An interview on the anti-colonial organization Les Indigènes, and their role in the Leftist and anti-racism movements in France.
Late 2014, early 2015, a debate took place in the Netherlands between various leftist organizations and Sandew Hira, a historian who has taken the initiative, together with others, to build the Decolonize The Mind (DTM) movement in the Netherlands. The debate began after rapper Insayno was rejected to speak at an anti-racism demonstration. In one of his raps he had asserted: “The treatment of the concentration camps is only a joke compared to our slave trade”. After some discussion about the scientific nonsense, the political destructiveness and the heartlessness of comparing the various massacres in this way, the debate quickly turned to how to organize against racism, the role of white people in the anti-racism struggle, and how the Left and the DTM movement could struggle side by side.
|The original text in Dutch|
During the debate we asked Hira about the ideas and principles of DTM. He explained them quite clearly, but we did not really get to know much about the practice of the new movement. At the moment it seems mainly engaged in the training of activists, most of whom seem to have been active in the anti-racism and pro-Palestine movements. DTM is still a relatively small, mainly academic movement that does not organize actions or campaigns by itself.
In the debate and also in various meetings Hira often mentioned that he has two important international friends with whom he cooperates very closely: Ramon Grosfoguel of the Berkeley University of California and Houria Bouteldja of the movement “Les Indigènes de la République” in France. That organization celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2015 and already had quite some time to build a movement, even outside the universities.
We asked two French comrades what they knew about those Indigènes. How does this movement operates, and how are their ties with the extra-parliamentary Left? In this way we might be able to take a little look at the future of a part of the anti-racism movement in the Netherlands. That’s important, because as those who followed the debate may have noticed, we at Doorbraak are not too keen on how Hira and DTM try to insert some not so liberating ideas into the growing movement against racism.
Of course, the French situation is very different from the Dutch one. In both countries there is indeed a lot of racism, a legacy of the shared colonial past, but the Left and the anti-racism movement in France are really much bigger. Progressive intellectuals also play a much more important role, and there are constantly great nation wide debates, also on racism. However, the practical organizational activism seems to be relatively modest.
We asked our questions to Nad, with whom we organized two meetings in 2012 on the jobless movement RTO in which she is active, and Yves Coleman of the magazine “Ni patrie ni frontières” (“No country, no borders”) and our regular translator. Both live in Paris and are very involved in the anti-racism struggle. Nad answered the first three questions, and Coleman the rest. And because both, of course, did not always agree with each other, we offered them the opportunity afterwards to respond on each others answers with critiques and additions. So we started with Nad.
Could you tell us a bit about the origins of the Indigènes movement? How did they get started? And in which political context did that take place?
The initial Indigènes manifesto was launched in January 2005. The context was very problematic for the Left, the far Left and social struggles in general at that time. In 2002, the massive abstention by the Left, partly created by the very discouraging anti-social policies of the Left in power and by its pro-”security” turn (accentuated after 9/11), enabled the far Right to participate in the second round of 2002 presidential elections, which brought the “tough Right” to power. In 2003, the movement against the pension reforms suffered a crushing defeat, which substantially reduced trust in the unions. Their bureaucracies had refused to launch a joint public/private struggle and even prevented unitary mobilizations inside the state sector. Bitterness, demobilization and defeatism were growing in the social movements. At the same time, the post 9/11 anti-Muslim wave created a defensive reaction among many young people with Muslim-migrant backgrounds and generated a new identitarian attachment to this religion. Muslim religious and cultural structures also offered an alternative socialization in a context where the French state resumed its social engagements and the radical Left continued to lose ground at grassroots level, especially as this dimension was completely neglected because participating to the anti-globalisation movement was much trendier.
In this context, another “veil affair” among many others shaked a school where the teachers decided to take action against the pupils who wore a hijab. Unlike what happened in the eighties and nineties, the socialist Left and many far Left and anarchist militants supported a law excluding “veiled pupils” from state schools. In response, religious activists and leftist militants together created collectives which wanted to fight against this law, unfortunately many of them didn’t want to question religious reactionary policies.
In November-December 2005, riots broke out in popular and migrant neighborhoods after the death of two youth, and these riots extended throughout France. The government used a state of emergency law inherited from the war in Algeria. The far Left had absolutely no role in these riots, no direct control over this revolt in working class suburbs and its activists issued comments based only on indirect testimonies or TV reports. Fantasies therefore proliferated: some saw it as a prelude to a revolution, others considered it an islamist plot or saw the hand of “lumpen thugs”. Some wrote poems inspired by the “symbols of the state” which were on fire, even if they were nursery schools. Others overreacted every time a car was burned.
But whether to criticize it or praise it, an ethnic interpretation prevailed over a class interpretation, even when there were as many Franco-French among those arrested as people with an immigrant background (at least in the neighborhoods where this kind of social diversity still existed), and even if the vast majority of those arrested were workers, unemployed or precarious proles, these events were analyzed only through the prism of how “former colonized people” reacted to racism.
It’s in this context that their manifesto “l’Appel des Indigènes de la République” was launched. “Indigènes” (“natives”) is a term borrowed from the colonial legal and political vocabulary and it was used instead of the dominant “from migrant background” of the previous decade. The success of this manifesto mainly reflected the fact that the radical Left was no more involved in what was happening in popular neighborhoods and had no contacts with the youth having a migrant background: for many leftists, this manifesto was also an easy way to feel “in sync” with the suburbs.
The manifesto itself was very radical. It evoked discrimination at work as well as discriminations preventing access to the political world and it globally denounced obvious racist realities. At the same time it remained very vague, so this allowed an influx of signatures. Including pundits of the Communist Party and Greens, who had been in power just a few years earlier (1997-2002). In that period they supported the repression of social struggles and their elected representatives in Paris and in suburbian towns had promoted an exclusion policy and denied social rights. In short, this manifesto was not very different from hundreds of others which usually bloom every time the Right is in power, and which radical leftist leaders sign with both hands, as far as it does not commit them to do anything.
Far from being islamists, as many Left racists falsely pretend, most of the initiators of this manifesto had a migrant background. They had so far been active in various associations, political groups or union currents linked to the radical Left and not to the islamists. A month later, the signature of Tarik Ramadan was presented as an important event, but, at that time, he had been invited to several international social forums, where he played, for the Muslims, more or less the same role as Bishop Gaillot(1) played for the catholics – the radical Left has always liked to promote certain religious dignitaries.
How did the movement develop after the Indigènes manifesto had been published? Were they able to attract many members? What kind of people joined them?
The initial manifesto wanted to organize a “national anti-colonialist conference”. In France, in the radical Left, manifestos are regularly launched on any issue (from unemployment to feminism and eco-development) and they all propose national unitary conferences, but then when these meetings actually happen, each political current seeks to impose its views and to reclaim the initiative. Generally, after many polemics and mutual accusations, a small part of the initial organizers create a smaller organization.
This is also what happened to the”Indigènes” manifesto. It led to the creation of an association, much smaller and with a more specific orientation. On one hand it started organizing anti-colonialist events with other collectives, on the other hand it developed a theoretical discourse which evolved towards a clash with class analysis. The initial manifesto evoked all oppressions without necessarily prioritizing one in particular, but then a very aggressive analysis was developed in which class analysis was supposed to mask the major domination: the neo-colonialist domination within the French Left. This criticism was rather anachronistic, since in reality class analysis was not very present any more in the radical Left or in the Left. Left and far Left militants talked more and more of anti-liberalism and anti-globalisation, and less and less of anti-capitalism. Ten years of anti-globalisation rhetoric had led to abandonment of the critique of the wage system, and most of the Left has moved towards the defense of “fair trade” against “the multinationals”, and defense of the “little honest entrepreneur” against large industrial groups, etc.
So the Indigènes have not revolutionized anything when they decided to adopt the mantra according to which the concept of class struggle does not correspond to reality. Actually they are not revolutionizing anything in general. For example, their evolution towards a perpetual questioning of the existence of anti-Semitism today, their denunciation of the Shoah as a “civil religion”, their way of pitting the anti-racist struggle against the fight against anti-Semitism, all these positions are similar to the positions adopted by many other radical Left groups since the early 2000s. The same goes for their relationship with Dieudonné(2). The Indigènes followed the attitudes of that part of the Left which first “critically supported” this comedian, then condemned him with some reservations. Their “condemnation” was rather superficial, since they always ended up by saying Dieudonné was the”victim” of an injust punishment.
Similarly, the”Indigènes” are not bigger than the radical Left organisations, which have been following a downward trend over the years. The”Indigènes” have adopted a more and more explicit religious language, but they can’t really compete with religious organizations, for example.
It’s important to underline that, in the years 2005-2010, part of the youth which decided to participate in social struggles did so on the basis of their religion and/or community, and this applies to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Whether they decided to be active in humanitarian or political organisations, or created new media, religious beliefs were very much the source of their collective commitment, which often took a reactionary form, even if it was not always the case.
At the same time, the rise of the far Right also affected the whole society, and fascists have been able to launch a cultural revolution which allowed them to reach absolutely everyone, including minorities which are victims of fascist actions.
Do you mean the far Right pushes people to think in terms of culture rather than in terms of class?
It goes further than that: the far Right consciously destroys class struggle, it’s one of the fundamental aspects of this political current. We must never forget that it arose both in reaction against democratic revolutions, capitalist modernity and socialism, not utopian socialism but against Marxism, historical materialism and the labor movement.
In France, it takes two complementary faces: on one side, fascists criticize the existing situation; they use the difficulties encountered by all social strata which lose their status because of the inexorable changes in production conditions. These changes are partly determined by technological developments and partly by the fact that capitalism prevents these changes to benefit to everyone.
Thus, the digital revolution, extraordinary evolution of biology, applied physics, etc., are put at the service of capitalist exploitation, not of humanity. Capitalism gets rid of populations which are supposed to be in “excess” and this process degrades the level of wages and status. The “current crisis”, before being linked to the subprimes crisis, is mostly a crisis of the so-called “middle classes” in the West: executives, professionals, etc., whose social status is being destroyed and their living standards reduced, as well as their career prospects and social mobility.
This could bring them closer to the proletariat, but things are never automatic: in France, during the last fifteen years, fascist rhetoric and practice have managed to impose a different direction to the anger and anguish of those social strata which strongly supported the previous political and economic system. Fascists have managed to push them to defend the old order, the supposedly protective nation opposed to the “new world order” and “bad capitalism” which imposes all these changes: and of course, in this context, the anti-Semitic way of thinking is again an ally of fascism. I use the expression “way of thinking”, because it includes a large body of opinion (especially those, and they are numerous, who share Dieudonné’s opinions) which clearly targets “the Jews”. But this vision inspired by anti-Semitism goes far beyond: the National Front, for example, never criticizes the bourgeoisie, and social relationships induced by wage-based capitalism and post-wage-based capitalism. For the National Front, there are an “oligarchy” and “globalised elites”. The NF opposes them to the good bosses, good nationalist elites which will put in place a “good” capitalism.
And what about the PIR in this context? The reactionary rhetoric I just described can also be found in all the radical Left, which revealed, during the last fifteen years, many flaws on all subjects: nationalism, technophobia, anti-scientific discourse, apology of pre-capitalist societies and old orders.
If one reads Sadri Khiari, one of the leaders of the PIR, and his delusions about pre-colonial societies, his glorification of tradition, his rejection of progressivism, all that fits in the same reactionary pattern. And in terms of socio-professional composition, the leaders of the “Indigènes” are not proletarians, obviously; they belong to the professional groups we talked about before are obviously influenced by the ideologies we are discussing.
More generally, while everyone talks about the alleged “non-integration” of people with migrant background, I think the success of Dieudonné or Soral, as well as the victory of the tough wing of the Right in many popular neighborhoods and the influence of religion, all these evolutions show, on the contrary, that the migrants’ integration process has worked very well: there are no major differences between the political evolution of those with migrant background and the rest of the population. The difference is simply due to traditions, habits and customs whose appearance differ. The rise of reactionary religious currents remains the same, be they Muslim or Catholic. One has seen that Dieudonné and Soral attract all sorts of people.
And today, violent armed struggles based on crazy ideologies affect everyone: there are many departures to Daesch on one side, but also of neo-Nazi terrorists on the other side.
Class struggle is usually invisible to the class which wages it. It’s culturally devalued, and that too, is the victory of fascism: if you make a demo against Muslims and mobilize 200 lunatics, the media will report your action, you will be applauded by the entire far Right; if a union mobilizes 500 workers, you will be happy if the regional TV dedicates you one minute.
Now, fascism is at the center of political debate: even the forces which claim to fight it want to give the “right answers” to its “bad questions” instead of developing their own questions.
The so-called “Muslim problem” is obviously the best example: ALL political forces feel compelled to recognize this problem, indeed even us, while we discuss about the PIR what are we doing? We partly support this atmosphere.
While we talk about that, we’re not talking about a radical social transformation, and the fact of not talking about it partly prevents it to happen.
In this very difficult context, many currents of the radical Left and social movements adopted an essentially fascist rhetoric or at least defended ideological positions similar to the ones defended by part of the fascist camp.
The most obvious symptom of this evolution is the quasi hegemony of “competitive memories”, so-called “double standards”, which inspired many analyses. Since around 2005 various minorities compare their status to others, starting with the Jews’ status. In France the recognition of the specificity of the Judeocide, but also the full involvement of the French state has only emerged in the early eighties, after immense anti-racist struggles. But less than thirty years later, these fights have disappeared from the collective memory; fascists have imposed a truncated memory in which Jews are, falsely, presented as “privileged” by state anti-racist policies since 1945. All the victories (the historical recognition of the genocide and teaching of the Judeocide in schools, for example), are transformed into “problems”, into “symptoms” of a support for Israel, or into an attempt to mask other forms of racism.
There is a fragrance of defeatism and rancor in this rhetoric which echoes to what is happening, at the same time, in the class struggle. There too, under the direct influence of Right and far Right ideologies, working class victories and rights (for example, the status of state employees or social benefits for the unemployed) are presented and perceived as the intolerable “privileges” of a “social minority” of which other parts of the proletariat are jealous.
In both cases, the function of this rhetoric is the same and its effects also: division and rancor jeopardize any possibility of a large unity and above all they protect the real culprits from the legitimate anger of the oppressed who, consequently, turn their anger against other oppressed.
The”Indigènes” are not the only ones playing in this field, but they have a special role because of who they claim to represent. Often, when Franco-French groups or individuals want to criticize the fight against anti-Semitism, they quote the”Indigènes”. So it’s a way for them to say:”This is not me speaking, it’s the Arabs who are themselves victims of racism”.
The influence of the”Indigènes” lies especially at this level, and it’s also reinforced by the negative publicity given to them by Left and Right racists. In 2008, a large offensive was led by the media and political parties which denounced the Indigènes as typical examples of an alleged “anti-white racism”. Bouteldja, their spokeswoman, had ironically called the Franco-French “souchiens”(3). This highlighted an undeniable reality: in France, one does not hesitate to qualify some French citizens according to the origins of their parents or grandparents; the only French “tout court” are those who correspond to the dominant cultural norm.
That is the manner in which people in the Netherlands argue too. Did you experience that exclusion also yourself?
But in France, everything is a bit strange at this level. For example, the political debate about “those with migrant background” is central for at least thirty years. I have always been a subject of debate, or rather an object, since I was born. As soon as you are aware of the world around you, you learn that you are judged, evaluated, that people expect you to behave according to this implicit criterion. Personally, I don’t speak Arabic, I belong to what is called the “third generation”. I’ve never been to Algeria, my parents were atheists…. but my family name alone made me an Arab, because it has always played a role in my social life. Not only have I suffered from everyday racism, but also, and in an even stronger way, from a racism which does dare not to speak its name, which imposes you a positive identity even against your will. At school, I was a good student “all the more meritorious given her origins”; in political milieus, I was introduced a thousand times as coming from the anarchist migration opposed to what Yves calls the “identitarian” Left. I learned during my youth, through the media, that I could be an example of a successful integration, because I loved writers like Zola and Balzac and I ate pork.
So, in France, you’re judged from genetic criteria, and inevitably this judgment constructs you sociologically. But if you return this judgment, and that, on a sociological and cultural level, you characterize those who are not subjected to this genetic judgment, those who judge you and who are not only members of the bourgeoisie, but also your teacher, your colleague, your comrade, then you are accused of “racializing” people.
