In a fascinating essay about the role of the French Communist Party in stopping the riots of May 1968 (yes, I wrote “stopping”), Michell Abidor notes in passing that the party (PCF from now on) was very much against mass immigration for most of its history, correctly perceiving that big business was very much in favor because of concerns about rising worker wages — and lowered corporate magins:
Had the PCF not consistently defended French jobs and French industries, all the way back to the party’s historic leader of the early postwar period, Maurice Thorez? Later, in 1980, did the Communist mayor of Vitry-sur-Seine not bulldoze the homes of immigrants at Christmas time? And did the PCF’s general secretary Georges Marchais not campaign for the presidency in 1981 on the slogan “Stop immigration, official and illegal”? This was the same Georges Marchais who, on May 3, 1968, the very day the revolt began, appealed to working-class xenophobia by dismissing Daniel Cohn-Bendit in the pages of L’Humanité as a “German anarchist.”
For those intrigued about that now-entirely-forgotten Communist mayor who bulldozed immigrant homes, here’s a contemporary video report about the event (en Français).
You see, I’m writing in 2020, and the commentariat is all up in arms about the working class deserting leftist parties across Western nations, as supposedly progressive movements turn into lobbying groups for sexual and religious minorities, and Big Capital. The December 2019 election in the U.K. was a case in point, with the Conservatives grabbing an equal share of the British lower-class vote for the first time in any election ever.
Surprise? Not really.
A British oddity, you say? This below is for the U.S.:
The underlying reasons for this are rarely, if ever, mentioned, and they have a lot to do with the evolution of the PCF and other progressive forces.
Vitry-sur-Seine, a mere ten kilometers south of central Paris, is a municipality with 93,000 people as of the latest census. It’s not pretty: I was over there in 2000, and it reminded me a lot of the rough-and-tumble Villaverde district west of where I grew up in Madrid, where the locals were reputed to be avid sneaker thieves.
A lot of things have changed since 1980 in French politics. One of the most remarkable is the conversion of the PCF, once a working-class redoubt, into the local version of globalist, pro-open borders, decidedly non-Marxist Islamophile parties beloved by mass media and corporate benefactors the world over. Whenever you come across a piece of news such as this about a long-time helper of illegal immigrants who was murdered by one, you know the dude (or, very often, lady) is a Leftist through and through.
One would think this is the kiss of death for a party in a town crammed full of housing projects where nobody ever goes on shopping holidays, right? I mean, France is the country where the nationalist FN has been rising for decades. This is Abidor, again:
Once it lost the PCF as the mediating force to represent its grievances, the French working class fulfilled Herbert Marcuse’s 1972 warning that “The immediate expression of the opinion and will of the workers, farmers, neighbors—in brief, the people—is not, per se, progressive and a force of social change: it may be the opposite.” The PCF understood this latent conservatism in the working class of 1968. Not so the New Left student movement. In the end, it had only ouvriérisme sans ouvriers.
Abidor is definitely onto something, but the full story is more complex. France’s 1999 census found that about 30% of Vitry-sur-Seine residents were born outside of France (this is not counting, of course, descendents of immigrants from the 1960s and 1970s whose houses were bulldozed by the Communist mayor) and the number probably is now closer to 40%. Unemployment is around 25%, over twice the French average. There are several mosques.
Vitry-sur-Seine is locally famous as the picturesque place where Muslim teenager Sohane Benziane was burned alive in 2002 by her jealous Muslim boyfriend, an act that led to the creation of the international feminist movement “Ni putes ni soumises.” Not many old-stock French, of the kind who voted PCF in 1970, are left in Vitry-sur-Seine.
It’s a new world. So, here’s the list of all the mayors in Vitry-sur-Seine since Liberation from Nazi rule:
The PCF has found a way to stay in power, that’s it. It only had to betray Marxism, but that’s no big sacrifice, right? Old Commies complain, but they will be dead soon, and then it will be clear to all that Communist Parties were only founded to guarantee a steady supply of cheap butlers and gardeners for the upper classes in the first place, agree?