Saturday, December 8, 2012

Cohn-Bendit Quits EELV

What had been a separation is now officially a divorce: DCB wants no more to do with EELV. In some ways, this is an odd dénouement to a long saga, since Cohn-Bendit had long argued that EELV should not run a presidential candidate of its own but instead try to exert maximum leverage on the Socialists. Others countered that without a candidate of its own, the party had no leverage: that was precisely the issue.

Now, both sides have their wish: the EELV leadership has become a (minor) appendage of the PS, bound by the doctrine of governmental solidarity to stifle the opinions of its own ministers when they differ with those of the government, and linked to policy choices unpopular with EELV voters. So EELV is both decapitated, as DCB wished, and impotent, which he claimed would not be the consequence of decapitation. His departure is therefore the logical culmination of his and his former party's contradictions.

But Dany's position in the French political spectrum was unique. He could not be intimidated by left-wing romanticism of the sort that Mélenchon successfully peddled for a while. He had grown up in the struggle against outmoded ideas of the universal working class, the vanguard party, and the "relative autonomy" of politics and economics. Yet he was anything but an armchair theorist of a new left. He thought of politics as a profession, requiring commitment and hard work, and not as a psychoanalytic transference leading to personal catharsis, a posture he often criticized in his comrades at EELV. The demands of that high and selfless ideal of politics were no doubt too great to attract people in the numbers required to form a political party, especially in the absence of tangible reward. So other Greens have become ministers, while Dany the Red once again retires from politics, possibly for the last time. Go in peace.


brent said...

I never met DCB and can't judge his personal motivations. Certainly his early career showed a brilliant instinct for the zeitgeist, but I'm not sure I'd call it 'professional.' More recently his phobic aversion to the Left put him at odds with Duflot and much of Les Verts. Call it 'leftist romanticism' if you must; others, including the Parti de Gauche, call it ecosocialism, the powerful understanding that free-market capitalism will never resolve the ecological contradictions that are driving us all toward catastrophe, but will merely externalize their costs right to the bitter end. That 'realism' is reaching its endgame, as American students in large numbers join the 'leave it in the ground' movement and European leftists, the real Left, follow suit. DCB's 'professionalism,' also known as opportunism, caused him to miss that train, and he retires from politics, alas, as an irrelevant has-been.

Anonymous said...

I have met Dany the Red when I was in my first year in Nanterre, in 1967 / 1968. He was brilliant, and very funny.

But he always was at heart a liberal, for social issues (he first got famous for fighting for the right of boys to enter the girls' dormitories) then, as it turned out, for economics too.

I am not sure what people like Cécile Duflot or Jean-Vincent Placé are after, but I don't really like them.


Louis said...

Slightly off-track with the previous comments: Cohn-Bendit was and still is the representative of a rare cast, the genuinely European, or should I say transnational politician. This happens beyond the right/left divide, on a plane where the dividing line is national/transnational. In this respect too Cohn-Bendit is an oddball in French politics - a true liberal, in-between and above national borders.