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Pierre Frank

Democracy or Bonapartism in Europe?

(November 1945)

From Fourth International, Vol.7 No.2, February 1946, pp.45-49
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

This article by a prominent European Trotskyist was written shortly after the French elections, October 31, 1945. The cabinet crisis which occurred several weeks afterwards seems to confirm the main contention of this article, the bonapartist character of the de Gaulle regime.

The second section of this study on Democratic Liberties, Demands and Bonapartism will be published in the next issue of Fourth International. — Ed.

The problems of the proletarian revolution are posed today in Europe under the most varied aspects. It is not surprising therefore that differences on these questions are expressed in the ranks of the revolutionary vanguard. The comrades of the Socialist Workers Party in particular have discussed several questions concerning democratic demands and the possibilities of democratic regimes in Europe. If for some it were only a question of putting the emphasis on democratic demands while for others one of putting it on the slogans of Soviets and the Socialist United States of Europe, this difference would very likely be resolved in the daily activities of the parties, provided both tendencies knew how to connect dialectically the democratic slogans and the specific slogans of the proletarian revolution. On the other hand a question which must be treated with the greatest precision and which cannot be settled by daily activity is that of the nature of the present regimes in Europe. It is a theoretical problem of the first importance to know whether or not we have democratic regimes in Europe, for differences on this point must finally result — which is not necessarily the case with democratic slogans — in different policies, as happened on the question of the nature of the Soviet State which has so often been brought forward during the years of Stalinist degeneration and reaction.

Do Democratic Regimes Exist in “Liberated” Europe?

Our reply to this question obviously does not depend on the criteria required by the Foreign Office and the State Department for the diplomatic recognition of a government, any more than on those defined by Stalinist propaganda. Bourgeois democracy is a political form the analysis of which has been made by the most eminent Marxists and it is their analysis which serves completely to guide us on this matter.

The principal problem of Europe is Germany. Unfortunately, under present conditions, the political forms and formations there are still only in an embryonic state; the military occupation governments stifle all political life capable of disturbing their own aims. Consequently, Germany scarcely affords us criteria concerning the political forms of the state in Europe.

Throughout that part of Europe occupied by the Red Army great overturns are taking place; but the Stalinist maneuvers completely distort the simplest bits of information. In any event we are not confronted with democratic governments far or near. These are governments based on capitalist property, under the control of the Moscow bureaucracy, and with a greater or lesser base in the worker and poor peasant masses. Only the presence of the Red Army assures their continuance.

But after all, the discussion among the American comrades has dealt, and moreover rightly so, with the countries of Western Europe, those which are in the “zone of influence” of American and British democratic imperialism.

Unquestionably, the most characteristic example in this zone is that of France, which once again constitutes the most appropriate subject for a Marxist study of specifically political questions. Let us say in the beginning that everything that is true for France is not necessarily true at present, for Italy, the Scandinavian countries, Belgium, etc., but it is certainly in France that the political tendencies manifest themselves with the greatest clarity and distinctness.

Do we have a democratic regime in France? Comrade Morrow, in an article aimed at summarizing the positions of his tendency in the discussion, replies in the affirmative in the following terms:

The struggle of the masses is limited by the fact that it still accepts the leadership of the reformist parties. The objective resultant is bourgeois democracy.

Another factor working for bourgeois democracy is the resistance of a section of the French capitalist class, led by de Gaulle, to US domination. There was much indignation at the plenum, notably from Comrade Cannon, when I defined the Gaullists as a bourgeois-democratic tendency. The majority could not understand this quite simple phenomena, that a section of the French capitalist class, first to resist German imperialism and then to resist US domination, was for a period basing itself on the masses through the mediation of the reformist parties. (Fourth International, May 1945).

We shall endeavor to show by an analysis of the class relations that this reasoning is faulty on a number of points. As one knows, it is always profitable not to examine a question solely by its appearance at a given moment, but to see it in its historical development over a longer period. This is very easy for us to do since the Fourth International has taken very clear positions on France over a period of many years.

