguard wrote: 

“By outlook and history, Le Pen is a fascist. But like Haider’s FPÖ [in Austria], Le Pen’s National Front (FN) is currently scoring big gains primarily as an electoral party. Reactionary views alone do not define fascism. Contrary to fake leftists who cynically pretend that fascism is just around the corner in order to justify voting for Chirac, France is not currently besieged by organized fascist gangs attacking workers’ picket lines or assaulting parliament as the French fascists did in the 1930s.” [emphasis in original]
According to WV, the FN is not fascist but an “electoral party.” It argues that “fascist terror against immigrants is not now rampant in France,” if only because the government of the “plural left” was carrying out the kind of cop terror the fascists have called for. Interestingly, this was not the position taken by the ICL’s French section. A 23 April statement by the Ligue Trotskyste de France (LTF), which WV ’s commentary serves as an introduction to, declared that the popular-front government “Opened the Way to Le Pen’s Fascists.” It continued: 
“Le Pen and the fascists don’t represent ‘bad ideas’ that one can debate. Fascism is a program to wipe out the organized workers movement, send women back to the home and massacre ‘immigrants,’ Jews, minorities and homosexuals…. Smash the fascists before they smash us! For worker/immigrant self-defense groups based on the factories!
So for WV Le Pen’s fascist “outlook and history” and his “reactionary views” do not make his “electoral party” fascist. The statement of the LTF, however, draws the opposite conclusion: “Le Pen’s fascists” “don’t represent ‘bad ideas’” but a mortal threat to the workers movement and the oppressed. Nowhere does it say that the FN is not fascist. This is no mere terminological question. After all, if the National Front is fascist, then Trotskyists would call to mobilize the power of the workers movement to disperse the FN troops on May Day, as we did in our 26 April article. The LTF statement did say softly that “what’s necessary is mass mobilization to repulse this danger” of the FN march. WV’s introduction also raises the possibility of a labor mobilization, but only in order to dismiss it. After first arguing that, “If the PCF, LCR or LO – or the CGT trade-union federation – were serious about stopping Le Pen, they would fill the Place du Châtelet [starting point of the FN march] with organized union members hours before Le Pen’s fascist thugs get there,” it quickly adds: “They could stop the fascists before they start, but they won’t do this” because the reformists fear independent mobilization of the working class more than they fear Le Pen. 

So that’s that – nothing to be done about it. But hold on a minute. A couple of paragraphs earlier, WV argued that the FN is an electoral rather than a fascist party – so where do “Le Pen’s fascist thugs” come from? And what is this phenomenon of a far-right “electoral party” which is somehow different in character from its leader, who is “by outlook and history a fascist”? The National Front was founded in 1972 by the fascist group Ordre Nouveau (New Order) and has been headed since its creation by Le Pen. It is organized according to the Führerprinzip, the “leader principle” of Hitler’s Nazis. Indeed, when some of Le Pen’s principal lieutenants got out of line, led by Bruno Mégret whose roots are in the Catholic royalist/fascist tradition of Charles Maurras and Action Française, the result was a bitter split in 1998. (Mégret got 4 percent of the vote on April 21, making the combined fascist score 20 percent.) The idea that the FN has a different political character than Le Pen is absurd. The ICL is squirming as it tries to wriggle around the incontestable fact that the National Front is not just an electoral apparatus but a fascist party with a veritable private army of storm troopers. 

