The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a political current in the French workers’ movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, led by J. Guesde. During the 1880’s and early 1890’s the Guesdists, who formed the Workers’ Party, played an important role in propagandizing Marxism and establishing party organizations in the industrial centers of France. They fought against anarchism and the petit bourgeois opportunistic policies of the Possibilists. However, as early as the mid-1890’s they committed certain opportunistic errors in attempting to expand their first parliamentary successes. The sectarian position maintained by the Guesdists during the Dreyfus Affair and their lack of flexibility in working in the trade unions prevented them from unifying the majority of the French proletariat, despite the basically correct position they held in the struggle against Millerandism.

The Guesdists made up the nucleus of the Socialist Party of France between 1901 and 1905. In 1905 they joined the French United Socialist Party. In the years preceding World War I the majority of the Guesdists gradually shifted to a centrist position. A substantial proportion of the Guesdists and Guesde himself adopted a social chauvinistic position during the war. Others defended centrist views, while only a small group of left Guesdists maintained an internationalist position. In 1920, some left Guesdists, led by M. Cachin, played a prominent role in the establishment of the Communist Party of France. After World War I Guesdism ceased to exist as an independent political current in the French workers’ movement.


Lenin, V. I. “Krakh II Internatsionala.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 26.
Dalin, V. M. “Bylo li gedistskoe napravlenie edinym K istorii raznoglasii mezhdu Lafargom i Gedom.” In his book Liudi i idei. Moscow, 1970.
Willard, C. Sotsialisticheskoe dvizhenie vo Frantsii, 1893-1905 (Gedisty). Moscow, 1969. (Translated from French.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Thus Angenot places the Guesdists in the political context of the whole spectrum of the French left in the belle epoque (late 19th century), in the polemical context of standard attacks on socialism, and in the historical context of the evolution of the various world-historical narratives put forward by socialists since the 1820s and 1830s.
Robert Stuart has much the same approach, although more intensively focused on the Guesdists. He states well some of the methodological maxims needed to analyze this sort of material (and rarely followed by historians of Russian Social Democracy).
(17) For the Guesdists, every non-party manifestation of the worker movement or reform movement was acceptable only as a subordinate part of a party-dominated movement.
Stuart puts proper emphasis on the Guesdists' optimism, which often allowed them to evade severe empirical dilemmas.
(15) As Stuart observes, "Guesdists wondered 'what was to be done' about the proletarian party while Lenin, still vladimir Ulyanov, was writing essays for his Samara school teachers ...
Compare Bogdanov to the Guesdist Paul Lafargue's painfully conflicted pronouncement: "the bourgeois republican order is the most corrupt and dishonest regime which could possibly exist, and the Parti Ouvrier will support it in preference to all others, until the day when we will be strong enough ...
This formula from a Guesdist newspaper is probably an echo of the recently adopted Erfurt Program of German Social Democracy.