All the Tsar’s Men
Why Mobilization Can’t Save Putin’s War
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, had played a far more active part in the street rioting of January-February 1934 than the Croix de Feu) had, in comparison, shrunk into insignificance. "French Fascism" came to mean the Croix de Feu. They denied being fascists, and their fascism was, indeed, of a peculiar kind, as we shall see; but they had certainly become, in two years, the greatest anti-democratic force in the country.
The Croix de Feu did not run candidates in the General Election; they pretended to be above such things. But they announced far and wide that they would be the great "arbiters" of the election; and would, wherever possible, keep the Reds out by actively supporting the non-socialist and non-communist candidate. In certain cases, they said, they would even support a "pink" against a "red" if there was no other choice. In fact it was alleged at the time (though this was strongly denied by La Rocque himself) that in certain constituencies instructions had been given to the local Croix de Feu to support the communists in the first ballot, with the result that he would be the only Left candidate in the second ballot, and in the expectation that many Radicals would, in the second ballot, vote for the Right candidate rather than for the communist. But even if this manœuvre was resorted to, it did not yield the desired result, any more than did any other of the Croix de Feu "arbitration" manœuvres: for the communists, with 72 seats in the new Chamber, instead of 10 in the old, were the great electoral winners. Curiously enough, wherever the Croix de Feu showed any activity at all they were not regarded by anyone as a "superparty" but were simply identified with the Right. During the election campaign I visited constituencies in various parts of France; and whenever I asked what election meetings were on, I was almost invariably told: "A communist meeting, a socialist meeting, and a Croix de Feu meeting." Conservatives, reactionaries, Croix de Feu, had come to mean practically the same thing. Did it mean that the Right had gone fascist, or that the Croix de Feu had simply gone conservative? Actually, there was an element of truth in both. For, especially since December 6, 1935, the Croix de Feu were no longer what they had once been.
The heroic days of the Croix de Feu were in 1934 -- between the February riots and the fall of Doumergue on November 8. It was then a romantic movement. After February 6 thousands of young men, sincerely disgusted with Parliament, joined the Croix de Feu and its affiliated organizations in search of a "better and cleaner" France. In January the Stavisky Affair had been magnified to colossal proportions in the press campaign against the Chamber, and particularly against the Left -- for the Stavisky Affair was represented as being an eminently "Left" scandal. The riots of February 6 were largely organized by the leaders of various fascist and semi-fascist organizations, and with the help of men like Chiappe, the Paris police chief who had been dismissed by Daladier a few days earlier. But these riots would not have been so effective had not thousands of young men, incensed by weeks of newspaper propaganda, and feeling genuinely revolted by the Chamber, joined in the riots. The primary object of this press campaign, supported as it was by "Big Business," had been to bring a National Government into power and to disrupt the Left majority. The young men who had their heads broken in the Place de la Concorde that night had fought -- most of them -- spontaneously and thoughtlessly "against the deputies"; and when the Daladier Government was forced out of office by "the Street," but was replaced two days later by a government presided over by an old man of 72, many of them must have felt disappointed -- not that they knew exactly what they would have preferred instead.
But Colonel de La Rocque tried to console them. When the Daladier Government resigned he wired to the local Croix de Feu committees: "First objective attained. Keep on your guard." And later he treated the Doumergue Government as "a poultice on a gangrenous leg" -- as a temporary solution to be followed, before long, by a better and more complete solution. He came to be regarded by many as the torchbearer of a "better and cleaner France." In his speeches in 1934 he treated politicians as the profiteers of the régime, and the socialists and communists as the arch-enemy. The Croix de Feu movement, he said, with its spirit of the trenches -- l'esprit ancien combattant -- stood for disinterested service to France. The men who had risked their lives for France, he said, must at last have a say in the matter. La Rocque's "16 years of profiteering" was not unlike Hitler's "14 years of shame." He had no clear program, but said that there was no need for any. A mystique was more important than a program; and a mystique he had undoubtedly created. And there were some young men in the movement who scarcely hesitated to call themselves openly fascists.
