Stanley Plastrik Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Henry Judd

Events Behind Ramadier’s Victory
over Stalinists in Cabinet Dispute

(19 May 1947)

From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 20, 19 May 1947, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The outstanding fact about the current political and social crisis in France is that it signifies the beginning of a new stage in that sorely-distressed country’s history. For the first time since the defeat of France and the origin of the Resistance movement, the French Communist Party (Stalinists) are not in the government, despite their wish. By a series of maneuvers and twists, the Stalinist leaders have been ousted from the government and replaced by rightwing socialists, supporters of Leon Blum; and still more conservative members of the Catholic Popular Republic Party (MRP). This is the net result of two weeks of intense parliamentary and governmental scheming – a moderate, center French cabinet of Blum socialists and Catholic bourgeois.

Was it accidental that, after the completion of the ousting of the Stalinists from the government (there is now. a cabinet of. twelve Socialists, six MRP supporters, five Radical Socialists and two independents), the World Bank announced final signing of papers granting a loan to France of $250,000,000 for long-term reconstruction? This World Bank loan is almost exclusively American dollars granted by the United States to help set up the bank. Was it accidental that America released 36,000 tons of wheat and flour for shipment to France during May? And, in addition, informed the French that 30,000 tons of corn will be sent during May and June, even though, this will overstrain shipping facilities? The Truman Doctrine awards its friends in a not too subtle, but welcome fashion.

International Politics Far Behind Its Turn

The international politics behind the crisis in France are clear enough for all to see. The turn of France definitely away from Russia and in the direction of American imperialism Clearly began at the recently concluded Moscow Conference, where Stalin, in private session with Bidault, failed to win him over to support of Stalin’s position regarding Germany.

France can no longer play the game of “neutral broker” between Russia and America – the aggressive policy of Marshall and Truman will not permit this. Support us by joining our drive against Russia and its Stalinist parties everywhere, or no credits, ho food, no coal, no help. This is the essence of American policy. There is, likewise, a tacit encouragement by America for the return to politics and power of General de Gaulle and his efforts to build up an openly reactionary, semi-fascist organization. Bidault, France’s Foreign Minister, is also head of the MRP and greatly fears that the energetic de Gaulle will split his party by his bolder anticommunist activities.

Russian imperialism operates, in France by means of its Stalinist agents and the enormous party they head. Time magazine has reported a sharp split among the top Stalinist leaders: – some (Marty) urging the party to become an openly anti-government party, to vigorously support the unions and workers in strike action, etc. In a word, to make a sharp turn toward what appears, to the French people, a radical policy. Other leaders (Duclos, Thorez, etc.) reject this, and seem bent on crawling back into the government, no matter how. They did little to actually support the Renault workers when they were on strike, and told their supporters to vote to return to work. They describe the French CP as still a “government party.” These Stalinists undoubtedly feel they were outmaneuvered and ousted from the government in an unexpected and undesired trick. Duclos ridiculed fears of a general strike and said his. policy was a concern for “national interests and democracy.” The party and, together with it, the organized labor movement which is controlled by Stalinism, evidently feel themselves on the defensive and obliged to retreat. They are unable to precipitate a decisive struggle at this time. It is knowledge of this that drove the timid Socialist Premier Ramadier and his fellow rightwing Socialists, to such sharp action.

Internal Forces Causing Crisis

The general weakness of France in the post-war world is well known. The devastation of the war, the inability of the country to raise its economic production to even a pre-war level, plus the mass revolts of the colonies (Indo-China, Madagascar and, shortly, Algeria) have so weakened capitalist France that the nation has entirely lost its ability to act with initiative or independence on the international scene. Economically dependent upon the United States for its recovery, the nation is politically dependent to a great extent upon Russia, operating through the French Stalinists. The country is therefore torn between America and Russia, the two great rivals who wish to manipulate the country for their own aims. Its present government cannot break out of this circle.

There are, of course, profound infernal aspects to the present crisis. It is more than a problem of international rivalry. The numerous and highly militant French working class has revived since the war ended. Its union movement is, next to England, the most powerful in Europe. The pressing economic difficulties have come to a head recently with a combination cut in bread rationing (a most important dietary item for French workers! and the failure of the Blum-Ramadier price-cutting program. The disproportion between the life and economic difficulties of the workers, as contrasted with the conditions of black market operators, American tourists, French bourgeois, etc., is extremely galling to the class-conscious French worker. The 30,000 Renault strikers who moved far in advance of their union leaders, not to mention the Stalinists who at first opposed strike action, were the first to act. Even though they have now gone back to work (7,000 voted to continue the strike) they did not return as the result of any victory or agreement. They were temporarily forced to retreat, and the soil for future militant action on the economic front is as fertile as before. The Stalinist leaders, who Warned about growing Trotskyist influence among the workers, understand this situation. An important aspect of their maneuver was to give the impression that they still marched at the head of the French proletariat.

The National Council of the Socialist Party was bludgeoned, by Ramadier and Blum, into acceptance of the action ousting the Stalinists. The vote was by a tiny majority, with over 2,000 delegates voting to reject the proposal and demanding that the Socialist Party also get out of the government. While many of these votes undoubtedly reflected the strong pro-Stalinist influence that exists among the Socialists (particularly in the Paris-Seine Federation area), there is no doubt that many of them are anti-Stalinist, and just as strongly against the right-wing, pro-American policies of their leaders. Their votes are in line with the Trotskyist demand, that the Socialist Party get out of the government of French capitalism and break with the reactionary coalition it now has with the MRP and capitalist parties.

There appears to be a growing disinterest and disgust with politics in France; particularly among the workers who follow the Socialist and Stalinist parties. Not only have these parties failed them; but so has every shape, form and size of a coalition government. It is quite possible that the Stalinist influence among workers will tend to decline, although not enormously because of the demagogic skill with which that party operates. The French workers are apathetic toward politics, above all the crude parliamentary kind of politics their parties have engaged in for months. The next period in French affairs will probably be characterized by struggles of the workers on the union and economic front; struggles in which the French Trotskyists will be most active in helping the workers.

Plastrik (Judd/Stanley) Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 28 Octoberr 2022