On the dawn of March 18, Paris arose to the thunder-burst of “Vive la Commune!” What is the Commune, that sphinx so tantalizing to the bourgeois mind?
“The proletarians of Paris,” said the Central Committee in its manifesto of March 18, “amidst the failures and treasons of the ruling classes, have understood that the hour has struck for them to save the situation by taking into their own hands the direction of public affairs…. They have understood that it is their imperious duty, and their absolute right, to render themselves masters of their own destinies, by seizing upon the governmental power.”
But the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery, and wield it for its own purposes.
Published:Zagranichnaya Gazeta, No. 2 March 23, 1908. Published according to the text in Zagranichnaya Gazeta. Source:Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1972, Moscow, Volume 13, pages 475-478. Translated: Bernard Isaacs Transcription\Markup:R. Cymbala Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2004). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source. • README
After the coup d état, which marked the end of the revolution of 1848, France fell under the yoke of the Napoleonic regime for a period of 18 years. This regime brought upon the country not only economic ruin but national humiliation. In rising against the old regime the proletariat under took two tasks—one of them national and the other of a class character—the liberation of France from the German invasion and the socialist emancipation of the workers from capitalism. This union of two tasks forms a unique feature of the Commune.
The bourgeoisie had formed a “government of national defence” and the proletariat had to fight for national independence under its leadership. Actually, it was a government of “national betrayal” which saw its mission in fighting the Paris proletariat. But the proletariat, blinded by patriotic illusions, did not perceive this. The patriotic idea had its origin in the Great Revolution of the eighteenth century; it swayed the minds of the socialists of the Commune; and Blanqui, for example, undoubtedly a revolutionary and an ardent supporter of socialism, could find no better title for his newspaper than the bourgeois cry: “The country is in danger!”
In the painful and terrible conflict that again threatens Paris with the horrors of a siege and bombardment; that causes French blood to flow, sparing neither our brothers, our wives nor our children; crushed beneath cannonballs and rifle shot, it is necessary that public opinion not be divided, that the national conscience be troubled.Read More »
May 1871: The statue of Napoleon I was pulled down along with the Vendome Column on which it stood in a ceremony during the reign of the Paris Commune. Bearded painter Gustave Courbet is ninth from the right. (Photograph by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
The Paris Commune fell bloodily at the hands of French troops on 28 May 1871. A prototype social republic ushered in by the proletariat and citizens from other classes of the city, the Commune lasted 72 days, from its birth on 18 March until its brutal demise.
Two days after the Communards were massacred and captured, Karl Marx read The Civil War in France to the General Council of the First International (also known as the International Working Men’s Association). It was the last of Marx’s political pamphlets, supplemented later by Friedrich Engels for publication in 1891. Significantly, Marx accorded the Commune the status of the first historical occurrence – albeit brief – of effective government by the proletariat.Read More »