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Title: Syndicalism in France
Author: Levine, Louis
Language: English
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[Transcriber's note:

It is noted that on page 92 "From December 1, 1894, to September 12,
1892, 329 francs 75 centimes was collected;" that the dates are not
sequential. The word _sabotage_ has been consistently placed in italics.
Individual correction of printers' errors are listed at the end.]



STUDIES IN HISTORY, ECONOMICS AND PUBLIC LAW

EDITED BY THE FACULTY OF POLITICAL SCIENCE
OF COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

 Volume XLVI]      [Number 3

Whole Number 116

SYNDICALISM IN FRANCE

  BY
  LOUIS LEVINE

  WITH AN INTRODUCTION
  BY
  PROFESSOR FRANKLIN H. GIDDINGS

  SECOND REVISED EDITION
  OF
  "The Labor Movement in France"

  AMS PRESS
  NEW YORK



  COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
  STUDIES IN THE
  SOCIAL SCIENCES
  116

  COPYRIGHT 1912
  BY
  LOUIS LEVINE

The series was formerly known as _Studies in History,
Economics and Public Law_.

  Reprinted with the permission of Columbia University Press
  From the edition of 1914, New York
  First AMS EDITION published 1970
  Manufactured in the United States of America

  Library of Congress Catalog Number: 76-127443
  International Standard Book Number:
  Complete Set ... 0-404-51000-0
  Number 116 ... 0-404-51116-3

  AMS PRESS, INC.
  New York, N.Y. 10003



The term syndicalism sounds strange to an English reader. Its equivalent
in English would be Unionism. A syndicat is a union of workingmen, on a
trade or on an industrial basis, for the defense of economic interests.

Revolutionary Syndicalism, however, has a broader connotation than the
etymology of the term would suggest. A critical analysis of existing
institutions, a socialist ideal, and a peculiar conception of
revolutionary methods to be used for the realization of the ideal--are
all contained in it. Revolutionary Syndicalism appears, therefore, as a
phase of the general movement towards a reorganization of society on
socialist principles.[1]

[1] The term "socialist" is here used in a wide sense to include all
varieties, even communistic anarchism.

Revolutionary Syndicalism cannot be treated, however, exclusively as a
phase of the evolution of Socialism. As the term suggests, it is also a
development of the French Labor Movement. The organization which
represents Revolutionary Syndicalism in France is the General
Confederation of Labor (_La Confédération Générale du Travail_,
generally referred to as the C. G. T.)--the central organization of the
labor unions or syndicats in France. The history of Revolutionary
Syndicalism coincides almost entirely with the history of the General
Confederation, and it may be said that its future is entirely bound up
with the destinies of this organization.

In fact, Revolutionary Syndicalism is an attempt to fuse revolutionary
socialism and trade unionism into one coherent movement. Peculiar
conditions of French social history have thrown the socialists and
anarchists into the syndicats and have secured their leadership there.
In this respect, Revolutionary Syndicalism is a unique and interesting
chapter in the history of both Socialism and Trades unionism and of
their mutual relations.

Revolutionary Syndicalism has attracted much attention outside of
France. Its more or less rapid development, the turmoil into which it
has thrown France several times, the extreme ideas which it expresses,
the violent methods it advocates, and its attempts of proselytism
outside of France have awakened an interest in it. A number of studies
on the movement have appeared in German, Italian, Russian and other
European periodicals and books. In English, however, the subject has not
received the consideration it would seem to deserve from the theoretical
as well as from the practical point of view.

Revolutionary Syndicalism is an aggressive movement. Its aim is to do
away with existing institutions and to reconstruct society along new
lines. It must, therefore, necessarily call forth a definite attitude on
the part of those who become acquainted with it. Those who speak about
it are either its friends or its enemies, and even those who want to be
impartial towards it are generally unable to resist the flood of
sentiment which such a movement sets loose in them.

Impartiality, however, has been the main effort of the writer of this
study. It has appeared to him more important to describe the facts as
they are and to understand the conditions back of the facts, than to
pass sentence whether of approval or of condemnation. He has made the
effort, therefore, to suppress his personality entirely in all that part
of his work which is purely descriptive. The method adopted has been to
describe ideas and facts sympathetically--whether syndicalist or
anti-syndicalist, whether promoting or hindering the development of
Revolutionary Syndicalism.

The idea that has guided the writer is as follows: Let us imagine that
social phenomena could be registered automatically. All social facts
would then be recorded with all the sympathies and antipathies with
which they are mixed in real life, because the latter are part of the
facts. When social descriptions go wrong it is not because they are
tinged with feeling, but because they are colored by those feelings
which they arouse in the writer and not by those which accompany them in
reality. The main task of the writer, therefore, is to try to enter into
the feelings which go along with the facts which he is describing.

This means that the writer must alternately feel and think as a
different person. However difficult this may be, it is still possible by
an effort of imagination prompted by a desire to get at the truth.

This method seems more correct than an attempt to remain entirely
indifferent and not to be swayed by any feeling. Indifference does not
secure impartiality; it results mostly in colorlessness. For instance,
were the writer to remain indifferent or critical while describing the
syndicalist ideas, the latter could not be outlined with all the force
and color with which they appear in the exposition of their
representatives. This would not produce an impartial description,
therefore, but a weak and consequently untrue one. On the contrary, by
trying to feel and to think as a revolutionary syndicalist, while
describing the syndicalist ideas, it is possible to come nearer to
reality. The same method is used in the description of anti-syndicalist
ideas and efforts.

The result seems to the writer to be the creation of the necessary
illusion and the reproduction of the atmosphere in which the movement
developed. A critical and personal attitude has been taken only when the
writer wished to express his own views. Whether the writer has been more
successful than others in this attempt, is for the reader to decide.

From the point of view taken in this essay, Revolutionary Syndicalism
has to be described both as a theory and as a practice. The effort is
made throughout, however, to consider the theory in close relation to
the practice.

The first chapter is introductory and serves merely to give the
necessary historical perspective. This explains its brevity.

Revolutionary Syndicalism is undoubtedly a peculiar product of French
life and history. Still many of its ideas have a general character and
may be of interest to men and women of other countries. After all, the
problems that confront the whole civilized world to-day are the same,
and the conditions in which their solution has to be tried are
everywhere alike in many respects. It has been the writer's sincere hope
throughout this work that the history of syndicalism may stimulate the
readers of this essay to reflection and criticism that may be of help to
them in their efforts to advance the cause of social progress in their
own country.

The author wishes to make grateful acknowledgments to Professor Vladimir
G. Simkhovitch, Professor Henry Rogers Seager and other professors of
Columbia University who have in one way or another aided him in the
prosecution of his work; but especially is he indebted to Professor
Franklin H. Giddings for invaluable criticisms and suggestions which
have guided him throughout his work, and to Professor Edwin R. A.
Seligman for encouragement and advice, and help in making it possible
for the work to appear in its present form.

  NOVEMBER, 1911.             LOUIS LEVINE.



PREFACE TO SECOND EDITION


The term syndicalism no longer needs an introduction to the English
reader. Within the past two years it has been naturalized in all
English-speaking countries, and has become more or less widely known. It
has even been enriched as a result of its migration. In France it simply
expressed the comparatively innocent idea of trade unionism, while both
in England and America it has come to designate those explosive and
aggressive forms of labor unionism which the French described in the
words "revolutionary syndicalism." The English use of the term has
reacted upon the French syndicalists who have now generally dropped the
adjective "revolutionary" and speak of their movement as "le
syndicalisme" or "le syndicalisme français." In a word, as a result of
recent industrial events the world over, syndicalism has emerged as a
new movement of international scope and character. The most significant
manifestation of this new development was the first international
syndicalist congress which was held in London during the month of
September of last year and at which delegates from France, Germany,
Holland, Belgium, the United States, England and other countries were
present.

The appearance of syndicalist tendencies in other countries has thrown
some new light upon the subject. What was considered at one time the
peculiar product of France or of the "Latin spirit," appears now to
transcend the boundaries of particular countries and of kindred racial
groups. It is evidently more closely related to industrial conditions.
But its emergence in such countries as England and the United States
destroys the familiar hypothesis that syndicalism is bred only by the
small workshop. The latter may explain some peculiar aspects of French
syndicalism; it can not explain the methods of direct action and the
syndicalist spirit common to all countries.

The explanation seems to me to lie in the direction indicated in the
concluding chapter of this book. Three essential causes for the
development of French syndicalism are pointed out in it: namely,
political disillusionment, the economic weakness of the labor elements,
and the comparatively static character of French industry. Recent
industrial developments in England and the United States prove that the
same conditions explain the appearance of syndicalist tendencies
everywhere. The disappointment of the British workers in the political
possibilities of the Labor Party, the general mistrust of "politicians"
and the actual disfranchisement of large elements of the working
population in the United States are facts which are not disputed, and
the influence of which in recent industrial events is no longer denied.
The comparative weakness of sectional unionism in England and of the
unskilled elements in the American labor movement has been brought home
to the workers themselves and has determined their change of tactics.
Some French syndicalists have criticized the author of this book for
laying too much emphasis on the financial weakness of the syndicats in
France. But that is a misunderstanding on their part; the emphasis is
not on finances, but on weakness which may be the result of many
circumstances. Labor unions may have millions in the banks, and still be
weak economically on account of the technical conditions of the industry
or of the strong organization of the employers. A consciousness of
weakness in certain respects must not lead necessarily to submission or
to despair. But it generally leads to efforts in new directions and to
new methods of action. It has resulted in the amalgamation of unions in
England and in the wonderful effort to create a general spirit of
solidarity among all elements of labor the world over.

The comparatively static character of industrial life in France has no
parallel in England or the United States. This explains why in the
latter two countries the ideal aspects of syndicalism have obtained less
significance, than in France. In an atmosphere of slow industrial
growth, possibilities of immediate industrial gains do not loom up large
in the eyes of the workers and no hope of considerable permanent
improvement under given conditions is aroused; on the other hand, the
forcible acquisition of the whole industrial equipment and its
co-operative management seem comparatively easy.

In the concluding chapter of this book, the possibilities of a change in
the character of French syndicalism which were indicated in the first
edition are left unchanged. Developments are not yet ripe to warrant any
definite conclusion. Of course, some very important phenomena have taken
place. The most significant, perhaps, is the development of the iron and
steel industry in the eastern parts of France, particularly in the
Department Meurthe-et-Moselle. Something very similar to what happened
in the steel industry of the United States is happening there; large
plants are being erected, gigantic industrial combinations are being
formed, labor organizations are relentlessly fought, and foreign workers
are imported from Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria and other
countries. Under these conditions, new problems are thrust upon the
French labor movement, and it is significant that the Federation of the
metal workers has played the leading part in the recent campaign against
the "anarchistic" tendencies of the General Confederation of Labor and
has demanded a return to the platform of Amiens (1906) and to a more
definite program of labor demands. This does not mean a change in the
ideas of French syndicalism, but it certainly indicates a tendency
towards the more positive work of organization and of purely trade
conquests.

It may be many years, before the struggle of tendencies in the General
Confederation of Labor is determined either way. Meanwhile, the
significance of French Syndicalism to the world of thought and action
has become greater than it was before. France continues to present both
the ideas and activities of syndicalism in the most lucid and developed
form.

This fact, I take it, has been partly responsible for the keen interest
in the first edition of this book and for the necessity of bringing
forth a second edition.

LOUIS LEVINE.

NEW YORK CITY, MARCH, 1914.



CONTENTS

                                                                   PAGE
 PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION                                            5

 PREFACE TO SECOND EDITION                                           9

 INTRODUCTION, by Professor Franklin H. Giddings                    17

 CHAPTER I THE LABOR MOVEMENT IN FRANCE TO THE COMMUNE(1789-1871)

 Legislation of French Revolution on trade associations; law le
 Chapelier, 1791--Laws of Napoleon--Prohibition of
 strikes--Violation of these laws--Secret labor organizations in
 France: compagnonnages, societies of resistance--Revolution of
 1848 and the co-operative movement--Influence of Louis
 Blanc--Reaction during the fifties--Revival of labor movement in
 1862--Effort of French Workingmen to break legal barriers--New
 law on strikes in 1864--Toleration of labor unions by Government
 of Napoleon III--Syndicats and co-operation--Failure of
 co-operative central bank in 1868--Communistic and Revolutionary
 tendencies in "The International"--Success of "The International"
 in 1869--Franco-Prussian War and its influence on the French
 labor movement                                                     19

 CHAPTER II ORIGIN OF THE GENERAL CONFEDERATION OF LABOR (1871-1895)

 The influence of the Commune on the syndicats--Barberet and his
 rôle in the syndical movement (1872-78)--The first Labor
 Congress in France (1886)--Acceptance of the Socialist program
 by the syndicats at the congress of Marseilles (1879)--The
 Socialist groups in France: Guesdists, Broussists, Allemanists,
 Blanquists, Independents, Anarchists--Their points of agreement
 and of difference--Influence of socialist divisions on
 development of labor organizations--Attempts of syndicats to
 form a central organization--The National Federation of
 Syndicats; its failure--The Bourse du Travail--The Federation of
 Bourses du Travail--The idea of the general strike--Its
 conception--Criticism by Guesdists--Split in National Federation
 of Syndicats--Formation of General Confederation of Labor by
 advocates of general strike and opponents of Guesdists             45

 CHAPTER III THE FEDERATION OF BOURSES DU TRAVAIL

 Importance of Bourses du Travail; their rapid growth--Municipal
 and governmental subventions--Program of Bourses du
 Travail--Federation of Bourses du Travail organized in 1892--Its
 original purpose--Fernand Pelloutier Secretary of
 Federation--His rôle and influence--Conception of syndicat as
 the cell of future society--Growth of Federation of Bourses; its
 relations with the General Confederation of Labor                  73

 CHAPTER IV THE GENERAL CONFEDERATION OF LABOR FROM 1895-1902

 Reasons for dividing history of General Confederation into two
 periods--Weakness of Confederation before 1902--Congress of
 Tours in 1896--Discussion of the idea of the general
 strike--Congress of Toulouse in 1897--Discussion of _sabotage_ and
 boycott and of "Direct Action"--Congress of Rennes in
 1898--Congresses of Paris in 1900 and of Lyons in
 1901--Revolutionary character of Congress of Lyons: New
 conception of general strike; revolutionary character of
 syndicat; anti-militaristic ideas; opposition to labor
 legislation--Causes of revolutionary ideas: changes in the
 program and methods of socialist parties; Dreyfus affair;
 entrance of socialist Millerand into "bourgeois"
 government--Congress of Montpellier in 1902 and the fusion of
 the Federation of Bourses du Travail with the General
 Confederation of Labor                                             91

 CHAPTER V THE DOCTRINE OF REVOLUTIONARY SYNDICALISM

 Class struggle, its meaning and importance--Syndicat the proper
 organization for carrying on class struggle--Strength of
 syndicat by uniting workingmen without distinction of race,
 religion, political or philosophical ideas--Industrial unionism
 versus Craft unionism--Syndicats and "Direct Action"--Methods of
 "Direct Action:" strike, boycott, _sabotage_, label--The direct
 struggle against the State; exclusion of parliamentary
 methods--Criticism of democracy--Class struggle versus
 co-operation of classes--Anti-patriotism--Anti-militarism--General
 strike the means of emancipating workingmen--The ideal society of
 the syndicalists: economic federalism--The rôle of the "conscious
 minority"--Syndicats the true leaders of the working-class        123

 CHAPTER VI THE THEORISTS OF REVOLUTIONARY SYNDICALISM

 Two groups of writers on syndicalism, (_a_) workingmen (_b_)
 intellectuals--Their points of disagreement--Representative of
 intellectuals; Georges Sorel--His works--His conception of
 syndicalism as neo-Marxism--Fundamental idea of Marx; no
 Utopias--Task of socialists to teach workingmen--The importance
 of the idea of the general strike--The general strike a "social
 myth"--What is a "social myth?"--Importance of "social myths" in
 revolutionary movements--The general strike as a means of
 producing a complete rupture between working-class and
 bourgeoisie--Sorel's theory of progress; only technical progress
 continuous; succession of cultures not continuous--Necessity of
 combating democracy--Democracy--the régime of professional
 politicians who rule the people--Class struggle and
 violence; meaning of violence--General strike a great moral
 force--Syndicalist ideas founded on pessimistic basis--Pessimism
 as cause of great historical achievements--Ideas of
 Bergson--Criticism of Sorel; neo-Marxism not true to spirit of
 Marx--Lagardelle and his writings--Gustave Hervé and "La Guerre
 Sociale"--Influence of Sorel--Criticism of Prof. Sombart's
 views--Syndicalism a development independent of Sorel--Relation
 of syndicalism to other social theories                           141

 CHAPTER VII THE GENERAL CONFEDERATION OF LABOR SINCE 1902

 Constitution of General Confederation of Labor adopted in
 1902--Activity of General Confederation--Movement to suppress
 employment bureaus--Congress of Bourges in 1904--Triumph of
 revolutionary syndicalism--Movement for eight-hour day
 from 1904 to 1906--Agitation in France--Fear of "social
 revolution"--Government arrests leaders--Results of strike
 movement--Congress of Amiens in 1906--Struggle between
 revolutionaries and reformists--Adoption of resolution "the
 charter of syndicalism"--Revolutionary activity of Confederation
 after Congress of Amiens Demonstration of Villeneuve St. George
 in 1908--Collision with troops; killed and wounded; arrest of
 syndicalist leaders--Congress of Marseilles in 1908--Congress of
 Toulouse in 1910--Congress of Havre in 1912--Growth of General
 Confederation of Labor--The demonstrations of the General
 Confederation against war--The "crisis" of revolutionary
 syndicalism--Relations of General Confederation with
 International Secretariat of Labor                                162

 CHAPTER VIII CHARACTER AND CONDITIONS OF REVOLUTIONARY
 SYNDICALISM

 Revolutionary syndicalism as a result of a coalition
 in the Confederation--The parties to this _bloc_:
 anarchists, revolutionary socialists, syndicalists--Formation
 and strength of the _bloc_--The socialist ideal of a free
 workshop--Historical traditions and the revolutionary spirit in
 French workingmen--Causes of the distrust of "politicians" and of
 parliamentary methods--The antagonism between workingman and
 intellectual--Revolutionary syndicalists not a minority in
 General Confederation--Conditions of syndicalism: poverty of
 French syndicats; psychology of French workingmen--Syndicats
 loosely held together--Weakness as cause of violent
 methods--French love of theory and of formulas--Similar actions
 of revolutionists and reformists in Confederation according to
 circumstances--Conditions necessary for realization of program
 of revolutionary syndicalism--Outlook for the future              199

 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                                      223



INTRODUCTION


The democratic social movement has overleaped its platform and escaped
out of the hands of its instigators. It is larger than any school of
ideas and will not be bound by any program. It can be analyzed in part,
and in general terms described, but it can no longer be defined.

Socialism as one phase of this unmanaged and unmanageable tide, has
itself been profoundly affected by the magnitude, the complexity, and
the waywardness of the mass motion. It now has its "Right" and its
"Left." There is a conservative, and there is a radical socialism. Each
proclaims the class struggle, and both demand the collective ownership
of the chief means of production. But conservative socialism lays stress
upon collective ownership, and would move toward it by peaceful,
evolutionary steps. It relies on the ballot, believes in legislation, in
law, and in government; while radical socialism proclaims "the
revolution," plans for the general strike, and preaches the expediency
of _sabotage_ and violence.

At first sight almost identical with radical socialism is Syndicalism,
which, however, proves upon examination to be both more and less than
any socialistic program. In its most characteristic expression,
syndicalism denies the state and would substitute for it a purely
voluntary collectivism. So far it is at one with anarchism, and there
are those who conceive of syndicalism as an anarchistic movement in
opposition to socialism. The trade-union organization of labor the world
over is looked upon by the syndicalist as the natural basis and agency
of his enterprise, quite as existing political organizations are
accepted by the conservative or parliamentary socialist as the best
preliminary norms from which to evolve a new social order.

In this division of the forces of social democracy into right and left
groups over the question of organization and control, we have a
significant demonstration of the inadequacy of that Marxian analysis
which resolves all social conflict into the antagonism of economic
classes. More profound than that antagonism, and in the order of time
more ancient, is the unending warfare between those who believe in law
and government for all, and those who believe in law and government for
none. The more or less paradoxical character of the socialistic movement
at the present moment is attributable to the circumstance that, for the
time being, these antagonistic forces of socialism and anarchism are
confronting a common enemy--the individualist, who believes in law and
government for everybody but himself.

To describe, explain and estimate a phenomenon so complex as modern
revolutionary syndicalism is a task from which the economist and the
historian alike might well shrink. To understand it and to enable
readers to understand it is an achievement. I think that I am not
speaking in terms of exaggeration in saying that Dr. Levine has been
more successful in this arduous undertaking than any predecessor. His
pages tell us in a clear and dispassionate way what revolutionary
syndicalism is, how it began, and how it has grown, what its informing
ideas and purposes are, and by what methods it is forcing itself upon
the serious attention of the civilized world. I think that it is a book
which no student of affairs can afford to overlook, or to read in any
other spirit than that of a sincere desire to know what account of the
most profound social disturbance of our time is offered by a competent
reporter of the facts.

FRANKLIN H. GIDDINGS.

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY.



CHAPTER I

THE LABOR MOVEMENT IN FRANCE TO THE COMMUNE (1789-1871)


The economic legislation of the French Revolution was guided by
individualistic ideas which expressed the interests of the rising middle
classes who felt a necessity of removing the obstacles in the way of
economic initiative and of personal effort. These interests and ideas
dictated the law of March 2-17, 1791, which abolished the guilds and
inaugurated the era of competition in France (_Liberté du Travail_). The
law declared that henceforth everybody was "free to do such business,
exercise such profession, art, or trade, as he may choose."[2]

[2] _Les Associations Professionelles Ouvrières_, Office du Travail
(Paris, 1899), vol. i, p. 7.

The abolition of the guilds cleared the way for the technical changes
that had just begun and the development of which was yet in the future.
These changes may be summarized as the application of science to
industry and the introduction of machinery. The process went on in
France irregularly, affecting different industries and different
localities in various degrees. The first machine (_machine à vapeur_)
was introduced in France about 1815; in 1830 there were about 600 in
operation. Some idea of the later changes may be gained from the
following table giving the number of machines in France from 1839 to
1907:

  _Year_  _No. of Machines_  _Total Horsepower_
   1839         2,450              33,000
   1851         5,672              71,000
   1861        15,805             191,000
   1871        26,146             316,000
   1881        44,010             576,000
   1891        55,967             916,000
   1901        75,866            1,907,000
   1910        82,238            2,913,013[3]

[3] _Annuaire Statistique_.

The introduction of machinery meant the absorption of a larger part of
the population in industry, the concentration of industry in a smaller
number of establishments and the absolute and relative increase in the
numbers of the working population of France.

This class of the population was regulated in its economic action for
nearly a century by another law passed June 14-17, 1791, and known by
the name of its author as the law Le Chapelier. The law Le Chapelier,
though dictated by the same general interests and ideas as the law on
the guilds, was made necessary by special circumstances.

The abolition of the guilds had as one of its effects an agitation among
the journeymen for higher wages and for better conditions of employment.
During the summer of 1791, Paris was the scene of large meetings of
journeymen, at which matters of work and wages were discussed. The
movement spread from trade to trade, but the struggle was particularly
acute in the building trades. Profiting by the law of August 21, 1790,
which gave all citizens the "right to assemble peacefully and to form
among themselves free associations subject only to the laws which all
citizens must obey,"[4] the carpenters formed _L'Union fraternelle des
ouvriers en l'art de la charpente_, an association ostensibly for
benevolent purposes only, but which in reality helped the carpenters in
their struggle with their masters. The masters repeatedly petitioned the
municipality of Paris to put an end to the "disorders," and to the
"tyranny" of the journeymen. The masters complained that a general
coalition of 80,000 workingmen had been formed in the capital and that
the agitation was spreading to the provincial towns.[5] The municipal
authorities tried to meet the situation, but their "notices" and
"decrees" had no effect. They then appealed to the Constituent Assembly
for a general law on associations and combinations. The result was the
law Le Chapelier.

[4] _Les Associations Professionelles_, vol. i, p. 8.

[5] H. Lagardelle, _L'Évolution des Syndicats Ouvriers en France_
(Paris, 1901), p. 13.

The report by which the bill was introduced brought out very clearly the
individualistic ideas by which the legislators of the Revolution were
inspired. "Citizens of certain trades," read this report, "must not be
permitted to assemble for their pretended common interests. There is no
longer any corporation (guild) in the State; there is but the particular
interest of each individual and the general interest...." And further,
"It is necessary to abide by the principle that only by free contracts,
between individual and individual, may the workday for each workingman
be fixed; it is then for the workingman to maintain the agreement which
he had made with his employer."[6]

[6] _Les Associations Professionelles_, vol. i, pp. 11-12.

The law identified the new combinations with the ancient guilds. Its
first clause declared that "whereas the abolition of all kinds of
corporations of citizens of the same estate (_état_) and of the same
trade is one of the fundamental bases of the French Constitution, it is
prohibited to re-establish them _de facto_ under any pretext or form
whatsoever". The second clause formulated the prohibition to form trade
organizations in terms which left nothing to be desired in clearness and
precision. It read: "The citizens of the same estate or trade,
entrepreneurs, those who run a shop, workingmen in any trade whatsoever,
shall not, when assembled together, nominate presidents, nor
secretaries, nor syndics, shall not keep any records, shall not
deliberate nor pass resolutions nor form any regulations with reference
to their pretended common interests." The fourth clause declared all
acts contrary to this law unconstitutional, subject to the jurisdiction
of the police tribunals, punishable by a fine of 500 _livres_ and by a
temporary suspension of active rights of citizenship. The sixth and
seventh clauses determined higher penalties in cases of menace and of
violence. The eighth clause prohibited all "gatherings composed of
artisans, of workingmen, of journeymen or of laborers, or instigated by
them and directed against the free exercise of industry and work to
which all sorts of persons have a right under all sorts of conditions
agreed upon by private contract (_de gré a gré_)". "Such gatherings are
declared riotous, are to be dispersed by force, and are to be punished
with all the severity which the law permits."[7]

[7] _Les Associations Professionelles_, vol. i, pp. 13-14.

After the law was passed by the Assembly, the author of the law, Le
Chapelier, added:

     I have heard some say that it would be necessary to make an
     exception in favor of the Chambers of Commerce in cities. Certainly
     you understand well that none of us intend to prevent the merchants
     from discussing their common interests. I therefore propose to
     insert into the proceedings the following clause: "The National
     Assembly, considering that the law which it has just passed does
     not concern the Chambers of Commerce, passes to the order of the
     day."

The proposition was adopted. "This last vote," remarks the official
historian of the _Office du Travail_, "demonstrates sufficiently that
the law was especially directed against the meetings, associations and
coalitions of workingmen."[8]

[8] _Les Associations Professionelles_, vol. i, p. 14.

The determination to prevent collective action on the part of the
workingmen also guided the legislative activity of Napoleon. In 1803,
during the Consulate, a law was passed against coalitions; the same law
contained a provision whereby all workingmen were to have a special
certificate (_livret_)[9] which subjected them to a strict surveillance
of the police. The law of 1803 against coalitions was replaced in 1810
by the clauses 414-416 of the Penal Code which prohibited and punished
all kinds of coalitions. These articles which made strikes and all
collective action a crime, and which showed clearly discrimination
against workingmen, were as follows:

[9] The obligation of the _livret_ was abolished in 1890. G. Weill,
_Histoire du Movement Social en France_ (Paris, 1904), p. 332.

     Art. 414. Any coalition among those who employ workingmen, tending
     to force down wages unjustly and abusively, followed by an attempt
     or a commencement of execution, shall be punished by imprisonment
     from six days to one month and by a fine of 200 to 3,000 francs.

     Art. 415. Any coalition on the part of the workingmen to cease work
     at the same time, to forbid work in a shop, to prevent the coming
     or leaving before or after certain hours and, in general, to
     suspend, hinder or make dear labor, if there has been an attempt or
     a beginning of execution, shall be punished by imprisonment of one
     month to three months maximum; the leaders and promoters shall be
     punished by imprisonment of two to five years, and

     Art. 416. There shall also be subject to penalty indicated in the
     preceding article and according to the same distinctions, those
     workingmen who shall have declared fines, prohibitions,
     interdictions and any other proscriptions under the name of
     condemnations and under any qualification whatsoever against the
     directors of the shops and employers, or against each other.

     In the case of this article as well as in that of the preceding,
     the leaders and promoters of the crime, after the expiration of
     their fine, may be made subject to the surveillance of the police
     for two years at least and five years at most.[10]

[10] _Les Associations Professionelles_, vol. i, pp. 18-19.

The prohibition against combination and organization was aggravated for
the workingmen by articles 291-294 of the Penal Code which forbade any
kind of associations of more than twenty persons. These articles were
made more stringent by the Law of 1834 which prohibited associations
even of twenty persons, if they were branches of a larger
association.[11]

[11] _Ibid._, pp. 19-20, and p. 26.

The workingmen, however, soon began to feel that the _Liberté du
Travail_ as interpreted by the laws of the country put them at a
disadvantage in the struggle for existence. Individually each one of
them was too weak to obtain the best bargain from his employer. This was
notoriously so in the industries in which machinery was making headway,
but the relations between employer and workingmen were aggravated by
competition even in those industries where the old conditions of trade
did not change perceptibly for some time. Competition forced the
employer to become a "calculator above everything else" and "to consider
the workingman only from the point of view of the real value which his
hands had on the market without heed to his human needs."[12] The
workingman, on the other hand, to remedy his individual helplessness
was driven to disregard the law and to enter into combinations with his
fellow-workers for concerted action.

[12] M. Du Cellier, _Histoire des Classes Laborieuses en France_ (Paris,
1860), p. 362.

The figures published by the Department of Justice give the number of
those prosecuted for violating the law on strikes--the number of
accused, of acquitted and of condemned. These figures are incomplete.
They give, however, some idea of the frequency and persistence with
which the workingmen had recourse to strikes in spite of the law. The
figures have been published since 1825. The table on the next page gives
the annual figures from that date to 1864, when a new law on strikes was
passed.

There is other information to show that the strikes often assumed the
character of a general movement, particularly under the influence of
political disturbances. During the years that followed the Revolution of
July (1830) the workingmen of France were at times in a state of
agitation throughout the entire country, formulating everywhere
particular demands, such as the regulation of industrial matters,
collective contracts and the like.[13]

[13] Octave Festy, _Le Movement Ouvrier au Début de la Monarchie de
Juillet_, _passim_.

  ------+------+-------+---------+---------+---------+---------
        |      |       |         |Condemned|Condemned|
        |      |       |         |to Prison|to Prison|
        |Number|       |         | for One |for Less |Condemned
        |  of  |       |         | Year or | than a  |to Pay a
   Year |Cases |Accused|Acquitted|  More   |  Year   |Fine Only
  ------+------+-------+---------+---------+---------+---------
   1825 |  92  |  144  |    72   |    1    |    64   |    7
   1826 |  40  |  244  |    62   |    3    |   136   |   43
   1827 |  29  |  136  |    51   |    2    |    74   |    9
   1828 |  28  |  172  |    84   |   ..    |    85   |    3
   1829 |  13  |   68  |    26   |    1    |    39   |    2
   1830 |  40  |  206  |    69   |    2    |   134   |    1
   1831 |  49  |  396  |   104   |   ..    |   279   |   13
   1832 |  51  |  249  |    85   |    1    |   140   |   23
   1833 |  90  |  522  |   218   |    7    |   270   |   27
   1834 |  55  |  415  |   155   |    7    |   227   |   26
   1835 |  32  |  238  |    84   |    1    |   141   |   12
   1836 |  55  |  332  |    87   |   ..    |   226   |   19
   1837 |  51  |  300  |    64   |    5    |   167   |   64
   1838 |  44  |  266  |    86   |    1    |   135   |   44
   1839 |  64  |  409  |   116   |    3    |   264   |   26
   1840 | 130  |  682  |   139   |   22    |   476   |   45
   1841 |  68  |  383  |    79   |   ..    |   237   |   67
   1842 |  62  |  371  |    80   |    2    |   263   |   26
   1843 |  49  |  321  |    73   |   ..    |   240   |    8
   1844 |  53  |  298  |    48   |   ..    |   201   |   49
   1845 |  48  |  297  |    92   |    3    |   778   |  124
   1846 |  53  |  298  |    47   |   ..    |   220   |   31
   1847 |  55  |  401  |    66   |    2    |   301   |   32
   1848 |  94  |  560  |   124   |    2    |   399   |   35
   1849 |  65  |  345  |    61   |    1    |   241   |   42
   1850 |  45  |  329  |    59   |   14    |   182   |   74
   1851 |  55  |  267  |    33   |    6    |   199   |   29
   1852 |  86  |  573  |   119   |    2    |   396   |   56
   1853 | 109  |  718  |   105   |    1    |   530   |   82
   1854 |  68  |  315  |    51   |   13    |   196   |   55
   1855 | 168  | 1182  |   117   |   24    |   943   |   98
   1856 |  73  |  452  |    83   |    4    |   269   |   96
   1857 |  55  |  300  |    37   |   11    |   204   |   48
   1858 |  58  |  269  |    34   |    1    |   202   |   32
   1859 |  58  |  281  |    29   |   ..    |   223   |   29
   1860 |  58  |  297  |    34   |   ..    |   230   |   33
   1861 |  63  |  402  |    78   |   ..    |   283   |   41
   1862 |  44  |  306  |    44   |    1    |   199   |   62
   1863 |  29  |  134  |    17   |   ..    |    43   |   74
  ------+------+-------+---------+---------+---------+---------

In many cases, the strikes were spontaneous outbursts of discontent
among unorganized workingmen. Frequently, however, the strikes were
either consciously called out or directed by organizations which existed
by avoiding the law in various ways.

These organizations were of three different types: the _compagnonnages_,
the friendly societies (_mutualités_) and the "societies of resistance".

The _compagnonnages_ originated under the guild-system and can be traced
back as far as the fifteenth century. Their development was probably
connected with the custom of traveling which became prevalent among the
journeymen of France about that time.[14] A journeyman (called
_compagnon_ in French) would usually spend some time in visiting the
principal cities of France (make his _tour de France_) to perfect
himself in his trade. A traveling _compagnon_ would be in need of
assistance in many cases and the _compagnonnages_ owed their development
to the necessity of meeting this want.

[14] Octave Festy, _Le Movement Ouvrier au Début de la Monarchie de
France_ (Paris, 1900), vol. i, pp. 600 _et seq._

The _compagnonnages_ consisted of bachelor journeymen only. If a member
married or established himself as master, he left the _compagnonnage_.
Besides, admission to the _compagnonnage_ was dependent on tests of
moral character and of technical skill. Thus, the _compagnonnages_
always embraced but a small part of the workingmen--the élite from the
technical point of view. To attain the required technical standard,
members had to pass some time as aspirants before they could become
_compagnons_.

The organization of the _compagnonnages_ was very simple. All the
_compagnons_ of the same trade lived together in one house, usually in
an inn, kept by the so-called _mère_ (mother) or _père_ (father) of the
trade. The _compagnons_ were generally the only boarders in the house.
If not numerous enough to occupy the entire house, they had one hall for
their exclusive occupation. Here they held their meetings, initiated new
members, and kept their records and treasury. Here, also, _compagnons_
arriving from other towns made themselves "recognized" by special signs
and symbols.

All the _compagnons_ of France were divided among three "orders" called
_devoirs_. The _devoirs_ had strange names indicating the legends with
which the origins of these organizations were connected. The _devoir_,
"Sons of Master Jack" (_Enfants de Maitre Jacques_) was founded,
according to the story, by one of the master-builders of King Solomon's
Temple. The "Sons of Solomon" (_Enfants de Solomon_) were sure that
their order was founded by King Solomon himself. The "Sons of Master
Soubise" regarded another builder of Solomon's Temple as the founder of
their _devoir_. Each _devoir_ consisted of a number of trades, and
sometimes one and the same trade was divided between two _devoirs_.

Ceremonies and rites constituted an inseparable part of the
_compagnonnages_. The initiation of a new member, the "recognition" of a
newly arrived _compagnon_, the meeting of two traveling _compagnons_ on
the road, etc., were occasions for strange and complicated ceremonies
which had to be accurately performed. These ceremonies were due in a
large measure to the secrecy in which the _compagnonnages_ developed
under the ancient régime, persecuted as they were by the royal
authorities, by the church, and by the master-craftsmen.

Within the _compagnonnages_ the feeling of corporate exclusiveness and
the idea of hierarchical distinctions were strong. Emblems of
distinction, such as ribbons, canes, etc., were worn on solemn
occasions, and the way in which they were worn, or their number, or
color, indicated the place of the _compagnonnage_ within the whole
corporate body. Many riots and bloody encounters were occasioned between
_devoir_ and _devoir_ and between different _compagnonnages_ within each
_devoir_ by disputes over "ribbons" and other emblems appropriate to
each. For instance, the joiners were friends of the carpenters and of
the stonecutters, but were enemies of the smiths whom the other two
trades accepted. The smiths rejected the harness-makers. The blacksmiths
accepted the wheelwrights on condition that the latter wear their
colors in a low buttonhole; the wheelwrights promised but did not keep
their promise; they wore their colors as high as the blacksmiths; hence
hatred and quarrels. The carpenters wore their colors in their hats; the
winnowers wanted to wear them in the same way; that was enough to make
them sworn enemies.[15] Besides, the _compagnonnages_ did not strive to
embrace all members of the same trade or all trades. On the contrary,
they were averse to initiating a new trade and it sometimes took decades
before a new trade was fully admitted into the organization.

[15] _Les Associations Professionelles_, vol. i, p. 95.

While these features harked back to the past, the economic functions of
the _compagnonnages_ anticipated and really were a primitive form of the
later syndicat. The _compagnonnages_ offered effective protection to the
_compagnons_ in hard stresses of life as well as in their difficulties
with their masters. "The 'devoir' of the compagnons" (read the statutes
of one of these societies) "is a fraternal alliance which unites us all
by the sacred ties of friendship, the foundations of which are: virtue,
frankness, honesty, love of labor, courage, assistance and
fidelity."[16] These abstract terms translated themselves in life into
concrete deeds of mutual aid and of assistance which were immensely
valuable to the traveling _compagnons_. A traveling _compagnon_, on
arriving at a city or town, would only have to make himself "recognized"
and his fellow-compagnons would take care of him. He would be given
lodging and food. Employment would be found for him. If sick or in
distress, he would receive aid. If he wished to leave the town to
continue his _tour de France_, he would be assisted and would be
accompanied some distance on the road.

[16] Maxime Leroy, _Syndicats et Services Publics_ (Paris, 1909), p.
12.

With their simple organization, the _compagnons_ were able to exert a
strong economic influence. They served as bureaus of employment. One
_compagnon_, elected _rouleur_, was charged with the duty of finding
employment for _compagnons_ and "aspirants". He kept a list of those in
need of work and placed them in the order of their inscription. Usually
the masters themselves addressed the _rouleurs_ for workingmen, when in
need of any.

