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L'Humanité ("Humanity"), formerly the daily newspaper linked to the French Communist Party (PCF), was founded in 1904 by Jean Jaurès, a leader of the French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO). The paper is now independent, although it maintains broad links with the PCF. It is the last French national daily newspaper of the left, Libération now being of a a centrist social-liberal view.


Pre-World War II

When the Socialists split at the 1920 Tours Congress, the Communists retained control of L'Humanité and the PCF has published it ever since. The PCF owns 40 per cent of the paper with the remaining shares held by staff, readers and "friends" of the paper. The paper is also sustained by the annual Fête de L'Humanité, held in the working class suburbs of Parismarker, at Le Bourget, near Aubervilliers, and to a lesser extent elsewhere in the country.

The fortunes of L'Humanité have fluctuated with those of the PCF. During the 1920s, when the PCF was politically isolated, it was kept in existence only by donations from Party members.

Louis Aragon started to write for L'Humanité in 1933, in the "news in brief" section. He later led Les Lettres françaises, the 's weekly literary supplement. With the formation of the Popular Front in 1936, L'Humanité 's circulation and status increased, and many leading French intellectuals wrote for it.L'Humanité was banned during the second world war but published clandestinely until liberation of Paris from German occupation.

After World War II

Its status was highest in the years after the war: during the late 1940s, the 1950s, the 1960s, the PCF was the dominant party of the French left. L'Humanité enjoyed a large circulation. Since the 1980s, however, the PCF has been in decline, mostly due to the rise of the Socialist Partymarker, which took over large sections of PCF support, and circulation and economic viability of L'Humanité have declined as well.

Until 1990 the PCF and L'Humanité received regular subsidies from the Soviet Unionmarker. According to the French authors Victor Loupan and Pierre Lorrain, L'Humanité received free newsprint from Soviet sources.

Post Soviet Union

The fall of the Soviet Union and the continued decline of the PCF's electoral base produced a crisis for L'Humanité.Its circulation, more 500,000 after the war, slumped under 70,000. In 2001, after a decade of financial decline, the PCF sold 20 per cent of the paper to a group of private investors led by the TV channel TF1marker (part of the Bouygues group) and including Hachette (Lagardère Group). TF1 said its motive was "maintenance of media diversity." Despite the irony of a communist newspaper being rescued by private capital, some of which supported right-wing politics, L'Humanité director Patrick Le Hyaric described the sale as "a matter of life or death."

There has been speculation since 2001 that L'Humanité will cease as a daily newspaper. But in contrast to most French newspapers, its publication has increased, to about 75,000.

After 2001

In 2006, the paper created a weekly edition, L'Humanité Dimanche. In 2008, it sold its headquarters due to financial problems and called for donations. More than €2 million had been donated by the end of 2008.

External links

Further reading

  • Victor Loupan and Pierre Lorrain: L'Argent de Moscou. L'histoire la plus secrete du PCF, Paris, 1994

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