Liberalism and Social Reform: Industrial Growth and Progressiste Politics in France, 1880-1914

By David M. Gordon | Go to book overview

Conclusion

History, J. G. A. Pocock tells us, is largely "an exercise in political ironics--an intelligible story of how men's actions produce results other than those they intended." He attributes this to the Greeks. It is an observation appropriate to the political history of the French Third Republic. At the turn of the twentieth century, Progressistes and Socialists were irreconcilably opposed. Progressistes were liberals. They were defenders of capitalism and the free market economy. Several of their chief industrial leaders were also champions of free trade and the free movement of European labor. They were satisfied with the bourgeois Republic and the business civilization that they had helped create. Socialists, on the other hand, dreamed of their destruction. They planned the expropriation of the capitalist elites and the public ownership of the means of production. While Progressistes considered parliamentary government and a multiparty system to be a permanent fixture of French life, Socialists saw elections and parliament only as a means of establishing the "dictatorship of the proletariat." Progressistes also claimed to be the champions of national interests. Business, in fact, forced them to be internationalists. They were dependent on foreign markets and foreign labor. Socialists loudly asserted their internationalism. "Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains," the banner of L'Humanité proclaimed daily. However, political interest made them the champions of French labor. By 1914, even the most diehard Guesdists came dangerously close to xenophobia in their opposition to foreign workers in the industrial Nord and Loire. Rhetorically, Progressistes and Socialists had nothing in common. Their real political positions, although different from their professed beliefs, left them equally divided.

The attitudes of both groups changed considerably by 1914. Progressistes and Socialists had entered political life to defend the purity of liberal, or socialist, doctrine, but the democratic process forced changes that compromised both.

-171-

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Liberalism and Social Reform: Industrial Growth and Progressiste Politics in France, 1880-1914
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 27
  • 1 - Industrial Growth and Socialist Success at Roubaix 31
  • Notes 50
  • 2 - Eugène Motte and the Bourgeois Political Resurgence 55
  • Notes 78
  • 3 - Georges Claudinon and the Industrial Revival at Le Chambon-Feugerolles 83
  • Notes 109
  • 4 - Industrial Crisis and Progressiste Success at Rive-De-Gier 115
  • Notes 135
  • 5 - François De Wendel and Progressiste Politics in Industrial Lorraine 141
  • Notes 164
  • Conclusion 171
  • Notes 191
  • Appendix 195
  • Bibliography 209
  • Index 217
  • About the Author 227
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