The Civil War in France

Second Draft

1) Government of Defence. Trochu, Favre, Picard, Ferru, as teh Deputies of Paris

The Republic proclaimed on the 4th [of] September by the Paris workmen, was acclaimed through all France without a single voice of dissent. Its right of life was fought for by a 5 months’ defensive war (centring in) based upon the resistance of Paris. Without that war of defence waged in the name of the Republic, William the Conqueror[a] would have restored the Empire of his “good brother” Louis Bonaparte. The cabal of barristers, with Thiers for their statesman, and Trochu for their general,[b] installed themselves at the Hôtel de Ville at a moment of surprise, when the real leaders of [the] Paris working class were still shut up in Bonapartist prisons and the Prussian army was already marching upon Paris. So deeply were the Thiers, the Jules Favres, the Picards then imbued with the belief in the historical leadership of Paris that they founded their claim as the Government of National Defence upon their having been chosen in the elections to the Corps législatif in 1869.

In our second address on the late war, five days after the advent of those men, we told you what they were.[c] If they had seized the government without consulting Paris, Paris had proclaimed the Republic in the teeth of their resistance. And their first step was to send Thiers begging about at all courts of Europe there to buy if possible foreign mediation, bartering the Republic for a king. Paris did bear with their régime (assumption of power), because they highly professed on their solemn vow to wield that power for the single purpose of national defence. Paris, however, could not be (was not to be) seriously defended without arming the working class, organizing them into a National Guard, and training them through the war itself. But Paris armed was the Social Revolution armed. The victory of Paris over the Prussians would have been a victory of the Republic over French class rule. In this conflict between national duty and class interest the Government of National Defence did not hesitate one moment to turn into a Government of National Defection. In a letter to Gambetta, Jules Favre confessed that what Trochu stood in defence of [read against], was not the Prussian soldier, but the Paris workman. Four months after the commencement of the siege when they thought the opportune moment come for breaking the first word of capitulation, Trochu, in the presence of Jules Favre and others of his colleagues, addresses the réunion [meeting] of the maires of Paris in these terms:

“The first question, addressed to me by my colleagues on the very evening of the 4th Sept. was this: Paris, can it with any chance of success, stand a siege against the Prussian army? I did not hesitate to answer in the negative. Some of my colleagues here present will warrant the truth of my words, and the persistence of my opinion. I told them, in these very terms, that under the existing state of things, the attempt of Paris to maintain a siege against the Prussian army, would be a folly. Without doubt, I added, it might be a heroic folly, but it would be nothing more... . The events (managed by himself) have not given the lie to my prevision. "

(This little speech of Trochu was after the armistice, published by M. Corbon, one of the maires present. Thus on the very evening of the proclamation of the Republic, Trochu’s “plan,” known to his colleagues, [was] nothing else but the capitulation of Paris and France. To cure Paris of its “heroic folly,” it had to undergo a treatment of decimation and famine, long enough to screen the usurpers of the 4th of September from the vengeance of the December men. If national defence had been more than a false pretence for “government,” its self-appointed members would have abdicated on the 5th of September, publicly revealed Trochu’s “plan” and called upon the Paris people to at once surrender to the conqueror or take the work of defence in its own hands. Instead of this the imposters published high-sounding manifestoes wherein Trochu, “the governor will never capitulate,” and Jules Favre, the Foreign Minister, “not cede a stone of our fortresses, nor a foot of our territory.” Through the whole time of the siege Trochu’s plan was systematically carried out. In fact the vile Bonapartist cut-throats, to whose trust they gave

the generalship of Paris, cracked in their intimate correspondence ribald jokes at the well-understood farce of the defence. (See, f.i., the correspondence of Alphonse Simon Guiod, supreme commander of the artillery of the army of defence of Paris and Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour, to Suzanne, general of division of artillery, published by the Journal officiel of the Commune.) The mask of imposture was dropped at the capitulation of Paris. The “Government of National Defence ” unmasked (resurged) itself as the “government of France by Bismarck’s prisoners ” – a part which Louis Bonaparte himself, at Sedan, had considered too infamous even for a man of his stamp. On their wild flight to Versailles, after the events of the 18th March, the capitulards have left in the hands of Paris the documentary evidence of their treason, to destroy which, as the Commune says in its Manifesto to the Provinces, “they would not recoil from battering Paris into a heap of ruins washed in a sea of blood." [42]

Some of the most influential members of the Government of Defence had moreover urgent private reasons of their own to be passionately bent upon such a consummation. Look only at Jules Favre, Ernest Picard, and Jules Ferry!

Shortly after the conclusion of the armistice, M. Millière, one of the representatives of Paris to the National Assembly, published a series of authentic legal documents in proof that Jules Favre, living in concubinage with the wife of a drunkard, resident at Algiers, had by a most daring concoction of forgeries, spread over many years, contrived to grasp, in the name of the children of his adultery, a large succession which made him a rich man, and that, in a lawsuit undertaken by the legitimate heirs, he only escaped exposure through the connivance of the Bonapartist tribunals. Since those dry legal documents were not to be got rid of by any horsepower of rhetorics, Jules Favre, in the same heroism of self-abusement, remained for once tongue-tied until the turmoil of the civil war allowed him to brand the Paris people in the Versailles assembly as a band of “escaped convicts” in utter revolt against family, religion, order and property!

([The ] Pic Affair). This very forger had hardly got into power when he sympathetically hastened to liberate two brother forgers, Pic and Taillefer, who had been under the Empire itself convicted to the hulks for theft and forgery. One of these men, Taillefer, daring to return to Paris after the instalment of the Commune, was at once returned to a convenient abode; and then Jules Favre told all Europe that Paris was setting free all the felonious inhabitants of her prisons!

Ernest Picard, appointed by himself the Home Minister[d] of the French Republic on the 4th of September, after having striven in vain to become the Home Minister of Louis Bonaparte, is the brother of one Arthur Picard, an individual, expulsed from the Paris Bourse as a blackleg (Report of the Prefecture of Police, d.d. 13 July,[e] 1867) and convicted on his own confession of a theft of 300,000 francs while a director of one of the branches of the Société générale (see Report of the Prefecture of Police, 11 December, 1868). Both these reports have been still published at the time of the Empire. This Arthur Picard was made by Ernest Picard the rédacteur en chef [chief editor] of his Electeur libre to act during the whole siege as his financial go-between, discounting at the Bourse the State secrets in the trust of Ernest and safely speculating on the disasters of the French army, while the common jobbers were misled by the false news, and official lies, published in the Electeur libre, the organ of the Home Minister. The whole financial correspondence between that worthy pair of brothers has fallen into the hands of the Commune. No wonder that Ernest Picard, the Joe Miller of the Versailles Government, “with his hands in his trousers pockets, walked from group to group cracking jokes,” at the first batch of Paris National Guards, made prisoners and exposed to the ferocious outrages of Piétri’s lambs.

Jules Ferry, a penniless barrister before the 4th of September, contrived as the Maire of Paris, to job during the siege a fortune out of the famine which was to a great part the work of his maladministration. The documentary proofs are in the hands of the Commune. The day on which he would have to give an account of his maladministration would be his day of judgment.

These men therefore are the deadly foes of the working men’s Paris, not only as parasites of the ruling classes, not only as the betrayers of Paris during the siege, but above all as common felons who only in the ruins of Paris, this stronghold of the French Revolution, can hope to find their tickets of leave. These desperadoes were exactly the men to become the ministers of Thiers.

2) Thiers, Dufaure, Pouyer-Querties

In the “parliamentary sense” things are only a pretext for words, serving as a snare for the adversary, an embuscade [ambuscade] for the people, or a matter of artistic display for the speaker himself.

Their master M. Thiers, the mischievous gnome, has charmed the French bourgeoisie for almost half a century, because he is the most consummate intellectual expression of their own class corruption. Even before he became a statesman, he had shown his lying powers as a historian. Eager of display, like all dwarfish men, greedy of place and pelf, with a barren intellect but lively fancy, epicurean, sceptical, of an encyclopedic facility for mastering (learning) the surface of things, and turning things into a mere pretext for talk, a word-fencer of rare conversational power, a writer of lucid shallowness, a master of small state roguery, a virtuoso in perjury, a craftsman in all the petty stratagems, cunning devices and base perfidies of parliamentary party-warfare, national and class prejudices standing him in the place of ideas, and vanity in the place of conscience, in order to displace a rival, and to shoot[?] the people, in order to stifle the Revolution, mischievous when in opposition, odious when in power, never scrupling to provoke revolutions, the history of his public life is the chronicle of the miseries of his country. Fond of brandishing with his dwarfish arms in the face of Europe the sword of the first Napoleon, whose historical shoeblack he had become, his foreign policy always culminated in the utter humiliation of France, from the London convention of 1841[f] [53] to the Paris capitulation of 1871 and the present civil war he wages under the shelter of Prussian invasion. It need not be said that to such a man the deeper undercurrents of modern society remained a closed book, but even the most palpable changes at its surface were abhorrent to a brain all whose vitality had fled to the tongue. For instance, he never fatigued to denounce any deviation from the old French protective system as a sacrilege, railways he sneeringly derided, when a minister of Louis Philippe, as a wild chimera, and every reform of the rotten French army system he branded under Louis Bonaparte as a profanation. With all his versatility of talent and shiftiness of purpose, he was steadily wedded to the traditions of a fossilized routine, and never, during his long official career, became guilty of one single, even the smallest measure of practical use. Only the old world’s edifice may be proud of being crowned by two such men as Napoleon the Little and little Thiers. The so-called accomplishments of culture appear in such a man only as the refinement of debauchery and the ... [g] of selfishness.

