9. The Ideology of Workers' Control
In direct contrast with its persistence in Spain, the revolutionary anarchosyndicalist program of workers' control and development of the means of production in their unions dwindled in France during the first decades of the twentieth century. Despite a brief flare-up immediately after the war, anarchosyndicalism faded in a country whose advanced industries remained largely in national hands and whose productive powers continued to grow at rates similar to those in the other great nations. The vicious circle of misery, violent revolt, and repression that characterized the social climate in Barcelona found little scope in Paris. The major problem that the French Left confronted was how to adapt a supposedly revolutionary movement to a society where revolution was becoming an increasingly distant possibility.1 From a political longue dur"še, the Popular Front in France was not merely a short-term alliance of the Left to prevent fascism but also an acknowledgment by Communists, Socialists, and many in the CGT that a Soviet or anarchosyndicalist-style revolution in twentieth-century France was highly unlikely.
The Barcelonan revolutionaries' critique of their own bourgeoisie was more difficult to apply to Parisian capitalist elites. No French counterparts of Diego Abad de Santill n and other CNT militants could lament the lack of a national automotive or aviation industry precisely because French bourgeois were pioneers in both sectors in the early twentieth century. More generally, complaints about the inability of the bourgeoisie to rationalize and modernize, though they surfaced in Paris, did not carry the same weight in a city that was the home of Renault and of exporting aviation firms, and where, as has been seen, industrialists developed electrical industries and others in the interwar period. Nor by the 1930s could French revolutionaries, unlike the Spanish, assert that the Church possessed excessive power over education and health facilities or that the state had failed to eliminate illiteracy. Paris witnessed none of the spectacular burning of churches, sabotage, and assassinations that occurred in Barcelona and the rest of Spain during the Second Republic and that pushed Spaniards toward the political extremes. French Catholics were not solidly opposed to the Popular Front. Christian democrats, led by Marc Sangnier and his Jeune R"špublique, actually supported the "Blum experiment," and certain Catholic intellectuals-such as Emmanuel Mounier and his review, Esprit- so endorsed the coalition of the Left.2 Some Catholics even joined the Ligue des droits de l'homme, a change that demonstrated, according to one observer, that the Church-state struggle had abated. Although most Catholic publications and the hierarchy in general strongly opposed the Left's coalition, some-such as L'Aube, La Vie catholique, and Sept-adopted more nuanced positions that were seconded by a number of younger priests. In 1936 as political pluralism developed, French Catholics could no longer be classified as solidly right-wing. In contrast to previous elections, the campaign of 1936 relegated the religious question and debates over lay education to secondary importance.3 Despite right-wing Catholic nightmares and predictions, the violent wave of anticlericalism that had engulfed Spain never materialized in France.
The decline of ideologies of revolutionary workers' control in France was also partially attributable to the role of the state. The French Third Republic had aided large sectors of the working class. It had, for example, established free rationalist education; agitation to establish anarchosyndicalist modern schools was comparatively minor. Unlike in Spain, governments and sectors of the bourgeoisie effectively promoted anticlerical and scientific education. By 1914 almost all French peasants could read and write. The Third Republic's educational efforts no doubt contributed to the industrialization of France, while Restoration Spain's inability to school peasants and workers at least until the 1920s posed an obstacle to economic development.4 Even from 1930 to 1935, during the era of the great school-building program of the Spanish Second Republic and the multiplication of escuelas racionalistas, France had in proportion to its population twice the number of students in secondary institutions.5 In 1931 the vast majority of illiterates in a number of Parisian factories seem to have been foreign workers, mainly North Africans.6
The French state, although it repressed major strikes, also mediated between labor and capital. A socialist, Alexandre Millerand, joined the government in 1899 but without his party's official support. Millerandisme was "the first systematic attempt conducted at the highest levels to regularize industrial relations" and to ensure that the Republican state would mediate between the working class and employers.7 The presence of a minister who was reputed to be a friend of the workers mitigated, at least briefly, antistatist and anarchist attitudes, particularly among post office personnel, miners, railroad workers, and government construction laborers.
The war itself enlarged the powers of the state and contributed to the further integration of Socialists and syndicalists into the nation. Albert Thomas, who became the Minister of Armaments, attempted to increase wages and improve working conditions by cooperating with-and cajoling-employers.8 Thomas welcomed the interventionist state and believed that planned governmental action, not revolution, could help bring about socialism in France. He was unabashedly productivist and, already during the war, advocated Taylorism. The Socialist minister envisaged a postwar world where the state would both intervene in a rationalized private sector and administer an enlarged public sector. Workers were to be unionized, represented by shop stewards, and employed by large modern industries. Thomas had faith that Socialists would achieve justice through participation in government and collaboration with employers.
Private initiative also led to the improvement of working conditions. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Renault embarked upon a vigorous campaign to reduce accidents in order to decrease its insurance premiums and improve its labor productivity.9 The automotive manufacturer created an accident- prevention service to collect statistics on the problem; it determined that new and inexperienced workers were victims in many cases. Sixty-seven percent of the unskilled and 14 percent of the skilled workers who were injured had worked fewer than three months in the factory, and 26 percent of all accidents occurred during their first month of employment. The prevention service established a psycho-physiological examination for the newly employed, evaluating their "hearing, seeing, breathing . . . intelligence, adaptation, dexterity, and reactions." In addition, it set up for potential personnel trial tests that simulated actual working conditions and came from an examination of the aptitudes of the "best workers in each specialty." Thus, from the moment when workers or apprentices applied for a job, they were subjected to physical and psychological analysis by physicians, engineers, and technicians to determine whether their work would be safe and productive. Renault's campaign against accidents was successful. From 1930 to 1932, the number of workers injured in the first three months of employment decreased 37.8 percent. Accidents during the first days of employment diminished 84 percent. However, these results must be qualified by the economic downturn of the 1930s, which permitted management to select its workers more carefully and retain them for longer than had been possible during the expansion of the 1920s. Renault's experience contrasts sharply with that of the Catalan railroads, for example, where during the Revolution working-class militants introduced scientific techniques to prevent accidents.
A report of the Conseil national "šconomique, composed of representatives of management, major labor unions, and the state, concluded that numerous entrepreneurs wanted to improve safety in factories in order to increase productivity.10 A physician employed by the CGT, or Conf"šd"šration g"šn"šrale du travail, announced both a dramatic decline in cases of lead poisoning-from 1,525 in 1928 to 494 in 1936-and decreases in mercury poisoning. The CGT review, Syndicats, agreed that social security (assurances sociales) had greatly lowered the number of deaths caused by tuberculosis.11 Nonetheless, it is difficult to generalize about conditions of health and safety in the enterprises of the Paris region. During the factory occupations of 1936, Parisian workers often demanded improvements, and conditions varied greatly from one plant to another.
Perhaps partially in response to private and state intervention that did improve working and living conditions, French syndicalistes became more moderate. The career of the CGT's most important leader, L"šon Jouhaux, illustrated the decline of an ideology of revolutionary workers' control with the growth of one variety of French reformism. A young revolutionary syndicalist, Jouhaux was elected secretary general of the CGT in 1909 but soon led the organization to a more conciliatory stance toward the state and the Socialist party. Jouhaux was typical of a number of prominent prewar union leaders who gradually abandoned their faith in the revolutionary spontaneity of the French proletariat and came to emphasize bread-and-butter issues.12 Even before the Great War, support for revolutionary syndicalism was declining among leaders of the French working class.13 In 1914 Jouhaux congratulated the Socialists on their electoral victory and hoped that their strength in Parliament would lead to new social legislation; influential union militants found it hard to resist "the Socialist seduction."14 When war broke out, Jouhaux feared that the working class would become isolated from the nation and that royalists and monarchists might destroy the Republic. Like Albert Thomas, he quickly joined the union sacr"še, the coalition of traditional political adversaries who united to win the war. Increasingly influenced by Thomas, Jouhaux helped to expand the CGT's role in the wartime economy.15
In the immediate postwar period, Communists and Bolshevik sympathizers had little more success in realizing their own version of revolution than did other Marxist or syndicalist revolutionaries. Although historians must avoid a crude determinism that excludes a priori other outcomes, I would surmise that revolution was unlikely, even in the postwar unrest, to overthrow a Third Republic bolstered by victory in the Great War. During this period of agitation, radical militants often could not win supporters even in working-class bastions such as Renault.16 The turbulence that followed 1 May 1919 did not produce the general strike revolutionaries desired. A potential and continually postponed revolutionary movement to defend the Soviet Union demonstrated the difficulty-which would reappear during the Popular Front-of mobilizing French workers over issues of international politics. If in June 1919 some metal workers demanded political power, recognition of the Soviet government, and amnesty for political and military prisoners, many others struck for a workweek of forty-four (instead of forty-eight) hours, pay hikes, and an end to work speed-ups. The strikes remained largely legal and pacific; the French state, assured of the loyalty of its army and police, never lost control of the situation.17 The Parisian metallurgical strikers were largely isolated from workers in other sectors and in the provinces. Following the defeat of the strike, the rightist bloc national triumphed in elections of November 1919. In May 1920 a general strike, spearheaded by railroad workers, failed because its lack of support from certain sectors of the working class combined with repression by government and employers.
Within the CGT the ideology of revolutionary syndicalism continued to recede. Already at the end of 1918, it had abandoned its radical formula of the "mine for the miners" and called for nationalization.18 According to the Conf"šd"šration, producers and consumers from d"špartements (state administrative divisions), communes, cooperatives, and other organizations should manage enterprises in collaboration with the state. The CGT leadership-in cooperation with Albert Thomas-sought a new synthesis. In 1919 Thomas introduced legislation that proposed the nationalization of the railroads and autonomy for state-run enterprises. He and Jouhaux advocated a tripartite nationalization managed by representatives of the state, wage earners, and consumers. During the strikes of the spring of 1920, officials of various factions in the CGT also demanded nationalization, not revolutionary workers' control.19 A number of Socialist activists called for nationalization on "nonradical grounds."20 L"šon Blum introduced in Parliament a CGT-adopted plan for an autonomous public railroad corporation controlled by representatives of workers, management, and consumers. Socialists and the CGT majority proposed a "defensive" nationalization that would restore workers' morale, raise productivity, and rationalize the railroad network. In 1920 the Conseil "šconomique du travail, which was composed mainly of syndicalists and Socialists, defined the term: "An enterprise is nationalized when it is exploited with regard to the needs of the community and has no other goal than to obtain the maximum of utility and economy for consumers."21 In 1920 the CGT abandoned "the revolutionary nature of the general strike" for more moderate proposals.22 The reformism of Albert Thomas, questioning revolutionary syndicalism even before World War I, had come to dominate thinking concerning workers' control; from 1919 onwards, nationalization became a permanent CGT demand. At the end of 1920 the powerful F"šd"šration des m"štaux argued for a nonrevolutionary form of workers' control where committees named by workers would regulate hiring, pay, and discipline.23
The CGT's ideological shifts after World War I reflected its participation in the war effort and advances of social legislation, such as the eight-hour law, which passed unanimously in April 1919. It was gradually abandoning its revolutionary syndicalism before the war, but Jouhaux's postwar projects revealed even further distance from earlier syndicalist positions of hostility to class collaboration and advocacy of a general strike. Even though the Conf"šd"šration retained as its ultimate goal the abolition of wage labor, it embarked on a "policy of presence" in national affairs and systematically tried to penetrate the state apparatus. Its program of 1919 demonstrated that it was playing the democratic game, and it expressed "a genuine kind of socialistic reformism."24 Jouhaux, having lost faith in the revolutionary potential of the working class, pursued his goal of attaching syndicalism to the nation. The CGT leader defined the revolution as a "long-term evolutionary process which, little by little, penetrates the system."25 Georges Dumoulin and other prominent CGT leaders followed Jouhaux's path from revolutionary syndicalism to reformism.
In direct contrast to the Spanish CNT, the French Conf"šd"šration joined commissions paritaires, labor- management boards in both the public and private sectors. During the 1920s the CGT leader's opinion on the choice of labor minister was solicited even by rightist governments, and the Conf"šd"šration collaborated with the Socialist parliamentary group. Despite the opposition of its rival, the Communist-influenced CGTU (Conf"šd"šration g"šn"šrale du travail unitaire), the CGT began to search systematically for compromises to avoid strikes. In 1925 Jouhaux's immediate postwar suggestion of a National Economic Council of representatives from labor, management, and consumers was adopted by Premier Edouard Herriot, a Radical who accepted unionization of government employees, many of whom joined the CGT.26 In 1927 the moderate but influential F"šd"šration des fonctionnaires rejoined the Conf"šd"šration. The passage of housing legislation in 1927 and a social security law in 1928 reinforced the day-to-day reformist policies of the CGT. Although the CGT's strategy did not lead to a truly mass union movement until 1936, when literally millions of new members joined, its pragmatism proved more popular than the revolutionary sectarianism of the CGTU or the small CGTSR (Conf"šd"šration g"šn"šrale du travail syndicaliste r"švolutionnaire), where anarchists and anarchosyndicalists agitated. The CGT's "policy of presence" in the state apparatus "renewed and reinforced its structures, increased the number of its members and its militants, enlarged its audience and perspectives."27
In comparison, the strongly Communist CGTU declined continuously after 1926.28 Although when it began in 1921 it had attracted more members than the CGT, by 1926 the CGTU had 431,240 adherents and the CGT 524,960. By 1934 the CGTU's membership was 264,085 and the CGT's was 490,984; CGTU revolutionary rhetoric, including charges after 1928 that the CGT leaders were "social fascists," was unable to prevent the attrition of its membership. Nor did its opposition in 1928 to social reforms such as social security and workers' retirement funds-which it also termed "fascist"- endear it to the masses. In the 1930s the CGTU, like the PCF (Parti communiste fran"¡ais) to which it was closely linked, emerged from the periphery only when it toned down its revolutionary rhetoric. In 1932 the union began to alter its tactics in the automotive sector. CGTU officials attacked "sectarianism" and "sloganeering," and with renewed vigor supported claims by the smallest groups of workers.29 In aviation the CGTU's doctrinal refusal to deal directly with the ministries became "outmoded" in the 1930s.30 During negotiations to merge the two unions in 1934, the CGT held a much stronger bargaining position than its rival. Unification of the two was achieved in March 1936 and contributed to the "šlan of the Popular Front, reducing even further the tiny membership (between four thousand and twenty thousand) of the anarchosyndicalist CGTSR.31 Though never entirely disappearing, revolutionary movements such as anarchism and syndicalism were never dominant during the 1930s in Paris or France.
In Spain, significantly, the reverse occurred: the growth of UGT radicalism during the Second Republic, and especially in 1936, mirrored the rise of a revolutionary temper among key sectors of peasants and workers. During the same decade there emerged no French equivalent of Largo Caballero, who led the Spanish Socialists and the UGT in a revolutionary direction after 1933. Spanish historians have debated whether Largo led or merely followed the masses toward the dictatorship of the proletariat. Whatever the verdict on this issue, it was clear that under Largo, Spanish Socialists, unlike the French, were encouraging workers to take over many state functions. Important Spanish Socialists declared that if the Second Republic did not satisfy their demands, they would make revolution.32 The burning of churches in May 1931, the insurrections of July 1931 in the Seville area, of January 1932 in the Llobregat valley, and of January 1933 in Barcelona demonstrated that Largo had some reason to become "obsessed" that the CNT "might outdistance him on the Left." The harshness of the repression that followed the Socialist-backed Asturias revolt of October 1934 did little to diminish Socialists' revolutionism. After the electoral victory of the Popular Front, Largo continued to call for a proletarian dictatorship and a revolutionary alliance with the CNT. By the summer of 1936, Socialists espousing revolution were dominant in Spain but not in France. Long- term social and economic problems-lack of land reform and slowness of industrialization and modernization-merged with political difficulties-Church-state conflict, paralysis of the administration, and militant regionalisms-to push Spanish Socialists and Spain itself into revolution and civil war.
The French Socialists followed a more moderate path. A distinction between the conquest and the exercise of power, which L"šon Blum had elaborated in 1926, continued to be the touchstone of Socialist ideology during the Popular Front. According to Blum, the conquest of power could occur when the majority of a population that desired significant change supported the Socialist party (Section fran"¡aise de l'Internationale ouvriÅ re, or SFIO). The Socialists could then take all political power through legal or illegal means to make a social revolution that would alter property relations.33 By contrast, the exercise of power would take place when the SFIO was the dominant party in a leftist majority; a Socialist-dominated administration would govern within the limits of capitalist legality and the rules of parliamentary democracy. During the Popular Front, Socialists exercised power-and relegated revolution further into the future, as did Communists. This rapprochement between Socialists and Communists was indeed ironic, since Blum had elaborated his distinction between the conquest and the exercise of power to criticize the PCF's impetuousness. He had accused French Bolsheviks of blindly imitating their Soviet comrades by attempting to conquer power before the proletariat was ready, and he blamed them for disparaging reforms that would prepare the working class for revolution.34 On the same grounds, Blum attacked the revolutionary Left within his own party.
The SFIO's leftist wing, which included advocates of revolutionary workers' control, was never to dominate the party; even the commitment to revolution of leftist leaders such as Marcel Pivert has been questioned.35 On 27 May 1936 in the midst of the wave of sit-downs, Pivert published his famous article, "Everything is possible," in which he implied that the revolutionary moment had arrived. During the first year of the Popular Front government, however, Pivert advocated support for the Blum government, "not . . . revolutionary action outside the legal channels."36 The leader of the Gauche r"švolutionnaire (GR), Pivert served in a minor capacity as media consultant in the first Blum administration and hoped to use his position to strengthen his influence within the SFIO. Pivert asserted that it was foolish to condemn a government that permitted "the development of the revolutionary capacity of the masses."37 Nor did other members of the GR wish to break completely with the government in the fall and winter of 1936.
Yet despite obvious ambiguity, the Pivertists were considered revolutionaries by many supporters and opponents. In early 1937 Pivert resigned from the government, declaring that he would not "capitulate before capitalism and the banks. No! I agree neither to social peace nor to union sacr"še."38 During the elections of 1936 in Paris, the Socialists lost ground to the Communists. A police observer attributed the Socialist decline to the departure of the "moderate" neo-Socialists and to the "extremism" of the F"šd"šration de la Seine, where the pivertistes and other leftist Socialists were influential; this group "often tried to appear more revolutionary than its Communist neighbors."39 After the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, the GR wanted French workers to emulate their Spanish comrades by launching a social revolution and forming a proletarian government similar to that of Barcelona in the summer of 1936. Pivert, though, had to concede that his advice had been ignored by the great majority of the working class: "The gravest obstacles [to the pursuit of revolutionary struggle] seem to come from ourselves as much as from our class enemies. . . . The proletariat lacks an offensive spirit."40
In April 1937 the Gauche r"švolutionnaire won 11.6 percent of the votes in the Socialist party's national council, and in January 1938 it won 18.4 percent.41 This faction attracted support in regions where Socialist electoral strength was weak and where small groups of radical intellectuals, with little commitment to the parliamentary road to socialism, found pivertisme attractive. Even though their strength grew in 1937, the radicals never captured the SFIO, made a revolution, or even acquired a working-class base. In the long run the influence of the GR on the SFIO's workplace cells, the amicales socialistes, was not consequential. During the strikes of the Popular Front, the pivertistes were never sufficiently numerous or "well placed to play any decisive role."42
The GR's expulsion from the SFIO in June 1938 effectively destroyed it. A number of prominent militants who had been associated with this faction refused to join Pivert's new group, Parti socialiste ouvrier et paysan (PSOP), which rejected "social-democratic reformism," imperialism, and national defense.43 Cut off from the SFIO, the PSOP-like the Trotskyists-became a sect. Again, the importance of those advocating an immediate revolution was not decisive in the French Socialist movement in the 1930s. The PSOP became neither the revolu-tionary vanguard of the working class nor the French equivalent of the POUM.44
Trotskyists and other leftists have criticized Pivert-as they have attacked Andr"šs Nin of the POUM-for collaborating with bourgeois governments and for failing to establish a truly revolutionary party at the proper moment. But the question of why the revolutionary groups in France (including Trotsky's own) were not able to acquire solid support in the working class and to make a revolution has been answered only superficially. Leftist critics have offered a basically political explanation for the failure of revolution in France in 1936, and they have emphasized lack of leadership, that is, the absence of a French Lenin. They have also called attention to the counterrevolutionary activity of the Soviet Union, which wanted to bolster the democracies against the growing international threat of fascism. The critiques of the Trotskyists and others have however largely ignored a discussion of social and economic factors that debilitated revolutionary movements-whether Trotskyist, anarchosyndicalist, or Communist-in advanced capitalist countries such as France.
At the end of the First World War, communism replaced anarchosyndicalism as the dominant ideology of revolutionary militants. At its birth in France, communism was, in a sense, another ideology of revolutionary workers' control in the form of soviets, or workers' and soldiers' councils, as opposed to the union. Accordingly, French revolutionaries interpreted bolshevism as an approximate form of syndicalism.45 Victor Griffuelhes, secretary general of the CGT from 1902 to 1909, declared that both revolutionary syndicalism and the soviets were based on "the producer while neglecting the citizen. What has made and continues to constitute the force of the soviets is the power given to the producers-workers and peasants."46 Revolutionary syndicalists shared the Communists' disdain for parliamentarism.
Yet communism in France was, in part, an import from another country, the Soviet Union, whose social conditions resembled those of Spain more than of France. Communism, or bolshevism, was unable to maintain its immediate postwar popularity. At the split between Communists and Socialists at the Congress of Tours in 1920, with 120,000 members the Communists greatly outnumbered the Socialists, with 50,000. Then in the elections of 1924, the PCF won 877,000 votes and the Socialists approximately 1,500,000. In 1933 the membership of the PCF dropped to 28,000, whereas that of the Socialists rose to 130,000.47
Before the 1928 elections the French Communist party had adopted a new line of "class against class" that echoed the position of the Communist International. The PCF believed that a new period of capitalist instability had begun and that comrades should take a hard line against the "social imperialists" or "social fascists" of the SFIO. This intransigent tactic was a key factor in the 1928 elections that took place under the reestablished scrutin d'arrondissement. According to this system of voting, if no candidate won an absolute majority in the first round, a run-off election was held in which the candidate who obtained the most votes was declared the winner. This system encouraged political alliances in order to win the second ballot, but Communist voters were instructed to disregard "republican discipline" and to vote for no other candidates of the Left in the second round. Although the PCF gained 200,000 votes in the first round or 1,063,000 compared to the Socialist total of 1,700,000, 44 percent of its voters ignored the party's instructions and voted instead for the better- placed Socialist or Radical in the second round.48 Traditional republican discipline triumphed in the second round, and the PCF lost thirteen of its twenty-seven seats in the Chamber of Deputies. Many Communist leaders-Marcel Cachin, Andr"š Marty, and Paul Vaillant-Couturier-were defeated. Maurice Thorez, the future PCF head, was successful only because he was able to attract Socialist votes in the second round.
In 1929 during the wave of repression and arrests of its militants and leaders, the Communist party continued its revolutionary rhetoric. It demanded a revolutionary civil war and accused the Socialists of being "enemies of the proletariat and of the revolution."49 Yet the attrition of members was not halted, particularly in key industrial regions. From 1924 to 1929, membership declined 45 percent in Paris. The PCF was no more successful on the streets; demonstrations from 1929 to 1933 to defend the Soviet Union against "war-mongering imperialists" and to protest against unemployment failed to attract large numbers.50 The party continued to lose members and votes at the beginning of the economic depression that, according to its own analysis of capitalism's crisis, should have brought it new popularity. Before the elections of 1932, Maurice Thorez accused his Socialist rivals of being "the principal support of the bourgeois dictatorship. The crisis accelerates the fascistization of the Socialist party and of the CGT [, which are] ever increasingly integrated into the apparatus of the bourgeois state."51 Regardless of the harsh rhetoric, in 1932 PCF and SFIO votes were 783,000 and 1,964,000 respectively. The Communist percentage of the vote declined from 9.3 percent to 6.8 percent, which was less than in 1924. In the Paris region, it fell from 20.7 percent to 17.4 percent. Only eleven Communist deputies remained in the Chamber.52
The Communist party never captured more than 12 percent of the national vote until 1936, when it appeared unabashedly reformist and patriotic. Already in 1934 during the cantonal elections, when the Popular Front was forming, the PCF decided to adhere to republican discipline and support Socialist candidates in the second ballot. The party was moderating its positions to attract the petty bourgeoisie who, it feared, might gravitate toward fascism as it believed the Germans had. At the end of 1934 in discussions concerning a common platform with Socialists, the Communists refused the Socialists' demands for "structural reforms" or nationalizations, fearing major changes that might alienate the middle classes whom the PCF now sought to seduce. Despite difficulties in establishing a common program for the municipal elections of 1935, the agreement to back the best-placed candidate of the Left persisted and resulted in a PCF gain of approximately fifty municipal seats, eight of which were in Paris itself.53 Significantly, in 1935 the Communists chose Bastille Day, the symbol of modern French nationalism, for a mass rally in support of the Popular Front.
During the elections of 1936 the PCF instructed its militants to avoid any slogan that was revolutionary and to participate in the singing of the Marseillaise.54 According to Thorez, the "most successful" Communist campaign slogan was For a Free, Strong, and Happy France. Comrades offered an "outstretched hand" to Catholics. To elect Communist candidates, militants were permitted to deviate from the " 'political line' of communism." The PCF's votes nearly doubled, and it acquired 72 seats in the Chamber, compared to 116 for the Radicals and 182 for the SFIO and similar groups. For the first time the PCF became a major parliamentary force and, until recently, "a source of lasting attraction to the French masses."55
In Paris, the Socialists lost ground to the Communists in the 1936 legislative elections, which a police observer attributed to the departure of the "moderate" neo-Socialists and to the "extremism" of the F"šd"šration de la Seine, where left-wingers dominated. Paradoxically, the PCF managed to reassure many moderates of the Left and to calm their fears.56 The adoption of a "national and democratic" strategy also permitted the PCF to increase its membership significantly: from 42,500 in 1934 and 87,000 in 1935, membership jumped to 235,000 in 1936 and to 302,000 in 1937.57 During the Popular Front, Communist separation between theory and practice came to resemble that of the SFIO: the parties cooperated to achieve major reforms, postponing both revolution and dictatorship of the proletariat to the distant future.58 The greatest PCF gains in votes and members took place at a time when it argued against any immediate application of revolutionary workers' control or soviets. It advocated instead "significant improvements" for the workers within the capitalist system. CGTU and Communist support for the reforms of the Popular Front can be seen not only as a tactical maneuver that would bolster Franco-Soviet cooperation against Hitler's Germany but also as belated acknowledgment of the relative success of the CGT's and the Socialists' strategy of compromise and their synthesis of reform and revolution, nationalism and internationalism. The Communist synthesis included active support for the Soviet Union and Republican Spain.
As revolutionary currents weakened, consumerist desires rose. New needs accompanied the acceptance of the most modern techniques of production and consumption. In both 1919 and 1935 the CGT proposed that nationalized enterprises be controlled by delegates; the state would choose one-third of them, and the producers (workers and technicians) would choose another third. The remaining delegates would come from consumers. The Conf"šd"šration's desire for the participation of consumers revealed that it was moving from a focus on control of production toward an appetite for consumption. Although the CGT continued to advocate the development of the productive forces during the interwar years, it altered its emphasis and began to view the worker not only as producer but, just as important, as consumer.
In return for wider and more equal distribution, French unions were willing to accept both the goods produced by capitalism and the methods used to manufacture them. Even the most revolutionary union, the CGTU-which, in the 1920s, included both revolutionary syndicalists and Communists and which continued to demand workers' control-allowed and even lauded the most modern techniques of rationalization, especially if they were employed in the Soviet Union. In 1927 when a revolutionary syndicalist asked O. Rabat"š, a CGTU leader and future architect of the Popular Front, where rationalization did not brutalize workers, Rabat"š responded, "In Moscow."59 According to a 1927 article by Maurice Thorez, workers' rationalization equaled socialism. In the 1930s Humanit"š praised Stakhanovism, which produced "brilliant results." On the occasion of a working visit of French Communist miners to the Soviet pits, they reported, "We have doubled or quadrupled normal production without special effort, something that is absolutely impossible in the conditions of the capitalist countries."60 In the Soviet Union, "to be a Stakhanovist is a matter of honor for every worker." Humanit"š remarked that visiting French comrades had experienced a happy surprise when they learned that the wages of their Soviet colleagues were nearly ten times higher than French wages: "This is the system of pay in the Soviet Union! Nowhere in the world is there anything similar."61
Yet once in the West, French Communists were much more critical of scientific organization of work, even though they accepted it in principle. In 1927 Rabat"š censured-in a manner reminiscent of Emile Pouget-the overwork, unemployment, and low salaries that were, for Rabat"š, intrinsic to capitalist rationalization. The CGTU leader denied that American workers received high wages and owned their own cars; he tried to refute the idea that one goal of Taylorism was to increase consumption by the working class. Yet opposing assembly-line production and new labor techniques was like "being against rain":
We are for the principles of scientific organization of work. . . . To try to stop technical progress would not be truly revolutionary. The revolutionaries know that the working class will be the successor of capitalism and that this scientific organization will permit a much more rapid construction of socialism when the proletariat takes power.62
Thus the CGTU endorsed the work processes developed by capitalism, and its critique centered on the failure to distribute commodities more widely and equally. In fact, in 1927 Rabat"š doubted that the French automotive industry was capable of providing cars for the masses. A decade later the Communist position had changed little: at the beginning of the great strike wave of 1936, the PCF asserted that "the masses . . . have had enough of the development of machines that benefit only the few."63
Like the Communists, French anarchists and anarchosyndicalists-who, as we have seen, had lost their pre-World-War-I domination of the national CGT-doubted the ability of capitalism to increase consumption. S"šbastien Faure, a prominent anarchist, wanted an increase in wages to remedy the economic crisis of 1932. Faure believed that "under-consumption" was the danger to combat and that "the capacity of consumption, which constantly multiplies needs, . . . is going to progress forever."64 The anarchist leader was quite skeptical of capitalism's ability to augment wages and decrease worktime. Other libertarians called for one month of vacation and even complained that French capitalists were rationalizing too slowly.65
The Socialists had been longtime advocates of increased consumption through rationalization. Prominent party members like Andr"š Philip and Jules Moch viewed rationalization favorably because it boosted workers' consumption. The Socialist solution to the economic stagnation of the depression-to boost the purchasing power of the masses-was "already contained in the
comprehensive Socialist program of 1927."66 According to Blum, the economic crisis of the 1930s was caused not by overproduction but by insufficient demand. The Socialists, Blum thought, must use the power of the state to augment the buying power of the masses. Revolution might have been the ultimate raison d'Ë†tre for many in the SFIO, but increasing pouvoir d'achat (purchasing power) was first on the list of priorities for the majority of Socialists.
Other sectors of the Socialist movement-the "planners" and nonconformist Socialists-moved even further away from a revolutionary alternative based on the Soviet or anarchosyndicalist model. Nonconformist Socialists and neo-Socialists who had split from the SFIO in 1933 welcomed the ideas of the planners, who believed that orthodox Marxism and, of course, anarchosyndicalism were outmoded. They rejected not only revolutionary models but also Blum's distinction between the conquest and exercise of power. Instead, planners-individuals such as Henri de Man and groups like Combat marxiste and R"švolution constructive-wanted to begin the construction of a socialist society with the collaboration of the middle classes. Planners distinguished between various groups within the bourgeoisie and considered certain of its elements, particularly industrial technicians, to be potential allies against the "parasitic" oligarchy of big or financial capital.67 Many planners advocated limited nationalizations and slow evolution toward socialism. In keeping with their desire to ally with sympathetic sectors of the middle classes, they favored a mixed economy composed of public and private sectors and generally rejected the rhetoric of class war and revolution that the mainstream of the SFIO sometimes employed. Revolutionary syndicalists both inside and outside the CGT attacked the planners' repudiation of their own ouvri"šriste position, which based hopes for change on the working class alone.68
In 1934 the SFIO mainstream rejected planning for both political and ideological reasons. Blum believed that a commitment to planning would compromise his party's ultimate, if distant, goal of socialist revolution and lead to increased division within the SFIO. However in February the CGT began to devise its own plan; like the plan of the Belgian Workers' party, it demanded an augmentation of consumption by the masses to combat the economic crisis. As had the SFIO in 1932, the CGT favored nationalizing banks and key industries.69 In the CGT plan issued in 1935, private management retained its control on the shop floor, and workers' control merited only passing mention. Foreshadowing post-World-War-II planning in France, the CGT plan was more concerned with rationalization and modernization than with workers' democracy or participation. The jobless were to be employed by a reduction of the workweek-the total suggested was usually forty hours- and by large public-works projects. Mass production and consumption were the goals of the CGT. When unity between the CGT and the smaller Communist-dominated union, CGTU, was finally realized at Toulouse in March 1936, the newly unified union supported the program of the Popular Front. The Left's agreement on a platform signified that the electoral alliance might be more cohesive than the ephemeral Socialist-Radical coalition had been in 1932. It also assured voters who feared continued governmental instability that the Left's alliance might endure. Because of Communist and Radical opposition, the program of the Rassemblement populaire, as the French Popular Front was officially known, limited the scope of nationalizations more severely than the CGT plan or the Socialist program. As it was made public in January 1936, the Popular Front's platform nevertheless demanded nationalization of the defense industries and more stringent state control of the Banque de France. In addition the Popular Front proposed, as the CGT had, large public-works projects that would get the unemployed back on the job and a reduction of the working week without a decrease of pay. An augmentation of pouvoir d'achat remained an essential goal of the Left.
While retaining a traditional productivism, the ideologies of the French Left in the first third of the twentieth century therefore shifted toward an emphasis on consumption. They accepted, even glorified, capitalist methods of production; the Left desired a more equitable distribution of goods and services. Replacing the old anarchosyndicalist demand for workers' control of the means of production was a call for state control, since the Left believed that it could ensure more efficient production and fairer distribution through command of government. The dominant organizations of the French Left-SFIO, PCF, CGT, CGTU-sought to increase their political power and influence, not to take direct control of the productive forces or even to establish soviets. Even before the victory of the Popular Front-when the Left captured political power at the national level-the Communist and Socialist parties already dominated a number of local governments throughout France. Unlike in Spain, where many significant working-class organizations remained politically powerless and were even periodically outlawed, French society was capable of sharing political power with the Left. During the 1930s in Spain, union and party militants-including, at times, Socialists-were jailed, whereas in France their counterparts were running municipal and communal governments.
The Left's expanding domination of the Parisian suburbs between the wars revealed its integration into French society and the strength of the French social consensus. In light of leftist, particularly Communist, ideologies of class warfare or class against class and the sporadic repression of the Communist party in the 1920s, this assertion of the integrative capacities of French society may seem unfounded. However, the actual policies of the Left in the Parisian suburbs revealed a fidelity to the kind of industrial modernization that other classes in France had practiced and encouraged. Many suburban voters expressed their discontent with the lack of local infrastructure by voting Socialist or, increasingly, Communist. The Left responded by constructing sewers and installing running water, electrical facilities, and gas lines, and by paving the streets and roads that many of the new developments (lotissements) lacked. Although the Loi Sarraut (1928) helped encourage some building of roads and of water and sanitation facilities, this law left important gaps in the infrastructure; these local governments attempted to fill.
