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Reva Craine

World Politics

(5 February 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 6, 5 February 1945, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

French Resistance Movement

The French resistance movement has been divided into two major organizations. The one known as the Front National is Communist (Stalinist) dominated, while in the other the Mouvement de Liberation Nationale (MLN), the Socialist Party predominates.

At its first national congress, concluded last week, the MLN concerned itself with two problems: the adoption of a political program and a decision on the question of unity with the Front National.

Its political resolution coincided with the recently expressed objectives of the French Socialist Party, which calls for a “socialized form of economy” to be realized through the socialization of banks, insurance companies and public utilities. Of course, this program is to be carried out some time in the vague future, since the congress pledged itself, for the present; “to support General de Gaulle’s government in its war effort and in its work for the restoration of French greatness through economic and social liberation.” We indicated last week what de Gaulle’s work of economic and social liberation is worth in practice.

Vote on the Merger

On the proposition that the MLN merge with the Stalinist-controlled Front National, the congress, voted in the negative by a vote of 250 to 119. The delegates voiced some very just suspicions about this proposition, and when a delegation from the Front National lingered in the hall to listen to the speeches, shouts of “Leave! Leave!” were heard from the gathering.

The Stalinists have been trying to “unify” the resistance movement for some time. At first blush, this seemed like a very good and reasonable suggestion, but as proposed by them it is obvious that this is a move calculated to bring the entire resistance movement under Stalinist domination and control and to make its policies prevail. The Stalinists represent the greatest totalitarian danger in the labor and resistance movements and it was against this danger that the delegates of the MNL spoke out.

Recently, when it was announced that elections were to be held in France, the Stalinist press immediately started an agitation that only one slate, representing all the parties in the resistance movement be put up. They hoped to obtain places on the slate for many of their own members and sympathizers, not only through their own party channels, but in disguised form in the representatives of the other parties. This would save them the embarrassment of appearing publicly, on their own platform, before the masses of the French people. It would at the same time prevent other political parties from putting forward their programs and criticizing and attacking the Communists.

Stalinist “Democracy”

The French electorate would be confronted with only one list of candidates and they would have the choice of voting for or against. This is the way “elections” are held in Stalin’s Russia and Hitler’s Germany. For in those countries there is but one party, the party of the dictator, and one program, the program of the ruling class. Such elections are called plebiscite’s, in which the people have no way of expressing what they want;

The French Stalinists are eager to “unify” the resistance movement in order to bind it to their newly adopted conservative program, which dates from the recent friendship pact sighed by Stalin and de Gaulle. During the Nazi occupation, the. Stalinists waxed very radical and participated actively in the underground resistance. Their influence among the French working class grew rapidly as a result. For a time after the “liberation” of France they continued this apparently, left-wing policy. They were very critical of de Gaulle, demanded a stern policy of punishment for the collaborationists, insisted upon democratic rights, improvements in the living conditions of the masses of people and denounced de Gaulle’s decree ordering the FFI to disarm. This policy was designed to retain their popularity with their followers and, what is more important for the henchmen of the Kremlin, to pressure de Gaulle into an alliance with Russia.

As soon as de Gaulle, whom they had been attacking violently, signed up with “dear, powerful Russia,” this agitation ceased. Thorez, the leader of the French Stalinists, has ordered his party to assist de Gaulle in the disarming of the resistance fighters. His party tried the device of “unification” of the resistance movement in order to retain the popularity it had achieved in its “radical” days and to compel subservience to Russian political needs on the entire movement.

At least some of the delegates to the MLN congress saw through this ruse. One of them from Marseilles declared that he opposes unity with the Front National not because the Communist Party was revolutionary, but, on the contrary, because of “the fact that the Communists have lost their revolutionary character and forgotten their duties as members of the resistance.”

The rejection of the unity proposal by the MLN is a good sign. It is an action against the attempts of the Stalinists to totalitarianize the resistance and workers’ movements in France. What the people of France need more than anything else is the opportunity to work: out a correct-political program. This is possible only if there is freedom to establish their political parties and to listen, read, discuss and agitate freely for their ideas. In this way it will be possible for all political parties to present themselves before the working class to be judged in words and actions, and for a revolutionary party to be established and built. The Stalinist attempt to prevent this suffered a setback by the action of the MLN congress.


Stalinism in Italy

The desire of the Stalinists to introduce their type of totalitarianism in the form of “one party’’ (which they naturally will seek to dominate and control) manifested itself in Rome a few days back. In Italy, it is possible to publish a newspaper only if permission is first obtained from the government, since it controls the supply of paper. Most of the working class papers are still published illegally, under the most difficult and harrassing conditions, as a result of this control.

The government’s authorization of a dozen more daily newspapers in Rome brought forth a blast from the Communist paper L’Unità , which urged not the expansion of the freedom of the press, but rather the reduction of dailies to one paper for each big city, to be issued by the Committee of National Liberation.

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