Preferred Citation: Seidman, Michael. Workers Against Work: Labor in Paris and Barcelona during the Popular Fronts. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1991 1991.

The Ideology of Workers’ Control

9. The Ideology of Workers’ Control

In direct contrast with its persistence in Spain, the revolutionary anarchosyndicalist program of workers’ control and development of the means of production in their unions dwindled in France during the first decades of the twentieth century. Despite a brief flare-up immediately after the war, anarchosyndicalism faded in a country whose advanced industries remained largely in national hands and whose productive powers continued to grow at rates similar to those in the other great nations. The vicious circle of misery, violent revolt, and repression that characterized the social climate in Barcelona found little scope in Paris. The major problem that the French Left confronted was how to adapt a supposedly revolutionary movement to a society where revolution was becoming an increasingly distant possibility.[1] From a political longue durée, the Popular Front in France was not merely a short-term alliance of the Left to prevent fascism but also an acknowledgment by Communists, Socialists, and many in the CGT that a Soviet or anarchosyndicalist-style revolution in twentieth-century France was highly unlikely.

The Barcelonan revolutionaries’ critique of their own bourgeoisie was more difficult to apply to Parisian capitalist elites. No French counterparts of Diego Abad de Santillán and other CNT militants could lament the lack of a national automotive or aviation industry precisely because French bourgeois were pioneers in both sectors in the early twentieth century. More generally, complaints about the inability of the bourgeoisie to rationalize and modernize, though they surfaced in Paris, did not carry the same weight in a city that was the home of Renault and of exporting aviation firms, and where, as has been seen, industrialists developed electrical industries and others in the interwar period.

Nor by the 1930s could French revolutionaries, unlike the Spanish, assert that the Church possessed excessive power over education and health facilities or that the state had failed to eliminate illiteracy. Paris witnessed none of the spectacular burning of churches, sabotage, and assassinations that occurred in Barcelona and the rest of Spain during the Second Republic and that pushed Spaniards toward the political extremes. French Catholics were not solidly opposed to the Popular Front. Christian democrats, led by Marc Sangnier and his Jeune République, actually supported the “Blum experiment,” and certain Catholic intellectuals—such as Emmanuel Mounier and his review, Esprit—şo endorsed the coalition of the Left.[2] Some Catholics even joined the Ligue des droits de l’homme, a change that demonstrated, according to one observer, that the Church-state struggle had abated. Although most Catholic publications and the hierarchy in general strongly opposed the Left’s coalition, some—such as L’Aube, La Vie catholique, and Sept—adopted more nuanced positions that were seconded by a number of younger priests. In 1936 as political pluralism developed, French Catholics could no longer be classified as solidly right-wing. In contrast to previous elections, the campaign of 1936 relegated the religious question and debates over lay education to secondary importance.[3] Despite right-wing Catholic nightmares and predictions, the violent wave of anticlericalism that had engulfed Spain never materialized in France.

The decline of ideologies of revolutionary workers’ control in France was also partially attributable to the role of the state. The French Third Republic had aided large sectors of the working class. It had, for example, established free rationalist education; agitation to establish anarchosyndicalist modern schools was comparatively minor. Unlike in Spain, governments and sectors of the bourgeoisie effectively promoted anticlerical and scientific education. By 1914 almost all French peasants could read and write. The Third Republic’s educational efforts no doubt contributed to the industrialization of France, while Restoration Spain’s inability to school peasants and workers at least until the 1920s posed an obstacle to economic development.[4] Even from 1930 to 1935, during the era of the great school-building program of the Spanish Second Republic and the multiplication of escuelas racionalistas, France had in proportion to its population twice the number of students in secondary institutions.[5] In 1931 the vast majority of illiterates in a number of Parisian factories seem to have been foreign workers, mainly North Africans.[6]

The French state, although it repressed major strikes, also mediated between labor and capital. A socialist, Alexandre Millerand, joined the government in 1899 but without his party’s official support. Millerandisme was “the first systematic attempt conducted at the highest levels to regularize industrial relations” and to ensure that the Republican state would mediate between the working class and employers.[7] The presence of a minister who was reputed to be a friend of the workers mitigated, at least briefly, antistatist and anarchist attitudes, particularly among post office personnel, miners, railroad workers, and government construction laborers.

The war itself enlarged the powers of the state and contributed to the further integration of Socialists and syndicalists into the nation. Albert Thomas, who became the Minister of Armaments, attempted to increase wages and improve working conditions by cooperating with—and cajoling—employers.[8] Thomas welcomed the interventionist state and believed that planned governmental action, not revolution, could help bring about socialism in France. He was unabashedly productivist and, already during the war, advocated Taylorism. The Socialist minister envisaged a postwar world where the state would both intervene in a rationalized private sector and administer an enlarged public sector. Workers were to be unionized, represented by shop stewards, and employed by large modern industries. Thomas had faith that Socialists would achieve justice through participation in government and collaboration with employers.

Private initiative also led to the improvement of working conditions. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Renault embarked upon a vigorous campaign to reduce accidents in order to decrease its insurance premiums and improve its labor productivity.[9] The automotive manufacturer created an accident-prevention service to collect statistics on the problem; it determined that new and inexperienced workers were victims in many cases. Sixty-seven percent of the unskilled and 14 percent of the skilled workers who were injured had worked fewer than three months in the factory, and 26 percent of all accidents occurred during their first month of employment. The prevention service established a psycho-physiological examination for the newly employed, evaluating their “hearing, seeing, breathing…intelligence, adaptation, dexterity, and reactions.” In addition, it set up for potential personnel trial tests that simulated actual working conditions and came from an examination of the aptitudes of the “best workers in each specialty.” Thus, from the moment when workers or apprentices applied for a job, they were subjected to physical and psychological analysis by physicians, engineers, and technicians to determine whether their work would be safe and productive.

Renault’s campaign against accidents was successful. From 1930 to 1932, the number of workers injured in the first three months of employment decreased 37.8 percent. Accidents during the first days of employment diminished 84 percent. However, these results must be qualified by the economic downturn of the 1930s, which permitted management to select its workers more carefully and retain them for longer than had been possible during the expansion of the 1920s. Renault’s experience contrasts sharply with that of the Catalan railroads, for example, where during the Revolution working-class militants introduced scientific techniques to prevent accidents.

A report of the Conseil national économique, composed of representatives of management, major labor unions, and the state, concluded that numerous entrepreneurs wanted to improve safety in factories in order to increase productivity.[10] A physician employed by the CGT, or Confédération générale du travail, announced both a dramatic decline in cases of lead poisoning—from 1,525 in 1928 to 494 in 1936—and decreases in mercury poisoning. The CGT review, Syndicats, agreed that social security (assurances sociales) had greatly lowered the number of deaths caused by tuberculosis.[11] Nonetheless, it is difficult to generalize about conditions of health and safety in the enterprises of the Paris region. During the factory occupations of 1936, Parisian workers often demanded improvements, and conditions varied greatly from one plant to another.

