The use of my labour-power and the spoliation of it are quite different things. That is against our contract and the law of exchanges. I demand, therefore, a working-day of normal length, and I demand it without any appeal to your heart, for in money matters sentiment is out of place. You may be a model citizen, perhaps a member of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and in the odour of sanctity to boot; but the thing that you represent face to face with me has no heart in its breast. That which seems to throb there is my own heart-beating.
I demand the normal working-day because I, like every other seller, demand the value of my commodity. We see then, that, apart from extremely elastic bounds, the nature of the exchange of commodities itself imposes no limit to the working-day, no limit to surplus-labour. The capitalist maintains his rights as a purchaser when he tries to make the working-day as long as possible, and to make, whenever possible, two working-days out of one. On the other hand, the peculiar nature of the commodity sold implies a limit to its consumption by the purchaser, and the labourer maintains his right as seller when he wishes to reduce the working-day to one of definite normal duration.
There is here, therefore, an antinomy, right against right, both equally bearing the seal of the law of exchanges. Between equal rights force decides. Hence is it that in the history of capitalist production, the determination of what is a working-day, presents itself as the result of a struggle, a struggle between collective capital, i. Capital has not invented surplus-labour. Hence in antiquity over-work becomes horrible only when the object is to obtain exchange-value in its specific independent money-form; in the production of gold and silver.
Compulsory working to death is here the recognised form of over-work. Only read Diodorus Siculus. Hence the negro labour in the Southern States of the American Union preserved something of a patriarchal character, so long as production was chiefly directed to immediate local consumption. But in proportion, as the export of cotton became of vital interest to these states, the over-working of the negro and sometimes the using up of his life in 7 years of labour became a factor in a calculated and calculating system.
It was no longer a question of obtaining from him a certain quantity of useful products. Suppose the working-day consists of 6 hours of necessary labour, and 6 hours of surplus-labour. Then the free labourer gives the capitalist every week 6 x 6 or 36 hours of surplus-labour.
It is the same as if he worked 3 days in the week for himself, and 3 days in the week gratis for the capitalist. But this is not evident on the surface. Surplus-labour and necessary labour glide one into the other. I can, therefore, express the same relationship by saying, e. The necessary labour which the Wallachian peasant does for his own maintenance is distinctly marked off from his surplus-labour on behalf of the Boyard. The one he does on his own field, the other on the seignorial estate. Both parts of the labour-time exist, therefore, independently, side by side one with the other.
This, however, can make no difference with regard to the quantitative relation of surplus-labour to necessary labour. Their original mode of production was based on community of the soil, but not in the Slavonic or Indian form. Part of the land was cultivated in severalty as freehold by the members of the community, another part — ager publicus — was cultivated by them in common. The products of this common labour served partly as a reserve fund against bad harvests and other accidents, partly as a public store for providing the costs of war, religion, and other common expenses.
In course of time military and clerical dignitaries usurped, along with the common land, the labour spent upon it. Thus Russia conquered with one blow the magnates of the Danubian provinces, and the applause of liberal cretins throughout Europe. In all, 14 days in the year. With deep insight into Political Economy, however, the working-day is not taken in its ordinary sense, but as the working-day necessary to the production of an average daily product; and that average daily product is determined in so crafty a way that no Cyclops would be done with it in 24 hours.
To this had to be added the so-called jobagie, service due to the lord for extraordinary occasions. In proportion to the size of its population, every village has to furnish annually a definite contingent to the jobagie. But the agricultural year in Wallachia numbers in consequence of the severe climate only days, of which 40 for Sundays and holidays, 30 on an average for bad weather, together 70 days, do not count.
In one day, e. In Moldavia conditions are still harder. These acts curb the passion of capital for a limitless draining of labour-power, by forcibly limiting the working-day by state regulations, made by a state that is ruled by capitalist-and landlord. Apart from the working-class movement that daily grew more threatening, the limiting of factory labour was dictated by the same necessity which spread guano over the English fields. The same blind eagerness for plunder that in the one case exhausted the soil, had, in the other, torn up by the roots the living force of the nation.
