The Paris Commune 1871

Address of the 3rd Congress of the Romande Federation of the International Workingmen’s Association to the Paris Commune

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

Geneva, Temple Unique, May 17, 1871

The annual Congress of the Romande Federation cannot close its sessions without casting its gaze at you, BROTHERS OF PARIS, and without proclaiming its adherence to the great labor of political and social reorganization that you are carrying out.

This is the first time that adepts of the INTERNATIONAL have made triumph the political principles of our Association, which is that of National Federations united among themselves across artificial frontiers and having THE COMMUNE as its fundamental basis.

It is also the first time that the international idea of the representation of labor finds its faithful expression in you, our brothers, who are called upon by the people of Paris to the direction of affairs of the great Commune, once again in full possession of itself.

While Paris is blocked by the Chouans of Versailles, it is incumbent upon us to defend you by enlightening those populations still in the dark on the true meaning of the revolution of March 18, accomplished in the name of the economic aspirations of the working classes. Everywhere that human intelligence exists it’s up to us to make understood that there is no middle ground between the two irreconcilable parties: social revolution or monarchical reaction.

We can’t help but express our profound regret that in the ferocious struggle between these two parties the provinces have not yet understood either their obligations or their interests. They haven’t understood that their destiny is intimately tied to that of the Paris Commune, because if Paris were to succumb with it would fall republican freedom, and on the smoking ruins of the cosmopolitan city would once again be installed the “order” of bloody persecution, the transportation of republicans, and the massacre of workers every time they demand their right to live from their labor.

But let reaction know well that that we make the solemn commitment to ceaselessly pursue our labor, that of plucking up the courage of the people so that they rise against the reaction of Versailles in order to extend their hands to the combatants of Paris across the gendarmes of Bonaparte and the mercenaries of Thiers, Favre, and Picard.

May this commitment, contracted by the workers of all countries, prove to reaction that it can’t defeat the Commune.

And if reaction has until now prevented you from realizing all the social and political reorganization that the Commune carries within itself; if reaction has forced you to preoccupy yourself for the moment with the suppression of the shadowy attacks of treason and corruption, to consecrate yourselves completely to the fight to the end against the assassination of the republic, thus putting obstacles before the peaceful development of the new social life, the Commune nevertheless remains the only federative form which, through its application extended throughout France, is capable of assuring independence, well-being and equality for all. It alone can create true national unity, that is, the unity of the people through the harmony of all its interests.

It is for this that we proclaim that the principles of the Commune have already triumphed over the debris of the ancien régime and its definitive consolidation cannot be far off, for it is and will remain the object of all the efforts of the workers.

And when the workers are united by an organization as vast as that of the International, the triumph of their cause is assured.

Receive then, Parisian brothers, our warm wishes for your imminent success, and believe that the members of the International of the entire world will join with us to declare that the International should adopt the orphans and the widows of the defenders of the Paris Commune.

Long live the Paris Commune! Long live the International Association!