Woe to the Vanguished !

In the early years of the Bolshevik régime Lenin and his associates constantly referred to the Commune of Paris of 1871. They eulogised the defeated Communards and pilloried the murderous victors as examples of Capitalist ferocity that will never be forgotten.

Recent events in Budapest bring the Paris Commune to mind again on account of the similariities between the two tragedies.

In September, 1870, after the defeat of the French armies and the capture of Napoleon, Paris was invested by the Germans and a four months siege commenced. In Paris a Republic was proclaimed and the National Assembly, headed by Thiers, appointed themselves as the Provisional Government and declared their intention of defending Paris to the end. Instead of doing so, however, they were privately parleying with the German Government, arranging for peace terms, including occupation of Paris by the Germans.

As a new elected Government gave no practical sign of their claim to defend Paris the Parisians became restive and eventually an angry mob invaded the Town Hall, frightening the Government with their conflicting demands; some wanted a Committee of Public Safety, others a Revolutionary Commune similar to the Commune of 1793 in the first Revolution.

Eventually the Government left Paris and took up their residence at Versailles under the protection of the German Army. In Paris delegates were elected by universal suffrage and a Commune was formed in March, 1871, for the purpose of defending the city and bringing about a number of reforms in the administration of affairs.

The newly appointed Government at Versailles then arranged with the German Government for the release of a portion of the French Army to be used for the capitulation of Paris. The German Government was a willing party to the proposal of Versailles because, under the peace terms, Germany was to get a huge war indemnity and the rich provinces of Alsace and Lorraine. Without the capitulation of Paris the peace terms could not be implemented. So the German Army were cynical onlookers, and held the side-lines, whilst the French Army, smouldering from recent defeats, was let loose upon its fellow countrymen.

The Communards, or as many called themselves, the Communalists, were a mixture of many outlooks; from simple nationalism to anarchism and the supporters of the International Working Men’s Association. The defence was badly organised, many mistakes were made, but the self sacrificing and heroic resistance of the people of Paris was almost unbelievable. When the ramparts were overwhelmed they fought from street to street in despairing heroism, sacrificing their lives for their beliefs.

When it was all over the Versailles Government entered upon an orgy of slaughter that had rarely been witnessed before. We will quote a description from a writer who was not favourably disposed to risings like the Commune, Godfrey Elton. This is what he writes in his book The Revolutionary Idea in France 1789-1871 (Edward Arnold and Co., 1923).

“By the 28th [May] all was over: guns, cartridge boxes and uniforms littered the gutters of the poorer quarters, while in the doorways sad, stony-eyed women waited chin on hand for the men who would not come back: and elsewhere more elegant Parisiennes could be seen trilling with excited laughter as they raised the covering with the tips of their parasols and peered at the faces of the dead. The vengeance of the Party of Order was comprehensive and very dreadful, more dreadful than the vengeance of the Revolution had ever been, even in 1793; the shooting of men, women and children in hundreds and without trial was a massacre, not an execution, and not a few of the victims were buried before they were dead.
“All over Paris huge piles of corpses encumbered the streets and poisoned the air. The cemeteries of Paris could not receive a tithe of the butchered. Enormous ditches at Père Lachaise, Montmartre and Mont-Pamasse and the trenches of the first siege at Charonne and elsewhere absorbed the unhonoured corpses, while women, widows and mothers, peered hopelessly among them for the dead that had been theirs. When the task of burial became too onerous they were burnt in the open air. It seems probable that 20,000 were killed during the few weeks immediately following the victory. The figure is unparalleled; in modern European history almost unimaginable. And the martyrdom of the prisoners was more dreadful than that of the executed; there was probably between 40,000 and 50,000 of them; and among them more than a thousand women and seventy children under fourteen ; and the barbarity of their treatment can only be matched in the East; one must look to the Black Hole of Calcutta or to some of the Armenian massacres for an approach to the brutal savagery of the conquerers ” (pages 171-172).

There is much more, but we have quoted enough to give a picture of what happened during and after the Paris rising. Many of the Parisians made their escape, some to England.

Now let us come up to date, to what happened in Budapest. Here again the mass of the people rose in revolt against their Government and the presence of foreign troops—the Russians. Here also a people of mixed outlooks were united in demanding the overthrow of the existing Government. The Government called in the aid of the Russians but there was a difference this time owing to changed circumstances. Whereas the Germans in 1871 were content to hold the ring, for the time being at least, the Russians came in with massed tanks and engaged in an orgy of slaughter, instructed by the Government that had claimed unswerving sympathy for the Communards of old. At the time of writing the fighting appears to be almost over but the pursuit and hanging of the vanquished continues with unabated brutality, and the refugees are giving their pitiful stories to the world. How deeply the Hungarians felt is shown by their attitude “Victory or death, bloody struggle or extinction.”

In Karl Marx’s book on the Commune, The Civil War in France, he concludes with these words:

“Workingmen’s Paris, with its commune, will be forever celebrated as the glorious harbinger of a new society. Its martyrs are enshrined in the great heart of the working class. Its exterminators, history has already nailed to that eternal pillory from which all the prayers of their priests will not avail to redeem them.”

The early Bolsheviks glorified the Commune but the wheel has turned full circle and the glorifiers are now the damned, painted with the same red brush as the exterminators of the Commune. We can also say of them that history has nailed them to an eternal pillory from which all their apologists will not avail to redeem them.

Working men and women who have mistakenly given their support to these false Communist Parties should take thought of this historical parallel and shake themselves free from their clay-footed idols. Stalin is dead but the brutal fake Communism continues.


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