Le Pen’s Fascist Party a Mortal Threat to Immigrants, Workers, Women, Leftists

The National Front merely an “electoral party”? Demonstrators cast wreath into the Seine in Paris May 1 to pay homage to Brahim Bouarram, a 29-year-old Moroccan who was beaten and drowned by skinheads from the 1995 FN demonstration. Above, left: friend of Bouarram read a message to the crowd. Above, right: woman holds sign, “Le Pen has the blood of Bouarram on his hands. Le Pen has the blood of Algerian citizens on his hands. Put out the flames...” (Photos: Eric Chaverou/Radio France and AFP)
The claim that an “electoral party” cannot be a fascist party is a classic social-democratic thesis, reflecting the reformists’ parliamentary cretinism. It recalls Trotsky’s remark about Germany: “The workers had the right instincts and wanted to fight. But the Social Democrats held them back, promising to give the signal when Hitler should have finally abandoned legal methods.” Hitler’s Nazis played the bourgeoisie’s electoral game, and only abandoned it after taking power. In order to dismiss any talk of a fascist danger in Europe, the ICL sets up a straw man. Whoever says the parties of Le Pen, Fini and Haider are fascist must mean that “fascism is around the corner,” claims WV, even while admitting that the Internationalist Group says that “Le Pen is not about to take power.” “So does the IG [Internationalist Group] think Austria is fascist today?” it continues without a pause. If fascist parties are in the government in Italy and Austria, it asks snidely, where are the concentration camps? The cynical editors of Workers Vanguard know perfectly well that we do not argue that Austria or Italy are fascist because of the presence of fascist parties as junior partners in coalition governments. But more fundamentally, the ICL’s parliamentary blinders prevent them from seeing that while fascist dictatorship is not on the agenda, there is a clear and present danger posed by the drive toward a bonapartist “strong state.” In recent years, the bourgeoisie as a whole and its reformist lieutenants in the workers movement have rammed through police-state measures across Europe, in the U.S. and throughout the capitalist world. The imperialists’ current terrorist “war on terrorism” intensifies this push. The real danger represented by Le Pen and his ilk is that in various countries where they have a historical presence, the fascists act as the cutting edge of this drive. 

What is fascism? For the Stalinists, it is simply a government or party of unbridled capitalist reaction. Thus they routinely describe military dictators like Pinochet in Chile or Suharto in Indonesia as “fascist.” Their response, from the 1930s to today, is to call for a “popular front against fascism,” i.e., to politically bloc with the “democratic” bourgeoisie, whether in a formal coalition or voting for Chirac. But this obscures the essential character of fascist movements, from Mussolini’s black shirts and Hitler’s Nazi brown shirts to the white sheets of the American nativist fascists of the Ku Klux Klan or the “saffron” (Hindu) fascists of the paramilitary RSS in India – namely that they organize masses of ruined petty bourgeois into a battering ram against the workers movement and the oppressed. “Fascism unites and arms the scattered masses. Out of human dust it organizes combat detachments,” as Trotsky wrote in Whither France? (1934). And the way to fight this dangerous threat is not through class-collaborationist blocs but by revolutionary mobilization of workers power to shatter the fascist bands.

Fascism is not counterposed to participation in bourgeois electoral politics – it is a bourgeois political current after all, and most sizeable fascist movements have played the parliamentary game as they accumulated forces. The German Nazis’ growth consisted not only of shock troops of the Sturmabteilung (SA), but also in the mushrooming vote for the National Socialist German Workers Party.  Just because they engage in electoral demagogy does not mean they are not preparing for civil war. This is amply proven by the example of Le Pen’s National Front. In the last French presidential elections, the FN’s campaign was punctuated by two racist murders by Le Pen’s fascist thugs: on 21 February 1995, FN gunmen opened fire on ten youth of North African origin, killing Ibrahim Ali; and on May Day in Paris, four skinheads from the FN march brutally beat Brahim Bouarram and tossed him into the Seine River where he drowned. In both cases the killers were connected with the National Front’s goon squad, the DPS (Department of Protection and Security). Those like the ICL and LO who portray the FN as simply an “electoral party” are sowing deadly illusions.

