The Civil War in France

First Draft

The Government of Defence

Four months after the commencement of the war, when the Government of Defence had thrown a sop to [the] Paris National Guard by allowing them to show their fighting capabilities at Buzenvall,[112] the Government considered the opportune moment come to prepare Paris for capitulation. To the assembly of the maires of Paris for capitulation, Trochu in presence of and supported by Jules Favre and some others of his colleagues, revealed at last his “plan.” He said literally:

“The first question, addressed to me by my colleagues on the evening of the 4th September, was this: Paris, can it stand, with any chance of success, 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 these 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, this might be a heroical folly, but it would be nothing else. ... The events have not given the lie to my prevision.

Trochu’s plan, from the very day of the proclamation of the Republic, was the capitulation of Paris and of France. In point of fact he was the commander-in-chief of the Prussians. In a letter to Gambetta, Jules Favre himself confessed so much that the enemy to be put down, was not the Prussian soldier, but the Paris (revolutionary) “demagogue.” The high-sounding promises to the people by the Government of Defence were therefore as many deliberate lies. The “plan” they systematically carried out by entrusting the defence of Paris to Bonapartist generals, by disorganizing the National Guard and by organizing famine under the maladministration of Jules Ferry. The attempts of the Paris workmen on the 5th of October, the 31st of October, etc., to supplant these traitors by the Commune, were put down as conspiracies with the Prussian![113] After the capitulation the mask was thrown off (cast aside). The capitulards became a government by the grace of Bismarck. Being his prisoners, they stipulated with him a general armistice, the conditions of which disarmed France and rendered all further resistance impossible. Resuscitated at Bordeaux as the Government of the Republic, these very same capitulards through Thiers, their ex-Ambassador, and Jules Favre, their Foreign Minister, fervently implored Bismarck in the name of the majority of the so-called National Assembly, and long before the rise of Paris, to disarm, and occupy Paris, and put down “its canaille,” as Bismarck himself on his return from France to Berlin sneeringly told his admirers at Frankfurt. This occupation of Paris by the Prussians – such was the last word of the “plan” of the Government of Defence. The cynical effrontery with which, since their instalment at Versailles, the same men fawn upon and appeal to the armed intervention of Prussia, has dumbfounded even the venal press of Europe. The heroic exploits of the Paris National Guard, since they fight no longer under but against the capitulards, has forced even the most sceptical to brand the word “traitor” on the brazen fronts of the Trochu, Jules Favre et Co. The documents seized by the Commune, have, at last, furnished the juridical proofs of their high treason. Amongst these papers there are letters of the Bonapartist sabreurs, to whom the execution of Trochu’s “plan” had been confided, in which these infamous wretches crack jokes at and make fun of their own “defence of Paris” (cf., for instance, the letter 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).

It is, therefore evident, that the men who now form the government of Versailles, can only be saved from the fate of convicted traitors by civil war, the death of the Republic and a monarchical restauration [restoration] under the shelter of Prussian bayonets.

But – and this is most characteristic of the men of the Empire, as well as of the men who but on its soil and within its atmosphere could grow into mock-tribunes of the people – the victorious Republic would not only brand them as traitors, it would have to surrender them as common felons to the criminal court. Look only at Jules Favre, Ernest Picard, and Jules Ferry, the great men, under Thiers, of the Government of Defence!

A series of authenticated judiciary documents spreading over about 20 years, and published by M. Millière, a representative to the National Assembly, proves that Jules Favre, living in adulterous concubinage with the wife of a drunkard resident at Algiers, had, by a most complicated concatenation of daring forgeries, contrived to grasp in the name of his

bastards, a large succession that made him a rich man and that the connivance only of the Bonapartist tribunals saved him from exposure in a law-suit undertaken by the legitimate claimants. Jules Favre, then, this unctuous mouthpiece of family, religion, property, and order, has long since been forfeited to the Code pénal. Lifelong penal servitude would be his unavoidable lot under every honest government.

Ernest Picard, the present Versailles Home Minister, appointed by himself on the 4th of September, Home Minister of the Government of Defence,[a] after he had tried in vain to be appointed by Louis Bonaparte, this Ernest Picard is the brother of one Arthur Picard. When, together with Jules Favre and Co., he had the impudence to propose this worthy brother of his as a candidate in the Seine-et-Oise for the Corps législatif, the imperialist government published two documents, a report of the Prefecture of Police (13 July,[b] 1867) stating that this Arthur Picard was excluded from the Bourse as an “escroc ” [swindler], and another document of the 11 December 1868, according to which Arthur had confessed the theft of 300,000 frs., committed by him as a director of one of the branches of the Société générale, Rue Palestro, No. 5. Ernest made not only his worthy Arthur the editor-in-chief of a paper of his own, the Electeur libre, founded under the Empire and continued to this day, a paper, in which the Republicans are daily denounced as “robbers, bandits, and partageux [appropriators],” but once become the Home Minister of the “Defence,” Ernest employed Arthur as his financial medium between the Home Office to [read and] the Stock Exchange, there to discount the State secrets entrusted to him.

The whole “financial” correspondence between Ernest and Arthur has fallen into the hands of the Commune. Like the lachrymose Jules Favre, Ernest Picard, the Joe Miller of the Versailles Government, is a man forfeited to the Code pénal and the galleys.

To make up this trio, Jules Ferry, a poor breadless barrister before 4 September, not content to organize the famine of Paris, had contrived to job a fortune out of this famine. The day on which he would have to give an account of his peculations during the Paris siege would be his day of judgment!

No wonder then that these men who can only hope to escape from the hulks in a monarchy, protected by Prussian bayonets, who but in the turmoil of civil war can win their ticket of leave, that these desperadoes were at once chosen by Thiers and accepted by the Rurals as the safest tools of the counter-revolution!

No wonder that when in the beginning of April captured National Guards were exposed at Versailles to the ferocious outrages of Piétri’s “lambs” and the Versailles mob, M. Ernest Picard, “with his hands in his trousers pockets, walked from group to group cracking jokes,” while “on the balcony of the Prefecture Madame Thiers, Madame Jules Favre and a bevy of similar dames, looking in excellent health and spirits,” exulted in that disgusting scene. No wonder then, that while one part of France winces under the heels of the conquerors, while Paris, the heart and head of France, daily sheds streams of its best blood in self-defence against the home traitors ... , the Thiers, Favres et Co. indulge in revelries at the Palace of Louis XIV, such, for instance, as the grand fête given by Thiers in honour of Jules Favre on his return from Rouen (whither he had been sent to conspire with (fawn upon) the Prussians). It is the cynical orgy of evaded felons.

If the Government of Defence first made Thiers their Foreign Ambassador, going a-begging at all courts of Europe, there to barter a king for France for their intervention against Prussia, if, later on, they sent him on a travelling tour through out the French provinces, there to conspire with the Châteaux and secretly prepare the general elections which, together with the capitulation, would take France by surprise – Thiers, on his side, made them his ministers and high functionaries. They were safe men.

There is one thing rather mysterious in the proceedings of Thiers, his recklessness in precipitating the revolution of Paris. Not content to goad Paris by the anti-Republican demonstrations of his Rurals, by the threats to decapitate and decapitalize Paris, by Dufaure’s (Thiers’ Minister of Justice) law of the 10th of March on the échéances of bills [bills falling due] which impended bankruptcy on the Paris commerce, by appointing Orleanist ambassadors, by the transfer of the Assemblée to Versailles, by an imposition of a new tax on newspapers, by the confiscation of the Republican Paris journals, by the revival of the state of siege, first proclaimed by Palikao[61] and annulled with the downfall of the imperialist government on the 4th of September, by appointing Vinoy, the Décembriseur and ex-senator, Governor of Paris, Valentin, the imperialist gendarme, Prefect of Police, and Aurelle de Paladines, the Jesuit general, commander-in-chief of the Paris National Guard – he opened the civil war with feeble forces, by Vinoy’s attack on the buttes Montmartre, by the attempt first to rob the National Guards of cannon which belonged to them and which were only left to them by the Paris convention, because they were their property, and thus to disarm Paris.

Whence this feverish eagerness d’en finir [to finish it off]? To disarm and put down Paris was of course the first condition of a monarchical counter-revolution, but an astute intriguer like Thiers could only risk the future of the difficult enterprise in undertaking it without due preparation, with ridiculously insufficient means, except under the sway of some overwhelmingly urgent wave. The motive was this. By the agency of Pouyer-Quertier, his Finance Minister, Thiers had concluded a loan of two milliards to be paid immediately down, and some more milliards to follow at certain terms. In this loan transaction a truly royal pot de vin (drink money) was reserved for those grand citizens – Thiers, Jules Favre, Ernest Picard, Jules Simon, Pouyer-Quertier, etc. But there was one hitch in the transaction. Before definitively sealing the treaty, the contractors wanted one guarantee – the tranquillization of Paris. Hence the reckless proceedings of Thiers. Hence the savage hatred against the Paris workmen, perverse enough to interfere with this fine job.

As to the Jules Favres, Picards, etc., we have said enough to prove them the worthy accomplices of such a jobbery. As to Thiers himself, it is notorious that during his two ministries under Louis Philippe he realized 2 millions, and that during his premiership (dating March 1840) he was taunted from the tribune of the Chamber of Deputies with his Bourse peculations, in answer to which he shed tears, a commodity he disposes of as free]y as Jules Favre and the celebrated comedian Frédérick Lemaître. It is no less notorious that the first measure taken by M. Thiers to save France from the financial ruin, fastened upon her by the war, was – to endow himself with a yearly salary of 3 millions of francs, exactly the sum Louis Bonaparte got in 1850 as an equivalent from M. Thiers and his troop in the Legislative Assembly for allowing them to abolish the general suffrage.[114] This endowment of M. Thiers with 3 millions was the first word of “the economic republic,” the vista of which he had opened to his Paris electors in 1869. As to Pouyer-Quertier, he is a cotton-spinner at Rouen. In 1869, he was the leader of the millowners’ conclave that proclaimed a general reduction of wages necessary for the “conquest” of the English market – an intrigue, then baffled by the International.[115] Pouyer-Quertier, otherwise a fervent and even servile partisan of the Empire, found only one fault with it, its commercial treaty with England damaging to his own shop interests. His first step, as M. Thiers’ Finance Minister, was to denounce that “hateful” treaty and to pronounce the necessity of re-establishing the old protective duties for his own shop. His second step was the patriotic attempt to strike Alsace by the re-established old protective duties on the pretext that in this case no international treaty stood in the way of their re-introduction. By this master-stroke his own shop at Rouen would have got rid of the dangerous competition of the rival shops at Mülhausen. His last step was to make a present to his son-in-law, M. Roche-Lambert, of the receveur-generalship [general tax-collector’s office] of the Loiret, one of the rich booties falling into the lap of the governing bourgeois, and which Pouyer-Quertier had found so much fault with his imperialist predecessor, M. Magne, endowing his own son with that big jobbing place. This Pouyer-Quertier was then exactly the man for the perpetration of the above said job.

30 mars. Rappel.[116] Jules Ferry, ex-maire de Paris, a défendu, par une circulaire du 28 mars, aux employés de l’octroi ... de continuer toute perception for the city of Paris. [March 30, Rappel. Jules Ferry, ex-mayor of Paris, by a circular on March 28, forbade the employees of the toll-office ... to continue any collection for the city of Paris.]

Small state rogueries, – a little character ... cankering conscience ... everlasting suggester of parliamentary intrigue ... petty expedients and devices ... rehearsing his homilies of liberalism, of the “liberatés nécessaries ” ... eagerly bent on ... strong reasons to weigh against the chances of failure ... cogent arguments which counterpoise ... kind of heroism in exaggerated baseness ... lucky parliamentary stratagems. ...

M. E. Picard est un malandrin, qui pendant toute la durée du siège a tripoté à la Bourse sur les défaites de nos armées. [M. E. Picard is a robber, who speculated at the Bourse on our army’s defeats throughout the period of the Siege.]

Massacre, trahison, incendie, assassinat, calomnie, mensonge. [Massacre, treason, arson, assassination, calumny, lying.]

In his speech to the assembly of maires, etc. (25th April), Thiers says himself that the “assassins of Clement Thomas and Lecomte” [are] a handful of criminals – “et ceux qui pourront à juste titre être considérés comme complices de ces crimes par conspiration ou assistance, c’est-à-dire un très petit nombre d’individus.” [“and those who can rightly be considered as accomplices of these crimes by conspiracy or assistance, that is to say, a very small number of individuals.”]

Dufaure wants to put down Paris by press prosecutions in the provinces. Monstrous to bring journals before a jury because preaching “conciliation.

Dufaure plays a great part in the Thiers intrigue. By his law of the 10th of March, he roused all the indebted commerce of Paris. By his law on Paris house rents, he menanced all Paris. Both laws were to punish Paris for having saved the honour of France and delayed the surrender to Bismarck for 6 months. Dufaure is an Orleanist, and a “Liberal,” in the parliamentary sense of the word. Consequently, he has always been the minister of repression and of the state of siege.

He accepted his first portefeuille on the 13 May, 1839, after the defeat of the dèrnière prise d’armes [latest armed uprising] [117] Of the Republican party, was therefore the minister of the pitiless repression of the July government of that day.

On the 2nd June 1849,[118] Cavaignac, forced on the October (1848) to raise the state of siege, called into his ministry two ministers of Louis Philippe (Dufaure, for the Interior, and Vivien ). He appointed them on the demand of the Rue [de] Poitiers [119] (Thiers), which demanded guarantees. He thus hoped to secure the support of the dynastics for the impending election of president. Dufaure employed the most illegal means to secure Cavaignac’s candidature. Intimidation and electoral corruption had never been exercised on a larger scale. Dufaure inundated France with defamatory prints against the other candidates, and especially of Louis Bonaparte, what [readwhich] did not prevent him to become later on Louis Bonaparte’s minister. Dufaure became again the minister of the state of siege of 13 June 1849 (against the demonstration of the National Guard against the bombardment of Rome, etc., by the French army). He is now again the minister of the state of siege, proclaimed at Versailles (for department of Seine-et-Oise). Power given to Thiers to declare any department whatever in a state of siege. Dufaure, as in 1839, as in 1849, wants new repressive laws, new press laws, a law to “abridge the formalities of the courts-martial.” In a circular to the Procureurs généraux [Attorney-Generals] he denounces the cry of “conciliation ” as a press crime to be severely prosecuted. It is characteristic of the French magistrature that only one single Procureur général (that of Mayenne)[c] wrote to Dufaure to

“resign. ... I cannot serve an Administration which orders me, in a moment of civil war, to rush into party struggles and prosecute citizens, whom my conscience holds innocent, for uttering the word conciliation.

He belonged to the “Union libérale” in 1847 which conspired against Guizot, as he belonged to the “Union libérale” of 1869 which conspired against Louis Bonaparte.[120]

With respect to the law of 10 March and the law of house rents, it ought to be remarked that both Dufaure’s and Picard’s (both advocates) best clients are amongst the house proprietors and the big bourses averse to losing anything by the siege of Paris.

Now as after the Revolution of February 1848, these men tell the Republic, as the executioner told Don Carlos, “Je vais t’assassiner, mais c’est pour ton bien. ” (I shall murder thee, but for thy own good.)

Lecomte and Clément Thomas

After Vinoy’s attempt to carry the buttes Montmartre (on the 18th March, they were shot in the gardens of the Chateau Rouge, 4 o’clock, 18th), General Lecomte and Clément Thomas were taken prisoner and shot by the same excited soldiers of the 81st of the line. It was a summary act of Lynch justice performed despite the instances of some delegates of the Central Committee. Lecomte, an epauletted cut-throat, had four times commanded his troops, on the Place Pigalles, to charge an unarmed gathering of women and children. Instead of shooting the people, the soldiers shot him. Clément Thomas, an ex-quartermaster, a “general,” extemporized [on] the eve of the June massacres (1848) by the men of the National, whose gérant [manager] he had been, had never dipped his sword in the blood of any other enemy but that of the Paris working class. He was one of the sinister plotters who deliberately provoked the June insurrection and one of its most atrocious executioners. When, on the 31st October, 1870, the Paris proletarian National Guards surprised the “Government of Defence” at the Hôtel de Ville and took them prisoner, these men who had [been] appointed by themselves, these gens de paroles [men of their word ], as one of them, Picard, called them recently, gave their word of honour that they would make place to [read for] the Commune. Thus allowed to escape scot-free, they launched Trochu’s Bretons on their too-confident captors. One of them, however, M. Tamisier, resigned his dignity as commander-in-chief of the National Guard. He refused to break his word of honour. Then the hour had again struck for Clément Thomas. He was appointed, in Tamisier’s place, commander-in-chief of the National Guard. He was the true man for Trochu’s “plan.” “He never made war upon the Prussians,” he made war upon the National Guard, whom he disorganized, disunited, calumniated, weeding out all its officers hostile to Trochu’s “plan,” setting one set of National Guards against the other and whom he sacrificed in “sorties,” so planned as to cover them with ridicule. Haunted by the spectres of his June victims, this man, without any official charge, must needs again reappear on [the] theatre of war of the 18th of March, where he scented another massacre of the Paris people. He fell a victim of Lynch justice in the first moment of popular exasperation. The men who had surrendered Paris to the tender mercies of the Décembriseur Vinoy, in order to kill the Republic and pocket the pots de vin, [tips], stipulated by the Pouyer-Quertier contract, shouted now: Assassins, Assassins! Their howl was re-echoed by the press of Europe so eager for the blood of the “proletarians.” A farce of hysterical “sensibleness” was enacted in the rural Assemblée, and now as before, the corpses of their friends were most welcome weapons against their enemies. Paris and the Central Committee were made responsible for an accident out of their control. It is known, how in the days of June 1848, the “men of Order” shook Europe with the cry of indignation against the insurgents because of the assassination of the Archbishop of Paris.[d] Even at that time they knew perfectly well from the evidence of M. Jacquemet, the vicaire général of the Archbishop, who had accompanied him to the barricades, that the Bishop had been shot by the troops of Cavaignac, and not by the insurged,[e] but his dead corpse served their turn. M. Darboy, the present Archbishop of Paris, one of the hostages taken by the Commune in self-defence against the savage atrocities of the Versailles Government, however, seems, as appears from his letter to Thiers, to have strange misgivings [that] Papa Transnonain [121] be eager to speculate in his body, as an object of holy indignation. There passed hardly a day, in which the Versailles journals did not announce his execution, which the continued atrocities, and violation of the rules of war on the side of “order,” would have scaled on the part of every government but that of the Commune. The Versailles Government had hardly realized a first military success, when Captain Desmarêt, who at the head of his gendarmes assassinated the chivalrous Flourens, has been decorated by Thiers. Flourens had saved the lives of the “defence men” on the 31st October. Vinoy the runaway (runagate), was appointed Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour, because he had our brave comrade Duval when taken prisoner, shot inside the redoubts, because as a second instalment, he had shot some dozen captive troops of the line who had joined the Paris people, and inaugurated this civil war by the “methods of December.”[122] General Galliffet – “the husband of that charming Marchioness whose costumes at the masked balls were one of the wonders of the Empire,” as a London penny-a-liner delicately puts it, – “surprised” near Rueil a captain, lieutenant, and private of National Guards, had them at once shot, and immediately published a proclamation to glorify himself on the deed. These are a few of the murders officially narrated and gloried in by the Versailles Government. 25 soldiers of the 80th Regiment of the line shot as “rebels” by the 75th.

