Gustave Hervé (1871–1944) at the Extremes of the French Third Republic
Chapter 4 L’Association Internationale Antimilitariste and L’Affiche Rouge of 1905
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Hervé grew up in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War, which “was the first moment when the French Left moved from a position of overt antimilitarism (which it had adopted throughout the Second Empire) to one of overwhelming support for a defensive war.”2 However catastrophic defeat was, it “was also the spur to a new beginning” in which both the army and school system were expected to play equal roles in French renewal. That military role was reformulated after 1880 as the day of revanche was postponed. Before the Dreyfus Affair, the army continued to epitomize the “French Revolutionary idea of the army as the ‘nation in arms’”. Except for the most extreme and disgruntled, the army generated great sympathy on the Left in the late nineteenth century.3 “The patriotic element in the republican message was so strong that, despite the theoretical difference in their premises, the broad mass of patriots on the Left was but a step away from nationalism.”4 Things began to change when traditionalists and legitimists began to enter the army in increasing numbers, and the army eventually became the last stronghold of the Right. Thus, the divide between the Right and Left grew as the Third Republic endured, with nationalism increasingly characterizing the Right. Even though Boulangism began as a Left-wing movement, the charismatic general gradually promoted authoritarian ideas displacing earlier Rightist traditions.5 As is widely known, the Left was slow to see the Dreyfus Case as anything more ← 147 | 148...
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