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International Socialism, Autumn 1963


[The Editors]

Letter to Readers


From International Socialism, No.14, Autumn 1963, pp.23-24.
Thanks to Ted Crawford & the late Will Fancy.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


An interesting Memorandum on the deportation of ‘the Algerian Revolutionary Militants’ has come to us from La Voie Communiste. We give it here in full:

On 21st June, four revolutionary militants were arrested at Algiers. The next day, the international press made these disappearances public, while the Algerian Government remained silent.

On 22nd June, a PRS (Revolutionary Socialist Party) Communique laid the responsibility for the disappearances on the Authorities. Until 25th June, Algiers professed ignorance. The Minister of Justice, Amar Bentoumi told Reuters: ‘I know nothing of the arrests, for if there had been an arrest, a dossier would be made up and submitted to the Public Prosecutor.’ Unofficially it was made known in Government circles that the arrests had been made by a special section of the People’s National Army, on their own initiative, and unknown to the Government.

On 25th June, questioned in the Assembly by Ait Ahmed, Ben Bella announced: ‘There is a plot against the State’ ... On 10th July, a decree was issued confining the four prisoners to their homes under supervision. At least, such a decree was announced publicly, but it has never appeared in the Official Journal of the Algerian Republic.

On 13th July a further disappearance, very similar to the others, was made known. ‘Self-interested plots are being disclosed,’ said Ben Bella, ‘they are the work of adventurers.’

These ‘adventurers’ are men who played leading roles in the FLN during the war. They are – Alouache, Ben Younes, Moussa Kebaili, Saout El Arab, Mohamed Boudiaf. These men, who had devoted themselves completely to the struggle for Algerian independence, had before the ceasefire already recognized the need to pursue the Revolution, beyond national objectives, to satisfy the socialist aspirations of the disinherited masses, and had already begun to work in this direction. The spectacle of the rush for power in the new, independent Algerian State, and of the unleashing of ambitions and appetites, could not leave them indifferent, and they remained true to themselves by refusing to integrate themselves with a regime which seemed to them to make a mockery of the aim of their struggle.

The Algerian Government is accusing Allouache, Ben Younes, Boudiaf and Kebaili of plotting against the security of the State, of collusion with French colonialism, and of having made an agreement with Bourguiba. But as for proof, the Ben Bella Government has brought nothing forward. Indeed, the decision which has been taken – administrative deportation – suggests that there will be no trial, and hence no examination, no trial hearing of both parties. The character of Boudiaf, and of the militants arrested at the same time as him, makes the accusation against them unbelievable. The case of Boudiaf is particularly clear. All his declarations since July 1962 are quite opposed to the positions attributed to him by Ahmed Ben Bella and his ministers.

He is accused of desiring armed insurrection, of making an unprincipled alliance of malcontents, of personal ambitions, of colonialist sympathies, of rejecting Socialism and fearing the decisions of people.

But –

‘I have urged my friends to avoid at all costs an open struggle with the authorities.’ (Interview with Le Monde – 25 June 1963)

‘One can easily imagine a crisis, repeating, in the opposite direction, that which opposed the Tlemcen group to the former Provisional Government; we would see formed, around a team rivalling the present team, a coalition which would at first include a section of the present opposition, then a number of people desiring a coup d’état, and finally, a large number of turncoats. But that would lead only to increased disorder and confusion.’ (Le Monde – 29 June 1963)

‘It must be stressed that the Evian agreements have already constituted in certain vital sectors brakes, or if you prefer, limitations, in true independence.’ (Le Monde – 7 September 1962)

‘To speak of socialism means to organise one’s people, to strengthen its cohesion, to introduce it into participation in management of its own affairs, in short, to make it the essential impulse of this march towards progress. To speak of socialism demands opposing every danger of dictatorship, all militarism, all subversion, all factional activity liable to lead to confusion, to sow seeds of doubt, or to demobilize the masses and open the way to a dictatorial, or at least an undemocratic and petty-bourgeois regime.’ (Le Monde – 7 September 1962)

‘The most valuable programme will be that which has the agreement of all the classes of our people, and above all, of those who have most to fear from domination and exploitation. For what has been the real substance of our struggle? Is it not the fellahs, these wretched agricultural workers, and the illiterate and unemployed youth of the countryside, and of the towns of tin-huts, whose contribution to the Army of National Liberation and the People’s National Army, or just their work among the masses, has been the most important and the most total.’ (Le Monde – 20 July 1963 [?])

It has been claimed that Boudiaf expressed opposition to the creation of management committees for vacated property. That is a tendentious interpretation of his declarations, which implied a criticism of Government policy for being insufficiently socialist. This judgement is questionable, but it is impossible to identify him with the belated defenders of colonialism.

Why these arrests? Hypotheses can be made on the basis of the present situation in Algeria. Since spring, the Ben Bella Government has taken a series of measures against the property of French settlers, and certain large Arab landlords. It has thus lost the support of a large number of those for whom the independence of Algeria meant only the continuation, in a scarcely modified form, of the old exploitation. The creation of management committees was well received by the part of the population that directly benefited. For other sections, it awakened hopes which were not satisfied; whole sections of the population and whole regions are in a state of discontent. During the last weeks, the Army has opened fire, notably at Bougie, on demonstrations of unemployed. A large number of rank-and-file militants have been arrested in the regions of Constantine and Oran. Incidents are arising frequently, throughout the country : they are even mentioned in the Government Press (cf. for example the letter published by African Revolution on 20th July about arrests made on July 5th at Oran station). Despite appearances, there is profound instability throughout the country, increased by French pressure, which is scarcely disguised by the appeasing words of the Minister, M. de Broglie. The Government, unable to create a mass democracy, has no course but to manoeuvre perpetually between the existing forces, whether they be the National People’s Army, the French bourgeois state, or the disinherited masses.

The attitude of Ben Bella towards Ferfat Abbas is an excellent illustration of this policy. To maintain unity with Abbas, who openly represents a rightist tendency, reluctant to take measures of socialisation, Ben Bella has made concessions on the essential, and has even agreed to take sanctions against organisations and papers which displease Abbas. It is a striking paradox that Mohamed Boudiaf, one of the founders of the Revolutionary Committee for Unity and Action should be in prison, while Ferhat Abbas, who knew nothing of the revolution but the quiet corridors of diplomacy, should receive protestations of friendship from Ben Bella.

Nor can it be forgotten that, from the very first days, Boudiaf has been reproached for criticising ‘The People’s National Army, and its leader, Colonel Boumedienne’. Boudiaf has in fact repeatedly declared:

‘At present, the army is the principal force, and no strong popular party can be born in the shadow of machine-guns, unless it is a servile instrument.’ (Interview in Le Monde – 7 September 1962)

The army is occupying a larger and larger place in Algeria. Even if its leaders were motivated by the purest intentions in the world, the continued extension of their power is scarcely compatible with real democracy. Many protest have been made – notably by the International League for the Rights of Man, a section of the PSU, Claude Bourdet. The International Red Cross and the Red Cross have been alerted. An international committee for the defence of the Algerian Revolutionaries (CIDRA) has been formed. Address:–

Mme A. Rey, 85, Bld. Brune, Paris, 14e.

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