France, the new Popular Front, hopes and contradictions

By Dimitris Skarpalezos  

After the thunderous victory of the far-right “National Rally” in the French European elections, under the pressure of the mass of their supporters, the parties of the broader left formed a coalition for the parliamentary elections called the “New Popular Front” in reference to the Popular Front of communists and socialists that was created after a failed far-right coup d’état and won the elections in 1936, making a series of important reforms for the people.  

The “New Popular Front” includes ecologists, socialists, communists and Mélenchon’s “France Insoumise [Unbowed France]” as well as smaller parties of the left.  

Its program, which was made under the pressure of the upcoming elections, suffers from a big contradiction. In terms of economic and social policy it is progressive and contains many demands basically in favour of the popular strata, such as price controls, raising the minimum wage, increasing the funding of health and education, higher taxation of the rich, etc., and it is largely inspired by the program of “Unbowed France”, but in terms of the geopolitical positioning of the country its positioning is clearly in the direction of subordination to the strategic aspirations of American imperialism.  

The virtual reality of totalitarianism  

This happened because, to a large extent, the “virtual reality” created by the mass media was accepted without skepticism by the progressive forces which, on all issues, were content to follow it with a “progressive” commentary without ever questioning it. 

There has been no skepticism or disapproval towards NATO’s war plans and no denunciation of American interventions around the world.  

This line of submission to American orders was dominant among the socialists and the supporters of the Macron government, as well as among the traditional right, which has long ago abandoned the independent patriotic line of de Gaulle.  

With the West against the East and the South  

The basic narratives of this virtual reality in the geopolitical realm are that Russia, China and Iran as well as a large part of the Palestinian resistance constitute the “axis of evil” while the United States, despite the injustices it has happened to have done here and there, is the necessary centre of resistance to the barbarity of the “axis of evil”. Israel is a democratic country that is making the mistake of responding in an excessively violent way to the “terrorist anti-Semitic attack” of October 7, 2023. As for the conflict in Ukraine, and Russia’s ‘unprovoked’ invasion , the narrative is that all the blame and responsibility lies with Putin, who is supposedly afraid that the example of a ‘democratic Ukraine’ will destabilise his authoritarian regime and who, like a ‘new Hitler’ , aims only to extend his barbaric rule as far as possible.

Virtual and “real” reality  

From this virtual reality a number of indisputable facts have been suppressed, such as  

1) Despite American assurances to the Soviets that NATO would not expand, not only has it expanded to almost all the former socialist countries of Europe, but also in 2008 the decision was made to admit Ukraine and Georgia into NATO, a clearly provocative move against Russia.  

2) In 2014 a coup has been fomented against an elected president through a combination of mass demonstrations in the Ukrainian capital and armed action by neo-Nazi militias armed by the West and, as Victoria Nuland, speaking for the US government, herself admitted, the US invested five billion dollars to make the coup a success.  

If we take into account that the ousted President Yanukovych had a clear majority in the Russian-speaking provinces, his overthrow was viewed as a defiance of all these provinces.  

3) The ‘provisional government’ was formed under Victoria Nuland’s guidance; it restored the Ukrainian nationalists to power and put two American citizens in the ministries of finance, considered the Nazi collaborator in World War II, Stepan Bandera, the slaughterer of hundreds of thousands of Jews, Russians and Poles, as a great hero of the nation and delegitimized the Russian language, which was by then one of the two official languages of the country and the mother tongue of at least a third of the population, perhaps a much larger part.  

3) Armed groups of extreme right-wing nationalists descended on the Russian-speaking provinces that had revolted against the coup and terrorized the local population with atrocities and the “Odessa massacre” where they burned alive about forty “communist” dissidents.  

All this was also broadcast on French television in 2016 in a documentary by Paul Morera “Les masques de la révolution” (The Masks of the Revolution).

But with the reaction of the (nationalist) Ukrainian community, they disappeared and since then only the voice of the nationalist Ukrainians can be heard on French television.  

4) The vast majority of Crimean citizens, after the de-legitimization of their language, preferred to belong to Russia rather than to Ukraine, and the referendum on union with Russia produced the same results as a poll by an American company. 

5) The separatist Russian-speaking provinces have been bombed non-stop since 2015 with over ten thousand victims.  

6) The interventions of the West have prevented all efforts for a peaceful solution of both the civil war and the war between Ukraine and Russia, which thus became a war between Russia and the West, with Ukrainian and Russian blood being constantly shed.  

Concerning the war in Gaza, the Hamas attack was presented by the media as a brutal “unprovoked” and racist attack against innocent civilians, with massacres of infants and mass rapes of women, while even Israeli newspapers showed that these were fabricated lies and that a significant percentage of the one thousand two hundred Israeli victims were killed by Israeli helicopter and Israeli army fire in the chaos of the counter-attack.  

Also no reminder was given, even by Palestinian supporters, of the fact that in the two previous Israeli bombings of Gaza in 2014 and 2015, more than twice as many Palestinians were killed than Israelis in the Hamas attack.  

Mélenchon, the Left and the Far Right  

The French left as a whole has not questioned the above virtual reality, so that today it is taking a position in favour of sending arms to Ukraine “for its defence”, with the result that the massacre in the trenches continues and we are getting closer every day to the danger of a generalised war that could easily become nuclear. 

The only major politician who advocated a pro-peace position was Mélenchon, who proposed a ceasefire and consultations on neutrality and security for both Russia and Ukraine. 

As for the border issue, he proposed referendums with international observers in the disputed provinces for the population to decide whether they want their province to belong to Ukraine or Russia. 

But even his own party did not follow this line. And today these positions of the ‘New People’s Front'” are also having a “boomerang” effect because there is a risk that a part of the followers of the Gaullist tradition of independence of the country from NATO vote for the “National Rally” which, with its vagueness on the issue, gives the impression of being more independent of American influence and more “peace-loving” with regard to the war in Ukraine, although in reality its positions are identical to the official positions of the Popular Front.  

This is of course just tactics because the channels supporting the far-right “National Rally” are all in favour of continuing the war in Ukraine and systematically demonise Putin.  

Gaza: the positions of the Far Right and of the Left and Netanyahu  

On  the war in Gaza, the “National Rally” fanatically demonises Hamas and supports Israel, which allows it to conceal the strong anti-Semitism of a large part of its cadres and followers. Besides, in the fascist subconscious, a “Western” force that fights the “Arabs” is an example, even if it is “Jewish”.  

Concerning the war in Gaza, “Unbowed France” took a much more consistent position and managed to impose on the “New Popular Front” the demand for an immediate ceasefire and recognition of the Palestinian state, but again without systematically deconstructing the “virtual reality” of the Hamas attack. Under accusation of fostering anti-Semitism, it has not even dared to raise the obvious objection that those who most foster anti-Jewish anti-Semitism today are those who identify Israel with all Jews and prevent the voices of so many Jewish intellectuals who stand against the genocidal massacre in Gaza (such as Jeffrey Sachs, Naomi Klein, Noam Chomski, Gideon Levi, Ilan Pape, Judith Butler, Pierre Stambul La résistible ascension des fascistes à la française | Defend Democracy Press etc.) 

Progressive people in France have certainly no other choice but to support the New Popular Front despite its dangerous contradictions, but of course they must campaign vigorously for peace in Ukraine and Gaza, regardless of who wins the elections, because every day the signs of a possible global war and a threat to the survival of humanity are becoming more and more alarming!

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