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France: The Dark Years,

Julian Jackson

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780198207061

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198207061.001.0001

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Rethinking the Republic: 1890–1934

Rethinking the Republic: 1890–1934

(p.43) 2 Rethinking the Republic: 1890–1934
France: The Dark Years, 1940–1944

Julian Jackson

Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter surveys the long history of dissatisfaction with the Third Republic and its institutions. Some of this dissatisfaction originated within the Republican mainstream from as early as the 1890s; some came from arch-conservatives; some came from the post-war generation for whom the heroic early years of the Republic were ancient history. It shows that if Vichy’s renunciation of the Republic was partly a victory of reactionary conservatism, it also represented much of what was best and brightest in French politics.

Keywords:   Third Republic, French politics, Vichy, conservatism, French Republicanism

The Vichy regime styled itself the ‘État français’ (French State). This did not define what it was, but it signalled clearly what it was not: the Third Republic, founded in 1875, was dead. The busts of Marianne, symbol of the Republic, were replaced in town halls by statues of Pétain; ‘Liberty, Equality Fraternity’ gave way to ‘Work, Family, patrie’.

It was not only Vichy which rejected the Republic in 1940. Many early resisters felt little loyalty to it either. De Gaulle initially refused to identify himself with the defunct regime or with republicanism in general. For a year, the broadcasts of his Free French movement were introduced by the slogan ‘Honour and patrie’ not ‘Liberty Equality, Fraternity’. The Republic had few friends in 1940.

This was not altogether surprising in light of the defeat of 1940. The Second Empire, which had triumphed in the plebiscite of May 1870, collapsed four months later in the defeat of Sedan. But, unlike the Empire, or the Weimar Republic, the French Third Republic had put down deep roots in French society. It had been in existence for sixty-five years. It symbols—the tricolour, the Marseillaise, Bastille Day—were intimately bound up with French national identity. How could this heritage be so totally repudiated in 1940? One reason was the polarization of French politics after February 1934 when anti-parliamentary riots took place in Paris. That polarization, which forms the immediate background to 1940, will be considered in the next chapter. But there was a longer tradition of disaffection from the Republic which stretched back beyond 1934. One historian has even asserted, with some exaggeration, that the Republic was ‘culturally dead’ in 1900.1

Critics of the Republic could be found not only among the doctrinaire anti-Republicans like Charles Maurras, but also within the Republican consensus. Vichy was the victory not only of the Republic’s enemies, but also of those of (p.44) its friends who despaired of reforming it. In short, the capitulation of France’s elites to anti-Republican values in 1940 had a long prehistory.

Before 1914: ‘La Fin des notables?’

Almost as soon as the liberal conservative Orleanists had accepted the Republic in the 1870s, they wondered if they had made a mistake. The crisis of the Republic was almost as old as the Republic itself. The Constitution of 1875, in which the influence of the Lower House—the Chamber of députés—was counterbalanced by a President and Senate, had embodied the Orleanist ideal of checks and balances. In practice, however, from the early 1880s, the Chamber emerged as supreme: the President became a mere cipher. This was not the Republic in which the Orleanist liberals had believed, and they started to discuss how the situation could be remedied.2 Most of the proposals to reform the Republic in the inter-war years can be traced back to the 1890s—to the writings, for example, of the liberal conservative parliamentarian, journalist, publicist, and academic Charles Benoist (1861–1936). Author of books like La Crise de l’État moderne (1895) and L’Organisation de la démocratie (1900), Benoist argued that the dominance of the democratically elected Chamber over the Senate and Presidency had betrayed the spirit of the constitution. The democratization of politics was creating a chasm between France’s political institutions and her bourgeois elites, between her political leaders and those social groups which had professional competence and social standing—les compétences, as they were described.

Benoist’s ideas appealed not only to those liberal conservatives nostalgic for a world they had lost, but also to new republican elites which had come through the Paris Bar or the École libre des sciences politiques (Sciences Po). Such people dominated the higher reaches of the administration, staffed ministerial cabinets, and sometimes entered politics. But they had little in common with the average député or with the rural notables and lay schoolteachers who were the ballast of the regime in the provinces. This cultural chasm between republican elites and the parliamentary rank and file deepened after the turn of the century when the Dreyfus Affair brought to power the Radical Party, representing the petite bourgeoisie of provincial France. Benoist’s worst fears were realized: the Radicals heralded the advent of the professional politician. In 1906, parliamentary pay was raised from 9,000 francs (where it had been since 1875) to 15,000 francs. From this period dated the stereotype of the député as a provincial windbag, usually from the Midi, good for nothing except electioneering and intrigue: the Republic of ‘country vets’ had replaced the Republic of compétences.3 To remedy this (p.45) situation, Benoist and other centre-right critics of the system proposed a whole battery of reforms: proportional representation, shorter parliamentary sessions, restriction of the right of députés to initiate financial legislation, reinforcement of the authority of the President of the Republic.

Criticism of the parliamentary Republic did not only come from the centre-right. There was also a centre-left critique exemplified by Robert de Jouvenel’s La République de camarades (1914), a savage attack on parliamentarians as a caste. De Jouvenel was one of a group of progressive Radicals arguing for a republic technically equipped to deal with the problems of the modern world. This critique, which could be described as proto-technocratic, overlapped with the ‘Orleanist’ one only in requiring the Republic to be reconnected with those social groups who had professional expertise and authority.

Such critics of the Republic argued from within the Republican consensus: they wanted the Republic to work better. This distinguished them from the uncompromising anti-Republicanism of Charles Maurras’s movement, Action française. Maurras came to prominence in 1898 when he wrote an article defending the ‘patriotic forgery’ of the officer who had fabricated a document to incriminate Dreyfus. Apart from a genius for such provocations, Maurras’s real achievement was to synthesize royalism, nationalism, and Catholicism into a single doctrine which he called ‘integral nationalism’. Convinced of France’s decadence, he believed that the solutions must be political; his slogan was ‘politique d’abord’. The keystone of his doctrine was the ideal of classical order. For Maurras, who came from Provence, started as a literary critic, and liked to think of himself as a poet, France represented the continuation of Mediterranean classical civilization, and the antithesis of the cultural values of her hereditary foe Germany. France’s enemies were individualism and romanticism—whether in literature, politics (the French Revolution), or religion (Protestantism).

Maurras’s model was the pre-revolutionary ancien régime. The antidote to romantic disintegration was the restoration of the monarchy and the authority of the Catholic Church (although Maurras was himself a non-believer). Maurras distinguished between what he called the ‘pays légal’—the formal structure of Republican institutions—and the ‘pays réel’—the true France of community, family, region, and workplace. Maurras also wanted to exclude from influence what he called the four ‘confederated’ states sapping France’s unity: Protestants, Freemasons, Jews, and méteques (half-breeds). Nonetheless Maurras claimed not to be a racist—racism was German—and he justified the exclusion of the Jews on grounds not of race but cultural inassimilability.