Perhaps partially in response to private and state intervention that did improve working and living conditions, French syndicalistes became more moderate. The career of the CGT’s most important leader, Léon Jouhaux, illustrated the decline of an ideology of revolutionary workers’ control with the growth of one variety of French reformism. A young revolutionary syndicalist, Jouhaux was elected secretary general of the CGT in 1909 but soon led the organization to a more conciliatory stance toward the state and the Socialist party. Jouhaux was typical of a number of prominent prewar union leaders who gradually abandoned their faith in the revolutionary spontaneity of the French proletariat and came to emphasize bread-and-butter issues.[12] Even before the Great War, support for revolutionary syndicalism was declining among leaders of the French working class.[13] In 1914 Jouhaux congratulated the Socialists on their electoral victory and hoped that their strength in Parliament would lead to new social legislation; influential union militants found it hard to resist “the Socialist seduction.”[14] When war broke out, Jouhaux feared that the working class would become isolated from the nation and that royalists and monarchists might destroy the Republic. Like Albert Thomas, he quickly joined the union sacrée, the coalition of traditional political adversaries who united to win the war. Increasingly influenced by Thomas, Jouhaux helped to expand the CGT’s role in the wartime economy.[15]

In the immediate postwar period, Communists and Bolshevik sympathizers had little more success in realizing their own version of revolution than did other Marxist or syndicalist revolutionaries. Although historians must avoid a crude determinism that excludes a priori other outcomes, I would surmise that revolution was unlikely, even in the postwar unrest, to overthrow a Third Republic bolstered by victory in the Great War. During this period of agitation, radical militants often could not win supporters even in working-class bastions such as Renault.[16] The turbulence that followed 1 May 1919 did not produce the general strike revolutionaries desired. A potential and continually postponed revolutionary movement to defend the Soviet Union demonstrated the difficulty—which would reappear during the Popular Front—of mobilizing French workers over issues of international politics. If in June 1919 some metal workers demanded political power, recognition of the Soviet government, and amnesty for political and military prisoners, many others struck for a workweek of forty-four (instead of forty-eight) hours, pay hikes, and an end to work speed-ups. The strikes remained largely legal and pacific; the French state, assured of the loyalty of its army and police, never lost control of the situation.[17] The Parisian metallurgical strikers were largely isolated from workers in other sectors and in the provinces. Following the defeat of the strike, the rightist bloc national triumphed in elections of November 1919. In May 1920 a general strike, spearheaded by railroad workers, failed because its lack of support from certain sectors of the working class combined with repression by government and employers.

Within the CGT the ideology of revolutionary syndicalism continued to recede. Already at the end of 1918, it had abandoned its radical formula of the “mine for the miners” and called for nationalization.[18] According to the Confédération, producers and consumers from départements (state administrative divisions), communes, cooperatives, and other organizations should manage enterprises in collaboration with the state. The CGT leadership—in cooperation with Albert Thomas—sought a new synthesis. In 1919 Thomas introduced legislation that proposed the nationalization of the railroads and autonomy for state-run enterprises. He and Jouhaux advocated a tripartite nationalization managed by representatives of the state, wage earners, and consumers. During the strikes of the spring of 1920, officials of various factions in the CGT also demanded nationalization, not revolutionary workers’ control.[19] A number of Socialist activists called for nationalization on “nonradical grounds.”[20] Léon Blum introduced in Parliament a CGT-adopted plan for an autonomous public railroad corporation controlled by representatives of workers, management, and consumers. Socialists and the CGT majority proposed a “defensive” nationalization that would restore workers’ morale, raise productivity, and rationalize the railroad network. In 1920 the Conseil économique du travail, which was composed mainly of syndicalists and Socialists, defined the term: “An enterprise is nationalized when it is exploited with regard to the needs of the community and has no other goal than to obtain the maximum of utility and economy for consumers.”[21] In 1920 the CGT abandoned “the revolutionary nature of the general strike” for more moderate proposals.[22] The reformism of Albert Thomas, questioning revolutionary syndicalism even before World War I, had come to dominate thinking concerning workers’ control; from 1919 onwards, nationalization became a permanent CGT demand. At the end of 1920 the powerful Fédération des métaux argued for a nonrevolutionary form of workers’ control where committees named by workers would regulate hiring, pay, and discipline.[23]

The CGT’s ideological shifts after World War I reflected its participation in the war effort and advances of social legislation, such as the eight-hour law, which passed unanimously in April 1919. It was gradually abandoning its revolutionary syndicalism before the war, but Jouhaux’s postwar projects revealed even further distance from earlier syndicalist positions of hostility to class collaboration and advocacy of a general strike. Even though the Confédération retained as its ultimate goal the abolition of wage labor, it embarked on a “policy of presence” in national affairs and systematically tried to penetrate the state apparatus. Its program of 1919 demonstrated that it was playing the democratic game, and it expressed “a genuine kind of socialistic reformism.”[24] Jouhaux, having lost faith in the revolutionary potential of the working class, pursued his goal of attaching syndicalism to the nation. The CGT leader defined the revolution as a “long-term evolutionary process which, little by little, penetrates the system.”[25] Georges Dumoulin and other prominent CGT leaders followed Jouhaux’s path from revolutionary syndicalism to reformism.

In direct contrast to the Spanish CNT, the French Confédération joined commissions paritaires, labor-management boards in both the public and private sectors. During the 1920s the CGT leader’s opinion on the choice of labor minister was solicited even by rightist governments, and the Confédération collaborated with the Socialist parliamentary group. Despite the opposition of its rival, the Communist-influenced CGTU (Confédération générale du travail unitaire), the CGT began to search systematically for compromises to avoid strikes. In 1925 Jouhaux’s immediate postwar suggestion of a National Economic Council of representatives from labor, management, and consumers was adopted by Premier Edouard Herriot, a Radical who accepted unionization of government employees, many of whom joined the CGT.[26] In 1927 the moderate but influential Fédération des fonctionnaires rejoined the Confédération. The passage of housing legislation in 1927 and a social security law in 1928 reinforced the day-to-day reformist policies of the CGT.

