A. Rosmer

France – the Last Week Before the War


From New Militant, Vol. 2 No. 20, 23 May 1936, pp. 3 & 4
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).


CONFUSION has its roots in ignorance, and the widespread confusion of the present day on the burning problem of war is in large measure due to ignorance not only of revolutionary policy but of the past. This condition can be principally traced to the studied, sedulous, systematic dissemination of false information and interpretation by the social-patriots. A disoriented working class, nurtured on lies, is pliant material for the militarists in time of war. To create such a condition is the special job of social patriotism.

What is the lesson of the World War? To read or listen to the Stalinists, reformists or pacifists one would gather that it was a terrible calamity, destroying wealth, body and soul, and that is all. That the World War shattered besides material treasures and the lives of millions of human beings, the policies of the leading circle of the working class movement, is carefully avoided in their press and literature. Why? Because these very same policies, with differences only in degree and emphasis, are being practiced and advocated in the labor movement today. Disaster for the working class followed in the wake of these policies in 1914–1918; blindfolded, it was led to the imperialist slaughter, while at home the iron heel of capitalist dictatorship made a mockery of the shibboleths they were dying for on the battlefields. Certain as death itself the same policies today, will lead to the same tragic results.

The imminence of another war, no longer considered even by the skeptical as a fantastic prediction of panic-mongers, makes it imperative that we, the revolutionists, the class-conscious workers, study and assimilate the real lessons of the first World War – imperative if we are not to be caught unawares, with the war coming as an unexpected shock. For this reason we are devoting an entire page of the New Militant to a chapter of Alfred Rosmer’s invaluable book, recently published in France, Le Mouvement Ouvrier Pendant la Geurre – De l’Union Sacrée à Zimmerwald (The Workers’ Movement during the War – From Civil Peace to Zimmerwald). This chapter dealing with the last week before the war in France, describes in detail the reaction of the trade union movement to the problems raised by the war crisis. In it we note the gradual but perceptible metamorphosis of the outstanding leaders, some of whom, like Jouhaux are still at the head of the trade unions of France and still advocating the same policies.

Beginning with loud pacifist pronunciamentos, with threats of general strike, with telegrams of international solidarity and even the organization of huge anti-war demonstrations, their position begins to veer the moment war is unleashed. The call for a general strike is forgotten, and how else could it be, as the leaders begin to explain: “We have done everything in our power ...” then a complaint against the working class “for not understanding its duty” and finally the acceptance of the war as an accomplished fact: “It is odious, it is atrocious, it is unbelievable ... but it is ...” With this, the treacherous leaders wash their hands of all struggle against war, nay more, they join in the struggle for the victory of the capitalist fatherland they inveighed against in vague rhetorical flourishes the day before. But the ground is even then tested cautiously through a patriotic remark at the Emperor Franz-Josef. From this point on the social patriots grow bolder. The working class is exhorted to “leave for the front without bitterness,” to die not for their capitalist fatherland but for the “revolution” (Modern version: democracy, the Soviet Union). The outstanding trade union leader enters the unholy coalition of class peace and advises the capitalist class as to how to induce passivity and quiet in the working class and how to profit most from the imperialist war.

Rosmer’s book deals only with the French labor movement, but it can be applied almost in detail to those of almost every other country before and during the fatal years of 1914–1918. Above all, it can and must be applied today. The events of the last world war must become an integral part of the revolutionary arsenal. Only by learning the errors and crimes of yesterday can we be strong today and tomorrow.

* * *

The last week of July 1914 was the last week of peace, the last week also of an era in the life and the history of Europe and of the world.

The ultimatum of the Austro-Hungarian Government was served on Serbia on Friday, July 24. The French newspapers published it and commented on it the next day, Saturday the 25th. The Bataille Syndicaliste (organ of the C.G.T. – Ed.) gave it the importance that it deserved; a three-column spread announced:

The ultimatum of Austria to Serbia. The Viennese Government wants to impose humiliating conditions on Belgrade. If Serbia refuses, it means war, and then ...

The article stressed the gravity of this new phase of the conflict and emphasized the inevitable character of the European complications which would follow. It drew no conclusions.

In the same edition a prominent position was given to the “Russian strikes” under the heading: “The riots continue. Repression has begun.”

