Gordon Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Paul G. Stevens

Events on the International Scene

(22 March 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. XII No. 12, 22 March 1948, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Political Developments in France

We noted in last week’s column that negotiations were under way for the creation of a new party in France. We enumerated five organizations involved in these steps.

The coming social crisis in France, foreshadowed this week by a new wave of strikes in Northern France, is bound to heighten interest in this new movement. It is worthwhile to examine its component parts and their policies.

1. The best known of the five organizations is the Trotskyist Parti Communiste Internationale (PCI), French section of the Fourth International. The party made a name for itself during the war by its heroic fight against the Nazi occupation and for working-class internationalism. Its work in organizing revolutionary cells in Hitler’s army aroused admiration in the resistance movement.

After the “liberation” its vote in the election of 1945 and 1946 attracted international attention. Facing the Communist (Stalinist) Party at the height of its power, the PCI polled 60,000 votes in the contest for the National Assembly, while presenting only 20 lists of candidates out of a possible 80. Political commentators estimated on this basis that the Trotskyists had a voting strength of 250,000 in the country.

In April, 1947, members of the PCI were among the leaders of the great strike in the Renault automotive plant, which brought on the government crisis that forced the Stalinists out of the cabinet and precipitated the strike wave of last November–December.

“We declare ourselves prepared,” writes LaVerité, weekly paper of the PCI, “to participate in all discussions (with the other organizations involved) aiming at the elaboration of a general platform and a program of action for the coming revolutionary party. We propose that a discussion conference be organized among the various groups.”

2. The Jeunesse Socialist, or Socialist Youth, numbering several thousand revolutionary young men and women, broke away from the Socialist Party of Leon Blum shortly after the Renault strike. Climaxing a long struggle against the reformist leadership, it refused to accept, the discipline of Blum and Ramadier, the “socialist” head of the government at that time.

After preliminary discussions with the Trotskyists, the National Committee of the Socialist Youth adopted a resolution last January which declared: “The fundamental programmatic agreement existing between the JS and the PCI makes possible the fusion within a unified revolutionary party of these two organizations.”

3. The Action Socialiste Revolutionnaire (ASR), or Revolutionary Action Group, split away from the Socialist Party of Blum at a national conference last December, in the course of the strike wave of that month.. They opposed the strike-breaking conduct of the “socialist” ministers, and the splitting of the trade unions, as well as violations of convention decisions. The ASR, which included many industrial workers, made common cause with the Socialist Youth. Both have been collaborating on a joint weekly, the Drapeau Rouge (Red Flag).

The ASR held the same views as the Socialist Youth regarding unity with the PCI.

4. The Bataille Socialiste (Socialist Battle) group was expelled from Blum’s party last month for continuing its long campaign for a united front with the CP in its weekly paper which´ gives it its name. This group has long been headed by a pro-Stalinist leadership, but its rank and file has been attracted to the ASR and the JS rather than to the bureaucratized CP. Since the expulsion, its leaders have replied cautiously to proposals for. unification, but have conducted a violent campaign that smacks of GPU inspiration against Trotskyism. “We refuse,” they wrote in a recent issue, “all discussions with the Trotskyists. Our disagreements with them go back to the period of the (Nazi) occupation. At that time, we aided the resistance, while. they called for fraternization with the Nazi hordes as if it was possible to fraternize with them.”

5. Last of the five is the Regroupment Revolutionnaire Democratique, or Revolutionary Democratic Rally, formed last month by a group of socialist deputies, ex-Trotskyists, the existentialist philosopher, Jean Paul Sartre, and intellectuals, most of whom had been connected with the Paris daily Franc-Tireur. This paper, since its foundation during the resistance, has been close to the Stalinists, but recently aroused Stalinist ire by advocating a united front against de Gaulle between the CP and the SP. Its founding manifesto declared: “In view of the rottenness of capitalist democracy, the weaknesses and faults of a certain type of social democracy, and the limitation of communism to its Stalinite form, we believe that a rally of freemen can give new life to the principles of liberty and human dignity by binding them to the struggle for social revolution.”

The last two developments have caused a temporary halt in the previous trend toward unification of the PCI, the JS and the ASR. At recent meetings of the leading bodies of these last two organizations, resolutions were adopted calling for the immediate unification,, of the three groups, that have left the SP, leaving aside for the time being the question of the others. Strong minorities, however, favored continuing negotiations with the Trotskyists. The Socialist Youth of the Paris region has voted to form a joint organization with the youth organization of the PCI.

No matter what organizational steps are finally taken, it is evident that the question of program will have to occupy a leading place in the discussions. The attack of the pro-Stalinists on the PCI already poses in sharpest form the burning question whether the new party will stand for working class internationalism or for chauvinism.

Gordon Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 2 October 2020