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Paul G. Stevens

In the World of Labor

(24 March 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 18, 24 March 1939, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

New Recruits for Social Patriotism in France

Hitler’s latest “surprise,” swallowing nearly all that there was left of what was once Czechoslovakia, appears to have finally shattered the tender hopes of an understanding with him in French and British ruling circles. In France, Daladier is pushing through the Chamber of Deputies decrees giving him full dictatorial powers for eight months in anticipation of the inevitable clash with the Rome-Berlin axis.

While the social democrats under Blum and the Stalinists under Thorez grumble against this step and call for the “union sacrée” or national coalition cabinet, there is very little likelihood that they will go beyond that. They have prepared their following for just such moves as Daladier is now making.

The latter, taking a leaf out of Hitler’s book, knows that if you can get your opponents to accept a partial defeat without serious resistance, you can get them used to accepting greater defeats without any resistance at all. Blum, Thorez and the trade union leader Jouhaux have played right into the hands of this hatchetman of French imperialism from the very firist days of the “Popular Front.” They will support him with or without the official “union sacrée.”

Social reformism, Stalinism and the trade union bureaucracy have long been lined up for national defense, and their support of French imperialism has been virtually guaranteed. Now new recruits have come over to the side of social-patriotism from unexpected quarters. They are the leaders of the purely syndicalist tendency in the French trade union movement who go under the name of “Amis de Syndicats” or Friends of the Unions. Their chief stock in trade throughout their existence has been: Lay off politics! Under this banner, they had attacked the social democrats and the Stalinists, as well as Jouhaux, from the “left.” During the crisis last September, they were naturally against the war-mongering of the Stalinists. Since then, their fight against working-class participation in politics has taken them on strange paths – and into the camp of Chamberlain-Daladier “appeasement.”

At a recent banquet one of the syndicalist leaders, the general secretary of the Teachers Union, Delmas went so far as to say:

“If, for once, capitalism serves to stop a war, it will make up in part for the evils it has caused.”

Then he added:

“Huge armaments may well be the price of peace.”

The speech caused a sensation in France. Shortly after a manifesto issued by the group incorporating the same line appeared in the Petit Provencal, an organ of the reactionary Fernand Bouisson who is allied with the pro-Fascist group of former Premier Flandin. The paper commented enthusiastically on the manifesto. Now, when the “appeasement” policy culminates in war preparations under a dictatorial Daladier regime, the anti-political syndicalists, headed by Delmas, Belin and Co., can be said to have done their shares for the “union sacrée” equally well with the social democrats and the Stalinists.

As always in the past, the only consistent and reliable opponents of the social-patriotic wave in present-day France are the political revolutionists, those whose policies are based on Marxism. Any hope of resisting the war plans in France rests with the P.O.I. (the French Fourth Internationalists) and with the leftward development of the centrist P.S.O.P. (Socialist Workers and Peasants Party) which contains many excellent Marxist militants.

* * *

Paul Faure and His New Newspaper

Just a step ahead of the anti-political pacifists in this treacherous game is the “pacifist” minority of the S.F.I.O. (French Section of the Second International), led by Paul Faure who recently broke with Blum after a life-long collaboration.

Mr. Paul Faure’s enthusiasm for “appeasement” à la Daladier has led him to launch the publication of a newspaper called Le Reveil du Peuple (The Awakening of the People) co-jointly with ... one René Brunet, an associate of the reactionary George Bonnet, present Foreign Minister.

Where is the money for the enterprise coining from? The cry is raised in the French revolutionary press. The answer is obvious.

* * *

Another Blow at Our French Comrades

In addition to the persecutions directed by Daladier against our comrades Suzanne Charpy and Loret, reported here last week, a new court sentence has hit one of the leaders of the Revolutionary Socialist Youth (Fourth International), comrade Steve. Steve has been sentenced to six months imprisonment for a placard which appeared on the walls of Paris entitled. “This War Is Not Our War.”

* * *

Heavy Prison Sentences for Algerian Fighters

Among the preparations of the French imperialists for their fight against the “Fascist powers” is a savage attack against the political organizations of the oppressed in the colonies. The latest to come under their blows are the militants of the Algerian Popular Party. Twenty-three leaders of the party recently faced a mass trial and were given sentences averaging one year’s imprisonment each. Prominent among them was Ben Dahmane Amar, who was arrested in Paris last September and deported to Algiers.

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