Action française did not fight elections before 1918. Its influence derived from the construction of an intellectual counterculture based upon its newspapers, its institute, and its publishing house. As Maurras used to put it about his activities at this time: ‘we were working with 1950 in mind’.4 Although not all Maurras’s followers subscribed to every detail of his system—many were (p.46) monarchists only in the most perfunctory sense—intellectually he reinvigorated a monarchical tradition living on nostalgia and sentiment. As he wrote in his Enquête sur la monarchie: ‘The necessity of monarchy is demonstrated like a theorem. Once the wish to defend our French homeland is admitted as a postulate, everything unfolds, everything follows ineluctably.’5 Maurras made it intelligent to be monarchist, or at least anti-Republican. He had a considerable following among students of the Latin Quarter.

Once Maurras had worked out his doctrine, he had nothing new to say. But he went on saying it for forty years, as if the deafness afflicting him since childhood cut him off from the sounds of the modern world, immuring him in his certainties. This bestowed an aspect of impregnability and granite-like coherence on his thought. The conservative novelist Paul Bourget once declared that Action française, along with the British House of Lords, the Papacy, and the Prussian General Staff, was one of the four European fortresses against revolution.6

One surprising initiative taken by Action française was the attempt to build bridges to the working class through the ‘Cercle Proudhon’, an economic and social study group, created in 1911 by Georges Valois. Unusual among Action française members in displaying an interest in social problems, Valois hoped to win syndicalist leaders to the monarchist cause. Although attracting few workers, Valois did win over some syndicalist intellectuals. Even if the Cercle Proudhon proved abortive, it demonstrated that there was some common ground between the ultra-conservative critique of the Republic and the syndicalist one. Both deplored the individualistic Republican ideal of the abstract citizen. Against Republican individualism, Maurrasianism celebrated the ‘organic’ communities of the ancien régime, and the syndicalists the community of the workplace.

Syndicalism was rooted in the Proudhonian ideal of the moral dignity of labour. As a producer in control of his labour, an individual obtained real freedom as opposed to the formal freedom of the Republican citizen-voter. Syndicalists believed in the self-sufficiency of labour to protect working-class interests, and were suspicious of all politicians, even Socialist ones. Syndicalism was successful in France because the working class received so little from the Republic that it made sense to opt out of formal politics entirely. The syndicalist utopia was a decentralized society of producers where the State would lose its raison d’être and disappear. This vision was plausible in France where artisans and small-scale industry were numerous. Since 1906, the French trade-union federation, the CGT, had been committed to the most revolutionary version of syndicalism, believing its objectives could be achieved through direct action: the general strike. Although the number of syndicalists genuinely committed to revolution was diminishing before the war, the broader syndicalist vision, especially the distrust of politics, remained influential. It appealed to those on the left who felt that politicians had betrayed the idealism of the Dreyfus Affair.

(p.47) No one better exemplified the mood of post-Dreyfusard disillusion than the writer Daniel Halévy. Halévy is particularly interesting because he stands at the confluence of many of the intellectual currents described above: his entire career is emblematic of the drift away from Republican values by a part of France’s elite. He was born into a grand Parisian haut-bourgeois family, son of the librettist Ludovic Halévy. This was a deeply Orleanist milieu—‘you belong to one of the most noble families of the old Orleanist Republican tradition’ wrote Péguy—and when in 1930 Halévy published his classic book La Fin des notables, an elegiac history of the passing of the Orleanist era in the 1870s, he was casting a nostalgic eye upon the world of his childhood.

The turning point of Halévy’s life was the Dreyfus Affair. Convinced of Dreyfus’s innocence, he collaborated closely with Péguy on the Cahiers de la quinzaine. Although much of his later life was spent memorializing Péguy, the hero of his youth, their actual relations cooled after Halévy wrote his Apologie pour notre passé (1910) questioning whether the Dreyfusards had not been duped. It was this book which gave rise to Péguy’s famous Notre jeunesse which defended the battles of their youth, while sharing the same sense of betrayal.

At the time of the Affair Halévy defined himself as a Socialist, and he was involved in the Universités populaires where intellectuals sought to bring culture to the people. The ‘people’ in whom Halévy believed were sturdy independent artisans not the modern proletariat. His other idol, after Péguy, was Proudhon. ‘Proudhon’s socialism’, wrote Halévy, ‘respects natural groups, the family…the old artisanal France which Péguy had known and which he defended.’ Halévy’s ‘people’ also included the peasantry. An intrepid walker, he wrote four books recounting his visits to the countryside and his observations on the peasantry. In the first of these, in 1907, he was a young man of the left looking for pioneers of peasant syndicalism; by the last, in 1934, he was writing an elegy for a disappearing world, which represented the only barrier against modern uniformity and proletarian levelling.

By the 1930s, Halévy was a pessimistic conservative, displaying even a cautious admiration of Maurras. He became a formidable anti-Republican polemicist. In books like Décadence de la liberté (1931) and La République des comités (1934), which are contemporaneous with his historical evocations of the last days of Orleanism, he denounced a political system dominated by professional politicians operating through Masonic committees. The link between Halévy’s nostalgia for the ‘Republic of Notables’ and his cult of the independent artisan and peasant, between his Orleanism and his Proudhonism, is the idea that both incarnated a real France from which the Republic had cut itself off. By 1940, he was ready to welcome the Vichy regime as the last chance to preserve that France.7

(p.48) The 1920s: The Maurrassian Moment

Halévy’s journey from Dreyfus to Vichy, with Péguy and Proudhon as its central threads, started well before 1918, but it was certainly accelerated by the upheaval of the Great War. The consequences of the war for republicanism were, however, more ambiguous than this single example suggests. After all, the Republic had proved effective enough to win the war. While Willhelmine Germany had succumbed to defeat under the military dictatorship of Hindenburg, in France the war was won under the leadership of the intransigently Republican Georges Clemenceau, a leader whom even Maurras could admire. Did this mean that anti-Republicans were now ready to swallow their historic objections to the Republic?

Even after 1918, there were conservative families for whom the Republic remained the incarnation of evil. Indeed in the Vendée there are still families today who will not receive descendants of people who bought biens nationaux during the Revolution.8 During the inter-war years, the family of the future historian Philippe Ariès left Paris on 14 July to avoid being present in the capital on this revolutionary day.9 In 1919, the government was worried enough about the susceptibilities of anti-Republicans to abandon its idea of burying the Unknown Soldier in the Panthéon because the building was too identified with the Republic.10 Instead he was buried under the Arc de Triomphe.

Nonetheless the war did give the iconography of the Republic greater legitimacy than it had enjoyed before 1914. The victory parade of 14 July 1919, with Foch and Joffre at its head, displaced the central axis of the Bastille Day celebrations from the poor quarters of eastern Paris to the Champs-Élysées in the west: 14 July 1919 celebrated not the victory of republicanism over reaction but France’s victory over Germany.11 Similarly the Marseillaise received its apotheosis during the war, sung on the Marne as it had been at Valmy: in 1917 it was the monarchist Louis de Joantho who published a book entitled Triomphe de la Marseillaise.12

These developments can be read in two ways: after 1918, the symbols of Republicanism were less contested than they had ever been before, but the meanings attached to them became less precise.13 Clemenceau may have triumphantly (p.49) reasserted the primacy of Republican government over military power, but the military had also emerged from the war with unprecedented prestige. In 1914–15 the cult of Joffre had reached unbelievable proportions, to be equalled in the twentieth century only by that of Pétain after 1940. Pétain and Foch had also emerged from the war with titanic reputations. The funerals of Foch in 1929 and Joffre in 1931 were massive occasions on a scale not witnessed since that of Victor Hugo in 1885. In short, although it is often pointed out that after 1918 the French people hated war, it is less often noted that this was not the same thing as hating generals.

