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14 THE VOR KERS COUNCIL APRIL 1921.
Within the ranks of the French workers during the sixties, three opposing groups struggled for supremacy. There were the adherents of Blanqui, the adherents of Proudhon, and the adherents of the International Association of Workers, the First International. While the theories of Blanqui and Proudhon originated in the soil of France, the ideas of the International, which consciously and as a matter of principle transcended national imits, forced their way in from the outside. Naturally therefore, the influence of the ideas of Blanqui and Proudhon increased rapidly from the beginning of the sixties down to the time of the outbreak of the Franco Prussian War, when the adherents of these currents far exceeded in number those of the International, which had as a matter of fact taken root only in Paris. For Blanqui the consummation of the revolutionary struggle consisted in the. seizure of the power of government by means of armed revolt, a view which is based on the significance of the possession of the state machine in the struggle of the classes in society. It was not essential, according to this view, for an entire class, much less the majority of the people to back up the revolt. The success of the uprising depends rather on the compact and secret organization of a sufficient number of determined men, ready at the given moment to rise up in force to overthrow the government, establish the new regime, and defend it against the partisans of the old order by the same force that brought it into being. The great mass of the people was to be considered only insofar as the support of certain radical elements might be counted on which by chance were not included in the organization. When the decisive moment was happily past it was assumed that the mass of the people would of itself rally to the conspirators, since the entire revolt had been undertaken in the interests of the people, solely for the good of the masses. Blan uism repeats the principles of Jacobinism, of the aqueries and the Montague (the mountain) who in the previous century had ruled France means of the dictatorship of a firmly organize minority, in order to organize the defense against the attack of feudal Europe and to ward off the armies of the feudal world that stood read to break into France. Blanqui approaches the Jacobins still more closely in that his opinions on economic questions were those of a petty bourgeois and his political ideal was the social contract of Rousseau.
Proudhon theory bears a very different stamp, proceeding as it does from the basis of economic conditions. To this day production in France has a petty bourgeois character. The dominant figure is still the tradesman or merchant, who employs independent mechanics and artisans and places the products of their manual labor on the market. To a far greater extent this was the case in the times of Proudhon, when the development of industry was only in its infancy. Exploitation on the part of the merchant capitalist tends to force the crafts to a lower and lower level, in many cases pauperizing the master workman without entirely wresting the instruments of labor from his hands as does the ca italistic factory. In view of this type of exploitation Proudhon theory appears inseparably bound up with circumstances similar to those which dominated the beginnings of the German labor movement and explains in part the peculiar form of the Lasallcan organization. Proudhon combats the most consistent representatives of the working class, the Communists, with extreme intensity, because, stopping short as it were half way between capital and labor, he is unable to formulate any theory of the working class. He rejects the trade union federations because they are monopolistic and suppress individual freedom. He advocates co operatives of production wherever the labor process demands cooperative, efi ort extending beyond the confines of the family or a small group of persons. The idea is to organize exchange, to create an exchange bank which, working without interest and offering free credit, would mediate the exchange of products on the basis of their established labor value.
These views were opposed by those of the International, which assimilated those elements of both theories that, properly formulated, possessed permanent value for the working class, and surpassed these theories with giant strides. That the emancipation of the working class can be accomplished only by the working class itself and only y the final abolition of classes, that economic dependence on the monopolists of the means of production forms the basis of all slavery and all political dependence, that the political movement of the workingclass has for its object and its purpose the econom1c liberation of that class, that to realize this object the unity and solidarity of the workers of all lands is essential, that the emancipation of Labor is not a looal or national but a social problem embracing all lands where modern methods of production exists, a problem depending for its solution upon the practical and theoretical co o eration of all the progressive countries of the worl these were the great principles upon which the International founded its existence. I What was the origin of the Commune?
During the critical period prior to the outbreak of the war of 1871 the adherents of Blanqui attempted to rouse the proletarian quarters of Paris to oppose this mass murder. On July 15th, at the very hour in which Ollivier, standing on the rostrum of the Parliament gaily conjured up war. the Socmlists marched across the boulevards crying, Long live Peace! and singing the song of peace. The nations all are our brothers, Our only foe is tyranny. From Chateau Eau to the Boulevard Saint Denis, writes Lissagaray, they were hailed with applause, but on the Boulevards Bonne Nouvelle and Montmartre they were hissed and attacked by the war crazy mobs. The following day they gathered again at the aBstille and began their march, lianvier, a porcelain painter, leading with the flag.
But when they reached the Faubourg Montmartre they were attacked by the city gendarmes with naked swords. Being unable to accomplish anything with the bourgeoiSie, they appealed to the workers of Germany, as they had done once before in the year 1869: Brothers, we are protesting against the war, We want peace, work, freedom! Brothers, pay no heed to the voices hired to deceive you as to the true spirit of France. th»mzw.
