Alphonse Merrheim: The Emergence of Reformism in by N. Papayanis

By N. Papayanis

this is often apoliticalbiography ofAlphonseMerrheim, asignificant chief of the Conf6d6ration G6n6raledu Travail(CGT)intheyears among 1904 and 1923 and crucial member of the Federation of Metalworkers throughout the sameperiod. Hewas born inthe Nord in 1871 and becameaworkeratanearlyage, firstinmetallurgythanintextiles and eventually once again in metalworking. In his ideologicalevolution hepassed via asocialistpoliticalpartyandthenconvertedtorevolutionarys- dicalism. In his strange fusion of conception and perform, Merrheim represented a sort of innovative syndicalism that is helping outline the features of that circulate. He believed, alongwithother revo- tionary syndicalists, that at some point a staff' basic strike might ov- throw capitalism. however the syndicalist flow wouldpreparethat ev- tualitybystrengtheningtheworkersthrough socialreformsandbycreating their type awareness via schooling. Merrheim, in spite of the fact that, p- ticipatedsothoroughly intradeunionactivityandstudiedtheorganization of capitalistindustry so carefullythat he cametoemphasizetheprepa- tions for this type of generalstrike even more than thestrikeitself. The try out of his perspective cameon theeve of, in the course of, and instantly afterWorld warfare I; for opposite tothe calls for of yes militant and innovative workerswhobelievedthatthethreatofwar andthenthedislocationcaused by means of the conflict demanded a progressive reaction, Merrheim over and over stressedthe risks ofsuch anaction sooner than the adequatepreparation of the staff. Hissteadfast refusaleventorespondtothestrikeactions of a few ofhisown metalworkers in 1919 exhibits the imperative contradiction among hisrevolutionary idea and reformistpractice. This booklet examinesindetailMerrheim'sevolution fromarevolutionary to areformer. Insodoingit alsoshedslightonanequallysubstantialtopic, particularly, howacertaintypeofworkerrespondedtoindustrializationinthe past due 19th and earlytwentiethcenturies. Merrheim is an engaging determine, too, becauseofhispositioninthelabormovement, foritrepresents a special focalpoint forthestudy oflaborhistory. Merrheim enteredthe Frenchlabormovement within the Nineties and remainedactiveinituntil 1923. in the course of that periodhewas, successively, alocalunion chief, co-secretary xii of a nationallaborfederation, and animportant figurewithinthe CGT. by no means thesecretary-generaloftheCGT, hewasneverthelesstheconfident of thesecretary-generalfrom 1909, L6on Jouhaux.

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