The Communists were quite proud of their municipal work. One Communist historian has recently declared that in the suburbs the French Communists played the same role as their Soviet comrades did in the Soviet Union.70 According to Maurice Thorez, the Communist municipalities were an "invaluable expression of the Party's policies": "Our municipality [Villejuif] created a city out of a swamp: Streets built, municipal services started, water, gas, and electricity."71 At Villejuif in 1933, the PCF proudly inaugurated the Karl Marx School. Its construction had been directed by a group of progressive and revolutionary architects, including Andr"š Lur"¡at, whose ideology revealed certain achievements and desires of the French Left. During the school's construction, Lur"¡at exposed his thoughts on modern architecture: shelter was the first priority, aesthetics were secondary. In the new era, the architect should address himself not to the individual client but to "powerful organizations" that "act in the name of the masses." These organizations did not demand beauty but a sound and economic order. Like his colleague Le Corbusier, Lur"¡at was a follower of modern urbanism; he advocated improving automobile circulation in the "overly narrow" streets. Against the "plastic inertia of the older cities," the new city would oppose "the dynamism of its principal elements."72 He claimed that urbanism must become a science that investigated "the ever-increasing needs." Thus, Lur"¡at, with Communist support, was able to realize some of the urban policies that many in the Spanish Left could only imagine.
The PCF, often with the aid of the French government, built modern housing in working-class suburbs, such as Villejuif, where most workers commuted to their jobs.73 The Communists offered services in the new housing developments and organized renters and property owners to obtain subsidies. At Vitry-with 48,929 inhabitants, the fifteenth largest city in France-the Communist municipality provided low-cost housing (HBM, or habitations ... bon march"š) for workers. At Bagneux the PCF took control of a HBM that philanthropists had constructed for wage earners who commuted to the large firms of the region; it organized the renters over bread-and-butter issues, such as the lack of roads and public transportation. During 1935-1936 Communists campaigned for control of the municipality as the young "generation destined to manage the commune in a modern way." To the electorate, the Communist militants appeared to be "agents of modernity." In other suburban areas they established clinics, medical services, day-care centers, showers, and even a summer camp for two hundred children, which was praised by a conservative newspaper, Le Temps. Communist control in various suburbs allowed a stable power base that provided jobs, housing, and other advantages for militants.
Socialists, who also desired to govern working-class municipalities, could prevent Communist penetration by enacting policies similar to those of their rivals. Following World War I at Suresnes, the home of the automaker Talbot, the Socialist mayor modernized the old village, which had up to then "anachronistically conserved its rural character."74 Henri Sellier, mayor from 1919 to 1941, helped to create the office of HBM, built clinics, day-care centers, schools, old-age homes, libraries, gymnasiums, and swimming pools. The Socialist municipality improved automobile circulation and devised plans to widen roads. At Boulogne-Billancourt and Pantin, PCF candidates were unable to defeat efficient and popular Socialist mayors.75
In the 1930s France was unmistakably a pluralist society where various political parties, which claimed to represent different social classes, vied for power. Underneath the conflict and the verbal animosity of the politicians, the major political forces formed a consensus, unknown in Spain. Parties claiming to represent the working class were not only legalized but also officially shared political, administrative, and, to a lesser extent, economic power with other political groupings and social classes. In the suburbs and towns Communists and Socialists helped provide the infrastructure necessary for production. Education, transportation, health, housing, and even certain leisure facilities were built or improved by local governments of the Left. While effectively contributing to the economic development and the modernization of the nation, the political parties and unions of the Left accepted both the products of capitalist industry and its methods of organizing work. The principal division between the economic policies of the Left and the Right concerned the form of ownership-nationalization versus private control of production-but not the content or the methods of production.76 The traditional anarchosyndicalist demand for workers' or unions' control at the point of production was largely replaced by the struggles of leftist parties and unions to augment their own power and to increase consumption by their constituencies. The workers were viewed not only as producers but also, just as important, as consumers. The French working-class militants would not occupy the factories to make a revolution for the producers, as the Spanish militants did, but instead to increase their leisure and consumption.
1. See Eugen Weber, "Un demi-siÅ cle de glissement ... droite," International Review of Social History 5, no. 2 (1960): 165-201.
2. Michel Winock, Histoire politique de la revue ®Esprit¯, 1930-1950 (Paris, 1975), pp. 121, 159; R"šunion organis"še par le club de faubourg, 14 May 1936, AN, F713983; Les milieux catholiques, 22 May 1936, AN F713983; Paul Christophe, 1936: Les catholiques et le front populaire (Paris, 1986), pp. 25-32.
3. Georges Dupeux, Le front populaire et les "šlections de 1936 (Paris, 1959), p. 113.
4. Joseph N. Moody, French Education since Napoleon (Syracuse, N.Y., 1978), pp. 99, 146; Rondo Cameron, "Por qu"š fue tan desigual la industrializaci¢n europea," in La industrializaci¢n europea: Estadios y tipos, Pierre Vilar, Jordi Nadal, Rondo Cameron, and Peter Mathias (Barcelona, 1981), pp. 312-17, Ivan T. Berend and Gyorgy Ranki, The European Periphery and Industrialization, 1780-1914, trans. Eva Palmai (Cambridge, 1982), p. 58.
5. B. R. Mitchell, European Historical Statistics, 1750-1970 (New York, 1975).
6. Formation des illetr"šs, AN, 39AS387.
7. Madeleine Reb"šrioux, La r"špublique radicale, 1898-1914 (Paris, 1975), p. 76.
8. Madeleine Reb"šrioux and Patrick Fridenson, "Albert Thomas, pivot du r"šformisme fran"¡ais," Le Mouvement social, no. 87 (April-June 1974); Alain Hennebicque, "Albert Thomas et le r"šgime des usines de guerre, 1915-1917," in 1914-1918: L'autre front, ed. P. Fridenson (Paris, 1977), pp. 122-44; Gerd Hardach, "La mobilisation industrielle en 1914-1918: Production, planification et id"šologie," in 1914- 1918: L'autre front, ed. P. Fridenson, p. 108.
9. See documents in AN, 91AQ57.
10. M. Fleurent, "Les industries chimiques," Conseil national "šconomique, AN, F128796.
11. Medical results reported in La Vie ouvriÅ re, 24 November 1938; Syndicats, 16 October 1936.
12. Jacques Juillard, "Diversit"š des r"šformismes," Le Mouvement social, no. 87 (April-June 1974): 4; Martin Fine, "Toward Corporatism: The Movement for Capital-Labor Collaboration in France, 1914- 1936" (Ph.D. diss., University of Wisconsin, 1971).
13. Peter M. Arum, "Du syndicalisme r"švolutionnaire au r"šformisme: Georges Dumoulin (1903- 1923)," Le Mouvement social, no. 87 (April-June 1974): 39.
14. Bernard Georges and Denise Tintant, L"šon Jouhaux: Cinquante ans de syndicalisme (Paris, 1962-1979), 1:1.
15. Georges Lefranc, Le mouvement syndical sous la TroisiÅ me R"špublique (Paris, 1967), p. 198; Georges Lefranc, Le mouvement socialiste sous la TroisiÅ me R"špublique (1875-1940) (Paris, 1963), 2:227. On Spanish libertarian reaction to World War I, see Gerald Meaker, The Revolutionary Left in Spain, 1914-1923 (Stanford, 1974), pp. 28-29, and Gaston Leval, El pr¢fugo (Valencia, 1935).
16. Hardach, "Mobilisation," p. 235; Fine, "Corporatism," p. 42.
17. See Annie Kriegel (Aux origines du communisme fran"¡ais: Contribution ... l'histoire du mouvement ouvrier fran"¡ais [Paris, 1969]), who concludes that the organized working-class movement (a minority of the class) had revolutionary aspirations in 1919-1920 but that the situation in France was not revolutionary because of the strength of the French bourgeoisie and the victory of the nation. For an emphasis on workers' revolutionary activity, see N. Papayanis, "Masses r"švolutionnaires et directions r"šformistes: Les tensions au cours des grÅ ves des m"štallurgistes fran"¡ais en 1919," Le Mouvement social, no. 93 (Oct.-Dec. 1975): 51-73; B. Abherve, "Les origines de la grÅ ve des m"štallurgistes parisiens, juin 1919," Le Mouvement social, no. 93 (Oct.-Dec. 1975): 77-85. For views stressing the limits of revolutionary activity, see Jean-Paul Brunet, Saint-Denis: La ville rouge, 1890-1939 (Paris, 1980), pp. 210-32; Robert Wohl, French Communism in the Making, 1914-1924 (Stanford, 1966), p. 167.
18. Lefranc, Mouvement syndical, p. 216.
19. Michel Collinet, L'ouvrier fran"¡ais, esprit du syndicalisme (Paris, 1951), p. 157.
20. Charles Maier, Recasting Bourgeois Europe (Princeton, 1975), pp. 148-49.
21. Lefranc, Mouvement syndical, p. 230.
22. Jacques Amoyal, "Les origines socialistes et syndicalistes de la planification en France," Le Mouvement social, no. 87 (April-June 1974): 158; see also Richard F. Kuisel, Capitalism and the State in Modern France (New York, 1981), p. 79.
23. Lefranc, Mouvement syndical, p. 249.
24. Georges and Tintant, Jouhaux, 1:326.
25. Quoted in Lefranc, Mouvement syndical, p. 224.
26. Ren"š Mouriaux, La CGT (Paris, 1982), p. 63.
27. Georges and Tintant, Jouhaux, 2:43.
28. Antoine Prost, La CGT ... l'"špoque du front populaire, 1934-1939 (Paris, 1964), p. 34.
29. Jean-Paul Depretto and Sylvie V. Schweitzer, Le communisme ... l'usine: Vie ouvriÅ re et mouvement ouvrier chez Renault, 1920-1939 (Paris, 1984), p. 107.
30. Herrick Eaton Chapman, "Reshaping French Industrial Politics: Workers, Employers, State Officials, and the Struggle for Control in the Aircraft Industry, 1938-1950" (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Berkeley, 1983), p. 81.
31. Jean Rabaut, Tout est possible: Les ®gauchistes¯ fran"¡ais, 1929-1944 (Paris, 1974), p. 224, which concludes that the CGTSR never initiated an important strike; see Kathryn E. Amdur, "La tradition r"švolutionnaire entre syndicalisme et communisme dans la France de l'entre-deux-guerres," Le Mouvement social, no. 139 (April-June 1987): 48, which emphasizes the persistence of revolutionary syndicalism in this period.
32. Raymond Carr, The Spanish Tragedy: The Civil War in Perspective (London, 1977), pp. 52-53.
33. Lefranc, Mouvement socialiste, 2:267; Tony Judt, La reconstruction du parti socialiste (Paris, 1976), p. 81; Gilbert Ziebura, L"šon Blum et le parti socialiste, 1872-1934, trans. Jean Duplex (Paris, 1967), p. 286.
34. L"šon Blum, L'ouvre (Paris, 1972), pp. 451-60.
35. Donald N. Baker, "The Politics of Socialist Protest in France: The Left Wing of the Socialist Party, 1921-1939," Journal of Modern History 43, no. 1 (March 1971): 24, 36-41, which views the pivertistes more as protesters than revolutionaries. For a recent interpretation of the SFIO's reformism, see Jacques Kergoat, Le parti socialiste (Paris, 1983); see also Tony Judt, Marxism and the French Left: Studies on Labour and Politics in France, 1930-1981 (New York, 1986), p. 158, which contrasts the "doctrinal intransigence" of the SFIO with its political compromises.
36. Donald N. Baker, "The Socialists and the Workers of Paris: The Amicales Socialistes, 1936-1940," International Review of Social History 24 (1979): 8; Nathanael Greene, Crisis and Decline: The French Socialist Party in the Popular Front (Ithaca, 1969), p. 141; Helmut Gruber, L"šon Blum, French Socialism, and the Popular Front: A Case of Internal Contradictions (Ithaca, 1986), p. 40, emphasizes the moderation of Pivert. 37. Pivert quoted in Jean-Paul Joubert, R"švolutionnaires de la SFIO: Marceau Pivert et le pivertisme (Paris, 1977), p. 141.
38. Pivert quoted in ibid.; Rabaut, Tout, pp. 242-43.
39. R"šsultat des "šlections l"šgislatives, 29 April 1936, AN, F713983.
40. Pivert, 13 March 1937, quoted in Greene, Crisis, p. 136.
41. Greene, Crisis, p. 194.
42. Baker, "Amicales," pp. 20, 29; Jean-Pierre Rioux, "Les socialistes dans l'entreprise au temps du front populaire: Quelques remarques sur les amicales socialistes (1936-1939)," Le Mouvement social, no. 106 (January-March 1976): 3-24; see also Joubert, R"švolutionnaires, pp. 102-3, 145.
43. Rabaut, Tout, p. 273.
44. Joubert, R"švolutionnaires, p. 155. It is interesting to note that the social composition of the POUM, unlike that of the Gauche r"švolutionnaire, was working-class (Victor Alba, Histoire du POUM, trans. No"šmie Pag"šs [Paris, 1975]).
45. Kriegel, Origines, p. 61.
46. Griffuelhes quoted in Lefranc, Mouvement syndical, p. 248.
47. Jean Touchard, La gauche en France depuis 1900 (Paris, 1977), chap. 2; Nicole Racine and Louis Bodin, Le parti communiste fran"¡ais pendant l'entre-deux-guerres (Paris, 1972), p. 209, give figures of 180,000 PCF members at Tours and 30,000 in 1933.
48. Tom Kemp, Stalinism in France: The First Twenty Years of the French Communist Party (London, 1984), 1:88-89; Jacques Fauvet, Histoire du parti communiste fran"¡ais, 1920-1976 (Paris, 1977), p. 77. 49. P. Semard quoted in Racine and Bodin, Parti, p. 171.
50. Fauvet, Parti, p. 81; Jean-Paul Brunet, Histoire du parti communiste fran"¡ais (1920-1982) (Paris, 1982), p. 41.
51. Thorez quoted in Dupeux, Elections, p. 70.
52. Fauvet, Parti, p. 97; Brunet (PCF, p. 44) states that the PCF had 6.7 percent of registered voters and 6.3 percent of votes cast.
53. Fauvet, Parti, p. 146; Brunet, PCF; figures vary slightly.
54. Instructions donn"šes par la direction du parti communiste ... ses organismes de base pour le 2e tour de scrutin, 30 April 1936, AN, F713983.
55. Irwin M. Wall, French Communism in the Era of Stalin (Westport, Conn., 1983), p. 16; see also Jacques Kergoat, La France du front populaire (Paris, 1986); Henri Heldman, "Le parti communiste fran"¡ais ... la conquË†te de la classe ouvriÅ re: Les cellules d'entreprise, 1924-1938" (ThÅ se, 3e cycle, University of Nanterre, 1979), p. 187.
56. R"šsultat des "šlections l"šgislatives, 29 April 1936, AN, F713983.
57. Annie Kriegel, "Le parti communiste fran"¡ais sous la TroisiÅ me R"špublique (1920-1939): Evolution de ses effectifs," Revue fran"¡aise de science politique 21, no. 1 (February 1966): 33; Brunet, PCF, p. 52.
58. For the PCF, see Louis Bodin, "De Tours ... Villeurbanne: Pour une lecture renouvel"še de l'histoire du parti communiste fran"¡ais," Annales Economies, Soci"št"šs, Civilisations, nos. 2-3 (March-June 1975).
59. Pierre Saint-Germaine, "La chaÅ’ne et la parapluie: Face ... la rationalisation (1919-1935)," Les R"švoltes logiques, no. 2 (1976): 98.
60. Humanit"š, 26 April and 17 May 1936; italics added. One can only agree with this particular evaluation by Humanit"š.
61. Ibid., 24 May 1936.
62. O. Rabat"š, Rationalisation et action syndicale: Discours prononc"š au congrÅ s f"šd"šral des m"štaux (CGTU) (Paris, 1927), pp. 66-67.
63. Humanit"š, 22 May 1936. On miners, see Aim"še Moutet, "La rationalisation dans les mines du nord ... l'"špreuve du front populaire," Le Mouvement social, no. 135 (April-June 1986): 79.
64. S"šbastien Faure, La crise "šconomique: Le ch"mage, origines-cons"šquences-remÅ des (Paris, 1932), p. 12. 65. Madeleine Pelletier, Le travail: Ce qu'il est, ce qu'il doit Ë†tre (?, 1930), pp. 20-21. 66. Julian Jackson, The Politics of the Depression in France, 1932-1936 (Cambridge, 1983), p. 39; see also Jules Moch, Socialisme et rationalisation (Brussels, 1927).
67. Amoyal, "Origines," p. 150; see also Jean-Fran"¡ois Biard, Le socialisme devant ses choix: La naissance de l'id"še de plan (Paris, 1985).
68. Georges Lefranc, "Le courant planiste dans le mouvement ouvrier fran"¡ais de 1933 ... 1936," Le Mouvement social, no. 54 (January-March 1966): 85.
69. For the program of the CGT see Georges Lefranc, Histoire du front populaire (Paris, 1974), pp. 465- 66; Henri Noyelle, "Plans d'"šconomie dirig"še: Les plans de reconstruction "šconomique et sociale ... l'"štranger et en France," Revue d'"šconomie politique, no. 5 (September-October 1934): 1602; Georges Lefranc, "Histoire d'un groupe du parti socialiste S.F.I.O.: r"švolution constructive (1930-1938)," in M"šlanges d'histoire "šconomique et sociale en hommage au professeur Antony Babel (Geneva, 1963), pp. 401-25. 70. Jacques Girault, Sur l'implantation du parti communiste fran"¡ais dans l'entre-deux-guerres (Paris, 1977), p. 114.
71. Humanit"š, 30 April 1929, cited in ibid., p. 114.
72. Andr"š Lur"¡at, Projets et r"šalisations (Paris, 1931), p. 5; Andr"š Lur"¡at, "Urbanisme et architecture," Cahiers de l'"šcole de Rochefort, collection Comprendre la ville (Paris, 1942) p. 12. See also Jean-Louis Cohen ("Lur"¡at au pays de soviets," Architecture, mouvement, continuit"š, no. 40 [September 1976]: 10), who emphasizes Lur"¡at's commitment to increased urban circulation. Lur"¡at admired the Soviet Union of the 1930s because "there work becomes easy."
73. This paragraph is based on Girault, Sur l'implantation, 17-129.
74. Ren"š Sordes, Histoire de Suresnes (Suresnes, 1965), p. 530.
75. Depretto and Schweitzer, Communisme, p. 53.
76. In theory, the Left did oppose defense production and argued for increased social expenditures.
10. Factory Occupations
Although they never developed into a social revolution, the French factory occupations constituted the largest wave of sit-down strikes in the history of the Third Republic and produced its most significant series of social reforms, including the still controversial forty-hour week. After the harsh years of the depression in the early 1930s, workers' demands for shorter hours and more pay were understandable. Yet their desires would eventually help to divide the Popular Front and harm its plans for economic recovery and growth.
To comprehend the factory occupations in the spring of 1936, we must review the demographic, economic, and political situation of France in the 1930s. France was hard hit by the carnage of World War I, and its losses, combined with a low birthrate, led to a labor shortage. In addition, although the number of peasants declined by one million between 1911 and 1936, the agrarian sector-relatively backward for an advanced industrial nation-held one-third of the active male population on the land, intensifying the labor scarcity. Throughout the interwar period foreign labor from Italy, Belgium, North Africa, and Spain was recruited to reduce the shortage. On the whole, unskilled and semiskilled jobs found workers, whether French or foreign, but those positions needing skilled labor were more difficult to fill. This lack of skilled workers was to have a profound effect during the Popular Front governments.
After 1931 the economic crisis compounded slow demographic growth as France felt the
consequences of the worldwide Great Depression. In industry and commerce, production fell about 20 percent during the 1930s.1 Between 1931 and 1936 in firms with over one hundred workers, the number of salaried personnel dropped 24 percent while industrial production declined 13 percent. Although in 1936 France had an unemployment rate of only 5 percent, joblessness was significant in the Paris region, which contained about 20 percent of the active French population but had over 50 percent of the nation's unemployed. Parisian unemployment was structurally similar to that in other industrial nations, for it too was high in the more advanced industrial sectors.
French governments attempted to combat the economic crisis in various ways. In the early 1930s they increased tariff protection and generally followed policies of deflation that lowered both wages and prices but left unemployment high in French terms. Deflation protected individuals on fixed incomes by keeping the franc costly and avoiding devaluation, but the strength of the franc in relation to other national currencies made French exports comparatively more expensive and hurt industries that sold abroad. Deflationary economic policies failed to stimulate demand and get the economy moving. Governmental expenditures dropped sharply, and many industries-for example, automobiles-were hurt by reduced governmental budgets. The discontent provoked by deflation and the government's reduced spending, particularly during the government of Pierre Laval (June 1935-January 1936), contributed to the formation of the Popular Front.
Workers experienced in diverse ways the effects of the 1930s economic crisis. Unemployment rose, most notably in the construction and metalworking industries. The rise was such that the Conseil g"šn"šral de la Seine refused to aid the unemployed who arrived in the region after July 1934.2 The workers' buying power did not consistently decline, however; deflation reduced not only wages but also prices. In fact, one economist estimated a 12 percent gain in workers' buying power between 1929 and 1935.3 At Renault, for example, the workers' real monthly wages increased slightly from 1930 to 1935. In contrast, a team of contemporary investigators saw a 7 percent drop in workers' "standard of living."4 Overall salaries of the working class declined by 15 percent from 1930 to 1935.5 To sum up, when unemployment is taken into account, the overall or global buying power of the class decreased even though workers who were employed gained substantially during this period. In Paris the overwhelming majority of the employed labored forty-eight hours per week. The number of foreigners who held jobs was surprisingly low. At Renault, foreigners dropped from 16 percent of the work force in February 1932 to 8 percent in May 1936. In the latter month the percentage of non- French in the entire Parisian work force rose slightly, from 4.8 to 5 percent.6 The percentage of women in the active population declined from 37.1 in 1931 to 34.2 in 1936.7 The privileged majority that held jobs was decidedly French and increasingly male.
Of the unemployed, eighty-one percent lost their job for economic reasons-lack of work, trimming of payrolls, and the closing of firms.8 Nineteen percent were dismissed for personal reasons- sickness, low output, and indiscipline. A disproportionate number were foreigners, who were often the first to be dismissed, as 1932 French legislation required. At the beginning of the economic depression older workers made up a large share of the unemployed, but as the crisis persisted, an increasing number of younger workers, who were usually more productive than their older counterparts, were also fired. Before their dismissals only 25 percent of the unemployed had had a stable job (for over five years); many were single, and they remained on the dole longer than those who were married with one or two children. Jobless workers with many children also remained unemployed for long periods, since their additional family allocations nearly equaled their wages. Working women who were touched by joblessness had particular problems. Nearly twice as many women with unemployed husbands worked as did women in general. Nineteen percent of the jobless, male or female, lived with a mate out of wedlock, compared to 11 percent of the general population. Of unmarried females dwelling with a male, 29 percent were employed, in contrast to 16.4 percent of women in general; some of these jobholders "accepted the hospitality of a boyfriend to avoid paying rent."9 Unemployed women, though, had much greater difficulty finding work than men did; they were often older than the jobless men, and employers preferred to hire the young. In addition, some industries that employed a high percentage of women-textiles, offices, and domestic services-were particularly affected by the depression. Generally, women had considerably lower salaries than men. The situation, though difficult, was not entirely bleak. Even the unemployed received the necessary minimum of calories, and the quality of their food was adequate.10 From 1929 to 1935 the general population's consumption of food rose 5 percent, thereby continuing a tendency of the early twentieth century. The consumption of sugar and butter increased 50 percent between 1919 and 1939; that of fruits doubled, and that of bread declined.11 Despite the crisis and the consequent fall of production, the general level of consumption did not decrease and even increased slightly at the expense of investment. The economic downturn did not halt the progress that had been made in public health during the Third Republic. In spite of the aging of the French population, longevity increased. Legislation such as social security helped reduce the infant mortality rate.12 Both the economic and political situations encouraged an alliance of the leftist political parties in the mid-1930s. As we have seen, the Communist, Socialist, and Radical parties wanted to guard against unemployment and increase consumption. In addition, the Left feared the growth of French right- wing and fascist movements. The example of Germany, where a divided Left was unable to prevent Hitler's accession to power in 1933 and subsequent destruction of leftist parties and unions, was dramatically present in many minds. After the right-wing riots against the republic in February 1934, the Socialists, Communists, and Radicals initiated long negotiations that culminated in the formation of the Popular Front during 1935. In the elections in the spring of 1936, the Popular Front coalition gained a majority of seats, and the leader of its largest party-L"šon Blum of the Socialist party-was mandated to form a new government. The Popular Front's political momentum ended the decline in the observance of May Day, which had occurred from 1926 to 1934.13 In Paris, 120,000 of the 250,000 metallurgists went on strike in 1936, including 75 to 85 percent of the Renault workers. Construction workers almost unanimously refused to labor on l May. Yet not all sectors participated with equal enthusiasm. A militant of the railway workers' union complained that wage earners remained indifferent to the celebration of May Day.14
After the Popular Front's electoral victory and before the new Blum government took office, France was confronted by the greatest wave of factory occupations or sit-down strikes that the nation had ever experienced. Aviation workers protesting dismissals of militants who had been absent on May Day initiated the occupations in Le Havre and Toulouse. Thus respect for the workers' holiday triggered the massive movement. Sit-down strikes, however, were not an invention of aviation workers, nor did workers learn of their existence only in the pages of Humanit"š or other militant publications. Such strikes "sur le tas" or "de bras crois"šs" had erupted in construction during the 1930s, and they were, to borrow a phrase from Charles Tilly, part of the popular repertory of the twentieth century. Workers male and female, young and old, French and foreign used tactics of occupation in the years preceding the Popular Front governments.15
During the Popular Front, workers continued to employ sit-downs to prevent scabs from entering the factories, occupation tactics that were particularly well chosen as the growing unemployment began to affect younger and more skilled workers. Just as important, Blum himself had assured the working class that he would not use force against it. Workers sensed correctly that Blum did not want to be the French Noske;16 they took advantage of the hiatus in state repression to occupy factories in the suburbs of Paris and, later, throughout France. In addition, the tactics of occupation forced employers to settle more quickly than a walkout would have. They violated property rights and put the machinery and capital goods of the factory directly in the hands of the workers. Sabotage and destruction were possibilities.
The Bloch aviation plant, with seven hundred workers in the suburb of Courbevoie, was one of the first in the Paris region to be affected. Bloch produced airplanes for the state, its principal client, and its wages were relatively high, typical of those in the Parisian aviation industry.17 On 14 May 1936 the Bloch workers occupied and spent the night inside the factory, and on the following day management conceded a slight wage hike, paid vacations, and strike pay.18 In Paris on 22 May, the personnel of Gn"me et Rh"ne, which made airplane engines, protested against overtime work and demanded respect for the eight-hour day; they soon won paid vacations and an end to overtime. Several days later, wage earners at other major aviation firms in the Paris region occupied their factories and made similar demands. On 28 May the wave of occupations hit the giant Renault factories at Boulogne- Billancourt. Humanit"š asserted that "the workers were tired of the low wages, of work speed-ups, of fines, and of the military discipline that is forced upon them."
On 28 May, the same day on which laborers at Renault struck, workers at Citro"°n also downed their tools. The sit-downs unfolded from the aviation companies and several firms that manufactured telephone and radio equipment to the large automobile firms. At SIMCA, the French division of Fiat, twelve hundred workers staged a sit-down strike in the "enormous factories."19 Their demands differed only slightly from those formulated at other firms: end of overtime work, eight days of paid vacation, recognition of union delegates, and an increase in wages, especially those of lower-paid workers. On 13 May the Syndicat du bÆ’timent decided to agitate at the 1937 exposition for a collective bargaining agreement that would establish an eight-hour day, a forty-hour week, and union delegates. Two hundred cement workers at Trocad"šro-the site of the World's Fair-demanded higher pay, a longer lunch break, the end of overtime, and dressing rooms so they could change into clothes that "would command respect."20 The last demand illustrated the narrowing distinctions in clothing between the bourgeoisie and the working class during the Popular Front: manual workers wanted to replace their blue overalls with more stylish clothes.21
With the exception of dressing rooms, the demands of the construction workers basically reiterated what their union leaders had wanted at the end of April.22 Indeed, some claims, such as the abolition of the tÆ’cheronnat (contracted piecework), reached back at least to the revolution of 1848. In the system of tÆ’cheronnat a general contractor employed a subcontractor (sous-traitant) who in turn paid workers by the piece. The subcontractors usually hired the most productive laborers and were reluctant to engage the very young or the old. Workers felt that "greedy" and "immoral" tÆ’cherons exploited them. During the depression years of 1932 and 1933, construction workers' refusal to work for a tÆ’cheron provoked at least three strikes.23
On 29 May an agreement between the union and management was reached at Renault. The accord ended overtime work, increased the lowest wages, promised the completion of toilets and dressing rooms, and guaranteed strike pay for the occupation. By 8:30 P.M. the factories were evacuated.24 On 30 May, following the Renault example, strikers at many other factories-among them Nieuport, Caudron, Farman, Brandt, and Panhard- ded their occupations with agreements similar to that reached at Renault, although workers at Bloch, Michelin, Citro"°n, and Lockheed also won paid vacations. In addition, workers at Citro"°n received permission to smoke in the factory. The Syndicat des m"štaux expressed "great satisfaction" with the results of the negotiations, as sixty thousand of the seventy thousand occupiers left their factories.25 Many observers thought that the sit-down strikes had ceased.
Although automobile, aviation, and related firms had been largely evacuated by l June, occupations continued at several chemical firms, tire-making plants, and various electronics firms.26 On 2 June a renewed wave of occupations affected a significant number of industries. Among them were the aviation firms, Lior"š et Olivier (1,200 workers) and Breguet. Although the industries of chemicals and metalworking (300 firms were occupied) were the most affected, other industrial sectors, such as electricity, gas, and printing, also became involved by 3 June. At Renault work stoppages continued sporadically until the occupation was resumed on 4 June. On 5 June Citro"°n was occupied, and even the provinces began to be touched, although the Paris region remained most active. In certain occupations, workers' solidarity assumed almost mythic proportions. At Dun and Bradstreet, in a strike that lasted at least twelve days, only 14 of 127 white-collar workers (75 percent of whom were women) refused to participate in an occupation that began on 10 June.27
There has been considerable debate over whether the strikes were spontaneous. The Right has claimed that subversives or Communists organized the occupations. The Left, in general, has emphasized the spontaneity and joyfulness that initially characterized the movement:
Yes, a joy. I went to see my pals in a factory where I worked a few months ago. . . . A joy to enter the factory with the smiling permission of the worker who guards the door. A joy to find so many smiles, so many friendly words. We really feel ourselves to be among comrades in these same workshops where, when I was working, everyone felt so alone with a machine. A joy to pass freely through the workshops where we had been riveted to our machine, to form groups, to gossip, to take a snack. A joy to hear, instead of the ruthless roar of machines-a striking symbol of our submission to harsh necessity-music, songs, and laughter.28
More recent historiography, especially from historians close to the PCF, has challenged the notion of a joyful and spontaneous strike movement and has stressed the role of Communist militants.29 Some evidence exists to support the assertion that Communist or union militants initiated the occupations. In aviation, for example, PCF activists seem to have exercised a degree of control in the occupations. At Renault the strike erupted in workshops where PCF and former CGTU militants were influential.30 According to police, however, the union leadership and the Left were startled by the timing and the extent of the movement:
The strike wave of sit-downs in metallurgical factories of the Paris region has literally surprised the militants of the CGT who were the last to be informed. . . .
Neither the unitaires [ex-CGTU] nor the conf"šd"šr"šs [ex-CGT], both of which had few members at Citro"°n, sparked its strike. . . .
The great wave at Renault . . . began without union officials (militants ®responsables¯) being informed. . . .
The major papers wanted to believe that the strike wave was Communist-inspired. Now that seems improbable. It is possible that Communist cells . . . became some of the most avid activists, but it must be acknowledged that Communist union militants were among the first to be surprised by the movement. It is possible that the hopes and enthusiasm that arose after the electoral victory of the Popular Front altered the minds of those who were already discontented with their material conditions.31
Sensing a favorable political and social climate, many workers-sometimes led by shop-floor CGT or PCF militants, sometimes on their own initiative-impulsively left their machines or laid down their tools in May and June 1936. As one historian of the Popular Front remarks, "The only satisfactory thesis is . . . that of a largely spontaneous movement: From which [came] its unprecedented importance-nearly two million strikers. From which also the prudent behavior of the employers who went with the flow without trying to stop it."32 Workers were happy, even joyous, to stop work and took the opportunity to relax with their co-workers in the noiseless factories and occasionally to initiate love affairs (women composed over 20 percent of the work force in metallurgy).33 Although many occupations began spontaneously, CGT militants soon began to organize the strikers and to formulate demands. Union activists organized the safety and the feeding of the workers with assistance from Socialist and Communist municipalities.34
When the Blum government took power on 4 June 1936, its main task was to calm the spreading movement of occupations, which worried not only governmental officials but also union leaders and, of course, the employers themselves. According to Blum, the initiative for negotiations between the employers, the union (CGT), and the government came from representatives of the major employers' organization, Conf"šd"šration g"šn"šrale de la production fran"¡aise (CGPF). With one exception, the delegates who represented the CGPF in the negotiations with the CGT and the government "headed large-scale enterprises and corporations located in Paris."35 The employers' representatives were connected with the more advanced industries, like metallurgy and chemicals. More traditional sectors, for example, commerce, textiles, and construction, were underrepresented in the CGPF delegation. On 7 and 8 June 1936 the three groups reached an agreement. The employers' delegates recognized the workers' right to join a union without the threat of sanctions, and, in turn, non-union members were guaranteed the right to work. The CGPF representatives agreed to the election of union delegates in firms with more than ten workers, and the three groups endorsed the principle of collective bargaining between the management and the union. The accord implicitly condemned the illegal occupations. Blum personally arbitrated the question of wages, raising them between 7 and 15 percent. He also promised to introduce legislation, which was to be approved quickly, guaranteeing paid vacations and, most important, the forty-hour week.
This agreement-providing collective bargaining, union rights, the election of union delegates on the shop floor, and higher pay-was known as the accord Matignon. It represented the culmination of the social legislation of the Third Republic.36 The CGT justifiably viewed it as a great victory for the Conf"šd"šration; and one of its delegates reported that the employers had yielded on all points.37 By contrast, employers in traditional sectors such as textiles and many small businessmen opposed the accord; their disappointment and even outrage at the agreement provoked a strong reaction against the Popular Front and a desire for unity among employers.38 Yet management of larger enterprises generally regarded the agreement as the best settlement that could be obtained at a time when over one million workers were occupying factories and firms throughout France. The employers hoped that collective bargaining would stabilize industry.39 According to C. J. Gignoux, who became head of the CGPF after the signing of the agreement, "the obligation of collective bargaining contracts could soften certain shocks and permit the resolution of many questions that, if regulated precipitously, would provoke serious disorder."40 Many on the Left believed that a collective contract could limit the "abusive" and "arbitrary" authority of the employers.41
The demand for recognition of elected union delegates also received wide support among several ideological currents within the CGT and even backing from certain employers. Well before the Popular Front, Albert Thomas had believed that delegates could help improve production and protect workers' interests. M. Chambelland, the leader of the small group of revolutionary syndicalists grouped around the review La R"švolution prol"štarienne, called for workers' delegates to prevent management's disregard of contracts and aid workers' participation in hiring and firing.42 Jouhaux also endorsed the institution of union delegates on the shop floor. Some of the more progressive managements believed that union representatives could prevent disorder by resolving friction between workers and employers over wages, working conditions, and the presentation of grievances; others felt that the introduction of union delegates might become the starting point for some form of productive workers' participation.43
Whereas some bourgeois could agree with union officials on the potential benefits of union representation, collective bargaining, pay raises for the lowest-paid personnel, and even limited paid vacations, management differed sharply from labor over the forty-hour week. Almost all employers objected that the forty-hour week would drastically raise costs and put them at a disadvantage with foreign competitors. Thus, the assertion by the economist Alfred Sauvy that the French bourgeoisie was relatively unconcerned about the effects of the forty-hour week is questionable. Well before the Popular Front, employers fervently opposed the shorter week. In January 1933, three thousand employers' organizations resolved to combat the "peril" of the forty-hour week.44 In 1935 C. J. Gignoux protested when the International Labor Conference approved the forty-hour proposal. Numerous bosses, their representatives, and their organizations blasted the shortened workweek in the strongest possible terms; the presidents of the chambers of commerce, for example, desired to "regenerate production by faith in labor": "The French working-class as a whole must rediscover the desire to work, which previously penetrated the entire population and which permitted, after the disasters of 1870 and the trials of the Great War, admirable recoveries."45 In June and July 1936 Economie nouvelle, the publication of the F"šd"šration des industriels et commer"¡ants fran"¡ais, declared that the forty-hour week would ruin small and medium-sized firms. The owners of small firms sometimes belonged to or often voted for the Radical party, which held the key to parliamentary majorities of this period. The alienation of these employers from the leftist coalition would put increasing pressure on the Radical party to abandon the Popular Front. The bourgeoisie-owners of firms small and big-resisted the forty-hour week probably more than any other demand. French industrialists and many economists objected that the shortage of skilled workers would cause a serious bottleneck for French production if the forty-hour week were imposed too rigorously. The lack of qualified personnel, employers asserted, would block a key goal of the forty-hour week-the hiring of the unemployed. In 1937 a St.-Etienne metallurgist who supplied Renault commented that "it is out of the question for us to create additional jobs or to work during vacations since our region lacks specialists and cannot recruit enough to establish such jobs."46 Yet the union position on the forty-hour week did reflect a deeply rooted attitude held by many workers who, as in Spain, wanted to defend their unemployed comrades by sharing the limited work available. Wage earners went on strike even during the depression in solidarity with their laid-off or dismissed colleagues.47 Solidarity strikes would increase after the electoral victory of the Popular Front.
