Poujadism

Poujadism

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Title: Poster by Pierre Poujade

Storage place: Departmental Archives of Var website

Contact copyright: Var departmental archives

Picture reference: Call number 524_W_1548_9

Poster by Pierre Poujade

© Departmental Archives of Var

Publication date: March 2017

Historical context

The Poujade "moment"

Because it lists quite exhaustively the various "themes" that are specific to it, the Pierre Poujade Poster that we are studying here allows us to quite broadly address what is called "Poujadism". Distributed on a large scale throughout France, it illustrates and explains both the motivations of a "Poujade moment", which runs from the end of IVe at the beginning of the Ve Republic.

It was in 1953 that Pierre Poujade (1920-2003) became famous. A bookseller and stationer in Saint-Céré (Lot), where he is from, he heads a group of traders who vehemently oppose a tax audit. At the head of the resistance committee of traders and shopkeepers, he intends to fight against "excesses" and "dictatorship" of the Public Treasury, with some success. To the founding anti-fiscal and corporatist discourse, quite diverse themes were soon added such as the defense of French Algeria and the colonial Empire, the rejection of parliamentarism, the criticism of the "elites" in the name of the "people", the anti-unionism (against “traditional” unions) or even a certain nationalism tinged with anti-Semitism and xenophobia.

In the legislative elections of 1956, Poujade’s Union et fraternité française (UFF) won nearly 12% of the vote (2.5 million votes), sending 56 deputies to the National Assembly. Opposed to General De Gaulle from 1958, Poujade then saw his influence diminish, especially at the ballot box.

Image Analysis

A "complete" and educational poster

This Pierre Poujade poster does not seem to fit into a particular electoral or union moment. No date, no reference to U.D.C.A or UFF: it is more about presenting in a complete, educational (and virulent) way the fights that a man carries and those who follow him; to “define” Poujade and “Poujadism”.

Framed with a red border, a photo of Pierre Poujade occupies a quarter of the poster (top left). In shirtsleeves and in action, the leader appears in his function of tribune, robust, animated, energetic. The rest of the document is occupied by the text, which plays with the differences in format and colors to ensure a certain dynamism and to catch the eye.

In response to the photograph and highlighted typographical, a first set defines Poujade: first by what he not'East not (“NO!”: Neither a “communist”, nor a “fascist”, nor an “adventurer”), then more positively (a “free man”). The second (vertical) part of the poster explains why and especially for whom Poujade is “dangerous”: de Gaulle and the constitution of the Fifth Republic, the parties, politicians and parliamentarians, the “false” trade unionists who are complicit in the government, taxes, but also “international capitalism”, the Empire's “sellers”, those who exploit “workers” or even interference from Moscow and Washington. So many enemies against whom an appeal for the Resistance is then launched, which also targets the "elites" and "notables". Finally, the bottom of the Poster by Pierre Poujade develops a message in two stages: all those who would have to fear Poujade the "dangerous" blocking him, we should unite behind him.

Interpretation

Poujadism is populism

While it obviously corresponds to an era, a character and a movement that have their own particularities, thePoster by Pierre Poujade seems to exhibit several characteristic features of populism.

The customization, first of all. It is true that the photograph occupies a relatively small space, but the entire poster intends to define the man he is (multiple references to he and him), the struggles he carries and the ideas he defends rather than referring to a political and trade union movement or doctrine. To the text corresponds an image supposed to embody and even demonstrate what is written, where Poujade appears in all his vigor, as a courageous and simple man (shirt sleeves, he does not wear a costume, unlike the elites), a pledge of proximity with the workers those he defends (and understands) since he is like them.

A movement anti-system and anti-elites, then, who would rank him on the side of the people and the workers, of the “real people”, of the “forgotten”, of the “little ones” against the “big ones”. Poujadism presents itself and defines itself first against : against capitalism, the elites and the "leavers", and even, in a curious rhetoric, against those who are ... against it (who "block it"). It is notable in this regard that the most prominent word (big, bold and red) in thePoster by Pierre Poujade or a NO! indignant, who intends to denounce the unjust accusations against him.

Because the message also develops a dialectic of force and victimization. Thus, Poujade is presented as a strong, determined man (photograph), "dangerous", that is to say threatening for the privileged. But he would also be, and for this very reason, the victim - a bit paranoid - of the stigma and attacks from the caste he fights.

Finally, it appears that the Poujadist discourse - here well summarized - is quite heterogeneous, which mixes accents communists ("Workers, unite"), nationalists (in the context of the Cold War) against "foreign interference" and "international capitalism" or imperialists, yet difficult to reconcile from an ideological point of view. As such, it is understood that thePoster by Pierre Poujade put forward and start from a man anchored in reality (who he is, what he does, what he thinks on such and such a subject, his convictions, his struggles) and not from doctrines that he would otherwise be impossible to synthesize.

  • populism
  • boulangisme
  • poster
  • propaganda
  • poujadism
  • cold War

Bibliography

BARTHES, Roland, Mythologies, Seuil, Paris, coll. Points, 1957: “Some words from M. Poujade” (p. 79-82) and “Poujade and the intellectuals” (p. 170-177).

BORNE, Dominica, Petty bourgeois in revolt? The Poujade movement, Flammarion, Paris, 1977.

SHIELD, Thierry, The Poujade years - A history of Poujadism (1953-1958), Editions Remi Perrin, Paris, 2006.

SOUILLAC, Romain, The Poujade movement: from professional defense to nationalist populism, 1953-1962, Paris, Presses de Sciences Po, 2007.

WINOCK, Michel, French populisms, in Twentieth century history review, n ° 56, October-December 1997, pp. 77-91.

To cite this article

Alexandre SUMPF, "Poujadism"


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