Periodical epidemics speak on this point as clearly as the diminishing military standard in Germany and France. The Factory Act of now in force allows for the average working-day 10 hours, i. Certain guardians of these laws are appointed, Factory Inspectors, directly under the Home Secretary, whose reports are published half-yearly, by order of Parliament. They give regular and official statistics of the capitalistic greed for surplus-labour. Let us listen, for a moment, to the Factory Inspectors. He takes 5 minutes from the beginning and from the end of the half hour nominally allowed for breakfast, and 10 minutes at the beginning and end of the hour nominally allowed for dinner.
He works for a quarter of an hour sometimes more, sometimes less after 2 p. Thus his gain is —. Or 5 hours and 40 minutes weekly, which multiplied by 50 working weeks in the year allowing two for holidays and occasional stoppages is equal to 27 working-days. The less business there is, the more profit has to be made on the business done. The less time spent in work, the more of that time has to be turned into surplus labour-time. I continue, however, to receive about the usual number of complaints that half, or three-quarters of an hour in the day, are snatched from the workers by encroaching upon the times professedly allowed for rest and refreshment.
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The same phenomenon was reproduced on a smaller scale during the frightful cotton-crises from to But, if the hands remain in a factory after the machinery has ceased to revolve It is evident that in this atmosphere the formation of surplus-value by surplus-labour, is no secret. Now, let us cast a glance at certain branches of production in which the exploitation of labour is either free from fetters to this day, or was so yesterday.
We are not surprised that Mr. Mallett, or any other manufacturer, should stand forward and protest against discussion The system, as the Rev. Montagu Valpy describes it, is one of unmitigated slavery, socially, physically, morally, and spiritually What can be thought of a town which holds a public meeting to petition that the period of labour for men shall be diminished to eighteen hours a day? We declaim against the Virginian and Carolinian cotton-planters.
Is their black-market, their lash, and their barter of human flesh more detestable than this slow sacrifice of humanity which takes place in order that veils and collars may be fabricated for the benefit of capitalists? The potteries of Staffordshire have, during the last 22 years, been the subject of three parliamentary inquiries. The result is embodied in Mr. Greenhow of published by order of the medical officer of the Privy Council Public Health, 3rd Report, , lastly, in the report of Mr. From the children we may form an opinion as to the adults, especially the girls and women, and that in a branch of industry by the side of which cotton-spinning appears an agreeable and healthful occupation.
William Wood, 9 years old, was 7 years and 10 months when he began to work. He came to work every day in the week at 6 a. I have done so seven or eight weeks. Fifteen hours of labour for a child 7 years old! I come at 6. Sometimes I come at 4. I have not been in bed since the night before last. There were eight or nine other boys working last night.
All but one have come this morning. I get 3 shillings and sixpence. I do not get any more for working at night. I worked two nights last week. I have only half an hour sometimes; on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Greenhow states that the average duration of life in the pottery districts of Stoke-on-Trent, and Wolstanton is extraordinarily short. Although in the district of Stoke, only Boothroyd, a medical practitioner at Hanley, says:. These statements are taken from the report of Dr. Greenhow in From the report of the Commissioners in , the following: Dr. Arledge, senior physician of the North Staffordshire Infirmary, says:.
They are, as a rule, stunted in growth, ill-shaped, and frequently ill-formed in the chest; they become prematurely old, and are certainly short-lived; they are phlegmatic and bloodless, and exhibit their debility of constitution by obstinate attacks of dyspepsia, and disorders of the liver and kidneys, and by rheumatism.
But of all diseases they are especially prone to chest-disease, to pneumonia, phthisis, bronchitis, and asthma. Scrofula attacking the glands, or bones, or other parts of the body, is a disease of two-thirds or more of the potters Charles Parsons, late house surgeon of the same institution, writes in a letter to Commissioner Longe, amongst other things:.
And all that holds of the potteries in England is true of those in Scotland. The manufacture of lucifer matches dates from , from the discovery of the method of applying phosphorus to the match itself. Since this manufacture has rapidly developed in England, and has extended especially amongst the thickly populated parts of London as well as in Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol, Norwich, Newcastle and Glasgow.
