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The French Anarchist Labor Movement and «La Vie Ouvrière,» 1909-1914


Francis Feeley McCollum

Pierre Monatte (1881-1960) was 29 years old when he met with a small group of French anarchists in a Paris apartment and decided to publish a bi-weekly magazine which he named «La Vie Ouvrière». The year was 1909, and the anarcho-syndicalist labor movement was perceived as floundering in a quagmire of economic reformism and political opportunism. The revolutionary syndicalists who came thogether at the office of «la Vie Ouvrière» sought (1) to promote the anarchist doctrine of «direct action;» (2) to combat the effects of militarism, nationalism, and authoritarianism; and, (3) to ultimately replace the political economy of capitalism with a socialist economy governed by the producers themselves. The core members of «La Vie Ouvrière» found direction in the slogan of the First International Workingmen's Association, which was founded in London in 1864: «The emancipation of the working class must be the work of the workers themselves». Until the outbreak of the First World War, this was the project of the French Anarchist Labor Movement and its organ, «La Vie Ouvrière».
Contents: This book is about the economic, political, and social conditions in France during the first two decades of the 20th Century. Anarchosyndicalism, Socialism, Reformism met again and again with the repressive forces of order before WW I. Pierre Monatte and «La Vie Ouvrière» sought to educate workers to prepare them for self-defense and social change and, eventually, to take control of the means of production.