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Friday, April 30, 2021

A footnote on European Maoism

 


“The PPS, established a September 9, 1967 in Vevey, broke off from the Swiss Communist Party (marxist-leninist). According to article 3 of the statutes, the PPS was open to orientations of the left: “socialist, progressive, Maoist, ... etc.” In spite of this unusual political openness, the Spark, the party’s organ, insisted on the Maoist orientation of the party...

Many members of the OAS, as well as former officers of the SS, adhered to the PPS in Vevey...”

- Journal du Valais, Nov. 16, 1978

One of the more peculiar stories of the 60s and 70s in Europe is the unlikely collaboration between the so-called Maoists and the European far-right.  The Sino-Soviet split did not perturb the alliance, tacit or otherwise, between the Communist parties of the Western European states and the Soviet Union. But the official Communist parties did not absorb all the left-leaning demographic. For some of the Ultras, Mao was a much more attractive figure than Brezhnev or Kosygin. Surely communism couldn’t end up as a bunch of meaty faced men in bad suits waving at the tanks and soldiers marching through the Red Square like your standard issue superannuated world war II vets! For the breakaway Maoists, the Soviets and the official communist parties were obviously the real enemy of the revolution.

This was the thinking of some on the left. On the far-right, Mao’s revolution also held a peculiar fascination, due to the fact that it seemed to have been the product of the shock tactics of the urban guerilla. The far-right, since the days of the Cagoule in France and the Putschist in Spain had made a cult of shock tactics. Mao seemed, to this group, a very inspiring model. Plus, the war on the intellectuals that Mao was preaching in the sixites was music to their ears. This was the right spirit! There had long been a China cult among some of the far righties – Ezra Pound was not alone in finding Chinese philosophers a stimulant. Julius Evola, that weirdest of far right gurus, was not only a great fan of tantric yoga but, as well, of certain Chinese classics. Saddle the Tiger, his sixties book that preached to those “men who were a different race from the people of today”, was illustrated – in the french paperback edition – with a Chinese print.

Temperament, at a certain high temperature, beats ideology hands down: ideology just becomes an expression of a certain combination of psychopathological elements. And so it is that there always a certain exchange of positions among ultras that seems, on the level of reason, inexplicable. The person who advocates blowing up buildings to show the Man today has a good chance of becoming the person who advocates blowing up buildings to show the Feminazis tomorrow.

The Maoist ultra-rightists are a footnote in histories of the Cold War: but they are a bloody enough one. They did not make much difference in Europe, although the splinter Swiss Maoist party, the PPS, did help the neo-fascists blow up a public plaza or two in Italy; but they made a big difference in Africa during the time of anti-colonial struggle. The PPS became a front used by the PIDE, the Portuguese secret police formed under the Salazar regime and active not only arresting dissidents in Portugal and giving them a good torture, but also in the Portuguese colonies of Guinea, Angola and Mozambique.

 The Salazarist regime was overthrown in 1974 in what is called the Carnation revolution, a course of events that much disturbed Henry Kissinger. The specter of Eurocommunism has long been relegated to the Exorcist’s book of practical jokes, but back in the day it definitely vibrated in the collective serotonin of  D.C. foreign policy circles. The soldiers who overthrew the regime raided the deserted office of something called Aginter-Press on 13 de  la Rua Prasis, Lisbon, which turned out to be the nexus and vulture’s nest of a paranoid’s nightmare: an organization of CIA cutouts, Gehlen pinheads, Nazi and neo-Nazi zombies, and OAS militants – the latter having earned their spurs as torturers in the Algerian war and as handlers of plastique in the subsequent war against their arch-traitor and villain, De Gaulle – which brought together assassins, false paper mooks, intelligence agencies and the fascist paramilitaries in a loose network  of spy versus commie. Among the papers found in the Aginter archives were documents inventorying the money trail to the PPS – which eventually resulted in the Portuguese government  inquiring about the PPS officially.

I should reveal a parti pris: I despise the Maoists who briefly strutted their stuff in the late sixties and seventies, especially in France. After a suitable period of being street fightin’ leaders, they all discovered Solzhenitsyn and became New Philosophers, from which it was a hop, skip and a million television appearances to becoming neo-cons and cabinet minister whisperers. Some of them and their students are now busy cretinizing the airwaves in France, beating the Islamo-guachiste horse – Macron’s way of out Le Pen-ning Le Pen. What a ride – straight down the toilet bowl. And out of all that group, not once even an interesting book! At least the old thirties fascists had brilliant writers like Leon Daudet and Celine. But I digress...

The PPS was founded by one of those gargoyles that only the sixties could toss up: one  Gerard Bulliard. Bulliard was a product of the Vevey boxing scene, which was apparently competitive enough to send a contingent to Moscow in 1959. Bulliard liked what he saw, and immediately converted to communism. But his experiences back in Switzerland with the communist party could not appease his thirst for a more thrilling Marxist-Leninism – this was a man who wanted a revolutionary KO now. After a trip to Albania, Bulliard, who was fond of founding international revolutionary fronts, which allowed him, after a while, the further delight of expelling heretics from these same international revolutionary fronts, founded the PPS and became not only welcome at the Chinese embassy in Berne, but also welcome to covert meetings with various secret policemen of all types – the Gehlen type, the Portuguese type, the Italian type. The PPS became a front for crooked stuff. It’s newspaper, l’Etincelle – named after Lenin’s paper, the Spark – specialized in denouncing the Soviets, the students, and the Jews. Especially the Jews. Perhaps this shows the influence of one of L’Etincelle’s “journalists”, Robert Leroy. Leroy trailed a colorful past behind him: a member of the Charlemagne SS brigade in the war, a group of French volunteers who fought with the Nazis on the Eastern front; an associate of the plastiqueurs of the OAS; and an agent of the PIDE. L’Etincelle had a couple thousand readers, but that didn’t prevent it from making Leroy the paper’s “correspondent” in Africa, where he interviewed African revolutionaries (who believed they were being interviewed by a Maoist paper) and sharing information with the PIDE. Many of his interviewees were either assassinated or escaped assassination after he interviewed them. Coincidence!

After the Salazar regime was overturned, Bulliard, apparently, turned to other pursuits: fortunetelling, for instance. A good summary of his life was written by Jean-Philippe Chenaux for Commentaire.

"Me, Gérard Bulliard, said Bulliard, I am announcing my death on April 22, 2009, at the age of 82 ...". This unusual ad that appeared on the 24-hour mortuary page (April 28) left more than one reader stunned. Does not the deceased go so far as to publicly confess two "cute sins", "a good trend for" petticoat "and" good food "? The most disturbing thing is when this lover of ladies' thighs insists heavily on his "loyalty in friendships", "loyal friendships" which allowed him to "keep morale up to the end". These must be “post-sixty-ninth” friendships, because Gérard Bulliard made himself known from 1964 to 1969 by his repeated political infidelities and as a great excommunicator of “comrades” at the head of the smallest party. Communist of Western Europe.”

Bulliard is a footnote. At least in Switzerland. FRELIMO in Mozambique might have other ideas.

 

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