To give an example, I learned that Yves was black long before I met him. Quite simply, because one day, while I was criticizing one of his articles because it reflected a rather common mistake in the French Left, I was told on an anarchist forum “but Yves is a black métis”.
So when Yves asks me what I learned from those he calls “Left identitarians”, well, they taught me to defend myself on some points. To return the stigma, to destabilize my interlocutor, to attack where it hurts to make him or her aware of the political harm he or she is doing.
This is where I find the concept of “sociological white” very useful. In universalist radical Left circles, I suffered a long time from racism without knowing to denounce it efficiently. For example, in the class struggle, many comrades are convinced that we must discuss nicely with racist or anti-Semitic proletarians; we must patiently explain they are making a mistake, and that we should not reject them immediately. But they never perceive how it can be humiliating and hard for racialized people to have to endure this attitude. And often nobody even asks the question “And what if we told him or her to go to hell?”. This problem, when you expose it objectively in leftist circles, most militants preach you to be patient and not to reject people, etc. But if you react by using the magic words, “It’s easier for you because you are white”, at least it makes some comrades feel uneasy, it creates anger and it opens a debate or even a healthy confrontation.
That’s why I used the word “cultural norm”. We must make visible the implied norm, just as with gender. I find it essential that some people internalize that they are heterosexual, not just “normal”, heterosexual just as others are gay, lesbian or transgender.
Equality reigns when everybody is labelled or no one.
A bit the same thing happened during the summer of 2014 when anti-Semitic attacks erupted around “pro-Palestinian” demonstrations called by all the radical Left: some commentators mainly denounced the “Indigènes”, or refered to them as the black sheep to be excluded from a Left movement supposedly innocent of any anti-Semitism. The most idiotic accusations were spread, including those of a support to the Islamic State (IS). This conveniently allowed the designation of more or less “alien” scapegoats, and made completely disappear the general issue of Left anti-Semitism.
Do the Indigènes participate in more than the pro-Palestinian movement? Do they wage concrete struggles, for instance against racism? Or are they mostly writing? Do they have an actual influence in the power relations in society? Or do they remain marginal?
Yes, they participate and even initiate some initiatives. Recently they have played an important part in a movement against “Exhibit B”, a so-called anti-racist “artistic” exhibition which reproduced… human zoos. And if they were an important part of this movement, it’s because most of the anti-racist organizations defended this exhibition against all odds, without worrying a single moment about the opinion of those concerned and shocked. Similarly, they participate to all pro-Palestinian initiatives and bring a lot of people together when an Israeli military offensive takes place.
But, in both cases, the real problem is not just that they always choose mobilizations and practices which are biased, imbued with an anti-imperialism which poorly hides its support to reactionary forces and governments onto fascists coming from the ranks of political Islam. But the problem is also that these mobilizations and practices are always based on the alleged “competitive memories”, as shown by the joint press release against “Exhibit B” which still presented Dieudonné as a”victim”. The problem is also the absence of an universalist anti-racist front and – worse – the positions influenced by racism and paternalism among those who claim to be universalist.
This problem is clear when one studies the positions taken in so-called anti-white racism cases or in the discussions about Exhibit B: in both cases, universalist anti-racist organizations were useless.
As regards imaginary “anti-white racism”, part of French anti-racist organizations, including the MRAP and LICRA, validate this fake concept to support people who pretend to be victims of it.
In the case of Exhibit B, several anti-racist organizations defended this performance and treated those who denounced it as “communitarians” who wanted to destroy freedom of expression. About Exhibit B, for example, there was no alternative mobilization.
And last summer during the Israeli offensive on Gaza, there was no space to demonstrate both against the massacres committed in the name of the war against terrorism, and against anti-Semitism. No space to claim the unity of all the victims of the nationalists. Even in Israel this space did exist, at the initiative of the families of Jewish and Palestinian victims.
Now we go over to Yves Coleman, who argues that the Indigènes share and propagate the dominant identitarian (4) ideology
In the Netherlands DTM adherents are mostly active in academia now, pleading for more grants and more freedom for non Western research(ers) on slavery, colonialism, racism and similar fields. They want to get rid of the Eurocentric bias in the general curriculum. In what way are the Indigènes active in French universities?
It should be noted in passing that what began as an appeal (5) signed by 300 people (academics, executives, professionals and members of the waged petty bourgeoisie, including a high percentage of CP supporters or members and people with North African background) then became a Movement (MIR) and then, in 2010, a Party (PIR)… at least in theory.
In practice, the PIR is a grouplet (6) which does not mobilize much people behind its banners during street protests. It’s closer to a network than to a political organization structured around a regularly published newspaper, trained cadres and an elected (or not) leadership.
To answer your question: yes, the “Indigènes”, at least their political spectrum in a broad sense, are “influential” in academic circles, in some significant publishing houses. Their supporters can publish articles in the main bourgeois-liberal media like Le Monde and Libération, intervene in state radios like France Culture and Radio France Internationale, and also in some intellectual journals. Left intelligentsia takes their arguments seriously, even if, in fact, the PIR’s ideology is a hybrid mix between
– identity politics which developed in the US during the 60s in the Black, feminist and gay liberation movements;
– old thirdworldist theories advocated by intellectuals (Samir Amin, Frantz Fanon), guerrilla leaders (Amilcar Cabral, Che Guevara) and political activists (Malcolm X);
– and newer postmodern (7) and multiculturalist (8) discourse.
The main objective of the PIR is to “decolonize French Republic” and to radically distinguish itself from what they call the “white Left”; they claim national, ethnic or religious minorities coming from former colonies still live under a (post) colonial regime in France (hence the use of the word “Indigènes”, i.e. “Natives”).
As Sadri Khiari wrote: “There is a problem at the heart of the [French] republic: it claims to embody something which does not correspond to its reality; it pretends to be egalitarian while it’s based on a exclusionist and discriminative model of the nation”. (9)
The “Indigènes” want to impose the concept of “Islamophobia” in the political field. Indeed, the PIR but also many Left and far Left academics or anarchist militants, believe (or rather pretend to believe) that “Judeophobia” has been replaced by “Islamophobia” and that it could play one day, or actually plays, the same role in the West today as anti-Semitism in the 1930s.
They don’t need to fight for more “freedom of expression” because they advocate or share postmodern-multiculturalist-thirdworldist ideas which dominate French University, at least in fields like history and social sciences (sociology, ethnology, anthropology).
Today we find ourselves in the same situation as when the structuralist fashion, in the 60s and 70s, invaded the same disciplines and exercised an intellectual hegemony which was hard to criticize and demolish. Moreover, the starting point of their supporters (“humanities” and “cultural studies” university departments) is partly the same.
A good proportion of postcolonial theorists, or those who inspired them, come from literary studies departments: Edward Said taught all his life English literature and comparative literature; Stuart Hall is a sociologist specialized in “Cultural Studies” and he directed the Visual Arts Institute ; Gayati Chakravorty Spivak is a theorist of literature and literary critique; Homi Bhaba followed a literary curriculum, and wrote on art, literature and photography, etc.
Concerning reactionary “pro-Israeli” academics, they generally adopt a low profile in the universities. They give lectures to Jewish institutions, publish in very conservative or “moderate” journals. They organize marginal university symposiums: in France, research on anti-Semitism and Jewish communities’ history is marginal. “Zionist” intellectuals are not very active in major Left media or publishers.
Some French former Maoist or far Left intellectuals (B.H. Lévy, A. Glucksman, A. Finkielkraut, P. Bruckner) sometimes denounce in the media “new anti-Semitism”, “new Judeophobia” or a mythical “anti-white racism“ (10) but they are not historians who seriously studied Middle East or Africa, or colonialism, not even sociologists unanimously recognized for the quality of their academic work.
Thus, the “Indigènes”, on an issue like Israel, or even on the crimes of colonialism and racism, have little difficulty in academic circles or Left-oriented media.
They are attacked by Right-wing press and politicians – critiques which reinforce their “radical” reputation. Or by sociologists and demographers who belong to the secular-social-chauvinist Left (11) (M. Tribalat, H. Lagrange, P.A. Taguieff, C. Guilluy), academics who are more or less openly hostile to immigration. Such critics can only strenghten the PIR’s reputation for a Left-wing audience.
What are their relations with the different currents of the Left and anarchists and so on? In the Netherlands DTM mostly tried to make a caricature of the remaining Left organizations, from social-democracy to anarchism, just in order, it seems, to attack that image.
A part of the trotskyist Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (NPA) is closely working with them as testified by a book (12) they edited together; they also cooperate in local movements like “Mamans Toutes Egales” (“All mothers are equal”), for example against the exclusion of Muslim mothers who wear the hijab during outdoors school activities; and they defend common positions in the BDS movement. This wing of the trotskyist NPA is in close contact, or at least politically agrees, with the British Socialist Workers Party (SWP) – a forerunner in the promotion of alliances between the far Left (13) and islamists, like the Muslim Brothers in Egypt and in Britain (14).
Some anarchists, and even some libertarian Marxists or ultra-Lefts, are influenced by post-modern ideas shared by the “Indigènes”, like the rest of the Left, too.
Most of these ideologies (postmodernism, postcolonial studies, subaltern studies and gender studies) express a strong reluctance to admit the need for a social revolution led by workers, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation or national, ethnic or religious affiliation. For these currents, today we can no longer fight for social revolution; class struggle is an outdated idea produced by 19th-century Western white heterosexual males. Moreover, they think it’s possible to “change the world without taking power”; to create zones, or businesses, temporarily freed from capitalism; introduce alternative currencies, and other reformist nonsense already promoted by 19th-century utopian socialists… But as nobody knows of (and reads) old utopian socialists writings, their ideas can be presented in a “new” no global, radical, autonomous or postmodern package, and nobody notices it.
All these modernist currents swung into the history’s dustbins of the achievements of the revolutionary (Marxist and anarchist) workers’ movement. They did that on behalf of a virulent criticism of its shortcomings: blindness or complacency about racism, sexism and colonialism.
And starting from these obvious flaws, which should obviously not be denied, they claim to invent entirely “new” political strategies (15). These strategies are, in reality, as “outdated” as 19th-century Marxist or anarchist ideas which they explicitly reject for their “classism”: even if they use a “radical” language in favor of “minorities” (defined outside any class criteria), they struggle for reforms in favour specific population groups; they wish to participate in elections; they would like to take responsibilities within the state and municipal or governmental institutions.
To illustrate the ultimately very respectable character of the PIR, let’s read what Sadri Khiari writes about municipalities: “Within popular neighborhoods, there is a desire for representation, especially at municipal level: it’s a positive change after the 2005 uprisings and movements which occurred in some neighborhoods (16)”. One can also read the “Indigènes’” proposals (17): their “requirements” are extremely moderate and in contrast with their violent denunciations of French State’s structural racism and situation of “postcolonial” people (incidentally let’s note “postcolonial minorities” are never referred to as “proletarians” or even as “workers”: at best they are called “dominated”, at worst they are defined by their “race”– “Blacks”, “Arabs”, “non whites” – or by their religion: “Muslims”).
As regards the adversaries of these “dominated” people, they are never labelled as bourgeois, capitalists or bureaucrats, but as “dominants”. This concept is very vague because a “mestizo” is considered by the PIR as a “dominated” and a “dominant” at the same time, an individual who engages a titanic struggle against his “bad” side within his own body (18).
Finally, a last quotation taken from an article by Alfred Melanine whose title is already revealing: “The influence of American Black movements on French Black movements. Another idea of the nation “. The author concludes his text as follows: “The diaspora concept suggests a community parallel to the idea of race, but which is not totally aligned with it; another idea of the nation, an “internation”, an invisible space from which one can make his/her voice heard. The idea is not necessarily a threat against the state, even if it inevitably reveals its shortcomings. Rather, it suggests a reassessment of the French national idea, clearly inadequate for the population(19)”. (Words have been underlined by us.)
As regards geopolitics, these postmodern currents (the no global movement being their most common expression) support nationalist movements and states of the South against “imperialism”. This notion obviously excludes powers like Russia or China, and emerging powers such as Turkey and Iran. This position is totally “outdated” (if one uses postmodern criteria), because it was defended by the Stalinist Comintern and the USSR in the mid-20s, almost a century ago… But who cares to recall these basic historical notions to militants brainwashed by Le Monde diplomatique or the leftist press?
Can you specify the main criticisms of the PIR with regard to the Left?
The PIR does not really bother to produce a detailed critique of the Left, it prefers to launch poorly documented polemics: they simply wrap themselves in their “non whiteness”, condemning all the Left as “white” and under “Western” influence. They denounce the Left, promoting a “rupture” tactics for obvious strategic purposes.
According to the PIR, the “first victims of social exclusion” are “people coming from the colonies (…) and from “post-colonial immigration””; “regardless of their actual origins, the people living in [popular] “neighborhoods” are transformed into “natives””.
These two statements are contradictory:
– the first one focuses on skin color or “ethnicity” as the standard of all social exclusions,
– the latter denounces social discriminations affecting all proletarians, whatever their skin color, passport and birth place.
Even if the PIR deigns to expand its pseudo-concept of “natives” to all the inhabitants of popular neighborhoods (20), the “white” proletarian has nevertheless to feel guilty for the crimes of “his”/“her” ruling class and to get rid of its burden of accomplice of racism, colonialism and “post-colonialism”.
In a tearful article entitled “White malaise (21)”, Pierre Tevanian writes that “whites are sick with a disease called racism and which affects all of them”; according to him, “being white, in France, in 2006, is to be a dominant” and hold an “exorbitant privilege”. Therefore he must become a “white traitor (22)”; “he should agree to receive harsh critiques from non-whites because of his whiteness, because “natives suffer from the crisis not us!” This subtle “analysis” will certainly convince “white” working poor, precarious, unemployed, pensionneers, etc., to join the… National Front!
The fake concept of “natives” has only one symbolic advantage: it “blackify” a bit those “whites” who adopt this reactionary ideology and accept the “necessity of an exhausting perpetual introspection”. And it’s the same Tevanian who explains that “guilty conscience does not help much”!
The “Indigènes”, who relentlessly denounce the “white antiracist Left’s moral stance”, also adopt a posture of moral superiority. They want to remove all the values of equality, solidarity and brotherhood transmitted by working class struggles and to replace them with a glorification of religion, race, tradition, nation, etc.
They never mention the discussions which took place in the labor movement about fighting colonialism and supporting anti-colonial movements; the relationship between socialist revolution and national revolution; the confrontation between the “permanent revolution” and “socialism in one country” theories; discussions which took place almost a century ago and to which the PIR and postmodern intelligentsia did not add anything relevant…
The PIR reclaims the writings of Frantz Fanon, Amilcar Cabral, Malcolm X and Angela Davis, in an entirely uncritical manner. The “Indigènes” retake analysis defended in the 60s by Black Power militants on “institutional racism” and Blacks’ colonial situation in the United States (analyzes already partly formulated, before the Second World War, by the nationalist Marcus Garvey, Pan-Africanist and philostalinist WEB DuBois and Trotskyist CLR James, even if these three authors drew very different political conclusions from this hypothesis). The PIR mechanically applies these concepts in France, a country where the reflection was almost non-existent in the Left and far Left on these issues, notably because of French republican universalism which is particularly abstract and “color-blind”.
This situation enables the PIR to play with the “white Left” guilt complex in order to impose their nationalist and ethnicist agenda on questions like Palestine, for example, but also a falsified version of French Resistance.
Can you give us examples of their nationalism?
In an interview, Houria Bouteldja had the gall to claim that the PIR is hostile to the idea of the nation state: “We are critical with respect to the constitution of the nation state (… ). The nation state is not a solution in our native countries (23)!”
This is obviously a blatant lie and a smokescreen. First of all, the PIR unconditionally supports “against imperialism” all the movements which want to build a nation-state in the South, beginning with Palestine, of course, but also Algeria, Guinea-Bissau, Lebanon, Iraq (24), Iran and Mayotte (25). In her speech for the PIR 10th anniversary, Houria Bouteldja even made a lyrical reference to the 1955 Bandung Conference, convened precisely by the new Asian and African “nation states” which she pretends to criticize!
Anyway, given the religious sympathies of Mrs Bouteldja, her alleged hostility to the nation state concept does not reassure us, since it’s precisely one of the favorite themes of Salafist sectarians and certain currents of political Islam.
