Looking at the issues in the French general strike, which according to most reports failed in its attempt to stop all economic activity for one day, is like facing mud puddles. It is difficult to determine whether the opposition of the "Confederation Generale du Travail" to Premier Daladier's thirty-two decree daws, one of which suspended the forty-hour week, represents' a struggle between labor and capital or between anarchy and order. Or, whether the conflict is one between communism and fascism, or communism and democracy. The French themselves are as much confused as observers here and abroad; every one finds it simple to discover a bit of everything in the situation. As the dust settles on Paris, trade and transportation roll again, and Jouhaux, secretary-general of the C. G. T., admits, that Daladier's requisition order and use of military force brought a resumption of work, it seems possible to make some sense out of Europe's first general strike since 1926.
If the government, signifying Daladier and the Radical-Socialist party, paradoxically conservative; has won a victory, labor, headed by Leon Blum's Socialists and the Communists, has not suffered defeat. The leaders of the C. G. T. announced beforehand that the strike would proceed calmly and without violence; and so it did. Submission therefore, to the army was natural; but what appears significant, it was a surrender to discipline, a sacrifice of labor's closest interests in order to promote the welfare and unity of France as a nation. Events of the last few years have proved the French factions hostile to compromise and cooperation, which are the essence of democracy. The quick submission of labor to government thus comes as a surprise, and it should be regarded by Daladier as evidence that the workers are willing to do their part in solidifying France.
Yet in the midst of victory it is clear that French government has yet to do its part. While labor has demonstrated its democratic faith, the government through its decree laws, which promoted the strike, stooped dangerously close to dictatorship. Blum is justified in calling a "shadow parliament" and in rebuking Daladier for refusing to convoke the French Parliament. Putting these laws into effect without consulting the people's representatives violated the spirit of democracy. Such uncalled-for methods will no more serve to produce the unity which that country so badly needs than constant rebellion against the forces of rule. When Daladier told the people last night that "democracy has triumphed over anarchy and disorder," America hopes that he meant a democratic and not a fascistic democracy.