Even if the CGT discourse on unemployment echoed working-class sentiment, it ignored the character of the aviation industry and other sectors. These industries depended on a considerable percentage of skilled workers who, because of the French demographic situation and the insufficiency of retraining programs, were in short supply. Thus the unemployed, most of them either old or unskilled, could not easily be employed in the many skilled jobs in aviation and other industries. Industrialists also feared that competition for the limited supply of qualified workers would raise wages dramatically; in dozens of letters, management complained of the "enticing away" of skilled workers by state-run firms that would offer higher pay and better benefits.48
In addition to opposing strenuously the shortened week, many employers objected to the size of the wage increases that Prime Minister Blum had arbitrated. Nevertheless, the Popular Front in general and the Blum government in particular believed that the augmentations were an essential element of the theory of pouvoir d'achat. The Left thought that the amplified buying power of the workers, with the reemployment of the jobless, would expand consumption and stimulate the economy, as the Popular Front's program intended. Higher demand would create economies of scale that would reduce costs per unit produced; renewed activity and the prospect of increased profits would encourage investment. Thus, higher-paid workers would be able to purchase lower-priced goods, and the economy would move out of the stagnation that had characterized it since the decade's beginning. Yet there was one catch: production had to increase if the plan was to succeed. Growth of goods and services could come only from increased investment and hard work.
Investment may have decreased nationally because of investors' reluctance to keep their money in France during periods of left-wing governments, the legendary mur d'argent.49 In the industries examined in detail here, however, the effects of this wall of money seem marginal. At Renault the pace of investment into modernizing machinery increased in 1936-1937 but slowed down in 1938. Massive state funds flowed into nationalized aviation firms in 1938.50 No lack of investment seems to have marked Parisian construction; indeed, the state committed large sums for the World's Fair.51 In these three key industries, hard work, not capital, was in particularly short supply in the Paris region during the Popular Front governments.
Officially and publicly, the Popular Front coalition assumed that workers would labor hard and even more diligently in return for higher pay and advanced social legislation. Yet after the long years of the depression of the 1930s-which often meant a quicker pace of production, a greater threat of unemployment, and decreased mobility-workers were ready to take advantage of the shifting balance of power. The forty-hour week meant a real change in everyday lives, and workers would struggle to maintain it throughout the Popular Front. Furthermore, at whatever cost to productivity, most workers wanted to divide the forty-hour week into five days of eight hours, resulting in two free days.52 Perhaps these workers perceived more lucidly than the politicians that the Popular Front was a fleeting opportunity whose benefits must be quickly reaped. Indeed, in certain factories where increases of productivity had been matched by pay hikes, management feared that "sure enough, at the first opportunity, the workers will ask that this salary level be preserved and proclaim that the work that they perform is excessive and must be reduced without diminishing their standard of living."53
According to industrialists, workers thus adapted their conception of a fair or moral wage to the new political and social climate of the Popular Front. The employers' assertion meshed with the findings of the French sociologist M. Halbwachs, who concluded that workers' salaries in the early 1930s were determined not so much by basic needs but rather by habit and custom. Habit prevented workers' standard of living from descending but not from climbing.54 Even during the deflation of the depression, when real wages generally rose for the employed, workers would strike to defend their nominal wages.55
There was absolutely no assurance that higher wages, shorter working week, and paid vacations would guarantee increased or even normal productivity. Indeed, given the long history of French workers' resistance to labor, the assumption of stable productivity was problematic. Studies of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century workers have shown the importance of sabotage, lateness, drunkenness, theft, slowdowns, struggles against piecework, and insubordination.56 In addition to these, absenteeism and unauthorized absences have been documented before World War I. Of the interwar period, less is known; in the 1930s, France's political and economic stability relative to its Iberian neighbor seems to have tempered workers' resistance to work. Instances of turnover and lateness declined, and workers became enracin"šs, more reluctant to change jobs or regions. The 1930s saw the stabilization of the working class after the destabilization of the 1920s.57
Yet slowdowns and faked illnesses remained favored tactics. In 1932 tense relations between construction workers and their foremen sparked work slowdowns, dismissals, and a violent confrontation between the two groups.58 Renault workers practiced the macadam, a tactic in which a worker would find several witnesses to testify, falsely, that he had been injured on the job and would then take off several days at the bosses' expense.59 In the 1930s, the French automaker attempted to stymie workers' efforts to fake illnesses or to find a permissive doctor who would allow them to remain on sick leave longer than management desired: "If we take care of our own insurance, . . . it is absolutely necessary that the insured are treated, as far as possible, by our own doctors. We must flush out the shady doctors so that our workers are not cared for in clinics where they are frequently taken advantage of at our expense."60
On the Renault shop floor strict surveillance, including turnstiles and identity cards, was established to reduce theft and pilfering. Certain firms regularly frisked their personnel. Workers protested against this discipline and often referred to the factory as Devil's Island or the bagne (convict prison), as others had done in the nineteenth century. Nor was resistance to labor limited to blue-collar workers. In the spring of 1931 Renault reported that delays in accounting were partially caused by employees, of whom "the majority work irregularly and waste a good deal of time when starting a job and when leaving it. The time devoted to preparation and arranging is enormous."61
Refusals to labor were not unknown among the unemployed, whom the Popular Front wished to reemploy. To avoid accepting an offer from the placement bureau, the jobless would sometimes exaggerate their physical defects and health problems to convince potential employers not to hire them.62 This tactic permitted individuals to claim that it was management who had refused their services and thus enabled them to keep their unemployment insurance. The longer they remained on the dole, the more difficult it was to accept retraining. Many would decline a position, if it meant moving to a new city. Parisian workers refused to be enticed by guarantees of housing, transportation allowances, and bonuses to "return to the farm" or even to their native province. Married couples were particularly reluctant to depart. By 1936 unemployed Parisians remained resolutely urban and rooted in what some French intellectuals considered a rootless environment.
To eliminate fraud, the placement bureau would summon the unemployed at the normal hours of their trade. For example, it convoked bakers early in the morning; this procedure "appreciably" reduced their numbers. Sudden convocation or unannounced visits also occurred. Inspectors could even interview former employers. Some patrons would collaborate with their personnel to swindle officials. A few managers were known to permit workers to leave the firm so they could keep appointments with the employment bureau. One building entrepreneur who had gone bankrupt encouraged his laborers to register for unemployment assistance by paying them the difference between their former salaries and the amount they received from the government. However, only a minority of the jobless attempted to deceive the authorities. In 1930, 65 percent of the unemployed were able to prove that their right to assistance was justified. By 1935, with rising unemployment touching previously unaffected sectors of the working class, the figure had climbed to 91 percent. Yet large numbers of workers were capable of violating the spirit, if not the letter, of the regulations. Parisian metalworkers, when waiting for their strikes to end, would register en masse as jobless workers so they could obtain compensation. In 1934, "given the evidence of [these] violations," the rules were changed to prevent the practice. If found guilty of fraud, the convicted could be fined or imprisoned.
In changed economic and political circumstances, resistance to labor could easily flourish, as it had before the depression when turnover and lateness were more prevalent. Given this pattern, it is not surprising that despite the signing of the Matignon Agreements on 8 June and Blum's commitment to obtain legislative approval for the forty-hour week and paid vacations, work remained halted in many factories and workshops. Although the CGT endorsed the accord, it was unable to end the sit-down strikes immediately in the Paris region. Again, this failure indicated that the movement was spontaneous or, at least, not entirely under the control of the CGT: "In effect, the strikes broke out in those sectors where the organizations capable of provoking them were the weakest. This is true of the CGT, which was completely outmaneuvered (d"šbord"še)."63
However unplanned and unsuspected their commencement, the occupations immediately offered important responsibilities to union militants and elected officials of the Left. Their implantation in the Parisian suburbs during the interwar period proved decisive in certain sit-down strikes. During the occupations, the Metallurgical Employers' Association (Groupement des industries m"štallurgiques, or GIM) complained of "interference" not only by CGT delegates but also by Communist and Socialist elected officials.64 A Catholic academy in Vanves-whose board of directors included Cardinal Verdier, the archbishop of Paris-had eight hundred students who were largely from "modest families of the Paris region." On 26 June approximately fifty workers occupied its kitchen. The strikers received "real encouragement from the Issy municipality, which had a Communist mayor who fed them and persuaded them to hold out until victory. The older personnel would give in readily but are carried along by the young."65 The school administration accepted the workers' demand for higher pay but refused to recognize the union. The police superintendent feared that if he used force to end the occupation, the working-class commune might react violently.
With the help of many municipalities, activists in the occupied factories organized concerts, dances, sports, games, and films. CGT militants presented workers' demands and sometimes insisted that the forty-hour week, paid vacations, and higher salaries not only be legislated at the national level but also be inscribed in collective bargaining agreements at the local level. At Renault the Communist deputy Costes reminded the management that the workers wanted the forty-hour week and paid vacations to be included in their contract: "The workers prefer, in spite of all the advantages that an eventual law might grant them, the signing of a collective bargaining agreement that has the power of a law between the two parties: Renault management and the workers."66
Many, if not most, historians have attributed the end of the May and June strikes to the influence of the speech that Maurice Thorez, the leader of the French PCF, gave to party militants on 11 June 1936. While praising the order and discipline of the Parisian proletariat, the Communist leader argued: We do not yet have behind us, with us, ready to go with us to the end, the people of the countryside. We are risking the estrangement of sections of the bourgeoisie and peasantry that are somewhat sympathetic. What then? . . . then it is necessary to know how to end a strike once satisfaction has been obtained.67
Yet Thorez's influence even at Renault, where the PCF claimed to have great strength, seems to have been limited. On 5 June, the day on which Thorez told the militants not to scare "the bourgeoisie and the peasants of France," damage at Renault began.68 Although little destruction had occurred during the strike's first days, a "mean spirit" appeared among the workers on 11 June under the pretext of a delay in signing the collective bargaining agreement.69 After 11 June there was a "new situation, characterized by the violence of the strikers." Raw materials were "voluntarily defiled and rendered unusable," from which Renault claimed 161,201 francs of damage, a considerable sum. Windows were broken "either voluntarily or involuntarily," and thousands of francs' worth of items disappeared, including clocks, tools, and equipment of all sorts. Assembly-line workers sometimes refused requests by their foremen to complete the work at hand. In one case the superintendent (chef d'atelier) demanded that workers grease unfinished doors that would rust if left untreated, but the workers "categorically refused" to carry out the order. Management later spent 8,379 francs to eliminate the rust. Workers used this destruction to wring concessions from the Renault management. Most historians have stressed the workers' calm, order, and respect for both people and property during the occupations. In many firms machines and materials were protected, and management was left untouched. The workers of the Paris region did not wish to destroy the machines and factories on which they depended for their livelihood. Nonetheless, as at Renault, in several other firms during the occupations damage to property did occur. At one electronics firm (Alsthom), telephone wires were cut.70 At the Fa;ad fiencerie de Choisy-le-Roi, theft and damage were reported. The Metallurgical Employers' Association announced threats of sabotage by workers in two firms and estimated potential damage at a minimum of 200,000 francs. In two other companies, workers threatened to extinguish furnaces, which, if accomplished, would have cost the concerns hundreds of thousands of francs. Industrialists reported some damage, usually caused by workers who abruptly stopped production or who used up supplies of raw materials during the occupations.71 In this context of petty theft, subtle sabotage, and intimidation, union representatives in fourteen factories warned that workers would run the rms themselves if their demands were not met.72
There was also a limited amount of violence. At a number of firms in the Paris region, managers were forcibly conned and supervisory personnel were not permitted to enter the factories. Several foremen and executives were physically searched, verbally abused, and threatened with death.73 Foremen were particularly detested by their underlings; some were expelled from factories.74 A CGT declaration on 2 June stating that employers "must be free to enter and leave their firms" was either ignored or disobeyed. At Renault, administrative personnel who were "guarded as hostages" became involved in fights with other workers.
However, when shop-floor delegates' demands were satisfied and collective bargaining agreements signed, the sit-downs and strikes gradually ended, often with the government's mediation. Regardless of the fears of many and the hopes of few, revolution did not occur. In many branches, wage earners made great gains. For example, on 12 June a contract in construction established an eight-hour day, restricted overtime, and abolished the tÆ’cheronnat.75 Teams with rotating assignment of workers were to perform nightwork, and the union achieved increased control of hiring.
On Bastille Day when the strike wave was nearly over, BenoÅ’t Frachon, a Communist CGT leader, told a rally of forty thousand that the workers had returned or would return to the factories with greater class consciousness.76 The following chapter shows that this consciousness manifested itself in modes remarkably similar to those of Spanish workers during the Revolution in Barcelona.
1. Alfred Sauvy, ed., Histoire "šconomique de la France entre les deux guerres (Paris, 1972), 2:121.
2. Gabrielle Letellier, Jean Perret, H. E. Zuber, and A. Dauphin-Meunier, EnquË†te sur le ch"mage (Paris, 1938-1949), 1:250.
3. Sauvy, ed., Histoire "šconomique, 2:133; cf. Georges Lefranc, Histoire du front populaire (Paris, 1974), p. 50, who has concluded that workers' buying power declined; see also Julian Jackson, The Politics of the Depression in France, 1932-1936 (Cambridge, 1983), p. 58.
4. Jean-Paul Depretto and Sylvie V. Schweitzer, Le communisme ... l'usine: Vie ouvriÅ re et mouvement ouvrier chez Renault, 1920-1939 (Paris, 1984), p. 16; Letellier et al., EnquË†te, 1:60.
5. Jean Lhomme, "Le pouvoir d'achat de l'ouvrier fran"¡ais au cours d'un siÅ cle: 1840-1940," Le Mouvement social, no. 63 (April-June 1968): 41-69.
6. Au sujet du ch"mage dans la r"šgion parisienne, 3 May 1936, AN, F713983.
7. Annie Fourcaut, Femmes ... l'usine en France dans l'entre-deux-guerres (Paris, 1982), pp. 46-47.
8. The following is based on Letellier et al., EnquË†te, 2:86.
9. Quoted in Fourcaut, Femmes, p. 131.
10. Sauvy, ed., Histoire "šconomique, 2:122.
11. Jean and Fran"¡oise Fourasti"š, "Le genre de vie," in Histoire "šconomique de la France entre les deux guerres, ed. Alfred Sauvy (Paris, 1972), 3:215.
12. Andr"š Armengaud, "La d"šmographie fran"¡aise du XXe siÅ cle," in Histoire "šconomique et sociale de la France, ed. Fernand Braudel and Ernest Labrousse (Paris, 1976), 4:619; Jacques Godard, "A propos de la mortalit"š infantile," Georges Lefranc Collection, Hoover Institution.
13. Graphique du nombre des gr"švistes du 1er mai, AN, 39AS864-870; Jacques Kergoat, La France du front populaire (Paris, 1986), p. 98; Depretto and Schweitzer, Communisme, p. 182.
14. Meeting organis"š par le syndicat unifi"š des cheminots ... Vitry-sur-Seine, 2 May 1936, AN, F713983.
15. GrÅ ve d'ouvriers peintres, 17 May 1930, APP 1870; GrÅ ve d'ouvriers outilleurs, 13 September 1933, APP 1870; GrÅ ves d'ouvriers cimentiers, 28 March 1934 and 17 March 1936, APP 1873; GrÅ ve d'ouvriers et ouvriÅ res toliers et ferblantiers, 30 March 1934, APP 1870; GrÅ ve d'ouvriers manouvres, 27 July 1934, APP 1873; Charles Tilly, The Contentious French (Cambridge, Mass., 1986); Depretto and Schweitzer, Communisme, pp. 131-49; Sylvie V. Schweitzer, Des engrenages ... la chaÅ’ne (Lyon, 1982), p. 164; Humanit"š, 30 and 31 March, 4 April 1934.
16. Gustav Noske (1868-1946) was the German Social Democratic leader who reestablished order in Germany by suppressing the insurrection of early 1919 that attempted to extend the German revolution. Blum made it clear that he would not follow Noske's precedent.
17. Henri Prouteau, Les occupations d'usines en Italie et en France (Paris, 1938), p. 103.
18. Humanit"š, 17-29 May 1936; Jacques Danos and Marcel Gibelin, Juin 36 (Paris, 1972), 1:41-44; Usine, supplements of 23 May and 4 June 1936; Le Petit Parisien, 27-28 May 1936.
19. Le Petit Parisien, 29 May 1936.
20. Humanit"š, 17 and 27 May 1936.
21. Barcelonan workers also were ambivalent toward their work clothes. Employees of the power industry-meter readers and collectors-demanded a removable insignia on their company-supplied uniforms so that they could wear them both on and off the job.
22. Activit"š de l'union des syndicats de la r"šgion parisienne, 29 April 1936, AN, F713652.
23. Louis Danty-Lafrance and Ren"š Villmer, La r"šmun"šration de la main d'ouvre dans l'organisation du travail (Paris, 1937), p. 35; see also Bernard Mottez, SystÅ mes de salaires et politiques patronales: Essai sur l'"švolution des pratiques et des id"šologies patronales (Paris, 1966); GrÅ ve d'ouvriers cimentiers, 13 March 1933; Conflit dans une entreprise de travaux publics, 20 January 1932; Incidents sur untchantier de construction ... Malakoff, 8 January 1932, all in APP 1873; GrÅ ves de manouvres, 7 May 1936, AN, F713983.
24. Danos and Gibelin, Juin 36, 2:50; Bertrand Badie, "Les grÅ ves du front populaire aux usines Renault," Le Mouvement social, no. 81 (October-December 1972): 98; Usine, 4 June 1936; Humanit"š, 30 May 1936.
25. Le Petit Parisien, 31 May 1936.
26. Ibid., 1-4 June 1936; Humanit"š, 5 June 1936; Danos and Gibelin, Juin 36, 1:62-66.
27. Trois tentatives, (n.d.), AN, F60996.
28. Simone Weil, La condition ouvriÅ re (Paris, 1951) p. 231.
29. Badie, "Les grÅ ves," pp. 83-84.
30. Herrick Eaton Chapman, "Reshaping French Industrial Politics: Workers, Employers, State Officials, and the Struggle for Control in the Aircraft Industry, 1938-1950" (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Berkeley, 1983), p. 135; Depretto and Schweitzer, Communisme, pp. 181-84.
31. Occupation des usines, 30 May 1936, AN, F713983.
32. Antoine Prost, "Les grÅ ves de juin 1936," in L"šon Blum, chef du gouvernement, ed. Pierre Renouvin and Ren"š R"šmond (Paris, 1981), p. 74.
33. Sian Reynolds, "Women and Men: Different Experiences of the Popular Front in France" (Paper presented at Popular Fronts Conference, University of Southampton, April 1986); Renseignements: R"špartition du personnel entre les diverses fabrications, 8 July 1936, AN, 39AS830/831. 34. Compte-rendu de la d"šl"šgation, 6 June 1936, AN, 91AQ16.
35. Henry W. Ehrmann, Organized Business in France (Princeton, 1957), p. 7; Georges Lefranc, Juin 36 (Paris, 1966), pp. 143-58.
36. Edouard Doll"šans and G"šrard Dehove, Histoire du travail en France: Mouvement ouvrier et l"šgislation sociale de 1919 ... nos jours (Paris, 1955), 2:13; Miniconi, Ce qu'il faut savoir sur les assurances sociales (Paris, 1937); Joel Colton, Compulsory Labor Arbitration in France (New York, 1951), p. 17.
37. Andr"š Delmas, A gauche de la barricade (Paris, 1950), p. 101; see Ingo Kolboom, La revanche des patrons: Le patronat face au front populaire, trans. Jeanne Etor"š (Paris, 1986), for small employers' opposition to the agreement; also Serge Berstein, Histoire du parti radical (Paris, 1980-1982), 2:449-50. 38. Activit"š des groupements patronaux, 29 July 1936, AN, F712961.
39. Charles Jeanselme, Le nouveau r"šgime des conventions collectives en France (Paris, 1938), p. 25.
40. C. J. Gignoux, L'"šconomie fran"¡aise entre les deux guerres, 1919-1939 (Paris, 1942), p. 304.
41. L"šon Jouhaux quoted in Danos and Gibelin, Juin 36, 2:87.
42. Lefranc, Juin 36, p. 67.
43. Jean Coutrot, L'humanisme "šconomique (Paris, 1936), p. 20; Pierre Andr"š, Les d"šl"šgu"šs ouvriers (Paris, 1937), p. 3.
44. La Journ"še industrielle quoted in Martin Fine, "Toward Corporatism: The Movement for Capital- Labor Collaboration in France, 1914-1936" (Ph.D. diss., University of Wisconsin, 1971), p. 226.
45. L'Economie nouvelle, June-July 1936 and in 1938. On the opposition of the patronat throughout the Popular Front see letters AN, 39AS977 and AN, 91AQ15; C. J. Gignoux, Patrons, soyez des patrons! (Paris, 1937), p. 7; Activit"š des groupements patronaux, 29 July 1936, AN, F712961; Adrian Rossiter, "Popular Front Economic Policy and the Matignon Negotiations" (Paper presented at Popular Fronts Conference, University of Southampton, April 1986); Joel Colton, L"šon Blum: Humanist in Politics (Cambridge, 1966), pp. 167-70.
46. Letter from Aci"šries et forges de Firminy to L. Renault, 22 July 1937, AN, 91AQ83.
47. GrÅ ve d'ouvriers cimentiers et ferrailleurs, 7 June 1932, APP 1873; GrÅ ve d'ouvriers cimentiers, 22 November 1934, APP 1873; Fin de grÅ ve d'ouvriers en articles de voyage, 3 September 1935, APP 1870.
48. Letters collected in AN, 39AS948/949.
49. Jean-No"°l Jeanneney, Fran"¡ois de Wendel en r"špublique: L'argent et le pouvoir, 1914-1940 (Paris, 1976), 2:815; Fran"¡ois Bloch-Lain"š, Profession fonctionnaire (Paris, 1976), pp. 122-23; see also the discussion in Irwin M. Wall, "Teaching the French Popular Front," The History Teacher (May 1987): 366-69.
50. Patrick Fridenson, Histoire des usines Renault (Paris, 1972), pp. 278-80; Emmanuel Chadeau, L'industrie a"šronautique en France, 1900-1950 (Paris, 1987), pp. 252-333; Robert Frankenstein, Le prix du r"šarmement fran"¡ais, 1935-1939 (Paris, 1982), pp. 81-86, 160-69, 257.
51. Jean-Fran"¡ois Pinchon, "La conception et l'organisation de l'exposition," in Cinquantenaire de l'exposition internationale des arts et des techniques dans la vie moderne (Paris, 1987), pp. 41-43.
52. La commission administrative de la CGT, 18 July 1936, AN, F712961.
53. Note sur les salaires ... la S.A.F.E., 16 January 1937, AN, 91AQ37.
54. Conversely, workers' refusals to work a thirty-hour week during the Popular Front may be attributed to their reluctance to see their buying power decline precipitously (M. Halbwachs, L'"švolution des besoins dans les classes ouvriÅ res [Paris, 1933], p. 137).
55. Compagnie du ciment Verre, 13 December 1934, APP 1873; GrÅ ve d'ouvriers cauoutchoutiers, 18 May 1934, APP 1870.
56. See Michelle Perrot, Les ouvriers en grÅ ve: France 1871-1890 (Paris, 1974); Roland Tremp"š, Les mineurs de Carmaux, 1848- 1914 (Paris, 1971), 1:229; Yves Lequin, Les ouvriers de la r"šgion lyonnaise (Lyon, 1977); Jacques Valdour, Ouvriers parisiens (Paris, 1921), pp. 24-31, which concludes that workers would not work unless forced.
57. Noiriel, Ouvriers, pp. 174-75.
58. GrÅ ve d'ouvriers cimentiers, 5 July 1936, APP 1873.
59. Depretto and Schweitzer, Communisme, p. 98; "Les lendemains d'octobre: La jeunesse ouvriÅ re fran"¡aise entre le bolch"švisme et la marginalit"š," Les R"švoltes logiques, no. 1 (1975): 74. 60. Etude sur l'assurance 'Accidents du travail,' 24 September 1931, AN, 91AQ57.
61. Cause de ce retard, AN, 91AQ3.
62. The following is derived from Letellier et al., EnquË†te, 1:255, 310-17.
63. Prost, "Les grÅ ves," p. 73.
64. GrÅ ves de juin 1936, GIM.
65. Letter from Commissaire de police de Vanves, 27 June 1936, APP 1873.
66. Costes cited in Compte-rendu de la d"šl"šgation, 6 June 1936, AN, 91AQ16.
67. Thorez quoted in Lefranc, Juin 36, p. 172.
68. See numerous documents and letters from Renault management, its insurance company, and the arbitrator in AN, 91AQ115.
69. See three signed statements and Affaire: usines Renault grÅ ve du 5 au 14 juin 1936, in AN, 91AQ115; Arbitrage, "štat des dommages, d"št"šriorations, et soustractions constat"šs, AN, 91AQ115; Letter to X. 3 November 1936, AN, 91AQ115. Cf. Badie, "Les grÅ ves," p. 92, which calls the Renault occupation "a model of a self-managed society."
70. GrÅ ves de juin 1936, GIM; Occupation des usines, GIM.
71. AN, F22760, F22761; Occupation des usines, GIM.
72. Etablissements o"” il existe une menace de mise en marche par les ouvriers, (n.d.), GIM.
73. Extraits de correspondances, (n.d.), Incidents-Bennes Pillot, Als-Thom, La Flamme bleue, Dunlop, Bretin, Edoux Samain, S.E.V., Montupet, D.A.V.U.M., Bronzavia, SOUMA, GIM; Faits signal"šs, (n.d.), GIM.
74. Renvoi d'ouvriers terrassiers et mineurs, 28 May 1936, AN, F713983; for the CGT statement, see Kergoat, France, p. 115; Extraits de correspondances, Bretin, lettre du 10 juin 1936, GIM; GrÅ ves de juin 1936, GIM; Faits signal"šs, Als-Thom, GIM; A la maison de couture Chanel, 24 June 1936, APP 1872; Le Petit Parisien, 29 May 1936.
75. Convention collective, 12 June 1936, AN, F60996.
76. Manifestation populaire organis"še par le parti communiste au v"šlodrome Buffalo, APP 1862.
11. Revolts Against Work
After the initial factory occupations in the spring of 1936 had receded, violence, destruction, and disobedience continued. Direct and indirect revolts against work-phenomena almost always present among wage earners-intensified during the French Popular Front governments. Parisian wage earners seem to have increased their resistances, particularly strikes, when the government was led by L"šon Blum, prime minister from June 1936 to June 1937 and again from March 1938 to April 1938. After May 1936 many workers took advantage of a relaxation in the military-like labor discipline that had characterized factory life in the early 1930s to arrive late, leave early, miss work, slow down production, and, on occasion, to disobey their superiors in ways that hurt output. As in Barcelona in the months following the electoral victory of the Spanish Popular Front in February 1936, some workers interpreted the alliance against fascism not in terms of politics but of everyday life. For many Parisian workers, fascism became associated with iron discipline on the shop floor, an intensive productivity, and a long and tiring workweek. A foreman who demanded strict obedience, a boss who established longer working hours, or an engineer who quickened the pace of production might be labeled a fascist by some workers. Thus, the Popular Front became an opportunity to defy the work pace and to struggle against work itself.
In a letter to his deputy, one Parisian worker revealed his conception of the relation between work and fascism. The writer, who claimed to be a "convinced partisan of the Popular Front," protested the dismissal of an employee, a young woman who had refused to labor during a legal holiday, 11 November.1 He accused the director of the company, the luxury store Fauchon, of being a "notorious fascist" (fascite [sic] notoire) and charged that the firing of the girl was illegal and intolerable "under a government of the Popular Front, elected by the workers for the defense of their interests." Although the writer was wrong concerning the illegality of the dismissal (the prohibition on work during legal holidays applied not to luxury stores but to factories and mines), the letter-whatever its misspellings and insufficient knowledge of labor law-disclosed his identification of the Popular Front with the protection of holidays. It also significantly leveled charges of fascism against an employer who wished to recover a holiday. In Paris as in Barcelona, struggles over the treatment of holidays were widespread.
At Renault after the occupations, the guerrilla against work took a variety of forms, and workers took advantage of the new atmosphere of softened discipline: "In different workshops the workers have modified, on their own initiative, their working hours, entering an hour earlier or later and leaving accordingly."2 In the chromium and nickel plating and polishing workshops, wage earners (mostly women) stopped production with a "disconcerting ability" and formulated their demands only after the work stoppage.3
The newly elected union delegates often profited from the new climate in the factory. They consistently ignored a clause in the contract that instituted a ten-hour per month maximum for the exercise of union functions; many missed work whenever possible: "The delegates do not perform any real work. Some appear in their workshops only incidentally. Most of them leave their jobs at any moment without asking the permission of their foremen. The delegates meet almost constantly and, despite the numerous warnings issued, they persist in acting this way."4 Delegates often left the factory to go to the union hall, in complete disregard of the contract; when management offered the delegates a card to permit them to circulate freely in the factory and thus to account for the time exercised in their functions, they refused.5
Tensions between delegates and foremen were particularly acute at Renault and a dual power existed. Foremen who attempted to enforce work discipline often ran into the opposition of both delegates and workers who disobeyed their orders. When a delegate returned to his workshop and his foreman reproached him for his "unauthorized absence," the delegate replied that "he had had enough, that it had to blow up, and that the next time workers would not hang foremen and bosses in effigy but for real."6 Delegates were known to enter the factory "in a state of excessive drunkenness," "engaging in clowning, preventing workers from working normally." In February 1937 a delegate ordered that machines be turned off during his mealtime, and the result was "difficulties, if not impossibilities of working during meals."7
Both union representatives and workers attempted to control hiring and firing at Renault. In September 1936 the personnel of atelier 147 demanded the dismissal of their foreman "with the plea that he made them work too much."8 Syndicats, the review of the anti-Communist faction of the CGT, complained when the Renault management refused to hire an inexperienced young worker for a highly specialized job: "The industrialists want to employ only workers capable of maximum output."9 The journal called for CGT control of hiring. Delegates asked management to fire wage earners- regardless of their work record-who refused to join the CGT.10 Union representatives opposed the hiring of workers associated with right-wing parties and unions. Incidents of varying degrees of violence erupted:
10.9 , atelier 59: The workers of metal pattern-making wait at the exit for the worker K., who has received a medal for being one of the best workers in France. He was followed as far as his residence at Billancourt by three hundred agitators who covered him from head to feet with spit. At the place Sembat the police dispersed the mob.11
Although union power could not always prevent layoffs and dismissals, management found it difficult to fire some workers who, in its judgment, had committed "grave professional errors."12 A company driver who had caused three separate accidents on three consecutive days could not be dismissed: We had to keep this worker, under the pretext that his firing was not caused by his
professional errors, but because he was the chauffeur for (PCF) Deputy Costes during the strike.
Right now concerning the working-class personnel, each job change requires several hours of discussion with the interested parties. Each dismissal, even those that are completely justified, becomes subject to negotiations that can involve the management and even the ministry. Examples are both numerous and daily.13
When companies in various industries laid off workers, strikes ensued.14 Toward the end of the Popular Front, employers still inquired about the correct procedures for dismissing CGT delegates whom they charged with responsibility for defects in production.15
Union representatives usurped management prerogatives concerning employment: "Certain delegates take advantage of their position for personal reasons. Example: X, delegate, changed one of his cousins from an unskilled laborer to an o.s. (ouvrier sp"šcialis"š), ousting an o.s. and making him an unskilled worker."16 In atelier 125, rationalization of a process for car interiors had reduced the need for workers, and the management wanted to dismiss female wage earners whose rate of absenteeism was high and to retain those women who were the sole breadwinners of their families. The delegate, however, opposed management's selections and argued for the retention of three married women (whom management believed to be the favorites of the delegates). The company asserted that the women whom the delegates protected did not need the jobs as much as unmarried or divorced women with an equal or larger number of dependents.17
Delegates used the gains of the May and June occupations in special ways. After the strikes in the spring of 1936, regular searches of the packages and suitcases of workers leaving the factories were suspended, and in atelier 243 a delegate threatened "incidents" if management reinstituted the checks.18 Nevertheless, during several months the management quietly employed "a discreet surveillance." On 4 December 1937 a delegate and his partner were arrested as they entered a taxi. Both were carrying heavy bags and were taken to a police station where they declared that, every day for several months, they had stolen five kilograms of antifriction metals, which they later resold. Renault claimed 200,000 francs in damages, including the cost of the stolen goods and the estimated price of the "disorders affecting our manufactures." A conservative newspaper reported that all except one of the "twenty or so inspectors and workers from Citro"°n who stole numerous parts during 1936 and 1937" had been found guilty.19
Work slowdowns and protests against piecework were frequent during the Popular Front. In the late summer and early fall of 1936, wage earners fought hard against production incentives and a "too rapid" production pace.20 After June 1936 in the Renault aluminum foundry, new machinery, which was supposed to reduce costs 20 percent, was installed, but the new equipment succeeded in cutting costs by only 4 percent because after a "long discussion," workers refused to "work with this new material."21 Slowdowns continued in various workshops and assembly lines throughout 1937 and 1938. In July 1937 a director of personnel wrote that management had to confront "a great deal of both declared and underhanded ill will that paralyzes our efforts. . . . We now have serious problems maintaining piecework and production incentives. In a number of firms, in order to avoid debates, piecework has been retained only nominally, and there is really a fixed salary."22 He believed that the only way to increase productivity was to restore incentives of piecework. Renault management charged that output in 1938 was lower than in 1936.23 In contrast to 1936, work did not "begin normally" at starting times. Workers in the polishing workshop stopped at 1130 instead of 1200 and at 1430 instead of 1600. In the gear section work began a half-hour late and ended a half-hour early. On the assembly line, output increased only in the delegates' absence.
