Federation of the Socialist Workers of France

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France's first socialist party, the Federation of the Socialist Workers of France (Fédération des travailleurs socialistes de France or FTSF), was founded in 1879. It was characterised as "possibilist" because it promoted gradual reforms.


After the failure of the Paris commune (1871), French socialism was beheaded. Its leaders were dead or exiled. In 1879, during the Marseille Congress, workers' associations created the FTSF. However, a year later, Jules Guesde and Paul Lafargue (the son-in-law of Karl Marx) left the federation, which they considered too moderate, and founded the French Workers' Party (Parti ouvrier français or POF). The FTSF, led by Paul Brousse, was defined as "possibilist" because it advocated gradual reforms, whereas the POF promoted Marxism.

In the same time, Édouard Vaillant and the heirs of Louis Auguste Blanqui founded the Central Revolutionary Committee (Comité révolutionnaire central or CRC), which represented the French revolutionary tradition.

Electoralism and split[edit]

In the 1880s, the Socialists knew their first electoral success, conquering some municipalities. Jean Allemane and some FTSF members criticized the focus on electoral goals. In 1890, they split and created the Revolutionary Socialist Workers' Party (Parti ouvrier socialiste révolutionnaire or POSR), which advocated the revolutionary "general strike". Additionally, some deputies identified as socialists without being members of any party. These mostly advocated moderation and reform.

End of the FTSF[edit]

In the 1890s, while the Dreyfus Affair divided the country, socialist organizations debated whether to ally with other left-wing forces in defense of Alfred Dreyfus and against nationalism and clericalism. Contrary to Jean Jaurès, Jules Guesde thought the socialists should not ally with groups supporting "bourgeois democracy". In 1899, a debate raged among socialist groups about the participation of Alexandre Millerand in Pierre Waldeck-Rousseau's cabinet, which included the Marquis de Gallifet, best known for having directed the bloody repression during the Paris Commune.

In 1902, the FTSF, the POSR and Jaurès's followers merged into the French Socialist Party. This one merged three years later with the Socialist Party of France of Guesde in the French Section of the Workers' International.

See also[edit]