The Significance of Poincare’s Election
|Written||15 January 1913|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1975, Moscow, Volume 18, pages 487-488.
The new President of the French Republic is being effusively congratulated. Take a look at the Black-Hundred-pogromist Novoye Vremya and the liberal Rech: how touchingly unanimous they are in congratulating President Poincare and expressing their delight!
The appraisal of foreign policy issues and of the state of affairs in the Western countries is particularly indicative of the profound inner kinship of our Black Hundreds and our liberals. The fact that both of them hail the “national” President, Poincaré, who has been elected by an alliance of the big bourgeoisie and clerical and feudal reaction in France, makes it clear to anyone that the Black Hundreds and liberals disagree only over methods of combating socialism.
But Poincaré’s election is of greater interest than the zealous “congratulators” think. Class-conscious workers, in pondering on the significance of this election, note three circumstances.
Firstly, Poincaré’s election means another step forward in aggravating the class struggle confronting France. Poincaré was Premier in a Chamber having a Radical majority. But he has been elected President against the Radical candidate, Pains, with the aid of clerical and feudal reaction, and by the Right bloc.
What does that mean? Power in France is in the hands of the last bourgeois party, the Radicals. It is becoming less and less distinguishable from “reaction”. The whole bourgeoisie—from radical to reactionary—is uniting ever more closely against the socialist proletariat, and the boundary between the two sections of the bourgeoisie is becoming more and more obliterated. This was revealed all the more vividly by the election of Poincaré. This sort of unity is an unmistakable sign of the extreme aggravation of class antagonisms.
Secondly, Poincaré’s career is worthy of note, being that of a typical bourgeois businessman who sells himself in turn to all parties in politics, and to all rich men “outside” politics. Poincaré has been a lawyer by profession since the age of twenty. At twenty-six he was a chef de cabinet and at thirty-three, a Minister. Rich men and the big-wigs of finance in all countries think highly of the political connections of such dexterous careerists. A “brilliant” lawyer-deputy and a political trickster are synonyms in the “civilised” countries.
Worthy of note, thirdly, is the demonstration made by the French Socialists during Poincaré’s election. The vote in favour of Vaillant was a demonstration in honour of the Commune. Vaillant is a living memory of it. One has only to see the welcome which Parisian workers give the white-haired Vaillant when he appears on the platform to realise this.
And now, in the very same Versailles where bourgeois France in 1871 sold its country to Bismarck in order to crush the revolt of the proletariat, and in the very same hail where forty-two years ago was heard the beastly howling of the reactionary landlords of France who were longing for a king, the working-class deputies voted for a veteran Communard.
- The Republican Party of Radicals and Radical-Socialists—a French bourgeois party which took organisational shape in 1901. In reality it has existed since the 1880s. Before the First World War it represented mainly the interests of the petty and middle bourgeoisie. Between the First and the Second world wars the big bourgeoisie increased its influence in it. Its leaders have repeatedly headed French governments.