Greetings to the French workers on the occasion of the 21st anniversary of the Paris Commune

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Author(s) Friedrich Engels
Written 17 March 1892


First published in Le Socialiste, No. 79, March 26, 1892

Published in Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 27
Collection(s): Le Socialiste

London, March 17, 1892

Citizens and citizenesses,

Twenty-one years ago today the people of Paris raised the red flag, in defiance of both the French tricolour flying at Versailles and the German tricolour flying over the forts occupied by the Prussians.

T h e red flag was the Paris proletariat rising to a height from which conquerors and conquered alike disappeared.

What constitutes the historic grandeur of the Commune is its eminently international character. It is the bold challenge which it made to every sentiment of bourgeois chauvinism. The proletariat of all countries was not mistaken. Let the bourgeois celebrate their July 14 or their September 22. The holiday of the proletariat, everywhere and always, will be March 18.

Hence the vile slanders which the vile bourgeoisie has heaped on the tomb of the Commune. But hence, also, the International Association of Working Men, which alone dared to identify itself from the very first day with the Paris insurgents and, until the last day and thereafter, with the defeated proletarians. It is true that where the Commune succumbed, the International was not able to survive: to the cry of “At the Communards!” it was smashed from one end of Europe to the other.

Well! Twenty-one years have passed since the recapture of the cannons on the hill of Monmartre.3 T h e children born in 1871 have now reached their majority, and thanks to the stupidity of the ruling classes they are soldiers, learning to handle arms, the art of organising themselves and defending themselves, gun in hand. The Commune which they claimed to have killed, the International which they imagined they had wiped out forever, are here in our midst, alive and twenty times more powerful than in 1871. Those responding to our call have grown from hundreds into thousands, and from thousands into millions. The union of the world proletariat, which the First International was able to predict and prepare, is today a reality. And, what is more, the sons of the Prussian soldiers who occupied the forts surrounding the Paris of the Commune in 1871 are today fighting in their millions in the front line, side by side with the sons of the Communards; for the complete and lasting liberation of the working class.

Long live the Commune!

Long live the International Social Revolution!

Fred. Engels