Rather the Gangster Than the Fascist?

Issue section: 

I agree with Chris Harman (June SR) on the danger of a re-emergence of popular front politics, but I do not agree that this meant abstaining in the second round of the French presidential election.

The LCR in France were right to call for a vote against Nazi Le Pen and therefore, unfortunately, for Tory Chirac during and only during the crucial two weeks of street demonstrations between the first and second rounds. Football fans understand two things that are relevant here. Firstly, if they are there in the stadium, and if they choose to support one side, they can have a small but real effect on the result.

Secondly, they understand that if someone draped in a flag of St George is yelling their head off for Korea against Italy, it does not mean that they have formed a popular front with Korea--it means they think it would be better for England if Italy took the plane home. The 'support' is strictly limited to 90 minutes. Clearly, anyone in the crowd who is not shouting is wasting an opportunity. Also, no fan would be very impressed with an argument that went, 'Korea are two-nil up, there's no need for you to support them.'

For those two weeks in France there was a real opportunity for the working class to emphatically reject any thought, however remote, that their rulers had of resorting to fascist rule.They took it. The question on the ballot paper was not, 'Do you think Chirac is an adequate bulwark against fascism?'. It was 'Who do you want to rule you for the next seven years?' and the choice was that thieving Tory who at least pretends to believe in parliamentary democracy or an out and out fascist. I know the answer to that one.

No one withdrew in favour of the right (and this is where the comparison with Hindenburg in 1933 breaks down). There were only two candidates left, only two teams in the match, and that was that.

I welcomed the 82 percent who voted against Le Pen. The young demonstrators with 'Better the swindler than the Nazi' stuck to their foreheads were right. The LCR, in supporting them had, in this case, a firm grasp of political reality.Those calling for an abstention (sensitively or insensitively) weren't at the match.

The two weeks are now over.It's rule by capital that is the problem--so long as it exists, there is the danger of it resorting to fascism.It's another match, but the fact that the Nazis were nowhere in the last one will help.

John Shemeld