French Communists Abandon Hammer and Sickle

FRANCECommunist Party of France has sparked a revolution among comrades by removing the hammer and sickle from their membership cards. Iconic symbol of the international proletariat has been replaced with the star of multi-party European Left alliance, much to the horror of traditionalists at the party’s 36th congress that opened near Paris on Thursday. What was billed by party leadership as forward-looking move was denounced by others as revisionist backsliding and part of a conspiracy to abandon the movement to embrace of social democracy. Emmanuel Dang Tran, secretary of party’s Paris section, told France Info radio that members were shocked at the abandoning of “what represents, for working class of this country, a historic element in resistance against the politics of capitalism” Anonymous commenter on the radio’s website suggested wryly: “It’s natural that they’ve abandoned their tools. There’s no work anymore!” Tran was among those who believed the symbol change amounted to the party paying allegiance to European Left, a coalition of left-wing movements formed in 1999 to cooperate within European Parliament. He said leadership was trying to create a social democracy mark-2 alongside “Greens, socialists, Trotskyists and I don’t know who else.” Pierre Laurent, the party’s national secretary, defended the decision to dump the hammer and sickle, saying it no longer represented present-day realities. “We want to turn towards future,” he said on Friday. The internal spat was the latest upset for a communist party that was once powerful on the left in France, with ministers serving in a number of Socialist-led administrations. It remains country’s largest left-wing party in terms of membership. But its standing has declined rapidly since the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. For the first time last year, it failed to put up its own candidate at a presidential election and opted instead to support Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the Left Front. Although the Communist Party is the largest grouping in Left Front, hardliners complain it risks playing second fiddle to other movements in the alliance despite being its “sole historically revolutionary component.” The 20Minutes news Website asked whether the loss of the hammer and sickle meant the party was becoming a “Communist Party light” and noted that this week’s congress had also adopted Mr. Mélenchon’s “people first” slogan. “That is something to chew on for many who fear the party will be dissolved into a Left Front led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon,” it wrote. L’Humanité, former official Communist newspaper that retains close links with the party, managed to remain upbeat as the congress opened. It ran a poll indicated the party’s public image had improved since the creation of the Left Front. It also interviewed the rank and file at party congress who said that, among other things, they saw the gathering as an occasion for the communists to go on the offensive, continue a citizens’ revolution, or simply spend a “fraternal moment with all the comrades” (source: View From Europe – NYTimes – 09/02/2013) 


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One Response to French Communists Abandon Hammer and Sickle

  1. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: French Communist Party is an oxymoron, a throwback of last century. However, the French can make money on anything. After all, they were the first ones to convince people to pay for water, something vital for survival and provided by nature for free. Growing up in Brazil — a country dominated by a 1% elite taking up half of the country’s wealth — the existence of a communist party made sense to me. They supposedly defended the working class from exploitation by rapacious industrialists and financiers. However, my thinking changed while attending graduate school at MSU in the 70s. At that time, I came across a radical economics professor, member of the communist party. He wrote several articles in the local newspaper against the school accepting 120 Brazilian students in a scholarship program, including myself. His argument was that upon graduation we’ll be returning to Brazil and help the military government in power at that time. From my experience at MSU, I lost respect for any member of communist party living in rich countries such as the US or France for that matter. I suppose the Communist Party HQs in Paris could become a tourist attraction for thousands of Brazilians visiting the City of Light each year.


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