Trade union red-faced as official joins National Front

France’s largest trade union, the CGT, is threatening to close a local branch whose secretary is to represent the far-right Front National (FN) in upcoming elections. The man at the centre of the row, Fabien Engelmann, on Tuesday declared that dozens of CGT members would “come out” as FN members in the near future.

Engelmann declared that he was standing for the FN in next month’s cantonal elections in an interview published by Riposte Laïque, the group which last year tried to organise a wine and sausage street party in a largely Muslim Paris neighbourhood.

After asking Engelmann to resign, the union told its 25-strong branch of council workers in the western Moselle region that he could not be both a union official and a candidate for the FN. But the majority of members said they stood by their secretary, leading to the threat to suspend the branch.

In an interview with a right-wing newsletter on Tuesday, Engelmann hit back, saying he is a “free spirit” and declaring, “In one, maybe two weeks dozens of CGT members will come out” as FN members.

The controversial candidate has a chequered political history – he has previously been a member of two Trotskyist groups, Lutte Ouvrière and the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (NPA).

He says he resigned from the NPA because one of its candidates in last year’s regional elections wore Islamic head cover and joined the far-right party because he finds that new leader Marine Le Pen is the “only one defending secularism” in France today.

The CGT’s constitution bans racist and xenophobic statements. Officials argue that rules out support for Le Pen, who has recently launched a number of much-publicised attacks on Islam.

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4 replies »

  1. Yes, for better or worse, there will be a lot more splits of this kind in the future. One of the most contentious intellectual arguments on the Left right now pits the proponents of radical multiculturalism against the hard-line devotees of liberal universalism. The former tends to be influenced by radical postmodernism and its implicit moral and cultural relativism. This combined with the influences of ideologies emphasizing collective and historical guilt says: “Who are we to tell these other cultures what to do? Who are we to judge when Islamists want to stone adulterers to death?”

    The other side will say things like “democracy and human rights are universal” therefore reactionary social practices need to be condemned anywhere and everywhere. The problem is that this side also equates cultural differentiation to be a form of racism if the cultures to be criticized are non-European, so it makes for an interesting dilemma.

    The ironic thing is that it is the multicultural relativists who are the closest to the New Right in their wider philosophical presumptions, but a skeptical view of things like Islamic immigration would be more justifiable from the perspective of liberal humanism. It’s interesting that Alain De Benoist, the intellectual godfather of the New Right, has in recent years moved towards a communitarian approach to immigration that rejects efforts at compulsory assimilation (like the French ban on headscarves in schools and things like that). His argument is if there must be immigration, better that immigrants retain their indigenous culture rather than assimilate in the value system of McWorld. Also, he probably believes that assimilation will lead to an even greater dissolution of the host cultures. I’ve had American nationalists make the same argument to me as well, saying they prefer for instance than Hispanic immigrants don’t learn English, so that conventional American English can be preserved.

    At the same time, much of the opposition to immigration in Europe or support for compulsory assimilation has come from forces that would have been considered leftist until very recently. In Holland, for instance, Pim Fortuyn was a leading critic of immigration who was also a gay Marxist pederast who bragged on television about his sexual relations with teenaged Moroccan boys. Ayaan Hirsi Ali was a Somalian immigrant who opposed unrestricted Arab immigration on the grounds they would bring backwards Islamic culture with them. Geert Wilders is part Indonesian and is a philo-Semitic supporter of Israel. The English Defense League is a social leftist organization (they have divisions for LGBT, Sikhs, Asians, etc.) who opposed Islamic immigration on secularist and liberal grounds and hold to neocon-like views on the terror war and “clash of civilizations.”

    Now we have French Trotskyites joining the Frente Nacional to defend secularism. The immigration issue is the biggest thing driving these kinds of re-aligments, but I think we’ll see the same thing happen more and more around other issues in the future.

  2. The English Defense League is a social leftist organization (they have divisions for LGBT, Sikhs, Asians, etc.) who opposed Islamic immigration on secularist and liberal grounds and hold to neocon-like views on the terror war and “clash of civilizations.”

    I don’t really think the EDL can be pinned down philosophically:

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