This fact gave the _compagnonnages_ a control over the supply of labor.
They could withhold labor from a master who did not comply with their
demands. They could direct their members into other towns of the _Tour_
if necessary, as everywhere the _compagnons_ would find friends and
protection. They could, therefore, organize strikes and boycott a master
or workshop for long periods of time. In fact, by these methods the
_compagnonnages_ struggled for higher wages and better conditions of
employment as far back as the sixteenth century. During the Great
Revolution the _compagnonnages_ existed in twenty-seven trades and
directed the strike-movement described above. They attained the height
of their development during the first quarter of the nineteenth century
when they were the only effective workingmen's organizations exerting an
influence in the economic struggles of the time.

The _compagnonnages_ persisted in several trades during the larger part
of the nineteenth century. After 1830, however, their influence
declined. The new industrial conditions reduced the significance of the
personal skill of the workingmen, shifted the boundaries of the ancient
trades, and entirely transformed most of them. The rapid development of
the modern means of communication made the _tour de France_ in its old
form an anachronism. The spread of democratic and secular ideas brought
the medieval usages and ideas of the _compagnonnages_ into disrepute and
ridicule. Several attempts to reform the _compagnonnages_ and to bring
them into harmony with the new conditions of life were made by members
of the organization, but with no results.[17]

[17] On the _compagnonnage_ see, J. Connay, _Le Compagnonnage_, 1909; E.
Martin St. Leon, _Le Compagnonnage_, 1901; Agricol Perdiguier, _Le Livre
du Compagnonnage_, 1841.

While the _compagnonnages_ were reconstituting themselves during the
Consulate and the First Empire, another form of organization began to
develop among the workingmen. This was the friendly or benevolent
society for mutual aid especially in cases of sickness, accident or
death. Several such societies had existed before the Revolution and the
law Le Chapelier was directed also against them. "It is the business of
the nation," was the opinion of Le Chapelier, accepted by the
Constituent Assembly, "it is the business of the public officials in the
name of the nation to furnish employment to those in need of it and
assistance to the infirm".[18] Friendly societies, however, continued to
form themselves during the nineteenth century. They were formed
generally along trade lines, embracing members of the same trade. In a
general way the government did not hinder their development.

[18] _Les Assoc. Profess._, vol. i, p. 193.

Mrs. Beatrice Webb and Mr. Sidney Webb have shown that a friendly
society has often been the nucleus of a trade union in England. In
France the friendly societies for a long time played the part of trade
unions. The charge of promoting strikes and of interfering with
industrial matters was often brought against them.[19] There were 132
such trade organizations in Paris in 1823 with 11,000 members, and their
numbers increased during the following years.

[19] _Ibid._, p. 199.

The form of organization called into being by the new economic
conditions was the _société de résistance_, an organization primarily
designed for the purpose of exercising control over conditions of
employment. These societies of resistance assumed various names. They
usually had no benefit features or passed them over lightly in their
statutes. They emphasized the purpose of obtaining collective contracts,
scales of wages, and general improvements in conditions of employment.
These societies were all secret, but free from the religious and
ceremonial characteristics of the _compagnonnages_.

One of the most famous of these societies in the history of the French
working-class was the _Devoir Mutuel_, founded by the weavers of Lyons,
in 1823. This society directed the famous strikes of the weavers in 1831
and 1834. Its aim, as formulated in its statutes, was: first, to
practice the principles of equity; second, to unite the weavers' efforts
in order to obtain a reasonable wage for their labor; third, to do away
with the abuses of the factory, and to bring about other improvements in
"the moral and physical condition" of its members. The society had 3,000
members in 1833.[20]

[20] _Les Associations Professionelles_, vol. i. pp. 201-203.

In 1833 the smelters of copper in Paris formed themselves into a society
which was to help them in their resistance against employers. Two francs
a day was to be paid to every member who lost employment because he did
not consent to an unjust reduction in his wages or for any other reason
which might be regarded as having in view the support of the trade; in
other cases of unemployment, no benefit was allowed, in view of the fact
that in ordinary times the smelters were seldom idle.[21] The society
was open to all smelters, without any limitation of age; it was
administered by a council assisted by a commission of representatives
from the shops, elected by the members of the society of each shop. The
society was soon deprived, however, of its combative character by the
government.[22]

[21] _Ibid._, vol. i, p. 204.

[22] _Les Associations Professionelles_, vol. i, p. 204.

A strong society of resistance was organized by the printers of Paris in
1839. Though secret, it gained the adherence of a large part of the
trade. In 1848 it had 1,200 members--half of all the printers at that
time in Paris. It was administered by a committee. Through its
initiative a mixed commission of employers and workingmen was organized
which adopted a general scale of wages. This commission also acted as a
board of mediation and conciliation in disputes between employers and
workingmen.[23]

[23] _Ibid._, pp. 205-6.

The _compagnonnages_, _mutualités_ and resistance-societies aimed partly
or exclusively to better conditions of employment by exerting pressure
upon employers. These societies reveal the efforts that were being made
by workingmen to adjust themselves to the economic conditions of the
time. But after 1830, other ideas began to find adherents among the
French workingmen; namely, the ideas of opposition to the entire
economic régime based on private property and the idea of substituting
for this system a new industrial organization.

The history of the socialist movement of France before 1848 can not here
be entered into. It has been written and rewritten and is more or less
known. For the purposes of this study, it is only necessary to point out
that during this period, and particularly during the revolutionary
period of 1848, the idea of co-operation, as a means of abolishing the
wage system, made a deep impression upon the minds of French
workingmen.[24]

[24] On the history of French socialism: R. T. Ely, _French and German
Socialism_ (1878); Th. Kirkup, _A History of Socialism_ (1906); G.
Isambert, _Les Idées Socialistes en France_ (1905); P. Louis, _Histoire
du Socialisme Français_ (1901).

The idea of co-operation had been propagated before 1848 by the
Saint-Simonists and Fourierists, and particularly by Buchez who had
outlined a clear plan of co-operation in his paper _L'Européen_ in
1831-2. Similar ideas were advanced during the forties by a group of
workingmen who published _L'Atelier_. But only with the outbreak of the
Revolution of 1848, and under the influence of Louis Blanc, did the
co-operative idea really become popular with the workingmen. Between
1848 and 1850 the enthusiasm for co-operative societies was great, and a
considerable number of them were formed. On July 6, 1848, the
Constituent Assembly voted a loan of 3,000,000 francs for co-operative
societies, and this sum was divided among 26 societies in Paris and 36
in the provinces.[25] But the number of those founded without assistance
was much greater; about 300 in Paris and many more in the provinces. Of
these societies most perished within a short time while the rest were
dissolved by the administration of Napoleon III after the _coup-d'état_
of 1851.[26]

[25] Georges Renard, _La République de 1848_.

[26] Albert Thomas, _Le Second Empire_ (Paris, 1907).

The Revolution of 1848 was an important moment in the history of the
French working-class. Though the socialist idea of the "Organization of
Work" (_L'Organisation du Travail_) which was so prominent during the
Revolution passed into history after the days of June, it left an
impression upon the minds of French workingmen. The belief in a possible
social transformation became a tradition with them. Besides, the
Revolution gave a strong impulse to purely trade organizations such as
the _sociétés de résistance_. Before 1848 they had existed in a few
trades only. The period of the Revolution witnessed the formation of a
large number of them in various trades and strengthened the tendency
towards organization which had manifested itself before.

During the first decade of the Second Empire all workingmen's
organizations were persecuted; most of them perished; others went again
into secrecy or disguised themselves as mutual aid societies.

With the advent of the second decade of the Empire the labor movement
acquired an amplitude it had never had before. Its main characteristic
during this period was a decided effort to break the legal barriers in
its way and to come out into the open. The workingmen's chief demands
were the abolition of the law on coalitions and the right to organize.

The workingmen were given an opportunity to express their views and
sentiments on occasions of National and International Exhibitions. It
had become a custom in France to send delegations of workingmen to such
exhibitions. In 1849 the Chamber of Commerce of Lyons sent a delegation
of workingmen to the National Exhibition in Paris. In 1851 the
municipality of Paris sent some workingmen to the International
Exhibition in London. A delegation was sent again to London in 1862 and
to Paris in 1867.

The workingmen-delegates published reports in which they formulated
their views on the condition of their respective trades and expressed
their demands and aspirations. These reports have been called the
_cahiers_ of the working-class. The authors of the reports--workingmen
themselves, elected by large numbers of workingmen--were
representatives in the true sense of the term and voiced the sentiments
and ideas of a large part of the French workingmen of their time.

The reports published by the delegates of 1862 contain a persistent
demand for freedom to combine and to organize. The refrain of all the
reports is: "Isolation kills us".[27] The trade unions of England made a
deep impression on the French delegates and strengthened their
conviction of the necessity of organization. "Of 53 reports emanating
from 183 delegates of Paris, 38 by 145 delegates express the desire that
syndical chambers be organized in their trades."[27]

[27] G. Weill, _op. cit._, pp. 63-65.

The government of the Empire, which hoped to interest the workingmen in
its existence, gave way before their persistent demands. In 1864, in
consequence of a strike of Parisian printers which attracted much public
attention, the old law on coalitions was abolished and the right to
strike granted.

The right to strike, however, was bound up with certain other rights
which the French workingmen were still denied. Unless the latter had the
right to assemble and to organize, they could profit but little by the
new law on coalitions. Besides, the French workingmen were generally
averse to strikes. The reports of 1862, though demanding the freedom of
coalition, declared that it was not the intention of the workingmen to
make strikes their habitual procedure. The delegates of 1867, who formed
a commission which met in Paris for two years, discussing all the
economic problems that interested the workingmen of the time, were of
the same opinion. A special session of the Commission was devoted to the
consideration of the means by which strikes might be avoided. All agreed
that, as one of the delegates expressed it, strikes were "the misery of
the workingmen and the ruin of the employer"[28] and should be resorted
to only in cases of absolute necessity. What the delegates demanded was
the right to organize and to form "syndical chambers". They hoped that
with the help of these organizations, they would avoid strikes and
improve their economic condition.

[28] _Commission Ouvrière de 1867, Recueil des Procés-Verbaux_, vol. i,
p. 28.

In the beginning of 1868, a number of delegates to the Exhibition of
1867 were received by the Minister of Agriculture, Commerce and Public
Works to present their views and demands. The vice-president of the
Commission, M. Parent, indicated clearly what the workingmen meant by
"syndical chambers" in the following words:

     We all agree to proceed by way of conciliation, but we all have
     also recognized the necessity of guaranteeing our rights by a
     serious organization which should give the workingmen the
     possibility of entering easily and without fear into agreement with
     the employers.... It is thus in order to avoid strikes,
     guaranteeing at the same time the wages of the workingmen, that the
     delegates of 1867 solicit the authorization to establish syndicats
     in each trade in order to counter-balance the formidable
     organization of the syndical chambers of the merchants and
     manufacturers.... The workingmen's syndical chambers, composed of
     syndics elected by the votes of the workingmen of their trade,
     would have an important rôle to fulfil. Besides the competent
     experts which they could always furnish for the cases subject to
     the jurisdiction of the prud'hommes, for justices of the peace and
     for the tribunals of Commerce, they could furnish arbiters for
     those conflicts which have not for their cause an increase in
     wages. Such are: the regulations of the workshops, the use of
     health-endangering materials, the bad conditions of the machinery
     and of the factory which affect the health of the workingmen and
     often endanger their lives, the protection of the inventions made
     by workingmen, the organization of mutual and professional
     education, which cannot be entirely instituted without the help of
     the men of the workshop, etc.[29]

[29] Lagardelle, _Évolution des Syndicats_, pp. 218-9.

On the 30th of March, 1868, the Minister of Commerce and Public Works
announced that without modifying the law on coalitions, the government
would henceforth tolerate workingmen's organizations on the same grounds
on which it had heretofore tolerated the organizations of employers.
With this act began the period of toleration which lasted down to 1884,
when the workingmen's organizations were brought under the protection of
a special law.

The declaration of toleration gave free scope to the workingmen to form
their syndical chambers. Some syndicats had been openly formed before.
In 1867, the shoemakers had formed a society--the first to bear the name
of syndicat--which had openly declared that it would support members on
strike and would try to defend and to raise wages. But only after the
declaration of the government in 1868 did these societies begin to
increase in numbers.

While organizing for resistance, the workingmen during this period,
however, placed their main hopes in co-operation; the co-operative
society of production was to them the only means of solving the labor
question. As one of the delegates to the Workingmen's Commission
of 1867 put it: "Salvation is in association" (_Le salut c'est
l'association_).[30] The main function of the syndical chamber was to
promote the organization of co-operative societies.

[30] _Commission Ouvrière de 1867_, vol. i, p. 28.

The revival of enthusiasm for co-operative societies began in 1863. Men
of different political and economic views helped the movement. It found
supporters in liberal economists, like M. Say and M. Walras; it was
seconded by Proudhon and his followers, while a number of communists
took an active part in it. Profiting by the experience of 1848-50, the
workingmen now adopted a new plan. The co-operative society of
production was to be the crowning part of the work, resting upon a
foundation of several other organizations. First the members of one and
the same trade were to form a syndical chamber of their trade. The
syndical chamber was to encourage the creation of a "society of credit
and savings" which should have for its aim the collection of funds by
regular dues paid by the members. Such "societies of credit and savings"
began to develop after 1860, and they were considered very important;
not only because they provided the funds, but also and mainly because
they helped the members to become acquainted with one another and to
eliminate the inefficient. With a society of credit in existence, it was
deemed necessary to create a co-operative of consumption. The productive
co-operative society was to complete this series of organizations which,
supporting one another, were to give stability to the entire structure.

The plan was seldom carried out in full. Co-operatives of production
were formed without any such elaborate preparation as outlined above.
However, many "societies of credit and saving" were formed. In 1863
there were 200 of them in Paris; and in September, 1863, a central bank,
_La Société du Credit au Travail_ was organized. Similar central banks
were formed in Lyons, Marseilles, Lille and other large cities.

In Paris the _Credit au Travail_ became the center of the co-operative
movement between 1863 and 1868. It subsidized successively
_L'Association_ (Nov., 1864-July, 1866) and _La Co-opération_ (Sept.,
1866-Feb., 1867)--magazines devoted to the spread of co-operative ideas.
It gave advice and information for forming co-operatives. Most of the
co-operative enterprises of the period were planned and first elaborated
in the councils of this society. Finally it furnished the co-operatives
with credit. Its business done in 1866 amounted to 10½ million
francs.[31]

[31] P. Hubert-Valleroux, _La Co-opération_ (Paris, 1904), pp. 14-17.

In 1868 the co-operative movement, after several years of development,
suffered a terrible blow. On November 2nd, the _Credit au Travail_
became bankrupt; it had immobilized its capital, and had given out loans
for too long periods, while some of the other loans were not reimbursed.
The bank had to suspend payment and was closed. The disaster for the
co-operative movement was complete. The _Credit au Travail_ seemed to
incarnate the co-operative movement; "and its failure made many think
that the co-operative institution had no future".[32]

[32] P. Hubert-Valleroux, _op. cit._, p. 16.

The failure of the co-operative movement turned the efforts of the
workingmen into other channels. They now began to join the
"International Association of Workingmen" in increased numbers and to
change their ideas and methods.

The "International", as is well known, was formed in 1864 by French and
English workingmen. The French section, during the first years of its
existence, was composed mainly of the followers of Proudhon, known as
_mutuellistes_. The program of the _mutuellistes_ was a peaceful change
in social relations by which the idea of justice--conceived as
reciprocity or mutuality of services--would be realized. The means
advocated were education and the organization of mutual aid societies,
of mutual insurance companies, of syndicats, of co-operative societies
and the like. Much importance was attached to the organization of mutual
credit societies and of popular banks. It was hoped that with the help
of cheap credit the means of production would be put at the disposal of
all and that co-operative societies of production could then be
organized in large numbers. The _Mutuellistes_ emphasized the idea that
the social emancipation of the workingmen must be the work of the
workingmen themselves. They were opposed to state intervention. Their
ideal was a decentralized economic society based upon a new principle of
right--the principle of mutuality--which was "the idea of the
working-class".[33] Their spokesman and master was Proudhon who
formulated the ideas of _mutuellisme_ in his work, _De la Capacité
Politique des Classes Ouvrières_.

[33] P. J. Proudhon, _De la Capacité Politique des Classes Ouvrières_
(Paris, 1865), p. 59.

Between 1864 and 1868, the "International" met with little success in
France. The largest number of adherents obtained by it during this
period was from five to eight hundred. Persecuted by the government
after 1867, it was practically dead in France in 1868.[34] But in 1869
it reappeared with renewed strength under the leadership of men of
collectivist and communist ideas, which were partly a revival and
survival of the ideas of 1848, partly a new development in socialist
thought.

[34] A. Thomas, _Le Second Empire_, p. 332.

One current of communist ideas was represented by the Blanquists.
Blanqui, a life-long conspirator and an ardent republican who had been
the leader of the secret revolutionary societies under the Monarchy of
July, took up his revolutionary activity again during the latter part of
the Second Empire. A republican and revolutionary above everything
else, he had, however, gradually come to formulate in a more precise way
a communistic program, to be realized by his party when by a
revolutionary upheaval it would be carried into power. The Blanquists
denounced the "co-operators" and the "mutuellistes" and called upon the
workingmen to organize into secret societies ready, at a favorable
moment, to seize political power. Towards the end of the Second Empire,
the Blanquists numbered about 2,500 members in Paris, mainly among the
Republican youth.[35]

[35] A. Thomas, _op. cit._, p. 332.

The other current of communist ideas had its fountainhead in the
"International" which Caesar de-Paepe, Marx and Bakounine succeeded in
winning over to their collectivist ideas. The congresses of the
"Association" in Brussels in 1868 and in Bâle in 1869 adopted
resolutions of a collectivist character, and many members of the French
section were won over to the new ideas.[36]

[36] E. E. Fribourg, _L'Association Internationale des Travailleurs_
(Paris, 1871).

The success of the "International" in France in 1869 was the sudden
result of the strike-movement which swept the country during the last
years of the Second Empire. The members of the "International" succeeded
in obtaining financial support for some strikers. This raised the
prestige of the "Association", and a number of syndicats sent in their
collective adhesion. It is estimated that toward the end of 1869 the
"International" had a membership of about 250,000 in France.

These facts had their influence on the French leaders of the
"International". They changed their attitude toward the strike,
declaring it "the means _par excellence_ for the organization of the
revolutionary forces of labor".[37] The idea of the general strike
suggested itself to others.[38] At the Congress of Bâle in 1869, one of
the French delegates advocated the necessity of organizing syndicats for
two reasons: first, because "they are the means of resisting the
exploitation of capital in the present;" and second, because "the
grouping of different trades in the city will form the commune of the
future" ... and then ... "the government will be replaced by federated
councils of syndicats and by a committee of their respective delegates
regulating the relations of labor--this taking the place of
politics."[39]

[37] A. Thomas, _op. cit._, p. 363.

[38] _Ibid._, p. 358.

[39] James Guillaume, _L'Internationale, Documents et Souvenirs_ (Paris,
1905), vol. i, p. 205.

Under the influence of the "International" the syndicats of Paris--there
were about 70 during the years 1868-1870--founded a local federation
under the name of _Chambre Fédérale des sociétés ouvrières de Paris_.
This federation formulated its aim in the following terms:

     This agreement has for its object to put into operation the means
     recognized as just by the workingmen of all trades for the purpose
     of making them the possessors of all the instruments of production
     and to lend them money, in order that they may free themselves from
     the arbitrariness of the employer and from the exigencies of
     capital.... The federation has also the aim of assuring to all
     adhering societies on strike the moral and material support of the
     other groups by means of loans at the risk of the loaning
     societies.[40]

[40] A. Thomas, _op. cit._, p. 352.

These organizations were entirely swept away by the events of 1870-71:
the Franco-Prussian War, the Proclamation of the Republic, and
especially the Commune. After 1871 the workingmen had to begin the work
of organization all over again. But the conquests of the previous period
were not lost. The right to strike was recognized. The policy of
tolerating workingmen's organizations was continued, notwithstanding a
few acts to the contrary. But, above all, the experience of the
workingmen was preserved. The form of organization which they generally
advocated after the Commune was the syndicat. The other forms (_i. e._,
the _Compagnonnages_ and the secret _Société de résistance_) either
disappeared or developed independently along different lines, as the
friendly societies.

In other respects, the continuity of the labor movement after the
Commune with that of the preceding period was no less evident. As will
be seen in the following chapter the problems raised and the solutions
given to them by the French workingmen for some time after the Commune
were directly related to the movement of the Second Empire. The idea of
co-operation, the _mutuellisme_ of Proudhon, and the collectivism of the
"International" reappeared in the labor movement under the Third
Republic.



CHAPTER II

ORIGIN OF THE GENERAL CONFEDERATION OF LABOR (1872-1895)


The vigorous suppression of the Commune and the political events which
followed it threw the French workingmen for some time into a state of
mental depression. Though trade-union meetings were not prohibited, the
workingmen avoided the places which had been centers of syndical
activity before the Commune. Full of suspicion and fear, they preferred
to remain in isolation rather than to risk the persecution of the
government.

Under these conditions, the initiative in reconstituting the syndicats
was taken by a republican journalist, Barberet.[41] Barberet was
prompted to undertake this "honorable task" by the desire to do away
with strikes. He had observed the strike movement for some years, and
had come to the conclusion that strikes were fatal to the workingmen and
dangerous to the political institutions of the country. His observations
had convinced him that the Second Empire had fallen largely in
consequence of the strike movement during 1868-70, and he was anxious to
preserve the Republic from similar troubles. As he expressed it, strikes
were "a crime of _lèse-democratie_"[42] which it was necessary to
prevent by all means.

[41] Barberet was afterwards appointed chief of the Bureau of Trade
Unions, which was constituted as part of the Dept. of the Interior.

[42] J. Barberet, _Monographies Professionelles_ (Paris, 1886), vol. i,
p. 16.

Barberet outlined the following program for the syndicats. They were to
watch over the loyal fulfilment of contracts of apprenticeship; to
organize employment bureaus; to create boards of conciliation composed
of an equal number of delegates from employers and from workingmen for
the peaceful solution of trade disputes; to found libraries and courses
in technical education; to utilize their funds not to "foment strikes",
but to buy raw materials and instruments of labor; and finally, "to
crown these various preparatory steps" by the creation of co-operative
workshops "which alone would give groups of workingmen the normal access
to industry and to commerce" and which would in time equalize
wealth.[43]

[43] Barberet, _op. cit._, pp. 20-25.

Under Barberet's influence and with his assistance syndicats were
reconstituted in a few trades in Paris during 1872. These syndicats felt
the necessity of uniting into a larger body, and in August of the same
year they founded the _Cercle de l'Union Ouvrière_, which was to form a
counter-balance to the employers' organization _L'Union Nationale du
Commerce et de l'Industrie_. The _Cercle_ insisted on its peaceful
intentions; it declared that its aim was "to realize concord and justice
through study" and to convince public opinion "of the moderation with
which the workingmen claim their rights."[44] The _Cercle_ was
nevertheless dissolved by the government.

[44] Fernand Pelloutier, _Histoire des Bourses du Travail_ (Paris,
1902), p. 35.

The syndicats, however, were left alone. They slowly increased in
numbers and spread to new trades. There were about 135 in Paris in 1875.
Following the example of the syndicats of the Second Empire, they
organized delegations of workingmen to the Exhibitions of Vienna in
1873 and of Philadelphia in 1876. But their supreme effort was the
organization of the first French Labor Congress in Paris in 1876.

The Congress was attended by 255 delegates from Paris and 105 from the
provincial towns. The delegates represented syndicats, co-operative
societies and mutual aid societies. The program of the Congress included
eight subjects: (1) The work of women; (2) syndical chambers; (3)
councils of _prud'hommes_; (4) apprenticeship and technical education;
(5) direct representation of the working class in Parliament; (6)
co-operative associations of production, of consumption and of credit;
(7) old-age pensions; (8) agricultural associations and the relations
between agricultural and industrial workers.

The proceedings of the Congress were calm and moderate. The organizers
of the Congress were anxious not to arouse the apprehension of the
government and not to compromise the republicans with whose help the
Congress was organized. The reports and the discussions of the Congress
showed that the syndical program outlined by Barberet was accepted by
almost all the delegates. They insisted upon the necessity of solving
peaceably all industrial difficulties, expressed antipathy for the
strike and above all affirmed their belief in the emancipating efficacy
of co-operation. At the same time they repudiated socialism, which one
of the delegates proclaimed "a bourgeois Utopia".[45]

[45] _Séances du Congrès Ouvrier de France_, Session de 1876, p. 43.

The syndicats held a second congress in 1876 in Lyons. The Congress of
Lyons considered the same questions as did that of Paris, and gave them
the same solutions. In general, the character of the second congress was
like that of the first.

The third Labor Congress held in Marseilles in 1879, was a new
departure in the history of the French labor movement. It marked the end
of the influence of Barberet and of the "co-operators" and the beginning
of socialist influence. The Congress of Marseilles accepted the title of
"Socialist Labor Congress", expressed itself in favor of the collective
appropriation of the means of production and adopted a resolution to
organize a workingmen's social political party.

This change in views was brought about by a concurrence of many
circumstances. The moderate character of the syndicats between 1872-1879
had been due in large measure to the political conditions of France. The
cause of the Republic was in danger and the workingmen were cautious not
to increase its difficulties. But after the elections of 1876 and 1877
and upon the election of Grevy to the Presidency, the Republic was more
or less securely established, and the workingmen thought that they
should now be more outspoken in their economic demands. The Committee
which had organized the Congress of Paris had formulated these
sentiments in the following terms: "From the moment that the republican
form of government was secured", wrote the Committee, "it was
indispensable for the working-class, who up to that time had gone hand
in hand with the republican bourgeoisie, to affirm their own interests
and to seek the means which would permit them to transform their
economic condition."[46] It was believed that the means to accomplish
this task was co-operation. The belief in co-operation was so intense
and general at that time that one of the delegates to the Congress of
Paris, M. Finance,[47] himself an opponent of co-operation, predicted a
large co-operative movement similar to the movements of 1848-50 and
1864-67. The prediction did not come true. Nothing important was
accomplished in this field, and the hopes in co-operation receded before
the impossibility of putting the idea into practice. The critics and
opponents of co-operation did the rest to discredit the idea. But when
the idea of co-operation lost its influence over the syndicats, the
ground was cleared for socialism. The Congress of Lyons had declared
that "the syndicats must not forget that the wage-system is but a
transitory stage from serfdom to an unnamed state."[48] When the hope
that this unnamed state would be brought about by co-operation was gone,
the "unnamed" state obtained a name, for the Socialists alone held out
to the workingmen the promise of a new state which would take the place
of the wage system.

[46] _Séances du Congrès Ouvrier_, 1876 (Paris, 1877), p. 9.

[47] Afterward one of the active members of the _Office du Travail_.

[48] _Assoc. Profess._, vol. i, p. 243.

On ground thus prepared the Socialists came to sow their seed. A group
of collectivists, inspired by the ideas of the "International", had
existed in Paris since 1873.[49] But this group began to attract
attention only in 1877 when it found a leader in Jules Guesde. Jules
Guesde is a remarkable figure in the history of French Socialism and has
played a great part in shaping the movement. He had edited a paper, _Les
Droits de l'Homme_, in Montpelier in 1870-1 and had expressed his
sympathy for the Commune. This cost him a sentence of five years in
prison. He preferred exile, went to Switzerland, there came into contact
with the "International" and was influenced by Marxian ideas.

[49] Terrail-Mermeix, _La France Socialiste_ (Paris, 1886), p. 51.

On his return to France, Jules Guesde became the spokesman and
propagandist of Marxian or "scientific socialism". Fanatical, vigorous,
domineering, he soon made himself the leader of the French
collectivists. Towards the end of 1877, he founded a weekly,
_L'Égalité_, the first number of which outlined the program which the
paper intended to defend. "We believe," wrote _L'Égalité_, "with the
collectivist school to which almost all serious minds of the
working-class of both hemispheres now belong, that the natural and
scientific evolution of mankind leads it irresistibly to the collective
appropriation of the soil and of the instruments of labor." In order to
achieve this end, _L'Égalité_ declared it necessary for the proletariat
to constitute itself a distinct political party which should pursue the
aim of conquering the political power of the State.[50]

[50] _L'Égalité_, 18 Nov., 1877.

The collectivists found a few adherents among the workingmen who
actively propagated the new ideas. In 1878, several syndicats of Paris:
those of the machinists, joiners, tailors, leather dressers and others,
accepted the collectivist program.

The collectivist ideas were given wider publicity and influence by the
persecution of the government. In 1878, an international congress of
workingmen was to be held in Paris during the International Exhibition.
The Congress of Lyons (1878) had appointed a special committee to
organize this international congress. Arrangements were being made for
the congress, when the government prohibited it.

The more moderate elements of the Committee gave way before the
prohibition of the government, but Guesde and his followers accepted the
challenge of the government and continued the preparations for the
Congress. The government dispersed the Congress at its very first
session and instituted legal proceedings against Guesde and other
delegates.

The trial made a sensation and widely circulated the ideas which Guesde
defended before the tribunal. From the prison where they were
incarcerated the collectivists launched an appeal "to the proletarians,
peasant proprietors and small masters" which contained an exposition of
collectivist principles and proposed the formation of a distinct
political party. The appeal gained many adherents from various parts of
France.[51]

[51] Terrail-Mermeix, _op. cit._, p. 98.

The idea of having workingmen's representatives in Parliament had
already come up at the Congress of Paris (1876). This Congress, as
indicated above, had on its program the question of the "Representation
of the Proletariat in Parliament." The reports on this question read at
the Congress were extremely interesting. The "moderate co-operators" and
"Barberetists", as they were nicknamed by the revolutionary
collectivists, insisted in these reports upon the separation which
existed between bourgeois and workingmen, upon the inability of the
former to understand the interests and the aspirations of the latter,
and upon the consequent necessity of having workingmen's representatives
in Parliament. These reports revealed the deep-seated sentiments of the
workingmen which made it possible for the ideas of class and class
struggle to spread among them.

The Congress of Lyons (1878) had advanced the question a step further.
It had adopted a resolution that journals should be created which should
support workingmen-candidates only.

With all this ground prepared, the triumph of the Socialists at the
Congress of Marseilles (1879) was not so sudden as some have thought it
to be. The influences which had brought about this change in sentiment
were clearly outlined by the Committee on Organization, as may be seen
from the following extract:

     From the contact of workingmen-delegates from all civilized nations
     that had appointed a rendezvous at the International Exhibition, a
     clearly revolutionary idea disentangled itself.... When the
     International Congress was brutally dispersed by the government,
     one thing was proven: the working class had no longer to expect its
     salvation from anybody but itself.... The suspicions of the
     government with regard to the organizers of the Congress, the
     iniquitous proceedings which it instituted against them, have led
     to the revolutionary resolutions of the Congress which show that
     the French proletariat is self-conscious and is worthy of
     emancipation.[52]

[52] Leon Blum, _Les Congrès Ouvriers et Socialistes Français_ (Paris,
1901), pp. 33-4.

To a similar conclusion had come the Committee on Resolutions appointed
by the Congress of Lyons. In the intervals between the two Congresses,
it had a conference with the deputies of the Department of Rhone and
could report only failure. The deputies, one of whom belonged to the
Extreme Left, were against the limitation of hours of work in the name
of liberty, and against the liberty of association in the name of the
superior rights of the State. "The remedy to this state of affairs,"
concluded the Committee, "is to create in France a workingmen's party
such as exists already in several neighboring states."[53]

[53] _Ibid._, p. 36.

The Congress of Marseilles carried out the task which the collectivists
assigned to it. A resolution was adopted declaring that the co-operative
societies could by no means be considered a sufficiently powerful means
for accomplishing the emancipation of the proletariat. Another declared
the aim of the Congress to be: "The collectivity of soil and of subsoil,
of instruments of labor, of raw materials--to be given to all and to be
rendered inalienable by society to whom they must be returned."[54]
This resolution was adopted by 73 votes against 23.

[54] Leon de Seilhac, _Les Congrès Ouvriers en France_ (Paris, 1899), p.
47.

The Congress also constituted itself a distinct party under the name of
the "Federation of Socialist Workingmen of France". The party was
organized on a federalist principle. France was divided into six
regions: (1) Center or Paris; (2) East or Lyons; (3) Marseilles or
South; (4) Bordeaux or West; (5) North or Lille; (6) Algeria. Each
region was to have its regional committee and regional congress and be
autonomous in its administration. A general committee was to be
appointed by the Congress of the Federation, to be held annually in each
of the principal regional towns in turn.

After the Congress of Marseilles (1879) the leadership of the syndical
movement passed to the Socialists. This led to a split at the next
Congress held in Havre in 1880. The "moderates" and "co-operators"
separated from the revolutionary collectivists. The former grouped
themselves about _L'Union des Chambres Syndicales Ouvrières de France_.
They held two separate congresses of their own in 1881 and 1882, which
attracted little attention and were of no importance. The _Union des
Chambres Syndicales_ confined itself to obtaining a reform of the law on
syndicats.

The Collectivists themselves, however, were not long united. The
movement was soon disrupted by internal divisions and factions. At the
Congress of Marseilles (1879) the triumph of collectivism was assured by
elements which had the principles of collectivism in common, but which
differed in other points. In Havre (1880) these elements were still
united against the "moderate" elements. But after the Congress of Havre
they separated more and more into distinct and warring groups.

The first differentiation took place between the parliamentary
socialists on the one hand, and the communist-anarchists on the other.
Both divisions had a common aim; the collective appropriation of the
means of production. They did not differ much in their ideas on
distribution; there were communists among the parliamentary socialists.
What separated them most was difference in method. The anarchists
rejected the idea that the State, which in their view was and always had
been an instrument of exploitation, could ever become an instrument of
emancipation, even in the hands of a socialist government. The first act
in the Social Revolution, in their opinion, had to be the destruction of
the State. With this aim in view, the anarchists wished to have nothing
to do with parliamentary politics. They denounced parliamentary action
as a "pell-mell of compromise, of corruption, of charlatanism and of
absurdities, which does no constructive work, while it destroys
character and kills the revolutionary spirit by holding the masses under
a fatal illusion."[55] The anarchists saw only one way of bringing about
the emancipation of the working-class; namely, to carry on an active
propaganda and agitation, to organize groups, and at an opportune moment
to raise the people in revolt against the State and the propertied
classes; then destroy the State, expropriate the capitalist class and
reorganize society on communist and federalist principles. This was the
Social Revolution they preached.[56]

[55] _Pourquoi Guesde n'est-il pas anarchiste?_ p. 6.

[56] On the anarchist theory, the works of Bakounin, Kropotkin, Reclus
and J. Grave should be consulted; on anarchism in France see Dubois, _Le
Péril anarchiste_; Garin, _l'Anarchie_; also various periodicals,
particularly, _Le Révolte_ and _Les Temps Nouveaux_.

From 1883 onward the anarchist propaganda met with success in various
parts of France, particularly in Paris and in the South. There were
thousands of workingmen who professed the anarchist ideas, and the
success of the anarchists was quite disquieting to the socialists.[57]

[57] John Labusquière, _La Troisième République_ (Paris), p. 257.

The socialists, on the contrary, called upon the workingmen to
participate in the parliamentary life of the country. Political
abstention, they asserted, is neither helpful nor possible.[58] The
workingman believes in using his right to vote, and to ignore his
attitude of mind is of no avail. Besides, to bring about the
transformation of capitalist society into a collectivist society, the
political machinery of the State must be used. There is no other way of
accomplishing this task. The State will disappear after the socialist
society has been firmly established. But there is an inevitable
transitory period when the main economic reforms must be carried out and
during which the political power of the State must be in the hands of
the socialist party representing the working-class. The first act of the
Social Revolution, therefore, is to conquer the political power of the
State.[59]

[58] _L'Égalité_, 30 June, 1880.

[59] In socialist writings this transition period is always spoken of as
the "Dictatorship of the Proletariat."

Within the socialist ranks themselves further divisions soon took place.
In 1882, at the Congress of St. Etienne, the party was split into two
parts; one part followed Guesde, the other followed Paul Brousse. The
latter part took the name of _Parti ouvrier socialiste révolutionnaire
français_--it dropped the word "_révolutionnaire_" from its title in
1883--and continued to bear as sub-title, the name "Federation of
socialist workingmen of France." Guesde's party took the name of _Parti
Ouvrier Français_.

The _Parti Ouvrier Français_ claimed to represent the "revolutionary"
and "scientific" socialism of Marx. It accepted the familiar doctrines
of "orthodox" Marxism, which it popularized in France. It affirmed its
revolutionary character by denying the possibility of reforms in
capitalist society and by insisting upon the necessity of seizing the
political power of the State in a revolutionary way.

In 1886 J. Guesde wrote as follows:

     In the capitalist régime, that is, as long as the means of
     production and of existence are the exclusive property of a few who
     work less and less, all rights which the constitutions and the
     codes may grant to others, to those who concentrate within
     themselves more and more all muscular and cerebral work, will
     remain always and inevitably a dead letter. In multiplying reforms,
     one only multiplies shams (_trompe-l'oeil_).[60]

[60] Jules Guesde, _Le Socialisme au jour le jour_ (Paris, 1899), p.
268.

Inability to carry out real reforms was ascribed to both national
legislative bodies and to the municipalities. Therefore,

     if the party has entered into elections, it is not for the purpose
     of carving out seats of councillors or deputies, which it leaves to
     the hemorrhoids of bourgeois of every stamp, but because the
     electoral period brings under our educational influence that part
     of the masses which in ordinary times is most indifferent to our
     meetings.[61]

[61] Jules Guesde and Paul Lafargue, _Le Programme du Parti Ouvrier_,
4th edition (Paris, 1897), p. 32.

The municipalities conquered were to become just so many centres of
recruiting and of struggle. The _Parti Ouvrier_ was to be a "kind of
recruiting and instructing sergeant preparing the masses for the final
assault upon the State which is the citadel of capitalist society."[62]
For only a revolution would permit the productive class to seize the
political power and to use it for the economic expropriation of
capitalistic France and for the nationalization or socialization of the
productive forces. Of course no man and no party can call forth a
revolution, but when the revolution which the nineteenth century carried
within itself arose as a result of national and international
complication, the _Parti Ouvrier_ would be the party to assume the rôle
of directing it.[63]

[62] _Le Programme du Parti Ouvrier_, p. 52.

[63] _Le Programme du Parti Ouvrier_, p. 30.

The _Parti Ouvrier_ adopted a centralized form of organization. It
became in time the strongest and best organized socialist party of
France. It was particularly strong in the _Department du Nord_ and among
the textile workers. It was also known as the "Guesdist" party, after
its leader Guesde.

The _Parti Ouvrier_ denounced the members of the _Parti Ouvrier
révolutionnaire socialiste_, or "Broussists," also thus named after
their leader Brousse, as "opportunists and possibilists" because they
believed in the possibility of reforms and had said that it was
necessary "to split up our program until we make it finally
possible."[64] The nickname, _possibilists_, has remained as another
designation of the _Broussists_.

[64] L. Blum, _op. cit._, p. 75.

The _Broussists_ cared little for the theories of Marx. They were
disposed to allow larger differences of doctrine within their ranks and
more local autonomy in their organization. They ascribed much importance
to municipal politics. They conceived the conquest of political power as
a more peaceful process of a gradual infiltration into the municipal,
departmental and national legislative bodies. But like the "Guesdists,"
they were collectivists and took the class struggle as their point of
departure.

