The Front Populaire and the 
making of the French Communist Party (1920–1962)

By social-chauvinism we mean acceptance of the idea of the defense of the fatherland in the present imperialist war, justification of an alliance between socialists and the bourgeoisie and the governments of their ‘own’ countries in this war, a refusal to propagate and support proletarian revolutionary action against one’s ‘own’ bourgeoisie, etc. —V. I. Lenin

This essay seeks to situate the history of the French Communist Party (PCF) within a broader history of the French nation and nationalism, an aspect of the party that can be best understood in relation to its view on French colonialism and French imperial interests. In a review of Romain Ducoulombier’s Camarades! La naissance du parti communiste français, Ian Birchall notes that histories of the French Communist Party fall into two categories:

Those by supporters of the party, aiming to show it as the true heir of the revolutionary traditions of 1789 and 1917, and those by its anticommunist critics, who see the party’s very existence as part of a conspiracy against (capitalist) freedom. Just occasionally a third voice makes itself heard, that of a left opposition juxtaposing the party’s revolutionary origins to its later non-revolutionary practice.1

Specifically, in this binary historiography, very sparse accounting exists of the PCF’s attitude towards French colonialism; instead, the role of the party is reduced mainly to its attitude during the Algerian Revolution (1954–1962), downplaying its revolutionary and anti-colonial origins and seeing it only as the “national-reformist” party it later became. But, an honest evaluation of the PCF should take a longue durée view of the party and explore the evolution of the PCF in relation to the French nation and French colonialism. Such an analysis also needs to take into account the attitude of the French Socialist Party (SFIO). It is true that apart from a few individuals (such as Paul Louis), French socialism never had a strong commitment to anticolonialism, and some SFIO Members of Parliament (MPs) were part of the informal “colonial lobby” at the beginning of the twentieth century. But the SFIO’s positions on this question are interesting in regard to its relationship with the PCF and we will have occasion to explore them further.

At the heart of this question are the politics of the French Popular Front and their key role in both the chauvinistic and reformist turn of the PCF. This essay will look at three periods of the PCF’s history, starting with the 1920 Congrès de Tours (where the PCF was created), through the Front Populaire period of the 1930s—a time when the PCF began to integrate itself into the French national framework. Finally, it will examine the period from the Front Populaire to 1962, when the Algerian war ended—a time when the PCF had definitively abandoned its anti-colonial tradition and embraced the Union française. The essay argues that the period of the Front Populaire was a key point in the “national turn” of the PCF. It is significant that this “left-wing nationalism” had both emancipatory and oppressive consequences. Indeed, one cannot understand the crucial role the PCF played in the French resistance during World War II without understanding two simultaneous but contradictory processes: (a) how the defense of the French nation became a priority for the PCF; and (b) how this had very negative consequences regarding the Party’s support for anticolonial struggles.

Like other socialist parties in Europe, the SFIO split over the question of issuing war credits in support of World War I. During that war the minister of armaments (until 1917) was the socialist, Albert Thomas, who implemented wage cuts for workers in industry and coordinated support for the war effort. While the war played a crucial role in the rise of class-consciousness in France, it is important to remember that during the war a new type of syndicalism emerged in France. This took the form of a “class-alliance syndicalism” that tried to replace the pre-World War I revolutionary syndicalism that still existed but was limited in the PCF. The aim of this new syndicalism was, of course, the défense nationale. 