The next day’s edition, Sunday, July 26, was of paramount importance; it provided the conclusions which were missing from the article of the day before and provided them in the name of the C.G.T. (The trade union federation – Ed.).

First a boxed head over the first two columns under the caption:


and the text:

The decisions of the federal congress on the attitude of the working class in case of war become operative at the moment war is declared.

... In such a case the declaration of war should be the signal for every worker to immediately stop work.

... To every declaration of war the workers should immediately reply with a revolutionary general strike.
(Extract from the resolution adopted by the Special Conference of Central Labor Unions and Federations, Oct. 1, 1911)

Youth Against War

During this last part of the month of July when the war danger suddenly reappeared, the Jeunesses Syndicalistes decided to call their members once more to demonstrate against the military parades of Saturday the 25th. In the morning Bataille Syndicaliste published their appeal and in the evening there were more demonstrations. The Bataille Syndicaliste reported them as follows on Sunday:


Cries of Down with War!

The military maneuvers provoked incidents last evening to which the present situation gave an especial importance.

After a year’s truce, the Jeunesses Syndicalistes have called on their members to demonstrate when the military parades passed over to the right bank.

On one side the shouts were raised: Long live the Republic! Long live Caillaux! Down with war! Down with the three years military service! On the other: Long live the army! After the demonstration, the Jeunesses Syndicalistes, reinforced by numerous spectators, demonstrated on the Boulevards.

But during Sunday, other demonstrators, several thousand in number, marched along the Boulevards shouting: “Long live the army! Long live the War! On to Berlin! On to Berlin!" The Seine Trade Union Federation, and the Bataille Syndicaliste decided to reply immediately. They called on the Parisian workers to come out on the streets in their turn and assemble before the offices of Matin, a newspaper especially hated by the workers and the one which at that time most cynically pushed on toward war. The Bataille Syndicaliste renewed the appeal in a special edition printed during the afternoon and sold by newsboys in the working class sections of the city after 5 p.m.:


On to the Streets Tonight

Everything isn’t settled yet; the die is not yet cast; but as things are now, only a blunder or a rash move is needed to precipitate the catastrophe.

... War ... is the unleashing of every hideous instinct, the bloodiest, vilest and basest instincts. Reread the reports of the correspondents on the atrocities committed in the course of the last Balkan war. Remember the women raped and disembowelled, the old men and children mutilated, their fingers and ears cut off, their eyes gouged out, villages burned and the piles of decomposing corpses abandoned in the open to the flies and vultures!

Those corpses, tomorrow, it will be you!

Those women, those children, those old men, tomorrow they will be yours!

That is war!

And that is what the bandits on the Boulevards have been hailing for the last two days.

And that, mind you, solely because some Serbian peasants and some Austrian soldiers are quarrelling and will come to grips.

So! Unless we are either crazy or corrupt; unless we want to see our country throw itself in a few hours into the worst imaginable adventure; if, comrade, you do not want to be torn from the arms of your family to be led into the East to the firing line, the people of Paris must be immediately aroused. This is an emergency. If these criminal fools, who cry: ‘Long live war!’ are not silenced this very evening then the end has come.

Tomorrow We Will be Mobilized!

It is the duty of all our readers, of all our friends, of all the trade unionists of Paris, of all the friends of peace to come:

This Evening After 9 o’clock on the main streets opposite the offices of Matin.

And everyone shouting, “Down with War!”

Belleville, Menilmontant St Antoine, Montparnasse, remember your heroic traditions. Let the streaming masses from the faubourgs flood the centers of the city and submerge these imbecile and jingo provocations.

That is our only hope of peace. That is our only salvation.

That is our last hope of avoiding the catastrophe; let us save ourselves while there is still time.

Time presses.

Until this evening!

Bataille Syndicaliste.

Finally the District Committee was convoked for the next Thursday:

Meeting of the District Committee, joint meeting of both sections, Thursday, July 30, 9 p.m., 33 Rue la Grange aux Belles. Agenda: the international situation.