Although the CGT’s strategy did not lead to a truly mass union movement until 1936, when literally millions of new members joined, its pragmatism proved more popular than the revolutionary sectarianism of the CGTU or the small CGTSR (Confédération générale du travail syndicaliste révolutionnaire), where anarchists and anarchosyndicalists agitated. The CGT’s “policy of presence” in the state apparatus “renewed and reinforced its structures, increased the number of its members and its militants, enlarged its audience and perspectives.”[27]

In comparison, the strongly Communist CGTU declined continuously after 1926.[28] Although when it began in 1921 it had attracted more members than the CGT, by 1926 the CGTU had 431,240 adherents and the CGT 524,960. By 1934 the CGTU’s membership was 264,085 and the CGT’s was 490,984; CGTU revolutionary rhetoric, including charges after 1928 that the CGT leaders were “social fascists,” was unable to prevent the attrition of its membership. Nor did its opposition in 1928 to social reforms such as social security and workers’ retirement funds—which it also termed “fascist”—endear it to the masses. In the 1930s the CGTU, like the PCF (Parti communiste français) to which it was closely linked, emerged from the periphery only when it toned down its revolutionary rhetoric. In 1932 the union began to alter its tactics in the automotive sector. CGTU officials attacked “sectarianism” and “sloganeering,” and with renewed vigor supported claims by the smallest groups of workers.[29] In aviation the CGTU’s doctrinal refusal to deal directly with the ministries became “outmoded” in the 1930s.[30] During negotiations to merge the two unions in 1934, the CGT held a much stronger bargaining position than its rival. Unification of the two was achieved in March 1936 and contributed to the élan of the Popular Front, reducing even further the tiny membership (between four thousand and twenty thousand) of the anarchosyndicalist CGTSR.[31] Though never entirely disappearing, revolutionary movements such as anarchism and syndicalism were never dominant during the 1930s in Paris or France.

In Spain, significantly, the reverse occurred: the growth of UGT radicalism during the Second Republic, and especially in 1936, mirrored the rise of a revolutionary temper among key sectors of peasants and workers. During the same decade there emerged no French equivalent of Largo Caballero, who led the Spanish Socialists and the UGT in a revolutionary direction after 1933. Spanish historians have debated whether Largo led or merely followed the masses toward the dictatorship of the proletariat. Whatever the verdict on this issue, it was clear that under Largo, Spanish Socialists, unlike the French, were encouraging workers to take over many state functions. Important Spanish Socialists declared that if the Second Republic did not satisfy their demands, they would make revolution.[32] The burning of churches in May 1931, the insurrections of July 1931 in the Seville area, of January 1932 in the Llobregat valley, and of January 1933 in Barcelona demonstrated that Largo had some reason to become “obsessed” that the CNT “might outdistance him on the Left.” The harshness of the repression that followed the Socialist-backed Asturias revolt of October 1934 did little to diminish Socialists’ revolutionism. After the electoral victory of the Popular Front, Largo continued to call for a proletarian dictatorship and a revolutionary alliance with the CNT. By the summer of 1936, Socialists espousing revolution were dominant in Spain but not in France. Long-term social and economic problems—lack of land reform and slowness of industrialization and modernization—merged with political difficulties—Church-state conflict, paralysis of the administration, and militant regionalisms—to push Spanish Socialists and Spain itself into revolution and civil war.

The French Socialists followed a more moderate path. A distinction between the conquest and the exercise of power, which Léon Blum had elaborated in 1926, continued to be the touchstone of Socialist ideology during the Popular Front. According to Blum, the conquest of power could occur when the majority of a population that desired significant change supported the Socialist party (Section française de l’Internationale ouvrière, or SFIO). The Socialists could then take all political power through legal or illegal means to make a social revolution that would alter property relations.[33] By contrast, the exercise of power would take place when the SFIO was the dominant party in a leftist majority; a Socialist-dominated administration would govern within the limits of capitalist legality and the rules of parliamentary democracy. During the Popular Front, Socialists exercised power—and relegated revolution further into the future, as did Communists. This rapprochement between Socialists and Communists was indeed ironic, since Blum had elaborated his distinction between the conquest and the exercise of power to criticize the PCF’s impetuousness. He had accused French Bolsheviks of blindly imitating their Soviet comrades by attempting to conquer power before the proletariat was ready, and he blamed them for disparaging reforms that would prepare the working class for revolution.[34] On the same grounds, Blum attacked the revolutionary Left within his own party.

The SFIO’s leftist wing, which included advocates of revolutionary workers’ control, was never to dominate the party; even the commitment to revolution of leftist leaders such as Marcel Pivert has been questioned.[35] On 27 May 1936 in the midst of the wave of sit-downs, Pivert published his famous article, “Everything is possible,” in which he implied that the revolutionary moment had arrived. During the first year of the Popular Front government, however, Pivert advocated support for the Blum government, “not…revolutionary action outside the legal channels.”[36] The leader of the Gauche révolutionnaire (GR), Pivert served in a minor capacity as media consultant in the first Blum administration and hoped to use his position to strengthen his influence within the SFIO. Pivert asserted that it was foolish to condemn a government that permitted “the development of the revolutionary capacity of the masses.”[37] Nor did other members of the GR wish to break completely with the government in the fall and winter of 1936.

Yet despite obvious ambiguity, the Pivertists were considered revolutionaries by many supporters and opponents. In early 1937 Pivert resigned from the government, declaring that he would not “capitulate before capitalism and the banks. No! I agree neither to social peace nor to union sacrée.[38] During the elections of 1936 in Paris, the Socialists lost ground to the Communists. A police observer attributed the Socialist decline to the departure of the “moderate” neo-Socialists and to the “extremism” of the Fédération de la Seine, where the pivertistes and other leftist Socialists were influential; this group “often tried to appear more revolutionary than its Communist neighbors.”[39] After the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, the GR wanted French workers to emulate their Spanish comrades by launching a social revolution and forming a proletarian government similar to that of Barcelona in the summer of 1936. Pivert, though, had to concede that his advice had been ignored by the great majority of the working class: “The gravest obstacles [to the pursuit of revolutionary struggle] seem to come from ourselves as much as from our class enemies.…The proletariat lacks an offensive spirit.”[40]

In April 1937 the Gauche révolutionnaire won 11.6 percent of the votes in the Socialist party’s national council, and in January 1938 it won 18.4 percent.[41] This faction attracted support in regions where Socialist electoral strength was weak and where small groups of radical intellectuals, with little commitment to the parliamentary road to socialism, found pivertisme attractive. Even though their strength grew in 1937, the radicals never captured the SFIO, made a revolution, or even acquired a working-class base. In the long run the influence of the GR on the SFIO’s workplace cells, the amicales socialistes, was not consequential. During the strikes of the Popular Front, the pivertistes were never sufficiently numerous or “well placed to play any decisive role.”[42]

The GR’s expulsion from the SFIO in June 1938 effectively destroyed it. A number of prominent militants who had been associated with this faction refused to join Pivert’s new group, Parti socialiste ouvrier et paysan (PSOP), which rejected “social-democratic reformism,” imperialism, and national defense.[43] Cut off from the SFIO, the PSOP—like the Trotskyists—became a sect. Again, the importance of those advocating an immediate revolution was not decisive in the French Socialist movement in the 1930s. The PSOP became neither the revolu-tionary vanguard of the working class nor the French equivalent of the POUM.[44]

Trotskyists and other leftists have criticized Pivert—as they have attacked Andrés Nin of the POUM—for collaborating with bourgeois governments and for failing to establish a truly revolutionary party at the proper moment. But the question of why the revolutionary groups in France (including Trotsky’s own) were not able to acquire solid support in the working class and to make a revolution has been answered only superficially. Leftist critics have offered a basically political explanation for the failure of revolution in France in 1936, and they have emphasized lack of leadership, that is, the absence of a French Lenin. They have also called attention to the counterrevolutionary activity of the Soviet Union, which wanted to bolster the democracies against the growing international threat of fascism. The critiques of the Trotskyists and others have however largely ignored a discussion of social and economic factors that debilitated revolutionary movements—whether Trotskyist, anarchosyndicalist, or Communist—in advanced capitalist countries such as France.