From the very outset, the _Broussists_ concentrated their efforts upon
gaining an entrance into Parliament and into the municipalities. They
had a numerous following in Paris among the working population, and
among the lower strata of the middle class.

The split between _Guesdists_ and _Broussists_ was followed by another
in the ranks of the latter. In 1887 the _Broussists_ succeeded in
electing seven of their members to the municipal council of Paris. This
led to internal difficulties. A number of party members were
discontented with the organization which they claimed was entirely
"bossed" by its leaders. They grouped themselves in their turn about J.
Allemane and became known as "Allemanists." The Allemanists accused the
Broussists of being too much absorbed in politics and of neglecting the
propaganda and organization of the party. In 1890 they separated from
the Broussists and constituted a socialist party of their own. The
Allemanists absorbed the more revolutionary elements of the party and
were the leading spirits in some of the largest and strongest syndicats.

Two more socialist groups must be mentioned in order that the reader may
have a complete view of the socialist world in which the syndicats of
France were moving during this period. These two were the Blanquists and
the Independent Socialists.

The Blanquists--known also as the _Comité Révolutionnaire Central_--were
held together by a bond of common tradition, namely, by their loyalty to
the name of Blanqui, spoken of in the preceding chapter. The leaders of
the Blanquists were men who had taken a more or less prominent part in
the Commune and who had returned to France after amnesty was granted in
1880. They considered themselves the heirs of Blanqui and the
continuators of his ideas; but under the political conditions of the
Third Republic they brushed aside the secret practices of former times
and entered into politics as a distinct party with a communist program.
Their aim was also the conquest of political power for the purpose of
realizing a communistic society and they approved of all means that
would bring about the realization of this end.

The group of Independent Socialists grew out of the "Society for Social
Economy" founded in 1885 by Malon, once a member of the "International".
The "Society for Social Economy" was organized for the purpose of
elaborating legislative projects of a general socialist character which
were published in the monthly of the Society, _La Revue Socialiste_.[65]
But the Society soon gained adherents among advanced Republicans and
Radicals and entered into politics. It advocated the gradual
nationalization of public services, laws for the protection of labor,
self-government for the communes, etc. The party became an important
factor in the political life of France. Some of the best known
socialists of France have come from its ranks, as J. Jaurès, Millerand,
Viviani and others.

[65] On the socialist groups of this period see Leon de Seilhac, _Le
Monde Socialiste_ (Paris, 1896).

Amid these socialist factions, the syndicats were a coveted bit torn to
pieces because everybody wanted the larger part of it. At their Congress
of Paris (1883) the "Broussists" adopted a resolution that "the members
of the Party will be bound to enter their syndical chamber or respective
trade group and to promote the creation of syndical chambers and of
trade groups where none exist as yet."[66] The Guesdists in their turn
had adopted a similar resolution at their Congress in Roanne in 1882,
and at their succeeding Congress, in Roubaix (1884), they adopted a
resolution to promote "as soon as possible the formation of national
federations of trades which should rescue the isolated syndicats from
their fatal weakness."[67] When the Allemanists separated from the
Broussists, they, in their turn, made it obligatory for members of their
party to belong to their respective syndicats.

[66] Seilhac, _Les Congrès Ouvriers_, p. 124.

[67] Blum, _op. cit._, p. 93.

These acts, while promoting the organization of the syndicats, impressed
upon the latter a political character. The syndicats were utilized for
electoral purposes, were made to serve the interests of the socialist
group to which they adhered, and were drawn into the whirlpool of
political dissensions and rivalry. The effect was destructive for the
syndicats. The acrimonious and personal polemics of the socialist
leaders bred ill-feeling among their workingmen followers; the invective
and abuse filling the periodical literature of the socialist groups
found an echo in the assemblies of the workingmen; the mutual hatreds
separating politically Allemanists from Guesdists, Guesdists from
anarchists, were carried over into the syndicats which were hindered
thereby in their growth or entirely driven to disintegration. The
adherence of a syndicat to any one socialist group generally repelled
the non-socialists and enraged the adherents of other socialist groups,
and often led to the organization of rival syndicats in the same trade
and locality. The literature of the French labor movement is full of
instances of the disorganizing effect which these political dissensions
exerted upon the syndicats.

Economic conditions, however, were impelling the workingmen to union.
Since the Commune, the industrial development of France had gone on
without interruption, concentrating the economic powers of the employing
classes. In the face of the economic organizations of the employers,
the scattered and isolated syndicats were of little significance, and
the necessity of a larger combination made itself felt. Besides, in
1884, a new law on syndicats was passed. This law authorized the
formation of syndicats under certain conditions of which article 4 was
obnoxious to the workingmen. This article 4 of the new law made it
obligatory for every syndicat to send in the names and addresses of its
administrators to the municipal authorities. In Paris they had to be
sent to the Prefect of the Police. The workingmen thought that this
condition would subject them to the mercy of the police and of the
employers, and they wanted to manifest their attitude to the new law.

Under these conditions a general congress of syndicats was called in
Lyons in October, 1886. Organized workingmen of various political
opinions met here and at once the sentiments and needs which brought
them together found expression in the report of the Committee on
Organization from which the following lines may be quoted:

     We are organized workingmen who have made a study of social
     problems and who have recognized that the diversity of doctrines
     contributes powerfully to divide us instead of uniting us.

     Slaves of the same master, bearing the same claims, suffering from
     the same evils, having the same aspirations, the same needs and the
     same rights, we have decided to set aside our political and other
     preferences, to march hand in hand, and to combine our forces
     against the common enemy. The problems of labor have always the
     power of uniting the workingmen.[68]

[68] _Séances du Congrès Ouvrier_, session de 1886, pp. 18-19.

The first question on the program of the Congress was the "prospect of a
Federation of all workingmen's syndicats." The discussion brought out
the fact that the delegates had different ideas on the future rôle of
the Federation. Still the majority united on the following resolution:

     Considering that in face of the powerful bourgeois organization
     made without and against the working-class, it not only behooves,
     but it is the duty of the latter to create, by all means possible,
     groupings and organizations of workingmen against those of the
     bourgeois, for defense first, and we hope for offensive action soon
     afterwards;

     Considering that every organization of workingmen which is not
     imbued with the distinction of classes, by the very fact of the
     economic and political conditions of existing society, and which
     exist only for the sake of giving assent to the will of the
     government and of the bourgeoisie, or of presenting petty
     observations of a respectful and therefore of a humiliating nature
     for the dignity of the working-class, cannot be considered as part
     of the workingmen's armies marching to the conquest of their
     rights; for these reasons,

     A National Federation is founded....[69]

[69] _Congrès National des Syndicats Ouvriers, Compte Rendu_, pp. 344-5.

The aim of the Federation was to help individual syndicats in their
struggles with employers.

"The National Federation of Syndicats," however, did not achieve its
end. It soon fell into the hands of the Guesdists who utilized the
organization for political and electoral purposes. The Congresses of the
"National Federation of Syndicats" were held in the same place and about
the same time as were those of the _Parti Ouvrier_, were composed of the
same men and passed the same resolutions. Besides, the "National
Federation of Syndicats" never succeeded in establishing connections
between the local syndicats and the central organization (the _Conseil
fédéral national_) and could, therefore, exert little economic
influence.

While the "National Federation of Syndicats" became a war-engine at the
service of the Guesdists,[70] another central organization was created
by the rivals of the Guesdists. This was the "Federation of Labor
Exchanges of France" (_Fédération des Bourses du Travail de France_).
The idea of the _Bourse du Travail_ may be traced back to the middle of
the nineteenth century and even further back to the Great
Revolution.[71] At first the idea was to erect a building where the
workingmen in need of work and the employers in need of workingmen could
meet. It was proposed that the prevailing rate of wages in each industry
be published there day by day and that the quotations of the _Bourse du
Travail_ then be inserted in the newspapers.... It was expected that the
workingmen of an entire country, even of an entire continent would be
enabled in this manner to know, day by day, the places where work might
be obtained under the most favorable conditions, and where they might
choose to go to demand it.[72] But after the law of 1884 which legalized
the syndicats, the _Bourse du Travail_ was conceived in a larger spirit,
as a center where all the syndicats of a locality could have their
headquarters, arrange meetings, give out information, serve as bureaus
of employment, organize educational courses, have their libraries and
bring the workingmen of all trades into contact with one another. The
municipalities were to promote their creation and to subsidize them.[73]

[70] Pelloutier, _op. cit._, p. 60.

[71] Charles Franck, _Les Bourses du Travail et la Confédération
Générale du Travail_ (Paris, 1910), p. 17.

[72] G. de Molinari, _Les Bourses du Travail_ (Paris, 1893), p. 257.

[73] Molinari, _op. cit._, p. 280.

The first _Bourse du Travail_ was opened in Paris in 1887. The example
of Paris was followed by other municipalities of France, and in a short
time many of the larger cities of France had their _Bourses du Travail_.
The Allemanists obtained the predominating influence in the _Bourses du
Travail_, and they conceived the idea of opposing to the "National
Federation of Syndicats"--which was an instrument in the hands of the
Guesdists--a "Federation of _Bourses du Travail_," in which they would
have the leading part.[74] The "Federation of _Bourses du Travail_" was
organized in 1892 with the following program: (1) To unify the demands
of the workingmen's syndicats and to bring about the realization of
these demands; (2) To extend and to propagate the action of the _Bourses
du Travail_, in the industrial and agricultural centers; (3) To nominate
delegates to the National Secretariat of Labor; (4) To collect
statistical data and to communicate them to the adhering Bourses, and at
the same time to generalize the gratuitous service of finding employment
for workers of both sexes and of all trades.[75]

[74] Pelloutier, _op. cit._, p. 64.

[75] Seilhac, _Les Congrès Ouvriers_, p. 230.

The "National Secretariat of Labor" mentioned was created after the
International Socialist Congress of Brussels in 1891. The Congress of
Brussels had proposed to create in all countries National Secretariats
in order to unify the labor and socialist movement of the world. In
France, the National Secretariat of Labor soon experienced the fate of
other organizations. In view of political differences, it was abandoned
by the Guesdists, Independents, and Broussists. It therefore could not
achieve the aim it had in view and lost all significance.

Into this situation there now entered another factor, which was to
determine the course of further groupings. This factor was the idea of
the general strike. The idea was not new in the history of the labor
movement and not original with France. It had been widely discussed in
England during the 30's[76] and afterwards at the Congresses of the
"International".[77] It reappeared in France in the second half of the
80's and seems to have been suggested by the wide strike movement in
America during 1886-7. Its first propagandist in France seems to have
been a French anarchist workingman, Tortelier, a member of the syndicat
of carpenters.[78]

[76] B. & S. Webb, _History of Trade Unionism_, pp. 118-122.

[77] Dr. E. Georgi, _Theorie und Praxis des Generalstreiks in der
modernen Arbeiterbewegung_ (Jena, 1908).

[78] H. Lagardelle, _La Grève Générale et le Socialisme_ (Paris, 1905),
p. 42.

The idea of the general strike was hailed enthusiastically by the French
syndicats. On the one hand it seemed to give the workingmen a new weapon
in their economic struggles. It was seen above how reluctant French
workingmen had been to use the strike during the 60's and 70's. Though
forced by economic conditions to use it, the French workingmen still
considered it a necessary evil which never fully rewarded the sacrifices
it involved. The general strike seemed to repair the defects of the
partial strike. It seemed to insure success by increasing the number of
strikers and by extending the field of disturbance. On the other hand,
the general strike suggested itself as a method of bringing about the
Social Revolution. This question was a vital one with the socialist
syndicats. It was much debated and discussed and divided deeply the
adherents of the various socialist and anarchist groups. "The conquest
of political power," the method advocated by Guesdists and others,
seemed vague and indefinitely remote; a general revolt, such as
advocated by the anarchists, seemed impossible in view of the new
armaments and of the new construction of cities which made barricades
and street fighting a thing of the past. These two methods eliminated,
the general strike seemed to present the only and proper weapon in the
hands of the workingmen for the realization of their final emancipation.

In this sense, the principle of the general strike was voted for the
first time in 1888 at the Congress of the "National Federation of
Syndicats" in Bordeaux. The idea spread rapidly. The Allemanists
declared in favor of it at their Congresses in 1891 and 1892.[79]
Fernand Pelloutier, of whom more will be said in the next chapter,
defended it successfully before a socialist congress in Tours in 1892.
The same year, Aristide Briand appeared as the eloquent champion of the
general strike before the Congress of the "National Federation of
Syndicats" in Marseilles.[80] The Blanquists admitted the general strike
as one of the possible revolutionary means. Only the Guesdists were
against the general strike and at their Congress in Lille (1890)
declared it impossible.

[79] L. Blum, _op. cit._, pp. 129, 137.

[80] _Le Congrès National des Syndicats, Compte Rendu_, pp. 45 _et seq._

The conception of the general strike that prevailed during this period
was that of a peaceful cessation of work. The strike, it was agreed, is
a right guaranteed by law. Even if a strike were to spread to many
industries and assume a general character, the workingmen would still be
exercising their rights and could not be lawfully prosecuted. The
general strike, therefore, would enable the workingmen to carry out a
Revolution by legal means and would make the revolution an easy matter.
The general strike must mean revolution because a complete cessation of
work would paralyze the life of the country and would reduce the ruling
classes to famine. Lasting a few days only, it would compel the
government to capitulate before the workingmen, and would carry the
workingmen's party into power. Thus, a "peaceful strike of folded arms"
(_grève des bras croisés_) would usher in the Social Revolution which
would bring about the transformation of society. The feeling prevailed
that the general strike could begin any moment and that it assured the
speedy realization of the socialist ideal. At first it was thought that
the general strike could be organized or decreed, but this idea was soon
given up, and the general strike came to be thought of as a spontaneous
movement which might be hastened only by propaganda and organization.

The conception of the general strike involved one more important point.
It implied the superior value of the economic method of organization and
struggle over the political. The general strike is a phenomenon of
economic life and must be based on an economic organization of the
working-class.

On this conception of the general strike the Guesdists threw themselves
with all the subtlety of their dialectics. They asserted that the
idyllic picture of the social revolution was too puerile to be taken
seriously; that before the capitalists felt the pangs of hunger, the
workingmen would already have starved.[81] They insisted that no such
peaceful general strike was possible: that either the workingmen would
lose their composure, or the government would provoke a collision. On
the other hand, they affirmed that a successful general strike
presupposes a degree of organization and solidarity among workingmen
which, if realized, would make the general strike itself unnecessary.
But, above all, they argued that the general strike could not be
successful, because in the economic field the workingmen are weaker than
the capitalists and cannot hope to win; that only in the political field
are the workingmen equal, and even superior to the employers, because
they are the greater number. The conclusion, therefore, was that "the
general strike is general nonsense" and that the only hope of the
workingmen lay in the conquest of political power. The syndicat could
only have a secondary and limited importance in the struggle for
emancipation.[82]

[81] To meet this criticism the Allemanists argued that the militant
workingmen could have "reserves" accumulated little by little which
would allow them to await for some time the results of the general
strike.

[82] G. Deville, _Principes Socialistes_ (Paris, 1896), pp. 191-201.

The attitude of the Guesdists towards the general strike brought them
into conflict with the "National Federation of Syndicats" which voted in
favor of the general strike at Marseilles in 1892. The conflict at first
was latent, but soon led to a split in the "National Federation of
Syndicats" and to a readjustment of the various elements of the
syndicats. This took place in the following way.

In 1893 the _Bourse du Travail_ of Paris was authorized by the Second
Congress of the "Federation of Bourses" to call a general trade-union
Congress in which all syndicats should take part. The Congress was to
convene the 18th of July, 1893. About ten days before this, the
government closed the _Bourse du Travail_ of Paris. The reason given was
that the syndicats adhering to the Bourse had not conformed to the law
of 1884. This act of the government provoked an agitation among the
workingmen, the Congress took on a character of protest, and a large
number of syndicats wished to be represented.

The Congress of Paris adopted the principle of the general strike by
vote, but in view of governmental persecution, the necessity of unifying
the forces of the workingmen was thought to be the most important
question. It was discussed at length, and the Congress adopted a
resolution, that all existing syndicats, within the shortest possible
time, should join the Federation of their trade or constitute such a
federation if none as yet existed; that they should form themselves into
local federations or _Bourses du Travail_ and that these Federations and
_Bourses du Travail_ should form a "National Federation," and the
Congress invited the "Federation of Bourses du Travail" and the
"National Federation of Syndicats" to merge into one organization.

The Congress of Paris also called a general Congress of syndicats for
the following year in Nantes and commissioned the _Bourse du Travail_ of
Nantes to arrange the Congress. The "Bourse" of Nantes had already
received a mandate from the "National Federation of Syndicats" to
arrange its Congress. It therefore decided to arrange both Congresses at
the same time and to make one Congress out of two. The National Council
of the "Federation of Syndicats", where the Guesdists presided,
protested, but with no result. A general Congress of syndicats was held
in Nantes in 1894.

By this time the number of syndicats in France had considerably
increased. According to the _Annuaire Statistique_, the growth of the
syndicats since 1884 was as follows:

  _Year_  _Number of syndicats_  _Membership_
   1884            68
   1885            221
   1886            280
   1887            501
   1888            725
   1889            821
   1890           1,006            139,692
   1891           1,250            205,152
   1892           1,589            288,770
   1893           1,926            402,125
   1894           2,178            403,440

Of these, 1,662 syndicats were represented at the Congress of Nantes.
This fact shows how keen was the interest felt in the idea of the
general strike which, it was known, was to be the main question at the
Congress.

The Congress of Nantes adopted a motion in favor of the general strike,
appointed a "Committee for the propaganda of the general strike" and
authorized this committee to collect 10 per cent of all subscriptions
for strikes. The Guesdist delegates after this vote left the Congress
and held a separate Congress by themselves.

The majority of the delegates remained and voted the creation of a
"National Council" which should form the central organization of all the
syndicats of France.

The "National Council" functioned unsatisfactorily. At the next general
Congress in Limoges (1895) the "National Council" was abolished and the
foundations of a new organization were laid. This new organization was
the "General Confederation of Labor".

The workingman had come to recognize that political divisions were
disastrous to the growth of the syndicats. The elimination of politics
from the syndicats was, therefore, adopted at Limoges as a condition of
admission to the "General Confederation". The first article of the
Statutes read:

     Among the various syndicats and associations of syndicats of
     workingmen and of employees of both sexes existing in France and in
     its Colonies, there is hereby created a uniform and collective
     organization with the name General Confederation of Labor.

     The elements constituting the General Confederation of Labor will
     remain independent of all political schools (_en dehors de toute
     école politique_).

The aim of the Confederation was evidently formulated to satisfy all
conceptions. Its vague wording was as follows: "The General
Confederation of Labor has the exclusive purpose of uniting the
workingmen, in the economic domain and by bonds of close solidarity, in
the struggle for their integral emancipation."[83]

[83] Seilhac, _Les Congrès Ouvriers_, p. 286.

The "General Confederation of Labor" incorporated the general strike as
part of its program.

The creation of the "General Confederation of Labor" may be considered
the first important manifestation of the revolutionary tendency in the
syndical movement of France. As Mr. Leon de Seilhac justly remarks, "the
Congress of Limoges was a victory of the syndicalist revolutionary party
over the syndicalist party of politics (_Parti syndical politicien_)."
The victory was on the side of those who hailed the general strike, who
asserted the superiority of economic action over political and who
wanted to keep the syndicats independent of the political parties. These
ideas contained the germ of revolutionary syndicalism and the
Allemanists who emphasized them before others may thus be said to have
pointed out the lines along which revolutionary syndicalism was to
develop.

The "General Confederation of Labor", however, was not founded by
Allemanists alone. Its organization was advocated by Blanquists and
non-socialist workingmen. The Blanquists had always insisted upon the
necessity of an independent economic organization and had refused to
admit syndicats into their political organizations as constituent
elements. The non-socialist workingmen, on the other hand, contributed
to the foundation of the "General Confederation" because they felt the
economic importance of a central syndical organization.

The "General Confederation of Labor" took the place of the "National
Federation of Syndicats". The Guesdists that had split off at the
Congress of Nantes continued for some time to bear the title of
"National Federation of Syndicats", but their organization was of no
importance and was soon lost in the general organization of the _Parti
Ouvrier_.

The "National Secretariat of Labor" died a quiet death (in 1896), after
having expended the little energy it had. There were, therefore, now two
central organizations: (1) The General Confederation of Labor, and (2)
The Federation of Bourses du Travail. In these the further history of
syndicalism centers.



CHAPTER III

THE FEDERATION OF BOURSES DU TRAVAIL. (1892-1902)


The _Bourses du Travail_ met an important want in the syndical life of
France. The local syndicats were generally poor and could accomplish but
little in their isolation. The _Bourse du Travail_ furnished them with a
center where they could easily come to a common understanding and plan
common action.

The first _Bourse du Travail_, as indicated above, was opened by the
Municipal Council of Paris in 1887. In 1892 there were already fourteen
Bourses in existence. Their number increased as follows:

  _Year_  _Bourses du Travail_
   1894            34
   1896            45
   1898            55
   1899            65
   1900            75
   1902            96

Outside of Paris, the initiative of creating a _Bourse du Travail_ was
generally taken by the workingmen themselves. The local syndicats would
elect a committee to work out statutes and a table of probable expenses
and income. The project of the committee would then be submitted to the
general assembly of the syndicats. The assembly would also elect an
administrative council, a secretary, treasurer and other officers. The
statutes, the list of adhering syndicats, and the names of the
administrative officers would then be presented to the municipal
authorities, and the _Bourse du Travail_, which in fact was a local
federation of unions, would be formally constituted.

In many places, local federations existed before 1887. These simply had
to assume the new title to transform themselves into _Bourses du
Travail_. The municipalities would then intervene and grant a
subvention. Up to 1902 inclusive, the municipalities of France spent
3,166,159 francs in installing _Bourses du Travail_, besides giving the
annual subventions. In 1902, the subvention received by all the _Bourses
du Travail_ of France from the municipalities amounted to 197,345
francs, and 48,550 francs besides were contributed to their budget by
the Departments.[84] The readiness of the municipal councils to
subsidize the _Bourses du Travail_ was due mostly, if not always, to
political considerations.

[84] _Annuaire Statistique_.

Though soliciting subventions from the municipalities, the syndicats
insisted on being absolutely independent in the administration of the
Bourses. The first Congress of the _Bourses du Travail_ in 1892 declared
that:

     Whereas the _Bourses du Travail_ must be absolutely independent in
     order to render the services which are expected from them;

     Whereas this institution constitutes the only reform which the
     workingmen have wrested from the ruling class;

     The Congress of _Bourses du Travail_ of 1892 declares that the
     workingmen must reject absolutely the meddling of the
     administrative and governmental authorities in the functioning of
     the Bourses,--an interference which was manifested in the
     declaration of public utility;

     Invites the workingmen to make the most energetic efforts in order
     to guarantee the entire independence of the _Bourses du Travail_,
     and to refuse the municipalities if they or the government desire
     to interfere with their functioning.[85]

[85] Seilhac, _Congrès Ouvriers_, p. 231.

The municipalities, on the contrary, wanted to have some control over
the funds they furnished. The result was more or less friction. In 1894,
the Congress of the _Bourses du Travail_ decided to demand that the
Bourses be declared institutions of public utility; this, it was
thought, would put them under the protection of the law and make
impossible any hostile act on the part of the administration. But the
next year the fourth Congress of the _Bourses du Travail_ reversed the
decision of the preceding Congress and declared for complete
independence.

As the _Bourses du Travail_ became more aggressive, the difficulties
with regard to the municipalities increased. At the fifth congress of
the _Bourses du Travail_ (1896) in Tours, a report was presented showing
the Bourses how they could exist without the subvention of the
municipalities. The question of financial independence was brought up at
later Congresses, but received no solution. The Bourses could not live
on their own resources, while they continued the activities which
brought them now and then into conflict with the municipal authorities.

The program which the _Bourses du Travail_ gradually outlined for
themselves has been classified under four heads: (1) Benevolent
Services, or as the French term it _Mutualité_; (2) _Instruction_; (3)
_Propaganda_; and (4) _Resistance_.[86]

[86] On the _Bourses du Travail_ see, F. Pelloutier, _Histoire des
Bourses du Travail_, 1902; Ch. Franck, _Les Bourses du Travail et la
Confédération Générale du Travail_, 1910; P. Delesalle, _Les Bourses du
Travail et la C. G. T._ (Paris, 1910).

The services of _Mutualité_ included finding employment for workingmen
out of work (_Placement_), assistance to workmen who go from city to
city in search of employment (_Viaticum_), aid to other unemployed
persons, sick benefit, etc. The Bourses paid particular attention to
the service of _placement_. Pelloutier, the Secretary of the Federation
of Bourses, wrote:

     The Placement is in fact the first and greatest advantage which the
     federative grouping can offer to the workingmen, and it constitutes
     a powerful instrument of recruiting. In consequence of the
     instability of employment, the use of private employment bureaus
     for whose services payment has to be made, soon becomes so onerous
     that many workingmen exasperated by the necessity of deducting from
     their future wages (which are more and more reduced) considerable
     tithes for the services of employment bureaus, prefer often--though
     losing thereby--to spend their time in search of a place which will
     secure a livelihood. Besides, it is known--and the proceedings of
     Parliament have furnished decisive proof--that the habitual
     practice of the employment bureaus is to procure the most
     precarious employments so as to multiply the number of visits which
     the workingmen will have to pay them. It is therefore easy to
     understand the readiness with which the unfortunates go to the
     _Bourse du Travail_, which offers desired employment gratuitously.
     In this manner men who would hold aloof from the syndicats out of
     ignorance or indifference, enter them under the pressure of need
     and find there instruction, the utility and importance of which
     escaped them before.[87]

[87] Pelloutier, _op. cit._, pp. 87-88.

The services of instruction comprised the founding of libraries, the
organization of technical courses, the arrangement of lectures on
general subjects (economic, literary, historical, etc.), workingmen's
journals, bureaus of information, etc.

The propaganda of the Bourses had for its general aim the intellectual
development of the workingman and the extension of the syndical
movement. The Bourses were to support the syndicats in existence,
organize new ones, promote the adherence of single syndicats to their
national federations, carry on a propaganda among the agricultural
laborers and perform other functions of a similar character.

The services of resistance consisted in lending material and moral aid
to the workingmen in their economic struggles. The Bourses regarded
themselves mainly as societies of resistance whose principal function
was to support the workingmen in struggle. The other functions were
considered subordinate to this main service.

Every Bourse carried out this program only in proportion to its means.
The Bourses differed a great deal in number of adherents, in financial
resources, in command of organizers, etc. Some consisted of a few
syndicats with a few dozen members only; others comprised tens of
syndicats with thousands of organized workingmen and with a budget
running into the thousands.

A few figures may help to form some idea of the extent of the services
rendered by the _Bourses du Travail_ during the period considered in
this chapter. The number of positions filled by the Bourses were as
follows:

           _Applications    _Offers of  _Placed at    _Placed away
  _Year_  for employment_  employment_  residence_  from residence_
   1895        38,141         17,190      15,031         5,335
   1898        83,648         45,461      47,237         38,159
   1902        99,330         60,737      44,631       30,544[88]

[88] _Annuaire Statistique_.

The service of _viaticum_ was organized differently by different
Bourses. Some paid one franc a day, others one and one-half and two
francs. In many Bourses the traveling workingmen received part only of
the _viaticum_ in money, the rest in kind (tickets to restaurants,
lodging, etc.). The reports of the Bourses presented to their Congress
at Paris in 1900, contain some information on the subject. The Bourse of
Alger spent from 600 to 700 francs a year on the service of _viaticum_.
The Bourse of Bordeaux distributed during certain months about 130
francs, during others, only 60; other Bourses spent much less. The
following table presents the amounts spent in successive years by the
Bourse of Rennes:

                                       _Assistance_
  _Year_      _Passing Workmen_    _Francs_  _Centimes_

  1894               25               37         50
  1895               22               33
  1896               47               60         50
  1897               41               81
  1898 (till Sept.)  32               64

In organizing technical courses, the _Bourses du Travail_ pursued the
aim of fighting "the dominant tendency in modern industry to make of the
child a laborer, an unconscious accessory of the machine, instead of
making him an intelligent collaborator."[89] Again in this respect the
services of the Bourses varied. In the Bourse of Etienne, 597 courses of
two hours each were attended by 426 pupils from October 1, 1899, to June
30, 1911. The Bourse of Marseilles had in 1900 courses in carpentry,
metallurgy, typography and others. The Bourse of Toulouse organized 20
courses and had its own typographical shop.

[89] Pelloutier, _op. cit._, pp. 121-2.

Nearly all Bourses organized their own libraries, some of which
consisted of several hundred volumes, while the library of the _Bourse
du Travail_ of Paris contained over 2,000 volumes. Besides, every large
Bourse had its periodical, weekly or monthly.[90]

[90] There were 23 in 1907. Franck, _op. cit._, pp. 127-8.

The _Fédération des Bourses du Travail_ was formed in 1892 to
systematize and to unify the activities of the Bourses. Though it owed
its origin to political motives, the Federation soon devoted its main
energies to the economic functions of the Bourses which it tried to
extend and to strengthen. This turn in its policy the Federation owed
chiefly to Fernand Pelloutier, who became secretary of the Federation in
1894 and who remained in this post till his death in 1901.

Fernand Pelloutier (1867-1901) came from a bourgeois family and was
educated in a Catholic school.[91] He entered political life at an early
age in a provincial town (St. Nazaire), as an advanced republican, but
soon passed into the socialist ranks. Though a member of the _Parti
Ouvrier_ (Guesdists), he defended the general strike in 1892 before a
socialist Congress in Tours. This caused his break with the _Parti
Ouvrier_. In 1893 he came to Paris and here came under the influence of
the Anarchist-Communists, whose ideas he fully accepted and professed to
his last day.

[91] On the life of Pelloutier see Maurice Pelloutier, _F. Pelloutier.
Sa Vie, son Oeuvre_ (Paris, 1911).

Pelloutier was appointed secretary of the Federation of Bourses in order
to assure the political neutrality of the organization. As indicated in
the previous chapter, the Federation owed its birth largely to the
political interests of the Allemanists. The Federation, however, soon
found itself composed of various elements--Blanquists, Guesdists,
etc.--but the economic interests which stimulated the growth of the
Bourses were strong enough to create a desire on the part of the
workingmen to avoid political dissensions and quarrels. An anarchist at
the head of the Federation seemed to guarantee the necessary neutrality.

Fernand Pelloutier realized the expectations placed in him. He was
disgusted with politics and his "dream was to oppose a strong, powerful
economic action to political action."[92] The Federation of Bourses
became his absorbing interest in life. To it he devoted most of his time
and energy. He proved himself a man of steady purpose, of methodical
procedure, and of high organizing abilities. He has been recognized as
the most able organizer of the working class that modern France has
produced. His services to the development of the syndicalist movement
have been recognized by men of various opinions and political
convictions. M. Seilhac wrote of him in 1897, "a young man, intelligent,
educated, sprung from the bourgeoisie, has just entered the Federation
as Secretary; M. F. Pelloutier has led the Federation with a talent and
a surety of judgment which his most implacable enemies must acknowledge.
Having passed through the 'Guesdist' school, M. Pelloutier violently
broke away from this intolerant and despotic party and was attracted by
pure anarchism. The Federation owes its rapid success in great measure
to him."[93]

[92] P. Delesalle, _Temps Nouveaux_, 23 Mars, 1901.

[93] Seilhac, _Congrès Ouvriers_, p. 272.

In 1892 the Federation was formed by ten Bourses out of the fourteen
then in existence. Its growth was as follows:

  _Year_  _Bourses_  _Syndicats_
   1895      34          606
   1896      46          862
   1897      40          627
   1898      51          947
   1899      54          981
   1900      57        1,061
   1902      83        1,112

The Federation was represented by a Federal Committee in Paris. Each
Bourse had the right to a delegate in the Committee, but a single
delegate could represent several Bourses. As the Federal Committee was
in Paris, the delegates were not members of the Bourses they
represented. They were chosen by the Bourses from a list sent to them
by the Secretary of the Federation and made up of men either personally
known by him or recommended to him. This gave rise to dissatisfaction,
and it was decided that the secretary should complete the list of
candidates with remarks on their political attachments, so that the
Bourses might choose representatives expressing exactly their opinions.

In this way the Federal Committee came to be composed of various
political elements. In 1899 there were 48 Bourses in the Federation; of
these three were represented in the Federal Committee by Blanquists,
eleven by Allemanists, five by Guesdists. The last named soon left the
Federation; the rest did not adhere to any party. "Within the group of
their representatives particularly," wrote Pelloutier, "must one look
for those convinced libertarians[94] whom the Bourses have maintained as
delegates regardless of the reproaches of certain socialist schools, and
who, without fuss, have done so much for some years to enhance the
individual energy and the development of the syndicats."[95] The
Committee had no executive officers, not even a chairman. The business
was done by the secretary, an assistant secretary and a treasurer. The
first received 1,200 francs a year. Each session began with the reading
of the minutes of the preceding session, and of the correspondence; then
the discussion of the questions raised by the correspondence, inscribed
on the order of the day, or raised by the delegates, occurred. A vote
took place only in cases, "extremely rare", when an irreconciliable
divergence of views sprang up. The meetings took place twice a month.

[94] The anarchists in France call themselves _libertaires_.

[95] Pelloutier, _op. cit._, p. 151.

Pelloutier wrote:

     The suppression of the chairmanship and of useless voting dates
     only from the entrance of the libertarians into the Committee, but
     experience soon convinced all members that between serious and
     disinterested men there is no necessity of a monitor because
     everyone considers it an honor to respect the freedom of discussion
     and even, (without wavering from his principles) to conduct the
     debate in a conversational tone.

The Federal Committee proceeded in a methodical way. Between 1894-1896
it devoted itself mainly to propaganda and to organization. It invited
the local syndicats and unions of syndicats to constitute themselves
into _Bourses du Travail_. To guide them Pelloutier wrote a little
pamphlet on _The method of organizing and maintaining Bourses du
Travail_. After 1895 the Federal Committee thought the multiplication of
Bourses too rapid. The Committee feared that the Bourses were
constituting themselves without sufficient syndical strength and that
they were putting themselves at the mercy of a dissolution or of an
unsuccessful strike.

     The Committee, therefore, thought it wise if not to moderate the
     organizing enthusiasm of the militant workingmen, at least to call
     their attention to the utility of extending to arrondissements,
     sometimes even to an entire department, a propaganda which was till
     then limited to a local circle. Two or three Bourses per
     Department, wrote Pelloutier, would group the workingmen more
     rapidly and at the cost of less efforts than seven or eight
     insufficiently equipped and necessarily weak.[96]

[96] F. Pelloutier, _op. cit._, p. 77.

In 1897, at the Congress of Toulouse, Pelloutier read two reports in
which he invited the _Bourses du Travail_ to extend their activities to
the agricultural population and to the sailors. These reports reveal a
thorough study of the conditions in which these two classes of the
population spend their lives, and contain indications how to attract
them to syndical activity. Pelloutier recommended the Bourses to create
commissions which should be specially devoted to agricultural problems
and which should train propagandists for the country. He also
recommended the institution of homes for sailors in the ports.

Some Bourses acted on the suggestion of Pelloutier and since then dates
the propaganda carried on by some Bourses among the wood-cutters, the
wine-growers, the agricultural laborers, the fishermen, sailors and
similar groups of the working population.

From 1898 to 1900 the Federal Committee was trying to systematize the
services of the _placement_ and of the _viaticum_. The suggestion came
from some Bourses, which particularly felt this necessity. Some Bourses
had already been placing workingmen at a distance through
correspondence. They wanted to generalize this by having the Federal
Committee publish statistics of the fluctuations of employment in the
various Bourses. On the other hand, the Bourses had difficulties with
the service of _viaticum_. The diversity of conditions in this respect
gave rise to dissatisfaction, while the Bourses were unable to control
abuses. The secretaries could not know the number of visits paid them by
workingmen, nor the amounts received by each.

At the Congress of Rennes (1898), the Federal Committee presented a plan
of a "federal viaticum", and in 1900, the _Office national de
statistique et de placement_ was organized. The "federal viaticum" was
optional for members of the federation, and though presenting certain
advantages for the Bourses, was accepted by very few of them. Organized
in 1899, it functioned unsatisfactorily.

The _Office national_ began activity in June, 1900. It was organized
with the financial aid of the government. In 1900, after the Universal
Exhibition, Paris was overcrowded with unemployed workingmen, and the
government thought it could make use of the Federation of Bourses to
disperse them over the country. Before that, in November, 1899, the
Federal Committee had addressed the government for a subsidy of 10,000
francs to organize the _Office national_. In June, 1900, the Government
granted 5,000 francs. The _Office_ began to publish a weekly statistical
bulletin containing the information on the fluctuation of employment
sent to the Federal Committee by the Bourses. The _Office_, however, did
not give the expected results. In organizing these services, the
Federation of Bourses always kept in mind the interests of the
syndicats. It directed workingmen to employers who satisfied the general
conditions imposed by the syndicats. The _viaticum_ also served to
diminish competition among workingmen in ordinary times, or during
strikes.

In all its activity the Federal Committee generally followed the same
policy. It called the attention of one Bourse to the experiments and to
the achievements of others; it made its own suggestions and
recommendations and it carried out the decisions of the Congresses. It
did not regard itself as a central organ with power to command.
Constituted on a federalist basis, the Bourses expected from the Federal
Committee merely the preliminary study of problems of a common interest,
reserving for themselves the right to reject both the problems and the
study; they considered even their Congresses merely as _foyers_ where
the instruments of discussion and of work were forged.[97]

[97] F. Pelloutier, _op. cit._, p. 154.

The activity of the Federal Committee was handicapped by insufficiency
of means. The financial state of the Federation between 1892 and 1902
may be gathered from the following table:

                      _Receipts_              _Expenses_
                 _Francs_  _Centimes_    _Francs_  _Centimes_

  1892-1893          247                     209       45
  1893-1894          573       95            378       95
  1894-1895        1,342       55            960       07
  1895-1896        2,380       05          1,979
  1896-1897        2,310       75          1,779       45
  1897-1900        6,158       75          5,521       45
  1900-1901        4,297       85          3,029       71
  1901-1902        5,541--     85          4,320       80

The Bourses paid their dues irregularly and Pelloutier complained that
with such means the Committee could not render all the services it was
capable of and that it was necessarily reduced to the rôle of a
correspondence bureau, "slow and imperfect in its working."

Whatever others may have thought of the results obtained by the
Federation of Bourses, the leaders themselves felt enthusiastic about
the things accomplished. Pelloutier wrote:

     Enumerate the results obtained by the groupings of workingmen;
     consult the program, of the courses instituted by the _Bourses du
     Travail_, a program which omits nothing which goes to make up a
     moral, complete, dignified and satisfied life; regard the authors
     who inhabit the workingmen's libraries; admire this syndical and
     co-operative organization which extends from day to day and
     embraces new categories of producers, the unification of all the
     proletarian forces into a close network of syndicats, of
     co-operative societies, of leagues of resistance; consider the
     constantly increasing intervention into the diverse manifestations
     of social life; the examination of methods of production and of
     distribution and say whether this organization, whether this
     program, this tendency towards the beautiful and the good, whether
     this aspiration toward the complete expansion of the individual do
     not justify the pride the Bourses du Travail feel.[98]

[98] F. Pelloutier, _op. cit._, pp. 170-1.