Two other events led to a split in the French Socialist Party—the two revolutions of 1917 in Russia. The workers movement generally supported the February revolution, that toppled the Tsar, but the October revolution led to more intense debates. The trade-union organization, CGT, as well as the leadership of the SFIO, criticized the October revolution for several reasons, but the chief one was that the revolution was weakening the allies in the war. The SFIO policy during Word War I could be summarized by a speech Albert Thomas gave, on October 28, 1917, where he said that the Socialist Party should be both with the working class and offer support for the “War Government” (gouvernement de guerre). As Robert Wohl writes, “The reason the Socialist and syndicalist leaders gave for the policy of Sacred Union, both to themselves and to their followers, was that by helping to win the war the working class would earn the right to help make the peace, and to rebuild France in the light of their own doctrines.”2

The end of the war was followed by several important developments: There were numerous strikes in France, especially in June 1919 and again in 1920, which were broken by the Millerand government; the French Left fared badly in the elections (for instance, the SFIO lost the legislative elections in November 1919); and there was a worldwide revolutionary conjuncture. In December 1920 these tensions finally resulted in a split within the Socialist Party between the minority (SFIO), which rejected the twenty-one conditions of the Third International, and the majority (SFIC), which later became the French Communist Party (PCF), which accepted them. It is important to note here that the majority that supported the Bolsheviks—and that created the Section Française de l’Internationale Communiste— should not be seen simply as puppets of the Bolsheviks. The reality was that the vast majority of French Socialists did not know a lot about Bolshevism from a theoretical understanding even if they knew particular figures, like Alfred Rosmer, who had first-hand knowledge of the Bolsheviks. As historian Robert Wohl notes, 

The Congress of Tours came before the main outlines of Bolshevik ideology had clearly emerged in the West—or in Russia itself, for that matter. . . In 1920 Bolshevism contained the tantalizing attraction of an unopened book. Few French working-class leaders had taken the time to study Bolshevism.3

Furthermore as the French historian René Gallissot points out, the Bolshevization of the PCF happened after 1924 and was, in fact, a Stalinization.4 

This lack of theory is particularly glaring in the Party’s approach to imperialism. According to the historian Claude Liauzu, the concept of “imperialism” did not appear once in the reports the colonial commission made in the first three congresses of the party.5 Liauzu also analyzes the French Communist press from the beginning of the 1920s and finds that there were very few articles on the colonial question, and many of them were written by non-French figures (such as Karl Radek, Gregory Zinoviev, Lenin, Trotsky, Sen Katayma, and M. N. Roy). Nonetheless, it is true that the twenty-one conditions for membership in the Third International were known by the majority who created the SFIC, and that they were the main topic of debate during the Congrès de Tours where the SFIC was created. Of course, the attitude towards colonialism was a very important topic during this Congress. The eighth condition the Comintern set for its member organizations explicitly stated:

Parties in countries whose bourgeoisie possess colonies and oppress other nations must pursue a most well-defined and clear-cut policy in respect of colonies and oppressed nations. Any party wishing to join the Third International must ruthlessly expose the colonial machinations of the imperialists of its “own” country, must support—in deed, not merely in word—every colonial liberation movement, demand the expulsion of its compatriot imperialists from the colonies, inculcate in the hearts of the workers of its own country an attitude of true brotherhood with the working population of the colonies and the oppressed nations, and conduct systematic agitation among the armed forces against all oppression of the colonial peoples.6

Jakob Moneta has shown how in the beginning colonial questions for Communists were difficult to enforce in their own ranks.7 In fact, in its first years of existence, even though the SFIC-PCF had an anti-colonial rhetoric, its members were thoroughly divided. Alfred Rosmer explains very well how two of the main figures that shaped the SFIC-PCF had strong links to chauvinism:

Cachin was a man devoid of character, who had been an ultra-chauvinist at the beginning of the war, running errands to Mussolini on behalf of the French government. Then he had swum with the stream, and now professed to be a sympathizer with Bolshevism, although, in his article, he had condemned the October rising and basically loathed the Bolsheviks. Of Frossard, it is enough to say that he was a second-rate imitation of Briand. Starting out with sympathies for Zimmerwald, he was to end up as a minister under Laval and even Pétain.8