With it has spread the form of lockjaw, which a Vienna physician in discovered to be a disease peculiar to lucifer-matchmakers. Half the workers are children under thirteen, and young persons under eighteen. Of the witnesses that Commissioner White examined , were under 18, 50 under 10, 10 only 8, and 5 only 6 years old. A range of the working-day from 12 to 14 or 15 hours, night-labour, irregular meal-times, meals for the most part taken in the very workrooms that are pestilent with phosphorus.
Dante would have found the worst horrors of his Inferno surpassed in this manufacture.
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In the manufacture of paper-hangings the coarser sorts are printed by machine; the finer by hand block-printing. The most active business months are from the beginning of October to the end of April. During this time the work goes on fast and furious without intermission from 6 a. I have to bawl at them to keep them awake. We worked last winter till 9 evening , and the winter before till I used to cry with sore feet every night last winter.
I have often knelt down to feed him as he stood by the machine, for he could not leave it or stop. For the six weeks ending May 2nd this year , the average was higher — 8 days or 84 hours a week. Still this same Mr. Our machine is always stopped for dinner. What generosity! There is no waste of paper and colour to speak of. No branch of industry in England we do not take into account the making of bread by machinery recently introduced has preserved up to the present day a method of production so archaic, so — as we see from the poets of the Roman Empire — pre-christian, as baking.
But capital, as was said earlier, is at first indifferent as to the technical character of the labour-process; it begins by taking it just as it finds it. In fact this kind of sophistry knows better than Protagoras how to make white black, and black white, and better than the Eleatics how to demonstrate ad oculos [before your own eyes] that everything is only appearance.
The cry was so urgent that Mr. Tremenheere, also a member of the Commission of several times mentioned, was appointed Royal Commissioner of Inquiry.
His report,  together with the evidence given, roused not the heart of the public but its stomach. Englishmen, always well up in the Bible, knew well enough that man, unless by elective grace a capitalist, or landlord, or sinecurist, is commanded to eat his bread in the sweat of his brow, but they did not know that he had to eat daily in his bread a certain quantity of human perspiration mixed with the discharge of abscesses, cobwebs, dead black-beetles, and putrid German yeast, without counting alum, sand, and other agreeable mineral ingredients.
Without any regard to his holiness, Free-trade, the free baking-trade was therefore placed under the supervision of the State inspectors Close of the Parliamentary session of , and by the same Act of Parliament, work from 9 in the evening to 5 in the morning was forbidden for journeymen bakers under The last clause speaks volumes as to the over-work in this old-fashioned, homely line of business.
The temperature of a bakehouse ranges from about 75 to upwards of 90 degrees, and in the smaller bakehouses approximates usually to the higher rather than to the lower degree of heat. The underselling masters generally sell their bread It is not their practice to deliver bread from house to house.
Towards the end of the week The adulteration of bread and the formation of a class of bakers that sells the bread below the full price, date from the beginning of the 18th century, from the time when the corporate character of the trade was lost, and the capitalist in the form of the miller or flour-factor, rises behind the nominal master baker. After what has just been said, it will be understood that the Report of the Commission classes journeymen bakers among the short-lived labourers, who, having by good luck escaped the normal decimation of the children of the working-class, rarely reach the age of Nevertheless, the baking trade is always overwhelmed with applicants.
The sources of the supply of these labour-powers to London are Scotland, the western agricultural districts of England, and Germany. In the years , the journeymen bakers in Ireland organised at their own expense great meetings to agitate against night and Sunday work. The public — e. The example of Limerick led to a retrogression in Ennis and Tipperary.
In Cork, where the strongest possible demonstration of feeling took place, the masters, by exercising their power of turning the men out of employment, have defeated the movement. In Dublin, the master bakers have offered the most determined opposition to the movement, and by discountenancing as much as possible the journeymen promoting it, have succeeded in leading the men into acquiescence in Sunday work and night-work, contrary to the convictions of the men. That for master bakers to induce their workmen, by the fear of losing employment, to violate their religious convictions and their better feelings, to disobey the laws of the land, and to disregard public opinion this all refers to Sunday labour , is calculated to provoke ill-feeling between workmen and masters, That work beyond 12 hours has a tendency to undermine the health of the workingman, and so leads to premature old age and death, to the great injury of families of working-men, thus deprived of the care and support of the head of the family when most required.
