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PCF and Front de Gauche: exploiting a communist nostalgia in France?

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One of the interesting things about communist nostalgia in France is the way it has grown beyond the constituency one would expect. In the early 1990s this took a theoretical form, an intellectual anxiety as to what would follow the demise of the traditional ideologies of left and right. For some commentators, the end of those ideologies would lead elites to abdicate responsibility for determining the evolution of collective values, since underlying these are moral choices that have come to be perceived as belonging to the individual alone. Consequently, the default position for political elites in particular would be the adoption of a quasi-managerial discourse, focused on objectives such as more rational organisation and efficiency gains. In France in particular, this nostalgia for clear ideological dividing lines would engender a growing fearfulness that would seep through the many crevices of political life and express itself most notably in a mistrust of globalisation. In contrast to the 'Anglo-Saxons', many in France see globalisation as a neo-liberal determinism that subjugates all possible political challenges to the status quo to irresistible and planetary economic forces. In other words, the old ideologies have given way to a new totalising vision that refuses to acknowledge itself as such but that in fact operates as an ideology of material compulsion. More recent evocations of a past with a fixed ideological topography have illustrated the way left-wing and right-wing nostalgia in France can mirror each other.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2016

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  • Twentieth Century Communism provides an international forum for the latest research on the subject and an entry-point into key developments and debates not immediately accessible to English-language historians. Its main focus is on the period of the Russian revolution (1917-91) and on the activities of communist parties themselves but its remit also extends to the movement's antecedents and rivals, the responses to communism of political competitors and state systems, and to the cultural as well as political influence of communism.
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