Main NI Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive


New International, August 1934

 

Six Months of the Doumergue Regime

From New International, Vol.1 No.2, August 1934, pp.56-57.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

 

THE Doumergue government continues, even though it is strongly shaken. The Union Nationale must continue, declares the official press, in order to finish saving the country from the danger which the Cartelist stewardship holds over its head.

What was the task alloted to the National government? At the end of 1933, the economic crisis sharpened, the position of all strata of the population became worse, the budget was not balanced, unemployment was on the increase, taxation was insufferable, the relations with other countries were disturbed, scandals were bursting everywhere. Wrath rumbled. The reaction was able to exploit it in order to eliminate the parliament by a stroke of force on February 6. The Doumergue government was installed for the purpose of putting things into order again and of mollifying the population.

What measures has it employed?

Let us leave aside the commissions against the high cost of living in which the two “friends”, Tardieu and Herriot, had a pretext for whiling away the time. One word marks the program of the government: deflation. It has been systematically pursued at the expense of the toiling masses: the decree-laws of April 6 reducing the number of functionaries by ten percent (without touching the army, the navy and the aviation corps), reductions in salaries, pruning the retirement pensions; reduction of the pensions of war veterans; the reorganization on April 13 of the railroads with a reduction in wages and in retirement pensions included, as well as the disbanding of personnel after the closing down of lines and stations; in the field of education, the dismissal of 5,000 teachers, the shutting down of schools. The state as an employer has blazed the trail for all the employers of the country.

As another measure, the fiscal reform which, under the pretext of simplifying and alleviating the taxation system, consists essentially in substantial tax reductions for the rich; but for the poor the recasting of taxation is barely a drop of syrup to dissipate the bitterness of the reductions in retirement pensions or wages.

In order to combat unemployment, a glittering plan for large works is being talked of; the possibility of employing a few tens of millions of arms is being cleverly exploited by the big press which conceals, on the one hand, the difficulties (how is the money to be found) and on the other hand, the real beneficiaries (the large railway lines in particular).

For agriculture, the Doumergue government has done nothing save confirm the unapplied law on the minimum market price for grain, unapplied even by the state since the public treasury, when it proceeds to sell grain, operates with it at market prices lower than the taxed price; further than this the government has only taken a few measures of detail. All told, they have not succeeded, nor could they, in altering the situation in the countryside to any degree.

In order to supplement, in order to impose the economic measures, it is necessary to mention among the governmental steps the bureaucratic and police measures: the reform of the Sûreté, which has become a national Sûreté [detective force], and also the Mallarmé decree against the right of functionaries to organize into unions.

What are the results of six months of the Doumergue government? In the field of foreign policy, French imperialism has incontestably made headway. But let us see what it has obtained in the economic and social field which, in the last analysis, will have no less effect in determining the political orientation of the various strata of the population.

“We are reascending the slope,” declared the doddering old idiot of Tournefeuille in one of his broadcast speeches over the radio. The figures are at hand rudely to attest the opposite.

The indices of industrial activity show a constant decline:

Middle of 1933

  

107

February 1934

105

March 1934

104

April 1934

107

May 1934

101

The automobile, mechanical, metallurgical, textile and other industries are in clear decline as compared with last year. The “Paris Week” was a mess, and did not give to tourism or to the industry of articles of Paris the vitality which they have lost.

The trade balance is positively wretched. Is the deficit declining? To be sure, but under what conditions? Less is imported and less is exported. When it reaches zero, the trade balance will no longer show a deficit! The reality of the matter is that commercial activity has fallen off more than thirty percent, as the following figures show:

 

1933

1934

Imports

12,699,000

7,537,000

Exports

10,651,000

7,348,000

Unemployment increases steadily; the official figures which everybody consults only in order to have an estimation of the trend of unemployment and not its real extensiveness, indicates nearly 25 percent more out of work than in 1933. Part-time unemployment has also increased, according to the abstract of the Inspection of Labor.

The cost of living doesn’t diminish at all. It is established for Paris as follows:

1933 first quarter

  

523

1933 second quarter

516

1933 third quarter

516

1933 fourth quarter

526

1934 first quarter

526

Trade is not spared, the number of insolvencies being nearly 40 percent larger than in 1933.

Tax receipts the government no longer dares to indicate; the last cut of the national lottery was a failure.

Finally, one of the best indices of the position of the middle peasantry is supplied us by the movement of the savings accounts : during the first semester of 1934 there was an excess of withdrawals of funds greater than half a billion francs.

* * * *

“We are reascending the slope.” Senile smiles cannot conceal the reality from anybody. The Doumergue government is worn out. The bourgeois groupings no longer give it a particle of hope. Even the timid Radicals declare that they have had enough. And on the Right is emerging clearly a combat formation, with Andre Tardieu and Paul Reynaud. In place of deflation, it orients itself towards inflation, a more convenient method for lowering wages and for substantially expropriating the middle classes. And, of course, a strengthening of the state, military and police apparatus.

* * * *

The initiative in the fall of Doumergue, we shall tirelessly repeat, must be taken by the working class. We have said, and we shall say it over again: The general strike must be prepared for the overthrow of Doumergue. This is the objective that must be fixed for the united front.

But, we are asked, what do you want to replace the Doumergue government with? We are not yet in a position to replace it with the Soviet power, the working class is not at that point, including many of those influenced by l’Humanité which cries for “Soviets everywhere!” but contents itself meanwhile with asking Doumergue, just as does the socialist leadership, for new elections. Then what is Doumergue to be replaced with? To this question, the program of the Communist League of France replies:

“A one-chamber assembly must concentrate in its hands the executive power and the political power. Its members should be elected for two years, by universal suffrage starting with the age of 18, without distinction of sex or of nationality. The deputies should be elected on the basis of local assemblies, constantly revocable by their constituents, and for the period of their exercize of the mandate, they should receive the wages of a skilled worker.

“This is the only measure that would draw the masses forward instead of repelling them to the rear. A broader democracy would facilitate the struggle for the workers’ power.”

Since the broad masses still stand on the ground of democracy and not of the dictatorship of the proletariat, we do not run away from it. But we tell them that in order to regain the ground lost on February 6, it is not possible to stand by the democracy of the Third Republic; inspiration should be drawn from that of the Great French Republic.

The idea of a Constituent, of a Convention, is in the air. Members of the Radical party disseminate it, other representatives of the petty bourgeois tendency also. The content which they give it is more often than not vague, ambiguous, dangerous. The working class should not follow the petty bourgeoisie. But its vanguard must understand the situation and exploit all its possibilities to the limit. By overthrowing the pre-Bonapartist government, by replacing it with a single-chambered assembly whose role is not to chatter while a government governs, but to legislate and to govern, we would be installing a far broader regime of democracy in which the working class and the toiling masses would undergo their experiences much more rapidly and would prepare themselves much more easily for the workers’ power.

No worker can have confidence in the Doumergue ministry assuring loyal elections after having dissolved the Chamber, no worker can have any illusions about a new Chamber, even if it is strongly inclined to the Left, after the capitulation of February 6. The workers, the toiling population, can have confidence only in themselves. That is why the general strike which we are urging for the purpose of sweeping away the government of the reactionary mutiny, must have as its aim to substitute for the “strong” power of the police and the army, a truly democratic power, genuinely emanating from the broad masses of the population.

PARIS, August 3, 1934

 
Top of page


Main NI Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Last updated on 25.6.2006