All this helps to explain the paradox that while the republican consensus had never seemed wider than after 1919, the early 1920s represented the apogee of influence of Action française.14 Because Action française was not a conventional electoral movement, it is difficult to quantify its influence, but undoubtedly Maurras’s prestige had never been higher. His nationalistic Germanophobia had fitted into the wartime ‘Sacred Union’. During and after the war Maurras enjoyed a friendly correspondence with the respectable conservative politician Poincaré; André Malraux in 1923 called Maurras ‘one of the great intellectual forces of today’. In the mid-1920s, the paper’s circulation was about 100,000, and Action française historians like Pierre Gaxotte and Jacques Bainville were best-selling authors. Action française was well represented in the Académie française to which Maurras himself was elected in 1938. Maurras’s defence of classicism chimed in with the post-war classical revival. In his book Défense de l’occident (1927) the young Maurrassian Henri Massis extended this into a defence not just of French values but of the entire tradition of western civilization. The writer Jacques Laurent, who joined Action française in the 1920s, wrote subsequently that he was not just joining a party but opting for civilization itself. One of Massis’s favourite targets was André Gide and the literary individualism of the NRF.15

It is generally argued that Action française’s influence began to decline after 1926 when it was condemned by the Vatican as part of a papal policy to reconcile Catholicism with democracy in France. The Vatican decision affected Action française’ s readership in conservative Catholic circles. At the same time, younger members of the movement felt that Maurras was more talk than action—‘Inaction française’ was their term—and they started to look to more radical movements of the right. But the long-term effects of Maurras’s post-war influence should not be underestimated for two reasons. First, the Maurrassian counterculture, comparable in its influence on the right to that of communism on the left thirty years later, inoculated many young right-wing intellectuals against the attraction of republicanism. Action française was often the apprenticeship in a (p.50) journey towards different varieties of extremist politics, fascism in some cases (Robert Brasillach, Lucien Rebatet), communism in others (Claude Roy, Claude Morgan, and Roger Vailland). As one commentator wrote in 1935: ‘beyond its real, visible and measurable strength, Action française also disposes of the strength provided by all those who have left it’.16 When Claude Roy joined the Communist Party during the Occupation he was struck by how many former Action française intellectuals he encountered.17

Secondly, the new ‘respectability’ which drove Maurras’s younger disciples to more exciting shores made him more acceptable to elements of the Republican centre. Although Maurras was a counter-revolutionary and reactionary thinker, Maurrassianism spread like a stain through French liberal conservatism after 1919: 1940 was not so much the victory of ‘reaction’ over liberal conservatism as proof of how much the latter had already conceded to the former.

This was true of Charles Benoist who announced his conversion to Action française in 1925, and became the tutor of the Royalist pretender, the Comte de Paris. Benoist did not live to participate in the Vichy regime. Someone who did was Lucien Romier who joined the government in 1941 to become one of the ministers most trusted by Pétain. In the inter-war years, Romier was one of the pillars of liberal bourgeois opinion. He was both a popular historian specializing in the wars of religion and a leading journalist who contributed regularly to Le Figaro and Le Temps, the two leading papers of moderate conservatism. Romier was alarmed at many aspects of post-war French society: depopulation, the new woman, artistic anarchy. Although seeing himself as a liberal Republican, in 1924 he wrote a pamphlet calling for an aristocracy of fonctionnaires to save the Republic from its crisis of authority. His book Explication de notre temps (1925) noted with approval that Maurras’s ideas had an audience which went beyond Action française.18

Another liberal conservative who ended up at Vichy was Joseph Barthélemy who served as Minister of Justice from 1941 to 1943. Like Romier, Barthélemy was a regular contributor to Le Temps in the inter-war years. He was a highly respected jurist who wrote prolifically on constitutional matters. In 1918 his book Le Problème de la compétence dans la démocratie (The Problem of Competence in Democracy) confronted what many liberal conservatives believed to be the fundamental issue facing the Republic. Barthélemy had been elected to parliament on a centre-right ticket in 1918, but he was defeated in 1924, and all subsequent attempts at re-election were unsuccessful. Like Romier he was increasingly unhappy about mass culture. ‘Democracy’, he wrote in 1934, ‘involves the advent of new social groups [nouvelles couches]…It is another world. It is the end of the notables.’ Nonetheless until 1940 Barthélemy remained (p.51) committed to Republican institutions, wanting only to rationalize them. In his memoirs written in 1944 he commented on the ‘contradictory destiny of a man who has all his life defended liberty and then makes his ministerial debut in an authoritarian regime in which liberty suffers the most complete eclipse that it had known for centuries’. This may have been a ‘contradiction’, but it had a logic, and did not involve a radical discontinuity with the position which Barthélemy had adopted in the inter-war years.19

1919–1928: Missed Opportunities?

The trajectories of such people as Romier, Barthélemy, and Benoist were all different in detail, but one step in their progressive disillusion with the Republic was the belief that an opportunity for reform had been missed after the war.

It is often suggested that the mood of politics after 1919 was nostalgia for the golden age of the belle époque. But in many circles the war had fuelled the call for reform. On the centre-right, several organizations were founded after 1918 to promote reform: the National Association for the Organization of Democracy (ANOD); the League for a New Democracy; the Republican Party of National Reorganization otherwise known as the IVth Republic Movement.20 These groups shared various keywords: organization, modernization, institutional reform (a stronger executive), efficiency, technical competence. Arguing that France must apply the lessons learnt from the war, they cited the examples of Walter Rathenau who had organized the German war economy; F. W. Taylor, the American proponent of the scientific organization of labour; and the Lloyd George war cabinet.

Although the impact of these reforming groups must not be exaggerated, they attracted some bright young political figures: ANOD claimed to have the support of ninety-two députés. Nonetheless, little came of their hopes. The 1919 Parliament was dominated by a massive right-wing majority—the Bloc national—more interested in increasing the influence of the Church than in institutional reforms. Governments were absorbed by the intractable problems of reconstruction, reparations, inflation, and budget deficits. The reformers also lacked a charismatic leader. The only major politician to take up their ideas was the Socialist turned conservative Alexandre Millerand. But having been elected president of the Republic in 1920 he lost interest. When Millerand returned to the idea of constitutional reform in 1923, proposing a strengthening of the power of the presidency, it was because the left seemed likely to win the forthcoming elections. This gave Millerand’s advocacy of constitutional reform a partisan hue, and he was forced to resign when the left returned to power in 1924.

