• The Left, the People, Populism

  • Von Roger Martelli | 06 Mar 17 | Posted under: Linke , Extreme Rechte
  • Dieser Beitrag ist nur auf Englisch und Französisch verfügbar.

    The right-left divide seems to be breaking down in current political representation. In fact this goes back some thirty years when the right turn of European socialism began to blur the boundaries between left-wing and right-wing government management.

    It is true that the extreme right has always dreamed of obliterating the major divide of political life. In 1927 the formula ‘neither left nor right’ was emphasised by Georges Valois, a disciple of Georges Sorel and then of Charles Maurras, who was at one point fascinated by Mussolini and founded the prototype of France’s fascist party, the Faisceau. Also in France, fifty years later, the Front National has made its watchword ‘Neither right nor left but French!’1

    The new reality is that the criticism of the right-left dualism has become general, reaching into the ranks of the European left. In January 2015, Jorge Largo, a leader of the new Spanish political formation Podemos, said to the French magazine Les Inrocks: ‘I am a republican of the left. Will claiming to be left help people?’ He added emphatically: ‘Defending the health system is neither right nor left […] We have to break with the ideological discourse that has prevented us from seeing reality and building a social majority.’2 Already by 1986 Cornelius Castoriadis declared in Le Monde: ‘For a long time now, in France and elsewhere, the left-right divide has corresponded neither to the major problems of our time nor to things that are radically opposed to each other.’3

    A left-right axis that has been blurred, but …

    In fact, the available opinion studies do not suggest an unequivocal movement but a contradiction.

    In 2014 in France, an extensive survey undertaken by the Centre de recherches politiques de Sciences Po (CEVIPOF) established that for nearly three-quarters of individuals questioned notions of right and left no longer mean anything.4 Still, the overwhelming majority of those polled continue to classify themselves according to the right-left axis. Also in 2014, at the beginning of November, the CSA polling institution notes that 70% of those asked situate themselves on the right (28%), on the left (28%), and at the centre (14%), while only 30% say that they are neither right or left or are indecisive.5

    In the very long run, we see a permanent, nearly equal tripartite division between those who classify themselves as left, those who choose the right, and those who refuse to be classified. The particular historical moment certainly expands or contracts any of the three groups but without altering the relation between them in any spectacular way. People decreasingly believe in the divide but they continue to position themselves along the axis it traces. This is doubtless because, by and large, this positioning parallels strong differences in values. People question the relevance of notions of right and left but the fundamental outlooks continue to confront each other in terms of right or left positions. Half of those who consider themselves to be on the left say they are ‘revolutionaries’; they prefer community, equality, the public sector, crime prevention. Half of those on the right claim to be ‘conservative’, three-quarters of them say they are ‘realists’, and they prefer the punishment of crime, the private sector, and individuality.

    On the other hand, it is true that one’s position on the right-left axis coincides less than it previously had with the existing system of parties. What still sparked electoral mobilisations in the past no longer works. In recent years in France, neither the unity of the left nor defensive invocations (‘Help, the right is returning!’) have caused an electoral spurt. For the journalist Christophe Ventura, ‘from now on the left has been reduced, on the electoral level, to the nucleus of its minoritarian sociological bases (the sector of stable wage earners of the public and industrial sectors and the progressive intellectual middle class)’.6

    On closer inspection, it is not the values of the two major groups which are decreasing but their trust in those who are supposed to express these values in political institutional space. They continue to relate to the structuring symbols of the right and the left but no one thinks that these political organisations are helping the forces that are working to embody these values.

    The end of the major ideological conflicts?

    In the past, the rejection of this division was very much a right-wing reality. The 1931 formulation by Émile Chartier, member of the Parti Radical,7 is often quoted: ‘When someone asks me if the divisions between right-wing and left-wing parties, between people of the right and people of the left, still has meaning, the first idea that occurs to me is that the person that has asked this question is not a person of the left.’ This is no longer completely the case, and uncertainty has transcended the old barriers. The left has been affected by this at its core.