It is true that during its first congress in Marseille (from December 25 to December 30 1921), the PCF was very close to the Communist International on the question of colonialism, but it was mainly a rhetorical position on which the PCF’s membership was divided. The main argument put forward during this congress was that Communists should have a strong record of anticolonial activity, not just because people in the colonies were victims of capitalist expansion, but also because indigenous people were “used” by the French bourgeoisie in its imperialist wars and could be used as counterrevolutionary forces in the future. However, this anticolonial rhetoric was accompanied by strong paternalism, since in this very same declaration (published in the Bulletin Communiste, on February 14, 1922) the French Communists argued that indigenous people of the French colonies were unable to emancipate themselves since they had no “revolutionary past.” Because of this “inability,” the PCF decided to create a “comité d’études coloniales” in order to work in the colonies. In summary: in its first years of existence, anticolonialism in the PCF was the task of some individuals who were “specialized” on this issue, but the PCF as a whole was unable to mobilize French workers on it. 

One of the first explicit political conflicts concerning the colonial question in the PCF was the 1922 statement of the Sidi Bel Abbès section of the party—one of the most important sections of the PCF in Algeria. This came in the form of a letter to the party declaring the section’s complete disagreement with the “Moscow thesis” on colonialism. The Moscow thesis was a reference to the Comintern’s call for the liberation of Tunisia and Algeria. The members of the section also stated that if the indigenous people of Algeria were successful in an anticolonial uprising before a proletarian revolution were to happen in the French metropolis, then Algeria would revert back to feudalism. What undergirded this astonishing claim is the idea that colonialism was seen as “progress” for the colonialized, and that a revolution in France was a precondition to any social change in Algeria. 

The statement was sharply criticized by Trotsky. Indeed, during the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, Trotsky characterized the PCF section of Sidi bel Abbès as being stuck in a “slave-holder mentality.” The Sidi bel Abbès thesis was roundly criticized during the Fourth Congress (November–December 1922). As Allison Drew explains, “The censure shocked communists in Algeria. Maxime Guillon, author of the Sidi bel Abbès thesis and secretary of the Sidi bel Abbès region and the three Algerian federations, resigned immediately.”9

It is worth stating here that even though the PCF’s record was not exactly stellar when it came to the national question in the colonies, one should also add that anticolonial figures played a major role in the foundation of the French section of the Communist International and that the PCF was the only French organization at that time that tried to mobilize people around the colonial question.

During the Tours Congress, a young Vietnamese man made a remarkable speech on colonialism. Indeed, Nguyễn Ái Quốc (who later became famous as Ho Chi Minh) participated in the founding of the French Communist Party and became an active anticolonial activist. In 1922, Nguyễn Ái Quốc played a crucial role in editing the journal Le Paria, which was important for carrying analyses of the colonial situation. Even though the journal was not so much concerned with independence but more taken with ending repression in the colonies, it played an important role at that time. 

The key event in which the French Communists were deeply engaged was organizing a strong opposition to the Rif War in Morocco. This war, conducted by Spain, later joined by France, to subdue the Berber people in the mountainous Rif region of Morocco, became a crucial reference point for Communist anticolonialism. For the first time in French history, French workers were mobilized against a colonial endeavor—including a PCF-called twenty-four-hour general strike on October 12, 1925 that drew out 100,000 workers to protest the war.10 The PCF called for recognition of an independent Rif republic, fraternization between French and Riffian soldiers, and the withdrawal of French troops from Morocco.11 At the same time, however, trade union and nationalist movements in Tunisia from 1924 to 1926 were overwhelmed by support for the resistance in the Moroccan Rif,  and the Communists were unable to build effective political solidarity between French and Tunisian workers. 