Banded with the Republicans under the Restauration, Thiers insinuated himself with Louis Philippe as a spy upon and the jail-accoucheur of the Duchess of Berry, but his activity when he had first slipt into a ministry (1834-35) centred in the massacre of the insurgent Republicans at the Rue Transnonain and the incubation of the atrocious September laws against the press.[47]

Reappearing as the chief of the cabinet in March 1840 he came out with the plot of the Paris fortifications. To the [protest] of the Republican party against the sinister attempt on the liberty of Paris, he replied:

“What! To fancy that any works of fortification could endanger liberty! And first of all, you calumniate every Government whatever in supposing that it could one day try to maintain itself by bombarding the capital... . But it would be [a] hundred times more impossible after its victory than before."

Indeed no French government whatever save that of M. Thiers himself with his ticket-of-leave ministers and his Rural ruminants could have dared upon such a deed! And this too in the most classic form; one part of his fortifications in the hands of his Prussian conquerors and protectors.

When King Bomba[49] tried his hands at Palermo in January 1848, Thiers rose in the Chamber of Deputies:

“You know, gentlemen, what passes at Palermo: you all shock [read shake] with horror” (in the “parliamentary” sense) “when hearing that during 48 hours a great town has been bombarded. By whom? Was it by a foreign enemy, exercising the rights of war? No, gentlemen, by its own government."

(If it had been by its own government, under the eyes and on the sufferance of the foreign enemy, all would, of course, have been right.)

“And why? Because that unfortunate town (city) demanded its rights. Well, then. For the demand of its rights, it has had 48 hours of bombardment."

(If the bombardment had lasted 4 weeks and more, all would have been right.)

“Allow me to appeal to the opinion of Europe. It is doing a service to mankind to come and make reverberate from the greatest tribune perhaps of Europe some words of indignation (indeed! words!) against such acts... . When the Regent Espartero, who had rendered services to his country (what Thiers never did), in order to suppress an insurrection, wanted to bombard Barcelona, there was from all parts of the world a general shriek of indignation."

Well, about a year later this fine-souled man became the sinister suggester and the most fierce defender (apologist) of the bombardment of Rome by the troops of the French Republic, under the command of the Legitimist Oudinot.

A few days before the Revolution of February, fretting at the long exile from power to which Guizot had condemned

him, smelling in the air the commotion, Thiers exclaimed again in the Chamber of Deputies:

I am of the party of Revolution, not only in France, but in Europe. I wish the government of the Revolution to remain in the hands of moderate men. But if that government should pass into the hands of ardent men, even of the Radicals, I should not for all that desert (abandon) my cause. I shall always be of the party of the Revolution."

The Revolution of February came. Instead of displacing the cabinet [of] Guizot by the cabinet [of] Thiers, as the little man had dreamt, it displaced Louis Philippe by the Republic. To put down that Revolution was M. Thiers’ exclusive business from the proclamation of the Republic to the coup d’état. On the first day of the popular victory, he anxiously hid himself, forgetting that the contempt of the people rescued him from its hatred. Still, with his legendary courage, he continued to shy the public stage until after the bloody disruption of the material forces of the Paris proletariat by Cavaignac, the bourgeois Republican. Then the scene was cleared for his sort of action. His hour had again struck. He became the leading mind of the “Party of Order ” and its “Parliamentary Republic,” that anonymous reign in which all the rival factions of the ruling classes conspired together to crush the working class and conspired against each other, each for the restoration of its own monarchy.

(The Restoration had been the reign of aristocratic landed proprietors, the July Monarchy the reign of the capitalist, Cavaignac’s republic the reign of the “Republican” fraction of the bourgeoisie, while during all these reigns the band of hungry adventurers forming the Bonapartist party had panted in vain for the plunder of France, that was to qualify them as the saviours of “order and property, family and religion."

That Republic was the anonymous reign of the coalesced Legitimists, Orleanists, and Bonapartists with the bourgeois Republicans for their tail.)

3) The Rural Assembly

If this Rural Assembly, meeting at Bordeaux, made this government, the “Government of Defence men” had before hand taken good care to make that Assembly. For that purpose they had dispatched Thiers on a travelling tour through the provinces, there to foreshadow coming events and make ready for the surprise of the general elections. Thiers had to overcome one difficulty. Quite apart from having become an abomination to the French people, the Bonapartists, if numerously elected, would at once have restored the Empire and embaled [h] M. Thiers and Co. for a voyage to Cayenne. The Orleanists were too sparsely scattered to fill their own places and those vacated by the Bonapartists. To galvanize the Legitimist party had therefore become unavoidable. Thiers was not afraid of his task. [The Legitimists were] impossible as a government of modern France, and therefore contemptible as rivals for place and pelf; who could be fitter to be handled as the blind tool of counter-revolution than the party whose action, in the words of Thiers, had always been confined to the three resources of “foreign invasion, civil war, and anarchy"? (Speech of Thiers at the Chamber of Deputies of January 5, 1833.) A select set of the Legitimists, expropriated by the Revolution of 1789, had regained their estates by enlisting in the servant hall of the first Napoleon, [but] the bulk of them, by the milliard of indemnity and the private donations of the Restoration. Even their seclusion from participation in active politics under the successive reigns of Louis Philippe and Napoleon the Little served as a lever to the re-establishment of their wealth, as landed proprietors. Freed from court and representation costs at Paris, they had, out of the very corners of provincial France, only to gather the golden apples falling into their Châteaux from the tree of modern industry, railways enhancing the price of their land, agronomy applied to it by capitalist farmers, increasing its produce, and the inexhaustible demand of a rapidly swollen town population securing the growth of markets for that produce. The very same social agencies which reconstituted their material wealth and remade their importance as partners of that joint-stock company of modern slaveholders, screened them from the infection of the modern ideas and allowed them, in rustic innocence, nothing to forget and nothing to learn. Such people furnished the mere passive material to be worked upon by a man like Thiers. While executing the mission entrusted to him by the Government of Defence, the mischievous imp overreached his mandataries in securing to himself that multitude of elections which was to convert the Defence men from his opponent masters into his avowed servants.

The electoral traps being thus laid, the French people was suddenly summoned by the capitulards of Paris to choose, within 8 days, a National Assembly, with the exclusive task, by virtue of the terms of the convention of the 31st January, dictated by Bismarck, to decide on war or peace. Quite apart [from] the extraordinary circumstances, under which that election occurred, with no time for deliberation, with one half of France under the sway of Prussian bayonets, with its other half secretly worked upon by the government intrigue, with Paris secluded from the provinces, the French people felt instinctively that the very terms of the armistice, undergone by the capitulards left France no choice (alternative) but that of a peace à outrance [at any price], and that for its sanction the worst men of France would be the best. Hence the Rural Assembly emerging at Bordeaux.

Still we must distinguish between the old régime orgies and the real historical business of the Rurals. Astonished to find themselves the strongest fraction of an immense majority composed of themselves and the Orleanists, with a contingent of bourgeois Republicans and a mere sprinkling of Bonapartists, they vainly believed in the long expected advent of their retrospective millennium. There were the heels of the foreign invasion, trampling upon France, there was the downfall of the Empire and the captivity of a Bonaparte, and there they were themselves. The wheel of history had evidently turned round to stop at the Chambre introuvable of 1816, with its deep and impassionate curses against the revolutionary deluge and its abominations, with its “decapitation and decapitalization of Paris,” its “decentralization” breaking through the network of State rule by the local influences of the Châteaux and its religious homilies and its tenets of antediluvian politics, with [its] gentilhommerie [gentility], flippancy, its genealogic spite against the drudging masses, and its Oeil-de-Boeuf[i] views of the world. Still in point of fact they had only to act their part as joint-stock holders of the “Party of Order,” as monopolists of the means of production. From 1848 to 1851, they had only to form a fraction of the interregnum of the “Parliamentary Republic,” with this difference that then they were represented by the educated and trained parliamentary champions, the Berryer, the Falloux, the Larochejaquelein, while now they had to ask in their rustic rank and file, imparting thus a different tone and tune to the Assembly, masquerading its bourgeois reality under feudal colours. Their grotesque exaggerations (lies [?][j]) serve only to set off the liberalism of their banditti government. Ensnared into an usurpation of powers beyond their electoral mandates, they live only on the sufferance of their self-made rulers. The foreign invasion of 1814 and 1815[173] having been the deadly weapon wielded against them by the bourgeois parvenus, they have [in] injudicial blindness fastened upon themselves the responsibility of this unprecedented surrender of France to the foreigner by their bourgeois foes. The French people, astonished and insulted by the reappearance of all the noble Pourceaugnacs it believed buried long since, has become aware that beside making the Revolution of the 19th century it has to finish off[k] the Revolution of 1789 by driving the [... ? ...][l] to the last goal of all rustic criminals – the shambles.

