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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL Décembre - Read: Chuzeville, "A short revolutionary moment" (fr, it, pt) [machine translation]

Date Sun, 7 Jan 2018 12:09:51 +0200

In 1920, at the Congress of Tours, the Socialist Party broke up in two. The majority, inspired by the Russian Revolution, became the French section of the Communist International. The minority, behind Leon Blum, retains the name of Socialist Party. The split is consumed. ---- There is, however, a lot of uncertainty about the identity of this very young PC, a pluralist formation that looks nothing like the monolithic Stalinist party it will be ten years later. His leadership is in the hands of ex-socialist, social-chauvinist parliamentarians from the previous day who aspired to regain virginity under Lenin's banner. But there are also real internationalists who resisted the war, like Fernand Loriot and Boris Souvarine. Soon, they will receive the support of revolutionary syndicalists and former anarchists, like Pierre Monatte. For four years, these very different tendencies are tearing themselves apart on the political line and the mode of operation of the party ... but none is very eager to convert to Bolshevism, which Moscow tries to inculcate in them by means of committing missives.

Julien Chuzeville recounts the unfortunate childhood of the Communist Party, which had nothing heroic, quite the opposite: in the grip of centrifugal forces, in a context of strong ebb and flow of workers' struggles, under the constant beatings of Moscow. The party will survive only at the price of an authoritarian stiffening, by systematizing the collective exclusions and the language of pseudo-Leninist wood. Result: a massive flight of members, and their replacement by much smaller but much more disciplined recruits.

From this excavated book, two shortcomings will be missed. First, protagonists just sketched out: Marthe Bigot, Amédée Dunois, Pierre Monatte, Boris Souvarine, Fernand Loriot or " Captain Treint " were real personalities, who deserved to be more incarnated. Secondly, a focus on internal PCF debates without context illustration. Thus, the book says almost nothing of the trade union and political struggles of the years 1920-1922, of the role that the Communists play there, and of the deterioration of their relations with the socialists and the anarchists. Yet all of this necessarily plays a role in the mutation of the PCF. For example, the fierce - and sometimes bloody - fight against " anarcho-syndicalists" In the CGTU will encourage, within the PCF, sectarianism and a use of slander at levels hitherto unknown in the French labor movement ... but characteristics of Stalinism in the making.

William Davranche (AL Montreuil)

Julien Chuzeville, A short revolutionary moment. The creation of the Communist Party in France (1915-1924), Libertalia, 2017, 536 pages, 20 euros.

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