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The New International, February 1946




[On France]

(February 1946)


From New International, Vol. XII No. 5, May 1946, pp. 157–158.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Dear Comrades:

At the moment the great problem is the legalization of our paper, La Vérité. Last week it was attacked by the UJRF (Communist Party Youth Union), supported by the police. We are making a great campaign throughout the whole country to obtain legalization. (La Vérité published last week a letter signed by some political figures in America, among them Max Shachtman.) We try to get as many men as possible to sign for us. It is very important for us to have a paper before the elections (they are not yet fixed-maybe June 9th).

We pursue our work in C....... Meetings at the “Bourse du Travail,” work in the unions, etc. We are now known as militants in C...... and in R......, where we have found some valuable comrades.

You will see in La Vérité some resolutions adopted by our party convention. The minority position has lost. It thinks that the French (and world) situation was objectively a backward one, and we must therefore adopt democratic slogans. They said the French proletariat has lost much of its class-consciousness because of the war, the misery, etc., and we must come down to its level by transforming our slogans into democratic slogans. I will send you some parts of these resolutions in my next letter ...

I do not agree with these positions – certainly, the general class consciousness seems somewhat lower. But it seems to me these resolutions omitted the importance of a subjective fact: the strength of Stalinism. When we discuss with workers at the “Bourse du Travail,” we are right up with them about all questions – necessity of strikes, inability of the present workers’ parties; inability of the present government; necessity of a Communist-Socialist government; necessity of great actions by the masses (strikes with occupation of factories, birth of factory councils, women’s councils for food, etc.). They are agreed that the government and the bureaucrats of the CGT and the workers’ parties are wrong in neglecting the question of factory councils. They are demoralized; they have lost their faith in those organizations because those organizations (comités d’enterprise, for example) they have established are without power. If we speak a “democratic” language, they do not see the difference between us and the other parties. On the contrary, if we speak a revolutionary language to them they are disturbed. They continue for the moment to follow their old organization, but with a critical spirit ...

I received the copy of Labor Action, dated January 28, containing the editorial Policy Statement on France. I am in agreement with the greatest part of it. The explanation of a Socialist-Communist-CGT government is nearer to ours than to the party minority, which says: “Socialist Party-Communist Party-CGT – take power with your program, the program of the CNR and the ‘delégations gauches,’” which is a petty bourgeois program. The French workers do not believe in that program. They have lost their faith because the workers’ parties have had no more enthusiasm and no action to propose to them. I think the next elections will be a step backward for the Communists – to the advantage of new, pro-fascist parties. I think the Communist Party will lose because it is condemned to have a democratic-petty bourgeois policy and many people – first of all, the petty bourgeoisie – have enough of this “democratic” policy, which is a deflation policy, with low wages and high prices. We are ripe for fascism! But we can also go to socialism, with our party.

If we can run some candidates, we will obtain many votes and probably some deputies. The Stalinists know that – they are conducting a great campaign against us, with the aid of the bourgeois police. Yesterday, thirty-two militants at the international meeting of the Fourth International at Paris were arrested! The CP tries to forbid us to present candidates, by all means. A 20,000 franc fee for each candidate, etc. We demand the aid of the Socialists and centrists against those totalitarian measures. The next two months will be very important. Some newspapers begin to speak in our defense (Franc-Tireur, Combat, Liberté ...)

The departure of Leon Blum to the United States is a very comic dance (I go; I don’t go). It is slightly ridiculous. The Socialists say: quick elections, then the U.S. will have confidence in us. But they also say the U.S. will have confidence if France has a right-wing, moderate government. Then, according to that logic, quick elections and vote for the right-wing parties!

France, February 28, 1946

Fraternally yours,

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