Only the contempt that La Rocque professed for Doumergue was, in reality, more apparent than real; and when towards September 1934 Doumergue abandoned his grandfatherly airs and launched a campaign, full of senile rage, against the socialists and communists, proposing to reform the Constitution by increasing enormously the powers of the Prime Minister (who, according to the Doumergue plan, could henceforth dissolve the Chamber on his own initiative), competent observers began to realize that there was a closer contact between the old Premier and the Croix de Feu than either would admit. The French constitutional conflict of September-November 1934 has been largely misunderstood abroad, where there are still many who believe that Doumergue "wished to improve the French democratic system"; and there were even some English journalists at the time who proclaimed Doumergue "the last defender of French democracy!" In reality, the old man had by this time attained a dangerous degree of megalomania and was working hand-in-glove with an innate anti-democrat like Tardieu (whose ideas had been incorporated in Doumergue's constitutional proposals), and with the "Street" -- that is, the Fascist Leagues -- against the Chamber and the Senate, which was the first to rebel against him.
Doumergue felt in a strong position. He believed that the deputies (whose memories of February 6, when the rioters nearly broke into the Chamber, were still fresh) would be too frightened of "the Street" to resist his demands. When Herriot and the Radicals, whom the prospect of a government crisis still made rather nervous, proposed compromise solutions, Doumergue rejected them disdainfully. And when on November 6, exasperated by his attitude, the Radicals threatened to resign from the Government, one observed in the lobbies of the Chamber various unknown people who whispered ominously that if Doumergue were forced to resign there would be trouble, and that "our fellows are simply itching to come out" -- the "fellows" being the members of the Croix de Feu and of the other Fascist Leagues. But after some trepidation the Radicals called the bluff and Doumergue resigned in a great rage, saying that he had been driven out by the men "who had shot down unarmed war veterans on February 6." A few hours later the Flandin Government was formed.
It was not until three days later, on the night of Armistice Day, that the Croix de Feu, the Jeunesses Patriotes and the Solidarité Française, held a demonstration -- not outside the Chamber, but outside M. Doumergue's house in the Avenue Foch. It was then that Colonel de La Rocque declared that "he had for a long time been in touch with M. Doumergue; and that the Croix de Feu would continue to keep in touch with him; for the day would come when he would save France for the second time."
The Left found the idea of a moth-eaten politician like Doumergue at the head of the fascist forces of France rather reassuring. But, commenting on the fascist demonstration on Armistice night, M. Herriot told me, a few days later: "You see how right I was to have suspected Doumergue of the worst, and not to have surrendered to his demands. For it was a conspiracy against democracy." It is claimed by some of the Croix de Feu men that November 8, 1934, when Doumergue resigned, was the greatest opportunity La Rocque had ever missed. Bertrand de Maud'huy, once one of La Rocque's henchmen,[i] recently claimed that on that day the Croix de Feu could have marched on the Chamber and seized power. I doubt it. Even moderate public opinion had become rather tired of Doumergue, "the savior." It cared little for his constitutional reforms, and was more concerned about the economic crisis, which he had done nothing to remedy. A fascist coup that day would not have received one quarter of the popular support that had been given the riots of February 6, and in the probable absence of any support from the army and the police it would have failed. There would also have been an immediate reaction from the working class, who were very much on their guard during those days.
Under the Flandin Government (November 1934-May 1935), a more normal democratic government, the Croix de Feu kept extremely quiet. Their membership continued to increase, and their semi-military organization, aided by donations from industrial and banking magnates, was improving; but the old fervor had gone. The extremists in the movement could not forgive La Rocque the opportunity he had missed, and were becoming restive. In April there was the first notable example of "direct action" when a number of them raided the socialist headquarters in the rue Feydeau in Paris; several of the men were arrested on the spot; and Colonel de La Rocque condemned and denounced them. His "uncomradelike" attitude on that occasion increased the discontent among the fascist extremists in the movement; and it is about that time that several prominent members, such as Bertrand de Maud'huy, resigned in disgust.
But the Croix de Feu were not played out yet, and in June and July 1935, after the fall of the Flandin Government, their activity increased again. La Rocque continued to claim that they were in a position to overthrow the Republic at any time they chose. Thus, shortly after the double Cabinet crisis early in June (the overthrow, in one week, of the Flandin and Bouisson cabinets), which led to the formation of the Laval Government, La Rocque claimed at a memorable meeting at Algiers that "there would have been sport" if the President of the Republic had only dared to give a cabinet post to Daladier, the fusilleur of February 6. In other words, only governments and ministers tolerated by the Croix de Feu could take office in France.
