Author’s Note: This article and its final quote are dedicated to the memory of Andre Vltchek: A life time of dedication to the cause. Rest in Peace, Compadre!
¨What is certain is that I, myself, am not a Marxist¨
– Karl Marx.
Karl Heinrich Marx is presumably pounding wildly at the coffin lid of his grave. His name has again been prostituted, his decades of fastidious research metastasised and his resultant carefully articulated socio-political theorems, writings and books deliberately misconstrued by a century of societal demagogues who, as they do today, divisively take his name in vain.
These self-anointed ¨Marxist” leaders of the post-19th century are not and have rarely ever been true Marxists. They have always been opportunists. Had history provided him the chance never possible, Marx would have despised Lenin, viciously condemned Mao, thrown the gauntlet of his entire body of work in the face of Stalin, and simply dismissed the purported American revolutionary groups like Black Lives Matter, Antifa, the Proud Boys and their ilk as the ethnic ¨Brown Shirts¨ that they are today.
No, these groups are not Marxists. When judged correctly within the great history of the carefully articulated rise of 19th Century socialist theory they are instead so illiterate as to Marx, that they likely spell his name using the eighth consonant and in the plural.
With this bastardization of a real revolutionary they have functionally reduced a life’s work to a sad Faustian irony across the streets of America. These retarded Marxists are, once correctly defined, just as unwittingly Bakuninists.
Marx learned to detest the Bakuninists. He proved with his research and within the history of the revolution of his own time that this form of violent revolution was doomed to failure. Marx documented that destruction. It is doomed now, just when America needs a return to actual Marxism more than ever .
For, in a real populist revolution, Bakuninists are just plain bad for business.
¨Marx was right, socialism works, it is just that he had the wrong species. ¨
-E. O. Wilson
The previous seven-decade indoctrination of America followed now by the renewed daily propagation of the Red Scare has been utilized too easily by the Capitalist world to demonize Marx and minimize his posthumous victory. Using this incorrect correlation of revisionist American history combined with the purported 1989 victory of Capitalism over Communism, Socialism, and the USSR we are thus told that Marx has also been forever defeated. The rise of 20th-century Marxist socialism, however, does indeed thrive today in many nations and proves that western reports of the death of Marx “have been greatly exaggerated.”
This capitalist crowing has further served to ignore a worldwide successful legacy of Marxism sadly cast aside in a woe-be-gone America: an America whose once vibrant socialist pendulum swing to the left during the ‘60s returned its arc in the ’80s instead as a sword of Damocles, now far too close to the jugular of its own society.
20th-century revolutionary theorist Chalmers Johnson’s 1962 book, ‘’Revolutionary Change’’ stands in an honoured place alongside the research of Marx. Although not a Marxist, Johnson agreed with Marx in saying,
“One common method to retain power is to co-opt opposition leadership.’’
This one succinct sentence stands as an indictment of today’s self-titled Marxist groups and politicians and their seeming quest to accomplish nothing. Except for destruction.
To understand the differences between the concept of methodical revolution versus the immediate gratification of a far more easily-if not lazily– practised doctrine of pure violence, we must look back to a century and a half ago when two men exemplified this same polarity and were cast together during one so hopeful, but predictably failed revolutionary moment in time.
Karl Marx, Mikhail Bakunin and the Paris Commune of 1871.
Marx died on March 14, 1883. On that day Lenin was merely thirteen years of age and yet to digest Marx, the man whose works, he too, would prostitute. The other two great progenitors of bastardized Marxism were Joseph Stalin, who at that same moment was only four, and Mao Zedong, who was yet to be born. To begin this very brief clarification of Marx this distinction is important since the modern mind has been conditioned to link Marxism and Marx personally and incorrectly with the forms of communism fabricated by these three nefarious authoritarians.
These authoritarians used the words and writings of Marx, the long-deceased but greatest champion of the empowerment of the working man, for personal political power, not the improvement of the societies they came to master. Marx who detested authoritarian rule and, in his life, aligned himself with, and wrote in support of established anti-authoritarian revolutionary groups of his time, would have been aghast at the eventual outcome spawned by these men who used his name and his works to achieve supreme power over their people for what was in effect a return then to today’s Capitalist enslavement.
Sadly, in a time when revolution is again of utmost necessity, America’s false Marxist prophets attempt this again.
Similarly incorrect in its connection, when Marx was born on May 5, 1818, the concept and ideology termed “Communism”- as separate from Socialism- was already firmly developing within other progressive groups of that time before Marx. Unsurprisingly, many groups had an existing religious foundation such as the 18th century Shakers under Joseph Meachem. The origin of the term, “communism” is attributed to the early 19th-century theologian John Goodwyn Barmby, who felt that Jesus was the very first communist.
This distinction debunks chronologically the oft-repeated refrain that Marx was the founder of Communism- the type manifested by Lenin, Stalin and Mao- and by extension, and the eventual collapse of Russian communism, wrong in all that he wrote.
But Marx, the man, possessed a sincerity, dedication, and studiousness that those who ultimately bastardize his name do not care to duplicate, much less properly appreciate in their quests for power; the power of unchecked Capitalism which Marx detested to his core, writing,
“Capitalism is dead labour which vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labor…and lives the more, the more it sucks.”