Unlike the ridiculous assertions of Houria Bouteldja I just mentioned, Youssef Boussouma openly praises nationalism, from Morocco to China, from Stalin’s Russia to France under Pétain and Palestine: “As we would have had to support Mohammed V monarchy against the ostracism of French colonial power, as our elders have supported Stalin against the Nazis, Sun Yat Sen in China against the Japanese. Even De Gaulle during the Second World War, despite his reactionary nature, embodied for all patriotic elements, French Resistance. Including for the Communist Party, the party who had 100,000 members shot down, agreed to have at its head a Right-winger. Because at one time this Catholic general who defended rather “maurassien” (far Right) positions a few years earlier, embodied in 1939 the country’s national independence in front of the Nazis and Anglo-Saxons. This is the case today. Hamas embodies Palestinian national resistance and at least this movement came to power through the ballot boxes and supported by a genuine popular movement (26).”
This statement is a catalog of inaccuracies and/or historical falsifications.
De Gaulle did become a relatively important figure in 1940 (his “June 18th call” went unnoticed) and not in 1939! At that time, he could not “embody national independence” since France declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939 and the armistice between France and Germany was signed on June 22, 1940! Moreover, Youssef Boussouma takes up the false myth fabricated by French CP; he pretends 100,000 CP sympathisers were shot down during the war but he adds 25,000 people to the already imaginary numbers given by the Stalinists who pretended in 1945 they had 75,000 sympathisers shot down!!! Anyway, we know today that ‘only’ 4,500 persons were shot during the Occupation. Boussouma conceals the CP active support to the German-Russian pact during almost two years (from 23 August 1939 to 22 June 1941) and its terrible consequences for anti-Nazi (including Stalinist) militants in all Europe; the CP request to the Nazi occupation authorities to republish the CP daily; and Stalinist leader François Billoux’s letter to Marshal Pétain who wanted to testify during the trial against the social democratic leader Léon Blum!! Among many other historical facts known for decades and ignored by brainwashed Leftists.
But PIR’s nationalism does not stop at De Gaulle, it extends to Chirac and his Foreign Minister de Villepin, as writes Fadel Dia: “(…) I even felt a rush of love for France, which had stood up to America, denied to participate to the inevitable Iraq war and was applauded by the UN”. Fadel Dia describes “the pleasure to hear Villepin solemnly talking to the representatives of the world in New York and say that if age and strength are not always incompatible, wisdom is often the mark of those who have lived a long time (27)”!
Hezbollah’s “religiously inspired nationalism” is also object of praise. According to Nicolas Qualander, Hezbollah is “the only movement coming from political Islam to systematically participate in World Social Forums, to be concerned by the debates which stir anti-war and anti-imperialist movements, (…) to publish texts from the Latin American theology of liberation” and to “be at the center of Arab popular aspirations” because it “gave back, fifty years after the nationalization of the Suez Canal by Nasser in 1956, a real sense of political and moral dignity to the Arab masses”.
So you may understand why it’s hard to believe that the PIR can be a determined opponent of nationalism and the nation state!
DTM seems to know very little about anti-Semitism and they consider the extend of the Shoah overrated. Anti-Semitism is not racism in the Netherlands, some say, because it’s supposedly not institutionalized. Can you tell us something about the position of the Indigènes on anti-Semitism in France?
To understand the position of the PIR about anti-Semitism you have first to understand their vision of the different forms of racism and genocides, a vision so common within the Left that it is almost never questioned inside these milieus.
In fact, like all third worldists, the PIR establishes a moral and political hierarchy between the different genocides and war crimes. It considers that Western crimes matter more than others. The “Indigènes” never mention mass crimes or even pogroms committed in the South, starting with the eastern and intra-African slave trades… Or when they do, it’s only to blame the West for these crimes or minimize their scope.
Denying basic historical facts, the PIR considers there is absolutely no link between anti-Semitism in Europe and in so-called Muslim countries: “Natives’ anti-Jewish feelings don’t draw on European anti-Semitism. Their feelings are linked to another story, a colonial history, the history of Israel, and the history of the nation-state (28).”
Houria Bouteldja and her comrades ignore the centuries-old dhimmi discriminatory status in Muslim societies, a status devised against Jews and Christians a long time before Western imperialism intervened in this part of the world. They ignores that the Koran denounces the Jews as “criminals”. They ignore the writings of many Muslim theologians who build a demonic image of Judaism through the centuries.
In short, they ignore anti-Semitism has a history in so-called Muslim countries and believe it started in 1948…
And their position about slave trade is not better.
For example, Martial Ze Belinga, of Afrikara website, said in an interview to the PIR: “Middle Eastern and inter-African slave trades which spread over a longer period [than European slave trade] were less intensive and had an immeasurably small impacter on these societies (29)”. This kind of slavery denial, favored by the lack of testimonies and written documents on Middle Eastern and inter-African slave trades, did not push Sadri Khiari, his interlocutor, to react and object to such a nonsense.
We can observe the same complicit silence when Willy, from the Black Citizens Alliance utters an enormity: “The other slave trades [Middle-Eastern and inter-African] have not affected me at all (30)”. As if the Caribbean Afro-descendants should be indifferent to the plight of Mauritanian, Tunisian and Egyptian Afro-descendants whose ancestors were victims of slavery. Indifferent because they live in “Muslim” countries of course, because the Afro-American example itself is constantly quoted as a reference which “affects” and concerns West Indians!
These are only two examples, among many others, of the reactionary absurdities produced by identitarian theories whose “anti-racism” is very unstable and incoherent.
We find the same kind of ethnic corporatism in Raphael Confiant’s article in which this novelist invokes the necessary solidarity “between French Blacks and Caribbean Blacks who stayed home”, but at the same time he explains that a “black man living in Aubervilliers or Nanterre [Parisian suburbs] can’t know what’s good for a West Indian living in Basse-Pointe (Martinique) or in Vieux-Habitants (Guadeloupe) and vice versa (31)!”
The “white” Argentinian Alfredo “Che” Guevara who conceived a specific guerrilla theory for Bolivian Indians and fought alongside them as well alongside Africans in Congo; or Frantz Fanon, a West Indian “métis” who dared to support the FLN and elaborate about the Algerian liberation war, must have jumped in their graves if they read such identitarian nonsense!
Similarly, when Martial Ze Belinga explains that “European and Western civilizations are the only ones which invented a so-called rational hierarchy between human beings”, he has probably never read Ibn Kaldoun: “Negroes are the only people who accept slavery, due to their lower degree of humanity, their place being closer to the animal stage”.
Regarding Israel, whose most reactionary “Zionist” supporters tend to minimize or deny (outside the Judeocide) other mass killings, war crimes and genocides committed by the West, the PIR takes an equally erroneous position and prefers to expose massacres and mass crimes against “non-whites” committed by “whites”… forgetting other crimes in the name, of course, of anti-colonialism and anti-imperialism.
Can you be more specific about the PIR’s attitude towards anti-Semitism?
The question of anti-Semitism is very sensitive in France because this country “welcomes” both the largest Jewish and Muslim “communities” in Europe; but also because of the collaborationist past of French administration, police and justice with Nazi occupiers during World War II. And because of the falsified version of the Resistance fabricated by Stalinists and Gaullists during this period and especially after 1945…
Born in 2005, the “Indigènes” were initially cautious about this matter although, after Ilan Halimi’s murder in 2006, one could already note they refused to admit it was an anti-Semitic crime.
Their statement (32) published on 1st of March 2006 indeed denounced Ilan Halimi’s murder as an “atrocious”, “villainous” crime, but then questioned “the special treatment given to anti-Jewish racism” without mentioning even once the word “antisemitism”. This text was criticized by some people on the Left, so Sadri Khiari replied in a long article (33). He wondered “why this certainly monstrous incident was able to mobilize anti-Semitic stereotypes – police and justice enquiries will maybe tell us to what extent; and why did this ordinary crime became a major political issue (…)”. Answering to his own question, Sadri Khiari criticized the “political manipulation” organized by the media and all parties around Halimi’s murder; he condemned the “international offensive led by Bush (34) and (…) simultaneously led by the French Right (which will be probably continued by the Left if it comes to power in 2007) against immigration and populations coming from former colonies: Blacks, Arabs, Muslims”; and he also denounced the demonstration bringing together Left and Right parties against Halimi’s murder as a “racist” initiative… His article would have been more credible if the “Indigènes” had proposed an independent demonstration or meeting. But neither them nor the far Left, the anarchists or the UJFP (35) organized anything…
In 2012, after Mohamed Merah had murdered three Jewish children of 3, 6 and 8, in a school of Toulouse, Houria Bouteldja wrote an article entitled “Mohamed Merah and me” in which all her compassion went to the killer’s mother. She didn’t have a specific word for the parents of the Jewish children murdered by Merah (36).
During a meeting, she said “(…) I would like all of us tonight to have a special thought in solidarity with Mrs Zoulikha Aziri, Mohamed Merah’s mother, who is going through an unbearable ordeal”. Merah’s mother name, religion and origins were explicitly mentioned and presented as a meaningful and worthy “political” explanation presented with a postcolonial dressing. But Bouteldja did not deign to mention the name and religion of the three Jewish children and of the adult murdered by Merah. Their mothers’ pain was not worth going into detail and they stayed anonymous for Bouteldja and her audience: “I would like here to express our deep sorrow to the families, fathers and mothers of the adult and children victims of the appalling killings of Toulouse and Montauban”. Their Jewish identity was denied, the obvious anti-Semitic motivation of Merah was concealed by the “Indigènes”. This gross denial of anti-Semitism by the PIR and its spokesperson is highly problematic.
After receiving the support of part of the anti-Zionist Jewish Left, the PIR started to recycle, in good conscience, certain far Right reasonings and terminology about the Jews. To answer your question, the “Indigènes”, like DTM, explain also, of course, that anti-Semitism is not “institutionalized” in France, unlike anti-Muslim or anti-African racism.
I will note, in passing, that these activists haven’t really understood what institutional racism is. Applied to Afro-Americans or to minorities with African or Maghrebine background, this concept allows us to go beyond legal and constitutional appearances (Western States officially condemn racism for a long time) and to expose and fight unofficial discriminatory mechanisms…
But we must also apply this concept to “non-whites” racism against other “non-whites” for example when it targets ethnic minorities in countries like Thailand, Burma, China and Vietnam. Or when we analyze the various forms of racism which oppose mestizos, Afro-descendants and Indians in Brazil, Colombia, Peru or Venezuela, racisms which can’t be only explained by the role of the “Western white”.
When Black Panther Party activists proclaimed “No Vietnamese has ever called me a nigger (37)”, they proved they knew nothing about Southeast Asia, and the multiple and systematic discriminations against the Asian populations who have a darker skin than the “whitiest” of their compatriots, not to mention the tenacious prejudices they have against Africans!
If the “ Indigènes” and “anti-Zionist” circles were able of a minimum of critical thinking, they would also have wondered why anti-Semitism is still a mass political issue in France, for example for popular fascist agitators like the stand-up comedian Dieudonné. But not only they have nothing interesting to say about it but the “Indigènes” make anti-Semitic “jokes” like this one: “This summer, Palestinian keffiyeh is fashionable. Every bourgeois bohemian has to wear one. Not only this symbol of Palestinian resistance has become meaningless, but it undermines Palestinian small craftsmen economy. Indeed, cheap and colorful scarves are now produced in China and flood the market. And it would not be surprising if a Zionist was behind all that (38)”.
About anti-Semitism, the PIR is able to proclaim everything and its opposite. For example, during the PIR’s tenth birthday, in 2015, Bouteldja condemned Dieudonné’s quenelle and referred to the Jewish victims as persons “to whom we owe respect as to all the victims of Western crimes”.
But the PIR also defended the stand-up comedian and anti-Semitic politician Dieudonné as a courageous “native” who confronted the “white” establishment and gave back to the French “blacks” their lost pride… but with a wrong political line. For example, Bouteldja declared in 2014, six years after Dieudonné invited the Holocaust denier Faurisson to one of his shows: “However, I have mixed feelings. First, I would like to start by saying that I like Dieudonné; I like him as the natives like him; I understand why the natives like him. I like him because he did someting important in terms of dignity, of native pride, of black pride: he refused to be a negro servant. Although he doesn’t carry the right political software in his head, he is a resistant. And natives appreciate this resistant attitude much more than the nature of his political allies. He is standing up. For too long we have been forced to say “Yes, Bwana, yes Bwana”. When Dieudonné stands up, he heals an identitarian wound. The wound caused by racism and which damages the natives’ personality. Those who just say “Black is beautiful” can’t understand this dimension of Dieudonné. Because we rejected his integration in the far Right and identified ourselves with his posture of dignity, we could neither give in to natives’ pressures nor yield to whites’ pressures. So we obviously explored a third option which spelled out this analysis. For the whites, the important thing was to say Dieudonné was a fascist. For us, it was to say that Dieudonné was the product of the white political field and more precisely of the Left and its renunciations (39)”.
Bouteldja can declare: “Part of Dieudonné’s native public believes that Jews pull the strings. But it’s a trick of the nation state (40)”. Or: “Basically, the Holocaust must also become holy to me. But I put my conditions: I refuse that the Judeocide becomes holy to me if what I personnaly think is holy is denied by others (41)”. She can also denounce the “ideologies which have destroyed our ancestors before the genocide of Jews and Gypsies”. But these are superficial references, which do not really structure her thinking or the PIR policies.
Caught into a logic of ethnic corporatism, as shown by the quotations I gave you in my previous answer, Houria Bouteldja recently went much further by claiming that the French government protected “the Jews” since the late nineteenth century!
Let’s recall France was a country riddled with anti-Semitism as evidenced by the unjust condemnation of captain Dreyfus in 1894 and the twelve years of controversy until he was rehabilitated in 1906; the existence of militant mass anti-Semitic leagues until the Second World War; the adoption, at the initiative of French law makers in 1940, of a legislation which was even more anti-Semitic (42) than the Nazis; and the deportation, thanks to the zealous French police, of over 75,000 Jews (only 2,000 returned alive) in a general indifference, including from the Left…
Houria Bouteldja defends the absurd and criminal idea that anti-Semitism could have a “progressive role (43)”.
The PIR spokesperson, like many other leftists, refuses to consider that we must fight together against anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim racism (44). She claims to be fighting the “hierarchy of racism” invented by the “white Left”, but her reasoning is the inverted reflection of the position of “Zionist” far Right.
Only two months after four Jews were killed in a Parisian kosher supermarket, she declared French governments had had a “philo-Semitic policy (45)” since 1945 – “philo-Semitic” and “philo-Semites” being coded words in far Right circles for Jews or gentiles-manipulated-by-Jews, from the Dreyfus Affair until today.
For this super “anti-racist” militant who claims to “politicize anti-racism” “the Jews” are used by the French state to “soothe the whites’ conscience and turn the Shoah into a new civil religion (46)”, in order to conceal “the memory of the slave trade”, “the memory of colonization”, “the memory of the genocide of the gypsies” and this supposedly nourishes “resentment against the Jews who are rightly considered as the ‘sweethearts of the Republic’. Here lies the first source of antagonism by post-colonial (47) subjects towards the Jews.”
This text recycles the old French far Right coded language (“philo-semitism (48)”) and mixes it with fashionable postcolonial concepts. Bouteldja does not forget to blame “the Jews” who became “the spokesperson of the western world or more accurately – to use a metaphor – its Senegalese Riflemen (‘tirailleurs sénégalais’), in particular by means of another colonial nation state: Israel, whose mission is to secure the western world’s interests within the Arab world”.
On the top of these disgusting arguments, she presents a totally false image of the French Left as being modelled and mesmerized by the memory of the Holocaust, ignoring (or concealing ?) how the Stalinist parties, Russia and “popular democracies” obliged the Jews, after 1945, to be enlisted as victims of fascism and not as victims of anti-Semitism.
And this policy was immediately applied in France after the Liberation. As underlined by the Shoah Memorial website, on August 6 and September 9, 1948, two laws were voted to determine the status of the deportees and political internees. These laws established, willy-nilly, a hierarchy between the different categories of returnees. “Although not mentioned in the legislation, the Jews were implicitly linked to the category of “political deportees”, a category which brought together, in fact, the bulk of the victims of the Nazi and Vichy regimes. Not wanting to use the categories of the nazi oppressor, the legislator contributed to erase the memory of the Jewish genocide”.
