Primary Source Topic # 3: Karl Marx’s Journalism

For Marx, the bloodshed of the June days shattered the fraternal illusions of February 1848, when the king had been overthrown and the provisional government established. That bloodshed also symbolized a new stage in history: one of acute class conflict.

The last official remnant of the February Revolution, the Executive Commission, has melted away, like an apparition, before the seriousness of events. The fireworks of Lamartine [French Romantic poet and member of the provisional government] have turned into the war rockets of Cavaignac [French general, in charge of putting down the workers’ insurrection]]. Fraternite, the fraternity of antagonistic classes of which one exploits the other, this fraternite, proclaimed in February, on every prison, on every barracks–its true, unadulterated, its prosaic expression is civil war, civil war in its most fearful form, the war of labor and capital. This fraternity flamed in front of all the windows of Paris on the evening of June 25, when the Paris of the bourgeoisie was illuminated, whilst the Paris of the proletariat [Marxist term for the working people] burnt, bled, moaned….The February Revolution was the beautiful revolution, the revolution of universal sympathy, because the antagonisms, which had flared up in it against the monarchy, slumbered peacefully side by side, still undeveloped, because the social struggle which formed its  background had won only a joyous existence, an existence of phrases, for words. The June revolution is the ugly revolution, the repulsive revolution, because things have taken the place of praises, because the republic uncovered the head of the monster itself, by striking off the crown that shielded and concealed it.–Order! was the battle of Guizot…Order! shouts Cavaignac, the brutal echo of the French National Assembly and of the republican bourgeoisie. Order! thundered his grapeshot, as it ripped up the body of the proletariat. None of the numerous revolutions of the French bourgeoisie since 1789 was an attack on order; for they allowed the rule of the class, they allowed the slavery of the workers, they allowed the bourgeois order to endure, however often the political form of this rule and of this slavery changed. June has attacked this order. Woe to June!

Karl Marx, The Class Struggles in France (New York, 1964), 57-58.

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Post your response here to one of the ten questions one can ask of a primary source. Remember to ensure that the question hasn’t already been answered by one of your classmates. The only time you can re-answer a question is if you respectfully disagree with their answer. In that case, reply to their response, refer to them using their last name, and be polite.

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Blog Response – Due November 5

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