In February 1934 a violent reactionary attack dealt a mortal blow to the democratic Third Republic. The new regime was defined by Trotsky as follows:

“... a preventive Bonapartist regime cloaking itself with the worn-out formulae of the parliamentary state and maneuvering between the insufficiently strong camp of the fascist regime and the insufficiently class conscious camp of the proletarian state” (August 1934).

The violent reactionary attack awakened the laboring masses. A strong surge to the left took place, which forced a leftward shift of the Bonapartist governments, at the same time that the Popular Front was created to check and mislead the revolutionary movement of the masses. The year 1936 saw the triumph of the Popular Front thanks to the exploitation of strong democratic illusions; but it also saw a strong surge of the workers (June 1936). The division of France into mortally hostile camps deepened. The regime of the Popular Front was not a democratic regime; it contained within itself numerous elements of Bonapartism as we shall see further on.

With Munich and the liquidation of the Popular Front, the governments of Daladier and Reynaud, resembling those of Doumergue and Flandin, prepared the Bordeaux transaction of June 1940 which served to install the Petain regime. Despite the support it received from German imperialism (it held power only with German support and went under as soon as the German Army had to quit French territory), this regime was not considered by us as fascist but rather as Bonapartist. In the notes he dictated for an article shortly before his assassination, which he did not have the time to write, Trotsky expressed himself as follows:

In France there is no fascism in the real sense of the term. The regime of the senile Marshal Petain represents a senile form of Bonapartism of the epoch of imperialist decline ... Precisely because Petain’s regime is senile Bonapartism it contains no element of stability and can be overthrown by a revolutionary mass uprising much sooner than a fascist regime. (Fourth International, October 1940).

Several months later a manifesto of the International Secretariat entitled France Under Hitler and Petain declares:

The swift invasion of the German troops has shattered the administrative system. The only group representing a certain relative solidity were the top ranks of the Army. Around them rallied some Anglophobe politicians. This combination was crowned by the octogenarian Petain. The new Bonaparte did not even use cannon against parliament, which decided on its own hook to disappear ...

The struggle for democracy under the flag of England and the United States will not lead to a noticeably different situation. General de Gaulle struggles against “slavery” at the head of colonial governors, that is to say, of slave masters. In his appeals this “leader” uses, just like Petain, the royal “we.” The defense of democracy is in good hands! If England should install de Gaulle in France tomorrow, his regime would not in the least be distinguished from that of the Bonapartist government of Petain. (November 1940).

Thus our most responsible international body had predicted that a simple substitution of gangs following a victory of the Allies would not signify a change in the nature of the political regime. Have events verified this prediction or not? We find ourselves in the presence of an evaluation on the historical scale based on positions which were defended for many years by the Fourth International against all other theories and cheap labels spread by the other tendencies and formations of the labor movement. If an error was committed it would truly be a considerable one and we would be urgently obliged to seek the reasons for it and correct it. As for ourselves, we don’t believe that our organization was in error on this point. We sought to define the regime of de Gaulle in 1944 at the moment when he had ceased being the leader of a military legion at London and had become the head of the government installed in Algeria as the step before becoming the head of the government at Paris. We gave only a personal evaluation which does not have the authority of the citations given above but one may well excuse us for reprinting it here, for it applies in large measure to the present regime in France.

The significance of the sentence pronounced by the Algiers tribunal goes far beyond the personality of Pucheu and of his judges. The sentence reveals the common nature of the Petain regime in France and the de Gaulle regime now established in North Africa which lays claim to the future government of France. At the same time, the sentence may serve to lay open some of the differences between the two regimes.

The Petain regime is the dictatorship of the army and the police in the service of big capital. This is Bonapartism, not fascism. It is Bonapartism propped up by the Gestapo and the German occupation troops.