5) Opening of the Civil War. [The] 18 March Revolution. Clément Thomas. Lecomte the Vendome Affair

The disarmament of Paris, as a mere necessity of the counter revolutionary plot, might have been undertaken in a more temporizing circumspect manner, but as a clause of the urgent financial treaty with its irresistible fascinations, it brooked no delay. Thiers had therefore to try his hands at a coup d’état. He opened the civil war by sending Vinoy, the Décembriseur, at the head of a multitude of sergents de ville and a few regiments of the line, upon the nocturnal expedition against the buttes Montmartre. His felonious attempt having broken down on the resistance of the National Guards and their fraternization with the soldiers, on the following day, in a manifesto stuck to the walls of Paris, Thiers told the National Guards of his magnanimous resolve to leave them their arms, with which he felt sure they would be eager to rally round the Government against “the rebels.” Out of 300,000 National Guards only 300 responded to his summons. The glorious workmen’s Revolution of the 18th March had taken undisputed possession (sway) of Paris.

The Central Committee, which directed the defence of Montmartre and emerged on the dawn of the 18th March as the leader of the Revolution, was neither an expedient of the moment nor the offspring of secret conspiracy. From the very day of the capitulation, by which the Government of National Defence had disarmed France but reserved to itself a bodyguard of 40,000 troops for the purpose of cowing Paris, Paris stood on the watch. The National Guard reformed its organization and entrusted its supreme control to a Central Committee, consisting of the delegates of the single companies, mostly workmen, with their main strength in the workmen’s suburbs, but soon accepted by the whole body save its old Bonapartist formations. On the eve of the entrance of the Prussians into Paris, the Central Committee took measures for the removal to Montmartre, Belleville, and La Villette, of the cannon and mitrailleuses treacherously abandoned by the

capitulards even in those quarters which the Prussians were about to occupy. It thus made safe of the artillery, furnished by the subscriptions of the National Guard, officially recognized as their private property in the convention of the 31st of January, and on that very title exempted from the general surrender of arms. During the whole interval from the meeting of the National Assembly at Bordeaux to the 18th of March, the Central Committee had been the people’s government of the capital, strong enough to persist in its firm attitude of defence despite the provocations of the Assembly, the violent measures of the Executive, and the menacing concentration of troops.

(The Revolution of the 4th of September had restored the Republic. The tenacious resistance of Paris during the siege, serving as the basis of a war of defence in the provinces, had wrung from the foreign invader the recognition of the Republic. Its true meaning and purpose were only revealed by the Revolution of the 18th March and that revelation was a Revolution. It was to supersede the social and political conditions of class rule which had engendered the Second Empire, and in their turn ripened under its tutelage into rottenness. Europe thrilled as under an electric shock. It seemed for a moment to doubt whether, in its recent sensational performances of State and war there was any reality and whether they were not the mere hallucination of a long bygone past, upon which the old world system rests.)

The defeat of Vinoy by the National Guard was but a check given to the counter-revolution plotted by the ruling classes, but the Paris people turned at once that incident of their self-defence into the first act of a Social Revolution. The Revolution of the 4th September had restored the Republic after the throne of the usurper had become vacant. The tenacious re- sistance of Paris during its siege, serving as the basis for the defensive war in the provinces, had wrung from the foreign invader the recognition of that Republic, but its true meaning and purpose were only revealed on the 18th of March. It was to supersede the social and political conditions of class rule, upon which the old world’s system rests, which had engendered the Second Empire and under its tutelage, ripened into rottenness. Europe thrilled as under an electric shock. It seemed for a moment to doubt whether its late sensational performances of State and war had any reality in them and were not the mere sanguinary dreams of a long bygone past. The traces of the long endured famine still upon their figures,[m] and under the very eyes of Prussian bayonets, the Paris working class conquered in one bound the championship of progress, etc.

In the sublime enthusiasm of historic initiative, the Paris workmen’s Revolution made it a point of honour to keep the proletarian clean of the crimes in which the Revolution and still more the counter-revolution of their natural superiors (betters) abound.

Clément Thomas, Lecomte, etc.

But the horrid “atrocities” that have sullied this Revolution?

So far as these atrocities imputed to them by their enemies are not the deliberate calumny of Versailles or the horrid spawn of the penny-a-liner’s brain, they relate only to two facts – the execution of the Generals Lecomte and Clément Thomas and the Vendôme Affair, of which we shall dispose in a few words.

One of the paid cut-throats selected for the (felonious handiwork) execution of the nocturnal coup de main on Montmartre, General Lecomte had on the Place Pigalles four times ordered his troops of the 81st of the line to charge an unarmed gathering, and on their refusal fiercely insulted them. Instead of shooting women and children, some of his own men shot him, when taken prisoner in the afternoon of the 18th March, in the gardens of the Château-Rouge. The inveterate habits acquired by the French soldatesca under the training of the enemies of the working class, are of course not likely to change the very moment they change sides. The same soldiers executed Clément Thomas.

“General” Clément Thomas, a discontent ex-quartermaster sergeant had, in the latter times of Louis Philippe’s reign, enlisted in the “Republican” National newspaper, there to serve in the double quality of straw man (responsible gérant) and bully. The men of the National, having abused the February Revolution, to cheat themselves into power, metamorphosed their old quartermaster-sergeant into a “General” on the eve of the butchery of June, of which he, like Jules Favre, was one of the sinister plotters and became one of the most merciless executors. Then his generalship came to a sudden end. He disappeared only to rise again to the surface on the 1st November 1870. The day before, the Government of Defence, caught at the Hôtel de Ville, had upon their word of honour, solemnly bound themselves to Blanqui, Flourens and the other representatives of the working class to abdicate their usurped power into the hands of a Commune to be freely chosen by Paris. They broke, of course, their word of honour, to let loose the Bretons of Trochu, who had taken the place of the Corsicans of Louis Bonaparte, upon the people guilty of believing in their honour. M. Tamisier alone refusing to sully his name by such a breach of faith, tendering at once his resignation of the commander ship-in-chief of the National Guard, “General” Clément Thomas was shuffled into his place. During his whole tenure of office he made war not upon the Prussians, but upon the Paris National Guard, proving inexhaustible in pretexts to prevent their [read its] general armament, in devices of disorganization by pitching its bourgeois elements against its working men’s elements, of weeding out the officers hostile to Trochu’s “plan” and disbanding under the stigma of cowardice the very proletarian bataillons whose heroism is now astonishing their most inveterate enemies. Clément Thomas felt proud of having reconquered his June pre-eminence as the personal enemy of the Paris working class. Only a few days before the 18th of March he laid before the War Minister Le Flô a plan of his own for finishing off “la fine fleur (the cream) of the Paris canaille. ” As if haunted by the June spectres, he must needs appear, in the quality of an amateur detecteur [detective], on the scene of action after Vinoy’s rout!

The Central Commune[n] tried in vain to rescue these two criminals Lecomte and Clément Thomas from the soldiers’ wild Lynch justice, of which they themselves and the Paris workmen were as guilty as the Princess Alexandra of the people crushed to death on the day of her entrance in London. Jules Favre with his forged pathos, flung his curses upon Paris, the den of assassins. The Rural Assembly mimicked hysterical contortions of “sensiblerie ” [sentimentality]. These men never shed their crocodile tears but as a pretext for shedding the blood of the people. To handle respectable cadavers as weapons of civil war has always been a favourite trick with the Party of Order. How did Europe ring in 1848 with their shouts of horror at the assassination of the Archbishop of Paris[o] by the insurgents of June, while they were fully aware from the evidence of an eyewitness, M. Jaquemet, the Archbishop’s vicar, that the Bishop had been shot by Cavaignac’s own soldiers! Through the letters to Thiers of the present Archbishop of Paris,[p] a man with no martyr’s vein in him, there runs the shrewd suspicion that his Versailles friends were quite the men to console themselves of his prospective execution in the violent desire to fix that amiable proceeding on the Commune! However, when the cry of “assassins” had served its turn, Thiers coolly disposed of it by declaring from the tribune of the National Assembly, that the “assassination” was the private deed of a “very few” obscure individuals.