Right after the first round, Le Pen upped the voltage by declaring that he would set up “transit camps” and order “special trains” to ship immigrants out of the country. This inevitably recalled the Transitlager and Sonderzüge the German occupiers used to ship Jews to the death camps in WWII. But this is not mere rhetoric – the National Front’s “French preference” is a program for terror against immigrants. The murders of Ali and Bouarram are the most notorious racist assaults linked to the FN, but hardly the only ones. The attacks on largely immigrant workers’ hostels in Cannes and Cagnes-sur-Mer in 1988 were carried out by Nazis of the PNFE (French and European Nationalist Party), which was also implicated in the anti-Semitic desecration of a Jewish cemetery in Carpentas in May 1990. The PNFE has its own profile, concentrating on skinheads and recruiting cops. But its leader at the time, Michèle D’Ara, was a municipal councilor in the town of Villepinte near Paris elected on the National Front ticket. Elements from the virulently anti-Semitic Oeuvre Française formed the FN’s police “union” and have frequently taken part in DPS actions against leftists. The Groupe Union Défense (GUD), a campus-based fascist action group, has periodically had run-ins with the National Front, but also participates regularly in FN events, notably the annual May 1 Joan of Arc mobilizations. 

National Front merely an “electoral party”? Jewish cemetery at Carpentas, France where in May 1990 fascists dug up body and impaled it, destroying 39 gravestones. Members of the Nazi PNFE were tried for the desecration. The head of the PFNE was a municipal councillor elected on the FN ticket. (Photo: Didier Lefèvre/Vu)

The National Front is also up to its neck in the anti-abortion commandos who violently attack clinics and harass and intimidate women seeking to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The first actions were carried out in the mid-’80s by SOS Tout Petits founded by Xavier Dor, a long-time member of the National Front. The second major group involved, Laissez-les-vivre, includes several members of the FN top leadership in its honorary presidium, including Bruno Gollnisch and Marie-France Stirbois. Its president, Emmanuel Tremblay, is part of the FN’s women’s front, the CNFE. The most aggressive of the commandos, Trêve de Dieu (God’s Truce), is part of Human Life International, headed by Paul Marx, who accuses “some Jews” of leading “the greatest holocaust of all time, the war on unborn babies,” and whose German affiliate is run by the fascist Siegfried Ernst. In short, with its “family preference,” the fascist National Front and its satellite operations are a threat to women as well.

The DPS’ thug violence is so notorious that in 1998 the French National Assembly organized a commission to investigate it. They documented 68 cases of violent attacks by this goon squad, including 38 armed attacks. The actual number is considerably greater, since the police (who are heavily infiltrated by the FN) regularly hide the fascist links of many perpetrators, dismissing them as “common criminals” or describing assaults by the FN youth (many of them skinheads) as “clashes” between rightist and leftist demonstrators. The size of the DPS is estimated at about 3,000 men. They are usually seen in their “Outfit 1,” marine blue blazers and gray trousers. But this is only the “respectable” façade of this paramilitary force. Anyone who thinks the DPS is a bunch of doddering family men acting as ushers for a party dedicated to ballots not bullets is in for a rude awakening. Within the DPS there are several hundred shock troops, the UMIs (Mobile Intervention Units), who dress in “Outfit 2,” all-black riot uniforms of the Belgian police, with helmets, Plexiglas shields and clubs. This deliberately makes them almost indistinguishable from the official UMIs of the gendarmerie and CRS riot police. 

On a number of occasions, these squads have attacked leftist protesters as police stood by in silent complicity. For example on 25 October 1996 at Montceau-les-Mines where a UMI squad of the FN confronted demonstrators of Ras l’Front (Fed Up with the Front), while a similarly uniformed UMI squad of the CRS was held in reserve. Or on 23 May 1997 in Vitrolles (a town controlled by the FN), where FN thugs attacked human rights groups. And again a week later in Maintes-la-Jolie, when 50 FN thugs attacked 20 “far left” counterdemonstrators. (In that incident, Le Pen himself was photographed beating up the Socialist candidate, Annette Peulvast-Bergeal.) The DPS also carries out clandestine surveillance of opponents, opening mail and tapping phone lines. The National Front thugs have even occasionally attacked police with impunity, as on 21 October 1996, when several hundred FN demonstrators marched from a speech by FN leader Bruno Gollnisch to the Arc de Triomphe to stage a provocation. On orders of DPS chief Bernard Courcelle, the cop on duty was bodily seized and removed. 

