From New International, Vol.2 No.4, p.144.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
WE SELECT here some of the opinions expressed by the French press on the Stalin-Laval communiqué issued on the signing of the Franco-Soviet pact, in which it is underlined that “M. Stalin understands and fully approves” the French policy of national defense.
In the Communist party organ, l’Humanité (May 17), M. Vaillant-Couturier writes:
The communist party is a young, realistic, honest party, a government party which has already conquered by its methods a sixth of the globe with the USSR, a fourth of China and which, in France, has just considerably increased its prestige by its successes and those of the Popular Front. We have a well-defined conception of international class defense and we apply it in deeds ... That our comrade Stalin, solicited by Laval whom he received in the presence of members of the government, should state that he approved of the military measures taken in France – what is more natural than that? Should he have made a declaration of disapproval? That’s not serious ... What is of capital importance is that the interview produced concrete results for the defense of the policy of peace of the USSR.
The patriotic Ere Nouvelle (May 16), organ of M. Herriot, observes:
Will they cease that detestable campaign which takes place to the cries of “Down with the two years!”? Will they still pretend not to understand that the measures of security taken by France to cover the deficit of used-up classes are one of the prime conditions of the maintenance of peace? M. Stalin, secretary of the Communist party of Russia – he understands it.
La Republique (May 17) points out:
M. Stalin thus understands what M. Cachin has understood poorly, what M. Blum has not understood at all. It’s simply because M. Stalin is, perhaps, no politician, above all not a bourgeois politician, but he is an artist in socialism, a doctor in ex-revolution, a hard revolutionist, one who recalls having thrown several bombs in the streets of Tiflis at a carriage escorted by Cossacks – something M. Blum has never done and never will do.
The semi-official Temps (May 17) hails the personal victory of M. Laval who, it asserts,
... has succeeded in making prevail to the very end the conception of the government of the republic both with regard to the actual scope of the pact of mutual assistance and with regard to the character of the cooperation of France and the Soviet Union ... It [the declaration of Stalin] implies the categorical condemnation of the anti-militarist and revolutionary activities by which the attempt is made to weaken the national defense of France.
The next day (May 18) the same newspaper remarks:
Let us leave the French communists in the comical situation in which the Moscow ‘communiqué’ puts them. Let them endeavor to reconcile the irreconcilable, to harmonize patriotism and the necessity of ‘preserving all the material and cultural wealth of the country’ until the revolution, with the defeatism which they have professed until now and which they still boast of professing. It is the business of the government, without needing, moreover, to refer to M. Stalin’s words, to have the law respected, to prevent the sabotage of national defense which the communist party claims to continue.
The noted reactionary publicist Pertinax writes in the Echo de Paris (May 16):
It is M. Stalin in person who is intervening to redress the doctrine of the French communists. The point is important for two reasons. First, Moscow officially repudiates its followers in western Europe and nothing remains for the government but to bring up short the propagandists of pacifism, if it has the courage to do so.
M. Marcel Lucain writes in the same paper (May 17): “Nobody in the Bolshevik and Marxist circles expected this douche.”
The organ of the reformist trade unions, Le Peuple (May 17), writes with pious disregard of its own position in 1914 (and today!):
The truth is that Laval, faithful to the promises made by him to the French bourgeoisie, has succeeded perfectly, with the priceless support of Stalin, in putting a noose around the French Communist Party. Fully applicable here are the instructions of Bukharin who declared in 1926, in the Bulletin Communiste:
“In every country which concludes an alliance with Russia, the proletariat has the duty of concluding a truce with the bourgeoisie, and in case of war, the duty of all the revolutionists of the whole world is to support the Bolshevik-bourgeois bloc.”
What remains now is that Mussolini, Weygand, Laval and Stalin are in agreement to affirm publicly that the security of the peoples rests in the first instance on the quality of their army. It is in the name of this revolutionary policy that the French proletariat will be invited one of these days to don the uniform for the common defense of the privileges of the French bourgeoisie and of the Russian bureaucracy.
The social-patriot of 1914, M. Léon Blum writes in the socialist paper Populaire (May 18):
For our part, we do not feel ourselves shaken. I believe I am able to affirm that the socialist party will not deviate from its traditional line, that it will retain the same attitude towards the government and its so-called policy of national defense, that it will continue to carry on the same action on the international problems ... [Recalling the debate on prolonging the army service to two years:] So clear a difference of opinion, it is recalled, embarrassed and retarded the organization of a joint action against the two years. If the slogan of Stalin is carried out, communists and socialists will find themselves faced with the exactly opposite difficulty. Such is the theoretical conflict. But far from becoming an obstacle to unity, it will hasten it, on the contrary, if we succeed in persuading the mass of the workers that it can be resolved only within unity itself. Organic unity first of all. Then the reunified party will be able, freely and in a sovereign manner, to establish its doctrine.
Last updated on 31.7.2006