Daniel Cohn-Bendit, from Green to anti-democrat

Daniel Cohn-Bendit, cartoon by daulle

Daniel Cohn-Bendit in 1968 was a council communist student, and a participant in the big French workers’ and students’ revolt.

The corporate media considered that this revolt was the work of “student leaders”. It was not; it was a mass movement with for each individual his of her individual reasons for participating, though there were common factors like rejection of oppression, exploitation and war.

The media went looking for “student leaders” in France, and in other countries like Germany. In France, they found Daniel Cohn-Bendit. In Germany, they found Rudi Dutschke.

That designation by the big media as “student leaders” did those two people no good. An anti-Dutschke hate campaign by the media of far Right German media baron Axel Caesar Springer brought Dutschke to the attention of Springer press reader Josef Erwin Bachmann. To Bachmann, Dutschke was a “dirty communist pig”. On April 11, 1968, Bachmann tried to murder Dutschke, firing his gun at him. Dutschke did not die immediately; he died in 1979, after eleven horrible years with a damaged brain.

For Cohn-Bendit, the big media “student leader” designation turned out badly in a different way. In 1984, he joined the German Green party. So did other people with a far Left past, like Joschka Fischer.

The German Green party, like similar parties in other countries, originally stood for peace, more democracy and a cleaner environment.

Joschka Fischer and Daniel Cohn-Bendit did not stay true to those aims.

In 1999, Fischer was Germany’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. NATO started bombing Yugoslavia. Fischer and Cohn-Bendit then railroaded support for that war through the Green party, though many party members objected to the war. That war was anti-peace, anti-democratic, anti-environment: against everything which the Greens supported officially.

Joschka Fischer today is a Big Oil fat cat, making millions as an adviser to the Nabucco pipeline project.

Like Joschka Fischer and Daniel Cohn-Bendit pushed the Green parties in Germany and France to the Right, happened similarly in some other Green parties.

In Ireland, the Greens stabbed pro-environmental movements in the back, joining a government coalition with the corrupt conservative Fianna Fail Party (before the elections, they had said that they would never ever join a coalition with Fianna Fail). Green Irish voters did not like that, and the party lost all its European and Irish parliament seats.

In the Netherlands, Green party leaders also steered the party to the Right. They supported the Rightist minority government in continuing Dutch participation in the Afghan war. Just before the elections of September this year, they made an austerity agreement with the collapsed Rightist minority government. The Dutch Greens, GroenLinks, lost six out of their ten parliamentary seats at the election. Just after the election, the party leader resigned in disgrace. Then, the whole party executive and other party leaders resigned in disgrace as well.

Now, back to Daniel Cohn-Bendit.

Peter Schwarz from Germany writes about him:

Daniel Cohn-Bendit’s imperialist “For Europe” manifesto

12 October 2012

Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Guy Verhofstadt have written a joint manifesto titled “For Europe”, which argues for a strong European Union and a federal Europe with a powerful central government. The manifesto is to be distributed as a book in multiple languages.

Born in 1945, Cohn-Bendit is chairman of the Green Group in the European Parliament and was one of the most prominent figures in the student revolt in France in 1968. Verhofstadt, born in 1953, was Belgian prime minister from 1999 to 2008 and now heads the liberal group in the European Parliament, which includes the German free-market Free Democratic Party (FDP).

Verhofstadt was nicknamed “Little Thatcher” in Belgium, because of his admiration for British Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

The most remarkable element of the manifesto is not its advocacy of a federal Europe with a strong executive—such notions have been commonplace within bourgeois circles since the birth of the EU project. What is striking is the manner in which Cohn-Bendit and Verhofstadt largely dispense with linking this demand to calls for peace and prosperity. Instead they argue bluntly for Europe as an imperialist superpower. In their opinion austerity and militarism are the necessary price to achieve this goal.

On the very first page, Cohn-Bendit and Verhofstadt justify their commitment to a strong European Union by declaring: “We must more emphatically defend our interests against economic and political great powers of the calibre of China, India, Brazil, Russia or the United States.”

This is the theme that reoccurs through the entire manifesto. Another passage reads: “In just 25 years no European country will be counted among the powers that determine world affairs.” A “strong and united Europe”, however, would now and tomorrow, be “the most powerful and wealthiest continent in the world, richer than America, more powerful than all of the new empires combined.”

The authors of the manifesto do not lose a word on the plight of millions of Greeks, Portuguese, Irish and Spaniards, whose livelihoods are currently being destroyed in the name of defending the euro and the EU. They consider EU austerity diktats as essential “to secure our place in the world—whatever it takes.”

“A currency cannot be maintained without solidarity and discipline”, they write, and call for dictatorial powers for the European Commission: “We need … common institutions with the power to outline economic, budgetary and tax policy for the entire euro zone. Institutions with the tools to really enforce the implementation of the rules of the game, without member states impeding them.”

