‘The June Days,’ (1848) by Karl Marx from Karl Marx: Man, Thinker, and Revolutionist; a Symposium. International Publishers, New York. 1927.

‘The June Days,’ (1848) by Karl Marx from Karl Marx: Man, Thinker, and Revolutionist; a Symposium edited by David Riazanov, Translations by Eden and Paul Cedar. International Publishers, New York. 1927.

The Parisian workers have been crushed by superior force, crushed but not destroyed; they have been defeated, and yet it is their opponents who are really vanquished. The momentary triumph of brute force has been purchased by the annihilation of all the disappointments and chimeras of the February revolution, by the liquidation of all the old republican parties, by the segregation of the French people into two nations — the nation of the owners and the nation of the workers. Henceforward the tricolour republic can have but one colour, the colour of the beaten, the colour of blood. It has become a Red republic.

There is no one with an established republican reputation, no one either from the group of the nationalists or from the group of the reformers, on the side of the people. With no other leaders and no other means than insurrection itself, the people withstood the united strength of the bourgeoisie and the soldiery for a longer period than any French dynasty folly equipped with military apparatus was ever able to withstand the bourgeoisie. To dispel the last illusions of the people, to bring about a complete break with the past, it was necessary that the customary enthusiastic supporters of French insurrectionists — the bourgeois youth, the pupils at the Polytechnic School, the wearers of three-cornered hats — should this time side with the oppressors. It was necessary that the medical students of the University of Paris should refuse their aid to wounded plebeians. Science does not exist for the help of these common folk, for the help of those who have committed the infamous, the unspeakable crime of fighting for their own hands instead of splintering a lance for Louis Philippe or Monsieur Marrast.

Barricades rue Saint-Maur. Avant l’attaque, 25 juin 1848

The Executive Committee, the last official vestige of the February revolution, has vanished like a mist-wraith. Lamartine’s fire-balls have transformed themselves into Cavaignac’s war-rockets.

The fraternity of the two opposing classes (one of which exploits the other), this fraternity which in February was inscribed in huge letters upon all the avenues of Paris, upon all the prisons and all the barracks — its true and unsophisticated and prosaic expression is civil war, civil war in its most terrible form, the war between capital and labour. On the evening of June 25th, this fraternity was flaming from all the windows of Paris when the Paris of the bourgeoisie was illuminated while the Paris of the proletariat was burning and bleeding and lamenting.

Plan des barricades élevées à Paris pendant l’insurrection de juin 1848.

Fraternity lasted just so long as the interests of the bourgeoisie could fraternize with the interests of the proletariat. Pedants of the old revolutionary traditions of 1793; socialist systematises who begged the bourgeoisie to grant favours to the people, who were allowed to preach lengthy sermons, and were permitted to compromise themselves for just so long a time as was needed for the lulling of the proletarian lion to sleep; republicans who wanted the whole of the old bourgeois system, minus the crowned figurehead; legitimists who did not wish to doff their livery, but merely to change its cut — these had been the people’s allies in the February revolution! Yet what the people instinctively hated was not Louis Philippe, but the crowned dominion of a class, capital enthroned. Nevertheless, magnanimous as ever, it fancied it had destroyed its own enemies when it had merely overthrown the enemy of its enemies, the common enemy of them all.

The February revolution was a decorous revolution, a revolution made by general acclaim, because the oppositions which in it exploded against the monarchy were undeveloped, and slumbered harmoniously side by side; because the social struggle which formed its real background, had as yet won only an airy existence, the existence of a phrase or a word. The June revolution is an indecorous, a detestable revolution because in its substance has taken the place of phrase, because the establishment of the republic disclosed the head of the monster when it removed the sparkling guise of the crown.

Jean-Paul Laurens – Proclamation de la République le 24 février 1848.

“Order” was Guizot’s watchword. “Order reigns in Warsaw,” said Sebastiani, the Guizotin, when the Poles were crushed by the Russians. “Order!” shouts Cavaignac, the brutal echo of the French National Assembly and the republican bourgeoisie. “Order!” rattles his grape-shot, as it mows down the proletariat.

Not one of the countless revolutions made by the French bourgeoisie since 1789 was an attack upon order, for they left untouched the dominion of class, the slavery of the workers, bourgeois order — while changing again and again the political form of this dominion and this slavery. But June laid hands upon bourgeois order. Woe, therefore, to June!

Under the Provisional Government it was the proper thing, nay it was essential, it was both politic and agreeable, to tell the “generous-hearted” workers (who, as thousands of official posters declared, “had placed three months’ poverty at the disposal of the republic”) that the February revolution had been made in their interest, or in their interest above all. But after the meeting of the National Assembly, a more prosaic tone made itself heard. All that was now necessary was, as Monsieur Trelat phrased it, to get labour back to its old conditions. In a word, the workers had taken up arms in February in order to involve themselves in an industrial crisis!

Jean-Jacques Champin La Place de la Bastille et la Barricade de l’entrée du faubourg Saint-Antoine, le 25 juin 1848.