At the end of the First World War, communism replaced anarchosyndicalism as the dominant ideology of revolutionary militants. At its birth in France, communism was, in a sense, another ideology of revolutionary workers’ control in the form of soviets, or workers’ and soldiers’ councils, as opposed to the union. Accordingly, French revolutionaries interpreted bolshevism as an approximate form of syndicalism.[45] Victor Griffuelhes, secretary general of the CGT from 1902 to 1909, declared that both revolutionary syndicalism and the soviets were based on “the producer while neglecting the citizen. What has made and continues to constitute the force of the soviets is the power given to the producers—workers and peasants.”[46] Revolutionary syndicalists shared the Communists’ disdain for parliamentarism.

Yet communism in France was, in part, an import from another country, the Soviet Union, whose social conditions resembled those of Spain more than of France. Communism, or bolshevism, was unable to maintain its immediate postwar popularity. At the split between Communists and Socialists at the Congress of Tours in 1920, with 120,000 members the Communists greatly outnumbered the Socialists, with 50,000. Then in the elections of 1924, the PCF won 877,000 votes and the Socialists approximately 1,500,000. In 1933 the membership of the PCF dropped to 28,000, whereas that of the Socialists rose to 130,000.[47]

Before the 1928 elections the French Communist party had adopted a new line of “class against class” that echoed the position of the Communist International. The PCF believed that a new period of capitalist instability had begun and that comrades should take a hard line against the “social imperialists” or “social fascists” of the SFIO. This intransigent tactic was a key factor in the 1928 elections that took place under the reestablished scrutin d’arrondissement. According to this system of voting, if no candidate won an absolute majority in the first round, a run-off election was held in which the candidate who obtained the most votes was declared the winner. This system encouraged political alliances in order to win the second ballot, but Communist voters were instructed to disregard “republican discipline” and to vote for no other candidates of the Left in the second round. Although the PCF gained 200,000 votes in the first round or 1,063,000 compared to the Socialist total of 1,700,000, 44 percent of its voters ignored the party’s instructions and voted instead for the better-placed Socialist or Radical in the second round.[48] Traditional republican discipline triumphed in the second round, and the PCF lost thirteen of its twenty-seven seats in the Chamber of Deputies. Many Communist leaders—Marcel Cachin, André Marty, and Paul Vaillant-Couturier—were defeated. Maurice Thorez, the future PCF head, was successful only because he was able to attract Socialist votes in the second round.

In 1929 during the wave of repression and arrests of its militants and leaders, the Communist party continued its revolutionary rhetoric. It demanded a revolutionary civil war and accused the Socialists of being “enemies of the proletariat and of the revolution.”[49] Yet the attrition of members was not halted, particularly in key industrial regions. From 1924 to 1929, membership declined 45 percent in Paris. The PCF was no more successful on the streets; demonstrations from 1929 to 1933 to defend the Soviet Union against “war-mongering imperialists” and to protest against unemployment failed to attract large numbers.[50] The party continued to lose members and votes at the beginning of the economic depression that, according to its own analysis of capitalism’s crisis, should have brought it new popularity. Before the elections of 1932, Maurice Thorez accused his Socialist rivals of being “the principal support of the bourgeois dictatorship. The crisis accelerates the fascistization of the Socialist party and of the CGT [, which are] ever increasingly integrated into the apparatus of the bourgeois state.”[51] Regardless of the harsh rhetoric, in 1932 PCF and SFIO votes were 783,000 and 1,964,000 respectively. The Communist percentage of the vote declined from 9.3 percent to 6.8 percent, which was less than in 1924. In the Paris region, it fell from 20.7 percent to 17.4 percent. Only eleven Communist deputies remained in the Chamber.[52]

The Communist party never captured more than 12 percent of the national vote until 1936, when it appeared unabashedly reformist and patriotic. Already in 1934 during the cantonal elections, when the Popular Front was forming, the PCF decided to adhere to republican discipline and support Socialist candidates in the second ballot. The party was moderating its positions to attract the petty bourgeoisie who, it feared, might gravitate toward fascism as it believed the Germans had. At the end of 1934 in discussions concerning a common platform with Socialists, the Communists refused the Socialists’ demands for “structural reforms” or nationalizations, fearing major changes that might alienate the middle classes whom the PCF now sought to seduce. Despite difficulties in establishing a common program for the municipal elections of 1935, the agreement to back the best-placed candidate of the Left persisted and resulted in a PCF gain of approximately fifty municipal seats, eight of which were in Paris itself.[53] Significantly, in 1935 the Communists chose Bastille Day, the symbol of modern French nationalism, for a mass rally in support of the Popular Front.

During the elections of 1936 the PCF instructed its militants to avoid any slogan that was revolutionary and to participate in the singing of the Marseillaise.[54] According to Thorez, the “most successful” Communist campaign slogan was For a Free, Strong, and Happy France. Comrades offered an “outstretched hand” to Catholics. To elect Communist candidates, militants were permitted to deviate from the “ ‘political line’ of communism.” The PCF’s votes nearly doubled, and it acquired 72 seats in the Chamber, compared to 116 for the Radicals and 182 for the SFIO and similar groups. For the first time the PCF became a major parliamentary force and, until recently, “a source of lasting attraction to the French masses.”[55]

In Paris, the Socialists lost ground to the Communists in the 1936 legislative elections, which a police observer attributed to the departure of the “moderate” neo-Socialists and to the “extremism” of the Fédération de la Seine, where left-wingers dominated. Paradoxically, the PCF managed to reassure many moderates of the Left and to calm their fears.[56] The adoption of a “national and democratic” strategy also permitted the PCF to increase its membership significantly: from 42,500 in 1934 and 87,000 in 1935, membership jumped to 235,000 in 1936 and to 302,000 in 1937.[57] During the Popular Front, Communist separation between theory and practice came to resemble that of the SFIO: the parties cooperated to achieve major reforms, postponing both revolution and dictatorship of the proletariat to the distant future.[58] The greatest PCF gains in votes and members took place at a time when it argued against any immediate application of revolutionary workers’ control or soviets. It advocated instead “significant improvements” for the workers within the capitalist system. CGTU and Communist support for the reforms of the Popular Front can be seen not only as a tactical maneuver that would bolster Franco-Soviet cooperation against Hitler’s Germany but also as belated acknowledgment of the relative success of the CGT’s and the Socialists’ strategy of compromise and their synthesis of reform and revolution, nationalism and internationalism. The Communist synthesis included active support for the Soviet Union and Republican Spain.

