The Paris Commune 1870
First published: September 1870;
Translated: from the original for marxists.org by Mitch Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) marxists.org 2005.
To the People of Paris
The Delegates of the Twenty Arrondissements of Paris
Has the government which was charged on September 4 with national defense fulfilled its mission? No!
We are 500,000 combatants, and 200,000 Prussians have us in their grips! Who is responsible for this if not those who govern us? Instead of smelting cannons and manufacturing weapons they only thought of negotiating.
They refused the levée en masse.
They left the Bonapartists in place and arrested republicans.
They only decided to finally act against the Prussians after two months, after October 31.
By their slowness, their indecision, their inertia they brought us to the edge of the abyss; they didn’t know how to administrate or fight, even though they had at hand all possible resources, both in supplies and men.
They weren’t able to understand that in a besieged city, whoever supports the fight to save the fatherland has an equal right to receive subsistence. They were able to foresee nothing. There where abundance should exist they caused poverty; people die of the cold and of hunger; women suffer, children languish and succumb.
The military leadership is even more deplorable. Sorties without a goal, murderous fights without results, repeated failures that would discourage the bravest, Paris bombarded. The government has shown itself for what it is. It is killing us. The salvation of Paris demands a rapid decision. The government answers the reproaches of public opinion with threats. It declares that it will maintain ORDER, like Bonaparte before Sedan.
If the men of the Hotel-de-Ville still have any patriotism, their duty is to retire from the scene and let the people of Paris themselves take care of its own deliverance. The Municipality or the Commune, whatever name we give it, is the sole salvation of the people, its only recourse against death.
Any addition to or interfering with the current power would be nothing but a re-plastering, perpetuating the same errors, the same disasters. The perpetuation of this regime thus means capitulation, and Metz and Rouen have taught us that capitulation means not only famine, but the ruin of all, ruin and shame. It means the army and the National Guard transported as prisoners to Germany, parading though cities to foreign insults; commerce destroyed, industry dead, war contributions crushing Paris: this is what incompetence and treason are preparing for us.
Will the great people of ‘89, which destroys bastilles and overthrows thrones, wait in inert despair while cold and famine freeze its last drop of blood in its heart – whose beats the enemy is counting? No!
The people of Paris will never accept this misery and this shame. It knows that there is still time, that decisive measures will permit the workers to live, and all to fight.
A general requisitioning, Free rationing, A mass attack.
The policies, the strategy, the administration of September 4, continuing that of the Empire, have been judged.
MAKE WAY FOR THE PEOPLE! MAKE WAY FOR THE COMMUNE!