An exception to this lack of political support for the Tunisian workers movement was the role played by Robert Louzon, an anarchist activist member of the SFIC-PCF. Louzon, who moved to Tunisia and became secretary of the Tunisian Communist Federation, supported the creation of the General Confederation of Tunisian Workers (CGTT), and financed the development of a Communist press in Arabic.12 Louzon chose not to sideline the Tunisian struggle. Recognizing the existence in Tunisia of “a vast indigenous movement for national demands,” he understood the importance of an active anticolonialist engagement by French Communists both in France and in Tunisia.13 Louzon was imprisoned for six months and expelled from Tunisia. He left the PCF in 1924 at a time when some of its main figures were expelled from the organization, but he remains one of the missing figures of Communist historiography who played an essential role in the anti-colonial struggle during the SFIC-PCF’s first years.14

An entire article is necessary to explain PCF’s support for the Rif resistance and the ways in which such support overshadowed its concern for other forms of resistance in the French colonies. But what should be noted here is that the balance of power in the SFIC-PCF was not simple in its early years. (For instance, the position of revolutionary syndicalists towards colonialism and nationalism is of particular interest). What complicated the PCF’s otherwise fairly problematic positions on colonialism are figures such as Abdelkader Hadj Ali who were members of the PCF and vigorously anticolonial. Hadj Ali gave classes at the “colonial section” of the Bobigny PCF School, where Messali Hadj—another main figure of Algerian anticolonialism—also lectured. Hadj Ali created the first association for North African workers in France. It is true that this section was under the supervision of the PCF, but at least in its first years, the party understood the importance of the colonial question, and tried to organize a resistance to French imperial interests. 

The increased Stalinization of the PCF during the 1920s saw the expulsion of major figures of the party while the Rif war still raged. The expulsion of men such as Rosmer and Pierre Monatte was accompanied by the “classe contre classe” strategy. This strategy was deeply sectarian in its refusal to consider any alliances with the socialists. Meanwhile, French capitalism was restructuring itself in the interwar years and accelerating its development. With the cost of living rising dramatically, strikes exploded between 1927 and 1930. The period was seen by the PCF as a kind of “terminal crisis” of capitalism—a period where the party aimed to be everywhere in order to play an active role in the revolutionary moment. The twin processes of Stalinization and consequent expulsions of radicals brought an entire new set of leaders to head the party from the mid 1920s and, in the 1930s, Maurice Thorez became the head of the party. 

Thorez led the PCF into the project of a Front Populaire (FP) in 1934, which became a reality in 1936. This period was an important step in the “nationalisation” of the PCF. As a member of the FP, the PCF radically altered its political strategy. In 1932, during the Seventh Congress of the PCF, Maurice Thorez had argued for the independence of Alsace-Lorraine because, he stated, “French imperialism operates a regime of national oppression” in the region. But with the evolution of the political situation in Europe, during the Front Populaire Thorez quickly became one of the main defenders of French imperial interests. 

The Front Populaire period actually entailed the revival of an older political strategy. At the beginning of the 1930s, the PCF shared the German Communists Party’s (KPD) approach in denouncing all social democrats as social-fascists. But with the PCF now committed to the FP, the necessity of building a front against fascism (even if it was too late to stop it) became the priority. As René Gallissot has shown, the concept of “peuple” (people) became a new and central theoretical category for the PCF.15 Until then, this concept was used to define oppressed people in the colonies, now it became a concept employed to speak about French people, as a living vital link with the French nation. This political discourse about the French nation was accompanied by a schematic workerism. Thus, the Communist ideology became, with the threat of fascism, a kind of populist ideology, which seemed particularly logical, as the revolution was no longer the priority: the main enemy was fascism and the main political subject became the French people. 