    The exhaustion of sovietism, the weakening of the great alternative models, and the apparent triumph of the liberal idea have, since the early 1990s, fed the notion that major ideological conflicts belong to a bygone age. The American Francis Fukuyama expressed this in his famous concept of the ‘end of history’. New divisions have accompanied the transformation of societies: along lines of gender, ecology, the included/excluded, Nation/ Europe, identities, openness/closedness, materialism/post-materialism, etc. These divisions mostly cross through the left and the right and thus elude the traditional divide.8

    The ‘alternance’ of different parties in government and, still more, French socialism’s centrist reorientation have bolstered the notion that referring to the left is at once ineffectual and a source of confusion. This is the view of the philosopher Jean-Claude Michéa. In his essay on the ‘Mysteres de la gauche’ (Mysteries of the Left), he dates the origin of the left to the Dreyfus Affair.9 As he tells us, this ‘birth act’ was at the same time, ‘one of the major points of acceleration of the long historical process that was gradually to dissolve the original specificity of worker/popular socialism in what from then on was called the progressive camp’. For Michéa, the world of workers traded the message of the original figures of socialism (Leroux, Proudhon) for the scientism of Marx and the opportunism of Jaures. Immersion in the left and submission to the norms of material growth (‘the surrogate name for the accumulation of capital’) stifled the critical force of the class.

    If one believes Michéa, the liberalist refocusing of the present government is nothing other than ‘the logical outcome of a long historical process whose template was already inscribed in the tactical compromise negotiated at the time of the Dreyfus Affair by the leaders of France’s workers’ movement’. Michéa here goes back to and develops the old criticisms levelled by libertarian currents and revolutionary syndicalism, which saw in socialism’s opening to the left a betrayal of worker autonomy and a dampening of proletarian combat. In fact, Michéa’s entire text is simply a carbon copy of Georges Sorel’s words, who, as a ruthless adversary of Jauresian socialism, was a brilliant theorist of revolutionary syndicalism and the general strike as well as a thinker of the ultra-left and of revolutionary violence.

    Calling for the abandonment of the myth of the left, Michéa proposes starting not from the class but from the people. The people of which he speaks does not like the individual. It cultivates ‘the natural sense of belonging’, which is opposed to ‘abstract individualism’. In contrast to modernity, which devours capital, and to ‘bourgeois cosmopolitanism’ it prefers a national rootedness, the respect of ‘traditional values’, a concern for familial transmission, and for ‘the values of decency and civility’. This brings us back directly to the counter-revolutionary critique at the end of the eighteenth century of Louis de Bonald and Joseph de Maistre.

    Reading him, questions open up. Michéa starts from the left – his tradition of reference is communism – but where does he go? Less towards class struggle than towards the battle of the ‘small’ against the ‘big’. Through explicit references, Michéa locates himself somewhere between the ‘utopian’ socialism of the early nineteenth century and the French Communist Party (PCF) of the 1930s, that is, the PCF that had adopted the sectarian strategy of ‘class against class’. In reality, with the social and symbolic bases of these epochs having disappeared there is a danger that nothing will remain as a point of reference for the ‘little people’ other than … the Front National. In a biting critique published in the left journal Contretemps, the philosopher Isabelle Garo feels that her colleague ‘ends up not at all renovating a class discourse but proposes a completely different division, ethical in appearance, whose only effect can be decomposing the political landscape on his left flank’ even more than it already is.10

    Being of the people rather than of the left?

