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 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 opponent, 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!
International Working mens Association 1872
Resolutions of the Meeting held to celebrate the Anniversary of the Paris Commune
Source: MECW, Volume 23, p. 128;
Written: by Marx between March 13 and 18, 1872;
First published: in La Liberté, March 24, 1872 and in The International Herald, March 30, 1872;
Transcribed: by Andy Blunden.
“That this meeting assembled to celebrate the anniversary of the 18th March last, declares, that it looks upon the glorious movement inaugurated upon the 18th March, 1871, as the dawn of the great social revolution which will for ever free the human race from class rule.”
“That the incapacity and the crimes of the middle classes, extended all over Europe by their hatred against the working classes, have doomed old society no matter under what form of government-Monarchical or Republican.”
“That the crusade of all governments against the International, and the terror of the murderers of Versailles as well as of their Prussian conquerors, attest the hollowness of their successes, and the presence of. the threatening army of the proletariat of the whole world gathering in the rear of its heroic vanguard crushed by the combined forces of Thiers and William of Prussia.”