From New International, Vol.4 No.6, June 1938, p.192.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
In La Victoire (Paris, Apr. 16, 1938), the former extreme left-wing anti-militarist of French socialism, Gustave Hervé who became no less extreme a chauvinist throughout the war and who has in recent years edited his paper on a frankly fascist program, gives the French Communist Party his patriotic benediction.
THE heads of the trade union organization of the metallurgical workers have just issued an appeal to the wisdom, the moderation and the patriotism of their comrades. These leaders call their flock back to “the prudence it will be important to observe in the future concerning the utilization of the strike as the ultimate means of defending their claims”.
They must “reconcile the defense of their own interests with the concern for guarding and contributing to the security of their country. French independence and liberties must not be imperilled.”
Certain journals blinded by hatred of the communists are making game of the cowardice and the hypocrisy of these communist leaders who launch their troops into an adventure like the present strike of the metallurgists and who, feeling defeat coming, are driving to end the occupation of the factories.
The truth is that since 1933 the communist leaders, far from instigating strikes, are trying to curb them as much as they can. Since 1933? Yes, since the arrival of Hitler to the supreme command of Germany and the re-appearance on the scene of the Pan-German colossus.
We said yesterday to one of our good confrères of the left that it is not the Cagoulards, or some other occult force, manipulated by Hitler and Mussolini, who are inciting our workers to commit stupidities; that the generalized indiscipline of our workers’ circles is due to the mortal errors of the French Revolution; we are obliged today to say again to certain of our confreres of the right that it is these mortal errors of our great Bolshevistic and anarchistic revolution of 1793 which are the sole causes of the anarchy that now rages in our workers’ circles and that since 1933 the communist leaders, without daring to brave this red wave openly, have been trying to canalize it and to limit its ravages.
What Croizat and the other communist leaders of the metal workers’ union say today is exactly what Thorez said during the first wave of strikes and [factory] occupations, when, bruskly, from the top of the tribune of l’Humanité, he said one day: “No, everything is not possible,” and again: “We must know how to finish a strike,” or when he sang, at about the same time, his couplets on the Marseillaise and the love of the fatherland, or when he stretched out the hand to the Catholics.
To the outsider, all this does not appear very clearly: but it is perfectly obvious to us, to us who have a feeling for the ignorant and ardent circles which the communist circles are, and who love them, if only for the natural reason that all the present communist leaders, most often unwittingly, are the intellectual children and the pupils of our journal when, before 1914, it called itself La Guerre Sociale.
If they collided head-on with the circles whom they hopped up, until 1933, with their revolutionary alcohol, they would be thrown overboard – just as we ourselves were, during the war. The evolution they have had their troops go through since 1933, in the direction of a national and reformist socialism, with nothing communistic left in it, shows that their method is not without some advantages.
They brought them back, as we ourselves tried to do, from Karl Marx, the malignant doctrinaire who had no patriotism at all in him, to Blanqui, the idealistic leader of that French socialism which was so ardently nationalistic before Karl Marx poisoned socialism with his Prussian cult of brute force.
Those who are entirely unaware of this profound evolution which converted our communistic and internationalistic Bolsheviks into very nationalistic Radical-Socialists, but who feel it confusedly, say with anguish:
“This return to a reformist and patriotic socialism, is just pretense. It is Stalin who ordered them to make this manoeuvre because he needs the French Army and French strength to protect himself against the Hitlerite menace.”
The truth is that the threat of Hitler produced instantaneously the same reflex in Stalin and among our French communists. They were afraid, the one for Russia, the others for France. And instantaneously and parallelly, moved by the same instinct for preservation, Stalin and our communists, even before coming to an agreement officially, rectified their position simultaneously. And even had it been Stalin who helped our communists to find the fatherland again, we would have to be thankful to him and to bless the Franco-Russian mutual defense pact. Isn’t it the German menace, suddenly discernible in 1912, which abruptly opened up the eyes of our group of La Guerre Sociale and brought them over completely – since 1912 – to a national socialism bordering on that still preached by La Victoire?
The blind who are conducting a violent and perfidious campaign in France against the Franco-Russian mutual defense pact do not, moreover, seem to perceive that Stalin, in the light shed for him by the triumph of Hitler in Germany, has discovered that communism is a mortal error. It is visible that, since 1933, instead of the Bolshevist communist that he was, he has become a genuine national socialist. Witness his manner – resembling a little too much that of Ivan the Terrible – of getting rid of all the communists who remained Bolsheviks. Witness, again, the reintegration into the Red Army of officers of the old regime. Finally, witness the patriotic Jacobin tone he adopts in speaking of the Russian army, Russian aviation, Russian fleet, Russian fatherland. Witness even the relatively tame way in which he supported the Spanish “anarchist” revolution ...
Last updated on 4.8.2006