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Pierre Frank

First Fruits of Gaullism

(Autumn 1958)

From Fourth International (Paris), No. 4, Autumn 1958, pp. 28–33.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

The two most important events so far under the de Gaulle regime have been: the September 28th referendum, with its landslide vote; and his manoeuvre in Algeria with a view to the coming legislative elections.

1: The Slump in CP Votes

That the referendum of September 28th would produce a “yes” majority had been generally foreseen, it only confirmed the success of the May 13th coup and de Gaulle’s coming to power. But that the majority of the “yes”-votes in France amounted to 80% constituted a general surprise both for the government and for all formations, from the right to the left. Such a result could be explained neither by the extent of the official propaganda nor by measures of police pressure – after all, this was not Algeria.

What caused this 80% vote is the fact that, to the general surprise, a very large number of traditional electors of the Communist Party voted “yes.” This is a fact recognized by all, including the leadership of that party. In the report he presented to the Central Committee in the name of the Political Bureau, Servin admitted that

not just a million Communist electors voted yes, but more, [...] it concerned not only electors recently won over in January 1956, but often electors who had long voted Communist, [...] it is the first time since the Liberation that such a phenomenon has occurred, [...] the Communist electors who voted “yes” do not always belong to the middle classes – far from it, [and that there must be noted] noticeable losses in workers’ areas and often in the most wretched areas of all.

All these statements are correct and it can even be said that the “more” than one million losses is of the order of one and a half million votes.

But with Servin it is a long way from these correct observations to explanations thereof. More exactly, he gives various more or less superficial explanations, but he does not go to the bottom of the problem, while here and there letting some truths slip out.

The “Yes” and the “No” of It

Servin examines why people of different opinions – electors of the left, Communist electors – voted “yes.” At no moment does he ask himself who the “no”-voters are. Now only by beginning there, is it be possible to understand the intensity of the shift which took place.

The “no” votes comprised – apart from a very small number of bourgeois and petty-bourgeois democrats – essentially that part of the French population – workers, intellectuals, and members of the middle classes – who are for Socialism: Communists, Socialists, trade-unionists, organized by or gravitating around the workers’ organizations, politicized elements who do not follow the big organizations just because of their immediate slogans but because they see in them centres of organization, bulwarks, for the extension of the struggle for socialism. This whole politicized part of the population had understood the great danger constituted by the new regime, and that is why it demonstrated in some force, as in Paris on September 4th. Those 4,600,000 “no” votes represent the part of the population which does not float as a consequence of this or that political pressure or circumstance.

On the contrary, those (especially Socialists and Communists) who have voted left since the Liberation and who said “yes” to de Gaulle on September 28th, are those who have been carried along by circumstances, by immediate aspirations or slogans of the parties, but who have not been won over by them to the cause of socialism, and who now have been thrown by similar aspirations and past disillusions into the arms of the reaction and dictatorship.

“Humiliated In Their National Pride ...”

In his own way Servin, wanting to defend the policy of his party, made a striking expose of it.

Significant [...] is the result of the plebiscite in departments like the Meuse and others, where the party made considerable gains in 1956 thanks to its fight against the CED and revengeful German rearming.

Servin insisted, just as the Communist Party has not ceased doing for many years, upon the “national character” of his party’s policy, in opposition to a “policy of unconditionally lining up with the desires of the State Department” which has compromised “national independence and grandeur.” Then he observed that “for millions of Frenchmen humiliated in their national pride by the servility of preceding governments, de Gaulle has appeared as the guarantor of national grandeur and independence.” But he did not ask himself why, among those millions of Frenchmen, almost one and a half millions, after placing their trust in the French CP, are turning toward de Gaulle.

In reality, into the vote of September 28th there enters much less humiliated “national pride” than Thorez thinks, and – as we shall see further on – a great desire for a change in all the conditions of existence. To the degree, however, to which a petty-bourgeois part of the population had been won over to the French CP by means of patriotic chauvinist arguments about national grandeur, and as this party has done nothing – quite the contrary – to educate these people in the direction of socialism, it is completely normal that at a given moment they saw in de Gaulle a better champion of “national pride” than Thorez and Duclos.

Imperialist Contamination

This “national” propaganda has served Gaullism all the more in that the leadership of the French CP also has a “national” attitude towards the struggle of the colonial peoples. It never stops talking about the “national interests” to be defended in the countries colonized by French imperialism. At this juncture, the “national interests” in Algeria and elsewhere are, as Marx and Lenin have taught, the interests of the ruling class, i.e., French capitalism. The only interests of the French working class in these regions of the globe lie in the victory of the colonized peoples and in the defeat of French imperialism. In order to defend the “national interests” in Algeria and elsewhere, electors won over to the French CP by its chauvinist propaganda in the past have finally given their preference to de Gaulle.

