IPuge 4--Tuesdgy, October 24, 1978-The Michigan Daily
Eurocommunism on trial in France
By David Osborne
1 lis(r'° Note: Since Jimmy Carter's
electuon ; Ithe presidency, the rising
I . 1?jllwli c
>/ l tan
Euro u m'HJ d \is inovement has been one of
tIe adminis 'retion 's biggest worries. Here,
Paelic Xe w Service Contributing Editor
IDarid ()siw ln '>ie reports from Paris that
Ie / e to ihe death or tinumph of the
cntii Er'o r'iinunist movement may lie
with snwer 'tru ,/es , within the French
Comn ,nnist' Pert r, the only large Western
IEur)ean >>/Nrt V that still holds its
mlei x to t'he So vie iUnion.
F i Ti i F kIRT time in its brief history,
Euo:mn mnism is on public trial.
With the ys S + France glued to the drama,,
the 'rf'ncl t>oni:iiiudnist Party is locked in a
hitter si ite I hat will determine the life or
death of roc'mniunism in Frapee.
Led iy % party ' intellectuals, the largely
iungP menbership is fighting tooth and nail to
drag its 01d 1ie leadership toward the final
transtormat in from Western Europe's most
Stalinist pat to an open, flexible and
den~Mlirat .ioninimunist model.
f'igg rid by the party's disasterous war
with the Soia ist s, which cost the left alliance
its expevt ed xist mrvin the March elections, the
ba~tte has' been widely heralded as the greatest
crisis i] pa it y hI istory.
members beleve that with a strong Communist.
Party, France might hold the key to the world's
first democratic socialist experiment.
However, should the old hardliners
successfully hold the tide against the young
militants, many observers believe that would
strike a crippling, if not fatal, blow to the
The French left will be weakand divided for
years to come. And the Italian and Spanish
Communist Parties, in which the
Eurocommunist renewal is far more advanced,
will be saddled with the burden of a
recalcitrant neighbor whose image will forever
raise doubts about the sincereity of their own
transformations. The showdown will come at
the French party's 23rd Congress early next
T HE CRISIS is unique in many ways. "This
is the first time a truly great debate has
taken place within our party concerning our
political strategy within France," said
Communist intellectual Raymond Jean.
"Before, in 1956, in 1968, the disappointment
and disagreement centered around conflicts
that were important, but that took place
elsewhere - in Hungary, in Czechoslovakia."
The many problems began last fall, with the
break-up of the Union of the Left - a five-year-
old Socialist-Communist-Radical electoral
alliance that was predicted to walk away with
the March legislative elections.
After the rupture, the Communists
concentrated their invective more against their
Socialist rivals than the right. When the left
lost, Communist Party leader George
Mlarchais immediately declared that his party
bore "no responsibility" for the defeat. Instead
he heaped the blame on the Socialists.
"Spontaneously - and I insist on the word
spontaneously - the very night of the elections,
when we heard the results, the debate began,"
- Daniel Vernette, a union militant, said.
"For the first time many members were
saying what they really felt about the party,"
Jean-Jacques Olivier, a Communist journalist
in Paris, said. "And the party was afraid to
face up to the situation."
"It was the first time ever that there was
general criticism of the leadership. You have to
understand, we never crtiticize the
THE CLASH boils down
pang of Eurocommunism
between the old and the new.
nraoes importance to the entire
of Euiropean politics, many party
Eih ltyv-in' Vars (f Editorial Freedom
Vol. LX, No. 41
News Phone: 764-0552
Ed ted and managed by students at the University of Michigan
Th C on campus
E AILI F ItaTHIS year, Harvard
U nAiv eiity tyook a bold stand
against gox'irrrnment spying when it
ianned covert recruiting of foreign
,tudent s as 1A agents. Sunday, tha4
progressIve '.$ep was nullified by CIA
director tansfield Turner's
peremptor: announcement that his
agency woul d not, comply with the
if we 'r :equired to abide by the
rules of crv rcorporation, every
a ademi i ns it ution, it would
become impossible to do the required
job for our country," he said, and
added,. "Harvard does not have any
legal authardiiy over us.''
Therein iH. the problem; no one
seems to have authority over the CIA.