The “men of Order,” the reactionists of Paris, trembling at the people’s victory as the signal of retribution, were quite astonished by proceedings, strangely at variance with their own traditional methods of celebrating a defeat of the people. Even the sergents de ville, instead of being disarmed and locked up, had the doors of Paris flung wide open for their safe retreat to Versailles, while the “men of Order,” left not only unhurt, were allowed to rally quietly [and] lay hold on the strongholds in the very centre of Paris. They interpreted, of course, the indulgence of the Central Committee and the magnanimity of the armed workmen, as mere symptoms of conscious weakness. Hence their plan to try under the mask of an “unarmed” demonstration the work which four days before Vinoy’s cannon and mitrailleuses had failed in. Starting from the quarters of luxury, a riotous mob of “gentlemen” with all the “petits crevés ” [dandies] in their ranks and the familiars of the Empire, the Heeckeren, CoŽtlogon, H. de Pène, etc., at their head fell in marching order under the cries of “Down with the Assassins! Down with the Central Committee! Vive l’Assemblée nationale!", ill-treating and disarming the detached posts of National Guards they met with on their progress. When then at last debouching in[to] the Place Vendôme, they tried, under shouts of ribald insults, to dislodge the National Guards from their headquarters, forcibly break through the lines. In answer to their pistol-shots the regular sommations (the French equivalent of the English reading of the Riot Act) were made, but proved ineffective to stop the aggressors. Then fire was commanded by the general of the National Guard[q] and these rioters dispersed in wild flight. Two National Guards killed, eight dangerously wounded and the streets, through which they [the rioters] disbanded, strewn with revolvers, daggers and cane-swords, gave clear evidence of the “unarmed” character of their “pacific” demonstration. When, on the 13th June 1849, the National Guards of Paris made a really “unarmed” demonstration of protest against the felonious assault on Rome by French troops, Changarnier, the general of the “Party of Order” had their ranks sabred, trampled down by cavalry, and shot down. The state of siege was at once proclaimed, new arrests, new proscriptions, a new reign of terror set in. But the “lower orders” manage these things otherwise. The runaways of the 22nd March, being neither followed nor harassed on their flight, nor afterwards called to account by the judge of instruction (juge d’instruction), were able two days later to muster again an “armed” demonstration under Admiral Saisset. Even after the grotesque failure of this their second rising they were, like all other Paris citizens, allowed to try their hands at the ballot-box for the election of the Commune. When succumbing in this bloodless battle, they at last purged Paris from their presence by an unmolested exodus dragging along with them the cocottes, the lazzaroni and the other dangerous class[es] of the capital. The assassination of the “unarmed citizens” on the 22nd of March is a myth which even Thiers and his Rurals have never dared to harp upon entrusting it exclusively to the servants’ hall of European journalism.

If there is to be found fault with in the conduct of the Central Committee and the Paris workmen towards these “men of Order” from 18th March to the time of their exodus, it is an excess of moderation bordering upon weakness.


Look now to the other side of the medal!

After the failure of their nocturnal surprise of Montmartre, the Party of Order began their regular campaign against Paris in the commencement of April. For inaugurating the civil war by the methods of December, the massacre in cold blood of the captured soldiers of the line and infamous murder of our brave friend Duval, Vinoy, the runaway, is appointed by Thiers Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour! Galliffet, the fancy man of that woman so notorious for her shameless masquerades at the orgies of the Second Empire, boasts in an official manifesto of the cowardly assassination of Paris National Guards with their lieutenant and their captain made by surprise and treason. Desmarêt, the gendarme, is decorated for his butchery-like chopping of the high-souled and chivalrous Flourens, the encouraging particulars of whose death are triumphantly communicated to the Assembly of Thiers. In the horribly grotesque exultation of a Tom Pouce playing the part of Timur Tamerlane, Thiers denies the “rebels” against his littleness all the rights and customs of civilized warfare, even the right of “ambulances."

When the Commune had published on the 7 April the decree of reprisals, declaring it its duty to protect itself against the cannibal exploits of the Versailles banditti and to demand an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, the atrocious treatment of the Versailles prisoners, of whom Thiers says in one of his bulletins, “never had more degraded countenances of a degraded democracy met the afflicted gazes of honest men,” did not cease, but the fusillades of the captives were stopped. Hardly, however, had he and his Decembrist general become aware, that the Commune’s decree was but an empty threat, that even their spying gendarmes caught in Paris under the disguise of National Guards, that even their sergents de ville captured with explosive bombs upon them were spared, when at once the old régime set in again wholesale, and has continued to this day. The National Guards who had surrendered at Belle-Epine to an overwhelming force of Chasseurs were then shot down one after the other by the captain of the peloton [platoon] on horseback; houses to which Parisian troops and National Guards had fled, [were] surrounded by gendarmes, inundated with petroleum, and then set on fire, the calcinated corpses being afterwards transported by Paris ambulance; the bayoneting of the National Guards surprised by treason in their beds at the redoubt of Moulin-Saquet (the Federals surprised in their beds asleep), the massacre (fusillade) of Clamart, prisoners wearing the line uniform shot off-hand, – all these high deeds flippantly told in Thiers’ bulletin are only a few incidents of this slaveholders’ rebellion! But would it not be ludicrous to quote single facts of ferocity in view of this civil war, fermented amidst the ruins of France, by the conspirators of Versailles, from the meanest motives of class interest, and [in view of] the bombardment of Paris under the patronage of Bismarck, in the sight of his soldiers! The flippant manner in which Thiers reports on these things in the bulletin has even shocked the not over-sensitive nerves of the Times. All this is, however, “regular” as the Spaniards say. The fights of the ruling classes against the producing classes menacing their privileges, are full of the same horrors, although none exhibits such an excess of tenacity on the part of the oppressed and bear such an abasement... .[r] Theirs has always been the old axiom of knight-errantry that every weapon is fair if used against the plebeian.

“L’Assemblée siège paisiblement [The Assembly is sitting peacefully],” writes Thiers to the Prefects.

[The] Affair at Belle-Epine

The affair at Belle-Epine, near Villejuif [was like] this: On the 25th April four National Guards [were] being surrounded by a troop of mounted Chasseurs, who bid them to surrender and lay down their arms. Unable to resist, they obeyed and were left unhurt by the Chasseurs. Some time later their captain, a worthy officer of Galliffet’s, arrived in full gallop and shot the prisoners down with his revolver, one after the other, and then trotted off with his troop. Three of the guards were dead, one, named Scheffer, grievously wounded, survived, and was afterwards brought to the Hospital of Bicêtre. Thither the Commune sent a commission to take up the evidence of the dying man, which it published in its rapport [report]. When one of the Paris members of the Assemblée interpellated the War Minister upon that report, the Rurals drowned the voice of the deputy and forbid the minister to answer. It would be an insult to their “glorious” army – not to commit murder, but to speak of it.

The tranquillity of mind with which that Assembly bears with the horrors of civil war is told in one of Thiers’ bulletins to his Prefects: “L’Assemblée siège paisiblement” (has the coeur léger like Ollivier),[125] and the Executive with its ticket-of-leave men shows by its gastronomical feats, given by Thiers and at the table of German princes, that their digestion is not troubled even by the ghosts of Lecomte and Clément Thomas.

6) The Commune

The Commune had, after Sedan, been proclaimed by the workmen of Lyons, Marseilles and Toulouse. Gambetta did his best to destroy it.[154] During the siege of Paris the ever recurrent workmen’s commotions, again and again crushed on false pretences by Trochu’s Bretons, those worthy substitutes of Louis Bonaparte’s Corsicans, were as many attempts to dislodge the government of impostors by the Commune. The Commune then silently elaborated was the true secret of the Revolution of the 4th of September. Hence, on the very dawn of the 18th March, after the rout of the counter-revolution, drowsy Europe started up from its dreaming under the Paris thunderbursts of “Vive la Commune! "

What is the Commune, this sphinx so tantalizing to the bourgeois mind?

In its most simple conception [it is] the form under which the working class assume the political power in their social strongholds, Paris and the other centres of industry.

“The proletarians of the capital,” said the Central Committee in its proclamation of the 20 March, “have, in the midst of the failures and treason of the ruling classes, understood that for them the hour had struck to save the situation by taking into their own hands the direction of public affairs... . They have understood that it was their imperious duty and their absolute right to take into their own hands their own destiny by seizing upon the political power (State power).”[73]

But the proletariat cannot, as the ruling classes and their different rival fractions have done in the successive hours of their triumph, simply lay hold on the existent State body and wield this ready-made agency for their own purpose. The first condition for the hold[ing] of political power, is to transform [the] working machinery and destroy it – an instrument of class rule. That huge governmental machinery, entoiling like a boa constrictor the real social body in the ubiquitous meshes of a standing army, hierarchical bureaucracy, an obedient police, clergy and a servile magistrature, was first forged in the days of absolute monarchy as a weapon of nascent middle-class [bourgeois] society in its struggles of emancipation from feudalism. The first French Revolution with its task to give full scope to the free development of modern middle-class [bourgeois] society had to sweep away all the local, territorial, townish and provincial strongholds of feudalism, prepared the social soil for the superstructure of a centralized State power, with omnipresent organs ramified after the plan of a systematic and hierarchic division of labour.