(signed) Jouhaux, Sec’y

The Violence of “Democracy”

These appeals were heard. From 9 o’clock until midnight that Monday an enormous crowd flowed ceaselessly through the Boulevards. Extraordinary numbers of police were mobilized; the tactic of the chief of police was to protect the offices of Matin (in anticipation of a working class assault, a hundred police agents had been stationed inside the “red house”), and, by police cordons, established in each of the streets leading to the Boulevards, to prevent the formation of a single mass demonstration by checking the flow of new arrivals. But the workers who came from the faubourgs into the centers of the city were so numerous that the tactics of the police produced unexpected results: there were soon as many demonstrations as there were streets. The violence and brutality of the police could not dampen the fighting spirit of these crowds; all evening the cry of “down with war!” resounded from the Opera to the Place de la Republique. The following lines summed up the report – an accurate report by a certain J – which the Bataille Syndicaliste gave of the demonstration:

The government officials? Ah! the great apostles of democracy! They were pacifists at election time. Yesterday they opposed to Paris’ will for peace the sabres of the police and the guns of the Gardes Mobiles. It was their first step toward war. Yes, they are mobilizing, but mobilizing the police against the workers ... Their first victory ... No, they were not victorious.

Most of the Tuesday, July 28 issue was devoted to this demonstration. The front page bore the streamer: The People Rise Up Against the War.

Then a four-column head:


It proved it yesterday evening. There were demonstrations everywhere yesterday evening in the teeming sections of Paris. The great boulevards were jammed. Officials and jingoes were warned. The police charged violently against the demonstrators who shouted: Long live peace! Down with war!

The report was preceded by an article entitled: First notice, whose importance was indicated by the signature of the Bureau of the C.G.T. and the Union des Syndicats. The following is the text:

Yesterday morning the Bataille Syndicaliste in its own name and in the name of trade union organizations called upon the people of Paris to demonstrate the same evening against the threat of war. A special edition appearing at five o’clock repeated the urgent appeal of the morning.

And yesterday evening at eight o’clock up to the time of this writing, despite the police, one hundred thousand, two hundred thousand – who can estimate such a crowd? – of the workers of Paris demonstrated on the great boulevards with constant shouts of: Down with war! Long live peace!

... This is the first warning given to the rulers of France who front now on are informed of the sentiments of the people of Paris – which do not differ in any way from the sentiment of the people in general – on the possible war.

This warning will be immediately followed by another. Tomorrow the same people will march through the two halls in the Wagram, because both halls are too small to hold them.

This time they will again indicate their unshakeable determination to put into practice the decisions of the Trade Union Congress on war. They will show that they are ready for any sacrifice to maintain peace, making common cause with the proletariat of Germany, England, Italy, and elsewhere.

If on the morrow the rulers are insane enough to ignore the people’s will they will be preparing a cruel tomorrow for themselves.

From now on war is impossible, the people will not permit it!

Our second demonstration tomorrow evening at Wagram will prove it!

The meeting referred to in this article was announced further on in a box:


General Confederation of Labor
Trade Unions of the Seine Dist.

To the Workers:

As the elements are unleashed, events surge on, the possibility of war becomes clear ...

Shall we allow this abominable crime to take place, without having made heard our protest and without having done everything to prevent it?

Already our central organizations have appealed to the trade unions to observe the decisions of the Federal Congress.

We will comment on these decisions and we will describe their application in a

Monster Meeting

which will be held on Wednesday, July 29, at 8:30 p.m., at Wagram Hall, Wagram Avenue.

Jouhaux, Dumoulin, Yvetot (C.G.T.) ; Chauvin (Building Trades Federation); Merrheim (Metal Workers Federation); Lefevre (Jewelry Workers Federation); Bled, Minot, Ganbiez (Union des Syndicate de le Seine).”

Repression Begins

Thursday, the 30th. Everything had been prepared to make the meeting of Wednesday evening a a powerful working class protest against war. A coup de theatre occurred. Late in the afternoon, the meeting announced on Tuesday morning was banned by the government The circumstance of the prohibition are noteworthy. The decision was made at a council of ministers held at 5 o’clock in the afternoon. But this council of ministers was the first held since the return of Poincaré, who disembarked at Dunkirk that very morning. What special information could he impart to provoke such an extraordinary step? Or what plot against peace did he hatch in St. Petersburg with his sinister accomplice Tsar Nicholas, while the Russian workers celebrated the “holidays” by powerful strikes and spirited demonstrations in the streets in all the working class sections of the city. Did he already bring the order for general mobilization?