Bouteldja ignores (or hides?) how much this Stalinist (and even Stalino-gaullist) vision of the Jewish question (and its overall anti-Semitic subtext as evidenced by the history of Eastern bloc) has shaped French anti-racism.
With her opaque glasses, she is obviously unable to explain why the MRAP eliminated anti-Semitism from its acronym in 1977, when the “Movement against Racism, Anti-Semitism and Peace” suddenly became the “Movement against Racism and for Friendship between peoples”. Such a political change is at the opposite of the imaginary “philo-Semitism” of the socalled “white Left” invoked by Bouteldja to justify her support to the “progressive anti-Semitism” of the dominated “post-colonial natives” (“Indigènes”) she pretends to represent.
Is it just Bouteldja who thinks like this, or can these ideas be found widely within the Indigènes?
One might think Houria Bouteldja represents an exception inside the PIR. Unfortunately, it’s not the case as shown by several articles written by other militants of her party and which I will now quote.
The first one, Malik Tahar Chaouch (49), engages in a scathing critique of Alain Soral, a fascist agitator who tries to reach out to Muslims by attacking “the Lobby” (i.e. the Jews). The PIR is particularly annoyed because Alain Soral’s website (“Equality and Reconciliation”) reproduced at least two videos of Houria Bouteldja. In the first one, the PIR spokesperson said that anti-Semitism and Zionism were “absolutely inseparable” (an old Holocaust deniers’ credo). In the second video, “Le démon antisémite (50)” (“The anti-Semitic devil”), she collects nonsenses about Jewish history while requiring Jews to be good patriots in every bourgeois state, implying they are a potential fifth column for Israël.
This use of Houria Bouteldja’s videos by the fascist Soral has certainly pushed Malik Tahar Chaouch to explain how the “anti-Zionism” of the PIR differs from that of the fascists. But his arguments lack of any consistency: “However, in the current French context and, unlike old European anti-Semitism, Soral’s doctrinaire anti-Semitism has no real practical consequences. The ‘Jew’ is a floating object, as it is in philosemites speeches denouncing ‘suburbean anti-Semitism’ (51)”. On what planet are the “Indigènes” living? Has this PIR activist forgotten why Ilan Halimi was tortured during two weeks and assassinated in 2006 and why three Jewish children were killed in 2012 by Mohamed Merah in Toulouse, without mentioning the events which happened after his article was written, as the attack against several Jewish shops and a synagogue in Sarcelles by “anti-Zionists” in July 2014 and the four Jews killed by Coulibaly in January 2015?
Malik Tahar Chaouch goes on: “When [Soral] uses and modernizes the old anti-Semitic arguments of the French far Right, he tries to channel postcolonial people towards the far Right, through a pseudo-anti-Zionism, while carefully dissociating Zionism from white hegemony and Western imperialism, by reducing it to a ‘Jewish communitarianism’ infiltrating French elites”.
But what else does the PIR do when it distributes stickers denouncing “Zionists” control over French media, or when it constantly attacks the CRIF as if this federation of Jewish organizations had a decisive impact on the policy of the French State (52)?
Let’s continue our reading, “Now if there is a “Holocaust religion”, we should ask ourselves what does it really defend: “judeocentrism” or the West? From this point of view, Zionism should be primarily defined as a colonialist project which served to “whitify” the “Jews” (especially in Europe) who became allies of their former hangmen.”
If “Zionism” had only been a “colonialist project” to “whitify” the Jews in Europe, the least we can say is that it totally failed as Europe refused to open its doors to European Jewish refugees and Hitler killed six millions of them.
Malek Chaouch also uses the dubious expression “Holocaust religion” – a favorite theme of Holocaust deniers and fascists. He amalgams all “Jews” with “Zionists” of very different trends, claiming that “the Jews” became “allies of their former hangmen”. Another nonsense: the Nazis were no longer in power after 1945, so “Zionists” were unable to ally with their “former hangmen” unless resuming Robert Faurisson’s lies on the collaboration between Hitler and “the Jews”… Or does Malek Chaouch consider all Western states as “hangmen” of the Jews, including the United States? Finally, between 1947 and 1949, it’s the Soviet Union and not the United States which were the main ally of the new “Zionist” state and made its military victory possible against Arab armies. The USSR was not really representative of the “white West” at the time, at least that I know of.
In a text written by another PIR activist, Sherine Soliman, who extensively quotes Edward Said, one can find the same absurd unhistorical considerations about “Zionism” and the same dangerous amalgams: “Any French with a post-colonial background has reasons to feel, intimately and racially, inferiorized by the fact Zionism continues its colonial enterprise, and thus to feel he/she is inferiorized by French politics supporting this ideology (53)”. In other words, all “non whites” should hate “Zionists” (i.e. Jews in leftist minds).
Even if PIR activists pretend to shut the door on Soral fascist reasonings, Sherine Soliman lets them get in by the back door: indeed, Soral is trying, too, to convince French with “migrant” and “Muslim” background that their inferior status in France (at least as regards workers, certainly not Justice or Education ministers like Rachida Dati or Najat Vallaud-Belkacem; senior bank executives like Hakim El Karoui; or businessmen like Yazid Sabeg) has a close relationship with “Zionism”, therefore with Jews.
PIR militants know nothing about the history of anti-Semitism or of the various Zionisms, and don’t hesitate to play with fire to feed identitarian hates on which they hope to build their “native political field”.
In Netherlands DTM repeatedly argued that people who actively promote gender unequality and homophobia should also be able to participate in the growing anti-racist movement, in order to make it “as broad as possible”. We believe, on the other hand, that this kind of “openness” actually endangers the growth of the movement as many women and people from the LGBTQ movement won’t feel welcome to join. Could you tell us about the position of the “Indigènes” on patriarchy and homophobia and so on?
You must first remember that, in France, such issues as women’s rights and even homophobia are constantly brandished by the media, the Right-wing and secular-social-chauvinist Left against “Muslims” and that “Arabs” and African migrants are often said to be “polygamous”. And these twisted “arguments” are of course also propagated by the far Right, the National Front, at least since Marine Le Pen decided to invest this field, as Geert Wilders in the Netherlands.
Obviously, these reactionary leaders don’t use the word “patriarchy” but French politicians and most mediatized intellectuals generally have a high opinion of Gallic “gallantry”, of French women’s “sexual freedom” – all French women are supposedly feverishly waiting for males’ compliments. In fact, these people are merely defending men’s rights, including political leaders, to “hit on” or “flirt” in a very heavy way, to sexually abuse political journalists in exchange for information or to have violent behavior as shown by the various trials of Socialist Party leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
Faced with such opponents who claim to teach “feminism” to Maghrebine or African migrants, the far Left doesn’t feel very comfortable to defend women or gay rights. Similarly it can’t vigorously denounce anti-Semitism because anti-Muslim racism is supposedly “most important”; it’s “institutionalized” and in any case “the Jews” are enjoying a “privileged (54)” situation; so it can’t defend gender equality and can’t confront retrograde traditions defended by reactionary Muslim organizations inside migrant communities, for fear of being accused of anti-Muslim racism or of racism tout court.
The situation is further complicated by those young women with Muslim background who denounce the weight of Muslim traditions in their “communities” in France and have often allied themselves with the Socialist Party (see the example “SOS Racisme”- and “Ni putes ni soumises”-movements) and with secular-social-chauvinist Left intellectuals who are in fact hostile to immigration (as shown the discussions and controversies surrounding the 2004 law against “conspicuous religious symbols” in reality directed only against the hijab).
Finally, to add to the confusion, Femen-militants claim they also attack Islam in the name of “feminism”, as shown by their last intervention in a “Muslim Salon” in Pontoise, on September 12, 2015, during which they shouted “Nobody submits me, nobody possesses me, I’m my own prophet”, a particularly stupid action and slogan if they wanted to reach Muslim women and undermine “Muslim patriarchy” advocated by some reactionary “imams” delivering speeches during this event.
Such interventions can only play into the hands of the “Indigènes”…
As for sexism, we must recognize that the “Indigènes” were right to say that the 2004 law against “conspicuous religious symbols” was a law against Muslim women, a racist law, in the sense that it nurtured anti-Muslim racism without advancing the cause of secularism.
It should be noted that the PIR does not defend secularism at all, on the contrary. In the columns of the PIR newspaper, Christine Delphy has denounced “the sly transformation of atheism into the French state religion”(55) (?!). This proposal is both false and absurd when we know the weight of the Catholic church in France, as shown by the millions of Catholic protesters who took to the streets across the country against the Savary bill, to defend private schools in 1984, and in 2013 against gay marriage.
But we must admit that the “Indigènes” have rightly pointed out that the hijab has a different meaning in the Arab-Muslim world and in the West, and that we must be precise when comparing the situation of Muslim women in Iran or Saudi Arabia and the situation in France, for example.
I can only repeat what I heard an anarcho-syndicalist worker declare in a public debate in Toulouse: “What is important is not the veil that some women carry on their heads, but the one we, men and women, carry in our head.” This “veil” symbolizes all gender, racial, social, religious, nationalistic prejudices, which also exist in the Left and against which we must relentlessly fight.
At the same time, we can’t ignore that wearing the “hijab” – or worst the “burqa” or “niqab” – is not a meaningless religious private choice like preferring to wear green or yellow clothes. It’s a religious private choice and simultaneously a uniform, a propaganda tool, for religious reactionary groups (Salafists) and politico-religious (Islamist) groups, both in the North and South. Anyway, this is certainly not a matter of personal taste as wearing a string: this ridiculous comparison is precisely quoted in a book of interviews edited by supporters of the “Indigènes”!
In this context, the PIR has a field day denouncing the racist Right and pseudo-universalist Left (what they called “Left fascists” in a section of their newspaper between 2005 and 2008) which defend women rights only when they are… Muslim by religion or culture.
And how about homophobia?
Regarding homosexuality, Houria Bouteldja is always keen to closely stick to prejudices propagated by reactionary Muslim organizations such as the UOIF and PSM, with which it wants to cooperate in the fight against “Islamophobia”. Therefore Houria Bouteldja has explained homosexuality has been imported by the West in the Arab-Muslim countries. She said: “The homosexual lifestyle does not exist in [popular] neighborhoods. Which is not a flaw”; “Marriage only concerns white gays. When you are poor, precarious and discriminated against, only community solidarity counts. People adapt and make compromises because they have other priorities (56)”.
But that’s not all: according to Houria Bouteldja, if “Muslims had protested against gay marriage but refused any alliance with the far Right or even the Right, it would have seemed interesting to us, because we would have been dealing with racialized groups who dare to defend for their own positions” (57). She claims that the PIR and popular neighborhoods’ inhabitants have the right to stay “indifferent” vis-à-vis gay marriage, LGBT struggles and politicization of sexual issues.
Two supporters of the PIR, Stella Magliani-Belkacem and Felix Boggio Ewanjé-Epee, wrote a book “The white feminists and the Empire”. According to them, homosexuality, like identity, is a Western notion alien to the Arab and African world! A rather funny remark for people who ceaselessly praise “post-colonial” or “non-white” identity as the ultimate proof of minorities’ radicalism. And Boggio Ewanjé-Epee “denounces the attempt to make homosexuality a universal identity which would be shared by all individuals and all peoples (58)”.
|Bouteldja: Palestinian women do not long for abortion rights
At a symposium on “Islamic feminism” in Spain Houria Bouteldja was asked whether Palestinian women have access to abortion. The Indigènes spokeswoman had recently visited the Palestinian territories. She considered the question a “Western” interference. “Palestinian women would not even understand why they are asked such questions,” she said, “because for them the demographic problem in Palestine is important. Their perspective is very different. For many Palestinian women having children is an act of resistance to Israeli ethnic cleansing”. We should understand that not all women live in “the same space-time”. Palestinian women would, in their “space-time”, not need to have access to abortion, but only want to produce children. It was remarkable that Bouteldja, a French woman who always says that people should be allowed to speak for themselves, here thought she could say what women in that other “space-time” would like. And that they would accidentally want exactly what their Islamist rulers want from them. As if there has never been a flourishing feminist movement of it’s own in the Arab world, which was more radical in many ways than the European one, and which was attacked fanatically and physically by political Islam, and whose women were branded as “collaborators” with the West . More on this in “Indigènes de la République: derrière le feminism islamique, le racism et le patriarcat” of Luftmenschen.
Do the Indigènes support women’s struggle?
The problem with the PIR, and most of the Left and far Left Western intelligentsia influenced by postmodernism and multiculturalism, is that they don’t really support any women’s struggles for freedom and equality, even if they pretend to be hypercritical vis-à-vis all forms of domination.
In the South, they defend a timid position because they think local feminists are manipulated by imperialism and/or the Western “white Left” particularly in socalled “Muslim” countries. Or they advocate a “Muslim feminism”, the content and contours of which are rather nebulous (59), as evidenced by the “Native feminists Call” who denounced the “war of the sexes”, an expression that one would expect to find in far Right writings.
In the North, they are reluctant to engage in feminist struggles because Western feminists are mainly “white” and belong to the “white” majority which is supposed to enjoy many “privileges”.
A “Native feminists Call (60)” was published in “L’Indigène de la République”, the PIR’s paper. Reading it enables us to capture the insoluble contradictions with which they are struggling. After denouncing “the dictates of white men’s universalism and white feminism”, those women who “betray the community order”, the texts pleads for
– Religion (“We reject all ideological prejudices according to which feminism is supposedly incompatible with religious faith; therefore we will also carry and defend feminist women believers” (61);
– And family and cultural traditions (“We refuse the injunction to disloyalty sent to us with all the sacrifices which it provokes: family breakdown, gender competition and war: we refuse to distance ourselves from our cultures which are indicted every day”(62)).
Employing a language worthy of the UN, the “Native feminist Call” claims: “Every woman has the right to choose her way of life in continuity, composing or breaking with her culture, tradition or religion”(63).
Anxious to adopt a more radical posture, those “Native feminists” don’t forget to mention the “close relationship between patriarchy and imperialism,” but this proposal only serves to erase centuries of male and religious (Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish or Christian) domination which preceded the penetration of European powers in the South.
This doubly abstentionist attitude in reality plays into the hands of the ruling classes, both in the “third world” and in the major Western powers because it limits all attempts to initiate or strengthen solidarity between women struggles for equality in the North as well in the South.
What do they refer to when they mention the relation between patriarchy and imperialism?
In the 60s, we heard the same kind of verbal diarrhea and pseudo-radical reasoning among third worldists, especially among Maoists, and even some Trotskyists. For these activists, European workers were all “integrated” by “consumer society”; their living standards depended on the exploitation of third world countries, so no solidarity was possible; we could only count on the struggles of exploited migrant workers in the West and exploited peasants in the South… Again, no class solidarity was possible, since “white” (Western) proletarians living in imperialist countries were supposed to live off “non-white” proletarians in the South and the North.
We find this narrow view in the way Sadri Khiari interpreted, in June-July 2007, Sarkozy’s election victory as “an improvement in the balance of power in favor of white power, that is to say also of a portion of the working classes (64)”.
Yet in the same issue Said Bouamama rightly wrote: “Racist domination contributes to obscure certain social divisions in favor of others; it encourages a culturalist and ethnocentric interpretation of social issues; it encourages unequal competition within members of “white” popular classes; therefore “poor whites” and post-colonial migrants can only define themselves by their respective environments (65)”.
The “radical reversal of the stigma” advocated by the PIR (following the steps of many other Left identitarian groups since the 60s) just leads to the impasse Bouamama denounces in his text, and which he only attributes to racist domination: hostility between “poor whites” and “postcolonial” people is also reinforced because, on both sides, Right and Left, they only receive explanations based on “race” – regardless whether the PIR, or other Left theorists, claim it’s only a “subjective race,” an “efficient lie”, or a “socio-political” term and not a biological concept. No one can use a concept as connoted as race for centuries without causing considerable political damage – and indeed a “regression” consciously wanted by the PIR.
Moreover, contrary to what Said Bouamama believes, “migrants and their children” don’t form a homogenous block which would only “belong to the working class and even to its most exploited and dominated sectors”. Social mobility is a real process within the socalled “postcolonial” immigration which is, too, structured by a division into classes with conflicting interests.
