Charles Rappoport


Poincaré and the Soviets

(3 March 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 17, 3 March 1922, p. 121.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2018). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

It is the unfailing custom among bourgeois politicians to renounce their program when they assume power. A radical minister does not mean a minister who is really radical. A socialist cabinet minister is not a cabinet minister who practises socialism. Even the moderates renounce their moderation. Having come into power with the cooperation of the moderates, they attempt to maintain their position by wheedling the opposition. It is to be hoped therefore, that Poincaré in power, will also renounce his foolish policy of opposition.

He is nothing. Poincaré is a fool and a deceiver. Or, to to more exact, he incarnates the capitalist policy of foolishness and knavery. His incurable hatred of Germany caused him, for a brief moment, to be just and sensible toward Soviet Russia. By accident he wrote a few reasonable sentences on the Russian revolution. And this was so unexpected, that one could believe that an awakening of good sense, which is justly considered the dominant trait of the French people, had been visited upon him. Recently the official organ of the French Foreign Office, the Temps, published an article which created a sensation. After four years of deliberation and observation, the Temps has discovered for the first time that the Soviets exist and that they represent Russia. This is an unprecedented concession on the part of the Temps. It even had the audacity to declare that sooner or later it will be necessary to give to new Russia the official authorization to live, of course upon payment of a large indemnity.

But one does not know Poincaré if one believes that he is capable of persisting in any good plan. The old President of the Republic, whom the people have baptized “Poincaré-la-Guerre”, is not a soul absolutely barred to every new idea . He is a man who reflects and hesitates. Sometimes he opens a little the window overlooking the outside world, only to close it quickly in horror; he is so frightened by new ideas, although not of their own accord, for [he] finds them quite reasonable and sometimes attractive. But, with perfect and prudent reason he perceives hat these ideas are deadly to his career. M. Poincaré knows that in order to come into power supported by the small French property holder, it is not necessary to have many ideas, but fixed ideas, invariable like the 3% of the perpetual government rente. And it is necessary to pursue them patiently and systematically.

Before the war, Poincaré’s idée fixé was the return of Alsace-Lorraine to France. As long as small business feared he war, Poincaré, himself in the background, waited and was patient. But when the soil was well prepared by the Franco-Russian alliance, by the Entente Cordiale, by the cockade nationalism of the ex-Socialist Millerand, he had the audacity to force Russia secretly into a policy of war, in order to have a powerful and and to be able to say, “You see, I did not want that; we are attacked.”

M. Poincaré is a deceiver; and here is one of the many proofs. While preparing for his presidential election – as President of the Republic he could without any danger prepare for a war of revenge in secret – he invited to his home one day, a German professor, M. Ludwig Stein, who as director of a large international review, had access to the court of Wilhelm and above all was a frequent guest at the Chancellor’s. He addressed him in a vein which could not be more pacifistic. He tried to convince him that his presidency signified lasting peace and perfect harmony with Germany.

He did more. During the Balkan war of 1913, he coIlaborated with Germany to preserve peace; the best proof, parenthetically, that the capitalist states can preserve peace if they wish it, that is, if it is in their interest to wish it. But having attained the supreme honor, of which he had dreamt since his entrance into political life, the Presidency of the Republic, M. Poincaré immediately changed his tactics. He appointed Delcassé ambassador to Petrograd and allied himself with the bandit Isvolsky. That was war.

Therefore I advise our Russian friends to have no confidence in Poincaré. Even if he seemingly makes concessions to them, he is partly in league with reaction and with the Bloc National. And he will live and die with them. It is useless to talk reason and good sense. He sees them sometimes, but he realizes that they are not the means of getting anywhere, and he turns his back on them. Meliora video, deteriora sequor. He sees the good but pursues evil, slave as he is of his petty bourgeois career, the nationalistic folly!

Poincaré’s idée fixé after the war, is another foolishness: “Germany shall pay!” M. Poincaré knows how to count. He knows that there is nothing to take from a box which is absolutely empty But he also knows very well that if France’s fortune cannot be made with “Germany shall pay!” – he can very easily make his own fortune. And he holds that uppermost.

M. Poincaré is a well-known businessmen’s lawyer. He has a dossier instead of a heart. And he argues that victorious France has “a right” over vanquished Germany. Being a headstrong lawyer, he will ruin France to win his case. He has nothing to fear: his retainers are paid in advance.

But outside of Poincaré, there is France. The French commercial world is beginning to get anxious about the business stagnation, which shows no sign of revival. And, as everywhere else, the capitalist will have the last word.

The working class, too, before long will have enough of paying with their last sous, taken from wages which are decreased each day. for the election expenses of the Bloc National, which is even more stupid and deceitful than Poincaré himself.

Thus the Soviets have powerful auxiliaries in France. The politicians are irreconcilable. No diplomatic trick will reconcile French reaction with the Russian revolution. That will kill everything. Soviet Russia has only to make an appeal, unceasingly, to the real interests of France, and she will certainly strengthen her cause. Forced by public opinion, Poincaré will finally comprehend that the interest of his political career demands a change of attitude. And if he hesitates before the immediate interests of France, he will not hesitate when his own interests are in question. “To see and to say all that is”, that is the only diplomatic principle of the Revolution.

Last updated on 4 September 2019