The Global Zeitenwende
How to Avoid a New Cold War in a Multipolar Era
The saying that France has "the stupidest right in the world" was demonstrated again by the Algiers coup of April 1961. What the quartet of generals hoped to achieve that might or could have been durable is difficult to imagine. The French right is still nourished largely on the philosophy of Charles Maurras and the Action Française; and in recent years it has moved progressively toward fascism, a political development closely linked to phenomena of decay and obsolescence inherent in the social structure of France. This was expressed in laconic fashion by the former Catholic premier, Georges Bidault, when he said, "Tout se dégrade; je me sens devenir fasciste"- "Everything is debased; I feel myself becoming a fascist."
As some elements of the center parties and the army have joined the right, elements of the non-Communist left have been moving from an independent position promised under the leadership of Mendès-France in 1954 into closer ideological alignment with the Soviet bloc. Ignoring the lessons of past history in general and of Soviet history in particular, the left, too, clings to outdated concepts of imperialism and nourishes illusions about social evils in the West.
For the time being it is clear that the rightist threat to democracy in France is still acute. To assess the French scene only in these terms, however, would be shortsighted. For it is equally clear that the success of a fascist coup, or even prolonged disorder, civil strife and general political instability, would in the long run exclusively benefit the Communists.
Now that the right-wing Algerian extremists appear to a large extent out- man?uvred and disarmed by the de Gaulle government, attention has been turning to the ultras of the left, a small but highly articulate group of intellectuals, writers, artists, students and professional people, many of whom adhere to the intricate left-of-Communist thinking of Jean-Paul Sartre. Calling itself the New Left, this group gained momentum, in particular among students, as the war in Algeria dragged on. Its sympathizers include the 121 signers of the Manifesto of Insubmission in the summer of 1960, upholding the right of French youth to refuse military service in Algeria. A number of its activists, led by Francis Jeanson, an old friend and former collaborator of Sartre, served as contacts for agents of the Front de Libération National operating in France. Their turbulent trial in September 1960 for "carrying the valises" of the F.L.N. became an open forum for denunciation of the war and a rallying ground for leading left intellectuals. At the time of the trial, Sartre sent an open telegram of sympathy to the defendants, saying that he, too, would have carried the F.L.N.'s valises, for its supporters represented the only true left remaining in France.
The Jeanson trial and the Manifesto of Insubmission gave the New Left focus. But its origins go back to the early 1950s. An effort was made then by left-wing intellectuals and Communist Party dissidents to form a movement adopting Tito's Jugoslavia as its ideological partner. For a short time this group also included Sartre, before his positive reevaluation of Communism in 1952. This was the germination period of the New Left. Its early search for allegiances to a socialist ideal was enheartened by Khrushchev's de-Stalinization speech at the Twentieth Party Congress and the subsequent thaw, but received a rude jolt from the Hungarian revolution. The brutal suppression of the revolution shocked and dismayed the intellectual left in France as elsewhere, and among those who recoiled were Sartre (for a time), Claude Roy, Roger Vailland and many others.
Alienation from the Communist Party, however, was short-lived. Two developments served to resuscitate better relations. One was undoubtedly the fact that the Communist Party after Hungary had lost little of its political support; its cadres and militants had been kept in line, with only slight initial setbacks in the ranks of the trade unions. This demonstrated that the Party in France was tough enough to withstand the destruction of the image of Stalin and a reversal of its basic dogma- identification with the aims of the proletariat (of Hungary and Poland). The phase of re-stabilization was crowned by the spectacular Soviet success in putting the first earth satellite into orbit, thus proving the superiority of Soviet science over American science (and hence of Soviet society over American society). The homeless left-winger in France was impressed.
Logically enough, the reappraisal had to be basic. The decade following the war had washed away all illusions of the 1930s. The image of Soviet Russia as the paradise of the workers gave way. A new, tough idea adjusted to the reality of the Soviet Union emerged. It was not perhaps what the left in the West wanted, but it seemed to be the only way of solving the social problems of the world. (To speak in Sartrian allegory, the devil being the only progressive and successful politician, one was, perforce, obliged to support the devil.)
