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(en) France, UCL AL #312 - Special file Paris 1871, The Parisian AIT in dispersed order (ca, de, it, fr, pt)[machine translation]

Date Sat, 27 Mar 2021 10:57:40 +0300

More than a quarter of those elected to the Commune come from the International Association of Workers (the "First International"). But, their views are far from unified, and their political impetus is not coordinated. ---- "The battle for Paris is over.[...]But the struggle continues. An occult and collective power[...]which today calls itself the International Association of Workers calls more openly than ever on the proletarians of all States to take up another arms course." ---- The plethora of anti-communal literature is characterized by this imaginary of the plot which lends to an "occult power", necessarily foreign, the responsibility of the insurrection. The reality is quite different. Engels noted this paradox that the Commune was spiritually "daughter of the International although the International did not move a finger to do so".

Weakened by several trials and major strikes in 1869-1870, the AIT was not at its best when the war of 1870 broke out. If Parisian memberships increase after the fall of the Empire thanks to the rallying of the Blanquists, the divisions are exacerbated in parallel.

Among the French founders of the AIT, Tolain and Friborg departed from it in 1869, when the Basel Congress adopted collectivist principles. These "narrow Proudhonians" then rally the party of order, and Friborg even denounces "the crimes committed in Paris by a handful of wretches, rejects of all parties and all social classes". But another proudhonian of the AIT, Pierre Denis, friend of Jules Vallès, gives the decentralizing and federalist tone of the Commune in the "Declaration to the French people" of April 19, 1871.

Against the Committee of Public Safety
In the turmoil which sees the Commune arise, the Parisian AIT is rather sluggish, and it is more on an individual basis that its militants rally the Central Committee of the National Guard or the Republican Central Committee of the twenty arrondissements. But the Parisian AIT is getting back on its feet in view of the March 26 elections to the Council of the Municipality. Its manifesto supports the "communal revolution" which must "provide each citizen with the means to defend their rights[...]and to determine the gradual application of social reforms".It obtains 23 elected out of 92. Among them, Eugène Varlin, Albert Theisz or the Hungarian Léo Frankel carry high the social aspect of the Municipality - in particular with the decree aiming at the resumption of the vacant workshops by workers associations.

At the beginning of May, we find the most notable elements of the AIT - except almost all the Blanquists - in opposition to the Committee of Public Safety, against which they defend revolutionary action without recourse to dictatorship. Bakunin evokes their "excessively difficult situation" : "Not feeling sufficiently supported by the great mass of the Parisian population - the organization of the International Association, itself very imperfect, moreover, hardly embracing a few thousands of individuals - they had to support a daily struggle against the Jacobin majority."

While behind the scenes his fight against Bakunin was already engaged, Karl Marx wrote in June 1871, in London, the Address of the General Council of the AIT, passed down to posterity under the name of The Civil War in France. This panegyric, in which Marx himself criticizes the state principle, will largely contribute to the influence of the Commune within the international workers' movement.

Mathieu Leonard

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