But the working class cannot simply lay hold on the ready made State machinery and wield it for their own purpose. The political instrument of their enslavement cannot serve as the political instrument of their emancipation.

The modern bourgeois State is embodied in two great organs, parliament and the government. Parliamentary omnipotence had, during the period of the Party of Order Republic, from 1848 to 1851, engendered its own negative – the Second Empire – and imperialism, with its mere mockery of parliament, is the régime now flourishing in most of the great military States of the continent. At first view, apparently, the usurpatory dictatorship of the governmental body over society itself, rising alike above and humbling alike all classes; it has in fact, on the European continent at least, become the only possible State form in which the appropriating class can continue to sway it over the producing class. The assembly of the ghosts of all the defunct French parliaments which still haunts Versailles wields no real force save the governmental machinery as shaped by the Second Empire. The huge governmental parasite, entoiling the social body like a boa constrictor in the ubiquitous meshes of its bureaucracy, police, standing army, clergy and magistrature, dates its birth from the days of absolute monarchy. The centralized State power had at that time to serve nascent middle-class [bourgeois] society as a mighty weapon in its struggles of emancipation from feudalism. The French Revolution of the 18th century, with its task to sweep away the medieval rubbish of seigniorial, local, townish and provincial privileges, could not but simultaneously clear the social soil of the last obstacles hampering the full development of a centralized State power, with omnipresent organs wrought after the plan of a systematic and hierarchic division of labour. Such [read Thus] it burst into life under the First Empire, itself the offspring of the Coalition wars of old semi-feudal Europe against modern France. During the subsequent parliamentary régimes of the Restauration, the July Monarchy, and the Party of Order Republic, the supreme management of that State machinery with its irresistible allurements of place, pelf and patronage became not only the butt of contest between the rival fractions of the ruling class, but at the same degree that [read as] the economic progress of modern society swelled the ranks of the working class, accumulated its miseries, organized its resistance and developed its tendencies at emancipation, in one word, that [read as] the modern struggle of classes, the struggle between labour and capital, assumed shape and form, the physiognomy and the character of the State power underwent a striking change. It had always been the power for the maintenance of order, i.e., the existing order of society, and therefore, of the subordination and exploitation of the producing class by the appropriating class. But as long as this order was accepted as an uncontrovertible and uncontested necessity, the State power could assume an aspect of impartiality. It kept up the existing subordination of the masses, which was the unalterable order of things and a social fact undergone without contest on the part of the masses, exercised by their “natural superiors” without solicitude. With the entrance of society itself into a new phase, the phase of class struggle, the character of its organized public force, the State power, could not but change also (but also undergo a marked change) and more and more develop its character as the instrument of class despotism, the political engine forcibly perpetuating the social enslavement of the producers of wealth by its appropriators, of the economic rule of capital over labour. After each new popular revolution, resulting in the transfer of the direction of the State machinery from one set of the ruling classes to another, the repressive character of the State power was more fully developed and more mercilessly used, because the promises made, and seemingly assured by the Revolution, could only be broken by the employment of force. Besides, the change worked by the successive revolutions sanctioned only politically the social fact, the growing power of capital, and, therefore, transferred the State power itself more and more directly into the hands of the direct antagonists of the working class. Thus the Revolution of July transferred the power from the hands of the landowners into those of the great manufacturers (the great capitalists), and the Revolution of February into those of the united fractions of the ruling class, united in their antagonism to the working class, united as “the Party of Order,” the order of their own class rule. During the period of the Parliamentary Republic the State power became at last the avowed instrument of war, wielded by the appropriating class against the productive mass of the people. But as an avowed instrument of civil war, it could only be wielded during a time of civil war, and the condition of life for the Parliamentary Republic was, therefore, the continuance of openly-declared civil war, the negative of that very “order” in the name of which the civil war was waged. This could only be a spasmodic, exceptional state of things. It was impossible as the normal political form of society, unbearable even to the mass of the middle classes. When therefore all elements of popular resistance were broken down, the Parliamentary Republic had to disappear before (give way to) the Second Empire.

The Empire – professing to rest upon the producing majority of the nation, the peasants, [who stayed] apparently out of the range of the class struggle between capital and labour (indifferent and hostile to both the contesting social powers), wielding the State power as a force superior to the ruling and ruled classes, imposing upon both an armistice (silencing the political, and therefore revolutionary form of the class struggle), divesting the State power from its direct form of class despotism by braking the parliamentary, and therefore directly political power of the appropriating classes – was the only possible State form to secure the old social order a respite of life. It was, therefore, acclaimed throughout the world as the “saviour of order” and the object of admiration during 20 years on the part of the would-be slaveholders all over the world. Under its sway, coincident with the change brought upon the market of the world by California, Australia,[174] and the wonderful development of the United States, an unsurpassed period of industrial activity set [in], an orgy of stock-jobbery, finance swindlings, joint-stock company adventure – leading all to rapid centralization of capital by the expropriation of the middle class and widening the gulf between the capitalist class and the working class. The whole turpitude of the capitalist régime, given full scope to its innate tendency, broke loose unfettered. At the same time, an orgy of luxurious debauch, meretricious splendour, a pandemonium of all the low passions of the higher classes. This ultimate form of the governmental power was at the same time its most prostitute, shameless plunder of the State resources by a band of adventurers, hotbed of huge State debts, the glory of prostitution, a fictitious life of false pretences. The governmental power with all its tinsel covering from top to bottom immerged in mud. The maturity of rottenness of the State machinery itself, and the putrescence of the whole social body, flourishing under it, were laid bare by the bayonets of Prussia, herself only eager to transfer the European seat of that régime of gold, blood, and mud from Paris to Berlin.

This was the State power in its ultimate and most prostitute shape, in its supreme and basest reality, which the Paris working class had to overcome, and of which this class alone could rid society. As to parliamentarism, it had been killed by its own charges[s] and by the Empire. All the working class had to do was not to revive it.

What the workmen had to break down was not a more or less incomplete form of the governmental power of old society; it was that power itself in its ultimate and exhausting shape, the Empire. The direct opposite to the Empire was the Commune.

In its most simple conception the Commune meant the preliminary destruction of the old governmental machinery at its central seats, Paris and the other great cities of France, and its superseding by real self-government which in Paris and the great cities, the social strongholds of the working class, was the government of the working class. Through the siege Paris had got rid of the army which was replaced by a National Guard, with its bulk formed by the workmen of Paris. It was only due to this state of things, that the rising of the 18th of March had become possible. This fact was to become an institution, and the National Guard of the great cities, the people armed against governmental usurpation, to supplant the standing army defending the government against the people. The Commune [was] to consist of the municipal councillors of the different arrondissements (as Paris was the initiator and the model, we have to refer to it), chosen by the suffrage of all citizens, responsible, and revocable in short terms. The majority of that body would naturally consist of workmen or acknowledged representatives of the working class. It was to be a working, not a parliamentary body, executive and legislative at the same time. The police agents, instead of being the agents of a central government, were to be the servants of the Commune, having, like the functionaries in all the other departments of administration, to be appointed and always revocable by the Commune; all the functionaries, like the members of the Commune itself, having to do their work at workmen’s wages. The judges were also to be elected, revocable, and responsible. The initiative in all matters of social life to be reserved to the Commune. In one word, all public functions, even the few ones that would belong to the Central Government, were to be executed by Communal agents, and, therefore, under the control of the Commune. It is one of the absurdities to say that the Central functions, not of governmental authority over the people, but necessitated by the general and common wants of the country, would become impossible. These functions would exist, but the functionaries themselves could not, as in the old governmental machinery, raise themselves over real society, because the functions were to be executed by Communal agents, and, therefore, always under real control. The public functions would cease to be a private property bestowed by a central government upon its tools. With the standing army and the governmental police, the physical force of repression was to be broken. By the disestablishment of all churches as proprietary bodies and the banishment of religious instruction from all public schools (together with [the introduction of] gratuitous instruction) into the recesses of private life, there to live upon the alms of the faithful, [and by] the divestment of all educational institutes from governmental patronage and servitude, the mental force of repression was to be broken, [and] science made not only accessible to all, but freed from the fetters of government pressure and class prejudice. The municipal taxation to be determined and levied by the Commune, the taxation for general State purposes to be levied by Communal functionaries, and disbursed by the Commune itself for the general purposes (its disbursement for the general purposes to be supervised by the Commune itself).

The governmental force of repression and authority over society was thus to be broken in its merely repressive organs, and where it had legitimate functions to fulfil, these functions were not to be exercised by a body superior to the society, but by the responsible agents of society itself.