The other factor serving to bolster the position of the Communist Party was the collapse of the alliance between the Socialists and the Mendès-France Radicals after Socialist Premier Guy Mollet capitulated to pressure from Algerian right-wing extremists in February 1956. When Mollet then abandoned efforts to reach a peaceful solution and his Resident General in Algeria, Robert Lacoste, intensified the war, the Socialist Party, governed by the Mollet wing, was hopelessly compromised in the eyes of its own left wing and of the independent left. Mendès-France, who two years earlier might have become the central figure in a rejuvenation of the non-Communist left, was not only out of the government but of his own party as well. After the fall of the Mollet government in the autumn of 1957, the Algerian war entered a critical phase, in which its repercussions were increasingly manifest in metropolitan French politics. The immobilisme of the governments that followed Mollet, their policy of letting the Algerian and other problems rot, destroyed political confidence in the center. Finally, the May 1958 coup, which brought in de Gaulle and the Fifth Republic, effectively eliminated the Socialists and Radicals from the political scene.
The fear of a fascist takeover has since continued to shadow political developments in France, and it became the final spur to the formation of the New Left. Dissident left-wing elements (former members of the Communist and Socialist Parties, followers of Mendès-France and Trotskyites) rallied to the new Socialist splinter party, the Parti Socialiste Unifié (P.S.U.), formed in 1959 with a program advocating immediate peace in Algeria, resistance to fascism in France and opposition to the politics of personal power (de Gaulle). An alliance with the Communist Party -that is, "the people"-was in their opinion the primary condition for effective action. Non-coöperation with the C.P., they thought, would weaken the working class and isolate the P.S.U., reducing it to a weak sectarian role. A wide area of basic agreement with Communist aims existed; in P.S.U. eyes a new Front Populaire became a possibility.
Rapprochement with the Communists was hampered at the outset, however, by the different view the Communist Party took of de Gaulle and the Algerian war. When, for instance, an immediate general strike was proposed by members of the independent left, joined by lower echelons of the C.G.T. (the Communist trade-union organization) and the Communist Party, in an effort to forestall if not prevent the advent of the Fifth Republic, the Party hierarchy torpedoed the action. At the time, it appeared that the Soviet Union did not look with disfavor on the de Gaulle government, believing that it would steer France into a neutralist course, thus eventually destroying NATO.
The Soviet attitude and that of the French Communist Party changed only when it became evident that de Gaulle would not break with West Germany, nor, despite difficulties, pull out of NATO. The New Left had to bide its time until the Communist Party had radically altered its attitude toward de Gaulle and had begun in earnest to mobilize its machinery against his government and the war in Algeria. Previously, the Communists had given no support to the F.L.N., and offered only lukewarm opposition to the Algerian war. In the last year, the respective positions of the P.S.U. and the C.P. have become close enough to make a degree of coöperation possible.
The views of the New Left are voiced by two weeklies, France-Observateur and Express. France-Observateur, which was founded in 1950 by Claude Bourdet, a former editor of the independent leftist Combat, originally advocated a left-wing neutralist third force. It maintained this strictly neutralist line in the first three issues, then adopted its present fundamentally anti-Western, pro-Soviet attitude. When the P.S.U. was created in 1959, France-Observateur became its official mouthpiece. But in casting about for guiding principles the P.S.U. actually adopted the existing France-Observateur line rather than setting an editorial policy of its own. As a party paper, however, France-Observateur has frequently been obliged to steer an uneasy course in concrete political situations when the position of the P.S.U. collides with that of the Communist Party.
The history of Express is quite different. Originally created in 1954 in order to support the policies of Mendès-France, it started as a genuinely independent democratic paper. Its swing over to its present anti-Western, New Left line occurred much later, after Mendès-France was out of active politics. Simultaneously, the influence of Albert Camus, at one time a regular contributor, was being supplanted by that of Sartre. Express began to change after the May 1958 coup. In the months after the Jeanson trial and the Manifesto of Insubmission, Express (and France-Observateur) began openly to back the F.L.N., in accordance with Sartre's and Jeanson's thesis that it represented the only active, progressive political force in France. Today, Express does not diverge in essentials from the Communist point of view in international affairs, carefully eschewing anything that might sound offensive to or even vaguely critical of East-bloc countries. Not hampered by an obligation to reflect the P.S.U. line, it is more outspoken than France-Observateur.
