Workers and Communists in France analyzes the relationship between the Parti Communiste Français (PCF) and Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT), France’s largest and most influential trade union organization. All trade union movements in advanced capitalist societies have had to develop mechanisms to achieve their goals within the labor market and the political realm. The nature of such mechanisms varies dramatically from society to society. George Ross examines a trade union movement whose philosophy and actions are derived from the political and organizational perspectives of the Communist Third International tradition. Workers and Communists in France submits the modern history of the relationship between the PCF and the CGT to the complex test of a cost-benefit analysis. How well has the linkage between party and trade union worked for French Communism, for French workers, for the French left, and for French society?
Since World War II, the ties between the PDF and the CGT have enabled them to promote and perpetuate sharp notions of class and class conflict among French workers and French society in general. The CGT has been the central agency through which French Communism has shaped debate about the nature of French society, a debate with profound effects on the structure of French politics and intellectual life. On the other hand, the basic contradiction between the Communist Party’s desire to use the CGT for partisan purposes and the CGT’s need to generate mass support has never been resolved. This failure may have followed from the very structure of the relationship between the PCF and the CGT, as well as from consistently inappropriate strategic calculations by the PCF.
Ross concludes that the Communist Third International's concept of the link between party and trade union is becoming obsolete. The future of Communism in France may well depend, therefore, on a reappraisal of the party’s relationship with organized labor.
This title is part of UC Press's Voices Revived program, which commemorates University of California Press’s mission to seek out and cultivate the brightest minds and give them voice, reach, and impact. Drawing on a backlist dating to 1893, Voices Revived makes high-quality, peer-reviewed scholarship accessible once again using print-on-demand technology. This title was originally published in 1982.