7) Schluss[t]

To [the] fighting, working, thinking Paris, electrified by the enthusiasm of historic initiative, full of heroic reality, the new society in its throes, there is opposed at Versailles the old society, a world of antiquated shams and accumulated lies. Its true representation is that Rural Assembly, peopled with the gibberish ghouls of all the defunct régimes into [read in] which class rule had successively embodied itself in France, at their head a senile mountebank of parliamentarism, their sword in the hands of the imperialist capitulards, bombarding Paris under the eyes of their Prussian conquerors.

The immense ruins which the Second Empire, in its fall, has heaped upon France, are for them only an opportunity to dig out and throw to the surface the rubbish of former ruins, of Legitimacy or Orleanism.

The flame of life is to burn in an atmosphere of the sepulchral exhalation of all the bygone emigrations. (The very air they breathe is the sepulchral exhalation of all bygone emigrations.)

There is nothing real about them but their common conspiracy against life, their egotism of class interest, their wish to feed upon the carcass of French society, their common slaveholders’ interests, their hatred of the present, and their war upon Paris.

Everything about them is a caricature, from that old fossil of Louis Philippe’s régime, Count Jaubert, exclaiming in the National Assembly, in the palace of Louis XIV, “We are the State” ("The State, that is ourselves"),[175] (they are in fact the State spectre in its secession from society), and [read to] the Republican fawners upon Thiers holding their réunions [meetings] in the Jeu de Paume (Tennis Court) to show their degeneracy from their predecessors in 1789.

Thiers at the head, the bulk of the majority split into these two groups of Legitimists and Orleanists, in the tail the Republicans of [the] “old style.” Each of these fractions intrigues for a restoration of its own, the Republicans for that of the Parliamentary Republic – building their hopes upon the senile vanity of Thiers, forming in the meantime [the] Republican decoration of his rule and sanctioning by their presence the war of the Bonapartist generals upon Paris, after having tried to coax it into the arms of Thiers and to disarm it under Saisset! Knights of the sad figure, the humiliations they voluntarily bear with, [show] what Republicanism, as a special form of class rule, has come down to. It was in view of them that Thiers said to the assembled maires of the Seine and Oise: What could they more want? “Was not he, a simple citizen, at the head of the State?” Progress from 1830 to 1870 [shows] that then Louis Philippe was the best of Republics, and that now Louis Philippe’s Minister, little Thiers himself, is the best of Republics.

Being forced to do their real work – the war against Paris – through the imperialist soldiers, gendarmes, and police, under the sway of the retired Bonapartist generals, they tremble in their shoes at the suspicion that – as during their regime of 1848-51 – they are only forging the instrument for a second restoration of the Empire. The Pontifical Zouaves and the Vendéens of Cathelineau and the Bretons of Charette are in fact their “parliamentary” army, the mere phantasms of an army compared with the imperial reality. While fuming with rage at the very name of the Republic, they accept Bismarck’s dictates in its name, waste in its name the rest of French wealth upon the civil war, denounce Paris in its name, forge laws of prospective proscription against the rebels in its name, usurp dictation over France in its name.

Their title [is] the general suffrage, which they had always opposed during their own regimes from 1815 to 1848, [and] abolished in May 1850, after it had been established against them by the Republic, and which they now accept as the prostitute of the Empire, forgetting that with it they accept the Empire of the plebiscites! They themselves are impossible even with the general suffrage.

They reproach Paris to revolt [read for revolting] against national unity, and their first word was the decapitation of that unity by the decapitalization of Paris. Paris has done the thing they pretended to want, but it has done it, not as they wanted it, as a reactionary dream of the past, but as the revolutionary vindication of the future. Thiers, the Chauvin, threatens since the 18th March Paris with the “intervention of Prussia,” stood at Bordeaux for the “intervention of Prussia,” acts against Paris in fact only by the means accorded to him by Prussia. The Bourbons were dignity itself, compared to this mountebank of chauvinism.

Whatever may be the name – in case they are victorious – of their Restoration, with whatever successful pretender at its head, its reality can only be the Empire, the ultimate and indispensable political form of the rule of their rotten classes. If they succeed to restore it, and they must restore it with any of their plans of restoration successful – they succeed only to accelerate the putrefaction of the old society they represent and the maturity of the new one they combat. Their dim eyes see only the political outwork of the defunct régimes and they dream of reviving them by placing a Henry the 5th or the Count of Paris at their head. They do not see that the social bodies which bore these political superstructures have withered away, that these régimes were only possible under now outgrown conditions and past phases of French society, and that it can only yet bear with imperialism, in its putrescent state, and the Republic of Labour in its state of regeneration. They do not see that the cycles of political forms were only the political expression of the real changes society underwent.

The Prussians, who in coarse war exultation of triumph look at the agonies of French society and exploit them with the sordid calculation of a Shylock, and the flippant coarseness of the [... ? ...],[u] are themselves already punished by the transplantation of the Empire to the German soil. They themselves are doomed to set free in France the subterranean agencies which will engulf them with the old order of things. The Paris Commune may fall, but the Social Revolution it has initiated, will triumph. Its birth-stead is everywhere.

Fragments

The Lies in Thiers’ Bulletins.

The immense sham of that Versailles, its lying character could not better be embodied and résuméed than in Thiers, the professional liar, for whom the “reality of things” exists only in their “parliamentary sense,” that is, as a lie.

In his answer to the Archbishop’s letter he coolly denies “the pretended executions and reprisals (!) attributed to the troops of Versailles,” and has this impudent lie confirmed by a commission appointed for this very purpose by his Rurals. He knows of course their triumphant proclamations by the Bonapartist generals themselves. But in “the parliamentary sense” of the word they do not exist.

In his circular of the 16th April on the bombardment of Paris :

“If some cannon-shots have been fired, it is not the deed of the army of Versailles, but of some insurgents wanting to make believe that they are fighting, while they do not dare show themselves."

Of course, Paris bombards itself, in order to make the world believe that it fights!

Later: “Notre artillerie ne bombarde pas: elle canonne, il est vrai. ” [“Our artillery does not bombard: it’s true it shells. ”]

Thiers’ bulletin on Moulin-Saquet (4 May): “Délivrance de Paris des affreux tyrans qui l’oppriment ” [“Deliverance of Paris from the dreadful tyrants who oppress it ”] (by killing the Paris National Guards asleep).

The motley lot of an army – the dregs of the Bonapartist soldatesca released from prison by the grace of Bismarck, with the gendarmes of Valentin and the sergents de ville of Piétri for their nucleus, set off by the Pontifical Zouaves, the Chouans of Charette and the Vendéens of Cathelineau, the whole placed

under the runaway Decembrist generals of capitulation – he dubs “the finest army France ever possessed. ” Of course, if the Prussians quarter still at St. Denis, it is because Thiers wants to frighten them by the sight of that “finest of fine armies."

If such is the “finest army” – the Versailles anachronism is “the most liberal and most freely elected assembly that ever existed in France.” Thiers caps his eccentricity by telling the maires, etc., that “he is a man, who has never broken his word,” of course in the parliamentary sense of word-keeping.

He is the truest of Republicans and (Séance vom [sitting of] 27 April): “L’assemblée est plus libérale que lui-même.” [“The Assembly is more liberal than he himself.”]

To the maires : “On peut compter sur ma parole à laquelle je n’ai jamais manqué,” [“You may rely upon my word, which I have never broken,”] in an unparliamentary sense, which I have never kept.

“L’assemblée est une des plus libérales qu’ait nommée la France.” [“The Assembly is one of the most liberal France has elected.”]

He compares himself with Lincoln and the Parisians with the rebellious slaveholders of the South. The Southerners wanted territorial secession from the United States for the slavery of labour. Paris wants the secession of M. Thiers himself and the interests he represents from power for the emancipation of labour.

The revenge which the Bonapartist generals, the gendarmes and the Chouans wreak upon Paris is a necessity of the class war against labour, but in the little byplay of his bulletins Thiers turns it into a pretext of caricaturing his idol, the first Napoleon, and make himself the laughing-stock of Europe by boldly affirming, that the French army through its war upon the Parisians has regained the renown it had lost in the war against the Prussians. The whole war thus appears as mere childplay to give vent to the childish vanity of a dwarf, elated at having to describe his own battles, fought by his own army, under his own secret commandership-in-chief.

And his lies culminate in regard to Paris and the Province.

Paris, which in reality holds in check for two months the finest army France ever possessed, despite the secret help of the Prussians, is in fact only anxious to be delivered from its “atrocious tyrants,” by Thiers, and therefore it fights against him, although a mere handful of criminals.

He does not tire of representing the Commune as a handful of convicts, ticket-of-leave men, scum. Paris fights against him because it wants to be delivered by him from “the affreux [frightful] tyrants that oppress it.” And this “handful” of desperadoes holds in check since two months “the finest army that France ever possessed,” led by the invincible MacMahon and inspired by the Napoleonic genius of Thiers himself!

The resistance of Paris is no reality, but Thiers’ lies about Paris are.

Not content to refute him by its exploits, all the living elements of Paris have spoken to him, but in vain, to dislodge him out of his lying world.