On November 12, 1935, the PCF newspaper L’Humanité led with the following headline: “The Unknown [Soldier] has returned to his comrades.”16 This may be one of the best examples of the “national-republican” turn of the PCF. It is no coincidence that Benedict Anderson starts his seminal study of the nation, Imagined Community, with a discussion of the Unknown Soldier:

No more arresting emblems of the modern culture of nationalism exist than cenotaphs and tombs of Unknown Soldiers. The public ceremonial reverence accorded these monuments precisely because they are either deliberately empty or no one knows who lies inside them, has no true precedents in earlier time.… Yet void as these tombs are of identifiable mortal remains or immortal souls, they are nonetheless saturated with ghostly national imagining.17

This issue of the journal founded by Jean Jaurès—famous for his opposition to World War I—was now about to resurrect this national imagining, but with a Left-wing gloss. In this issue, one could clearly see the reversal of the French Left that had been against the war credits in 1914. Indeed, this issue of L’Humanité was a celebration of veterans. René Gallissot has written about how this period saw rising recruitment for the party. Recruitment was made on two bases: first, the anti-fascist struggle; the second—obviously linked to the former—was a strong republican patriotism. With the Hitler-Stalin Pact of 1939, the PCF’s antifascism was abandoned for a time; but the consequence in the long run of this Communist-nationalism is that the PCF adopted the idea that the socialist transition would only happen through reforms, and that the interests of France were paramount.

The other important aspect of the Front Populaire period is the attitude the FP government—which assumed office after winning a majority in the May 1936 legislative elections—had towards national liberation struggles in the colonies. The coalition between Stalinists and Trotskyists in Vietnam and embodied in the journal La Lutte raised great hopes within the FP, but in reality there were almost no major policy changes in the colonies. La Lutte proposed to organize a congress with representatives from the colonies, but Marius Moutet (SFIO minister for colonies) refused because he thought that a congress where the Trotskyists were a majority would be dangerous. While the SFIO was in power, the PCF took part for the first time in mainstream French political life, but the anticolonial struggle was not a priority for the French communists and socialists. Indeed with the Laval-Stalin declaration of May 15, 1935, the national defense of France became the chief priority for the communists.18 This in turn meant that any struggle against colonialism could be interpreted as a serious obstacle to French interests and to its fight against fascism. 

But pockets of anticolonialism survived among a very small minority of individuals within the party. André Morel for example, who played a huge role in the counter-propaganda during the Rif war, taught classes at the Leninist school in Moscow and wrote a book called Histoire du parti communiste français in 1931. He was responsible for editing L’Humanité and headed the colonial section of the PCF. In this capacity he began to be interested in peasant movements, as well as realizing the importance of publishing works in Arabic. In his analysis of the conjuncture in North Africa he foresaw an imminent uprising in the colonies. He concluded that the communists should ally themselves with the nationalist movements in the colonies in order to fight against both fascism and colonialism.19 But such figures within the party were very rare, and Morel was expelled from the party in 1936 because of his opposition to the leadership on this question.

The period of the Front Populaire, then, was a crucial period in the making of a French colonial Communist Party, which now located its heritage in the French nation and distanced itself from its legacy of opposition to the war credits in 1914. The party began to regularly participate in patriotic July 14 (Bastille Day) ceremonies, complete with French flags, and in the celebrations of November 11 (Armistice Day). Official publications of the party carried articles about France’s global “civilizing mission.”20 

It is worth noting here that the Algerian Communist Party (PCA) was also created in this period, but it was a mirror image of the French party. The day after the founding Congress of the PCA, L’Humanité published an article explaining that this congress was remarkable in its composition, in that sixty-two Arab delegates were present along with sixty-seven French delegates.21 The report featured a photograph of the secretary of the new party, Amar Ouzegane, who was to be expelled in 1947 for “nationalist-deviations.”

It is this evolution of the PCF—from an antiwar revolutionary organization to a defender of French colonial interests—we should keep in mind when we evaluate its role in the Indochinese revolution.

At the end of World War II, the PCF was one of the strongest parties in France. This favorable balance of power in 1944 pushed the party to adopt a very optimistic view of the political moment. The party had some significant successes in several municipal elections, and its membership grew rapidly between 1944 and 1947. The party’s publications, especially L’Humanité, were widely read nationally, but the party was deeply embedded in reformism. As Maurice Thorez told the Times, the march to socialism would take other “ways than the way of Russian Communists.”22 Thorez made an explicit connection between the reformism of the party and its commitment to the French nation, describing the PCF as a “national and democratic organization,” and stressing the importance the interests of France had for the Communists.23

The party invented new theoretical terms and categories to amplify and secure its chauvinism. For example, that the world was organized with a “center” around which constellated its “peripheries.” According to this new theory, only the liberation of the center (Europe) would lead to the liberation of the peripheries (the colonized countries). 