(p.52) Reforming themes were also popular on the left after 1919. The future Socialist leader Léon Blum had written during the war on the need to streamline the working of government; the Radical leader Édouard Herriot published two massive tomes on the need for reform. The left in general took up the ideas of the Compagnons de l’université nouvelle, a group of young intellectuals who had served on Pétain’s staff in 1917. They too were preoccupied by the inadequacies of France’s governing elites, but their solution centred on education not institutional reform. They proposed breaking down the barriers between the education of bourgeois children and the rest by creating an école unique where all children would receive a common education until the age of 13.21

Another source of reforming ideas on the left was the CGT Here the emphasis was not on institutional, political, or educational reforms, but on a restructuring of the political economy. Trade-union experience of co-operation with government and employers in organizing war production had accelerated the CGT’s drift from revolutionary syndicalism. In 1918, under the influence of its leader Léon Jouhaux, the CGT produced a ‘minimum programme’ which demanded the nationalization of key industries and the creation of a national economic council composed of representatives of unions, consumers, employers, and the State. This new reformism was not a conversion to British labourism. The CGT remained committed to the syndicalist conception of the primacy of economics over politics. The nationalized industries were not to be run by the State, but by producers (workers, technicians, managers) in co-operation with consumers and representatives of the State; the National Economic Council was to represent an integration of economic forces into decision making. The change from the pre-war period was that syndicalists now incorporated employers into their vision of reform and were ready to achieve it by gradualist means. The suspicion of politics remained.22

The left-wing reformers were as unsuccessful in achieving their aims as those on the centre-right. The elections of 1924 were won by the left Cartel coalition of Radicals and Socialists, headed by Herriot, but its reforming ambitions quickly foundered. There were squabbles between the coalition partners: the Socialists, although supporting Herriot’s government, would not join it because this represented too sharp a break with Marxist orthodoxy. The government wasted much time antagonizing the Church. Its main problem was the chronic financial crises which had dogged its predecessors. The Cartel coalition broke up in 1926, and the Radicals deserted the Socialists to ally with the right. The Cartel’s failure was a terrible blow to left-wing opinion: it had aroused as many expectations as the Popular Front was to do twelve years later.

As for the CGT’s ideas, these had little chance of being accepted after the failure of massive strikes that occurred in 1919 and 1920. The CGT leadership (p.53) had not wanted the strikes, but it was forced to back them. After they collapsed, the CGT’s political influence was negligible for the rest of the decade, killing Jouhaux’s hopes of being recognized as a partner by the government. In 1925, the Cartel did set up a national economic council, representing various economic interests, but this body was given only a limited consultative role, and paid only lip-service to syndicalist ideas.23

The ‘Jeunes Équipes’: 1928–1930

The reforming themes returned to prominence towards the end of the decade. After 1926, financial stability was restored and the economy was booming. It seemed possible to look beyond the immediate horizon of the next financial crisis. One centre of reforming ideas was the organization Redressement français, set up by the businessman Edmond Mercier in 1925.24 As a leading figure in France’s electricity industry, Mercier represented the most dynamic sector of the French economy. Impressed by a visit to America in 1925, he founded Redressement français to propagate the gospel of modernization. The organization included mainly businessmen, but also journalists and publicists, one of the most active of whom was Lucien Romier. The dominant idea was the need for economic rationalization to increase production. French businessmen were urged to renounce their congenital individualism. Modernization was essential if France was to remain a first-rank power.

The Redressement never became more than an elite pressure group but its neo-Saint-Simonian rhetoric enjoyed considerable vogue. Its politics were less clear. Its slogan was ‘Enough politics, we want results’, but funds were distributed to sympathetic candidates at the 1928 elections. The Redressement’s study of constitutional reform was the work of Raphaël Alibert, an Action française sympathizer, but his ideas were not universally shared in the organization. Mercier himself was a Protestant, married to a niece of Dreyfus, and not drawn to traditional conservatism. Nonetheless his vision of politics was essentially elitist: government by engineers and experts.

Mercier’s politics consisted of a pious hope that disinterested men of goodwill would unite around his ideas. He was encouraged by the fact that the Redressement’s call to modernize France’s economy coincided with an intense debate within the rising political generations about modernizing her political alignments after the post-war failures of the right and left. Such views were articulated by the journalist Jean Luchaire, whose newspaper Notre temps, founded in 1927, became the mouthpiece of what came to be called the ‘Jeunes Équipes’. In 1928, Luchaire published a manifesto for his generation which he called Une génération réaliste (A Realist Generation). For Luchaire his generation (p.54) was born on 2 August 1914. Disappointed by the failure of the returning veterans to prevent a ‘return to the old world’, the generation was freethinking but not anticlerical, believing that religion was no longer a political issue; it was convinced that laissez-faire was over and that France needed a more efficient state; it was Republican but believed that the existing institutions needed reform.25

Some of the Jeunes Équipes joined the Radical Party where they became known as the ‘Young Radicals’. They included the brightest political figures of their generation—Pierre Mendès France, Bertrand de Jouvenel, Pierre Cot, and Jacques Kayser. They adopted the Party’s rising star, Édouard Daladier, as their figurehead. But the Young Radicals shared no common view. Some wanted to recentre the Party by aligning it with centre-right. This was Luchaire’s objective although he did not formally join the Party himself. Others, like Kayser, Cot, and de Jouvenel wanted the Party to reassert its left-wing identity, align itself durably with moderate elements within the Socialist Party, and become a progressive, non-Marxist party of the left. This was the route favoured at this stage by Daladier.26

Equally intense debates were occurring among the Socialists who interpreted the failure of the Cartel in various ways. Those Marxists who had not wished to participate in Herriot’s government, felt vindicated by the subsequent drift of the Radicals to the right; those who had wished to participate argued that a Socialist presence in the government would have anchored Herriot on the left. For some younger Socialists, these tactical questions were the starting point of a fundamental reconsideration of the Party’s commitment to Marxism. They were influenced by the writing of the Belgian socialist Henri de Man whose 1926 book The Psychology of Socialism was translated into French under the revealing title Au-delà du Marxisme (1927; Beyond Marxism). De Man argued that Marxism failed to provide a valid account of the working of modern capitalism. By rooting socialism in materialism, it no longer offered the prospect of radical politics because modern capitalism was capable of fulfilling the working class’s material needs.

Within the French Socialist Party, the most vigorous exponent of revisionism was the Party’s rising star, Marcel Déat. In Perspectives socialistes (1930), Déat argued Socialists should look beyond the proletariat and build an alliance of anti-capitalist forces including the petite bourgeoisie. The political corollary was that the Socialists should abandon the commitment to Marxist purity that prevented them participating in Radical governments.27 This offered some common ground with the left-wing Young Radicals. A forum for dialogue between these left-wing reformers was offered by Georges Valois. Having left Action française, Valois had in 1924 tried founding his own political movement, the Faisceau, inspired by (p.55) Mussolini. After 1926, Valois moved to the left, and he was in search of signs that the political structures were breaking up on the centre and left. Between 1928 and 1930 he published several books by members of the younger political generation including Déat’s Perspectives socialistes, Luchaire’s Une génération réaliste, and L’Économie dirigée (1928) by the Young Radical Bertrand de Jouvenel.28 All these writers believed that liberalism had failed and that the productive forces of the economy needed to be integrated into a reformed State.

The Tardieu Moment: 1930

The prospects for change were defined by the responses of the leaders of the political parties. In October 1929, Daladier tried to tempt the Socialists into government with the offer of four ministries. For the first time, a substantial majority of the Socialist parliamentary party voted to accept, but the Party’s National Committee overturned the decision. This blocked any realignment on the left and opened up a possibility on the right for the centre-right politician André Tardieu who formed a government after Daladier’s failure to do so.

