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Marc Loris

French Party Is Growing
Despite Gestapo Terror

Forced to Carry on Illegal Activities,
Group Wins New Members, Including CPers

(25 April 1942)

From The Militant, Vol. 6 No. 17, 25 April 1942, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Political life in France is much more intense in the occupied zone than in the zone called “Free.” There are many causes, the principal one being the direct collision with the invader.

Like the political life in general, the Trotskyists are more active in the Occupied Zone.

In the Paris region is found the largest number of the Trotskyist cells. The organization has groups in most of the large towns, but the reader will excuse us for not giving more details on this subject. The great majority of the members are extremely young.

The whole party is organized on a conspirative basis, for the slightest imprudence may cost dearly at the hands of the Gestapo. Regular liaisons are established between the two zones as well as with other European countries.

Despite the Gestapo

For one and a half years, since a little after the arrival of the Nazis, the organization has been publishing a paper, La Verité. At first reproduced in divers ways, the paper has now been printed since September 1941. It appears as regularly as the illegal conditions permit, about once every 15 days. Its run is about 3,000 copies, limited because of the difficulties in securing paper. Pamphlets are also frequently published.

The organization held its national convention last September with the representatives of the two zones participating. Many resolutions were adopted on. the political problems, and the party permanently took the name Parti Ouvrier Internationalist (Internationalist Workers Party), Fourth International.

Old Parties Disappear

The military defeats and the occupation of the country profoundly altered the political physiognomy of France. The traditional bourgeois parties have vanished. The Radical-Socialist Party, biggest bourgeois party, disappeared in 24 hours. In the camp of the bourgeoisie, nothing organized remains except the fascist cliques and, illegally, some new organizations, groups of resistance without direct connections with the old parties.

Of the once enormous Socialist Party, not a great deal remains. It is only now, nearly two years after the debacle, that one can perceive signs of a renewal of activity in the socialist groups. But it is still very small.

The Stalinists

Of the unions, there is a little more left. But it is undoubtedly the Stalinist party which represents, by far, the principal organized force of resistance.

One can consider it an established fact that the largest part of the terrorist acts are committed at the initiative of the Stalinists. The party itself advocates individual terror in its publications. As for its political ideology, it is absolute nationalism without a trace of socialism.

The Trotskyist Policy

The Internationalist Workers Party (POI), on the other hand, subscribes to the Marxist criticism of the political adventurism of the Stalinists, constantly opposing to individual terrorism the organization of the masses. It shows the emptiness of all the adventurist methods which, in the long run, don’t do much damage to the oppressors, but cost the lives of a large number of militant revolutionists.

The POI supports all forms of sabotage of a mass character, for example slow-downs in the factories, but opposes all merely individual acts as sterile products of impatience.

The adventurist methods of Stalinism have produced inside the Communist Party a muffled and confused opposition, but one that is already very extended. Resentful of the absurd and criminal policies imposed from above, this opposition as yet has failed to raise a political criticism of Stalinism, but is tending inevitably to such criticism.

That is why the French Trotskyists have been trying to help the development of this opposition. One of their ways is to make united fronts with the Stalinist organizations. They have already obtained some success. They have been able to publish an illegal journal in common with a whole section of the Stalinist party in one area. Joint meetings have taken place in different towns. In Paris the Trotskyists can easily approach and discuss with young Communists. All this is a sign of profound changes.

We do not forget that these successes could not have been possible had the Trotskyists not been firmly united for the defense of the Soviet Union.

The internal political life of the Trotskyists is extremely intense. Discussion bulletins are frequently published. All the complex questions of the present period are discussed. One can say that the whole organization is really politically united.

Difficulties are not lacking. Our French comrades have much to learn. Their leadership must acquire experience. But the present situation teaches quickly. In the midst of the greatest persecution, ever-growing numbers are united on the basis of Marxism and carry high the banner of the Fourth International. The future will show what a formidable force is concentrated in them.

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