At the turn of the century, the authoritative political theorist Henri Michel had this to say of the characteristic approach in France to all problems, and in particular to political problems. “We are infatuated with isms, it is part of the national temperament. It is significant that a large number of our fellow-citizens like them so much, that every time they are presented with a new one, they greedily seize upon it, without asking themselves whether it can be accomodated alongside the one with which they were previously enamoured.”; The accuracy of this observation has not substantially diminished over the last half-century, the parties left of centre being particularly addicted to doctrinaire formulations of their political philosophies and programmes and to the consequent verbal fetishism and pompous dogmatism. The rise of Socialism in the late nineteenth century overshadowed the contemporary crystallisation of Radical attitudes and aims into the doctrine of Solidarism. Solidarism, however, played a major part in galvanising and rallying the protagonists of state intervention and voluntary association; uniting them in the task of building, by a series of piecemeal reforms inspired by a simple principle and a multiplicity of imperative needs what has come to be known as the “Welfare State”. Despite the doctrinal fragility of Solidarism, its practical programme was inspired by and was appropriate to the social and political needs of a society in transition from individualist and non-interventionist liberalism to associationist and statist socialism, just as liberal economism had secured the transition from corporativism and mercantilism to private enterprise, laisser faire and laisser passer. To-day it is Gaullism that dominates the political scene, but the tenacious Radical tradition of the Third and Fourth Republics may yet reassert itself, transforming in retrospect the tidal wave of to-day into a ripple, as it has so frequently done during the last eighty years of France's tormented history.