This feeling and the preoccupation with socialist ideals led Pelloutier
and other members of the Federation to think that the _Bourses du
Travail_ could not only render immediate services, but that they were
capable of "adapting themselves to a superior social order". Pelloutier
thought that the _Bourses du Travail_ were evolving from this time on
the elements of a new society, that they were gradually constituting a
veritable socialist (economic and anarchic) state within the bourgeois
state,[99] and that they would, in time, substitute communistic forms of
production and of distribution for those now in existence. The question
was brought up for discussion at the Congress of Tours (1896) and two
reports were read on the present and future rôle of the _Bourses du
Travail_. One report was written by Pelloutier, the other was prepared
by the delegates of the Bourse of Nimes, Claude Gignoux and Victorien
Briguier (Allemanists).

[99] F. Pelloutier, _op. cit._, p. 160.

The report of the Bourse of Nimes starts out from the idea that no new
plan of a future society need be fabricated; that the _Bourses du
Travail_ show themselves already capable of directing the economic
activities of society and that with further growth they will become more
and more capable of so doing. The natural development of the Bourses, it
held, leads them to investigate the number of unemployed in each trade;
the causes of industrial perturbation, the cost of maintenance of each
individual in comparison with wages received; the number of trades and
of workingmen employed in them; the amount of the produce; the totality
of products necessary for the population of their region, etc., etc.
Now, it further set forth, with all this information at hand, and with
all this economic experience, each Bourse could, in case of a social
transformation, assume the direction of the industrial life of its
region. Each trade organized in a syndicat would elect a council of
labor; the syndicats of the same trade would be federated nationally and
internationally. The Bourses, knowing the quantity of products which
must be produced, would impart this information to the councils of labor
of each trade, which employ all members of the trade in the manufacture
of necessary products. By their statistics, the Bourses would know where
there is excess or want of production in their regions, and would
determine the exchange of products between the territories which by
nature are adapted for some special production only. The report
presupposed that property would become "social and inalienable"; and the
assumption was that the workingmen would be stimulated to develop the
industrial powers of their regions and to increase the material welfare
of the country. The report concluded:

     This summary outline gives those who live in the syndical movement
     an idea of the rôle which falls and will fall to the _Bourses du
     Travail_. It would not do to hurry decisions; the methodical
     pursuit of the development of our institutions is sufficient to
     realize our aim, and to avoid many disappointments and
     retrogressions. It is for us, who have inherited the thought and
     the science of all those who have come before us, to bring it about
     that so many riches and so much welfare due to their genius should
     not serve to engender misery and injustice, but should establish
     harmony of interests on equality of rights and on the solidarity of
     all human beings.[100]

[100] F. Pelloutier, _op. cit._, p. 163.

The report of the Federal Committee, prepared by Pelloutier, contained
the same ideas but emphasized some other points. "We start out from the
principle," read this report, "that the task of the revolution is to
free mankind not only from all authority (_autorité_), but also from
every institution which has not for its essential purpose the
development of production. Consequently, we can imagine the future
society only as a voluntary and free association of producers."[101] In
this social system the syndicats and the Bourses are to play the part
assigned to them in the report of the Bourse of Nimes.

[101] F. Pelloutier, _op. cit._, pp. 163-4.

     The consequence of this new state, of this suppression of useless
     social organs, of this simplification of necessary machinery, will
     be that man will produce better, more and quicker; that he will be
     able, therefore, to devote long hours to his intellectual
     development, to accelerate in this way mechanical progress, to free
     himself more and more from painful work, and to arrange his life in
     greater conformity to his instinctive aspirations toward studious
     repose.

Pelloutier laid emphasis on the idea that this future state was being
gradually prepared and was dependent upon the intellectual and moral
development of the working-class; he conceived it as a gradual
substitution of institutions evolved by the working-class for those
institutions which characterize existing society. He believed that the
syndicalist life was the only means of stimulating the power and the
initiative of the workingmen and of developing their administrative
abilities. His report, quoted above, concluded: "And this is the future
in store for the working-class, if becoming conscious of its
intellectual faculties, and of its dignity, it will come to draw only
from within itself its notion of social duty, will detest and break
every authority foreign to it and will finally conquer security and
liberty."[102]

[102] Seilhac, _Congrès Ouvriers_, p. 317.

This conception of the syndicat has since become fundamental with
revolutionary syndicalists. Formulating it, the _Fédération des Bourses
du Travail_ really laid the foundations of what later became
revolutionary syndicalism. The "Federation of Bourses" also made the
first step in the propaganda of anti-militarism and in outlining a
policy of opposition to the State. The latter ideas, however, were at
the same time developed in the General Confederation of Labor and will
be considered in connection with the history of that body in the next
chapter.

From 1894 to 1902 the _Fédération des Bourses du Travail_ was the
strongest syndical organization in France. Pelloutier claimed 250,000
members for it, but the figure is exaggerated. There is no way, however,
of finding out the true figures.

Conscious of its comparative strength, the Federation of Bourses at
times ignored, at times dominated the General Confederation of Labor.
These two organizations were rivals. The General Confederation of Labor
had adopted at Limoges (1895) statutes according to which the
Confederation could admit not only National Federations of Syndicats,
but single syndicats and single Bourses. This was obnoxious to the
Federation of Bourses. The latter wished that the General Confederation
should be composed exclusively of two federal committees; one
representing the Federation of Bourses; the other representing the
National Federations of trade. Until this was accepted, the Federation
of Bourses, at its Congress in Tours (1896), refused to give any
financial aid to the General Confederation in view "of the little
vitality" which it displayed.

The General Confederation of Labor modified its statutes year after
year, but no harmony between the two organizations could be established
for some time. In 1897, the Federation of Bourses joined the General
Confederation, but left it again in 1898.

The friction was due partly to personal difficulties, partly to the
differences of spirit which prevailed in the central committees of the
two organizations. After 1900, however, the two organizations, though
distinct, co-operated, and the question of unifying the two
organizations was more and more emphasized. In 1902, at the Congress of
Montpellier, this unity was realized; the Federation of Bourses entered
the General Confederation of Labor, and ceased to have a separate
existence.



CHAPTER IV

THE GENERAL CONFEDERATION OF LABOR FROM 1895 TO 1902


The General Confederation of Labor has continued its existence under the
same name since its foundation in 1895. Still the period from 1895 to
1902 may be considered separately for two reasons: first, during this
period the organization of the Confederation under which it now
functions was evolved;[103] and secondly, during this period the
tendency known as revolutionary syndicalism became definite and
complete. This period may be considered therefore as the formative
period both from the point of view of organization and from the point of
view of doctrine.

[103] The changes in the form of organization which have been made since
1902 are in harmony with the fundamental ideas of the constitution
adopted in 1902.

The gradual elaboration of organization and of doctrine may best be
considered from year to year. The 700 syndicats which formed the General
Confederation at Limoges in 1895 aimed to "establish among themselves
daily relations which would permit them to formulate in common the
demands studied individually; they wanted also and particularly to put
an end to the disorganization which penetrated their ranks under cover
of the political spirit."[104]

[104] _XI Congrès National Corporatif_ (Paris, 1900), p. 35.

The Congress held the following year at Tours (1896) showed that the
aim was not attained. Only 32 organizations had paid the initiation fee
(two francs) as requested by the statutes adopted at Limoges. Of the 32
only four, the _Fédération des Travailleurs du Livre_,[105] the Syndicat
of Railway Men, the Circle of Machinists, and the Federation of
Porcelain Workers, paid their dues regularly; the rest paid irregularly
or did not pay at all. The entire income for the year amounted to 740
francs.[106]

[105] Typographical Union.

[106] Seilhac, p. 328.

The National Council of the Confederation did not function because the
number of delegates elected by the adhering organizations was
insufficient to constitute the committees among which the work was to be
divided. The few delegates that did attend the meetings quarreled for
political and other reasons. The Federation of Bourses showed itself
hostile, because the statutes adopted at Limoges admitted Bourses,
single syndicats, local and regional federations.

The "Committee for the propaganda of the General Strike" could also
report but little progress. The Committee had been authorized by the
Congress of Nantes (1894) to collect 10 per cent of all subscriptions
for strikes. The Committee, however, reported to the Congress of Tours,
that the syndicats and Bourses did not live up to the decision. From
December 1, 1894, to September 12, 1892, 329 francs 75 centimes was
collected; for 1895-96, 401 francs 95 centimes. With such limited means
but little headway could be made.[107]

[107] Seilhac, _Congrès Ouvriers_, p. 325; Ch. Franck, _op. cit._, p.
323.

The Congress of Tours tried to remedy the situation by making several
changes in the statutes. Single Bourses were not to be admitted. This
was a concession to the Federation of Bourses, which was invited to
join the Confederation; single syndicats were to be admitted only if
there were no national federations in their trades. Each National
Federation of trade or of industry could send three delegates to the
National Council; syndicats and local federations, only one. Each
delegate to the National Council could represent two organizations only,
while formerly he could represent five. The National Council was to
nominate an executive committee consisting of a secretary, assistant
secretary, treasurer, assistant treasurer, and archivist. The work of
the Confederation was to be divided among seven committees. Dues were to
be paid on a graduated scale according to membership.

Besides modifying the statutes, the Congress of Tours discussed several
other questions; eight-hour day, weekly rest, the general strike and the
establishment of a trade organ.

The idea of the general strike, defended by Allemanists and anarchists,
was indorsed by the Congress with a greater majority than at previous
Congresses. By this time, however, several modifications had taken place
in the conception of the general strike. These were emphasized by M.
Guérard who defended the idea before the Congress. Said M. Guérard:

     The conquest of political power is a chimera; there are at present
     only three or four true socialists in the Chamber of Deputies out
     of 585. Of 36,000 communes, only 150 have as yet been conquered.

     The partial strikes fail because the workingmen become demoralized
     and succumb under the intimidation of the employers protected by
     the government. The general strike will last a short while and its
     repression will be impossible; as to intimidation, it is still less
     to be feared. The necessity of defending the factories, workshops,
     manufactures, stores, etc., will scatter and disperse the army....

     And then, in the fear that the strikes may damage the railways, the
     signals, the works of art, the government will be obliged to
     protect the 39,000 kilometers of railroad lines by drawing up the
     troops all along them. The 300,000 men of the active army, charged
     with the surveillance of 39 million meters, will be isolated from
     one another by 130 meters, and this can be done only on the
     condition of abandoning the protection of the depots, of the
     stations, of the factories, etc. ... and of abandoning the employers
     to themselves, thus leaving the field free in the large cities to
     the revolted workingmen.

     The principal force of the general strike consists in its power of
     imposing itself. A strike in one trade, in one branch of industry,
     must involve other branches.

     The general strike can not be decreed in advance; it will burst
     forth suddenly: a strike of the railway men, for instance, if
     declared, will be the signal of the general strike. It will be the
     duty of militant workingmen, when this signal is given, to make
     their comrades in the syndicats leave their work. Those who
     continue to work on that day will be compelled, or forced, to
     quit.[108]

[108] Seilhac, _Congrès Ouvriers_, pp. 331-2.

And M. Guérard, applauded by the audience, concluded: "The general
strike will be the Revolution, peaceful or not."

However, as a concession to the opponents of the general strike, the
Congress of Tours decided that the "Committee for the propaganda of the
general strike" should be independent of the Confederation. It was also
from now on to collect only five per cent of all strike-subscriptions.

The Congress of Tours also admonished the syndicats to abandon their
political preoccupations which were held to be the cause of
disorganization.

These changes helped but little. During 1896-97 the Confederation
counted 11 federations, 1 federated union, 1 trade union, the Union of
Syndicats of Paris, and three national syndicats. The Federation of
Bourses declined either to join or to help the Confederation. The number
of delegates to the National Council was again insufficient to
constitute the committees. The income for the year, including the
balance from the previous year, amounted to 1,558 francs.[109]

[109] Ch. Franck, _op. cit._, pp. 226-7.

The Congress of Toulouse, therefore, decided to make new changes.
Accepting the suggestion of the Federation of Bourses whose adherence
was desired, the Confederation was to consist now of (1) the Federation
of Bourses du Travail, (2) of National federations of trade and of
industry, and (3) of local syndicats or of local federations of trades
which were not yet organized nationally or whose national federations
refused to join the Confederation. The Confederation was to be
represented by the Federal Committee of the Federation of Bourses and by
the National Council of the Federations of trade.

The Congress of Toulouse again declared that "the general strike was
synonymous with Revolution," and decided that sub-committees for the
propaganda of the general strike should be established in the _Bourses
du Travail_ to keep in touch with the General Committee in Paris. It
discussed several other questions: trade-journal, suppression of
prison-work, eight-hour day, and among these, for the first time, the
questions of the boycott and of _sabotage_.

The report on boycott and _sabotage_[110] was prepared by two
anarchists, Pouget and Delesalle. The report explained the origin of
the boycott and of _sabotage_, and gave instances of their application
in different countries. It referred in particular to the _Go Canny_
practice of the English workingmen whose principle the report merely
wanted to generalize and to formulate.

[110] _Sabotage_ means the obstruction in all possible ways of the
regular process of production; _cf._ ch. v.

     Up to the present time [read the report] the workingmen have
     declared themselves revolutionary; but most of the time they have
     remained on theoretical ground: they have labored to extend the
     ideas of emancipation, they have tried to sketch a plan of a future
     society from which human exploitation should be eliminated.

     But why, beside this educational work, the necessity of which is
     incontestable, has nothing been tried in order to resist the
     encroachments of capitalists and to render the exigencies of
     employers less painful to the workingmen?

To this end the report recommended the use of the boycott and of
_sabotage_, which should take place by the side of the strike as the
workingmen's means of defense and offense. The report shows how these
methods could be used in particular cases. _Sabotage_ particularly,
sometimes applied to the quantity, sometimes to the quality, should
bring home to the employer that the workingmen are determined to render
"poor work for poor pay".

The report concluded:

     The boycott and its indispensable complement, _sabotage_, furnishes
     us with an effective means of resistance which--while awaiting the
     day when the workingmen will be sufficiently strong to emancipate
     themselves completely--will permit us to stand our ground against
     the exploitation of which we are the victims.

     It is necessary that the capitalists should know it: the workingman
     will respect the machine only on that day when it shall have become
     for him a friend which shortens labor, instead of being, as it now
     is, the enemy, the robber of bread, the killer of workingmen.[111]

[111] E. Pouget, _Le Sabotage_ (Paris, 1910), pp. 15-16.

The Congress adopted unanimously and with great enthusiasm a motion
inviting the workingmen to apply the boycott and _sabotage_ when strikes
would not yield results.

During 1897-98 the Federation of Bourses and the Confederation were to
work together, but no harmony was possible. The report presented to the
Congress of Rennes (1898) is full of complaints and of accusations on
both sides. Personal difficulties between the two secretaries, M.
Pelloutier and M. Lagailse, who was an "Allemanist," sprang up; besides,
the National Council and the Federal Committee were animated by a
different spirit. The Federal Committee evidently tried to dominate the
National Council. The latter was weak. It counted only 18 organizations,
and no new members were gained during 1897-98. The National Council did
not function regularly; the explanation given was that as no
functionaries were paid, they had but little time to devote to the
business of the Confederation. The dues paid during 1897-8 amounted to
793 francs; the whole income was 1,702 francs. The treasurer thought
that this showed that the "General Confederation of Labor was in a
flourishing condition."

The "Committee for the propaganda of the General Strike" admitted on the
contrary that it had accomplished little. Only twenty Bourses formed
sub-committees. The five per cent of strike subscriptions was not paid
by the syndicats. Only 835 francs came in from this source; together
with the income from other sources, the receipts of the Committee
totaled 1,086 francs; of this it spent 822 francs.

During 1898 the Syndicat of Railroad Workers had a conflict with the
railroad companies and a railroad strike was imminent. The Secretary of
the General Confederation of Labor sent out a circular to all syndical
organizations of France calling their attention to the "formidable
consequences for capitalism" which such a strike could have, if joined
by all trades. The circular formulated eight demands, such as old-age
pensions; eight-hour day, etc., which "could be realized in a few days
if the working-class, conscious of its force, and of its rights, was
willing to act energetically."[112]

[112] _X Congrès National Corporatif_ (IV de la C. G. T.), Rennes, 1898,
p. 77.

The "Committee for the propaganda of the general strike" also took up
the question. It sent out a question to all syndicats for a referendum
vote. The question was: "Are you for an immediate general strike in case
the railroad workingmen should declare a strike?" The report of the
Committee to the Congress of Rennes complained that the syndicats voted
for the general strike at conventions but changed their opinions or
their disposition "when the hour for action came."[113] "It was
disastrous to make such a discovery," read the report,

     when it was expected that by the strike of our comrades of the
     railroads, many other trades would be compelled by the force of
     events to quit work, and that this would have been the
     starting-point of the general strike, and possibly of that economic
     revolution which alone can solve the great problems which confront
     the entire world.[114]

[113] _X Congrès National Corporatif_ (Rennes, 1898), p. 334.

[114] _Ibid._, p. 334.

The Syndicat of the Railroad Workingmen voted for a strike. But the
government intercepted the strike order of the National Committee of the
Syndicat, and the strike did not take place.

The Congress of Rennes made new changes in the statutes of the
Confederation. The Federation of Bourses was to leave the Confederation.
The latter was to be composed only of national federations of trade and
of national syndicats and to be represented by the National Council. The
"Committee of the general strike" was to be part of the Confederation,
but was to be autonomous and was to live on its own resources.

The Congress discussed a number of questions: Alcoholism, suppression of
employment bureaus, election of inspectors of industry, etc. Most
reports on the various questions adopted by the Congress assert that the
workingmen must solicit the co-operation of their representatives in the
legislative bodies of the country in order to obtain any reforms. But
one report was presented which emphasized the opposite idea of "direct
action".

This report was presented by the "Committee on the Label, the Boycott,
and _Sabotage_." The reporter on the boycott and _sabotage_--M.
Pouget--noted the little progress that had been accomplished in the
application of these two methods since 1897, but again affirmed their
validity and recommended them to the workingman; the report affirmed
that the menace, only, of _sabotage_ is often sufficient to produce
results. "The Congress," said the report,

     cannot enter into the details of these tactics; such things depend
     upon the initiative and the temperament of each and are subordinate
     to the diversity of industries. We can only lay down the theory and
     express the wish that the boycott and the _sabotage_ should enter
     into the arsenal of weapons which the workingmen use in their
     struggle against capitalists on the same plane as the strike, and
     that, more and more, the direction of the social movement should be
     towards the direct action of individuals and towards a greater
     consciousness of their personal powers.[115]

[115] _X Congrès National Corporatif_ (Rennes, 1898), p. 302.

The Congress of Paris (1900) again recorded but little progress. In the
interval since Rennes (1898-1900) only a few new federations joined the
General Confederation. The others, whose adherence was solicited,
refused or even were not "polite enough" to make a reply. The adhering
organizations paid irregularly; the decisions of the Congresses were not
executed. The Committees still did not function because the number of
delegates to the National Council was small. The total income for both
years amounted to 3,678 francs, of which 1,488 were dues paid.

The "Committee for the propaganda of the general strike" had collected
during this period (1898-1900) 4,262 francs. Of this 3,172 francs were
the five per cent of the strike subscriptions. It may also be
interesting to note that the organizations which contributed most to
this sum were: Union of Syndicats of Seine, 901 francs; the Union of
Machinists of Seine, 727 francs; the Federation of Moulders, 536 francs;
the Federation of Metallurgy, 457 francs. The Committee published
thirteen numbers of a journal, "The General Strike," and a brochure on
the general strike.

The general strike was again the subject of a long discussion at the
Congress of Paris. But the discussion was given a new turn. The question
now was: "The general strike, its organization, its eventuality, its
consequences." And the ideas that prevailed revealed some further
modifications in the conception.

The question was given this turn because certain syndicats thought that
the principle of the general strike had been sufficiently affirmed and
that it was time to treat the subject practically. As the discussion
showed, the majority of the delegates thought that the general strike
could take place at any moment and that in order to be successful, it
did not presuppose a majority of organized workingmen, nor big sums of
money. A daring revolutionary minority conscious of its aim could carry
away with it the majority of workingmen and accomplish the act of
appropriating the means of production for society as a whole. Some even
thought that in order that the general strike should be prompt and lead
to the aim in view it was best to have no money at all; everyone would
then take what he needed wherever he found it, and the result would be
the completest possible emancipation.[116] As one of the delegates
expressed it: "Count exclusively upon the enthusiasm (_entrainement_) of
the working-class."[117]

[116] _XI Congrès National Corporatif_ (Paris, 1900), p. 198.

[117] _Ibid._, p. 113.

This conception of the general strike attributed to the syndicat a
revolutionary rôle, as the syndicat was to take possession of the means
of production in the name of society as a whole. It did not exclude
however the parallel action of political parties. The latter could
profit by the general strike and seize the political power of the State
to co-operate in the transformation of society. But the syndicats were
not to count upon this possibility; on the contrary it was their task to
make the general strike absolutely independent of all political parties,
to perform the principal part in the economic revolution and to leave to
the new government, if one arose, no other function but that of
sanctioning the economic change accomplished by the syndicats.

This emphasis upon the revolutionary and preponderant part to be played
by the syndicats went together with a mistrust and defiance of political
parties. "All politicians are betrayers,"[118] exclaimed one delegate.
"In politics one has always to deal with intrigues," said another, and
the same sentiment pervaded the other speeches. Though not refusing to
make use of all methods, "for the disorganization of capitalism," all
delegates emphasized the necessity for the workingmen to rely mainly
upon themselves and upon their syndical organizations.

[118] _XI Congrès National Corporatif_ (Paris, 1900), p. 110.

The majority of delegates recognized also that the general strike must
necessarily have a violent character. Though a few still thought of the
general strike as of a "peaceful revolution," a "strike of folded arms,"
the majority rejected this conception as childish and foresaw the
inevitable collision to which the general strike would lead.

All these ideas were briefly summarized in the conclusions of the
Committee appointed by the Congress to report on the question. This
Commission recommended leaving the "Committee for the propaganda of the
general strike" as free as possible in its action. The Congress merely
determined the syndicats which were to elect the members of the
Committee. The latter was now to obtain regular monthly dues for the
continuation of its work.

The revolutionary spirit which manifested itself in the conception of
the general strike expressed itself also in the resolution of the
Congress on the army. This resolution demanded the suppression of
permanent armies, and invited the syndicats to establish relations with
the workingmen in military service, to invite them to social gatherings
and to assist them financially (to establish the so-called _Sou du
Soldat_).

The same spirit characterized the report of the Committee which
formulated the ideas of the Congress on the "practical means of
realizing the international harmony of the workingmen." "Capital," read
the report, "in its various forms is international," and it is necessary
that labor should also be organized internationally. The slight
differences in conditions of life varying from country to country are
not important. "The predominating fact everywhere, in all countries, is
the division of society into two categories; the producer and the
non-producer, the wage-earner and the employer." The report went on to
say that the idea of "fatherland" (_patrie_) is a means of protecting
the strong against the weak, "an emblem of speculation, of
exploitation," "a synonym of property," "a fiction for the workingmen
who possess nothing."[119] The practical conclusion of the Committee
was to bring together the wage-earners of all countries in an
international organization which should be represented by an
international secretariat.

[119] _XI Congrès National Corporatif_ (Paris, 1900), p. 205.

During 1900-1 the Confederation displayed a little more activity than
before. The National Council employed a permanent employee to attend to
the business of the Confederation, at first for two, then for four hours
a day at a remuneration of 50 and then 100 francs a month. In December,
1900, the Confederation began also to publish its own weekly, _La Voix
du Peuple_. Since 1896 the question of a trade-journal had been on the
order of the day. It was discussed at every Congress and various plans
were recommended in order to obtain the financial means for a daily. The
Congress of Paris, in view of the financial impossibility of starting a
daily and recognizing that "it was more than ever necessary to create a
revolutionary syndicalist organ," decided to publish a weekly. One of
the Committees of the National Council was to attend to it.

The _Voix du Peuple_, however, was not in a satisfactory condition at
the time of the Congress of Lyons (1901). Pouget, the editor of the
paper and the secretary of the Committee of the _Voix du Peuple_,
complained that the _Voix du Peuple_ "suffered from the apathy and the
negligence of the comrades." Only 260 syndicats subscribed for the paper
(out of 2,700 syndicats then in existence). In Paris only 600 copies
were sold weekly. The finances showed a deficit for the year of over
6,000 francs. The number of copies printed fell from 12,000-14,000
during the first months to 800 during the later months.

The secretary of the Confederation, M. Guérard, also complained that the
"Confederation was anaemic for lack of means." The twenty
organizations--federations and syndicats--which adhered to the
Confederation during 1900-1901 paid in 1,478 francs. The total income
was 4,125 francs. With such limited means the Confederation could do
nothing. The Congress of Lyons (1901)--where all these reports were
read--was provided for by a subvention from the municipality of Lyons
which appropriated 7,000 francs for the purpose.

The Congress of Lyons, nevertheless, showed that the Confederation was
beginning to feel a little more confidence in its future. The Congress
decided that henceforth only syndicats adhering to the Confederation
should take part in its Congresses. Previous to that all syndicats were
invited to send a delegate or their mandate to the Congresses of the
Confederation. The Congresses, therefore, neither revealed the strength
of the Confederation, nor had a binding character, and were significant
merely as revealing the state of mind of a large part of the organized
workingmen of the time. The decision of the Congress of Lyons was to do
away with this condition and to give the Congresses of the Confederation
a more coherent and binding character.

Another decision taken by the Congress of Lyons was to admit local and
regional federations of syndicats. This was directed against the
Federation of Bourses. Though more friendly since 1900, the relations
between the two organizations still gave trouble. The question of unity,
however, was urged by many workingmen, and the Congress decided to call
a special Congress for 1902 to solve this problem.

The Congress of Lyons revealed the further progress of revolutionary
ideas among the delegates. There were 226 delegates; these represented
26 Bourses and 8 local federations, comprising 1,035 syndicats with
245,000 members;[120] eight regional federations composed of 264
syndicats with 36,000 members; 8 federations of trade or industry
counting 507 syndicats with 196,000 members; 492 syndicats with 60,000
workingmen were represented directly. The exact number of syndicats and
of workingmen represented cannot be obtained from these figures, because
one syndicat could be represented several times in a local federation,
in a Bourse, and in the federation of trade. The delegates, however,
came from different parts of the country and were numerous enough to
show that the ideas they expressed were accepted by a considerable
number of French workingmen.

[120] The growth of syndicats in France since 1895 is shown in the
following table:

  _Year_    _Syndicats_    _Members_

   1895        2,163        419,781
   1896        2,243        422,777
   1898        2,324        437,793
   1899        2,361        419,761
   1900        2,685        492,647
   1901        3,287        588,832


Of the questions discussed at Lyons three had a particular significance
as showing the revolutionary tendency which the Confederation was
taking. These were the questions of the general strike, of labor-laws,
and of the relations to the political parties.

The "Committee for the propaganda of the General Strike" reported more
activity for the year 1900-1 and greater success in its work. The
Committee published a brochure on the General Strike of which 50,000
copies were distributed. It collected over 1,500 francs in monthly dues,
and its total income amounted to 2,447 francs. It was in touch with a
number of sub-committees in the different _Bourses du Travail_, arranged
a number of meetings on various occasions, and lent its support to some
strikes. The Committee affirmed that the idea of the general strike had
spread widely during the year and attributed this fact to the big
strikes which had taken place in France after the International
Exhibition of 1900 and which had thrown the workingmen into a state of
agitation.

At the time the Congress of Lyons was being held, the miners were
threatening to strike, if their demands were not granted by the
companies. The delegate of the miners was at the Congress, and the
discussion that took place under these conditions was very
characteristic.

The Committee on the general strike which consisted of fifteen members
reported:

     The idea of the general strike is sufficiently understood to-day.
     In repeatedly putting off the date of its coming, we risk
     discrediting it forever by enervating the revolutionary energies.

     What better occasion to realize it!

     The miners will give the signal on the first of November; the
     working-class--in case of a revolution--counts upon this movement
     which must bring them their economic liberation.

And the report of the Committee went on to point out the conditions
which in its opinion indicated "that the moment had come to try the
general strike (_faire la Grève générale_) with strong chances of
success."[121]

[121] _XII Congrès National Corporatif_ (Lyons, 1901), p. 170.

The delegate from the miners said: "If you wish to join us, we will be
able not only to strike, but to bring about the revolution; if we were
made sure of the co-operation of all trades, even if it were necessary
to wait for it two, three, or even six months, we are ready to grant you
this concession."[122]

[122] _Ibid._, pp. 177-8.

The following motion was then adopted:

     The Congress declares that the General Strike cannot be the means
     merely of obtaining amelioration for any category of workingmen.

     Its aim can be only the complete emancipation of the proletariat
     through the violent expropriation of the capitalist class.

     The Congress, in view of the situation, declares that the movement
     which may take place in favor of the miners, the importance or
     character of which nobody can foresee and which may go to the point
     of a general emancipation, will be in any case a movement of
     solidarity which will not impair in the least the revolutionary
     principle of the general strike of all workingmen.[123]

[123] _Ibid._, p. 179.

The delegate of the Typographical Union (_La Fédération du Livre_)
combated the idea of the general strike and argued that it was
impossible in view of the small number of organized workingmen. But his
argument had no effect on the Congress. It was rejected as of no
importance because the minority of organized workingmen could carry away
with it the majority.

The question of labor laws was the subject of an animated discussion at
the Congress because of its importance. The answer given to this
question was to determine the attitude of the General Confederation to
legislative reforms and to the State in general.

The question was a very practical one. The government of
Waldeck-Rousseau (22 June, 1899-6 June, 1902), in which the socialist,
Millerand, was Minister of Commerce and Industry, outlined a number of
labor laws which touched upon the most vital questions of the labor
movement. The most important of these law-projects were on strikes and
arbitration, on the composition of the superior Council of Labor, on the
institution of Councils of Labor, and on the modification of the law of
1884.

The policy of the government in planning these laws was clear and
expressly stated. It was the continuation and accentuation of the policy
which had guided M. Waldeck-Rousseau in 1884 when he was Minister of the
Interior in the Cabinet of Jules Ferry, and which had then found partial
expression in the ministerial circular on the application of the new law
on syndicats.

This "Circular," sent out to the Prefects August 25, 1884, pointed out
to the Prefects that it was the duty of the State not merely to watch
over the strict observation of the law, but "to favor the spirit of
association" among the workingmen and "to stimulate" the latter to make
use of the new right. In the conception of the government the syndicats
were to be "less a weapon of struggle" than "an instrument of material,
moral and intellectual progress." It was "the wish of the Government and
of the Chambers to see the propagation, in the largest possible measure,
of the trade associations and of the institutions which they were
destined to engender" (such as old-age pension funds, mutual credit
banks, libraries, co-operative societies, etc.) and the government
expected the Prefects "to lend active assistance" in the organization of
syndicats and in the creation of syndical institutions.[124]

[124] See the "Circulaire" in G. Severac, _Guide Pratique des Syndicats
Professionnels_ (Paris, 1908), pp. 125-136.

The aim of Waldeck-Rousseau was to bring about the "alliance of the
bourgeoisie and of the working-class"[125] which Gambetta and other
republican statesmen had untiringly preached as the only condition of
maintaining the Republic. In the period 1899-1902 this policy seemed
still more indispensable. It was the time when the agitation caused by
the Dreyfus affair assumed the character of a struggle between the
republican and anti-republican forces of France. Republicans, Radicals,
Socialists, and Anarchists were fighting hand in hand against
Monarchists, Nationalists, Anti-Semites and Clericals. The cabinet of
Waldeck-Rousseau constituted itself a "Cabinet of Republican Defense"
and it sought to attain its end by securing the support of all
republican elements of the country. This was the cause which prompted
Waldeck-Rousseau to invite a socialist, Millerand, to enter his cabinet
and to accentuate his policy of attaching the working-class to the
Republic by a series of protective labor laws.

[125] G. Hanoteaux, _Modern France_ (tr. by J. C. Tarver, New York,
1903-09), vol. ii, p. 181.

The policy of the Government was clearly expressed by Millerand in the
Chamber of Deputies on November 23, 1899. "It has appeared to me," said
he, "that the best means for bringing back the working masses to the
Republic, is to show them not by words, but by facts, that the
republican government is above everything else the government of the
small and of the weak."[126]

[126] A. Lavy, _L'Oeuvre de Millerand_ (Paris, 1902), p. 2.

The facts by which M. Millerand undertook to show this were a number of
decrees by which the government tried to enforce a stricter observation
of labor-laws already in existence and a series of new law-projects for
the future protection of labor, such as the bill on a ten-hour day,
which became law on March 30, 1900. As M. Millerand expressed it, this
law was "a measure of moralization, of solidarity, and of social
pacification."

Social pacification was the supreme aim of M. Millerand and of the
government. M. Millerand hoped to attain this by calling workingmen to
participation in the legislative activities of the Republic, by
accustoming them to peaceable discussions with employers, and by
regulating the more violent forms of the economic struggle.

A decree from September 1, 1899, modified the constitution of the
Superior Council of Labor, in existence since 1891, so that it should
henceforth consist of 22 elected workingmen, 22 elected employers and 22
members appointed by the Minister from among the deputies of the
Chamber, the senators and other persons representing "general
interests." The Superior Council of Labor was "an instrument of study,
of information and of consultation" in matters of labor legislation. It
studied law-projects affecting the conditions of labor, made its own
suggestions to the government, but had no legislative powers.

The decree of M. Millerand was particularly significant in one respect:
it called upon the workingmen organized in the syndicats to elect
fifteen members of the Superior Council of Labor. M. Millerand pointed
out the significance of this measure in a speech delivered on June 5,
1900. Said he:

     The workingmen are henceforth warned, that in order to participate
     through delegates sprung from their own ranks in the elaboration of
     economic reforms which concern them most, it is necessary and
     sufficient that they enter the ranks of that great army of which
     the syndicats are the battalions. How can they refuse to do this?
     By inducing them to do so we believe that we are defending their
     legitimate interests at the same time that we are serving the cause
     of social peace in this country.[127]

[127] A. Lavy, _op. cit._, p. 66.

The "Councils of Labor" were organized by two decrees from September 17,
1900, and from January 2, 1901. Composed of an equal number of
workingmen and of employers, these Councils had for their principal
mission to enlighten the government, as well as workingmen and
employers, on the actual and necessary conditions of labor, to
facilitate thereby industrial harmony and general agreement between the
interested parties, to furnish in cases of collective conflicts
competent mediators, and to inform the public authorities on the effects
produced by labor legislation.[128]

[128] _Ibid._, p. 79.

M. Millerand emphasized that the Councils of Labor were to bring
workingmen and employers together for the discussion of "their general
interests" and that this new institution would be one more motive for
the utilization of the law of 1884 on syndicats. "To encourage by all
means the formation of these trade-associations, so useful for the
progress of social peace," wrote the Minister in his decree, "is a task
which a republican government cannot neglect."[129]

[129] A. Lavy, _op. cit._, p. 80.

To enlarge the possible operations of the syndicats, the government also
introduced a bill into the Chamber (November 14, 1899) which contained
several modifications of the law of 1884. This bill proposed to extend
the commercial capacities of the syndicat and to grant the syndicat the
rights of a juridical person.

To complete the series of measures which were to impart a peaceful
character to the syndical movement, M. Millerand introduced into the
chamber a bill (November 15, 1900) on the regulation of strikes and on
arbitration. This law-project proposed a complicated mechanism for the
settlement of economic conflicts. It hinged on the principle that
strikes should be decided by secret ballot and by a majority vote
renewed at brief intervals by all workingmen concerned; permanent
arbitration boards in the industrial establishments were part of the
mechanism.[130]

[130] Only the most important measures of M. Millerand are mentioned;
they do not by any means exhaust his legislative activities during this
period.

Toward this series of labor laws the Congress of Lyons was to define its
attitude. The principle of the Superior Council of Labor was accepted by
a majority of 258 against 205 votes (5 blank); the project on the
regulation of strikes and on arbitration was rejected by a unanimous
vote minus five; the Councils of Labor proposition was rejected by a
majority of 279 against 175 (18 blank).

The discussion on the labor laws brought out the fact that the idea of
"direct action" had undergone further modifications as a result of the
policy of the government. M. Waldeck-Rousseau was denounced by the
speakers as "a clever defender of the interests of the bourgeoisie" who
wished merely to stop the offensive movement of the workingmen.[131]
The legislative measures of the "pseudo-socialist minister",[132]
Millerand, were interpreted as schemes for restraining the revolutionary
action of the syndicats.[133] The workingmen were warned that, if they
accepted the laws, they would "reinforce a power which they wanted to
destroy".[134] They were reminded that the main function of the syndicat
was to organize the workmen for their final emancipation which
presupposes the "abolition of the wage-system" and that all "so-called
labor laws" would only retard the hour of final liberation.

[131] _XII Congrès National Corporatif_ (VI de la C. G. T.), Lyons,
1901, p. 110.

[132] _Ibid._, p. 114.

[133] _Ibid._, p. 210.

[134] _Ibid._, p. 112.

The revolutionary elements of the Congress did not deny, however, the
possibility or the desirability of reforms. They insisted only upon
particular methods of obtaining reforms and upon a particular kind of
reforms. They rejected all peaceful discussion with employers because
the interests of employers and of workingmen were held to be distinct
and antagonistic. They did not want an "economic parliamentarism"[135]
which would necessarily take the sting out of the workingmen's weapons
and deprive the syndicats of their force. They wanted such reforms only
as should "undermine the foundations"[136] of existing society and which
should advance the movement for "integral emancipation" by
strengthening the forces and the organization of the workingmen.

[135] _Ibid._, p. 218.

[136] _Ibid._, p. 110.

Such reforms could be obtained only "independently of all
parliamentarism",[137] by the workingmen organized in their syndicats
displaying all their initiative, manifesting all their energies, relying
only upon themselves and not upon intermediaries. Only in this way would
the syndicats wrest "piece by piece from capitalistic society reforms
the application of which would finally give the exploited class the
force which is indispensable in order to bring about the social
revolution".[138]

[137] _XI Congrès National Corporatif_, p. 114.

[138] _Ibid._, p. 119.

These ideas showed the further application which the principle of
"direct action" was given by the revolutionary elements in the
syndicats. The syndicats were not only to carry on their struggle
"directly" against employers by strikes, boycotts and _sabotage_, but
also against the State, and not only against the State appearing as the
"enemy of labor", but also against the State wishing to become the
protector and benefactor of the workingmen. This hostility to the State
and to its reform-legislation marked a further accentuation of the ideas
of revolutionary syndicalism.

The Congress of Lyons took, also, a decided stand on the relations of
the syndicats to political action. Under "political action" of course
the action of the Socialist parties was meant. After the foundation of
the General Confederation of Labor certain important changes had taken
place in the socialist movement of France which could not but have their
effect upon the syndicats.

In 1893 the socialist parties had their first big success in the general
elections. They obtained about 600,000 votes[139] and elected over 50
deputies. The socialist deputies in the Chamber constituted a
Parliamentary Group--_Union Socialiste_--which acted in common. This
strengthened the tendency toward union which had already manifested
itself, during the elections, when the Socialists had entered into
unions among themselves.