So far, we have dealt with Ireland. A tremendous railway accident has hurried hundreds of passengers into another world. The negligence of the employee is the cause of the misfortune. They declare with one voice before the jury that ten or twelve years before, their labour only lasted eight hours a-day.
During the last five or six years it had been screwed up to 14, 18, and 20 hours, and under a specially severe pressure of holiday-makers, at times of excursion trains, it often lasted for 40 or 50 hours without a break. They were ordinary men, not Cyclops. At a certain point their labour-power failed. Torpor seized them. Their brain ceased to think, their eyes to see. From the motley crowd of labourers of all callings, ages, sexes, that press on us more busily than the souls of the slain on Ulysses, on whom — without referring to the Blue books under their arms — we see at a glance the mark of over-work, let us take two more figures whose striking contrast proves that before capital all men are alike — a milliner and a blacksmith.
The old, often-told story,  was once more recounted. It was just now the height of the season. It was necessary to conjure up in the twinkling of an eye the gorgeous dresses for the noble ladies bidden to the ball in honour of the newly-imported Princess of Wales. At night, they slept in pairs in one of the stifling holes into which the bedroom was divided by partitions of board.
Mary Anne Walkley fell ill on the Friday, died on Sunday, without, to the astonishment of Madame Elise, having previously completed the work in hand. The doctor, Mr. We will take the blacksmith as a type. If the poets were true, there is no man so hearty, so merry, as the blacksmith; he rises early and strikes his sparks before the sun; he eats and drinks and sleeps as no other man. Working in moderation, he is, in fact, in one of the best of human positions, physically speaking. But we follow him into the city or town, and we see the stress of work on that strong man, and what then is his position in the death-rate of his country.
In Marylebone, blacksmiths die at the rate of 31 per thousand per annum, or 11 above the mean of the male adults of the country in its entirety. The occupation, instinctive almost as a portion of human art, unobjectionable as a branch of human industry, is made by mere excess of work, the destroyer of the man. He can strike so many blows per day, walk so many steps, breathe so many breaths, produce so much work, and live an average, say of fifty years; he is made to strike so many more blows, to walk so many more steps, to breathe so many more breaths per day, and to increase altogether a fourth of his life.
He meets the effort; the result is, that producing for a limited time a fourth more work, he dies at 37 for Constant capital, the means of production, considered from the standpoint of the creation of surplus-value, only exist to absorb labour, and with every drop of labour a proportional quantity of surplus-labour.
While they fail to do this, their mere existence causes a relative loss to the capitalist, for they represent during the time they lie fallow, a useless advance of capital. And this loss becomes positive and absolute as soon as the intermission of their employment necessitates additional outlay at the recommencement of work. The prolongation of the working-day beyond the limits of the natural day, into the night, only acts as a palliative.
It quenches only in a slight degree the vampire thirst for the living blood of labour. To appropriate labour during all the 24 hours of the day is, therefore, the inherent tendency of capitalist production. But as it is physically impossible to exploit the same individual labour-power constantly during the night as well as the day, to overcome this physical hindrance, an alternation becomes necessary between the workpeople whose powers are exhausted by day, and those who are used up by night.
This alternation may be effected in various ways; e. It is well known that this relay system, this alternation of two sets of workers, held full sway in the full-blooded youth-time of the English cotton manufacture, and that at the present time it still flourishes, among others, in the cotton spinning of the Moscow district.
The working-time here includes, besides the 24 hours of the 6 working-days, a great part also of the 24 hours of Sunday. The workers consist of men and women, adults and children of both sexes. The ages of the children and young persons run through all intermediate grades, from 8 in some cases from 6 to In some branches of industry, the girls and women work through the night together with the males. Placing on one side the generally injurious influence of night-labour,  the duration of the process of production, unbroken during the 24 hours, offers very welcome opportunities of exceeding the limits of the normal working-day, e.
