France

Dressing for the revolution

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From the gilets jaunes to the sans-culottes, clothing might not be the central question when considering radical movements, but there is more to it than you might expect, writes Rena Niamh Smith.

When I titled a recent talk on the politics of fashion “What will you Wear to the Revolution?”, some queried if a consideration of what we wear may be beneath the serious politics of the Marxist tradition.

Yet if the revolution were to happen tomorrow, we know exactly what we would wear. The once anonymous hi-vis vest has proved such an electrifying feature of the French anti-establishment protests, that their sale was banned in Egypt, site of serious revolution in recent memory.

Yellow vest spirit takes over France

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The Gilets Jaunes protests in France have come from a spontaneous, grassroots movement expressing people’s frustration at low living standards, threats to pensions and tax cuts for the rich, as well as the trigger point of increased fuel tax charges.

The latter was effectively a wage cut for everyone needing to use private transport in work or to get to work. Protesters put on the yellow jackets that all motorists must keep in their cars.

Interview: Hilary Mantel

Archive article

Hilary Mantel’s new novel is set at the time of the great French Revolution which began with the storming of the Bastille prison on 14 July 1789. The novel centres on three of the revolution’s leading figures. She talked to Paul McGarr and John Rees about why she wrote the book and the revolution’s relevance today.

You’ve said that when you started thinking about the book 18 years ago you felt you couldn’t understand anything about society unless you understood revolutions. What gave you that feeling?

In my mid-teens I developed an obsessional interest in revolutions. I thought of this as a political stance, although when I look back on it now I realise that the idea of “the world turned upside down” was attractive to me because I was miserable and I wanted the world to be different and I wanted to be in charge of myself.

Le Pen down but not out

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The French presidential run-off last month saw fascist Marine Le Pen roundly defeated, but the 10.6 million votes she won, plus the high level of spoiled ballots and abstention, suggest that the winning candidate, neoliberal Emmanuel Macron, is not a solution, writes Sheila McGregor.

There was great relief at the outcome of the French presidential run-off. For the second time in 15 years the election of a fascist president had been blocked. The main traditional parties, the Republicans and the Socialist Party, might have been excluded from the second round of voting, but as far as Europe’s rulers were concerned the election of Emmanuel Macron, a pro-EU economic and social liberal, by 66 percent to Marine Le Pen’s 34 percent had broken the rise of the “populist right”.

Islamophobia and the left in France

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I would like to thank John Mullen for reading my article “Rage against police racism rocks France” (March SR) and for taking the time to respond to it.

John is absolutely correct to point out that the question of Islamophobia is far from solved when it comes to the radical left in France; however, he is underestimating the substantial improvements that have been secured in recent years.

How did France get here?

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Graffiti on Le Pen poster in the French elections

The second round of the French presidential election will see a fascist run off against a neoliberal centrist. Jad Bouharoun gives context to this bleak battle.

Neoliberal investment banker Emmanuel Macron will face off against fascist Front National’s (FN) Marine Le Pen in the second round of the French presidential election on 7 May. Radical veteran Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s insurgent left campaign attracted a huge audience and a significant share of the vote, but this didn’t prove enough to secure him a place in the second round.

French fascist danger

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The first round of the French presidential election takes place on Sunday 23 April. The latest polls put fascist Marine Le Pen of the Front National level with neoliberal centre candidate Emmanuel Macron, both on 26 percent. In third place is disgraced conservative Francois Fillon, who is under fire for corrupt practices. The left is last, with mainstream Parti Socialiste candidate Benoit Hamon struggling to stay ahead of far-left candidate Jean Luc Melenchon, both on 12 percent.

The Disappearance of Émile Zola

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On Monday 18 July 1898 the French novelist Emile Zola was sentenced to a year in prison and a 3,000 franc fine. His crime was to have written an open letter to the French president entitled “J’accuse” (I accuse).

In it Zola accused military officials, including the minister of war, of falsely convicting Major Alfred Dreyfus (a Jewish officer) of passing military secrets to Germany. Fully aware that he risked prosecution for libel by denouncing the army and government’s handling of the Dreyfus affair, Zola boldly stated:

Rage against police racism rocks France

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The racist assault of a young man by Paris police has provoked angry protests. Jad Bouharoun looks at the prospects for a nationwide anti-racist movement.

The assault and rape by the police of Théo L, a young black man from the Paris suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois, has sparked angry demonstrations throughout the country. They come in the wake of a sustained grassroots movement demanding justice for Adama Traore, another black youth killed in police custody in the Paris suburb of Beaumont-sur-Oise in July 2016.

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