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The Left Reacts: French Leftists and the 1989 Revolutions in Eastern Europe

Author(s): Michael Lejman

Journal: Journal of Alternative Perspectives in the Social Sciences
ISSN 1944-1088

Volume: 1;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 202;
Date: 2009;
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Keywords: Marxism | Frech Socialism | History | Political Ideology | Revolution | Eastern Europe

The last weeks of 1989 concluded a year of turmoil in EasternEurope and the fall of communist regimes. For a significant portion of the French population the direction of European communism was relevant not only to the European political landscape but to their own beliefs and identities. In Western Europe and America, the press heralded the 1989 communist collapses in Eastern Europe, from groundbreaking Polish elections in June to the fall of the Berlin wall in November, as great victories in the struggle against communism. But relying upon the English speaking press alone to examine Cold War era events provides a misleading image of how Western countries viewed Communist states and the events which led to their collapse. The political climate in America and Britain was highly conservative; however, the political right did not hold as strong a position in other Western nations, even those in the NATO alliance. In places such as Italy and France, viable Communist parties and strong leftist movements existed along with press outlets which represented their ideas and those of a constituency which took a less straightforward view of the West’s moral position. The French Communist Party (PCF) achieved some degree of electoral success throughout the Cold War. The collapse of Communist governments and ensuing dramatic power shifts raised anumber of questions about the French left which my article considers.How did Communists and Socialists in France, view the fall of states who espoused, in theory, the forms of government and social management their own parties advocated? And how did the Socialist and Communist parties in France relate to their ideological counterparts in Eastern Europe?This article employs French newspapers, political journals, and partycommunications to discuss the French left’s expectations for the future of communism in Eastern Europe, their views on the revolutions of 1989, and their hopes and fears for the future of Eastern Europe as the political climate evolved.

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