“Every man wearing the uniform of the regular army who was captured in the ranks of the Communists was straight-away shot without the slightest mercy. The governmental troops were perfectly ferocious.”

“M. Thiers communicated the encouraging particulars of Flourens’ death to the Assembly. ”

Versailles, 4 April. Thiers, that misshapen dwarf, reports on his prisoners brought to Versailles (in his proclamation):

“Never had more degraded countenances of a degraded democracy met the afflicted gaze of honest man.” (Piétri’s men!)

Vinoy protests against any mercy to insurgent officers or line men.

On the 6th of April, decree of the Commune on reprisals (and hostages):

“Considering that the Versailles Government openly treads underfoot the laws of humanity and those of war, and that it has been guilty of horrors such as even the invaders of France have not dishonoured themselves by ... it is decreed, etc.”[123] (Folgen die Artikel. [The articles are as follows.])

April 5, Proclamation of the Commune:

“Every day the banditti of Versailles slaughter or shoot our prisoners, and every hour we learn that another murder has been committed. ... The people, even in its anger, detests bloodshed, as it detests civil war, but it is its duty to protect itself against the savage attempts of its enemies, and whatever it may cost, it shall be an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”[124]
“Les sergents de ville qui se battent contre Paris ont 10 frs. par jour,” [“The policemen who fight against Paris get 10 francs a day.”]

Versailles, 11 April. Most horrible details of the cold-blooded shooting of prisoners, not deserters, related with an evident gusto by general officers and other eyewitnesses.

In his letter to Thiers, Darboy protests “against the atrocious excesses which add to the horror of our fratricidal war.” In the same strain writes Deguerry (curé de la Madeleine ) [(priest at the Madeleine)]:

“These executions rouse de grandes colères à Paris et peuvent y produire de terribles représailles.” “Ainsi l’on est résolu, à chaque nouvelle exécution, d’en ordonner deux. des nombreux otages que l’on a entre les mains. Jugez à quel point ce que [je] vous demande comme prêtre est d’une rigoureuse et absolue nécessité.” [“These executions rouse great wrath in Paris and may bring terrible reprisals.” “It is thus resolved, for each new execution, to dispose of two of the many hostages on hand. Judge for yourself how urgent and absolutely necessary the demand is – which (I) as a priest make of you.”]

In midst of these horrors Thiers writes to the Prefects: “L’Assemblée siège paisiblement. ” (Elle aussi a le coeur léger.)[125] [“The Assembly is sitting peacefully.” (It is also light-hearted.)]

Thiers and la commission des quinze [126] of his Rurals had the cool impudence to “deny officially” the “pretended summary executions and reprisals attributed to the troops of Versailles. ” But Papa Transnonain [said] in his circular of 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.”

Thiers has proved that he surpasses his hero, Napoleon I, at least in one thing – lying bulletins. (Of course, Paris bombards itself, in order to be able to calumniate M. Thiers!)

To these atrocious provocations of the Bonapartist black legs, the Commune has contented itself to take hostages and to threaten reprisals, but its threats have remained a dead letter! Not even the gendarmes masqueraded into [read as] officers, not even the captive sergents de ville, upon whom explosive bombs have been seized, were placed before a court-martial! The Commune has refused to soil its hands with the blood of these bloodhounds!

A few days before the 18th March, Clément Thomas laid before the War Minister Le Flô a plan for the disarmament of trois quarts [three-quarters] of the National Garde.

“La fine fleur de la canaille, disait-il. s’est concentrée auttour de Montmartre et s’entend avec Belleville.” [“The cream of the mob is concentrated around Montmartre and united with Belleville,” he said.]

The National Assembly

L’Assemblée élue le 8 février sous la pression de l’ennemi aux mains desquels les hommes qui gouvernent à Versailles avaient remis tous les forts et livré Paris sans défense, l’Assem- blée de Versailles avait un but unique et clairement déterminé par la convention même signée à Versailles le 29 janvier – de décider si la guerre pouvait être continuée ou traiter la paix; et, dans ce cas, fixer les conditions de cette paix et assurer le plus promptement possible l’évacuation du territoire français. [The Assembly elected on February 8 under the pressure of the enemy, to whom the men governing at Versailles had surrendered all the forts and handed over the defenceless Paris – this Versailles Assembly had but one aim, clearly determined by the Convention signed at Versailles on January 29, that is, to decide whether the war could be continued or whether to treat for peace, and, in the latter case, to establish the conditions for such a peace and ensure the evacuation of French territory as quickly as possible.]

Chanzy, Archbishop of Paris, etc.

Liberation of Chanzy took place almost simultaneously with the retreat of Saisset. The Royalist journalists were unanimous in decreeing the death of the General. They desired to fix that amiable proceeding on the Reds. Three times he had been ordered to execution, and now he was really going to be shot.

After the Vendôme Affair :[f] There was consternation at Versailles. An attack on Versailles was expected on 23 March, for the leaders of the Communal agitation had announced that they would march on Versailles, if the Assembly took any hostile action. The Assembly did not. On the contrary, it voted as urgent a proposition to hold Communal elections at Paris, etc. By the concessions the Assembly admitted its powerlessness. At the same time Royalist intrigues at Versailles. Bonapartist generals and the Duc d’Aumale.[127] Favre avowed he had received a letter from Bismarck, announcing that unless order were restored by the 26 March, Paris would be occupied by the German troops. Reds saw plainly through his little artifice. Die Vendôme affaire provoquée by le faussaire, ce jésuite infâme J. Favre, qui le (21 March?) est monté à la tribune de l’Assemblée de Versailles pour insulter ce peuple qui l’a tiré du néant et soulever Paris contre les départements. [The Vendôme Affair was provoked by the forger, that infamous Jesuit J. Favre, who mounted the tribune of the Versailles Assembly on (March 21?) to insult the people who had raised him out of obscurity, and to stir up Paris against the departments.]

30 March, Proclamation of the Commune:

“Aujourd’hui les criminels, que vous n’avez pas même voulu poursuivre, abusent de votre magnanimité pour organiser aux portes mêmes de la cité un foyer de conspiration monarchique. Ils invoquent la guerre civile, ils mettent en oeuvre toutes les corruptions, ils acceptent toutes les complicités, ils ont osé mendier jusqu’à l’appui de l’étranger.”[128] [“Today the criminals, whom you did not even wish to pursue, abuse your magnanimity and organize a centre of monarchical conspiracy at the very gates of the city. They invoke civil war, they employ all kinds of corrupt methods, they accept any complicity, they even dare to solicit foreign support.”]


On the 25th April, in his reception of the maires, adjuncts, and municipal councillors of the suburban communes of the Seine, Thiers said:

“La République existe. Le chef de pouvoir exécutif n’est qu’un simple citoyen. ” [“The Republic exists. The Chief of the Executive is only a common citizen.”]

The progress of France from 1830 to 1871, according to M. Thiers, consists in this: In 1830 Louis Philippe was “the best of Republics.” In 1871 the ministerial fossil of Louis Philippe’s reign, little Thiers himself, is the best of Republics.

M. Thiers commenced his régime by an usurpation. By the National Assembly he was appointed chief of the ministry of the Assembly; he appointed himself Chief of the Executive of France.

The Assembly and the Paris Revolution

The Assembly, summoned at the dictate of the foreign invader, was, as is clearly laid down in the Versailles convention of the 29th January, but elected for one single purpose: To decide the continuation of war or settle the conditions of peace. In their calling the French people to electoral urns, the capitulards of Paris themselves plainly defined that specific mission of the Assembly and this accounts to a great part for its very constitution. The continuation of the war having become impossible through the very terms of the armistice humbly accepted by the capitulards, the Assembly had in fact but to register a disgraceful peace and for this specific performance the worst men of France were [the] best.

The Republic was proclaimed on the 4th of September, not by the pettifoggers who installed themselves at the Hôtel de Ville as a Government of Defence, but by the Paris people. It was acclaimed throughout France without a single dissentient voice. It conquered its own existence by a five months’ war whose cornerstone was the prolonged resistance of Paris. Without this war, carried on by the Republic and in the name of the Republic, the Empire would have been restored by Bismarck after the capitulation of Sedan, the pettifoggers with M. Thiers at their head would have had to capitulate not for Paris, but for personal guarantees against a voyage to Cayenne, and the Rural Assembly would never have been heard of. It met only by the grace of the Republican revolution, inchoated at Paris. Being no constituent Assembly, as M. Thiers himself has repeated to nauseousness, it would, if not as a mere chronicler of the passed incidents of the Republican Revolution, not even have had the right to proclaim the destitution [removal] of the Bonaparte’s dynasty. The only legitimate power, therefore, in France is the Revolution itself, centring in Paris. That Revolution was not made against Napoleon the Little, but against the social and political conditions, which engendered the Second Empire, which received their last finish under its sway, and which, as the war with Prussia glaringly revealed, would leave France a cadaver, if they were not superseded by the regenerating powers of the French working-class Revolution. The attempts of the Rural Assembly holding only an attorney’s power to the Revolution to sign the disastrous bond handed over by its present “Executive” to the foreign invader, its attempt to treat the Revolution as its own capitulard is, therefore, a monstrous usurpation. Its war against Paris is nothing but a cowardly Chouannerie[129] under the shelter of Prussian bayonets. It is a bare conspiracy to assassinate France, in order to save the privileges, the monopolies and the luxuries of the degenerate, effete, and putrefied classes that have dragged her to the abyss from which she can only be saved by the herculean hand of a truly Social Revolution.

Thiers Finest Army

Even before he became a “statesman,” M. Thiers had proved his lying powers as a historian. But the vanity, so characteristic of dwarfish men, has this time betrayed him into the sublime of the ridiculous. His army of Order, the dregs of the Bonapartist soldatesca [soldiery] freshly reimported, by the grace of Bismarck, from Prussian prisons, the Pontifical Zouaves,[92] the Chouans[91] of Charette, the Vendéens of Cathelineau, the “municipals”[130] of Valentin, the ex-sergents de ville of Piétri and the Corsican gendarmes of Valentin, who under L. Bonaparte were only the spies of the army but under M. Thiers form its warlike flower, the whole under the supervision of epauletted mouchards and under the command of the runaway Decembrist marshals who had no honour to lose – this motley, ungainly, hangdog lot M. Thiers dubs “the finest army France ever possessed ”! If he allows the Prussians still to quarter at St. Denis, it is only to frighten them by the sight of the “finest army” of Versailles.


Small state rogueries.

Everlasting suggester of parliamentary intrigues M. Thiers was never anything else but an “able” journalist and a clever word - “fencer,” a master of parliamentary roguery, a virtuoso in perjury, a craftsman in all the small stratagems, base perfidies, and subtle devices of parliamentary party-warfare. This mischievous gnome charmed the French bourgeoisie during half a century because he is the truest intellectual expression of their own class corruption. When in the ranks of the opposition, he over and over rehearsed his stale homily of the “libertés nécessaires,” to stamp them out when in power. When out of office, he used to threaten Europe with the sword of France. And what were his diplomatic performances in reality? To pocket in 1841 the humiliation of the London treaty,[131] to hurry on the war with Prussia by his declamations against German unity, to compromise France in 1870 by his begging tour at all the courts of Europe, to sign in 1871 the Paris capitulation to accept a “peace at any price” and implore from Prussia a concession – leave and means to get up a civil war in his own downtrodden country. To a man of his stamp the underground agencies of modern society remained of course always unknown; but even the palpable changes at its surface he failed to understand. For instance, any deviation from the old French protective system he denounced as a sacrilege and, as a minister of Louis Philippe, went the length of treating disdainfully the construction of railways as a foolish chimera and even under Louis Bonaparte he eagerly opposed every reform of the rotten French army organization. A man without ideas, without convictions, and without courage.

A professional “Revolutionist” in that sense, that in his eagerness of display, of wielding power and putting his hands into the National Exchequer, he never scrupled, when banished to the banks[g] of the opposition, to stir the popular passions and provoke a catastrophe to displace a rival; he is at the same time a most shallow man of routine, etc. The working class he reviled as “the vile multitude. ” One of his former colleagues in the legislative assemblies, a contemporary of his, a capitalist and however a member of the Paris Commune, M. Beslay thus addresses him in a public address:

“The subjugation (asservissement ) of labour to capital, such is the ‘fonds ’ [’foundation’] of your politics (policy). and [since] the day you saw the Republic of Labour installed at the Hôtel de Ville, you have never ceased to cry to France, ‘They are criminals!’”

No wonder that M. Thiers has given orders by his Home Minister Ernest Picard to prevent “the International Association” from communicating with Paris (Sitting of Assembly, 28 March). Circulaire de Thiers aux préfets et sous-préfets [Thiers’ Circular to the Prefects and Sub-Prefects ]:

“The good workmen, so numerous as compared to the bad ones ought to know that if bread flies again from their mouths, they owe it to the adepts of the International, who are the tyrants of labour, of which they pretend themselves the liberators.”

Without the International. ...

(Jetzt die Geldgeschichte.) (Er und Favre haben ihr Geld nach London übersiedelt.) [(Now about the money affair.) (He and Favre have sent their money to London.)] It is a proverb that if rogues fall out, truth comes out. We can therefore not better finish the picture of Thiers than by the words of the London Moniteur of the master of his Versailles generals. Says the Situation [132] in the number of the 28 March:

“M. Thiers has never been minister without pushing the soldiers to the massacre of the people; he, the parricide, the man of incest, the peculator, the plagiarist, the traitor, the ambitious, the impuissant [impotent].”

Shrewd in cunning devices, and artful dodges.

Banded with the Republicans before the Revolution of July, he slipped into his first ministry under Louis Philippe by thrusting Laffitte, his old protector. His first deed was to throw his old collaborator Armand Carrel into prison. He insinuated himself with Louis Philippe as a spy upon, and the gaol-accoucheur of, the Duchess of Berry, but his activity centred in the massacre of the insurgent Paris Republicans in the Rue Transnonain and the September Laws against the press,[47] to be then cast aside as an instrument become blunted. Having intrigued himself again into power in 1840, he planned the Paris fortifications, opposed as an attempt on the liberty of Paris by the whole democratic party, except the bourgeois Republicans of the National. M. Thiers replied to their outcry from the tribune of the Chambre des députés :

“Quoi? Imaginer que des ouvrages de fortification quelconque peuvent nuire a la liberté. ... C’est se placer hors de toute réalité. Et

d’abord, c’est calomnier un gouvernement quel qu’il soit de supposer qu’ll puisse un jour chercher à se maintenir en bombardant la capitale. Quoi? Après avoir perce de ses bombes la voute des Invalides ou du Panthéon, après avoir inondé de ses feux la demeure de vos familles, il se présenterait à vous pour vous demander la confirmation de son existence! Mais il serait cent tois plus impossible après la victoire qu’auparavant. ” [Chamber of Deputies: “What? To fancy that any works of fortification could ever endanger liberty. ... That is to depart completely from reality. And first of all it is a slander on a government whatever it might be like to suppose that it could some day attempt to maintain itself by bombarding the capital. What? After having breached the vault of the Hôtel des Invalides or of the Panthéon with its shells, after having inundated your houses with its fire, it would present itself before you to demand confirmation of its existence! But such a government would be a hundred times more impossible after the victory than before. ”]

Indeed, neither the government of Louis Philippe nor that of the Bonapartist Regency dared to withdraw from Paris and bombard it. This employment of the fortifications was reserved to M. Thiers, their original plotter.

When King Bomba[49] of Naples bombarded Palermo in January 1848, M. Thiers again declared in the Chamber of Deputies: “Vous savez, Messieurs, ce qui se passe à Palerme: vous avez tous tressailli d’horreur en apprenant que, pendant 48 heures, une grande ville a été bombardée. Par qui? Etait-ce par un ennemi étranger, exerçant les droits de la guerre? Non, Messieurs, par son propre gouvernement. Et pourquoi? Parce que cette ville infortunée demandait des droits. Eh bien! pour la demande de ses droits il y a eu 48 heures de bombardement. Permettez-moi d’en appeler à l’opinion européenne. C’est un service à rendre à l’humanitè que de venir, du haut de la plus grande tribune peut-être de l’Europe, faire retentir quelques paroles d’indignation contre de tels actes. Messieurs, lorsque, il y a 50 ans, les Autrichiens, exerçant les droits de la guerre, pour s’épargner les longueurs d’un siège, voulurent bombarder Lille, lorsque plus tard les Anglais, qui exerçaient aussi les droits de la guerre, bombardèrent Copenhague, et tout récemment, quand le régent Espartero, qui avait rendu des services à son pays, pour réprimet une insurrection, a voulu bombarder Barcelone, dans tous les partis, il y a eu une générale indignation.” [“You know, gentlemen, what is happening at Palermo. You, all of you, shake with horror on hearing that a large town has been bombarded for 48 hours. By whom? Was it by a foreign enemy exercising the rights of war? No, gentlemen, it was by its own Government. And why? Because that unfortunate town demanded its rights. Well, then, for demanding its rights, it has got 48 hours of bombardment. Allow me to appeal to European public opinion. It is doing a service to mankind to stand up and make reverberate some words of indignation against such acts from perhaps the greatest tribune of Europe. Gentlemen, 50 years ago when the Austrians, exercising the rights of war, wanted to bombard Lille in order to spare it a long siege, when later the English, who also exercised the rights of war, bombarded Copenhagen, and recently, when the Regent Espartero, who had rendered services to his country, wanted to bombard Barcelona in order to suppress an insurrection, indignation was general in all political parties.”]

