Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1918, Supplement 1, The World War, Volume I
File No. 763.72119/2395
The Ambassador in France ( Sharp) to the Secretary of State
[Received October 29.]
Sir: Confirming my telegram No. 5414 of October 13,1 I have the honor to enclose copies in translation of (1) text of the resolution adopted by the Congress of the French Socialist Party giving its approbation to the reply of the Secretary of State in the name of the President to the German proposal of acceptance of the President’s fourteen bases of peace; (2) text of an appeal concurrently issued by the General Labor Confederation to the working men of France; and (3) text of a further resolution of the Socialist Party outlining its working programme for the immediate future.
I have [etc.]
Resolution Passed by the Congress of the French Socialist Party, October 11, 1918
The Congress of the French Socialist Party, confirming its address to President Wilson, gives its approbation to the reply which has just been made in the name of the President, by Secretary of State Lansing, to the note of the German Chancellor.
The Socialist Party is pleased to take note of this first thorough application of positive and public diplomacy.
It takes note that the door is thus opened to negotiations between the belligerents with a view to a peace of justice.
It approves the diplomatic and military guarantees demanded by President Wilson in view of the armistice.
Appeal of the Confederation Générale du Travail to the Workingmen of France
The Confederate Committee, in the presence of the proposition addressed to President Wilson by the Central Empires and Turkey, for an immediate general armistice and the opening of peace negotiations:
Recalls the fact that the Confédération Générale du Travail has always declared itself in favor of the end of secret diplomacy and for a positive and public diplomacy:
That in so doing, the Confédération Générale du Travail expressed the sentiments of the popular masses, as President Wilson recognized in his speech of September 27 last, saying that: [Page 399]
Assemblies and associations of many kinds made up of plain workaday people have demanded, almost every time they came together, and are still demanding, that the leaders of their governments declare to them plainly what it is, exactly what it is, that they were seeking in this war, and what they think the items of the final settlement should be.
The Confédération Générale du Travail is also conscious of having expressed the sentiments of the popular masses by approving the fourteen points of the Wilson proposition, by demanding the participation of workingmen in peace, and by declaring that this peace of the peoples which is to make an end to war should be based upon the general principles: “No annexation: the right of peoples to dispose of themselves.”
For these reasons, and logical in its attitude, the Confederate Committee declares that a positive refusal to the proposition of the Central Empires and Turkey could not form the reply which is hoped for and demanded by the workingmen of this country, as well at the front as at the rear.
In exhorting the Government of this country not to remain silent before the appeals addressed to it, the Confederate Committee sees in President Wilson’s propositions guarantees for the conclusion of the armistice and the opening of peace negotiations.
But it expects these guarantees to bring to the workingmen of this country the certainty that the damages caused there will be repaired, that the peoples now subjected to the law of might will be liberated, and that the possibilities of a new war may be definitively set aside.
These guarantees being admitted, the Confederate Committee could not understand that the Governments of the Entente should oppose a categorical refusal to the Central Empires and Turkey.
Before such a refusal, the Confédération Générale du Travail would feel compelled to appeal to the judgment of the workingmen of this country and to clear its own responsibility if the war were to be carried on beyond the limits determined by the fourteen points of President Wilson’s proposition.
The Confederate Committee asks, at this grave hour, the working class to exercise its action in favor of public diplomacy and for the peace of peoples, superior to promptings of hatred and in a clear sentiment of international law.
Resolution Adopted by the Congress of the French Socialist Party
The Socialist Party proclaims, more loudly than ever, its determination to remain faithful to the principles which guided the creation [Page 400]of its unity and developed its action and its forces up to the eve of the war.
These principles which, in the course of the terrible crisis weathered by Socialism during these four years, have suffered regrettable injury, in spite of the persevering efforts which the Party solemnly approved at its last National Council, must now, and definitively, be reestablished in their full force.
The Party considers that the world crisis foreseen and announced by it has only confirmed in its eyes the necessity for the disappearance of capitalistic society and for replacing it by a system in which, class antagonism being done away with, antagonism among nations could not continue either. Once again, the Party declares itself solidary for the national defense which the soldiers of the Republic are assuring by the continuity of their sacrifice, after having, in four years of war, to triumph not only over the enemy’s might, but over the errors of the command, whilst they had to accept, by a prolonging of misery, the consequences of a blindly bellicose policy exploited by imperialistic ambitions.
While asserting its fidelity to national defense, the Party renews the expression of its attachment to the Internationale.
More than ever, the workingmen of the universe need an effective link. The Internationale alone can prepare the lasting peace of peoples, by abolishing the hold of finance and of high industry upon public affairs, and by killing the hatred deliberately encouraged by rulers among human groups. The Internationale alone can establish Socialism in the world.
The Congress asserts that Socialism, in France as elsewhere, must pursue its task in complete sovereignty and autonomy, without accepting a collaboration with bourgeois fractions seeking to weaken its prestige and its action by associating it in power and assigning to it grave complicities. It rejects all new attempts at collaboration, considering that those of the past suffice for passing judgment upon such tactics, and that they have resulted only in arming reaction at home and imperialism abroad.
