The Second Last Red

Le Beujolais est Arrivee
These signs popped up all over Paris last week, to the
delight of many bar owners.

Jospinomania! Turns Up in France for First Time

Paris:- Saturday, 22. November 1997:- After an entire lifetime devoted to error, Georges Marchais died last Sunday. He was 77.

For 22 of those years he was the number one French Communist, and with his death, he has left Cuba's President Dr. Fidel Castro as the sole survivor of politics - as they were once - made in Moscow.

As a result of resistance to change, he left the French Communist Party in a post-'Wall' shambles. Under Marchais, the PCF did not reform and did not move towards social-democracy like its cousin, the Italian PC, which entered mainstream politics and now acts like any other party.

Georges Marchais was certainly not entirely responsible for the long decline of the PCF, from its high point in 1946 to today. He joined the party in 1947, just after it polled 28.2 percent in national elections. This was its highest score.

In the 48 years until Robert Hue took over the PCF in January 1994, the party's score dropped from its high point to a mere 9.2 percent in 1993. Under Hue's direction, it has since risen to 9.9 percent in national polls.

From Calvados, from a modest background, Georges Marchais came to Paris at 16 to seek his fortune. He had a series of insignificant jobs until getting a place at an aircraft plant late in 1938. At this time he had no union or political affiliations.

During the war, between December 1942 and May 1944, what is known of his official history says he worked at the Messerschmitt factory in Bavaria. According to Parisien - Marchais Libération, high French Communist officials 'knew' whether Marchais was a conscript or a volunteer for wartime activities in Germany, but this still remains a public secret; the proofs were apparently purged from the mythical history of the PCF, by itself, in 1959.

Joining the party at 27, he was a late starter compared to most other top communists. He also joined the CGT, the communist-dominated labor union and in 1951 he was on the union's staff as leader of the metal workers in Issy-les-Moulineaux.

Last Monday's front page of Le Parisien: 'The Last of the Communists'

He rose in the party by being close to its leader, Maurice Thorez; which also lead to 'management training' at the party's head office in Moscow.

In 1956, in a secret session at the party's 20th congress in Moscow, Nikita Khrushchev depicted Stalin as a demented despot. Khrushchev's report was subsequently distributed to party members worldwide - to many who felt they were the victims of a major deception.

'De-stalinization' was begun by men hand-picked by Stalin; men who decided on an external policy of 'peaceful co-existence' with the funky, capitalist west.

This resulted in conflicts between 'conservative' and 'liberal' communists in satellite countries neighboring the Soviet Union - with the low point being reached in Hungary when Soviet troops regained control of the country from the reformist Hungarian army and their allies of workers, intellectuals and peasants. The French Communist Party approved of the bloodbath which was caused by this.

Twenty years after these events, in 1976, Georges Marchais announced the end of the 'dictatorship of the proletariat' in France. This lead in June of 1981, to communist entry into the French government, but the four named as ministers resigned in 1984.

Georges Marchais was the manager of the PCF as its influence was eclipsed by events. In 1985, Moscow took a decisive turn towards liberalization and in 1989 East Berliners knocked down the wall dividing the city. In 1991, the PC-USSR effectively ceased to exist.

Some people might argue that the world's communist movement was destroyed by Hollywood; if one can accept the idea that communist leaders were actual believers in Ronald Reagan's 'Star Wars' proposal.

However, the reason is probably more fundamental. Non-communist France could afford to export wheat to Russia - it is doubtful that the reverse could have ever been true under Communist management.

Ciao, comrade.

Jospinomania!

France's Socialist Party is having its party congress in Brest this weekend and the pinkos are celebrating it with a show called 'Jospinomania!'

This show is as unlikely as its name. For lo! and behold! - France has a popular Prime Minister. How rare! Sixty percent of the French says they have confidence in Lionel Jospin.

Amazingly, 40 even percent believe he governs France - as opposed to merely being its present manager. This Libe- Jospinomania recent polling is, of course, based on a sample of about 1,000 people over 18 - of whom probably not more than 10 percent have read the country's constitution entirely.

The last Prime Minister, Alain Juppé, who is mayor of Bordeaux - rarely had popularity ratings of over 30 percent after his first few months in office. Mr. Juppé was on TV last week, looking very laid back; possibly because the madness of Beaujolais Nouveau is celebrated elsewhere.

This is Libération's front page for Friday. With it, the first public use of the word 'Jospinomania' and probably not the last.

Robert Hue, general secretary of the PCF, made a blitz passage, to salute the 'brother party.' Lionel Jospin seems to have taken complete control of the Socialist Party, which is united for once - and in power.

Jospino and/or jospiniste, the party congress nevertheless finished with the 'Marseillaise.'

Jacques Chirac: 'No Comment'

In the face of a long weekend of Jospinomania! in France, the President of the Republic has decided to visit Guiana in South America; from where he could say, 'No comment' when asked silly questions about Jospinomania!

Between last weekend's visit to promote Francomania in Hanoi, Mr. Chirac has managed to squeeze in a visit to Luxembourg - taking a shot at the Socialist's proposed 35-hour week - and another to Salamanca, for a French-Spanish summit meeting. Next, he will go to the Côte d'Ivoire in Africa.

The French press displays an odd characteristic when the head of government is of one party and the Prime Minister is of another. For as long at it lasts, the press endlessly questions 'whether it is working,' as if it is an extremely extraordinary situation.

Since the two men seldom engage in fisticuffs, the press spends its time quoting spokesmen who say 'nothing is happening' 756 different ways. I can honestly report that I do not think Mr. Chirac passes his time riding in airplanes, listening to how 'Chiracomania' rolls off his tongue.

Crime Watch: Garment District Swindlers

Early Tuesday morning, 300 police agents swept into Paris' Sentier garment district and rounded up about 72 owners of businesses in the area, and also a few others in the Nice and Metz areas.

The dawn raid was the result of a Police-Judciaire investigation going back to July. The two prosecuting judges on the case are investigating something like 750 companies for organized fraud, fencing and swindle.

Of these, 300 are suspected of active fraud, with a hard core of 55; but untangling the purely fantom ones from the real will be a major task.

Investigators believe that at least 370,036,900 francs has been bilked from no less than 17 banks; many of them major institutions. Estimates of the amounts lost range up to a billion francs.

It was all done with paper. Buyers - of clothing for example - would give a bank paper to manufacturers, which guarantees payment on delivery of goods. With this paper, the manufacturer ccould get an advance from the bank. However, if no goods were manufactured and when the banks went looking for the money they've advanced, there is also no mnufacturer - then the bank has been taken.


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