Why did the French leave Algeria?

Laura who is participating at Marxism outlines an emerging debate at the festival.

What made the French leave Algeria?

This year’s Marxism celebrates the 50th anniversary of Algerian independence, with a number of meetings dedicated to the subject.

Two opposing views appear to be emerging as to why the French left Algeria. The first, put forward by a speaker from the floor in Friday morning’s meeting by Jen Wilkinson on Franz Fanon, is that it was the sometimes violent campaign of the FLN that kicked the French out. The second, put forward by Ian Birchall in Thursday’s panel discussion celebrating 50 years of Algerian independence, is that it was not the campaign of the FLN that brought Algerian independence, but the fact that France could no longer justify its brutally violent oppression of the Algerians to it’s own population.

Birchall pointed out that at the time of the Algerian liberation struggle, hundreds of thousands of Algerians lived and worked in France. This broke down the narrative of dehumanisation of the Algerians that France had previously managed to maintain. Once the French population saw the Algerians as people, they could no longer accept the violence that they were being subjected to at the hands of the French state. It was this this, Birchall argued, that forced the French to leave Algeria, and spelled the beginning of the end for French colonialism. Was it the FLN’s attacks on cafes full of Pieds Noirs or the indignance at home that made the French leave.

I would like to know what others think…

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