The summer and autumn of 1935, with the sympathetic Laval as Premier, marks the second acute phase of the "fascist offensive" in France. The Croix de Feu by this time had about 600,000 members; their parade (with Laval's blessing) in the Champs Elysées on July 14, 1935, was enormously impressive. It was something like an apotheosis of the Croix de Feu movement; and the west-end public that watched it was in raptures. The Croix de Feu had money, both from donations and from the membership fees which at 30 francs per head provided the tidy yearly sum of some 20 million francs. At their great rally at Algiers, 30 aëroplanes took part in the display; and motor rallies became a regular Croix de Feu exercise. Acting on secret instructions, several thousand Croix de Feu men, travelling in private automobiles, would be mobilized from time to time and with great swiftness at some specified point, usually on the estate of some wealthy sympathizer.
Laval was in close contact with the Croix de Feu leaders. To a friend of mine he once said: "I am accused of being on friendly terms with the fascists. But they are the only people I can fall back on, since the socialists and communists will have nothing more to do with me. But the Croix de Feu contain some very fine human material, and may become the backbone of an anticapitalist party." Whether he sincerely believed in their "anti-capitalism" may be doubted; but, in any case, they suited his purpose. They were pro-Italian and were effective in conducting an anti-sanctions campaign. The minor fascist leagues also were useful. One night in October the Solidarité Française (an organization composed of a few thousand young men, mostly ruffians) went so far as to call an anti-British demonstration in the Place de l'Opéra; and the British Embassy that night had to be guarded by gardes mobiles.
But the "lightning mobilizations" of the Croix de Feu were beginning to alarm the Left very seriously. Especially in September and October the Œuvre, the Populaire and the Humanité published many hair-raising stories about a Croix de Feu "plan of action," involving the occupation and "neutralization" of the "red" suburbs of Paris and an eventual March on the city. It was even explained -- complete with addresses -- how the fascist troops would be concentrated on the eve of the Great Day in hundreds of private villas on the outskirts of the Bois de Boulogne. It was under the impression of such stories (in many cases deliberately exaggerated and over-dramatized) that the Radical Congress met in Paris at the end of October. Pressed hard by Herriot and his other Radical ministers, Laval had, a few days previously, given the Radicals a sop in the form of three "antifascist" decrees of a somewhat platonic character (preliminary declaration of any meetings in public places, etc.). The Radicals were not satisfied, and insisted upon the discussion of more stringent measures immediately the Chamber met at the end of November. In the interval, on November 16, there was the famous shooting affray at Limoges, when a crowd of workers who were demonstrating outside a hall where the Croix de Feu had gathered were fired on by the latter. About 20 men were wounded. The firing was not perhaps done without provocation; but it provided the Left with an argument against the "armed Leagues" when the Chamber met. In the course of a three-day debate Laval was accused of complicity with the fascists, and Paganon, his Radical Minister of the Interior, of incomprehensible leniency. "Either you change your methods," M. Guernut, the Radical deputy, exclaimed, "or we shall change the Government."
And then, on the last day of the debate, an extraordinary thing happened -- the famous "National Reconciliation Scene" of December 6. Speaking in the morning debate on behalf of the Croix de Feu, M. Ybarnégaray appealed for national unity. The proposed dissolution of the Leagues, he said, would be ineffective and dangerous. "Let us keep the Leagues, but let us disarm. If all the Leagues and all individuals are disarmed, the problem will be solved." M. Ybarnégaray then proposed a law in terms of which anyone found guilty of carrying arms in the street would be liable to from one year's to three years' imprisonment. M. Blum, the Socialist leader, then rose. "This discussion," he said, "may yield some welcome results. Only, in my opinion, the question of individual weapons is of secondary importance; for weapons can always be found. The essential thing to me is the existence of formations which, by their organization, their discipline, and their method of recruitment, are military in character. Although there is no close analogy between the Croix de Feu and the small groups of self-defense which we have organized in the Socialist Party since February 6, I am willing to say to M. Ybarnégaray: 'We are prepared to destroy and dissolve these formations. Are you prepared to do the same with your military formations?'" Mr. Thorez, speaking for the Communists, said that he identified himself with M. Blum's proposal as far as the semi-military communist formations were concerned. M. Blum continued: "All this discussion may have a salutary effect. Again I say to you, M. Ybarnégaray, that we are prepared to disarm in so far as our comrades are armed. In so far as our organizations are military in character we are prepared to dissolve them. Are you prepared to do the same?" There was a moment of tense silence. Then M. Ybarnégaray replied: "In so far as our organizations are para-military, I say: Yes."