Tardieu, born in 1876, was one of the most flamboyantly brilliant politicians of his generation. This was an older generation than the Jeunes Équipes, and in 1919 Tardieu had not been associated with the reforming groups. But as the first war veteran to hold the premiership, Tardieu was symbolically appropriate to represent the post-war generation. Instead of the usual platitudes, his ministerial declaration of November 1929 offered a programme of economic modernization, a politique de prospérité. In subsequent speeches he proclaimed the end of laissez-faire and announced the need for an interventionist and technically competent State. This was in the spirit of the Redressement français with which Tardieu had links, but he also drew eclectically on the ideas of Benoist, the 1919 reformers, and the Jeunes Équipes.29

To carry out his programme Tardieu envisaged a political realignment around a modern centre-right incorporating elements of the Radical Party. This ambition failed because the Radical Party rejected Tardieu’s invitation to join his government despite strong lobbying from Luchaire. Nevertheless Tardieu’s style of government represented a sharp break with tradition. He tried to speak directly to the population over the head of parliament. Unprecedentedly he had his ministerial declaration stuck up throughout France, and he was the first politician to use the radio. All this came to nothing. Tardieu’s legislative programme was whittled away by sniping in parliament: a year after it was announced, the modernization bill had not been voted. Tardieu himself aroused massive personal (p.56) antagonism until he was brought down by a financial scandal at the end of 1930.

One must be sceptical about the wilder claims made for Tardieu. Far from being an FDR manqué or a proto-Keynesian, he was as economically illiterate as most French politicians, and, as the Depression later demonstrated, his economic ideas were orthodox. He conceived his generous spending plans in 1929 only because of the existence of large treasury surpluses. It was largely Tardieu’s style that was new. What kind of political transformation did he envisage? He has been described as a French Disraeli, stealing the ideas of his opponents to modernize the appeal of conservatism. But although Tardieu hoped to split the Radicals, he was not interested in building a French conservative party. He wanted to rally support around his personality; his model was less the Anglo-Saxon two-party model than a personalized government like Clemenceau’s wartime administration.

Given that the Depression was about to change the presuppositions upon which Tardieu’s politics was based, it is not true that 1930 was a turning point when politics failed to turn. The Tardieu moment testified to the existence of reforming currents within French Republicanism, but also to the blockages of French politics. In 1933, Tardieu, embittered by his failure and by the subsequent defeat of the right at the 1932 elections, launched a crusade for constitutional revision. He now believed that political realignments were not enough: the system itself required change. He wanted to introduce referenda and make it easier to dissolve parliament. Most of Tardieu’s ideas (except for the referendum) had been proposed by Benoist forty years earlier and Benoist’s Les Maladies de la démocratie was one of the texts he used.

At first Tardieu was a lone voice calling for constitutional reform. But from 1932, when the Depression hit France, politics moved into a period of great turbulence. The left won the elections of 1932, but again the Socialists refused to participate in a Radical government. Two years of ministerial instability between 1932 and 1934 led to riots in February 1934 and the arrival in power of a right-wing Government of National Unity under Gaston Doumergue. Constitutional reform was briefly at the forefront of the political agenda. Tardieu joined Doumergue’s government as a minister of State. Parliament set up a commission to examine constitutional reform and decided in March 1934 to propose a simplification of the procedures to dissolve parliament. The senator Jacques Bardoux, who had been involved in some of the post-war reforming groups like ANOD, set up a Committee on the Reform of the State, whose members included Mercier and Barthélemy. But when in the autumn Doumergue submitted his own constitutional reform proposals, he was defeated. Having failed to act immediately after February 1934 when his prestige was high, Doumergue allowed the left to depict constitutional reform as a reincarnation of Bonapartism. Doumergue fell in the autumn of 1934, and Tardieu retired from politics in disgust.

(p.57) The Nonconformists: Liberalism Contested 1932–1934

For Tardieu, Benoist, Bardoux, Barthélemy, and Romier on the centre-right, for Luchaire, Déat, de Jouvenel, and Valois on the centre-left, the assumption was that the nature of France’s problems was essentially political or institutional and could be resolved by adjustments which were compatible with a Republican framework. But the early 1930s also saw the emergence of a generation of young intellectuals, subsequently labelled the ‘nonconformists of the 1930s’, whose disillusion with the Republic went deeper. Sceptical about any remedies which politics could provide, they challenged the entire philosophical presuppositions of liberal democracy.30

The first collective manifestation of the nonconformists occurred in December 1932 when the NRF, always eager to be in the vanguard, published eleven short articles defining the ‘common cause of French youth…the first outlines of a new French Revolution’.31 The contributors included Emmanuel Mounier (b. 1905), Robert Aron (b. 1898), Philippe Lamour (b. 1903), Georges Izard (b. 1903), Armand Dandieu (b. 1897), and Thierry Maulnier (b. 1909). They signed in the name of little-known reviews and organizations like ‘Ordre Nouveau’, Esprit, Réaction, and Plans. Despite significant differences between them, one can detect a common tone, and a sense of generational identity.

The term ‘generation’ loosely describes those people born between about 1895 and 1905, but within this cohort there was a division between those who had been old enough to fight in the war and those who had not: this was the abyss of four years separating Louis Aragon (b. 1897) from André Malraux (b. 1901).32 They were a generation whose defining experience was the war or its aftermath, not the Dreyfus Affair. Some of them had been influenced by Maurras, but whereas for Maurras it still mattered to believe that Dreyfus had been guilty, for this generation it no longer did.33

Many right-wing intellectuals were helped to free themselves from Maurras by the neo-Thomist Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain who had in the 1920s been close to Action française. After the papal condemnation of 1926 Maritain broke with Maurras, and his book Primauté du spirituel (1927) was a direct riposte Maurrass assertion of the centrality of politics (politique d’abord).34 For (p.58) Maritain, this was the beginning of a journey to the left that culminated in the celebrated defence of democracy he wrote in America during the war. But if Maritain’s new emphasis on the ‘primacy of the spiritual’ liberated many young Catholic intellectuals, it did not necessarily lead them to the left. It freed them from the sterile dichotomy between support for the Republic or opposition to it, opening the way to even more radical alternatives to liberalism than those offered by Maurras.

One young intellectual influenced by Maritain was Jean-Pierre Maxence (b. 1906) who had moved from Action française towards a spiritual critique of a ‘world without mystique’, rejecting the materialism of both capitalism and socialism.35 Maxence became the leading light of the ‘Jeune Droite’ which consisted mainly of dissidents from Action française. In 1931, he took over Revue française, a rather fusty conservative paper, and opened it up to young right-wing intellectuals like Thierry Maulnier and the future fascist Robert Brasillach. They believed themselves to be living through a crisis of civilization which went deeper than politics. Maulnier entitled one of his books La Crise est dans l’homme (1932; The Crisis is in Mankind).

Equally concerned with spiritual crisis, but to the left of Maxence, was Emmanuel Mounier, founder in October 1932 of the journal Esprit.36 Mounier, who came from a modest background, had been a brilliant student, taking his philosophy agrégation in the same year as Sartre and Raymond Aron, and coming second overall. Nonetheless Mounier never lost the sense of being an outsider in the Parisian intellectual world, and this gives his writing a tone of moralistic self-righteousness. Perhaps it helps also to explain why he so identified with Péguy, another outsider. Mounier’s ambition was to separate Catholicism from conservatism and develop a radical critique of the status quo—what he called the ‘established disorder’—whether capitalist or Socialist.