As an academic dedicated to the goals of revolution few in history ever immersed themselves so fully in this quest to articulate revolution. For Marx knew that buried in the libraries, dusty books, newspapers, statistical archives, and forgotten historical records was an equation- a historical equation- one vital to that goal and, more importantly, the quintessential understanding and timing of successful populist revolution. Engels bolstered this evaluation, saying:
¨For Marx science was a historically moving, revolutionary force. The work of bringing about the downfall of capitalist society and the state institutions that were its creations….to make [the proletariat] conscious of its situation and its needs and conscious of the conditions for its emancipation- that was his real life’s work. ¨
Marx himself assessed the challenges of the academic pursuits required of articulated revolution, saying:
“There is no royal road to science, and only those who do not dread the fatiguing climb of its steep paths have a chance of gaining its luminous summits.”
Marx never saw his life’s work bear the fruit of his masterful capitalist evaluations that he left to others in Das Capital or The Communist Manifesto, however posthumously no other author in modern history made such a mark with his works by having them pilfered from the grave.
Marx, the social scientist, often tired, often ill and almost always in poverty, lived ’till he died by his words, words that few managed to master, none managed to equal and most used incoherently.
Marx´s sincerity to this cause of revolution for the socially impoverished worker via careful research was shaped at an early age by his birth in Trier, of Prussian Germany, a township where the big business interests were predominantly Jewish. Although born Jewish himself Marx began his societal observations at an early age. Well before his research began, at just twenty-five Marx penned:
¨What is the worldly foundation of Jewry? Self-interest and the satisfying for practical wants. What is the worldly worshipping of the Jews? Huckstering. What is their worldly God? Money. The emancipation from Huckstering and money…. would be the real self-emancipation of our time. ¨
Indeed, few who have observed the horrors of post-WW II capitalism have been bold enough as Marx to so correctly define the modern capitalist affectation that is today better defined by this author as “Correctly Defining Modern Zionism,”. An ever-growing number of authors agree with Marx’s almost two centuries old -if not far-reaching- accusation. This can be applied to today’s Zionist or globalist business tactics: those that combine Jewish/Israeli/ Zionist political and societal influence, and today transcends all religious and moral obligations purely in favour of non-denominational greed.
Marx grew up in relative comfort, his father being a well-respected lawyer who eventually held a senior position in the Trier provincial court. Certainly, had Marx himself succumbed to these comforts he would have remained unknown. Instead, once married he and his family spent his life in relative poverty, at times almost destitute if not for the occasional remuneration for his writings, and charity of others, including his wealthy cohort Friedrich Engels.
None of this deterred Marx from his quest, nor his research, as he plied the libraries of the many nations which, due to his expanding reputation, he was forced to seek refuge in. For Marx knew that buried deep within revolutionary history and the breadth of the economic and social data of Europe’s archives was an equation borne of definitions that could be distilled into the written word, words for the masses of the proletariat to chew on to the bone: The equation of successful systemic revolution.
Contrast this sincerity with the divisive mercenary faux-socialist Marxism of Black Lives Matter or Antifa who have been provided war chests reportedly in excess of $100 million and have accomplished absolutely zero politically, to say nothing of their inabilities to articulate real Marxist theory. They instead merely burn, loot and pillage the properties of their supposed constituencies on behalf of their untold Capitalist masters.
In the name of some kind of revolutionary balderdash American’s street Marxists of today are doomed and have alienated their cause from the general public – the proletariat– rather than unite it as one.
Yet, outrageously, they call themselves Marxists?
These malignancies have only used Marx as a recognizable brand name because of its effect on the dulled minds of the American masses who are already falsely indoctrinated to fear this one socialist demon. A name they too know too little about.
Worse, these black hearts use the name of Marx to legitimize their thus far scripted revolutionary failure. For, this rabble knows well that society will gladly approve of this failure merely because they fear that one brand name from rising-up once again.
Marx was already a strong student and in keeping with traditions of the time his father had decided for his son as to his formal education in studying law at the University of Bonn, Germany. However, the rapidly awakening Marx hungered for the cerebral political epicentre of the time, Berlin.
When Marx arrived in Bonn in 1836 political discourse was hot but underground due to the widespread use of informers who had sent many a ¨Burschenschafter¨ to prison merely for their views. Interestingly, the police predominantly left the university student ¨Korps¨ to their devices in the darkened back rooms of the many ‘’tavern clubs” of Bonn.
Political passions being so hot, it was not uncommon for passionate disagreement to result in one party throwing down the gauntlet and challenging the other to a duel, one that often resulted in death. For the hot-blooded Marx, and for his well-connected father who somehow managed to learn of most of his son´s secret exploits, this advent was indeed a possibility.
Marx´s first foray into participation in these groups was with the “Poet ´s Club¨ where his growing passion for theoretical political revolutionary debate- the nuances of which are utterly missing in America’s faux-protest movements today- finally had an outlet. On its own merits, which included Marx’s quick reputation as a passionate if not abrasive conceptual thinker, the Poet´s Club gained as a focal point within the underground scene in Bonn, so much so that the police, after the minutes of one meeting were appropriated to them by an informant, finally took severe notice. To his father, this, combined with the real threat of a duel, conspired to his not only giving Marx permission to leave for Berlin, but he also stated that it was now ¨his wish¨ that his son leave for Berlin at once.
