Dreyfus Affair Research Paper

1720 Words7 Pages
To what extent was the Dreyfus Affair pivotal in shaping the political landscape of France before 1914? The Dreyfus Affair is France’s most infamous miscarriage of justice.1 From Alfred Dreyfus’s unfair arrest in 1894 through to the end of his rehabilitation in 1906, the Affair divided opinion in France. This division created two ‘hostile camps’ which filtered into France’s political spectrum.2 Whilst on one side there were the Dreyfusards, convinced of Dreyfus’s innocence, on the other, the Anti-Dreyfusards believed he was guilty. During this time, it was evident that politics were very quickly becoming more polarised and unstable once more.3 In the four years leading up to World War One for example, France had nine different governments.…show more content…
The way it was used by the anti-Dreyfusards made it a central social factor in the Affair.5 For example, the anti-Dreyfusards were largely anti-Semitic and realised that as an ideology, it infiltrated almost every layer in French society, they thus saw a chance to rally a collective consciousness towards their cause and strengthen themselves against their Dreyfusard opposition.6 This surge of anti-Semitism also presented a foundation upon which nationalists, of whom many were anti-Dreyfusards, could create a new mass movement to the Right or demonstrate their refusal to accept the social and political values of the Republic.7 Similarly, the Affair gave anti-Semitic intellectuals like Éduoard Drumont the opportunity to thrive and consequently we see the importance of anti-Semitism on a social level. In embedding within La Libre Parole anti-Semitic ideologies, Drumont ensured a large anti-Semitic presence in the popular press. In exposing France to these feelings, people were more likely to adopt this mentality.…show more content…
Waldeck-Rousseau believed that religious orders needed to be contained due to the role of the Assumptionists during the Dreyfus Affair.23 As a result, he requested that all religious orders should seek authorisation to practice. In making anti-clericalism government policy, Waldeck Rousseau unintentionally fulfilled the Radical program of separation of church and state, initiating ‘the golden age of Radicalism’.24 With the government becoming full of anti-clericals, Waldeck-Rousseau resigned in 1902 and Émile Combes took over as Prime Minister. After the separation of Church and state in 1905, the radicals were given a chance to demonstrate their capabilities outside anti-clericalism.25 However, by 1906, in Clemenceau becoming Prime Minister, he highlighted the failure of Radicalism as a ‘politically progressive force’. 26 Despite this, when we analyse the limitations of Radicalism, it is important to remember that they did achieve the separation of
Open Document