At the same time that the ministers made this unforeseen and belated decision, orders were issued to the police to prevent with whatever brutality necessary not only the holding of the meetings but any sort of gathering in the neighborhood of the Etoile. All the neighboring subway stations were closed at seven o’clock. But the workers who, because of the late hour at which the government decision was made and posted, could not be prevented from arriving from all parts of the city in large numbers. All those who asked for an explanation were immediately beaten up, slugged, arrested, and jailed. Bataille Syndicaliste wrote that the garb of a worker sufficed to provoke a beating by the police. From which the newspaper concluded: “Wherever the workers, there the enemy.” Despite this show of police force and the brutal orders conscientiously executed, crowds gathered around even the Etoile and the Place des Ternes, which soon became the scene of bloody encounters. This quarter of Paris kept seething the entire evening.

Bataille Syndicaliste of Thursday, July 30, carried the following streamer: ... Down with war ... despite everything!

The government did not stop with this brutal prohibition of anti-war meetings and demonstrations; it methodically prepared the minds of the people for war and its acceptance. In these critical days it practiced special technique through the medium of the venal press which alternately blew hot and cold: one day it was war, the next day peace. In Paris the rhythm was even more rapid; on the same day they passed successively from war to peace. By this method the people were rapidly whipped up to a frenzy. On Wednesday, panic was already in the air. There was a run on the banks and on the savings banks and gold was universally demanded in place of bank notes.

The B.S. for Thursday reported the incidents of the panic under the following caption:


A day of anxiety. The government could find only one solution to the international crisis: prepare the repression against the working class.

This is undoubtedly the guarantee demanded by the Czar, “our friend and ally.”

Such measures will save neither national independence, if it were endangered, nor the little statesmen who want to plunge the country into the most catastrophic of adventures.

The workers have Shown their sentiment by the demonstrations on the Boulevards; our ministers know today what they must count’ with.

The will of the people is clearly against the slaughter.

Woe to those who ignore this today!

Woe to those responsible for the cataclysm!

Woe to the perpetrators of the slaughter and savagery!

Woe to the powers that be!

The working class alone will decide the fate of these criminal megalomaniacs. Before, during or after the massacre.

Let them take warning before the die is cast – B.S.

Jaurès Assassinated

Friday evening, July 31. The Confederal Committee was meeting. On its agenda was the organization and preparation of a new and powerful demonstration against the war which would take place simultaneously in Paris and in all the large cities of France. Suddenly the telephone rang, interrupting the deliberations. Jaurès had just been assassinated! The discussion was hastily terminated, inasmuch as Jouhaux, Merrheim and other members rushed to the offices of l’Humanité. When they arrived there, rue Montmartre was thronged with a vast multitude of agitated workers shocked by the horrible news. But there was not alone grief among them, there was also anger and a desire for vengeance. Their number was constantly swelling. The Socialist leaders assembled at this time no doubt feared reprisals against the perpetrators of the crime, all of whom were well known, because a voice from one of the windows of the offices of the paper was suddenly heard urging calm. The multitude of workers dispersed slowly, very slowly; late into the night many groups still remained discussing. But the crime was to go unpunished.

Saturday, August 1, Bataille Syndicaliste drew the following balance sheet of this fatal day:


Mobilization Rumored; Jaures Assassinated.

Under the heading: A monstrous crime, the paper wrote: “What a sinister omen in this martyred death!”

Then Leon Jouhaux:


The hour is grave, but not desperate. The cause of peace has still numerous friends in the world, and the working class of all countries are acting in a common thought: to avert the armed clash.

Above all we must guard ourselves against panic and hysteria, which lead to the worst results.

... Our duty is to attentively scan the news we receive without however placing unlimited trust upon it

The Confederal Committee will call popular demonstrations, in Paris and in the provinces.

On its part the Confederal Committee had adopted the following agenda:

The Confederal Committee, meeting on Friday, July 31, resolves in view of the international situation, to organize in agreement with the Socialist Party a great international demonstration against war on August 9.

A committee was selected to meet with a committee of the Socialist Party.

The Committee was instructed to advance the demonstration if international events warrant it.

Indignation Against the Assassination of Jaurès

The committee learned during its session of the cowardly assassination which struck down the noble figure that was Jaurès.

It is impossible to transmit the sentiment of sorrow which gripped the members present.

In Jaurès we had the most clairvoyant, the most ardent defender of humanity’s causes. Jaurès who is no more.

