Jaurès, Jean

Jaurès, Jean

Jaurès, Jean (zhäN zhōrĕsˈ), 1859–1914, French Socialist leader and historian. A brilliant student and teacher, he entered the chamber of deputies in 1885 and subsequently became a Socialist. In his Socialist journals, notably Humanité, he denounced nationalism and upheld socialism and world peace. Jaurès saw socialism as the economic equivalent of political democracy; he believed that economic equality would come as the result of peaceful revolution. He sought to reconcile Marxian materialism and his own idealistic beliefs and emphasized the importance of individual rights and initiative. As leader of the Socialists, he opposed Boulanger, defended Dreyfus, and worked for the separation of church and state. He was active in the formation (1905) of the unified French Socialist party, and he attempted to preserve party harmony. In 1914, Jaurès advocated arbitration instead of war and declared that capitalist nations, including France, were responsible for the war crisis. He was assassinated by a fanatical patriot in July, 1914. His Histoire socialiste de la Révolution française (new ed. by Albert Mathiez, 8 vol., 1922–24), an economic interpretation of the French Revolution, strikes a balance between the materialistic approach of Marx and the dramatic history of Michelet.


See biographies by J. H. Jackson (1943) and H. Goldberg (1962).

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Jaurès, Jean


Born Sept. 3, 1859, in Castres; died July 31, 1914, in Paris. Figure in the French and international socialist movement who fought against militarism and war. Historian.

Jaurès was born into a bourgeois family. He graduated from the Ecole Normale Supérieure with the degree of agrégé of philosophy in 1881 and taught philosophy at the Albi Lycée from 1881 and at the University of Toulouse from 1883. He was a member of the Chamber of Deputies from 1885 to 1889, from 1893 to 1898, and from 1902 until his death. Jaurès joined the bourgeois republicans in the 1880’s but became a member of a socialist group in 1893. From the early 1890’s he was one of the most active members of the French socialist movement.

Coming to the French workers’ movement from the bourgeoisie, Jaurès was never able to become a true proletarian revolutionary, although his views shifted steadily to-ward the left throughout his career. He studied the Marxist heritage, accepting a number of its tenets but attempting to combine them with other teachings. In questions of theory and practice, Jaures position in the French workers’ movement and in the Second International was, for the most part, reformist or almost reformist, and it was justly criticized by the left wing of the international workers’ movement. Thus, in 1899, Jaures approved the entry of the socialist A. Millerand into Waldeck-Rousseau’s government. In 1902, Jaures was the leader of the right-wing French socialist party, and after its unification in 1905 with the Socialist Party of France, led by J. Guèsde, he became one of the leaders of the right wing of the United Socialist Party. Despite his many errors in the theory and practice of the socialist movement, Jaurès was a staunch defender of democracy and an opponent of the forces of reaction and war.

Jaurès participated actively in the struggle against the “president of reaction,” J. P. Casimir-Périer (June 1894–January 1895). He campaigned energetically for a reconsideration of the Dreyfus case. (Unfortunately, he made a number of errors during this political conflict.) In 1904, Jaurès founded the newspaper L’Humanité, which became the militant organ of revolutionary democracy. He was active in the French people’s movement of solidarity with the Russian Revolution of 1905–07, and he struggled resolutely against the policy of colonialism, particularly against the seizure of Morocco. The greatest orator of his time, Jaures courageously exposed the main instigators of war—the imperialist bourgeoisie. On the eve of World War I (1914–18) he was the first victim of the reactionaries, killed by the French chauvinist R. Villain.

Jaurès was the organizer and editor of the multivolume collective work Socialist History (1789–1900), of which he wrote the first four volumes, which were devoted to the Great French Revolution. He was the first to direct attention to problems of the economic and social history of the revolution, for the investigation of which he discovered new source materials. Jaurès influenced the subsequent historiography of the French revolution, particularly the scholarly work of A. Mathiez.

Although V. I. Lenin criticized Jaurés’ opportunist errors, he also pointed out that from a subjective point of view, Jaurés acted from the best, noblest motives (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 10, p. 25). Among Jaurès’ outstanding traits were irreproachable integrity, courage in the struggle against the forces of reaction, and devotion to the cause of democracy.


Oeuvres, vols. 1–9. Paris, 1931–39.
Textes choisis, vol. 1. Paris, 1959.
In Russian translation:
Novaia armiia. Petrograd, 1919.
Istoriia Velikoifrantsuzskoi revoliutsii, vols. 1–3. Moscow, 1920–23.
Protiv voiny i kolonial’noi politiki. Moscow, 1961.


Lenin, V. I . Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed. (See Reference Volume, part 2, p. 437.)
Thorez, M. Izbr. proizv., vol. 1. Moscow, 1959. (Translated from French; see index of names.)
Lukin, N. M. [“Zhores kak istorik frantsuzskoi revoliutsii.”] Izbr. trudy, vol. 1. Moscow, 1960. Pages 159–77.
Manfred, A. Z. “Zh. Zhores—borets protiv reaktsii i voiny.” In his bookOcherki istorii frantsii XVIII-XX vv. Moscow, 1961.
Molchanov, N. N. Zhores. Moscow, 1969.
Blum, L. J. Jaurès, 3rd ed. Paris, 1937.
Feuillard, J. Jaurès homme d’aujourd’hui [4th ed. Paris] 1948.
Tetard, G. Essais sur J. Jaurès. Colombes, 1959.
Goldberg, H. The Life ofJ. Jaurés. … Madison, Wis., 1962.
Croix, A. Jaurès et ses detracteurs. St.-Ouen, 1967.


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