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International Socialism, Spring 1968


R.D. Coates

The Price of Reintegration
The French Communist Party and Reformism


From International Socialism, No.32, Spring 1968, pp.19-23.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


1. Introduction

The French Communist Party (Le Parti Communiste Français, PCF) emerged from the Second World War as the largest political party in France. Five of its members held posts in the Provisional Government, it claimed a membership of one million, and one Frenchman in four gave it his vote. If its strength is to be defined in Parliamentary terms, or indeed in terms of the number of its members, it has never been as strong since, despite maintaining, throughout the Fourth Republic, a popular vote of some five million.

This peak of popularity and membership was the second of only two periods in which the French Communist Party had experienced a rapid upsurge in its support. The first had been in the ‘Popular Front’ period of 1934-36, and the gains here had been dissipated in the early days of the Second World War. The Party emerged after Liberation as the ‘party of 75,000 dead,’ with a new popularity which rested on its membership of De Gaulle’s Provisional Government and on its own Resistance record. It appeared in 1945 as a Republican party, non-sectarian, patriotic, and democratic, the party of the workers, and it benefited from the disgrace of the pre-war politicians and from the popularity of the Red Army. But with the coming of the Cold War and its own dismissal from government in 1947, the Party was driven into a Parliamentary isolation from which it is only now beginning to escape.

The exact significance of the PCF’s present attempt to be included in a broad Parliamentary alliance of the Left will be the main subject-matter of this article. But it is essential first to set the Party in an historical perspective, and to fix its position within the wider Communist International. With the waning of Moscow’s control over the national communist parties of Western Europe, the PCF has for the first time come to a position in which it can relate directly to the French political scene, no longer obliged to subordinate its policies to the dictates of Moscow. This growing autonomy of the French Communist Party is not yet complete, and the Party has been slow to de-Stalinise, but nonetheless, the polycentrist ideology of the PCI (the Italian Communist Party) is equally relevant to the position and experience of the PCF. For the first time, the answer to the question, ‘whither the French Communist Party?’ lies in Paris, and not in Moscow, and the French context of the Party is therefore increasingly relevant.

2. The bases of Party support

As a first guide to the strength of the French Communist Party, we might look to both the geographical and social bases of its electoral support. Such a criterion of party strength as the ‘number of votes obtained’ would be a fairly adequate guide to the strength of most political parties in Western countries, since they largely function as electoral machines, interested in placing men in power within the existing Parliamentary framework. The concept of ‘numbers’ however (especially of votes, but even of party members) should be an inadequate guide to the strength of a party which is, on the level of ideology at least, revolutionary, and for which Parliamentary activity has never, hitherto, been claimed to be more than peripheral (the period 1944-47 being perhaps an exception here). However, the long-standing and growing involvement of the Party in Parliamentary modes of activity makes this criterion of party strength more relevant. Thorez’s ‘a party should be counted in ‘millions’ [1] indicates both this, and the inevitable corollary of reformism that Parliamentarianism in a Party of the Left involves.

The Party was, by the end of the 1920s, largely based on the Paris industrial belt, and expansion since then has, in the main, come from elsewhere. Communist voting strength is most heavily concentrated in three areas; in the industrial zone between Paris and the Belgian border, on the northern and western edge of the Massif Central, and all along the Mediterranean coast, and in part of its hinterland. Though predominantly a party of the French industrial working class, the PCF has throughout its short history drawn on a particular rural vote as well. In the Third Republic, the PCF gathered support in the heart of France, in Cher and Allier, in Southern Provence, and especially in the completely agricultural area of Lot-et-Garonne in die south-west. [2] Under the Fourth Republic, the communist electorate was not only the largest (some five million votes in 1951 and 56), but also the most scattered. In 1956, no single department gave less than five per cent of its vote to the PCF and in 1958, only two did. The Party was weak only in the industrial areas along the German border, and in the agricultural area of Western France, from Poitou to Western Normandy. Elsewhere, except for the Basses-Pyrenees and the Haute-Loire, the PCF took at least ten per cent of the vote. [3] It is perhaps understandable, given Party domination of the CGT (Confederation Generate du Travail, the largest of the French Trade Union federations), that the areas of Communist voting strength and the areas of CGT strength should correlate closely. Both organisations are strong in the Parisian ‘Red Belt,’ the suburbs in which automobile, machinery, gas, electricity, and chemical workers live, as well as in the coal, metallurgical and textile areas of the North, on the East Mediterranean coast (Marseilles and Toulouse), in Brittany and in Grenoble. The Party’s supporters are amongst the labour aristocracy of France; Parisian wages in the ‘Red Belt’ are, on average, amongst the nation’s highest, and the Party’s vote comes from the better paid sections of the French working class (the industrial civil servants, the metal, coal, railways, gas and electricity workers). [4]

