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The Death of Free Speech in France?


Every year the French communist Party ( PCF) organizes the Fête de l’Humanité in Paris, a left-wing festival where concerts are held and communist parties from all over the world erect stands to exchange books, pamphlets and ideas. Many authors, journalists and intellectuals are invited every year to participate in debates on philosophy, culture, politics and current affairs.

But this year will probably be remembered for the important debates the attendees of the festival were not allowed to have.  Two authors, Belgian theoretical physicist Jean Bricmont and French author Caroline Fourest, were forced to cancel their talks due to intimidation and threats from  organisations calling themselves “Antifa” and “Indigènes de la République”, respectively.

Caroline Fourest is a pro-Israeli reactionary who masquerades as a “left-wing” feminist.  Her invitation to the festival to discuss the rise of Islamic extremism and the French far right upset many on the left.

Reactionary and islamophobic Fourest most certainly is, but preventing her from speaking not only gives credence to her erroneous theories but violates her constitutional right to freedom of speech.

When Fourest was about to speak the dangers of Islamic extremism and the rise of the Front National, France’s far right party, a group calling themselves “lesIndigènes de la République” entered the tent where Fourest was speaking and began to throw objects on the stage. Some protestors even attempted to assault her.

Soon the tent was occupied by the protestors who shouted slogans against racism and islamophobia. The protestors proceeded to occupy the stage whereupon the audience shouted back “liberté d’expression!” (freedom of expression). The confrontation between the conference attendees and protestors continued for about 20 minutes with each side calling the other “fascist”.

The “Indigènes de la République” protestors won out, however, when the debate was cancelled and Caroline Fourest was escorted by bodyguards to a nearby vehicle.

The following day Belgian physicist, author and intellectual Jean Bricmont was due to give a far more important talk on the crisis in Syria and the specious discourse of “humanitarian intervention”   propagated by the mainstream media to justify wars of aggression.

For many years, Bricmont has been a critic of the politics of military interventions undertaken under the pretext of protecting “human rights”. Bricmont’s heresy on this issue and his anti-Zionism has made him a pariah in the fashionable salons of France’s “respectable” intelligentsia.

The Belgian physicist’s unequivocal anti-imperialist stance has also made him the target of a vile defamation campaign on the internet and in the mainstream French media where he has been called a “rouge-brun” , a brown-shirt red, a “confusioniste” etc.

Furthermore, the more extremist fringes of the internet’s thought-police have singled out Bricmont for special attention. A few days prior to the fête de l’Humanité, an “anti-fascist” anarchist organization called Antifa launched a campaign on Indymedia against Bricmont’s attendance at the festival, where they threatened to assault him if he spoke about humanitarian intervention. In the insane world of Antifa activism, Bricmont’s opposition to NATO-fomented terrorism in Libya and Syria makes him a “fascist”.

Antifa is just one of the  international anarchist groups currently being used by the intelligence agencies of imperialist states to sow confusion and chaos among the ranks of disaffected youth, inciting them to mindless, violent acts that serve the agenda of an ever- encroaching police state. This organization, in particular, targets intellectuals who denounce Zionism as well as alternative media outlets which expose the mechanisms and institutions that promote US imperialism throughout the world. It does all this under the guise of “anti-fascism”.

Due to the simple-mindedness of their beliefs and stupidity of their actions, Antifa tend to attract naïve and angry youths who turn up at demonstrations in black hoodies in order to provoke police crackdowns and sabotage any meaningful resistance to the current political order. In other words, Antifa are a group of useful idiots, whose real agenda is to promote fascism under the guise of “anti-fascism”.

Bricmont was informed of their campaign and asked the management of the festival to provide him with appropriate security. The festival managers assured the Belgian scientist that he would have protection. However, one hour before Bricmont was about to speak, he received notification that the talk was cancelled.  The violent threats of the Antifa agents provocateurs provided Pierre Laurent, general secretary of the PCF with the perfect pretext to cancel Bricmont’s heretical lecture. Allowing Bricmont to speak would have shown up the PCF for the right-wing, imperialist sham that they are in the eyes of their ever dwindling supporters.

The festival management had decided they could not provide security for Belgian physicist in the event of an attack by the “Antifa” protestors.  However, the pro-war, pro-Israeli pundit Caroline Fourest was provided with full protection by the festival management, in spite of similar threats having been made against her.

This was hardly surprising, considering that the l’Humanité newspaper was the organizer of the festival. L’Humanité has given full support to NATO’s destabilization of Syria since violence broke out there last year, publishing the same war propaganda as its “right-wing” competitors.

According to the PCF’s international affairs spokesman Jacques Fath, the only solution for peace is Syria is the fall of Assad.  Fath, of course, made no mention of NATO’s death squads, who have been killing both innocent civilians and security forces since March 2011, facts that have even been verified by many independent journalists and admitted by the Arab league’s observer mission.

Neither of Syria’s communist parties was invited to the festival.  Both the Communist Party of Syria(Bakdash) and the Communist Party of Syria (Faisal Aka Unified) won 11  seats in the parliamentary elections that followed the implementation of Syria’s  new democratic constitution in May this year.

Both parties have consistently denounced NATO and Gulf-state fomented terrorism against their country since the outbreak of violence in Daraa in 2011. Neither party was allowed to erect a stand at the French communist festival. Instead representatives of the pro-war Syrian opposition were represented.