The PIR, which often claims to follow the example of the Black Panther Party and has invited Angela Davis to its tenth anniversary, on May 8, 2015, should have nevertheless noticed that nothing prevents a society based on institutional racism, as the United States, to create, even under pressure of minority struggles, an extensive black middle class (which shares precisely the same sympathies for identitarian discourses as the PIR) and a black bourgeoisie, or even to put at the head of the State Barack Obama (66), at the head of its armed forces Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice at the head of its diplomacy. All three were of African descent and waged colonialist and imperialist policies exactly like the “white elite”.
In fact, postmodernists, and therefore also the “Indigènes”, have no desire to overthrow capitalism (or even to halt the domination of men over women, no matter what “native feminists” pretend). Indeed, their main “priority”, if not their main political function, is to enforce national, ethnic and religious “non-white” “traditions”, under a radical, anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist pretext (67). This is exactly the position taken by Tarik Ramadan (68) who approved and signed the Natives Manifesto.
Within the PIR some discussions may have occured about their obsessive denunciation of “white feminists” and “female traitors”, (targeting all women who criticize their “community” from a feminist, secular or revolutionary point of view), as evidenced by a fascinating interview of Kaissa Titous (69) conducted by the PIR. Titous recalls the essential role played by Maghrebine girls and women who initiated and led many mobilizations in working class suburbs during the 70s and 80s, both to denounce the violence of the cops and their unpunished murders, and to organize solidarity with their imprisoned sons, brothers or cousins, to strengthen solidarity among all residents, etc.
Titous remarks: “We have never seen feminists who came as such in the suburbs and stood with migrant women”; but she also stresses that migrant women living in popular neighborhoods “met with generous French women, trade unionists, political activists, members of Catholic or Protestant organisations, who often accompanied and helped them – it was a time when the word solidarity meant something”. Kaïssa Titous recalls that “[our fathers, our husbands, our brothers] have been accused of all flaws: violent with women, polygamous offenders, rapists, thieves, macho and now terrorists”. She concludes with these words of wisdom: “Basically, I don’t disagree with the word ‘white’ as a social reference. But I find it ineffective. Using this concept gives ammunition to those who want the movement to die. (…) in my neighborhood (…) there are many ‘white’ women who are exploited, despised and very poor (…)”. Unfortunately, this type of criticism is ignored by the PIR.
Next to transatlantic slavery, the struggle in Palestine seems to be most important to DTM activists. Some of them consider Hamas activists to be heroes and they refuse to cooperate with anyone who disagrees. How’s that in France? Do they consider religion and even fundamentalism progressive?
Let’s start with the question of religion. The PIR assumes that Islam is the main identitarian reference for “non whites” in France, so it influences its vision of world politics.
In an article with the revealing title “The PIR: a party of communities and individuals” Walou writes that “as a decolonial party, the PIR will, for example, be a space allowing its Muslim component to assert its Islamic identity, to think and express its politics through Islam as well as it will allow its black component to express its own historical condition”(70).
On the same page, an article by H. Lalla (“My Muslim faith, my political commitment”) hammers the religious nail home for those who did not understand: “My Islamicness is much more than a source of well-being; it’s, in my view, a structured frame which structures my existence in an increasingly globalizing society where benchmarks are continuously shattered”. And the author adds that her faith enables her to emancipate herself from “the dominant culture”, a curious assertion in a world where 57 states have joined together to form the Organization of Islamic Conference, a structure which never defended the interests of “dominated” Muslims, wherever they live!
But, don’t worry, Christian obscurantists also have their place inside PIR since Ezzine Lasslaa claims (without giving us any detail) that “Christian black theology has completely reversed the values of colonial Christianity”(71); she invokes the struggle of Kimpa Vita, a Christian prophetess, against Portuguese settlers in Congo. Apart from this brief historical allusion (which ignores that Kimpa Vita respected the Pope’s authority), the author tells us nothing about the political role and content of Christian-based messianisms in Africa!
Also in the same issue, Zulficar praises Sheikh al Qassam Azzdine (72), who “brings together the three characteristics of the exemplary revolutionary hero: an exemplary life, pure intentions and a sublime end”. “All at once political leader, religious leader and military leader, community activist and preacher, he struggled for a revolutionary anti-colonial and progressive jihad. His memory invites us to revisit the link between the spiritual and the temporal, between nationalism and Islam, between religion and social emancipation. A journey which makes him one of the main forerunners of the future liberation Islamic theology”. Coherently, the PIR favors relations with “Muslim associations such as Muslim Presence and Spirituality (73), the Union of Islamic Organizations of France, associations fighting against Islamophobia like the Collective against Islamophobia in France or Mothers Are All Equal (74)” .
The love of the PIR for all religions (except Judaism obviously) goes even further to the point that this party sometimes turns into a religious propaganda machine. Indeed, Houria Bouteldja denounces “a growing hostility to the sacred, giving way to a strictly instrumental rationality, meaningless and despising any form of transcendence”. For those who did not understand which religion she defends, she explains: “One of the few figures who rehabilitates us and on which we can project our positive and worthy ‘we’ is that of the Prophet. He allows us to stand up because he embodies justice, righteousness and goodness. He is our positive reflection”(75).
The PIR and its spokesperson have clearly evolved from empathy for believers (expressing a civilizational diagnosis which can satisfy both obscurantist Catholics, Protestants and Jews) to the defense of Muslim faith and religion.
This ultra-sensitivity to violations of the “sacred” does not however encourage the PIR to address the multiple desecrations committed by the Talibans, the soldiers of Boko Haram, Daesh and all those “wretched of the earth” so respectful of the “sacred”, according to the PIR… Nor to explain its views on the “sacred” character of human life shared by Hamas and Hezbollah supported by the PIR.
Let’s note that, in this article on the meaning of “sacred” among the “wretched of the earth”, Houria Bouteldja offers us a curious history of Islam; indeed, when you read her article, you can think that nobody had ever reflected about the “distinction between sacred and profane, public sphere and private sphere, faith and reason” before the Western intrusion in Arab-Muslim societies! But Averroes’ writings (12th century) and his reflection about the relationship between faith and reason were elaborated five centuries before those of Descartes and six centuries before the European Enlightenment philosophers… The PIR supports obscurantist conceptions on religious matters, does not even know the history of Muslim thought (or falsifies it), and its positions are as nefarious on the issue of nationalism.
And what about fundamentalism and political Islam?
In 2013 Bouteldja explained (76) that the PIR unconditionally supported Palestinian Resistance, “whatever its face may take, whatever its ideology (77) “. According to her, “twenty, thirty years ago (78)” the PIR would have supported George Habache, “a Christian communist”, and the PLFP; ten years ago (79) the Fatah of Yasser Arafat, “an Arab nationalist”; and in 2008, when Gaza was attacked, they supported Hamas against “Israel which wanted to destroy” this “organisation supported and elected by all Palestinian population(80)” whose “majority voted for Hamas”.
According to Houria Bouteldja, this does not mean that the PIR will support Hamas forever or maintains “ideological or organic” links with this organization. If Bouteldja and Boussouma invited Ali Fayad, a Hezbollah MP, to come to France and talk at the Panthéon-Sorbonne University, in December 2009, PIR and Hamas must have some links, don’t you think?
One has to understand what lies behind these “anti-imperialist” words: for the “Indigènes”, as for the vast majority of the Left, far Left and even some anarchists, religion is an increasingly important element of their identitarian politics, and that they do not have a clearer position on the role of nationalism in the South or the North.
Paradoxically, while no global movements have regrouped, over the past two decades, hundreds of thousands of activists in the North and South to organize actions and countless meetings against “neoliberalism”, at the same time a baroque and harmful idea has spread: peoples of the North and South are supposed to have nothing in common; proletarians in the North are accused of living on the back of those of the South; and in the major Western countries, “white” workers supposedly derive their “social and symbolic privileges” from the exploitation of migrant proletarians. All these propositions are accompanied by considerations on the pseudo-progressive character of religions, including today mainly Islam.
The PIR shares these reactionary platitudes which dominate in the no global movement. Thus, in an article entitled “Lebanon, an exemplary resistance (81)”, Nicolas Qualender praises the “Party of God” (Hizbullah). In the same vein, one can quote the editorial “We will not let destroy Iran. Let’s organize the resistance against the next American war (82)” which does not criticize at all the Iranian regime, as well the interview with Walid Sharara in the next issue “The war against Iran will certainly occur (83)”.
They also help to propagate conspiracy theories of the worst kind. One of their fellow travellers, the sociologist Said Bouamama, made a joint meeting on the 27th of May 2015 with Michel Collon who declared (84): “The Kouachi Brothers have been in reality trained and armed by [French Foreign Minister] Fabius and Co to wage a war against a government which caused trouble to the American and other multinationationals”(85).
Attacking namely Fabius and not the French ruling class, or even social democracy, has three advantages:
1. Everyone knows that Fabius is a Jew and supports Israel’s policy, so you do not need to mention his Jewishness; you don’t risk to be prosecuted for anti-Semitism, but everybody gets the anti-Semitic message;
2. Fabius, although he was finally found innocent, appeared in court for his responsibilities during the scandal involving blood transfusions (this case rejoiced the far Right which was thus able use once more one of the oldest anti-Semitic myths);
3. Fabius was Minister of Foreign Affairs, so this enables to imply that “the” Jews,” the “Zionists” were behind the January 2015 attacks in Paris and are more generally behind Daesch, confirming the rumor which runs on social networks…
Hira and other DTM activists say they want to build a strong movement of black and brown people in the Netherlands, and they are not very fond of “mixed” organizations of people of all colours. Although they keep the possibility open for some cooperation with sympathetic “white” Left organisations, but only when these unconditionally accept the leadership of DTM in the anti-racist and anti-colonial struggle. How’s that in France with the Indigènes?
In an interview (86) conducted on October 30, 2012 two leaders of PIR, Sadri Khiari and Houria Bouteldja, defend a classic position (quite justified on certain aspects), defended in the past by the Black Panther Party or by organizations in favour of Black Power: we agree to make alliances with the “white Left”, but we must maintain a necessary organizational autonomy; we must remain cautious because we don’t want our movement to be politically exploited. Such precautions seem quite reasonable, even though I don’t share the position of the PIR. But I’m not wary of leftists, Trotskyites and anarchists because of their skin colour or racial phenotypes, but because of their political programs, dogmatism, and undemocratic and sectarian practices!
Sadri Khiari and Houria Bouteldja summarize their differences with the “white anti-racist Left”, at least its “radical” fraction: “abstract anti-racism”; “enthusiasm for undocumented workers”(87), “lack of interest absence for the questions posed by popular neighborhoods”, “strong timidity on the issue of Islamophobia”, “lack of critique of Left racism”, “shyness vis-à-vis Palestine”, “refusal to recognize” “natives autonomy””, “too much focus on Right and far Right racism”.
To resume a Maoist expression, I would say they are trying to “walk on two legs”:
– the first leg is the “Printemps des quartiers populaires, an alliance framework which welcomes natives of all stripes and white organizations”; this front was created by the “Indigènes” “in order to make certain topics visible during the presidential campaign (…): North-South relationships, Palestine, Arab revolutions, economic crisis, popular neighborhoods – including police violence –Islamophobia, etc”(88).;
– and the second leg, the “Front uni de l’immigration et des quartiers populaires” (“United Front of migration and popular neighborhoods”) which is “autonomous with respect to the white Left”.
To answer your question about the alliances, the best is to quote Houria Bouteldja: “(…) the radical Left is our main ally today. How do we choose our allies? In fact, they choose us. We expect that they decide what they think about our battles: Islamophobia, Palestine, state racism, police crimes, etc., and we observe their positions. Unsurprisingly, it’s the radical Left which comes to us”(89).
I perfectly understand the fact that an organization like the PIR or any other group wants to preserve its autonomy. What I harshly criticize is not their will to preserve their autonomy, but their form of ethnic corporatism which looks strangely similar to the ideas of the New Right. Alain de Benoist and present far Right “Bloc Identitaire” praise all “native” cultures as long as each one stays in his original place of birth, remains faithful to his/her religion, family customs and traditions. The “Indigènes” are violently opposed to “interracial” or inter-religious relationships with the same kind of arguments as the political or religious far Right.
They plead against relationships between black and white people?
Under the pretext of engaging in a justified and necessary critique of antiracist paternalism, Azzedine Benabdellah (90) offers a genuine apology for the purity of the race, in the ethnic sense and not at all in a pseudo “socio-political” sense as claimed by the “Indigènes” who falsely pretend this concept is “neither positive nor negative. This is a descriptive term, value-neutral, such as gender or class”(91).
Let’s just discover how “neutral” is this race concept for the PIR: Benabdellah denounces “our gradual disappearance through assimilation and its necessary corollary, métissage”, just as the National Front; this “Indigène” defends here the purity of the “non-whites” while the National Front is concerned about the purity of “native French”. Benabdellah claims that the colonial project was aimed at “totally dissolving colonized peoples”, which is both false and wacky. The examples of Asia, Africa and Latin America show that it was absolutely impossible for “white” settlers to become a demographic majority in the South; or they would have needed to organize both a partial genocide of non-European, native peoples (as it happened with the first Americans), and a systematic “métissage” with survivors (a thing North American “whites” refused to do), a strategy which would have finally resulted in eliminating the… white “race”. The theme of the “dissolution” of the “natives” by whites is the exact mirror image of the paranoid theme of “Eurabia”, according to which non-EU migrants plans to “dissolve” the peoples of Europe in order to dominate them.
In both cases, we are dealing with identitarian fantasies, mixing racial, cultural and religious components considered as eternal by Right and Left identitarians.
As regards Houria Bouteldja she is even clearer than her comrade: “To defend a decolonial perspective means to allow us to marry someone from our community. To break the fascination of marrying some member of the white community. It’s certainly not favouring “métissage” – a notion which I don’t understand. (…) A decolonial perspective implies first to love ourselves, to accept ourselves, to get married with a Muslim or Black man or woman. I know this seems like a regression, but I assure you this is not the case, it’s a giant step (92)”.
Gently pressed by the questions of “Vacarme”, Houria Bouteldja claims once more she is “indifferent”, neither “for nor against” interracial relationships, as on gay marriage. Individually, according to her, the PIR is “indifferent” to interracial relationships, but this indifference does not apply on the social and political level (?!). As any good leftist who evades embarassing questions, she claims this problem will be dealt with when the planet would be “decolonized” according to “ethno-religious” borders; so then we will be able to discuss this issue. In other words, one has to establish a global apartheid and once this ethno-religious segregation system will be introduced, we will raise the question of interracial relationships!
In the name of “decolonialization”, the PIR defends both the purity of the “black race” and the influence of Muslim religion which would lose its social and political power if mixed weddings between Muslims and non-Muslims, “whites” and “non whites” would generalize.
As we see, the PIR invented nothing and merely repeats old reactionary recipes…
Do you see a future for the Indigènes and DTM movements? What direction could they turn? Will they continue growing? Or have they already reached their greatest heights and will now start to decline?
The PIR attracts much more people with Arab or Amazigh background than people with African or West-Indian background. Each of these different communities has its own story of resistance against French colonialism.
For example, French West-Indians with African background did not wait for the PIR to organize themselves in the West Indies but also in continental France. They denounced French slavery and struggled so that slavery will be recognized not only by the state but also in textbooks, in the medias, etc.
So I doubt the “Indigènes” can fuse all black and brown people in a mass “decolonial movement”. Probably each “community” will keep its own groups or associations, specially as the French state plays one community against the other when it has to distribute financial help and to grant a patent of respectability or representativeness.
As regards the Coordination of Undocumented Migrants, predominantly African, even if they can be influenced by the same ideology they will probably keep their independance.
The “Indigènes” won’t have much space on the official political scene if they want to shake the game of the traditional Left and far Left parties, and in a larger and longer perspective the rules set by the French state since 1789. But they may gain a symbolic power in the media, publishing houses and in the academy, because they don’t represent a serious threat to the capitalist system, on the contrary. Their main aim is not to organise the poor and the oppressed coming from former French colonies, but to find a little niche in the capitalist superstructure as producers of ideology.