    If the outrageousness of Michéa’s proposal leads him to slippery horizons, it is not the case that every critique of a worn-out left leads to the disastrous contemporary fascination with the Front National. One cannot just brush off the reticence expressed, for example, by Podemos in Spain or the major objection reiterated in France by the Comité Invisible, which became known in 2007 for publishing L’Insurrection qui vient (The Coming Insurrection), locating itself in an old ultra-left current that prefers insurrection to political action. In its most recent publication, À nos amis (To Our Friends), the Comité openly asks the question: ‘Perhaps we can wonder what of the left remains among revolutionaries that dooms them not only to defeat but to being almost universally detested.’11

    This is not the first time in the last two centuries that the misguided behaviour of the French left in power has driven that part of public opinion most attached to equality to get round the trap of a discredited left. In 1870, the Proudhonian August Vermorel, who disliked ‘bourgeois’ republicans, rejected the binary division, preferring to distinguish a ‘socialist party’, a ‘liberal party’ (in which he placed the moderate republicans), and ‘reaction’.

    In the late 1920s/early 1930s, the Communist International saw the fault line running between communism and fascism from then on and with this logic saw the socialists as no longer social democrats but ‘social fascists’. Still later, in the 1950s and 1960s, when socialism was mired in ‘third force’ Atlanticism and colonial wars, it appeared to a part of the left that the eastwest opposition was relegating the left to the rank of accessories. At that time, the French Communists ferociously denounced what they called the ‘American party’,12 while a socialist official unhesitatingly affirmed that the Communist Party was ‘not on the left but to the east’.

    We are reliving one of these confused phases in which people no longer know how to describe the mainspring of the major political divisions. Pablo Iglesias’s and Podemos’s wager is thus to say that ‘from now on the faultline opposes those who like us defend democracy […] and those who side with the elites, the banks, and the market; there are those on the bottom and those who are on top, […] an elite and the majority’.13 Questioned by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a Bolivian official close to President Evo Morales conveyed the same idea: ‘So I ask how we define ourselves. We say that we are of the people.’14 Attracted by this, the French leader enthusiastically took up the idea. If it is true, he said that in Bolivia as in Spain ‘the system is not afraid of the left but of the people’, then the political solution is not to assemble the left but to constitute the ‘front of the people’.

    Recently, the philosopher Chantal Mouffe has lent prestige to the rejection of the old dividing line. In 2008, in an essay ‘The Illusions of Consensus’, she still accepted its cogency, though revising its usage.15 In 2016, in an interview for the magazine Regards, she comes back to her earlier assertions. If she then believed in the importance of the boundary between right and left it was because she thought it possible to radicalise social democracy and give it back a left identity. From the moment that this hypothesis became unfeasible, that is, from the moment social democracy showed its incapacity to resist liberal tropism any reference to the left is an illusion, she contends. What has to be unified is not the left but the people. ‘To speak of left populism means noting the crisis of social democracy, which no longer makes it possible for us, in my view, to re-establish this boundary between the left and the right’. In an agonistic political space, she claims, we need to redefine the faultlines: If the right-left dualism no longer works then it has to be substituted by the dualism of ‘people’ and ‘elites’ or the confrontation of ‘them’ versus ‘us’.

    The impasse of a left-wing populism

    Chantal Mouffe’s proposal takes cognizance of the European left’s failure to halt the rise of the extreme right. She wants it to be realistic: rather than rejecting the concept of populism it is better, she says, to turn it against its dangerous users, better to not discourse in general on the right and the left but oppose a ‘left populism’ to a ‘right populism’ … The formulation is simple; but it is also questionable. Why? Because although categories of popular strata exist concretely the people does not exist but has to be constructed politically.

    It cannot be constructed by referring to it nominally or by distinguishing it from its supposed opposite (the elite) but by gathering it around the project that emancipates it at the same time as it allows society as a whole to emancipate itself. It is therefore no accident that in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the parties of popular emancipation did not peg their principal identification to a sociological denomination, popular or worker, but to the project that they intended to promote. They called themselves ‘social democrats’, socialists’, and ‘communists’; the content of their project took precedence over their social determinants.

