The Paris Commune 1870

Circular of the International Workingmens Association

Translated: from the original for by Mitch Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) 2005.

Due to the impossibility of our responding to all the private letters addressed to us by the departmental sections of the International Association, we address to you the present circular as a first piece of information:

In this critical period we are passing through, the enormous events of which we are the witnesses lay out for us our line of conduct. The day of distrust and dissidence has not arrived, and we see only two duties that must be fulfilled: the defense of Paris; and taking our precautions against a stunned, but not vanquished, reaction.

We act in keeping with this.

We participate in the national defense by all means possible, and this is the capital thing at the moment. Since the proclamation of the Republic the current horrible war has taken on another meaning: it is now a duel to the death between feudal monarchism and republican democracy. A Paris besieged by the King of Prussia means civilization and the revolution in peril. We will defend Paris to the bitter end.

The public meetings which we are calling in all neighborhoods, the organization of Republican Committees that we are accelerating, the active part we are taking in the work of republican municipalities, the addresses to the German people that we are spreading, the appeals to energy and union that we sign, the assistance we give to the government of national defense have no other goal but this.

Nevertheless, we aren’t neglecting the precautions to be taken against threatening reaction that has so far been spared. For this we are organizing our Vigilance Committees in all neighborhoods, and we are pushing for the foundation of those same districts that were so useful in 1793.

Believe us, it is in this way that you must act: 1 – by all possible means excite the patriotism that will save revolutionary France; 2 – take energetic measures against bourgeois and Bonapartist reaction and push for the acceptance of great measures of defense and for the organization of Republican Committees, the first elements of the future revolutionary communes.

Our revolution has not yet been made, and we will make it when, rid of the invasion, we will revolutionarily lay down the foundations of the egalitarian society we desire.

This will be easy for us, if we are already resolute, energetic, and perseverant.


For the Parisian Federal Council:

Henry Backruch
13, rue de l'Echiquier