The Civil War in France: The Paris Commune

The Civil War in France: The Paris Commune

The Civil War in France: The Paris Commune

The Civil War in France: The Paris Commune


On the working-class response to the Franco-Prussian War, 1870-71, and the lessons of the Commune. A new edition with supplementary material by N. Fedorovsky providing background on the European scene before and after Marx wrote this essay.


I did not anticipate that I would be asked to prepare a new edition of the Address of the General Council of the International on The Civil War in France, and to write an introduction to it. Therefore I can only touch briefly here on the most important points.

I am prefacing the longer work mentioned above by the two shorter Addresses of the General Council on the Franco-Prussian War. In the first place, because the second of these, which itself cannot be fully understood without the first, is referred to in The Civil War. But also because these two Addresses, likewise drafted by Marx, are, no less than The Civil War, outstanding examples of the author's remarkable gift, first proved in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, for grasping clearly the character, the import, and the necessary consequences of great historical events, at a time when these events are still in process before our eyes, or have only just taken place. And, finally, because we in Germany are still having to endure the consequences which Marx prophesied would follow from these events.

Has that which was declared in the first Address not come to pass: that if Germany's defensive war against Louis Bonaparte degenerated into a war of conquest against the French people, all the misfortunes which befell Germany after the so-called wars of liberation would revive again with renewed intensity? Have we not had a further twenty years of Bismarcks' government, the Exceptional Law and the anti-socialist campaign taking the place of the prosecutions of "demagogues," with the same arbitrary police measures and with literally the same staggering interpretations of the law?

And has not the prophecy been proved to the letter that the . . .

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