This "national reconciliation" scene, though not quite spontaneous (M. Laval and M. Ybarnégaray had prepared much of it in advance), created an enormous impression in Paris. It seemed that the menace of civil war had been definitely averted. That night the Chamber passed the first of the anti-fascist bills giving the Government the right to dissolve by decree any organization of a military or semi-military character; any organization guilty of holding armed or forbidden meetings in any public or private places; and any organization liable to be a menace to the territorial integrity of the country or to the republican régime. The original government bill provided for a complicated juridical dissolution procedure; the text amended by the Chamber gave the Government itself the powers of dissolution.
The "reconciliation scene" wrought havoc among the Fascist Leagues. There were several spectacular resignations from the Croix de Feu, and Colonel de La Rocque and M. Ybarnégaray were savagely attacked by the smaller Leagues, whom the Croix de Feu had succeeded so well in eclipsing. M. Taittinger, the leader of the Jeunesses Patriotes, treated La Rocque as a traitor, much to the despair of M. de Kerillis, the head of the principal Right-wing propaganda organization, whose chief complaint had always been the absence of a solid Right-wing "front." Actually, if the Croix de Feu lost many sympathizers among the extremist elements on December 6, 1935, they gained many new sympathizers among moderate conservative elements. More than before, the Croix de Feu promised to become the backbone of all the conservative forces in France. Its vaguely fascist ideology had already made much progress in the two previous years among all the anti-socialist, anti-communist, and, latterly, anti-Front Populaire forces of the country. As for the smaller Leagues, they did not profit as much from La Rocque's "treachery" as they had hoped. Little was heard of them during the subsequent months.
The bill giving the Government authority to dissolve the Leagues, and the bills prohibiting the carrying of arms and imposing penalties for the incitement to murder in the press (a measure directed chiefly against the paper of the Solidarité Française and against the Royalist Action Française) were passed by the Senate at the end of December. The Right did not take the bills unduly seriously, and did not think that they would be strictly applied.
On February 14, 1936, Léon Blum, the Socialist leader, driving together with M. Monnet (the present Minister of Agriculture) and Mme. Monnet down the Boulevard St. Germain, was stopped by a crowd of Royalists who had gathered there for the funeral of Jacques Bainville, the Royalist historian. Blum was dragged out of the car and savagely beaten, and would probably have been battered to death but for the timely intervention of a number of workmen. He suffered from severe loss of blood and was ill for several weeks. That night the Sarraut Government dissolved the Camelots du Roi and other Royalist organizations, and action was taken against Charles Maurras, the editor of the Action Française, for incitement to murder. The premises of the Camelots du Roi and of the Royalist paper were raided and searched by the police. But except for their paper, which was not forbidden, and which has scarcely diminished in violence, nothing has lately been heard of the Camelots du Roi. No fleur-de-lis badges are worn in the streets any longer. Their dissolution seems to have been sufficiently effective.
As for the Croix de Feu, they became respectable after December 6. At a few meetings he held in the earlier part of 1936 La Rocque no longer spoke of "sport." Instead he said that the rich harvest of ideas which the Croix de Feu had sown was rising luxuriously throughout France. "Our ideas will be in power." Bertrand de Maud'huy remarked that it was poor consolation for fellows who wanted to play a part to know that "their ideas" -- and not they -- would be in power.
I referred earlier in this article to the fiasco of the Croix de Feu "arbitration" in the General Election. What has happened since?
During the great strike epidemic of May-June the Croix de Feu played an ambiguous rôle in encouraging the strikes, and they also attempted to set up -- without much success -- a network of trade unions of their own in competition with the C.G.T. Then suddenly, towards the middle of June, the Blum Government issued a dissolution decree against the Croix de Feu, the Solidarité, the Jeunesses Patriotes, and the Francistes (an unimportant anti-Semitic organization of "blueshirts"). I saw Colonel de La Rocque on the night of the dissolution. "All great movements," he said, "have to pass through a phase of persecution. But our movement, which corresponds to a vital reflex of this country, cannot die." He was, none the less, visibly embarrassed. "If we had run candidates in the General Election," he said, "we would have got two million votes. But what was the good, with that second ballot to falsify the result? Still, we have 38 deputies whom we may count as ours; and we shall see what they can do." The 38 deputies have done nothing.
