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Jack Weber

March of Events

(17 April 1935)

From The New Militant, Vol. I No. 19, 27 April 1935, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Class Struggle in France

The lull in the storm that occurred in France with the advent of the Flandin government, gives every indication of coming to a close. Flandin himself stated, on taking office as premier, that his government would be the last “experiment” in bourgeois democracy. That experiment, as could have been predicted in view of the general crisis that struck France only little more than a year ago, and in view of the international political situation with its threat of world war at any moment,”has proved a recognised failure. More and more clearly the question is posed in France: the salvation of bankrupt capitalism through the setting up of a violent and brutal fascist dictatorship, or the seizure of power by the proletariat for the establishing of the communist society.

With the aid of big finance capital, the fascist forces have been closing their ranks in preparation for the coming coup d’état directed towards the overthrow of the Third French Republic and with the aim of savage repression of the organizations of the working class. Colonel la Rocque, head of the War Veterans organized in the Croix de Feu, has become the recognized leader of the reaction. Already he has a large private armed force” said to number three hundred thousand”ready to do his bidding. As in the other countries where fascism has arisen and achieved power, la Rocque is aided by the upper bureaucratic strata of the army. Pistols, rifles and ammunition “disappear” from the armories”for the use of the fascist armed bands. Thus the French press stated recently that the annual inventory of the Versailles armory had shown the disappearance of 336,400 rifle cartridges and 155,000 revolver bullets. If French tradition is any criterion, then the fascists are preparing for a military dictatorship to be set up by a sudden blow.

* * *

The Ranks of the Workers

The danger to the working class is rendered all the more acute, as the Marxist knows, by the lack of a revolutionary party in France at this critical juncture. In place of such a Marxist party, serving as the vanguard and the rallying force for the inevitable struggle, there exist two centrist parties led by reactionary bureaucracies. The pressure from their rank and file membership and from the masses forced these bureaucracies to enter into a united front against fascism. But the Stalinists and the Socialists have both hamstrung this united front by their policies of turning it to the service of bourgeois democracy at the very time when this democracy is about to crumble. Only the Bolshevik-Leninist fraction of the SF.I.O. (the S.P. of France) has advocated a clear-cut revolutionary program to lead the workers along the road to power. This fraction has gradually become a force in the left wing of the S.F.I.O. and has won over to its views a large section of the revolutionary workers in the Federation of the Seine, both youth and adult. The progressive nature of the entry of this fraction into the ranks of the S.F.I.O. is about to be tested in the forthcoming national convention of the Socialist Party.

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Role of the Bolshevik-Leninists

At this Congress the Bolshevik-Leninists will present their program in the form of resolutions. They will review and sum up the history of betrayal of the Second and Third Internationals that brought about the victory of fascism in Germany, Austria, etc. instead of the ushering in of Communism, and they will therefore call for the formation of the Fourth International to lead the workers to victory. They will demand a complete break with the bourgeoisie, with the “truce government of sacred onion” and instead of this policy of the lesser evil of supporting bourgeois democracy against fascism, a policy that can only lead aa in Germany to the defeat of the proletariat, the Bolshevik-Leninists will propose the taking of power by the united front in the form of the Workers and Peasants’ Government. Coming at this critical period in France, the Congress of the S.F.I.O. may prove momentous, not because of any possibility of reform of the S.P., but rather because of the struggle that will develop between the rights and the lefts at this congress and the support given to the advocates of the Fourth International. If the question of organic unity between the S.P. and the C.P. is raised at this Congress, the Bolshevik-Leninists will expose completely the reactionary basis proposed for such unity by the Stalinist bureaucracy as well as by the leaders of the S.P. Such organic unity can only prove progressive if it is based on the complete Marxist program of the Bolshevik-Leninists. This program calls for the armed defense of the organizations of the working class against the attacks of the fascist bands, for the building of the workers’ militia, for a militant struggle of the armed workers to break up the fascist bands, for a united front policy to defend proletarian democracy, the broadest type of democracy, and not the fraudulent bourgeois democracy represented in bourgeois parliaments. To confine working class activity now in France to parliamentarism, is to doom the workers in advance to defeat by la Rocque and his bloody hordes. All power to the “Trotskyists” and their revolutionary program which offers the French workers the key to their situation!

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