No decision was more fateful in the life of this budding revolutionary.
Europe and particularly Berlin was, as today, rife with the conditions and repartee of revolution. So it was that in these times of underground protest movements many different political factions haunted the back alley pubs and coffee shop dark corners of the scene. Much of the discourse was in how to effectively overthrow the ¨absolutists¨ who had almost all the wealth, political power and connections to the thrones and dictators of Europe and Russia, the 1% of that time. To a growing number, there was but one possibility for real change and that was a populist revolution.
The concepts of revolution at this time were hotly debated as to which academic rendering would be successful and ultimately worthy of membership. This was a time without the distractions of the internet, radio or television and where the written word was king and only surpassed by passionate, articulate and well-reasoned oratory. To this Marx added his voice when he ultimately brought his growing passion and disgust of these absolutists with him to Berlin.
The predominant socio-political theorist at this time was Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel whose Hegelian Dialectic was the pre-eminent work and hotly debated by all. His philosophy was still in its prime and the fodder for the discussions, ¨and held sway more or less over the whole educated world.” The epicentre of that world was arguably Berlin, if not Paris. Here the split between the ¨right¨ and the ¨left¨ of the Young Hegelians was defined and redefined to a hair’s breadth within the many late-night drunken discussions thrashed out into the wee hours of many a soggy tongued morning.
The concepts and discussions of Hegel, then, were important to the development of Marx as a political theorist since it was the exacting differences that dissected Hegelism to its minutiae that honed his skills. Those discussions and arguments began to show Marx’s incredible mind for developed and informed political reasoning. This ability was possessed then by many but honed by Marx and many others: A cerebral skill that would have left today’s American Marxist whining and scratching at the pub door, trying to get in.
Thus, in Berlin was set in motion the development of this pragmatic revolutionary’s mind. Marx’s gift would next show itself on the streets and in the meeting halls across Europe and Britain as a new name entered the discussion along with Hegel in a manner that, as would soon be shown in history, did ultimately win the nightly, if not final historic revolutionary debate.
However, the quest and need for revolution at this time in history also had a very different ideologue, one who was the polar opposite of Marx but destined to become arguably as influential a personality. A man of the same exacting dedication and passion and similarly gifted in the articulation and oration of his very separate chosen form of revolution.
Unfortunately, this revolutionary was at that very moment languishing in the horrible draconian dungeons of Russia’s notorious “Peter and Paul” prison… for life.
However, this revolutionary was soon to escape.
‘’ I drink to the destruction of public order and the unleashing of evil
Passions.’’ –Mikhail Bakunin
Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin was absolutely not a Marxist…but he would have been the perfect namesake for America’s wannabe Marxist groups. But, Bakuninist just doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.
Like Marx, Bakunin was initially an ‘’enthusiastic Hegelian’’ on the left-hand side. His revolutionary zeal was also shown at an early age when he had deserted his infantry position on the polish front lines in 1835, after boldly resigning his commission directly to his commander in writing and heading for Germany. If apprehended he would have been shot.
In 1840 he too was drawn into the Berlin political movement after arriving to study philosophy at the university where he had many of the same teachers as Marx. His already bold condemnations of Russian absolutism quickly made him stand out within Berlin’s revolutionary banter.
Before the 20th century’s denouement of the craftsmanship of words, Bakunin, too, was a prodigious writer and skilled orator, but he was much different from Marx. Certainly, his written works were dwarfed in number and volume by Marx, but in oration, while Marx had an influence on the academic, Bakunin had the influence of words created by a man who had already suffered.
Wrote a Russian newspaper that covered his re-appearance at the Brussels congress of the First International in 1868:
‘As he walked up the steps to the platform with his heavy peasant gait…a great cry of ”Bakunin!” arose. Bakunin was no speaker if by that word it meant a man who can satisfy a literary and educated public…but he was a popular orator, and he knew how to talk to the masses… the most remarkable feature of his oratory was that it was multi-lingual. His short hatchet like phrases contributed to make quite an impression.”
Born in the Russian principality of Tver, on May 30, 1814, Bakunin, although not the skilled academic, understood and used to his advantage the power of words and his oration began to set his legend in motion. His choice of words were those of the man of the streets, of the factories, of the direct feelings of the time not said aloud by those being crushed by the knee to the neck of unchecked Capitalism.
However, the words of Bakunin did not seek a reasoned, nor subtle solution, as did Marx, for Bakunin already espoused only one revolutionary tool that he guaranteed to his packed audiences of workers and secret organizations- far too simply– would bring their emancipation from the absolutists: today’s globalists.
Bakunin preached, rationalized and demanded direct action by the proletariat worker against the bourgeoisie of the status quo. To do so, his preferred means of organizing was to develop very secret groups that were significantly attached to his thinking. However, Bakunin’s love for secrecy meant that many a Bakuninist aligned group did not know of the existence of another. He lent his name, support and image to many across his travels of Europe. He viewed violence and nothing else as the sole means for these groups to achieve revolutionary change. With his articulation of a different revolutionary ideology Bakunin supported, condoned and on many occasions orchestrated the use of his favourite, yet singular, revolutionary weapon.