The Party will energetically defend public liberties, compromised by the political abdication known as the “sacred union”. It calls upon the working class to safeguard the republican régime. It rises up against assaults upon individual rights, as upon the rights of the proletariat. It protests against the condemnations and the arbitrary acts which have stricken organized workingmen (notably the delegates of the workshops of war factories). It denounces the scandalous decision of the high court of justice, rendered in contradiction with laws and in subjection to power. It stigmatizes the alliance of [Page 401]the Clemenceau Cabinet with the champions of the King and the remnants of Bonapartism.
The Internationale and Peace
The Party proclaims the duty of the working class to put an end, at last, to this bloody conflict. More than ever, the working class may, by exercising its action in all belligerent nations at the same time, impose peace upon the peoples. Opposed by governments, the international Socialist conference ought to take place very soon. This conference alone can tear away the arms from all militarisms, seeking with sincerity the justest peace conditions, rising up against raging imperialisms, taking all possible precautions so that this war may not be survived by hatreds which would kindle fresh conflicts.
The French Socialist Party declares itself ready to respond immediately to the summons of Citizens Huysmans, Branting, and Troelstra, entrusted with preparing the meeting of the Internationale.
It is because they dread the expansion of the prestige of the proletariat that the governments of the two belligerent combinations fetter the liberty of the working classes and are opposed to the meeting of the conference. Socialist and Union organizations must everywhere join their efforts to force the will of the public powers and obtain the means necessary for this meeting.
The French Socialist Party accepts as its own the resolution voted on this subject at the Trades Unions Congress by more than four million English workingmen.
The Congress, in the presence of the Government’s refusal to give passport facilities to the delegates regularly elected by the organized working class,
Condemns this policy on the part of the Government,
And declares that if it is to continue, the organized labor movement would necessarily take up the challenge thrown down to it;
The Congress warns the Government that the patience of organized labor men is rapidly being exhausted before the constant affronts thus made to them.
Prompted by the sentiment so forcibly expressed by English workingmen, the Party must rise up against any government which should again oppose the meeting of the Internationale, just as it must rise up against any government combining with reaction, accepting imperialistic programs, laying aside acceptable peace propositions, or attacking the working class and its organizations.
Against these expressions of a policy of reaction at home and abroad, the Party empowers its permanent committee on administration and its delegates to act by employing, according to circumstances, all the means in its power, including the refusal of [Page 402]credits. It joins fully in the decisions reached by the Confédération Générale du Travail at its last congress for uniting, in case of need, parliamentary and extra-parliamentary action.
The Russian Revolution
The Party castigates, with all its might, the action undertaken in Russia and in Siberia by official France and her allies, and which infringes upon the rights of the Russian people. It considers that criminal in principle, this intervention is profoundly dangerous in other ways, because it arouses the anger of the popular masses of Russia against France, and so favors the action of Prussian militarism.
The Socialist Party protests against the treatment inflicted by the rulers of France and of her allies upon the Russian Revolution, recalling only too well the treatment which the coalition of sovereigns attempted to inflict upon the French Revolution.
The Right of Peoples and the Society of Nations
The Socialist Party recalls that it has always demanded for all peoples the right to dispose freely of themselves from the national point of view, as well as that of determining, also freely, their own institutions. It declares that, when the treaties of peace are elaborated, it will exercise all its power in favor of all legitimate and immediately realizable national demands. But its duty is to add that it does not expect from the war, directed on both sides by capitalistic states a prey to territorial greed and to thirst for annexation, a truly just settlement of all these questions. It strenuously opposes any programme which, under pretext of attaining such an end, might urge on to a prolongation of the conflict. The general development of the political power of the working classes is what will prepare or partially realize this settlement; the triumph of international Socialism is what will establish it definitively by settling, upon indestructible bases, the liberty of all peoples as of all individuals.
In the same order of ideas, the Party recalls the fact that it has always not only supported but incited, by its action against the war, the initiatives of those who have tried, in society as it exists, to assure to the nations a minimum guarantee for peace. Therefore its support is assured to all efforts made sincerely with a view to founding as soundly as possible the institutions for arbitration of the society of nations. But it could not, without yielding to the most detestable deviations, make a war-aim of such a demand; and it would fail in its deepest thought if it did not warn workingmen that so long as monarchic dominations and capitalistic struggles exist, the peace of the world may be endangered.[Page 403]
The Action for To-Morrow
The signing of peace must be the preface for the great work of economic, political, and social transformation for which Socialists are fighting. The war, by annihilating or overthrowing so many homes, by accumulating expenses, by indefinitely swelling debts, by preparing crushing burdens of taxes, by creating for the capitalistic state, as for the proletariat, the practical impossibility of living, has accumulated the elements for the most formidable revolution the world has ever known. It is by remaining faithful to its principles of all times that Socialism—which had foreseen this moment—shall become equal to its duties.
The Congress of the Socialist Party, at this solemn hour of history, declares that French Socialism will not fail in its task. Having a care to safeguard indispensable unity, it condemns the deviation of those who seek, in a compromise with bourgeois society, to elaborate bastard solutions. In the renewal of the world which they foresee, French proletarians shall have no other associates than the proletarians of the Internationale.
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