Between Justice and Politics: The Ligue Des Droits de L'homme, 1898-1945

By William D. Irvine | Go to book overview

THREE
Politics, Yes, but
Not Electoral Politics

In one of his more candid moments, Victor Basch observed: “Every spokesman for the League, from Trarieux, through Pressensé, Buisson, myself, Bouglé, Guernut and the rest have consistently stated that the League does not involve itself in politics. In reality, however, and let us admit it, that is all it does, it does nothing but politics.”1 But, he hastened to add, it was politics in the broadest and best sense of the word: public policy. When members of the League asserted that on ne fait pas de la politique, they meant that the League did not engage in electoral politics or in parliamentary politics. Even as modified, his claim about the League’s stance on politics was highly misleading.

In fact the League always paid special attention to elections. Prior to the 1902 elections, the Central Committee published a manifesto reminding the electorate that it had been the first to spot, lurking behind “a judicial affair,” the “imminent danger of a counter-revolutionary plot” and to have “opened the path to the organization of republican defence.” Neither the League nor its local sections were to be confounded with “electoral committees” of course. Nonetheless, the Committee insisted, “we have the duty to come to an agreement on what . . . we must ask of the candidates to whom our votes will go.”2 The League, in short, could support only sincere republicans. Local branches of the League often took these principles a step further. In 1902, the president of the section of Angoulême in the Charente reminded his members that “we must necessarily occupy ourselves with political and electoral questions in order to defend the sacred principles of ’89 and ’93 which are inscribed in our statutes.”3 Francis de Pressensé, the newly elected deputy from Lyons and shortly to become League president, proudly read a report from his section that boasted of its active role in his election.4 And despite President Trarieux’s assertions that the League must “have nothing to do with politics properly speaking, must not have plans for government and must not be confused with

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Between Justice and Politics: The Ligue Des Droits de L'homme, 1898-1945
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Between Justice and Politics - The Ligue Des Droits de L'homme, 1898–1945 iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • One - Origins, Organization, and Structure 5
  • Two - Ici on Ne Fait Pas de la Politique 20
  • Three - Politics, Yes, but Not Electoral Politics 53
  • Four - Liberty with All Its Risks 81
  • Five - The League from below 111
  • Six - War and Peace- 1914–1934 132
  • Seven - From the Popular Front to the Fall of France 160
  • Eight - Vichy 194
  • Epilogue 213
  • Notes 225
  • Bibliography 255
  • Index 257
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