As revolutionary currents weakened, consumerist desires rose. New needs accompanied the acceptance of the most modern techniques of production and consumption. In both 1919 and 1935 the CGT proposed that nationalized enterprises be controlled by delegates; the state would choose one-third of them, and the producers (workers and technicians) would choose another third. The remaining delegates would come from consumers. The Confédération’s desire for the participation of consumers revealed that it was moving from a focus on control of production toward an appetite for consumption. Although the CGT continued to advocate the development of the productive forces during the interwar years, it altered its emphasis and began to view the worker not only as producer but, just as important, as consumer.

In return for wider and more equal distribution, French unions were willing to accept both the goods produced by capitalism and the methods used to manufacture them. Even the most revolutionary union, the CGTU—which, in the 1920s, included both revolutionary syndicalists and Communists and which continued to demand workers’ control—allowed and even lauded the most modern techniques of rationalization, especially if they were employed in the Soviet Union. In 1927 when a revolutionary syndicalist asked O. Rabaté, a CGTU leader and future architect of the Popular Front, where rationalization did not brutalize workers, Rabaté responded, “In Moscow.”[59] According to a 1927 article by Maurice Thorez, workers’ rationalization equaled socialism. In the 1930s Humanité praised Stakhanovism, which produced “brilliant results.” On the occasion of a working visit of French Communist miners to the Soviet pits, they reported, “We have doubled or quadrupled normal production without special effort, something that is absolutely impossible in the conditions of the capitalist countries.[60] In the Soviet Union, “to be a Stakhanovist is a matter of honor for every worker.” Humanité remarked that visiting French comrades had experienced a happy surprise when they learned that the wages of their Soviet colleagues were nearly ten times higher than French wages: “This is the system of pay in the Soviet Union! Nowhere in the world is there anything similar.”[61]

Yet once in the West, French Communists were much more critical of scientific organization of work, even though they accepted it in principle. In 1927 Rabaté censured—in a manner reminiscent of Emile Pouget—the overwork, unemployment, and low salaries that were, for Rabaté, intrinsic to capitalist rationalization. The CGTU leader denied that American workers received high wages and owned their own cars; he tried to refute the idea that one goal of Taylorism was to increase consumption by the working class. Yet opposing assembly-line production and new labor techniques was like “being against rain”:

We are for the principles of scientific organization of work.…To try to stop technical progress would not be truly revolutionary. The revolutionaries know that the working class will be the successor of capitalism and that this scientific organization will permit a much more rapid construction of socialism when the proletariat takes power.[62]

Thus the CGTU endorsed the work processes developed by capitalism, and its critique centered on the failure to distribute commodities more widely and equally. In fact, in 1927 Rabaté doubted that the French automotive industry was capable of providing cars for the masses. A decade later the Communist position had changed little: at the beginning of the great strike wave of 1936, the PCF asserted that “the masses…have had enough of the development of machines that benefit only the few.”[63]

Like the Communists, French anarchists and anarchosyndicalists—who, as we have seen, had lost their pre-World-War-I domination of the national CGT—doubted the ability of capitalism to increase consumption. Sébastien Faure, a prominent anarchist, wanted an increase in wages to remedy the economic crisis of 1932. Faure believed that “under-consumption” was the danger to combat and that “the capacity of consumption, which constantly multiplies needs,…is going to progress forever.”[64] The anarchist leader was quite skeptical of capitalism’s ability to augment wages and decrease worktime. Other libertarians called for one month of vacation and even complained that French capitalists were rationalizing too slowly.[65]

The Socialists had been longtime advocates of increased consumption through rationalization. Prominent party members like André Philip and Jules Moch viewed rationalization favorably because it boosted workers’ consumption. The Socialist solution to the economic stagnation of the depression—to boost the purchasing power of the masses—was “already contained in the comprehensive Socialist program of 1927.”[66] According to Blum, the economic crisis of the 1930s was caused not by overproduction but by insufficient demand. The Socialists, Blum thought, must use the power of the state to augment the buying power of the masses. Revolution might have been the ultimate raison d’être for many in the SFIO, but increasing pouvoir d’achat (purchasing power) was first on the list of priorities for the majority of Socialists.

Other sectors of the Socialist movement—the “planners” and nonconformist Socialists—moved even further away from a revolutionary alternative based on the Soviet or anarchosyndicalist model. Nonconformist Socialists and neo-Socialists who had split from the SFIO in 1933 welcomed the ideas of the planners, who believed that orthodox Marxism and, of course, anarchosyndicalism were outmoded. They rejected not only revolutionary models but also Blum’s distinction between the conquest and exercise of power. Instead, planners—individuals such as Henri de Man and groups like Combat marxiste and Révolution constructive—wanted to begin the construction of a socialist society with the collaboration of the middle classes. Planners distinguished between various groups within the bourgeoisie and considered certain of its elements, particularly industrial technicians, to be potential allies against the “parasitic” oligarchy of big or financial capital.[67] Many planners advocated limited nationalizations and slow evolution toward socialism. In keeping with their desire to ally with sympathetic sectors of the middle classes, they favored a mixed economy composed of public and private sectors and generally rejected the rhetoric of class war and revolution that the mainstream of the SFIO sometimes employed. Revolutionary syndicalists both inside and outside the CGT attacked the planners’ repudiation of their own ouvriériste position, which based hopes for change on the working class alone.[68]

In 1934 the SFIO mainstream rejected planning for both political and ideological reasons. Blum believed that a commitment to planning would compromise his party’s ultimate, if distant, goal of socialist revolution and lead to increased division within the SFIO. However in February the CGT began to devise its own plan; like the plan of the Belgian Workers’ party, it demanded an augmentation of consumption by the masses to combat the economic crisis. As had the SFIO in 1932, the CGT favored nationalizing banks and key industries.[69] In the CGT plan issued in 1935, private management retained its control on the shop floor, and workers’ control merited only passing mention. Foreshadowing post–World-War-II planning in France, the CGT plan was more concerned with rationalization and modernization than with workers’ democracy or participation. The jobless were to be employed by a reduction of the workweek—the total suggested was usually forty hours—and by large public-works projects. Mass production and consumption were the goals of the CGT.

