Courtesy Reuters

French Fascism

NEARLY a million people marched with their red and tricolor banners through the Paris streets on the Fête Nationale of July 14, to commemorate the capture of the Bastille and to celebrate the victory of the Front Populaire in the last General Election. The Colonne de Juillet, marking the place where the old prison had stood, was decorated with flags and streamers, and round it were large panels with pictures of Rousseau and Voltaire and Diderot and Henri Barbusse and the obscure Lille workman who composed the Internationale. Julien Benda, who had surveyed the vast human torrent from a window, wrote a few days later in the Dépêche de Toulouse:

This giant procession, the like of which had never yet been seen in Paris, was the direct outcome of the events of February 6. So also were the formation of the Front Populaire and the last General Election. The Waldeck-Rousseau Cabinet was the outcome of the anti-Dreyfus agitation; the 1877 election, with its Left victory, was the outcome of the MacMahon coup. In the last sixty years a sharp offensive from the reactionaries in France has been followed, with mathematical accuracy, by a sharp, inevitable reaction from the Left. The men who organized the February 6 riots could have been sure of it. But their stupidity, as M. Herriot has said, is even greater than their wickedness. In the meantime, until they understand, let them contemplate their work from their balconies.

"Le grand vaincu," as the French say, -- the "great defeated" -- of the May election was Colonel de La Rocque, the leader of the Croix de Feu. In two years the Croix de Feu had grown from a small, select body of distinguished war veterans into the greatest "fascist" force in the country. In April 1936 they claimed a membership of nearly a million; and the rival fascist forces, the Jeunesses Patriotes, the Solidarité Française, as well as the Royalists of the Action Française (who, it must be said,

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