From the time of the National Front’s founding in 1972 it had a strong-arm goon squad which was first formed by Roger Holeindre, who fought in the French army in Indochina and then Algeria. He was part of the terrorist apparatus of the OAS “secret army” that launched a wave of terror across France on the eve of Algerian independence in 1962.  While leftist students were demonstrating in Paris in 1968 chanting for Ho Chi Minh, Holeindre led fascistic groups to support the U.S. puppet South Vietnamese regime. A former member of the DPS told how the hard core of this “parallel army” consisted largely of veterans of French military adventures in Africa. Their role was to “join groups of anti-FN demonstrators, single out the leaders and smash them. We didn’t act openly but discreetly. We would drop off groups of three or four in the demos, grab the leaders, haul them off to the side, pound them and then disappear” (Libération, 13 November 1997). 

The impunity of the National Front’s paramilitary apparatus is a function of its close ties to organs of state repression (notably the army, police, gendarmes, CRS and secret services), and the private “security” companies and professional mercenaries that are their offshoots. The acronym DPS was deliberately chosen to resemble that of the military intelligence agency, the DPSD (Direction de la Protection et Sécurité de la Défense), of which Gollnisch is an active reserve officer. The man who turned the FN’s goon squad into a serious paramilitary operation and named it the DPS, Bernard Courcelle, is also a former paratrooper and military intelligence operative. Courcelle was instrumental in extracting a group of French mercenaries led by his brother-in-law Bob Denard (a notorious mercenary and former member of the French presidential guard) from a botched coup they had carried out in the Comoro Islands. Courcelle’s brother is the head of Groupe 11 France, a mercenary outfit which was also active in recruiting professional killers for Zaïre dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. Courcelle also employed DPS members as the security team for the Elf French oil company installations in Angola.

The ICL says blithely that “fascist terror against immigrants is not now rampant in France” while fascist-infested police have put immigrant areas under a state of siege. Meanwhile, the National Front has been terrorizing Africans for years, in Africa. The DPS and Courcelle in particular were up to their necks in genocidal wars from Rwanda to the Congo (Brazzavile). It is amply documented that the interahamwe Hutu militias in Rwanda were trained by the French army in 1992-93, before the outbreak of the genocide that killed hundreds of thousands of Tutsis in 1994, while numerous French mercenaries were running around the country. François-Xavier Verschave, editor of the African affairs magazine Survie, reports of the mercenaries that “They were all recruited from far-right milieus, notably the DPS.” Future DPS chief Courcelle was in close touch with the “presidential cell” of the DPSD, which recruited scores of fascists and mercenaries to train death squads and prop up dictators. Le Pen’s château, St. Cloud, is the former French residence of  Emperor Bokassa of the Central African Republic. The National Front supplied the “dogs of war” to do the dirty work of France’s neocolonial empire in Africa, while it was the conservative Chirac and the “socialist” Mitterrand who employed them.

Armies of Professional Strikebreakers

Courcelle claims that he banned guns in the National Front squads, although even the police admit that the FN thugs show up at demos with their car trunks jammed full of weapons. But he was up to his neck in arms trafficking, at least from the time he was stationed as a military officer in charge of security for the Luchaire arms manufacturer in the 1980s when the latter was smuggling arms to Iran (France’s “Irangate”). In 1995-96, when he was head of the DPS, Courcelle organized a million-dollar arms deal with Chechen Islamic guerrillas led by Djukar Dudayev, involving AK-47s, high-power sniper rifles, rocket launchers, mortars and other arms supplied by a Belgian mercenary arms dealer based in Zagreb, Croatia. In addition, the FN controls a number of private security agencies with well-stocked arsenals. According to police reports, fully half the DPS members are employees of these rent-a-cop agencies. 