— For Confederal Committee, The Bureau: Leon Jouhaux, Yvetot, Dumoulin, Marek, Calveyrach

In the issues of the preceding days, the B.S. had published information on the demonstrations which occurred simultaneously in Germany, among them this dispatch from Berlin, July 28:

The police chief has this evening proscribed all patriotic processions on the public highways. The police chief of Munich took similar measures.

And on this day it published a dispatch from Strasbourg relating to Socialist activity in Alsace-Lorraine :

STRASBOURG, July 31. – The Socialist Party has organized protest meetings against war and against the threat of a universal conflagration in the great cities of Alsace. A meeting was held yesterday evening at Mulhouse and this evening others will be held at Strasbourg, Mulhouse and Colmar. Meetings are also scheduled in the less important centers.

It also makes mention of international working class action. Legien had sent a telegram to the C.G.T.; Jouhaux replied to him. Here it is as published in the B.S.:


In reply to a telegram from comrade Legien, secretary of the International Secretariat, requesting the opinion of the C.G.T. on the present situation, the Confederal Bureau addressed the following telegram to him:

Legien, Engel Ufer 15, Berlin

French Federation of Labor resolutely against war, demands international proletariat intervene by pressure on governments to obtain a localization of the conflict.

Peace is possible, and must triumph, if the workers organized internationally remain united in the same thought: opposition to all conflagration.

This peace lies in the hands of the international working class, if it proves equal to the peril.

Here pacifist demonstrations are continuing. We firmly believe in peace because we are energetically resolved to avert war.

Down with war! Long live peace guaranteed by the Labor International.


The systematic campaign of demoralization of the masses by the circulation of false news continued. On the 28th the newspapers announced the assassination of the German representative in Belgrade.

Jaurès had been assassinated on Friday, July 31 at about 10 p.m. Saturday, August 1, the order of general mobilization was already posted at four in the afternoon, which set the first day of mobilization for Sunday morning. While the Socialists and syndicalists prepared their new demonstrations against war, the war makers had Jaurès struck down by a hired thug and the government, which continued to declare that it wanted peace and that it was making all efforts to avert war, had decided for the general mobilization. It only remained for Poincaré to cynically declare that “mobilization is not yet war,” although he knew only too well that the Russian general mobilization, begun on the 31, in the early hours of the day, made the universal conflagration inevitable.

But Poincaré’s lie deceived no one. Mobilization is war. Bataille Syndicaliste announced it in its issue of Sunday, August 2 in this streamer: Folly triumphs over reason.

The Die Is Cast

The C.G.T. issued a manifesto to the workers of France:


The evil forces are on the point of triumph. A ray of hope is still visible, but so weak that the worst eventualities must be envisaged.

However swept by the whirlpool, we want to preserve the hope of a possible peace.

Up to this hour the Confederal Committee has remained at its post, fighting for the cause of peace.

Only yesterday it addressed a supreme appeal to the international working class.

If its efforts do not appear to have yielded what we have every right to expect, what the organized working class hoped, it is because events have submerged us. And it is our duty to say at this supreme moment, It is also because the proletariat has failed to understand with sufficient unanimity all the consistent efforts necessary for preserving humanity from the horrors of war.

Women, you who are weeping at this moment, we have done everything in our power to spare you this sorrow. But sad to say, today we can only deplore the fait accompli.

Can we demand a greater sacrifice from our comrades?

Although we are pained to say it, we will reply: No.

What we implore of all, is an unshakeable attachment to trade unionism, which must traverse and survive the impending crisis.

As firmly as yesterday, we must preserve our ideas in their entirety and faith in their final triumph.

The Labor International will always remain the goal of our efforts.

To it all our hopes converge, it must not be destroyed in the tempest.

Because we know that a day will come when the peoples will have more confidence in it and will give it strength, when it will constitute the only safeguard of Peace and Civilization.

In an article entitled: Malediction! Bataille Syndicaliste inveighs not so much against the war in general as the Emperor of Austria in particular. This unexpected malediction occurs in the last line of the article.





... A rain of tears is falling upon the city.

... It is the general mobilization!

... May the monstrous crime which is to plunge all of Europe into barbarism, into the abyss of black mourning and ruin be punished.

May the thrones tumble, may the crowns fall!

The will of the people has been violated, imperialism is the criminal that has unleashed the tempest.

... But if it must be, if the catastrophe is inevitable, if the force of the workers for peace was valiant but futile to save their honor, oh! then may the very extent of the evil consummated arise to annihilate stifling militarism!