Thorez devoted a considerable part of his speech in the Central Committee to condemning the methods that the FLN has used in France, implying that they were responsible for a large number of “yes” votes. Thorez was trying to keep as far away from the FLN as possible, as if that would prevent the bourgeoisie from setting up provocations or manufacturing counterfeits as it may need them at the proper moment. But Thorez’s speech was a new blow that will weaken the already slight enough sense of solidarity of the French working class with the Algerian revolution. Thorez gave great lessons in Marxism to the revolutionary Algerians, and reminded them of the Bolsheviks’ condemnation of the Social-Revolutionaries; but he forgot to make a far more valid comparison, that with the Resistance under the German occupation. In his speech Thorez permitted himself to say that part of the working class is “contaminated” by imperialist ideology – which is true enough, but ... he contributed to it and is still doing so. Concerning the past policy of the French CP, we refer our readers to the declaration made by the French Federation of the FLN on this subject. [1] Concerning the present, what else does this attack of Thorez mean if not that the Algerians do not have the right to attack French imperialism on its own territory? Is that not a contamination by imperialist ideology, simply by a capitulation to the opinion of French petty-bourgeois who have not been disturbed by the tortures committed in Algeria against the Algerian people, but who get indignant about anything in France itself that might upset their digestion?

The Desire for a Change

The most important of the reasons furnished by Servin for the extent of the “yes” votes is “the will among our people for a real change,” to which is added “the unquestionable discredit of a parliamentarism which appears in the eyes of the great masses to be the cause of the miseries of the country and of the people.” We completely agree on this point. The masses were disgusted with the Fourth Republic. But Servin does not ask himself why, under those conditions, masses who previously put their trust in the PCF no longer trusted in it to ensure this change.

It might indeed seem to be surprising that the masses’ desire for a change did not show itself in a way that profited a party which calls itself communist, i.e. whose basic programme is that of the greatest and most profound change that can be brought to humanity; a party which swears only by the Soviet Union where gigantic changes have been accomplished in the course of the 40 years since the October Revolution. How explain that the masses’ desire for a change was not demonstrated in favor of this party, and even turned away from it in favor of a general who sees France in the world as she was two or three centuries ago?

”To Slant French Policy ...”

The explanation is rather simple. The French Communist Party hailed the Five-Year Plans and the Sputnik, but the policy it proposed for France was at most a reformist policy. There could be no question for this party, at least since the Liberation, of fighting for socialism in France; one had to be satisfied with petitions, parliamentary proceedings, and pressures – the whole constituting “a line which had chosen as its goal the slanting of French policy,” as Servin himself defined it. And lastly, it is perhaps useful to recall that at the Central Committee session following de Gaulle’s coming to power, in June of this year, the leadership of the French Communist Party limited the slogans just to the “defense of the Republic” and condemned proposals to put forward the idea of a Constituent Assembly, of a programme, as proposals likely to “divide the left.”

Thus we reach one of the profound reasons for the loss of numerous workers’ votes, including – as Servin recognized – “in the most wretched areas.” A very large number of poor people, of wretched people, have in fact for many years expressed their dissatisfaction with their lot and their aspirations for a better life by voting for the French CP , which appeared to them as the party capable of bringing about great changes, great transformations, as in the USSR. And then, as the years went by, they perceived that this party talked a lot but that instead of trying to bring about a great social change, it wanted only to “slant” French policy: those masses, not highly educated politically, have certainly not used this term of Servin’s, but they have understood very well the substance of what it is expressing. “To slant” means to modify slightly within the framework of the regime, not to overthrow it. And so it is not surprising that after all, at the moment of a great social clash, hundreds of thousands of non-politicized people abandoned this party and let themselves be taken in by a general who was not talking about “slanting” policy, but about sweeping away the whole “system.” For these masses the French CP no longer appeared as a factor of change, while de Gaulle appeared to them as capable of bringing about the change they were looking for.

It’s the Fault of the Others!

If we leave aside some incidental reasons furnished by Servin, such as the Hungarian events (it was not far from being Rajk’s and Nagy’s fault that the French CP lost so many votes), another reason alleged as major was the “division of the left.” Servin attributed this to the anti-communist propaganda of the bourgeoisie and to the persistence of anti-communism on the part of the other formations that appealed to vote “no.”