How does this history explain the PCF’s support of the Vietnamese nationalists, the Viêt-Minh, in 1945? The Viêt-Minh were seen by the PCF as comrades and anti-Nazi fighters, and therefore the party wanted to negotiate with the Viêt-Minh. As the war ended, the PCF’s main political goal was to find a balance between the interests of the colonized people and the interests of France. The party, along with the SFIO, participated in the De Gaulle government, and when Thorez (a government minister) met Xuan (Cochinchinese general), he told him that not only was the PCF against French holdings in Indochina, but also that he wanted to see the French flag flying in all territories in the Union française.24 As a stakeholder of the French state, the PCF wanted a “peaceful end” to the fight between France and its colonies. After its eviction from the government, the PCF conducted massive propaganda against this “dirty war” not because it supported Indochinese independence, but because this was a “useless fight.” 

The definitive turn for the PCF, away from its anticolonial heritage, however, was most pronounced during the Algerian Revolution of 1954. The PCF characterized the Algerian insurrection of November 1, 1954 simply as individual terrorism and the party’s writing reflected its commitment to thinking within the framework of “French interests.” In his book Années de feu, the former PCF member Jacques Jurquet, who later became a leading representative of French Maoism, stressed the responsibility of the socialists in colonial repression, as well as the politically cowardly attitude of the PCF, which by now had moved very far away from its attitude during the Rif war in the 1920s.25

The difference between the Indochinese and the Algerian revolutions was that, with the latter, a new aspect of colonial subjects came to light: many who were fighting against France were Muslims. Amar Ouzegane in his study Le meilleur combat argued that the Communists were unable to understand the role played by religion in such a society as Algeria. This is one of the reasons, but not the only one, for the failure of both the Algerian and the French Communist Parties to propose an effective political analysis and strategy during the Algerian revolution.

The PCF wanted the creation of a “real” Union française, and in every single text or speech from its leaders on Algeria, the interest of France was the central organizing principle. The most explicit colonial position taken by the PCF during the Algerian revolution was of course the vote in favor of Guy Mollet’s special powers in 1956 aimed at keeping the Union française intact. During this second phase of the Algerian revolution, the last anticolonial figures of the PCF were either expelled or left the party (like Jacques Jurquet, in 1956, and Maxime Rodinson, in 1958, for example). With its support of Guy Mollet, the PCF positioned itself clearly as an associate of the colonial counterrevolution in Algeria. Fortunately, after the bloody repression in October 1961 of a peaceful FLN demonstration in Paris, the PCF condemned the police brutalities and murders; but its statement is interesting, because even here it revealed the deep reverence with which the party held the French nation, as it was an appeal not to the working class but to “every republican” and “every French democrat.”

In conclusion, the Algerian revolution was a crucial step in the definitive reformist and “social-chauvinistic” turn of the PCF. After World War II, the conditions in the colonies offered a unique opportunity to create real international solidarity between French Communists and colonized people. But even if the PCF’s rhetoric in its press was anticolonialist—but always stressing the interests of France—the party failed to encourage French workers to support the liberation struggles. 

Of course, this evolution of the PCF as part of the French nation also has to do with its attitude toward imperialism and racism in the French metropolis. If one wants to grasp the way this party became a sort of companion of French imperialism, it is important to look back at how it evolved from its foundation in the 1920s to the Front Populaire, and later during the Algerian revolution, in order to understand how the reformist turn of the PCF was accompanied by its entry into the “national framework” of France. It is perhaps interesting to note that after World War II, while the PCF was voting in favor of credits for the army in Indochina and Algeria, it tried to display its “internationalism” through its vehement opposition to German rearmament. It is certainly a tragedy for the revolutionary movement that the PCF was more vocal about Germany’s threat to French interests than to France’s threat to its colonial subjects. 