[139] A. Hamon, _Le Socialisme et le Congrès de Londres_ (Paris, 1897),
p. 11.

The unity in action was further made possible by a unity in views which
was becoming more and more manifest. After 1892, when the Guesdists
obtained a large number of votes in the municipal elections and gained a
number of municipalities, their ideas on some of the most important
points of their program began to change. In 1894, at their Congress of
Nantes, the Guesdists elaborated a detailed program of reforms designed
to win the votes of the agricultural population. This program made no
mention of the collective appropriation of the soil; on the contrary, it
stated that, "in the agricultural domain, the means of production, which
is the soil, is in many places still in the possession of the producers
themselves as individual property" and that "if this state of
conditions, characterized by peasant proprietorship, must inevitably
disappear, socialism must not precipitate its disappearance."[140] With
similar promises of reform the Guesdists addressed other classes of the
population: artisans, small merchants and the lower strata of the middle
classes.

[140] L. Blum, _Congrès Ouvriers et Socialistes_, p. 146.

Formerly ardent revolutionists, they now began to emphasize the legal
aspect of their activity and the emancipating influence of universal
suffrage. Jules Guesde himself in his speeches in the Chamber of
Deputies on various occasions expressed his belief that universal
suffrage was the instrument with which all questions might be peacefully
solved,[141] and that nothing but legal weapons would throw the Republic
into the hands of the socialist army. G. Deville, then one of the
principal theorists of the party, affirmed in 1896 that the only actual
task of the party was to increase the number of socialist electors and
representatives.[142] With the affirmation of the emancipating
significance of universal suffrage the importance of parliamentary
action was more and more emphasized.

[141] _Chambre des Deputés, Débats Parlementaires_; July 11, 1895;
November 22, 1895.

[142] Deville, _Principes Socialistes_.

Thus the "revolutionary" socialists were approaching the reformist
elements composed of Broussists and of Independents. In 1896 this
_rapprochement_ was manifested at the banquet of Saint Mandé arranged on
the occasion of the success obtained by the socialists during the
municipal elections of that year. All socialist parties took part in it
and Millerand delivered a speech in which he outlined the common points
of the socialist program. This program emphasized the peaceful and
evolutionary character of socialism: "We address ourselves only to
universal suffrage," said Millerand, ... "In order to begin the
socialization of the means of production, it is necessary and sufficient
for the Socialist party to pursue with the help of universal suffrage
the conquest of the political powers."[143] Guesde, present at the
banquet, approved and "applauded" the definition of Socialism given by
Millerand.

[143] A. Millerand, _Le Socialisme Réformiste Français_ (Paris, 1903),
pp. 31-32.

The Dreyfus affair brought the socialists for some time into still
closer contact. A "Committee of Harmony" (_Comité d'Entente_) was formed
in which all the socialist organizations were represented. The demand
for unity was expressed in the socialist periodical press, and J. Jaurès
outlined a plan according to which the old separate and rival factions
were to disappear in one unified party.[144] The belief in the
possibility of such a unified party was general.

[144] _Le Mouvement Socialiste_, Jan., 1899.

The entrance of Millerand into the Ministry of Waldeck-Rousseau was a
sudden shock which again disrupted the elements tending toward union.
The Guesdists, Blanquists and a few other groups denounced the act of
Millerand as a violation of the principles of class and
class-struggle--the fundamental principles of Socialism. The
Independents, Broussists and similar elements, on the contrary, insisted
upon the necessity of taking part in the general life of the country and
of assuming responsibilities when they are inevitable. At two general
Congresses of all socialist organizations held in Paris (December, 1899,
and September, 1900) this question was discussed. The Congresses ended
with a quarrel among the various socialist organizations which led to
complete rupture at the following Congress in Lyons in May, 1901. The
Guesdists, Blanquists and several regional federations formed the _Parti
Socialiste de France_; the Independents, Broussists, and Allemanists
formed the _Parti Socialiste Français_, which supported Millerand and
the cabinet of Waldeck-Rousseau. Within each new grouping, however, the
old organizations remained intact.

The "case Millerand" raised such violent polemics, such bitter mutual
accusations among the Socialists that many members of the party felt
disgusted. Even the French socialist movement, so rich in inner
divisions and dissensions, had never before experienced such a critical
condition.

In view of this situation the organized workingmen were anxious now more
than ever to keep politics out of the syndicats. The resolution adopted
unanimously by the Congress of Lyons insisted upon the fact that the
introduction of politics into the syndicats would cause division in the
syndicalist ranks, and therefore invited the syndicats and the
federations to remain independent of all political parties, "leaving to
individuals the undeniable right to devote themselves to that kind of
struggle which they prefer in the political field." The syndicat as an
organization, however, should remain neutral; otherwise it would be
"false to its true rôle which consists in grouping all the exploited
without distinction of race, nationality, philosophical or religious
opinions, and political views."[145]

[145] _XII Congrès Corporatif_ (Lyons, 1901), p. 151.

The reaction of socialist workingmen, however, to the situation created
by the "case Millerand" was of a more complicated character. While the
entrance of a socialist minister into the government aroused hopes and
expectations in the minds of many, to others it seemed the beginning of
the end of socialism. Habitually regarding socialism as a
class-movement, imbued with the ideas of class and class-struggle, they
were shocked and grieved at the "collaboration of classes" which
Millerand practised in the government and the Socialists in Parliament.

To these socialist workingmen the danger seemed the greater because it
presented itself as a crowning act of a policy that had been pursued for
some time by all the socialists. As we have seen, even the
revolutionary Guesdists had become more and more moderate. They had
co-operated in Parliament with the republican parties and had concluded
alliances during elections with "bourgeois" parties. At the general
Congress of socialists in Paris in 1899, M. Briand in a clever and
somewhat biting speech pointed out to the revolutionary socialists that
their policy had made the "case Millerand" possible. "It seems," said
Briand, "that great astonishment has been aroused in our comrades of the
_Parti Ouvrier_ (Guesdists) by the entrance of our comrade Millerand
into a bourgeois government. But, citizens of the _Parti Ouvrier_, what
has taken place is the very consequence of the policy which by
successive concessions you have forced upon the entire socialist
party."[146] And Briand pointed out these "successive concessions" which
deprived the Guesdists of their revolutionary character. To quote M.
Briand again:

[146] _Congrès Général des Organisations Socialistes_ (Paris, 1899), p.
152.

     Yes, you become interested in these [electoral] struggles which
     gave immediate results, and little by little our militant comrades
     also became interested in them, took a liking for them to such a
     degree that they soon came to believe that in order to triumph
     definitely over the capitalist society nothing was necessary but to
     storm the ballot-boxes. Thus within recent years the country could
     gain the impression that the socialist party was no longer a
     revolutionary party.[147]

[147] _Ibid._, p. 155.

This impression many socialist workingmen had, and the "case Millerand"
strengthened it in them. But preservation of the revolutionary character
of socialism was for them a necessity, equivalent to maintaining their
belief in the coming of socialism at all. These workingmen of all
socialist parties, Allemanists, Blanquists, and even Guesdists,
therefore, now threw themselves with greater energy into the syndicalist
movement which seemed to them the only refuge for the revolutionary
spirit. There they met the Communist-Anarchists who had been taking an
active part in the syndicalist movement for some time. The
Communist-Anarchists before 1895 had generally shown little sympathy for
the syndicats where the workingmen, they said, were either engaged in
politics or trying to obtain paltry reforms. But tired of carrying on a
merely verbal propaganda and spurred on by Pelloutier,[148] they began
to change their attitude after 1895, and after 1899 became influential
in many syndicalist organizations. Their criticism of electoral action,
their denunciation of political intriguing, now under the conditions
created by the "case Millerand," fell on prepared ground and yielded
fruit. A decided anti-political tendency gained strength in the
syndicats.

[148] To understand the change in the attitude of the anarchists towards
the syndicats, the disillusioning effect of their terroristic campaign
from 1890 to 1894, during which the exploits of Ravachole, Henri,
Casiers, and others took place, must also be considered.

This tendency was further strengthened by the economic events of the
period. During these years, particularly after the Exhibition of Paris,
a series of big strikes took place in various parts of France, among the
miners in the north, the dockers in the ports of the south, in the
Creusot works, etc. These strikes were partly the result of the large
expectations aroused in the workingmen by the entrance of a socialist
minister into the government. But the government sent troops against
some of the strikers and in two or three cases blood was shed. The
agitation aroused by the bloodshed was great and intensified the
defiance toward Millerand and toward the political parties in general. On
the other hand, some of the strikes became more or less general in
character and were won by the energetic action of the strikers. This
strengthened the conviction in the efficacy of economic action and in
the possibility of the general strike.

Under the combined influence of all these conditions, the socialist and
anarchist workingmen, during this period, began to ascribe to the
syndicats a decided preponderance in all respects, and they actively
engaged in making their revolutionary ideas predominant in the syndical
organizations. The resolutions and discussions at the Congress of Lyons
revealed this state of mind and the progress attained. The revolutionary
elements of the syndicats had by this time become conscious of
themselves, and in opposition to the program of the political
socialists, they advanced the idea of the General Confederation of Labor
as a distinctly unifying conception which in the future was to play a
great social rôle. "The General Confederation of Labor uniting all the
workingmen's syndical forces," said the Secretary, Guérard, in his
report to the Congress of Lyons, "is destined to become the
revolutionary instrument capable of transforming society."[149] In
greeting the delegates at the opening of the Congress, Bourchet
addressed them as "the representatives of the great party of Labor"
(_grand parti du travail_).[150] The same term was used by other
delegates,[151] and in the summing-up of the work of the Congress, the
emphasis was laid upon the demarcation between the syndicalists and the
politicians which the Congress had clearly shown.

[149] _XI Congrès Corporatif_, (Lyons, 1901), p. 29.

[150] _Ibid._, p. 14.

[151] _Ibid._, p. 69.

Thus, with the Congress of Lyons the General Confederation of Labor may
be said to have entered definitely upon the revolutionary path. The main
ideas of revolutionary syndicalism were clearly formulated and
consciously accepted. The main functionaries elected after the Congress
were revolutionists, viz., the secretary Griffuelhes and the assistant
secretary and editor of the _Voix du Peuple_ Pouget.

The Congress of Montpellier held next year (1902) showed constant
accentuation of the revolutionary tendencies. The Congress of
Montpellier was almost entirely occupied with the elaboration of a new
constitution which would unite the General Confederation and the
Federation of Bourses. Statutes acceptable to both organizations were
adopted to go into force on January 1, 1903.

At the Congress of Montpellier the report of the Secretary Griffuelhes
claimed that during the year the Confederation had made progress. But
this progress was very slight. The real growth of the Confederation
began after its fusion with the Federation of Bourses. Since then also
dates the more active participation of the Confederation in the
political and social life of the country. But before taking up the
history of the General Confederation since 1902, it seems advisable to
sum up the main ideas of revolutionary syndicalism in a more systematic
way.



CHAPTER V

THE DOCTRINE OF REVOLUTIONARY SYNDICALISM


When the General Confederation of Labor adopted its new constitution in
1902, the main ideas of revolutionary syndicalism had already been
clearly formulated. Since then, however, a considerable amount of
literature has appeared on the subject, either clarifying or further
developing various points of the doctrine. This literature consists
mainly of numerous articles in the periodical press and of pamphlets and
is, accordingly, of an unsystematic character. The attempt is made in
this chapter to sum up in a systematic way the leading ideas of
revolutionary syndicalism common to all who call themselves
revolutionary syndicalists. Consideration of individual ideas and of
contributions of particular writers will be left to a following chapter.

The fundamental idea of revolutionary syndicalism is the idea of
class-struggle. Society is divided into two classes, the class of
employers who possess the instruments of production and the class of
workingmen who own nothing but their labor-power and who live by selling
it.

Between the two classes an incessant struggle is going on. This struggle
is a fact, not a theory in need of proof. It is a fact manifested every
day in the relations between employers and wage-earners, a fact inherent
in the economic organization of existing society.

The class-struggle is not a fact to be deplored; on the contrary, it
should be hailed as the creative force in society, as the force which
is working for the emancipation of the working-class. It is the
class-struggle which is consolidating the workingmen into a compact
unity opposed to the exploitation and domination of employers. It is the
class-struggle which is evolving new ideas of right (_droit_) in
opposition to the existing law. It is the class-struggle which is
developing the self-consciousness, the will-power and the moral
character of the workingmen and is creating forms of organization proper
to them. In a word, it is the class-struggle which is forging the
material and moral means of emancipation for the workingmen and putting
these weapons into their hands.

The task of the syndicalists is to organize the more or less vague
class-feeling of the workingmen and to raise it to the clear
consciousness of class-interests and of class-ideals. This aim can be
attained only by organizing the workingmen into syndicats. The syndicat
is an association of workingmen of the same or of similar trades, and is
held together by bonds of common interest. In this is its strength. Of
all human groupings it is the most fundamental and the most permanent,
because men in society are interested above everything else in the
satisfaction of their economic needs.

The strength, permanence, and class-character of economic groups are
made conspicuous by comparison with forms of grouping based on other
principles. Political parties, groups of idealists, or communities
professing a common creed, are associations which cannot but be weak and
transient in view of their heterogeneous composition and of the
accidental character of their bond of union. Political bodies, for
instance, are made up of men of various interests grouped only by
community of ideas. This is true even of the Socialist party which
consists of manufacturers, financiers, doctors, and lawyers, as well as
of workingmen. Even the Socialist party cannot, therefore, make
prominent the class-division of society, and tends to merge all classes
into one conglomeration which is unstable and incapable of persistent
collective action. Only in groupings of real and fundamental interests
such as the syndicats, are men of the same conditions brought together
for purposes inextricably bound up with life.

The syndicat groups men of one and the same trade in their capacity of
workingmen only, regardless of any other qualifications. The workingmen
entering a syndicat may be Catholics or Protestants, Republicans,
Socialists, or Monarchists, they may be of any color, race or
nationality; in their capacity of workingmen they are all equally
welcome and legitimate members of the syndicat. A workingman enrolling
in a syndicat is not entering a party, not subscribing to a platform,
nor accepting a creed. He is simply entering into a relation which is
forced upon him by his very position in society, and is grouping himself
with his fellowmen in such a way as to derive more strength for himself
in the struggle for existence, contributing at the same time to the
strength of his fellowmen.

These conditions make the syndicat peculiarly fit to serve the interests
of the workingmen. The syndicat is a sphere of influence which by the
volume of its suggestion and by the constancy and intensity of its
action shapes the feelings and ideas of the workingmen after a certain
pattern. In the syndicat the workingmen forget the things which divide
them and are intent upon that which unites them. In the syndicat the
workingmen meet to consider common interests, to discuss their identical
situation, to plan together for defense and aggression, and in all ways
are made to feel their group-solidarity and their antagonism to the
class of employers.

In view of this the syndicats should prefer industrial unionism to craft
unionism. The separation of workingmen into trades is apt to develop in
them a corporate spirit which is not in harmony with the class-idea. The
industrial union, on the contrary, widens the mental horizon of the
workingman and his range of solidarity with his fellow workers and thus
serves better to strengthen his class-consciousness.

The syndicat is the instrument with which the workingmen can enter into
a "direct" struggle with employers. "Direct action" is what the
syndicalists most insist upon, as the only means of educating the
workingmen and of preparing them for the final act of emancipation.
"Direct action" is action by the workingmen themselves without the help
of intermediaries; it is not necessarily violent action, though it may
assume violent forms; it is the manifestation of the consciousness and
of the will of the workingmen themselves, without the intervention of an
external agent: it consists in pressure exerted directly by those
interested for the sake of obtaining the ends in view.

"Direct action" may assume various forms, but the principal ones in the
struggle against employers are: the strike, the boycott, the label, and
_sabotage_.

The strike, in the view of the syndicalists, is the manifestation of the
class-struggle _par excellence_. The strike brings the workingmen face
to face with the employers in a clash of interests. A strike clears up,
as if by a flash of lightning, the deep antagonism which exists between
those who employ and those who work for employers. It further deepens
the chasm between them, consolidating the employers on the one hand, and
the workingmen on the other, over against one another. It is a
revolutionary fact of great value.

All strikes, partial, general in a locality, or general in some one
trade, have this revolutionary influence, particularly when they are
conducted in a certain way. If the workingmen rely only on their
treasury, the strike degenerates into a mere contest between two money
bags--that of the employer and that of the syndicat--and loses much of
its value. Still more are the syndicalists opposed to methods of
conciliation and arbitration. The idea of the revolutionary syndicalists
is that a strike should be won by _Sturm und Drang_, by quick and
energetic pressure on employers. The financial strength of workingmen
when striking should not be considered. Money may be supplied by
contributions of workingmen of other trades and localities, in itself
another means of developing the solidarity of the working-class.
Sometimes a strike may be won by calling out sympathetic strikes in
other trades.

Strikes conducted in this manner yield practical results and serve also
as means of educating the workingmen. They reveal to the workingmen
their power, as producers, and their importance in the productive system
of society. The label, on the other hand, is a means of bringing home to
the workingmen their importance as consumers, and of making them wield
this power for their own benefit.

The boycott reveals the power of the workingmen, either as producers or
as consumers. It may be wielded against an employer whose shop is
avoided, or against a firm in its capacity as seller. It is an effective
means of forcing employers to terms.

_Sabotage_ consists in obstructing in all possible ways the regular
process of production to the dismay and disadvantage of the employer.
The manifestations of _sabotage_ are many, varying with the nature of
the industry and with the ingenuity of the workers. In its primitive
form, _sabotage_ is a tacit refusal on the part of the workers to exert
properly their energy or skill in the performance of their work, in
retaliation for any injustice which, in their opinion, had been
inflicted upon them by their employers. This form of _sabotage_ includes
such practices as those summarized in the Scotch _Ca Canny_ (slow work
for low wages) and in the French principle of a _mauvaise paye mauvais
travail_ (bad work for bad pay). It also includes the recent practices
of the railroad workers in Austria, Italy, and France who disorganized
the railway service of their respective countries by obeying literally
all the rules and regulations of the service code and by refusing to
apply discretion and common sense in the performance of their duties.
The distinguishing characteristic of this form of _sabotage_ is that in
applying it the workers remain within the limits of their contract and
avoid any manifest violation of the law, though the loss inflicted upon
the employer may be very heavy.

A more aggressive form of _sabotage_ is that which expresses itself in
deliberate damage done either to the product of labor or to the nature
of the service. An instance of the latter was the so-called _grève
perlée_ applied by the French railway men, which consisted in wilful
misdirection of baggage and of perishable merchandise. This form of
_sabotage_ implies disregard for the laws of property and for the clauses
of the labor contract, but it is carried on in a manner which makes
detection of motive very difficult.[152]

[152] An intermediate form of _sabotage_ is that known as _sabotage à
bouche ouverte_ (_sabotage_ of the open mouth). It consists in the
disclosure of conditions generally withheld from the public, such as
conditions in hotel-kitchens and restaurants, methods of weighing and
measuring in stores, practices followed by druggists, frauds resorted to
by contractors and builders, etc.

From this form of _sabotage_ it is but a short step to the most
aggressive and violent kind which finds expression in the deliberate and
open disorganization of machinery. This form of _sabotage_ has nothing
in common with the destruction of machinery practiced by unorganized
workers during the early stages of the capitalist régime. It aims not at
the destruction of the machine as a means of production, but at the
temporary disability of the machine during strikes for the purpose of
preventing employers to carry on production with the help of
strikebreakers. Even in this most aggressive form, _sabotage_ may
involve very little violence. The syndicalists strongly condemn any act
of _sabotage_ which may result in the loss of life.

Such are the "direct" methods of struggle against employers. But the
revolutionary syndicalists have another enemy, the State, and the
struggle against the latter is another aspect of "direct action."

The State appears to the syndicalists as the political organization of
the capitalist class. Whether monarchist, constitutional, or republican,
it is one in character, an organization whose function it is to uphold
and to protect the privileges of the property-owners against the demands
of the working-class. The workingmen are, therefore, necessarily forced
to hurl themselves against the State in their efforts toward
emancipation, and they cannot succeed until they have broken the power
of the State.

The struggle against the State, like the struggle against the employers,
must be carried on directly by the workingmen themselves. This excludes
the participation of the syndicats in politics and in electoral
campaigning. The parliamentary system is a system of representation
opposed in principle to "direct action," and serves the interests of the
bourgeoisie, for the management of which it is particularly suited. The
workingmen can derive no benefit from it. The parliamentary system
breeds petty, self-seeking politicians, corrupts the better elements
that enter into it and is a source of intrigues and of "wire-pulling."
The so-called representatives of the workingman do not and cannot avoid
the contagious influence of parliament. Their policy degenerates into
bargaining, compromising and collaboration with the bourgeois political
parties and weakens the class-struggle.

The syndicats, therefore, if not hostile, must remain at least
indifferent to parliamentary methods and independent of political
parties. They must, however, untiringly pursue their direct struggle
against the State. The direct method of forcing the State to yield to
the demands of the workingmen consists in exerting external pressure on
the public authorities. Agitation in the press, public meetings,
manifestations, demonstrations and the like, are the only effective
means of making the government reckon with the will of the
working-class.

By direct pressure on the government the workingmen may obtain reforms
of immediate value to themselves. Only such reforms, gained and upheld
by force, are real. All other reforms are but a dead letter and a means
of deceiving the workingmen.

The democratic State talks much about social reforms, labor legislation
and the like. In fact, however, all labor laws that are of real
importance have been passed only under the pressure of the workingmen.
Those which owe their existence to democratic legislators alone are
devised to weaken the revolutionary strength of the working-class. Among
such laws are those on conciliation and arbitration. All democratic
governments are anxious to have Boards of Conciliation and of
Arbitration, in order to check strikes which are the main force of the
working-class. Workingmen must be opposed to these reforms, which are
intended to further the harmony and collaboration of classes, because
the ideology of class-harmony is one of the most dangerous snares which
are set for the workingmen in a democratic State.[153] This ideology
blinds the workingmen to the real facts of inequality and of
class-distinctions which are the very foundations of existing society.
It allures them into hopes which cannot be fulfilled and leads them
astray from the only path of emancipation which is the struggle of
classes.

[153] The fundamental principle of democracy is that all citizens are
equal before the law and that there are no classes in the state.

Another idea which is used by the democratic State for the same purpose
is the idea of patriotism. "Our country", "our nation", are mottoes
inculcated into the mind of the workingman from his very childhood. But
these words have no meaning for the workingman. The workingman's country
is where he finds work. In search of work he leaves his native land and
wanders from place to place. He has no fatherland (_patrie_) in any real
meaning of the term. Ties of tradition, of a common intellectual and
moral heritage do not exist for him. In his experience as workingman he
finds that there is but one real tie, the tie of economic interest which
binds him to all the workingmen of the world, and separates him at the
same time from all the capitalists of the world. The international
solidarity of the workingmen and their anti-patriotism are necessary
consequences of the class struggle.

The democratic State, like any other State, does not rely upon
ideological methods alone in keeping down the workingmen. It has
recourse to brute force as well. The judiciary, the administrative
machinery and especially the army are used as means of defeating the
movements of the working-class. The army is particularly effective as a
means of breaking strikes, of crushing the spirit of independence in the
workingmen, and as a means of keeping up the spirit of militarism. An
anti-militaristic propaganda is, therefore, one of the most important
forms of struggle against the State, as well as against capitalism.

Anti-militarism consists in carrying on in the army a propaganda of
syndicalist ideas. The soldiers are reminded that they are workingmen in
uniforms, who will one day return to their homes and shops, and who
should not, therefore, forget the solidarity which binds them to their
fellow workingmen in blouses. The soldiers are called upon not to use
their arms in strikes, and in case of a declaration of war to refuse to
take up arms. The syndicalists threaten in case of war to declare a
general strike. They are ardent apostles of international peace which is
indispensable, in their opinion, to the success of their movement.

By "direct action" against employers and the State the workingmen may
wrest from the ruling classes reforms which may improve their condition
more or less. Such reforms can not pacify the working-class because they
do not alter the fundamental conditions of the wage system, but they are
conducive to the fortification of the working-class and to its
preparation for the final struggle. Every successful strike, every
effective boycott, every manifestation of the workingmen's will and
power is a blow directed against the existing order; every gain in
wages, every shortening of hours of work, every improvement in the
general conditions of employment is one more position of importance
occupied on the march to the decisive battle, the general strike, which
will be the final act of emancipation.

The general strike--the supreme act of the class-war--will abolish the
classes and will establish new forms of society. The general strike must
not be regarded as a _deus ex machina_ which will suddenly appear to
solve all difficulties, but as the logical outcome of the syndicalist
movement, as the act that is being gradually prepared by the events of
every day. However remote it may appear, it is not a Utopia and its
possibility cannot be refuted on the ground that general strikes have
failed in the past and may continue to fail in the future. The failures
of to-day are building the success of to-morrow, and in time the hour of
the successful general strike will come.

What are the forms of the social organization which will take the place
of those now in existence? The Congress of Lyons (1901) had expressed
the wish to have this question on the program of the next Congress. In
order that the answer to this question should reflect the ideas
prevalent among the workingmen, the Confederal Committee submitted the
question to the syndicats for study. A questionnaire was sent out
containing the following questions:

(1) How would your syndicat act in order to transform itself from a
group for combat into a group for production?

(2) How would you act in order to take possession of the machinery
pertaining to your industry?

(3) How do you conceive the functions of the organized shops and
factories in the future?

(4) If your syndicat is a group within the system of highways, of
transportation of products or of passengers, of distribution, etc., how
do you conceive its functioning?

(5) What will be your relations to your federation of trade or of
industry after your reorganization?

(6) On what principle would the distribution of products take place and
how would the productive groups procure the raw material for themselves?

(7) What part would the _Bourses du Travail_ play in the transformed
society and what would be their task with reference to the statistics
and to the distribution of products?

At the Congress of Montpellier, in 1902, a number of reports were
presented answering the above questions. The reports were in the name of
the syndicats and came from different parts of France. Only a limited
number of them were printed as appendices to the general report of the
Congress. Among them, it may be interesting to note, was the report of
the syndicat of agricultural laborers. The rest were summed up in the
official organ of the Confederation, _La Voix du Peuple_.

The reports differed in details. Some emphasized one point more than
another and _vice versa_. But the general character of the reports was
identical and showed a consensus of opinion on the main outlines of that
"economic federalism" which is the ideal of the syndicalists.

According to this ideal, the syndicat will constitute the cell of
society. It will group the producers of one and the same trade who will
control their means of production. Property, however, will be social or
collective, and no one syndicat will be the exclusive owner of any
portion of the collective property. It will merely use it with the
consent of the entire society.

The syndicat will be connected with the rest of society through its
relations with the Federation of its trade, the _Bourse du Travail_, and
the General Confederation. With the National Federation relations will
be mainly technical and special, and the rôle of the Federation will be
insignificant. With the General Confederation relations will be indirect
and mainly by mediation of the _Bourse du Travail_. Relations with the
latter will be of permanent importance, as the _Bourses du Travail_ will
be the centers of economic activity.

The _Bourse du Travail_--in the ideal system of the syndicalists--will
concentrate all local interests and serve as a connecting link between a
locality and the rest of the world. In its capacity as local center it
will collect all statistical data necessary for the regular flow of
economic life. It will keep itself informed on the necessities of the
locality and on its resources, and will provide for the proper
distribution of products; as intermediary between the locality and the
rest of the country it will facilitate the exchange of products between
locality and locality and will provide for the introduction of raw
materials from outside.

In a word, the Bourse will combine in its organization the character
both of local and of industrial autonomy. It will destroy the
centralized political system of the present State and will
counter-balance the centralizing tendencies of industry.

To the General Confederation will be left only services of national
importance, railways for instance. However, even in the management of
national public utilities the National Federation and the Bourses will
have the first word. The function of the General Confederation will
consist mainly in furnishing general information and in exerting a
controlling influence. The General Confederation will also serve as
intermediary in international relations.

In this social system the State as now constituted will have no place.
Of course, one may call the ideal system of the syndicalists a State.
All depends on the definition given to the term. But when the
syndicalists speak of the State, they mean an organization of society in
which a delegated minority centralizes in its hands the power of
legislation on all matters. This power may be broken up and divided
among a number of governing bodies, as in the federal system of the
United States, but it does not thereby change its character. The
essential characteristic of the State is to impose its rule _from
without_. The legislative assemblies of the present State decide upon
questions that are entirely foreign to them, with which they have no
real connection in life and which they do not understand. The rules they
prescribe, the discipline they impose, come as an external agency to
intervene in the processes of social life. The State is, therefore,
arbitrary and oppressive in its very nature.

To this State-action the syndicalists oppose a discipline coming _from
within_, a rule suggested by the processes of collective life itself,
and imposed by those whose function it is to carry on those processes.
It is, as it were, a specialization of function carried over into the
domain of public life and made dependent upon industrial specialization.
No one should legislate on matters unless he has the necessary training.
The syndicats, the delegates of the syndicats to the _Bourses du
Travail_, and so on, only they can properly deal with their respective
problems. The rules they would impose would follow from a knowledge of
the conditions of their social functions and would be, so to speak, a
"natural" discipline made inevitable by the conditions themselves.
Besides, many of the functions of the existing State would be abolished
as unnecessary in a society based on common ownership, on co-operative
work, and on collective solidarity. The necessary functions of local
administration would be carried on by the _Bourses du Travail_.

In recent years, however, revolutionary syndicalists have not expatiated
upon the forms of the future society. Convinced that the social
transformation is inevitable, they have not thought it necessary to have
any ready-made model upon the lines of which the social organization of
the future should be carved. The revolutionary classes of the past had
no idea of the new social system they were struggling for, and no
ready-made plan is necessary for the working-class. Prepared by all
preliminary struggle, the workingmen will find in themselves, when the
time comes, sufficient creative power to remake society. The lines of
the future, however, are indicated in a general way by the development
of the present, and the syndicalist movement is clearly paving the way
for an "economic federalism".

The workingmen are being prepared for their future rôle by the
experiences of syndicalist life. The very struggle which the syndicats
carry on trains the workingmen in solidarity, in voluntary discipline, in
power and determination to resist oppression, and in other moral
qualities which group life requires. Moreover, the syndicats,
particularly the _Bourses du Travail_, are centers where educational
activities are carried on. Related to the facts of life and to the
concrete problems of the day, this educational work, in the form of
regular courses, lectures, readings, etc., is devised to develop the
intellectual capacities of the workingmen.

The struggle of the present and the combat of the future imply the
initiative, the example and the leadership of a conscious and energetic
minority ardently devoted to the interests of its class. The experience
of the labor movement has proven this beyond all doubt. The mass of
workingmen, like every large mass, is inert. It needs an impelling force
to set it in motion and to put to work its tremendous potential energy.
Every strike, every labor demonstration, every movement of the
working-class is generally started by an active and daring minority
which voices the sentiments of the class to which it belongs.

The conscious minority, however, can act only by carrying with it the
mass, and by making the latter participate directly in the struggle. The
action of the conscious minority is, therefore, just the opposite of the
action of parliamentary representatives. The latter are bent on doing
everything themselves, on controlling absolutely the affairs of the
country, and are, therefore, anxious, to keep the masses as quiet, as
inactive and as submissive as possible. The conscious minority, on the
contrary, is simply the advance-guard of its class; it cannot succeed,
unless backed by the solid forces of the masses; the awareness, the
readiness and the energy of the latter are indispensable conditions of
success and must be kept up by all means.

The idea of the "conscious minority" is opposed to the democratic
principle. Democracy is based upon majority-rule, and its method of
determining the general will is universal suffrage. But experience has
shown that the "general will" is a fiction and that majority-rule really
becomes the domination of a minority--which can impose itself upon all
and exploit the majority in its own interests. This is inevitably so,
because universal suffrage is a clumsy, mechanical device, which brings
together a number of disconnected units and makes them act without
proper understanding of the thing they are about. The effect of
political majorities when they do make themselves felt is to hinder
advance and to suppress the progressive, active and more developed
minorities.

The practice of the labor movement is necessarily the reverse of this.
The syndicats do not arise out of universal suffrage and are not the
representatives of the majority in the democratic sense of the term.
They group but a minority of all workingmen and can hardly expect ever
to embrace the totality or even the majority of the latter. The
syndicats arise through a process of selection. The more sensitive, the
intellectually more able, the more active workingmen come together and
constitute themselves a syndicat. They begin to discuss the affairs of
their trade. When determined to obtain its demands, the syndicat enters
into a struggle, without at first finding out the "general will." It
assumes leadership and expects to be followed, because it is convinced
that it expresses the feelings of all. The syndicat constitutes the
leading conscious minority.

The syndicat obtains better conditions not for its members alone, but
for all the members of the trade and often for all the workingmen of a
locality or of the country. This justifies its self-assumed leadership,
because it is not struggling for selfish ends, but for the interests of
all. Besides, the syndicat is not a medieval guild and is open to all.
If the general mass of workingmen do not enter the syndicats, they
themselves renounce the right of determining conditions for the latter.
Benefiting by the struggles of the minority, they cannot but submit to
its initiative and leadership.

The syndicat, therefore, is not to be compared with "cliques," "rings,"
"political machines," and the like. The syndicat, it must be remembered,
is a group of individuals belonging to the same trade. By this very
economic situation, the members of a syndicat are bound by ties of
common interest with the rest of their fellow-workingmen. A sense of
solidarity and an altruistic feeling of devotion to community interests
must necessarily arise in the syndicat which is placed in the front
ranks of the struggling workingmen. The leadership of the syndicalist
minority, therefore, is necessarily disinterested and beneficent and is
followed voluntarily by the workingmen.

Thus, grouping the active and conscious minority the syndicats lead the
workingmen as a class in the struggle for final emancipation. Gradually
undermining the foundations of existing society, they are developing
within the framework of the old the elements of a new society, and when
this process shall have sufficiently advanced, the workingmen rising in
the general strike will sweep away the undermined edifice and erect the
new society born from their own midst.



CHAPTER VI

THE THEORISTS OF REVOLUTIONARY SYNDICALISM


The writers who have contributed to the development of revolutionary
syndicalism may be divided into two groups. One comprises men who, like
Pelloutier, Pouget, Griffuelhes, Delesalle, Niel, Yvetot and others,
either belong to the working-class, or have completely identified
themselves with the workingmen. The other consists of a number of
"intellectuals" who stand outside of the syndicalist movement.

The members of the first group have played the leading part in building
up the syndicalist movement. Pelloutier was secretary of the Federation
of Bourses from 1894 to 1901; Griffuelhes was secretary of the General
Confederation of Labor from 1901 to 1908; Pouget was assistant secretary
of the Confederation and editor of the _Voix du Peuple_ from 1900 to
1908; Yvetot has been one of the secretaries of the Confederation since
1902; Niel was secretary of the General Confederation for a short time
in 1909, and the others now occupy or have occupied prominent places in
the syndicalist organizations.

The close connection of the members of this group with the syndicalist
movement and with the General Confederation of Labor has had its
influence upon their writings. Their ideas have been stimulated by close
observation of the facts of syndicalist life, and the course of their
thought has been determined largely by the struggles of the day. There
is a stronger emphasis in their writings upon methods, upon "direct
action," and upon relations to other existing groups. There is less
speculation and pure theorizing. In other respects the men of this group
differ. They have come from different political groupings: Pouget and
Yvetot, for instance, from the Communist-Anarchists; Griffuelhes from
the Allemanists. They have different views on the relation of
revolutionary syndicalism to other social theories, differences which
will be brought out further on.

The second group of writers, the so-called "intellectuals" outside the
syndicalist movement, have grouped themselves about the monthly _Le
Mouvement Socialiste_, started in 1899 by M. Hubert Lagardelle, a member
of the Socialist Party, and about the weekly _La Guerre Sociale_, of
which Gustave Hervé is editor. _Le Mouvement Socialiste_ was at first a
Socialist monthly review, but accentuated its sympathy for the
syndicalists as time went on, and became an expressly revolutionary
syndicalist organ in 1904. The _Mouvement Socialiste_ counted among its
constant contributors down to 1910 M. Georges Sorel and Edouard Berth.
These three writers, Sorel, Lagardelle, and Berth, have tried to
systematize the ideas of revolutionary syndicalism and to put them on a
philosophical and sociological basis. The most prolific of them and the
one who has been proclaimed "the most profound thinker of the new
school" is M. Georges Sorel.

M. Georges Sorel has written on various subjects. Among the works from
his pen are volumes on Socrates, on _The Historical System of Renan_, on
_The Ruin of the Ancient World_, a number of articles on ethics and on
various other topics. The works that bear on revolutionary syndicalism
which alone can be here considered, are: _L'Avenir Socialiste des
Syndicats_, _La Décomposition du Marxisme_, _Introduction à l'Économie
Moderne_, _Les Illusions du Progrès_, _Réflexions sur la Violence_, and
a number of articles in various periodicals.

The works of M. Sorel on revolutionary syndicalism stretch over a period
of ten to twelve years: _The Socialist Future of the Syndicats_ was
written in 1897; the second edition of his _Reflections on Violence_
appeared in 1910. Within this period of time the thought of M. Sorel has
not only steadily developed in scope but has also changed in many
essential points. It would require a separate study to point out the
changes and their significance. This is out of the question in this
study. The salient points only of M. Sorel's theories will be treated
here, therefore, without consideration of their place in the
intellectual history of their author.

M. Sorel has attached his theories to the ideas of Marx. Revolutionary
syndicalism is to M. Sorel but the revival and further development of
the fundamental ideas of Marx. The "new school" considers itself,
therefore, "neo-Marxist," true to "the spirit" of Marx[154] though
rejecting the current interpretations of Marx and completing the lacunae
which it finds in Marx. This work of revision it considers indispensable
because, on the one hand, Marx was not always "well inspired,"[155] and
often harked back to the past instead of penetrating into the future;
and because, on the other hand, Marx did not know all the facts that
have now become known; Marx knew well the development of the
bourgeoisie, but could not know the development of the labor movement
which has become such a tremendous factor in social life.[156]

[154] G. Sorel, _L'Avenir Socialiste des Syndicats_ (Paris, 1901), p. 3.

[155] G. Sorel, _Réflexions sur la Violence_ (Paris, 1910), p. 249.

[156] _Ibid._, p. 246.

The "new school" does not consider itself by any means bound to admire
"the illusions, the faults, the errors of him who has done so much to
elaborate the revolutionary ideas."[157] What it retains of Marx is his
essential and fruitful idea of social evolution, namely, that the
development of each social system furnishes the material conditions for
effective and durable changes in the social relations within which a new
system begins its development.[158] Accordingly, Socialists must drop
all utopian ideas: they must understand that Socialism is to be
developed gradually in the bosom of capitalism itself and is to be
liberated from within capitalistic surroundings only when the time is
ripe.

[157] G. Sorel, _Réflexions sur la Violence_ (Paris, 1910), p. 249.

[158] G. Sorel, _L'Avenir Socialiste des Syndicats_, pp. 3-4.

The ripening of socialism within capitalism does not mean merely
technical development. This is indispensable of course: socialism can be
only an economic system based on highly developed and continually
progressing productive forces; but this is one aspect of the case only.
The other, a no less if not more important aspect, is the development of
new moral forces within the old system; that is, the political,
juridical and moral development of the working-class,[159] of that class
which alone can establish a socialist society.

[159] _Ibid._, p. 39.

