Saturday 7 February 2009

The 'anti' party

Across the Channel there's a lot of excitement about a new far let party, led by photogenic postman Olivier Besancenot. Formed out of the ashes of the Revolutionary Communist League, the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) has attracted support from young anti-globalisation protestors as well as some older communists.

By constructing its identity around a rejection of capitalism, but explicitly not adopting a communist programme, the new party has made clear what it is against but is rather more vague about what it's for. I suppose we should be grateful that the French far left is no longer advocating Stalinist democratic centralism. But reading about the NPA reminded me of all those interviews in the NME during the punk era, when bands defined themselves by listing what they hated (disco, heavy metal, western civilisation...).

In other words, like the anti-globalisation movement itself, the New Anticapitalist Party sounds a tiny bit adolescent. If you're going to offer yourself as an alternative government (not that there's much chance of the NPA coming to power any time soon), you need to let people know what you'd put in place of all those nasty things that you're 'anti'. Juvenile oppositionism has long been the bane of left politics: it doesn't sound like Besancenot's new party has broken free of it. 

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