  1. Ian Birchall, “Camarades! La naissance du parti communiste en France, Romain Ducoulombier, Paris: Perrin, 2010,” Historical Materialism, 21.3 (2013), 178–188.
  2. Robert Wohl, French Communism in the Making, 1914–1924 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1966), 117.
  3. Ibid, 202.
  4. René Gallissot, “Génération algérienne: entretien avec René Gallissot,” Période, March 28, 2016,
  5. Claude Liauzu, Aux origines des tiers-mondismes. Colonisés et anticolonialistes en France 1919–1939  (Paris: L’Harmattan, 1982).
  6. Lenin, “Terms of Admission into Communist International,” Marxists Internet Archive,
  7. Jakob Moneta, Die Kolonialpolitik der französischen KP (Verlag für Literatur und Zeitgeschehen, 1968).
  8. Alfred Rosmer, Lenin’s Moscow (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2016), 33–34.
  9. Allison Drew, We are no longer in France: Communists in colonial Algeria (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2014), 34.
  10. Edward Rice-Maximin, Accomodation and Resistance: The French Left, Indochina, and the Cold War, 1944–1954 (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1986), 3.
  11. Daniel Joly, The French Communist Party and the Algerian War (London: Palgrave MacMillan, 1991), 33.
  12. Claude Liauzu, Histoire de l’anticolonialisme en France. Du XVIème siècle à nos jours (Paris: Fayard/Pluriel, 2010).
  13. Ian Birchall, “PCF: The Missing Founders,”
  14. As Ian Birchall writes, “One of the first things that strikes anyone looking at the early history of the French Communist Party (PCF) is the fact that so many of those who played a key role in the founding of the party and its activity during its first few years had disappeared from the party by the late 1920s, to be replaced by a leadership team whose role in the early years had been negligible. This has posed a problem for both pro-PCF and anti-Communist historians.” Ian Birchall, “PCF: The Missing Founders.”
  15. René Gallissot, “Les fractures du marxisme,” In Alexandre Adler, Wladimir Andreff, Christine Buci-Glucksman, René Gallissot, Daniel Hemery, Moshe Lewin, Lily Marcou, Sami Naïr, Emmanual Terray, and Jean-Marie Vincent, Les aventures du marxisme (Paris: Syros, 1984), 15–35.
  16. “L’Inconnu a retrouvé ses camarades,” L’Humanité, November 12, 1935.
  17. Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 2006), 9.
  18. In his famous book Front Populaire, une révolution manquée, Daniel Guérin commented this pact in writing that “The socialists were thrilled” and that a lot of former anti-communists became allied of the PCF because of the building of an Union nationale
  19. On this see: Claude LIAUZU, op. cit., especially Chapter 5: “Du Front Populaire aux décolonisations négociées”, 326–409.
  20. It is true that the PCF did not use often the term “civilizing mission,” but it defended the same idea, as for example in a speech Maurice Thorez gave in Algeria on February 11, 1939 where he defended the idea that, “Algeria has the duty to link itself very strongly to French democracy.” (Maurice Thorez, Oeuvres, Tome IV, 173–187). 
  21. “Le Congrès du parti communiste d’Algérie”, L’Humanité, November 7, 1936. 
  22. Maurice Thorez, interview, Times, November 17, 1946.
  23. Ibid.
  24. Alain Ruscio, Les communistes français et la guerre d’Indochine: 1944–1954 (Paris: L’Harmattan, 1985), 121.
  25. Jacques Jurquet, Années de feu. Algérie 1954–1956 (Paris: L’Harmattan, 1997), 17.

Issue #101

Summer 2016

Socialism in the Air

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