Another important New Left publication is Temps Modernes, Sartre's own literary and theoretical bimonthly review. It frequently influences the ideological line taken up on a more popular basis by France-Observateur and Express.
On all issues of the cold war the New Left press has in essence espoused the Soviet view, while claiming that its attitude is that of an objective bystander. It tends to write around a point, but the import is clear. Soviet good intention is imputed; the inability to achieve peaceful coexistence is laid to American intransigence and basically imperialist aims. The key to the success of East-West negotiations, the New Left press argues, lies in whether the United States will accept Soviet demands, and thus reduce international tension. The failure of the American government to live up to the New Left's vision of world problems has provoked considerable acrimony toward the Kennedy Administration, and the emergence of neo-McCarthyism and fascism is predicted.
The leaders and adherents of the New Left represent a variety of political persuasions and frequently pursue diametrically opposed political aims, sometimes carrying their conflicting arguments into the same issue of Express. In general, three tendencies are manifest. One is dominated by the political philosophy of Sartre. Sartre first became politically active in 1947 when he founded, together with Albert Camus and David Rousset, the Rassemblement Démocratique Révolutionnaire (R.D.R.). The group broke up primarily over the stand it should take after the revelation in 1949 of the existence of concentration camps in the Soviet Union. Sartre refused to participate in the campaign of denunciation that followed and embarked on a separate line as a Soviet apologist. Later, in a lengthy article in Temps Modernes (July 1952), he expounded a theory for unconditional support of the Communist Party. "In order to pass judgment on the Communist Party, which would be a political act," he stated, "no less [a judge] is needed than the Communist Party itself."
Camus and Sartre, originally friends although not fellow existentialists as is commonly believed, broke finally in 1952 over the publication of Camus' philosophical study, "L'Homme Révolté." In the ensuing bitter debate Camus emerged as the defender of the individual in society, while Sartre argued that the Soviet socialist experiment was moving with the trend of history. Proof of its historicity lay in its ultimate efficiency and the fact that there was no workers' movement outside of the Communist Party. In other words, its efficiency and monopoly position testified to the moral nature of its action.
Although Sartre rejects Marxist philosophy, he favors Communist Party action and aims, because they are enlisted to create a new society and to do away with the old. The position of Sartre's group is to the left of the P.S.U. and equally left of the Communist Party. It has been described by one of Sartre's critics, Professor Maurice Merleau-Ponty, as "ultra- Bolshevism."
The second group, around Claude Bourdet and Gilles Martinet, editors of France-Observateur, is largely concerned with building a political formation similar to the Nenni party in Italy while it was still allied with the Communists. (Bourdet himself was an Under-Secretary of State in the Popular Front government in 1938.)
The third group, a small minority by comparison with the two others, is composed of people genuinely interested in making the P.S.U. an instrument of a renovated Socialist Party independent of the Communist Party. They advocate a fresh approach to problems of social and economic change in society. This became evident during the campaign preceding the referendum on de Gaulle's Algerian policy and at the P.S.U. congress in March 1961. Georges Suffert, a spokesman for this third group, took issue with the P.S.U. leadership in the pages of France-Observateur (January 12, 1961): "The Communist Party remains for a certain number of members of the left a pole of reference, and one separates oneself from it with some trepidation. . . . An important number of members of the P.S.U., for example, live in an unreal world. They nourish a nostalgia for a reconciled, unified workers' party, a pure and tough Communism, which would at the same time be friendly to and independent of the Soviet Union. However much this party is [in reality] negated, the dream persists."
On world issues the position of these three groups is basically the same. The Kennedy Administration was initially hailed in the belief that it would usher in a new Rooseveltian period of understanding and collaboration with the Soviet Union. Disillusion set in promptly, however, when Kennedy retained the C.I.A. and it was accentuated by Kennedy's tough tone toward Cuba.