According to the employers, it was necessary to watch workers very closely to obtain decent productivity.24 In August 1937 management rationalized a Renault assembly line to produce 15 to 16 chassis per hour instead of the previous 8 to 10. An executive explained the operation. No worker had to do more work than previously. The increase of production was made
possible by the elimination of certain operations and the amelioration of machinery and method. With regard to [workers'] health, special fans and screens were installed, which meant a real advance in working conditions. From the beginning [of the reorganization] we ran into ill will and systematic opposition against the work pace.25
The delegates charged that the work rhythm was "inhuman" and that workers could not produce more than 13 chassis per hour. Despite the resistance, management claimed to have kept its "patience" and continued to pay workers as if they had reached the production goal. In November 1937, the company became frustrated by the "arrogance" of the delegates and tried to demonstrate to the workers that it was possible to attain 15.5 chassis without difficulty. The 15.5 goal was met at the end of November only when the delegates were absent, and the executive believed that workers could exceed this target if they ceased "voluntarily" limiting their output.
In other incidents, delegates frequently encouraged workers' resistance to production speed-ups. A widow who was a semiskilled lathe worker claimed that her Renault salary was her only source of income and conceded that she wanted "to make the most possible."26 After the strikes of June 1936, (male) union delegates limited her piecework production and prohibited her from earning more than 5 francs per hour. The woman consulted with her foreman and supervisors who encouraged her to work energetically. She then went beyond the "ceiling" imposed by the delegates and earned 8.11 francs per hour. Consequently, "the delegates and the personnel of the workshop" became hostile to her. They accused her of being a member of Colonel de La Rocque's Parti social fran"¡ais (or PSF, the successor to his right-wing Croix de feu) and charged that she had spied for management. She denied being a spy and indicated that she was apolitical. Her colleague, Mme B., threatened her life and on 13 January 1937 successfully aroused female co-workers against her. The widow declared that her fellow workers had angrily shouted "Death!" "Down with stool pigeons," and "Up against the wall, La Rocque." Several had inscribed "Death to fascists" in the sawdust in front of her machine. To avoid the hostile demonstration against her and possible injury, the widow was forced to leave the factory by a rarely used exit. In Renault's polishing workshops a year later, union representatives continued to require that workers show them their paychecks so that the CGT activists could determine if the workers were producing beyond the de facto quota that had been established.27
Although Renault's difficulties are the best documented, it was not the only automaker to experience tensions between delegates and management. In September 1937 a twenty-five day strike erupted at SIMCA, FIAT's Parisian branch. CGT representatives accused the management of the Italian firm of being "fascist" and "Mussolinian."28 The union charged that management had refused to pay workers the minimum required by the collective bargaining agreement and treated shop stewards unfairly. Management replied that the conflict, which involved seventeen hundred workers at its Nanterre factory, was provoked by workers' slowdowns. "Production graphs clearly demonstrate this ill will. During May and June  production was systematically lowered and its rhythm fell from 64 to 40 or 42 cars per day. On 7 July the management warned that it would no longer tolerate the continuation of this situation and suddenly production returned to normal."29
Yet after July, incidents continued to plague the factory. Management dismissed a worker who had ruined a large press-valued at a half million francs. It also fired a delegate who, it claimed, had left the factory without authorization to go to the union hall. On Friday 27 August, several days after the firings, workers protested against a new system of pay distribution and stopped laboring in certain workshops at 4:00 P.M. Two hundred wage earners then demonstrated against management and, for several hours, prevented executives from leaving their offices. On the Monday following this protest, workers returned to their posts but, according to SIMCA, in an atmosphere of "underhanded agitation." When the supervisor found defects in a number of automobiles, he stopped the assembly line. The delegate and several workers then restarted the halted line, even though management had assured them that they would have an opportunity to make up the lost time and pay. The company, claiming that it could not permit workers' usurpation of its prerogatives, suspended twelve disobedient workers for forty-eight hours. When the supervisor announced the sanctions, he was booed, hit, and violently ejected from the factory. "The majority" of his fellow foremen "spontaneously" signed a letter of protest. In response to the August incidents, management fired forty-nine workers. Supported by the delegates and high union officials, the dismissed returned to the factory on 1 September. The following day, an occupation ensued and executives and foremen were again sequestered.
Fortunately for the historian, two arbitration reports evaluated management's and union's accounts. The first decided that workers must return to the factory on Monday 27 September under the same conditions that had existed before the occupation.30 Arbitrators eliminated the dining room used for union meetings and ended the position of the union secretary who did not labor in the factory. They also reduced the workweek to not fewer than thirty-two hours to provide for the employment of all personnel.
The second arbitration ruling was issued by Guinand, the president of the nationalized railroad company (Soci"št"š nationale des chemins de fer, or SNCF), appointed arbitrator by the prime minister, Camille Chautemps of the Radical party, who had succeeded Blum in June 1937 and remained in office until March 1938.31 Guinand determined that management had been justified in dismissing the delegate who had left the factory in defiance of orders. He supported the firing of twenty-two workers and the suspensions, for one or two weeks, of twenty-two others. His panel criticized SIMCA for tolerating indiscipline and not penalizing workers immediately after they committed infractions. After listening to testimony from both labor and management, the board concluded:
We consider that a serious state of indiscipline, which destroyed productivity, certainly prevailed in the Nanterre factory. In particular, certain delegates went way beyond their duties as established in the collective bargaining agreement, and they interfered in technical matters against the wishes of supervisory personnel. This created deplorable incidents that hindered work efficiency. Specifically, an incident of this type occurred on 30 August during a demonstration in which a supervisor was forced to leave his workshop. This was absolutely wrong.
Even after arbitration, friction persisted between unionized workers and their foremen during the fall of 1937.
The decline of production and the unsettled state of the factories should not be entirely attributed to the actions of the delegates. Management tended to blame production problems on "troublemakers" and "agitators." Yet these meneurs, as employers called them, found a solid base of support among fellow workers. Many SIMCA workers backed the actions of the shop stewards, and workers at Renault elected them by overwhelming majorities. At Renault in July 1936, the CGT F"šd"šration des m"štaux received 86.5 percent of the votes of those registered, whereas the other unions combined polled only 7 percent, and abstentions were 6.5 percent.32 Generally by July 1936, c"šg"štistes were pleased by the overwhelming majorities their candidates had received-despite employers' resistance-in shop-steward elections throughout the Paris region.33 In July 1938 the CGT continued to hold its majorities; it polled 20,428 out of 27,913 votes, or 73 percent. The other unions-Syndicat professionnel fran"¡ais, CFTC (Catholic), and independents-obtained only 11 percent in total. Abstentions more than doubled, from 6.5 percent in 1936 to 16 percent in July 1938. Although CGT militants may have employed violence to intimidate voters, as management charged during the Popular Front, the delegates of the F"šd"šration des m"štaux, which won such lopsided majorities (71 delegates out of 74 in 1938), must have expressed many of their constituencies' desires. On occasion these constituencies did limit the power of the delegates. In one case delegates required that management end a certain incentive in return for the delegates' pledge that productivity would not suffer; nevertheless, output fell.34 As early as 30 June 1936 during negotiations between the labor minister and metallurgical employers, a CGT delegation promised to help increase output, but this commitment also remained unfulfilled. Intervention by the delegates to improve production risked arousing "the anger of the workers against the delegates." CGT metallurgical officials were concerned that either "Trotskyists" or "fascist professional unions" would gain support among workers if the Conf"šd"šration did not pursue workers' demands aggressively enough.35
As in Barcelona, appeals by high-ranking union and Communist party officials that workers work harder often went unanswered. On 16 September 1936 the Renault management reported a work stoppage "in spite of the intervention" of the secretary of the F"šd"šration des m"štaux of Billancourt and of an important CGT leader, Timbault. Even lower-ranking delegates would sometimes disobey union superiors or renege on agreements: "With the consent of the delegates, it was agreed that the painters would work two hours overtime to finish the vehicles for the automobile show. At 6:00 P.M. the delegate M, dissatisfied with his pay, gave them an order to leave in the name of the CGT."36 The Metallurgical Employers' Association listed a number of incidents where CGT delegates hindered production by "haranguing" and exhorting their workers. Even after offending delegates were dismissed, production slowdowns sometimes continued among the rank and file. Indeed, industrialists claimed, some delegates even resigned, "exasperated by the unjustified demands of the workers."37 Local CGT newspapers would occasionally acknowledge that workers were late without justification. On 1 April 1937 L'Unit"š (CGT) noted lapses in discipline at the Renault ball-bearing workshop. We have had only too often the opportunity to record a number of uncommon absences for reasons often frivolous and sometimes nonexistent.
Moreover, it is quite natural that everyone respects the work schedule, given by the management and accepted by us. We implore you to obey our union's discipline since in no way should we lay ourselves open to our enemies.
The anti-Communist Parti populaire fran"¡ais agreed with its adversary. The PPF's publication, Le D"šfenseur, approved the gains that the June strikes had produced at Renault: the end of turnstiles, a "little less arrogance from the wardens" (i.e., foremen), and the ability to enter the factory a bit late without losing a half day's pay. Nevertheless, "in return, the comrades exaggerate. They arrive either at 7:30 or at 8:00, thus disturbing the starting of the assembly lines. In addition, certain [workers] stop work ten minutes before the whistle."38
Some Communist militants were irritated by the workers' actions, and the local PCF newspaper, La Lutte finale, charged that "indisciplined comrades" were falling into a trap set by management by not producing well. During a cell meeting one militant "protested against the abuses perpetrated by the comrades: work stoppages before the whistle. The punching-in at noon had been ended, but the comrades were in the streets before the noon whistle had blown. . . . [He noted] work stoppages twenty or thirty minutes early."39 The PCF disliked "personal decisions" and refused "to tolerate, under any pretext, individual action." A militant who was seen speaking to his foreman while intoxicated and who admitted having "been a little drunk" was mildly reprimanded by his cell. Communist activists were warned not to commit violent acts against non-PCF workers since "it is better . . . to keep them in view, to fence them in, and in some way to make them prisoners in case of a movement." Besides, the militant declared, out of 34,000 CGT members at Renault only 4,000 were in the PCF. Thus, 30,000 workers remained non-Communist, according to the PCF's own figures. Occasionally, but rarely, delegates and CGT officials would respond to management's requests and ask workers to increase their output. For example, at Renault in September 1937, new and unskilled dippers (trempeurs) were hired and, according to management, worked poorly. In response, veteran dippers cut their production "brutally" and began to work like their newly employed colleagues. "At this moment the intervention of the delegates, who told these workers that sanctions would be taken against them if they did not resume their normal production, was very useful to support our [management's] efforts."40 Shortly thereafter, production returned to normal. In the spring workshop, both old and new workers engaged in slowdowns. When the delegates intervened to improve output, veteran workers then produced at a normal pace. Although intervention by delegates to augment production was sometimes successful, it had definite limits since it might jeopardize their popularity and effectiveness among their constituencies. Union representatives generally hindered production, disturbed normal factory discipline, and even intimidated the minority of workers who wanted to produce at a quicker pace. Earlier hopes that union representatives in the factories would be a stabilizing force were destroyed.
The indiscipline and insubordination of many workers and delegates provoked a sharp reaction from shop foremen, engineers, technicians, and superintendents, who objected vigorously to the decline of their authority. Those who belonged to the right-wing Syndicat professionnel declared, "Mass production can exist only when a rigorous discipline reigns. Now the agitated state that exists in our industry can result only in slipshod production and uncertain delivery."41 The Syndicat professionnel sent a letter to Prime Minister Blum in the fall of 1936, that cited the "troubles reigning in all the metallurgical factories of Paris and its suburbs." It blamed the decline of the management's authority on "irresponsible agitators who are not qualified to substitute for the management." Foremen and superintendents claimed that they had approved the new social legislation "from its inception," but they demanded that the government end agitation in the factories.42 The agents de maÅ’trise (supervisory personnel) contrasted the poor discipline at Renault with the "countries of order," Great Britain, the United States, and Germany.43 In March 1937 certain disgruntled members of the maÅ’trise went on strike in four factories of the Soci"št"š industrielle des t"šl"šphones to demand "absolute guarantees of safety and discipline."44
In January 1939, after the collapse of the general strike of 30 November 1938, the Syndicat professionnel reminded a senior Renault administrator that "since June 1936" workers had defied the authority of foremen and supervisors and that the cadres had now restored the "output and productivity of numerous workshops."45 A letter of 1 December 1938, probably by Louis Renault, stated: "Our maÅ’trise has suffered for two years the repercussions of politics. It has frequently been forced to accept a lack of respect for discipline and systematically restrained output."46 Generally in automotive and metallurgical production, it was this climate of indiscipline that most disturbed industrialists and their immediate subordinates:
Since the month of June, there are complaints of a lowering of workers' output. Most often, this reduction is not the result of the ill will of the workers but rather of a slackening of discipline. The intervention by the state, the unions, the delegates, and the cells provokes disorder in the workplace and also uncertainty in the minds of the workers about who is in charge.47
Strikes of several hours' duration sabotage production less than the state of indiscipline that is being fostered in the factory and now infects the workers. Consequently, our first duty is to struggle against the institutionalization of indiscipline.48
Reacting to the lax discipline, many foremen and superintendents, and perhaps engineers and technicians was well, inclined toward extreme right-wing parties or fascist movements that clamored for the restoration of order and discipline in the workplace. These movements attracted those cadres who, for personal or patriotic reasons, insisted on hard work and heightened discipline: "When there is no discipline, output must be faulty. The necessity of discipline is so evident that engineers and foremen, who want the factories to operate well and who are in daily contact with the work force, are the first to demand the preservation of management's authority."49 In response, workers who opposed a quickened production pace would sometimes charge-justly or not-that foremen who exacted increased productivity and workers who refused to participate in production slowdowns were fascists or members of right-wing organizations.50 Those workers who continued to labor during a strike were also labeled fascists by their striking colleagues.
Despite its nationalization, the aviation industry experienced somewhat less intensively the problems that characterized automobile production during the Popular Front governments. Nationalization of the war industries and elimination of privately owned defense firms had been a goal of the Popular Front, and at the beginning of 1937 the French state assumed control of most large aviation companies. CGT representation on the administrative councils of the nationalized enterprises was quickly instituted; although in a minority position, the union did participate effectively in the management of the nationalized aviation companies during 1937 and 1938. These enterprises retained their former owners and managers, men like M. Bloch and H. Potez, to direct the day-to-day operations of the firms.
Nationalization brought workers significant changes, raising salaries and guaranteeing better benefits and more job security. Increasingly in 1938, the government also set out to rationalize production in an industry that often conserved its artisanal character. Its goals were to specialize production, eliminate craftsman-like methods, and promote assembly-line organization. The state encouraged the formation of specialized factories that mass-produced aircraft parts; this "rational organization of work" produced excellent results that in 1938 cut the time necessary for certain operations.51 Engineers were employed to determine the ideal duration of specific tasks; one process, for instance, was reduced from twenty-five thousand hours of labor to four thousand.52
Nationalization also led to a further standardization of manufacturing processes. New machines were purchased in France or abroad to offset shortages of qualified personnel. Buildings were constructed and more workers-many of them attracted by the offer of higher salaries-were hired. The state promoted the concentration of previously dispersed branches while encouraging the establishment of new factories outside the Paris region, which in 1936 contained 65 to 90 percent of French aviation plants and featured relatively generous wages and frequent agitation.
In nationalized aviation, workers received good wages for several reasons. Despite expanding rationalization, many operations in the industry required highly skilled workers, in contrast to the automobile sector where work was generally less precise and less complicated. Because the French demographic situation kept skilled laborers in short supply, to attract and keep them industrialists paid qualified workers well. Aviation managers were forced to hire many new workers who, according to a supporter of the Popular Front and its nationalizations, were often poorly qualified.53 In addition to the industry's need for qualified labor, CGT representation on its administrative councils and the industry's vulnerability to strikes that could paralyze national defense all gave the union considerable influence on contract negotiations. Many workers in nationalized aviation were therefore relatively privileged, and private employers complained that they could not match the elevated wages and improved benefits that were attracting their best workers into this sector.54 Qualified workers increased not only their wages but also their mobility during the Popular Front; knowing that their skills were in demand, workers could easily move from one firm to another. High rates of turnover were hardly conducive to rigorous discipline or heightened productivity.55 Indeed, one prudent manager recommended that time-measurement controllers be more lenient with skilled workers, thereby encouraging them to stay. Employers were obliged to tolerate acts of indiscipline as well as disputes between qualified workers and experienced time-measurement controllers who refused to "bend . . . to the demands of the skilled." In possession of greater bargaining leverage, skilled workers were sometimes (as in the spring of 1938) more willing to strike than their less skilled companions.
Perhaps because of employees' greater pride in workmanship and improved working conditions, nationalized aviation firms experienced less agitation and social tension than either aviation firms that remained in private hands or the automobile industry. Although the tensions were somewhat mitigated, the nationalized sector still confronted labor difficulties. CGT delegates, who were supposed to facilitate labor-management relations, took advantage of their position to escape from the factory.56 An anonymous whistle-blower, whose charges were generally confirmed by state inspectors, wrote that the authority of union delegates at SNCASO at Suresnes (Soci"št"š nationale de constructions a"šronautiques du sud-ouest, formerly Bl"šriot) often surpassed that of the foremen.57 Union representatives and even other union members had stopped working; according to this informant, forty to fifty workers out of fourteen hundred no longer produced. "Contrary to the orders of management," the delegates slowed work rhythms and left the factory whenever they wished without receiving permission.
A military technician, who inspected a number of nationalized aviation companies in the Paris suburbs, assessed the situation at SNCASO in Courbevoie.
The authority of the maÅ’trise is now nearly nonexistent. The major part of the supervisory personnel and technicians, seeing that they were not supported by management, joined the CGT and cooperated (faire corps) with the workers to maintain the slowdown of production. However, some would like to demonstrate their authority.58
At the Courbevoie plant, delegates had four rooms, desks, and a telephone at their disposal. On the walls, a list of all personnel was posted, and union representatives could summon a worker during working hours. Delegates left the factory when they desired and were able to paralyze production very quickly, as the 30 November 1938 strike would show. They had also organized a cooperative that could provision workers during factory occupations. At Sautter-Harl"š-an armaments maker with approximately a thousand workers-the management agreed to permit six union delegates to use a room but soon concluded "that what the delegates wanted was a room at their disposal the entire day and beyond the control of management."59
Even when aviation delegates attempted to aid production, their advice often went unheeded. For instance, in September 1938, despite delegates' promises that workers would labor Saturday and Sunday, many failed to appear for weekend duty.60 Discipline in the plants became lax and authority was frequently defied. At Gn"me et Rh"ne, an aviation firm in which the government had partial control (participation minoritaire), a worker complained of the reinforced work discipline that followed the Jacomet arbitration agreement of the spring of 1938.61 Before the arbitration over worktime and wages, workers could move freely in the factory and go to the toilet when they desired. After the Jacomet decision, however, thirty guards were posted, toilets and dressing rooms were closely watched, and the authority of the foremen was strengthened. The atmosphere had changed considerably since June 1936, according to Trotskyists; management became bold enough to fire workers, hire informers, and employ guards who were former boxers and street fighters. It increased the number of time clocks and imposed "insolent and definitive workshop rules" against "entering the dressing rooms before the whistle." Workers could be dismissed for eating on the job or making unauthorized trips to the toilets. The foremen were returned to their previous role as "prison guards," and, of course, the power of the delegates was restricted. The CGT protested in June that it had lost control over hiring, which was now in the hands of the company union, Association des ouvriers Gn"me et Rh"ne.62 CGT membership dropped 25 percent as workers abandoned the Conf"šd"šration for the company union, which the Left linked to the right-wing Syndicat professionnel.63 Prior to the Jacomet arbitration, all ten men in one shift had been in the CGT, but in July only five remained and seven had joined the company union (two wage earners apparently belonged to both unions); a revolutionary syndicalist estimated that at least 10 percent of the union members at the factory belonged to both organizations. Thus, as in Barcelona, a worker's membership in a union did not mean a commitment to its ideology. In addition, after the Jacomet decision the forty-five-hour week was established and divided into five weeks of six days' labor followed by three weeks of five working days. Recovery, or the making up, of holidays was facilitated, and workers were assured of only one full weekend every eight weeks.
Indiscipline was not limited to blue-collar workers. Early in the Popular Front, R. Caudron, an aviation industrialist, criticized the "poor output" of white-collar workers in his research department and emphasized the need for reinforced discipline and order:
We must have a responsible person who can watch output, who forces [the personnel] to be on time, who restrains their overly indulgent exits and absences, who controls visits . . . in a word, who puts our house in order.
Our 170 employees have missed a total of 1,239 hours of work in November , of which 458 hours were attributed to sickness.64
Unproductive aviation workers, like lax autoworkers, could not easily be dismissed.
In aviation firms under greater governmental control, senior administrators condemned "la vague g"šn"šrale de paresse" and planned to use overtime and "especially to strengthen the authority of the factories' management."65 In the Paris region, it should be noted, the tension between workers and their immediate superiors was intensified by the narrowing of pay differentials between the two categories. Workers sometimes earned more money than the foreman who directed them. An engineering professor, who advocated "scientific" organization of work, inveighed against the "tendency to level wages, which therefore discouraged the best [workers]."66
Aviation workers resisted piecework and incentives for production. At the beginning of 1938 the Minister of Aviation declared that aircraft production had been hindered, not primarily because of the forty-hour week, but rather because of the "insufficiency of hourly production in the nationalized factories."67 Aviation industrialists, like state engineers, demanded that output be augmented. At Gn"me et Rh"ne, workers agreed among themselves to limit production: when management wanted to quicken output, "unforeseeable incidents and machine stoppages showed the impossibility of increasing the pace."68 Gn"me et Rh"ne workers knew how many pieces per hour their neighbors had completed, and pro-Communist La Vie ouvriÅ re declared that these workers refused "to accept an incentive to overproduce."69 After the Jacomet decision of April 1938, Gn"me et Rh"ne personnel were no longer able to learn the amount that their colleagues earned from piecework, and pay was distributed in secret.70 By September, Gn"me et Rh"ne's production rhythm was much greater but used fewer personnel than that of the Soci"št"š nationale de constructions de moteurs (SNCM), whose nationalization in May 1937 was responsible for increased union power on the shop floor. At Salmson, a privately owned aviation firm employing twelve hundred workers, the CGT claimed that its secretary had been unjustly dismissed and that its delegates were prevented from exercising their functions.71 These actions by the management did not "encourage the workers to augment the pace of production," and the CGT asserted that "to obtain a normal output, one must have a normal attitude toward the workers." Even the president of the SNCM at Argenteuil, who was a strong advocate of nationalization, alerted his personnel that "in the factory, one works."72 Although Ren"š Belin, the CGT leader who represented the union on the administrative council of the SNCM, denied that he had "imposed" a resolution concerning the length of the workday and output on workers, he nonetheless stated that "a satisfactory output" should be maintained "in the aviation factories and especially at the Lorraine [SNCM]."73
While managers of the nationalized aviation firms granted workers increased wages, high overtime pay, August vacations, improved health and safety conditions, professional reeducation, special transportation to work, and even CGT participation in hiring, they nevertheless insisted on tying pay levels to production through a system of piecework or incentives. Officials in both public and private enterprises were convinced that incentives were necessary in a situation where, despite the purchase of new machinery and the addition of new personnel, productivity frequently declined. A detailed investigation of one factory in 1937 placed the decline at 5 percent, which appears to be slight.74 However, given that aviation was attracting some of the highest paid workers in a period of growing international tension, even a 5 percent drop was significant. Furthermore, the 5 percent figure did not take into account social conflicts or strikes. Although other reports claimed that individual output had not decreased, more detailed and voluminous documentation indicates that extremely serious problems of output and productivity existed in Parisian aviation plants during the Popular Front. Officials determined that productivity had dropped sharply between June and October 1936 and then stabilized at relatively low levels in 1937.75 At the still private Breguet plant at V"šlizy "the work teams usually labored lethargically . . . slowdowns, negligence, and pilfering (freinage et coulage) became widespread."76 At the Riom trial, St"šphane Thouvenot-a young engineer who obtained high positions in the nationalized sector both during the Popular Front and the liberation-stated that "nationalization took place in a troubled political and social atmosphere and failed industrially. The main cause of the failure was the relations between workers and bosses." A recent study of the industry concurs.
On the whole, the nationalized enterprises produced 395 airplanes in 1937 in contrast to 483 in 1936 in the workshops that they inherited. During this period, their average yearly personnel rose from 14,220 to 14,894 workers and foremen, or 37.7 employees per plane as opposed to 29.44 in the preceding year, which meant a 28 percent reduction of output. Certainly, this was offset by retooling and reorganization. . . . Certainly, the planes were more complicated: For all that, the net reduction of output was 11 percent. More than their private competitors because of their role as "social showcases," the nationalized firms experienced problems resulting from the balance of forces established after the strikes of 1936. According to a confidential report of February 1938, the production of Morane-Saulnier fighters at the Bourges plant was thus delayed because of the reluctance of the work teams to change from traditional Hanriot manufactures to the Morane-Saulnier, which had been subcontracted fifteen months earlier.77
In 1938 the employers' organization, Constructeurs de cellules, appealed to the Minister of Aviation for "the development of piecework."78 The president of the Chambre syndicale de moteurs also recommended piecework. In November 1938 a handwritten memo on the departure of skilled workers from Renault established that one major reason for the skilled workers' mobility was that work was less strenuous in airplane production and "in aviation, piecework is only a disguised hourly wage. Since competition is minimal, the taxpayer pays the bill."79 Renault listed twenty-three skilled drillers (fraiseurs) whose piecework earnings were substantially less than management desired. Metallurgical employers charged that "piecework [in aviation] is practically abandoned. The F"šd"šration des m"štaux (CGT) constrains workers not to go beyond a 'ceiling' of fixed salaries."80 An unnamed informant denounced piecework in aviation as "a mockery." He cited the example of a task performed by several workers in four minutes. When one worker completed the same job in sixteen minutes, the others consequently reduced their pace.81 A report written by an engineering professor complained that "deplorable habits" had become rooted in aviation; workers were appealing over the heads of their own management directly to the Minister of Aviation.
Thanks to the atmosphere in the aviation ministry and thanks also to the demagogy of certain directors, consulting committees [composed of an equal number of labor and management representatives], which could have promoted collaboration in another era, helped to disorganize the firms. Certain workers went so far as to call for complete control of the administration [of the factory].82
In a personal letter to the minister, B. Rouz"š (the production manager of the SNCAN [Soci"št"š nationale de constructions a"šronautiques du nord] and a member of the Radical party) criticized union delegates who interfered when foremen disciplined workers.83
A military technician, visiting nationalized factories in the Paris suburbs, reported deliberate slowdowns by workers. The SNCASO plant at Courbevoie was "a model of passive resistance to production."84 One worker who was expected to produce one piece every hour made only six pieces in seven hours. When challenged, he demanded that the production manager finish the part in the allotted time. The manager then produced the piece in front of the worker in "21 minutes without hurrying." The military technician concluded that the worker's slowness more than tripled costs and that sanctions should be applied if he did not increase his output.
A young engineer made even graver charges concerning the Courbevoie plant, which was headed by Marcel Bloch. The engineer's letter was forwarded to the Minister of Aviation by Lucien Lamoureux, a Radical party deputy, who had supported the Popular Front at its inception. Lamoureux became increasingly hostile to the coalition of the Left and was eventually one of its most resolute opponents in the Radical party. An investigation undertaken by an important official of the ministry, Thouvenot, verified the engineer's charges.85 A prototype of the fighter plane M.B. 150, which had taken 18,000 hours to build at the beginning of 1936, required 40,000 hours in 1938. The unnamed technician believed that productivity had declined for several reasons. First, since May 1936 salaries were no longer linked to output. Thus, "the good and the bad worker had equal pay." Second, "the unions became strong" and effectively threatened strikes if dissatisfied; the disciplinary authority of the supervisory personnel had therefore been decisively weakened. Other reports concerning nationalized aviation reiterated that "ill will" reigned in certain plants and recommended increasing the weight of piecework in the workers' total salary.86 They remarked that the work rules of the collective bargaining agreement assigned workers to a specific atelier, thereby obstructing management's flexibility.87 An admiral criticized a nationalized company for high costs, which were caused partially by a lack of planning and by what he termed "ouvriers peu travailleurs."88
Aviation workers vigorously defended the weekend and the forty-hour week. As a result, French aviation production was slowed and weakened in comparison with the German industry, where workers labored between fifty and sixty hours per week.89 In some German metallurgical factories, wage earners worked ten hours per day, and several mechanical construction firms were permitted to operate sixty to seventy-two hours per week. The point here is not to echo simplistic Vichyite accusations that the Popular Front was responsible for the French defeat in 1940 but rather to show the tenacity of resistance to work in a period of heightened international tension. The persistence of refusals suggests that in 1938 the nationalization of the masses was still incomplete in France. Given the history of the Second World War, it is regrettable that German workers did not imitate their French comrades.
In 1938 the French government and employers pressured the workers to work overtime to close the gap. However workers resisted these demands for several reasons of varying importance. The ideology of both the Communist and anti-Communist factions of the CGT clearly asserted that overtime was unnecessary and exploitative when unemployment existed. This discourse on unemployment regarded overtime as an attack on unemployed workers' right to and need for a job. Nevertheless the CGT position, shared of course by the rest of the Popular Front, did not take into account the conditions in an advanced economy, where the lack of skilled workers and technicians created bottlenecks in production. The short supply of skilled workers was aggravated by the participation of the CGT in hiring: "In the nationalized aviation factories, delegates controlled employment. From a professional point of view this recruitment left something to be desired, and a CGT or PCF card was often required."90 At a SNCASO factory in the Parisian suburbs, CGT delegates hired only union members who (it was charged) were often Communists. Although the regional hiring office (Office d"špartemental de placement) protested CGT hiring practices, it proved incapable of reducing CGT control.91 Employers feared even lower productivity if the unions took complete control of hiring and firing.
Workers in aviation and other industries not only resisted overtime and attempts to lengthen the workweek through solidarity with the unemployed but, more important, because they wanted to protect their weekend and the forty-hour week. Despite claims by many in the Popular Front that workers would be willing to sacrifice for national defense, the authorities found it difficult to extend the workweek beyond forty hours. A governmental report affirmed that one reason planes were not being completed on schedule was that legislation had restricted overtime.92 It attributed insufficient exports, in part, to inflexibility concerning extra hours. In February 1938 high government officials claimed that only several thousand aviation workers were performing overtime, and more effort was needed if delays were to be reduced.93 On 2 March 1938 Syndicats reported that the "metallurgical workers are too attached to the forty-hour week to let it be violated." Pressure grew in March as Henry Potez, other aviation industrialists, and military officers demanded more hours of labor without compensatory time off: in a schedule of five days of eight hours, they requested that a worker who worked nine hours one day would no longer be able to labor only seven hours the next.94 Again in June 1938, top aviation officials stressed "the extreme difficulty that they confronted in making overtime acceptable in private industry."
An investigation claimed that workers' refusal of overtime had "nearly paralyzed overall production."95 The inquiry calculated that on average aviation workers performed only three hours of overtime per year and had the right to recover these hours. Wage earners' insistence on this right made overtime "nothing more than a costly shift of the schedule."96 In public, Popular Front organizations continued to insist that the union was willing to make the workers labor overtime for national defense. The workers, it stated, were willing to contribute to the antifascist cause, giving to the Spanish republic an extra hour without pay. In private, though, the CGT leader, Ambroise Croizat, admitted that the forty-hour week hindered aircraft production and that overtime was necessary, but he considered that "the working masses" were "insufficiently informed of industrial necessities."97 Looking back during the Second World War, a clandestine issue of the Socialist newspaper, Le Populaire, reproached workers for failing to work overtime during the Popular Front.98 In March 1937 and again in the spring of 1938, strikes erupted in various Parisian metallurgical firms, including aviation plants, over wage issues and the extension of the forty-hour week. During these strikes and others, aviation workers sometimes demonstrated an indifference to quality and even a hostility toward the means of production. In many workshops, work was halted without concern for the consequences that the stoppage would have on production rhythms.99 After the March-April 1938 strikes, the privately owned Soci"št"š des avions Caudron reported 6,379 francs of damages. At the Soci"št"š industrielle des t"šl"šphones, an electrical installation damaged during the occupation accidentally electrocuted one worker.100 Renault also claimed extensive "violence," "damages," and "thefts" during these occupations: windows were broken; raw materials wasted; and spark plugs, lamps, scissors, clothes, thermometers, and batteries were either missing or stolen.101 Historians of various political persuasions have stated that during the strikes of the spring of 1938 the managements of both public and private aviation companies rejected the union's offer to work forty- five hours per week.102 The aviation employers' rejection of the forty-five-hour week was altogether exceptional, however, and stemmed from the high costs of the CGT demands. The Jacomet arbitration later reduced the costs of overtime pay, and the forty-five-hour week was accepted, though only in aviation.103 Thus, aviation directors-both public and private-supported changes in the forty- five-hour week. Their attitude was similar to that of the vast majority of the French bourgeoisie, who felt that the forty-hour week was legislated laziness that put France at a disadvantage in international competition or that the forty-hour week should at the very least be modified to suit the needs of each specific industry in order not to hinder production. Throughout the spring and summer of 1938 aviation managements pushed for longer working hours. In March 1938 the administrator of a nationalized enterprise, the SNCASE (Soci"št"š nationale de constructions a"šronautiques du sud-est), insisted on "the necessity, in order to accelerate production, to work forty-five hours . . . in the planning department and in tool fabrication."104 Other aviation industrialists asserted that, to be effective, the forty-five-hour week had to be extended to suppliers of raw materials, semifinished products, and accessories.105 In July 1938 the Chambre syndicale des constructeurs de moteurs d'avions debated whether to accept only one hundred hours of overtime per year or to strive for "a permanent end" to the restrictions on the workweek:
Mr. X thinks that it is not more overtime but a permanent repeal that must be obtained. I would share his opinion if this permanent repeal had some possibility of being enacted, which it does not. Therefore if we insist on it, which we will certainly not get, we risk losing the advantages of the extra credit of one hundred hours of overtime. Sometimes when you want to do something better, it turns out worse.106
Again in the summer and fall of 1938, aviation workers fought against overtime and battled to save the weekend or at least two consecutive days without work. The forty-five-hour week in aviation was generally divided into five days of nine hours each, despite the desires of many employers-and L"šon Blum-who would have preferred to divide the forty-five- and even the forty-hour week into six days.107 They argued that productivity and the likelihood of overtime were often greater in a six-day week. Important industrialists claimed that work during Saturday was preferable to working at night for several reasons. Productivity was lower at night, and it was harder to watch the shop floor since fewer supervisory personnel were available. In addition, public transportation was infrequent, and female workers were prohibited by law from work at night. Union activists nevertheless asserted that workers would "until the bitter end . . . resolutely defend" the workweek arranged in five days of eight hours each against that in six days of six hours and forty minutes each.108 In June 1938 the anti- Communist CGT members of the firm La Pr"šcision moderne were determined to defend "the 5 Å¾ 8, threatened by decrees."109 The F"šd"šration des m"štaux also opposed the extension of the workday. In October 1938 workers at both public and private aviation firms left their jobs at 5:00 P.M. instead of 6:00 P.M. to protest overtime: "The workers of a number of aviation companies-Farman, Caudron, Potez, Breguet-refused to do more than 8 hours of work. Completely disregarding ministerial decisions and in violation of the law, they left their workshops when their 8 hours were finished."110 Sanctions were taken against aviation workers at Hispano-Suiza and Caudron who had "as early as 15 October refused to do overtime allowed by the Jacomet [arbitration] decision." Lasting less than a week, these sanctions were effective; 93 percent of the personnel was soon working forty-five hours per week. At Caudron the government authorized the dismissal of six hundred fifty workers who refused to do the legally authorized overtime. Shortly thereafter, most workers accepted the forty-five- hour week, significantly divided into five days of nine hours. Thus the weekend was conserved. It should be mentioned that this agitation against extra work came after the Munich agreements of 30 September 1938, which the PCF actively opposed; the walk-outs and work stoppages in October may indicate some PCF influence among aviation workers. Employers asserted that the unions, in a large number of cases, prevented workers from performing overtime. Before the agreements were signed, union opposition had softened somewhat, but after Munich, the syndicats became intransigent. "We can cite examples of factories where workers now refuse to do the hours of overtime that they had accepted before 1 October. In aviation, this change of attitude is public."111 The unions had agreed to work on 1 October, a Saturday, but then reneged and refused.
