18/3/1871 - The Paris Commune

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Joined: 20-04-08
Mar 18 2012 02:37
18/3/1871 - The Paris Commune

Today, the anniversary of the start of the Paris Commune


Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
Joined: 4-11-09
Nov 19 2012 02:11

La Commune de Paris. Actes et Documents.

Entdinglichung's picture
Joined: 2-07-08
Mar 18 2012 16:07
Noa Rodman wrote:
If anyone is familiar with German handwriting, here are some jottings Kautsky made (Jan. 1921) on a book about the Commune, which I want to decipher:

(click to expand the image).

Beneath is my attempt at deciphering it. The places in italic I couldn't solve (and I filled in with gibberish instead). This is my result:

Kautsky wrote:

La Commune de Paris. Actes et Documents.
Épisodes de la Semaine Sanglante. Préface
de G. Zinoviev. Editions de l'Internationale
Communiste. N.44. Petrograd 1920.
Vorwort datiert 2. Juin 1920.

Uvofffrmkaft orschuss cubzingen aus den
buch C. [Camille] Pelletan über die Commune, in deren
die blutigen Maiwoche dargestellt wird. Cui Ziflusfs
G. inbuiskiPung begin liwersall der Verfa
,,La Troisième République bourgeoise s'est fondée
sur ce charnier, avec le concours du
boucher Gallifet, comme la Deuxième s'était fondée
en 1848 sur les tas des cadavres amoncelés
dans les Faubourgs travailleurs par le bourreau
Telles sont les nobles origines des Républiques
bourgeoises.” [V.-S. La Terreur blanche après la défaite de la Commune, p.60]
Also Abscheu gegen blutvergiessen! Aber wie
tut das denken.
Man braucht nur statt Republique bourgeoise
Republique des Sowjets zu setzen, und der heutigen
zustand ist charakterisiert.
Mrof inzhi Klunsgsunfuam lifu Ohnhe wift di hsiyal.
Republik, frochl jaden geslitfiffare Pruff. Viasd im
allgemeines Gesetz.

I also don't know who this V. -S. author is whom Kautsky quotes. It's perhaps a Russian historian or French communist. Can anyone help?

I'll have a look

Joined: 22-10-06
Mar 20 2012 15:45

Interesting article. A few comments....

The Commune impressed itself upon Marx and Engels for its ultra-democratic features - non-hierarchical, the use of revocable delegates, etc.

To quote Proudhon from March 1848:

The choice of talents, the imperative mandate [mandate impertif], and permanent revocability are the most immediate and incontestable consequences of the electoral principle. It is the inevitable program of all democracy. (Property is Theft!, p. 273)

This influence is reflected in other aspects of the Commune praised by Marx...

The Council members (who were not "representatives" but delegates, subject in theory to immediate recall by their electors) were expected to carry out many executive and military functions as well as their legislative ones.

As advocated by Proudhon in 1848:

It is up to the National Assembly, through organisation of its committees, to exercise executive power, just the way it exercises legislative power through its joint deliberations and votes....

Besides universal suffrage and as a consequence of universal suffrage, we want implementation of the imperative mandate [mandat impératif]. Politicians balk at it! Which means that in their eyes, the people, in electing representatives, do not appoint mandatories but rather abjure their sovereignty!... That is assuredly not socialism: it is not even democracy. (Property is Theft!, pp. 378-9)

As for the red flag, well, what can I say...

The Commune adopted the red flag as its official flag....

Proudhon embraced the red flag in March 1848, the same year he publically advocated the ideas implemented in the Commune and praised by Marx in 1871... not that the SPGB seem that interested, like Marx, on whose ideas had influenced the communards...

The anarchists accused Marx of changing his own principles and admitting to the relevance of the anarchist philosophy.

Well, compare Marx in 1871 to his ultra-centralist comments from 1850 when Marx stood for extreme centralisation of power, arguing that the workers "must not only strive for a single and indivisible German republic, but also within this republic for the most determined centralisation of power in the hands of the state authority." He argued that in a nation like Germany "where there are so many relics of the Middle Ages to be abolished" it "must under no circumstances be permitted that every village, every town and every province should put a new obstacle in the path of revolutionary activity, which can proceed with full force from the centre." He stressed that "[a]s in France in 1793 so today in Germany it is the task of the really revolutionary party to carry through the strictest centralisation." (The Marx-Engels Reader, pp. 509-10)

In short, it seems obvious that Marx simply embraced Proudhon's ideas in 1871 after seeing the mutualists of Paris advocate and implement them. I should also note that Bakunin had raised mandates, recall, federalism, decentralisation from the late 1860s onwards.

So, yes, Marx did change his position to a more libertarian one in 1871.

For those interested, my I suggest my lengthy article The Paris Commune, Marxism and Anarchism as well as my blog from last March: The Paris Commune and the Kronstadt Uprising The introduction to Property is Theft! also has a section on the Paris Commune

For those interested, extras from my anthology of Proudhon can be found on-line: Property is Theft!.

jura's picture
Joined: 25-07-08
Mar 20 2012 15:52

Thank god he didn't embrace Proudhon's views of money and interest!

Joined: 19-03-12
Mar 20 2012 17:18

Good thinking..

Mummers Farce's picture
Mummers Farce
Joined: 21-03-12
Mar 22 2012 22:51


Thanks for that insight.