As described by Marx historian Otto-Maenchen-Helfen,
‘’His [Bakunin] was the hatred that drove peasants to burn down castles and cities…without exception including, schools, libraries, and Museums. [To him] mankind must not just return to the middle ages, but to the very beginning, and from there the history of man must begin again.’’
Bakunin turned this statement into the simple but easily understood alternative to developing Marxist influence: Anarchy. He expanded on this chosen path in great detail in his most famous work, ”Statism and Anarchy.”
Although Bakunin respected Marx he viewed his theoretical path as having one serious consequence: ‘’Theorizing was bound to paralyse the worker’s reactionary will and spirit for destruction, which for him was the only creative spirit required.’’
Not surprisingly, Marx never entertained nor supported such incendiary fantasies.
Some twenty-five years after arriving fatefully in Berlin both the doctrines of these two passionate men, who so deliberately championed two different paths to the same populist goal, would be put to a very practical test on the blood-soaked streets of Paris.
As the academic reputation of Marx eventually transcended Europe, Bakunin was the stuff of legend in the underground world of a simmering revolution. During the Dresden uprising of 1849, he had been arrested and sentenced to death by a Saxon court and when extradited to Austria was again given the death penalty. When next he was carted off to Russia he then spent five years in solitary confinement at the inescapable fortress of Petropavlovsk, known as the ‘’Peter and Paul” prison, in St. Petersburg. Here insurrectionists such as he who were not put to death ultimately wished that they had been.
After many years and having lost all his teeth to scurvy Bakunin reportedly begged his brother for a poison to end it all. Eventually, after five years he was moved to Schlusselburg prison where he continued to languish for three more.
A changing of Russian oligarchs from Czar Nicolas I to Alexander II set Bakunin on his mythical path to freedom. His mother had been writing to the Czar for years pleading for mercy for her son. Bakunin himself sent an impassioned letter to the new czar disavowing his activism and his cause. Alexander granted an audience to Bakunin at which time, according to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in “The Gulag Archipelago,” the broken prisoner reportedly grovelled (Bakuninists insist this was merely his cunning) at the Czar’s feet with such emotional abandon that Alexander decided to exile Bakunin to Tomsk in eastern Siberia instead.
Bakunin had been born into the remnants of Russian royalty and luckily was visited by his second cousin, General Count Nikolay Muravyov-Amursky, who had been governor of Eastern Siberia for ten years. Muravyov was a liberal and Bakunin, as his relative, became a particular favourite. In the spring of 1859, he helped Bakunin win a job with the Amur Development Agency which allowed him to move with his wife to Irkutsk, the capital of Eastern Siberia
After some time, this job allowed him letters of transit for business within Siberia. This ability to limited travel proved of great benefit to the willy Bakunin. Fantastically, on June 5, 1861, while travelling from Irkutsk to Nikolaevsk he begged passage from the American captain of the US Vickery and thus slipped down the Olga river to freedom right under the watchful eyes of the Russian navy, with the Russian council also with him on board!
On Aug 6, Bakunin made Hakodate, Japan then took passage to Yokohama and next to New York, spending several months where his reputation also preceded him. At the end of 1861, he arrived first in Liverpool, England and was immediately off to the bastion of revolutionary freedom: London.
During his twelve-year absence since Bakunin’s initial arrest in 1849 and deportation to Russia, the need for revolution across Europe continued to fester. When he finally returned to London, Marx was also in residence for his safety. Bakunin’s fame as a revolutionary was now increased exponentially across the breadth of the growing revolution.
Incredibly, Bakunin had returned. He was ready to renew the fight of the revolution his way. The only revolutionaries Bakunin was interested in having at his side were those with a heart and a mind for violence. Hence, he had no use for the meter of Marx’s influence. Not one bit.
Bakunin set his sights on destroying the most powerful Marx inspired revolutionary organization; the “International Working Men’s Association’’ and the influence of Marx.
‘’The plan was to form a state within a state of the International…There was to be a three-story pyramid, with the international at the base, his Alliance [of secret Bakunist groups] on top of that, with Bakunin the ‘’invisible dictator’’ at the pinnacle.’’
For, to this man of prescribed violence, although Marx and the International did see violence as necessary to revolution, the political means of the International simply were not violent enough.
However, the practical test of these two men’s doctrines for social change would not be fought at the rostrum of the General Council of the International in London. This fight would be proven on the bloody corpse strew streets of faraway Paris.
The Polarity of Revolution.
“Revolutions are not rebellions”
– Chalmers Johnson
By the time that Bakunin had returned from America to the safety of London in late1861 the long-term efforts of Marx and the organizational skills of other socialist leaders had made the ‘‘International” the leading revolutionary organizational force across Europe . The International served to articulate the struggle to the masses since, said Marx ‘’the emancipation of the working class must be the work of the working class itself.’’
The American Marxist misses this all-important goal of true revolution, what this author in, “The Day American Activism Died,” described as the First Rule of Democracy.