Once more, for the leadership of the French CP, everything bad that happens is the fault of others. This is at best a simplistic argument. Does Servin believe that some day capital will renounce its anti-communism? Does he also think that capital will not find any more Guy Mollets at its disposal? Does he even think that the sincere reformists – and there are such people – will abjure their reformism? In this case, the role of the Communist Party would be very simple indeed. The value of a genuine communist leadership must show itself precisely in its capacity to promote a genuine united-front policy which brings the masses into action and thus to force at least a part of the Social-Democratic leadership to follow the current of the masses. Now the leadership of the French CP was more and more incapable of ensuring such a policy. The leadership of the French CP had lost the confidence of a considerable proportion of the Communist voters; how can it be supposed that at the same time it could exercise an attraction on those who previously were more or less hostile towards it? The leadership of the French CP must lay the fault at its own door if the manoeuvres of the bourgeoisie and of its agents such as Guy Mollet succeeded.

Immediately after September 28th, Servin wanted to justify once more the March 12th 1956 vote for the special powers, under the pretext of driving the Socialists into a corner, to see whether Guy Mollet would respect his January 2nd 1956 contract with the voters. Worse confusion cannot be imagined. The contract of January 2nd was for peace in Algeria. The project voted on March 12th was “pacification,” i.e., war in Algeria. On March 12th there was not “division” but “union” of the left, Communists included, on the parliamentary plane, to give the army a free hand in Algeria. The united front on the contrary would have required at that moment a policy in the direction of the masses, calling them boldly to action against the war of Algeria. It would especially have required unreserved support to those demonstrations of draftees which were occurring over the whole territory of France. But at that moment the leadership of the French CP – perhaps in order to permit Guy Mollet to respect his contract? – denounced the demonstrations as the work of provocateurs. So what was then contract of the leadership of the French CP with the voters and how was it kept? It would not be surprising if, among the “yes” voters, there are alas not a few young men who participated in those draftees’ demonstrations and who were in this way left to themselves or rather abandoned to the propaganda of the general staff.

The Correct Line and Bad Contacts

Servin went ahead nevertheless with a certain self-criticism, a very cautious one, in the following terms:

It is an unquestionable fact that almost one and a half million Communist electors voted “yes” and we had not felt it coming – not to mention the sentiments animating non-Communist layers. In a word, that means that our contacts with the masses sometimes are not what might be desired, and that this was the case during the campaign of the plebiscite. It seems that we do not always know how to listen to what is going on among the masses.

Starting from there, Servin went on to give good advice to the members of the party – to make the trade unions, the Peace Movement, the Tenants’ Federation, etc etc.. function – as if the defeat of September 28th were due just to incapacity in this field.

But first of all, what allows Servin to say that relations with the masses are only sometimes not what might be desired, as during the referendum campaign? Servin dared say: “We do not always know how to listen to what is going on among the masses.” But if the members of the Political Bureau and of the Central Committee knew how to listen even just to the rank-and-file militants of their own party instead of bludgeoning them up and down and sideways with the “always correct line,” they would have known for quite a while that the contacts of their party with the masses are even less than might be desired. For several years already, while the number of votes of the French CP still remained steady, the party was incapable of mobilizing the masses for an action on its own slogans – not to speak of the no-longer successful petitions, the skeletonic public meetings, the absenteeism from cell meetings, and diminishing membership.

Contacts with the masses had deteriorated a long time ago; that is a fact which every serious militant of the French CP has observed. But that raises the question for a party which, like the French CP, has had the confidence of the majority of the working class since the end of the war: just what is the difference between its line and its relations with the masses? We confess that we are unable to figure out just where this difference might be found. A party already possessing the confidence of the masses must find the slogans capable of mobilizing them: that is what a correct line is. Given the differences between a referendum and elections, it is not excluded that the candidates of the French CP win back votes in the November elections; but we can be sure that, in the best of cases, the recovery will be slight. In reality, September showed that the contacts of the French CP with the masses were bad, and not only at that moment; it produced with the force of the figures, the result, the final upshot, of the whole policy of the French CP since the Liberation, i.e., the condemnation of this “always correct line.”

