Thursday, April 13, 2006

Now the workers have struck - for fame...


... cos Lenin's on sale again.  Sorry, I've just started watching the BBC series 'Life on Mars', where a police detective from 2006 wakes up in 1973..  I really wanted to start by talking about the CPE in France again, where the government has recently backed down in the face of street protests..  This is a real victory of style over substance..  De Villepin was accused of arrogance, of not consulting..  As Le Monde reported some time ago, he dreamt up the proposal all on his own.  So, the government did not have sufficient unity or commitment to see the thing through.  The PS is now demanding the withdrawal of the Contrat Nouvelle Embauche which is similar to the CPE, but for small enterprises only.  Le Pen was interviewed on France Inter this morning (Thursday).  He was not particularly keen on the new law, but criticised the fact that a legitimate government has given in to demonstrations.  It's a matter of principle, he says.  (He has also recently called for a union of 'patriots' for next year's Presidentielle.  This is widely seen as an appeal to Philippe de Villiers' Mouvement Pour la France to support a single candidate of the far-right.)  The government, having failed in something difficult, now looks set to bring in something easy - a smoking ban similar to Britain's.

France may not yet be 'the sick man of Europe'.  That title is held by Italy, who inherited it from Germany.  In the 1970's, of course, it was held by Britain.  Some commentators on the BBC have said that the Communists in Italy, whose support  Romano Prodi may need to govern, are moderate and fluffy.  As the Financial Times pointed out in a feauture on 4 April, however, there are the Democrats of the Left (DS), led by Piero Fassino.  This grew out of the Italian Communist Party in the 1990's.  Then there is the hardline party, Communist Refoundation, led by Fausto Bertinotti.

As the BBC's Caroline Wyatt has said, being in France now is like being transported back to the Britain of the 1970's. ...

'The coup against Harold Wilson' featured quite a bit of footage of General Sir Walter Walker, Nato's Commander-in-Chief, northern Europe, 1969 to 1972, warning against communist subversion.  If a coup is being plotted in secret, why should someone go public in this way ?  I suppose to prepare opinion for the idea in a general way.  The Guardian's obituary also says that Walker was opposed to the idea of a coup.  I came across another mention of him: he 'has recently drawn attention to the far-reaching implications of what has happened in Portugal.  As General Walker observes, a most strategic member of NATO changed sides without a shot being fired. The loss of Portugal...' This seems to be talking about the events of 1974.  The previous regime was not exactly fascist, but certainly a right-wing dictatorship (like Franco's Spain, they upheld traditional, 'Catholic' values).  After its fall, Portugal became a democracy and eventually a member of the EU.  (Someone has gone to a lot of trouble to put online these archives, which go back to 1965.  I don't know anything about the publishers of this site, Australian League of Rights, though looking at more recent comments, they have headings like 'Leading neo-conmen named'.  If this is typical, it is interesting.)

Note: Google tells me that Bowie's lyrics go " 'Cause Lennon's on sale again," though there is some support for the Lenin reading.  It is, of course an example of creative ambiguity. 

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