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Paul G. Stevens

Events on the International Scene

(15 March 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. XII No. 11, 15 March 1948, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

New Social Crisis Brewing in France

A new social crisis, overshadowing the events of last November and December, is brewing in France. Both the increased diplomatic tension between US-USSR as well as internal unrest resulting from the devaluation of the franc are bringing matters to a head.

Making a bid for popular backing to set up an authoritarian regime, General Charles de Gaulle said in a speech at Compiègne last Sunday, “we are in one of those periods where everything is going to be decided.”

First dispatches indicate that his demagogic appeal for a “government above the parties” and of “social justice,” coupled with a direct call for U.S. military aid against Russia was received “not with the wild enthusiasm he roused at the time of liberation.” In other words, rather coolly. It is also noted that he “seemed to disdain the elections that he formerly desired.”

Indeed there has been a considerable decline of the de Gaulle movement, particularly in the electoral field. In a recant column we mentioned the by-election at the Parisian suburb of Malakoff as indicating this trend. It was further confirmed several weeks later in a by-election at the city of Versailles. In both the de Gaullists lost heavily. The Communist Party showed substantial gains. Therein lies the reason for the general’s cooling off on the parliamentary offensive he began with his victory in last October’s municipal contest.

The CP forces have also recouped some of their losses in the trade unions. In contests for job stewards held in all the mines and printing establishments, for instance, the Stalinist-led General Federation of Labor defeated by enormous majorities the reformist “Force Ouvrière” Federation.

What the French masses following the CP want is shown by a renewed wave of short walkouts taking place in many industries. All have as their objective new wage adjustments in line with the devaluation of the franc. The government is resisting the workers’ demands. Their slim majority in parliament (the latest tax bill got through by barely three votes last Monday) already threatened. The new wage movement is bound to culminate once again in revolutionary action.

A new social crisis is thus inevitable. The menace of a de Gaullist coup, backed by Wall Street, cannot be dismissed in spite of the movement’s parliamentary decline. This danger is reinforced by the Stalinist policy of chauvinism and inaction on class struggle issues. De Gaullists are reported to be penetrating the “Committees for the Defense of the Republic” organized by the CP in a daring tactic to challenge its “nationalism.” On the other hand, great ferment is reported in the ranks of the CP itself for revolutionary line.

The outcome of the crisis that is brewing depends upon whether a new leadership will be able to risk to challenge the Stalinists for the allegiance of the working class. Recent steps toward the development of such a revolutionary leadership have been reported in these columns. Negotiations for the unification the Trotskyist International Communist party (PCI), the Socialist Youth and the Revolutionary Socialist Action group – both of which split away from Blum’s Socialist Party last year – have been inidei way for some time. Now these three organizations are approaching two new groups for unification. One is the group around the weekly Bataille Socialiste, expelled from the Blum’s party for demanding a bloc with the CP. The other is grouped around the daily Franc Tireur which broke with the Stalinists on the issue of unity with the Socialists.


The official French news agency reports opening of a trial of 17 “extremist Republicans” implicated in the abortive uprising of July 1945, the highlight of which was the abduction of Sultan Sjahrir, Prime Minister of the Indonesian Republic at that time. It adds that “the Communist leader of Trotskyist tendency, Tan Malakka, who is considered the main instigator ... does not feature in the trial and is awaiting judgment in the Bjokjakarta prison.”


No. 1 of the illegal Workers Struggle, organ of the International Communist Party (Trotskyist) has appeared. The reactionary Athens government had banned it as well as the party. A letter reports that among the soldiers held “under suspicion” at the concentration camp on Makronisi Island there are several members of the party, including a member of its Central Committed. Three other Trotskyists have been sentenced to long prison terms. The white terror is being intensified in the whole country.

A Footnote on Czechoslovakia

In its current issue; one of the Ichabod Cranes of the Shachtmanite Labor Action writes two ranting columns against our coverage of the Czech events. We didn’t follow the line of the capitalist press in merely howling about the “rape” of Czechoslovakia, as they did. Guilty!

Instead, we sought to piece together the underlying class significance of the developments, which were obscured by the Wall Street propaganda machine. One would think this was the duty of a labor paper. But then their paper is misnamed. They should change it to Democratic Action. What else can one conclude from our Ichabod’s final stumping question: “Are you for a democratic struggle against the Gottwald dictatorship, or would you stand with its opponents?”

Which opponents of the Stalinists? That’s the question for us. We stand with the working-class opponents of Gottwald, as of Beirut in Poland. With whom do the Schachtmanites stand? With the Czech equivalents of Mikolajzik? They would do better to look “for their own lost heads and re-read their own issue of March 2, where, at long last, “Mikolajzik’s Role” is “Exposed.”

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