Blanc, Louis

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Blanc, Louis

Louis Blanc (lwē bläN), 1811–82, French socialist politician and journalist and historian. In his noted Organisation du travail (1840, tr. Organization of Work, 1911), he outlined his ideal of a new social order based on the principle "Let each produce according to his aptitudes … let each consume according to his need." He advocated, as a first stage in the achievement of this goal, a system of national workshops (ateliers sociaux) controlled by workingmen with the support of the state. He attacked the Louis Philippe government in Histoire de dix ans (5 vol., 1841–44, tr. The History of Ten Years, 1830–1840, 1844–45). As a member of the provisional government of 1848 he insisted on the establishment of the social workshops, but the plan was sabotaged by other leaders of the government. Implicated in the subsequent insurrection of the workers, Blanc fled to England, where he remained until 1871. While in exile he wrote the 13-volume Histoire de la Révolution française (1847–62), in which his admiration of Jacobinism was manifest. After his return to France, he became (1871) a member of the national assembly and was later a leader of the left in the chamber of deputies. Blanc's ideas, which Marx labeled "utopian socialism," influenced the thought of later political thinkers, especially Ferdinand Lassalle and the German socialists.

See biography by L. A. Loubère (1961); D. C. McKay, The National Workshops (1933); C. Landaur, European Socialism (1959).

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