These hours are, indeed, in some cases, not only cruelly but even incredibly long for children. Amongst a number of boys it will, of course, not unfrequently happen that one or more are from some cause absent. When this happens, their place is made up by one or more boys, who work in the other turn. That this is a well understood system is plain Another, at 9 years old, sometimes made three hour shifts running, and, when 10, has made two days and two nights running. Live five miles off. Slept on the floor of the furnace, over head, with an apron under me, and a bit of a jacket over me.
The two other days I have been here at 6 a. Before I came here I was nearly a year at the same work at some works in the country. Began there, too, at 3 on Saturday morning — always did, but was very gain [near] home, and could sleep at home. At the forges and in the rolling mills the hands work night and day, in relays, but all the other parts of the work are day-work, i. In the forge the hours are from 12 to Some of the hands always work in the night, without any alternation of day and night work We do not find any difference in the health of those who work regularly by night and those who work by day, and probably people can sleep better if they have the same period of rest than if it is changed About 20 of the boys under the age of 18 work in the night sets We could not well do without lads under 18 working by night.
The objection would be the increase in the cost of production Skilled hands and the heads in every department are difficult to get, but of lads we could get any number But from the small proportion of boys that we employ, the subject i. Ellis, one of the firm of Messrs.
With reference to the proposed alteration of the law, Mr. Ellis says:. But we do not think that any line could be drawn over the age of 12, at which boys could be dispensed with for night-work. But we would sooner be prevented from employing boys under the age of 13, or even so high as 14, at all, than not be allowed to employ boys that we do have at night. Those boys who work in the day sets must take their turn in the night sets also, because the men could not work in the night sets only; it would ruin their health We think, however, that night-work in alternate weeks is no harm.
Our objections to not allowing boys under 18 to work at night, would be on account of the increase of expense, but this is the only reason. What mealy-mouthed phraseology! Labour is scarce here, and might fall short if there were such a regulation. The managing director had handed in his evidence to the Government Commissioner, Mr. White, in writing. Later he found it convenient to suppress the MS. White, however, has a good memory. He remembered quite clearly that for the Messrs. On the same subject Mr.
Sanderson, of the firm of Sanderson, Bros. The chief would be the increase of cost from employing men instead of boys. I cannot say what this would be, but probably it would not be enough to enable the manufacturers to raise the price of steel, and consequently it would fall on them, as of course the men what queer-headed folk! The men would not like so well not to have boys under them, as men would be less obedient. Besides, boys must begin young to learn the trade. Leaving day-work alone open to boys would not answer this purpose.
And why not? Why could not boys learn their handicraft in the day-time? Your reason? Each man would want half of this profit. In other words, Messrs. Sanderson would have to pay part of the wages of the adult men out of their own pockets instead of by the night-work of the boys. Sanderson have something else to make besides steel.
Steel-making is simply a pretext for surplus-value making. They are there to absorb surplus-labour, and naturally absorb more in 24 hours than in In fact they give, by grace of God and law, the Sandersons a cheque on the working-time of a certain number of hands for all the 24 hours of the day, and they lose their character as capital, are therefore a pure loss for the Sandersons, as soon as their function of absorbing labour is interrupted. Sanderson answers in the name of all the Sandersons:. But the use of furnaces would involve a further loss in our case.
If they were kept up there would be a waste of fuel instead of, as now, a waste of the living substance of the workers , and if they were not, there would be loss of time in laying the fires and getting the heat up whilst the loss of sleeping time, even to children of 8 is a gain of working-time for the Sanderson tribe , and the furnaces themselves would suffer from the changes of temperature. What is the length of time during which capital may consume the labour-power whose daily value it buys?
How far may the working-day be extended beyond the working-time necessary for the reproduction of labour-power itself? Hence it is self-evident that the labourer is nothing else, his whole life through, than labour-power, that therefore all his disposable time is by nature and law labour-time, to be devoted to the self-expansion of capital. Time for education, for intellectual development, for the fulfilling of social functions and for social intercourse, for the free-play of his bodily and mental activity, even the rest time of Sunday and that in a country of Sabbatarians!
