50 Years Ago: Socialists and General de Gaulle
SOCIALISTS ARE OPPOSED to what de Gaulle stands for on principle, because he stands for French capitalism, and Socialists do not support any capitalist faction anywhere or at any time. But the Socialist principle on which we oppose de Gaulle just as imperatively lines us up against the French political parties that oppose de Gaulle, the so-called “Communists” and the minority of the French party misnamed Socialist (its majority supports de Gaulle).
The immediate issue which so bewildered de Gaulle’s opponents of a few weeks ago that many of them ended by voting him into power, was the alleged “defence of democracy.” Faced with a threat of civil war from the rebel generals and French settlers in Algeria and their sympathisers in France, they chose what they thought the lesser evil, making de Gaulle head of the government in the hope that he could and would control the generals. The French Communist Party, which defends the Russian dictatorship and still applauds the bloody suppression of Hungarian workers by Russian troops in 1956, came out hypocritically for the “defence of democracy” against the “Fascist” de Gaulle. We need waste no words on them except to wonder whether their failure to back up their outcry against de Gaulle with something more than words may not have been due to a lurking fear—that perhaps de Gaulle may do a deal with the Russian government behind their backs.
But although the Communist Party did not change its ground while the crisis was on, the French Labourites, the so-called Socialist Party, made themselves ridiculous with a series of somersaults. Starting with a resolution not to support de Gaulle in any circumstances, they followed this with a decision to let the M.P.’s have a free hand either to follow their leader Mollet, who backed de Gaulle, or to vote against him; then another decision a few days later to let them abstain from voting on the question of handing over power to de Gaulle. With Mollet and others of their leaders in de Gaulle’s government the party is split into nearly equal halves; with the likelihood that more will swing over to Mollet.
(From front page article by ‘H’, Socialist Standard, July, 1958)