    They had sound reasons for adopting this approach. In the broad social struggle, the accumulation of mobilisable components is nothing without the binding element that makes them into a coherent force rather than a mere numerical aggregate. To achieve this bonding is it enough that the dominated groups have a common enemy? Finance? It cannot be seen. The elite? Its boundaries are fuzzy, either too extensive or too restrictive. What is more, the elite adversary can be the ‘privileged’ functionary against the private-sector wage earner, the stable worker against the precarious wage earner, those who are too poor to pay taxes against those who are not very much less poor but who do pay taxes. The most convenient enemy is in fact those who are closest – in general this enemy is below us and does not resemble ‘us’. The immediate enemy is the ‘other’, especially when we are repeatedly told that this is the age of the clash of civilisations and the defence of threatened identity.

    What is it then that can unify people for their emancipation? Neither the adversary nor the enemy. Neither class against class nor camp against camp, nor centre against periphery nor the bottom against the top, nor people against elites: the heart of every contestation is the clash of the projects of society that underlie them. In the 1930s the popular categories with a working-class base resembled each other, less through the designation of an enemy than through the perceived danger of a regression (capitalist crisis and fascism) and the possibility of progress (the advent of a republic that would finally be social). It was by raising oneself to the level of the ‘everyone’ of the social totality that the working-class and wage-earner ‘we’ was not closed in on itself but permitted the majoritarian momentum which brought the world of the worker out of the ghetto in which the owning classes confined the ‘dangerous classes’.

    It is thus more germane to say that the mobilising affect of the popular critical movement has to be found not in the exaltation of a ‘we’ opposed to the ‘them’ but in the activation of the popular values of equality-citizenshipsolidarity connected to a global project of emancipation, which necessarily has a national dimension but which is not ‘national above all else’. What popular impulse lacks today is a coherent project of rupture with the existing order/disorder. This once was the ‘sacred equality’ of Paris’s sans culottes during the French Revolution, the ‘communalism’ of Babeuf, and the socialism and communism of the labour movement. It is what was called the ‘social republic’ in France’s republican and worker’s movement.

    In bringing together workers’ struggles with the political left, the representatives of historical socialism and communism did not sacrifice the class. They understood that the multitude of dispersed popular categories could not become the people in the political sense of the term (that is, the central protagonist of the polis) without politics putting together a concrete social experience, a struggle for dignity and for the existing institutions. It was through political action and hence through the conscious work of transforming the Radical Party’s notion of the left that French workers went from being ‘we’ to ‘all’, from communitarian withdrawal to society as a whole. It was on the basis of this broad ambition that Jauresian socialism, and then the communism of the 1930s and 1950s, fought for the authority of the left against political formations considered more moderate. On this basis the world of workers was able to occupy a major position within the ‘Jacobin bloc’ that united all the left majorities, from the Dreyfus Affair to France’s Common Programme of the 1970s.16 Without this project the ‘we’ of the most popular social categories is destined either to isolation and political ineffectiveness (the US model) or to a subaltern position due to the populist frameworks that annihilate any possible progress of popular emancipation.

    Such a project certainly must be a long-term one; it will doubtless not proceed from the brutal upturns resulting from wars. However, its horizon must be an alternative to the dominant logic of competition and of ‘governance’. Can it be established today in all of society, amongst all of the people? No, because the people are divided and disoriented. However, it is possible from now on to create a majoritarian movement in favour of a global transformation – economic, social, and cultural – in which the spirit of rupture would no longer have to minimised, as it has been ever since the beginning of the 1980s.

    Polarity on the left

    This is where we relocate the left/right duality. Once again we have to agree not to use the two terms to designate fixed entities, like drawers in which all we have to do is put individuals, political currents, and parties. Defining the left and the right as the sum of their components is useless. The vocabulary, images, and terrains of this division, as well as the historical issues, are constantly shifting. At most, it is not necessarily the vocabularies of the right and the left that express the antagonisms of a certain historical place or moment. What counts is not the label but the movement that pits the currents in opposition: no one pole means anything without the polarity that connects it to the others.