“You must not confound the movement of Paris with the surprise of Montmartre, which was only its opportunity and starting point: this movement is general and profound in the conscience of Paris; the greatest number even of those who by one reason or another keep back (stand aside), do for all that not disavow its social legitimity.”

By whom was he told this? By the delegates of the Syndical Chambers, speaking in the name of 7-8,000 merchants and industrials.[141] They went to tell it him personally at Versailles. Thus the Ligue of the Republican Union, thus the Masons’ lodges [142] by their delegates and their demonstrations. But he sticks to it.

In his bulletins of [read on] Moulin-Saquet (4 May):

“300 prisoners taken ... the rest of the insurgents has fled à toutes jambes, laissant 150 morts et blessés sur le champ de bataille... . Voilà la victoire que la Commune peut célébrer dans ses bulletins. Paris sera sous peu délivré de ses terribles tyrans qui l’oppriment.” [... has fled at top speed, leaving 150 dead and wounded on the battlefield... . That is the victory the Commune can celebrate in its bulletins. Paris will shortly be delivered from its terrible tyrants who oppress it.”]

But the fighting Paris, the real Paris is not his Paris. His Paris is itself a parliamentary lie. “The rich, the idle, the capitalist Paris,” the cosmopolitan stew, this is his Paris. That is the Paris which wants to be restored to him; the real Paris, is the Paris of the “vile multitude.” The Paris that showed its courage in the “pacific procession” and Saisset’s stampede, that throngs now at Versailles, at Rueil, at St. Denis, at St. Germain-en-Laye, followed by the cocottes, sticking to the “man of family, religion, order,” and above all, “of property,” the Paris of the lounging classes, the Paris of the francs-fileurs, amusing itself by looking through telescopes at the battles going on, treating the civil war [as] but an agreeable diversion, that is the Paris of M. Thiers, as the Emigration of Coblenz was the France of M. de Calonne and as the Emigration at Versailles is the France of M. Thiers.

If the Paris, that wants to be delivered of the Commune by Thiers, his Rurals, Décembriseurs and gendarmes, is a lie, so is his “Province” which through him and his Rurals wants to be delivered from Paris.

Before the definitive conclusion at Frankfort of the peace treaty,[176] he appealed to the provinces to send their bataillons of National Guards and volunteers to Versailles to fight against Paris. The provinces refused point-blank. Only the Bretagne sent a handful of Chouans “fighting under a white flag, every one of them wearing on his breast a Jesus heart in white cloth and shouting: ‘Vive le roi!’” Thus is the provincial France listening to his summons so that he was forced to send captive French troops from Bismarck, lay hold on the Pontifical Zouaves (the real armed representatives of his provincial France) and make 20,000 gendarmes and 12,000 sergents de ville the nucleus of his army.

Despite the wall of lies, the intellectual and police blockade, by which he tried to fence off (debar) Paris from the provinces, the provinces, instead of sending him bataillons to wage war upon Paris, inundated him with so many delegations insisting upon peace with Paris, that he refused to receive them any longer in person. The tone of the addresses sent up from the provinces, proposing most of them the immediate conclusion of an armistice with Paris, the dissolution of the Assembly, “because its mandate had expired,” and the grant of the municipal rights demanded by Paris, was so offensive that Dufaure denounces them in his “circular against conciliation” to the Prefects. On the other hand, the Rural Assembly and Thiers received not one single address of approval on the part of the provinces.

But the grand défi [challenge] the provinces gave to Thiers’ “lie” about the provinces were the municipal elections of the 30 April, carried on under his government, on the basis of a law of his Assembly. Out of 700,000 councillors (in round numbers) returned by the 30,000 communes still left in mutilated France, the united Legitimists, Orleanists and Bonapartists did not carry 8,000! The supplementary elections still more hostile! This showed plainly how far the National Assembly, chosen by surprise, and on false pretences, represents France, provincial France, France minus Paris!

But the plan of an assembly of the municipal delegates of the great provincial towns at Bordeaux, forbidden by Thiers on the ground of his law of 1834 and an imperialist one of 1855,[177] forced him to avow that his “provinces” are a lie, as “his” Paris is. He accuses them of resembling the “false” Paris, of being eagerly bent upon “laying the fundaments of communism and rebellion.” Again he has been answered by the late resolution of the municipal councils of Nantes, Vienne, Chambéry, Limoux, Carcassone, Angers, Carpentras, Montpellier, Privas, Grenoble, etc., asking, insisting upon peace with Paris,

“the absolute affirmation of the Republic, the recognition of the Communal right,” which, as the municipal council of Vienne says, “the élus of the 8. février promised dans leur circulaire, lorsqu’ils étaient candidats. Pour faire cesser la guerre étrangère, elle (I’Assemblée nationale) a cédé deux provinces et promis cinq milliards à la Prusse. Que ne doit-elle pas faire pour mettre fin à la guerre civile?” [“the elected of February 8 promised in their circular while they were candidates. In order to end the foreign war, it (the National Assembly) ceded two provinces and promised to give Prussia five milliards. What then will it not do to put an end to the civil war?”]

(Just the contrary. The two provinces are not their “private” property, and as to the promissory note of 5 milliards, the thing is exactly that it shall be paid by the French people and not by them.)

If, therefore, Paris may justly complain of the provinces that they limit themselves to pacific demonstrations, leaving it unaided against all the State forces ... , the province has in most unequivocal tones given the lie to Thiers and the Assembly to be represented there, has declared their Province a lie as is their whole existence, a sham, a false pretence.


The General Council feels proud of the prominent part the Paris branches of the International have taken in the glorious revolution of Paris. Not, as the imbeciles fancy, as if the Paris, or any other branch of the International received its mot d’ordre [order] from a centre. But the flower of the working class in all civilized countries belonging to the International, and being imbued with its ideas, they are sure everywhere in the working class movements to take the lead.


From[v] the very day of the capitulation by which the government of Bismarck’s prisoners had signed the surrender of France, but, in return, got leave to retain a bodyguard for the express purpose of cowing Paris, Paris stood on its watch. The National Guard reorganized itself and entrusted its supreme control to a Central Committee elected by all the companies, battalions and batteries of the capital, save some fragments of the old Bonapartist formations. On the eve of the entrance of the Prussians into Paris, the Central Committee took measures for the removal to Montmartre, Belleville, and La Villette, of the cannon and mitrailleuses treacherously abandoned by the capitulards in the very quarters the Prussians were about to occupy.


Armed Paris was the only serious obstacle in the way of the counter-revolutionary conspiracy. Paris was, therefore, to be disarmed. On this point the Bordeaux Assembly was sincerity itself. If the roaring rant of its Rurals had not been audible enough, the surrender of Paris handed over by Thiers to the tender mercies of the triumvirate of Vinoy, the Décembriseur, Valentin, the Bonapartist gendarme, and Aurelle de Paladines, the Jesuit general, would have cut off even the last subterfuge of doubt as to the ultimate aim of the disarmament of Paris. But if their purpose was frankly avowed, the pretext on which these atrocious felons initiated the civil war was the most shameless, the most bare-faced (glaring) of lies. The artillery of the Paris National Guard, said Thiers, belonged to the State, and to the State it must be returned. The fact was this. From the very day of the capitulation by which Bismarck’s prisoners had signed the surrender of France but reserved to themselves a numerous bodyguard for the express purpose of cowing Paris, Paris stood on its watch. The National Guard reorganized themselves and entrusted their supreme control to a Central Committee elected by their whole body, save some fragments of the old Bonapartist formations. On the eve of the entrance of the Prussians into Paris, their Central Committee took measures for the removal to Montmartre, Belleville, and La Villette of the cannon and mitrailleuses, treacherously abandoned by the capitulards in the very quarters the Prussians were about to occupy. That artillery had been furnished by the subscriptions of the National Guard. As their private property it was officially recognized in the convention of the 28th January, and on that very title exempted from the general surrender of arms, belonging to the government, into the hands of the conqueror. And Thiers dared initiate the civil war on the mendacious pretext that the artillery of the National Guard was State property!