The de Gaulle regime — especially since its establishment at Algiers — contains an ever increasing number of men from the army and the police who have deserted Vichy. This too is Bonapartism. It is Bonapartism propped up by the Allied troops and the crumbs of Lease-Lend.

The differences between these two Bonapartist regimes are in no way exhausted by the fact that some of these French patriots have a marked preference for Basic English as opposed to the jargon of the Völkischer Beobachter.

In France, independent working class organizations are driven to illegality by Petain; in Algeria, where reaction still reigned supreme at the time of the proletarian offensive of 1936, the de Gaulle regime cannot help tolerating the open expression of trade unions and working class parties and must even seek their collaboration.

In France, Petain is constantly being spurred on by the agitation of the fascist organizations, in particular by Doriot’s PPF. In Algeria, these same fascist organizations have been reduced to illegality and there actually appears to be no fascist movement in existence at Algiers. Obviously, one of these bonapartist regimes leans essentially on fascist reaction, whereas the other leans more towards the exploited masses. This is nowise to the credit of one or other of the leading cliques, it is simply the resultant of the class forces in operation; but it is a fact of great importance for the future development of the class struggle. (Fourth International, June 1944).

We don’t see that the “liberation” of France has brought fundamental changes in the above-mentioned characteristics of the de Gaulle regime. Unquestionably the weight of the worker masses is markedly heavier in France than in Algeria and the stronger democratic traditions are factors which contribute to weakening the regime and force it to drape itself in enough shapeless camouflage to hide its Bonapartist traits; but it doesn’t change its nature.


After having shown the continuity of our political analysis for more than ten years of French history and before proceeding to a more penetrating study of the de Gaulle regime, we believe it worthwhile to review some generalizations on Bonapartism at the cost of a new series of citations.

In Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State Engels explains how a Bonapartist form of state appears under certain circumstances:

At certain periods it occurs that the struggling classes balance each other so nearly that the public power gains a certain degree of independence by posing as the mediator between them. The absolute monarchy of the 17th and 18th century was in such a position balancing the nobles and the burghers against one another. So was the Bonapartism of the first, and still more of the Second Empire, playing the proletariat against the bourgeoisie and vice versa. The latest performance of this kind, in which rulers and ruled appear equally ridiculous is the German Empire of Bismarckian make, in which capitalists and laborers are balanced against one another and equally cheated for the benefit of the degenerate Prussian cabbage junkers.

Limiting ourselves in this article to the Bonapartism of the capitalist regime we merely call to mind the definition of Bonapartism applied and explained on many occasions by Trotsky in reference to the Stalinist dictatorship. But Trotsky was very insistent in attributing this conception of Bonapartism to the von Papen and von Schleicher governments in the months preceding Hitler’s coming to power; he did this in two pamphlets one of which The Only Road devotes itself mainly to this very question. He showed the same insistence concerning the Doumergue and Flandin ministries in France which had resulted from the violently reactionary attack of February 6, 1934. He showed the differences in the class relations between a democratic regime and a Bonapartist regime:

The passing over of the bourgeoisie from the parliamentary to the bonapartist regime does not finally exclude Social-Democracy from that legal combination of forces upon which capitalist government bases itself. Schleicher, as is well known, sought in his time the aid of the trade unions. Through his friend Marquet, Doumergue has without doubt relations with Jouhaux and Co. ... The essence of the democratic state consists, as is well known, in the fact that everyone has the right to say and write what he pleases but that the big capitalists retain the power of deciding all important questions. This result is obtained by means of a complicated system of partial concessions (reforms), of illusions, bribery, deceit and intimidation. When the economic possibility of partial concessions (“reforms”) becomes exhausted, Social-Democracy ceases to be “the main political support of the bourgeoisie.” This signifies: capital can no longer rely upon a lamed “public opinion”; it needs a state apparatus which is independent of the masses — i.e. bonapartist.