Little more than a year later, Thiers acted the most fiery apologist of the bombardment of Rome by the troops of the French Republic, and exalted his friend, General Changarnier, for sabring down the Paris National Guards protesting against this breach of the French Constitution.

A few days before the Revolution of February 1848, fretting at the long exile from place to which Guizot had condemned him, [and] scenting the growing commotion of the masses, which he hoped would enable him to oust his rival and impose himself upon Louis Philippe, Thiers exclaimed in the Chamber of Deputies:

Je suis du parti de la révolution, tant en France qu’en Europe. Je souhaite que le gouvernement de la révolution reste dans les mains des hommes modérés. ... Mais quand ce gouvernement passerait dans les mains d’hommes ardents, fût-ce des radicaux, je n’abandonnerai pas ma cause pour cela. Je serai toujours du parti de la révolution. ” [“I am of the party of the 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 fall into the hands of ardent men, even into those of Radicals, I shall, for all that, not desert my cause. I shall always be of the party of the Revolution. ”]

To put down the February Revolution was his exclusive occupation from the day when the Republic was proclaimed to the coup d’état.

The first days after the February explosion he anxiously hid himself, but the Paris workmen despised him too much to hate him. Still, with his notorious cowardice, which made Armand Carrel answer to his boast “he would one day die on [the] banks of the Rhine”: “Thou wilt die in a gutter” – he dared not play a part on the public stage before the popular forces were broken down through the massacre of the insurgents of June. He confined himself first to the secret direction of the conspiracy of the réunion [party] of the Rue de Poitiers which resulted in the Restauration of the Empire, until the stage had become sufficiently clear to reappear publicly on it.

During the siege of Paris, on the question whether Paris was about to capitulate, Jules Favre answered that, to utter the word capitulation, the bombardment of Paris was wanted! This explains his melodramatic protests against the Prussian bombardment, indicating the latter was a mock-bombardment, while the Thiers bombardment is a stern reality.

Parliamentary mountebank.

He is for 40 years on the stage. He has never initiated a single useful measure in any department of state or life. Vain, sceptical, epicurean, he has never written or spoken for things. In his eyes the things themselves are mere pretexts for the display of his pen or his tongue. Except his thirst for place and pelf and display there is nothing real about him, not even his chauvinism.

In the true vein of vulgar professional journalists he now sneers in his bulletins [at] the bad looks of his Versailles prisoners, now communicates that the Rurals are “à leur aise [at their ease],” now covers himself with ridicule by his bulletin on the taking of Moulin-Saquet (4 of May), where 300 prisoners were taken.

“Le reste des insurgés s’est enfui à toutes jambes, laissant 150 morts et blessés sur le champ de bataille,” [“The rest of the insurgents took to their heels, leaving 150 dead and wounded on the battlefield,”] and snappishly adds: “Voilà la victoire que la Commune peut célébrer demain dans ses bulletins.” “Paris sera sous peu délivré de ses terribles tyrans qui l’oppriment.” [“There’s the victory the Commune can celebrate tomorrow in its bulletins.” “Paris will shortly be delivered from the terrible tyrants who oppress it.”]

Paris – the “Paris” of the mass of the Paris people fighting against him is not “Paris.” “Paris – that is the rich, the capitalist, the idle” (why not the cosmopolitan stew?). This is the Paris of M. Thiers. The real Paris, working, thinking, fighting Paris, the Paris of the people, the Paris of the Commune is a “vile multitude.” There is the whole case of M. Thiers, not only for Paris, but for France. The Paris that showed its courage in the “pacific procession” and Saisset’s escapade, that throngs now at Versailles, at Rueil, at St. Denis, at St. Germain-en-Laye, followed by the cocottes sticking to the “man of religion, family, order, and property” (the Paris of the really “dangerous,” of the exploiting and lounging classes) (“the franc-fileurs [89]) and amusing itself by looking by the telescope at the battle going on, for whom “the civil war is but an agreeable diversion” – that is the Paris of M. Thiers (as the emigration of Coblenz was the France of M. de Calonne). In his vulgar journalist vein he knows not even to observe sham dignity, but he murders the wives and girls and children, found under the ruins of Neuilly, not to swerve from the etiquette of “legitimacy.” He must needs illuminate the municipal elections he has ordered in France by the conflagration of Clamart, burnt by petroleum bombs. The Roman historians finish off

Nero’s character by telling us that the monster gloried in being a rhymester and a comedian. But lift a mere professional journalist and parliamentary mountebank like Thiers to power, and he will outnero Nero.

He acts only his part as the blind tool of class interests in allowing the Bonapartist “generals” to revenge themselves on Paris; but he acts his personal part in the little byplay of bulletins, speeches, addresses, in which the vanity, vulgarity, and lowest taste of the journalist creep out.

He compares himself with Lincoln and the Parisians with the rebellious slaveholders of the South. The Southerners fought for the slavery of labour and the territorial secession from the United States. Paris fights for the emancipation of labour and the secession from power of Thiers’ State parasites, of the would-be slaveholders of France!

In his speech to the maires

“On peut compter sur ma parole à laquelle je n’ai jamais manqué!” [“You can count on my word, which I have never broken!”]
“L’assemblée est une des plus libérales qu’ait nommée la France.” [“The Assembly is one of the most liberal France has elected.”]

Er wird die Republik retten [He will save the Republic]

“pourvu que l’ordre et le travail ne soient pas perpétuellement compromis par ceux qui se prétendent les gardiens particuliers du salut de la République.” [“provided that order and work are not constantly endangered by those who claim to be particular guardians of the safety of the Republic.”]

In der Sitzung der Assemblée vom 27 April sagt er: “L’assemblée est plus libérale que lui-même!” [He said at the April 27 session of the Assembly: “The Assembly is more liberal than he himself is!”]

He, whose rhetorical trump card was always the denunciation of the Vienna treaties, he signs the Paris treaty,[133] not only the dismemberment of one part of France, (not only the occupation of almost 1/2 of it), but the milliards of indemnity, without even asking Bismarck to specify and prove his war expenses! He does not even allow the Assembly at Bordeaux to discuss the paragraphs of his capitulation!

He who upbraided throughout his life the Bourbons because they came back in the rear of foreign armies and because of their undignified behaviour to the allies occupying France after the conclusion of peace,[134] he asks nothing from Bismarck in the treaty but one concession: 40,000 troops to subdue Paris (as Bismarck stated in the Diet). Paris was for all purposes of internal defence and [opposing] foreign aggression fully secured by its armed National Guard, but Thiers superadded at once [to] the capitulation of Paris to the foreigner, the character of the capitulation of Paris to himself and Co. This stipulation was a stipulation for civil war. That war itself he opens not only with the passive permission of Prussia, but by the facilities she lends him, by the captive French troops she magnanimously despatches him from German dungeons! In his bulletins, in his and Favre’s speeches in the Assembly, he crawls in the dust before Prussia and threatens Paris every eight days with her intervention, after having failed to get it, as stated by Bismarck himself. The Bourbons were dignity itself compared to this mountebank, this grand apostle of chauvinism!

After the break-down of Prussia (Tilsit peace 1807), its government felt that it could only save itself and the country by a great social regeneration (revolution). It naturalized in Prussia on a small scale, within the limits of a feudal monarchy, the results of the French Revolution. It liberated the peasant, etc.[135]

After the Crimean defeat, which, however Russia might have saved her honour by the defence of Sevastopol and dazzled the foreigner by her diplomatic triumphs at Paris, laid open at home the rottenness of her social and administrative system, her government emancipated the serf and [reformed] her whole administrative and judicial system.[136] In both countries the daring social reform was fettered and limited in its character because it was octroyed[h] from the throne and not (instead of being) conquered by the people. Still there were great social changes, doing away with the worst privileges of the ruling classes and changing the economical basis of the old society. They felt that the great malady could only be cured by heroic measures. They felt that they could only answer to the victors by social reforms, by calling into life elements of popular regeneration. The French catastrophe of 1870 stands unparalleled in the history of the modern world! It showed official France, the France of Louis Bonaparte, the France of the ruling classes and their State parasites – a putrescent cadaver. And what is the first attempt of the infamous men, who had got at her government by a surprise of the people and who continue to hold it by a conspiracy with the foreign invader, what is [their] first attempt? To assassinate, under Prussian patronage, by L. Bonaparte’s soldatesca and Piétri’s police, the glorious work of popular regeneration commenced at Paris, to summon all the old Legitimist spectres, beaten by the July Revolution, the fossil swindlers of Louis Philippe, beaten by the Revolution of February, and celebrate an orgy of counter-revolution! Such heroism in exaggerated self-debasement is unheard of in the annals of history! But, what is most characteristic, instead of arousing a general shout of indignation on the part of official Europe and America, it evokes a current of sympathy and of fierce denunciation of Paris! This proves that Paris, true to its historical antecedents, seeks the regeneration of the French people in making it the champion of the regeneration of old society, making the social regeneration of mankind the national business of France! It is the emancipation of the producing class from the exploiting classes, their retainers and their State parasites, who prove the truth of the French adage, that “les valets du diable sont pires que le diable himself.” [“the devil’s valets are worse than the devil himself.”] Paris has hissed[i] the flag of mankind!

18 March : Government laid

“stamp of 2 centimes on each copy of every periodical, whatever its nature.” “Forbidden to found new journals until the raising of the state of siege.”

The different fractions of the French bourgeoisie had successively their reigns, the great landed proprietors under the Restoration (the old Bourbons), the capitalists under the parliamentary monarchy of July (Louis Philippe), while its Bonapartist and Republican elements kept rankling in the background. Their party feuds and intrigues were of course carried on on pretexts of public welfare, and a popular revolution having got rid of these monarchies, the other set in.

All this changed with the Republic (February). All the fractions of the bourgeoisie combined together in the Party of Order, that is the party of proprietors and capitalists, bound together to maintain the economic subjugation of labour and the repressive State machinery supporting it. Instead of a monarchy, whose very name signified the prevalence of one bourgeois fraction over the other, a victory on one side and a defeat on the other (the triumph of one side and the humiliation of the other), the Republic was the anonymous joint-stock company of the combined bourgeois fractions, of all the exploiteurs of the people clubbed together, and indeed, Legitimists, Bonapartists, Orleanists, bourgeois Republicans, Jesuits and Voltairiens, embraced each other – no longer hidden by the shelter of the crown, no longer able to interest the people in their party feuds by masquerading them into [read as] struggles for popular interest, no longer subordinate the one to the other. Direct and confessed antagonism of their class rule to the emancipation of the producing masses – order, the name for the economical and political conditions of their class rule and the servitude of labour, this anonymous or Republican form of the bourgeois régime – this bourgeois Republic, this Republic of the Party of Order is the most odious of all political régimes. Its direct business, its only raison d’être is to crush down the people. It is the terrorism of class rule. The thing is done in this way. The people having fought and made the Revolution, proclaimed the Republic, and made room for a National Assembly, the bourgeois, whose known Republican professions are a guarantee for their “Republic,” are pushed on the foreground of the stage by the majority of the Assembly, composed of the vanquished and professed enemies of the Republic. The Republicans are entrusted with the task to goad the people into the trap of an insurrection, to be crushed by fire and sword. This part was performed by the party of the National with Cavaignac at their head after the Revolution of February (by the June Insurrection). By their crime against the masses, these Republicans lose then their sway. They have done their work and, if yet allowed to support the Party of Order in its general struggle against the proletariat, they are at the same time displaced from the government, forced to fall back in the last ranks, and only allowed “on sufferance.” The combined Royalist bourgeois then become the father of the Republic, the true rule of the “Party of Order” sets in. The material forces of the people being broken for the time being, the work of reaction – the breaking down of all the concessions conquered in four revolutions – begins piece by piece. The people is stung to madness not only by the deeds of the Party of Order, but by the cynical effrontery with which it is treated as the vanquished, with which in its own name, in the name of the Republic, that low lot rules it supreme. Of course, that spasmodic form of anonymous class despotism cannot last long, can only be a transitory phasis. It knows that it is seated on a revolutionary volcano. On the other hand, if the Party of Order is united in its war against the working class, in its capacity of the Party of Order, the play of intrigue of its different fractions, the one against the other, each for the prevalence of its peculiar interest in the old order of society, each for the restoration of its own pretender and personal ambitions, sets in in full force as soon as its rule seems secured (guaranteed) by the destruction of the material revolutionary forces. This combination of a common war against the people and a common conspiracy against the Republic, combined with the internal feuds of its rulers, and their play of intrigues, paralyses society, disgusts and bewilders the masses of the middle class* and “troubles” business, keeps them in a chronic state of disquietude. All the conditions of despotism are created (have been engendered) under this régime, but despotism without quietude, despotism with parliamentary anarchy at its head. Then the hour has struck for a coup d’état, and the incapable lot has to make room for any lucky pretender, making [an] end of the anonymous form of class rule. In this way Louis Bonaparte made an end of the bourgeois Republic after its 4 years of existence. During all that time Thiers was the “âme damnée” [tool] of the Party of Order, that in the name of the Republic made war upon the Republic, a class war upon the people, and, in reality, created the Empire. He played exactly the same part now as he played then, only then but as a parliamentary intriguer, now as the Chief of the Executive. Should he not be conquered by the Revolution, he will now as then be a baffled tool. Whatever counter-vailing government will set in, its first act will be to cast aside the man who surrendered France to Prussia and bombarded Paris.

Thiers had many grievances against Louis Bonaparte. The latter had used him as a tool and a dupe. He had frightened him (shocked his nerves) by his arrest after the coup d’état. He had annulled him by putting down the parliamentary régime, the only one under which a mere State parasite, like Thiers, a mere talker, can play a political part. Last [but] not least Thiers, having been the historic shoeblack of Napoleon, had so long described his deeds, as to fancy he had enacted them himself. The legitimate caricature of Napoleon I was in his eyes not Napoleon the Little, but little Thiers. With all that there was no infamy committed by L. Bonaparte which had not been backed by Thiers, from the occupation of Rome by the French troops to the war with Prussia.

Only a man of his shallow head can fancy for one moment, that a Republic with his head on its shoulders, with a National Assembly half Legitimist, half Orleanist, with an army under Bonapartist leaders, will, if victorious, not push him aside.

There is nothing more grotesquely horrid than a Tom Pouce affecting to play the (acting the part [of]) Timur Tamerlane. With him the deeds of cruelty are not only a matter of business, but a thing of theatrical display (stage effect) of phantastical vanity. To write “his” bulletins, to show “his” severity, to have “his” troops, “his” strategy, “his” bombardments, “his” petroleum bombs, to hide “his” cowardice under the cold-bloodedness with which he allows the Decembrist blacklegs to take their revenge on Paris! This kind of heroism in exaggerated baseness! He exults in the important part he plays and the noise he makes in the world! He quite fancies to be a great man: and how gigantic (titanic) he, the dwarf, the parliamentary dribbler, must look in the eyes of the world! In [the] midst [of] the horrid scenes of this war, one cannot help smiling at the ridiculous capers Thiers Vanity cuts! M. Thiers is a man of lively imagination, there runs an artist’s vein through his blood, and an artist’s vanity able to gull him into a belief in his own lies, and a belief in his own grandeur.

Through all the speeches, bulletins, etc., of Thiers, runs a vein of elated vanity.

That affreux Triboulet.[j]

Splendid bombardment (with petroleum bombs) from Mont-Valérien, zerstört [destroyed] a part of the houses in the Ternes within the rampart (?), with a grandiose conflagration and a fearful thunder of cannon shaking all Paris. Bombs purposely thrown into [the] Ternes and the Champs-Elysées quarters.

Explosive bombs, petroleum bombs.

The Commune

The glorious British penny-a-liner has made the splendid discovery that this is not what we used to understand by self-government. Of course, it is not. It is not the self-administration of the towns by turtle-soup guzzling aldermen, jobbing vestries, and ferocious workhouse guardians. It is not the self-administration of the counties by the holders of broad acres, long purses and empty heads. It is not the judicial abomination of “the Great Unpaid.” [137] It is not political self-government of the country through the means of an oligarchic club and the reading of the Times newspaper. It is the people acting for itself by itself.

Within this war of cannibals the most disgusting, the “literary” shrieks of the hideous gnome seated at the head of the government!

The ferocious treatment of the Versailles prisoners was not interrupted one moment, and their cold-blooded assassination was resumed so soon as Versailles had convinced itself that the Commune was too humane to execute its decree of reprisals!

The Paris Journal (at Versailles) says that 13 line soldiers made prisoners at the railway station of Clamart were shot off-hand, and all prisoners wearing the line uniforms who arrive in Versailles will be executed whenever doubts about their identity are cleared up!

M. Alexandre Dumas, fils, tells that a young man exercising the functions, if not bearing the title, of a general, was shot when having marched (in custody) a few hundred yards along a road.

5 mai, Mot d’ordre :[138] D’apres La Liberté, qui parait à Versailles, “tous les soldats de l’armée régulière qui ont été trouvés à Clamart parmi les insurgents ont été fusillés séance tenante” [May 5, Mot d’ordre : According to La Liberté published in Versailles, “All the soldiers of the regular army who were found at Clamart among the insurgents were shot on the spot”] (by Lincoln Thiers!) (Lincoln acknowledged the belligerent rights.) “These are the men denouncing on the walls of all French communes the Parisians as assassins!” The banditti!


Députation de [la] Commune à Bicêtre (27 April) pour faire une enquête sur les 4 gardes nationaux du 185e bataillon de marche de la Garde nationale, où ils ont visité le survivant (grièvement blessé) Scheffer. [Deputation from the Commune went to Bicêtre (April 27) where they visited the only survivor (seriously wounded) Scheffer to inquire about the four National Guards of the 185th Infantry Battalion of the National Guard.]