The Relationship of Forces

Servin’s account began with a picture of the steady worsening of the situation since the Communists were eliminated from the government in 1947. If Servin is asked how this could happen, he answers that there was a big plot fomented by the Americans and carried out by Auriol and Ramadier. But in January 1946, it was de Gaulle who had to withdraw from the government; and this fact Servin explains by the strength of the workers. He even stated that at the Liberation there was “a relationship of forces favorable to the working class.” (It was not exactly that which was brought up in 1952 for fighting Marty and expelling him from the French CP.) But Servin forgot to say what contributed to a deterioration in the relationship of forces. The bourgeoisie, the Socialist leaders such as Ramadier? Once more, they were only playing their part. A mass party cannot attribute its setbacks and defeats’ as above all due to others, to enemies. The servants of the bourgeoisie were able to play their roles more easily because they were helped by the leadership of the French CP: was it not Thorez who, at Ivry in 1945, made an appeal to the workers to turn in their arms, to dissolve their committees, because there should be “only one police, only one army, only one state”? The army of Salan and Massu, the police of Soustelle and Dides, the state of de Gaulle ...

Sic the Oppositionals!

The keynote of the whole report of Servin was defensive – the CC resolution even feels the need of justifying, and what is more, in pitiable terms, “the existence and the activity” of a Communist Party! – except when he began to speak of the oppositionals inside the party. The “inefficiency” of the party should not be brought into question, because this was a “convenient theme, both for absolving the Socialist Party from its responsibilities and sometimes also for putting one’s feet in one’s slippers.” Why? Nobody knows. On the contrary, everyone can easily understand that, if someone starts by becoming aware of the party’s inefficiency, he can, without any intellectual subtlety, go on to examine the value of the party’s policy and the value of its leadership.

It is probable that the leadership of the French CP still has a sufficiently strong apparatus to keep control of the party, but at what a cost. We repeat: the defeat of September 28th is not episodical; it is not only a defeat of the CP’s policy; it is also a defeat of the toiling masses. And a continuation of the policy followed by the French CP, if it does not run up against a strong opposition from its rank-and-file militants, can only lead the French CP, and under the present circumstances the working class as well, to new defeats and even to a catastrophe.

“New Perspectives”

“The result of the plebiscite,” Servin declared, “cannot fail to produce a shock, which might be negative if we do not give legitimate reasons for confidence, if we do not show new perspectives.”

New perspectives? But would that not be a new line? Don’t worry – or, on the contrary, worry more than ever: the new perspectives differ from the old ones in very few things, just a pinch more of opportunism.

It is obviously easy for Servin to say that de Gaulle will run up against great difficulties in Algeria, in Negro Africa, and in the economic field: everybody knows that, from one end to the other of the French and international political chess-board. The changes which he will introduce will not be to the liking of the toiling masses who voted for him on September 28th. But that does not mean that the masses will easily turn against him and that, after they said “yes,” it will be enough for them to be simply requested to say “no” to make de Gaulle and the dictatorship go away. There will have to be a policy – that is to say, slogans, a perspective, means for fighting, and organizational forms to rally the discontent of the masses and at the given moment to transform it into action.

Slogans? Obviously there are in the programme of the French CP slogans for the defense of the masses’ standard of living and of democratic liberties. But already there is a retreat on the question of Algeria and Negro Africa: the “right to independence” is scarcely mentioned, what is particularly emphasized is the “new relationship” between France and those countries which are not yet independent. On the international plane there is the eternal jawing about relaxation ,of tension, disarmament, and other things that are illusions in the present world.

But it is above all on the plane of political prospects that the new perspectives resemble the old ones. The masses want a change. The French CP promises them, as in the past, “the renewal of democracy,” “a strong and stable republican government.” To justify the continuation of a policy of class collaboration with the Mendès-France wing of the bourgeoisie, the CC resolution claims that the loyal support given by the Communists to the People’s Front government in 1936, the participation of the Communists in the government until 1947, brought the people their greatest social conquests in a quarter of a century.

This is putting things really upside down. All the social conquests were obtained by the action of the masses (the occupation of the factories in 1936, the Resistance and the movements at the Liberation). In both cases the bourgeoisie used the workers’ leaderships (Socialist and Communist) to dam up the movement of the masses, to prevent them from flooding beyond the limits of the capitalist regime, and to re-establish capitalist order. After that, the capitalists drove out of the government the ministers of the workers’ parties who had finished their chores; they even liquidated bourgeois democracy in 1939 and in 1958 because it does not permit the capitalists to direct the country as suits their convenience.

The leadership of the French CP proposes quite simply to recommence the operation a third time in the future, by coming to an agreement from now on with the bourgeois candidate assigned for this purpose. Mendès-France says openly that the administration of de Gaulle contains the greatest dangers for the capitalist regime and he is presenting himself as a reserve bourgeois leadership.

