NLF; National Liberation Fronts: 1960/1970

By Robert Shanab Elias Abu; Donald C. Hodges | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE
Some Lessons of the Liberation Struggle in Algeria* Bashir Hadj Ali General Secretary of the Algerian Communist Party

The Role of Classes and Social Strata

Algeria's population of ten million is nearly 80 percent peasant. Expropriation of the best lands by the colonialists had left 600,000 peasants without any land at all, while 450,000 peasants eked out a miserable existence on tiny plots.

On the eve of the armed uprising there were about one million people in the countryside without the means of subsistence, and some 500,000 unemployed in the cities. There were also about 120,000 small shopkeepers and artisans who were hard pressed by French competition. The middle bourgeoisie accounted for about 11,000 families, which owned 7,000 small enterprises, none employing more than 15 workers. The European bourgeoisie owned 30,000 enterprises. The big national bourgeoisie was weak and few in number. The working class consisted of approximately 300,000 permanent and seasonal workers, mainly unskilled or low skilled. This working class took shape in the course of the struggle against the European rather than the Algerian bourgeoisie. The majority of the workers had one foot in the village. In a country in which class differentiations were not yet clearly defined, the proletariat had not yet become a class "for itself."

Thus, it was not the big bourgeoisie that played the leading role in the revolution but the small and middle bourgeoisie, especially the former. The working class, though active and organized in the trade unions, in the Communist Party, and in the Democratic Freedom movement, played an important but not a leading role. How-

____________________
*
From World Marxist Review, January, 1965.

-107-

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