“Le malade a déclaré que, le 15 April, à la Belle-Epine, près de Villejuif, il était surpris avec trois de ses camarades par les chasseurs à cheval, qui leur ont dit de se rendre. Comme il leur était impossible de faire une résistance utile contre les forces qui les entouraient, ils jetèrent leurs armes à terre et se rendirent. Les soldats les entourèrent, les firent prisonniers sans exercer aucune violence ni aucune menace envers eux. Ils étaient déjà prisonniers depuis quelques instants, lorsqu’un capitaine des chasseurs à cheval arriva et se précipita sur eux, le revolver au poing. Il fit feu sur l’un d’eux sans dire un seul mot et l’étendit raide mort, puis il en fit autant sur le garde Scheffer, qui reçut une balle en pleine poitrine et tomba à côté de ses camarades. Les deux autres gardes re retirèrent effrayés de cette infâme agression, mais le féroce capitaine se précipita sur les deux prisonniers et les tua de deux autres coups de revolver. Les chasseurs, après les actes d’atroce et de féroce lâcheté, se retirèrent avec leur chef, laissant leurs victimes étendues sur le sol." [139] [“The wounded man said that on April 15,[k] at Belle-Epine, near Villejuif, he and three comrades were attacked by cavalrymen who told them to surrender. As it was impossible to put up effective resistance against the forces which were surrounding them, they threw their arms to the ground and surrendered. The soldiers surrounded them and took them prisoner without using violence or threats. They had been prisoners for several minutes when a cavalry captain came and rushed at them, revolver in hand. Without a word he fired at one of them and killed him; in the same way he shot at the guard Scheffer who received a bullet in the chest and fell beside his comrades. Terrified by this foul attack, the two other guards drew back, but the frenzied captain rushed at them and killed them with two revolver shots. After these atrocious and base acts, the cavalrymen retired with their chief, leaving their victims lying dead on the ground.”]

New York Tribune [140] outdoes the London papers.

M. Thiers’ “most liberal and most freely elected National Assembly that ever existed in France” is quite of a piece with his “finest army that France ever possessed.” This senile Chambre introuvable, chosen on a false pretext, consists almost exclusively of Legitimists and Orleanists. The municipal elections, carried on under Thiers himself on the 30th of April, show their relation to the French people! Of 700,000 councillors (in round numbers) returned by the 35,000 communes still left in mutilated France, 200 are Legitimists, 600 Orleanists, 7,000 avowed Bonapartists, and all the rest Republicans or Communists.[l] (Versailles Cor., Daily News, 5 May.) Is any other proof wanted that this Assembly with the Orleanist mummy Thiers at its head represent an usurpatory minority?


M. Thiers represented again and again the Commune as the instrument of a handful of “convicts” and “ticket-of-leave men,” of the scum of Paris. And this “handful” of desperadoes holds in check since [read for] more than 6 weeks the “finest army that France ever possessed” led by the invincible MacMahon and inspired by the genius of Thiers himself!

The exploits of the Parisians have not only refuted him. All elements of Paris have spoken.

“Il ne faut point confondre le mouvement de Paris avec la surprise de Montmartre, qui n’en a été que l’occasion et le point de départ; ce mouvement est général et profond dans la conscience de Paris; le plus grand nombre de ceux-là mêmes qui, pour une cause ou pour une autre, s’en sont tenus à l’ècart n’en désavouent point pour cela la légitimité sociale.” [“One must not confuse the movement of Paris with the surprise attack on Montmartre, the latter being only the cause and starting point; this movement is general and goes deep into the consciousness of Paris; even the majority of those who for one reason or another keep aloof do not deny its social legitimacy.”]

Who says this? The delegates of the Syndical chambers, men who speak in the name of 7-8,000 merchants and industrials.[141] They have gone to tell it at Versailles. ... The Ligue de la réunion républicaine ... the manifestation of the francs- maçons,[142] etc. [The League of Republican Union ... the demonstration of the Freemasons, etc.]

The Province

Les provinciaux espiègles. [The provincial rogues.]

If Thiers fancied one moment that the provinces were really antagonistic to the Paris movement, he would do all in his power to give the provinces the greatest possible facilities to become acquainted with the movement and all “its horrors.” He would solicit them to look at it in its naked reality, to convince themselves with their own eyes and ears of what it is. Not he! He and his “defence men” try to keep the provinces down, to prevent their general rising for Paris, by a wall of lies, as they kept out the news from the provinces in Paris during the Prussian siege. The provinces are only allowed to look at Paris through the Versailles camera obscura (distorting glass). (Les mensonges et les calomnies des journaux de Versailles parviennent seuls aux départements et y font loi.) [(Only the lies and slanders of the Versailles journals reach the departments and have any validity there.)] Pillages and murders of [read by] 20,000 ticket-of-leave men dishonour the capital.

“La Ligue se donne pour premier devoir de faire la lumière et de rétablir les relations normales entre la province and Paris.”[143] [“The League considers its first duty to clarify the facts and restore the normal relations between the provinces and Paris.”]

As they were, when besieged in Paris, thus they are now in besieging it in their turn.

Le mensonge comme par le passé est leur arme favorite. Ils suppriment, saisissent les journaux de la capitale, interceptent les communications, sift the letters, de telle sorte que la province est réduite aux nouvelles qu’il plaît aux Jules Favre, Picard et Cons. de lui donner, sans qu’il soit possible de vérifier l’exactitude de leur dire.” [“As before, lying is their favourite weapon. They suppress and seize the capital’s newspapers, intercept communications, sift the letters, so that the provinces can only get the news which Jules Favre, Picard and company are pleased to give, and there is no way to verify the truth of what they say.”]

Thiers’ bulletins, Picard’s circulaires, Dufaure’s. ... The placards in the communes. The felon press of Versailles and the Germans. The petit moniteur.[144 ]The reintroduction of passports for travelling from one place to another. An army of mouchards spread in every direction. Arrests (in Rouen, etc., under Prussian authority), etc. Les milliers de commissaires de police répandus dans les environs de Paris ont reçu du préfet-gendarme Valentin l’ordre de saisir tous les journaux, à quelque nuance qu’ils appartiennent, qui s’impriment dans la ville insurgée, et de les brûler en place publique comme au meilleur temps de la Ste. Inquisition. [The thousands of police superintendents scattering round Paris received an order from the prefect-gendarme Valentin to seize all newspapers, whatever their shade, printed in this insurgent city and to burn them in public as was done at the height of the Holy Inquisition.]

Thiers’ government first appealed to the provinces [m] to form battalions of National Guards and send them to Versailles against Paris. The Province, as the Journal de Limoges [145] says, showed its discontent by refusing the bataillons of volontaires [volunteers] which were asked from it by Thiers and his Ruraux. The few Breton idiots, fighting under a white flag, every one of them wearing on his breast a Jesus heart in white cloth and shouting “Vive le roi!” are the only “provincial” army gathered round Thiers.

The elections. Vengeur, 6 May.[146]

M. Dufaure’s press law (8 April ). Confessedly directed against the “excesses” of the provincial press.

Then the numerous arrestations in the Province. It is placed under the Laws of Suspects.[147]

Blocus intellectuel et policier de la province. [Intellectual and police blockade of the provinces.]

April 23, Havre : The municipal council has despatched three of its members to Paris and Versailles with instructions to offer mediation, with the view of terminating the civil war on the basis of the maintenance of the Republic, and the granting of municipal franchises to the whole of France. ... 23 April, delegates from Lyons received by Picard and Thiers – “Guerre a tout prix" deren Antwort. [“War at any price,” was their answer.]

Adresse des délégués de Lon présentée a l’Assemblée par Greppo[148] [le] 24 avril. [Petition of the Lyons delegates presented to the Assembly by Greppo on April 24.]

The municipalities of the provincial towns committed the great impudence to send their deputations to Versailles in order to call upon them to grant what [was] demanded by Paris; not one commune of France has sent an address approving of the acts of Thiers and the Rurals; the provincial papers, like these municipal councils, as Dufaure complains in his circular against conciliation to the procureur général,

“mettent sur la même ligne l’Assemblée issue du suffrage universel et la prétendue commune de Paris, reprochent à la première de n’avoir pas accordé à Paris ses droits municipaux, etc.” [“put the Assembly born of universal suffrage on the same footing with the pretender Paris Commune, reproach the former with not having accorded Paris its municipal rights, etc.”]

and what is worse, these municipal councils, for instance, that of Auch,

“unanimement lui demandent de proposer immédiatement un armistice avec Paris [unanimously demand of it to propose immediately an armistice with Paris ] and that the Assembly chosen on the 8th of February, dissolves itself because its mandate had expired.” (Dufaure, [à ] l’Assemblée de Versailles, 26 April.)

It ought to be remembered that these were the old municipal councils,[149] not those elected on 30th April. Their delegations so numerous, that Thiers decided no longer to receive them personally but address them to a ministerial subaltern.

Lastly the elections of 30 April, the final judgment of the Assembly and the electoral surprise from which it had sprung. If then the provinces have till now only made a passive resistance against Versailles without rising for Paris, [it is] to be explained by the strongholds the old authorities hold here still, the trance in which the Empire merged and the war maintained the Province. It is evident that it is only the Versailles army, government and [the] Chinese wall of lies, that stand between Paris and the provinces. If that wall falls, they will unite with it.

It is most characteristic, that the same men (Thiers et Co.) who in May 1850 abolished by a parliamentary conspiracy (Bonaparte aided them, to get them into a snare, to have them at his mercy, and to proclaim himself after the coup d’état as the restorer of the universal suffrage against the Party of Order and its Assembly) the universal suffrage, because under the Republic it might still play them freaks, are now its fanatical adepts, make it their “legitimate” title against Paris, after it had received under Bonaparte such an organization as to be the mere plaything in the hand of the Executive, a mere machine of cheat, surprise, and forgery on the part of the Executive. (Congrès de la Ligue des villes ) (Rappel, 6 mai.)[150]

Trochu, Jules Favre et Thiers, Provincials

It may be asked how these superannuated parliamentary mountebanks and intriguers like Thiers, Favre, Dufaure, Garnier-Pagès (only strengthened by a few rascals of the same stamp) continue to reappear, after every revolution, on the surface, and usurp the executive power – these men that always exploit and betray the Revolution, shoot down the people that made it, and sequester the few liberal concessions conquered from former governments (which they opposed themselves)?

The thing is very simple. In the first instance, if very unpopular, like Thiers after the February Revolution, popular magnanimity spares them. After every successful rising of the people the cry of conciliation, raised by the implacable enemies of the people, is re-echoed by the people in the first moments of the enthusiasm at its own victory. After this first moment men like Thiers and Dufaure eclipse themselves as long as the people holds material power, and work in the dark. They reappear as soon as it is disarmed, and are acclaimed by the bourgeoisie as their chefs-de-file [file-leaders].

Or, like Favre, Garnier-Pagès, Jules Simon, etc. (recruited by a few younger ones of similar stamp) and Thiers himself after the 4th of September, [they] were the “respectable” Republican opposition under Louis Philippe; afterwards the parliamentary opposition under L. Bonaparte. The reactionary régimes they have themselves initiated when raised to power by the Revolution, secure for them the ranks of the opposition, deporting, killing, exiling the true revolutionists. The people forget their past, the middle class look upon them as their men, their infamous past is forgotten, and thus they reappear to recommence their treason and their work of infamy.

Night of 1 to 2 May : the village of Clamart had been in the hands of the military, the railway station in that [read those] of the insurgents (this station dominates the Fort of Issy). By a surprise (their patrouilles [patrols] being let in by a soldier on guard, the watchword having been betrayed to them) the 23 Bataillon [n] of Chasseurs got in, surprised the garrison, most of them sleeping in their beds, made only 60 prisoners, bayoneted 300 of the insurgents. Dazu [In addition,] line soldiers [were] afterwards shot off-hand. Thiers in his circular to the Prefects, civil and military authorities of 2 May has the impudence to say:

“It (the Commune) arrests generals (Cluseret!) only to shoot them, and institutes a committee of public safety which is utterly unworthy!”

Troops under General Lacretelle took the redoubt of Moulin-Saquet situated betwixt Fort Issy and Montrouge, by a coup de main. The garrison was surprised by treachery on the part of the commandant Gallien, who had sold the password to the Versailles troops. 150 of the Federals bayoneted and over 300 of them made prisoners. M. Thiers, says the Times correspondent, was weak when he ought to have been firm (the coward is always weak as long as he has to apprehend danger for himself ), and firm when everything was to be gained by some concessions. (The rascal is always firm, when the employment of material force bleeds France, gives great airs to himself, but when he, personally, is safe. This is his whole cleverness. Like Anthony, Thiers is an “honest man.”)

Thiers ’ bulletin über [on] Moulin-Saquet (4 mai ):

Délivrance de Paris des affreux tyrans qui l’oppriment,” (“les Versaillais étaient déguisés en gardes nationaux,”) (“le plus grand nombre des fédérés dormaient et ont été frappés ou saisis dans leur sommeil.”) [“Deliverance of Paris from the dreadful tyrants who oppress it,” (“Versailles men disguised as National Guards,”) (“Most of the Communards were asleep and were killed or captured in their sleep.”)]

Picard :

Notre artillerie ne bombarde pas: elle canonne, il est vrai.” (Moniteur des communes, journal de Picard.) [“Our artillery does not bombard: it’s true it shells.” (Commune Monitor, Picard’s paper.)]

“Blanqui, enseveli mourant dans un cachot, Flourens, haché par les gendarmes, Duval, fusillé par Vinoy, les ont tenus dans leurs mains au 31 octobre et [qu’] ils [ne] leur ont rien faits.” [“Blanqui, shut up dying in a prison cell, Flourens, hacked to pieces by the gendarmes, and Duval, shot by Vinoy, held these people in their hands on October 31, and nothing was done to them.”]

The Commune

1. Measures for the Working Class

Nightwork of journeymen bakers suppressed (20 April ).

The private jurisdiction, usurped by the seigneurs of mills, etc. (manufacturers), (employers, great and small), being at the same time judges, executors, gainers and parties in the disputes, that right of a penal code of their own, enabling them to rob the labourers’ wages by fines and deductions as punishment, etc., abolished in public and private work shops; penalties impended upon the employers in case they infringe upon this law; fines and deductions extorted since the 18th of March to be paid back to the workmen (27 April ). Sale of pawned articles at pawnshops suspended (29 March ).

A great lot of workshops and manufactories have been closed in Paris, their owners having run away. This is the old method of the industrial capitalists, who consider themselves entitled, “by the spontaneous action of the laws of political economy,” not only to make a profit out of labour, as the condition of labour, but to stop it altogether and throw the workmen on the pavement – to produce an artificial crisis whenever a victorious revolution threatens the “order” of their “system.” The Commune, very wisely, has appointed a Communal commission which, in co-operation with delegates chosen by the different trades, will inquire into the ways of handing over the deserted workshops and manufactories to co-operative workmen societies with some indemnity for the capitalist deserters (16 April ); (this commission has also to make statistics of the abandoned workshops).

Commune has given order to the mairies to make no distinction between the femmes called illegitimate, the mothers and widows of National Guards, as to the indemnity of 75 centimes.

The public prostitutes till now kept for the “men of Order” at Paris, but for their “safety” kept in personal servitude under the arbitrary rule of the police; the Commune has liberated the prostitutes from this degrading slavery, but swept away the soil upon which, and the men by whom, prostitution flourishes. The higher prostitutes – the cocottes – were of course, under the rule of Order, not the slaves, but the masters of the police and the governors.

There was, of course, no time to reorganize public instruction (education); but by removing the religious and clerical element from it, the Commune has taken the initiative in the mental emancipation of the people. It has appointed a commission for the organization de l’enseignement [of education] (primary (elementary) and professional) (28 April ). It has ordered that all tools of instruction, like books, maps, paper, etc., be given gratuitously by the schoolmasters, who receive them in their turn from the respective mairies to which they belong. No schoolmaster is allowed on any pretext to ask payment from his pupils for these instruments of instruction (28 April ).

Pawnshops : toute reconnaissance du mont-de-piété antérieure au 25 avril 1871, portant engagement d’effets d’habillement, de meubles, de linge, de livres, d’objets de literie

et d’instruments de travail nicht über 20 frs. pourra être dégagée gratuitement à partir du 12 mai courant (7 May ). [Pawnshops : all pawn-tickets dated before April 25, 1871, for articles of clothing, furniture, linen, books, bedding and work tools worth no more than 20 francs may, beginning from May 12 of this year, be redeemed without a charge (7 May ).]

2. Measures for [the] Working Class, but mostly for the Middle Classes

House rent for the last 3 quarters up to April wholly remitted : Whoever had paid any of these 3 quarters shall have right of setting that sum against future payments. The same law to prevail in the case of furnished apartments. No notice to quit coming from landlords to be valid for 3 months to come (29 March ).

Échéances (Payment of bills of exchange due) (expiration of bills ): all prosecutions for bills of exchange, fallen due, suspended (12 April ).

All commercial papers of that sort to be repaid in (repayments spread over) two years, to begin next July 15, the debt being not chargeable with interest. The total amount of the sums due divided in 8 equal coupures [portions ] payable by trimester (first trimester to be dated from July 15). Only on these partial payments when fallen due judicial prosecutions permitted (16 April ). The Dufaure laws on leases and bills of exchange entailed the bankruptcy of the majority of the respectable shopkeepers of Paris.

The notaries, huissiers, auctioneers, bumbailiffs and other judicial officers making till now a fortune of their functions, transformed into agents of the Commune receiving from it fixed salaries like other workmen.

As the professors of the Ecole de médecine have run away, the Commune appointed a commission for the foundation of free universities no longer State parasites; given to the students that had passed their examination, means to practise independent of Doctor titles (titles to be conferred by the faculty).

Since the judges of the Civil Tribunal of the Seine, like the other magistrates always ready to function under any class government, had run away, Commune appointed an advocate to do the most urgent business until the reorganization of tribunals on the basis of general suffrage (26 April ).

3. General Measures

Conscription abolished. In the present war every able man (National Guard) must serve. This measure excellent to get rid of all traitors and cowards hiding in Paris. (29 March ).

Games of hazard suppressed (2 April ).