This was also the idea of Marx: "Marx also saw that the workingmen must
acquire political and juridical capacity before they can triumph."[160]
The revolution which the working-class is pursuing is not a simple
change in the personnel or in the form of the government; it is a
complete overthrow of the "traditional State" which is to be replaced by
the workingmen's organizations. Such a complete transformation
presupposes "high moral culture" in the workingmen and a capacity for
directing the economic functions of society. The social revolution will
thus come only when the workingmen are "ready" for it, that is, when
they feel that they can assume the direction of society. The "moral"
education of the working-class, therefore, is the essential thing;
Socialism will not have to "organize labor", because capitalism will
have accomplished this work before. But in order that the working-class
should be able to behave like "free men" in the "workshop created by
capitalism",[161] they must have developed the necessary capacities.
Socialism, therefore, reduces itself "to the revolutionary
apprenticeship"[162] of the workingmen; "to teaching the workingmen to
will, to instructing them by action, and to revealing to them their
proper capacities; such is the whole secret of the socialist education
of the people."[163]

[160] _Ibid._, p. 4.

[161] G. Sorel, _Réflexions sur la Violence_, pp. 289-5.

[162] _Ibid._, p. 42.

[163] G. Sorel, _Preface_ to Pelloutier's _Histoire des Bourses du
Travail_.

The workingmen can find the moral training necessary for the triumph of
socialism only in the syndicats and in the experience of syndical life.
The syndicats develop the administrative and organizing capacities of
the workingmen. In the syndicats the workingmen learn to do their
business themselves and to reject the dictatorship of "intellectuals"
who have conquered the field of politics which they have made to serve
their ambitions.

The greatest organizing and educating force created by the syndicalist
movement is the idea of the general strike. The general strike means a
complete and "absolute" revolution. It is the idea of a decisive battle
between the bourgeoisie and the working-class assuring the triumph of
the latter. This idea is a "social myth" and hence its tremendous
historic force.

"Social myths" always arise during great social movements. The men who
participate in great social movements, represent to themselves their
actions in the near future in the form of images of battles assuring the
triumph of their cause. These images are "myths." The images of the
early Christians on the coming of Christ and on the ruin of the pagan
world are an illustration of a "social myth." The period of the
Reformation saw the rise of "social myths," because the conditions were
such as to make it necessary for the "men of heart" who were inspired by
"the will of deliverance" to create "images" which satisfying their
"sentiments of struggle" kept up their zeal and their devotion.

The "social myth" presupposes a social group which harbors an intense
desire of deliverance, which feels all the difficulties in its way and
which finds deep satisfaction in picturing to itself its future
struggles and future triumph. Such images must not and cannot be
analyzed like a thing; they must be taken _en bloc_, and it is
particularly necessary to avoid comparing the real historic facts with
the representations which were in circulation before the facts took
place.

"Myths" are indispensable for a revolutionary movement; they concentrate
the force of the rising class and intensify it to the point of action.
No myth can possibly be free from utopian conceptions. But the utopian
elements are not essential. The essentials are the hope back of the
myth, the ideal strengthened by the myth, and the impatience of
deliverance embodied in the myth.

The general strike is the "social myth" of the working-class longing for
emancipation. It is the expression of the convictions of the
working-class "in the language of movement," the supreme concentration
of the desires, the hopes, and the ideals of the working-class. Its
importance for the future of Socialism, therefore, is paramount. The
idea of the general strike keeps alive and fortifies in the workingmen
their class-consciousness and revolutionary feelings. Every strike on
account of it assumes the character of a skirmish before the great
decisive battle which is to come. Owing to the general strike idea,
"socialism remains ever young, the attempts made to realize social peace
seem childish, the desertion of comrades who run over into the ranks of
the bourgeoisie, far from discouraging the masses, excites them still
more to revolt; in a word, the rupture (between bourgeoisie and
working-class) is never in danger of disappearing."[164]

[164] G. Sorel, _Réflexions sur la Violence_, p. 179.

This rupture is an indispensable condition of Socialism. Socialism
cannot be the continuation of democracy; it must be, if it can be at
all, a totally "new culture" built upon ideas and institutions totally
different from the ideas and from the institutions of democracy.
Socialism must have its own economic, judicial, political and moral
institutions evolved by the working-class independently from those of
the bourgeoisie, and not in imitation of the latter.

Sorel is bitter in his criticism of democracy; it is, in his view, the
régime _par excellence_ in which men are governed "by the magical power
of high-sounding words rather than by ideas; by formulas rather than by
reasons; by dogmas the origin of which nobody cares to find out, rather
than by doctrines based on observation."[165] It is the kingdom of the
professionals of politics, over whom the people can have no control.
Sorel thinks that even the spread of knowledge does not render the
masses more capable of choosing and of supervising their so-called
representatives and that the further society advances in the path of
democracy, the less effective does control by the people become.[166]
The whole system of democracy, in the opinion of M. Sorel, is based on
the "fiction of the general will" and is maintained by a mechanism
(campaigning, elections, etc.) which can result only in demoralization.
It delivers the country into the hands of "charlatans," of
office-seekers and of idle talkers who may assume the air of great men,
but who are never fit for their task.

[165] G. Sorel, _Illusions du Progrès_ (Paris, 1911), p. 10.

[166] G. Sorel, _Illusions du Progrès_, p. 59.

The working-class must, therefore, break entirely with democracy and
evolve from within itself its own ideas and original institutions. This
complete rupture between the ideas of the past and those of the future
contradicts the conception of progress now in vogue. But the conception
of progress is rather a deception than a conception. As held to-day, it
is full of illusions, of errors, and of misconceptions. The idea of
progress is characteristic of democracy and is cherished by the
bourgeois classes because it permits them to enjoy their privileges in
peace. Lulled by the optimistic illusion that everything is for the best
in this best of all worlds, the privileged classes can peacefully and
hopefully pass by the misery and the disorders of existing society. This
conception of progress, like all other ideas of democracy, was evolved
by the rising middle classes of the eighteenth century, mainly by the
functionaries of royalty who furnished the theoretical guides of the
Revolution. But, in truth, the only real progress is the development of
industrial technique[167]--the constant invention of machinery and the
increase of productive forces. The latter create the material
conditions out of which a new culture arises, completely breaking with
the culture of the past.

[167] _Ibid._, p. 276.

One of the factors promoting the development of productive forces is
"proletarian violence." This violence is not to be thought of after the
model of the "Reign of Terror" which was the creation of the
bourgeoisie. "Proletarian violence" does not mean that there should be a
"great development of brutality" or that "blood should be shed in
torrents" (_versé à flots_).[168] It means that the workingmen in their
struggle must manifest their force so as to intimidate the employers; it
means that "the social conflicts must assume the character of pure
struggles similar to those of armies in a campaign."[169] Such violence
will show the capitalist class that all their efforts to establish
social peace are useless; the capitalists will then turn to their
economic interests exclusively; the type of a forceful, energetic
"captain of industry" will be the result, and all the possibilities of
capitalism will be developed.

[168] G. Sorel, _Réflexions sur la Violence_, pp. 256-7.

[169] _Ibid._, p. 150.

On the other hand, violence stimulates ever anew the class-feelings of
the workingmen and their sentiments of the sublime mission which history
has imposed upon them. It is necessary that the revolutionary
syndicalists should feel that they are fulfiling the great and sublime
mission of renovating the world; this is their only compensation for all
their struggles and sufferings. The feelings of sublimity and enthusiasm
have disappeared from the bourgeois-world, and their absence has
contributed to the decadence of the bourgeoisie. The working-class is
again introducing these feelings by incorporating them in the idea of
the general strike, and is, therefore, making possible a moral
rejuvenation of the world.

All these ideas may seem tinged with pessimism. But "nothing very great
(_très haut_) has been accomplished in this world" without
pessimism.[170] Pessimism is a "metaphysics of morals" rather than a
theory of the world; it is a conception of "a march towards deliverance"
and presupposes an experimental knowledge of the obstacles in the way of
our imaginings or in other words "a sentiment of social determinism" and
a feeling of our human weakness.[171] The pessimist "regards social
conditions as forming a system enchained by an iron law, the necessity
of which must be submitted to as it is given _en bloc_, and which can
disappear only after a catastrophe involving the whole."[172] This
catastrophic character the general strike has and must have, if it is to
retain its profound significance.

[170] G. Sorel, _Réflexions sur la Violence_, p. 8.

[171] _Ibid._, p. 12.

[172] _Ibid._, p. 13.

The catastrophic character of the general strike enhances its moral
value. The workingmen are stimulated by it to prepare themselves for the
final combat by a moral effort over themselves. But only in such unique
moments of life when "we make an effort to create a new man within
ourselves" "do we take possession of ourselves" and become free in the
Bergsonian sense of the term. The general strike, therefore, raises
socialism to the rôle of the greatest moral factor of our time.

Thus, M. Sorel having started out with Marx winds up with Bergson. The
attempt to connect his views with the philosophy of Bergson has been
made by M. Sorel in all his later works. But all along M. Sorel claims
to be "true to the spirit of Marx" and tries to prove this by various
quotations from the works of Marx. It is doubtful, however, whether
there is an affinity between the "spirit" of Marx and that of Professor
Bergson. It appears rather that M. Sorel has tacitly assumed this
affinity because he interprets the "spirit" of Marx in a peculiar and
arbitrary way.

Without any pretense of doing full justice to the subject, three
essential points may be indicated which perhaps sufficiently prove that
"neo-Marxism" has drifted so far away from Marx as to lose touch with
his "spirit." These three points bear upon the very kernel of Marxism:
its conception of determinism, its intellectualism, and its emphasis on
the technical factors of social evolution.

The Marxian conception of social determinism is well known. The social
process was thought of by Marx as rigidly "necessary," as an organic,
almost as a mechanical process. The impression of social necessity one
gets in reading Marx is so strong as to convey the feeling of being
carried on by an irresistible process to a definite social end.

In M. Sorel's works, on the contrary, social determinism is a word
merely, the concept back of it is not assimilated. M. Sorel speaks of
the general strike and of Socialism as of possibilities or
probabilities, not of necessities. In reading him, one feels that M.
Sorel himself never felt the irresistible character of the logical
category of necessity.

The difference in the second point follows from the difference in the
first. Marx never doubted the possibility of revealing the secret of the
social process. Trained in the "panlogistic school," Marx always tacitly
assumed that socialism could be scientific, that the procedure of
science could prove the necessity of social evolution going in one
direction and not in any other. It was the glory of having given this
proof which he claimed for himself and which has been claimed for him
by his disciples.

M. Sorel is expressly not "true to the spirit" of Marx in this point.
"Science has no way of foreseeing,"[173] says he. His works are full of
diatribes against the pretention of science to explain everything. He
attributes a large rôle to the unclear, to the subconscious and to the
mystical in all social phenomena. A sentence like the following may
serve to illustrate this point. Says M. Sorel:

[173] G. Sorel, _L'Avenir Socialiste des Syndicats_, p. 54.

     Socialism is necessarily a very obscure thing, because it treats of
     production--that is, of what is most mysterious in human
     activity--and because it proposes to realize a radical
     transformation in this region which it is impossible to describe
     with the clearness which is found in the superficial regions of the
     world. No effort of thought, no progress of knowledge, no
     reasonable induction will ever be able to dispel the mystery which
     envelops Socialism.[174]

[174] G. Sorel, _Réflexions sur la Violence_, pp. 201-2.

This, according to Sorel, is just what "Marxism has recognized": M.
Sorel, certainly, "knows his Marx."

In the third point, M. Sorel "the revolutionary revisionist," comes very
close to M. Bernstein, "the evolutionary revisionist." The coming of
Socialism is made independent of those technical and economic processes
which Marx so much emphasized. The conceptions of the concentration of
capital, of proletarization, etc., are given up. On the contrary,
Socialism is to be prepared by the "revolutionary apprenticeship" of the
working-class, an apprenticeship to be made in action and under the
influence of a "social myth" created by imagination spurred on by the
subconscious will. There certainly are pronounced voluntaristic elements
in Marx, but this whole conception of M. Sorel seems to attribute to
Marx a "spirit" by no means in harmony with his make-up.

Though claiming to be a disciple of Marx, M. Sorel seems to be more in
harmony with Proudhon whose works he often quotes and whose views,
particularly on morals, he accepts. But besides Proudhon many other
writers have had a considerable influence on M. Sorel. Besides Bergson,
already mentioned, Renan and Nietzsche, to quote but two, have had their
share of influence in many of the ideas expressed by M. Sorel. M. Sorel
has an essentially mobile mind quick to catch an idea and to give it a
somewhat new and original turn. He lacks the ability of systematizing
his views and his reader must have considerable patience with him. The
systematic way in which his views have been given in this chapter is
rather misleading; M. Sorel himself proceeds in a quite different way;
he deals with an idea for a while but is led away into digression after
digression, to pick up the thread of his previous argument tens of pages
later.

Lack of system makes it easier for contradictions to live together
without detection. It also predisposes a writer to assimilate and to
transform any ideas he may meet. With Sorel this is evidently so, though
his main claim is "profundity." The pages of his work bristle with the
word _approfondir_ which is so often repeated that it makes the poor
reader dizzy. The disappointment is sharp, because M. Sorel soon loses
the thread of his thought before having had time to fathom his subject.
His works, however, savor of freshness of thought and of originality.

Quite a different writer is M. Lagardelle. His exposition is regular,
systematic, fluent, and clear. While Sorel is mainly interested in the
philosophical aspect of his problems and has been called, probably
sarcastically, by M. Jaurès "the metaphysician of revolutionary
syndicalism," M. Lagardelle considers the economic and political aspects
of the new doctrine. His works need not be dwelt upon because his ideas
do not differ essentially from those of M. Sorel. Two points, however,
may be singled out; M. Lagardelle, though criticizing democracy, is
careful to point out that Socialism has been made possible by democracy
and that no return to ancient political forms is desired; secondly, he
allows a place for the political [socialist] party in the general social
system; its rôle is to attend to those problems which are not entirely
included within the domain of industrial activities.[175]

[175] H. Lagardelle, _Le Socialisme Ouvrier_ (Paris, 1911).

While the "Mouvement Socialiste" devoted its attention mainly to the
philosophical and sociological aspects of syndicalism, the weekly _La
Guerre Sociale_ took up questions of policy and method, particularly the
questions of anti-militarism and anti-patriotism. Gustave Hervé, the
editor of the paper, attracted widespread attention by his attacks on
the army and on the idea of patriotism, and became the _enfant terrible_
of the French socialist movement because of his violent utterances on
these questions. On other questions of method, M. Hervé was no less
violent being a disciple of the Blanquists who believed in the efficacy
of all revolutionary methods including the general strike. However, the
theoretical contributions of M. Hervé to the philosophy of the movement
are slight.

Now, what are the relations of the two groups of writers described in
this chapter and what part has each played in the history of the
movement? These questions must be carefully considered if a correct
understanding of revolutionary syndicalism is desired.

The view which prevailed outside of France is that M. Sorel and his
disciples "created" the theory of revolutionary socialism in opposition
to the parliamentary socialists, and that they have been able to impress
their ideas upon a larger or smaller portion of the organized French
workingmen. This view was first presented by Professor W. Sombart in his
well-known work on _Socialism and the Social Movement_, and has made its
way into other writings on revolutionary syndicalism. M. Sorel is often
spoken of as the "leader" of the revolutionary syndicalists, and the
whole movement is regarded as a form of Marxian revisionism.

This view, however, is a "myth" and should be discarded. French writers
who have studied the social movement of their country and who are
competent judges have tried to dispel the error that has gotten
abroad.[176] The theorists of the _Mouvement Socialiste_ themselves have
repeatedly declined the "honor" which error has conferred upon them. M.
Lagardelle has reiterated time and again that revolutionary syndicalism
was born of the experience of the labor movement and worked out by the
workingmen themselves. M. Sorel has said that he learned more from the
syndicalist workingmen than they could learn from him. And in an article
reviewing the book of Professor Sombart, M. Berth has insisted that
Professor Sombart was in error. "If we had any part," wrote he, "it was
the simple part of interpreters, of translators, of glossers; we have
served as spokesmen, that's all; but it is necessary to avoid reducing
to a few propositions of a school, a movement which is so essentially
working-class and the leading ideas of which, such as direct action and
the general strike, are so specifically of a working-class
character."[177]

[176] See articles of Lagardelle, G. Weil and Cornelissen in the _Archiv
für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik_, 1907-1910.

[177] _Le Mouvement Socialiste_ (May, 1908), p. 390.

This must not be taken as over-modesty on the part of "intellectuals"
who are careful not to pose as leaders or as inspirers. The facts are
there to prove the statements of M. Lagardelle and of M. Sorel. The idea
of the general strike was elaborated by workingmen-members of the
various committees on the general strike. The idea of "direct action,"
as has been shown, found its defenders in the first Congresses of the
General Confederation of Labor. The theory of the social rôle of the
syndicat was formulated by Pelloutier and by other members of the
"Federation of Bourses" before M. Sorel wrote his little book on _The
Socialist Future of the Syndicats_.

Even the statement of M. Berth must be somewhat modified. The theorists
of the _Mouvement Socialiste_ have never by any means been the
authorized "spokesmen" of the revolutionary syndicalists of the General
Confederation. They were no more than a group of writers who, watching
the syndicalist movement from the outside, were stimulated by it to
their reflections and ideas. They thought they found in the syndicalist
movement "a truly original force capable of refreshing the socialist
conception", and they formulated their ideas on the subject. They never
took any part in the movement, and could not feel themselves its
representatives.

What then was their influence? In general, the same as that of other
socialist writers. They were and are read by the French workingmen just
as Kropotkin, Jaurès, Proudhon and other contemporary or former
socialist and anarchist writers, and as many non-socialist writers are.
Naturally, some workingmen came more under their influence, than under
that of others; and such workingmen may be disposed to look upon them as
their theoretical guides and leaders.

But even the latter interpretation is by no means applicable to all the
theories of M. Sorel, for the main ideas of Sorel seem fundamentally
incapable of inspiring a movement of large masses. The theory of the
"social myth" may be original and attractive, but if accepted by the
workingmen could not inspire them to action. If "images of battles" are
important for the "rising classes" as an impelling force, they can be so
only so long as they are naïvely and fully believed in. The worm of
reflection must not touch them. The "men longing for deliverance" must
believe that the future will be just as they picture it, otherwise their
enthusiasm for these pictures would find no nourishment. Should they
come to realize the "utopian" and "mythical" character of their
constructions they would abandon them.

The pessimistic basis of M. Sorel's _Weltanschauung_ may appeal to
literary men, to students of philosophy and to individuals longing for a
moral theory. It can not be assimilated by a mass "moving toward
emancipation." When one reads the original documents of the syndicalist
movement, he is struck, on the contrary, by the powerful torrent of
optimism by which the movement is carried along. Only a strong belief in
a "speedy emancipation" created the enthusiasm for the idea of the
general strike. There may be a subconscious pessimism back of this
optimism, but its appearance in the field of clear consciousness would
have been destructive for the movement.

It is, therefore, quite natural that the writers representing the
General Confederation of Labor who address the workingmen directly do
not reproduce these theories of M. Sorel. As has been indicated already,
their writings bear a different stamp. And if among these writers some,
as for instance M. Griffuelhes, seem to have come more under the
influence of the group _Le Mouvement Socialiste_, the rest occupy an
independent position even from the theoretical point of view.

How little M. Sorel could have been the "leader" of the revolutionary
syndicalist movement may be illustrated by the following comparison. At
the Congress of Lyons in 1901 the secretary of the General Confederation
of Labor, M. Guérard, wrote, as we have seen, that the Confederation is
destined to transform society. In the same year, M. Sorel, in his
preface to Pelloutier's _Histoire des Bourses du Travail_, wrote: "The
Confederation of Labor appears to me to be destined to become an
officious Council of Labor, and an academy of proletarian ideas, which
will present its wishes to the government, as the large agricultural
societies do." The history of the General Confederation of Labor since
1902, to be considered in the following chapter, will show that M. Sorel
missed the point too far to be able to claim the title of "leader" whose
function, presumably, is to point out the way and not to acknowledge it,
after it has once been taken.

It is necessary to bear all this in mind in order to grasp the real
character of revolutionary syndicalism. M. Sorel has recently renounced
his revolutionary syndicalist ideas. In December, 1910, he wrote to the
Italian revolutionary syndicalists who invited him to their Congress at
Boulogne:

     It seems to the author [of the _Reflections on Violence_] that
     syndicalism has not realized what was expected from it. Many hope
     that the future will correct the evils of the present hour; but the
     author feels himself too old to live in distant hopes; and he has
     decided to employ the remaining years of his life in the deepening
     (_approfondir_) of other questions which keenly interest the
     cultivated youth of France.[178]

[178] _Le Mouvement Socialiste_ (March, 1911), pp. 184-5.

Previous to that, M. Sorel and M. Berth had both promised collaboration
in a so-called neo-monarchist monthly, _La Cité Française_, which,
however, did not see the light. This probably seemed to them natural in
view of their opposition to democracy. But under the political
conditions of France such an act could not but shock the workingmen who
may criticise democracy but who are bitterly opposed to everything
connected with the _ancien régime_. This act of M. Sorel and M. Berth
weakened the group of _Le Mouvement Socialiste_ which, however, is still
published by M. Lagardelle, though with less force and _éclat_ than
before. The act of M. Sorel, however, could have no perceptible
significance for the revolutionary syndicalist movement. The latter is
led by other leaders and is determined in its march by other influences.

The revolutionary syndicalist ideas embodied in the movement represented
by the General Confederation of Labor were evolved, as has been shown,
in the syndicalist organizations of France. The Anarchists entering the
syndicats largely contributed to the revolutionary turn which the
syndicats took. Their influence, hailed by some, deplored by others, is
recognized by all. The Anarchists themselves often speak as if they
"created" the entire movement, though this is an exaggeration. The rôle
of the Allemanists has been considerable, as was shown in the preceding
chapters. And the more definite formulation of revolutionary
syndicalist ideas in the period of "Millerandism" was the work of
revolutionary socialist workingmen of all brands--Allemanists,
Anarchists, Blanquists and others.

This clears up the question of the relation of revolutionary syndicalism
to other social theories. The theorists of the _Mouvement Socialiste_
have proclaimed revolutionary syndicalism as a new social theory. They
have been very persistent in trying to delimit their theoretical
dominion from parliamentary socialism on the one hand, and from
Anarchism on the other. From the latter particularly they wished to be
separated, feeling as they did how dangerously close they came to it.
Many workingmen have accepted this view, proud to proclaim that they
have evolved a theory of their own--the theory of the working-class.

Others, however, have taken the correct point of view. They see that the
main ideas of revolutionary syndicalism cannot be said to be new. They
may all be found in the old "International Association of Workingmen,"
and especially in the writings of the Bakounist or federalist wing of
that Association. If not the terms, the ideas on direct action, on the
general strike, on the social rôle of the syndicat, and on the future
"economic federalism" may all be found there more or less clearly
stated.[179]

[179] J. Guillaume, _L'Internationale_, vols. i-iii; also Report of 7th
Congress of "International" in Brussels in 1874.

Revolutionary syndicalism appears then, from this point of view not as a
new theory, but as a return to the old theories of the "International"
in which the combined influence of Proudhon, Marx and Bakounin
manifested itself. The formulation of revolutionary syndicalism,
however, is not to any great degree a conscious return to old ideas,
though this conscious factor had its part; Pelloutier, for instance,
was expressly guided by the conceptions of Proudhon and Bakounin.
References to the "International" are also frequent in the discussions
of the Congresses of the General Confederation. The more important
factors, however, were the conditions of the French syndical movement
itself. The workingmen of different socialist groups meeting on the
common ground of the syndicat had to attenuate their differences and to
emphasize their common points. Thus, by a process of elimination and of
mutual influence a common stock of ideas was elaborated which, absorbing
the quintessence of all socialist theories, became what is known as
revolutionary syndicalism. Its similarity to the ideas of the
"International" is partly due to the fact that in the "International"
similar conditions existed.

Mainly worked out in the practice of the syndicalist movement, the ideas
of revolutionary syndicalism are also mainly determined in their further
evolution by this practice. The ideas, therefore, must be judged in
connection with the conditions in which they developed. These conditions
will be further described in the following chapters.



CHAPTER VII

THE GENERAL CONFEDERATION OF LABOR SINCE 1902


Before taking up the history of the Confederation after 1902, a general
outline of the constitution adopted at Montpellier must be given. Passim
will be indicated the changes that have been made since.

The General Confederation of Labor consists of National Federations of
industries and trades,[180] of National Syndicats, of isolated single
syndicats (in that case only if there is no national or regional
federation of the trade, or if the federation does not adhere to the
Confederation), and of _Bourses du Travail_, considered as local,
departmental or regional central unions.[181]

[180] In 1906 the statutes were so modified as to admit no new trade
federations. This was a decided step in the direction of the industrial
form of organization.

[181] At the last congress of the Confederation which was held in Havre
in September, 1912, a resolution was passed that the Bourses du Travail
in each Department of France should form Departmental Unions (Unions
Departmentales), and that on January 1, 1914, these Departmental Unions
should take the place of the Bourses du Travail in the organization of
the Confederation. The resolution has not yet been fully carried into
effect, and the process of reorganization is still going on. When it is
completed, the General Confederation of Labor will emerge with a more
compact and centralized form of organization embracing Federations of
industry, on the one hand, and Departmental Unions, on the other. The
single Bourses will not disappear, and their functions will not be
curtailed; but they will henceforth form the constituent elements of the
more comprehensive Departmental Unions and will have no individual
representation in the Confederal Committee. The reorganization was made
necessary by the rapid growth of Bourses du Travail, the number of
which far outstripped the number of Federations of industry and which
thus controlled the policies of the Confederal Committee. The number of
the Departmental Unions can not exceed eighty-seven (87), as there are
but eighty-seven political subdivisions in France called Departments.

Every syndicat adhering to the Confederation must fulfil the condition
of so-called "double adherence;" that is, it must belong to its national
federation of industry or trade, and to the _Bourse du Travail_ of its
locality. Besides, every federation must have at least one subscription
to the _Voix du Peuple_, which is the official organ of the
Confederation. These conditions, however, were, and still are
disregarded by a considerable number of syndicats.[182]

[182] E. Pouget, _Le Confédération Générale du Travail_ (Paris, 1908),
p. 16.

The General Confederation is represented by the Confederal Committee
which is formed by delegates of the adhering organizations. Each
organization is represented by one delegate in the Confederal Committee.
This point should be noticed as it is the cause of struggle within the
Confederation. It means that a large Federation has only one delegate
and one vote in the Confederal Committee, just as another smaller
Federation. The number of delegates in the Confederal Committee,
however, is not always equal to the number of adhering organizations,
because one delegate may represent as many as three organizations. The
delegates must be workingmen who have been members of their syndicat for
at least a year.

The General Confederation has five central organs; two sections and
three commissions. The first section is called: "The Section of
Federations of trades and of industries and of isolated syndicats;" the
second is "The Section of the Federation of _Bourses du Travail_."[183]
The three commissions are (1) the Commission of the journal; (2) the
Commission of strikes and of the general strike, and (3) the Commission
of Control.

[183] From Jan. 1, 1914, called the "Section of the Federation of
Departmental Unions."

The two sections are autonomous in their internal affairs. The first
section is formed by the delegates of the National Federations of trades
and industries. They take the name of _Comité des Fédérations
d'industries et de metiers_. This section appoints it own secretary,
assistant secretary, treasurer, assistant treasurer, and archivist, who
form the executive committee of the section. This section collects
monthly from every adhering organization 40 centimes[184] for every
hundred members, or for any fraction of a hundred; isolated syndicats
pay five centimes monthly for each member.

[184] Increased in 1909 to 60 centimes. For further increase see page
195.

The Sections of Federations of industries and trades is convened by its
secretary and meets whenever necessary. Its functions are to promote the
organization of new federations and to maintain relations between the
adhering federations. It takes "all measures necessary for the
maintenance of syndical action in the field of economic struggle." It
also tries to induce isolated syndicats to join their _Bourses du
Travail_.

The "Section of the Federation of _Bourses du Travail_" is formed by the
delegates of the local, departmental and regional central unions. The
delegates take the title of _Comité des Bourses du Travail_.[185] The
section appoints its own secretary, assistant secretary, treasurer,
assistant treasurer, and archivist, and these five members form the
executive committee of the second section. It collects from the _Bourses
du Travail_ 35 centimes monthly for each adhering syndicat.[186]

[185] When the reorganization is completed, this section will consist of
one delegate from each Departmental Union, who will form the _Comité des
Unions Departmentales_. See note 181 on page 162.

[186] Changed in 1909 to five centimes for each member per year.

The second section promotes the creation of new _Bourses du Travail_ and
coördinates the activities of the adhering Bourses. Its functions
embrace "everything that bears upon syndical administration and upon the
moral education of the workingmen;" its task is to collect statistics of
production, of consumption, of unemployment; to organize gratuitous
employment bureaus, to watch the progress of labor legislation, etc. It
also tries to induce single syndicats to join their national
federations. This section also meets whenever necessary at the
invitation of its secretary.

The Commission of the Journal is composed of twelve members, six from
each section. It appoints its own secretary. The journal must be edited
only by workingmen-members of the Confederation.

The Commission of strikes and of the general strike consists also of
twelve members, six from each section, and appoints its own secretary.
The functions of this commission are: to study the strike movement in
all countries, to send speakers and organizers to, and to collect
subscriptions in favor of workingmen on strike, to make propaganda for
the general strike, and to promote "the penetration of this idea into
the minds of organized workingmen." For this purpose the commission
creates wherever possible sub-committees of the general strike. This
commission has its own resources which consist of 50 per cent of all
money collected by the sub-committees, and of 50 per cent of the
assessments collected by both sections of the Confederation.

The Commission of Control is also formed of twelve members, six from
each section; it verifies the financial reports of both sections and of
the other two commissions. It appoints its own secretary.

The Confederal Committee is formed by the delegates of both sections. It
meets every three months, except in extraordinary cases. It executes the
decisions of the Congresses, intervenes in all issues concerning the
working-class and decides upon all questions of a general character.

The Confederal Bureau[187] consists of thirteen members, of the ten
members of the bureaus of both sections and of the three secretaries of
the three commissions. The Confederal Bureau summons the Confederal
Committee and executes the decisions of the latter. The secretary of the
"Section of Federations" is the general secretary of the Confederation.
The Confederal Bureau is renewed after every Congress, that is every two
years, but functionaries whose terms have expired may be re-elected.

[187] Executive Committee.

Article 37 of the statutes adopted read: "The General Confederation of
Labor, based on the principles of federalism and of liberty, assures and
respects the complete autonomy of the organizations which conform to the
present statutes." The _Bourses du Travail_ and the Federations of
industries and of trades were, therefore, to pursue independently the
activities that concerned them alone. The _Bourses du Travail_ continued
in the main the activities described in the third chapter. Their growth
was steady both in number of organizations and in membership, as may be
seen from the following table:

  -----+-------------------+---------------------
       | Number of Bourses | Number of Syndicats
       | belonging to the  |    in Bourses of
       |   Confederation   |    Confederation.
       |     of Labor.     |
  -----+-------------------+---------------------
  1902 |        83         |        1,112
  1904 |       110         |        1,349
  1906 |       135         |        1,609
  1908 |       157         |        2,028
  1910 |       154         |        1,826
  1912 |       153         |
  -----+-------------------+---------------------

After 1906 Bourses of the same region or Department began to form
regional and Departmental Unions in order to coördinate their activities
and to influence larger groups of the working population. This has led
to the process described above, which is transforming the basis of
representation in the General Confederation of Labor.

In matters of administration the _Bourses du Travail_ have made a step
in advance since the early part of the century. They have succeeded in
organizing the _viaticum_ (aid to workingman traveling from town to town
in search of work) on a national basis, and have amplified their
services as employment bureaus. They are now systematizing their
statistical work by making monthly and quarterly reports on the state of
employment in their locality, on strikes, on the growth of organization,
and on other industrial matters of interest. Their financial situation
has been considerably improved, and in a number of cities they have left
the municipal buildings and have built their own "people's houses"
(_maisons du peuple_).

Regard for matters of administration has not diminished the zeal of the
Bourses for anti-militaristic propaganda. Most of them have organized in
recent years the so-called _Sou du Soldat_ (Soldier's Penny). They send
financial aid to workingmen who are doing military service, invite them
to the social gatherings of the syndicats, distribute syndicalist
literature among them, and in all ways try to maintain in the soldiers a
feeling of solidarity with the organized workers.

The Federations of industries and trades after 1902 concentrated their
attention upon their particular trade and industrial interests. The
story of these Federations is the story of organization, education, and
strikes which can not be told here in detail.

While the Bourses and industrial federations attended to the particular,
local and administrative interests of their respective organizations,
the General Confederation of labor intervened or took the initiative in
questions that interested all or a considerable part of all workingmen.
The new statutes went into force on January 1, 1903. The elections
secured the predominance of the revolutionary syndicalists in the
Confederal Committee; Griffuelhes was elected secretary of the
Confederation; Pouget, assistant; Yvetot, secretary of the Section of
Bourses. In October of the same year the Confederal Committee was
summoned to an extraordinary meeting to consider the question of the
suppression of employment bureaus. This question had agitated a
considerable part of the working-class for many years. The workingmen
had protested time and again against the methods and procedure of these
bureaus, and their protests had been found to be well founded by all who
investigated the matter.[188] The methods of the employment bureaus had
been condemned in Parliament, and the Chamber had passed a bill to
suppress the employment bureaus with indemnity in 1901-2. The Senate,
however, rejected it in February, 1902, and the question was dropped
indefinitely.

[188] Senator Paul Straus in _La Grande Revue_ (Feb., 1914), pp. 320 _et
seq._

The workingmen of the food-producing industries (_alimentation_) were
particularly interested in the suppression of the employment bureaus. In
October, 1903, exasperated by the fact that twenty-five years of
lobbying and of petitioning had produced no results, they decided to
take the matter into their own hands. October 29th, a "veritable riot"
took place in the _Bourse du Travail_ of Paris, the police used their
arms, and many were wounded on both sides.[189]

[189] _Journal des Débats_ (Nov. 6, 1903), p. 865.

The Confederal Committee decided to lend its help to the workingmen in
the struggle. It appointed a special committee to direct the movement.
The plan adopted was to carry on a wide agitation for some time and then
to arrange protest-meetings on the same day in all industrial centers of
France. December 5, 1903, hundreds of meetings were held all over
France, at which the same demand was made that the employment offices be
abolished. The meetings were arranged with the help of the _Bourses du
Travail_ which appear in all such cases as the centers of agitation.

November 5, 1903, the Chamber, by 495 votes against 14, voted a law
suppressing the Employment Bureaus within a period of five years, with
an indemnity of six million francs. In February, 1904, the law passed
the Senate with some modifications.

The agitation for the suppression of the employment bureaus appeared to
all as a manifestation of the new theories on "Direct Action." "The
socialist syndicats have wrested the vote of the Chamber by the pressure
of rebellion (_Coup d'émeutes_)" wrote the _Journal des
Économistes_.[190] The revolutionary syndicalists themselves considered
the agitation as an illustration of their methods, and the success
obtained as a proof of the efficiency of the latter. The report to the
Congress of Bourges (1904) read:

[190] _Journal des Économistes_ (November, 1903), p. 315.

     Under the pressure of the workingmen the Government, till then
     refractory to the reform, capitulated.... To-day it is an
     accomplished fact; wherever syndicalist action was exercised with
     perseverance and energy, the employment bureaus have gone. This
     fact is characteristic. The General Confederation has the merit,
     thanks to the immense effort of the interested themselves, of
     having obtained a reform in a relatively short time, if it is
     compared with the slowness with which everything concerning the
     workingmen is done.[191]

[191] _XIV Congrès National Corporatif_ (Bourges, 1904), p. 8.

The policy of the General Confederation, however, had opponents within
the Confederation itself. A struggle for supremacy between the two
tendencies was inevitable, and it took place at the very next Congress
of the Confederation at Bourges (1904).

The report presented to the Congress of Bourges showed that the
Confederation had made considerable progress since 1902. It counted now
53 Federations of industries and trades, and National syndicats (against
30 in 1902), 15 isolated syndicats, and 110 _Bourses du Travail_, a
total of 1,792 syndicats (against 1,043 in 1902), with 150,000 members.
The Section of Federations of industries had received in dues for the
two years, 11,076 francs; its total budget amounted to 17,882 francs;
the Section of _Bourses du Travail_ had collected in dues 9,016 francs
and had a total budget of 12,213 francs. The _Voix du Peuple_ was now
self-supporting, and had increased the number of its subscriptions. The
Congress of Bourges, for the first time, was organized on the financial
resources of the syndicats without municipal or governmental subsidies.

It was known before that the Congress of Bourges would discuss the
question of methods, and both sides, the revolutionary syndicalists and
those who were called "reformists," made all efforts possible to obtain
a majority at the Congress. There were 1,178 mandates from as many
syndicats. This was the system of representation adopted by the Statutes
of the Confederation in 1902. At its Congress the Confederation resolves
itself into an association of syndicats; the Federations and Bourses
disappear and their constituent elements, the syndicats, take their
place. Each syndicat--no matter how large or how small--has one vote;
and one delegate may represent as many as ten syndicats. At the Congress
of Bourges the 1,178 mandates were distributed among 400 delegates, of
whom 350 came from the Provinces and 50 from Paris.

The attack on the Confederal Committee was led by M. Keufer, the
delegate and secretary of the Typographical Union (_La Fédération du
Livre_). He accused the Confederal Committee of violating the statutes,
of being partial and biased and of trying in every way to harm the
_Fédération du Livre_, because the latter pursued "reformist" methods.
"Yes," said M. Keufer, "we prefer the reformist method, because we
believe that direct and violent action, commended by the anarchists,
will cost thousands of workingmen their lives, without assuring durable
results."[192] He insisted that it was necessary to try conciliatory
methods before declaring strikes and to solicit the help of
representatives in the legislative bodies. He showed that, on the one
hand, even the revolutionary syndicalists were compelled by
circumstances to use such methods, while the _Fédération du Livre_, on
the other hand, did not shrink from strikes and from direct action, when
that was inevitable. M. Keufer was supported by M. Lauche, the delegate
of the machinists, and by M. Guérard, the delegate of the railway
workers.

[192] _XIV Congrès Corporatif_ (Bourges, 1904), pp. 95-6.

The accusations of the "reformists" were repudiated by a number of
revolutionary syndicalists who reaffirmed in their speeches adherence to
the ideas, described in the preceding chapters, on the State, on direct
action, etc. They were the victors, and the report of the Confederal
Committee was approved by 812 votes against 361 and 11 blank.

The main struggle, however, centered on the question of proportional
representation. This question had been brought up at previous Congresses
by the delegates of some larger syndicats. At one time even some of the
revolutionary syndicalists had advocated proportional representation as
a means of finding out the real strength of the various tendencies in
the Confederation. But after the Confederation became decidedly
revolutionary, the revolutionary syndicalists became decidedly opposed
to proportional representation which they now regarded as a move on the
part of the "reformist" element to obtain control of the
Confederation.[193]

[193] _Mouvement Socialiste_ (Nov., 1904), p. 61.