In the one case, society turns almost in a circle about the big bourgeoisie as a pivot; the latter finds in the petty bourgeoisie and in a section of the working class a stable foundation; consequently the government and the state apparatus rest on these strata by means of a parliamentary majority. In the other case the big bourgeoisie does not find sufficient support in the masses which are polarised towards the camp of the revolution and the camp of the counter-revolution; under these conditions in order to save the social order the state apparatus, with the forces of repression in the forefront, tends to raise itself above society. The state machine no longer rests on a mass base but maintains itself in unstable equilibrium between two camps; these feats of social gymnastics come to a lamentable end the moment one of the camps takes the initiative in a decisive struggle.

The examples mentioned above for Germany of 1932 and France of 1934 are those of a weak bonapartism in the period of capitalist decline; the qualification of bonapartism in their case was not contested in our ranks probably because, as Trotsky wrote, it is still easy to recognize in an old man the characteristics which he possessed in his youth,

But the bonapartism of declining capitalism can cloak itself in other costumes. In certain cases it is fairly difficult to recognize it, for example in the case of governments of the left, even very much to the left, notably of the Popular Front type. There bonapartism is so outrageously varnished with a democratic sheen that many allow themselves to be taken in by it. The existence of bonapartist elements in the Kerensky regime was the subject of a chapter of The History of the Russian Revolution by Trotsky who characterized Kerensky as “the mathematical center of Russian bonapartism.” This theoretical evaluation was in agreement with that of Lenin who, on September 23, 1917, wrote to the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party: “We must give ... a correct and clear slogan: to drive out the Bonapartist gang of Kerensky with its fake pre-parliament.” There was no question there of an agitational formula. In State and Revolution, the greatest Marxist classic on the question of the state, Lenin, after having recalled the terms of Engels cited above with the same examples, adds the following phrase:

“Such, we add, is the present Kerensky government in Republican Russia since it began to persecute the revolutionary proletariat, at a moment when, thanks to the leadership of the petty bourgeois democrats, the Soviets had already become impotent while the bourgeoisie was not yet strong enough openly to disperse them.”

Certain individuals may be surprised to see an idea applied to regimes so widely separated from one another and will doubt its usefulness. Many other ideas familiar to Marxists are applied to extremely wide fields and yet are no less correct and useful. For example centrism. Also, for example, the dictatorship of the proletariat, which is applied to the Paris Commune under its leadership of Proudhonists and Blanquists, as well as to Soviet Russia under the leadership of Lenin and Trotsky. The term “bonapartism” does not completely exhaust the characterization of a regime, but it is indispensable to employ it in present day Europe, if one wishes to go forward with the least chance of error. Let us add finally that Marxism is not alone in the possession of such important general ideas; all the sciences do likewise. Thus chemists call bodies carbides which differ more widely from one another than the bonapartism of Schleicher and that of Kerensky. And chemistry doesn’t get along so badly either on that account. The contrary is true.

Let us note that the greatest theoreticians of Marxism did not at all define the political nature of a bourgeois regime by the positions which the latter held in the field of foreign policy but solely and simply by the position it occupied in relation to the classes composing the nation. Let us likewise observe that the limitation of the struggle of the masses because of the treacherous leaderships (according to the expression of Comrade Morrow) or, what amounts to the same, the paralysis or impotence of the mass organizations (to employ the terms of Lenin or Trotsky) does not give as “objective resultant” a bourgeois democracy, in the conditions of present day France, but rather a bonapartism which possesses an apparent strength.

The de Gaulle Government

Charles de Gaulle

The conditions which dictate a bonapartist regime to the bourgeoisie equally dictate a foreign policy which is in no way a policy of “resistance.” The social crisis of France acquires a particularly acute character precisely because of the change of its world position. But to see French capitalism or part of it “resisting” American or German imperialism and becoming democratic by virtue of this is to fall into error.

