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CONFRONTATION POLITICS IN FRANCE

Nick Griffin looks at riots with a difference

THE WAVE of massive street demonstrations and riots by small-businessmen and students that shook France at the start of the summer provided a number of lessons for Nationalists all over the world.

Such disturbances have for so long involved only Marxian socialists and Immigrants that most Nationalist groups have given up even thinking about the possibility of involving themselves in popular issues which bring them into contact with mass discontent. Recent events in France have shown that this need not always be the case.

'The underlying cause of the unrest was the decision by the 'socialist' French government, under pressure from the International Banks, to replace its half-hearted socialist measures with an austerity programme. Massive government cuts hit small firms, civil servants and the middle-class in general. Rising unemployment caused discontent in working class areas.

The first major opposition was a march by shopkeepers, particularly travel agents and others connected with tourism, who were threatened by a new law making it illegal to take more than 2,000 francs (£160) each year on holidays abroad. The march began peacefully, but tension was such that a handful of determined Nationalists were able to lead a confrontation with the aggressive police which spread to the rest of the crowd and later to similar demonstrations.

Further severe disturbances occurred as the French police reacted with their customary brutality to marches and strikes by medical and law students protesting at proposed drastic changes to their courses.

Within six weeks, a huge popular movement had been created. Barricades and riots became an everyday sight in Paris and other major cities. Comparisons were made with the Left revolt of 1968. Thousands of previously non-political students and small businessmen have gained a clear insight into the State's use of force to crush dissent, and have come into contact with Nationalist ideas and activists.

ORGANISED HARDCORE

The agitation which fanned the embers of grievance was not the work of isolated hot-heads. It involved an organised hardcore of militants from the patriotic Parti des Forces Nouvelles (Party of the New Forces) and its student wing, the Group Union et Defence.

The P.F.N, suffered a major split after the last General Election in France, when its already small share of the vote fell to about 0.5%. Many older members dropped out and its leaders joined forces with the respectable conservative party of Gisgard d'Estaing, proclaiming the P.F.N, dissolved. Fortunately, the younger and more radical members of the Party were made of sterner stuff. They refused to be disbanded and so were left in complete control of a smaller, but more united, organisation.

At the same time, the idea was growing in French Nationalist circles that it was time to create set-piece clashes with the authorities “in order to shift political activity from sterile and materialistic discussions about wage increases to open confrontation”. It was felt that this would lead to dramatic increase in political awareness ― and hence recruitment.

When the non-aligned, basically “rightist”, mass demonstrations began, the P.F.N, was therefore quick to get involved. The student members of G.U.D. were particularly successful. At first joining Student Union marches, they built up enough support to be able to call their own, which quickly attracted some 3,000 people.

“Frogs leg it from Establishment toadies”

The Marxists, meanwhile, were frantic at their inability to get involved in the wave of strikes and protests. They therefore joined forces with the Establishment and Leftist government in trying to stop them.

In what the P.F.N, condemned as “pure counter-revolutionary terrorism”, the Reds planted 8 lbs. of plastic explosive in the P.F.N./G.U.D. headquarters. The circumstances make it clear that the police helped them. Three floors were demolished, destroying offices, printing presses and files.

SEMINARS AND CAMPS

With the rioting now dying down, the P.F.N, have turned their attention to running educational seminars and camps for the many new members that this "pre-revolutionary phase" has brought into their ranks. Once they are assimilated, it is felt, it will be time to go on the offensive again.

We do not know enough about the members or ideology of the P.F.N, to comment on its value as an organisation, but its tactics are certainly interesting and hold a number of lessons for us in Britain:

  1. Although reactionary "Nationalist" leaders decry the very idea of involvement in broad mass movements, it is clear that radical Nationalist organisations can help in, and benefit from, the development of popular campaigns when the external conditions are suitable.

Threatened by such events, the Establishment will quietly encourage Marxist terror groups in their attacks on us. It is the Reds who are now "the boot boys of Capitalism". Quite elementary security precautions can make things difficult for them and must be taken at all times.

In spite of such opposition, it is possible for Nationalists to make a big impact in a modern Western state. But they must be organised to take advantage of situations as they arise. The most important factors here are the ability to distribute large amount of propaganda material at short notice, and the sense to avoid fanaticism and keep in touch with the feelings of ordi­nary people.

For all that, the idea that street demonstrations, however large, can be turned into full-scale revolutions is unrealistic. The real significance of such relatively short-lived mass movements is that while they themselves fade away, they give political education to all the participants and provide new recruits to the hardcore elite of dedicated activists who form the backbone of any worthwhile organisation.

A Nationalist organisation that understands this can set itself realistic, limited targets for agitation and recruitment. Such achievable aims, when reached, bring far greater benefits than pie-in-the-sky ideas that come to nothing.

The long march to victory will consist of a number of individual steps!