Category Archives: NPA

A Great Loss to Socialism

Daniel BensaidIt is with great sadness that we hear of the death of the French Trotskyist leader Daniel Bensaid, especially coming so soon after the death of Chris Harman, another veteran of ’68.

He died at the age of 63 after a long illness.

Bensaid was one of the most important thinkers in contemporary Marxism, and one who never divorced theory from the building of a revolutionary organization.

His struggle started in the early 1960s in the Union des Etudiants Communistes, the French Communist Party’s student organisation.

In the post-war period Stalinism dominated the French working class movement like in no other country in Western Europe (apart from possibly Italy), and in fact the PCF was the last to dump uncle Joe.

Despite the overwhelming dominance of the Stalinism, and the tiny number of French Trotskyists, he was won to the their ideas and was expelled from the UEC along with a number of others to form the Jeunesse Communiste Revolutionaire (Revolutionary Communist Youth).

Despite the small size of the JCR it was to play a key role in the events of May 1968 and grew into a larger organization, which was then banned. Following this they formed the Ligue Communiste, which by then had gained enough strength to stand Alain Krivine as a candidate in the the Presidential elections of 1969 and receive some 240,000 votes.

The LC was in its turn banned in 1973 following its participation in demonstrations against a fascist group, but it survived as it refounded itself as the LCR, Revolutionary Communist League.

The LCR unlike so many on the left survived the bad years of the eighties and was able to through itself into the struggles which blossomed from 1995 onwards becoming the most important organization of the French radical left.

Bensaid remained a leader of the LCR throughout this time whilst also teaching at the University of Paris and keeping up a prodigious literary output.

In recent years he took more time to concentrate on theoretical questions as a new generation of leaders emerged from the struggle. Amongst the books he wrote in this period is a Marx for Our TImes probably his best known work in English.

As Trotsky observed “The revenge of history is greater than that of the General Secretary” (meaning Stalin). Daniel Bensaid was proof of this.

Whilst French “Communism” has slid into terminal crisis, the tradition Bensaid stood in has gone from strength to strength and 2009 the LCR merged into the NPA, New Anti-Capitalist Party, undoubtedly the most important revolutionary organization in Europe, in which whole new generation of militants are remaking the Marxist tradition for the 21st Century.

There is more on Daniel Bensaid on the NPA’s website

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