The Civil War in France
The notebook with newspaper excerpts from March 18 to May 1, is extant it was published for the first time in the original languages in: Civil War, Archives , Vol. Marx also drew valuable information from the letters of active participants and prominent figures of the Paris Commune, such as Leo Frankel, Eugene Varlin, Auguste Serraillier, Yelisaveta Tornanovskaya, as well as from the letters of Paul Lafargue, Pyotr Lavrov and others. Originally he intended to write an address to the workers of Paris, as he declared at the meeting of the General Council on March 28, His motion was unanimously approved.
The further developments in Paris led him, however, to the conclusion that an appeal should be addressed to proletarians of the world. Marx was entrusted with drafting the address.
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He started his work after April 18 and continued throughout May. Originally he wrote the First and Second drafts of The Civil War in France as preparatory variants for the work, and then set about making up the final text of the address. He did most of the work on the First and Second drafts and the final version roughly between May 6 and On May 30, , two days after the last barricade had fallen in Paris, the General Council unanimously approved the text of The Civil War in France, which Marx had read out.
The Civil War in France was first published in London on about June 13, in English, as a pamphlet of 35 pages in 1, copies. Since the first edition quickly sold out, the second English edition of 2, copies was published at a lower price, for sale to workers. In this edition [i. Changes were made in the list of General Council members who signed the Address: the names of Lucraft and Odger were deleted, as they had expressed disagreement with the Address in the bourgeois press and had withdrawn from the General Council, and the names of the new members of the General Council were added.
In August , the third English edition of The Civil War in France came out, in which Marx eliminated the inaccuracies of the previous editions.
It was repeatedly published in subsequent years. Engels made several insignificant alterations in the text. By the fifth anniversary of the Paris Commune, in , a new German edition was put out, with minor corrections introduced in the text.
In , when preparing a jubilee German edition of The Civil War in France to mark the 20th anniversary of the Paris Commune, Engels once again edited the text of his translation. He also wrote an introduction to this edition, emphasising the historical significance of the experience of the Paris Commune, and its theoretical generalisation by Marx in The Civil War in France, and also giving additional information on the activities of the Communards from among the Blanquists and Proudhonists.
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A separate French edition appeared in Brussels in ; it was edited by Marx, who made numerous changes in the proofs and retranslated many passages. The first Russian edition of The Civil War in France, which served as the basis for a number of subsequent printed and hectographed publications, appeared in Zurich in The second edition was brought out under the editorship of Lenin by the same publishing house, also in during the first Russian revolution.
When editing the translation of The Civil War in France, at the request of the publishers, Lenin introduced precise economic and political terminology into the text, eliminated numerous mistakes and inaccuracies of the previous edition of and restored those parts of the text deleted by Tsarist censorship.
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In this volume [i. The most essential textual differences are given in the footnotes. References to the sources quoted or mentioned in the text are given according to these excerpts.
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In a number of cases concerning decrees and other documents of the Paris Commune, a reference is also given to the publications of the official organs of the Commune. The Paris Commune of was the result of the world's first working class revolution. It survived for only two months but it was the most democratic and liberating government the world had seen up till that point.
It offered a glimpse of a model of democracy that goes beyond the limited parliamentary democracy which is the best we can expect under capitalism. Marx did not pluck a theory of what real democracy would look like from thin air - he learnt it from the concrete example of the Paris Commune. It is both an impressive, succinct history of the Paris Commune and a powerful polemic against capitalism. In the Franco-Prussian War had left Paris barraged and besieged. The gap between rich and poor widened alarmingly.
The Commune arose from a disgust at a bourgeois government that had overthrown the empire of Napoleon III but had delivered nothing for workers or the poor - the republican values of "liberty, equality and fraternity" had not been met for the majority of French people. The social make up of Paris at the time included a growing working class and mass unemployment.
Around 60 percent of Parisians couldn't even afford to pay for their own funerals. The Commune achieved more in 72 days than most reformist governments do in years of office. Thousands were pulled out of poverty. The Commune abolished conscription. There were huge gains for women who were granted the right to divorce on demand and public canteens were set up.
The civil war in France
But as well as these gains, Marx recognised that the Commune represented a new form of democracy - a democracy that belonged to workers. He said that this was a "working class government The Paris Commune established radical democratic principles. All public officials were elected and subject to recall. They were to be paid no more than 6, francs, an average workers' wage, so there was no interest in misrepresentation or corruption. Marx writes that "instead of deciding once in three or six years which member of the ruling class was to misrepresent the people in parliament, universal suffrage was to serve the people".
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The Paris Commune was a living example of what Marx meant by the dictatorship of the proletariat - not a new tyranny over the workers, but the collective democratic rule of workers over their exploiters. In the Commune it was workers who held the reins of political and social power. But, of course, the lessons of the Commune played a crucial role in the development of Marx's theory of the state.