French Trotskyism 1960
Source: La Vérité des Travailleurs, No. 110, November 1960;
Translated: for marxists.org by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) marxists.org 2012.
After more than a century of ferocious and bloody exploitation the Algerian partisans, wounded in their flesh and their dignity mocked, having lost all their illusions concerning the democratic promises of French governments, decided to take up arms against imperialism.
They made this decision six years ago last week. Six years during which one of the most powerful imperialisms in the world, possessing an army equipped with modern weapons with a strength of nearly 500,000 men, has not managed to put down the popular resistance. To be sure, the exploits of the French army aren’t negligible, as we can see in the hecatombs of both the civilian population and the combatants. French imperialism’s pitiless repression, in which it has lengthy experience, had no other effect than that of extending the influence of the National Liberation Army, which the oppressed Algerian people considers its army. Algerian fighters have fallen, but others, younger and in greater numbers, have replaced them.
This is yet another proof that no modern army can defeat a people fighting for a just cause.
The fight of the Algerian people is not an ordinary war where we can put the two antagonists in the same basket. In the first place the Algerian people, whose underdeveloped country was carved up by French capitalism, is fighting for its independence. And then, the sole fact that it delivers blows to world-wide capital means that it is an integral part of international socialist revolution. If the current leadership of the Algerian resistance is not what we would call a proletarian revolutionary leadership, it is nevertheless not a bourgeois leadership. The Algerian bourgeoisie was destroyed by French imperialism. The leadership of the Algerian revolution is plebian, and the logic of the fight of the heroic Algerian combatants cannot but move them beyond purely national tasks, though we can’t know in advance by what process this will occur. In a word, the events in Algeria are an illustration of the theory of permanent revolution that throughout his life Trotsky defended and spread in the workers’ movement.
Which is to say that the cause of the Algerian partisans and that of the French workers is the same. It is by explaining all this that it would have been possible to establish effective solidarity between the workers of the two countries.
Let’s not talk about Mitterrand and Mendès-France, who was president of the council on November 1, 1957. They called for repression and sent the troops. The SFIO, whose leaders are profoundly integrated into the bourgeois system, outdid even themselves in nationalism at the moment of the Suez expedition.
As for the French Communist Party, which at the time of the Rif war in 1925 was a party resolutely anti-colonialist and from whom we would have expected more, it has never used the words “Algerian revolution” which, in their scientific correctness, would have shown French workers that the fight of the Algerian partisans was theirs. In never using the words “Algerian war” the leaders of the PCF have turned the working class away from its obligations of solidarity and revolutionary support.
Is there any need to recall that on November 8, 1954, seven days after the beginning of the insurrection, the Politburo of the PCF qualified the actions of the Algerians as “individual acts that play into the hands of the worst colonialists, that is, if they weren’t fomented by them.”
The fight of the Algerian people has forced French capitalism to seek ways of softening its forms of exploitation. Various sectors of French capitalism were thus led to fight against the ultras. And thus we had the Gaullist promises of self-determination. But De Gaulle hasn’t yet backed off from his former positions, as was proved by the abortive conversations in Melun. And his speech of November 5, 1960, despite the reaffirmation of his divergences with the ultras, has not led us to change our minds.
It is the fight against the Fifth Republic that the working class organizations should be calling for. The defeat of imperialism is the common objective of Algerian and French workers.
Despite the policies of all the great workers’ organizations we are currently witnessing the development of a current of ideas which is rediscovering the Leninist policy of revolutionary defeatism.
The communist internationalists, the Trotskyists, will be unstinting in their efforts to make this current of ideas become a force that smashes all the maneuvers of the colonialists and neo-colonialists.