Marx, whose reputation in revolutionary circles had few other equals by this time, had shunned organizations that sought merely to take advantage of his name on their masthead, in the manner that BLM, Antifa and their ilk do today. The goals of the International were instead, then, very much in keeping with a full understanding of Marx’s writings and his fervour that saw the International actually gain powerful membership within a rapidly growing number of regional chapters across Europe. The General Council of the International had long before provided autonomy to its satellites. In fact, Marx wrote to Dr Ludwig Kugelman on Feb. 23, 1865, that via this de-centralization “the success of the international had exceeded [his] expectations in London, Belgium, Paris, Switzerland and Italy.”
The growth of the International now benefited from this autonomy. As of this decision of the 1866 Congress of the General Council, the International had grown from just England, France, Germany and Switzerland to also see the participation of America, Austria, Belgium, Spain and Italy by 1869. By that time the regional chapters reported four hundred and forty-three thousand members in France and England boasted two hundred and thirty-five sections with ninety-five thousand members. Further success was tabulated from its most recent member, Belgium, that already totalled two hundred sections and sixty-four thousand members.
These facts belie, of course, the oft-repeated refrain that Marx wanted to maintain personal control of the International from London and therefore was the progenitor of the
eventual authoritarian Communist Central Committees. This charge is false as Marx said often that he,
’had become convinced that great workers organizations, able to develop freely within their own country, associated with the class movement as a whole would find the right way in the end, however much they might vacillate or go astray’’
Not so for Bakunin. His many secret groups under his wing across Europe remained for a time also members of the International. Bakunin had first met Marx at an international Democratic banquet in the Paris of 1844 and very much admired him, not only for his mind but also for his very similar dedication the same cause. Bakunin, however, defined his singular position early, stating in 1945 that he dreamed of ‘a giant bonfire of London, Paris and Berlin.’’
However, by 1865 the International was having actual success. Not the dying embers of Bakunin’s tamped down pipe dreams.
The European governments in which the International’s membership continued to grow began to feel its new power and effect. No more so than in England which at the time was the dominant powerhouse economy and also the best example of Trade Union power which was often in concert with the General Council. So powerful had the International become, without yet having direct political power, that the mere threat of calling a strike was often “sufficient for the company under threat to settle the worker’s demands.’’
Contrast these deliberate, metered and hard-won successes of tangible rising revolution with the American faux-revolutionaries roaming its streets in an angry, violent but utterly ineffective multi-coloured fashion show of Mad Maxian theatre. These delusionary groups, although skilled at breaking things, intimidating the weak, and the successful operation of a Bic lighter can barely muster a protest group larger than an average, music thumping, drug-addled, inner-city rave.
None of America’s “Marxists” could elicit a local, much less national, union strike because they lack the broad-based support- and respect– necessary from the majority. Despite their having very large and seemingly ever replenished war chests for their brand-named carnage, BLM and the other ethno-activists offer-up only a hodgepodge of political demands and revolutionary snippets that have no popular broad-based appeal, much less effective organization. Nor any basis whatsoever in true Marxism.
As the polar rift between Bakunin and Marx grew and new factions developed within the International that favoured the direct action of Bakunin, many in the lead-up to Paris began to ignore the more metered approach of Marx’s leadership.
Of particular division was the decision of the International- after Marx’s change of heart- that its widespread influence was now strong enough across Europe to begin to be used in a directly political manner against the absolutists within their own halls of power. That this new political direction was and could be part and parcel of real revolution was, however, heresy to Bakuninists and many socialists alike. Ultimately, Marx and the International, via vociferous debate at the General Council, formally favoured this essential inclusion.
Bakunin and his followers who desired more immediate reaction detested this decision and cast it out wholesale as anathema to their direct approach as anarchists. As the intuitive Marx would soon realize, this Bakuninist membership had another secret agenda: The overthrow of the International.
The Paris Commune [Born: March 18, 1871- Died: May 28, 1871]
“There is nothing more demoralizing than a small but adequate income.”
― Edmund Wilson.
The debacle of revolutionary hope that became the Paris Commune blockade, like the lives of Marx and Bakunin, has been the subject of voluminous written documentation, analysis and debate and it is not the intention here to gnaw upon this triumvirate of history much further. What is important is that this moment in time was in fact also a parable for the need for, and failures of, all but true revolution, organization and timing.
As the Franco-Prussian war drew to a close in 1870 with the siege of Paris by the German forces and the eventual French Army’s surrender a new but inverse siege against the French Army, the Paris Commune blockade, was about the begin.
Prior to his re-emergence, Bakunin’s exile and escapades had continued to reach the respectful ears of Europe’s revolutionaries and upon his return in 1861, this allowed Bakunin immediate re-entry to virtually all revolutionary organizations including the International despite his devout allegiance to anarchy. Seeming to mellow within the many articles he authored in absentia, upon his return, and with Europe’s revolutionary passions increasingly raging, Bakunin and his followers were in no mood for the vagaries of political inclusion. Hence, they vehemently opposed Marx on this issue, and thus Bakunin began his secret efforts to take over, or at the very least negate, the power of Marx and the metered approach by the General Council of the International in London.