They are part of a French intelligentsia which loves fashionable debates led with a rather obsure or at least elitist vocabulary. What is more preoccupying, is not the militant influence of the PIR, which is and will very probably stay limited, but their presence in a larger confused current which they feed with lousy polemics. They use the social media and you can observe the impact of their ideas if you listen to the community radio stations, for example French West-Indian or Muslim, or read community websites, for instance oumma.com. But also on the two national radios : France Culture and Radio France Internationale. Their identitarian ideology offers an easy explanation to the exploited with non European backgrounds who are victims of structural racism or open racism (except the Asian migrants who are not touched by their propaganda, although according to the PIR’s pseudo theories Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodian and Pakistani people are certainly “non-white”). Chinese migrants are not affected by their propaganda, but rather by the Right. Two successive xenophobic demonstrations were organized in 2010 and 2011 by some leaders and businessmen of the Chinese community against the “Arabs” and Africans. Even if the appeal calling to the demonstration in French was moderate, it was not at all the case in the comments written in Chinese on social networks.
The confused ideology of PIR and other (African, West Indian, Maghrebine) identitarian groups nurture their frustrations against the majority of the workers who are neither “non-white” nor Muslims. That’s their most vicious indirect influence: to divide the exploited, along a racial, national, ethnic and religious line, with a pseudo Left rhetoric.
As we mentioned, both Nad and Yves wanted to add some comments after answering the questions of the interview.
Nad, you had doubt participating in this interview?
When these questions about the “Indigènes” were sent to me last year, I agreed to answer them in a concrete framework: they came from a group of Dutch comrades, struggling for years both against precarity and racism, in a broad perspective, including the struggle for open borders and the regularization of undocumented migrants.
Even then, I would not have agreed to answer in another context. The January 2015 attacks, and especially its social consequences in France, have only strenghtened my position. We can’t elaborate critiques on a specific subject, draping ourselves in a personal “objectivity”, in noble motives which would exonerate us from an overall analysis of power relations and of practical consequences of our critiques.
In France, critizing the PIR has become something very important for Left and far Left racists; it has become a central point for those who support the so-called “minorities’ tyranny” thesis: in many ways, the PIR plays today the fantasy role played by the French Jewish Defence League for the anti-Semitic Left and far Left wingers. It crystallizes a hatred whose object is not this or that political organization in itself, but the minority it’s supposed to embody; and criticizing the PIR is now one of the ways to express this hatred under a respectable cover.
The critique of the PIR developed by social democrat, communist as well as anarchist groups has for them a last additional advantage: by presenting the PIR as an “organization external to the workers movement and radical Left”, which has supposedly influenced the far Left as an alien virus would have done, many activists erase, about anti-Semitism as about other questions, ten years of assumed drifts, theoretical and practical collusions with far Right anti-Semitism. A phenomenon in which the “Indigènes” haven’t played any central role because the (Trotskyist) NPA, (reformist) Front de Gauche, “Le Monde Libertaire” (anarchist), and many others did not need anyone to retrieve a legacy rooted in our political histories.
Recognizing this fundamental fact would have had painful consequences even for those who didn’t participate directly to the anti-Semitic offensive, but had a passive attitude, or weakly protested without ever questioning their alliances: it’s clearly much easier for radical Left militants to unite against the PIR and try to exclude this group from political initiatives than to attack comrades and organisations with which they cooperate every day.
For example, it’s much easier to put the blame on socalled “PIR islamists” for the anti-Semitic events which occurred in certain pro-Palestine demonstrations during the summer of 2014, than to denounce all its organizers, i.e. those with which one works locally and throughout the year on every issue.
This highly visible political calculation already led me necessarily to question the meaning and use of criticizing the PIR if we wish to draw some progressive consequences from this critique.
After January 2015, this germination process came to end and gave many nefarious results.
You think the Indigènes are made bigger and more important in France than they really are?
I sincerely confess the PIR does not interest me at all for months. Within a year and a half, the probability that the radical fraction of the parliamentary Right and the far Right will take power is huge. Such a situation will strenghten enormously all racist and anti-Semitic movements, not to mention other dangerous consequences. As a precarious worker and as communist, this is what really concerns me. And seeing that one fraction of the far Left spends its time criticizing the PIR, while the other fraction is obsessed with “Zionists”, pushes me to take a more and more distant attitude towards my original current.
Precisely because the social question is my priority, and because I see too many far Left militants who try to destroy and not to build positive movements. By this I mean not only radical Left militants, including the PIR, who share racist and/or anti-Semitic obsessions, but also those who equate migrant autonomous struggles with a “racialization” process as it has happened with many critiques directed against the last March for dignity and against racism of the 31st of October.
As regards anti-Semitism, the “Indigènes” are only modest propagators, in restricted circles, of theses popularized by far more powerful and innovative currents.
PIR’s anti-Semitism is a Left anti-Semitism which pretends to be universalist. Even in Bouteldja’s text about an alleged French “philo-Semitism”, she claims to help and protect the Jews. The PIR still shares an universalist pretention which is typical of the French Left. The same kind of universalism, for example, which pretends to oppress veiled women “for their own good”, and “to liberate them”. Left movements never assume their pulsions of domination, their racism or their anti-Semitism, because these flaws enter obviously in conflict with their official philosophy.
Simultaneously, the islamophobic and racist wave which affects the entire French political field and all racialized people’s everyday life is an essential historical event. Since January 2015, people suffering from mental pathologies, drunken homeless, employees denounced by their colleagues and people reported by their neighbors have been sentenced to several years in prison for “incitement to terrorism” after immediate hearings trials. Others saw an armada of heavily armed cops invading their home after a false accusation of “terrorism”.
Some comrades argue that statistics on islamophobic acts are being falsified by “communitarians”. But only a small part of the persons concerned have reported insults in public transports or in the streets, at their workplace, at school gates, etc. The words of 6 or 8-year-old children have been considered as proofs of their “radicalization” or of their parents.
In the cities controlled by the National Front, but also in those managed by the Right, daily persecution techniques grew at lightning speed. Mayors and municipal councellors rack their brains to find all the time new ways to harass Muslims and Arabs, wherever they are, and to denounce them and their “collaborators” (an allusion to the German occupation) as responsible for all problems. Some impose pork in school meals, others protest against some sentences sung in Arabic during a school party, others forbid their municipal employees to speak Arabic among themselves, or track veiled women on beaches, during school trips or in law universities.
What did the “universalist” Left against this racist terror? Nothing, because it was too busy tracking down “islamization” everywhere in the name of an alleged defense of secularism. After January 2015, and while many militants claimed that the mobilization of several million French people on January 11, 2015 was a “Left-wing” and “anti-racist” mobilization, there was no attempt from secular militants to capitalize on this anti-racism. No call was launched to protest against the attacks and arsons of mosks, no mobilization was set against the socalled “glorification of terrorism” crime and what it has generated.
Only such a mobilization could have validated the critiques directed against the alliance of some radical Left groups with the UOIF (linked to the Muslim Brothers) and PIR during one rally against islamophobia in the early spring 2014. In the absence of such a mobilization, it was both bold and stupid to criminalize those most concerned by the racist wave of attacks, be they reactionary Muslims, for doing something different from what we wanted to do. And obviously, this initiative could only attract a portion of those who rightly consider that a reaction against racist attacks was necessary.
This “critique” recalls those aimed at demonstrations against anti-Semitism, attended by reactionary, pro-Israeli Right-wing nationalists and racists. But then, again, even after the attack against the Vincennes Jewish supermarket in January 2015, militants had no choice if they wanted to publicly protest against anti-Semitism. There were only demonstrations organised by socalled “Jewish” Right or Left organizations, where universalists of different political currents met, because that was the only place to go, because they had to be there (or stay passive) and because they thought it was necessary, even symbolically, to stand in the streets to honor the victims.
In this context, criticizing the PIR is a convenient way to evade analysing the failures and selling-outs of the Left as a whole.
This is also true when some militants criticize the PIR’s attitude towards class struggle. It’s true this group believes that social class is not the first criterion which divides society. So what? It’s also the case of the Socialist Party, the nationalist Front de Gauche and part of the anarchist movement.
But, contrary to the PIR, all these forces direct their propaganda towards the whole French population. The PIR is only interested to present its position towards class struggle to the socalled “native” minority. So why such interest and focus on this little group’s positions? Is it because the “universalist Left” is so much interested in racialized people that it wants to fully integrate them in its organizations?
I have no such impression. On the contrary, racism in the unions or islamophobia in the Left are very well tolerated. The spokesperson of “Oser le féminisme” (“Dare Feminism”) recently said that “Islam and feminism are incompatible” and that a Muslim veiled feminist therefore posed a problem. It’s her right to think so, but in this case, nobody should complain that veiled women who want to lead feminist fights choose to join other groups.
Similarly those who loudly denounce the “sociological white” concept put forward by the PIR, a concept which suits me up to a certain extent, exagerate a lot when they pretend the “Indigènes” are thus attacking poor and precarious white workers.
I’ve never seen anyone being excluded from a struggle because he (or she) was Franco-French. By cons, as the racist wave is rising, I have seen more and more Franco-French unemployed and precarious workers hold offensive speeches against racialized precarious people, refusing to ally with them, considering they should not be defended by our organizations.
As the National Front influence is rising, many racialized employees must face the combined racism of their foremen and of their colleagues. And it’s not the PIR which impedes them to support a class alliance between “white” and “non white” workers, but racist persecutions and prejudices. Racial prejudices obviously supported by the bosses.
To summarize, the PIR has not the importance some people pretend it has. Even in the French University, and more generally in the intellectual field.
First, because the University is no longer what it was: it’s no longer a place where current society leaders are trained, it’s no longer a massive cultural melting pot. Today, most students work to finance their studies, and therefore have a limited time to socialize politically and culturally where they study. Hence a huge decrease of student activists in the various Left organizations and an important loss of influence for these groups.
Some researchers work in the field of socalled “post-colonial studies”. Not so many, and if one goes to a public library, one realizes few of their books enjoy an important distribution. In the media it’s even more obvious: a single presence of the PIR in a TV show can trigger years of controversy. But whatever the content of their appearance in the media, one can’t assess its importance without comparing it to the audience of their opponents: for example, the journalist Caroline Fourest has regular columns on radio, a TV show on LCP (parliamentary network) every month, and that’s when she keeps a low profile.
Therefore, “post-colonial” theories are actually very little known.
Regarding the dissemination of an anti-Semitic software under the guise of anti-Zionism, for ten years, it has grown as follows: initially it developed inside in the far Left, in the no global movement, then it was amplified and disseminated on a large scale by the movement around the stand-up comedian Dieudonné and fascist writer-agitator Alain Soral. This movement has contaminated, on a very large scale, part of the population of this country, whether they come from a migrant backgound or not. Like others, the “Indigènes” have praised Dieudonné before he officially went to the far Right; more frankly than others, the PIR continued to find excuses for Dieudonné and to applaud part of his speeches even after his political turn to the far Right. But one must be very clear: Dieudonné and Soral come from the French Left, not from anti-colonial movements of migrant background.
Yves Coleman said, earlier in this interview: “In France, there are several fascist movements calling themselves “identitaires” starting with the “Bloc identitaire”. I decided to label the PIR and other multiculturalist and postmodern forces “Left identitarians”, both with a sarcastic and political intention.” (note 4). How do you see that, Nad?
The influence of the theories developed by the PIR is rather restricted socially and affects a fairly small socio-professional and activist category: part of the upper middle classes who have made long studies or are presently studying and invested in some radical Left movements. This does not mean one has to neglect their influence, especially when one evolves in far Left circles and one is therefore confronted to these ideas. But one must always keep in mind the exact magnitude of a phenomenon even if one is affected by it, otherwise we condemn ourselves to make gross mistakes.
For the same reasons one can’t assimilate far Right identitarian movements and so-called “communitarian” movements. Because minority political and cultural “communitarianisms” have two characteristics.
First, they stand in a minority position, in a statistical, but also in a political sense. Let’s take a very simple example: who can seriously think a law will oblige girls and women to wear the veil in France? By cons, one can’t exclude that a Right-wing government will extend the existing ban against the hijab in schools and state sector to all the public sphere (streets, markets, shops, train stations, etc.).
Similarly, many people (including Left militants) are scandalized by the fact that, in some neighborhoods, butchers sell only halal meat (these critics usually forget to mention that the layman buys non halal meat in supermarkets nearby, and that traditional French butchers were obliged to close because their prices were too high for the workers living in those neighborhoods). But nobody is scandalized that no halal butcher is available in certain towns or villages, even if Muslims live there.
Such a remark may sound silly, but it’s only because many people think it’s not “natural” to live in France, to be born here and to be a Muslim; every person living in France should accept the existing situation, consider it as “normal”, although the present situation is the cultural and social product of a specific tradition.
This example shows what it means to belong to a minority: when you just want to live normally, you are automatically labelled as a “communitarianist”; if you’re Left-wing, but you consider important that people may have places of worship if they wish, then your atheism will be questioned, and you will labelled as an “Islamophile” or an “identitarian”.
I simply defend equality, therefore I defend the right of everyone and anyone to choose whether they want to have progressive ideas…. or not.
And that’s something the far Left has always had difficulties to understand: I was “educated” in the anarchist milieu and thus, for years, I thought I didn’t have to defend foreigners’ right to vote, because voting was wrong, and because it was useless for them to enjoy this right. It took me a lot of time to measure the arrogance of this position, and the fact it expressed a feeling of superiority: I who enjoyed all rights and have tested them, I decided which rights were necessary – or not – for others.
So the movements labelled as “communitarian” or “identitarian” by Yves helped me a lot, ideologically speaking. Therefore this “communitarian” dimension is not my main source of disagreement with the PIR. I believe this so-called “communitarianism” plays a self-defensive role in some respects and is not at all incompatible with class struggle. That’s also why I don’t agree to use the word “identitarian” to label movements which are so different as the PIR and the far Right.
Franco-French fascist groups which claim to be “identitarian” do not defend themselves against any oppression or exploitation, they attack others. They are not victims of any racism supported by French capitalism. They do not suffer from any discriminations at school, at work, in the street. They are not – what a strange coincidence, isn’t it? – over-represented in all the shittiest production sectors: cleaning, building industry, fast food, personal assistance. Even if some Franco-French are convinced their culture is in danger, it’s not threatened by any minority. We are facing two totally different political and psychological processes.
Racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic threats are real. And so powerful today, in France, that they are also supported by people who are concretely threatened by the oppressors’ global domination.
And that’s what I’m fighting the PIR’s ideology: not because the “Indigènes” are “communitarians” but because they propagate two typical French diseases: anti-Semitism and homophobia.
To these anti-Semitic or homophobic discourses one can always add some piece of Arab nationalist rhetoric or in favour of political Islam, but what counts for me is what a person really does. The few times I have spoken to Arab nationalists or political Islam supporters, their discourse was very different from the PIR: they openly admitted they wanted to fight to death all Israelis and nationalist Jews; for them, Jews want to militarily and diplomatically dominate the Middle East and to this hegemony they oppose their own hegemonic will. In this context, any weapon and any ally is useful, including European anti-Semites. Political Islam militants openly dream of converting the whole world, and, if it’s not possible, at least they dream to extend their influence as much as they can… exactly as we dream of a communist world, too.
You draw a parallel between communism and islamism? Can you explain why?
As opposed to other major ideologies which have enjoyed a mass influence, communism and Islam have a significant common point: their universalism. Not everybody could become a Nazi, because racial lines were essential. Some religions are not proselytic, but Islam, Christianity and communism are open to all human beings as long as they accept their principles. Of course this process is only a theoretical one, in practice it happens differently, but there is a common prophetic dimension, linked to the advent of a new world which will concern EVERYONE, a desire to expand the movement to all nations.
For the rest I do not know if every person claiming to be communist is communist or not. Everyone has his or her own criteria: some will tell you that Stalinism, because it brought together the most important number of Left-wing people and led many countries, was real communism. Others will say authentic communism can only be linked to a particular interpretation of Marx or some of his heirs. Others will tell you authentic communism can only be the result of a pure class struggle and not of parties.
No one can choose where the truth stands between these positions from an outsider’s and objective perspective, especially not us, who like others, believe to be following the right path. It’s the same for Islam as long as the Prophet will not return on earth, we will not know if he would have chosen Daesch or the imam of Drancy as truly respecting the word of God.