Cohn-Bendit and Verhofstadt also regard military interventions as essential to secure “our position in the world.” This is not only apparent from their demand for a joint European army, but also from their praise for the new UN doctrine, the “responsibility to protect.” This has “ushered in a new era, extending the sovereignty of international law and human rights far beyond nation-states,” they write.

The concept of the “responsibility to protect” serves as a justification for the US and its allies to militarily attack sovereign nations and force regime change in their own interests. The war against Libya was justified on such grounds, and the same concept is now being used to urge a direct intervention against Syria. Cohn-Bendit and Verhofstadt have supported both. They justify such imperialist violence with the need to spread “human rights, freedom and democracy”. Their language is strongly reminiscent of the “civilizing mission” of British imperialism, used to justify the brutal subjugation of India and Africa.

In order to lend some credibility to their plea for a more powerful European Union, Cohn-Bendit and Verhofstadt raise the spectre of nationalism. They evoke the two world wars, which brought “persecution, broken families, the extinction of minorities, countries in ruins and cities bombed to the ground” and warn: “Sooner or later nationalism always leads to the same tragedy.”

They deliberately ignore the fact that it is EU policy that has strengthened centrifugal tendencies in Europe. The destruction of millions of livelihoods by the social cuts ordered by Brussels—with the full support of the social democrats, Greens and trade unions—plays into the hands of right-wing, nationalist forces. Neo-fascist groups are also able to exploit the policy of European authorities intent on setting up new barriers against immigrants and intensifying the persecution of refugees.

The subjugation of Europe to the dictates of the most powerful financial and economic interests through a strengthening of the EU and the growth of nationalism are two sides of the same coin. Often, the proponents of both positions are to be found in the same political camp, as it is the case in Germany where the spectrum inside the ruling coalition extends from vehement nationalists to resolute supporters of the EU.

The real political dividing line in Europe is not between EU supporters and nationalists but along social divisions—between the ruling elite which is amassing huge fortunes and driving the continent into disaster and war, and the working class which is being subjected to unceasing attacks on its social and democratic rights.

A relapse into dictatorship and war in Europe can only be avoided by working people closing ranks across borders, expropriating the ruling elite and establishing Europe on a socialist basis. This requires an uncompromising struggle against the EU and its institutions.

Cohn-Bendit and Verhofstadt, both fierce anti-communists, combat such a perspective. Their manifesto aligns communism with fascism and Nazism and includes it among the “enemies of freedom.”

It is no surprise that a free-market liberal such as Verhofstadt defends such views. As for Cohn-Bendit, however, he still retains a whiff of the rebel “Danny the Red” from his student days. In fact, his commitment to imperialism is nothing new. In 1999, when his long-time friend and companion Joschka Fischer—at that time German foreign minister—agitated for the participation of the German army in the war against Yugoslavia Cohn-Bendit was his most energetic defender in overcoming pacifist opposition inside the Green Party.

Cohn-Bendit embodies those layers of the middle class whose principal aim in 1968 was to expand their own potential for individual advancement and who despised the working class. Under the influence of anti-Marxist theories they regarded the working class as a backward mass, in the thrall of consumerism. When—to their big surprise—French workers intervened in May and paralyzed the country with a general strike, occupying factories and bringing the government of General de Gaulle to the brink of collapse, they reacted with shock and turned rapidly to the right.

Passing through various anarchist, Maoist and pseudo-Marxist groups they commenced a “march through the institutions”, enabling them to make a career and obtain lucrative posts. Not a small number of such former anarchists, Maoists and other “leftists” now occupy leading positions in the boardrooms of the EU, European governments and the established parties—functioning as pillars of the ruling order. Cohn-Bendit is just one of them, although certainly one of the most repulsive.

Verhofstadt and Colonel Gadaffi, good friends until NATO started Libyan war and had Gadaffi murdered: photo here.

19 thoughts on “Daniel Cohn-Bendit, from Green to anti-democrat

  1. Yes I agree with everything you say about this bast… i remember that many of May 68 gauchist leaders quickly turned into official imperialism supporters ( Alain Geismar, Denis Kessler, Serge July …), as a thing you normally expect from every “gauchist” . ( Read Lenin’s book about Gauchism, Communism childish disease ).
    All those guys, with the help of Trade Unions leaders and Socialist/Communist Parties leaders, managed to make the last revolution arousing from French masses abort . De Gaulle came back, the private property of production means stayed alive and the last chance to prevent barbarity vanished .
    I’m pleasantly surprised to read such an accurate insight from an Anglophone keyboard .
    Go on and cheers .


    • Hi phildange, thanks for your kind comment!

      My blog is in English indeed, but I am not a native Anglophone; and the Peter Schwarz article which I quoted on this post was originally in German.

      I am not sure about your “last chance to prevent barbarity” remark. A succesful revolution in France in 1968 might indeed have prevented neocolonial wars etc. But there are still movements today, from Latin America to Bahrain to the Occupy Wall Street movement etc., which might bring improvement.