The New Left's political philosophy is lucidly revealed by its faith in the Castro revolution, a faith that inspired Sartre's reportorial pilgrimage to Cuba in the summer of 1960 (for the big Paris daily France-Soir) and that of Frangoise Sagan (for Express). Their subsequent articles extolled the Cuban new look; Sartre's ran in 17 consecutive installments. Castro, the New Left argues, was forced into the ranks of the Communist-bloc countries against his will and initial intention, in order to save the revolution from being strangled by American imperialism. (Interestingly enough, the course taken by the Cuban revolution reflects Sartre's theories on the use of Communist aims and methods, divorced from classical Marxist philosophy.) The outcry after the rebel invasion of Cuba was unanimous. It was said that the progressive nature of the Castro régime, its influence in the American hemisphere and its inherent promise of solving Latin American social problems had proved intolerable to American imperialist interests. The invasion was interpreted as an attempt to restore the reactionary pre- Castro status quo.
"Castro is not a Communist," Sartre wrote (Express, April 20, 1961). "He wants the independence and the sovereignty of his country. He has to be understood on the basis of the experience we have had with all countries of the third world. We know quite well that when an underdeveloped country appeals to the U.S.S.R. (as Lumumba did at a given time), it is because the West is in the process of making independence impossible. That we have already seen. . . ."
When it was no longer possible to maintain candidly that Castro and his régime were not Communist, the New Left readily accepted this fact. As Major Ernesto Guevara explained to Express correspondent K. S. Karol (May 18, 1961): ". . . every revolution inevitably carries in itself a part of Stalinism. This is not to be imputed to the revolution itself, but to the reactions it provokes in the capitalist countries. . . ."
The New Left looks upon West Germany as the primary factor in perpetuating the cold war. The real economic miracle, Express writer Michel Bosquet states, is taking place in East Germany where the new socialist man is being forged. And a reporter for Express, assigned to interview West German soldiers on man?uvres in France, registered surprise and chagrin that she found them convinced democrats.
With regard to the emergent African nations, Bosquet defines Guinea, the U.A.R., Ghana, Mali and Morocco as "the dynamic countries of Africa." In the same way that some Westerners view all anti-colonial or socialist movements as potentially or actually Communist, the New Left organs label Communist-inspired and supported movements neutralist, or describe them as national liberation movements in the tradition of the particular country (Castro, Touré, Pathet-Lao). When the country in question declares its identity with the Soviet bloc, the assertion is made that if it is now Communist, it has been pushed that far by the attitude of the West, and particularly of the United States.
The attitude of the New Left toward the Soviet Union was summed up by Alfred Sauvy, Director of the French Institute for Demography, in a cursory review of recent history in France-Observateur (October 27, 1960) :
In the disturbed atmosphere [of Russia] attempts at deviation are made and shocking trials take place; the West is outraged, without for a moment considering that a great part of the responsibility rests with it. ... The 1941-1945 war did not improve matters, since these people [the Russians] were invaded by European bands from Finland to Rumania, and one must not forget the Spanish and French legions which, although weak, were symbolic. . . . Finally, in 1945, at a time when a new start could have been made, the atom bomb was exploded and was naturally viewed as a direct threat on the part of capitalism bent on destroying socialism.
A familiar technique of presenting international news, practiced especially by Bosquet of Express, is to interview a spokesman for one side of a problem, the Eastern or "neutralist" side, and then present his views as an objective analysis of the situation. The tone of a detached observer is rarely abandoned, whether the person interviewed is Souvanna Phouma or an unidentified Communist labor leader or an unidentified Eastern-bloc diplomat.