When unity between the CGT and the smaller Communist-dominated union, CGTU, was finally realized at Toulouse in March 1936, the newly unified union supported the program of the Popular Front. The Left’s agreement on a platform signified that the electoral alliance might be more cohesive than the ephemeral Socialist-Radical coalition had been in 1932. It also assured voters who feared continued governmental instability that the Left’s alliance might endure. Because of Communist and Radical opposition, the program of the Rassemblement populaire, as the French Popular Front was officially known, limited the scope of nationalizations more severely than the CGT plan or the Socialist program. As it was made public in January 1936, the Popular Front’s platform nevertheless demanded nationalization of the defense industries and more stringent state control of the Banque de France. In addition the Popular Front proposed, as the CGT had, large public-works projects that would get the unemployed back on the job and a reduction of the working week without a decrease of pay. An augmentation of pouvoir d’achat remained an essential goal of the Left.

While retaining a traditional productivism, the ideologies of the French Left in the first third of the twentieth century therefore shifted toward an emphasis on consumption. They accepted, even glorified, capitalist methods of production; the Left desired a more equitable distribution of goods and services. Replacing the old anarchosyndicalist demand for workers’ control of the means of production was a call for state control, since the Left believed that it could ensure more efficient production and fairer distribution through command of government. The dominant organizations of the French Left—SFIO, PCF, CGT, CGTU—sought to increase their political power and influence, not to take direct control of the productive forces or even to establish soviets. Even before the victory of the Popular Front—when the Left captured political power at the national level—the Communist and Socialist parties already dominated a number of local governments throughout France. Unlike in Spain, where many significant working-class organizations remained politically powerless and were even periodically outlawed, French society was capable of sharing political power with the Left. During the 1930s in Spain, union and party militants—including, at times, Socialists—were jailed, whereas in France their counterparts were running municipal and communal governments.

The Left’s expanding domination of the Parisian suburbs between the wars revealed its integration into French society and the strength of the French social consensus. In light of leftist, particularly Communist, ideologies of class warfare or class against class and the sporadic repression of the Communist party in the 1920s, this assertion of the integrative capacities of French society may seem unfounded. However, the actual policies of the Left in the Parisian suburbs revealed a fidelity to the kind of industrial modernization that other classes in France had practiced and encouraged. Many suburban voters expressed their discontent with the lack of local infrastructure by voting Socialist or, increasingly, Communist. The Left responded by constructing sewers and installing running water, electrical facilities, and gas lines, and by paving the streets and roads that many of the new developments (lotissements) lacked. Although the Loi Sarraut (1928) helped encourage some building of roads and of water and sanitation facilities, this law left important gaps in the infrastructure; these local governments attempted to fill.

The Communists were quite proud of their municipal work. One Communist historian has recently declared that in the suburbs the French Communists played the same role as their Soviet comrades did in the Soviet Union.[70] According to Maurice Thorez, the Communist municipalities were an “invaluable expression of the Party’s policies”: “Our municipality [Villejuif] created a city out of a swamp: Streets built, municipal services started, water, gas, and electricity.”[71] At Villejuif in 1933, the PCF proudly inaugurated the Karl Marx School. Its construction had been directed by a group of progressive and revolutionary architects, including André Lurçat, whose ideology revealed certain achievements and desires of the French Left. During the school’s construction, Lurçat exposed his thoughts on modern architecture: shelter was the first priority, aesthetics were secondary. In the new era, the architect should address himself not to the individual client but to “powerful organizations” that “act in the name of the masses.” These organizations did not demand beauty but a sound and economic order. Like his colleague Le Corbusier, Lurçat was a follower of modern urbanism; he advocated improving automobile circulation in the “overly narrow” streets. Against the “plastic inertia of the older cities,” the new city would oppose “the dynamism of its principal elements.”[72] He claimed that urbanism must become a science that investigated “the ever-increasing needs.” Thus, Lurçat, with Communist support, was able to realize some of the urban policies that many in the Spanish Left could only imagine.

The PCF, often with the aid of the French government, built modern housing in working-class suburbs, such as Villejuif, where most workers commuted to their jobs.[73] The Communists offered services in the new housing developments and organized renters and property owners to obtain subsidies. At Vitry—with 48,929 inhabitants, the fifteenth largest city in France—the Communist municipality provided low-cost housing (HBM, or habitations à bon marché) for workers. At Bagneux the PCF took control of a HBM that philanthropists had constructed for wage earners who commuted to the large firms of the region; it organized the renters over bread-and-butter issues, such as the lack of roads and public transportation. During 1935–1936 Communists campaigned for control of the municipality as the young “generation destined to manage the commune in a modern way.” To the electorate, the Communist militants appeared to be “agents of modernity.” In other suburban areas they established clinics, medical services, day-care centers, showers, and even a summer camp for two hundred children, which was praised by a conservative newspaper, Le Temps. Communist control in various suburbs allowed a stable power base that provided jobs, housing, and other advantages for militants.

Socialists, who also desired to govern working-class municipalities, could prevent Communist penetration by enacting policies similar to those of their rivals. Following World War I at Suresnes, the home of the automaker Talbot, the Socialist mayor modernized the old village, which had up to then “anachronistically conserved its rural character.”[74] Henri Sellier, mayor from 1919 to 1941, helped to create the office of HBM, built clinics, day-care centers, schools, old-age homes, libraries, gymnasiums, and swimming pools. The Socialist municipality improved automobile circulation and devised plans to widen roads. At Boulogne-Billancourt and Pantin, PCF candidates were unable to defeat efficient and popular Socialist mayors.[75]

In the 1930s France was unmistakably a pluralist society where various political parties, which claimed to represent different social classes, vied for power. Underneath the conflict and the verbal animosity of the politicians, the major political forces formed a consensus, unknown in Spain. Parties claiming to represent the working class were not only legalized but also officially shared political, administrative, and, to a lesser extent, economic power with other political groupings and social classes. In the suburbs and towns Communists and Socialists helped provide the infrastructure necessary for production. Education, transportation, health, housing, and even certain leisure facilities were built or improved by local governments of the Left. While effectively contributing to the economic development and the modernization of the nation, the political parties and unions of the Left accepted both the products of capitalist industry and its methods of organizing work. The principal division between the economic policies of the Left and the Right concerned the form of ownership—nationalization versus private control of production—but not the content or the methods of production.[76] The traditional anarchosyndicalist demand for workers’ or unions’ control at the point of production was largely replaced by the struggles of leftist parties and unions to augment their own power and to increase consumption by their constituencies. The workers were viewed not only as producers but also, just as important, as consumers. The French working-class militants would not occupy the factories to make a revolution for the producers, as the Spanish militants did, but instead to increase their leisure and consumption.


1. See Eugen Weber, “Un demi-siècle de glissement à droite,” International Review of Social History 5, no. 2 (1960): 165–201.

2. Michel Winock, Histoire politique de la revue «Esprit», 1930–1950 (Paris, 1975), pp. 121, 159; Réunion organisée par le club de faubourg, 14 May 1936, AN, F713983; Les milieux catholiques, 22 May 1936, AN F713983; Paul Christophe, 1936: Les catholiques et le front populaire (Paris, 1986), pp. 25–32.