May this be the end of the nightmare!

And a curse upon the name of the senile Emperor Franz-Josef!

Throughout Sunday, the first day’s conscripts were entrained to join their regiments. During this time, the people left behind, undoubtedly looking for booty, sacked the “boches” shops, and abandoned themselves also, here, there and everywhere, “spy hunts.” The Confederal Committee held a brief meeting in the early afternoon. Monday’s Bataille Syndicaliste said nothing about it. The leading article, captioned The Irreparable, is signed B.S.:

The irreparable has now occurred.

... The European war is unleashed.

The spirit still refuses to believe this.

Nevertheless, it is only too true, this catastrophe which shatters our lives and our spirits, recalls us back to our sense of duty, fastens it to those conceptions to us which we want to erase, can compromise all our hopes, crush all our past efforts.

It is atrocious, it is odious, it is unbelievable.

But it is ...


Of the speeches made at the funeral of Jaurès, that of Jouhaux alone must be retained here. The B.S. for Wed., August 5, prints long extracts. Jouhaux first explained why the working class loved Jaurès, then he cried:

Today, it is still in our minds that we will draw upon indispensable forces. In the name of those who are about to depart – myself among them – I declare that it is not hatred of the German people which drives us to the battle fields, it is hatred of German imperialism.

The editor of B.S. adds in his story:

Tumultuous applause. Emotion was at its zenith. People wept M. Maurice Barres applauded vigorously and said to one of his neighbors: “Very good! Very good!” one senator, a bitter enemy of the C.G.T., cried out: “And to think that these are the men we wanted to clap in jail!”

In the B.S. of Thursday, Aug. 6, a new explanation of the war is given in an unsigned but prominently placed article:


... In the present conflict the ethnical question has its importance. The Germans whose blood is of a coarser strain and therefore more submissive and resigned in spirit, have not our spirit of independence.

Nevertheless the anonymous author will say in his conclusion that it is only the “proud and ferocious clique” which must be conquered.

On Friday, August 7, In an article entitled: Humanity! Justice! Ch. Malotta recommends “tact to the foreign anarchists and Socialists residing in France, and discernment to the government which had somewhat indiscriminately imprisoned several.”

On August 8, another new recruit, Charles Albert, who will become a regular and prolific contributor. Here are the principal passages of his first article:


Immense hopes, incalculable hopes are rising in the world.

... Depart without bitterness, without regret, comrade workers, you who are being called to the front to defend French soil.

Depart without bitterness, leave without any mental reservations, comrade workers. It is for the revolution you are going to fight.

And should you fall, all those closest to you who remain, both young and old, whose hour has not yet struck but which will, all of you by taking the solemn oath today, at the same time that they give you the kiss of parting: advance soldiers of the revolution, it is not in vain that you will have fallen.

Depart without bitterness, without regret, comrade workers.

Beginning with Wednesday, Aug. 12, Jouhaux, who had written nothing since the outbreak of the war, started a series of articles, important for the subject matter and the conceptions expressed therein. Gone are the lamentations; our feet are now planted solidly in the war; we must now study the new problems posed by it. The first of these articles, on this day, concerns itself with the widespread unemployment which arose spontaneously from the single fact of the war. The theme which he develops, is first and foremost that “idleness is a bad counsellor”:


One of the major preoccupations of the present hour must be to be of use.

To allow idleness to remain master would be a grave error. In unemployment, spirits are enervated, respond to the least rumour, and can wander on to passing but nevertheless prejudicial errors.

If external activity is to correspond to internal calm, there is only one factor capable of giving this result: work.

Every day the number of unemployed grows, it would be dangerous to allow matters to proceed in this way believing that the entire question is one of providing charity.

It is a fine thing to come to the assistance of suffering; to prevent this misery by the worthwhile employment of the workers is better.

In favoring the resumption of useful production, we create activity and it is to that end that all farseeing men acquainted with mob psychology must bend their efforts.

... To make work, wherever it is possible and necessary, to revive activity, is to fortify against the excesses of mass idleness, is also to favor a rise in the public morale.

To aim at these two results in the present period is far from a negligible thing.

On Friday the 14th, Jouhaux’s article this time presents an entire program. It has as its title: Let us profit from it! Let us profit from the war, profit from the fact that Germany is blockaded, that it can no longer communicate with its customers abroad to sell them merchandise.