France’s crisis owes its extreme acuteness to the fact that a great power of the 19th century must accommodate itself to a second-rate position in the capitalist world of the twentieth century, because of the weakness of its economic base which has remained stagnant in the face of the development of new and younger powers. A retrogression of this type (like that occurring in Great Britain after its “victory” in the Second World War) does not only signify securing a camp stool in place of an armchair in the international conferences, but above all a considerable lowering of the national revenue, and therefore a considerable reduction in the standard of life, particularly for the working masses. The first luxury article that capitalism tries to eliminate under such circumstances is democracy. Well before 1939 big capital in France understood that it could no longer claim a seat of great power as in the past. It had to find a protector for a future full of threats. Inertia had more or less kept it trailing behind British imperialism; but it was easy to see that the latter was also in serious straits although it had more reserves to hold out longer. To resist the revolutionary movements it was necessary to look elsewhere than London and its ailing democracy. Besides, French heavy industry had some special business reasons for orienting French capital towards German imperialism, which, with the coming to power of the Nazis moved forward with seven-league boots.

But if French capitalism turned its eyes towards German imperialism and was guilty of counter-revolutionary defeatism in 1940 in the interests of its domestic politics, it none the less sought to prevent those few cards which remained in its hand from being completely taken away, knowing that German imperialism was still far from having consolidated its positions and that it had not been able to secure any better ally than Italy. On the other hand an important section of French capitalism (finished goods, industries, luxury articles, tourist trade) could not because of its special interests neglect the American continent where it had its principal customers. As a result, French imperialism, pulled from opposite sides, endeavored to play an intermediary role between Germany and the United States immediately after the debacle of June 1940, hoping to be able to earn a small commission for this work. It hasn’t been forgotten that certain elements of American capitalism lent themselves for a time to this (Leahy mission). But when it became clear that the United States was intransigent toward German imperialism and the latter had no further chance of victory, this role of go-between was abandoned and the Bank of France and the Comités des Forges themselves became “resistant,” in their own fashion, of course. Billions were transferred to Algeria in the months preceding the occupation of North Africa by the Americans; the top French administration made contact with de Gaulle.

For a little more than a year, de Gaulle, as head of the government, while endeavoring from time to time to rattle his wooden sabre a bit, tried to reestablish this courtier’s policy, adopting it to the new principal powers, that is to say, the US and the USSR, and ignoring England. De Gaulle quickly signed a treaty of alliance with the USSR, but this document soon proved to be worthless, for Stalin, having nothing to get from de Gaulle, let him down in all the international conferences which have been held since then. In his recent visit to Washington de Gaulle obtained some loans for French economy (in which sufficiently important American business interests are involved) but he returned empty-handed from the political point of view. It took him less than a year to learn that it is one thing to play the role of arbiter between two weaker states and another thing for a small state to wish to maneuver between two great powers. General de Gaulle would have been able to learn something about this without having to experience it if he had addressed himself to certain ancient Polish colonels. Finally, de Gaulle who was openly attacked by a section of the French bourgeoisie for his policy of isolation has taken a small step towards England and the countries of Western Europe by proposing to create an association resembling one for the blind and the paralyzed.

Any way one may examine it this foreign policy of French capitalism is in no way “resistant” and, besides, there is nothing in it which predisposes the “Gaullists” to democracy.

If one studies the class relations in France, the bonapartist character of the de Gaulle government appears in the greatest clarity, since the day of “liberation” up to the elections of October 21,1945 and to the conditions created by them.