It draws too, as we have said, on a particular, if declining, rural vote. Commentators like David Thomson [5] have been keen to show that this vote is merely the Red Republican vote stretching back to 1793, and it remains true that areas of PCF rural strength are exactly those which have been solidly on the Left since 1848. The rural communist is then offered as a social, and not a political, vote of protest, and the Marxist parties it is said, ‘have captured the sentiment of the Jacobin-Republican electorate.’ [6] The influence of this traditional ‘Red’ vote cannot be denied, but it must be realised that the rural Communist vote is no accident of history, but rather the result of persistent and planned Parity activity. The rural vote goes in these areas to a Party that expresses peasant demands, runs a widespread, if withering, rural organisation, and puts a high premium on peasant support. The PCF appeal to the peasantry, difficult for a party of the proletariat, is based on the economic and social grievances of the peasantry as a class, which deprivation over a century has kept alive, and on an attempt to play the, heir to the Left, to capture the Radical Socialist vote of Third Republic days. Personalities play their part here (Samazan in Gascony returned Jean Renaud for forty years as mayor and deputy), and organisation is crucial: in 1961, the Party, pointing out its relatively greater success in the moderately prosperous agrarian departments of Allier, Lot-et-Garonne, and Vaucluse, than in the poorer departments of Aveyron, Cantal, and Morbihan, attributed this to organisation and activity over forty years. [7]

It is this rural vote, though now in decline, which offers one insight into the ambiguity of the French Communist Party’s electoral popularity as a guide to its revolutionary potential. Communist support here, as elsewhere, largely flows from the Party’s role as the expressor of protest, a poujadisme de gauche. It has been the failure of the Party – a failure rooted as much in its own elitism and political opportunism as in the unresponsiveness of its audience – not to relate this specific dissent to a wider revolutionary perspective in the minds of the French electorate. Many a rural Communist voter in France is a small proprietor, politically attracted to the Left but doubtless unwilling to be deprived of his own property: that is ‘he votes communist, but he prays bourgeois.’ [8]

This aside, it is the organisational structure of the PCF that largely explains its continuing support amongst the French working class, despite the Party’s continuing failure to come to power. It seems reasonable to argue that it is as much the organisational differences that divide the PCF and the British Labour Party, as any differences in policy between them, that explain why the PCF vote, in spite of the Party’s national impotence in the 1950s, remained high until 1958, whereas the British Labour Party in a similar situation, experienced a declining vote.

Since the Party is not committed to solely Parliamentary modes of action, and since its organisational structure reflects this, the PCF is better placed to concentrate on direct industrial action, and to relate this to political ends. The close links of organisation, personnel and policy between the CGT and the PCF are both the instruments and the expression of this organisational potential. It is the militancy of Party members on the shop floor, and their continuous articulation of specific grievances, that would appear to be the major reason for the sustained loyalty of the French working class to the PCF. Their ‘cell’ structure of the Party indicates the different political perspective of the Party, and allows a continuous process of interaction between Party and workers.

But on two major counts, the Party leadership has become less receptive to rank-and-file grievances, with a consequent internal bureaucratisation of the Party on traditional Stalinist lines. The responsiveness of leaders to lead has taken second place to the leadership’s allegiance to Moscow, to the periodic frustration of Party militants. And the Communist Party’s involvement in industrial action has been ambivalent yet again, in that the ‘vanguard’ mentality of the Party (the ideological source of its elitism) has bred a propensity for political opportunism. Not only the allegiance to Moscow but also the leadership orientation of the Party has led to the sacrifice, on occasions, of rank-and-file union goals to immediate political ends. The abrupt termination of the strikes of 1947-48 is one example. The position of the PCF is fundamentally ambiguous, and this ambiguity is reflected in tensions within the organisational structure of the Party itself. For the Party attempts to be a mass political party within a political system that has an elected chamber as its national forum, and in which success is defined in terms of seats won and votes obtained. Yet at the same time, the Party operates within an ideology that declares ‘parliamentary democracy’ in this form as only a mask for the class rule of the forces of industrial capital, and which commits the Party, in consequence, to an organisational structure oriented to the more fundamental confrontation of capital and labour on the shop floor. Thus the leadership makes periodic appeals for the strengthening of ‘work-place cells’ (situated in the factory, and therefore directly linked to the industrial struggle), and the reduction of the ‘area cells,’ more oriented to the Parliamentary arena. Yet in spite of pressure from above, most severe at the end of the 1940s, the area cell persists.

