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XV Preface Volume 22 of the Collected Works of Marx and Engels contains works written between the latter half of July 1870 and the end of October 1871. In this relatively brief period there occurred the FrancoPrussian war of 1870-71 and what Lenin described as "the greatest working-class uprising of the 19th century" (Collected Works, Vol. 41, p. 113), the proletarian revolution of March 18, 1871 in Paris, during which a working-class state—the Paris Commune— was set up for the first time in history. These events arose from the socio-political and revolutionary crisis that had been building up in Europe for some years. The Paris Commune was a great victory for the working class in the struggle against capitalist exploitation and political domination by the bourgeoisie. The lessons of the Commune threw into sharp relief the further tasks and prospects of the working-class movement. On the basis of this experience Marx and Engels significantly enriched the theory of scientific communism. Many works of Marx and Engels in this volume directly reflect their practical activities in the International Working Men's Association (the International). In the conditions created by the Franco-Prussian war the General Council of the International had to arm the proletariat, especially the French and the German, with an understanding of their class objectives and prevent the wave of chauvinism that surged through both the belligerent countries from swamping the working-class movement. This was a test that the International passed with flying colours. It succeeded in raising the most advanced workers in its ranks from spontaneous actions and an XVI Preface instinctive feeling of class brotherhood to awareness of the need for international solidarity and unity of action by the proletariat as a whole. The volume begins with the First Address of the General Council of the International Working Men's Association on the Franco-Prussian War (July 1870) written by Marx. This document contains the fundamental propositions of Marxism on the attitude of the working class to militarism and war. Marx maintains that the aggressive wars were unleashed by the ruling classes to overcome internal crises and to crush the revolutionary movement, above all, that of the proletariat. He analyses the development of the international contradictions in Europe that led to the Franco-Prussian war and sets out the specific tasks for the workers of the various countries in the current situation. Marx exposes the Bonapartist government in France, which began the war in the name of preserving and strengthening the empire, reinforcing its dominant role in Europe, and preventing the unification of Germany. On Germany's side the war was, in its initial stage, defensive (see this volume, p. 5). At the same time Marx shows the aggressive role played by the ruling circles of Prussia in its preparation. He makes a clear distinction between the German people's national interests and the dynastic, rapacious aims pursued by the Prussian Junkers and the German bourgeoisie. Marx warned the German workers that a war led by the Prussian militarists could turn into an aggressive war against the French people: "If the German working class allow the present war to lose its strictly defensive character and to degenerate into a war against the French people, victory or defeat will prove alike disastrous" (this volume, p. 6). Arguing that the military defeat of the Bonapartist empire would usher in the regeneration of France and remove one of the main obstacles to the unification of Germany, Marx supports the French members of the International in their campaign against the regime of Napoleon III. The Address helped the German Social-Democrats to see how aggressive the policy of Bismarck's Prussia actually was and how incompatible with the German people's legitimate national aspirations. Marx and Engels believed that objectively Germany's achievement of national unity would .be in the interests of the German working class and would create favourable conditions for its organisation, which, in turn, would help to consolidate the whole international proletariat. The Address set the task of strengthening the international Preface XVII solidarity of the working class, especially in the belligerent countries. Marx gave a high appraisal of the anti-militarist activity of the members of the International in both Germany and France and saw this as a sign that "the alliance of the working classes of all countries will ultimately kill war" (this volume, p. 7). The development of the workers' international brotherhood despite the chauvinistic propaganda of the...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781909831322
Related ISBN
9780853154433
MARC Record
OCLC
899267023
Pages
819
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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