The Colonel is one of the most charming persons on earth; and to be a successful fascist leader one perhaps ought to be a ruthless thug with a touch of insanity. La Rocque is sane and balanced and anything but a thug. He must hate the idea of bloodshed among Frenchmen -- did he not hate it on February 6, when the Croix de Feu failed (though they probably could have succeeded) to break into the Chamber from the back? And perhaps La Rocque also knew in his heart that at no moment -- not even under Doumergue -- could a fascist coup succeed in France, at any rate not without plunging the country first into a period of deadly civil war.
The Croix de Feu has, nominally, disappeared. But the men who composed it still exist. Like the smaller Fascist Leagues, the Croix de Feu now calls itself a party -- the Parti Social Français. La Rocque and his faithful Ybarnégaray go round the country and tell the ex-Croix de Feu members that their time will yet come, that the Front Populaire cannot rule forever and is sure to come to grief. And at the end of the meetings they all sing the Marseillaise. And in the meantime La Rocque has called upon his followers and sympathizers to hang tricolor flags out of their windows as a protest against the dissolution of the Leagues and against the Blum Government generally.
But on July 14 the Front Populaire held its giant demonstration in the east of Paris, and in the west there was no "counter-demonstration." Former Croix de Feu members dropped flowers individually on the Unknown Soldier's grave, and, as on the previous Sunday, there were a few fights with the police in the Champs Elysées, and café tables were upset and soda syphons were thrown about. The number of Croix de Feu members has decreased; but nobody quite knows in what proportion. It is said that they have lost about one-third of their members and have not much more than half a million left. But, above all, they are disorganized and demoralized.
The adherents of the former fascist and semi-fascist leagues are only too well aware that fascism has been well beaten all along the line. Many of them have, in the last two months, developed a sneaking admiration for the Blum Government, which, they realize (and some admit it openly) is the first government for years to be doing something. While the others have been talking, these people have been acting. As for the fascist amateurs of "dynamics" they can find all the dynamics they want among the Communists. And, for that matter, is not the Front Populaire as a whole, with its procession of a million people, sufficiently "dynamic?" Some, indeed, have gone over to the Communists. Others have not joined anything; and like those who still believe in La Rocque, they are waiting patiently in the hope that the Blum "experiment" will fail and that on its ruins new possibilities will open up for some form of fascism.
But what of those who are finally disillusioned in La Rocque, who are not prepared to wait for the collapse of Blum, but who want "dynamics," though not "dynamics" of the Front Populaire variety? An extraordinary amount of publicity -- in my view, undeserved -- has lately been given to the new party founded by Jacques Doriot, the former Communist leader, and mayor of St. Denis. It is called the Parti Populaire Français.
Doriot, a solidly built man with a strong chin, curly black hair and tortoise-shell glasses, began as a workman and became in time the parliamentary leader of the Communist Party. Then, in 1934, he put forward a proposal for something on the lines of the Front Populaire -- a coalition between the Communist, Socialist and Radical elements of the country; for (said he) France being only one-fifth proletarian, nothing can be achieved without the support of the petite bourgeoisie. He was expelled from the Communist Party as a heretic; though soon afterwards the Communists adopted the idea themselves. Doriot never forgave them. In the Senate elections last autumn he joined forces with Laval; and during the discussion of the Franco-Soviet Pact last February he denounced his former comrades with extraordinary violence. Amid loud cheers from the Right of the Chamber, he accused them of taking money from Moscow and of wishing to drag France into a war against Germany for the benefit of the Soviet Union, with a Bolshevik revolution in France as the ultimate objective. The Left listened to his harangue in contemptuous silence. About the same time he gave a number of interviews to German papers in which he advocated a French rapprochement with Germany against Russia. In the last election he was returned for St. Denis, for years his stronghold, by only a narrow majority of 500 votes over his Communist competitor.