Church separated from State; the religious budget suppressed; all clerical estates declared national properties (3 April ). The Commune, having made inquiries consequent upon private information, found that beside the old guillotine the “government of order ” had commanded the construction of a new guillotine (more expeditious and portable) and paid in advance. The Commune ordered both the old and the new guillotines to be burned publicly on the 6th of April. The Versailles journals, re-echoed by the press of Order all over the world, narrated the Paris people, as a demonstration against the bloodthirstiness of the Communards, had burnt these guillotines! (6 April.) All political prisoners were set free at once after the Revolution of the 18th of March. But the Commune knew that under the régime of L. Bonaparte and his worthy successor the Government of Defence, many people

were simply incarcerated on no charge whatever as political suspects. Consequently it charged [one] of its members – Protot – to make inquiries. By him 150 people [were] set free who, being arrested since six months, had not yet under gone any judicial examination; many of them, already arrested under Bonaparte, had been for a year in prison without any charge or judicial examination (9 April ). This fact, so characteristic of the Government of Defence, enraged them. They asserted the Commune had liberated all felons. But who liberated convicted felons? The forger Jules Favre. Hardly got into power, he hastened to liberate Pic and Taillefer, condemn ed for theft and forgery in the affair of the Etendard. One of these men, Taillefer, daring to return to Paris, has been reinstated in his convenient abode. But this is not all. The Versailles Government has delivered, in the Maisons centrales [prisons] all over France, convicted thiefs on the condition of entering M. Thiers’ army.

Decree on the demolition of the column of the Place Vendôme as “a monument of barbarism, symbol of brute force and false glory, an affirmation of militarism, a negation of international right” (12 April ).[151]

Election of Frankel (German member of the International) to the Commune declared valid: “considering that the flag of the Commune is that of the Universal Republic and that foreigners can have a seat in it” (4 April ) ;[152] Frankel afterwards chosen a member of the Executive of the Commune (21 April ).

The Journal officiel has inaugurated the publicity of the sittings of the Commune (15 April ).

Decree of Paschal Grousset for the protection of foreigners against requisitions. Never a government in Paris so courteous to foreigners (27 April ).

The Commune has abolished political and professional oaths (27 April ).

Destruction of the monument dit “Chapelle expiatoire de Louis XVI" rue d’Anjou-St. Thérèse (oeuvre de la Chambre introuvable de 1816) (7 mai ). [Destruction of the monument called “the Chapel of Atonement of Louis XVI,” Rue d’Anjou St. Therese[o] (work of the Chambre introuvable of 1816) (May 7 )]

4. Measures of Public Safety

Disarmament of the “loyal” National Guards (30 March ); Commune declares incompatibility between seats in its ranks and at Versailles (29 March ).

Decree of Reprisals. Never executed. Only the fellows arrested, Archbishop of Paris and curé of the Madeleine ; whole staff of the college of Jesuits; incumbents of all the principal churches; part of these fellows arrested as hostages, part as conspirators with Versailles, part because they tried to save church property from the clutches of the Commune (6 April ).

“The Monarchists wage war like savages; they shoot prisoners, they murder the wounded, they fire on ambulances, troops raise the butt-end of their rifles in the air and then fire traitorously.” (Proclamation of [the ] Commune.)[153]

In regard to these decrees of reprisals to be remarked:

In the first instance, men of all layers of the Paris society – after the exodus of the capitalists, the idlers and the parasites – have interposed at Versailles to stop the civil war – except the Paris clergy. The Archbishop and the cure de [la] Madeleine have only written to Thiers because averse to “the effusion of their own blood ,” in their quality as hostages.

Secondly: After the publication by the Commune of the decree of reprisals, the taking of hostages, etc., the atrocious treatment of the Versailles prisoners by Piétri’s lambs and Valentin’s gendarmes did not cease, but the assassination of the captive Paris soldiers and National Guards was stopped to set in with renewed fury so soon as the Versailles Government had convinced itself that the Commune was too humane to execute its decree of the 6th of April. Then the assassination set in again wholesale. The Commune did not execute one hostage, not one prisoner, not even some gendarme officers who under the disguise of National Guards had entered Paris as spies and were simply arrested.

Surprise of the Redoubt of Clamart (2 May). Railway station in the hands of the Parisians, massacre, bayoneting, the 22nd Battalion of Chasseurs (Galliffet? ) shoots line soldiers off-hand without any formality (2 May ). Redoubt of Moulin-Saquet, situated between Fort Issy and Montrouge, surprised in the night by treachery on the part of the commandant Gallien who had sold the password to the Versailles troops. Federals surprised in their beds, asleep, massacred, great part of them. (4 May? )

25 April. 4 National Guards (this constated by Commissaries sent to Bicètre where the only survivor of the 4 men, à [at] Belle-Epine, près [near] Villejuif. His name Scheffer ). These men being surrounded by horse Chasseurs, on their order, unable to resist, surrendered, disarmed, nothing done to them by the soldiers. But then arrives the captain of the Chasseurs, and shoots them down one after the other with his revolver. Left there on the soil. Scheffer, fearfully wounded, survived.

13 soldiers of the line made prisoners at the railway station of Clamart were shot off-hand, and all prisoners wearing the line uniforms who arrive in Versailles will be executed whenever doubts about their identity are cleared up. (Liberté at Versailles.) Alexander Dumas, fils, now at Versailles, tells that a young man exercising the functions, if not bearing the title, of a general, was shot, by order of a Bonapartist general, after having marched in custody a few hundred yards along a road. Parisian troops and National Guards surrounded in houses by gendarmes, [who] inundate the house with petroleum and then fire it. Some cadavers of National Guards (calcinés ) [(calcined)] have been transported by the ambulance of the press of the Ternes. (Mot d’ordre, 20 April.) “They have no right to ambulances.”

Thiers, Blanqui, Archbishop, General Chanzy. (Thiers said his Bonapartists should have liked to be shot.)

Visitation in Houses, etc. Casimir Bouis, nommé président d’une commission d’enquête [Casimir Bouis, appointed president of a commission of inquiry] in[to] the doings of the dictators of 4 September (14 April ). Private houses invaded and papers seized, but no furniture has been carried away and sold by auction, (papers der fellows vom 4. September, des Thiers etc. und bonapartistischer Polizeileute), f.i., in Hotel of Lafont, inspecteur général des Prisons [(the papers of the fellows of September 4, Thiers etc. and Bonapartist police), for instance, in the Mansion of Lafont, Inspector General of Prisons] (11 April ). The houses (properties) of Thiers et Co. as traitors trailed,[p] but only the papers confiscated.

Arrest among themselves : This shocks the bourgeois who wants political idols and “great men” immensely.

“It is provoking (Daily News, 6 May. Paris correspondence ), however, and discouraging, that whatever [may] be the authority possessed by the Commune, it is continually changing hands, and we know not to-day with whom the power may rest to-morrow. ... In all these eternal changes one sees more than ever the want of a presiding hand. The Commune is a concourse of equivalent atoms, each one jealous of another and none endowed with supreme control over the others.

Journal suppression!

5. Financial Measures

See Daily News, 6 May.

Principal outlay for war!

Only 8928 frs. from saisies [seizures] – all taken from ecclesiastics, etc.

Vengeur, 6 May.

La Commune

The Rise of the Commune and the Central Committee

The Commune had been proclaimed at Lyons, then Marseilles, Toulouse, etc., after Sedan. Gambetta tried his best to break it down.[154]

The different movements at Paris in the beginning of October aimed at the establishment of the Commune, as a measure of defence against the foreign invasion, as the realization of the rise of the 4th of September. Its establishment by the movement of the 31 October failed only because Blanqui, Flourens and the other then leaders of the movement believed in the gens de paroles [men of their word] who had given their parole d’honneur [word of honour] to abdicate and make room for a Commune freely elected by all the arrondissements of Paris. It failed because they saved the lives of those men so eager for the assassination of their saviours. Having allowed Trochu and Ferry to escape, they surprised them by Trochu’s Bretons.[q] It ought to be remembered that on the 31st of October the self-imposed “Government of Defence” existed only on sufferance. It had not yet gone even through the farce of a plebiscite.[155] Under the circumstances, there was of course nothing easier than to misrepresent the character of the movement, to decry it as a treasonable conspiracy with the Prussians, to improve the dismissal of the only man[r] amongst them who would not break his word, for strengthening Trochu’s Bretons, who were for the Government of the Defence what the Corsican spadassins [desperadoes] had been for L. Bonaparte, by the appointment of Clément Thomas as commander-in-chief of the National Guard; there was nothing easier for these old panic-mongers [than] – appealing to the cowardly fears of the middle class [in the presence of the] working bataillons who had taken the initiative, throwing distrust and dissension amongst the working bataillons themselves, by an appeal to patriotism – to create one of those days of blind reaction and disastrous misunderstandings by which they have always contrived to maintain their usurped power. As they had slipt into power the 4th of September by a surprise, they were now enabled to give it a mock sanction by a plebiscite of the true Bonapartist pattern during days of reactionary terror.

The victorious establishment at Paris of the Commune in the beginning of November 1870 (then already initiated in the great cities of the [country] and sure to be imitated all over France) would not only have taken the defence out of the hands of traitors, and imprinted its enthusiasm [on it] as the present heroic war of Paris shows, it would have altogether changed the character of the war. It would have become the war of Republican France, hissing[s] the flag of the Social Revolution of the 19th century, against Prussia, the banner bearer of the conquest and counter-revolution. Instead of sending the hackneyed old intriguer a-begging at all courts of Europe, it would have electrified the producing masses in the old and the new world. By the escamotage of the Commune on October 31, the Jules Favre et Co. secured the capitulation of France to Prussia and initiated the present civil war.

But this much is shown: The Revolution of the 4th September was not only the reinstalment of the Republic because the place of the usurper had become vacant by his capitulation at Sedan – it not only conquered that Republic from the foreign invader by the prolonged resistance of Paris although fighting under the leadership of its enemies – that Revolution was working its way in[to] the heart of the working classes. The Republic had ceased to be a name for a thing of the past. It was impregnated with a new world. Its real tendency, veiled from the eye of the world through the deceptions, the lies and the vulgarizing of a pack of intriguing lawyers and word fencers, came again and again to the surface in the spasmodic movements of the Paris working classes (and the South of France) whose watchword was always the same, the Commune !

The Commune – the positive form of the Revolution against the Empire and the conditions of its existence – first essayed in the cities of Southern France, again and again proclaimed in spasmodic movements during the siege of Paris and escamotés [conjured away] by the sleights of hands of the Government of Defence and the Bretons of Trochu, the “plan of capitulation” hero – was at last victoriously installed on the 26th March, but it had not suddenly sprung into life on that day. It was the unchangeable goal of the workmen’s revolution. The capitulation of Paris, the open conspiracy against the Republic at Bordeaux, the coup d’état initiated by the nocturnal attack on Montmartre, rallied around it all the living elements of Paris, no longer allowing the defence men to limit it to the insulated efforts of the most conscious and revolutionary portions of the Paris working class.

The Government of Defence was only undergone as a pis aller [makeshift] of the first surprise, a necessity of the war. The true answer of the Paris people to the Second Empire, the Empire of Lies, was the Commune.

Thus also the rising of all living Paris – with the exception of the pillars of Bonapartism and its official opposition, the great capitalists, the financial jobbers, the sharpers, the loungers, and the old State parasites – against the Government of Defence does not date from the 18th of March, although it conquered on that day its first victory against the conspiration [conspiracy]; it dates from the 31 January[t], from the very day of the capitulation. The National Guard – that is all the armed manhood of Paris – organized itself and really ruled Paris from that day, independently of the usurpatory government of the capitulards installed by the grace of Bismarck. It refused to deliver its arms and artillery, which was its property and only left them in the capitulation[?] because its property.[u] It was not the magnanimity of Jules Favre that saved these arms from Bismarck, but the readiness of armed Paris to fight for its arms against Jules Favre and Bismarck. In view of the foreign invader and the peace negotiations Paris would not complicate the situation. It was afraid of civil war. It observed a mere attitude of defence and content with the de facto self-rule of Paris. But it organized itself quietly and steadfastly for resistance. (Even in the terms of the capitulation itself the capitulards had unmistakably shown their tendency to make the surrender to Prussia at the same time the means of their domination over Paris. The only concession of Prussia they insisted upon, a concession, which Bismarck would have imposed upon them as a condition, if they had not begged it as a concession – was 40,000 soldiers for subduing Paris. In the face of its 300,000 National Guards – more than sufficient for securing Paris from an attempt by the foreign enemy, and for the defence of its internal order – the demand of these 40,000 men – a thing which was besides avowed – could have no other purpose.) On its existing military organization it grafted a political federation according to a very simple plan. It was the alliance of all the Guard nationale, put in connection the one with the other by the delegates of each company, appointing in their turn the delegates of the bataillons, who in their turn appointed general delegates, generals of legions, who were to represent an arrondissement and to co-operate with the delegates of the 19 other arrondissements. Those 20 delegates, chosen by the majority of the bataillons of the National Guard, composed the Central Committee, which on the 18th March initiated the greatest revolution of this century and still holds its post in the present glorious struggle of Paris. Never were elections more sifted, never delegates fuller representing the masses from which they had sprung. To the objection of the outsiders that they were unknown – in point of fact, that they only were known to the working classes, but no old stagers, no men illustrious by the infamies of their past, by their chase after pelf and place – they proudly answered: “So were the 12 Apostles,” and they answered by their deeds.

The Character of the Commune

The centralized State machinery which, with its ubiquitous and complicated military, bureaucratic, clerical and judiciary organs, entoils (inmeshes) the living civil society like a boa constrictor, was first forged in the days of absolute monarchy as a weapon of nascent modern society in its struggle of emancipation from feudalism. The seignorial privileges of the medieval lords and cities and clergy were transformed into the attributes of a unitary State power, displacing the feudal dignitaries by salaried State functionaries, transferring the arms from medieval retainers of the landlords and the corporations of townish citizens to a standing army, substituting for the checkered (party-coloured) anarchy of conflicting medieval powers the regulated plan of a State power, with a systematic and hierarchic division of labour. The first French Revolution with its task to found national unity (to create a nation) had to break down all local, territorial, townish and provincial independence. It was, therefore, forced to develop, what absolute monarchy had commenced, the centralization and organization of State power, and to expand the circumference and the attributes of the State power, the number of its tools, its independence, and its supernaturalist sway of real society, which in fact took the place of the medieval supernaturalist heaven, with its saints. Every minor solitary interest engendered by the relations of social groups was separated from society itself, fixed and made independent of it and opposed to it in the form of State interest, administered by State priests with exactly determined hierarchical functions.

This parasitical [excrescence upon] civil society, pretending to be its ideal counterpart, grew to its full development under the sway of the first Bonaparte. The Restoration and the Monarchy of July added nothing to it but a greater division of labour, growing at the same measure in which the division of labour within civil society created new groups of interest, and, therefore, new material for State action. In their struggle against the Revolution of 1848, the Parliamentary Republic of France and the governments of all continental Europe, were forced to strengthen, with their measures of repression against the popular movement, the means of action and the centralization of that governmental power. All revolutions thus only perfected the State machinery instead of throwing off this deadening incubus. The fractions and parties of the ruling classes which alternately struggled for supremacy, considered the occupancy (control) (seizure) and the direction of this immense machinery of government as the main booty of the victor. It centred in the creation of immense standing armies, a host of State vermin, and huge national debts. During the time of the absolute monarchy it was a means of the struggle of modern society against feudalism, crowned by the French Revolution, and under the first Bonaparte it served not only to subjugate the Revolution and annihilate all popular liberties, it was an instrument of the French Revolution to strike abroad, to create for France on the Continent instead of feudal monarchies more or less States after the image of France. Under the Restoration and the Monarchy of July it became not only [a] means of the forcible class domination of the middle class, and [read but] a means of adding to the direct economic exploitation a second exploitation of the people by assuring to their [i.e., the middle class] families all the rich places of the State household. During the time of the revolutionary struggle of 1848 at last it served as a means of annihilating that Revolution and all aspirations at the emancipation of the popular masses. But the State parasite received only its last development during the Second Empire. The governmental power with its standing army, its all directing bureaucracy, its stultifying clergy and its servile tribunal hierarchy had grown so independent of society itself, that a grotesquely mediocre adventurer with a hungry band of desperadoes behind him sufficed to wield it. It did no longer want the pretext of an armed Coalition of old Europe against the modern world founded by the Revolution of 1789. It appeared no longer as a means of class domination, subordinate to its parliamentary ministry or legislature. Humbling under its sway even the interests of the ruling classes, whose parliamentary show work it supplanted by self-elected Corps législatifs and self-paid senates, sanctioned in its absolute sway by universal suffrage, the acknowledged necessity for keeping up “order,” that is the rule of the landowner and the capitalist over the producer, cloaking under the tatters of a masquerade of the past the orgies of the corruption of the present and the victory of the most parasite fraction, the financial swindler, the debauchery of all the reactionary influences of the past let loose – a pandemonium of infamies – the State power had received its last and supreme expression in the Second Empire. Apparently the final victory of this governmental power over society, it was in fact the orgy of all the corrupt elements of that society. To the eye of the uninitiated it appeared only as the victory of the Executive over the Legislative, of [read as] the final defeat of the form of class rule pretending to be the autocracy of society [by] its form pretending to be a superior power to society. But in fact it was only the last degraded and the only possible form of that class ruling, as humiliating to those classes themselves as to the working classes which they kept fettered by it.

