To perenial fete-goers, the annual fete outside Paris organised by the French Trotskyist group Lutte Ouvrière (LO) on 3-5 June appeared to be larger, younger and more ethnically mixed than previous years.
The obvious explanation is that the far left has been reinvigorated by the anti-CPE struggles that shook the country and forced concessions from the government in its attempts to increase the job insecurity of young workers.
Indeed, every meeting about the movement against the CPE was packed to overflowing, even those organised by very small groups. Unfortunately the discussions at these forums seemed to lack a decisive strategy as to how the struggle could be maintained or extended.
In the set-piece debate between LO and their erstwhile electoral partners, the Ligue Communiste Révolutionaire, the LCR were mauled for its leadership’s turn towards a proposed alliance of the “anti [neo-] liberal left” to include the Communist Party and “Alternative globalization movement” spokesperson Jose Bové, with a single candidate to represent this constituency.
LO’s appeal to working-class politics certainly has more credibility, but to some in the audience their motives were sectarian, as their priority is simply to stand their veteran comrade Arlette Laguiller come what may. What is certain is that it is a depressing outlook for the revolutionary far left which had previously attained a degree of unity that enabled it to make a significant intervention into French elections.
LO also attacked the LCR for their enthusiasm for the “No” vote in the European Constitution referendum, saying that it was not as great a victory as they claimed ˆ it was equally a victory for the Right. LO did, however, advocate a “No” vote themselves.
As ever, the fete provided as much for those without any interest in politics (and kids) as for the most hardened Trot. The line up of musical acts was of a very high standard, particularly the hip-hop rockers Ministère des Affaires Populaires.
Our delegation of AWLers also made contact with a group of Greek Trotskyists who had recently parted company with USFI. In short, the trip was thoroughly worthwhile and enjoyable, and I would encourage all Solidarity readers to give it a go next year.