Esprit attracted intellectuals of diverse origins, including several Action française dissidents. Their common link was a Catholic background of some sort; Maritain was an early sponsor of the journal. Georges Izard, a member of the group, founded a movement called the ‘Third Force’ to provide a political forum to defend Esprit’s ideas, but the association with Esprit was soon severed owing to Mounier’s distrust of politics.

More intellectually eclectic than Esprit was the Ordre nouveau group whose members had backgrounds varying from Barthian Protestantism to Maurrassianism, Russian orthodoxy to Judaism.37 The group included Robert Aron, who had previously flirted with surrealism, and his school friend Armand Dandieu, (p.59) who died prematurely in 1933. In 1931 Aron and Dandieu produced two books which proclaimed the guiding themes of their group. Décadence de la nation française denounced France’s cult of rationalism and abstraction; Le Cancer américain used America to lambast an obsession with productivism and a neglect of the spiritual. Ordre nouveau had a strongly technocratic bent, aspiring in a mystical and Saint-Simonian way towards the rational organization of economic life.

Ordre nouveau’s preoccupations overlapped with the group around the journal Plans founded by Philippe Lamour. The editorial board of Plans included the architect Le Corbusier and the syndicalist intellectual Hubert Lagardelle. Plans provided a mouthpiece for Ordre nouveau until the group founded its own journal in 1933. The link between technocracy and syndicalism was the idea that individualistic liberal capitalism was incapable of developing a rationally organized society.

The common element of all these groups was not so much that they opposed the Republic as that intellectually they no longer accepted it as a frame of reference. Ordre nouveau’s manifesto of March 1931 declared: ‘the spiritual first, and then the economic and political at its service’; the first issue of Esprit called for ‘primacy of the spiritual’. Mounier’s repugnance for politics was almost physical.38 ‘Rottenness’, ‘disgust’, ‘decadence’, ‘nausea’, ‘revulsion’: these words recur repeatedly to describe Third Republic politics. The Republic was viewed as formalistic, cut off from ‘real’ life, a screen for the defence of materialism and individualism. Socialism and capitalism, Stalin and Ford, were rejected as two sides of the same coin, ‘philosophically linked to the system of mechanistic oppression from which man suffers in the modern age’.39

The root of the problem was the tradition of Republican individualism which viewed man only as an abstract citizen, crushing human diversity and uprooting the individual from natural communities: ‘The ideology which we combat’, wrote Mounier, ‘is the ideology of 1789…the individual emptied of all substance and cut off from his roots…equality conceived as a void between neutral and interchangeable individuals.’40 It was necessary to rediscover human beings in all their wholeness, l’homme réel or l’homme concret. The first editorial of Plans defined its aims as ‘The expression of the real man [l’homme réel ]…The blossoming of a more humane civilisation where man, dominating the tyranny of the machine created for his own good, would retrieve his place in the universe.’ L’Homme réel was also the title of a short-lived journal of syndicalist inspiration founded in 1934 (again with the involvement of Le Corbusier). Both Esprit and Ordre nouveau described their doctrine as ‘personalism’.41 They sought communitarian alternatives to Republican anomie.42

(p.60) A central inspiration of this generation was Péguy. Maxence devoted an issue of the Cahiers to him in 1930; he was the subject of Mounier’s first book.43 The Péguy they celebrated was the angry prophet of a more spiritual politics: ‘the revolution will be moral or it will not be’ was a favourite phrase.44 Other influences were Maritain, Proudhon, Sorel, Bergson, and the Russian orthodox thinker Nicholas Berdyaev. There was also a serious revival of interest in Nietzsche.45 To such familiar critics of individualism and rationalism was added the influence of the German phenomenologists—Heidegger, Husserl, and Jaspers—whose work percolated into France in this period and offered a powerful weapon against the traditional teaching of the French universities.46 In the words of Raymond Aron, an early French student of these German thinkers: ‘In studying phenomenology, I experienced a sort of liberation in relation to my neo-Kantian training.’47 But Aron never succumbed to the anti-liberalism of the nonconformists and had little respect for the intellectual sophistication of Robert Aron, Dandieu, or Mounier. He also questioned whether they mattered ‘outside the dining circles of the Parisian intelligentsia’.48

On this point Aron is probably too dismissive. Quite apart from the leading roles many of the nonconformists played in French cultural life over the next decades, there are several reasons for ascribing importance to them. First, they articulated a malaise which extended beyond the tiny readerships of their often ephemeral journals. There is an affinity between their ‘disgust’ and the ‘nausea’ in 1938 of Sartre’s Roquentin, between their dissatisfaction with the ‘established disorder’ and the Nietzschean quest for adventure by the heroes of Malraux’s early novels.49 Malraux, viewed as a sort of French T. E. Lawrence, was very much a tutelary figure for this generation, a fellow ‘brother in Nietzsche and Dostoevsky’, as Drieu La Rochelle called him.50 In Malraux’s first two novels, ostensibly about the Chinese revolution, action has a metaphysical purpose not a political one: his protagonists seek not to change the world, but to transcend their sense of the futility of existence.51 Maxence remarked that France’s leaders failed to offer adventure or excitement, and ran the country like an insurance company.

(p.61) Secondly, there were links between the nonconformists and a number of technocratic reform groups that sprang up in the 1930s.52 The most famous of these was the Centre polytechnicien d’études économiques, better known as X-Crise, a circle of polytechniciens set up in 1931 to discuss the problems posed by the economic crisis. X-Crise included laissez-faire liberals and socialists, but they all agreed on one thing: it was for experts to provide answers. Its leading light was the business manager Jean Coutrot. Restlessly curious and indefatigably energetic, Coutrot, who kept up an international correspondence with intellectuals like Aldous Huxley, was a mixture of sage and crank driven by a mystical faith in the capacity of the experts to solve the problems of the world. He set up the Centre for the Study of Human Problems whose aim was to synthesize the most recent advances in the human and social sciences, harnessing them to the quest for a modern humanism. Through the study of economics, psychology, psychobiology, eugenics, and so on it would be possible to transform man’s relationship to technology and modern productive forces. The ultimate aim was to create a ‘new man’.53

Another participant in X-Crise was the electricity industrialist Auguste Detœuf who had been a leading member of Redressement français. Some members of X-Crise—Robert Loustau (b. 1899), Robert Gibrat (b. 1904)—were in Ordre nouveau. Another link between Ordre nouveau and the wider world was Jean Jardin (b. 1904) who was an aide to Raoul Dautry, one of the great proto-technocrats of the period. Dautry (b. 1880) was a polytechnicien whose success in modernizing the French railways led French governments frequently to call upon his administrative expertise. In 1939, he was brought in to oversee French rearmament after the Munich agreement.

