Readers of this space are, by now, familiar with my interest in the defense of class-war prisoners and, perhaps, know that I express that interest through support to the efforts of the Partisan Defense Committee (PDC). One of the reasons for that support of the PDC is its commitment to the non-sectarian defense of all class-war prisoners, a tradition in which it follows the old Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, Wobblies) principle expressed in the slogan, “an injury to one is an injury to all.” That principle also animated the early James P. Cannon-led work of the International Labor Defense, the legal defense arm of the American Communist Party and of the early legal defense work of the Trotskyist American Socialist Workers Party.
Perhaps not as well known, although it would seem axiomatic to their theories, is the even earlier class-war prisoner defense work of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels as an expression of their concept expressed in the slogan “workers of the world unite.” In no place was this work more ardently pursued that in their defense against all-comers of the Paris Commune during its short, historic existence and later, after it was crushed of its refugees, exiles, prisoners and their families. Much of this work was done early on through the Marx-created and led First International, and after its demise in the wake of that defeat through other Marx-influenced national organizations. I am posting some material here to provide some examples of their efforts.
The important point here is that, to my knowledge, there was, at most, only one proclaimed Marxist in the leadership of the Commune, and not much more adherence among the plebeians and artisans who heroically defended the Commune. So, mostly, those being defended by Marx and Engels were leftist political opponents, in some cases, severe political opponents. That approach is what has animated my own legal defense work and, hopefully, yours. Here, by the way, is another slogan to end this comment, fittingly I think-All Honor To The Paris Communards! Long Live The Memory Of The Paris Commune!