    Let us forswear the logic of classification, at least in the beginning. For example, let us not ask how much of a left there is.17 Let us not seek to decree who is left and who is not. Let us rather ascertain that which simultaneously produces the relative unity of the lefts and their heterogeneity. Instead of the metaphor of compartments in which the political ‘families’ are duly placed we ought to adopt the metaphor of magnetic poles. The pole aggregates particles, and in a force field what counts is the power of attraction of each of the poles. From the moment that the Revolution established politics as a distinct space of conflicts it inscribed the logic of polarity into the organisation of behaviours and representations. The left, anchored not in the idea of progress in general but in the perfectibility of the human species, sees equality between human beings as the only legitimate foundation of social cohesion; the right, convinced of the opposite (homo hominis lupus), makes order and authority the intangible basis of every society.

    However, at the same time as the Revolution establishes the central polarity, it produces another polarity within each camp. On the right, it produces a distinction between those who wonder if order should be introduced into the new space opened by the Declaration of the Rights of Man and those who think that order cannot be fully established unless it derives from the juridical inequality between the intermediary bodies and the authority of divine right. The former accepted the framework of the new society while the others wanted a return to the ancient régime. In the French left there is another polarity which emerges after 1789 and which is deepened and transformed in the succeeding decades. From the beginning everything depends on the way one conceives the field of equality: should it remain that of law (formal equality) or become equality of conditions?

    The majority of members of the Constituent Assembly (which formed the core of future liberalism) leaned towards the first option. Later, once it was recognised that the Revolution would ‘stop where it began’ (Bonaparte), the question shifts substantially. With the new bourgeois society being henceforth unavoidable should one integrate into its mechanisms (the play of the market and state) in order to correct its most negative features? Or, on the contrary, since the new society (or ‘capitalist’ society as one would say in the nineteenth century) was inherently unequal should not those who desired equal conditions envisage its radical transformation, including its disappearance if necessary? Accommodate or subvert? The global relationship to the dominant social order becomes the organisational pivot for the left’s political arena.

    The concrete forms of tension have changed (Feuillants and Montagnards, Girondins and Jacobins at the time of the 1789 Revolution, later opportunists and radicals, radicals and socialists, socialists and communists, social liberalism and anti-liberalism …). The polarity as such persisted. The distinctive elements – sovereignty, nation, the right to vote, secularism, social rights, reform and revolution – shifted but the principle of distinction remained intact. In every historical moment, the propulsive force of each pole – adaptation to the ‘system’ or rupture with it – was at work. In pendulum fashion, in a cycle of 12 or 15 years, either the spirit of adaptation dominates or that of rupture. But it is on the basis of a dual polarity, on the right as well as the left, that the (shifting) ideologies, the (evolving) practices, and the (ephemeral) organisations are articulated. The polarity of the right and the left underlie the unity of the left (the principle of equality or rather the principle of equality-liberty – which Étienne Balibar calls ‘equiliberty’). The internal polarity on the left produced a diversity that cannot be summed up either in the existence of ‘two lefts’ or in that of an infinite number of ‘families’.

    Panta rhei (everything flows), the Greek philosophers said with Heraclitus. The advantage of the metaphor of the poles is that it excludes all simple continuity. The play of opposites is built through a constant fluidity of its forms, which discourages any static vision of closed categories or of intangible ‘camps’. No Chinese Wall separates the lefts, even when they sharply oppose each other. Every stabilisation around a pole or a sub-pole is called into question by new differentiations as soon as the global system is transformed. Nevertheless the essential polarities reproduce themselves, enough to remain the active principles of distinction and classification of currents in the long run.

