French Communist Party 1936

The Eighth Congress of the French Communist Party

Source: VIIIéme Congres du Parti Communiste Français (Lyon-Villurbanne, Jan 22-25, 1936). Éditions du Comité populaire de propagande, Paris, 1937.
Translated: for by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) 2012.

Every act of our great Communist Party is inscribed in the history of our country, but its Eighth Congress will hold an extremely important place. Grand ideas were put forth there that the people of France would later acclaim, ratify, and make part of their lives.

Our militants, our sympathizers, and the entire people paid close attention to the meeting at Villeurbanne.

Floods of messages of sympathy and enthusiastic telegrams were sent from every corner of the country.

Not only the workers of the cities and fields, but great intellectuals, writers and scholars like Romain Rolland, Malraux, Langevin, Jean-Richard Bloch, Perrin and others were at our side and whole-heartedly with us, once again sealing the ever closer union of the manual workers and intellectuals of our country and their confidence on the Communist Party.

More than 200,000 copies of the reports delivered there were distributed in the following weeks. Informational meetings saw massive crowds brought together, enthusiastic about and confident in our Communist Party and our glorious Communist International.

Our Eight Congress proudly drew up the balance sheet of the Party’s activities. Laval’s fall, for which we did everything possible, which occurred during the course of the Congress, resounded like a new victory over fascism. The intervention of the deputy secretary of the Socialist Federation of the Rhône, officially mandated, was received with enthusiasm by the Congress, filled from one end to the other with the purest unitary spirit; the congress justifiably saw in this the affirmation of the indissoluble fraternal ties that unite our party and the Socialist Party in a pact of unity in action that nothing and no one can ever break.

Finally, union unity, for which we have worked so hard, was to be realized a few days after our congress, a new victory for the working, class crowning the unifying efforts of the Communists.

But our Eighth Congress was above all attached to posing with firmness and daring the great tasks to be accomplished. Permeated by the teachings of Marx and Lenin, animated by one sole will, the party demonstrated that it knows how to analyze events and draw from the facts the political conclusions they impose.

The eighty speeches made there, emanating from old and young militants, from workers and peasants, from women and residents of the colonies, from small business owners and farmers, as well as the dozens of discussion articles that preceded the congress and which our “L'Humanité” published, affirmed, on the one hand, the true democracy that exists in the party and on the other irrefutably demonstrated its homogeneity, its indefatigable will for the union of popular forces, for true French reconciliation, for the daily defense of the workers’ bread, and the maintaining of world peace.

UNITE THE PEOPLE OF FRANCE. That was the grand idea that dominated our Eighth Congress, unanimously approved by hundreds of workers and peasants who abandoned their factories and fields for a few days, representing at the congress all the qualities of our people, ever in the vanguard of the fight for freedom and progress.

Unity of the young, unity of the French nation, reinforcement and development of the Popular Front for bread, peace and freedom: these were the essential concerns of the meetings in Villeurbanne in order to lead our people to a France free, strong and happy, in accordance with the magnificent formula launched there and which has echoed in homes in every commune in France.

The facts and results were to magnificently respond to the slogans launched by the Eighth Congress. At the legislative elections that took place three months later the people of France loudly approved the unifying policies of the party, which received 1,500,00 votes against 790,000 in 1932, while the parties of the Popular Front won a majority of the Chamber.

The Congress of Villeurbanne showed that our party already possessed the men capable of leading the great political task of the salvation of the French people. The many delegates who marched to the tribune demonstrated their knowledge of the needs of those who work and suffer. They can be proud of the confidence they've conquered by their devotion to the cause of the workers of their factories and villages through their initiatives, often taken under difficult conditions. The Congress of Villeurbanne demonstrated that our party already possesses an important phalanx of mass political leaders.

But our Eighth Congress wanted to do more in order to conquer thousands of capable new combatants devoted to the cause of the working class.

At Villeurbanne we launched the slogan of 100,000 members before the end of the year. Six month later the milestone of 200,000 had already been left behind, while the Young Communists were on their way to 100,000.

And so our great Communist Party, united like an indestructible bloc, having at its head its Central Committee, which enjoys the confidence of all, armed with the doctrine of Marx-Engels-Lenin-Stalin, launched at its Eighth Congress the slogans that correspond to the profoundest aspirations of our people. It increasingly appears as the proven and sure guide of the working masses; as the heir to a glorious past of struggle, as the party that CARRIES FRANCE FORWARD and pursues the work of its predecessors, and works to lead our country toward its destiny of liberation and human progress.

Jacques Duclos
August 1936