      As for Lenin’s “Left-Wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder book: I would not insult Sylvia Pankhurst by tarring her with the same brush as Daniel Cohn-Bendit today. Sylvia Pankhurst was criticized in Lenin’s book; but when Mussolini invaded Ethiopia, she sided with Ethiopia (she then became uncritical of Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie, which was wrong, but that’s another story).

      By the way, it seems that your WordPress blog still has to start 🙂


  2. Allright you’re not a born Anglophone so . Pardon me, I regret it a little .
    Sure what Lenin criticizes is not like the extremes we’seen later, but I thought deviant roots lead to monstrous fruits .
    About “the last chance”, I’m not really serious, but in the 60s the general consciousness in the western world was not so widely submitted to a mighty totalitarist control of the minds . A lot of workers still remembered that the rich and powerful are just our enemies, to speak briefly . And more than only neocolonial wars, the general level of putrifying capitalism we’ve reached now could have been avoided ( in this dream ) . After Bretton Woods, the begining of the ” there are no more rules but the law of the jungle” process happened when the Nixon gov. separated the dollar from its Fed equivalent amount of gold, making the rest of the world pay for the US debt . Don’t remember the year, 73,74?, but after 68 anyway . In 73, The French gov. deliberately and artificially created the DEBT with a law preventing the state from borrowing to itself as it was done until then and forcing itself to borrow from private banks (loi Pompidou/Giscard ) . Then Reagan/Thatcher came, and our lives in the low classes started looking every year more like shit .
    The international 68 burst was our last chance to do the thing not under a dramatic pressure but from a somehow solid ground . And with less religious brainless diversions too .
    Oh boy ! I used to love a good deal of Americans by that time …


    • Hi, “in the 60s the general consciousness in the western world was not so widely submitted to a mighty totalitarist control of the minds .”

      I think things are more complex than “good” consciuosness in the 1960s, “bad” consciousness now. The 1960s was still the Cold War era. When in the 1960s United States students demonstrated against the Vietnam war, construction workers (hard hats) beat them up. When five years ago, a Republican politician held a pro-Iraq war propaganda speech to those same construction workers (no, very probably not the same workers; their successors in that profession), the workers booed that politician.




  3. Well class consciousness in the States is not the best example, for their mythology makes every one dream of an individual unlikely success . But I know France, and I can tell you French workers were far less confused by that time . Of course, confusion did exist then, as always since 1789, but now the power’s henchmen have done immense improvements in the art of making people believe that what kills you is done for your good .


    • Hi phildange, the US has a lot more people than France, maybe making it not such a bad example 🙂 Of course, size does not say everything, as Bahrain is very small; and an overthrow of the absolute monarchy in Bahrain might have big consequences for bigger Saudii Arabia, and maybe far beyond the Arab world.


  4. Overthrowing an absolute monarchy is only a start . History showed us that between this start and a true Socialist state many forces do all they can to keep wealth in the same hands, or other greedy sharks’ jaws .
    And about the US, I’ve have been told once or twice they are bigger than France, and the world’s omen is that no real revolution can succeed if the US people don’t overthrow the criminals who are in charge of money and power there . And, as I said, class stuggle consciousness suffers from a lot of diversions overthere, more than in any other country where the majority is supposed to be allowed to some schooling .


  5. Well Petrel, asking average Americans what they think of Socialism is as pointless as asking them what they think of Neo-Platonicism . The knowledge they have of both must be about the same . No; I’m wrong : they heard of Socialism, and the Fow News watchers have heard a lot about it .
    When I was young, I discovered with surprise that Americans believe everything they are told . That’s how I summed it up when I came back . It maybe come from the religious fanatics who migrated in mass in the beginning ? Personal opinion and research are quite uncommon there . Also, the weight of conformism is extraordinary, even in matters like mowing one’s lawn in suburban estates, smoking or banning cigarettes . Every one must do and think as everybody does . I know there still are human beings in this beautiful land, but I feel for them . Add the general ignorance about history, geography, politics, the list is long, and you get the actual US Zoo .
    I reckon Europe is following the same way, but as we started our regression from a higher point, it’s not as obscene here yet .
    About German Social-Democracy, Lenin, after Marx, thought the major act of the world revolution would come from it to help the young and frail Soviet Union . But well, when Noske gave orders to slaughter the spartakist movement and kill Rosa and Karl, everybody could see that Social-Democrat leaders were a problem, to say the least . The next 1923 attempt combining dizorganisation and cowardice sealed the future of Germany and the world alas . Meanwhile the ugly Stalin was killing Socialism hopes in USSR, then leading the first Chinese revolution to a dead end ( dead is the accurate word here), and shit ! the planet had missed the train . Was it the last train to escape barbarity, gangsters in directorates and governments while the match Ayatollahs against Televangelists in trance is played in every media ? I hope we’ll have another chance, that’s all I can say .


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