Aron. 1, 1921.
THE WORKERS COUNCIL 15 And this great hearted appeal of theirs was rewarded by a fitting response. While in 1860 the Berlin students had replied to the peace memorial of the French students with an insult, in 1870 the workers of Berlin replied to their brothers in France: We too desire peace, work, and freedom. We know that brothers dwell on both sides of the Rhine.
The war came, the Empire collapsed. On September 4th the workers of Paris proclaimed the republic. But the government was placed not in their hands but in the hands of the Chamber of Deputies, the representatives of the bourgeoisie and of the old qwers. The workers permitted this state of afairs on the express assumption that the new overnment would make use of the power entruste to it for the organization and the determined carrying out of the national defense which meant above all the defense of Paris. But this necessarily presupposed the aiming of the workers. But Paris in arms meant the Revolution in arms. victory of Paris over the Prussian aggressors meant a victory of the French workers over the French capitalists. Civil War in. France. Just as we have observed in most recent times in Russia and in Germany, so here too the French bourgeoisie decided this conflict between class interests and national duty unhesitatingly in favor of bourgeois class interests and national trea son. Under the pressure of the French reverses. we are here following an account by Karl Kautsk the legislative bod sitting in Paris adopted a aw proposed by Jules avres transforming the citizens guard into a general people guard. To the sixty old batallions of the national guard at Paris taken from the possessing classes, there were now added 200 new batallions recruited from the poorer classes, With power even to appoint their own oflicers. Thus the national guard at Paris became a real organization of the proletariat. The law ordaining this extension of the national guard was altogether the outcome of sudden panic and not of mature deliberation. The child at once became a source of terror to its fathers; so they decided to do everythin pgessible to keep it from growing strong. It had impossible to prevent the arming of the Paris proletariat, but the military authorities under Prochut command could simply leave undone what was absolutely essential to make the national guard into an efficient fighting force. This was treason to their country, but they were more afraid of the workers of Paris than they were of the soldiers of Vilhelm. Paris contained at the opening of the siege 100, 000 regulars and in addition 100, 000 mobilized troops. Assuming that of the more than 300, 000 troops of the national guard 200, 000 were suited for active service, there was in all an army of 400, 000 men, while the Germans besieging Paris never had more than half that number at their disposal, and these were scattered over a wide area. There was suflicient time from the month of August on to train the national guard. The Commander in Chief of Paris therefore had a: force at his disposal which was far superior to that of the Germans. If he succeeded in breaking at a single point the iron ring embracing Paris, the German army would have very slight prospects of winning the war. But all this presuposed getting to work immediately to train the national guard. But that was the thing the rulers were most afraid of. They preferred to lose the war and hand over Elsass Lorraine to the enemy. This the Parisians felt very clearly, hence their rage against the ruling powers, who had betrayed France. When Paris had surrendered, when the national assembly had been elected and had shown in the most provocating manner its hatred of the republic and particularly of the capital, the Parisians realized that they were facing a bitter struggle.
The surrender of Paris was the signal for the outbreak of the civil war. The city was still in arms. The forts had been handed over, the regulars and the mobilized guard had given up their weapons, but the victors were forced to leave the national guard its arms and its artillery. The Revolution which had overthrown the empire and proclaims the republic would enter only upon an armistice with the conquerer. But Bismark began open hostilities against Paris and its proletariat through the medium of the French government. He very readily agreed to the release of the captured French soliders, so that the September government might be enabled to crush Paris, and he even added to the terms of surrender a provision commanding the holding of a new election for the national assembly within eight days. Naturally such short notice was to the advantage of the forces of reaction, as there thus remained no time for an educational campaign.
This Bismarckian assembly resulting from the elections of February 8th was well aware of its mission. It took up at once the fight against the republic, against Paris. Paris was to be deprived of its character as a capital city; all notes and rents due within the last six months were to be collected at once. And when the national guard responded to this provocation by the decision to federate, to form a solid union of the units of the national guard and to elect a common central committee, the government gave orders to carry off the guns of the national guard. The attempt, which was made during the night of March 18th, turned out a failure.
The attacking party sent out by the government had forgotten to provide horses to remove the cannon. Thus there was sufficient time to alarm the guardists. The members of the government at that time in Paris were forced to flee. The Commune was proclaimed. To be continued)
Unity (letter of Engels, June 20, 1873)
When one finds himself as we do in a position, so to speak, of a competitor with the General Union of German Workers, one is inclined too easily to take account of this competitor and to accustom oneself to think before everything, about his rival.
But for the moment the General Union of German Workers and the Workers Social Democratic Part taken together do not as yet constitute but a sma minority of the German working class. According to us and this opinion is confirmed by long ex