Compiled by Dan Canuckistan
ON THE MIGRATION FROM FAR LEFT TO RIGHT:
The switch from the extreme left wing to the right wing is not rare in history: it seems to make people’s characters sharper, more incisive. It is the switch from idea to pragma, from opinion to facts. It is repeated in both universal and personal history and must reach deep into the material dimension.
–Ernst Junger, ALADDIN’S PROBLEM, pg. 87-88
ON FRENCH REDS AND ANTI-IMMIGRATION:
While the National Front has been the principal beneficiary of the political debate on immigration, it was not actually Le Pen’s party that first brought the issue on to the political agenda. It was in fact the Communists, who at the start of the 1980s, launched a campaign against what they saw as the over-concentration of immigrants in Communist-run municipalities, especially in
the Paris region.
On Christmas Eve 1980, a group of PCF sympathisers, led by the Communist Mayor of Vitry, used a bulldozer to destroy the power supplies and staircases of a hostel used by immigrant workers. This local action was subsequently backed by the Party’s national leadership. The PCF General Secretary, Georges Marchais,
sent an open letter to the Rector of the Paris Mosque justifying the Mayor’s actions. Marchais noted that he approved of the Mayor’s ‘refusal to allow the already high number of immigrant workers in his commune to increase’. The General Secretary insisted that the Communists were no racists, but that immigration was one of the evils created by capitalism. And in an argument which received a clear echo in later National Front propaganda, he claimed that the current immigration policy was ‘as much against the interests of the immigrant workers and of most of their home countries as against the interests of French workers and of France’.
Marchais insisted that there were simply too many immigrants in Communist-run areas, the threshold of toleration had been passed, and that the pressure on social resources was unbearable. ‘When the concentration [of immigrants] becomes very great’, he argued,
‘The housing crisis gets worse; council housing is cruelly deficient and numerous French families cannot have access to it. The costs of the social services necessary for immigrant families plunged into misery, becomes impossible for the budgets of communes peopled by workers to bear. Schooling is not able to support the situation and school backwardness increases amongst children, as much immigrant as French. The health expenses [also] increase.’
Marchais called for an equitable distribution of immigrants between different areas, and for a halt to all further immigration, both legal and clandestine. The Communists’ enthusiasm for direct action against immigrants was again in evidence a few weeks later, when the Communist Mayor of Montigny-les-Cormeilles helped to organise a demonstration outside the home of an immigrant family accused of drug-dealing.
The Communist Party’s emphasis upon the link between immigration and urban deprivation is of central importance. As one American expert has noted, ‘the political issues of immigration were nurtured and defined in an urban context, particularly in cities governed by the Left’. Marchais’ comments reflected
longstanding Communist concerns dating back to the late 1960s. In 1969 the Communist Mayors of the Paris region had protested against what they saw as the inequitable distribution of immigrant workers. During the 1970s such concerns manifested themselves in practical terms: in many towns and cities non-European
immigrants were excluded from new municipal housing projects on the basis of the need to maintain immigration below a putative ‘threshold of tolerance’. In truth, the Communist Party’s attitude was not so very different from that of the other parties, though its position is important because so many immigrants were
concentrated in Communist-run towns. (By 1977, immigrants made up more than 10 per cent of the population in 55 per cent of Communist-run towns of over 30 000 inhabitants.)
–Jonathan Marcus, THE NATIONAL FRONT AND FRENCH POLITICS, pg. 77-78
However, if Le Pen was condemned for fostering racism and division, then local Communist officials periodically expressed the sort of anti-immigrant attitudes that had helped to establish the issue on the agenda at the beginning of the 1980s. This was especially the case during the ‘Headscarves Affair’ when the
Communist Party’s official position was to criticise strongly what it saw as Education Secretary Lionel Jospin’s hesitation in defending the principle of the separation of religion from State education. Some Mayors in the Paris region expressed their unease over immigration in forthright terms. The views of Andre Deschamps, the Mayor of Clichy-sous-Bois, were typical of this undercurrent. He said that integration was not about the veil and other forms of traditional dress: ‘when all these Arabs, Blacks and Asiatics are in suits or jeans. That is the way I would like to see them in the streets.’
Some two years later the Party published a document entitled ‘Immigration: The View of the Communists’ which was strongly criticised by those, like Anicet Le Pors, on its reformist wing. The document, while denouncing xenophobia and the poison of racism, stressed that immigration was a real problem and that there
were clear abuses in the application of the rules governing family unification, which should be tightened up. Where there are drugs, violence and delinquency, it asked, ‘should one close one’s eyes when immigrants are involved, so as not to be considered a racist?’ The PCF’s answer was ‘absolutely not’. Le Pors believed that this text contained elements which might provoke hostility to
immigrants and should be withdrawn. As a bizarre footnote to the Communist Party’s ambiguities, it was revealed in July 1993 that some PCF activists had even been flirting with ideologues of la nouvelle droite, like Alain de Benoist. Furthermore, a fringe journal, I’Idiot international, which for a time received
the Communist Party’s financial backing, became a focus for the interchange of ideas between certain Communist activists and the Far Right. Admittedly such connections were a marginal phenomenon, but they were, nonetheless, deeply embarrassing for the PCF leadership, who belatedly threatened to expel anyone who had had dealings with the extreme Right.
