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H.F. Roberts

French Fascists in Rally Say
‘Our Time Will Come’

(September 1935)

From New Militant, Vol. I No. 40, 28 September 1935, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

Last week the Croix de Feu, the principal Fascist organization in France, gave another of those sudden demonstrations of its strength in a series of surprise rallies around Paris and in other sections of the country. Upwards of 30,000 men listened to their leader, Colonel François Casinier de la Rocque who assured them: “Our time will come.”

The ability of the Croix de Feu to mobilize forces of this size with military precision and complete secrecy up to the very moment of the demonstration gives some idea of the latent forces of Fascism which are waiting their chance to take over power in France. Unlike some of the other, smaller Fascist organizations in the country, the Croix de Feu does not draw for its membership on declassed lumpen proletarians. Its ranks are made up principally of substantial petty bourgeois citizens drawn from the upper strata of the middle classes. Almost all its members are war veterans, and their sons, now in their early twenties, are organized in Les Volontaires Nationaux, the youth organization of the Croix de Feu.

Unlike the other Fascist groups, the Croix de Feu does not flaunt its armed bands but it is widely known that the Croix de Feu has not only built up large stocks of arms and ammunition but has also organized an air squadron credited with having nearly 100 planes. On one or two occasions arms caches of the Croix de Feu have been uncovered by police who have been drawn off the case as soon as the identity of the owners of the cache became known.

Supported by Finance Capital

De la Rocque enjoys the financial and political support of finance and heavy industrial capital. The Wendels and their Comité des Forges are the principal contributors to the Croix de Feu war chest. The organization is closely related to the French General Staff, a number of whose most prominent figures are actually in its ranks. The political power de la Rocque represents is already formidable. During the last cabinet crisis, which brought Laval into power, he was consulted in the inner governmental councils and was reported to have threatened to bring his forces out into the streets if any attempt was made to install a so-called left-wing government.

The Croix de Feu is the most serious Fascist movement in France. When the French bourgeoisie decides that the time has come to finish with the organizations of the working class, it will depend upon de la Rocque and his followers to do the job. He is equipped to do it not only by virtue of his connections with the General Staff but also through his close contact with the leading strata of the two great veterans’ organizations, the Union Nationale des Anciens Combattants and the Union Federale des Anciens Combattants whose membership runs up to a million and whose leadership is thoroughly Fascist in tendency and in connections.

Other Fascist Groups

Among these are the Camelots du Roi, the youth group affiliated to the Action Française, the royalist organization. These young blades mostly of the student type and drawing their support largely from the wealth of their families and the old ex-aristocracy, have had a long and active experience in street fighting against the workers. They have figured prominently in all street actions during the past ten years and they are well-armed with carbines and revolvers. They number now about 5,000. Another slightly smaller organization is that of Les Jeunesses Patriotes which used to have close connections with the army and which in years past has been utilized as a strikebreaking agency. It is now organized in the so-called “Front Nationale” together with a new and powerful organization known as La Solidarité Française. The latter maintains regularly trained armed bands counts no less than 10,000 in its ranks and has a powerful weapon in the Paris daily, Ami du Peuple, which is more or less its official mouthpiece.

Unlike the above-named groups, all of which would deny the appellation “Fascist,” the Francistes, who came into being about the time of the affair of February 6, 1934, openly and violently claim the honor of being the Fascists of France. They number some 5,000, most of whom are enrolled in armed bands which conduct a regular course of training in the art of civil war. They enjoy subsidies from a number of big capitalists and are generally credited with accepting subsidies from the propaganda agencies of both Hitler and Mussolini for carrying on pro-Fascist propaganda in France. Its organ, Le Franciste, uses exceedingly radical language.

Fight for Workers’ Militia

All of these groups constitute sources of well-trained civil war cadres from which the Croix de Feu and the General Staff will draw when the time comes to settle the question of France’s future, arms in hand. It is to reply to the threat represented by these various organizations that the French Bolshevik-Leninists are agitating for the organization of an armed workers militia trained to defend itself effectively against the inevitable Fascist attack. This demand is stamped as a “provocation” by the Stalinist and Socialist bureaucracies who confine their “fight against Fascism” to demanding formally that the government disarm the Fascist bands!

There is no fixed or rigid formula for the development of Fascism. People who fail to see any spectacular movement similar to that of the Nazis before they came to power delude themselves if they think that there is therefore no serious Fascist threat. Fascism may come to power in France by nothing more complicated than a military coup d’état engineered by the General Staff and the Croix de Feu.

If the workers are not mobilized for a general strike and the struggle for their own power, if they are not armed and organized to repel the attacks of the growing Fascist bands, we will have in France a repetition of the events in Austria and in Spain – a heroic but futile last-minute resistance. NOW is the time to prepare, and the deliberate refusal of the Stalinist and Socialist bureaucracies to put the French workers on the alert is a gross betrayal, heavy even now with possible future catastrophes.

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