The liberation of Paris was accomplished under the leadership of the Comité National de la Resistance (CNR), whose mass base was constituted by the workers’ organizations (General Confederation of Labor, Communist Party, Socialist Party) and the militias composed in great part of worker members of these organizations. The CNR and more particularly the workers’ organizations, would have been able at this time to establish themselves in power, supporting themselves on the militias and the local committees of resistance. (These last represented in a bureaucratic fashion, and not democratically, the proletariat and the exploited masses in general.) In this period de Gaulle personally had very few real forces and would not have been able to oppose the CNR. As for the reaction and the old capitalist forces they were completely demoralized and disorganized and were hiding themselves. To save the capitalist regime thus left stripped bare, it was necessary from the very beginning to find something to cover it again and to camouflage it for the eyes of the masses. For this desired effect the uniform of a resisting general was used and they raised him as the representative of the nation, above classes, parties and groupings. In many respects this operation resembled that which occurred in February 1917 when the conciliators of the Petrograd soviet yielded the power, surrendering without firing a shot, to a provisional government without any real base.

It goes without saying that the bonapartism thus created has not at all the intention of leading too precarious an existence. It. seeks to create a base for itself while securing the complicity of the leadership of the political formations and others who, in the given period, canalize the class forces between which it tries to maintain itself.

Traitorous Working Class Leaders

From the very first de Gaulle had to obtain the collaboration of the leaders of the parties which included the working class in order to accomplish the dissolution of the militias, the submission of the local committees of resistance to the organizations of the old bourgeois states as well as a unification of all the armed forces under the control of the government artificially created by these leaders themselves. Despite the support of the traitorous leaders, this operation took several months to achieve.

Every bonapartist government in France has tried to create a base for itself in the peasantry; the army having been for a very long time a sort of protector of the middle peasantry (see The Eighteenth Brumaire in particular where Marx wrote “The uniform was the holiday costume of the peasant.”) In the new circumstances de Gaulle has remained faithful to the bonapartist tradition. Shortly after the Second World War when the countryside suffered from the manpower shortage and it was necessary to resort to the employment of prisoners of war for the tasks of trained workers, especially in the mines, de Gaulle attempted to maintain an army of one million men, that is, a standing army superior to those which France had preceding the years of re-armament and direct preparation for the war. Promises have been made to the peasantry, higher prices have been allowed for their products, etc., without much being accomplished, however, in the way of results, since the peasants need manpower, materials, livestock, seeds, manufactured products; since there is a shortage of all these things; and since the profits they can make on the black market cannot be used to obtain these things.

The elections which have just taken place provide one of the most striking proofs of the bonapartist character of the regime. Elections, a constituent, a parliament, a government responsible to an elected assembly, are so many disagreeable things for the general. He couldn’t throw all this into the garbage can. What he was interested in above all was to wield stable power which would not be at the mercy of an assembly. Look, he said, at the history of the Third Republic with its cascades of falling ministries. Thus he decided that simultaneously with democratic elections to elect an assembly on the bases of program and parties, there should be held a referendum in the nature of a plebiscite designed to deprive the elected assembly of the greater part of its rights and to preserve, on the other hand, the greater part of the power in his own hands. Upon the announcement of this referendum a number of the democratic politicians of France shouted “bonapartism.” Surely it was not a knowledge of Marxist literature on this question but very simply an elementary knowledge of the history of their country which led them to such declarations.

For a long time the French bourgeoisie has sought to resolve a problem that the years have made as insoluble as squaring the circle. It wanted “a strong state,” in part to insure the defense of its frontiers, but mainly to hold in check the domestic enemy, the working class; but all the same, it did not wish this state to become too strong, for each time that it has permitted the state to entrench itself too strongly, it quickly found its own posterior in contact with the military boots. To assure themselves that the state would not be further disturbed by political conflicts, the generals evinced an intention to transform the whole country into a barracks and to deprive everyone, including the bourgeoisie themselves, of political rights. This is the essential reason why even the most reactionary and personally arbitrary democratic politicians of the Third Republic, notably Clemenceau and Poincairé, opposed and fought vigorously against the interference of the generals in politics. But that is already ancient history.

In the October 21 elections the end of the democratic regime was incontestably demonstrated by the inglorious foundering of the principal formation of the Third Republic, the Radical party, which had dominated and been maintained in every possible and imaginable way by that Republic. In Whither France Trotsky showed among other things that the policy of the Popular Front, the alliance of workers’ organizations with the Radical party, was going in a direction directly contrary to the development of the situation, that is to say, to the decomposition of bourgeois democracy and of its principal party, that of the Radicals.