Those who believe that Jean Luc Melanchon’s Front de Gauche (the French “far left” party which one 11 percent of the vote in last year’s parliamentary elections) represents some form of alternative to the status quo, would do well to remember that Melanchon and the Front de Gauche SUPPORTED NATO’s intervention in Libya last year.  This is an organization which claims to oppose NATO. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The supporters of Melanchon- a demagogue who likes to prop up his left-wing credentials by pretending to support president Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and other centre-left governments in Latin America- do not seem to realize that the ALBA countries all supported Libya’s colonel Gaddafi last year and now openly declare their support for President Bachar al-Assad in his struggle against NATO, and Gulf-state funded terrorism.

While President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela sought to mediate in the Libyan crisis in 2011 in order to prevent military aggression against the country, a mediation welcomed by the Libyan government- and which could have prevented war- they received absolutely no help from Jean Luc Melanchon, who now vaunts himself as an anti-imperialist. Melanchon is a dastardly liar and a political fraud of the highest order.

One would not have to be a physicist like Jean Bricmont to see and understand the horrible reality of NATO’s proxy war in Syria, but what an inconvenient interruption it would have been if the would-be communists of this year’s festival were to be confronted with the naked, mephitic truth about NATO’s humanitarian wars, and the left-wing dupes who support them. Bricmont had to be silenced.

France’s “extrême gauche” are nothing more than a contemptible, motley crew of cowards, liars and fools, whose inflated egos and vacuous slogans adequately reflect the all-pervasive cynicism of the corrupted petty-bourgeois class they represent.

But there is another reason for Bricmont’s ostracism from respectable French society; he is a scientist who is capable of applying critical thought to everyday issues that affect the common citizen. In other words, unlike his elitist and conformist colleagues in academia, for whom, peer –reviewed papers, tenure and social respectability count more than epistemic truth, Bricmont represents the type of scientist capable of applying his microscope to the laws that govern civil society; laws whose  flagrant violation by Western governments the neo-scholastic monks of postmodern academia conveniently ignore.

In the days following the festival Caroline Fourest’s expulsion was widely bruited in the French mainstream media, who vociferously denounced the violation of her “freedom of expression”.

Fourest is one of the most prominent propagandists for the New World Order, and such is her ubiquity across the French media complex, that she has become a household name.  The war-mongering Fourest has been presented as a martyr of human rights, feminism and free speech, thanks to the useful idiots of Antifa. Needless to say, the war-mongering harpies of France’s mainstream media made no mention of the violation of Jean Bricmont’s freedom of speech.

If Fourest, Antifa, the PCF, Front de Gauche and the entire pseudo-leftist French establishment had their way, Bricmont and his ilk would never again be allowed to speak in a public platform. For what he has to say would expose them for the fakers, imperialist collaborators and loud-mouthed nincompoops that they are.

Those activists who admire and those who detest Caroline Fourest can scream “fascist” to one another to their heart’s content in their zany, infantile theatre of the absurd. But it is they who are opening the path for a seizure of power by the extreme right in this country, as the real fascists in Marine Le Pen’s Front National will easily capitalize on their buffoonery. For, who can blame a simple working class voter for being seduced by the mendacious arguments of Marine Le Pen when there are none but prattling fools to oppose her?

This is not the first time genuine anti-war activists were prevented from speaking in France. Michel Collon, a Belgian journalist, author and editor of a news and analysis website InvestigAction was prevented from speaking at the Bourse du Travail in Paris on November 9th 2011 by the Antifa agents provocateurs. These groups serve the imperialist state by preventing the public from engaging in serious debate about France’s foreign wars.

Other political organizations which have been attacked by  the “Antifa” agents provocateurs are the URCF, l’Union de Révolutionaires -Communistes de France and the PRCF, Pole de la Renaissance Communiste en France.

These organizations have some former heroes of the French Resistance among their members, real fighters against fascism. The president of the PRCF is Léon Landini, a combatant in the French resistance during the Second World War, who was responsible for the killing of over 40 Nazi soldiers, the destruction of 300 Nazi vehicles and dozens of attacks against Nazi railway carriages. The URCF and PRCF are now the main political organizations in France militating for the construction of a real communist party.

Unlike the fakers in the Front de Gauche, PCF, NPA and other organizations, the URCF and PRCF have given their full support to the Syrian communist parties of Syria in their fight against fascist aggression by NATO and the Petro-monarchies of the Gulf states and have unequivocally denounced the lies and disinformation against Syria of the reactionary French press.

It is one of the most egregious propaganda achievements in recent history that those who expose the lies that trick the public into perceiving wars of aggression as humanitarian operations are denounced as “fascists”, while those who bang the drums of war are considered to be “left-wing” and “progressive”. This is the general pattern set by the French media complex and genuine anti-imperialist intellectuals have paid the price.

The censorship of Jean Bricmont by the left liberal establishment is deeply indicative of the perilous direction French society is currently taking. It is the road to a new form of totalitarianism, where critical thought is murdered by platitudes,empty, effete slogans, and the meaningless newspeak of the ruling group mind.

The unconscionable, dishonest and dastardly behavior of the petty bourgeois leftists, if unchecked, will inevitably lead to a grim dénouement in this tragic-comic farce that is contemporary France.

Gearóid Ó Colmáin can be reached at:

Gearóid Ó Colmáin is a journalist and political analyst based in Paris. 

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