In Memoriam: Pierre Overney

On February 26th, 1972 a 24 year old Maoist worker was killed outside the Renault Billancourt factory by a factory security guard. His name was Pierre Overney and he died for the people’s cause: the building of a revolutionary movement in France. Comrade Pierre was a member of the Gauche Prolétarienne, a French Maoist organisation that arose from the the Organisation of Communist Youth (Marxist-Leninist). During a wave of racist violence, Overney had been handing out anti-fascist pamphlets when he was shot. 300,000 people attended his funeral. It was the last mass gathering of the French Maoist movement. Comrade Pierre’s death was weightier than Mount Tai, and comrades in France are working tirelessly to rebuild the Maoist movement in France to fight for the goals and aspirations of Comrade Pierre. Comrade Pierre was the first martyr of the “nouveaux partisans” and he will never be forgotten. Thus, it was with solemnity that we gathered near the Père Lachaise Cemetery yesterday, and marched to his grave and commemorated the 40th anniversary of his death by placing red flowers on his grave. Comrades from the FRAP, supporters of La Cause de Peuple and Comrade Pierre’s comrades from the Gauche Prolétarienne spoke about his life, the need to build a Maoist party in France and fight against capitalism to build a better world. Dominique Grange, a well-known French protest singer and member of the Gauche Prolétarienne, sang the anthem of the Gauche Prolétarienne and the Internationale. In the evening we regathered for an afternoon of speeches and a concert by Dominique Grange which was amazing.

To end this blog entry I will briefly discuss the history of the PCmF and their relationship to the Gauche Prolétarienne. The Gauche Prolétarienne became defunct in 1973 as its leadership, despite all of its bluster and rhetoric, was unable to lead the movement and provide it a meaningful strategy for growth in the context of ever-sharpening contradictions in France and a downturn in the movement itself. Furthermore, the Gauche Prolétarienne was plagued with a petit-bourgeois and bourgeois leadership that became either a) increasingly hostile to the Maoist movement because of its support for the Palestinian people (for example people like Benny Levy etc. who were to undergo a process called “from Mao to Moses” and became ardent supporters of Israel); and b) cowardice, especially in light of their own increasing rhetoric for armed struggle. Today, Gauche Prolétarienne leaders and members can be found at all levels of the French bureaucracy and elite. This does not mean to suggest that all of the members of the Gauche Prolétarienne were like this, indeed Pierre Overney was not, and many came from the working classes and simply returned to the communities to which they belonged with a memory of a hope that things could have been different and better. A small section of the Gauche Prolétarienne went on to either form “Organisation for the Refoundation of the Communist Party of France” (l’ORPCF) with members of the Communist Party of France (Marxist-Leninist) and subsequently joined the the PCOF and the pro-Albanian movement (I will discuss this trend shortly). Another small section abandoned Maoism altogether and joined the Noyaux Armés Pour l’Autonomie Populaire (NAPAP) [although one of the first actions of the NAPAP was to actually execute Jean-Antoine Tramoni, the factory guard who killed Comrade Pierre, on March 25th 1977]. The NAPAP subsequently merged with Groupes d’Action Révolutionnaire Internationalistes (GARI) to form Action Directe.

Regarding the first trend that I mentioned, they joined the PCOF, a pro-Albanian party, and accepted the criticisms of Mao with reluctance. They did so because, as the comrades of the PCmF explain, they had been “anaesthetised” by the influence of Communist Party of Spain (ML), which was the patron of the French pro-Albanian party; the prestige of the Party of Labor of Albania in light of the degeneration of China under Deng Xiaoping into modern revisionism; the struggle for Albanian national liberation in the face of Italian fascism; the fact that the Albanians were the last socialist country after China had become revisionist; the impact that a split would have on the mass organisations that was being built and the developmental tasks of the PCOF which was being attacked by other pro-Albanian groups.  They subsequently split from the PCOF and formed the “Association of Friends of the Ongoing People’s War in Peru” because of the people’s war in Peru. It was the Peruvian people’s war that made the Maoist comrades inside the PCOF realise that the line of demarcation between communism and revisionism was Maoism. They re-founded the ORPCF in 1995 and subsequently formed the Maoist Communist Party of France in 2002.

It is true that the events that commemorated this 40th death anniversary of Pierre Overney this past Saturday demonstrate that the Maoist movement in France remains incredibly small, but the memory of Pierre Overney and his sacrifice continues to animate the French comrades to rebuild the Maoist movement, to launch and win the people’s war, and to build the necessary forms and structures necessary for the formation of a revolutionary communist government.

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6 thoughts on “In Memoriam: Pierre Overney

  1. Comrades,
    We read your article with great interest and applaud your efforts to rebuild the Maoist Party of France. We wish to share our commemoration of Com. Pierre Overney and hope that his spirit of revolutionary defiance will illuminate the way forward.

    All strength.
    Pl communicate and we can share documents.

    With Internationalist solidarity,

    Com. Surendra: Sec: Ceylon Communist Party ( Maoist5)

  2. Good article, thanks for the support. Yes, our movement is small after four decades of revisionism, but we’re growing, and we’re back in people’s struggles.
    Some french maoists are members pf the PCmF; others are fighting under the name of OCML-VP or other groups; but most of us aren’t in a maoist groups. I’m sure that we’ll do great things during next years.
    Red greetings from France

    D. for Prairie Fire collective

    1. Dear comrade,
      I was wondering why the Prairie Fire Collective has not organised itself into the PCmF or the OCML-VP (which from what I understand is not a Maoist org. but rather, a Marxist-Leninist org)? Also, are you based in Paris? If so, we should meet up sometime and talk.

      1. Hello comrades,
        Our few members aren’t organised in the PCmF nor in the OCML-VP (which is a maoist group even if the name is just “marxist-leninist”) because some of us are still organised in different political groups and others think that it’s not the good time to create the party. But we support their initiatives. We think that they’re real comrades, doing a great work to build back the maoist movement in France. We’re not based in Paris but if it’s possible to meet up we’ll let you know.
        Keep up the good work and red greetings!

      2. Thanks so much for the compliments and the note. I completely understand your decision to join, although I probably have disagreements with such a line. I wrote that the OCML-VP is not a Maoist organisation on the basis of having spoken to a few of their members and they said that they did not agree with “Maoism”. But I agree that they both do good work, and they have produced some interesting theoretical work.

  3. You’re welcome. Some comrades from VP told me they were clearly maoists, so I think it depends, maybe it’s not a clear question into the organization. Their website has a section explaining “why maoism?” happily. What is your theoretical point of view about the problem of building organization at present?

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