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The New International, February 1946




[On France]

(March 1946)


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


Dear Friends:

Big news for us last week – our paper, La Vérité, is now authorized! It is a result of our great campaign. We collected as many signatures as we could, protesting against the illegality and the seizure of La Vérité. There were many American signatures. In the Marne, we collected 85 signatures of political and union leaders. It is a great victory for us. It is very important for the coming electoral campaign, this June. But now the great question is the financial one!

The electoral bill, which will be voted soon, declares that all parties must present candidates in 20 departments of France, at least – i.e., 20 lists containing, according to the populations of the department, three, four, five or more (up to ten) candidates per list. Every candidate must pay a security fee of 20,000 francs. We must find 3,000,000 francs! We are beginning a great campaign for donations.

Regarding the arrest of the 32 Trotskyists at the conference in Paris, the story is very curious. They were released several hours after, or the day after. The French police said officially there was a mistake – they believed they were “pimps”! Indeed, it seems the police found no reason to hold these comrades under arrest and the great protests frightened the police.

Regarding the question of the American parties and their unity, during the convention of the French Party (PCI), a speech was delivered on the situation of the International by the Executive Secretary and he spoke of this question (in the same spirit as the SWP), but many delegates said they wanted unity. And also many (a large majority) said the French party must study the Russian question because they acknowledged they have not a clear view of this question. For that, the latest copy of La Quatrième Internationale was devoted to this question. They present the official thesis “unconditional defense” and “degenerated workers’ state.” I think many comrades are not content with this. I think a large discussion will take place about that, between the elections and the next convention and this next convention will make, perhaps, new slogans. I am in support of you for the slogan, CP-SP-CGT government, and the great danger of the Stalinist party. Actually, the Stalinist party operates today with a great penetration into all fields: state administration, education, police, etc. They try to put their “faithfuls” everywhere. They have the greater part of the union and the CGT directorship (the proportion is five or six Stalinists for one reformist). This policy is very skillful ... but the masses are tired and troubled. In the unions, the present slogan is: “Politics out of unionism – independence of unionism – no deputy leaders of unions.” This slogan has majority support in the unions of C—, and we support it, with the addition “The unions must come back to a class struggle unionism and must support only a class government, if it has a class policy.” Many people agree.

On the question of the MRP-de Gaulle: it is very intricate. The present political situation is as follows: the three parties wish to remain in the ministry all together, until the elections. They each hope to have good election results and to maintain their positions: the MRP at the head of the former or new right-wing parties; the SFIO (Socialists) ahead of the radical-socialists, which is awakening, and the centrist group (republicans, socialists, democrats and de Gaullist elements), and the Communist Party at the head of all the others, and us! But in every party, some leaders do not agree (especially in the MiRP and the SFIO). The convention of federal delegates of the SFIO (one each department, minimum) gave a left direction to the SFIO leadership policy – no revision of the party statutes and the Marxism contained in them; unity of action with the Communists. Some leaders of the MRP want to quit the ministry to take an opposition attitude – against the André Philip financial policy, against the “nationalizations,” against the educational policy and to reform the de Gaulle policy.

During the last two weeks, papers speak much about a great crisis and a possible departure of the MRP ministers from the government. But all was settled. There was also a crisis about the nationalization of electricity. The Socialists refused to vote for the bill of Paul (Communist). The ministry accepted and want to vote for the bill of Ramadier (Socialist), which was also supported by the Constituent Assembly commission. All was again settled, but it is really the “Entente des Trois Grands” – like the other Big Three!

As for General de Gaulle – he is silent, like the grave. Sometimes a follower speaks for him, as when Gouin announced he would go to Strasbourg. M. Capitant, ex-Minister of Education, said to the Strasbourgeois – you must welcome Gouin with cries of “Vive de Gaulle”! As an answer to this, Gouin visited in Strasbourg the bishop and the cathedral, and said: “We do not abandon our position on the Ruhr question (and Ruhr coal).” A new party has appeared: the “Republican Party of Liberty.” Its leaders are the old fascist leaders of the February 6, 1934, affair – the French fascists. It has plenty of money and huge placards. It is for “liberty,” against the nationalizations, against the three big party dictatorship, etc. Until now, it cannot hold a meeting because, each time, left militants prevent its speakers from speaking and drive them away from the hall. At Paris and in the provinces, it is always the PCI that is in the first rank of these fights with the Young Socialists (youth of the SFIO) and also, sometimes, young Communist Party youth. What results will this fascist party have at the elections? I think it will get some seats in place of the MRP.

As for an attempted coup d’état of de Gaulle, I have no idea at this moment. All the militants are on their guard. The right wing leaders openly avoid speaking about him. Let us wait!

France, March 26, 1946

Fraternally yours,

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