Trotsky writes in the Transitional Program: 

“The bourgeoisie is nowhere satisfied with the official police and army. In the United States, even during ‘peaceful’ times, the bourgeoisie maintains militarized battalions of scabs and privately armed thugs in factories. To this must now be added the various groups of American Nazis. The French bourgeoisie at the first approach of danger mobilized semi-legal and illegal fascist detachments, including such as are in the army.”
This is certainly true of the role of the National Front in France today. In whitewashing the FN, the ICL argues that “France is not currently besieged by organized fascist gangs attacking workers’ picket lines” ( Workers Vanguard, 3 May). Then how would they explain the FN commando of strikebreakers that attacked a picket of striking truck drivers in Vitrolles in 1997, leaving several truckers lying in a pool of blood? On the night of November 5, a squad of 20 thugs led by Patrick Bunel (connected with the private security agency Normandy and body guard of Bruno Mégret, whose wife was mayor of the town) – dressed in black, wearing hoods and armed with tire irons and baseball bats – assaulted strikers outside the depot of the TFE trucking company (see photo). Readers of The Internationalist may recall that this was the strike in which the ICL leadership initially opposed its French section putting out a leaflet. A few weeks later, the ICL expelled the comrades of the Permanent Revolution Faction, which had called for such an intervention in this first major workers struggle against the popular-front government of Jospin and his PCF transport minister Gayssot.

French unions don't face “organized fascist gangs attacking workers’ picket lines”? False. Left: striking drivers in Vitrolles, near Marseille, were assaulted by squad of National Front thugs during national truckers strike, 5 November 1997.  (Photo: L’Humanité)

In another case in 1997, workers struck the Valéo auto headlight plant in Evreux (Eure) in April when plans were announced to shut it down. In response, in early June the management contracted with a private security company, OGS (Management and Security Organization) led by the mercenary Gonzague du Cheyron du Pavillon (a former member of the OAS), which supplied a squad of 80 thugs, including numerous DPS members, to block workers protesting the removal of the machinery from the plant. At one point the fascist goons tried to break through the workers’ pickets, but trucks were turned back as the picketers heaved rocks at them. Earlier, in February 1997, the Normandy security agency sent a squad of 24 thugs led by fascists of the GUD to carry out an attack on the CGT union at a paper plant in Corbeil (Essone). All this in a single year. Only an organization utterly divorced from the proletariat and which has no interest in the workers’ struggles could make WV’s absurd claim. 

European capitalists look with envy at the destruction of the British unions that began with Margaret Thatcher’s breaking of the 1985-86 coal strike. As French bosses close one plant after another, French unionists are constantly facing gangs of professional strikebreakers linked to the FN/DPS and other fascist outfits. Among these “security companies” are the AGS, Ambassy, Bègue Consultants, Éric SA, Groupe Onze International, Groupe Onze France, Normandy, OGS and SPGM.  They supply the same thugs who beat up leftists and immigrants outside National Front demonstrations. In our article “Truckers Blockade France” (The Internationalist No. 4, January-February 1998), we noted that the fascist assaults on the striking truckers at Vitrolles should have been answered by “an assembly of thousands of militant workers and immigrants from the Marseille area, forming workers defense squads to deal decisively with the racist terror squads.” It was, and is, necessary to drive home Trotsky’s call in the Transitional Program:

