Fabien Roussel: The French Communist Who Eats Meat | International

Fabien Roussel, the national secretary of the declining French Communist Party (PCF) and a candidate for the presidential election in April, is outside his ideological camp. Russell distances himself from environmental protection in favor of under-growth, from multiculturalism that wants to temper secularism in the face of practices such as the Islamic headscarf, and from systematic criticism of police violence. While he angers many of his fellow-religionists from the left, he receives applause from the right.

The latest controversy erupted on Sunday when the communist leader declared on a program on France 3: “Good wine, good meat, good cheese: for me this is French gastronomy. But to get to this good French gastronomy, you must have the means, and therefore The best defense[la] is to let the French get to it.”

The statements may sound cute, but they unleashed one of those storms of social networking, radio and TV talk shows that are usually ephemeral and insignificant. Speaking of wine, meat and cheese, they accused him of soliciting signs of France’s eternal identity, signs that supposedly despise a diverse, multicultural France with which some sympathize with the far right.

Sandrine Rousseau, left wing leader of European Ecology – Greens, stated in the LCI series: “These words exclude a part of the gastronomy that takes place in France (…). You can be French and French for generations and love couscous.” “I don’t drink. I’m vegetarian. I hope I’m not anti-French ”, former deputy environmentalist Sergio Coronado wrote on the social network Twitter.

Communist response in the liberal newspaper L’Opinion. “From what I understood, on the left, defending France, the nation, and sovereignty through culture and gastronomy is surprising. Pity!” He said. In the interview, he also defended “massive investments in French agriculture” to develop livestock as opposed to “factory farms”. Referring to recent battles some environmental mayors have had, he said, “I’m not an ayatollah who wants to ban everything: from the Christmas tree to the Tour de France, going to meat. A life based on quinoa and tofu is a nice life. It’s a nice life. Not my France.”

Controversy, in and of itself, is little more than crossing discord. But she is working to understand the situation, unorthodox today but certainly orthodox a few decades ago, of a candidate distancing himself from the new left. Some fractures are shown on the left beyond feeding.

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“Roussell’s ad,” Jean-Laurent Caselli analyzes in the Weekly Express, “bluntly exposes the abyss between a part of French society, culturally conservative in the culinary field, and the ecological left which is at the origin of the most ferocious criticism and wholly questioning mass consumption based on intensive agriculture.” Caselli adds: “Reactions reveal, for the class struggle, that the struggle between modes of life has been added, and even replaced.”

This isn’t the first time Russell (Python, 52) has caused hives in his field. When he attended a police demonstration in May, he was accused of taking to the streets with the far-right, even though few candidates were as harsh as him against extremist Eric Zemmour. On nuclear power, he is much closer to centrist President Emmanuel Macron than to the entire left, from the Socialist Party to the populists of La France Insumisa. He said a few days ago on Twitter: “We are proposing to build new nuclear reactors.” “It’s clean, durable, and inexpensive energy.”

Regarding secularism, the principle that in France strictly separates the state from any religion, Roussel declares himself “universal”. Any reluctance to adapt these principles to religious minorities, and specifically to Islam, is the subject of intense debate among the left. A few days ago, the dazzling Oscar Niemeyer building in Paris, in honor of journalists and cartoonists in Charlie Hebdo He was assassinated in 2015 by Islamists for mocking Muhammad.

“They died for their ideas, for their defense of the beloved principles of our republic, and of secular principles,” said Russell, who claimed the right to blasphemy. They may sound like the words of my lifelong leftist, but parts of the French left have been harshly criticized for making fun of Charlie Hebdo For Islam, even in his party, the deed was bad.

Communist MP Elsa Fosilon, after defending the idea of ​​honoring the magazine, criticized the fact that among the guests there were militant intellectuals of strict secularism. “The selection of the guests confirms the political transformation of my party for a few months,” he declared.

Russell’s electoral forecast is more than modest: he hovers between 2% and 3%. But the rest of the left does not raise its head either. The so-called culture wars within it – over the environment, secularism and security – are one of the causes of the division.

But their positions embrace some of the principles of the old French Communist Party, which in the post-war decades was dominant on the left, and sought to attract working-class voters who went to the far right. It also appeals to conservative intellectuals, such as Alan Finkelkraut. Fabian Russell, Finkelkraut, was judged ‘Very interesting’.

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