In the realm of domestic politics, where the overriding question has been the Algerian war, the New Left suspected all along that de Gaulle's Algerian policy was basically no more than a tacit, undercover collaboration with the Algerian extremists and the military to promote the army's aims by means palatable to the French public. That de Gaulle was genuinely interested in terminating the war and in negotiating with the F.L.N. was never seriously considered. His gradualist, cautious injection of the idea of Algerian independence, following a negotiated peace, was interpreted as merely a means of protracting the war. Referring to the initial negotiations between the French Government and the F.L.N., which broke down at Melun in the summer of 1960, Gilles Martinet observed (France- Observateur, October 6, 1960): "The de Gaulle of Melun was no discovery to us. We knew he would do everything in his power to avoid the start of real negotiations and to impose his own 'liberal' solution of the Algerian problem." As the date of the referendum on de Gaulle's Algerian policy approached, Claude Bourdet editorialized (France-Observateur, December 22, 1960): "In fact, negotiation has never been less near. Perhaps after January 8 [date of the referendum], he [de Gaulle] will initiate some new comedy in order to prolong the respite which the referendum will give him, and also to try to deflect onto the F.L.N. the failure that is anticipated."
Prior to the Algiers coup of April 1961, both papers of the New Left devoted much space to an analysis of the danger of further attempts by the army to seize power in alliance with the Algerian extremists, and to bring about a rightist government headed by Soustelle, Salan or Bidault. Yet the possibility of such a fascist coup was curiously discounted in discussions of de Gaulle's eventual departure from politics. The danger, said Sartre (Express, January 4, 1961), is "not that de Gaulle leaves, but that he stays."
The attitude of the New Left toward the referendum on the question of self- determination for Algeria was equally ambiguous. Originally, the P.S.U. urged all left parties and trade unions to vote with a blank white ballot, thus differentiating their vote from the "No" vote of the right-wing extremists. When the Communist Party refused to accept this proposal and instructed its members to vote "No," the P.S.U. fell in line with the Communist directive "in order not to be isolated from the working class."
The possibility of a rightist coup in the event that the referendum was defeated by a "No" vote was publicly rejected. Privately, however, it was entertained and even welcomed. Sartre explained the collusion of the "No" votes of right and left as follows: "The preoccupation with 'not wanting to mix the votes with those of the ultras' seems to me to be totally anti- democratic. The interplay of democracy itself demands that governments should be overthrown in the assemblies through the votes of both oppositions. This coalition has always existed. Why should it be refused today? I will go further: the No of the ultras is a valid No. It is valid because it means that de Gaulle's policies are no good." Sartre discarded the danger of a fascist coup, arguing that the Americans would intervene to prevent it, and concluded, "It is even to be hoped that they [the Americans] don't juggle away our chances for a genuine democracy." (Express, January 4, 1961).
More revealing is the observation of François Mauriac, who for a time conducted a lonely fight on the back page of Express against the fellow- traveling tendency of the New Left:
In the minds of the men of the left who vote No, the final victory remains tied to a more or less protracted time of tribulation in which a government controlled by the army would complete the catastrophe. . . . Let us speak frankly: there are only two types of men of the left. Those who hate the Communists, who dread them like death, those who are with Guy Mollet and Gaston Deferre, will vote Yes. All the others who vote No desire, without admitting it, a popular front; the majority of them no longer doubt that the road leading to it goes via Soustelle, or Bidault, if not Pinay. . . . (Express, January 4, 1961.)
This argument corresponds to the reasoning of the German Communist Party in June 1930 when it voted with the Nazis in the Roter Volksentscheid (Red Plebiscite) to unseat the Prussian Social Democratic government of Prime Minister Braun. This cleared the way to power for the Nazis in Germany. The Communists understood the consequences of their vote, but considered that a Nazi government would necessarily be transitory and would soon be supplanted by a Communist revolution. This is the thinking that prevailed also in the French Communist Party when it expelled two important members from its Central Committee, Laurent Casanova and Marcel Servin, because they favored a policy of conditional support of de Gaulle in view of the importance of achieving peace in Algeria. The Communist Party, seconded by the P.S.U., adopted a policy aimed at aggravating the situation, assuming that it (the C.P.) would become the eventual beneficiary of an unpopular coup, borne to power by the tommy guns of the paratroopers.
