David Broder's report on the French presidential election was first published in Political Critique, prior to yesterday's first round.
Without doubt the French election promises a political shake-up. The governing Socialist Party is at just 8% in the presidential poll while all four leading candidates vying to replace François Hollande declare themselves the challengers to "élites," or even to be "anti-systemic." Certainly the candidates are keen to represent a clean break with the record of both the Hollande and Sarkozy presidencies, associated with continual economic crisis as well as the insecurity attached to the mounting war on terror. Yet the "battle against élites" increasingly appears as a mere marketing strategy, the supposed fight against "vested interests" able to cover all manner of sins, or indeed, vested interests.
Claudio Pavone, 2010.
Before his death on 29 November Claudio Pavone brought out the last of some two dozen books, a personal account of his 1963 visit to the Soviet Union. He came to Moscow to pursue his archival work, but also to see a socialist country at a moment of apparent reform. When a colleague asked if his desire to see Lenin’s tomb owed to some Communist affiliation, the Italian historian explained that he was not a party man but an "independent leftist." His Russian collaborator struggled to understand: how could one place oneself on the Left, but not be in the Communist Party?
Pavone was never a "Party historian" or even a member of the two-million strong Italian Communist Party (PCI), but he was nonetheless a political person whose works on Fascism and the Italian Resistance also made a decisive political impact. His own involvement in the anti-fascist struggle in his early twenties was followed by a career producing among the very most important contributions to Resistance history. This was particularly true of his 1991 study A Civil War (now available in English), which offered a penetrating analysis of the intersecting class, civil and national wars shaping the struggles of 1943–45.