In light of the attempts by workers in aviation and other industries to defend the forty-hour week and the weekend-both before and after the Munich agreements-the Communist influence had only marginal importance. Workers, most of whom were not party-affiliated, fought to defend the gains of June 1936 regardless of party positions. Employers listed thirteen firms where workers refused, well before the Munich agreements, to perform overtime that had been approved by the Inspecteur du travail.112 Even when legally required to do so, aviation workers sometimes refused to work Saturdays and Sundays to recover holidays that had occurred during the working week. In May 1937, Gn"me et Rh"ne personnel nearly unanimously opposed work on Saturday and the recovery of holidays: in a referendum, 95 percent refused to work on Saturday and desired a normal weekend.113 In the week that followed Easter vacation, "certain workers refused Saturday labor, which was intended to recover the loss of worktime caused by the Monday closing."114 The Gn"me et Rh"ne management dismissed twenty-four workers who allegedly did not work on Saturday.115 In May 1938 and again in August 1938, La Vie ouvriÅ re reported workers' resistance to the end of the forty-hour week. On 1 September 1938, when international tensions were rising, the Soci"št"š d'optique et de m"šcanique de haute pr"šcision-which made instruments used in national defense-received an authorization from the government permitting five hours of overtime and a workweek of forty-five hours.116 The management established that the workday would begin at 0730 instead of 0800 and finish at 1800 instead of 1730. On Monday 5 September, at the workshops on the boulevard Davout, 59 percent of the workers disobeyed the new work schedule by arriving late and 58 percent departed early. On Tuesday, 57 percent of the workers arrived late. At the Croix Nivert shops, 36 percent arrived late on Monday, and 59 percent on Tuesday. On Wednesday, 59 to 72 percent of the work force were absent for part of the day.117 Significantly, management noted that "the great majority" of skilled workers disregarded the new schedule and lacked discipline. Thus as in Barcelona, revolts against work were not limited to the lower strata of the working class during the Popular Front. Skilled workers' disobedience "made it impossible to work normally during the overtime ordered by the prime minister." Other companies reported numerous refusals by workers to obey the legal extension of the work week. Throughout 1938 a poor "social climate" prevented intensive aircraft production, and the inferior quality and quantity of labor caused a "bottleneck" in the aviation industry.118 The threat of retaliatory strikes often prevented aviation management from firing disobedient or unnecessary laborers. CGT participation in hiring new personnel in the aviation industry made the problem of featherbedding nearly insoluble. By the beginning of 1938 many aviation firms had "a personnel larger than their needs, whereas for social reasons they were not able to lay off any worker. Output has been affected and production has fallen to half of what it could be considering the true capacity of the factories."119 In February 1938 the chief administrator (administrateur-d"šl"šgu"š) of Gn"me et Rh"ne stated that the aviation industry could double production without hiring additional workers. Usine, the employers' periodical, remarked that aviation workers "produce much less than previously but earn twice as much."120 The readiness of wage earners in aviation and other industries to defend their jobs and sources of income should not, of course, be confused with their eagerness to work in factories, as the continuing problems of output and discipline have demonstrated.
The Parisian construction industry, especially the large projects like the extension of the m"štro, the building of a stadium, and the erection of the exposition for the 1937 World's Fair, exhibited problems similar to those of the aviation and automotive industries. Yet the construction firms' smaller size may have made their struggles over the length of the working day, overtime, output, CGT control of hiring, and discipline even more violent than in other industries. As has been seen, the May and June strike movements, which began in metallurgy, quickly affected construction workers who demanded an ambitious program of public works, the forty-hour week, improved working conditions, an end to overtime, the limitation of piecework, and the abolition of the tÆ’cheronnat. Workers and their unions were particularly concerned with job security in a sector where structural and seasonal unemployment affected 23 percent of the work force in February 1936. Yet even after many demands were granted, agitation persisted. The May and June movements created a new social situation in which productivity and output dropped significantly on construction sites. At the beginning of October 1936 in a conversation with Joseph Caillaux, the president of the control commission of the World's Fair (exposition) of 1937, M. Labb"š, who was the commissioner for the exposition, noted that since the "events" of the spring, workers had lost their eagerness (ardeur) to work and had engaged in slowdown strikes (grÅ ves perl"šes).121 Labb"š doubted that the exposition could open on the scheduled date of 1 May 1937, and he appointed two CGT representatives to boost the work effort. In the second half of 1936 and in 1937, almost all firms still complained of "the insufficiency of workers' output."122 Laborers took twice as long to complete certain jobs in 1937 as they had early in 1936.123 A letter from the Minister of Commerce and Industry declared that if output between February and May 1936 had been maintained, a job that actually required 264,700 hours to complete could have been finished in only 78,710 hours.124 Piecework was effectively ended on many construction sites, and employers lamented that their personnel had lost "le go-t du travail."125 The Rapport g"šn"šral, presented by Commissioner Labb"š in 1938, declared that the exposition's most serious difficulty was "the slowing down of output," which resulted from "an impairment of the willingness, of the conscientiousness of the labor" of the building workers.126 Before May 1936 many projects were one month ahead of schedule, whereas by December 1936 delays of five months were reported. Companies that were extending the m"štro and building a stadium in the suburbs experienced similar declines in output and productivity. In October 1937 the management of the m"štro extension to the Gare d'Austerlitz contrasted "the frame of mind of 1934, when the tendency was to increase output, with the frame of mind of 1936."127 In the fall of 1936, the masons quit work early and engaged in slowdown strikes that reduced output 90 to 95 percent. Many workers increased their snack time from ten to thirty minutes.128 Output dropped approximately 37 percent and even further as "our workers began to foresee the completion of certain jobs and, consequently, layoffs." The enterprises charged with the construction of the stadium at St.-Cloud finished in March 1938 instead of July 1937, as originally planned.129 Bricklayers needed 256 hours to complete a chimney that should have taken only 123 hours.130 Employers complained that workers took longer to dress, undress, eat, go to the toilet, and take a break.
The rapid fall of productivity can be partially attributed to the climate of disobedience that reigned at the construction sites. Workers were able to defy the normal industrial chain of command without fear of reprisals. According to Usine, at the World's Fair, "no one" was "able to command, not the bosses, not the government, not the unions."131 On many construction sites at the exposition the employers' authority had disappeared, but the question of the union's authority was more complex. Although workers often disobeyed or ignored high-ranking CGT leaders, lower-ranking union delegates did exercise considerable power at the fair and at other large construction projects where they controlled both hiring and speed of production. An exposition administrator testified that "during the entire project, a day did not pass without the site being disturbed by the arrival (during working hours) of CGT officials and delegates who set up meetings, gave orders, and organized production."132 Other unions charged that the CGT monopolized the exposition and constantly violated their right to organize on other construction sites in the Paris region. In July 1936 the secretary of the Masons' Union asked his delegates to check the union cards of workers who had been in arrears for a significant time ("depuis trois assembl"šes g"šn"šrales"), implying that construction workers were reluctant to pay dues. If behind in payments, members were to be sent to the union hall before they started their jobs.133
In August, Albert Bedouce, the Socialist Minister of Public Works, wrote a warning to Blum. On a certain number of sites the contractors cannot complete their projects because of a significant decrease in workers' output. I have been informed that in some trades the decline of output stems from methodical acts by delegates. I cannot believe that they are legitimate representatives of working-class organizations. I think that under these circumstances it is indispensable to ask the CGT to intervene immediately through the representatives of the F"šd"šration du bÆ’timent so that the decline of output-which nothing can justify-does not prevent the execution of the government's plan [of public works for the unemployed]. Action is even more urgent since I have been told that employers' organizations, in order to finish work in progress, would be willing to accept contracts that limit output. This output, even if higher than presently, would be much lower than before the recent [social] legislation.134 Early in 1937, Prime Minister Blum sent his right-hand man, Jules Moch, to deal with the chaotic situation at the World's Fair, which was becoming an acute embarrassment to the CGTsupported government. In March 1937 Moch endorsed the de facto control of the CGT over many sites and "counseled hiring by the unions in order to avoid incidents."135 The Socialist government evidently believed that it would be more fruitful to work with the CGT, not against it, in the battle to finish the exposition on schedule. The PCF and the CGT were also anxious to have the fair open on its 1 May scheduled date in order not to embarrass the Popular Front. La Vie ouvriÅ re asserted that all comrades wished for the success of the fair, and R. Arrachard, the secretary general of the F"šd"šration du bÆ’timent, declared that the exposition "must be . . . and will be ready on the first of May."136 Syndicats, the anti-Communist rival of La Vie ouvriÅ re, wanted the World's Fair to be renamed the exposition de travail instead of the exposition des arts et techniques and stated that it would open on 1 May. The Communists also asserted that the construction must be accelerated and that the project must be inaugurated on its planned date.137 Writing in Humanit"š, H. Raynaud, secretary of the Union des syndicats ouvriers de la r"šgion parisienne, was certain that "the Parisian workers" were "capable of finishing the fair on the determined date" (italics in original). On 12 February the Communist journalist Paul Vaillant-Couturier assured his readers that "the exposition will open 1 May. It will be a holiday of work." In March the CGT leader, Toudic, formulated the slogan, The World's Fair is a battle of the workers and of the Popular Front against fascism and the bosses.
Yet, as in Barcelona, despite published appeals production lagged, and on 1 February 1937 the major leaders of the Popular Front gathered to address the assembled workers of the World's Fair. Blum declared, "The exposition will be the triumph of the working class, the Popular Front, and liberty. It will show that a democratic regime is superior to dictatorship. . . . The reputation of the Popular Front is at stake, and I tell you frankly that work on Saturday and Sunday is necessary."138 L"šon Jouhaux, the head of the CGT, told the crowd that "sacrifices must be made." Marcel Gitton, one of the PCF's top officials, addressed the audience: "The exposition will open 1 May, the day of the fË†te du travail. Its success will be a factor in the strengthening of the Popular Front. The fair will be a victory of thousands of workers and all the laboring masses. The enemies of the Popular Front yearn for the failure of the exposition. The workers want it to be an unprecedented success."
Regardless of the pleas and exhortations of the leaders, the exposition opened far behind schedule. The CGT refused to lengthen the forty-hour week. Thus, two or three shifts per day had to be organized, and the output of these additional shifts declined significantly for several reasons. First, the shortage of skilled laborers led to the hiring of inexperienced workers for the second and third shifts. The CGT wholeheartedly endorsed this practice and even forbade employers to utilize some of their most qualified personnel who did not belong to the union. Of the four cement workers one firm was forced to hire, only one had real experience.139 Much of the work completed by the second and third shifts was poorly executed and often had to be redone. Second, the night shift had inherent difficulties with lighting, and its abnormal schedule was typically much less productive than the day shifts. Third, the unions opposed the use of technical advances and preferred manual techniques in order to create jobs; they refused, for instance, to operate spray-painting machines.140
Although high-ranking CGT officials promised that work on Saturday and Sunday would be permitted within the framework of the forty-hour week, in practice CGT delegates at the exposition largely banned weekend work. Delegates and workers ignored pleas from both the CGT and Humanit"š that weekend work was necessary to open the fair on time. Several weeks after Blum's speech, a carpenters' delegate insisted that no work be done on Saturday and Sunday.141 The painters of the American pavilion were denied permission to work Saturday and Sunday; shortly afterward, an electric transformer was damaged, presumably to protect the right to a work-free weekend.142 According to the official report of the exposition, the union leaders were unable to "deliver" on their promises of weekend labor: "Even when an understanding [on weekend work] was reached . . . the following Saturday a counterorder, frequently inexplicable, prohibited the shifts from entering the sites."143 In addition, workers refused to recover days lost to inclement weather or holidays that occurred during the working week.144
CGT delegates often set production quotas and limited piecework. Many of the workers, hired through the CGT's bourse du travail, had little interest in improving their output. It was quite difficult to fire these wage earners because of the power of the union and the administration's fear of incidents, which sometimes did occur. When the management of the Algerian exhibit dismissed nine roofers, workers retaliated by occupying the site, despite the presence of police.145 Officials then decided to keep the dismissed laborers on the job. Although Arrachard, secretary general of the F"šd"šration du bÆ’timent, claimed that he intervened frequently so that workers would produce normally, his interventions seem to have been ineffective.146 On 13 May 1937, almost two weeks after the scheduled opening date had passed, Jules Moch told Arrachard that the "comedy had gone on long enough," and that order must be restored.147 In June 1937 Moch threatened to "go public" and tell the press that the union was responsible for the delays if work on the museums were not quickly completed. Some foreign nations attempted to employ non-French workers to finish their pavilions, but the CGT effectively opposed not only this practice but even the hiring of provincial French workers.148 The Americans wanted to finish their pavilion by 4 July, their Independence Day, and they concluded a contract with a Belgian firm to finish a metal roof because of the "impossibility of obtaining a sufficient output from French workers."149 With the agreement of the exposition's labor inspector, however, the CGT demanded the hiring of a certain number of its workers. These newly employed French laborers "have only disorganized the [construction] site and discouraged the Belgian workers by their absolute inactivity, resembling a slowdown strike." The erection of the roof took twice as much time as planned. When provincial workers were employed, Parisian unions insisted that they return to the provinces immediately after the building was finished.150
Struggles over the control of hiring, production rhythms, and weekend work produced a climate of violence at the exposition and other construction sites. The tense atmosphere is easy to understand since workers and union delegates consistently undermined the authority of employers and their foremen; moreover, many employers at the exposition headed small firms and could not afford the cost overruns that higher salaries, low productivity, and CGT control of hiring entailed. One particularly combative employer, Jules Verger, had dismissed a shop steward and had apparently ignored the collective bargaining agreement. When his firm was hit by a strike, he asserted that the fair had become a "revolutionary experiment." "Since last October , I have been fighting against the revolutionary unions. These last ten months have been marred by a thousand incidents of various kinds. The majority of my [construction] sites have been attacked and sometimes sabotaged."151 Arbitrators condemned these violations of the right to work and agreed that the chantiers of Verger and Delporte must be protected by the authorities.152 Verger, later to become a militant p"štainiste, reported that nearly finished work was sabotaged at the Pavillon des vins.
On construction sites other than Verger's, CGT members physically prevented non-union personnel from working and obstructed their legal right to work. Sometimes police were called to protect non- union personnel; certain workers even carried arms on the job.153 At a stadium construction site in St.- Cloud, a worker knifed his foreman.154 The World's Fair of 1937 opened on 24 May with much work incomplete, two and one-half months behind schedule; the CGT finally inaugurated its own pavilion, the Maison du travail, on 1 July 1937, two months late.155
Publicly, the Popular Front coalition attempted to ignore the workers' reduced productivity, violence, and struggles against work. According to the Left, the bosses were to blame for delays and production problems in the industries examined. The Communists, the CGT, and even the Socialists charged innumerable times in their publications that fascist bosses were sabotaging production to damage the Popular Front and deliver the nation to Hitler and Mussolini. Syndicats accused employers of staging work slow-downs in a "deceitful struggle" against the Popular Front.156 Humanit"š declared that Renault workers only wanted to work, and Le Populaire charged that the goal of the bosses was to slow down and sabotage production. These charges were largely polemical; the bosses and the "two hundred families"-the Radical slogan for the wealthiest families in supposed control of the French economy-were a convenient symbol. Undoubtedly some businessmen and cautious savers did export their capital, but as yet little evidence exists to sustain accusations that the French bourgeoisie, perhaps the founder of modern nationalism, willingly sabotaged its own industries for the benefit of foreign powers.
The Left's charges and its ideology of sabotage and conspiracy by the bosses or the 200 families hid the structural problems of boring, repetitive, and sometimes dangerous wage labor in a modern industrial society. Even with regard to the World's Fair, the Left continued its triumphant discourse. Significantly, the CGT's pavilion was named la maison du travail.
[It is] eminently representative of the entire conception of the French union movement. [The working class] will continue to be at home in the maison du travail. Workers from all over the world will be coming to Paris, and all the visitors will discover there a specifically working- class environment. . . . They will not be able to avoid the conclusion that a new world is being built and that a new civilization, based on work, is being created under our eyes.157 With few exceptions, the Left refused to admit that work discipline sometimes collapsed amid the new social situation created by the May and June strikes and the inauguration of the more lenient Popular Front governments. This new social environment encouraged workers' defiance of management and sometimes even of the union. It was usually not bosses but workers who refused weekend work, who were inexperienced in their jobs, who defied authority, and who often slowed production. After the war, L"šon Blum criticized workers at the exposition and in armaments for refusing overtime and decreasing productivity. He asserted that workers should have risen above a backward and egoistic patronat and, by laboring hard, set an example for the entire nation.158 Like their Barcelonan counterparts, Parisian wage earners continued to avoid workspace and struggled to lessen worktime during their Popular Front. Direct and indirect resistance persisted under the governments of the Left. Perhaps the most fundamental and difficult problems for the Popular Fronts came not from their declared enemies but from those they purportedly represented. An analysis of the Left's encounter with popular and more specifically working-class culture continues in the next chapter.
1. Letter to J. Garchery, 9 December 1936, AN, F22 396
2. Autres manquements, 4 September 1936, AR.
3. Incidents, AR. Simone Weil (La condition ouvriÅ re [Paris, 1951], p. 152) noted between 1934 and 1936 that supervisors complained of "momentarily unoccupied" female workers who met "in large numbers to gossip"; foremen feared the talk would create "indiscipline" and wanted to fine the "gossipers."
4. Note, 11 September 1936, AR.
5. R"le et comp"štence des d"šl"šgu"šs, 21 October 1936, AR; Incidents, AR.
6. Les violations, 21 October 1936, AR.
7. Incident de . . . 12 janvier 1937, AN, 91AQ16; 5 f"švrier 1937, AN, 91AQ16.
8. Les violations, AR.
9. Syndicats, 18 November 1937.
10. Autres manquements, 4 September 1936, AR.
11. Les violations, 23 September 1936, AR.
12. 9 September 1936, AR.
13. Autres manquements, 4 September 1936, AR; Note 1, Comment se pose le problÅ me, (Spring 1937?), AN, 91AQ3.
14. GrÅ ve d'ouvriers d'une fabrique de chaudiÅ res, 20 August 1936, APP 1873; Etablissements Vitrix. Sentence de M. Pontremoli, 17 April 1937, AN, 39AS1012.
15. Letter from Groupement des industriels de Poissy, 18 May 1938, AN, 39AS802.
16. Autres manquements, 4 September 1936, AR.
17. Rapport concernant le licenciement du personnel de l'atelier 125, (n.d.), AN, 91AQ15.
18. Note de service no. 21.344, 6 December 1937, AN, 91AQ16.
19. L'Intransigeant, 5 November 1938.
20. Quelques manquements, 9 September 1936, AR; Incidents, AR.
21. Note from M. Penard, 22 April 1938, AN, 91AQ65.
22. Letter to M. Thiebaud from H. Duvernoy, directeur de personnel des usines Renault, 16 July 1937, AN, 39AS836.
23. The following information is taken from S"šries de diagrammes de puissance absorb"še par les ateliers, 22 April 1938, AN, 91AQ65.
24. Freinage . . . des cadres camionettes, Freinage . . . des cadres Celta et Prima, AN, 91AQ116.
25. Chronom"štrage, 9 November 1937, AN, 91AQ65; this citation and comments are based on Difficult"šs rencontr"šes, 22 April 1938, AN, 91AQ65.
26. D"šclaration de Madame X, 14 January 1937, AN, 91AQ65.
27. Note by L., "Limitation de la production," 21 April 1938, AN, 91AQ65.
28. CGT f"šd"šration des techniciens, 27 September 1937, GIM; La Vie ouvriÅ re, 27 May 1937, and letter to GIM, 21 October 1937.
29. Notes sur les incidents survenus, 8 September 1937, GIM; italics in original. The following is based on this document and Conflit SIMCA, (n.d.), GIM.
30. Compromis d'arbitrage, 23 September 1937, GIM.
31. D"šcision arbitrale, 1 October 1937, GIM. For tensions in October, see Syndicats, 14 October 1937; on the selection of arbitrators, see Joel Colton, Compulsory Labor Arbitration in France (New York, 1951), pp. 33-50.
32. R"šsultat des "šlections des d"šl"šgu"šs ouvriers, AN, 91AQ116; see Projet de lettre ... M. Ramadier, 9 March 1938, AN, 39AS830/831, which blames trouble on a "handful of agitators."
33. Correspondance, 17 July 1936, APP 1862.
34. Atelier: Evacuation des copeaux, 30 September 1936, AN, 91AQ16. For a similar problem in the mines, see Aim"še Moutet, "La rationalisation dans les mines du nord ... l'"špreuve du front populaire," Le Mouvement social, no. 135 (April-June 1986): 90-93.
35. 30 June 1936, AR; AN, 91AQ116; La situation dans la m"štallurgie, 12 February 1937, AN, F712966.
36. Les violations, 21 October 1936, AR.
37. GrÅ ves de juin 1936, GIM; Note from Rosenblatt, 22 April 1938, AN, 91AQ65; Syndicat des industries m"šcaniques de France, 6 October 1936, AN, 39AS848.
38. Le D"šfenseur, December 1936.
39. Assembl"še g"šn"šrale des sections et cellules d'ateliers, (n.d.), AN, 91AQ16. The following is based on this document (probably the report of a management informer) and R"šunion de 28/9/36, sous- rayon communiste Renault, AN, 91AQ16.
40. Note from Penard, 22 April 1938, AN, 91AQ65.
41. Syndicat professionnel quoted in Jacques Delperri"š de Bayac, Histoire du front populaire (Paris, 1972), p. 315.
42. Les techniciens, ing"šnieurs, (n.d.), AR.
43. Letter from Syndicat professionnel des agents de maÅ’trise, AR.
44. Usine, 18 March 1937.
45. Letter to chief administrator from Syndicat professionnel des agents de maÅ’trise, techniciens, et employ"šs, AN, 91AQ15.
46. Note au sujet des effectifs, AN, 91AQ15.
47. L'arbitrage obligatoire et le problÅ me de l'autorit"š, 22 December 1936, AN, 39AS1012.
48. Notes pour la pr"šparation de l'assembl"še g"šn"šrale du 5 novembre 1937, AN, 39AS857.
49. Bulletin quotidien, L'arbitrage obligatoire, 22 December 1936, AN, 39AS1012.
50. D"šclaration de Madame X, 14 January 1937, P., 1 February 1937, AN, 91AQ65; Incidents, AN, 91AQ16; see also documents on various incidents in AN, 91AQ116.
51. SNCAN, 25 January 1939. SNA (from minutes of the comit"š de direction).
52. SNCASO, 26 April 1938, SNA (from minutes of the conseil d'administration).
53. Robert Jacomet, L'armement de la France (1936-1939) (Paris, 1945), p. 55, 251; cf. Robert Frankenstein, Le prix du r"šarmement fran"¡ais, 1935-1939 (Paris, 1982), p. 242.
54. Letter from Aci"šries et forges de Firminy, AN, 91AQ83; letter from Etablissements L. Douzille, 21 January 1939, SNA.
55. D"špart des ouvriers professionnels, 23 November 1938, AN, 91AQ31; for an earlier period see S.A.F.E., 27 December 1934, AN, 91AQ37.
56. SNCAN, "Objet: D"šplacements," 4 March 1937, SNA.
57. La situation des "štablissements, (n.a., n.d.), and El"šments de r"šponse, 31 December 1938, SHAA, Z11607, which agreed with the unknown author.
58. These assertions concerning the Courbevoie plant were seconded by an engineer and confirmed by Air Ministry investigators (Rapport du capitaine Testas, SHAA, Z12935).
59. Letter to Inspecteur g"šn"šral du travail, 13 September 1938, AN, 39AS830/831.
60. SNCASO, 9 December 1938, SNA.
61. Pierre Couturet, "Un exemple bien typique: Gn"me et Rh"ne," La R"švolution prol"štarienne, 25 July 1938; Le bolchevik de chez Gn"me-Rh"ne, June 1938, AN, F712966. A (CGT?) document complained that thirty policemen were "paid to do nothing" at Gn"me et Rh"ne (ArrË†t"š, SHAA, Z12939). 62. On demande des nationaux, June 1938, AN, F712966.
63. Couturet, "Un exemple."
64. Note 18 dec. 1936, AN, 91AQ31; Comment se pose le problÅ me, (Spring 1937?), AN, 91AQ3. 65. SNCAN, 19 October 1938, SNA.
66. M. M"štral, "L'industrie a"šronautique fran"¡aise," (March?) 1938, SHAA, Z12935; letter from Jean Coutrot, 3 March 1938, SHAA Z12935. See also Comit"š de production, 4 February 1938, SHAA, Z12946.
67. Usine, 19 February 1938; letter from Chambre syndicale, 4 April 1938, AN, 91AQ80.
68. Couturet, "Un exemple typique."
69. La Vie ouvriÅ re, 3 March 1938.
70. Couturet, "Un exemple typique"; Emmanuel Chadeau, L'industrie a"šronautique en France, 1900-1950 (Paris, 1987), p. 320.
71. La Vie ouvriÅ re, 21 July 1938.
72. C. Bonnier, "Huit mois de nationalisation," AN, 91AQ80.
73. Syndicats, 22 June 1938.
74. M. Roos, "Situation de l'industrie a"šronautique," 1937, SHAA, Z11606.
75. See Rendement, (n.a., n.d.), SHAA, Z11507; R"šponse au questionnaire du comit"š de contr"le financier, 16 December 1937, SHAA Z12936. Note pour M. le ministre de l'air, 26 November 1937, SHAA Z12936 claimed that nationalization had not adversely affected output; an unnamed and undated document (ArrË†t"š d'extension de la convention nationale de l'aviation, SHAA, Z12939) asserted the workers and delegates produced normally.
76. Chadeau, L'industrie a"šronautique, p. 320.
77. Ibid., pp. 242-44.
78. Conseil d'administration, chambre syndicale de constructeurs, 17 March 1938, AN, 91AQ80; Frankenstein, R"šarmement, p. 278.
79. D"špart and Paye aux piÅ ces, 23 November 1938, AN, 91AQ31.
80. Usine, 9 June 1938.
81. La situation des "štablissements, SHAA, Z11607.
82. M. M"štral, "L'industrie a"šronautique," (March?) 1938, SHAA, Z12935.
83. B. Rouz"š, letter to Guy La Chambre, 7 March 1938, SHAA, Z12936.
84. Rapport du capitaine Testas, (January?) 1939, SHAA, Z12935.
85. The following information is derived from the Lamoureux file, SHAA, Z12935.
86. L'industrie des cellules, (n.d.), SHAA, Z12937.
87. Chadeau, L'industrie a"šronautique, p. 321.
88. Comit"š du mat"šriel, 20 May 1938, SHAA, Z12946.
89. M"štral, "L'industrie a"šronautique," March 1938, SHAA, Z12935. For specific information on worktime in Germany, see "La dur"še effective du travail en Allemagne," Revue internationale du travail, no. 3 (March 1939): 393-406.
90. Pomaret (ministre du travail) quoted by Elisabeth du Reau, "L'am"šnagement de la loi instituant la semaine de quarante heures," in Edouard Daladier: Chef du gouvernement, ed. Ren"š R"šmond and Janine Bourdin (Paris, 1977), p. 145.
91. La situation des "štablissements, SHAA Z11607; Bulletin quotidien, l'arbitrage obligatoire, 22 December 1936, AN, 39AS1012.
92. Roos, "La situation," 1937, SHAA, Z11606.
93. Comit"š de production, 4 February 1938, SHAA, Z12946.
94. Comit"š du mat"šriel, 15 March 1938, SHAA, Z12946; Comit"š de production, 22 June 1938, SHAA, Z12946.
95. Les causes, 13 September 1938, in Les insuffisances actuelles de la production a"šronautique, SHAA, Z11606.
96. Roos, "La situation," 1937, SHAA, Z11606.
97. Croizat quoted by Reau, "L'am"šnagement," p. 136.
98. Jacomet, L'armement, p. 260.
99. Constat, 10 March 1937 (signed by hussier), and D"šgÆ’ts commis et liste du mat"šriel, outillage et matiÅ res vol"šs ou d"št"šrior"šs, 22 April 1938, AN, 91AQ115.
100. Letter from Syndicat g"šn"šral de la construction "šlectrique, 13 April 1938, GIM.
101. Etat des d"špr"šdations, disparitions, 24 April 1938, AN, 91AQ16; letter to Doyen des juges d'instruction, AN, 91AQ16.
102. Georges Lefranc, Histoire du front populaire (Paris, 1974), p. 274; Delperri"š de Bayac, Histoire du front populaire, p. 449; Alfred Sauvy, ed., Histoire "šconomique de la France entre les deux guerres (Paris, 1972), 2:276. 103. Reau, "L'am"šnagement," p. 133; see also Frankenstein, R"šarmement, p. 277.
104. SNCASE, 29 March 1938, SNA. See Chadeau (L'industrie a"šronautique, p. 321), which makes a distinction between motoristes, who made airplane engines and wanted more worktime, and avionneurs, who made plane bodies and became dissatisfied with the shortened workweek only later in the year; see also Frankenstein, R"šarmement, pp. 277-78.
105. Note de la chambre syndicale des industries a"šronautiques remise ... M. le ministre du travail, 31 March 1938, AN, 91AQ80; see also Chadeau, L'industrie a"šronautique, pp. 339-40.
106. Note, 8 July 1938, AN, 91AQ80.
107. Rapport et annexes sur la production a"šronautique, SHAA, Z11606; Comit"š du mat"šriel, 15 March 1938, SHAA Z12946; Jean-Charles Asselain, "Une erreur de politique "šconomique: la loi de quarante heures de 1936," Revue "šconomique, no. 4 (July 1974): 688-90. See also Usine, 24 November 1938; letter from Louis Masson, 10 May 1937, AN, 39AS802. On Blum, see Lefranc, Histoire du front populaire, pp. 211-12.
108. Syndicats, 25 February 1937; La Vie ouvriÅ re, 6 May 1937, on railroad workers who demanded the 5x 8 and opposed the 6x 6 : 40; on department- store employees' preference for the 5x 8 over 6x 6 : 40, see Annie Fourcaut, Femmes ... l'usine en France dans l'entre-deux-guerres (Paris, 1982) p. 220.
109. Pr"šparation du congrÅ s de la f"šd"šration des m"štaux, AN, F712966.
110. The following is taken from Usine, 10 October 1938; La Journ"še industrielle, 19-26 October 1938.
111. Les heures suppl"šmentaires pour la d"šfense nationale, 17 October 1938, AN, 39AS974-975.
112. Refus d'effectuer les heures autoris"šes, 19 March 1938, GIM. Interestingly enough, eight of thirteen incidents occurred during la belle saison-May, June, and July. On recovery, SNCAN, procÅ s- verbal, Conseil d'administration, 24 December 1936, SNA.
113. Syndicats, 13 May 1937.
114. Circulaire aux inspecteurs du travail, (n.d.), AN, 91AQ64.
115. La Vie ouvriÅ re, 23 June 1938.
116. The following information is from a letter to the ministre du travail, 6 September 1938 and Note de service no. 210, 2 September 1938, AN, 39AS830/831. This firm's history of labor conflict included strikes in June 1926, January 1930, and April 1938. On 25 March 1937 La Vie ouvriÅ re charged that the "fascist" executives of Optique et pr"šcision at Levallois believed themselves "authorized to watch workers day and night."
117. Letter from Soci"št"š des magn"štos R. B. au ministre du travail, 7 September 1938, AN, 39AS830/831.
118. J. Truelle, "La production a"šronautique militaire fran"¡aise jusqu'en juin 1940," Revue d'histoire de la deuxiÅ me guerre mondiale, no. 73 (January 1969): 90.
119. Note sur la crise de l'a"šronautique fran"¡aise, AN, 91AQ80.
120. Usine, 17 February and 13 January 1938.
121. Commission permanente, 2 October 1936, AN, CE.
122. Ibid., 11 June 1937.
123. Comit"š de contentieux, 19 June 1939, Contentieux, 35, AN, CE.
124. Letter from ministÅ re du commerce et de l'industrie, 6 February 1941, Contentieux, 34, AN, CE.
125. Rapport by B., (n.d.), Contentieux, 34, AN, CE.
126. Edmond Labb"š, Rapport g"šn"šral (Paris, 1938), 2:68. Labb"š, frustrated by workers' strikes and "strolls into the city," had threatened to resign but was dissuaded by President Lebrun (Lefranc, Histoire du front populaire, p. 240).
127. Comit"š de direction, AN, 89AQ2025.
128. Entreprises de grands travaux, May 1938, AN, 89AQ2026.
129. Conseil d'"štat: section du contentieux, letter of 1946, Contentieux, 35, AN, CE.
130. Comit"š de contentieux, 19 June 1939, Contentieux, 35, AN, CE.
131. Usine, 6 May 1937.
132. Letter from administrator, 21 April 1939, Contentieux, 40, AN, CE.
133. R"šunion organis"še par le syndicat des ma"¡ons et cimentiers d'art, 19 July 1936, AN, F713652.
134. Ministre des travaux publics ... M. le pr"šsident du conseil, 21 August 1936, AN, F60639.
135. Commission tripartite, 11 March 1937, AN, CE. On the relations between the Blum government and the CGT, see Bernard Georges, "La CGT et le gouvernement Blum," Le Mouvement social, no. 54 (January-March 1966): 67.
136. La Vie ouvriÅ re, 18 February 1937; original italics.
137. Syndicats, 18 January 1937; Humanit"š, 12 August 1936.
138. Blum quoted in Delperri"š de Bayac, Histoire du front populaire, p. 368.
139. Rapport des "štablissements Cabirol, 19 April 1939, Contentieux, 40, AN, CE.
140. Labb"š, Rapport, 1:80.
141. R"šunion organis"še par les ouvriers du bÆ’timent ... Clichy, 23 February 1937, AN, F712966.
142. Letter to Labb"š, 3 July 1937, Contentieux, 38, AN, CE.
143. Labb"š, Rapport, 2:67. The workers of the m"štro extension project also refused weekend work (AN, 89AQ2025).
144. Letter from Soci"št"š de Canal et Schuhl, 6 July 1942, Contentieux, 35, AN, CE; Usine, 22 April 1937.
145. Rapport by B., (n.d.), Contentieux, 34, AN, CE; Comit"š de contentieux, 20 July 1939, Contentieux, 41, AN, CE.
146. La Vie ouvriÅ re, 30 March 1939.
147. Commission tripartite, 13 May 1937, AN, CE.
148. Note des ing"šnieurs-constructeurs, (n.d.), Contentieux, 37; letter from administrator, 21 April 1939, Contentieux, 40, AN, CE.
149. The following is from note, (n.d.), Contentieux, 37, AN, CE.
150. Assembl"še g"šn"šrale des charpentiers en bois, 25 February 1937, AN, F712966.
151. Discours prononc"š par M. Jules Verger, 11 August 1937, AN, 39AS843.
152. Compte-rendu et d"šcisions d'arbitrage, 6 August 1937, in Communication des "štablissements Verger et Delaporte, BN.