And then, at the end of June, Doriot founded his new party. Its program, rather flimsy, is reminiscent of the so-called "program" of the Croix de Feu. It denounces communism and internationalism as enemies, and demands: a reform of the republican state; the creation of stable government (a phrase reminiscent of Doumergue); the creation of Economic Assemblies representing all the economic forces of the nation; the detachment of Parliament, the Government, the judiciary, the administration, and the press from the influence of the financial oligarchy (which is otherwise, presumably, to remain intact); defense of the workers, artisans, peasants and middle class (whatever that means); stimulation of trade between France and her colonies (an autarchist formula); various reforms concerning education, town-planning, etc., which would tend to make the French "a stronger and healthier race"; and the resurrection of a France capable of playing "her traditional rôle in fostering human progress, justice, peace and the friendship between nations." Such is M. Doriot's "program." Rather thin.
But, unlike La Rocque, Doriot is tough and brutal and is not handicapped by being an aristocrat. He also suffers deeply from thwarted ambition. Many of the people who supported financially and otherwise the Leagues and the Royalists seem to be supporting Doriot now. His paper, L'Emancipation Nationale, is sold on the boulevards and read by much the same public as the Royalist Action Française. De luxe booklets are published full of sentimental pictures of Doriot in his "humble little home" at St. Denis, of his two little daughters, of the sofa he sleeps on, and of his pair of bedroom slippers. The text is provided by people like Pierre Dominique and Bertrand de Jouvenel -- the de Jouvenel of the famous "pro-French" Hitler interview a week before Hitler denounced Locarno, a young man with a passion for Hitlerite "dynamics," and a great believer in Franco-German unity at the expense of Russia. Dominique, though older, is of the same mettle. Though nominally a man of the Left, he is a great admirer of Mussolinian "dynamics," and was violently pro-Italian and anti-British during the Abyssinian conflict. Bertrand de Maud'-huy has also joined the group. So Doriot has a few "progressive" fascist intellectuals to help him. On the other extreme are his supporters at Marseilles, an altogether disreputable gang associated with the shadiest possible side of the "Tammany Hall" politics of that great city. These people are not without considerable local influence. Meanwhile Doriot's old friend Laval is watching his movement closely; and, if it succeeds, he may associate himself with it openly. But he is not sure yet whether it is a horse worth backing.
For the present, however, the Doriot coterie is hardly an impressive one, still less a coherent one. It does not seem likely to attract a very large number of the respectable middle-class youths of the Croix de Feu movement, still less the proletarian elements of St. Denis or of anywhere else. Even if (as Doriot hopes) there is a breakdown of the Front Populaire, it is still difficult to imagine the French working class flocking into the arms of the "traitor." Above all, there is a widespread suspicion that Doriot is not "genuine." Now he denounces the Communists for being in the pay of Moscow. But for ten years he was a leading Communist himself and thought it all right to take money from Moscow. If he "saw the light," he took an extraordinarily long time to see it, and not until his fief of St. Denis was in danger of being captured by the Communists. Nevertheless, Doriot is being supported by a large part of the Right press, who have forgiven him all his past sins and treat him as a possible "man of tomorrow." What his membership is is still uncertain: the highest figure I have seen is that of 50,000 given by Doriot himself in the Emancipation of August 1, which is not enormous. As already said, it is doubtful whether he will win over even a large proportion of the Croix de Feu; for there is too much about Doriot that must go against their grain.
The Doriot Party is above all, perhaps, a symptom of the present bewilderment among the forces of the Right in search of new guidance. On the Left, where Doriot is not taken very seriously, his competition with La Rocque is, if anything, welcomed -- for it means that the fascist elements, instead of uniting, are being split up. If Doriot builds up in Paris -- as he perhaps may -- an illegal army of desperadoes, rather after the model of the Marseilles gangs of his friend Sabiani (but on a larger scale), he may become of some nuisance value; but he will scarcely ever become a great popular leader unless he is pushed to the front by some entirely new international situation in which his greatly advertised pro-Germanism and anti-Sovietism might be of use.
Such a situation might occur in the event of a "fascist encirclement" of France resulting from a fascist victory in Spain. The feeling might then gain ground that a normal democratic government was no longer competent to "stand up" to the fascist neighbors of France, and that France could regain diplomatic equality only under some form of authoritarian government, with no League principles to bother it. The encouragement given to the Spanish rebels by the French press of the Right -- a violent campaign reminiscent of its pro-Mussolini campaign last year -- has been a symptom of this tendency. Fascism in France may also have another chance if the Front Populaire collapses, and if parliamentary government collapses with it. But just at present it is lost and bewildered.
[i]Cf. "The French National Revival," by Bertrand de Maud'huy, FOREIGN AFFAIRS, July 1934.