The 4th of September was only the revindication of the République against the grotesque adventurer that had assassinated it. The true antithesis to the Empire itself – that is, to the State power, the centralized executive, of which the Second Empire was only the exhausting formula – was the Commune. This State power forms in fact the creation of the middle class, first [as] a means to break down feudalism, then [as] a means to crush the emancipatory aspirations of the producers, of the working class. All reactions and all revolutions had only served to transfer that organized power – that organized force of the slavery of labour – from one hand to the other, from one fraction of the ruling classes to the other. It had served the ruling classes as a means of subjugation and of pelf. It had sucked new forces from every new change. It had served as the instrument of breaking down every popular rise[v] and served it to crush the working classes after they had fought and been ordered to secure its transfer from one part of its oppressors to the others. This was, therefore, a revolution not against this or that, legitimate, constitutional, republican or imperialist form of State power. It was a revolution against the State itself, of this supernaturalist abortion of society, a resumption by the people for the people of its own social life. It was not a revolution to transfer it from one fraction of the ruling classes to the other, but a revolution to break down this horrid machinery of class domination itself. It was not one of those dwarfish struggles between the executive and the parliamentary forms of class domination, but a revolt against both these forms, integrating each other, and of which the parliamentary form was only the deceitful bywork of the Executive. The Second Empire was the final form of this State usurpation. The Commune was its definite negation, and, therefore, the initiation of the Social Revolution of the 19th century. Whatever therefore its fate at Paris, it will make le tour du monde [a trip round the world]. It was at once acclaimed by the working class of Europe and the United States as the magic word of delivery. The glories and the antediluvian deeds of the Prussian conqueror seemed only hallucinations of a bygone past.

It was only the working class that could formulate by the word “Commune” and initiate by the fighting Commune of Paris – this new aspiration. Even the last expression of that State power in the Second Empire, although humbling for the pride of the ruling classes and casting to the winds their parliamentary pretensions of self-government, had been only the last possible form of their class rule. While politically dispossessing them, it was the orgy under which all the economic and social infamies of their régime got full sway. The middling bourgeoisie and the petty middle class were by their economical conditions of life excluded from initiating a new revolution and induced to follow in the track of the ruling classes or [to become] the followers of the working class. The peasants were the passive economical basis of the Second Empire, of that last triumph of a State separate of and independent from society. Only the proletarians, fired by a new social task to accomplish by them for all society, to do away with all classes and class rule, were the men to break the instrument of that class rule – the State, the centralized and organized governmental power usurping to be the master instead of the servant of society. In the active struggle against them by the ruling classes, supported by the passive adherence of the peasantry, the Second Empire, the last crowning at the same time as the most signal prostitution of the State – which had taken the place of the medieval Church – had been engendered. It had sprung into life against them. By them it was broken, not as a peculiar form of governmental (centralized) power, but as its most powerful expression, elaborated into seeming independence from society, and, therefore, also its most prostitute reality, covered by infamy from top to bottom, having centred in absolute corruption at home and absolute powerlessness abroad.

But this one form of class rule had only broken down to make the Executive, the governmental State machinery the great and single object of attack to the revolution.

Parliamentarism in France had come to an end. Its last term and fullest sway was the Parliamentary Republic from May 1848 to the coup d’état. The Empire that killed it, was its own creation. Under the Empire with its Corps législatif and its Senate – in this form it has been reproduced in the military monarchies of Prussia and Austria – it had been a mere farce, a mere bywork of despotism in its crudest form. Parliamentarism then was dead in France and the workmen’s revolution certainly was not to awaken it from this death.

The Commune – the reabsorption of the State power by society as its own living forces instead of as forces controlling and subduing it, by the popular masses themselves, forming their own force instead of the organized force of their suppression – the political form of their social emancipation, instead of the artificial force (appropriated by their oppressors) (their own force opposed to and organized against them) of society wielded for their oppression by their enemies. The form was simple like all great things. The reaction of former revolutions – the time wanted for all historical developments, and in the past always lost in all revolutions, in the very days of popular triumph, whenever it had rendered its victorious arms, to be turned against itself – first by displacing the army by the National Guard.[w]

“For the first time since the 4th September the Republic is liberated from the government of its enemies. ... [It gives] to the city a national militia that defends the citizens against the power (the government) instead of a permanent army that defends the government against the citizens.” (Proclamation of Central Committee of 22 March.)[156]

(The people had only to organize this militia on a national scale, to have done away with the standing armies; [this is] the first economical condition sine qua [non ] for all social improvements, discarding at once this source of taxes and State debt, and this constant danger to government usurpation of class rule – of the regular class rule or an adventurer pretending to save all classes); at the same time the safest guarantee against foreign aggression and making in fact the costly military apparatus impossible in all other States; the emancipation of the peasant from the blood-tax and [from being] the most fertile source of all State taxation and State debts. Here [is] already the point in which the Commune is a luck for the peasant, the first word of his emancipation. With the “independent police” abolished, and its ruffians supplanted by servants of the Commune. The general suffrage, till now abused either for the parliamentary sanction of the Holy State Power, or a play[x] in the hands of the ruling classes, only employed by the people to sanction (choose the instruments of) parliamentary class rule once in many years, [is] adapted to its real purposes, to choose by the Communes their own functionaries of administration and initiation. [Dispelled is] the delusion as if administration and political governing were mysteries, transcendent functions only to be trusted to the hands of a trained caste – State parasites, richly-paid sycophants and sinecurists in the higher posts, absorbing the intelligence of the masses and turning them against themselves in the lower places of the hierarchy. Doing away with the State hierarchy altogether and replacing the haughteous masters of the people into [read by] always removable servants, a mock responsibility by a real responsibility, as they act continuously under public supervision. Paid like skilled workmen, 12 pounds a month, the highest salary not exceeding £240 a year, a salary somewhat more than 1/5, according to a great scientific authority, Professor Huxley, to satisfy a clerk for the Metropolitan School Board. The whole sham of State mysteries and State pretensions was done away [with] by a Commune, mostly consisting of simple working men, organizing the defence of Paris, carrying war against the praetorians of Bonaparte, securing the approvisionnement [supply] of that immense town, filling all the posts hitherto divided between government, police, and prefecture, doing their work publicly, simply, under the most difficult and complicated circumstances, and doing it, as Milton did his Paradise Lost, for a few pounds, acting in bright daylight, with no pretensions to infallibility, not hiding itself behind circumlocution offices, not ashamed to confess blunders by correcting them. Making in one order the public functions – military, administrative, political – real workmen’s functions, instead of the hidden attributes of a trained caste; (keeping order in the turbulence of civil war and revolution) (initiating measures of general regeneration). Whatever the merits of the single measures of the Commune, its greatest measure was its own organization, extemporized with the foreign enemy at one door, and the class enemy at the other, proving by its life its vitality, confirming its thesis by its action. Its appearance was a victory over the victors of France. Captive Paris resumed by one bold spring the leadership of Europe, not depending on brute force, but by taking the lead of the social movement, by giving body to the aspirations of the working class of all countries.

With all the great towns organized into Communes after the model of Paris, no government could repress the movement by the surprise of sudden reaction. Even by this preparatory step the time of incubation, the guarantee of the movement, came. All France [would be] organized into self-working and self-governing Communes, the standing army replaced by the popular militias, the army of State parasites removed, the clerical hierarchy displaced by the schoolmaster, the State judge transformed into Communal organs, the suffrage for the national representation not a matter of sleight of hand for an all-powerful government but the deliberate expression of organized Communes, the State functions reduced to a few functions for general national purposes.

Such is the Commune – the political form of the social emancipation, of the liberation of labour from the usurpations (slaveholding) of the monopolists of the means of labour, created by the labourers themselves or forming the gift of nature. As the State machinery and parliamentarism are not the real life of the ruling classes, but only the organized general organs of their dominion, the political guarantees and forms and expressions of the old order of things, so the Commune is not the social movement of the working class and therefore of a general regeneration of mankind, but the organized means of action. The Commune does not [do] away with the class struggles, through which the working classes strive to [read for] the abolition of all classes and, therefore, of all classes [class rule] (because it does not represent a peculiar interest, it represents the liberation of “labour,” that is the fundamental and natural condition of individual and social life which only by usurpation, fraud, and artificial contrivances can be shifted from the few upon the many), but it affords the rational medium in which that class struggle can run through its different phases in the most rational and humane way. It could start violent reactions and as violent revolutions. It begins the emancipation of labour – its great goal – by doing away with the unproductive and mischievous work of the State parasites, by cutting away the springs which sacrifice an immense portion of the national produce to the feeding of the State monster on the one side, by doing, on the other, the real work of administration, local and national, for working men’s wages. It begins therefore with an immense saving, with economical reform as well as political transformation.

The Communal organization once firmly established on a national scale, the catastrophes it might still have to undergo, would be sporadic slaveholders’ insurrections, which, while for a moment interrupting the work of peaceful progress, would only accelerate the movement, by putting the sword into the hands of the Social Revolution.

The working class know that they have to pass through different phases of class struggle. They know that the superseding of the economical conditions of the slavery of labour by the conditions of free and associated labour can only be the progressive work of time (that economical transformation), that they require not only a change of distribution, but a new organization of production, or rather the delivery (setting free) of the social forms of production in present organized labour (engendered by present industry), of [read from] the trammels of slavery, of [read from] their present class character, and their harmonious national and international co-ordination. They know that this work of regeneration will be again and again relented[y] and impeded by the resistance of vested interests and class egotisms. They know that the present “spontaneous action of the natural laws of capital and landed property” can only be superseded by “the spontaneous action of the laws of the social economy of free and associated labour” by a long process of development of new conditions, as was the “spontaneous action of the economic laws of slavery” and the “spontaneous action of the economical laws of serfdom.” But they know at the same time that great strides may be [made] at once through the Communal form of political organization and that the time has come to begin that movement for themselves and mankind.


(War indemnity.) Even before the instalment of the Commune, the Central Committee had declared through its Journal officiel: “The greater part of the war indemnity should be paid by the authors of war. [157] This is the great “conspiracy against civilization” the men of Order are most afraid of. This [is] the most practical question. With the Commune victorious, the authors of the war will have to pay its indemnity; with Versailles victorious, the producing masses who have already paid in blood, ruin, and contribution, will have again to pay, and the financial dignitaries will even contrive to make a profit out of the transaction. The liquidation of the war costs is to be decided by the civil war. The Commune represents on this vital point not only the interests of the working class, the petty middle class, in fact, all the middle class with the exception of the bourgeoisie (the wealthy capitalists) (the rich landowners, and their State parasites). It represents above all the interest of the French peasantry. On them the greater part of the war taxes will be shifted, if Thiers and his “Ruraux ” are victorious. And people are silly enough to repeat the cry of the “Ruraux ” that they – the great landed proprietors – “represent the peasant,” who is of course, in the naivety of his soul, exceedingly anxious to pay for these good “landowners” the milliards of the war indemnity, who made him already pay the milliard of indemnity: the Revolution indemnity.[83]

The same men deliberately compromised the Republic of February by the additional 45 centimes tax[84] on the peasant, but this they did in the name of the Revolution, in the name of the “provisional government,” created by it. It is now in their own name that they wage a civil war against the Communal Republic to shift the war indemnity from their own shoulders upon those of the peasant! He will of course be delighted by it!

The Commune will abolish conscription, the Party of Order will fasten the blood-tax on the peasant. The Party of Order will fasten upon him the tax-collector for the payment of a parasitical and costly State machinery, the Commune will give him a cheap government. The Party of Order will continue [to] grind him down by the townish usurer, the Commune will free him of the incubus of the mortgages lasting upon his plot of land. The Commune will replace the parasitical judiciary body eating the heart of his income – the notary, the huissier, etc. – [by] Communal agents doing their work at workmen’s salaries, instead of enriching himself out of the peasant’s work. It will break down this whole judiciary cobweb which entangles the French peasant and gives abodes to the judiciary bench and maires of the bourgeois spiders that suck its blood! The Party of Order will keep him under the rule of the gendarme, the Commune will restore him to independent, social and political life! The Commune will enlighten him by the rule of the schoolmaster, the Party of Order force upon him the stultification by the rule of the priest! But the French peasant is above all a man of reckoning! He will find it exceedingly reasonable that the payment of the clergy will no longer [be] exacted from him by the tax-collector, but will be left to the “spontaneous action” of his religious instinct!

The French peasant had elected Louis Bonaparte President of the Republic, but the Party of Order (during the anonymous régime of the Republic under the assembly constituante and législative ) was the creator of the Empire! What the French peasant really wants, he commenced to show in 1849 and 1852 by opposing his maire to the government’s prefect, his schoolmaster to the government’s parson, himself to the government’s gendarme! The nucleus of the reactionary laws of the Party of Order in 1849 – and peculiarly in January and February 1850[85] – were specifically directed against the French peasantry! If the French peasant had made Louis Bonaparte President of the Republic because in his tradition all the benefits he had derived from the first Revolution were phantastically transferred on the first Napoleon, the armed risings of peasants in some departments of France and the gendarme hunting upon them after the coup d’état proved that that delusion was rapidly breaking down! The Empire was founded on the delusions artificially nourished into power and [on] traditional prejudices, the Commune would be founded on his living interests and his real wants.

The hatred of the French peasant is centring on the “Rurals,” the men of the Château, the men of the milliard of indemnity and the townish capitalist, masqueraded into [read as] a landed proprietor, whose encroachment upon him marched never more rapidly than under the Second Empire, partly fostered by artificial State means, partly naturally growing out of the very development of modern agriculture. The “Rurals” know that three months’ rule of the Republican Empire in France would be the signal of the rising of the peasantry and the agricultural proletariat against them. Hence their ferocious hatred of the Commune! What they fear even more than the emancipation of the townish proletariat is the emancipation of the peasants. The peasants would soon acclaim the townish proletariat as their own leaders and seniors. There exists of course in France as in most continental countries a deep antagonism between the townish and rural producers, between the industrial proletariat and the peasantry. The aspirations of the proletariat, the material basis of its movement is labour organized on a grand scale, although now despotically organized, and the means of production centralized, although now centralized in the hands of the monopolist, not only as a means of production, but as a means of the exploitation and enslavement of the producteur [producers]. What the proletariat has to do is to transform the present capitalist character of that organized labour and those centralized means of labour, to transform them from the means of class rule and class exploitation into forms of free associated labour and social means of production. On the other hand, the labour of the peasant is insulated and the means of production are parcelled, dispersed. On these economical differences rests superconstructed[z] a whole world of different social and political views. But this peasantry proprietorship has long since outgrown its normal phase, that is, the phase in which it was a reality, a mode of production and a form of property which responded to the economical wants of society and placed the rural producers themselves into normal conditions of life. It has entered its period of decay. On the one side a large prolétariat foncier (rural proletariat) has grown out of it, whose interests are identical with those of the townish wages labourers. The mode of production itself has become superannuated by the modern progress of agronomy. Lastly – the peasant proprietorship itself has become nominal, leaving to the peasant the delusion of proprietorship and expropriating him from the fruits of his own labour. The competition of the great farm producers, the blood-tax, the State tax, the usury of the townish mortgagee and the multitudinous pilfering of the judiciary system thrown around him, have degraded him to the position of a Hindoo ryot, while expropriation – even expropriation from his nominal proprietorship – and his degradation into a rural proletarian is an everyday fact. What separates the peasant from the proletarian is, therefore, no longer his real interest, but his delusive prejudice. If the Commune, as we have shown, is the only power that can give him immediate great loans even in its present economical conditions, it is the only form of government that can secure to him the transformation of his present economical conditions, rescue him from expropriation by the landlord on the one hand, save him from grinding, trudging[aa] and misery on the pretext of proprietorship on the other, that can convert his nominal proprietorship of the land into real proprietorship of the fruits of his labour, that can combine for him the profits of modern agronomy, dictated by social wants and every day now encroaching upon him as a hostile agency, without annihilating his position as a really independent producer. Being immediately benefited by the Communal Republic, he would soon confide in it.

Union (Ligue) Républicaine

The party of disorder, whose régime topped[ab] under the corruption of the Second Empire, has left Paris (exodus from Paris), followed by its appurtenances, its retainers, its menials, its State parasites, its mouchards, its cocottes, and the whole band of low bohème (the common criminals) that form the complement of that bohème of quality. But the true vital elements of the middle classes, delivered by the workmen’s revolution from their sham representants, has for the first time in the history of French Revolutions, separated from it and come out in its true colours. It is the “Ligue of Republican Liberty,”[158] acting the intermediary between Paris and the provinces, disavowing Versailles and marching under the banners of the Commune.

The Communal Revolution as the Representative of all Classes of Society not Living upon Foreign Labour[ac]

We have seen that the Paris proletarian fights for the French peasant, and Versailles fights against him; that the greatest anxiety of the Ruraux is that Paris be heard by the peasant and no longer separated by [read from] him through the blockade; that at the bottom of its war upon Paris is the attempt to keep the peasantry as its bondman and treat him as before as its matière “taillable à merci et miséricorde” [its object “liable to pay taxes at its mercy and behest”].

For the first time in history the petty and moyenne middle class [petty and middle bourgeoisie] has openly rallied round the workmen’s Revolution, and proclaimed it as the only means of their own salvation and that of France! It forms with them the bulk of the National Guard, it sits with them in the Commune, it mediates for them in the Union républicaine!

The principal measures taken by the Commune are taken for the salvation of the middle class – the debtor class of Paris against the creditor class! That middle class had rallied in the June insurrection (1848) against the proletariat under the banners of the capitalist class, their generals, and their State parasites. It was punished at once on the 19 September 1848 by the rejection of the “concordats à l’amiable.”[79] The victory over the June insurrection showed itself at once also as the victory of the creditor, the wealthy capitalist over the debtor, the middle class. It insisted mercilessly on its pound of flesh. On the 13th June, 1849 the National Guard of that middle class was disarmed and sabred down by the army of the bourgeoisie!

During the Empire, [as a result of] the dilapidation of the State resources, upon which the wealthy capitalist fed, this middle class was delivered to the plunder of the stock-jobber, the railway kings, the swindling associations of the Crédit mobilier, etc., and expropriated by capitalist association (joint-stock company). If lowered in its political position, attacked in its economical interests, it was morally revolted by the orgies of that régime. The infamies of the war gave the last shock and roused its feelings as Frenchmen. [Considering] the disasters bestowed upon France by that war, its crisis of national breakdown and its financial ruin, this middle class feels that not the corrupt class of the would-be slaveholders of France, but only the manly aspirations and the herculean power of the working class can come to the rescue!

They feel that only the working class can emancipate them from priest rule, convert science from an instrument of class rule into a popular force, convert the men of science themselves from the panderers to class prejudice, place-hunting State parasites, and allies of capital into free agents of thought! Science can only play its genuine part in the Republic of Labour.

