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