“The struggle against fascism does not start in the liberal editorial office but in the factory – and ends in the street. Scabs and private gunmen in factory plants are the basic nuclei of the fascist army. Strike pickets are the basic nuclei of the proletarian army…. In connection with every strike and street demonstration, it is imperative to propagate the necessity of creating workers’ groups for self-defense.”
Mobilize Workers Power, Not Appeals to the Bourgeois State!
Many of those protesting against the National Front in France have called for it to be banned. This is the theme of the Gauche Socialiste, for example, which wants the FN to be outlawed on the grounds that it is not a democratic and republican party. GS spokesman Jean-Luc Mélenchon writes in Le Monde (29 May) that “the National Front must be banned. The law exists since 1936 permitting the dissolution of the fascist leagues, predecessors of the FN today.” Mélenchon adds: “In France, racism and anti-Semitism are not considered opinions but crimes which are severely punished.” The purpose of the 1999 French National Assembly investigation of the FN’s goon squad, the DPS, and its paramilitary formations, the UMIs, was to consider whether they should be proscribed under this law allowing the government to dissolve organizations with “combat groups” or “private militias.” The parliamentary socialists finally decided to do nothing, calculating that the 1998 split between Le Pen and Mégret would lead to the decline of both. Since that has not happened, the calls for action by the bourgeois state are again being heard. 

Trotskyists have always opposed such political proscriptions in the hands of the capitalist rulers, warning that they will inevitably use such bans to attack leftists and revolutionary working-class organizations. The French “anti-militia” law of 1936 was extremely broad, allowing the banning of groups which “provoke street demonstrations” and oppose the “republican form of government.” Although initially used to outlaw Action Française, the Croix de Feu and the royalist Camelots du Roi, already by 1939 it was used to ban the Party of the Algerian People (PPA); in the mid-’50s, it was the basis for proscribing the Algerian National Movement (MNA), the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN) and the Algerian Communist Party. Following May 1968, this same law was used to outlaw the entire spectrum of the “far left,” including the JCR, PCI and their successor, the LC; Voix Ouvrière (predecessor of LO); the OCI (now the Parti des Travailleurs); a number of Maoist groups and several self-proclaimed revolutionary student groups.

At bottom, how to fight fascism is a class question. The answer of liberals and reformists to the National Front is to build class-collaborationist coalitions in the name of (bourgeois) “democracy.” Ultimately this leads them to vote for the arch-reactionary bourgeois “democrat” Chirac and to push for increasing the repressive powers of the “democratic” capitalist state. Yet the bourgeois democrats open the door to the bonapartists and fascists, just as the 1930s popular front led to the Vichy government of Marshal Pétain. The capitalists use varying political forms to protect their interests, from monarchies to republics and bonapartist regimes. In quiet times they hold the fascists in reserve, perhaps even banning a few of the more notorious groups (which will then reform under a new name). But as the class struggle intensifies, the ruling class calls upon the reformists to form popular fronts to divert the workers from revolutionary aims. Hence the election of Socialist Lionel Jospin’s government of the “plural left” following the mass strikes of November-December 1995. And ultimately they will call upon the fascists and other shock troops to use the methods of civil war to crush the organized workers movement and annihilate oppressed sectors of the population. 

Marxists do not call on the bourgeois state to outlaw racist and anti-Semitic propaganda, or to dissolve fascist organizations, for the capitalists’ state power is the fundamental instrument for suppression of the exploited and carrying out racist oppression and such bans will inevitably be used against the left. We oppose gun control, even when it purports to disarm fascist militias, for such measures will inevitably be used to disarm the workers. The fascists will not be eliminated by the bourgeoisie, which protects them since it may need their services in the future. It is up to the workers movement to sweep these racist terrorists from the streets, shattering their union-busting goon squads and disarming their paramilitary forces by mobilizing the power of tens of thousands of workers that today can easily overwhelm the fascists, however sinister their plans and menacing their growth. But that requires forging a revolutionary communist leadership, a genuinely Leninist-Trotskyist vanguard party of the proletariat. 

– 8 June 2002

Go to:  How ICL Turns French Fascists Into Ballot-Box Rightists  (8 June 2002)
           French elections: beware of bourgeois ‘saviors of the nation’ (4 May 2002)
           France: Popular front paves the way for fascist reaction (26 April 2002) 

To contact the Internationalist Group and the League for the Fourth International, send e-mail to: internationalistgroup@msn.com