Republic only possible as Avowedly Social Republic

This civil war has destroyed the last delusions about [the] “Republic,” as the Empire [destroyed] the delusion of unorganized “universal suffrage” in the hands of the State gendarme and the parson. All vital elements of France acknowledge that a Republic is only in France and Europe possible as a “Social Republic,” that is a Republic which disowns the capital and landowner class of the State machinery to supersede it by the Commune, that frankly avows “social emancipation” as the great goal of the Republic and guarantees thus that social transformation by the Communal organization. The other Republic can be nothing but the anonymous terrorism of all monarchical fractions, of the combined Legitimists, Orleanists, and Bonapartists to land in an Empire quelconque [of any kind] as its final goal, the anonymous terror of class rule which having done its dirty work will always burst into an Empire!

The professional Republicans of the Rural Assembly are men who really believe, despite the experiments of 1848-51, despite the civil war against Paris – the Republican form of class despotism [to be] a possible, lasting form, while the “Party of Order” demands it only as a form of conspiracy for fighting the Republic and reintroducing its only adequate form, monarchy or rather imperialism, as the form of class despotism. In 1848 these voluntary dupes were pushed in the foreground till, by the insurrection of June, they had paved the way for the anonymous rule of all fractions of the would-be slaveholders in France. In 1871, at Versailles, they are from [the] beginning pushed in the background, there to figure as the “Republican” decoration of Thiers’ rule and sanction by their presence the war of the Bonapartist generals upon Paris! In unconscious self-irony these wretches hold their party meeting in the Salle des Paume (Tennis Court) to show how they have degenerated from their predecessors in 1789![159] By their Schölchers, etc., they tried to coax Paris in[to] tendering its arms to Thiers and to force it into disarmament by the National Guard of “Order” under Saisset! We do not speak of the so-called socialist Paris deputies like Louis Blanc. They undergo meekly the insults of a Dufaure and the Ruraux, dote upon Thiers’ “legal” rights, and whining in [the] presence of the banditti cover themselves with infamy!

Workmen and Comte

If the workmen have outgrown the time of socialist sectarianism, it ought not be forgotten that they have never been in the leading strings of Comtism. This sect has never afforded the International but a branch of about half a dozen of men, whose programme was rejected by the General Council.[160] Comte is known to the Parisian workmen as the prophet in politics of imperialism (of personal dictatorship ), of capitalist rule in political economy, of hierarchy in all spheres of human action, even in the sphere of science, and as the author of a new catechism with a new pope and new saints in place of the old ones.

If his followers in England play a more popular part than those in France it is not by preaching their sectarian doctrines, but by their personal valour, and by the acceptance [... ? ...] of the forms of working-men class struggle created without them,[ad] as, f.i., the trade unions and strikes in England which by the by are denounced as heresy by their Paris co-religionists.

The Commune (Social Measures)

That the workmen of Paris have taken the initiative of the present Revolution and in heroic self-sacrifice bear the brunt of this battle, is nothing new. It is the striking fact of all French Revolutions! It is only a repetition of the past! That the Revolution is made in the name and confessedly for the popular masses, that is, the producing masses, is a feature this Revolution has in common with all its predecessors. The new feature is that the people, after the first rise, have not disarmed themselves and surrendered their power into the hands of the Republican mountebanks of the ruling classes, that, by the constitution of the Commune, they have taken the actual management of their Revolution into their own hands and found at the same time, in the case of success, the means to hold it in the hands of the people itself, displacing the State machinery, the governmental machinery of the ruling classes by a governmental machinery of their own. This is their ineffable crime! Workmen infringing upon the governmental privilege of the upper 10,000 and proclaiming their will to break the economical basis of that class despotism which for its own sake wielded the organized State force of society! This is it that has thrown the respectable classes in Europe as in the United States into the paroxysm of convulsions and accounts for their shrieks of abomination [that] it is blasphemy, [and for] their fierce appeals to assassination of the people and the billingsgate of abuse and calumny from their parliamentary tribunes and their journalistic servants’ hall!

The greatest measure of the Commune is its own existence, working, acting under circumstances of unheard-of difficulty! The red flag, hissed[ae] by the Paris Commune, crowns in reality only the government of workmen for Paris! They have clearly, consciously proclaimed the Emancipation of Labour, and the transformation of society, as their goal! But the actual “social” character of their Republic consists only in this, that workmen govern the Paris Commune! As to their measures, they must, by the nature of things, be principally confined to the military defence of Paris and its approvisionnement [supply]!

Some patronizing friends of the working class, while hardly dissembling their disgust even at the few measures they consider as “socialist,” although there is nothing socialist in them except their tendency, express their satisfaction and try to coax genteel sympathies for the Paris Commune by the great discovery that, after all, workmen are rational men and whenever in power always resolutely turn their back upon socialist enterprises! They do in fact neither try to establish in Paris a phalanstère nor an Icarie.[161] Wise men of their generation! These benevolent patronizers, profoundly ignorant of the real aspirations and the real movement of the working classes, forget one thing. All the socialist founders of sects belong to a period in which the working class themselves were neither sufficiently trained and organized by the march of capitalist society itself to enter as historical agents upon the world’s stage, nor were the material conditions of their emancipation sufficiently matured in the old world itself. Their misery existed, but the conditions of their own movement did not yet exist. The utopian founders of sects, while in their criticism of present society clearly describing the goal of the social movement, the supersession of the wages system with all its economical conditions of class rule, found neither in society itself the material conditions of its transformation, nor in the working class the organized power and the conscience [consciousness] of the movement. They tried to compensate for the historical conditions of the movement by phantastic pictures and plans of a new society in whose propaganda they saw the true means of salvation. From the moment the working-men class movement became real, the phantastic utopias evanesced, not because the working class had given up the end aimed at by these Utopists, but because they had found the real means to realize them, but in their place came a real insight into the historic conditions of the movement and a more and more gathering force of the military organization of the working class. But the last 2 ends of the movement proclaimed by the Utopians are the last ends proclaimed by the Paris Revolution and by the International. Only the means are different and the real conditions of the movement are no longer clouded in utopian fables. These patronizing friends of the proletariat, in glossing over the loudly proclaimed socialist tendencies of this Revolution, are therefore but the dupes of their own ignorance. It is not the fault of the Paris proletariat, if for them the utopian creations of the prophets of the working-men movement are still the “Social Revolution,” that is to say, if the Social Revolution is for them still “utopian.”

Journal officiel of the Central Committee, 20 March :

“The proletarians of the capital, in [the] midst [of] the défaillances [failures] and the treasons of the governing (ruling) classes, have understood (compris ) that the hour has arrived for them to save the situation in taking into their own hands the direction (management ) of public affairs (the state business).”

They denounce “the political incapacity and the moral decrepitude of the bourgeoisie” as the source of “the misfortunes of France.”

“The workmen, who produce everything and enjoy nothing, who suffer from misery in the midst of their accumulated products, the fruit of their work and their sweat ... shall they never be allowed to work for their emancipation? ... The proletariat, in face of the permanent menace against its rights, of the absolute negation of all its legitimate aspirations, of the ruin of the country and all its hopes, has understood that it was its imperious duty and its absolute right to take into its hands its own destinies and to assure their triumph in seizing the State power (en s’emparant du pouvoir ).”[73]

It is here plainly stated that the government of the working class is, in the first instance, necessary to save France from the ruins and the corruption impended upon it by the ruling classes, that the dislodgment of these classes from power (of these classes who have lost the capacity of ruling France) is a necessity of national safety.

But it is no less clearly stated that the government by the working class can only save France and do the national business, by working for its own emancipation, the conditions of that emancipation being at the same time the conditions of the regeneration of France.

It is proclaimed as a war of labour upon the monopolists of the means of labour, upon capital.

The chauvinism of the bourgeoisie is only a vanity, giving a national cloak to all their own pretensions. It is a means, by permanent armies, to perpetuate international struggles, to subjugate in each country the producers by pitching them against their brothers in each other country, a means to prevent the international co-operation of the working classes, the first condition of their emancipation. The true character of that chauvinism (long since become a mere phrase) has come out during the war of defence after Sedan, everywhere paralysed by the chauvinist bourgeoisie in the capitulation of France, in the civil war carried on under that high priest of chauvinism, Thiers, on Bismarck’s sufferance! It came out in the petty police intrigue of the Anti-German League,[162] [in the] foreigners hunting in Paris after the capitulation. It was hoped that the Paris people (and the French people) could be stultified into the passion of national hatred and by factitious outrages to the foreigner forget its real aspiration and its home betrayers!

How has this factitious movement disappeared (vanished) before the breath of revolutionary Paris! Loudly proclaiming its international tendencies – because the cause of the producer is every[where] the same and its enemy everywhere the same, whatever its nationality (in whatever national garb? – it proclaimed as a principle the admission of foreigners into the Commune; it chose even a foreign workman[af] (a member of the International) into its Executive, it decreed [the destruction of] the symbol of French chauvinism – the Vendôme Column!

And while their bourgeois chauvins have dismembered France, and act under the dictatorship of the foreign invasion, the Paris workmen have beaten the foreign enemy by striking at their own class rulers, have abolished fractions, in conquering the post as the vanguard of the workmen of all nations!

The genuine patriotism of the bourgeoisie – so natural for the real proprietors of the different “national” estates – has faded into a mere sham consequent upon the cosmopolitan character imprinted upon their financial, commercial, and industrial enterprise. Under similar circumstances it would explode in all countries as it did in France.

Decentralisation by the Ruraux and the Commune

It has been said that Paris, and with it, the other French towns, were oppressed by the rule of the peasants, and that its present struggle is for its emancipation from the rule of the peasantry! Never was a more foolish lie uttered!

Paris, as the central seat and the stronghold of the centralized government machinery, subjected the peasantry to the rule of the gendarme, the tax-collector, the Prefect, and the priest, and the rural magnates, that is, to the despotism of its enemies, and deprived it of all life (took the life out of it). It repressed all organs of independent life in the rural districts. On the other hand, the government, the rural magnate, the gendarme and the priest, into whose hands the whole influence of the provinces was thus thrown by the centralized State machinery centring at Paris, brought this influence to bear for the government and the classes whose government it was, not against [the] Paris [of] the government, the parasite, the capitalist, the idle, the cosmopolitan stew, but against the Paris of the workman and the thinker. In this way, by the government centralization with Paris as its base, the peasants were suppressed by the Paris of the government and the capitalist and the Paris of the workmen was suppressed by the provincial power handed over into the hands of the enemies of the peasants.

The Versailles Moniteur [144] (29 March) declares “that Paris cannot be a free city, because it is the capital.” This is the true thing. Paris, the capital of the ruling classes and its [read their] government, cannot be a “free city” and the provinces cannot be “free,” because such a Paris is the capital. The provinces can only be free with the Commune at Paris. The Party of Order is still more infuriated against Paris because it has proclaimed its own emancipation from them and their government, than because, by doing so, it has sounded the alarm signal for the emancipation of the peasant and the provinces from their sway.

Journal officiel de la Commune, 1 April :

“The revolution of the 18th March had not for its only object the securing to Paris of Communal representation elected, but subject to the despotic tutelage of a national power strongly centralized. It is to conquer, and secure independence for all the communes of France, and also of [read for] all superior groups, departments, and provinces, united amongst themselves for their common interest by a really national pact; it is to guarantee and perpetuate the Republic. ... Paris has renounced her apparent omnipotence which is identical with her forfeiture, she has not renounced that moral power, that intellectual influence, which so often has made her victorious in France and Europe in her propaganda.“ [163]

“This time again Paris works and suffers for all France, of which it prepares by its combats and its sacrifices the intellectual, moral, administrative and economical regeneration, the glory and the prosperity.” (Programme of the Commune de Paris sent out by balloon.)[164]

Mr. Thiers, in his tour through the provinces, managed the elections, and above all, his own manifold elections. But there was one difficulty. The Bonapartist provincials had for the moment become impossible. (Besides, he did not want them, nor did they want him.) Many of the old Orleanist stagers had merged into the Bonapartist lot. It was, therefore, necessary, to appeal to the rusticated Legitimist landowners who had kept quite aloof from politics and were just the men to be duped. They have given the apparent character to the Versailles Assembly, its character of the “Chambre introuvable ” of Louis XVIII, its “Rural” character. In their vanity, they believed, of course, that their time had at last come with the downfall of the Second Bonapartist Empire and under the shelter of foreign invasion, as it had come in 1814 and 1815. Still they are mere dupes. So far as they act, they can only act as elements of the “Party of Order,” and its “anonymous” terrorism as in 1848-1851. Their own party effusions lend only the comical character to that association. They are, therefore, forced to suffer as president the jail-accoucheur of the Duchess of Berry and as their ministers the pseudo-Republicans of the Government of Defence. They will be pushed aside as soon as they have done their service. But – a trick of history – by this curious combination of circumstances they are forced to attack Paris because of revolting against “the République une et indivisible

[the Republic, one and indivisible] (Louis Blanc expresses it so, Thiers calls it unity of France) while their very first exploit was to revolt against unity by declaring for the “decapitation and decapitalization” of Paris, by wanting the Assembly to throne in a provincial town. What they really want is to go back to what preceded the centralized State machinery, become more or less independent of its prefects and its ministers, and put into its place the provincial and local domainial influence of the Châteaux. They want a reactionary decentralization of France. What Paris wants is to supplant that centralization which has done its service against feodality, but has become the mere unity of an artificial body, resting on gendarmes, red and black armies, repressing the life of real society, lasting as an incubus upon it, giving Paris an “apparent omnipotence” by enclosing it and leaving the provinces outdoor[ag] – to supplant this unitarian France which exists besides the French society, by the political union of French society itself through the Communal organization.

The true partisans of breaking up the unity of France are therefore the Rurals, opposed to the united State machinery so far as it interferes with their own local importance (seignorial rights), so far as it is the antagonist of feudalism.

What Paris wants is to break up that factitious unitarian system, so far as it is the antagonist of the real living union of France and a mere means of Class rule.

Comtist View

Men completely ignorant of the existing economical system are of course still less able to comprehend the workmen’s negation to that system. They can of course not comprehend that the social transformation the working class aim at is the necessary, historical, unavoidable birth[ah] of the present system itself. They talk in deprecatory tones of the threatened abolition of “property,” because in their eyes their present class form of property – a transitory historical form – is property itself, and the abolition of that form would therefore be the abolition of property. As they now defend the “charity” of capital rule and the wages system, if they had lived in feudal times or in times of slavery they would have defended the feudal system and the slave system, as founded on the nature of things, as a spontaneous outgrowth[?] springing from nature; [they would have] fiercely declaimed against their “abuses,” but at the same time from the height of their ignorance answering to the prophecies of their abolition by the dogma of their “charity” weighed by “moral checks” (“constraints”).

They are as right in their appreciation of the aims of the Paris working classes, as is M. Bismarck in declaring that what the Commune wants is the social property which makes property the attribute of labour; far from creating individual “moral constraints” [it] will emancipate the “morals” of the individual from its class constraints.

Poor men! They do not even know that every social form of property has “morals” of its own, and that the form of [. ...][ai]

How the breath of the popular revolution has changed Paris! The Revolution of February was called the revolution of moral contempt. It was proclaimed by the cries of the people, “A bas les grands voleurs! A bas les assassins! ” [“Down with the big thieves! Down with the assassins!”] Such was the sentiment of the people. But as to the bourgeoisie, they wanted broader sway for corruption! They got it under Louis Bonaparte’s (Napoleon the Little’s) reign. Paris, the gigantic town, the town of historic initiative, was transformed in[to] the maison dorée [“gilded house” – brothel] of all the idlers and swindlers of the world, into a cosmopolitan stew! After the exodus of the “better class of people,” the Paris of the working class reappeared, heroic, self-sacrificing, enthusiastic in the sentiment of its herculean task! No cadavers in the Morgue, no insecurity of the streets. Paris was never more quiet within. Instead of the cocottes, the heroic women of Paris! Manly, stern, fighting, working, thinking Paris! Magnanimous Paris! In view of the cannibalism of their enemies, making their prisoners only dangerless![aj] ... What Paris will no longer stand is yet the existence of the cocottes and cocodès [dandies]. What it is resolved to drive away or transform is this useless, sceptical and egoistical race which has taken possession of the gigantic town, to use it as its own. No celebrity of the Empire shall have the right to say, “Paris is very pleasant in the best quarters, but there are too many paupers in the others.” (Vérité,[165] 23 April ):

“Private crime wonderfully diminished at Paris. The absence of thieves and cocottes, of assassinations and street-attacks: all the conservateurs [conservatives] have fled to Versailles!”

“There has not been signalized one single nocturnal attack even in the most distant and less frequented quarters since the citizens do their police business themselves.”


Thiers on the Rurals

This party “knows only to employ three means: foreign invasion, civil war and anarchy. ... Such a government will never be that of France.” (Chambre des députés of 5th janvier, 1833.)

Government of Defence

And this same Trochu said in his famous programme: “The governor of Paris will never capitulate,” and Jules Favre in his circular: “Not a stone of our fortresses, nor a foot of our territories,” same as Ducrot: “I shall never return to Paris save dead or victorious.” He found afterwards at Bordeaux that his life was necessary for keeping down the “rebels” of Paris. (These wretches know that in their flight to Versailles they have left behind the proofs of their crimes, and to destroy these proofs they would not recoil from making Paris a mountain of ruins bathed in a sea of blood.) (Manifeste à la province, by balloon.)[42]

“The unity which has been imposed upon us to the present, by the Empire, the Monarchy, and Parliamentary Government is nothing but centralization, despotic, unintelligent, arbitrary and onerous. The political unity as desired by Paris, is a voluntary association of all local initiative,” ... a central delegation from the Federal Communes. “End of the old governmental and clerical world, of military supremacy and bureaucracy and jobbing in monopolies and privileges to which the proletariat owed its slavery and the country its misfortunes and disasters. (Proclamation of Commune, 19 April.)[164]

Gendarmes and Policemen

20,000 gendarmes (drawn to Versailles from all France, im ganzen 30,000 untet dem Empire[ak]) and 12,000 Paris police agents – basis of the finest army France ever had.