The seizure of this artillery was evidently but to serve as the preparatory measure for the general disarmament of the Paris National Guard, and therefore of the Revolution of the 4th of September. But that Revolution had become the legal status of France. Its Republic was recognized in the terms of the capitulation itself by the conqueror, it was after the capitulation acknowledged by the foreign powers, in its name the National Assembly had been summoned. The Revolution of the Paris workmen of the 4th of September was the only legal title of the National Assembly seated at Bordeaux and its Executive. Without it, the National Assembly had at once to give room to the Corps législatif, elected by general suffrage and dispersed by the arm of the Revolution. Thiers and his ticket-of-leave men would have had to capitulate for safe-conducts and securities against a voyage to Cayenne. The National Assembly, with its attorney’s power to settle the terms of peace with Prussia, was only an incident of the Revolution. Its true embodiment was armed Paris, that had initiated the Revolution [and] undergone for it a five months’ siege with its horrors of famine, that had made its prolonged resistance, despite Trochu’s “plan,” the basis of a tremendous war of defence in the provinces. And Paris was now summoned with coarse insult by the rebellious slaveholders at Bordeaux to lay down its arms and acknowledge that the popular revolution of the 4th September had had no other purpose but the simple transfer of power from the hands of Louis Bonaparte and his minions in [read to] those of his monarchical rivals, or to stand forward as the self-sacrificing champion of France, to be saved from her ruin and to be regenerated only through the revolutionary overthrow of the political and social conditions that had engendered the Empire and under its fostering care, matured into utter rottenness. Paris, emaciated by a five months’ famine, did not hesitate one moment. It heroically resolved to run all the hazards of a resistance against the French conspirators under the very eyes of the Prussian army quartered before its gates. But in its utter abhorrence of civil war, the popular government of Paris, the Central Committee of the National Guard, continued to persist in its merely defensive attitude, despite the provocations of the Assembly, the usurpations of the Executive, and the menacing concentration of troops in and around Paris.

On the dawn of the 18th March Paris arose under thunder bursts of “Vive la Commune! ” What is the Commune, that sphinx so tantalizing to the bourgeois mind?

“The proletarians of the capital,” said the Central Committee in its manifesto of the 18th March, “have, in the midst of the failures and treasons of the ruling classes, understood that for them the hour has struck 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 take into their own hands their own destinies by seizing the political power."

But the working class cannot, as the rival factions of the appropriating class have done in their hours of triumph, simply lay hold on the ready-made State machinery, and wield it for its own purposes.

The centralized State power, with its ubiquitous organs of standing army, police, bureaucracy, clergy and magistrature, organs wrought after the plan of a systematic and hierarchic division of labour, dates from the days of absolute monarchy when it served nascent middle-class society as a mighty weapon in its struggles for emancipation from feudalism. The French Revolution of the 18th century swept away the rubbish of seigniorial, local, townish and provincial privileges, thus clearing the social soil of its last medieval obstacles to the final superstructure of the State. It received its final shape under the First Empire, the offspring of the Coalition wars of old, semi-feudal Europe against modern France. Under the following parliamentary régimes, the hold[ing] of the governmental power, with its irresistible allurements of place, pelf, and patronage, became not only the bone of contention between the rival factions of the ruling classes. Its political character changed simultaneously with the economic changes of society. At the same pace that the progress of industry developed, widened and intensified the class antagonism between capital and labour, the governmental power assumed more and more the character of the national power of capital over labour, of a political force organized to enforce social enslavement, of a mere engine of class despotism. On the heels of every popular revolution, marking a new progressive phase in the march (development) (course) of the struggle of classes (class struggle), the repressive character of the State power comes out more pitiless and more divested of disguise. The Revolution of July, by transferring the management of the State machinery from the landlord to the capitalist, transfers it from the distant to the immediate antagonist of the working men. Hence the State power assumes a more clearly defined attitude of hostility and repression in regard of the working class. The Revolution of February hoists the colours of the “Social Republic,” thus proving at its outset that the true meaning of State power is revealed, that its pretence of being the armed force of public welfare, the embodiment of the general interests of societies rising above and keeping in their respective spheres the warring private interests, is exploded, that its secret as an instrument of class despotism is laid open, that the work men do want the Republic, no longer as a political modification of the old system of class rule, but as the revolutionary means of breaking down class rule itself. In view of the menaces of the “Social Republic” the ruling class feel instinctively that the anonymous reign of the Parliamentary Republic can be turned into a joint-stock company of their conflicting factions, while the past monarchies by their very title signify the victory of one faction and the defeat of the other, the prevalence of one section’s interest of that class over that of the other, land over capital or capital over land. In opposition to the working class the hitherto ruling class, in whatever specific forms it may appropriate the labour of the masses, has one and the same economic interest, to maintain the enslavement of labour and reap its fruits directly as landlord and capitalist, indirectly as the State parasites of the landlord and the capitalist, to enforce that “order” of things which makes the producing multitude, a “vile multitude,” serving [read serve] as a mere source of wealth and dominion to their betters. Hence Legitimists, Orleanists, bourgeois Republicans and the Bonapartist adventurers, eager to qualify themselves as defenders of property by first pilfering it, club together and merge into the “Party of Order,” the practical upshot of that Revolution made by the proletariat under enthusiastic shouts of the “Social Republic. ” The Parliamentary Republic of the Party of Order is not only the reign of terror of the ruling class. The State power becomes in their hand the avowed instrument of the civil war in [the] hand of the capitalist and the landlord, their State parasites, against [the] revolutionary aspirations of the producer.

Under the monarchical régimes the repressive measures and the confessed principles of the day’s government are denounced to the people by the fractions of the ruling classes that are out of power; the opposition ranks of the ruling class interest the people in their party feuds by appealing to its own interests, by their attitudes of [read as] tribunes of the people, by the revindication of popular liberties. But in the anonymous reign of the Republic, while amalgamating the modes of repression of old past régimes (taking out of the arsenals of all past régimes the arms of repression), and wielding them pitilessly, the different fractions of the ruling class celebrate an orgy of renegation. With cynical effrontery they deny the professions of their past, trample under foot their “so-called” principles, curse the revolutions they have provoked in their name, and curse the name of the Republic itself, although only its anonymous reign is wide enough to admit them into a common crusade against the people.

Thus this most cruel is at the same time the most odious and revolting form of class rule. Wielding the State power only as an instrument of civil war, it can only hold it by perpetuating civil war. With parliamentary anarchy at its head, crowned by the uninterrupted intrigues of each of the fractions of the “Order” Party for the restoration of each own pet régime, [and] in open war against the whole body of society out of its own narrow circle, the Party of Order rule becomes the most intolerable rule of disorder. Having, in its war against the mass of the people, broken all its means of resistance and laid it helplessly under the sword of the Executive, the Party of Order itself and its parliamentary régime is warned off the stage by the sword of the Executive. That parliamentary Party of Order republic can therefore only be an interreign. Its natural upshot is imperialism, whatever the number of the Empire. Under the form of imperialism, the State power with the sword for its sceptre, professes to rest upon the peasantry, that large mass of producers apparently outside the class struggle of labour and capital, professes to save the working class by breaking down parliamentarism and therefore the direct subserviency of the State power to the ruling classes, professes to save the ruling classes themselves by subduing the working classes without insulting them, professes, if not public welfare, at least national glory. It is therefore proclaimed as the “saviour of order.” However galling to the political pride of the ruling class and its State parasites, it proves itself to be the really adequate regime of the bourgeois “order” by giving full scope to all the orgies of its industry, turpitudes of its speculation, and all the meretricious splendours of its life. The State thus seemingly lifted above civil society, becomes at the same time itself the hotbed of all the corruptions of that society. Its own utter rottenness, and the rottenness of the society to be saved of [read by] it, was laid bare by the bayonet of Prussia, but so much is this imperialism the unavoidable political form of “order,” that is, the “order” of bourgeois society, that Prussia herself seemed only to reverse[w] its central seat at Paris in order to transfer it to Berlin.


The Empire is not[x] like its predecessors, the Legitimate monarchy, the Constitutional monarchy and the Parliamentary Republic, one of the political forms of bourgeois society, it is at the same time its most prostitute, its most complete, and its ultimate political form. It is the State power of modern class rule, at least on the European continent.

Footnotes

Transcriber's Note: The endnotes for the two "Drafts" include sixteen which appeared in the Chinese edition of The Civil War in France and have reference numbers from the latter that are necessarily NOT in sequence with respect to the endnotes accompanying the two “Drafts.” – DJR

a This refers to William I, king of Prussia. Marx here sarcastically compares him to William the Conqueror (Duke of Normandy) who conquered England in 1066.

b In the draft the word “who” appears before “installed,” but as this was clearly a slip of the pen it is omitted here.

c See above, pp. 35-36.

d See footnote on p. 114.

e d.d. : dated. The correct date was 31 July.

f “1841” should read “1840” (see above, p. 49).

g A blank space in the manuscript.

h embaled : bundled off.

i This refers to the ante-room, decorated with an oval window, in the Versailles Palace, where the courtiers waited for an audience with the king.

j “homilies” in the German translation.

k finish off: complete.

l “ruminants” in the German translation.

m figures: faces.

n “Commune” should read “Committee.”

o Denis Auguste Affre.

p Georges Darbog.

q Jules Bergeret.

r In the German translation, this sentence reads: “All the fights of the ruling classes against the producing classes menacing their privileges are full of the same horrors, although none exhibits such an excess of humanity on the part of the oppressed, and only a few show such baseness by their adversaries... .”

s In the German translation, “charges” reads “victory.”

t Conclusion.

u “rustic squire” in the German translation.

v Beginning from here, three pages of the manuscript were minus their page numbers. The next paragraph is preceded by the words “Seite 9” (page 9).

w reverse: overthrow.

x For meaning, the word “merely” is required after “not.”