But in its blind unrestrainable passion, its were-wolf hunger for surplus-labour, capital oversteps not only the moral, but even the merely physical maximum bounds of the working-day. It usurps the time for growth, development, and healthy maintenance of the body. It steals the time required for the consumption of fresh air and sunlight. It higgles over a meal-time, incorporating it where possible with the process of production itself, so that food is given to the labourer as to a mere means of production, as coal is supplied to the boiler, grease and oil to the machinery.
It reduces the sound sleep needed for the restoration, reparation, refreshment of the bodily powers to just so many hours of torpor as the revival of an organism, absolutely exhausted, renders essential. Capital cares nothing for the length of life of labour-power. All that concerns it is simply and solely the maximum of labour-power, that can be rendered fluent in a working-day.
The capitalistic mode of production essentially the production of surplus-value, the absorption of surplus-labour , produces thus, with the extension of the working-day, not only the deterioration of human labour-power by robbing it of its normal, moral and physical, conditions of development and function. It produces also the premature exhaustion and death of this labour-power itself.
But the value of the labour-power includes the value of the commodities necessary for the reproduction of the worker, or for the keeping up of the working-class. If then the unnatural extension of the working-day, that capital necessarily strives after in its unmeasured passion for self-expansion, shortens the length of life of the individual labourer, and therefore the duration of his labour-power, the forces used up have to be replaced at a more rapid rate and the sum of the expenses for the reproduction of labour-power will be greater; just as in a machine the part of its value to be reproduced every day is greater the more rapidly the machine is worn out.
It would seem therefore that the interest of capital itself points in the direction of a normal working-day. The slave-owner buys his labourer as he buys his horse. If he loses his slave, he loses capital that can only be restored by new outlay in the slave-mart. It is accordingly a maxim of slave management, in slave-importing countries, that the most effective economy is that which takes out of the human chattel in the shortest space of time the utmost amount of exertion it is capable of putting forth.
It is in tropical culture, where annual profits often equal the whole capital of plantations, that negro life is most recklessly sacrificed.
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It is the agriculture of the West Indies, which has been for centuries prolific of fabulous wealth, that has engulfed millions of the African race. It is in Cuba, at this day, whose revenues are reckoned by millions, and whose planters are princes, that we see in the servile class, the coarsest fare, the most exhausting and unremitting toil, and even the absolute destruction of a portion of its numbers every year.
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Videos About This Book. Colonization had made it in part possible to forget the humiliating defeat suffered at the hands of the German Second Reich, the new strongman of Europe. While the colonial adventure was somewhat risky - as the Franco-British Fashoda incident in Sudan and the two Franco-German crises in Morocco in and had shown - , these issues had nonetheless been overcome.
Although, in hindsight, this two-sided system of alliances has often been presented as a factor that encouraged escalation, it was no means the only cause. It can just as easily be seen as a force to neutralize the European powers. And yet following the second Moroccan crisis in , distrust between the chancelleries and amongst public opinion in each country was again a growing issue. A series of laws adopted between and created a mandatory, universal two-year military service;  following heated debate, this was extended to three years in Alongside this, the army modernized.
The French army was capable of very rapidly mobilizing 1. For boys, the army gradually became a second republican school. By celebrating itself during holidays and military parades, like during Bastille Day celebrations on 14 July, the army found its niche in the newly formed national conscience of citizens. The patiently constructed republican identity of the early 20 th century was both the cement of the country and one of its main strengths.
This consensus based on shared values certainly did not mean there were no tensions or struggles, as the string of successive governments starting in and the success of new opposition political parties notably illustrated. While one part of the SFIO and particularly the CGT embraced anti-state and revolutionary rhetoric, socialism in France was for the most part a profoundly republican movement and school of thought.
Beyond the political and social tensions and affairs, the regime was broadly accepted both in the countryside and in factories.
The pre-war years were among the best the country had experienced. The Franc was stable, strong and convertible into gold. France presented the contrasted image of being both a rural society - over 55 percent of inhabitants lived in municipalities of less than 2, inhabitants and over 40 percent worked in the primary sector - but also resolutely modern in the urban and industrial spheres.