3. ‘The international logic of the Revolution’

The relationship between the PCF and Moscow can perhaps be more usefully set in an historical perspective. The French Communist Party was formed in December 1920, when the majority wing of what had until then been Jaures’ United Socialist Party voted to affiliate with the Communist International. From the safe distance of Paris, the Russian Revolution in those days could be hailed as at once Communist, anarchist and syndicalist, and the early composition of the Party reflected this naive optimism. The Cahiers du Bolshevisme found the Party in 1924 to consist of, ‘20 per cent Jaurisme, 10 per cent Marxism, 20 per cent Leninism, 20 per cent Trotskyism, and 30 per cent confusionism.’ But the patterns that were to dominate the next thirty years of the PCF’s existence established themselves early, and the 1920s were a decade of disillusion for those early French Communists. By 1925, few of the original leaders remained. Frossard, the first Secretary General, had left on the political journey that was to lead him to Vichy; his successor, Souvarine, followed him out of the Party as a supporter of Trotsky. And the story repeated itself at every level of the Party, as the process of subordinating the party line to the dictates of Moscow, and its consequent internal bureaucratisation of the Party, drove the more independently minded from the fold. Not that these processes operated in some kind of ideological vacuum. On the contrary, they depended upon accepting the USSR as the major bulwark of world revolution. The ‘success’ of socialism in Russia was the major source of inspiration to communists in Western Europe. Ideology was a major organisational weapon. As Thorez, much later, was to express it, ‘because the ultimate form of the proletarian revolution is international, the various communist parties must subordinate their policies to the international logic of the Revolution.’ [9] The early tension experienced here, which drove so many from the Party (membership fell from 130,000 in 1920 to 29,000 in 1931 [10]), arose because, as G.D.H. Cole has said, ‘the Comintern in the 1920s was altogether too ready to ask of its supporters more than flesh and blood could bear.’ The International became an agency of the Russian Foreign Office, not to serve the interests of World Revolution, but to maintain the status quo that hid behind the ideological defence of ‘socialism in one country.’ The policy of the International became the dependent variable in an equation in which first, the internal struggle for power in Russia, and then, the needs of Russian defence, played the dominant role; and the resulting inconsistency in policy directives from Moscow over time militated against the PCF gathering a stable social base.

The French Communist Party, both before and under Stalin, must thus be seen against the background of the needs of Russian internal and foreign policy. For these, when translated into policy directives by the International, were a directly determining factor in PCF activity. The fluctuations in policy in the decade of the 1920s, for example, combined with intense personal rivalry at the top of the French Party to leave the PCF, by 1930, on the brink of extinction. In 1921, at the time of NEP in Russia, the Party was somewhat reluctantly pursuing a policy of a ‘united front’ with the Socialists. In 1924, there was a major purge of Party personnel as the defamation of Trotsky by Zinoviev drove many who had known Trotsky in his Paris days to object publicly and be expelled. In 1928, the Party was called upon to be the first to instigate the new policy of ‘class against class,’ to castigate the Social Democrats as social fascists, and to declare the war of town on country, at the time of the first Five Year Plan in Russia, the move against the kulaks, and the fall of Bukharin. So that, with the appointment by Moscow of Maurice Thorez as Secretary General in 1934, the internal bureaucratisation of the Party was complete, and it was as a Stalinist Party (i.e. one loyal to Moscow and internally disciplined) that the Party entered its two periods of mass recruitment, namely the Popular Front and Liberation. In 1934, Russian defence commitments produced the Franco-Soviet Pact, and the Party abandoned a decade of attacks on bourgeois nationalism to advocate French national defence and a popular front. It was on these policies that the PCF first experienced mass support, and first established a major hold on the French union movement. It controlled twelve of the thirty national unions by 1939, and had 72 deputies in the Chamber; gains which were negated by the change of line imposed on the Party after the Nazi-Soviet Pact of August 1939. It was these events of the early days of the Second World War that demonstrate most vividly the loyalty of the PCF to Moscow, and its consequent costs and strains for the French Party. Only the German invasion of Russia allowed the PCF to reintegrate into the French political scene, and for six years to gather popular support and eventually government office, before the Cold War again drove the Party into opposition with the wave of strikes of 1947-48.

