Henri Jeanson 1960

Our War

Source: Henri Jeanson, Notre Guerre. Editions de Minuit, Paris, 1960;
Translated: for marxists.org by Mitch Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) marxists.org 2005.

We have been reproached for treason. But our only “treason” is to have denounced and broken into pieces that false, formal, judicial and superficial community under cover of which national unity never ceased to become undone, through an abandonment to bitterness, powerlessness and failure that was every day more disastrous. And the real TREASON is the denial — either active or through simple indifference — of the profound resources of this country, of the only chances for the realization of an effective community, of everything that could at last constitute the true motivation of a France at work.

I speak in the present tense. Perhaps it was difficult to glimpse our chances and to believe in them when everything still slept around us, but today this is not the case. The situation has very much changed in the last few months. That which the opposition itself thought it had to be silent about is today spoken of in the major press outlets; all the political parties discuss it, and the government is worried by it. An irreversible evolution has just begun to take shape within French youth: every day new signs are given that permit us to predict a considerable acceleration in the coming months. No one can any longer ignore it: this year, 1960, will be decisive.

Gaullist magic no longer works. The announcement of a long war has dissipated the last illusions. All the latent conflicts have emerged in broad daylight; from strike to strike workers are again finding their social combativeness, and social demands are increasingly tied to the refusal of this war. The difficulties the French Army has met with in Algeria have a great chance of soon worsening. Finally, in October and November our government will have to confront at one and the same time collective movements of insubordination, a reappearance of social agitation (after the relative calm of the vacation season), and a new session of the General Assembly of the united nations, whose conclusions concerning our Algerian policies risk differing a bit from those of preceding years.

No, we are not in the “hollow of the wave;” we are no longer there. It is this powerless regime, so perfectly indifferent to the true interests of the country that now finds itself hurled down. No, the Left is no longer in an “almost impossible” situation, and the insubordinate of today aren’t going “against the current.” But those who will continue to claim this, if up till now they have only betrayed a still abstract demand for justice and truth, must know that from now on they will be betraying the very reality of French recovery.

We have dilly-dallied, bickered, and been wishy-washy. The people — our people- will again seize their chance. Let us not fear, in assisting them in seizing it, to cut ourselves off from them. Our greatest risk today is fear, that sly fear that doesn’t totally prevent us from speaking and acting, but that condemns us to half measures, to lies of omission, and failed acts. To consent to self intimidation in this way is to choose to lose. But if on the contrary we set ourselves to speak freely, to say what we think, and to do what we say, have no doubt that all the rest will follow.

In any event the success of a political action cannot be absolutely guaranteed. But in a period like this one immobility or a simple wait and see attitude are a sure guarantee of failure.