The Internationale was written to celebrate the Paris Commune of March-May 1871: the first time workers took state power into their own hands. They established in the Commune a form of government more democratic than ever seen before. Representatives were mandated on policy questions by their electors, they were recallable at any time and were paid wages that reflected those of their constituents. The Commune was a working body, not a talk shop. The distinction between legislative and executive arms of government was abolished. Marx's Civil War in France is a suberb account of the history and significance of the Commune. The Commune was drowned in blood by the conservative French government in Versailles, cheered on by the ruling classes of the world.
Workers have adopted a similar pattern of organisation whenever they have challenged the capitalist class for state power: in the form of the Soviets in Russia in 1917; collectives in Spain in 1937; the Workers Council of Greater Budapest in Hungary in 1956; the cordones in Chile in 1973; and, in many respects, Solidarity in Poland in 1980.
Internationale | Marxism Page
Original URL http://www.anu.edu.au/polsci/marx/int/internationale.html
Author Rick Kuhn. Last revised 22 May 2011. Feedback form