Claude Alphandéry

A Politically Committed Family Publication date : October 7, 2015

Claude Alphandéry was born in Paris in 1922. In his long and varied career he has played many parts: member of the Resistance, Communist, high-ranking civil servant, banker, activist. During World War II, he rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel of the French Forces of the Interior (FFI). In 1946 he was in Moscow, as an attaché at the French Embassy. After completing his studies at the Ecole Nationale d’Administration (ENA), he worked as an economics expert at the United Nations, in New York; from 1964 to 1980 he served as President of the French Construction and Public Works Bank. He became politically close to French Socialist Michel Rocard and, in 1974, he backed François Mitterrand’s unsuccessful bid for the presidency.
In 1988, he founded and presided France Active, an association that finances business initiatives that create jobs and encourage economic solidarity. In 1991, he was named President of the Conseil National de l’Insertion par l’Activité Economique. In 2006, with Edmond Maire, he originated a ‘Manifesto for a Social Economy’ and, the following year, he became President of SOL, an association that promotes social economy. In 2012, he participated in the creation of the Collectif Roosevelt, a collective that favours policies to further economic recovery based on economic and social reforms inspired by Roosevelt’s New Deal.
Regarded as a champion of social economy, Claude Alphandéry remains active in initiating policies that put human beings before profit and that combat the inequalities concealed by the apparent opulence of consumer society.
When his family history resurfaced in the form of a trove of old documents, Claude Alphandéry embarked on genealogical research. On one side, he discovered a bourgeois family, with a number of eminent provincial citizens and respected, right-thinking democratic industrialists. On the other, there was a rebellious, adventurous grandfather who spent his life travelling from one revolution to the next.
Inspired by these contrasting figures, the author asks what determines the meaning of an individual life? Why do some people choose a life of commitment and activism? What moves them to action? And how can they carry out their struggles in accordance with these two opposing demands: respect for tradition and anti-conformism?

• A powerful work that is both incisive and concise. Alphandéry looks back on his long life and on the meaning of engagement.
• ‘Résistant, Communist, senior civil servant, banker, and activist once again: my successive aspects, like those of so many others, have changed with time,’ writes Alphandéry.