Proportional representation was defended by the delegates of the
Typographical Union, of the Machinists and of the Railway Workers. They
criticised the statutes adopted at Montpellier which gave every
organization, regardless of its numbers, one vote only in the Confederal
Committee. This system, they declared, vitiated the character of the
Confederation, and gave predominance to the minority. They claimed that
the delegates in the Confederal Committee expressed the opinions shared
by a small proportion only of the organized workingmen and that the
Confederation was, therefore, a tool in the hands of a few "turbulent"
individuals. They demanded that some system of proportional
representation should be adopted which should give every organization a
number of votes in the Confederal Committee proportional to the number
of its members.

The opponents of proportional representation argued that this system
would stifle the small syndicats; that all syndicats were of equal value
from the point of view of the economic struggle, because small syndicats
often achieve as much, and even more, than large ones; they pointed out
that proportional representation would make necessary continual changes
in the number of delegates in the Confederal Committee, because the
effective force of the syndicats is in constant flux and that it would
be impossible to find out the true figures. They claimed that
proportional representation could not be applied to economic life,
because it was no fault of any one trade or industry if only a few
thousand workers were employed in it, while other industries required
hundreds of thousands of workingmen. Even from the point of view of
strength, they argued, a small syndicat may have more value than a large
one because it may embrace a larger proportion of workingmen employed in
the trade. The opponents of proportional representation repudiated the
assertion that only the small syndicats were with them and pointed out
that some of the largest federations, as the Metallurgical Federation
with 11,500 members, the Federation of Marine with 12,000 members and
others, were against proportional representation.

The opponents of proportional representation carried the day and the
proposition of "reformist" delegates was rejected by a vote of 822
against 388 (one abstained).

The Congress of Bourges thus sanctioned the revolutionary character of
the Confederation. The "reformists" frankly admitted that they had
suffered a defeat and attributed it to the fact that two-thirds of the
delegates were new men in the movement and under the influence of the
anarchists.[194] The revolutionary syndicalists triumphed, and extolled
the historical significance of the Congress of Bourges which, in their
opinion, was a "landmark" in the history of syndicalism.

[194] A. Keufer, _Le Mouvement Socialiste_ (Nov., 1904), p. 93.

The Congress of Bourges adopted a resolution which was to concentrate
the attention of the Confederation for the next two years on one
question: an eight-hour working day. The Committee appointed by the
Congress to consider the question reported that two ways of obtaining an
eight-hour day had been indicated. One proposed to prepare a bill to be
presented to the public authorities and to organize public meetings in
order to show the government that public opinion demanded the passage of
the law. This method was rejected by the Committee because ever since
1889, workingmen had presented such petitions to the public authorities
on the first of May, but without any results whatsoever.

On the contrary, the other "direct" method which recommended the
workingmen to "hold aloof" from the public authorities, and to exert all
possible pressure "on their adversaries" was adopted by the Committee.
The Committee argued that the experience with the employment agencies
had shown that this method gave better results. The report of the
Committee read:

     If the recent campaign has resulted in the suppression of the
     employment bureaus, it is because the movement was becoming
     dangerous.

     Every day employment bureaus were abolished, anonymous violence was
     committed against the owners of the offices (_placeurs_), a
     considerable number of shops were damaged, numerous collisions took
     place between the police and the workingmen, Paris was in a state
     of siege, and it was in order to calm this agitation that
     Parliament voted a law making it permissive for the municipalities
     to abolish the employment bureaus.[195]

[195] _XIV Congrès Corporatif_ (Bourges, 1904), pp. 205-6.

The Committee, therefore, recommended that the same method be used to
obtain an eight-hour day, that big manifestations be organized all over
France on the 1st of May, 1905, and that afterwards an active propaganda
be carried on by a special commission appointed for that purpose by the
Confederal Committee "in order that beginning with the 1st of May, 1906,
no workingman should consent to work more than eight hours a day
nor for a wage below the minimum established by the interested
organizations."[196] The recommendation of the Committee was adopted by
the Congress with an amendment of Pouget which still more emphasized the
"direct" method to be used.

[196] _Ibid._, p. 207.

To carry out the decisions of the Congress, the Confederal Committee
appointed a special commission to direct the movement for an eight-hour
day. The Commission sent out a questionnaire to all syndical
organizations, asking all those who were in favor of the movement to
lend their help. A number of manifestoes, posters and pamphlets were
published and spread abroad in tens of thousands of copies in which the
meaning of the movement and its importance were explained. In the
trade-journals, in the cars, in the streets, and wherever possible,
brief mottoes were posted, such as: "Eight hours of work means more rest
and more health," "To work more than eight hours means to lower your
wages," etc. On the _Bourse du Travail_ of Paris a big placard was put
up with the words: "From the first of May, 1906, we shall not work more
than eight hours." Delegates were sent out on repeated tours into the
province to carry on the propaganda and agitation. On the first of May,
1905, over 150 meetings were arranged in different parts of France at
which the question of the eight-hour day was considered.

As May 1, 1906, neared, the agitation in the country became more and
more intense. A number of events helped to increase the agitation. In
March, 1906, a catastrophe occurred in the mining districts of Northern
France which resulted in the loss of workingmen's lives. A strike
accompanied by violence followed. In April, the letter carriers of Paris
struck, causing some disorganization in the service for a few days.

Toward the end of April the number of strikes and manifestations
increased in Paris. The agitation was exploited by the enemies of the
government and particularly by the monarchist papers. The Government of
M. Clemenceau, on the other hand, tried to discredit the movement by
spreading rumors that a plot against the Republic had been discovered in
which monarchists and leaders of the Confederation were involved. The
_Voix du Peuple_ published a protest of the Confederal Committee against
this accusation. Nevertheless the government searched at the same time
the houses of Monarchists, Bonapartists and of leading members of the
Confederation, and on the eve of the first of May, it arrested
Griffuelhes, Pouget, Merrheim and other syndicalists together with a
number of well-known monarchists.

The first of May found Paris in a state of siege. Premier Clemenceau had
collected numerous troops in the capital. Since the days of the Commune
Paris had not seen so many. Among the bourgeoisie a real panic reigned.
Many left Paris and crossed the Channel. Those who remained in Paris
made provision for food for days to come. The papers spoke of the
"coming revolution" which the General Confederation of Labor was to let
loose on society.[197]

[197] _Journal des Débats_ (27 April, 1906), p. 769.

The strike movement was very wide. According to official statistics, the
agitation of the Confederation affected 2,585 industrial establishments
and involved 202,507 workingmen. The sweep of the movement may be
grasped from the following table giving the statistics of strikes in
France since 1892:

  _Year_    _Number of        _Number of        _Number of
              strikes_      establishments_     workingmen_

   1892         261               500             50,000
   1893         634             4,286            170,123
   1894         391             1,731             54,576
   1895         405             1,298             45,801
   1896         476             2,178             49,851
   1897         356             2,568             68,875
   1898         368             1,967             82,065
   1899         740             4,290            176,826
   1900         902            10,253            222,714
   1901         523             6,970            111,414
   1902         512             1,820            212,704
   1903         567             3,246            123,151
   1904       1,026            17,250            271,097
   1905         830             5,302            177,666
   1906       1,309            19,637            438,466
   1907       1,275             8,365            197,961[198]

[198] _Statistique des Grèves_, 1893-1908.

The movement assumed various forms in different trades. The printers,
for instance, pursued their conciliatory methods and obtained a
nine-hour day in about 150 towns. In some trades the strikes developed a
more or less acute character and continued for several months after the
first of May.

Some of the "reformists" declared that the movement was a complete
failure.[199] According to official statistics,[200] the results of the
strike movement were as follows:

[199] _XV Congrès National Corporatif_ (Amiens, 1906), p. 103.

[200] _Statistique des Grèves_, 1906, pp. 774 _et seq._

  A: Strikes    B: Establishments    C: Strikers

  -----------+----------------+--------------------+--------------------
             |    Success     |      Compromise    |       Failure
     Demand  |----------------|--------------------|--------------------
             |  A |  B  |  C  |  A |   B   |   C   |  A |   B   |   C
  -----------+----+-----+-----|----+-------+-------|----+-------+-------
   8 hour day|  2 |   5 |  45 | 13 | 1,970 |25,520 | 88 | 7,556 |109,786
   9 hour day| 36 | 135 |2723 | 28 |   994 |30,750 | 45 |   755 | 17,023
  10 hour day| 40 | 582 |7409 | 16 |   220 | 2,000 | 27 |   368 |  7,251
  -----------+----------------+--------------------+--------------------

The revolutionary syndicalists did not claim much material success, but
they argued that this had not been expected. The main purpose of the
movement, they asserted, was, "by an immense effort, to spread among the
large mass of workingmen the ideas which animate the militant groups and
the syndical organizations. The problem to be solved, at first, was,
thus, by means of a vigorous propaganda to reach the workingmen who had
remained indifferent to the syndicalist movement."[201] And this task,
in the opinion of the revolutionary syndicalists, had been accomplished.
The agitation had aroused the workingmen in all parts of France.

[201] _XV Congrès Corporatif_ (Amiens, 1906), p. 3.

In September, 1906, the Congress of the Confederation met at Amiens. The
report of the secretary showed continued progress of the Confederation
since 1904. The Section of Federations of industries now counted 61
federal organizations with 2,399 syndicats and 203,273 members. The dues
collected by this section for the two years amounted to 17,650 francs;
and its total budget to 20,586 francs. The section of the Federation of
Bourses consisted now of 135 Bourses with 1,609 syndicats; it collected
in dues 11,821 francs, and had a total budget of 15,566 francs.

The report of the Confederal Committee again called forth the attacks of
"reformist" syndicalists, but was approved by 781 votes against 115 (21
blank and 10 contested). But the main question which absorbed the
largest part of the work of the Congress was the relation of the General
Confederation of Labor to the Socialist Party.

This question had again assumed a new character. The International
Socialist Congress of Amsterdam (1904) had exhorted and advised the
French Socialists to accomplish as soon as possible the unification of
their separate parties into one national Socialist Party. In April,
1905, a "Congress of Unification" was held at Paris, at which the _Parti
Socialiste de France_ and the _Parti Socialiste Français_ formed the
_Parti Socialiste Unifié_. A common program was accepted and a new form
of organization elaborated. At its first Congress in Chalons in October,
1905, the Unified Party counted 35,000 paying members distributed in
2,000 groups, 67 federations and 77 departments. In the elections of
1906 the Unified Party obtained an increase of votes and elected 54
members to Parliament.

It now seemed to many that there was no reason for the General
Confederation of Labor to keep aloof from the Socialist Party. The
reason heretofore given was that the divisions in the Socialist Party
disorganized the syndicats, but since the Socialist Party was now
unified, the reason lost all significance, and it seemed possible to
establish some form of union between the two organizations. The question
was taken up soon after the unification of the Socialist Party by the
"Federation of Textile Workers" who had it inserted in the program of
the coming Congress of Amiens. The question was discussed for some time
before the Congress in the socialist and syndicalist press, and the
decision that would be taken could have been foreseen from the
discussion.

M. Renard, the Secretary of the "Federation of Textile Workers,"
defended the proposition that permanent relations should be established
between the General Confederation and the Unified Socialist Party. His
argument was that in the struggle of the working-class for emancipation,
various methods must be used, and that various forms of organization
were accordingly necessary. The syndicat, in his opinion, could not
suffice for all purposes; it was an instrument in economic struggles
against employers, but by the side of this economic action, political
action must be carried on to obtain protective labor legislation. For
this purpose he considered it necessary to maintain relations with the
Socialist Party, which had "always proposed and voted laws having for
their object the amelioration of the conditions of the working-class as
well as their definitive emancipation."[202] Besides, argued M. Renard,
"if a revolutionary situation should be created to-day," the syndicats
now in existence, with their present organization could not "regulate
production and organize exchange," and "would be compelled to make use
of the machinery of the government." The co-operation of the
Confederation with the Socialist Party, therefore, was useful and
necessary from the point of view both of the present and of the future.

[202] _XV Congrès Corporatif_ (Amiens, 1906), pp. 135-6.

M. Renard repudiated the accusation that he meant to introduce politics
into the syndicats or to fuse the latter in the Socialist Party. On the
contrary, he accused the Confederal Committee of carrying on political
agitation under the cover of neutrality. Against this "special politics"
his proposition was directed. "When anti-militarism is carried on," said
M. Renard, "when anti-patriotism is indulged in, when [electoral]
abstention is preached, it is politics."[203] This anarchistic policy
has prevailed since the "libertarians have invaded the Confederation and
have transformed the latter into a war-engine against the Socialist
Party. The Federation of Textile Workers wants to put an end to the
present state of affairs."[204]

[203] _Ibid._, p. 134.

[204] _Ibid._, p. 165.

The proposition of the Textile workers was combated by revolutionary and
"reformist" syndicalists alike. M. Keufer, who had bitterly attacked the
revolutionary syndicalists at Bourges (1904), now fought the political
syndicalists. He agreed with M. Renard that political action was
necessary though he did not place "too great hopes in legislative action
and in the intervention of the State;" still he thought that the latter
was inevitable, and alluded to the fact that the revolutionary
syndicalists themselves were constantly soliciting the intervention of
the public authorities. But to secure a successful parallel economic and
political action, M. Keufer believed that it was better for the
Confederation to remain entirely independent of the Socialist Party, and
he proposed a resolution repudiating both "anarchist and
anti-parliamentarian agitation" and permanent relations with any
political party.[205]

[205] _XIV Congrès Corporatif_ (Amiens, 1906), pp. 154-157.

       *       *       *       *       *

The revolutionary syndicalists in their turn criticised the part
assigned to the syndicat both by the political syndicalists and by the
"reformists." They emphasized the "integral" and revolutionary rôle of
the syndicat which makes it unnecessary and dangerous to conclude any
alliance with any political party. They denied that the Confederal
Committee was carrying on an anarchist propaganda. Said M. Griffuelhes:

     Keufer insists very much on the presence of libertarians in the
     Confederal Committee; they are not so numerous as the legend has
     it; this is only a stratagem to arouse the fear of an anarchist
     peril which does not exist. On the contrary, the vitality of the
     Confederation is the result of a co-operation of various political
     elements. When, after the entrance of M. Millerand into the
     government, the latter began its policy of "domesticating" the
     workingmen, a coalition of Anarchists, Guesdists, Blanquists,
     Allemanists and other elements took place in order to isolate the
     government from the syndicats. This coalition has maintained itself
     and has been the very life of the Confederation.[206]

[206] _XV Congrès Corporatif_ (Amiens, 1906), p. 167.

The proposition of the Textile Federation was rejected by 724 votes
against 34 (37 blank). The defeat for the political syndicalists was
complete. By an overwhelming majority of 830 against 8 (one blank), the
Congress adopted the following proposition of Griffuelhes:

     The Confederal Congress of Amiens confirms article 2 of the
     constitution of the General Federation.

     The C. G. T. groups, independent of all political schools, all the
     workingmen who are conscious of the struggle to be carried on for
     the disappearance of the wage system....

     The Congress considers that this declaration is a recognition of
     the class struggle which, on an economic basis, places the
     workingmen in revolt against all forms of exploitation and
     oppression, material and moral, put into operation by the
     capitalist class against the working-class.

     The Congress makes this theoretic affirmation more precise by
     adding the following points:

     With regard to the every-day demands, syndicalism pursues the
     coördination of the efforts of the workingmen, the increase of the
     workingmen's welfare through the realization of immediate
     ameliorations, such as the diminution of working hours, the
     increase of wages, etc.

     But this is only one aspect of its work; syndicalism is preparing
     the integral emancipation which can be realized only by the
     expropriation of the capitalist class; it commends as a means to
     this end the general strike, and considers that the syndicat, now
     a group of resistance, will be in the future the group of
     production and of distribution, the basis of social organization.

     The Congress declares that this double task of every-day life and
     of the future follows from the very situation of the wage-earners,
     which exerts its pressure upon the working-class and which makes it
     a duty for all workingmen, whatever their opinions or their
     political and philosophical tendencies, to belong to the essential
     group which is the syndicat; consequently, so far as individuals
     are concerned, the Congress declares entire liberty for every
     syndicalist to participate, outside of the trade organization, in
     any forms of struggle which correspond to his philosophical or
     political ideas, confining itself only to asking of him, in return,
     not to introduce into the syndicat the opinions which he professes
     outside of it.

     In so far as organizations are concerned, the Congress decides
     that, in order that syndicalism may attain its maximum
     effectiveness, economic action should be exercised directly against
     the class of employers, and the Confederal organizations must not,
     as syndical groups, pay any attention to parties and sects which,
     outside and by their side, may pursue in full liberty the
     transformation of society.

The vote on this resolution showed that all parties interpreted the
resolution in their own way. To the "reformists" it meant complete
political neutrality, to the political syndicalist it emphasized the
liberty of political action outside the syndicat; the revolutionary
syndicats saw in the resolution the "Charter of French Syndicalism" in
which their theories were succinctly formulated.

After the Congress of Amiens the General Confederation continued its
policy of direct action. During 1907 it helped the movement for a law on
a weekly rest (_Repos Hebdamodaire_) which was carried on by the
commercial employees and by workingmen of certain trades. The movement
expressed itself often in street demonstrations and riotous gatherings
and brought the Confederation into conflict with the government.

The government of M. Clemenceau took a determined attitude towards the
Confederation. Papers like the _Temps_ called upon the government to
dissolve the Confederation. "Against syndicalism," wrote the _Temps_,
"are valid all the arguments of law and of fact as against anarchy."
Members of the Confederal Committee were arrested here and there for
incendiary speeches and for anti-militaristic propaganda. In the Chamber
of Deputies the Confederation was the subject of a heated debate which
lasted several days, and in which radicals, conservatives, socialists,
and members of the government took part.

The Confederal Committee in its turn vehemently attacked the government.
In June, 1907, troubles occurred among the wine-growers in the south of
France, and blood was shed. The Confederal Committee launched a
manifesto against the government with the heading, "Government of
Assassins," in which it praised one of the regiments that had refused to
shoot into the crowd at the order of the officers.

The government instituted legal proceedings against twelve members of
the Confederal Committee for "insults to the army." The trial took place
in February, 1908; all the accused were acquitted.

In June, 1908, a strike in one of the towns near Paris, Draveuil,
occasioned the intervention of the police. Shooting took place, one
workingman was killed, one mortally wounded, and several others severely
wounded. On the 4th of June the Confederal Committee published a protest
calling the government "a government of assassins" and Premier
Clemenceau, "Clemenceau the murderer" (_Clemenceau le Tueur_) and called
upon the syndicats to protest against the action of the government. As
the strike in Draveuil was among workingmen of the building trades, the
"Federation of the Building Trades," the most revolutionary syndical
organization in France, took the lead in the movement, seconded by the
Confederal Committee. Manifestations took place at the funerals of the
killed workingmen in Draveuil and Villeneuve St. George (neighboring
communes) in which bloody collisions with the police were avoided with
difficulty. The "Federation of the Building Trades" and many members of
the Confederal Committee advocated a general strike as a protest against
the action of the government.

Meanwhile the strike at Draveuil was going on. On the 27th of July a
collision between the police and the strikers again took place, and the
"Federation of Building Trades" decided upon a general strike and upon a
demonstration for the 30th of July. Some members of the Confederal
Committee, the Secretary Griffuelhes, for instance, were opposed to the
manifestation, but the decision was taken against their advice.

The manifestation of Villeneuve St. George resulted in a violent
collision; there were many killed and wounded. The agitation grew, and
the Confederal Committee together with the federal committee of the
Building Trades called upon the other trades to join them in a general
strike to be continued as a protest against the "massacres." The call of
the Confederal Committee was only partly followed.

The events of Villeneuve St. George aroused the press and the government
against the Confederation. The "Confederal Committee," wrote the
_Temps_, "is not an instrument for trade conquests. It is a purely
insurrectional Committee. It should be treated as such." The government
arrested all the leading members of the Confederal Committee.

On the 4th of August, as a move against the government, the Confederal
Committee which constituted itself after the arrests and of which M.
Luquet was temporary secretary, admitted the Federation of Miners with
60,000 members into the Confederation. The Federation of Miners had for
some time expressed its wish to enter the Confederation, but certain
difficulties, more or less personal, had stood in the way. After
Villeneuve St. George these difficulties were smoothed and the adherence
of the Miners to the Confederation was made possible.

The events of Villeneuve St. George aroused some protests within the
Confederation. The collisions and the bloodshed were ascribed by the
opponents of the Confederal Committee to revolutionary methods and
"anarchist" tactics. The polemics between the "reformist" and
"revolutionary" elements which had not ceased since the Congress of
Amiens now became more and more bitter.

In September, 1908, the Congress of the Confederation met at Marseilles.
The reports to the Congress showed that the Section of Federations of
industries counted 68 federal organizations with 2,586 syndicats and
294,398 members; total receipts amounted to 24,719 francs. The Section
of Bourses counted 157 _Bourses du Travail_ with 2,028 syndicats and
with a budget of 16,081 francs.

The Congress of Marseilles expressed its sympathy with the arrested
members of the Confederation, and "denounced before the entire public
the abominable procedures" of the government. The reports of the
Confederal Committee were approved by 947 with none against and 109
blanks, "not because the members of the Confederal Bureau were arrested,
but because the acts of the Bureau and of the Confederal Committee were
the expression of the mandate entrusted to them."

The Congress of Marseilles rejected the proposition to apply the
principle of proportional representation which was again advanced. It
discussed the question of industrial and trade unionism and decided in
favor of the former, inviting all trade federations to fuse into
industrial federations.

But the main question which agitated the Congress was that of
anti-militarism. At Amiens (1906) an anti-militaristic resolution
introduced by Yvetot (Secretary of the Section of _Bourses du Travail_)
had been passed. But it was passed in a hurry, as there was no time to
discuss it, and it raised strong opposition among the "reformist"
elements. It was taken to the Congress of Marseilles, therefore, for
another discussion.

The Congress of Marseilles accepted the resolution introduced by Yvetot.
The resolution read:

     The Congress of Marseilles, repeats and renders more precise the
     decision of Amiens, namely:

     Considering that the army tends more and more to take the place of
     the workingmen on strike in the factory, in the fields, in the
     workshop, when it has not the function of shooting them, as in
     Narbonnes, Raon-L'Etape, and Villeneuve St. George;

     Considering that the exercise of the right to strike will be only a
     fraud as long as the soldiers agree to substitute the workers in
     civil work and to massacre the workingmen; the Congress, keeping
     within purely economic limits, recommends the instruction of the
     recruits (_jeunes_) in order that on the day when they put on the
     military uniform they should be convinced that they should remain
     nevertheless members of the family of workingmen and that in the
     conflict between capital and labor their duty is not to use their
     arms against their brethren, the workingmen;

     Considering that the geographical boundaries are modifiable at the
     will of the possessors, the workingmen recognize only the economic
     boundaries separating the two class-enemies--the working-class and
     the capitalist class.

     The Congress repeats the formula of the International: "The
     workingmen have no fatherland;" and adds:

     That whereas, consequently, every war is but an outrage
     (_attentat_) against the workingmen; that it is a bloody and
     terrible means of diverting them from their demands, the Congress
     declares it necessary, from the international point of view, to
     enlighten the workingmen, in order that in case of war they may
     reply to the declaration of war by a declaration of a revolutionary
     general strike.[207]

[207] _XVI Congrès National Corporatif_, p. 213.

The resolution was adopted by 681 votes against 421 and 43 blank. Many
voted against the resolution because of its anti-patriotic character,
though they accepted the part bearing upon the use of the army in
strikes.

In November, 1909, the government freed the arrested members of the
Confederal Committee, but they did not regain their former positions of
authority. In February, 1909, the "reformist" elements succeeded in
electing as secretary of the Confederation their candidate, M. Niel, who
was once a revolutionary but had become more moderate. M. Niel was
elected by a majority of one vote, and his position was very difficult
in the Confederal Committee. He aimed, as he expressed it, to bring
about "moral unity" in the Confederation, but was hampered in his
activities by the revolutionaries and not sufficiently supported by the
"reformists."

In March, 1909, the Post Office employees went on strike. The
Confederation took no part in the movement but invited the workingmen to
sympathize with the strikers. The strike was successful, and the
government promised to consider the grievances of the Post Office
employees whose main demand was the removal of the Secretary of the
Department.

The promises of the government were unofficial, and the strikers after
some time claimed that the government had not kept its word. A second
strike followed in May, but there was less enthusiasm among the
employees, and a failure was inevitable. The leaders of the strike
appealed to the Confederation for help. The Confederal Committee invited
the workingmen of Paris to go out on a general strike, but the
invitation of the Confederation found very little response, and the Post
Office employees returned to work.

The failure was ascribed to the "reformists", M. Guérard,[208] secretary
of the Railway Workers, and to M. Niel, who had delivered a speech on
the eve of the general strike declaring that the miners were not ready
for it. This speech, the revolutionaries alleged, produced an impression
disastrous for the general strike. The bitter criticism of the
revolutionists forced Niel to resign on May 28, 1909. The election of
Jouhaux secured the triumph of the revolutionary syndicalists once more.

[208] M. Guérard, once revolutionary, had become moderate.

The dissensions between "reformists" and "revolutionaries" became still
more acute after the resignation of M. Niel. The rumor that the
"reformist" syndicats would leave the Confederation circulated more
persistently than before. The "reformists" formed in July, 1909, a
_Comité d'Union Syndicaliste_ to react against the anarchistic
syndicalism, to realize the union of workingmen, independent of all
politics, in the exclusively economic and industrial domain.[209] The
situation was considered very critical by both friends and enemies of
the Confederation.

[209] G. Weill, _Histoire du Mouvement Social du France_, 386.

The struggle of tendencies and personalities within the Confederation
came to a climax at the next congress held at Toulouse from Oct. 3 to
Oct. 10, 1910. The greater part of the time of the congress was consumed
in discussing the resignation of Niel, the accusations against the
former secretary Griffuelhes, and the quarrels of "reformists" and
revolutionists generally. Both sides were disgusted with the
proceedings, but hoped that the atmosphere of mutual hostility and
distrust would be cleared thereby, and that a new period of harmonious
action would be the result.

The Congress was hardly over, when a strike unexpectedly broke out among
the railway men of the _Paris-Nord_. The National Syndicat of Railway
workers had been considering the advisability of a general strike for
some time, but was postponing action in the hope of effecting a peaceful
settlement. The Syndicat of railway workers was among the so-called
"reformist" syndicats, and its leaders laid great stress on peaceful
negotiations with employers and on soliciting the co-operation of the
government. The demands of the railway men were: an increase in wages,
one day of rest in the week, the retroactive application of the old-age
pension law passed in 1909, and several other concessions relating to
conditions of work and matters of discipline. The railway companies had
refused to meet the representatives of the railway men, and M. Briand,
who was Premier at the time, advised the officials of the railway union
that he could do nothing to make the railway companies change their
attitude. The leaders of the syndicat, however, were still continuing
their efforts to bring pressure to bear upon the companies, when their
plans were frustrated by the sudden outbreak on the railroad system
known as Paris-Nord.

The strike, begun in Paris on October 10, rapidly spread over the system
Paris-Nord. The next day the strike committee ordered a general railroad
strike, and the order was followed on October 12 by the Western system
of railroads. On October 13 M. Briand arrested the members of the strike
committee and ordered the striking railway men under colors, thus
putting them under martial law. A second strike committee automatically
took the place of the leaders who were arrested, but it did not display
much energy. Besides, the response to the strike order on the eastern
and southern railroad lines was very slight, and towards the end of the
week the strike was practically defeated. By order of the second strike
committee work was resumed on all lines on October 18.

The failure of the railway strike was a heavy blow not only to the
syndicat of Railway Workers, but to the general labor movement of
France. It resulted in the disorganization of one of the strongest
syndicats and added fuel to the dying embers of factional strife. The
revolutionary elements in the Confederation attributed the failure of
the strike to the hesitating tactics of the "reformist" leaders and to
the intervention of the socialist politicians who tried to make
political capital out of the strike situation. The "reformists," on the
other hand, accused the revolutionists of precipitating the strike and
of defeating the general movement by hasty action on the Paris-Nord. Two
facts, however, stand out clear: first, that the Confederation of Labor
did not direct the strike, which was a purely trade movement largely
dominated by reformist and political elements; secondly, that the strike
was defeated mainly by the quick and energetic action of M. Briand, who
treated the strike as a revolt, sent soldiers to replace the strikers,
and mobilized the latter for military service.

The dissensions provoked by the railway strike accentuated the "crisis"
in the General Confederation of Labor and hampered its activities.
Still, amid these internal struggles, the Confederal Committee made
persistent efforts to carry out the program of action which was outlined
for it at the congress of Toulouse. During 1910-1911 it carried on a
relentless campaign against the old-age pension law which was passed in
April, 1910. The French workingmen were opposed to the age limit imposed
by the law (65 years), to the system of capitalization, and to the
obligatory deductions of the worker's contribution from his wages. The
campaign was effective to the extent of forcing several important
modifications in the law in favor of the workers.

At the same time the Confederation carried on a campaign against the
high cost of living ascribing it to speculation and to the protective
system. Meetings were held throughout France, and demonstrations were
arranged; in many places bread riots took place in which the leaders of
the Bourses and of the Confederal Committee took part.

But the greatest part of the energy of the Confederation was directed
against the wave of militarism and nationalism which began to sweep
France after the incident of Agadir in the summer of 1910. The
Confederation of Labor felt that the labor movement in general and the
revolutionary tendencies in particular were endangered by the
nationalist spirit and military excitement which was stirring the
country. Meetings were organized all over France to protest against war
and militarism; several international meetings were arranged in Berlin,
Madrid, Paris, and London, at which speakers representing all European
countries spoke against war and in favor of international peace. The
idea of a general strike in case of war was revived and agitated in the
syndicalist organizations as a warning to the French government.

In September, 1912, the twelfth congress of the Confederation was held
at Toulouse. The report of the Confederal Committee showed that the
Confederation was not making as much progress as before. The growth of
the General Confederation of Labor in relation to the general labor
movement of the country may be judged from the following table:

  -----+---------+------------+-------------+-------------+-------------
       |         |            |  Number of  |             |
       |  Total  |Total Number| Federations |             |
       |Number of|of Organized| of industry |  Syndicats  |
       |Syndicats| Workingmen | adhering to | adhering to | Members of
  Year |in France|  in France |Confederation|Confederation|Confederation
  -----+---------+------------+-------------+-------------+-------------
  1902 |  3,680  |   614,204  |     30      |    1,043    |
       |         |            |             |             |
  1904 |  4,227  |   715,576  |     53      |    1,792    |   150,000
       |         |            |             |             |
  1906 |  4,857  |   836,134  |     61      |    2,399    |   203,273
       |         |            |             |             |
  1908 |  5,524  |   957,102  |     63      |    2,586    |   294,398
       |         |            |             |             |
  1910 |  5,260  |   977,350  |     57      |    3,012    |   357,814
       |         |            |             |             |
  1912 |  5,217  | 1,064,000  |     53      |    2,837    |   400,000
  -----+---------+------------+-------------+-------------+-------------

The slackening in the growth of the Confederation was attributed partly
to the persistent persecutions of the government, but in the main to
internal dissensions and struggles. As a result of the latter, many of
the old militants who had taken a leading part in the syndicalist
organizations had become disillusioned and had left the movement. Many
of the syndicats had lost in membership, and new syndicats were formed
with great difficulty.

The supreme effort of the Congress of Toulouse was, therefore, to assert
once more the leading ideas of syndicalism and to unite all labor
elements upon a common platform of action. A long debate between
representatives of the various tendencies took place in consequence of
which the Congress reaffirmed the resolution of Amiens (1906) known as
the "charter of syndicalism."[210] The most important resolution,
however, was that in favor of a general movement for the reduction of
hours of labor, particularly for the establishment of the "English week"
(La semaine Anglaise, i. e. half holiday on Saturday). The Confederal
Committee was authorized to carry on a campaign similar in character to
the Campaign of 1906 in favor of the eight hour day. To meet the
necessary expenses the dues were raised to ten francs per thousand
members for each Federation of industry and to seven francs per thousand
members for each Departmental Union.

[210] See page 183.

The discussion at the Congress of Toulouse showed very clearly that the
leaders of the syndicalist organizations were becoming tired of
perennial debates and that they were anxious to save the Confederation
from its present critical condition by a vigorous campaign for shorter
hours, which would appeal to the mass of working men and women. The
Confederal Committee, however, has not been very successful in this
since the congress of Toulouse, for two principal reasons: the
militaristic excitement of Europe and the general industrial depression.
During 1913, the Confederation was engaged in fighting the increase in
military expenses and particularly the passage of the three years'
military service law. In May and June a number of revolts took place in
the barracks, mainly among the soldiers who would have been released in
1913, had not the new law been made retroactive. The government accused
the Confederation of instigating the revolts of the soldiers, and made
numerous arrests among the leaders of the principal syndicats in Paris
and in the province. The Confederation repudiated complicity in the
revolts, but asserted its right to maintain relations with the soldiers
by means of the _Sou du Soldat_. A number of protest meetings were held
in Paris and other cities against the new military law, and there can be
little doubt that this agitation resulted in the modifications of the
law which practically reduced the actual time of service by several
months.

At the same time, the activities of the General Confederation of Labor
during 1913 revealed a conscious determination to steer clear of
hazardous movements of a revolutionary character. In July, 1913, the
Federations of industries and the Bourses du Travail held their third
annual Conference in Paris, at which questions of administration and
policy were discussed. A number of delegates demanded that a general
strike be declared on September 24, when the soldiers ought to have been
released from the barracks. This proposition was defeated as an unwise
measure. Among those who spoke against the proposition were some of the
ablest representatives of the revolutionary syndicalists, like Jouhaux,
the general secretary; Merrheim, the secretary of the Federation of the
metal industry, and others. The cautious action of the Confederation
incensed the anarchist groups who had supported the Confederation all
along, and they began to criticise the latter for "turning to the
right." The leaders of the Confederation, however, explained their
action not by any change in ideas, but by a desire to hew to the line of
strictly labor demands for the time being.

While making efforts to increase its strength at home, the Confederation
of Labor has been endeavoring in recent years to spread the ideas of
French syndicalism abroad, and has been watching with great interest the
new tendencies in the labor movement of England and the activities of
the Industrial Workers of the World in the United States. Its main
efforts outside of France, have been exerted at the conferences of the
International Secretariat of Labor. These conferences have been held
every two years since 1903 by the secretaries of the adhering National
Trade Union Centers.[211] The General Confederation took part in the
Conference of Dublin in 1903, but sent no delegates to the Conferences
of Amsterdam (1905) or of Christiana (1907) because these conferences
refused to discuss the questions of the general strike and of
anti-militarism. The relations of the Confederation to the International
Secretariat have been much discussed at the Congresses of the
Confederation and in the press. The Congress of Marseilles, though
approving the policy of the Confederal Committee, recommended that the
latter enter into closer relations with the International Secretariat.
Since then the Confederation has taken part in the Conferences of Paris
in 1909,[212] Budapest (1911), and Zurich (1913).

[211] The first two conferences were held at Balberstadt (1900) and at
Stuttgart (1902).

[212] An account of the Paris conference is given in Mr. Gompers' _Labor
in Europe and America_ (New York, 1910).

In the International organization the Confederation tries to enforce its
views on the general strike and advocates the organization of
International Labor Congresses. Its ideas meet here, however, with the
opposition of American, English, German and Austrian trades unions. The
latter are the more numerous. Germany pays dues to the International
Secretariat for 2,017,000 organized workingmen; the United States for
1,700,000; England for 725,000; Austria for 480,000; France for 340,000.
The total number of organized workingmen affiliated with the
International Secretariat is 6,033,500.[213]

[213] These figures are for 1911.



CHAPTER VIII

CHARACTER AND CONDITIONS OF REVOLUTIONARY SYNDICALISM


The history of the General Confederation of Labor as told in the
preceding chapters has brought out in a general way the character of
revolutionary syndicalism and the conditions which have influenced its
rise and development. It remains now in this last chapter to emphasize
the principal points and to strengthen them by a more complete analysis
of facts and conditions.

It has been maintained throughout this work that revolutionary
syndicalism was created by a _bloc_ of revolutionary elements in the
Confederation. This character of a _bloc_ has been denied by many. Those
hostile to the Confederation are anxious to create the impression that
the latter is exclusively the creation and the tool of the anarchists.
Others more or less impartial fail to acknowledge the part played in the
movement by the non-anarchist elements. Some anarchists themselves are
only too glad to be considered the creators of the movement and to
maintain a view which is a tribute to their organizing ability and to
their influence.

Many revolutionary syndicalists, however, protest against being
considered anarchists. Some of them are active members of the Unified
Socialist Party. Others do not belong to the Socialist party, but have
never been connected with the Anarchists. They are revolutionary
syndicalists, "pure and simple." And these two other elements are by no
means less influential in the Confederation than the Anarchists.

The three elements enumerated have somewhat different ways of regarding
revolutionary syndicalism. To the anarchists revolutionary syndicalism
is but a partial application of anarchist ideas. M. Yvetot, secretary of
the section of Bourses, said at the recent Congress of Toulouse (1910):
"I am reproached with confusing syndicalism and anarchism. It is not my
fault if anarchism and syndicalism have the same ends in view. The
former pursues the integral emancipation of the individual; the latter
the integral emancipation of the workingman. I find the whole of
syndicalism in anarchism."[214]

[214] _La Vie Ouvrière_, 20 Oct., 1910, p. 483; _XVII Congrès National
Corporatif_ (Toulouse, 1910), p. 226.

To the revolutionary socialists in the Confederation syndicalism is the
primary and fundamental form of revolutionary socialism. It does not
exclude, however, other forms; on the contrary, it must be completed by
the political organization of the Socialist party, because it has no
answer of its own to many social problems.

The third group of revolutionary syndicalists regards revolutionary
syndicalism as self-sufficing and independent of both anarchism and
socialism. This group, like the first, emphasizes the fact that there is
an irreconcilable antagonism between syndicalism and political
socialism. "It is necessary," writes Jouhaux, secretary of the
Confederation, "that the proletariat should know that between
parliamentary socialism, which is tending more and more toward a simple
democratization of existing social forms, and syndicalism, which pursues
the aim of a complete social transformation, there is not only
divergence of methods, but particularly divergence of aims."[215]

[215] L. Jouhaux, _Le Terrassier_, 20 June, 1911.

Those who consciously call themselves revolutionary syndicalists belong
to one of the groups described, and the three groups constitute the
_bloc_ spoken of above. To understand revolutionary syndicalism means to
understand this _bloc_ of revolutionary elements, how it was made
possible, why it is maintained, and what conditions have secured for it
the leadership in the General Confederation of Labor.

It has been shown in the preceding chapters that since 1830 a
considerable part of the French workingmen, the so-called "militant"
workingmen, have always cherished the hope of a "complete" or "integral"
emancipation which should free them from the wage-system and from the
economic domination of the employer. The desire of independence had
guided the life of the journeyman under the guild-system, and its birth
under modern economic conditions is natural enough to need no
explanation. But while under the guild-system this desire had an
individualistic character, under the technical conditions of the present
time it necessarily led to collectivist ideas. With the development of
highly expensive means of production, only an insignificant number of
workingmen could hope to become economically independent by individual
action, and the only way to attain economic freedom and equality for all
pointed to the collective appropriation of the means of production and
to the collective management of industrial activities.