153. Commission tripartite, 29 April 1937; letter to Labb"š, 3 July 1937, Contentieux, 38, AN, CE.
154. Letter from Soci"št"š de Canal et Schuhl, 6 July 1942, Contentieux, 35, AN, CE.
155. Syndicats, 1 July 1937, celebrated the occasion: "A l'exposition 1937 l'"šdifice grandiose "šlev"š par la CGT ... la gloire du travail a "št"š inaugur"š."
156. Syndicats, 27 November 1936, 24 June 1937; Humanit"š, 14 April 1938; Le Populaire, 3 April 1937. For a recent repetition of these accusations, see BenoÅ’t Frachon, Pour la CGT: M"šmoires de lutte, 1902- 1939 (Paris 1981), p. 198.
157. Le Peuple, 5 July 1937.
158. L"šon Blum, A l'"šchelle humaine (Paris, 1945), pp. 117-19; see also Joel Colton, L"šon Blum: Humanist in Politics (Cambridge, 1966), p. 171.
12. The Problems of Unemployment and Leisure
Publicly and officially, both Popular Fronts fought not only against workers' resistances but against licentious popular culture as well. Both leftist coalitions used their own resources and those of the state to solve what they considered the problems of unemployment and leisure. Unlike its Spanish counterpart, which was engaged in a civil war, the French Left was joined by some of its right-wing opponents who also wished to civilize, domesticate, and curb the idleness, drinking, gaming, and smoking of the workers. To replace these practices, both the French Left and Right attempted to promote new desires and new consumerist needs, while struggling against workers' indifference to production.
In the industries examined, the French Left did put one important part of its productivist ideology into practice: employment of the jobless. As in Barcelona, the desire to share worktime was deeply rooted among many Parisian workers, who continued to initiate strikes to defend the jobs of colleagues who had been dismissed. Because of the genuinely popular effort to share employment, the payrolls of the exposition increased from 5,000 workers in December 1936 to 24,800 at the end of April 1937. Renault and the aviation firms in the Paris area added literally thousands of new workers. Despite these additions, the World's Fair opened considerably behind schedule, productivity at Renault did not improve, and airplane production was sluggish. The Left nevertheless continued to assert that the unemployed wanted only to work. More accurately, the unemployed had less desire to labor in factories than need of jobs, or more precisely, steady incomes. Some industrialists asserted that hiring the jobless did more economic harm than good: in May 1936 the Third Employers' Conference on Apprenticeship declared that in 1933 sugar producers had hired 4,100 unemployed workers and that their labor was characterized by low productivity, "inaptitude" for work, and high turnover.1 In addition, certain of the newly engaged demonstrated little "ardor for their work" and became "elements of discord and agitation in the factories." At construction sites throughout the Paris region, workers deliberately slowed their pace as the projects approached completion in order to receive an income for a longer period. At one project, CGT delegates opposed the hiring of qualified workers from other construction sites so that their own workers could take turns sharing unemployment benefits.2 As in Spain, the Left's discourse on unemployment masked the reality of a situation in which many workers, both employed and unemployed, often wanted a source of income more than they desired to produce in jobs from which they derived little satisfaction or social prestige.
Throughout the Popular Front, officials in the Ministry of Labor lamented the lack of discipline among the jobless. A naval engineer working in this ministry concluded that employed, skilled workers had a "physical endurance" and an "eagerness to work" that were "generally much greater" than those of the unemployed.3 On 1 July 1936 sanctions were established to encourage the unemployed to complete their reeducation.4 The authorities wanted to reduce the propensity of the jobless to abandon training centers in spring and summer, a phenomenon that paralleled the increase in strikes by the employed during the same seasons. The labor committee believed that "it seems absolutely necessary to have a wide range of punishments at our disposal" to reduce "indiscipline." Even when the unemployed completed their training, they were too few in number and the quality of their work was often deficient. According to the Comit"š de d"šcentralisation industrielle, the forty- hour week had created the need for fifteen thousand additional mechanics, in part because the skilled were leaving the shop floor for desk jobs or promotions to supervisory positions.5 The newly trained lacked dexterity and quickness and were, of course, less familiar with machinery.6 Some managers claimed that the unemployed who had been retrained worked not like skilled workers but rather like the unskilled.7 The labor ministry admitted that even after three months of instruction, an unemployed worker was unable "to produce the same number of pieces as a skilled worker" and could continue to receive unemployment insurance.8 Employers and government officials alike generally considered retraining programs to be failures.
To further complicate matters, a serious struggle between employers and the CGT arose over the reeducation of the unemployed. Industrialists charged that the jobless who were being trained in the centers of the Syndicat des m"štaux (a CGT union) were unconcerned with productivity. Even though these workers sincerely believed that they were professionals, "they were absolutely incapable of completing their work in a normal length of time."9 Therefore, they could be hired only as semiskilled personnel (ouvriers sp"šcialis"šs). According to employers, the CGT school was producing fitters (ajusteurs) for aviation plants, "who are only, in truth, semiskilled (manouvres sp"šcialis"šs) whose training is relatively limited." Industrialists criticized the government for promoting the CGT center and charged that the administration "facilitates the infiltration (noyautage) of firms by the Communist Syndicat des m"štaux." Also, industrialists feared even lower productivity if the union took complete control of hiring and firing. To combat the union's influence, employers wanted to promote their own reeducation centers and to expand them beyond the size of the CGT's program. Employers thought that companies "should become aware of the need to favor workers" who had been retrained in their own centers. Throughout the Popular Front the Left continued to demand the employment of the jobless not only to increase consumption but also to modernize and rationalize the infrastructure of work and leisure in Paris and its suburbs. The unions and the leftist parties lobbied for a vast campaign of public works and urbanization. The PCF called for the construction of day-care centers, stadiums, and bathing and showering facilities.10 It argued that projects must be built rapidly to give work to the jobless. Humanit"š praised the accomplishments of PCF municipalities that provided health facilities and social assistance, and it stressed Communists' role as "doers" (r"šalisateurs). Syndicats, the CGT review, demanded similar types of projects, and it lauded the work of the Socialist mayor of Suresnes, Henri Sellier, who organized his municipality "rationally," improved health and safety conditions, and built schools.11 In addition, Syndicats esteemed the work of Tony Garnier, the modern architect who built the city hall or, as it was called, usine municipale for the Socialist government of Boulogne-Billancourt, where Renault and other major metallurgical firms were located. Thus, unlike its Spanish counterpart, the French Left was able to realize certain reforms within the framework of capitalism and without revolution.
Leftist organizations lauded the modern and progressive urbanism that would replace old residential areas where inadequate housing and unhealthy sanitary conditions promoted high rates of tuberculosis. Humanit"š complained that the destruction of the traditional quartiers came "belatedly," and the PCF newspaper desired to improve traffic circulation at the expense of the picturesque.12 It did not "lose hope that one day skyscrapers which could compete in height with those of New York, would be erected" in Paris. The anti-Communist Syndicats joined a dissident Communist, Boris Souvarine, who wholeheartedly endorsed Le Corbusier's ville radieuse and wanted to update Parisian roads for automobiles.13 The F"šd"šration du bÆ’timent (CGT) also approved Le Corbusier's Pavilion of New Times at the World's Fair of 1937, where the renowned Swiss architect offered "modern civilization the housing that it merits."14 The progressive architect designed a ville radieuse from which workers could "joyously" commute to their factories, a neo-Saint-Simonian city of high rises that was to be inhabited by producers and was characterized by a "stark division between work and play."15 Toudic, secretary of the regional committee of the Syndicat du bÆ’timent, admired Le Corbusier's film, Les bÆ’tisseurs, praised concrete structures, and believed that the buildings erected by Communist and Socialist municipalities combined both beauty and utility.16
Members of the Popular Front frequently appealed for the construction of HBM, which often took the form of high-rise apartments for workers in the suburbs. From 1928 to 1933 France built more low-cost housing than ever before, and by 1936 eighteen thousand HBM housed approximately one hundred thousand people in Paris.17 Because of the economic crisis and consequent joblessness, the PCF demanded a continued effort to build HBM, which, it claimed, had been particularly beneficial for workers by providing them employment and shelter.18 Anti-Communist CGT militants praised Baron Haussmann's fight against slums during the Second Empire and demanded the building of HBM to provide work for the unemployed.
The modern urbanism advocated and adopted by the Left emphasized increased mobility and expanded circulation. In this sense, the Left's policies followed the tradition of Haussmann, who had also improved mobility and traffic circulation. Communists, Socialists, and c"šg"štistes campaigned for large public works projects to transport people more rapidly around the Paris region. Planners such as Le Corbusier and Lur"¡at, who were employed by the Left, stressed the advantages of a highly developed system of roads for automobiles. In 1925 Le Corbusier had identified the health of the city with its capacity for movement: "The city that achieves speed achieves success."19 The architect saw himself bringing order and mobility to the city, as Haussmann had. To fight against unemployment, Syndicats advocated "a plan of roads to facilitate the circulation of Parisians in and around their city."20 Union activists criticized the government for building only one highway when five were needed, and they asserted that great expressways with their own police were necessary to solve "the problem of circulation." La Vie ouvriÅ re believed that improved circulation saved lives and that "the builder of roads" was "the bringer of health."21 According to the militants, the urbanist should illuminate the slums and move traffic through the city. The vision of the pro-Communist activists resembled in some ways that of Louis Renault and other capitalists who also urged "beautiful roads" for automobiles and better circulation in the Paris region.22
In addition to highway construction, the partners of the Popular Front recommended improvements in public transportation. The Communists, in particular, advised that the costs of traveling to and from work be substantially reduced; Humanit"š attacked the anarchy of suburban transportation.23 The PCF insisted on the extension of the m"štro into the outskirts of Paris and on 22 January 1937 celebrated the inauguration of the m"štro station of Plaisance. It argued that buses must replace tramways since the latter did not always get workers to their jobs on time.
The Left's vision of the city contained four distinct, but interconnected, urban spaces: work, housing, transportation, and leisure. Work was, of course, the most important space, by which the others were defined. Housing was to be clean, healthy, and inexpensive. According to Le Corbusier, it should be mass-produced, like any other machine-made object. Housing and work were to be linked by transportation, preferably that of the automobile, supplemented by the m"štro and buses. Circulation had to be improved so that workers could efficiently commute from housing to work, from apartment to factory. The final space was devoted to leisure. Parks, recreation areas, tourist facilities, swimming pools, sporting fields, and stadiums were all clearly separated from work. Leisure was defined in opposition to work. The urbanism of the Left reproduced spatially the separation between work and play that is characteristic of industrial civilization.
Play meant leisure, the principal growth industry of the Popular Front and one of the fastest growing sectors of the twentieth century. The mass leisure pioneered by the French Popular Front was a clear indication of an economy that was capable of generating and partially satisfying new needs. The terms, leisure (loisir) and spare-time activities (loisirs), are themselves significant because they reflected fundamental changes in social attitudes. In the nineteenth century Paul Lafargue, the French socialist leader and son-in-law of Karl Marx, spoke and wrote of le droit ... la paresse; however, in the twentieth century leaders of working-class organizations never mentioned paresse, idleness, or laziness. Blum argued that "leisure is not laziness, it is rest after work."24 The Left urged a shorter working week both to provide more jobs for the unemployed and to promote new spare-time activities that it made an intense effort to organize.
Before and especially during the Popular Front, the Left attempted to dominate loisirs and to reduce management's role in the organization of spare-time activities. In the nineteenth century, French employers had often provided libraries, leisure facilities, and even theater space for their personnel; stadiums were frequently named after wealthy entrepreneurs. Before World War I, Catholics had sponsored sporting and gymnastic associations.25 After the Great War Catholics' and employers' control of leisure activity was increasingly challenged by the organized Left. Both sides realized that sports were a relatively easy way to mobilize and influence adolescents. Political parties, unions, and patrons fought to dominate sporting activities to demonstrate their symbolic and real control of youth. The intense battles between the employers and the CGT during the interwar period indicated the development of a growing social need.
With regard to leisure activities, a number of Parisian metallurgical industrialists followed an antirevolutionary strategy, not based on the clergy as was often the case in Barcelona, but on secular social works. By 1936, five thousand French summer camps-many of which were supported by industrialists-received one hundred thousand urban youth from humble backgrounds.26 During the Popular Front, BenoÅ’t Frachon, a leader of the pro-Communist tendency in the CGT, acknowledged that "there is not one aspect of the everyday life of the workers that has escaped the care of the management."27 In this case, Frachon's assertion seems plausible, since a study undertaken in 1935 demonstrated that of eighty-five factories surveyed, eighty had sporting facilities.28 Nonetheless, according to Frachon, workers often distrusted employers' initiatives, and he advocated that the union capture control over the organization of leisure activities from industrialists.
Following their electoral victory, the elements of the Popular Front increased their efforts for workers' sporting and leisure activities. Blum established a new chair on the history of work and leisure at the Paris law school; he founded a subministry of "sports et loisirs," despite the incomprehension and opposition of many bourgeois who persisted in calling the new post "le ministÅ re de la paresse" and who had not yet realized the industrial or commercial potential of this growing new sector.29 The extreme Right declared that the worker did not possess the "inalienable right to dress badly, to shout the Internationale when a Rolls passed, and to litter everywhere."30 Disregarding the scorn, Blum appointed L"šo Lagrange as "undersecretary of state for the organization of spare-time activities and sports," and the thirty-six-year-old Socialist deputy began to democratize sports by instituting "islands of leisure" throughout the nation.31 His new position was under the authority of the Ministry of Public Health, an indication that the Popular Front designed leisure to improve the workers' health or, in the terminology of the time, "the race." Paid vacations were also to ameliorate the "physical condition of workers."32
In fact the Left, like the Right, was determined to civilize the workers and to wage war on licentious popular culture. Lagrange argued that the working class had known how to win more leisure but now must learn how to use it.33 Humanit"š too opposed paresse and insisted upon loisirs intelligents.34 As part of this intelligent leisure, union activists wanted workers to reduce their intake of alcoholic beverages. La Vie ouvriÅ re declared that "we are capable of organizing our days of rest," and it warned workers against "frequenting bars and losing the inclination to work." The CGT's newly established Tourist Bureau urged "healthy utilization" of leisure to permit workers to achieve "well-being and culture."35 The head of the CGT's educational program, which collaborated with the Tourist Bureau, advocated "universities of work"-supported by the government-to train workers how to control the productive forces.36 According to Syndicats, the fears of those who had predicted "the perils of idleness" had been alleviated by the "organization of spare-time activities" (organisation des loisirs) that the CGT had undertaken. Non-Communist union militants asserted that a shorter working week would permit male workers to spend more time with their families.
The unions nourished the growth of tourist traffic. Emilie and Georges Lefranc, a married team of trade-union intellectuals and educators, recommended that all workers "try to go away" during their annual paid vacations, and they saw the same need to escape after a normal workday: "Workers who have finished their working day . . . want a change of place, to forget their job, and to flee from everything that reminds them of it."37 Sunday should become the "day of departure." The Lefrancs advocated leisure as relief from boring work and an ugly urban environment, which lacked air and light: "Leisure must permit [workers] to regain the balance broken by our civilization." Leftist theoreticians of leisure attempted to solve the problem of loisirs by defining leisure activities as compensation for the alienating conditions at work and in the city.
The Lefrancs also encouraged sporting activities, physical sports that must eliminate the "cult of the star" and supplement intellectual activity. Socialists believed sports to be the key element of leisure activities: "Physical exercise-controlled and channeled naturally-compensates wonderfully for a sedentary life and overspecialization at the workplace."38 During the Popular Front the tremendous growth of the F"šd"šration sportive et gymnique du travail, a new organization of Socialist and Communist sports enthusiasts, mirrored the expansion of the unions.39 In 1935 it had 732 clubs and 42,706 members; by 1938 it possessed 1,687 clubs and 102,694 members. Football was undoubtedly a major activity in many workers' clubs. Originally used to train a nineteenth-century elite, the sport became increasingly popular among workers in the Paris region between the wars.
As early as the 1920s the Communists were keenly interested in organizing the sporting activities of wage earners; during the Popular Front they demanded a billion francs to promote this form of leisure activity.40 The PCF urged the construction of gymnasiums, stadiums, swimming pools, and athletic fields. Sports were a means of rational development, and many Communists argued-as did certain syndicalists and industrialists-that an expansion of sporting activities could produce a physical well- being that would increase workers' productivity. Communists gave considerable attention to their party's sporting events, which sometimes received more coverage in their press than did major strikes. Anti-Communist CGT militants feared that the PCF and employers would monopolize workers' leisure. They believed that the "application of the forty-hour week and paid vacations compels us to organize spare-time activities" and advised their fellow activists to anticipate the actions of employers by creating libraries, theaters, outings, and sporting games. Leisure activities that the bosses organized had only one goal-to prevent workers from thinking, a charge that Communists had voiced in the 1920s and 1930s. When the forty-hour week was granted to clerks, Syndicats noted, "Today, joy fills their hearts. . . . Tomorrow, the problem of the organization of spare-time activities will be posed."41 Working-class organizations and the Popular Front governments endorsed and planned the flight of workers from their workplaces and urban homes into specialized leisure spaces. In 1936 Lagrange approved 253 projects for the construction of stadiums, in addition to plans for numerous athletic fields.42 By the end of 1937, 400 projects were in progress. It must be recalled that many traditional places where workers spent their free time had already been destroyed by 1936. Before the Popular Front and the organization of mass tourism, many Paris workers had spent their days off in the nearby countryside where they fished in the Seine or the Marne or passed their time in rural bistros. By 1936 the waters of the Seine and the Marne were polluted, and many of the suburbs had lost their rustic flavor. At Boulogne-Billancourt, home of Renault, "there are now gray, thick walls where before, during holidays, working-class families frolicked on the grass under the poplars."43 The Socialist government, the CGT, and the PCF began to organize excursions from urban to increasingly distant vacation sites. The government introduced special price reductions for transportation-called popular or Lagrange tickets-to move workers from their homes to leisure areas such as the French Riviera. In 1936, 600,000 used Lagrange tickets, 1,200,000 in 1937, and nearly as many in 1938.44 Over 100,000 traveled to the Riviera in the winter, but even more took advantage of the reduced fares to visit their relatives in the countryside.45
Lagrange's office also planned special trains: Paris-Nice, Paris-Toulouse and cruises to Corsica, Algeria, and even Barcelona.46 Likewise, the union initiated tourisme CGT, its official tourist agency, coordinating activities from ski trips to North African cruises. The CGT established a Vacations for All organization, which merged with the Tourist Bureau in December 1937. The agency booked trips at reduced prices, reserved rooms at modest hotels, and established campgrounds. It also created a Vacations-Savings plan, which encouraged workers to put aside a small sum every week and accumulate enough for holidays. According to the union, its savings plan would alter the habits of certain workers: "They will drink perhaps fewer ap"šritifs and smoke fewer cigarettes, but, anyway, that will not be so bad."47 The CGT's bureau offered package deals on credit ("buy now, pay later").48 Transforming the mythological conspirators of anti-Communist literature, the Left developed a new identity-that of travel agents. The Communists frequently propagated the slogan, The Riviera for all, and urged the expansion of mass tourism into all provinces. The PCF deputy from Nice instituted a bus service from Paris to the C"te d'Azur.49 Other more politically neutral organizations also participated in the leisure boom. Catholic groups set up their own youth hostels to compete with the lay hostels, which, Catholics objected, mixed the sexes and encouraged dangerous opinions. In 1938 new travel agencies-forerunners of today's low-budget charter companies-began to cater to a more popular clientele to whom it offered moderately priced package deals. Still, only a minority of workers were able to take advantage of the discounts and special opportunities. In 1936 employed Parisian workers spent three times more on laundry than on vacations and trips.50
During the 1930s and especially during the Popular Front, certain leisure activities encouraged the mixing of young people from various backgrounds.51 Lagrange actively promoted the youth hostel movement, but it attracted many more teachers than workers. In 1935, 90 youth hostels provided 10,000 overnight stays. In 1936, the numbers rose to 229 hostels and 26,800 nights. Participation in scouting among the more modest sections of the population also grew significantly during the Popular Front. Donning uniforms, waving banners, and marching in processions tended to level social differences-at least momentarily-among scouts. In 1935, 80,000 were involved, by 1939, 108,000. Of the three major scouting groups, Catholic, Protestant, and secular, the last experienced by far the most rapid growth. Perhaps many parents with few means encouraged their children to join so the adults could spend their vacations by themselves. Lagrange and Jean Zay, the education minister in the Blum government, collaborated in bringing sports into public schools and universities.52 By the fall of 1937, over 100,000 popular-sporting diplomas, which tested competence in various activities, had been issued.
The Popular Front offered young people the chance to learn to fly a plane. The Minister of Aviation, Pierre Cot, who had the cooperation of Lagrange, promoted Popular Aviation and air clubs that aimed to teach flying to youngsters from various social backgrounds. In September 1937 four thousand young delegates representing ten thousand club members attended the first fË†te of popular aviation at Vincennes. The clubs trained four thousand new pilots from all over the nation.53 The PCF took a prominent role in publicizing and recruiting for Popular Aviation and enthusiastically declared that "a healthy and strong youth" was being created. Yet important government officials had a different idea. They complained of the low intellectual level and poor physical condition of the new recruits, boys and, after 1936, girls between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one. According to their report, many of these youngsters naively assumed that their training in Aviation populaire would enable them to pursue careers as military pilots. But only 50 percent passed a simple written examination, and their responses shocked the examiners: the Marseillaise was the wife of the president of the republic, the Baltic a river, the Versailles treaty an eighteenth-century document, and Lyon north of Paris. Physical tests were no more positive.
Furthermore, aviation clubs were rife with generational and class conflicts. The new sections of Popular Aviation merged with the established A"šro-clubs, which had an older and wealthier membership. The elite in the A"šro-clubs had invested considerable resources in the organizations and did not welcome the poorer, less educated newcomers.54 Every section experienced tensions; when peace reigned it was usually because the new members followed the "better trained" leaders of the old A"šro-clubs. In 1938 government officials concluded that Aviation populaire had not been worth the financial effort-each pilot produced had cost 750,000 francs. Growing international tension increased the need for trained aircraft personnel and led to the replacement of Popular Aviation by Premilitary Aviation. The Popular Front's desire to strengthen French youth and democratize flight quickly turned in a more militaristic direction, but it nevertheless prefigured the rise of a mass airline industry in the 1960s.
In addition to flying, other new rights appeared during the Popular Front as the CGT claimed "le droit ... la neige" or the right to bring the city to the mountains: "Winter sports have become a necessity. . . . After vacations at the ocean, why not ski vacations?"55 During the Christmas season of 1936, fifty thousand persons (approximately one-fourth of all French skiers) left Paris for the snow; Lagrange himself, equipped with skis, inaugurated a youth hostel in the mountains. Special weekend tickets gave workers a chance to ski in Auvergne. The government attempted to lower the prices for ski rentals and hotels, to open the sport to less privileged individuals. Rumors concerning these new rights spread among some metallurgical workers who believed (it appears wrongly) that they could take an extra day of paid vacation for every month they worked.56 According to a union leader, SIMCA workers sincerely thought that they were allowed to extend their vacations from 23 to 30 August. When they took the extra week, management fired them.
The mass tourism and leisure generalized by the Popular Front inaugurated the era of the weekend and the vacation. On 17 August 1936 Humanit"š presented both a photograph of Paris deserted, showing the place de la Concorde with neither automobiles nor pedestrians, and an article entitled, "Murderous Day," which confirmed that on the highways six people had been killed and thirty injured in traffic accidents.57 Overcrowding became an issue during the summer months as urban dwellers rushed to escape from their homes and workplaces. Workers' publications demanded that new roads be constructed to ease the difficulties of tourist travel and complained that traffic jams had discouraged many from traveling on Sunday, the chosen day of departure; union militants complained that the "rush of bathers," which "jammed the majority of beaches," created an "intolerable crush." Overcrowding and inflated prices discouraged workers from visiting cities such as Nice in August. Employers too desired paid vacations without traffic jams.58 A law passed in November 1938 attempted to correct the "disorder" of vacation scheduling that risked harming national production. The legislation stipulated, apparently without much success, that firms in the same industry stagger paid vacations.
In factories the more or less traditional struggle-both official and unofficial-over working on Monday was supplemented by new conflicts over work on Saturday. As has been seen, many workers refused to accept work on weekends, preventing employers from organizing shifts and thereby, according to one prominent Socialist, diminishing weekly production.59 The automobile workers of SIMCA at Nanterre "considered that their two days of rest were an invaluable gain" and did not wish to work four days one week and six days another.60 Employers at Saint-Denis complained about the difficulties of unloading trains on Saturdays and refused to pay for storage.61 In 1937 strikes, demonstrating that Holy Saturday was becoming as revered as Holy Monday, erupted in six metallurgical firms over working Saturday to recover Easter Monday. Employers reported that the Compagnie "šlectro-m"šcanique at Bourget-which fulfilled contracts for the Navy-decided to recover Easter Monday on Saturday 3 April with the approval of the Inspection du travail; however 437 of its 472 workers did not appear.62 Vouret et fils in Le Bourget claimed that a "cell of agitators" reneged on a previous agreement to recover Easter Monday on Saturday 3 April, with the result that 105 of its 136 workers refused to compensate for lost worktime. The firm insisted that its supervisory personnel, "tired of seeing its authority flouted, shares our point of view."63 Workers' propensity to fight for a free weekend was encouraged by very popular weekend tickets, issued to such places as the seashore and picturesque villages as well as ski resorts.
The scheduling of paid vacations became another arena of struggle. As has been mentioned, union activists advised the staggering of vacations, which the Minister of Labor also advocated, so that the tourist industry could expand and workers could enjoy their holidays as comfortably as the bourgeois did. The president of the Metallurgical Employers' Association (GIM) noted "the difficulties that have arisen inside the firms especially because of workers' demands about scheduling their vacations."64 Conflicts over vacation dates arose because of the different motivations of the workers, management, and the unions. Individually, the workers wanted to choose their dates. Summer was particularly desirable not only for its sun and warmth but also because children were out of school. Single workers might favor summer for various reasons, including acquiring a good tan, an increasingly popular symbol of health and leisure. The unions often supported the workers' preference, though at times the CGT opposed the complete shutting down of factories during one or two weeks in the summer; the union objected to the forced unemployment of workers who did not possess the minimum six- months' seniority to be eligible for vacation. On the other side, managers' main priority was to coordinate vacations with market conditions and their suppliers. Employers also wanted to avoid the complications of organizing shifts and subsequent fights over vacation dates.
Middle-class skeptics remained unpersuaded by the Left's discourse on leisure, believing that the workers had become idle and were wasting time.65 The employers feared that increased spare time would lead only to more drinking in cabarets. It should be noted that in France in the 1930s alcoholism was a serious problem, particularly among males. In 1933 the French consumed 2.61 liters of hard liquor per person compared to .56 liters for the English and .77 for Germans. The French also drank twice as much wine per person as the Spanish and three times more than the Italians.66 France possessed one establishment licensed to serve alcoholic beverages for each 80 inhabitants compared to one for 430 in Great Britain. In 1936 the unemployed spent a larger percentage of their income on wine and coffee (6.1 and 2.1 percent, respectively) than on rent (7.2) or on clothing (5.5).67 The jobless considered these drinks to be inelastic expenses; their percentage of the budget increased only marginally as workers' income rose.
Logr"š, the chief physician at the police infirmary in Paris, noted an increase in alcoholism since the new social legislation had been enacted "because potential alcoholics have experienced, at least temporarily, a rise in their purchasing power, and they have more time to drink."68 According to another source, the social reforms of the Popular Front did not diminish alcoholism, at least not in Paris. Despite a national decline in consumption of alcohol, the number of alcoholics treated by the psychiatric clinic of the Paris police increased steadily from 1935 (421 cases), to 1936 (494), 1937 (517), and 1938 (535).69 A delegate of the Ligue anti-alcoolique complained that, in the absence of repressive measures, increased leisure and higher pay had encouraged insobriety during the Popular Front.70 He cited as evidence the increasing number of establishments serving alcoholic drinks and the growing profits of large distillers, such as Pernod and Cinzano. Other backers of temperance advocated women's suffrage as a way of diluting the political influence of drinking males. An investigation conducted from 1934 through 1937 in one large Parisian power plant found that at least 16 percent of the work force were alcoholics.71 According to the physician, the personnel of the enterprise had good working conditions-a collective bargaining agreement, employment security, paid vacations, generous sick leave, and a retirement plan. Their housing too was considered more than adequate. The 173 cases of alcoholism out of a total work force of 1,092 (that contained only 15 women) were therefore not caused by "the habitual excuses of slums, unemployment, and insecurity." Forty-seven of the alcoholics were from Brittany, which meant that 32 percent of the Bretons working at the plant were dipsomaniacs. The alcoholic 16 percent of the personnel were responsible for approximately 25 percent of the sicknesses and accidents both on and off the job. These workers missed 31 days of work per year compared to 17 for nonalcoholics.72
Another physician characterized French workers as "the most alcoholic in the world."73 Admissions of alcoholics and others with alcohol-related illnesses to mental institutions rose almost 16 percent from 1936 through 1938. In the interwar period in many homes, the ap"šritif, especially anise-based beverages, began to complement the traditional popularity of wine and beer.74 Some families believed that the two liters of wine per day, ap"šritifs excluded, were the necessary minimum for working adults. Activists complained that "the same workers who do not feel rich enough to buy a union educational brochure, which could lead them from moral misery, do not hesitate paying in a bar for expensive alcoholic poisons that destroy their health and stupefy them."75 Militants criticized "unaware comrades, who before joining the CGT passed their time playing cards and betting on the horses."76 A CGT official lamented that all too often only students visited the youth hostels, whereas workers spent "their Sundays in a smoke-filled caf"š." The bars, music halls, and dances of Montmartre seemed to be more attractive to wage earners than the universities of work or other improving occupations.77 In terms of monies spent, horse racing was by far the most popular sport.
The tourist industry's conception of leisure was often little different from the CGT's. The industry criticized the lack of "social tourism" in France and urged that all classes participate in leisure activities.78 These activities should compensate for the unnatural labor of modern times through a "momentary return to nature," which would eventually improve the workers' capacity to work. A new company, Union fran"¡aise des loisirs, offered its services to employers who wanted to respond to a new need, the organization of leisure in aid of "social pacification." Thus, both the dynamic sector of the tourist industry and the Left agreed that organized leisure was a necessary alternative both to the harshness of the workers' laboring life and to the licentiousness of traditional popular culture. So did the employers. Following the precedent of management-sponsored summer camps, the bourgeois elite desired to remake workers' leisure in ways similar to those suggested by working-class organizations. For them, workers' free time had to be organized and channeled to produce a cleaner, healthier, and happier working class. Louis Renault advocated "public works necessary for the organization of leisure."79 The tough-minded employers did not object to the sporting and leisure activities sponsored by the CGT and the PCF but rather to their alleged attempts to indoctrinate youth with "Marxism."80 The review, L'Europe nouvelle, which vigorously fought the forty-hour week, nevertheless asserted that workers' rest (repos) must be converted into spare-time activities, and it hoped that in the future the dream of a Paris surrounded by stadiums might be realized. One authority called for "scientific organization of leisure" so that workers might return to their post with more energy. Sports, in particular, would improve body and mind and therefore output.81 Municipalities were urged to continue their construction of bathhouses and day-care centers. In the tradition of nineteenth-century philanthropy, it was asserted that new and clean housing would encourage workers to spend more time with their families. Workers wanted not socialism but property, specifically homes with gardens.
During the 1930s the more traditional activities, such as gardening, began to be replaced or complemented by the car. On the Left and Right many argued that the future of transportation for both leisure and work should be the private automobile. Pervasive propaganda glorified the machine and its drivers. For example, in the summer of 1938, various newsreels featured "the Grand Automobile Rally at Trocad"šro," where "the most recent and most elegant cars" were presented by their owners, "whose dress," it was announced, "matched the colors and lines of the autos."82 For its part, Humanit"š criticized French automobile builders for failing to "democratize" the automobile.83 The PCF daily complained that "the car, this marvelous newborn that provides so much work for laborers," was too expensive for the proletariat. Communist and union militants agreed that the automobile was beautiful and that the prosperity of the nation depended on the motor-vehicle industry. The F"šd"šration des m"štaux urged nationalization of the industry if capitalist automobile manufacturers proved incapable of providing a "democratic car."84 Syndicats asked, "What good does it do to build more automobiles, if most people cannot buy them?"85 Both literally and figuratively, working-class organizations helped to pave the way to a future in which the private car would become the centerpiece of work, leisure, and transportation. Louis Renault concurred with his class enemies that the price of automobiles must be lowered so that "one day every family in France can have its own little car."86 Usine, published by the metallurgical industrialists, wanted to popularize cars as Kodak had cameras.
Workers were encouraged to consume commodities more accessible than automobiles. Advertising in both leftist and rightist publications propagated the virtues of consumption and awakened desires that many were able to satisfy only after World War II. Nevertheless, in the 1930s a whole range of goods-cameras, radios, bicycles, watches, sewing machines, vacuum cleaners, hunting rifles, bedroom sets, gourmet foods, cosmetics, and still other articles-were temptingly offered to French workers. Bargain stores in Paris-Prisunic, Monoprix, and Multiprix-encouraged mass consumption of many of these items. If cars remained merely a wish for most French workers, the purchase of a motorcycle, almost nonexistent in Spain, was easier. The most obtainable means of transportation remained the bicycle; its numbers doubled from four million in 1920 to eight million in 1939. Many wage earners commuted to work-and to strikes-on their bikes.
Radios became more available to those with modest incomes, and their sales rose from 1.3 million in 1933 to 5 million in 1939.87 Over 65 percent of working Parisians and 28.2 percent of those unemployed possessed a radio in 1936. Twice as many Parisian working-class households owned radios than books.88 Employed workers spent over 50 percent more on tobacco than on books and newspapers, thus demonstrating the continuing vitality of the oral component of French working- class culture. The CGT believed-not entirely without reason, it seems-that the "average working- class family" could purchase household items such as "costly" vacuum cleaners if it reduced spending on wines and ap"šritifs.89 The union could have added cigarettes.
Yet some workers saved and labored to acquire healthier commodities and services. After the First World War, many men who had become familiar with arms in the trenches took up hunting as a sport, and the number of permits issued between the war and the early 1930s tripled.90 Advertisements for rifles in the working-class press showed that many Parisian workers were interested in shooting. As in the A"šro-clubs, sportsmen from the upper classes, however, disdained the new hunters and refused them admittance into exclusive associations. To prevent the democratization of the sport, these wealthy enthusiasts desired to raise the price of a hunting license. Women of all classes participated in a new world of consumption, continuing to frequent beauty salons and using more cosmetics than earlier generations had. Over one-third of working-class households in Paris contained a sewing machine;91 with the spread of electricity into urban homes, many consumers acquired an electric iron. Many young families bought furniture on credit. Even when workers earned relatively high wages, they spent less of their income on housing than lower middle-class employees did. The result was substandard housing, and the size of apartments and the number of rooms were insufficient. The possibilities of spending both time and money on lodgings were limitless.