We are here touching on the crucial problem. It is evident that the loss of bourgeois democracy will sooner or later awaken in the masses a nostalgia for democratic liberties, and it is indispensable to put forward democratic slogans. But within what context should this be done? The experiences of France since 1934 are merely added to all the other experiences between the two wars (Germany, Austria, Spain, Italy). When, in the era of declining capitalism, the old bourgeois democracies cannot continue, the capitalists turn to the “strong state.” As for the non-politicized masses, their disappointment with bourgeois democracy makes them turn – for lack of a socialist solution boldly put forward by the workers’ parties – towards “providential men” who are at the service of capital and who practise dictatorial and reactionary policies. This question of perspectives will serve as a touchstone both for those in the French CP who are opposed to its leadership, and to the militants of the new Autonomous Socialist Party (SFIO).

The 4,600,000 “no” votes represent, as we said above, that part of the toiling population that has been won for socialism, independently of the different conceptions and tactics which might divide them. It is a quite considerable force, on condition that it be really placed at the service of socialism. The only perspective which today can stimulate those opposed to the regime and permit them to get back the ear of the masses as the regime of de Gaulle gradually shows all its aspects, is precisely to say that the mistakes of the past will not be repeated, that the leadership of the state and of the economy will not be given back to other capitalist groupings, that capitalism will be expropriated, and that the construction of a socialist society will be begun – a society which will, naturally, not be in the Stalinist image where liberties and rights are concerned.

How to Fight de Gaulle?

The defeat of September 28th has rendered the leaders of the French CP more timorous than ever. “The popular masses, taught by their own experience and enlightened by the French Communist Party [...] will soon discover the real character of this Gaullist policy ,and will know how to find the means to fulfill their aspirations by democratic paths,” declares the resolution of the Political Bureau approved by the CC. So it is not the French CP that is showing them these ways; it is the masses themselves who are finding them? Well, we did not know that the leadership of the French CP had such confidence in the spontaneity of the masses. But let us pass over this point and see a little what these “democratic ways” will be. Thorez, in his speech in the Central Committee, specified: We shall not let ourselves be turned away from our 1946 theses, confirmed ten years later by our XIVth Congress, on the possibility of peaceful roads to pass over to socialism, and on the role that can be played by a genuine parliament, as the expression of popular sovereignty and based on the masses.

The French parliament has shown only that it was an excellent instrument for passing “legally” from bourgeois democracy to military dictatorship. Is it on the future puppet parliament of the Fifth Republic that the Thorez leadership is relying for re-establishing bourgeois democracy? Is it by petitions that it hopes to settle accounts with the paratroopers, the police clubs, the concentration camps established as a sort of house-warming for the new constitution?

The old-time democrats of the bourgeoisie’s revolutionary period had audacity quite other than that of Thorez and Servin. They did not hesitate to say that the revolutionary struggle, the insurrection, was the supreme democratic means, the means of a people against tyranny. But from the Jacobins to the present workers’ leaders, what a long way it is! And from Marx, who saw in force “the great midwife of society,” those so-called Bolsheviks have gone over to Bernstein who, at the beginning of the century, claimed already to have found “painless childbirth” of societies by parliamentary ways.

If one wants really to fight against de Gaulle, it is necessary to begin by educating the militants and the masses in a spirit of revolutionary struggle for power.

For a New Revolutionary Leadership

The September 28th referendum is the sharpest condemnation of a leadership which twelve years ago had won the confidence of the majority of the working class and which through its opportunist policy has repelled one and a half million of its voters towards a Bonapartism of a most grotesque form. Just when part of the Socialist leaders are breaking with Guy Mollet, when there is thus being manifested the very beginning of a renewal of the workers’ movement, the leadership of the French CP demonstrates more than ever its inability to engage in self-criticism, to grasp even to a slight extent the responsibilities it bears in the defeat. It sinks still more into lining up with the bourgeois politicians who are getting ready to be the Newfoundlands of capitalism when the Fifth Republic goes down. This policy is fatal for the workers’ movement. Before possibly being able to bring about a precarious “renewal of democracy,” it will permit the Gaullist regime to beat down the workers’ movement all the more brutally, to decimate the organizations, to destroy a great number of workers’ cadres, precisely by still more disorienting the militants and failing to give them any realistic policy for fighting against this regime.