These myopic chauvinists have too
ng been erinitted to continue their
surrept it iOUs activities outside the
sphere of ivilian control. This
snummer, orngress approved the
agency's budget without even
knowing how much it was.
The terms "national security" and
"for the good of the country" are
liberally fed to the media by Mr.
Turner and his cohorts, but these can
hard l be justification for the gross
1rmalf'easan of the CIA: fighting the
APLA M A ngola; aiding in the
oyeirth rov of' the Allende
government; its role in Santa
Domingo, and probably countless
other immoral acts yet to be
That Harvard sought to sever its
ties with the corruption and stench of
the international espionage network
is more than commendable, it is the
only moral stance onep to any
institution, and one we have
encouraged the University to take.
That the independent nature .of the
CIA permits Mr. Turner to ignore
Harvard's ban is an outrage. College
campuses, our pillars of
intellectualism, must not be used as
tools by a notorious band of
international mercenaries, thieves,
assassins and spies.
That the agency has gotten out of
control is apparent. What is not clear
is how to alleviate the problem. Since
Mr. Turner is unmoved by protests
or even official requests by
universities; it is time for President
Carter and Congress to force the
director to pay heed to decency and
morality - something that should
have been done long ago.
The president and Congress should
no longer give the CIA license to
continue its repugnant and pernicious
exploits on American college
campuses and around the world.
For decades the party has been shackled by
its Stalinist past, whence the present
leadership dates. Its rigid ideology and
vocabulary, its heavy-handed treatment of
dissidents, its identification with the Soviet
Union, its sectarian denunciation of all rivals
on the left - all have kept it locked in what the
French call "the ghetto" of political isolation.
Since the formation of the left union in 1972,
however, the party has moved away from the
Soviet Union, increased internal democracy
and deepened its commitment to gradual
change and a fully democratic socialism.
"It's very important to understand that more
than half our members joined during this
period," Vernette said. "I only joined the party
because it had already changed."
When the leadership abruptly reverted
to its old tactics after the rupture with the
Socialists, it left many members bewildered.
What they fear now is a return to the ghetto.
"We refuse to live according to dogma. We no
longer accept word from above as if it it
gospel," said Yves Roucaute, a young Paris
Though reports from working class bastions
around the country indicate less concern there,
the debate in Paris, the political heart of the
nation, has run deep enough to bring other
party activities to a grinding halt - a rare
occasion in the Communist Party.
W HILE THE leadership has tolerated the
internal discussions, it staunchly refused
a demand by many cells and party intellectuals
that it open one page every day in the party
newspaper for the debate.
Barred from their own press, such
internationally known party intellectuals as
Jean Ellenstein and Louis Althusser lost no
time publishing their criticisms elsewhere.
When Althusser wrote a series of critical
articles in Le Mounde, the paper's sales
jumped by 50,000 per day. Three hundred
intellectuals published an angry petition
demanding an open debate, quickly gaining
another 1,000 signatures.
And several prominent dissidents
announced plans for a new weekly publication
that would bring together Communists,
Socialists, Trotskyists and other leftists in a
common effort at innovation and
communication - a clear heresy for the
The student initiated FMench "May revolution" in 1968 took everyone, including the com-
munists, by surprise. Ten years later, the Left in France still has communication flems.
Leadership reaction was swift. Trying to
locate the intellectuals from the more cautious
rank and file, Marchais and others have
charged the dissidents with everything from
"Trying to split the party" to "declaring war."
"Now among cell secretaries, section
secretaries and the leadership, you don't hear
any more of the criticism," Olivier said.
T HE DISSIDENTS insist, almost to a
person, that they are not contesting the
general line of the party established by the last
Congreess -.a commitment to democracy,
openness to classes other than the traditional
blue-collar proletariat and some form of left
unity. In fact, they are in many ways trying to
force the leadership back to that line.
He and others claim the weight of these
functionaries - whose continued employment
depends on their complete loyalty to the
leadership - stifles and initiative from below.
As crucial as anything else is the party's
image, a problem most often cited in its
attitudeitoward the Soviet Union and Eastern
"It's true the party has made progress in
criticizing these countries, but not enough,"
said one party journalist. "In our press we still
call these countries socialist. But if these are
socialist countries, even if we say they have
made profound"errors, 'who in the world would
want to be a socialist?
