Tariq Ali gives us a rundown of European Maoism, which once had a non-negligible following on the continent:
As a political current, Maoism was always weak in Britain, confined largely to students from Asia, Africa and Latin America. This was not the case in other parts of Europe. At its peak, German Maoism had more than 10,000 members, and the combined circulation of its press was 100,000. After the great disillusionment – as the Chinese-US alliance of the mid-70s was termed – many of them privatised, and thousands joined the Greens, Jürgen Trittin becoming a staunch pro-Nato member of Gerhard Schröder's cabinet. In France, the Gauche Prolétarienneorganised workers in car factories, and set up Libération, its own paper that morphed into a liberal daily. Ex-Maoist intellectuals occupy significant space in French culture, though they are now neocons: Alain Finkielkraut, Pascal Bruckner, Jean-Claude Milner are a few names that come to mind. The leading leftwing philosopher Alain Badiou never hides his Maoist past.
Scandinavia was awash with Maoism in the 70s. Sweden had Maoist groups with a combined membership and periphery of several thousand members but it was Norway where Maoism became a genuine popular force and hegemonic in the culture. The daily paper Klassekampen still exists, now as an independent daily with a very fine crop of gifted journalists (mainly women) and a growing circulation. October is a leading fiction publishing house and May was a successful record company. Per Petterson, one of the country's most popular novelists, describes in a recent book how, when Mao died, 100,000 people in a population of five million marched with torches to a surprised Chinese embassy to offer collective condolences. All this is a far cry from the cult sect now being excavated in Brixton.
The perennial UKIP candidate for Crumpsall ward here in Manchester has informed me on more than one occasion that EU commissioner Manuel Barroso is still a Maoist, a belief which I think is widespread in those circles.
Tariq Ali also missed one out, and a big one too: Holland’s Socialist Party, formerly the Communist Party of the Netherlands (Marxist-Leninist) which I believe actually adopted a base strategy before evolving into a more or less conventional party of the left, filling in the slot left by the Dutch Labour Party’s move to the right.
Anyway, it might be time to get myself a copy of Wolin's Wollen's Wind From the East about French Maoism. Should be fun seasonal reading.