    In the twentieth century, in all of Europe, the fundamental polarity of the left is mainly, but not exclusively, fixed by the rivalry between communism and socialism, the one resting on the social model of sovietism, the other on that of the welfare state. In France a result has been the integration of socialism into the institutional mechanisms (1936 - 1959 and 1981 - 2012), the expansion and then petering out of communism of Bolshevik-Stalinist derivation, the marginalisation of the extreme lefts whatever their anchorings. As a whole, the years 1970 to 1990 led at once to the failure of the welfare state and the disappearance of sovietism. From the purely formal point of view there is an equivalence between the crisis of the old social democracy and that of Bolshevik descent; therefore we can say that there is a twofold exhaustion of, on the one hand, social democratic reform and, on the other, a historical form of revolution. This does not mean that the dilemma of ‘reform’ and ‘revolution’ is obsolete. If anything is obsolete it is perhaps the essentialist exclusiveness; instead, it is not the case that all reform can be reduced to ‘reformism’; nor can all breaks be considered ‘revolution’. But the stances of rupture and of accommodation remain active.

    A popular but not populist pole

    What is essential is that the polemic of equality is pivotal when the right/left polarity is operative.18 Accepting the disappearance of the original political divide today presents two major disadvantages.

    First of all it means forgetting that every transformation, partial or radical, rests on majority movements. A transformational goal requires us to think of majorities that are, first of all, not founded on uncertain social similarities but on integrated conceptions of the social dynamic. If truth be told, there is absolutely no point in pulling together ‘the people’ if it is not around a project that puts an end to its alienation. From this point of view, the triptych of equality, citizenship, and solidarity is doubtless the only one that allows us to build, in the long run, the popular movement on sentiments other than fear of the other, the acrimony of social insecurity and resentment, which is the historical leaven of all extreme right movements.

    It is because of this that it is worth developing the polarity of right and left. And if it is wobbly there is nothing more expedient than to refound it, making it the vector of anti-systemic mobilisation. One can always dream of winning majorities by dodging this divide or by playing at its edge and therefore in the political centre;19 in reality, however, it is in the nuclei of mobilisation, at the heart of the left and of the right that the deep electoral dynamics are decided.

    We should add that we are in one of those moments in which it is explained to us – in either a learned or a gross way – that the age of equality is past and that the age of identity has arrived.20 It is no longer supposed to be sharing that forms the basis of social equilibrium but the protection of identities. ‘Being at home’ is supposed to be the acme of good living and freedom. We should not accept this paradigm for a minute; for, on the contrary, it is galloping inequality coupled to the exacerbation of discrimination, to the erosion of citizenship and of solidarity which is the cause of all our ills. This is what we have to try to counter.

    But if equality is to remain at the heart of popular struggles, then the left remains a necessary major actor – a transformed left, rebalanced, refounded, and totally incompatible with the dominant social liberalism. A left, that is, that must aspire to being popular, critical, innovative, which requires frankly turning one’s back on what socialism has promulgated in France for more than three decades now, and not only since the downward shift to the right under Hollande and Valls.

    At bottom, rather than dodge the question of the left in Europe it would be better to tackle head on the major historical problem, our problem: that is, our societies have become too accustomed to the idea that a historical rupture with the dominant order is not possible and that, whatever one thinks of it, the horizon of a recentred and ‘social-liberalised’ social democracy is the only conceivable horizon. When the labour movement, sovietism, and third-worldism weighed on the whole of the social arena, the ‘alternative’ spirit of ‘radicality’, or of ‘rupture’, more or less dominated left space. Rather than setting the utopian objective of collecting the ‘whole people’, which is only an abstraction, it is better to set the goal of basing ourselves on popular expectations and on the existing critical movement in order to give meaning to popular left majorities, not centred on the battle against the ‘elite’ but against a social ‘system’ that produces the division between the exploited and the exploiters, the dominant and the dominated, the alienators and the alienated, the popular categories and the elites.

    Consequently, there is a necessary link between the constitution of the ‘people’ as a political subject and the radical refounding of the right-left divide. Provided that each of its terms is clarified anew, the old trilogy of equality, citizenship, and solidarity can again become a principle for gathering together a majority (not the totality) of the popular classes. There is no consistent popular politics that is not left; conversely, I fear that there is no populism that is not right-wing.