Given the need and appetite to consume, wage hikes were workers' key demand during almost all strikes. Metallurgical employers charged that the Communist leaders of the Syndicat des m"štaux hid the "political" nature of their strikes by emphasizing economic and professional grievances.92 On occasion, workers refused a workweek that fell below forty hours. In 1937 one delegation of workers protested against a thirty-five-hour week that management attributed to a lack of orders.93 It is significant that the delegation's protest came less than two weeks before Christmas, a period of heightened consumption. In contrast to celebrations of no"°l before the Great War, festivities during the Popular Front included expanded gift giving and more widespread use of Christmas trees. In order to meet new and old needs, some workers demanded overtime; others approved piecework. When at the end of 1936 upholsterers went on strike to eliminate piecework, a minority of workers in certain firms favored pay incentives but "lacked the courage to speak up."94 As in Barcelona, an undetermined number of wage earners engaged in moonlighting (travail noir) despite the unions' hostility. The CGT would sometimes accuse workers in company unions like the Association des ouvriers Gn"me et Rh"ne of moonlighting and thereby stealing work from the unemployed.95 Penalties were established not only for workers who labored during their paid vacations but also for those who hired them.96 Yet the extent of working off the books remains unknown.97
An expanding range of leisure possibilities induced others to work hard for future vacations and weekend outings. In most working-class families, both parents had to be wage earners in order to afford a vacation.98 At SIMCA-where work slow-downs were common even among those paid by the piece-workers increased production to earn higher piecework wages as summer vacations neared.99 Wage earners' roles as producers and consumers sometimes conflicted. In July 1936 women who shopped in Parisian working-class neighborhoods "were delighted that the forty-hour week allowed them to finish their housekeeping chores during the week and to keep the weekend intact."100 However the application of the forty-hour week also resulted in the closing of food shops from Sunday noon until Tuesday morning. The Monday closings severely limited the possibilities of a weekend outing since perishables bought on Saturday would not last until Tuesday in the summer heat. Without refrigerators, discontented workers were forced to shop on Sunday morning. Shop clerks, though, insisted on dividing the forty-hour week into five days of eight hours with Sunday and Monday free, against their employers' desire for six working days. The clerks' representative justified their decision by asserting, "Sales no longer depend on the opening of stores but on the purchasing power of the masses."101
The discourses on the problems of unemployment and leisure revealed that many on the Right and on the Left shared the values of the "civilizing offensive." Unemployment they solved by putting the jobless to work building roads to improve traffic circulation, apartment houses to lodge workers, and automobiles to move the masses. The unions and parties of the Popular Front found the answer to the issue of leisure in organizing healthy and wholesome activities. The Left defined unemployment and leisure as problems whose solutions would be found in the development and construction of a city of habitations ... bon march"š and of productive factories from which workers could commute to specialized leisure areas. In this sense, the Left's views on leisure meshed with its vision of the working class as devoted producers and potentially salubrious consumers. It reduced the working week so that the unemployed, who were supposedly eager to work, could obtain jobs and increase their buying power. Leisure for the workers had value not just for its own sake but also to make the class better producers in the workplace. Like some sectors of the patronat, the CGT, SFIO, and PCF argued for the restorative powers of loisirs.
At the same time, the leaders of the Left were genuinely moved by labor's new right to leisure. In a well-known speech at the Vichy regime's show trial at Riom in 1942, L"šon Blum described what he perceived as one of his major accomplishments:
I did not leave my office very much . . . but when I did and crossed the Parisian suburbs, I saw the roads lined with old jalopies, motorbikes, and tandems with working-class couples wearing matching sweaters. It all showed that the idea of leisure awakened in them a natural and simple style, and I had the sense, in spite of everything, of having brought sun and light into dark and difficult lives. We not only took workers away from the bars and provided them with more opportunity for family life but gave them hope for the future.102
Discounting Blum's repetition of leftist rhetoric on alcoholism and the family, we can nonetheless agree that workers did become very attached to the Popular Front's reforms granting a shorter working week and paid vacations. This desire to reduce worktime produced difficulties for the coalition. The Popular Front was trapped between its productivist promises to the nation and its consumerist constituents. Parisian workers did not show their gratitude to the Left for its advanced social legislation by working harder and producing more efficiently. Although at Renault resistance to work decreased before August vacations, it increased in the fall, after the first summer vacations had ended. Despite the restorative discourse of the Left, alcoholism did not decline in Paris and may have become more pervasive. Paralleling their lack of subordination in the workplace, many Parisian workers, like their Barcelonan counterparts, continued to use their free moments in ways that both union officials and employers condemned.
Ironically, it was the workers' attachment to the reduced working week, perhaps the major reform of the Popular Front, that helped disrupt the unity of the leftist coalition and greatly contributed to its downfall. The Popular Front was popular because of its expansion of leisure, and it was hardly surprising that its end was provoked by the workers' actions to resist more worktime.
1. Maurice Joly, Productivit"š et discipline dans la profession (Paris, 1939), pp. 57-58.
2. Comit"š de contentieux, 19 June 1939, Contentieux, 35, AN, CE.
3. MinistÅ re du travail, 10 January 1938, AN, 39AS991.
4. Comit"š de d"šcentralisation industrielle pour la main d'ouvre, 26 September 1936, AN, 39AS991; Comit"š de reclassement professionnel, 16 July 1937, AN, 39AS991.
5. Comit"š de d"šcentralisation, (n.d.), AN, 39AS991.
6. Ministre du travail, 10 January 1938, AN, 39AS991.
7. Note pour M. Pluyette, 2 May 1938, AN, 39AS839.
8. Letter from Ministre du travail, 4 January 1937, AN, 39AS830/ 831.
9. Note-comit"š de reclassement professionnel, 30 September 1937, AN, 39AS990; Le vendredi 5 novembre, AN, 39AS991.
10. Humanit"š, 17-24 May 1936.
11. Syndicats, 23 December 1937, 28 December 1938, and 10 June 1937.
12. Humanit"š, 13 August 1936, 5 April and 5 May 1938.
13. Syndicats, 16 March 1938; Nouveaux Cahiers, 15 June 1937.
14. La Vie ouvriÅ re, 14 October 1937; Le Corbusier, Des canons, des munitions . . . merci! Des logis, s.v.p. (Paris, 1938), pp. 7-9.
15. Robert Fishman, Urban Utopias in the Twentieth Century (New York, 1977), p. 233.
16. La Vie ouvriÅ re, 12 May 1938.
17. Roger-Henri Guerrand, Le logement populaire en France: Sources documentaires et bibliographie (1800-1960) (Paris, 1979), p. 128.
18. Humanit"š, 22 August 1936 and 3 March 1938; Syndicats, 23 December 1937.
19. Le Corbusier quoted in Fishman, Utopias, p. 191.
20. Syndicats, 15 and 23 December 1937.
21. La Vie ouvriÅ re, 21 January 1937.
22. For Renault's attitude, see Patrick Fridenson, Histoire des usines Renault (Paris, 1972), pp. 318-19, and AN, 91AQ16.
23. Humanit"š, 29 October 1936, 18 June 1937, and 9 March 1938.
24. L"šon Blum, A l'"šchelle humaine (Paris, 1945), p. 112.
25. Richard Holt, Sport and Society in Modern France (London, 1981), pp. 70-78.
26. Fran"¡oise Cribier, La grande migration d'"št"š des citadins en France (Paris, 1969), p. 41. P. A. Rey-Herme (Les colonies de vacances en France, 1906-1935 [Paris, 1961], 1:294) offers figures of one hundred fifty thousand children who left Paris for vacation camps in 1936.
27. BenoÅ’t Frachon, Le r"le social des syndicats (Paris, 1937), pp. 7-8.
28. Holt, Sport, p. 204.
29. Henri NoguÅ res, La vie quotidienne en France au temps du front populaire (1935-1938) (Paris, 1977), p. 150.
30. Je suis partout quoted in Paul Christophe, 1936: Les catholiques et le front populaire (Paris, 1986), p. 10.
31. La FlÅ che de Paris, 6 February 1937.
32. Jean-Victor Parant, Le problÅ me du tourisme populaire (Paris, 1939), p. 217.
33. Lagrange quoted in NoguÅ res, Vie quotidienne, p. 188.
34. Humanit"š, 5 September 1937; La Vie ouvriÅ re, 18 March 1937.
35. Parant, ProblÅ me, p. 86.
36. Emilie Lefranc and Georges Lefranc, Le syndicalisme devant le problÅ me des loisirs (Paris, 1937), pp. 36-
37; Syndicats, 8 April 1937 and 15 June 1938.
37. The following is derived from E. and G. Lefranc, Syndicalisme, pp. 14-43; italics in original.
38. Le Populaire, 12 January 1937.
39. Holt, Sports, pp. 205-6.
40. Humanit"š, 25 and 28 May 1936.
41. Syndicats, 11 December 1936 and 8 April 1937.
42. Benigno C cÅ res, Loisirs et travail: Du moyen Æ’ge ... nos jours (Paris, 1973), pp. 192-93; Holt, Sport, p. 207; Jacques Kergoat, La France du front populaire (Paris, 1986), p. 362.
43. Humanit"š, 20 July and 29 November 1936.
44. C cÅ res, Loisirs et travail, p. 189; Jules Moch, Le front populaire: Grande esp"šrance (Paris, 1971), p. 160. Parant, ProblÅ me, pp. 83-84, gives figures of 550,000 in 1936 and 900,000 in 1937.
45. La Vie ouvriÅ re, 13 May 1937.
46. NoguÅ res, Vie quotidienne, p. 154; Parant, ProblÅ me, p. 92.
47. Le Peuple, 3 December 1937.
48. Syndicats, 25 March 1937.
49. Humanit"š, 21 June and 6 December 1936, 29 January 1937.
50. Gabrielle Letellier, Jean Perret, H. E. Zuber, and A. Dauphin-Meunier, EnquË†te sur le ch"mage (Paris, 1938-1949), 3:69.
51. Aline Coutrot, "Youth Movements in France in the 1930s," Journal of Contemporary History 5, no. 1 (1970): 23-35; Kergoat, France, p. 314; EugÅ ne Raude and Gilbert Prouteau, Le message de L"šo Lagrange (Paris, 1950), p. 105.
52. Jean-Louis Chappat, Les chemins de l'espoir, ou combats de L"šo Lagrange (Li"švin, 1983), pp. 184-256.
53. NoguÅ res, Vie quotidienne, pp. 168-69; Aviation populaire, 17 February 1937, AN, F712966; Humanit"š, 1 June 1936; Expos"š, SHAA, Z12944; Comit"š du mat"šriel, 10 June 1938, SHAA, Z12946; see Roger Bordier (36 la fË†te [Paris, 1985], p. 98) on PCF reaction to fears that a proletarian wave would engulf aviation.
54. See Holt, Sport, pp. 175, 186.
55. Syndicats, 18 March 1937; NoguÅ res, Vie quotidienne, p. 159; Kergoat, France, p. 337.
56. Letter from Etablissements Reinhard et Chapuiset, 9 June 1938, AN, 39AS836; M. Doury, SIMCA-FIAT ... Nanterre, violations de la convention collective, 3 September 1937, GIM.
57. Humanit"š, 17 August 1936 and 15 December 1937; Syndicats, 9 September 1937.
58. Usine, 10 September 1936; Parant, ProblÅ me, p. 217.
59. Moch, Esp"šrance, p. 298.
60. Syndicats, 20 May 1937.
61. Letter from the Groupement des industriels de la r"šgion de Saint-Denis, 8 July 1937, AN, 39AS803; R"šunion du comit"š du 14 avril 1937, AN, 39AS852.
62. Usine, 8 April and 6 May 1937; Refus de r"šcup"šrer en violation de la loi de 40 heures, 19 March 1938, GIM.
63. Vouret, 12 May 1937, GIM.
64. ProcÅ s-verbal, GIM, 14 April 1937, AN, 39AS852.
65. Parant, ProblÅ me, p. 10; Yvonne Becquet, L'organisation des loisirs des travailleurs (Paris, 1939), p. 20.
66. Annuaire statistique de la France, 1934; C"šcile Tardieu-Gotchac, "Les fl"šaux sociaux," in Histoire "šconomique de la France entre les deux guerres, ed. Alfred Sauvy (Paris, 1972), 3:232.
67. Letellier et al., EnquË†te, 3:51-75.
68. Usine, 27 January 1938.
69. Sully Ledermann, Alcool, alcoolisme, alcoolisation (Paris, 1956-1964), 2:306.
70. "Cahiers de la sant"š publique," L'HygiÅ ne sociale, 12 March 1938. For women's suffrage and alcoholism, "Rapport sur le concours militaire antialcoolique," L'Etoile bleue (March 1939).
71. The following information is derived from Ren"š Barthe, "Alcoolisme et personnel d'une entreprise: Bilan m"šdico-social," Annales d'hygiÅ ne publique, industrielle et sociale 16 (December 1938): 525- 33.
72. Ledermann, Alcoolisme, 2:379. These figures on absenteeism do not include work accidents. In this enterprise, absenteeism did not increase during the Popular Front perhaps because the flu epidemic of the winter of 1935 was particularly severe.
73. Patricia E. Prestwich, "Antialcoholism in France since 1870" (manuscript), p. 59; Tardieu- Gotchac, "Les fl"šaux sociaux," p. 235.
74. Jean and Fran"¡oise Fourasti"š, "Le genre de vie," in Histoire "šconomique de la France entre les deux guerres, ed. Alfred Sauvy (Paris, 1972), p. 215; Barthe, "Alcoolisme," p. 538.
75. L'Unit"š, September 1936, quoted in Jean-Paul Depretto and Sylvie V. Schweitzer, Le communisme ... l'usine: Vie ouvriÅ re et mouvement ouvrier chez Renault, 1920-1939 (Paris, 1984), p. 221.
76. La Vie ouvriÅ re, 29 October 1936; E. and G. Lefranc, Syndicalisme, p. 33.
77. Louis Chevalier, Montmartre du plaisir et du crime (Paris, 1980), p. 445; Annuaire statistique de la ville de Paris, 1935-1937, pp. 613-15.
78. E. Milhaud, "Intervention," 12 April 1935, AN, F128800; Union fran"¡aise des loisirs, AN, 39AS399.
79. 28 May 1936, AN, 91AQ16.
80. L'Elan social, 21 and 28 October 1937; L'Europe nouvelle, 22 May 1937.
81. Becquet, L'organisation des loisirs, pp. 21-23, 64.
82. Actualit"šs cin"šmatographiques de la semaine, 29 June 1938, AN, F713019.
83. Humanit"š, 8 and 13 October 1937.
84. Le Guide du m"štallurgiste, July 1938.
85. Syndicats, 23 September 1937.
86. 22 June 1936, AN, 91AQ16; Usine, 3 March 1938.
87. Fourasti"š, "Le genre," p. 223.
88. Letellier et al., EnquË†te, 3:134.
89. Centre conf"šd"šral d'"šducation ouvriÅ re, cycle de conf"šrences sur la condition et le r"le de la femme: HygiÅ ne et logement, (n.d., 1937?), Georges Lefranc Collection, Hoover Institution. 90. Holt, Sport, pp. 174-75.
91. Letellier et al., EnquË†te, 3:133-218; Fourasti"š, "Le genre," p. 217.
92. R"šsum"š, p. iv, April 1938 (?), GIM.
93. Note de service, no. 13.091, 13 December 1937, AN, 91AQ83.
94. 22 December 1936, APP 1871. The worker who defended piecework also denounced "the intrusion of women into the profession."
95. Ce que les d"šcolleteurs doivent savoir, June 1938, F712966.
96. See A. Lorch, Les cong"šs pay"šs en France (Paris, 1938), p. 61. Fines were turned over to the unemployment fund.
97. It seems that, for example, only 2 percent of the budget of the unemployed came from odd jobs (Letellier et al., EnquË†te, 3:11).
98. Parant, ProblÅ me, p. 198.
99. R"šponse de la direction SIMCA ... la note remise au groupe par M. Doury, 3 September 1937, GIM.
100. Fermeture des magasins d'alimentation, Paris, 25 July 1936, AN, F712961.
101. Assembl"še g"šn"šrale organis"še par la chambre syndicale des employ"šs, section du Bon March"š, 13 February 1937, AN, F712968.
102. Blum quoted in Georges Lefranc, Histoire du front populaire (Paris, 1974), p. 339.
13. The End of the Popular Front
The shifting attitude of the Radical party, which was often the key to parliamentary majorities in the latter years of the Third Republic, caused the rupture of the Popular Front. Although Radical deputies depended on the votes of Socialists and Communists to win elections, many Radical constituents remained skeptical of the leftist coalition's economic policies.1 Peasants, owners of small firms, and members of the middle classes who accepted the Radicals' defense of anticlericalism and republican liberties had never fully consented to the Popular Front's economic program, particularly the forty- hour week. Employers resented being forced to close two days per week or being unable to adapt the shorter workweek to their seasonal needs. In the spring of 1937, Radicals complained of union power and violations of the right to work. In June 1937 immediately before the fall of the first Blum government, Edouard Daladier, the Radical leader who had promoted the formation of the leftist coalition, reflected increasing anti-Popular Front sentiment in his own party by calling for the reestablishment of "order"-which was, significantly enough, an anti-Popular Front code word. Although Camille Chautemps, a veteran Radical politician who succeeded Blum in June 1937, was committed to maintaining the Popular Front, he nevertheless established an investigatory commission on production with the goal of modifying the forty-hour week. At the party congress in October 1937, Chautemps, Daladier, and other Radical party officials agreed to remain in the leftist coalition only if it maintained "order" and defended the middle classes.
After the fall of the second Blum government in April 1938, Daladier became prime minister. His government gradually shifted further to the Right as it faced accelerating internal and international pressures on production to overcome the stagnation of the French economy and prepare for the coming war. Domestically, this shift reflected the estrangement of the middle classes whose anger over the forty-hour week intensified as inflation did. Rising prices resulted from the constant wage increases, the slowdown of production in many industrial branches, and the successive devaluations of the franc, which had lost almost 60 percent of its value in less than two years. If unionized workers were largely able to keep up with the 75 percent rise in wholesale prices and a 47 percent increase in retail prices, retired persons on fixed incomes, rentiers, and even many fonctionnaires were economically injured by inflation they blamed on the Popular Front.2 In addition, many owners of small businesses became increasingly receptive to the anti- Popular Front positions of large employers' organizations and moved toward "republican authoritarianism."3
Supplementing the economic grievances of important Radical constituents, the French and their allies who wanted a strong defense were concerned with the sluggishness of military production. In April 1938 General Armengaud complained of the low rate of aircraft production and cited as one of its causes "the quantity-relatively inadequate-of the weekly labor of each worker."4 The general lamented that the productivity of French aviation workers was considerably below that of German workers, and he called upon his fellow citizens to sacrifice for the patrie.
The general's fears were shared by many bourgeois and industrialists. Low aircraft production compelled the government to purchase American planes, despite objections from organizations of employers and workers alike. At the end of September 1938, the newly elected president of the SNCASO declared that the closing of the factories on Saturdays and Sundays was "unacceptable" during a period of international tension.5 He cited the "very serious" problem of output and urged more incentives for production. The employers' periodical, La Journ"še industrielle, blamed the lack of qualified personnel, the disappearance of incentives, and the erosion of the authority of the maÅ’trise for what it claimed was a 30 percent decrease in aviation productivity.6
Toward the end of the Popular Front, the Inspecteur g"šn"šral du travail alluded to the hostile social climate in a speech to representatives of management and labor. This high government official was certain that no employer wanted the return of a patronat du droit divin (divine-right bossism) but that on their side the union militants should "strive to make their comrades understand" the obligations and advantages of a collective bargaining agreement. Yet the militants "were not always understood as they should have been. Their directives were sometimes not respected because those to whom they spoke were not conscious of collective responsibility."7 The Inspecteur g"šn"šral argued that working- class organizations must make workers comprehend that the collective bargaining agreement was a "pact of non-aggression"; once it was signed, they should labor as hard as possible for their employers:
The unions must use every opportunity to demand that the collective bargaining agreement be obeyed [by their members]. No work is possible without discipline, and there is no discipline without authority. Now after the bargaining agreement has defined this authority, which must rule in the workplace, the workers must submit to it.
In November 1938 Daladier appointed a conservative, Paul Reynaud, to the Ministry of Finance. Throughout the Popular Front, Reynaud had opposed the forty-hour week and had fought to increase French production. He had continually warned that the constraints imposed on the French economy would lead to stagnation and weak defense. In June 1937 Reynaud declared, "We have progressively tried to diminish labor, but we have forgotten output, and we have raised simultaneously the cost of living and the costs of production."8 As minister, Reynaud quickly attacked the application of the forty-hour week and destroyed the weekend. He established a six-day working week, authorized overtime up to nine hours per day within the limits of a forty-eight-hour week, and reduced overtime pay by 10 to 25 percent.9 To encourage a longer workweek, Reynaud's decrees forbade the five-day week of eight hours per day without the authorization of the Ministry of Labor. He also declared null and void collective bargaining agreements that banned piecework, and he envisaged sanctions for workers who refused to work overtime in defense industries. In a radio address, Reynaud, who had opposed the Munich agreements and argued for a tough stance against Germany, told his countrymen:
In 1933 France produced more cast iron than Germany. Today it produces four times less [than Germany]. . . . Our production must increase 30 to 40 percent. Now, all the unemployed together, even if they could be hired tomorrow, could only increase our production 7 to 8 percent. Therefore the workweek must be lengthened. Do you believe that in Europe today France can simultaneously maintain its standard of living, spend 25 billion on arms, and rest two days per week? No. You want action. I tell you that the week of two Sundays has ceased to exist.10
Reynaud's attack on the weekend along with other aspects of his program aroused great opposition among workers. The Socialist Jules Moch remarked that the minister's address provoked "amazement and fury in the working class."11 The industrialists noted "strike threats" in factories that planned to work on Saturday 26 November; nevertheless, many entrepreneurs were grateful for Reynaud's assault on a labor-free Saturday, which had quickly become a cherished tradition in the Parisian working class.12
On the other side, Ren"š Belin, the leader of the anti-Communist group within the CGT, had wondered in August 1938 if Daladier would cross the Rubicon by terminating the forty-hour week.13 The PCF which, it was claimed, was initially hesitant to defend the forty-hour week became more determined "when it realized that the masses were resolutely hostile to [Reynaud's] project of mutilation"; some unions even charged that Daladier's program was fascist.14 As early as September 1938, the National Federation of Paper Workers equated Daladier's radio speeches, which called for more work, with those of Hitler and Mussolini. CGT militants in the paper industry insisted that Daladier's program was a replica of that of the right-wing PSF of Colonel de La Rocque. According to La Vie ouvriÅ re, Daladier was a representative of "big capital," which was in turn connected to fascism. One CGT leader, H. Raynaud, charged that Daladier had "yielded to the wishes of internal [French] fascism."15 The same issue of the CGT publication displayed a cartoon in which Hitler and Mussolini advised the French prime minister to use "our methods with the workers." In the pages of Syndicats, R. Froideval, secretary of the CGT Construction Union of Paris, accused Paul Reynaud of plagarizing Hitler.16
At the CGT's congress of Nantes the Conf"šd"šration's three principal factions-Communist, anti- Communist, and the small number of revolutionary syndicalists-unanimously agreed on the need for union actions to prevent enactment of Reynaud's decrees. They planned a general strike on 30 November that "expresses the protest of the working class against the decrees that especially hurt it both by terminating the day off on Saturday without any reason and without any benefit for the national economy and by establishing a reorganization of overtime that is totally unjustified."17 E. Jacoud, the secretary of the Federation of Transportation (CGT), noted "the general indignation that the decrees aroused shortly after they appeared" and asked, "What federation could have resisted such a justifiable response?"18 Anti-Communist militants asserted that "sportsmen" also would "defend the week of two Sundays," which was "the most satisfactory reform of all."19
Even before the planned date of 30 November wildcat strikes erupted against the six-day week. New schedules that obliged personnel to work Saturday or Monday generated intense opposition among a multitude of workers, many of whom, including Catholics, were not known for their militancy.20 At the Hutchinson tire factory in Puteaux, at the chemical firm of Kuhlmann in Aubervilliers, and at MatiÅ res colorantes of St.-Denis, workers engaged in grÅ ves sauvages protesting the new work schedules.21 Other major chemical, aviation, and metalworking firms in the suburbs were hit by wildcats, and the CGT was forced to appeal to its militants to restrain the strikers. On 24 November at aviation plants in the Paris region, wildcat strikes occurred before Reynaud's decrees were applied.22 The president of the nationalized aviation sector declared that "after the establishment of the contract and the social laws, recourse to a strike is a revolutionary measure that risks arousing the majority of the nation against the workers." He announced, "According to the statistics, fifty-five hours per week of work are necessary to ensure the existence of the country."
On 24 November the largest and most violent wildcat strike erupted in Renault. Although the PCF and its followers claimed that Renault workers were not responsible for the violence or attributed it to Trotskyists, the automobile workers did engage in sabotage and physical aggression. Some foremen and superintendents were beaten, and forty-two bludgeons or blackjacks and one dagger (which had been made in the factories) were found in the workshops occupied by the strikers.23 Workers used new cars and trucks to construct barricades, broke windows, and destroyed a clock. Strikers left the basement of the infirmary full of gasoline. Police had to evacuate the factories by force and were greeted by a barrage of various automobile parts ranging from carburetors to pistons. Forty-six policemen and at least twenty-two strikers were injured in the confrontations. Many works in progress were ruined, and management claimed almost 200,000 francs in damages.24
Approximately two hundred eighty workers were arrested, mainly for failure to respect the right to work (entraves ... la libert"š du travail).25 From the available police reports on thirty-one workers, only five were described as "political" and members of the PCF. Twenty-one were judged "nonpolitical" (pas s'occuper de politique) by police inspectors, and reports on five others contained no mention of political activity.26 Only two out of the thirty-one workers had a criminal record. Three of the thirty-three persons whom the Renault management accused of violating the "right to work" and engaging in violence and sabotage were women.27 The female suspects sometimes equaled their male counterparts in violence. One threw a pot of benzine at a widow who continued to work during the strike; the two others threatened to "smash in the face" of their female colleagues who failed to stop work. The Renault statistics are extremely significant because they contradict the claims by the management and the Daladier government that the 24 November strike was "political," that is, a protest by PCF militants against the government that had signed the Munich accords. These statistics roughly mirrored the percentage of PCF members in the Renault factories; according to the militants' unofficial numbers, the PCF had four thousand adherents out of thirty-four thousand workers.28 The figures thus reflect an unexpectedly low rate of PCF membership among some of the presumably most militant workers and tend to refute assertions by historians that the PCF controlled Renault during the Popular Front.29 The police reports indicate that nonpolitical workers were the essential force behind the 24 November strike to defend the weekend against Reynaud's decrees. The lack of criminal records among the workers who committed violent acts against both people and property implied that violence in a huge, rationalized plant like Renault was caused not by criminals, or even PCF militants, but by a disgruntled minority that was outraged by the longer workweek. Indeed, throughout the Popular Front, the PCF and the CGT-like their counterparts in Barcelona- were well aware of the generally low degree of political militancy among the majority of French workers. The PCF had difficulty finding devoted militants to lead its cells and lamented the passivity of its Renault adherents who usually neglected to purchase party publications.30 Generally, the bulk of PCF members were less interested in the party's politics or projects for the future than in its defense of their bread-and-butter demands. The CGT itself was careful to give priority to specific economic grievances rather than political demands during the most important strikes. The Syndicat des m"štaux even denied that the one-hour strike of Monday, 7 September 1936, in solidarity with Spain was exclusively "political." Of course, the union did not dispute that a major purpose of the work stoppage was to elicit support for the Spanish Republicans, but it also demanded wage hikes and protested the "violations of the collective bargaining agreements," "firings of personnel," and "nonpayment of vacations."
After 1936, workers generally responded without great enthusiasm to other political movements. Despite the strong support of the Syndicat des m"štaux, the demonstration of 24 June 1937 against the Senate-which had blocked Blum's financial initiatives and contributed to the fall of his first government-generated a relatively low turnout.31 Yet at certain moments many workers mobilized for political causes. After all, the Popular Front coalition had been propelled in 1934 by the mass political strikes and demonstrations of 12 February that protested against the right-wing riots of 6 February. A Bastille Day unity demonstration in 1935, May Day marches in 1936 and 1937, and the commemoration in 1936 of the 1871 Paris Commune drew several hundred thousand on each occasion. Tens of thousands of Parisian workers also participated in a demonstration against the fascist attack on L"šon Blum in February 1936. In November 1936 hundreds of thousands took to the streets to protest against the right-wing press whose slanders had caused the suicide of Roger Salengro, the Socialist Minister of the Interior.
The strike following the Clichy massacre was one of the rare occasions during the period of Popular Front governments when impressive numbers of workers participated in an essentially political work stoppage. In the evening of 16 March 1937, six thousand to ten thousand left-wing demonstrators met to protest a gathering of La Rocque's Parti social fran"¡ais (PSF), which was the largest and most rapidly growing formation of the extreme Right. The crowd clashed with police who had been sent to separate the two hostile groups. The confrontations caused the deaths of five or six antifascists and injuries to approximately two hundred persons. The deaths and injuries aroused "a profound emotion in working-class circles."32 On the morning of Thursday 18 March, large numbers of Parisian workers responded to a CGT strike call. The protest against the fascist movement of La Rocque and against the police shootings became the most important political strike of the Popular Front.33 The political character of the 30 November 1938 general strike was less important than its defense of the forty-hour week, but it, nevertheless, failed decisively. Employers were well prepared, and they warned their personnel that strikers would lose seniority and paid vacations.34 Some industrialists declared that striking would constitute a clear violation of the contract and that those who did not come to work would be fired or rehired on an individual basis after an examination of their records. The government also acted with force and shrewdness to end the strikes in the most vital public services. In Parisian public transportation, the walkout was a failure.35 The strike was supported by only a few railroad and postal workers. Troops were stationed in the m"štro, train, and bus stations to ensure traffic circulation, and employers asserted that where a service d'ordre (police force) protected the right to work, participation in the general strike was minimal.36 Ren"š Belin reported that Daladier had effectively prevented a walkout in public services by threatening potential strikers with military tribunals.37 Humanit"š asserted that the state had created "an atmosphere of terror" by placing soldiers in the centers of public transportation. The revolutionary syndicalists charged that "the fascistization of the French state continues rapidly."38 Even the relatively moderate L"šon Jouhaux concluded that "Daladiert . . . wanted to demonstrate that he could take the same attitude toward the working class as Hitler."39
Whether fascist or not, the Daladier government foreshadowed contemporary practices by an astute manipulation of the state-controlled radio that intimidated strikers and potential strikers. As were other government workers, radio employees were requisitioned. News broadcasts, which the radio monopolized since newspapers failed to appear during the strike, openly encouraged strikebreaking.40 One railroad union official admitted that the "bombardment of the airwaves was unquestionably effective." Other union leaders concluded that the government's use of the radio had aided the bosses and confused the workers.41 Coercion by military and police supplemented a clever employment of the means of communication to break the 30 November general strike. During the Popular Front, the radio became an outlet for the propaganda not only of consumption but also of production. The advanced industries examined actively participated in the movement in defense of the forty-hour week and against the Reynaud plan. In the suburbs, where the most important aviation and automobile firms were located, the percentage of strikers was relatively high. Figures varied widely according to sources: the F"šd"šration des m"štaux declared that 80 percent of workers participated in the strike, whereas the government and employers estimated 25 percent.42 A document in the Renault archives reported that 30 to 40 percent of the workers and 2 to 3 percent of the office workers of the Paris region participated; it stated that at Citro"°n 35 percent of the workers were absent and at SIMCA 70 percent.43 In private aviation companies at Issy-les-Moulineaux, more than 33 percent of the workers participated in the general strike.44 In nationalized aviation the strike was nearly total in the SNCASO factories at Villacoublay, Suresnes, and Courbevoie, and the walkout continued in these plants until 9 December when management reported that only 20 to 50 percent of the personnel were working.45 The president of the firm was especially disappointed by the workers of the CGT- dominated Courbevoie factory who, he said, had broken their promises. Aviation strikers threatened nonstriking personnel and refused to respect their right to work (libert"š du travail). Buses that carried laborers to the Villacoublay plant were sabotaged, and over 50 percent of the aviation personnel reportedly participated in the strikes.
An effective, if controversial, repression followed the failure of the general strike. Workers who had caused production problems during the Popular Front were dismissed. Leftist historiography largely regards this post-November repression as an almost irrational act of vengeance by employers.46 It presents the dismissed workers as innocent passive victims who wanted only to exercise their legal union rights. Yet considering the workers' fight against work and factory discipline, the employers' repression seems exceedingly rational. An estimated eight hundred thousand workers were either locked out or laid off immediately after the failed strike of 30 November. According to management, "only" thirty-four out of one hundred forty Citro"°n delegates were fired.47 At Renault, management dismissed those "troublemakers" (meneurs) who had limited production in the workshops; after these workers were fired, productivity jumped 10 to 25 percent in many workshops.48 Despite a general reduction of personnel from thirty-four thousand to thirty-two thousand, production did not decline.49 On 1 December 1938 Louis Renault noted that during the Popular Front the power of the working class had prevented layoffs of several thousand workers, many of whom had been hired in the autumn and winter of 1936. Frequently, these newly employed laborers were poorly qualified, inadequate producers who were "insufficiently adapted" to the factory. Yet Renault had been unable to dismiss them because he feared retaliatory strikes and other actions. The failed strikes of November provided him with the opportunity to trim his payrolls, reinforce discipline, and increase productivity. In the body assembly workshops, fifty-four out of approximately seven hundred workers were dismissed, but production remained stable.50 In the woodworking atelier, the work force was reduced from seventy-one to fifty-eight, yet production did not fall. In these and other Renault workshops, wages actually increased since workers were no longer able or forced to limit their piecework production.51 During the Popular Front, Renault workers had often sacrificed higher pay for a less intensive work pace. At the end of 1938, factory discipline was reinforced by the reestablishment of turnstiles and inspections to prevent thefts, which had increased since the spring of 1936. In addition, workers were no longer able to exercise their "right" to leave the factory for a snack.52
Yet the employers' response was not totally unrestrained. When M. G. Claude of Action fran"¡aise advocated a return to a forty-eight-hour week with wages based on forty hours, Usine objected that, given the workers' struggle for the forty-hour week, Claude's proposal was unrealistic.53 The management of Caudron calculated that 65 percent of its workers had participated in the 24 November wildcat but stated that many would be rehired, and on 12 December 1938, "work began again normally."54 According to one report, the Ministry of War "definitively" fired only 209 workers out of 100,000, and those dismissed-many of whom had worked in aviation-were soon
reemployed by private industry.55 At the beginning of January 1939, 10,000 workers remained without jobs, but many of them were rehired in the following weeks as renewed economic expansion increased industrial production, which climbed 15 percent from November 1938 to June 1939 as unemployment fell from 416,000 in January 1939 to 343,000 in June 1939.56
In nationalized aviation, selective dismissals eliminated those workers who had hindered production. On 9 December 1938 the president of the SNCASO noted that all would be rehired "except for those persons having committed violations of the right to work, or serious errors, or those not having a normal output before the strike." According to the chief administrator of the same enterprise, fewer than 10 percent of the personnel would be suspended but even some of them would be reemployed in the following weeks. A high executive of the SNCAN declared that wage earners who had not violated the right to work would be recalled as quickly as possible.57 The president of the SNCAN fully approved the executive's position, which he explained:
An examination of all the important cases must be undertaken in an extremely serious manner, with the goal to avoid the slightest injustice. For the personnel who can be reproached with serious errors, their individual records will be constituted and submitted to a commission composed of persons who are independent of the nationalized company and who will make the final decision.
