A Tale of Clashing Counter-cultures

  • Gino G. Raymond
Part of the French Politics, Society and Culture Series book series (FPSC)

Abstract

In the previous chapter we analysed the way in which Marchais’ leadership discourse became introverted to the point of no longer being able to convince his own party members of its pertinence. In the current chapter we shall open up this theme to look more broadly at the relationship between the party and the national community whose belief in the mission of the PCF was in manifest decline. Whether it was the open challenge to the PCF of an erstwhile party functionary like Pierre Juquin, or the forlorn attempts to reform the party from the inside by distinguished but disenchanted members like Charles Fiterman (especially when faced with what they believed to be the failures of Georges Marchais’ leadership), their actions added to the evidence of a lack of synchronicity between the PCF and the society it aspired to change, and even between the party and the members it purported to serve. But the actions of Juquin and Fiterman marked the ultimate phase in a long-term process of change that pointed to the need for a reappraisal of the sense of identity and mission that lay at the heart of the PCF’s raison d’être. One of the original strengths of the party, certainly in the way it understood itself, had been as a refuge from the exploitation characteristic of capitalist society and the superstructure of oppressive values it generated. As a consequence, apart from the overthrow of that system, the defining mission of the party was to offer an alternative set of values around which to organise the collective existence of its members: a counter-culture.

Keywords

Europe Shrinkage Coherence Expense Production Line 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    A. Prost, Education, société et politique (Paris: Seuil, 1992), p. 123.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    In reality, the police were initially disinclined to intervene when the agitators began to congregate in the courtyard of the Sorbonne on May 3. According to some commentators, it was the rector of the university, Roche, who was keenest to see the perturbateurs expelled and invited the police to do so. See R. Backmann and L. Rioux, Mai 1968 (Paris: Laffont, 1968). Thereafter, contingent factors led to the point where an initially awkward situation degenerated into violence. Unable to make identity checks on the spot because the students were judged to be too numerous, the police decided to take the students away in waiting vehicles, thus igniting the rumour that spread like wildfire in the Latin Quarter that the students were being victim-ised in a repressive police raid.Google Scholar
  3. L. Jofrin, Mai 68. Histoire des événements (Paris: Seuil, 1998), p. 23.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    S. Courtois and M. Lazar, Histoire du Parti communiste français (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2000), p. 350.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    It has been forcefully argued elsewhere that by cutting itself off from the anti-totalitarian sentiment that emerged in May 1968, the PCF cut itself off from an underlying process of profound change, creating a ‘cultural blockage’ between itself, French society and even a new wave of its own party members, that would result in a time-bomb set to explode in the 1980s. M. Lazar, Maisons rouges. Les partis communistes français et italiens de la Libération à nos jours (Paris: Aubier, 1992), p. 130.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    H. Hamon and P. Rotman, Génération, 2 vols, vol. 2, Les années de poudre (Paris: Seuil, 1998), p. 10.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    J.-P. Le Goff, Mai 68: L’héritage impossible (Paris: La Découverte, 1998), Part III.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    F. Picq, Libération des femmes. Les années mouvement (Paris: Seuil, 1993), p. 14.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    R. Pronier and V.-J. Le Seigneur, Génération verte. Les ecologistes en politique (Paris: Presses de la Renaissance, 1992), p. 26.Google Scholar
  10. 12.
    See Parti Communiste Français, Kremlin PCF: Conversation secrètes (Paris: O. Orban, 1984).Google Scholar
  11. 14.
    Interestingly, archival evidence shows that in exchanges between the Czech embassy and Prague in the spring of 1968, their ambassador in Paris had come to the conviction that Waldeck Rochet was caught between the sympathies he shared with those in favour of the reasons for the experiment in Prague, and those who shared his (Rochet’s) instinctive fear of doing anything that might jeopardise the PCF’s relationship with the CPSU. See K. Bartosek, Les aveux des archives. Prague-Paris-Prague, 1948–1968 (Paris: Seuil, 1996), p. 187.Google Scholar
  12. 15.
    J. Elleinstein, L’Histoire de l’URSS (Paris: Editions Sociales, 1972–5);Google Scholar
  13. J. Elleinstein, L’Histoire du phénomène stalinien (Paris: Grasset, 1975).Google Scholar
  14. 16.
    A. Adler et al., L’URSS et nous (Paris: Editions Sociales, 1978).Google Scholar
  15. 20.
    See A. Glucksmann, La cuisinière et le mangeur d’hommes (Paris: Seuil, 1975), andGoogle Scholar
  16. B.-H. Lévy, La barbarie à visage humain (Paris: Grasset, 1977).Google Scholar
  17. 21.
    T. Judt, Marxism and the French Left (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986), p. 198.Google Scholar
  18. 22.
    A term coined by S. Daney in Libération, 25–26 April 1987.Google Scholar
  19. 23.
    See A. Finkielkraut, La défaite de la pensée (Paris: Gallimard, 1987).Google Scholar
  20. 24.
    S. Hazareesingh, Intellectuals and the French Communist Party (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), p. 286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 26.
    M. Goldring, ‘A quoi sert un intellectuel communiste en 1986’, in A. Spire (ed.), La Culture des camarades (Paris: Autrement, 1992), p. 94. Goldring situates this observation in the context of a broader evolution in which the public is no longer interested in the clash of intellectual titans defending one system of thought against another, since systems of thought themselves have no purchase on the public imagination.Google Scholar
  22. 27.
    J. Kehayan and N. Kehayan, Rue du prolétaire rouge (Paris: Seuil, 1978);Google Scholar
  23. J. Kehayan, Le tabouret de Piotr (Paris: Seuil, 1980).Google Scholar
  24. 30.
    See D. Labbé and F. Périn, Que reste-t-il de Billancourt? Enquête sur la culture d’entreprise (Paris: Hachette, 1990).Google Scholar
  25. 31.
    See A. Bevort, ‘Les effectifs syndiqués à la CGT et la CFDT’, Communisme, 35–37 (1994); and D. Labbé, ‘Le déclin electoral de la CGT’, Communisme, 35–37 (1994). There was in fact a nuanced process of osmosis during the 1980s that saw a growth in the number of communists entering the CGT, but a declining number of CGT members present in the party, just as the presence of CGT members declined throughout the working population. See Y. Santamaria, ‘Difficult Times for the French Communist Party and the CGT’, The Journal ofCommunist Studies, 6:4 (1990), 58–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 33.
    By March 1983, 46 per cent of respondents to a SOFRES poll agreed with the proposition that the Left had done too much for immigrants, and 34 per cent disagreed. Among the Left’s own supporters, 38 per cent agreed with the proposition that government policy had been too liberal regarding immigrants. See J. Julliard, ‘L’Alerte’, in SOFRES, Opinion publique. Enquêtes et commentaires (Paris: Gallimard, 1984), p. 125.Google Scholar
  27. 34.
    For the government’s attitude to this potentially revolutionary understanding of citizenship, see P. Weil, La France et ses étrangers. L’aventure d’une politique de l’immigration 1938–1991 (Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1991), pp. 157–62.Google Scholar
  28. 35.
    One of the salient characteristics of the FN in terms of its sociological profile during the 1980s is the youth of its members and elected representatives. In C. Ysmal, Les partis politiques sous la Ve République (Paris: Montchrestien, 1989), p. 226.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Gino G. Raymond 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gino G. Raymond
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BristolEngland

Personalised recommendations