The business of the National Assembly is to make February as if it had never been, at any rate as far as the workers are concerned, for these are to be forced back into the old conditions. But the Assembly finds the task beyond its powers, for no more successfully than a king can a parliament say to a universal industrial crisis, “Thus far and no farther!” Even the National Assembly, in its brutal eagerness to have done with the tiresome February verbiage, failed to hit upon the one measure that was practicable upon the basis of the old relationships. It conscripted Parisian workers of ages from seventeen to twenty-five into the army, or flung them out on to the pavement: it ordered foreigners out of Paris, exiled them to Sologne, without even paying them what was due to them up to the day of dismissal; it provisionally guaranteed grown-up Parisians a bare subsistence in workshops organised in military fashion, on the proviso that they should take no part in public meetings, that is on the proviso that they should cease to be republicans. Sentimental rhetoric after the February revolution did not suffice, nor yet the brutal activity of the legislature after May 15th. The issue must be decided practically. “Did you, the rabble, make the February revolution for yourselves, or for us?” The bourgeoisie propounded the question in such a way that it could only be answered in June with grape-shot and barricades.

Nevertheless, as one of the representatives of the people said on June 25th, the National Assembly is stupor-stricken. It is stupefied when question and answer drench the streets of Paris with blood; the representatives are stupefied, some of them because their illusions go up in gunpowder smoke, others because they cannot understand how the people can dare to defend its own most immediate interests. Nothing, in the view of these latter, but Russian money, English money, the Bonapartist eagle, the monarchist lily, or some other amulet, can account for so strange a phenomenon! Both sections of the Assembly feel, however, that between them and the people a great gulf is fixed; neither dares to raise a voice on the people’s behalf.

On the barricades on the Rue Soufflot, Paris, 25 June 1848 (1848-49), by Horace Vernet.

As soon as the stupor has passed off, fury takes its place; and, with good reason, the majority expresses its fierce contempt for the pitiful Utopians and hypocrites who perpetrate the anachronism of continuing to speak of fraternity. The essential thing is that we should hear no more of this phrase, or of the illusions it harbours in its ambiguous bosom! When La Rochejaquelin, legitimist and chivalrous enthusiast, railed against the infamous way in which people were shouting “Vae victis” (Woe to the vanquished), the majority of the Assembly became affected with St. Vitus’ dance, as if bitten by a tarantula. They cried “Woe to the workers” in order to hide that they themselves, and no others, were in truth the vanquished; that either they themselves must perish, or the republic. That was why they cried so convulsively: “Long live the republic!”

Are we to be led astray because this abyss has opened at our feet? Are we to succumb to the illusion that struggles concerning the form of the State are void of content or meaning?

Ernest Meissonier, “Remembrance of Civil War, 1848 (The Barricade, rue de la Mortellerie, June 1848)”

Only weaklings and cowards can moot this question. The clashes that spontaneously arise out of the conditions of bourgeois society must be fought to the bitter end; they cannot be conjured out of existence. The best form of State is the one in which social oppositions are not slurred over; the one in which they are not forcibly, that is to say, artificially and no more than seemingly, fettered. The best form of State is one in which these conflicts secure free expression, and are thus resolved.

We shall be asked : “Have you no tears, no sighs, no words of sympathy, for the victims of the popular frenzy; are you indifferent to the losses of the National Guard, the Mobile Guard, the Republican Guard, the Line?”

The State will care for the widows and orphans of these men. They will be honoured in decrees: they will be given a splendid public funeral; the official press will proclaim their memories immortal; the champions of the reaction will extol them from the east of Europe to the west.

But the plebeians, pinched by hunger, reviled in the newspapers, neglected by the surgeons, stigmatized by all “honest” folk as thieves and incendiaries and convicts, their wives and their children plunged in greater misery than ever, the best among the survivors transported — is not the democratic press fully entitled to crown their sad brows with laurels?

Karl Marx: Man, Thinker, and Revolutionist; a Symposium edited by David Riazanov, Translations by Eden and Paul Cedar. International Publishers, New York. 1927.

Contents: Introduction by D. Ryazanoff, Karl Marx by Friedrich Engels, Engels’s Letter to Sorge concerning the Death of Marx, Speech by Engels at Marx’s Funeral, Karl Marx by Eleanor Marx, The June Days by Karl Marx, The Revolution of 1848 and the Proletariat A Speech by Karl Marx, Karl Marx by G. Plehanoff, Karl Marx and Metaphor by Franz Mehring, Stagnation and Progress of Marxism by Rosa Luxemburg, Marxism by Nikolai Lenin, Darwin and Marx by K. Timiryazeff, Personal Recollections of Karl Marx  by Paul Lafargue, A Worker’s Memories of Karl Marx  by Friedrich Lessner, Marx and the Children by Wilhelm Liebknecht, Sunday Outings on the Heath by Wilhelm Liebknecht, Hyndman on Marx by Nikolai Lenin, Karl Marx’s “Confessions” by D. Ryazanoff.

PDF of book: https://archive.org/download/in.ernet.dli.2015.54746/2015.54746.Karl-Marx-Man-Thinker-And-Revolutionist_text.pdf

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