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Albert Goldman

Elections Show French People
Want Socialism

(19 May 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 20, 19 May 1945, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The results of the recent municipal elections in France clearly indicate that the French workers are ready to struggle for a Socialist France. It also indicates that the French workers are still unaware of the fact that the party which they are supporting is the greatest obstacle to the victory of the European masses.

Forty percent of the voters of Paris supported the Stalinists. The industrial suburbs of Paris gave the Stalinist party a solid vote. There can be no explanation for the support the workers of France are giving that party other than that they still believe that this party is a revolutionary party representing the program of socialism for France and Europe.

That the victories of the Soviet army have brought the Stalinists great prestige can be admitted; that the valiant struggle which the Stalinists carried on against the German army of occupation, after Hitler attacked the Soviet Union, attracted the support of many workers, peasants and lower middle class elements to them can also be taken for granted. But it is difficult to believe that the French workers are voting for the Stalinist party simply because it is connected with the Stalinist army and fought against the German army of occupation. The main reason is that the French workers believe that the Communist Party stands for a struggle for socialism and for the solution of their problems in a socialist manner.

* * *

Upon the shoulders of the French workers rest the responsibility and burden that rested on the shoulders of the German workers in 1918. At that time Germany was the key to the European revolution. It had a wonderfully organized working class with tens of thousands of militants trained in the traditions of revolutionary socialism. Its industry was hardly touched by the war and although food was not plentiful there was enough to satisfy the hunger of the masses.

Germany Today

On the east of Germany was the Soviet Union. Its Red Army was not powerful and its industries were undeveloped. But its masses under the leadership of Lenin and Trotsky were ready to fight and die for the German Revolution as they fought and died for the Russian Revolution. So powerful was the German working class, so mighty was German industry that a revolution in Germany would have been followed immediately by revolutions in all of central Europe and in all probability in western Europe as well. Germany was indeed the key to the European revolution.

But now Germany can be said to be the key to the European Revolution only in the sense of its potential industrial capacity. German industry is ravaged, a great many of its militant worker-leaders dead, its land occupied by American, British and Stalinist armies. For the immediate period one can hardly expect Germany to be the key to the European revolution in the sense that one can expect a revolution in Germany and thus set into motion the workers of all of Europe.

* * *

France is the country which can be said to be the key to the European revolution in the sense that the workers in that country have the best opportunity to take power and to spread the revolution to the rest of Europe. A great number of French workers have fought in the resistance movements against the German army. In that struggle the workers have acquired militancy, experience and above all confidence in themselves. Everything indicates that they are anxious to proceed farther and take power into their own hands.

What stops them? The answer is clear. It is the Stalinist Party. In 1918, at the end of the First World War the Social-Democratic parties constituted the main barrier in the struggle of the workers to achieve power and build a socialist Europe. The majority of the workers followed the Social-Democratic parties. The young revolutionary parties did not succeed in winning the masses to their side.

In 1945 it is the Stalinists who control the decisive sections of the working masses. This has been proved in France during the municipal elections; this is probably true of Northern Italy and of Belgium. The conclusion is inescapable. To the extent that the Stalinist parties now have the support of decisive sections of the working class and could lead the workers to power, if they wanted to do so, to that extent they are playing the same counter-revolutionary role that the Social- Democrats played in 1918.

* * *

When one compares the present situation in Europe with the one that existed immediately following the First World War, one can note both advantages and disadvantages. The main factor that is unfavorable is that the Soviet Union is now under the control of Stalin who fears a successful revolution in western Europe because that would endanger the rule of the Stalinist bureaucracy Whereas in 1918 the workers could count with absolute assurance on help from the Soviet Union, at present the Soviet armies would help the imperialist armies crush the revolution.

Another unfavorable factor is the more aggressive, more powerful and more demagogic apparatus that the Stalinist parties possess in comparison with the Social-Democratic parties in 1918. The mere fact that the Stalinist parties have the support of the G.P.U. is a terrible danger to the militant workers.

One can say that the “Socialist” Government of Germany did not hesitate to use violence against the workers. Perfectly true. But it is also true that the Social-Democrats had to grant some democratic rights even to their revolutionary opponents. The Stalinists are more ruthless and will not hesitate to eliminate from the scene every militant worker opposed to their policies of betrayal. Right now in France the revolutionists of the Fourth International are hounded more by the Stalinists than by the official government.

French Workers

But the masses following the Stalinists are more militant and more conscious than the workers who followed the Social-Democrats in 1918. In general the workers who supported the Socialists subsequent to 1918 were not yet ready to take the path of Lenin and Trotsky. The workers who support the Stalinists do so in the main because they mistakenly believe that the Stalinists represent the traditions of the Communist International when it was led by Lenin and Trotsky.

On the basis of the fact that the masses are more revolutionary now than they were in 1918 we are justified in hoping that they will soon learn the real nature of the Stalinist parties. Aided by the propaganda of the French Fourth Internationalists the advanced workers in France should quickly learn that the path of power to the workers is in a direction directly opposite to that followed by the Stalinists.

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