This article examines how the Croix de Feu and the Parti social français (PSF) espoused “air-mindedness”—lobbying for better antiaircraft defenses, using airplanes in mass mobilizations, and, exploiting the recent membership of famous pilots like Jean Mermoz—in order to further their message of national reconciliation. A study of the use of aviation by the Croix de Feu and the PSF allows us to examine two crucial historiographical debates about these organizations, namely, their ideological valence and the significance of the transformation from league to political party in 1936. While Lieutenant Colonel François de La Rocque and his associates often demonstrated ingenuity in adapting the manifestations of their air-mindedness to a constantly changing political context, and although the concept of national reconciliation was also flexible, powerful continuities are also apparent, in both purpose and activity. The ideology of the Croix de Feu and the PSF is more readily subsumed into the category of authoritarianism than fascism, but both movements posed a serious threat to republican democracy.


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pp. 373-399
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Archived 2004
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