3. Georges Dupeux, Le front populaire et les élections de 1936 (Paris, 1959), p. 113.

4. Joseph N. Moody, French Education since Napoleon (Syracuse, N.Y., 1978), pp. 99, 146; Rondo Cameron, “Por qué fue tan desigual la industrialización europea,” in La industrialización europea: Estadios y tipos, Pierre Vilar, Jordi Nadal, Rondo Cameron, and Peter Mathias (Barcelona, 1981), pp. 312–17, Ivan T. Berend and Gyorgy Ranki, The European Periphery and Industrialization, 1780–1914, trans. Eva Palmai (Cambridge, 1982), p. 58.

5. B. R. Mitchell, European Historical Statistics, 1750–1970 (New York, 1975).

6. Formation des illetrés, AN, 39AS387.

7. Madeleine Rebérioux, La république radicale, 1898–1914 (Paris, 1975), p. 76.

8. Madeleine Rebérioux and Patrick Fridenson, “Albert Thomas, pivot du réformisme français,” Le Mouvement social, no. 87 (April–June 1974); Alain Hennebicque, “Albert Thomas et le régime des usines de guerre, 1915–1917,” in 1914–1918: L’autre front, ed. P. Fridenson (Paris, 1977), pp. 122–44; Gerd Hardach, “La mobilisation industrielle en 1914–1918: Production, planification et idéologie,” in 1914–1918: L’autre front, ed. P. Fridenson, p. 108.

9. See documents in AN, 91AQ57.

10. M. Fleurent, “Les industries chimiques,” Conseil national économique, AN, F128796.

11. Medical results reported in La Vie ouvrière, 24 November 1938; Syndicats, 16 October 1936.

12. Jacques Juillard, “Diversité des réformismes,” Le Mouvement social, no. 87 (April–June 1974): 4; Martin Fine, “Toward Corporatism: The Movement for Capital-Labor Collaboration in France, 1914–1936” (Ph.D. diss., University of Wisconsin, 1971).

13. Peter M. Arum, “Du syndicalisme révolutionnaire au réformisme: Georges Dumoulin (1903–1923),” Le Mouvement social, no. 87 (April–June 1974): 39.

14. Bernard Georges and Denise Tintant, Léon Jouhaux: Cinquante ans de syndicalisme (Paris, 1962–1979), 1:1.

15. Georges Lefranc, Le mouvement syndical sous la Troisième République (Paris, 1967), p. 198; Georges Lefranc, Le mouvement socialiste sous la Troisième République (1875–1940) (Paris, 1963), 2:227. On Spanish libertarian reaction to World War I, see Gerald Meaker, The Revolutionary Left in Spain, 1914–1923 (Stanford, 1974), pp. 28–29, and Gaston Leval, El prófugo (Valencia, 1935).

16. Hardach, “Mobilisation,” p. 235; Fine, “Corporatism,” p. 42.

17. See Annie Kriegel (Aux origines du communisme français: Contribution à l’histoire du mouvement ouvrier français [Paris, 1969]), who concludes that the organized working-class movement (a minority of the class) had revolutionary aspirations in 1919–1920 but that the situation in France was not revolutionary because of the strength of the French bourgeoisie and the victory of the nation. For an emphasis on workers’ revolutionary activity, see N. Papayanis, “Masses révolutionnaires et directions réformistes: Les tensions au cours des grèves des métallurgistes français en 1919,” Le Mouvement social, no. 93 (Oct.–Dec. 1975): 51–73; B. Abherve, “Les origines de la grève des métallurgistes parisiens, juin 1919,” Le Mouvement social, no. 93 (Oct.–Dec. 1975): 77–85. For views stressing the limits of revolutionary activity, see Jean-Paul Brunet, Saint-Denis: La ville rouge, 1890–1939 (Paris, 1980), pp. 210–32; Robert Wohl, French Communism in the Making, 1914–1924 (Stanford, 1966), p. 167.

18. Lefranc, Mouvement syndical, p. 216.

19. Michel Collinet, L’ouvrier français, esprit du syndicalisme (Paris, 1951), p. 157.

20. Charles Maier, Recasting Bourgeois Europe (Princeton, 1975), pp. 148–49.

21. Lefranc, Mouvement syndical, p. 230.

22. Jacques Amoyal, “Les origines socialistes et syndicalistes de la planification en France,” Le Mouvement social, no. 87 (April–June 1974): 158; see also Richard F. Kuisel, Capitalism and the State in Modern France (New York, 1981), p. 79.

23. Lefranc, Mouvement syndical, p. 249.

24. Georges and Tintant, Jouhaux, 1:326.

25. Quoted in Lefranc, Mouvement syndical, p. 224.

26. René Mouriaux, La CGT (Paris, 1982), p. 63.

27. Georges and Tintant, Jouhaux, 2:43.

28. Antoine Prost, La CGT à l’époque du front populaire, 1934–1939 (Paris, 1964), p. 34.

29. Jean-Paul Depretto and Sylvie V. Schweitzer, Le communisme à l’usine: Vie ouvrière et mouvement ouvrier chez Renault, 1920–1939 (Paris, 1984), p. 107.

30. Herrick Eaton Chapman, “Reshaping French Industrial Politics: Workers, Employers, State Officials, and the Struggle for Control in the Aircraft Industry, 1938–1950” (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Berkeley, 1983), p. 81.

31. Jean Rabaut, Tout est possible: Les «gauchistes» français, 1929–1944 (Paris, 1974), p. 224, which concludes that the CGTSR never initiated an important strike; see Kathryn E. Amdur, “La tradition révolutionnaire entre syndicalisme et communisme dans la France de l’entre-deux-guerres,” Le Mouvement social, no. 139 (April–June 1987): 48, which emphasizes the persistence of revolutionary syndicalism in this period.

32. Raymond Carr, The Spanish Tragedy: The Civil War in Perspective (London, 1977), pp. 52–53.

33. Lefranc, Mouvement socialiste, 2:267; Tony Judt, La reconstruction du parti socialiste (Paris, 1976), p. 81; Gilbert Ziebura, Léon Blum et le parti socialiste, 1872–1934, trans. Jean Duplex (Paris, 1967), p. 286.

34. Léon Blum, L’œuvre (Paris, 1972), pp. 451–60.

35. Donald N. Baker, “The Politics of Socialist Protest in France: The Left Wing of the Socialist Party, 1921–1939,” Journal of Modern History 43, no. 1 (March 1971): 24, 36–41, which views the pivertistes more as protesters than revolutionaries. For a recent interpretation of the SFIO’s reformism, see Jacques Kergoat, Le parti socialiste (Paris, 1983); see also Tony Judt, Marxism and the French Left: Studies on Labour and Politics in France, 1930–1981 (New York, 1986), p. 158, which contrasts the “doctrinal intransigence” of the SFIO with its political compromises.

