French Communism and Global Revolution

Communism in France is a longstanding political tradition, with roots in the Paris Commune and the radicalism that both led and fed off its revolutionary fervor. Following the failure of the Commune due to suppression by the regular French Army during "La semaine sanglante" ("The Bloody Week") in 1871, French socialism remained fragmented until 1905, when, at the behest of the Second International, the Parti Socialiste de France and the more moderate Parti Socialiste Francais united into a single party, the Section Francaise de l’Internationale Ouvriere , or SFIO (although ideological disputes with the heavily anarcho-syndicalist Confederation Genererale du Travail, or C.G.T., France’s first trade union center, remained). Fractures in the French labor movement arose during World War I, when socialists opposing or supporting the war found themselves at odds with one another. Following Lenin’s establishment of the Communist (Third) International, or Comintern, a majority of members resigned from the SFIO to establish the Parti Communiste Francais (PCF), but it was only in 1921 that the Party described itself as the French Section of the Communist International (SFIC). Today, almost one hundred years later, the French Communist Party remains an important political force within France, although its influence has waned since the 1960s.

This exhibit aims to highlight important materials on French communism, including both primary and secondary sources that are held in the UT Austin Libraries’ collection. Materials were selected from pro-communist, anti-communist, and non-communist left perspectives so as to illustrate the varied responses to—and defenses of—communism in francophone literature. UT Austin’s collections are particularly rich in documenting French Communism; for further reading, and to see additional holdings in the UT Libraries, please consult the list of links below. Those interested in other political ephemera and propaganda at the UT Libraries might also see Soviet Pamphlets: Revolution and War.

Citation: Goodale, Ian, curator. (2019). French Communism and Global Revolution https://utlibrariescollectionhighlights.omeka.net/exhibits/show/french-communism

Further Reading:

Adereth, M. The French Communist Party: a Critical History (1920-1984). Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1984.

Godfrey, E. Drexel. The Fate of the French Non-Communist Left. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1955.

Mortimer, Edward. The Rise of the French Communist Party, 1920-1947. London: Faber & Faber, 1984.

Rémond René. The Right Wing in France from 1815 to De Gaulle. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1971.

Click here for additional books on French communism in the UTL collection.