Tuesday, March 05, 2019

In Honor Of The 100th Anniversary Of The Founding Of The Communist International-Take Three –A Daughter of The Communards?

In Honor Of The 100th Anniversary Of The Founding Of The Communist International-Take Three –A Daughter of The Communards?     

Claudette Longuet idolized her grandfather, her maternal grandfather, Louis Paret, called the Lyonese Jaures by his comrades in the Socialist Party and by others as well not attuned to his political perspectives but respectful of the power of his words nevertheless, an honorific well-deserved for his emulation of the internationally famous French socialist orator, Jean Jaures, who had been villainously assassinated just before the war. Claudette had reason to idolize Papa Paret for his was a gentle man toward his several grandchildren and so had a built-in fan club of sorts before he even left the comfortable confines of his townhouse on the edges of downtown Lyon.

More importantly Claudette had idolized him for his political past, his proud working class and socialist political past. As a mere boy he had fought on the barricades during the Paris Commune, a touchstone for all those who survived the bloody massacre reprisals of the Thiers government carried out by the sadistic General Gallifit. He just barely missed being transported. Fortunately no “snitch” could place him on the barricades, although the Thiers government was not always so choosey about such things when they had their killing habits on. He had defended the poor Jewish soldier Dreyfus when Emile Zola screamed for his release. He had opposed Alexander Millerand, an avowed socialist, in joining the murderous bourgeois government when he took that step. He tirelessly campaigned against war, signed all the national and international petitions to prevent that occurrence, and attended all the conferences too. Although he himself was no Marxist, his socialism ran to more mystical and philosophical trends, he welcomed the Russian Revolution of 1905 with open arms. So, yes, Claudette, as she grew to young womanhood and began her own search for social and political meaning, understandable took her cues from her Papa. Moreover before the war she spent many hours in his company at the local socialist club doing the “this and that” to spread the socialist faith around and about Lyons.

Then the war came, that dreaded awful August 1914 when the guns of war howled into the night and her grandfather changed, almost chameleon-like. From a fervent anti-warrior he turned overnight into a paragon of defense of  French culture, French bourgeois culture, as he would have previously said against, against, the Hun, the Boche, the, the, whatever foul word he could use to denigrate the Germans, all of them. He stood in the central square in Lyon and preached, preached the duty of every eligible young Frenchman to defend the republic to the death, no questions asked. And since he had that Jaures-like quality those young boys listened and sadly went off to war, many to never return. For a while he also had Claudette with him, for the first couple of years when he, they uttered not one anti-war word, not one. But after about two years, after some awful battles fought on French soil, some awful battles that were just stacking up the corpses without let-up, she started to listen to that younger Papa voice, the voice that thrilled her young girl-hood, and silently began to oppose the war, to oppose her grandfather who had not changed his opinion one iota throughout the carnage.

Claudette kept his silence until the February Revolution in Russia in 1917 when it seemed like peace might be at hand. He grandfather cursed the Russians whenever there was talk that they might withdraw from the war but she saw that their withdrawal might stop the war on all fronts. Mainly she was tired of seeing the weekly casualty lists and all the women, young and old, in black, always black. Then in November or maybe December 1917 she heard, heard from her new beau (a beau a little younger than her, almost just a boy, since the men her age were either at the fronts or had laid their heads down in some sodden ground) who had been agitating for an end to the war (and getting hell for it from the local government, and her grandfather) that the Russians under the Bolsheviks had withdrawn from the war. Things were sketchy, very sketchy with the wartime censorship on but that is what she heard from him. She talked to, or tried to talk to her grandfather about it, but he would not hear of the damn Bolshevik rabble.

Papa Paret moreover said when peace came, and it would come, with or without the damn Russians, since the entry of the American would take the final stuffing out of the Germans, then everybody could go back to arguing against war and French and German workers could unite again under the banner of the Socialist International and maybe really end war for good. And the war did end, and the various socialists who had just supported the massive blood-letting in Europe and elsewhere started talking of brotherhood once again and of putting that old peacetime International back together. Claudette though, now more under the spell of that feisty boyfriend, was not sure that grandfather had it right. And in the summer of 1919 when she heard (via that same boyfriend who had already joined the French Communist Party, or really the embryo of that party) that the Bolsheviks had convened a conference to form a new International, a Third International, to really fight against war and fight for socialism she was more conflicted. See she really did idolize Papa and so she would wait and see…     

No comments:

Post a Comment