During the summer of 1960 a gradual shift occurred among intellectuals and students in France from the demand for peace in Algeria and direct political negotiations to all-out support of the F.L.N. One event which gave impetus to this movement was a parley between the National Union of French Students and the F.L.N. student organization (Union Générale des Etudiants Musulmans d'Algérie) in Switzerland. Following this contact, a majority of the French student organization was won over to solidarity with the F.L.N., a stand that was solidified by the government's subsequent attempt to curb the organization's activities by such measures as cutting its subsidies. A more serious development was the breakup and arrest of the "Réseau Jeanson," whose members had been acting as contacts for F.L.N. agents in France. Justifying their action, Jeanson wrote to Sartre: "The great mistake of the left is to give out the slogan 'Peace' and to refuse what this slogan implies politically: solidarity with the F.L.N." The left, he said, was impotent because it had not established earlier an organizational liaison with the F.L.N. It had lost its sense of action. This had to be restored to it by setting an example of unity of action with the F.L.N.
The trial in September 1960 of the "Réseau Jeanson" turned into a public review of the long (by then six-years-old) and tragic Algerian war. Discontent over the ambiguities of the war, the revelation of tortures used by the French Army in interrogating captured rebels, and the conspiracies of fascist officers burgeoned sharply into the open. Public apathy gave way at last to public indignation and disgust. Most of Jeanson's followers were present at the trial; some, however, including Jeanson himself, were tried in absentia. The maximum sentence handed down to the chief defendants was ten years' imprisonment.
In the summer preceding the trial the New Left became the main activator in the movement of insubmission. This movement started among students of draft age and later won the support of many of their professors. It culminated in the Manifesto of Insubmission, an open appeal to French youth to desert from the army in order to forego military service in Algeria. The text of the Manifesto was suppressed and no copies are now available. However, the names of 121 signers (later over 200) were published in Temps Modernes.[i] Most of them were motivated by genuine feelings of revolt against the misery and excesses of the war.
Impressed by the audacity of Jeanson and guided by the arguments and moral authority of Sartre, the forces of discontent in the autumn of 1960 swelled the ranks of the New Left. For a while it also appeared as though a popular front coalition with the Communists might be attempted. The chance for unified action with the Communists was offered by the student demonstrators of October 27. The Union of French Students and the Federation of National Education, together with the P.S.U., the Socialist trade unions (C.G.T.- F.O.), the Christian trade unions (C.F.T.C.) and a number of lesser organizations, called a protest meeting for this date at the Place de la Bastille to press the demand for peace in Algeria. The Communist Party was approached to join the action-which would have insured its success. The rank and file of the Party and of the Communist trade unions approved, but two days before the event the Party directorate refused to participate, using the pretext that its counsel had been by-passed in the printing of leaflets, and referring to the risks involved in participating in a forbidden meeting. (The meeting had in the meantime been authorized, although transferred to the Palais de la Mutualité in the heart of the student quarter, thus limiting its mass character.)
The P.S.U. was dismayed at the Communist turnabout. Its lengthy inquiry into and analysis of the C.P.'s refusal to join the action revealed that the Party considered this type of demonstration "bourgeois" (as it had also viewed the Manifesto of Insubmission-"A Communist doesn't desert from a bourgeois army. He works to transform an imperialist war into a social revolution.") Furthermore, the Party opposed joining an action it had not itself initiated. This was a turning point at which the
The military coup in Algiers on April 22, 1961, took everyone by surprise, including the New Left, despite the fact that it had been so long expected. The rapid disintegration of the rebellion was even more surprising. Four days did not allow the New Left time to elaborate a specific policy other than to appeal for mass action, a general strike, and to exhort the government to arm the people to resist a possible landing.
"Arming the people," a perennial battle cry of the extreme and the New Left, eventually would involve arming the industrial plants, where the Communists are firmly entrenched, through their own organizations and through the Communist-dominated C.G.T. The other trade unions, the Catholic C.F.T.C. and the Socialist C.G.T.-F.O., are much weaker, and together do not match the strength of the C.G.T. Being democratic organizations, their structure is loose and not designed for conversion into military formations in case of civil war, as are the Communist organizations. In the final analysis, "arming the people" would place de Gaulle, and the French Republic, in a position of dependence on armed Communist units.