Whatever “the leadership of the French CP may do, this defeat will produce a crisis among the Communist militants. In the report of Servin there is not the slightest reply to the numerous agonizing questions they are asking themselves. This crisis is necessary and will be salutary if the Communist militants make the indispensable effort to return to the policy of Lenin, to eliminate a bankrupt leadership, and to create the conditions for democratic discussion in the workers’ movement necessary for the renascence of a new leadership to ensure the counter-attack.

2. De Gaulle’s Electoral Manoeuvres

The September 28th referendum strengthened de Gaulle’s position in France, but it did not settle anything whatever in Algeria; while in Negro Africa the position taken by Sekou Touré and the vote of French Guinea upset de Gaulle’s plans and created a situation that is still far from being unraveled.

In the first place, de Gaulle wants to use his success for the coming legislative elections, set for November 23rd and 30th, and for reaching a solution in Algeria. The danger for him here was a big victory for the pro-fascist right that claims to represent him, for this would shift the coming Assembly (however unimportant its place in things may be) too far to the right. In order to be the “arbiter,” he must arbitrate between people of opposed viewpoints: he wants to keep in his government Pflimlin and Guy Mollet as well as Soustelle and Pinay. The danger took a double form: in France itself an election in which the consolidated right would eliminate not only a large number of Communist deputies (which was also de Gaulle’s aim) but also many of Guy Mollet’s candidates; in Algeria an election under the control of the Public Safety Committees which would produce 70 “ultra” deputies, the men of Soustelle-de Serigny, and even still more “ultra” ones.

To obviate these dangers, the solution in France was quite simple: it was enough to institute a single-name ballot with two ballotings, which would favor what are called the “notables,” i.e., men having local positions, who have been elected for years on end, and would keep big political shifts extremely limited. To make the operation even surer, a gerrymandering of election districts was undertaken.

For Algeria, something quite different was needed. At the beginning of October de Gaulle made a speech at Constantine announcing a “five-year programme” for Algeria. In it the most dazzling promises were made about everything except land questions; financially, the war in Algeria should not be continued and the metropolis should devote to Algeria the capital normally invested at home. Even if a sight-draft were written against the future profits of Sahara oil, the demagogy was a bit thick, and could not make people forget that for Algerians there is first of all a political problem, that of their independence, and that it was not going to be solved by electing 70 ultras and “beni-oui-ouis” [equivalents of “Uncle Toms”].

And so de Gaulle decided to break up the Public Safety Committee which, created on May 13th, had continued, since his accession to power on June 1st, to exercise a sort of dual power in Algeria. To do this, he ordered the army officers to leave this committee. General Salan, who holds power in Algeria, was trying to get de Gaulle to modify his decision, but de Gaulle forestalled him by publishing it. The army officers yielded. In the Public Safety Committee, one part of the ultras tried to organize manifestations (general strike, demonstration in the Forum), but it all fizzled out like a damp squib. Thus once more it was shown that the May 13th coup could not have succeeded had it not been for the participation of the army.

De Gaulle also decided that the elections in Algeria should be “free” and that the army should stand aside from the election campaign. It is probable that de Gaulle means this decision seriously, for he would like, through the elections, to find “valid interlocutors”; for that purpose, it is rather more than likely that he has had indirect contacts with the provisional Algerian government so that the latter would permit certain Algerians to run. Even admitting that no obstacles were put in the way of de Gaulle’s intentions by the Algerian government (which is not at all certain), there are obstacles on the French side. De Gaulle has obtained from the French command the withdrawal of the officers from the Public Safety Committee. But bonds continue to exist, bonds which, albeit less official, are none the less real – all the more so in that it is not the members of the little fascist groups who are the real political brains. The men who count are Soustelle and de Serigny. They immediately understood that politically de Gaulle must not be publicly opposed; but they have plenty of means of intervening in the elections to cross up de Gaulle’s plans, and the principal means at their disposal is an important part of the army chiefs in Algeria.

It remains to be seen what de Gaulle’s manoeuvre will produce in the coming elections in Algeria; meanwhile, it had a considerable political effect in France: it dumbfounded everybody. The right is falling into step, while the aggressive democrats who voted “no” on September 28th now present the spectacle of saluting de Gaulle as the man who is going to make peace in Algeria. Even l’Humanité said that the whole country approves de Gaulle’s decisions. There can be no doubt that under these conditions political apathy is going to spread even further among the broad masses – which will free de Gaulle’s hands even more. The defeat of May 13th has not yet borne all its fruits.


1. See The French Communist Party and the Algerian Revolution in Fourth International, no. 2, Spring 1958.

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