Aline Valette’s L’Harmonie sociale (1892–93): From Social Theory to Editorial Practice
When on 15 October 1892, Aline Valette (1850–99) edited the first issue of her weekly newspaper L’Harmonie sociale: organe des droits et des intérêts féminins [Social Harmony: Organ of Women’s Rights and Interests] (1892–93), this activist of the French Workers’ Party had already developed an elaborate social philosophy, the fruit of her double journey as a Marxist and as a feminist. In her journal, Valette synthesized her double fight for the emancipation of women and of the working class in her famous formula ‘Socialism and Sexualism’. This revolutionary project is not only reflected in Valette’s own writings for the journal, but also in the editorial model which she incarnated, and which inspired both her male and female collaborators.
This article studies the manner in which Aline Valette, through her conception of female editorship, succeeded to propose a social paradigm that embodied her vision for a society concomitantly socialist and sexualist. Socialism for this editor is based on the contradiction between Individualism — the excess of which is the source of social inequities, and Collectivism — the only solution to reestablish social harmony. This opposition reflected within her journal through the subtle balance between plurality of voices and opinions on the one hand, and the attachment to a common journalistic enterprise on the other. Likewise, Valette, who defended Sexualism as a means to revoke masculine domination, did not exclude male journalists from her editorial staff, and in doing so, procured a particular position for her ‘feminine’ journal within the press, which at the time was predominantly produced by and destined for men.
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