As Marx, and later Chalmers Johnson, would define, a revolution- not rebellion– requires much more than mere violent resistance within that rebellion.
Black Lives Matter and their supposed American revolutionary brethren would have the public believe that their many blockades of downtown American cities such as Portland and Seattle are being conducted in a revolutionary Marxist fashion similar to the Paris Commune. While it is true that Bakunin and Marx both wrote favourably in support of the Paris Commune uprising, both privately understood the difference between the circumstances of that rebellion and the true requirements and timing of revolution. Marx however, took heart publicly, saying,
‘’The French government has done what we have so long wanted-turned the political question of empire into a question of life and death for the working man.’’
Has not the American government not done exactly that today?
Although compelled to preach favourably of the Paris rebellion under penalty of the death knell of hypocrisy, both Bakunin and Marx had their reasons to very privately predict its failure. And fail it did. Horribly.
Marx, as a theologian of revolution to the ham-fisted Bakunin, knew what he refused to admit in print: Yes, a rebellion of its own could create changes, but no revolution could come to its fruition of full systemic change without the full support and inclusion of what he titled the ‘’petty bourgeoisie’’- the lower middle clas s- joining in arms with the proletariat of that revolution.
Today’s American Middle class, or what is left of it, is certainly and without question lacking the weight of its own political inclusion.
Well, so far.
Bakunin previously had had his own awakening regarding the inclusion of “The First Rule of Democracy,” an awakening that once again almost cost him his life as in Germany, Austria and Russia before, only this time in Lyons, France.
In the throes of re-establishing himself after his return and having heard the underground news that a rebellion was planned for Lyons, France, Bakunin who, like Marx was often penniless, arrived three days late, he feared, after scraping up train fare. He, in fact, made it on time renewing his past acquaintances with the likes of fellow anarchist Eugene Varlin as all prepared for battle.
Lyon was a lesson that revolutionary zeal as a substitute for revolutionary timing was, sadly, not merely good enough for victory. The French legions utterly and ruthlessly crushed those in the streets of Lyons within hours. Bakunin, like Varlin, only barely escaped a renewed death sentence.
As he looked on from his refuge on the Swiss border in Le Locle, France towards the rising passions in Paris, the age, the miles, the deprivations, and the horrors endured in favour of the ever-smouldering hope of this revolutionary- a man, like Marx, cast out by the society he doggedly hungers to change- showed on the carved and heavily leathered face of Mikhail Bakunin. His life’s experience had turned to private wisdom, one that for the first time admitted to himself failure. His brethren, these Paris “Communards,” despite their passion and sacrifice were, like Lyons, doomed to the fate of the ultimate sacrifice: Shackles… or the wall.
Chalmers Johnson, expanding on Marx’s requirements for revolution maintained:
“Of all the accelerators, highest is military defeat in war: Russian and Chinese revolutions, for example. Unsuccessful wars dissolve militaries.”
However, Johnson added, in a phrase that was to define the crux of the Paris Commune failure,
’Revolutionary violence must attack the central seat of power. Elites who have full control of the armed forces are impregnable. Thus, a study of the troops is important.’’
Johnson’s analysis was, in retrospect to Paris, spot on.
Mere months before, the French Army of Louis Napoleon Bonaparte (Napoleon’s nephew who titled himself Napolean III) had been soundly defeated after his ill-fated ego-driven march into Prussia. Paris was next besieged and then mercilessly bombarded into surrender by 100mm and 250mm German cannon fire of some 600 shells per day and night for weeks. In surrender, the French army had been disarmed. Importantly, however, the nearly 380,000 strong French national guard had not.
Before the German flames tore through Paris the passions of the French people for revolution against the French government, now seated in Versailles, were already white-hot after years of Louis Bonaparte’s despotic rule. His broken promises of a new republic had much further impoverished the vast majority of the Parisian workers and their families. The increased economic austerity brought upon Paris and France by Napoleon’s military adventurism had bankrupted the state and the population. With each German cannon blast, the world of Paris wanted him as dead as did German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck.
When Napoleon was captured at the Battle of Sedan in late 1870 and the French army next surrendered, with the absence of an armed French national army in Paris, the time was right for what was seen, just as wrongly as in Portland and Seattle, revolution.
The differences are quite marked.
Bakunin is rightfully given little credit for organizing the Paris rebellion since he could not penetrate the French army perimeter. Without his presence, a tête-à-tête between the many established revolutionary factions and their theorists all entrenched together by fate in Paris would be put to passionate debate and an ultimate vote of the newly formed Central Committee of the National Guard, its new democracy.
Many revolutionary factions sought to prevail in leadership in Paris. Besides the influence of Marx and Bakunin, these included Blaquists, the Jacobins, and remnants of the once powerful Proudhonists. One of these leaders included Eugene Varlin, the diehard anarchist and Bakunin’s closest contact within Paris since their first encounter at the Bale Conference of 1869. Varlin, like the people of Paris, after years of deprivation supported the blockade that took over Paris in defence of Versailles. Varlin’s editorial leadership of the most influential revolutionary newspaper in Paris, Marseillaise, and his tireless work in support of the revolution that included free food kitchens for the poor put his name in the minds of many within the Communards.
