Communism and Jacobinism

Communism and Jacobinism

The New Jacobins, The French Communist Party, and the Popular Front, by Daniel R. Brower. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 265 pp. $7.95.


There are two themes in this book: (1) the way Stalin used the French Communist party and its political capital as pawns in his international Realpolitik of the thirties, and (2) the way the French CP (PCF) identified itself with and profited from the patriotic tradition of Jacobin nationalism. Within the relatively narrow confines of the first problem, Brower’s control of historical evidence enables him to do an excellent job; the second, however, is far more complex than it appears in Brower’s account.

By now it should surprise no one that Stalin viewed with extreme skepticism the Comintern’s pretensions to being an agency of international revolution (he is said to have called it a gyp joint), and that he used it exclusively as an arm of Soviet foreign policy. During his consolidation of power in the mid-twenties, he cultivated ties with Germany in order to break out of the cordon sanitaire, and pushed a United Front line among Western Communists. In 1929, coinciding with the Russian turn from NEP to collectivization ...

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