4. The failure of the PCF

With the PCF as a mass-based Stalinist Party came resultant tensions, and a failure to turn industrial and political resources into political power. The PCF benefited because it stood on the extreme Left in a country which has known, in certain areas and amongst certain groups, a long tradition of voting for the party furthest to the Left [11], because it possessed an unequalled organisational structure which could respond to changing circumstances with great speed and efficiency [12], and because it had built up its image as the party of the working class. Yet it was weakened by an inability to exploit to the full the advantages that it could enjoy, an inability rooted in a prior loyalty to an external government that on occasions (1939, for example) forced it to choose between them and mass Communist support. The Party, its choice once made, could only then appeal for loyalty, since it lacked the coercive mechanisms to impose its policy on an unwilling population. To remain a mass party in Western countries requires a leadership more responsive to rank-and-file pressure, and to peculiar national needs, than the PCF under Stalin was willing to be.

In the 1920s the Party had found tensions enough in occupying the position of an ideologically revolutionary and internationally oriented party serving the dictates of a foreign government whose policy directives were shaped by their own internal power struggles and needs of national defence, and which had increasingly little to gain from a French proletarian revolution. The 1930s and 1940s added the extra complication of the development of a national mass base for the PCF, whose interests (as in 1939) could clash clearly with those of Moscow.

It is ironic that the temporary Russian need for a chauvinistic and moderate PCF should have provided for that party a mass base whose preservation required a weakening of the ties between the PCF and Moscow.

That such a weakening was required, the experience after 1947 indicated. For the PCF link to the working class drew them out of the government (helped by the boot of Ramadier) when they were in danger of being ‘outflanked on the Left’ in the Renault strike of 1947. The strikes of 1948 failed, as did those of 1952-53, and the PCF was obliged to curtail the use that it made of the CGT as a political weapon in the politics of the Cold War. This latter consequence followed from the position of the PCF in a non-totalitarian situation. Their control of the trade-union movement was subject to the same kind of pressures that any other French union bureaucracy faced, and limits existed, which still exist, on the degree to which the union rank and file would strike for political ends. That the limits were so narrow reflected the PCF’s failure to relate effectively specific union grievances to a wider political perspective, and the Party was obliged to be responsive to mass pressure, because the union rank and file could, and did, vote with their feet. Thus in 1947, the CGT could claim five million members, but by 1953, it had no more than a million arid a half.

But the machinations of Moscow, though essential, are insufficient as an explanation of the PCFs failure to come to power. There was always the presence, and rarely veiled opposition, of the SFIO (the Socialist Party of Blum and Mollet), which ruled out that straight electoral sweep to government power which Thorez had appeared to expect in 1946. Nor, with the changing composition of the industrial labour force, could the proletarianisation of the lower middle class be relied upon to provide the PCF with an electoral majority. The result was that only the USSR seemed capable of putting the PCF into power, and the whole of Western Germany and the armies of America divided the Red Army from Paris. It was so even in 1944.

The experience of 1944-47 indicates certain aspects of the PCF’s dilemma. Until late 1946 the PCF could reasonably have expected to gain government power. With the creation of the ‘People’s Democracies’ in Eastern Europe behind the advancing Russian armies, with the Party’s own trade-union and electoral strength, and with the vacuum of power that existed in the West and in France, their day seemed at hand. But the Party proved unable to exploit its strong situation. Lacking a Parliamentary majority, it was forced to work in coalitions, and there, its attempts to dominate key departments were continually frustrated. When it was the largest party in France, Thorez’s nomination for the Premiership was rejected by a non-communist majority united against it. There could be no armed coup when American armies occupied France. The PCF was both unable to obtain power within the prevailing political system, and yet was compromised in government; and was unable to gain power outside that system, because of the Allied military presence. Increasingly isolated in France as Soviet foreign policy became more hostile to the West, even its trade-union weapon broke in its hands in 1947 and 1948. The Party was left increasingly dependent for its revolution on the armed might of a foreign power unwilling or unable to take the risks involved in the confrontation with the West that such a ‘revolution’ would involve.