36. Donald N. Baker, “The Socialists and the Workers of Paris: The Amicales Socialistes, 1936–1940,” International Review of Social History 24 (1979): 8; Nathanael Greene, Crisis and Decline: The French Socialist Party in the Popular Front (Ithaca, 1969), p. 141; Helmut Gruber, Léon Blum, French Socialism, and the Popular Front: A Case of Internal Contradictions (Ithaca, 1986), p. 40, emphasizes the moderation of Pivert.

37. Pivert quoted in Jean-Paul Joubert, Révolutionnaires de la SFIO: Marceau Pivert et le pivertisme (Paris, 1977), p. 141.

38. Pivert quoted in ibid.; Rabaut, Tout, pp. 242–43.

39. Résultat des élections législatives, 29 April 1936, AN, F713983.

40. Pivert, 13 March 1937, quoted in Greene, Crisis, p. 136.

41. Greene, Crisis, p. 194.

42. Baker, “Amicales,” pp. 20, 29; Jean-Pierre Rioux, “Les socialistes dans l’entreprise au temps du front populaire: Quelques remarques sur les amicales socialistes (1936–1939),” Le Mouvement social, no. 106 (January–March 1976): 3–24; see also Joubert, Révolutionnaires, pp. 102–3, 145.

43. Rabaut, Tout, p. 273.

44. Joubert, Révolutionnaires, p. 155. It is interesting to note that the social composition of the POUM, unlike that of the Gauche révolutionnaire, was working-class (Victor Alba, Histoire du POUM, trans. Noémie Pagés [Paris, 1975]).

45. Kriegel, Origines, p. 61.

46. Griffuelhes quoted in Lefranc, Mouvement syndical, p. 248.

47. Jean Touchard, La gauche en France depuis 1900 (Paris, 1977), chap. 2; Nicole Racine and Louis Bodin, Le parti communiste français pendant l’entre-deux-guerres (Paris, 1972), p. 209, give figures of 180,000 PCF members at Tours and 30,000 in 1933.

48. Tom Kemp, Stalinism in France: The First Twenty Years of the French Communist Party (London, 1984), 1:88–89; Jacques Fauvet, Histoire du parti communiste français, 1920–1976 (Paris, 1977), p. 77.

49. P. Semard quoted in Racine and Bodin, Parti, p. 171.

50. Fauvet, Parti, p. 81; Jean-Paul Brunet, Histoire du parti communiste français (1920–1982) (Paris, 1982), p. 41.

51. Thorez quoted in Dupeux, Elections, p. 70.

52. Fauvet, Parti, p. 97; Brunet (PCF, p. 44) states that the PCF had 6.7 percent of registered voters and 6.3 percent of votes cast.

53. Fauvet, Parti, p. 146; Brunet, PCF; figures vary slightly.

54. Instructions données par la direction du parti communiste à ses organismes de base pour le 2e tour de scrutin, 30 April 1936, AN, F713983.

55. Irwin M. Wall, French Communism in the Era of Stalin (Westport, Conn., 1983), p. 16; see also Jacques Kergoat, La France du front populaire (Paris, 1986); Henri Heldman, “Le parti communiste français à la conquête de la classe ouvrière: Les cellules d’entreprise, 1924–1938” (Thèse, 3e cycle, University of Nanterre, 1979), p. 187.

56. Résultat des élections législatives, 29 April 1936, AN, F713983.

57. Annie Kriegel, “Le parti communiste français sous la Troisième République (1920–1939): Evolution de ses effectifs,” Revue française de science politique 21, no. 1 (February 1966): 33; Brunet, PCF, p. 52.

58. For the PCF, see Louis Bodin, “De Tours à Villeurbanne: Pour une lecture renouvelée de l’histoire du parti communiste français,” Annales Economies, Sociétés, Civilisations, nos. 2–3 (March–June 1975).

59. Pierre Saint-Germaine, “La chaîne et la parapluie: Face à la rationalisation (1919–1935),” Les Révoltes logiques, no. 2 (1976): 98.

60. Humanité, 26 April and 17 May 1936; italics added. One can only agree with this particular evaluation by Humanité.

61. Ibid., 24 May 1936.

62. O. Rabaté, Rationalisation et action syndicale: Discours prononcé au congrès fédéral des métaux (CGTU) (Paris, 1927), pp. 66–67.

63. Humanité, 22 May 1936. On miners, see Aimée Moutet, “La rationalisation dans les mines du nord à l’épreuve du front populaire,” Le Mouvement social, no. 135 (April–June 1986): 79.

64. Sébastien Faure, La crise économique: Le chômage, origines—conséquences—remèdes (Paris, 1932), p. 12.

65. Madeleine Pelletier, Le travail: Ce qu’il est, ce qu’il doit être (?, 1930), pp. 20–21.

66. Julian Jackson, The Politics of the Depression in France, 1932–1936 (Cambridge, 1983), p. 39; see also Jules Moch, Socialisme et rationalisation (Brussels, 1927).

67. Amoyal, “Origines,” p. 150; see also Jean-François Biard, Le socialisme devant ses choix: La naissance de l’idée de plan (Paris, 1985).

68. Georges Lefranc, “Le courant planiste dans le mouvement ouvrier français de 1933 à 1936,” Le Mouvement social, no. 54 (January–March 1966): 85.

69. For the program of the CGT see Georges Lefranc, Histoire du front populaire (Paris, 1974), pp. 465–66; Henri Noyelle, “Plans d’économie dirigée: Les plans de reconstruction économique et sociale à l’étranger et en France,” Revue d’économie politique, no. 5 (September–October 1934): 1602; Georges Lefranc, “Histoire d’un groupe du parti socialiste S.F.I.O.: révolution constructive (1930–1938),” in Mélanges d’histoire économique et sociale en hommage au professeur Antony Babel (Geneva, 1963), pp. 401–25.

70. Jacques Girault, Sur l’implantation du parti communiste français dans l’entre-deux-guerres (Paris, 1977), p. 114.

71. Humanité, 30 April 1929, cited in ibid., p. 114.

72. André Lurçat, Projets et réalisations (Paris, 1931), p. 5; André Lurçat, “Urbanisme et architecture,” Cahiers de l’école de Rochefort, collection Comprendre la ville (Paris, 1942) p. 12. See also Jean-Louis Cohen (“Lurçat au pays de soviets,” Architecture, mouvement, continuité, no. 40 [September 1976]: 10), who emphasizes Lurçat’s commitment to increased urban circulation. Lurçat admired the Soviet Union of the 1930s because “there work becomes easy.”

73. This paragraph is based on Girault, Sur l’implantation, 17–129.

74. René Sordes, Histoire de Suresnes (Suresnes, 1965), p. 530.

75. Depretto and Schweitzer, Communisme, p. 53.

76. In theory, the Left did oppose defense production and argued for increased social expenditures.

The Ideology of Workers’ Control

Preferred Citation: Seidman, Michael. Workers Against Work: Labor in Paris and Barcelona during the Popular Fronts. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1991 1991.