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Paul G. Stevens

In the World of Labor

(5 May 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 30, 5 May 1939, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

French Teachers Uphold Militant Anti-War Tradition

These days bear witness to the fact that history does repeat itself. Sadly enough, little seems to have been learned by humanity as a whole to take advantage of the repetitions quickly. It is all the more gratifying to find that certain sections of it have at least not unlearned their correct reaction to events such as are recurring now in new form. Among the teachers of France a strong tendency is today repeating the valiant anti-war stand of the unionized teachers during the last war. It is still a minority today, but substantial enough to carry important local unions like that of the Ardeche region by big majorities.

The Teachers Union of the Ardeche has recently adopted resolutions which not only denounce the war preparations of the French bourgeoisie in the abstract, but also call for concrete resistance to the campaign of the government which is enrolling the educational personnel of the country in the war machine under the sign of “passive defense.”

“The (Ardeche) section,” says one of the resolutions, “true to its past of intransigent struggle against war, affirms that ‘passive defense’ is a sinister deceit and that it is meant to lead to nothing else but passive acceptance of war. The section calls upon the national union to denounce most energetically the criminal lie of ‘passive defense’; it protests against the scandalous attitude of the C.G.T. (the General Federation of Labor) and the Federation of Functionaries who are not only, not doing anything in this sense, but on the contrary, are complacently doing the dirty work for the General Staff ...

“Its attention having been drawn to the Ministerial Circular of February 4 relative to the teaching of ‘passive defense’, the section contests the right of the minister to introduce new teaching material by means of a simple circular announcement into the schedule; remarks that no legal compunction exists obliging the teaching personnel to participate in the teaching of ‘passive defense’; observes that the application of the Ministerial Circular leads to a militarization of academic life similar to that practiced in the totalitarian states ... etc.”

At the National Council meeting of the union early in April, the organized minority called for similar action, proposing in addition, a public propaganda campaign to be conducted by the union in its traditional anti-war spirit.

The resolution of the minority recalls the past actions of the union against capitalist war and continues:

“The particular task of the teachers is to revive the hatred of the popular classes against the war which become impossible the day on which the proletariat refuses its consent or simply its resignation to it ...

“(The union) denounces energetically the imperialist character of the present international tension which is laying the ground for a conflict between various capitalist group interests camouflaged as ideological blocs ... Reaffirms its complete hostility to the threatening war and refuses to follow the lead of the governments engaged in a policy of intense preparation for the massacre.”

Of course, the bureaucratic machine succeeded in defeating the resolution and the practical motions flowing from it, but the agitation along the lines described is widespread among the teachers and through them, reaches vast layers of the working population.

* * *

Two New Revolutionary Organs: In France and in Argentina

In recent weeks two new publications have seen the light of day which are in every sense powerful contributions to the international arsenal of revolutionary Marxism. They are the magazine La Voie de Lenine in France and the newspaper La Internacional in the Argentine.

Both publications are well balanced and full of the punch that revolutionary papers should have. We greet them heartily into our midst and wish them the success that their efforts surely deserve.

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