From France (1913)

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Author(s) Lenin
Written 30 May 1913

Written on May 30 (June 12), 1913
Published on June 5, 1913 in Pravda No. 127. Printed from the Pravda text. Signed: F..
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 36, pages 253-255.
Collection(s): Pravda


This paper has already reported the remarkable act of spinelessness on the part of Gustavo Herve. This smart journalist and agitator, a man without socialist training or socialist education, went over (from the ranks of the professors) to the workers’ party, with all the habits and practices of a bourgeois intellectual. He began as an opportunist. Then he swung over to the “extreme Left”, and for a long time preached semi-anarchist ideas, “terrifying” the bourgeoisie with noisy outcries in an anti-militarist spirit.

Lately he has tended to turn away from the anarchists and to make his way back to the party, and towards recognition of the parliamentary struggle and of educational and organisational work. But there again, this intellectual smarty wobbled, and swung back to the opportunists. Being an impressionist, too much swayed by the last impression and prone to spineless vacillation, he has been so “scared” by the present reactionary wave of chauvinism, nationalism and imperialism in France that he has begun preaching a return to the “bloc” policy, i.e., an alliance with the bourgeois Radicals. In order to save the Republic in France it is essential, he asserts, to have a bloc with the Radicals; otherwise the reactionaries in France will once again restore the monarchy or the Empire!

It is hardly necessary to say that, apart from extreme opportunists, the French Socialists ridicule the spineless Herve, and energetically protest against the bloc. Recently one of the organs of the workers’ party published in the South of France carried a number of statements by leading Socialists against the bloc.

It is the Socialists who began and are carrying on the campaign against reaction, these leading workers rightly say; it is the Socialists who campaigned among the masses with their protest against the law for a return to three years’ military service (i.e., a return to the reactionary, barrack-room and absolutely undemocratic army). It is the Socialists who are working for a proletarian bloc, i.e., the alliance of socialist workers and syndicalist workers. Among the Radicals and “Radical-Socialists” (a petty-bourgeois party resembling our Narodniks) only a tiny section supports this truly democratic campaign of the Socialists, and then with many waverings.

Why then have a bloc? Alliance with those who waver will weaken the pressure of the masses and increase the vacillation! Meanwhile, the Socialists have never refused to support the Radicals to the extent that they oppose the reactionaries.

Here, for example, are Messrs. Charles Dumont and Alfred Masse, true-blue “Radical-Socialists”, writes one Socialist, who are backing the three-year service law in the expectation of securing a ministerial post. Here is Clemenceau “himself”, the leader of the Radicals, carrying on a campaign for this law. Here is another prominent leader of the Radicals, Leon Bourgeois, who has also declared in favour of the law. Lastly, in the Military Commission of the Chamber of Deputies, the law was adopted by 17 votes to 4, the latter exclusively socialist.

How can there be a bloc, then, with this shameless bourgeois party of Radicals and “Radical-Socialists”? Only by agitating against it among the masses can the French Socialists detach all democratic elements from that party, thereby obliging some part of it to go left, towards democracy. Being completely dependent on the masses at the elections (since France, of course, has universal suffrage and parliamentary government), many Radicals will think again and again before finally voting for a reactionary law well known to be unpopular among the masses.

The only serious support for democracy and the Republic in France (as everywhere else) is the masses, the masses of workers and with them also the small peasants, and not the parliamentary politicians, buffoons, careerists and adventurers of the bourgeois parties, who declare themselves “Radical-Socialists” one day, only to sell out democracy and country the next day (for the sake of some ministerial job or profitable deal, in the form of some concession or post in a millionaire syndicate, etc.)—(as the French bourgeois sold France to Bismarck in 1871, out of fear of the Paris workers’ uprising against wage-slavery).

The French Socialists, who are fighting the idea of a bloc and are extending their socialist work and agitation among the masses, deserve the warmest greetings.