Contrast this dedication with that of BLM or Antifa that lack any substantial local support at all, nor, apparently, the ability to read beyond a fifth-grade level.
Varlin, the Bakuninist anarchist, although respected greatly and given command of three defensive regiments, was not to prevail his mantra of anarchy at the election for Paris’ leadership. It was the Blanquists- the followers of Louis Auguste Blanqui – who substantially prevailed with Blanqui elected president. Blanqui, similar to Bakunin had spent almost half his life in prison for his beliefs. He, although also favouring direct action by the proletariat against the government from Paris, was closer to Marx in understanding the combined use of politics, popular support, and violence. However, his own blind decisions lead to his orders to have the Communards, on April 3, march on Versailles, a decision that the outnumbered French Army cut down mercilessly.
This necessary revolutionary combination has in modern times proved successful in South Africa with the ANC and Northern Ireland under the IRA. Nether would have won their revolutions without the equal dosage of the three. As Chalmers Johnson correctly added,
“Revolutions testify to incredible dissatisfaction with society. People are not inherently mutinous. Violence is nothing more than reason exasperated.”
But all these leaders failed to appreciate the fundamental Marxist strategy that first requires that the timing of revolution incorporate the willingness of both the proletariat and the petty bourgeoisie to come together in collective oppositional power. Yes, the circumstances certainly dictated opportunity in Paris and these passionate leaders could not be blamed for seizing upon what was a superior opportunity for a rebellion, but not for revolution.
In the end, their passions and those of the Paris National Guard did not penetrate the rank and file of the proletariat or the French Army.
Varlin, Blanqui and the Paris Communards had over 380,000 man well-stocked militia of national guard made up of 260 battalions’ of 1500 men each, with an existing command structure still in place that was willing to act in concert with this new leadership. Contrast this yet again with the tepid American “revolutionaries” whose only military prowess is the strange passivity of each state’s national guard in not decimating these miserable, lazy, mercenary rabble before tea time.
Marx knew that with the French government still in political control in Versailles, the paid-for French army was easily rearmed and still willing to do its bidding. After its humiliating defeat just months before at the hands of the Germans, the French Army was simply salivating to deliver a beating. The lightly trained, although passionate national guardsmen were no match for the well trained, battle seasoned, and very angry war veterans who had just lost a war of attrition in defending their country. This army and its government were not going to see it happen, again, in Paris.
Bakunin who, like Marx, was forced to watch developments from afar and had wanted to be in Paris to direct his ideology. Marx, himself desperate to influence and advise the participants towards possible victory sent over two hundred letters to his many contacts in Paris, however, he was largely in the dark and without any effective communication at all. His one solid and secret contact within the Communards, the shoemaker, Auguste Serrailler, was either not writing back or his replies intercepted. Outbound communication from within Paris was limited to a carrier pigeon, balloon, or by floating weighted balls down the Seine in desperate hope. Marx continued to write to the revolutionary forces, those much more aligned with his metered political approach because he, although jaundiced, saw opportunity in Paris as they did.
Without the support of the majority of France, without the support of the full military or at least the proletariat within its ranks, and without the support of at the petty bourgeoisie, the Paris Commune, although a great show of will and angst by the people, had not a chance as a real revolution and was simply a short rebellion that accomplished little. Sure, there were some changes...the crumbs tossed to the still hungry and desperate by the same system these Communards had hungered to replace. And failed.
Marx was correct. The equation for revolution was not correct in Paris, nor France, and hence neither was its revolutionary timing.
To the bombastic and myopic Bakunin who privately predicted the commune’s downfall defeat was not of importance, since the resultant violence within Paris had already showcased his goals. “In perishing let them burn down at least half of Paris,” he wrote. When he heard of the flames consuming the historic Paris Tuileries, Bakunin remarked with glee, slamming his hand on the pub table while beaming,
“Well, my friends!” he exclaimed, “the Tuileries are in flames. I’ll stand a punch all round!”
But the burning of history is much like the useless burning of books. Neither has the effect of removing the quest for freedom- or the chains of capitalist oppression- forever from the minds of those still shackled. Those leaders of men will, by history and conscience rise again and again until those with power, those absolutists, are themselves finally put up against the wall: the wall of righteous populist outrage…and vengeance!
In the end, as summer approached Paris long ago, what was a necessary dream fought for by so many turned next into slaughter.
After two months, on the night of Sunday, May 21 after French army intelligence discovered an undefended flank in the barricade within hours 60,000 troops entered and established their forces. The narrow streets of Paris had been for centuries a defensive quagmire for invaders, but the rabid troops merely blasted directly through the walls of the crowded four-storey terrace homes, heading for their target: the wide-open boulevards of downtown Paris.
In the end, the revolutionary carnage and remnants of the Paris resistance were all too clear. The best estimates put the Army’s death toll at not quite 900 with 2,200 wounded. The revolutionaries were decimated. 7-8,000 dead and due to the necessity of escape an untold number of wounded that exceeded 20,000. Of the 7000 plus, many ended their revolutionary days facing, not a positive future for them and their families, but a stone wall and one final bullet of French authoritarian capitalism.
