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Interview with Marie Paule Lambert

posted on 11.03.2021, 09:45 by Robert GildeaRobert Gildea
Lambert, Marie-Paule and Bernard
Algerian War/ Jeunesse Agricole Chretienne/ Centre National de Jeunes Agriculteurs/Parti Socialiste Unifié / Intersyndicale de Nantes/ Paysans Travailleurs/Larzac

Born Garravet Gers 18 July 1934. Husband Bernard Lambert was born 11 Sept 1931, Teillé Loire-Atlantique, died in car accident, 25 June 1984.
She from family of peasant proprietors in Côteaux du Gers.
Bernard was from peasant sharecropper family, beholden to feudal master, Catholic and conservative;

Bernard: at Catholic colleges of St Joseph, Ancenis (1943-4) and St Donatien Nantes (1945-6). Sick with TB for nearly two years in between, read at home. Destined for priesthood, but declined to go. Took over father’s farm with brother 1952.

Political Apprenticeship
Through Jeunesse Agricole Chretienne JAC - departmental delegate 1950, then national delegate. Persuaded Fédération nationale des syndicats d'exploitants agricoles (FNSEA) to set up a Centre National de Jeunes Agriculteurs, 1957.
Met Marie-Paule Cassagne, who was national delegate of JAC Filles, married 1959, 4 children.
Conscripted for military service 1952-4, then recalled for Algerian War June 1956. Protest attempted to prevent troop trains leaving Brittany. Did two months in prison. Sent to a disciplinary battalion, repatriated with dysentery.
Prevailed upon to stand against Radical-Socialist mayor of Nantes, Andre Morice, at Châteaubriant, in elections Nov. 1958. Close to Christian democrat Mouvement républicain populaire (MRP) but abandoned by them when he made a speech in favour of the self-dermination of Algerians in Chamber of Deputies June 1959, and beaten in elections 1962. Joined Parti Socialiste Unifié (PSU) in 1966.

In 1968 he was key in link in the Intersyndicale of students, workers and peasants. Speech at Nantes 8 May 1968 – ‘we must decolonise the provinces’. Organised farmers’ march on Nantes 24 May. Farmers provided strikers with milk and foodstuffs in return for fuel.

Post 1968
After 1968 he applied Marxist analysis to the peasant condition, writing Les Paysans dans la lutte des classes (1970). Formation of Paysans Travailleurs early 1970 from CNJA. Joined Cercle Jean XXIII in Nantes, Sept. 1971. Helped to organise march of Larzac peasants towards Paris and march on Larzac Aug. 1973, declaring ‘Peasants will never again be Versaillais’.

‘La foi d’un militant politique’, in ‘Stratégie révolutionnaire et foi chretienne’, supplement to no 48 of Bulletin de liaison de Cercle Jean XXIII (Dec. 1972), 41-53; ‘Quand un paysan devient marxiste’, Esprit 4/5 (April-May 1977), 70-5; Bernard Lambert, Recueil de textes choisis (1955-1984) (Association Bernard Lambert, 1985). See also Yves Chavagne, Bernard Lambert. Trente ans de combat paysan (Quimperlé, la Digitale, 1988) and the documentary by Christian Rouaud, Paysan et Rebelle (2002).


Around 1968: Activism, Networks, Trajectories

Arts and Humanities Research Council

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Name of activist

Marie-Paule Lambert (née Cassagne)

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Name of interviewer

Robert Gildea

Name of transcriber

Alice Moscaritolo

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