By January 25 1939 the SNCAN executive desired "to make humanitarian gestures as quickly as possible," and he told the administrative council that he had, "studied for certain cases, the possibility of reemployment in a different factory than the one where the concerned person was working before 30 November. Already several positions have been offered and accepted under these conditions."58 In addition to selective dismissals, management now tied wages more closely to production by increasing the weight of monetary incentives. On 9 December 1938 the president of SNCASO stated that "the reduction of the base salary must be compensated by bonuses or production incentives."59 In addition, employers probably reduced the CGT's control over the hiring of new personnel. The poststrike policies of aviation management were at least partially effective, since the monthly delivery of airplanes doubled within several months after the disturbances of November 1938: "From the end of 1938 . . . production increased considerably. . . . The effort to equip the industry, the augmentation of the number of suppliers, the lengthening of the working week . . . were fruitful."60 Thus the rapid increase in production did not derive entirely from the end of the forty-hour week since aircraft production depended on long-term planning and large-scale capital investment. Paradoxically, as the Popular Front governments rearmed and rationalized the defense industries, pressures increased to end the forty-hour workweek, which was, of course, one of the workers' major gains in the Blum period. During 1938, as the machinery of mass production was put into place, industrialists lobbied intensely to lengthen the workweek.61 Reynaud and Daladier responded positively, and a month after the failed strike of November, the official week of motor manufacturers was six days of eight hours. At the end of 1938 productivity increased 6.4 percent. In February 1939, workers in all nationalized firms were laboring at least forty-four hours, and Gn"me et Rh"ne employed three shifts, each working forty-eight hours. If the end of the forty-hour week was not solely responsible for the gains in production and productivity, the post-November climate of longer hours, tightened discipline, and union busting undoubtedly contributed to the increases in output. Once a climate of work discipline had been reestablished, the great majority of dismissed workers, whose skills were frequently needed, was reintegrated into the labor force. Private firms seem to have been more punitive than the nationalized sector or the arbitration courts, however. Capitalists saluted the "return of good sense, of calm, and of the only doctrine that is healthy-work." It should be noted that striking foremen and agents de maÅ’trise, who were a small minority of this stratum, were, exceptionally, not rapidly rehired.62 In nationalized aviation, of the approximately 835 dismissed workers who remained jobless in the spring of 1939, only 7 were foremen (contremaÅ’tres) and 25 were technicians or engineers. Aviation management believed that it was not possible to reopen the factories without a sufficiently powerful police force. In December 1938 the foremen and supervisors of Renault wrote to the Socialist daily, Le Populaire, protesting its article of 23 December, which claimed that the demand for dismissals of the meneurs was the work of a "minority of malcontents." The foremen asserted that the firings were supported by almost all their colleagues; their petition against the meneurs had collected 2,500 signatures of supervisory personnel. The foremen claimed to be satisfied by the "restoration of order" that followed the November strikes.63
As for the fascist political tendencies of employers and their immediate subordinates, these ideological impulses grew during the Popular Front at least partially in response to the workers' challenge of authority, their refusal to work diligently, and the government's inability to reestablish order in the factories or on the construction sites. The extreme right-wing Parti social fran"¡ais made CGT control of hiring one of its major issues during the electoral campaign of early 1937.64 At Renault, large numbers of foremen and agents de maÅ’trise gravitated toward right-wing unions. Among collaborateurs, a category that included not only foremen but also white-collar sales and administrative personnel, the CGT lost support. In December 1936 in elections for delegates, the Conf"šd"šration had obtained 64.2 percent (3,248 votes) while other unions had received 35.8 percent (1,812 votes).65 Two years later in November 1938, CGT votes fell to 45 percent of the total, whereas that of the other unions rose to 55 percent. Support for right-wing professional unions was greater among foremen and supervisory personnel than other collaborateurs. In November 1938 all the sections of the agents de maÅ’trise elected non-CGT representatives. Supervisors and foremen chose ten delegates of the SACIAT, an authoritarian and anti-Communist organization that had complained about the loss of authority of the cadres throughout the Popular Front. While heatedly denying it was in the bosses' camp, the SACIAT claimed that it defended "the only means by which we can assure our future: our work." Calls for the restoration of order and discipline in the workplace were the common denominator among the numerous factions of the Right.66 The PSF pledged to safeguard "the right to work." The electricity magnate Ernest Mercier, a promoter of Redressement fran"¡ais, condemned "disorder"; the Ligue des patriotes demanded discipline; the Bonapartists desired "a very firm central authority"; and Francisme wanted a leader who led and followers who did what they were told. Bertrand de Jouvenal, an intellectual in Jacques Doriot's Parti populaire fran"¡ais, which some historians have called fascist, admired the Third Reich for undertaking "the gigantic task of reconciliating man and his work." Yet the extreme Right had by no means a monopoly on appeals for order and discipline. Some initial supporters of the Popular Front, such as the neo-Socialists and Frontistes, also complained about the lack of government authority. As has been seen, in November 1938 republicans in the clemenciste tradition, led by Paul Reynaud, reestablished an atmosphere of order that led to disciplined production in certain sectors of the economy.
Yet it should not be inferred that all industries experienced a rise in productivity only after the failure of the general strike and the ensuing repression. As in Barcelona, industrial and political periodizations cannot be completely identified; greater output in a number of firms did not always depend solely on the results of the national confrontation between the CGT and the government on 30 November 1938. For example, productivity increased dramatically in private Parisian bus and transportation companies after the forty-four-day drivers' strike and occupation at the end of 1937 and beginning of 1938.67 Furthermore, the Jacomet arbitration of the spring of 1938 had the effect of tightening discipline in certain aviation firms.
Considerably before November 1938, Jules Verger, a patron de combat, adopted what he claimed was an effective strategy against CGT militants. Verger was the president of the employers' organization, Chambre syndicale de l'entreprise "šlectrique de Paris; of its 700 members only a handful employed more than 100 workers.68 He replaced about 130 workers who had struck in October 1936 with new personnel who were "very happy to work after a hard period of unemployment." His loyal workers were heads of households, determined "not to let their jobs be stolen from them because, above everything, they had to provide for their families." The entrepreneur desired to create a family atmosphere in his firm.
In the electricians' strike, verbal and physical violence was a near constant. In early November, approximately 2,200 workers out of 3,500 in the Syndicat des monteurs-"šlectriciens struck in solidarity with the 130 whom Verger had fired in October.69 Verger's own personnel, who now numbered 166, continued laboring and, along with other jaunes (scabs) became targets for the strikers. Verger "asked his staff to respond to violence with violence." The police correctly surmised that confrontations would multiply. The strikers were determined to prevent the jaunes and members of the professional union from working, and they made a special effort to halt Verger's own enterprise.70 On 13 November police arrested 4 strikers for obstructing the right to work. The following day police intervened when 15 strikers attempted to stop the work of 20 nonstrikers. At a meeting, a certain Thomas, presumably a member of the CGT Electricians' Union, stated that force was the only way to make the jaunes understand. The union complained that the police were present whenever the strikers were, and it accused the government of being as reactionary and as repressive as the German Social Democrats had been.
The strikers used old and new tactics to achieve their goals. Their intelligence network seems to have functioned well, and they employed rapid modern transportation-cars, trucks, and bicycles-to appear at sites where nonstrikers were active. In one incident, 100 or so gr"švistes arrived by automobiles, surprised 30 of Verger's men, injured 3, and disappeared before police arrived. Strikers usually attacked only when they considerably outnumbered their adversaries, as at the Jardin des Plantes where 100 strikers forced 12 electricians to abandon their jobs. At Malakoff 12 strikers, who had arrived on bicycles, fought with 4 workers. Furthermore, as in the nineteenth century, scabs' tools might be mislaid, materials confiscated, and work sabotaged.
On several occasions, strikers abducted one or two strikebreakers and interrogated them at a union hall for several hours. When militants questioned why he broke the strike, one worker replied that he was the father of five children and had to labor to feed them. The average age of the strikers who were arrested by police was 22.9, whereas the average age of the nonstrikers was 29.3; the latter likely had more dependents than the former. However exaggerated, Verger's rhetoric about the family did reflect one reality of the conflict. During other strikes industrialists claimed that a parent was less likely to stop work than a single or younger worker.71
By the second week of December, familial constraints may have contributed to slowing the strike's momentum. In addition, the Minister of the Interior, the Socialist Marx Dormoy, was apparently determined to protect the right to work, even at the risk of alienating the CGT:
Regarding the incidents caused by striking electricians who prevent nonstrikers from working and who abduct them: The minister asks them to stop and wishes us to station officers around each site so that the right to work is protected.
The director of the municipal police has been informed.72
As in Spain, in France during the first half of the twentieth century a powerful state, ready to employ its forces to guarantee social order, may have been a prerequisite for labor discipline in certain industries.
Unlike its Spanish counterpart, the French Popular Front became the birthplace of the weekend and mass tourism, not of revolution. The Soviet or anarchosyndicalist alternative of workers' control and development of the means of production had declining appeal for French working-class activists. The core of union and left-wing militants, who were the central force behind the collectivizations in Barcelona, played an entirely different role in Paris. Communists and Socialists in France no longer called for soviets or revolutionary workers' control, and the remaining anarchosyndicalist and Trotskyist militants were largely ignored. In France, the demand for revolution was superseded by guerrilla warfare against work.
The divergent paths of France and Spain influenced the actions and the desires of militants in working-class organizations in Paris and Barcelona. More than its Spanish counterpart, the French bourgeoisie developed the means of production, created a solid agricultural base, and achieved national unity and independence. In addition, by the twentieth century the state had separated itself from the Church and had replaced the values of tradition and religion with those of science and technology. In short, unlike its Iberian peers, the French bourgeoisie had achieved many of the prerequisites of a modern economic order.
French trade unions and left-wing parties were directly affected by the dynamism of their bourgeoisie. Since the issues of separation of Church and state, jurisdiction of military and civilian power, and regionalism had been largely resolved in the France of the 1930s, conflicts over these matters were less significant for French working-class organizations than for their Spanish counterparts. The understandable resentment and violence that Spanish workers and militants manifested toward a largely Catholic bourgeoisie-which had literally and figuratively abandoned its factories-was less evident in Paris. Parisian employers and industrialists were not forced to flee for their lives. The French political consensus was wide and even permitted a sharing of power with major left-wing and working-class organizations, in the legislature and also in many local governments in the interwar years. Thus, instead of outlawing and repressing the major working-class groups, French society was strong enough to integrate labor organizations to the extent that revolution became more a rhetorical artifice than a real possibility. Communist and Socialist municipalities helped build and modernize the infrastructures necessary for production. French syndicalists slowly dropped their insistence on workers' control of the productive forces and pushed for greater consumption. Therefore, by 1936, France no longer contained that nucleus of revolutionary syndicalists who in Spain took control and developed the means of production. On the contrary, in Paris union militants would often encourage or acquiesce in the desires of the rank and file who wanted to avoid constraints of workspace and worktime. If the more developed French political and social system limited the revolutionary option, it likewise reduced the chances for a reactionary or fascist coup d'"štat.73 Despite all the problems of production and social unrest, extreme right-wing plots failed miserably during the French Popular Front, in direct contrast to the Spanish situation.74 The French officer class maintained its grudging loyalty to the republic, and sincere republicans proved capable of breaking major strikes and reducing refusals to labor.
Although resistance to work has accompanied all stages of industrialization, the character of the advanced productive forces, which the French bourgeoisie has continually developed from the second half of the nineteenth century, aggravated struggles against industrial labor. Workers wanted to escape from environments pictured in A nous la libert"š and Modern Times. Their revolts took forms of indifference, slow-downs, indiscipline, lateness, absenteeism, theft, and even sabotage and outright violence. After the electoral victory of the Popular Front, Parisian wage earners took advantage of the easing of repression by state and police to occupy factories and, later, to greatly intensify their struggles against work. At the end of 1938 a strong government, willing to use the forces at its disposal, was needed to restore labor discipline and to increase production. Thus political changes profoundly influenced both economic performance and social relations.
The examination of the Paris workers' struggles during the Popular Front questions assertions by some historians that the twentieth-century French working class had "accepted the industrial system" and that it had adapted to the factory.75 The process of adaptation to the industrial system is, of course, extremely complex. The French working class had adapted to the industrial system to the extent that it did not destroy the factories during its occupations and that it labored to acquire many of the goods and services produced by industrial society. Sabotage and destruction of property did however exist during and after the occupations. Violence was not infrequent at the end of 1936 and throughout 1937 and 1938. Although CGT membership jumped from around 800,000 in 1935 to nearly 4,000,000 in 1937-one sign of adaptation to the factory system-the union was often ignored or disobeyed by its rank and file. As we have seen, apathy toward union leaders and directives was not unknown during the Popular Front. As in Spain, union membership seldom meant ideological commitment but was rather "an expression of a new conformism."76 For many French workers, joining the union was a way to realize their hopes to work less and to consume more.
In short, coercion had to supplement adaptation in order to make workers work. At moments during the Popular Front and particularly at the end of 1938, the employers and the state realized that adaptation was insufficient, and they employed force-police, military, dismissals, legal proceedings, and court trials-to make workers labor harder and produce more. The weekend vanished, but only temporarily. Although it has now become a fixture of contemporary Western civilization and appears in the cinema of Jean-Luc Godard as the factory did in the 1930s films of Ren"š Clair and Chaplin, the weekend's painful birth and violent infancy were consequences of the workers' lack of adaptation to the factory system.
The Communists, the Socialists, and the CGT attempted to control the struggles against work by organizing the weekend and paid vacations and also by fighting for the forty-hour week. These parties and unions argued that the shorter workweek would help solve the problem of unemployment by putting the jobless to work. Nationally, the forty-hour week was only marginally successful in eliminating joblessness. In fact, unemployment began to decline dramatically after the failed general strike of 30 November 1938 when the forty-hour week was eradicated, arms spending increased, and private investment encouraged. It is difficult to determine which factor most stimulated the economy, although it is clear that the forty-hour week disregarded the specific French demographic situation in which the lack of skilled workers impeded production.
If only marginally successful in increasing employment nationally, the forty-hour workweek did force employers in the Paris region in many industries to hire more workers. But this larger work force did not lead to the increased production that the Popular Front assumed would raise the purchasing power of the workers. Indeed, employment of the jobless and corresponding measures limiting worktime led to higher costs that passed to consumers through inflation and heavier taxes. The wage increases won by the workers of the Paris region, which were also partly responsible for rising costs, were largely wiped out by this inflation. Higher prices resulted in strikes for increased pay and ultimately in greater social tensions.
The Left tried to mask the problems of the forty-hour week with productivist ideology. It claimed that the unemployed wanted only to work and that the bosses were sabotaging production. It refused to admit that many unemployed and employed workers too, for that matter, were more interested in securing a steady income than in improving output. Even when, on rare occasions, union and leftist political leaders concurred with the opposition's charges that the lack of skilled labor was harming output or that production had declined, the leaders' calls for more work and improved production went unheard. The Left refused to acknowledge the workers' active resistance to factory discipline and wage labor. Its press ignored the workers' violence toward their foremen and those colleagues who refused to join the union. The Left attempted to portray the workers as sober, hardworking, disciplined, and willing to sacrifice for the good of the patrie and, of course, production. Many historians of varying political beliefs and scholarly orientations have often continued this tradition and have therefore ignored social realities and essential aspects of working-class life.
1. The following is based on Serge Berstein, Histoire du parti radical (Paris, 1980-1982), 2:455-518. 2. See Alfred Sauvy, ed., Histoire "šconomique de la France entre les deux guerres (Paris, 1972), 2:286, for figures. See also Jean-Charles Asselain, Histoire "šconomique de la France (Paris, 1984), 2:66; Joel Colton, Compulsory Labor Arbitration in France (New York, 1951), pp. 82-86.
3. Ingo Kolboom, La revanche des patrons: Le patronat face au front populaire, trans. Jeanne Etor"š (Paris, 1986), p. 291.
4. L'Europe nouvelle, 9 April and 21 May 1938.
5. SNCASO, 27 September 1938, SNA.
6. La Journ"še industrielle, 20 November 1938.
7. Speech to CongrÅ s national des commissions paritaires d'offices publics de placement, 8 September 1938, AN, 39AS830/831.
8. Reynaud quoted in Jacques Delperri"š de Bayac, Histoire du front populaire (Paris, 1972), p. 396. 9. L'Europe nouvelle, 19 November 1938; Usine, 17 November 1938; Asselain, Histoire "šconomique, 2:68. 10. Reynaud quoted in Delperri"š de Bayac, Histoire du front populaire, p. 462. See also Paul Reynaud, Pourquoi ferait-on la grÅ ve? Discours radiodiffus"š, prononc"š le 26 novembre 1938 (Paris, 1938). 11. Jules Moch, Le front populaire: grande esp"šrance (Paris, 1971), p. 310.
12. ProcÅ s-verbal, 22 November 1938, AN, 39AS852; on Saturday closing, see letter from Groupement des industriels de la r"šgion de Saint-Denis, 8 July 1937, AN, 39AS803.
13. Syndicats, 31 August 1938.
14. Ibid., 14 September 1938; Le Travailleur du papier-carton, September 1938.
15. La Vie ouvriÅ re, 17 November and 3 November 1938.
16. Syndicats, 29 November 1938.
17. Ibid., 19 November 1938.
18. Le Travailleur des transports, December 1938.
19. Syndicats, 29 November 1938.
20. L'Echo des syndicats, (CFTC) December 1938. During the Popular Front, even working-class organizations had problems making workers appear on Monday. For example, to protest lay-offs from Chausson at Gennevilliers, on 21 August (1937?) Humanit"š called on all the workers of this firm- including those dismissed-to demonstrate at the company on Monday, 23 August. Only seven arrived (Note concernant l'incident Chausson, AN, 39AS836).
21. Usine, 24 November 1938; Humanit"š, 22 November 1938. Workers considered the new work schedule at Hutchinson-seven hours Monday through Friday and nine hours on Saturday-an insult.
22. Humanit"š, 25 November 1938; La Vie ouvriÅ re, 24 November 1938; SNCASO, 25 November 1938, SNA.
23. Report from M. B., 6 December 1938, AN, 91AQ116. Also see the photographs of weapons in this file; report of Pr"šfecture de police, January 1939, AN, F22760 and documents in AN, 91AQ117. 24. Guy Bourd"š, La d"šfaite du front populaire (Paris, 1977), p. 148.
25. Liste des individus arrË†t"šs ... l'usine Renault, AN, 91AQ116. Of those arrested, 194 were sentenced to prison terms-in some cases, of two months (Jacques Kergoat, La France du front populaire [Paris, 1986], p. 292).
26. Reports by police inspectors, December 1938, AN, 91AQ117.
27. Expos"š, AN, 91AQ117.
28. See the report by a management informer in AN, 91AQ16. Of the five CGT delegates listed in police reports in AN, 91AQ117, only one was a Communist militant and another was known as sympathetic to the PCF; the other three delegates were described as "nonpolitical." Estimates of PCF membership vary; Jean-Paul Depretto and Sylvie V. Schweitzer (Le communisme ... l'usine: Vie ouvriÅ re et mouvement ouvrier chez Renault, 1920-1939 [Paris, 1984], pp. 186, 230) offer figures of 120 members in May 1936, 1,300 in June 1936, 4,200 in September, 5,500 in December, and 7,675 in March 1937. The PCF's own numbers in Tout faire pour servir le peuple de France, 5e conf"šrence de la r"šgion Paris-ouest du PCF ... Gennevilliers (16-17 January 1937) and 6e conf"šrence r"šgionale ... Argenteuil (4-5 December 1937) put the membership at over 7,650 during 1937 and 6,000 in December 1936. Another firm, the Bouguenais aviation plant, had lower than expected PCF membership: of 700 workers, 60 were members of the PCF, according to R"šsum"š des rapports, (n.d.), SHAA, Z11607.
29. See Bertrand Badie, "Les grÅ ves du front populaire aux usines Renault," Le Mouvement social, no. 81 (October-December 1972); Robert Durand, La lutte des travailleurs de chez Renault (Paris, 1971). 30. Henri Heldman, "Le parti communiste fran"¡ais ... la conquË†te de la classe ouvriÅ re: Les cellules d'entreprise, 1924-1938" (ThÅ se, 3e cycle, University of Nanterre, 1979), pp. 194-213; Sections syndicales Hotchkiss, GIM.
31. See file on this manifestation in APP 1867. For an overview, see Julian Jackson, The Popular Front in France: Defending Democracy, 1934-1938 (Cambridge, 1988), p. 115.
32. Incidents de Clichy et de leurs cons"šquences, 19 March 1937, APP 1865.
33. Telegrams in APP 1866, dossier, GrÅ ve g"šn"šrale du 18-3-37; Historique de l'affaire Clarisse, AN, 91AQ16; Rapport des sections syndicales, AN, 91AQ16 (?); Le Jour, Le Journal, and Action fran"¡aise, 19 March 1937; letter to Le Populaire, 26 December 1938, AN, 91AQ16; Contre-manifestation, 15 March 1937, APP 1865.
34. Usine, 8 December 1938; SNCASO, 25 November 1938, SNA.
35. GrÅ ve g"šn"šrale 30-11-38, 3 December 1938, AN, F60640. This document asserts that only 191 in a work force of 10,842 in Parisian public transport obeyed the strike order; the figure seems too low. 36. GrÅ ve du 30 novembre 1938, AN, 39AS804.
37. Le Travailleur des transports, December 1938; Syndicats, 7 December 1938.
38. Humanit"š, 1 December 1938; R. Louzon, "De l'"štat d"šmocratique ... l'"štat autoritaire," La R"švolution prol"štarienne, 10 December 1938.
39. Jouhaux quoted in Bourd"š, La d"šfaite, p. 161.
40. Andr"š-Jean Tudesq, "L'utilisation gouvernementale de la radio," in Edouard Daladier: chef du gouvernement, ed. Ren"š R"šmond and Janine Bourdin (Paris, 1977), pp. 256-63.
41. Syndicats, 21 December 1938; La Vie ouvriÅ re, 8 December 1938; Le Travailleur du papier-carton, December 1938.
42. See Bourd"š, La d"šfaite, pp. 204-5. Nationally, participation was 72.48 percent in metallurgy and 80 percent in construction (Kergoat, France, p. 286).
43. Renseignements obtenus, 30 November 1938, AN, 91AQ16.
44. Note sur la grÅ ve partielle, 7 December 1938, AN, 91AQ115. Another report claimed that at Renault-Aviation and at Salmson, work continued normally on 30 November (Note, 23 January 1939, SHAA Z12947).
45. The following is based on SNCASO, 9 December 1938, SNA.
46. Cf. Bourd"š, La d"šfaite, pp. 223-28; cf. also Richard F. Kuisel, Capitalism and the State in Modern France (New York, 1981), p. 125.
47. Usine, 8 December 1938.
48. Exemples d'augmentation du rendement, AN, 91AQ116. Depretto and Schweitzer (Communisme, p. 268) assert that 843 union officials were dismissed at Renault.
49. Patrick Fridenson, Histoire des usines Renault (Paris, 1972), pp. 270-72.
50. Exemples d'augmentation du rendement, AN, 91AQ116.
51. Ibid.; Un horaire provisoire, AN, 91AQ15: "The Renault factories were practically shut down from noon on 24 November to 16 December 1938. During this period, backed-up orders could not be filled, and workers lost a considerable portion of their wages that they really needed, especially during this time of year. . . . A large number of our workers have signed a petition asking for overtime."
52. R"šponse au rapport fourni ... tous les groupements du front populaire, 20 December 1938, AN, 91AQ116; La Vie ouvriÅ re, 22 December 1938 and 9 February 1939.
53. Usine, 16 December 1938.
54. Note sur le d"šbrayage du 24 novembre 1938, AN, 91AQ115.
55. Robert Jacomet, L'armement de la France (1936-1939) (Paris, 1982), p. 271.
56. Bourd"š, La d"šfaite, p. 230; Antoine Prost, "Le climat social," in Edouard Daladier: Chef du gouvernement, ed. Ren"š R"šmond and Janine Bourdin (Paris, 1977), p. 109; Sauvy, ed., Histoire "šconomique, 2:338; Delperri"š de Bayac, Histoire du front populaire, pp. 513-15.
57. SNCASO, 9 December 1938, SNA.
58. SNCAN, 25 January 1939, SNA.
59. SNCASO, 9 December 1938, SNA.
60. Jacomet, L'armement, p. 287.
61. Emmanuel Chadeau, L'industrie a"šronautique en France, 1900-1950 (Paris, 1987), p. 313-22; Robert Frankenstein Le prix du r"šarmement fran"¡ais, 1935-1939 (Paris, 1982), pp. 237-38.
62. SNCASO, 25 January 1939, SNA. For nationalized aviation, see Liste nominative du personnel des "štablissements de l'arm"še de l'air exclu d"šfinitivement ... la suite de la grÅ ve du 30 novembre 1938, AN, F60640.
63. Letter, 26 December 1938, AN, 91AQ16.
64. See various reports of February 1937 in AN, F712966.
65. Bulletin du Syndicat professionnel et amicale des agents de maÅ’trise, techniciens, et employ"šs des usines Renault, February 1937; SACIAT (Syndicat et amicale des chefs de service, ing"šnieurs, agents de maÅ’trise et techniciens des industries m"štallurgiques, m"šcaniques et connexes), November-December 1938. On SACIAT see L'Ind"špendance syndicale, August-September 1937.
66. Philippe Machefer, Ligues et fascismes en France, 1919-1939 (Paris, 1974), pp. 91-104; Philippe Burrin, La d"šrive fasciste: Doriot, D"šat, Bergery, 1933-1945 (Paris, 1986), pp. 219-93.
67. Soci"št"š anonyme des transports, assembl"še g"šn"šrale du 12 juin 1939, AN, 91AQ52.
68. Agitation, 4 November 1936, APP 1870; Discours prononc"š par M. Jules Verger, 11 August 1937, AN, 39AS843; letter from Verger, pr"šsident de la chambre syndicale de l'entreprise "šlectrique de Paris, 12 August 1937, AN, 39AS843.
69. GrÅ ve g"šn"šrale possible des monteurs-"šlectriciens, 10 November 1936, APP 1870; 12 November 1936, APP 1870; GrÅ ve de monteurs-"šlectriciens, 19 November 1936, APP 1870.
70. The following is based on telegrams of November 1936 in APP 1870.
71. Suggestions des adh"šrents, 14 April 1938, GIM.
72. Pr"šfecture de police, cabinet du pr"šfet, 3 December 1936, APP 1870. On this handwritten note the date is partially illegible.
73. Cf. Robert Paxton, Vichy France (New York, 1982), which refers to "the incipient civil war" (p. 49), "the virtual French civil war" (p. 245), and "climate of civil war" (p. 246) that supposedly existed during the Popular Front.
74. See Delperri"š de Bayac, Histoire du front populaire, pp. 407-9, for a description of the failure of the plots of the Cagoule; Martin S. Alexander, "Hommes prË†ts ... tout accepter: The French Officer Corps and the Acceptance of Leftist Government, 1935-1937" (Paper presented at Popular Fronts Conference, University of Southampton, April 1986).
75. See Peter N. Stearns, Revolutionary Syndicalism and French Labor: A Cause without Rebels (New Brunswick, N.J., 1971) p. 106; Stearns, Lives of Labor: Work in a Maturing Industrial Society (New York, 1925); see also Edward Shorter and Charles Tilly, Strikes in France, 1830-1968 (London, 1974), pp. 67- 75. Many other authors-such as Claude Fohlen (La France de l'entre-deux-guerres [1917-1939], [Tournai, 1972], p. 157)-have written that the forty-hour week was a symbol to workers.
76. Michel Collinet, L'ouvrier fran"¡ais, esprit du syndicalisme (Paris, 1951), p. 118.
An examination of what I have called workplace utopianism will clarify workers' resistance to work during the Popular Fronts. The productivist utopian tradition grew during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and, although it retains a certain vigor, has gradually been breaking down in the twentieth. Given the differences between France and Spain, it is easy to understand why this tradition was born in France, the home of the Enlightenment and its carrier throughout Europe during the revolutionary and Napoleonic periods. In Spain, the influences of the Enlightenment and the revolutionary era were much weaker. In the nineteenth century Marx, Proudhon, and Bakunin built on the Enlightenment legacy and elaborated their own productivist utopias, which became the basis for the ideologies of organized working-class movements in both France and, somewhat later, Spain. Productivist utopianism has undergone questioning in developed European nations during this century, especially in France in 1968. The tradition's persistence in Spain beyond the 1930s indicated the country's distinct development.
The roots of workplace utopianism are in the Enlightenment's insufficiently critical conception of work. The philosophes linked labor to progress; civilization meant effort, not idleness. The illustrations of the Encyclop"šdie, like Spanish socialist realist art, idealized the productive forces and those who made them function. The shop-floor reality, of course, was more complex than either the images or ideology suggested. Historians have discovered that the eighteenth-century workshop held no golden age of labor. Class conflict, absenteeism, turnover, and drunkenness were common. Coercion by guilds and state power proved necessary to keep workers working.
Abb"š SieyÅ s's What Is the Third Estate? continued the glorification of labor and the producers. Idleness characterized the nobles, who were of no use to the nation. The nation meant, in fact, the useful classes, a concept that included everyone who worked, even intermediaries and ecclesiastics. In attacking the idleness of the nobility, SieyÅ s's pamphlet served immediate political and polemical purposes but, just as important, reflected French bourgeois dynamism and desires to create a new, more kinetic, nation that would include industrious foreigners. His vision outlined the revolutionary and Napoleonic project that would appeal to Europe of the middle classes. In Spain, however, sectors of the population, often led by clerics, fought a guerrilla against the French model. As has been seen, the bourgeois or liberal revolution remained stymied in the Iberian Peninsula. Instead, in the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century, Spain provided the model of the pronunciamiento to its former colonies and other areas of the Third World.
The anarchosyndicalists and Marxists built on the French revolutionary and Enlightenment inheritance. This is no place to examine in detail their attitudes to labor. It is enough to say that both groups tended to take Enlightenment and revolutionary positions on work to an extreme, more narrowly defining producers as wage laborers and eliminating bourgeois and clerics from the useful classes. Instead of merely identifying work with progress, civilization, and the nation, Marxists and anarchosyndicalists wished to construct their utopias in the workplace with the enthusiastic cooperation of the workers. The preceding pages have shown the difficulties, if not the impossibilities, of such a project. Nevertheless, varieties of Marxist and anarchosyndicalist thinking became the basis for the ideologies of working-class organizations in France and Spain. Concerned with the differences between these ideological rivals, historians have often ignored their shared workplace utopianism. It is important to point out that these ideologies were frequently elaborated in France or with reference to French conditions. The more advanced French social, economic, and political development in the nineteenth century stimulated reflection on the place of the proletariat in industrializing society. Paralleling their trading patterns, Spain often imported modern working-class ideologies from France. The workplace utopianism of Proudhon had an important impact on both Spanish anarchists and republicans; through the agency of the French socialists Paul Lafargue and Jules Guesde, Marxism was transported over the Pyrenees. The revolutionary movements persisted in Spain during the first third of the twentieth century as they were losing their impact in their countries of origin.
Although workplace utopians in France and Spain called on workers to take over the productive forces and construct a socialist or libertarian society, everyday contact with wage earners mitigated the Left's theoretical commitment to productivism. During the nineteenth century and when out of power in the twentieth, working-class organizations usually supported their own constituents' demands for less worktime. In fact, the organizations would probably have had fewer members if they had ignored workers' demands to avoid work. But the advocacy of idleness per se never became a publicly proclaimed platform of the Left. In the 1930s leisure was frequently defended in productivist terms as restoration after work or as effective employment of the jobless. The more subversive forms of resistance-absenteeism, malingering, and sabotage-were officially ignored, except in situations like the Spanish Revolution and, to a much lesser extent, the French Popular Front, when the parties and the unions of the Left assumed some responsibility for the smooth functioning of the productive forces and were thus forced to combat resistance. Even in this period, complaints by union and party leaders concerning the quantity and quality of work carried out by the rank and file were never sufficient to challenge the ultimate goal of taking over and developing the productive forces. For social historians, this lack of a public political articulation of resistance to work by working-class organizations does not lessen its significance. Rather than dismiss the hidden or write it off as secondary, historians must analyze the reasons for the absence of a clear statement on sabotage, absenteeism, lateness, and malingering. Like theft or alcohol and drug consumption, resistance to work arouses fears and possesses a subversive side that invites repression. In societies-such as those of Barcelona and Paris during the Popular Fronts-officially devoted to the development of the productive forces, refusal to work borders on the criminal. Historians cannot assume that the discourse of the parties and unions of the Left truly reflected the actions and beliefs of the workers; organizations had their own reasons for ignoring and concealing the struggles against labor. After all, the unions depended on the workplace for their organizational existence, and Socialist and Communist parties advocated the control of the productive forces, not their destruction. Their rhetoric about the potentialities of labor was not wholly disinterested. Thus, perhaps inevitably, workplace utopianism dominated the Left.
Yet even in the nineteenth century, dissident voices were heard. The most famous was Paul Lafargue's Droit ... la paresse (1880), which, it has been said, has been translated into more languages than any other socialist work except for the Communist Manifesto. The pamphlet remains a vigorous and humorous defense of idleness, but it reveals a partial, perhaps distorted, view of the nineteenth-century French working class. Its often forgotten original subtitle was "A Refutation of the 'Right to Work' of 1848." Lafargue believed that the demand for employment articulated during the revolution of 1848 represented the wishes of an implicitly unitary working class. Like other Marxists, he did not see that the demands of working-class parties and unions often disguised more than they revealed. Lafargue interpreted the demand for work literally and therefore presented a questionable portrait of wage earners. According to the French socialist leader, the workers, possessed by a "strange madness," loved labor. A "resigned" and "guileless working class" permitted itself to be indoctrinated by the bourgeois dogmas of effort and abstinence. Lafargue and many others who followed him ignored the nineteenth-century workers' struggles against labor, which could be seen even in the famous national workshops of 1848. He misjudged the workers, most of whom would not have objected to his vision of a society where the machines did the hard labor once performed by human beings. His cybernetic utopia, in which wage labor would be abolished, suggests a way beyond workshop utopianism. In the twentieth century, the questioning of work continued. During the Popular Fronts, leisure (not idleness or laziness) acquired a certain legitimacy, especially in France, where a de facto Ministry of Leisure (with no Spanish equivalent) was established. However other forms of resistance to work remained hidden until after 1968. Particularly in France, that year symbolized a young generation's desire to change everyday life and its confrontation with accepted Western values. Given this context, one of the slogans of the French May-Never work-may not be less shocking but is more clear. One should note that the questioning of productivist utopianism (which has survived 1968 in its councilist or democratic forms) occurred first in a nation that had developed into a consumer society. The critique of labor was slower to arrive in Spain, preoccupied in 1968 with political protest against an authoritarian system and only beginning to explore consumerism. Only after 1975-in Spain's model of a transition to consumerism and democracy that replaced the old model of pronunciamiento-would criticism of workplace utopianism emerge. Although signs of its breakdown have multiplied after 1968, the productivist utopian tradition has continued to influence Western conceptions of work. Not all labor historians want to build the utopia in the workplace, but most share a positive or insufficiently critical conception of work. Marxists view the working class as desiring to take over the productive forces and make itself by overcoming its undisciplined, backward, or immature behavior. Modernization theorists argue that workers' resistance will inevitably disappear during the adaptation to a modern workplace. Culturalists deemphasize resistance by claiming that workers find meaning in wage labor. They argue that the inculcation of the values of consumption, of responsibility, of patriotic and political conviction motivate wage earners. Yet these seductive forces proved inadequate in the 1930s and had to be complemented by forms of coercion. In the workplace, managers formulated strict rules and controls to improve output. On a larger scale the repressive powers of states and governments countered struggles against work.
Thus, an analysis of resistance contributes to an understanding of a key function of the state in industrial societies and to the conclusion that one of the most vital functions of the state is to make workers work. During the 1930s, a weakened or permissive state encouraged resistance, whereas a repressive state -bourgeois or proletarian-reduced refusals to work. The growth and use of state power in Barcelona and Paris during the Popular Fronts cast doubt on the argument of the workplace utopians that in socialism or libertarian communism the state will wither away. Accepting labor uncritically and believing that it provided meaning for workers, the productivist utopians logically concluded that the state would be superfluous once workers had taken control of the productive forces. Yet the actual historical experience of the Left in power in Paris and Barcelona questions such a vision. Despite the presence of working-class parties and unions in government, workers continued to resist constraints of workspace and worktime, thereby provoking state intervention to increase production. Historians may conclude that the state can be abolished only when Lafargue's cybernetic utopia has been realized.