First International and Paris Commune - Civil Services Preparation Online! UPSC & IAS Study Material

First International and Paris Commune

by Devender

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"Socialism stepped on the stage of history as a world movement" was said when International Working Men's Association was formed. This association was also known as "First International".

First International

It was formed in 1864 in a meeting held in London. This meeting was attended was delegates from Britain, Spain, France, Germany, Poland, and Switzerland. The principles and aims of the First International were taken from Marx's draft "An address to the working class" along with some general rules. The chief aim was to abolish all class rules totally.

The freedom of the working class should be won by the working class only. The International took the slogan from the communist manifesto, "Proletarians of all lands, unite".

  • Impact of First International
  • Since the time it was formed, governments of all countries have considered it a threat and tried to end it.

  • It was declared illegal in most countries
  • It had a huge impact on many worker's movements in Europe and North America
  • It created international bonds between workers of different countries
  • Although, it didn't have many members but most leaders feared First International
  • An example of the International's influence was seen at the time of war between Prussia and France in 1870. The war was condemned by both German and French workers. The branches of International in Germany and France even sent good wishes to each other.

    A party named as Social Democratic party in Germany wrote a message to French workers which said "we shall never forget that the workers of all nations are our friends and the despots of all nations are our enemies".

    France lost the war and Germany wanted to take Alsace-Lorraine from France. The German workers started protests in various cities against it. The government called it treason and arrested all the worker leaders.

    The Paris Commune

    The France and Prussia war led to an uprising of workers in Paris. French army lost the battle in only a few weeks and the French emperor Louis Bonaparte was taken prisoner. A new government came into power and declared France a republic country.

    This administration was overwhelmed by the propertied classes and had consented to Bismarck's expressions for a truce including the acquiescence of Paris, cession of Alsace-Lorraine, and installment of a colossal war payment.

  • Paris workers considered government surrender as untrustworthy and refused to surrender
  • Government asked Germans to crush Paris
  • Workers of Paris created a council known as the Paris Commune
  • It represented the workers and lower-middle classes of Paris
  • It soon drowned in blood
  • The French government along with Germans attacked Paris with a huge army
  • Battle led to the termination of Commune
  • French Government called it a victory of order, justice, and civilization

  • Death of First International
  • The end of the Commune brought many attempts to end the International too in almost all the countries of Europe.

  • The International supported the Commune and later provided refuge to people from Paris
  • It still gained power in many nations despite the end of the Commune
  • It started collapsing due to internal differences
  • Due to different aims and methods, it split up in 1872 and then dissolved in 1876

After that, the socialist parties started growing in many parts of Europe and they soon gathered to form another International after a few years.

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