The Haute-Garonne (1) federation of the French Young Communists (MJCF - the youth section of the French Communist Party - PCF) elected an entirely new leadership at the end of November. At its federal congress in Toulouse, an overwhelming majority of delegates elected supporters of the Marxist journal La Riposte to lead the federation.
This event marks the end of a difficult period for the federation. For the last few years, the efforts of local Young Communist militants to build a robust organisation had been continually sabotaged by the underhand and anti-democratic methods of the former leadership. In a declaration signed by several comrades (2) the need to put the local organisation back on a healthier footing was put in the following terms:
"There is nothing wrong or contradictory in the fact that the MJCF should contain members of various political persuasions. The political ideas defended by the signatories of this text are the same as the ones put forward by the journal La Riposte. Not all Young Communists have the same ideas. However, in a democratic organisation, everything should be done to overcome differences of opinion via fraternal and democratic debate. It is not possible to resolve differences by organisational manoeuvring, which only results in tarnishing the image of the organisation amongst the youth and discouraging them from getting involved in politics.
All Young Communists, whatever their opinion of the best way to fight capitalism, should participate fully and democratically in all aspects of the MJCF's internal life and have a genuine influence over its political direction. Each Young Communist, without exception, should have the possibility of expressing his or her opinions and the opportunity to convince other comrades via free and open discussion.
The behaviour of the former federal secretary, who strived to discredit all those Young Communists who did not agree with him or who criticised his arbitrary methods, was totally unacceptable. The MJCF does not "belong" to anyone or any group of individuals. Neither should it serve as a stepping-stone for comrades to obtain paid positions within the PCF (French Communists Party) or elsewhere. The MJCF is an organisational tool that belongs collectively to all Young Communists to be used in the fight against capitalism. Methods such as the attempt to cancel collective decisions via personal "vetoes", the refusal to recognise the existence of local branches, the arbitrary and anti-democratic appointment of delegates to the Assemblée nationale des animateurs (ANA), the denial of membership cards to comrades considered "undesirable" and all such other manoeuvres of this type should never exist within the MJCF."
The defeat of the former leadership was due to the increasing frustration with these underhand methods felt by the young comrades of the local federation. Only twelve months ago, the delegates elected to the ANA national meeting by the Young Communists of Toulouse were all turned away at the entrance of the debating hall by the MJCF's national full-timers, in connivance with the former federal leadership of the Haute-Garonne, with the reason that they did not "follow the line of the national leadership". Furthermore, the Toulouse branch apparently "did not exist". The now former federal secretary, David Fourcade, was a typical - but unfortunately not unique - representative of these "little chiefs" of the MJCF who do not see the organisation as a campaigning and militant structure open to all young people wanting to fight against capitalism, but rather a simple stepping-stone to paid positions and other benefits of this nature with the Communist party structure. Although he did absolutely nothing to build the local organisation, he consistently refused to recognise the existence of local branches and in fact never bothered to attend even when these branches met. Not once did the former leaders of the federation try to reply to the political ideas expressed by the comrades close to La Riposte, mainly because they completely lacked confidence in their own ideas - a haphazard mix of vaguely reformist and "alternative" notions. They thought they could eliminate the Marxists of the MJCF via manoeuvrings and intimidation. Clearly this strategy did not work at all!
The "work" of this team was permeated with a completely irresponsible and careless attitude. For example, delegates to the recent federal congress learned that for years and years no basic accounting had taken place of inflows and outflows of money. No invoices or receipts had been kept. On this level, as well as many others, the new leadership of MJCF-UEC(3) of the Haute-Garonne federation is committed to radically changing methods in line with the requirements outlined in the above-mentioned declaration, namely:
1. To welcome warmly and fraternally all new members to the MJCF, independently of how they view the fight against capitalism. Each Young Communist will have the democratic right to freely defend his or her point of view within the organisation, in an oral or written form.
2. Each new member will receive an MJCF membership card when he or she pays his or her first membership fees. Each Young Communist will never have his or her membership of the MJCF called into question (unless, of course, there is proof of behaviour completely incompatible with our values such as racism, physical violence etc.).
3. Existing local branches will be fully recognised within the structure of the MJCF. Whenever there is a sufficient number of Young Communists ready to create a branch in a town, village, school etc, they will obtain the help and support of the federal leadership.
4. Delegations to the ANA national meeting, and other representative bodies, will be systematically selected by a membership vote. Likewise participants in so-called "solidarity" trips abroad (e.g. to Cuba etc) will be selected via a democratic vote involving all Young Communists in the local federation, who will also decide whether the proposed trip has genuine political value. It is not the MJCF's role to provide free holidays to its membership.
5. There will be regular financial reporting for the MJCF Haute-Garonne. The accounts of the organisation will be approved by federal congress and will be open for consultation at any moment whenever members of the MJCF request.
6. Meetings of all Young Communists of the local federation will be organised regularly in order to debate and decide, via democratic votes, the orientation and the political demands of the local federation. Decisions will be sent to national bodies and to the other federations of the MJCF for information purposes.
At the federal congress, resolutions relating to the revolutionary movements in Venezuela and Mexico were passed. We hope that comrades will soon publish a report of the main decisions and votes of the congress. We hope that they will also report back on the decisions and actions taken over the next few years. The outstanding victory of the Marxists, supported by 65-70% of congress delegates, means that the Young Communists of the Haute-Garonne federation can now focus on their main task, namely the building of a powerful and democratic youth organisation with firm roots in the schools, universities and housing estates.
For La Riposte, the fact that the congress voted to put the federal leadership in the hands of Communists who openly identify with its ideas can only serve to bolster its political standing with the most militant and revolutionary elements of the MJCF and UEC. The outcome of the Haute-Garonne congress marks an important step in the life of the organisation at the national level. For the last few years, the programme and the texts defended by the MJCF national leadership have been gradually emptied of their Communist and revolutionary significance to be replaced by a reformist programme pandering to "youth culture". Several national leaders are currently making every effort to eliminate all references to Marxism - even to the class struggle - in the official documents of the organisation. The Haute-Garonne congress is the sign of a reverse in this trend. It is a victory that will be followed by others. Marxism is back!
December , 2006
(1) The Haute-Garonne is a region in southern France containing the large city of Toulouse, which is the main site of the Airbus plane manufacturer
(2) Hubert Prévaud, Christophe Cambefort, Naiké Caldéra, Nafis Ghazouane, Boris Campos, Lidia Campos, Pablo Dardel, Salama Mondiner, Rémi Lapeyre.
(3) The UEC (Union des Etudiants Communistes) is the sister organisation of the MJCF which organises students in universities and high education colleges.