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Socialist Appeal, 29 September 1940

Once Again

Who ‘Destroyed’ France?


From Socialist Appeal, Vol. 4 No. 39, 29 September 1940, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


In an organized propaganda campaign, American boss groups are trying to terrorize the unions into silence by holding up the horrible example of France.

“What destroyed France?" Ask their roadside signs. “Our national safety demands: Stop labor rows!”

American workers must not fall for this baloney.

It wasn’t “labor rows” that made for the collapse of France. It was the French bosses who opened the way to Hitler’s hordes.

The French ‘bosses placed their own “safety” ahead of the “national safety”.

Weygand, the French generalissimo, came before the French cabinet in those fateful days last June and warned of workers’ unrest resulting from the German victories. He compared the situation in France to the situation in Russia in 1917, when the Russian soldiers turned their arms on their own officers and joined the workers and peasants in revolution. “It must not come to that,” Weygand told the ministers. Surrender to Hitler had to be made, he said, so that the remaining French armies could be preserved “to maintain order and quiet in the country.”

That’s the real story of what happened!

But it was the Popular Front government, we are then told, which in the years preceding the war rendered the country powerless before Hitler, the “labor” government of Blum & Co. This, they say, was the real source of the defeat. This is why American workers should be docile and take all the lumps, for the “national safety.”

This is sliced off the same baloney. The Popular Front Government was not a government of labor. It was a government entrusted by the bosses with the job of dispersing the marching army of labor. Blum and the Communist Party (this was in the days before the Hitler-Stalin pact, when Stalin was still flirting. with the French capitalists) told the workers that “labor rows”, would bring on Hitler.

The “labor rows” of that time – 1936 – were virtually a revolution. The French workers held power in their hands. They had occupied all the factories and plants in the land.

But the workers made the mistake of listening to these false leaders, to Blum and the Stalinists. They gave up the positions they had conquered. They stopped their “labor rows” so that the bosses could assure the "national safety" against Hitler.

But when the showdown came, the bosses left the country wide open to Hitler. They preferred Hitler to workers’ rule. And with Hitler’s help they are now attempting to destroy every remnant of the French labor movement.

That is the real story of the collapse of France. That is the real meaning that lies behind this vicious bosses’ propaganda in this country, conducted by those who want to destroy the workers’ organizations. The bosses don’t want Hitler, but they want to Hitlerize this country themselves.

We want no part of this. The greatest guarantee of the “national safety” lies in the increase, not the decrease, of the power of the workers.

The experience of France showed that the “democrats” who act for the bosses cannot safeguard the “national safety.” Only the workers of France, acting in concert with the workers of Spain, France, Belgium, and Britain, could have stopped the Nazi menace once and for all and ended these brutal national struggles by internationalizing Europe on a socialist basis.

This is our answer to the question: “What destroyed France?” This is also our answer to the question: “What threatens to destroy America?”

Boss rule threatens to destroy America if it is allowed to continue unchallenged. Workers’ rule alone will defend the land. Workers’ rule alone will ensure to all the people that they are defending what is theirs and not the fleshpots of the Sixty Families.

Workers’ power will defend our homes and establish real bonds with the workers of all other lands in common fight against the boss warmongers and warmakers. That is the lesson of France. Down any other road lies conquest by Fascism, either from abroad or by our own home-grown Hitlers.

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