A new social doctrine – solidarism – was virtually adopted by the republican government to meet the increasing challenges of industrialisation. Solidarity was the most talked about ideal of the 1890s and the first decade of the twentieth century. The first significant feature of solidarism was that it represented a new attitude to the French Revolution. Though solidarism was supported by arguments drawn from the natural and social sciences, which made it appear topical and new, its doctrines were of course composed of much older elements. Solidarism did not produce the radical change it could have done. This, rather than the lack of social legislation, was the great failure of the 1890s. One explanation of the stability that underlay the polemic can be found in the career of Waldeck-Rousseau. The Dreyfus affair was important in giving the intellectuals a sense of their mission, and in confirming their importance.
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