Communism is what it has been concretely, from great to terrible experiences, exactly like Islam and religious fundamentalism. And to go further, I think we should always keep in mind that ideology is not everything in a political movement: just as Stalin, of course, has been irrigated and inspired by many other political models than those which he claimed to defend, today it’s obviously not the Koran which inspires Daesch for example. And if we do not analyze situations in terms of class and socio-economic conditions, we fall into abstract forms or reasoning.
Yes, Stalin came from the communist movement, but he was not only that, and even from the moment he took power, he was actually less and less that.
In the same way, what regulates a movement like Daesch has less and less to do with what governs the mere religious practice of hundreds of millions of Muslim believers.
To conclude, in the current period, the “Indigènes” are an epiphenomenon and/or an emanation (among others) of the radical Left today. A Left which sank into facility, which has reconnected with its old flaws and became incapable of building mobilizations and a culture antagonistic to fascism and capitalism. A Left which has adopted the “tyranny of minorities” thesis as shown by its main centers of interest. Texts against “Zionists” and “Islamists” are far more numerous than those dedicated to criticize the MEDEF (main French bosses organisation).
Today, this attitude paralyzes the emancipatory thought as we have seen with the Arab revolutions. For many activists, conspiracy theories provided a convenient and satisfactory explanation. Some compared the Arab revolutions with the dubious maneuvers around the Ukrainian “Orange revolution”; others claimed that they were controlled by Qatar or the Muslim Brotherhood. If the Tunisian revolution sparked a wave of solidarity, it was not at all the case for Libya or Syria, where anti-imperialist analysis have taken over.
Those who identify the “Indigènes” with political Islam are totally missing the point: many French Muslims have supported the Syrian revolution, and it’s to their credit. In France, solidarity with Syrian victims has not to be confused at all with the attraction for Daesch among Muslims. Many young people were ready to help Syrians, providing humanitarian support, but not only, because they are supporting democracy in Syria and are horrified by the massacres committed by Assad.
Can you clarify the difference between the approach of those Muslim associations and the “Indigènes”?
I think the PIR, like many other groups, claims to have political ancestors: in their case, Arab nationalism, certain currents of political Islam at times – their positions are very volatile on this aspect. Already when I mention Arab nationalism and political islam, we are facing two very different currents which are concretely struggling against each other for decades, and permanently competing in many countries. These are very different currents as can be seen in particular in Egypt or Algeria where they fight to death.
However, in France, most political analysis simplify everything, almost as if mentioning that the president of this or that state is Muslim could explain it all.
And the PIR oversimplifies everything too, all the time: their history of decolonization and post-colonialism; it’s really “Everyone is beautiful, everyone is nice, let’s fight all together”. The exact reverse of the racist discourse “They’re all bad guys”.
When I read their texts, I find always the same classic anti-imperialist rhetoric: as long as a movement or state opposes American-Zionist imperialism, they support it. It’s really the ABCs of the ordinary leftist, which has been completely invalidated by Arab revolutions and Syrian revolution. As long as these revolutions were happening in Tunisia and Egypt, this position could still be defended: Ben Ali and Mubarak were imperialism “henchmen”, so the PIR supported the revolution.
But with Assad and Gaddafi, the problem was very different, because we were in front of anti-Zionist and anti-imperialist “heroes” according to the PIR’s catechism. And it was even worse when Hezbollah superheroes came to massacre the population in Syria on behalf of the Assad regime. And I will not mention the recent class movement in Lebanon which affected all communities.
This irruption of democratic demands and the subsequent repression in Syria, where it reached the stage of crimes against humanity, has totally destabilized the PIR, its friends and all the anti-imperialist radical Left.
Driven by their reactionary form of anti-imperialism and anti-Zionism, the “Indigènes” were cornered by this revolution: Assad was supposed to represent the “wretched of the earth” but those “wretched of the earth” did not agree with the PIR. This situation was shattering the coherence of their “anti-imperialist” analysis. Similarly, the “Indigènes” have always presented Nasrallah and Hezbollah as examplary resistants to Americano-Zionism, so when they began to massacre Syrians alongside Assad troops, their discomfort was palpable…. but it was also obvious in all the radical Left. Only the Trotskyist NPA actually supported the Syrian revolution… but very cautiously. At the same time, the CP invited representatives of the Syrian regime at their yearly festival.
We should underline that at least the PIR did not support Assad and Putin as the Left Front (coalition around the CP) did.
Anyway, there is a fundamental difference between the “Indigènes” and Muslim religious movements in France, who were not handicapped by this contradiction, because they do not have an anti-imperialist vision. Solidarity with Syrian opponents and Syrian civilian population has been permanent for four years in these spheres in France. It has become almost as important as calls for donations for Palestine. If we do not understand this difference (and understanding it does not mean that their reasons to support Syrian people are necessarily ours), we can’t understand what’s happening there but also here.
We have entered a new world historical period, all lines are moving and affecting all societies, because technological progress creates new phenomena in terms of communication: knowing what’s happening on the other side of the world pushes people to react and therefore to reappropriate other struggles for themselves. Reading the present situation with forty-year-old glasses may sometimes be very dangerous. To return to the PIR, this group has as little to do with political Islam, 1950s Muslim Brotherhood or Arab nationalism… than we are related to Lenin or Stalin. Claiming a legacy is not enough, one must observe its practical and actual positions.
The PIR is an offshoot of the radical Left, irrigated by contradictory and complex memories. Its political project does not exceed the limits of a representative capitalist democracy where they would represent those with a migrant background. They seek to obtain this role by quoting all sorts of references, from Angela Davis to Nasrallah, Malcolm X and Hezbollah. They pretend sometimes to be panafricanists and sometimes to be supporters of the Ummah and its uniqueness. This ideological mess may work: actually, when you want to represent people, you have both to create scandal and buzz around you and to be consensual and rooted in a representative logic. You can invoke the armed struggle in your speeches, but you recruit municipal councilors. You may present yourself as the most radical group, but ultimately you organize a protest which ends with a nice concert.
We asked you all these questions, prompted by the emergence in the Netherlands of a group partly inspired by the Indigènes in France. Do you have any advice for us?
Doorbraak comrades should continue as they have always done, mixing class struggle and anti-racism, something they have succeeded far better than us until now. And they should stay away from the radical, anti-globalization, anti-imperialist, anti-Zionist Left, while sharply criticizing it. Because they denounced Left anti-Semitism since the early 2000s, they already have all the tools to deal with what is, for me, an epiphenomenon.
Anyway, this kind of European Left is weaker and weaker. It’s likely that a new generation is currently gaining experience in solidarity with migrants in particular, and also in micro class struggles. We must count on them.
Thanks Nad, for the compliments and the energy you have put into answering our questions. Yves, you wanted to add something on the history of Left anti-Semitism?
Indeed, specially on the 1960’s and 1970’s. I remember very well the Sixth Day War between the 5th and 10th of June 1967. At that time, after having being active for two years in the Movement against Racism and Anti-Semitism (MRAP, controlled by the French communist party), I belonged to a national anti-Vietnam war movement controlled by the Maoists. My best friend was in a Left zionist group (Hashomer Hatzair) and he brought leaflets to our high school which I distributed with him. These leaflets were reflecting the Israeli government’s version that Israel was going to be attacked by Egypt and had been obliged to retaliate. I really believed, like him and many persons (Jewish or not) in France and in the world, that Israeli Jews risked to be massively killed. I remember very well how Maoist students of the UJCml who used to be so friendly with us before (we were both active militants in the anti-war and anti-fascist movement with them) started calling us “cops” from one day to the other. They tried to convince all the other students of our high school that we were working for the police. The funniest of all in this story is that part of our accusers were part of the “new philosopers” and became famous Right-wing intellectuals.
I’m not convinced at all, like Nad answered, that the struggle against anti-Semitism was so strong and influential in the Left and far Left in the 1960s and 1970s. More important, I doubt very much the anti-racist movement obliged the French state to get interested in the Judeocide in the 1980s and changed its textbooks mainly because of this influence. There are many more important reasons I would like to explain.
To start with, the same MRAP I was active in during the early 1960s changed its name in 1977 and suppressed the mention of anti-Semitism in its title without provoking any important internal opposition. If you read testimonies about the French Jewish far Left (93), you discover that part of the same Maoist or Trotskyist Jews who were so much in love with this or that “Marxist” fraction of the PLO, were quite shocked when they discovered how Palestinian “Marxists” could not believe their visitors were Jews and could not understand that Jews could even think of supporting their fight. And paradoxically it’s this shock which pushed certain Jewish leftists to later become… “Zionists”! If the vigilance in relation to anti-Semitism had occupied a key place in their political culture, they would not have been so surprised by the reactions of their Arab Marxist comrades.
My hypothesis is therefore different from that of Nad. One has to take into account an international process documented by books like “Anti-Semitism in the American Far Left” (Stephen H. Norwood, Cambridge University Press, 2013) and “Israel and the European Left” (Colin Shindler, Bloomsbury, 2011) as well as articles like “The Persistence of Anti-Semitism on the British Left (94)”, which includes a very clear quotation: “Fringe neo-Nazi groups notwithstanding, significant anti-Semitism is now almost exclusively a Left-wing rather than a Right-wing phenomenon”. This was written by W.D. Rubinstein in 1982 in a book called “The Left, the Right and the Jews”.
The Six-Days War represented a dividing line, a watershed, on the global scale. Nothing was ever the same afterwards both for the Jews internationally and for the “gentiles”. After this war the romantic image of Israel as a country based on “socialist” kibbutzim vanished; the anti-Zionism of the Left and far Left grew and took a more and more anti-Semitic tone, nurtured by Soviet Union’s propaganda which systematically introduced the idea that apartheid reigned in South Africa and Israel, that “Zionism” (or worse ZORG, Zionist Occupied Remote Government) controlled the United States and therefore the world.
The Jews who actively participated to the civil rights movement in the USA and supported various anti-colonialist movements (the Vietnamese NLF for example) started to be treated badly inside these anti-imperialist and anti-racist movements if they did not consider Israel as a purely racist-colonial-imperialist state as bad as South-Africa. One has just to read what leaders of the SDS, SNCC and Black Panther Party wrote and said about “the Jews” in the 1960s.
So the hostility towards the Jews (at least those who hesitated or refused to dissociate themselves completely from “Zionism” and did not want the immediate suppression of the Israeli state) started to grow inside the Left and far Left thirty years before the beginning of the 21st century.
As regards the policy of the French state towards the Judeocide, I would underline other reasons than the “massive struggles of the anti-racist movement” to explain why the Holocaust was progressively introduced in school programs.
The MRAP was never primarily concerned by anti-Semitism as such but much more concerned by the fascist, collaborationist far Right in France and neo-nazis in Germany or elsewhere, as can be easily checked in its press (which I read and sold in the 1960s). Its efforts were centred on anti-Arab, anti-African and anti-migrant racism and became less and less concerned by anti-Semitism during the last quarter of the 20th century in France. The specificities of anti-Semitism and of the Judeocide were much more central to a much more conservative, and much less militant, wing of the anti-racist movement, the LICRA.
To come back to the question of school programs: they are very much linked to university researches. And one knows that historians always prefer to have some time distance with their subject. Those researches in France were a bit problematic because they obliged French historians to deal with the Vichy regime and the collaborationist past of a good part of state functionaries, including many who were still alive in the 1960s and 1970s and served the Fifth Republic of general De Gaulle, an icon of French resistance. Maurice Papon (95), for example, was not brought to trial until 1982 for his role during the Vichy regime and was condemned only 16 years later.
In fact, the renewal of historical researches about the Judeocide and its French dimension was helped by American academic forerunners like Robert Paxton, Stanley Hoffman and Raoul Hillberg, or the Israeli historian Zeev Sternhell, and it’s only in the late 80s that the school system started to include the Judeocide in textbooks as explained by David Born. The passing of time (40 years) explains also why it was possible to deal with the near past only in the 1980s.
Another important element is that in France, as well as in many other countries, identity politics started to grow and influence people’s attitudes in the 1970s. It obviously touched the Left-wing Jews and pushed them to get interested in their family culture and history, in Judaism itself (the former Maoist leader Benny Lévy became specialist of Jewish religious scriptures!), and also stimulated all sorts of historical researches about anti-Semitism in France, researches which were not considered at all as a priority before – and are still not a priority in 2015. Today, there are departments of Jewish studies in Israel, Germany and in United States, but only one in France (which focuses its attention on less political and less recent subjects as in other countries), and most university researchers who are interested in anti-Semitism have a Jewish background, which is rather preoccupying because it shows non-Jewish historians are less interested in anti-Semitism…
This renewed interest in anti-Semitism and the Judeocide was helped also by the way the state of Israel, after the Eichman trial in 1963, decided to reintegrate the story of the Eastern-European Jews into the national history of the Jewish/Israeli people (to strenghten the reasons why the Israeli state should continue to exist) and to give a primary importance to the study of the Holocaust.
All these international factors and transformations inside the social movements of the 1970s and inside European societies (the growth of identity politics and the disappearance of class identity as underlined by Nad after the heavy defeast of the European working class at this period) played a much more important role in the attitude of all Western states towards the Shoah and anti-Semitism, than the supposed influence of mass anti-racist movements struggling against local anti-Semitism. If in 1968 we shouted “we are all German Jews”, to support the Franco-German student leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit, it was not because the Left and far Left were very conscious of the evil of anti-Semitism, but because it was strongly anti-fascist, because the youth was not anti-German anymore, and because someone skillfully forged a lie accusing the general secretary of the French communist party of having denounced Cohn Bendit as a “German Jew” – which was not true. Marchais, the Stalinist leader in question, had denounced in an article the “German anarchist Cohn-Bendit”, a French Stalinist insult for a nationalist, anti-fascist party leader, whose party’s favorite slogan during the Second War was “To each his own Kraut”, but had not mentioned his Jewishness.
Thanks for your cooperation, Yves.
Interview conducted by Eric Krebbers
1. Born in 1935, Jacques Gaillot was the bishop of Evreux from 1982 to 1995 but lost his religious mandate at the end of a long process of political radicalization: he supported the Intifada and met Yasser Araft, supported gay marriage, the right of Catholic priests to marry, right to blasphemy (approving both the freedom of expression rights of Salman Rushdie and Martin Scorsese), right of illegal migrants to stay in France, etc (translator’s note).
2. A stand-up comedian and anti-Semitic politician (translator’s note).
3. “Souchiens” is a funny expression derived from “Français de souche”, “French-born”, an expression popularized by the Right and far Right, but it was interpreted with the same prononciation and a slightly different spelling (“sous-chiens”), as meaning “lower than dogs”, “sous” meaning “under” and chiens “dogs” in French, something which recalls the nazi Untermensch (translator’s note).
4. In France, there are several fascist movements calling themselves “identitaires”, starting with the”Bloc identitaire”. I decided to label the PIR and other multiculturalist and postmodern forces “Left identitarians”, both with a sarcastic and political intention. In the Anglosaxon academic world, so admired by the PIR and its postmodern friends,”identity politics” has a positive aura. If French leftwingers think the word “race” used by racists for two centuries is really an innocent, neutral, “sociological” concept, I see no reason not to use the word “identitarians” to label them so, as they claim to defend people’s “identities” (Yves’ note).
5. Cf. Y.C., “The Republic’s Natives (Les Indigènes de la République), the debate about French colonialism and its consequences”, 2008 (http://www.mondialisme.org/spip.php?article1170).
6. Ms. Houria Bouteldja, PIR’s spokesperson, is quite conscious of this fact: “You must not forget that we are still a small organization with very limited means” (http://www.contretemps.eu/interviews/%C2%AB-juste-retour-b%C3%A2ton-%C2%BB-entretien-houria-bouteldja-sadri-khiari). And in another interview: “At the same time, we must be honest: we have no significant social basis. (…) We did not penetrate the [popular] “districts” yet (…). But we certainly penetrated their inhabitants’ hearts and minds” (http://www.vacarme.org/article2738.html).
7. Cf. Loren Goldner’s article http://breaktheirhaughtypower.org/multi-culturalism-or-world-culture-on-a-left-wing-response-to-contemporary-social-breakdown/; and several articles published by De Fabel van de illegaal: Inge van de Velde “Feminism in the debate on multiculturalism”, 2001 (http://www.doorbraak.eu/gebladerte/30051v01.htm); Eric Krebbers, “Not coming to the rescue of multiculturalism”, 2004 (http://www.doorbraak.eu/gebladerte/30091v01.htm).
