Algerian Communist Party
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The Algerian Communist Party (in French: Parti Communiste Algérien) was a communist party in Algeria. The PCA emerged in 1920 as an extension the French Communist Party (PCF) and eventually became a separate entity in 1936 (Gilberg, 1988, p. 242), despite this it was recognized by the Comintern in 1935. Its first congress was in Algiers in July 1936, where it was the PCA´s headquarter.
In 1955 the party was banned by the French authorities. The party then oriented itself towards the national liberation movement.
PCA obtained legal status in 1962, and in the same year, it was banned and dissolved. The Algerian communists later regrouped as PAGS.
The PCA before the Algerian Independence war (1920-1954)
The PCA had at the beginning a lack of political sensibility with the colonized aspirations. That is attributed to the majority of Pied Noirs between its members : from 12000 to 15000. The PCA supported the Blum-Viollette law and Setif´s repression of 1945.
However, some Muslims were attracted to the PCA. Some of them were: Ben Ali Boukurt, Ahmed Akkache and the general secretary Bachir Hadj Ali. The PCA additionally had trouble gaining traction since it had lost most of its proletariat base. During the first world war, as France's men were mostly employed along the western front, tens of thousands of Algerians, displaced from the countryside moved to France to take advantage of the labor shortage. A saying emerged that "l’Algerie est une societe dont le proletariat est en France." Essentially, Algeria's proletariat was in France. The First World war had another affect, it increased union membership, leading to a doubling of Algiers Trade Union membership. This only continued as the ranks of displaced workers flooded Algeria's cities from the countryside. However, ties remained with the rural communities in which they had lived for generations. As these people joined the communist party, their networks allowed the party to expand into areas not typically considered its territory. Yet the division that dominated Algerian Society also affected the supposedly egalitarian Communist Party, the division of ethnicity effected the Algerian communist party as well. Additionally, since the party was so tied to France, there were different ideas about how to pursue the Comintern's call for peoples to free themselves around the world. A major part of the Algerian communist party believed that first a revolution must take place in France, and then Algeria could have hers. Leon Trotsky, as well as many other notable internationalists called this a continuation of the slave mentality.
The PCA during the Algerian Independence war (1954-1962)
At the beginning of the Independence War, the PCA was damaged. The Muslim members wanted to join the nationalists, but not the Europeans. That ambiguity was due to the PCF´s equivocal positions.
In 1956 the Central Committee of the PCA voted to join the Revolution maintaining its independent internal administration.
During the War, some members of the PCA distinguished themselves. Henri Maillot was killed while providing arms to the Nationalists and serving the Maquis Rouges. Henri Alleg, as many others, was arrested and tortured, he was the editor of the Alger Republicain.
The PCA collaborated with the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN), and there were accusations from the communists of discrimination and to put them in more dangerous situations by purpose.
The PCA after the Algerian Independence war (1962-1966)
The PCA didn’t take a position on the postwar conflict between the Gouvernement provisional de la République algérienne (GPRA) and the Political Bureau. By the 1962 the PCA and its newspaper al-Hurriya were suppressed and banned .
At the beginning of Ben Bella´s Government the Communist´s still were important in their role by doing publications as Révolution africaine. During the military coup of Boumediene in 1965 the rests of the PCA were eliminated. Communist later reorganized in 1966 at the Parti de l´Avant-Garde Socialiste (PAGS).
Relation with the FNL
During the liberation war, in 1955 the PCA created combatant units called Combattants de la Libération. At 1956 the PCA and the FLN made an agreement in which it integrated the PCA combatant force to the National Liberation Army (ALN), separating from the leadership of the party that remained in Algiers. By 1962, after finished the independence war, Communist were attracting members to the party and publishing Alger Républicain, so the FLN with fear about this, banned the PCA, but they tolerated the communists themselves.
Ben Bella’s constitution of 1963 put the FLN as the only legal party. A curious fact is that FLN took people from the PCA later to work on state, because they were prepared and educated. At 1965 some of the leaders of the PCA, with the left wing of the FLN created an Organization to combat the military coup of Boumediene, the Organization de la résistance populaire (OPR).
Relation with the PCF
PCA appeared at 1920 as an extension of the PCF. PCF was mainly French, European. PCA was against French domination, and it tried to be more Arab by his separation, at least in the wish. Comintern supported the anti-imperialist fights on that times. However, PCA followed the political leadership of the PCF, what it made turn back on the demands of independence. By 1939 both PCA and PCF were banned, damaging the space for communism.
With the massacres of 1945 by the settlers, the PCA and PCF weren’t quick to condemn the massacre. However, the fight against Fascism gave the PCF a good status.
After the Second World War and the massacre, the PCA started a campaign against the state repression, because of nationalists in the party, sometimes radicalized. This make the PCA takes politics more autonomous to the PCF. At the Cold War, the PCF put the focus on the North American imperialism, while the PCA focused on the French imperialism. When liberation war started, the PCA was banned again in 1955 and repressed.
- Drew, Allison. 2003. "Bolshevizing Communist Parties: The Algerian and South African Experiences." International Review of Social History 48 (2): 167-202. doi:10.1017/S0020859003001007.
- ‘This land is not for sale’:; communists, nationalists and the popular front. In 2014. We are no longer in france., ed. Allison Drew, 81-109 Manchester University Press.
- Gilberg, Trond (Ed.). (1988). Coalition Strategies of Marxist Parties. Duke University Press. ISBN 0-8223-0849-5
- Chiviges Naylor, P., Andrew Heggoy, A. Historical Dictionary of Algeria. Second Edition. 1994. The Scarecow Press Inc. Metuchen, N.J., & London. ISBN 0810827484 Consulted 15/03/2017.
- Drew, A. Bolshevizing Communist Parties: The Algerian and South African Experiences. 2003. Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis. Consulted 16/03/2017. Available Online: http://search.proquest.com/docview/203591027?pq-origsite=summon
- Rahal, M. Impossible Opposition: The Magic of the One-Party Regime. 2013. Jadaliyya. Consulted 17/03/2017. Available Online: http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/14890/impossible-opposition_the-magic-of-the-one-party-r
- Drew, A. We are no longer in France. Communists in colonial Algeria. 2014. Manchester University Press. ISBN 9780719090240 Consulted 17/03/2017.
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