–Jonathan Marcus, THE NATIONAL FRONT AND FRENCH POLITICS, pg. 151
ON THE POWER OF TRADITIONAL CULTURE:
My father was by no means convinced the values of New York trumped those of Cairo. He couldn’t see abandoning a culture he loved and trusted in favor of one he barely knew, and which he instinctively disliked. He preferred being an old Egyptian to a new American. He had, in short, no desire whatsoever to assimilate.
–Lucette Lagnado, THE MAN IN THE WHITE SHARKSKIN SUIT: A Jewish Family’s Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World, pg. 207
ON ‘RACISM’ IN AMERICAN TRADE UNIONISM:
Racial bigotry is practiced by such a large number of unions that it would be difficult to say that they are more emancipated from prejudice than the general population. In the 1943 American Federation of Labor Convention A. Phillip Randolph, the prominent Negro labor leader, charged that the International
Association of Machinists, affiliated with the American Federation of Labor, actually excluded Negroes by provision in its ritual. He went on to list other unions which bar Negroes in their constitutions:
American Federation of Labor affiliates—Airline Pilots Association; Commercial Telegraphers Union; National Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots; Order of Railroad Telegraphers; Railway Mail Association; Switchmen’s Union of North
America; American Wire Weavers’ Protective Association.
Unaffiliated organizations—Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers; Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen; Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen; Railroad Yardmasters of America; Railroad Yardmasters of North America; Order of Railway Conductors; American Train Dispatchers’ Association.
There are unions that have no formal constitutional or ritual restrictions against Negroes, but nevertheless bar them by tacit consent.
Then there have been those unions that openly practice segregation, admitting Negroes only to special auxiliary memberships […]
When the Fair Employment Practices Committee investigated discrimination against the Negroes in the Pacific Coast industries during World War II, big business pointed the finger of responsibility at organized labor. The companies emphasized that provisions of a master agreement between the union and
themselves provided a union closed shop and that the latter was wholly responsible for the failure to hire qualified Negro workers. It was pointed out that a number of skilled Negro workers were unable to work in the shipyard because their personal pride and dignity would not permit the acceptance of serf status in the Boilermakers Union auxiliary.
There are many other common varieties of racial discrimination in the organized labor unions. Only a decision of the United States Supreme Court prevented the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen from closing all employment opportunities to Negro workers except in jobs of the most menial type in the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company. Under the Railroad Labor Act this particular railroad union had been granted the power of exclusive bargaining representation. Since Negro workers were barred from union membership and since
union membership was required for the job, it meant that Negroes were not only ineligible for those jobs but even that Negroes working at common labor were denied any representation in collective bargaining.
It became an annual tradition of the American Federation of Labor conventions for A. Phillip Randolph to denounce the un-American, fascistic racial discrimination practiced in so many American Federation of Labor unions. Its main effect was to cause a general exodus of labor leaders from the convention hall, whence they streamed into adjacent pubs to drink whisky and curse until
they got the word that “the Nigger has finished shooting off his mouth and it’s okay to come back again.”[…]
William Green, in his capacity as president of the American Federation of Labor, reflected the contradictions underlying the noble public position of racial equality so frequently espoused by organized labor. Green began an article written for The Negro Digest with, “No philosophy which proclaims the supremacy
of any race, color or nationality can square with American principles of freedom and democracy.” But in writing these noble sentiments he completely forgot the time some months before when he emerged from an American Federation of Labor
executive board meeting in Chicago to be questioned by the press about the policy or the A.F.L. on the Oriental Exclusion Act. […] Green publicly stated that the American Federation of Labor still supported the Oriental Exclusion Act, and then pontificated, “After all, once a Chinaman always a Chinaman.”
Gunnar Myrdal, whose An American Dilemma is a classic study of the Negro in America, summarizes the role of race relations within the American organized labor movements as follows:
“The fact that the American Federation of Labor as such is officially against racial discrimination does not mean much. The Federation has never done anything to check racial discrimination exercised by its member organizations[…]
It is true that both the A.F. of L. and C.I.O. are, in principle, committed to nondiscrimination. So is the whole American nation. Actually the record has been worse on the union front than in many other fields of American culture.”
–Saul D. Alinsky, REVEILLE FOR RADICALS, pg. 29-33