France was the fourth largest industrial power in the world at the time. This balance helped ensure both the economic and social stability of the country. The prosperity of its economy drove improvements in French standards of living which were second only in the world to Great Britain. A corollary as much as a part of this phenomenon quite like the effects of education and literacy , birth rates and fecundity began to decrease more rapidly after The family model of one, two or at most three children was increasingly common and had practically become the norm by the eve of the war.
This model slowly became a topic of concern as France differed more and more from its neighbours in this respect at a time when the influence of a country was measured in terms of its demographic thrust. While in absolute terms, with This demographic parameter aside, France was the image of a country that was rich, powerful, politically stable and whose culture was undeniably influential. Some recent research has begun to reassess the role played by France in the crisis of July This, however, occurred quite late in the game.
The origins of the crisis that led to the war were in the Balkans, where French interests were secondary and indirect, despite the fact that France had always been a traditional ally to Serbia. They as such hoped to delay any consultation between France and Russia. Three days later, on the morning of 28 July, the dual monarchy declared war on Serbia.
France, like all European countries, was then faced with the question of how to react should the conflict escalate. Yet the situation was such that France by no means played a leading role in the crisis of July In the end, the responsibility of France, its President and government hinged more on their relative absence from the international scene in July and then on their acceptance of a war deemed inevitable, than on their supposed war mongering, as claimed by the left and pacifists after To grasp the state of mind of the population in early August , we need to take into account both short- and medium-term factors.
Through various crises and challenges, the Third Republic had managed to create a sense of citizenship and united republican patriotism. Although this patriotism was for the most part defensive, there were nonetheless occasional surges which sometimes morphed into nationalism. However, as the debate in over increasing military service from two to three years and the legislative elections of April-May in which the Socialist party gained ground while the right wing lost seats had shown, France in was not a revengeful or overly aggressive country.
Media coverage in the middle of the summer of was not very conducive to fairly assessing the gravity of the situation, either.
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The assassination in Sarajevo that had been front page news in late June gradually disappeared from media reports. The trial of Madame Henriette Caillaux who had shot dead Gaston Calmette , editor in chief of Le Figaro , to clear the name of her husband, leader of the Radical Party, had begun on 22 July. The situation became even more complicated for socialists following news of the Russian mobilization on the morning of 31 July. They could see that this would risk definitively dragging France into war since Germany would likely respond to Russian mobilization by also mobilizing.
On 28 July, the CGT union announced that it would not lead a general strike movement against the war and on the evening of 31 July, following the crushing news about the death of the socialist leader, it solemnly reiterated the unanimous position taken by members of its confederal committee. It is therefore understandable that the prevailing emotion after the declaration of war was that of astonishment. A series of mixed emotions followed on the heels this astonishment: enthusiasm for some, resignation or resolution  for the majority. The country indeed tipped into the war extremely quickly.
In , the war began in France with a series of catastrophic battles. The first month of the conflict had effects that lasted right up to the end of since the German advance resulted in the country being split in three: war-front France, occupied France and behind-the-lines France. Only a small portion of Alsace, around the town of Thann, remained in French hands throughout the war. Overall, August and September were among the deadliest months of the war. Following the Battle of the Marne , after only six weeks of combat, the French had already lost about , men. On 22 August alone, 27, French soldiers were killed, making it the deadliest day in French military history.
While the average number of French losses during the First World War was roughly soldiers per day, this increased to about 2, deaths per day over this six-week period. These first weeks were also brutal for civilians. The German atrocities committed by worn-out troops wrongly convinced that they were the target of irregular soldiers resulted in over deaths in the civilian population and dozens of burned out villages, notably in the Meurthe-et-Moselle department. A combination of fatigue within the German troops, the largely utopian nature of the Schlieffen Plan and the combined errors of Helmuth von Moltke in the general staff and Alexander von Kluck at the head of the right wing of the German army allowed Joseph Joffre to regain control and halt the German advance on the Marne September Riddled with fierce battles, notably at Ypres , this race was lost by both sides and the front stabilized from the North Sea to the Swiss border.