We have already said that we think a revival of industrial activity is urgent. We will not return to this, save to add that the more the hour of the emotions, the more imperative it is that the new potent troubles find a working class not gripped by unemployment

This is to say that we take It upon ourselves to publicly indicate another point of capital importance which if realized will permit a revival of economic life.

In the present situation the military operations, on land and sea, and in relation to the position taken in the struggle by England, the Mediterranean Sea, the Channel, the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean are open in almost complete security for our merchant marine as well as that of our ally.

Our ports can then resume their normal life on the condition that there is a large enough maritime traffic.

Is this feasible? Yes. For according to the date in our possession we are guaranteed the mastery of these seas.

But there is more, Germany is at the present time blockaded, its maritime commerce is partly cut off! Why cannot our merchant marine cooperating with England’s not assume to their own profit part of the German work which is no longer being carried on?

This would be an initial victory, with an importance that can escape no one.

Maritime activity will engender industrial activity, at the same time that it would permit us to establish reserves which is no small matter.

We advance our idea, certain that it is realizable, and that the results which putting it into practice can yield, for today and for tomorrow, surpass in utilitarian weight all hypothesis which may be expounded.

We must profit from all situations: the German blockade by the English fleet gives us commercial freedom on the seas; let us profit from it first to revitalize ourselves, to assure work and then to establish our primacy in the field of imports and exports for the future.

Belligerents Watch, Lie in Wait, Ready to Leap

On the 17th, Charles Malato, addressing himself to the Italian republicans, Socialists, anarchists and trade unionists, issued the cry: “Fuori i barbari”:

The place of the Italian people is in struggle on the side of the French republic which is still only statist and bourgeois and which we will develop until it becomes social and libertarian.

On the 25th the leading article is by Jouhaux dealing once again with the “economic revival,” taking “an example from England”:

I have before me a circular from the Hans Berthold Co. of Manchester, which reads verbatim as follows:

“The directors are resolved, however, by every possible means, to employ the entire personnel of the factories. If supplementary orders cannot be obtained, they will work for stock as long as financial resources of the company permit. If after all, a reduction of wages is necessary, this will take the form of a reduction of the hours of work rather than by a reduction of personnel.”

Here is an example worthy of emulation: it happily harmonizes the three principal interests of the moment: the interests of the nation, the employer and the worker.

A New Ministry;
At the Front

Here at the same time is announced the resignation of the cab- inent and the formation of a new ministry. Disastrous events have occurred at the front – which have been covered up until this day – which are the cause for all speeches and the change in the ministry. Following the official communique the paper gives a brief appreciation, unsigned, on the New Government:

... Finally what characterizes the new ministry is the arrival of politically influential statesmen, both former ministers or newcomers.

A. Briand, Millerand, Delcasse and Thomson make up part of this ministry of national defense.

The Socialists, whose parliamentary influence is not insignificant, are represented in this ministry by two of their most reputable leaders: Marcel Sembat and Jules Guesde.

There can be no doubt that Jaurès would have been able to play a role of the first water in this ministry whose, task – let us have no illusions here – is a formidable one.

Dissimilar in their past but reunited by the common will to conquer, the men who assume power in this tragic hour when the frontier is invaded, are going to face many difficulties.

Only one thought must animate them: to drive back German imperialism which is threatening existing rights and threatens to destroy the future of civilization.

In the first days of the war, the government decided to create a “National Aid”; it was concerned with giving a piece of bread to all those women, old men, unemployed who because of the war ran the risk of dying of hunger behind the lines. (Later when the war was put on an industrial basis, there would be work for all, but at the beginning there was complete destitution in the workers’ districts). And on the 4th of August one could read on the walls of Paris a beautiful white poster announcing the initiative of the government Up to this point nothing extraordinary. But what was extraordinary was the collection of names constituting the committee in charge with the administration of National Aid: all high dignitaries of the bourgeoisie, archbishop, grand-rabbi, academicians, industrialists, bankers ... and then Leon Jouhaux, secretary of the C.G.T. and Bled, Secretary of the Union des Syndicates de la Seine. [1]


1. There was also Lepine, former police chief, butcher of workers and Ch. Maurras, one of those really implicated in the assassination of Jaurès.

Last updated on 4 May 2015