Beneath it all lay, and still lies, the elitism of the Party – the root cause of the PCF’s failure to lead a nationally generated and sustained proletarian revolution. Its failure to do more than merely manipulate the French working class to serve its own immediate political ends meant that then, as now, the sheer quantity of Communist voting strength was no guide to the degree of effective mass mobilisation for revolution that the Party could attain, and revolutions on the Left are no longer won in Chambers of Deputies. It is no accident that the Party has proved unwilling to put its organisations to this acid test. If PCF loyalty to Moscow has at certain times undermined the Party’s ability to gather and retain support, then it is its own elitism that has prevented it translating that support, once gained, into revolutionary consciousness. Yet further, this elitism leaves the Communist revolution as a seizure of power by the Party, rather than as any wider movement of the working class: and with the Red Army no longer available as a stand-in for the proletariat as the agent of social change, the post-War years have pressed upon the PCF the need for a reappraisal of its situation.

5. The road to Reformism

The picture thus far drawn of the French Communist Party has been that of the Party under the Third and Fourth Republics, firmly committed to Moscow, Stalinist in organisation and receptive to the French political scene only through the medium of Moscow’s definition of the scene. We now have to come to terms with the PCF since the death of Stalin, and especially since the inception of the French Fifth Republic. For although the French Communist Party was unwilling, and therefore slow, to admit publicly that its situation had altered, nonetheless the changed nature of international Communism since the mid-1950s and the continuing prosperity of the French economy, have brought changes in the situation of the PCF which are now coming to affect both its position and practice within the framework of French national politics. Much of the past remains, and the internal bureaucratisation of the Party has kept suppressed any breadth of debate, of the kind that, for example, the Italian Communist Party has experienced. But three things have happened.

  1. Since the death of Stalin, and especially since the beginning of the Sino-Soviet dispute, Moscow has proved both less interested in, and less able to, continue its control over the Communist Parties of Western Europe. The organisational monolith that was World Communism has gone.
  2. With the easing of East-West relationships, a national Communist Party’s defence of Moscow from within Western Europe no longer isolates it so markedly from non-Communist Parties of the Left. This is especially true of the French situation, given the French Government’s policy towards both Russia and NATO, though it remains true that questions of foreign policy (crucially, differing attitudes to the Common Market) still divide the Left in France.
  3. Developments within the capitalist economies themselves – the ‘economic miracles’ of the 1950s – leave the PCF facing a situation in which the internally generated contradictions of capitalism appear muted.

The result has been that the PCF has had to define far more its own relationship to the national political context, and the pressures towards some form of accommodation to the prevailing system, inherent in its position as a mass party in a time of political stability, and economic calm, have come to the fore. But the traditional disunity of the Left in France, both political and industrial, and the different organisations that are the structural manifestations of that disunity, remain as obstacles to co-operation between the PCF and the non-Communist Left.

The early 1950s were marked by strikes and agitation against the USA, Indo-China, and against the arrest of Jacques Duclos in 1952. But in the years of growing peaceful coexistence that followed, the Party tried hard to reintegrate into the political life of the French Left, supporting the opponents of EDC, voting for Mendes-France, and giving prolonged support to Guy Mollet. They came under attack after 1956 because of de-Stalinisation and Hungary, and because of their equivocation over the Algerian War.

The Fifth Republic brought electoral disaster. 1958 saw a total rout of the opponents of De Gaulle; the PCF lost 1.5 million votes, though the municipal elections which followed, by restoring much of this, showed how much the referendum was a vote on the man alone. It is from this period of defeat that the Left in France is slowly recovering. It is not just that the pressures to some form of accommodation to the prevailing system have now emerged, but that, on the one hand, the newly found autonomy and flexibility of the Party has enabled it to attempt to reintegrate into the French Left, and that, on the other hand, the newly found ‘respectability’ of French Communism in the eyes of the non-Communist Left has made this attempt more worthwhile. (The responsiveness of all sections of the’non-Communist Left to the PCF must not, however, be overstated; witness, for example, the CGTFO.) A number of landmarks have however been passed.