8. Cf. Janine Booth, “Is cultural difference an excuse for sexism ?” (http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2006/09/11/cultural-difference-excuse-sexism); Lawrence Jarach “Essentialism and the problem of identity politics” (http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/lawrence-jarach-essentialism-and-the-problem-of-identity-politics); and in French “Combattre l’influence néfaste des sous-produits politiques du postmodernisme, du postcolonialisme et des “études subalternes”” (How to fight the nefarious influence of postmodernism, postcolonialism and subaltern studies) in “Dix points de clivage et sources d’interrogation après les 7 exécutions djihadistes des 7, 8 et 9 janvier 2015” (10 points of clivage and interrogation after the 17 djihadist executions in Paris on 7, 8 and 9 January 2015), NPNF n° 48-49, mars 2015 (http://www.mondialisme.org/spip.php?article2246).
9. “L’Appel des Indigènes a deux ans”, L’Indigène de la République n° 4, p. 2, février 2007 [in the following notes, the PIR’s newspaper title will be abridged as L’IR].
10. Despite his numerous political flaws, Sadri Khiari demolishes well this scarecrow used by the Right and the Left: “When an Arab says “All whites are bastards”, we consider it as racism just as when a white man would say:” All Arabs are bastards”. This parallel connection shows how the hierarchy between whites and non-whites is hidden. Obviously, they are not at all equal because one enjoys the support of the political power of the state, when the other can only count on the strength of his/her small resistance and anger. This is why anti-white racism can’t exist and is a hollow concept. Some people try to popularize this notion because they precisely want to put on the same level those who today are victims of racism and those who derive a privilege from a racist society. They also seek to put the blame for the current situation in France on the shoulders of the Blacks, Arabs and Muslims who are resisting” (http://www.contretemps.eu/interviews/%C2%AB-juste-retour-b%C3%A2ton-%C2%BB-entretien-houria-bouteldja-sadri-khiari).
11. In this specific context, by “secular” I mean “anti-Muslim racist” and not “in favor of a radical separation between Churches and State”, which is the classical definition of secularism. For more details see “Revolutionaries, secularism and multiculturalism” (http://www.mondialisme.org/spip.php?article389).
12. Les filles voilées parlent, La Fabrique, 2008.
13. Chris Harman, “The Prophet and the Proletariat” (https://www.marxists.org/archive/harman/1994/xx/islam.htm).
14. Cf. Sacha Ismail, “What’s the MAB?” (http://www.workersliberty.org/node/3026), 2007; “The rise of political Islam” (http://archive.workersliberty.org/wlmags/wl102/political%20islam.htm).
15. “We don’t draw upon Marx, the Enlightenment or [French] Republic’s values. We want to develop a political thought from ourselves, rooted in the history of the immigration and anti-colonial struggles: not in the Left/Right cleavage history”. In”Revendiquer un monde décolonial”, Houria Bouteldja, Vacarme n° 71, avril 2015, (http://www.vacarme.org/article2738.html).
17. L’IR n° 3, janvier 2007, p. 9 et 10.
18. Cf. L’IR… One can contrast this idealistic and stupid “analysis” with what the League of Revolutionary Black Works declared in 1970: “What we reproach to whites it’s not their whiteness but the fact they don’t and think as proletarians”.
20. Over the years, the PIR has expanded the content of its pseudo concept of “natives”, because now it includes Roma (apart from Blacks, Arabs, Muslims and popular neighborhood residents), but still excludes Asian people as if racism didn’t affect them… A malicious mind may point out the PIR has just made an opportunist political turn and follows media priorities because it’s difficult to explain what French colonialism has to do with Roma…
(Vacarme n° 71, 26 avril 2015, (http://www.vacarme.org/article2738.html).
21. L’IR n° 10, novembre 2007, p. 6-7.
22. PIR militants often often refer to “disloyalty”, “traitors”, etc. For example, Fatiha Dahmani denounces the “betrayal of our cultural traditions and/or religion infantilised and criminalized by Western feminism in a tenacious neo-colonial context” (“Pourquoi je ne peux pas être féministe”, L’IR n° 5, March 2007, p. 6). This theme of “treason” can be found among:
– militant believers obsessed by “infidels”, “apostates”, “atheists”, “impious” and “godless” people, etc.
– clandestine liberation movements constantly trying to identify “traitors to the nation” and informers who cooperate with the colonial power (a way to discredit sincere political opponents who have an anticolonialist position but don’t agree with the nationalists’ line);
– nationalist or religious leaders who want to control their “communities” to better dominate and racketeer them;
– totalitarian parties and states.
The fact that the PIR and its allies propagate this kind of vocabulary inside anti-racist movements and struggles without any opposition is quite revealing about the present political regression.
23. Interview by OummaTV on the 4th November 2013, (http://oummatv.tv/200802/houria-bouteldja-ne-sommes-integrationnistes).
24. About the execution of Saddam Hussein, Zulficar dares to write: Saddam was certainly “a violent dictator who committed crimes against his people” but “they executed him to demoralize Sunni and Baathist resistances and deprive them of a possible leader” (L’IR n° 4, February 2007, p. 8). To object, for reasons of principle, to death penalty and/or to a sordid execution like Saddam’s or Kadhafi’s is a respectable attitude. But to believe, or suggest, that Saddam Hussein could have played any positive role in the fight against American imperialism is a despicable villainy. Labelling Saddam Hussein as a “violent dictator” is not only a ridiculous understatement, it also ignores the fact that Saddam is responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraki people: Southern Marshes chiites; Kurds against whom he used chemical weapons; soldiers he sent to death in his war against Iran, etc.
25. Thus L’IR no. 13, October 2008, reports of a “MIR meeting with Youssouf Moussa Comorian nationalist leader”. The title and content of this article clearly denounce French imperialism and celebrate Comorian nationalism…
26. These strange criteria can be applied to many dictators or bourgeois politicians, from Hitler to Berlusconi, from Peron to Victor Orban…
27. L’IR n° 11, 2008, p. 16.
29. L’IR n° 7, mai 2007, p. 4.
30. L’IR n° 4, février 2007, p. 8.
31. “Marronnage et Jihad. De la nécessité de soutenir nos luttes respectives”, L’IR n° 13, octobre 2008, p. 3.
34. There is no logical link between, on one side, the fact that fifteen suburbean youth tortured a Jewish employee, whom they kidnapped because they assumed the jewish community was very rich, and who died after two weeks of tortures, and, on the other side, the “international offensive led by Bush”. But this stupid reasoning provides a good example of how leftists deal with a problem when they are not able to find a proper answer to it.
35. The French Jewish Union for Peace (UJFP) belongs to these numerous identitarian Left organizations which have recently flourished. It claims to represent Jews who want peace in Palestine but in fact it includes many non-Jews, as stated in its statutes. It’s difficult to understand why this organization did not call itself “French Union for peace in Palestine” without refering to any religious, cultural, ethnic or national concept of Jewishness.
Maybe one can understand this strange choice if one reads what their friend, Houria Bouteldja, wrote about “the Jews”: “We have always been favourable to the fact that Jews identify themselves as Jews, even if we must recognize this is a regression. We came to such a tension between “races” that it has urgent for the Jews to reclaim their ethnic-religious identities associated with political identities which are radically anti-Zionist and anti-racist and to say: “No, Jews are not all Zionists”” (http://www.vacarme.org/article2738.html, Vacarme, no. 71, April 2015). Unwittingly, the PIR’s spokesperson underlines something which is essential: Left identity politics are a real regression consciously desired by their promoters. In addition, she shows that she knows absolutely nothing to the multiple definitions of Jewishness, outside the “ethno-religious” element. But that’s not surprising since she only values this element!
36. Cf. “Mohamed Merah, Houria Bouteldja et la compassion à deux vitesses” (http://www.mondialisme.org/spip.php?article1822).
37. Slogan quoted in L’IR n° 1, 2005.
38. L’IR n° 13, octobre 2008, p. 4.
40. Vacarme n° 71, avril 2015 (http://www.vacarme.org/article2738.html).
42. Richard H. Weisberg, Vichy Law and the Holocaust in France, New York University Press, 1996.
43. She even used and falsified a quotation from CLR James (actually of the American Workers Party he wrote): http://indigenes-republique.fr/dieudonne-through-the-prism-of-the-white-left-or-conceptualizing-a-domestic-internationalism/.
44. Luftmenschen’s article in English “About zionislamists invading France and other dangerous nonsense” (http://www.mondialisme.org/spip.php?article2187).
46. In 2012 she made a video to answer the CRIF “Le démon antisémite” (“The anti-Semitic devil”) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iKUlHMx2j0), in which she stated that (Algerian) Muslim frustations against Jews were linked to the Crémieux Bill which gave in 1870 the French nationality to Algerian-born Jews and not to Algerian-born Muslims.
47. It’s not clear how “Gypsies” or “Roma” can be considered as “post-colonial subjects” but Houria Bouteldja’s and Youcef Boussouma’s historical knowledge is very superficial…
48. Interviewed by the PIR (L’IR n° 10), Yitzhak Laor, author of The Myths of Liberal Zionism, Verso, 2009, declares: “what I call philoSemitism (…) is not linked to the propaganda waged by Israel or to the power of the Jews”. Laor ignores that these two themes are precisely at the center of the PIR propaganda, as evidenced again in July 2014 during the discussion between Youssef Boussoumah of the PIR and Sacha Reingewitz of the Union of Jewish Students of France. Boussoumah constantly accused Reingewitz of “spreading Israeli propaganda”, “defending the Israeli camp”, being the “representative of the Israeli governmen”, etc. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbMnmDbQjsw). In other words Boussoumah implied was an agent of the “Zionist” fifth column in France. The term “philo-Semitism” is commonly used by the French far Right for a century; it belongs to a long anti-Semitic tradition which the “Indigènes” can’t pretend to ignore by hiding behind the Israeli novelist and literary critic Yitzhak Laor, or behind the declarations of their buddies of the UJFP who play the role of a moral guarantee (see, for example, how Rudolf Bkouche evades the issue here: http://www.ujfp.org/spip.php?article4117).
51. 18 février 2014, (http://indigenes-republique.fr/soral-le-petit-soldat-de-l-empire/).
52. Cf. these 3 articles on the website of the PIR: http://indigenes-republique.fr/apres-stephane-hessel-leila-shahid-le-crif-a-t-il-encore-frappe/; http://indigenes-republique.fr/reponse-de-houria-bouteldja-au-crif/; http://indigenes-republique.fr/larriere-garde-repond-a-manuel-valls/. Far Right and far Left spend a lot of energy criticizing the role of the CRIF.
54. A “good” example of this ideology can be found in Norman Finkelstein appaling declaration: http://www.thejc.com/comment-and-debate/comment/131578/i-debated-norman-finkelstein-kings-college-it-was-dire-and-scary).
55. “La religion, une affaire privée”, L’IR n° 6, April 2007, p. 10.
56. This has perhaps not been always the PIR’s position since in an article entitled “HIV positive and native: a destructive cocktail” (L’IR n° 11, 2008, p. 8), Reda Sadki, even though he attributed the spread of AIDS only to addiction and needle sharing, he violently denounced “the homosexual movement’s most sectarian fringe”, and didn’t mention the existence of “native” homosexuals in working class neighborhoods, seemed at least sensitive to the difficulties faced by Maghrebine and African families affected by AIDS and presented it as for them a reason to participate to the Natives March that year.
58. Vacarme n° 71, avril 2015, (http://www.vacarme.org/article2738.html).
59. Cf. Critique internationale n° 46 (http://www.cairn.info/revue-critique-internationale-2010-1-page-5.htm).
60. L’IRn° 4, février 2007.
64. L’IR n° 8, «Vote de classe” ou «Vote de race” ?, p. 3.
65. “L’articulation des dominations: une nécessité incontournable pour l’analyse et pour l’action”, L’IR n° 8, p. 7.
66. One must be heavily influenced by racial prejudice (in the biological sense) to say that Barack Obama is not a real “Black” since his mother was white and his ancestors did not experience slavery. Yet this is what one of the members of the PIR writes…
67. In this, they share the same ethnic-corporatist logic as far Right Identitarians. They also denounce American imperialism, Hollywood and McDonalds. They denounce “Zionism” and Israel while raving about the military qualities of Hamas or Hezbollah. They admire Iranian mollahs, Bashar al-Assad and Saddam Hussein’s regimes as nations which resist to the “Empire”. They extol the virtues of country roots (which the anti-Semitic Maurras called “carnal homelands”) subject to an eternal, or at least a century-old, social and religious order (in this case a white European heritage predominantly Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant, depending on the country). Left Identitarians praise Islamic identity, Arabness, Africanness; far Right identitarians exalt Frenchness, Germanness, Britishness, Occidentality and Christianity. These approaches want to unite all social classes around the same goal, with the exception of some “traitors” (“bounties”, “oreos” and “Uncle Toms” for the far Left; those sold to the “Jews” or the “new global order” for the far Right) for the realization of their ethno-religious corporatist project.
68. “40 reasons why Tariq Ramadan is a reactionary bigot”, 2007 (http://www.mondialisme.org/spip.php?article487).
69. “Nous avons besoin d’un mouvement de combat”, L’IR, mars 2007, p. 7 et 8.
70. L’IR n° 13, p. 10.
71. “Christ noir versus Christ blanc”, L’IR.
72. Born in Syria in 1883, he participated to the revolt against the French mandate in Syria, and then against the British mandate in Palestine after 1921. A supporter of guerrillas and armed struggle, he died in 1935 fighting the British soldiers who were encircling him and a small group of supporters. He is an icon for the current Palestinian national movement, as evidenced by the existence of the al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas.
73. A reactionary organization representing in France Al Adl Wal Ihsane, an islamist organisation founded in 1973, quite powerful in Morocco and which killed two far Left militants. For more details one can read this article written by an NPA activist: onfusionnisme.info/2015/03/03/assez-de-participation-et-spiritualite-musulmanes-dans-nos-luttes/.
74. Press release of the 15th April 2015: http://indigenes-republique.fr/le-bureau-executif-du-mrap-denonce-le-pir-comme-antisemite-analyse-dune-strategie/.
75. Houria Bouteldja: “Du sacré des Damnés de la terre et de sa profanation” (http://oumma.com/219681/charlie-hebdo-sacre-damnes-deterre-de-profanation).
76. Interview for OummaTV, 4th November 2013. http://oummatv.tv/200802/houria-bouteldja-ne-sommes-integrationnistes.
78. Houria Bouteldja does not know the history of the Palestinian liberation movement because the PLFP was influent in the 1970s, not in 1990s!
79. Another gross factual mistake: the Fatah was strong and influent at the beginning and in the middle of 1990s, not at the beginning of the 21st century. The Oslo agreements were signed in 1993 and the Palestinian Authority in 1996.
80. Interview for OummaTV, 4th November 2013, op. cit.
81. Already in the first issue of L’IR, October 2006.
82. L’IR n° 6, April 2007, p. 2.
83. L’IR n° 9, October 2007.
87. The PIR criticizs the anti-racist Left and the illegal workers coordinations for having reached a kind of implicit non-aggression pact, leaving aside the issue of institutional racism and its embarrassing implications for the Left, and therefore reinforcing the good conscience and even the paternalism of the Left. On this specific point the PIR is quite right.
89. Vacarme: (http://www.vacarme.org/article2738.html).
91. Vacarme n° 71, avril 2015 (http://www.vacarme.org/article2738.html).
93. Cf. the two volumes of “Génération” by Hervé Hamon and Patrick Rotman, Seuil, 1987 ; and Les Juifs d’extrême gauche en mai of Yair Auron, Albin Michel, 1998.
94. Ben Cohen, Jewish Political Studies Review 16:3-4 (Fall 2004) (http://www.jcpa.org/phas/phas-cohen-f04.htm). The same information can be found in the classic article of Werner Cohn, published in 1991, “From Victim to Shylock and Oppressor: The New Image of the Jew in the Trotskyist Movement”(http://www.wernercohn.com/Trotsky.html#4) which presents many quotations from Trotskyist groups in England and in the States, after the Six-Day War.
95. This famous and infamous State leader of Parisian police ordered a murderous repression of the 17th October 1961 demonstration in Paris during which around 150 Algerians were directly killed by the cops or thrown in the Seine river when they drowned.