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Socialist Appeal, March 1935, Volume 1 No. 2, Page 6-7
Transcribed and Marked Up by Damon Maxwell in 2009 for the Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line.

In Memory Of The Paris Commune
March 18 to May 28, 1871.

The horny-handed., the toilers, to one side – the soft-handed, the exploiters to the other; the horny-handed to be marched into the cemeteries and shot and lumped into mass graves – the soft-handed to return to Paris to begin the exploitation of new toilers.

In this picture of the last days of the Paris Commune we see the symbolization of its unique importance in the history of socialism. Unwittingly, the generals of the triumphant Thiers government, when they felt Parisians’ hands to determine to which class they belonged, demonstrated the class character of the Commune. In his Civil War In France. Marx says of the Commune: “Its real secret was this: it was essentially a government of the working class, the result of the struggle between the producing class and the expropriating class the political form, at last discovered under which the economic emancipation of labor could be accomplished.”

Despite many mistakes due to the immaturity of the French proletariat, the student of the Commune will find in it guideposts to the socialist road to power. While the Revolutions of 1848 taught in general that the fight against poverty under capitalism included a fight against the state and the form of workers’ power. Our party’s slogan of struggle for a “Workers’ Democracy” includes “the political form” of the Paris Commune, plus the additional consolidating force of the democratic party of the workers as the governing apparatus during the transitional period to socialism.

Marx and Lenin write that the Commune was doomed to defeat. There was no political party of the workers to consolidate state power. The Communards dealt too weakly with their enemies. They failed to rally the surrounding country.

In the May days of the Commune, most of the Communards also knew that they were doomed and yet they fought on, died the deaths of workers’ heroes, and taught the world the power of the working class. What a reproach is the Commune to the Socialists and Communists of Germany who capitulated to reaction without so much as a skirmish! And what honor to the Socialists of Austria and Spain – despite their political mistakes – when they fought in the glorious tradition of the Commune!

Today, with the ranks of the American workers divided by fratricidal wars, it is well to recall the solidarity of the Paris proletariat in defence of the Commune. Divided as it was before the March days into “petty-bourgeois anarchists of the Proudhon stamp, Blanquists, Babeufists, Jacobins, and supporters of the International Workingmen’s Association”, the whole working class united in action, to defend the Paris of the workers.

This solidarity and bravery of the Communards may well point a lesson to those both within and without the workers’ ranks, who minimize its power as a class because of its disunity. Once the workers as a class are set into motion, unity rather than disunity is the order of the day. This task of setting the American workers into motion is the major task of our party.

“Workingmen’s Paris, with its Commune, will be forever celebrated as the glorious harbinger of a new society. Its martyrs are enshrined in the great heart of the working class. Its exterminators, history has already nailed to that eternal pillory from which all the prayers of their priests will not avail to redeem them.” (Marx – Civil War in France.)

To convince all nations of his neighbora1iness Roosevelt is planning to increase the standing army from 118,000 to 165,000 men and to appropriate over one billion dollars for military and naval affairs, the largest peace-time appropriation since 1921. Japan, anxious to show similar neighborly policies, will also Increase her armaments. All for a nice little “neighborly chat”.

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Last updated on 12 February 2009