The Paris Commune became a model and inspiration for socialists from Marx to the present day

The municipality rose above the monarchy and the bourgeois republic (simultaneous drawing).
ORIENTERING NO. 22 1971 / : We bring here another part of Einhart Lorenz's article about the Paris Commune.


By Einhart Lorenz

The first part dealt with the establishment of the Municipality and the fighting that led to its downfall. Here we hear about the municipality's various measures and the significance it had for socialist thinking in the time that followed.

What did the municipality accomplish?

As we have seen, the Municipality had to work under very difficult conditions. It was a result of the cooperation of various wings, and many of the Municipality's measures became unclear and petty-bourgeois tendencies cannot be overlooked.

 "Without iron and blood, no major reforms have been implemented so far, and judging by the events of the last days, we fear that iron and blood will henceforth be
more necessary than before. "

We have already mentioned the lack of organization, military mistakes and the ambiguity of fiscal policy. But especially the members of the International managed to get a number of measures adopted that clearly point in the socialist direction. Some of the measures should be mentioned:

The abolition of the bakers' night work.

Children out of wedlock were equated with other children.

The illegitimate wives of the municipalities were equated with married women.

The church was separated from the state.

The principle of equal pay was implemented.

The private theaters were handed over to the artist collectives.

A revolt with socialist content

Nor did the municipalities see their uprising as an isolated phenomenon. In a call to the farm workers, they stated: “We and you have the same interests. You also want what I demand. The liberation that I demand will also be your liberation. Does it matter if it is a city or country that does not have bread, clothes, houses and help? Does it matter if the oppressor is called a landowner or a factory owner? – Paris wants the farmer to get the land and the worker to get the tools and for everyone to get work. You see: Paris' case is also your case. Paris works not only for the workers, but also for you! ”

Gained significance for Marxist state theory

Karl Marx has in his masterpiece The Civil War in France (which these days has been published in a new edition in Pax publishing house Marx edition) characterized in an apt way: «The municipality was formed by the municipal representatives who were elected by universal suffrage in the various districts of Paris. They were responsible and detached at all times. The majority, of course, consisted of workers or recognized representatives of the working class. The municipality should not be a parliamentary, but a working corporation, executive and legislative at the same time. The police, which until now had been the State Government's tool, were immediately deprived of all their political qualities and transformed into the Municipality's responsible and at all times marketable tool. In the same way with officials in all branches of government. From the Municipality's members down and down, the public service had to be performed for workers' wages ”. (My highlights. EL)

This characteristic later became of great importance for the development of Marxist state theory.

An inspiration for the international labor movement

With the defeat of the Commune, Thiers and Bismarck reached their goal: socialism and the working class in France were severely weakened for a long period, but it was still the bourgeoisie that had received a traumatic shock. The Socialists, on the other hand, were enthusiastic about the Municipality's struggle and supported fleeing Communards as best they could. In Chicago, the Norwegian Marcus Thrane co-founded a branch of the International. And while the European bourgeoisie rejected the Municipality, the magazine Dagslys came to the realization that: "Without iron and blood, no major reforms have been implemented so far, and judging from the events of the last days, we fear that iron and blood will henceforth remain more necessary than before. " And further down in the same article it says: "The Paris massacre will bring the workers' cause forward, for with the blood of martyrs the tree of freedom is fertilized."

"The Paris massacre will bring the cause of the workers forward, for with the blood of martyrs the tree of freedom is fertilized."

In Norway, the champion of the labor movement, Olaus Fjørtoft, defended the Paris municipality in his magazine Fram.

Not all socialists were so strong in their sympathies, and the German reformist Georg von Vollmar declared 25 years after the fall of the municipality in a discussion with Rosa Luxemburg: "The French workers would not have served their backs worse if they had slept then." Such sentences fortunately came in the minority, and the Paris workers' struggle for a new social order has for hundreds of years been a model for the revolutionary labor movement.

The municipality as a historical model in the struggle for socialism

Thiers and Bismarck's next attack was on the International, which was subjected to incitement and persecution in almost all European states. The international was dissolved, but Marx's writing on the Commune became of great importance to the socialist theory of state and society. Marx and later Lenin's lesson from the Commune was that the bourgeois state had to be completely broken down, that the working class could not automatically take over this state, but had to build new institutions.

The council movement got its main ideas from Marx, and Lenin built in The state and the revolution on Marx's text. In Norway in 1918, in Germany and Hungary after the First World War, councils were formed according to the pattern of the Municipality, in the same way as in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Spain in recent years. Both the May uprising in France and the cultural revolution in China felt connected to the Municipality. This is how it turns out that the municipality as a historical model is still alive in the fight for socialism.

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