Dautry had been in the circle of the former imperial proconsul Marshal Lyautey, famous for his 1891 article on the ‘Social Role of the Officer’. The leadership role that Lyautey ascribed to the army, Dautry conferred on public-spirited administrators dedicated to the ideals of service and efficiency. Lyautey’s ideas also influenced Mercier who believed that businessmen should be the new elite. After Lyautey died in 1934, Dautry took on something of his mantle. Celebrating the leadership role of elites sidestepped politics. Lyautey’s own preferences had been monarchist, and Dautry’s were perhaps revealed by the fact that his 1937 hymn to the idea of leadership, Métier d’homme (ghosted by Jardin) was dedicated to Salazar.54

Finally, for all their suspicion of politics, there were affinities and connections (p.62) between the nonconformists and the young dissidents in the Radical and Socialist parties. In the Radical Party there were two significant defections. One was Gaston Bergery who was close in spirit to the Young Radicals although himself somewhat older (b. 1892). Bergery had been an adviser to Herriot in 1924, and from that experience he concluded that the Radicals had to align with the Socialists. He resigned from the Party in March 1933 and formed the Front commun to rally progressive left opinion. In November 1934, the Front commun fused with Izard’s Third Force to become the Front social.55 The second Radical dissident was Bertrand de Jouvenel who resigned from the Party after February 1934 and started a short-lived paper called La Lutte des jeunes which aimed to be the mouthpiece of the new generations: its contributors included Mounier, Izard, Luchaire, and Robert Aron.56

In the Socialist Party, there was a split in October 1933 when twenty-eight députés rebelled against the Party’s refusal to co-operate with the Radicals. They were expelled, and set up a breakaway party. The neo-Socialists, as they came to be called, included old right-wing Socialists who merely wished to break the taboo against participating in government, but also younger revisionists like Marcel Déat. The revisionism of de Man and Déat had been conceived during the economic growth of the 1920s, but the arrival of the economic crisis only intensified their conviction that socialism must break with Marxism. The orthodox Socialist answer to the Depression was that it represented the crisis of capitalism, which freed Socialists from responsibility for devising solutions. Arguing that such an abdication of responsibility would allow fascism to develop, de Man advocated a ‘Plan’ of structural economic reform whose centrepiece was the nationalization of credit and key industries. In effect, he was proposing that the Socialists postpone socialism in favour of the mixed economy.

De Man’s planisme enjoyed a considerable vogue in 1934. It was taken up by the neo-Socialists, and given publicity by Esprit and Ordre nouveau.57 The Socialist Party itself rejected planisme in 1934 as a heretical deviation from Marxism, but some younger Socialists, like Georges Lefranc, continued to argue for it from within the Party. De Man’s Plan, which bore some resemblance to the CGT minimum programme of 1918, was also taken up by the CGT in 1934–5.

With all these connections to the wider world, the nonconformists’ importance was not confined to Parisian dining circles. They drew upon many traditions—the Saint-Simonian cult of the modernizing elite, syndicalist dissatisfaction with the idea of abstract citizenship, Catholic rejection of liberal individualism, de Man’s Socialist revisionism—and mixed them in different ways. They were subsequently to follow different political journeys, many of them ending up at Vichy. They were a political generation bereft of political anchors, able to pass from surrealism to communism (Aragon), reformist socialism to (p.63) fascism (Déat), radicalism to fascism (Bergery), Action française to communism (Roy) with intermediate stages on the way. They all shared a suspicion, even visceral rejection, of liberal democracy. The spirit of this generation was well described by one of its members in 1932:

We passed our adolescence in the antechamber of death. After the war, we were naked before a new world…without prejudice, without loyalties, without a fixed situation…We had hoped that a great movement of renovation would come out of the war, a new definition of the world. And we saw old men who had known neither how to avoid the killing nor make the peace take power again having learnt nothing or forgotten everything.58

The nonconformists claimed to transcend the traditional political divisions: ‘we are neither right nor left’ declared Aron and Dandieu in the preface to La Révolution nécessaire. There were political nuances between them. The Jeune Droite had emerged out of the orbit of Action française, Esprit out of left Catholicism. Ordre nouveau was more unqualified in its critique of democracy than Esprit, which targeted its contempt on parliamentary democracy.59 On a left–right spectrum, Maxence should be classified on the right and Mounier on the left, with Ordre nouveau in between, but before 1934 the similarities were more evident than the differences. They shared a sense of themselves as a generation, and a generation that took itself seriously: Mounier hailed Dandieu’s La Révolution nécessaire as the first work in French to challenge Das Kapital.60

From 1934, French politics became increasingly polarized. Even those wishing to reject political labels could no longer do so. In January 1934 Esprit criticized Ordre nouveau for being too sympathetic to fascism, and in April 1934 announced it was abandoning the line ‘neither left nor right’; later it offered a fraternal salute to the emerging Popular Front.61 Mounier supported the Republicans in the Spanish civil war, Maxence the Nationalists. Maxence’s Revue française folded in 1933, and its mantle was later assumed by the journal Combat, founded in January 1936 and edited by Thierry Maulnier. Combat was a formative experience for many young right-wing intellectuals of the period—Claude Roy, Jacques Laurent, Maurice Blanchot—and its tone was more violent than that of its predecessor.

If, however, it was difficult to be ‘neither left nor right’ after 1934, some ambiguity remained. In 1935 Mounier saw nothing reprehensible in accepting an invitation from the Institute of Fascist Culture in Rome. In 1938, in what was otherwise a very anti-Nazi article, he wrote of fascism that it was not ‘absolute evil:’ ‘its action of harsh purification cleanses a worm-eaten structure which we have not ceased to combat in the name of other values’.62 At the end of the (p.64) decade, Maxence, who had chosen the other side, was able to write sympathetically of the aspirations represented by the Popular Front.63 Nonetheless, in the second half of the decade, the sense of generational fraternity was only nostalgia: French politics had acquired the bitterness of a civil war, and political choices were unavoidable.


(1) D. Lindenberg, Les Années souterraines 1937–1947 (1990), 15.

(2) A. Pitt, ‘The Evolution of Liberal Thought under the Third French Republic c.1860–c.1940’ (unpublished Cambridge Ph.D. thesis, 1995).

(3) G. Le Béguec, ‘L’Entrée au Palais Bourbon: Les Filières privilégiés d’accès à la fonction parlementaire, 1919–1939’ (unpublished thesis, University of Paris-X, 1989), 160–76; id., ‘Charles Benoist ou les métamorphoses de l’esprit modéré’, Contrepoint, 22–3 (1976), 74–95.

(4) Quoted by M. Winock in Le Siècle des intellectuels (1999 edn.), 95.

(5) (1909 edn.), 116.

(6) G. Sapiro, La Guerre des écrivains 1940–1953 (1999), 44.

(7) Halévy, Décadence de la liberté (1931); id., Visites aux paysans du Centre; id., La République des comités: Essai d’histoire contemporaine (1934). On Halévy see A. Silvera, Daniel Halévy and his Times: A Gentleman Commoner in the Third Republic (1966); S. Laurent, ‘Daniel Halévy 1872–1962; P. Guiral, ‘Daniel Halévy: Esquisse d’ un itinéraire’, Contrepoint, 20 (1976), 79–95.

(8) J. Laurent, Histoire egoïste (1978 edn.), 33.

(9) P. Ariès, Un historien de dimanche (1980), 22.

(10) G. Bonnefous, Histoire politique de la Troisième République, iii. L’Après-Guerre, 1919–1924 (1968), 171–4; A. Becker, ‘Du 14 juillet 1919 au 11 novembre 1920: Mort où est ta victoire?’, VSRH 49 (1996), 31–44.

(11) C. Amalvi, ‘Le 14-juillet’, in Nora (ed.), Les Lieux de mémoire, pt. i. La République, 412–72: 461.