But the voting has created a situation in which bonapartism is literally under one’s nose. The double vote of October 21 — the democratic elections and the plebiscite — has resulted in the most desirable situation for a general of the coup d’etat.

Votes Almost Equally Divided

In the elections for the Constituent Assembly, the votes were pretty nearly equally divided between three parties: the Stalinist Party followed by a majority of the proletariat and by an important layer of the petty bourgeoisie of the towns and countryside; the Socialist Party, with a minority of the proletariat (without however losing its working class base in northern France) and a very great number of petty bourgeois votes. Finally the Mouvement Republicain Populaire (MRP), organized by Catholic politicians, who before the war flirted with the Popular Front and during the war participated in the resistance, but who were always solid pillars of the capitalist regime. In return, they received on October 21 all the votes of the reactionaries who have realized that they had no chance at all under their old colors.

The plebiscite is such a model stratagem that you can say without fear of deception it could only have been conceived beneath the kepi of a general. A direct question for or against de Gaulle would never have given the desired result, for the present day bonapartism is too weak to intimidate the voters.

Therefore guile was necessary. It was decided to pose two questions instead of one. (They even dreamt for a moment of posing three to do the job better.) To the first question there was no doubt that, save for a tiny minority of greybeards, everyone was going to reply Yes; the Third Republic is dead. To say Yes to the first question was to influence many voters to say Yes to the second question; besides it is easier to say Yes than No even in a referendum. It sufficed to wrap the second question in fine-spun language to finish the sowing of confusion. The result was a majority of about 60 percent of the votes for de Gaulle, who on the strength of this will receive the post of head of the government from the new assembly.

What is going to happen? De Gaulle, feeling strong with 13,000,000 votes behind him, does not have to share counsel with anyone. Before him is an assembly with three parties of practically equal numbers, and a perspective of new elections in nine months. They will all maneuver with each other. The Assembly and also the ministry in which the representatives will find each other again, will have to submit to the arbitration and will of General de Gaulle. All that resembles parliamentarism and democracy is going to be discredited in quarrels and in impotence; but there will always be a general to restore order!

At least for the most immediate future, the French government will be composed of representatives of the three parties. The Socialist party which cannot play the role of bonapartism is in the most difficult position. It evidently does not wish to form a government with the Stalinists alone (the latter strongly indicated this possibility the day after the elections, because they were sure that the socialists would not take it into consideration; the Stalinists kept insisting strongly and will do nothing to realize it). The Socialist party can no more, under the present conditions form a ministry with the MRP, leaving the Stalinists in the opposition. [1]

As for de Gaulle, it is evidently all to his advantage to make the ministry a nest of intrigues and disputes by introducing into it members of the three parties, which will contribute to discredit them and to reinforce his personal position. It is quite possible, as the Stalinists do not wish to conduct too “revolutionary” a policy and the MRP not being able to adopt too soon an openly reactionary attitude, that the crisis will not open in the very first days. But it is not the desire of the politicians — in or out of uniform — which regulates the development of events. The class conflicts will not fail at an early date to place the political problems on a razor’s edge.



1. Before the elections, Leon Blum, who couldn’t fail to see the bonapartial danger, endeavored as is his custom to exercise it by sophisms. At first affirmed that a referendum is not necessarily a plebiscite — which is true; he added that the October 21 referendum would not be one — which was false, for its object was a vote of personal confidence and very large prerogatives to de Gaulle. Finally Blum, taking into account that the elected constituent would formally have the right to change, in very difficult conditions, the head of the government, decided that for that reason he should remain at the disposition of this assembly. No more than de Gaulle did he present himself to the will of the voters, and tried to a certain degree to hold himself above the parties, including his own party.

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