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Ian Birchall

Big Business Behind
De Gaulle Resignation

(1 May 1969)

From Socialist Worker, No. 120, 1 May 1969, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

THE DEPARTURE of de Gaulle has come as a surprise to those who have been so bemused by his personality that they have ignored the real social forces in France.

In fact it shows that the movement begun last May is still very much alive. In the elections last June the alliance of de Gaulle’s blackmail and the Communist Party’s conservatism was able to produce a temporary swing to the right.

But while the student movement has gone into something of a decline, the working class has continued the fight. Other sections of the population, like peasants and small shopkeepers, who are very numerous in France, are becoming increasingly militant.


Last May showed that it is possible to win these classes for a revolutionary line, if the workers take the lead.

At the same time, de Gaulle’s departure reflects the problems of French capitalism.

De Gaulle was brought in by big capital to end the Algerian war, which was a nuisance to it. He straightened up the constitution and helped integrate the unions.

But now big capital wants someone who will not have de Gaulle’s nationalist attitudes and who will help get France back in the US orbit.

Pompidou – of the Rothschild bank – is their man, though he may well be defeated if a centre candidate can group all the opposition parties, leaving the CP out in the cold.


But while the presidential manoeuvres go on, the real battle to build a new party to the left of the CP continues. The recent turn to a semi-revolutionary line by the formerly Parliamentary PSU and the slow moves towards unity among the left groupings, suggest that in the not too distant future such a party may play a significant role in French politics.

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Last updated: 14 January 2021