In this configuration, each side was both a besieger and besieged. Until the spring of and despite numerous attempts to break through, the defensive position won out over the offensive position, thus resulting in a war that lasted far longer than the most pessimistic prognoses. Between and , 7. In addition to these, , more soldiers from the colonies who were not French citizens enlisted in the army and about , saw combat in Europe. Over 4. For soldiers, the war was defined by two types of experiences: very difficult daily life and moments of actual combat which were a form of paroxysm within this everyday life.
But life was also comprised of long periods of inactivity, discouragement and boredom that were in part filled with reading, writing letters , doing craftwork in the trenches or trying to deal with lice, rats and other vermin. War transformed the bodies of men, too. It spoke of the consequences that life in the trenches had on their bodies and faces. Facial hair was a symbol of their virility, but also of the physical transformation caused by the war.
In addition to this gruelling and painful daily life, there was a whole other set of experiences that were often more perilous still: combat. The deadliest year for France was , with about , deaths, although proportionately was even deadlier with , men killed in only five months. The French army sought to break through the front in the Vosges, at Hartmannswillerkopf, at Artois and in Champagne in the spring and in the autumn. Indeed, the scale of fighting changed in Verdun.
The most intense phase of the battle lasted from 21 February to July, but it endured until December. Erich von Falkenhayn wanted to get the Western front moving again and chose to attack the French in this hilly sector.
Economic Manuscripts: Capital Vol. I - Chapter Ten
Roughly 1 million shells of all sizes were fired on the first day alone. The battle remained undecided until June, but the Germans never actually managed to break through the front. Already in , the battle of Verdun became a symbol of the Great War. Once the battle had begun and the French resistance been proven, Falkenhayn nonetheless insisted on pursuing the attacks over and over again.
And yet this strategy chosen after the fact and by default also failed. Although Falkenhayn had bled the French army, he had done the same to his own troops. The losses were indeed comparable, with , missing or killed on the French side and over , on the German side. There were in addition to this , wounded on both sides. This offensive had been planned for a long time, since 6 December The 1 July offensive at the meeting point of the French and British armies was a catastrophe.
In a single day, nearly 20, soldiers from British Empire armies were killed and slightly less than 40, were wounded. This represented half of the British troops engaged on 1 July. The attacks in the Somme sector which, unlike Verdun, stretched over several dozen kilometres, nonetheless continued until the end of autumn without the set goals ever being met.
The final result was even worse than in Verdun since in less than six months there were likely close to 1. While for the French the Battle of Verdun earned its status as the symbolic battle of the Great War, the Somme was actually even more deserving of the title. It was a global battle in a world war whereas Verdun was an essentially Franco-German affair.
Moreover, it was exemplary in showcasing how totalization had taken hold of the Western model of war. Expectations and hopes about the pending victory were perhaps also influential. One of the main factors was the largely defensive perception of the war. Right from August , Germany was perceived as the aggressor. The fact that the war played out right in the middle of the country further reinforced this feeling which in any case persisted throughout the war.
Not only did people need to defend themselves and the homeland, they also needed to ensure victory in order to liberate the population in the ten departments that had been invaded. Focused as they were on the essentially political and military facets of the war, historians for a long time overlooked the case of those in occupied France, as well as the refugees who fled the invasion, but these topics are now being increasingly studied.
Although the occupation initially resulted in a decrease in violence against civilians, which had culminated during the period of invasion from August-September , the situation was seen as doubly scandalous: firstly, due to the spectacular measures taken by the occupier e. The economic exploitation of the occupied territories resulted in supply difficulties which worsened during the war since this exploitation intensified as the effects of the blockade were felt in Germany. Those occupied indeed quickly became dependent on humanitarian aid, notably from the Commission for Relief in Belgium CRB.
In addition to requisitions, freedom of information and movement were also closely controlled. Not only was it impossible for refugees to return or communicate with the non-occupied departments, but movement within the invaded territories was also difficult and subject to approval. Information was carefully managed and was released by a controlled press that published the views of the occupier, like the Gazette des Ardennes.