The intellectual left in France is regarded abroad as limited in influence to the confines of the Latin Quarter and to a small group of Byzantine philosophers with Sartre at its head. This is not so, if one judges only from its political activities and their repercussions in the last year. Both Express and France-Observateur are widely read by French intellectuals and in some measure reflect their views. Nor are the left-leaning students to be discounted, since they represent a large proportion of the future professional men and women of France-its doctors, writers, artists and teachers. Many students have joined the P.S.U. because there is no other party to which a young liberal intellectual feels he can respectably adhere.[ii]
The turgid thinking of the New Left and its inability to discard relics of Marxist dogma are demonstrated by its disposition to disregard the last 40 years of history and to ignore the structural changes which have resulted in enormous gains for the working class in Western society. With the untimely death of Camus, the movement lost its most lucid and its only humanitarian thinker. His influence, great in the field of letters, was constructive in politics where he was a lonely exponent of clarity and morality.
In this respect Italy is more fortunate. It has Ignazio Silone and Alberto Moravia, and the difference is felt in the intellectual climate of Italy. In the course of a visit to France, Silone was invited by Express to air his political views. His chastening comments (Express, February 9, 1961) were obviously aimed at the French left:
The vexatious indulgence which some leftist intellectuals feel toward the "socialist" power has assumed the form of real covenants. The intellectuals assure an historic consecration to power, and in return they receive diplomas to enter the priesthood for the communion of the masses. This type of covenanted relationship has been put to a test twice during the great Stalinist trials and after Budapest.
One could have hoped that the experience had served some purpose. But in recent times some of our friends have indulged in a type of tourism which prepares them for bitter disillusionment. We can declare our solidarity with all struggles for liberation without necessarily becoming the chaplains of those who pretend that they monopolize these struggles and who already make evident that they have all the necessary qualities for becoming the tyrants of tomorrow.
The popularity of the New Left in France among intellectuals and students has been due very largely to its opposition to the war in Algeria. As it became apparent that de Gaulle would negotiate with the F.L.N. and that a chance for a peaceful solution might exist, the movement was obliged to re- orient its main propaganda effort. An editorial in France-Observateur (February 23, 1961) reflects this: "Our fundamental opposition to the government does not imply that we have thought it incapable of making peace.... It is the duty of the government to make peace, not of the opposition. . . . The day when negotiations start will be the first victory of the left."
Whether or not one agrees with de Gaulle's government, his concept of power, his national policies, few would contest the fact that he has been the one force barring the way to fascism in France. None the less, up to the time of the Algiers coup, and after it failed, the New Left concentrated its attack on de Gaulle, in the evident hope of forcing him out of office. Its leaders could have had no doubt of the consequences should this have happened. As Hitler proved to be the "icebreaker" for Soviet power in Eastern and Central Europe, so the French right-wing extremists could perform the same service in Western Europe.
The P.S.U. aims ultimately to form a "French Socialist Republic," but as yet the term has not been clearly defined. The party's intention is to go beyond (but presumably not outside of) a new popular front. At the party congress in March 1961 it asserted that the Gaullist state must be opposed by "an over-all strategy, aimed at the establishment of a socialist power, constituting a new type of state."
Commenting on the program, Express concluded (March 30, 1961): "The battle in the offing will no longer be a struggle between electoral organizations for a few months of parliamentary supremacy. This kind of fencing with corked foils, which was typical of the Third and Fourth Republics, this flux and reflux of moderates and reformists, belongs to the past. This time it will be a total war for the conquest of the state. Everyone should prepare for it and choose his camp."
Whether the term "French Socialist Republic" means a new type of socialist state or of a people's democracy in the familiar Communist form is left open. Whatever the theoretical intentions may be, however, the ratio of forces between the P.S.U. and the C.P. would determine the new state's eventual character. The final result of collaboration with the C.P. could hardly be in doubt. The question is whether the rank and file of the New Left are ready to work for aims that could mean the establishment of a Soviet-style dictatorship in France-a régime, that is, diametrically opposed to what a genuine Left must aspire to create.