Republican Deputies of París

The Republican Deputies of Paris “have not protested either against the bombardment of Paris, or the summary executions of the prisoners, or the calumnies against the people of Paris. They have on the contrary, by their presence at the Assembly and their mutisme [mutism], given a consecration to all these acts supported by the notoriety the Republican Party has given those men. Have become the allies and conscious accomplices of the monarchical party. Declares them traitors to their mandate and the Republic.” (Association générale des défenseurs de la République.)[166] (9 May.)
“Centralization leads to apoplexy in Paris and to absence of life everywhere else.” (Lamennais.)

“Aujourd’hui tout se rapporte à un centre, et ce centre est, pour ainsi dire, I’Etat même.” [“Today everything relates to a centre, and this centre is, so to speak, the State itself.”] (Montesquieu.)[167]

Vendôme Affair, etc.

The Central Committee of the National Guard, constituted by the nomination of a delegate of each company, on the entrance of the Prussians into Paris, transported to Montmartre, Belleville et La Villette the cannon and mitrailleuses found[ed] by the subscription of the National Guards themselves, which cannon and mitrailleuses were abandoned by the Government of National Defence, even in those quarters which were to be occupied by the Prussians.

On the morning of the 18th March the Government made an energetic appeal to the National Guard, but out of 400,000 National Guards only 300 men answered.

On the 18th March, at 3 o’clock in the morning, the agents of police and some bataillons of the line were at Montmartre, Belleville, and La Villette to surprise the guardians of artillery and to take it away by force.

The National Guard resisted, the soldiers of the line levèrent la crosse en l’air [raised the butts of their guns in th air], despite the menaces and the orders of General Lecomte, shot the same day by his soldiers at the same time as Clément Thomas. (#8220;Troops of the line threw the butts of their muskets in the air, and fraternized with the insurgents.”)

The bulletin of victory by Aurelle de Paladines was already printed; also papers found on the Decentralization[al] of Paris.

On the 19 March the Central Committee declared the state of siege of Paris raised; on the 20[th] Picard proclaimed it for the department of the Seine-et-Oise.

18 March (morning: still believing in his victory), Proclamation of Thiers, placarded on the walls:

“The Government has resolved to act. The criminals who affect to institute a government must be delivered to regular justice and the cannon taken away must be restored to the Arsenals.”

Late in the afternoon, the nocturnal surprise having failed, he appeals to the National Guards :

“The Government is not preparing a coup d’état. The Government of the Republic has not and cannot have any other aim than the safety of the Republic.”

He will only “do away with the insurgent committee"... “almost all unknown to the population.”

Late in the evening, a third proclamation to the National Guard, signed by Picard and Aurelle:

“Some misguided men ... resist formally the National Guard and the army. ... The Government has chosen that your arms should be left to you. Seize them with resolution to establish the reign of law and to save the Republic from anarchy.

(On the 17th Schölcher tries to wheedle them into disarming.)

Proclamation of the Central Committee of the 19 March : “The state of siege is raised. The people of Paris is convoked for its Communal elections.”

Id. to the National Guards :

“You have charged us to organize the defence of Paris and of your rights.... At this moment our mandate has expired; we give it back to you, we will not take the place of those whom the popular breath vient de renverser [has just overthrown].”[168]

They allowed the members of the Government to with draw quietly to Versailles (even such as they had in their hands like Ferry).

The Communal elections convoked for the 22 March through the demonstration of the Party of Order, removed[am] to the 26th March.

21 March. The Assembly’s frantic roars of dissent against the words “Vive la République” at the end of a Proclamation “to citizens and army (soldiers).” Thiers : “It might be a very legitimate proposal, etc.” (Dissent of the Rurals.) Jules Favre made harangue against the doctrine of the Republic being superior to universal suffrage, flattered the Rural majority, threatened the Parisians with Prussian intervention and provoked the demonstration of the Party of Order. Thiers: “Come what may he would not send an armed force to attack Paris. ” (Had no troops yet to do it.)

Le Comité central était si peu sûr de sa victoire qu’il accepta avec empressement la médiation des maires et des députés de Paris ... L’entêtement de Thiers lui permit (au Comité) de vivre un ou deux jours: il eut alors conscience de ses forces. Fautes sans nombre des révolutionnaires. Au lieu de mettre les sergents de ville hors d’état de nuire, on leur ouvrit les portes; ils allèrent à Versailles, où ils furent accueillis comme les sauveurs; on laissa partir le 43e de ligne; on renvoya dans leurs foyers tous les soldats qui avaient fraternisé avec le peuple; on permit à la réaction de s’organiser dans le centre même de Paris; on laissa tranquille Versailles. Tridon, Jaclard, Varlin, Vaillant voulaient qu’on allât immédiatement débusquer les royalistes ... Favre et Thiers faisaient des démarches pressantes auprès des autorités prussiennes dans le but d’obtenir leurs concours ... pour réprimer le mouvement insurrectionnel de Paris. [The Central Committee was so little sure of its own victory that it hastily accepted the mediation by the mayors and deputies of Paris. ... Thiers’ obstinacy permitted it (the committee) to subsist one or two days: it then became aware of its own strength. Countless mistakes by the revolutionaries. Instead

of disarming the police, they opened the gates to them; the police went to Versailles, where they were welcomed as saviours; they let the 43rd Regiment of the line leave; they sent home all the soldiers who had fraternized with the people; they allowed the reactionaries to organize themselves in the very centre of Paris; they left Versailles undisturbed. Tridon, Jaclard, Varlin and Vaillant wanted to drive out the Royalists immediately. ... Favre and Thiers took immediate action to obtain the support of the Prussian authorities ... in order to suppress the insurrectional movement in Paris.]

L’occupation constante de Trochu et de Clément Thomas d’entraver toutes les tentatives d’armement et d’organisation de la Garde nationale. La marche sur Versailles fut décidée, préparée et entreprise par le Comité central, à l’insu de la Commune et même en opposition directe avec sa volonté nettement manifestée ... [Trochu and Clément Thomas were constantly preoccupied with thwarting every attempt of the National Guard to arm and organize. The march on Versailles was decided on, prepared and undertaken by the Central Committee without the knowledge of the Commune and even in opposition to its expressed wish. ...]

Bergeret ... au lieu de faire sauter le pont de Neuilly, que les fédérés ne pouvaient garder à cause du mont Valérien et des batteries établies à Courbevoie, il laissa les royalistes s’en emparer, s’y retrancher puissamment et s’assurer par là une voie de communication avec Paris. ... [Bergeret ... instead of blowing up the bridge at Neuilly which the Communards could not protect on account of Mont-Valérien and the batteries set up at Courbevoie, he let the Royalists seize it and strongly entrench themselves there, thus assuring themselves of a line of communication with Paris. ...]

As M. Littré said in a letter (Daily News, 20 April):

“Paris disarmed; Paris manacled by the Vinoys, the Valentins, the Paladines, the Republic was lost. This the Parisians understood. With the alternative of succumbing without fighting, and risking a terrible contest of uncertain issue, they chose to fight; and I cannot but praise them for it.”

The expedition to Rome, the work of Cavaignac, Jules Favre, and Thiers.

“Un gouvernement qui a tous les avantages intérieurs du gouvernement républicain et la force ex du go mo. Je pa de la République fédérative. ... C’est une société des sociétés, qui en font une nouvelle qui peut s’agrandir par des nombreux associés, jusqu’à ce que sa puissance suffise à la sûreté de ceux qui se sont unis. Cette sorte de république ... peut se maintenir, dans sa grandeur, sans que l’intérieur se corrompe. La forme de cette société prévient tous les inconvénients.” (Montesquieu, Esprit des lois, 1. IX. ch. I.)[169] [“A form of government that has all the internal advantages of a republican government and the external force of a monarchical government. I mean a federal republic. ... It is a society made up of societies that constitute a new one, capable of growing by means of numerous associates, until its power is sufficient to ensure the security of those who have united. ... A republic of this kind ... may preserve its greatness without becoming internally corrupt; the form of this society prevents all disadvantages.” (Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws, Vol. I, Bk. IX, Ch. I.)]

Constitution de 1793 :[170]

§78 ) Il y a dans chaque commune de In République une administration municipale. Dans chaque district, une administration intermédiaire, dans chaque département une administration centrale. §79 ) les officiers municipaux sont élus par les assemblées de la Commune. §80 ) Les administrateurs sont nommés par les assemblées électorales de département et de district. §81 ) Les municipalites et les administrations sont renouvelées tous les ans par moitié. [§78 ) Each commune of the Republic has a municipal administration; each district, an intermediate administration; each department, a central administration. § 79 ) The municipal officials are elected by the assemblies of the commune. §80 ) The administrators are appointed by the electoral assemblies of the department and the district. §81 ) Half of the municipal and administration members are replaced every year.]

Conseil exécutif. §62 ) Composé de 24 membres. §63 ) L’Assemblée electorale de chaque département nomme un candidat. Le Corps législatif choisit sur la liste générale les membres du conseil. §64 ) Il est renouvelé par moitié à chaque législature, dans le dernier mois de sa session. §65 ) Le conseil est chargé de la direction et de la surveillance de l’générale. §66 ) Il nomme, hors de son sein, les agents en chef de l’administration générale de la république. §68 ) Ces agents ne forment point un conseil; ils sont séparés, sans rapports immédiats entre eux, ils n’exercent aucune autorité personnelle. §73 ) Le Conseil révoque et remplace les agent à sa nomination. [Executive Council. §62 ) Composed of 24 members. §63 ) The Electoral Assembly of each department nominates a candidate. The legislative body selects from the general list the members of the council. §64 ) In each legislature the council replaces half of its members in the last month of its session. §65 ) The council is charged with the direction and supervision of the general administration. §66 ) It appoints, other than its own members, heads of general administration of the Republic. §68 ) These heads do not form a council; they are separated, without direct connection between them; they do not exercise personal authority. §73 ) The Council removes and replaces the officials it appoints.]

Roused on the one hand by Jules Favre’s call to civil war in the Assembly – he told that the Prussians had threatened to interfere, if the Parisians did not give in at once – encouraged by the forbearance of the people and the passive attitude towards them of the Central Committee, the “Party of Order” at Paris resolved on a coup de main, which came off on the 22 March under the etiquette of a Peaceful Procession, a peaceable demonstration against the Revolutionary Government. And it was a peaceful demonstration of a very peculiar character. “The whole movement seemed a surprise. There were no preparations to meet it.” “A riotous mob of gentlemen,” in their first rank the familiars of the Empire, the Heeckeren, Coëtlogon, and H. de Pène, etc., ill-treating and disarming National Guards detached from advanced sentinels (sentries), who fled to the Place Vendôme whence the National Guards march at once to the Rue Neuve-des- Petits-Champs. Meeting the rioters, they received order not to fire, but the rioters advance under the cry: “Down with the Assassins! Down with the Committee!”, insult the guards, grasp at their muskets, shoot with a revolver citizen Maljournal (lieutenant d’état-major de la place ) (membre du Comité central) [(lieutenant of the staff at the Place) (member of the Central Committee)]. General Bergeret calls upon them to withdraw (disband) (retire). During about 5 minutes the drums are beaten and the sommations (replacing the English reading of the Riot Act) made. They reply by cries of insult. Two National Guards fall severely wounded. Meanwhile their comrades hesitate and fire into the air. The rioters try to forcibly break through the lines and to disarm them. Bergeret commands fire and the cowards fly. The émeute [riot] is at once dispersed and the fire ceases. Shots are fired from houses on the National Guards. Two of them, Wahlin and François are killed, eight are wounded. The streets through which the “pacific” disband are strewn with revolvers and sword-canes (many of them picked up in the Rue de la Paix). Vicomte de Molinet, killed from behind (by his own people), [is] found with a dagger fixed by a chain.

Rappel was beaten. A number of cane-swords, revolvers, and daggers lay on the streets by which the “unarmed” demonstration had passed. Pistol-shots were fired before the insurgents received orders to fire on the crowd. The manifestors were the aggressors (witnessed by General Sheridan from a window).

This was then simply an attempt to do by the reactionists of Paris, armed with revolvers, cane-swords, and daggers, what Vinoy had failed to do with his sergents de ville, soldiers, cannon and mitrailleuse. That the “lower orders” of

Paris allowed themselves not even to be disarmed by the “gentlemen” of Paris, was really too bad!

When on the 13th June, 1849 the National Guards of Paris made a really “unarmed” and “pacific” procession to protest against a crime, the attack on Rome by the French troops, General Changarnier was praised by his intimate Thiers for sabring and shooting them down. The state of siege was declared, new laws of repression, new proscriptions, a new reign of terror! Instead of all that, the Central Committee and the workmen of Paris strictly kept on the defensive, during the encounter itself, allowed the assailers (the gentlemen of the dagger), to return quietly home, and, by their indulgence, by not calling them to account for this daring enterprise, encouraged them so much that two days later, under the leadership of Admiral Saisset, sent from Versailles, [they] rallied again and tried again their hands at civil war.

And this Vendôme Affair evoked at Versailles a cry of “assassination of unarmed citizens,” reverberating throughout the world. Be it remarked that even Thiers, while eternally reiterating the assassination of the two generals, has not once dared to remind the world of this “assassination of unarmed citizens.”

As in the medieval times the knight may use any weapon whatever against the plebeian, but the latter must not dare even to defend himself.

(27 March, Versailles. Thiers :

“I give a formal contradiction to those who accuse me of leading the way for a monarchical settlement. I found the Republic an accomplished fact. Before God and man I declare I will not betray it.”)

After the second rising of the Party of Order, the Paris people took no reprisals whatever. The Central Committee even committed the great blunder, against the advice of its most energetic members, not to march at once at Versailles, where, after the flight of Adm. Saisset and the ridiculous collapse of the National Guard of Order, consternation ruled supreme, there being not yet any forces of resistance organized.

After the election of the Commune, the Party of Order tried again their forces at the ballot-box, and, when again beaten, effected their exodus from Paris. During the election hand-shaking and fraternization of the bourgeois (in the courts of the Mayoralities) with the insurgent National Guards, while among themselves they talk of nothing but “décimation en masse,” “mitraille,” “frying at Cayenne,” “wholesale fusillades.”

“The runaways of yesterday think to-day, by flattering the men of the Hôtel de Ville, to keep them quiet until the Rurals and Bonapartist generals, who are gathering at Versailles, will be in a position to fire on them.”

Thiers commenced the armed attack on the National Guard for the second time in [the] Affair of April 2. Fighting between Courbevoie and Neuilly, close to Paris. National Guards beaten, bridge of Neuilly occupied by Thiers’ soldiers. Several thousands of National Guards having come out of Paris and occupied Courbevoie et Puteaux and the bridge of Neuilly, routed. Many prisoners taken. Many of the insurgents immediately shot as rebels. Versailles troops began the firing.

Commune :

“The Government of Versailles has attacked us. Not being able to count upon the army, it has sent Pontifical Zouaves of Charette, Bretons of Trochu, and gendarmes of Valentin, in order to bombard Neuilly.”[171]

On 2nd April the Versailles Government had sent forward a division chiefly consisting of gendarmes, marines, forest

guard, and police. Vinoy with two brigades of infantry, and Galliffet at the head of a brigade of cavalry and a battery of artillery advanced upon Courbevoie.

Paris, April 4. Millière (Declaration):

“The people of Paris [were] not making any aggressive attempt ... when the Government ordered it to be attacked by the ex-soldiers of the Empire, organized as praetorian troops, under the command of ex-Senators.” [172]


Note. Throughout this document, the term “middle-class” should be read as “bourgeoisie”, i.e., the capitalist class, both large and small, rather than understood in the modern usage of “middle-class”, meaning professional and small business people as opposed to the big capitalists.

a. In his final manuscript, Marx made a revision: Ernest Picard was Minister of Finance of the Government of National Defence and the Electeur libre was the paper of the Finance Office (see p. 45).

b. The correct date was 31 July.

c. Louis Vacheron.

d. Denis Auguste Affre.

e. insurged: insurgents.

f. See below, pp. 206-08.

g. “banks” should read “ranks.”

h. octroyed: granted.

i. “hissed” should read “hoisted.”

j. That hideous Triboulet (a typical tragic buffoon in Victor Hugo’s Le Roi s’amuse).

k. The correct date was April 25.

l. This refers to the supporters of the Commune.

m. In the manuscript, above the words “first appealed to the provinces” is the following: “turned to the provinces with an anxious appeal, before it had obtained an army of captives from Bismarck.” (Retranslated from the German translation of the “Drafts of The Civil War in France ” in Marx/Engels, Werke, Vol. 17.)

n. “23 Bataillon” should read “22nd Battalion.”

o. “St. Thérèse’” should read “St. Honoré.”

p. trailed: searched.

q. In the German translation, this sentence reads: “They allowed Trochu and Ferry to escape, and these then fell upon them with Trochu s Bretons.”

r. François Tamisier.

s. “hissing” should read “hoisting.”

t. The correct date was 28 January.

u. In the German translation, the latter part of the sentence reads: “... which were its property, had been officially acknowledged as its property in the capitulation and were, therefore, left to it.”

v. rise: rising.

w. In the German translation, this sentence reads: “As against previous revolutions – in which the time necessary for all historical development always got lost and in which, in the very first days of popular triumph, as soon as the people had laid down their victorious arms they were turned against the people themselves – the Commune first of all replaced the army by the National Guard.”

x. play: plaything.

y. relented: retarded.

z. superconstructed: as superstructure.

aa. “trudging” should read “drudging.”

ab. topped: reached its summit.

ac. foreign labour: the labour of others.

ad. In the German translation, this sentence reads: “... and because their sects accept the forms of proletarian class struggle, which were created without them. ...”

ae. “hissed” should read “hoisted.”

af. Leo Frankel.

ag. outdoor: outside.

ah. birth: product.

ai. In the German translation, the last two paragraphs read:

“They are as right in their appreciation of the aims of the Paris working classes, as is M. Bismarck in declaring that what the Commune wants is the Prussian municipal system.

“Poor men! They do not even know that every social form of property has ‘morals’ of its own, and that the form of social property which makes property the attribute of labour – far from creating individual ‘moral constraints’ – will emancipate the ‘morals’ of the individual from its class constraints.”

aj. In the German translation, this sentence reads: “Faced with the cannibalism of its enemies, it took measures so that its captives could not endanger it any longer.”

ak. Totalling 30,000 under the Empire.

al. “Decentralization” should read “Décembrization.” [122]

am. removed: was postponed.