Who was Jean Jaurès ?
A stamp issued in May 1936 pays tribute to Jean Jaurés, a leading figure on the French left. Initially a republican, he later asserted his socialist credentials and became one of the great voices of the Third Republic, thanks to his talent as an orator. A member of parliament and journalist, he played a decisive role in the Carmaux miners' strike, a social conflict which ended in victory for the strikers at the end of the 19th century. At a time when the exacerbation of nationalism threatened peace in Europe, he advocated a humanist pacifism. He was assassinated shortly before the outbreak of the First World War.
Jean Jaurès: a major figure on the French left
In July 1936, the Jean Jaurès stamp was issued, an illustrious figure of the SFIO, the former name of the Socialist Party. In May, the Blum government, which had just adopted the 40-hour week, paid holidays and wage increases, could not but pay tribute to the man who had inspired it.
A moderate Republican, Jean Jaurès began his political career in the Tarn region of France, but it was in Armentières, in the North of France, that he became a socialist when, alongside the strikers, he discovered the harshness of the working class condition.
Jaurès defined himself as a republican and socialist
At the beginning of the 20th century, society was torn apart by private property. Jaurès believed that the proletariat was the decisive force in any social transformation. An intellectual and humanist above all, Jaurès perceived the class struggle, became involved and put his verve at the service of the Republic. "Without the Republic, socialism is powerless. Without socialism, the Republic is empty".
Jaurès is a thinker. He founded his newspaper "l'humanité", an indispensable and necessary tool for the dissemination of his vision of the world. As a leader he directs the SFIO. Jaurès is internationally recognised. Independent, Jaurès dared to say even what no one wanted to hear, he was often hated for his outspokenness, even in his own camp.
A pacifist committed to fighting the rise of nationalism
After many battles, his last one was against the war that was about to break out. To the end, he campaigned for peace and, as a sign, the day after his assassination, war broke out.
Jaurès left a world orphaned by his unique and humanist vision. The legacy is torn apart. Everyone claims to be faithful to his thought, but Jaurès is no longer with us and no one can presuppose the positions he would have taken regarding the events of history.
What we do know is that on 31 July 1914, the Republic lost one of its most faithful defenders, Jean Jaurès.