(12) M. Vovelle, ‘La Marseillaise’, in Nora (ed.), Les Lieux de mémoire, pt. i. La République, 85–136.

(13) On the lack of enthusiasm for this iconography as reflected in the 1920 celebration see G. Guy-Grand, L’Avenir de la démocratie (1928).

(14) P. Nora, ‘Les Deux Apogées de l’Action française’, Annales ESC (1964), 127–41; S. Wilson, ‘The Action française in French Intellectual Life’, HJ 12 (1969), 328–50; V. Nguyen, ‘Situation des études maurassiennnes: Contribution à l’étude de la presse et des mentalités’, RHMC (1971), 503–38.

(15) Sapiro, La Guerre des écrivains, 142–52.

(16) Nguyen, ‘Situation’, 506.

(17) C. Roy, Moi je (1969 edn.), 200.

(18) L. Romier, Explication de notre temps (1925); id., La Crise de l’État (1924). C. Roussel, Lucien Romier 1885–1944: Historien, économiste, journaliste (1979), is unenlightening.

(19) G. Martinez, ‘Joseph Barthélemy et la crise de la démocratie liberale’, VSRH 59 (1998), 28–47; Barthélemy, Mémoires, ministre de la justice. Vichy (1941–1943).

(20) Le Béguec, ‘L’Entrée’, 279–401; F. Monnet, Refaire la République: André Tardieu, une dérive réactionnaire, 1876–1945 (1993), 19–47.

(21) J. Talbott, The Politics of Educational Reform in France (Princeton, 1969).

(22) J. Horne, Labour at War: France and Great Britain 1914–1918 (Oxford, 1991), 171–217.

(23) A. Rossiter, ‘Experiments with Corporatist Politics in Republican France 1916–1939’ (unpublished D.Phil. thesis, Oxford, 1986).

(24) R. Kuisel, Ernest Mercier, French Technocrat (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1967).

(25) J. Luchaire, Une génération réaliste (1929); see also J. Montigny, La République réaliste (n.d.).

(26) On the Young Radicals, S. Berstein, Histoire du Parti radical, ii. Crise du radicalisme (1982), 94–124.

(27) J. Jackson, The Politics of Depression in France (Cambridge, 1985), 138–43.

(28) A. Douglas, From Fascism to Libertarian Communism (Berkeley, 1992), 150–3.

(29) Monnet, Refaire la République, 92–101.

(30) J. Touchard, ‘L’Esprit des années trente’, in Tendances politiques de la vie française de 1789 à nos jours (1960); J. Loubet del Bayle, Les Non-Conformistes des années trente (1969). See also P. Andreu, Révoltés del’esprit: Les Revues des années trente (1991); id., Le Rouge et le blanc 1928–1944 (1977); R. Aron, Fragments d’une vie (1981).

(31) NRF 231 (Dec. 1932), 801–45; B. Ackermann, Denis de Rougemont: Une biographie intellectuelle, i (Geneva, 1996), 210–22.

(32) On the generational nuances see P. Balmand, ‘Les Jeunes Intellectuels de “l’esprit des années trente”: Un phénomène de génération’, in J.-F. Sirinelli (ed.), Générations intellectuelles (1987), 49–63; also Roy, Moi je, 213.

(33) J. Laurent, Histoire, 197.

(34) P. Chenaux, ‘Le Milieu Maritain’, in N. Racine and M. Trebitsch (eds.), Sociabilités intellectuelles: Lieux, milieux, réseaux (1992), 160–71; id., Entre Maurras et Maritain: une génération intellectuelle catholique 1920–1930 (1999).

(35) Loubet del Bayle, Les Non-Conformistes, 37–76; Maxence, Histoire de dix ans.

(36) M. Winock, Histoire politique de la revue Esprit 1930–1950 (1975); Loubet del Bayle, Les Non-Conformistes, 123–57; J. Hellman, Emmanuel Mounier and the New Catholic Left 1930–1950 (1981), 3–95.

(37) Loubet del Bayle, Les Non-Conformistes, 79–119; in id. B. Rettenbach, Ordre et démocratie: De l’Ordre nouveau au Club Jean Moulin (1967), 1–102; Ackermann, Denis de Rougemont, 250–308; P. Balmand, ‘Intellectuels dans l’Ordre nouveau (1933–1938): Une aristocratie de prophètes’, in D. Bonnaud-Lamotte and J.-L. Rispail (eds.), Intellectuels des années trente entre le rêve et l’action (1989), 171–84.

(38) Winock, Histoire politique, 109–10.

(39) Andreu, Révoltés de l’esprit, 24.

(40) Quoted in Loubet del Bayle, Les Non-Conformistes, 209.

(41) Ibid. 337–55; Hellman, Emmanuel Mounier, 82–7.

(42) T. Judt, ‘We have discovered History: Defeat, Resistance and the Intellectuals in France’ JMH 64, suppl. (1992), 147–72.

(43) E. Mounier and G. Izard, La Pensée de Charles Péguy (1931).

(44) Winock, Histoire politique, 21–2; Maxence, Histoire de dix ans, 44–5; Loubet del Bayle, Les Non-Conformistes, 290.

(45) Lindenberg, Les Années souterraines, 86–97; J.-M. Besnier, La Politique de l’impossible: L’Intellectuel entre révolte et engagement (1988), 32–7.

(46) See the bibliography of La Révolution nécessaire. One of the founders of the movement, Alexandre Marc had attended the lectures of Husserl in Friburg.

(47) Mémoires: 50 ans de réflexion politique (1983), 68.

(48) Ibid. 101–4, 707.

(49) T. Judt, Past Imperfect: French Intellectuals 1944–1956 (1992), 18.

(50) Maxence, Histoire de dix ans, 76; Andreu, Révoltés de l’esprit, 14; Lindenberg, Les Années souterraines, 91.

(51) J. Loubet del Bayle, Politique et civilisation: Essai sur la réflexion politique de Jules Romains (1981), 265–81.

(52) G. Brun, Technocrates et technocratie en France (1985).

(53) On Coutrot see O. Dard, ‘Les Novations intellectuelles des anneés trente: l’Exemple de Jean Coutrot’ (unpublished thesis, Institut d’études politiques, Paris, 1993); M. Beale, The Modernist Enterprise: French Elites and the Threat of Modernity 1900–1940 (Stanford, Calif.; 1999), 145–64; and J. Clarke, ‘The Search for Joy in Work, Rationalisation and Cultural Crisis in France in the 1930s’ (D.Phil. thesis, Sussex, 1998).

(54) Métier d’homme (1937). On Dautry see R. Baudoui, Raoul Dautry 1888–1951: Le Technocrate de la République (1992); Lindenberg, Les Années souterraines, 194–202.

(55) P. Burrin, La Dérive fasciste: Doriot Déat, Bergery 1933–1945 (1986), 29–38, 95–106.

(56) Andreu, Révoltés de l’esprit, 101–5.

(57) Hellman, Emmanuel Mounier, 92–3.

(58) Quoted in Balmand, ‘Les Jeunes Intellectuels’, 51.

(59) Loubet del Bayle, Les Non-Conformistes, 212.

(60) Ibid. 108.

(61) Winock, Histoire politique, 115–32.

(62) Burrin, La Dérive fasciste, 88–9.

(63) Maxence, Histoire de dix ans, 235, 281, 352.