Gustave Hervé (1871–1944) at the Extremes of the French Third Republic
Chapter 8 The Draveil-Villeneuve-Saint-Georges Strike and Demonstrations
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“We were living under the first Pro-Consulate of Clemenceau, and this champion of individual freedom, this paladin of free thinking was filling the prisons with journalists.” That was how Victor Méric recalled his first incarceration at La Santé at the end of 1908.1 Draveil and Villeneuve-Saint-Georges have come to be associated with Georges Clemenceau whose good intentions toward social reform gave way to an “end justifies the means” use of agents provocateurs in order to destroy what he assumed were lawless enemies of a Republic whose barricades Clemenceau, the former acolyte of Auguste Blanqui, now manned on the side of “law and order”, if not justice. On the other side of the barricades were former Dreyfusards like Hervé and Jean Jaurès, along with other socialists, syndicalists of the C.G.T., and a variety of anarchists, not to mention all the possible reactionary and anti-Republican forces including royalists, lingering Bonapartists, and certain anti-Dreyfusard Catholics. Even though Clemenceau created the new Ministry of Labor when he first became the Président du Conseil and appointed the Independent Socialist René Viviani to the post, the working class offensive starting around 1906, replete as it was with major strikes, led Clemenceau to become a man of order.2
The critical events in the working class movement which occurred in the summer of 1908 began with strikes in May in the construction industry in the areas just southeast of Paris. Because the strikes involved the important question ← 287 | 288 → of...
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