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Marxism and the French Left

Marxism and the French Left: Studies on Labour and Politics in France, 1830-1981

Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 347
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  • Book Info
    Marxism and the French Left
    Book Description:

    Unlike most books, which treat labor, Socialist and Communist history separately and view French Marxism as a self-contained philosophical phenomenon, Marxism and the French Left offers a refreshingly different approach to the subject. Judt emphasizes the complex and interwoven themes that unify the topics of his essays to construct a distinctive and original interpretation of French left-wing politics over the past 150 years.A well-informed and persuasive reinterpretation of the old French Left that is now receding beyond recall, except for historians. - Times Literary Supplement

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-4393-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-x)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-xi)
  3. List of Maps and Figures
    (pp. xii-xii)
  4. 1 The Left in France
    (pp. 1-23)

    In 1970, while doing some research in the city of Toulon, I was invited for lunch to the home of a family all of whose members were active in the local Socialist movement. It was a time of upheaval in the Socialist Party, the period between the death of the old SFIO and Mitterrand’s final seizure of control, and lunch was dominated by heated debate on the subject. Afterwards, sitting on the balcony looking out to the Mediterranean islands, we talked about the socialist tradition in the region and I asked whether anyone knew when the tradition of being ‘on...

  5. 2 The French Labour Movement in the Nineteenth Century
    (pp. 24-114)

    The history of the labour movement in the nineteenth-century France rests uncomfortably between two powerful and opposed poles of attraction. It is in the first place the historical and historiographical preface to the story of the French Left. The latter is itself in thrall to the ambivalent history of modern French marxism, with its deep divisions, its eschatological appeal and mundane achievements, its enduring moral magnetism and diminutive political legacy. With the history of the modern Left commonly dated from the last third of the nineteenth century, the accompanying account of French labour serves as an overture to the main...

  6. 3 The French Socialist Party 1920–1936
    (pp. 115-168)

    The eighteenth national Congress of the Parti Socialiste, Section Franchise de l’Internationale Ouvriere (SFIO), held at Tours in December 1920, ended in the definitive division of the French socialist movement. The majority voted to join the Third International and thereby gave birth to the French Communist Party. For the minority of socialists left in the old party, no less than for the newly formed’ Parti Communiste, the scission at Tours was the central reference point in the twentieth-century history of the Left in France, and so it is still. My concern in this chapter is to trace the impact of...

  7. 4 French Marxism 1945–1975
    (pp. 169-238)

    For a generation following the Second World War, the fashions in left-wing thought in general and high marxist theory in particular were set by the writings of a succession of French intellectuals, whose names became synonymous with styles of marxist discourse. From Maurice Merleau-Ponty to Louis Althusser, what was being argued in Paris became the context for more isolated enterprises upon similar lines from Yale to Canberra. The passage to Britain, the USA, and beyond usually entailed some dessication of the original; what was political in Paris became theoretical in London, before being reduced to the merely academic in its...

  8. 5 The Elections of 1981 in Historical Perspective
    (pp. 239-301)

    In 1981 French socialism won a famous victory at the polls. In the presidential elections of April/May, François Mitterrand first trounced the Communist candidate, Georges Marchais, then went on to defeat Giscard d’Estaing, the incumbent, and become the first popularly elected Socialist president of France. A month later, with parliament dissolved, Mitterrand’s Parti Socialiste won handsomely at the general elections, securing an abolute majority of the seats in the Assembly. This unprecedented sequence of electoral successes for the Left aroused tremendous enthusiasm and a great wave of optimism and expectation.¹

    The degree of exhilaration shown by the Left’s political constituency...

  9. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 302-322)
  10. Chronology
    (pp. 323-330)
  11. Index
    (pp. 331-338)