    The temptation of a left populism is, certainly, not an abomination; there are solid arguments for it, but it can become an impasse. It wants to be combative but is in danger of already preparing its future defeats. We do not compete with the extreme right in the question of the nation;  instead popular sovereignty needs to be opened up to all political spaces without distinction. We do not compete over collective identity, national or otherwise; instead, we plead for free identifications, for freedom of affiliations, and for the massive revalorisation of equality, which are the only durable bases of the common. We do not compete with the extreme right over populism; instead, we delegitimise its hold by counterposing to it the constitution of a popular pole of emancipation. It is this pole, popular and not populist, this pole of popular dignity, which should be the focus of all our efforts.


    1. This is the title of a 1996 book by Samuel Maréchal, then in charge of the youth group of the Front National.

    2. Mathilde Carton, ‘Podemos: la “machine de guerre électorale” fête son année d’existence’, Les Inrocks, 17 January 2015.

    3. Column in Le Monde, 12 July 1986, reprinted in Cornelius Castoriadis, A Society Adrift: Interviews and Debates 1947 - 1997, New York: Fordham University Press, 2010.

    4. https://www.enef.fr/

    5. http://www.atlantico.fr/decryptage/28-francais-se-disent-gauche-28-droite-14-au-centre-et-30-nulle-part-yves-marie-cann-csa-1838388.html

    6. Christophe Ventura, ‘Gauche captive’, Contretemps, 24, 4e trimestre 2014.

    7. The Parti Radical, founded in 1901, was then a republican party of the left. It participated in the Popular Front in 1936. In 1972 it split, with its left wing joining the communists and socialists who signed the Common Programme and created the Movement of the Radicals of the Left (first known as the Movement of the Radical Socialist Left). The remainder of the Parti Radical is now a part of the moderate right.

    8. On this point see, for example, Cevipof, La gauche et la droite: les limites d’une identification politique, résultats du Baromètre Politique Français (2006-2007), 4e vague – February 2007.

    9. Jean-Claude Michéa, Les Mystères de la gauche. De l’idéal des Lumières au triomphe du capitalisme absolu, Paris: Fayard, 2013.

    10. Isabelle Garo, ‘Au nom du peuple, J-C Michéa réécrit l’histoire’, Contretemps, 26 January 2015.

    11. Comité invisible, À nos amis, Paris : La Fabrique, 2014.

    12. An expression indicating the ensemble of groups and lobbies in post-war France that supported a U.S. or Atlantic alliance against the Communists and Gaullists, both of whom advocated a more independent France.

    13. Pablo Iglesias, 22 November 2014, https://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/2015/01/LAMBERT/51929

    14. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, L’Ère du peuple, Paris: Fayard, 2014 (second edition, 2016).

    15. Chantal Mouffe, On the Political, New York: Routledge, 2005.

    16. Roger Martelli, ‘Les gauches, les classes populaires et les classes moyennes’, Paul Bouffartigue (ed.), Le retour des classes sociales. Inégalités, dominations, conflits, Paris: La Dispute, new edition 2015 (first published in 2004 in the series États des lieux).

    17. The historian Jacques Julliard, for example, explains that in France there are four families of the left – liberalism, Jacobinism, collectivism, and libertarianism (Les gauches françaises 1762-2012: Histoire, politique et imaginaire, Paris: Flammarion, 2012 ). The extreme Trotskyist left is accustomed to counterposing the ‘two lefts’.

    18. Norberto Bobbio, Left and Right: The Significance of a Political Distinction, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996 (Droite et gauche, Paris: Seuil, 1996).

    19. Thus, in April 2016, France’s Minister of the Economy, Emmanuel Macron, declared that ‘the right and left are separated by a Maginot Line that has become obsolete, and the real faultline today runs between progressives and conservatives’.

    20. Roger Martelli, L’identité, c’est la guerre, Paris: Les Liens qui Liberent, 2016.

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