Valois in 1922.
October 7, 1878
|Died||February 1945 (aged 66–67)|
|Cause of death||Typhus|
|Occupation||Journalist and Politician|
Georges Valois (real name Alfred-Georges Gressent; 7 October 1878 – February 1945) was a French journalist and politician, born in Paris. He was a member of the French resistance and died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
Born in a working-class and peasant family, Georges Valois went to Singapore at the age of 17, returning to Paris in 1898. In his early years he was an Anarcho-syndicalist. He found work as a secretary at L'Humanité Nouvelle where he met Georges Sorel. Later, after a stay in Imperial Russia (1903), Gressent worked as a secretary at Armand Colin publishing house.
After having written his first book, L'Homme qui vient, he met the nationalist and monarchist writer Charles Maurras and became a member of his Action Française (AF) league, where he continued to follow the workers' movement. As his employment would have been compromised by an involvement in the far-right monarchist league, he took the pseudonym of Georges Valois.
In 1911, he created the Cercle Proudhon, a syndicalist group, and took direction of the AF's publishing house, the Nouvelle librairie nationale, in 1912. The Cercle mixed Sorel's influence with the Integralism favored by Charles Maurras, and was overtly antisemitic. According to historian Zeev Sternhell, this ideology was the prefiguration of Italian fascism.
In 1925 Valois founded the weekly Le Nouveau Siècle (The New Century), seen by Maurras as a potential rival. As a result, he lost his job at the AF's publishing house, La Nouvelle librairie nationale. The rupture with Maurras became even more serious after his creation, the same year, of the Faisceau league. His long-term collaborator Jacques Arthuys was one of the leaders of the new league. It was the first overtly Fascist party outside Italy, assisted by major entrepreneurs in their fight against the agitation of the French Communist Party (PCF). After some initial success (it was joined by such extremist figures as Hubert Lagardelle and Marcel Bucard), it disappeared in 1928, by which time Valois himself had already been excluded from the party. The middle-class may have withdrawn its support due to its lack of confidence in Fascism as a plausible solution for France, or because it considered, following a trend established by the Catholic Church (which, in 1926, excommunicated the AF), that the best solution was to infiltrate the republican institutions.
Valois lost financial support, and after the dissolving of the Faisceau league in 1928, he founded the Republican Syndicalist Party (PRS). Jacques Arthuys was also a leader of this party. During the Second Cartel des gauches (Left-wing Coalition), this party published the Cahiers bleus (1928–1932), which hosted essays by widely different personalities, including Marcel Déat (a future neo-socialist excluded from the French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO) and then Collaborationist), Bertrand de Jouvenel (co-founder of the Mont Pelerin Society, a liberal organisation that exists to this day), Pierre Mendès France (one of the young guards or jeunes loups of the Radical-Socialist Party, he was to become Prime Minister of the Fourth Republic), and Edouard Berth.
After the 6 February 1934 crisis, Valois founded Le Nouvel Age (The New Era), which he presented as a left-wing review - along with the Cahiers bleus, however, Le Nouvel Age, which claimed to promote a post-Capitalist economy, was nonetheless advertising itself as corporatist. In 1935, he attempted to join the SFIO, but was turned down, although being backed by Marceau Pivert.
He took part in the Resistance during Vichy. During World War II, he moved near Lyon where he launched a cultural cooperative project. Georges Valois was finally arrested by the Nazis on 18 May 1944, and died in February 1945 of typhus at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.