Bakunin bemoaned the disaster, writing, “Farewell all our dreams of eminent emancipation. There will be a crushing and overwhelming reaction.”
In this, he was correct as the reaction of Versailles across France set that revolution back a half-century from what might have been that day, and what it would produce as modern socialist France.
This attack upon the alleged Marxist miscreants of today must in no way juxtapose itself as an indictment of the Communards. No. These brethren and hardworking champions of a collective common cause of man are themselves the indictment, by comparison, of the Marxist fools wandering utterly lost on the streets of America. Yes. Paris lost. But they tried until their deaths a path that they knew could be successful; one that would ultimately prove victorious-for a time- across much, much more of the civilized world than Paris: A world, then, as equally ravaged by Capitalism as it is, far and wide, today.
Excoriating the Modern American Marxist.
“You only have power over people as long as you don’t take everything away from them. But when you’ve robbed a man of everything, he’s no longer in your power—he’s free again.” ― Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
Capitalism has, once again, left precious few crumbs for the American worker. Revolution must begin anew. So, says history past. So, said Marx.
As this quick study of correct methodical revolution and true Marxism continues into the next article, and we look just as carefully at other American faux-Marxists- t hose taking up space in the US congress-these distinctions so far stated are just as important. To look at America’s equally misguided political Marxists, such as the self-proclaimed “Squad” of New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Minnesotan Ilhan Omar, Massachusetts’ Ayanna Pressley, and Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib in similar reflection, is to see them as similarly doomed to failure at their own hand.
Without the willingness to marshal the revolutionary resources served to them by an almost completely disenfranchised American proletariat and petty bourgeoisie- the growing ranks of the lower- and middle-class majority- and properly champion correct Marxism in the long game, they, too, will soon be revolutionarily irrelevant.
Paris went down in flames, but within a decade to follow those embers would never die in the hearts of true men of courage. May these words about what was Paris rip the mask off the American dulled faces.
“The revolution made progress, not by its immediate tragicomic achievements but by the creation of a powerful, united counter-revolution, an opponent in combat with whom the party of overthrow ripened into a really revolutionary party.”
Away from America, this day, revered revolutionaries stand tall as sentinels of socialism in the streets of socialist Denmark, France, Germany, Austria, Sweden, the Netherlands and other socialist countries that still hold their middle finger proudly at the face of unchecked Capitalism. The social democrats of Sweden have been the predominant force since 1889 and founder Per Alpin Hansson was prime minister from 1932-46. What would have become of today’s socialist Germany and France without the foundational efforts of Jean Jaures (1859-1914) and Leon Blum (1872-1950) or the subsequent influence of the “Spartacus League” founded by Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) and Karl Liebnecht? Once socialist Britain would not have brought the worker out of poverty and created it vaunted NHS free health care without the leadership Aneurin Bevan (1887-1950) or Clemente Attlee (1883-1967). Would Roosevelt’s New Deal or Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society have come to pass in the US without the writings and activism of Eugene Debbs? (1855-1926)
All these revolutionaries were dipped in pure Marx. They did not bastardize his life into authoritarian rule, but instead worked in similar dedication for years to combine his fundamentals into what has been correctly branded as “social-democracy,” an ongoing national obligation that is anathema to the capitalist piggies…because it has worked!
So, to America’s Bakuninists thus correctly defined- those who have and will soon suffer the same consequences of taking Marx’s name in vain- might you now learn from history, instead of prostituting it. Might you finally find the sincerity and dedication required of your stated cause. Might you not reduce the modern world’s greatest revolutionary to a mere brand name… and might you finally understand the very exacting path and dedication required for final victory. This was told in exacting detail by the man you prostitute with your malicious ignorance, a man whose words and life were spent and sacrificed for his one- and only one- cause…You!
To begin to champion this revolution the timing and dire social circumstances are, by definition, perfect.
The fools now calling themselves Marxists are no more than a malignancy growing upon the back of the dire need for the return to this revolutionary path. Like cancer, they are a virus of Capitalism and must be collectively excoriated, nay eradicated. For they do not serve the people, the revolution, nor Marxism. They serve, like Stalin, Lenin, and Mao, only themselves. Like Mikhail Bakunin, they must be, for the good of this revolution- and that of civilized man- wiped forever from the minds of history like an inconvenient statue...to failure.
For, as assessed by the original Marxist, himself, so early in his life in 1835, in “Reflections of a Young Man,”
“History calls those men the greatest who have ennobled themselves by working for the common good; experience acclaims as happiest the man who has made the greatest number of people happy.”
Gnaw on these words, now and forever each day, until the marrow of real revolution finally seeps between your teeth … and drips from your rabid lips.
Or die the death of Paris!
About the Author: Brett Redmayne-Titley has published over 180 in-depth articles over the past twelve years for news agencies worldwide. Many have been translated and republished. On-scene reporting from important current events has been an emphasis that has led to his many multi-part exposes on such topics as the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, NATO summit, Keystone XL Pipeline, Porter Ranch Methane blow-out, Hizbullah in Lebanon, Erdogan’s Turkey and many more. He can be reached at: live-on-scene ((at)) gmx.com. Prior articles can be viewed at his archive: www.watchingromeburn.uk