The insistence on economic freedom--in the sense indicated--runs through
all the literature of the French Labor Movement. It is not only and not
so much the inequality of wealth, the contrasts of distribution that
stimulate the militant workingmen to their collectivist hopes, as it is
the protest against the "arbitrariness" of the employer and the ideal of
a "free workshop." To attain the latter is the main thing and forms the
program of the General Confederation as formulated in the first clause
of its statutes.

The sensitiveness to economic inferiority is increased in the French
militant workingmen by the fact that in a country like France economic
distinctions are combined with social distinctions. Owing to the
traditions of the past, economic classes are separated by a number of
other elements, in which intellectual, social and other influences
combine and which transform the economic classes into social classes.
The aspiration towards economic equality increases, therefore, in volume
and becomes a striving after social equality.

The historical traditions of France combined with the impatience for
emancipation explain the revolutionary spirit of the French socialist
workingman. All who have come into contact with French life have
convinced themselves of the power which the revolutionary traditions of
the past exert over the people. The French workingman is brought up in
the admiration of the men of the Great Revolution; his modern history is
full of revolutionary secret societies, of insurrections, and of
revolutionary struggles. He cherishes the memory of the Revolution of
1848, his indignation is aroused by the story of the Days of June, his
pity and sympathy are stimulated by the events of the Commune. Looking
backward into the history of the past century and a half, he can only
get the feeling of political instability, and the conviction is
strengthened in him that "his" revolution will come just as the
revolution of the "Third-Estate" had come. Combined with the desire to
attain the "integral" emancipation as soon as possible, these conditions
engender in him the revolutionary spirit.[216]

[216] On the peculiar character of French history see Adams, _Growth of
the French Nation_; Berry, _France since Waterloo_; Barrett Wendell,
_France of To-day_.

The revolutionary spirit predisposes the socialist workingman to a
skeptical attitude toward parliamentary action which rests on
conciliation and on compromise and is slow in operation. He seeks for
other methods which seem to promise quicker results. The methods
themselves may change; they were insurrection once, they are now the
general strike. But the end they serve remains the same: to keep up the
hope of a speedy liberation.

The distrust of parliamentary methods has been strengthened in the
French socialist workingman by another fact. The French workingmen have
seen their political leaders rise to the very top, become Ministers and
Premiers (_e. g._, Millerand, Viviani, Briand), and then turn against
their "comrades" of old. The feeling has been thereby created in the
socialist workingmen that parliamentary methods are merely a means to a
brilliant career for individuals who know how to make use of them.

The mistrust of "politicians" finds some nourishment in the fact that
the political leaders of the Socialist movement are generally the
"intellectuals," between whom and the workingmen there is also some
antagonism. The "intellectuals" are thrown out upon the social arena
principally by the lower and middle bourgeoisie and generally enter the
liberal professions. But whether lawyer, writer, doctor or teacher, the
French "intellectual" sooner or later enters the field of "politics"
which allures him by the vaster possibilities it seems to offer. In
fact, the "intellectual" has always been a conspicuous figure in the
history of French Socialism. As a socialist poet, Pierre Dupont, sang,

    "Socialism has two wings,
    The student and the workingman."

And as the socialist ideas have spread, the number of
"intellectuals" in the socialist movement has been constantly
increasing.

The "two wings" of the Socialists, however, cannot perfectly adapt
themselves to one another. The "intellectual" generally lacks the
"impatience for deliverance" which characterizes the socialist
workingman. The "intellectual" is bound by more solid ties to the
_status quo_; his intellectual preoccupations predispose him to a calmer
view of things, to regard society as a slow evolutionary process.
Besides, the "intellectual" takes pride in the fact that he supplies
"the proletariat with fresh elements of enlightenment and progress"; he
is inclined, therefore, to dominate the workingman as his "minor
brother", and to advocate methods which secure his own predominant part
in the movement. Parliamentary action is the field best adapted to his
character and powers. The socialist workingman, on the other hand,
protests against the tendencies of the "intellectual", particularly
against the dominating impulses of the latter. He is anxious to limit
the powers of his leaders, if possible, and to create such forms of
organization as shall assure his own independence.

When the syndicats began to develop in France, the revolutionary
workingmen seized upon them as a form of organization particularly
adapted to their demands. The syndicat was an organization which could
take up the ideal of social emancipation; in the general strike, which
the syndicat seemed to carry within itself, there was a method of speedy
liberation; the syndicat excluded the "intellectuals" and above all by
its "direct action" it maintained and strengthened the revolutionary
spirit and safeguarded the revolutionary ideal from the compromises and
dangers to which politics and the parliamentary socialists subjected
it.

These conditions: the hope of social emancipation, the impatience for
deliverance, the revolutionary spirit, and the defiance of the
"intellectuals" and of the "politicians," gave and continue to give life
to revolutionary syndicalism. They brought into being the "revolutionary
_bloc_" in the General Confederation of Labor and maintain it there. Of
course, differences of temperament and shadings of opinion exist. On the
one extreme are those who are most vehement in their propaganda and who
combat the Socialist party; on the other, are the revolutionary
socialists who are disposed to co-operate with the parliamentary
socialists, but who want to have an independent organization to fall
back upon in case of disagreement with the political party. But
differing in details, the revolutionary elements agree in the main
points and they stamp upon the Confederation the character which it
bears and which is described in the terms "revolutionary syndicalism."

The opponents of the revolutionary syndicalists claim that the latter
are followed only by a minority in the General Confederation and that
they maintain their leadership by means of the existing system of
representation and by other more or less arbitrary devices. This
statement, however, cannot be proved in any satisfactory way.

The best way of obtaining the exact number of revolutionary syndicalists
in the Confederation would seem to be by means of an analysis of the
votes taken at the Congresses. This method, however, is defective for
several reasons. In the first place, not all the syndicats adhering to
the Confederation are represented at the Congresses. At the Congress of
Bourges (1904), 1,178 syndicats out of 1,792 were represented; at the
Congress of Amiens, 1,040 out of 2,399; at the Congress of Marseilles,
1,102 out of 2,586, and at the Congress of Toulouse, 1,390 out of 3,012.
It is evident, therefore, that even if all the votes were taken
unanimously, they would still express the opinion of less than half the
syndicats of the Confederation.

In the second place, the votes of the Confederation being taken by
syndicats, to get the exact figures it would be necessary to know how
many syndicats in each federation are revolutionary or not, and what is
the proportional strength of both tendencies in each syndicat. This is
impossible in the present state of statistical information furnished by
the Confederation.

At the Congress of Amiens, for instance, the vote approving the report
of the Confederal Committee (Section of Federation) stood 815 against
106 (18 blanks). This vote is important, because to approve or to reject
the report meant to approve or to reject the ideas by which the General
Confederation is guided.

Now, an analysis of the vote at Amiens shows that while some
organizations voted solidly for the Confederal Committee, none voted
solidly against it and that the votes of many organizations were
divided. But even the number of those represented by the unanimous vote
of their syndicats cannot in the most cases be ascertained. For
instance, the agricultural syndicats cast their 28 votes for the
Confederal Committee; the report of the Confederal Committee gives the
Federation of Agricultural Laborers 4,405 members; but the same report
says that the Federation consisted of 106 syndicats; of these 106
syndicats only 28 were represented at the Congress, and how many members
they represented there is no possibility of ascertaining. The same is
true of those Federations in which the syndicats did not cast the same
vote.

This difficulty is felt by those who try to prove by figures that the
Confederation is dominated by a minority. M. Ch. Franck, for instance,
calculates that at the Congress of Marseilles 46 organizations with 716
mandates representing 143,191 members obtained the majority for the
_statu quo_ against the proposition of proportional representation;
while the minority consisted of 15 organizations with 379 mandates
representing 145,440 members. In favor of the anti-militaristic
resolution, he calculates further, 33 organizations with 670 mandates
representing 114,491 members obtained the majority against 19
organizations with 406 mandates representing 126,540 members. But he is
compelled to add immediately: "These figures have no absolute value,
because we have taken each organization in its entirety, while in the
same federation some syndicats have not voted with the majority"; he
thinks that the proportion remains nevertheless the same because he did
not take into consideration the divisions on each side.[217]

[217] _Op. cit._, pp. 345-6.

The last assumption, however, is arbitrary, because the syndicats
dissenting on the one side may have been more numerous than those not
voting with the majority on the other side; the whole calculation,
besides, is fallacious, because it takes the figures of the federations
in their entirety, while only a part of the syndicats composing them
took part in the votes.

The attempt, therefore, to estimate the exact number of the
revolutionary syndicalists in the Confederation must be given up for the
present. The approximate estimate on either side can be given. According
to M. Pawlowski,[218] 250,000 members of the Confederation (out of
400,000) repudiate the revolutionary doctrine; the revolutionary
syndicalists, on the other hand, claim a majority of two-thirds for
themselves. The impartial student must leave the question open.

[218] A. Pawlowski, _La Confédération Générale du Travail_ (Paris,
1910), p. 51.

It must be pointed out, however, that the system of representation which
exists now in the Confederation affects both revolutionary and reformist
syndicalists in a more or less equal degree. At the Congress of Amiens,
for instance, the _Fédération du Livre_, with its 10,000 members, had
135 votes; the Railway Syndicat, with its 24,275 members, had only 36
votes; these two organizations were among the "reformists" who combated
the Confederal Committee. On the other hand, the revolutionary
Federation of Metallurgy had 84 votes for its 14,000 members, but the
Federation of Marine, which is also revolutionary, disposed of six votes
only for its 12,000 members. The revolutionary syndicalists, therefore,
may be right in their assertion that proportional representation would
not change the leadership of the Confederation. This belief is
strengthened in them by the fact that in all so-called "reformist"
organizations, as the _Fédération du Livre_, the Railway Syndicat, etc.,
there are strong and numerous revolutionary minorities.

It is often asserted that only the small syndicats, mostly belonging to
the small trades, follow the revolutionary syndicalists. This assertion,
however, is inexact. An examination of the syndicats which are
considered revolutionary shows that some of them are very large and that
others belong to the most centralized industries of France. For
instance, the Federation of Building Trades is the most revolutionary
organization in the Confederation; at the same time it is the most
numerous, and its members pay the highest dues (after the _Fédération
du Livre_) in France.[219] The revolutionary Federation of Metallurgy is
also one of the large organizations in the Confederation and belongs to
an industry which is one of the most centralized in France. The total
horse-power of machines used in the metallurgic industries has increased
from 175,070 in 1891 to 419,128 in 1906; the number of establishments
has diminished from 4,642 in 1891 to 4,544 in 1906; that is, the total
horse-power of machinery used in every industrial establishment has
increased during this period from 38 to 92;[220] the number of
workingmen per industrial establishment has also increased from 508 in
1896 to 697 in 1901 and to 711 in 1906. In fact the metallurgic industry
occupies the second place after the mining industry which is the most
centralized in France.[221]

[219] _Mouvement Socialiste_, May, 1911.

[220] E. Thery, _Les Progrès Économiques de la France_ (Paris, 1909), p.
181.

[221] _Journal des Économistes_, Jan., 1911, p. 133.

A diversity of conditions prevails in the industries to which the other
revolutionary organizations belong. On the other hand, the so-called
reformist organizations, the Federation of Mines, the _Fédération du
Livre_, the Federation of Employees, differ in many respects and are
determined in their policy by many considerations and conditions which
are peculiar to each one of them.

The influence of the revolutionary syndicalists, therefore, can be
explained not by special technical conditions, but by general conditions
which are economic, political and psychological. To bring out the
relation of these conditions to the syndicalist doctrine it is necessary
to analyze the latter into its constituent elements and to discuss them
one by one.

The fundamental condition which determines the policy of "direct
action" is the poverty of French syndicalism. Except the _Fédération du
Livre_, only a very few federations pay a more or less regular strike
benefit; the rest have barely means enough to provide for their
administrative and organizing expenses and can not collect any strike
funds worth mentioning. In 1908, for instance, there were 1,073 strikes;
of these 837 were conducted by organized workingmen. Only in 46 strikes
was regular assistance assured for the strikers, and in 36 cases only
was the assistance given in money.[222] The French workingmen,
therefore, are forced to fall back on other means during strikes. Quick
action, intimidation, _sabotage_, are then suggested to them by their
very situation and by their desire to win.

[222] _Statistique des Grèves_, 1909, vi-vii.

The lack of financial strength explains also the enthusiasm and the
sentiments of general solidarity which characterize French strikes. An
atmosphere of enthusiasm must be created in order to keep up the
fighting spirit in the strikers. To the particular struggle in any one
trade a wider and more general significance must be attributed; it must
be interpreted as a partial manifestation of a more general
class-struggle. In this way the determination to struggle on is
strengthened in those who strike and a moral justification is created
for an appeal to the solidarity of all workingmen. These appeals are
made constantly during strikes. Subscription lists are kept in the
_Bourses du Travail_, in the Confederal Committee on Strikes, and are
opened in the workingmen's and socialist newspapers whenever any big
strike occurs.

New means to make up for the lack of financial resources are constantly
devised. Of these means two which have come into existence within
recent years are the _soupes communistes_ and the "exodus of children."
The _soupes communistes_ are organized by the _Bourses du Travail_ and
consist of meals distributed to those on strike. The _soupes
communistes_ permit the feeding of a comparatively large number of
strikers at small expense. Distribution occurs at certain points. The
workingmen, if they wish, may take their meals home. The last
Conferences of the section of Bourses have discussed the question how to
organize these _soupes communistes_ more systematically and as cheaply
as possible.

The "exodus of children" consists in sending away the children of the
strikers to workingmen of other towns while the strike is going on. It
has been used during several strikes and attracted widespread attention.
The "exodus of children" relieves the strikers at home and creates
sympathy for them over the country at large.

Financial weakness has also led French syndicats in recent years to
reconsider the question of co-operation. Various federations have
expressed themselves at their federal congresses in favor of
"syndicalist co-operatives" in which all associates are at the same time
members of the syndicat and organized on a communist basis. The main
argument brought forward in favor of such co-operatives is the support
they could furnish to workingmen on strike.

The poverty of the French syndicats is the result of the reluctance of
the French workingmen to pay high dues. In the _Fédération du Livre_,
which has the highest dues, every member pays a little over two francs a
month. In other federations the dues are lower, coming down in some
organizations to 10 centimes a month. In recent years there has been a
general tendency in all federations to increase dues, but the efforts of
the syndicalist functionaries in this direction have met with but slow
and partial success.

The reluctance to high dues is in part the result of the comparatively
low wages which prevail in France. Another factor is the psychology of
the French workingman. "Our impulsive and rebellious (_frondeur_)
temperament," wrote the Commission which organized the Congress of
Montpellier, "does not lend itself to high dues, and if we are always
ready to painful sacrifices of another nature, we have not yet been able
to understand the enormous advantages which would follow from strong
syndicalist treasuries maintained by higher assessments."[223] The
French workingmen are conscious of their peculiar traits, and the
literature of the syndicalist movement is full of both jeremiads and
panegyrics with regard to these traits, according to the speaker and to
the circumstances. The French workingmen recognize that they lack
method, persistence and foresight, while they are sensitive, impulsive
and combative.[224]

[223] _XIII Congrès National Corporatif_, 1902, pp. 30-31.

[224] _X Congrès National Corporatif_, p. 203; _XII Congrès National
Corporatif_, pp. 15, 29, 44.

The result of this psychology is not only poor syndicats, but syndicats
weak in other respects. Many syndicats are but loosely held together,
are easily dissolved and are composed of a more or less variable and
shifting membership. The instability is increased of course by the
absence of benevolent features in the syndicats. The _Fédération du
Livre_ alone pays sick and other benefits.

The weakness of the syndicats predisposes the French workingmen to more
and more generalized forms of struggle. Syndicats on strike impelled by
the desire to increase their forces try to involve as many trades and
workingmen as possible and to enhance their own chances by enlarging
the field of struggle. This is why such general movements, as the
movement for an eight-hour day in 1906, described in the preceding
chapter, are advocated by the syndicats. The latter feel that in order
to gain any important demand they must be backed by as large a number of
workingmen as possible. But in view of their weakness, the syndicats can
start a large movement only by stirring up the country, by formulating
some general demand which appeals to all workingmen. The same conditions
explain in part the favor which the idea of the general strike has found
in the syndicats.

Such forms of struggle must necessarily bring the syndicats into
conflict with the State, particularly in France where the State is
highly centralized and assumes so many functions. With a people so
impulsive as the French, the intervention of the forces of the State in
the economic struggles must inevitably lead to collisions of a more or
less serious character. The result is a feeling of bitterness in the
workingmen towards the army, the police and the government in general.
The ground is thus prepared for anti-militaristic, anti-State and
anti-patriotic ideas.

The organized workingmen are a minority of the working-class. Still they
must act as if they were the majority or the entirety of the workingmen.
The contradiction must be smoothed over by some explanation, and the
theory of the "conscious minority" arises to meet the situation. The
weaker the syndicats and the more often they are exposed to the danger
of dissolution the greater the necessity of the theory. A disorganized
syndicat generally leaves behind a handful of militant workingmen
determined to keep up the organization. The theory of the "conscious
minority" is both a stimulus to and a justification for the activities
of these persistent "militants."

To the conditions described the French love of theory, of high-sounding
phrases, and of idealistic formulas must be added. For a Frenchman it is
not sufficient to act under necessity: the act must be generalized into
a principle, the principles systematized, and the system of theory
compressed into concise and catching formulas. And once abstracted,
systematized and formulated, the ideas become a distinct force exerting
an influence in the same direction as the conditions to which they
correspond.

When all this is taken into account, it is easier to understand the
influence of the revolutionary syndicalists. It is insufficient to
explain their leadership by clever machinations of the Confederal
Committee, as M. Mermeix and many others do. It is quite true that the
Confederal Committee tries to maintain its power by all means possible.
It sends out delegates to Federal Congresses, on conference tours over
the country, to assist workingmen on strikes, etc. In most cases it
sends only men who represent the revolutionary ideas of the Committee
and who, therefore, strengthen the influence of the latter by word and
deed. It is also true that in most _Bourses du Travail_ the secretaries
are revolutionary and that they help to consolidate the influence of the
Confederal Committee. But these secretaries have not usurped their
power. They are elected because they have come to the front as speakers,
writers, organizers, strike-leaders, etc. And they could come to the
front only because conditions were such as to make their ideas and
services helpful.

Whatever one's attitude to the Confederation, one must acknowledge the
results it has achieved. The strike statistics of France, given in the
following table, show the following facts:

                _Per cent of          _Per cent of
  _Period_      strikes which      strikers who lost
                   failed_           their strikes_

  1890-1899         44.61                38.63
  1891-1900         43.86                34.17
  1892-1901         42.69                35.42
  1893-1902         42.48                31.75
  1894-1903         42.13                26.98
  1895-1904         40.24                25.09
  1896-1905         39.07                23.76
  1897-1906         38.05                25.91
  1898-1907         38.14                25.37
  1899-1908         35.79                25.83

Of course, these results can not be attributed entirely to the action of
the Confederation. On the other hand, the influence of the Confederation
on the improvement of general conditions of employment, on social
legislation, etc., is undeniable. "In all branches of human activity,"
says M. Pawlowski, "wages have risen with a disconcerting and
disquieting rapidity."[225] The agitation for the eight-hour day and the
rising of 1906 hastened the vote on the weekly rest, induced the
government to consider the application of the ten-hour day, popularized
the practice of the "English week," etc.[226]

[225] A. Pawlowski, _La Confédération Générale du Travail_, p. 130.

[226] _Ibid._, p. 123.

Whether the same or better results could have been obtained by
"reformist" methods, is not a question to be considered, because in most
cases the syndicats have no choice. A strike once begun, the character
of the struggle is determined by conditions which exist and not by any
that would be desirable. This is proved by the fact that very often the
so-called "reformist" syndicats carry on their struggles in the same
way and by the same methods as do the revolutionary ones.

The comparative influence of the Confederation explains the fact why the
"reformists" do not leave the organization, though they are bitter in
their opposition to the revolutionists. The "reformists" feel that they
would thereby lose a support which is of value to them. Besides, in many
cases such an act would lead to divisions within the reformist
federations, all of which, as already indicated, contain considerable
revolutionary minorities.

The revolutionary syndicalists, however, are in their turn compelled to
make concessions to those exigences of the labor movement which have
nothing to do with revolutionary ends. Of course, the revolutionary
syndicalists are workingmen and they are interested in the immediate
improvement of economic conditions. But there can be little doubt that
the leaders and the more conscious and pronounced revolutionary
syndicalists are mainly interested in their revolutionary ideal, in the
abolition of capitalism and of the wage-system. The struggles for higher
wages, shorter hours, etc., are a necessity which they must make a
virtue of while awaiting the hoped-for final struggle. And when they
theorize about the continuity of the struggles of to-day with the great
struggles of to-morrow, when they interpret their every-day activities
as part of a continuous social warfare, they are merely creating a
theory which in its turn justifies their practice and preserves their
revolutionary fire from extinction.

But theorizing does not essentially change the character of all
syndicalist activities. The Confederal Committee must attend to the
administrative and other questions, such as the questions of _viaticum_,
of the label, etc. The necessities of the syndical movement often lead
the members of the Confederal Committee into the antechambers of
Parliament or into the private rooms of the Ministers whose assistance
is solicited. The most revolutionary federations can not help entering
into negotiations with employers for the settlement of strikes. In
practice, therefore, the distinction between "revolutionary" and
"reformist" syndicalists is often obscured, because both act as they
must and not as they would.[227]

[227] This is admitted by both sides. See reports of last Congress held
at Toulouse (1910), p. 111.

This must not be interpreted to mean that there is any conscious
hypocrisy or undue personal interest on the part of the leaders of the
revolutionary syndicalists. On the contrary, the most bitter opponents
of the Confederation must admit that the reverse is true. "However one
may judge their propaganda," says M. Mermeix, "he is obliged to
acknowledge the disinterestedness of the libertarians who lead the
syndicalist movement. They do not work for money...."[228] There is also
no field in the Confederation for political ambition. Still the movement
has its demands which require suppleness and pliability on the part of
the leaders and which make impossible the rigid application of
principles.

[228] Terrail-Mermeix, _La Syndicalisme contre le Socialisme_ (Paris,
1907), p. 231.

On the other hand, the revolutionary syndicalists have in the syndicats
a tremendous force for their revolutionary ends. The close relation of
syndical life to all political and economic problems gives the
Confederal Committee the opportunity to participate in all questions of
interest. The high cost of living, the danger of a war, the legislative
policy of the government, troubles among the wine-growers, any public
question, indeed, is the occasion for the intervention of the Confederal
Committee. The latter appears, then, also as a revolutionary
organization which is always ready to criticise, to discredit and to
attack the government, and which is openly pursuing the overthrow of
existing institutions in France. And when one keeps in mind the
indefatigable anti-militaristic and anti-patriotic propaganda carried on
by the _Bourses du Travail_ all over the country, the revolutionary
character of the Confederation may be fully appreciated.

What is the future that may be predicted for the General Confederation
of Labor? Will the synthesis of revolutionism and of unionism that has
been achieved in it continue more or less stable until the "final"
triumph of the revolutionary syndicalists? Or will the latter be
overpowered by the "reformist" elements who will impress their ideas on
the Confederation and who will change the character of French
syndicalism?

These questions cannot at present be answered. The movement is so young
that no clear tendencies either way can be discerned. The two
possibilities, however, may be considered in connection with the
conditions that would be required to transform them into realities.

Those who predict a change in the character of French syndicalism
generally have the history of English Trades Unionism in mind. They
compare revolutionary syndicalism to the revolutionary period of English
Trades Unionism and think of the change that came about in the latter in
the third quarter of the past century. But the comparison is of little
value, because the conditions of France are different from those of
England, and because the international economic situation to-day is very
different from what it was fifty years ago.

It is probable that if the French syndicats should develop into large
and strong unions, highly centralized and provided with large
treasuries, other ideas and methods would prevail in the syndicalist
movement. But this change is dependent on a change in the economic life
of France. France must cease to be "the banker of Europe," must cease to
let other countries use its piled-up millions[229] for the development
of their natural resources and industry, and must devote itself to the
intensification of its own industrial activities. Such a change could
bring about greater productivity, higher wages, and a higher
concentration of the workingmen of the country. This change in
conditions of life might result in a modification of the psychology of
the French workingmen, though how rapid and how thorough-going such a
process could be is a matter of conjecture. But whether France will or
can follow the example of England or of Germany, in view of its natural
resources and of the situation of the international market, it does not
seem possible to say.[230] Besides, to change completely the character
of French syndicalism, it would be necessary to wipe out the political
history of France and its revolutionary traditions.

[229] It is estimated that France has about 40,000,000,000 francs
invested in foreign countries.

[230] See Preface to Second Edition.

On the other hand, the triumph of the revolutionary syndicalists
presupposes a total readjustment of groups and of interests. The
Confederation counts now about 600,000 members. Official statistics
count over 1,000,000 organized workingmen in France. But it must be
remembered that the federations underestimate their numbers for the
Confederation in order to pay less, while they exaggerate their numbers
for the _Annuaire Statistique_ in order to appear more formidable. The
Confederation, besides, for various reasons rejects a number of
organizations which desire to join it. It may be safe to say,
therefore, that the Confederation brings under its influence the greater
part of the organized workingmen of France.

But the total number of workingmen in France, according to the Census of
1906, is about 10,000,000, of which about 5,000,000 are employed in
industry and in transportation. The numbers of independent producers in
industry, commerce, and agriculture is about 9,000,000, of which about
2,000,000 are _petits patrons_. Over a million and a half persons are
engaged in the liberal professions and in the public services.[231]

[231] The active population in 1906 was over 20,000,000, out of a total
population of over 39,000,000. _Journal des Économistes_, Jan., 1911.

Among the latter the revolutionary syndicalists have met with success in
recent years. The ideas of revolutionary syndicalism have gained
adherents among the employees of the Post Office, Telegraph and
Telephone, and among the teachers of the public schools. The recent
Congresses of the teachers have declared themselves ready to collaborate
with the workingmen for the realization of their ideal society. The
following motion adopted by the recent Congress of Nantes, at which 500
delegates were present, is very characteristic: "The professional
associations of teachers (men and women), employees of the State, of the
Departments and of the Communes," reads the motion, "assembled in the
_Bourses du Travail_, declare their sympathy for the working-class,
declare that the best form of professional action is the syndical form;
express their will to work together with the workingmen's organizations
for the realization of the Social Republic."[232]

[232] _L'Humanité_, August 8, 1911.

Also among the industrial and commercial middle classes there are some
who look with favor on syndicalism. The French middle classes have for
the last quarter of a century tried to organize themselves for
resistance against the "financial feudalism" from which they suffer.
Several organizations have been formed among the small merchants and
masters, and in 1908 the "Association for the Defense of the Middle
Classes" was constituted. The president of this Association, M. Colrat,
wrote: "The ideas of the bourgeois syndicalism on the future are the
same as those of the workingmen's syndicalism.... Far from contradicting
one another, the syndicalism of the middle classes and the syndicalism
of the working-classes reinforce each other in many respects, and
notwithstanding many vexations, they lead to a state of relative
equilibrium by a certain equality of opposing forces."[233] In the
struggle against the big capitalists the leaders of the middle classes
appear to be ready to form an alliance with the working-class. There can
be little doubt, however, that the middle classes in general are opposed
to the revolutionary ideals of the syndicalists. To succeed, the
revolutionary syndicalists must bring about a change in the attitude of
these classes, for the history of France has shown that the fear of
"Communism" may throw the middle classes into the arms of a Caesar.

[233] M. Colrat, _Vers l'équilibre social_, quoted by Mr. J. L. Puecht,
"Le Mouvement des Classes Moyennes," in _La Grande Revue_, Dec., 1910.

Whatever possibility may become a reality, France seems destined to go
through a series of more or less serious struggles. Hampered by the
elements which hark back to the past and which have not yet lost all
importance, disorganized by the revolutionists who look forward to the
future for the realization of their ideal, the Republic of France is
still lacking the stability which could save her from upheavals and from
historical surprises. The highly centralized form of government and the
dominating position which Paris still holds in the life of France make
such surprises easier and more tempting than would otherwise be the
case. The process of social readjustment which is going on all over the
world at present, therefore, must lead in France to a more or less
catastrophic collision of the discordant elements which her political
and economic history have brought into existence.

The struggle has already begun. The government of the Republic is
determined to put an end to the revolutionary activities of the
syndicalists. It is urged on by all those who believe that only the
weakness of the Government has been the cause of the strength of the
Syndicalists. On the other hand, the Syndicalists are determined to
fight their battle to the end. What the outcome may be is hidden in the
mystery of the future. _Qui vivra--verra_.



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Griffuelhes, V. _Voyage révolutionnaire; impressions d'un
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_L'Humanité_. Socialist daily published since 1905. Contains many
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Lagardelle, H. "Die Syndikalistische Bewegung in Frankreich." _Archiv
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Academy of Political and Social Science_. 1912.

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_Libertaire, Le_. Anarchist weekly.

Lorulot, André. _Le Syndicalisme et la transformation sociale_. Arcueil,
1909.

Louis, Paul. _Histoire du socialisme français_. Paris, 1901.

Louis, P. _Histoire du mouvement syndical en France_. Paris, 1907.

Louis, P. _Le syndicalisme contre l'état_. Paris, 1910.

Louis, P. "Die Einheitsbestrebungen im französischen Sozialismus."
_Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik_. Tübingen, 1909.

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1907.

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1872.

_Mouvement Socialiste_. Published since 1899. Particularly valuable for
students of revolutionary syndicalism.

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partis socialistes, edited by Zévaès. Paris, 1911.

Parti Socialiste. Proceedings of annual conventions (1904-1913).

Pataud, E. et Pouget, E. _Comment nous ferons la révolution_. Paris,
1909. Translated into English by Charlotte and Frederick Charles, under
title: _Syndicalism and the Co-operative Commonwealth_. London, 1913.

Pawlowski, A. _La confédération générale du travail_. Paris, 1910.

Pelloutier, F. _Le congrès général du parti socialiste français_. Paris,
1900.

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1911.

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Perdiguier, Agricol. _Le livre du compagnonnage_. Second edition. Paris,
1841.

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Pouget, E. _Le sabotage_. Paris, 1910. English translation by Arturo M.
Giovannitti.

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Pouget, S. _Le syndicat_. Paris.

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socialistes, edited by Zévaès. Paris, 1912.

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1865.

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_Revue Socialiste_. Monthly.

_Revue Syndicaliste_. Monthly published from May, 1905, to January,
1910.

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Paris, 1902.

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_Socialiste, Le_. Organe central du Parti Socialiste Français.

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Epstein. New York, 1909.

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1901.

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Sorel, G. _Introduction à l'économie moderne_. Second edition. Paris.

Sorel, G. _La révolution dreyfusienne_. Second edition. Paris, 1911.

Sorel, G. "La polémique pour l'interprétation du marxisme." _Revue
internationale de sociologie_. Paris, 1900.

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Spargo, John. _Syndicalism, Industrial Unionism, and Socialism_. New
York, 1913.

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St. Leon, E. Martin. _Le compagnnonnage_. Paris, 1901.

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Paris.

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Terrail-Mermeix. _Le syndicalisme contre le socialisme_. Paris, 1907.

_Terrassier, Le_. Published bi-weekly by some syndicats of the
building-trades.

_Temps Nouveaux_. Anarchist weekly.

Thomas, Albert. _Le second empire_. Paris, 1907.

Tridon, André. _The New Unionism_. New York, 1913.

_Vie Ouvrière_. Revue Syndicaliste Bi-mensuelle. Paris.

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1874.

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Warbasse, James Peter. _The Ethics of Sabotage_. Pamphlet. New York,
1913.

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Warin, Robert. _Les Syndicats Jaunes_. Paris, 1908.

Webb, Sydney and Beatrice. _An Examination of Syndicalism_. London,
1912.

Webb, B. and S. _History of Trade Unionism_.

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1904. Second edition, 1910.

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volumes. Paris, 1911.

Zévaès, Alexandre. _Le Socialisme en France depuis 1871_. Paris, 1908.

Zévaès, Alexandre. _Le Syndicalisme Contemporain_. Paris, 1911.

Zévaès, Alexandre. _Le Socialisme en 1912_. Vol. 11 of Histoire des
partis socialistes. Paris, 1912.

Zévaès, Alexandre. _De la semaine sanglante au Congrès de Marseille
(1871-1879)_. Vol. 2 of Histoire des partis socialistes, edited by
Zévaès. Paris, 1911.

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socialistes. Paris, 1911.



[Transcriber's note:

List of corrected printers' errors:

pages 14, 15, 48, 132, 145, 183 and 189 "working class" changed to
"working-class"

Page 5 "devolpment" changed to "development" ("it is also a development
of the French Labor Movement.")

page 13 "coöperative" changed to "co-operative" ("Revolution of 1848 and
the co-operative movement") and ("Failure of co-operative central bank in
1868")

page 13 "coöperation" changed to "co-operation" ("--Syndicats and
co-operation--")

page 16 -- added ("French workingmen--Causes of the")

page 30 "Perdigiuer" changed to "Perdiguier" ("Agricol Perdiguier, _Le
Livre du Compagnonnage_, 1841.")

page 32 "resistance" change to "résistance" ("was the _société de
résistance_")

Page 32 "." replaced with "," ("_Les Associations Professionelles_, vol.
i. pp. 201-203.")

page 35 "presecuted" changed to "persecuted" ("organizations were
persecuted;")

page 40 "Cöopération" changed to "Co-opération" ("_La Co-opération_
(Paris, 1904)")

page 51 "bourgois" changed to "bourgeois" ("separation which existed
between bourgeois and workingmen")

page 52 footnote reference altered, referred to wrong footnote

page 56 "hemmoroids" changed to "hemorrhoids" ("which it leaves to the
hemorrhoids of bourgeois of every stamp")

page 62 "Counseil" changed to "Conseil" ("(the _Conseil fédéral
national_)")

page 65 "Arbeiter-bewegung" changed to "Arbeiterbewegung" ("_Theorie und
Praxis des Generalstreiks in der modernen Arbeiterbewegung_")

page 68 missing "not" added ("they argued that the general strike could
not be successful")

page 71 "employes" changed to "employees" ("of workingmen and of
employees of both sexes")

page 71 missing " added ("(_Parti syndical politicien_)."")

page 75 missing "(" added ("_Bourses du Travail_ (1896)")

page 80 "Nouveoux" changed to "Nouveaux" ("_Temps Nouveaux_, 23 Mars,
1901.")

page 93 "Alemanists" changed to "Allemanists" ("defended by Allemanists
and anarchists,")

page 93 "Guerard" changed to "Guérard" ("M. Guérard who defended the
idea before the Congress. Said M. Guérard:")

page 94 "Guerard" changed to "Guérard" ("And M. Guérard, applauded by
the audience,")

page 96 "recomended" changed to "recommended" ("To this end the report
recommended")

page 97 "sub-committes" changed to "sub-committees" ("Only twenty
Bourses formed sub-committees.")

page 98 "Congès" changed to "Congrès" ("_X Congrès National
Corporatif_")

page 101 removed " ("the completest possible emancipation.")

page 103 "posesses" changed to "possess" ("the workingmen who
possess nothing.")

page 104 "Guerard" changed to "Guérard" ("The secretary of the
Confederation, M. Guérard,")

page 104 , removed "," from "complained that the _Voix du Peuple_"

page 109 "bourgeoise" changed to "bourgeoisie" ("alliance of the
bourgeoisie and of the working-class")

page 111 footnote reference altered, referred to wrong footnote

page 113 removed " ("stop the offensive movement of the workingmen.")

page 114 missing " added (""independently of all parliamentarism"")

page 116 "Parlémentaires" changed to "Parlementaires" ("_Chambre des
Deputés, Débats Parlementaires_")

page 117 "Francais" changed to "Français" ("_Parti Socialiste
Français_")

page 117 "Jaures" changed to "Jaurès" ("and J. Jaurès outlined a plan
according")

page 126 "," replaced with "." ("the strike, the boycott, the label, and
_sabotage_.")

page 127 missing "." added ("It is a revolutionary fact of great
value.")

page 129 "merchchandise" change to "merchandise" ("and of perishable
merchandise.")

page 130 missing " added to end of phrase ("source of intrigues and of
"wire-pulling."")

page 135 "counterbalance" changed to "counter-balance" ("will
counter-balance the centralizing tendencies")

page 137 "particulary" changed to "particularly" ("Moreover, the
syndicats, particularly")

page 137 "train" changed to "trains" ("The very struggle which the
syndicats carry on trains the workingmen")

page 138 "workinmen" changed to "workingmen" ("The mass of workingmen")

page 138 "massess" changed to "masses" ("keep the masses as quiet,")

page 154 "Jaures" changed to "Jaurès" ("by M. Jaurès "the metaphysician
of revolutionary syndicalism,"")

page 155 "Movement" changed to "Mouvement" ("_Mouvement Socialiste_")

page 155 "Sozialwissenchaft" changed to "Sozialwissenschaft" ("_Archiv
für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik_")

page 156 "Les" changed "Le" ("_Le Mouvement Socialiste_ (May, 1908),
p. 390.")

page 157 "Jaures" changed to "Jaurès" ("just as Kropotkin, Jaurès,
Proudhon")

page 158 "Guerard" changed to "Guérard" ("General Confederation of
Labor, M. Guérard, wrote,")

page 159 "approfundir" changed to "approfondir" ("his life in the
deepening (_approfondir_)")

page 164 "," replaced with "." ("relations between the adhering
federations.")

page 164 "it" replaced with "its" ("This section appoints its own
secretary,")

page 169 "idemnity" changed to "indemnity" ("employment bureaus with
indemnity in 1901-2.")

page 170 "Economistes" changed to "Économistes" ("_Journal des
Économistes_")

page 172 "Guerard" changed to "Guérard"("and by M. Guérard, the delegate
of the railway workers.")

page 177 "Debats" changed to "Débats" ("_Journal des Débats_ (27 April,
1906), p. 769.")

page 181 "economie" changed to "economic" ("it was an instrument in
economic struggles")

page 182 "coöperation" changed to "co-operation" ("a co-operation of
various political elements.")

page 187 "," replaced with "." ("of the government. The reports of the")

page 190 "Offie" changed to "Office" ("employees grievances of the Post
Office employees")

page 190 missing " added (""revolutionaries"")

page 191 "coöperation" changed to "co-operation" ("soliciting the
co-operation of the government.")

page 196 extra "the" removed ("the passage of the three years'")

page 200 missing " added ("" ... but particularly divergence of aims."")

page 200 "sydicalists" changed to "syndicalists" ("The third group of
revolutionary syndicalists")

page 203 "Vivani" changed to "Viviani" ("(_e. g._, Millerand, Viviani,
Briand)")

page 209 "Economistes" changed to "Économistes" ("_Journal des
Économistes_")

page 211 extra "and" removed ("the strikers at home and creates")

page 211 "yeas" changed to "years" ("in recent years")

page 211 "Fèdèration" changed to "Fédération" ("_Fédération du Livre_")

page 214 "sytematized" changed to "systematized" ("the principles
systematized,")

page 224 "Etude" changed to "Étude" ("_Étude historique, économique et
juridique sur les coalitions et les grèves_")

page 225 "Ecole" changed to "École" ("Conferences organisées a la
Société des anciens élèves de l'École libre des Sciences politiques.")

page 226 "Evolution" changed to "Évolution" ("Kritsky. _L'Évolution du
syndicalisme en France_.")

page 226 "," replaced with "." ("Louis, Paul.")]





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