Will the party change? Until the 23r
Give France's importance to the entire scheme of Euro-
pean politics, many party members believe that with a strong
Communist Party, France might hold the key to the world's
first democratic socialist experiment.
"We can discuss anything in the cells today,"
said one Communist journalist. "But the
question is, to what end? Some say, sure, we
talk and argue in the cells, but that's it; the
debate doesn't rise to the leadership. Me, I
don't believe that."
"The problem is that the party has become an
enormous machine," countered Olivier,
echoing leading dissident Louis Althusser's
denunciation of the party apparatus as "a
machine built to dominate." "It probably has
more permanent functionaries than any other
party in Europe," he said.
Congress, which will follow three months of
renewed debate, no one can say for sure. But
whether confident of victory or anticipating
disaster, a deep anxiety seems to run across
the party ranks: Without a strong Communist
Party, there is no hope for significant chance in
"The Communist Party must be powerful
and strong in the Union of the Left," said
Olivier. "But for it to become strong now it
must drop its Stalinist image. It must have an
extremely democratic image, an image of a
party in which one can express oneself."
By Joel Beinin
Z 51T, 15E& -we
'To the victor belongs the spoils' is a well
known political maxim. But the victor also
arrogates to himself the right to rewrite
history. And the ideological domination
achieved in this manner can be just as
substantial a burden on the defeated as the
material effects of conquest. Michael Arkush's
article praising Menachem Begin's
"flexibility" in coming to terms with Sadat and
Carter at Camp David (Daily, Oct. 18, 1978) is
an astonishing attempt to rewrite history which
fails miserably if one pauses only briefly to
examine the facts of the case.
How is it that Begin deserves the title
"former freedom fighter"? During the British
mandate in Palestine Begin was the
commander of a gang of political terrorists
P.L.O. In fact, the Camp David agreements
have not obliged him to do either. Begin has
not renounced in principle his claim that Jews
have a biblical right to the West Bank, nor has
he agreed to stop building settlements in the
occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip except for
a brief three month pauseduntil an
Isaeli-Egyptian treaty is concluded.
Only with a supreme act of bad faith or utter
political naivete can one claim that the
spurious arrangements for "Palestine
autonomy" negotiated at Camp David are a
.genuine contribution to restoring to the
Palestinian people their right to national sefl-
determination. What kind of "autonomy" will
be possible when Israeli military garrisons dot
the West Bank and Gaza strip, prepared to
crush any development that Israel perceived to
be unfavorable? If this "autonomy" is so fine
why is it that not a single Palestinian leader of
any repute has endorsed it? Not even Jordan's
King Hussein - butcher of the Palestinian
people in September, 1970 and long time paid
agent of the CIA has accepted the Camp David
agreements. Is it not the least bit suspicious
that no Arab state except Egypt has endorsed
Where then is Begin's flexibility? What did
he give up? Is it true that Begin surrendered
the Sinai including three airfields and about a
dozen Israeli settlements inhabited by less than
agreements are only a temporary papering
over of the major issues in the Middle east
conflict. The general thrust of Camp David is to
allow S.adat some breathing room so that he
can try to shore up Egypt's collapsing economy
without the pressure of enormous defense
expenditures. At the same time Camp David
also ensures continued American hegemony in
the Middle East since the two main
protagonists in the lastlhree wars are now tied
firmly, both politically and economically to the
Even if Camp David succeeds in temporarily
producing quiet on the Israeli-Egyptian border
the fact that the agreements have failed to
address the fundamental issue of the right of
the Palestinian people to self-determination
will eventually explode the agreements. Israel
has made no meaningful concessions on this
question. Begin and Dyan both declared that
there will be no Palestinian state, no
withdrawal from Arab Jerusalem, no total
withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West
Bank and Gaza. Israel has not renounced the
principle on which it is founded-Jewish
supremacy in the territory of Palestine. For
the Palestinians Camp David means at best the
establishment of a Bantustan on the West
Bank and Gaza.
Is it any wonder that there are no takers for
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