  1. The unity of the Left behind Francois Mitterand in the Presidential elections of December 1965 gave Mitterand 45 per cent of the vote on the second ballot.
  2. In January 1966, an agreement at national level between the CGT and the laicised majority (the CFDT) of the old Catholic unions (the CFTC) brought a commitment to joint industrial action, and underwrote nationally a practice of long-standing at local level.
  3. In the same month, the PCF appealed to the non-Communist Left in an attempt to begin talks on the formulation of a common programme. The appeal met only a cautious response, opposition being especially noticeable amongst the Radical supporters of Francois Mitterand.
  4. In the March elections of 1967, the electoral unity of the Left allowed the opposition to the UNR to exploit the electoral system, and to reduce the Government’s majority to one. The PCF won an extra one million votes (almost back to its pre-1958 level), with an increase of 32 seats.

There was evidence again of the CGT’s desire to forge links with the non-Communist Left when in the early days of June, from their annual Congress in the Parisian suburb of Nanterre, the CGT leadership of Frachon and Seguy once more called for a ‘common union front.’

Politically, the Party is committed to a Parliamentary road to ‘communism,’ within a broad and moderate alliance on the Left The tensions experienced by an ideologically revolutionary party seeking ‘political legitimacy’ and allies, appear to have been resolved by moving the revolutionary aspects of the ideology into a longer term (and therefore in the short period, inoperative) perspective, and altering the substantive element of the revolution sought. Though it is difficult to determine exactly what the Party leadership envisages as the substance of a Communist revolution, they are now stating that it must be both ‘democratic’ and ‘liberal,’ and appear to be looking to the supremacy of the Soviet economic system to lead to a voluntary acceptance of State ownership and planning. Shades of Kautsky. And with the growing orientation of the Party to Parliamentary modes of activity, the use of industrial militancy for overtly political ends has waned. The general strike of 17 May made a pleasant change from CGT policy in the early days of the Fifth Republic.

Polycentrism is as relevant here as in an Italian context. Genuine differences of interest divide the PCF from Moscow, and the divide is widening as the relationship between the two becomes irrelevant to both.

The dilemma of the PCF since Stalin has been one of achieving some meaningful mode of activity in the pursuit of its goals, and the redefinition of those goals in the light of the new situation. The Party has decided to pursue Parliamentary power within the prevailing political framework. In consequence, the Party must remain only a pressure group for working-class interests within the bourgeois State, trapped by its own elitism in a view of Communism as rule by the Party, and in the bourgeois definition of legitimate political activity as minority activity within a Parliamentary framework. With waning allegiance to Moscow and growing orientation to Parliamentary modes of activity, the gap between Social Democracy and French Communism grows small.

All the important characteristics of Reformism are there, despite the increasing difficulty of successful reformism in the face of growing State intervention in the economy. Thus, witness the emphasis on Parliamentarianism; the non-operative nature of the revolutionary elements within the ideology; the search for respectability and public legitimacy; the waning use of industrial militancy for political ends; the leadership orientation of the Party; and the apparent faith that major social change can be legislated into existence, without mass involvement outside the voting booth, by teams of men somehow vicariously experiencing and personifying the class struggle in a hallowed Chamber of Deputies. If reformism remains, ‘organisational cretinism’ must surely follow.

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1. In 1944, on returning from Moscow.

2. See G. Wright, Communism and Peasantry in France, in Earle (ed.), Modern France.

3. See J.A. Laponce, The Government of France.

4. V. Lorwin, The French Labour Movement.

5. David Thomson; Democracy in France.

6. Ehrmann, The Decline of the Socialist Party, in Barte (ed.), op. cit.

7. G. Wright, Rural Revolution in France – the Peasantry in the Twentieth Century.

8. Quoted from the introduction by Earle, op. cit.

9. Thorez in 1956, quoted in R.C. Macridis, The Immobility of the French Communist Party, The Journal of Politics, 20 April 1958.

10. Statistics are notoriously dubious on the exact membership figure at the end of the 1920s. F. Borkenau in European Communism has the figure as low as 15,000, and the figures above are drawn from Lutte de Classe, Paris, April 1967. Yet all agree on the rapidly downward trend of membership in the 1920s.

11. See for details G. Wright, Red and Black in Rural France, Yale Review, 1962.

12. Note the Party’s supremacy in organising the greater part of the three million new trade unionists who joined the union movement in the Popular Front period.

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