Jean Longuet 1897
Source: Justice, 12 June 1897, Jean Longuet, p.5;
CopyLeft: this text is free of copyright restrictions;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
DEAR COMRADE, – May I, both as a Socialist and as a French Socialist, be allowed to protest in the most energetic fashion against the complete misrepresentation of the French Socialist movement, now appearing in the Labour Leader under the title of “Socialism in France,” by L. de Seilhae I M. de Seilhac is not, and does not pretend to be, a Socialist. I know him personally as a very polite and kind gentleman, who is none the less quite an enemy of Socialism. He himself said, in the first of May number of the Labour Leader, that he was “against all impracticable, utopian, and barbaric collectivism.” As a matter of fact, he is, rather, what you Englishmen would call an “old unionist.”
Now, is it not an extraordinary thing that an English Socialist paper should publish articles on the French Socialist movement from a man who writes from a purely hostile point of view? And how can a Socialist paper publish statements that are really insulting against a militant Socialist like Guesde, who has been fighting, and has suffered for the cause since nearly thirty years
M.D. Seilhac has a strong hostility to the French Workers’ Party, to which I have the honour to belong. On the contrary, he shows sympathy with the small Allemanist section of the French Socialist party. In both these points he is at one with the French bourgeois Press.
That alone should be sufficient to show sincere Socialists where the really strong movement in France is. Of M. de Seilhac’s inaccurate statements I will quote only two or three.
About the French Workers’ Party, which he calls, not quite fairly, the “Guesdists “ (how would the Labour Leader editor like the I.L.P. to be called the Mannists?) he says that really they only have one branch in. Paris, in the nineteenth arrondissemeut, and that all the others are pure inventions. Now, as a matter of fact, the two branches to which I belong, the Collectivist students of the Paris University and the Collectivist Group of the fifth arrondissement, have, the first one, more than sixty members (including eighteen students of the Ecole Normale Superieure, the highest college in France), the second thirty. In the fourteenth arrondissement the branch of the French Workers’ Party has more than ninety members. In the seventeenth arrondissement the branch has its own house, a “Maison du People,” built with its members’ pence, with a publishing office and a large hall for meetings, and in the eighteenth arrondissement our candidate, the old fighter of the Commune, Dereure, polled 1,800 votes at the last municipal election.
As to the number of members of Parliament we have, M. de Seilhac says they are four. Now, as a matter of fact, at the General Election of 1893, eleven deputies were elected who had subscribed to our programme; nine of these attended our congresses of Paris, Nantes, Romilly, and Lille (Guesde, Jaurès, Chauvin, Carnaud, Sauvanet, Jourde, A. Boyer, Pierre Vaux, and Charpentier), and among the Independent Socialists Devine, Gérault-Riohard (who are both Marxists in theory), and Coutant in Paris, Bourret, Defontaine, Bonnard, Chiché, Couturier in the provinces, would not have been returned but for the help of the French Workers Party.
May I add that it is our party which has captured all those large municipalities of France now to the hands of the working class, with the exception of Dijon (which used to belong to the Allemanist fraction), Toulon, and Limoges, who are independent Socialists (of the palest Socialist hue).
The administration of the large towns of Lille, Roubaix, Narbonne, Calais, La Ciotat, Montlucon, Ivry, and Roanne is now in the hands of members of the French Workers’ Party. The municipality of the large city of Marseilles, if it does not quite belong to the party, sent to our last National Congress at Lille a telegram saying that they accepted and subscribed to all the motions voted at the Congress.
In 1889 we had 52,772 votes at the Parliamentary election; in 1892, 157,000 at the municipal election; in 1893, the last Parliamentary return, 250,000; in the municipal elections of 1896 more than 400,000 votes.
These are some of the facts; you can compare them with M. de Seilhac’s fancies.
But, comrade, I would respectfully ask you if it is possible for us on the Continent to have any confidence in, or even any respect for, the Labour Leader, when that organ again and again publishes articles on the Socialist movement abroad by anti-socialists? – Yours faithfully,
Jean Longuet, B.A.
Member of the French Workers’ Party.