- ACTION FRANÇAISE
- ACTION FRANÇAISE, French royalist and antisemitic movement formed after the dreyfus affair, mainly active between 1896 and 1939. The doctrine of its principal theorist charles maurras , termed "integral nationalism," was the radical expression of the conception of organic national unity. Prominent among its leaders were the writer Léon Daudet , and the historian Jacques Bainville. The party organ, also named L'Action française, was established as a daily in 1908. The Action Française took pride in having reactivated antisemitism in France, alleging that the Jews were one of the principal agents of national disintegration and economic and moral corruption. They were part of an evil plot hatched by a would-be "confederation of the Four Estates," which, beside the Jews, included Protestants, Freemasons, and foreigners in general. These were allegedly using the slogans of liberty and revolution to mask mercenary interests and the political fragmentation of national life by the parties. The Action Française waged scurrilous campaigns against economic enterprises. It hence attacked métèques ("foreigners") according to Maurras' formula "not to divide, but to define." The Semite in particular was singled out as basically barbarian; to combat him was a proof of incorruptibility and concern with national interests. Even so, the Action Française rejected the idea of racist antisemitism as absurd. The importance of the Action Française lies in the respectability of some of its leaders and the influence they exercised on certain circles of French officers between the two world wars. The antisemitic legislation enacted by the Vichy government after the fall of France in World War II was directly inspired by ideas of the Action Française and its program of excluding the Jew from French society and politics. The last issue of L'Action française appeared in Lyons in August 1944. Its spirit has been kept alive by Fascist-inclined and racist publications, such as the weeklies Aspect de la France, Rivarol, and La Nation française. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: S.M. Osgood, French Royalism under the Third and Fourth Republics (1960), includes bibliography; E.R. Tannenbaum, Action Française: Die-Hard Reactionaries in Twentieth-Century France (1962); E.J. Weber, Action Française: Royalism and Reaction in Twentieth-Century France (1962), with bibliography.
Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.